Located 115 miles south of San Francisco and 350 miles north of Los Angeles is the beautiful northern California coastal community of Monterey. The name of the city may not seem familiar but it is home to a fantastic array of natural attractions, historical significance, cultural venues, and sports events which may arouse some stirring within. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to see the bay in 1542, but the name “Monte Rey Bay” was given by Sebastian Vizcaino, the first European to set foot on these shores. This is where California began its statehood in 1850. Since then, Monterey has prospered greatly as a peaceful city with a high quality of life, benefitting from many industries – not least important is tourism. From its spectacular coastlines to a lush urban forest and wonderful gardens, there are many things to see and do when visiting Monterey. The Monterey Jazz Festival is here, along with Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Atop the vibrant coastal cliffs sits Pebble Beach Golf Links. By the way, have you ever tasted Monterey Jack Cheese? But one of the most significant treasures of this area is below sea level, or rather consumed by it: the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, just one of numerous local outlets for sport fishing and recreational angling.
The prehistoric Remsen Ohlone tribe prospered as hunter-gatherers from the local wilderness and especially the waters. They learned to fish to their stomachs’ content from the banks of the Carmel River to bountiful Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Other local areas that feature easier access include Cachagua Community Park and Los Padres Reservoir in Caghagua, Marina State Beach and Open Space Preserve in Marina, and Arroyo Seco Recreation Area on the edge of the Ventana Wilderness. From Sea Bass and Stripers along the coast to Salmon and Tuna farther out, a host of charters around Monterey Harbor’s world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf will take you to the best angling action. Many of these charters include or otherwise offer whale watching excursions and cruises. Prices are highly competitive and affordable during all season.
Monterey’s local charter boats and guides provide trips from half to full-day, along with some twilight, and a few overnight choices. Shorter, half-day trips into Monterey Bay, to depths up to 100 feet, bring you to a variety of what the locals call “Sand Dab”. These small, tasty flat fish are perfect targets for family outings, less experienced anglers, or the younger crowd. Some Mackerel may even jump on the line in the process. Rock and Ling Cod are abundant from July through December along with other species, like Olives, Coppers, and Vermillions. These will be found between 30 and 100 feet depths, along the coast, during longer trips lasting between six and eight hours. April through September is Salmon season, and Chinook have travelled thousands of miles by this time, to spawn inland past the bay. Good numbers are available all season, averaging around 20 pounds in weight, with larger specimens – up to 70 pounds – showing up, fashionably, later. Coho run by these shores also, doubling the odds at a good haul. Snapper trips are most popular in these parts, usually lasting eight to nine hours; with the good habit of staying out as long as it takes everyone to fill their limit. July through November is prime season for Albacore Tuna. These fast-moving, strong, determined fighters will require some investment of time – usually 12 to 14 hours, or until your own muscles and will give out first. Twilight Snapper and Cod trips leave the docks from June through September, for heartier anglers who enjoy fishing beneath the moon.
With so much action on the water around Monterey one can nearly forget about all the excitement, attraction, and beauty on the other side of the spectacular coastline. Try and remember to look around while you are here, especially from the water. You never know if your boat is being visited by sea otters, seals, or larger animals, like the giant blue whales from summer through fall, or gray whales who visit during winter and spring, and even pods of killer whales. Once you get back to land take part in a night out on the town and enjoy some of the popular cuisine or arts and cultural events. Then rest up enough to meet a new morning on the water