Bay anglers score best catch numbers in a lifetime

San Francisco Chronicle –

Anglers wait their whole lives for the chance at hooking the numbers of fish that are coming out of the bay and Pacific right now. Striped bass and halibut, salmon and rockfish — the catch counts are once in a lifetime.

Out of Berkeley, the boat Pacific Dream recently brought in 48 striped bass up to 10 pounds, 34 halibut up to 15 pounds among 24 anglers — plus dozens more fish that they caught and released. That’s 127 fish in one go. New Huck Finn out of Emeryville landed 48 striped bass (two-fish limits) and 34 halibut for 24 people. That works out to 82 keepers, or a keeper-size striper or halibut landed every 3 or 4 minutes aboard the boat, on top of all the undersize fish released. Many salmon boats have had limits for all aboard by noon.

“The numbers are the best I have seen in 47 years of running my bait shop,” said Keith Fraser, owner of Loch Lomond Live Bait in San Rafael. “Take a dart and throw it at a chart of the bay. Go where the dart lands and you will catch fish.”

Fraser recalled one moment from the past week. During the morning tide at Red Rock, just south of the Richmond Bridge, what looked “like 80 million birds,” mainly gulls, were diving and feeding on anchovies. On the surface, a horde of striped bass were feeding and splashing. Small boats with two or three anglers were catching and releasing fish nearly every drop with live bait, with catch totals of 50, 60 per boat in the span of a few hours.

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