2017 update: Due to regulation changes which have opened up deeper water for the first time in almost 15 years in our area, we are concentrating on fishing the newly opened deeper waters due to the quality of fish that are available including extremely large coppers, bolinas and vermillions to name a few. Accordingly, the information below regarding shallow water rockfishing does not currently apply. We are currently using conventional ocean rods and reels, not spinning gear, with 20 to 25 pound test, shrimp flies, squid and one pound weights, give or take. Definitely a change from the shallow water trips described below, but, again, the quality of the fish has been well worth the change. If you have your own gear, be sure to bring the heavier gear we listed above. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call.
The Queen of Hearts specializes in fishing water as shallow as possible depending on conditions along the San Mateo coastline from Montara in the north to Ano Nuevo in the south. Depths range from no more than 180 feet deep to as shallow as 10 feet at times; the average usually runs between 40 to 60 feet. Keep in mind this is the measurement between the bottom of the boat and the ocean's bottom, not where the fish may be suspended.
When conditions permit, anglers revel in the ability of using their whimpy little freshwater trout rods with spinning reels and freshwater bass rods with baitcasters normally foreign to typical ocean fishing. We recommend 12 to 15 pound test line, but the range goes from as little as 8 pound test to the heaviest running about 20 pound. The idea is to use as light of tackle as possible depending on conditions to have the most fun and best sport possible. We always encourage anglers who have their own gear to bring a couple of outfits, one for the shallows and the other when we're fishing the deeper end of the spectrum. The light gear should be something in the range of a fresh water bass rod, like a "flipping" stick with around 12 pound test line, and the heavier outfit a conventional saltwater rod in the 6 to 7 foot range with 20 pound test, give or take.
Upcoming trips and Reservations!
Lure weight is decided by the ocean's deposition, but usually varies from two to eight ounces. Yes, that's right, ounces, not pounds as was used years ago on "deep sea fishing" trips. Once again, items normally reserved for freshwater are consistently thrown at these bottomfish including an array of plastics and hardware, even spinner baits. The good 'ol shrimp fly or super fly lures are a rockfishing staple and should always be part of an angler's rockfishing arsonal. However, some of the other most popular lures used are scampis: split tail plastic grubs with lead heads typically weighing two, four or six ounces. Preferred colors include rootbeer, motoroil, white and purple. Diehard casters also use all kinds of different varieties of iron. Diamond bars, Hopkins, Pt. Wilson anchovies, Salas bars all have their moment.
If you're not convinced about trying shallow water light tackle rockfishing on the Queen of Heart yet, this should do it: Check out the quantity and quality of fish possible. The rockfish limit, which is made up of dozens of species, is 10 fish per angler per day. However, there is an overall bag limit of 20 fish per angler per day. Critters such as lingcod and halibut are counted separately from rockfish.
As will be the case once again this year, we've been running shallow water light tackle rockfishing trips on the Queen of Hearts almost exclusively during the open season on open load trips for years. To give you a feel for a typical season, we ran 119 SWLT trips during one of our previous seasons. Although you don't have to catch limits to have fun, over two-thirds of those 119 trips caught limits of rockfish, and just shy of 90% of all trips caught at least an average of three-quarters to limits. Included in these limits are the coveted Vermillion (red) rockfish, with whoppers which can weigh as much as 10 to 12 pounds, along with the rest of the Half Moon Bay "smorgasbord" of rockfish including china cod, gophers, coppers, bolinas, blacks, blues and an array of other rockfish species. In addition to the rockfish, over 600 lingcod were bagged as well as over 775 cabezon. There's also the chance of hooking into some good size halibut, with most of the halibut weighing in over 10 pounds up to a "barn door" 36 lb. halibut!
Upcoming trips and Reservations!
What if I don't have my own rods, reels and tackle? If you don't have any gear, don't worry. Tackle can be purchased and rods rented the morning of your trip. If you want to bring your own gear, it's up to you: spinning, baitcasting and conventional outfits are all used.