Salmon & Whales Aboard the New Captain Pete

I took the day off to go-a-salmoning last Friday (Aug. 15) since I heard they were catching them literally right outside the Half Moon Bay Harbor.  I was starting to plan to go kayaking for them with Calvin, but then my mom said she wanted to go.  She asked if she could kayak out…?  Knowing her, noooo.  I’m sure she could make it out of the harbor, but the work only starts then!  Gotta paddle around to cover water right?  So I swapped plans to find a decent charter boat to take us out (sorry Calvin!)

Sort of wanted to try mooching, but couldn’t find a vessel I was comfortable going out on to do so.  After the Lovely Martha experience, I’m a lot more wary about just picking any old boat, even if recommended… The Wacky Jacky captain recommended them, but I later noticed they’re harbor neighbors sooo…take that as you will.

Anyways, you can look that post up if you’re curious exactly how atrocious that trip was.  I finally settled on trying to call the New Captain Pete to check them out.  I seemed to have caught him right as he was fishing, and he had to put down the phone for a short while to get his anglers around some kelp.  Kind of awkward at first, but once everything settled down we had a good chat and scheduled to go out trolling Friday.  Was worried since he said we were the only 2 booked so far, and I asked how many he needed before he’d go out.  He said we’d be going no matter what, even if we were the only ones.  Too good to be true…?

So on Friday, we showed up super early in the morning, signed in…and whoah.  We really were the only 2 paying customers that day!  There was a total of 6 of us I think…but 1 was the captain, one his son, and I think the other two were previous deck hands or something?

Empty cabin yo!

Pretty awesome to get a private salmon charter for only $200.  Don’t get that very often! 😀

Oh fun fact, the captain’s name is also Dennis!  Dennis Baxter.  Fun stuff.  He said that the salmon outside the harbor were pretty scattered (Chris on the Ankeny St also said they were hit or miss) and so he was going to motor all the way up to the channel buoy outside the Golden Gate Brdige and try his luck there.  All the way from Pillar Point Harbor!  Took awhile to get out there, forget how long by now…but long enough for us to get a short nap in ^^

Along the way we got a short lesson on how & why they use wire hooks to rig the anchovies:

salmon rigging
Wire hooks + rubber band & little nail (keeps the bait secure)
Taught by this gentleman

Apparently using the wire gives you a HUGE advantage over one solid piece of hook.  Don’t have a pic unfortunately.  When the salmon’s running around shaking its head, the wire will bend and allow you to keep tension on the line much better than a solid piece of metal.  It matters a bunch since you’re using barbless hooks when going for salmon, and even a second of lost tension could mean a lost fish.

Anyhow, once rigged up, the anchovy looks like this:

how to rig anchovy for salmon
Anchovy for salmon trolling

This one got bit by a salmon.  Exciting!  If I’m remembering correctly, this was the first hit that came a minute or two after dropping our lines!  It was amazing seeing how many people were out there.  I counted 34+ boats in the morning all in the same area.  Forget which boat, but another charter in the area got up to 11 salmon pretty early on.

salmon trolling with Captain Dennis Baxter
1st salmon on New Captain Pete

Scaled out at 34lbs!  But that picture above really doesn’t do it justice…


What a beast of a fish!  Took quite awhile to get it in to the boat too.  He commented on how it nearly won the fight! Heh :]  It was a pretty epic fight too.  Guess I can toss the video compilation here:

You can actually see the salmon jumping during his fight! (his is the first).  It gets its entire body clear out of the water!  Check it out, there’s slow mo!

One of the other guys hooked up and nearly lost a fish as it jumped back out of the net


You can see in the video it jumps right back out of the net XD  Oh!  There were also whales jumping out of the water!  It was pretty awesome, they kept going for 15-20 minutes.  They even turned on their sides and slapped the water with their flippers!  Private charter AND we get whale watching too?  Best deal of my life here!

At some point my mom & I both lost salmon right next to the boat.  We could see them both times T.T  Not sure where we went wrong?  Awhile later, as things had slowed down, thing went from meh to kinda bad.  The coast guard decided they wanted to do a “practice boarding”.  I quote it because that’s what they claimed, but then it turned into a full blown inspection and took up a lot of time

coast guard boarding boat
Getting boarded by the coast guard

Luckily we got to keep trolling, and we even hooked up while they were on board!  I think you can see it in the video.  We’re all just chilling around and the coast guard doing their thing, suddenly yelling from the front!  Fish onnnn


Not too shabby.  Then we got some short strikes

salmon nibbled on our bait

For some reason, we kept missing bites all day.  Many salmon just wouldn’t stick, we would have easily limited out if every bite resulted in a hook up.  Weird day.  Not much action until late.  We needed to leave soon, well…we should have left 10 minutes ago.  But the captain decided to stay out, he said he felt there was one more good salmon out there.  Then finally, finally it was our time!  We had a hook up, I sent my mom to the rod, and we got it near the boat…!  But then my mom’s arms started to give out!  You can hear her in the video calling for me to help her reel in the salmon!  Oh man, pressure’s on!  Hopped on there and 2 manned that salmon into the net, and everyone rejoiced!  Wooooo!

Salmon on the New Captain Pete
Mom made me pose for pictures with her

Yes, I know I look like a major dork.  Thanks.

salmon aboard the new captain pete
our fish’s length
salmon weight on new captain pete
and weight!

And I guess it might help, here’s the spinner we caught the last salmon on:

Didn’t think to look at what the other ones were, sorry :[


All in all though, had a great time!  Wish we didn’t farm those 2 more salmon, but pretty happy with a light load & a 17lb salmon!  Would definitely recommend taking the New Captain Pete out of Half Moon Bay Harbor / Pillar Point Harbor if you get the chance.  Captain & deckhands were all great, and they really do go the extra mile (heh, literally!).  Always extra points to boats who stick it out a little longer for those last fish!  Tell him Dennis sent you, maybe he’ll treat you & me extra nice going forward! d=


Link to the album with many unused pics:

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