Workers unload fresh salmon at the Santa Cruz Harbor.
Hans Haveman of H&H Fresh Fish helps unload salmon with H&H employees Logan Mankins and Vince Golder at the Santa Cruz Harbor on Monday.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Environment

Craving fresh salmon? They’re coming in by the boatload at Santa Cruz harbor

The salmon fishery is very carefully managed and is only open in certain areas for certain weeks during the summer. So far, only Monterey Bay has opened—first for May 1-12, and now May 20-27. Fishing boats from all over are now congregating in Monterey Bay and offloading their catch in Santa Cruz.

Looking out at the Santa Cruz harbor on Monday afternoon, Heidi Rhodes, co-owner of H&H Fresh Fish, said she could see three giant trucks, forklifts going back and forth, and boats “just lined up like for hours to offload,” she said. “It’s really wild.”

The cargo coming in by the boatload was salmon: wild-caught, chinook (King) salmon, a precious and fleeting catch, only available in the Monterey Bay for a brief period of time in the summer.

The salmon fishery is very carefully managed and is only open in certain areas for certain weeks during the summer. So far, only Monterey Bay has opened—first for May 1-12, and now May 20-27. Fishing boats from all over are now congregating in Monterey Bay and offloading their catch in Santa Cruz.

Cybelle Priestley, a fisherwoman from Half Moon Bay, just finished a three-day stint on Monday and unloaded almost 100 fish. She expects to make about $10/pound, and with each fish averaging 11 pounds, the three-day trip will net her about $11,000. But it’s unreliable — all her fish were caught the first two days, and the third day she got “skunked.” No fish at all.

Cybelle Priestley unloads freshly caught salmon in the Santa Cruz Harbor on Monday.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz.)

The season got off to a slow start with strong winds keeping the boats in during the initial opening May 1-12, but is now about average, according to Rhodes.

“The price has been high, just because it’s so limited, its highest retail for us it’s ever been,” Rhodes said. But after these most recent hauls, supply is no longer limited, and Rhodes said the price for fishermen would drop somewhat. “Our walk-in is full of salmon,” she said. “The fishing has been good, it’s been healthy, everybody’s catching a lot.”

Fresh, wild-caught local salmon is in-stock at several local grocery stores and fishmongers in addition to H&H Fresh Fish, including The Fish Lady in Capitola, and Shoppers’ Corner.