Using rockfish as bait...

Ken Jones

Staff member
Just to be clear, I corrected some of posts (spelling, etc.) and I am pretty sure kaster was a youngster.

Date: November 11, 2001
To: PFIC Message Board
From: kaster
Subject: S
anta Cruz wharf

There were a good number of people fishing today. I caught a small rock crab and about 10-15 small rockfish (used for bait). There was this one couple that caught about 20-30 fish when I got there. I don’t know how much there total was though. They caught mostly perch and croaker they where the only people catching them. I got kind of mad about how much fish they caught. I should have said something because I don’t think its legal to have so much fish. Anyways there wasn’t much other fish being caught that I know of.
-Kevin , Make your reels go zzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

Posted by crazyguy

Kaster, do you know exactly what kind of fish they caught? Most likely they were shinerperch, which have no limits on them. Croaker have a 10 fish limit which between the couple, they could possess 20 of them. What kind of rockfish did you catch to use for bait? Did you happen to catch bocaccio and use them as bait? I don't think it is legal to use bocaccio as bait unless they are of legal size.

Posted by lucy

What’s with using rockfish as bait, anyway? There are lots of other fish that can be used as bait, and rockfish are already scarce enough as is. That’s like using baby cabezon for bait!

Posted by castlebravo

I usually keep a couple of small croaker or smelt for bait, I Usually catch a smelt or two while surf fishing.

Posted by Dan V

Kevin, While it's good of you to be concerned about the number of fish OTHER people are catching, you might consider catching baitfish—anchovies, sardines, smelt or shiner perch for bait instead of using juvenile rockfish as bait. Also those rockfish you used are counted as part of your limit of rockfish, which is 10.

Posted by crazyguy

At Santa Cruz, there is almost ALWAYS some type of baitfish. Shiners, anchovies, sardines, smelt, and some mackeral. Just take a Sabiki rig, and drop it down and jig it and you should get baitfish. If you don't, bait up the hooks with a little piece of squid tentacle or squid pieces and you will indefinitely get some baitfish. Good luck. By the way, I'm sure it was a honest mistake about using the rockfish as bait.

Posted by kaster

Actually there was no baitfish at the end of the wharf, just small rockfish; they were very abundant. I let some go and use maybe used 3-5 as bait and let the other ones go. When I got there I went around to see what other people where catching. That couple had a 5 gallon bucket half full of croaker. Later in the day I saw them catching some perch. I don’t know the kind rockfish I caught. I did use a Sabiki rig to catch them.

Posted by snakeman70

Not cool at all. Those were bocaccio and they are in endangered fish! Limit is 2 of at least 10 inches. I have called the DFG on people for doing less damage than you did. Man, what you did really sucks. Cutting up a baby rockfish for bait is not very sportsman like way of fishing. Especially when you can buy a bag of anchovies for 2.50 from Andy’s!

Posted by crazyguy

Snakeman, Don't be so harsh on Kaster. I'm sure it was an honest mistake. He probably didn’t know the limits or anything about bocaccio. Most people don’t know the regs on a lot of fish, much less rockfish. Just watch out Kaster, the DFG aren't as kind.

Posted by Shark Assassin

Baby rockfish...on some of the Long Beach boats, I saw some guys cutting up their small rockfish (3-4”) and using the fillets as bait. I thought this was pretty bad. Although, these were also fish that were not in releasable condition, their eyes were popped out (can’t save them then) and their insides were spit out. (Pop the air bladder—saves ‘em, but if their eyes are popped, there’s no way.)
I myself have never used rockfish as bait, the guys using it were catching some nicer sized rockfish. But, squid strips was doing just as fine.
Kaster, What did the “rockfish” look like? Bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis) have very large mouths, and with the proper know-how, they’re fairly easy to tell apart from a rockfish. BTW-Bocaccio means “large ugly mouth” in Italian.

Posted by kaster

I don’t think they where bocaccio The rock fish didn’t have that big of a mouth. I looked at the mouth of the fish and it kind of looked like scorpionfish. They were like yellowish/reddish colored. I didn’t know about the regs. Because they where so abundant I thought they where ok to use as bait. But now I know not to use them as bait.
-Kevin , Make your reels go zzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

Posted by ORB

Everyone makes mistakes, the important thing is to make sure you learn from them. If it wasn’t for this board you’d be none the wiser, so it's proving its worth yet again.

Posted by Name: gyozadude

So many people are making mistakes identifying bocaccio and using them for baitfish or taking them illegally that DFG explicitly has a picture and id tips in the 2001 handbook. Check out page 53 of the DFG 2001 Regs handbook. It will have a little sketch of a chilipepper and bocaccio. Both are similar in colour, but the bocaccio has a bigger mouth that extends beyond the horizontal extent of the eye. The chilipepper has a more prominent lateral line.

Posted by snakeman70

No excuse. People who did not even bother to glance over the regs should not be fishing. I am so sick of people “Honestly not knowing.” I am sick of people keeping undersized fish or killing fish just for the heck of it, because they didn't know. Every week, there are people sitting at SC with Sabiki Rigs keeping everything they bring up (Baby Bocaccio, Baby Rubberlip Perch, Baby Black and Brown Rockfish, ect.) not even 1 oz. of meat and into the bucket they go or onto the bait board. No, I am not going to lighten up. The Wardens do know about the Bocaccio problem and will cite people keeping them. The DFG does patrol Santa Cruz Wharf, by the way.

Posted by rock it man

I'm with you snakeman. I released more than a few good fish following the (as I see it) correct rule when fishing; “when in doubt, throw it out.” Now I have a DFG publication on fish IDs and a copy of the fishing regs printed and carried with me on every trip. Not only does this keep me from making potentially costly mistakes (doubly costly, for my finances and for the fishery (it allows me to show, in print, where people are going wrong). I can’t blame some people for doubting word-of-mouth.

Posted by Leapin Bass

Rule #1—If you don't know, let it go. There are no excuses. No one is forcing anyone to keep fish.

Posted by baitfish

You can't go wrong with that... If you do not know what kind of fish it was, or are unsure of the reg, release it and catch it another day after you have read the reg’s. When was the last time you told a cop I did not know I could do that, and he said... hmmm ok, well now you do...When you get your drivers license you have to know the rules of the road, when you get your fishing license, same thing applies, without the test...
Adam, Will work for fish!