Monterey Bay is home to flourishing marine life, working waterfronts, and a coastal community that relies on our marine resources- including our local, sustainable seafood. Fishermen use a variety of catch methods to target seafood species because of their different depths, sizes, and behaviors. In addition, government regulations are designed to protect target species populations and help determine the gear type used.
In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to the most widely used gear types in Monterey Bay. Please see our Products List to learn catch methods for each species we offer. Here at H&H we care deeply about the health of our oceans and our fishing community. Please do reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We’re here to help!
Rod and reel fishing is exactly what you think it is. It's actually the gear that we've all had in our hands at one point in time—a fishing pole—although this method is much more technical. There are lots of benefits to this type of fishing method including a super low carbon input, low technology demands, and more safety in terms of bycatch (see more below). We don’t often think of this method being used in commercial fisheries. But, a large portion of our H&H seafood products—including white seabass and halibut--are actually caught by fishermen going out to Monterey Bay with simply a rod and reel.
Hook and line is an umbrella term that includes longline, troll, and rod and reel. In Monterey Bay, longlines are often used to catch groundfish, which includes sablefish (aka black cod), rockfish, lingcod, sole, and flounder. For bottom longlines , a fishing line is set up from a buoy that floats on the ocean surface and stretches all the way down to the seafloor. Along the lines are hundreds of baited hooks that “soak,” or are left in the water for a few hours or even an entire day. Deep dropping is another strategy used to catch fish that hang out in large groups at the ocean floor. Deep dropping is often distinguished from bottom fishing because it’s used at greater depths.
Purse seines are names because they look like--you guessed it--a purse. Purse seines are set up on the stern (the back) of a large fishing boat while a smaller boat tows one end of the net that is dragged through the water like a curtain. Both boats work together to form a circle around schooling fish, often squid or sardines. Down at the bottom of the net, the purse line is closed like a purse string cinching closed. This ensures that no fish escape through the bottom (see photo).'
Scottish seines are a combination of nets and lines. They’re used to catch species of groundfish like sole, sand dabs, and flounder. Scottish seines are shaped like a triangle and are slowly dragged by boats along sandy ocean floors. This stirs up mud clouds and shepherds fish along the path of the net in a method known as “fly-dragging.” The net is never towed for very long and this type of gear can be operated by lower powered vessels to minimize fuel consumption.
Trolling is used mainly to harvest King Salmon and other surface species like Tuna. At its core, trolling is a fishing method that involves throwing lines with baited hooks or lures behind a boat and waiting for fish to bite. On larger boats, trolling is automated using hydraulic reels (“gurdies”) to pull in the lines. On smaller vessels, trolling can involve rods, reels and handlines. Trolling requires significant knowledge from fishermen. When targeting King salmon, for example, fishermen have to take into account local water and weather conditions to set up their lines. You can imagine this is difficult when you’re trying to target salmon and albacore, who can swim at depths of 500 feet.
A trawl is a type of net that is towed behind a boat to capture target species. This net is dragged either through the water column or along the seafloor. In Monterey Bay, trawling is commonly used to catch groundfish, which includes sablefish (aka black cod), rockfish, lingcod, sole, and flounder. This method is also used to catch our Gulf Shrimp but has a slightly different setup.
Traps and pots are famously used to harvest crabs, but lots of seafood can be collected this way! In Monterey Bay, traps and pots are used to catch a wide variety of species: Dungeness crab, rock crab, sablefish (aka black cod), spot prawns, nearshore rockfish, and hagfish (aka slime eels). Traps and pots are usually attached by rope to buoys on the sea surface. They come in different sizes and shapes whether they’re rectangular or cone-like. Most often, pots and traps are baited so that target species are lured in and trapped until fishermen bring the gear to the sea surface.