Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno
|Gear: Me 9' surf rod and Daiwa spinning reel (very old rig purchased mid 1990s). 40# braid, 40# mono leader, high-low with 4oz weight and size 1 hooks. Baited with live ghost shrimp, market shrimp, with limpets. Lee: 7' rod with Pflueger spinning reel (purchased 2017). 20# braid, 20# mono leader, high-low with 2 oz or 4 oz weight and size 1 hooks. Bait ghost shrimp or market shrimp. Also same rod and reel but set up for various swim baits.
Surf conditions. Low surf and swell in 1-2' range (shading toward the former). Fishing time 1130 am-3 pm. High tide was about at 1030 am, so fishing during receding tide.
For high-resolution photos of the fish (w same text) see. http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=17294&p=129459#p129459
With my favorite high lakes in the Sierra now either frozen over or rather difficult to reach, it was time to turn to the surf again. The surf report showed 1-2’ waves and swells for the San Mateo to Marin Coast for Sunday 11/19 along with nice fall weather, so my son Lee and I took off for a jetty along the San Mateo coast, our first time to the more crowded one after multiple trips to the less crowded one including Lee’s spectacular April 15 spree and a fairly good visit for both of us on April 21. I was nursing a double November skunk, including a brief fishing effort on Nov. 5 at what is considered northern Shell Beach in Sonoma Co. This was a pocket beach with difficult access, with fairly long approach hike, then scramble down gully between cliffs that I took a few casts at in the course of some geologic research. Five casts, five snags, three lost rigs, one strong strike, and zero fish. Then on Sunday 11/12 I suffered a skunk in our High Sierra closer, losing a huge rainbow (20” or better) while trying to net it, while Lee saved the day by catching two thick rainbows of 16 and 15”.
As we headed out to the jetty I had to own up to the fact that this (2017) has been Lee’s season and he thoroughly outfished me in his first surf fishng season with a running score (after this trip) of 34 to 20, and setting family records for all of our saltwater species caught so far except for rubberlip and pile surf perch. Today I found partial, and likely temporary, redemption for the “older generation”. We arrived at about 11 am and found this jetty super crowded with the vast majority of folks casting for crabs. However, those going for things with fins were doing OK. We saw several people catch nice rockfish and another guy catch a cabbie that was a tad short (looked about 12-13” to me). We had to do quite a bit of rock hopping to get to an open spot and we began the day with Lee fishing swim bait and me going with the usual hi-lo. On most casts I was getting hit but I couldn’t hook ‘em, and this was taking a toll on the primary bait supply which was live ghost shrimp (had backup market shrimp). In the meantime, Lee had switched back to the high-low and soon had a fish on, which was a bit disappointing when he pulled it out of the water. It was a kelpfish, the first either of us had caught, of about 9”, which was quickly released. Neat looking fish, though. In the meantime I was getting tired of the ghost shrimp coming off of the hook so easily, so I decided I’d “cap” my bait with a limpet. Not long after this slight revision to the bait set up I started getting some tapping again. Tap-tap-tap and then two big hits and I “set” the hook (probably already self hooked). I could see I still had a fish on and it felt large, but it soon ran into a hole and was stuck. I shouted that I thought I had a rockfish and I waited for the fish to free itself as I kept a high tension and waited for my chance. After a few seconds of waiting, the rod tip indicated it was free and I reeled in again, but it got stuck again. I waited a few more second and again it was free and I reeled hard and up came a nice cabezon of 16” my first keeper cab, even if a midget compared to Lee’s 22” monster from April.
After a few more casts, we decided to move further out, given that some teenagers had arrived and our spot had become rather crowded (one of them caught a nice grassie soon upon arrival). After relocating we started getting nibbles again. Lee caught another kelpfish and then I caught one. Lee caught a medium sized, but shaker, cab (about 11”) which was also quickly released. I kept getting nibbles but couldn’t stick them. At some point I was watching another cast and a started getting nicked again. Up to this point I’d usually get a few taps then nothing because the fish had stripped my bait without getting hooked. This time I kept getting light tugs. Perhaps I had a small fish on that needed releasing. I started reeling in and then a huge strike (or something that was already on decided to run) some resolute reeling soon ended as the fish ran into a hole again. Again I waited for the moment of opportunity, and when it came I reeled hard again. Soon I pulled another cab, out, this time bigger than the first (18”). I don’t recall whether it was before or after this, but Lee caught and released a really small cab. A few casts later I had what seemed to be the strongest strike of the day. This fish ran rather than going to a hole, but when I pulled it out of the water it was decidedly smaller than expected: a 10” brown rockfish. By about 3 pm we decided it was time to head for home. Another fine day on the Pacific Coast. Lee, as always, nicely filleted the cabbies and breaded the bigger pieces for oven baking and the smaller ones for pan fried appetizers. Next up, unless we change our mind, will be to check out some spots on the Sonoma Coast that I scouted after my unsuccessful casts two weeks ago.