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>> Rockies, Dungies, and Perchies, Oh My [November 2017 Report] [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:30 pm
sea_forager


Posts: 210
Location: San Francisco

In terms of weather this turned out to be a much milder month than expected, and with that came some great opportunities to go fishing and crabbing. I've been incorporating tips and advice that I've gleaned from PFIC archives as well as from current posters and it has only made me a better angler and help me enjoy my outings that much more, so a big thanks!


November 1: Point Lobos [SF]

Rocks @ Point Lobos [MAP]

Since the forecast for the Dungeness opener was shaping up to be a little wet later on during the weekend, I decided to head out to Point Lobos for a couple hours early Wednesday morning. Swell was down, current was strong but manageable, and wind was calm, so I felt like I could hook up something more than a few dinks.

Tried a modified version of a float rig I had used in late October to float my bait all around the rocks on a long leader to try and avoid the snags that always plague me here. I put a 1/4oz split shot over a 2/0 circle hook with a modest chunk of shrimp on there and managed to pull in 2 undersized cabs, a redtail just short of legal, but finally caught 3 larger perch in succession: 2 Striped Seaperch and the biggest Walleye I'd ever seen: A little over 11" and 11.2oz. The stripes were destined to be filleted and put in a curry, and the walleye a nice steamed lunch later in the week.

Overall I was just really happy the adjustments to the floating rig worked as well as it did. It gave me confidence to try it out at some other spots I had deemed "rig graveyards" when I get the chance.




One thing I do love about catching perch is how hard the larger ones hit.




Big walleye destined for the steamer.


Setup:

10ft Daiwa Beefstick / Daiwa BG 6500 / 50lb Braid / 125lb anglers clip -> Large (3") egg bobber -> 1/2oz split shot weight (2 x .25oz) -> 6ft 50lb fluoro leader w/ circle hook at the end; 1/4oz split shot place above the hook.


Bait: Shrimp



November 5: Ocean Beach [SF]


Ocean Beach [MAP]


Made some time to get out for the Dungeness opener over at Ocean Beach since the swell was down and current was weakening a bit. Hadn't been out along the shallows since June and so it took a bit before I got my "sea legs" back. Saw plenty of large crabs scrambling about just out of reach but I still managed to pull in 4 nice keepers, all well over 6". Biggest surprise for me was that 9 out of 10 dungies I pulled up were all male. I assume that's because of how early in the season this was because my experience out at OB is that it's wall-to-wall females along that beach. I'm not going to complain though and will take it as long as it lasts.




Kicking off the season


Setup:

My hands



November 12: Portuguese Beach [Sonoma]

Rocks between Schoolhouse Beach & Portuguese Beach [MAP]


Uglystick and I made a break for Sonoma County early this morning to check out the string of beaches from Arched Rock Beach all the way up to Duncan's Landing. Forecast was for light rain but we were spared that and had a great day out exploring new spots. I was pretty disappointed to find out that the rocks around Duncan's Landing Overlook [MAP] are apparently off limits, as opposed to just signs up saying "hey, this area is dangerous." Never been kicked out of a spot before but we received a visit from a Sonoma County Beach Lifeguard saying we had to get out right as we were about to make first cast, noting that he could give us a citation but law enforcement would. Anybody here have an experience with this at that particular spot? I wasn't about to start the day with a fine, so we moved on but mannnnnn did that area look like it held some great fishing.

After having little luck at a few other spots we settled on a nice stretch of rock between Portuguese Beach and Schoolhouse Beach. Protected from potential swells and full of rocks and only a little kelp around the edges, this felt like a great spot to dig in as our setups that day definitely were no match for thick, ropey kelp.

Uglystick struck first with a pair of nice striped sea perch as I was plagued with an army of rock crabs swarming wherever I dropped a line. Finally managed to bag a 12.5" grassy but definitely continued to get some lethargic tugs on my line whenever it got close to the edge where I was standing. We actually left and cast out at a few other beaches but the kelp was just too much so we decided to head back to this spot for our final 30 minutes. It was the same half-hearted tugs on my line that made me think there was a cabby down there just mouthing my bait, or perhaps more crabs. On my last cast I felt a stronger tug and pulled up only to get my line stuck. Thought I flew too close to the rocky sun and was snagged when Uglytick noticed my rod movement looked fishy. Sure enough I felt some movement and after a bit of tug-of-war managed to coax whatever it was out of its hole and start bringing it up. What I was greeted with was my first Monkeyface Prickleback! Uglystick and I couldn't stop laughing at how absurdly large it was as I mentally revisited all the videos I had seen about what a pain they were to process. Measured it out to just north of 24"/ 4.75lbs, called it a day and headed for the car.

Once I was back home I took my time cleaning and peeling the skin off the MFPB and was impressed with the sheer amount of meat on this creature as well as how clean it was. I definitely can see now why people target them poke-poling and having cooked it up a few different ways now, look forward to my next!




A nice 12.5" grassy perfect for a couple of fillets





My "One More Cast" affliction finally paid dividends. Photo courtesy of Uglystick.





My first MFPB. Just a smidge north of 24" and weighing in at 4.75lbs.






A pain to clean and skin but look at all that meat!





Definitely worth the effort.





Preparing to making some rolls with dungeness as well as MFPB that I had grilled with unagi sauce





If that looks like way too much food for two people.... it was. Lots of good leftovers though!


Setup:

10ft Daiwa Beefstick / Daiwa BG 6500 / 50lb Braid / 125lb anglers clip -> Hi/Lo with 4/0 octopus baitholder hooks -> 5oz weights


Bait: Shrimp, Squid, & Anchovies



November 19: OB & Return to Martins Beach [San Mateo]


Ocean Beach [MAP]

A rare double-header for the day: A quick early morning trip out to Ocean Beach to rustle up some dungies for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, as well as a drive down to Martins Beach in the early afternoon to fish a bit and hopefully harvest some uni.

Conditions at OB were great and I started to hit my stride just as I needed to pack up, which is always frustrating, but I still managed to pull out 5 nice keepers from the shallows. Again, came across nothing but males out there. I know these ideal conditions aren't long for this world until late spring, so I'm definitely enjoying it while it lasts.



A quick 90 minute trip out to Ocean Beach produced plenty of dungeness to be used for Thanksgiving dinner



Martins Beach [MAP]:


Same deal as my report from October: Head to Martins Beach during a day of low swell on a low outgoing tide in order to access the rocky area to its north.

A trip to Martins Beach really is one part fishing expedition, one part grade school tide pool field trip. Incredibly rich ecosystem here and amazing views.

Only hooked up a few perch and juvenile cabs before Uglystick and Mrs. Uglystick showed up for the main attraction for that afternoon: harvesting sea urchin (uni). I remember seeing a ton last time and we all went to work on a few of the shallower pools that were disconnected from the open water and safer to deal with.

Depending on where you live, sea urchins may be seen as an invasive pest or an ecological boon (see: coral reefs in Hawaii). Here in California these guys-- particularly purple sea urchins-- are gobbling up all the kelp forests and are fundamentally changing the lay of the land for fish and invertebrates alike. So if you enjoy uni or are curious about it, harvest as many as you can! The daily bag limit is currently 35 which is a a whole bunch for a recreational angler. Once harvested, the actual edible portion will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. It'll freeze but you'll lose a lot of texture when thawing it out; there are still plenty of great recipes for uni spread for toast, soups, stews, sauces, etc.. where the uni's texture isn't a huge factor so eat what you want fresh and freeze the rest for future use!

We quickly discovered that those two shallow pools we were harvesting uni from were home to 20 or so baby ling cods! Camouflaged among the rocks, these little guys ranged from 3" to 7". I've never seen a ling pulled from Martins Beach but obviously there's a healthy few around, so that was fun to see.

On a sad note, the view out west was taken up by the Coast Guard out in full force searching for the occupants of a boat that was spinning around driverless just off on the horizon. (News Story)

Lots of contrasting things going on that day. Condolences to the family of the lost and missing from that event.

The three of us left without any fish but still bags full of uni, great views, and another gorgeous sunset against the breathtaking scenery.

Swell and tide is king here at Martins Beach, but if those align I highly recommend making the trip out!




One of the many pools at Martins Beach chock-full of uni. Photo courtesy of Uglystick.





Uglystick and I making our exit from Martins Beach as the sun set. If the tide is low and the swell calm, I heartily recommend making the trip. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Uglystick.





All the uni I was able to decently extract from the 13 or so urchins I harvested that afternoon. Nothing like the big red urchins you'd dive for, but still worth the effort.





A spin on the Japanese "chawanmushi": a mixture of uni, dungeness, egg, and dashi all mixed and steamed together. Makes for a great power breakfast or brunch.



Setup:

11ft Uglystick Bigwater / Daiwa BG 6500 / 80lb Braid / 125lb anglers clip -> Hi/Lo with 2/0 & 4/0 octopus baitholder hooks -> 4 & 5oz weights


Bait: Shrimp & Squid



November 20 & 22: Point Lobos [SF]

Rocks @ Point Lobos [MAP]

The last couple of days I was able to get out this month were days that I didn't have a car available, so I made like a vagabond and lugged my bucket and pole onto the bus with me for a short trip to Lands End, much to the delight of small children asking me questions.

Having poured over archived posts from the likes of frozendog, SurfCaster, SurfSamurai, and FishermanDan, Sin_Coast, and Salty Nick v2, my rockfishing setup has evolved quite a bit and I'm now a lot more confident casting directly into kelp without worry about losing too much gear. I decided to revisit some spots around Lands End that had put me off or gobbled up gear due to the amount of kelp present.

Spent an hour around both Mile Rock Beach and the shipwreck area, casting into spots I tended to avoid in order to put the setup through the paces. Everything held up fine but I was only getting attention from smaller perch whose eyes were bigger than their mouths, as well as a school of voracious jacksmelt, so I continued on toward Point Lobos to see what I could dredge up.

On Monday (11/20) I started using a #2 circle hook to get more practice landing fish with those hooks in rockier areas. I landed 3 smaller cabs all around 8 or 9", and hooked but lost two rockfish on the retrieve. I tried a larger circle hook (3/0) but got no action and didn't have a 2/0 circle on me so I swapped in a 2/0 octopus hook on the 3-way swivel and the bite was back on. First a walleye, then a few missed hooksets finally led to landing a decent grassy. The bite shut off in one corner so I looked around and spotted some kelpy areas that I would've passed on during the summer due to the lower water level. Now however, with levels up all over, it seems like a much more habitable spot for some fish to hang out.

Dropped my bait right in the kelp and grassy slammed it before it could touch bottom. I hooked it but it managed to wriggle free as I was reeling it in. It was as large as any rockfish I had caught there so I was pretty unhappy with yet another lost fish. I cast back out into the same spot and got no love the first couple of times, but the third time I felt the familiar tugs and set the hook. Instead of that grassy though I had a nice cabezon on the other end! This one was going to be close so I pulled out the measuring tape and was elated when it measured out 15" to a "T". I was going home with my first legal cabby of the year and it was fitting that it was out of the spot that got me turned onto rockfishing in the first place. I was a very happy camper.

A couple days later I was out there again for a few hours and was hooking up cabs most of the time, two of them clocked in at 14" and 14.5" so this area will likely continue to pay dividends next year once they get bigger. A few baby rockfish, another lost grassy on the retrieve, and finally a solid 13.75" grassy was landed and I called it an early day as I still had a bus ride back and travel preparations for Thanksgiving to take care of.

Filleted the cab and rockfish up and froze them for an easy meal once I was back from traveling and wanted a change from turkey, stuffing, and even dungeness. Definitely the right choice and the cabezon in particular was delicious. I look forward to searching through PFIC cooking posts to try out some new recipes this winter!




A nice walleye, 12.5" grassy, and my first legal cab right at 15"





A larger grassy I pulled out a couple days later. 13.75"





After the heavy Thanksgiving feasts, this lighter meal of a large salad with lightly breaded and oven roasted cabezon and grassy really hit the spot. I love me some turkey and mashed potatoes but I'll take this any day of the week.


Setup:

11ft Uglystick Bigwater / Daiwa BG 6500 / 80lb Braid / 125lb anglers clip -> Hi/Lo with 2/0 & 4/0 octopus baitholder hooks -> 4 & 5oz weights


Bait: Shrimp & Squid


Really enjoyed the mild weather and easy swells this month as it made exploring much more pleasant. Only a few chances to really do some traveling for fishing in December so here's hoping the weather and swell line up on those weekends or else next month's report is going to be an SF-only affair.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:45 pm
uglystick


Posts: 61

Great harvest in November!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:54 pm
sea_forager


Posts: 210
Location: San Francisco

uglystick wrote:
Great harvest in November!


haha you should talk! I've seen plenty of photos of the delicious dishes you've been making with what you've been catching this past month. Your uni steamed egg definitely inspired that chawanmushi I cooked up.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:15 pm
pinoyfisherman


Posts: 921
Location: Da Bay Area,CA

Thanks for the well-detailed report! That eel looks HUGE!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:43 pm
giantbrookie


Posts: 20
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

Great report, both owing to the fishing success at multiple places, and to the detail in methods and locations. I am still very early on the learning curve in the saltwater game, so posts like this are enormously instructive. I have learned a huge amount by going back over hundreds (literally) posts on PFIC. Recently this post and your USS Lost Rigs post were especially interesting because I'm based in the Bay Area.

Two weeks ago (11/5) I was doing some geologic research up on the Sonoma Coast and took the time to fire off five unsuccessful casts (5 snags and 3 lost rigs) in a really difficult-to-reach pocket beach south of Peaked Hill (considered northern Shell Beach) since I happened to be down on the beach looking at rock outcrops. On the way back to the Bay Area, I stopped at the parking area overlooking your spot at Portuguese Beach liked the look of the waters there, so I snapped a few photos I could show my son. I also inspected Duncan's Landing but didn't like the look of the fencing and signage. Given that I had been rousted out of the little cove E of Pt Bonita by a park ranger a few months ago, I didn't want a repeat of that. Lands End to Pt Lobos has also been on my radar from a geologic research perspective and bringing gear along on such a hike is certainly an appealing thought.

Speaking of Portuguese Beach, what were the swells like as per your visit?

I've been eyeing the surf forecasts and waiting for the right moment to do a bit more geologic research and perhaps do some exploration of fishing in that general part of the Sonoma Coast (will avoid N. Shell beach, though).

Anyhow, thanks for a great post.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:52 pm
Trumbo


Posts: 850
Location: East bay

Man thatís a big monkey. I bet the guts were ripe
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:39 pm
porkchopXpress


Posts: 57
Location: sonoma coast

Great report. Congrats to you and uglystik on some fun sounding trips. The spot at Duncan's is extremely dangerous and the signs are there for good reason. People die on the Sonoma coast every year. Also Portuguese rarely produces decent fish. Sometimes to the south side of the point in the deeper water you might a ling but usually just grassies. The best spots are further north past Jenner
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:55 am
sea_forager


Posts: 210
Location: San Francisco

giantbrookie wrote:
I have learned a huge amount by going back over hundreds (literally) posts on PFIC.


Same. The archives here are an invaluable resource to saltwater anglers.


giantbrookie wrote:


Speaking of Portuguese Beach, what were the swells like as per your visit?


Swell was quite low, probably between 3~3.5ft. And most of the action was probably mid-way through the incoming tide once the water level had risen a bit more. I don't know what it would be like during the higher winter and spring water levels even with a low swell, but at least that day I never felt like the water was pushing in at a pace that threaten to come over where we were standing, or even splash us.

The map below shows the path to where we were. You can see that there's plenty of outlying rocks that really do a number on incoming swells. The red circled area are all the spots that were easily within casting distance. Plenty of rocks and kelp ring that area though so make sure your line and leader strength are up for it. Don't be afraid to finesse a cast directly in-between rocks either as that's where I was getting the most strikes. Just don't let it linger there too long else you get really snagged.





porkchopXpress wrote:
Great report. Congrats to you and uglystik on some fun sounding trips. The spot at Duncan's is extremely dangerous and the signs are there for good reason. People die on the Sonoma coast every year. Also Portuguese rarely produces decent fish. Sometimes to the south side of the point in the deeper water you might a ling but usually just grassies. The best spots are further north past Jenner


Thanks for the advice! I'm used to scrambling around rocks that aren't too safe but I guess it just irked me that there wasn't some kind of ordinance number cited on the "please stay on the path" signs, yet I still had people yelling at me that it was illegal for me to be down there. If it's illegal, be clear about it. I've no problem respecting regulations and boundaries. But if it's simply unsafe or unwise for me to be down there, allow me to make that judgement for myself. Still, I appreciate the advice as I take it you're local to this area or have fished this stretch of the 1 enough to know what's worth pursuing and what's worth forgetting about in terms of spots.

Surprised to hear you're not keen on Portuguese Beach though. I agree that it didn't look like it would hold some huge lings or cabs, but it seemed plenty serviceable for how Uglystick and I were fishing that day. I guess if I were used to far more productive spots further north then it wouldn't seem very attractive, but I definitely would cast out there again on an incoming tide.

And thanks for the "north of Jenner" advice! I originally had wanted to just drive straight to RG just north of Jenner but decided for a shorter trip with access to more beaches this time. If the weather and swell keep calm I'll likely be heading north again in a week or two and might explore the area you mentioned, or keep it more local and check off some spots along the Marin coast that have been vexing me via google maps for some time now.



Trumbo wrote:
Man that's a big monkey. I bet the guts were ripe


Hah! I definitely had prepared myself mentally and emotionally for how bad it was going to smell, but I seriously lucked out in that its stomach was basically empty except for the squid it had been stealing from me throughout the afternoon. So I was spared this time.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:12 pm
VeeZee Spinner


Posts: 24

Excellent report! That uni looks bomb! How would you compare self-harvested uni with the ones you can get at sushi restaurants?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:31 pm
sea_forager


Posts: 210
Location: San Francisco

VeeZee Spinner wrote:
Excellent report! That uni looks bomb! How would you compare self-harvested uni with the ones you can get at sushi restaurants?


Uni quality is definitely going to vary depending on the type, gender, and diet. In terms of what we have here in California, we're mainly talking about Red vs. Purple urchin, with red being the larger and more desirable type. The larger purple ones I harvested though definitely had a texture, firmness, and taste that I'd think would hold up to a "California" grading (or a "B" if grading A, B, C, etc...). Definitely not "California Gold" grade, but certainly not runny and fishy in the least. Super fresh.

It was delicious in what I cooked it in and tasted good alone a la sashimi.

If buying from the market I'd always prefer to look for red uni rather than purple, but if out poke-poling and fishing amongst the rocks, wouldn't hesitate to harvest the purple guys especially if you can find some larger ones (comparative to the other uni around it). All you need is a knife (or better yet, spoon) to wedge it out of place and then pick it up carefully and put it in your bag!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:58 pm
giantbrookie


Posts: 20
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

sea_forager wrote:

Swell was quite low, probably between 3~3.5ft. And most of the action was probably mid-way through the incoming tide once the water level had risen a bit more. I don't know what it would be like during the higher winter and spring water levels even with a low swell, but at least that day I never felt like the water was pushing in at a pace that threaten to come over where we were standing, or even splash us.
The map below shows the path to where we were. You can see that there's plenty of outlying rocks that really do a number on incoming swells. The red circled area are all the spots that were easily within casting distance. Plenty of rocks and kelp ring that area though so make sure your line and leader strength are up for it. Don't be afraid to finesse a cast directly in-between rocks either as that's where I was getting the most strikes. Just don't let it linger there too long else you get really snagged.

Thanks for the details. I may fish near there next week if the swells allow (the Portuguese Beach spot will be the no. 2 spot). The no.1 spot I want to check out happens to look promising from a geologic standpoint so I'll be looking at the rocks first, but I hope to have the time to do a bit of fishing.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:56 am
seabass_seeker


Posts: 1840
Location: Clovis

Great read, thanks for the effort you put into this. If you wanna try something new, walleye surfperch sashimi is absolutely amazing. I hear redtail surfperch is good too although I havent tried.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:08 pm
sea_forager


Posts: 210
Location: San Francisco

seabass_seeker wrote:
Great read, thanks for the effort you put into this. If you wanna try something new, walleye surfperch sashimi is absolutely amazing. I hear redtail surfperch is good too although I havent tried.


I've never tried preparing sashimi from what I catch as I understand that I'd need to have some extra gear on hand, but I'm definitely intrigued now as I never thought of having surfperch sashimi. Thanks for the heads up!

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:29 pm
giantbrookie


Posts: 20
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

sea_forager wrote:
seabass_seeker wrote:
Great read, thanks for the effort you put into this. If you wanna try something new, walleye surfperch sashimi is absolutely amazing. I hear redtail surfperch is good too although I havent tried.


I've never tried preparing sashimi from what I catch as I understand that I'd need to have some extra gear on hand, but I'm definitely intrigued now as I never thought of having surfperch sashimi. Thanks for the heads up!



I love sashimi, but you should be careful. Many of our coastal fish have parasites (worms etc.). We've found a lot of worms in the surf perch the family has caught, which have been primarily striped, pile, and rubberlips. We've found a ton of worms in cabezon, too, on occasion. I guess the bottom line is that, to be safe, I'd recommend culinary plans that involve cooking the fish.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:04 pm
simplycook


Posts: 148
Location: El Cerrito

giantbrookie wrote:


I love sashimi, but you should be careful. Many of our coastal fish have parasites (worms etc.). We've found a lot of worms in the surf perch the family has caught, which have been primarily striped, pile, and rubberlips. We've found a ton of worms in cabezon, too, on occasion. I guess the bottom line is that, to be safe, I'd recommend culinary plans that involve cooking the fish.


I've seen this too. For some reason, rubber lips, piles, and striped perch seem to have parasites more often than the calico, redtail, and barred perches that I've caught. May be the environment they live in or their feeding habits vs the surf dwelling perch. In either case, make your best judgement when eating raw. Otherwise, I've done ceviche with surf perch, striped bass, and halibut. Tasted great.
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