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>> 12/11 Coming up short jetty fishing San Mateo Coast [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:07 pm

Posts: 36
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

One never stops learning and when one is more or less in their first serious season of saltwater fishing the new discoveries abound...

First, the summary: Location: HMB South Jetty. Fished ca. 1030am-315 pm on rising tide. Swells about 2-4' but less further out owing to shelter from N Jetty.

Gear: (me with the early 90's vintage gear) 9' Master surf rod, Daiwa AG4000X spinning reel with 40lb braid and 40 lb mono leader, hi-lo with two triple swivels, 4 oz weight. Bait: market shrimp. (Son, Lee) borrowed sister's 6' Penn Mariner II rod (because he hadn't rigged his own set up the night before) with Pflueger Trion spinning reel with 20lb braid and 20lb mono, hi-lo as above. He also swapped the reel set up onto a 6.5' sectioned backpacking trout rod to play with some swimbaits.

Fish: Me: 2 too short cabezon (13.5, 13"), 1 brown rockfish (8.5"). Lee: 1 grass rockfish 11", One large rock crab of about 6" or better, and near miss with large monkeyfaced eel.

Story: I had targeted Sunday owing to the relatively mellow swell from Sonoma Coast down to HMB. I suppose I was leaning to a rematch with the Sonoma Coast owing to my tantalizing experience there on 12/5 but Lee wanted a rematch with the HMB south jetty after a subpar (for him) but promising trip on 11/19. Lee began by experimenting tossing swim baits using a 6-piece backpacking rod while I used my usual hi-lo and was getting hits on most of my casts but not hooking anything. I then had a strong one that took me into the rocks and was stuck. On 11/19 this had happened twice and I had pulled out two legal cabs here, but not this time. This one was really stuck, reminding me of my experience a few days earlier on the Sonoma Coast except this time the fish really didn't budge at all (no free line moments). Unlike the last week I didn't get the super heavy fighting thing before I got stuck..it was the pull and get stuck right away. Eventually I gave up and got my rig back at least (ie the hook pulled out of whatever it was). As we were to find a couple of hours later, though, the hard take and stuck fish isn't necessarily that big....

After exploring all over the jetty with his swimbaits, Lee returned to rig for bait while I had yet a different variation on a strike and hook. I had been getting a lot of hits and getting my bait stripped so after what appeared to be repeated taps, then a lull in activity I reeled in to replace what I thought to be stripped bait, but found I had a reasonably strong fish on the line. As I pulled it out it looked to be a cab that was a tad too short. The measuring tape confirmed it at 13" and back it went. Sometime after this Lee had a strong strike that drove him into the rocks. He remembered well his north jetty experience on 4/15 when he had a super strong fish get stuck (and not budge) then a slightly less strong one did the same thing but I unstuck it for him and it turned out to be a 22" cab. Perhaps this time he'd succeed against a truly monstrous fish. He would get a brief tug between long stretches of being totally stuck but each time he couldn't budge it. The minutes went by. However, he wasn't about to let his dad give it a try as he did back in April. Finally he dislodged the fish the way one often tries to free up a snag by jerking the rod about and moving back and forth. He cranked on the reel and waited in great anticipation, then bellowed in dismay when he saw what was on the end of the line. The "monster" was a grassie of only 11". Perhaps those of mine that I couldn't budge from the rocks on my last two trips weren't so big after all.

By this time it was past 1 pm and we'd been there three hours of so. I was still getting some hits but these were not as frequent as earlier. Lee was getting no action on either side of the jetty and in his boredom he let out some line and droplined into a hole. He was pretty surprised when he got a tap, then a good hit and had a fish on. He then saw a large eel on his line but it fell off as he was getting ready to hoist it out. He tried this technique on the same hole with no results and a few more holes with one more hit, then came back to where I was after a he caught a good sized rock crab of 6" or better. The crab was not hooked but was still holding onto his bait with a claw. I had only one more stretch of action during the day at about 2 pm when I caught another "tad
too short" cab of 13.5" and a 8.5" brown rockfish on consecutive casts. After a very long dry spell Lee persuaded me to throw in the towel (he already had) because he said he needed the time to think up and cook the evening meal (pasta in this case) since we had failed to deliver on a seafood dinner for the family. All in all, though, it was an interesting trip in which we learned a few new things and had a few brief moments of excitement.

Other observations. The overall rate of fishing success for folks out there seemed a bit lower than our last visit there on 11/19. On both 11/19 and 12/10 the majority of folks on the jetty were going after crabs, but on 11/19 we saw several folks with some nice rockfish including at least one really good sized one. In contrast on 12/10 I saw very few fish landed and the ones I saw (3) were small rockfish.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:35 pm

Posts: 278
Location: San Francisco

Thanks for the report! Even outings when the cooler is empty at the end of the day are still valuable and ones to learn from.

How far did you walk out on the South Jetty? My experience with HMB is limited but videos I've seen of people having success out there are almost always out towards the end where you can cast into the channel between the two jetties, but I also understand what a pain in the rear scrambling over those rocks can be and don't fault anybody that would rather not make that journey.

Also this:

giantbrookie wrote:
..but I unstuck it for him and it turned out to be a 22" cab.

is unreal. 22"?! That's legal even for a ling! Hats off to you and your son. It always throws me for a loop when I read about people hauling certain fish in a size class that I attribute to a larger fish e.g. frozendog's recent report citing a 19.5" grassy he caught. 19.5" is larger than the stripers I managed to eke out this season... just super impressive.

Catch & cook. No time for selfies.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:54 pm

Posts: 36
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

The south jetty is best beyond the bend. There are two reasons for this. First the seaward side is somewhat sheltered from the surf by the north jetty as you get out far enough. Second it drops off into deeper water. I didn't go all the way out to the end but my son did and he tells me gets a bit shallower all the way out at the end. My son likes the north jetty better because of his track record there, but I like the south jetty better because it seems to drop off into deeper water than the north jetty and its seaward side is more sheltered. Moreover even in moderate surf you get spray over the first part of the north jetty before the bend and this makes for exceedingly treacherous footing with wet rocks; my son and I have both taken some hard falls on the north jetty. For both north and south it requires quite a bit of boulder hopping to get to good places although on the north jetty you get to the first good spots a bit earlier (at least in terms of boulder hopping but you have the little trail or beach approach added on before you get to the rocks). Regarding the big cab my son caught back in April on the north jetty, initially thought we had a barely legal ling until we realized we had a much more exceptional catch. That was on cast no. 2 for him that day after he had been hit by something that felt substantially stronger and heavier on cast no. 1 and lost his rig. He wasn't done. He also had a sub legal cab of 12", a 14" kelp greenling and an immense 14" striped surf perch that afternoon. He is more daring than I am in that he will drop his bait into submerged holes and cracks just off of his feet the sort of which I seem to get snagged every time I try. Speaking of the jetties, there haven't been too many posts on them recently but you should go back to the PFIC posts from the summer of 2008. Those are some jaw dropping reports.
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