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>> A Tale of Three Coasts [December 2017 Report] [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:16 pm
sea++


Posts: 278
Location: San Francisco

Wasn't able to get out as much as I would've liked due to traveling commitments, but when I did make it out I was able to explore some stretches of coastline that were new to me. I don't know why the Santa Cruz County coast was never on my radar, but seeing that it's only a solid 90 minute drive from my place to Steamer Lane, future trips to the Santa Cruz & Davenport area are a guarantee.


December 10th: Santa Cruz, Greyhound Rock, and Pescadero SB [Santa Cruz & San Mateo]



Santa Cruz @ Steamer Lane [MAP]

A friend kept posting reports from the Santa Cruz cliffs with some solid success stories so I decided that I'd make it an early morning and check out what all the fuss was about. What I found was a stretch of rocky outcroppings offering easy access to deeper, kelpy water. Definitely my cup of tea.

Since I knew I'd be visiting this place the following week I decided this would only be an introductory visit and limited myself to an hour. As such I took the easy route of parking at Lighthouse Point, hopping the fence onto the infamous "Steamer Lane Cliff Jumping" rock. Surfers were thicker than seals but between us I prefer dealing with the latter. At no point was I casting near them but that didn't stop a number of them expressing their profound displeasure that I was fishing. Not everyone, mind you. I had some very pleasant exchanges with a few people that clearly also fished, but enough of my interactions were with unreasonably hostile individuals that I can see why some anglers steer clear of this particular spot.

Don't let them intimidate you. Treat people calmly and with respect, but know you've every right to be there as much as they do.

If the swell is down (do an image search for "Steamer Lane Cliff" to fully appreciate why you need that smaller swell), make this a place you check out as you poke around the other rocky outcroppings along West Cliff Drive. I didn't end up bringing anything back to the cooler in that hour but hooked up a couple smaller rockfish as well as a few smaller perch. I chalk this up to fishing it closer to the bottom of the tide and will see next visit if the top fares better. Great views of the bay to the south and coastline up to Natural Bridges SMR to the north however. A great spot to start or end your fishing around here.




If battling aggressive surfers around Steamer Lane isn't your cup of tea there are plenty of spots all along West Cliff Drive to cast out from; some with street parking available. Just take care not to go past Natural Bridges SB.



Greyhound Rock [MAP]

I've seen this place pop up in a number of PFIC reports to put it on my radar since I was already looking at the Davenport area. Looking back on all the spots I visited that day I wish I had put in more time here at Greyhound. Still, 3 hours starting at low tide were enough to leave me wanting more.

Easy parking, easy walk down to the beach and if you've timed it right you'll be greeted by a dry, clear path to this area's namesake. I walked around the rock, checking out areas to cast out from, and decided today that the tip is where I'd make my stand. It was sunny and the water was a deep blue and clear; not ideal for fishing in my opinion but it was incredibly beautiful and really set the tone for the rest of the day. Plenty of kelp and larger rock formations could be seen, so I tried to aim either directly at the kelp or areas between the kelp and the edge of the darker shapes in the water. It took a while for me to explore the bottom with my rig but I found a school of striped perch that kept hitting my line so I started pulling them in. All were around 9" and since they get a lot bigger than that I released them as soon I caught them. Caught another baby rockfish and was getting a little disappointed that I wasn't find more RCGs as I had hoped, but I think that's just because it's a new spot and I need to put more time in. Right as I started checking the time to see if I should make my way onto the next beach I felt a strong tug and the fight was on! It wasn't long before a cabezon poked its unhappy face through the kelp and I started cranking on the reel, turning it into a winch. Salty is right: hauling a fish up this rock is no joke and were this cab a tad larger I also would've taken his advice per older reports and try to guide it around to the south side of Greyhound to a spot that would allow for an easier land. As it stood however, I already had that thing 1/2 up the rock when my drag started to slip a bit. I took that as a signal and took my hand off the reel and put it on my main line and pulled it up directly which easily closed the remaining gap. In the end I had myself a beautiful 17.5" cabezon, my biggest yet, and was a very happy camper.

Since this was a multi-beach trip, I decided to get going. Bled the cab once I got back to shore and headed back up to the car. I'm in decent shape but the path's gradient on the way up to the parking lot definitely left me out of breath. Something to keep in mind if you carry a lot of gear with you.

If you can time your visit during a period of low swell on an outing tide, consider putting Greyhound Rock on your list of places to cast out. When I left at 2pm (3 hours after low tide @ 2ft) water was just starting to wash over but I could time it between sets so I didn't get wet. High tide was 4.5ft @ 4:45pm so I'm thinking the water level was around 3.5ft when I left at 2. Plenty of kelp and rocks (and fish!) in the area but my heavier braid and leader (per SurfSamurai) made sure that kelp didn't bother me at all. Looking forward to visiting this place any time I decide to explore the Santa Cruz coastline





Pulled this 17.5" cab from the kelp below.





Home and ready to be filleted.



Pescadero SB [MAP]

This was my third time casting out from this specific spot and my last one of the day since I was already pretty tired from the earlier spots. Last time I was here I hooked what looked like a legal ling and lost it right as it broke the surface. This time no such luck; only a few bites from perch hanging around. The hungriest thing I encountered here today were the rocks around the kelp I was casting into. Even my SurfSamurai-grade setup was done in by some nasty snags.

I've hooked up enough variety of fish throughout my visits here that I still think this spot has some promise and may visit later in the winter to see if some fish hole up around here during their spawn. Think I'll give it a breather and check out some other spots on the south end of this beach next time.




Circled areas indicate rocky spots with thick kelp. These are the only areas I've ever gotten bit at but also where I've consistently lost rigs due to nasty rock hangups.


Setup:

11ft Uglystick Bigwater / Daiwa BG 6500 / 80lb Braid / 175lb anglers clip -> 100lb leader Hi/Lo with 2/0 on 3-way crane swivel & 4/0 octopus hook near the weight -> 5oz & 6oz torpedo weights.





December 17th: Santa Cruz, Greyhound Rock, and Pigeon Point [Santa Cruz & San Mateo]

Drove down early for a sunrise meetup with Nacho in Santa Cruz and fished the rest of the day with him at various spots. I went home empty handed but learned a lot more about the structure of some of these spots that, in the end, make me a better angler.


Santa Cruz @ Steamer Lane [MAP]


Poked around Lighthouse Point again and besides a few perch nibbling I only hooked into one fish which was another ling that was destined to get away from me. It bolted as soon as it broke the surface and swam into a hole that it would not budge from and eventually got free of my hook. These ling encounters continue to haunt me.


Greyhound Rock [MAP]


Nacho and I nixed a stopover at Shark Fin Cove because we wanted to focus on RCGs and the structure near the shore was sandy and I figured we didn't want to be messing with perch too much. We headed to Greyhound Rock ahead of schedule which meant the water level was still too high to reach the Rock safely, so while we waited we cast out from shore and watched as jacksmelt or some other long-bodied fish like JS flung themselves out of the water, while next to the main rock a group of pelicans were feasting on baitfish in the area. I managed to hook up a juvenile cabezon around 10" or so before the path dried up and we climbed onto Greyhound Rock.

We decided we would only stay for an hour and that unfortunately wasn't long enough for me to bring up anything except perch nibbles. Nacho had better luck and landed a beautiful Greenling. Also, we encountered a group of three people farther back on the rock all dressed in the same hoodies THROWING DEAD CHICKENS OUT INTO THE OCEAN. I counted at least 3 and had zero inclination of starting a conversation with them. They soon were satisfied with whatever ritual they were performing and left.

All in all, I'm feeling more comfortable dropping my line here at Greyhound Rock and have a better idea about the general areas where fish tend to hold up. I'm curious if some of you have had more luck casting south of the rock, north, straight out, or dropped in close to the edge? All of the bites and fish landed have come almost exclusively north of the rock, regardless of whether it was close to the edge or further out by kelp. Zero action straight out or to the south on both trips. This area continue to impress with how beautiful it is though.

Ahhh, a final question! I've seen people fishing off a smaller rock directly to the north of Greyhound-- only about 300ft away--- which I have to assume is an attractive "Plan B" to people if access to Greyhound is limited; my understanding from looking at maps is that anything north of Greyhound is within the Ano Nuevo SMR, including that smaller rock [MAP]. Does that sound right?



Pigeon Point [MAP]


We finished out the day here. Nacho went for the mussels and rock crabs on the north side of the lighthouse due to the minus tide and I scrambled around rocks on the south side looking to get down close to the deeper water but was disappointed to find the spot occupied by a few people with no room to accommodate another angler.

I traded in my spinning setup for a poke pole and joined Nacho on the north side looking for some trapped rockfish or MFPB. I was destined to come up short yet again but managed to get up close and personal with a good stretch of the intertidal area there at Pigeon Point.

What I learned: There might be areas with pools and holes deep enough to hold fish and eels during a minus tide here, but there weren't many along the stretch I explored. I admit that I didn't explore all of it and will likely explore the rest of the area next time I get the chance, but I wasn't overly impressed (structure wise) with what I saw there. I'm thinking Bean Hollow might be a better bet for poke poling on a minus tide. If you had to choose between either of those spots, which would you pick?

Also, I did manage to take a quick look at the major rock formation here: https://goo.gl/maps/mCEbYthxeqS2 during the minus tide and kind of wish I had gone straight there when we arrived. At peak low tide (-0.4) the way leading to it was completely dry and I had no issues scrambling around those rocks. Had I gone an hour earlier I probably could have got in a solid hour of decent fishing off it into some deeper water where I have seen people pull in larger fish, but since the tide had already started to shift and the sun was setting there was no way I was going to push it. Exploring this area in the future is only going to happen if that minus tide happens during the morning or early afternoon.


Setup:

11ft Uglystick Bigwater / Daiwa BG 6500 / 80lb Braid / 175lb anglers clip -> 100lb leader Hi/Lo with 2/0 on 3-way crane swivel & 4/0 octopus hook near the weight -> 5oz & 6oz torpedo weights.






December 22: Point Lobos [SF]

Rocks @ Point Lobos [MAP]


After that skunk from an all-day outing the previous week I wanted some "comfort food" fishing; A spot that even if it didn't produce any larger fish on a given outing, I could still catch fish. Over the latter half of 2017 the rocks just beyond the wall at Point Lobos have been that for me.

This place really isn't difficult to figure out: There are rocks everywhere. Being able to finesse a underhanded cast close enough to the edges so that your leader connecting your hook can move in and out of the underlying crevices is the male-or-break for this spot. I also would advise against people specifically seeking out perch here. You'll catch a lot more larger perch if your setups are geared more towards rockfish. I often catch perch here while offering a bit of shrimp buried on a 2/0 (sometimes even a 4/0) octopus hook. The fish that are holed up in this area are often pretty hungry and not line shy.

I only spent about 2 hours here this day just after the top of the tide. Started getting some aggressive tugs the moment I hit the water and I knew it was a larger perch. Missed the hookset the first time but second time was the charm and I pulled in a decent 12" striped sea perch-- not my favorite perch to eat by far-- but I have a few ways to counteract its mushiness.

A few small cabs and baby rockfish later I decided to swap in a hook with a longer leader (9") about 6" above my weight and drop it in so close to the edge that I could see my leader getting pulled into the mussel rock abyss with each set of waves. I was rewarded however with a hard tug and some decent weight on the other end. Hauled it up and it turned out to be a very nice 17" cabezon. I wasn't going to push my luck after these two fish and honestly I was going to leave for some family visits the next day anyway, so two fish for the cooler it was!








A 17" cab with some beautiful coloring







A keeper cabby and a nice perch will make for a couple decent dinners







One ready for the fry pan and one ready for the freezer



Setup:

11ft Uglystick Bigwater / Daiwa BG 6500 / 80lb Braid / 175lb anglers clip -> 100lb leader Hi/Lo with 2/0 on 3-way crane swivel & 4/0 octopus hook near the weight -> 5oz & 6oz torpedo weights.



And that'll close out 2017 for me! I've learned a ton from the immense library of posts here as well as PFIC members I've had the privilege of casting out with in person. So thank you all and may your lines be tight in 2018!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:41 pm
giantbrookie


Posts: 36
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

Thanks for the informative report and a nice way to close the year. Nice cabs, too. If all goes well, my son and I will close out 2017 at Marin Headlands tomorrow.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:01 pm
uglystick


Posts: 72

The month of cabs. Great jobs!
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:21 pm
ryanrs


Posts: 31
Location: San Francisco

sea_forager wrote:
I'm thinking Bean Hollow might be a better bet for poke poling on a minus tide [than Pigeon Point]. If you had to choose between either of those spots, which would you pick?


I'll be heading to Pescadero on Monday for the big minus tide to collect mussels. I'll bring along my poke pole and let you know how it goes.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:30 pm
sphunfishing


Posts: 78

Nice catch/report. Good information there about the coast line.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:29 am
Ken Jones


Posts: 9711
Location: California

Very interesting and detailed report good job.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:00 pm
madraz


Posts: 3
Location: San Francisco

I fished the pigeon point area today at low tide. There were about 4 guys out on those rocks you highlighted on the map though I didn't see anyone hooking up. I fished a little more south of there and had no luck, too much eel grass and I lost a ton of rigs, started out with swimbaits then switched to hi/lo with squid. That area just below the lighthouse overlook has to be the snaggiest area I have ever fished, its a terminal rig minefield so I'm done with it. I left that south area frustrated and went over to the north side of the lighthouse where there were quite a few guys out poke poling due to the minus 1.7 low tide. I hiked out to the edge of the rocks and threw out some squid and straight away I hooked a small cabezon. Second cast out to the same area I had some solid hits but couldn't set the hook. Called it a day after that.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:51 pm
Salty Nick v2


Posts: 1805
Location: On a rock or beach

Nice cabs!

Salty.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:01 pm
frozendog


Posts: 1637
Location: SLO County

I am so impressed by your report. Lots of information! More words than I probably say in a month! Thank you for all of your time and effort to share your trips and tips.
Good fishing!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:27 am
nacho


Posts: 25
Location: Bay Area

Great report, as usual. Thanks! I tried at least two days to hook the ling at the light house, without luck. Maybe it moved somewhere else.
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