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>> 2002 Pier Fishing In California Short Stories [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:22 pm
Ken Jones


Posts: 9460
Location: California

2002 Fiction Stories

Habit

1st Place Winner

By Songslinger

A few minutes after dawn Jake Lawson wheeled his fishing cart up to the midway point of Berkeley Pier and set up two poles, one long and the other short. Cut anchovies were on the far line, for kingfish or anything else coming in with the tide, and pile worms were on the near line, tempting perch but probably interesting the crabs. It was a cold morning walled in by the winter fog. He unfolded his chair, uncapped his thermos and sat listening to the sounds of the invisible Bay.
Loons called from somewhere to the southwest, answered maybe from a point to the east, or possibly that was the harbor bell muffled by the thick fallen clouds. He heard a slight tick-tick of an ancient automobile receding due west--straight down the middle of the pier, it sounded like, fainter and fainter until it was subsumed by the abyss.
His near pole flinched; the tip nodded slightly and was still. He considered checking his bait but was too comfortable sitting, warmed by the coffee, livened by the brisk air. More sounds, as distant as time, foghorns behind the Gate, jets leaving or arriving SFO, and then the telltale squeak of a single wheel listing left after years of torture on the hard pier cement. Following closely behind it, the angelic voice of a woman singing gospel songs.
"Hullo, old Jakefish!" Claraís voice hailed an instant before she herself materialized. "How you doin this mornin?"
"Good enough. Looks like a slow day, though"
"But it wonít be"
"No," he admitted. "Probably wonít be at all."
Clara smiled, sniffed the air. Something about it made her shiver. He looked at her cart. Two, three cans in it and that was all. "Slim pickins?"
"Always is this time of year. But I donít complain."
"Thatís right, you never do."
She looked at him, studying. "You hear it?"
"I did. And I know you did, too. Were you at the end?"
"Sure was. Heard that car keep on goin all the way down the old pier, goin to catch that ferry."
Jake shook his head. "I just canít believe it," he sighed.
" Mm hmm. Me neither!"
They both laughed.
"Well," Clara said, as if that summed everything up.
"Hold on, I got you some cans and bottles." Jake reached for the bag at the bottom of his cart.
"Arenít you the sweetest man!"
"All the time. Here, Iíll just drop em in." He held the bag over her cart, let go and was startled to see her cart ripple suddenly, the way a beam of light seems to bend when smoke enters it. The bag went straight through and made a wet smack on the cement. The cart reassembled.
"Oh, Clara," Jake murmured. "When?"
She drew herself up, almost ready to deny everything, then relented. "I dunno, a week, maybe ten days. Time here isÖ well you know, it ainít about clocks."
"God, Iím so sorry."
"No need, Honey. No need at all." Her smile now was all mercy, kindness. "Tell you what. You just bring that bag to the Shelter, would you? Iím probably there, too." She grinned and let out a cackle. "Iím probably younger there, too!"
There were tears in his eyes but he held them hard. He knew they were selfish, for his loss and not hers.
"Thatís okay, Honey," she soothed. "You know Iím all right. And you know youíll see me again, hey?"
"Sure," he whispered.
"Okay then!"
The wheel groaned into life and complained again as the cart and Clara moved on. In moments she was swallowed in the fog or had vanished in the other way.
Jake was not a drinking man and had little patience for other fishermen who brought beer or spirits to the pier. That was why he fished alone most of the time and liked coming to the pier during the winter. Still, he wanted to toast to Clara and all he had was a cup of coffee. He raised the cup silently and took a sipóand nearly had a heart attack. The liquid was frozen solid. He thought he heard a womanís chuckle somewhere in the fog.
Twenty minutes passed, a half hour. Still no action on his poles. He changed bait just to do something and then decided to wait. They would show up soon enough.
A little before Eight he began hearing them. Some he could barely make out and recognized right away. The elderly Chinese man and his eternally silent wife. The Cambodian twins. The Mexican woman. In the fog they were faint, yet definite, striving towards clarity of some kind. Heíd figured out sometime ago that it was their own confusion that made them difficult to see. Unlike Clara, who had never had a hesitant day in her life, these people were torn between acceptance and the pattern of their daily existence. Like lanterns with weak batteries, their lights faded in and out. But still they persisted. Rigs were tied to the main lines, hooks baited, poles flicked and then the sinkers splashed the cast targets. Luck was on their side and the fishing was good, steady, double and triple catches of kingfish, smelt, even perch. He marveled at their good fortune, pitied the futility of their labors.
Were they aware? Good question. On these inscrutable faces the expressions were caricatures, hard to decipher. They landed their fish and dropped them in buckets that could never hold them. Fish after fish lay flipping on the cement. The people were not real, yet the fish were, and Jake Lawson did not believe in waste. He did believe in survival, however, and worked the pier, picking up after the phantom anglers, depositing their catches in his one bucket until at last he filled it to the top.
"My friends," he announced, bowing "I thank you. "My wife and I will bless you as we make it through another week."
As in so many mornings, he retrieved his gear with some embarrassment but not without gratitude. The sun was breaking through the fog as he walked down the pier. He saw more people and gave them all his best smile, whether or not they were real.

2002 Fiction: June

By Josh


Some time ago, on an unusually cold Monday in June, a thick fog rolled in on the California coastline. The dark gray sky only allowed a sickly, greenish light to reach the earth, providing no warmth, putting an otherworldly pallor on everything it reached. As I made my way to the end of Balboa Pier, I realized that there were very few other people on the pier. The restaurant was empty, and I observed with a start that the seabirds, a constant presence at the pier, were nowhere to be seen. I looked to the icy, oddly clear water and saw no living things but a small crab skittering about on a piling, quickly disappearing between some mussels. The only sound was the constant percussion of waves pounding the beach, slowly eating away at the coast. The few souls I shared the pier with were silent, unmoving, and I saw no fish in their coolers and buckets. As I reached into my bait bucket, I noticed the little smelt put up little resistance, as if they had already resigned themselves to their fate. I was doubtful of any fish on that day, since it seemed that all the sea creatures sensed something I could yet not. A sinister presence, lurking deep under the glassy surface. Something to stay away from, something to fear. As I watched my unmoving rod, I occasionally noticed small trembles making their way up the taught line, the only movement in a silent world. I saw little other activity, once a sea lion surfaced, took a furtive look around, and submerged without a sound, later a small school of mackerel shot past the pier, their colors shimmering through the dark water, uninterested in my small offerings of squid and mackerel. As the day wore on, the sky grew darker and even more intimidating, and the chill air became truly cold. As the tide went out, I saw more activity, small baitfish venturing meekly out from between the pilings, an occasional bass shooting up from the depths to take an unlucky anchovy, sending the school of bait back into the pilings to regroup for a few minutes. I finally caught a few small bat rays, and the thornbacks made a brief comeback. This was not to last however. As the tide returned for the night, the bite stopped. All the creatures fled back to their reefs, kelp paddies, and sunken skiffs. Before any perceptible change in the light of the sky, the water turned jet black, and I decided that perhaps it was a sign that it was time to go home. Stubbornly, I decided to try one more time. I cast the largest smelt I had, far out towards the famous submarine canyon just off shore. As an unsettling calm enveloped the pier, an incredible force tore at my line. Viciously pulling line from my reel, I knew I had something extraordinary. With mammoth shakes, the creature flew, a seemingly unstoppable force, unconcerned by my insignificant line. Tightening the drag made no difference, and I was sure that whatever was on the other side of my line was beyond my tackle and skill. Yet as I was about to give up the creature stopped, turned and sped towards me, only to turn and take my line as quick as it gave it up. As I made my seemingly hopeless stand against the fish, I perceived a slight give when I pulled a bit harder, as if the beast had tired just a bit. I knew though, that I was fast tiring too, and I could not continue like I was forever. Every ruse and trick I tried only gave my opponent a few yards of line to work with, a few yards I desperately needed to win. It turned back to run towards me once again, almost tauntingly, and turned to speed off again, but the creature never fully regained itís vigor, and in a few short minutes I saw my adversary. I saw my line first, leading to a patch of water perhaps five feet wide and three times that in length, darker even than the inky black around it. As I reeled in the huge weight, I realized I didnít have any idea what time it was. It was dark, and I was the only person on the pier. I didnít know what my opponent was, so I decided that I could only walk it to shore, and I doubt five people could have pulled up my fish on my gaff anyway. Exhausted, exhilarated and shaking, I slowly made my way to the shore, the fish, still unidentifiable in the night, putting up little fight. On the sand, I waited for an exceptionally large wave set to bring my prize in. Finally, I saw what I had worked so hard to see. A truly huge halibut, perhaps twelve feet long, lay on the cool sand, so powerful in the sea, reduced to slowly slapping itís huge tail on the wet sand. For a fleeting moment, I considered keeping it, but I knew that I could not do such a thing to a creature so that had obviously endured so much, and was incredibly, rare, powerful and beautiful. In the weak light of distant city lights I regarded the helpless animal, and after a few moments, I slowly and as gently as possible pulled him back to the water. His only task to disappear and live, never to see a tank in an aquarium or a dissecting table, his certain fate should others catch him. I have never talked about him, nor ever will, for even if I were to, who would believe me? But I know that somewhere, buried under a heavy layer of sand, lies an incredible animal, waiting for an unlucky fish to pass by, and I know that somewhere in that creatureís vast memory, itís only defeat still reminds it to pick itís meal well, lest it meet a more skilled and less merciful fisherman than I.

2002 Fiction: One Cast

By Matt Sakai


The shadows played tricks on his mind. Dancing left and right, as the light from the single overhead lamp flickered, mystery shadows appeared in the water then disappeared as quickly as they materialized. Through it all, his bobber bounced in the waves. Up and down. Up and down.
It looked like a long night ahead and hopefully heíd have something to show for it. Jane was out of town; visiting a sick friend in Fresno, she said. Comes back tomorrow. "Maybe I can greet her with a steamed striper dinner-her favorite," he thought. Up and down. Up and down.
The pier was almost empty. A couple of fishermen on the end with big rigs. Sharks or rays, he thought to himself. A couple of Mexican and Black kids listening to the radio a few windbreaks down. An old Cambodian couple fishing by the foot. An Asian couple strolling after an early dinner at Skates; probably Cal students. Thatís it.
There were a few more fishermen out when he had arrived, though they were long gone. When he got to the pier, it was just about sunset on a clear Nor-Cal day. He could see all the way past the Golden Gate Bridge, and he was treated to an explosion of reds and yellows as the sun fell past the city. There was a flurry of action on his Sabiki, too, as he quickly caught a nightís worth of shiners on just three drops. No action since then, though, as on of those shiners swam under his bobber. Up and down.
The last rays of light crept over the city in the distance as he finally sat back in his lawn chair. Finally, a chance to relax! The scurry of catching bait, setting up his rod, and making the first cast always resulted in an adrenalin rush that kind of knocked him out when he was done.
He sat back and let his shoulders sag, at last. The last strains of a Malo song drifted down the pier from the kidsí boom box. Damn, that song was good. He remembered when it first came out; he was working on his fatherís flower farm down in Hollister. His fatherís hired help, Ruben introduced him to the music, then, and they grooved though the long summer clipping roses for market and listening to the beats. That was thirty years ago and a universe away. Wonder what Rubenís up to now? He must be over sixty. Hope he got the hell out of Hollister.
What was that? He thought he saw a shadow in the water, out of the corner of his eye. He quickly checked his bobber. Was it shaking slightly? Was the shiner nervous? Better pay attention. Concentrate, dammit.
The Asian couple was back, now, returning from their walk, the guy humming "How Deep is Your Love" by the Bee Gees. Man, those kids are young. How do they know that song? The fisherman watched them stroll away, and images of New York City, circa 1978 came into mind.
Disco was king, then, but not for this motivated business student. While students around him flocked to the nightclubs, he stayed in his dorm room and studied. A senior that year, it looked like heíd be able to graduate from NYU a semester early and take that internship on Wall Street. Gotta study, gotta graduate. The future is not in Hollister on the farm.
A DBA from Wharton was next on the agenda, then a corporate job leading to a CFO position. Life was all planned out then. Everything seemed so simple, but Jane was the complication that he didnít count on. She swept into his life in 1980 at a conference in Tampa. She was represented a firm in San Francisco, and, like him, was the only child of a Japanese farmer who had gotten out of the business. She was everything he was, but maybe a tad less motivated. Not a big deal at the time, since her beauty made up for that.
Suddenly, Haas School of Business was looking much more attractive. Maybe a MBA was all right, too. A corporate job on Wall Street could be replaced by one in the financial district in SF, and when he was accepted to Berkeley the following spring, the decision was made.
They married three years later, in the summer of í83, just after he received his diploma. She opened her PR firm a year after that, and he climbed the corporate ladder in the financial district. Through the nineties, their lives seemed like smooth sailing. Her firm had more work than it could handle, and he was a CFO of a fledgling technology firm. The hours were long, but the company had so much upside that he would have been crazy to turn the position down. Ten-hour days turned into twelve and then sixteen. There were nights that he slept in his office because he was too tired to drive back home.
As the end came near, the days got even crazier. She came down to the office most days just so they could share a meal together. When the dot-bomb tsunami took out the tech sector, his company was caught up in the wave. Suddenly, he was approaching fifty, out of work and with no prospects. Jane had to put in extra hours at her office to cover the coupleís expenses, and he could do nothing but pack her lunches.
He couldnít recall when her trips back to Fresno started, but he suddenly realized that they were getting more and more frequent. Funny, heíd never even been to the place. Never met her friends; never seen her familyís home. Hadnít been back to Hollister in a while, either. Dad and Mom came up to visit from time to time, but he could barely remember what the farm looked like. He remembered nights like tonight, warm, windless summer nights. They were his favorite, but he couldnít even put an image to the memory.
The bobber dove suddenly into the cloudy water. His rod tip jerked violently, but, just as quickly, it sprang back, and the bobber resumed itís hypnotic up and down.
He reeled his rig in and found the hook empty shining at him in the meager light, like a crooked, wan smile. Time to rebait. Time to start over again.

2002 Fiction: Survivor Diaries ó Pier Version

by GDude


Thirty-eight days had passed and those that remained on this abandoned military base in the South Pacific were lean, hungry, and weak. Only three survivors remained of the original sixteen contestants. But the grand prize of $1Million made for a big incentive to outlast all the others.
Rick surprised everyone, even himself, by lasting this long. He was a married-no-kids, 33 year-old honest, virtuous, former Eagle Scout become office number-crunching geek CPA from Iowa. On the island, the others chided him as the "CPN" - Certifiably Profound Nerd. But he was still one of the last three to remain.
Kellee - yes, spelled with two 'E's at the end - was one tough west-coast babe. She was 26 with super-model looks, strong-will, ruthlessness and a Stanford diploma. Her tag line wasn't that she was currently out of work, but she was looking for the 'right break' into an acting career. And she put on a magnificent performance acting in the last five weeks convincing others not to vote her off when she herself was working against them.
Jackson was the youngest survivor to ever last this long into the final round. A star football player out of Mississippi State recently drafted onto the show, the senior quarterback had to start school in 4 weeks. Here was a young man who definitely had NFL potential if he didn't get injured, and so the jackpot wasn't his main motivation. Rather, this was about beer-stories he could share with his buddies back home, plus his coach threatened to bench him if he didn't win.
There were just three days left in this whole contest. Today would be the survivors' last physical challenge. The winner would receive immunity from being voted off and guarantee him/herself a final position. And tomorrow, all the former teammates would gather to vote for a winner; and in 72 hours, everyone would land on a charter flight back into LAX.
At the crack of dawn, the three were jeeped over a bumpy dirt road to a side of the island no one had yet seen. They gathered on a solid concrete submarine pier, low to the water, where the host greeted them and handed each a fishing outfit complete with terminal tackle, a spool of 20lb. monofilament and an 11 ft. Breakaway casting rod with a Penn 525GS reel.
"Today's physical challenge is a bit different," the host grinned. "You have 3 hours during the high tide to catch fish off this pier. The one who catches and releases the most poundage of fish wins. The fish must be released alive and swim away under their own power within 1 minute of release to count. All fish will count towards the weight total.
Invertebrates, dead fish, fish used for bait, don't count. If there are no questions, 3 hours starts now."
Without hesitation, Rick smiled at the others and took his tackle outfit and ran to the end of the pier. Jackson moped around looking a bit disappointed, with one eyebrow raised. He wasn't big on fishing and he had never cast one of these reels before. Kellee wasn't to be seen. Her tackle as well as her clothes remained on the pier as she dove down under the water to take a swim. The all-male camera crew smiled. They knew this was classic Kellee - to show some skin for the camera.
Jackson heard the splash and looked down to see Kellee's bare buttocks plunge
Underneath the water. It wasn't like he didn't have his time with the ladies back in college, but being stuck on an island for 40 days of abstinence was really getting to him.
Rick took less than 3 minutes to rig up. He looked around for something to use as bait, but the high tide obfuscated the pilings and any potential bait on them. But that didn't deter him. An experienced fly fisherman who tied his own flies, Rich quickly used pieces of cloth from his shirt and left over line to fashion three crude flies which he attached to a single length of line to make a Sabiki rig.
Jackson decided to forego the formalities of a fishing rod which he couldn't use anyway, and tie a single square knotted hook to the spool. Then he got the idea of using multiple sections of line to have many drop lines to increase his chances. But he ran into the problem of having nothing to cut the line with. He decided to ask Rick how he cut his line with no tools.
"Hiya Rick. Uhhhh... Any chance y'all could show me how you cut the line?" Jackson asked.
"Sorry. No can do. I'm afraid I can't help you now," Rick replied.
"Awww, C'mon! I'll promise not to vote against ya. I promise." Jackson pleaded.
With the risk low of losing to Jackson, Rick showed him the trick using his front teeth to cut the line. A short while later, Jackson was able to finally cut his line. Rick turned his attention back on his fishing rig which he had dropped under the pier. About this time, Kellee surfaced nude and grinning. In her hands were a several small stones, and a handful of mussels. She looked over at Rick, still with an evil grin, as she slipped back into her tank top and shorts. Rick turned away and focused on his jigging his Sabiki up and down. He felt some pressure and started to pull, but it snagged. He pulled harder and it snagged again and finally broke. Kellee burst out into giggles.
"Hey! Did you snag my line down there?" Rick accused Kellee.
"Nope. Not at all Dick," which is what she usually called him. "Ironic that Mr. Eagle Scout got snagged, that's all."
With some apparent deftness, Kellee spooled on the mono and fashioned a hi-lo rig. At the end, she crafted a very nice mono net perfect for housing the small stones which she would use as a casting weight. The she rose up and made a tremendous cast, almost 120 yds out from the pier into a deeper blue pool. She counted the 20 seconds it took to sink, then engaged the clicker. The camera crew followed her every move. Before settling back to watch her pole she looked into the camera and smiled. "My boyfriend used to be a big pier rat; used to fish with him all the time."
Jackson approached her and leaned down over the shells of her mussels. "Kellee, you gonna keep them old shells or would ya mind..."
Before he could finish his sentence, Kellee snatched up the empty shells and tossed them over board. "Jack, you can have 'em if you wanna swim for them."
Jackson cursed under his breath and walked back to his drop lines. Time was ticking away with less than two and a half hours left. Then Kellee got a big hit. It pulled and she had to loosen the drag. The rod bent over double and the line hissed as the fish pulled harder. For 5 minutes the struggle continued until finally spent the fish floated gasping near the surface. It was a big grouper, almost 2 1/2 feet long and still flapping. She jumped into the water and grabbed it by its huge maw, tossing it up and over onto the dock. The judges rushed over and weighed the fish at a fat 11 pounds 5 oz and then tossed it back to see it quickly swim away.
Without hesitation, Kellee rebaited and was out there again.
With less than an hour left, Rick and Jackson were still without a bite. Rick was thinking about diving for some mussels as well; it may have been a mistake trying catching bait with his homemade Sabiki. It was obvious that he lacked Kellee's experience with salt water fishing, but he had read a Pierfishing book once by some author named Jones or something that like that said Sabikis were good for catching bait. While he wasn't about the give up, he was questioning whether the book had any value.
As luck would have it, just as he was about to dive for some bait, his jigging efforts paid off and two big-sized baitfish hooked themselves on his rig. At almost a pound each, these fish were big enough to eat, but nowhere near big enough to catch up to Kellee's big grouper.
Rick turned around to look at Kellee and just then, she set the hook. Her rod doubled over just as before and they watched as a minute later, another grouper came atop the pier. This one a bit smaller at 9 pounds 3 oz. So Kellee was at 20 and 1/2 pounds versus the guys at zero.
Rick decided to keep one fish and let the bigger one go after weighing it at 1 pound 2 ounces. He knew that stingrays and sharks abounded in these semi-tropical waters and it he could score one of those, it might be exactly the fish he needed. Wasting no time, he smashed and lacerated his bait into bloody halves and took the biggest 3/0 hook out of the tackle pack. Believing sharks might bite through his line, he doubled the leader and then tossed out his line a respectable 40 yds. Rick didn't even have time to put his rod to set the clicker when he felt a jerk, and it then the line took off. He engaged the gearing and felt something huge on. For 20 minutes the fish pulled. At times, Rick feared the fish might spool him, but he played it safe.
"Fifteen minutes left!" yelled the host.
Rick sweated. With the fish still 50 yds out and no signs of wearing down, he tightened his drag a little and started to horse the fish in. And it worked. The fish started to give in and come closer. There still wasn't any indication of what type of fish and it didn't jump.
With five minutes left, the fish finally surfaced. It was a big stingray, perhaps 30 inches across.
"Five minutes left," yelled the host again.
Rick jumped in the water and grabbed the flapping beast by the mouth and started swimming towards shore. It was slow going, as he had to fight both the drag of the fish and the stinger. He came up to shore with two minutes to spare. The judges were waiting. Surprisingly, the fish only weighed, 19 pounds 8 ounces. Unbelievable. Rick asked to have it weighed again. Again, it was the same. He then released the fish.
"Okay, it's time," said the host. "Fishing is over."
The three were gathered atop the pier and the announcements made. "It looks like Jackson, you caught zero pounds. Kellee, you caught two grouper for 20 lbs 8 oz. And Rick, you caught one small fish and the stingray for a total of 20 lbs 10 oz. Rick, you've won the immunity, Congratulations."
"I want to protest!" Kellee blurted. "That's not a fish. That's a stingray. It doesn't count."
The judges conferred with each other and handed a highlighted copy of the CA state fishing regulations. "Kellee, since you're a resident of CA State, we've chosen to use the regulations from your state, and you can read here, that rays are classified as fish with all the other fish. So, sorry, but your protest has been denied.
Epilogue: Kellee was voted off by Rick and Jackson. And the final vote picked Rick as the winner by just 2 votes. He headed back to his wife in Cedar Rapids a $1Million richer. He was a hometown hero and appeared the next day on the Good Morning America and Today shows. Jackson headed back to school early to start football camp. He still had lots of stories and the coach chose not to bench his MVP. He promised himself to fish more and learn to use a baitcaster. Kellee had a relationship with the host, and succeeded in her attempt to score a spot on Fear Factor

2002 Fiction:

Pier Fishing Worldwide Survival Meeting

By corbinaman1


Fished a local pier today and to my amazement, I realized it was the day of the Pier Fishing Worldwide Survival Summit Meeting! This was a meeting where all of the fish meet to address their worldwide survival concerns (as well as a few jam sessions!).
First, the anchovies and sardines swam in. They said that they don't mind being caught on the cute Sabiki's, but they disagree being massively caught in large drop nets with no bait. The flying fish then flew in. I caught 20 of them with my butterfly net to attend the meeting. They didn't mind being used as tuna bait, but they also opposed being purse-seined in the open ocean. The mackerel were next...they agreed that they make good bait and unbelievably, they wanted pier fisherman to use more mackerel strips for bait to catch them! Those crazy mackerel!! The bonitos were next, not many of them though because they were massively purse-seined a few years ago. However they said they are massively spawning now in the open ocean
And they will be back in huge numbers soon! Only one Mr. Grumpy Sandbass and Calicobass were able to attend and boy were they grouchy! They complained that it takes eight long years for them to reach the 12-inch
legal size! They also said it is best to keep the just legal ones and throw back the big guys since they carry ten times the amount of roe compared to the small ones. Finally, there was a small meeting break.
To lighten things up, Mr. Guitarfish started strumming his Stratocaster electric guitar, and the bat rays were really dancing up a storm! They did complain however, that they were tired of losing their stingers and tails to the knife of some pier fishermen. The Salmon were doing the "Salmon-Shuffle" while the Rockfish were doing the "Rockfish-Romp"...both were
getting down out there! Three big halibut joined the dance and did the "Flattie-Flap" dance. They said they love live smelt (to the smelt's chagrin) the most, but were disappointed that many of their under 22-inch buddies couldn't join the show because of a few pier fishermen. The Leopard Sharks did the amazing "Leaping-Leopard" launch, and reminded the fishermen
to release any under 36 inches long.

They then took a break and munched on whole squid appetizers provided by the management. The Striped Bass then took the stage and did a disco version of the "Striper-Shuffle". This got the giant squid into a frenzy and they were squirting water and ink everywhere...even on the big disco ball in the sky! The stripers urged fisherman to follow the rules since they are all the descendents of the original 400 that came here by rail from the East Coast back in 1865!
Mr. Guitarfish at this point was tired and stopped playing, but drew a rousing applause for his fine performance. Unfortunately, a fight broke out between the Sturgeon and Soupfin Sharks. They were each frustrated that they were being illegally kept by some fishermen and took it out on each other. Luckily, Mr. Great White Shark broke up the fight before it got out
of hand. Even he was concerned about his false "man-eating" image due to the movie Jaws, and said that he really prefers munching on seals! Another small ruckus broke out between the white croaker and stingrays...they were both angry that people would slam them and/or stab them and then throw them back overboard! Mr. Morayeel was able to successfully break up the skirmish through his toughness and tenacity.
A second Guitarfish started playing the electric Stratocaster and was really jamming! The opaleye were doing the "Split-Pea" dance on the floor and were really going crazy! Of course, they munched on frozen peas after the dance...provided by the management! Unbelievably, the elusive and finicky Corbina got into the act and were "Slam-Dancing" with the surfperch and croakers like they were punk rockers out there! The corbina ate soft-shelled sandcrabs on a stick, while the surfperch and croaker made fun of them while eating hard-shell sandcrabs. The corbina endured some ribbing due to their discriminating tastes, but not before the corbina laughed at them for being caught so much by surf fishermen compared to themselves! At this point, Mr. Guitarfish was spent on the guitar...his amp blew, and he broke two strings.
The meeting and jam sessions finally ended to a thunderous applause!! All agreed that they would be satisfied as long as fishermen followed ALL the rules and regulations as well as releasing everything unless they plan on eating it. They all then said their goodbyes, left the pier, swam out to sea, and agreed that they would return again next year (with their kids and families) in even bigger numbers after successful spawns! All pray that our kids will be able to catch their "kids" and that there will always be enough fish in the sea for everyone! They had the greatest time and will be back next year!!!

2002 Fiction: The Pier Destroyer

By BigfootSF

Prologue

"Another one? So soon?" he asked.
Together we watched the horse teams hauling the remains giant wooden beams, smashed like matchsticks, up from the waterís edge. The dead had been removed some time earlier, or swept away to become an ironic feast for sea life.
"I am afraid so." I said. I pinched the front of my coat; I had dressed inadequately for the cold. "And on the heels of the mayhem at Candlestick Point, no less."
"So far inside the bay. He would have been well to attack Pacifica first, as a display of his power.
"He is toying with us, Reno."
"I retain faith in the Army and their Coastal Artillery. It is an honorable branch. I met Major Ellis at the mayorís ball for the Army and the Navy--he marched with Sherman to Atlanta, you know."
I threw up my hands. "Then what? He has proven his worth in bombarding plantations and cotton fields? We face a man, cunning and cruel, and with all the modern advances of our time!"
"And perhaps more," Reno said in a near-whisper. "You are aware of the rumors."
"I am aware of the rumors," I declared, "and I shall replace them with sheer facts. When this cruel fiend proposes to send yet another pier to the bottom, I shall be there, and where the land meets the sea, he shall meet his very end!"

One

I would learn to rue that promise. It hung like an albatross across my neck, growing weightier with every pier smashed and life lost. The latter had been considerable, not merely Anglo-Saxon, but also some Chinese, and the occasional Irishman.
I had maintained my vigil throughout the assault, but somehow, my prey and I had eluded one another. It was maddening. Pier after pier found me in the wrong place at the wrong time. The newspapers were having a field day, lambasting our inability to put a stop to the carnage. They were even publishing highlights of our quarryís manifesto, with veiled sympathies. I found them insufferable.
Truth be told, I sympathized with the man and his views. As an American, I was disgusted with the colonial system. But I hardly understood how he alone, with all the marvels at his disposal, would propose to not only dismantle Europeís colonies, but also free the seas from theft at the hand of man. I agreed that the poaching of sea-game must be brought to heel, and that responsible husbandry of the sea was the only sane policy. But to wreck and tear asunder our piers to stop poaching was an affront to democracy.
Now, there was but one pier left. Surely, we would meet one another once and for all, me on the shoulders of great logs cut from our mighty sequoias, him in his seaborne chariot of destruction. One of us would meet oblivion under the churning green foam.
The high tide was upon us when it suddenly happened. The pier had been crowded with an assortment of pier fishermen, who might be regarded as, in a new term emerging from some particularly scandalous writings out of Germany, as the lumpen proletariat.
It was they who my quarry objected to, or some of them anyway. Those who absconded from the bosom of the sea more game than the law allowed. Those who would tip the balance of nature for sheer greed. Yet I was not only sworn to enforce our game laws for fish, feather, and fur, but also to prevent loss of life and property among those bestowed with the gift of reason.
I pondered this as I stood on the deck of the Pacifica pier. The large barrels seconded from Major Ellis I had ordered towed to the far end of the pier in the dead of night, under conditions of great secrecy. There I had them covered with great swaths of hemp cloth. They provided a welcome respite from the wind and the elements as I scanned the horizon with my spyglass.
Suddenly, there emerged a great cry from a crowd of Orientals who had been stringing crab nets along the northern end of the pier. To a man, they dropped their belongings and fled in the direction of shore in mortal terror. Like a great wave, comprehension of the events about to unfold spread up and down the pier, and amid much shouting and screaming, the pier fishermen surged off the pier in a great stampede.
I ran to the opposite rail. It was he. Great snakes, he was close! The low-slung hull, fashioned after a giant squid, two portholes blazing like the twin suns of Hell itself. He was making incredible speed against the wind, perhaps fifteen knots. No modern vessel could catch him.
There was no time to reflect. I reached for my knapsack and produced the box of matches. I found the fuse connected to the first barrel of black powder and lit it. With a hiss and a spark it started off, and I began to run. I could make out a turbaned figure in one of the portholes. Indeed, it was he.
"To your gods, Nemo!" I shouted. He was impossibly close. Then there was a great explosion, and everything went black.

Two

I awoke to the tactile sensation of fine silk. I willed my eyes open. I found myself in a bed, with the man himself sitting some distance away, a look of inscrutability upon him.
I cleared my throat. My voice would work. "Captain Nemo, I presume? Good day to you, sir."
His voice was deep, as deep as his skin was dark. He had the elegant, refined features of a person of royal heritage. Here was one man for whom the newspapers in description had not done an injustice. "Technically, it is the early hours before dawn. But here in the sea, we dispense with such distinctions."
"I am aboard the Nautilus?"
"You are."
"My black powder?"
"Your little contraption, Iím sorry to say, went awry."
"My government will require my return, Mr. Nemo. Please put me ashore immediately and perhaps when you are finally apprehended our courts will show you some leniency."
"I could put you ashore nowÖbut Iím afraid you would be hard pressed to contact your government from where you would find yourself. You might also find yourself on the local menu, for the people of New Guinea have peculiar traditions in how they greet strangers."
New Guinea! How long could I have slept? I did the calculus. Godís teeth! I had been out for an entire week!
"Mr. Jonesówe discovered your identification card in your trousers when we brought you aboard, you are not unknown to me. You are a conservationist and a principled steward of the oceans. Your public writings hint of a deeper commitment to the spirit of your duties than the letter of the law allows. I have followed your career closely. It was you who I expected on the Pacifica Pier."
"You flatter me, Nemo, but it will get you nowhere. Release me now before the consequences for you become extremely grave."
Nemo fixed eyes upon me and spoke. "Jones, I have a proposition for you. Join the crew of the Nautilus. Help end the rape of the sea. Punish those responsible."
"Never!" I replied, my voice rising. "I am accustomed to operating within the rule of law. I have seen the dead you have caused, Captain. I have stood upon the wrecks of piers and seen your handiwork. I have never wished it my own, merely to put a stop to you."
"I have never attacked a single pier that was not wholly infested with poachers, Jones. I have timed my attacks carefully and spared the innocent. You yourself must have seen the dead with their pockets stuffed with fish, their buckets filled to the point of bursting. Did you think it was a coincidence?"
Nemo had a point. "WhatÖwhat will be asked of me?"
"Merely to serve as a crew member of this ship, to become one of my senior officers."
"My government will sense treachery on my part."
"You will be required to surrender your American citizenship. Here, the sea is our nation."
"Who will I held accountable to?"
"YourselfÖand no-one."
"There is a certain matter in southern California concerning some skiffs. They are an annoyance. Would you care to assist me in resolving the matter?"
"I credit you Americans with some of the more inventive attempts to end my, how should we say, sojourning. I think I have had enough of the United States for now. But if it means you will come aboard as crew, exceptions can be made."
Nemo leaned forward in his chair and extended his hand. "Will you join us, Abraham Jones?"
I breathed deeply, and it was then I discovered my bruised rib. "I will, Captain Nemo."
"Welcome aboard the Nautilius."

2002 Fiction:

Pier Fishing Worldwide Survival Meeting

By corbinaman1

Fished a local pier today and to my amazement, I realized it was the day of the Pier Fishing Worldwide Survival Summit Meeting! This was a meeting where all of the fish meet to address their worldwide survival concerns (as well as a few jam sessions!).
First, the anchovies and sardines swam in. They said that they don't mind being caught on the cute Sabiki's, but they disagree being massively caught in large drop nets with no bait. The flying fish then flew in. I caught 20 of them with my butterfly net to attend the meeting. They didn't mind being used as tuna bait, but they also opposed being purse-seined in the open ocean. The mackerel were next...they agreed that they make good bait and unbelievably, they wanted pier fisherman to use more mackerel strips for bait to catch them! Those crazy mackerel!! The bonitos were next, not many of them though because they were massively purse-seined a few years ago. However they said they are massively spawning now in the open ocean
And they will be back in huge numbers soon! Only one Mr. Grumpy Sandbass and Calicobass were able to attend and boy were they grouchy! They complained that it takes eight long years for them to reach the 12-inch
legal size! They also said it is best to keep the just legal ones and throw back the big guys since they carry ten times the amount of roe compared to the small ones. Finally, there was a small meeting break.
To lighten things up, Mr. Guitarfish started strumming his Stratocaster electric guitar, and the bat rays were really dancing up a storm! They did complain however, that they were tired of losing their stingers and tails to the knife of some pier fishermen. The Salmon were doing the "Salmon-Shuffle" while the Rockfish were doing the "Rockfish-Romp"...both were
getting down out there! Three big halibut joined the dance and did the "Flattie-Flap" dance. They said they love live smelt (to the smelt's chagrin) the most, but were disappointed that many of their under 22-inch buddies couldn't join the show because of a few pier fishermen. The Leopard Sharks did the amazing "Leaping-Leopard" launch, and reminded the fishermen
to release any under 36 inches long.

They then took a break and munched on whole squid appetizers provided by the management. The Striped Bass then took the stage and did a disco version of the "Striper-Shuffle". This got the giant squid into a frenzy and they were squirting water and ink everywhere...even on the big disco ball in the sky! The stripers urged fisherman to follow the rules since they are all the descendents of the original 400 that came here by rail from the East Coast back in 1865!
Mr. Guitarfish at this point was tired and stopped playing, but drew a rousing applause for his fine performance. Unfortunately, a fight broke out between the Sturgeon and Soupfin Sharks. They were each frustrated that they were being illegally kept by some fishermen and took it out on each other. Luckily, Mr. Great White Shark broke up the fight before it got out
of hand. Even he was concerned about his false "man-eating" image due to the movie Jaws, and said that he really prefers munching on seals! Another small ruckus broke out between the white croaker and stingrays...they were both angry that people would slam them and/or stab them and then throw them back overboard! Mr. Morayeel was able to successfully break up the skirmish through his toughness and tenacity.
A second Guitarfish started playing the electric Stratocaster and was really jamming! The opaleye were doing the "Split-Pea" dance on the floor and were really going crazy! Of course, they munched on frozen peas after the dance...provided by the management! Unbelievably, the elusive and finicky Corbina got into the act and were "Slam-Dancing" with the surfperch and croakers like they were punk rockers out there! The corbina ate soft-shelled sandcrabs on a stick, while the surfperch and croaker made fun of them while eating hard-shell sandcrabs. The corbina endured some ribbing due to their discriminating tastes, but not before the corbina laughed at them for being caught so much by surf fishermen compared to themselves! At this point, Mr. Guitarfish was spent on the guitar...his amp blew, and he broke two strings.
The meeting and jam sessions finally ended to a thunderous applause!! All agreed that they would be satisfied as long as fishermen followed ALL the rules and regulations as well as releasing everything unless they plan on eating it. They all then said their goodbyes, left the pier, swam out to sea, and agreed that they would return again next year (with their kids and families) in even bigger numbers after successful spawns! All pray that our kids will be able to catch their "kids" and that there will always be enough fish in the sea for everyone! They had the greatest time and will be back next year!!!

_________________
Support UPSAC! Preserve pier and shore angling in California.
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