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>> Trip 2: Pigeon Point Casting Comedy [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:04 am
ryanrs


Posts: 31
Location: San Francisco

The rest of my fishing gear arrived last week, setting the stage for my second fishing trip: this time with a rod and reel!

I bought an enormous 11 ft Shakespeare Ugly Stik and a Daiwa BG 6500 spinning reel. I wanted something affordable, durable, and heavy duty enough to fling crab snares. I also bought a bunch of little odds and ends to make my own leaders, cut and clean fish, walk in the water, etc. Oh, and a fishing license. Surprisingly, the rod and reel only made up about a third of the overall cost to get started.

So all this gear has been sitting in my closet last week while I waited for it to stop raining and the swells to go down. In the mean time I busied myself with learning how to tie fishing knots. At this point I can competently tie an improved clinch, a perfection loop, a palomar knot, an albright bend, and a snell knot. I think these five knots are enough to for now. Clearly the next step is to actually go fishing.


Pigeon Point, south side - calm seas, light breeze, nice t-shirt weather!


Although the setting was beautiful and the conditions serene, the reality on the beach was quite different from all the catch and cook videos I've been watching online. Specifically: I didn't catch any fish. I feel like youtube lied to me.

The main thing I learned today is that while casting looks pretty intuitive, it is actually kinda hard. And I'm sure my giant 11 ft surf rod isn't helping. So I spent the afternoon practicing casting. Not to gain distance, but just to make the bait fly in right general direction. And that's it! I didn't even really try to catch fish. I just cast and immediately retrieved my bait. Towards the end I even cut off my hook to cut down on snagging (since it turns out that snapping 50# mono leader can be a hassle).

Tomorrow I'm going to head out again to practice more casting. This time I'll go to a sandy beach so I don't get as many snags (San Gregorio?). Maybe I'll catch a perch by accident, heh.

To make up for my incompetent fishing, I stopped at 99 Ranch on the way home and bought a whole striper, ostensibly to practice my filleting skills. I should have taken a picture, but instead I just ate it. My misshapen, ragged fillets were delicious!

Conditions
Pigeon Point, south side
Jan 13, 2017, 2:30 PM
Low tide -0.43 ft
Swells W 5.2 ft, but beach is sheltered by the point, note waves in the distance
Wind 5 mph
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:41 am
sea++


Posts: 278
Location: San Francisco

That setup in particular-- the 11ft uglystick and the BG6500-- are definite beasts of burden, but can be murder on your wrists if you forget to set it down from time to time!

Glad to hear you went out and got some practice casting amongst the rocks. It's something that I've found takes quite a bit of practice, especially getting proficient at recognizing what spots are likely to hold fish. Pigeon Point in particular is not for the faint of heart or short of backup leaders. There are some reliable areas that you will be able to drop your line into deeper water but they require a bit of scrambling about the rocks.




Any of those spots (better accessible during lower swell or outgoing tide) will offer you the chance to do light underhanded casts to only a few feet away but still deep enough to get the attention of fish that are hanging around. Tossing your line right up next to structure like those rocks will increase the chance of snags, but you won't need to soak your bait for longer than a minute or two if there are any fish around that are hungry. Fish holed up around structure like that tend to be lying in wait for any food that crosses their path. Just keep your drag tight.

As for other beaches to practice your casting around the the rocks, I'd suggest the far southern (https://goo.gl/maps/RijySi7uHyz) or far northern end (https://goo.gl/maps/rmMPKTRC9kP2) of Bean Hollow, just up the road. Pescadero SB also has a number of spots that can be productive. There's a ton of great fishing all along that string of beaches stretching from Pigeon Point northward, as well as Greyhound Rock just a few miles south of PP. You've got a ton of prime spots to cast out from! Just keep it up!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:43 am
ryanrs


Posts: 31
Location: San Francisco

I was about a half mile ENE from there. It was a sandy beach interspersed with rocky outcroppings. To give you an idea of the tide level, the big rock island directly to the east of your spots looked accessible by walking through knee-high water. But that was at min tide, and I did not relish having to swim back.

(Interesting note: these low tides are 24 hours apart, not 12, so you're in for a very long wait if you don't want to swim!)

I did see those big rocks you highlighted, but chose to skip them. This may sound a little silly, but handling that rod felt so awkward that I decided I'd better spend my first day flailing around on the beach before trying it up on a high rock.

Would the HMB jetty work as a place I can hit deep-ish water without casting very far?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:57 am
sea++


Posts: 278
Location: San Francisco

ryanrs wrote:
I was about a half mile ENE from there. It was a sandy beach interspersed with rocky outcroppings. To give you an idea of the tide level, the big rock island directly to the east of your spots looked accessible by walking through knee-high water. But that was at min tide, and I did not relish having to swim back.


Ahh I see. I've only tried beach-casting from the spot directly to SE of the lighthouse, accessible by those big stairs. Lots of weed and rocks make it difficult to not snag horribly unless you get some elevation. I've only ever caught a few striped perch, a grassy, and an undersized greenling there but have seen (in person and on YT) people pull out much better fish from shore. You're right about that rock island and not wanting to get stuck. I'd say if you ever decide you want to explore that 1) bring a friend and 2) find a day that there's a minus tide mid-day or even in the morning. That'll give you a solid 2-3 hour window to get out to it and fish around it safely if the swell is also under 5ft.


ryanrs wrote:
I did see those big rocks you highlighted, but chose to skip them. This may sound a little silly, but handling that rod felt so awkward that I decided I'd better spend my first day flailing around on the beach before trying it up on a high rock.


Oh I totally understand! Overhead casting with that setup definitely takes getting used to, which is why I always feel more comfortable finding a spot higher up and just tossing my line out underhand. I feel I have better control and definitely more accurate. You're doing the right thing by just practicing and getting comfortable with your gear though.

ryanrs wrote:
Would the HMB jetty work as a place I can hit deep-ish water without casting very far?


Absolutely. The south jetty would probably be your best bet simply because it's a shorter walk and slightly more protected than the north jetty. Again, watch those swell reports.

Looking forward to more reports!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:38 am
giantbrookie


Posts: 36
Location: San Francisco Bay Area & Fresno

ryanrs wrote:

Would the HMB jetty work as a place I can hit deep-ish water without casting very far?

Yes the HMB jetties can get you into reasonably deep water with short casts/tosses. As many have said, when fishing jetties the key is NOT to cast far from them but to drop your offering at the foot of the rocks, because most of the fish are hanging out near the rocks of the jetty themselves (or within the crevices of the submerged rocks).

I sympathize with the casting challenges you've faced. I had fished for decades with ultralight trout gear in the high mountains before trying my hand at fishing off the rocks and sand. My first efforts (with a 9' rod that I still use) were at places (mainly beaches) and I had a bit more room for error in my casts. For a long time I found my casts going all over the place--sometimes even "sideways". One of my worst casts ever, turned out to be my most successful because an errant sideways cast at the beach sailed into the foam, and I quickly retrieved for a recast--but a legal striper hit the bait. To this day that is the one and only striper I ever caught. In any case the challenge of casting heavy rigs was enough that my no. 1 fishing buddy (my wife who has fished over 500 lakes of the High Sierra with me) quickly soured on surf fishing and we seldom went out (after the early 90s). As I returned to fish the rocks and beaches more often than ever before this past year with my son, it took awhile to get the hang of casting the heavy rig. I think it is good to practice at a beach first to get the feel down but without the demands of 'accuracy or snag your rig' before going to progressively more difficult areas off the rocks where some accuracy may be required in addition to some distance. Even after a year of saltwater fishing when I put in more days than I had in my entire life before 2017, I can't say my casts go where I want them to go all the time, but I think there is little doubt that as with anything else, more casts equates to more accuracy as time goes on.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:56 pm
porkchopXpress


Posts: 75
Location: sonoma coast

Check out some youtube videos on surf casting. There are some great tutorial videos out there. I personally like Ron Arra, John Skinner and the Surfcasters Journal. Those east coast guys really know what they are doing. Might help
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:31 pm
seabass_seeker


Posts: 1865
Location: Clovis

Long rods are tricky! Just keep doing what you're doing and you'll find em.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:44 pm
Rebop


Posts: 14
Location: San Mateo

ryanrs wrote:
To give you an idea of the tide level, the big rock island directly to the east of your spots looked accessible by walking through knee-high water. But that was at min tide, and I did not relish having to swim back.


They call it "prisoner rock" for that very reason.
Definitely something I would wade out to as soon as I could and then fish through a negative tide and leave early before getting stranded. I grew up and learned to fish in South Florida so the Pacific still terrifies me very much. I didn't have to know what the swell was before going out until I moved here (luckily only got my butt kicked by the surf out here once, but that was enough).
It'll probably be a long time before I ever attempt prisoner rock but I'm very curious about the spot.

I've had good luck with a poke pole in the rocks north of the lighthouse during a minus tide. Decent grassy and a short cabezon. Lots of rocks and weeds makes for good fishing despite their frustrations. I bet it's an awesome spot.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:13 am
ryanrs


Posts: 31
Location: San Francisco

Note that the rock was infested with seals.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:13 am
RobF


Posts: 575

Here's a tip, that I learned by trial and error, for more accurate casting of a long surf rod. When you have the rod tip pointing behind you as you prepare to cast, steady the swinging sinker, and point the butt of the rod to the point you want to hit in the water. Practice this, and you will hit your spot most of the time.
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