Location: Berkeley Pier
|Got out today to do some eastbay fishing. The weather has been less than ideal for certain species but the change in weather has been interesting. There has been weather in this last week much like the middle of winter as spring approaches in 19 days.
Most of the week that just passed was rainy, windy, and cold with winds 20 miles-per-hour and greater with afternoon temperatures in the mid-50's dropping to upper 40's at sundown.
I got out late afternoon today around 2 pm and headed to Emeryville to soak bait for a few hours and read some books related to work simultaneously. Didn't get much read but did get fresh air and a fish on the last cast.
I didn't really know what to expect as the area has been crabbed out in the last month or so, regardless, Emeryville was convenient and close enough to give it a go.
Okay, the tides were supposedly okay according to Tides-4-Fishing with a peak of just over 6 and ebb of about .5. The tide was already topped when I started so I picked an area that would still have water as the tide was going out.
Strategy: Baited up a two-piece, 7' Ugly Tigerstik casting 15-50 and Shimano Charter Special with 65# Power Pro. On the terminal end of things: Simply, starting with a green plastic slydo, 2.5 feet 80# Danielson monofilament, reverse snelled to a 10/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook, 3/0 Danielson barrel swivel, and whole Pacific herring about 7-10".
The fishing.... I baited, waited, baited again. Casted, casted, and casted some more. A lot of crabs. I put on a fresh whole herring every time I reeled in which averaged 20 minutes. The bait was still there on many casts but most of the guts were picked apart each time (thus the fresh bait change).
Finally, on the last cast, which came just about 6:30pm, I was just going to reel in and go home. I got to my rod and realized that there was a harsh tug as I picked up the rod. I set hook with a sideways tug and felt something stick but didn't immediately feel "paydirt." I reeled and reeled and felt a little extra weight but not anything like the wicked tug I felt when I picked up the rod. The line was paid out a lot more than I have thought and I cranked hard and fast on my 4:1. Then, I realized that the line had gone 45 degrees to the right as I engaged the leverdrag about 3/4 of the tension I had set it on and felt some hard ripping of the drag and some wicked head shake in a 1,2,3 rhythm. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I had but it gained a lot of steam now as I put the hammer down on the lever of the Charter Special. Then, I looked to my right, as it was getting dark now, and I saw fins rise out of the water as the fish headed to the rocks 45 degrees out to my right like 100' away as it entire body was exposed as it wriggled nest to the rocks in two feet of water now.
I carefully walked over to where it was, stepped close to it, to see it was a leopard shark every bit of 5 feet and maybe a couple inches with tremendous girth. A guy with a digital SLR came down and snapped off a dozen pictures (for who knows what reason). But he did help me by holding the rod and handing me some good multi-tool he had (with the quality of a Leatherman but started with a J).
I rolled the leopard over gently and grabbed the 80# leader and pulled the huge female close to me. She was eating well (and could have very well been gravid). I looked for the hook but it was well in her mouth so I cut the leader line close to the mouth with the multi-tool and turned her over and she was on her way (still in the water).
The irony Ken, is you just put up that leopard shark post today. I asked the guy with the digi-slr to send me a picture at first but later he acted like it was a big deal, so I didn't mention it again as I packed up immediately after that and left.
I have released many leopards from there over the years.
Below is the first one I actually landed (not released) after missing numerous large ones over (10) years ago.
The one Lisa Dolphin is holding up is from the spot I showed her.
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Well, you lose one you rig one -Quint