Toward the morning, due to the number of visitors to the net for sushi, I was running out of bait. If we had only kept the Spanish mackerel! Not as good as bonito, but better than nothing. I started to put sardine, squid, or whatever bait looking stuff I had in some small nets and in the bait boxes.
As the sun came up, once again I tried both bonito rigs. No takers. I switched between bait and lure fishing while Skipper kept pulling in opaleye after opaleye.
When I went to get a cup of coffee and breakfast from the small snack shop at the Mole, I was told that they might not open since no boats were coming in. SAY WHAT? I went to the Catalina Express ticket office across from the snack shop and sure enough they did not know if any boat were coming to take people back from the island. We were scheduled for the 7:30 p.m. departure.
I called the Hermosa Hotel, and Ms. Mindy, the manager, reserved a room for us. Later at check-in, due to our past loyalty, she gave us two rooms for the price of one. We got some much needed sleep. God bless her. She was looking forward to our April Get Together.
Now we were not in a hurry to pack, since we were staying overnight. We moved back to the GPP, and I went to get the room keys. I made a pit stop for some fish and chips and glass of brew. Skipper continued fishing and kept getting Spanish mackerel. Later we had a light dinner at the Antonio’s restaurant where we hang out during our trips. If I am going to be stranded any place, what a better place than Avalon on Santa Catalina Island.
Next day (Wednesday) we packed, had our normal delicious breakfast at Jacks, and went to the head of the line for the 11:45 boat. No more Mr. nice guy. We were told that the 8:00 am boat had been crowded and that our boat was going to be the last one out for that day.
The trip going back was rough even though we were on a catamaran. The captain went parallel to the island as much as possible to use the island as a shield. We saw extremely beautiful rock formations and emerald blue water and some extremely good looking fishing spots on shore.
This one was one for the books. Windy, cold, getting stranded, staying up for 30 hours, lots of fish, productive hooping and more. Not something I can do often, but next season I will be doing it again, health permitting. The End.
A nice mix of lobster and fish following an eventful trip
Date: March 12, 2010; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: Ken Jones; Subject: A cold and windy night at Avalon
It seemed fairly simple, why not spend a couple of days at Catalina following the Fred Hall Fishing Show in Long Beach? Hashem had been making some trips over to Catalina during the winter in pursuit of Panulirus interruptus aka bugs or California spiny lobster. It was going to be a very long and tiring weekend but why not? In many ways it could be a precursor to the Catalina Get Together in April; you know, kind of getting the blood ready for the big event… The plan was to head over early Monday morning, spend mid-day fishing at the Green Pleasure Pier, and then move over to the Mole for an all-night fish and lobster fest.
Upon arrival we moved to the Green Pleasure Pier where we found the fish off their feed. The normally over-abundant kelp bass were virtually absent from the pier and many of the normal species were not biting. In fact, the water looked empty of fish, a rare sight at the pier. The one exception was Spanish mackerel (jack mackerel) that would flock to the top of the water when peas where thrown out. The only thing they seemed to want was peas. Not worms, not pieces of shrimp, not strips of baitfish or squid, not lures or Sabikis; the preference was peas—and carrots. Hashem had brought a package of frozen peas and carrots and surprisingly the fish were hitting on both. They peas were attacked first but then the fish moved to the carrots. Luckily we had picked up some ghost shrimp and they were attracting some sheephead. Four and a half hours of desultory action brought me 25 fish: 10 jack mackerel, 5 sheephead, 3 jacksmelt, 3 rock wrasse, 2 senorita, 1 opaleye and 1 garibaldi.
At 3:15 we moved to the Mole where, as expected, the fishing was slower than the GPP though with a slightly more diverse group of fish. The fishing was also scheduled to slow at sundown when many of the island’s species go to sleep for the night (including sheephead). But there are some fish to be had even after the sun is swallowed up by Mother Ocean (including rockfish and the big-eyed salema). While Hashem was setting up his lobster traps I continued to do some fishing though the temperature was dropping and I was getting just a little chilly. It was interesting to see what worked best at night and strips of squid, and pieces of market shrimp, proved best.
Hashem had said it could be cold. His instructions: bring layers of clothing, bring Long John’s, bring gloves, and bring a woolen cap. Easy for him to say; I had brought gloves but mistakenly left them back in my car on the mainland; I did not own a pair of Long John’s and figured it wasn’t worth spending the money on a new pair (do I hear the word cheap? I’ve got Welsh heritage instead of Scotch, but still am a penny pincher at times). But the temperature was dropping into the low ‘50s, the wind continued to pick up (and would reach a rate of over 30 mph), and the wind chill factor dropped into the ‘20s. In addition, the doctor had just given me some new medicine AND I had absolutely NO energy.
At 10 p.m. I stopped fishing; I was just too cold and tired. Five hours at the Mole and all it had produced was 26 fish: 8 salema, 7 kelp bass, 2 kelp rockfish, 2 sheephead, 2 opaleye, 2 jack mackerel, 1 halfmoon, 1 senorita and 1 blacksmith. Not bad but not great and the majority were caught before the Sun took its nap.
Hashem had said be prepared but I was the one who did not follow the 7 P’s and I paid the price. When the wind really picked up (double red flags were blowing) we moved over behind the buildings for a little protection from the wind. Or, I should say I did because Hashem kept busy checking his traps every twenty minutes or so. I finally decided to sit down and Hashem suggested taking a nap. I tried! But on the bench I was freezing cold, I was shaking uncontrollably and cold to the bone, tendons, and capillaries. I was dreaming of the homeless and my sympathy changed to empathy. Worse, I was thinking what the doctor would say if I ran into any problems. It was a night for Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking. It might have been a good night for those thoughts but my body and brain just wouldn’t cooperate.
I finally fell asleep and somehow stretched together enough 20-minute naps to total about four hours of sleep. Evidently it was a sleep that was worrisome to Hashem. He said when I way laying on my left side I was quiet as a mouse (pier rat?) and he wasn’t sure that I was breathing. However, when I turned over to get my face to the building I was as quiet as a baby (a baby walrus that is). Bellowing like one of those gnarled old bull sea lions that control a huge harem. Last time I looked I didn’t have a harem.
Finally at about 2 a.m., I awoke, and I actually felt somewhat refreshed, even if still very cold. Luckily Hashem had brought some coffee and a pot and soon we had some hot Joe (which helped me break the doctor’s prohibition against caffeine) and some hot soup. Those items were winners at 3:30 a.m. and felt oh so good. Thank you, thank you, thank you Hashem! I decided to give fishing a try again at 4:30 but after the wind blew my hat into the Pacific I decided to let the wind calm a little, or at least I hoped it would. No more fishing that night but some good company and anticipation for the coming dawn. As for Hashem, his lobster quest had started out slow but the windiest time and roughest seas actually produced a plethora of the creepy crawlers. He caught about 30 of the achelate crustaceans, although “only” six were keeper-size bugs (and they were BIG keepers). He said it was his best night ever.
Around a quarter to six the Sun starts to peak over the mainland hills and I was never so glad to see Mr. Sol and his warming rays. Although the wind had abated somewhat, it was still fairly strong. It was going to be hard fishing unless we found a spot with better cover.
A lovely dawn looking from the Mole toward Lovers Cove and Rocky Point
However, first light often means bonito out on the Mole and a good opaleye bite out at the corner. The opaleye did show up and produced some excellent fishing for part of an hour but the bonito never did show. I caught a half dozen opaleye and a variety of other fish but finally we both decided for some cover from the wind. Although the wind had shown a slight reduction in intensity early in the morning, the fury returned and we moved the equipment down behind the buildings near the cove that I wanted to check out.
Luckily the south end of the Mole is behind buildings and the more I studied the very far end, the area by the shore, the more I became convinced that it might yield a moray eel, the fish I’ve been seeking out this past year. That small cove at the end of the Mole looked promising—an area abutting a rocky shoreline with numerous holes.
Soon I was dropping a single bait down into a rocky area filled with holes and crevices and soon had a few taps that gave promise. Like other piers that extend over rocks in inshore areas, the hard thing to do is avoid tangling sinker or hooks in the crevices that contain the fish. At low tide you can see the holes and promising areas and get an idea what you want to do. But given the waves and surge it isn’t easy to keep your rigs from being lost. What you have to do is feel the rocks, the difference between kelp-grabs and fish, when to pull and when to let the let the rig be free. You want the sinker lightly resting on the bottom and you have to be prepared for every strike.
As I was fishing I thought over how many times I have done this and how easy it would be to lose some rigs (and you almost always lose at least a few). But I could feel what was happening to the sinker. I wondered what would happen if you shut your eyes and forced yourself to feel the bottom; I tried it and I even seemed to feel the bottom better. I’m not suggesting you always close your eyes when fishing but it may not be a bad idea to practice closing the eyes at times and seeing if you can better feel and visualize the bottom? Just a thought!