Favorite fish story...

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: March 2, 2006
To: PFIC Message Board
From: StripeSideChaser
Subject: What's your favorite pier fish story?

The night I caught sturgeon fever...

I was striper fishing one cold February night (2004) at the Antioch Bridge pier. I had just gotten there and it was the very end of the incoming tide. Had my trusty setup (Penn 940 Levelmatic loaded with 15 lb Trilene Big Game - 165 yards, on an 8' Ugly Stick Tiger (a really rare, light weight, 2pc version of the tiger))... obviously, I wasn't targeting sturgeon.

I was using my last leader, so I put a very small frozen shad on the hook (figured nothing would mess with it while I tied up some new leaders). I kept getting these little taps on my frozen shad and thought it was a little shaker striper. Finally, I got so tired of the "little sucker" playing with my bait, I ripped the rod up in a hookset motion. I wasn't really trying to set the hook, just to scare the little bugger away.

The rod doubled over and I thought "great, the little guy dropped my bait in a snag". I kept messing with the line, just trying to get it to come free without breaking. Sure enough, the "snag" came loose and I started to reel in. I felt a little bump and thought, "the little guy is snagged on the hook" and kept reeling. All of a sudden, I felt a big bump and figured the "little guy" was bigger than expected, so I set the hook again... hard!

I guess the sturgeon finally realized he was hooked and took off! He ran straight up the river and just about the time he got even with the entrance to the Driftwood Marina (maybe 75 yds out), he went airborne... that was when I realized I wasn't fighting just a really big striper. He continued to run straight up the river and it was soon obvious that the beast was going to spool me, as I had as much drag on the line as I dared (probably running about 7 or 8 lbs... way more than you are supposed to put on 15 # test). Just as the spool got down to no more than 30 or 40 wraps, the beast turned and ran parallel to the pier. I chased him up about 4 lights and suddenly, he turned and came straight for the pier. I had to spin that little reel as fast as I could to keep up, but got most of my line back. The fish kept going, passing right under the pier (fortunately without touching any of the pilings) and started peeling line back off my reel. At one point I realized that my rod was bent so far that the tip was under the pier, which put it in a bend that was past the butt. I'm pretty sure that any rod that didn't have the flexibility of the Ugly Stick would have broken.

That fish kept going and had almost spooled me again, so I finally put my thumb to the spool. I felt the line stretch, but I finally got the fish turned around and headed back to the pier. Luck was with me again, as he was tired enough that he came straight back and I was able to get him back underneath the pier without breaking my line. My buddy (who had caught about 25 sturgeon himself) got the crab ring and I was able to guide him through the lines. As his nose went through, I dipped the rod so the leader wouldn't hang up and as he centered, my partner lifted the ring. We had no idea that this beast was as big as it was (it really isn't easy to get a good size estimate from 15' above the water).

Anyway, after an awesome, 45 minute fight, the fish taped at 77" and since we didn't have a camera, he went back in as soon as we measured. Neither of us even commented on the possibility of keeping an oversized fish, as it would definitely have been wrong (not to mention illegal).

When I went to cast the next bait out, I got a horrible backlash and realized that the fish had totally fried my levelwind!

I guess that releasing that fish really was good mojo, because I told some friends about the fish and we all met there the following Friday night. I got to the pier (with a heavier rig this time), and met my friends at the end. They said they had been there for 4 hours and nobody had even a tap. I baited up a double hook sturgeon rig with a pile worm and a ghost shrimp (shad really isn't the best bait for sturgeon), set up my tackle box, opened a beer and sat down. No sooner than I sat down, did I look at my rod and sure enough, the tip was doing the classic "sturgeon pump" (literally, the first time I'd ever seen it happen). 15 minutes later, I had my first keeper sturgeon... a feisty 57" 45 lb'er on the deck.

BTW, that reel is gone... slipped out of my hand while casting lures in the rain. Gee, do I miss that little reel!

I fish, therefore I lie!

Posted by pinfish

Not necessarily my favorite but I was thinking about it yesterday: My dad would take us to the Trident submarine base wharf in Cape Canaveral Florida every weekend to do some night fishing for Bluefish. My dad was always the bait fisherman. We used either cut up pinfish or live pinfish on heavy gear and wire leader. I was about 8 years old so I don't remember the details of the gear. All we did was let the bait go down the side of the pier and wait for the marauding school of Blues. They would come and go like a piranha attack (I suppose from watching movies) and then most of the night its quiet. Every weekend, same thing. We caught maybe 3-4 a night. Also used a pyramid crab cage to catch blue crabs. Sometimes it got too slow so we would walk up and down the 300 yard pier/wharf and fish various spots. Since my dad was in the Navy there were only few people on that huge pier so we had free reign. Like I said, my dad, to this day, fishes 100% with bait. That's how I started out.

One night we were just walking down the wharf and my dad stopped in a spot in between two ships and put on a huge metal spoon (I still have it), threw out, swept it really fast, and pulled in a big bluefish on his first and only cast. After that I never saw him use a lure until just this year while we went grubbing. That night it was such a mysterious thing he did. Nowadays I am using lures when I fish about 90% of the time.

Posted by moonshine

As a kid I used to fish the Redondo short pier at King Harbor almost every weekend. We'd catch everything from opaleye and spider crabs to bonito and barracuda in a single evening of fishing.

One night, my buddy Paul hooks a senorita fish on his perch rig only to find that the fish had swallowed the hook. Short on basic hardware, and most importantly, GOOD SENSE, Paul decides to cut the line with his teeth. A moment later, he lets out a scream that grabs the attention of everyone on the pier. The fish had grabbed Paul by the upper lip! At first, he let it hang there like a piece of punk jewelry, hoping it would let go. Then he shook his head, with that flopping fish slapping him in the face the whole time. Finally, he grabbed it by the tail and pulled, doing the saddest impression of a platypus eating his dinner we'd ever seen. The senorita eventually got the message and released its death grip, but not before leaving a bloody pea-sized hickey on Paul's lip. In the words of Dave Barry there was not a dry pair of underwear in the house. After regaining our composure, we were subjected to Paul's tirade as to why none of us had come to help him. We kidded him for years about having a way with the senoritas.

Posted by DanTheFisherman

Always the one that gets away...One of my buddy’s lost a fish this year that I will never forget. Neither of us knows what it really was. It was as long as a car, white, and it jumped 30 times. I think it was Flipper (a Dolphin). It was a beautiful sight set against the Golden Gate Bridge on a fantastic night. Definitely out of this world! The thing that gets me the most, is that fish of its kind let you know that there is something in the water that you can't always catch. It adds a level of competitiveness and mysteriousness to the sea.