Fort Baker/Elephant Rock Pier 9/18, 9/19 - Long Report

#1
I really need to slow down these all day grinds, my body just can't pull a 24 hour day with only 2 hours of sleep like it used to be able to...

Left Reno with wife in tow at 01:30 and had live bait and rods in the water at Fort Baker (yet again...) by 0630. Set up was the same: one rod for salmon, another with a
3-way rig for "Halipers," and my wifes two rods with high/low for anything and everything. The Fort Baker grind was a tough one. The water was nice and clear, small tides, and the wind was bearable...but the fish didn't seem to get the memo for the day. Managed a few small brown rockfish on a Carolina rig and white curly tail grub. Also managed a nice, electric blue lingcod off the deep end on the high/low, but he was undersized so released after the photo op. No bites whatsoever on the salmon trolley, or the other live bait rigs. Fished inshore, mid-way, deep end, ocean side, marina side... you name it, I fished it. I even cast some rigs underneath the pier into the pilings with no result. Decided to change location at about 1530 and head to Elephant Rock.

Arrived with the incoming tide topping out and slacking, which is good for this pier due to the strong current in the channel and the snaggy bottom that all sinkers seem to catch when the tide is outgoing. Instantly started hooking brown rockfish, with most of them being hand-sized and smaller. One very interesting catch was a baby octopus that latched onto an anchovy. It was the first time in my life I have ever hooked one and it was really neat to handle it a little and watch his behavior in the water bucket. My compassion for the little guy overcame my desire to use him for lingcod bait, and much to my wife's delight, I set him free. Small child and his mom came out to crab and fish and they did well with some red rock crabs. I was impressed with the youngsters fishing knowledge and integrity; he reminded me of myself at his age. I helped to show him some new knots and gave him some of my pre-tied rigs to use in the future and he and his mother were thankful and delighted. Planting the positive seeds for the future.
Another man came out and was fishing for jacksmelt to use as lingcod bait in Bodega Bay. He ended up filling a whole bucket in about an hour. Left at around 1730 to grab some food in SF.

We spent the night in Marin and wagered whether or not to fish again. I decided to give it one last go with the rest of the anchovies that had died (and I had kept on ice overnight). Hit the pier at dawn and immediately tied into a couple of rays. The bigger one was 42lbs and put up a hell of a fight with the strong incoming tide. Released both rays and started hooking rockfish and rock crab. Managed to nail 5 healthy keeper male crabs on my anchovy rod, so I decided to keep them so the wife could make her famous 'Crab Udon Noodle' dish. Switched one rod over to a salmon trolley rig. I knew it was a long shot since recent fishing news had reported the salmon bite at Cal City being slow, and there were about a dozen sea lions swimming around, but what the heck. Continued to catch some sporadic jacksmelt and rockfish for the next two hours, with the salmon trolley being quiet the whole time. The tide slacked out and I started to re-rig with a heavier set up on my active rod when I looked up just in time to see the tip of my salmon rod slightly "pop." My eyes instantly shot out to my apple bobber, and within 3 seconds it submerged, and started dragging, and popping out to the channel. I started cranking away like a mad man, thinking that I may have hooked a rogue striped bass...but when the weight finally caught up to the leader and the fish took off, I knew immediately that I had hooked a salmon. It tore off about 35 yards of line like a bat out of hell, with tail walking and jumping headshakes. I was praying that my circle hook was lodged well since I was still suffering my PTSD from the halibut loss last week. Finally had him tired out and in the hoop net, and with the help of my wife, we hauled in a fat, 6lb. salmon. I've never seen a circle hook lodge into a salmon jaw and go through the eye, but that is where I had him, so he must have dove hard on the initial hookset. Finally, a little redemption for my efforts of the past month or so. The last time I landed a salmon from a pier was back in 1999 so this was really something for me. All the money spent on gas/bait/food/lodging, mileage on the car, man hours fishing, and near fanatical devotion had finally paid off. Left tired and happy at about 1230 to head back up to Reno and treat my wife to a nice dinner and foot massage since she puts up with me and my near psychotic addiction to pierfishing.
EF Lingcod.jpg EF Cod.jpg EF Octo.jpg EF Kelp.jpg EF Fight.jpg EF Ray.jpg EF Crab.jpg EF Salmon 1.jpg EF Salmon 2.jpg EF Fillet.jpg
 
#5
Great report! Good job planting those seeds, the future of our religion sport depends on exactly the interactions you described. What bait did that beautiful ling hit?
 
#17
I've never seen a circle hook lodge into a salmon jaw and go through the eye, but that is where I had him.
Congrats on the Salmon! Been looking for a reliable circle hook to use for my trolley rig. What brand, size and model circle hook are you using? Do they come barbless or do you pinch down the barbs? Saw you rig's photo posted on the thread. Would you let us know what's the best leader length and sinker size?
 
#18
Congrats on the Salmon! Been looking for a reliable circle hook to use for my trolley rig. What brand, size and model circle hook are you using? Do they come barbless or do you pinch down the barbs? Saw you rig's photo posted on the thread. Would you let us know what's the best leader length and sinker size?
Hey Skyhook,
I use Gamakatsu octopus circle hooks, size 3/0 and pinch the barb myself. They are very strong and resist corrosion in the tackle box. Also, the sharpest hooks that I can buy up here in Reno. My entire leader from the bobber to hook is 11’ and I prefer 25 lb mono just in case I use a live anchovy. My weight is normally a 1 Oz barrel sinker, but if the tide is ripping, I’ll go with 2 of them to keep the anchovy down. Good luck and let me know if you need more info.
 

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#19
Thanks for the specific info! Really needed it. Been trying to work on a new trolley rig. But needed to make sure about leader length and get a good circle hook recommendation. I’ll post a report if this thing works.
 
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