Low Tide Poke Poling at HMB, July 5

I headed out this morning to poke pole the minus tide at HMB, south jetty. I was out at the north jetty two days ago and there was no one around. This morning was different. Not crowded when I arrived at 6, but definitely a few folks piling out to pump/dig for clams and a couple other parties with poke poles.

I walked out and started poking somewhere in the low 30s. It was dead for the first hour or so and then I had a big fella slam my squid. This was about peak low tide. 27" eel would be my guess. I had him in the bag, when the eel flexed and flopped, and said bag (a cheap Costco wastebasket liner) split. My eel slithered to freedom. Lesson #1: I really need an abalone dive bag.

About 30m later, I hooked a nice 24-incher. Another party took pity on me, and shuttled a stout garbage bag my way. I was taking no chances. I didn't even unhook the eel, just cut the line but only once he was secure in the bag and the bag was secure in my shoulder bag. Lesson #2: Use a backpack when poke poling. That shoulder bag got heavy.

I hooked a little hand-sized Cabezon, a grass rockfish, and a 12" eel, all released. I started back from about 43-1/2 to the car around 10. There were many other parties casting into the surf, largely bait and wait on surf leaders. Nobody I spoke too had caught anything, but I did spy a single rockfish on a stringer mid-jetty.

Equipment used was a homemade bamboo poke pole (6' chunks of bamboo are dirt cheap in the garden center), 3/0 Octopus hooks, 50# mono. I also carried a rod and reel "in case", but never used it. Lesson #3: When poke poling, leave behind everything that doesn't fit on your back. Need to be mobile.

This was my first landed eel. It was quite the learning experience to actually kill and clean him. I've never had a fish die so hard.

Eel tacos are on the menu tonight, and I'm definitely ready for the next low tide. IMG_20190705_150353.jpg


Active Member
Good job out there.
In my experience, those monkey faced eels have a strong survival instinct. What worked for me was to just decapitate them with a sharp knife. Use an old rag to hold them down and a quick slice does the trick. Another method is a bit more time consuming but you ice them down when you get home. They should be much easier to deal with after being iced down.
Regarding the dive bag: I've used mesh bags from oranges/potatoes to a good extent. Must less bulky than the gunny sacks and doesn't retain water. However, you need to change them out for new ones every so often since the mesh nylon of the orange/potato sacks fray much easier. If you can, you can also use cleaned out nylon food bags such as rice or cat food/dog food.