Morro Bay to Pismo, old fishing trip #2

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: August 28, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones
Subject: Central Coast visit

Following some recent posts about the fish at Morro Bay, I headed down to see the action for myself.

Monday, August 26: arrived in Morro Bay from the hot valley and was greeted by a cold, foggy Morro Bay. After checking into the motel I headed down to the pier.

Morro Bay – North T-Pier: fished from 5-7:15 p.m.
Results: 103 Pacific Sardine
48 Jacksmelt (large sized)
1 Cabezon
All fish released with the exception of 25 or so sardines. The sardines and jacksmelt were in huge schools. Both the jacksmelt and sardines hit on Sabiki rigs that were allowed to sink to a mid-water depth before retrieval. The jacksmelt were closer in and responded to a slight yo-yo jigging approach, the sardines seemed to hit better with a strong pull followed by a slight pause. The lone cabezon hit the pile worm on my second pole, the only bite on that pole.

Cayucos Pier: fished from 7:45-10 p.m.
Results: 53 Kingfish (White Croaker)
2 Staghorn sculpin
There were only a few people were on the pier and it was shrouded in a very dense fog (couldn’t see the shoreline houses from my mid-pier location next to the cleaning station). Almost all the fish hits on strip bait cut from the fresh sardines. Also tried pile worms but the fish liked the sardines best.

Morro Bay – North T-Pier: fished from 10:45-11:45 p.m.
Results: 3 Kelp Rockfish
3 Shinerperch
2 Jacksmelt
2 (What I think were juvenile vermilion rockfish. Body shape like a vermilion or canary rockfish but dark with a black spot on their dorsal fins)
1 Gopher Rockfish
1 Brown Rockfish
Fished in the corner by the Coast Guard boat (and a strong light). Interesting site with eelgrass forced up at against the pilings creating a circular mass of vegetation with a clearing in the middle. On the top of the water was a school of small fish that looked like anchovies but it was constantly being harassed by a couple of what looked like 6-8 inch bocaccio. Herded was a better word as the bocaccio kept turning the school of small fish in circles. Every few minutes the huge school of jacksmelt would travel through, deeper in the water, and you could see literally thousands of the good-sized jacksmelt. I was using my light pole with two pile worm-encrusted hooks and would drift the hooks under the mass of grass or as close to the pilings as I could get and nabbed the small rockfish – none that went over 7 inches long. All were released.

Tuesday, August 27. Got up early and headed over to Port San Luis.

Port San Luis Pier: Fished from 6:45-9:15 a.m.
Results: 22 Bocaccio
12 White croaker
3 Brown rockfish
3 (What I initially thought were speckled sanddabs but they had white spots instead of black spots. May have been baby hallies but we’ll go with sanddabs until I can check further sources.)
1 Cabezon
1 Staghorn Sculpin
1 Shinerperch
Fished out at the end at the right corner. Bocaccio were straight down around the pilings and I could have caught as many as I wanted but only dropped a line there when I got bored. The white croaker were further out. Almost all of the fish hit on strip bait—sardines— although two of the flatfish hit on worms. Was using the light pole with two hooks and a torpedo sinker.

Avila Pier: Fished from 9:50-10:50 a.m.
Results: 4 White croaker
1 Jacksmelt
Slow, slow – with virtually no one getting any fish (even though less than a mile away from the Port San Luis Pier). Was told the sardines were thick the previous afternoon but they were gone this morning. Croaker hit on fresh sardine but the jacksmelt hit in the surf area on a pile worm when I was trying for perch.

Pismo Beach Pier: Fished from11:30 a.m. – 12:30.
Results: 3 Walleye surfperch
1 White croaker
1 Shinerperch
1 Staghorn sculpin
Was told the perch and jacksmelt had been hot and heavy the previous day but again action was only so-so this day. Most people were using Sabiki rigs and getting a few perch, mostly walleye. I was hoping for a few barred surfperch but it was not to be. Too many surfers and too many people although the dolphin that were playing on both sides of the pier were a beautiful and unexpected attraction.

Morro Bay North T-Pier: Fished from 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Results: 25 Jacksmelt
5 Shinerperch
1 Pacific Sardine
Tried my light pole with 2 hooks and some pile worms. Would cast out, let the line settle toward the bottom and then start a slow retrieve. Jacksmelt love pile worms and these fish were no exception. Ten of the 25 jacksmelt were the very large horse smelt variety so had some fun on the light pole. Had to head back but would love to have stayed a few more days. By the way, the weather the second day was clear and warm, in fact almost hot. Quite a contrast from Monday although it was earlier in the day. Maybe the fog moved in later.

Trip summary – Lots of fish but none were big. Had fun and was able to avoid the valley heat for a couple of days.