Newport to Goleta, old fishing trip #3

Ken Jones

Staff member
Lots of good memories with our early PFIC members.

Date: December 16, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones
Subject: A Short Little Trip to the Southland

Had a couple of appointments in Los Angeles last week and decided to combine business and pleasure by taking off a few days to go fishing. I didn’t expect much due to the time of the year and thus wasn’t disappointed when I caught so little.

(1) Redondo Sportfishing Pier: 12/10/02
Whenever I have the opportunity I like to check out this pier because of the non-traditional pier species that are available. Unlike most southland piers that present mainly sandy-shore species, this pier almost always has some rocky-shore species lurking under the mid-pier area and by the rocks. In addition, the deep waters out at the end often yield some unusual species.
After an early morning drive down from Lodi, and finding a motel, I arrived at the pier and was set to begin fishing by 1 p.m. Unfortunately, an angler already had the spot I wanted by the rocks and was casting out plastics. So, I moved down the rail and starting fishing with the pile worms I had brought from Stockton. I started to get a few bites but nothing spectacular; in one hour I landed 3 blackperch and 1 blacksmith. Next I moved out to the end where I tried some cut anchovies and ghost shrimp. But nothing seemed interested and after 40 minutes I headed back to the mid-pier area. The angler by the rocks had not had a hit so he decided to leave and, of course, I grabbed the inshore spot.
I spotted what appeared to be fairly good-sized opaleye by the rocks so continued with pile worms and pieces of ghost shrimp. Luckily the wave action was moderate and I was able to drop the bait down into the holes and cervices in the rocks without losing my gear. The result was some steady action that included blackperch, opaleye, giant kelpfish, kelp bass, cabezon and a sargo.
Fished: 1:05-5:05 (when they shut the gate and kicked me out).
Gear was two rods and reels: a light action spinning outfit (Penn 4500 SS reel and rod by Ron Crandall), and a medium-action spinning outfit (Penn reel and rod by Ron Crandall). Terminal tackle was two size 6 hooks on 8-pound fluorocarbon line with a 1-ounce torpedo sinker on the lighter rig, a high-low set-up on the larger rig equipped with size 4 hooks and a 2-ounce sinker.
12 blackperch – mostly 1/3-1/2 pounders
3 opaleye – one weighing an estimated 1 1/2 pounds
2 blacksmith
2 giant kelpfish – one large, one small
1 kelp bass – 11 inches
1 cabezon – approximately 1 1/2 – 2 pounds
1 sargo – approximately 1 pound
All in all a nice afternoon with shirt-sleeve weather and steady action. Also saw some large and skittish garibaldi scooting around the rocks, truly beautiful fish.

(2) Redondo Beach Pier: 12/10/02
After the steady action at the small pier, I was now ready for something different, perhaps a run of macs, a shark or ray, or even a halibut. For once it wasn’t too crowded and I was able to get a good spot (or at least what I thought was a good spot) on the old Monstad section of the pier. Unfortunately I shared an uneventful night in which I saw (I think) two fish caught by the 30-40 anglers (a small thornback and a round stingray). It was absolutely dead. Tried cut anchovies, squid, and ghost shrimp with no bites.
However, the night was beautiful (I even took off my coat) and the top of the water for several hundred yards around the pier was covered by sea birds, hundreds/thousands or heck, maybe millions of them, placidly sitting atop the water. Might have been baitfish under them but I didn’t see any. Did see one boat come into their midst for a half hour or so equipped with strong light shining into the water. But didn’t see anyone on deck. A mystery but a minor one (but probably fishing for squid). So, a great night but not for the fishing.
Fished: 5:45- 7 p.m.
Results: 0 Fish, 0 Bites.

(3) Redondo Sportfishing Pier: 12/11/02
Decided to give the pier another try in the morning hoping for some more opaleye. Did get some opaleye, black perch and a cabezon but all of the fish were on the small side, none exceeding 1/2 pound. In addition, the surge action from the waves made it hard to hold in the desired spots in the rocks without the rocks grabbing the sinker/or hooks. Caught a few fish but it wasn’t as good as the previous night. The most effective bait remained the pile worms.
Fished: 7:15-9 a.m.
4 Opaleye
4 Blackperch
1 Cabezon

(4) Cabrillo Pier: 12/11/02
“Any fish biting” I asked the angler in the parking lot. “A few mackerel and jacksmelt,” he replied. Sounded about normal since I’ve caught a lot of both from this pier. Well, apparently it was an early morning bite since I saw neither species. There were only about 10 anglers on the pier and none seemed to be getting fish when I arrived. However, I set up shop out at the far end (where the water is a little deeper) and cast out a pile worm. First cast and what shows up but a lizardfish of about a foot in length. Assumed there would be more since they typically occur in fairly large schools but didn’t see another one.
Cast out cut anchovies and ghost shrimp on the heavier outfit, pile worms on the light outfit. Fished for an hour and a half with limited success, the lizardfish, 3 white seaperch and a speckled sanddab. Tried a few plastics and cast some pile worms up against the rocks near the jetty but no hits.
Finally decided to try the shallow end of the pier. Found some fairly steady action on white seaperch in that area using pile worms. Probably could have caught quite a few more if I had wanted to fish a little longer but wanted to try a new pier.
Fished: 10:15 a.m. – 12:45
10 White Seaperch
1 California Lizardfish
1 Speckled Sanddab

(5) Newport Pier: 12/11/02
My old stomping grounds! Unfortunately it was a trash man’s dream visit—mainly bullheads (staghorn sculpin—the main bait stealin’ trash fish for the entire state), white croaker (aka tomcod and Pasadena sewer trout), and thornback rays (throw-em-backs, one of the southland’s main trash fish). What a great variety!
Actually it was an interesting evening. Upon arrival I was able to get a good spot out by the end and within a short time I was able to latch onto the coveted northwest corner. It was obvious that it was a wintertime crowd, as in not too crowded.
A delight at this pier is the occasional unexpected fish since it adjoins a deepwater canyon. Sure enough about 7:30 a strange looking eel was caught by a neighboring angler. Wasn’t sure what type it was; thought of a worm eel but didn’t have my identification book with me (didn’t follow the 7 P’s—Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pi.. Poor Performance). And soon after, a twin of the first eel was caught. This time the angler was scared (thought it might be a snake) and I had to grab a rag and take it off his hook (and it was like a snake in its ability to wrap around my hand and arm). Since he didn’t want anything to do with the eel he gave it to me and I put it on ice for later identification. Soon after I pulled in another eel-like fish that I thought might be an eelpout or a brotula (but was a basketweave cusk-eel, the first I had caught at the pier since a similar fish in 1962). It too went onto the ice in my cooler.
Also had a nice conversation with one of the regulars who was crabbing. He managed a decent-sized but ugly spider crab and a legal-size rock crab. But that was all except for 40-50 smaller illegal size crabs. You don’t see too many people crabbing down south.
Fished: 4:15-8:45 p.m.
6 Staghorn Sculpin
5 Thornback Rays
5 White Croaker
1 Basketweave Cusk-Eel

(6) Balboa Pier: 12/12/02
Planned to fish with Snookie and her group this morning and knew we would be in the mid-pier area after her arrival so arrived early so that I could see what was biting out at the end. Started fishing there at 7 a.m. and an hour’s effort produced exactly 0 fish. Tried anchovies, squid, and ghost shrimp with no bites or fish.
Finally moved closer to shore where some jacksmelt fishermen (and fisherladies) were casting out rigs with about 12 hooks and large bobbers. And, I might add, getting some nice jacksmelt! I didn’t feel like rigging up similar rigging but did cast out my light pole with two size 6 hooks and pile worms. Managed 2 barred surfperch, 2 jacksmelt and 1 thornback. Still slow but at least I wasn’t skunked.

After Snookie and her gang showed up we proceeded to make some bait. Sardines were thick and we all jigged up some live bait to use for the flatties. We managed some bait but no halibut on this day although Snookie had one good strike. But who cared? The conversation and companionship was great as always. I found out two of the group formerly held world records for fish, one for a corbina, but the records had been eclipsed. No big deal, there are more important things in life. But the fishing was slow, about all we managed were a couple more thornbacks.
It was interesting watching a crew film an In & Out Burger commercial. A Jim Carey look-a-like was peddling a small bicycle up and down the pier, together with a girl dressed as a waitress. They finally broke for lunch out at Rubys.
Snookie did have her copy of A Field Guide To Pacific Coast Fishes and we checked out the two eels I had brought her to see. We thought the longer eel was a Pacific worm eel and the second was a basketweave cusk eel. (We were apparently wrong about the first eel. On Friday I had an appointment with biologists from the Department of Fish and Game in Long Beach. While there I asked them to identify the eels. They said the longer eel was a Yellow Snake Eel and the shorter eel was indeed a basketweave cusk eel. I donated the eels to the Fish and Game for use in training wardens to identify fish.)
The other interesting thing, although exasperating might be a better word, was the harassment from the birds—pelicans and double breasted cormorants that were grabbing our live sardines. It made the fishing difficult and resulted in near hook ups for several birds.
Fished: 7 a.m. – 9:30, off and on from 9:30-3:30.
24 Sardines
2 Barred Surfperch
2 Jacksmelt
2 Thornback Rays

(7) Newport Pier: 12/12/02
Headed out to the Newport Pier once again hoping for some more eels. But alas, the eels were not in evidence. Another slow, wintertime visit.
Fished: 4:25-7:25 p.m.
9 White Croaker
1 California Scorpionfish – 3/4 pound
1 Bat Ray – small
1 Queenfish
All of these fish were caught on cut sardines with the exception of the scorpionfish that hit on squid.

(8) Stearns Wharf – Santa Barbara: 12/13/02
Finished my meeting early in Los Angeles and decided to give Stearns a visit before my scheduled 5 p.m. visit to Ventura.
Started out trying in the fish well out at the end of the pier. Tried pile worms down at the bottom for rockfish with no bites although two jacksmelt did grab the worms mid-depth. Moved over to the edge of the pier where I put cut sardines on the heavier set-up, pile worms on the lighter rod. Quickly got a shinerperch on the worm and, not wanting a repeat of the ubiquitous perch, decided to quit using worms. Did find a school of plump, good-sized queenfish but had to fight off the pelicans for the fish. The pelicans would try to grab fish coming up in the water, try to grab fish from your line while unhooking them, and even try to grab bait when you were hooking up. I saw three pelicans hooked during the time I was there and saw one pelican walking around with a line and a hook around his neck. I talked to some locals who said it’s an ongoing problem. Environmentalists want the birds left alone, and have tried to ban fishing, but the problem persists. To me it seems that the bird lovers have hurt more than helped these birds. They look cute out at the end of the wharf and are good for the tourists. But they remind me of animals in a petting zoo that are so used to being fed that they are overly aggressive. Same here and unfortunately too many birds will suffer. They should be chased away for their own safety.
Fished: 2:15-3:30 p.m.
6 Queenfish
2 Jacksmelt
1 Shinerperch

(9) Ventura Pier: 12/13/02
Planned to meet up with Sinker and Pierhead and whatever other pier rats they had managed to invite. As soon as I arrived at the pier I found Pierhead fishing in the mid-pier area. Said he had caught a white croaker and was using it for bait. It worked! He soon was fighting a huge shovelnose shark (guitarfish). It hit, took off a good deal of line, and then began a determined battle. But Boyd was even more determined. He finally got the fish up near the pier and we saw it was a really big fish. I dropped the net down into the water and prayed things would go right since trying to net large fish from high up on a pier is the cause of many lost fish. Luckily the fish was tired and cooperated. The shovelnose headed head first into the net, waves didn’t smash us into the piling, and with a little help (from Braulio, a newly converted pier rat) I was able to bring the fish up to the pier. It measured 56-7/8 inches long and weighed 29 1/2 pounds. Of course it weighed more when I pointed out to Boyd that he was resting its tail on the ground when first weighing it. But they both were tired, the angler and the fish. In fact after we weighed, photographed, and released the fish, Boyd had to have a cigarette. I guess its true that fishing is as good as sex! By the way, a few minutes later I caught the smallest guitarfish I have ever seen. Wondered if the big one might have been a female and this was a baby. Don’t know.
Anyway, that was just the start of an interesting evening. The fishing was only so so (it reminded me of Newport) but again the companionship was great. After Sinker and his nephew Skinner arrived we headed out to the end where the large lighted section is located. Most of us cast our heavier outfits out away from the pier while trying lighter set-ups in the large well cut out in the middle of the pier. Sinker says the strong lights almost always attract fish at night during the summer months but it was wintertime and the fishing was a little slower.
Nevertheless, a slow but steady number of fish were caught during the evening. As said, the group was great and the weather cooperated (even had to take off my jacket). A winning night even if few fish.
Fished: 5 p.m. – 9
4 Queenfish
3 White Croaker
2 Staghorn Sculpin
1 Shovelnose Guitarfish
1 Thornback Ray
1 Speckled Sanddab

(10) Goleta Pier: 12/14/02
Got to the pier early and was baited up and fishing by 6:30. Decided to try down around the pilings with the remainder of my pile worms (which weren’t looking too good by now). Boyd had said some pileperch were being taken by the boat hoist but I wasn’t able to entice any bites. Switched sides and cast out by the kelp using a variety of baits – pile worms, ghost shrimp, cut sardines and anchovies. Managed a couple of smelt and a thornback but that was about all until Sinker showed up. Boyd arrived a half hour or so later. Said he had been up until 1 a.m. posting the previous night’s results. Tim suggested I try squid, and gave me some, so soon I managed a brown rockfish. However, Tim and Skinner were outfishing me. I had tied a couple of size 2 Kahle hooks onto my fairly heavy line on my heavier outfit (dropper loops) thinking that they would survive the inevitable hang-ups that would take place in the kelp. The set-up did do that but wasn’t producing many fish.
From boredom decided to fish the lighter pole straight down by the pilings. Managed to find a school of walleyes and they hit pieces of cut sardines with abandon.
Did switch my rockfish rigging. Tied a 15-inch or so leader about a foot and half above the sinker. Used 8-pound fluorocarbon line and a size 4 baitholder hook. Knew I would probably lose a couple of leaders but also should get some more bites and I was right.
Immediately started to get some kelp rockfish using squid and sardines. Finally landed the biggest rockfish using a cut tail section from a large sardine. In fact, I landed two rockfish from that same piece of bait.
Action continued on the rockfish and walleyes throughout the morning but again the fishing was almost secondary to the companionship of the pier rats who showed up— including Leapin’ Bass (owner of Big Hammer lures). Finally had to leave at noon for the trip back home but had managed to have a great little mini-vacation.
Fished: 6:30 a.m. – 12
30 Walleye Surfperch
6 Kelp Rockfish
6 Jacksmelt
1 Brown Rockfish
1 Shovelnose Guitarfish
1 Thornback Ray
1 Shinerperch
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