Northern Sonoma County Coastline [10.04.2018]

#1
It's been quite some time since I posted a report but that doesn't mean I haven't been wetting my fair share of lines; lots of day trips from SF as far as the Carmel Highlands on the south end and up past Salt Point on the north. Over the past six months I've really taken a shine to the Sonoma coast up past Jenner-- everywhere with "Cove" in its name and northward. The water's deep, the sandstone structures are like grip tape on my boots, and the fish tend to be large and hungry.

This time I was looking at borderline (but still manageable) swells, an outgoing tide for the whole morning and early afternoon, and the chance of some wet weather. Since the swells would keep me away from spots around Timber Cove, Jenner, and even some prime spots around Salt Point State Park, I decided to study the maps and explore some new spots in the same area.

Moving past Salt Point State Park's Gerstle Cove Campground-- but still staying within the Salt Point SMCA-- you're afforded a range of cast out spots that are an easy, even hike-in from numerous turnouts, and tend to have ledges that are high enough to keep you dry even if the swells aren't cooperating.

One of the areas I explored had a winning combination of things I look for in a rockfishing location:

- Ledges comprised of sandstone or other rock that isn't as prone to becoming slippery when wet.
- Ledges high enough to cast out from and keep my line from rubbing against structure closer to shore.
- Water 10ft or deeper within reasonable casting distance.
- An easily accessible section that was close to the water and could be use to land a fish if it turned out to be too large to haul up the cliffside.
- Safe access to tidal pools that allow for cleaning and bleeding of harvested fish.
- A variety of structure (channels, kelp beds, rocky structure to target and explore).

Here is a 40 second video I shot of the general structure I was working with:



It took a few casts to get a feel for where the deep pockets were that I could cast to and not get my rig hopelessly hung up, but once I sorted that out things were rockin. Greenlings, Perch, Rockfish, and cabs were the order of the day. No legal greenlings for me per usual, but the cabezon bite was unreal; I hit my legal limit early on (even after releasing a couple 15"ers) and kept catching & releasing legals well after. It was my first time successfully catching quality sized groundfish with circle hooks and allowed me to experiment with different setups. I also managed to nab my PB grass rockfish clocking in at 16.25" and a nice 12" striped surfperch to round things out. A cooler this full is an aberration in my experience, not the norm, and I was a very happy camper, not the least because there was enough cab here to share with friends and family, which always brings me pleasure.

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A limit of cabs-- my first-- all a little bigger than 17". I continued to catch and release other similarly sized cabezon till the end of the day.


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My PB grassy at a little over 16.25". 4/0 and 5/0 circle hooks with huge hunks of squid felt like cheating at times but it helped keep the smaller fish at bay.


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I prefer firmer-fleshed fish, but I've started to settle in on some recipes that are amenable to the perch's softer meat. Good thing too because I can never seem to not catch these guys.


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Definitely not the norm but I'll take it.


With October in full swing it's only a matter of time before some of these spots are closed off for a few months due to larger swells and inclement weather, but that will just encourage more exploration. Something I always look forward to.
 
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Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Sounds like you had a great fishing trip! Some good variety and good eating fish. One of my favorite areas although I haven't been up there in a while.
 
#3
Nice report, looks like you had a good time especially with a limit of cabs!

I respectfully ask that you do not post any gps coordinates like you have in the past regarding these spots. They’re not hard to find with the slightest of effort for those that have the drive to do so.
 
#4
Nice report, looks like you had a good time especially with a limit of cabs!

I respectfully ask that you do not post any gps coordinates like you have in the past regarding these spots.
I don't feel comfortable making any promises regarding that since I fall on the side of education and sharing information as opposed to hiding it, but I will generally trend towards not posting drone-strike coordinates to the spots I report on. I will however still name the areas, like I did in this post, and maybe even upload a video of the structure if I take any (this was the first time I've ever done that).

I don't mean you any ill will, and I suspect we both desire a sustainable fishery and trash-free shoreline to fish from, we just seem to have philosophical differences on how that is to be achieved. I can live with that (y)

Recently I've been more interested in contributing observations and records of my catches to iNaturalist anyway since its community is built on contributing to the greater body of scientific knowledge of biodiversity, and that's really a lot more of what I'm personally interested in. They even let you obscure your GPS coordinates if you so wish. It would be great to have more anglers helping researchers document things on that platform, and you also wouldn't be subjected to selfies of people with their largemouth bass ;) Not that it's a problem here, but in other social angling communities it is rampant.

They’re not hard to find with the slightest of effort for those that have the drive to do so.

haha great phrasing in that it is only those that have the literal ability to drive that can access these spots. They aren't exactly close to anything and certainly take a bite out of my gas budget :cry:
 
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#6
Thanks for the great report and welcome back to PFIC. I'm sure we will explore some of those spots together soon.
Yeah Nacho we gotta get you and Uglystik up north! At least we have our skiff trip at the end of the month. You can show us some of the tactics you've been using during your kayak trips ;)
 
#7
I'm familiar with the spot you showed on the video. It is no easy feat to fish from there, or many other spots in Salt Point. I am the worst rock fisherman ever and admire you hardy souls able to put up with the tough conditions. Spectacular area and one I am more at ease hiking than fishing. Congrats on your haul.
 
#8
I'm familiar with the spot you showed on the video. It is no easy feat to fish from there, or many other spots in Salt Point. I am the worst rock fisherman ever and admire you hardy souls able to put up with the tough conditions. Spectacular area and one I am more at ease hiking than fishing. Congrats on your haul.
I feel like certain types of fishing just click for certain people. Take surf fishing for example; I feel confident that I can read a beach and point out structure given the breaks and rips, could tell you the types of fish you're likely to catch on given beach nearby and what people are catching them on, but I am terrible at catching anything from the surf despite the fact that I live only a mile from Ocean Beach. Put me on a rocky ledge on its north end however, and I can produce. Fishing a small patch of structure off a rock just comports with how my brain works for some reason. It's a puzzle I'm comfortable with.

Speaking of Salt Point State Park, I was blown away with it my first time there. Not simply because the fishing was solid but just how impressive the different sandstone is there. It has prompted me to do some reading on the geology of the area because it really is quite spectacular.
 
#9
Very nice report and pics and thanks for sharing the adventure. Those are some really cool looking Cabezons. I've only caught a couple myself, but I'm always amazed at how the colors change up depending upon the environment they are in. Very cool!.
 
#13
I've camped at Salt Point and have fished it each time I've gone there, same method as you and I even recognize that spot :) There are only so many "ledges" to the right of the Gerstle Cove that are accessible and have deep water openings where you won't get your sinker or hook snagged. I've never caught like you did, but have had success with the grassys too. Last time out, learned to use lower test line for the sinker and used weedless hooks, which kept me from losing all of my rigs, though I still snagged all day long.
 
#15
Hey great report. Reading it makes me want to get out there. Haven't hit my stomping grounds in a long time. I got a yak and haven't rock hopped in awhile. Was hitting the surf when I could but I'm thinking I need to go hunt some lings from shore
 

Red Fish

Active member
#16
Very good and helpful report with plenty of useful information in it!

I passed by many of those spots up north driving through them a couple times. Most seemed out-of-my-league since I am not a “rockhopper.”

It is hard to find an easy access hole like the one you showed that is deep enough to be profitable.

Thanks again for sharing.
 
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