Pancherodoes???

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Been trying for years to find out what species of fish pancherodoes are — with no luck. I think they may be night smelt but I can't confirm it. Even tried the boys at Stagnaro's in Santa Cruz but no one has a clue. Any ideas?

BTW, the silver smelt mentioned would be surf smelt aka day smelt, Hypomesus pretiosus.

Waterfront Notes—Pancherodoes are again running in the bay and a number of anglers were on the wharf fishing for them. A few jacksmelt were also landed. —Santa Cruz Evening News, November 9, 1920

Waterfront—For the first time in many weeks anglers had a real day of sport on the municipal wharf fishing for silver smelt and pancherodoes. The fish were biting all day, and the angler equipped with anything like a proper rigging caugh exceptionally big numbers, one hundred being considered a small catch. The smelt seemed to lay between the John Perez and Western California fish houses. At about 11 a.m. there were fifty-one fishermen strung out in this small space hauling up fish with clock-like regularity. — Santa Cruz Evening News, December 6, 1920

WaterFront—SMELT OFF DAVENPORT—With smelt of the Pancherodo species still running, fishermen are now looking for their appearance off Davenport, at the cement plant. At certain seasons of the year smelt of this variety are caught in the breakers in large numbers during the night and day in homemade nets. Residents living at Davenport have been catching them in this manner for some years past and have made a practice of salting all the surplus supply down under a similar treatment that anchovies are subjected to. Prepared in this way these small smelt are said to excel anchovies in point of flavor and general tenderness. The smelt generally make their appearance off the little beach at Davenport just before their spawning season. — Santa Cruz Evening News, December 23, 1920

WaterFront—Smelt Plentiful—Local anglers are again enjoying good smelt fishing off the municipal pier and many good catches were made on Sunday, some of the fishermen catching over the hundred limit. The fish were of a good size and all of the pancherodo variety, considered by far the best eating of the smelt family. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 3, 1921

WaterFront—Smelt Reappear—Smelt of the pancherodo variety have again made their appearance and local anglers are meeting with best luck on the old railroad wharf. Some good catches have been made during the past few days and with anything like a continuance of the present mild weather another big run of these excellent table fish can be looked forward to. —Santa Cruz Evening News, February 12, 1921

WaterFront—Smelt Scarce—Residents living at Davenport, who have been accustomed for several years past to reaping large harvests of smelt of the pancherodo variety in the breakers close to shore with net devices of a crude nature, report a non-appearance of these fish so far this season. The smelt appear off the small beach directly opposite the Bay View hotel and are the same as those caught off the local wharf in such large numbers. —Santa Cruz Evening News, March 17, 1921

WaterFront—Wharf Fishing—Some fairly good catches of smelt were made off the municipal wharf yesterday morning between showers. The fish all averaged good in size and were of the pancherodo and silver smelt variety. —Santa Cruz Evening News, December 22, 1921

WaterFront—Smelt Run — For the first time in some weeks the fishermen have been seining for smelt with some success, and have been able to supply the market with some exceptionally large ones, all of which were caught off the bights of Aptos beach. Fishermen on the wharf are also catching smelt of the pancheredo variety again, but not in extra large numbers. —Santa Cruz Evening News, February 24, 1922

WaterFront—School Fish Appear—School fish are coming closer to shore and good catches of smelt of the pancherodo variety are being made from the municipal pier. These fish are transparent in appearance when held up to the light and can easily be distinguished from other species of smelt of smaller size. Ordinary garden angle worms make the best bait to catch them with, providing fishermen use a No. 14 catgut hook attached to a light leader. —Santa Cruz Evening News, October 20, 1922

WaterFront — Thanksgiving was a decidedly quiet day on the water front… About the only signs of activity on the municipal pier were the presence of a number of amateur fishermen trying their luck at smelt fishing. The number of fish caught was not large, but the fishermen seem confident that the first winter run of smelt of the smaller species is about due. Most of the smelt caught were of the pancherodo variety. —Santa Cruz Evening News, December 1, 1922

WaterFront—Smelt of the pancherodo variety are again being caught by pole fishermen on the wharf. Some of the more expert fishermen managed to catch good numbers of these fish yesterday, especially during the afternoon. —Santa Cruz Evening News, December 4, 1923

WaterFront—Good Fishing Enjoyed—Pancherodo fishing off the municipal wharf is again attracting the attention of fishermen and a large number were in evidence yesterday. The fish being caught are of good size and appear to be more numerous than at any other time this year. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 4, 1923

WaterFront— Smelt Reappear— After a lull for several days past, fishing for smelt on the wharf showed an improvement yesterday and during the latter part of the afternoon some pretty good catches were made. The fish averaged well in size and were of the pancherodo variety. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 27, 1923

Waterfront—Mr. Hamlin who went as far as Moss Landing yesterday says many pancherodo and jacksmelt are being caught from the pier at that place. —Santa Cruz Evening News, August 6, 1923

WaterFront—Smelt of the pancherodo variety are again being caught by pole fishermen on the wharf. Some of the more expert fishermen managed to catch good numbers of these fish yesterday, especially during the afternoon. —Santa Cruz Evening News, December 4, 1923

WATERFRONT [By Sandow] — Smelt Reappearing — While mackerel are seemingly more numerous than ever, wharf fishermen now and then manage to catch a few smelt of the Pancherodo variety. During the spawning season, this species of fish of the smelt family go up the larger fresh water streams to spawn. In the larger rivers of Oregon and Washington, when the fish begin to go upstream in countless schools they can be scooped out of the water by the hundreds with anything that resembles a receptacle or net of any description. There are occasions though when Pancherodoes remaining in the bay have been known to spawn up the coast close to the shoreline where the sand is of a coarse and pebbly nature. Proof of this has been furnished at Davenport on several occasions and whenever this happens the fish can be scooped up with buckets or nets right in the rolling breakers. —Santa Cruz Evening News, July 30, 1926

WATERFRONT [By Sandow]—Big Run Of Smelt—Smelt of the pancherodo variety are being caught at Moss Landing, and pole fishermen are enjoying some rare sport. A. B. Shaw residing on Riverside avenue visits Moss Landing frequently with friends and they are making big enough catches to keep their friends supplied with plenty of these fine eating fish, which are regarded the equal of small trout as a table delicacy. As yet the winter run of pancherodoes have not made their appearance on this side of the bay, —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 6, 1927

WATERFRONT [By Sandow]—Smelt Begin To Run—Prophecy made on the part of The News that a run of smelt was soon due to start has materialized and fishermen on the wharf yesterday made some excellent catches. The run is apparently a big one and the army of smelt fishermen is due to assume big proportions within a few days. The smelt are of the silver and pancherodo variety and average size is large. Over at Moss Landing smelt also continue to be caught in large numbers but they do not possess the flavor of those caught on this side of the bay. The smelt at Moss Landing are all caught in the tidewater area of Elkhorn slough. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 22, 1927

WATERFRONT [By Sandow]—Busy Day On Wharf—With the weather conditions ideal for travel over the highways, the municipal wharf was one of the main points of rendezvous for visitors yesterday and all available parking space for autos on the wharf was taken long before the noon hour. The big run of smelt now on was a magnet of attraction for many fishermen who put in an appearance at an early hour and most of whom remained all day. The fish evidently believing in keeping the Sabbath, did not bite any too eagerly during the morning hours but some good sport was enjoyed the latter part of the afternoon. The smelt being caught are of both the silver and pancherodo variety. Ordinary angle worms are proving the most alluring bait to bring results. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 24, 1927

Waterfront Notes—At high tide yesterday afternoon, smelt of the pancherodo variety began to ascend the San Lorenzo in immense schools and they could be seen in countless numbers as far as the bridge at the foot of Ocean street. As a rule smelt do not commence to run in fresh water until the latter part of the year. There was a big run last season and scores of fishermen enjoyed rare sport for a number of weeks." —Santa Cruz Evening News, July 15, 1927

High Breakers Cause Big Tide—Big ground swells were again in evidence on the water front yesterday and at high tide the large combers rolling up on the beach caused the tide water to back up beyond the foot of Blaine street. Schools of smelt ran up the river with the tide but backed down to the ocean again when the water began to lower. Last year at this time smelt of the pancherodo variety were plentiful and fishermen made big hauls daily during low tide. —Santa Cruz Evening News, October 14, 1927

WATERFRONT NOTES [By Sandow]—The silver smelt and pancherodo catches are also showing an improvement and this is having a tendency to attract more fishermen to the wharf daily. —Santa Cruz Evening News, March 29, 1930

Better Catches Being Made—There was the usual big crowd of Sunday fishermen on the wharf and some of the experienced pole fishermen made fine catches of smelt of the pancherodo variety. Many consider this variety of fish a superior table delicacy than trout. —Santa Cruz Evening News, September 30, 1929

WATERFRONT NOTES [By Sandow]—About the only excitement furnished on the wharf yesterday was the large number of fishermen that were bobbing their lines for smelt… All of the smelt caught were of the pancherodo variety. These fish migrate to Monterey Bay in immense schools every year, both during the summer and winter months. During certain stages of the spawning season they are caught close to the breaker line on the beach at Old Davenport. They are caught during the night and it is an easy matter to scoop them out of the breakers with almost any sort of a receptacle. When occurrences like this happen, it does not take the news long to spread among Davenport residents and cement company employees. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 2, 1930

WATERFRONT NOTES [By Sandow]—Fishing Improves—Smelt continue to find their way closer to shore in increased numbers and catches made by pole fishermen yesterday on the wharf yesterday were the best since the last storm, which drove many of the fish to deeper water. Nearly all of the smelt now being caught are of the silver and pancherodo varieties. A few jacksmelt are also being caught. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 28, 1930

Smelt Run In San Lorenzo—Smelt of the pancherodo variety have again made their appearance in the lower tidewater area of the San Lorenzo. During the past few days quite a number have been taken below the sewer drain that crosses the river on the lower end of Laurel street extension. The best time to catch these fish is when the tide is at its extreme height. The smelt average from five to seven inches in length. —Santa Cruz Evening News, August 19, 1930

Waterfront Notes—One of the surprises of the day was the reappearance of pancherodo, which bear a close resemblance to silver smelt.—Santa Cruz Evening News, March 3, 1931

Notes Gathered On Waterfront—The smelt run continues and daily more fishermen are on the wharf. Yesterday about 100 were there around the noon hour and a long line of bamboo poles were extended down toward the water. By 11 o’clock George Hamlin had his first pail full and had started on filling his second pail. On Tuesday Hamlin caught 30 pounds of smelt, which meant about 460 smelt. Most were Pancherodos, a few silver smelt, and some jacksmelt. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 9, 1933

News Briefs—There is a run of small sized smelt of the pancherodo species in the San Lorenzo at the present and fishing for them, is beginning to claim some attention along the bulkhead running parallel to the East Cliff drive. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 4, 1935

NOTES GATHERED ON WATERFRONT—Smelt Fishing Popular—With throwline fishermen still playing in the role of hard luck from the standpoint of catching any great variety of edible fish, it is just the opposite with pole fishermen, who continue to make big daily catches of smelt of the pancherodo species. In the casting bee yesterday there was at least a score of fishermen in action. Those stationed close to commercial fishing row figured in the largest catches and some had hundreds of smelt to their credit during the early part of the afternoon. It may also be added that Thanksgiving Day results were also highly satisfactory. A few of the regulars continue to find the little silver beauties plentiful in the San Lorenzo tidewater area. Most of the fishermen continue to make their daily stand on the East Cliff drive bank just above the railroad bridge. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 30, 1935

Fishermen Fail To Reap Results On San Lorenzo (By Sandow)—At present time there is a good run of smelt in the river and good catches of them were made yesterday off the Ocean street footbridge. The largest catch of the day was made by George Hamlin, who for the time being has forsaken the wharf. Other pole fishermen close to Hamlin were also having luck come their way. Most of the smelt were of the pancherodo variety. The smelt seemingly bite best during the morning hours. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 17, 1936

News Briefs—Smelt of the pancherodo variety which were being caught in large numbers in the early part of the month in the San Lorenzo close to the foot of Ocean street, have made their way back to the bay again. None have been caught by pole fishermen for a number of days past. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 21, 1937

Wharf Anglers Numerous—Pole fishermen trying their luck for smelt were numerous yesterday on the outer end of the wharf, but it remained for some of the tried regulars to meet with most luck. George Hamlin, Frank Pritchard and Ben Carter figured in the largest catches, most of which were of the pancherodo variety of smelt. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 29, 1937

Nimrods—Just at the present time wharf fishing for silver and smelt of the pancherodo species is furnishing some real sport to pole anglers, who have been yearning for such an event to materialize. On the other hand, throwline fishermen are not enjoying any degree of luck for bottom fish like sole and flounder. As for halibut, they are still conspicuous by their absence all season. As a rule halibut are caught as early as May near the wharf. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 24, 1940
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Fish Bulletin 130, Ocean Sportfish Catch and Effort From Oregon to Point Arguello, California, July 1, 1957-June 30, 1961 — Daniel J. Miller and Daniel Gotshall, 1965

Santa Cruz Wharf: Night Smelt 136, Surf Smelt 398
Princeton Pier: Surf Smelt 45
San Francisco Municipal Pier: Night Smelt 122, Surf Smelt 336, True Smelt (mix) 173
Berkeley Pier: True Smelt: 628
Total Pier Caught Smelt: Night Smelt: 258, Surf Smelt: 779, True Smelt (mix): 801
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#4
Eulachon? Otherwise I would have guessed one of the silverside species as it is mentioned they are transparent when held up to light.

Edit:
Capelin potentially? It is mentioned that they spawn on rocky/pebbly beaches, and given current population trends, its not too much of a stretch to suggest that they once had a much wider historical range.
 
Last edited:

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#5
Eulachon are a possibility but that's a very long distance jump in its historical range (usually only common south to about the Klamath River which is about 400 miles from Santa Cruz).

As for silverside species, the articles seem to show an understanding of the difference between smelt and silversides and the behaviors discussed match smelt species but not those seen by silversides (jacksmelt, topsmelt and grunion) even though grunion do indeed invade beaches.
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#6
Considering Monterrey Spanish mackerel were exirpated from their historical range and now only exist in the Gulf of Mexico, it would not surprise me if something similar happened with these fish.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Given that the name night smelt is never used, we know that they are common to the area, and that their behavior is similar to that mentioned in a couple of the reports, I think the fish almost have to be night smelt.

WATERFRONT NOTES [By Sandow]—About the only excitement furnished on the wharf yesterday was the large number of fishermen that were bobbing their lines for smelt… All of the smelt caught were of the pancherodo variety. These fish migrate to Monterey Bay in immense schools every year, both during the summer and winter months. During certain stages of the spawning season they are caught close to the breaker line on the beach at Old Davenport. They are caught during the night and it is an easy matter to scoop them out of the breakers with almost any sort of a receptacle. When occurrences like this happen, it does not take the news long to spread among Davenport residents and cement company employees. —Santa Cruz Evening News, January 2, 1930

By the way, the only pier where I've seen measurable numbers of actual "smelt" caught by anglers was at the Point Arena Pier and those were generally day smelt. Then again, I never really fished the pier at night. Night smelt were captured by netters at night at a number of spots in Mendocino County (often at the mouth of creeks/streams).

I've seen a few smelt caught at the Santa Cruz Wharf but never in big numbers. However, both jacksmelt and topsmelt are caught there by anglers using Sabikis and floats of some type.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#8
I also just pulled out my copy of Ocean Sportfish Catch and Effort, Oregon to Point Arguello, California (Miller and Gotshall, 1965) and it shows night smelt and day smelt being caught from the Santa Cruz Wharf. Not in the numbers seen for jacksmelt and topsmelt but still being caught there.

Also ran across this online report on night smelt — http://www.opc.ca.gov/webmaster/_media_library/2019/08/Draft_Marine-Species-Report_Night-Smelt.pdf

Kind of fun sometimes trying to figure out what's been caught.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#10
Still trying to figure out where the name pancherodoes came from. Possibly from the early Portuguese and Italian fisherman in the area?

Kind of like looking for the origin of the name Pasadena trout for white croaker in SoCal:

White Croaker
Species:
Genyonemus lineatus (Ayres, 1855); from the Greek words genys (lower jaw) and nema (barbel) and the Latin word lineatus (striped).
Alternate Names: Tomcod (southern California), roncador (Ventura and Santa Barbara area), kingfish (central and northern California), sewer trout, tommy croaker, tommy and brownie or brown bait. Also called silver bass, butter bass, golden gobbler, cognard, little bass, and little roncador. Early-day names given by commercial fishermen included carbinette and chenfish. Called corvineta blanca in Mexico. Disparaging names used at one time by residents of Los Angeles included Pasadena trout and Glendale trout while residents of Orange County sometimes called them Santa Ana corbina. No wonder newbie anglers were sometimes confused as to what they had caught.
 
#12
These are supposed to be a type of smelt and grunion are not smelt.
These are supposed to be a type of smelt and grunion are not smelt.

True. Years ago I heard oldtimers (yeah, even older than me) at Seacliff and Sunset beaches refer to grunion as pancherodoes. I thought maybe it was a generic or local name for smeltish fish. Same gents called pile perch Pacific White perch. I still don't know why black perch are called pogies.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#13
Happy Warrior — Very interesting and now I am back to the starting point.

My resource books show the common range of grunion as southern California to Baja California although recorded as far north as Tomales Bay. They do say there have been sporadic runs in Monterey Bay, San Francisco Bay, and Tomales Bay but the newspaper reports quoted above sound like the "smelt" were a regular visitor to the Santa Cruz Wharf.