Post by anadromous —

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: June 9, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: anadromous

Subject: Small victories

Warning: This is a long report for some very unimpressive fishing. If you don't like to read, you might want to skip this one.
6/7/03 (No more reporting for future dates :))

Although the fish was struggling for its life, the result was just enough to confirm that yes, I did have something on the end of my line. No drag-stripping runs, no arced rod, just fast reeling on my part to keep tension on my line and an occasional "bump-bump" on the other end.
When I finally caught a glimpse of the fish, there was nothing remarkable about it. Less than hand-sized, not sleek or powerful or exotic, and yet incredibly rewarding, more so than many fish five times its size. Let me rewind...
Like most other anglers, I've fished for a variety of species with fairly good success. Although I've never gone on any big fishing trips, I've made attempts to sample most of the angling opportunities available around my hometown of San Diego, and newer surroundings in the East Bay. There are still, however, things I've never tried. In fact, it wasn’t until I joined this board that I learned about fishing for surfperch.
Reports I've read on the board have often left me daydreaming at work about lazily wading around at the beach, tossing around some light tackle. Since I spent a lot of my college years (and I did have a lot of college years) at the beach surfing, playing, or just chillin’, it seemed like such a natural thing.
So this past weekend, during one of my very frequent trips to “Dago,” I found myself faced with about a 2-3 hour window of opportunity, with decent tide conditions. Although I would normally surf under these circumstances, I lacked the motivation on this particular day. So I decided that I would make a go of it. At the very least, I'd get to spend some relaxing time at the beach.
A quick stop at my neighborhood K-Mart provided me with some minor terminal tackle. I planned to fish sand crabs, since I didn't have time to go out of my way and visit an actual bait and tackle shop. I picked up some grubs, too, since I prefer to fish artificials and in case I had problems finding sand crabs. They didn't have any grubs in the traditional perch colors, so I had to guess what the next best thing would be. I ended up going with pink, for a combination of reasons.
Fifteen minutes later I was driving over the Coronado Bridge, headed to a spot that I chose solely for the proximity of parking to the waterline, as my time was limited. I parked, and as I headed towards the beach, I saw a group of three men fishing. I figured this was a good sign, as I don't really remember seeing people fish there before. I asked one of them how the fishing was, and he said they caught some, but it was slow. He pointed to a bucket, where I saw 2 or 3 BSPs. I felt confident as I strolled down a little ways and rigged up.
It was about 45 minutes after high tide when I started. I searched for sand crabs, but was unable to find any, probably due to the high water level. Anxious to fish, I quickly abandoned the search and hooked up a grub. I made a cast, and began a slow retrieve. Another cast, then another and another. I worked a large area of beach, with no results. Occasionally I'd glance back at the three Korean guys, and more often than not, one of them would have a fish on. The fish were there. I remembered the importance of using scent, and was disappointed that I didn’t have any.
After about half an hour of nothing, in the film of a receding wave, I saw a large sand crab scurrying to get back underground. I made a dash for him, but it’s no secret how fast these things can vanish into the sand. Still, this gave me a little hope, and so I was again scanning the shore for the telltale mini-wakes the crabs leave in the receding water. A few grabs of sand left me empty handed, then, jackpot! I had a medium sized crab, about ¾” long.
Cast him out, nothing. More casts, more nothing. This really wasn’t working. As I fished, I looked for more crabs. Found several gargantuan crabs, almost 2” long, way too big for the fish I was targeting. I managed to find one more small one, which I kept in my pocket in case I lost the first.
I eventually added the second crab to my hook, hoping that more bait would increase my odds. By this time I was working my way back, as my time was winding down. The successful anglers I had seen earlier were leaving by now, and I figured I might as well try their area before giving up.
Somewhere around this time, I realized that I didn't want to go home saying to myself “well, it was nice to be out.” I have been having an agonizingly slow year of fishing, and I have had way too high a percentage of skunked trips. I needed to catch a fish
I cast, let it sit, then started retrieving slowly. Then, to my surprise, I got a tap-tap. I set the hook, but came up short. My excitement turned to frustration as I find that my hard-earned sand crabs are gone. By now the sun is starting to set, and it's getting even more difficult to find crabs. I put the grub back on my hook, but got no response from the fish. I searched for crabs again, and miraculously, I found one good one. I ripped the grub from my hook, put the hook to the crab, and dropped it! It instantly disappeared in the incoming whitewater. Fuuuunnnkkkkk (not my exact words)!!!!! That was it. I had already stayed longer than I was supposed to, and I took that as my official defeat.
I trudged out of the water, and when I got to shore, I saw these small orange objects scattered on the beach. Upon closer inspection, my eyes widened and my heart quickened. Apparently, the people who were fishing here before me left their dead, unwanted, ghost shrimp on the ground. We had, as they say in sports, a game.
I hurriedly hooked one, and tossed it out. I let it settle, then, “tap-tap.” Missed, got some more bait, and cast again. Instant replay. Got another shrimp, cast, and waited. Felt the anticipated taps, but this time, I just reeled slowly. My rod loaded slightly, so I set the hook. I felt a little weight, and some bumps, and soon I was bringing the little guy to the beach for a pic.
I snapped a couple of pics with the digicam. I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders as I released the fish back into the surf. I didn't put on another shrimp. I didn’t make another cast. Wet and sandy, and late, I left the darkening beach and went home.
I won. It wasn't about the fish, it wasn't even about catching a first. It was the feeling of accomplishment, trying something new, and not taking no for an answer. In this very small, very common fish, I had tapped into the reason why I fish. Something that I haven't felt lately, even with 20-something inch stripers, largemouths, or really anything else. I love fishing.

Posted by pkjoe

Our passion and obsession! A well written reflective insight into the soul of fishing. It's a GREAT read Anadromous and a superb encapsulation of our passion and obsession for fishing. Thanks, PK

Posted by Songslinger

This is the heart of the matter, truly. Nice work, fine words. Hats off!

Posted by salty nick

Nice story and congrats on the perch, good perseverance. Salty.

Posted by bigfoot

Hey, that’s pretty dead-on to my first perch fishing experience about two years ago. I hadn’t been surf fishing for almost fifteen years, but when I got that first perch on, a small perch at Crissy Field, it was electric. It wasn’t to catch a fish for eating, or to “win” over the fish, it was the thrill of discovery, of persevering and succeeding, of applying knowledge and working on a skill and being rewarded with the fruits of that skill. Nice story!

Posted by nigeria butler

Buddy sound like you need to relax more with fishing. Education is good in living. However, the outdoors is food for your mind and body young master. Remember what started the fishing bug in the first place. Just being out with nature. Tournaments are good for skill level. Nature is forever. Nigeria Butler

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

There are times when I feel the same way about fishing. I’m very competitive. Not too much with other fishermen but just against myself. I’ll set a goal and get out there and try my best to achieve it. Like the time I decided that I had to catch a saltwater fish on a lure. I went through two months of skunk before I finally caught a 15” sculpin at the sub base in Point Loma. So believe me I know the feeling and I empathized with you as I read your story. Awesome. But there are also times when the best thing about fishing is just shillin wit da boyz. Like the time at the seawall where you said you actually had more fun shootin the $hiz]\[it with us than you did actually fishing. It’s nice to have that break in the monotony of constant goal seeking and inner competitiveness. It is in the combination of both of these feelings that I find purity in this sport and it makes it almost spiritual for me. I like meditation because everything other than what’s happening on the water is pushed away into a different consciousness —ohmmmmmmm!

Posted by og

Ya’ gotta’ love it when a plan comes together!

Posted by SD Fisherman

I feel ya dude, same way I felt today at the OB Pier. Right on dude!
~Don aka SDF~

Posted by corbinaman1

Great Story Anadromous! Describes the passion and obsession of surf fishing very well! You described the ‘taptaptap” surfperch bite very accurately along with the line “loading” when they are hooked... much different from a corbina bite. I catch and release most of my barred surf perch and while most are smallish, I always enjoy their scrappy fight as well as being out in the ocean air and come back for more!

Posted by graybeard

Small victories but large inner triumphs—wtg.

Posted by gordo grande

If you can fish half as well as you can write you have a great fishing career ahead of you. Thoroughly enjoyed your story. You've inspired me. I have to get off the pier one of these days, and onto the beach!

Posted by Ken Jones

Good post and thread...