San Clemente 11/22

evanluck

Well-known member
#1
First time fishing at San Clemente Pier.

Arrived around 5:30AM. Parking is close and very reasonable. They don't start charging for parking until 10AM but you can pay as soon as you arrive.

Went down to the end of the pier and there were already the beginnings of what would be a large crew of shark fishermen set up.

We started fishing the north side of the end square with sabikis. I was fish the top for smelt and mackerel my girlfriend dropped to just off the bottom and started hooking up on queen fish. There were as many of these that we wanted to catch but after hooking up on 4 in rapid succession she changed tactics. I caught a small mackerel which got the shark fishermen excited as they grabbed their bait rigs and started fishing for their preferred bait. I nose hooked the small mackerel and dropping it out a reverse fish finder rig. I have seen some pics of by catches from shark fishermen who caught large calicos on whole mackerel so that is what I was going for.

I also dropped a high low rig down to the bottom with a live ghost shrimp on one hook at a whole head on market shrimp on the other hook. I was getting constant small nibbles on that rig but no big bites. I pulled to to find my ghost shrimp gone and the market shrimp stripped of its head and shell but still on the hook.

I didn't start catching larger fish until I moved to the end where all the shark fisherman were. I casted out the high low rig with the one live shrimp and one dead shrimp out as far as I could with a 2 oz. torpedo weight. I started getting bites reliably at that spot and began hooking up on smallish spot-fin croaker. This is the first time I've got spot fins. They were fun to catch. The fish were smart. They would nibble at the bait and often grab it and run towards the pier to create slack in the line. This made it tricky to set the hook. I ended up landing four of them on a combination of live ghost shrimp, live blood worms and pieces of head on market shrimp. I was really trying to catch a sheep head. I've seen reports of very large sheep head caught at San Clemente recently. Other than the 4 spot fins, I snagged a small black perch. As it got later in the day the fish were less enthusiastic to bite so I started dragged my rig slow across the bottom. This resulted in more bites. After I ran out of the baits I mentioned I also got a couple good bites on fresh mussels.

We ended up leaving around 1:45PM.

A note about the crew of shark fishermen. I can see why people get twisted about the presence of this group. The group is large and dominate the end of the pier. They set up a couple tents to shield themselves from the sun and the corners of the pier are fanned out with unattended poles. There are a fair amount of teenage kids in the group so the atmosphere is boisterous and the skill level is mixed. However, I fished the end of the pier without incident for over 8 hours. The only thing that happened out of the ordinary was I left my pole with a high low rig unattended for 2 minutes to deal with a cut on my hand. When I came back a young man had reeled in my line because he said it was crossed with his. Unusual but I can see why he would have done it. This group is large and they act as a team. When one hooks up onto a shark all the rest of the guys willingly reel in poles both their own and other that are not their own to "clear the deck" as the big shark starts to run sideways. One of the older guys in the group who act as mentors to these young kids landed a thresher and he said many times that you don't land a fish like this by yourselves, it takes a whole team.

I was having a good casting day and actually enjoyed finding a spot between what are largely static shark lines to cast my line. I only crossed with people a handful of times and all them were easily resolvable by passing the rod underneath the crossed line. Yes the environment isn't exactly peaceful as the two times then hooked up on threshers while I was there, everyone jumps up and resets an entire side of the pier. But there is some kind of reef within casting distance to the end of that pier so I wanted to fish there the whole time and everyone around me including the shark crew generally cooperated with my intention.

Interesting enough almost the entire rest off the pier (other than the end) was pretty empty. Ken says the inshore action here is pretty good so if that is your cup of tea, I wouldn't shy away on the weekends. If you want the end, get there early and feel comfortable with your chosen spot no matter how many people show up to fish around you. This applies to any of the piers I've fished at in Orange County. The end is always filled with the most hardcore fishermen and they are typically using the same tactics. Whether it be casting lure capped sabikis for bonito or going for sharks, I've never had a problem actually fishing amongst them. Wanting the environment to be a certain way, is a different story. But that is always the problem with human beings. So tricky to control.

It would be good to expose these younger anglers to skilled anglers who focus on other species. I think a fair amount of them would target different species if they saw someone pulling in nice sized game fish consistently versus the "white whale hunt" that is thresher shark fishing.

We're thinking of going back this coming weekend. My app says the fishing is supposed to be good Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Of course I think it just likes the full moon which isn't everyone's ideal fishing time.
 

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nolandw

Active member
#4
Nice report, and nice cooking!

The shark crew is interesting, I have never fished in SoCal but have only read about them throughout this site. I appreciated your thought about "Wanting the environment to be a certain way, is a different story". Most times I have nothing but positive interactions with other fishers, maybe 1-2 times this year I have not...
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#6
Nice report, and nice cooking!

The shark crew is interesting, I have never fished in SoCal but have only read about them throughout this site. I appreciated your thought about "Wanting the environment to be a certain way, is a different story". Most times I have nothing but positive interactions with other fishers, maybe 1-2 times this year I have not...
Interesting wouldn't have thought to try that but will definitely give it a go the next time sardines are around at that pier.