Some early PFIC posts on the Gaviota Pier

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: June 19, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Zoy Hann (Zorro)
Subject: Gaviota is open again.... sort of

Made Fishing trip on 18 June... There were no diving birds and the ocean had three zones visible, green, aquamarine blue, and at the end of the pier and out of reach very deep blue. The right side of the pier produced nothing. The left side provided a mackerel swarm on Lucky Laura rigs. Then the bite changed to Big Sardines to about a foot. You could catch them at will; some anglers were getting them six at a time. I left way before the bite ended. From exhaustion. Bigger fish and birds were notably absent.

Date: June 27, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota, June 21 and 22

Fished Gaviota in the afternoon to take advantage of the high new moon tides. Fishing was good; used Sabiki Rigs at the end with Krocodile 2 1/4 oz. spoon for weight. Caught a big mix of fish. Big sardines, smelt and mackerel were predominate. There were also swarms of juvenile lingcod here, most about 4-inches-long. If you got your rig into them they hit every hook, and looked a lot like little eels. Caught a couple of small stingrays too. All fish were caught on the left side of the pier. Inshore, other fishers were catching BIG perch and small bat rays, 5 to 10 pounds, on mussels on the right side of the pier towards the rocks. Also, a fishing boat was smashed on the cliffs off the left side of the pier on the 21st. By the next day it had broken in half; might get a new reef there.

Date: August 30, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota

I was only able fish Gaviota on the third of August. Fishing was fair with a little of everything except halibut. The only excitement was a guy who hooked a BIG bonito. The fish went out to sea like a rocket and went airborne twice. Just when it looked like the guy would land it, it did an about face and went under the pier and cut him off. If he had a fast retrieve reel, and no stretch line, he might have been able to take up the slack fast enough to land it. That is why I use spinning reels and spider wire; the nasty under the pier maneuver. All I caught was 3 mackerel and 4 smelt; the halibut line drew a zero. The pier is still only half open.

Date: October 29, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota Report

I fished Gaviota Twice this month on the 12th and 18th. 12 October: In summary, it was a great day to fish! It was hard not to catch fish on the 12th. Sardines on the left side of the pier and jacksmelt and mackerel on the right side of the pier. I used a Lucky Lura rig with a Chrome Torpedo sinker with a treble hook. The mackerel were so aggressive that 6-inchers were hitting the 4-ounce chrome sinker instead of the Lucky Lura! The mackerel were the usual mix of minnows to a pound and a half, sardines were 4 to 10 inches, but the jacksmelt were large—two 16 inches and one 18! There were also numerous average-size jacksmelt too. No surfperch of any kind were caught or seen caught. Also many of the smelt were up close to the rocks. I do not remember anything about smelt being a rockfish. 18 October: In summary, an OK day. Lots of small fish many mini mackerel, smelt, and a few sardines. Almost all the fish were small, the only exception were two good jacksmelt I caught. General things at Gaviota: lures are beating bait by a BIG margin; bottom fish are gone, and chumming with cat food and bread works. Zoy Hann.

Date: December 25, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota

Fished Gaviota on December 13. I caught two round stingrays (and one was very large), one smelt on the bottom, and six surfperch, one being a 2-pounder. Got the smelt and rays on the bottom with cut mackerel and the perch on the bottom on mussels. The perch refused to hit anything except the mussels. Lures are currently not working well. You must bring mussels if you want to catch fish.

Date: December 28, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Zoy
Subject: Gaviota

As far as Gaviota goes, yes there are more than a few surfperch IF you remember to bring mussels. Gaviota never did get repaired this year. Half the pier is still closed, and there is no running water or overnight camping. Cost is still $3.00 for parking; on the bright side there isn’t a crowd to fight.

Date: February 27, 1999
To: Ken Jones
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota

Fishing has really been terrible at Gaviota this month. I made two trips, the last one being February 15. I caught zero fish for the first time in about four years. The totals for the whole pier were two small surfperch and a small round stingray. The water is cloudy and the wind has been brutal all month.
Update about the repairs at the pier: According to the rangers the replacement of pilings will begin March 1st, so the pier will be closed. Repairs to the water pipeline are scheduled to be completed April 15. If all goes well the target date to re-open the pier is July 31, 1999. When finished there is supposed to be a new boat hoist too. Presumably the campground will re-open at the same time as the pier.

Date: May 24, 1999
To: Ken Jones;
From: David Strong
Subject: Gaviota Pier

Took a trip to Gaviota for a little camping and fishing. The Gaviota Pier is now open, with only the last third still fenced off. The new campground store just opened and sells frozen bait at reasonable prices. Talk about nasty winds—sheesh! Anglers there spoke of a “barn door” halibut giving flirting glimpses in the afternoon but not biting any lines. Supposedly they also saw a 4-5-foot thresher shark that comes by each evening. But the winds chased me out. I’ll be going back for the halibut soon.

Date: April 7, 2000
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota Opening Delayed Again!

Gaviota is NOT open! According to the Parks Department Gaviota pier is now scheduled to open MAY 31st, 2000. So much for the parks department keeping a construction schedule.

Date: May 13, 2000
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota 13 May 2000

Fished Gaviota today, here are the results. The Pier is 100% open! The day parking charge is back to $5 a day. The campground was full but the pier itself had about 20 fishermen. Water is a bit murky; the clean water starts at about the end of the pier. Today fishing was fair; the only thing being caught was surfperch. However they are quite nice and meaty surfperch! Both the common surfperch and buttermouth surfperch are there! Buttermouth are not very common at Gaviota. Jigs worked at first, but that changed and then the only thing the Perch wanted was mussel. Best place was on the left side about 3/4 of the way out. Just bring small hooks and mussels and you should do fine. I caught four myself all on jigs, mussels did get hit better. The buttermouth were about 1 foot off of the bottom.

Date: August 5, 2000
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota Pier 05 August 2000

Fished Gaviota today the weather was PERFECT hardly any wind, no clouds at all, Temp was about 90 Degrees. Fishing is a bit slow but the fish that are showing are Whoppers! One lady caught a HUGE perch right at the boat launch; the thing was the size of a hubcap! There were two angel sharks caught both were about 5 footers, and I caught one of them! The angel shark was the only fish I caught but it was a good one! There were a few rays and smelt caught too. Also quite a few undersized halibut. Mackerel were nowhere to be found I would have expected them to be swarming the pier this time of year. The two sharks were taken on Lucky Laura rigs with a chrome torpedo sinker with a hook.

Date: April 18, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: minnowcatcher
Subject: Gaviota — What a day! Wed 4/17

What day could be better than starting with a rainbow over your favorite pier, catching fish right and left, then rounding it off with whale watching of the end of the pier!!! The particulars... Started fishing at 9:30am on low tide at the end of the pier. Threw out anchovy on my heavy rod and rigged an unbaited Sabiki on my son's light rod. His second cast was three perch at once, followed by one, two, one and then six fish! Every hook on his rig had a fish! The picture shows five 'cause the top one fell off bringing it up. I didn't think his rod would make it. We stopped fishing at 10:15 am when it started to rain. Total fish count was 16 perch, all around the size shown in the pic. Two guys fishing off the end had similar luck but also caught 2 LARGE perch 1 1/2 -2 lb range. There was also a school of unidentified large (hard to say but maybe 16” & up) fish lurking directly under the pier. One of the pier locals said they were sargo. After the rain (and lunch) we headed back to the pier. We started the same rig but I think the fish wised up. We caught two more perch on fresh muscles and then the whales showed up. Three pods of two to three whales swam by, one pod very close to the pier. One even spyhopped. Magnificent creatures... All in all and incredible day. Good fishing, DJ

Date: June 18, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: gotem
Gaviota Pier was howling...literally

Tossed out some swimbaits at Gaviota this afternoon from 3-5pm on the left side of the pier (since the wind was howling) due to wind conditions. Lots of mackerel being caught on the end of the pier. Mack's caught on every cast from the mackerel banditos. A big school of dolphin and seals were rounding up the mackerel about 80 yards off the end of the pier. One smoothound shark caught. This smoothound will be a plentiful meal 4' long. I was searching for halibut, though, and fished the breakers on out to the end of the pier. Nothing happening on the halibut front at Gaviota. The tides this afternoon were perfect. The baitfish situation was perfect. The wind shut everything down except the mackerel. The mackerels disobey fish etiquette I quess. I am going to have to try and fish for sharks at night one time at Gaviota. This place seems to be a NIGHT SPOT FOR SHARKS. Just wanted to pass on some notes about Gaviota...the forgotten pier of California.

Date: July 5, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Zorro
Subject: Gaviota Report

In summary it’s a Smorgasbord! Fishing was good but not great, but worth the drive. I decided to zig while everyone else zagged and hit the pier on July 5 instead of the 4th. The campground was PACKED but still at 7 AM I beat the crowd. The moment I arrived I noticed that EVERYBODY was out at the end of the pier. Trudged on out and found a spot. First cast I hit 3 herring and then did it again, on a Lucky Lura rig with chromed torpedo sinker. Selected a lively 6-incher and put out my heavy rod for bigger game. Fished until noon, caught about 18 fish, and 2 crabs: 6 herring, 5 jacksmelt, 2 bocaccio, 2 surfperch, 1 sculpin, 2 juvenile lingcod. Fishing started to die off at 9AM and was dead by 11AM. A bit of everything is around, bocaccio, jacksmelt, herring, a few mackerel, surfperch, crabs, sculpin, small halibut, one shark. Fishing isn't wide open but it is worthwhile. Just remember that Gaviota is an early morning and late afternoon pier. If you oversleep, then try after 4PM.

Date: July 14, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Songslinger
Subject: Gaviota Pier

I had a total blast at the Goleta Get Together and will comment further as threads develop today. Sunday morning I got up around 6am, pretty late, and got moving to meet Ken Jones at Gaviota. Fantastic morning cruise from Lake Cachuma with lots of deer around. I talked with him at the pier, in between all the fish he was bringing up, and then I walked along the beach.
Place said Halibut, all that sand and nice troughs, so that's what I worked for. First, it was catch sand crabs the way Andy showed me, then back up to the pier to get some bait. Got a shiner, Ken gave me another, and two lines were in the water for the big wait. It occurred to me that I was going about this the wrong way. SF Bay methods do not apply. Nor do shoreline surf strategies from NorCal. The water is deeper and clearer, for two conspicuous examples, and the bait (as Ken pointed out right away) was holding about midway down. So all the fixed bait rig was accomplishing was shiner refuge, keeping the fish quite safe, out of harm's way. Float rigs are out because of water motion and kelp.
Suddenly the light goes on in Slinger's dim bulb. I got a fresh shiner and brought out a rig that Phishinpat gave me on Berkeley Pier a couple weeks ago, a two hook “stinger” line with snelled hook followed by Palomar knot hook. Snelled hook went into the shiner's dorsal section—not the nostrils—and the rig was fastened by safety snap to my line which was already in the water. That's right, a trolley rig, weighed just enough to sink slowly.
“Bingo!” as Predator would say. Tip slams down and the fish is on! Sure enough it heads straight into the kelp and gets stuck. I know it's a hallie and have a hope it's actually a legal size. These are harder to get in SoCal for some reason. A few splendid runs and I got the fish to yawn at Ken Jones (salute from the fish to the skipper!) and then a helpful regular lowered his crab ring and we got the fish up to the pier. 22 inches on the dot. I think Ken got a picture, I admired the fish, and back into the water it went. Yay. My first legal halibut from SoCal.
The wind came up and I had a trip back home to get moving on, and Ken had more fishing ahead, so we left. By the way, he got some cool fish, including one that was so huge I recognized it when I was on the surf more than 50 yards away. But that is his tale to tell. Another treat for me, more dolphins circulating past Gaviota. Wonderful!

Date: October 8, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: OB Pier Rat
Subject: In reply to: Most exciting fish you caught from a pier

The big bat ray off Gaviota in July of this year. It wasn't the biggest I've ever seen, but the most exciting battle I ever had with a fish, and the setting and scenery were incredible. It was my first time at this pier and I was all alone on a foggy, misty morning there just after dawn. The baitfish were thick in the crystal clear, calm water and I could see them being chased around by larger fish. Everything felt electric, like something was about to happen, and the fact that nobody was around and it was dead quiet added to the feeling. My drag just suddenly started shrieking, and the battle was on. I actually played this fish a little longer than normal on purpose just to enjoy the moment, then I walked it into the beach and just before I got to the breakers it came unhooked, slowly turned around and flapped those magnificent wings and headed slowly out to sea again, staying visible just below the surface the whole time. Definitely the most exciting and enjoyable fish I've ever caught.

Date: June 2, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: eddog
Subject: Gaviota pier Saturday-Monday

Well it was an OK trip. We fished early Saturday for some perch and hali's with no luck from shore. So we headed up to the pier to find schools of shiner perch everywhere. We couldn’t keep them off our bait rigs, we caught a few Spanish macks and smelt used for shark bait live but no luck, fished till 10:00 pm. Sunday morning same thing but we caught a little more bait then Saturday. We fished all day with nothing only little bites.
Then, when all my friends went back to camp to get something to eat, my reel goes crazy zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz didn’t even stop once. Picked up my pole and set the hook and the fight was on I thought it was a thresher but it didn’t surface. So my cousin called my friends telling them I'm hooked up to something big. As soon as they got there I got a peek at it but couldn’t really tell what it was cuz the sun had just set. Then they put the flashlight on it, and low and behold an almost 6-ft soupfin shark. We gaffed it and brought on the pier. I estimated the weight was between 80 to 90 lbs what a beast first one I ever caught.
We fished all night and tons of bait fish showed up seen a lot of boils but don’t know what kind of fish where feeding at night. They where big whatever they were and they were not seals either... Slept on the pier for nothing else.

Date: July 26, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Seabass_Seeker
Subject: Gaviota 7-24 and 7-25

1st day—fished 1pm-830pm. Used squid and sardines. Lost 2 BIG bat rays that out spooled me; my friend caught one between a bunch of bait balls which were probably anchovy. Sardine and Spanish macks were hanging out with the 'chovies too. Spanish “jack” mackerel bellies were full of baby squid. Exactly the size ‘n shape of Sabiki rigs. Saw only two greenback “Pacific” mackerel caught.

2nd day—fished 10am-6pm. Used sardine. Lots of bait, caught no bats, saw two caught by others. Heard that someone caught an 11-lb kelp bass last night by the crane. Had to leave early because of some annoying young guys who kept crossing our lines on purpose.

Date: September 3, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: EddieE
Subject: Gavota/Goleta Pier Reports! (much better day!)

First off, I read the posts below... doubtful I'll go to the doctor. Every time I go, they want to cut me open...again...As far as the knee is concerned, I've had 3 knee surgeries already... another crack won't kill me. My finger is doing pretty well, sore as hell on a stick but no signs of infection. I was able to use it for the most part today. NOW for the good stuff!
I started out at Gaviota Pier this morning, which BTW costs 8 bucks for day use now. At the first part of the pier, I stopped to talk to the Ranger and the Life Guard. As we chatted, two 3 to 4 foot leopards swam by. I headed on out to the end where there were a few people catching mostly jack smelt and the occasional mackerel.
Later in the day, after catching 2 rays (one @2 1/2', the other @3') the macks and. (drum roll) BONITA started running heavy. Everyone was catching them off the end. They came in heavy for about 2 hours on and off then tapered off till late in the afternoon (where they stopped). I managed to land a few macks but didn't get a bonito. I also hooked a halibut that looked a little over legal, but I let it go next to the pier (err...lost it). The high point was catching a 3rd MONSTER ray. It took me an hour and 20 min. to land it and had a very hard time doing that. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 lbs (and that's a real 100 lbs). I worked EVERY bit of the stiffness out of my shoulder on that one but I'd be willing to bet I pay for it tomorrow.

Date: December 23, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: cayucosjack
Subject: Gaviota & Goleta 12/22/04

Fished Gaviota pier 7:30am-11am. Results for 3 of us were: 2 way short cabezon (squid & mussels), 1 SBRF (squid), 6 small BSP (mussels & Mackerel), 4 big walleye perch (mussel & squid), ~25 shiners (any bait was working), 2 short halibut (8 &10" on mackerel and anchovies) and lots of small smelt.
Did see a small leopard shark feeding in the surf zone but couldn't get it to eat my bait. Gulls were bad here (imagine that) and I had to release one that got tangled. He was the calmest I've ever seen one, acted as though he'd been through it before (didn't even peck me). The only other person fishing was the lady that is always there fishing mid-pier. She is such a nice lady, always a pleasure. She shared some of her special home-prepared sugar cured mack and it did the trick. She was catching numerous perch using that bait. Weather was windy (again, what a surprise!) and cold. All fish released except a few smelt and shiners used for live bait (untouched).

Date: March 5, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: eddog
Subject: Yes, you can you can park up the hill right before

... you enter the gate to pay its on the right hand side. I have done it many times. From my many experiences on this pier I have caught the most sharks during the day. I have caught threshers, leopards, dog sharks (aka smoothhounds), seven gills, and even some soupfin. My biggest was the thresher at 7.5 ft and a soupfin at 6.5 ft.
I recommend using the slider rig and live bait mackerel or sardine and fish on the right corner. The slider rig is simple to use just cast your weight out as far as you can then make a 5-10 ft leader of 80-150lb test, whatever you wish, and tie your hook on one end and a heavy duty snap swivel at the other. Hook your bait on and snap your leader to your main line that you cast out first and slide your live bait down. Don’t be afraid to use big bait there are some big hungry sharks out there man, if you have the gear for them. Well good luck and maybe I will see you there sometime. I always go there in the summer; the best months are from June-early September. I always fish on the right corner. Just look for me. You cannot miss me. I have a lot of gear that I take with me all the time. If you have any other questions just ask me.

Date: June 4, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: pierhead
Subject: Gaviota 6-4-05 ... here's Eddie!

Since my night camp was just down the road from Gaviota and the State Park annual pass covered the $8 day use fee I decided to follow up on my earlier post ... I found this crew camped out at the end of the pier where they have been for several days ... although the park is still closed to camping (due to storm damage) apparently the ranger didn't mind and the 10 (?) of them were firmly entrenched. Luckily the first guy I approached was named Eddie and he acknowledged that he had caught a 7’ T-shark yesterday ... so I had the right guy (or so I thought). However, it turned out he and the crew are from Bakersfield and not Atascadero and that there is also another Eddie ... from Atascadero who had left earlier.
No matter, this Eddie turns out to be not only a seasoned veteran of Gaviota but also a poster to this board under the name Eddog! During the summer he makes the long drive at least twice a month. After reading his bio here I understand what the great attraction is ... he lives for Threshers.
He spent a good 45 minutes filling me in on T-Shark technique at Gaviota after showing me a large Corbina he had caught earlier in the surf line on sand crabs. I noticed also a number of large slab BSP, which I was told, were caught on chunk sardine ... more evidence of the need for protein during the spawn. I took a picture of his shark rig which included a rather unique 'float' ... T-sharks, he says, feed topwater hence the need for a float. He had so much experience and information to share that I was having difficulty remembering it all so I encouraged him to post a T-Shark tutorial, which he promised to do. Really looking forward to it.
Honestly though I was having trouble believing that Gaviota was really the T-shark heaven that he claimed it was ... I mean 10 of them in one day (per his bio)? Just then a guy across from us let out a whoop and his heavy 10' pole doubled up completely. He turned the pole over to another guy so he could get some experience. The shark got ahead of him and snapped the slacked line on a turn ... but I could tell it was one of the biggest fish I had come across! Since I had only brought out some light rods I decided it was probably better just to retire to the RV and post rather than risk the disappointment that comes with being under-tackled.

Date: June 20, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: pierhead
Subject: Gaviota T shark Fishing

I fished Gaviota all day Friday for naught other than a pair of hand-sized BSP caught near the shore grubbing MORF's. Just as I was leaving around 7:30pm I noticed a lot of bird activity a couple hundreds yards off the end. Looked like a big ball of bait and it was moving directly towards the pier! I thought my ship had come in. Just as I was starting to set up again I noticed something just under the surface moving towards the bait at a right angle (parallel to the shore) ... it left quite a wake with a lot of 'tail swipes' but no humping like a dolphin or porpoise ... yep, T-sharks (2 of them). About 100 yards off the end they intercepted the bait ball which then turned south with the threshers following it ... continuing right on over the horizon. And so it goes at Gaviota ... Pierhead, Proud Supporter of UPSAC

Date: October 9, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: evilive18
Subject: Gaviota 10/9

Got to the park at 7am, to find a line of cars and the gate closed. A ranger showed up at 7:30 to open up the gate. Got all the way down close to the end of the pier and looked for my Sabiki, only to find I had left it at home. So, I took a spoon and walked along the pier a couple of times till the bait shop opened up and I could buy some high dollar Sabiki’s. Bait was somewhat scarce but finally got a small shinerperch, so I hooked it onto this sliding live bait concoction and flung it out. After about 20 minutes I decided to fish for some more bait so I could put some more lively bait on my line.
Before I caught another bait I saw my pole bend so went over and set the hook. I reeled up a swell shark and bugged one of the guys next to me to get my landing net in the water and help me land it. I had this really crappy, masonry twine on the net and as soon as I got the shark in it the guy starts pulling it up and snap, my net goes to the bottom of the drink. This other guy brings over his pier gaff and gets a little bit of the tail and pulls my catch up. Weird fellow didn’t say a word, very very awkwardly silent.
Much to my amazement I had also managed to hook a thornback ray. Who knows what happened, seemed like the thornback ate the fish, and either the swell shark bit the ray and got hooked, or got a scrap of the fish that had a hook in it. The shark was 9-lb, 9-oz. my first shark so I was pretty darn happy. After a small photo shoot I put him back in the drink, while the other guys tried using silent man’s pier gaff to get my net back. Ended up getting the gaff caught on what seemed to be a submerged cable, after a long tug of war battle we decided to let the line slack and sit for a while to see if it would unstick itself. Then silent man comes over, and I say they got your gaff stuck on a cable, and he gives me this mean glare, tries pulling on it and it comes unstuck just like that! What a weird dude. I was there until 12:30; no one else there caught anything but tons of jacksmelt.

Date: September 28, 2007
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Santa
Subject: My FIRST bat ray!

I went down about 08:30 and had been soaking/floating some fresh macks all day trying for a Thresher, with no love. About 6:00pm I changed my 12-ft Diawa/spin setup to a bottom rig with a 5/0 circle hook on 20-in. steel leader below a 6-oz. sand wedge all hooked to 200 yds. of 50-lb braid, and threw a whole 8” squid about 30 yds to south side of pier end. About a hr. later, ZZZZZZZZ, Fish On! Don't know what it was, but it was flying, set a medium heavy drag and was hoping to turn it when I made a ROOKIE mistake, got worried and put too much palm on spool when I was down to about 50 yds of line on. Yup! SNAP! It musta been a big one, snapped that 50-lb. like it was 2-lb., about 8” above swivel.
OKAY! I'm excited now, re-rigged both setups like above and at 8:45pm, ZZZZZZZZZ, #2 on, yelled at the only other two anglers on pier for help to bring in my other setup while I wrestled this one. I'm a quick learner so after setting drag this time I didn't touch the reel. Ya all know the story, run then reel, run then reel, one side of pier to next and at 9:16 (31 mins. later) Lompoc guys Steve and Byron helped me pull my first bat ray over the railing.
YEEHAW! Thanks guys! Measured 36” wingspan and was 33 lbs. on Rapala digital. I did reflect on all the posts here about everyone’s rays, and I know I'll be at it for a while B4 I can even come close to MM and you Bay anglers success. Filleted this one out just to complete my experience by tasting it for dinner. While inspecting stomach contents, I found about four, what looked like, white grubs that were about ½” diam. x 2” long. The pic shows one by my lic. holder for perspective. Any ideas what these were? Since I'm a neophyte to rays I have no clue.

Date: February 28, 2009
To: Ken Jones
From: fishboy
Subject: swell sharks

Just saw your revised swell shark article. You mentioned that small swell sharks are not able to puff up like the adults. Was just wondering where you found this bit of information. My understanding from those working at the miniature UCSB aquarium/touch-tank is that even with newly hatched swell sharks under a foot long, gulping air is a problem. While I am not sure if they are able to gulp in enough air to create a distended stomach like the adults, it is something they try to avoid, and if one of the small swell sharks does gulp air, they need to burp it. Which leads me to another interesting thing that you may consider adding to your article. They prevent these small swell sharks from gulping air by holding their mouth closed when they are out of water. Because swell sharks are actually gulping air/water, holding their mouth shut prevents them from doing this. I have been using this technique fairly successfully with the swell sharks we catch off of Goleta Pier as well. After we pull a swell shark to the surface, we try to keep it in the water until we can get our crab net ready. As soon as we net the shark and pull it out of the water, we pull it up as fast as we can and grab the mouth and hold it shut. This gives us all the time we need to untangle the lines from the net and remove the shark. Then allow the mouth to open for only as long as we need to remove the hook, and then again lower it as fast as we can in the net to get it back under water. Before learning this trick, we had numerous incidents where released swell sharks had gulped so much air that they were unable to submerge themselves and were left floating belly up, but since learning this technique almost 100% of the swell sharks we release have been able to swim down to the bottom. Roy

Hi Roy,

In "Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast," Milton Love says "Curiously, small swell sharks, which you would think would benefit from the ability, don't seem to be able to puff up. That's my source on the info but I find your note of great interest. Perhaps we need to revise it a little?