Two-Day Trifecta 10/27-28


Well-Known Member
Two weeks after my last surf outing, I began to feel that itch again. Luckily for me, I had an exit seminar to attend out at Bodega Marine Laboratory, so why not beat midday traffic and get some fishing in?

(Warning, long and overdramatic)


I pulled up to the same beach I fished last time by 6:30 am to catch the incoming tide. As the sun began to rise, I opened the door, then immediately closed it. It was cold, something like 38 F, plus wind chill. After a minute, I steeled my nerves and got out of the car; those fish weren't going to catch themselves. The walk down to the beach was miserable, the sand was absolutely frigid, while the wind sapped all the warmth from every extremity (and I was in board shorts and sandals!). I got to the water and was greeted with mild surf and a long trough running the length of the shoreline; at least the conditions looked promising. I started off throwing a Carolina rig with a sandworm, and almost immediately hooked something small. Just as quickly, a breaking wave pulled it off. Not exactly encouraging. The wind continued to blow, and even casting and retrieving was near impossible with frozen fingers. As I was bringing my rig through the wash, thinking about heading in after this last cast, my bait got smoked, ripping out drag. I wrangled the fish through the surf, almost praying that it didn't come off. In a few moments, I got my first glimpse of the fish through the foam; it was a proper slab redtail. A few nerve wracking moments later, it was on the sand.

This fish taped out to 13", a far cry from the cookiecutter shakers and barely-legals I usually pulled from this beach.

I should have taken the cue and gone home at this point; I fished for almost 5 more hours for nothing but itty bitty shaker redtails and silvers. At one point, I saw pelicans working some bait just out of casting distance, but by the time I rerigged with a swimbait and ran over there, the action had dispersed. At least by 10 the wind died down and it got pleasantly warm. I called it by 1 pm, and headed off to wash up and attend the exit seminar.


Following the stellar exit seminar and the spectacular after-party, I crashed at a grad student's cottage at some ungodly hour, not sure if I would be able to get up the following morning. And yet I did, wrestling myself out of the comfort of bed, and driving out to a different beach. This one required about a half-mile hike down a gully, leaving it relatively unpressured. The brisk walk distracted me from the cold (there was ICE on my windshield that morning!), and I was at the water's edge by 7:45 am on an incoming tide.

If you can geoguess the beach, you can have the spot; have fun getting down there.

I started off throwing the same rig and bait, blind casting as I couldn't see any sort of structure, hoping that something was on the prowl. At least here, I was sheltered from the wind, making the fishing somewhat more bearable. Almost an hour and many casts later, I got a good take, which turned out to be a small barred.

Unfortunately, it had gut hooked itself, and was thus destined for the steamer. (Also ignore my toes.)

I kept on casting, moving down the beach, until I found a hole where all of the fish must have been holding. For a good hour or so, I was having constant action, mostly from smallish silvers, but with a somewhat bigger barred and a few pan-sized silvers and calicos mixed in. At around 9:30, the bite slowed a bit, so I gave those fish a break and moved to a different section of beach. This section in a cove was less steep, and I could more easily see some promising holes. However, the sand here was much coarser (almost a fine gravel really), and I only managed to pull two calicos in the span of an hour. With the tide rising (and the coarse sand and shell fragments painfully scouring my skin like the world's worst skincare routine), I did not want to get trapped in the cove, and clambered back over the rocks to my first spot. I pretty quickly pulled a decent silver, and continued to get short bites.

Note the fish lice on its tail; I will take those into lab tomorrow and try to get some pics through a microscope.

Around 11, I got a few taps and set, only to feel nothing on the other end. I reeled back in, and found my hook completely gone. Something had chomped straight through my 8 lb leader. Retying, I cast back out into that spot. As I slowly retrieved my bait, I got another few light taps. After a moment, I set into a solid fish that dogged me in the surf. Following a short struggle, I slid a beautiful 11" calico onto the sand.

One of the prettiest fish from the surf, especially in the early morning light (unlike in this picture).

The very next cast, I hooked into a similar sized fish and brought it in. For the next hour, the action was Fast and Furious (Vin Diesel not included), with more pan-sized calicos and silvers in the mix. By this point, I released everything I was catching, hoping for some more slabs.

The haul; had I known I would have caught those bigger fish, I would have released the smaller ones.

At 12, I got some different bites further out, and brought in a walleye surfperch.

Shortly afterwards, I caught another, slightly bigger one.

After the two walleye surfperch, the action just about dried up, so I packed my gear and walked back up the beach, dreading the hike up. For those that would like to know, yes, the hike up was horrendous, especially now that the sun had come out. At least I had a bucket full of fish, and two days' worth of good memories.

TL;DR: Redtail, calico, and barred surfperches are biting on the North Coast, at least on Gulp!® camo sandworms on a 3-4 foot 8 lb fluoro leader and 3/4 oz egg sinkers on the incoming tide.
Last edited: