United Colors of Avalon: Cabrillo Mole 1/24/21

evanluck

Well-known member
#1
Went back to Cabrillo Mole this time with my girlfriend. We had a fantastic day!

Total fish count between the two of us:
Sheephead: 24
Halfmoon Perch: 14
Calico Bass: 9
Ocean Whitefish: 8
Garabaldi: 8
Blacksmith: 6
Sculpin: 4
Rock Wrasse: 3
Senorita: 3
Giant Kelpfish: 2
Mackerel: 1
Total: 82 fish

We ended up keeping 7 Sheephead, 2 Ocean Whitefish, 2 Sculpin, 1 Halfmoon Perch

First time catches for my girlfriend: Sheephead, Garabaldi, Rock Wrasse, Senorita, Blacksmith, Sculpin, Giant Kelpfish, Ocean Whitefish (from shore)

Personal Best for Me: Sculpin (~15")

My girlfriend had the distinction of catching the most fish with the best variety (44 fish total caught all species list except mackerel).

I had a good luck with generally bigger fish catching the majority of the fish we kept and perhaps the most exciting catches of the day with 2 bigger sized sculpin.

A risk pays off:
Taking the trip was a risk as common experience says that rain shuts down fishing and it did rain the day before in Catalina. Here are the ways I justified still taking the trip. Rain has been predicted for today (Monday) so I was betting that the fish would be more active in the gap between two rainy days. Also I have mostly been bottom fishing at the Mole and the water there is pretty deep so I was also betting that the fish at the bottom would be less affected by the rain. But mostly I thought intuitively it was going to be fine, so we booked our ferry tickets and went.

I brought my girl with me this time. I felt this pier would be particularly important to her because she hates jetty fishing. Without the ability to fish from jetties this pier would be the easiest chance to catch a keeper sized California Sheephead from the comfort of a pier.

Based on my previous experience here, I shortened and stiffed up my bottom rigs. I felt bad because my light rig did so well the last time and I felt like turning that rig into a float rig was a bit of a demotion after such a stellar performance.

We brought four poles:
A short stiff Okuma Axeon (7', 15-30lb, M) outfitted with a KastKing Sharky 3, 6000 Baitfeeder reel. This was our heavy setup with a high-lo rig with a 3/0 circle hook on the bottom and a 1/0 on the top and a 2 ounce bank sinker.

Toadfish Inshore Rod (7'2", 10-30lb, MF) with KastKing Sharky 3, 4000. This was my smaller hi lo setup with size 6 baitholder hooks and a 2 ounce bank sinker.

Penn Battle 3 Combo. My girl's smaller hi lo setup with size 6 baitholder hooks and a 2 ounce bank sinker.

Okuma Shadow Stalker (7', 8-17lb, M) with KastKing Sharky 3, 3000. My light setup was outfitted with a slip bobber and size 6 bait holder and size 8 mosquito hooks with a 1 ounce torpedo sinker. I did this to try to get my girl on some Opal Eye which is a fish is also has yet to catch.

What ended up happening is that we both focused on our smaller high low setups and switched occasionally to the heavier hi lo or float rig to keep the interest high or to target different species.

I also pretied 6 larger hi lo rigs (3/0, 1/0 circle hooks) and 12 smaller hi lo rigs (6, 8 baitholder hooks).

In general the adjustments were successful. I avoided having to stop fishing to tie rigs and the stiff rods helped us control the fish more effectively and we lost way fewer rigs to the kelp than I did on my previous trip. Our bigger Hi/Lo was also more productive as we were able to tweak that setup to target bigger/different fish instead of it being merely a less effective and more snag-prone version of the smaller rig. Both sculpin and a couple of the larger sheephead were caught on the bigger pole.

Bait:
We brought, 3 cartons of blood worms, 3 lbs of frozen squid, 2 lbs of head on market shrimp, a bag of frozen peas. The combo of blood worms and shrimp was the best for targeting sheephead. Squid was good as a switch up to calm to sheephead bite down and haved a tougher bait that lasted longer to try and catch diffferent/bigger species at the bottom. The peas we used for the float rig and there were effective at catching blacksmith and halfmoon perch while generally avoiding garibaldi.

Looking for advice to improve:
I boneheadedly forgot my small bucket for collecting water and this caused us to waste more time necessary collecting water and cleaning fish. Where do people clean fish on the Mole? Is there a cleaning station on the Green Pleasure Pier? If so, is it worth walking over there to use it or should I concoct some other setup or walk over to the ramp to the right off the mole and clean fish on the kelp covered ramp? I ended up doing this and it wasn't bad. Would have probably been perfect had I had my smaller bucket.

We did not catch any opal eye. My girlfriend spent a decent amount of time fishing the float rig and caught quite a few fish on it (mostly halfmoon perch and blacksmith) but no opal eye. I personally don't have interest in targeting Opal eye as there are mainland jetties were the Opal eye fishing is excellent but for my girlfriend it would be nice for me to find a way to catch them here.

The heavier Hi lo was definitely more productive this time but I'm still looking to tweak it so that it requires less active attention and is able to operate as a bait and wait setup looking for bigger fish. I was baiting it with larger pieces of squid and shrimp (even trying whole versions of each). These baits still get way too much attention from what I feel like are smaller sheephead. They nibble bigger baits off the hooks too often for the setup to be delivering what I want it to. Would love to have this setup as a way to catch bigger bottom fish like sculpin, cabezon or any other kind of rock fish and larger kelp bass. Perhaps using a live whole fish like a small mackerel? I have no idea what kind of bait fish are available off the Mole.

I called this picture the United Colors of Avalon. Kind of looks like a flag to me:
unitedcolors-1000.jpg

Had a great time and can't wait to go back! Thanks to everyone for all the advice and help!
 

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EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#3
Nice fishing, I wish I could be out there, but school has been kicking me hard. As for live bait, sometimes scattered schools of large topsmelt and jacksmelt will gather when chumming with peas. Anything in the 5-6 inch range is good for live bait, I drop them straight down by the pilings with a heavy leader, bungee cord the rod to the railing, and leave the setup in freespool with the clicker on. (For spinning reels just loosen the drag and tighten down hard when you get a running take). This is how I catch the majority of the large calico and sheephead from the Mole. Also as for cleaning fish there is nowhere to really clean them on the island, I usually just bring whole fish home on ice.
 

MisterT

Well-known member
#4
Wow! A really productive day!

I normally bring a small screwdriver and a knife with me. A screw driver to jam in the head (above yet between the eyes) and cut the gills and slightly the tail section so the fish can bleed out. I usually will try to wash the blood out but if that's not possible I just put the fish in an ice chest. (Clarification: I try to wash out the blood with water before throwing in ice.) I need to find a better ice pack that can last longer as summer days melt it quickly.
 
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evanluck

Well-known member
#6
I am considering going back on February 7th.

Let me know when your plans start to crystalize.

Wow! A really productive day!

I normally bring a small screwdriver and a knife with me. A screw driver to jam in the head (above yet between the eyes) and cut the gills and slightly the tail section so the fish can bleed out. I usually will try to wash the blood out but if that's not possible I just put the fish in an ice chest. (Clarification: I try to wash out the blood with water before throwing in ice.) I need to find a better ice pack that can last longer as summer days melt it quickly.
I have an ice pick that I used to dispatch the fish and then I bleed them. I also use a sharpened piano wire tool to destroy the fishes spinal cord. This is part of a Japanese slaughter technique called Ikejme that sushi chefs use to prepare fish for sashimi. Supposedly if you can destroy the spinal cord, it maximizes the amount of energy in the form of ATP and gets left in the cells. Then they can age the fish like they do with beef and increase the umami
Good job. Hoping to be down there soon.
 

Mahigeer

Well-known member
#7
Thanks for the post.
Long time ago there was a cleaning station at the Mole, but like many things it got abused and was removed.
Then anglers used the bathroom and left a big mess. They locked the bathrooms at night.

I use a small bucket and we had bait cutting boards on the railing. They may not be there.

I also have a special cleaning board that has a groove on the back side of it. It fits the top of five gallon bucket. I may have gotten it from Bass Pro Shops. Can't remember well.

The opaleye is a tough one to skin.
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#8
the bait cutting boards are still there but they are covered with bird droppings, so I am hesitant to clean fish on them. there is a ramp just to the left of the Mole that leads into the ocean. that's a good spot for cleaning fish. just need to keep organized and guy your catches from the birds that start to gather. That's the same at any fish cleaning station but on that ramp you just feel a little more vulnerable as the birds start to gather.

Thanks for the post.
Long time ago there was a cleaning station at the Mole, but like many things it got abused and was removed.
Then anglers used the bathroom and left a big mess. They locked the bathrooms at night.

I use a small bucket and we had bait cutting boards on the railing. They may not be there.

I also have a special cleaning board that has a groove on the back side of it. It fits the top of five gallon bucket. I may have gotten it from Bass Pro Shops. Can't remember well.

The opaleye is a tough one to skin.
 

Mahigeer

Well-known member
#9
My solution to dirty bait cutting board has been the use of wire brush and the painters wood scraper.

See link below for example.

2-1/2" Allway Tools F4 F-Series Wood Scraper, Soft Grip, 4-Edge | Tools, Scrapers, Paint & Wood Scrapers | Paint Supply

After using a small bucket and rope to get water, I soak the board first, then bang the water side edge to slope it toward the water.

I then first use the scrapper to get the big chunks removed and later finalize it with the wire brush.

With many rinses in between. I get the edges too, to keep my cloths clean.

The scraped pieces actually act as chum and lots of fish show up.

I have pictures, but this site does not allow them even in the small size!



People always ask me; “why do you carry so much stuff?” Well, items like these are one reason.

They of course never say “can I help you carry something?”

Well it is ok, but ironic.
 

SC McCarty

Well-known member
#10
I have read different things about sheephead as an eating fish. Some suggest it tastes like lobster, others use it for lobster bait. I have also read that the skin is unpalatable. How do you prepare it?

Steve
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#12
California Sheephead

Species: Bodianus pulcher (Ayres, 1854); from the Latin pulcher (for beautiful). Sheephead were formerly known by the scientific name (1) Pimelometopon pulchrum; pimelometopon meaning fat forehead and (2) Semicossphus pulcher. Why the new name? Not sure.

Alternate Names: Sheepie, goat, billygoats (large fish), red fish, snaggle tooth, humpy, and fathead. Apparently called West Hollywood fish by some anglers (not sure why). Early day names included California redfish. In Mexico called vieja californiana.

Identification: Easily identified by color. Adult females uniform brownish-red to rose; male with black head, red band in middle, and black in posterior portion of body; chin white on both sexes. Males have a large, fleshy lump on their forehead, which increases in size with age. Stout, protruding canine-like teeth in front of mouth; somewhat bucktoothed.

Size: Length to 3 feet, and a weight of 40 lb 7 oz. (the California diving record fish taken at San Miguel Island in 1992). The California rod and reel record fish weighed 30 lb 8 oz, and was taken off Newport Beach in 2009. The majority of fish taken from piers are much smaller, typically 9-14 inches in length. The largest sheephead I’ve seen reported from piers were a 30+ pound sheephead taken from the San Clemente Pier in July 2010, a 29.7-pound sheephead taken from the Redondo Sportfishing Pier in February 2008, and a 27-pound sheepie taken from the Oceanside Pier in April 1998. Marine biologists report a 29-pound sheepie was 32-inches long and 53 years old.

Sheephead_RSP_2009_2.jpg

29.7 pound sheephead from Redondo Sportfishing Pier

Range: Gulf of California and Isla Guadalupe, Pacific Coast from Cabo San Lucas, southern Baja California, north to Monterey Bay, central California. Common from the Gulf of California and southern Baja California north to southern California. Although uncommon north of Point Conception, an isolated population is found near the warm water discharge at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near Avila Beach and Port San Luis.

Habitat: Generally found intertidally down to about 180 feet deep, along rocky bottoms and in kelp beds. Recorded to a depth of 492 feet.

Piers: By far the two best piers are those located at Avalon—the Green Pleasure Pier and the Cabrillo Mole. Sheephead are an expected catch at those piers. Coastal piers that are located near rocks or kelp beds will see a few sheephead most years but they are always an unexpected treat. Best bets: Shelter Island Pier, Ocean Beach Pier, Oceanside Pier, San Clemente Pier, Redondo Sportfishing Pier, Santa Monica Pier, Paradise Cove Pier and Goleta Pier.

Shoreline: A favored fish for rock and jetty anglers in southern California.

Boats: One of the favored boat species for bottom fishermen in southern California. Found in most kelp beds south of Point Conception as well as the offshore islands.

Bait and Tackle: Medium sized tackle, hooks size 4-2/0, and a variety of baits—shrimp, ghost shrimp, bloodworms, fresh mussels, cut squid—will attract sheephead if they're around the pier.

Food Value: Good but the flesh is somewhat coarse. Sometimes boiled and flaked for use as a lobster substitute in salads and other recipes.

Comments: Feeds on such delicacies as sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, snails, squid, lobsters, shrimp and crabs. It uses its canine-like teeth to pry food from rocks, which it then crushes with tooth-plates in the rear of the mouth. Can live to over 50 years and is a protogynous hermaphrodite starting life as a female and then turning into a male when about one foot in length and 4 to 5 years in age (although some appear to stay females up to fifteen years of age and some even refuse to change). Why, dear reader, do most of these fish start life as females and then turn into males? The process, by the way, seems to take less than a year. Apparently it is much more effective than that practiced by the medical establishment in California and is, I am sure, much less expensive.
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#15
I've eaten a good amount of Sheephead recently and here are my thoughts.

The fish has white flesh, a mild flavor and a texture I would say the texture is nice but on the softer side. It can get coarse like in Ken's description but this happened only when I overcooked the fish like when I boiled the head and bones to make a stock.

I would compare it to a rock fish with a bit more delicate flavor and slightly softer texture. Good eating fishing in the gamut of fish that can be caught.

I’ve tried it both with the skin on and skin off. I think the reason that people don’t like the skin is that it is thicker and fattier so you need to cook it well to render the fat out of it. Otherwise it has a slimy texture. If you cook it long and hot enough to get the skin crispy, the skin tastes fine

I have read different things about sheephead as an eating fish. Some suggest it tastes like lobster, others use it for lobster bait. I have also read that the skin is unpalatable. How do you prepare it?

Steve
 
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SC McCarty

Well-known member
#18
I've eaten a good amount of Sheephead recently and here are my thoughts.

The fish has white flesh, a mild flavor and a texture I would say the texture is nice but on the softer side. It can get coarse like in Ken's description but this happened only when I overcooked the fish like when I boiled the head and bones to make a stock.

I would compare it to a rock fish with a bit more delicate flavor and slightly softer texture. Good eating fishing in the gamut of fish that can be caught.

I’ve tried it both with the skin on and skin off. I think the reason that people don’t like the skin is that it is thicker and fattier so you need to cook it well to render the fat out of it. Otherwise it has a slimy texture. If you cook it long and hot enough to get the skin crispy, the skin tastes fine
Thanks for the detailed answer.

Steve