Walk down Huntington Beach Pier and Bolsa Chica State Beach 8/28

I'm sorry for the late report, but I was walking down the Huntington Beach Bike Trail and took a stroll down the Huntington Beach Pier to check out the action.

I walked over the Pacific Coast Highway bridge over the Bolsa Chica Tidal Inlet Channel at around 4:30 PM, observing an incoming tide (the best time to fish the channel). Looking down from the two viewing posts on the bridge, I saw the water was crystal-clear, with lots of sand being stirred up by a combination of waves pushing into the channel and water flowing out of the channel from the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. At the Northern viewing post, I only saw the sand, with not much action except for some shells and eelgrass strands floating around. At the Southern viewing point, where the water is deeper, I saw a small school of Striped Mullet swimming around the pilings of the bridge. A small Bat Ray also came out from underneath the bridge before heading towards the mouth of the channel. Only one angler was present fishing the Southern side of the channel just before the bridge. He was attempting to fish a chunk of squid on a Carolina rig, but I saw that whenever he cast his line, his bait would be swarmed by Topsmelt before it could reach the bottom. He then switched his setup to a white-colored swimbait, likely targeting California Halibut. I left after only a few minutes, heading south towards Main Street.

A short while later, at about 6:00 PM, I arrived at Huntington Beach Pier. The high tide was in full swing, and I wanted to check out the action at the pier to plan my next fishing trip. Inshore, about ten anglers were using freshly gaffed mussels or sand crabs on dropper loop rigs from the Lifeguard tower to the bathrooms. However, I did not see any fish, with the exception of one angler who had three Pacific Sardines in their bucket (but I do not think the Sardines came from the surf).

Mid-pier, a small group of anglers was fishing large Sabiki rigs (about size 4 hooks) baited with frozen Anchovies, but with no luck. At the end of the pier, the action began to heat up. While I could not see any fish in the water, a couple of anglers using smaller Sabiki rigs by the life ring had a bucket with a decent amount of Queenfish and other baitfish. Behind the Broad Street Oyster Company, on the left side of the pier, I saw another group of anglers fishing with a large, unbaited Sabiki with a few Mackerel in their bucket. Upon closer inspection, they also had a very small Pacific Bonito! Although it was a small fish to a point where it was dwarfed by Mackerel, seeing the Bonito made me feel very hopeful about the weeks to come and the prospect of catching a limit of Bonito from the pier or shore in Orange County without having to spend a fortune on a party boat trip. The anglers also had a small Sheep Crab in their bucket that was snagged on their Sabiki. The anglers told me that they had caught a couple of "Sculpin" at the end of the pier, but said they were not stung when trying to release them. I was not able to see these fish, but I doubt that they were California Scorpionfish. While I did not see any more action when returning, I saw that many anglers fishing at the end of the pier had closed coolers, meaning that there possibly could have been more fish caught at the end earlier that day.

On a non-fishing-related note, I examined the Broad Street Oyster Company's menu. While I will not miss the obnoxious music from Ruby's Diner, I do miss the convenient take-out food and the affordable prices. None of the food at this restaurant was under $25, and there was no take-out. I was hoping to grab a quick bite to eat, but after seeing how expensive it was, I opted to walk over to Main Street to find another restaurant. Hopefully, this restaurant will change its menu to make it more convenient and affordable.

-Surf fishing has not been very productive recently, based on two trips to Huntington Beach Pier in the span of a week. Perhaps the inshore fish were spooked off by the storm?
-People seem to love Sabiki rigs. I understand why people think they are effective, as the feathers and many hooks look appetizing to many fish, but I have found that the many hooks often create tangles, and the feathers and glowing beads can intimidate fish on a slow day when the bite is not wide-open. Still, many people swear by them. I have seen Sabiki rigs at almost every pier and party boat I have fished on, and I have even seen anglers using Sabikis in the past at the Bolsa Chica Tidal Inlet Channel and at the El Dorado Park Lake in Long Beach! However, the only fish species that I believe Sabiki rigs will actually increase your chances of catching are Pacific Sardines.

-For Orange County anglers, does anyone know why the Pacific Coast Highway bridge over the Bolsa Chica Tidal Inlet Channel is off-limits to fishing, while the shoreline of the channel allows fishing? Are the CA State Parks and DFG afraid of snaggers intercepting fish such as Striped Mullet on their way into the Bolsa Chica Wetlands? Does the City of Huntington Beach not want anglers leaving garbage on the bridge? I have been fishing at this location for nearly my entire life, and I have yet to find an answer. Even the Lifeguards and Park Rangers do not know.
-Is it legal to keep crustaceans, such as Sheep Crabs and Rock Crabs caught on hook-and-line if they are of legal size? I know that Spiny Lobsters are illegal to keep on a hook-and-line, but I have not heard any information on crabs. One of the anglers I saw asked me if it was legal to keep the Sheep Crab that he had snagged with his Sabiki, but I was unable to say.

Fish Count:
~30 Anglers
-3 Pacific Sardines
-6 Queenfish
-1 Topsmelt
-1 California Lizardfish
-5 Pacific Chub Mackerel
-1 Pacific Bonito
-2 "Sculpin"
~50 California Mussels
-At least 5 Pacific Sand Crabs
-1 Sheep Crab
19 Total Fish Observed
~56 Total Shellfish Observed