When "last cast" means "last poke"

Not really an exceptional fishing report here, but a catch story of persistence :D

I drove down to the California coast to try my luck at some surfperch fishing again on the coast. My first attempt on Christmas Eve was fortunately successful (I tend have decent beginners luck when trying some new techniques...everything after is a different story) and was able to land a number of perch species and even a small Cabezon. However, this time the surf was a lot rougher and I was fishing an outgoing tide. The Gulp sandworms I used, which seemed to produce a bite nearly every cast last time, produced not a single nibble. I switched to trying some sand crabs I caught but didn't have much luck; in fact, I ended up getting snagged (on the beach!) and decided to call it after losing my last size 4 hook. Fortunately, I brought my poke pole because I knew it was a minus tide in the afternoon that would coincide with some daylight time.

The mistake I made was not more carefully scoping around the tide pools and spots for poking around. It also took a bit longer to get to the actual spots while traversing over the slippery rocks. My first 30 minutes of actual poke poling were effectively spent uselessly prodding around very shallow bits of water with little semblance of holes. I did manage to hook a small Cabezon but it shook off the hook when I brought it out of water -- didn't set it hard enough. I moved to a different spot and the water only looked shallower with little signs of holes. It was about 4:20 now and the sun was about to set at 5...with the real possibility of going home with a skunk

I decided to traverse to a further spot from the shore, and noticed that the pools and waterways were deeper and more carved out. Good signs of better opportunities. A few pokes here and there and I found a great hole, and got a couple of rewarding tugs. It turned out to be a huge rock crab and it was returned to the water.

Finally, at 4:35 I found a nice little trench with rocks and poked around and found a nice hidden hole beneath the rocks. I got a tug, and then teased out the squid just beyond the hole to see what it was. The tide pool waters were pretty clear, and sure enough, it was Mr Monkeyface Prickleback lunging at the squid with its head peering out! I lifted my pole up, the eel fully elongated, but it broke free. I expected the eel to dart back in the hole, but it actually was swimming freely, its whole body fluttering in the tide pool! After a few more seconds, it went into an opposing hole. Trying again with a poke, it stuck its head out and took the hook, but spat it out and shook its head in a funny manner, as if it was disgusted.

I dropped my pole and traversed a couple rocks to get back to where my extra squid was just to change up the presentation. I put on a fresh squid head and went back and presented it right near the same hole. As the water rushed it from a crashing wave into the tide pool, I felt a couple of strong pulls and I did a yank myself. Success! I beat the skunk...a nice 21" monkeyface.

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I tried a couple more pokes in the same hole just in case but no more bites to be had. I brained, bled, and gutted the eel and then traversed my way back to my car just as the sun hit the horizon of the Pacific...