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Re-Thinking Surf Fishing…Again

As most of you know, I grew up fishing in Washington State.  My home fishing area was along the southern end of Puget Sound between the cities of Des Moines and Redondo Beach…(I guess those city founders found their inspiration and city names elsewhere?).

Back then I mostly fished off those two city piers.  A couple times a year though, my dad would plan a family clamming and fishing outing to the San Juan Islands.  The timing of said outings depended on my dad’s interpretation of the Farmer’s Almanac.  In finding the image (right) of the almanac, I was surprised to find that it is still being published!

Today, for the things you would find in the almanac like moon phase, tides etc., I have an app on my phone to do that.  Back in the day though, my dad would compare information from the various charts to divine the big tidal swings that coincided with a weekend day.  Then on the momentous day, my family along with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents would caravan to the ferry dock, and head out to the islands to spend the day.

On the low tide, we’d clam.  There were two types of clams, smaller butter clams that we’d save to eat and bigger “horse” clams we’d cut up and use for bait.  When the tide was coming up, it was time to fish.  We’d fish a dropper loop type of setup using a 2 oz. pyramid weight and a chunk of clam for bait.  We’d cast them out, let the tide roll in, put them in a holder, and wait to get bit.  Pretty basic stuff, but it worked great.  The surf perch up there are tropical looking and 2-3 lb. fish were common out at the islands.

                                                                       Redondo (WA) pier striped perch


Surf Fishing In So Cal

So Cal barred surf perch caught on live sand crab

When I learned how to surf fish here, I had to rethink surf fishing.  While surf perch are still a primary target like it is back home, how it’s done is a more active pursuit than the bait and wait strategy I learned up in Washington.

The other thing that is really different is how close the action happens to the shore.  It’s remarkable to see, but I often see fish come right to the water’s edge.  It made me rethink my previous notion that a far cast was critical to beach fishing success.  Since a long cast isn’t critical, there’s no need to have a long surf pole.



Re-Thinking It…Yet Again

                     First beach halibut on the Lucky Craft

Which brings me to what I’ve been thinking about lately.  When it comes to fishing from the sand, this year I’ve been all about targeting halibut.  My goal is to catch a legal from the sand.  I caught my first, albeit a short, in October of last year with a Lucky Craft Flash Minnow.

The LC is a great bait, but it has it’s limitations.  One thing is I can only cast it maybe 20 yards at most, especially since it’s been pretty windy here this year.  It always seems like the birds are working, just beyond my casting range.

Two, since it is rigged up with multiple treble hooks, it’s impossible to use if there’s a lot of seaweed in the water.  I feel like I should be carrying a trash bag to collect all the seaweed and plastic wrappers that I’m catching.

Anjard, his 10′ swimbait rod and a big yellow 

Then a couple weeks ago I fished a double halfie down in San Diego with my buddy John Anjard.  John is something of a fishing tinkerer and he told me had something he wanted to show me.  John had taken a 10 foot, 2 piece surf rod, performed some modifications on it, and instead of fishing it from the beach, he used it on a sportboat (the New Seaforth) to launch 5 inch swimbaits into the kelp for calico bass.

I figured I’d play along and you know what, I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  I caught a limit of bass, launching a swimbait a good 50 yards per cast.  Last week, showing just how versatile a bait like this can be, John even caught a yellowtail using this method of presentation.

Now what if you took the same gear, same bait, and brought it back on shore?  If I can launch it 50 yards from a boat, I can launch it 50 yards from the sand.  Could an extra 30 yards put me in range of those birds working off the beach?  I think so.  Could that be a halibut pushing up that bait that the birds are crashing on?  I aim to find out!

So I’ve been researching surf rods.  I found a great review on the Outdoor Empire site.  Their top pick is the Team Daiwa surf spinning rod.  Daiwa makes these rods up to 12 feet long, with a capability of handling up to 60 lb. test and a 16 oz. lure for the 12 footer!  This rod is definitely something I will need to investigate further.  Stay tuned…

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