Terrible picture…I know

 

Only surf fish on the Top 10, the corbina…the elusive ghost of the surf…got ya!

I’ve only ever caught this fish once before.  And even if you are very salty from the sand, catching one is like catching a yellow on any boat ride…anytime you catch one is a good day of fishing.

Being at 6 of the 10 Top 10 species now for the year, I’ve been thinking lately that it’s a good time to devote precious fishing time to the surf in order to target this species.  Summer is the best time of the year because they are actively patrolling around on the beach looking to feed.  As the water cools, they tend to withdraw to brackish areas and are almost impossible to coax a bite from once in they’re in that environment.

Sand crab on the C-rig

I happened to be staying in Huntington Beach Saturday night.  At the same time, I had gotten some intel from one of my buddies saying he scored at Bolsa Chica on lugworms the previous week.  I was already a little late getting to the beach after too many libations Saturday night.  I didn’t have time to go to Big Fish to buy lugworms or ghost shrimp.

I relied on finding sand crabs once I got there.  The one in the pic (right) was the biggest one I found.  It got bit, but all the insides got poached without hooking up.  Later though, I found a smaller one that was both soft shell (recently molted their old shell) and full of eggs (you can see the orange eggs on the pictured specimen).  That’s the candy bait of surf fishing.

High tide was scheduled to be just after noon, so it was primetime once I got there (9-ish) until the tide peaked and started to recede.  When I initially got there, I pinned on a red Gulp worm on a Carolina rig setup using 4# fluoro leader to a small circle hook (helps to prevent too deep of a swallow for safe releases).  I got bit on the first cast, but missed hooking it.  It was good to know there were fish in the area though…especially since there were a lot of surfers and other people in the water limiting my movement.  Because of the lack of mobility, I stayed within a pretty confined stretch of beach near lifeguard station 20.  I noticed a lot of the telltale wedge marks in the sand (showing where the crabs were hiding), so I quickly changed up to fishing live sand crabs.  I fished for almost the next 3 hours without any hookups and only the occasional bump or strip to keep my hopes up.  Finally, with minutes left on the clock, I scored on the aforementioned soft-shelled crab.

It was a smaller fish (14″?), but given the day (no perch fishing live sand crabs…really?), I was super excited about the outcome.  The fish was pretty squirrelly and I didn’t want to keep it out of the water long, so I wasn’t able to get a great pic (few more below).

I’ll still probably make time for a better specimen this year, but I’m just excited to cross it off the list for the time being.

That puts me at 7 of 10 with more than 5 months to go in the year.  I have tuna, halibut and sheephead (aka that damn fish) left to catch.  The only one I’m very concerned about is halibut.  Maybe I can still get one on the beach?  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

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