Fishing Cayucos

The last time I was in Cayucos, California, I was there as a tourist so I did not have my fishing tackle with me but I vowed to return with it and try the fishing off of its well known Cayucos Fishing Pier.

On Tuesday, June 1, 2021 I made good on that vow when I loaded up the car, drove for 2 1/2 hours and fished off the pier for the first–and last–time. It was a cold and foggy day which didn’t help the mood but I am used to that and if the fishing is good, there could be a hurricane coming and I might still go out.

The pier is very clean and well maintained by the local Rotary Club but it is very narrow for most of its 982 foot length until it widens a little towards the end but even then it is tiny compared to the Ventura Pier, Stearns Wharf, and even the Goleta Pier. This narrowness makes overhead casting an issue even when there are not a lot of visitors walking the pier. I stepped off 15 feet at its widest point so I really had to watch out when casting with my 9 foot Shimano rod. But this was not the worst of it as far as I am concerned, the pier could be 25 foot wide and still not address my main problem with fishing off of it. I can tell you what that is in one word: Kelp. And I prefer to not fish in kelp beds.

I started out by fishing almost at the end of the pier on the north side of it. Kelp beds were visible to the eye but what could be seen was well beyond the range of my casts but still, every time I reeled in I had to untangle my line while pulling kelp off of it. So, I tried the south side where you could not see any kelp beds and I got the same results.

After that, I moved halfway down the pier, fished off both sides, and had the same results. I finally wound up fishing just past the surf line and came up with the same results except, twice, while I was removing kelp from my line, if uncovered two small Skate rays among it. So, I can’t say I was shut out for the day, but they were the only fish I caught in 4 1/2 hours out there.

Cold Hands? Here is some help!

Warm skin, for cold hands

When your out fishing on a cold day, making changes to your rig, baiting your hook, casting, or doing any number of other things can be a challenge if your fingers are cold to the bone. If, like me, you have medical condition that makes your hands cold even in the summer, it can be a nightmare.

I have a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon which causes decreased blood flow to my fingers. My doctor’s tried a number of different medications to help with this problem but none worked as well as the one that I found on my own. While looking for something that would help me keep my fingers, I went to the Raynaud’s Association website and looked at a variety of products. The one I chose to try is one widely used in the NFL. If you ever wondered how some of those men played in freezing temperatures with there arms uncovered, Warm Skin might just be how they do it. There was a report by ESPN on how NFL trainers keep the players warm on cold days and one of the ways is by supplying them with Warm Skin.

I was so impressed, I bought a jar of it and I can tell you that it works. Since I started using it, I have not had any of he sores and discoloration that can be symptoms of this problem.

Warm Skin is not a heat balm like Icy Hot or Salon Spas, it does not warm your skin that way. What is does is create an invisible layer that seals in your natural body temperature. Now before I go out, I apply Warm Skin to my fingers and hands. If it is real cold, I may add light gloves as well, but normally I don’t need them. Warm Skin can be used on any part of your body so I you want to keep your neck warmer, rub some of on there too!

You can buy Warm Skin on Amazon or any of a number of other online retailers.

A Visit To An Old Friend

The Gaviota Pier, closed for now, maybe forever.

While I have been out a few times to see if the Pacific has warmed enough to start the fishing season, I have not had much luck or much to report about. So, while on the way back from a day trip to Jalama Beach, east of Lompoc, CA, I decided to drop in on an old friend to see how it was doing.

When I first moved to California, 42 years ago, I used to drive from my home in Santa Barbara, CA to Gaviota (population 94 people) and fish off the state beach pier located there. Though it is about 30 miles north of SB and the water was usually colder, for some reason, the fishing was always good–at least for bottom fishing. I caught several keeper Halibuts off the pier and lots of Sand Sharks and Sand Dabs while rarely seeing Mackerels, bass, or perch around.

Once I moved to Ventura, and the commute became 67 miles, I didn’t go up there as often as I used to. So I lost track of the location. Now I understand that it has been closed for a decade or so and may never be reopened and I can understand this.

The pier was always shaky and during significant wave events, you wanted a lifejacket nearby. Even during relative calm seas you could feel the pier swaying. Something must have happened that eventually dictated closing it. Most likely, it has never been repaired due its remote location. Next to the “booming” town of Gaviota, Buellton, CA is the closest city, 12 miles north and it is a small town as well.

I still hope that someday it will reopen because I can imagine the fishing would be fantastic after all this time.

Maintenance is a must…

My grandfather lived his entire life in cold weather states. He was born in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 often frozen lakes, then moved to Michigan, the Great Often Frozen Lakes State. Yet in all his years, he never went ice fishing.

He just never cared for the sport, he’d tell me the fish would still be there when the weather warmed up. So, when I would visit him and grandma on their farm during the snowy months, we never went fishing, but that didn’t mean we didn’t do things related to the sport.

We would often go out to his work room where he’d fire up the propane gas heater then pull out all his rods and reels so we could clean and oil them. He taught me that reels can often seize up when left sitting without proper maintenance. This could be caused by a build up of corrosion or just plain dirt. Maintaining his tackle was something he did when the weather grew too cold to fish.

Flash forward 60 years and I am now living in Southern California where the seasons usually run together unnoticed. In a climate like this where you can fish all year round, it is easy to forget this lesson and that is just what I did. I had not been out for about two months since the Pacific Ocean is pretty cold now, which puts off the fishing, so a few days ago when the air temperature was in the mid-seventies (in February no less), I decided to head out to the Ventura Pier just to get out of the house. Which is good because I didn’t get much fishing done while I was there.

The spool release lever on my Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel was frozen in place even though I knew it was fine the last time I went out. Nothing I could do while on the pier would make it work, so I had to set it aside which meant no bottom fishing that day. So, I baited up my Shakespeare Contender Spinning Reel to do some fishing over the side but the bell stop lever was not working. I could still fish with it and watch to make sure the line didn’t snag up into a tangled mess while reeling in but after a half hour of this, I decided to go in for the day. When I got home, I immediately took both reels apart on my work bench. A liberal dose of Liquid Wrench Super Lubricant freed the balky release lever on my Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel after it sat for an hour to let the oil do its work. While it was apart, every part of it got oiled as well.

The problem with the Shakespeare Contender Spinning Reel was a little more difficult to diagnose but what it came down to was a build up of dirt and corrosion that kept the bell stop lever from seating properly. A little work with an ice pick, that once belonged to grandpa, dug the build up out of the way so the reel would work as designed. It also got a liberal dose of Liquid Wrench.

When the work on these two rigs was completed, it took my other two rigs apart and cleaned and oiled them, too.

I didn’t want to get stuck again.

The Off Season

Fish or no fish, it’s good to get out and see the sunrise

I have not posted anything in a while for one simple reason: I have had nothing to post about.

I have fished in the Pacific Ocean off and on for nearly 40 years and to date, this is the worst fishing season I can remember after last season being one of the best. I guess the fish don’t know my schedule.

I still go out because, for me, while catching fish is my primary objective just being outdoors in the sun, wind, fog, and even light rain comes in a close second. I could be outdoors doing many other things like riding my bike all over town (which I do when I am not fishing) but riding a bike does not replace the thrill of the strike, the fighting of the fish, or the challenge of trying different tactics to get fish to bite.

So I go out and I will continue to go out even as he seasons turn bringing in colder weather and cooler ocean temperatures. If anything remarkable happens before the next season comes around, you’ll be able to read about it here.

Until then, keep the bait fresh and the lines tight.

Cayucos Pier

While on an overnight trip to Morro Bay, CA to go on a bike tour, it rained the first day so I decided to drive 7 miles up the coast to Cayucos and check out the Cayucos Pier.

It is a small pier but better maintained than any of the other piers I have been on in California. There were only three people fishing off the end of pier and they did not speak much English but fishermen can communicate with each other regardless of a language barrier.

They informed me that they usually caught Mackerel and Smelt and did not really try for any other species, though Shovel nose Sharks and Bat Rays are common.

This pier is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from my house so I plan to fish up there in the next week or two.