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.
First, I have stated many times in my blog that I like to give the fish I catch a fighting chance and if I lose one then the fish wins. This doesn’t bother me unless it is due to faulty or worn out equipment because that is on me, not the fish.
Second, when I take someone along with me on a fishing outing, like my son or sister-in-law, and they do not have their own gear I let them use my old ultra-lite rig (Quantum Lite Long Stroke reel & Quantum Lite Graphite rod) because it only has a 6-foot pole and the reel is easy to use even for inexperienced fishermen. It is also very dependable with a strong retrieve. I rarely lose a fish while using it.
Third, when I let a guest use my ultra-lite, I use an old mid-sized Penn 990 SS reel & St. Croix rod rig. I don’t have any data on this rig because it is at least 30 years old and I bought it used. The reel has always had issues.
So, when my son and I went fishing on Black Friday (who needs a crowded mall when you have the Pacific Ocean?) I used the Penn and though we didn’t catch a lot of fish, I lost two because of a faulty drag that would not tighten all the way down. This was a new problem and the one that convinced me to retire the outfit.
I considered replacing it with another mid-sized rig but my Shakespeare Contender reel &Shimano FX 2803 rod pretty much fills the role of a mid-sized out fit so I decided to go with an new ultra-lite instead. That meant heading down to my favorite tackle store–the local mini-WalMart. This store, which is about a mile from my home, has tons of fishing equipment which may be due to the fact that our city sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and that there are two large freshwater lakes, Piru and Casitas, which are each about a 10-mile drive from the store. Everything is also “WalMart priced” which is usually the best price anywhere.
After looking over what they had, I found a rod and reel combo that made my old ultra-lite rig look like a heavy ocean bottom pole.
The rod I chose is a 6-foot Shakespeare Durango rod which is Walmart priced at $9.44. I couldn’t find any specs on the rod, but according to my kitchen scale, it weighs in at 4.3 oz. It’s maroon/red in color so I looks pretty hot too.
The reel I chose is an Abu Garcia Silver Max 10 which is pictured above. According the the company’s website, the reel weighs in at 6.4 oz. The reel is WalMart priced at $29.99. So I paid less than $40 for my new ultra ultra-lite.
After I got home and assembled the rig, complete with 30lb test Spider Wire Stealth moss green lineI was amazed at how well they went together even though I picked them out. The balance is perfect. I can put my finger under the rubberized section of the handle just above the reel and it balances with no effort. Naturally, I wanted to get out and try the new outfit as soon as possible, which I did so yesterday.
I drove up to Stearns Wharf where the action is usually good if not great. The weather was partly cloudy with a little wind and a high temperature of 57 (it was 39 when I arrived) but the next rain storm would be holding off for another day or so. The tide had turned by the time my wishing pole’s line hit the water so the tide would be coming in for another 4 hours until it turned again. Everything was perfect except no one told the fish. In the first 3 hours I was there, all I caught was a small Smelt no more than 5-inches long. This was hardly the test I was looking for so I stayed on and was continually amazed at the ease of casting my new ultra ultra-lite. Even with only a piece of bait, I could get it out far enough to be away from all the tiny smelt that usually hands out under the wharf.
I was getting ready to pack up and leave but since I had two pieces of bait already cut, I thought I would use them up instead of feeding them to the birds. On my first cast, I got a huge hit as something started running out my line. It was a struggle, which I like, but after a few minutes, I landed a 16″ Smelt which I estimated weighed a little over 2-pounds.
Not bad work for an ultra ultra-like that weighs a total of 10.3 oz. After our next storm passes, I will be taking it out again.
After ending my latest quest to catch something while surf fishing, I needed to stay on the Emma Wood State Beach side of town for a few hours so I could run an errand in the afternoon. Instead of just prowling around all the interesting shops in Downtown Ventura while I waited for the time to pass, I went over to the Ventura Pier during the interim.
The weather could not have been better for the way I fish and there were surprisingly few anglers around. I didn’t have my ultralight with me since I had not planned to use it, so I put the line on my Shakespeare ATS 350 reel& Shimano Saguaro rod outfit on the ocean bottom looking for sharks, rays, or a stray Halibut and fished over the side with my Shakespeare Contender reel & 8-foot Shimano FX 2803 rod. It is a pretty big outfit, big enough to haul in a 5-foot Tiger Shark, but it is not really suited for drift lining. Still, I had to use what I had on hand.
When it was time to go, my catch for the few hours I fished was 3 Mackerel, 1 Smelt, 1 Croaker, and the guy pictured above. I am not a crab expert but apparently a passerby was, he was also a lover of crab meat.
He told me that this is a Dungeness Crab which are very good to eat; he had eaten hundreds in his lifetime. He also asked me if he could have this one. I told him that I was going to let the guy go back into the ocean after I took his picture for my blog. As if he knew what was going to happen, once the crab finished posing for the picture, he scuttled sideways to the edge of the pier and jumped in which gave all of us observers a good laugh.
The now crab-less passerby stayed and we talked fishing. He is from Atlanta, GA, maybe a 75-mile drive from where my sister lives. He told me of a great place to fish which is about 4 hours from Atlanta but worth the trip.
So, I am thinking that maybe its time to pack up my gear and pay sis a visit…
When I surf fish in the Pacific Ocean , I always say that I am fishing on the edge of the world. If you lake fish, you know the boundaries of the lake and most likely you know the depth of it as well. When you river or creek fish, you know the boundaries of those waterways and you know that their water will eventually end up somewhere, maybe even in the Pacific Ocean .
Surf fishing in a ocean is different. Though you can look at a map or a globe and see where all the water is located on the planet, you don’t really understand the enormity of the oceans until you stand at their edges while watching the endless waves come rushing at you. It is a humbling feeling for a man as you hold your rod and reel in hand hoping that the water will give up some of its bounty while you dance with the waves trying to decide if you are getting a bite or if the expanse is just playing tricks on you.
That was how I felt this morning while fishing at Emma Wood State Beach in Ventura, CA. This was only my fourth attempt as surf fishing and, including today, I have yet to catch anything while fishing this way even though I always catch something any other way be it in a boat, on a pier, or at lakeside or riverside.
If the past few attempts at this sport, I went out trying to snare some Surfperch or Corbina even though I usually don’t angle for that type of fish. Both times I gave up after a few hours of trying to get the trick of fishing in the constantly moving sea which is not the same a river fishing where you stand on the banks and watch the water go by.
Today, though, I wanted to try a new tack, I decided to try to fish on the ocean side of the surf and not directly in it. So, I took my Shakespeare ATS 350 reel & 9-foot Shimano Saguaro rod with me and cast over the incoming surf. My line was baited with a 4-ounce weight, a large hook, and a big chunk of either Squid or Mackerel and still the ocean tossed it all about as if it were nothing. My bait was often missing or torn up when I reeled in but if a fish was after it or not, I could not say. So, again, I left after a few hours with nothing to show for my efforts.
This does not mean that I am giving up on surf fishing, I am just going to try another new tack the next time. Today, the tide was coming in for the hours I was on the beach but since I am not really interested in fish that come and go with the tide, I will go out on a day when the tide is going out and see how that works.