Even during the current pandemic, fishing in the Pacific goes on.
With the ocean water warming up over the past few weeks, the fishing has improved as well. The temperature today is a toasty 64 degrees.
As you can see in the pictures above, the fish have been plentiful and varied no matter what pier I have tried. Of the Ventura Pier, Stearns Wharf, or Goleta Pier, the best has been the Ventura Pier although I think Stearns Wharf will soon catch up. It takes a while for the warmer water to get up the coast. Goleta, which is north of Santa Barbara will be the last to benefit from the warm water of these three although on my last trip up there, I managed to catch two keeper Calico Bass.
I am happy to report that the majority of the fishermen and women are wearing masks like mine even though we are outside in the sun, fog, and wind. We are all in this together and the fishing community in my part of the world has responded to the call.
For a few months access to the Pacific Ocean has been non-existent in my part of SoCal due to necessary closures in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But last week I found out that the Goleta Pier, which is part of the Santa Barbara County Parks division had opened to all activity including fishing. So yesterday I made the 43 mile commute from my home to check it out. With gas being cheap (by SoCal standards) and traffic being light (again by SoCal standards) it was a nice trip.
With the air temperature around 80 degrees, no wind, and the ocean temperature nearing 60 degrees, it seemed like perfect fishing weather. I left after 4 very nice hours of enjoying the sun and the clean ocean air with only two small Croakers to my credit but that does not mean it was a bad day. I caught one of them on my deep bottom line and one on my ultra-ultra light over the side line which showed me that the fish were all over but scattered. Also, there were a number of fishing birds out catching fish even the above Pelican that came to visit me. I tried to tell him about Social Distancing but he didn’t care–all he wanted was a fish. Since I didn’t have one to give to him, he eventually gave up and flew away to catch his own.
From the picture above, it may look like the pier is deserted but that is not the case. It is just so long that Social Distancing is not something you need to think about. When I left, I counted over two dozen anglers on the pier.
At one time, the Goleta Pier was one of the best fishing spots in SoCal but if you read my recent articles about it, that is no longer the case however since it is open and it is the only place to go for now, I will be making this trek every Wednesday until further notice. I can only hope that eventually it will get back to its glory days.
I haven’t been out to the Ventura Pier since all hell broke loose because of the current worldwide pandemic even though I know fishing out there is not prohibited under California’s Marshall Law. The fishing has been way off due to the cold Pacific water anyway, but I had been checking in now and again. Today I decided to go once more since at least the weather is warming up.
Sadly, the fish must be practicing social distancing since nothing came within 6-feet of my bait and for the first time in my memory, I was totally shut out.
Nothing living being came within 6-feet me either except for this Egret with its foot-long very sharp looking beak. I tossed him a fat salted anchovy as a bribe to leave me alone. He seemed to enjoy it then flew away.
Most of the state parks in California are shut down which includes most of the coastline so surf fishing is out for me. Also, all the party boats are in dry dock for those who like to go on them. So, right now, pier fishing is my only option and since it is prohibited to travel from one county to the other except under certain circumstances, Stearns Wharf and the Goleta Pier in Santa Barbara County are off limits to me. That only leaves my home pier and as it warms up, I plan to go out at least once a week.
Even though fishing is usually thought of a singular endeavor, people do go out and fish together but these are usually friends you can trust and not strangers so we all need to get out either with buddies or on you own since one day this will all pass and keeping some semblance of normalcy now will make it easier to put things back together later.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a day in light of all that is going on than fishing in the bright sunshine because sunlight is nature’s best antiseptic.
So, fish when you can and when you know it is safe to do so. If it is not safe, then stay home, the fish, the water, and the Earth will still be there when it is safe to go out again.
The Goleta Beach Pier has been in existence, in one form or another, since the early 1930s.
When I first moved to Santa Barbara, CA 40 years ago it quickly became my fishing hub. Though, today it is 1450 feet in length, when I first started fishing off of it, it was only about a third of that length. The extension that came years later made this the best fishing spot I have ever visited. To date, it is where I caught the biggest fish of my lifetime; a giant Bat Ray which measured 48” from wing tip to wing tip and me and the three other men who finally hauled it out of the Pacific estimated it’s weight to be in excess of 150 pounds.
So, when I finally decided to travel the 42 miles up the coast last month to visit my old haunt, I was very excited. On the day I went, though, the weather was cloudy, damp, and cold. After getting soaked and chilled to the bone for two hours with only one Croaker to show for it, I called it a day and vowed to go back. Today was that day and the weather could not have been any different. Today, it was sunny with high clouds, a slight wind, and the temperature was a balmy 72 degrees. Sadly, that is all the improved.
After three hours of basking in the sun, my catch totaled two fish and one of them was a handicapped Starfish that was missing one of its legs.
Something else that was missing were all the fishermen who used to hang out on the pier. On any given day, you’d find dozens of men, women, or groups out there looking to catch their next meal. The Goleta Beach Pier is much thinner than the Ventura Pier, only measuring 15’ wide, so it could get crowded very fast. Today, I had all the room in world. At the most, there were seven people or groups fishing and three of those came and went while I was there!
I hate to think that my old favorite fishing place has been
fished out, but if I go one more time (as I plan to do) and the results are the
same, then that is the only conclusion that I can come to.