Trip to the Southland — 2007 (2024)

Date: August 2, 2007
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones
Subject: Another short trip to the southland piers —

Got back last night from a short trip down to San Diego to return my granddaughter to her home. Did manage to fish a few piers, and was able to meet up with Snookie and Hashem, but overall it was a quick whirlwind trip cut short by a need to return home for business reasons.

Piers fished: 8 — Coronado Ferry Landing Pier, Imperial Beach Pier, Ocean Beach Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier, Oceanside Pier, San Clemente Pier, Balboa Pier and Cabrillo Pier.

Fish caught: 152 — Pacific mackerel, gray smoothhound shark, spotted bay bass, diamond stingray, jack mackerel, queenfish, jacksmelt, walleye surfperch, Pacific sardine, white croaker, kelp bass, sargo, black croaker, Pacific bonito, salema, sand bass, yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, bat ray, staghorn sculpin, white seaperch, black seaperch, giant kelpfish, shinerperch.

New species caught: diamond stingray. I've now caught 119 saltwater species from California's piers.

Interesting sights:

(1) Although I had never visited the Coronado Ferry Landing Pier without catching at least one round stingray, that string was broken. Instead I caught a small diamond stingray, which was a new species for my list.

(2) I had just caught several fish at the Oceanside Harbor Pier (including two black croaker, two sargo and two bonito) when a little kid comes over and asks what I'm using for bait. I replied “worms.” His retort was “oh, those bloodsucking worms?” I then said that no, these are lugworms and though sometimes I use “blood worms,” they do not suck your blood. He seemed relieved. They can give you a prickly little nip if you're not careful but they're not exactly vampires.

(3) I was out on the end of the Oceanside Pier Monday night about 10:30 when I see three teenagers in bathing suits climb up on the railing just where the pier widens. With them were several other guys and girls, one with a cell phone ready to take a picture of the dive. The lead diver said he would do (I think) a backward reverse tuck (?) while the other two were just divin’ in. On the count of three they dived in (and a pretty dive it was by the lead diver) while being recorded for posterity on the cell phone. Soon they were back up on the pier (via a ladder that hangs in that spot). Last I saw of them, one was staring in the back door of Ruby's trying to get the attention of a waitress. The pier, by the way, was jammed. Not too much out at the end but lots of yellowfin and spotfin croakers being caught inshore.

(4) The next morning I am out on the San Clemente Pier and managed to catch a couple of nice yellowfins and spotfins myself (the fillets of which are now sitting in my refrigerator). A group of old timers (said as though I’m young) are meeting for a little fishing out on the pier. They don't know what they're doing but don't really want any help. One asks what bait they have and one guy says he stopped at Trader Joes and got some mussels, clams, calamari and scallops. He proceeds to put a whole scallop on a hook and I'm thinking what a waste of a good scallop. Soon after he pulls in about a 3-4 pound spotfin croaker. The other guys ask what the fish is and the guy says I think it's a tom cod. I inform him he's caught a decent sized spotfin croaker but he's unimpressed and less than friendly. So be it.

(5) Managed to meet up with Snookie at Balboa while Hashem made the journey down from LA. Fishing was slow (the bait and fish having deserted the inshore area about 3-4 days previous). Nevertheless, Snookie pulls in one halibut before she had to go, and Hasheem pulls in his small walleye bait that is missing half of its body (the halibut chomped it in two).

We head out to the end where some mackerel and bonito are rumored to be present but find ourselves with only a few mackerel for the first hour or so. Finally the bonito show up but they're at the very end. I notice a Ben Acker doppelganger pulling in a Sabiki with several bonito attached. Unlike Ben, he proceeds to toss them in a bucket and cast out again. I go over and say “you do know there's a five fish limit on those, right?” Another angler standing nearby says the limit is ten but I say “yes, but only five under 24 inches.” And the guy says, “oh, that's right, only five small ones.” The Acker-look-a-like says “well, there's two of us fishing” to which I replied “I guess that means you can each catch five.” He says “are you a warden?” To which I said “no, but I have several friends who are wardens.” I then proceeded back to my pole and reached for my cell phone but left it at that (although I considered calling Cal Tip). I then asked a couple of non-Anglo anglers fishing next to me the same question regarding the limits but received a blank stare as though not knowing English (but they knew English). I kept my eyes on them but they were using splashers and weren't catching enough to go over the limit. About that time the two anglers I had first spoken to left and as they walked by said “see, only ten fish.”

It would truly be nice if the wardens were checking on the bonito but I’m convinced they don’t want to visit the big piers and confront the masses breaking the law. I on the other hand do not want to have to constantly play policeman since some of these people are going to get ticked off a little too easily. Hashem and I moved to the end where we managed a dozen or so bonito (all released). The highlight was getting them in fast enough before the sea lion that was present could grab them (and he/she was doing her best but sometimes couldn't make up its mind when several people were hooked up at once.
We finally began to get hungry and when the mackerel heated up (and the bonito cooled off) we heading over to the Crab Cooker for a late dinner. We then called it a night although we had considered driving down to the Huntington Beach Pier.

(6) The next morning Hashem and I met up in San Pedro where I was scheduled to interview Bill from Paul's Bait and Tackle (I’m doing an article on what it's like to own/run a bait and tackle shop). Hashem and I soon headed out to the Cabrillo Pier to do a little fishing before Bill arrived for the interview.

Interestingly, we ran into Jennifer Renzillo, the diver from the Sea Doc Society who is doing their line recycle project. She and two other divers were cleaning the pilings of line/hooks/lures before installing line recycle bins. We had talked several times on the phone, and I had even invited her to an UPSAC meeting which she missed due to illness, but we had never actually met. Now unexpectedly we run into each other out on the pier. It's a small world!

As for the fishing, there were quite a few black perch, white perch, and giant kelpfish that weren’t so giant. Hashem also managed a diamond turbot but we didn’t see any halibut. Bill's son managed a sand bass. We did make sure to cast away from the pilings while the divers were doing their thing. It just wouldn't have looked too good for an UPSAC official to hook one of Jennifer's companions. As for myself, it was quite a bit of fishing considering I started at 8PM on Sunday night and stopped at noon Wednesday but with my new sleep machine I wasn't even tired (although the body is sore as well as sunburned). The worst part was the drive home yesterday. The air conditioner in my truck quit working and even with the widows wide open the Valley heat was pretty intense.

BTW, forgot to mention the baits and the fish they caught —

Mackerel—Pacific mackerel, gray smoothhound shark, diamond stingray, salema

Lug worms—spotted bay bass, jack mackerel, queenfish, topsmelt, walleye surfperch, Pacific sardine, white croaker, kelp bass, sargo, black croaker, Pacific bonito (I know, what the ...), Pacific mackerel, kelp bass, staghorn sculpin, white seaperch, black perch, giiant kelpfish, shinerperch

Ghost shrimp—yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, bat ray

Fresh mussels—salema, sand bass, yellowfin croaker, topsmelt

Artificials—Pacific bonito

Riggings were (1) high/low w/size 6 hooks for the worms and fresh mussels; (2) high/low w/size 4 Kahle hooks for the ghost shrimp; (3) high/low with size 4 or 2 for the mackerel.

Also— Best action was Imperial Beach, worst was OB. Favorite was probably the Oceanside Harbor pier due to the variety—kelp bass, sargo, black croaker, bonito and smelt. Black croaker are rarely a common catch from piers unless you fish inner bay piers a lot. And two bonito hitting a high/low baited with worms was a surprise. I was calmly pulling in the line to check the bait when all of a sudden I see a flash and an immediate hit on the line. It was the same feeling as using an artificial. I would also have liked to have had some more time to fish San Clemente and Cabrillo; San Clemente was yielding up a lot of croakers if you had the right bait—ghost shrimp—while Cabrillo was yielding up a nice mix of perch.

Also #2 —Forgot to mention the snaggers at the foot of Newport Pier. I didn't fish the pier but stopped to take some pictures and lo and behold there were about a dozen snaggers lined up in the shallow water section. I've never seen so many at one time. All had big poles with the mandatory large treble hooks and red markers. I took several up close pictures of their rigs and several pictures of the snaggers without being too threatening. Nevertheless I was getting quite a few heavy stares. They didn't know what I was up to and I left it at that. They had one big fish hanging in a bag in the water. It may have been a very large corbina but looked more like a large spotfin.

BTW, whenever I can, I fish next to the fish cleaning sinks. I do it for two reasons. (1) Quite often perch like to hang under the fish cleaning sinks to partake of the fleshy remains dropped down from the human gods. (2) I frequently wash my hands. I don't mind the malodorous vestiges of fresh mussels, anchovies and various other goodies but also don't mind getting rid of those things—when I have the chance. The belly rubbing against the rails that leaves the shirt stained with blood and gut residue is another matter. I try to be careful but when the fish are biting you sometimes get careless. Given all that, my wife has learned to live with a certain amount of fishy smells.

BTW2, the second worst thing of the trip was the traffic in LA and San Diego. It took me 1 1/2 hours to go from San Pedro to Magic Mountain at noontime on a weekday. Luckily I had driven from Irvine to San Pedro at 6AM but even then the traffic was heavy. I left San Diego at about 3:30 on Monday and hit stop and go traffic from the north end of La Jolla almost all the way to Carlsbad. It AIN"T like it used to be. Of course the traffic in the morning over the Altamount, I5 or I80 into Sacramento, I80 into The City, or 101 into The City isn't exactly pleasant either. This state just has too many people and cars.

Trip to the Southland — 2007 (2024)
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