I decided to take off a week writing for my blog as I didn’t get up to much other than working. I was doing this wood chipper job with some neighbors that was rather taxing. I was working with some good folks and it paid well, although I got all beat up from the limbs and brush wacking me. It was pretty exhausting work for sure. After a full day of doing that I would be completely exhausted. I just wanted to come home, drink a beer or two, cook food and pass out. I didn’t have much energy for writing.
I had really been wanting to go do some rock-hopping on the south jetty up at Half Moon Bay for a while. After getting my bills paid and having a little extra left over, I took advantage of my free day this past Friday and headed up there. Since I’m almost halfway there living on the coast, it was an easy decision to make. I really like the town. Half Moon Bay is one of those towns like Moss Landing that still has a thriving fishing industry going on, I really like the vibe there. It’s an unpretentious little place like Moss Landing, the people are cool and there are some nice views to be had.
Back in my early days of fishing out here, I belonged to this online forum called ‘Pier Fishing in California’. It was, as the name suggests, primarily focused towards pier fishing. There was a thriving shore-fishing community there as well. Most of the pier fishing guys were old retired fellows, but the guys who liked to rock-hop, cliff and beach fish were younger guys like myself. We’d have meetups from SF Bay all the way down to Big Sur. I really enjoyed spending time with these dudes who really showed me a lot I know today in regards to shore angling.
The south jetty at HMB was a pretty popular meetup spot. The jetty is pretty unique in that you can catch deep-sea fish off the ocean-facing side. The rocks go almost a mile out to sea, and the water gets pretty deep pretty fast. There is a technique I was taught to fish there that involved casting swimbaits off the top of the jetty as far as you can. When they hit the bottom, you’re right at the point where the rocks of the jetty meet the sand bottom. All kinds of species like thresher sharks, rock cod, ling cod and halibut are caught there using this approach. I’ve seen all those species landed there since I’ve been going to that spot. It’s not a place for the easily frustrated, as since you’re casting into rocks you’re going to get some hangups and lose some gear. It’s such a lovely spot to go though, it is worth the hassle it takes to fish there.
I left the mountain around six, but by the time I drove to HMB, ate breakfast and hit up the bait shop, it was around 9 when I got to the jetty. I had brought my medium-size rod and reel shore combo to fish with this day which consisted of my 10 and 1/2 foot Shimano Talora medium-light shore casting rod with my Shimano Curado baitcasting reel. I’ve got 30 lb green Power Pro braid on the reel, and a shock leader made from 50 lb monofilament. This is my go-to setup for casting jigs from shore. Shimano makes some fine gear, I really love this combo. That coupled with some swimbaits makes for a great rig to catch whatever may be swimming out there off the rocks or beach.
The first thing I noticed when I got up on the jetty is that there was a 10-15 mile per hour wind steadily blowing up from the south. As I was going to be casting directly into the wind this was going to pose some problems. I only had 1, 1.5 and 2 oz jigheads on me, and I didn’t figure out that all of these were too light to work for me until I had hiked a half hour to the last 2/3 of the jetty. I could only cast around 20 to 25 feet when the minimum distance I needed was around 40 feet.
This left me in a pickle. Should I just wait out the wind or pack up, walk all the way back to my truck and hit up the bait shop again? I checked out a wind prediction app I have on my phone called Windy and it told me the wind was only going to build through the day. The wind usually doesn’t pick up until after noon, so to have it blow up so early screwed things up for me. I finally decided to walk all the way back, make my way once again to the bait shop and pick up some 3 oz jigheads. That was the only way I was going to be able to fish successfully that day.
Back I went to the bait shop and bought plenty of the necessary tackle I needed. I debated on if I should maybe try to fish the north jetty since I was over that way. I drove over and realized that it was probably a half mile walk to just get to the rocks, and another half mile of rock hopping after that. I noped out and drove back to where I had been earlier. Once again I made the long trek out to the end. The heavier jigheads did improve my casts to get to the minimum distance I required. However, there was so much seaweed down underneath the surface that every cast brought back a lure covered in vegetation. I got snagged around 6 times in the rocks as well, fortunately I was able to get free each time.
After a while, I finally got hung up and wound up losing my swimbait. I debated on tying up another one and to keep on trying to fish, but it was useless with all the salad in the water. I had a long walk and drive ahead of me so I decided to pack it up around 3:30. I made my way back to my truck and headed on back up the mountain.
When I got back up to Last Chance, Jacob informed me that Catdaddy had gotten in touch with him. He was rip-roaring to go out salmon fishing again, and they had made plans to do just that. I was pretty wiped out from rock-hopping all day, but I figured I’d be recovered by the next morning so I said I’d go with them. Hopefully I’d get into the fish once again! The odds were pretty good, the conditions were going to be perfect, and the salmon had been on the bite.
I got to bed early and caught some good sleep. The next day I was sore but had decent energy, enough for a day of salmon fishing at least! Jacob and I picked up Catdaddy and the Sea King as usual and had an uneventful launch at Moss Landing. The seas were dead calm and the winds were almost nonexistent as well. There was ample fog cover and a rising tide, so conditions were optimal for fishing.
Catdaddy usually has the fishing spots on his Navionics app on this phone, but a disaster happened to said phone and all the points had been erased. He had a pretty good idea where they were in relation to some of the topographic bottom features however, so we made our way to a close approximation of where the honey hole should be. We ran our downriggers really deep, around 280 feet or so. Nothing happened for a couple hours, then Jacob saw his rod doing some funny stuff. He checked it, and sure enough, it was Fish On! It didn’t put up much of a fight until it got close to the boat, then it decided to get a little crazy. Catdaddy swooped up what turned out to be a 20 lb, 35 inch salmon. It was a damn good catch. We had blood on the decks!
Interestingly, the salmon has a big bite mark on its side that had to come from a sea lion or shark. We figured that it most likely was a sea lion, but thought it would be bad-ass if this warrior salmon had escaped from the clutches of a Great White Shark!
We continued to troll all around the area where the fish hit. As the afternoon wore on, the ocean remained calm and the winds never came up. This is almost unheard of seven miles out to sea, so we just stayed out on the water. Nothing was biting, but we were having a fine time out at sea drinking barley-pops and shooting the shit. The afternoon soon turned into evening, and we watched the sun sink into the sea. I can’t remember the last time I stayed out so long on the ocean fishing. We were out there twelve hours, it was a grand day to be on the water.
Well, score another one for the Sea King! Even though the fishing was slow, the quality of the one fish we caught and the excellent sea conditions more than made up for it. We managed to add some more salmon to the stockpile, and I got to go fishing for two days in a row. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.
On a final note, today I worked doing wood chipping again up in the beautiful Bonny Doon redwoods. On the way back, I was riding with my neighbor when she spotted whale spouts out at sea around Davenport. There were at least a couple pods of Humpback whales a half mile out or so, and occasionally you’d see a fluke or the random breach. It was cool to see so many whales from shore, so we pulled over and I took some pictures. They didn’t turn out very good, but I figured I’d include one just for the hell of it. Whales are just cool to witness, I could never tire of watching them wherever I see them!