Note: Check out the striper reports and pictures from my trips from October 6 through December 8, 2003. I don't know when I'll get out to the beach again. Striper fishing has higher priority over the winter.
After checking conditions on October 23, 2003, I took the fly rod back to the car. It was on the rough side. There seemed to be a trough along most of the beach. Higher tides were better. Towards low tide the bite died. I ended up with 11 and got only 2 larger perch. I used bait. I spent most of the time in a search pattern. Good holding water was hard to find. I found a small school 2 times. Most of the fish were stragglers. At lower tides, the near shore trough gets too shallow and the depth varies too much with too much turbulence. The other guys said that it has been slow for the last few weeks. There were about 8 other fishermen. My biggest was the female barred perch shown (2-lbs, 13-inches). My other large female was (1 1/2-lbs).
The Monterey Bay beaches (south to Sunset State Beach) are mostly flat and the perch are generally dispersed now but fishing was great for me on October 2, 2003! I'm still learning how to fish with bait with a goal of developing techniques to extend the season for flies. I also want to see if there are still a lot of perch around under fall conditions. My biggest the large female barred perch shown was huge (2 1/2-lbs, 14 1/2-inches). Lately, the perch have all been smaller but today all were over 5-inches and 1/3 were larger than 8-inches. Here are the largest: 10:12 am, female in mating colors; 10:53 am, first large male; 12:42 pm, another large male; and, 3:57 pm, my last fish today - a large female. I also caught a small calico surfperch (it has such a distinctive humpback) (see close-up). Another breeding cycle has started with large males and females in mating colors showing up (occasionally).
The early high tide was 4.0-ft at 5:36 am with almost no change to a low of 3.3-ft at 10:19 am. The bigger change was to a high of 5.3-ft at 4:02 pm. I was on the water at 7:00 am and fished until 4:00 pm. The beach was flat but there were subtle shallow holes and areas with small pockets among the sand crab beds. The earlier bite was slower but steady with low tidal movement. The bite got hot after flood tide started after lunch and into the afternoon.
I ended up with 85 fish (all perch except for 1 large jack smelt). After I caught 2 on bait in the morning, I switched to flies and got 6 on flies - they were in close under lower light conditions and I was able to find a concentration within reach. Later, the concentrations were too far out for fly fishing. I could have caught more on flies but it would have taken a lot of casting for some pay-off. The big ones were really strong and pulled back violently in short bursts. Many males and females were wearing mating colors. I didn't see any milt flowing but it should start soon. These are the females that will be spawning in March.
I had the beach to myself for most of the day. There was one other fisherman in the early morning and a few others showed up mid-afternoon.
Interesting day! I had fun learning how to bait and switch! I'll be getting out to the beach at least once every 2 weeks so stay tuned... ...I hope for good striper fishing in between.