Zen Fly Fishing: Fall 2005 Gallery

The reports are in reverse chronological order with the latest report on top. Click on the pictures to view a larger version and on links to see more. I usually publish reports (in my sleep deprived state) very late on the evening of my trip. I frequently make a few changes after sleep recovery. If it is not obvious, I am almost 100% catch, snap and release with Barred Surfperch. I take self-portraits because that shows scale and I usually include a close-up that shows the targeted water in the background.

Large long period swells (up to 5x overhead) hit today (December 28, 2005). Large swells are still predicted over this week and building towards the end of the weekend so check conditions first before venturing out. I won't be getting out until after New Years now - so check back then.

I still use Surfline (premium services to get detailed location specific reports). You can use free services for general prediction to get a good idea about the swell sources: Thanks to readers for sharing links.
I finally got out on December 15, 2005 for a short trip. I was on the water by 9:30 am. I met Lars Johannesson, a ZFF reader. Besides fly fishing, he is interested in music (he is an accomplished baroque flute player), yoga and plants and he works as a computer systems administrator. I waited until the outgoing tide was underway and fished during the largest tidal change until 2:00 pm. The surf was long period and foamy for most of the day. The swells started way out and it took 90-ft casts to get to possible holding water. Wading was challenging - you had to be watchful all the time. Working north, Lars caught the first one. I came through with the second one. Lars picked up another then I did. By the way, Lars caught his biggest Barred Surfperch ever (14-inches) on December 7, 2005. There were not many fish today and fishing was tough. Lars shot some video to give you an idea of how I work water on days like this: high-resolution close-up and low resolution - view from afar (don't click these unless you have DSL or Cable ISP Service). Lars had to leave for work happier for having fished today. I kept fishing. It was slow but the fish got bigger (close-up). Finally, I felt a NICE GRAB and as it came into the first breaker I saw a dark shadow. It seemed to be too dark for a Barred Surfperch. It turned out to be a female in the darkest mating colors that I've ever seen. It was the biggest today, 13-1/2-inches , 1 1/2-lbs (shown on the left) (close-up). Poor BSP,I'm not sure what caused the injury. All of the bigger fish took the Surf Miki 3 on point and the smaller took a size-8, red bead eye Surf Miki. I caught a total of 5 Barred Surfperch today. I felt lucky to catch them on such a tough day. Lars took the videos and some of the pictures of me shown here - thanks Lars. Towards low tide, it was obvious that the beach got flat and long under the influence of the long period swells. There was some structure - this shows a trough.
November 21, 2005 was my only chance to get out this week. The outgoing tide in the afternoon looked so much better so I started fishing at 1:00 pm today and fished until 4:15 pm. The surf was long period and foamy for most of the day. The swells started way out and it took 90-ft plus casts to get to possible holding water. Wading was challenging - you had to be watchful all the time. Working north, I did fish an area where I got several short hits. I assumed that they were really small fish and moved on. It felt like a skunk day until I finally caught my first, a small Barred Surfperch (BSP) at 2:00 pm. I caught another one in the next hour. I had planned to leave at 4:00 pm. At 3:45 pm on the way back to the car, I fished the area where I got short hits and started catching fish. The biggest today was 8-inches (shown on the left). They were the thrill of the day today. They hit nicely with long casts. The best water was a little deeper that surrounding water. Anyway, I had to leave while the bite was under way. All of the fish took the Surf Miki 3 on point. I caught a total of 8 small Barred Surfperch today. I felt lucky to catch them with such bad conditions. The morning tides are better next week. I'll shoot for getting out again early in the week.
November 17, 2005 was my only chance to get out this week. So I fished even if the tides and surf were not the best - I was on the beach just before 9 am. The 5.5-ft tide at 9:00 am didn't have much movement going up to 5.73-ft at 10 am. The surf was lazy and small today with long period waves that surged. The beach was much flatter than my last trip. The sun was bright. It was peaceful. It is nice once in a while not to be distracted by fish. You have time to enjoy walking, wading and the sights, feelings and sounds of the beach. On the other hand, it is great when you finally catch a fish. I caught my first fish a small Barred Surfperch (BSP) at 9:22 am. I caught a few scattered small BSP while working north. The water started out nice and clear but I got into off-color water. It got worse further north so I worked back to clearer water. I need 90-ft plus casts today with the flat surging conditions. Around 11 am, I finally found a school!!! I got a few hits. I caught two small fish then I feel the throbs of a nice fish (11:19 am). It really woke me up after such a peaceful morning (sorry, I still look half asleep). This was the largest Barred today: 13-1/2 inch, 1 lb 13-oz female Barred Surfperch shown on the left (close-up). The school was moving around this area. Every time I found it, I would get a few fish - mostly small. I caught one more of the bigger BSPs. It was 10-inches plus (close-up). On my way back to the car (the last stop), I started casting in flats that looked like they should hold a few fish. I casting 90-ft plus and start to retrieve then whomp! It feels like I'm hung up on something heavy and floating but I feel slow powerful tail motions. It makes a powerful run and puts itself on the reel. My reel has a wimpy drag - maxing it does nothing so I have to palm it. As swells come in, it turns towards shore and I get it in easily to within the first breaker. I see color - a Leopard Shark! It saw me as well and didn't want to come any closer so it made another few runs. I ended up horsing it as a big wave came in. It was finally wiggling on the beach, a small Leopard Shark. A surfer came by to help - I took the last picture with the shark in his hands. The Surf Miki got it in the head. That was an exciting way to end the trip! I caught 13 fish mostly small barred. Almost all of the fish took the Surf Miki 3 including the big fish. A few smaller fish took a #10 red-orange and brown fly on drop. Wading was easy. There was no problem with seaweed. I had decent fly fishing even if conditions were not good! I suspect that fishing would have been better earlier in the morning and towards low tide in late afternoon.
My break from surf fishing turned into a break from fishing. It was a longer than I expected (1 MONTH!). I've been preoccupied with non-fishing interests. I haven't been able to go striper fishing because of weather and conflicts. I finally decided to fly fish the beach on November 10, 2005. I wasn't expecting much but the surf forecasts showed reasonably small surf today with a new (large) NW swell starting on Friday and continuing over the weekend (www.surfline.com). I woke up late - got to the beach and checked out the water at a couple places on the way. It looked like I could fly fish with a decent chance of catching fish. I started fishing at 8:30 am and fished until 1 pm with decent tidal movement going down to a low of 2.2-ft at 12 noon. I caught fish right away and had occasional fish all day. (This might be a good way to fish this year. I got some sleep and still caught fish.) My first fish was small. The fish slowly got a little bigger each time I caught any. Id catch one or a few in the better looking water. There were not any deep areas near shore when I started. The only areas that held fish with the slightly deeper areas. The water got better and better through the morning and about 12:00 noon all of a sudden the swell pattern produced some beautiful water. There was wide long trough in the best section. The best area was where it started at the north end. I got into a school of large mating females there. What a thrill to have fish pull back after all the smaller fish! The largest was the 13-inch, 2 lbs mating female Barred Surfperch shown on the left (close-up). I caught one that was 12-inches, 1 1/2-lbs (close-up) and several from 9 to 11-inches (close-up). I caught 21 total with about 1/2 dinks. I caught almost all of the fish Surf Miki 3 including all of the big fish. The smaller fish took a #10 Zen Shrimp and red-orange and brown fly on drop. I ran into into Ron Martin as I got there and fished with him most of the day. It was a decent day for him too. The surf started moderate-to-mild today. Wading was easy. There was no problem with seaweed. It was a great fly fishing day! The conditions seem really different this year. Ron said that red tide is still around in places. I heard that Sunset had red tide today. The water must still be warm.

Questions or Comments Contact:
Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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