Zen Fly Fishing: Summer 2003 Surf Gallery

The reports are in reverse chronological order with the last report on top. Click on the pictures to view a larger version.

On September 15, 2003, I didn't have to report for jury duty so I'm using live grass shrimp to find fish again. I was on the water by 6:30 am. Early high tide was 3.9-ft at 2:15 am. Low tide was 2.3-ft at 7:53 am with a high of 4.9-ft at 1:53 pm that worked down to 1.1-ft by 8:49 pm. I was on the water by 6:30 am. The marine layer is back again - it was foggy until around noon. Most of the beach had a trough along the shore and sand bar over 150-feet out. The surf was mostly mild. Earlier, it wasn't a hot bite but I had steady action all day. After establishing that perch were in reach, I would fly fish with new shrimp patterns. I'm not happy with my flies yet. I got almost all the fish on the shore side of the sand bar. I ended with 75 perch all on live shrimp with several larger ones from 8 to 11-inches (the largest is shown). One was a nice walleye. In the last hour as the afternoon ebb tide started moving, I almost got a perch for every shrimp. I had fun and learned a lot! Again, I don't expect to surf fish for a while (jury duty and family visits) but stay tuned for general updates and occasional trips to the beach.
On September 11, 2003 the perch bite had been so inconsistent that I wanted to find fish using live grass shrimp then switch to flies. Low tide was 0.3-ft at 5:42 am with a high of 5.0-ft at 12:07 pm with an afternoon low of 1.5-ft at 5:59 pm. I was not on the water until 7:00 am. Sky was clear again but we had a lot bigger surf today and a lot of foamy flats. It got worse with higher tides. Flood tide was rough, foam was everywhere and thick and it was impossible to see structure. I caught a few perch in the morning. The fishing didn't get good until the outgoing tide. The surf eased enough to show holding water if you looked over successive waves but there was still a lot of foam. The perch shown on the left was caught around noon (see the foamy water in the background) and I left feeding fish at 3:30 pm. I had been suspecting that the perch on the flats are selectively feeding on grass shrimp. It was slow while the surf was rough but afternoon the water got manageable and I ended up catching 24 perch from hand-sized to over 1-lb and 1 jack smelt. It is a really relaxing form of fishing. With grubs or flies, you have to be a casting machine over this kind of water. It is not your regular bait fishing because the bait is in active drift and you have to detect hits and set the hook. All the fish were lip hooked. Fly fishing this water is still work in progress... I don't expect to surf fish for a while (jury duty and family visits) but stay tuned for general updates and occasional trips to the beach.

On September 7, 2003, I met Wayman Lee at a more southerly beach than I have been fishing. The early low tide was -0.4-ft at 3:06 am with a high of 4.6-ft at 9:57 am with not much change to an afternoon low of 2.7-ft at 3:04 pm. We were on the water at 6:00 am. Sky was clear. I was surprised at how flat the beach with almost no structure showing. The surf was small. We worked south and picked up a few perch. Finally, found a couple of holes that had small rips that were concentrating perch. As we approached, I said, hey there's a small rip with fish. I got one on the first cast and so did Wayman and a persistent bite continued. We found two spots with persistent bites. The perch shown is one of those taken.
Wayman got a few nice perch too. The bite stopped as the sunlight hit the water and high tide approached. The surf was to gentle to produce good holding water. I ended up with 13 fish (1 jack smelt and 12 barred perch) by 9:00 am. Wayman had about the same action and more larger perch. Wayman headed home. I left to fish the rest of the day, at my recent usual beach. The surf was too calm with no good holding water showing. The winds finally came up and created short wave length wind swells. The water looked much better but it was hard to cast and very few hits. I got 2 more perch for a total of 15 fish for the day. By this time last year, I had already quit surf fishing - we've had a long season this year and learned a lot about fishing different water. I'll still fish the beach occasionally (2 or 3 times a month) to monitor how beaches evolve. Please send reports if you get out! I'll also be working on general ZFF updates so stay tuned...
I was on the water at 6:00 am on September 4, 2003 to fish the last of flood tide to 3.8-ft at 7:06 am. The ebb tide change was small again going down by 0.6-ft to 3.2-ft at 11:37 am. It was a nice early morning big-perch bite. Almost all of the fish were on the larger side. The male barred perch shown was larger than 12-inches and 1 1/2-lbs. The smallest was also decent sized. I had 17 perch by 9:00 am and hit 2 persistent schools. I met Jim T at 9:00 am. The rest of the day was slow for me. I ended with 29 perch total. The surf was schizophrenic today. Its character changed a lot from high period to low period and from small to larger. We had fog for most of the day but perch were still around after the sun came out. You had to work hard for fish - Jim T did and managed to have a good day. I was dragging after an energetic early morning.
September 1, 2003 was a training day for me - I was determined to improve my line control while fishing turbulent flats. I decreased my LC-13 to 300 grains (more sensitive to hits), changed shooting line to 25# test, 0.018-in Iron Silk (thinner, less stretch than Amnesia) and casting only to 80-ft (less line with hydraulic effects). I fished a slow ebb tide from 1st light (4.3-ft at 2:35 am down to 1.6-ft at 8:22 am) and all of the flood tide (high was 5.6-ft at 2:44 pm). The swell pattern from 1st light did not create much good holding water and the bite really didn't get started until well into flood tide at around 11:00 am with higher winds and surf. I had only 12 perch by then but finished the day with 42 total. I was nice to see Sam T. again. He had found a lot of perch by the time I worked North. The nice male shown is the largest of the day for me. I got several over 10-inches - most were smaller today. I felt like my line control improved significantly today. By 3:00 pm the wind and surf made fishing almost impossible, but I even managed to get a few perch under those conditions.
I met Perry Wong and Craig Scovill at 5:45 am on August 28, 2003. Later, we met Jim T. and Sam T. on the water. We fished the flood tide (low was -0.4-ft at 5:47 am; high was 4.9 at 12:21 am) and part of ebb in the afternoon. We had low clouds/fog most of the day and the bite was slow during flood tide with smaller swells. During ebb tide with more surf action and sun, the bite picked up. Perry had done well during his spring 2003 trip to Monterey Bay (See the Reader's Gallery)but this was his first exposure to fishing subtle structure on turbulent flats (shown here with Jim and Sam). He worked hard, stayed with it while others were finding fish and as the tide turned so did his action. He ended up with a lot of action: (really happy with his first after very slow morning, biggest landed. He lost a much larger one at his feet. I ended up the 20. I did OK early, had a big dead zone and got into a nice larger perch (nice fat is male shown) bite at the end and as a result have more confidence it line control under these conditions. Craig, Jim and Sam all had a much better day - slow during flood tide but steady action on larger perch later. Craig only fished flood tide and has been using his 14-ft Spey Rod that was an advantage during flood tide when fish were further out.
I met Richard Hector at 5:45 am on August 25, 2003. The skies were clear. We fished the flood tide (low was -0.2-ft at 4:02 am; high was 4.3 at 10:55 am). Before the sun hit the water, the bite was decent - the largest perch is shown. Perch were not concentrated so working south produced one or more perch from likely holding spots. Richard had a decent day with 21 perch on a red-eyed Surf Miki 3. At one of the last cuts, I was retrieving across the trough and felt the biggest most violent take ever. I glanced up and saw a dark shadow roll just past the second breaker then heard the sound of line through the guides. It had so much force and momentum that I was sure it was a seal. It put itself on the reel. I tightened my drag and it took me well into backing. I tried to see it in case it was a seal but it did not show. The runs shortened as it got to deeper water. At first, it didn't turn for long but after 10 minutes it tired and I turned it. I didn't think I could turn a seal so now it was likely that I had a huge fish on.
After 15 minutes the battle was over, I saw this large striped bass (it looked like a 3-footer) on the surface within the second breaker. As I continued to pump it in, the hook released. It stayed on the surface for 30-seconds then poof... ...it was the grandest fight I have ever experienced on fly rod. The picture shows my exhilaration after the release (I was happy to have seen it)! It took a size-6 shrimp pattern - the hook a Tiemco 3761 had opened up 20-degrees. I was not the same afterward - wow! I did continue fishing - the bite slowed almost to nothing after the sun hit the water. I also scouted another beach and found a few more perch - a total of 17 for the day. I was a slow day but it didn't matter... ...the sound of line and singing reel were still reverberating...
Dances with seaweed was the game for most of the day on August 21, 2003. I am shown here charged to be finally into bigger perch after a slow morning. It turned out to be a scouting day and I ended up fishing 3 beaches. Earlier, I was at my recent favorite beach at 5:30 am and got 2 perch after the 1st hour. Surf was mild and the bite was so slow on the incoming. There was only a 0.1 ft tide change from 8:12 am (3.4-ft) to 12:22 pm (3.3-ft) so I left for the next beach south since it has more structure. I caught up with Craig Scovill there. Structure was much better there but it started slow but we finally found a persistent bite of larger perch at a big hole that we've fished before after the surf and wind finally came up.
Here's Craig's nice perch taken at the big hole. Earlier, he had caught a larger 15-inch barred perch and a 16-inch jack smelt and overall he had a nice day. It was a spey-rod-advantage day with long casts required. We stayed there until about 12:30 pm. I would have fished the afternoon flood tide but I had lunch at the car then more scouting instead. I had been hearing of great fishing (further North than I usually fish) in unfishy water (hardly any waves, no discernable structure but a lot of perch). I picked up one small perch on my first pass on that beach. On the way back, I ran into Ron Martin with fish on. Ron caught a dozen or so (some nice perch) in our pass north. There were a lot of perch out there - I couldn't believe it! I caught a few more here. Lots of seaweed all day! Anyway, I ended with 17 perch with 7 nicer perch. It was a decent day! It was quiet but I accomplished a lot and had fun.
I caught my biggest Striped Bass of the year (16-inch and 2-lbs) at 2:55 pm. I didn't put it on the reel and I had fun with give and take while stripping it in - nice fight! On August 18, 2003 the tide changes were small with the early high of 3.6-ft at 3:28 am, low of 2.1-ft at 9:20 am, and the afternoon high of 4.9-ft at 3:36 pm. The early bite was decent at the first beach and I got 12 perch with steady action from 5:30 am to 8:00 am. I drove south to fish a beach with a hot big perch bite reported the day before. The small tide changes didn't create good holding water and fishing started very slow but I was picking up an occasional small perch and got better with slight winds and increased surf. I ended with 41 fish total (the striper, 40 barred perch). Only a few perch were 7 to 9-inches.
This is one of my last barred perch after a long challenging day! It is a beautiful 13-inch, 2 lbs female. It fought like a much bigger fish. On August 14, 2003, I met Craig Scovill at the site of my last report based on hearing of a great bite the day before. The tides were later so we started fishing the last of flood, throughout low (-0.2-ft at 6:51 am) and all of flood tide (high was 4.8-ft at 1:29 am). The surf was too small - the water didn't look fishy. My first perch came from the second hole raising hopes for good day but the rest of the morning was really slow with mainly smaller occassional perch. I ended with 8 and Craig with 16 by the 11:00 am. Craig's hot fly was a greenish motor-oil type worm pattern of his - his advantage might have been the fly or more distance using his 14-ft spey rod.
My mission today was to test a different low-stretch shooting line (Airflo, Miracle Braid). At home, I tested it for stretch against Amnesia and it is almost an order of magnitude stiffer than Amnesia. (Amnesia stretches 6.5x further with the same force applied.) I need to find a persistent bite somewhere so I went scouting. I fished the Rio Del Mar for an hour (a lot of bathers water looked OK with small rips showing but no hits at all). I drove back South and I finally found a persistent school and got 13 in about 1 hour - mostly hand sized but a few that were 3/4-lb and the 13-inch, 2-lb female show above. The Miracle Braid hits are obvious - even the small perch hit really hard. The perch seem stronger while landing too. I can still cast 100-ft but it is harder. I probably lose 10-ft with Miracle Braid. Prior to fishing here, I added another dropper with a grub hook and was using the green paddletail grub shown on the middle dropper. Anyway, I caught 1 on SM3, 2 on light brown/peacock worm pattern and 10 on the grubs. It seems like this shows selective feeding. I ended with 21 barred perch for the day.
It is great that bigger perch are still around! On August 11, 2003, I got into nice school of active bigger perch in the hour before sun hit the water in a very shallow nearshore hole. The huge male barred perch (largest ever for me) 12-inch 2-lb shown is the last of the early morning bite. I caught a lot of mid-sized perch today. Many of the mid-sized perch are carrying juveniles and are not quite to term so they will be around a couple weeks. Earlier, I walked down to the moonlit beach under starry skies. I spent the first hour targeting stripers with no action. Later, I was pleasantly surprised by the hot bite of larger perch since last Thursday was so slow. With sunlight, the perch bite in the shallow hole stopped so I drove north to meet Jim T in his favorite stretch.
As I walked down, he had a nice fish on. It was not long before I had a nice perch on too but the rest of the day was definitely slower for me. I switched to his flies - that didn't help. We switched rods for a while and on my first cast I caught my second largest perch of the day and continued to pick up perch. It was interesting that Jim T continued to catch fish on my gear (although less than with his gear). It was a great lesson! The swells increased with higher tides. We were fishing long casts over turbulent flats with heavy hydraulics and line control was challenging! Under these conditions, I was not feeling any hits with hit-every-cast conditions! We fished the flood tide with low of -1.0-ft at 4:55 am and high of 4.7-ft at 11:46 am took a long break and fish an couple hours of ebb tide (only a 2-ft change to 2.7-ft at 4:44 pm). I ended with 32 and Jim caught twice as many and had 3 or 4 times the number of hits. Anyway, I had a great day of decent action (on a bright sunny warm day) and great discovery! Of course, I'll be focusing more on bite detection (lower stretch shooting line and yet another level of subtlety in line control and bite detection). I'll be out again Thursday so stay tuned...
Where are the swells? On August 7, 2003, we had the slowest day in a long time! I guess we need days like this to let us appreciate the great season this has been. The only turbulence was in the few inches of water at shoreline. The tides were almost null tides all day (1:27 am/0.0-ft (low), 8:22 am/3.7-ft (high), and 12:48 pm/2.9-ft (low). The tides only changed 1.2-ft from 8:22 am to past noon. I walked onto the beach under starry skies and we had bright sun all day. I was happy to finally hook up with Jim T - our free days haven't come together in a long time. I ended with only 3 fish (1 jack smelt and 2 small barred perch) - all taken early in the morning. Jim T. ended with 14 fish (1 jack smelt and 13 barred perch). Half of Jim's fish were early. We had a long dead zone - took a long lunch break and started fishing again after the winds started and created wind swells. The wind and swells did bring some perch in, Jim managed to consistently pull out perch from likely holding places. The wind got so bad that casting was hard - even using leadcore (Wind usually is not a detterent). We were fishing a beach he had been fishing exclusively for the last 15 trips. We ran into Mark Smith fishing a small rip - he had a slow day as well. It is interesting that bait fisherman with Zen focus was doing well on larger barred perch. He did get a limit of larger perch using live grass shrimp. Sure he waas there most of the day and fishing further out but this makes me wonder again whether the fish were there - just not concentrated and keying on different forage.
On August 4, 2003, I was on the water by 5:45 am and it was difficult to discern structure as it was dark with low fog and the swells were long period with a lot of foam. After it got light enough to see structure, I started picking up some larger male barred perch (first, second). The largest male, a huge one is shown on the left. The morning bite was decent! I got 11 - almost all larger barred perch. The bite stopped after a couple hours so I moved north to the next beach since there were reports of a lot of perch the day before BUT it was really dead I didn't get a single hit. Around noon, I went way north looking for action. It started slow again but I finally found a school of perch. They were small perch but after four hours of NO signs of life - it was a joy to catch fish again. They were mostly on the inside edge of a small shallow nearshore trough so grabs were nice and they were scrappy. I got 11 there too so that is a total of 22 for the day. It was a strange day! I didn't like the swells at all - long period mostly. I think they filled in a lot of the holes. The Southerly beach still had some structure. The next beach north's structure looked better but I couldn't believe it was so dead. The morning high tide was 3.9-feet at 3:39 am. The low tide was 1.4-feet at 9:39 am with an afternoon high of 5.5-feet at 4:17 pm so I was fishing low water most of the day. I'll probably get out again on Thursday so tune in again. In general, fishing can still be excellent but it can also be very slow with big changes day to day.
On July 31, 2003, I fished with Craig Scovill. We ran into Chris Rich (his 3rd trip out) at the cars. We were on the water by 5:45 am. The tides were - 0.6-ft low at 6:54 am and 4.7-ft high at 1:45 pm. It was quite foggy all morning (Craig and Chris in the fog). The day started nicely with a couple of nice 1st light barred perch. The early bite was exclusively larger fish including 2 large jack smelt. The Jack Smelt fight was at the surface - they didn't want to be landed. The afternoon bite was mainly smaller perch except for my largest barred perch shown (13-inches). It was caught at 10:55 am. I got a total of 22 fish. The only school I got into was a small perch school. I didn't like the surf today. The big cut was not flowing well - too much surging. Some fish came out of cut edges but most of the fish were in the slightly deeper turbulent flats (sand crab beds). Craig was doing better than me before he left. His spey rod broke today so he headed back early. His big thrill for the day was to hook something really big. It was on for 5-seconds then poof - a partially straightened hook. He didn't see it so it is a mystery...
On July 24, 2003, I met Richard Hector, Lee Rice and Craig Scovill and we were on the water by 5:30 am. The tides were 0.5-ft low at 2:34 am and 1.9-ft low and 3.5-ft high at 9:31 pm. We started at one beach that turned to be very flat - holes were there but we only picked up a few fish and found no good holding water with concentrations. We got to a beach further south that had much better water. All of us caught perch. Craig caught the largest. Richard got the most (28 with a few from 1 to 1 1/3 lbs). Lee had good action. I think we all had a lot of drops today for some reason. Click to see more pictures: Richard with perch in hand while Lee has fish on, Craig heaving a mean stick (spey rod). I fished near Willie Fujita (of Fujita Baits) today. He snagged a shrimp (shown) and brought it over to show me (Click to see other shrimp pictures: in hand, top-view. The perch seemed to be there - he was feeling short hits on his grub. I got a total of 15 today to 8-inches - all small. Most of the day I fished with a size-4 on point. I was looking for bigger perch since I did so well last time. During the real quiet period, I switched to size-6 and started to pick up perch immediately. I also picked up fish after switching to a grubfly. It seems likely that perch were keying different food like shrimp today. I won't fish on Monday and might not on Thursday, so let me know what I'm missing...
On July 21, 2003, I was on the water by 4:30 am to target stripers under thick low fog. I could see my rod and the waves. I couldn't see my line. You have to depend on tactile and auditory cues to cast. I kept to 50-ft casts. I made one pass south to the nice cut in my last report. I had two bumps - I don't think they were hits. I was using a 1/0 Clouser. Next time, I will use a size-4 Surf Miki 3 - it might bring more action. The tides were 3.2-ft high at 5:14 am and 1.9-ft low at 10:59 am with a later 5.0-ft high at 5:38 pm. Jay M and Ken H came strolling down beach and after a brief chat left to get more fish. I switched to perch flies and got only small perch at the nice cut and got into a short bite of nice perch (1 to 1 1/3-lbs) at a smaller hole just south. In the AM, I ended up with 13 with a few 1 to 1 1/3 pounds. I was thrilled to finally catch a nice Redtail Surfperch (shown to the left with a close-up below). It looks more like a hybrid between a Redtail and a Calico Surfperch.
I had a short mid-day bite at the nice cut after switching to my grubfly. It got sunny and calm for an hour with a long quiet span. I also saw Andy Benkert (SF Fly Shop) on the beach with a client (Chris Rich). Chris was happy to get into perch on his first outing. The wind and wind swells started and blew the fog in again as well as the By The Wind Sailors (jelly fish). I decided to stick around the nice hole and wait for more water. The cut is very deep and still looked OK but it was so calm and the water movement was lacking. With the wind, wind swells and higher tide, the bite started again around 2:00 pm. I had a continuous bite on the big perch 1 to 1 1/2 pounds from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. To give you an idea of the quality of the bite, I took pictures of the larger perch: 1:57 pm, 2:37 pm, 2:47 pm, 3:02 pm (a huge male), 3:27 pm . They all took a size-4 Surf Miki 3. I upsized for more visibility and to be selective to larger perch. Tired (having been on the water for 11 hours), I left fish that were still eating... Overall, I got 33 surfperch (4 walleyes, 1 redtail) more then half were larger perch. Leadcore was essential today with the winds, heavy hydraulics and the sharp drop off into the cut that held the school of big perch. I could still mange 70-ft casts with head winds. It was hard to get a good drift through holding water but every time I did a solid grab greeted me... ...what a thrill!
On July 17, 2003, I met ZFF readers, Harley and Gary C. at the same beach of my recent trips. They have studied ZFF and Harley started catching fish on his second trip. Gary has been into fish since his first trip. This was their fifth trip. I was impressed with their progress and their enthusiasm. They loved surfperching so much that they drive 2-hours from the Central Valley. My last trip had been fantastic. We were on the water by 5:30 am. I didn't like the tides with a -0.5-ft low at 8:00 am and 4.7-ft high at 2:59 pm and we had NO fog today so the sun was on the water with shallow structures during the prime fishing time. It was really dead with almost no signs of life (brief visit from a sea lion, one brief dolphin sighting and occasional fish). We worked south over the area that has constant action 2 days ago. Today, I got 7 surfperch with a few bigger ones. Harley got a few hits but couldn't convert any of them. Gary caught a few perch. The tide turned and incoming started and by 10:30 am there was still no action. None of the holes or flats looked very fishy at all. Anyway, they had most-recently fished another beach so we humbly decided to move there for the rest of the day.
We were on the water at a beach further south by 11:00 am. It was late with bright sun and summer traffic on the beaches. Surprise! I caught the huge jack smelt (shown) at the first cut. I was on a sand bar casting seaward. We worked south on the beach as far as we could walk; fishing holding water on cuts and flats. We joked that the perch were laughing at us. Every once in a while we would have a short flurry of grabs then poof... I picked up a few. Gary picked up a few. Harley finally converted a grab and caught a small perch. Finally, nice sized striper ate one of my flies and I had it on until the last breaker. I saw it roll then poof... The last cut we found was a classic cut - awesome! Water was moving wonderfully - the best cut I have every seen. At times, the surf was testy. I picked up 5 right away (walleyes and barred) and let Harley and Gary move in. I worked south and continued to catch perch on the inside edge of the same cut. I dropped a few large fish today. As you can see from the pictures, the surf was large and turbulent today. Gary wasn't doing well until he changed from type-6 shooting head to T14 (the highest density - titanium line and size-8 flies). They both had great action. Harley landed a nice 1 1/3-lb barred and Gary did well on numbers. Harley and Gary ended up having their best day ever because of the last hole. They were hooked already but now it is set deeply. See the Harley and Gary C's entry in the Reader's Gallery. Experience my happiness at the last hole and our happiness at the end of the day (Harley and Glenn) Gary's happiness at the last hole. Overall, I got only 17 surfperch but I had one of the great days ever: great challenge in finding fish - the whole day starting slow, perch laughing, feeding us with a little hope, more as the day went on then ending at the most awesome cut that I've ever seen and finally catching fish with a couple of great guys! I'm planning to get out again on Monday so stay tuned.
On July 15, 2003, I was on the water by 6:00 am with low tide of -1.3-ft at 6:39 am and high tide of 4.6-ft at 1:38 am and I fished all of flood tide today. The water at the first hole looked like a large puddle but I was into perch immediately and had a steady bite for the next hour. Today small perch were almost everywhere even unlikely looking places - the shallow flats in between holes. Every slightly deeper area I cast into had at least a few perch. I caught a juvenile striper on my first cast into the edge of a larger hole. My largest barred perch today was the spawning female shown on the left (1 3/4-lbs, 12 1/2-inches) that came out of the edge of another hole. The longest continuous bite was on a nice foamy flat (see close-up) (mostly smaller, 5 to 6 inch, but strong grabs and scrappy). The largest from the flats was a 1 1/3-lb, 11-inch female. I was fishing in close (30-feet) and with full-length casts (100-feet+) today. I was at the same hole that Craig S was fishing on July 10. The water was not as consistent but a weak rip was still there. Every good cast I got out to the rip tail-out area was met by a nice grab. Waves produced moderate hydraulics today and my leadcore head helped keep flies at depth. Overall, I got 97 fish: mostly barred perch, 1 walleye, 1 shiner perch and 1 striper. I'm planning to get out again on Thursday.
On July 10, 2003, I was on the water by 6:00 am with low tide of -0.5-ft at 2:40 am and high tide of 3.7-ft at 9:26 am. The water at the first hole looked good. I got my 1st barred perch on my 1st cast and that started a steady bite of larger perch for the next 1 1/2 hours. The largest is shown on the left (1 3/4-lbs, 13-inches. It was a skinny post-spawn female. Under low light conditions, the perch where within the first and second breakers and the grabs and runs were very active. While I had the largest in hand, Craig Scovill (a ZFF reader) walked up and introduced himself. I had been exchanging email since April 2003 with him. He fished the same hole briefly and moved south. He was using a 13-ft 8-wt spey rod with 30-ft of LC-13 and Amnesia and a huge stripping basket - it was a really unique sight in on Monterey Bay beaches. See Craig's entry in the Reader's Gallery.
The bite slowed and I worked south picking up a few perch and I finally caught up with Craig at a nice hole. He was working a tail-out area of a narrow rip that was further than I could reach with 100-ft cast. The tail-out area was one of the few areas that held good concentration of nice perch and the advantages of his gear became clear. He was landing larger perch often on every cast. Craig's largest today was 2-lbs, 13-inches. I was fishing the side and inside edges of the hole and getting a fraction of the action he was getting. We did have one grand moment of getting a double, double. He had a small striper and a barred perch and I have two barred perch. I left to work further south and continued to pick up occasional small perch and worked north again to find Craig at the same hole still getting decent action (to far out for me). It was the same all the way north so I decided to checkout another area that Jim T fished yesterday with great results (194 Perch: three at 12-inches and about 50 at 10-inches - WOW!!!). I found decent action on large and small perch - the largest is shown (a fat 2-lbs, 13-inches and almost ready to spawn). Overall, I got 53 barred perch. I was dragging today on 2-hours of sleep but had a great day! Oh! I saw this huge sandcrab-like creature on the beach (top view, profile - note the claws, belly showing bright roe sack).
On July 7, 2003, I was on the water by 5:30 am with Richard Hector (who I got to know through ZFF correspondence). I was impressed by his commitment to learn this game and wanted to watch him in action on beaches that I know well. I suggested he set up to use leadcore. He did and practiced so much before the trip that his arm was sore. Anyway, the result was the best day ever and he ended up with 63 fish (mostly barred perch with one juvenile striper - his first striper in the surf). He posted an article about the experience on Blanton's Board. I had to fish hard to keep up with him. Finally by the end of his fishing day, we were even. It was a great but long day of casting. The last hole we fished looked really good and I picked up a nice perch before he left. This hole produced the best bite of larger perch all day. I was tired but as soon as I started getting good grabs - my adrenaline kicked it and I was good for another 1 1/2 hours. It was more or less a constant bite of good perch for an hour in very nice water. It took long casts though. I ended up with 76 for the day. See the reader gallery for pictures of Richard. We had mostly smaller fish today to 1 lb. The one pictured is around 3/4-lb and 10-inches. It was not the largest. High tide was 3.6-ft at 5:00 am. Low tide was 1.1 ft at 11:05 am. Sandbars isolated most of nearshore holding water by from deeper water but the smaller fish were there in great numbers. See Richard with fish on at a nice hole (Jim T in the background). Also, see Jim T working the south edge of a nice hole. By the way, Jim T had a great day again with 93 perch to 13-inches (1 1/2 dozen were 10-inches or larger). Jim uses LC-13 exclusively in the surf. We should start to see larger fish near shore with deeper moving water over the sandbars.
On June 30, 2003, I was on the water by 6:00 am and my first two casts produced 2 nice 8-inch barred perch. I ended up with several from the 1st hole. Low tide was -0.9 ft at 6:05 am and high tide was 4.0-ft at 1:18 pm. The low tide structure was interesting - a variety of shapes and sizes (one, another). My largest today was 1 3/4-lb, 13-inches caught at 9:00 am in a foot of water. It was sharing the nearshore area of a small hole with small perch. I caught several barred perch that were around 10-inches. This is one of them - nice male. The surf was schizophrenic today. It had many looks and effects. Hydraulics were strong for most of the day and line control was difficult. There were times that the successive waves were within a few seconds of each other. There were many areas (that held perch) that north and south waves were colliding. Then towards high tide, it was long period waves and foamy water. It seemed like the perch were abundant but it was usually hard to get a good retrieve and I had to work at getting a good drift. I fished hard and got a total of 38 barred perch today (1/2 were small). I'm still hoping that the large spawners start showing more consistently. Last trip my shooting line (20-lb test chartreuse amnesia) lost its smoothness in casting. I typically leave my fly rod (rigged and ready) in my car truck and I believe that it got cooked and set during the recent heat wave. I stretched 100-feet of it during the heat of the day - let it cool straight before reeling it in and today it was as good as new. I'll see if it is a permanent fix. I probably won't get out again until next Monday so send reports so I can past them on.
On June 26, 2003, I caught my largest barred perch (2 lbs, 13-inches) at around 9:00 am after a slow morning catching small perch. You can see how excited I was - I haven't been out for a long time. Here's another clearer picture that shows how fat it was (carrying babies and ready to give birth soon). I caught two other larger perch around 1-lb and 10-inches and a hefty jack smelt. Of the larger fish, I caught the jack smelt first - it was a top water fighter - a lot of fun! I got the big barred next then one of the 1 lbers all within 15 minutes. I picked the other 1 lber as I worked back. I walked north around 2-miles today - most of the water was to shallow and flat. The nicest water was the last hole northward. It has small rips that would form for a while that you could see as a narrow channel of dirty water going deeper. Low tide was 0.0 ft at 3:47 am and high tide was 3.5-ft at 10:33 pm. I fished the incoming tide. I caught a total of 19 fish today - all perch except for the 1 jack smelt. I'm still hoping that the large spawners start showing more consistently.

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Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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Last Revised: August 28, 2003

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