Zen Fly Fishing: Summer 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.

I had a chance to fish San Pablo Bay for Stripers on September 14, 2005. It was a decent first trip for this season! Checkout my Striper Gallery report. I did get to the beach on Monday, September 19, 2005. See the report below. It seems like the season is winding down - I'm going to take a break from surf fishing for now (I might get out at least once a month to keep in touch with beach conditions). If you get out,l please let me know what I'm missing. I will work on finishing new articles (so check back anyway) and I hope to do more striper fishing.
On September 19, 2005, the tide's early low was 0.52-ft at 5:39 am with a high of 5.59-ft at 11:57 am. I stopped at La Selva bluffs to check conditions. The swells were longer than I like and the beaches looked flat. I headed further South and got into low hanging fog that created surreal conditions. The fog wafted in and out all morning. I could not see the beach so I walked down to check out the water. The beach looked the same here. The best areas I could find were the slightly deeper areas. Flats were everywhere. The small troughs and holes that were there a few weeks ago were gone. I fished there for 2 hours and had a dozen hits. I caught 2 baby Barred Surfperch (BSP) on #10 flies. I did hook a nice mid-sized fish and got it in 1/2 way - I saw it roll in the second breaker. The hits were small fish - hard to hook. I left to fish the La Selva area. The water looked the same but I only got 2 hits - hooked both - a double - but that was all. I left to drive north to checkout another beach. I found good looking water but caught only the small BSP shown on a Surf Miki 3 over the next hour (see close-up and the water). I thought there should be more fish around so I switched to grub gear. They were there but holding around 125-ft out. I caught 13 small BSP by 2:00 pm. I ended with 18 for the day (5 on flies). It was nice to have decent action after such a long dead period - even if they were small.
On September 8, 2005, the tide's low was 2.11-ft at 7:23 am and high was 5.06-ft at 1:45 pm. Since the low tide did not drop very far today, I fished the second beach of my last trip - it had better water above 2-ft. I started fishing at 6:30 am. It was a refreshing day - it was overcast, cool and mist was falling for most of the day. The surf started small (less than 2-ft) - later it varied from 2-ft to 5-ft. I didn't get a hit for a long time - the washboard and moguled areas were a little shallow with the swells today. I finally found a dink (at 7:00 am) so I slowed down and worked the area. It allowed me to believe that there were some fish around! At 7:08 am, I found a nice full-bodied, scrappy, 1/2-lb male Barred Surfperch (BSP) (close-up). For the next two hours, searching the deeper areas would produce hits and fish. Small schools or pods of barreds were roaming moving around there. Most of the fish were small. At 7:48 am, I caught my largest for the day, the 11-oz female BSP shown on the left (close-up). I was entertained by pelicans diving for bait fish all morning. This was happening over a broad area - the must of been tons of bait fish around. I got two doubles - here is the best double BSP (close-up). I caught almost all of the fish on #10 flies again - my Zen Shrimp on drop and a new red-orange and brown fly in tandem. I caught the larger of the double on my Surf Miki 3. By 10:00 am, I had a total of 18 BSP for the day - 3 were good mid-sized fish to 12-inches. The rest were from 4 to 6-inches. I did scout another beach (further north) before and after my fishing. Before there was not enough wave action. Afterwards, the beach had scalloped structure and small rips were there off and on but not persistent enough to concentrate fish. It was fun to get out and again I was happy to get a few nice mid-sized BSP. The small BSP were fun too. I'm still experimenting with ultra low-stretch shooting line and a lighter leadcore head - this really improves hit sensitivity and amplifies the fight.
On September 5, 2005, the tide's low was 0.76-ft at 5:57 am and high was 4.78-ft at 12:23 pm. The afternoon low was 1.59-ft at 6:18 pm. The tide seemed good to fish the same beach as my last trip - I wanted a low first light tide for this area. I was on the water at 6:00 am. There was low fog so the beach was not very visible from above. The surf was up and the swells were long period and foamy - the kind that produces an almost steady white noise. I was happy that is was only a little off-colored. I walked about 1/4-mile to the best area - an area with small troughs and holes. I dropped two fish - one nice one. I caught my first fish at 6:22 am - a small Barred Surfperch. My second fish at 6:35 am was a nice mid-sized female BSP. The swells got small later and was variable from almost no swells to 5-ft all day. Some of the water looked good but only a few areas held a few fish. I caught a total of 7 BSP by 8:00 am - all small except the nice mid-sized one. The tide was getting too high and there was not enough wave action (the bite sotpped) so I drove north towards the beach that I fished last time. It was only slightly off-color there too but the Labor Day crowd was there. I walked 1/2 mile to get away from people and found some decent water. The swells were short wavelength and the depth near-shore was good over washboard or moguled areas. The sun broke out - it felt good to fish without my heavy jacket. I felt a hit in one area so I worked it harder. It had a school of larger fish roaming around. I caught my largest female BSP (1-lb, 12-inches) at 11:40 am (close-up). It even took a little line. I caught two more mid-sized BSP here. This scrappy male BSP (close-up) is one of them. My Surf Miki 3 caught the first mid-sided BSP near first light. There were a few similar areas that held fish. All the other fish came in on smaller #10 flies: my Zen Shrimp on drop and a new red-orange and brown fly in tandem. The new tandem fly caught the 12-inch female BSP. By 2:00 pm, I had a total of 16 BSP for the day - 4 were bigger fish to 12-inches. The rest were from 5 to 7-inches. I didn't feel like carrying two rods today - left the grub gear in the car. Fly fishing is getting tougher already - using some #10 flies gets more action on slow days. The first 1 1/2 hours and the last 2 hours were decent today. In between, it was dead! It was great to get a few larger fish.
On September 1, 2005, the tide's early low was 0.08-ft at 4:07 am and high was 4.36-ft at 10:52 am. The afternoon low was 2.62-ft at 3:59 pm. It has been 2-weeks since my last trip and I didn't have any feeling for where to fish. So I looked at a few beaches, before deciding. The tide was about 1.3-ft when I started fishing around 6:45 am. I picked the beach that had the most low tide structure - small troughs and holes near shore. It was overcast and cool and the water was clear of algae bloom. I worked south instead of north because there were too many fishermen to the north. I caught my first fish at 7:07 am, a 12-inch, 1 1/4-lb female Barred Surfperch shown at the left (close-up). She took a Surf Miki 3. I caught two smaller BSP over the next hour on a small #10 Zen Shrimp tied in tandem. It was slow. I walked back at the car planning to drive to another beach and happened upon one of the guys who fished to the north. He said that fishing was good - they were using bait. The tide was coming in fast so I decided to go down with my grub gear. It took long casts with grub gear to find fish - I caught two 10-inch and a few other smaller ones - I fished until 10:00 am (having caught 3 fish on flies and 5 more with grubs) and decided to checkout another beach to the north. My first stop was at a beach with dark amber water so I continued north expecting to find more dirty water but surprise the water was crystal clear at the next beach. I used grubs to find fish - they seemed to be out of reach of flies. Schools of smaller fish from 5 to 8-inches were here. You would get multiple fish then they would move out. The tide was back down to 2-ft now and ministructure (small troughs, washboard and multiple humps and dips) was showing on some flats. The best area had fish close in so I switched back to flies and ended the day catching another 7 small fish on flies - they all took the small #10 Zen Shrimp tied in tandem. The fish were small but scrappy and this turned out to be a lot of fun - finally I am tracking a school with fly rod. By 3:00 pm, I had 25 BSP (10 on flies and 15 on grubs) and headed out satisfied that I did the best I could. It turned out to be a decent day. I have a better feeling for fishing conditions now and caught some fish. I thought of Jim Lazarotti a lot while fishing today - his spirit is still around.
On August 18, 2005, the tide's early low was -1.15-ft at 4:50 am and high was 4.48-ft at 11:01 am. The tide was about 0-feet when I started fishing around 6 am. I was anticipating a good day today. The good low tide structure of previous trips had filled in and only slightly deeper areas were discernable. I fished the biggest area directly down from the path and the next hole to the North. It was dark when I started so I didn't see the dirty water. The water actually looked decent and I was working hard to figure where the fish were. After the light came up, I saw the red tide. It was pretty bad - dark amber. I did see seals working along shore so there might have been fish around and they were just not eating. I didn't get one hit in 45 minutes. I don't like dirty water so drove South 6-miles. I started fly fishing again around 7:30 am for 45 minutes. The water started out just slightly off-color but by the time I quit it was light amber. The seaweed got quite bad too. Not one hit again! I went back to get my grub gear - I wanted to see where the fish were holding. My first cast with grubs caught the fish shown, a small Barred Surfperch (BSP). You can see in the picture how far out holding water is. I got 5 BSP over about 1/2 hour on grubs and had to leave at 10 am. The seaweed was really bad by then anyway. The fish were 5 to 7 inches and were holding far out. All of the deep structure had filled in and the beach was much flatter than the last time I fished there. I was really happy to find a few fish - somehow - it felt like they were much bigger.
On August 15, 2005, the tide's early low was -0.02-ft at 1:28 am, high was 3.55-ft at 8:55 am and the afternoon low was 3.43-ft at 12:48 pm. The tide was above 2-feet by 6 am. My 1st cast caught my first fish, a small male Barred Surfperch. This was a Zen joke. That is, it seemed like it was going to be a great day but it turned out to be one of the worst - the first fish was the only fish at this beach. The swells started out to be long period and foamy but varied from head high to almost nothing all day. The water was too high for the beaches that I have been fishing and the tide had almost no movement from 8 am to 2 pm. I stayed for an hour then drove from this beach (at the Southern end of my usually range) to Manresa State Beach to find that the water was moderately dirty with red tide. I drove back to the Sunset area and found cleaner water. The swells were still changeable but would cycle through conditions that were very fishable. The water looked like it should hold fish so I decided to stay. I worked North - I haven't fished this way seriously all season. I worked 1/2 mile of beach. Holding water was out of reach most of the time but the swells would cycle and holding water would move in. I found a nice area at the northern end of my walk. I caught 4 BSP over a period of 30 minutes there. The biggest is shown at the left, a male 10-inch BSP (close-up). The rest were 4 to 5-inch BSP. I caught a total of 5 BSP today. They were all on sparse #10 flies today. I had fun searching today and was happy finally find some good water and a few fish. I had a short day today and quit fishing at 10 am. Fishing can only improve from here...
On August 11, 2005, the tide's early high was 3.62-ft at 2:49 am, low was 1.85-ft at 8:38 am and the afternoon high was 4.96-ft at 3:19 pm. It was really calm. I fished the same beach again even though the tide was too high for good fishing here. There was still a chance of swell interactions producing good holding water. I started late at 6:30 am working North. I got no hits in the first trough - I worked the whole length of it and nothing. I got no hits for a long time. On days like this, I wonder if I will come upon the ultimate honey hole. The only area that is stirring up forage and all the fish around have come to eat. I finally started to get fish as I worked North through the best areas of recent trips. I got only 2 bigger fish 12-inch (close-up) and 10-inch (close-up). The rest were dinks. I found a school of dinks - it must have been a small school that was moving. It's funny that I got 3 doubles on dinks but I could never find the school again after the first hits. I ended with 18 here. I stayed until the incoming got started but nothing started eating, so I left for another beach (6-miles south) at 10:00 am. I started fishing at 11 am and stayed there until 2:30 pm. I got 4 fish at the first hole. I thought I had had the pattern figured out but the school moved away from me. One was 11-inches (close-up). I worked North and continued to get mostly dinks but I caught a few 7-inch and the nice 14 3/4-inch, 1-lb 14-oz female Barred Surfperch show on the left (close-up). I caught her in close at the inside edge of a hole. She pulled hard and line slipped through my fingers as I tried to handline her in. My rod did some heavy, deep jumping! I ended with 11 at the second beach so I caught a total of 29 for the day. I was using 2 #10 flies (similar to Perry's no-name fly) and a Surf Miki 3. My #10 tie was to get more action on a slow day. One no-name was on drop and the other was in tandem below the Miki. The 14 3/4-incher took the tandem fly. I caught a few 7-inchers on the Miki. By the time I left, there was almost no surf. There was no red tide today at either beach.
On August 8, 2005, the tide's low was 0.39-ft at 7:05 am and high was 4.55-ft at 1:48 pm. I'm back at the same beach near low tide looking for large surfperch in low tide pools. I was fishing by 5:45 am working north but the first pools I fished did not hold any fish. The pools were all shallow with prominent sandbars and the tide was still falling so I was not expecting much. I finally caught a smaller midsize Barred Surfperch (BSP) at 6:11 am (close-up). You can see the water behind the close-up shot - it was one the best looking areas. The surf was small so there weren't very many turbulent areas to concentrate fish. This pool and another smaller pool held multiple fish. I caught some huge male Barred Surfperch again: 12-inch fat full-bodied male BSP at 6:53 am (close-up), another 12-inch fat full-bodied male BSP at 7:07 am (close-up), and about a 1-lber spawning female BSP at 7:46 am (close-up). I caught the 13-inch female BSP shown at 7:57 am - the last bigger one of the day (close-up). Only the biggest fish have the power to put repeated deep bows in your rod. This one had the power - wham, wham, wham... It had a strong pull - almost pulled out of my hands this time. There were not a lot of fish in the low tide pools but enough to make the day. I ended up with 9 this morning all 8 to 13-inch except one dink. The bite stopped because the swell pattern on the incoming was bad and the fish dispersed. I left and drove South about 6-miles but the water there was bad too. I did pick up 4 dinks and returned to see if swells and tide had improved the water. I picked up a few more dinks and ended up with 18 Surfperch today: eight were 8 to 13-inches, the rest dinks and I caught one small Walleyed Surfperch today. Water conditions can change overnight. Reports from the day before had this area so full of seaweed that it was not fishable over most of it. It is good that I did not see any signs of red tide from Moss Landing to Seascape on the way home.
On August 4, 2005, the tide provided a first light minus low tide opportunity. Low was -0.35-ft at 5:10 am. High was 4.23-ft at 12:07 am with an afternoon low of 2.98-ft at 2:53 pm. I met Perry Wong at 5:30 am on the beach. He had been vacationing with his family. He fished the day before and had a good day on larger Barred Surfperch (BSP). He found the fish in nice persistent cut/rips. It was overcast and the surf was smaller than the day before. The tide was lower than the day before. The minus low tide holes did not hold fish today. I didn't find a fish until 6:11 am. I caught the 13-inch male BSP shown on the left (close-up). More fish moved into the holes as the tide came in and there were periods that a cut or rip would start moving water but it was not as persistent as the day before. Today was my day for big male BSP: one about the same size at 6:30 am (close-up), a 12-inch male BSP at 8:00 am (close-up), and a fat 12-inch male BSP at 8:36 am (close-up). There were not a lot of fish but most of the fish were quality BSP so it was a decent early bite for me. Perry had a lot of hits and fish on briefly - he was dropping a lot of them. I looked at his fly - it was barbless. I suggested that he use one with a barb. Me and my big mouth! He switched - he caught up to me and kept going - he ended up with 32 BSP. There was one moment when we were hooked up together and both landed nice BSP (mine was only an inch shorter - Perry's was closer to the camera). Here's Perry bent on nice water and here's the nice BSP that he pulled in. (Notice his stripping basket made from an IKEA child's stool.) He caught the biggest Barred Surfperch, 2 1/2-lbs and 15-inches (close-up). I was next to him at the time. He gets a huge hit - BANG! He says it is taking line out! He was sure it was a striper but after a lot of give and take we could see this a big platter form in water! Landing it - he was beaming! Oh, checkout his next catch (an experience of extremes today). My action stopped - I guess I was tired and unfocused. I thought it might be his fly - heavier and sparse but I tried it and caught a few but no big difference. I enjoyed sharing such precious moments with him - he has learned a lot. From 11 to 1:30 we worked south over a stretch that had been really good for larger BSP on foamy flats over rough bottoms. It was dead and most of the beach was flat. The formerly deep holes were hard to discern. I ended up with 15. It is wonderful that Perry is doing so well this vacation. After fishing and lunch, I flew flew fighting kites with Perry and his family. Perry had one he purchased and two that he made. They are small very maneuverable single-line kites that you can use to fight each other. It was a lot of fun! Very addictive - like surfperching.
On August 2, 2005, the tide provided a first light minus low tide opportunity. Low was -0.33-ft at 4:01 am. High was 4.12-ft at 11:02 am with an afternoon low of 3.2-ft at 3:33 pm. I was on the water at 5 am. I couldn't see much because of fog and light and I walked south to the best area in the dark. The surf was not big but it was long wavelength, foamy and surging. I didn't see any good spots and I ended up overshooting my target. I got to an area with multiple shallow holes. I was rewarded with a decent bite on nice midsize fish that were holding in the shallow low tide pools. They were near shore in 1-ft water. A short 50-ft cast was all it took. The Zen Shrimp on dropper found the big male Barred Surfperch (BSP) shown at 5:30 am (close-up). This was the third trip in a row time for a low-light 1st-fish on a Zen Shrimp. There were not a lot of fish but they were 3/4ths quality fish. After two fish, I got a nice double. My 5th grab was fierce and came 30-ft out. It swam like a surfperch but it was the strongest fight I ever experienced from a perch. I had her on for 30-seconds when a small breaker hit. She rolled then POOF - she was gone. I caught 2 more fish before it slowed. While walking to next area, I checked my fly and found the Miki's hook straightened out 45-degrees - amazing. It had to be the big fish, a set in tough tissue and bad angle of pull - nothing else pulled hard enough. Well, better to have had and lost it than never to have had it at all. After that the action slowed and I ended up with 9 fish at the first beach. The water was getting too high. The troughs were too wide to reach fish so I drove to the next beach south at 8 am. I walked over the dunes and the water was slight off-color tending towards light amber (mild red tide - algae bloom) like the last beach. It looked much better here - deeper near shore with more consistent depth so I decided to fish all the way south. I fished it hard - the water was mostly the choppy water over rough bottoms (washboard/small multiple troughs, humps and dips). I fished every area that looked good all the way south and only got one dink. I fished a big hole at the south end and got one smaller midsize BSP. I spent 3 1/2 hours there and got only 2 fish and on the way back the water the water was tending towards brown so I mostly walked. I drove 6-miles south to get far away. As I walked over the dunes there - the water was crystal-clear and the water looked wonderful. The flats are deep and seem to have good bottom structure. A lot of it was very fly fishable even though it was rougher and had large-scale structure. I caught 10 there mostly scrappy dinks with some fight and a few larger midsize. My biggest fish there was a larger midsize spawning female. Notice that most of the big females are now mating and it is the midsize females that are spawning now. The bigger fish came from long casts. The grab was a gradually increasing drag on the line where you don't know it is a bigger fish until you strip like crazy. I don't think that I'm fishing this water it quite right yet but I'm learning. Anyway, I quit at 3 pm - a long day having fished most of flood and ebb tides today. I ended with 21 perch - mostly small - 1/3 good quality BSP. Anyway, conditions can change overnight so we can have great fishing again soon...
On July 28, 2005, the tide's high was 3.37-ft at 5:22 am, low was2.03-ft at 10:37 am and the afternoon high was 5.48-ft at 5:06 pm. There was not much tidal change in the morning. The tide was a little high for the good fishing on my last trip so I started at one of the other beaches that I scouted (just South). It was overcast all day. Morning winds were mild but it got windy in the afternoon. The Zen Shrimp on dropper found my first BSP (again) (close-up) at 6:40 am. I caught a couple more then drove North to meet Jim T. The water had been clean at the 1st beach but the water here was brown - a bad case of red tide (drifting in from the North). As I walked up, I saw Jim playing a nice fish. It wasn't long until I had a few including my biggest of the day: the 13-inches, 1 1/2-lbs mating female Barred Surfperch (BSP) shown on the left (close-up). I didn't like the brown water. Jim had more faith since he had done so well here on large fish two days ago. I left for cleaner waters - he stayed. I drove South 6-miles and found crystal clear waters, nice structure and bigger surf. It had been calm at the first beach. I had always caught fish here but never done really well. It started out really slow today. It was as if a large Striped Bass school moved by and cleaned out all of the great holding water here. It was strange - like walking downtown on a Saturday and seeing no one on the streets. I finally started to pickup small BSL: mostly on the inside edges of troughs and holes, deep on the outside edge and some in foamy flats. I finally found a smaller hole that I found larger BSP and multiple fish of mixed sizes. I caught a nice mating male BSP (close-up) on the inside edge. The inside edge here has a steep/deep drop-off (3 to 5-ft). You have to be deep as you retrieve through ledge. This happens with a short line. The mating male hit - BANG! Mating males are feisty anyway - and on the inside edge - it is almost shocking! I caught a small Redtail Surfperch here too. Most of the fish today were small - a lot from 4 to 6-inches. I ended up with 28 fish today all BSP except the Redtail (5 at the 1st beach and 23 at the 2nd). I used two flies: Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point and the Zen Shrimp. At home, I heard from Jim that the big BSP were there in the dirty water anyway - he had a good numbers on mostly big fish. Anyway, I did have a fun, refreshing experience working clean waters and it was my best day ever at this beach. I still don't think I know how to fish it well. If you go fishing, keep a watch for red tide but don't be afraid to fish it if it is all that is available. Try heading further South to get away from it.
On July 25, 2005, I fished the tide and all of flood tide today. Low was -0.25-ft at 8:11 am and high was 5.2-ft at 2:55 pm. It was overcast at the same morning beach of my last report. Since it was still near low tide, the holding water in troughs was still reachable. I found some big Barred Surfperch (BSP) - my largest is shown, a mating female - 14-inches and 1 1/2-lbs (close-up). She was one of two fish that I got from the best area of my last trip. The hole had gotten shallow and big schools were not holding there today. The best areas where the deepest areas of the smaller troughs. Some of these areas had small bottom topology (drop-offs, multiple small holes or washboard bottoms). I caught most of my fish working South over the stretch that I did well at on my last trip. A Zen Shrimp on dropper found my first two BSP: 5:47 am and 5:54 am. The Zen Shrimp caught some nice fish today all day. Most of the fish including the largest were taken on a Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point. Other larger BSP were caught at: 7:05 am (shown in hand) and 7:11 am (a nice mating male). I caught 42 BSP by 11 am and spent the rest of the day scouting new water for this year and ended up with 50 BSP by 3:00 pm. A few fish 11 to 14-inches. I caught a lot of 6 to 8 inch BSP and several 9-10-inches. About 1/3 were dinks today. The new water looked good and I caught some fish there but I decided that it would fish better with lower tides for future trips.
On July 21, 2005, the tide's low was -1.68-ft at 5:12 am an high was 4.37-ft at 12:15 pm with an afternoon low of 2.87-ft at 4:51 pm. I kept saying that it was just a matter of time. I caught a 9-lb, 29-inch Striped Bass today! That is the best I could do with a self portrait. It was the last fish of the day at 2:30 pm. It took a Zen Worm on dropper. Just before I caught it , the water was looking better and better and a BSP bite had started. I hooked a nice 14-in mating female - I thought it was a small Striper. I was casting into the South end of a nice hole with a deep edge near shore. I cast again and got a nice mating male. Then once more and got a large surfperch-like grab - it didn't run like a Striper usually does so I started to handline it in - it seemed to come in easily but I saw a broad tail sticking out of the water! I immediate walked backwards while keeping a tight line and got it on the reel. Immediately, it took off! After a couple of raps my fingers, I got a feel for palming. They were not long runs but short and strong. After the last strong run, I started to work it in. I leaned into the rod, felt the load then it felt like flesh tore and the pressure was gone. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach! A swell had hit at the same time so I reeled like crazy. There was something still there! Or was it seaweed? As it turned out, it was still on. I worked it up on the sand pulling as each wave hit. It wasn't hard to do. I ran down and hand-"bogaed" it to get higher on the beach. It was a beautiful fish - see it on the beach. I saw that it had been hooked in a soft (but strong) fleshy part of its lower jaw. The hook was still tight - it had not worn a hole there. The striper had a injury that was probably cause by another one of my flies. It looks as you would expect a hook penetration would look after bringing in a large fish. Anyway, the hooks were my small, small barbed size-6 hooks. When one tore through, the other was in place work the rest of the fight. I was reminded of the other two times that I had large stripers on and the small hook problems... ...phew!!! That was some lucky day! On the tails of a great day with Barred Surfperch as well.

It was a great day for surfperching too! I fished two beaches. I caught 49 Barred Surfperch (BSP) at the first and 18 BSP and 1 Striper at the second. Most of the BSP were mid-sized and larger to 14-inches. I caught 5 of the 14-inch BSP - they were all females wearing mating colors. There were also a lot of large males wearing mating colors so they were in the surf in a mating ritual today. That makes a total of 68 fish. I have more stories and pictures - I add these as I get caught up with my computer problems.
On July 18, 2005, the tide's early minus low tide was -0.59-ft at 2:46 am, high was 3.58-ft at 10:02 am and the afternoon tide barely changes to a low of 3.21-ft at 2:02 pm. I decided to fish a different beach with wide troughs that are best fished near minus low tide. There are troughs over most of the beach with drop-off at the inside edge. The swells were mild to almost non-existent all day. I started fly fishing at 5:45 am. The areas with deepest water close to shore looked the best. My first cast there produced my first fish right at the inside edge just beyond the drop-off. It didn't take many casts to find other nice Barred Surfperch (BSP): short casts, hard hits, great play in almost still water... ...the bite continued for an hour. The best fish was at 5:57 am a nice full bodied female BSP (close-up). After the bite slowed, I walked to a hole that cut through the sand bar. As I walked up a grub fisherman hooked and landed a Striped Bass. It looked like a 6-lber. I didn't get hit for a long time. I was thinking Striper as I made a long cast. I felt a strong grab - well, it could have been a small Striper but it turned out to be a 13-inch female BSP (close-up). So far, I had 17 BSP (including a few dinks but mostly mid-sized or larger to 13-inches). The tide had come in enough to make it hard to reach fish so left for the beach of my recent trips. I was fishing there at 8:30 am. I worked South for 1.5 miles and only picked up an occasional small BSP. The only area that I got multiple bigger fish was from a deep hole. The cut there was not flowing well. I found fish on the inside edge. The two best ones were: at 10:47 am, a feisty male BSP (close-up) and 10:54 am another large male BSP (close-up). On the way back to the car (11:30 am), I saw a foamy flats area with washboard bottom and cast out to be rewarded by the strong throbs of the spawning female BSP shown at the left (close-up). I ended with 26 Barred Surfperch. I used triple flies today: Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point, a Zen Shrimp on dropper and Zen Worm on dropper. They all did well. The Zen Shrimp is working very well. It is a very durable fly - I've used the same fly (with sharpening) for 6 days now and it is still in good shape. The Surf Miki on point caught the most and the bigger fish.
On July 14, 2005, the tide's early high was 3.09-ft at 4:15 am, low was 1.68-ft at 10:10 am and the afternoon high was 4.92-ft at 5:00 pm. I started at 6:00 am as the tide started down fished all of ebb and most of flood until 4 pm. Water was too shallow all day - even with higher tides. The surf started calm but increased with wind later. The sand bars were still prominent and blocking water movement even with higher water. I had two rods again: my fly gear and my spinning gear. I targeted Stripers and also grub fished for surfperch. I saw one 15-inch Striper taken by a pencil popper caster. I'll get lucky if I persist! My first fish of the day was the Barred Surfperch is shown on the left - a beautiful, shimmering pre-spawn female, around 11-inches (close-up) taken on a Surf Miki. After fishing for 1 1/3-hours with no action, I cast out into the South edge of big hole where turbulence was moving a lot of sand, I got a SOLID GRAB and she was on and she had a heavy feel. I picked up a small BSP right away on a Zen Shrimp but that was it for a long time. Later, I switch over to grub gear to cover structure that was further out (point and outside edge of holes). I ended up catching 19 with grubs so fish were there just out of reach of flies. My biggest on grubs was a nice 11-inch male (close-up). I fly fished and pencil popped on the way back to the car and picked up 2 BSP more on Surf Miki. They came out of the inside edge of a deep hole. It was small but muscled up and feisty! I'm still using Berkley Fireline XDS (50# test, 0.021-inch diam.) as a shooting line. I think it absorbs water and gets heavier but it has almost no stretch. The fighting action you get from even small fish is great - they all seemed much bigger than they actually were. I caught a total of 23 BSP: 4 on flies and 19 with grubs. Towards the end of the day, I fly fished a lot of water that should have held fish (but didn't). Conditions may be improving - I think that fish will collect in good water if it persists. Persistence is important!
On July 12, 2005, the tide's low was 0.62-ft at 8:52 am and high was 4.49-ft at 4:49 pm. I started at 5:45 am with a 2-foot tide and fished until 1 pm. The surf started out calm (wind and surf picked up by mid-morning) and all of the holes had sandbars blocking water movement already. I had two rods: my fly gear and my spinning gear set-up with a pencil popper (for Stripers). I targeted Stripers most of the day but it turned out to be a lot of casting. I didn't see any Stripers. I heard that yesterday was good and that the swells were really different today. There were areas that had good turbulence but the swell pattern was too variable to form good holding water. The swells surged a lot, swell directions changed and the depth varied too much. Whenever I found possible holding water, I switched to fly rod. I found one persistent school of Barred Surfperch (BSP) and got 4 between 7:15 and 8:00 am before the school moved on. The biggest was a nice male bigger than 10-inches (close-up). I didn't run across another fish until 9:20 am. It was another nice male BSP - the one shown at the left (close-up). I was experimenting with ultra-low stretch line today. Berkley has a new Fireline XDS (50# test, 0.021-inch diam) that has improved coating. It could be marginal as a shooting line because it is a fused line and knots can be hard to undo. It feels good and casts well. I had two tangles that required a needle. Overall, it was OK and its sensitivity was great - you feel everything! I'll keep using it for now. I ended with 8 BSP caught with a Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point and the Zen Worm on drop.
On July 6, 2005, the tide's low was -0.79-ft at 5:44 am and high was 4.03-ft at 12:43 pm - a little later but not much different than my last trip 2-days ago. I was really happy after catching a 12-inch, 1 1/2-lb spawning female Barred Surfperch at the left. It was my first fish of the day after starting at 5:00 am (first light) and fishing for 1-hr 15-min. with NO signs of life in the water. I made a 90-ft cast into flats adjacent to a hole. Retrieved about 10-ft then I felt some resistance. It could have been seaweed. It felt mushy but I tightened up and felt the thrusts of a nice fish. This was a preview of more experience with mushy hits. I was at the same beach as my recent trips. The minus low tide created holes that were cutoff from deeper water. Fish started to come in with high tides. I did not get multiple large fish anywhere in the morning. I did find a school of muscled up, smaller mid-sized BSP in the head-end of a hole. I caught 12 BSP by 9:30 am and that was it for the morning. The better fish were: 13-inch, 2-lb spent female BSP at 7:48 am (close-up), 12-inch, 1 1/2-lb, full-bodied male at 8:48 am (close-up) and 12-inch plus, longer male at 9:23 am (close-up). The spent female had a heavy pull in spite of her chewed-up tail. The dink-double was hanging in the air as I brought her to hand. The higher tides and swell pattern created more depth variations (too shallow for easy holding). The bite stopped, I couldn't find any decent holding water. As I approached the trail to the parking area at around 11:30 am, Jim T was walking down to the next hole North. He had been scouting another beach all morning and had a great first hour around minus low tide on small and big BSP. I was tired so I left intending to quit fishing for the day. Lunch revived me or was it the thought of Jim finding a big fish bite. I checked the surf (after high tide by now) and the swells improved and some of the water looked good. I got my 2nd wind and headed South to find Jim T in a big fish bite. I fished South of him and got nothing! I fished North of him and got nothing! OK - he is in perfect position to drift into a honey hole filled with big BSP. This went on for a long time. At one point, Jim said the fish moved on to the flats to the right so that I should be in perfect position now but I got no hits. He moves to my right and is immediately onto multiple big fish. Now, this is a great opportunity to learn something! I love these times! Every time, Jim T pulled another in he would glance over and smile. I returned the smiles. It was actually amusing in a way. OK, enough mystery! Jim tells me that the hits are not very obvious. I've always assumed that big surfperch always have an obvious grab. Of course over the last few trips, I've mentioned the problems of long-lining over turbulent flats with high-stretch shooting line. You feel something. You don't know what it is until to take up the stretch. For an 80-ft cast (50-ft of shooting line), most mono type shooting lines have 15 to 30-inches of stretch with 2-lbs of pull. You have to take in a lot of line to realize it is a big fish that is on. Even the strongest grab is not transmitted to your hands and it is usually the case that the fish will discard your fly without you ever knowing it. In the course of a hour, how many large BSP had sucked my fly, rolled it around in their mouths and spit it out! Sensing takes requires another level of awareness of subtle changes in tension. A slight change magnifies into strong thrusts of big spawning surfperch using the turbulent hydraulics of the flats to get away. Anyway, I did manage to get 5 bigger fish here. I only got one yesterday so may be I'm learning something. Here are some pictures: 11-inch Male BSP at 1:27 pm (close-up), and 11-inch, Male at 1:49 pm (close-up). I ended with 20 again: a few dinks - the largest was the 13-inch, 2-lb spent female BSP with injured tail (close-up). Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point caught the 1 1/2-lb femal BSP at the left. For most of the day, I used the Zen Shrimp on point and drop. It caught most of the fish today. I caught a lot of large beautiful males today. Jim T had another epic day for numbers and big BSP. Way to go Jim! My last cast was 3:30 pm. It was a really long day and still I am learning...
On July 4, 2005, the tide's low was -0.74-ft at 4:18 am and high was 3.90-ft at 11:23 am. I was on the water with Jim T. by 5:45 am at the same beach of my recent trips and fished through the morning high until 12:30 pm. The surf was mostly small but occasionally to 5-ft. I caught my first fish right away (2 dinks) but that was it for a while. I caught most of my fish from 7:00 to 8:00 am. I ended with 20: a few dinks - the largest was the 11-inch Barred Surfperch shown at the left (close-up). The next largest was a little smaller. Jim did way better on numbers and size with good number of large Barred Surfperch to 14-inches. Thinking about this, I was fishing similar water but without the conviction and energy that Jim had. I may or may not have learned something but it was a great experience to see how good fishing can be in atypical holding water. It was a cool, misty and overcast all morning. Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point caught my bigger fish today. Zen Shrimp on drop caught most of my fish today! I almost didn't go because of the holiday but access to water was as good as most weekdays and it was great to fish with Jim again.
On June 29, 2005, the tide's high was 3.47-ft at 5:51 am and low was 1.07-ft at 11:15 am. I was on the water by 5:30 am at the same beach as the big fish bite of last Thursday. The water had changed a lot! It looked like winter swells with very little near-shore holding water. I worked South very quickly to get over to good areas of Thursday so I could fish it while the tide was still up. I didn't get one hit all the way. At 6:15 am, I was thinking that it was going to be a tough day and I cast into unlikely water and got a HEAVY GRAB! I had it almost all the way in before I got that heart-sinking feeling. My first fish - a big one - got off! I cast again and got a nice male Barred Surfperch (BSP) (close-up). This turned out to be the start of a good big fish bite. I found big fish schools 3 times and got multiple fish out of each. The first area looked like foamy flats but the bottom had small, multiple troughs that the fish were working. The second was an area of a hole where sand was being washed out. The third was on the South end of a hole that has converging currents that churned-well. My biggest fish were: 6:32 am spawning female (close-up), 6:39 am ripe spawning female BSP shown at the left (close-up), 6:44 am male BSP (close-up), 7:58 am male BSP (close-up), 8:02 am ripe spawning female BSP with injured dorsal fin (close-up), 8:07 spent female BSP with injured tail (close-up), and 8:41 am male BSP (close-up). I caught fish from 6:15 to 8:45 am. I started working back to the car at 9:15 am and quit at 10:00 am because good holding water disappeared. I ended with 14 almost all mid-sized or bigger - a few 12 to 14-inches and up to 2-lbs. The holes were shallow and a lot smaller than on my last trip. The bite was better with higher water levels after the tide started moving. Schools of smaller fish were gone - I caught only a few dinks today. It was cool and overcast. The wind increased around 10 am. Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point caught almost all the fish today. Zen Worm on dropper caught one of the big spawners.
On June 23, 2005, the tide's low was -1.94-ft at 6:14 am and high tide was 4.20-ft at 1:27 pm. I was on the water at 5:00 am just before a minus low tide. I started at the most Southerly beach of my recent trips because it was at the steepest of them and would have better holding water with a -1.94-ft. tide. The other beaches have had flat, shallow holes at low tide with bad holding conditions. I haven't fished at first light recently. I could see 4 holes as I walked down the dunes. I had my first fish right away at 5:05 am (a small walleye surfperch) from the biggest hole but that was it for a while. I found a school of walleyes in the 3rd hole. They were moving around so I'd lose them and find them again. I ended up with 10 surfperch by 7:00 am (8 walleyes, 1 small redtail. 1 small barred). I got 2 doubles on the walleyes (one is shown on the left). It was great to finally find a school. I was casting into a head wind all morning. The misty overcast was cooling and pleasant. The wind picked up - I wanted a break so I left for another beach 4-miles North.
At the next beach, the tide was still at minus levels. It was too low and I had NO action for an hour. I started wondering if I should have stayed at the first beach. I was working South through the biggest hole in the area. I cast out and nearly finished my retrieve then POW - a solid grab and then it surfaces in the second breaker out. It put up a nice fight. I thought it might be a small striper. It turns out to be my longest Barred Surfperch today, 14-inches, 1-lb 9-oz, a spent female (close-up). It was hanging out on the inside edge of the hole. I worked the area to find more but that was it. I notice two fly fishermen working the hole just South of me. One hooks something huge and he is following it up and down the beach but soon loses it. I walked over and they were fishing the nicest holding water that I have ever seen. It was like a cut but with mild surf conditions, the head-end (near-shore) contained a turbulent confluence of currents that was moving sand in all directions. He started to pick up fish but there was room for only one fisherman - right on the confluence. I moved on with no hits in the rest of the waters.
Finally (after 2 hours here and one fish), I came upon a hole that looked just like the "cut with turbulent confluence at the head" but about twice as large (see other views: head-on and close-up. My first cast into the turbulent confluence resulted in a nice mid-sized perch. With all that turbulence, the play was at times violent. I was soon into deeper bends, bigger fish and more violent play. Here are the biggest of the fish - all Barred Surfperch: 9:56 am Ripe Female (close-up), 10:10 am spent female BSP (close-up), 10:15 am BSP Double (see bend in rod at the left), and 10:18 am female BSP. After 1/2 hour, the bite stopped when the balance that produced the perfect conditions changed with higher tide and different swell patterns. On the way back to the car, I found more large fish in one of the deeper flats: 11:54 am 1-lb, 13-oz ripe female BSP (close-up) and 11:59 am male BSP (close-up). I used triple flies today: Surf Miki 3 (with red prism tape eyes) on point, a Zen Shrimp (my new shrimp pattern) on dropper and Zen Worm on dropper. They all did well. The Zen Shrimp is working very well - I'll publish a pattern soon. Overall, I caught 26 Surfperch. It was my best persistent big fish bite of the year! It was a great start to summer fishing.

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Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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