Zen Fly Fishing: Summer 2006 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.

Well, I've taken some alternative healing/living seminars that have my attention now. I get reports of red tide on some Monterey Bay beaches. The smelly water is around now so I think I will wait until the water cools. If I were going, I would just fish the flats at Sunset or explore/scout the beaches North of Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. If you do get out, let me know what I am missing. Also, if you have any ideas for this website, please send them to me. Thank you!
On August 7, 2006, I was on the water by 6:15 am at the same beach as my last trip. The surf was calm and the swells were flat and long period. High clouds kept sunshine off the water for most of the morning. The tide had good movement going from -0.83-ft at 3:45 am to 4.07-ft at 10:53 am. I caught my first small Barred Surfperch (BSP) with seaweed right away and I continued to catch small BSP to 7-inches in the better looking water (the deepest areas on the flat beach). The water has a lot of debris. Some water was not fishable but my flies just slid through the debris most of the time. It all looked too shallow and flat but there were a lot of small BSP. I did get 5 double BSP (close-up) so there were schools around. At 9:30 am (after casting into a school of small BSP), I got a violent grab and run with heavy throbs and deep rod bounces. I could not hold it. I was surprised! I thought it was a striper! I put it on the reel after a few rapped knuckles but I tightened the drag and it came in easily. It was my biggest Barred Surfperch so far this year: the 15-in and 2-lbs 3-oz female (spent) shown on the left (close-up). I had my new small #12 fly, the Zen Clown on point today with a Surf Miki 3 on drop. I caught most of the fish on the Zen Clown but the Miki did well and caught one third of the fish including the biggest (one even though it was on drop). I caught a total of 53 fish with only the one big BSP. I did catch a small Silver Surfperch (close-up). My numbers are up because I'm using a small, low-profile fly. I'm catching some smaller fish but I think I'm getting more hook-ups on other larger fish too.
On July 26, 2006, I started fishing at 8:00 am. I slept in since it was too hot to get to bed early the night before. As I drove over over summit down to Santa Cruz, I saw that the marine layer had returned. That was great - the heat wave broke! The marine layer presisted until 1:00 pm. I fished the same water that I finished at last time, anticipating bigger fish on the flats. The surf was small but water had decent action. The tide had good movement going from -0.49-ft at 6:10 am to 4.33-ft at 1:07 pm. I didn't know what to expect at low tide but I caught my first Barred Surfperch (BSP) at 8:08 am (0-ft tide). I continued to catch a few more at one of the wider low-tide troughs. Most of the troughs were very narrow and did NOT provide good holding water. It was slow. I didn't get many hits but I caught occasional small BSP as I worked North. As the tide came in, the troughs covered and the upper beaches were flat and some of the flats were starting to look good (2, & 3). I started to find persistent schools of small BSP on the flats. At 9:52 am (after nothing but small dinky fish), something hit really hard. I landed it - a spawning, 1-1/4 lb female BSP (close-up). I continue to find schools of small BSP in the better flats and continued to get occasional bigger BSP that were working the flats. The best of these were: a huge 12-inch male BSP caught at 11 am (close-up) - it was really part of a big BSP/small BSP double; a scrappy mid-sized male BSP at 11:21 am (close-up); a spent, 12-inch female BSP at 12:43 pm (close-up). My biggest today came in at 12:00 noon, the 13-1/2 inch, 1 3/4-lb spent female Barred Surfperch shown at the left (close-up). I caught a total of 47 fish - a fifth of them were nice mid-sized or larger. Today I caught most of the fish on the small tandem fly (a #12 orange-red-brown worm pattern tied eith a 1-ft leader to the bend of the Miki on point) including the largest fish. I'll have to name the fly and put up a pattern - I'll call it the Zen Clown for now (because it lifted my spirits today). The Surf Miki 3 on point caught a few including one of the large BSP. The Zen Shrimp on dropper didn't catch any today. The flats were really looking decent today. Sandcrabs were all over - under foot and visible at the water line today. It almost seems like blind-casting but it is the deepest areas of the flats that seems to hold fish - the ones that are over sandcrab beds with good water movement and that do not surge in and out with breakers. These areas maintain depth so that holding in them is easier for fish. The better areas have washboard and mogul bottoms and mini-troughs or ledges. Finally, some bigger fish! Flies are ideal in this water! I'm looking forward to more big fish on the flats...
On July 18, 2006, I started fishing at 7:30 am today (after the lazy outgoing tide started). I started at the same beach as my last trip. I caught a small Barred Surfperch (BSP) right away but over the first hour I caught only 2 small BSP with no other hits - it was really slow. It was a bright sunny day with a small surf and the morning tide was weak. The tide had a small change from 3.29-ft (5:39 am) to 1.87-ft (10:52 am) then a big change to 5.70-ft by 5:26 pm. After one hour I had only 2 small BSP and no other hits so I left to scout other beaches. I went to the furthest Northerly beach that I usually fish. It was flat around mid-tide and I could not see any good holding water. I decided to fish a beach between. It started very slowly there too but the water looked so much better. By 11:30 am, I only had around 5 fish (in 4 hours) but I was actively walking and fishing but starting to wonder if the bite was ever going to start. As the incoming tide started moving well, small surfperch moved in and the bite got better and better - I fished until 2:00 pm. The biggest today was one of the last fish I caught today, a 10-inch female Barred Surfperch shown at the left (close-up). This felt like a huge fish compared to all the other small BSP that I got used to. I caught a total of 29 fish - all small BSP (3 to 7-inches) except the 10-incher shown. I caught most of the fish on a Surf Miki 3 on point. The Zen Shrimp on dropper caught a few. I did add a tandem 3rd fly (#8 orange-red-brown worm pattern) - it caught a few too including the biggest one today. The flats were really looking good today (with washboard and mogul bottom structure) and I caught 1/3 of them on flats. I did drop a couple nice fish today. I'm starting to think that the population of larger fish has declined over the last few years.
On July 11, 2006, I started fishing at 7:00 am today (as the incoming started moving in) at the same beach as my last trip and fished until 11:00 pm (high tide of ~3.31-ft). The marine layer kept the sun off of the water all day. The tide had a big change with a minus low tide of -1.49-ft at 5:31 am. The minus low tide holes looked like they would hold fish. I caught my first fish, a small Barred Surfperch by 7:20 am. There weren't a lot of hits or fish as I worked South about 1-mile. There was enough action keep me alert. Most of the fish were small with an occasional bigger fish coming in. The day's biggest slowly got bigger: The biggest today was the nice 10-inch Barred Surfperch shown at the left (close-up). Fishing was slow with one or a few fish coming out of better folding water until I got to the best area at the South end of this stretch. There was a small trough that had beautifully active and moving water that held a mixed sized school. (You can see this trough as the darker water behind the fish in the close-ups listed above). I caught most of the fish there from 9 am to 10:30 am. I felt a lot of hits from dinks but I resisted downsizing my flies to hook them. I still use size-6 flies. I caught a total of 28 fish - all small BSP except one small walleye and 6 good mid-sized BSP. The swell pattern shifted to longer period, foam and surging and the fish moved out. It was a long quiet walk back to the car again (same as last time). I caught most of the fish on a Surf Miki 3 on point. The Zen Shrimp on dropper caught a few. Still I am looking (for bigger fish). I did catch a few fish in the flats - they are starting to look better but not quite good enough to hold big fish.
On June 26, 2006, I started fishing at 6:45 am today (as the incoming started moving in) at the second beach of my last trip and fished until 1:00 pm (high tide of 4.31-ft). The tide had good movement today and even with the calm surf there was decent water. The marine layer kept it refreshingly cool all day. I caught a nice female Barred Surfperch (close-up) by 7:00 am - nice start - it felt like it was going to be a good day. There was a good population of fish around even though sandbars were prominent and blocked access back to deeper water. The holes were large enough and the water had good enough action that the fish stayed around near shore. I finally caught some bigger fish again - My biggest was the fat female Barred Surfperch over 12-inches shown at the left (close-up). I caught a total of 32 fish - all BSP. I caught most of them before 9:30 am. The swells shifted and the fish moved out. It was a long quiet walk back to the car. Earlier, I had the most fun with a school of 8 to 10-inch BSP (close-up) that I caught in a unusual area. The fish were moving fast in this area. They hit going top speed away from me resulting in amplified hits. To find fish, I had to cast sideways to the left (parallel to breakers) but the drift was to the right and my line would end up straight out from me. I caught most of the fish on a Surf Miki 3 on point. The Zen Shrimp on dropper caught a few. I haven't found the large schools of bigger fish this year - still I am looking...
On June 21, 2006, I started fishing at 6:00 am today at the same beach as my last trip and fished until 11 am. There was a finger of fog moving around but by the time I was on the beach it cleared up and it was sunny all day with a mild to moderate wind. The tide was incoming to a high of 3.33-ft at 8:31 am that dropped slightly to a low of 2.1-ft by 1:16 pm. I found a few decent mid-sized Barred Surfperch (BSP) - this my first fish today (close-up) - I caught it at 6:10 am. There were not a lot of hits or fish. In 2-hours working over a mile of beach, I did not find any schools or decent holding water and caught only 8 BSP (3 were 8 to 9 -inches). Over slack tide, I drove South to the next beach to scout it - I did a lot of walking today and walked South over 1-mile there. It had better structure and a better population of fish. I finally caught a striper this year - it was a baby (shown at the left) (close-up). It came as a solid grab at the end of a long (20 count) drift on the first cast to the edge of a deep hole (around 10 am). I thought there might be a school but there was not. It was a strong little fish! Today, the swell energy was being dissipated on off-shore sand bars that are still prominent at mid-tide. There was not enough water movement near shore today. Some of the flats were started to look good, I'll start to look for larger surfperch working these flats soon. Earlier, I caught a nice fat Walleye Surfperch double (close-up). The Walleyes were hanging out feeding a turbulence area of a hole. They hit my first cast there - I was expecting a school here too but didn't find one. I caught a total of 26 fish mostly BSP except for the Walleye double and the striper. I caught most of the fish on a Surf Miki 3 on point. The Zen Shrimp on dropper caught a few. The wind worked against easy casting but it kept the air nice and cool. What happen to the marine layer? It was really HOT off of the beach. I'll be back for more next week - still looking for larger fish.

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Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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