Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fishing in Long Beach

California Whitefish
My long awaited fishing trip out of Long Beach, California happened last Sunday.  Our original plans included up to 6 guys, Jim Cox, Joe Stanfield, the Professor, Matt Davis, Mike Schubert and Myself, enough to consider hiring a private charter we often call a 6 pack.  In the end there were only 3 of us as the Professor was busy at our APEC conference, Mike's wife schedule him to be on a cruise boat, and Matt stayed home in Texas.  This left only Jim, Joe, and myself so we decided to go out of PierPoint Landing and take a 1/2 day charter on one of their party fishing boats.  Although crowded it was reasonable and it fit our schedule very well.  Basically it was $60/guy, I needed to have a fishing rod that Jim was able to furnish (otherwise you can rent one), a Non resident California fishing license, and some 8 - 12 oz sinkers that we got in the bait shop.  The charters load at 5:30 in the morning so we had to be there by around 4:30, they run about an hour out of the harbor towards the oil derricks, where we would fish the bottom for resident rock fish. Interesting as there must be at least 30 species of rockfish available in the waters off the California coast and I am sure there were at least 20 different ones caught on the boat.  We even caught something called a whitefish, nothing like I figured but it was fun for sure.  Before leaving the harbor I suspect at least 35 guys got on board so fishing was going to be tight.  There were assigned spots along the rail with a number each 2 feet of so.  You got a Tag with that number and a gunny sack to put your fish in, the tag had a wire attached so you could attach it to the gunny sack. Everyone had a chance for $5.00 to get in the big fish pool, what the heck.  I was in California for our annual APEC conference and every year we have tried to go fishing (look back in the archives, it was Charleston last year, Louisiana in 2011).  The fishing was very interesting
as the rods were very stiff and had open spool reels with about 150 feet of Mono tied to a base of braided line, maybe more than we needed however we did have 10 oz weights on to get it down fast
Our boat
and to help keep the lines from tangling into the next guys.  I watched how the helpers on the boat rigged everyone.  The sinker would go at the end of the line then they would tie a couple of loops were about a foot long and 18 inches apart.  they would then sort of loop the hooks on by passing the looped end through the eye and simply looping that so the line would secure the hook through the loop and not a knot.  Therefore you would add either a piece of sinky cut bait, usually sardines, or a piece of squid to the 2 hooks and drop it down.  Fishing in 160 feet of water it still took about 20 seconds to get to the bottom and you'd better have the ability to keep in in "your" zone or you will end up getting tangled.  I now know why they looped the hooks on, it was easier to take them off when getting untangled from the next guy as it happened to me about 4 times.  The boat hands are really good at helping because when you get a fish, they often twist around the next guy's line.  Once they got to the tangle off came the sinker and hooks and it was pretty easy. These guys definitey had patience as someone was always untangling someone.  We mostly drift fished, maybe drifting a half mile or so before turning back upwind.

Joe's Monster Fish!
I thought the fish were surprisingly small with the majority in the 12 - 15 inch range.   In addition, they have swim bladders so once you caught them and brought them to the surface they were all but dead.  Hanging around the boat were always a couple of pelicans to take advantage of the easy meals. As well we saw a number of sea lions and they didn't bother to grab anyone's fish, I am sure they are well fed however.  Also when you brought  up some of the fish their eyes would almost pop out of their heads!  We all did OK but Jim did the best of us 3. It really takes a lot to get used to fishing that deep and dealing with the line stretch.  The picture on the left is Joe with a Vermillion Rockfish about 8 or 9 inches long.  They are going to die anyway to we kept him, sort of like what we do ice fishing.........we call them Hate to's.  Hate to keep'em, hate to throw'em back!  That one went into the gunny sack.  Although it didn't matter Joe kept throwing his fish in my sack so in the end I had a pretty good haul.  We fished till about 11:00 making 4 drifts before heading back to the dock.  A couple of the deckhands started cleaning fish, $1.00 each, which wasn't to bad.  They sure had a process, slab each side as they cut through the rib bones, flip it and do the same.  Once slabbed they literally cut off the rib bones, flesh, everything leaving a slab of boneless meat.  Me, I would have taken the time to cut around the rib bones however their way was very fast and with a few hundred fish to clean they needed to get done in a hurry.  The sea gulls that followed up sure like the methodology and were quite content following the boat.  I had them clean all of our fish and they had a lot of extra fish that people didn't want so I had them throw about 5 more in our pile.  I suppose I ended up with about 8 pounds of fillets and Jim was going to vacuum pack in dinner sized portions, freeze them,  and overnight them to me next week.  I am really anxious to try them out as they will be great deep fried.  The deckhands leave the skin on so if a game warden stops them, they can prove what kind of fish it was, just like here.  On of the more interesting things about the trip was a Japanese man we met, Mr. Suzuki.  He was here from Japan to attend the same conference so we looked him up on Monday.  It is always nice to meet different people and I have to give him credit for going out on the boat on his own.

This week is Easter Sunday and my wife and I are going to have Easter Dinner with my almost 82 year old mother who is at a rehab center after being in the hospital for about a week.  She had Pneumonia and her heart was screwed up somewhat.  It's time to seriously get the boat ready and this weekend is suppose to warm up so that's good.  Most of the lakes are ice free around home so it might be a great excuse to get out.

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