Next week, we head for Ocracoke, NC for a week of vacation, and I'm hoping to have some great reports for you to read from there!
So here's my Cali experience.
So this year I was prepared. I went with my 8wt fly rod and intermediate line and a load of bonefish/flats flies I thought would be perfect. I also got a new Tsunami 7ft 1/8-1/2oz rated rod, so I didn't have to use my 5 piece 6.5ft rod that was only good to about 1/3oz and cost me $14 on amazon. It actually isn't that bad, but not suited for casting in any kind of wind with any kind of weight. The Tsunami (3 piece) was great (very nice, $80) and worked very well with lures up to 1oz, and down to 1/4oz jig heads with 3" swim shads and such. I brought a variety of lures from 1/8oz jig heads and 2" curly tail grubs, to a Tsunami 5" talkin' popper, lots of swim shads in 2-4" range, and a few yo-zuri hard baits and sluggos and kastmasters/tins. I used a 3000 size battle spooled with 20lb spiderwire stealth and used a 12lb flouro leader. Overkill, but I didn't want to lose anything. Which I did, as you'll read.
I didn't get a chance to fish again until Thursday afternoon. I can't say where, not even vaguely, because it's private and I have a serious inside connection. This is the day I finally landed a Pacific fish. On small swim shads, darker color worked best, and jig head/soft shad body combos, I landed 8-10 "bass" of various kinds from 12"-24"- Kelp Bass being the largest. It was a blast. I was fishing this rocky out crop that was attached to a sandy beach. After some experimentation, I found the fish were stacked up around structure right at the transition from beach to rocks. The 24" bass, pictured, fought like a champ, putting a serious bend in my rod and taking drag. I broke off something much bigger as well, and lost a ton of the small sized stuff, probably like 8 more of those. Several small fisher bit the tails off stuff, and a few broke me off in the rocks. If you didn't get them out of the rocks immediately, even the little guys could break the leader on the rocks. Later, as I walked the rocks more, I lost something also much bigger after it CRUSHED my 1oz Kastmaster which I was zipping across/just under the surface. I mean, crushed. Hit it so hard I almost lost the rod and then the drag was screaming, and then nothing! I was so upset! My friend was laughing, she thought the whole thing was very amusing. I walked back down the shore line and had 1 more fish on a swim shad, and then the next cast had something large latch on that felt very different. Very well could have been a Halibut, as it felt like a flounder hit to me! Then the next cast something bit off the tail of the swim shad, and I could tell my friend was bored, so we called it quits. I was a very happy man that evening at dinner!
So it was a fun trip, and Joshua Tree after was INCREDIBLE (see pictures below). I know next time (when will that be? Maybe not for a long time) I'll be more prepared. I really want to catch a surf halibut. Apparently there's surf Stripers out there too, but rare, and smaller- although every year a few to 30lbs are caught, but anything over 25" is considered huge.
Oh. And I'm predicting a normal spring run with normal timing [I WROTE THIS BEFORE I HEARD THE NEWS BUT AS OF 4/13 THERE ARE NEW SCHOOLIES IN RI, AND ON THE VINEYARD. THIS IS A LITTLE EARLY! HOPEFULLY A GOOD OMEN!]. I'm hoping to be into my first fish by May 8th. We'll see. I've got it on good authority the bass are in heavy on the west end of Long Island/New Jersey. So...we're close.