But those big fish don't count. Or rather, they don't count as much to me as the fly rod schoolies. Why? Take a guess based on the picture above...and then read below...
Alright so first night I decided I didn't want to drive too far and the spot I originally wanted to go was indeed the farthest. So I skipped it. I debated and debated and decided to fly fish. It's a little late for this spot, but it's been good in the past.
As soon as the tide hit, I was into fish. But the wind was MUCH stronger than they predicted and I found myself fighting a strong 15mph with gusts over 20, when it was supposed to be less then 7mph. I got so frustrated by tangles and snarls and just the mess that was my new fly line and packable basket. I'm in denial about my basket. It sucks, and I want it to be good. I gave up and ordered a traditional one and will have it next week.
I fished for about 4 hours and the first hour was the most frustrating, and from hours 2 to 3.5 I had a hit or fish every other cast, when I wasn't tangled. I had 22 fish that night from about 15" to about 25". Nothing big, and they definitely leaned towards the smaller end, 18-22" I'd guess. I'm not good at guessing lengths of small fish. It was a blast on the 8wt, and looking at the moon and forecast I thought it might only get better. I was excited for the week, thought maybe I'd have a 150 fish week on the fly!
This is the hard way to catch fish, and it's extremely rewarding. It's hard as hell.
Then I got an invite to fish the canal. Well more like I heard someone was going and I said if they needed company I might join. I wanted to check it out. I bash it a lot and sound like an asshole and I've never even actually tried- not really, not when it's breaking tides and masses of people and fish. Plus as I was discussing previously I want to be skilled in as many ways of fishing as possible, and this is not more strongest suit, although I felt instantly comfortable there after having spent some time in breachways and inlets.
They sounded like they wanted company so I went.
I had 5 fish between 26 and 30lbs in about 10 casts.
My 3rd cast I landed a 20lber.
I didn't have a fish under 15lbs.
Since I can't really spot burn it I don't mind saying it. But, in trade off, I'm not going to specifically say what I used because I do believe it made a little difference. My friend and I, while not doing exceptionally better than anyone else, did seem to be hooking up more consistently and larger fish than others adjacent to us. My friend was using something special I'm excited about. Sorry to be a tease but that's all I can say.
However, I saw, and weighed, some giant fish for other guys on the typical plugs- pencils, glide baits, and magic swimmers. We weighed a 46lb cow for a guy that was about to pass out from excitement. He was FREAKING out. I don't blame him.
Fighting those fish was fun, but I won't lie, by the 4th almost 30lb fish I was already starting to get bored/desired more. I just like to hunt too much, and reeling in the fish is one of the lesser parts if I'm honest.
But I won't downplay it, catching that many big fish in the day light was fun and I'm totally planning on going back. In fact, I need a new reel better suited to it then my VS250.
The next day I went again and it was slower. I did have a 20lber, 15lber, and then a 28lber in rapid succession but then nothing for a long time. When my buddy and his partner decided to quite, I decided to stay- it was only 0630!
I ran into my friend Corey right after that and got to catch up a little, that was cool. I hadn't seen him in almost 2 years and we had no idea either of us were there! Random. Surf fishing isn't that big, despite the 1000s of anglers I saw.
So I kept going West and saw some bait right in tight that looked really upset. There was no one on it, and I could only see 1 caster as far to my West as I could see!
First cast, 20lber!
From that point on it was fish every 10 or so minutes. Sporadic blitzes kept popping up, but you had to throw it right on their heads. It didn't seem to matter much what you threw, but you had to be accurate. Soon enough, I had another 28lb fish. Yes, I weighed it, so I'm not lying. I had one schoolie, 3 fish that were close all around 22-24lbs (unweighed) and then a few teen fish on top of the above. I was getting SO hungry, my arms are sore as hell from fly fishing and fighting these good fish in the current, and it was getting hot, so I quit.
When I left, I had 12 anglers around me. Funny how that happens. I left feeling pretty good!
This was the easy way to catch fish. I don't care what ANYONE says. The canal is easy. If you go at the right time, it's easy. In fact, I've only gone 3 times for real, an another 1/2 dozen in November, and I've never been skunked and I've never not caught what would be considered a good or really good fish for the time of year. I'm sure jigging at night is hard, I'm sure of it, and fishing it all year for consistency is hard (and fun as hell) but doing what most guys do...easy. I lived it.
Anyways, after 6 hours of day time sleep, I woke up and did some things (including a short jog...yeah I'm crazy), and got ready for one more night of fly fishing. I wasn't going back to the canal as I figured it was going to get crazy (and I head it was a mess! so I'm glad I didn't)
I had another fantastic night. I had 15 fish with all the fish being between 20 and 32"...ok only 1 fish was 32ish inches but I had a couple in the mid 20" range. A 12lb fish on the fly is a great fight, and in the current equal in time to fighting those "almost 30's" I had in the canal. Much better than the other night. I was using my 11wt and it was much easier to cast with a gentle breeze, but I still was tangled 70% of the time and I swear it was worse. I was just too tired. I quite with fishing busting all around me blowing up on bait, I just couldn't do it anymore. I had brought a spinning rod with me but I had had my fill this week, and didn't need to prove anything.
I'm looking forward to sleep tonight. My arms are so friggin' sore.