I am extremely excited Rockfish season is almost here again on California's central coast. Hitting the beach before sunrise, and launching just after dawn. Stringers full of goofy looking fish with their eyes popping out of their heads. They are fun to catch and great to eat. One of the smaller, quick to bite, and more common fish is the Gopher Rock Fish. Gopher fish are not exactly prized for their fight or table fair, most fishermen let them go in favor of larger rockfish like Vermilion. With the right preparation, Gopher fish makes a great meal.
Get your charcoal grill started, I like natural chunk charcoal because it adds a nice smoky flavor. You will need 6-8 Golpher fillets, but watch out when handling the fish. Most rockfish have poisoned spines, and it really hurts getting poked. I lined the bottom of an aluminum pan with lemon slices. Then I sprinkled salt, dried chives, and fresh ground pepper. Then I laid the fish over the lemon, then top the fish with chives, pepper, salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over the fillets to keep them moist. Wrap the pan in foil and punch a few holes.
I threw it on the grill and checked it occasionally. I also made a Grey Squash and Summer Squash using the same seasonings as well as Artichokes. I also had a Tri Tip because we had company and I wanted some beef.
When the fish looks about half done I threw a few halved lemons that were dipped in sugar to caramelize on the grill. Once the fish looks done it probably is, I let it rest with the foil on tight just to be sure. When I do a meal like this the fish is the last thing I cook. It needs the least amount of time on the heat, and benefits from the special attention.
The fish went so fast I didn't even get seconds, the caramelized lemon and chives give it a great flavor. This recipe would work with any fish, Salmon, Halibut, Trout, Lingcod, Sole, the list goes on and on. If you don't want to do it on the grill, an oven at 350 degrees would work just as well. Try it out, I bet you like it.
I belong to a kayak fishing forum by the name of Central Coast Kayak Fishing, we had a camping and fishing meetup at Lake Cachuma on California's central coast this weekend. Ryan Howell, the sites owner, planned it out. Two days of people who love the outdoors getting together and loving the outdoors, what can be better than that? Being in such good company for the last two days was a breath of fresh air, some great memories were made this weekend.
Mike got the first fish, a nice 18 inch trout that gave a great fight. We were later told the lake had been stocked with "Nebraska Tailwalkers," which are a hi-bred variety known for dancing on the water when hooked. Derrick and Ryan both caught some trout as well, but they were filleted before I got a chance to snap a photo. I fished for bass, but was left with a skunk. The folks at the ranger station said the trout bite was "so-so," and the bass bite died a few days ago. By the early afternoon the wind picked up, and it was a little to windy to enjoy the water.
My wife snapped this great picture of this duck sitting under the pier. I couldn't find the species, if any of you know what type of duck this is, just let me know in the comments.
They made us launch at the bottom of this ramp so we would be out of the way of the power boaters. The rocks were slick and hazardous, so I am surprised none of us got wet launching. If the staff ever tells you to launch here, don't listen to them. Get your stuff ready in the parking lot or at the camp site, go to the boat ramp, and scoot your yak over to the side.
Derrick did pretty well with leadcore, running three colors with a dodger and a night crawler.
Sunday morning the wind calmed down, but so did the bite. Derrick was the only one to hook up. The visibility was at least 12 feet, a green algae bloom made it harder to see much deeper.
Too bad more lakes stocking are not loading them with bruisers like this.
I took my daughter out in the canoe, trolling night crawlers. We fished for about 3 hours without a bite. I wish I could have got her on some fish.
Ryan peddling back in
My whole family had an awesome time, the 3 hour drive to the camp was well worth it. The company could not have been better, and the grounds were clean and well maintained. We froze at night and burned during the day but it was well worth it. The lake has some pretty strict rules. No crafts are allowed on the water from dusk until 7 am. Life jackets are required to be worn at all times, and boats must be pressure washed down. There is a $5 inspection fee for kayaks and canoes, I do not know the price for power boat inspections, but I can assume it is more expensive. There is no swimming or jet skiing and that makes for better fishing in my opinion. Mini chrome Rattle Traps, night crawlers, and Needle fish have been effective with the trout.
My wife is wanting to do a lot more camping this year, I would like to get into the mountains more, and fish the coast more. The rockfish opener is in May, but the Halibut start moving in soon. Hopefully my luck on the salt water is better than my luck in the freshwater has been this year. One thing I can tell you, if any of the folks who came down to the fish and chill wanted to hang I would be down. :D
One of the best, and most maddening parts of kayak fishing are the combinations of gear available and modifications to that gear that make it so very personal. Before I hit the water in my kayak I must have spent over 100 hours reading reports, blogs, books, and web sites about kayak fishing. Ric Burnsley's book was an early influence to my rig. Of course Kayak Kevin was a huge influence, if you haven;t seen his Youtube channel or DVDs check them out. A few of these ideas I came up with on my own, but I don't think any of my mods are original. There is no right or wrong way to rig as long as it is safe, it works, and you like it. I was inspired by anglers before me, I hope I can help inspire others with what I have come up with.
I use a flag on a bungie-ball (you can find them at Walmart), the bungie-ball makes it easy to put o and take off. The shark face is painted on, I did it a while ago using masking tape and my eye to get it masked before I sprayed it down. If enough people comment asking for how I did it, I will put up a how to. I kept all of the rigging on the bow and never really had a problem with it. For an anchor I used a 3lb barbell secured with parachute chord. I have a crab buoy to save my setup if I need to get off the anchor quickly. I also have a submersible light, more on that later.
I keep my paddle leash secured around the base of my fish finder tucked under the sonar shield. Paddle leashes are for times you are not paddling or expecting to paddle much, because they can get you wrapped up under the kayak if you flip. So I rarely use it. I have used it a few time to secure myself to a buoy in windy weather though. I also keep floating pliers capable of cutting braid, and my sunglasses case under there for safe keeping on the water. Here you can also see my Kayak Kevin inspired double foot pegs, I installed for comfort. AS well as a Scotty mount above the left foot well and a Ram Mount over the right.
On the rod pod cover I have a Scotty flush-mount for my swinging camera mount. I take the mount out when launching on the ocean, it is light and easy to position. All of my self shots are taken with this mount. I use the camera mount to keep my fish grips in easy reach. I used a whistle string around a foam buoy to keep Davy Jones from taking them. I also usually stuff a bait knife in one of the rod pod straps to keep it close at hand.
I bought this Ocean Kayak Comfort Pro Seat because I thought it would help prevent numb butt... Turns out it is better at preventing wet butt. It is a good seat, but I am not sure it is $70 better than the stock seat. I also use lure wraps when ever I can, they save me a ton of time because I don't have to untangling so many things.
Sometimes I will attach my fish grips to the elastic straps behind me as well. Here you see my anchor trolley system, I rarely use it honestly. But when I need it, I will have it. I used a few 90 degree PVC pieces to pick my crate off the deck. It sits high and dry. The Scotty mount on the back of the crate is a great place for the stern light. I always carry a small waterproof first aid kit with a hook puller, just in case. I normally throw it in a dry bag to keep it accessible, but keep the deck less cluttered. Rod leashes are a must in the surf, after you loose $200 in rod and reel you will use them when you can to.
Here is a view from the back. I like Scotty rocket launcher style rod holders. When my kayak flipped the rod in the rocket launcher was still in there by it's own means when I flipped my kayak back over.
My paddle started out white, but when I started night fishing for bass it became a problem. The glare off the paddle from my head lamp messed with my night vision. So I went to the garage and grabbed a can of green spray paint. It was better but still reflected a lot so I added blue stripes. It is ugly, but does its job.
I keep my PDF in my kayak so I don't forget it. It would suck making it 2 hours away to the ocean or a lake like Pine Flatt that requires a PDF and not have one. Here you can see how I keep my wires coming out of my battery bag nice and neat.
Here is a shot on the inside of the boat. I Gooped my transducer flat to the bottom and used yellow duct tape to make it easier to add and remove fishing rods from the hull. A few zip ties secures my transducer wire and keeps it neat.
Somehow I lost my 7.3 amp hour battery, so I bought a 4 amp hour battery as a replacement. I use mini blade fuses because they are found in most stores. I bought some quick disconnects from Radioshack and taped all the wires tightly to keep the connections from failing.
I know it is a crappy picture, but I keep extra fuses in a trout bait jar just in case
The second plug is wired for my submersible light. I leave the connection open and haven't had any problems in the salt water. Occasionally I douse the terminals with WD-40, and every time it hits salt with gets rinsed and re-coated. I have had the kayak full of salt water with the open plug and fishfinder on with no problems at all.
For navigation I have my Garmin GPS and a good old fashioned Compass. Funny thing about the compass, when I ordered it out of Austin Kayak I thought it would be much larger. The back had an adhesive pad, pull the wax paper off and mount. So far it has stood torture and still stands strong. As you can see, everything is accessible and within reach.
For recording film I have a camera mount attached to a half inch of PVC that fits perfectly in a Scotty mount. It made me nervous having my very sinkable camera at first, but after a while I grew to use it without fear.
I have been using this setup for a while now and it really works for me. Feel free to use any of the ideas I used, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. This sport and community have been amazing to me. It is never over, the perfect setup is always there, but just out of reach. So keep experimenting.
The Gulf Fritillary, or Passion Butterfly, Agraulis vanillae, is a bright orange butterfly that you might mistake for a Monarch Butterfly at first glance. The live from Argentina through Mexico into the Southern United States. They don't get much further than San Francisco and are absolutely stunning. I could stare at these energetic butterflies for hours as they bob and weave, and chase each other around my passion flower plant. I tried to get a few shots of them earlier in the year, but it was not really a success. They move so fast, and do not seem to like to stay in one sport for much longer than a few seconds. I figured it would be a long while before I had another chance to photograph them. I thought I might have missed out on a chance until about a week ago when I was picking up some trash that blew into my passion flower plant. I knew it was a Gulf Fritillery Caterpillar as soon as I saw it.
Then I started looking around and saw another...
There were so many of them, I can not wait until they pupate and I get a massive hatch of beautiful butterflies flying around. I spotted at least two dozen crawling along, so it is going to be a good show. I just hope I am around when they hatch. Thanks for reading, Dan
Malone still stands behind it's product and has great customer service. What changed was my attitude about scupper carts. Last summer my buddy Jeff's kayak took on water when we were half a mile off the beach at Cayucos. If Will and I we weren't there he would have had one hell of a swim back to shore. Below I have a picture of the damage caused by a scupper cart.
I just couldn't stand sticking the cart into my scuppers any more. Finances are tough so buying a new cart was out of the question. I had to improvise; you kayak fishermen out there know that means one thing, PVC.
I made the first cut about an inch and a half away from the base. I wanted the pad to do it's job and help minimize warping the bottom of the kayak. Second post was cut same as the first.
The 1/2 inch PVC tees fit perfectly on the stubs. I thought about attaching them but figured it would stow better if they just sat on the stubs.
I cut half inch PVC to about 8 inches long, sanded them down, and cemented them into place.
I wanted the strap to be attached to the cart to make it easier to slip on. TO do this I used a cold chisel to break the plastic coating these cheap tie-down straps I had lying around. They were just big enough to slip over the tubes and become part of the cart.
Personally I think it looks pretty good, and the strap being attached to the cart makes it a breeze to get on and off.
Once you have it close to where you want it ratchet it down and go. No fumbling with hooks like on some factory carts out there.
The bottom is cradled fairly well, but I think I might just add some foam just in case.
Took about 30 minutes from start to finish and the longest part was finding, untangling and taking the ratchet strap apart.
It still breaks down small enough to fit in my hull and will not damage it. That is a win win in my book.
Stay safe on the water, and as always; thank you for reading.
Last week I hit up Lake Success with my buddy Big Ed owner of LBS Tackle. I didn't do so hot, I had a few hits on 1/2 showoff jigs in California Chronic but Ed walked away alright with a 1/2oz football head jig in his new Scarecrow color.
It was a tough day on the water. Two tournaments were going on while we were there, I am not sure how the other went but one was won with a 17 lb bag of 3 and second place was five fish with a total of 14 lbs. Most of the people seemed to be fishing A-rigs around 20 feet of water.Ed's luck was a little different.
We had a late start; didn't get to the lake until around 8. Then a bad battery caused us some trouble. Lots of lures were flung, but the only results in our boat were from jigs.
Ed's first was a 5 lb (even) spotted bass. It was so dark it barely looked like a spot, but the mouth and tooth atch was a dead give away. She went in the live well for a revival and a photo shoot later.
This shot was overexposed so I decided to make it sepia, I thought it captured the mood well
Ed showing off his catch, the Scarecrow was only thing getting bit and after he snagged it on some structure and lost it it was time to go. He was kicking himself for only bringing one.
LBS Show-off Jig in Scarecrow
The funny thing was the number of people on Facebook who gave Ed grief over whether this fish was a spot. Once I posted this picture a lot of them changed their opinions. It is good to see healthy fish like this in the Valley.
Thanks for taking me out Ed, I had a great time. Maybe next time I will take some of the pressure off of you and catch some fish.
Thanks for reading,
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