Friday, July 19, 2013

Mill Creek BIg Sur Kayak Fishing.

Coming down the mountain into the fog 
            Big Sur is a bit of California too rugged and isolated to be heavily populated, and it is the primitive charm of this area that makes it so special. I was up by two in the morning and on the road, driving the winding road through the coastal mountains with Caleb and Derrick in my truck. Driving around hair pin turns with three kayaks sticking out the back of my pickup truck as we talked about hunting and fishing the whole way up. We drove into the fog, then climbed above it, and once again plunged back into it as the sun came up.
Derrick and Caleb navigating the rocks

            Will was at the launch when we got there patiently waiting  in his car. We got our gear together and got on the water. My kayak flipped in the surf before I even got a chance to jump on. Derrick made it with little difficulty from the rocks, and Will and I got out on the same break. Caleb did pretty good for a newb, despite getting caught in a discarded rope that was tangled in the kelp.
Sand Dab double

           The only bite we could find for the first few hours was sand dabs. Caleb and I lightened up a bit on the amount of squid we were using and started getting double hookups. Sand dabs for those of you not on the west coast are a prolific flat fish that grows to around nine inches long and is normally in between fifty and two hundred feet of water. People fish for these guys with Sabaki rigs tipped with shrimp and regularly hook up with five and six at a time. Scale'em, cut the head and guts off, and cook them bones and all for delicate sweet white meat (I will get to more of that later).

           We caught some for bait and some for eating before heading off to find rocks. I got out as deep as 230 feet and it was all flat and sandy. Even the kelp seemed to be covered in sand. None of us had fished the area before so the lack of structure was an annoying surprise seeing as rockfish live in the rocks. Will managed to catch a juvenile white sea bass in one hundred and fifty feet of water. I was hoping a ray or shark would bite at least, but my efforts went unrewarded.  After striking out in deeper water we decided to head in and fish the kelp beds near the launch.

Big Sur kelp bed

         Back at the kelp beds the rocks seemed to be covered in sand as well. The bottomed looked soft on the fish finder but the good thing is I did not have as many snags. Once I started working the kelp roots I started catching fish. First fish on was a gopher fish followed by a blue and another gopher fish. As I was fishing the wind and the swell started picking up. I hooked into a good sized ling and lost it just before it hit the surface, but it coughed up a baby octopus I was able to scoop up. I caught five more fish off that octopus.
Undersized ling

          I managed to get one ling cod on the deck off the octopus; however, it ended up being a quarter inch under the legal limit so he went back.  I had another fish hit as I was reeling in quickly, but I think it hit the weight at the bottom of my rig and had no chance of getting caught. From time to time I pull up a small ling cod who has attached himself to the four ounce weight at the bottom of my rock cod rig. Unfortunately for us no legal lings were caught this trip out.
Epic fail
My Gillie Yak

              With the wind picking up, my skin burning from the sun, and my loaded stringer it was time to go. One lesson I learned this trip is to keep better count of my fish. I thought I had nine fish on the stringer, but I had ten. Derrick radioed me saying he was headed in and I was wanting to hit on spot again before calling it quits. Good thing I did because I managed to loose my Hawg Trough without realizing it. Lucky for me I modified it so it would float and the kelp kept it from being blow too far away.  I got to the spot I wanted to hit again and dropped down. I felt a tug and went to set the hook. I snagged the bottom and simultaneously broke my forty pound test rig and my cheapo Berkeley Big Game MH rod.  I couldn't believe it, normally one will break before the other, but I have never seen two things break at the same moment.

               To cap things off on the way in I got tossed in the way in the lost my favorite baseball hat. When I stood up I was covered in stringy sea weed. Caleb said I looked like I was wearing a gillie suit. Soaked head to toe I helped the guys get the kayaks back up to the cars. I brought extra shorts and underwear but neglected to bring a extra tee-shirt. Driving back up through the winding road over the mountains and back into the valley I couldn't wipe the smile off my sun burnt face it was a good day on the water. The rest of the day was cleaning the fish, washing down the kayak, rinsing the fishing gear, and getting some much needed sleep.
Cleaning up some dab

Copper rock fish
I can't wait to get back to Big Sur. Thank you Caleb, Derrick, and William for the great trip.

And thank you for reading,



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