I've been thinking about trying for white sea bass in the surf for a while, and with the latest grunion run wrapping up Friday night I decided to hit the surf Saturday morning to see if a lure that looks like a grunion would attract some predators. The lure in question was the Lucky Craft Surf Pointer 115 in sexy smelt, and I had a few alternatives to try if it didn't produce.
I hit the beach a few minutes after sunrise. Wading out a little past knee deep, I threw my first cast. A few turns of the handle and fish on! This was looking to be a good morning! I reeled in my first surf halibut caught on a lure. It wasn't big, probably a few inches shy of the 22 inch limit to keep, but I was stoked.
California halibut (Paralichthys californicus)
California Butterfly Ray (Gymnura marmorata)
Shortfin Corvina (Cynoscion parvipinnis)
I took a break from trolling to soak some chunks of frozen queenfish on dropper loops. The wind had really picked up, so we were drifting pretty quickly. I tried two strategies: paddling slowly to hold my position and letting the wind push me along. The cut bait didn't get any interest other than something picking the eyeballs out (probably crabs), so I put it away and got back to trolling.
As I was paddling to catch up to Dave I got a hit from something small. I was surprised to see that it was a needlefish, and I quickly got it into the kayak in case it came off the hook. A new species! And once again it was on the same Rapala Xrap.
California Needlefish (Strongylura exilis) - new hook & line species #555
At this point I swapped out the Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow for a Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow with the trebles replaced with single hooks. It was one of my best lures trolling in Baja. However, I didn't get to use it very long because I got another hit on the Rapala, and this fish was putting up a better fight than the corvina! When I got it to color I saw that it was a bonito, which is an unusual catch for the back part of the bay. I grabbed its tail and pulled it in.
Pacific Bonito (Sarda lineolata)
Just like a corvina, do not put your fingers in a bonito's mouth.
Raw bonito is one of my favorite things to eat, but I didn't have ice to keep this one fresh, so I bled him out, and Dave and I paddle back in. When I got home I had sashimi, soy sauce, wasabi, and rice on the side. Delicious.