I hadnâ€™t pestered the local surf perch for a couple years and after a long Delta season spent dealing with all the hassles involved in being “the guy with the boat” the simplicity of a short, trailer-less drive, a single rod, a handful of flies, a pair of waders, and the scenery & solitude of a Monterey Bay beach at sunrise was sounding pretty danged appealing.
With a severe case of jet-lag I missed the whole sunrise part of it (by about 6 hours), but despite the afternoon wind it was a surprisingly successful couple of hours; the tide was decent and the fish were right where Iâ€™d remembered them being.
The first grab was a savage one that immediately had me questioning how I could have forgotten how scrappy these barred little dynamos could be. A minute or so later I figured it out, at ~12 inches, I had my first surf caught striper to hand!
The holes were looking pretty good and I managed a barred surf perch out of every other one or so but no concentrations out of any one spot like Iâ€™d remembered in years past. No complaints though, considering this was the first trip out to the salty surf in a very long time I felt that I had done pretty darned good which made for a seemingly quick trip back over the hill as I spent every minute of it speed dialing Brandon, Jeff, Dave, and Al, â€œGot my first striper in the surfâ€! “How big”? “About 12, maybe 13”! After a short pause, “… inches”?
They all may know me just a little too well.
At 1 AM that night I was back at SFO picking up Jose and swapping fish stories on the way home. The following morning we were crammed in my truck with Jeff and headed back to the beach to spend a few hours on the water with the surf perch master himself (Jose), whom, BTW, hadn’t brought a pair of waders so was stuck with an old pair of mine (needless to say, I’m a little taller than him).
It was a gorgeous morning for fly fishing the surf. The wind was non-existent and the swell was way down. Even the seals and sea lions were enjoying the serenity of the beach at first light.
This was Jeffâ€™s maiden voyage to fly fish the left-coast’s surf, and therefore I wasnâ€™t surprised at all when he was into his first fish, within minutes as usual; that just seems to be his style. And to top it off, it was a striper! A diaper-striper, but a fly-caught striped bass in the salt none the less! Unfortunately there were no pictures as it caught us off guard and taking pictures in the crashing surf is no easy task.
The sun appeared quickly and with it came the weekend crowds of non-fishers that require you to keep a close eye on your back casts. As our morning session came to an end I reluctantly accepted the stinky skunk. Jose, on the other hand, broke out the JSW (Jose Secret Weapon) and fairly consistently got into a number of them (A hint on the JSW: 2 of its 3 ingredients are 1) a fly rod, and 2) a roll of masking tape. You’ll have to figure out the 3rd on your own).