After my trip to Lake Tahoe, I headed back towards the Bay area with the plan to spend a couple of days in San Francisco.
I took my time getting there though, first spending an afternoon in Davis on August 17th (day 170) and the next day mostly reading and picking up some packages in Sunnyvale, south of SF. By then my plans had changed, because Tory, whom I planned to stay with in SF, was still travelling for work. This basically meant I had some time to kill, so the next day was a lazy one once again, did some laundry and spend a long time swimming in the public pool of a very affluent neighborhood.
In the meantime, I had discovered that a fishing permit isn’t required to fish from piers in California. And I so happened to be very close to a famous one: Pacifica pier. Excellent! That’s where I headed every day from August 20th until August 24th, a whole week of fishing.
The view from the Pacifica pier is pretty nice, especially to the south where a bunch of tiny islands jut out of the ocean a few hundred meters off the coast. The first day I was there was really overcast though, so that kind of ruined the view. Every day I was there the water was really wild, with strong currents and very low visibility, so you couldn’t see the fish swimming around. Oh, and the pier is really popular as well. At any given time during the day, there must have been at last 30-40 people fishing. That was pretty cool, because I got to talk to a lot of experienced fishermen and -women.
After a couple of hours of unsuccessful angling the first day, my rod almost bent double. For a very excited 10 seconds I thought I had caught a huge fish, but then I realized what was going on. A seagull had gotten itself tangled up in my line! Luckily the bird broke the line and managed to untangle itself. The fish decided to stay away from me for the remained of the day.
The next day was much of the same again, except without birds almost-suiciding themselves in my line. Zero fish… Luckily the sun peered out from behind the clouds in the afternoon, so it was pretty nice being outside in the stiff ocean breeze.
Because I really wanted to try fishing with a baitcaster reel, I spend the next day (nr 175) driving all the way to Bass Pro Shops in Manteca and back. I also checked with Jackson to hear whether he was up for a weekend of fishing together, but unfortunately he had to work for two weeks straight to help open a new Bass Pro Shops in Sacramento.
By evenfall I was back at the pier and finally managed to land two small fish. At the same time :)! That was pretty cool. They were rather small though, so I tossed them back, no one would be eating these. In the meantime darkness had set in and it seemed no more fish were biting, so I called it a day.
For hours on end I practiced throwing lures with the baitcaster the next day, which was pretty fun, but the fish weren’t interested in the lure it seemed. Until I felt a big resistance pulling on the line! Excitedly I reeled it in, the rod almost bending double. I cranked and cranked, this was going to be the big one! Eventually I managed to hoist up the beast that had gotten itself hooked on my lure: a big dead crab. Bummer! Good thing that once again the weather was really nice, beautiful day.
In the evening I drove out to the American Steel workshop in Oakland to meet up with Will for a little more work on his Burning Man creation. We were both really tired though, so didn’t get much work done. I declined Will’s offer of a matress and headed back to the overnight parking spot I had been staying at the past couple of nights, since it was much closer to the Pacifica pier.
August 24th was finally the day of fishing success! After a good five hours of trying to catch some fish without any results, my luck turned. Some nice Vietnamese ladies gave me a whole bunch of cut up shrimp covered in shrimp oil and a shoal of jacksmelt decided to hang out nearby. A winning combination! I pulled out at least 10 of them. Half I used on my baitcasting rod to try and catch a big striper seabass. It seems the crabs got to the bait first though, time and again tue whole fish disappeared from the hook without so much as a twitch of the rod. I decided to give the remaining fish to a local family who where fishing for their dinner. Sorry, crabs!
That evening “my” parking lot was full when I arrived there, but people always seemed to park wherever there still was some space left, so I decided to do the same. Just then a cop through making sure that everyone was parked according to regulation… My argument that “people park here like this every evening” didn’t fly and he told me to move on. Luckily there was a 24/7 Safeway about 10 minutes driving away that I had already marked in my GPS, and so I spend another comfy night in the car.
The day of my flight back home was nearing and I somehow managed to aquire a whole bunch of extra stuff over the course of my trip, so I was going to need at least one extra piece of luggage. Turns out it’s rather difficult to find one that doesn’t cost half as much as a plane ticket. After a couple of hours of driving around on day 178, I finally found something suitable and packed up all my stuff. In the evening I spend another hour trying to catch a striper bass at the pier, but alas, no bites.
Not wanting to have to drive all the way to LAX in one go, I drove to Santa Barbara on August 26th. By 2PM I arrived at the Goleta pier there. If I had known what it was like, I’d have made the trip a couple of days earlier! Bright sunny sky, no wind and super clear water. Beautiful! And the day would become even better.
I spend an hour or two throwing out lures without too much success, but then a few shoals of mackerel appeared. They were voracious! As soon as the shiny lure hit the water, you could see the whole school gunning for it. The quickest hookset I got was about 1-2 seconds after tossing out my lure. I landed mackerel left and right, really nice 30-40 cm ones! Awesome! In between the 20-something mackerel, I also caught a bonito, even bigger and supposedly good eating.
Since I had no way to decently prepare all those fish, I gave them away to nearby people busy catching their dinner. One Japanese guy in particular was very happy to get some more mackerel for sushi. A Filipino guy had really nice hand-tied lures and litterally pulled up 10 mackerel at once. He must have caught about 40 of them after only an hour!
And it got even better! During the fishing frenzy three dolphins cruised right by the pier. Really big ones, swimming perfectly in sync. What a great spot!
The crystal-clear blue water looked really inviting to take a dive in as well. Because of the drought all public showers had been shut off however, and I didn’t really look forward to being a walking-talking salt stick, so no swimming for me. A shame, really.
And that’s it for my trip in the US. Tomorrow will be spent doing some laundry and getting a shower, so I don’t smell up the plane too much the day after ;).