Sablefish

Sablefishes—Family Anoplopomatidae

Sablefish from Monterey Wharf #2  

Species: Anoplopoma fimbria (Pallas, 1814); from the Greek words anoplis  (unarmed) and poma (operculum or gill cover), and the Latin word fimbria  (fringe).

Alternate Names: Commercially called blackcod in Washington and butterfish in California. Other names include Alaska blackcod, coalfish, coal cod, candlefish, black candlefish, bluecod, deep sea trout, zipperfish, sable, skil-fish, skil, and skill. Called t’thémekwe by the Salish in British Columbia, sqel or skil by the Haida, and hádání  by the Heiltsuk. Called bacalao negro in Mexico.

Identification: Elongate (cod-shaped) tapering to the tail. Two  widly-spaced   dorsal fins. Adult coloring is usually blackish-gray on the back and sides, gray to white below; young fish taken from piers are generally pale greenish-colored on top and sides fading to white.

A small  sablefish caught by polishfromthedeep from the Pismo Beach Pier

Size: To over 40 inches and 56 pounds although most caught off piers are young fish under a foot in length.

Range: Islas San Benito and Isla Cedros, central Baja, California to the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea south of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Also, Kamchatka, Russia, south to Hatsu Shima Island, southern Japan; usually in extremely deep water.

Habitat:  Adult fish are caught in deep water, often over a thousand feet deep, and prefer areas of blue clay or mud. Young fish, to a foot long or so, are often found in fairly shallow areas. There is also a difference in habitat north and south; in southern California, sablefish are almost always found in deep-water areas, in northern California (Eureka north), sablefish will sometimes be in shallower water.

An adult sablefish — From Alaska Seafoods

Piers: Sablefish are never really common to California piers although piers adjacent to deep-water canyons may see a few each year. At times, vast schools will move in around piers and thousands of the fish will be caught. Best bets: Newport Pier, Balboa Pier, Redondo Beach Pier, and Monterey Wharf No. 2. In the far north, where sablefish become a more shallow-water fish, they will sometimes show up during the summer months in Humboldt Bay and a few will fall to anglers fishing from Eureka area piers.  I have also seen small specimens taken from the Pismo Beach Pier and Capitola Wharf.

A young sablefish from the Capitola Wharf

Shoreline: Rarely taken by shore anglers.

Boats: Rarely taken by boaters in southern California although they’re commonly taken by rockcod anglers fishing in deep waters off Santa Cruz and Monterey.

Bait and Tackle: On piers a high/low rigging baited with strips of squid is the preferred method. On boats they are generally taken on typical rockcod tackle.

Food Value:  Adult sablefish are one of the best tasting smoked fish. In fact, many people like the rich buttery flavor of sablefish better than salmon. Young sablefish are not quite as rich flavored or good, but they are still best smoked or broiled, methods which gives the flavor a chance to show itself. Do not, repeat, do not, pan-fry or deep-fry sablefish. The results will be an inferior piece of over oily meat.

An early ad promoting the sale of sablefish

Comments: One of my favorite fish simply because it is an uncommon treat! Sablefish can live to about 55 years of age.

From the California Fish & Game — California Fish and Game, January 30, 1948 Volume 34, No. 1 —Notes 37

Sablefish Run at Monterey Bay

For the first time in history, sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) appeared in vast numbers in the vicinity of Monterey and were caught by the thousands from the municipal pier. The run was first discovered on the afternoon of July 11th; word of the bonanza spread rapidly, and the pier was soon crowded with anglers. Men, women, and children stood shoulder to shoulder, with a varied assortment of tackle, all hauling in fish as fast as they could throw in their lines. Boxes, sacks, five-gallon cans, and washtubs were rapidly filled with 12 to 20-inch fish. Slack periods occurred during the morning and again in the afternoons, but they were of short duration usually lasting only half an hour or less; then the fish would be back seemingly in greater numbers than before. Each day the pier would be jammed with crowds of from 2,000 to 3,500 fishermen and spectators, some having driven as far as 200 miles.

On July 26th, the run stopped as abruptly as it had begun, and although over 5,000 fishermen were on hand the next day, only a few fish were caught. During the 15 days of the run, the Bureau of Patrol Division of Fish and Game, estimated that over 110 tons had been landed.

— Keith W. Cox, Bureau of Marine Fisheries,
California Division of Fish and Game, September, 1947

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A classic Pier Fishing in California thread — “A Big Ray”

Date: October 27, 2002, To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board, From: gmm, Subject: Quivera Basin (Mission Bay, San Diego)

I haven’t been able to fish all week (the horror of it all) and it was looking like this weekend would be no different. I was just able to squeeze in an hour at Quivera Basin tonight. Met the SD Crew (well, couple of em) and fished with Pescador for a bit. Managed 1 teeny-tiny (4″-5″) sand bass right away on a black grub over by the boat docks and then a little barracuda at sunset on a blue-mackeral Krokodile. Copenhagen – ever get that ray up? I couldn’t believe you guys were pumping up that raft to go after it. Wish I could’ve stayed to watch the chaos that surely followed. Good meeting you guys. -Drew

Posted by SD Fisherman

Nice meeting you too Drew. And, Cope did it!!! A beast of a ray it was!!! Easily 125-150lb. I do bicep curls with 100lb. and this monster I could barely hold up. Pescador will put the pics up tonight. Stay tuned! ~Don aka SDF~

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

I got to the Q about the same time as copenhagen. When we finally got our lines wet my coworker shows up and got this cuda….


I hooked up on three or four ‘cudas but didn’t get any pics. Too busy fishing. Anyways, while I was on the south side of the point near the boat docks I hear copenhagen screaming he’s got a fish on…

… now this might seem like another pic at the same time as the last but this was about 20 minutes later. still bendo…

…this fish would just keep holding the bottom so cope would just set the rod down between the rocks and wait for it to free itself again to fight. Now this pic was taken later on. about an hour later…

… finally after about four rounds of waiting for this fish cope gets it to the rocks. This is at about 6:30; he went bendo at about 3:30…

… these pics were taken while we were trying to get this beast up the rocks. Not easy. we had to use two iron jigs as gaffs to haul it up…

…finally got her up…

copenhagen holding his catch…

…spread eagle..

… in the back of the truck. We dedicated this pic to Stan. [Famous on PFIC for huge bat rays and sturgeon]

Posted by bayfisher86

I don’t think thats’ a bat ray. I cant tell exactly what type but I’m sure its not a battie. Looks like the tail was cut off awhile back. I think its a round stingray. Did you guys keep it? You gaffed it with iron and put it in a truck so thats what I’m assuming. Am I wrong? Nice catch though.

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

Here’s the pics and here’s SDFisherman’s smoothie caught in the middle of the fight. Oh forgot to mention. While cope, my coworker, and I were fishing, dazex calls and says he’s coming. That’s him in the spread eagle shot on the left. SDF calls right after that and says he’s coming. We also met GMM. Good talking to you dude. and I’ll see you on the water one of these days on our toothpicks. Good day fishing and a lot of excitement. Now we gotta get cope to catch a yellowtail! hahaha.

… the ray was kept. We don’t know what kind of ray it is since round sting rays only get to 22″ wide. And definitely not a bat ray. We could tell while the fight was going on. No way cope would have been able to rest it on the rocks for 20 min at a time waiting for it to run again. And yah the tail was cut off before.

Posted by bayfisher86

I thought about the 22 inches only thing but I mean it is possible, because giant kelp fish only get to be 12 inches and my friend and i each caught one at Catalina that was at least 3-4lbs; an easily 24 inches.

Posted by Sinker

WOW. What else can I say – I do believe you: “GOT BENT.” Absolutely a Great Job and nice Team Work – You said it all.

Posted by pierhead

My guess is that it is some sort of skate. It’s probably not a Big skate (official name) because it doesn’t have the dark spot(eye) on the wings but definitely not a round stingray nor a battie. Those were some of the best action photos I’ve seen and I liked the sequencing … made me feel like I was there. Great post! How much did it weigh? Pierhead

Posted by mobilesuit

HOLY MOTHER !!!!!!!!! dude, I knew there were large sharks and rays in the basin, BUT DDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMNNNNNNNNN~~~~~~~~~~!!!!!!!!!! GREAT JOB GUYS!!!!!! Boy, i wish I was there….DDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMNN NNNNNNNN~~~~~~~!!!!!!! thats all I can say.

Posted by lucy

Sandpaper skate?It’s definitely NOT a bat-ray. From consulting my Petersons field guide, I’d guess it’s a sandpaper skate–the shape is just right, and the book says sandpaper skates can get up to about 34 inches. Whatever it is, it’s a hell of a catch! Way to go, everybody!

Posted by tombaAtwork

I’m glad you kept the ray, because I was gonna scold you for treating it that way only to release it. That is a huge Sting Ray (not Bat Ray). Should have an interesting taste.

Posted by Sinker

Posted by Red Fish

They’re on fire!

Posted by rbwalker

This fish might be a diamond stingray, which I understand is fairly common in Baja California. I caught a stingray very similar to this, and almost as big, fishing in the Florida Keys.

Posted by dkkim

holy moly!! nice feeesh!!

Posted by COPENHAGEN_FLU

Well guys, I’m really glad you could share the experience with me. It wouldn’t have been the same without you. I learned one thing tonight. The S.D. crew is about team work. Everyone there tonight played a role in me catching the fish of a lifetime. Dave inflated his raft in case I needed to go out and get the ray untangled, Arvin advised me and encouraged me through it all, as well as helped muscle the fish up the rocks. And Don not only pinned the fish with a net until we could gaff it, but notice the lack of shoes and socks. He was willing to go in after this fish if need be, as well as be the captain of the raft if we had to go out there. Bottom line, tonight I realized iIve got the best fishin’ buddies in the world! Thanks guys. mike

Posted by OB Pier Rat

That ray is a monster!! What’s the wingspan on that bad boy? Wish I coulda seen ya battle it! Congrats!

Posted by fishfinder

Details. Details. I want details.  Great fish. Aren’t big rays fun? Another question. What are you going to do with it? Good job on the team effort guys. Pat

Posted by dazex

Live sardine on 20lb test. Yeah, you guys should have been there. I had a blast watching the “men” hoist the fish out of the water. The grunting, cheers and congrats after the fish was landed really gave me a view of what primal life must have been like for the cavemen as they returned from a successful hunt. The lady that was there was beside herself after seeing the ray. She wanted to cook it up. She claimed that her cousin made some really good dishes with it and if we didn’t want the ray, she would be happy to take it and cook it. She even offered to have us all over for the meal. I came out to hang for an hour and ended up staying the entire night. I just couldn’t leave without knowing what was on the other end of the line. Great job Cope and thanks again to you and your girlfriend for bringing the grill and cooking up those delicious hot dogs. Until next time!!! -Dazex

Posted by SD Fisherman

We donated the fish to the gentleman in the pic with us dragging the beast up the rocks. His wife was there and was looking forward to cooking it up. So we were more than happy to oblige. In fact she took down Cope’s phone number because she wants us to have a taste of the dish she’s going to make. Cope, Arvin, Dazex..any of you guys want to comment on the Seaforth incident? I’m a little peeved right now… Don aka SDF

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

Here’s all the details: Crude measurement of the ray’s wingspan with a 1-ft ruler was approx 3-ft wide. It was caught on a live anchovy. Carolina rigged on 20lb mono. We don’t know the weight for sure but estimate it at about 120-150lbs. We tried to take it to Seaforth to have it weighed, but the high and mighty offshore-fishing-only guy wouldn’t bring out the digital scale for something that wasn’t a gamefish. This guy was such a glans. he said, “im not going to bring out my digital scale for a mud marlin. Now, if you had a GAMEFISH I’d bring it out for you.” The moron didn’t even know what a bat ray looked like. Even got another guy trying to say it was a bat ray. When he brought a book out, we proved him wrong by pointing out the characteristics of a batray. Thing is, how can he consider himself a fisherman when he can’t even identify the local inshore species? I’ve only been fishing for less than two years. I don’t limit myself to shore fishing. I’ve been out there also. and I know the difference between a yellowtail and an albacore. He cant even tell if the catch was a bat ray??? Truly a glans (medical terminology for a part of human anatomy corresponding to this individual’s attitude). if he ever reads this post I wonder if he’ll ever figure that one out too!

Posted by SD Fisherman

Pat, oh yes, WE ALL FEEL that way about the situation. Imagine our elation as we cruise over to Seaforth with a HUGE ray (like I said easily in the 125-150lb. range) in the bed of the truck, and three stoked fishermen hangin’ on for the ride. Then the jerk tells us that is ISN’T WORTH IT to weigh the ray on the super duper digital scale. He wasn’t gonna budge, so we said to ourselves, SCREW YOU A-HOLE!! The pathetic 60-lb. scale he “so graciously” let us use was maxed out almost immediately when Cope lifted the beast up just a little. I tell you, this fish was an aberration of nature that toyed with us BIG TIME until Cope figured him out in the third hour. From then on it was Pandemonium till the bell rung to signal the end of the twelfth and final round… I am feelin SORE big time from tonight and loving every minute!!!!!!!!! ~Don aka SDF~

Posted by Predator

These are the days you’ll tell your kids about. And this is the story, that I’ll tell MY kids about. You guys are awesome. Absolute super stars, each one of you. Consider yourselves crowned.

Posted by Red Fish

Bathroom scale can work f you get the smallest guy in your posse to hold him up then deduct his weight from the total. Usually, bathroom scales go to 300 #’s. Their could be ones that go more.

SD Fisherman

Great tip Red! We’ll do that next time!

Posted by lucy

Shouldn’t flatter him so much. Calling the guy a “glans” is flattery. “Smegma” is a better term for him. What a jackass!

Posted by Ken Jones

Pretty sure it’s a diamond stingray minus its tail (and of course its stinger). They get ‘em big down there. By the way, there used to be a bar in Pacific Beach with a huge diamond stingray up on its wall. But I believe it closed several years ago.

Posted by Rich Reano

Darn, I missed out. Darn seagull didn’t want me in on the action. lol Great job cope’ That thing looks like a mutantly large round stingray that are common in the bay. The wings on those things are becoming quite a delicacy in restaurants. …r…

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

Sorry that had to happen dude, you always seem to leave right before the biggest catch of the day. Next time I’m bringing a couple of extra shirts just in case. Stupid birds.

Posted by anadromous

HUGE!!! Good job!

Posted by dazex

Daiwa Millionaire CV-X review: Tonight was the first time I got to try out the new reel I picked up at the Turners sale. I have been fishing with its older sibling, the Millionaire CV-Z 300A. My first impression at the store was that the CV-X was noticeably NOT as smooth as the CV-Z. I chalked it up to the fact that it had only 3+1 bearings compared to the CV-Z’s 6+1. The body is also a 1 piece milled aluminum like the CV-Z and Calcuttas except it’s in gunmetal and silver instead of the gold. Very nicely machined parts. Overall, very nice reel. Well, after casting it a few times. I have to say that my initial opinion was off. The reel was very smooth after it was cast and retrieved a few times. I think the constant casting and retrieving allowed the factory applied grease to start spreading and working into the various parts. I thought it was every much as smooth as the CV-Z.  The coolest thing about the models size 253 and below is that they feature Daiwa’s Magforce technology. Essentially, the technology has a drum that engages during the max spool rotation to help prevent spool overrun. Then the metal drum disengages from the magnets as the spool slow to maximize your casting distance. I thought this was all a gimmick, but it really works. I did not have to feather the spool when casting the 3/4oz lure. I had good distance and only needed to stop the spool as it hit the water. Very nice indeed. Casting into the wind though will required you to feather the spool a bit. In summary, the CVX 253 is a really nice reel and is definitely worth the sales price of $75. Magforce makes it a breeze to cast and the smoothness of the gears made it a pleasure to retrieve. I believe the drag is the same as featured on the CV-Z so it should be very nice. I fought numerous 10-15-20lb yellowtails on my CV-Z and the drag held up well so I think the drag on the CV-X should be adequate for the size and species of fish the reel is rated for. -Dazex

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

Daiwa Millionaire CV-X review. One thing about the drag difference between the two reels. the cv-z has an 11 element drag system, while the cv-x has a 7 element drag system. But seriously, do you think it made much of a difference? nah. I think the cv-x is close enough. I Iove mine too!

Posted by dazex

Oops…I thought both has the 7 element drag. But I love it nonetheless. I just need something big to test it.  -Dazex

Posted by RaySniper

HUGE…I can’t believe it… A 3 hour fight…must have been so rewarding to pull that sucker up. I have heard that skate tastes really good, so enjoy!

Posted by DRIZZLE35

WOW! That’s a h*%$ of a fight – Congrat.

 

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Silver Surfperch

Species: Hyperprosopon ellipticum (Gibbons, 1854); from the Greek root words hyper (above) and prosopon (face, from the upward direction of the face), and the Latin word ellipticum (elliptical, referring to the outline of the body). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Amphistichinae.

Alternate Names: Silver perch or surfperch. In Mexico called mojarra ovalada or perca.

Identification: Their coloring is silver with duskiness on the back and the tail is usually pink. They have no spots on the fins with the exception (generally) of a small orange spot on the anal fin. Often confused with walleye surfperch but the tips of the pelvic fins ARE NOT black and they do not have the large eyes like walleye surfperch.

Size: To 10.5 inches; those caught off piers are usually 6-8 inches.

Range: Rio San Vicente, northern Baja California to Schooner Cove, near Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Habitat: Shallow-water areas near both sand and rock. Common in both oceanfront areas and in bays.

Piers: Most common on central and northern California piers. Best bets: Pismo Beach Pier, Seacliff State Park Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Pacifica Pier, Fort Point Pier, San Francisco Municipal Pier, Elephant Rock Pier, Fort Baker Pier, Point Arena Pier, Commercial Street Dock (Eureka), and the Trinidad Pier.

Shoreline: One of the main fish for sandy shore anglers in central and northern California anglers.

Boats: An inshore species rarely taken by boaters.

Bait and Tackle: Silver surfperch can be caught similarly to walleye surfperch with the following modifications: silver surfperch are usually mid-depth to the top of the water so fish off the bottom; and silver surfperch are more likely to take a worm-baited hook than walleye surfperch.

Food Value:  Fair, although most of the fish are too small to have much meat available.

Comments: Silver surfperch are very attractive perch that, in northern areas, seem to average much larger size than silver surfperch in the south. They are one of the main fish caught by pier anglers in central and northern California.

 

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Blackperch

 

 Blackperch from the Ferry Point Pier in Richmond

Species: Embiotoca jacksoni (Agassiz, 1853); from the Greek word embiotoca (bringing forth living young), and jacksoni  (in honor of A. C. Jackson of San Francisco, who first noted that these perch give birth to living young and brought it to the attention of Alexander Agassiz who described the species). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Embiotocinae.

Alternate Names: Buttermouth perch, black surfperch, black seaperch or bay perch. Often called pogie by anglers in the Bay Area. In Mexico called mojarra negra or perca negra.

Blackperch from the Elephant Rock Pier in Tiburon

Identification: Typical perch shape. Although variable, their coloring is usually black or brown to reddish, and yellowish on the belly; scales often have blue flecking. Lips are orange or yellow and they have a “mustache” on the upper lip. Typically they have dark vertical bars on the side; a bluish-white line is often seen at the base of the anal fin. Easily identified by a large patch of enlarged scales between the pectoral and pelvic fins.

Size: To 15.4 inches; most caught off piers are under a foot. The California record fish weighed 1 lb 11 oz and was taken from San Carlos Beach in 2006.

Blackperch from the Fort Point Pier in San Francisco

Range: Punta Abreojos, central Baja California, and offshore Isla Gudalupe to Fort Bragg, Mendocino County.

Habitat: Most common in eelgrass beds of bays and rocky-shore areas; both in bays and along the coast. ]

Blackperch (and madsteelhead) from the Monterey Wharf#2

Piers: Common at most piers north to Bodega Bay. Generally caught at bay piers or inshore piling areas of oceanfront piers. Best bets: Imperial Beach Pier, Shelter Island Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier, Dana Harbor Pier, Long Beach Finger Piers, Redondo Harbor Sportfishing Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier, Venice Pier, Santa Monica Pier, Cabrillo Pier (jetty side), Malibu Pier, Paradise Cove Pier, Goleta Pier, Gaviota Pier, Morro Bay T-Pier, Monterey Coast Guard Pier, Capitola Wharf, Fort Point Pier, San Francisco Municipal Pier, Candlestick Pier, Berkeley Pier, Ferry Point Pier, Paradise Beach Pier, Elephant Rock Pier, Angel Island Pier, and Fort Baker Pier.

Shoreline: One of the main fish for rocky shore anglers in southern and central California.

Blackperch from the Capitola Wharf

Boats: An inshore species rarely taken by boaters.

Bait and Tackle: Prefers fresh mussels, bloodworms, pile worms, small pieces of shrimp or small rock crabs. Size 8 or 6 hooks fished on the bottom with a high/low leader seem to work best.

Blackperch (and Thomas Orosco) from the Berkeley Pier

Food Value: In the past this was considered a fairly good, mild-flavored fish. Today, because of our polluted waters, they are considered unfit to eat in some locales.

Comments: Once a favorite spring fish for Bay Area pier fishermen; today there’s a perch closure during the spawning months.

Blackperch (and Ken Jones) from the Seal Beach Pier

Blackperch (and Minnowmagnet) from the Berkeley Pier

Strange white-colored Blackperch from the Ventura Pier

A brightly colored blackperch from the Cabrillo Pier in San Pedro

Blackperch from the Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon, Catalina Island

Blackperch from the North T-Pier in Morro Bay

Blackperch from the Stillwater Cove Pier at Pebble Beach

Gravid female blackperch from the Long Beach Finger Piers

Blackperch from the Cayucos Pier, 1997

Many thanks to Robert O’H for the help with the pictures.

 

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Reef Seaperch

Reef seaperch from Monterey Wharf $2

Species: Micrometrus aurora (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880); from the Greek words mikros (small) and metr (having a womb), and the Latin word aurora (sunrise). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Embiotocinae.

Alternate Names: Reef surfperch. In Mexico called mojarra de arrecife or perca.

Identification: Typical perch shape with the longest dorsal fin spines slightly longer or same length as the soft rays. Silvery with blue, green. and black on back; yellow or yellow-orange stripe on sides from the pectoral fin almost to the causdal fin. Triangular, crescent-shaped black patch at base of pectoral fin and a large patch of black-tipped scales between the pectoral and anal fins.     

Size: To 7.1 inches. Those caught off piers are generally 4-6 inches long.

Range: Punta Baja, central Baja California to Tomales Bay.

Habitat: Usually found in intertidal areas in water six feet or less. Generally found over surfgrass and red and green algae; primarily feeds on algae and small invertebrates.

Piers: A fairly rare species to most piers. I’ve only taken two, one from the Gaviota Pier (1996) and one from the Elephant Rock Pier in San Francisco Bay (2006).

Shoreline: An infrequent catch by shore anglers.

Boats: A small, inshore species rarely taken from boats.

Bait and Tackle: Occasionally taken on light tackle by anglers fishing for larger perch. Hook size number 8 and a small piece of bait, especially pile worm.

Food Value: Too small so throw ‘em back.

Comments: An attractive little perch that should be given the chance to frolic out their lives as nature intended.

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