A visit to the Eureka Boardwalk

Last weekend saw a visit to the north coast for the Trinidad Youth Fishing Tournament. I drove up a couple of days early so that I could fish in Eureka, Crescent City and possibly Brookings. I did fish all those towns but not necessarily where I originally planned to fish. In Eureka I found the Del Norte Street Pier, or more properly its parking lot, the center of a homeless encampment. And though I imagine most of the people were safe there were a couple that looked downright dangerous and I did not want to leave my car in the parking lot while heading out to the pier. Instead, I decided to go fishing the next morning at the Eureka Boardwalk where I had had some success a few years previous. It turned out to be not only a good fishing trip but also a BEAUTIFUL morning.

Signs on the Boardwalk

The Boardwalk was largely deserted when I arrived at 7:15 but I was met by a beautiful sky along with a couple of locals who would regale me with stories of their past for the next two hours.

A beautiful sunrise with Woodley Island sitting a short distance away in the bay

Although the tide was not full, it was high enough for some decent fishing. On a low (or low, low) tide, the waters around the Boardwalk can better be described as a mudflat.

The Boardwalk and bay looking toward Woodley Island

A stunning morning

Looking toward Indian Island. As usual, sea gulls are a constant companion at the piers

A commercial fish processing plant sits just down the shoreline from the Boardlwalk. A ship was unloading a load of albacore while I was there

Sea gulls are always close

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk and a changing sky

Although the sky was beautiful it was also time to see what was biting. I rigged up a high/low with some pileworms and shrimp as bait and dropped it down by the rocks near the Boardwalk

Just about as soon as I dropped the rig into the water I felt a couple of taps on my bait and I knew there were some perch to be had

The local I was talking to noticed the taps on the rod and mentioned them. Yes, I said, there is a perch checking out the bait.

Shortly thereafter I pulled in a white seaperch and my new friend came over to admire the fish. I asked him if he would hold the fish so I could get a picture and he oblidged. I released the fish to fight another day while my friend continued describing his career as a fisherman in Alaska, Oregon and California. His stories of giant halibut and hard fighting salmon seemed to make my perch pale in comparison but that was then and this was now.

The sky had changed color but was now rippled with some interesting clouds


Different but still beautiful

After a couple of white seaperch, I pulled in a striped seaperch and asked my new found friend to once again hold the fish while I took a picture

The Boardwalk

Although the perch continued to bite, they were now joined by smaller shinerperch and bothersome bullheads (staghorn sculpin). I decided to take my longer rod and cast out a Sabiki to see if I could get some sardines for fresh bait. Three casts produced five sardines.

Woodley Island

About this time my companion left to talk to a young lady who was parked by the Boardwalk, walking a police dog, and (I think) looking to either buy or sell some pot. I continued to cast out the Sabiki and was joined by a new local who said he was from New Bedford, Mass and had been a commercial fisherman all over the East Coast. He began to tell me about the giant striped bass he used to catch as a kid and the swordfish he had helped catch on the long-line boats. The storied made sense and enlivened  the fishing.

By this time the sardines had disappeared and been replaced by anchovies which while coming in 2-3 at a time were not what I wanted. However, my new companion said he had a handline and could use some bait. He was soon the proud owner of several sardines and a plethora of anchovies. It was now time to head north to Crescent City since I knew I would be stopping to take some pictures.

A research boat owned by Humboldt State University

Another boat/ship

They were still unloading albacore from the Nanbellis Jo and apparently cleaning out the hold since a steady stream of blood was flushing into the bay

I was told this house is owned by a doctor who rows his rowboat across the bay into downtown Eureka each day. I wouldn’t mind owning that house.

A few more people were gathering on the Boardwalk

It was finally time to bid the Boardwalk adieu!

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A visit to the Brookings Harbor Pier in Oregon

The pier in Brookings Harbor is a public pier but unlike California where public piers do not require a license, you do need one in Oregon. The one day license I bought was $19.

In September of 2014 I attended an Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) conference in Smith River. As always, I enjoyed the beautiful area and made sure to visit the piers in Crescent City that were a mere twenty minutes away. The last day, I decided to visit Brooking, Oregon which sits just four miles inside the state line from California.

The pier sits above rocks lining the shore of Chetco River

My main quest was to determine if there were any piers at Brookings since no one I talked to could provide an answer to that question. Lo and behold there was a small pier of sorts in the harbor and soon after I had a couple of rods rigged up and was fishing.

In season there can be a lot of boaters seeking out salmon

The action wasn’t great but an hour and fifteen minutes produced five fish—two black rockfish, two kelp greenling (one a nice 20 inch-long fish), and one striped seaperch.

Black Rockfish

Kelp Greenling

This year (2016) I had a new chance to return while once again visiting the north coast. This time I had a little longer visit and while there caught another nice mix of fish—three small copper rockfish, one striped seaperch, one cabezon and a still unidentified sculpin.

The pier is divided into several section; not sure why.

Looking up the river and towards the harbor

The pier looking toward the mouth of the river.

Copper Rockfish

Boaters were catching salmon

Striped Seaperch

Lots of boats

Small cabezon

Half of the boaters seemed to have a dog in their boat

Unidentified sculpin (checking with the experts)

More people were crabbing than fishing

This angler was using an Eagle Claw star crab trap for his crabs

A lot of Dungeness crabs but almost all were too small

This angler was using his rod and reel and a collapsible crab trap for his crabs but with limited success

Although not in California, I think I will be adding the pier to Pier Fishing In California given its proximity to the state.

A  carving near the beach

Looking up the beach to the north

Looking down the beach to the south

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2016 Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby

The Trinidad Pier

It was windy the night before but Sunday, September 25, 2016 turned out to be a beautiful day at Trinidad, the small town located on California’s scenic redwood-forested, northwest coast just 24 miles north of Eureka. It was a perfect day to go fishing!

Getting the loaner rods and reels ready

Luckily, a kids fishing derby just happened to be scheduled at the Trinidad Pier. The event was the 3nd Annual Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers, Pacific Outfitters, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Mary Patyten setting up the California Fish and Wildlife Display unit

The United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) banner

Getting the prizes and trophies ready to go

Free loaner rods and reels, free terminal tackle, free bait, free hot dog lunches, raffle prizes, and a winner in each age group helped generate excitement. In response, 96 youngsters turned out to enjoy the short-sleeve weather and fishing which, although a little slow, did produce a variety of fish—cabezon, buffalo sculpin, kelp greenling, and shinerperch.

Carrie Wilson from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife helping with registration

It was beautiful shorts and short sleeve shirt weather

 As at the previous tournaments, a large group of parents and friends, estimated at 200+ people (not counting dogs) also attended making the event a true family event, one full of smiles and good-will.

The first fish of the day was a kelp greenling caught by Malaki Costa

Getting the whole family involved.

There were a LOT of families

Catching any fish?

Is this the way?

Either let me fish or give me that sandwich!

First fishing trip?

She’s ready to catch a fish

I hope I catch a fish

Showing ‘em how it’s done.

Are those good raspberries?

Family time!

Let me show you how to hold that reel

Bonding!

What a grin!

It is always special when a father takes the girls out fishing!

Lots of smiles!

Family time!

Who’s going to catch the fish?

Parents and grandparents!

Looks like they are set.

Pretty nice weather for the coast.

A lot of smiles.

They’re all ready.

I think a fish is going to bite.

Hey Mom!

Sitting back and enjoying life.

Nothing like taking your kid fishing.

I can’t wait for the hot dogs, I’m hungry now.

Not everyone wants their picture taken.

Nice!

They look like fishermen!

We’re ready.

What a smile!

A little one!

Life is good.

Dad’s teaching their daughters to fish is special!

A budding “Lady Angler”

Lots of free stuff!

Ed Roberts of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Mary Patyten of the California Department of Fish and Wiildlife

A nice crowd.

The pier

Grant Rodin of the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria.

Just a boy and his dog!

An Orioles fan!

Dad and son!

Group effort.

I like that flag!

When things got a little slow a few of the youngsters decided to check out the local family of otters. River otters I’ve been told even though these favor the salty Trinidad Harbor.

Back to fishing.

What a pretty day!

The fish don’t always bite.


She’s got her own rod and reel.

Waiting for a bite!

Maybe the dog is waiting for the hot dogs to be finished?

Buds!

No fish!

A crowded pier!

Under the pier!

Gorgeous day!

Looking up at the lighthouse from the pier.

Each age group had a winner with each winner receiving a trophy, a beautiful certificate from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and an autographed copy of Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones

Age group winners: 3-5-year-old winner—Malaki Costa (Trinidad); 6-year-old winner—Sonny Hopper (McKinleyville); 7-year-old winner—Dylan Collart (McKinleyville); 8-year-old winner—Jasiah Wheeler (Trinidad): 9-year-old winner—Jocelyn Sundberg (McKinleyville); 10-year-old winner— Emma Sobehrad (McKinleyville); 11-year-old winner—Gabriella Davidson (Trinidad): 12-year-old winner—Andrew Leverett (Eureka); 13-year-old winner—Devon Rodriguez (Trinidad); 14-year-old winner—Alaura Romo (Eureka); 15-year-old winner—Cameron Romo (Eureka). Four of the winners were repeat winners—Malachi Costa who won in 2014, Sonny Hopper Jocelyn Sundberg and Alaura Romo who won or tied their age group divisions in 2015.

The 3-5-year-old winner—Malaki Costa (Trinidad) and KJ

The 6-year-old winner—Sonny Hopper (McKinleyville) and KJ

The 7-year-old winner—Dylan Collart (McKinleyville) and KJ

The 8-year-old winner—Jasiah Wheeler (Trinidad) and KJ

The 9-year-old winner—Jocelyn Sundberg (McKinleyville)  and Kj

The 10-year-old winner— Emma Sobehrad (McKinleyville) and KJ

The 11-year-old winner—Gabriella Davidson (Trinidad) and KJ

The 13-year-old winner—Devon Rodriguez (Trinidad) and KJ

The 14-year-old winner—Alaura Romo (Eureka) and Kj

The 15-year-old winner—Cameron Romo (Eureka) and KJ

Donating money, food and gifts for the meals, insurance and prizes was a variety of different groups and businesses—Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA), Pacific Outfitters, United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), Ken Jones—Pier Fishing in California (pierfishing.com), and Ed Roberts. A custom built rod made by Dan Troxel of BassMan Dan’s Custom Fishing Rods was raffled off with proceeds going to pay next year’s insurance costs.

The last events were the raffles  of which there were two. The first was the raffle for the custom built rod made by Dan Troxel of BassMan Dan’s Custom Fishing Rods.

Dan Troxel of BassMan Dan’s Custom Fishing Rods and the lucky winner of his rod.

Last but not least was a plethora of raffle prizes for the youngsters. There were not enough gifts for every youngster to receive a prize but the majority received prizes.

Organizers of the derby were Ed Roberts of the California Fish and Wildlife Department, Ken Jones of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) and pierfishing.com, and Grant Roden of the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria.

Ed Roberts (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) and Ken Jones (United Pier and Shore Anglers (UPSAC) and Pier Fishing In California (pierfishing.com)

Grant Roden of the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria and Ken Jones (United Pier and Shore Anglers (UPSAC) and Pier Fishing In California (pierfishing.com)

Members of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

A big thanks to the various members of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who attended the event, helped out (in many ways) and served as educators to a  future legion of anglers. Attending were: Mary Patyten, Carrie Wilson, Dan Troxel, Dustin Hixon, Matt Wells, Dave Walker, Rob Mengel and, of course, Ed Roberts.

The day was over, the crowd dispersed, and the pier now empty of anglers. A trip back up the hill, a short stop at the lighthouse to bid adieu for another year, and goodby to Trinidad, one of God’s little gifts to us all.

The Trinidad Head Lighthouse

The Trinidad Pier in the afternoon sun

So long for now!

The north woods and coastline — a world class view!

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King Salmon

Order Salmoniformes

 Trouts and Salmon—Family Salmonidae

Adult male — Picture courtesy of NOAA

Species: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum, 1792); from the Greek roots onkos  (hook), rynchos (nose), and tshawytscha (the vernacular name for the species in Alaska and Kamchatka, USSR).

Alternate Names: Chinook salmon, black mouth, spring salmon, tyee (large specimens over 30 pounds), quinnat, hookbill, tchaviche, and tshawytscha. In the 19th century these were called quinnat, California salmon, king salmon, choweecha, Sacramento River salmon (by anglers in California) and Columbia River salmon (by anglers in Oregon and Washington). Called salmón boquinegra in Mexico.

Identification: Body elongate, mouth terminal, large, and teeth moderately sharp. Upper back and all of caudal fin, dorsal fin, and adipose fin have irregular black spots; gums are black at base of teeth.  In saltwater their coloring is blue or greenish-blue to gray or black above, silver below. However, when spawning in freshwater their colors change. Males become very dark with smaller fish often a dull yellow. Larger males are often blotchy, dull red on sides.  Females become blackish in color.

Adult female — Picture courtesy of NOAA

Size: Up to 58 inches and 135 pounds; those caught off piers rarely exceed 20 pounds and most are under 10 pounds. The California record for an ocean caught king salmon is 65 lb 4 oz caught near Crescent City in 2002.

Range: Bahia de Sebastian Vizcaino, central Baja California, to Point Hope, Chukchi Sea, Alaska, with strays across northern Alaska to Coppermine River in the Canadian Arctic; along the Asian Pacific coast from the Anadyr River, Russia to Hokkaido, northern Japan.

Habitat: King salmon are anadromous, spending part of their life in fresh water and part in salt water. Most of their adult life is spent in salt water before returning to their home stream, spawning, and dying.

King Salmon caught by “Sitting BIll” at the Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara in 1997

Piers: As a general rule, few salmon are taken from southern California piers. While I have witnessed a salmon taken at the Balboa Pier, and one at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, I have not seen them from other SoCal piers. However, Snookie, the expert on the Newport and Balboa piers once caught a ten-pound king salmon at Balboa and reports she has seen several king and silver salmon taken at both piers. Perhaps their proximity to the deep water Newport Canyon and its cold waters helps explain the salmon. Most of the king salmon caught from California piers are taken in central and northern California. In central California they primarily are seen between Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay. Best bets: Monterey Wharf #2, Seacliff State Beach Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Pacifica Pier and Fort Baker Pier. Top piers in northern California would be the Point Arena Pier, Trinidad Pier, and the B Street Pier in Crescent City. During some years large runs of salmon take place at Pacifica where as many as a thousand salmon have been landed in a single day. Runs generally start in late June or July and can run for a month or more. In the fall, when the salmon move into the Carquinez Strait on their way upstream (to the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers),  they are frequently caught at both the Benicia 1st Street and 9th Street piers. However, far more salmon are landed by anglers casting from the nearby shoreline areas.

Rose Costa and a king salmon from the Seacliff State Beach pier in 1997

Shoreline: Genereally not taken by shore anglers in ocean areas but caught by anglers in Carquinez Strait and in streams and rivers.

Boats: A major goal of boaters from Avila north to the Oregon Border.

King Salmon at Pacifica Pier, 1998

Bait and Tackle: Live bait is generally the best bait for piers. Usually this means using whatever you can catch via a throw net or a Sabiki (which can injure the fish). Most commonly a small smelt or shinerperch is used although small herring, sardine or anchovy are even better. A second approach is to use a whole dead anchovy on a live bait leader; a float is used in conjunction with a short leader to keep the bait floating just below the surface. It’s a different story when the salmon have moved upriver. By the time they reach the waters at Benicia they have quit eating and are primarily caught on lures. A panoply of lures are used but the favorites at Benicia seem to be spinners — Mepps #5 Aglia or Aglia-e, Mepps Flying C’s (various colors but especially green/yellow), and Vee Zee spinners (made and sold at Benicia Bait & Tackle). Spoons such as Kastmasters Krocodiles also are favored by many.

Snookie and a 10-pound king salmon taken from the Balboa Pier

Food Value: Excellent! One of the best tasting fish in our waters. Rich, dark orange meat with a high fat content. One of the best fish for baking, broiling and smoking.

Comments: Salmon are the most prized of the Pacific northwest fish and Chinook or Kings are the most prized of the prized. Although typically uncommon on piers, they one of the favorite fish for pier anglers. Salmon are one of the favorite fish for pier and boat anglers. Beginning in the mid-’80s, and  occurring several times since, the Pacifca Pier has seen tremendous runs of salmon, primarily king salmon. Some weekends have seen over a thousand fish landed and naturally when that happens  the rails will be lined with anglers. Nevertheless, the results can be worth the hassle.

An excerpt from an article by Tom Stinstra, the preeminent outdoor writer from the San Francisco Examiner, gives a feel of what it can be like during a run of salmon at Pacifica.

“Fine Fishing Off Pacifica”

WHEN IT COMES to fishing, some days you’re the windshield, and some days you’re the bug. At Pacifica Municipal Pier this week, fishermen have felt more like prisoners of hope than anything else, waiting for the annual arrival of salmon, and with it, the best fishing of the year from any public pier in America.

A high fog arrived Tuesday, and with calm seas beneath, schools of anchovies started migrating inshore, marked by gulls and pelicans, circling, diving and feeding. Birds never lie, you know, and most here figure the salmon can’t be far behind, chasing and corralling the anchovies.

“Fishing at the pier is like playing the stock market,” said Jim Klinger, a field scout and Pacifica resident. “One day it’s all limos and Lear jets, the next day you want to be perched on a window ledge on the 30th floor.”

Last year, the salmon arrived on July 8, when 300 salmon were caught at the pier in a few hours, a maniacal but happy scene, and as word circulated overnight around the Bay Area, the 1,000-foot pier became jammed with 800 fishermen the following day. At daybreak, the salmon charged inshore again, and more than 600 were landed by afternoon, then the next day, more than 1,000 were caught, with hundreds of others hooked and lost. It lasted for five days, then after settling down to 50 to 100 salmon per day, another siege ensued for a week, with 300 to 400 fish caught per day. Peaks and valleys, it went up and down like this through August.

To some level, this happens every year, just after the Fourth of July, but nobody knows exactly when the salmon will arrive, and nobody knows exactly how many fish will show, or when they will bite. And that’s when fishermen start thinking about prayer.

“From day to day, even hour to hour, it can be so unpredictable that you never know what’s going to happen next,” Klinger said. “‘Everything seems so temperamental and finicky. It can be the greatest day of your life or the biggest disappointment.”

Over the years, the scene at Pacifica Pier has become a microcosm of urban life in America. Cost is a factor in recreation these days, and not only is fishing at the pier free, but a fishing license is not required either. People can stand shoulder to shoulder here, and despite huge differences in backgrounds, with language and cultural differences the most prominent, they learn to work together anyway. Whether it be loaning a crab net to land and hoist up a big fish, or dipping under and over lines while playing a salmon to avoid tangles, people discover here that you get results by cooperating, just as in urban life.

And just like life elsewhere, everybody can be happy, excited and tense over what is possible on some days, yet surly, closed and grumpy over what seems impossible on others.

—Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Examiner, May 6, 2004

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Silver Salmon

Order Salmoniformes

Trouts and Salmon—Family Salmonidae

Adult male — Picture courtesy of NOAA

Species: Oncorhynchus kisutch (Walbaum, 1792); from the Greek roots onkos (hook), rhynchos (nose), and kisutch (the vernacular name for the species in Alaska and Kamchatka, USSR).

Alternate Names: Coho salmon, silversides, hooknose, hookbill, blueback (young salmon), jack salmon, tschaviche, showitz, quisutsch, and bielaya ryba. Called salmón plateado in Mexico. The English name coho appeared as early as 1878 as co-hu and presumably descended from such similar Indian dialect names as kwahwult (Chilliwack and Musqueam) and kúchuks (Sooke and Saanich). [Pacific Fishes of Canada, J. L. Hart]

Identification: Body elongate, mouth terminal, large, and needlelike teeth. They have irregular black spots on the back and on the upper part of caudal fin; gums are white at base of teeth. Their coloring is metallic blue above and silvery on sides. However, when spawing in freshwater their color changes. Males become dusky or bright green on their upper back and head, bright red on sides, and generally blackish below. The females are less bright—bronze to pinkish red on the sides.

Adult breeding male — Picture courtesy of NOAA

Size: To 38 1/2 inches and 31 pounds. Most taken from piers are under eight pounds.

Range: From Punta Chamalu Bay (or Bahia Camalu), northern Baja California, to Point Hope, Chukchi Sea, Alaska with strays to Prudhoe Bay, Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Along the Pacific Asian coast from the Anadyr River, Russia to northern Korea and northern Honshu Island, Japan.

Habitat: Spends time in both fresh water and salt water. Tends to be near the surface of the water.

Silver Salmon from the Pacifica Pier, 1970s

Piers: Relatively few silver salmon are taken from piers compared to king salmon. Nevertheless, a few are hooked each year north of Monterey Bay. Best bets: Pacifica Pier, Point Arena Pier, Trinidad Pier, and the B Street Pier in Crescent City.

Shoreline: Genereally not taken by shore anglers in ocean areas but caught by anglers in streams and rivers; illegal to keep.

Boats: Once a major goal of boaters but now illegal to keep.

Silver Salmon taken near the surfline at the Capitola Wharf

Bait and Tackle: None since they are illegal.

Food Value: None since they are illegal.

Silver Salmon from the B Street Pier in Crescent City

Comments: A favorite salmon due to its aerial acrobatics. It is now illegal to keep silver salmon in California. Handle with care and return them to the water.

Silver Salmon from the B Street Pier in Crescent City

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