A plethora of interesting sites and pretty sights, and what goes up must come down—right? If you head north from Trinidad to Crescent City on Friday, but are going to have a fishing derby in Trinidad on Sunday morning, then that means a return trip south on Saturday. The main purpose of Friday’s trip to Crescent was to fish Citizens Dock and the “B” Street Pier. However, 40-50 mph winds accompanied by the occasional gusts topping 60 mph had ended Friday night’s visit to “B” Street and meant no fishing. Nevertheless, after the long trip north the pier had to be visited—and fished
Saturday morning was still windy, probably 20-30 mph, and still too windy for most, but I would give it a try. You couldn’t really cast into the wind and you pretty much HAD to hold your rod if you wanted to detect a bite versus the pulling of the wind, but it was doable. Still, that didn’t mean you would catch fish. The bottom by the “B” Street Pier is primarily mud with a lack of rocks; the main fish on the bottom are flatfish (flounder, sole and sand dabs), rays and skates (caught mainly at night), and several species of perch. Fishing the mid-water to top-water depths can produce pelagic species such as jacksmelt, herring, and jack mackerel (and possibly even Pacific mackerel) when they are present. It can also mean anchovies (and huge schools of the small baitfish were in the bay). I had seen them the prior afternoon at Citizens Dock and now could pretty much tell where they were by the rippled water and the movement of the birds who were following the schools.
Due to the wind, day three would see a little less fishing time than planned, but the fishing time would be replaced by additional time for picture taking, Luckily that’s not a problem because the north coast is full of interesting sites and subjects.
Upon arrival at the pier I found a lone angler and his Mrs. who were visiting from southern California. Big Rich who had accompanied me to Crescent City soon joined our trio of anglers.
The SoCal visitors had quite a bit of food, and crab nets out, but had seen little action and were quickly finding the chilly winds more than a little uncomfortable. We had a nice talk and discussed fishing in SoCal but then the Mrs. headed to their car and a short time later she was joined by her husband. That left Rich and myself to discuss the important things in life—our fishing adventures. Unfortunately talking about fishing was about all we had to occupy our attention since the actual catching of fish was not yielding fish. There didn’t seem to be anything biting on the bottom except crabs and though a few Dungeness crabs were brought in on the fishing lines they were illegal (too small, out of season, and landed on a fishing line) and had to be returned to the water.
I had however noticed those baitfish ruffling the surface of the bay. It wasn’t clear what the fish actually were, perhaps anchovies, perhaps herring, perhaps mackerel, but something was there. By this time Rich and I had been joined by another angler who was casting out a Sabiki-type live bait rig for jacksmelt. He wasn’t getting any smelt but I decided to put on a Sabiki rig myself, one with smaller hooks. I would try to acquire some fresh bait.
Casts with the Sabiki rig began to yield anchovies. The anchovies were quickly placed on ice in the bait cooler for later use. I kept some and gave some to Big Rich but about that time he received a call saying that he needed to head over to the mountains to Redding. Adios to Big Rich and I was alone on the pier with the one other lone angler. By this time the wind was again picking up and I too was thinking of leaving but decided to see if anything would hit on a live anchovy. Although most of the anchovies were injured from the Sabiki, some were lively and those were sent back to the water on a hook. Casts out on the bottom continued to be attacked by gnarly crustaceans — the crabs. Next up was to try the mid-suface waters to avoid the crabs.
A short cast out from the pier soon had a hard strike and I knew a decent fish had selected my bait for food. But what was it? I took my time since I was using my light rod and reel with 12-pound line and lo and behold when I got it to the top it was a salmon. Luckily, my new fishing buddy was willing to grab my net and soon we had the fish up to the surface of the pier.
The fish was removed from the net, quickly measured at 22 7/8-inches, a photo was snapped, and it was quickly returned to the water. The salmon had proved to be a silver salmon which, in California, is no longer a legal species. Still, it provided the largest fish of the trip and something to remember.
At this point I decided to call it a day at the pier. I had a long ride south to Trinidad and my motel in Arcata and wanted to stop and take some pictures along the way. However, before leaving Crescent City I did decide to drive over to the fish cleaning station in the harbor.
On a recent trip to the area I had seen some large Pacific halibut (50-80 pounds) that had been brought in by boats and wanted to see if any more of the large fish were present. Anglers were cleaning fish but not halibut. Instead they had a number of good-sized albacore that they had gotten far offshore. Nice fish but I would never have been able to stand the rough seas they had encountered.
Interesting (and good eating) fish but it was the time to head south.
As always the trip through the redwoods was beautiful and demanded a few pictures.
The next stop was at Orick to see some elk!
Next stop would be Trinidad where I hoped to take a few pictures before fishing.
Unfortunately upon arrival at Trinidad I was once again greeted by wind that had a more than fleeting resemblance to a small hurricane. Here, even more than Crescent City, high winds can make fishing from the pier a near impossible task. But, there would be more time for pictures so I hiked up the hill overlooking the pier and took a few (and it’s a good thing we no longer use film).