The 2008 Avila Pier Get Together —

In 2008 a group of anglers from (Pier Fishing In California) had a Get-Together at the Central California town of Avila. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there but they had a great time — and caught several nice halibut. Herein the messages from the people that attended.

The group at the Get Together

(Front row: Huntress and friend, Sylvana, red fish (Robert) — Back row: KingfisherBro (Matthew), Kingfisher, Keli Cruise and wife Cindy, mahigeer (Hashem), kelpangler (Eugene), Gordo Grande (Ross) and wife, illcatchanything2 (Brian) and riorust (Dave)

Date: August 24, 2008

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Gordo Grande

Subject: Mid-State Get-Together Aftermath…

It’s Sunday night, and I’m still dead tired, but I can’t go to bed without posting a report. I think our first mid-state get-together was a smashing success, and everyone involved said we have to do it again. Many thanks to Santa who helped with the planning and did quite a bit of scouting ahead of time. Our first surprise of the day was when Santa found out that the police weren’t ticketing parked cars around the pier. We thought we were all in for some long walks from the free parking zones, but it turns out that we were able to park right next to the pier the whole time. It sure saved a lot of wear and tear on our feet.

Santa (Mike Spence) and Mrs. Santa (Cheryl)

The next surprise was when I spotted a certain mad Turkish/Iranian strolling the pier, who had surprised us with his attendance. The shock was almost too much for me, and I attempted to leap from the pier in fear, only to be pulled back in by my family members.

We had a great turnout for our inaugural event, although we were disappointed that several people who signed up couldn’t make it. However, that usually happens with GTs to some extent, so we didn’t let it stop us from having a good time. Most of the folks congregated in the mid-pier area, thanks to the advice of our locals, Polishfromthedeep (Karl), Kingfisher (Brian), and his little brother, KingfisherBro (Mathew). These guys knew this pier well, and they were tuned in perfectly to the halibut bite. Polish drew first blood with a legal hali, soon followed by Kingfisher and KingfisherBro. Between the three of them, I think they pulled in 5 halis, four of which were legal.

Their technique was flawless. I’ll let them fill you in on the details, if they think it’s a good idea. It’s up to them to do so, because I wouldn’t want to blow up a good spot by giving away their trade secrets. Suffice it to say, I was grateful for their advice, and used it as best as I could.

As usual for our GTs, we weren’t wanting for good eats. Hashem (aka BananaMan) brought along some cioppino, which he heated up on a propane grill beneath the restaurant at the foot of the pier. Riorust’s pal Ken made some killer ceviche. Kcruise and Mrs. Kcruise contributed greatly in the sandwich department, and Santa brought along a ton of eats as well. Next year I’ll try to remember to bring along a table so we can set it all up on the pier. Please forgive me if I’ve forgotten to mention anyone’s contribution.

These little sea stars provided us with some cheap entertainment. There didn’t seem to be any crabs at this pier, but the sea stars took their place, snatching bait every chance they got. It seemed they would wait for something to hit a bait, and if the bait died these guys would grab on for dear life. Several of us brought up half-eaten mackerels with sea stars wrapped around them. This is Kcruise’s better half, Cindy, showing off one of the little critters.

Dave (riorust) + sea stars = cheap entertainment

Sea star and the mackerel bait it enveloped

Of course, the high point of the day for me was catching this beast [angel shark], who hit a live mackerel. I was using the same technique that the guys were using to catch all the hali’s. As I was pulling it up I thought it was a ray, because that was the way he was fighting. No headshakes, just a lot of dead weight and an effort to get under the pier. I was able to horse him away from the pier and out of the kelp, where he was expertly netted by Kcruise. Many thanks for the assist, Kel. See, El Gordo actually does catch fish from time to time. Santa was nice enough to clean him for me, because he knew an amateur like me would botch the job. It took him about an hour-and-a-half from start to finish. He and I split the filets, and mine are destined for the vacuum packer in the morning. BTW, I’m happy to report that this beast was hauled in on my G-dude Special, custom wrapped Rainshadow Forecast, 8 ft. 2-piece rod which I won at the Fred Hall Show last year. The reel was a Penn 535 GS spooled with 20 lb. mono.

Ross Kestin (Gordo Grande), Kelli Cruise (kcruise), and an angel shark

It’s always great seeing Redfish who, with his girlfriend Sylvana (did I get that right?), comprised our Northern California contingent. Please forgive me if I got her name wrong. I think catching this guy made Red’s trip down the coast worthwhile.

            At the risk of forgetting someone, the attendees were Gordo and family, Santa and Mrs. Santa, I’llcatchanything2 (great to finally meet you Brian), Polishfromthedeep, Kingfisher and Kingfisherbro, Kcruise and family, Huntress and friend, Red and friend, Riorust and pal Ken, Kelpangler and family, and a certain mad Turkish/Iranian. Here’s my best version of the group shot. Next time I think we should shoot the group shot first so we don’t lose anyone.

Posted by kcruise

Great to meet folks and put a lot of faces to names! We had Rats from all over show up! The weather was great for this as well. And the 6 or so hali’s and one angel shark really made for a great day. Looking forward to the next gathering.

Kelli Cruise and his wife Cindy

Kelli Cruise and Cindy caught several small squid

Posted by kingfisher

Yesterday was AWSOME to say the least.  Beautiful weather, perfect size baitfish, good fishing, and of course GREAT company and food.  It was great to finally put faces with names. Aanyways back to the fish… caught one hali about 26 inches and my little brother caught some too… but you’ll have to wait for him tell you about it. Thanks again for organizing this,  Both my bro and I had loads of fun.

Matthew (KingfisherBro) and a nice halibut

Posted by PolishFromTheDeep

I had an awesome time!  It was definitely cool to meet everybody and to catch some nice fish while we were at it…. sorry i had to book but i BARELY had enough time to get to work. Thanks again to everyone who organized the event, especially Ross. Ps. next time I will have some more funds and I’ll bring/ make some food…. maybe something Polish

Karl (PolishFromTheDeep) and a halibut

 Posted by Gordo Grande

The angel shark taped out at about 45 inches, and weighed 25 lbs on the little scale I keep in my tackle box. It took Santa about 90 minutes to clean the darn thing. Almost forgot… thanks to Kingfisher and KingfishersBro for the halibut filets. My wife is going to love them!

Posted by illcatchanything2

Again, thanks to all who set up a great GT. It was a blast. Great meeting everyone, and I cant wait until the next one. I was bummed at having to leave early, and really bummed at missing GG pull up that shark (good job). Thanks again, and congrats to all on some great fishing!!

Posted by kelpangler

Sorry I missed ya polish, but nice to meet the others for the first time like kcruise and family, kingfisher and his bro (showcasing your fishing skills), redfish and his gf, and illcatchanything. Great to see Santa and the SoCal regulars, too. Avila turned out to be a perfect location with its nice beach town atmosphere and picturesque pier. Lots of bait–perfectly sized mackerel on Saturday and plenty of anchovies on Sunday–and a good number of halibut coming over the rail, but I still came away empty-handed. No problem, Hashem kept me entertained. Ross, thanks for taking time out of your own vacation to plan this get-together for us. Looking forward to next time, maybe Monterey?

Eugene (kelpangler) on the right and Sylvana

 Posted by pier roller

Boy I am sorry I missed that party, I just could not make it down there… What rig set up did you use for the halibut and what kind of bait did you use?

Posted by Gordo Grande

Sorry I didn’t mention the rigging. We were all using sliding egg sinkers tipped with live mackerels that we caught there at the pier.

Posted by Mahigeer

[Edited] We got to the pier around 9:00AM. We parked at the Front St. and planned to be back before the 3hrs. dead line. Later I found out from the bait shop owner that the city in order to calm the angry residents, does not give ticket for staying longer. I told Santa about it and in turn he told Gordo. That made it very convenient but slightly risky.

We set up at the deep end and the first family we met was the Kcruise and company. They set up on the other side and we fished and socialized together.  Next was either polishfromthedeep or Santa. I asked everybody that I met to be sure that they did not say anything about me being there.

I really wanted to surprise Gordo, and even went to the length of having Dave ask questions on the board on my behalf before the gathering. Everybody cooperated and Mr. GG was surprised when he saw me coming and pulling my pier cart. He wanted to jump in to the water. His family prevented him. Personally I would have let him jump. Maybe then I could have gotten the big angel shark.

Well it was lunchtime and I was told that I could heat up the Cioppino at the beach. I had six bags of Trader Joe’s Cioppino plus another bag of frozen seafood in a large pot. Due to the large mass, some prevailing wind, and the small burner, the darn thing took 3Hrs. to boil. All that I time, I am hearing that halibut was being caught but I had to stay with the food. Fortunately for me Teddy Bear (Mrs. Claus) was there to keep me company and provide me with missing items. Dave and some other rats, were in and out and helping. Ken the master chef, sautéed the seafood and I added it to the mix. Finally I moved the “soup kitchen” to the pier and started serving Cioppino and Ceviche. From the looks of it, they were a success. Along with other food and drinks and so on provided by others, we did not starve. Later I distributed some items courtesy of NOAA.

The live bait on my rod was mostly ignored by the fish. Ken and Eugene and his relative and Kcruise were getting bait to share so I did not bother with bait fishing. Halibut or bust for me. Around 7:00PM we headed back to our camp.  

Hashem (Mahigeer) and a pigeon

Posted by red fish

I think I will add a few highlights of my venture from the Bay. First of all, thanks for the fine job of netting Hashem, and the tip about Snookie fishing light… I caught that fish on 8# test on the “bait-rod” with 3/4 oz. egg sinker and 15# leader with the mini-macs we were able to catch for bait.

I had NO idea the thresher aren’t really at Avila, but picked up on that after awhile after I saw the thresher-kings, Kingfisher and PFTD, weren’t fishing for them at the event. Kingfisher told me Pismo and beyond was more of the area to look for them.

Anyway, since I started with the end of the trip, I will just say, starting from the beginning, I made a last minute decision to confirm going after having returned home from Clear Lake one day earlier. A quick rearrangement of just the necessary fishing and camping gear, and a mad dash south on 880 to 101, cut through the Salinas Valley and King City… and away we go… BTW-was lucky enough to make reservations at Avila Hot Springs Camp/RV just the day before. Ended up getting out of town Friday at 2:45p and ending up in Avila at 7pm because there was a little traffic way down on the way, south end of Silicon Valley almost down to Gilroy. Showed up at Hot Springs, looked over our site, and decided to see if we could find accommodations at a hotel perhaps the first night instead of pitching the tent at that point.

Ended up in Pismo (because there is a greater selection of motels than Avila) and ended up at the Beachwalker Inn for $99 after consulting a local store owner at the market on Main St. He says, “There is a place just to the right of the gas station on the corner.” The first hotel on the corner was a dump at $69, but a stone’s throw from it on the same block was the Beachwalker Inn (much like a Best Western).

I find out later ICA is like the next hotel over at the Seal Beach Inn. Important stuff to know, because we ventured to Avila, and the gal at the Light House Inn at Avila was like:, “sure, we have a room, #206, that will be #345.00 and it has an ocean view.” BTW, lucked up and saw Hashem, Dave, and Ken just leaving Avila as we drove up looking around when we first arrived after leaving the Light House. So, after a little more investigation, we find that there is a really good fish n’ chips place on Front St. after almost breaking the bank at Gieuseppe’s Restorante Italiano.

So, later that evening (Friday) after settling in, we take a walk and discover Pismo Beach Pier is (2) blocks away from where we are lodging. Saw a couple guys out there as by now it is 11p. The next day, I’m like: “bait rigs, damn, should have stopped at Long’s in Rockridge (Oakland) before I left.” Well, after a little misdirection, I find out from a brief inquiry that there is a plethora of stores just 3 miles south of Pismo, first on the west side of the freeway, then on the east side. So, finally, I see the Rite-Aid, KMart. and finally the WalMart where I score the $1.54 Blackbelt Sabiki’s with the #6 hooks to make bait with. A couple of packs of hot dogs, hot dog buns, a half-case of soda, and away we go to Avila… about 1:15p Saturday afternoon now.

Robert (red fish) and Sylvana

Luck was still with us as we showed up at Avila and got a parking spot on the street as someone was just coming out. Was met and greeted by Santa and his merry helpers and was able to use Santa’s cart to haul my stuff to the boardwalk and onto the pier. *The fishing stuff is covered in the reports from this point* After the event, pitched a tent at Hot Springs as we were able to cancel our first night’s RSVP and opt for one-night-only Saturday night. It was pretty cool because they let us check in early, pitch our tent around 12:45pm, and then we continued down the road straight ahead to the event.Later, at the end of the event, we came back and had pizza in the restaurant at Hot Spings, and later joined Hashem, Dave, and Ken for Rakki, a blazing fire, and post-event-conversation. In the morning, it was a beeline back to the Bay heading out at 10am right after Hashem’s group for the 242.78 mile drive ahead. Was going to stop at Hearst Castle, but motored on. I was thinking about Anderson’s Split Pea too (as I have seen their hwy billboard for years)… oh well, another time!

Robert (red fish) and a nice halibut

Posted by Gordo Grande

Started eating my shark today. I took a couple a couple of big fillets, added the halibut that Kingfisher gave me, and some shrimp, and made a big pot of Cioppino!  Man, it was good! You guys were right…that shark is definitely good eating.

Pictures taken by Hashem (Mahigeer), Kelli Cruise, and Ross Kestin (Gordo Grande)

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