Seeing some surf fishers out by the Elwood Bluffs put me in mind of a summer—damn, more than 20 years ago—when I went out surf fishing. I don’t remember having fished much before that but I was looking that summer for some activity that might get me out a bit, relax me some or provide a mild diversion from my depression sodden state. So I bought a pole and other stuff necessary to catch a fish. We lived down in Santa Barbara then so sometimes I would walk out on the wharf and stand there along side the other fisher persons, many of whom were, at that time, Vietnamese People, who would good at catching stuff.
But since I don’t like being around people that much I would drive mostly to the beach down in Carpenteria or walk as far out on the break water as I could. The break water didn’t have many fisher persons on it probably because there weren’t that many fish out by the break water. So when you surf fish, you throw your line out as far as you can past breakers (which wasn’t necessary at the breakwater since it was already past the surf line). Then you just stand there. You don’t have to expend a lot of energy fishing.
It’s pretty boring really, but with just enough tension from the idea you might catch something, to keep you interested. So I would stand there and get all glassy eyed and sort of sleepy. Jeez, I did this three or four times a week that summer for two sometimes even three hours at a stretch.
I can’t say that I caught much of anything. A couple of sting rays—pulling those in was like pulling in a wet paper sack–a couple of perch, a sea bass, and once I caught a halibut. But it was too small so I threw it back which I was happy to do in any case since I really didn’t want to eat it.
The halibut is a flat fish because it is flat, and is pretty odd looking, since it has both of its eyes on the same side of its head/ body. One side—the one that it keeps down on the ground (since the halibut tends to be a bottom feeder) is all pale and colorless and has no eyes; and the other side has color on it and two eyes poking up.
Once though Carol and I went camping and I started talking with a real surf fisher down on the beach. I say real because he meant business and knew what he was doing. He had two 16 foot poles, held up by containers stuck in the sand, and while I was standing there, the lines started shaking—both poles. He asked me to help with one, so I pulled in the line, and damn but there were six perch because the guy had six hooks on each line and each hook had a perch attached to it. So I got them off as quickly as I could, and stuck on more bait, and threw out the line and bip, bip, bip. I pulled it in and there were three more perch.
So in a fifteen minute stretch, the guy caught about 20 perch. Just like that and then they all went away.