Fishing For Rockfish Off the Coast
It was eight-thirty in the morning, nearly four hours since I had woken up to make the journey to Emeryville marina. My eyes were heavy as we boarded the New Huck Finn at six-thirty which was bound for the Farallon Islands, a rock-fisherman's paradise. But before we were even past the Golden Gate Bridge that captain announced that conditions were too rough to make the run to the islands. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach as I realized that we would be fishing elsewhere. But two hours later I was standing at the bow of the boat, fishing rod in hand squinting my eyes against the fierce wind and ocean spray. The rotting smell of fish mixed with the fresh morning air turning it stale. We were fishing inside Drakes Bay, and the beautiful rocky coast of Point Reyes was still visible, yet the sight of shore sunk my hopes even lower.
Out of all the times I have gone rock fishing I have only fished near the coast once. The action was tough at best, and I ended up with eight tiny rockfish that I felt I bad about keeping. After that experience I was reluctant to fish near the coast again. But there I was, miles from the harbor so I dropped my line down to the shallow bottom of the ocean. The depth of the water was barely sixty feet. Skeptical, I kept my finger on the line settling in for a long wait. And then the line tightened, the rod bent towards the water and my heart shot into my mouth. After a short but satisfying tussle I had my first two rockfish of the day. People began to pull in rockfish all around me with a few shouts of, "LINGCOD!!!" around the boat. The day had begun.
As the hours flew by and the gurney sack around my feet began to fill with rockfish, I felt the stress of the past few weeks begin to fade away. Starting high school has been more difficult than I had anticipated, but riding the boat out into the Pacific provided me with a chance to escape to a more peaceful environment. My mind was transported elsewhere by the throbbing run of a rockfish coupled with the steady ache of my arm.
I ended the day with over twenty blue, yellow, and copper rockfish, each one averaging around two- three pounds. I used the standard shrimp fly, with a fifteen-ounce lingcod jig on the bottom as a sinker / lure. My good fishing friend Francisco and his brother landed several large rockfish and a total of three legal lingcod with eight ounce jigs. Francisco is a great guy who gives up his time to take me along on these rock fishing trips. Without him I would be left at my house with nothing to do. Unfortunately I did not land any lingcod but I intend to nab the big one next time during the crab combo trip in November.
The New Huck Finn blazed across the water with the wind and waves at it's back, seagulls squawking as they dived at the rockfish corpses being tossed off the back. Inside the cabin people discussed their biggest fish over a drink. Outside a teenager leaned on the rail watching the coastline recede into the distance a giddy smile lighting up his face.