The Fish Sniffer - Rockfish, Lingcod, and Crab abound at the Farallon Islands
Rockfish, Lingcod, and Crab abound at the Farallon Islands

Written By: Forum Member: KidFishRelease, December 26, 2013
Species: Rockfish Lingcod Crabs
Location: Golden Gate,

By now waking up at four in the morning had become a routine for me. I packed my rod, reel, lingcod jigs, and food the night before and tried to get some sleep before the morning drive to Francisco's house. My thoughts revolved around giant lingcod as we drove to the Emeryville Sport fishing dock. As we boarded the New Seeker I was trembling with excitement. I kept telling myself this was going to be the day I landed a legal sized lingcod. I had the proper gear, the right lure, the knowledge, and Francisco, who I consider to be the lingcod master. The Golden Gate Bridge, which had at one point captivated me passed by the boat without a second glance. The sickening roll of the boat as the bow plowed through the ocean waves did not affect me. The two hour ride to the Farallons felt like torture as I fingered the treble hook of my lingcod bar. Finally the islands appeared on the horizon and the fisherman began to zip up their waders and thread their hooks. It was lingcod time.
I started with the generic shrimp fly, knowing I should get some rockfish in the bag before I began the real hunt. As soon as the fly touched bottom the bite began and within minutes two blue rockfish were sitting at the bottom of the sack. By the end of the hour I had reached my limit with a few small ones to boot. It was time to attach my lingcod gear. Rigging a 16 ounce bar I quickly dropped the lure 150 feet to the bottom. Jigging the bar up and down I felt a strong tug. Excited I pulled up a little harder. And then the lure stopped. I had snagged the rocky bottom and doomed my twenty dollar bar. Swearing, I broke off the lure and rigged the shrimp fly back onto my line. However within minutes something big grabbed the fly. I thought it was a rockfish... until the rod bowed and the line sung from the powerful reel. Leaning my rod against the rail I gently began to reel the lingcod towards the boat. Suddenly my 85 lb. braid snapped without a warning. After much rod pounding and screaming I inspected my rod guide. The inside was chipped, creating a sharp edge that had sawed through my braid. If I wanted to catch a lingcod I was going to need to borrow another rod. I pleaded with the deckhand, and he generously lent a spare rod that the captain had been working to repair. Gratefully I got back to fishing the only shrimp fly I had left. However I soon realized that the reel was not quite fixed. The handle was loose, the drag was broken, and several gears protruded from the reel in various areas. To make matters worse, a lingcod grabbed onto my line.
And so the fight began, a strenuous and painful process of rising a large fish from 160 foot depths. My hands were bleeding from where the gears had sliced them and my palms had developed blisters from the salt chaffed handle. I was breathing hard, and the captain wanted to move the boat. Every fisherman was waiting for me to bring my fish in. Twenty minutes later the fish was within gaffing range. The deckhand expertly positioned the gaff under the fish... and missed the lingcod. My heart stopped as he nicked the line. With sudden speed the deckhand repositioned the gaff and pierced my prize fish. The lingcod came aboard, a massive 18 pound beast. Jumping around the deck, I probably looked like a little kid. I didn't care. I had caught my lingcod.
The rest of the day blurred by. I lost the jackpot by half a pound, received a full limit of crabs and journeyed back to San Francisco. The odds had been against me. I had been using a shrimp fly, a broken reel, and old line. And yet I had done it. I savored every spray of salt water that came over the side of the boat. I marvelled at the imposing Golden Gate Bridge. My hands raw and bloody I excitedly told my story to anyone who would listen the entire way home.

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