July 28, 2012

2012 California Road Trip (Day 3)

The GPS was my best friend on this trip. I had resisted relying on a GPS for a very, very long time. I always believe it is much better to navigate by maps. However, I finally gave in on this trip since there were just too many routes to plan.

Today, I had a long day of driving from Los Angeles to Half Moon Bay, approximately 6 hours of continuous driving. I decided to take a couple of strategic stops along the way. I started off on Highway 5 driving west through the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest. The landscape was quite interesting but there were nowhere to stop and take pictures on the steep and windy road. After we drop out of the mountains though, I made a washroom stop and snapped a picture back toward the mountains.

From Bakersfield to Coalinga, the landscape was mostly flat and the road was straight. There were many crop fields and cattle farms along the way. It was not uncommon to see trucks and trucks filled with fresh tomatoes this time of year. Passing through one of the few large cattle farms was rather unsightly and stinky since over tens of thousands of cattle out on the open land made quite a mess.

About 4 hours into the drive, the GPS lead me to Highway 152. This was the Pacheco Pass Highway. It was a very scenic route that I was very happy to have driven through. This picture did not do the area justice since much of the beauty was encountered on the many uphill and downhill sections of the drive with its many turns and twists.

Somewhere along the way, I found a little road to pull out and snapped a couple of pictures.

Once in Gilroy, I made a longer lunch stop. My journey then headed north on Highway 101, onto Route 85 and finally Highway 280. At long last, I turned off the highway onto San Mateo Road west toward Half Moon Bay. It was very interest that toward the coast, the cloud cover built and fog enveloped the road as we climbed. There was a lot of traffic for some reason. I later found out that just across the peak, the weather had cleared and it was a beautiful beach day for NorCal. I didn’t know this when we started our descent down the other side of the mountain.

I finally arrived at Half Moon Bay at 2pm. I was a little early and two of my friends had not arrive yet, so I took a few pictures of the area.

At about 3pm, Adam finally arrived. I had a chat with Adam to discuss our game plan. I had left the gear at the car since I was uncertain what I would need. So while I went back to the car to grab my rod and reel, Adam attacked a jetty in the area that we would be fishing on.

The jetty was just under 4000 feet long. It was a long and slow journey across the large boulders. We were planning to fish near the end of the jetty so the long hike was good for my heart LOL. The rocks for most parts were dry and it was easy skipping from one boulder to the next. I did have a scary moment when I lost grip on one stride and almost fell forward. When I arrived, Adam was already well into fishing. Since I didn’t have any suitable lures, he gave me a 6” Big Hammer swimbait and a 1oz darter jig head. We would cast these as far as possible and retrieve it back toward the jetty with a steady retrieve. It was important to crawl these lures up the angled fa├žade or the jetty rock since lingcod and rockfish often hid amongst the rocks.

We fished these for a while without any attention from the fish. Soon, Teng also arrived and we decided to switch up our presentation. Teng rigged me with with a dropshot rig using a length of pencil lead, a weedless hook and a white jerk shad. Both Teng and I fished this dropshot while Adam switched to a 3/4oz darter head and a 4” Berkley Gulp! Shrimp. With the dropshot rig, we would slowly and methodically work the bottom crawling it back toward the jetty then dropping it between crevices.

It was not too long after the switch that Adam hooked into a small Lingcod. Adam said this was his confidence bait. A while later, he found a school of Black Rockfish and caught a couple. Teng had a few hits on the dropshot while I had nary a hit. At about 6pm, Adam had to call it an evening. He gave me a few of the Gulp! Shrimp and wished me all the best. I really did need some luck!

Teng and I fished closer and closer to the end of the jetty. As Adam instructed, I casted the lure out and slowly popped the jig back to the jetty. On one cast, my lure stopped dead on the drop and I set the hook. We were fishing pretty buttoned down drag since we wanted to pull fish out of the rocks quickly, especially the Lingcod. My fish was hooked far out from the jetty and I had a feeling what it could be. It was indeed a Black Rockfish!

Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops) – new species #8.

It was nice to shake the skunk off with a new species.

A little while later, I found the school again and caught another Black Rockfish. I was really hoping for a Lingcod but the fish would not reveal themselves. Just before dark, Teng finally shook the skunk with a Brown Rockfish using the dropshot rig.

By the time we got off the jetty, it was already 9pm. Teng and I visited a restaurant for fishing food that he must have every time he fished here…Popeye’s Chicken! Teng treated me to a great Popeye’s dinner and left me with a number of lures and soft plastics to try the next day. Thanks to Adam and Teng for showing me how to fish the jetty! We parted ways after dinner and I made my way to my motel in Redwood City. It was a little more rundown than I had expected, but I was only really staying there for two nights. At least I had a decent bed to sleep on. I was in bed by 12am since I would challenge the another jetty early next morning.

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