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POWDRELL

Carpinteria Fishermen
updated: Jan 19, 2013, 6:28 PM

By David Powdrell

The mindset of a Carpinteria surf fisherman interests me. I find them to be part Zen philosophers, somewhat machismo, usually loners, but consistently lovers of a good fight on the line.

I lack the patience necessary to be a surf fisherman. I wish I had it; but I don't.

Seasoned surf fishermen, aka "sharpies" prefer to wade into the cold water. "Gets the bait into deeper water" one old salty dog told me. I think he wades in to be more connected with his prey, to get a feel for the direction of the ocean current, the ocean temperature, and to get a better "read" on the fish.

Surf fishermen have an interesting lingo. "Match the hatch" means using a bait or lure that mimics the bait present in the ocean. "High sticking" is when one fights a fish with his/her rod at about the 10 o'clock position, which usually leads to a tip breakage. When baiting a line, they might "run squid high and chovie low".

I've learned that sharpies prefer to fish in the early morning or an hour before dusk on an incoming tide. Evidently, the rising water level dislodges small invertebrates in the sand bars, stimulating fish to feed. They also like it when the surf is up a bit. They cast to the edges of sand bars and drop-offs and scan the water looking for fish "highways" or channels with transiting fish in search of food. When surf perch fishing, they try to cast near sand crab beds. They also keep an eye out for signs of bait fish, such as feeding birds and marine mammals and cast into these areas.

Carpinteria surf fishermen are catching surf perch, striped Bass, California Halibut, Jacksmelt, Smelt and small sharks.

There are lots of good online resources to learn more about the sport but a good starting point is the Department of Fish and Game at www.dfg.ca.gov

The next time you stroll a California beach and come upon a surf fisherman, stand back and observe the art of surf fishing. It's a world unto itself.

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