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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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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 09:35 PM

I really enjoyed this post, thank you.

And tagging on, hope someone interested sees it, Sunday is Maverick Surfing Invitational, live streamed, starting at 8 a.m. I think:
Northern California's legendary big wave contest will be held Sunday... "A big storm is coming in and we're expecting waves upwards of 30 feet or more,"

**The contest also will be webcast live, free online. To watch on Sunday** click on http://mavericksinvitational.com/.

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/ticket/archives/2013/01/mavericks-big-w.html#storylink=cpy


 COMMENT 365412P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 09:54 PM

tagging on, is that a positive way to say hijack or off-topic?


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 07:20 AM

Thank you for the wonderful photos and lesson about surf fishing. I've seen these fishermen on the beach by our home for years (Tar Pits), now I'll watch more intently, with more appreciation.


 COMMENT 365459 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 08:29 AM

Thank you for an informative and entertaining article on another facet of life along the coast.


 COMMENT 365548 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 12:32 PM

I've been surf fishing for a number of years but never heard "sharpies" before. Wonder what that stands for? Anyway yes you'll see people fishing the surf all up and down between SB and LA. I'd say it's probably the fishing equivalent to surfing – calm, meditational and you're right very zen-like. Mostly you catch surf perch unless you specifically target some of the other species. Best way in the world to spend a couple of hours and take advantage of the amazing gift of the California coastline. Thanks for posting this. A great resource for more info is www.scsurffishing.com.


 COMMENT 365605 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 02:35 PM

Thank you for a really informative story and amazing photos. I have seen surf fishermen for years and have always wondered what they are fishing for,how successful they are and where the "fun" is in it. And now thanks to you, I know!


 COMMENT 365629 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 04:14 PM

The current fad among surf fishers is to use artificial flies and cast the flies same as fishers do in fresh water lakes and streams. To find out much more, talk to the people at the Artful Angler fly fishing shop in Santa Claus.


 COMMENT 365659 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 06:15 PM

All fly fishing is very zen like and nobody captures it quite like Glenn Yoshimoto. . He has pioneered using flies for surf perch in the Bay area. Beautiful pictures and descriptions. http://www.zenflyfishing.com/


 COMMENT 365961P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-21 07:48 PM

Thanks for the surffishing information. I have been longing to try it and have all the gear to fly fish except waders. I see so many people out between Carp and Ventura but I never see anyone landing a fish. What's up with that?


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