Fishin’ That Half Moon Bay Jetty

Was going to go out and fish with some NCKA guys around 2pm on Sunday, but something came up that I had to take care of…wound up not being free until 3:30 and was too late to go running off after them…

So I decided to just hit up the jetty and scope it out.  Haven’t been on the south jetty in months and months, figured it would be good to revisit it and brush up on my spots.
Here’s a quick video covering how to hook bait when going for eels.

Eels have a tendency to only grab a really small chunk of bait and tug & tear a piece off.  If you don’t place bait on there properly you can have a hard time actually hooking up.  Sometimes the larger ones will straight up inhale bait, but this is more uncommon from what I’ve experienced.

Headed out to the south Half Moon Bay jetty and got there around 4pm.  Tide was pretty high, I’m not sure I even made it to the 20 market before I had to get onto the jetty.  Bait for the day was a little bit of squid, and a little bit of shrimp.  Figured I’d give both a shot to further compare the effectiveness.  Haven’t had much luck with shrimp while kayaking, but I didn’t test too much either.

Started fishing around the 2nd rock pile out cropping.  There’s a few times when you’re walking along and there’s a part of the jetty that sticks out like a horizontal hill.  Rock piles are made up of smallerish rocks.  These tend to be decent areas for eel, and I wanted to try out my unagi sauce.

Can’t remember the #s exactly, one of my biggest problems fishing the jetties, but I know all eels caught sunday were between the 30 and 45 markers.  I’ve had success in other areas, but generally the 35-48 areas have been the most consistent for me.  I’ve seen legal lings brought in and hooked into what felt like lings in the 42-48 hour as well.

Here’s the footage for the first eel I pulled up

Fish on at 4:47.


Here’s some tips.  If you’re running 80-100lb line, you can just muscle the eels out.  Ignore this next bit.  If you’re like me and running 15-20lb line to add some sport to it, then pay close attention to the video.
You’ll notice I slowly work the eel out.  There’s constant tension, but I’m not forcing it out, just slowly tugging.  Not sure if it happened with this eel, but some times they’ll get a burst of energy, and tug hard enough to snap your line if you don’t give a little.

Now its important to note I don’t mean open up the bail and give slack line.  Whatever you do, keep tension on there.  Keeps the hook in the way it should be, tires the fish/eel out, and lets you react faster to what its doing.  So what do you do then?  You drop your rod tip slightly.  Follow it down a bit.  Once you’ve not given enough a few times you get a feel for when your line is about to snap.  Base your judgement on how much to give on how close you feel you are to snapping the line.

Another important thing to keep in mind, if at all possible, NEVER give any ground before you’ve made some.  I’ve found that if you hook into a big eel, wimp out and give some ground right off the bat, I lose the fight 90% of the time.  They either get into a spot where they have plenty of leverage, or they manage to snag the hook on something, get free, and leave you stuck.

Anyhow.  Next step, keep working the eel out slowly.  You’ll feel tugs, you’ll feel just solid resistance.  Slowly apply more pressure (as long as you’re not risking a snapped line from a tug) and soon you’ll feel the eel sliding closer and closer.  Often times as soon as their head reaches the cave entrance, they’ll throw out another burst of tugging.  Here’s the hardest part in my opinion (yes, even harder than getting them to take the hook!), be ready to give some ground right here.  Especially if its a large eel.  I’ve had times where I had the head out 3-4 times and had to let it go back in a few inches.  Just remember, the eel will tire out faster than you will.  Just rinse and repeat until you get the head out.  Once you’ve got about 1/2 the eel out, you can just muscle the rest.  It won’t have much leverage left to work wtih.

Then you’re set!


Ran into a few crabs.  Here’s a barely legal 4″ brown rock crab

Also nabbed a 5.5″ brown, but threw it back.  Rock crabs just not worth the trouble unless you get 3-4 since pretty much only the claws have any real amount of meat.

Here’s the second eel I caught on Sunday.  Let it go since it was too small & skinny to bother with eating.

Fish on at 3:20.

Wound up with some other bites, but most of the rest of the time was spent lolligagging around on the jetty and just enjoying the weather.

Went home and threw eel fillets in the pan to fry in unagi sauce.  Was too late to really do it right.  Turned out pretty tasty, and learned some things for next time to try!


Oh and on the way back in from the jetty I passed some people who had fish, so they’re certainly out there.  I got what I went out for though :]  Until next time!

Leave a Reply