Capitola – A Land Sea of Opportunities

Capitola Pier
We meet again, Capitola

Last Tuesday, 9/9/2014, marked the first time I returned to the site of the [yacht] incident.  For a variety of reasons, I hadn’t been back to Capitola since.  But here we were.  Kara’s brother Andrew had come all the way from Colorado, and by god, we were going to put him on the fish!

We got there early, around 7/7:30am.  Didn’t see anyone else, but we later ran into 2 other Capitola Boat & Bait boats out on the water.  We weren’t the only ones playing hooky from work!  We started off by the Tank House reef looking for bait.  For reference, here’s a picture of the Capitola kelp bed map that Capitola Boat & Bait passes out:  Kara had that feeling.  You know, the one where you just know there’s fish.  Like a fool, I questioned it.  But we stopped nonetheless, and well…unsurprisingly she was right!

Smack dab in the middle of aaallllll the bait fish!  Mostly only pin head anchovies jumping out of the water, but fun to see still.  So there we were, jigging away with sabikis (Kara opted to fish a shrimp fly, see if she could land just larger bait).  I think we had a size 10, and size 8.  We were using 1oz weights.  First fish coming up were small anchovies.

Anchovy on sabiki rig

After a few drops we found out there were much larger, perfect bait size ones lurking below those!  Success!

Big anchovy
Andrew and a big anchovy making a break for it

We even pulled up some mackerel!

Mackerel on sabikis
Mackerel at Capitola!

They fight incredibly hard too!  Forgot how hard, had smelt as the best in my head, but these guys blow ’em out of the water.  Unfortunately we only got two.  I wasted too much time trying to get my GoPro working.  Stupid thing is so tempermental and buggy at the worst of times…  Stupid thing refused to go into video mode.  Had to restart multiple times.  Seriously, I love it and all, but christ almighty, its a buggy piece of shit.  It shouldn’t be that hard to make it work…

Anyways!  Another view of these beautiful fish:

mackerel from Capitola, CA
mackerel from above

Just amazing.  Reasonably hardy too!  Lings seem to love them, and they swim pretty aggressively while on a 3 way.  Even so, it seems like kingfish / white croaker are hardier, and last longer in an aerated bucket.  Getting back to the story, Kara managed to pull up some kingfish from the same spot!

white croaker and kingfish from Capitola
Kingfish / White Croaker!

And then she threw it.  At us.  Laaaaaame.

kingfish, mackerel and anchovies at Capitola
She totally missed too

We fished up a huge bucketfull of bait, then sped off to Boomer’s Reef to try our luck with drifting live bait (this is when we discovered anchovies suck at staying alive) and were pretty much left with some huge mackerel, and some half alive kingfish.  You do what you gotta do though!  Rigged ’em up on 3 ways with trap hooks, and I think used 10oz weights.  Here’s how it looks rigged up with bait:

Andrew & I both dropped these down while Kara decided to try her luck with shrimp flies.  Divide and conquer and all.  Anyhow, she scored first:

Olive rock cod
Olive or Yellow rock cod from Capitola

Kara continued to …sort of kick our butts

blue rock cod Capitola
miniature blue rock cod on shrimp flies

Lucky!  I got impatient, switched to a jig or something, and proceeded to have zero luck.  Andrew, however, was rewarded for his patience and got a niiiiiice ling bite:

Fish on!

Or well.  For 10 seconds or so line screamed off the reel at an alarming rate.  We’d forgotten to check the drag.  Suddenly, no fish.  Other problem might have been our trap hook was only maybe halfway up the bait fish.  I hadn’t expected to be able to land mackerel and kingfish that large.  Only heard about there being anchovies so I tied rigs accordingly… Guess I shouldn’t laze out and tie non sliding trap hooks.

Anyways, we reeled up and I forget now…either the fish was gone, or it’d gotten munched on near the tail.  After seeing that I couldn’t resist, switched back to a 3 way and drifted it with Andrew for awhile…

Finally, after nothing happening, I decided I was bored and had to do some jigging.  Threw on a ho-d jig (or generic bala jig) in mackerel color and started tossing it around:

Fish on!!
ho-d jig generic bala jig
Brown rock cod on ho d jig

Wooo!  First fish of the day.  Ho-d jig continued to do work:

ho d jig rock cod jig
brown rock cod from Capitola

By this point Andrew was getting bored too (apparently he likes active fishing like I do) and I tossed him another ho-d jig to strap on.  Shortly after I managed to pick up a gopher rock cod

rock cod with ho d jig from Capitola
Gopher rock cod on ho-d jig

Then it was Andrew’s turn to catch and land his first ever rock cod!

rock cod ho-d jig
chubby brown rock cod

For awhile things continued like that for me.  When I found a fish, I’d keep casting back to the same spot.  Kara had slowed down since she decided to nap

rock cod funny Capitola

We spent a few hours doing more passes over Boomer’s reef, but the bite died off around 11.  Couldn’t seem to find where they’d gone?  We got 2 more big ling take downs, but same problem.  They didn’t seem to get hooked.  Pretty sure the trap hook was too short, and they were short striking all our bait.  By the way they took (properly) set drag, they were damned nice sizes too…shame.  Anyways, we finished with maybe 5-7 rock cod, and 1 mackerel (the others got eated by the lings >.<).

Rock cod from Capitola, CA
Bucket o’ fish

I know what you’re thinking.  What a shitty picture.  Why don’t you have pics of these fish all laid out?  Well because as soon as we got to the cleaning station to dump our bucket out, I got distracted by this guy:

Capitola Boat & Bait white sea bass
Huge white sea bass at Capitola Pier

Yes that’s a fish, not a dirty rug on the floor next to his boat.  He ran all the way up to Davenport to get that monster.  44lbs if I’m remembering the number correctly.

wsb capitola
White sea bass

2 fat starry flounder, 3 halibut

Check out the album or video links at the bottom for more footage of his catch and everything else.  But damn, he weighed it out and he scored more than 100lbs of fish!  Insane!  Although, how come he kept 5 halibut.  I thought the limit was 3 per person?  AFAIK he went out alone…?

Anyways, that’s why I don’t have better pics of OUR catch.  Because his was like wtf, once in a lifetime do you see that in person kinda deal.  Was a fun day, and a great way to play hooky from work!

And before I forget, we were using squid and shrimp for cut bait.  We tried mackerel and king fish for live bait.  Both got hits, and we even pulled up a last brown around mile reef on a small white croaker.  Very surprising, never knew they ate kingfish!

Here’s a link to the album with lots more pics!

4 thoughts on “Capitola – A Land Sea of Opportunities”

    1. We found one when leaving a spot near Boomer’s Reef iirc, but that was the only one. Not sure if that’s a seasonal thing or not. This most recent trip out we didn’t fish any of the previous spots that had really high concentrations of them.

      Maybe ask the guys at the Capitola Boat & Bait, I’d guess they’d have the scoop on it. I’ll ask next time I’m down there if you don’t beat me there :]

  1. Kind of a while ago, but thought I’d respond anyway. Re: the limit of 3 halis and the guy keeping 5, he is probably a commercial fisherman. A lot of the small-time commercial guys you wouldn’t be able to distinguish their boat from recreational fisherman. The only difference would be they might have extra rods and extra fish, since they’re allowed to. Halibut and starry flounder are common targets for the small local guys selling at farmers markets and direct to restaurants.

    Don’t be afraid to call caltip if you think somebody is intentionally poaching though. If you think somebody is unintentionally poaching, don’t be afraid to give them a heads up on the regulations, I think most honest people would appreciate it.

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