I was scouting the Francis Beach section of Half Moon Bay State Beach on May 24, 2002 by grubbing for surfperch. The water had really good structure as you can see from the picture on the about beaches page. I worked south covering all the edges that I could find. I found schools 3 times but only got a couple from each instance. It was a hit every cast but after catching a couple a heavy wave set would come in and after that I couldn't find them again.
Overall, I got 8 perch fish at Francis Beach (in a few hours) in addition to a small halibut and a snagged surf smelt and a line-tangled-gull.
Later near high tide, I saw around 3 smelt netters in action - it was exciting. They were not spawners coming in - they were not laden with eggs. The netters thought that stripers were driving them in. One 12 pounder was caught while I was there. As soon as I saw that I rigged an 7/8 oz Yozuri Mag and started ripping. I ripped for about 1 hour with no hits. I was fun though - the anticipation and the excitement! About 6 striper fishermen were tossing hair raisers. Only the one caught. I saw a few good net casters that caught smelt. I saw smelt in the water a couple times.
Here is a sequence of photos showing a smelt fisherman in action. Just click to see a larger view. The first photo was shot just after the net was released. The fisherman had just spotted smelt in the nearshore breaker. Timing is crutial.
The second photo shows him holding the net against the retreating breakers. At this point, he can tell that he scored because the wash back force generated. Note that he his leaning back and taking the most of the load with his legs.
The third photo shows him walking backwards on the beach. Note the other fisherman in the background just before he throws on the following wave. He saw his friend score and was fast to catch the next wave but he was late and got none.
The fourth photo shows him well up on the beach dragging the net with a 1 1/2 dozen surf smelt. He suggested I bait up with a smelt because stripers love them. As it turned out, there were not many stripers around but what a wonderful day with a variety of new experiences.
If you know who this smelt fisherman is and have contact information, please let me know, I would like to let him know about the pictures.
Last Revised: January 31, 2003
This page © Copyright 2003, Glenn Yoshimoto