My only regret from Sunday's latest Pacific Ocean kayak triumph was that no one filmed my end-over-end nose dive coming back into (enter name here) beach. I have become a master of this--and happily, a master of lashing everything down. There was literally one wave all day and I found it. Thank Poseidon I had the presence of mind to hand off the fish to Eliot (aka: "Otter") before I nose planted... I should note: The fact that it took me seven trips (counting last year and the year before) to finally nab my hali (from a kayak) was immediately forgotten (by me) as I paraded around (un)said beach, chest inflated, ego swollen an extra 29.5 inches. Amazing how one fish can change everything. Oh yeah, caught ten dungies too. This is now my third dungeness limit in 4 kayak trips. (All hail the collapsible Promar!) I wonder, (rhetorically) why do all these guys think they need to go out to 300 feet to catch their crabs?
And another thing. I just want to state this for the record that I spent a good deal of time on the water being scared. Apologies to all the hardened kayak anglers who have long forgotten fear, but Kayaking in the Pacific Ocean is not sitting on the deck of a party boat, a Grady White, a Whaler or even, for that matter, a Zodiac. Comparatively speaking these other forms of boat fishing are, as one kayaker recently explained it, "just more TV."
In short, I have not fully recovered from my brief encounter with "the landlord" last year (if you missed that one, click here). Every shadow, every swirl, every ripple was a 16 foot great white shark coming up to chomp my elephant seal-sized, 10-foot kayak. But then, the free spool clicker went off. And fear was replaced by fish lust. I felt the weight of something on the end of the line, a short surge... and, remembering what every seasoned "yakbut" fisherman has told me, I resisted temptation and did not set the hook. Oddly, I have never been faced with this dilemma before. This is because all my previous halibut have been caught from shore, on Hair Raisers and Swim Baits. Drifting along with a frozen herring--I should say, a badly frozen, thawed and re-frozen, freezer-burn herring--I was not actually expecting to catch anything. But, I guess Poseidon decided my moment had at last arrived. Worthier men, and better fishermen (Sharky, et al) all around me, were getting skunked--but that halibut just had to have some stinky-ass, pasty looking, rethawed herring from this past December.
Go figya... Anyway... thank you, oh great earth shaker! I will offer hecatombs of surf smelt in your honor.
Close To Perfection
I should also add that I am finally moving towards perfection as far as surf smelt are concerned. Not in cathing them, mind you, in cooking them. The Ron Garcia-osmerid-deboning-technique (RGODT) works like a charm (gut/behead, soak in water, knead spine with thumb, pull spine and ribs out in one shot). Having now experimented with all the different types of oils, and flours and meals, I have found the ultimate combo: high olic peanut oil (fries at a high heat) and fine-ground yellow corn meal (both of these available at Rainbow Grocery). I've been working with ultra fine-ground blue corm meal but it just doesn't produce the golden lustre I'm shooting for. Anyway, here's what I'm talking about:
Anyhoo. Camilladilla's Sunday night repast consisted of:
1. stuffed, broiled, de-boned surf smelt, (the ones above were fried)
2. cracked dungeness crab
3. baked halibut fresh from the ocean
How shall I describe it? Let's just say it was all very... Mmmmmm! And the nice thing about a 12 pound halibut is you serve dinner for six, and you still have six pounds of fillets in the freezer!
Yikes, gotta hit the hay. From five miles inland of San Francisco's halibut-laden shores, this is a well-sated, and predictably ebullient Lombard of the Intertidal, signing-out. Good night.