Author: Terra Firma Tackle
Fishing From Land On Catalina Island
As the warm summer months start to fade from memory and the real bruiser grade fish start to make a showing in Southern California, it was time to make another voyage across the channel for a shot at something unique!
Best Laid Plans:
This trip had been in the planning stages for over a year, and there’s good reason why. Lining up the logistics of shipping the kayak, gear and camping supplies to the island, bringing over enough bait for three days of hardcore sharking, food and water, lining up the support vehicle to get to the interioir, and figuring out how to get down to the coast from the cliff face, all were obstacles that stood in the way.
The plan was to set up on the backside, utilize a new prototype buoy rig to suspend baits at 12’ and 30’ over 200’ of water on 600 yard drops in hopes of pelagics, blue sharks, mako sharks, and maybe even a marlin from shore! 100lb and 150lb Bullbuster Mono was the line of choice for the big reels! A key component of this plan as enough chum to sustain a decent slick for at least three days. With a little math that calculation worked out to 300lbs of frozen block chum.
Unfortunately, the only way over to the island is one of two ferries, and neither would allow the transport of that much weight, even with multiple ticket purchases. The team was not informed of this until the day of travel and was forced to leave behind the chum and go without.
That’s Not All:
Once we had arrived in port in beautiful Avalon the journey to the backside began. With the car loaded with enough gear for the team we headed out along the long dirt road to the trailhead where we were to begin the 1.5 mile hike to the coast down a washout/streambed. The terrain was unforgiving, littered with sharp protruding rocks and harsh vegetation!
In addition to the terrain, the trail wound up being significantly longer than anticipated, approaching the 4 mile mark in distance. Three men were struggling to keep a reasonable pace with the gear and we were not to the chosen camp site until the early afternoon. But boy was the view worth it!
With baits finally deployed before sundown there was time to revel in the accomplishments of the day, and await the first of the bites on what was sure to be a productive trip in a remote locale. It didn’t take long before the first screaming run tore off in the darkness, but unfortunately the fish avoided the hook. The rest of the evening was eerily quiet.
Come morning both lines and made it through the night without a click, and it was time to reset the gear. Armed with fresh baits and a bait rod (just in case) I paddled out through the surf. Greeted by birds and boiling bonito, the kayak was soon filled with fresh baits and the lines were reset with ease.
Taking advantage of the fresh bait we rigged up a casting
rod and that’s when the action really heated up! Cast after cast the reels
screamed! Shovelnose, Leopard Sharks and Rays were cooperating nicely! We each
had our fill on the casting gear! As always, the 40lb Bullbuster Monofilament held up great to the rough terrain and heavy drag!
As the day wound on the drop rods finally got a take, but it was just another leopard shark. Our spirits were not to be dampened, and the baits were redeployed and we got back to the wide open casted bait bite!
The second night passed without incident, save for the local endemic foxes visiting camp and playful inspecting all of the gear.
The third and final day started off with a bang! At first light the drop rod was hit with a screaming run! After a longer than usual fight a very large soupfin shark was landed and given the condition of the fish was harvested for a camp meal.
The casted bite continued to be productive and between packing sessions a few fish were had on casting gear. As the day wound to a close the daunting hike out loomed overhead. A new passage up the face of the mountain was scouted and chosen as the extraction point.
After six separate grueling climbs up the mountain with the gear (kayak, cooler, rods) we had successfully made it out, exhausted and relieved, the trip was over. We did not have the chum we needed, and as a result did not catch the pelagics we had intended, but setting a new personal best for Soupfin, and getting to experience the unique, remote beach first hand was worth it. We will return, better prepared and for a longer period of time!
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