|So You Want To Go Fishing...|
This is a complete guide to what you'll need to know in order to get ready, get there, have fun, be safe, catch lots of fish and even clean and cook your catch. Please consider printing this entire page and taking it with you as you prepare for your fishing trip - the more you know, the more fun you'll have!
|A Typical Fishing Trip|
|A typical fishing trip usually
starts out at dawn with everyone meeting at the boat. Exact time and
location will be finalized the night before and is always subject
to the weather. The captain may have arrived early to get the boat ready. After the guests
arrive and the captain shoves off, he'll motor for anywhere from 30
minutes to an hour to arrive at the fishing grounds, most likely outside
the Golden Gate along the coast near Stinson Beach. If we're going out
for Tuna, the drive might be a bit longer. The scenery is
breathtaking: Ocean, GG Bridge, Stinson Beach, Marin Headlands,
Ocean Freighters, Tons of birds and best of all - FISH. Its common
to see porpoises, whales, and birds - shark sightings, fortunately,
are extremely rare. Once at the
grounds, you'll most likely be trolling at about 3 miles per hour for
Salmon or 8 miles per hour for Tuna and
hopefully catching fish. Anglers take turns reeling in the fish with the
most experienced fishermen netting the catch and hauling it
onboard. Hopefully the weather will be calm and you'll be fishing
near other boats whom are also catching fish. Monitoring the VHF radio
for fishing reports and watching other boats for signs of catching fish
and spotting Pelicans feeding makes even a slow day go by quickly. Once limits are reached for
all fishermen on board, or the predetermined departure time arrives, the
captain will fire up both engines and head home. The fish must be
cleaned before the boat gets back into the harbor, a chore we usually do
in the Sausalito Channel and also left to the experienced fishermen in
the group. Once back in the slip, everyone helps wash the boat and
filet the fish if guests are not familiar with how to do this at home.
We're usually completely done and ready to drive home by dusk but
it can be much earlier if we limit out quickly. With some luck you'll be having fresh-caught
Fish for dinner!
|What to Bring|
| There are several
important things you'll really want to bring, but for the most part,
please pack light! The boat is never big enough to hold every guest's
unnecessary gear. Here's a quick list of must-haves:
The following items should organized to be brought by one person on the boat for everyone:
Things you don't need to bring:
|Where To Go/ Directions|
|The Slip.Net boat is located
at Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito, also known as Caruso's. You'll
meet the rest of the fishing party at Caruso's Deli or at the boat so park nearby.
Caruso's is located at the end of Harbor Drive.
From US 101, take the Marin City, Sausalito Exit. Head south towards Sausalito on Bridgeway. Go 3 lights. Turn Left on to Harbor Drive. You'll see a Molly Stone's on the corner and drive past the Post Office and West Marine as you head towards the Bay on Harbor Drive. Drive to the end of Harbor Drive and park near the boat ramp. Fish. ,the restaurant, will be on the water on your right. Click here for a Yahoo map showing Harbor drive.
Once you've parked, please call me on your cell phone for last minute instructions and exact directions to the Slip.Net boat. My cell phone number is 415-381-9731.
We occasionally hop rides on even nicer boats so be sure to confirm with the Captain the exact boat and location of departure the night before. Keep your cell phone on in the am and make sure we have your number just in case something happens and we have to abort the mission.
|Getting on Board|
Slip.Net looks like the one on the left. It's a 37' Trojan Sportsfisher. Its a dual engine boat that will get us out fishing fast! It has a cabin below with a V-Berth, head, refrigerator, sink and dining area. It is equipped with GPS and radar as well as an EPIRB, life raft and other safety gear.
Boats can be dangerous - keep kids away from the sides lest the get squished between the boat and the dock. Board on the far side of the boat - the port side (where we keep the wine) . You'll see steps that make getting in easy. Please notify the captain before coming onboard. If the captain hasn't arrived early, he will need a few minutes to open up the boat and its best to wait on shore unless you know what to do to help. Please do not board by jumping into the side of the boat or climbing on to the front (bow) of the boat as this is unsafe. If you're bringing a child onboard, please hold their hand until they're inside the boat and immediately put a life vest on them. Once on board, please stow your backpack down below on the seats or v-berth. Do not leave gear you're not using upstairs on-deck as it will fly off when we get underway.
Life preservers are mandatory when you're fishing (and required by law for children under 16). Not only is the water very cold but the Slip.Net boat is asier to fall off of than other styles of boats. We have self-inflating life preservers which are very comfortable. They must be worn outside of your jacket and your captain will show you how to put it on.
As we're preparing to get underway, you'll learn about some of the features of the boat, including how to start and stop the engines, use of the emergency channel 16 on the VHF radio and how to put the boat into forward and reverse. Even if you don't plan to drive the boat, its important that when we get a fish on, everyone can lend a hand if necessary.
|Sea Sickness - The Unabridged Guide|
|One of the real bummers of
fishing is motion sickness. On a calm day this will not be an issue and
we try to fish only on calm days so that we all feel fine. The beginning
of the season (April, May) and the end of the season (Sept., Oct) are
the rough months and you have to pick your days - the rest of the season
its very, very calm. The captain will always check wind and weather
reports before leaving. There are very few people who don't get seasick,
so don't be ashamed to admit it. Its better to be honest rather than let your ego control your
thoughts and ruin your day. The
best tips for avoiding seasickness are:
|We always check the weather before going. However, it can change on you quickly. The wind kicks up in the afternoon so getting out and back early is always more fun. Most mid-summer days its so warm and calm you'll think you're in Hawaii and its actually nicer than it is inside the Bay. If you're interested in all of the websites we check before going out, see the links on this website. We do have radar and GPS which means we can get home on instruments alone, although this is comforting, its not what we ever want to plan. Make sure not to push staying out late to catch that last fish as it takes a good 40 minutes to return to the dock plus another 10 minutes per fish to clean.|
|Salmon Fishing Basics|
There are a few things about fishing you want to remember. First is that if you caught something all the time, every time, they would call it "Catching". Since we're actually "Fishing", expect nothing and then its all upside. Salmon fishing is different from other types of fishing, so just because you've Bass fished, please keep reading. First item of business is to make sure you're wearing your license, visible above the waist. It saves time from having to explain to the DFG why you're not following the law. Wearing it also seems to make everyone on the boat have good luck. Next is understanding that there are 2 ways to catch Salmon: Trolling and Mooching. Mooching means sitting in your boat, with all engines off and dangling frozen bait or live bait on hooks right about where you think the fish are. This works great on days when you're sure where the fish actually are. Otherwise, Trolling is preferred. Trolling means driving around in circles (or figure eights) over known fish locations on the GPS at about 3 knots. The gear is also different. We use heavier rods, with 2.5 lb. lead weights attached to the end of the line on a releasable spring, followed by the leader with either "straight bait" - frozen anchovie or herring, or lure or combination lure and bait. If using any type of bait, you must check your lines about every 15 minutes to make sure the bait hasn't been stolen or fallen off. Occasionally we use a flasher or other type of attractor between the lead weight/spring and the hook. To be legal you must use barbless hooks when trolling and circle hooks when mooching. Hooks are made barbless by crimping down the barb before using it. One of the best lure/bait combinations is a Rotary Salmon Killer - which is a piece of plastic with a fin on it and a clamp that you insert a frozen bait into - this mimics a wounded baitfish - just what big salmon are looking for. When we start trolling we put out 1 line per angler each with a different combination of lure and depth. Depth of your line is measured by counting out the line as you peel it off behind the moving boat. Salmon can be caught anywhere from 5 to 90 feet down - and remember to take into account the angle and extra line created by the moving boat. FishFinders help you guess at what depth to fish at, although most salmon don't show up on fishfinders as they have no air bladder with which to register on the sonar of the fishfinder.
Once the lines have been placed in the water at agreed upon depths, you try to drive towards fish. Watching other boats with nets flying is a good act to follow as Salmon swim in schools. Looking for feeding birds, watching the GPS to see where other fish have been caught and circling in a figure eight around bites or fish caught.
The drag on each rod is set loose and the "clicker" is set on so that you can hear a fish hit your line. If its a big enough fish or bite, it "zing" and the lead weight will drop to the bottom of the ocean. Its important that someone in the boat pick up the rod out of the rodholder and keep a steady amount of pressure on the line. The boat should be slowed to a stop only after the angler is sure he has the fish under control. The angler smoothly reels the line in, always trying to keep a steady pressure on the fish. There is no need to Set the hook - doing so will rip it out of the fish's mouth. Salmon exhibit some pretty common behaviors once caught. Some will run away from the boat for a minute or two and then, in an attempt to throw the hook, run directly at the boat. When this happens, you must reel in the line as fast as possible, sometimes tightening the drag as well. Its important to get the fish tired before trying to net it. Once it runs up to the boat it may see the boat and bolt away. This is another time to make sure that the drag is not set too tight or a good size fish will break the line. On smaller fish, the lead weight may not even drop until this final run. Once the fish has sufficiently tired and you've reeled it up close to the boat, you'll know its ready to be netted when it lays over on its side near the top of the water, presenting itself to the net. the netman will slip the net under the fish, making sure the fish is headed into the net head first. Its helpful to have the angler keep their rod tip up and not look down at the fish being netted as this may introduce slack in the line and lose the fish. Some fish are easy to catch and net, others seem like they get away all day long. Don't be too discouraged if you lose a fish or two - there are plenty to catch. Once the fish has been netted, back away from the netman, keeping the rod tip up until the fish is in the boat. Once in the boat, assist the netman by handing him the bat which will be used to hit the fish right above the eyes, killing it instantly. Larger fish should be bled before throwing them into the cooler. The netman will remove the hook and its now your job as the angler to reload the hook with fresh bait (unless its a straigt lure) and get the line back in the water with a weight attached. Be sure to feel the leader for nicks and make sure the hook is still sharp - sharpen it with a file if not. During all of the chaos, be alter around you to hooks on deck, what the boat is about to run into and make sure you don't lose your footing. Occasionally you'll get two hookups at once (a "double hookup") which will require either getting the caught fish out of the net or use of a second net. This is the ultimate fun, but also a good way to lose a fish due to slack line, missed net, etc. Try to reset your line with the same lure/bait, depth and location as where you just caught the fish. Often the driver will punch in the location into the GPS for future reference. If you have a fish finder, circle around the perimeter of the bait ball if you're over one - don't drive straight thru it as there are no salmon in the middle - they hang around the edges looking for wounded fish to dine upon. Be sure to keep an eye out for other boats as often others will swarm to your area when the see your nets moving about the deck. Once you're back fishing again, help clean the deck of fish goo and blood, reload pre-made baited hooks, etc. then relax and wait for the next fish!
Other fun rules:
The Dept. of Fish and Game is often waiting for us when we get back to the docks in Sausalito and we often see some type of law enforcement boat each trip. Its common to be boarded by the Coast Guard - especially if you have a nice boat (go figure!). Its no fun to have your day ruined by the strong arm of the law.
|Cleaning a Salmon - and how to take one home!|
Cleaning a Salmon is not as hard as you might imagine. The first trick is to use a SHARP knife. Sharpen the blade before every cleaning. Fish are cleaned by cutting a slit along the belly, removing the intestines, cutting out the gills and occasionally shooting a strong stream of water to scale the fish (not necessary if you're going to smoke it). Fish may not be filleted at sea by law but make sure you have the cleaning all done before you arrive back in the slip. Intestines should not be thrown overboard where others are fishing as they may attract sharks. Clean off all blood from clothes, deck, carpets, etc. quickly as once it dries it stains. Use latex gloves or surgical gloves to avoid staff infections and watch your fingers! Clean and bandage any knife wounds with hydrogen peroxide immediately. If you're not experienced at cleaning, let someone else do it on your first trip out. Once back at the dock, filet or cut the meat into steaks unless you're taking a whole fish home or giving it to someone. Do not throw the skeleton, head and tail overboard.
Use Trash compactor bags which are super-tough to cart home whole fish or use zip-lock bags to package up steaks or filets. Keep any fish you're transporting on ice or in a cooler you brought with you for just such an occasion. Freeze any fish you're in doubt of eating within seven days by filling a ziplock bag full of water and submerging the fish completely underwater so that its frozen in ice - this prevents freezer burn and the fish will taste much better when thawed.
King Salmon: A guide to Salmon Fishing in California by Greg Goddard - excellent guide to the sport!