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Monday, August 31, 2009

Wharf Fishing in Capitola-

Let's see. I drank a bit more home brew beer than was good for me. We got a tortilla press and learned just how much we didn't know about making tortillas, and had fun doing it. That was my daughter, Beth, and I. And I went fishing on the Capitola Wharf with my son-in-law, David. Not a bad several days off.

Pier fishing is rather fun and relaxing. The Santa Cruz Wharf is long, with many restaurants and businesses along that length. A busy, fun and exciting place, with a view of the Boardwalk amusement park. The Capitola Wharf, in Capitola quite coincidentally, is a different thing altogether.

It is shorter than the wharf at Santa Cruz. That is to be expected, since the Santa Cruz Wharf is, I believe, the longest on the west coast. It has but one restaurant, a small boat service and little else. Unlike the sturdy Santa Cruz Wharf, the Capitola Wharf moves with the ocean, with any motor traffic on the deck, and even people walking.

It also has a charming intimacy. Like little Capitola village it has character and is delightful, but not in the bombastic fashion of the flashy Santa Cruz Wharf. Intimate. Families and friends seemed to abound on the wharf, and quiet fishing was the rule of the day.

The weather was wonderful. A few clouds in the sky, and a rim of fog off over the ocean, but enough sunshine to be pleasant without being too bright or too hot. Thought the view toward the east was better we set up on the west side of the end of the wharf. The sun was just rising and looking into it was not a pleasant prospect no matter how nice the view.

Over the course of the day I caught a goodly amount of kelp, and a lot of sea snails. We were using fish heads from a number of previous outings as bait. I was amazed at how much of a fish head can be stripped by a half-dozen sea snails in just twenty minutes. I had to throw the bait away and start over several times.

For the most part nobody was catching anything, and most were enjoying the process. It is more being there than anything else. One guy did land a Bat Ray, providing the only real fishing excitement for the day. Another fisherman had to help land it, since it weighed probably ten or fifteen pounds and would likely have gotten loose if hauled up from the sea on the fishing line. They lowered a crab net and scooped it up. The hook was removed, a lot of pictures were taken, and then the Ray was returned to the sea.

David caught a crab. We got some Shiner Perch in our impromptu crab net, made from some metal mesh. They became bait, but nothing else was caught.

We did watch a blimp fly over. It came in from the north, turned out to sea, and came back in to fly low over the length of the wharf. I was not sure who was advertising on the airship, but I think it was Navigenics. I really like airships, so it made a very nice day even better.

No license is required to fish on the Capitola Wharf. In fact, fishing piers along the coast lines of the United States do not require a license. It is an affordable alternative to a boat, which is largely a hole in the water into which the owner pours money. Fishing tackle is pretty much whatever you want to use. Technique can be as involved or as informal as you like.

I may not yet be a wharf rat, spending most of my free time on the pier. I am, however, a real fan of this form of fishing. It is just plain fun.

With luck, and our tortilla press, we may yet have some nice fish tacos!

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