Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shimano Stradic CI4 2500F Review

My latest addition to my tackle selection is the Shimano Stradic CI4 2500F spinning reel. I purchased this reel from Turners Outdoorsman here in San Diego, CA. At 199.99 retail, the CI4 is at the higher end of Shimano's spinning reel line up. The Stradic CI4 is just under the Sustain and Stella spinning reels, which are at the top of the list. I knew before I even bought the reel that I would not regret it because at least three Turners employees came up to me and said, "you're going to have fun with that reel, that thing is sweet!" Those comments only made me want to hurry up and get this reel some action!

First Impressions: From the first time I set eyes on this reel I automatically could see what makes this reel different from the others, because of it's black/charcoal grey and red colors. It's very different from the usual silver colored reels. The reel just has a stunning appeal to it. The other dramatic difference I noticed from other reels is that the CI4 is very very light. The difference in weight makes a world of a difference and I knew it was going to be a great drop shot reel.

Weight Comparison: At 7 ounces, the CI4 feels great in your hand. Compared to other reels of the same size the CI4 seems like a feather. The ultra-lightweight design of this reel makes fatigue not an option. You can fish this reel on a light weight rod for hours at a time without feeling fatigue on your wrist.

Drag: The drag on this reel is silky smooth. I had the pleasure of catching a handful of Bonefish (drag pullers) when breaking in this reel for the first time. All I can say is I never thought I would break off on a fish because the drag was so smooth and comfortable. The CI4 has a waterproof drag system that comes in handy especially for saltwater anglers like me.

Design: CI4 stands for Carbon Interfusion with the 4 referring to the number of electrons in the carbon atom. In other words, it means the CI4 is reinforced  carbon fiber. It is over one and a half times stronger  than the XT-7 graphite, which makes it stronger and lighter. Another plus for saltwater anglers is that the CI4 is impenetrable to rust. The round eva grips on the handle feel very comfortable on your fingers. It is cushiony as opposed to other hard plastic handles on other reels.

In conclusion, this reel is awesome! I highly recommend this reel if you have the extra money to spend. I am confident that you will have just as much fun with this reel as me. It has everything I would want in a reel, especially for drop shot fishing. Matched up with the right rod it makes for a very comfortable, fast and lightweight fish killer.

For more info and features on the Shimano Stradic CI4: Stradic Ci4

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lucky Craft Flash Minnow 110 - Metallic Sardine

A couple months ago I did a little bit of research on using hard baits for surf fishing. Come to find out, there is a very popular hard bait used amongst Southern California surf anglers, which is the Lucky Craft 110. From my research I found that this lure catches BIG fish in the surf, such as Barred Surf Perch, Yellowfin Croaker and Halibut. Usually surf anglers use this lure to weed out the small dinky fish and target the bigger species. The Lucky Craft 110 does great for catching halibut in the surf, which is a very uncommon catch using traditional surf baits and rigs. The bait looks very realistic and has some nice flash to it that will attract fish.

Length - 4.5 inches
Weight - 5/8 ounces
Depth - 1 to 2 feet
Buoyancy - Suspending

The only downside of this lure I have found is that it's a bit on the pricey side, and can be hard to find in tackle stores and on the internet. At the price of 19.99 per lure you don't want to see this lure go flying into the ocean on your first cast.

How to fish: So far from what I've researched, fishing this lure is fairly simple. It's a simple cast and slow retrieve. You can also add in a couple pauses or jerks in between. From what I hear, the bite feels very aggressive and you'll know if you have a fish on. It is important to use heavier line than usual when using this bait to help prevent losing it. There are certain times and conditions where this bait truly performs, but I have yet to figure that out yet. Its something that I have to figure out myself and put time in on the water to see what this bait is capable of.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Surf Fishing 101

Surf fishing is most definitely my favorite type of fishing to do. The open ocean, crashing waves, scenery and ocean breeze make surf fishing an enjoyable outdoor activity. In addition to the great scenery, surf fishing is endless. You will probably never run out of spots to surf fish because of the hundreds of miles of beaches. I'm now going to provide some tips and techniques that I have learned over the past couple years. These recommendations will have you catching fish from the surf in no time.

Rigs - The carolina rig is the most common surf fishing rig used on the West Coast and is highly recommended. This is the carolina rig in order from top to bottom: Egg sinker, bead, swivel, around two feet of fluorocarbon line and hook. It is a simple yet effective rig that will definitely work.

Rods - For fishing the surf, I do not recommend anything under 7' because you will need a rod long enough to keep your line over the waves that will be crashing right in front of you. Many surf anglers use rods from 7' to 9'. I currently use a 7' Shimano Clarus rod that works fine, but I will eventually change that to 7'6". Use a rod that has a medium-light to medium action that will give you enough backbone to fight fish in the surf. The rod should have a fast to extra fast taper so you are able to set the hook effectively. Overall, you want a long, sensitive rod that has the ability to fight a big fish.

Reels - I recommend using a 2500 size spinning reel for surf fishing. In my opinion, the 2500 size is a nice light sized reel that won't tire out your wrist very much.

Sinkers - Depending on the surf conditions, you want to use sinker sizes from 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce. Strong currents and big waves call for heavier sized weights. I almost always use sizes such as 3/4 ounce and 1 ounce. 

Hooks - Smaller size hooks are recommended for surf fishing because some of the most common surf species have small mouths. You don't want a big hook that will have you missing bites all day. I like to use size #4 baitholder style hooks or size #2 Owner Mosquito hooks. In my opinion, these size hooks do the very well in the surf. 

Line - I almost always use 8 pound fluorocarbon line. Using light line makes fighting fish more fun and is strong enough to land them. You can use line sizes from 6 to 12 pound test in the surf. I recommend using fluorocarbon line for the leader because it is virtually invisible under water. Light line equals more fun, but you run the risk of loosing the big one. 

Bait - Ghost shrimp, sand crabs, mussel, Berkley Gulp Camo Sand Worms "CrAcK", Perch grubs in motor oil red flake (MORF) color. They WILL all work great!


Basic Tips - When your ready to cast you want to time the waves. Wait for the waves to crash then cast over them into the flat water. I like to have my rig starting in between the breaks. The waves will eventually start moving your rig towards you. Just make sure to ALWAYS keep your line tight so you can feel the bite. You can either let the current or waves take your rig or you can cast out and slooowly reel it back towards you. Sometimes you may feel like your getting bit but it can be the waves crashing down on your rig, so be sure to pay attention. The usual perch bite will feel like a shock or a really fast tapping feeling.

P.S. You'll be surprised how close the fish really are to the shore. Go get em!

Corbina caught on a sand crab

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some Recent Catches

Here are some recent notable catches I've caught within the past week.

Sargo caught in Carlsband beach using ghost shrimp
Same fat perch 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fish Report: Finally a Sargo

During my work vacation me and my friend Tony pumped some ghost shrimp and headed out to the San Diego Bay. We were finally able to catch a nice incoming tide for once, which is a great time to fish. The weather conditions were fairly nice with a little wind coming at us.

I began casting into a spot where I know there's some nice structure where fish like to hang around. Within my first couple casts, BOOM! My rod bends and I set the hook. As I'm fighting the fish I knew it was either a Sargo or a Croaker because of the way it was fighting. The fish was pulling drag on my reel and when it finally surfaced it was a Sargo. I suddenly had a big smile on my face because I had made the Sargo number one on my most wanted list. Sargo have some nice power to them which means a fun fight, especially on light tackle.

I also caught  some nice yellowfin croaker and spotted bay bass as well. All fish were caught on ghost shrimp on a drop shot rig and a 1/2 ounce torpedo sinker.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Storing Ghost Shrimp

Knowing how to store your ghost shrimp overnight is a good thing to know. Whether you are saving them for a future date or you have some left over, these tips will help you keep them alive.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic container of some sort 
  • Paper towels or anything that will absorb water
  • Ice or ice pack
  1. Soak one the one of the paper towels in saltwater or water from the sink. I prefer saltwater though
  2. Lay the damp paper towel in the plastic container or on a flat surface
  3. In the middle of the paper towel, put about 10-15 ghost shrimp in there trying not to overcrowd them too much. You must allow space for flaps to fold over the ghost shrimp
  4. Fold the flaps over the ghost shrimp
  5. Keep repeating the process. There should be layers of paper towels in your plastic container
  6. Throw the plastic container in the refrigerator or in a cooler with ice/ice packs

The most important thing to keep in my when storing ghost shrimp is to keep them COOL. You don't want them to be too cold either. This method should keep the ghost shrimp alive for a couple of days. When you look at them the next day they may look dead, but once you touch them they should become lively again. You'll know when they are dead because there will be a strong odor and they will be soft and mushy to the touch. Try to keep them cool even when transporting and when your out fishing. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shovel nose guitar fish

Shovel nose guitar fish caught in Imperial Beach, CA on Ghost Shrimp

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Report: My first Corvina

Me and my buddy Tony decided to have a change of pace and soak some ghost shrimp on the Coronado Ferry Landing pier in Coronado, CA. I heard of anglers catching big Sargo and yellowfin croaker at the pier, so we gave it a shot. The tide was very low when we got there and it was still dropping, but we still made the best out of it. We didn't catch any of our target species (Sargo), but we did manage a nice little variety of fish. I also scored my first Corvina which made be pretty happy. My technique of casting the ghost shrimp out and slowly reeling it back worked out for me.

Bait of choice: Ghost Shrimp, drop shot rig, 1/2 ounce torpedo sinker, #1 size baitholder style hook

Fish Count: 4 Spotted Bay bass, 1 Calico bass, 2 Sculpin, 1 Lizard fish, 1 Sand bass, 1 Corvina

My first Corvina. Not too big but I scratched one off the list

 The View

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Increase your chances : Bait Scent

Using scent is a great way to increase your chances when fishing in salt or freshwater. In my opinion, bait scent makes a world of a difference when fishing artificial baits. There are plenty of different scents on the market from krill to squid. So, if your not using bait scent you should start. You won't regret it.
My current scents. UniButter and Gulp Alive shrimp flavor

Why use bait scent?
  • It eliminates human scents such as lotions, sunscreen, cigarettes and cigars
  • It leaves a scent trail that will attract a fish from a distance 
  • When fish bite they stay on the bait longer because it tastes like the real thing, which means better chances of landing the fish
  • Leaves a nice slimy coat on your bait
  • Keeps your bait from drying up, leaving a more life like action
Some popular scents
  • Uni Butter - Most powerful scent in my opinion
  • Hot Sauce - Another effective scent
  • Berkley Gulp! Alive - Powerful scent that comes in easy spray bottle
  • Eagle Claw - Many different flavors from squid to anchovy with glitter
  • Pro Cure - I have never tried them but have heard good things. Tons of different flavors
Personally, my favorite go to scent right now is Uni Butter because of it's powerful smell and it's ability to increase my fish count. However, other bait scents like the ones listed above can be just as effective. It' s really up to you. The thing I like about the Berkley Gulp spray bottle is that it is easier to apply and less messy. Just be careful to not touch your face after handling bait scents unless you want to smell it all day long =p. That's the only thing you'll regret about using scents. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fish Report: 5/4/2011

Today I was able to head out into San Diego bay with my friend Tony and his dad on their boat. Overall, it was a great day on the water. We each caught a number of quality spotted bay bass and sand bass. Heres the report. Enjoy!

Location: San Diego Bay 
Time: 8:15 am  - 12:00 pm
Conditions: Perfect. Beautiful Southern California weather. About    80 degrees
Tide: Nice incoming tide 1.83 ft to 3.36 ft
Baits: 3" big hammer swimbaits in clear red flake matched up with red 3/8 ounce lead heads, T&C Lures swimgrubs in aquamarine and ghost shrimp colors. 
Fish Caught: Spotted Bay Bass, Sand Bass, Mackerel, Lizard Fish

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Bait: Fish Arrow Flash-J

I just picked up another new bait that I wanted to try, which is the Fish Arrow Flash-J from Japan. This bait is a 4" soft plastic shad/minnow that has a special reflective foil inside the body. The foil is used to attract fish from a distance which can be great when the sun is out. I look forward to using these on the drop shot presenting the bait as an injured baitfish. The Flash-J has impressed me just by the way they look. Hopefully I do well with them. We shall see...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Bait - Panic Minnow

I was recently browsing the internet looking for new baits to try on the drop shot in saltwater. I was looking on and came across the "pannic minnow", so I decided to go ahead and give them a shot. I ordered the 3.5 inch pannic minnow in the smelt pattern for about 6 dollars for a pack of 7.

After receiving the baits my first impressions were good. Right away I could tell they would produce fish. They are really soft so it can give some nice action when in the water. They have slits in the body to provide natural fish action. I like how they have eyes on that adds a little touch to them.

The Report:
I used these baits for the first time at night and during bad tides. On my first cast it took about 2 minutes for me to get my first bite, but I miss the hookset. Second cast, I get a fish on but comes off as I got it closer to the rocks. Third cast, I catch a nice little bass. We moved on to another spot and I land a nice legal spotted bay bass.

Overall, I really like these baits. They look, feel and swim very nice and I can tell they will produce a lot of fish. My first time using these baits I did fairly well. I know these baits will do much better during the day when the fish can really see the action they provide. They remind me of little mini swimbaits. These are a great drop shot bait that really lives up to the "pannic minnow" name. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Using Braided Line

So recently I did the switch from my usual flourocarbon line to braided line. I decided to go with 8lb Shimano Power Pro braid, but eventually I will step it up to 20lb because the diameter is about the same as 8lb monofilament line. 

My first impressions of braid is that it reminded me of sewing thread and felt really strong. After my first cast, I was amazed with the casting ability I had from the braid. I was using a 1/4 ounce lead head with a swimgrub and I blasted it out there. Here are some of the reasons why I love braided fishing line:

  • Casting ability - each cast is smoother and longer than other fishing lines
  • Stronger 
  • Lasts longer - You won't have to buy new line for a long time because of the use of a leader
  • Abrasion resistant - Little to no abrasion so you can fish deep cover (pilings, branches, rocks) without damaging line
  • Sensitivity - Much more sensitive. I can feel everything from the smallest nibble to my sinker hitting rocks on the bottom
  • Less memory - There is little to no memory which eliminates line twists
To sum things up, I am a big fan now of using braided fishing line. I will probably be using braid from here on out. 

When using braid be sure to tie a flourocarbon leader because braid is not invisible underwater, which can affect your chances of getting bit. Tie about 5 feet of flourocarbon line to the braid using the Uni to Uni knot. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fish Crack

Berkley Gulp saltwater makes a product called the "Camo Sand Worm". This product is commonly known to surf anglers as "Fish Crack". Why? because the fish can't resist them. This artificial bait is one of the most commonly used baits to use when fishing the surf. If you look at the bait you'll be surprised it catches so many fish because it's just a small strip of soft plastic, but after using these sand worms in the surf I became a believer. The first time fishing these baits I caught 15 fish.

I haven't heard to much of people using this bait in the bays or other inshore areas, so one day I decided to use them in the bay. I can honestly say that these baits work the same as in the surf...they catch fish. I have caught a variety of different fish with these rigged on a drop shot. They can catch anything from bass to mackerel. Berkley recently started to make these baits in a smaller 2.5 inch size because of it's popularity. People before were cutting the long style sand worms into smaller pieces. When rigging this bait use a smaller style hook because the bait is so small. So, next time you go fishing give these a shot. I positive you won't be let down..

Imperial Beach Surf Fishing

On Saturday 3-19, me and a friend decided to fish the local bay. The tides were extremely low and the fish were not biting, so we decided to make a move and fish the surf for a couple hours. We decided to fish off a jetty and cast into the surf from there. We started off slow, but eventually hooked up on a few hand sized Barred Surf Perch.

All fish were caught on 2.5 inch Berkley Gulp Camo Sand Worms on a Carolina rig.
Total fish count: 5 Barred Surf Perch

Perch with sand worm in its mouth

Monday, March 14, 2011

San Diego Bay 3/13/11

Decided to do a skiff day with my dad and friend Tony in San Diego bay. We rented a skiff from Seaforth Boat Rentals in Coronado, CA. We were on the water by 9:30. The day started out really slow with only a couple fish being landed here and there. In fact, I didn't catch a fish for the first three hours we were fishing.

There was minimal tidal movement and not very much drift at all which made us work even harder to catch fish. Our baits were constantly being attacked by the infamous lizard fish. It was pretty irritating...All three of us were using the drop shot rig with various gulp products and T&C swimgrubs. Most of the fish were caught near or under the Coronado bridge. Overall, fishing was really slow but we made the best out of it and caught a decent amount of fish. It was a good day!

         Tony with a nice fat Sculpin 
Me with a decent halibut
      My Dad with a nice Spotted Bay Bass

Me with a nice Spotty

                            The usual suspect

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fish Report 2/22/11

Decided to fish Embarcadero Park on the rocks at night. Got there two hours before high tide so there was some nice tidal movement. Although it was freezing out there it still ending up being a pretty descent night. Nothing huge was caught but did catch some legals (12 inches).

Finally got a chance to try my new T&C Lures that I have been anxiously waiting to use. I started out throwing the 3" swimgrub in black widow color with a 1/4 ounce leadhead, which is preferred at night. Sprayed on some Berkley shrimp scent and I was ready to go.
First cast, threw out my lure and a couple seconds later was rewarded with a spotted bay bass

I was pretty impressed with these T&C baits. All the hype about these baits is pretty much true. They catch fish! I ended up catching 3 bass on the black widow swimgrub. My friend even tried drop shotting the swimgrub and ended up catching a couple. Working these baits really slow ended up being the way to catch the fish. Throughout the night I ended up trying different baits on the drop shot. 

Baits used: Gulp shrimp - new penny color
                     Gulp ghost shrimp - natural color - caught the bigger sized bass
                     Gulp baitfish - watermelon pearl color
Decent sized spotty that went for the new penny shrimp rigged on the drop shot
My buddy ended up snagging this little guy

Total fish count: Me - 8 spotted bay bass
                            Tony - 7 spotted bay bass, 1 octopus

(All fish caught and released)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Power of the Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp is the ultimate fishing bait for the west coast in my opinion. Ghost shrimp is like candy to a wide variety of saltwater fish. Literally anything will eat them which means more fish to be caught. The thing that I like about using ghost shrimp is that you never know what your going to catch because so many different fish go after them. You can use ghost shrimp in the bays, beaches or out deep in the ocean. 

Where to get ghost shrimp?
There's a couple options when wanting to get ghost shrimp
  • Your local tackle/bait shop may have some for sale. However, buying ghost shrimp at a local tackle shop can get a little expensive in my opinion. 
  • Buy or make your own ghost shrimp pump. Your local tackle shops should have many ghost shrimp pumps for sale. They usually sell for around 30.00 and is well worth the money in my opinion. You can also search "How to make a ghost shrimp pump". 
When getting your own ghost shrimp make sure you have a fishing license. The limit is 50 ghost shrimp per fishing license. Also, when pumping ghost shrimp make sure it's low tide (negative tide is best). Go out to your local bays or lagoons and look for small holes in the sand. That is where you need to pump.

Fish ghost shrimp on a "baitholder" style hook to ensure the shrimp doesn't fall off. Also, fish ghost shrimp on a carolina rig or drop shot rig on the bottom. There is a small slit at the end of the shrimps tail. Put the point of the hook through that small slit and slide through the tail so the shrimp covers a majority of the hook. Be careful because they are very fragile.

This is how to pump ghost shrimp

If you want a good laugh!

Friday, February 18, 2011

New T&C swim grubs

I've heard a lot about these new 3" swim grubs made by T&C Lures in San Diego. There's a lot of people catching nice fish on these baits, so I decided to go ahead and order some. These baits are half swimbait half grub "swimgrub". I also ordered some 1/4 ounce leadheads from the same company that match up perfect with the swimgrub. I can tell that the curly tail is going to provide a lot of action.

My first impression of these baits are great. They look and feel really nice. I can tell the makers put a lot of time and effort on these baits. They even come with a little scent on them which is nice. These are the colors that I ordered: Ghost shrimp, aquamarine, razor clam and black widow. Im really looking forward to fishing these new baits and catching tons of fish on them. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Soaking Bait

If your not in the mood to use artificial baits there's always the option of soaking bait. It's called soaking bait because you simply put the bait on the hook, cast it out, sit back and see what happens. Soaking bait is nice sometimes because you can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery while fishing at the same time.

Where to get bait?

There's a couple of options to choose from when wanting to get real bait

  1. You can buy bait at local stores such as bait and tackle stores, seafood city, asian markets and even some Wal-Marts carry frozen bait. 
  2. You can always catch your own bait such as mackerel, smelt and anchovies at local piers. All you need is a Sabiki rig a couple feet from the top and jig it up and down. If fishing for bait at night you will need a glow stick, a small hook, split shot weights and a small piece of squid or mackerel. Try to keep the bait a couple feet from the top. 
Frozen baits I've had experience with:

  •  Mackerel - Cut small pieces of mackerel on a carolina rig or even a drop shot rig. Great for bass, halibut, stingrays, bat rays and sharks. The bloodier the better in my opinion. 
  • Anchovies - Pretty much the same as mackerel. However, when frozen anchovies start to defrost they get very mushy and is harder to keep the on the hook. 
  • Squid - Actually, I don't believe I've ever caught anything off of squid, but I do know that a lot of people catch stingrays, bat rays, sharks, and bass off of squid. Cut a small rectangular strip of squid and put it on a carolina rig or drop shot rig 
  • Mussel - Mussel is a great bait to soak because it will catch a variety of fish
  • Ghost shrimp - The ultimate fishing bait for fishing the saltwater of Southern California. I will cover ghost shrimp later. This bait is my personal favorite. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Drop shot technique

Drop shotting is all about finesse. This is how I like to fish the drop shot rig:

  • Cast as far as I can
  • Let it sink to the bottom
  • Reel in slack and point rod at about 10 o'clock
  • Now shake the rod tip up and down while keeping the sinker on the ground (do not lift sinker off the bottom). This should be done using your wrist
  • Do this for about 3-5 seconds then stop
  • Slooowly reel in bait for about 3-5 seconds then stop
  • Repeat process until bait is back to you
The trick is to present the bait as an injured fish when shaking the rod tip up and down. I try to imagine what the bait looks like under the water when doing this. Most of the time the bite comes right after the shaking or when slowly working the bait towards you. 
Spotted bay bass caught by using the drop shot technique listed above

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fishing rigs

80% of the time I use the drop shot rig while fishing in the bays of San Diego. The drop shot rig is a well known rig for use in freshwater fishing, but it can also be very productive in saltwater fishing. Some of my most successful days fishing were done with the drop shot rig. Here is a picture of what the drop shot rig looks like...

How to tie the drop shot rig: First tie on the hook using a palomar knot (Make sure you leave enough spare line to tie on the sinker). Also, make sure the hook is sitting in the upright position. Then simply tie on the sinker 10 to 12 inches below the hook. It's a good idea to leave a space of 10 to 12 inches between the hook and sinker to ensure the bait stays in the "strike zone". 

The other rig that I like to use for fishing use the Carolina rig. The Carolina rig consist of an egg sinker, bead, swivel and hook. I like to use the Carolina rig for fishing live or cut bait. It is also a common rig used in surf fishing. 

How to tie the Carolina rig: First guide the fishing line through the holes of the sinker. Then slide the bead onto the line. Tie on the swivel. Now get another piece of fishing line (I prefer using flourocarbon line) and tie one end to the swivel. I like to tie on the hook about 12 inches from the swivel, but its really up to you on how long you want the line.