Casting For Your Catch
Casting for dinner appeals to the thrifty at heart. A rod, a reel a fewlead-weighted lures and a rock are all that you require. The alternative- a boat - gets you out to the fish but costs an arm and a leg. I have hada boat for nearly twenty years and dont remember a five minute stretchin which repairs werent needed. So for me, casting has a great dealof nostalgic charm.
Casting rods have a few features of note. The rod should be at least8 ½ feet long - to provide height and snap. Try a few practice castsin the store. If the tip does not snap, it is too hard to pass momentumfrom rod to lure. If the tip whips, it is too soft and more suited to mooching.I am not a fan of ceramic line guides - they tend to fail in use -, however,they have far less friction than the alternatives and this allows for along cast, something that is essential in shore casting. For the same reason,choose a rod with fewer line guides.
Anything you can do to eliminate drag will help propell your lure towhere the big ones lie. The larger the casting reel (also called an openface reel) the easier line will zing from the drum. Buy the largest reelin the store, and the one with the largest bale. This reel need not be expensive,however, more expensive casting reels have better ball bearings or evenjewel bearings and the expense pays off for the committed shore caster.
Fishing line also influences casting distance. A shore caster encountersbottom problems more frequently than in other types of fishing, so heavierline makes sense. Cheaper, 25 pound test allows the caster to retrieve luresfrom rocks and kelp by bending the hooks, but does not cast as far. Twentypound test, on the other hand, casts further and results in fewer backlashproblems, although a few lures will be lost. For the person whose anglingis restricted to shore casting, an expensive, limp monofilament line couldwell be a good investment. Braided line is the ultimate, but requires theuse of a 6 foot monofilament leader. Braided line has another downside:the fish can see it; resident bottom fish become extremely wary where castingis common.
Casting lures are the same as those used for
Constructed of lead, these lures have the
weightto be casted some distance. As a minimum, every tackle box should have afew Buzz Bombs and Stingsildas. In the 40 gram weight, the former lure castsvery effectively. Try also freshwater casting lures, the Len Thompson varietyfor example. Saltwater spoons, on the other hand, prove too light for casting.This problem can be alleviated by adding a 1 oz rubbercore weight 2 feetabove the lure.
As there are many miles of shoreline, wharves and rocks, finding a suitableplace to cast requires some consideration. Ask for local information, thenposition yourself at the spot. Pay close attention to the locations fromwhich fish are taken. They will be few. In a half mile breakwater, for instance,there may be only four or five short sections where fish, both salmon andbottom fish, are taken consistently. And these will change depending ontidal flow. Remember that the tide changes direction about every six hoursand the fish get pushed into different backeddies.
Take time to learn the nuances of your area: the kelp beds and openingsthat form on ebb and flood tides; bottom contours, noted by bottom-bumpinghookless lures; the location of boulders; and, where reefs approach theshore or drop-offs occur. Pore over the area chart until you have it memorized,then, after fishing, draw a diagram in your log. This log should includeall fish that you or anyone else catches. And remember, when a successfulangler decides to leave, ask specific information about his or her catch.Then immediately take that spot and do exactly what has just proved successful.Shore fishing really is this precise, and forming a three dimensional picturein your head will help.
Once you are fishing with craft and intensity, remember that there isan unwritten etiquette to shore fishing. Spots such as Argonaut Wharf in
or Beechy Headon Juan de Fuca Strait can be packed with shore casters. Do not move intoa spot unless there is 6 feet of room on either side. Do not take someonesspot. Make sure to cast toward the same area as other fishers and neverever cast across lines. This is a recipe for disaster, as line tangles andfrayed nerves result.
Recall always that the ocean has a current and fish it as you would astream; cast the lure across the current and fish the lure as it swingstoward shore. Never cast up current as the lure will be pushed toward youon slack line. This may deposit the lure on the bottom from where it maynever return. When casting from a boat toward a herring ball in late summerand early fall, stand on the bow and cast forward into the current. Whilethis is counterintuitive, the alternative of casting to the side resultsin the lure being swung toward the stern and into trolling and downriggerlines.
The nerve wracking moment arrives sometime after the big bite has occurred.Only then does it become obvious how difficult it will be to net your slabfrom shore. Normally there will be kelp in front of you or twenty feet ofair below you. Two options present themselves: let the fish take line untilit is further out than others are fishing and then work your way to a suitablenetting spot; or, play the fish until it is belly up and tuckered out. Then,in one smooth movement, with your rod tip held high, draw the fish directlyacross surface kelp or other obstruction into the net that is already waitingfor it. You will only have one chance. May the gods be with you.