The Allure of Big Sur
Kayak fishing the Big Sur Coast
by The Lost Anchovy
“keith when are we going to big sur? We gotta go. It’s our annual trip!”
“You are just trying to trick me to rock fish with you.” I looked suspiciously.
“Haha dude …let’s do it.”
“Alright, but only because it is our annual trip.”
The Majestic view of the sweeping ocean and the pristine waters of Big Sur always bring me back like sirens to the weary fishing vessel lost at sea. Come to my shores and get my bounty, and eat sh*t on my surf line.
JT arrived my house in the dark hours of the morning. JT’s beard made him look like Master sifu from kunfu panda while his laugh mimics Eddie Murphy. His sweet pants and fish all day every day sweater with a rockfish logo, used to elicit my disgust reaction, says it all—This will be a fish trip to his chagrin.
His smile, which ran ear to ear, says a lot about this man. I have fished with JT for well over 7 years. We have battled White Sea Bass, Trophy Salmon and door barn halibut, but his true love has always been the Rockfish, which confuses me to this day and leaves me without a sound rebuttal to his logic that RF are better than halibut. (A debate which I am not sure will not end anytime soon.)
We drove down 101 and into King city before making the trek through the windy cutbacks that led to Big Sur. We arrived at 9 a.m. as the sun made its way over the coastline and pushed back the marine layer.
“Dude where are we going to stay?”
“Man I’m gonna get hammered. Let’s figure it out from there.”
“Keith we just got here.”
“and…”, as I open a beer and start to drink it down.
a few hours passed and I’m hammered.
“Dude JT. I think you need to speak with the camp host. I’m sure I’m not going to be the best representative for us. “(Burp)
“Hahah ok I got this.”
“Hi, my friend and I would like to know if you have a spot for the night?” JT asked politely but with a hint of anxiety as the camp host approached us.
“Hmmm… is your friend drunk? We don’t allow open drunkenness on the premise. There are families and kids around. I’m sorry we don’t have space available!!”
“Ohhh hmm…No No …he’s just retarded…uh…mentally challenged. I’m taking him on a camping trip for this charity I work with.”
“Oh…how sweet. That’s a very nice thing you are doing. I guess we can accommodate you for a few days, and your disabled friend.”
“Thank you…Thank you…I think this trip will do him wonders.”Jt looking relieved
Crazy arrived in the late afternoon and we set up camp, and prepped our gear for the morning.
We woke up to dense fog, a slight westerly breeze, and calm seas. JT, Crazy and I made our way to the launch site after breakfast. The ocean was flat and inviting, a break from past trips, where making it through the surf zone was considered a successful trip.
We made our way through the surf and paddled out to the kelp beds already teeming with life. JT was emitting joy like a fat kid who just found the hidden chocolate cake hidden by his parents. JT knew—He was home; It was heaven, pure and simple for this rock fish man.
Each drop produced a fish. The blacks and blues were thick through out the water column with large olives in the mix, while the vermillion, our target fish, were dispersed on the bottom attacking anything resembling a meal. We worked the water all morning with great success. My first verm came 20 minutes into trip, followed by another then another, while countless other species were release and descended safety back into the ocean.
“JT biggest RF or Sheep head wins?”
“hahah All you can eat sushi?”
“All good with me. Since you will be paying. Hahah”
The myth of Big Sur verms was going to be tested today. REDS were on the menu for this challenge and fish were going to be sacrificed.
THEN…. By mid morning I got the radio call.
“Keith…HAHAHHA” The sound of the laugh was pure evil.
“Whatcha got hommie?” Having already knew, he had a contender by the sound of his voice.
“ You ever had a sheep head?, hahahah SUSHI SUSHI SUSHI!!!”
“Are you drunk on RF?” sounding doubtful and a little hopeful he was pulling my leg.
“hahahaha It’s over man!”
“You’re probably right. I’m out of beers. We probably need to head in soon.”
We fished in conditions most anglers would consider a dream. The swells started to pick up by late afternoon and making it in safely became our top priority. After a huge set the day before that rocked the launch site, most of us were on edge about the landing.
Crazy and I were relatively safe due to our modest catch, but JT with his 25 lb sheep head, stacks of Vermilions and various rock fish was prime suspect to pay rent on the surf line.
“Yo Keith…”, JT radioed.
“ You really think I’m gonna eat sht on the surf? Hahahh” JT smiles nervously.
“HELL YAH!! You raped this place. The fish gods are gonna want to be paid. I think crazy and I will be ok tho. Hahah” I joked…maybe...given how he was rubbing his sheep head in all morning, and listing out what types of sushi he was going to have. (in detail BTW). LOL =)
JT laughed in acknowledgement but thoughts of crashing waves played in his mind. His eyes transmitted his thoughts.
“Please fish gods have mercy on me today.”
He became increasingly religious by the time we came close to the surf line. I made my way in first to assist the others. The waves broke behind me but I was able to glide in smoothly . On land I reached into my pocket, pulled out my GoPro, turned it on, and positioned it on a near by rock.
“JT you ready??” I smirked.
The waves were increasing building behind him. He waited outside the breakers as the large set rocked the launch.
“Holy SHT!!” JT clamored over the radio.
“It’s ok. That was just a warning shot by the fish gods. Throw away your fish and cancel the bet. I’m sure they will have mercy on you. hahaha”
and JT rushed into the cove with his stack of fish dangling on the side of his Kayak.
He paddled with purpose and conviction. Each stroke was an earned California, Spider, Unagi, yellowtail, or Blue Fin tuna roll. The thought of sushi blocked out the impending set building behind him.
It was now or never. The wave started to lift his kayak up before he set the paddle down into the surf and rode the wave into land.
“YES YES YES!!!!! THANK YOU FISH GODS!” He jumped in celebration, and relief, as I pulled his yak to shore.
“HAHA you lucky bastard.”
“Thank you KEITH!! Hahaha California rolls, spider, Blue Fin Tuna …”
“HAHAHA”, I laughed with him–He deserved it.
Crazy made it in with little fanfare, and we all made it back safely. We popped the remaining beers and enjoyed the warmth of the afternoon sun.
The conclusion to another successful trip marked the pinnacle of summer. The annual Big Sur trips have become more than a fishing trip. It is a time to share lasting memories with friends. Sometimes the journey and gathering is more important then the destination.
“SUSHI SUSHI SUSHI!!”
“HAHA I hate you… Good times!”
THE LOST ANCHOVY