by Thomas Beutel

There always a first for everything. This morning I was fishing at Crissy Field for halibut, trying my best to get that bite which is ever so rare. It takes a bit of concentration. At first I fished a large 5-1/2 inch swimbait. I wasn’t getting any bites but it was casting real well and the lure has quite a presence. Unfortunately after about 2 hours of casting it I got snagged and lost it. That was partly my fault. I whipped the rod and snapped the monofilament leader. Next time I’ll be a bit more patient and see if I can loosen it by trying different angles.

Losing lures is all part of fishing, although it’s been rare that I’ve lost lures at Crissy. It is almost all sand after all. But it does happen.

So I decided to put on a chrome spoon. A few days ago I caught some small surfperch on it, both at Crissy and Ocean Beach. But I know that halibut will strike it as well. And sure enough I got a couple of strikes. I’m guessing they were surfperch but you just never know.

I made my way over to the tide station in the small area between the station and the weir that protects it. I was standing in about 2 feet of water. Being in a wave-protected area, the water is particularly calm. I cast the spoon out and just moments later saw a jacksmelt jump not to far from where I was reeling it in. Hmm, I thought, a jumping smelt? Could it be being chased by a halibut? I’m ever the optimist. Then as I reeled in some more, I felt a really good deep strike. Wow, that felt like a bigger fish. But somehow I missed it.

Now I was even more determined. Next time I would really try to set the hook. So I cast a couple more times. And sure enough I got a good strike, so I reared back… and then I promptly slipped and fell backwards into the water! I got my backpack wet and probably a couple of gallons of saltwater in my waders. I was soaked down to my undies.

But in those milliseconds before I fell I also knew that I had hooked the fish. So I scrambled out of the water, dripping, and reeled in a… jacksmelt.

It was just one of those moments when you know it’s time to pack it in and go home.