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10/11/12. Thursday. Consecutive numbers on the date. It had to be a sign of luck. I had been eyeballing the surf forecast for a few days. It was looking good. 2-4′ swell at 14 seconds, light winds at 5kts, sunny skies with patchy fog. We had a huge storm moving in for the weekend that was going to bring a 5″ end to our rainless summer. I just had to hit up Pacific City to get a little salty before winter.

I made it to PC around 730 in the morning. The sun was just working its way over the Coast Range and the fog was trying to decide what it was going to do. It was chilly too, but I planned ahead with plenty NRS layering options. I had to park in the main parking lot because the dry summer made launch on the beach impossible for me to do without a truck. I begrudgingly pulled my cart out of the car and got the Cuda loaded up for the dredge through soft sand down to the beach.

The surf was breaking right on the beach. That made launching easy, especially with the 14 second interval. Wait for the break, hop on the kayak and start paddling. Surf launch complete. It was just about as easy as possible and wasn’t even a challenge for the Jackson Cuda.

On the other side of the surf zone, things were pretty flat. There was a bit of a wind chop, but nothing serious. The long period between the small swell made them almost unnoticeable. I started paddling NW to fish the reef and started my bottom fishing right where I caught the wolf eel the last time I was at PC. The current was minimal and the touch of wind put me onto a great drift right along the reef. I couldn’t have been happier.

I pulled up a few fish from the bottom, and the fishing was decent to say the least. A couple out-of-season cabezon, undersized lingcod, even a good 14″ long flounder which was a surprise. I kept seeing bait balls on the sonar, but I really wasn’t getting hit like I expected. I continued working my drift knowing that I would get into the fish sooner or later. I also lost some good fish. My fault. Note to self: Sharpen Hooks. Especially since I’ve been using the exact same leader, jigs and flies all summer long. They’ve been poked through dozens of fish, snagged up on rocks, and generally need some work.

As the fog shifted, I saw a bunch of birds. More bait. Gotta be. They weren’t really crashing into the water, but they were hanging out, waiting for something to happen. They were spread out on nearly an acre of water. I was drifting their direction so I figured I’d find out what was going on soon enough.

I kept working my drift. I’d back track on occasion to target some arches I saw on the screen. I was picking up fish here and there, but really nothing to write home about. I was also missing due to the dull hooks I mentioned earlier.

I caved. I had to push the issue. I made the quick paddle just to the edge of where the birds were gathering and dug out my spinning rod from inside the rod locker on the Cuda. I already had a small PK Flutter Fish tied on (had hoped to do some walleye fishing after work the day before), so I gave it a cast, counted to 10, and fish on! The first black rockfish to the kayak, on on light gear, they put up quite the fight! I loved it.

I put the fish on the stringer and cast out again. Boom! Another! I worked the fish to the kayak. It was smaller so I released it, but not before noticing it was puking up anchovies. This was a nice bait ball!

This went on and on for a couple hours. I was picking up fish 2 out of 3 casts. This was just too much fun on my lighter tackle. You see, I normally fish a heavy jigging rod, rigged up with 50# braid and a custom 8oz PK Panic jig. Even if you’re not catching fish, working this setup can make shoulder muscles burn. Now I was casting a 3/8oz PK Flutter Fish spoon (red-dot glow with custom tied single point hook) on Fikkes spinning rod with 20# braid. The rockfish were putting up a great fight too, bending the rod deep into the butt section, running under and around the boat. It was epic.

I kept a few fish here and there. I know I kept the first one, and I kept the 25th fish to the kayak, and I lost count after that. In the end, I kept only 6 fish, less than a full limit, and called it good enough. The bait had dissipated. The clock pointed out it was nearly time to me to head back home. I put spinning rod in the holder and picked up the big bottom rod for another pass. Still fishing dull hooks on that rod, I missed a couple nice bites and decided I had enough.

There were a few other guys fishing from kayaks at Haystack Rock, a place I haven’t fished since last year. Unfortunately their fishing wasn’t as successful. A couple even going home empty handed.

The fog was coming back in and I was in a rush to get back to Portland for an appointment. It was time to bring it all home and call it day. And what an epic day it was