Posted by: socalsalty | August 29, 2011

Trip Report: Yak-ing With Hook Ideas (Newport Harbor)

Joe of Hook Ideas and a sweet yacht

Last summer, when I first started kayak fishing, I was digging around for information and ran across a guide service that takes you out kayaking in Newport Harbor.  It looked like fun, but at the time I had gotten into a nice groove going down to San Diego to kayak fish off Shelter Island Pier.  From the first time I went out and scored 2 spotted bay bass, I was hooked and figured why mess with a good thing.  Then in May I was fishing with Dan Hernandez out of Helgren’s (Oceanside) on a trip to San Clemente Island, and met Joe of Hook Ideas.  Joe told me his home fishery was kayak fishing in Newport and we said we’d connect this summer so he could show me how he does it.  Yesterday, we finally connected for said yak fishing trip.

I met Joe and his friend Ted at the launch spot at around 6am, just as dawn was breaking over the million dollar homes and mega-yachts in Newport Harbor.  I had brought what I considered my light gear, but Joe gave me two spinning setups to use instead.  Both looked about the same…20lb braid on a small spinning reel and light spinning rods…one for throwing plastics, and the other to throw spinner baits.  Throwing plastics and spinnerbaits is not something I do a whole lot of, so I was looking forward to doing it with someone who knew how to use them.

Spotty on a spinner

After our launch, we worked the slips and various cover areas close to the launch point.  It gave me some time to get used to the kayak and the spinning gear and shortly after starting I scored my first fish of the day, a nice spotted bay bass.  The spotty bit on Joe’s spinner with a black/red skirt and a chovy looking 3 inch plastic on the hook.  As you can see in the pic, I also picked up a bit of the eel grass that these bass call home.  I figured out that the trick was to get to the bottom without getting hung up on the grass, so that the bait swam just above the eel grass.  When it was swimming correctly, without the encumbrance of eel grass, it had a smooth, kind of pulsing feel to the retrieve.

We headed out to the mouth of the harbor by the bait dock and Joe told me that we’d spend the bulk of the day working drifts from there.  On the first drift, I watched a shore angler take a decent size flattie (halibut), so I was pretty excited about the potential of crossing that elusive fish off my Top 10.  After a couple drifts and no bites though, I decided to focus on hanging out around the bait shack.

Spotty 2 on the Death Shimmer

One of the more interesting finds when I went to ICAST was the Death Shimmer spinnerbait.  This lure has been a big hit amongst the bass crowd.  You fish it the same way as other spinners, but the secret sauce is the funky shaped arm creating extra vibration that fish feel and react on.  I’d had this lure sitting in my tackle box since returning from the show and I figured what better time to bust it out.  I attached a purplish and white 3 inch swimbait, threw it along the length of the dock and began to retrieve it.  BAM! another spotty.

I like this spinner thing 🙂  With the Death Shimmer in tow, that same pulsing sensation on the retrieve took on a weightier feel.  It seems that there really is something to it.

Joe wanted to start making our way back though so we let the drift take us back toward the launch point.  Midway back, throwing what he calls the Newport Special, a shrimpy looking split tail plastic, Joe latched onto the fish of the day, a short cuda.  I also scored one more spotty on the Death Shimmer before we called it a day.  All in all, a beautiful day on the water (and in my case IN also…just being prepared…practicing re-entry ;-)).  Thanks Hook Ideas.  Thanks Death Shimmer.  Tight lines!

Joe takes "jackpot" with a cuda

Spotty 3 on the Death Shimmer

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