View Full Version : Surf Smelt

09-06-2005, 04:46 PM
I was wondering if anyone here knew what time of year and what tides worked the best for Surf smelt,day fish or night fish You know the small fish that look like Grunion but from northern CA
Thanks for any help

09-07-2005, 06:21 AM
;D Fishbutt21, the only place I know of that has regular runs of surf smelt is Martin's Beach in Halfmoon Bay. You have to pay to get in but it's a nice beach, parking, and restrooms are close. People use Hawaiian throw nets for them. The runs are from April thru July/Aug every year. 8)

09-07-2005, 03:23 PM
Hey Fishbutt21 thats my specialty, surfsmelt,Ive been surfsmelt fishing in HMB for over 20 years now. KauaiBoy is correct, the surfsmelt runs take place in HMB. They usually start around mid March at Dunes and Venice Beach just North of the HMB state beach. They hang there until about May when they start moving south toward the State Beach, Poplar, and Strawberry Beach (AKA Redondo Beach Rd.)From May to Oct. you can find the surfsmelt at Rope Beach (Aka Cowell Beach) and of course Martins Beach from now till the end of Oct.

09-07-2005, 03:59 PM
Thanks this is all great info ;D All of my experience has been in the fort Bragg/westport area for day fish and Bodega bay to Jenner for night fish

09-07-2005, 04:11 PM
Oh, forgot to mention, the night smelt do run at HMB state beach, thats where most of the night smelt guys go. Havent heard of too much night smelt , most of the night smelt runs occurred in May, June, July. Pretty much day smelt now. Oh, and if your still an A-frame fishermen, better get a cast net, the A-frames dont work too well down here. :)

09-08-2005, 06:28 AM
:o Lawaia, thanks for the thorough info, I've only tried Martin's over the years. The only other place I've tried was Jenner Beach at the mouth of the Russian river with my Dad back in the 60's. I'll have to try the other beaches you mentioned. I've used an A-Frame but now I use a throw net exclusively. What diameter net are you throwing? :)

09-08-2005, 10:54 AM
Hi everyone...I'm a newbie to surf smelt and would like some recommendations on cast nets. What brand, size, and material nets do you guys use. Where's a good place to purchase these nets either locally in the bay area or on the net? Hope to join you guys on the beach in the future after I get some needed practice in throwing the nets. Thanks in advance for any info.

09-08-2005, 01:40 PM

You might want to try Ten Mile Beach (the one in Mendocino). I have had great success there before. Also, there is a bridge just north or Westport with easy access and lots o' fish. I cant remember the name of the bridge but it is the only one around so it's not hard to find.

My method is to park on one of the bluffs with my binoculars. When the sun goes down and the pelicans start hammering the water, it's on! Zip over there and get your fish. Last time I was there, there were so many fish I could feel them bumping into my legs every time a wave came in. My 8 year old nephew was pulling them out by hand!!

Good luck!

09-08-2005, 02:44 PM
:)GT, I'm not sure what's up in your area. I'm in San Jose and there are a few places like Fisherman's Warehouse, The Fishery, and Ly's Bait and Tackle, that carry throw nets. Cabela's catalog has them for sale also. I'd check with Lawaia, he probably knows where to get the best ones and which diameter to buy. I use a 10 ft. diameter net that's made of monofilament. Those smelt do taste good deep fried crispy so you can eat them whole, head and all. Good to the last bite! ;)

09-08-2005, 03:43 PM

If there is any way for you to try throwing a net before you buy it, that is the way to go. I bought a 10' diameter net and it is too big for me. You really dont need a big net, if the fish are there you can catch them by the dozens on every cast.

Good luck!

09-08-2005, 10:36 PM

the nets come in 8'10'12'15'
and the 10' is the most common and about the best
size to learn on and throw....

put the rope around your wrist...
grab the top of the net,
fold over and then again about 1/3 down w/right hand
now with the left pull up to your right hand 3/4 grabs
of the leads at the bottom to your right hand.
now take 3 grabs in your right hand
then throw it with your right hand with a slight arcing
motion and release the left hand just a little after
the right hand release,this open's up the net..
this should create a cricle on the water and with practice
you will throw better more round throws....good luck

09-09-2005, 12:42 AM
Hello everyone, I have several nets all of which are hand made. My biggest net is 7ft diameter which is a 14ft radius when fully opened. I vary from a 6 to 7ft net. Although I can throw a an 8ft net, its not recommended and not very effective because the smelt usually are moving fast, so u need to throw quickly with distance. An 8 footer is as easy to throw as a smaller net, but hard to get distance with and too heavy to throw quickly. I throw shoulder style, so a 8 or 10 footer is no problem for me, but I wouldnt use one for surfsmelt. If I could give some advice on buying a net, I would get one with round or football shaped weights. The pipe style weights dont sink as fast, due to the oblong shape causing more resistance when sinking in the water. 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 lb weight per foot of net is ideal IMHO. Anything lighter wont sink fast enough in the surf, remember sometimes not all the time, these fish are FAST moving especially if the fish are in deeper water. 3/8 mesh, and a shorter hand line like no longer than 16-18 ft. Most nets come with 26ft handline, which is way too long. As for indicators when the fish run, #1 is the Tern, usually he will fly along the shallow surf looking down, when he see's fish he will either stop and hover or dive in water less than 1ft deep. When u see a turn dive in shallow water, 9 out of 10 times, the smelt are in the surf. Other indicators are Comorants close to shore, diving and coming up with fish, and seals sliding in the shallows feeding. But when the birds and seals are around, you have to rely on someone actually getting in the water and looking for the fish. Its hard sometimes but its so fun just watching the smelt spawn in the surf, big schools, making the surf black in color now thats a site to see! IMHO, Id rather surfsmelt than do any other type of fishing, but then again, thats me and Ive done this type of fishing for over 20 years. ;D
The smelt should be around till the end of October, so If you got a net, come on out to one of the beaches in HMB and try it out!

09-10-2005, 09:32 AM
one more quick question?? what is the best tide to fish? high,low * *the incomming or outgoing
Thanks everyone for the help ;D

09-11-2005, 06:17 PM
one more quick question?? what is the best tide to fish? high,low * *the incomming or outgoing
Thanks everyone for the help ;D

Two hours before and after high tide is my rule of thumb.

09-11-2005, 08:16 PM
Here's a helpful link... ;)