I’ve had a lot of time on the rivers lately, but as it’s fishing season in the Monterey Bay, I wanted to recount one of my favorite ocean excursions. While my first love will always be the fly rod, I still can appreciate rigging up a deep sea rod and enjoying some time on the ocean.
Like most fishing trips, this one began with a blaring alarm going off before the crack of dawn. As I heaved myself out of bed, I acknowledged yet another foggy morning in Santa Cruz, CA. But it was time to fish, so I quickly tossed my hair in a bun, and threw on layers of clothing; just in case the fog decided to burn off. Our vessel for the day was a boat that one of my fellow steelhead junkie friends Dustin had purchased for $600. Score! While not state of the art, she was seaworthy and ready for the adventure we were about to embark on.
After stocking up on beer and snacks at the tackle shop, we launched the boat and were off to sea. The fog was dense, and although there were many other boats on the bay, we were ensconced in a quiet blanket of mist; it felt like ours was the only boat on the water. Just after leaving the harbor, to the port side of the boat, a large grey bump arose on calm waters. Too small and solitary to be a set wave and too big to be a seal, it peaked our curiosity. But just as quick as it had appeared, it was gone. “Wait, was that…? Naw, couldn’t be a whale that close to shore.” A few moments passed but the mysterious bump did not appear again.
Turning our gaze back out to sea we pushed on, venturing further out across the gentle waves. A movement out of the corner of my eye had me doing a double take. “Look, it is a WHALE!” I blurted out. The lump had appeared again in the unmistakable form of a giant whale; the only complication was that it was directly off the port side of the boat. We were on a collision course with a 40 ton creature. Now as you can imagine, a humble boat does not stand a chance against a grey whale. Our quick thinking captain immediately killed the engine and the big grey passed right in front of us; a narrow miss.
While we were fishing that morning, we must have seen at least a dozen more whales. It was such a awe-inspiring day on the water. Witnessing these majestic beasts breaching all around the boat, sometimes within arms length, was thrilling and exquisite. Captain Ahab would have had a field day!
When the whale watching boats arrived packed with rubber-necking tourists and cameras hanging around their necks, I’m sure we made quite the spectacle. Three fishers in a wee boat amidst a pod of whales. It was a day for the books. I even managed to bring home the biggest fish of the day, a fierce-looking ling cod.