Hitting the Jacksmelt

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Andrew & Nate cast netting off Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

Reviewing the San Francisco Bay tide tables last Monday, I noted early afternoon high tide numbers for the weekend and asked two buddies if they had any interest in chasing herring in the North Bay. They did, and yesterday afternoon, at Point Tiburon’s Elephant Rock Pier, we failed to find herring but made the acquaintance of Pacific jacksmelt aplenty.

There’s something about getting into a school of “forage fish” that turns you into a 12-year-old, and a soft-spoken local teenager who fished alongside us with rod and reel could only gawk at the three man-children with their cast nets and buckets of fish. It was all smiles, laughs, and high fives.

Folks familiar with my longtime practice of only eating meat (including fish) that I’ve hunted or caught myself (or that a family member or friend has killed and brought to the table) will understand how delighted I am to have a freezer full of fish as well as plenty of jacksmelt pasta, jacksmelt sandwiches, and fried jacksmelt on the menu for the coming week. Pickled jack smelt? Yeah, maybe that, too.

And what a place to procure protein! Just across Raccoon Strait from Angel Island, we flung our nets southwest toward the Golden Gate as pelicans arrowed into the water nearby, low crowds of double-crested cormorants passed silently over the surface, and sea lions rolled and nosed out of the bay to compare our fishing technique with their own.

It was a glorious afternoon outing.

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Andrew throwing his cast net; Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Double-crested cormorants passing by Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Nate throwing his cast net toward the Golden Gate from Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Nate with his cast net at Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Jacksmelt in the bucket; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Nate with jacksmelt in his cast net on Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Andrew depositing a haul; Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

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Still more jacksmelt in the bucket; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

Photo credits: © Christopher Reiger, 2015

Categories: California, fish, natural history, and photography.

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