Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hollister, CA
Bikes: Bianchi San Jose, Mercian King of Mercia
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Most of the shore fishing you'll see on the CA coast is surf casting, using great big long rods. There are two other (lighter and more portable options). I've had great fun using light tackle. A typical spinning rod used for trout, loaded with 4-6 lb test is ideal. Put a sliding egg sinker above a swivel, and add a snelled hook in the 6 range. Lace on a motor oil-colored screwtail worm and wade in about waist deep.
Look for channels where the water recedes and cast there. Surf perch go for this rig, and they put up a good fight. Be sure to rinse the reel and guides in fresh water every time you use it to keep corrosion down.
Another approach that I've got less experience with, but that some employ especially in SoCal where the water's warmer is to carry a handline. Rig the terminal tackle of your choice, then swim parallel to shore with it. A mask and fins are very helpful here.