I don’t really fish freshwater. Last year I did some river fishing for salmon. Earlier this year, I did some lake and stream fishing for trout in Montana. As a general rule though, I’m a saltwater guy. So when Oliver Solis of Fishing Syndicate asked me to try out the Bays & Lakes series of rods, I was a little hesitant. I guess it was the Lakes part of the name that threw me off. I’m glad I pushed forward and fished them anyway…
Surf & Jetty
My first foray into this series of rods was the FSG Bass 800SP MH (spinning rod rated 10-20). When I first moved to the SD/Rosarito area, I was fishing the beach the same way I did when I called the LA and OC beaches home. I used a salmon/steelhead rod with a very light, fast tip. It didn’t matter though because I typically only used a ¼ to a ½ ounce of weight, rigged Carolina-style, fishing very light line (4#) for surf species…perch and corbina mostly, but with the occasional shark or halibut in the mix.
When I started fishing down here, I reached out to a surf guide buddy of mine, Nick Heid. Nick took me out and showed me how he fishes the beach. He said he always uses an ounce of weight and 15# test (vs. the 4# I was used to). Hmmm…that wasn’t going to work with my current setup. I needed something a little stouter. Enter the 800MH.
Although this rod is rated ¼ to ¾ ounce lure weight, it throws 1-ounce sliding sinker just fine. Using it in a Carolina Rig setup, fishing an 8# fluorocarbon leader (just can’t quite go all the way up to 15), I found it a capable rod for this style of fishing on the beach. The attribute I liked the most was the sensitivity of the rod. I’m easily able to detect and set on little perch bites. This rod also felt good throwing a Lucky Craft Flash Minnow 110 for when I wanted to target halibut. It was good to not have to bring 2 rods to fish the beach. I soon found myself keeping this rod in the car.
Because it was there in the car, and being in San Diego more often than when I lived in LA, I started using it to fish the Shelter Island Pier and off the rocks in the same area.
The rod excelled in this application too. Using it in this fashion, I’ve been able to catch every species of saltwater bass (calico, sand and spotted) as well as halibut. For this application, I usually throw a dropshot plastic with ¾ to an ounce of weight. But when I want to change up and throw a swimbait, it can do that too. Talk about versatility. Having one rod that I could comfortably use on the sand, off the rocks, and on the pier is a godsend.
I joked with Oliver that he should make this rod a 9-footer and name it the Surf & Jetty rod. He didn’t think that was a terrible idea…so I’m sure we’ll definitely see it in the future!
Corbina on Steroids – Surprising Backbone
Because I was liking this rod so much, I had it shipped out so I could use it when I went to Venice, Louisiana to fish redfish with my buddy Tony Caira. Up to this point, the only fish that pulled drag on me while using this rod was that bigger spotted bass (above). I was looking forward to testing the rod’s limits on hard fighting redfish.
If you have never fished for these fish, and you needed a local So Cal fish to compare it to, I’d call them corbina on steroids. We fished them in very shallow water, usually 3-feet or less. Sometimes they would be so shallow, you could actually see the top of their dorsal fin and tail in the really skinny water. They have that same almost timid bite, but when they realize they are hooked they go on thrilling, drag-screaming runs just like a corbina – ONLY STRONGER!