Strumming for Guitarfish

There have been a string of Great White Shark sightings around the La Jolla/San Diego area, and after surfing in ‘shark-infested’ waters, I decided that I would try catch these beasts myself. A few years ago, while night fishing, I saw a man and his 2 sons pull up huge 6 foot leopard sharks from the shore, and I vowed to myself that I too would do the same.

In preparation for the event, I defrosted some bonita and mahi mahi that I had caught in Cabo this past winter. Normally, I would not use such high quality fish for bait, but because I was uneducated in the ways of fish preparation when I had caught these fish, and already tasted the mishandling of the fish, I figured it would be put to better use in catching a different fish.

Anyways, A. Chen and I set out for the beach around 12, and we set up our rigs and waited…and waited. We fished for an hour and a half, and the only thing we had to show for it was a bunch of seaweed. The tides were going out, and I thought that it would help keep our baits in the water, but I was mistaken. So we decided to try catching some clams, since the tides would expose their positions. We set out for another beach, and walked around looking for said clams, only to find nothing.

What a disappointing experience, I already dragged A. Chen to a deep sea fishing trip where we were both incapacitated by sea sickness, and now we were going to have anything to show for a long night of fishing? How pathetic. But while I was thinking about how bad I sucked at fishing, I saw a shovelnose guitarfish swimming right by my feet, and my thoughts changed from fishing incompetence to ‘hey, I bet I could catch that guitarfish with my hands.’ Seizing the opportunity, I reached down and grabbed the 1.5 foot guitarfish, and called out to A. Chen to show him my catch. After man-handling the creature for a few minutes, it squirmed out of my hands I let it go and went to catch more guitarfish by hand. Although I didn’t catch another fish, I did manage to pin a 2 footer down on the sand but wasn’t able to lift it out of the water since I was holding a flashlight.

Louisiana has alligator fishing, the midwest has catfish noodling, and now with the revelation that guitarfish can be caught by hand, I am now creating a new sport, strumming. The principle of ‘strumming’ is simple, you go to the beach at night (or day) and wade around in shallow water, and when you see a guitarfish, you grab it with your hands and lift it out of the water. You can keep your guitarfish if you want, but it’ll be a waste, since most of the fish in the shallows are honestly too small to be worth the trouble of preparing (bleed, gut, and soak in milk). Trust me, I’ve done it.

So in 10 years, if there’s a History Channel show (called ‘Beach Bums/Bumkins’) about people going to the beaches at night to strum for guitarfish, you’ll know where the idea was thought up of.

Bigger versions of what I caught by hand


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