Fishing From a Surfboard

Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
Oh s#$!. When you're fishing from a surfboard, timing the wave sets is key. Here, as one angler slips safely down the back of a cresting wave (you can see his feet in the background), another boardfisher looks up and realizes he's probably toast; a wreck is only seconds away.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
"There's not much you can do when you start to lose it, except maybe hold onto your favorite rod, and try to protect yourself from getting smacked by the board or stuck with a hook,-¿ explains story photographer Bill Decker (who is known as the "Godfather" of boardfishing in Southern California).Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
After you crash, you try to recollect yourself -" and your gear -" and hop back on the board to start over. "I give this guy a lot of credit,-¿ says Decker. "It took him a while running up and down the beach, but I think he found all six beers he had in his basket.-¿Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
Surfboard fishing has evolved over the past 40 years among Southern California's wave riding counterculture. It's simple, extreme excitement ... bungee a milk crate on a long board, strap on a rod or two, and paddle through the breaks to catch more than just waves. If you're lucky, sharks won't mistake you for a sea lion. Besides, says Decker, "There are plenty other ways to get wrecked and battered when you're boardfishing.-¿Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
"When you hook up, it's a rush,-¿ Decker describes. "You never know for sure what you'll catch, and if you hook something really big it can drag you around.-¿ Boardfishers mix up their approaches, using surface plugs with casting rods, jigging, or throwing live bait like anchovies. You can catch a wide range of fish: yellowtail, calico bass, halibut, bonito, mackerel, sheepshead, leopard sharks ... even thresher sharks, if you have the guts to hang on and ride one out.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
When it comes to rigging a board for fishing, you start with basics, like a crate with rod holders, and a few bungee cords, but there is no limit on surfer ingenuity. "I've seen everything from lawn chairs to coolers bolted onto boards,-¿ Decker says.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
The best boards for fishing are long boards. They're more stable, they float and glide better, and they've got room for your equipment (and your fish). This unnamed angler is using a 9-foot 6-inch Skip Frye longboard. Sometimes boardfishers will spend eight hours or longer bobbing among the kelp patties. Other times, it's paddle out, make a few casts, catch your dinner (in this case a nice bonito) and paddle back ashore.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
Of course, the closer to shore you fish, the greater the risk for wipeouts in breaking waves ... and on the rocks.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
A high price to pay for a calico bass. This guy ate a wave that left him with a fat lip as well as a few scrapes and bruises. He ate the bass later.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
Second thoughts and a near miss as this wave crashes the beach in La Jolla. Apparently duct tape works well as a gear basket tie-down.Bill Decker
Fishing from a Surfboard
Fishing from a Surfboard
Mission accomplished. "At day's end, it's all about basking in the thrill having fished on the open waves and the close connection with the water that can only be found on a board,-¿ says Decker. "To most of the boardfishing culture, catching fish doesn't really matter.-¿Bill Decker