Surf Fishing in Southern California - SC Surf Fishing

Berkley Gulp! Review and Fishing Tactics

I have been fishing the Santa Monica bay since I was four years old (in 1954) and I can flatly say I have never seen an artificial bait as powerful and productive as Berkeley's new saltwater sand worm.

I don't know for sure yet of the company's claim that it out fishes live bait is accurate. But it's sure going to give the sand crabs a run for their money.

Marc with a 26" halibut caught on a
camo colored Gulp! sandworm

I have spent the last month intensively fishing the four colors of the sandworm, mostly in the Santa Monica North area. They have consistently yielded good catches of chunky perch, even under relatively bad conditions. When I have compared their effectiveness on the spot with grubs and even mussel, the worms have come out way on top. When the bite shuts off with other bait, it seems to resume with the GULP!ers.

And it's not just perch. In early April I brought in a 26 inch halibut on a camo-colored worm. And a few weeks later I bagged a 20 inch spot fin croaker in the same area and on the same bait.

To make the ultimate test, I took the worms out on a windy recent afternoon to the Malibu pier. The tide was barely coming in, the water was grungy and some of the saddest looking fishermen on earth were staring over the rail and pondering their skunk. First I tied up a blood red GULP! worm on a carolina rig and tossed it from the top of the pier and trolled the pilings. I was right into a spate of hookups with little wall-eyes. Then I moved down to the front of the pier and tossed out as far as I could across the surf and slow retrieved. I hooked a half-dozen BSP's including a regulation slab. Also brought up a 12 inch halibut. And I finished off the afternoon with back to back YFC's at about 14 inches each. Not bad for a dead pier. And as far as I could tell, these were the only fish caught there that afternoon.

I have fished short segments, long segments and whole worms. They all work. It seems (but I can't prove it) that the bottom half of the worm with the thinner tail does slightly better. It seems (but I cant prove it) that the camo color is the best (the butts, the spotty and YFC's were all caught on camo). But I have caught some awesome cow perch on the red, the brown and the natural beige color as well (the red color seems to be the runner-up).

Marc with a 20" Spotfin Croaker caught on a
camo colored Gulp! sandworm

On each outting I have used as basic carolina rig. Six pound fluorocarbon leader; 6 lb. P-line and either 1/2 or 3/4 oz of lead depending on conditions. My basic hook size is a Mosquito 4. I've used both steel and red color and both have worked fine. I have also used #2 and even #1 hooks on the worm and they have also worked. Often counter-intuitively i.e. I have caught small fish on a full worm with a #1 hook and some slabs and the big butt and the spotty on a #4 hook with a 2 inch segment of worm. Sometimes I "nose-hook" the worm. Sometimes, I reverse it so that the point of the hook is coming up thru the top end of the worm. Mostly I use the "hammer-hooking" method which you can find at the Big Hammer website. All have worked. The hammer-hook seems slightly better.

One other thing I have noticed: I seem to get bit more when the worm is fresh out of the bag and presumably has more scent on it. Then again, I have had plenty of good luck with hour-old worms that had already hooked up a half-dozen fish or so.

In other words, these worms are very very good!

Article written by:
Marc Cooper aka (w6iww)

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