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Archive for the ‘2005’ Category.

October 17 – Final Report

Well, it’s raining like hell here at the Home Office, and that can only mean one thing – time to write the last report of the season.

You’ve heard the old wife’s tale … the striped marlin turn tale and run south after the third winter storm of the season. Like most similar sayings, there’s a kernel of truth to be held. Certainly, the winter storms out of the Gulf of Alaska provide a fundamental change to the warm weather patterns of summer, and that means cooler surface temperatures. But I don’t think we really know enough about the marlin to make a general statement. I will say this … the marlin fishing got significantly worse after the big thunderstorm on Day 2 of the Zane Grey, and it never did recover. Fewer fish were seen, and those few didn’t want to chew. You can’t help but feel there’s a connection …

There are those who will tell you that there are still a few marlin out there, and there probably are. Only two problems with that – 1) most of the people doing the talking are folks in the business, meaning they have a vested interest in keeping hope alive and 2) none of those few fish that are still here seem to want to bite. That’s enough for me to de-line the reels and stow the rods.

Now there are some fish still being caught, if you’re willing to go far enough. Just ask Todd Fraser, standing next to his pending world record 382-lb Yellowfin Tuna, caught last week off Puerta Vallerta. Sounds like they had somewhat of a clusterf%$# with the local IGFA rep and the fish may have actually weighed as much as 410. But it’s enough for the 130-lb class record – one BFYFT!

Remember when we were off to that great start for swordfish? What the hell happened??

This’ll probably sound like a bad insurance commercial, but I do have some good marlin news … er, make that Marlin news. Joe Girardi has been hired to helm the Florida Marlins for next season. Man, the contrasts couldn’t me much stronger. We went from the the oldest manager in baseball (74) to the youngest (41), and from an aloof hands-off guy to a strict taskmaster. Frankly, I think the team could use a good ass-kicking, so maybe Joe is just the guy – after all, he’s got 3 rings from his days with the Yankees. Now if we can just get a real hitting coach …

Don’t forget – SCMO’s getting written up in the November issue of MARLIN Magazine!

My marlin season might be done, but that doesn’t end my marlin activities. I’ll be attending the public day of the International Billfish Symposium on November 2nd, and I urge you to do the same. There will be some great presentations that should interest all billfish anglers, capped by a photo/film presentation by Guy Harvey and Bill Boyce. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I know we’re trying to arrange a group to attend; check the Marlin Club for details – we’d love to have you join us!

You didn’t really think I’d let the last report of the season go without a little eye candy, did you? I couldn’t make my mind up on just one girl, so I bring you 12 – the 2005 USC Song Girls. Yeah, I saw the SC-Notre Dame game, but I know who the real Trojan athletes are …

Jesus – there’s another hurricane forming south of the Cayman Islands. If it reaches tropical storm strength – and it looks like it will – it’ll be named Wilma and will be the 21st named storm of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season. Amazing. And they say next year will be worse …

Well, that’s a wrap for 2005. Not the season I’d hoped it’d be, but better than it could. I think HOOKER ended up with 5 releases, unfortunately none of which were mine. But considering I only got to make three trips, I guess I can’t complain. Now it’s time for me to spend a few weeks away from the keyboard before launching into the usual winter upgrades. I have quite a few of them planned, too, so you all have something to look forward to next spring.

October 10

And now, a short lesson in statistics …

Any set of data that can be recorded can be plotted in a graphical fashion. That certainly would include marlin catches – just plot the number of catches versus the time of year. Hopefully, you get something like what we have at left – your classic bell curve (if I have to explain why it’s called a bell curve, stop here and jump down to the babe …). The real name for that chart is a mean distribution, and it’s one of the most common statistical analysis tools. There’s just one flaw with it – you need data points. The fewer you have, the less accurate a predictor it becomes.

The point, you ask? Simple. If enough marlin were caught in SoCal, or we were located closer to the main body of fish, we could use the bell curve as a reasonable prediction of our season. Right now, we’d be just past the apex of the curve, sliding toward the end, but we’d still have some pretty good fishing ahead of us.

Problem is, we catch so few marlin in SoCal that we can’t really assume that kind of a smooth rolloff. Our curve could look more like a cliff – and we could have driven off it last week …

The best quote I heard this week about the current marlin conditions came from a normally less-than-quotable source – my father. "There’s still fish out there," he told me this morning. "If there were a hundred boats out fishing, someone would catch one. Problem is, there’s not a hundred boats …"

I’d tell you where to look, but frankly, it’d just be a guess. And as they say, they have tails, anyway …

ESQUIRE Magazine just named her the "Sexiest Woman Alive," but I thought you deserved a chance to decide for yourself. Everyone, meet Jessica Biel. Jessica, Everyone.

What are the odds: In last night’s deciding Division Series game between the Astros and the Braves, Lance Berkman’s 8th inning grand slam and Chris Burke’s walk off homer in the 18th inning were caught by the same fan. That kid ought to be in Vegas by now …

If you belong to any of the SoCal angling clubs, you’ve probably been getting email about the upcoming International Billfish Symposium, to be held October 30 through November 3 in Avalon. This is actually pretty exciting stuff – the last one was held in Australia, so we’re fortunate to have this in our backyard.

Most of the events are truly scientific in nature – presentation of new papers and the like – but the Wednesday afternoon and evening programs are tailored more for the general angling public. Best of all, they’re free! There will be a history of the Tuna Club, several presentations on tagging, and an interesting discussion that should apply to us all – conditions that lead to the presence of striped marlin in SoCal waters. The evening wraps with photo/video presentation narrated by Guy Harvey and Bill Boyce.

My point for bringing this up is that I’m tossing around the idea of playing hookey from work on Wednesday, jumping on the Express and taking in the show. If anyone else is similarly inclined, maybe we can make this a group thing? Yeah … an SCMO gang … sweet!

That’s pretty much all for now. Most of the real action – along with all the money players – have headed south and are beginning to arrive in Cabo San Lucas. The first events are about a week away, and we’ll be covering them here. If you’re going to be a participant in any of the Cabo tourneys and want to be an SCMO correspondent, let me know!

October 6

I was half-tempted to skip this update, since there’s not a lot to talk about. But sometimes, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do …

I don’t want to say the fishing’s getting slow, but there’s been rumors of anglers salting the fishing holes …

I just totaled up the numbers from our Hurricane Katrina Relief Auction. Nineteen items have been sold for a total of $6,483.23. That is just awesome beyond words. We’ve got a lot of really big hearts here at SCMO. On behalf of the many people who will benefit from your generosity, I thank everyone who offered or bid on any of the items.

You gotta love it when a plan comes together. Chris Badsey is off in Iraq doing what people in Iraq do – dodge bullets – when he hears Hurricane Omar is threatening Cabo San Lucas. He hustles back to move his boat out of harm’s way, but he has a decision to make. Does he head up to Mag Bay, where the marlin bite is currently going crazy, or does he head south towards Puerto Vallarta. Both should take him out of the storm’s path. He opts for PV and is rewarded with a 361-lb yellowfin tuna. The folks who ran for Mag Bay? Got their butts kicked …

Speaking of Mag Bay (hey, nice segue, Stan!), I’ve gotten two different reports recently regarding data from satellite tags planted off SoCal recently. Both of them say the same thing – the fish are running south. Good to have data, but not the kind of news we really want to hear.

If you’re really into the whole satellite tagging data thing, then you probably should be attending the International Billfish Symposium later this month in Avalon. We’ll have more on that in the next report.

While you might want to ask why, there are a few marlin boats out this week. In fact, HOOKER is one of them; I’m told they’ve been working the ridge off the east end of Catalina. I’ve not heard a single thing from anyone, though rumor has it fish are still periodically being seen. I tend to think it’s over, but I’m not quite ready to accept it. Give me another week …

October 3

They say to be successful in any endeavor you need to have the tools and the talent. This week we have a great example of what happens when one of those goes south, along with tantalizing hints that there may yet be some marlin action in our future. All that and more in the Monday edition of the Fishing News!

(I really gotta get some theme music …)

I was as surprised as these guys obviously are to hear reports of striped marlin from over the weekend. I haven’t had a chance to check with some of my sources yet, but it sounds like there was at least some action near the 209, and another pocket of action towards the 289. I got single reports from the 181 and 182, and even one of jumpers on the 43. It sounds like there are still a few around, but no real concentration … yet.

Our Katrina Relief Charity Auction will probably end this week as the last few items up for auction will be won. There’s still time to bid, though, and if you’ve been following the relief efforts you know there’s certainly a need.

One of the nice things about the Fishing News, and the fact that it’s in the members-only section, is that I can do and say things that I couldn’t do in the rest of the site. Unlike the public sections of the site, which are accessible to anyone, only the MNAC members can read these words – and I know exactly who they are. More importantly, I know exactly what they are – they are all over 18 and the vast majority is male.

I say that because knowing the makeup of my audience lets me get input on some of the really important questions of our day – like this one: What is more sexy – the fact that Jennifer Love Hewitt can look this good picking up her dry cleaning, or the fact that she actually picks up her own dry cleaning?

Wow – I’ve hit the big time. No, not the fact that SCMO is going to be featured in MARLIN Magazine, although that is undeniably cool. I’m talking about having a cyclone named after me. Tropical Storm Stan already grazed the Yucatan Peninsula and should make landfall on the Mexican mainland as a small hurricane in the next day or two. Now, I’m not advocating storm damage for anyone, but since the storm already exists, I wish he’d make a right at Acapulco and sweep all the gillnets out of the Sea of Cortez …

Proof positive that a hungry marlin will hit anything – this one was caught over the weekend at the 1010 Trench on a cedar plug.

Yesterday, SHOWDOWN hooked another swordfish. These guys do this often enough for it to be considered a regular activity, and their success ratio is very high. When last we heard, they were still fighting the fish, and I fully expected to awake this morning to tales of their success.

So you can imagine my surprise to learn that the fish was actually lost early last night. More depressing was the word that it was due to tackle failure, in particular the failure of the reel – an old Daiwa. Now, I’m the last guy to advocate technology for technology’s sake, but if you’re gonna go hunting bear, you don’t use a rusty gun! The lesson here is to be prepared, and remember that the stronger the fish, the weaker the weakest link …

I’m in software development meetings again this week, but I’ll see if I can’t get a little more info from the weekend action for the Thursday report. In the meantime, here’s your last shot at our latest poll …

September 29

As a chronicler of the local striped marlin activity, there are two times each year that I really hate. The first is that month just prior to the first catch of the season when I’m trying to build excitement without really knowing when the climax will come. The second, of course, is right now – waiting to find out if the last fish caught is really The Last Fish Caught …

For the next few weeks, one of two things will happen: Either we’ll get scattered reports of fish followed by a great late-season bite, or the action will continue to slow until we get so bored we simply drift off like our friend at right. It’ll be a while before we know which its gonna be …

The only reports I received this week make it sound grim, as marlin were being seen and periodically taken near the 302 and 295 – both well south of anywhere I want to be. There was one report of a couple of tailers baited but not caught near the 289. And of course, there’s still a lot of sightings on Pesky tailers – more on that in a moment.

We get email here at the Home Office. Actually we get a lot of email – something on the order of 2,000 per week. After culling out the junk and reading what’s left, I’m beginning to see a common complaint – "What’s with all the celebrity chicks? Where’s the real women??" OK, real women fans, I present the true reason we fish in tournaments. Not the money, not the glory – the tournament queen. In this case, it’s the 2005 Hatteras Catalina Classic’s Queen Stephanie Berglund.

It might be the end of our marlin season, but it’s just the beginning of another yearly event – the SoCal fire season. As we speak, nearly 20,000 acres near Calabasas are on fire, and thousands of homes are at risk. My hat’s off the firefighters, who clearly have king-size stones …

We’re winding down on the Katrina Relief Auction, and many items are on their way to new homes. But we still have many items up for bid, and it’s not too late to get involved. Last time I checked, the bid total was over $6,300 dollars, which is simply amazing. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering the great community we have.

For years, I’ve wanted to get a stuffed marlin for the wall of the SCMO Home Office, a process complicated by my obvious unwillingness to kill one for a prize (not to mention my aversion to the multi-thousand dollar price tag). I’m always checking eBay and the local papers, since it would be great to find a good home for an otherwise unwanted marlin. But the search has been long and, thusfar, fruitless.

I’m happy to announce, however, that we now have our mounted marlin, courtesy of the Pesky Tournament Committee. This particular "fish" was captured Saturday on the 209 and put up quite a fight. Note the gator head and bagel – with circle hook, of course!

Well, I guess all we can do for now is soldier on. I’m not sure who’ll be out this weekend, or where they’ll go. If it’s you, I wish you luck, and wish you’d file a trip report when you hit the beach!

September 27

The good news is that everyone survived the Pesky. The bad news is it looks like the mahlin have gone walkabout, mate!

If the entrants in this years LPNTAINSLTBFT (Los Pescadores Next To Avalon Invitational Not So Light Tackle Billfish Tournament) had been following the tourney action earlier in the month, they could be forgiven for getting a bit giddy. After all, the Zane Grey and Masters set records for numbers of striped marlin caught. But the real clue to how things might go came on Day Two of the Catalina Classic. After a 20 fish day to open the event, the skies opened up as a nasty line of thunderstorms raked the Catalina Bight. Only 5 fish were taken that day, and it was assumed that it was due to the tough conditions rather than any action by the fishes. But you know what they say about assumptions …

An event-record 46 boats headed out optimistically on Friday to take their best shot. Dope was scarce, and what little there was indicated that most of the action was south of the 182, which was off the tourney grid. But you do what you gotta do, and three marlin were released on Day One – one each by FIA FIA, ESCAPE ROUTE and KEA KAI. KK also had the misfortune of losing Dave Elm over the side, although he was successfully recovered. Also recovered was a record number of pseudo-marlin, courtesy of the tournament committee onboard DONNA C.

The lack of any real concentration of fish led more adventurous boats to take a flyer on some less-populated areas. Several boats worked the backside of Catalina while another small fleet worked off Pyramid Head. In the end, though, the only fish released on the final day of the tourney was by HAMMER near the 209, site of the first day releases. HOOKER had a shot at the brass ring when we baited a swordfish right outside Avalon with only an hour to go in the event, but it was for naught.

When the dust settled and the points tallied, top honors went to Rick Fuller on ESCAPE ROUTE for his successfully bagelled fish. Congrats to all the anglers and the tourney committee for another enjoyable event.

As anyone who has fished the Pesky can tell you, the end of the fishing is but the midpoint of the event. There’s still the banquet, Armstrong’s, the Marlin Club and more to contend with. Honesty forces me to admit at this point that I only have the word of others to go by about just what happened after the awards dinner, because I bailed early. This fact did not go unnoticed by the SCMO faithful, and could best be summed up by an email I received from one MNAC member. I quote …


You are a PUSSY!!!!!!

Where the fuck were you Saturday night??????????? YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


OK, I deserve that one. But after as many Pesky afterparties as I’ve barely survived, I figured I’d try something new and see what it feels like to wake up the morning after the Pesky with a clear head. Not as impressive as I’d hoped. I’ll be there next time, and if you feel you were slighted by my non-appearance, let me know and the first beer is on me next year.

It’s worth noting that in spite of opinions like that above (which pretty much represents the majority opinion), MNAC members still came through with some great pictures for me to use both here and on the tourney website. All night I’ve been receiving emails with really big pictures (which is exactly what I want), and I’m trying to keep the email server with enough space to handle the flow. If you get a message kicked back, please resend it.

So I’m in a pretty good mood tonight. On my way home from work this evening, I stopped at the local Trader Joe’s to stock up on the goodies that fuel this creative process we call SCMO. As I’m walking through the produce section, I notice a rather attractive brunette in sweatshirt and shorts fondling a bag of trail mix. She looks kinda familiar, so I look again – yup, it’s Rachel Wacholder … the same Rachel Wacholder whose exploits on the AVP Tour we’ve been talking about all summer and whose assets we’ve been admiring for quite a long time. Not wanting to seem like another creepy father-figure fan, and fearing I might drool if I didn’t do something, I congratulated her for her season and asked her when she was leaving for the year-end tournament this weekend in Hawaii ("thanks" and "Thursday", for those interested). OK, not exactly fireworks, but it was fun for the moment. And if you think I’m going to miss this chance to run an otherwise totally gratuitous picture of Rachel, you are soooo wrong …

Here’s something to chew on. A couple of weeks back, we talked about the rise of the chlorophyll chart as a way of predicting the location of dirty water and the surprise some anglers showed when marlin were actually found there. As we were returning to Los Angles on Sunday, we ran through several patches of particularly nasty looking water – water where the algae bloom was so thick, it looked like an oil spill. As we drove through it, the meter showed a lot of bait lurking under this supposedly dirty water. Chasing the bait was a pack of porpoise. Every time one surfaced, it punched a hole in the "dirty" layer exposing clean water underneath. So the portion of the water column that was impacted by the algae was really only a couple of inches thick, and clearly it didn’t impact the movement of baitfish lower in the column. It follows that wherever the baitfish are, the marlin will follow. Something to think about next time you chart your route …

I guess the real question at this point is, "Is the season over?" More correctly, is the season over, or is this just a little burp on the way to some amazing late season action. We can all remember some epic October days spent under the dome at San Clemente or out on the 499, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we want to keep that fat chick quiet for as long as we can. In the mean time, though, we might as well run the obvious poll …

September 22

Greetings from the CATALINA JET, where we’re just passing the QUEEN MARY in Long Beach. I’m on my way to the island for the Pesky. But I never forsake my loyal readers, so there’s the latest edition of the Fishing News …

We’ve had a strange couple of days of weather here in LA – thunder … lightning … rain. It definitely had an affect on the fishing during the Catalina Classic; it remains to be seen if the affect will continue into the Pesky …

Because of the difference in the rules between the Zane Grey and the Catalina Classic, I was concerned that we’d see a large number of striped marlin weighed in in the Classic. Fortunately (particularly for the fish), there were only 5 marlin boated, while 20 were released.

The Day One action was mostly between the 289 and 181 as it had been for the Masters. Five fish were boated, the largest coming just before lines out to AFISHINADO. At the scales on the Green Pier, it weighed in at 198-lbs. GAMBLER, ERIN MARIE and DONNA RAE also weighed in qualifying fish. Fifteen marin were released, led by GAMBLER with two.

Tuesday was a whole different beast, as moisture from Hurricane Max flooded the Southland. Along with a lot of rain, there was a significant amount of thunder and lightning, all of which made for pretty difficult fishing. This was reflected in the numbers, as only five marlin were released and none boated.

That left angler Steve Spira and the crew of AFISHINADO as the big winners, taking home $135,400 in prize and side pot cash. According to captain and owner John King, "We got lucky when that big marlin came up and bit a “Mean Joe Green” E.A.L. lure so late in the day. Things just worked out for our team." That’s John on the phone in the phone, no doubt trying to get a hold of us at the Home Office.

Based on their first day catches, GAMBLER and DONNA RAE placed second and third. GAMBLER also tied FIRE HATT in the release division with 3 each. At least, they would have tied, if there was a release division. As it is, I’m sure they’ll enjoy their "fabulous prizes."

So, did you see the new SCMO spotter plane circling Catalina yesterday? We were only able to get it for a couple of hours before the pilot flew off. He said something about having to make a "hot landing in LA", whatever that is. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him back for the weekend …

I mentioned in the last report that Monday was "Talk Like a Pirate Day." Someone told me this joke that afternoon and, while it’s a little off-color, I just couldn’t stop laughing:

Pirate Pete walks into a bar with a steering wheel stuck on the end of his dick. The bartender says, "Hey Pirate Pete, did you know you have a steering wheel stuck on the end of your dick?" Pirate Pete says, "Arrrr, it’s driving me nuts."

What can I say …. I’m a simple man …

Our Katrina Relief charity auction continues to go strong. Every time I think it might be tailing off, a couple more products appear for auction. Last time I checked, we were approaching twenty items up for auction, and the total amount of committed bids totaled over $5,300. Amazing what we can do when we work together …

Ah, the Pesky. What can you say about an event where the best come out to fish hard and play hard. No one gets short-changed, that’s for sure. Of course, our hard working Pesky Tattoo Team will be there to make sure all the strays get a proper brand …

Rumor has it this year’s event has something to do with "Down Under", so we should have fun with that. If the weather holds (and that’s certainly an issue), there should be a lot of fish released. I say that no only because of all the quality anglers in the event, but the sheer number of anglers in the event! I’m told we’re approaching 200 … yikes!

It should be interesting to see where the fishing happens in the tourney. There’s a 40-mile radius limit from Avalon, so that means the 181 is in, but the 138 out. A shame, since I heard Ross Stotesbury released two 5 miles below the 182 today …

Well, the terminal is on the horizon, so I guess it’s time to pack up the PowerBook and prepare to disembark. After this, it’s a quick stop at the Marlin Club, then Eric’s on the pier for a burger, and out to the boat. With any luck, in a couple of days I’ll be bagelling a billfish at Armstrong’s … at least that’s the plan!

September 19

"It’s the most wonderful time of the year …"

Before you accuse me of channeling Andy Williams, you should know that I’m not talking about Christmas – I’m talking about the Pesky!! I’ve already started building up the aspirin levels in my bloodstream …

Friday and Saturday saw 54 boats representing 9 clubs bomb offshore and brave a nasty south swell to fish in the BAC’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament. The MABT is the premier club event in SoCal, and its team format always attracts the cream of the local billfishing community.

The Friday bite was in relatively unprotected waters below the 289 and outside the 181 Ridge. In spite of the nasty conditions, 20 striped marlin were released. After learning the hard way that Pyramid Cove provides little shelter from a south swell, the fleet was happy to see the seas had calmed for Saturday, when another 12 were released.

The High Club was the Light Tackle Marlin Club with six released marlin totaling 1170 points, followed by the Balboa Angling Club and Los Pescadores. Congratulations to the crews of the winning team boats – WILD BILL, KAWAKAWA, JOKER and PIONEER. High Boat was DONNA C of Los Pescadores with 600 points for 4 releases on 30-lb tackle. The 2005 Master Angler was Brian Schultz, who scored 390 points by releasing marlin on 12 and 20-lb tackle while fishing on WILD BILL.

I’m not the kind of guy to sit down and watch the Emmy Awards. Heck, I can barely watch network TV. But when someone told me today that Marcia Cross was the best looking woman on the red carpet last night, I figured the least I could do was give us a chance to see for ourselves …

Here’s a different kind of exotic sighting – I got a report today of someone releasing a 35-lb spearfish near the 138

Did You Know: Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arr … hand over yer wimmens …

Someone emailed me this weekend to ask why I haven’t been talking about my beloved Florida Marlins. Why? Easy. They’re done … stick a fork in ‘em … it’s over. And this was the team everyone predicted would end the National League East reign of the Atlanta Braves. To quote "the Simpsons" Nelson Muntz, "HA-HA".

I heard there would be moisture moving into the LA Basin from Hurricane Max, but I didn’t believe it until I just walked outside and saw a bolt of lightning. Marlin fishing in the rain – gotta love it!

Speaking of hurricanes (gee – what a smooth segue …), our Katrina Relief auction is continuing, and I am humbled by the response. We’ve had 15 items placed up for bid, and current bids total over $3,600! There’s some pretty cool stuff to bid on, and there’s still time (hint – hint). Of course, we’d be thrilled to have more items placed up as well.

I don’t have any real product to auction off, so let me sweeten the pot this way. Anyone who places an item up for auction between now (Monday night) and the next publishing of this report (Thursday night) for which the retail value is at least $100, I’ll comp your next year’s membership to the MNAC. You can tack on a year to your own membership, or give it as a gift – your call. It’s not much, but it’s something, and maybe it’ll get a fence sitter or two to commit.

Our compatriots in the Gulf Coast may need even more help than planned – Hurricane Rita is beginning to look rather Katrina-like.

Not sure how I feel about this: the next Atlantic storm large enough to be named will be called Hurricane Stan – no kidding. Man, if it’s a big one, I hope it takes a left turn right before New Orleans and wipes out a longline fleet instead …

Today was Day One for the Hatteras Catalina Classic, and if anyone was worried that the bite would wind down, fear not. At lines out, 16 fish had been released and 4 boated. Most of the action remained between the 181 and 289, but the bite seems much more spread out than in the recent events – there was even one fish caught on the Avalon Bank! The "Thanks for Playing Award" goes to the crew of OSPREY, who lost a swordfish after several hours. There’s one more day of fishing, and we should have the results for you on Thursday.

Hey, I’m looking for info from any who knows. The CC doesn’t let released fish compete for the big prizes, but claims that each release angler gets a "major prize". If anyone knows just what the "major prizes" are, email me.

I talked about the Pesky here before. I guess at this point, you either get it, or you don’t. If you do, I’ll see you Wednesday at the kickoff. If you don’t, well, I’d think twice before casting on any tailers this weekend …

Aside from the CC results, the Thursday report will probably be light, since I’m on the 4:05 boat to Avalon. I wonder if they have a Wi-Fi hot spot on the Catalina Jet …

September 15

I knew there’d be a lot of fish caught in this year’s edition of the Zane Grey, but …

… wow!

The 2005 Riviera Zane Grey Invitational Marlin Tournament wrapped up its three days of fishing yesterday, and I’m sure no one is happier than the poor guy running the radio at Tournament Control. If my addition is correct, there were a total of 72 striped marlin caught, of which a gratifying 66 were released. Add to that the number of hookups fought and lost, and you can certainly understand why the radio crew is in need of a padded room right about now.

As we reported on Monday, the early fishing was all down on the 181, the very bottom of the allowable fishing zone. That didn’t change in the final two days of fishing, as all but 8 of the fish were caught in Zone J7. I wasn’t there, but with 29 aggressive boats all pounding the same piece of water, I’ll bet it was an amazing site!

At the risk of going over my quota of clichés, when the dust had settled the cream had risen to the top. The winning boat was BAD COMPANY, who released an astonishing eleven marlin and boated one over the 3 days of fishing. Second Place went to AFTER MIDNIGHT with 4 released and one boated, and third place was awarded to SEA JEWEL with 2 releases and one brought to the dock. SJ and WAIT N SEA tied for largest fish of the event, each landing a 209-lb marlin.

If you’re heading out this weekend, be advised that there is an advisory in place for extraordinarily large swells coming in from the south. These are the long period, "elevator ride" swells that probably won’t affect those at sea, but could cause serious problems if you pick the wrong place to anchor …

OK, so maybe "sack up and step up" wasn’t the best way to try and bring out the charitable spirit of our SoCal visitors. At least, that’s the impression I have after a half dozen emails and one pointed phone message. For the record, I wasn’t trying to insult anyone or question the manhood or charitable nature of any of our regular posters. On the contrary, I was looking for a "Rome-esque" way to rally the troops and raise awareness of our Katrina charity auction. As they say, some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you. Considering the number of complaints versus the number of new items for bid, clearly today I’m grizzly gumbo …

On the bright side, the Katrina charity auction is proceeding far beyond what I could have reasonably expected. Last I checked there is a dozen items with current bids totaling over $2,500. Assuming everyone follows through, we’ll have done a good thing for our fellow man and picked up some cool stuff at the same time.

There’s still time to bid – and to post new items. Please dig deep.

A couple of interesting facts from the ZG: Each day the majority of fish came from a single method – lures on Days 1 and 3, bait on Day 2. Also, according to one of the leading anglers, the smaller fish were taking the baits, while lures got the big fish.

The crew that fished BAD COMPANY is basically the same one that was on AFTER MIDNIGHT the past few years. I don’t know why the defection (I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess $$$ …), but Mike Cromer had no trouble getting a new crew and placing second to … his old crew. And you thought only NASCAR had a silly season …

Is that a great shot or what? You can just see the WAIT N SEA crew saying, "It weighed HOW MUCH??? Priceless …

My opinion regarding the so-called "kill tourneys" is long-standing and well documented. Historically, there have been too many dead marlin and too little attention paid to the changing angling ethic. More recently, events would bill themselves as using a "modified release format" but in the end, the rules and prize money were skewed so far in favor of boated fish that only an imbecile or hard core conservationist would release their marlin.

Times are changing, though, and I think it’s important to provide recognition where it is due. In the recent Zane Grey tourney, the vast majority of the fish were released. The point system allowed anglers interested in releasing their marlin to effectively compete for the top prize and the top boat in the event was also the top release boat. In fact, because of a penalty incurred for bringing an undersized fish to the dock, the BAD COMPANY point total actually would have been higher had they chosen to release all their fish.

In the past, I have urged the organizers of marlin tournaments to step up and create events that pay more than lip service to the release ethic. I believe in the current format of the Zane Grey, the folks at International Gamefish Tournaments have done just that. I’ll always push for all release events, but the IGT crew has crafted an event that provides action for the angler and spectator and exposure for the sponsors while minimizing damage to the fishery. For that, they deserve our accolades.

Having said that, they need to revise the rules for the Catalina Classic, which is based on dead fish only …

Tomorrow and Saturday will be the Balboa Angling Club‘s Master Angler Billfish Tournament, another classic club event. If I had to guess (and that’s what you’re paying for …), I’d say they’ll start on the 181. There was rumblings of activity pushing out towards the 289 also, though, so don’t be surprised if that spot goes off this weekend. We should have MABT results Monday, along with some early stuff from the Classic, so y’all come back, now … hear?

September 12

An interesting weekend, with hurricane recovery and terrorist remembrances shadowing some pretty amazing fishing. And we’ll talk about it all right here in the Fishing News!

(cue theme music)

There were five – yes, five – different major tournaments going simultaneously this weekend, so you’ll pardon me if I seem a bit out of breath. There were times this weekend that I thought I might be brought down by terminal confusion as I tried to make sense of the myriad of radio calls. "Tournament control – we’re bit" … "Which Tournament Control?" It was crazy. But here’s our best shot at a rundown of all the action.

The San Diego Marlin Club’s Gene Grimes Memorial Invitational Light Tackle Tournament was contested on Friday and Saturday, with most of the fishing action down along the 181182 ridge. According to MNAC member Jeff Meeker, who fished on the event winning LIVELY ONE, there were 15 marlin caught; the only one not returned to the sea was one that came up dead. That’s a great release ratio for anywhere, but particularly for San Diego. Well done!

The Tuna Club also had an event on the 9th and 10th, and their fleet was split between the 181 and the 152. Boats on both banks did well, but in the end those who opted to make the run south prevailed. The winning boat was MNAC member Bob Hoose’s PROSPECTOR with two releases (and a third DQ’d after they had to clip on a second outfit and toss the first overboard). All told, there were 18 marlin released for 31 boats entered.

I fished in the King Harbor Marlin Club event, which was based in Avalon. Most of the boats worked off the east end of Catalina, but two – KAWAKAWA and FIRE HATT made the run to the 181 and reaped the benefit. MNAC member Greg Stotesbury’s team ended up with three released marlin, and his son – and no doubt, future MNAC member – Zane was top angler with two released marlin on 16-lb. We managed to cobble together a third place finish on the strength of my father’s 20-lb release. The 22 boat fleet released a total of 11 marlin.

Hmm … notice a pattern amongst the three events? That’s right – MNAC, baby! Congrats to our winning members and all who competed this weekend.

Well, we’ve survived another September 11. It’s hard to believe it’s been four years. Kids who were high school seniors on that horrific day are college graduates now. In some way, it seems like just yesterday, but in others it’s like another lifetime. In Whatever dung heap Bin Ladin is living these days, he must really get a smile on his face when he sees the money we spend trying to catch up. And, as Hurricane Katrina sadly taught us, we obviously have a long ways to go before we can truly talk about homeland security …

A sign of the times: The Lane Victory, one of the last surviving Liberty Ships from World War II, had a military escort yesterday courtesy of the guided missile frigate USS Ford. I guess that’s what it’s all about – 60 years of "don’t f%&$ with the USA."

Technology is a wonderful thing. Heck, without technology, there’d be no SCMO! But technology can be a trap if misused, and we got a reminder of that this weekend.

One of the new fishing "buzzwords" this year is the chlorophyll chart. Showing via satellite the areas where plankton is the thickest, they mark the areas of so-called "dirty" water that conventional wisdom says pelagic species avoid. Now back in the day, the only way to locate the "puky" water was to drive into – and out of – it. But by passing through it, you got to see what was actually there, rather than making an assumption based on a chart.

That very assumption was made by many anglers working the 181 this weekend. Just inside of the bank, and stretching all the way to the beach, the charts predicted dirty water. They were, in fact, right – the plankton was thick. Yet it was in this biological soup that many of the fish were caught. Why? Because the bait was in the puke, and the marlin were where the bait was. Had more anglers stuck to traditional methods and checked things out for themselves, they might have found success.

The moral of the story? Technology is great, but it will never replace experience …

I just saw the damnedest thing. Sports fans in LA have been spoiled over the years, what with Bob Miller broadcasting Kings Hockey and Chick Hearn for many years the voice of the Lakers. But nothing compares with Vin Scully. A voice as smooth as maple syrup and fifty years of experience leaves him without peer as an announcer.

I was just watching a snippet of the Dodgers-Rockies game, and Vin, who is apparently watching a feed from San Francisco, announces that at SBC Park, Barry Bonds is coming to the plate for his first appearance of the year. He then performs his own version of the simulcast, broadcasting both the Dodgers game and the Bonds ad bat. It was amazing – he didn’t miss a beat as he smoothly transitioned between the two games, each called better than any of the pretenders to his throne could call a single at bat. I swear, it brought goose bumps. I’ll miss him when he’s gone …

To me, there is much more than fishing during the tourney season. The camaraderie and social parts of the events are just as much fun – and sometimes, more exciting – than the events themselves. I love the opportunity to tramp through the streets of Avalon, enjoy a teriyaki burger and the opportunity to flirt with the hot waitress at Luau Larry’s, and shoot some pool and enjoy a cold one (not to mention flirt once again with the same hot waitress turned bartender) at the Marlin Club. Good friends, good fishing, good times – that’s what it’s all about. And I get to do it all over again in a week!

Gordon Gekko once told us that "greed is good." Certainly today’s multi-headed corporate conglomerates understand that. So it is always a treat to see them get burned by their own greed.

In Los Angeles, we have two all news radio stations, KNX and KFWB. Both have a rich tradition of service going back to the dawn of radio. Long friendly yet serious competitors, they were both gobbled up in the radio mergers of the last few years and now find themselves part of the same parent, Viacom.

Much like music stations that now share feeds to save money (fewer disc jockeys means more money), the two rivals have slowly been homogenized by their corporate parent to the point that you can’t really tell them apart. Recently, they were even moved from their original, separate broadcast locations into a single mega-facility on Wiltshire Blvd’s Miracle Mile. Once bitter competitors, today, only a door separates the two.

Well, today the penny pinching bit them in their corporate asses. Around 1pm, a worker for the Department of Water and Power cut a cable he shouldn’t have, and power went out. he then compounded the error by reconnecting the cable backwards, causing a cascade failure of the transmission grid. Power to half of Los Angeles was cut.

In the past, Los Angelinos could turn in times of trouble to their twin news powerhouses to get the very latest news. Not today. When the power was cut, what went first? That’s right – the Miracle Mile. Down went the power to the Viacom studios, and off the air went both news stations. Pathetic. When the public needed them the most, they were both cut down by the stupidity of corporate penny-pinching. In the wake of the Katrina disaster, Viacom should be ashamed. I just hope they pull their heads out of their assets before the Big One hits …

Speaking of Katrina, we’ve started a charity auction over in the Marlin Club with all proceeds going to relief charities. It’s nothing fancy, just a way for folks with heavy hearts to try and help out. Please take the time to check it out, and dig deep.

We had theorized over the weekend just how many fish the folks in the money tourneys would get if the club guys were getting dozens. Well, today we found out, as Day One of the Zane Grey saw an insane amount of action. Most of the action occurred in grid Juliet 7, better known as the 181 to the rest of us. I suspect they’d have run even further south, but the 181 was the bottom of the grid.

By my unofficial count, there were at least 18 releases, with KNOT FOR RENT and BAD COMPANY leading the way with 4 each. Nipping their heals is perennial favorite AFTER MIDNIGHT with three. Three fish were killed, and so far the largest is a 209-lb beast by SEA JEWELL followed by a 173-lber by FIRE HATT. The weather was still on the rugged side, but not enough to interfere with the big battlewagons. Tomorrow should be wild!

I’ll be on the beach this weekend – hey, gotta work the roses sometime! – but the beat goes on for the marlin fleet. News will break, and when it does, you’ll find it in the War Room. Then come back on Thursday for a full wrap on the ZG and the outlook for another tourney weekend!