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Archive for the ‘2007’ Category.

October 15 – Final Report

Marlin? What marlin? Exactly the reason this is the final report of a lousy season.

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I’m not gonna lie to you … it’s been tough to write reports this season. So few fish, so little to talk about. So it’s probably time to pull the plug and let this season die peacefully.

There are still a couple of boats out looking for that last fish of the season, and certainly any one that is caught at this point could well be the final one. But the water temps are dropping (down to around 66F on the Avalon Bank), and we keep getting these wannabe winter storms forming, so it’s certainly time for the fat lady to do here thing.

Amazingly enough, the party boats are still catching tuna. I can’t imagine who’s paying for the ride, since there can’t possibly be a freezer in SoCal that isn’t plugged with three kinds of tuna right now.

 The Cabo tourney season kicks off this week with the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament; next week is the first of the Bisbee’s events. Be sure to check out the Offshore Fishing Forum for updates on the events, as I’ve bribed several MNAC members who are fishing the events to provide on-the-spot reporting. For the rest of us, I guess there’s nothing left to do but break down the tackle, ruminate about the lousy fishing, and pray that it’s better next season …

Since this is the last report, it’s a good time for my "thanks and no thanks" rant. First, as always, thank you to each of our MNAC members whose support keeps this place going. There are times when I’m feeling down or are suffering from some kind of writer’s cramp, and it’s the knowledge that you guys are out there that fires me up and keeps me going. That said, there is one area where our membership came up weak this season.

For these reports to be successful, three key things have to happen. I need to be on the water, since the best information will always be that I can collect myself, either by witnessing it or hearing it first-hand on the radio. The second thing that has to happen is I need to pound my regular sources pretty hard to make sure that whatever information might be available makes it into these reports. Finally, our membership – you guys – needs to take the time to file a Trip Report after every – every – trip offshore.

Now, to be certain, I failed in that first category, as I only got offshore twice during the season and didn’t get close to seeing any action. My contacts ponied up the dope as they always do, which leaves the Trip Reports – or lack thereof. We have over 100 members who hail from SoCal home ports, and I’d guess that a total of maybe 10 filed a TR – and the vast majority came from just 2 members. All I can say is thank God for Bob Hoose and Greg Stotesbury, who not only file complete reports but are usually in the middle of the action.

Filing those Trip Reports is optional, of course, but helps so much. It doesn’t matter if you catch fish or not, or if you have mad writing skills or not. All you have to do is say we went here, and this is what we saw – or didn’t see. I just know that there’s at least 25 MNAC members on the water every weekend of marlin season – imagine if even half of them provided a Trip Report describing their action! What a resource. Now, I know that filing a TR will never bring you the ego-boost as posting it over at Bloody Decks or Allcoast, but those posts will never bring the respect you’ll get here. At least the people who read your TR will appreciate the information and understand what it is you’re talking about. Think about it for next season, OK?

October 8

“It’s not that the wind is blowin’ … it’s what the wind is blowin’.”

- Ron White

The wind was a-blowin’ here at the Home Office … did the marlin fishing blow as well? And why are they still catching tuna – don’t they migrate? Must be time for the Fishing News …

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With the end of the local tourney season, the money boats have headed south or headed home. That leaves only the hard-asses … er, hard-heads … to try and find the fish. Always interesting to see how the fleet does once most of the talent has fled …

Yeah, that’s right – no Thursday report again. Hey, when no one is filing Trip Reports and I’m not hearing of much action, I figure I might as well save the words …

The Home Office staff wants to send along their best wishes to a friend of SCMO who’s on the mend. Ron Johnson, captain of SHOWDOWN, is recovering from heart surgery having had a couple of arteries cleaned out. Like too many of us, he waited until he felt the pain before finally going to the doctor – and they sent him straight to surgery. A lesson for us all. Ron’s the one who tagged me as “Ol’ Dot Com” – a much better name than some that were suggested by others in the fleet – so he’ll always have a seat at our table. Get well soon, Ron!

Oh yeah … the fishing. It’s not that there are no marlin out there any more – heck, WAIT-N-SEA got three last week working outside the 182. It’s just that there 1) aren’t a lot of them, 2) aren’t many boats out there to find them and 3) they aren’t biting much. But they are being seen. Probably the most action is happening around the 182 – after all, everyone loves to fish where the fish were, rather than finding out where the fish are. But marlin were also seen as far north as the Avalon Bank, and boats chasing the still-present tuna reported seeing and/or catching marlin as incidental catch among the tuna – just like the beginning of the season all over again!

In addition to the marlin action on the 182, that’s been a good spot for yellowfin tuna as well. There’s a bizarre mix out there right now, as both warm water and cold water tuna are available – long after both should have long since departed. OF course, that could also explain why it’s been such a crappy marlin year – good tuna years usually are, since the conditions each prefer are pretty much mutually exclusive. Of course, it could also be all those Mexican boats that caught 10,000 marlin each …

As the season winds down, there will inevitably be a last report. Sometimes, I’ll take the time to write a dedicated final report, but sometimes the season just peters out and I realize that the last report is really the last report. So let me take a moment here to thank all of you for your continued support. The emails, the Trip Reports, the Release Reports – they all help me stitch this together, and the thank-you messages keep it all going. Lord willing, we’ll do this all again next season.

October 1

Sharp-eyed viewers will have noticed that we missed an update last week – and thanks for the helpful (and not so helpful) email reminders of that fact. We try hard to not make this place seem like a one-man operation, but that’s the reality. Sometimes, life jumps up and bites you in a painful spot, and priorities must be assigned, and you don’t get an update. Sorry, but deal with it.

With that, we’re off!

With the end of the local tourney season, most of the boats have either headed south for Los Cabos and more tournament glory, or tied up for the winter. Some hearty souls are sticking it out, though, even with little evidence that there’ll be a late season bump.

Those boats that were out were split between two fleets – one working near the 289 between Catalina and San Clemente, and another that headed down the ridge towards the 182. From the limited reports I’ve received, I’d say the folks who opted for the ridge took the right path. A lot of marlin were seen on the 182, and even more further down at the 9 Mile Bank, but not a lot were caught.

How tough was the fishing? Sunday was the inaugural California Billfish Series championship. According to the folks at Bisbee’s, GAMBLER was declared the winner "based on their performance in the previous three events." Does that mean no one caught anything, or they just said, "there’s no fish out there – screw it!" … :-)

Of course, bad fishing is only bad fishing unless you happen to be WILD BILL. Jim Kingsmill needed to kill some time as BAD COMPANY made the transit from Catalina to Cabo, so he was out on the family yacht this weekend. Putting to rest once and for all any thought that the new ride couldn’t catch fish like the last one (or the one before that), they released seven marlin for the weekend – 3 on Saturday and 4 more on Sunday. They were working the 182 and points south, although the last one was caught on the 312 as they paddled north. All baitfish, naturally, and all on circle hooks – yeah! Jim’s got another couple of weekends before he has to head south to catch up with BC – hopefully, he’ll leave a few for the rest of us … or at least find them for us … :-)

For those of you with plans for the weekend, you should know that Tropical Storm Juliette has stalled west of Cabo San Lucas. It looks like she’ll be downgraded to a tropical depression in a day or so and start to dissipate, but the remains could drift this way and impact the local weather … stay tuned …

I’m going to go back in time for a minute to the Pesky. By now, everyone knows the story of how I ended up on the beach rather than the water. I’ve included a couple of pictures in this update that illustrate my dilemma. The first is of MNAC member Rob Espinosa reminding me that, even though I wasn’t there, I was still Number One … at least that’s what they told me. The other is a shot taken from a beach in San Diego on Saturday the 22nd – Day 2 of the Pesky. Look close and you’ll see a total of seven waterspouts in different degrees of formation. I rest my case.

One last thought on the Pesky. We didn’t have the usual awards, since I wasn’t there, but I’d say the Hard Luck Award has to go to the Gunters – Warren Sr and Jr. If you’ve ever fished the Pesky, you know that releasing the fish is only part of the challenge. Based on the theme of the event, there’s a series of things you have to do during the fight to achieve bonus points to go with the release points. Often, it’s those bonus points that makes the difference between a first place fish and a fifth place also-ran.

The Gunters ended up fishing JEWEL LURE with just the two of them on board, and that put them at a serious handicap if they caught a fish, since there was no one along to deal with all the Pesky eccentricities. As fate would have it, Warren Jr hooked a baitfish on Friday in tough conditions. They got the fish, but weren’t able to deal with all the costume changes, etc, and it cost them bonus points. They showed class, though, by admitting their inability to score the bonus points – something I suspect not everyone in the event would emulate, if they were in the same position. So, congrats to Warren Jr for the baitfish and to Warren Sr. for the character …

Since the season’s down to the short strokes, I don’t know how many updates we’ll have left. Makes it appropriate to run this survey …

September 25

The frustration is palpable here at the Home Office, but it’s time to shake it off – it’s a new week, there’s new tourneys to cover and a new edition of the SCMO Fishing News!

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Normally, I’d start this report with something like, "Sorry it’s a day late – I was hung over from the Pesky." Don’t have that excuse on that one (more in a minute); instead, I was hoping to get some better reports from the weekend. But whether it was the weather, the hangovers or just plain embarassment for the lousy performances, information is pretty hard to get. So here’s what we have …

Let’s start with the Pesky. As you may know – or, may not – the weather that we alluded to in our last report caused several teams to pull out of the event – including our own Team HOOKER. I respect the decision, but it’ll take me a while to get over the disappointment. I’ll spare you the waterworks here, but if you want to read the whole story, you can do so over at the MarlinBlog.

In the end, though, nearly 40 teams headed into the teeth of uncertain weather conditions to do battle with what has thusfar this season been an elusive foe – the striped marlin. As you might expect, some boats ran to the last known spots, and other opted to fish in the relative safety of the lee of Catalina – and both options worked. Congrats to Shane Melton, who released the winning fish while fishing on WAIT-N-SEA down by the 181. The weather conditions made radio reception so poor that most tourney contenders didn’t even know WNS had released a fish until after the end of the event. Also releasing fish under tough conditions were WHISKEY SAUER and HAULIN ARC. The storm we all feared finally blew through the Catalina Bight on Friday night, making for wild conditions in Avalon. Nearly an inch of rain fell on slopes around town freshly denuded by this summer’s fire, and several parts of town had to be evacuated due to mudslides. For the fleet on anchor, the mud dirtied up the harbor waters to the point that most boats had their bait die over night. My favorite story comes from Rob Espinosa on PESCAHOLIC, who mentioned that on Friday, the run from the 181 to Avalon was downhill – just the opposite of normal.

Of course, the rain had blown out by the time the festivities began on Saturday night, and I’m told a good time was had by all. I can’t really say for sure, of course, since out of 40 boats, none have filed a Trip Report … grr …

But there’s no time to cry over spilt watermelon shooters – Monday saw the beginning of another tournament. The Hatteras Catalina Classic saw over 70 boats idling outside Avalon waiting for the starting gun. Once it went off, most of the boats headed south towards the 209 – and that’s where the only action of the day was found. Three fish were released there, all before noon – one each for FIRE HATT, SEA JEWEL and LUCKY K. No marlin were brought to the scales, although lots of sharks were caught.

The action today was just as grim, and only 4 marlin were released. The bite today was further up the ridge towards Catalina, and it was a morning bite – the last fish was released at 8:19! BAD COMPANY, ERIN MARIE, GOOD KARMA and BREAKWATER each released a marlin, and three more were killed but did not meet the minimum weight requirement.

We’ve talked about this tourney in the past, and the "overtime" methodology they use if no one catches a qualifier. The event should have ended today, but since no qualifying fish were killed, they’ll have an extra day tomorrow to see if someone can kill one big enough. The release division, however, ended today. Frankly, if these guys were at all serious about conservation, they’d just give the first prize to the leading release boat – which I think will be FIRE HATT. But hey – there’s just no publicity as good as a dead fish hanging next to a sweaty angler and a pretty girl … isn’t that right, Wayne?

The Classic is the last of the traditional tourneys, but there’s one more this year – an "all-star" event made up of the top eight boats from the three previous money events. The California Billfish Series Championship (or "CBS") will be a one-day shootout this Saturday. That’s a deviation from the other events, which run on Monday and Tuesday, and gives the average Joe a chance to watch the fishing elite in action. It should be interesting.

OK, that’s it for now. If I hear any stories from the Pesky – and you just know they’re out there – I’ll be sure to pass them along!

September 20

"Ooh, I hear laughter in the rain …"

There’s no change in the fishing, but a scary change in the weather. Full wrap up of the Zane Grey and a preview of the Pesky – all that and more in this get-out-of-town edition of the SCMO Fishing News!

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This will be a quickie, because we’re heading out later tonight to pre-position for fishing tomorrow. But there’s so much to squeeze in …

Before we return to the tourney trail, we need to talk a little about the weather. In SoCal, you have to take weather reports with a grain of salt. All it takes is one drop of rain on the windshield, and the TV weather folks shift into "StormWatch". So when they talk about a rare, severe storm, you have to wonder if they’re serious.

This particular storm is coming out of the north – just like those we would see in the winter, except that it’s September. It’s bringing rain, and snow to the higher elevations, and a lot of wind. Most worrisome to those of us who plan to spend the weekend on the water is the warning that this particular storm will probably spawn waterspouts over the inner waters of SoCal. That’s something you don’t see often here, and you damned well don’t want to be around. If you’re planning to head out this weekend, be sure to keep a close eye on the weather reports, but put your trust in your own judgment to do the right thing. Better to stay on the beach than get pounded unnecessarily.

OK, back to the tourney coverage. Yesterday saw the wrap up of the Zane Grey Invitational after three tough days of fishing. As reported here on Monday, BAD COMPANY was leading after Day One, but it was a short-lived lead.

Day Two saw boats once again running south to the very edge of the grid – so far south, in fact, that the Tournament Control had to repeatedly remind teams of where the line was and that any fish hooked south of it would not count. They had to give their grid numbers, but not the actual location. However, my spys tell me that the fishing was happening between and just outside the 181 and 138 spots.

The fishing was much better on this day, with a steady pick through out the morning and early afternoon. A FEW BUCKS opened the action with a release shortly after 8AM, followed a little more than an hour later by GAMBLER with the first boated fish of the event – a striped marlin that weighed in at 169-lbs on Rosie’s scale on the Green Pier. SCRAMBLER had a pair of releases, and CHIQUELIN and GAMBLER each released one before noon. In the afternoon bite, GOOD KARMA and NIRVANA (now that’s a happy pair!) each released a marlin before OHANA boated the second fish of the tourney, which ultimately tipped the scales at 175-lbs. AFTER MIDNIGHT ended the day’s action with a release shortly after 4PM.

At the end of Day Two, OHANA and GAMBLER topped the leaderboard with their boated fish, with BAD COMPANY in third. But it was GAMBLER that cleaned up financially, taking all five of the daily pots for a total of $67,150. Were this like most events, this would represent the final standings. But the Zane is a three-day event, and the boats had to head back out on Wednesday for one last shot at glory.

Day Three was a tough one for fishing, but the leading boats all managed to improve their scores. OHANA, CHIQUELIN and GOOD KARMA each released an early morning fish before BAD COMPANY released both fish of a double just before 10AM. That ended the scoring for the tourney, but not the action as FIRE HATT hooked and released a fish late in the afternoon. Unfortunately, they were unable to reach port before the deadline and the fish was disqualified.

As they had on Day One, BAD COMPANY swept the dailies, but it was OHANA that took home the title. GAMBLER was second, and BAD COMPANY remained in third despite their Day Three double. But save your tears for Team BC, as they once again cashed the biggest check of the weekend.

The tournament schedule tends to bounce between weekday money events and weekend club tourneys. That means this weekend is time for the next club event – and it’s a wild one. If you’ve never fished in The Pesky, there’s really nothing I can do to describe it. It’s great fishing and great partying, plus it’s a theme event – with all the chaos that comes with it. This year, the theme is "Dangerous Catch" – a salute to the Alaskan crab fishing reality show. Being the Pesky, there’s theme-based costumes for the angler and skipper to wear while fighting their fish, plus the famous Pesky Bucket – this year renamed the "Trap O’ Crap" filled with a mixture of useful and humorous products, including the famous bagels. Wind or not, we’re gonna have a great time – look here on Monday for a full wrap, and in the MarlinBlog next week for our 2nd Annual Pesky "Awards They Should Have Given" entry.

That’s it for now – if you’re going to be out this weekend, be safe!

September 17

Anglers make long runs for short results as the tournament trail continues. The Masters is done, the Zane is going, and the Pesky is coming – and we’ve got it all right here in this edition of the SCMO Fishing News!

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As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was the final of two fishing days in the Balboa Angling Club’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament. With no real "bite" to chase, anglers and crews were left to scratch their heads and consult whatever sources they could find – SST charts, swordfish dope or Ouija Boards – to try and decide where to fish. When lines in came, however, it was clear that the vast majority of the 57-boat fleet was headed south – far south. The MABT grid map dipped deep into Mexican waters, and several of the teams were determined to fish right on the edge.

Unfortunately, those guys overran the bite, which materialized inside the 209. The Masters is a line-class event, featuring some of the best light line fishermen on the West Coast. Unfortunately, that also means a lot of fish lost – several of which cost teams a shot at the title.

NON-TAXING opened the scoring with a marlin just before noon on Friday, but the fish died – no points! Scott Kingsmill released a marlin on 12-lb tackle from WILD BILL just before 4, followed quickly by a 30-lb release by BILL JOY and and 20-lb fish for PROVIDER, which closed out the fishing on a tough Day 1.

Day 2 saw fishing conditions just as tough, and the fish just as scattered. BILL JOY struck first, as Jim Sieminski successfully released a marlin on 12-lb. It was part of a 12-lb double – imagine how hard that would be! COHO released a marlin at 3, and REEL TIME angler Dave King closed the scoring with a 16-lb release just before 5PM.

With the light line in play, lots of fish were called in before they could be identified, and several chagrined crews had to report their marlin had morphed into a mako shark or yellowfin tuna. But that just adds to the pressure of the event, and the minute you assume you don’t have a marlin is when you get burned.

A total of 7 fish were released for the event out of maybe a dozen marlin hookups and another dozen that turned out to be the wrong kind. When the numbers were totaled, Scott Kingsmill was the 2007 Master Angler with his 12-lb release, BILL JOY was High Boat with two released marlin, and the Tuna Club was the High Club.

This is really a great event – certainly the preeminent club marlin tourney in SoCal. As a BAC member, I intend to find a way to fish it next year. You heard it here first … :-)

Frankly, I don’t know how some of the boats and crews keep their heads straight as they transition from one tourney to the next with less than a few hours sleep between the two. Take today, for example. Yesterday, the Masters concluded with two days of fishing, most of it far to the south. The boats had to race back north, head into Newport for the event banquet, then bomb across the channel to be on site for a dawn shotgun start for the Zane Grey. It’s crazy – and I envy the hell out of them!

Under the greylight cloud cover, 27 boats roared out of Avalon in search of marlin as the Rivera Zane Grey Invitational kicked off their first day of fishing today. With a limited field competing for a first prize of over $50,000, little fuel was spared as skippers ran to their favorite secret numbers. Since many of the boats had fished the Masters only a day earlier, it’s no surprise that many of the top teams started their tourney with another run south.

Following up on their Avalon Billfish Classic victory last week, CHIQUELIN was first on the board with a release at 10:24. BAD COMPANY released one at 10:59, followed almost immediately by OHANA at 11:02. BC scored once again in the afternoon, and their 2:45 release guaranteed them the Day One side pots and the overnight lead.

Both BAD COMPANY fish, as well as the release by CHIQUELIN, came in Grid J7, which includes the 181138 ridge. OHANA released their marlin in Grid K4, which is just north of the 209.

BAD COMPANY leads the standings with 200 points, with CHIQUELIN and OHANA following with 100 each. BC’s Day 1 jackpot winnings total $67,150. Not a bad day’s work. If there is a Thursday report, we’ll have a tourney wrap there; otherwise, look for the final standings in the War Room Wednesday.

OK, this is officially your final chance to sign up for The Pesky ; the kickoff is Wednesday night at the Villa Nova, and if we don’t have your name, you don’t get your bucket of crap. C’mon – you don’t really want to have to listen to us tell all our stories after the event knowing you missed it, do you? Check out this MarlinBlog entry from last year’s event if you want to get a feel for how we roll …

I could talk about albacore or dorado or yellowfin tuna or yellowtail right about now, but hey – do any of us really care when it’s tourney season? I didn’t think so …

That’ll do it for now. There may or may not be a Thursday report, depending on when I leave for the Pesky. If there’s a report, we’ll have a wrap on the Zane Grey along with full coverage of the Pesky pre-party. Otherwise, check in the War Room for the ZG, and you’ll just have to catch me in Avalon for a Pesky update. Personally, I’d start at the Watermelon Bank … :-)

September 13

Bad weather makes for bad fishing, and a surprisingly bad performance by BAD COMPANY. Is it bad karma to keep with this bad theme? Stick around for a hopefully good edition of the SCMO Fishing News!

The SoCal tourney trail rolls on, with events just completed and others about to start. For many boats and crews, that means maybe a day to clean up, fuel up and ready yourself between events. Hopefully, they’ll use part of that day to check out the results here …

Monday and Tuesday saw the contesting of the Avalon Billfish Classic, an all-release event. Twenty-four boats participated in the shotgun start at dawn offshore of Avalon. Several interesting things about this event. First, they added an "amateur" division, giving an opportunity to those who want the experience of fishing in a big-time tourney without having to go head to head with the best of the pros. Second, the new title sponsor, Contender Boats, brought in a fleet of their own, stocked with East Coast pros and their techniques. It made for an interesting outcome.

Knowing that the majority of the fish over the weekend had been caught outside and below the 277, most boats correctly guessed that the fish would pop up at the 289. EL DIABLO opened the event with the first released marlin of the day, followed by a pair by CHIQUELIN. By day’s end thirteen fish had been released, with SNAKE DANCER and CHIQUELIN leading the way with three each.

Day Two saw a big change for the worse in the weather, and it impacted the fishing. CHIQUELIN added one more release, but the big achievers of the day were GAMBLER and CONTENDER WEST with three releases each. In the end, CHIQUELIN took the award as the leading boat in the pro category, joined by leading amateur EL DIABLO. The hard luck award goes to GAMBLER, which placed 4th with their three releases, but had a fourth fall off late in Day Two.

For those of us who’ve followed West Coast events for the last few years, it’s no surprise to see Mike "The Beak" Hurt bring another victory for CHIQUELIN. But where, you might ask, was the dominant BAD COMPANY team? They were in the event, but only managed a single release on the first day. I hear that hot stick Jimmy Kingsmill wasn’t on board, which doubtless impacted their success …

Good news – our San Diego reporter has resurfaced, so we can provide some coverage of last weekend’s Invitational Light Tackle Tournament, presented by the San Diego Marlin Club. Fourteen boats competed in the event, which ran last Friday and Saturday. Fifteen marlin were released in the tourney, with a pretty even distribution – 5 boats released two fish each, and 5 more released one. A drawing was used to pick a winner from the top five boats, so congratulations to OLD BLUE for both their fishing luck and their drawing luck. Most of the fish in the ILTT came from below the Mexican border between the 371 and 425 spots.

This site provides a lot of opportunities for people to provide commentary on what we do. From the Guest Log to the Release Reports to the Offshore Fishing Forum, no one can say their voice isn’t heard. One of the places that inevitably makes me smile are the comments provided by some of our visitors to the MarlinBlog.

Today was one of those times, as I found the following comment added to a blog entry about Kathy Griffin’s "suck it Jesus" commentary"

Uh, I googled this as a marlin blog. Is there anything marlin here?

I can understand his confusion – after all, the MB is only surrounded by marlin stuff! Hopefully by now, you all understand that the MarlinBlog is where you can go to find all the pithy commentary that used to be sprinkled elsewhere in the site – including this report. Just look at the example below from 2004 – there’s a lot of stuff other than marlin there. We’ve developed a loyal core of followers over at the MB – mostly people with as perverse a sense of humor as mine – but the rest of you are always welcome to join the party. Oh, and my friend above who was apparently disappointed at the lack of fishing info in the MB? How serious can you take a guy who’s email addy is "but2mouth@yahoo.com" … I’m serious!

Hopefully by now, we’ve piqued your interest in tournament action, so why not take the next step? It’s not too late to sign up for the 18th Annual Los Pescadores Next To Avalon Invitational Not So Light Tackle Billfish Derby, better known "the Pesky" or "Those Bastards With The Bagels". We fish hard, we party hard, most people survive with their memories and dignity intact, and a good time is had by all. It’s a themed event; this year it’s a riff on "Deadliest Catch". Since it’s our 18th year, I suggested we go with a "finally legal" theme – you know, make the angler dress like a slutty Lindsey Lohan clone. They never listen to me … *pout* Anyway, you can read all about it here; be sure to tell them I send you – it’ll only cost you an extra $25 … :-)

Next up for the tourney teams is the Balboa Angling Club’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament, which will be competed on Friday and Saturday. This elite team event attracts the best of the local anglers and traditionally highlights some spectacular light tackle angling. If the weather continues to be an issue, that will be quite a challenge to anglers prepared to catch marlin on 12-lb test …

For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, the albacore continue to hang out on the Butterfly, Mushroom and Cortes Banks. Makes no damned sense to me, but the boats just keep coming and going. You’d think everyone’s freezers would be plugged by now. Those looking for the light tuna should check out the 371, where school-sized yellowfin are being caught. No additional reports on those 100-lbers … damn!

That’s all for tonight. Weather reports look promising, so good luck to everyone in the MABT fleet tomorrow – enjoy that ride down to the 289 … and the ride back up! See you Monday …

September 10

It was the first big tourney weekend and hey – there were actually fish to catch! The first big money event of the season is underway – guess who’s winning (I’ll give you a hint – it isn’t BAD COMPANY!)? And I finally got out on the water, but it wasn’t on HOOKER – what’s up with that? We recap the weekend’s events and more in this edition of the SCMO Fishing News!

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This was a big weekend for club tournaments, so let’s jump right in. The Tuna Club held an event on Friday and Saturday, and a full fleet was working the dacron hard. The fleet battled the elements just inside the 277, and in the end it was KELSEY LEE that reigned victorious. BTW – if there is a prettier sportfisher in the world, I’ll be damned if I know where. What a beauty! I’d tell you all the boats that caught fish in the event, but that little scrap of paper I was scribbling names on seems to have gone through the wash. Some reporter I make. I can tell you that Greg Ragatz released one from PROSPECTOR, but only because they took the time to file a Trip Report. As for the rest of you, well, it’s your own damn fault if you don’t get the credit you deserve …

Overlapping with the Tuna Club event was the King Harbor Marlin Club’s annual Marlin Tournament. There was a twenty-something boat fleet fishing this event in pretty much the same waters as the TC. The highlight for Friday was provided by Zane Stotesbury fishing on MNAC member and Dad Greg’s KAWAKAWA. Zane released a striped marlin on 20-lb tackle late in the day during some pretty snotty afternoon chop that provided a challenge for angler and crew. Unfortunately, their celebration was cut short by engine trouble early Saturday that forced them to be towed home.

Saturday saw a couple more releases, with the most significant being a pair of releases on 50-lb tackle by the crew of QUALITY TIME. This was a family affair, as the owner has his brothers and father as the proud crew. Had a single angler released both fish, he’d have won the high angler award, but the crew had to settle for the high boat award. Zane Stotesbury was able to jump on the shuttle back to the island in time to pick up his high angler award.

The third event of the weekend was the San Diego Marlin Club’s Invitational Light Tackle Tournament. Unfortunately, my embedded reporter hasn’t filed his dispatch yet, so we’ll have to save this for Thursday.

Has it really been six years? It seems like yesterday, and yet so many things have changed. Remember when you didn’t have to worry if you were wearing clean socks when you flew? The world is a far different place than it was on September 10, 2001.

I’m one of those folks who feels we should spend whatever it takes to hunt down every bastard who had even the slightest involvement in the 9-11 attacks. I believe that if we don’t fight them over there, one day we’ll have to fight them over here. That said, I think we need to do a much better job of picking just who and where to fight, and to have something that resembles a plan for success before swinging the first punch. But these days, far too much of the discussion is about Iraq and too little about why we went there in the first place.

Tomorrow, there’ll be the standard teary-eyed tributes, and perhaps a few specials on the engineering aspects of the towers’ collapse. But there won’t be anything to remind us of the rage and anger we felt on that morning – and that’s a shame. If it were up to me, tomorrow would be all about the horror – in graphic color – that was 9-11. The rubble … the destruction … the bodies. I’ve got news for you pal – that isn’t office furniture you see falling in the picture at right. Feel the pain … feel the revulsion … feel the anger. Remember why it matters – as much today as it did on that day.

There are many ways to remember 9-11. For me, it will always be a day of mixed feelings. I remember the horror of the day and the attempts by a few to strip the many of their liberties. But I also remember 9-11-04, a day when I exercised those very liberties by releasing three marlin off Catalina. To me, that’s the perfect way to give the finger to those bastards – go out and do all those things they would try to take away. And most of all – never forget.

I was scheduled to fish in the King Harbor event on HOOKER, a tradition that stretches back to the first event in the early ’80s. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to keep the boat in the slip, and my butt on the beach – or so I thought. I was saved from a weekend of working on the roses – not to mention a whole lot of pissing and moaning – by Rob Espinosa, who offered a ride on his 45-ft Viking PESCAHOLIC.

I’ve been fortunate enough to fish marlin for hundreds of days over the years, but only on HOOKER. This was actually my first time fishing my home waters on a different boat and with a different crew, and it was an interesting experience. Rob first came to SCMO as a novice a few years back, but he’s quickly learned his business and it showed. Everything about the trip was first rate, and a good time was had by all. We even managed to have a couple of marlin Alpha Males on the same boat without arguing about tackle and tactics. We didn’t score in the event, but it was a good time and I’m grateful to Rob and the crew for a great experience.

Today was the first day of the Avalon Billfish Classic Pro-Am tourney, and 24 boats headed out in search of marlin. This is the second year of the event, but the first with the new Pro-Am format. I’m not sure what inspired the new format, but somewhere, Afishinado’s John King must be pissed …

Most of the fishing appears to have been down towards the 289, based on the radio traffic and the grid map. Thirteen releases were recorded today, lead by CHIQUILIN and SNAKE DANDER with three each. Notable among the others is QUALITY TIME, which backed up its pair in the KHMC tourney with another release today. We’ll have the final results in the next report.

Believe it or not, there are still albacore being caught out on the Butterfly and Mushroom Banks. I also heard a rumor of several boats finding them on the Cortes Bank, but that’s as yet unconfirmed. Dorado and yellowtail remain under the kelp paddies to the south, but they’re pretty hard to find. There was also a persistent rumor over the weekend of 100-lb class tuna – either yellowfin or bigeye – just south of the border.

That’s it for now. We’ll wrap up the ABC Pro-Am on Thursday, and if my reporter escapes capture by the SDMC we’ll talk about the ILTT as well. So long until then!

September 4

It was a long weekend, but a short trip – stick around and you’ll know why. The holiday’s over and we’re all back at work – and that means a new episode of the SCMO Fishing News!

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The weather this weekend was damned hot, and you’d like to think the fishing was just as hot. But you’d be wrong – other than a little flurry of action out of San Diego, the marlin fishing is pretty tame.

By the time you read this, Hurricane Henriette will have come ashore in Cabo San Lucas. As hurricanes go, Henriette is on the small size – barely a Category 1. But even small storms can cause damage and distrupt the fishing. Early reports indicate that there is no significant damage beyond some flooding. Keep your fingers crossed.

Most boats looking to get an early start on the weekend started out Friday pounding the spot off San Onofre that was successful last weekend. But, demonstrating once again why fish have tails, there was nothing to be found – just dead water. There were scattered reports of fish being seen on the Upper 9-Mile Bank and the 178 just north of it, reports that were confirmed when MIRAGE released a pair of marlin on the latter spot. That was enough to attract boats from both the upper and lower fleets, although the only folks finding success there were the San Diego based ones. Lots of fuel was burned by boats out of the northern ports for naught.

We were one of those boats looking off Onofre on Friday, and we got what the rest got – nothing. After realizing the two fish caught on the 178 were talent fish and not indicative of a real "bite" we headed up to Catalina – and ran into some of the nastiest weather I’ve seen in years around the 277. You’d think there’s only so much pounding you can do in a 46-ft Hatteras, but we had anchor chain flying and wheels coming out of the water. That and the lousy fishing were enough to make us call it a trip early on Saturday.

There was a report of one marlin being released on the 209 Saturday, and a boat working a double off of Avalon on Sunday. Unfortunately, they backed over one of the fish (ouch!) although they did get the other. For the most part, though, the northern spots were frighteningly quiet – particularly considering the number of tournaments that will be contested in those waters in the next few weeks.

The holiday Monday was remarkably quiet, which could be attributed to folks heading in early, or maybe the heat. In any case, the only reports were of several San Diego boats scoring on the upper 9-Mile Bank.

The only news from today was of a couple marlin lost on the southern banks, and DONNA C releasing one in the shipping lanes on a Petrolero EAL.

Great line of the weekend: On Saturday, a small powerboat developed a leak down by the 230 Spot in Mexican waters. The VHF crackled with reports of the Coast Guard and various private vessels working together to rescue the crew. The boat, however, was a total loss and was last seen floating bow up.

After the event has completed, someone from Coast Guard Station San Diego got on the private boaters channel to thank everyone for their help, and I quote:

Thanks for all your help in saving the guy with the hole in his Trojan – his wife is really relieved.

I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks …

Like any good newsman, I have tools that I use to get the job done. Over the years, the fish have been caught at a lot of different places in SoCal waters – some well known and others not so well known. To keep myself from going crazy, I have a couple of charts on the wall of the Home Office marked up with all of the various named spots that have been referenced in our reports. It’s a good trick you might want to consider as well.

Why do I bring this up, you ask? Well, most of the fishing action lately has been happening to the south, at spots out of San Diego and in waters just south of the border. I have those spots marked as well (that’s the lower chart in the picture), but every once in a while someone comes up with one I’ve never heard of. It happened today, when Jeff Acampora refered to the "101" in a Trip Report. Turns out it’s between the 425 and the Rockpile – and now it has it’s own little flag on the chart!

Tuna fishermen continue to enjoy success both near and far from shore. Out on the Butterfly and Mushroom Banks, anglers are finding good scores of albacore, and they’re even finding some closer to San Clemente Island. The weather out there seems to be turning rougher, though, so we’ll have to wait and see how that impacts the fishing.

If yellowfin are your thing, rejoice – the southern banks are all producing well. The 425, 371 and 390 all seem to be holding, so you can assume those further south are as well. Yellowtail and dorado continue to be found under the kelp paddies, but the combination of fishing pressure and warm water makes finding one to fish quite a difficult chore.

I’ll be fishing the King Harbor Marlin Club Marlin Tournament this weekend with Rob Espinosa on PESCAHOLIC, so no Thursday report. Hopefully, though, we’ll have a great Trip Report come Sunday!

August 27


It’s tourney season here at the SCMO Home Office, and we have the latest on the in-process Church Mouse Invitational. We’ll talk about upcoming events, and cover another good weekend of marlin fishing – all here in the Monday edition of the Fishing News!

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We indicated in the last report that Hurricane Dean might blow through during the weekend, making a possible mess of our weather. Sho ’nuff. For guys on the beach like me, the damage was limited to spots on a freshly washed car (dumbass!). But for the folks on the water it was far more serious.

Let’s first back up to Saturday. The numbers from the weekend before were well-known by Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning saw boats from both the north and south fleets converging just offshore of the San Onofre powerplant. Marlin might have fins, but these ones opted not to use them, and there were plenty available. Among many succeeding in the morning were RASTA FISH and WILD BILL, each with a pair of releases. The afternoon breeze didn’t result in the expected tailer show, though, so those who arrived late missed out.

Sunday was a different day. The unsettled weather had most anglers realizing it would be a morning bite or nothing. Several boats, in fact, opted to stay in the harbor as lightning strikes were reported throughout the north San Diego county region where the fishing was happening.

Those who tempted fate were rewarded for their bravado, as PROSPECTOR, DOUBLE D and LEGEND all released marlin. WILD BILL and their all-star crew picked up right where they left off on Saturday and released 4 marlin in the morning before calling it a day. Man … talent shows, especially when armed with Frazer-Volpes. There were also several marlin released further south off of Mission Bay.

Today was the first fishing day (of two) in the Church Mouse Invitational. If you were on the water today and aren’t sick of that whistle yet, congratulations. As had been the case over the weekend, most of the action is happening down off the nuke plant. AFTER MIDNIGHT is leading the way after Day One with three released marlin, and REEL CRAZY, RUCKUS, REELY HOOKED and MAGELLAN each releasing one marlin.

He may not be placed in the event, but the happiest guy in the event has to be Russ Armstrong of THREE DAUGHTERS. Armstrong, who owns the great Armstrong’s Seafood Restaurant in Avalon, landed a swordfish estimated to be around 250-lbs. When last heard, they were on their way to the scale, but I’m betting rather than the one on the Green Pier, that fish is headed for the scale at Armstong’s … you can probably order a piece for dinner … :-)

Speaking of tournament fishing, it’s still not too late to sign up for the SCMO staff’s favorite event – the Pesky! You’ve heard all about it – the good and the bad – and you surely must be wondering what it would be like to fish it. So why are you waiting? Visit the tourney site now for details!

For those of you who aren’t into fishing the tourneys, or are perhaps anti-social and just can’t handle running in the fleet off of San Onofre, there still good news. The albacore run at the outer banks is still going, with boats finding fish at the Butterfly, Tanner and Cortes Banks. There is also said to be a decent amount of fish due south of San Clemente Island, down towards the SCI Basin Buoy. There are yellowfin tuna mixed in, but they’re smaller ones.

If you’re really interested in the bigger tuna, you might want to head south. Several reports say that the larger yellowfin tuna have moved into the banks just south of the border, including the 390 and 425. The water has been running pretty warm for quite some time now, so does this mean we’ll see an epic run of 100-lb plus bigeye tuna later this season? Stay tuned …

One thing we heard repeatedly over the past week is the incredible amount of life in the water right now. Not only are the targeted species such as marlin, swordfish, tuna, and dorado appearing in larger numbers, but also blue whales, grey whales, Rizzo’s dolphins and even killer whales are making an appearance. Life of any kind is always a good sign, but this is a rare display. There’s even a resurgence in the number of mako sharks in the area, as demonstrated by the number of Sevenstrand EALs lost to them in recent weeks …

Which brings me to …

As I prepare these reports, I scour a lot of different sources – first hand contacts, our Trip Reports, and other online sources. While researching this week’s report, I came across a posting by Steve Ross, a sometime visitor to the SCMO waters. His boat, BAD DOG, is slipped in Ensenada and he gets to fish some pristine waters.

This weekend, he made several trips offshore with unremarkable results. What was worthy of mention, though, was this picture he claims is of a fin slicing through the waters off Ensenada. I say "claimed" because it look so large and fake that I have my suspicions, but we’ll assume the best until we hear otherwise. Assuming it’s the real deal, anyone want to take a guess at what the hell it is? Anyone? Bueller?

Good news, at least for me – there will be no Thursday report this week. Why? That’s the good news – I’m finally going fishing! Four days offshore out to bake out the last of whatever this is running amok in my system, and give me a couple of shots at getting on the board as well. Wish me luck, and if I do anything, you’ll read about it in a Trip Report. If you get out, make sure you file one too!