Most folks have given up on this marlin season, but someone has to cover it, and that someone is us. All the weekend’s “action”, and the results of the recently-completed Zane Grey Invitational – all that and more in this special Tuesday edition of the SCMO Fishing News.
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If you’ve been holding out for a late-arriving marlin season, it just might be time to throw in the towel. The only thing different this weekend from the last 10 was the strange weather and the presence of yours truly on the water. Yes, it was good to get some deep water under my keel, but I’ll confess to feeling the same sense of hopelessness with regards to this year. After all, we didn’t just not see any fish; we didn’t see any one who saw any.
I was on HOOKER for the King Harbor Marlin Club’s annual marlin tournament, one of several events going on up and down the coast. The good news is that there were some marlin found by tournament participants; the bad news is that there weren’t very many.
The KHMC tourney was based out of Avalon, and after Thursday night’s kickoff meeting at El Galeon, most of the fleet headed towards the 209, as this is the closest anyone has seen to a “hot spot” in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, the closest any of the participants got to a marlin was a jumper spooked by JEWEL LURE as it passed near. Like the Church Mouse before it, the KHMC tourney included “alternate species” – yellowtail, halibut and tuna – but the fishing was so bad no one could even get one of those. It made for a pretty glum tournament banquet, but a very nice raffle.
The rest of the weekend’s events had a common thread – catch the one marlin and win.
You’d scowl if there were no marlin, too.
Friday and Saturday, the Catalina Island Yacht Club held their annual marlin tournament, and the pickings weren’t much better. The one marlin caught for the CIYC was taken by REEL TIME, who started Saturday morning waiting for a diver to pull the mooring line out of the running gear, and ended up the day with a release and a tournament win. Once the pesky line was out of the way, they bombed down towards the 209, dropping in the lures just past the 277. A marlin came in on the short corner as they passed 10/59, and after more than a little boatside drama, angler Kenny Knight had the tournament’s only release.
While the REEL TIME crew were juggling their leader, another fleet was competing in the Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge out of San Diego. As you might imagine, most of the action was to the south, with most of the fish caught below the border. Grand Prize Winner was John Ashley of LANAI KAI, who released a marlin on the Hidden Bank. Most of the other prizes went to those catching bluefin tuna in the 15 to 20-lb range below the Tuna Pens.
Once the weekend events were out of the way, the first event of the California Billfish Series was set to begin. Moved to Dana Point from Avalon, purportedly to take advantage of the “hot bite” near the beach, the Zane Grey Invitational attracted a fleet of 10 boats – smaller than usual, to be sure, but made up of many of the boats that have worked the money event circuit the last few years. No on seriously believed the press releases touting the local bite, and it was no surprise to see the modified grid map that opened up waters south to the Mexican border. Nor was it a surprise when the first hookup of the event came Monday morning from Grid E-6, southeast of the 43 and at the very bottom of the grid. Jesse Henry on SHARK’S PARLOUR was the angler, and his release got them on the board with what would turn out to be the only marlin of the event. RUCKUS had a baitfish on this morning in grid E-4, but when they lost it a couple of minutes into the fight, it gave SHARK’S PARLOUR a clean sweep of all the prizes. They’re still counting the money, but it sounds like that one released marlin will net the team over $80,000.
Spouts at sundown
The tenth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks has come and gone, and frankly, I was a bit surprised at how understated the coverage was. We all know how our media loves to glamourize and dramatize even the smallest of things (I’m talking about you, Kim Kardashian), and I was frankly afraid at just how cheezy the coverage might be. Sure, there were the occasional silliness (Animal Planet’s “The Pets of 9-11″ comes to mind), but for the most part, the media behaved itself and did it’s job. The Naational Geographic Channel, in particular, did an outstanding job, with the first interview with former President Bush about the day and an entire week of new programming about the anniversary.
I was on the water on 9-11, which has happened several times over the years. Through the wonders of technology, I was able to show my respects through Facebook, and once I was back on the beach Sunday night I watched several documentaries I have on DVD, particularly the amazing film “9|11″ by the Naudet Brothers. If you haven’t seen this film, which shows the attack through the eyes of a pair of French filmmakers who accidentally became the most important witnesses to the event, you really should. It will remind you of the fear and the confusion and the pain of the day, which is something we should never allow ourselves to forget, no matter how much time passes.
It’s easy, really, to let things get out of proportion. As the time since the terrorist attacks grows, our perception changes and it’s just not as important as it used to be. That’s natural, I suppose, and part of the healing process. But in life, it’s important to not lose sight of the important things just because whatever is in front of you at the moment has you irritated.
As someone who’s job it is to chronicle the local offshore season, it’s a real bitch when there’s nothing to talk about. The marlin are scarce, the swordfish even rarer, and the tuna haven’t come within a day of any SoCal fishing port. It’s easy for me to get angry. But then yesterday, as I walked along the Esplanade in Redondo Beach, I saw three pods of blue whales spouting not a half-mile off the beach. I get pretty jaded about things and forget just how lucky I am sometimes, but the look of joy on the faces of people who had never seen a whale before reminded me that I can’t let the little things get in the way of what’s important – and sometimes, what’s important is a whale’s joyful spouting.
We’ll be back on Thursday with a look at the weekend’s busy tournament schedule – until then, pray for marlin …