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Fishing News


August 2

A surprisingly quiet midweek belies what should be a very busy weekend, as the marlin fleet heads out in earnest to find the fish. Where should you go? Stick around …

(cue theme music)

Welcome to a shiny new edition of the SCMO Fishing News. It’s Thursday night here at the Home Office, and I have the Olympics going in the background – if you know the results, please don’t spoil it for me. I’m a little surprised that the last few days have been so quiet. I frankly thought that more boats would have roared offshore hoping to score a marlin, but I guess the residual scar tissue from the last few years had everyone a little skittish. After all, a lot of petroleum products went out the tailpipes of sportfishing battlewagons in the last two years for very little payoff. But the weather looks solid for this weekend, and you can bet that’s gonna lure a lot of anglers off the couch.

Catch me if you can

Ever wonder what it would look like to have a swordfish swim under your boat while you were on the mooring in Avalon? Wonder no more, courtesy of Bill Morris. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what it is …

Being midweek and all, we aren’t getting a lot of reports. Here’s what we do know: REEL TIME released one marlin and lost another down on the 371, both jigfish. That’s good news for the southern fleet, particularly after we suggested that the marlin might have swung wide and bypassed San Diego.

So what exactly does that mean? Probably nothing, because only a fool would try to extrapolate the future based on a single data point. But at this point, early in the season, seeing anything with fins is a good thing …

We also got a pair of reports of jumpers on the 279 and another on the Avalon Bank. But, again, see above regarding extrapolation.

“Sir Wiggo”, anyone?

Every four years when the Olympics rolls around, I swear I won’t watch. But like a moth to the flame, I keep getting sucked in. This year it’s been no different, and the compelling stories – from the Flying Squirrel to Missy the Missile to the end of the road for Michael Phelps – has made it worth the time.

To me, however, the best story of these Games have come from the road – specifically, those twisty roads southwest of London where the mens and womens road cycling events have been held. Team Sky dominated the recent Tour de France, and with three members on the Great Britain team, including the maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins and sprinter extraordinaire Mark Cavendish, you thought the home country would place well in the road race … and you’d be wrong. Wiggo made up for it later, however, crushing the field in the individual time trial, and looking quite regal perched in the winner’s throne. The story on the ladies side is that of Kristen Armstrong. No relation to Lance, she’s been the standard bearer for US women’s cycling seemingly forever, and she was hanging up her cleats after the Olympics. Looking every one of her 38 years in the road race, she bounced back in the time trial to repeat as Olympic champion – quite a way to go out.

At this point, I was going to talk sea surface temperatures in relation to where you ought to check this weekend, but the skies have been cloudy enough to make the charts close to worthless. It sounds like there’ll be good spotting weather this weekend, however, so make your eyeballs your best tool. I’d start at whichever of the inshore banks is closest to your home port (14-Mile Bank, 279 or 9-Mile Bank), and only head out further if the local conditions are just too depressing. Of course, if you’re one of the adventurous types who wants to poke around further around offshore, well, we’ll all appreciate your efforts.

I just received some terrible news … Mike Callan, one of the pioneering bliifishermen of Southern California, passed away today. You can read more about it here, and feel free to share your own memories of Mike.

God, first Marty and Zane and now Mike. What a tragic summer …

We’ll close on that. Be safe this weekend.

1 Year Ago …

August 1, 2011

“I’m a fool for the taking
So, baby take me down
I’m a fool for the taking
I’m not that dumb, but I don’t mind faking
A fool for the taking
Yeah, a king without a crown
A fool in the making
I can take what you give, ’cause you got me hypnotized”

Gin Blossoms, “Fool For The Taking”

Everyone knows SCMO is a seasonal site, with interest rising and falling with the arrival and departure of the striped marlin that visit the Catalina Bight each year. We have some great conversations over in the Marlin Club all year long, but we all know what people come here for – local marlin info.

At some point each season, I dust off the keys and reacquaint myself with the site in preparation for the upcoming season – I update the software, check for expired subscriptions and the like, and make a few tweaks to improve the site. Most of all, though, I get my head back in the game and saddle up for a busy season of reporting.

I hooked my first striped marlin when I was 14, but in reality it was the marlin that hooked me. I’ve chased them – and written about them – ever since. I love the action and the drama, but I love the intrigue and the history as well. For those who chase them, marlin become much more than a hobby. And so it is with this “hobby site” – it may be a one-man band, but it’s so much more than a hobby. So away we go …

We’re still waiting for the first rod-and-reel marlin and swordfish of the year, but things continue to heat up – literally. Several marlin were seen inside Catalina in the last week, including one gyro’d successfully but baited unsucessfully in the shipping lanes by xJEWEL LURE, and another hooked and lost inside the 14-Mile Bank on a black and green lure on Friday. With bluefin tuna still found on the Butterfly Bank, yellowfin tuna off Pyramid Head and room still available in most fishermen’s freezers, we haven’t seen the concentration of eyeballs on the horizon needed to locate the marlin in any quantity. Add to that nasty weather that rolled the water and knocked it down a couple of degrees over the weekend, and we may be another week away from that first flag.

Here’s one bit of good news to hold onto, though – while it’s been hard to get decent SST shots with the crappy overcast we’ve had for the last few weeks, the pics I’ve seen indicate that there’s a pretty good thrust of warm water just south of Ensenada. Right now, it’s a little cool off of San Diego, but if it punches through that we’ll have a fast track for the marlin to flood into the region. At least that’s the plan … ;-)

On the tournament front, a pair of events with local connections were competed in the last week. The 52nd Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament wrapped up five days of fishing of Kona on Friday, with the Port Vila Game Fishing Club of Vanuatu taking top honors. Overall, 73 billfish were released, mostly blue marlin with a few spearfish and one striped marlin. Only 5 marlin were killed.

To the south, the first of the annual Bisbees events in Baja California was contested during the last week as well. The East Cape Offshore Tournament was based out of Hotel Buenavista and included three days of fishing around the mouth of the Sea of Cortez. Chucky Van Wormer, a name well-known to East Cape visitors, was this year’s big winner after landing the event’s only qualifying blue marlin, a 557-lber that was the largest marlin landed in the event’s history. SNEAK ATTACK, captained by Sammy Talbert, took release honors with a mixed bag of nine billfish that included blue and striped marlin as well as a sailfish.

Next up, the tournament trail comes north for the Church Mouse Invitational starting in Avalon on the 29th – check here and in the SCMO Forums for all the details as it happens.

“Honest Abe” at rest in San Pedro

As we mentioned in our last entry, last week was Navy Week in Los Angeles. A flotilla of naval vessels made a port call to San Pedro, and the sailors were out on the town. Saturday night, my girlfriend and I were at the Dodger – Diamondbacks game, along with several hundred sailors. It was “Dollar Dodger Dog” night, and I marveled at their ability to eat a fully loaded footlong dog without soiling their dress whites (which are really white!). While in line for my own dog dinner, I overheard a 19-yr-old sailor tell of life onboard the carrier ABRAHAM LINCOLN, and what it was like to spend a year away from home. I was struck at just how young the sailors were, and reminded once again how some of our biggest burdens are placed upon our youngest citizens. We need to do a better job of rewarding them for their sacrifices.

Also in line was an officer from the LINCOLN, to whom I mentioned the proximity between LINCOLN’s temporary berth and HOOKER’s permanent home at the Cabrillo Marina. After discussing boats in general I asked him if he had any plans to be a boat owner once his hitch was up. “After 18 years on the water,” he said, “the last place I want to be is on a boat.”

Interesting how his two decades on the water will drive him to the beach, while my three decades-plus only pulls me further offshore. Hobby, indeed …

Go catch one …

One Comment

  1. […] our last report, we urged anglers to start off with their local banks and work it hard before venturing further […]