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August 15

“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

– Andy Dufresne, “Shawshank Redemption”

Hope may be a good thing, but sometimes, there’s just no explaining it. Tonight at the Redondo Beach Yacht Club, a group of men will gather to listen to one of the best in the business talk marlin fishing. Every one of them will hope that they learn something that will help them catch a marlin, hope that they will beat the odds this season and catch one in a down year, and hope against hope that it will happen this weekend. And, damn my soul, I shall be among them …

(cue theme music)

It’s been a quiet midweek, as you might expect, but there’s a hopefulness in the air. AGITATOR’s fish last weekend has energized the natives, and now that the kids are is school, more private boaters may be able to sneak out and look for one of their own. And with tournament season just around the corner, now’s the time to get it done.

A little reminder of what we’re looking for …

As stated earlier, hope is … well, hopeful. But even hope needs facts once in a while, and the facts are that it’s still awfully dry out there. What few marlin reports that have been made are of possible sightings south of San Clemente in the Pyramid/43/289 triangle. But I don’t need to tell you how far that is to go on nothing more than a rumor.

Closer to home, the water remains cooler than normal, which might be contributing to the offshore sightings. You can count on a large fleet of boats hitting the 267 this weekend, but when they get there, they’ll be lucky to find water that approaches 67 degrees. Not a lot of life either, unless you count the blue whales, which continue to put on a show for the tourists.

The pelagics story remains pretty much the same, with bluefin tuna, yellowtail and dorado available for those willing to run south to the 1010 Trench or Hidden Bank. That’s a long run from San Diego, and crazy long for the rest of us. But if you gotta see some blood on the decks, that’s what it’s gonna take.

So, most of you know that I was a huge Florida Marlins fan right from the outset in ’93. I saw the highs – championships in ’97 and ’03 – and the lows – firesales immediately thereafter. I had to sit and watch as Miguel Cabrera, who as a midseason callup helped power our 2003 title run, blossom into the greatest hitter in the game – in Detroit. The roster of great players who started in teal but ended up wearing someone else’s colors is long indeed.

I could tolerate pretty much any insult the ownership groups could come up with, but even I couldn’t deal with the change to the “Miami Marlins” and their hideous unis. Even when the front office tried to sooth the fans by stocking up with free agents last year, they stabbed the fans in the heart by selling them all off by August. My disgust was justified, and I said “no max” to South Beach.

As Ron White would say, I told you that story to tell you this one. I was born a Dodgers fan, and it was only the serendipitous arrival of the Marlins at a particularly ugly point in LA history that got me to make the jump. This year, I decided to return to my roots and pull for the home team. I took in a spring training game in Glendale, AZ, bought my first Dodgers 59-50 and looked forward to a winning team. That, as any baseball fan would tell you, didn’t happen, as the Blue limped out of the gate with the worst record in the NL West at the quarter pole. Things were looking surprisingly Marlin-like …

And then a funny thing happened. All those guys who’d been in and out of the lineup got healthy and started hitting. The starting rotation – the one strong point early on – kept up their domination. The bullpen turned from quicksand to granite. And then there’s that kid Puig, who I watched crush two balls in Glendale only to be sent to Double-A. Yeah, he’s played a role.

Bottom line: my faith in baseball has been restored, and it happened right here at home. I still catch myself checking the latest stats on Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, but I’m back in the fold – and picked a pretty good year to do it, too. Next stop – World Series, baby!

Speaking of championships, we’re still waiting to see what happens with the erstwhile California Billfish Series. As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Series is up in the air with the most recent owners exercising their option to punch out and send it back to the last ownership group. I’ve spoken with some of their reps and while they try to maintain a happy facade, I don’t believe there’s any way the events will happen this year. And with the openly hostile manner which all tourneys – money and club alike – are being treated by the Powers That Be Avalon, the glory days of SoCal marlin events may well be gone …

A quick check of the weather tells me it should be pretty nice – 10 kts inshore, up to 15 further out – so maybe this will be the weekend things finally pop. If they do, you’ll see it here Monday – and if you’re in the middle of it, be sure to tell us about it!

4 Years Ago …

August 13, 2009

It’s the midweek report, and it’s quiet … reeeeeeal quiet. Not a lot of action going happening out on the water, as most anglers dream of the weekend. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook – and the Fishing News soldiers on!

What’s up with that?

OK, you came here looking for marlin dope, so the least I can do is pass along what I know … such as it is. The waters in the Catalina Bight have cooled by nearly 5 degrees in the last week, and there’s no clear gathering of marlin to be found. I won’t bother showing you a SST chart, because the cloud cover has been so thick that the satellites can’t penetrate it to derive some data. How thick, you say? So thick that at last week’s AVP beach volleyball tourney in Hermosa Beach, the girls were wearing clothes! No wonder I’m grumpy …

The boats that did head out during the week seem to be split between two different strategies. The first group was working the same ridge line high spots that have been the producers so far this season the line south from the Avalon Bank through the 277 and down to the 279 and 209. The reports back indicate that while the conditions look pretty good, there isn’t any mass of fish.  SOUND INVESTMENT got one yesterday on the 279, and MOTIVATOR was able get a pair yesterday only 7 or 8 miles out of Newport.  However, despite the proximity to the beach and large (by midweek standards) fleet, that was the only real action.

The second group are the multi-taskers, looking for marlin further offshore while they chase other opportunities. These are the boats working the inside of San Clemente Island, the 289, and south off Pyramid Head towards the 43. Several reported bites, but more often than not they turned out to be sharks. Without any real concentration of warm water or marlin, this weekend looks to be something of a crap shoot. But I’m sure that when one of you finds the hot spot, we’ll be the first you tell. OK, how about among the first ten?

This weekend kicks off the local tourney season, with the Cabo/Hatteras Challenge run out of Newport Beach. It’s a fun event put on by Stan Miller Yachts as part tourney / part social event, and it’s a great chance for folks with those brands to find out what they can really do. The next event will be the Churchmouse next weekend; we’ll have more to say next week, but if you haven’t signed up, you’d better hurrry!

One interesting side note is the continuing presence of bluefin tuna in our local waters. A cold water species, they usually have moved off by now. Notoriously line-shy, they’re living up to their reputation for the anglers who find them, and more than one frustrated boatload of fishermen has had to drive away from a school that just won’t bite. The 43 has seen the most fish, but the 209 and the 181182 ridge have had fish as well.

This week included the debut of the new Discovery Channel reality series, “Swords:  Life On The Line,” which is every bit as cheesy as the title might indicate.  Because of the conservation concerns associated with glorifying this particular form of fishing, there’s been a lot of heated discussion about the show, and I’ve talked about it at length in the MarlinBlog. But it also got me thinking about the local rod-and-reel swordfishing efforts.  This has been an off year for both the private boaters and the harpooners, and everyone wonders why.  But there are those who believe that our biggest problem as sports anglers is that we target the swordfish at absolutely the wrong point in time.

Swordfish spend most of their time prowling the deep water and are believed to only rise to the warmer surface regions to help digest a full belly of catch.  That might make them an easy target for a guy with a spear, but you can see why they might not be interested in a mackerel bounced off their heads.

The east coast anglers have an entirely different approach, using massive weighs to reach the depths where the swords lurk and lights to attract them.  The methods have long worked at night, and there’s a growing daytime fishery as well.  And yet, you don’t see much of the method applied in SoCal.  Is it something about our geography making the methods not work?  Are our swords somehow different than those on the east coast?  Are we just a bunch of candy-asses who don’t want to sit in a boat all night long?  What do you think?

… and I thank you …

Before we go, a quick shout-out to those of you who choose to support this site through your MNAC membership. You’re easy enough to spot, both by the graphic accompanying your posts in the forum or the smiles that come with the knowledge that MNAC members avoid the effective but annoying Re-CAPTCHA validation. Whether an existing member making your yearly renewal payment, a brand new member, or a previous member re-upping, your support is gratefully appreciated. Billfishing is quickly becoming a technology-dependant sport, and reporting on it requires technology as well. So when we have weeks like this last one, where one of the servers at the SCMO Home Office gave up the ghost, it’s great to have a reserve we can dip into to keep things running smoothly.

But equally valuable to me personally are the messages that accompany the payments. Kind words of support don’t pay the bills, but they do nourish the heart and soul, and there are times that they carry the staff much further than money ever could. Thanks again for all your support over the years – we literally couldn’t do this without you!

There’s a natural tendency to worry if the season doesn’t start with a bang, but all you have to do is look to the recent past to realize there’s nothing wrong … at least not yet! See you on Monday with a recap of what will hopefully be a successful weekend of billfishing!

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