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August 18

One little … two little … seven little marlin

Whaddayou want fuh nothin’ – a rrrrrubber biscuit?

– Jake Elwood, The Blues Brothers – “Rubber Biscuit”

It’s never a good sign when I have to open a report with a mea culpa, yet here we are. Stick around and see if I can get past it without having to do another …

(cue theme music)

One of the challenges of being a semi-professional writer is that your writing tends to take a back seat to pretty much anything else that is going on in your life – your family, your real job, etc. Having done these reports for … forever … I find that I need to give myself one mulligan a season when for some reason I just don’t get a report done. Usually it’s because I’m on a business trip, or offshore and out of cell range, but last week, it was just life itself. Reality caught me from behind, swamped my boat and overwhelmed my pumps. We’ve got the bilges pumped out now and the damage mostly fixed, so we’re giving it another shot. I’m going to resist the temptation to go back and cover all that I missed, as that inevitably will lead to another failure. As Elwood pointed out in our opening, you get what you pay for …

For about 72 hours last week, the marlin bite up off the west end of Catalina was about as good as it gets. Problem is, most of those hours were midweek while most of us had to work. But if you were bold enough to be out there, the reward was there for the taking.

Smile pretty, fish

You’ve got to start at the top and last week, the top was occupied by PESCADOR. Crewed only by owner Doug Daniels and skipper Kenny Knight, they nonetheless managed to release 7 striped marlin between Wednesday and Friday. Thursday was their big day, going 4-for-5 while working a region 2 to 3 miles north of the Osborne Bank. That’s where most of the serious boats were, despite weather that freshened significantly during the weekend. Geoff Hersch of HOOKED released one there on Thursday, and Kathy Ecklund on HOOKER released two. RUCKUS did the same on Saturday, having already released one outside the 172 on Friday. The 172 was another popular place, as Dustin Elm released one their yesterday on RASTAFISH.

The weather reports looked good, but the word from those on the water was that the conditions changes significantly Friday. That had the dual effect of shutting down the bite on the Osborne and causing a number of boats to work closer in to Catalina. For some of the boats who opted for this strategy, it was a winner – Aaron Wood and Matt Earl successfully released both ends of a jig fish double on Sunday off the West End.

Potential World Record

People are talking about how epic the Summer of ’14 is, that it’s the greatest tuna fishing in a lot of people’s lifetime, yadda yadda yadda. Here’s how hot is is: jig boats were seen working tuna on both ends of Catalina. When’s the last time you even saw a jig boat in SoCal – it takes a mighty thick tuna bite to support those guys. Imagine all the rust they had to chip of those dudes just to get them running. I won’t even try and tell you all the places that are giving up yellowfin and bluefin tuna, and the kelp paddies remain plugged with yellowtail and dorado. And remember – that 5-way opah hookup on EXCEL a couple of weeks back came when deep dropping a kelp paddie. Yup – Summer of ’14 … epic!

I’ve come to the conclusion that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become the Macarena of our time. After seeing literally hundreds of versions come across my Facebook feed in the last week, I’ve figured out a really unique way to meet the challenge that no one seems to have thought of – skip the ice and scratch the check. I appreciate that it’s raising awareness for what is a truly hideous disease, but I’m sure the folks who started it had no idea it would go viral on such a worldwide scale – otherwise, the challenge would have been “dump the bucket and make not a donation, not “or” …

Remember a couple of posts back when we talked about the amazing feat of catching three opah simultaneously on the EXCEL (out of a 5-way hookup, no less). Lost in the justifiable hullabaloo was the fact that the largest of the three, Joe Ludlow’s 181-lber, is a potential world record, coming in 18-lbs above the current record, set in 1996. We should know the results from IGFA in about a month.

I’ll have a lot more to say about it in a future update, but I just got a delivery of artwork for this years Los Pescadores Marlin Derby, and the crew has outdone themselves. The Pesky is a can’t-miss event normally, but with the demise of all of the money tournaments, we’re the last refuge for all those scoundrels. Pop over to the tourney website to get the details or to download the entry form. You never know when they’re going to ban fishermen from Avalon, so don’t miss out!

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