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Fishing News


August 25

“You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.”

              — Super Chicken

Batten those hatches …

It’s a Monday night here at the SCMO Home Office, and I have a dilemma. All too often, I find myself scrambling to get the weekend’s results, hoping that there will be enough to scratch out a Fishing News update, and fearing that my readers will recognize when I recycle a joke for filler. Not tonight. Between the Release Board submissions, Info Ping responses, secret hotline reports and legitimate news items, I have enough material for a half-dozen updates. Feast or famine …

Because I think it’s significant, I’m going to break from the normal Monday protocol and look forward before we look back. Hurricane Marie, the first Eastern Pacific hurricane to reach Category 5 strength since 2010, is currently churning about 500 miles southwest of the tip of Baja California. It won’t come close to land, and will continue to weaken as it moves further north, but the wave energy created by this giant will have an impact in our waters starting tomorrow. As our friend Chris Dunn, the Fishing Weatherman, reminds us, a storm like this doesn’t actually push warm water north – it just sends energy in the form of swells. So south facing beached and harbors will feel the wrath of Marie this week. Many places are expecting 10-ft waves on the beach, large enough to overtop seawalls and breakwaters.

The real worry for fisherman will be the impact of Marie on shelter coves. The predominant wave pattern in SoCal is from the northwest, so swells from the south means that many of the favorite anchorages – like Cat Harbor – will be vulnerable and exposed. And with the holiday weekend coming in a few days, you’re liable to find the lee side of the islands plugged. One more thing to keep in mind is that while the swells themselves aren’t an issue while offshore – it’s just like an elevator ride – the impact of any wind will be amplified. With winds predicted at a steady 10 – 15 kts all week, that elevator suddenly becomes a cliff. So, as they say, let’s be careful out there …

I’ve been doing these reports for a while, and I’m forced to admit that I’m not as young as I once was. Over the years, as the newer generations are introduced to our sport, so too is their language, and I’ve had to try and keep up. I remember the first time someone told me the fishing was “the bomb”; it took me a couple of beats before I realized he wasn’t talking about fishing with dynamite. So too when everyone was suddenly “stoked” about our sport – I came to realize that was a good thing.

You can therefore imagine my initial surprise when not one but two of our reporters indicated that a particular spot they’d been fishing was “jugged”. Now to be honest, when I hear the term “jugged” my initial thoughts go to certain of my girlfriend’s physical attributes long before it does to the world of fishing. But, given that I know the two places they were referring to, and I know just how good the fishing was there, I’m going to assume “jugged” is synonymous with stuffed, plugged, or just plain WFO.

The first place that got that tag was the waters south of San Clemente Island towards the 43 with regard to edible pelagics, but it could just as easily refer to any of the high spots or kelps in the region. Despite unyielding fishing pressure, yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and dorado remain plentiful. Haven’t heard as much lately on the bluefin; I don’t know if that means they’re not biting, or just not being reported on.

The other area described as “jugged” was the 172, which was pretty much Ground Zero for the marlin bite this weekend. The 19 new releases that hit the Billfish Release Board this weekend were evenly split between the 172, the Osborn Bank to the west and the West End to the east. The outlier in the batch comes courtesy of Kathy Ecklund and HOOKER, who released one 9 miles outside the Pedro Gap on the way back to the dock. Sometimes, it’s just your day.

Don’t mess with Mother Nature

A quick shout out to those of you who come to these updates via Facebook. We’ve railed before about some of FB’s policies, but I have something that you can do to insure you stay in the loop and stick it to the FB Man all at the same time. On the SCMO Facebook page, mouse over to the button that says “Liked”, and wait for a small menu to pop up. Check “Get Notifications”, and in the future you’ll get a Facebook notification every time we add an update. It’s got to be more important than getting an invite to play “Candy Crush”, right?

Just in case you didn’t take the earlier storm warnings as serious as you should, here’s a shot from the Turks and Caicos, where Hurricane Cristobol parked for the last day or so. He barely reached the lowest threshold for a hurricane, but clearly packed a whollop. Don’t be the guy who underestimates Marie …

Three tournaments competed this weekend, two for the Tuna Club and one for Stan Miller Yachts. In Thursday’s Linen One, Paul Hoofe on SUBCHASER was high angler with a release on 9-thread, which if my math is correct is right around 27-lb test. Paul’s was one of the many fish from the west end of Catalina. The next day, it was Team KELSEY LEE’s time to shine, with Calen Offield taking High Dacron Angler honors and KL the High Boat. Notably, Calen backed his accomplishment up on Saturday with a 20-lb baitfish. Both came from the 172.

The Cabo Hatteras Viking Challenge ran over the weekend and while I don’t know how many boats they had, I do know they released five marlin. Two of those releases came from REEL TIME – a double, no less – and anglers Chris Haug and Dave King. Their pair of releases Saturday on the Osborn gave REEL TIME top honors in the Marlin Release division.

Just to round up some of the rest of the weekend’s action, JOKER released two and PESCADOR one on the 172, while SWANEE released three and OFFSHORE one on the Osborn Bank. BLUE CHIP released two off the West End, along with singles for HONEY, HOOKER and OFFSHORE.

The Fishing Accomplishment of the Weekend (FAOTW, for short) goes to … Geoff Haldoorn, who released marlin on both Saturday and Sunday – on two different boats! Saturday, he was KINGPIN with Chris Bailey and released a jig fish at the West End. Sunday, he returned to the same place on BLACK FIN, where Jeff Tom captained him to a baitfish. Well done, Geoff!

I was talking via email to a certain Baja writer over the weekend, and he said that with all the warm water we have up here, it’s just a matter of time before someone catches a wahoo north of the border. Now I hear a rumor of one caught on the 302. If it’s true, you’ll here about it here Thursday …

That’s all the news that fits for now. If Marie allows it, I’ll finally be on the water this weekend. You can bet the HOOKER crew will have a serious weather eye on her, however, and will make the intelligent decision. I highly recommend you do as well.


  1. Mary Barker says:

    I enjoyed this article. I am no longer able to fish and it was a delight to hear the fishing news. Mary

  2. B. G. Williams says:

    I might add that Paul Hoofe’s catch aboard the Sub Chaser was caught on pre 1940s tackle.(bamboo rod, 40s reel and linen line) in accordance with the rules of the 22 year old Linen One Tournament. Johnny Crean also caught a marlin in the Tournament.
    B. G.

  3. MarlinNut says:

    Good point, BG – and one of the coolest elements of any of the West Coast tournaments. Most people don’t realize just how incredibly unforgiving that stuff is, so congrats to both angler _and_ skipper!