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October 23

“It keeps going … and going … and going …”

There’s a temptation sometimes to reach for new levels of superlatives when I describe the fishing, but you have to be careful. After all, if you say the fishing is the best ever, well, that’s a mighty big claim. And yet, that’s exactly how this season seems …

(cue theme music)

This is quickly turning into the Dorian Gray of offshore seasons (look it up, kids) – it simply refuses to acknowledge the flipping of pages on the calendar. Here we are, a week away from November, and there are still all flavors of exotics in our water – water that itself seems to be as warm now as at any point in the season. Someone page Al Gore …

Leadered on HOOKED …

Let’s start with the marlin. Normally, the billfish season has petered out by now – as evidenced by my rapidly shrinking pool of past year reports to use as our look backward. That’s certainly not the case this year, and it appears that so long as the water remains warm and the anglers remain enthusiastic, there will be action to report.

Most of the activity this week came from the inshore waters just off the coast of southern Orange and northern San Diego counties. On Tuesday, Keegan Hicks released a striped marlin on Marc Levine’s AHI NUI in 270-ft of water off San Onofre. Also Tuesday, Geoff Hersch on HOOKED released a jigfish off Encinitas, while earlier today Gary Floyd released a baitfish from his 35-ft Skipjack RELENTLESS, also off San Onofre.

I find the location of these fish to be interesing. Normally, late season marlin fishing is a thing of desperation – the fish are either far to the east or far to the south, and we’re chasing them hoping to snag just one more. If you look at the numbers on these three releases, however – 01/25 for Hersch, 16/35 for Hicks and 21/40 for Floyd – you’ll see these are all very close to shore, some practically in the surf. In a season where the oceans have been so plentiful, I guess it’s no surprise that it can be user-friendly as well.

While I don’t have the reports to back it up, I’m told there was good midweek marlin action on the 9-Mile Bank as well.

The edible pelagics continue to do their part to contribute to this epic season. Yellowfin tuna and wahoo continue to be caught in the same inshore areas as the marlin, while dorado and large yellowtail are producing further offshore. Of particular note are the wahoo, which are appearing in quantities large enough for anglers to successfully target them. Break out the Marauders, boys …

Two years ago, the Lakers were preparing for their first season with the power trio of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. After one contentious season, Howard bolts for the Rockets. Nash, meanwhile, played but a handful of games over two seasons before it was announced today that he will sit out the upcoming season with back issues. I respect the Lakers’ willingness to go for the home run, but there’s just no way you can call this anything short of epic failure …

To the south, it’s hot and heavy on the tournament trail in Cabo San Lucas as 127 teams face off in the Bisbee’s Black and Blue. Fishing was tough in the two events prior to the B & B, but the large number of teams – and larger prizes – always brings out the best in Baja marlin fishing.

In yesterday’s first day action, 24 marlin were caught with 3 brought to the scales. Large fish for the day was a 304-lb blue marlin caught by Salvador Padilla on TEPEYACOS. Today saw another 18 marlin caught and two weighed; the largest being Omar Casteneda’s 385-lb blue marlin caught on CASA HOGAR. Tomorrow is the last day of fishing for the Black and Blue, and we’ll have the final results for you on Monday.

… released on AHI NUI

This weekend will see another band of low pressure roll into the Southland from up Alaska way. If you’d asked me about it a day ago, I’d have thought it had the potential to be a game changer for our season, but now it looks like it’s going to just be another wannabe …

There’s this rumor going around that the World Series is underway and, if you believe the Interweb, the Giants and Royals are tied at a game apiece. As a Dodgers fan, it would be pretty damned hard for me to watch the Giants anyway, but the last straw for me would be having to listen to that horse’s ass Joe Buck. I could dedicate an entire column to just how incompetant he is, but that’s been done by plenty of authors before me. Let’s just say that if they grabbed the voices of the teams in the series – the great John Miller of the Giants or even Rex-Dog Hudler from the Royals, they’d have a much larger audience.

Of course, we Dodger fans have been spoiled for over a half century by the world class voice of Vin Scully. For the last few years, the speculation has begun midseason as to whether the current season might be the last for the octogenarian, only to have the temporary residents of Chavez Ravine breathe a collective sigh of relief when he announces his intention to return the next year.

I bring him up because, like Scully, I’ve been contemplating retirement from this assignment; in fact, I announced at the outset of the season that this would be my last year writing these reports. Each year I spend less time on the water, and other interests have pulled me further and further from the offshore scene, making it increasingly difficult to pull together the bits and pieces of information that are the heart of these reports.

After I made my announcement and the season began to progress, I received a number of kind messages thanking me for the reports over the years. But a funny thing happened along the way – for every thank you note I received several “what are we going to do without you” notes. It’s always bothered me that we never got the readership that some of our one-time contemporaries receive, but clearly ours is a dedicated lot.

At the same time, there are new tools that can be brought to bear on the task of information gathering. We instituted the Info Ping email list a couple of years ago, and without even scratching the surface of its potential it’s become a significant source of news – particularly items that aren’t found elsewhere. Facebook, which a few years ago was the realm of college students, is a growing source of information – heck, when the fish are as close to shore as they are now, you’ll see them on FB before the boat hits the dock. Today, more people read these reports through our links on Facebook than they do from the website itself.

Scully, when asked how makes his decision whether to return year after year, said it depends on how he feels – does he still get excited to come to the ball park, and does he still have the strength to carry on a full 6-month season. That sounds like a pretty sound policy (and who am I to question the great Vin Scully), so I’m going to apply it to myself. I hate nights like this where I’m wracked by writer’s block, I hate working to a deadline, and I hate when the amount of work I put into these reports doesn’t seem to be justified by the response I get (or don’t get) from the public. On the other hand, I love chronicling a sport I love, a sport that is frankly not covered in this sort of fashion elsewhere. I love the platform it gives me to spread my beliefs regarding billfish release and the proper way to do it (even when it periodically gets me in hot water). And I especially love the way I feel when I finish a particularly good update, launching it out into the void like a proud parent sending my child to her first day of school.

In the end, I”m just not ready to walk away. In my earlier announcement, I said “I genuinely believe we are witnessing the end of the local marlin fishery,” which, at least for this season, couldn’t be further from the truth. Clearly, there’s a lot more to be seen and done and reported, and I want to be the one to do it. So come next season, should it start in May or July or whenever, I’ll be here and these reports will continue for another season. Next year at this time, we’ll do the same calculation and decide what we want to do then.

OK, those of you support our efforts can take your sigh of relief now … :-)

11 Years Ago …

October 23, 2003

We’ve got marlin news … and Marlins news …

Good news – marlin are still being seen. Better news – they’re still being caught. It was midweek, so there were fewer boats out, but several marlin were caught and released. The spot with the most action was several miles off the Slide on Catalina. Year in and year out, this is one of the most reliable marlin hot spots in our waters, so it’s no surprise to see it produce now. At least one marlin was taken there on each of Tuesday, Wednesday, and today. Another marlin was caught ten miles east of the 181, more or less on a line to Pyramid Head. Several other marlin were reportedly seen in the same general region.

The weather has been generally nice over the inner waters, although I’m told it’s been getting snotty on the back side of Catalina (hence the fishing on the front side?). There’s a Santa Ana condition forming, however, and it looks like a big gone. That usually means nor’easters, which can make for a lot of change in the local conditions. Be sure to drop by the Weather Center before you head offshore this weekend.

They always hope for great fishing in the Bisbee’s Black and Blue – after all, it’s the world’s richest billfish event. The signs weren’t good after last week’s Los Cabos tourney, and the weak fishing has continued. Yesterday, Senor Moment lead the way with a 442-lb blue marlin, followed by Gato Negro with a 312-lber. So far today, I haven’t heard of any coming in that met the 300-lb minimum weight standard. Not too good for a 165 boat fleet. We’ll have to wait and see if it improves. At least the hurricane that was headed their way has dissipated …

Well, the World Series is all tied – 2 games each. This weekend, we’re off to New York to settle things, and later tonight, we’ll see who gets to make the flight north with a 3-2 lead.

Last night was one of those games that you hold up as an example when you try and describe what makes baseball great. Roger Clemens, in likely his last career start, puts a fastball right under the bill of Miguel Cabrera, who was barely a year old when the Rocket made his first start in 1984. Cabrera stares, steps back in and, two pitches later, puts it in the bleachers. Clemens gets a strikeout with his last pitch, and a standing ovation from the Florida crows – and the Marlins bench. The Yankees tie the game with a two-out, two-strike, two-run triple in the ninth – and the Marlins win it with a walk-off home run by Alex Gonzalez in the twelfth. Oh, baby!

Of course, not everyone can see the beauty. One Chicago-based writer for a national sports web site (which will remain nameless, but is the web version of a popular sports cable channel), referred to last night’s game as having been won by "Alex Gonzalez’s cheap home run". I guess he forgot that it was just a week ago that those "cheap" hits drove the Chicago Cubs out of the playoffs and running home whining to their mommies. I think the writer had better crawl back under his mother’s skirt …

This time of the season, it’s especially important to have good information, so if you do make a trip this weekend, be sure to let us know what you see – or don’t see …

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