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September 27

The good news is that everyone survived the Pesky. The bad news is it looks like the mahlin have gone walkabout, mate!

If the entrants in this years LPNTAINSLTBFT (Los Pescadores Next To Avalon Invitational Not So Light Tackle Billfish Tournament) had been following the tourney action earlier in the month, they could be forgiven for getting a bit giddy. After all, the Zane Grey and Masters set records for numbers of striped marlin caught. But the real clue to how things might go came on Day Two of the Catalina Classic. After a 20 fish day to open the event, the skies opened up as a nasty line of thunderstorms raked the Catalina Bight. Only 5 fish were taken that day, and it was assumed that it was due to the tough conditions rather than any action by the fishes. But you know what they say about assumptions …

An event-record 46 boats headed out optimistically on Friday to take their best shot. Dope was scarce, and what little there was indicated that most of the action was south of the 182, which was off the tourney grid. But you do what you gotta do, and three marlin were released on Day One – one each by FIA FIA, ESCAPE ROUTE and KEA KAI. KK also had the misfortune of losing Dave Elm over the side, although he was successfully recovered. Also recovered was a record number of pseudo-marlin, courtesy of the tournament committee onboard DONNA C.

The lack of any real concentration of fish led more adventurous boats to take a flyer on some less-populated areas. Several boats worked the backside of Catalina while another small fleet worked off Pyramid Head. In the end, though, the only fish released on the final day of the tourney was by HAMMER near the 209, site of the first day releases. HOOKER had a shot at the brass ring when we baited a swordfish right outside Avalon with only an hour to go in the event, but it was for naught.

When the dust settled and the points tallied, top honors went to Rick Fuller on ESCAPE ROUTE for his successfully bagelled fish. Congrats to all the anglers and the tourney committee for another enjoyable event.

As anyone who has fished the Pesky can tell you, the end of the fishing is but the midpoint of the event. There’s still the banquet, Armstrong’s, the Marlin Club and more to contend with. Honesty forces me to admit at this point that I only have the word of others to go by about just what happened after the awards dinner, because I bailed early. This fact did not go unnoticed by the SCMO faithful, and could best be summed up by an email I received from one MNAC member. I quote …

"Stan,

You are a PUSSY!!!!!!

Where the fuck were you Saturday night??????????? YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:)"

OK, I deserve that one. But after as many Pesky afterparties as I’ve barely survived, I figured I’d try something new and see what it feels like to wake up the morning after the Pesky with a clear head. Not as impressive as I’d hoped. I’ll be there next time, and if you feel you were slighted by my non-appearance, let me know and the first beer is on me next year.

It’s worth noting that in spite of opinions like that above (which pretty much represents the majority opinion), MNAC members still came through with some great pictures for me to use both here and on the tourney website. All night I’ve been receiving emails with really big pictures (which is exactly what I want), and I’m trying to keep the email server with enough space to handle the flow. If you get a message kicked back, please resend it.

So I’m in a pretty good mood tonight. On my way home from work this evening, I stopped at the local Trader Joe’s to stock up on the goodies that fuel this creative process we call SCMO. As I’m walking through the produce section, I notice a rather attractive brunette in sweatshirt and shorts fondling a bag of trail mix. She looks kinda familiar, so I look again – yup, it’s Rachel Wacholder … the same Rachel Wacholder whose exploits on the AVP Tour we’ve been talking about all summer and whose assets we’ve been admiring for quite a long time. Not wanting to seem like another creepy father-figure fan, and fearing I might drool if I didn’t do something, I congratulated her for her season and asked her when she was leaving for the year-end tournament this weekend in Hawaii ("thanks" and "Thursday", for those interested). OK, not exactly fireworks, but it was fun for the moment. And if you think I’m going to miss this chance to run an otherwise totally gratuitous picture of Rachel, you are soooo wrong …

Here’s something to chew on. A couple of weeks back, we talked about the rise of the chlorophyll chart as a way of predicting the location of dirty water and the surprise some anglers showed when marlin were actually found there. As we were returning to Los Angles on Sunday, we ran through several patches of particularly nasty looking water – water where the algae bloom was so thick, it looked like an oil spill. As we drove through it, the meter showed a lot of bait lurking under this supposedly dirty water. Chasing the bait was a pack of porpoise. Every time one surfaced, it punched a hole in the "dirty" layer exposing clean water underneath. So the portion of the water column that was impacted by the algae was really only a couple of inches thick, and clearly it didn’t impact the movement of baitfish lower in the column. It follows that wherever the baitfish are, the marlin will follow. Something to think about next time you chart your route …

I guess the real question at this point is, "Is the season over?" More correctly, is the season over, or is this just a little burp on the way to some amazing late season action. We can all remember some epic October days spent under the dome at San Clemente or out on the 499, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we want to keep that fat chick quiet for as long as we can. In the mean time, though, we might as well run the obvious poll …

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