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September 22, 2014

September 22

Our season for the ages continues, and I’m running out of superlatives and expletives to describe it. But describe it we must, so onward we go …

Another rarity appears

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There were several billfish tournaments this weekend, and we’ll get to those in a moment, but the real story of the weekend – as it has been all season – is the continued presence of exotics in our waters. At least three, and probably more, wahoo were landed this weekend by both private boaters and cattle boats. At this rate of capture, they hardly bear mentioning any more. John Noble, fishing in the ILTT on LIVELY ONE, released the first shortbill spearfish seen in our waters this season (that’s it at right). LIVELY ONE doubled down on the exotics Saturday, as they also released what is believed to be a 200-lb-class blue marlin – one of at least five solid blue marlin sighting from the weekend. It’s just amazing stuff, and it keeps getting better.

For the last weekend of the open tournament season, there were three events contested – the Pesky out of Avalon and the ILTT and Charity Heart tournaments out of San Diego. I haven’t heard the results out of the Heart event, but the ILTT was won by OSPREY with a pair of released striped marlin by Wayne Slahor and Jim Konzai. Slahor also took Top Angler honors for his effort. Second place was OLD BLUE followed by LIVELY ONE in third. It sounds like most of the action centered on the 9-Mile Bank.

The theme of this years Pesky, or properly the Los Pescadores Next To Avalon Invitational Not So Light Tackle Billfish Derby, was “Looking for Elvis”, and there was no lack of suspects – I haven’t seen so many bad Elvi since my last trip to Vegas. Fortunately, good as the costumes were, the fishing was even better.

A total of six marlin were released, all striped and all coming from the ridge off the East End of Catalina. Chris Halliday of TURTLE was High Angler with one release that won based on all the bonus points that can be scored. His team also took High Team honors with a pair of releases. Second place angler was Alyson Gillett of BOUNDER with Mike Tikunoff of SOUND INVESTMENT, each with a single marlin release.

Just a little bling

While they didn’t score in the tournament, KEA KAI nonetheless had an eventful weekend. During the Thursday pre-fish, Aaron Grose released a marlin on the 152 that they were able to fit with one of the Great Marlin Race satellite tags – that’s a shot of the tag to the left. On Friday, something big – and presumably blue – hit one of their trolling lines and spooled them in 15 seconds flat – quicker than they could get the boat turned around. I’m telling ya, it’s one of those seasons.

In other billfish news, the first swordfish of the season has finally been caught – but this ain’t your daddy’s swordfish. ANDREYA was trolling home from Avalon Sunday, marlin spread deployed “just in case”. As they passed through the Shipping Lanes, something hits a black and purple lure. Figuring it to be a tuna or small marlin, you can imagine their surprise to find it is … a 34.2-lb swordfish!. The pint-sized prize was in over its head and quickly dispatched, scoring the First Swordfish flag for angler Nate Schill.

Some have questioned the propriety of keeping such a petite swordfish, but I’d remind everyone that unlike marlin, swordfish are a commercially harvested species with no size limit. In the end, it’s the angler’s call, and I’m sure it’ll taste great on the grill. Personally, though, I’d have let it go and forced them to sew me a release flag … ;-)

Off the water this weekend, the AVP beach volleyball tour concluded its season with the AVP Championships on the sand at Huntington Beach. In keeping with a chanpionship mentality, both the mens and womens top seeds were victorious. Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb defeated Tri Bourne and John Hyden while Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross beat Heather Hughes and Whitney Pavlik to complete their perfect season.

Long-time readers of the FN or MarlinBlog know we’re huge fans of the AVP (particularly the womens’ bracket), but it’s disappointing to see the state of the sport now. Just six years ago, the tour consisted of 18 stops, played on stadium courts packed with fans and was riding a wave of new fans from the Olympics. Now, there are only seven events, played on courts surrounded by free bleachers that could hold but a few hundred fans and, as one media outlet pointed out, most of those seats were empty. A sad state of affairs that I hope finds a reversal, as it’s a great sport!

Running north

In the last update we included the results of the Channel Island Billfish Tournament; the release by Andrew Dal Pozzo on HYDROCARBON, shown at right, was part of that event. What makes this marlin important is that it was caught well north of the rest released this year – almost up to Santa Cruz Island. We’ve had years where the warm water ran so far north that the marlin passed the 17 north of Santa Barbara Island and were caught on the Footprint Bank and 153 in the lee of Santa Cruz, and this could certainly be another one.

Remember, while striped marlin enjoy warm water and are still widespread throughout the Catalina Bight, their preference is 68 deg F – warm enough for them, but cool enough for the baitfish they crave. The 68-deg isotherm has already moved far north of us, and there’s every reason to believe the marlin followed it – when was the last time you saw any baitfish out there? We shall see …

I have this terrible feeling that I’m leaving out something important, but my addled brain just does’t remember what it is. And, as the great Vin Scully says, “It’s tiiiime for Dodger baseball!”. If I remember what it is, we’ll cover it Thursday …

September 18, 2014

September 18

It’s the mobile edition of the SCMO Fishing News, coming to you live from the Commodore Lounge aboard the Catalina Jet, midchannel and headed to Avalon for the Pesky. But fear not – we still have all the good stuff for you …

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Please dig deep …

We start this update on a somber note. With a few days’ clarity, it’s clear that while the human toll is gratefully small, the physical damage done to the tip of the Baja peninsula by Hurricane Odile is massive. Those who have seen it compare the level of devastation to what was seen in the Gulf Coast after Katrina. It’s clear that the Cabo San Lucas we love will not be herself for a very long time.

It’s true that looting has become a problem across Los Cabos, but it’s also true that good people – locals and foreigners alike – are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work putting the place back together.

Chief among those taking on the fundraising side is Wayne Bisbee, of Bisbee’s Tournaments. Using his existing organization, he was able to quickly set up a donations website, and seeded it with the first $250,000. They’re taking a two-pronged approach to recovery, working to finance new housing while also helping to rebuild the fishing fleet that is so important to that region. I made a $250 donation on behalf of SCMO; I encourage each of you to visit the donation website and do what your heart demands …

Speaking of Bisbee’s, we’re only 4 weeks away from the start of the Bisbee’s events out of Cabo San Lucas. It seems nearly impossible that there could be that much improvement by then, but I wouldn’t bet against Bisbee or the resilient people of CSL …

Just keeps getting weirder

Our friends in the Channel Islands Billfish Tournament wrapped up their 5-day event yesterday. We’d heard that RUCKUS was having a good week and apparently we were right – they took first place in the event with a pair of marlin released on Wednesday. The remaining places went to VALKYRIE, BAD HABIT and HYDROCARBON with one release each. Frankly, with the water as crazy as it’s been, I was hoping these guys would find a raft of fish on the lee of Santa Cruz, but apparently not.

While on the topic of crazy, yes, that is a man on a jetski with an opah. Ben Hyun was trolling for tunas on his specially-modified fishing machine off Dana Point when the fish finder went off. He dropped down a mackerel, hoping to snag a big tuna. Instead, an hour later, up came a 147-lb opah. Just when you think it can’t get any stranger …

Back when I was but a little billfisher, I dreamed of one day owning a boat like my dad. I’d listen to the radio and here the exploits of all those boats with their powerful names … SEAWAY and CUCAMONGAN and ROOSTER and such. As someone interested in Marine Biology, I was particularly attracted to those that used the scientific names of the fish they pursued: “MAKAIRA”, the proud blue marlin; “XIPHIAS”, the strong swordfish; “THUNNUS”, the powerful tuna.

I thought to myself, well, we chase striped marlin … when I get a boat, I’ll use that! Running for my catalog of species I found the scientific name for striped marlin was … tetrapturis. Doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, does it?

Well, as Ron White would say, I told you that story so I could tell you this one. A few years back, I had the great pleasure of attending the public sessions of the Fourth International Billfish Symposium in Avalon, where I met many of the leading billfish scientists and conservationist. The keynote address at the symposium was a group of scientists presenting DNA findings from billfish and proposing a realignment of the species along genetic lines, a realignment that was subquently adopted.

I mention this because while recently cleaning up the pages in our Fish Facts section, I realized that a number of the scientific names, both genus and species, had changed over time. Among them was the striped marlin – no longer Tetrapturis but now Kajikia. Now there’s a mellifluous name! So while, unlike my brother, I’m no closer to boat ownership than I was in my dreaming days, at least I have a name … ;-)

It’s like the Beatles said …

I got no car, and it’s breakin’ my heart,
But I’ve got a driver, and that’s a start …

Something hot this way comes …

We move forward a bit, and as I’m writing this I’m swinging gently on Can 182 in Avalon Harbor onboard HOOKER. As I said at the outset, I’m here to fish in the 25th edition on the Pesky, and I’m pretty sure I’veve fished in all of them – although, I don’t pretend to remember them all. It’s supposed to blow pretty good to the northwest, putting SBI and the 172 off limits, and our events’ 40-mile range means running south is t s good option, either. No worries, however – TEMPTATION, WHISKEY SAUER and KEA KAI all scored Marlin releases around Catalina this afternoon. Interestingly, the KK Marlin was one of the two marked with sat tags in last weeks MABT. Not sure if it was CHARISMA’s or HOOKED’s, but someone should be very proud of their release talents.

I’ve included the latest SDT, but seriously – do you really need it? Just head offshore – you cam’t possibly go wrong …

2 Years Ago …

September 20, 2012

So I had this great idea to delay this edition of the Fishing News one day to get the final results out of the twin Classics. Yeah, that worked out well …

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Everyone who said that we couldn’t possibly have a marlin season worse than last year continues to be proven wrong, as another weekend of tournament fishing comes and goes with barely an appearance by the targeted species. This was the busiest weekend of the tournament season, with no less than 5 events running and the largest fleets of participants entered; surely if there were marlin to be found, these guys would find them, right?

Walking the ZG winner

The weekend actually started on Friday, with the kickoff of the BAC Masters and San Diego Marlin Club’s ILTT events. I’d love to regale you with the stories of angling prowess and fishing success that these two legendary events provided, but there are none. The only marlin hooked in the Masters, a tailer hooked on OSPREY 4 miles off Pyramid Head, was disqualified when they were unable to either get a tag in the fish or retrieve a portion of the leader. The ILTT faired even worse, pulling the collar – 0-0-0 – for the event. To say conditions are brutal is an understatement.

We know there are at least some marlin out there, because we have a picture of Jesse Henry releasing his Zane Grey winning marlin at left. But they’re few and far between. Kevin Bohannon found one of them on Saturday while fishing on ENCOUNTER in the Mission Bay Marlin Club’s Charity Heart Tourney, and it was the only one caught in the event.

While the club events played out, the money tourney boats were pre-fishing for the twin Classics – the Catalina and Avalon Billfish. Bright and early Monday, the fleet blasted out of a foggy Avalon Harbor looking for success and glory. The fleet was a skinny 21 boats – testimony to both the weakness in the economy and the fishing, I suppose. The grounds where a day earlier the Masters fleet worked off Pyramid Head was closed for naval operations during the week, making the tough fishing conditions even harder. CHASER has a brief encounter with a swordfish on Monday, but that was the lone action for the fleet. Tuesday was even worse, as pea-soup fog made difficult conditions even more daunting. With lines out scheduled for 4PM, eyes strained in the gyros looking for anything, and with less than 15 minutes to go, Lance Keller of CHIQUILIN hooked a baitfish – only to lose it during the initial run. A costly loss to be sure, as even an extra hour of time allotted to the fleet resulted in no more action. As I write this, the party is on at the Casino Ballroom. If you see Lance, offer him your hearty condolences and a stiff drink.

One other event of note was completed recently – the Channel Islands Billfish Tournament. Most of us with homeports in Los Angeles, Orange or San Diego counties complain about the long run to the fish, but it’s nothing compared to the guys fishing out of Channel Islands Harbor. Their event runs 5 day, and a good portion of that is spent in transit. I’d like to tell you the long runs were rewarded with success, but they achieved what most of the other tournaments have – nada. A tip of the SCMO hat to the entire CIBT fleet, though – perseverance runs deep!

The Classics may not have fish, but they sure have nice, um … trophies

With the fishing as tough as it has been this season, every shot at a marlin takes on additional meaning. Ours is a sport that demands a high level of personal ethics, and in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen several cases where crews have run afoul of the rules with what is one of the few marlin that are being caught. When you know the fish on your line could very well be a tournament winner, and things don’t go as planned, there can be incredible temptation to rewrite history to match expectation – but it is a temptation that must be refused.

One of the unique things about release billfishing is the demand it puts on the individual and crews to act in an ethical manner. Much like golf, where plauers are called upon to penalize themselves for activities that only they saw, the crew of a billfisher far over the horizon is expected to follow the IGFA and tournament rules and if a rule is violated, even inadvertanly, is expected to stand up and report the infraction as such. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

When I was a young billfisher, I found myself lying in the pulpit of HOOKER, reaching for the leader of a potential tournament winning marlin. Inexperienced and impatient, I reached for the line too soon, catching the main instead of the leader and causing it to break. Horrified, I was asked if I had at any point had the leader in my hand, which could have qualified the fish as a release. Much as I would have liked to say otherwise, I reported what I’d done and the fish was disqualified. Ironically, the next season I had the very same thing happen – with the same angler – and the same results. And I made the same heart-sickening admission, with the same disappointing results.

At about the same point in my career, I was sitting at the awards banquet of a tournament as the winners were announced and the prizes awarded. For a lot of reasons, there had been some confusion over just who had caught what, as the fleet had been widely scattered. The committee did their best to get accurate results, but as the winners were announced, one team was given credit for a catch that many of us had watched and knew should be disqualified. But the team in question kept their truth to themselves and collected a prize they – and us – knew they had not earned.

To me, the ethics of a release tournament dovetails perfectly with that of a release angler. When I’m offshore, far from the fleet, and I say I released a marlin, you have to trust my word that I really caught and released the fish. In a tournament, while video cameras and lie detectors may help separate fact from fiction, you still need to depend on the personal ethics of each fisherman. To go back to the golf analogy, there’s an old saying that someone who will cheat on you during a round of golf will in all likelihood cheat on you in business as well. I’d say that applies to releasing marlin as well – and if I can’t count on your ethics when you’re on the water, why would I do so on the beach?

Well, we’re down to our last tournament of the season, and it seems all too appropriate that this season, the Pesky is the last event of the fishing year. Our theme this year is the Wild West, and I’ve polished my boots and sharpened my spurs in anticipation of a couple of quality days on the water. Do I seriously think there’ll be fish? Probably not, but I’ll be disappointed if the fleet goes skunked. We’ll find out tomorrow night at the kickoff if there’ll be any “alternate species” shenanigans (remember last year and “Southern California Sanddab Online”?), but this much is guaranteed – we’ll have more fun than any of the other events, fish or not.

Our next report will come Thursday evening from the placid waters of Avalon Harbor – until then, think of marlin!

September 15, 2014

September 15

The weather is hot and the fishing is hotter, and we’ll have all of that in this update of the Fishing News. But first, a little damage control …

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We’re into the peak of the tournament season, and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Before we begin, however, there’s one item I need to take care of.

In our last update, I spoke at length about the proper handling of billfish. To illustrate my point, I used a picture with modifications and comments that, in retrospect, were unnecessarily hurtful and opinionated. I took a lot of heat for it this weekend, mostly justified, and want now to publicly apologize.

What the anglers did was wrong. Pulling a marlin into the cockpit for a pre-release photo is unjustified whether it is here or Cabo or wherever. I stand by that belief, and I have billfish science on my side. It is a hot button item for me, one that I have written about repeatedly in the past. Because this incident happened in our waters, and was compounded by the widespread distribution of the photo, it was an appropriate teachable moment for me to use to help educate the billfish anglers who frequent the site.

But that’s where I should have stopped. It was reasonable for me to say, “this is wrong, this is why, this is what you should do”, but to go beyond that wrong on my part. I should have simply taken the photo and placed a black stripe across the faces. The picture would have stood for itself with no need for any additional commentary on my part, either via the image selected to blur the faces or the statements that I made to accompany them. That additional commentary not only caused a lot of unnecessary drama but undercut the very message I was attempting to make regarding the proper treatment of billfish.

I am neither a PETA supporter nor a tree hugger, but for fifteen years I have worked to educate the thousands of anglers who visit the site on the proper treatment of the resource. Sometimes, I let my enthusiasm for the mission overwhelm my sense of common decency and this was one such case. For that, I sincerely apologize, not only to the three individuals pictured but to anyone – and there were many – who thought I went too far.

With that, let’s move on, and hopefully do a better job in the future.

Dangerous visitor

While we enjoyed a weekend of tournament fishing, our neighbors to the south had a very rough Sunday. Hurricane Odile, a Category 3 storm came ashore right on top of Cabo San Lucas last night. We’re still getting details on the damage, but while it is substantial it doesn’t look unrecoverable. I’ve not heard any reports of deaths or significant injuries yet, but they are inevitable Keep the good people of Baja California Sur in your prayers.

Looking at the 5 Day track, Odile should be a tropical depression somewhere over the northern part of the Sea of Cortez by Friday, when the next round of tournaments kick off. That’s good news, in that we won’t get another repeat of Hurricane Marie and her waves, but we should be seeing an impact to the weather nonetheless. Something to keep an eye on if you’re going to be offshore.

There were two billfish tournaments this weekend, organized by a pair of South Coast fishing clubs. While the Balboa Angling Club’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament may have big numbers and big history, it was the Oceanside Anglers Club’s Billfish Tournament where the big news was made. Angler Brent Thalisinos, fishing on REEL NICE N EASY off the East End of Catalina Island, released an estimated 400-lb blue marlin yesterday morning. Yes, blue marlin. We’d been hearing reports that blues were being seen by spotter planes, and with whale sharks, manta rays and even wahoo seen in the SoCal waters, this isn’t a complete shock. What it is, however, is an amazing story – and the tournament winning fish.

See you in six months …

In the MABT, the 49-boat fleet was spread far and wide, from the 172 in the north to the 371 in the south and out to the 43 in the west. Weather conditions were difficult, particularly for the northern fleet, and the marlin fishing was surprisingly pedestrian. The MABT is a light tackle tournament, and in normal year sight fishermen will be throwing mackerel on 12-lb tackle or lighter, hoping to pull in a winning baitfish. But there’s been scant few sight marlin caught this year, leaving the door open for the lure guys to have a shot in the MABT.

In the end, it was one of those sight fishermen, Jock Albright on KEA KAI, who won the event with a baitfish released on 12-kb tackle up at the Osborn Bank. Second place went to Bill Buchanan on POCO LOCO for his 16-lb release, and in third was Rod Halperin of HOOKED with his 20-lb jigfish. Top team for the event was Los Pescadores #1.

The HOOKED release, which is shown at right, is particularly important because it, along with a second marlin released by Brian Fox on CHARISMA, were tagged with popup satellite tags, the first two SoCal fish to take part in the IGFA’s Great Marlin Race. We should hear in about six months where these two fish have been when the tags surface. Stay tuned …

I have a lot more to say, like talking about the Pesky being sold out or the whale shark spotted in SoCal waters, but I just got word that Dave Brackmann is spearheading a relief effort for those affected by Hurricane Odile, and I’ve volunteered to research online crowd funding options. Frankly, that’s a hell of a lot important than this, so I’m signing off now. When we have the plan in place, you can bet that you’ll hear about it.

September 11, 2014

September 11

It’s a big tournament week and there’s little to report, so you know what that means – a report heavy on editorials and jokes. Since you’ve all heard most of my jokes, prepare for the editorials. If you like that sort of thing, stick around; if not, suck it up – Monday will be here soon enough …

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I wondered how the fleet would react with the money tournaments a thing of the past – would they still go into stealth mode even though there were only club tournaments to be entered. Well, we got our answer this week, as you’d think the whole bunch had been abducted by aliens. My weekly Info Ping usually gets a dozen or so replies, more if the fishing is hot. This week? Zero … zip … nada.

Chilly SBI

So what exactly do we know? Well, we know the marlin fishing was hot west of Catalina as late as Sunday, and with Norbert swinging east of us through the Valley of the Sun, he had no real effect on the conditions. HOOKER released one marlin this morning on the Osborn Bank, and AGITATOR got one Tuesday and and a pair Wednesday, so there are clearly still fish there. I will say this, however – the water appears to have cooled significantly to the north (if you can call 72.5 cool) while remaining much warmer on the inside. See that lonely dot amongst all the blue? That’s Santa Barbara Island. Now, its still sitting in 71-degree water, plenty warm for marlin, and we know there are still at least some fish there. But with all that warmth inshore, don’t be shocked if the fleet ends up working inner banks – 267, 209, 181, 182

The edible pelagics seem to go on forever, and even all the fishing pressure being brought to bear can’t seem to dent the numbers. Yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and dorado remain the catch of the day. Interestingly, I’ve heard of several catches of hammerhead shark at some of the banks outside of San Diego – one more warm water species making an appearance.

When I first started this website, I was hard core about dead marlin. I was willing to fight for every fish, and if you hung one, you were an asshole – period. With age, a little wisdom and the opportunity to speak to fellow conservationists around the world, my stance has softened considerably. I still don’t like dead marlin, will never celebrate them here, and will never kill one myself, but I recognize that it is the angler’s right to disposition their fish, and a single marlin taken for the table or to win a big tournament isn’t the end of the world.

One area where I haven’t softened is in the proper treatment of the fish by the angler. If you choose to interfere with a marlin’s life by hooking it, and you do not intend to kill it, you have a obligation to return that fish after the battle in as close as possible condition to how you found it. If you are unwilling to do that, you do not have the right to catch the fish; moreover, you and I are going to have a problem.

Once upon a time, we killed marlin without much thought, stacking them on deck like cordwood; eventually, conservation took hold and we started to release some of them. In those early days, there were release practices developed that we later recognized as flawed and discontinued. Unfortunately, I’m starting to see a rise in some of those old, inappropriate behaviors, and believe we need to stop them now before they get a foothold.

Wrong way …

In the picture at left, we see three anglers celebrating their marlin catch. One of them has caught a nice marlin and they’ve pulled it out of the water for a picture to celebrate the moment. Their goal is to release the fish after their moment of glory, and I’m sure their intentions are sincere – but what they’ve most likely done is killed it. This idea of pulling a billfish out of the water for a picture is a behavior that I’m seeing more often, often in places like the media that would lead you to believe that it is acceptable – and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As the ultimate alpha species on our planet, we’ve done a very effective job of emptying the seas of fish. I have every confidence that we won’t stop until the last fish is dead, and that’s a shame. But at least sport fishermen realized at some point that killing everything you catch makes no sense – and thus was born the concept of “Catch and Release”.

Now, C & R is a great idea – you get all the angling challenge you’d normally get, and if you take the time to properly revive and release your fish, the amount of skill required by the angler and crew is equal to – possibly even greater than – that required to gaff and land the fish. But there’s a fundamental problem with C & R that the angling community continues to wrestle with – anglers have egos, and egos demand satisfaction.

Most of us who catch big fish don’t pay to have them stuffed, so the only real souvenir we have of the experience are the pictures taken of the fish. If you kill the fish, that’s pretty easy to do – you hang the dead fish on a hook, surround it with the victorious crew, and voilà – instant souvenir. That same challenge becomes more complicated, however, if you choose to release.

A couple of years ago, a new spin on C & R appeared – C-P-R … Catch – Photograph – Release. Much like the backwoods edict “leave only footprints”, the idea was that you would catch your fish, get your photographs, and then carefully release them. Conceptually, that works out well if you’re catching brook trout, but the bigger the fish, the tougher it becomes to get your pictures without doing damage to the fish.

My hunch is that this “cockpit drag” behavior started in Mexico and migrated north. For years, American anglers have enjoyed the marlin-rich waters of Cabo San Lucas; beginners can get the experience of the catch, and experienced anglers can see what it is like to catch great numbers of fish in a day. As conservation grew north of the border, though, more and more anglers grew concerned with the wanton killing of billfish – often just for the free advertising that a stack of dead marlin on the dock might bring – and urged their local crews to release. But the captains still needed that advertising boost, and C-P-R seemed to be perfect – just drag the fish in the boat, snap a couple of shots of glowing fish and angler, and toss it back overboard!

I could quote dozens of scientific papers (and will, if you email me) that describe the catastrophic damage done to a billfish when you lift it out of the water. It should be obvious to anyone who studies the morphology of a billfish, but the elongated height of the bodies means they don’t have the same kind of protection a tuna or shark has for their internal organs – when you hold a billfish out of the water, you are literally crushing their organs with their own body weight. And I’m sure I don’t have to explain to any rational angler the kind of damage done when you drag a 150-lb fish up and over the gunnel.

… and the right way

Somehow, the same behavior that anglers recognized as flawed and worked with their Mexican capitans to eliminate has migrated north. It’s not just the occasional picture like this one – leading angling magazines are including shots like this claiming that the fish was later “released unharmed”. But that’s simply not the case, and this kind of behavior cannot be allowed to be considered acceptable by anyone.

In 2003, I got to release a marlin for the first time, and it was a spectacular experience. The picture of that moment, along with many others, are over in the MarlinNut Galleries. These Fishing News updates are peppered with shots of happy anglers and their releases. Clearly, pictures can be taken. Are they as professional as those of a fish in the cockpit? Usually not – they’re action shots, taken in the heat of the moment. But they insure that the moments you capture aren’t the final moments for the marlin you worked so hard to defeat. They represent the respect you have for your opponent, and your commitment to the resource.

Let me be clear on one thing – I have more respect for an angler who sinks a gaff in a marlin to put it on the table than I do for someone who drags it across the gunnel and crushes its guts for a glamour shot, only to “release” it as the mud dart it will inevitably become.

If you think that it is appropriate to drag a marlin into the cockpit for a picture, knowing the lethal damage it will do, you really need to ask if this is the right place for you. Your ego is clearly more important to you than the safety of the fish, and you need to move on to another sport

As an aside, I’m told it’s now illegal to pull a billfish out of the water for pics and such – $2000 fine!

Late marlin report – CHRISTINA LYNN released a pair today … on the 371. OK, maybe a little bit out of range …

Each year around this time I try to include some thoughts about the 9-11 attacks, particularly when the report comes out on September 11th, as it does today. I’ve written of anger and sorrow, of loss and even triumph. Today, however, I’m going to write about renewal.

I’ve been fortunate enough in the last two years to be able to visit both the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA and Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Very different in style but linked by emotion, I highly recommend you see them if you can. For me, the National September 11 Memorial in New York was particularly powerful. As I wrote about in the MarlinBlog long ago, I collected pictures, videos and stories of the attack, thinking somehow if I could just catalog them it would all make sense. It never did, of course, but it gave me a strong sense of the neighborhood around the World Trade Center, even though I’d never been there. So to actually walk onto the site, and to see the iconic buildings that surround it – notably the World Financial Center and it’s Winter Garden Atrium – brought a strange sense of deja vu.

Gone, never forgotten …

But visiting the memorial does more than force you to look back, although the twin voids of “Reflecting Absence” spectacularly memorialize the loss. There is a real sense of growth, of moving forward present there. You see it in the new Fire Station 10 across the street from the site and in the renovated buildings that survived the disaster and today thrive. And of course, you see it in the new World Trade Center towers, notably the 1776-ft tall “Freedom Tower” which rises defiantly only a few feet away from the northern pool.

And so, we move on. It’s been thirteen years since that dark day – long enough for widows to remarry and children to grow and parents to die. A friend who is a high school teacher remarked that his class of freshmen were only a year old when the towers fell. They don’t know a world before the so-called “War on Terror”.

I’d like to tell you that we’re further along than we are; that we understood why the attacks had happened and had made the changes to insure that they will never be repeated. I’d like to tell you that your children are safer today than in 2001.

But I can’t.

It’s clear that our government does not understand the Middle East, but will not let that stop them from trying to determine the direction of that part of the world. Even now, as we continue to celebrate the seeming downfall of Al-Qaida, we watch a new threat rise in the form of ISIS and their terror beheadings. Someone will one day say enough is enough and pull us out of the region, allowing it to ferment into whatever rotting soup it chooses. But it won’t be this President, and I doubt it will be the next.

OK, 3700 words later and I’m done. The MABT starts tomorrow; we should have results on Monday. We’ll also take one more look ahead at the Pesky and how it will survive the continuing changes in Avalon (like the Marlin Club losing it’s bathrooms to urban renewal … seriously). Until then, tight lines …

6 Years Ago …

September 11, 2008

Can you hear the silence?

Nothing quite as quiet as midweek during tourney season. The club guys are on the beach, shaking their piggy banks and hoping enough change falls out to fish another weekend. The big guns are pre-fishing the next event, and the last thing they’re gonna do is blow radio silence to tell you what they see – usually. More on that in a minute.

We’ve got another long tourney weekend coming up, with two of the big club events followed by a big money showdown. Friday and Saturday, we’ll see the Balboa Angling Club’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament, based out of Newport, and the San Diego Marlin Club’s Gene Grimes Memorial Invitational Light Tackle Tournament going head to head – and, most likely, fishing some of the same water. These two tend to bring out the best of the best of the private boater fleet, and with the number of marlin we’ve seen in our waters this season, should really rack up some big numbers.

By the time the club fishermen are back on the beach and digesting their tourney banquet feasts, the big boys will have rolled into Avalon for the next chapter in California Billfish Series, the Zane Grey Invitational. Limited to 40 boats, it’s the only the cream and the fishing should reflect that. Like the recently completed Avalon Billfish Classic, fishing days for the ZG will be Monday and Tuesday. After that, we get a couple of days before starting it all over on Friday with the Pesky … but I’m getting ahead of myself.

During the ABC, the bite was on the backside of Catalina, as it’s been for the last week or so. One statement made last weekend was that the fish had started near the west end of Catalina and were sliding SE at about 5 miles a day. I think that was true until they got around the Farnsworth Bank, but it seems to me that they’ve stalled somewhat and were stacking up between Catalina Canyon and Church Rock. The grid numbers given in the event don’t necessarily paint a real picture of the action, and I’ve heard several people who were working in the same fleet say that by the time it was over most of the action was closer to Church Rock than the actual grids being reported. Blame Pete Grey and his lack of a reporter’s diligence for that one, I guess. The bottom line is that if I was heading out this weekend, that’s probably where I’d start.

You call that SST data??

We all search for information that will help up find the fish, but there’s information and then there’s information. Steve Lassley paid a visit to the Marlin Club earlier today, and provided some amazing insight. He said that he currently knows of a half-dozen large areas of marlin – and if the skies would only clear enough to get a decent SST reading, he’d probably find a lot more. He also mentioned that BAD COMPANY had run out to the Tanner Bank yesterday and had released four marlin – including a real tanker.

Now, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that Tanner run was precipitated by the report from the weekend of the party boat PACIFIC STAR, which anchored up on the high spot and had to beat away the marlin. What it should hammer home to all of us is this: when you have the information, can interpret it correctly, and have the resources and desire to make it happen, success is the inevitable result.

Information is a big part of what we do here at SCMO. I like to say that we provide three things for our visitors – news, education and entertainment – but at this time of year, news dominates. Unlike many parts of the world, we have a very limited billfish season – seldom more than three months – and knowing where to go to increase the chances of success is huge. That’s why I push so hard to get people to take advantage of the tools we offer to share information.

But sharing information is a real issue for some people. I am often approached by people whose basic thought is, "Share information? Are you out of your frakking mind?" While I don’t agree with their philosophy, I understand that it is what they believe. So let me talk a little about information, and why you should share it with us.

When you return from your offshore trip, successful or not, there are things that you know that would help the next guy heading out. For example, I was out a couple of weeks back and released a marlin on the back side of Catalina. I know exactly where I released it: 33° 23.08′ N, 118° 35.87′ W. You can plug it straight into your GPS and drive to very spot. But it won’t do you a damned bit of good, because it’s old data, and fish have fins. However, if I as the guy gathering information for this site know that a marlin was released yesterday at 23/35, that’s important because it helps me develop a larger picture of the scene. I know that fish isn’t sitting there waiting for me, but maybe that piece of data – along with many others – will help me predict where the marlin will go next. And that’s the whole idea – to help you have your best shot at success if you were going out tomorrow.

Let’s go back for a minute to your just-completed trip. Maybe you’re that guy who doesn’t want to share his information. To me, you probably fall into one of two categories. You may be that guy who just doesn’t want anyone else to succeed – the poker player who isn’t satisfied winning unless he also sees the other guys at the table lose. If you’re that guy, then there’s probably nothing I can do to reach you and, frankly, I feel sorry for you.

But let’s say your the other guy. You’re not philosophically opposed to sharing, but it doesn’t come natural. You’re OK with people fishing in the general area where you were, but maybe you don’t want them to know your exact spot. Or perhaps you’re OK with the information being out there, but you just don’t want to be identified the source.

No problem. Take a look again at the fish I released. Plot those numbers, and you’ll see they’re right on top of Catalina Canyon offshore from Little Harbor at the 300-fathom curve. I could write that "Stan Ecklund Jr. released a marlin yesterday over Catalina Canyon at 23/35. It was a jig fish that hit a Pakula Lumo Medium Sprocket on the stinger line." Or, I could say "Stan Ecklund Jr. released a jigfish off Cat Harbor." Or, I could say "We have a report that one was released yesterday on the backside of Catalina." How it’s reported is a reflection of the wishes of the reportee. All the time I get snippets of information sent to me with a request to keep some portion out of the report. "This last part is just for you – could you keep it off the site?" – I totally respect that, and will always follow those wishes.

Bottom line? Unless you’re Mr "I Only Win When You Lose", there’s no reason to not file that Trip Report, or submit that photo, or tell us about your released fish. And frankly, if you’re that other guy, you’re just here leaching off the generosity of others, and can leave now. Go on – git! Shoo!

Speaking of the Billfish Release Board, have you seen it lately? Nearly 150 releases – and that doesn’t even count the 28 from Day 2 of the ABC! Leave it to me to roll it out for the season of the decade … :-) On the positive side, we’ve added a custom Release Submission Form to facilitate sending in those releases. Anything we can do to take away your excuses …

They can fill the hole in the ground, but not the one in our hearts.

I know it’s been a long time, and we Americans have the collective attention span of a gnat, but I hope you took a moment to reflect on the meaning of the day. So much has happened in the last seven years, and at the same time so little progress have been made – at Ground Zero and elsewhere in the "Fight On Terror". All we as individuals can do is be supportive of those who put their lives on the line on our behalf – whether in the armed forces or as first responders stateside. May we never face another day like 9/11, and may we never forget the value of the freedoms those who took the planes sought to take from us all.

Based on the feedback we got, we did a pretty good job with our ABC coverage, so we’re going to try it again this weekend, starting with the events tomorrow. Like last time, though, it has to be a collaborative effort if we’re going to succeed – success, of course, being defined as doing a better job than that tackle store site. If you’re near a radio with Ch 65 going, you can email what you hear to stan@marlinnut.com – and don’t be afraid to overwhelm me. On Tuesday, I was getting updates about every 3 minutes from the different sources. If you’re on a boat in the fleet and have an email-equipped phone, you can do the same, or you can text updates to the Fishing News Submission Line at 13106830034. The method is up to you – what’s important is getting the information. We’ll provide periodic updates over in the Marlin Club, and the real-time (or nearly so) info will go out via the Twitter and be viewable at the MarlinTweet page. It should be fun …

September 8, 2014

September 8

The remnants of Hurricane Norbert are making the southland soggy (although not nearly as wet as Phoenix), but it can’t dampen spirits after another great weekend of local offshore fishing. Stick around and I’ll tell you all about it in this brand-new edition of the SCMO Fishing News …

(cue theme music)

POR VIDA release

If you were on the water this weekend, chances are good you saw some action as the bite was on for pretty much all of the pelagic species. The marlin bite returned to the waters between the west end of Catalina and Santa Barbara Island, with around 20 marlin released in the region. For the tuna fishermen, yellowfin were found in good numbers in several places, while the bluefin continued to be line-scarce and small yellowtail were crowding most kelp paddies.

Friday and Saturday saw a pair of events run out of Avalon, one by the Catalina Island Yacht Club and the other by the King Harbor Marlin Club. Most members of both tourney fleets were up on either the 172 or Osborn Bank, although fish came from as far as the 277 and 43 as well. In the CIYC event, a total of seven marlin were released, 4 by the prolific crew on PARADISE DOT CALM. Their reported position was off the west end, but I have it on good authority (my eyeballs) that they got their three marlin Friday and one Saturday closer to the 172. Among the other boats releasing marlin in the event were BAD DOG II, SASSY CISSY and DIALED IN.

In the KHMC tourney, eight marlin were released, three by RUCKUS (although one was disqualified for too heavy tackle) to give them High Boat honors. The first place angler was Kirk Provin, who got the first release of the tournament on his dad Keith’s POR VIDA. Also releasing marlin in the KHMC event were xJEWEL LURE with two releases and DON PATROL and END OF THE LINE with one released marlin each. That’s Drew Haynes at right spending some quality time with his soon-to-be-released xJEWEL LURE marlin.

Best strategic move of the weekend goes to the crew of xJEWEL LURE, who opted to spend the night Friday at SBI rather than run back to Catalina. Not only did they save fuel, but they were rewarded with one marlin Friday night on the way to the anchorage and a second Saturday morning on the way back out … :-)

Walkin’ the dog …

Outside of the tournament action, PESCADOR had a pair of releases on Thursday – a sleeper caught near the toe of the Boot Bank and another released near the Osborn Bank. BLUE CHIP had one release Saturday off the west end, a jig fish that hit a purple and black lure (can you say “Eye Candy”). Well to the south, SNOOPER had a pair of releases Saturday, one each out of a triple then quad bite. I’m not sure exactly where they were, but I believe it could have been the 182 or 9-Mile Bank.

As I’m writing this update, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is doing what he always does – mow down the opposition. I just don’t understand how anyone can be that good at anything. Here you have a guy who last year won his second Cy Young Award (in a landslide), and all he’s done this year is top it. He’s going to lead the league in ERA for the 4th consecutive year, and probably lead all MLB in wins – despite missing 6 weeks with a back strain after the Australia trip. He’s pretty much a lock to be a unanimous repeat for Cy Young, and there’s serious talk of MVP as well. I’d feel bad for Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, a favorite player of mine, but Kershaw would get my vote. We are watching a Hall of Fame player in the prime of his career, and we should be grateful …

Interestingly enough, Kershaw’s given up 3 earned runs through 8 innings thus far, meaning his 1.70 ERA will actually go up for a change. But when you read how two of those three runs scored, you’ll understand how little help he’s really getting:

R Rivera flied out to center, Y Solarte to third, Y Solarte scored, R Liriano to second on throwing error by center fielder Y Puig. R Liriano to third on throwing error by catcher A Ellis. R Liriano scored on throwing error by shortstop H Ramirez.

23-lbs of yummy!

For those of you keeping score, that would be three errors on one play. He might be the best pitcher on the planet, but they’re not even the best team in SoCal …

We continue to see some of the best fishing for edible pelagics ever in our waters. How amazing is it? One boat left Marina Del Rey at 6:30 AM, heading for the 172, but never made it. They found a paddy 10 miles short, loaded up on 30-lb class yellowfin tuna, and were back in port by 2PM. Crazy.

Most of the marlin boats off of Catalina snagged a couple of YFT on the troll (even your smiling host, it would appear), but the best fishing was to the south. Most of the spots out of San Diego, including the 181, 182 and 209 continue to produce. Further out, the 43 was a solid choice for tuna, but there were also marlin released there as well. The 277 was a parking lot as boats set up their chum lines and whacked the tuna until they were limited out. It’s mostly yellowfin, with a few skipjack and bluefin mixed in. All along the backside of Catalina you could find puddling tuna, little guys around 5-lbs. They’re so cute at that age …

Interesting note of the week – a half-day party boat out of Ensenada snagged an albacore along with all the other varieties. An albacore run is just too much to ask for … or is it?

Quick update: The Dodger game just ended, and the scorer reversed field on the two runs scored in the debacle mentioned above. Kershaw’s corrected line: 8 innings, 1 earned run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 8 strike outs. His new ERA after 24 starts (18 of them wins): 1.67. Un-freaking-believable …

The next tournament on the calendar is the BAC’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament, and we’ll talk more about that on Thursday. Also Thursday is the 13th anniversary of the 9-11 Attacks, and we’ll have more to say about that as well. More than a few people are worried that the baddies have destructive plans set for Thursday, plans that we are ill-prepared to deal with. I’m among them … hopefully, circumstances won’t preempt talk of fishing …

September 2, 2014

September 2

It’s Tuesday evening as I write the beginning of what will become a special double edition of the Fishing News. I already lost one day to the recently completed holiday weekend, and this coming Friday I’ll be fishing the first of two tournaments, meaning I’m on the boat tomorrow morning at 6AM. Since I don’t know for sure just what sort of access I’ll have later in the week, I’m staging things now for one big bonus sized Fishing News.

No JOKERs they – that’s a wahoo!

There was a whole lotta fishing action this weekend, but I have no choice but to cover two catches of note …

You have to sympathize with Eric Kim, because we’ve all been there. He’s out with his friends on JOKER Saturday, and the fishing is hot – yellowfin tuna are hitting the deck. It’s smiles all around – all but Eric, who was 0-for-3 on the big tuna. As they moved from one spot to another, inside and below the 267, they dragged lures – one being a Rapala X-Rap. When the X-Rap went off his friends, figuring it to be a dorado, nodded to Eric, “Take it, dude”.

That’s when a trip Eric would rather not remember became one he’ll never forget. It wasn’t a dorado, and it wasn’t a tuna. It was a wahoo! At the Balboa Angling Club scales, Eric’s prize weighed in at 50.1-lbs. It’s believed to be the first one ever weighed at the BAC, and one of very few ever caught in Southern California waters. Enjoy the moment, JOKER crew – you’ve done something the rest of us likely never will.

A couple of lessons come to mind from this fish. First, assume nothing this year. Clearly, anything that can be caught will be caught in our crazy fall fishery – I’m waiting for the spearfish.

The second lesson is a cautionary tale about the role of social media. Other sites that shall remain nameless blew up Saturday night with the news of this catch, and were completely wrong. You’d have thought from their “reports” that the thing was caught by an ISIS operative. So the lesson is the value of a moderated, digested fishing report in a world full of lightning quick scattershot posts. Good thing you have one right here …

I’ve moaned more than I probably should about not getting in any water time this season. Work, travel and life itself have conspired to keep me on the beach, so when Hurricane Marie caused the cancellation of my first trip last week, I was more than a little irritated. Consolation came in the form of an invite to join my brother in a one-day run on his 24-ft Skipjack SEAHAWK.

Hello, old friend …

We headed for the 152, figuring that while we’d heard of no action there, it was central enough that it would be a good staging point once the radio reports came in. We’d gotten a late start, and by sunrise hadn’t yet reached the high spot. I’m taking full credit for the decision to stop short and drop in the lures, because it was not a half hour later that my outrigger line went off. Before I could establish the fight it was off, but just as quick the other rigger popped. Rick grabbed the rod, figuring like JOKER that was a dorado, but his voice raised two octaves when the marlin made its first jump.

Rick and I are both experienced marlin anglers and crewmen, but we were on a boat that had never even hooked a billfish, and we’d not yet had a chance to discuss roles or where things were. Fortunately, SEAHAWK is a well equipped little fighter, and everything we needed was in reach. Half an hour later, and after a momentary scare with the outdrive, I had the leader in one hand and the bill in the other. I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll repeat it – I like to catch marlin, but I love the experience of releasing them even more. I’m embarrassed to say that the only thing we really messed up in the whole process ws the pictures – we got several of me releasing it, but none of Rick! But, my brother has the skunk off his boat and I got to walk a marlin. All said, a pretty special Sunday.

At this point it’s still early, but I know that among those releasing marlin this weekend were Mike Hansen on KAWAKAWA at the 172, Bruce Collins on MAKAIRA at the 43, and Patrick Tooley on BILLFISH at the 277. I’m aware of release off the Can Dump on Saturday and another off the Palisades, but I don’t have additional details on those yet. More as it comes …

Kate Upton is famous for a lot of things. She’s famous for being “discovered” at a dancing at a sporting event. She’s famous for appearing on multiple covers of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. And now she’s famous for her recently-leaked ability to hand-bra both of her impressive assets while simultaneously flipping a double bird. Kate is one of a large number of celebrities whose iCloud accounts were hacked … allegedly … and the pictures therein spread all over the Internet.

So here’s the one thing I don’t understand … well, two things. The first is why on earth she would be dating Justin Verlander, but I don’t expect there’s a reasonable answer to that. The real thing is why, in such a transparent, insecure world, you would ever allow pictures like that to be taken – you just know that somehow, some way they’ll become public. Of course, having made the stupid decision to take the pictures, please don’t compound it by denying they’re you or making snarky comments, the way Mary Elizabeth Winstead did, only to have it thrown back in her face …

Winstead, via Twitter:”To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.”

Twitter respondant: “”Stop posing nude on camera, dummy. Your husband not know what you look like nude? #LessonLearned”

Mother Nature’s wrath

Learned? I doubt it. But schooled indeed …

We talked earlier about Hurricane Marie and her trail of destruction; Sunday afternoon, I got a chance to see it up close and personal. Returning to Huntington Harbour, we could see that the last 50 or so feet of the southern break wall had been blown out by the waves, and the marker at the end was at a precarious angle. Remember, this is a storm that never came within 500 miles of land. You really don’t want to mess with Mother Nature …

The edible pelagics were once again the story this weekend, and there were far more boats pursuing them than marlin. The bite was so widespread and so wide open that Rick and I were legitimately disappointed that we were unable to back up his marlin with a freezer full of tuna. While there was a lot reported off the East End and down the ridge, most of the action was much further south. Out at the 43, the yellowfin tuna were plentiful and limits were easily had, while closer to the beach there was a nice bite 10 miles off of Oceanside. But truthfully, once again any high spot or kelp was likely holding fish.

I’ll be fishing this weekend in the King Harbor Marlin Club’s annual Marlin Tournament, one of a number of club events that happen in September. Most of the events are run by clubs located in the local marlin area; KHMC’s Redondo Beach home port puts it at the northern edge of the bunch. But there’s one event that sees the plight of the KHMC and think, “How cute” …

The Channel Islands Billfish Tournament will be held for the 44th time from September 13 through 17. The long length of the event is a nod to the distance the combatants must go just to get to the marlin ground, running from Channel Islands Harbor south. Once a strictly swordfish event, the great Ted Naftzger landed a 443-lber in the 1875 edition. Today, marlin is the targeted species, but the competition is no less stiff, as several of the competitors are among the best marlin boats in SoCal. If you’re based out of Channel Islands, or are willing to make the run up for the start, this is the event for you. You can email for more information, or visit the tournament website.

That’s all I’m going to add to this report for now, but assuming I have connectivity Wednesday or Thursday night, I’ll come back and add more. In the meantime, I’ll be posting to the Facebook page and Trip Reporter as applicable, so follow along!

5 Years Ago …

SEptember 3, 2009

It’s the last holiday weekend of the summer, and the best week of the year to catch a SoCal marlin.  So what are you waiting for?  Oh, yeah – you’re waiting for the Fishing News!

(cue theme music)

Running for daylight!

It’s the middle of the week, and the middle of the SoCal tourney calendar, so there’s not a lot of information to pass along.  Most boats are still working the band inside of San Clemente Island between the 289 and the Mackerel Bank.  Several marlin were caught there yesterday and today, with BRAVADO and CRISTINA LYNN among those scoring.  If you haven’t made it out to SCI yet, you can do so vicariously through the shot at right, which one of the pair of marlin released by KNOCK DOWN over the weekend.  The other marlin action has been very much a random, hit-and-miss thing, with the most intriguing report we received was of a marlin caught this morning only 6 miles out of Newport Harbor by a boat headed for the 43 on a tuna trip.

Speaking of tuna, there’s still an amazing tuna run going off on the southern banks.  How epic is it?  Anglers have so much variety that they’re able to target their favorite species, and are getting frustrated when others jump on their hook (“Not another goddamn yellowfin tuna … I want a yellowtail!”).  The north end of the 1010 Trench is a veritable smorgasbord, with albacore, yellowtail and both yellowfin and bluefin tuna being caught.  The 213 sounds like the best place for nice albacore, and the 302, 371 and 425 the best bets for yellowfin tuna.  One problem consistent across  most of the hot spots have been schools of skipjack that jump your baits and force you to relocate.  Most large kelps are holding dorado and yellowtail, and those who’ve drifted down to the 43 from the San Clemente fleet report that’s the case at the 43 as well.  This sounds like a great weekend to fill the freezer for the winter!

I’m not aware of any tournaments running this weekend, so it’s a good last chance to spend some quality time with the family – on or off the water – before we hit the heart of the tourney season.  There will be two or three a week through the end of the month, so this might be your last chance to take a deep breath.  If you’re still looking for an event to fish, may I humbly make a couple of recommendations – the King Harbor Marlin Club Marlin Tournament on the 11th and 12th, and the Pesky on 18th and 19th.  I’ll be fishing both, and can vouch for each being a great event and a fun time.  Tell ‘em I sent you – it won’t get you anything, but maybe the Tourney Chair will pay my tab at the Marlin Club …

Peter’s pride …

We’ve been on something of a themed photo kick here at SCMO lately. Over in the MarlinBlog, our recent eye candy posts have all been water-related, and in the Fishing News we’ve been looking for shots of pretty girls and billfish. I have another example here, with a picture of Katherine Bristow and her blue marlin, tagged and ready for release. If Katherine seems familiar to you, it might be the namesake boat she’s fishing on, KATHERINE B, or her father, Peter Bristow. Peter and both Katherine’s B are enjoying another fine season in the waters around Madeira – if you haven’t been following the story over in the MarlinNut Forums, then you’ve really been missing out!

The mapping process associated with the Marine Life Protection Agency is slowly grinding to its conclusion, and along the way throwing the recreational fisherman under the bus.  I wrote about it today in the MarlinBlog, but if you haven’t been involved in the process, now is the time.

Good news from our friends to the south.  Hurricane Jimena, which at one point was rated a dangerous Category 4 storm, made landfall this week on the Baja peninsula but did limited damage.  The storm passed just west of Cabo San Lucas, but because of its relatively small diameter the winds in town were manageable.  They’re still repairing the damaged roads from last year’s storms, so it’s good to hear they won’t have to start over.

That’s it for now.  No report on Monday – hey, even the Home Office staff gets the holiday off.  After last weekend’s lure debacle I’m not sure I’ll be let back on a boat, but if I get offshore you can look for a Trip Report with all the details.  And if you are fortunate to get on the water this weekend, we’d sure love it if you do the same!  Have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend, everyone!

August 28, 2014

August 28

White Cove Pier …

Raise your hand if you’re still above water …

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Hurricane Marie, who never got within 500 miles of the California coastline, nevertheless put on a show of power yesterday that continues – albeit abated – as we speak. It was initially believed that south-facing coastal sections, like Malibu Beach and Los Angeles Harbor, would get the brunt of the action, and they did see some amazing waves. But it was Catalina Island – the north side, at that – that absorbed the brunt of the damage.

Surfers will be talking about yesterday’s surf for a very long time. From 25-ft waves at Newport‘s Wedge, to surfable waves _inside_ the LA breakwater, to Laird Hamilton and others shooting the gap at the Malibu Pier, the scenes of yesterday’s action are epic. Those who know say it’s the biggest surf event in SoCal in forty years. But for all the power, there was relatively little damage, as most areas had prepared with berms and barricades and the like.

… Catalina Boatyard

The same cannot be said for Catalina Island, where swells wrapped around the east end of the island and pounded the lee shoreline. Every pier from Avalon to Long Point suffered damage, and the harbor was closed for a time to all traffic, including Catalina Express ferry service. In fact, the 6:30 boat out of Long Beach had to turn back once it realized the surge in Avalon Harbor made it impossible to tie up and offload passengers. The media was waiting for them back on shore, and they had quite a story to tell.

It appears that the worst damage happened at the Catalina Boatyard, a mile east of Avalon at Pebbly Beach. As you can see at right, boats under repair were knocked off their stands and anything not tied down was tossed about – including two-ton boulders. Damage assessments were still being made at our deadline, but all of the businesses located in that cluster suffered flooding and damage to some extent.

Pounding up some purple

For obvious reasons, there weren’t a lot of boats out the last few days, but those that were reported weather conditions better than expected. You can see from the latest SST chart that the warm water continues to rush unabated into the Catalina bight. That makes sense because, as we noted in an earlier report, while a hurricane generates a great deal of wave energy, it has no real impact on the currents. One item of note on the chart are the purple regions of significantly colder water along the shoreline. Notice that each is in a region of south-facing coastline; I suspect those reflect the cooling generated by all the pounding surf. Impressive display, Mother Nature …

We’re into what would normally be tournament season, but with the loss of all three professional events, it feels a little hollow. I never fished any of the “money” tournaments, and was not a fan of weighing dead marlin anyway, but I do miss the energy they brought. With those events gone, it’s more important than ever that we support the tournaments that remain.

There are two upcoming events I want to talk about tonight, and unfortunately, they’re running concurrently. The San Diego Marlin Club’s Gene Grimes Memorial Invitational Light Tackle Tournament has been around forever – I’m not sure how many years, but it was in existence when I first started fishing marlin 40 years ago. A club event, teams score points towards a perpetual trophy awarded to the high club. Now I will say that I think their point system needs to be revamped to encourage more released fish, but they do encourage the use of circle hooks and a portion of their entry fees support charity, with this year’s charity being the American Cancer Society. Visit the Marlin Club website for entry forms, rules and details.

And then there’s the Pesky. I suppose you could fish both events, but the ridicule you’d receive from the Pesky fleet might make you regret the decision. We’ve talked at length about the Pesky before, both here and at the now-defunct MarlinBlog, so if you don’t understand what it’s all about by now, I can’t help you. I can tell you that there will be a lot of damned good fishermen in it, and if the marlin stay as far north as they have so far, the release numbers will be phenomenal. Two things I can guarantee you won’t see, though – dead marlin and circle hooks. It’s just the Pesky way. If you’re interested, pop over to the Pesky tournament page, which is more or less SFW …

This weekend is the Labor Day holiday, and weather or not, there’ll be a lot of boats out there. Traditionally marking the end of summer, it’s also one of three weekends (along with Memorial Day and Fourth of July) when the “casual boaters” tend to hit the water in droves. Keep that in mind as you see that Sea-Ray obviously on autopilot approach your lure spread … chances are good that no one is home, and if they are, they have no idea that slicing right off your stern isn’t necessarily considered a friendly act.

I’ll finish tonight with a look back at another storm that caused far more damage than our little Marie. Katrina caught everyone off guard with her ferocity, and lives were both lost and changes forever. We did a charity auction here at SCMO that I still consider one of our finest moments – I pray we never have to do another …

9 Years Ago …

August 30, 2005

OK – everybody take a deep breath, ‘cuz we’ve got a lot of ground to cover …

Before we start talking about all the great fishing and wonderful times we’re having, let’s take a moment to think about a lot of folks who aren’t having a very good time right about now. Hurricane Katrina came ashore yesterday with all the fury we feared, and now there are hundred dead and thousands whose lives have been damaged. Eighty percent of New Orleans is underwater and is liable to remain that way for weeks; Biloxi is basically gone; huge numbers of people are homeless. In one of those sickly ironic twists, the remnants of the storm are currently pounding the Ohio River Valley with rain – where does it go once it falls? Down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Say a prayer to the god of your choice to look out for these folks …

The local marlin scene blew wide open this weekend, whit a lot of fish being taken in a lot of places. For the San Diego fleet, the places to be were the 9-Mile Bank and the 178. At least a dozen fish were caught there, and I’m happy to report that some of them were released. Unfortunately, the news was not so good for all those folks who made the run down south, and the fishing tailed off while the weather remained nasty. As one captain put it, "I’m on the Finger, and it’s giving me the finger …"

Among the more interesting stories to make their way up from the southern grounds was one of an angler hooking and losing a black – not striped, black – marlin. They were fishing 115 miles below Point Loma and hooked what they presumed was a bigeye tuna – until it broke off and was seen greyhounding with the lure in it’s mouth.

For the northern fleet, this weekend was finally our time to get in the game for real. Much of the Saturday action was located below Pyramid Head, and several boats were successful there. The action was spread over a wide area from the Head to the 289 to the 43 and down the ridge.

Ironically, while the "secret dope" sent a lot of boats offshore, those without connections were forced to fend for themselves closer to home – and many did just as well! DON JUAN landed a marlin on the 14, and several were taken on the 267. I think what this shows is that right now, the fish are flooding the area and there’s no "wrong" places – just look for the boats!

We all learned a valuable lesson on Saturday about the power of these fish when Ross Stotesbury on CRACKER JACK lost two fingers on his left hand while leadering a marlin. Apparently, the fish headed under the boat, and I can only assume he took the wrong wrap while trying to keep it out of the running gear. Roddy and others who have experience with the bigger blacks and blues have warned me before to not underestimate the power of these relatively small marlin, and hopefully it’s a lesson we’ll al remember. Guess it’s time to order that snooter …

Attention volleyball fans – Rachel and EY knocked off Misty and Kerri this weekend in Boulder. That means the two teams have split the last 6 events, setting up a real rivalry, and giving us all a reason to watch. Like their being hotties wasn’t enough to get our attention …

I heard of at least one swordfish being weighed in at Avalon and another hooked and lost. In a twist on the normal scheme of things, a swordfish boat hooked a marlin and handed it off to a sportfisher!

Americans are survivors. With all the tragedy in the Gulf Coast, it’s good to see there’s at least one guy whit his priorities set – wading through chest-deep water, he’s towing a door on which sets his two prize possessions – his ol’ lady and his beers …

The Churchmouse is the first major tourney of the year and is a favorite due to its lack of some of the slick polish of the other money events. For a while, it was looking like another thing it would lack was fish, but the weekend action changed that. Eighty-seven boats headed out of Avalon for two days of fishing, and on Monday the action seemed to be split between the ridges of the 181 and 182, and the 152 and 277. Day One saw a total of 18 fish released for 27 hookups, with several boats having released two including defending champion EGGCESSIVE. Today, most of the action was closer to Catalina as the boats pounded the ridge from the East End to the 277 pretty hard. By the 4pm lines out call 30 fish had been released with over 40 hooked. You never know until the banquet, but I believe DONNA C (skippered by MNAC member Kenny Knight) is the winner with 3 releases.

I’m happy to say that the hot fishing wasn’t limited to the tourney boats, as our own HOOKER released a pair yesterday near the 152, and Chris Badsey reported releasing two jigfish today. Unfortunately, while once again provided great pictures (including the one above), he neglected to tell me where he was.

Sorry if this report lacks the creative flair you’ve come to love, but I spent 6 hours in meetings with software vendors today and have another 8 hours lined up tomorrow. That’ll beat the enthusiasm right out of you. I’m off to bed – hopefully to dream of marlin!

August 25, 2014

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.

August 21, 2014

August 21

Ignore the temps – looks for the breaks

Gotta hunch this is gonna be a short one because, frankly, I don’t have that much for you. But here comes what I’ve got …

(cue short form theme music)

We know from those who were there on Saturday and Sunday of last weekend that the water rolled up on the Osborn Bank and the bite seemed to go drop off significantly. But looking at the SST chart at right, conditions would seem to still be pretty attractive there. Yes, marlin have tails and yes, a couple of other areas on that chart look pretty tasty (extra credit if you can tell which). But it also makes sense that they would leave the area unless really pushed out of an area, and that little squall last weekend just wasn’t that much. Add to that the fact that TIGHT RIV out of Channel Islands released three yesterday near the 172, and I think were it me I’d resist the suction pumps of the closer areas and run back west. If nothing else, the ride home will be sweet. The Tuna Club will have their back to back Linen One and Charity Tournaments today and tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll get some reports out of those.

If you’re like me, you fondly recall Baywatch, the syndicated TV series that made a star of Pamela Anderson and made men coast to coast jealous of drowning victims. You remember the iconic images – red swimsuits, brown skin, white zinc oxide … clear silicone …

Where was I? Oh, right … lifeguards. Anyway, Baywatch was “based” on the exploits of the Los Angeles County Lifeguards, who established many of the techniques and procedures used by lifeguards worldwide. Their preeminence in the field might be no better demonstrated that with their 27-year winning streak at the United States Lifesaving Assocation’s National Lifeguard championships – a streak that was recently broken by a team from … New Jersey?

Yes, somehow the squad from Monnouth County, New Jersey topped the 64-team field to end the SoCal reign. LA County did take second, and team members took both the men’s and women’s individual titles, but it is little consolation. They’ll have a full year to think about what they need to do to start another streak …

The lifeguards may not have gotten it done, but at least the Golden Girl did, as Kerri Walsh Jennings and her partner April Ross outlasted Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat to win the AVP Manhattan Beach Open volleyball tournament for a record 7th time. Five of those previous wins came with her now-retired Olympics partner Misty May-Treanor, but this was her first with new teammate April Ross – a pairing that looks like it could be powerful for quite some time.

Yer doin’ it right …

It’s a shame that the same can’t be said for the AVP tour, which is frankly a shadow of itself. A decade ago, there’d be 15 or sep events, half here in SoCal, and the players – most of whom lived in the South Bay – reveled in a homegrown circuit. After the failure of the AVP a few years back and a subsequent resurrection under new management, the tour consists of seven events with only Huntington and Manhattan Beaches seeing the AVP land on their sand. Worse still, AVP events do not quality players for the Olympics, meaning they have to compete in FIVB events around the world – the top players in MB all had to catch a red-eye to Poland to complete there a few days later. Tough times …

I get a lot of people asking me how to tell which lures fish will like. My response is that they’ll like what they liked before, so look for the ones with evidence. You’ll find few better examples of a lure the fish obviously like than this Makaira Lures Lena model.

That’s it for now. Hopefully a full weekend of fishing will result in lots of news come Monday!

8 Years Ago …

August 24, 2006

For those of you who worry that the information found in these reports isn’t fresh enough, try this one on for size …

I spoke with the HOOKER crew this evening not 10 minutes before writing this report. They released two marlin this afternoon fishing off the Slide near 19/13. One fish came on the stinger, and another on a black/purple #1 beeper. They mentioned that at least ten fish had been released today, with ONO, BRAVADO and several others all scoring. When I spoke with them, they were still trolling the spot, so the count may have gone up again.

Fresh enough?

I had planned to begin the report with some stunning prose about how wonderful it was to get back on the water earlier this week, but now that I hear the boat’s scoring without me, all I want to do is sulk. But I can’t do that, because it’s time for … wait for it … the Fishing News!

Actually, I’m just glad to get through a week without a server crash …

For the last ten days, the bite has been centered a couple of miles off the eastern edge of Catalina, from the ferry lanes outside Avalon down to the Slide. It’s been the most consistent bite I’ve seen in this area in a couple years, and it shows no sign of stopping. There will be some savage pressure applied to the area in the next few weeks as the money tourneys arrive, so we’ll have to wait and see how it lasts. I’m lovin’ the fact that the fish are so close to home, though.

There are several other areas where marlin action is occuring, and boats prefishing the Churchmouse are sure to hit them in the next couple of days. MIRAGE was fishing between the 181 and 289 today and released three fish, prompting several boats to abandon the closer bite. There also continues to be chatter about marlin that have been seen along the string of banks behind Catalina from the 499 to the 267 to the 711. I haven’t heard any great number of fish being released there, though, and since you have to pass the closer fish to get there, I’d seriously wonder about anyone to made the run.

There are still dorado and yellowtail under many of the kelp paddies, particularly as you head south. The numbers seem down, though – it could be the water temperature, or it could be the number of boats hitting them pretty hard. Best bet it to try and find your own kelp early in the AM, but be prepared to share.

Swordfish being still being seen, and a lot of boats and planes have been working the same general area as the marlineers. You could hear several examples of stickboats being called in on swordies that just wouldn’t bite. They got the point, as it were …

I mentioned the Churchmouse tournament earlier – it traditionally marks the beginning of tourney season. There will be several events each weekend from now through the end of September. You can always get the latest info by checking out our Tourney Schedule; there are links to the event websites if they exist.

I have this love-hate relationship with the money events. I hate all the money in the sidepots, as that seems too much like betting and makes me wonder if the entrants are here because they love angling or love money. I also have heartburn with the whole dead fish wins thing, although credit must be given to the event organizers for taking solid steps to minimize the number of marlin killed.

This year, the event organizer was purchased by Anthony Hsieh, who owns the tourney boat BAD COMPANY. It will certainly be interesting to see the dance he has to do when his own boat dominates the events, as it did with the WCBRT earlier this year.

A much bigger story, though , will be the introduction of a true all-release event based at Catalina. The Avalon Billfish Classic is a 100% release event requiring circle hooks for all baitfish. I’ve banged on the drum for years about the need for someone to step up and organize such an event, and I applaud Offshore Tournaments for putting this together (although they should be sending a check to Chris Badsey and The Committee for giving them a blueprint with the WCBRT and shaming them into doing this one). I’d be happier if the prize money was on par with the Zane Grey and the Catalina Classic, but hey – it’s a start.

I’m on the beach this weekend, so when I’m not in the rose garden, I’ll be snarking for news. Keep an eye on the War Room, ‘cuz that’s where I’ll be posting anything I find.

August 18, 2014

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!