1998 1st Fish for the Marlin Club

1997 was one of those mini-El Nino years when, with warmer water, the fish tended to go a little further north, stay longer and depart later in the season. Thus, during the last week of December Harry Okuda and I went out for a day of prospecting. While fishing about 38 west of Point Loma and in deeper waters south of the "43" we were trolling along and, looking up, did a double take with what looked like a sleeper. Getting closer we found that it actually was such and Harry was able to get off a decent cast ahead of the fish which kicked and swam off. So we kept trolling around and, moving a little further to the west we were startled to see what looked like a group of 4 sleepers. Sliding up to them Harry got off a cast that, unfortunately landed on top of the group. This served to awaken them all and the startled fish exploded with tails, dorsals, stripes, and bills going in every direction except for the bait. And that was that for the day - and the year.

    But I put the information out in case some eager souls were ready to give it a try. On January 1st, 1998 the "WILD BILL" out of Dana Point Harbor slid down into this same area, had a fish come up on a large tuna lure, get hooked and found itself on the step of the boat. The "WILDBILL" Kingsmill family are one of the top boats on the coast scoring mainly on bait fish with virtually everything released. But this was the 1st Fish of 1998 and keep it they did.

    With that report Mark Henwood and I decided to see what we could do. Over the years Mark has been on a boat taking the 1st Marlin of the Year for the Marlin Club. On at least 3 occasions, it was his rod that got bit, but the greedy boat owners would take the credit. So off we went into the same general area.

    In mid-morning I went down to toast and jelly some bagels. As I was coming up the ladder the boat stopped. I asked Mark what happened and his reply: "2 sleepers." Forgotten were the bagels as we pulled in the trolled lines and Mark got ready with a bait up on the bow. I slowly approached the pair and Mark got off a great cast with the bait landing about 30 feet in front of the fish. Too close and they spook. Behind them and they don't see it. This was perfect as one of the fish sank out heading in the direction of the bait. Off went the line and Mark set the hook. This was finally his chance at a 1st of the Year for the Marlin Club and he was afraid that I was going to pull out the tagging stick. Never fear - this was not a fish for tagging. Mark finally "walked" it back to the cockpit, I was able to gaff it and handshakes galore. Back to the Marlin Club - photos, etc, etc, etc.

    The next day the "KEY TO THE SEA" went out there, got hooked up and claimed the 1st Release of the Year for the Club.