October 13, 2004 - Harry Okuda Solo - 10/12/04
It is not possible to relate the events of today without bringing up the epic story covered by the Tuesday Report. Briefly (no, I am not noted for this) other than boating a Broadbill Swordfish one of the highlights in an angler's career is to say "I boated (caught) a marlin single-handed - i.e. a solo effort." It is not an easy thing to do and can be down right dangerous. The larger the boat, the more difficult the project becomes. And the older the angler, especially post multiple coronary artery by-pass procedures, it becomes that much more of an effort, but can be an ultimate thrill for those of us who have achieved this pinnacle of effort. Yes, I managed the feat a number of years ago on our 38' "Ken-Dan" and for that story I refer you to our family web site: KEN-DAN.com. Embedded in those stories is the tale of my solo success.
But now I must tell you of the success of a gentleman who is now 70 yrs old, fishes on his 46' Hatteras, and has been trying to accomplish this feat for many, many years - much to the chagrin of his wife and friends. Most of you know him and I have known him since 1971 (give or take a couple). But here is someone who certainly was born with a fishing rod in hand and will go fishing - whatever, whenever, wherever - the situation calls for. His name is Dr. (a Dentist) Harry Okuda, now retired and living in the fashion to which he has become accustomed to through the courtesy of his loving wife, Dr. (a Dentist) Lan Tran, my dentist, my family's dentist, and she probably takes care of many of you.
But Harry has been trying to solo a marlin for many a moon. Not only to achieve the honor and recognition that comes with it, but, once accomplished, to get his picture on the famous Wall of Honor in the Anglers' room of the Southwestern Yacht Club, along with so many of the Club's immortals including the recent deed recorded by 72 yr. old Walt Gutjahr. Who? You know - "Der Elf" himself, who now claims to be the oldest successful solo angler on record.
And so it was that on Monday, Oct. 11, there was a report that one of the local sport boats, while anchored on the Rock Pile (below South Coronado Island, about 22 miles south of Point Loma), had hooked a Marlin (meaning that there was at least one such prey in the area). With this bit of hot dope, flat seas and windless skies, Harry decided that this was as good a day as any. So, off he went, arriving in the area of the Pile about 09:00. He trolled around, wandered on down the upper portion of the Upper Finger (bank) and then turned back to "promised" (by no one) land. Re-arriving about a mile or 2 just west of the Rock Pile at 11:00 he was startled by the fact that one of the rods he was trolling with suddenly bent over and screamed off line - a good sign when marlin fishing. Nonchalantly, not knowing why the rod (and reel) were acting in this fashion, he calmly cranked in the other three lines and watched while the reason for all the commotion leaped from the water telling Harry that perhaps this was to be his day. So he went to work retrieving all that line, working the fish to the boat (actually, as true anglers know, we really work the boat to the fish, but it sounds better the other way). Out came a gaff and about 5 stabs later the fish decided that this truly was Harry's day and quietly passed on, soon to participate in the ritual of smoking.
Harry tied off the fish, went inside to get a smaller hand gaff to aid in boating the creature, and when he came out was horrified to see that his knot had come untied and his trophy was slowly floating away. But the lure hooks were still embedded and it was an easy task to coax the poor old thing to the boat where he managed to finally secure it properly (almost scalping the creature as he did so) and sliding it into the cock-pit for the trip back to the Marlin Club and all the accolades. As he tells it - 30 minutes to catch it and an hour to get it into the boat.
At the Marlin Club it hit the scales at 127 pounds. But it wasn't the size that mattered, it was finally achieving his long sought goal. Congratulations Harry! (and his crew of one). Hmmmm, I wonder if a 75 year old 5 months out of triple by-pass could manage this feat? (Shhhh, don't tell Carolyn) But, of course, we don't want to disappoint Walt.
Well, that was Tuesday which leads us right into the
Wednesday Report. This was a family day with Dad taking KENneth and DANiel out
for a look-see on the "KEN-DAN" (I wonder where we got that name from?) Again,
with flat seas, cloudless and windless skies, and, of course, Harry's (GPS)
numbers, as well as no positive reports from the recent hot spots off Carlsbad
and Oceanside, we opted to try that Rock Pile routine. A bite on Monday, a bite
and caught fish on Tuesday, maybe this would be a lucky day. So off we went, got
to the area just south of the islands early and worked our way to Harry's
numbers. At 0830 the rod (and reel) with the electronic EAL lure made a 2 second
"zip." This was followed by a zip on the right rigger, a zip on the left rigger,
a knock-down from the right rigger, a knock-down from the left rigger and then
the excited dorsal and tail fins of a not hungry enough marlin coming in on the
left (port) lure. Daniel had let go the drop-back, the creature had hit three
lures a total of 5 times, ignored the drop-back and then decided that the game
was over and went his merry way leaving the three of us a little excited, but
disappointed. Blue water and 68.8 degrees.