In 1970 the L A Billfish Club had ventured south to participate in the 12th Annual Marlin Club Invitational Light Tackle (Marlin) Tournament (aka ILTT). They ("Little White Whale") not only did well, but took 2 fish off Pyramid late on the 2nd day of competition, ran back to San Diego and wound up winning the tournament to the dismay of the locals. The team, as pictured, was Frank Hedge, Kenny Lightner, and the fellow behind the moustache our own Geoff Halpern

Yes 1972 was the start of our participation in the Marlin Club's Invitational Light Tackle Tournament, the oldest inter club tournament on the West Coast dating back to about 1958. As reported above I caught my 1st Marlin in Local Waters in that tournament and that's about all that we of the Los Angeles Billfish Club accomplished. It was the largest fish of the tournament and the largest on 30 pd. line. Kenny Dickerson (skipper on the "EL TIGRE") fished for LOS PESCADORES and had 2 fish on 20 (including the largest on 20) and was, of course, the high angler for the tournament. His angling achievements so infuriated the gentlemen from another club, the one at Avalon (no names, please) that the following winter they changed the rules of the Inter-Club Albacore Tournament barring from competition professional skippers and boats with Fish & Game plates.. This action pissed off a lot of people and participation in the Albacore tournament dropped off dramatically and ended, of course, with the disappearance of the Albacore for the next ten years or so - until the high seas drift nets were removed from the Pacific.

Speaking of "pissed off" I had the largest fish of the tournament and won an Ambassador 1500 reel which we still use for bait catching and Dickerson won a Penn International.

     So here are some pictures from various years of participation with a pretty good track record:

1976 - Bob Flamer brought some home-made jigs and one of them produced these 2 fish for himself and Al Epstein.

9-16-77 - This was a notable fish in that Carolyn tried to gaff it 5 times with a flying gaff. Each time the hook fell off the end of the stick lying harmless on the fish. In desperation I grabbed an albacore gaff and nailed it. You should have heard all the expletives (deleted). Poor Debbie Epstein never heard such language at her refined home. The boys were used to it. We haven't used a flying gaff on marlin since.


1978 - Carolyn was in labor with Melody getting ready for the surgeon's knife, so I stayed home. Geoff and Dennis Gagnon along with Don Sarslow got some hot "LOS PESCADORES dope" from Bob Flamer and found the sleepers inducing two to bite. 

1980 - Sanbo got a jig fish the 1st day of the tournament. Early in the next AM Geoff picked up a tipping sleeper and somehow I got a bait to it. It ate. We got it. While I was fighting the fish from the bow with Sanbo and Jordy Weitzman giving encouragement feeders popped up right behind the boat. Geoff called for Jordy to get a bait back there. In his haste, Jordy mis-stepped on the edge of the decking, just past the toe rail and the next thing Geoffrey heard was; "Help me." (He hadn't heard the splash).  Reaching over Geoff grabbed Jordy by the belt and hoisted him aboard. Later in the day we ran some more feeders, Jordy dropped a bait back, and hooked one. We got it. Result: 1st PLACE, DIVISION II.


1982 - Nothing the 1st day. The 2nd we picked up Kenny Shilling on an off channel telling a friend that they had 2 fish already. (They wound up with three, but all were disqualified when they continued fishing on the way back.) We picked them up on the ADF and headed in that direction. As soon as we got in the area (the only other boat around) we got bit and Geoffey was on. Got it. Later in the PM about 1:30 with most of the fleet now in the area, we had a double and Jordy and I got both. While I was fighting mine, his angled towards the bow. We encouraged him to go to the bow, but after the above incident he wouldn't. Luckily mine came in quickly, we gaffed it, threw it in the boat and then spun the boat for Jordy.  First time we had ever limited out in the tournament. Lost on weight, but still: 2nd PLACE, DIVISION II.

1983 - The day before the tournament Geoff, Harry Okuda and I pre-fished around the islands and picked off 2 fish just north of Pukey Point (north end of North Coronado Island). In the report all we said was: "North Island." The next day, the 1st day of the I.L.T.T., the wind came up and 50 % of the boats turned around. We drove up to the top of Point Loma and all agreed that it didn't look too bad out there - it was!  At about 5 knots we made it down to North Island, barely able to make head-way. There was nothing where we had the two fish the day before.


At about the middle of North Island I decided to pound our way out to the 302. But leaving the island, about a mile out - hook up on a drop back bait. Geoff fought the fish - it was awfully small, but points never-the-less. When it got near the boat, Harry reached out with his 3 foot arms and the 8 foot gaff, but the fish was 12 feet away. Hooked in the stomach, it had thrown the stomach and as Geoff gave a mighty pull the hooked ripped out carrying with it a 1" square of gastric mucosa. For the rest of the day we went out 2 miles, back to the island, out 2 miles and back and forth. All told we had 5 bites in the area, probably more than the entire fleet, or what was left of it. But another of those bites stuck and Geoffrey was able to get that one. There were only 4 fish caught that day, none the next and they all weighed in the 123-126 pound range. Guess who had the smallest of the 4 with 3 Places awarded in the Tournament?

1987- Kenneth couldn't fish the 1st day so Daniel and I trolled around down below for naught. Ken made it down that night and we headed up towards the 279. Pre-dawn put us on the spot so I had Daniel run the boat to the west so that we would be starting out by looking into the sun. As we started moving, even before gray-light I picked up a sleeper; no, three; no, there must have been a dozen and we could barely see them. I ran to the bow and cast a mackeral about 5' from the boat with one of my classics (that's why they make me run the boat) and Ken threw off the back. We slow trolled it and - big splash - it came up jumping even before he set the hook. But we got it and with the start of releasing in the tournament tagged and released the fish for 120 points. Very slow fishing up there, but the late Don McAdam on Gary Graham's "WATER CLOSET" took a fish and it weighed out at 121 pounds. As a result Kenneth earned 2nd Place Angler (one of Don Blackman's beautiful boxes with a Fin-Nor 50 reel inside). Kenny Cohen's "WENDEBRA" got a fish and so "we" (LABC) finished as top club and the boat: 1st PLACE, DIVISION II. Beautiful Sterling Belt Buckles.


In this picture Kenneth is holding a normal Marlin flag with a letter "T" superimposed. This is our version of a Talent fish flag indicating that the fish was taken on bait. A lot of the high-liners call bait fish "Talent fish," especially when caught by a cast bait. But drop-backs and slow trollers count the same in this family. The whole idea is to separate them from (ugh!) jig fish. I'm showing the normal "Tag&Release" flag and Daniel has a flag indicating that the fish was taken on 20 pd. line. Hence: Tag&Release a bait fish on 20 (in the tournament worth 120 points).  

1989 ILTT -  We didn't win anything, but Geoff released a fish on 12# with the yellow Koga Head lure working magic once again. Later in the day there was a flurry of feeder activity off the "slide" (Catalina East End) with Daniel hooking and loosing a bait fish only to be cut off by all the fish in the water. But he hooked another and that was released on 20#.

 THE 90's - various problems with illness, injury, apathy, etc took their toll and not too much interest in making the run down there. And, if we did, nothing exotic to report

1991 - Fishing was very slow, but we were the first one to find a group of feeders and got bit on the troll. Geoffrey got it  while Carolyn, Alan Smith (an LABC member) gave encouragement. We had to call in our location for the report and the next day 3 more fish were caught almost exactly on the numbers. In the AM we headed back and were about 1/2 mile from the spot watching the "Legend" hook up exactly 1/2 mile ahead of us. But we were the only ones in Division II. Result: 1st PLACE, DIVISION II. We got some beautiful watches and Geoffrey, Kenneth and Daniel still have theirs (as in mine and Carolyn's.)

1994 - Nothing special to report for the year, but we did fish in the Marlin Club ILTT. The participation was noteworthy for we had with us a couple of individuals not reported on too much in these proceedings. That is, Gene Zander, a former member of the LABC, retired and living in Julian, fished with us. Gene, unfortunately, passed away after succumbing to a severe infection he contracted having dental work done in - ugh - Tijuana. That was one bargain where he got more than expected. Our other "guest" was a professional skipper, one Ron Costa, he of the "HAPPY KANAKE" fame. Ron was already having severe orthopedic problems and required the use of leg braces whenever up. But we got him up to the helm seat and he was grateful just to be out on the water.
We fished off Catalina's East End and spent part of the day chasing tailers. Not known for my casting the others would run to the bow, throw baits here and there, and I was the designated drop-backer. And so it went when guess who got picked up? Yup, yours truly hung one and then the decision to take or release. Release points were 120 points and when it jumped the others thought it was substantially larger than that. I wasn't so sure. The tournament had an award for the 1st release and none had been taken by then. I should have gone for it. But we took the fish and it only weighed 125-1/2. That was all we did in the tournament.