George Nelson - October 8, 2004
Sorry about the absence of Wednesday reports the last couple of weeks, but not much fishing and less catching. The marlin activity locally has kind of cooled with not much activity at the Coronados and only Harry Okuda's ("Alfresco III") fish in the middle of the "9" last Monday. Ken Yasuda on "Encounter" got one on the "9" last week-end. Nothing more being heard about fish off the West End (i.e. Catalina), but through the week have come reports of the fish sliding close to the beach from Dana down to Carlsbad. It sounded like the best area was off the San Onofre power plant, but current reports indicated some activity off Carlsbad and "tight" to the beach.
And so, with the TV supplying the USC-Cal game, I opted to head up towards Carlsbad, about 28 miles from Point Loma. Who went with me? Now that's the real story.
25 years ago (1979) fishing with Geoff Halpern I caught a Swordfish off La Jolla on one of our regular Wednesday trips. 3 days later I went marlin fishing with the very young Ken-Dans (Kenneth and Daniel). While trolling in the same area off La Jolla we passed a familiar boat - the "Karima," one of the more active - and successful - boats in the southland. Owned by George Nelsen who regularly fished with his Mother and close friend, Lon Chaney. That is a familiar name for he was the son of LC, Jr and grandson of the LC of the thousand faces. They usually did quite well and the previous year, 1978, "The Year of the Swordfish" (about 50 were caught by rod & reel anglers) they caught 6 of the highly prized fish 3 a piece for each George and Lon.
George called us and congratulated me on the SF. Within 30 minutes we spotted another SF (i.e. Broadbill) in almost the same area as 3 days earlier, baited it, hooked it and with young Daniel handling the boat I went to work. I instructed the boys to call George who promptly turned around, found us and transferred Lon to the boat to help with the gaffing (216 pds). All went well and, other than getting some fillets to George and his crew, I don't think I spoke to him again.
About a month ago, 25 years later, the phone rings and someone say: "You won't recognize my voice, but I once put Lon Chaney on your boat to help with gaffing, etc." I immediately responded: "Karima, George." We chatted and George told me that he had not been fishing for some time and would love to just go out on a trip to spend some time on the high seas. I took his number and filed it away.
On Friday, looking for someone to go along, I thought of George, gave him a call and he was delighted to go along. I met him at the boat, we had a bite at Shelter Pointe and sacked in for a 4 AM departure. During the night I "made" 6 pieces of bait (mackeral) right there in the slip. Also boated a barracuda which spent the day with us - just in case (SF love them). We started off La Jolla trolling in towards the beach up towards Carlsbad. Got there around 0930 and found a few boats trolling around. Shortly thereafter, Barry Brightenburg ("FishTrap Lures"), fishing in tighter with a friend, Dave, on a small skiff, called me and told me to come inside. Apparently he had been bit in the area and maybe saw others. We were about 4 miles out and found him about 2 1/2 miles off the beach. Water quite blue and 68.8 degrees (regardless of what Ed Waldman's meter says). 15 minutes later our good old Black & Purple Collector lure was jerked out of the outrigger. But no zip on the reel. George thought it was a piece of kelp. I looked back - no kelp in sight. Suddenly, the non-kelp became two fins (dorsal and tail) and then the reel began to realy zip. So here was George, after all those years, cranking away. It's like bicycle riding - you never forget. It appeared to be a small fish and in 11 minutes I had the leader. My attempt to tag the fish failed when I - leader in one hand and stick in the other - brushed the end against the leader and knocked the tag off the end of the stick. It was a small (105-110 pd) fish, kind of tired and didn't go very far. I got the leader back quickly and while reaching for the bill the fish woke up and decided it was time to go. With a little violent thrashing I suddenly got the lure (rigged with Chain Gang hooks) back intact and we parted company.
Needless to say, George was very pleased by this "simple boat ride."
This, of course, got everyone in the area interested and even brought more boats from down below including the "Jigger Joe", "Sea Trek," and "Key to the Sea." Later in the day the latter with Skeet Simmons and Richard Kesee hooked a fish on a drop back and eventually released it. A third fish was caught in the area - a Tuna Club angler with a "button fish" caught on 9 thread (= 30 pd. class) linen line with bamboo rod and some kind of mickey mouse reel, the Tuna Club's annual "back to the good old days" tournament. It sounded like they troll lures without hooks on regular line (the linen has no give and tends to snap off on a hard bite). So they "raise" the fish to the lures and then try to hook them with drop-back live bait on the linen line.
During the day there were a few scattered fish showing in the lures, sleepers, etc, but no real bonanza. We also heard reference to about three fish being caught further up the line above San Clemente in the "Golf Ball" area. But the best was yet to come. Barry and his friend stayed in the area (2 1/1 miles off the beach and 2 miles below Box Canyon and following the 50 fathom line) til about 4:30. They took off for the run to Dana and off the San Onofre plant ran into a large group of "feeders" threw baits and hooked a double. While they were fighting the fish they saw another large group of feeders in the area. One of their fish took out so much line they had to throw the rig in the water hooked onto a back-up rig. But they got, and released, both fish. Good show Barry!!!!! It sounds like that might be the best place to fish this week. (Translation: look for a Wednesday report) Marty
P.S. Here is a picture of the 5 of us (Lon included).