2012 PFIC/UPSAC Catalina Get Together

The 2012 Catalina Get Together is history; it’s over, kaput, concluded, finis—except in that small part of the brain that controls memory. In that section the memories of good times with friends, the pleasure of the small town of Avalon, the nature around us—the birds, the sea lions, the dolphins, and the fishing—slow but occasionally productive, will merit repeat. All of these things give reason for the name. Not Catalina Fishing Tournament but Catalina Get Together, the once a year gathering of friends on this tiny island just a short one hour journey from Los Angeles but a world apart as far as atmosphere and feel.

This year the group was small. The economy remains stagnant, gas is over $4.00 a gallon, and it can be hard to justify the several hundred dollars needed for the ferry, motel room, and meals. Nevertheless it is something that is worth the effort for many, even when there are no guarantees when it comes to the fishing, and this year, as said, it was slow.

The Group Photo — 2012 Get Together

For some the event began on Wednesday. Two small town Hoosiers from Indiana, now living in NoTown (Fresno), headed down Wednesday afternoon. The duo, Ken and Mike, planned to get a good night’s sleep in a motel and would arise early to buy some bait that had been ordered from Big Fish Tackle in Seal Beach. Leaving near midnight from the Bay Area would be Rita, Jennica, and Kyle and though Rita had hoped that she and Jennica would share the driving, it was Rita who would pilot the car on the long, lonely freeway drive south.

Thursday morning would see the cars arrive at the Long Beach Downtown Terminal within minutes of one another. The Catalina Express Ferry would leave at 10AM and would wait for no one. Joining them on the ferry would be Hashem, the local boy from Los Angeles.

Jennica and Kyle practice how to gamble on the way to Catalina

One hour over the gentle, two-foot swells of the San Pedro Channel, and there it was, the magical island of Catalina poking its still-green hills through the clouds. Soon after, the ferry was headed into the slip at the mole, participants eagerly headed down the plank from the ferry, and the hoard began the short walk into the heart of Avalon, the 25 blocks or so that make up the town. Next stop would be the Hermosa Hotel, a quick check in and a short visit to the rooms before heading out to the pier—the Green Pleasure Pier to be precise.

Fishing—Thursday — Green Pleasure Pier

For the last few years Thursday has been dedicated to the Green Pleasure Pier while Friday and Saturday have been spent at the Mole. This year would be the same but the results would be VERY different.

In 2009, 73 fish were landed in 4.25 hours; 2010 saw 55 fish for 6 hours; 2011 saw 86 fish for 5.25 hours.  5 Hours in 2012 would produce only 32 fish

KJ and ocean whitefish, Green Pleasure Pier

Green Pleasure Pier: 1-6 PM; Fish: 32; Points: 72

16 Senorita, 4 Blacksmith, 3 Jack Mackerel, 2 Garibaldi, 2 Rock Wrasse, 1 Ocean Whitefish, 1 Sheephead, 1 Pacific Mackerel, 1 Kelp Bass and 1 Jacksmelt

KJ and sheephead, Green Pleasure Pier

*** Noticeable almost immediately was the absence of kelp bass (calico bass). Typically the bass yield fairly steady action at the GPP and traditionally have been (numerically) the number one fish at the pier.

Mike and a sheephead, Green Pleasure Pier

*** Also missing in action were the rock wrasse even though a couple were landed.

Senorita, Green Pleasure Piier

You’ve got to have a few rods and reels — right?

Fishing—Friday — Cabrillo Mole

Friday would see the arrival of most of the participants for the Get Together and they would be arriving on various ferries throughout the day. For those who had arrived Thursday, the day would be spent at the Cabrillo Mole, the platform built over a jetty that serves as the landing platform for passengers disembarking from ferries at Avalon. It also serves a dual purpose as a fishing pier and is the site of our annual  Get Together. Although once again the fishing would be slower than the past few years, we did manage to land a few nice fish.

Cabrillo Mole: 6:30-8:30; 10:10-4:40 (8.50 hours); Fish: 51; Points: 114

KJ and sheephead, Cabrillo Mole

14 Kelp Bass, 10 Pacific Mackerel, 6 Jack Mackerel, 5 Pacific Sardine, 3 Senorita, 3 Blacksmith, 2 Opaleye, 2 Treefish, 2 Sheephead, 1 Cabezon, 1 California Scorpionfish, 1 Kelp Rockfish and 1 Halfmoon

KJ and cabezon — Cabrillo Mole

*** I like to bounce a sinker on the bottom checking out crevices and holes. This can mean the loss of some sinkers but also can be productive if a hole exists. I found such a hole Friday and off and on visits to the hole the next two days (the tide and movement of the kelp fronds had to cooperate) yielded 4 treefish, 1 scorpionfish and 1 kelp rockfish.

*** I’ve also decided to forsake my traditional high/low leader when fishing the Mole. It’s better just to use just one hook. When you do hook a fish they head right to the rocks (inshore) or the kelp (out from the Mole) and it’s too common to have the second hook catch on the rocks or kelp.

*** An interesting sight seen Friday, while fishing inshore near my “hole,” was a large shark, what appeared to be a horn shark, swimming merrily along obvious to the excited anglers watching from up above. Saturday we would see a four-foot-plus leopard shark swimming along in the same area. Soon after, we saw a school of five mullet swimming along in formation, and, as so often happens, anglers mistook them for small yellowtail (a common happenstance).

Rita and a sheephead, Cabrillo Mole

 *** In ten of the eleven Get Togethers I have caught giant kelpfish and usually it was several of the colorful fish.  Several years also produced a mixture of the smaller kelpfish: striped, spotted and crevice kelpfish. This year I failed to catch a kelpfish of any species nor did I see a single kelpfish taken.

Rita and a bonito, Cabrillo Mole

 Fishing—Saturday —Cabrillo Mole: 12:30-1; 2-5 PM (3.50 hours); Fish: 37; Points: 83

Saturday would be the day of the derby and for me most of the time was spent judging. However I did manage to spend a little time fishing and once again caught a few fish.

18 Jack Mackerel, 4 Pacific Mackerel, 4 Blacksmith, 3 Kelp Bass, 2 Treefish, 1 Kelp Rockfish, 1 Garibaldi, 1 Pacific Sardine, 1 Sheephead, 1 Jacksmelt and 1 Senorita

As for the derby itself, fishing was fairly slow. Perhaps it was just too nice as the sunny sky meant crystal clear water which always seems to slow the bite somewhat. In addition, there was absolutely no water movement, another condition that seems to diminish success. Generally on the derby Saturday, fishing always seems to be better in the morning before the derby and later in the afternoon when the water by the mole is in shadow. It would be true again this day.

Hashem and a bonito, Cabrillo Mole

Jennica and a kelp bass (calico bass) , Cabrillo Mole

Thomas and a swell shark, Cabrillo Mole

Ryan at the Cabrillo Mole

RedKorn at the Cabrillo Mole; he would lose a large fish to the kelp just after the derby ended

Klye makes a cast for bonito at the Cabrillo Mole

Dora aka Mrs. Liu, spent her time watching the kids and serving up an excellent luncheon that she and her hubby had prepared for the group

We always have a raffle and of course give prizes to the derby winners based upon a point scale for different type fish. The winner for the Adult Division turned out to be Mike Granat who had rode down with me from Fresno.

The Prizes

Adult Division — 1st Place, Mike

Adult Division, 2nd Place — Jennica

Adult Division, 3rd Place — Arcadian

Adult Division — Honorable Mention — Burger

Adult Division — Honorable Mention — Hashem

Junior Division — 1st Place — Kyle

Junior Division — 2nd Place — Elaine

Junior Division — 3rd Place — Warren

Junior Division — Honorable Mention — Amanda 

Saturday night, after the days activities and dinner, I would revisit the Mole for a few final hours of fishing. There I would be joined by Rita, Kyle and Jennica. I once again managed a few fish but nothing big and certainly not the moray eel I’ve been seeking the past few years. Nevertheless the weather was beautiful at midnight, Avalon and the lights from the boats in the harbor were reflecting off the water, and it was once again a magical ending to an island visit so close yet so far from Los Angeles; 22 miles and a world apart.

Fishing—Saturday —Cabrillo Mole: 10PM-12:45 AM (2.75 hours); Fish: 26; Points: 54

18 Jack Mackerel, 5 California Scorpionfish, 1 Treefish, 1 Kelp Bass and 1 Kelp Rockfish

California scorpionfish

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One Response to 2012 PFIC/UPSAC Catalina Get Together

  1. Ron Smart says:

    Great site! You have a ton of good content here keep up the good work

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