2005 PFIC/UPSAC Catalina Get Together

Date: April 25, 2005 —To: PFIC Message Board — From: Ken Jones — Subject: Catalina 2005 — Another Catalina Weekend

Day 1 — Thursday, April 21, 2005 — As for myself, I took off at 3 a.m. on Thursday morning and headed south on I-5. I knew I was cutting it short since I had a reservation on the 10 a.m. boat but thought I could make it. Wrong! Great time until about ten miles from downtown Los Angeles when the traffic stopped. No way around it and when I pulled up at the Queen Mary Landing the boat was just heading out.

The Queen Mary next to the landing for the ferry

Downtown Long Beach across the bay

Missed it by ten minutes and for my efforts got to hang around the landing until 12:30. (Knowing what I now know, I could have gone and gotten some fresh bait but at that point I was just tired from the drive and had a leisurely lunch.)

Arriving at Avalon

Upon arrival at Catalina I checked into the palatial edifice know as The Hermosa Hotel, unpacked the gear, and headed down to one of my favorite piers. By 2:30 I was rigged up and catching fish but soon noticed a paucity of the fish I was seeking. Yes, there were fish there—as evidenced by the quick nibbles and resultant fish. But the numbers of not-a-bass that I was seeking were down. Part of the problem was that I did not have as good of bait as last year (variety) but I truly believed at an early point that the fishing variety itself would be down, at least at the Green Pleasure Pier, and my results over the next four days would unfortunately prove that true.

What was of fairly immediate interest was the appearance of a large black (giant) sea bass that swam into the waters by the pier several times that afternoon. It was only a few feet down in the water and its massive shape was impressive to say the least. We estimated the weight at 100+pounds but it may have weighed twice that much. People disembarking from the glass bottom boat said they had seen it on their cruise; we were able to see it from our perch at the end of the pier. A second creature, 4-5 foot-long, also made an appearance but it was a little deeper in the water and we could not provide a positive identification. It had the triangular shape of an angel shark and if so would have been up around 40-50 pounds in weight. Neither fish was hooked which is probably a good thing.

I was joined by Pierhead himself later that afternoon and was provided with the clear and coherent loquacity that is his mark. We swapped stories and caught fish until dinnertime at which point we retired to an excellent dinner at the Galleon Restaurant.

Results Green Pleasure Pier — 2:30-6:30 p.m. — 32 Kelp Bass, 16 Senorita, 5 Rock Wrasse and 1 Halfmoon

After dinner I decided to give the pier one more chance hoping for a big sculpin (scorpionfish) or a shark on the bottom (several horn sharks have been landed over the years). Alas, results were nill with the exception of a few bass which can always be found hanging under the pier. (Nightime action is always different here since the senorita and rock wrasse bury themselves and take a snooze at night—along with the sheephead.)

Results Green Pleasure Pier — 9:00-10:00 p.m. — 5 Kelp Bass

Day  2 — Friday, April 22, 2005 — I slept a little later than planned this morning but still managed to arrive at the pier by 7:30. The bait was ready but I wasn’t. I needed a cup of Joe so I followed the smell of bacon emanating from the adjacent stand. Caffeine—oh yea!  The bacon was awfully tempting but so was the fishin’ so the lines were soon in the water and the fish came over to say hello. Shortly thereafter I was joined Pierhead and not too long later Gdude showed up.

As the boats began to arrive from the mainland, we were joined by several additional and esteemed pier rats including Jimbojack, Joromaca, Graybeard, GordoGrande and eventually Kyle and Rita.  By then we had figured out which fish were where and what bait was working for each so it was all pretty easy. Unfortunately neither our giant bass nor our mystery fish made an appearance but we were so busy catching fish it didn’t matter.

Collage by GDude (James Liu)

GDude had discovered the attraction of large opaleye (the famous Ray Cannon’s favorite fish) and a school that ranged at times up to fifty fish or so made their tantalizingly presence known. They would head over to a bait, give it a quick look and be on their merry way. Shrimp, peas, bloodworms, squid: nothing worked. Then jimbojack volunteered some moss he had gathered that morning and the opaleye began to pay real attention. At least they made a few hits but were still wary. Finally Gdude switched to two-pound monofilament and he began to get bites. Unfortunately the lines, cables, structures and pilings that make up the end area provided perfect opportunity for the big button-backs to break off. I was finally able to hand line one of Gdude’s nice-sized fish up to the pier but the rest got away. They wouldn’t hit when he switched to four-pound test but were hard to keep out of the pilings with the two pound test. BUT, James had some nice and exciting fights.

Fishing with Graybeard (Harry Goddall)

While Gdude was experimenting on the opaleye the rest of us continued to catch the easier to catch species. It was good to have the opportunity to show Gordo a couple of tricks for catching the bass and it brings to mind an old Latin saying—a bove majori discit arare minor (the older ox teaches the younger how to plow). However remember, in this case there isn’t too much difference is age.  Finally people began to look at their watches and head off to wash up for the 8 p.m. dinner. Since I was approaching a 100-fish day I tried just a few more casts.  Finally hit the mark and retired shortly thereafter.

Results Green Pleasure Pier — 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — 77 Kelp Bass, 9 Senorita, 7 Rock Wrasse, 4 Blacksmith, 2 Halfmoon, 2 Jack Mackerel and 1 Jacksmelt

Amidst a large and very enthusiastic gathering of pier rats at Antonio’s we had a great dinner. The UPSAC Board then retired to the Hermosa’s lobby for a meeting (and I want to thank Boyd, James, Adam, Rita, Ross and Ben who were willing to meet until past 11 p.m. that night after a hard day of travel and fishing). Spouses were ignored and the very tired group discussed matters of earth-shattering importance even though everyone planned to be up early the next morning fishing. Thank you guys (and a certain lady) for your hard work.


Baitfish (Adam Cassidy), Roosterqueen (Rebecca Cassidy) and Anadromous

DompfaBen (Ben Acker), Brandy Acker and Jimbojack

Dora and Amanda Liu and Gordo Grande (Ross Kestin)

Day 3 — Saturday, April 23, 2005 — After dinner and the late-night meeting it was good to get a little extra sleep. Finally headed down to the mole where several people were already catching fish. Unfortunately the action remained slow for me for much of the derby hours just as the previous year. A little variety did show up but most of the fish were not too big with the exception of a couple of the sheephead and garibaldi.

Cabrillo Mole—8:15 a.m.–2:15 p.m.—south side — 7 Kelp Bass, 5 Sheephead, 4 Garibaldi, 2 Treefish and 1 Senorita

We had a decent crowd at the Mole and some decent but not great action.

The railing was lined with “Pier Rats”

DompfaBen and a bonito

Chaum with a hook up!

Baitfish with a sheephead

Jimbojack with an opaleye

A young Kyle Pease with a young sheephead

Rich Reano pulls in a bonito

A colorful giant kelpfish

DompfaBen with another bonito


Collage’s by GDude

About one o’clock James and Dora showed up with some delicious food!  

The awards were at 2:30 and once again there were many, many prizes — and happy faces.

Gordo Grande is the “king” of ticket salesmen

Adam calling out ticket numbers

Picking the tickets

PFIC Webmaster Rich Reano


Last but not least was a group photo

Everyone again seemed to have a great time. Good companionship, good food, and good fishing.

After the festivities and picture taking it was time for a little more fishing and just as the previous year I changed sides of the pier and began to pull in the fish. The current was different, the water was now a darker color (with the sun being blocked in part by the mole itself), and the fish were far less wary. A school of halfmoon made it interesting along with the beautiful little blacksmith. Finally though I hit one of those toad opaleyes that had been making fun of us all day long. This one got hooked on a combo piece of shrimp w/one pea. After a scare as it headed into the kelp I finally got it where we could hand line it up. A nice fish that might have won the derby but the derby was long over. No problemo, it was just nice to get the fish — which was released.

Cabrillo Mole — 3:30-7:30 p.m. — north side — 26 Halfmoon, 16 Blacksmith, 2 Kelp Bass, 1 Jacksmelt, 1 Kelp Perch and 1 Opaleye—15 1/2” length, 12 1/2”girth

I finally headed back to the motel but decided to make a short stop at the Green Pleasure Pier along with Boyd. Still seeking out some sculpin, whitefish or sharks but alas just more of the bass. At least the company was good but we both were tired and decided to call it an early night.

Green Pleasure Pier — 7:50-8:50 p.m. — 9 Kelp Bass

Day 4 — Sunday, April 24, 2005 — Up at the crack of dawn for one last shot at the fish but bait was now limited and it showed with a relatively sparse catch of bass and one senorita. I kept thinking if I had just brought some ghost shrimp the sheephead would have made a better appearance but hindsight is, as they say, always 20-20.

Green Pleasure Pier — 6:15-7:45 a.m.  — 6 Kelp Bass and 1 Senorita

Kudos — The main people to thank for this annual gathering are Adam and Rebecca, the conductors of this little opera. Adam first proposed this trip four years ago and they have overseen the planning and execution ever since. It’s an amazing job considering the logistics involved. Obtaining the food and prizes and transporting them to Catalina is, in itself, a big endeavor. Combined with the willingness to spend time judging instead of fishing (a big matter in my book), require a deep commitment. I hope both understand how deeply our thanks run for their actions. A BIG THANK YOU is not nearly enough of a thanks.

A special thanks also has to go out to Mr. Gdude and his wife Dora who have annually provided the exquisite pot stickers for the lunch. It takes preparation, as well as hauling quite a bit of food and cooking utensils to Catalina to provide this treat. Thanks—again!

Many more people provided food, cash for the drawings, and help when needed. Unfortunately I do not have all the names but a BIG thanks goes out to all of you. Overall, there were close to forty people present and a final thanks go out to each of you. Some of you traveled several hundred miles to attend but your presence makes the event special. Gemütlichkeit is a German word that represents a certain cozy and relaxed atmosphere and that was what we had Saturday. Forty people in a synergistic, friendly gathering that seemed almost clan-like in feeling. Of course even those who were new to the gathering were seen as old friends since all have posted on the PFIC board. So, there were really no strangers even if some of the faces were new. Amazing! But I shouldn’t have been surprised since it’s now an annual occurrence!

I do want to make my annual apology for fishing too much and personally socializing too little. When I’m fishing I’m concentrating on the fish so sometimes I fail in my role as one of the hosts. Sorry!

Quite a few fish were caught but as I said the results were down from previous years, at least in regard to the Green Pleasure Pier.

It is hoped that additional PFIC posts will be found once the “old” message board is accessible.

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