2011 PFIC/UPSAC Mud Marlin Derby, Berkeley Pier

Posted by Ken Jones — It was 5PM in the parking lot near the front of the Berkeley Pier and I had just arrived for the 10th Annual Mud Marlin Derby. A large group was scheduled to show up for the event and I was glad to be back after missing the tournament the prior two years. But though thought of the MMD brought back many happy memories, the drive over from the Ferry Point Pier had brought another memory, that of an old ‘60s tune by B. J. Thomas— “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” It was raining hard. While the pitter patter serenade continued on the windshield, I contemplated my next move. I was (I thought) well prepared for the cold and wind, but I wasn’t too sure about the rain.

Luckily the storm seemed to abate somewhat and my friend Mike and I hopped out of the car and began to unload the equipment. First the rods and reels, then the pier cart, the bait cooler, misc. bucket, small cooler, and tackle box.

About that time three fishermen walked by, all equipped with pier carts and a variety of rods and reels, nets, buckets and “necessary” accouterments. True “pier rats” who knew the needs of those who seek the big ‘butts, stripers, sharks and rays from California’s longest pier (and the first WCB pier in the state). No way you’re hand carrying all that tackle out to the end of the 3,000+ foot-long-pier!

Illcatchanything (Brian Linebarger) setting up for the cooking

“How was the fishing” was the question and the “regulars” said,  “wet.” But seven legal halibut was the report on the pier, one a nice fish of 45”, and about 12-13 striped bass. Not great fishing but also not bad, but the time of the day and the rain had taken its toll; it was time for them to leave.


Mike and I headed out to the pier where we stopped for a short visit at the restroom. While there, the rain began anew. Mike headed back to the car while I continued out to the third cleaning station and the gathering.

Mike Granat

The crowd at that time was approximately 30-35 people but it would grow and see an eventual group of 62 people. Included were a mix of long time PFIC regulars together with some newbies. At the main table were Brian (Illcatchanything2) and Hans (Sofa King) while nearby saw some oldies but goodies—Robert (Redfish), MikeJonesJr, and West Coast Dave (from Sacramento). Sitting by a tent were Bob (Side Stripe Chaser) and his wife Kim, next to them was Big Rich. Two poles away were Matt Shockley and a group he had brought down from Reno for the event. Peter (surf samurai) and V were there as was Phishnpat, Fin Prints and The Orion. Eventually James (GDude) would show up with his son Warren. Others, and I didn’t get all the names, were there and as said, the group would grow.

GDude — James Liu

To make a long story short, I had a great time even though I didn’t land any bat rays and though I was very, very cold. I did get to witness a great fight between Kim and a 49-pound bat ray, a fight that including crossed lines and bait buckets. People helped her out and made sure she was able to land a nice fish. They then made sure the fish was returned safely to the water. Soon after Bob landed a small bat ray but that was the extent of fish fights for me. My buddy Mike was freezing and asked if I minded leaving early and since I too was cold I said that it was OK. I would have liked to have been able to stay but had had the chance to meet everyone (I hope) and share a least a few hours at the pier.

Warren Liu

Mike and I headed back to the car at 9PM while Brian, Hans and James continued on with the derby, awards and raffle. I’ll have to leave the fuller report of this derby to Brian, Hans and Robert.

The number of caught mud marlin (bat rays) was low but this happy lady angler got one of them

Berkeley’s Master Angler Songslinger likes to say it’s all about the fish but I have to disagree. The Mud Marlin Derby is as much about the chance to see old friends, perhaps make a few new friends, and share a few hours in a sport we all love. For derbies such as this, and the Get Together at Catalina, the camaraderie of the group is as important as the fish.

I was TRYING to stay warm

Driving back to the motel in Oakland, Mike said he was amazed at the number of people at the event given the weather. He was also impressed at how the people worked together and the expertise evident in the group. Lastly, he was amazed at the equipment he saw at the event. Mike is a former Shimano representative, one who had the entire South American continent as his territory, and has seen and still has a lot of equipment. Like many he knew little about pier fishing until I got him interested. I had told him about the event—and the quality of our angers—but I think he didn’t really believe it until he saw it first hand.

 Big Rich and sidestripecatcher (Bob)

Big Rich and little old me

Sidestripeseeker (Bob) and a mud marlin

West Coast Dave

It got just a TAD BIT cold!


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