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September 28, 2009

West Coast Striped Marlin

Migrating marlin challenge SoCal anglers

At the pinnacle, Badsey began scanning the horizon for birds and studying the depth recorder for baitballs. The ocean seemed listless as a marine layer spread slowly across the sky. The water-temperature gauge hovered around 67, a tad cool.

Bretza and Hawthorne began deploying lures such as the pink angel Mosquito softhead and lumo Dojo Peche stiff-rigged on a 150-pound mono leader over a single Pakula 30 mm light-wire hook, plus  a spreader bar called the Digger from the port side. Bretza rigged a pink Witch Doctor mirrored teaser to run off the starboard transom. His spread included:

• Pakula 8-inch Mosquito softhead (frigate color), Catalina rod with a Titus Gold TG 30 II (starboard outrigger)
• Pakula 8-inch Mosquito softhead (pink angel color), Okuma Tournament rod with a Titus Gold TG 50 II (starboard flat)
• Pakula 7 1/2-inch Cockroach Hot Head (lumo color), Oceanic rod with a Cavalla 30 II (port flat)
• Pakula 8-inch Zipper softhead (evil angel color), Convector rod with a Tiburon 30-80 (port rigger)

All trolling reels were spooled with 50- to 60-pound-test mono and rigged with a 15-foot leader of 150-pound Momoi attached by a snap swivel to the main line.

Badsey switched off one of the Suzuki 225s to clean up the trolling lanes and pull the lures at about 6 to 7 mph. Trolling speed, he says, is relative to the wind and sea conditions, the direction of the waves, the currents and the feeding patterns of the baitballs and marlin.

Moments later, he sang out: "Breaking fish! It's a feeder!" as a dark dorsal and tail emerged from the sea. But just as quickly, our hopes sank as the body of a pilot whale emerged above the waves.

Badsey then trolled to the 125 area but couldn't find water warmer than 67 degrees. Sea-surface temperature charts he had studied the night before showed warmer water along the backside of Catalina, but a chill had set in and concern grew over whether the fish had pushed south.