End of an Era for Venerable Long-Range Sport Fisher?

Qualifier 105

Qualifier 105

Better days: The Qualifer 105 looked every bit the great long-range sport fisher she was for so many years.courtesy Qualifer 105

Sad times for enthusiasts of long-range fishing out of San Diego. One of the grand dammes of the fabulous, unique long-range boats in the 100-foot-and-up range, the Qualifer 105 seems to have come unexpectedly to the end of its road — or waterway.

Apparently problems discovered in drydock earlier this month make it economically infeasible for skipper/owner John Klein to make repairs necessary to the aging sport-fishing boat.

Although as I write, none of this is spelled out in detail on the Q105's web site, there's plenty of chatter in regional fishing forums — and I know first hand that the Q105 isn't going anywhere, since my name was on the boat's roster for a fabulous week fishing northern Baja in June, a trip now cancelled.

So I'm one of many anglers disappointed not simply at having to try to make arrangements on another boat, but at not being able to join Klein on the Qualifier. The boat was one of the pioneers among purpose-built long-rangers with huge belowdecks live-bait tanks and freezers; and she was amazingly wide with rails low to the water, while offering a very stable ride. And she caught fish!

She was also the only long-ranger to offer unique skiff/kayak trips to the virtually unfished kelp beds and boiler rocks along the northern Baja coast, where big calico (kelp) bass, white seabass, yellowtail and halibut promised the sort of action that most enthusiasts of those near-shore species can only dream of.

Klein had developed a faithful following who’ll miss fishing with him on the venerable old gal of the long-range fleet. Like so many fans, I wish him well wherever his path leads.