The annual Day At The Docks celebration put on by the San Diego Sportfishing Council, Port of San Diego and run by director Catherine Miller and assistant Vic Gamboa came off April 15 at the San Diego sportfishing landings almost without a hitch, as the awful weather front that rolled through the previous two days faded into a sunny memory. The temperature stayed in the 60’s, but out of the breeze and in sunlight it seemed nice and warm. With lectures and music going all day long, folks had a very good time.
Strong winds and heavy rains went through southern California and left only a light seabreeze for a lovely afternoon enjoyed by thousands of anglers, boaters, tourists and their families. All enjoyed the daylong sunshine and the huge variety of booths and displays offering everything from smoked turkey legs and smoothies to fine jewelry, art prints, clothing, tackle and games for the kids, who probably had the best time of all.
Kids ruled at the free fishing pens loaded with mackerel for the purpose of offering a chance for the short people to catch that all-important first fish. And were they ever biting! I watched for several minutes, and never saw a bait refused by the eager mackerel. There were a lot of happy faces on the inner dock wing at H&M being assisted in their first experience with hook and line. No doubt there were a lot of happy young mackerel, too, as they went back into the water with their compadres. The fish seemed to be waiting at the surface for a shot at just one more squid strip. It was an instant bite.
Harold Davis, Mike Lum and John Rowe made another huge group of kids happy on the big day, too. The spinning wheel of numbers paying off prizes was constantly razzing around, and you could see the luckiest kids walking around with their new tackle boxes, rods and reel and terminal tackle, grinning like they’d just taken a piece out of the lottery. So many moms and dads wielding camera phones were getting in on the action that the Friends of Rollo area was just as busy as the main aisles.
Apollo owner JJ Gerritsen’s boy Dylan showed ‘em how to dunk the skipper after dad bought a bucket of balls for Dylan and his sister Jessica, when he put one right on the button and sent Red Rooster III deckhand Tom Ferrari into the big barrel of chilly water. Skipper Andy Cates and second skipper Derek Waldron were on the spot helping the kids to reload and fire off a few more balls.
I saw a lot of old friends at this year’s Day At The Docks, which looked to have one of the best crowds in its 33-year history. Most manufacturers who do a lot of business with San Diego sportboats were on the scene, showing their latest products and telling their industry news. I was particularly pleased and proud to see long-time long ranger Brian Porter, a Seeker rep, looking trimmer that he has since his football days. Brian told me he’s lost nearly 100 pounds. He certainly looked it, and here’s hoping he lives to be a very old man as a result.
Many of the boats in San Diego’s varied fleet of long rangers, dayboats and charters were open for visiting by folks who wanted to see what it might be like to spend some time aboard. News that WON saltwater editor Brandon Hayward had picked up a yellowtail while fishing aboard the Malahini that morning circulated around the crowd. Turned out ten were caught that day.
“An old Newell 332 and the new Calstar MAG GG 90J put the Tady A1 in the right spot, and I managed to get my first local exotic of the year in the deep water outside Point Loma,” said Hayward, who thought a remarkable bite would be in the offing if the fish could ignore the half-pinkie-sized squid the fish are feeding on.
“Every year,” Hayward noted, WON does a surface iron seminar on the Malihini, and every year the trip has a horseshoe. This year was no exception, as seemingly out of nowhere we found ourselves throwing the iron at yellowtail off Point Loma. The fish were super squirrelly on Sunday, we only ended up with two, one on the Tady 9 yo-yo for Robert Groeber and one on the Tady A1 surface iron for me. But the show was incredible on three stops: puddling yellowtail that had little spots of squid and small bait pushed up high and dry while they slurped the small stuff off the 58 degree water.
There is a spread of fish from above the border up to La Jolla. It's on small squid--think half inch to an inch--and it's racing around under terns and gulls in the deep water. Hopefully this is the spring that the stuff pushes up and settles in on the kelp lines and structure spots from La Jolla to Dana Point. We're certainly overdue for some legit yellow fishing."
News of Brandon’s catch went around along with information that a 427-pound yellowfin had been weighed by a private boat.
Editor Pat McDonell blogged about the “…427.9-pound yellowfin caught late last week on the custom 60-foot sportfish yacht Journeyman, formerly the C-Bandit now owned by Robert Pedigo and captained by Russell O'Neil, returned to port at Puerto Vallarta from the ‘LOWER Lower Banks’ with four fish over 200, two over 300 and that monster of 427.9.”
Apparently the big tuna will not be eligible for an IGFA world record, since it was handled by more than one person. Still, it’s a whopper, a bull tuna, and there was talk of others just as large, available on the lower banks.
It all added to the buzz, and most anglers are now ready to start fishing in earnest. Fishermen shopping for new tackle at the Day At The Docks were happy as clams, since vendors with tackle and related gear were all over the place. Many were selling at “show special” rates, and fishermen were buying. Fisherman’s Landing tackle manager Doug Kern noted that folks were waiting with money in hand when the first registers cracked open. There’s nothing like news of biting fish, especially “keeper-sized” fish, to get the blood pumping in an angler’s veins, and nothing like a pleasant, sunny day to make for a successful, family-type celebration.