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FISHING : Boy With Fishing Pole Discovered Dream Life 60 Years Ago

July 06, 1989

It started six decades ago for sportfishing Capt. Don McLean.

McLean, 68, who was raised in Long Beach, said that as a boy he fished on the Long Beach Pier at the foot of Pine Avenue. From that time he knew he wanted to be a professional fisherman, and as a teen-ager the opportunities in the ocean-fishing industry were promising.

His first job was on a commercial fishing boat that kept him away from home 300 days a year.

In 1950, after several years on commercial tuna boats, McLean decided he would try party-boat fishing and worked on charter boats to gain the experience needed to obtain a license.

In 1952 he was granted his first operator's license and was hired at Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach running half-day and all-day boats.

When three luxury boats were built he was given the 65-foot Freedom that made Catalina Island and albacore runs.

When Pierpoint closed, McLean ran the Catalina boat out of the old Catalina Terminal at the foot of Avalon Boulevard in Wilmington.

In 1972 he purchased the Victory, a 75-foot sportfisher that was in the Pierpoint fleet and operated out of Queen's Wharf in Long Beach.

What was the largest fish ever caught on a boat he ran? McLean recalled: "It was 1953 when I was the skipper of the Islander out of Pierpoint. First-time angler Harry Merick caught a 550-pound black sea bass that was legal to catch in those days."

What does the future hold for sportfishing? He said: "It will always be here if the gill netters, who of course have to make a living, also would change their methods about the take of small fish."

Sportfishing is like farming, he said--"You have to be there when the crop of fish is there."

McLean is credited with discovering a rock at the west end of Catalina that has been named Freedom Rock for the abundance of fish there in the winter.

In 1987 he sold the Victory to George Xenio.

McLean says that many of the young captains operating sportfishing boats today came up from the ranks of deckhands who he and fellow veterans Cookie Cook, 72, and Russ Izor, 66, have trained to find fish.

McLean said he will run Long Beach sportfishing boats as a relief skipper rather than retire.

"I would miss the excitement of fishing stories from my friends who, when they fish with me, put signs on their doors that say, 'Gone fishing with Don.' "

SOUTH BAY NOTES:

Bob Perley of Torrance, fishing at Catalina aboard the Indian, caught the whopper of the week, a 32-pound halibut.

Tony Babajko of San Pedro, aboard the Freedom at Catalina, won the jackpot with a 28 1/2-pound white sea bass.

Charles Broach of Long Beach, on the Toronado at Catalina, caught an 18-pound yellowtail using a jig cut with squid.

Rick East of Manhattan Beach, fishing aboard the Sea Spray drifting at Twin Roads, caught a 17-pound halibut.

Sportsfishing: A shortage of anchovies over the Fourth of July weekend failed to halt the sand bass and barracuda action as anglers used jigs and scampi.

The white sea bass bite slowed at Catalina. Calico bass and barracuda made up most of the catches.

At Marina Del Rey Sportfishing: The Spitfire fished the bay and anglers caught 230 calico bass and 15 bonito.

The Happyman on two half-day trips returned with 165 calico bass and 135 sand bass.

The Betty O rock cod trip to the deep rocks had a catch of 225 reds.

At Redondo Sportfishing: The Sea Spray fished Rocky Point and anglers sacked 255 calico bass, 58 bonito, 14 barracuda and one white sea bass.

The Redondo Special, on a half-day trip to Rocky Point, returned with 245 calico bass, 42 bonito and one white sea bass.

The Blackjack tried Catalina and anglers caught a limit of barracuda, plus 296 bonito and 32 calico bass.

The mack attack continued at the barge Isle of Redondo over the weekend, with 4,760 mackerel plus 84 bonito and 23 barracuda caught.

At 22nd Street Landing: The First String worked Catalina and chalked up 320 barracuda, 22 bonito and one white sea bass.

The Monte Carlo took a twilight trip to the flats and anglers sacked 299 sand bass, plus barracuda.

At L.A. Harbor Sportfishing: The Sportking fished the flats and found a wide-open sand bass bite, with 340 sacked plus 75 sculpin.

The Matt Walsh twilight trip resulted in 301 sand bass, 25 sculpin and one halibut.

The Outerlimits fished Catalina and anglers returned with 189 calico bass and one yellowtail.

The Annie B barge had a weekend total of 1,107 mackerel, 151 kingfish, two halibut and one sculpin.

At Long Beach Sportfishing: The Victory worked Catalina and anglers limited out with 661 barracuda and 11 bonito.

The Chieftain fished Catalina for 96 bonito, 94 barracuda and 32 calico bass.

The Toronado tried Catalina and anglers chalked up 315 barracuda, 46 calico bass and 26 bonito.

The Aztec worked Catalina for 117 barracuda, 38 calico bass and 28 bonito.

The Southern Cal on a twilight trip to the rigs caught 126 sand bass and 11 barracuda.

At Belmont Pier: The Explorer fished Horseshoe Kelp and anglers landed 390 barracuda and 65 calico bass.

VALLEY NOTES:

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