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SPORTS WEEKEND | THE OUTDOORS

Wild Bill Spectacular Tops Southland Marlin Roundup

September 08, 2000|PETE THOMAS

You put in the time, eventually you're rewarded. Or so the saying goes.

But 14 striped marlin in one day?

Such a feat in local waters is almost unbelievable. In fact, it probably would be were it not for the reputation of the fishermen who accomplished it last Saturday off San Clemente Island, or for the dozens of witnesses who watched in awe as it was happening.

"Catching two makes for a good day; catching three makes it special. To catch 14 is simply unheard of," says Stan Ecklund Jr., in a report on his Web site, http://www.marlinnut.com.

In southern Baja it isn't, but in Southern California it certainly is--or was.

"We just thought we were due," says Bill Kingsmill, nonchalantly.

Kingsmill, 56, is owner and captain of the 36-foot sportfisher Wild Bill, which runs out of Dana Point. With him were his son, Jim, and Dave Herrera and Brian Schultz, all from the San Clemente area and all but Schultz die-hard anglers of considerable repute.

Team Kingsmill, as it is called, spends most of its summer weekends in the bluest water it can find, searching for signs of life but often trolling for hours over what often seems a desert ocean.

On Saturday, the desert sprang to life.

The four had anchored Friday night at San Clemente Island's Northwest Harbor, having received a tip from Doug Daniels aboard Pescador that there had been jumpers close to the nearby Mackerel Bank.

Before first light, Wild Bill was already patrolling. In the gray light of dawn, Jim Kingsmill, 34, a detective with the Westminster Police Department, spotted five "tailers" on the surface through his gyro-stabilized binoculars, an effective and necessary tool for serious fishermen.

Once the boat was in the area, two live mackerel were cast, both were bitten and one was promptly spat out and reeled in.

"We got the bait back on one and lost the other [marlin] after a couple of jumps," Kingsmill recalls. "At that point we looked at each other and said, 'What's going on?' "

It had been that kind of summer.

After losing the first two, Kingsmill piloted the vessel down swell and within 10 minutes they had a jig strike, and while that fish was being fought another was hooked on bait.

After those two fish were released, the lures were let out again. There were no takers, but lots of followers. Two more baits were cast, and two more hookups ensued.

"Basically, we were hooked up the rest of the day," Kingsmill says, adding that during one 3 1/2-hour battle, on 20-pound test line, between Herrera and a marlin estimated at 180-plus pounds, three other fish were hooked, two of them landed and one "sawed off" by a nearby vessel.

The marlin ranged from about 120 to 190 pounds.

"Then," Kingsmill says, "at the end of day I was sitting there, running the boat and I said, 'Time out!' I hadn't caught a fish yet because I had been running the boat all day.

"Well, within five minutes we spotted a bird fluttering over something and I threw a bait and released my marlin after about 30 minutes."

That was No. 14. The next-highest score--by mid-morning several boats were on the scene--was three marlin aboard No Excuses.

Says Ecklund: "In a lot of ways, these guys aboard Wild Bill are like Tiger Woods. Most of us are just going for second."

*

Second to nobody in a recent catch-and-release tournament off Kona, on the big island of Hawaii, was Team Humdinger, with noted captain Jeff Fay at the controls and Bakersfield's Jerry Scotton in the fighting chair.

Scotton enjoyed one of the best days of his life, catching five blue marlin in one day--including a 720-pounder--to rout the field.

Ken Corday, producer of the soap, "Days of Our Lives," sponsors the tournament every year to promote catch-and-release.

He told West Hawaii Today, "It was like pitching a shutout and hitting a grand slam home run in the same inning to blow everyone away."

KINGS OF THE HILL

If you're traveling to the Eastern Sierra this weekend, you might want to know that the five-member U.S. Olympic mountain bike team will be at Mammoth Mountain competing in the Chevy Trucks NORBA Championship Series finals.

Sydney-bound riders Alison Dunlap, Ruthie Matthes, Ann Trombley, Travis Brown and Tinker Juarez, making their last U.S. stop, will compete in cross-country, the Olympic discipline, today. Some might also compete in the short-track cross-country criterium-style event. A few international Olympians also will be on hand.

The four-day event also features downhill, hill climb and dual slalom competition. Details: (800) 626-6684.

GAME FOR THE GAMES

The pronghorn antelope of Arizona's grasslands won't win any medals, but they'll be stars in their own right during the Sydney Games.

The four-legged speedsters will be featured on Australian television, during the Olympics, on a program titled "Animal Olympians: Gold Medalists of the Animal Kingdom."

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