The summer fishing season is winding down, but the fish don't know it and local waters are teeming with life.
At Santa Catalina Island this week, some of the Southland's top billfish anglers celebrated the 75th birthday of one of Avalon's most beloved personalities with a marlin tournament in her honor.
During the Rosie 75, nine striped marlin were checked in and 17 were released. The contest, involving 16 teams, was won by those aboard the Gambler with a 231 1/2-pound striper.
They netted $42,000 and a portion of the proceeds went to the hospital in Avalon. But the real winner was Rose Cadman, the owner of Avalon Seafood who has lived on the island for 55 years and has been weighmaster for 34 years.
The Catalina Islander once dubbed her "the Grand Dame of Pleasure Pier." The contestants greeted her with long-stemmed roses in their rod holders and showered her with adoration during the post-tournament banquet.
"I'm still all bubbly over it," she said Wednesday morning, a day after the two-day event. "And I didn't even have much to drink, honest."
Rosie, as she is called by those who know her, keeps threatening to retire, move to Lake Havasu and leave her business in the hands of her children and grandchildren. The day she does will be a dark day in Avalon.
"But she'll always come back for this one," said Roger Cadman, her son and the tournament director. "This was the classiest tournament I've ever been associated with. We're going to hold it again next year."
The Rosie 75, however, will be the one Rosie will always remember.
"God gave me the strength and grace to be out there to weigh all those fish," she said. "I've been doing this for 34 years and I think that's why all the guys love me. I weighed their fish in front of their children, and now their children are coming in, weighing their fish in front of their own children."
For the record, Bill Miyagawa Jr. reeled in the winning marlin Tuesday, while Dick Peckham handled the boat. The second-place marlin weighed 200 1/2 pounds and the third-place fish tipped Rosie's scale at 180 pounds.
Marlin aren't the only big game making a splash. Football-sized tuna have crossed the border en masse and, when the full moon fully passes, perhaps a frenzy will ensue.
"There are football fields of yellowfin everywhere," said Philip Friedman of 976-TUNA, in a midweek e-mail update. "Combine the effects of the hurricane [Lane] with the heat wave [warming sea surface temperatures] and we could be sitting on a powder keg."
Norris Tapp, co-owner of Davey's Locker in Newport Beach, verifies: "It might be one mass movement of fish, but it's broken up and there are innumerable spots of them. There will be hundreds in one area, and another mile or two away there will be another 100."
On Thursday, the powder keg exploded for those aboard the Freelance out of Davey's Locker. They boated 145 tuna--the jackpot was a 38-pounder--in several areas near the east end of Catalina. Other scores ranged from 10 to 40 fish.
Meanwhile, anglers aboard San Diego-based overnight vessels encountered huge schools of yellowfin and albacore Thursday just south of Ensenada, which is an indication that even more tuna are northward-bound.
Is a scuba-diving trip to Malaysia in your future? If so, watch out for the sharks. They're disguised as members of the Abu Sayyaf and especially dangerous out of the water.
The Muslim extremist group, which kidnapped 21 tourists and staff at Sipadan Island Resort in April, released its four remaining Western hostages this week after receiving more ransom from Libya.
The South African and European divers spent four months of hell--"and you don't know what a hell it was," one of them said--after being rounded up at gunpoint and whisked by speedboat to a remote jungle camp on the neighboring Philippine island of Jolo.
The same group struck again Sunday night, kidnapping the manager of Semporna Island Resort, a local dive master and a local contractor. Now they're believed to be on Jolo, and nobody knows when or even if they'll be released.
The latest incident isn't altogether surprising, considering that the Abu Sayyaf, seeking an independent Muslim state in southeast Philippines, reportedly received $1 million per hostage release from Libya. Libya has been hoping to boost its image with what it calls "a humanitarian effort" but instead seems to have sparked a kidnapping free-for-all.
Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities are coming under fire, rightly so, for their inability to protect citizens and tourists from terrorists.
Hawaii has all sorts of water sports. The latest craze is kite surfing, whereby you climb atop your surfboard, hang onto a line attached to a giant kite and hang on for a wild ride over a wind-swept sea.
Of course, not everyone is crazy with joy. The kites can be 18 feet long, with lines stretching 100 feet or more. You let go of one of these, there's no telling where it will land or whom it might hit.