RETURN OF THE KELPFISH HATERS CLUB
|Small Catalina kelpfish|
Catalina Island has Chrystal clear water. You can see the bottom from 30 foot depths and with a looking glass device placed in the water the ocean becomes your own giant aquarium.
Fishing in these conditions is very interesting. You can actually watch the fish look at, sniff, ignore or take your bait. When we were moored in a cove on the island, my brother Chris and I often fished off the stern of the boat. We hoped to catch some of the larger fish we saw, especially a large multicolored grouper type fish we called a sheepshead.
We generally used pieces of rock lobster or chunks of abalone which were leftover’s from dinner. The rock lobster and abalone were caught skin diving by my oldest brother Jim and my dad. Like I said, this place was an island paradise.
While fishing from the stern of the boat, my brother and I could watch the fish ignore or take the bait. The sheepshead were cautious and before they would take the hook, kelpfish would come in and steal the bait. Kelpfish were skinny little brown fish that were plentiful, voracious, and difficult to catch but they were good at stealing the bait. They were not tasty and we did not want to catch them. We actually tried to pull the hook away from them when they came to the bait, but still they sometimes grabbed the hook.
Kelpfish were virtually all we would catch. The sheepshead were interested, but the sight of a hooked kelpfish would make them too wary to go for the bait. Chris and I hated the kelpfish.
We started the “Kelpfish Hater’s Club.”
As members of the club, when we did catch a kelpfish, we cut it up and threw it back as chum. In retrospect, this was not very nice. Hey, we were young and we hated kelpfish.
We left California and returned to the east coast in 1955. I don’t think my brother and I ever fished together again.
Last year, I posted my “Bucket List,” ten things I want to do before I kick it http://joeh-crankyoldman.blogspot.com/2014/12/bucket-list.html. I think I have completed two of ten.
The very first item on the list was to catch a billfish. This is a pretty unlikely item to complete as chartering a boat in an area where there are billfish to catch is a little out of my financial comfort range.
It is within my brothers comfort range. Chris has done well financially, thanks to hard work, brains and a passion for the law.
Now my brother is not a spendthrift, in fact in many ways he is quite thrifty. I was once with him while he made a small purchase and the cashier shortchanged him by one cent. He told the cashier of the error and while they were sorting out the transaction an impatient lady behind us butted in and said,
“What difference does it make, it is only a penny!”
Chris calmly turned to her and said, “The difference is it is my penny!”
(I love that story!)
Anyway, though he is thrifty, Chris is also generous and when he does do something, he does it right. Not long ago Chris called me up and said he remembered my bucket list.
“In March Chris (his oldest) and I are going to Costa Rico. We’re chartering a boat and fishing for sailfish. If you can make it, I want to see you cross one thing off your bucket list, and if he can get the time Mike (my oldest) is invited as well.”
So in March, we will reconvene the “Kelpfish Haters Club” with two new members. I hope we do not catch any kelpfish. Any sailfish we catch will be released intact, unlike the kelpfish of days gone by.
Needless to say, I am very excited, because in March,
We Be Gone Fishing!