FISHING NOTES : For Rock Cod Anglers, Betty O Is an Oldie, but a Goodie

Anglers take a step into history when they board the Betty O, known as the rock cod special, which operates out of Marina del Rey Sportfishing.

The Betty O was built in Wilmington at the William Muller boat yard and launched in 1924.

It was christened Betty O in honor of Betty Oldfield, the granddaughter of William K. Wrigley, the owner of the Catalina Island Company.

Muller had the distinction of having built every boat for the Wrigley Company in the 1920s and '30s.

The Betty O had a three-cylinder engine with only 16 horsepower located in the bow. It made excursions around the island and to the isthmus until 1937.

Joe Guion of Avalon, who worked on the flying fish tour, said: "The Betty O's skipper was Al MacDonald, who was quite a boatman. The boat had an almost direct reverse and could turn fast when docking."

He remembers one time MacDonald was bringing the boat into the pier pretty fast and then threw the boat into reverse, as he always did. This time, his boss--Wrigley--was standing on the pier. The engine died and the Betty O went between the pier piling. Wrigley just walked away.

The Betty O was sold in 1937, had its top observation deck removed and was converted to a sportfishing boat that made trips from Long Beach and San Pedro.

Owner-operator Jack Ward fished it until 1966, when it was sold to Marina del Rey Sportfishing, and has become a year-round rock cod fishing boat.

John Ferrell has skippered it most of the 24 years it has been at Marina del Rey.

Oliver Burness, 93, of Santa Monica, fishes once a week on the Betty O and said the exercise of bringing cod from the depths helps keep him fit, as does the fish in his diet.

Dr. Paul Reinsch of Pacific Palisades said he fishes on the Betty O every Wednesday instead of playing golf.

Ed Henhart of Culver City is also a once-a-week rock cod fisherman and said he can catch a limit on most trips.

The Betty O runs Tuesday through Sunday, fishing the rock reefs from depths of 100 to 600 feet.

Mike Thomas of Santa Monica returned from fishing at Punta Colorado, Mexico, where he caught his first marlin.

Thomas said he landed the 130-pound striped marlin after a 25-minute fight. He also caught his first rooster fish that weighed 45 pounds.

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