FISHING : Veteran Fisherman Learned to Respect Ocean’s Might in Early Years of Life

For seven decades, Tom Murphy of Long Beach has been fishing from South Bay boats and piers.

Murphy, 74, is a former restaurateur and nightclub owner who has been fishing two times a week since 1970.

“I recall those summer days as a young boy fishing with a drop line and a single hook, sending the line down through the holes of the old Pine Avenue Pier and catching perch,” Murphy said.

He also said he spent his summer school vacations working at Catalina Island.


Murphy had one experience in 1936 that he said he will never forget. After fishing off Catalina aboard the boat Moonlight with 18 other anglers, the group started to return to Long Beach. Halfway home, the boat encountered 40-knot winds and 20-foot swells.

After battling through the storm for three hours, Capt. Jay Anderson finally brought the boat near port, only to discover that the Pine Avenue Pier had been destroyed by the storm.

There was no place to go to tie up and unload the fishermen and Anderson finally decided to ride the breakers to shore. Everyone managed to reach the shore safely.

Murphy has seen many changes in sportfishing throughout the years. The new generation of anglers prefers to toss jigs instead of using baited hooks.


In the early 1950s, Murphy said he caught tuna to 100 pounds off Catalina.

Captain Guy Ashley of the L.A. Harbor Sportfishing boat Pacifica said when Murphy goes on rock cod trips he uses a five-hook gannon instead of a heavy rock cod jig and often catches a limit of fish.

Murphy also spends several hours a week at recreation centers teaching boys and girls to tie hooks and make freshwater flies.

Murphy said he never keeps more fish than he needs and often gives extra fish to needy families.

He said he will continue to fish as long as he is able to turn a reel handle and remains in good health.

South Bay Catches--Alex Gonzales of Long Beach, fishing off Catalina Island aboard the Toronado, caught the whopper of the week, a 25-pound yellowtail.

Terry Sawa of West Los Angeles, fishing at the deep hole aboard the Sumo, caught an 18-pound lingcod.

Barney Grossman of Lomita, fishing aboard the Hitless Miss at Rocky Point, caught a 14-pound halibut.