First Marlin of Year Caught Off Catalina

Rick Macklin knew he had hooked into something special the minute his line started screaming from his reel.

Macklin was fishing last Saturday with two brother-in-laws aboard his boat Popeye off the east end of Santa Catalina Island when the fish struck his lure and high-tailed it to the high seas.

It was a large striped marlin that, if successfully landed, would be the first marlin caught in California this year. It’s a distinction local marlin fishermen strive for.

The only problem was, neither of Macklin’s companions had fished for marlin or driven a boat with state-of-the-art electronics. When Macklin grabbed the rod, Kevin Klatt took the helm. But the boat was on auto-pilot, and Klatt had no idea how to turn it off.


When he finally found the switch and turned the boat toward the fleeing fish, the marlin had taken almost all the 30-pound-test dacron line from Macklin’s spool.

“He was on top of the water,” Macklin said of the jumping billfish, “and he was not happy.”

Klatt managed to turn the boat and give chase, Macklin gaining line along the way.

A little more than an hour after the hookup, Macklin had the fish alongside the boat. Kim Klatt grabbed the leader, and Macklin stuck the striper with a gaff.


Macklin, 47, of Huntington Harbour, secured the fish on the swimstep and set a course for the pier in Avalon. After a victory lap inside the harbor, he registered his fish at Avalon Seafood. It weighed in at 189 1/2 pounds.

“I’m a member of Avalon Tuna Club, the Southern California Tuna Club and Huntington Harbour Anglers, so I’ve got a lot of hardware coming to me,” Macklin said of the trophies he will receive for his achievement.


Macklin might have landed the first marlin of the year, but on the same day he was struggling with his, another Orange County angler was involved in a deep-sea battle with a slightly larger but much stronger foe.


Bill Von Henkle, 57, of Newport Beach, hooked into a 204-pound broadbill swordfish while en route home from San Clemente Island.

Von Henkle battled the fish for more than two hours before bringing it alongside the boat. The crew managed to subdue the powerful fish, but not before it smashed some of the glass on the boat with a whack of its sturdy bill.

“It was like arm wrestling for two hours,” Von Henkle said of the fight.

Like Macklin, Von Henkle is an experienced angler. But often, experience is no match for a swordfish, considered by many the most powerful fish in the world.


“I’ve hooked 44 and caught eight,” Von Henkle said. “One of them I fought for 22 hours and another I fought for 16 hours.”

He didn’t win either fight.


Closing item in Monday’s Wavefax, a Surfline/Wavetrak newsletter: “A small white shark was captured just off La Jolla last week and is now being watched over at Sea World. It makes you wonder if Mama is nearby . . . “


Mama may not be, but one of Surfline’s reporters was chased out of the water Monday morning while surfing off the Del Mar River mouth by a shark estimated at 6 feet-plus.

“He was still looking very pale this afternoon,” Sean Collins at Surfline said in the fax. “See ya out there.”


Albert C. Taucher, a longtime member and three-time president of the California Fish and Game Commission, died last week after a lengthy illness.


Taucher, appointed to the commission in 1983 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian, was an avid outdoorsman and very popular among his co-commissioners. “His insight, concern for the rights of anglers and hunters, and good humor were noteworthy at commission meetings for more than a decade,” said Robert Treanor, executive director of the commission. “He will be missed by commission members and staff.”

Private services for Taucher were held this week.


SAN DIEGO LONG-RANGE--The overnight fleet is still hurting for fish, while those aboard the three- and four-day boats are finding all they can handle. Small yellowfin tuna are making up most of the catches, but big bluefin are providing most of the bulk. An angler aboard the Spirit of Adventure landed a bluefin weighing 174.3 pounds. Brett Rubin of Malibu, fishing aboard the Vagabond, caught five bluefin weighing 100 pounds or more, the largest a 131-pounder. Most of the fish are still at least 200 miles southwest of the landings, well out of range of the overnight fleet.


CABO SAN LUCAS--Blue marlin are increasingly active, though few are of noteworthy size. Dockmaster Mario Bonaga spent a day on the Tracy Ann with relatives from Tijuana and they experienced a triple hookup with a blue marlin, striped marlin and sailfish, all of which were released. After that, they boated a 176-pound yellowfin tuna. Yellowfin and dorado are extremely abundant, keeping action off Land’s End at a maximum.

FLY FISHING--Author Dick Talleur is making the circuit next week, giving presentations for the Downey Fly Fishers Tuesday, details: (714) 952-3552; the Pasadena Casting Club Aug. 10, details: (818) 449-1152, and the Conejo Valley Fly Fishers Aug. 11, details: (805) 496-7332.

MISCELLANY--Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute will break ground Thursday in Carlsbad for an experimental fish hatchery that will be capable of producing 400,000 juvenile fish annually. The new hatchery is expected to be operational by the spring of 1995. The facility will be the first marine hatchery dedicated to the enhancement of depleted species. White sea bass, giant sea bass and halibut are among such species. . . . Quail Unlimited’s Snake Break ’94, a clinic designed to “snake-proof” hunting dogs, will be held Saturday and Sunday in Norco. Details: (909) 735-0136.