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Fishing Show Fans Do Know Him From Adam

He was as savvy as they come in his role as Pete Malloy, a veteran officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, patrolling the streets with his novice partner.

And for eight seasons, from 1968-75, Martin Milner and Kent McCord (as officer Jim Reed) helped make “Adam 12" one of the most popular television series of its time.

But as savvy as Milner was, on or off the screen, even he had no idea that a show that brought him so much fame would eventually land him a role he never dreamed of playing: as host of the Southland’s most popular weekend fishing radio show.

“Let’s Talk Hook-up,” which airs Saturdays and Sundays from 6-8 a.m. on XTRA 690, is celebrating its 10th year on the air and serving an estimated weekly audience of 50,000. And at least part of its success has to do with Milner, 70, who has been on board for the last eight years.

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“Marty is the guy who adds the color--he’s the John Madden of fishing,” says Pete Gray, 46, Milner’s co-host, who created the show and shaped a format that features experts within the fishing industry, who respond to the inquiries of call-in listeners.

Over lunch recently in Solana Beach, near Milner’s home in La Costa, he said that he met Gray through his friend, Bob Marriott, owner of an Orange County fly-fishing store and travel center, who was invited to be a guest on the show.

Since Marriott and Milner had fished together in Costa Rica and Russia, Marriott asked Milner to join him. Milner agreed, and the next step was taken by Gray.

“I lived for ‘Adam 12' when I was a kid. That was totally my era,” Gray said. “When he came in, I was so awed by him, but I figured, ‘What the heck, I’ll ask if he wants to be my partner.’ And to my surprise, he said OK.”

For Milner, who was still doing some acting, it seemed an ideal way to ease into retirement.

Gray, an avid fisherman then doubling as a sales manager for a Carlsbad radio station, would line up guests, plan each week’s show and sell all the spots. All Milner had to do was show up each week, provide a little humor and insight, and collect a paycheck. And there were some attractive perks--mainly free tackle and travel.

The decision was easy. After all, Milner had always loved the sport. He took his rod and reel whenever he went touring with a play. While filming “Route 66" ( playing Tod Stiles) and later “Adam 12,” he worked only six months of the year, so he had ample time to visit such Eastern Sierra hot spots as Crowley Lake and the Upper Owens River.

He relished the freshwater fishing experience, casting amid the splendor of the great outdoors. He could talk about it for hours.

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But it didn’t take long for Milner to realize that he had jumped in over his head. The radio show, which originally was meant to cover a wide range of topics, took on an almost exclusively saltwater flavor.

“When I first started, I had to get educated on a whole bunch of different subjects,” Milner recalled. “I remember the first time I heard the expression ‘salami bait’ and I said to myself ... ‘Are these people actually fishing with salamis?”’

They weren’t, of course. A “salami bait” is a large mackerel used to catch very large tuna.

Though Gray and his guests field most of the technical questions, Milner is able to provide some answers as well.

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He knows that kite fishing is a means of more effectively presenting the bait. He can talk at length about the latest high-speed reels and graphite rods--he probably has several in his closet.

More than likely, he knows something the other famous radio personality at XTRA doesn’t: that a clone is not necessarily a listener trying to sound like the host; it’s also a hook-less lure designed to bring game fish closer to the boat.

Indeed, over the years the versatile Milner, while still preferring the use of light tackle when knee-deep in a clear-running stream, has adapted well to the high-tech world of big-game saltwater fishing.

Or so it seems anyway. It could all be an act.

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Gray Whale Days

* A good start: Whale-watching season officially began Wednesday and experts are predicting a fairly typical southbound migration of California gray whales.

Which would be anything but typical of the past few seasons.

Last season, an early thaw in the Bering and Beaufort seas resulted in a late start and somewhat sporadic winter migration of the mammals to Baja California’s lagoons. Perhaps because of harsh conditions in those feeding grounds during the previous two seasons, there were fewer pregnant whales last season and scores of undernourished whales. Strandings on beaches were numerous and dozens of whales perished.

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This season, “We’re set up for a more typical migration and even for a possible baby boom,” said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, an American Cetacean Society researcher, citing more favorable conditions.

Schulman-Janiger, director of the Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project, a volunteer observer program conducted from Point Vicente atop the Palos Verdes Peninsula, said that by 9 a.m. Thursday, 25 gray whales had been counted and all of them appeared to be well-fed and in good health. The number, she said, “is a little above what we were seeing last year” and Northern California numbers also are up.

* Volunteers needed: The census project is asking for volunteers, especially during afternoon hours. The rewards are obvious: Sightings this young season have included “many thousands” of common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, one minke whale and one sperm whale. Details: (310) 519-8963.

* In the company of killers: Reached aboard the Condor at noon Thursday, Capt. Ron Hart said that 18 passengers--on the vessel’s first trip of the season--had yet to see any gray whales but were hardly disappointed as they experienced “close and cuddly” encounters with two orcas, or killer whales, between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands.

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“They came over and were playing off the bow of our boat, feeding on the entrails of a seal or sea lion they had killed,” Hart said.

* Condor’s last days: The whale-watching days are numbered for the 88-foot Condor, which for years has run out of Sea Landing in Santa Barbara. The vessel is being sold and moved to San Diego, where it will be used for multi-day fishing trips. It will be replaced by the 75-foot Condor Express, an aluminum jet-powered catamaran that can cruise at 30 knots with as many as 100 passengers in six-foot seas. The Condor Express, which will cut travel time to Santa Cruz Island from 21/2 hours to 45 minutes, is expected to be running by the end of February.

Return of the Longfin

Sporadic albacore catches this week south of San Diego have renewed interest in the popular tuna, despite the calendar. They also have prompted some of the more serious fishermen to spend New Year’s Day trying to become the first of the year to catch one.

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“It used to be on or around July 4 when we see the first [sportfishing] albacore of the year caught, but now we’re looking at Jan. 1, and the catches this week leave little doubt that this will happen,” predicted Philip Friedman of 976-TUNA, a hotline and Web site (https://www.976tuna.com) that tracks recreational catches of tuna and other game fish.

Friedman said that anglers running from Ensenada have caught a dozen or so albacore during the last several days in an area 65-70 miles southwest of San Diego, easily within reach of most boats.

Irvine Feels the Power

Irvine Lake last week stocked its first load of rainbow trout from Calaveras Trout Farm on the Merced River, and the fish seem to have responded well to their new environment. Several have been caught in recent days.

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Irvine’s marketing staff has dubbed their new fish “Power Trout” because of their sleek bodies and broad tails.

“These fish are combat trained and the good thing is that they were not at all traumatized [by their delivery],” lake spokesman Ronnie Kovach said. “They’ve been putting on quite an aerial show, and pulling drag and everything.”

Kovach is quite the promoter. But what really adds a new dimension to the Irvine Lake fishery are the brown and brook trout that will be added to future Calaveras deliveries.

A “sampling” of both species went in with the first load of rainbows on Dec. 20--and a sampling of both also came out on the hook. In fact, a 31/2-pound brook trout caught on a night crawler by lake regular Bob Miller was the first brookie ever to be landed at Irvine. The top brown trout was a 41/2-pounder, caught on a Rapala by Randy Mindoro of Studio City.

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The biggest Power Trout for the week is a 71/2-pounder caught on chartreuse Power Bait by Steve Hathaway of Anaheim.

Winding Up

Wahine magazine, which publisher Marilyn Edwards claims to have “led women’s surfing out of the dark ages,” is ceasing publication after seven years, citing a shrinking ad base. Edwards said Wahine Inc. will maintain its brand and focus on expansion through Internet, merchandise and entertainment licensing. Edwards did not rule out an eventual relaunch of the magazine.


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