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Answering the marlin’s call

Writer Zane Grey with a record swordfish he caught off Catalina Island in 1926. (
Kindred spirits
Bill Von Henkle keeps a hawk-eyed watch for billfish off San Clemente Island. He’s fished Southern California waters for half a century, a lifelong pursuit that also captured writer Zane Grey. (Ricardo DeAratanha / LAT)
Open waters
A gibbous moon glints off the San Diego coast after the end of the two-day Master Angler’s Billfish Tournament, where across 1,000 square miles between San Clemente Island and Carlsbad, sport-fishing clubs pick the spot to drop their lines for the chance at bragging rights as the top angler of the year. According to historians, the quest for big-game billfish began in Southern California a century ago. (Ricardo DeAratanha / LAT)
Down time
As a billfisherman, Von Henkle, 68, has plenty of time to sit and ruminate. He caught his first marlin as a child and hasn’t stopped fishing since. (Ricardo DeAratanha / LAT)
In step
Wren holds the jig and leader as Von Henkle hooks a mackerel. Between the two, they’ve logged almost 100 years of casting rod and reel. (Ricardo DeAratanha / LAT)
Early birds
The Wrens’ Nest crew, Bill Von Henkle, left, and skipper Bill Wren, leave Mission Bay at the break of dawn on the second day of the tournament, eager to score a hit before the “lines out” call at 6 p.m. (Ricardo DeAratanha / LAT)