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>> Just born a hundred years too late [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:55 pm
Ken Jones

Posts: 9789
Location: California

Take Tons Of Fish By Reel
Big Yellowtail Stacked at Redondo Beach

Excitement was perched on a hair-trigger at Redondo Beach yesterday by one of the most phenomenal runs of yellowtail ever seen in southern waters.
Not only were there plenty of the big fish, but there were millions of them. The waters around the wharves fairly swarmed with them. Out beyond the wharves the sea was fully alive with them for more than a mile.
At daybreak the cry of “yellowtail” rang through the downtown district of this town like a clarion calling troopers to war. The response was immediate. There was a rush for the wharves which were already well strewn with big yellow fellows that had been brought to gaff after fights such as for gameness and generalship in the water are only surpassed by battles with tuna.
By 9 o’clock the wharves were lined with a forest of poles. The whole town had gotten the “yellowtail” fever by this time. Those who were unable to find room to cast, and there were hundreds of them, crowded the wharves all day and witnessed a miniature battle of Santiago, as hundreds of the big fish were putting up fights which made some of the old-time fishermen begin to think they had hooked Jack Johnson.
Twelve Hundred Caught—The record for the day, of fish accounted for, is 1202. Of these 294 were caught on wharf No. 1; 154 on No. 2; 326 on No. 3, and 429 in skiffs around the wharves. The fish weighed between seventeen to twenty-nine pounds each. Averaging them at twenty pounds each, the total weight of yesterday’s catch was 24,040 pounds, or more than twelve tons. Of this enormous catch, which undoubtedly breaks some records, each fish was caught on a hook and line...
The afternoon found nearly every business house in the city “gone fishing.” Even the schoolteachers could just as well have enjoyed the sport for all that was doing at roll call.
W. T. Maddex, superintendent of the Los Angeles and Redondo Railway, whose Olympian Jove is a scientific yellowtail—one of those able-bodied fellows with a pull like a ward heeler, was absent from his office all day. To Maddex the singing of a reel is as sweet as the music of Aeolian harps, and the final gaffing, an honor shared by only chesty Toreador. His catch was four which averaged twenty-four pounds. At sundown he was still on the wharves admiring the big catches and making estimates on today’s crop.
This Woman Scientific—To Mrs. W. J. Bell belongs the honor of the most scientific catches of the day. She brought to gaff three yellowtail with an eight-ounce rod and an eighteen-thread line.
W. C. Eckert, a tourist from St. Louis, enjoyed the sport and went home with seven of the largest sized ones to his credit. He says the run was the largest he had seen in the forty years he has been indulging in the rod and reel sport. His fish ranged from eighteen to twenty-eight pounds.
The record-breaking run of fish is attributed to recent storms at sea and the presence of phosphorescence in the waters at several other points on the south coast. Not only are the big fish in evidence, but the neighboring waters are fairly alive with anchovies, sardines, and schools of small mackerel, and the big fish always follow these smaller fish upon which they feed.
Three years ago this month there was a large run of the same kind of fish, and at that time Redondo Beach was the seat of excitement. The run of yesterday, however, surpassed that of three years ago, as there seems to be no letup, and today’s catches will probably equal those of yesterday. The only letup of the sport yesterday occurred in the afternoon when a large seal joined in the sport, and, after getting his fill, started off toward the beach row where he has been “at home” for the past three months…
A feature of the fishing yesterday was the fact that there was an endless quantity of fishing tackle which could be rented for the entire day for 25 cents for an outfit, which price did not prevent those in small circumstances from joining the sport. Those who employed the cheap tackles were as fortunate in landing the big fish as the expert with his high-priced outfit…
It was not at all uncommon yesterday for a man who had just caught a large yellowtail to offer it in even exchange for a live bait, meaning a mackerel five or six inches long…
Charles McGwyre and Dudley Wright, fishing for halibut on wharf No. 1, landed 49, the largest of which weighed 17 pounds.
Hindus from the British steamer Iran launched the life boats and replenished their larder with about 1000 pounds of the fish, which they salted for a “rainy day.”
Late last night the wharves were lined with fishermen, many of whom camped through the night in order to make sure of a berth when the battle is resumed this morning.
Practically all of yesterday’s catches from the wharves were with rod-and-reel tackle. This is in marked contrast with the hand lines almost exclusively in use only a few years ago. Then the fishermen used an iron weight which, after letting out eight or ten feet of line, he would swing around his head in a circle till the acquired momentum was sufficient to throw the weight and attached hook out from the wharf.
—Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1910

Redondo Beach, Dec. 8.—Contrary to all previous records and far exceeding expectations of the most optimistic anglers, the big run of yellowtail which begun a week ago, still continues, and today was better than ever. So far the sport has been contained to wharf No. 3, where a motley crowd of men and women, Japanese, Chinese and negroes, elbow each other in a good-natured contest for advantageous positions. One of the sights is this morning’s assemblage was an old grandmother who has passed her 70th birthday, holding a month-old baby on her lap, while she dropped her line in the hopes of landing one of the big fellows. The fish run in somewhat even sizes, ranging from twenty-five to thirty-five pounds each. Last Sunday over 200 were landed, and today’s catch promises to far exceed that number. Most of the catch are made with light tackle, and several small boys are fast becoming wealthy furnishing live bait for the eager anglers.
—Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1910

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:11 am

Posts: 35
Location: Orange County

Amazing story as always.

Although, I'm starting to think... Is it possible that we're still getting similar amounts of these fish in our waters, but they're just being caught before they can get to the shore line?

As impressive as 1200 yellowtail being caught in a single day is, it doesn't seem to be an every day affair, and what I've noticed is that both of these reports are from later in the year - September and December, which is not generally the height of the yellowtail season today.

It could be that the reason there were so many yellowtail at the shore line, back in the day, was because they were subject to much less boat fishing pressure, and were consequently able to exhaust all the food supply at the offshore islands, after which they had no choice but to go push bait at the beaches, which led to them being caught by pier and shore fishermen later in the year.

When you look at the counts from sport boats today, it seems to be very high still. As of the middle of 2017, there has already been around 30,000 yellowtail caught by sport boats, and probably double or triple that by private boats. By the end of the year I expect that to double, so we're talking in the range of 200,000 yellowtail being caught in 2017.

Suddenly, 1200 yellowtail caught in a day doesn't seem such a surprise, when there's hundreds of thousands of hungry fish running around. Yellowtail, after all, are not a resident fish but a fish that travels many miles up and down the coast for food. It's likely that the yellowtail being caught at the pier and along the shore had come from offshore grounds, where back in the day there was not nearly enough pressure to catch them all before they make it to the beach.

It's not to say we have as many fish as a hundred years ago, but it could explain why shore fishing is so much worse today while large quantities of fish are still being caught by boats.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:49 am
Ken Jones

Posts: 9789
Location: California

The one thing I've been intending to check is records on El Nino back in those days. Typically you get these El Nino warm-water events at least once a decade and they often last more than a year. The high yellowtail couts we have had the past couple of years are undoubtedly due to the warm water.

However, the Redondo and Newport piers were fairly unique in the number of yellowtail due, in good part, to their location next to submarine canyons and deeper water at those piers than most piers.

I do think much of it is due to the greater number of baitfish in those days—anchovies, sardines and jacksmelt. There were tremendous schools of those fish but the gill netters really decreased their numbers by the 1920s and by that time most of the really "big" yellowtail days were over. I've long said the DF&G did a terrible job in regulating what the commercial fisheries were allowed to take.

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