April 30, 2012
The angler's name wasn't Santiago nor did he have a giant marlin on the end of his line, but Anthony Pinner can certainly relate to Hemingway's great tale as he and his kayak were taken on a ride by a giant sea bass he hooked near Southern California's San Clemente Island.
Paul Friedman reports that Pinner was a part of a group of dozen kayakers that hitched a ride aboard Ricky Perez's Black Pearl to fish Pyramid Cove, one of many hot spots anglers like to frequent among the Channel Islands.
Perez noticed three of the kayaks were at least a mile from shore and in an area that wasn't great for fishing. After VHF radio calls to the anglers went unanswered, he launched his 10-foot zodiac to investigate and moments later discovered Pinner's plight -- a bent rod kissing ocean, hooked onto something massive, that had been pulling him out to sea for the last 45 minutes.
Perez thought the catch could be one of three things: thresher shark, mako shark, or giant sea bass -- a fish that was once plentiful in Southern California waters and fished for both commercially and sport until they were almost wiped out entirely. The species was placed on the endangered list in 1982 and due to a slow reproduction rate, remains critically endangered today.
After latching Pinner's kayak to his boat, Perez helped the angler bring in the mystery catch. 10 minutes later, they saw the goliath: a giant sea bass in the 225-250 lb. range.
"Once I got the hook out, it bolted back down towards the bottom and looked no worse for the battle," said Perez.
The International Game Fish Association's all-tackle record record for giant sea bass is 563 1/2 pounds, caught by James McAdam Jr. off of Anacapa Island in 1968, which lies 70 miles or so northwest of where Pinner landed his.