It’s Summertime, but the Fishin’ Ain’t Easy

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The weather on the harbor this season seems to be hit and miss, like it can’t decide whether we’ll have June gloom or typical summer sunshine.

Reminds me of the August of around 2003 or 2004. Gypsy III was berthed at Ardell Marina and the weather was overcast and the air temperature was quite below normal. The boat never left the dock that month because we are “fair weather sailors.” The only time we go boating with a coat on is during the Christmas Boat Parade.

Speaking of Ardell Yachts and Marina; does anyone remember the sport fishing landing Port Orange” In the ’40s and ’50s, the landing took up a little less than half of the property of Ardell along Mariners Mile. There were the landings, some small cottages for rent for the fisherman, and a café on Coast Highway.

The docks included berths for the Misiwit, Alalunga and the Gypsy. These boats took out a dozen to 30 or even 40 fishermen for the day. In those days, the sardines were plentiful and the catch would include albacore and tuna.

One of the boats from Port Orange, the Alalunga, is still fishing in Southern California. It is in San Diego and takes anglers out daily during the fishing season.

In addition to the larger boats, there were smaller boats for more intimate fishing trips, and commercial bait boats and fishing boats. There were bait receivers submerged to service the fleet of fishing boats. My dad, Pete, in his early 20s, ran the operation for my grandfather, who was the property owner and business owner. Across the street was a construction yard for my grandfather’s main enterprise, an engineering construction company.

I still remember having delicious hot chocolate in the café as a youngster. The waitresses were especially kind to children, which I recall to be unusual in the few restaurants of that era. In those days, I’d guess that Newport had about 30,000 residents and many of the waterfront homes were only occupied in the summer months. A lot of the retail businesses were open seasonally.

Ardell Yacht and Ship Brokerage also has a brokerage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The majority of brokerage boats are much larger there and the Bahamas and Caribbean are the desired cruising grounds. For about 15 years, I had the pleasure of working for Ardell in Newport. That company is a class act!

The first fishing trip I can recall without adults was with my older brother and Phil Monroe around 1958 in our 10-foot Glaspar with a 5½-horse Johnson outboard. We were adjacent to the Pavilion and tied up to a mooring buoy. I don’t recall what we used for bait, but I landed about a 3-pound halibut and a 3-pound calico bass. Boy, did that make my day!

As the sardines were depleted, so was our commercial fleet and workers. Most moved by the early ’60s to San Diego, like the Alalunga, and a few went to Northern California.

Phil’s dad was a captain on commercial fishing boats and within a few years after that trip he and the family moved north to better fishing grounds. Phil followed in his father’s career path and also was a commercial captain on fishing boats, now retired.

The last few years the sardines have been showing up locally again. I hope this trend continues, and with it better fishing.

The last two summers, the water temperature off Emerald Bay in Laguna rarely exceeded 61 degrees. This is extremely rare for August and September. Normally the sea temperature is around 70 degrees. The reason I know this is Emerald Bay is our favorite anchorage for a half-day day in the summer. If we aren’t able to cruise to Catalina and only have an afternoon, Emerald Bay is our second choice. With the reef and point on the west side of the cove to lay down the swell and westerly wind, the little cove is much calmer than the open shoreline.

It is not unusual to see 25 to 30 boats at anchor in the warm months. Swimming, barbecuing, wake boarding, raft towing, and jet skiing are the order of the day. A leisurely weekend day in this cove can certainly recharge your batteries to face the work week ahead.

I keep hoping that this summer the water temperature will return to normal so I can go swimming. It has made it to 67 degrees a couple of times, but earlier this week and last week, it was back to 61 degrees.

With the cooler water temperature the last two summers, the fishing has been lousy. Earlier, when sea temperatures rose, we fisherman were getting excited. Amongst ourselves the talk was maybe this is the summer the fishing will return to somewhat normal, if there is such a thing. The lower temps have soured, as has our attitude. As a fair-weather sailor, I usually don’t swim in the ocean unless it’s around 70 degrees, and I don’t spend my fuel money fishing unless there’s a chance of catching dinner.

For those fishermen out there, be sure and check the charts before you go out. From Abalone Point to Salt Creek to the south, there is now no fishing allowed. One more fine mess our friends in Sacramento have doled out to us.

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

P.S. Every Sunday on Fox Sports West is a fishing show called “Inside Sport Fishing.” This show is about fishing in local waters and some in Mexico, Costa Rica and Alaska. The host and producer is Michael Fowlkes. Michael grew up in Bayshores and was a year behind us at Newport Harbor High School. The show is one of the best on television, with fantastic fishing excursions.

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  1. Steve,
    I worked on the Missawit during its hey days of 53-56 when my father-in-law, Glen Taylor had a stroke and was not able to continue.
    I married Dean Taylor in 54 and completed high school at Newport High in 56. And moved to Costa Mesa til 1960. After Pop stopped working on the boat Dean went to work for Trautwein.
    I remember your dad and grampa. Mom was their secretary for a while. We lived in one of the houses behind the office.

    Many years later I worked on one of the boats at Norms. Worked as a deckhand on Saturday and got to be a passenger on Sunday in exchange. Yes, those were the days

    I still fish when I get a chance. There is nothing that can compare when it comes to a challenge and relaxation.
    Luci Hanson