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AVALON, Calif. – I am always fascinated by the folks that have chosen to visit Catalina. Invariably I ask, “How did you choose to come here?” The answers range wildly, but most are pleasantly surprised at what they find when they get here.
One of the by-products of my curiosity about their decision to come here is that I find out a lot about where they have come from, and I can tell you that over the years we have had a lot of visitors from Texas.
Texans seem to arrive here in droves. We can have a week of charter customers that have all arrived from some part of Texas. Most ask me if I have ever visited Texas, suggesting that I would understand the on-slaught if I had to live in the heat and humidity that can hit the lone star state in late summer.
I get that. We pay a lot of attention to weather patterns since they affect our fishing trips, and it is common to see serious weather move into Texas from the Gulf or even from a pacific hurricane.
Recently we have noticed a new pattern of visitors coming from a lot further East than Texas. Just this week we have had charters for Thao, Chang, Huang, Zheng, Yen and Nakamura. Of course I had to ask, “How did you guys choose to visit Catalina Island?”.
Our Japanese customer had moved here and was hosting visitors from Japan, so that was pretty easy to track back since he would be within the marketing realm of our Southern California channels.
But, the Chinese customers were here from different parts of China, arrived through different channels and each group was on their first visit to Catalina.
The one common thread was discovered with the Zheng charter. They were here and being guided by Chinese tour guides. The most talkative guide was from Las Vegas and he disclosed that there is a booming business escorting ‘high rollers’ from China touring the states.
The fact that Catalina Island is on the radar for these folks is astounding given all of the options available for travel afforded the very wealthy. From all appearances, these guys could have bought the island. They pretty much bought me.
First, they chartered the Catallac for their fishing trip. That puts them into some rare territory. I know that I could never shell out the bucks for such a charter when I am traveling. In fact, Karen and I still chuckle when we think back to our salmon fishing charter in New Zealand as the ‘Captain’ rowed us around the lake for 5 hours!
I am pretty sure that boat would have sunk had he ever stopped rowing. Each pull of the oar acted like a bilge pump forcing the same amount of water back out that had just come in on his back stroke. A perfect balancing act.
I digress. Back to the Zhengs. They booked us in the afternoon, generally not prime time for fishing. We decided to drop anchor and chum up a bite since there was very little in the way of life showing.
It took a while, but finally the first Calico Bass made it to the boat. I explained to the guide (interpreter) that we do not kill such fish since they are very slow growing and easily susceptible to over fishing.
It took some explaining, however, I think the guide got creative and must have said that the Calico Bass is not good to eat. This is false, but it had the effect of making each bass that we caught seem unimportant and in fact disdainful.
You could hear the moan with each fish…”waughhh”. Although this spared the bass, it also had the effect of failure on our part to capture a ‘worthy’ fish. “Can we go where the better fish are?” the guide asked me.
That is a tricky question since fish go wherever they choose and they do not know if they are worthy. Although the bite was picking up with ‘quality’ Calico, they no longer had a positive impact on our novice anglers.
We decided to get off the anchor and troll. That lasted all of 15 minutes. “We want the children to catch fish.” Came the report (demand?) from the guide. He could tell I was not happy. As I returned to the spot where we had finally gotten a bite going the guide came to the bridge and handed me and my deck hand a $50.
That was a nice surprise.
We dropped anchor, chummed and cast some fresh baits. Miraculously, I hooked a yellowtail on the first bait. Unfortunately, it was on the lightest line spinning reel that we use for ‘the kids’. This was going to be tricky.
We handed the rod off. Multiple times we again took control of the rod and got the fish out from under the boat, from around the stern and from a bout with the rudder. Multiple times the rod was passed from son to Dad to uncle to who knows.
We got the fish on to the deck and the crowd applauded. They knew this was a worthy fish. As the excitement subsided I grabbed another rod to see if we might get lucky again. The ‘high roller’ approached me, flashed a span of one hundred dollar bills and pulled one out for me.
A nicer surprise!
We did not have the chance to see what a second ‘worthy’ fish might be worth as the charter time came to an end.
I am not sure if this is the beginning of a trend or just a fluke that we would have so many visitors from the far East. Regardless, maybe Mr. Nings needs to stay open.
By Capt. John King
Afishinados Charters and Catallac Tours – 888-613-7770 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Fish the isle in style with Afishinado Charters, Avalon’s most experienced charter operator offering top boats, great equipment and friendly IGFA captains. For groups over 6, choose CATALLAC, our 50’ power catamaran with room for up to 12 anglers. For groups of 6 or less try Afishinado a 40’custom sport-fisher, great for families and groups that like the extra space, safety and comfort of a larger boat. Or, choose GUSTO!, a 30’ cuddy cabin fishing machine. We do it all, from trophy fishing to our most popular trip, a half-day ‘Catch a bunch, eat a few charter’ targeting high probability fish for novice anglers that want to learn to fish the island. Rates are all-inclusive, 1-day license and tips are extra.
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