Got a call from an old friend last week inviting me, my fishing buddy Sean and anyone else we cared to invite out for a Saturday morning of fishing off of Cabrillo Beach pier.
Now right off the bat, a lot of guys would immediately say thanks but no thanks to such an invite.
Pier fishing in SoCal doesn’t always have the greatest reputation: The fishing can be painfully slow and tedious, the catch isn’t usually safe to eat and many piers are dirty and lacking in amenities.
But Sean and I already fish the L.A. River as well as some other questionable locations so a quarter mile walk down a slippery pier while dodging a gauntlet of hooks and hardware to get to a graffiti covered porta-potti isn’t that big a deal.
Besides, the inviting party just happened to be Larry Fukuhara – Programs Director for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
For those of you who don’t know it already, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is one of the oldest and definitely one of the coolest public aquariums in SoCal and has educated several generations of Angelenos about Grunion, Gray Whales, tide pools and more from its humble beginnings as a card table filled with shells next to the lifeguard tower to its current state of the art facility on Cabrillo Beach.
Likewise, for those of you who don’t know Larry, he is a dynamo of creativity, adventure and plain ol’ fun and while he isn’t one of the oldest, he certainly is one of the coolest — and best — saltwater fisherman I know. Over some twenty-five odd years he has, literally, taught me more about saltwater fishing than anyone I’ve ever fished with; so when he asked me if I wanted to participate in one of his “Fishing with Uncle Larry” events, I was only too ready to say yes.
Thus, on the appointed day, Sean and I drove over to Cabrillo pier and made the long walk to the large shade covering at roughly the center of the pier where there were already several tables set up under some large banners, a library’s worth of info and a rack full of a couple dozen pre-rigged poles.
Besides Larry and a couple of Aquarium staff, I was surprised to see an army of enthusiastic volunteers from United Anglers of Southern California.
Turns out, this particular event was being co-sponsored by United Anglers and they were providing gear, manpower, information and a ton of raffle prizes for the kids.
Within seconds of arriving, it was obvious that the primary focus of the event was kids and teaching them to fish.
The next several hours was a blur of cutting bait, untangling bird’s nests, re-rigging terminal tackle, helping kids haul Tom Cod up onto the deck and…having a great time doing it.
Several kids caught their very first fish ever and there was plenty of fanfare and encouragement no matter what the size of the catch. Each kid got a picture to take home, thanks to some innovative technology, and every volunteer worked extra hard to make sure every kid caught something. I really enjoyed the positive attitudes and upbeat spirit that permeated the day.
There were plenty of great moments and smiles that keep things moving along even when the bite slowed down. I had a blast teaching a mom and her six year old how to fish and then later congratulate them on their first catches.
I even got to dust off my training in invert. Zoo. when, during the gross out moment of the day, a rather large fish louse fell from the gill cavity of a white croaker and then started giving birth — think the movie, Alien –right in the middle of a circle of kids. We couldn’t have planned it better.
Anyway, all that to say, it wasn’t flyfishing and it wasn’t a mountain stream but “Uncle Larry” came through again and likely increased the rolls of the fishing fraternity by a couple of dozen this past weekend.
I love this addiction called fishin’.