Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 8:42 am | Fog/Mist 54º

 
 
 
 
Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with The Lab and American Riviera Bank
The LabAmerican Riviera Bank

Mike Moropoulos: Catch of a Lifetime Just a Fleeting Memory

There's a trophy calico bass still roaming the kelp, if only our columnist could picture it.

I will begin this column by answering questions that have yet to be asked.

1. That’s right, I do not have a photograph.

2. Yes, that is stupid.

3. Yes, next time I will have a camera (there will probably never be a next time).

4. We were fishing the kelp between the Light House and the Mohawk Rock (22 feet).

5. As is usual with me, we were flylining live bait — anchovies and medium sardines.

6. We being my older (older?) brother, Lou, and my friend, netter and witness Bud Bottoms.

7. Yes, the scale and ruler are both accurate.

8. And, yes, we released it.

9. Released what? A 10-pound one-ounce calico bass (technically a kelp bass).

10. And, yes, certainly I understand the lack of credibility with no photograph.

While I have written almost a thousand columns and magazine articles, photography, or lack thereof, has always been my Achilles brain. I have had many photos published — some that I thought were pretty good — but I am not a photographer. I fish, hunt and, until recently, dive.

As of this missed opportunity I am now a certified photographer. But I have learned this: if you are planning to take photos or teach a kid, forget about fishing for awhile. I’m not certain I can do that.

I have caught calicos up to eight-and-a-half pounds, but that was on the outer edges of the Carpinteria Reef prior to the installation of Platform Hazel, and through diving I knew they were there. But until last week I had never seen a 10-plus calico. That new oil structure had pirated almost all of the calicos from the Carp Reef, including many of large proportions. Fishing under the platform — in between dumped mop-water and curses — was difficult but outstanding.

I realized that for this fish to be of any consequence we’d have to travel to Sea Landing to get a photo, have it weighed on a certified scale, and secure the terminal end of our 10-pound test line. I did not think the big fish could survive those rigors. It took about 15-20 minutes to get it through the kelp and into the net; the fish was exhausted.

Article Image
We don’t mean to rub salt in Noozhawk columnist Mike Moropoulos’ wound, but here’s a picture of a calico bass like the one he caught and released. (California Department of Fish & Game photo)
We decided an expedient release was critical. After weighing and measuring we did our resuscitation thing of pushing and pulling to force the water through its gills until it awakened — then adios. Since it was only hooked in the jaw, I am convinced it survived.

Releasing that fish didn’t even hurt. We were almost at our self-imposed grandkids’ fish-fry limit of eight fish anyway. We stayed awhile but that 1 p.m. trophy kind of ended the day.

I really thought it was a good white sea bass because it did not act like a typical calico. I guess that’s because it wasn’t. It ran hard enough to almost spool me; that didn’t take long. What did take some time was getting that fish back on the light gear we were using. But the best thing I did was to get lucky.

When we got color it morphed from the silver (white sea bass) I anticipated to gold/brown with dark blotches. Lucky? Absolutely, because bringing in the big calico and its tangle of kelp was the challenge and the luck factor. The big bass measured out at 25-1/2 inches.

And for certain you can say I am bragging. For the past 53 years (since my first ocean boat), the calico bass has been my prey of choice, both fishing and diving. So that 10-pounder has become the fish of my lifetime, and sure, you can bet your last dollar I wish I wasn’t a photographic lump. But it is a done deal and I wish I could forget about missing on a photograph. They tell me time heals!

Photo or no photo, I know I have caught a trophy and it is still swimming in that kelp. I also know it is difficult for many to believe this story and that’s OK, too, I wouldn’t fault them; it’s pretty easy for someone to fabricate a big fish story. But my brother, Lou, and Bud and I know.

And at least this isn’t a story about one that got away.

Noozhawk contributor Mike Moropoulos is a longtime outdoors writer in Santa Barbara.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >