• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

The fish started swimming away. Halibut have a unique swimming motion. They move forward by undulating their body up and down. It gives a distinctive feel on the rod. As the halibut swam, it pulled Manning right along. Being pulled on a surfboard by a big fish is just plain fun. Because of the fog, Manning had no idea where he was heading — alongside the beach or toward Hawaii. After about 20 minutes he realized that he was in the kelp beds, almost half a mile from the shore.

It’s obvious that those involved with implementing the Marine Life Protection Act never thought about the little guy. Trying to find out exactly where you can and can’t fish is difficult unless you have a GPS system. From a close look at maps and satellite pictures, it appears that our boundaries are from Diamond Street (at the Pacific Terrace Hotel) to Palomar Avenue in Bird Rock. No taking of any fish, not even fishing from the shore, will be allowed here.

After playing the fish — letting it run, then bringing it back in — Manning knew that the halibut was tiring. Then he got his first look at the biggest fish he had ever caught. It was huge, almost half the length of his surfboard, and when it came up underneath him, he had no idea how to get it into his net, let alone back to shore.

Halibut can easily shake loose a fish-trap hook. Manning had experience with halibut and knew to take his time, never letting the fish get his nose out of the water. He tried to scoop up the fish, but it kept getting away, gaining strength each time it saw the net. Finally, after half an hour, when both fish and fisherman were exhausted, a simple flick of Manning’s wrist and he had it. Manning held the wriggling fish over his head in the net, wondering what to do next.

After the fish settled down, Manning could think of only one way to get the fish and himself back to shore. He put the fish on his board, still in the net, lay down on top of it, and began the long paddle back. The fish squirmed and occasionally tried to escape, but Manning stayed on top of it, paddling when he could, until out of the fog the shore appeared. The fish was tired, not yet dead, but the fight had gone out of him. Manning was excited. He couldn’t wait to show the people on the beach his tremendous catch. It took another 30 minutes to get his feet on the sand. Fortunately, the surf was nonexistent, and it was easy for him to land the fish and get out of the ocean.

By then he’d been in the water almost an hour and a half. It was dark and not a soul was on the beach. He dragged the fish to the parking lot, which was empty. So he took the fish home and put it on ice. Then in the morning he brought it back to the Tourmaline parking lot to display the largest halibut anyone had ever seen caught at our beach, let alone from a surfboard. It weighed 21 pounds and was just over 38 inches long.

Because the new marine protected areas affect commercial sport fishermen and commercial lobster fishermen, Coastside Fishing Club along with United Anglers of Southern California and Robert C. Fletcher have filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court to fight the Marine Life Protection Act. Arguments concerning regulations affecting the North Central Coast region are scheduled to be heard this week; a hearing on South Coast regulations is not yet scheduled.

Earlier this month, the state Office of Administrative Law disapproved implementation of the new regulations in the south coast region, and the start date was pushed from October 1 to January 1, 2012, while problems are resolved. After that date, all fishermen — commercial, kayak, surfboard, whatever — who wish to fish near La Jolla will be crowded into a small section of ocean between the new preserve and the La Jolla Cove preserve. Because no baseline of fish counts was established, it is assumed that the intent is for these preserves to last forever, regardless of the health of the environment. Never again will Manning be able to walk from his home to his beach and enjoy a few hours of surfboard fishing.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

More from the web


expdx Oct. 5, 2011 @ 5:03 p.m.

Goodness Gracious...which way is East? Oh Golly Golly I don't know where to paddle...maybe you should stick to a kiddie pool on your lawn! Humans have fished the seas to near extinction: I've lived in La Jolla in the 1950's and abalone were plentiful...they're scarce due to overfishing. I've lived in Downeast Maine where grandparents fished the Grand Banks in schooners for Cod....they're gone due to overfishing. Does Doc Ricketts ring a bell. Giant Bluefin Tuna are almost totally gone and everyone claims innocence. A company is San Diego was selling sonar buoys to lace the ENTIRE Pacific Tuna habitat so that tuna schools could be tracked by satellite link up. Perhaps the spoiled paddleboarder should stick to finding his car with his gps and keys. Suggestion...head east for 500 miles and stay there!!


Bob_Hudson Oct. 6, 2011 @ 6:39 a.m.

And none of this will be addressed by these new restrictions, which are window-dressing and were able to be implemented only because they affect mostly the individual recreational fishers who are not the commercial divers who depleted the abalone stocks, who do not prowl our waters in Grand Banks schooners looking to fill holds with tons of fish, who don't do purse seining from their kayaks or catch bluefin tuna while casting from the beach. But, your bitterness towards this one individual shows why these meaningless regulations are enough to satisfy those who only want to do something for appearance sake: "By gosh we've stuck it to those spoiled paddleboarders! Now Sponge Bob can leave in peace."


dianecastaneda Oct. 6, 2011 @ 12:08 p.m.

Manning said "there are places around the world where fish are gone. We don't want that to happen here, and marine protected areas are a key solution." That is exactly what is about, protecting and conserving our resources, and science has proved that MPAs have worked in other places like Cabo Pulmo in Mexico where the reef got saved from near extinction thanks to a community coming together to establish a Marine Protected Area.


socalsurfnow Oct. 6, 2011 @ 12:50 p.m.

"Saving the fish" is more than a nice idea -- it is scientifically proven around the world that marine reserves work to protect fish nurseries and ensure healthy fisheries.


GaleFilter Oct. 7, 2011 @ 8:46 a.m.

Recently, Scripps Institution of Oceanography released a report announcing that barred sand bass and kelp bass fisheries have collapsed. This is largely due to overfishing, and this is what the MLPA is designed to prevent. It’s not just “saving the fish” or providing a warm, green feeling, it’s ensuring that fisheries exist for the next generation. In the years leading up to adoption of SoCal MPAs, the public had the chance to comment and provide input on proposed areas, the fishermen’s voice included. Science proved that ecosystem-based MPAs were needed along our coast. The MLPA is only partly aimed at commercial fishing – it also focuses on the “little guy”. The “little guy” that makes a living fishing off San Diego shores or enjoys the recreation of an evening surfboard fishing session needs a reliable and sustainable fish population. Just like on land, it’s vital to protect ecosystems underwater to guarantee that the fish will be there for years to come.


619Surferdude Oct. 7, 2011 @ 12:24 p.m.

It's a bummer for the surfboard fishermen. Russell is my surf buddy and he often chooses to fish instead of surf, I can guarantee that I catch more waves than he catches fish!


Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!