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Spotlight: Mark Reynolds

I took a walk down to Cabrillo Beach Pier in San Pedro on a recent Saturday morning and was casually watching a few middle-aged fishermen casting their hooks and bait into the brine when one angler, a young man in his twenties, felt a strong tug on his line.

Heads turned as the young man fought with a light rod and reel to haul in his catch. “Let him spool out a bit, and wear him out!” an elderly fisherman called out. The young man’s rod and reel looked to be adequate for up to perhaps 20 pounds, but a larger fish, particularly a feisty one, could be a bit too much for his medium-weight rig.

The young angler let out some line, then tightened the spool, alternating back and forth for several minutes as the grimace on his face revealed just a tad of frustration. “Man, this guy is a real beast!” he laughed with a grimace. Little by little, he reeled in his catch, and after several minutes, he hauled up a 30-inch halibut, not exactly a “beast” but certainly enough for a nice family dinner.

With his catch still writhing in its final throes before going to fish heaven, he baited his hook and cast his line out to wait for another unsuspecting fish. Being something of an angler myself, I wandered over to the young man’s side and introduced myself. He replied with a smile while keeping an eye on his line, “I’m Mark, Mark Reynolds.” I don’t get to fish very often, so it’s really funny when I come out here, and I see all these older, more experienced guys casting their lines and coming up with nothing, and I catch this halibut. Whoa, dude, I can’t frikkin’ believe it!”

I couldn’t help but laugh and admitted, “I’ve caught a lot of calico bass, white sea bass and mackerel, but I have to admit, I still haven’t caught a halibut.” Curiosity getting the best of me, I asked Mark where he’s from and how he got started fishing. He smiled, “Hey, I grew up in Northern California, where we have lots of lakes and streams that are great for trout and blue gill. My dad got me started with a small kids’ rod and reel, and for bait I used salmon eggs. That was until I got a little older, when my dad taught started teaching me a bit of fly fishing.”

Mark assumed a more serious tone as he explained the huge difference between fly fishing in a cold, rocky stream running through a forest and bait fishing in Los Angeles Harbor. “Fly fishing is a whole different experience. It takes a lot of practice, and usually you don’t catch anything. But out here on the ocean, I just hang a chunk of mussel from the rocks or some squid from the local liquor store on my hook, and bang! I catch some serious fish!”

As I stood there on the dock, laughing along with Mark, another gentleman nearby chuckled, “Hey, I wish I had that kind of luck today. I’m getting a lot nibbles but nothing yet. Heck, I’ll be lucky if I catch a six-inch mackerel!” And then another older guy nearby comically took a jab at young Mark: “Let’s see you bring in another one, kid!”

Within two minutes, Mark felt another tug on his line. The heads of the other anglers snapped around to see Mark again fighting with a beast from the deep. As Mark pulled his light rig upward, the line gradually meandered from left to right, and then it sort of stayed in one place while he started reeling in his catch.

Ever so gradually, Mark reeled in the line, pulling up the rod as it bent downward into a tight curve, and then he reeled again until the little beast broke the water’s surface. One of the fishers nearby observed, “Hey, that’s a nice calico you got there, buddy. You can eat that for lunch and the halibut for dinner.”

Mark smiled proudly, “If my dad ever makes it down to L.A., it’ll be a big culture shock, coming from the woods up north.” And then he mused with a smile as he pulled the hook from the calico with a pair of pliers, “But he’ll love the fishing!”

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