Back in March 2011, I wrote a story titled "Longing for simple life of small clubhouse." Well, I found it, and it was right in front of me all this time. In fact, the Balboa Angling Club has been around for the last 87 years.
Looking through its history, all the original Newport Harbor names are there: Summers, Beek, Atkinson, Sawyer and Crocker, just to name a few, are all in the club's history books. The 1939 objectives for the club still stand strong today: "To aid in all plans for conservation of the fishing resources of California" and "To promote salt water fishing as a sport; to encourage and improve angling in local waters; and to promote sport fishermen in general."
When I walked into the clubhouse, located in the Fun Zone next to Hill's fuel dock, I thought, "This is it — it's the perfect small clubhouse." Self-serve bar, BBQ, dock, view of the harbor, crane, heads, shower, everything. A long history of members, awards, recognition for outstanding achievements within our harbor are lined up around the walls. The best part of this whole deal is that it is free and open to the public.
Please keep in mind that if you find yourself hanging out at the club and wanting to take part in all the events, it's going to cost you a whole $16 a month for the family to be an official member. If you want to find an activity for your kid to get out of the house, a Jr. Membership for ages 21 and younger is a whole $1.60 a month. Membership is at 300 members and is open at this time. Back in the 1950s, membership reached as high as 700, but the club today runs best at 350 members before it feels the impact. The saying around the club is "Once you join the Balboa Angling Club, you will be hooked for life."
Today, as you read this, the club is working with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in the White Seabass Enhancement Plan. Our harbor fishermen all know this, but I was surprised to find out that 2,500 juvenile white sea bass a year are trucked up and placed in the bass fish pens in our mooring fields. They are being placed in a type of ice bin that you place a beer keg in and transported out to the fish pens one scoop at a time. After the juveniles are placed in these fish pens, volunteers from the Balboa Angling Club go out every day to take water temperatures, look for problems and report back to the Hubbs group. This is no simple task, and the variables seem as difficult as putting a boat deal together or making fine wine.
What I found interesting is that the Hubbs institute tags each fish with a type of computer chip, located near the fish's head, that contains the spawning date and location of each fish. This information provides information about growth rates, migration, life span, who likes to eat white sea bass, and their mating pattern. Hubbs officials encourage anglers to turn in their white sea bass heads. This data collected from the tags in the fish heads will track the success of the program's restocking efforts. Should you wish to take part and help in their efforts, the fish heads can be deposited at the Balboa Angling Club, Anglers Center and at the Hubbs-SeaWorld institute in Carlsbad. For some reason, I am having a flashback to the Dr. Demento radio show and the "Fish Heads" song while I write this.
The next big event at the Balboa Angling Club is the 50th Annual Lily Call bay tournament April 27 and 28. Rob Meinhardt, who is a 20-year member of the club, said, "This is my favorite tournament of the year. My daughter and I have a great time competing in this event each year." Rob went on to tell me that this is an in-harbor tournament that attracts as many as 100 anglers.
I have never seen a facility that provides an introduction and access to our harbor like the Balboa Angling Club. In fact, the first trophy I ever won was in a 1968 Jr. Tournament for the largest bonito in the five- to 10-year-old category from the Balboa Angling Club. I keep it with pride on the top shelf of my trophy case.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.