April 3rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1918, the Evening Kansan-Republican of Newton, Kansas carried a short report on the latest wacky fishing craze on the Pacific Coast — kite fishing! 

Citing a story in the September 1917 Popular Science Monthly, the report tells of a “fine corbina hole” tantalizingly just out of range of even the best casters off the Seal Beach pier. The pier fishermen, preferring not to use boats, use kites to carry their fishing lines out to the fishing spot. Popular Science Monthly made no mention of earlier kite fishing and treated the concept as fresh and cutting edge.

Kite fishing was not a new innovation in fishing technology. In fact, there are newspaper stories about kite fishing dating back to the mid nineteenth century. For some reason, an August 20, 1917 Washington Post summary of the Popular Science Monthly story caught the imagination of editors across the nation and was reprinted (and sometimes edited for length) in at least sixty-four separate newspapers over the next year. The Evening Kansan-Republican was just one of many in the long news cycle for this story.

Two interesting details were included in both the Popular Science Monthly and the Washington Post that didn’t always make it into the reprints. First, the “new” method of fishing was credited as being the brainchild of Thomas McD. Potter of the Los Angeles Motorcycle Club. Also, the kite used was five feet high, which allowed enough lift for any fish caught on the hook.

A corbina, probably regretting some of its more recent life choices.

A corbina, probably regretting some of its more recent life choices.

According to the internet (which never lies), there are still plenty of corbinas to be caught off the Seal Beach pier.

– Michael Dobkins


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