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San Diego Waterfront


halibut child in Point LomaSan Diego Third Grader Catches Record Halibut

Saturday, September 24, 2005

By Jim Kelly

LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER - Proud father David Bassham bends over to kiss his daughter Reagan Marinelli who went into the record books for catching the largest California halibut in her age group. The 16-pound, 14-ounce trophy was caught in America’s Cup Harbor in

She’s as cute as a kayak and sharp as a fishing knife, and if you’re a prize-winning halibut, you’d better watch out for Reagan Marinelli.

On June 9, Marinelli, age 7, entered the record books for hooking and landing the world’s largest paralichthys californicus (halibut, California) in the female-smallfry category.

Marinelli is a third grader at Cabrillo Elementary who loves to fish. On the day she caught “the big one,” she came home from school, did her homework and went fishing with her father, David Bassham, in America’s Cup Harbor.

Bassham, who is the dockmaster at Driscoll’s Wharf, said they normally don’t do much on school days but “…out of the blue I said, ‘What the heck, let’s go fishing.’”

Father and daughter were in their skiff, drifting near the end of dock 6 when his daughter said, “My bait isn’t doing anything, Daddy.”

He looked over to see her fishing pole bent in half.

The dock was filled with people that day and everyone began screaming as Marinelli struggled for approximately 12 minutes to pull in her fish.

“Her daddy was screaming the loudest,” Bassham said. “I was screaming, reel, reel, reel, reel!”

As the fish approached the boat, Bassham put his net in the water and pulled out a 16-pound, 14-ounce halibut that was almost as long as his daughter is tall.

“It was heavy and felt like a bat ray,” Marinelli said. When she was asked if she had ever caught a bat ray she answered simply, “No.”

Marinelli comes by her talent honestly. Both her parents are fishing aficionados and both have worked in the past on fishing boats. Her mother Laurie said she’s been fishing since she was 6-years-old, and Reagan started angling at about the age of 5.

Marinelli is handling her newly found fame well. Although she has been recognized as far away as the Point Loma Vons supermarket and has been asked for her autograph by the owner of the local fish market, not much else has changed.

When asked what advice she wanted to give to would-be record breakers, she flashed a dimpled smile and succinctly said -
“Use sardines.”