Barring weekend storms that could drive birds into Mexico, state biologists are predicting good shooting for hunters who turn out for California's opening day of the dove season Sunday.
Reports have it that Lower Colorado River hunting areas--between Palo Verde and the U.S.-Mexico border--are loaded with prized white-winged doves, slightly larger than their mourning dove cousins.
Legal shooting will start at 5:57 a.m. Sunday, 30 minutes before sunrise. The first part of the split season will end Oct. 15. The second part will run from Nov. 16-30. Dove limits are 15 a day and 30 in possession after opening day.
In Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where white-winged doves are legal game, limits include 10 white-wings a day and 20 in possession.
Department of Fish and Game biologist Jesse Garcia, based at the Wister Wildlife Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area at the Salton Sea, said that white-wing numbers in some Colorado River areas are dense.
"In some areas, the ratio of white-wings to mourning doves is 50%," he said.
"Generally speaking, there are good numbers of birds in most hunting areas in the Imperial Valley-Salton Sea and Colorado River areas. We've seen good numbers at the Wister Unit, Coachella Canal, East Highline Canal, East Mesa and Bard-Winterhaven."
Said long-time Palo Verde hunter-conservationist Jack Page, a founder of the Palo Verde Rod and Gun Club: "It looks like a good one Sunday, barring any storms. We've got lots of birds in the entire Palo Verde Valley. I look for a good opener."
Four Department of Fish and Game staffers escaped injury recently when a helicopter they were riding in flipped over and crashed during takeoff at Independence.
The DFG crew was preparing to study tule elk trap sites in the Owens Valley when the mishap occurred. Said biologist Bill Clark: "We didn't have enough power to get off the trailer and then we lost all power and the skid of the helicopter fell off the trailer and the thing just flipped over."
Also on board were biologists Tom Blankinship, Rick Santana and Don Koch, and pilot Don Landell.
California, by far, has more fishing license-holders than any other state, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The top five: 1. California, 2,522,172. 2. Texas, 1,866,909. 3. Minnesota, 1,494,788. 4. Wisconsin, 1,466,208. 5. Michigan, 1,391,515.
Anaheim-based International Gamefish Tournaments, Inc., has organized a $250,000 (based on 200 teams entering) marlin tournament for Sept. 23-25. There will be headquarters in Avalon and Dana Point.
If 200 teams enter, first prize will be $40,000, $15,000 for second place. Teams, from one to six members, pay $1,000 entry fees.
Briefly The Inglewood Fly Fishermen's club will start its annual fall fly-tying class Oct. 9 at the Westchester Townhouse, Westchester. . . . Rick Matsuoka, Fullerton, caught possibly the season's largest albacore recently on H&M Landing's New Hustler II, a 58-pound 4-ounce fish. Matsuoka was using 20-pound test line.