Don Fenmore and Mel Berns have been fishing together since the 1950s, when they were fourth-graders, riding a West Los Angeles bus to the Santa Monica Pier and learning to catch surf perch together.
As the years rolled by, they stepped up to bigger species, such as albacore and marlin, and shared a lot of saltwater fishing thrills. But a recent day they spent in Santa Monica Bay on Berns' 22-foot "Bagger" topped everything to date.
Fenmore and Berns were trying their hand at thresher sharks, a growing Santa Monica Bay sport fishery in recent years. Fenmore was slow-trolling a dead bonito on 30-pound test line, about eight miles out of Marina del Rey, when the bait was smacked by a big thresher.
The shark made an initial run of 250 yards, and then Fenmore engaged in a two-hour standoff with the shark while Berns ran the boat. For every 100 yards of line Fenmore gained, the thresher took it back. In the third hour, the fish began to show signs of tiring.
Fenmore's reel began to fall apart under the strain. First, a screw popped out. Then a second and third screw popped out. Then the reel's anti-reverse lock failed. Finally, the handle fell off. The two fishermen managed to splice the line onto another rig, and the battle continued.
After 4 hours 5 minutes, Fenmore brought the fish to gaff. At the dock, it weighed 234 pounds.
The Department of Fish and Game has scheduled a series of special pig hunts at Lake Sonoma, near Healdsburg, in December and January, to reduce the wild pig population around the lake. The animals have caused severe erosion damage, according to the DFG and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
To apply for reservations, hunters should send a U.S. Postal Service post card listing name, mailing address, hunting license number, hunt area and hunt date preference. Two hunters may apply on one card, and hunters may bring one non-hunting companion.
Permits are free and cannot be transferred. Two hunting areas are planned--one for archers, another for firearms.
Cards should be mailed to Department of Fish and Game, P.O. Box 47, Yountville, Calif., 94599. Drawings will be held when necessary and reservations will be confirmed by mail.
A Wrightwood artist, Earl J. Cacho, has been ordered to appear Dec. 22 in Victorville Municipal Court on charges of unlawful possession of raptor parts. Armed with a search warrant, game wardens on Nov. 18 confiscated approximately six mounted or frozen raptors, including golden eagles, barn and great horned owls, and raptor parts that included talons and feathers. Also confiscated: three mountain lion skins, a mountain lion head and paws.
Cacho, 35, faces possible fines and jail terms totaling $3,000 and 18 months.
Two state agencies are considering a tentative plan that would build up depleted San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fisheries.
Pete Chadwick, Department of Fish and Game biologist, says the plan entails a $15-million payment by water system users to offset losses stemming from past depletions. The payments would finance DFG programs aimed at offsetting the depletion of striped bass, king salmon and steelhead caused by water diversions at the Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant.
An eight-point buck, wounded by a deer hunter's arrow, attacked the same hunter a day later, pinning him to the ground with its antlers and cutting the hunter with one of his own arrowheads.
Hunter Dan Ossmann told officials he tracked the wounded deer the day after he shot it, and came upon it suddenly in heavy brush. The buck knocked him down and pinned him to the ground before he could kill it with his hunting knife, he said.
Peninsular bighorn sheep in the Santa Rosa Mountains near Palm Springs are scaling vertical brick walls near the new Mirage Cove housing development to dine on landscaping, residents say.
"They do eat the landscaping, but the bighorns are great," resident Stan Cook said. He said the bighorns scale the brick walls "like nothing."
The Santa Rosa bighorns have been hard hit in recent years by a complex viral infection that kills 9 out of 10 lambs each year. The herd has dwindled to an estimated 50 animals.
The DFG and the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep are looking for volunteer help for construction of six desert wildlife guzzlers, two bighorn sheep census efforts, and a bighorn capture project, all in the Mojave Desert. Volunteers should contact Leilani Park at the DFG's Long Beach headquarters . . . Utah game wardens remind fishermen that wading the Green River is dangerous, that four fishermen have drowned in the river this year . . . A new trail for disabled visitors has been opened at the Ano Nuevo State Reserve in San Mateo County, site of the only mainland breeding grounds for northern elephant seals . . . The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is considering an increase in the number of non-resident elk permits, due to dwindling sales of resident permits.