If ever there was a sure thing where fishing is concerned, it can be experienced now at Magdalena Bay, an area roughly 150 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side of Baja California.
"(The bay is) holding incredible numbers of striped marlin and wahoo right now," said John (J.D.) Doughty of Bisbee's tackle shop in Newport Beach.
Doughty fished the area last week aboard the Xiphias, owned by Marshall Morgan and skippered by Cami Garnier of Costa Mesa.
In just five hours, they had boated 13 striped marlin, averaging 100-150 pounds, and lost about 20 others.
"We would be trolling four lures and get hooked up on one, then another," he said. "Then we'd be bringing in those and the other two would get hit.
"The fish were surrounding the boat. We would drop a live bait over and that would get hooked up, too. . . There's just an awful lot of fish out there."
The Newport Beach-based Bear Flag, owned by Tom Carson, fished the area Thursday and moments after noticing huge schools of wahoo breaking the surface, experienced a rare quadruple hookup and successfully landed three wahoos--averaging 40 to 50 pounds--and a striped marlin.
Doughty said this annual occurrence has been brought on by colder weather and water pushing the fish southward. A month ago, schools of wahoo and marlin were seen just 350 miles south of San Diego.
The colder bottom water sends the fish to the surface, where they concentrate in such areas as Magdalena Bay, and eventually wind up in the waters off Cabo San Lucas.
The International Game Fish Assn. says that for the first time in its 29-year history, the Hawaiian International Billfish tournament in Kailua-Kona resulted in more blue marlin being released than were kept.
Sixty of the 91 marlin caught during the late August tournament were tagged and released, according to the IGFA.
"This significant number of fish tagged and released is certainly a major accomplishment in an area where practically all marlin in previous years were sold to markets or restaurants," said President Elwood K. Harry. "The Hawaiian tournaments are to be commended for their conservation efforts."
Add conservation: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is billing the new $10 migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp as "one of the best investments a person can make toward the future health and well-being of the nation's wildlife."
All of the $16 million raised from the sale of the federal duck stamp buys land for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
IGFA Notes: A great white shark estimated at 5,000 pounds was captured recently in South Australia after becoming entangled in the net of fisherman Peter Risely about 35 miles southwest of Cape Hart on Kangaroo Island.
Other unusually large fish caught there recently--victims of the long-liners--include a 910 1/2-pound mako shark and a 14-foot broadbill swordfish.
Duck talk: David Jayne, a 32-year-old hunting guide from Clovis, Calif., is now the best at summoning the popular waterfowl, having beaten out 48 others in the 52nd annual World's Championship duck-calling contest Nov. 28 in Stuttgart, Ark.
King salmon are returning to Northern California's Eel River in record numbers, leaving many local residents "standing on the river bank in awe of the magnitude of the run," according to the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
Near record salmon returns were also recorded in the Sacramento, Klamath-Trinity and Smith rivers. The main reasons, according to the PCFFA, is the "large spring outflows that occurred during the winters of 1983-84--the years the returning salmon were spawned."
The fishermen's statements appear to be backed up by research on the part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which concluded that survival rate of juvenile salmon migrating to the ocean is notably increased during a higher spring outflow.
Reminder: A $1 daily user fee went into effect Dec. 1 at four state wildlife areas to help pay for operating costs.
Adults who are not licensed hunters, anglers or trappers will be required to pay the fee at Gray Lodge in Sutter and Butte counties, San Jacinto in Riverside County, Los Banos in Merced County, and Imperial Wildlife areas.
Briefly Lake Cachuma is now offering two-hour eagle cruises to provide close-up observation of bald and golden eagles, which generally are fairly numerous there from November to March. . . . John Seaman, co-owner of the Madison River Fishing Co., will present a program on "Southwest Montana: Fishing Options" after the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers' dinner meeting at the Odyssey restaurant in Mission Hills Dec. 16. . . . A hands-on fly-tying lesson to demonstrate basic freshwater and saltwater patterns, will be offered free of charge to fathers and sons in attendance together Dec. 19 at Marriott's Fly Fishing Center in Fullerton.