Much of the enthusiasm--and business--generated earlier this summer by the return of albacore, after a three-year absence, has diminished, mostly because the tuna taken rarely have exceeded 10 pounds.
"The hard-core albacore fisherman simply wants to catch bigger fish," Carol Sandner, a spokeswoman for San Diego's H&M Landing said last week.
But all hope is not lost.
The season's first big albacore--a 50.6-pounder--was caught Sunday by Robert Gangi of Glendale, who was fishing aboard the Pacific Queen 75 miles south of Point Loma.
"It's the first albacore (caught this year) over 15 pounds," said Kevin Prestegard of Fisherman's Landing.
And, according to experts, it may not be the last.
Ron Dotson of the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla says albacore of 50-60 pounds have been caught in the Morro Bay area recently by drift gill net fishermen looking for swordfish and that it is possible that large tuna might have also migrated into the waters south of San Diego.
"In 1984 or '85 we had a run of 60- to 70-pound albacore in October and November, so it's not unheard of," he said. "We'd like to think that this might be the precursor of (more large albacore), but it's hard to say. Generally you don't see as many of those big fish as you do the small fish but that's not to say that we couldn't start seeing a few here and there."
Gil Cooper of Ridgecrest, who tried unsuccessfully for 21 years to draw a tag for hunting pronghorn antelope in northeastern California, finally got one this year. And his persistence paid off.
Cooper, 41, a sergeant in the Kern County Sheriff's Department, got his pronghorn late last month, and it could wind up in the record books.
Audie Crabtree, a Sacramento taxidermist who will prepare the animal, said he measured one horn at 18 1/4 inches and the other at 18 inches, producing an unofficial Boone and Crockett Club total of 89 2/8 points (Boone and Crockett uses a points system based on eighths).
If the score holds up, the Department of Fish and Game said, the animal would be among the top 20 pronghorns in the club record books.
The official measurements will be made after a drying-out period of 60-90 days.
Boating accidents and fatalities were down in 1988, but injuries and property damage have increased significantly, according to recent Coast Guard figures.
A total of 946 boaters died last year, the lowest number since 1961, when the Coast Guard began keeping statistics. There were 6,718 reported accidents in 1988, a 1% decrease from 1987.
The 3,746 reported injuries and $24,332,100 in property damage, however, represented a 14% increase over 1987 totals.
The most common accident: a collision with another boat. Most fatalities resulted from capsizing or a fall overboard.
Saturday has been declared 1989's second "Free Fishing Day," which means no license is required to fish the California's public waterways.
Other activities planned Saturday to promote fishing in California include a fishing seminar for beginners at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve, at 10 a.m., and a tour of the DFG's Imperial Warmwater Fish Hatchery and demonstration of the Japanese art of fish printing, or \o7 gyotaku, \f7 at the Imperial Wildlife Area just north of Niland.
The Southwest Regional Sporting Clays shooting competition, sanctioned by the United States Sporting Clays Assn., will be held this weekend at Raahauge's Pheasant Hunting Club in Norco. Practice is set for Thursday and Friday.
Department of Fish and Game projects: Volunteers are needed to help fence in a portion of bighorn sheep habitat, to keep out grazing animals that spread disease, in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and for an electroshocking project on the San Joaquin River. Contacts are Dick Conti for the fence project at (213) 256-0463, and Chuck Newmeyer for the fish project at (619) 939-1074.
Fund raisers: The Pasadena chapter of Quail Unlimited will have its banquet Thursday night at 7 at the Brookside Country Club. A $48 ticket includes a year's membership. . . . The Long Beach Casting Club will have an auction Sept. 28 at 7:15 p.m. at Recreation Park in Long Beach.
Fly fishing: Lani Waller will present an audio-visual program on steelhead trout at the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers' dinner meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (818) 785-7306.
Instruction: Offshore & Big Game Fishing, taught by Al Zapanta, Thursdays from 7-10 p.m. at Mt. San Antonio College and Mondays from 7-9:30 p.m.