They haven't the appeal of some of the more glamorous creatures of the sea, but they still lure thousands to the beach each spring and summer. And they are about to make their first "run" of 1992.
Grunion season is here, and the small, silvery fish that procreate on the beach are scheduled to ride the tide ashore along dark, sandy stretches of beach late Friday night and run each night thereafter through Monday.
Once aground on the wet sand, the female grunion will drill herself tail-first into the sand and deposit up to 3,000 eggs. One or more male grunion will then wrap around the female and fertilize the eggs.
Then it's back to the water, providing that the grunion grabbers don't get them first. Grunion hunting is legal for those in possession of a valid fishing license, but only bare hands may be used to catch the slippery fish.
Friday: 10:10 p.m.-12:10 a.m.
Saturday: 10:40 p.m.-12:40 a.m.
Sunday: 11:10 p.m.-1:10 a.m.
Monday: 11:55 p.m.-1:55 a.m.
Halibut will be the focus of attention in Santa Monica Bay this weekend when more than 1,000 fishermen are expected to participate in the 18th annual Marina del Rey Halibut Derby.
The weather may put a damper on the action, but tournament chairman Ed Burgh expects success anyway. More than 600 entries are in and more are coming in at a rate of 75 to 100 a day, he said.
Some of the proceeds will go to the Boy Scouts of America and toward marina conservation, but the lures to fishermen are the grand prize of a trip for two to Australia and a second prize of a Canadian salmon fishing trip, or a team grand prize of a trip to Costa Rica.
Anglers can compete individually for $35 and in teams for an additional $30. Entry forms are available at most tackle and sporting goods stores and must be received no later than 5 p.m. Friday.
For the record: Last week's column incorrectly listed new fishing regulations in effect on a stretch of the Owens River between Pleasant Valley Reservoir and Five Bridge Road.
From Pleasant Valley Dam to the footbridge at the lower end of the campground, the river will carry a 12-inch \o7 maximum\f7 size limit and a two-trout daily limit of fish taken by artificial lure only. Maximum size limits on fish are designed to protect fish that will eventually spawn in area waters, allowing the harvest of smaller fish.
The artificial spawning channel located about half a mile downstream from Pleasant Valley Dam remains closed to fishing year-round.
On the next 4.4 miles of the river, from the footbridge at Pleasant Valley campground to a DFG sign located along Chalk Bluffs Road, anglers are restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks and a zero-fish limit.
SALTWATER--El Nino, the warm-water phenomenon that is expected to boost Southland sportfishing this spring and summer, is already being credited with the unseasonable appearance of barracuda at the popular Horseshoe Kelp outside Los Angeles Harbor. The fish have been on the small side, but they have shown nonetheless after a slight increase in the water temperature.
Meanwhile, bonito have appeared a couple of months early off the east end of Catalina Island, which has fishermen there delighted because during last year's summer-that-wasn't, there wasn't much of a showing at all.
Bill Bradler of San Diego, meanwhile, is the potential world record holder of a bonito he caught on 16-pound tippet, according to Jim Seibert of the vessel Little Freedom.
Bradler, 42, caught a 5-pound 1.6-ounce bonito after a 20-minute fight Saturday off the Coronado Islands. The current record for the fly rod category is a 1-pound 2-ounce bonito.
Cabo San Lucas: Striped marlin fishing is excellent, according to Darrell Primrose of the Tortuga Fleet. Primrose said boats are averaging two billfish and several dorado a day. He credits warmer-than-normal water for a fair bite on wahoo, "which are usually nonexistent this time of year."
East Cape: The winds windsurfers have been waiting all winter for have finally arrived, to the dismay of fishermen. Hotel Rancho Buena Vista's monthly count dropped significantly as a result, with only one boat making it out Feb. 24-27. It reported one striped marlin each day and one rockfish. The windy season has a month or so to go.
Mazatlan: Sailfish, dorado and tuna are providing most of the action, but striped marlin and an occasional swordfish are showing. Top fish: a 171-pound 9-ounce swordfish, caught by North Carolina's William Matlack.
FLY-FISHING--The Downey Fly Fishers will hold a free instructional clinic at Downey Wilderness Park Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., with Montana guide and Tustin store owner Greg Lilley the featured instructor. Details: (310) 862-8961 or (714) 777-3572 weekdays between 6-9 p.m. . . . The Pasadena Casting Club will conduct a clinic for three Saturdays beginning this Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon at 415 South Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena. Cost is $10 per session; $15 for all three. Details: (818) 799-4373 or (818) 794-6973.
MISCELLANY--Volunteers are needed for the annual Imperial Valley Wildlife Area's spring cleanup/cookout, Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Area's Wister Unit check-in station off Highway 111, 3 1/2 miles north of Niland. Details: (619) 359-0577.