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OUTDOOR NOTES / PETE THOMAS

Novices Get a Taste of Top Sportfishing by Battling Bluefin

August 11, 1993|PETE THOMAS

Many of those aboard the Royal Polaris last week had no idea what to expect, having never tackled a tuna.

But even the long-range veterans couldn't have expected to encounter a school of frenzied bluefin tuna that seemed to increase as the trip progressed.

At one point--135 miles southwest of Point Loma--skipper Brian Kiyohara put his 29 customers on a school of fair-sized tuna at 8:30 in the morning. Three hours later, they were still involved in muscle-wrenching battles, but with larger fish--in the 100- to 200-pound class. The bite lasted all day.

The vessel returned from the four-day trip Saturday with 206 bluefin, 52 topping 100 pounds and the largest a 206.7-pounder.

"These guys were. . . stockbrokers in their business suits and had ever been on a long-range trip before," said Frank LoPreste, owner of the vessel. "It was a rental-rod crowd. They did a hell of job, though."

Indeed, the McAdams family has a tale to tell back in Seattle. Suzanne McAdams, who weighs only 104 pounds, won a battle with a 131-pound bluefin. Her father took a 135-pounder and her two brothers landed seven fish of more than 100 pounds.

"I don't know of this ever happening before," said LoPreste, 49, who has been in the long-range fishing business for most of his life. "The boat, with the tails sticking up over the rail, absolutely looked like it was returning from a 17-day trip (to tuna-rich southern Mexico)."

*

While giant tuna are not common close to the Southland, they are abundant 1,200 or so miles farther south at the Revillagigedo Islands, which were closed a few months ago by the Mexican government. Mexico cited concerns over the near-shore marine environment--primarily the illegal taking of tropical aquarium fish.

The news was disheartening for San Diego landing operators, whose 40 to 50 trips to the islands each year helped support the fleet; and for fanatical long-range fishermen, who prepare year-round for their annual encounters with super-charged yellowfin tuna the size of a small car.

As it turns out, there will be another long-range season this fall. Bob Fletcher, president of the Sportfishing Assn. of California, was told Tuesday by Mexico's Secretary of Fisheries that permits will be issued to the fleet on the condition that vessels pass through a Mexican port for inspection before returning home and that they don't fish within a quarter-mile of the islands.

A relieved Fletcher said the restrictions will not affect the long-range operation.

*

It was hoped that an albacore season was getting under way off the central California coast, but it seems to have ended before it began.

Skipper Taylor Freeland of the Princess out of Virg's Landing in Morro Bay had reason to be optimistic 10 days ago, after his passengers had boated nine albacore and lost many more. But the next time out, last Thursday, he was nearly blown off the water as high winds and rough seas protected any albacore there might have been.

Virg's sent another vessel out Tuesday night.

Briefly

SALTWATER--Locally, the water temperature has dropped and the fishing has slowed, but you won't persuade those aboard the six-pack charter boat Jawbreaker. After coming up empty at one floating kelp paddy Tuesday morning, they found another near the 14-mile bank loaded with dorado. "I saw this kelp paddy with a bird on it, and as I was pulling toward it I noticed this flash of fish, large fish, beneath it," skipper Rich Tricarico said. "I alerted the passengers and then I saw this dorado jump 10 feet into the air as if to say, 'We're here, come and catch us.' " The four passengers caught 40 dorado in the 12- to 15-pound class, filling one large gunny sack and releasing the rest.

Cabo San Lucas: Blue marlin season is in swing, with skippers reporting up to three per day. Dorado and tuna are abundant as well. San Jose del Cabo: Dorado concentrated at Gordo and San Luis banks, readily taking small- to medium-sized lures. Catches of 10-plus are not uncommon. Tuna also good. Wahoo fair. A 1,000-pound black marlin was reportedly caught by two locals after a 20-hour fight aboard a panga. La Paz: Large tuna being taken in early mornings and dorado plentiful. Loreto: Dorado prevalent, billfish scattered. Yellowtail and tuna fair.

HUNTING--Hunters got the news they hoped for last week when the state Fish and Game Commission voted to continue to allow the use of radio-collared dogs to hunt bears. The controversial method of hunting was made more so several months ago when Department of Fish and Game Director Boyd Gibbons recommended that the practice be discontinued because it presented a "moral dilemma." Hunters are allowed to kill 1,250 black bears each year. Two-thirds of those are killed with the help of radio-collared dogs. And because of a healthy black bear population, and because of revenue generated by bear hunters, the commission saw no reason to change the rules. Animal rights groups have vowed to oppose the practice.

Saturday marks the beginning of the general buck hunting season and wildlife biologists say conditions are excellent in the southernmost part of Zone A, thanks to heavy rainfall the past two years that brought an end to the drought. As a result, deer numbers are up in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Suggested areas: Matilija Creek and Nordhoff Ridge off Highway 33 near Wheeler Springs. "Hunters should find a lot of coastal blacktail, with a fewer mule deer at the higher elevations of Ventura County," biologist Morgan Boucke said. A slower deer recovery rate is taking place in the northern portions of the zone. The DFG said an "ample" number of tags remain available.

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