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OUTDOOR NOTES / PETE THOMAS

For Tuna Anglers, It Couldn't Be Better

October 12, 1994|PETE THOMAS

For those tuna-crazed anglers--and there are many judging from the scene on the high seas these days--this is certainly turning out to be a memorable fall.

South of San Diego they're still "knocking them silly," according to the venerable Ed McEwen, 76, skipper of the Pacific Queen, which runs out of Fisherman's Landing.

McEwen said Tuesday that there were reports of yet another school of yellowfin moving up the Baja California coast.

"We've had fish pass us, we have fish right out front and now there's this new area of fish 140 miles south coming this way," McEwen said.

As for those fish that bypassed San Diego, anglers from Redondo Beach to Oceanside have been knocking them silly for a week now.

The bite dropped dramatically over the weekend, but not for the lack of fish.

"There were more than 200 boats, private boaters, out there on the weekend running them down," said Dan Stanton, a spokesman for L.A. Harbor Sportfishing.

Most of the fish were driven deep and to the southeast, but were being taken by two-day boats Tuesday and reportedly moving back within range of the local overnight fleet.

"They went down like 1,000 feet and southeast, but now they're back on a track toward where they've been," Don Ashley, owner of Long Beach Sportfishing, said Tuesday afternoon. "I'd be surprised if we don't get into them again (today)."

Asked how long he expects the tuna to remain in the area, Ashley said as long as the weather holds up. "Until Dr. George says a major storm moving down upon us . . . then I'd say it's over."

*

While skippers of San Diego's overnight fleet finally seem content, those of the high-tech long-rangers are anything but.

Seems Mexico again is reluctant to issue annual permits letting the boats fish the Revillagigedo Islands this winter. The islands produce the biggest yellowfin tuna in the world and the fleet relies on the islands to stay afloat.

"We're negotiating right now," said Bob Fletcher, the Sportfishing Assn. of California president, who seems to spend as much time dealing with Mexico as the INS. "Hopefully it's just a matter of talking to the right people."

Fletcher said Mexico is drafting a management plan for the offshore islands and that it was understood in previous talks that San Diego-based sportfishers would be part of the plan.

*

The Sportfishing Assn. of California, or SAC, is holding a "Casino Night" Nov. 5 at the Ports O' Call Restaurant in San Pedro.

The group, which represents sportfishing interests in the state and has 270 members from San Diego to Santa Barbara, hopes to raise enough money to continue to wage legal and political battles to keep its fleet above water.

Admission is $35, with tickets limited to 300. Using scrip, participants may play games including blackjack, craps and a wheel of fortune to win prizes contributed by supporters. For more information, call (619) 226-6455.

*

Quail and chukar hunting seasons open Saturday and, thanks to two consecutive production years, experts predict a plentiful supply of birds in most areas.

And while they're still bird-brains, this year's are supposed to be smarter than last.

"Last year we had, literally, tens of thousands of first-year chukar and boy, they were stupid," said John Massie, a Department of Fish and Game biologist. "Hunters could just walk up on them and get in some good shooting. This year's bird will jump long, fly far and remain quiet."

Massie said San Diego County and high-elevation locations in western Riverside County might produce best, but bird populations in Imperial County south of the Salton Sea are also stable.

In Los Angeles County, mountain quail will be found in fair numbers above 5,000 feet in the Liebre and Sawmill ranges in the northeastern portion of the Angeles National Forest. The region above Castaic Lake should also be productive. A good bet for valley quail is the San Francisquito Canyon area off Interstate 5 north of the Highway 126 turnoff.

Bag limits for valley quail, mountain quail and Gambel's quail are 10 per day with 20 in possession for multi-day trips. Hunters are allowed six chukar, 12 in possession.

Briefly

BAJA FISHING--Yellowtail, pound-for-pound as strong if not stronger than yellowfin tuna, have begun to feed in force at San Benitos Island off Baja. Twenty-five fishermen aboard the Vagabond sacked 317 of the slender jacks during a six-day trip that ended Sunday. The American Angler reported a slightly smaller count but included were slightly bigger fish, with three weighing 44 pounds or more, including a 46-pounder caught by 8-year-old Kai Ellison of Ventura. . . . Competitors in this month's Bisbee's Black and Blue marlin tournament--Oct. 25-29 at Cabo San Lucas--have to be counting the days, hoping the bite holds up. Both species of marlin have been busy running off line in recent weeks and this past week is no exception. Top catch: a 738-pound blue marlin caught five miles outside Cabo San Lucas.

CONSERVATION--By catching two dozen undersize white seabass, anglers aboard Helgren's Sportfishing boats in Oceanside did a small part to help the beleaguered fishery. The fish were transported to Hubbs-Sea World to act as breeders as part of an ongoing hatchery project. A hatchery in Carlsbad is scheduled to be completed next March and will be capable of producing 400,000 white seabass fingerlings per year.

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