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Now Main Course (Albacore) Has a Side Dish (Calamari)

May 30, 1997|PETE THOMAS

These are some of the wildest times anyone can remember off the Southern California coast. First, albacore appeared in substantial numbers for the first time in 10 years, bringing a chaos to the waterfront only albacore fishermen can relate to.

"We can't accommodate all the calls we're getting," said Danny Sansome, owner of Point Loma Sportfishing in San Diego.

Now comes another invader, slightly smaller but a lot more bizarre, a rubbery critter with 10 arms and a tendency to make a mess of things when it finds itself in a sticky situation.

These would be jumbo squid, a fast-swimming mollusk normally found much farther south. Twilight boats from L.A. Harbor to Newport Beach have been putting their customers onto huge schools of these tasty cephalopods all week.

Those aboard the Freelance out of Davey's Locker in Newport Beach plopped 186 of the three- to five-pound squirters onto the deck the other day.

"My boat is a mess. That's all I can say, a mess, and the passengers were a mess," Norris Tapp, Freelance skipper, said upon his return to the landing. "But they never had so much fun. It was fun watching everyone try to not get wet."

The presence of squid, which last showed during an El Nino summer seven years ago, is an indication of another El Nino.

This will not please albacore fishermen, who will see their favorite game fish high-tail it out of here if the water gets any warmer.

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