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With This Group, You No Longer Need a Boat to Gloat

July 10, 1998|PETE THOMAS

Boaters get all the glory. They get more than their share of fish too. Those without fishing boats, or without means to board a fishing boat, sometimes feel left out.

Most fishing magazines snub non-boating anglers because they want to show pictures of people in shiny, new boats to make their boat-dealing advertisers happy. Non-boaters, it seems, are second-class citizens.

With all that in mind, Gil Sperry, 59, who does not own a boat, has founded the first organization for those like him, people who prefer to fish "with both feet on the ground."

The Professional Surf and Shore Casters Assn., or PESCA, is just getting started, but Sperry, the retired former owner of a lighting company who lives in San Clemente, said he already has signed up members from Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Italy, Croatia and Spain.

"Or target is to have 10,000 people signed up by 1999," Sperry says. "Our mission statement is to unite all those who participate in the original, purest and most common form of recreational sportfishing."

Sperry hopes to capitalize on the 400 million people--his estimate--around the world who fish from the shores of oceans and lakes, from the banks of streams and rivers, from docks, jetties and piers.

By joining PESCA, he says, surf and shore fishermen will "have a voice in conservation issues, an opportunity to get goods and services [through PESCA], and to get certification for the largest fish caught with both feet on the ground."

The latter part is intriguing. After joining PESCA, anglers can submit proof of shore- or structure-caught catches for approval as PESCA records. Sperry says these records probably will be turned over, eventually, to the International Game Fish Assn., official keeper of world records, and put in a new category for surf fishermen.

Not too long ago, the IGFA opened a special fly-fishing category and the Florida-based organization more recently opened a junior category. Why not a category for surf- or shore-caught fish?

Sperry, who is forming area chapters, also hopes to organize sweepstakes, through which members can win prizes for the biggest fish of various species, and tournaments around the world.

Many were skeptical when Sperry announced his plans a year or so ago. But not only does he have an organization, he also has created and sold a television show called "Surf & Shore Fishing the World," which is shown Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. on Fox Sports West and at 8:30 a.m. on The Outdoor Life Network.

Host of the show is surf fisherman Jeff Klassen, whom Sperry calls "the Michael Jordan of surf fishing." Klassen has set eight line-class world records over the years, but he has an advantage: He lives in Cabo San Lucas and has enormous roosterfish, snapper and snook within easy casting distance.

He's also involved with PESCA. Each member--at an annual cost of $25--gets a PESCA T-shirt, a Klassen signature lure and a one-year subscription to "Fish Taco Chronicles," which has nothing to do with food although the magazine once ran the caption, "Mexican chicken," beneath a picture of a pelican in Baja and caught hell from the Mexican Tourism Board.

Information about PESCA is available by calling (877) 737-2248 (toll-free) or on the Internet at http://www.pesca-int.com.

HOT BITES

* It's shaping up as a banner albacore season. The water temperature at the Butterfly Bank, a wing-shaped high spot accessible by boats from Los Angeles to San Diego, earlier this week dropped to a comfortable 64 degrees, so the fish should stick around a while. Daily hauls per boat are fluctuating between a dozen or so to more than 100 albacore, most in the 15- to 20-pound range, with fish to 40 pounds being caught aboard San Diego's multi-day boats about 140 miles southwest of Point Loma.

* Cabo San Lucas: Howard Perlman of Las Vegas caught a 496-pound blue marlin after a six-hour fight during a recent tournament that raised $200,000 for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County and introduced some of the youngsters in the program to big-game fishing. The group, aboard 36 sportfishers, caught and released 57 striped marlin and 17 sailfish, and boated 52 tuna, 19 dorado and two wahoo.

NO SNOWSHOES NEEDED

Eastern Sierra Nevada pack stations are finally able to take hikers and fishermen into the back country, though apparently the public is still under the impression that there's too much snow.

"Everybody thinks there's snow every place, but it's not every place. Well, not quite every place," says Bob Tanner, owner of Reds Meadow Pack Station near Mammoth Lakes. "The upper lakes are beginning to break up, and in two weeks or so it'll be more like a normal summer up there."

Meanwhile, there are substantial snowdrifts on the north-facing slopes above 9,000 feet, and only those pack stations that have access to lakes below 8,000 feet are able to find green grass to camp on.

BAJA BY FOOT

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