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FAIR GAME PETE THOMAS

September 23, 2003

Hump days

The recent invasion of yellowfin tuna into U.S. waters, a blitz that occurs only during warm-water summers, seems to be the perfect cure for the ailments of civilization.

"If you could find a kelp paddy, you'd get well in a hurry," said Bob Fletcher, president of the Sportfishing Assn. of California. "The paddies are holding a lot of fish. One boat would get 100, leave and call in another boat, and they'd do the same thing."

Catching 100 or more tuna is called going over the hump, which is what captains of overnight boats are doing these days at places such as the 60-mile bank southwest of Point Loma, Calif.

Fletcher, who teamed with 31 others to boat 130 yellowfin there late last week aboard the Legend, out of Seaforth Sportfishing, now is a popular man in his neighborhood.

"I have lots of friends," he acknowledged. "I already gave my next-door neighbor a big bag of fillets."

The yellowfin are running 12 to 20 pounds in currents averaging about 70 degrees.

Jacked up

The fast action isn't just on the outer banks. Yellowtail finally have taken up temporary residence at Catalina, and anyone with a bait tank full of squid or sardines is finding the jacks somewhat cooperative.

"They're on the back side, the ends of the island, the front side -- anywhere you go you're almost assured to see yellowtail at or near the surface," said Norris Tapp, general manager of Davey's Locker Sportfishing in Newport Beach.

Tapp was careful not to say you're ensured of catching the powerful swimmers, which are adept at bolting for the rocks.

"We sat out there for four hours the other day and consistently had yellowtail going," he said. "But we probably lost 70 or 80 and got only 58."

Spare the spear

Lobster season is four days away, but "poaching knows no season," said Mike Norris, a state Department of Fish and Game warden who recently broke up a crustacean-pilfering incident off the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

"When I saw three gentlemen going over the side of a boat in broad daylight with spear guns and dive lights, I called up wardens [Spencer] Gilbert and [Christian] Corbo and told them they might want to head my way on their skiff," Norris said via e-mail.

While Norris was shooting videotape that he says shows the men throwing bags over the side, Gilbert and Corbo arrived, dived to the bottom and recovered four bags containing 56 lobsters -- all had been speared.

Various misdemeanor charges were filed last week against Keujae Choi, 45, of Glendale; Young Gu Lee, 39, of Northridge; and Jeong Woo Lee, 39, of La Crescenta.

The lobsters were donated to a Redondo Beach church that operates a kitchen for the homeless and people with AIDS.

Lobster season opens at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and runs through March 17. The bag limit is seven per day. They can be taken only by hand or hoop net; spearing is not allowed.

Fish for nothing

Saturday is the second of two state-sponsored free fishing days in California, when no license is required to wet a line.

To mark the event, free clinics are being held from 8 a.m. to noon at Hollenbeck Park in Los Angeles and Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in San Dimas. Catfish will be planted beforehand. For details, call (562) 342-7148.

Split seasons

The California Fish and Game Commission has adopted waterfowl regulations that feature a split 105-day hunting season for the northeastern part of the state and a 99-day season elsewhere.

The northeastern zone hunt runs Oct. 11 to Dec. 9 and Dec. 12 to Jan. 25. In the rest of the state, the season is Oct. 18 to Nov. 19 and Nov. 21 to Jan. 25.

The bag limit for ducks is seven per day, 14 in possession, with various species restrictions. Goose season runs Nov. 1 to Jan. 25. The limit is three per day.

Details are online at www.dfg.ca.gov.

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