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FAIR GAME PETE THOMAS

June 15, 2004|PETE THOMAS

Lion and rooster

It juts only 60 feet into Baja California's East Cape, but the fishing pier that doubles as a dock for Rancho Leonero Resort is the site of epic battles between people and fish.

Last week, hotel mechanic Sergio Pimentel was greeting fishermen when he saw dorsal fins of roosterfish slicing the water. He grabbed bait from one of the boats, made a cast and spent the next 25 minutes pumping and reeling amid a gathering crowd.

His prize: an estimated 50-pounder, which he released.

Last year a local pier angler made an even bigger splash when he caught a sailfish while fishing with a Tecate can spooled with line.

Tighten laces

An unidentified Southland angler, fishing recently from the dock near the Marina del Rey bait receiver, was knocked out of his shoes by a rampaging 500-pound sea lion.

"His feet came right out of his shoes. I have five witnesses," reports Rick Oefinger, owner of the bait operation.

The sea lion lunged from the water and knocked down the man, who got up and drew his knife before the blubbery pinniped jiggled back into the water.

"He put down the knife, put his shoes back on and went back to fishing," Oefinger says. He says sea lions loitering near the bait receiver are becoming increasingly bold.

Big coolers

The bag limit increases from one to three white sea bass on Wednesday, now that the spawning season is over. This has been a poor season so far, but the same thing happened last year before a furious run began about this time and lasted two weeks.

"It was perfect because as soon as it ended, the albacore had moved up and we had them to go after," says Don Ashley, owner of Pierpoint Landing and Marina Sportfishing in Long Beach. That pattern may manifest this year as albacore, the hot bite for the San Diego fleet right now, are poised for a northern push.

Is it Mr. Limpet?

Free-DIVING spear fishermen have been regularly skewering white sea bass to about 50 pounds. One advantage they have over boat anglers is the ability to hear the fish, which are called "croakers."

Local expert Skip Hellen, in the June issue of Underwater Hunters Report, says males emit a deep, single loud croak audible from more than 300 feet. A low-pitched "but definite cadence croak" means a group of large females is near. A chirping croak usually comes from a small male "and rarely are there any females in these schools," he says.

Hunting clinic

The Department of Fish and Game is offering a two-day big-game hunting clinic June 26 and 27 in Williams, Calif. The event focuses on safety, preparation, weapons and strategy for hunting deer. Friday is the deadline to register. Details: (916) 653-7448 or www.dfg.ca.gov/coned/huntclinics.

To e-mail Pete Thomas or read his previous Fair Game columns, go to latimes.com/petethomas.

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