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Pete Thomas / ON THE OUTDOORS

A little albacore activity means a lot of interest

June 08, 2007|Pete Thomas

Most days he's just another skipper, but this week Brian Simms is the pied piper of San Diego.

On Monday, anglers aboard the Royal Star, with Simms at the helm, bagged three albacore weighing 22-25 pounds about 90 miles southwest of San Diego.

The catches, after a triple-jig strike, were made by Maurice Kendall of Dana Point, Scott Whitman of Aliso Viejo and Richard Cota of Rosemead. A baited albacore was lost near the boat.

The long-anticipated season's first catch of these immensely popular tuna brought an end to telephone silence in landing offices and prompted plans for a widespread search this weekend.

"I wouldn't say the phones are ringing off the hook, but there's definitely a lot more interest," said Gary White, a spokesman for Fisherman's Landing, from which the Royal Star operates.

When the triple-jig strike occurred, the Royal Star, which was on a 1 1/2 -day excursion, was the lone vessel in the area.

It's back in the vicinity this morning -- with company.

"I'm sure guys will catch more soon because there's good water down below and out to the west and southwest, where that fish is coming from," Simms said. "This is the tip of the iceberg, and we just got lucky and got the first ones."

Cyber frenzy

It'll take more than three fish to lure big crowds onto albacore charters, but mere mention of the season's first catch lured thousands onto the Southland's top saltwater fishing website.

Philip Friedman, founder of 976tuna.com, said that traffic on his site steadily increased Monday and by day's end it was double the norm. The site received 1,800,000 hits and 9,402 unique sessions.

"After we broke the news, we sent an e-mail alert to 30,000 people, and after that our stats were as good as they've been all year long," Friedman said. "And even though no fish were caught Tuesday they were still coming."

Creature clashes

With Southland waters teeming with Humboldt squid, imagine the dynamics at play beneath the surface.

Two weekends ago, the voracious cephalopods, which can measure five feet and weigh 100 pounds, were blamed for running barracuda out of Santa Monica Bay.

Last Saturday, an angler aboard the six-pack vessel Rampage, out of Dana Point, reeled in a 190-pound mako shark whose midsection was riddled with suction wounds probably inflicted by frenzied squid.

"There was also a chunk out of its side," said Capt. Larry Phoenix, adding that the squid attack did not occur while the shark was hooked. "I'm pretty sure that's what the sharks were feeding on out there, and I think the squid decided to fight back."

Scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla have studied the stomach contents of mako and blue sharks and learned that they do, indeed, key on Humboldt squid.

Reel deals

* Sea bass strike: Highlighting a weeklong white sea bass bite at Santa Catalina Island was the capture Tuesday of a 58-pounder by Richard Topp of Long Beach. The bag limit for the tasty croakers increases from one to three June 16.

* Hawaii blues: Corona's Jeff Bennett, aboard his Kona-based Long Ranger, recently took in a 775-pound blue after a grueling 90-minute battle to win a shootout that unofficially crowns the Hawaii state marlin fishing champion.

As reported by www.fishinghawaiioffshore.com, it took a team effort that also involved Capt. Lance Gelman and crewman Steve Sahines.

* Seven-hour swordfish: Fly-fishermen Bob Preble and Michael Reeve flew recently from New Hampshire to Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort on Baja California's East Cape, but they required conventional gear to bait and battle a 167-pound swordfish that took seven hours to land.

It was the hotel's third swordfish of the season.

* Corbina, anyone? A free surf-fishing clinic will be held at Bolsa Chica State Beach on Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. No license is required.

Equipment is available for loan and balloon-tire wheelchairs will be provided for disabled anglers. Information: Bill Burhans at (714) 377-5691 or bburhans@parks.ca.gov.

Finally, some pig

By now the world is familiar with the story about Jamison Stone, 11, who on May 3 used a 50-caliber pistol to bag, with eight bullets, a pig that weighed 1,051 pounds.

The story had more twists and turns than the mighty Mississippi, ultimately ebbing when it was revealed that the great beast being hunted on an east Alabama game preserve wasn't even wild.

It was a domesticated hog named Fred, recently sold to the preserve.

Mike Stone, Jamison's father, did not know this going in and said last week that the hunt was supposed to represent a challenge for a boy entering his formative years.

"I just wanted to see if he was going to have the courage to accomplish something that would be scary, and keep his sanity about him and move forward with it under the best set of circumstances, and come out with something to be satisfying at the end."

End results: yes, yes, probably not ... and a resounding no.

--

pete.thomas@latimes.com

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