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THE OUTDOORS : Outdoor Notes / Pete Thomas : Good News for Fishermen: Waters Off Cabo Are Warming

Spring is coming and the water off Cabo San Lucas is warming, which is good news to fishermen at the southern end of the Baja Peninsula because warmer water generally means better fishing.

According to John (J.D.) Doughty of Bisbee’s Tackle in Newport Beach, a band of green water on the Pacific side “is holding a tonnage of bait” and striped marlin and dorado, and an occasional tuna can be found at such areas as the Golden Gate and Jaime banks and the Tinaja Trough, as well as in the deep-water canyons closer to shore, where fishermen are reporting seeing 10 to 30 stripers a day. Still, fishing remains fair at best.

“These marlin are pretty well fed,” Doughty said. “They’re not readily attacking cast baits.”

Meanwhile, fishermen working mainland Mexico off Manzanillo are reporting good catches of dorado and yellowfin tuna to 100 pounds, and an occasional blue marlin to 500 pounds.

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Farther south, off Zihuatanejo, fishermen on private yachts are reporting one to two blue marlin a day, and the local charter captains are concentrating on the abundant sailfish population, catching an occasional blue or black marlin.

En route home from a day of sturgeon fishing in San Francisco Bay recently, captain Mike Andrews talked about how, for the last seven summers, he has skippered a boat in Alaska in search of the giant Pacific halibut, and about how he learned of the power of his prey.

“When I first got up there, the owner asked me what kind of gun I wanted to use. I told him I never like to use a gun. I had this ‘I’ll show those guys’ attitude.

“Well . . . the first fish was about 80 pounds, and it was a little trouble, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Well, the next fish was over a hundred pounds, and it gave a pretty good fight. But we get this fish up alongside the boat, gaff it and we start sliding it over the rail . . . again, no real problem. And that’s when he went nuts and started smashing things.

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“It just tore the boat up. . . . I mean it was ridiculous. It broke all the poles, tossed one of ‘em overboard, just smashed a guy’s $1,000 tackle box. I mean all hell broke loose.”

The worst part, Andrews said, was the experienced guides nearby, laughing at his expense.

“They were just cackling away,” he recalled. “They pointed at me and said, ‘Oh there’s Ol’ Mike, he never uses a gun. Oh look at that guy’s tackle box . . . Oooohhh gosh.’ ”

Andrews, 34, a bit wiser from the experience, has since acquired a firearm to subdue the powerful flatfish that grow to more than 300 pounds.

Add Alaska wildlife: Salmon fishing in Alaska’s wild streams and rivers has one unwritten rule that most fishermen prefer to follow, and for good reason. Andrews found that out the hard way, too.

“They told me we only keep the last fish we catch,” he recalled. “At first I thought it was a conservation thing, so I said OK. But the first cast (produced) a 25-pound salmon and there’s no way I’m going to let this fish go. It was the biggest salmon I had ever caught. I said ‘I’m going to keep this sucker.’ They said ‘OK, but you make sure you wrap it up and put it downstream.’

“So I wrap this fish up and go put it downstream, along the way wondering, ‘Why do these guys make such a big fuss?’ Well, a few minutes later, here comes this big ol’ bear out of the brush. He grabs the fish, knocks all the wrapping off of it, looks over at me and says ‘Thank you very much.’ ”

A mid-winter survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows wintering duck populations in the Pacific Flyway to be the lowest on record. The 3.4 million ducks counted in January, 1989, are 7% fewer than the previous winter low of 3.6 million in 1987.

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Years of drought and subsequent habitat loss are being blamed on the poor counts and the Wildlife Service hinted at further restrictions on waterfowl hunting.

Briefly

The American Sportsman, the longest-running network television show devoted to outdoors and conservation, returns to ABC television April 2, with longtime host Curt Gowdy taking viewers on a trout fishing trip in New Zealand. . . . The annual Santa Monica Bay Halibut Derby April 1-2 lists Dodger pitcher Tim Leary as its “first official entry.” That’s the same week as the Freeway Series with the Angels.

The fishery at Success Lake in Tulare County is recovering from the chemical treatment it received last November to remove the junk fish that threatened the survival of game fish, and the DFG is asking the public to return all game fish, except trout, so that they can spawn. . . . Raahauge’s Shotgun Sports in Norco will hold the first of three California Slam Sporting Clays tournaments March 18-19.


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