Outdoor Notes / Pete Thomas : Giant Tuna Not Biting, Sharks Are

Long-range fishing trips in search of giant yellowfin tuna are in full swing, and thus far most of the trips have been memorable to say the least.

That of the Polaris Supreme, which returned to San Diego last week from a 16-day venture south, was no different.

“We saw lots of cows (giant tuna), but they just weren’t biting,” said Mike Lettau, a crew member aboard the sportfisher.

But apparently the sharks were.


Houston resident David Billingsley, after hooking up with a giant tuna near the boat’s stern, found out why his fight lasted only an hour: his 332-pound fish came up with about 40 pounds missing, courtesy of hungry sharks. “It was a bunch of small bites,” Lettau said.

Earl King fought his fish for 2 1/2 hours before crew members, looking down 75 feet into the clear blue water, saw a large shark take one big chunk out of the fish.

The fight ended immediately and King brought up a 336.8-pound tuna that Lettau said lost about 10 pounds to the shark.

In all, the 18 anglers fishing Clarion Island, part of the Revillagigedo chain, caught just 80 yellowfin, but were kept busy with a tremendous wahoo bite, catching 270 of the slender but powerful game fish. “We were catching 40 or 50 a day, every day,” Lettau said.


Entries are still being accepted for this weekend’s Santa Monica Bay Halibut Derby, proceeds of which go to the Boys’ Club of Santa Monica and the DFG-Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Halibut Hatchery Project, which is working toward the release of thousands of hatchery-raised halibut into local waters. Information: (213) 450-5131.

Saltwater fishermen tagged and released 124 of the estimated 642 striped marlin caught off the Southern California coast in 1988, according to recently released figures. An average of 800 striped marlin are caught in local waters annually.

Parts of two rivers in Eastern California would be taken into the state’s wild and scenic river system under a bill introduced earlier this month.

The measure, authored by Assemblyman Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto), chairman of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, also would ban dams and hydroelectric power stations on a third river in Northern California.


Sher’s bill seeks wild and scenic status under state law for 10-mile segment of the east fork of the Carson River in Alpine County, and 38 miles of the West Walker River in Mono County.

The bill also would forbid development along 53 miles of the McCloud River and one of its tributaries--Squaw Valley Creek--in Shasta and Lassen counties. The McCloud is a tributary of the Sacramento River.

Five rivers were granted wild and scenic status by the state in 1972 under legislation signed by Ronald Reagan, the governor at the time. They are parts of the Eel, Klamath, Smith and Trinity rivers in Northwest California, and a 22-mile segment of the lower American River near Sacramento. The five later were incorporated into the federal system during the Carter administration.

Segments of four other rivers since have won wild and scenic status under federal law, but are not state-protected.


They are the Tuolumne, Kern, Kings and Merced rivers.


DFG director Pete Bontadelli has been named winner of the 1988 Golden Trout Award by California Trout Inc. for being “the public official who has made the most distinguished and significant contribution toward the protection and improvement of wild trout, native steelhead and the waters that nurture them.”

San Diego’s 9th annual Day at the Docks, the West Coast’s largest sportfishing industry get-together, attended by 35,000 last year, will run April 22-23 at H&M;, Point Loma and Fisherman’s landings.


Medical emergencies at sea will be the topic of discussion by Dr. Robert M. Kahn and the Assn. of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs, with support from the Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center and Nethercutt Emergency Center and Sea Tek, a San Pedro powerboat rigging company. Program begins at 7 p.m. April 4 at King Harbor Yacht Club and April 11 at Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey.

The DFG is offering a 73-page Guide to Artificial Reefs of Southern California, illustrating location, topography and marine resources living among the 22 artificial reefs from Central California to San Diego County. Cost is $3 if bought at DFG’s Long Beach office and $4 if purchased through mail: DFG Marine Division-K.M., 330 Golden Shore, Suite 50, Long Beach, Calif., 90802.

A DFG census of bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel Mountains show the population to be healthy and stable, with 295 animals counted over a two-day period. An estimated 500-700 animals reside in the area, according to biologist Tom Paulek.

The Ventura County Marine Assn. is holding its first-ever boat show, featuring more than 200 boats in the water and on shore, April 20-23 at Channel Islands Harbor.


Fishing information: 976-TUNA, the fishing information phone line, has expanded to include fresh water and Salton Sea reports, which will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . A seven-week ocean fishing class, taught by Al Zapanta, begins tonight at 6:30 at Orange Coast College: (714) 432-5880.