Fishing : Sculpin Can Be Mighty Tasty, but Beware of Those Spines

The sculpin is an ugly little rascal.

It is known as the scorpion fish because of large, horny spines. An angler who is hooked can suffer excruciating pain. There are 40 species in California waters.

Sculpin have saved many days when fishing is slow and game fish refuse to grab bait. Anglers can catch the little thornback by going to the bottom in any South Bay rocky reef.

If an angler gets spiked, ice can keep the selling down, but not the pain.

Bill Tower, biologist at Cabrillo Marine Museum, said to his knowledge there is no relief that will immediately dissipate the pain of the spines, which can last from 20 minutes to--sometimes--a full day.

On party boats, the spiny thorns are removed before the fish is taken off the hook.

When it comes to eating, anglers agree sculpin is a taste treat.

It's hands off grunion grabbing. The season is closed until June 5 at 10:45 p.m.

Grunion can still be observed on South Bay beaches and on May 22 at 8 p.m. the Cabrillo Museum will offer seaside programs. Viewers are urged to bring blankets and flashlights to observe the frolicking silvers. For information and reservations, call 548-7563.

The South Bay Flyfishers Club will hold a casting clinic at the Del Rey Lagoon from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. For information, call 412-2849.

South Bay Catches:

Duane McCutcheon of Manhattan Beach, fishing at Catalina Island aboard the Blackjack, used a live squid to hook the whopper of the week, a 48-pound white sea bass.

Tom Nelwise of Harbor City, aboard the Hitless Miss at Catalina, won the jackpot with his 33-pound white sea bass.

Craig Cuneo of West Los Angeles, at Catalina aboard the El Dorado, pulled a yellowtail out of the kelp to win the jackpot with his 27-pounder.

Dion Danti of Venice, fishing aboard the Grande 85 at Catalina, caught a 26-pound halibut.

Bob Lewis of Torrance, fishing aboard the Red Baron, won the jackpot with a 20-pound salmon.

Fish Reports:

Barracuda catches remain steady in all areas. At Catalina, bonito along with some yellowtail are being caught with live squid.

Santa Monica Bay halibut fishing has improved after several days of slow bites.

At Marina del Rey Sportfishing: The Happyman on two half-day trips found the halibut eager to take the bait, with anglers catching 41, plus 25 sculpin.

The Betty O rock cod special fished the shallow rock reefs and returned with 240 rock cod plus one lingcod.

At Redondo Sportfishing: The Blackjack worked Catalina and anglers landed 115 calico bass, seven white sea bass and six halibut.

The Seaspray fished Rocky Point and found a wide-open barracuda bite, with 210 going into the sacks.

The Redondo Special on two half-day trips chalked up 208 barracuda.

At 22nd Street Landing: The First String fished Catalina and returned with 108 barracuda and 17 bonito.

The Monte Carlo struck at Catalina for 78 calico and bull bass and 43 bonito.

The Queen of the Sea fished Horseshoe Kelp and anglers caught 37 barracuda and 11 sand bass.

At L.A. Harbor Sportfishing: The Matt Walsh headed to White's Point on a half-day trip and chalked up 138 sculpin and 20 sand bass.

The Sportking's trip to Catalina resulted in a variety: 173 bonito, 73 calico bass, seven barracuda, five blue perch and one sheepshead.

The Grande 85 fished the west end of Catalina and anglers caught 105 bonito, five barracuda and one halibut.

The Annie B barge had a weekend count of 650 kingfish, 511 queenfish, three halibut, two sharks and one sculpin.

At Long Beach Sportfishing: The Victory fished the oil rigs and anglers sacked 216 barracuda and 23 bonito.

The Southern Cal worked Horseshoe Kelp on a morning trip and returned with 136 barracuda.

The El Dorado headed to San Clemente Island with squid and returned with 160 bull bass, 45 sheepshead, 27 sculpin and two yellowtail.

Freshwater Reports:

Joe Rius of Torrance used power bait to land a 5 1/2-pound trout at Irvine Lake.

Bob Lefler of El Segundo used salmon eggs and caught a limit of trout up to three pounds at Mammoth Lake.

Mark Meeks of Long Beach landed a 12 1/2-pound catfish using power bait at Santa Ana River Lakes.

Cal Cochran of El Segundo used power bait and caught trout to three pounds at Mammoth Lake.

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