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OUTDOOR NOTES : Biologists Expect Albacore Migration to Be Modest

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the albacore fisherman wondering if, when and where the tuna are going to appear, the National Marine Fisheries Service has issued its annual forecast, based mainly on oceanic conditions throughout the species’ migratory routes.

Biologists with the NMFS-Southwest Fisheries Center in La Jolla say there will be modest to moderate landings this season, but prospects “could improve with more favorable ocean conditions.”

Unfortunately for Southland anglers, the highest availability of albacore will likely be in the waters off the Pacific Northwest, with the tuna arriving in late July.

One area with the highest potential for sportfishing will be off the Columbia River and Grays Harbor, the service says.

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Southern and Central California fishermen face poorer prospects, but they could improve “substantially” in the Southern California Bight “if there is a reasonably successful migration of fish into the bight from offshore regions,” the service says.

The good news is that prospects appear good for the appearance of other exotic species of fish--including tuna--which the service says will come within reach of the San Diego sportfishing fleet as summer progresses.

“Warm-water currents flowing northward along the coast of Baja California should provide an avenue to bring in bigeye and yellowfin tuna, skipjack, dorado and other highly desirable exotic fish,” the bulletin said.

The service will pay $2 and give a baseball cap with a special albacore tagging logo to anyone returning a yellow albacore tag. It will buy any albacore--at the cannery price--and pay $50 for any fish carrying a red tag. Information must include where, when and how the fish was caught, and its length from the tip of the lower jaw to the tail.

Marlin season officially gets underway next week. And although first-marlin-of-the-year honors won’t be up for grabs--they were taken by Huntington Harbour’s Sean McWhinney, whose eight years of fishing experience paid off New Year’s Day with a 110-pound striper off Point Loma--anglers figure to be out in force for the July 4 holiday period.

“We won’t have any flags to give out for the first marlin, but we’ll have one to give for the first marlin released,” said Helen Smith of the Balboa Angling Club. Neither the Balboa club, Avalon Seafood or the San Diego Marlin Club--the Southland’s primary weigh stations--have reported any marlin caught.

“We haven’t weighed any yet, but the commercial boats have been spotting them all week,” said Rosie Cadman at Avalon.

Her son, Jon, added: “One guy--he was best man at my wedding and I was best man at his wedding so he has no reason to be pulling my leg--said he saw four marlin just right here off the Avalon Bank.”

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How far does a striped marlin travel?

One caught and tagged off New Zealand turned up more than 8,000 miles away in French Polynesia.

The striper had enjoyed 233 days of freedom before being caught for a second time by a Japanese long-line vessel northwest of the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Three world-record catches off the Southern and Baja California coast were recently approved by the International Game Fish Assn.:

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--An 8-pound 11-ounce sand bass, caught off Oceanside on July 1, 1989, by Dave Bruce, all-tackle category.

--A 14-pound 13-ounce California halibut, caught in Santa Monica Bay on Dec. 3, 1989, by Chris Hart, 4-pound category.

--A 114-pound 10-ounce striped marlin, caught off Cabo San Lucas on Jan. 31, 1990, by Elizabeth Hogan, a women’s 4-pound category.

Virtually all bass fishing tournaments are now catch-and-release, but few leave the fishery better off than before.

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The Southern California-based American Bass Assn. planted 8,000 three-inch Florida largemouths and 40 breeders during its tournament at Lake Isabella near Bakersfield recently, hoping to bolster the lake’s bass population.

Earlier, the ABA and the Ventura Bass Club placed 100 adult lemon trees into Lake Casitas near Ventura to improve bass habitat.

The Department of Fish and Game doesn’t stock bass--only trout and catfish--and is unable to help financially, so bass anglers have to look out for themselves.

Briefly

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About 3,000 members are expected to attend the Federation of Fly Fishers’ silver anniversary convention at Eugene, Ore. July 30-Aug. 4. Details: (818) 281-8173. . . .A new, detailed trail map of the Angeles High Country in the San Gabriel Mountains is available by sending $7.33 (which includes tax and shipping) to Tom Harrison Cartography, 333 Bellam Blvd., San Rafael, CA. 94901. The six-color, topographical map shows mileages between trail junctions and locations of ranger stations, campgrounds and target shooting areas.

The DFG warns that because of a virulent disease--upper respiratory syndrome--well-meaning conservationists should not return domestic tortoises to the desert. Following a recent listing as “threatened” by the Fish and Game Commission, it is now illegal to remove a tortoise from the desert. Sick tortoises should be taken to a veterinarian. . . .Mammoth Mountain Ski Area will be a mountain bike park this summer, beginning Friday. Lift tickets will be $15 for adults, $7.50 for children 12 and under.

The Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep is seeking volunteers for its 20th annual three-day desert wildlife census starting Sunday. Information: (818) 790-8850.

The San Gabriel Valley Flyfishers will conduct a free beginners casting clinic today at 6:30 p.m. at the Legg Lake/Whittier Narrows Dam Visitors Center. Details: (818) 331-8036.

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