OUTDOOR NOTES : Southland Provides Surprising Catches

Where do you go to catch a giant tuna, a sailfish or a large dorado?

Somewhere off the west coast of Mexico?

Try Southern California.

To add to what has already been a strangely productive summer, a sailfish was caught just outside Dana Point Harbor, and giant bluefin and yellowfin tuna have been taken from offshore banks off Santa Catalina Island's east end.

Mac Oliphant, a Department of Fish and Game biologist, said the "extremely rare" catch of a sailfish--a 22.9-pounder caught by Dana Point's Roger Bush--last Friday occurred just beyond the Dana Point Harbor bell bouy in 52 feet of water and constitutes a 60-mile northern extension of the species' range, which in the Pacific Ocean had previously been from Chile to San Diego.

Balboa Angling Club member Karl Schmidbauer, fishing Sunday morning 10 miles east of Catalina, caught a 243.7-pound bluefin tuna after a 1-hour 10-minute fight on 80-pound test line. And a pair of anglers fishing several miles off the Orange County coast on Sept. 1 battled a 150-pound 9-ounce yellowfin for six hours on 40-pound line.

Long Beach resident Duane Molin hooked into the yellowfin while reeling in a trolling lure after the boat had stopped to bait fish alongside a kelp paddy. The fish struck the lure and sounded.

"At first we thought it was a dorado, just running away," said Allen Schneider of Westminster, who helped Molin fight the fish.

After the fish was brought to the surface, Schneider gaffed it at the base of the tail, bringing it back to life. "It came close to yanking me over," he said. "But I pulled back, raising the tail out of the water."

Carson's Bob Demesko, who maneuvered his 24-foot boat throughout the fight, then stuck a gaff in the fish's midsection, and Molin stuck another in its head. The three mounted a collective heave-ho and pulled it over the rail.

Kim Larson of Newport Beach caught a 66-pound dorado Sunday morning while fishing around a small kelp paddy 20 miles off Catalina's east end. The fish was taken on 30-pound test line after a 10-minute fight.

Earlier this summer, large schools of dorado and jumbo squid invaded Southland waters to make this one of the more unusual summers since the warm-water El Nino current of 1982-83, when yellowfin tuna and other exotics moved into local waters for a lengthy stay.

Experts say the current phenomenon is not a recurrence of El Nino, but one caused by weather and pressure systems that have served to warm the ocean's surface temperatures in Southern California, enabling species that normally inhabit waters well south of Southern California to move north.

"We have the unusually warm water, and (the large tuna) have been sliding up the line," said Ron Dotson, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. "They're around. It's just that, generally, if you hook something that big, you don't land it."


HUNTING--Eastern Sierra buck season began Saturday and will last until Sept. 23. The key to success in finding deer, biologists say, will be finding water. . . . Regulations outlining rules for upland game hunting for 1990-91 are available at sporting goods stores and DFG offices. Saturday also marked the opening of upland game bird season with mountain quail in Southern California and blue grouse in the Eastern Sierra, north of the Kern County-San Bernardino County lines. General pheasant season will follow, opening Nov. 10, and will coincide with the beginning of the 30-day fall turkey season. Limits, legal methods of take and shooting hours are described in the regulations.

Waterfowl: Brant, Nov. 1-30, two per day, four in possession; snipe, Oct. 6-Jan. 20, eight per day, 16 in possession; coots and moorhens, Oct. 13-Jan. 6 (Southern California zone), Oct. 12-Nov. 16 and Dec. 15-Jan. 6, 25 per day, 25 in aggregate possession.

SAN DIEGO FISHING--The water has warmed south of the landings, and yellowfin tuna have moved within range of the fleet. Fishermen aboard 10 boats Sunday caught 739 tuna, most weighing between six and 25 pounds. Point Loma Sportfishing's Charger reported catching 90 fish on one stop.

BAJA FISHING--Cabo San Lucas fishermen are finding dorado and yellowfin tuna to be the most cooperative species, with sailfish to 90 pounds close behind, according to Darrell Primrose of the Finisterra Tortuga Fleet. Striped marlin are finding the water too warm--between 88 and 90 degrees outside the harbor--and striper fishing is slow. At the East Cape, dorado and sailfish are providing the most action, with most dorado weighing between 25 and 35 pounds. Richard Castaneda of Hotel SPA Buenavista said boats are reporting as many as eight sailfish a day.

FLY FISHING--Chico Fernandez will demonstrate saltwater fly-tying techniques and discuss his exploits--he holds several world records and once caught a white marlin on a fly--at the Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers' Sept. 20 program at 6:30 p.m. at the Odyssey Restaurant in Mission Hills. Information: (818) 785-7306. . . .Instruction in basic fly fishing, fly casting and beginning, intermediate and advanced fly tying are offered through Greg Lilly's store in Tustin. Fees are charged. Information: (714) 669-1006. . . . Andy Burk will talk on "Fly Fishing the Streams and Lakes of Northern California" at the Pasadena Casting Club's meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Masonic Temple, 3130 Huntington Dr.

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