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OUTDOOR NOTES : The Catch Is, Yellowfin Aren’t Supposed to Be Up There

El Nino or not, it has been a strange summer, and it keeps getting stranger.

There’s the poor showing of tuna down south, which has captains in a quandary. There’s also the near absence of marlin locally, which has billfish club members perplexed.

Then there’s the news of a 125-pound striped marlin caught Saturday off the San Francisco coast, a Bay Area first. And now comes word of a 150-pound yellowfin tuna taken Tuesday afternoon off the coast at Morro Bay .

“It is an El Nino,” insists Bat Batsford, president of the San Francisco Bay Area Tuna Club, who monitors sea surface temperatures for commercial fishermen. “We got the same water off Oxnard that we have down off Scammon’s Lagoon (off Baja California).”

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The oceanic phenomenon in 1983 was responsible for unusually warm water that extended the northern range of yellowfin tuna and other exotics. A marlin that year was hooked and lost outside San Francisco, and one was caught off the Oregon coast. Yellowfin tuna invaded Southland waters by the thousands.

But the phenomenon has nothing to do with the recent catch of marlin off San Francisco or tuna off Morro Bay, according to Tim Barnett, a scientist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and a leading authority on El Nino.

“The reason that warm water is there, if it really is there, has nothing to do with an El Nino,” Barnett said. “The water’s actually colder than normal on much of the coast.”

Barnett, before learning of Tuesday’s catch of the giant tuna, reasoned that the wayward marlin may have found a narrow band of warm water and followed it north.

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“There’s always the chance of a fluke,” he said of the catch by Brian Guiles of Sausalito.

The showing of albacore off the Central and Northern California coasts is not considered a fluke. But for the first time in several years, an albacore season is a reality.

The trouble is finding them.

“All these fish are in a 62- to 64-degree band of water that is moving in and out,” Batsford said. “It’s kind of hard to keep up on them.”

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But fishermen have been reporting run-ins with the longfins between 80 and 130 miles offshore, ranging in size from six to 60 pounds.

The Ranger 85 out of San Francisco took 54 albacore late last week. Jack Ward’s China Clipper, operating out of Morro Bay, reported 16 albacore aboard Tuesday afternoon, to go with the 150-pound yellowfin mentioned above.

Sierra Recreation Associates has been selected by the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power to operate Crowley Lake on a 15-year lease starting next spring.

The City Department of Recreation and Parks has managed the popular fishing lake for recreational purposes since it was opened as a major reservoir of the Owens River drainage in the 1940s, supplying up to 75% of the city’s water at its peak. Early this year, the DWP informed Recreation and Parks that it would put the concession out to bids.

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Sierra Recreation Associates, co-owned by John and Michele Frederickson and Arnie Beckman, is based in Mammoth Lakes and manages several other sites in the Eastern Sierra, including the June Lake Marina and 26 campgrounds under contract with the U.S. Forest Service.

SRA’s plans for Crowley Lake, still subject to some negotiation with the DWP, include tree planting, construction of tent cabins and recreational vehicle parking with hookups, plus removal of some old structures, repair of others and improvement of docks. The DWP also is negotiating with Recreation and Parks to acquire the existing rental boats and motors, which would be leased to SRA.

A DWP-SRA agreement will be submitted to the DWP Board of Commissioners and the L.A. City Council for approval.

Briefly

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BAJA FISHING--While San Diego’s overnight fleet suffers, the medium-range boats continue to find some tuna and yellowtail for their passengers. The Red Rooster III returned from a six-day trip Monday with 306 yellowfin and two bigeye tuna, 132 yellowtail and 14 dorado. The American Angler, on a three-day trip, brought back 113 bluefin tuna.

Cabo San Lucas: The blues continue. Blue marlin are showing daily at the docks, averaging 200-300 pounds; the largest a 572-pounder. Striped marlin and sailfish are also plentiful. Klaus Bastian of Germany fished five days aboard the Tortuga VII, catching and releasing 14 stripers, six sailfish and two blues. Yellowfin tuna are fair between 6-10 miles off Cape Rock; largest a 196-pounder by Long Beach resident Mark Latimer.

East Cape: Sailfish, dorado and tuna are the main fare from Cerralvo Island to Palmas Bay, while blue marlin are still showing at the southern reach of the region. The weather is calm.

Loreto: Dorado to 30 pounds are being taken on live squid and mackerel from an area 10 miles northeast of Coronado Island. Salifish are scattered but taken regularly. Yellowtail are showing and black skipjack are breezing on the surface.

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FLY FISHING--Roy Richardson will be guest speaker at the Pasadena Casting Club’s meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Masonic Temple in Pasadena. Richardson will present a program on the San Juan and Dolores streams. Details: (213) 676-5469 . . . Dave Whitlock, author, artist and angler, will conduct an all-day casting clinic Sunday at the Wilderness Fly Fishers in Santa Monica, for beginners from 9-10:15 a.m. and for intermediate-advanced from 3:15-4:30 p.m. The clinic includes an afternoon slide show and lecture. Details: (213) 829-4834.

HUNTING--Conservation groups are urging hunters to voice their support of AB 977 by writing Gov. Pete Wilson. The bill, if signed into law, will allow hunting for bighorn sheep statewide where management is warranted. Currently, sheep hunting is allowed only in San Bernardino County’s Marble and Old Dad Mountains. . . .The Safari Club’s Ron Moore is starting a local organization designed to protect the rights of sportsmen, particularly in light of the growing anti-hunting movement. Next meeting is next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Armenian Athletic Assn. in Pasadena. Information: (818) 351-9271.


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