OUTDOOR NOTES : Fishermen Shocked at Bringhurst Killing

The Southern California fishing community was shocked by the killing of Bob Bringhurst by an apparent robber at Moreno Valley last weekend.

Bringhurst, 49, was founder of the Brownbaggers Club that targeted large German brown trout in the Eastern Sierra and at Utah's Flaming Gorge Reservoir. He once held the world record, a 33-pound 10-ounce brown caught at Flaming Gorge, but in recent years had shifted his interest to tournament bass fishing.

Bringhurst was retiring from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and last month went to Flippin, Ark., to pick up a new bass boat. In the last several days he had been testing its electronic gear and breaking in the engine at Lake Perris, near his home in Moreno Valley in Riverside County.

Last Saturday afternoon, Bringhurst fished Perris with his longtime friend, Dave Nollar of Redlands. Fishing was lousy.

That night Bringhurst and his wife, Lois, went to dinner at a restaurant in the TownGate Center Mall. As they returned to their car at 9:30 p.m., a gunman confronted them, demanding Bringhurst's wallet. Bringhurst stepped back and was shot. The gunman stepped over him, then turned to Bringhurst's wife, grabbed her purse and fled with an accomplice in a car waiting nearby.

Moreno Valley police are investigating. Friends of Bringhurst are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer, who was described as black, 5 feet 9, 200 pounds and in his mid-20s. Information may be phoned to (619) 442-7048 or (714) 792-0106.

Bruce VanVort, manager of the Lake Perris concessions, said he had talked with Bringhurst Friday.

"He was always willing to help anybody out," VanVort said. "He'd spend 10 minutes telling a kid about fishing in the lake."

Vanessa Faries, an employee at the lake, recalled how Bringhurst, a serious fisherman, often would take Lois along, although she didn't always fish.

"She'd just take a book and read . . . stay all day," Faries said.

Bringhurst is also survived by his mother, Mary Ellen Hicks of North Carolina, a son, Jim, 27; daughter, Amy, 25; three sisters and a brother. A service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Oakdale Cemetery in Glendora.

Reports persist that Pete Bontadelli's days are numbered as director of the California Department of Fish and Game.

Andy McLeod, assistant to Resource Agency Secretary Doug Wheeler, who recommends appointments to Gov. Pete Wilson, said: "The governor and Doug Wheeler have made known from early on that it's their intention to bring in their own head of Fish and Game, and that remains the case."

Bontadelli has been twisting in the wind for more than a year since Wilson's election.

Said McLeod: "It's tough to attract high-caliber people."

The job pays about $90,000 a year.

"We are confident we will have an individual before long . . . very optimistic that something is going to happen soon," McLeod said.

Briefly

FRESHWATER FISHING--Local interests on the Kern and Owens Rivers are distressed about new regulations adopted for 1991-93. The California Fish and Game Commission agreed to open the Kern to year-round fishing from Lake Isabella to the Johnsondale Bridge, 17 miles, but not until the new regulations take effect March 1. Meanwhile, only the lower three miles from the lake to the Kern-Tulare county line is open. At the Owens, bait fishing has been eliminated and a two-fish, 12-inch maximum limit imposed from Pleasant Valley Reservoir to the footbridge at the campground. From the foot bridge 4.4 linear miles to a sign on Chalk Bluffs Road, it will be no bait, total catch and release. Dave Smith of Culver's Sporting Goods in Bishop said: "We're going to appeal it." Smith said that last year he sold 650,000 crickets--the hot bait--for a profit of $20,000, and that "I can't afford to lose that in these economic times." Over Thanksgiving weekend, he added, he sold 5,000 crickets and only nine artificial flies, indicating the type of fishing his customers liked to do.

SALTWATER--The long-range season has been so productive it seemed only a matter of time until the first 400-pound yellowfin tuna was caught off southern Mexico--and that time might have come. A giant yellowfin, caught off Clarion Island of the Revillagigedo chain Tuesday aboard the Qualifier 105, measured 83 inches and was estimated at 417 pounds, according to Qualifier owner John Klein. John Carbone of Canoga Park hooked the fish Tuesday, but according to Klein had to relinquish the rod to skipper John Grabowski and companion Jim Labanowski. The all-tackle world record is a 388-pound 12-ounce yellowfin taken from nearby San Benedicto Island in 1977, but because more than one angler fought the fish, it cannot qualify for a world record. Klein said Grabowski will have the fish weighed on an official scale as soon as possible to avoid losing weight to dehydration. That would be Thursday at Cabo San Lucas.

Cabo San Lucas: Most unusual catch was a 44-pound spearfish by Walt Saule of British Columbia. Weather and bait situations, good.

Loreto: Yellowtail fishing is reported "wide open." Boats averaging 10 fish a day, all in the 18- to 20-pound class.

JURISPRUDENCE--Paulino Ayala, 35, was fined $2,820 and six companions were ordered to complete 10 days or 80 hours of community service for netting 236 trout in Piru Creek Sept. 8.

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