Fishing is not a leading topic around the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, but John Sunada would like to make it so.
Sunada heads the California Department of Fish and Game’s year-old urban fishing program, which will take its deepest plunge Saturday morning when, in cooperation with the City of Los Angeles, it conducts a clinic at Echo Park Lake a few blocks west of Dodger Stadium.
Activity will begin at 8 a.m. Fishing gear will be available for up to 200 anglers, young and old. The lake was stocked with 500 channel catfish this week, and it also holds largemouth bass, bluegill and carp and is stocked with rainbow trout in the winter.
The purpose is to provide an accessible fishing experience for inner-city children and adults.
“We hope they’ll get hooked on fishing,” Sunada said.
There will be no charge for anything, and licenses won’t be required because Saturday will be the state’s second Free Fishing Day of the year, by a 1988 decree of the state Legislature.
“We furnish everything a future fisher needs,” Sunada said. “Free lessons, free use of poles, free hooks, and free bait. We even supply the fish.”
Trout Unlimited has let the DFG off the hook, for now. It has agreed not to sue the DFG over alleged negative effects of its hatchery program because the DFG has promised to produce an environmental document analyzing the operations.
Trout Unlimited has no objection to planting fish in certain roadside streams or urban waters, such as Echo Park Lake, but claimed the overall program was largely a waste of money and that wild trout were being endangered by planted trout. Trout Unlimited estimated that the return of hatchery trout was no more than 35% and as low as 10% and that the end cost of trout actually caught was about $400 a pound.
Trout Unlimited filed the suit in April of 1992, alleging that the DFG’s hatchery program has never complied with the California Environmental Quality Act by preparing an environmental impact statement. Neither has any other state. Such a report, expected by next spring, would be “unprecedented,” a Trout Unlimited statement said.
Barrett MacInerney, the volunteer Los Angeles lawyer who led the suit, said, “There have been volumes written on hatcheries, but this is the first time anybody will step back and ask, ‘Have we been doing this right in the first place?’ ”
MEXICAN FISHING--Negotiations are under way to allow San Diego-based charter boats to operate from Mexican ports, including Cabo San Lucas, when they would not be in competition with Mexican boats. . . . Cabo San Lucas: Hurricane Lidia closed the port Sept. 12 but otherwise merely stirred up better fishing by scattering the natural baitfish. Thirty-three boat days produced 21 blue marlin (10 released), 2 striped marlin, 3 sailfish and 178 dorado. Russell Moody, Los Angeles, took a 440-pound blue and Roger Hoffman of Texas a 407-pounder. East Cape: Sailfish, dorado and yellowfin tuna providing most action, with some yellowfin to 100 pounds. San Diego long-range: The Red Rooster III, 10 days to Alijos Rocks and Uncle Sam’s Bank with 22 anglers, took 282 yellowfin, topped by an 83.8-pounder by Patty McComsey of Carlsbad, and 223 wahoo to 64 pounds. TheVagabond, in three days 100 miles south with 24 anglers, got 203 yellowfin and five bluefin, topped by a 53 1/2-pounder by John Santaella of Del Mar. The American Angler, six days to San Martin Island with 26 anglers, got 390 yellowfin and seven bluefin.
SALTWATER FISHING--Southern boats from the San Diego-Dana Point area defeated L.A.-Orange County anglers in the 13th annual North vs. South Billfish Tournament sponsored by United Anglers of California. Six striped marlin were caught off San Clemente and Santa Catalina islands. All but one were released.
FRESHWATER FISHING--In conjunction with Free Fishing Day on Saturday, Big Bear Lake will waive the $15 daily use fee for private boats. . . . Richard Castaneda of Cass Tours will tell the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club about fishing in Baja at Monday night’s meeting at Antoine’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills. Details: (818) 881-9689.
FLY-FISHING--Instruction will be offered by the Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks Dept. on six successive Saturdays starting Oct. 2, 8 a.m.-noon, at Clark Regional Park in Buena Park. Cal State Fullerton will offer a similar program on Tuesday nights starting Oct. 5. Fee: $140. Details: (310) 697-8870. . . . Starting tonight, the South Bay Flyfishers will meet on Wednesday nights, 7:30-9:30, at the Westchester Town Hall, 8501 Emerson Ave. . . . John Shewey of Aumsville, Ore. will tell the Orange County Fly Fishers about Northwest angling Thursday night, 6:30, at the Revere House in Tustin. Dinner: $15.
HUNTING--A 27-year-old Siskiyou County man received four puncture wounds requiring 95 stitches after he was gored by a diseased blacktailed buck. . . . A wet winter, improved habitat and the new Central Valley Project guaranteeing water for wetlands have borne quick results for waterfowl in California. DFG biologists calculated a 250% increase over 1992 populations in the northern San Joaquin Valley. The Southern California waterfowl season opens Oct. 23. . . . The end of drought is also credited for the “skyrocketing” of deer populations, biologist Robert Schaefer said in anticipation of the Oct. 2 season-openings in three Southern California zones.