Longline Fishing Boats Fuel Enforcement Controversy

Picture a one-inch-thick fishing line with hooks on 9 1/2-foot leaders spaced 20 feet apart. Bait the hooks with mackerel or saury, run the line out 30 or 40 miles, then go back to the front end, reel it in and see what you have caught.

Marlin, swordfish, tuna, yellowtail, shark--you name it. This method of fishing is highly efficient and totally indiscriminate. Sport and commercial fishermen fear it would devastate big game saltwater fishing off Southern California.

Western Outdoor News reported last week that interests representing Louisiana-based longline fishing boats have inquired about berthing space for as many as 40 boats, plus space for freezer facilities, in Los Angeles Harbor. According to reporter Bill Beebe, a spokesman for the AJE International Fish Co. said the boats don't plan to fish inside the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, where longline permits are required, but locals are skeptical because of the prospect of inadequate enforcement.

The vanguard of a massive longline armada might be the four Vietnamese-owned, Louisiana-operated longliners that have been running out of Ventura for two months as the High Seas Fish Co. They say they are operating outside 200 miles, with mixed results, and have been quite cooperative with authorities about having their catches checked. It's against the law to sell marlin in California.

When they started, Roger Reese, a California Department of Fish and Game patrol captain based in Ventura, asked the Coast Guard to monitor them with overflights. All seemed on the up and up. But even the Coast Guard can't watch 40 boats at once, and the DFG can't do long-range air patrol.

The best hope, as local interests see it, is to keep the longliners out of any port in California. Bill Nott, president emeritus of the Sportfishing Assn. of California, this week wrote to Ron Kennedy, director of operations for the L.A. Harbor Department, expressing the possible economic and environmental effects of an operation "that has already ravaged the ocean resources of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida" and could put the struggling San Pedro fleet of purse seiners out of business.

United Anglers also has joined the fight, and there should be plenty of other opposition. As Nott said, "If anything disturbs the saltwater fraternity, it's for somebody to screw around with marlin."

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The all-tackle world record for calico (kelp) bass apparently has fallen for the fourth time in four years, but it's still in California.

Newport Beach realtor Tom Murphy caught one weighing 14 pounds 7 ounces to edge the 14-2 trophy fish Wes Working of Long Beach took on the backside of Santa Catalina Island last November. Working's catch might never be listed in the record book of the International Game Fish Assn. By the time it was approved, it was too late for the 1993 edition, and now Murphy has topped it.

The first IGFA-recognized record for the species was 9-13, credited to Peter Wright off the Palos Verdes peninsula in '90. It fell the next year to Larry Skiles' 13-4 taken at Laguna Beach.

Murphy said he was fishing in his 13-foot Boston Whaler "a couple of miles off Newport" early last Saturday afternoon when the fish hit a 12-inch mackerel, which Murphy and friend Dennis Callahan of San Pedro also had caught for bait. Murphy used 30-pound test line.

The little boat didn't have a live well, but they kept the fish alive by changing water in their ice chests until it could be weighed on a certified scale and a DFG marine biologist could verify the species. Having fulfilled those and other requirements, the fish is expected to be accepted by the IGFA, until the next one comes along.

Briefly

CONSERVATION--Want to buy a bison? Minnesota will auction 18 excess bison at Blue Mounds State Park Oct. 13. No, they aren't housebroken. Details: (507) 283-4892. . . . The Bishop Chamber of Commerce reports that fall colors are arriving in Bishop Creek and Rock Creek Canyons a little earlier than usual. . . . The state Department of Water Resources says the new water year started Oct. 1 with the highest levels since 1986.

ADVENTURE--Jon Farmer of Pacifica and Ingrid Klich of Virginia won the men's and women's singles divisions of California Yacht Club's Rowing and Paddling Derby from Santa Catalina Island to Marina del Rey. Farmer's time was 5 hours 7 minutes 2 seconds, Klich's 5:15:50.

SALTWATER FISHING--The local bite has been mostly bottom fish, with some yellowtail coming off Rocky Point. . . . The San Diego Rod and Reel Club will hear Excel skipper Randy Touissant, with a cameo appearance by Bill Poole, dean of San Diego sportfishing, Thursday, 6 p.m., at the Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island.

FRESHWATER FISHING--Ron Cervenka will teach Advanced Bass Fishing on four consecutive Thursday nights, 7-9 p.m., starting Oct. 21, at College of the Canyons in Valencia. Fee: $39. Details: (805) 259-7800, ext. 304.

MEXICAN FISHING--Cabo San Lucas: Marlin bite off but dorado plentiful, with good numbers of tuna and an unusual abundance of sailfish. San Jose del Cabo: Wahoo increased sharply, running 2-4 per panga, and dorado bite holding up. East Cape: Yellowfin tuna excellent, with good dorado and sailfish. San Diego long-range: Ron Gribble's Polaris Supreme, 10 days to Uncle Sam, Potato and Thetis, collected 132 yellowtail, 126 yellowfin tuna, 61 wahoo, 160 pargo and 6 dorado. All boats were finding limits of yellowfin tuna on three-day trips.

FLY-FISHING--Jason Borger, son of Gary and a stand-in/technical adviser for Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" film, will tell the Pasadena Casting Club about "Reading the Water" at its monthly meeting Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., at the Masonic Temple, 3130 Huntington Drive. Public welcome.

SHOOTING--The Altadena Sportsmen's Club has donated $800 to the Junior Rifle Club of Pasadena to buy 20 rifles from the federal government's Department of Civilian Marksmanship for its competition season starting Oct. 16.

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