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Eastern Sierra Gets a Reprieve

Eastern Sierra lakes and streams will not be shortchanged, after all.

A 20% cut in the number of trout planted in the Eastern Sierra was averted when the Department of Fish and Game decided to take other measures, such as hiring freezes and schedule changes, to compensate for a reduction in federal funds to operate its hatchery program.

But there is a catch.

Director Boyd Gibbons said the department “will be stocking more fish earlier,” which means fewer fish will be stocked later in the season.

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Gibbons’ plan will begin with the stocking of more than 45,000 catchable rainbow trout in Inyo County before Saturday’s early trout season opener--general trout season begins April 30. Inyo and Mono County waters will get about 278,000 trout before the general season opener, more than three times as many as were planted before previous season openers.

Hatchery supervisor Mike Haynie said that taking more trout out of the hatcheries early in the season will not only save the DFG money used for their upkeep, but will reduce “pond loading” and help the remaining trout to grow faster and larger, which should enable hatchery personnel to plant larger--but fewer--fish as the season progresses.

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Two lakes, six streams and 55 miles of the Owens River will be stocked before Saturday’s early season opener, with 19,000 fish earmarked for Independence Creek, George Creek, Lone Pine Creek, Tuttle Creek, Symms Creek and Cottonwood Creek; the Owens River below Tinemaha Reservoir, Diaz Lake and Pleasant Valley Reservoir. More than 26,000 trout have already been stocked in parts of the Owens River and Pleasant Valley Reservoir.

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Anglers are now required to display their licenses on their clothing while fishing, or face being fined by DFG wardens. The new regulation went into effect Tuesday.

Briefly

SALTWATER--Southland fishermen are still waiting for the pre-spring white seabass bite to start near the Channel Islands, meanwhile settling for mostly rock cod and rockfish. According to Cortez Yacht Charters in Lemon Grove, an early season surface bite has begun at San Martin Island off Baja California. The Holiday returned from a 2 1/2-day trip to San Diego late last week with 45 yellowtail to 18 pounds, more than 200 barracuda and a 28-pound white seabass. Cabo San Lucas: Fishing has been so good for marlin that anglers have been hard-pressed to find a boat, but that should change because marlin fishing is finally beginning to slow. Boats are still averaging one to three fish a day, however. Wahoo are either becoming more abundant or more willing to strike lures, and dorado action is picking up.

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SHOWTIME--Representatives of the great outdoors will be packed indoors today through March 6 during the annual Fred Hall Western Fishing and Tackle Show at the Long Beach Convention Center. But peddlers of boats, fishing, hunting and camping gear and outdoors-related vacations are only part of the show. Kids can fish for trout in an outdoor pond; novice fishermen can pick up tips from experts, and prospective big-game fishermen can get a taste of the experience by sitting in a mechanical fighting chair. Also on hand will be the United Anglers of Southern California. The group will be asking for support in its battles against Senate Bill 1478, which would open the Catalina Channel to gill-net fishermen between July 15 and Aug. 15, and against the recent influx of longline fishing vessels into Southland ports--notably Ventura Harbor. Show hours are Wednesday through Friday from 2-10 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Cost is $7.50 for adults and free for children 12 and younger.

HUNTING--A series of special wild turkey hunts is scheduled to begin on March 26 at Lake Mendocino, east of Ukiah. Access is by boat only. Method of take is by shotgun or archery. Hunt days are Saturdays and Wednesdays during the spring wild turkey season through April 30. Hunters may apply for one date only by mailing a standard U.S. Postal Service postcard listing their name, mailing address, hunting license number, boat registration number and one date of their choice. Two hunters may apply on one card. Applications mailed to the Department of Fish and Game--Lake Mendocino Spring Turkey Hunt, P.O. Box 47, Yountville, CA. 94599--must be received by March 15 to be included in the drawing. Successful applicants will be notified.

CONSERVATION--The South Bay Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will hold its second annual banquet-auction Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Proceeds will be used for the preservation of elk resource and habitat. Cost is $90 per couple, $60 single. Details: (310) 539-2272.

CALENDAR--Tom Ishkanian of the Sport Chalet fishing department will give a presentation on fishing the West at the South Bay Flyfishers’ meeting tonight at 7 at the Westchester Townhouse. . . . Ventura College is offering beginning fly-fishing classes for four weeks--the last two in area waters--beginning Saturday, with Jerry Bliss as instructor. Cost is $85. Details: (805) 647-4245 or (805) 654-6459. . . . Jim Criner, an authority on fly-fishing in Montana, will give a presentation Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the community room at Rio San Gabriel Park in Downey. Details: (310) 425-7936. . . . Don Bullock’s California Gun & Collector’s Show & Sale will be held March 12-13 at the Fairplex in Pomona. Details: (310) 430-5112. . . . The annual Blake Jones Trout Derby, a blind bogey event featuring a top prize of $500 in fishing gear, and seminars for children will be held on March 12 in the Bishop area. Details: (619) 873-8405.

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