How successful were you on opening day at Crowley Lake?
Thanks to statistics compiled by Department of Fish and Game biologists, you can measure your success against others', provided you were one of the 5,000 or so trout fishermen who dropped a line into the popular Eastern Sierra reservoir last Saturday.
There were about 3,000 anglers fishing from boats, and of those, the average catch was 4 1/4 fish, meaning many fishermen landed the five-fish limit.
If you were among the 2,000 or so shore fishermen and didn't do so well, you weren't alone. Shore fishermen averaged only about two fish apiece.
The reason, according to DFG biologist Curtis Milliron, might be that the Kamloop-strain rainbow trout normally caught by shore anglers were sexually mature, thanks to several weeks of spring-like weather before the opener, and already in the streams and tributaries to spawn.
The average size of the trout caught was 1.11 pounds and 13 3/4 inches long. Of fish that were stocked last year, Milliron said, the average weight was .98 pounds and the length 13 1/4 inches. Of carry-over fish--those stocked at least two years ago--the average weight was 2.17 pounds and 18 inches.
Fishing slowed some on Sunday and remains fair at best, possibly, Milliron said, "because the fish that were easy pickin's were caught on opening day."
He added that fishing typically picks up again at the end of May or early June.
Not all DFG wardens had submitted their opening-day reports as of Tuesday afternoon, but those who had said the new wear-your-license rule seems to be working.
Sixteen wardens who had submitted reports--25 wardens were in the field--made a combined 4,340 contacts with fishermen and reported compliance rates as high as 98%. Anglers were warned to display their licenses if they were seen without them, and only two citations were issued for fishing without a license.
The 16 wardens issued 28 citations for over-limits, six for illegal use of gear, four for fishing before the season began on Saturday, three each for using two fishing poles, night fishing in Mono County (night fishing is legal in Inyo County), catching undersized fish and using illegal gear.
Crowley Lake might be the most popular place for Southlanders on opening day, but last Saturday the spotlight in Northern California was on the Dunsmuir area.
"We got a much larger number of people than we expected, and some of them were even fishermen," said Alan Harvey, city manager. "There were a lot of news people."
The portion of the Upper Sacramento River devastated by a pesticide spill after a train wreck in 1991 was reopened for fishing for the first time since the disaster, which killed an estimated one million fish.
John Fisher, a Dunsmuir businessman and president of the Chamber of Commerce when the spill occurred, said he and a few others counted more than 125 people fishing the six-mile stretch of river that had been stocked with small hatchery-raised trout by the DFG.
"They were all catching fish," Fisher said. "Kids were catching them, grandpa was catching them. I saw two kids standing under the (Interstate 5) bridge and they had an 18-inch fish that had survived the spill. A guy down at Soda Creek, and we were all watching, pulled out a 22-inch trout that had to weigh 5-6 pounds."
To protect the native trout in the river, all but the six-mile stretch--in which anglers can keep five trout a day--has been designated as catch and release only. Fishery experts predict a strong comeback on the part of the native fish.
Meanwhile, Harvey said, the opening of another trout season in Dunsmuir marks "an end of a disappointing and unhappy time for our city."
Locally, the fleet is still waiting for things to pick up. White seabass surfaced last weekend at Catalina, but only a dozen or so fish were caught by anglers aboard three boats. There is, however, a steady bonito bite at the island, but little elsewhere.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on the horizon. Large schools of albacore, 1,200 miles west of Point Loma, are moving east toward San Diego. According to Cortez Yacht Charters in Lemon Grove, the fish are traveling about 18-20 miles a day, which would bring them within range of the fleet in late June or early July.
San Diego long-range: The Polaris Supreme returned Sunday from Mexico's Revillagigedo Islands with a small load of giant yellowfin tuna. Two fish weighed more than 300 pounds each, and a 258.2-pounder caught by Tom Pfleger will be a world record in the 30-pound line class if approved by the International Game Fish Assn. Pfleger is a partner in the vessel's ownership.
Cabo San Lucas: Marlin activity is improving, but the bite is anything but consistent. Strong winds have not helped matters. Yellowfin tuna, however, remain plentiful and apparently hungry, with some pushing 50 pounds. Dorado are becoming more prevalent by the week, but most of the fish are small, with few topping 25 pounds.
San Jose Del Cabo: Yellowfin tuna activity has slowed some, but fishermen are still landing one or two per trip. Winds have hampered the fishing effort, but trips to Destiladeras and Los Frailes are proving worthwhile for marlin.
East Cape: Yellowfin tuna are providing plenty of action, especially the 50-pounders cruising beneath the porpoises. Dorado and wahoo are making their presence known as well. A 102-pound wahoo was the week's top catch.
Mike Thompson, skipper of the Amigo out of Newport Landing, will discuss local species and tactics at the FIB'ers fishing club's meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Fellowship Hall at Newport-Mesa Christian Center. Details: (714) 893-5051.
A fishing tournament and barbecue-raffle to benefit abused children will be held Saturday at Lake Piru in Ventura County. Details: (805) 521-1231.
Eagle Claw Fishing Schools will make a run to San Martin Island off Baja California May 13-15 aboard the Holiday out of Point Loma Sportfishing in San Diego. Cost is $325 for one, $299 per person for groups of two or more. Details: (714) 840-6555.