Crustaceans all the rage right now for local divers

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Posted by on October 02, 2005 at 11:43:27:

An aviation ordnance man in the Marine Corps, Joe Gorski takes the lobster season opener so seriously he schedules a couple of weeks' vacation just to soak it all in.

"It's so huge for all of us that we don't sleep for 48 hours on the opener," Gorski said as he checked in yesterday at Werner Kurn's Ocean Enterprises.

Gorski and four diving buddies Josh Thomas, Bill Hawkins, Angel O'Neill and Adam Harding piled into Thomas' 18-foot 1977 model Irish dory and found some decent lobster hunting despite foggy conditions. All but O'Neill fetched some legals, but they released many that were just under the keeper length of 3 inches, measured in a straight line on the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell.

For the 26th year, Kurn has held his annual Largest Lobster Contest at his Balboa Avenue store. More than 70 free divers and scuba divers entered the contest that began at 12:01 a.m. yesterday, the opening moment of California's recreational lobster season that runs, amazingly, to March 22.

"It was a very good opener," Kurn said. "The divers said visibility was good, and I talked to several who had limits (seven lobsters per day, seven in possession). There were a lot of divers out. I know because we were open all night, and we were swamped with people shopping in here at 3 in the morning. It was weird, but it was fun. And the amazing thing this year is we had divers checking lobsters in here 1 hours after the season opened."

Andrew Sanchez weighed in the heaviest bug, a husky 9-pounder. He won a Scuba Pro regulator, valued at $615, according to Ryan Mable, assistant manager at Ocean Enterprises.

"We had 11 lobsters weighed in," Mable said.

Second went to Tom Ruben, who weighed in a chubby crustacean that hefted 8 pounds. And Steven Pend was third with a 7-pounder. Kevin Canatsey had a 5-pounder, and Hunza Kota bagged a 5-pounder.

Werner is offering two-for-one diving lessons at his Balboa store, where he also provides seminars and instruction for beginning divers. For more information, call Ocean Enterprises at (858) 565-9474.

At the Diving Locker in Pacific Beach, dive master Ocean Ramsey, who may have the best name of any dive master alive, said conditions were a little rough off La Jolla, but many of the store's clients landed some legal lobsters.

"A couple of them were beaten up, but we had some get some lobsters," Ramsey said. "They said they released a lot that weren't legal."

For more information, call the Diving Locker at (858) 272-1120.

The season also opened for recreational hoopnetting, a rapidly growing fishery for taking lobsters.

Bryant Campbell said the fog made it tough, but he dropped his first hoop net at 12:01, and by 2:30 a.m. he and fishing buddy Raymond Humphrey had seven each.

"We sorted through about 100 short lobsters," Campbell said. "Mackerel seemed to be the bait of choice, but I don't really think it mattered. We also hooped seven moray eels, kind of startling when you are pulling out the kelp and a piece has some razor-sharp teeth."

At Dan Hart's shop, Hook, Line & Sinker in Point Loma, Luke Bowler said there was a run on bait and hoop nets in recent days at the shop. He said the store's recent hoopnet fishing seminar drew a standing-room crowd of more than 100 fishermen.

"There was a long line of boats launching yesterday at Shelter Island for the opener," Bowler said. "We had guys in here today restocking their bait. They said they hooped some nice lobsters."

Bowler said he has eight hoop nets remaining in stock, but more have been ordered. He also has a good supply of fresh-dead mackerel.

"Here's a tip," he said. "Take some cans of cat food, preferably tuna or chicken, and take a screwdriver and poke some holes in the top. Add that to the baited mackerel for more scent. It really works."

For more information, call Hook, Line & Sinker at (619) 224-1336.

As for fishing, trips of 1 days and more continue to do well. There's good fishing for yellowfin, yellowtail and an occasional bigeye tuna. The Legend reported one bigeye over 90 pounds on its recent trip.

On the Royal Star, which returned yesterday from a very successful 976-TUNA trip, Don Moore, 78, of Imperial Beach had a 28-pound yellowtail.

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