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    March 30, 2008

    2007 Lobster Season Recap / Local Diving News

    Public beach access at Old Marineland (aka Long Point, Terranea resort) is closed “temporarily for 30 days” while construction near the coast takes place.

    The last time Old Marineland was closed for 30 days, we didn’t have beach access for almost three months.

    Diving has really sucked for the last one or two weeks; cold water (52 degrees), swells, and shitty vis (0-3 feet) has been reported in all the areas around Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach.

    With that being said, I finally sat down and compiled my “Lobster Hunting Recap For The 2007 Season.”

    Number of Lobster Hunting Dives: 25
    Total Number Of Lobsters Caught: 37
    Number of Trips that I limited on: 1
    Number of trips I got skunked: 1
    Average lobsters caught per dive: 1.48

    All during lobster season, I always took a bag with me in hopes of maybe running across a lobster.

    However, I only considered a “lobster dive” if it was at night and I went just to look for lobster; I never was lucky enough to catch a lobster during a casual dive.

    As far as the quantity of lobsters caught this season?

    It was not as plentiful as in previous years.

    I’ve heard that the hoop netters caught most of the lobsters, not leaving many for the divers.

    I find that hard to believe

    In talking to some friends who work at Quality Seafood at the Redondo Beach Pier, even the commercial lobster trappers had a hard time this season.

    At the beginning of the season, lobsters are pretty shallow – 15 to 40 feet.

    As the storms and swells approach at the end of the year, the lobsters move deeper.

    For a while this season, it didn’t seem that there were any lobsters off shore at all.

    A tech diver told us that the lobsters were all at 270 feet when he dove the Sacramento wreck – a depth that hoop netters and recreational divers can’t safely reach.

    I think with the bugs that deep, it gave us the impression that the lobsters were scarce.

    Late season storms, I think, drove the lobsters back deeper again.

    Next year, in addition to a fishing license and ocean enhancement stamp, we will be required to carry a “lobster report card.”

    But, I have good hopes for next season.

    The bugs were scarce this season, but by next year, the “almost legals” will be legal and the ones hiding deep hopefully will come back shallower.

    March 21, 2008

    Quest For New Equipment – Prospecting The East Fork Of The San Gabriel River

    With lobster season now officially over, I can now take some time and try and make some money to buy new diving equipment.

    Every single glove, wetsuit and boot that I have has holes in it.

    So, it’s back up to the East Fork to become wealthy – and with Gold now around $1,000 a Troy ounce, all I would need is a teaspoonful of flakes to make my trip worthwhile.

    Another beautiful day at the East Fork, Angeles National Park

    I arrived in the parking lot at the end of the road at 7 AM.

    Me and my solo prospecting rig.

    I figured out how to pack my sluice, shovels, pick, pans, classifiers, cigars, lunch, beer and cleaning kit into one backpack.

    I tried to recruit another person to come along, but nobody could make it – or didn’t want to come; I didn’t even consider “Mr. Know It All” from previous trips for today’s run – he’s totally out of shape and needs to rest every 100 yards for a “smoke and beer break.”

    So, just like solo SCUBA diving, I went solo prospecting today.

    I was fully prepared to use my martial arts abilities should anybody try and take my Gold.

    I hiked for about 40 minutes up river and started to sample pan areas where the water slowed.

    Sample panning for Gold

    From what I have heard, the Gold here is very spotty; you can be working an area five feet away from someone who’s pulling out color, but end up with nothing.

    I came across a huge rock in the middle of the ice cold river that looked like it had virgin gravel deposits on the down stream side.

    I crossed the river in almost waist high water to get a sample.

    I panned – and there were Gold flakes.

    I went back and crossed with my equipment.

    My sandwiches got wet.

    I packed my sandwiches a little too far below the water line – the turkey was still good, but the bread was soggy and ruined; I would have to get my lunch time carbs from my beer.

    Setting up my Sluice box.

    I set up my sluice box and unpacked the rest of my equipment.

    My prospecting site for the day.

    Behind the big boulder is where I started to dig.

    People wonder why prospectors dig behind the rock – on the opposite side of the water flow – but Gold is so heavy is collects where water slows.

    Looking up stream from my prospecting spot.

    The sun started to peak into the canyon.

    Digging behind the rock.

    This place is sort of desolate, so I didn’t have to worry about any chicks being offended by potential “plumber’s crack,” but I did look over my shoulder when I had to get rid of some used beer.

    There was an abundance of river deposits behind that rock; I moved many buckets of heavy gravel in the four hours I was there.

    Feeding my sluice box.

    My sluice box at work.

    It would have taken me hours to pan what my sluice box can do in a matter of minutes.

    The sluice box in action.

    It’s cool to drink a beer, smoke a cigar and watch the heavier gravel (and hopefully Gold) get caught in the rifles as the lighter stuff flies out the end.

    Panning the concentrate.

    I ended up collecting three loads of sluice concentrate before panning it.

    The most anyone can ever hope to collect here, from what I had heard, is flake and flour Gold; nuggets are very rare…

    …and that’s what I got – a few flakes of Gold for four hours of digging.

    Sort of sucks, but as I was hiking back I met two prospectors who had been working this area as a hobby for several years.

    The best advice that both of them gave me was, “go to Sheep Mountain – it’s a six hour hike way past the Bridge To Nowhere.

    “That place hasn’t been over worked like around here and they’re still finding nuggets.

    “Plan on spending at least one night – and it gets cold up here at night.”

    They gave me a few more really good pointers on how and where to find Gold here, but I’m getting tired of writing.

    As the answer to the question, “Where do you find Gold?”

    “Gold is where you find it.”

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