Outdoors, action, adventure

A heartfelt goodbye from Outposts

Kelly Burgess at one of her favorite Napa Valley wineries.This is the second-most difficult post I have written, and comes a little more than a year after I wrote the most painful one, on the death of my father.

Outposts is a goner. A committee has decided to eliminate this column.

I'll likely transition to the Fabulous Forum, but want to be honest -- while some of the topics I write about will fit well (pro surfing and the Iditarod come to mind), sadly, many don't seem as if they would be at home there.

While Fab Forum is a great blog, it's mostly about pro and college sports and athletes, where my focus here is on the everyday man and woman and their doings in the outdoor recreation and lifestyle sports world -- hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, etc. I enjoyed writing about their achievements and records and about the things that might be of interest to outdoor recreationists not only in Southern California but nationally and globally.

Before I sign off here I have a few folks I'd like to thank:

The Times copy editors, for making certain my syntax and punctuation were correct and for masterfully tightening headlines;

Steve Carson, who would send me his weekly Irvine Lake fishing report, and Carrie Wilson, of the California Department of Fish and Game, whose Q&A column was one of my weekly favorites to post;

Fish and Game department staffers nationwide, for taking the time to speak with me, send me images and otherwise assist in outdoor-related news to populate Outposts;

J.R. Absher from the Outdoor Pressroom and Jeff Dudas' UnderwaterTimes -- two excellent go-to sources for outdoor and marine-related news;

Pete Thomas, my friend and ex-colleague, to whom I am extremely grateful for encouraging me to start working on Outposts with him;

and Scott Bassin, my husband, who embraced my commitment to this column and, rather than just tolerating it, takes pride in the work I've done and the effort I've put into it.

Thank you for reading, and hopefully we'll meet again somewhere down the road. Until then, happy trails to you.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Kelly Burgess at one of her favorite Napa Valley wineries. Credit: Scott Bassin

'Only in America' revisited: Boater taking new voyage with hopes of similar outcome

John Mirassou with his sons Jack, left, and Matthew, right. Boater John Mirassou hopes to revisit his youth. His vessel of choice, however, is not a time machine but a 19-foot Montauk Boston Whaler.

Mirassou was in his 20s when he and two friends hopped aboard his 17-foot-long Whaler in 1987 and took a 6,100-mile adventure from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to New Orleans, via New York and Chicago.

Along the way, they relied on the generosity of the people they met, both on the water and in nearby towns. People took them in, fed them and formed a kind of network of camaraderie, said Mirassou, who chronicled the experience in his book, "Only in America: An American Boating Adventure."

"The book really seems to strike a chord with people," the 48-year-old Torrance resident said. "I believe it shows who we were, who we can be, who we want to be."

Mirassou has decided to test the waters, so to speak, to see for himself if the hospitality shown more than two decades ago still prevails today. On Friday, he'll be departing on a monthlong, 1,100-mile odyssey from Norfolk, Va., to Boston, traveling through waterways and cities large and small with plans to arrive in Boston Harbor to participate in the Parade of Boats on the 4th of July.

"Upon reading the story, people are asking if the America portrayed in the book still exists. So we're going to board the Whaler again and find out," he said.

Joining Mirassou will be John Bertsch, who was along on the original journey in 1987, as well as friend Marty Burke.

A professional producer/videographer is also expected to be joining the group -- albeit on a support vessel -- filming the adventure for a possible documentary or television series as well as producing daily updates and weekly "webisodes," which can be followed on Mirassou's website.

Here's hoping Mirassou finds that some things never change, and that the charity of Americans toward others is as strong as it ever was. Even without a time machine.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: John Mirassou with his sons Jack, left, and Matthew. Credit: John Mirassou / onlyinamerica.biz


Meet the Grunion program Friday night at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its Meet the Grunion program Friday night.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased at the door (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m.

Grunion runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full and new moon phases during spring and summer, the small silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July, and only by hand. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught, but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat.

The program will be offered again June 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information is available on the aquarium's website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Irvine Lake trout congregating at Woody’s Cove in morning; crappie perk up in afternoon

Tim Blackshire of Ontario landed this 6.14  rainbow on a Shawn Jig at Woody’s Cove. Here's this week's Irvine Lake fishing report, written by veteran angler Steve Carson:

Fishing stayed interesting all day long this week at Irvine Lake, reported Jimmy Getty at the Pro Shop. "The trout bite way in the back of Woody’s Cove was phenomenal this week," observed Getty. "They are trying to spawn back there, and if you are good at sight fishing, you can do incredibly well. Early morning was also a good time for bank anglers along the west shore, with most of them using Power Bait or Mice Tails. Once the breeze comes up in the afternoon, the crappie fishing has also really taken off."

Getty added, "We also had a big 55-inch sturgeon caught and released. It most likely would have broken the lake record of 49.6 pounds for the species if we had weighed it."

Irvine Lake Pro Team leader Marlon Meade was hammering the crappie almost every afternoon this week. "There are a lot of crappie running from 1 to 1 3/4 pounds right now," noted Meade. "The bigger ones over 2 pounds probably won't start to show until the nighttime hours begin on June 10. Best results have been drifting at 15 to 20 feet in the mid-flats area. The bite is very good from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., using pearl-white 2-inch Berkley Rippletail Grubs with a 1/8-ounce head."

Continue reading »

Jumping sturgeon breaks boater's leg

A Gulf sturgeon in the Suwannee River. A Florida boater's leg was broken when a 60- to 75-pound sturgeon jumped from the water and crashed into her. The incident occurred just days after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued a warning to boaters about being cautious in waters populated by the fish.

Tina Fletcher, 25, of Cross City, Fla., was a passenger Sunday aboard an airboat on Florida's Suwannee River when the accident happened, FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker told the Gainesville Sun.

"She was riding on a 16-foot-long Freedom Craft air prop airboat when the fish jumped and hit her leg," Parker said. Witnesses told FWC officers that the fish slid back into the water after the incident.

This is the fifth reported sturgeon encounter in Florida waters since April, and the most serious.

Biologists are unsure why sturgeon jump, though they are certain they are not malicious. Theories include that the fish jump to communicate or as a dominance display.

"I have seen these encounters referred to as 'attacks.'  However, these fish are in no way attacking when they jump," said Allen Martin, regional freshwater fisheries biologist. "They are simply doing what they have been doing for millions of years: jumping. They aren't targeting the boaters.

Gulf sturgeon are anadromous, migrating from saltwater to freshwater to spawn, and can grow to more than 8 feet long and exceed 200 pounds.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A Gulf sturgeon in the Suwannee River. Credit: Noel Burkhead / U.S. Geological Survey


BMX rider Jed Mildon lands first-ever triple back flip

Jed Mildon made sporting history Saturday, becoming the first BMX rider to land a triple back flip.

"This is the perfect result to three intensive months of practicing and training for this moment," said Mildon, 24, who completed the stunt at the Unit T3 Mindtricks BMX Jam, an exhibition event in Mildon's hometown of Taupo, New Zealand.

Among the estimated 2,000 spectators was a Guinness World Records representative, on hand
to witness and certify the groundbreaking stunt.

"The impact and implications hasn’t sunken in yet, but I’m so pumped to have aimed for something once deemed impossible and made my dream a reality," Mildon said. "Once I was in the air, it felt like time stood still and I could see each rotation perfectly.

"Landing with both wheels on the down ramp was the most amazing feeling in the world!”

-- Kelly Burgess

Video credit: YouTube

Did Washington state hiker catch image of Bigfoot?

A woman in Spokane, Wash., claims to have caught images of Bigfoot while out on a hike with friends
in Downriver Park, on the western perimeter of Spokane.

The woman, identified only as Samantha, said on the YouTube video posted last week that, "while hiking, we accidentally caught an image of Bigfoot walking through the woods. I didn't even notice until I got home and saw it on the computer!" The video has received more than 740,000 views thus far.

Although not calling the video a hoax, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization says that the "Spokane figure could be a man in dark clothes" and questions the behavior of Samantha. "There may be very valid reasons for Samantha to remain anonymous, but that's not the typical pattern for authentic footage," BFRO states on its website.

The site adds that, historically, very few sightings have been reported near Spokane, with the last being in 1985 and, before that, a 1961 incident near Mount Spokane.

-- Kelly Burgess


Bigfoot alive and well and living in North Carolina

Video credit: YouTube

New Jersey confirms new state record grass carp

It took James Dempsey, Jr. two hours to land this 55-pound, 8-ounce grass carp, a new New Jersey state record. The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife has confirmed that a 55-pound, 8-ounce grass carp landed on May 12 is a new state record for the species.

The huge carp, caught by James Dempsey Jr. of Ewing, N.J., while fishing Curlis Lake, surpassed the previous record set in 2008 by Homer Tye by 1 pound, 1 ounce. Tye's fish was caught at the same lake.

It took Dempsey two hours to land the behemoth, which measured 47 3/4-inches in length and had a 30-inch girth.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: It took James Dempsey Jr. two hours to land this 55-pound, 8-ounce grass carp, a New Jersey state record. Credit: New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife


Trout and catfish plants for Southern California and Eastern Sierra during the week beginning May 31

Trout being prepared for pan frying.

Barring adverse weather, water or road conditions, the following is a list of Southern California and Eastern Sierra waters, listed by county, that will be stocked with rainbow trout or channel catfish throughout the week of May 31 by the Department of Fish and Game:





LOS ANGELES: Castaic Lake, Elizabeth Lake, Jackson Lake and Pyramid Lake.

SAN DIEGO: Cuyamaca Lake.


RIVERSIDE: Perris Lake.


KERN: Cuddy Creek Pond.

INYO: Bishop Creek (Lower fork), Pleasant Valley Reservoir and Rock Creek Lake.

MONO: Bridgeport Reservoir, Buckeye Creek, Convict Lake, Grant Lake, Gull Lake, June Lake, Lee Vining Creek, Little Walker River, Lundy Lake, Mill Creek, Robinson Creek, Rock Creek (section 1 and section 2), Rush Creek, Owens River (section 3), Silver Lake, Virginia Creek, Twin Lakes Bridgeport (Upper and Lower) and West Walker River (section 2 and section 3).


LOS ANGELES: Cerritos, Downey, El Dorado, La Mirada, Peck Rd, Pudding Stone, Santa Fe and John A Ford Park.

Photo: Trout being prepared for pan frying. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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Winning art chosen for 2011 California duck stamp

The winning artwork for the 2011 California waterfowl hunting stamp. The winning design for California’s 2011 duck stamp was selected at a judging event May 19 on the steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento.

Shari Erickson of Beaver Creek, Ore., won for her painting of a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye, the species for this year's competition and stamp. This was Erickson's first duck stamp contest win.

"I absolutely love Barrow’s Goldeneye. They’re my favorite bird to paint, which is really what provoked me to enter this duck stamp contest," Erickson said. A nature and wildlife artist since 1985, Erickson has been entering duck stamp contests since 2009.

The image beat out 15 other entries submitted by artists nationwide and will adorn the 2011-12 stamp. In past years, waterfowl hunters were required to affix stamps to their hunting license but this year, with California moving to an automated licensing system, hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field -- proof of purchase prints directly onto the license. The stamps will now be mailed, upon request, to license-holders at the end of the hunting season.

The Department of Fish and Game sells about 70,000 duck stamps annually, including sales to collectors. In addition to the stamps, the department typically issues signed, limited-edition prints also valued by art collectors. Since its inception in 1971, the California duck stamp program has raised more than $22 million, and the money can only be spent on waterfowl-related conservation projects. It is the first, and oldest, state duck stamp program in the country.

The original art will be on display, along with the second, third and two honorable mention pieces, at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Assn. art show, July 15-17 in Sacramento.

The entire library of California duck stamps can be viewed on the DFG website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: The winning artwork for the 2011 California waterfowl hunting stamp. Credit: Department of Fish and Game


Facebook bragging about poaching leads to charges against man

This Facebook photo posted by Darin Lee Waldo posing with illegally taken white-tailed deer eventually led to his arrest on felony charges. A convicted felon who posted images on Facebook about his poaching exploits attracted the attention of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Internet Crimes Unit and now faces seven felony charges and six misdemeanor charges related to his illegal activities.

The department's investigation into Facebook posts by Darin Lee Waldo, 43, of Davenport, Fla., led it to believe that he and friends may have been poaching game in Florida's Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area during closed season. Waldo is a convicted felon who cannot legally possess firearms.

"Our investigators were able to gain Waldo's confidence over the Internet," said Lt. George Wilson, supervisor of the Internet Crimes Unit.

Waldo not only exchanged images of illegally killed game with FWC investigators via the Internet, but also took part in chat room conversations about his alleged actions and allegedly invited undercover agents to participate in two illegal hunts, eventually leading to his arrest Saturday by Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies.

"Waldo was also trespassing and poaching on private ranches before hunting season, stealing Florida's wildlife from landowners who were maintaining conservation programs," Wilson said.

Waldo's third-degree felony charges, each punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison, include four counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of armed trespass. He also faces six second-degree misdemeanor charges, each punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail.

In the first year since the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission created its Internet Crimes Unit, investigators initiated 168 investigations that have resulted in 177 arrests and 92 warnings.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: This Facebook photo posted by Darin Lee Waldo posing with white-tailed deer eventually led to his arrest on felony charges. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


Yosemite National Park still shows remnants of winter

Snow-covered Tuolumne Meadows as seen last Friday.

While much of Southern California should be enjoying dry days and warm temperatures during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, those heading to higher elevations -- specifically Yosemite National Park -- will likely still be contending with remnants of winter, including facility and road closures in some areas.

"It may be spring in Fresno or L.A., but it's not quite like that here," park spokeswoman Kari Cobb told Times Daily Travel and Deal blogger Mary Forgione.

Glacier Point Road will be open to traffic beginning noon Friday, but park officials said that the 32 miles from Yosemite Valley to the scenic overlook at Glacier Point could close any time if a spring snowstorm kicks up. There will also be no running water at the point, and nearby Bridalveil Creek Campground is closed.

Meanwhile, Tioga Road (Highway 120), the main access to Tuolumne Meadows and the park's backcountry, remains closed because of snow, ice and avalanche dangers, officials said.

Despite this, Yosemite is expected to be busy for the holiday weekend. Forgione has more information, including tips on dealing with the crowds, in her post: Yosemite National Park: Glacier Point Road opens Friday; chilly Memorial Day weekend predicted

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Snow-covered Tuolumne Meadows as seen last Friday. Credit: Mono County Public Works Department



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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.