San Gabriel Mountains bighorn sheep tally next weekend, volunteers needed


Volunteers are needed for the annual count of bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel Mountains scheduled to be held Sunday, March 3. The event is a joint effort with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) that has been conducted since 1979.

The count is held in conjunction with the DFW’s helicopter survey of the same areas counted from the ground. The double count gives the scientists data that allow for very accurate population estimates and information on lamb recruitment.

The San Gabriels once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made this the largest population of desert bighorn sheep in California. The counts showed the bighorn population declined more than 80 percent through the 1980s, down to a low of under 100 animals. The sheep numbers have been rebounding in recent years. However, weather has hampered the counts the last several years making accurate estimates of the population and recruitment success difficult to assess. The most recent double count placed the population around 400 animals, and DFW biologists believe the herd has continued to grow since then.

The DFW is anxious to have good weather for this year’s count so they can confirm population data.

No survey experience is necessary for volunteers, but they must attend an orientation and count area assignments beginning 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2 -- the evening before the actual count -- at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor's Office in Arcadia.

Volunteers will hike to designated observation sites in the San Gabriel Mountains early Sunday morning to count and record bighorn sheep. Volunteer groups will be led by a representative from DFW, USFS, or SCBS. Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking a minimum of one mile in rugged terrain, although most survey routes are longer. In general, hikes will not be along trails and accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes, and/or bushwhacking through chaparral. Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes in addition to hiking gear, water, and trail snacks.

Volunteers can sign up and get more information at

Cabin fever? Early trout opener is

next weekend in southern Inyo County

Trout season opens Saturday, March 2 on a number of small streams in southern Inyo County, nearly two months ahead of the statewide trout opener on most waters that will be April 27.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife is scheduled to plant Cottonwood Creek, Diaz Lake, Georges Creek, Independence Creek, Lone Pine Creek, two sections of the Owens River (the Bishop to Big Pine stretch and below Tinnemaha Reservoir), Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Shepherd Creek, Symmes Creek, and Tuttle Creek.

Two of the highlights of this special early trout fishing season are a pair of derbies held in March.

The first is the Early Opener Trout Derby held at Diaz Lake just south of Lone Pine from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 2. Hosted by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, entry fee for this event is $10. It features tagged trout worth cash and prizes and a Blind Bogey event. More information and on-line registration is available at, or you can call 760-876-4444 or e-mail

This event is followed by the Blake Jones Trout Derby which has been held annually since 1968. This year, it will be Saturday, March 16, on Pleasant Valley Reservoir, the Owens River near Bishop, and other open waters in the region. It has a $20 entry fee and over $10,000 in cash and prizes. More information and on-line registration is available at or by calling 760-873-8405.

Extra plants of trout, including trophy fish, are planted for both derbies.

Fred Hall Show series kicks off

March 6-10 with Long Beach event

This year marks the 73rd Anniversary of the Fred Hall Show, the giant fishing, boating, hunting, and outdoor sports show now held in three venues throughout the southern half of California.

The Long Beach show is the granddaddy of the shows, which attracts over 100,000 sportsmen from throughout the region to see the latest products, get news on outdoor destinations around the globe, and attend informational seminars on all aspects of outdoor sports. It is beind held March 6-10 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

This show will be followed by the newest show in the series, the Central Valley sports Show will be in Bakersfield at the Kern County Fair Grounds March 15-17.

That event will be followed by the Del Mar Fred Halls Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds March 28-31.

Bart Hall, the son of show founder Fred Hall, has continued the family tradition almost sounded amazed that the show still generates so much excitement in the fishing community.

“For generations of anglers, the Fred Hall Show is the kickoff to the fishing season,” said Hall. “This lifestyle is flourishing in our region. Fishing is great, boating is back to historic levels, people have money to travel again and outdoor recreation is more important than ever.”

Hall said he expects the shows to have “an historic year” in the number of exhibitors and people who attend the shows.

For more information, costs, dates and times, and exhibitors, go to


Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.

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