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Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Hunting giants
Tuesday, September 05, 2017
Scientists collect two live giants

The Navy puts kibosh on kites at SCI
This past week the USN at San Clemente Island effectively put a stop to high-flying kites, publishing the following notice on its website at — the primary source for info regarding island closure times and areas:

SCI SECTORS RUN out to 3 miles from the island coast. The island’s website ( lists a schedule outlining any upcoming access restrictions within them.


Major Fleet training exercises are being conducted in the vicinity of San Clemente Island through Aug. 31, 2017.The Navy requests boaters, fishing vessels (including kite fishing), and fish spotters pay close attention to hazardous areas and be extra diligent to avoid interfering in this vital training provided to defend our Nation. Additionally, Kite fishing can pose hazards to low-flying aircraft. The current regulation for kites is cited in the Code of Federal Regulations section 101 (14 CFR §101). Pertinent excerpts are as follows:

§101.7: Hazardous Operations — No person may operate any kite in a manner that creates a hazard to other persons or their property.

§101.13: Operating Limita­tions — No person may operate a kite more than 500 feet above the surface of the earth and within five miles of the boundary of any airport.

§101.15: Notice Require­ments — No person may operate a kite more than 150 feet above the surface of the earth unless, at least 24 hours before beginning the operation, he/she gives the following information to the FAA ATC facility that is nearest to the place of intended operation:

(a) The names and addresses of the owners and operators

(b) The size and weight of the kite

(c) The location of the operation

(d) The height above the surface of the earth at which the kite is to be operated

(e) The date, time, and duration of the operation

§101.17: Lighting and Mark­ing Requirements —

(a) No person may operate a kite, between sunset and sunrise unless the kite and its mooring lines are lighted so as to give a visual warning equal to that required for obstructions to air navigation in the FAA publication Obstruction Marking and Lighting.

(b) No person may operate a kite between sunrise and sunset unless its mooring lines have colored pennants or streamers attached at not more than 50 foot intervals beginning at 150 feet above the surface of the earth and visible for at least one mile.

The long and the short of it is, if you’re kite fishing out there, you have to figure out how to tune your kite right. It shouldn’t be way up there, making fishing the flyer difficult and bringing the Navy down on you for possibly delaying or postponing an operation.

Here’s the deal. Having your fishing kite flying meteorically, like a kid’s kite in the park, is lame.

The reason not to do it near SCI is they have set parameters with respect to civilian risk factors, or even fear factors for dropping live fire near you. One doofus doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and place can cause them to have to delay, postpone or cancel a training or testing op which took months of planning, bringing in boats, gear and people from all over the world, and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to delay.

The reason not to do it at all, is you want the kite to carry the bait out away from the boat — not dangle it down from the heavens so half your line is already out when you first get bit. Plus, a 100-yard down dangle adds a hundred yards of slack to deal with when the release trips.

The key is tuning the kite properly. If you notice, it’s all about the angle of the dangle. Different kite’s bridles are tuned differently. With AFTCO’s kite, the center line is adjustable.

With any fishing kite, a variety of factors come into play, wind speed, line size, which determine the best bridle adjustment. You’ll find the kite seems to reach a max height, then simply stretch out further from the boat as you let out more line. It’s the bridle tuning which sets that maximum height.

Once the kite line leaves the rod tip flat, rather than at an upward angle, that’s it for height. The harder the wind blows on the kite, creating more lift, the harder it blows on the line, too, holding the kite down. But, when the wind on the kite is very light, the weight of the kite and line is a bigger factor. Any boost in wind seems to send the kite upward.

Also, the bigger the bait, the easier it is to control kite or balloon height. If you’re flying a balloon with live baits, just keep adding baits and leaders to the clip, until the balloon can no longer lift them out of the water. Then you’re set. Or, don’t fill the balloon with as much helium next time.

Are those regs real? I checked, and they seem so, except 101.17 only applies to stuff above 499 feet. ‘Turns out, that FAA Obstruction Marking and Lighting publication is 91 pages of highly detailed regulatory fun. That entire kite and balloon section is pretty new, coming with the drone regs, —had an effective date of Aug. 29, last year.

San Clemente Island’s website ( lists specific “Safety Zones” they may close or open to access. There are a couple which are basically never open — SWAT-1 and Wilson Cove. SWAT-1 is the red sector “G” off the west end.

I remember, during the SoCal. MLPA process, thinking those areas would be the only ones that would really see any level of compliance, given the low regard with which 95 percent of the people actually out on the water had for MPA plan the DFG Commission selected. No one would fish SWAT-1 because just ashore, our people in camo practice with 50 cal. ammo, a round with a 4-mile-plus range!

At Wilson’s, the Navy is serious and will run your boat out of there if you linger in the 2- to 3-mile sector or stray within the Wilson Cove 2-mile zone.

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Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California party boat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at:

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