All posts by Chris Cocoles

Mossberg partners with Duck Commander on new line of shotguns

Commander MossbergNorth Haven, CT – O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc, America’s oldest family-owned and operated firearms manufacturer, has entered into a long-term agreement with the Robertson family and the hugely-popular Duck Commander franchise.

Best-known as the stars of the top-rated reality TV series “Duck Dynasty,” the Robertson clan lead by family patriarch, Phil, has expanded their Louisiana-based call-making company into a national phenomenon and A&E Television Networks™ most-watched series.

Terms of the multi-year agreement will include focus on the family’s passion of waterfowl hunting, promotion of the shooting sports and family values as well as a series of Mossberg Duck Commander firearms.

The now multi-million dollar Duck Commander enterprise was founded by Phil and is led by his son, Willie, and includes family membersUncle Si, Jase, Jep (all known for their long-flowing beards), and Alan. All share in the passion for hunting and time-honored Southern traditions.

“Mossberg is extremely proud to partner with Duck Commander to further promote hunting, shooting sports and family values,” commented Iver Mossberg, CEO. “The Robertson’s widespread appeal and ability to cross over into the mainstream has bridged millions to the traditions of hunting and sharing time in the field with family.”

“The Duck Commander franchise was built on hard work, family values and our great American heritage.  As an iconic, hard-working American product, made by a family-owned company, Mossberg is a perfect partnership for our team,” said Willie Robertson, CEO, Duck Commander.

Mossberg will work with the Robertsons to develop a line of branded Duck Commander guns across multiple categories including pump-action and autoloading waterfowl shotguns. For more information on Mossberg firearms and future Duck Commander offerings, please visit our web site at or follow us on

Fourth of July fireworks, fishy style: some of the hottest bites for the long holiday weekend

By Joel Shangle

Hennesy Funds pro-staffer Allison Shaw with a pair of frog-caught Clear Lake largies. (Photo courtesy Allison Shaw)

Hennessy Funds, Dobyns Rods and Maxima pro-staffer Allison Shaw with a pair of frog-caught Clear Lake largies. (Photo courtesy Allison Shaw)

With temperatures spiking over triple digits throughout the Golden State this week, it seems like a good idea to celebrate the Independence Day long weekend with water nearby. As in, up to your knees as you wade a local stream, or under the boat you’re fishing out of.

Taking a look around the state, we’ve plucked a handful of excellent Fourth of July fishing options out of the fire(works). Here are the places you’ll find the extended California Sportsman family over the next few days:

Lower Sacramento River: Excellent fishing to be had for wild raibows, according to veteran guide Kirk Portocarrero of

Early morning and late afternoons are the best, but we’re catching huge rainbows now: 16 to 25 inches,” KP reports. “We’re using Prince nymphs, Iron Sallies, Pheasant Tails, Poxyback PMDs, black Rubber Legs and Green Gidgets. Boat traffic is heavier from Posse Grounds to Anderson River Park.”

Clear Lake: Get your frog and punch on. CS July “Fresh Face” Allison Shaw, Chris Costello, BASS Elite Series angler Chris Zaldain and Trait Crist whacked the largemouth this week throwing frogs and punching the vegetable canopies around Clear Lake. Stow this away: this is the time of year to hit Clear Lake for zombie patrol when the sun goes down and the night-fishing crowd does its best.

New Melones Reservoir: The peak of the kokanee season arrives throughout the Mother Lode, as reported by the staff at Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp.

“The fish that are being caught are very fat and up to 13 to 15 inches in length,” says Melanie Lewis. ” Anglers should try fishing the main lake near the dam, spillway, and Rose Island. Lures with blades will produce flash and vibration that aggravate fish and trigger more bites.  A few lures that have been working are, Mag Tackle Mini Mags, Rocky Mountain Super Squids and Assasins, Uncle Larry’s Spinners, and Glitterbug’s Bladed Micro Hoochies.   Be sure to use plenty of scent on your blade and lure.  Garlic, anise, kokanee special, carp spit, and bloody tuna are great scents that produce fish every year.  Don’t forget to tip your lures with scented and dyed shoe peg corn.”

San Pablo Reservoir: Bring out the stanky stuff this week: the catfish bite at San Pablo is red hot, thanks to a boost of 800 pounds of cats that went into the lake in late June.

“Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers, anchovies and shrimp out at the boat launch shoreline, Scow Canyon and Oak Point,” reports David Perez at the tackle shop.

Fresh Faces: Amada Plewes discovers abundance of opportunity near Carlsbad

CARLSBAD—The lilt to her voice as she says “troot” and “aboot” says “Canada,” but there’s no doubt that Amanda Plewes is exactly where she belongs, kicking a Hobie kayak around Carlsbad Lagoon in pursuit of halibut. The host of Big City Fishing on the World Fishing Network is right at home in sunny Southern California, despite the fact that she’s 2,600 miles from the small town in Ontario where she grew up and first fished.

Amanda Plewes with a toad Camp Pendleton largemouth caught on a Live Target frog

Amanda Plewes of Big City Fishing with a toad Camp Pendleton largemouth, caught in late June on a Live Target frog. (Photo courtesy Amanda Plewes)

“Now that I’m here in and I see the size of the fish you can get – and it’s year around! – I’m like ‘Hooooooooly, I found a new paradise’,” Plewes says. “I’m blown away by the health of the fish here.”

No small compliment from an angler who’s fished some of the most diverse, productive waters of North America in the past three years. Plewes’ “Big City Fishing” resume reads like an excerpt from “100 Places You Must Fish Before You Die”: Lake Ontario for giant German browns; peacock bass in the Florida Everglades; the Niagara River for trophy smallmouth and Chinook; the pristine trout waters of Kamloops, British Columbia; the list goes on and on.

It’s “dreams come true” territory for the girl who huddled in her grandfather’s ice shack, pulling perch through the ice, and who obssessed over the “really big, nasty carp around the docks” at her small local lake. Plewes landed on television after a random contact via Facebook by an agent, inviting her to audition for a fishing show. She aced the audition, and soon found herself in front of the camera for the first season of “Big City Fishing,” a show that focuses on close-to-home fishing opportunities that exist in populated areas of North America.

“A lot of it is from the bank,” she says. “We try to teach the basics, and that you don’t need to go spend a lot of money to catch fish. We go buy the $30 rods at the store and give tips throughout the show how to rig. A lot of people who don’t have the money for a boat really relate to the show.”
-Joel Shangle

Swarovski announces compact new CL Pocket binoculars

SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA, a subsidiary of the Austrian-based company, announces the new CL Pocket binoculars. The new CL Pocket binoculars are the perfect binoculars for everyone who would like a pair of binoculars with excellent optical performance, a high level of viewing comfort coupled with a compact size, thanks to the folding bridge design.

Swarovski PocketCL Pocket binoculars will accompany you wherever you go and whatever you do, they are the perfect companion, offering unique optical quality of the highest order, all in a handy design. Enjoy high-contrast, sharp, true-color images that you’ll never forget. For optimum viewing comfort, the exit pupil was shifted back – with the benefit of permitting even eyeglass wearers a 100% field of view. Correct adjustment of pupil distance and the twist-in eyecups is important for this function. When closed, the CL Pocket is a compact pair of binoculars; opened up, it is a full-sized pair of binoculars that does not allow for any compromises, offering a large field of view, total eyeglass wearer capability, optimized edge-to-edge clarity, and high transmission.

“Pocket binoculars just got serious!” says Rob Lancellotti, Public Relations Associate for SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA. “The CL Pocket delivers big optic performance from a small, light, easily carried binocular that can be with you for any outdoor activity, as well as indoor sporting events or concerts.”

The CL Pocket features an ergonomic, rugged construction thanks to its aluminium housing, offering optimum operation and unique viewing comfort. Available in black, green or tan, the CL Companion binoculars come complete with a water repellent field bag and carrying strap.

For information, log on to

Case Cruzer: Carrying cases geared for travel

Here’s the latest from CaseCruzer:

2-Pack Quick Draw Gun Case: Preppers appreciate the importance of firearm safety. The CaseCruzer 2-Pack Quick Draw accommodates semi-automatic handguns up to 9.25 inches and revolvers with a barrel length up to 4 inches. The interior slots store handguns in a quick-draw position. Handguns are protected against water, air and dust. Comes with a lifetime warranty.

WineCruzer : The WineCruzer 8-Pack PRO carrying case is a mobile mini-wine cellar by CaseCruzer that accommodates up to eight bottles of wine, where four bottles can be stored on the lower tray, and the remaining bottles on the upper tray.

For more information, go to,, or call (800) 882-4730.

Cruzer Gun CaseWine Cruzer

Wolf Ammunition: guaranteed performance

Wolf AmmoWOLF Ammunition guarantees their line of precision ammunition like no other — all come with a 100 percent performance guarantee! WOLF Ammo is offered in calibers for hunting, target shooting, competition, and plinking.

You will find WOLF Performance Ammunition Centerfire rifle and pistol, cartridges offered as WPA Polyformance, WPA Military Classic, and WOLF Gold (reloadable brass).

NEW FOR 2013: Announcing the GRENDEL 6.5 Steel Case FMJ 110 GR. with WOLF’S Combat Coating

WOLF Rimfire is one of the tightest and best-grouping rimfire cartridges available in the world. Using the highest quality brass and a proprietary manufacturing technique yields virtually no case variances which delivers unmatched accuracy. WOLF .22 Long Rifle comes in rounds of Match Target and Match Extra.

WOLF Performance Ammunition allows you to shoot more and spend less!
(888) 757-WOLF (9653)

Mike Raahauge: the embodiment of the Father’s Day spirit

By Joel Shangle

Raahauge MemorialYou don’t always have to be a father to be recognized and appreciated on Father’s Day. As was certainly the case with Mike Raahauge, who recently passed away at the age of 72, your influence on young hunters and anglers can (and should) extend well beyond the boundaries of your own flesh and blood.

Raahauge, as so many of you already know, was one of the champions of hunting and shooting in California. The Turner’s Shooting Sports Fair – which just celebrated another fantastic run in early June – is the best example of one man (and family) reaching out to people and opening them into the outdoor community with open arms, regardless of age, social status or ethnicity.

Mike Raahauge was, above all else, generous and welcoming to anyone interested in the outdoors.

“Raahauge aorganized one of the largest hunter safety training programs in the nation, providing classes for first-time hunters in Southern California.” Jim Matthews wrote in Raahauge’s obituary. “As the years rolled by and the classes grew, eventually involving a promotional partnership with Turner’s Outdoorsman, many classes ended up with well over 100 students. A recent count showed that over 50,000 people have attended hunter safety classes at Raahauge’s facility, far more than any other program in the nation.

“Raahauge was instrumental in putting together the annual Youth Safari Day event in conjunction with the Orange County Safari Club chapter. The event exposes urban youngsters to a wide range of outdoor sports, from kayaking to rock climbing to shooting of .22s and archery gear. There are nature walks in Prado Basin and fishing for catfish in a pond on the complex. This year will mark that event’s 15th anniversary.”

As Father’s Day approaches, I’d like to extend a thank you to all of the dads, uncles, granddads, cousins and family friends who have reached outside their own families and created fishing and hunting memories with the youth of our state. Keep them in mind as June 16 approaches.

California Sportsman celebrates Father’s Day with a special package for all the dads of the Golden State.

The role of Dad in your hunting/fishing life

With Father’s Day fast approaching, it seems like a great time to recognize and salute all the men who have played important roles in our lives as hunters/anglers.

Chris and Dad huntingI can say with unabashed enthusiasm that my first, best hunting partner didn’t own a stitch of camo beside a John Deere baseball cap, only “scouted” for deer season while moving cattle from mountain meadow to mountain meadow, and had the worst case of buck fever I’ve ever seen (despite qualifying as an expert marksman in the Marines).

My Dad, though he’s never been a hunting fanatic, introduced me to the world of guns, shooting, hunting and appreciation for the craft of being in the woods, and I’ll forever be grateful.

The attached photo is of myself and my oldest boy, Chris, on his very first hunt: chukar in east-central Nevada. That gun I’m holding was given to my by my great uncle, and Chris’s Red Ryder BB gun was given to him by, you guessed it, my Dad.

I want to hear from all of you, and see your photos of you and your Dad hunting and fishing together. It’s all part of a two-week celebration of Father’s Day, and the importance of the great dads, grandfathers, uncles, etc., who have given us the gifts that we so cherish as hunters and anglers.

Take advantage of our fantastic Father’s Day by clicking on this subscription special (seen on this page), or hit the California Sportsman Magazine Facebook page, or email me at

And thanks, Dad.

A New “Sportsman” …

June issue kicks off unique new outdoors magazine for California anglers, hunters, outdoorsmen/women

Amanda P CS June coverI am, always have been, and always will be a fan of magazines. I love the damn things. Love they way they feel in my hand, and the way they convey stories and informationin ways that even the super-awesome-fantasticness of the worldwide Web cannot.

My poor 9-year-old daughter knows that, as soon as we make it to the magazine racks at our local supermarket, we’re going to be there awhile, and that those racks are going to be rearranged, tweaked and rearranged again as Daddy studies. It embarrasses the hell out of her.

It struck me during one of my many such “study sessions,” while I was perusing an odd mix of men’s lifestyle, beer, muscle car and fishing/hunting titles, that the Golden State was in need of a fresh, new magazine that caters to all things that surround our fishing and hunting passions.

It just so happens that I’m in charge of a magazine, and that the publisher of said magazine is of a similar mind: There’s something missing in the fishing/hunting/outdoors magazine realm in California, and somebody should change that.

Welcome to the new California Sportsman.

The best info, the best entertainment: We’ve published this magazine for four years now, and have done our best to focus on the nuts and bolts of fishing and hunting in California. We’ve told you what lures to throw, what stretches of river to focus on, and which deer units will be most productive during archery season. That “go here, do this” information has been the hallmark of this company’s outdoors magazines.

And still will be. We’ll still tell you when, where and how to be successful in the field. You’ll still find the West Coast’s best writers, anglers and hunters contributing to these pages, and the most valuable inside information on everything from bass to billfish.

In addition, though, from this day forward, your California Sportsman will be flavored with the things that make your “outdoors lifestyle” complete. You don’t simply just fish or just hunt when you’re out in the field. You eat, drink, and enjoy the lifestyle.

Do you love food? Cool gear? Beer? NASCAR? Music? Trucks? Knives? Electronics?

So do we. And they all fit nicely into the world of fishing and hunting.

We plan to explore all of the above, and many, many other subjects that fall under the header of “fishing, hunting and outdoors lifestyle.”

What would you like to see?: The inbox is open, readers. I’d like to hear about other subjects that interest you. Feel free to drop me a line at

Best bass fishery in the state RIGHT NOW? Might be New Melones Reservoir

by Joel Shangle

Alex Niapas hoists a 17-pound, 13-ounce New Melones largemouth caught on a California Reservoir Lures Bedwetter jig. (Photo courtesy Alex Niapas)

Alex Niapas hoists a 17-pound, 13-ounce New Melones largemouth caught on a California Reservoir Lures Bedwetter jig. (Photo courtesy Alex Niapas)

ANGELS CAMP-The term “best ever” is a dangerous, somewhat ambiguous label to hang on a fishery, even one as well-known and productive as New Melones Reservoir. How can you possibly prove it?

Here’s how: “There have been over 10 (largemouth) pushing the 15-pound mark caught in the past three weeks, one 19-pounder, one spot that went 10.1, and I have no doubt that there’ll be a spotted bass over 12 (caught here),” says Bub Tosh, owner of Paycheck Baits.

For those of you who are keeping track, the 10.1 was a new lake-record spot, and the 12-pounder that Tosh predicts would shatter the International Game Fish Association world record. And the double-digit largemouth, while occasional catches at this  massive Mother Lode impoundment in previous years, haven’t been nearly as prolific as in the past 365 days.

So, best ever? Hell yes.

“The past two years, I’ve seen that fishery blow up and kick out giants like it’s never been before,” says Tosh, a lifetime resident of the area. “It’s unreal. Melones has kinda flown under the radar for bass guys – all the guys from this area love to troll it for kokanee, but the bass anglers haven’t been abusing the lake. It’s all built up. The past two years, it’s kicked out the biggest and most badass of spots and largemouth.”

You can thank the abovementioned landlocked sockeye for that, and for the abundance of 5- and 6-inch shad. While Melones is indeed one of the best kokanee fisheries on the West Coast, those 8-inch chromers are more than just good fodder for smokers throughout the Mother Lode. They’re growth pellets for both largemouth and spots, and the dinner bell stays on virtually year-round here.

“Because of the way they’ve stocked this lake, they’ve almost turned it into a pond,” Tosh observes. “There’s more food in this lake than anywhere: you go look at McClure or Pardee or even Clear Lake, and the guys are crying because they don’t have the shad we do. Add them to the kokanee, and this lake is just much, much more fertile. The bass are almost never around the bank because they’re out eating kokanee, which never come away from the thermocline. You can just beat the bank to death and not find anything, because the bass are out suspended in huge wolf packs, almost like a school of stripers.”

Your shot at shallow fish
That wolf-pack phenomenon has contributed to a unique fishery where anglers are fishing for typically shallow-water species in water that’s “kokanee deep,” so pros like Tosh have tweaked their techniques to suit the conditions.

“You learn to throw topwater in 120 feet of water,” Tosh jokes.

This month, however, is the one time of year where fish will behave more like every other bass on the planet and move shallow to spawn. Water temperatures this spring kicked off an early spotted bass spawn, but the largemouth spawn has been pushed back, and should be at its peak in May.

“Largemouth are absolutely looking for wood or bank structure now,” Tosh says. “The bigger ones will try to be around the docks, basically any downed wood they can find. This fishery consists of a small main lake and a long river, and you can fish from the bottom end of the river all the way up to Mormon Creek, as far as you can go. There’s a helluva lot of wood back up in that river arm.”

Randy Pierson of Oakdale hooked the new lake-record 10.1-pound spotted bass in March, but local experts swear that a world-record fish exists in New Melones’ waters. (Photo courtesy Glory Hole Sports,

Randy Pierson of Oakdale hooked the new lake-record 10.1-pound spotted bass in March, but local experts swear that a world-record fish exists in New Melones’ waters. (Photo courtesy Glory Hole Sports,

Bring out the baits
John Liechty of Glory Hole Sports has been whacking big largemouth since March, mostly throwing big Huddlestons over main lake points as bass phase through their prespawn. While those big boomer baits will still be in play this month, Tosh suggests possibly downsizing a little to better mimic kokanee and shad than the trout that the Hudds imitate.

“I think these fish are used to eating a little bit smaller bait,” Tosh says. “The Hudd will definitely still work, but as much as (Melones bass) gorge on smaller fish, I’d probably run something like a Top Shelf or Optimum, those 5- and 6-inch baits.”

Big creature baits like Carolina- or Texas-rigged Brush Hogs, craws or lizards will produce well this month, as will topwater baits like The One, Zara Spooks and various other poppers and prop baits. Also, don’t eschew the Alabama rig, which would theoretically approximate a small school of kokanee or shad.

“Weightless Senkos are pretty hard to beat when it warms up, too,” suggests Liechty. “Jigs, too: run a 3/8 or ¾-ounce, but nothing flashy, Just a simply twin-tail Yamamoto in green pumpkin is perfect.”

After the spawn
Once Melones’ largemouth have finished their spawn, they’ll begin to move out of creeks and shallow flats, onto secondary points, and then to main lake points.

“Almost any secondary point on the lake, there’s going to be a wolf pack of bass on it after they spawn,” Tosh confirms. “You can throw topwater and just crush them. June will be the bloodiest month of topwater anyone has ever seen around here. A guy with any skill or who knows the game a little could go up there and have an absolute free-for-all during the week.”