All posts by Chris Cocoles

Reaction To White House’s Oil Drilling Statement

“The Conductor”/Wikimedia


Today, the Trump Administration announced plans to essentially allow offshore drilling in almost all federal waters. Here are some reactions involving California waters.

California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris:

State Rep. Grace Napolitano:

The governors of three West Coast states, including Jerry brown, released the following statement:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, California Governor Jerry Brown and Oregon Governor Kate Brown today issued this joint statement following announcement that the U.S. Department of Interior would seek to open the Pacific Coast to oil and gas offshore drilling for the first time in decades:

“This political decision to open the magnificent and beautiful Pacific Coast waters to oil and gas drilling flies in the face of decades of strong opposition on the part of Washington, Oregon and California – from Republicans and Democrats alike.

“They’ve chosen to forget the utter devastation of past offshore oil spills to wildlife and to the fishing, recreation and tourism industries in our states. They’ve chosen to ignore the science that tells us our climate is changing and we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we won’t forget history or ignore science.

“For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further federal drilling and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action.”

Here’s the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Salmon Association:

“Looks like salmon fishermen can expect 2018 to be a year of trying to hold the line against destruction of California salmon by the federal government.  Last week the federal Bureau of Reclamation declared war on our Central Valley salmon stocks by moving to greatly increase water diversions from Central Valley rivers and the Delta to agribusiness in the Western San Joaquin Valley.  Today we hear from the White House that our coastal salmon fishing grounds are being targeted for neighborhood blight in the form of offshore oil rigs. When does their war on salmon fishing families end?”

From the other perspective, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were excited:


NorCal Hatchery Struggling To Produce Chinook

Coleman Hatchery photo by USFWS


With the holidays and an extremely busy schedule I had last week, I missed posting a fine report from the Sacramento Bee’s Ryan Sabalow on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coleman National Fish Hatchery’s woes:

Here’s Sabalow with more:

The federal Coleman National Fish Hatchery tries to produce about 12 million fall-run Chinook salmon for release each spring into Battle Creek, a Sacramento River tributary south of Redding. This spring, the Coleman hatchery will only have half as many young salmon to release.

The reason harkens back to the abysmal river conditions in the heart of California’s historic five-year drought – and the choices fishery managers made those years to move the baby Chinook by tanker truck out to sea in a frantic effort to save the commercially important fish.

They knew at the time trucking the fish would lead to fewer fish coming back to Coleman this year to spawn.

“Everybody kind of acknowledged and understood at the time the consequences,” said John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, a fishing advocacy group.

Chinook live two or three years in the Pacific Ocean before adult fish head back upriver to lay their eggs and die, starting the cycle anew. Fish hatched in California’s five-year drought that ended officially in the spring are returning to Central Valley rivers this year.

Almost all of the Central Valley’s fall-run Chinook are hatched from eggs and sperm that biologists harvest from adults that return to hatcheries below the dams blocking the fish from their traditional spawning habitat.

Fall-run adult fish – raised at five hatcheries across the Central Valley – provide the bulk of the fish caught in the commercial and recreational fishing industry. McManus and other fishing advocates say fall-run Chinook support $1.4 billion in annual economic activity in California and about 23,000 fishing related jobs while providing locally caught fish for Californians’ dinner tables.


Start The New Year Right: With Delicious Crab Meat

Photos by Mark Fong


Happy New Year from California Sportsman! As you’re watching bowl  games and pondering your New Year’s resolutions, how about some crab? Or lingcod? The following story ran in our December issue. Our correspondent Mark Fong also has a profile of the guides who took him out into the Pacific, Happy Hooker Sportfishing:

By Mark Fong 

For anglers fishing off the coast of San Francisco, late fall is a special time of year. It marks the intersection of two very popular sport fisheries: the Dungeness crab opener and the conclusion of the rockfish and lingcod season. 

With the opportunity to bring home tasty claws and filets for the holidays, this is a very popular time to be on the water. And over the years I have done my share of rockfishing, as I enjoy both the fishing and the fine table fare that it affords. 

But I had never been on a crab and rockfish combo trip before. Based on my experience, I can see why these are some of the most in-demand trips of the entire year.

There are many great charter boats operating out of the bay and along the coast. High on the list is Happy Hooker Sportfishing (; 510-223-5388). With skippers Chris and Jonathon Smith at the helm, I always know that I will be treated to a first-class day on the water.

The much anticipated recreational Dungeness season opened on Nov. 4. With this date entered on my
iPhone calendar, I made sure to book my trip well in advance. But even so, I had to settle for a date after the opening weekend. (Note to self: book earlier next year.)


After departing from the Berkeley Marina in the predawn dark, we made our way past Alcatraz Island and continued through the Golden Gate. Soon the morning sun began its ascent over the picturesque East Bay hills and we headed out to sea. A mix of scattered high clouds made for a brilliant sunrise and created amazing shades of pink, blue and orange set against the iconic San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.

About an hour into the trip on the Pacific Ocean, Capt. Chris informed us that we would be stopping to pull and move a string of crab traps. A group of eager anglers assisted Capt. Jonathon and the deckhand Ryan with the task at hand. 

It was quite a process to see, as Chris positioned the Happy Hooker next to a floating crab trap buoy, a team member secured it and quickly passed it along to Jonathon, who attached the rope to the automated crab block and pulled the trap aboard. 

The catch was carefully measured and sorted, and any crabs that weren’t keepers were released. The traps were checked, baited again and set up on the rear deck. Once all the traps in the string were aboard, Chris made a quick run to a new location where the traps were quickly sent down to soak. In short order, we were on our way to the rockfishing grounds.

As we neared the Farallon Islands, the anticipation level grew. My fishing buddy Ian Rigler and I decided to target lingcod. Jonathon told the boat that the best option for lingcod was to fish a trap rig with natural bait. For those wanting to target rockfish, shrimp flies were the best choice. When the captain and the deckhand speak, it is wise to listen. They are on the water everyday and are dialed into exactly what the fish are biting.

I rigged up a large dead sardine on my trap rig. Knowing that I wanted to primarily target lings, I’d brought my Cousins Tackle CPX 809 matched with an Avet Reel – an SXG2 spooled with 45-pound FINS 40G Braid. This was the perfect set-up for handling the 24-ounce weight needed to effectively fish the deep water at the islands.


It did not take long for the fish to start coming over the rail. Ian was soon hooked up with a nice ling. As for me, I could not get bit. As I awaited my first, Ian was now fighting a second, even bigger fish.

Then it happened – my first bite. But rather than a ling, it turned out to be a big rockfish. I quickly put the fish in my bag, rigged up a new bait and then dropped down again. After a few minutes I was into a nice lingcod. I put steady pressure on the fish and slowly worked it to the surface, where Jonathon gaffed it and swung it aboard.

Over the next few hours my good fortune continued. Not only was I able to put my second ling in the boat but also caught a variety of quality rockfish. The action around me continued at a torrid pace, with other anglers on the boat catching fish too. Before I knew it Chris informed us to wind ’em for the final time of the day. The shellfish were waiting for us. 



On the return trip to Berkeley, Chris and crew pulled several more strings of crab pots. When all was said and done, it was limits of crab for all, in addition to plenty of quality rockfish and lings.

After the fish were cleaned and filleted, the moment everyone was waiting for was at hand: crab time. Jonathon and Ryan the deckhand passed out orange mesh bags to each angler. As I quickly learned, there is a pecking order to this process. Any of the helpers who assisted the crew in pulling traps had their bags filled with the prized crabs first. On this day, every angler happily took home a limit of 10 delicious Dungeness.

Back at the marina, the tackle store was abuzz. Outside, a small crew was at the ready to cook and clean our crab for a small fee. Within short order I was on my way home with a cooler full of fresh fillets, cooked crab on ice and memories of a great day at the Farallon Islands. CS

Editor’s note: For more on recreational crab fishing regulations, check out

A Family’s Hunting Reunion


Merry Christmas from California Sportsman! Have a safe and prosperous holiday. Check out this family hunting adventure that’s available in our December issue:

By Tim E. Hovey

In the fall of 2015, I took my daughters Alyssa and Jessica out to Wyoming to hunt deer. After hunting hard near the town of Cody for three solid days without luck, a chance meeting with a game warden would lead us to a land manager named Alan. With little more than eight hours left to hunt, Alan agreed to give us access to an immense amount of property so that we could hopefully fill our tags. 

We hunted hard that final evening and were able to put three doe in the coolers for the ride back to California. Beyond grateful, I called Alan and told him how much we appreciated his generosity. He seemed more thrilled that my two daughters had driven all the way from California and had killed deer on the property. He ended the call by stating simply, “See you next year!”

Needless to say, I stayed in contact with Alan, and when the 2016 Wyoming deer season rolled around, I asked him if he had any open spots for us to hunt the farm again. ”Come on down!” he texted back. 

Jessica (top) and Alyssa glassing for deer.

ON OPENING MORNING, WE decided to hunt Bureau of Land Management ground first in the hopes of running into bucks. The actual owner of the property Alan managed would only allow does to be taken by hunters, and this season both Alyssa and Jessica wanted a chance to shoot a buck.

The morning hunt was extremely cold and windy. I set my daughters up at the edge of a canyon and I hiked further down the ridge to look for deer. After several hours of brutal winds and near-freezing conditions, we hadn’t seen a thing.

Back at the truck, I could see that the girls were spent. We were only 10 miles from Alan’s farm, so I texted him to see if he was around. Instantly he suggested we come onto the farm to meet him. 

Alan was all smiles as we shook hands. He was glad we had made the trip out again and quickly produced the hunting permits for us to fill out. He pulled out a map and pointed out a few spots he had seen deer recently. He then folded the map up and handed it to me. We again expressed our appreciation and got back in the truck and headed out to hunt.

The property is a mix of agricultural fields, native habitat, heavily wooded creeks and levees – essentially everything deer need to happily live on and thrive. That was part of the problem. The land is a working farm and the deer heavily impact profits by openly grazing on the crops. 

The owner, under Alan’s suggestion, had decided to open up the property to hunters to hopefully keep the deer numbers in check.

SINCE WE HAD BEEN successful there the previous year, all three of us were very excited to be back on the property. Alan’s report that the deer were skittish and hard to find this year did little to dampen our enthusiasm. 

We drove onto the west side of the property at about noon. Less than a mile in, Jessica spotted a small group of antelope way to the left and near the very edge of the property. They were over 800 yards away on alert and looking to their right. I grabbed the binoculars and spotted what they were looking at. A whitetail doe was approaching the group; for some reason they didn’t like it. 

There was no cover and I knew a really long shot might be difficult for the girls. As we sat there thinking about what to do, Alyssa suggested that I head out and see if I could get close enough for a shot. I looked back to Jessica and she nodded in agreement. 

I grabbed my rifle and shooting sticks and closed the door. The big difference between this hunt and our previous one here was that Alyssa now had her driver’s license. I handed her the keys and told her to stay put until I signaled them.

The field I had to cross wasn’t planted but had been heavily disked. I had to navigate huge chunks of dirt and move through massive dips in the field as I closed the distance. As I moved, I watched the group. The doe and the antelope were focused on each other and never noticed me. I just kept hiking through the rough field towards the deer. 

At about 450 yards, I noticed that the doe was now moving away and towards the boundary of the property. Another 50 yards further and she’d cross the fence. I had sighted in the Savage Axis rifle to shoot long distances, and the week before at the range, I was regularly pinging the 400-yard steel. The rangefinder put the deer at 429 yards, a long shot for sure, but I felt I could get it done.

I set up the sticks, sat on a huge chunk of dirt and found the deer in the scope slowly feeding away. Within seconds the deer turned broadside and I placed the crosshairs at the top of the shoulder, right above the heart, and squeezed the trigger. 

The doe hopped once and started running towards me. I loaded another round and waited for the deer to stop. Seconds later I saw her stumble and then fall over. The shot was right through the heart.

I heard the truck horn go off several times as the girls celebrated from afar. I motioned for them to bring the truck up as close as they could. It was an awesome feeling to know that I could now rely on my daughters to assist on my hunt. Within a few minutes, Alyssa navigated the old farm roads and pulled up within feet of the dead deer.

With an assist from my hunting partners, it took less than 30 minutes for us to completely quarter out the deer and put it on ice. We cleaned up and got back on the hunt. Jessica voiced the general mood. 

“One down, two to go!”

WE SLOWLY DROVE THE edge of the old cornfields. As we cut between parcels, Alyssa spotted several adult deer cutting from the native vegetation at the edge of the property into the crop. We quickly got out, but the eight deer had disappeared in the dry corn.

We were convinced that more deer were holding tight in the corn and kept searching the edges. With about 45 minutes of daylight left, Alyssa spotted two huge doe standing in the corn, 60 yards from the truck. She told me to stop, quietly got out and made her way to the front of the truck. I watched as she rested her rifle on her sticks and mounted up behind the gun. The shot came and she turned around with a huge smile on her face. 

Despite hearing Alyssa’s deer crash in the dry corn, she wanted to track it. The trail was easy to follow and the large doe was piled up in the field 40 yards from where she had been hit.

As daylight faded, I handed Alyssa a headlamp, a skinning knife and told her to start quartering out her deer solo deep in the old cornfield. I knew deer would be moving as the sun began to set and I was hoping we could find our third and final doe for Jessica.

Alyssa took the processing gear and got to work. Jessica and I got back in the truck and started looking for deer. We didn’t have to go far.

Jessica spotted a smaller doe standing in the next field over at only 130 yards out. She grabbed the shooting sticks and I grabbed the rifle. Jessica then found the standing doe in the scope and took her shot. The deer folded right there. 

Three tags, three deer, though it wasn’t quite over yet.

AS WE CELEBRATED, THE deer suddenly got up and started trotting towards the edge of the field. Jessica took a rushed shot at the escaping deer but missed. Within seconds the deer disappeared in the thick brush. We were both stunned. The shot looked perfect and I had even spotted blood on the escaping deer’s side.

We searched until dark and both of us felt like the deer was gone. We were about to head back and help Alyssa when a heartbroken Jessica suggested we take one more look.

I drove down an old road adjacent to a large drainage canal. At the end of the road, we turned around and headed back. I was in the middle of consoling Jessica when she spotted the deer floating dead in the canal. 

We loaded up Jessica’s deer and headed back to help Alyssa. With headlamps and flashlights guiding us, my daughters and I skinned out and quartered their deer in the darkness of an old cornfield in northern Wyoming. It was a memory I will cherish forever.

THE FOLLOWING DAY WE made a point to drive out to the property and thank Alan, who was so happy that we once again had filled our tags on the property. As he shook my hand, he looked me square in the eye and said something that struck a chord. “Don’t stop doing what you’re doing, Dad!”

Early the following morning, we loaded up all our gear and started the long drive home to California. The trip back was bittersweet for me. I know future trips will be tough. The girls had to miss a week’s worth of school to hunt the opener. I know as they get older, catching up on schoolwork will be harder for them. 

Jessica sat up in the back and said, “Hey, Daddy, thanks for taking us deer hunting in Wyoming.” Alyssa thanked me as well. The worries about returning evaporated. 

Those would-be trips didn’t matter. What mattered was that both my girls were there with me then. And I’m very confident that one day the Hovey family will be back! CS


Trout Plants Throughout The State For Holiday Fishing

Photo by CDFW


The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The winter holidays are a great time for families and individuals to enjoy recreational trout fishing, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) trout hatcheries plan to provide plenty of opportunities for anglers of all ages over the next two weeks. Specific plants of catchable trout are scheduled at 79 waters in 25 counties between now and Jan. 5.

CDFW trout hatcheries stock many inland waters throughout the year, in support of the angling public. As always, CDFW’s trout stocking schedule can be found online, as well as California’s map-based Fishing Guide.

Please see the list below for a county-by-county breakdown of stocking locations. Happy Holidays and best wishes for excellent fishing in 2018!

Alameda County

  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Lakeshore Park Pond
  • Shadow Cliff Lake
  • Temescal Lake

Contra Costa County

  • Lafayette Reservoir
  • Los Vaqueros Reservoir
  • Contra Loma Reservoir
  • Heather Farms Pond

El Dorado County

  • Folsom Lake

Fresno County

  • Fresno City Woodward Park Lake

Inyo County

  • Diaz Lake
  • Owens River, below Tinnemeha
  • Owens River, Section II
  • Pleasant Valley Reservoir

Kern County

  • Ming Lake
  • Hart Park
  • Riverwalk
  • Truxton Lake
  • Kern River below Lake Isabella

Lake County

  • Blue Lake Upper

Los Angeles County

  • Alondra Park Lake
  • Echo Park Lake
  • El Dorado Park Lakes
  • Legg Lakes
  • Lincoln Park Lake
  • MacArthur Park Lake
  • Santa Fe Reservoir
  • Belvedere Lake
  • Downey Wilderness Park Lake
  • Hollenbeck Park Lake
  • Hansen Dam Lake
  • Kenneth Hahn Lake
  • La Mirada Lake

Madera County

  • Bass Lake
  • Sycamore Island
  • Eastman Lake
  • Hensley Lake

Marin County

  • Bon Tempe Lake

Merced County

  • Yosemite Lake

Nevada County

  • Rollins Reservoir

Orange County

  • Carr Park Lake
  • Centennial Lake
  • Eisenhower Lake
  • Greer Park Lake
  • Huntington Park Lake
  • Mile Square Park Lake
  • Tri-City Lake
  • Yorba Linda Regional Park Lake

Placer County

  • Halsey Forebay
  • Folsom Lake
  • Rollins Reservoir

Riverside County

  • Little Lake
  • Perris Lake
  • Rancho Jurupa Park Pond

Sacramento County

  • Elk Grove Park Pond
  • Hagen Park Pond
  • Folsom Lake (Granite Bay boat ramp)
  • Howe Community Park Pond
  • North Natomas Park Pond
  • Granit Park Pond
  • Rancho Seco Lake

San Bernardino County

  • Cucamonga Guasti Park Lake
  • Glen Helen Park Lake
  • Seccombe Lake
  • Yucaipa Lake
  • Silverwood Lake

San Diego County

  • Cuyamaca Lake
  • Chollas Lake
  • Lindo Lake
  • Murray Lake

Shasta County

  • Baum Lake
  • Shasta Lake

Solano County

  • Lake Chabot

Sonoma County

  • Ralphine Lake

Stanislaus County

  • Woodward Reservoir
  • Modesto Reservoir

Tulare County

  • Success Reservoir
  • Lake Kaweah

Ventura County

  • Casitas Lake
  • Rancho Simi Park Lake
  • Reseda Lake

Yuba County

  • Collins Lake

Another Crab Season Delay


The following press release is courtesy of the California Department     of Fish and Wildlife:

The Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced a final 15-day delay for the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. Crab condition improved from the last round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 19. However, crab had not reached the minimum meat recovery criteria as established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee testing protocol.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Jan. 15, 2018, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2018. This is the last delay the Director can issue due to Dungeness crab quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period.  In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

Testing results for domoic acid are posted by the California Department of Public Health.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit

Legendary S.F. Bay Area Fishing Skipper Passes Away

Capt. Roger Thomas photos courtesy of Salty Lady Sportfishing.



The following press release is courtesy of the Golden Gate Salmon  Association: 

 It’s with great sadness that the Golden Gate Salmon Association announces the passing of Captain Roger Thomas from pancreatic cancer. Thomas passed Tuesday morning with his lifelong friend and partner Captain Jacky Douglas at his side.

Roger Thomas was captain of the charter boat Salty Lady, a member of the California Outdoor Hall of Fame, and a lifelong advocate to keep west coast salmon fisheries alive and sustainable. Everyone knew him to be an honorable and remarkable man, a friend, mentor and colleague. In a recognition he received from the US Congress in May, he was found to be “one of the most decent and hard-working human beings one can know”.

Born in Gilroy, California, he started fishing at an early age for striped bass from the beaches along Monterey Bay and later for salmon from a small boat launched at the Monterey Pier. He was hooked on salmon fishing and became a regular customer on charter boats out of San Francisco. He worked as a deckhand on a charter boat and later got his own captain’s license in 1968.

He represented the charter boat fleet boats from Fort Bragg to Monterey as President of the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association from 1973 until this year.  He was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, a coalition of commercial and recreational fishermen and others that works to protect and restore Central Valley salmon habitat. For 14 years, he served on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council which, among other duties, sets the ocean salmon seasons. Roger was a member of the Bay Delta Advisory board, the Winter Run-Captive Broodstock Committee, the Central Valley Fisheries Coalition, the Marine Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Commerce, the Coastal Resources Foundation, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the National Sea Grant Review Panel and the Marine Resources Committee.

Victor Gonella, founder of GGSA, remembers Roger Thomas as a man that touched his life deeply.  “From his fishing expertise to his constant grace under pressure in adverse conditions while fighting for salmon, Roger was always a true gentleman.  Both at the state and federal level, including his many trips to Washington DC, he represented California salmon interests.  For over 40 years Roger made a major difference in maintaining our California salmon stocks and the sustainable harvest they allow.  Roger was a true salmon hero.”

In addition to salmon fishing out of Sausalito and Half Moon Bay, Roger ran whale watching and nature trips that introduced thousands of children and adults to the magic of marine life. He spent more than 10,000 days on the ocean where he shared his deep knowledge and appreciation of the natural world. He was one of the last to see San Joaquin Spring run chinook salmon before they went extinct after construction of the Friant Dam.

Roger was a familiar face in Congress where he represented the interests of the charter boat fleet and the health of west coast salmon stocks for decades.

Commercial salmon fisherman Chris Lawson said, “When I first met Roger, I was a kid working on my uncle’s party boat.  Once I started commercial fishing, anytime there was a crisis in the industry, he was always there campaigning.  He was a champion of the fisheries, always there hammering for the fisheries, for everyone. He’s going to be missed.”

“Roger could have stayed home but instead whenever he wasn’t fishing he was traveling and working on behalf of the rest of us who fish salmon,” said GGSA executive director John McManus.  “He was a great inspiration to me and many others.”

In the 1980s, he was appointed by then Vice President George Bush to the National Sea Grant Review Panel. In this role he traveled to ports around the country and helped decide which projects were worthy and would be funded.

Roger was instrumental in helping pass the 1992 Central Valley Improvement Act, a key law to protect salmon and the Bay Delta. When salmon populations collapsed in 2008 and 2009, Roger worked closely with Congress to successfully provide disaster relief to salmon fishermen.

Roger Thomas’ tireless work earned him the respect and adoration of countless people up and down the west coast and across the country. He will be sorely missed.

GGSA secretary Dick Pool, who partnered with Roger on salmon issues for over 30 years, said, “Roger was an iconic leader in the management and enhancement of West Coast salmon and other marine fish.  He spent a lifetime working to improve the conditions for the fish and for fishermen.  His work and legacy will last for many decades into the future.”

What To Get Her For Christmas?

Photo by Anthony Yang.

The following appears in the December issue of California Sportsman: 

By Amy C. Witt 

You’re probably thinking you’ve exhausted all options. Between anniversaries, Valentines, birthdays, achievements, celebrations and … wow, that’s a lot of gifts! 

But kiss those what-to-give worries goodbye, because we will help you think of something she will love but might not buy for herself, a gift that will remind her of you every time she uses or gazes at it. 

Remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be the perfect gift. Relax, sit back and read on. Here’s your ultimate holiday gift idea checklist and a spending guide to help you survive the season. 

Andreas Kalani makes customized California-made hunting and fishing knives. (AK CUSTOM KNIVES)



Get a customized skinning knife, filet knife or set of chef knives from California-based Andreas Kalani, who specializes in handmade American blades, knives and accessories. Info: or (949) 682-8282.


Customize a special and unique gun sling, scabbard, holster, belt, or anything else of your liking for your special someone. This company’s run by a Central Valley-based woman whose leatherwork has graced musicians and professional cowboys all over the U.S. Info: (559) 706-9205 or Instagram (@buckinbuckarette). 

Eva Shockey has inspired plenty of girls and young women to embrace the outdoors. Shockey’s fine book about how she became a passionate hunter would make for a great motivational tool. (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)


High quality and handmade in the U.S., they feature customized duck and goose calls at reasonable prices. Info: or (270) 734-9337.


Not only are they great and universal fashion statements but also have multiple uses in the great outdoors! These wild rags and scarves have been handpicked, designed, sewn and packaged by the owner, who runs her own business in Bakersfield. Info:


It’s a ready-to-use, easy-to-clean blanket to take with you into the field. It has a functional roll-up design and convenient carrying handle, consists of pure virgin wool, and is made in America. Info: 


Let her film all her trophies and journeys with a GoPro. Also, purchase the Sportsman Mount to hold the camera on shotgun barrels, fishing rods, nets, in front of the boat, the treestand, or the stabilizer of a bow. Info:


Get a subscription and each month the newest collection of outdoor, hunting and fishing items will be sent to your loved one’s door. Info:


With a 400-pound capacity, heavy-duty nylon straps, aircraft aluminum carabiners and stuff sack, it’s not only convenient but meant for adventure. Info:


Huntress Eva Shockey-Brent, an accomplished sportswoman, speaks on hunting stereotypes and conservation in her new book, Taking Aim: Daring to Be Different, Happier, and Healthier in the Great Outdoors. Info: or available on Amazon.


Women’s White Ledge Timberland Mid Waterproof hiking boots are reliable and comfortable for everyday wear. Info: timberland.comCS

Editor’s note: For more on Porterville-based Amy Witt, check out and follow on Instagram (@Californiadreamin).

Check out these products for your hunting or companion dog this holiday season. 


Dogtra, the innovator of the world’s finest dog training products and e-collar systems, is proud to introduce the newest addition to the best-selling ARC e-collar remote training system, ARC Handsfree. Perfect for hunting dogs, the ARC Handsfree e-collar provides owners the freedom to multitask, while maintaining discrete control during field operation. The flexible ARC Handsfree Remote Controller allows you to apply stimulation using only fingertip control, providing more versatility with your hands at any given time. It’s designed for all dog breeds with medium to mild temperaments. Info: 


Rain filtering through the trees, wind whipping over the mountains, snow falling wet and heavy – none of these should stop your adventure. The North Country Coat is made from a durable Ripstop and 1200-denier material that stands up tough on the trail and effortlessly sheds water, wind and snow. Inside, it’s lined with a soft fleece to keep your furry friend warm and comfortable through any conditions. Let the weather do its worst, because your pooch will be sporting the best. Info: CS

Get A Holiday Gift Certificate From The Ojai Angler

Photo by the Ojai Angler


The following press release is courtesy of the Ojai Angler:

As we gather to celebrate the holidays with friends and family we’d like to take a moment to say Thank you for your continued loyalty. We appreciate everyone that has reached out to us during the Thomas Fire. We are grateful to the firefighters and first responders that have fought so hard to protect our Ojai Valley and Lake Casitas. Today the Lake was open for the first time in 2 weeks. We have had blue sky’s the last 2 days and fresh air is back! Only the right hand side of lake was chard but lots of the big oak trees are still standing mighty and will florish with rain. Caught some bass, saw deer, birds and wildlife is all beautiful at the Lake and the Ojai Valley. Pictures On our Instagram page ojaiangler and Facebook Ojai Angler.

We are offering a GREAT, FUN, UNIQUE GIFT!

You can use them for yourself or for anyone on your Holiday list who loves the sport of fishing, OR for that someone that would enjoy learning and experiencing something new!


Limited offer 8 Half days and Full days.

* Half day fishing trip special, $275.00 for two people on the Bass Boat (Reg. $325.00)

* Full day fishing trip special, $350.00 two people on the Bass Boat (Reg. $425.00)

* 15% OFF PONTOON BOAT 4 or more Anglers!

This Gift Certificate is valid any time at Lake Casitas for the year 2018!


Best Wishes!!

Guide Marc and Amy Mitrany
TALK – TEXT 805-701-2835

Humboldt Steelhead Days Ready For Another Run

Eric Stockwell, of Loleta Eric’s Guide Service, caught and released this wild steelhead in the Eel River last year during Humboldt Steelhead Days. (Photo courtesy of Humboldt Steelhead Days)

The following press release is courtesy of Humboldt Steelhead Days:

Humboldt Steelhead Days is more than just a fishing contest – it’s a winter celebration of all things steelhead. The ever-evolving event is entering its fifth year and will continue to host an array of watershed-related activities throughout Humboldt County. The goal of Humboldt Steelhead Days (HSD) is to inspire community awareness, promote river restoration and the recovery of Humboldt’s iconic wild winter steelhead populations.

Humboldt’s only annual signature wintertime event, HSD looks to build on its popularity with both local and out-of-area anglers. During January and February, there are more steelhead in our North Coast rivers than anywhere else in California.

“I’m looking forward to the fifth annual HSD competition,” said HSD angler and Arcata resident Charlie Holthaus. “Last year’s rainy weather made for tough conditions, with muddy water persisting nearly the entire season. This year the outlook is promising: The Trinity River has been fishing good already and the Mad River hatchery released plenty of young steelhead three years ago. There will be steelhead to catch in both rivers this winter. All we need is clear skys and favorable water conditions.”

Access to Humboldt County was virtually cut off last year when U.S. Highway 101 and Route 299 closed multiple times due to extreme rainstorms between October and March. But high-river flows, mudslides and road construction could not keep 110 registered anglers from fishing in HSD’s fishing contest. While many of the HSD anglers were locals from Humboldt, some braved the weather and came from as far away as Southern California and Michigan.

“Fishing winter Steelhead on the North Coast is exciting and exhilarating no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. Steelhead are beautiful, hard hitting fish. Get out there and hit it,” said HSD fisherman Tim Call.

This year, the Humboldt Steelhead Days will run from Saturday, Jan. 13, to Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Licensed anglers can participate in the contest by registering online on Once registered, anglers will be eligible to win several prize packages. Anglers who catch the three biggest hatchery steelhead on either the Mad and Trinity rivers will be notified prior to the Steelhead Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Mad River Brewing Co. Tap Room. Prize packages will include a Douglas steelhead spinning rod donated by rod builder and designer Fred Contaoi; guided river trips donated by River’s Edge Fishing; gear from Pacific Outfitters and Sport & Cycle; gift certificates from Lube Central and 3G’s Hay & Feed, and much more.

Anglers can also attend a Steelhead Expo on Jan. 20 with clinics and seminars brought to you in part by the City of Blue Lake, several Pints for Non Profits brewery mixers, and a showing of the documentary film “A River’s Last Chance: A Story of Salmon, Timber, Weed and Wine along California’s Mighty Eel River,” by former Humboldt State University student and the director of storytelling for Pacific Rivers, Shane Anderson slated for Feb. 10 at the Lost Coast Brewing Company and sponsored by Coast Central Credit Union.

HSD will also feature a Wood Creek restoration tour on Saturday, Jan. 28 by the Northcoast Regional Land Trust organization. Humboldt Steelhead Days participants will learn about the coho salmon life history, the significance of estuarine habitat, fish monitoring technology, contextual historical regional land uses and project successes and challenges.  Tour attendees will also have the opportunity to actively participate in the restoration project through a vegetation based stewardship activity.

In addition to showcasing angling opportunities on some of Humboldt’s most pristine steelhead rivers, HSD is also a major fundraising event for the non-profit group Mad River Alliance (MRA) and their programs. MRA is a community-driven group of volunteers working to protect clean water and the ecological integrity of the Mad River watershed for the benefit of its human and natural communities. MRA hosts several river clean ups along the Mad River each year. The group also holds diving education classes, river rafting and kayak safety courses for youth groups, and monitors the river by collecting temperature data.

Michelle Fuller, the outgoing president of MRA’s Board of Directors, said, “Humboldt Steelhead Days has become one of Mad River Alliance’s most fun and well-known events. We are thrilled to see so many people connecting with this important seasonal phenomenon, and coming out to support our watershed!”

MRA director Dave Feral founded HSD four years ago and the event’s original mission was to celebrate the return of the winter steelhead to the Mad River. HSD has evolved over the last four years to also build community awareness and fund continued restoration and recovery activities on North Coast rivers and streams.

“Mad River Alliance’s goals are to promote wintertime steelhead angling in Humboldt County and continue working toward restoring our wild fish populations,” Feral said. “The Mad River watershed supports at least 37 fish species utilizing the river for some part of their life history. For salmon and steelhead, the annual return and spawning is an integral part of Humboldt’s cultural identity and way of life. Each year, wild fish return to their native streams, spawn and continue the cycle of life. Seeing these amazing creatures return from their miles-long journey will appeal to anyone who loves the natural world.”

HSD angler, Sean Jansen said, “Chasing steelhead on the North Coast is an absolute privilege. However it takes equal parts obsession as well as patience. Obsession in studying weather patterns, river flows, water clarity, and tidal patterns. And patience for waiting for all to align. Upon the anticipation of the arrival of these fish, the true reward comes from the immense beauty they swim through.”

This year, HSD organizers decided against including the Eel River as part of the fishing contest in favor of hatchery fish located in the Mad and Trinity rivers.

“We didn’t want to put any added pressure on wild fish for year five,” said Tracy Mac, HSD’s fishing coordinator. “We want to remind anglers to keep their fish in the water until they can determine if an adipose fin is absent.”

HSD angler and guide Eric Stockwell, of Loleta Eric’s Guide Service, pointed out that the release is a true test of an angler’s skills.

“As an angler develops the skills, knowledge, tooling and timing needed to pursue and catch wild steelhead, he or she may not know that the ultimate test of sportsmanship will lie in the moment of handling and release,” Stockwell said. “Focus on this pursuit long enough and you will know it.”

Anglers can fish on the Mad and Trinity rivers from Jan. 13 to Feb. 16 with the requirement that they send in a photo of their hatchery fish catch to event organizers or post them on social media using the hashtags #humboldtsteelheaddays or #HSD.

HSD would like to thank the generous donations and support from Mad River Brewing Company, Green Diamond Resource Company, Pacific Watershed Associates, Alves Roofing, Mill Yard, Stillwater Sciences, Royal Gold, Coast Central Credit Union, City of Blue Lake, 3Gs Hay & Grain, Lube Central, North Fork Studios, Lost Coast Brewery, KHSU, Fishing the North Coast, Mack Graphics, Lost Coast Communications, Pacific Outfitters, Sport & Cycle, RMI Outdoors, Mad River Tackle, Douglas Outdoors, North Fork Studios, North Coast Journal, Mad River Radio, KIEM News Ch. 3, Blue Lake Rancheria, Miller Farms and many more who make HSD possible. 2018 HSD Poster Link: Click Here.

If you would like to sponsor this event or donate a gift certificate or auction prize …
Contact HSD Founder:
Dave Feral at Mad River Alliance
PO Box 1252, Blue Lake, CA 95525
(707) 382-6162