All posts by Chris Cocoles

Lake Isabella Fishing Derby Coming Up March 28-30!

With the big Lake Isabella Fishing Derby coming up at the end of March, look for a preview in the current issue of California Sportsman, which is now on sale across the state.


Meanwhile, our friends at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce, George Stahl and company, provided us with this press release with some information on the trout derby at the Kern County Lake near Bakersfield.

Despite the drought and a lower lake level, the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce is happy to announce that there will be a fishing derby this coming year. The 2015 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby will be held on March 28, 29 and 30!

According to the Chamber’s Fishing Derby Committee, some adjustments to the profile of the derby have been made, but they are confident that everyone who enters will have a great time. One of the changes this year, are a number of guaranteed winnings. According to the committee, the Chamber is looking forward to having the opportunity to give away some very good prize money. As always, Lake Isabella will have some of the largest trout in the area for the Derby and whether yours is a moneymaker or not, it will still prove to be a good diner size trout for you to enjoy.

This year’s big money prize trout will be worth a guaranteed $18,500! There will be 10 Longest Trout awards starting with the highest at $5,000 and descending to a $500 10th Longest Fish! The prizes will be structured in the following order; (1st Longest Trout) $5,000, (2nd) $4,000, (3rd) $3,000, (4th) $2,000, (5th) $1,000, (6th) $900, (7th) $800, (8th) $700, (9th) $600, & (10th) $500. That $5,000 catch will be worth $10,000 if it is caught by an angler wearing n official 2015 Derby T-shirt!


Measuring will be taking place during Derby hours at Derby Headquarters only, which will be at the Lake Isabella Moose Lodge located at 6732 Lake Isabella Blvd. Along with these prizes, there will be a possibility for anglers to win in the always popular, Bobber Bowl Sweepstakes. Several, huge one pound plus trout with an official 2015 Derby tag will be worth up to $100 each, generously sponsored by local merchants, organizations and individuals.

Also this year, any registered fisherman will be able to win a Vacation Voucher worth $6,000 if they have the winning ticket! Tickets for the Voucher are only $20 each or six for $100.

More prizes and drawings that will be available at Derby Headquarters during the three-day event will be announced as March approaches. This year the entry fees will be $30 per individual and $65 per family. The Derby will start at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Mar. 28 and continue until 4 p.m. on Monday March 30, and the winners will be announced shortly after that the close of the derby.

Thank you in advance to all of the anglers from across California and beyond who will be coming out to the Kern River Valley for the derby. We welcome you and your families, and warmly invite you to have a great family weekend. Updates on the Isabella Lake Fishing Derby news to follow in the coming months before March! We’d also like to thank all of our sponsors for their support! This derby would not be possible without your continued generosity.

For additional information or to join the rest of us in registering call (760) 379-5236, e-mail us at or friend us on the Lake Isabella Fishing Derby Facebook page for the latest posts.

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!

Promising 2015 Chinook Season Ahead?

At the annual salmon informational meeting held in Santa Rosa, state and federal fishery scientists presented encouraging news for sport and commercial salmon anglers.

Forecasts suggest there are 652,000 adult Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon in the ocean this year, along with 423,800 adults from the Klamath River fall run. Fish from these runs comprise the vast majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.


James Phillips holding a Chinook salmonC


These forecasts, which were higher than last year, will be used over the next few months by fishery managers to set sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas, and size and bag limits.

“The forecasts are encouraging and suggest that California fisheries may see salmon seasons in 2015 that have increased opportunities over last year,” said Melodie Palmer-Zwahlen, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chinook salmon that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2015 hatched 2-4 years ago and, as a result, have not been highly impacted by California’s drought. Starting next year, it is anticipated that future ocean salmon fishing opportunities may be impacted by the ongoing drought.

Photo by CDFW

Photo by CDFW

Season dates and other regulations will be developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and California Fish and Game Commission over the next few months. For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website, or call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Lake Del Valle Update


Here’s a fishing update from Capt. Dan Hollis of Livermore’s Lake Del Valle:

Stephanie Brocklesby with a

Stephanie Brocklesby with a 10-pound, 9-ounce rainbow caught on a gold Kastmaster. (LAKE DEL VALLE)

Water temperature climbed up to 58 degrees this week, shutting down the bite.  That quick change in temp gave the trout lockjaw not wanting to feed except early morning and in the last few hours of the day went the lake cools down.  Congratulations to Mr.Justin Huff who caught his first fish on Saturday, it was a 6.4-pound trout on Powerbait from the west area; nice fish, Justin.  Another fisherman who’s dominating the trout scene is Robert Bryan; in the last three weeks he has caught three trout over 10 pounds, including his 12.5-pounder he got this week. 

     Bass are starting to build beds and are in full-swing prespawn patterns.  Although they are still biting Robo Worms and Senkos, we are starting to catch them on crankbaits and jerkbaits worked slow over the visible beds.  Mostly smallmouth are being caught because the water is still a little chilly.  When the water warms up the largemouth will become super active and start to actively feed on the shad schools when they raise to the surface and move into the warmer water.  Until then, try bouncing a football jig through the beds, sometimes that will produce a very large fish either smallmouth or largemouth even big cats have been known to grab a jig if given the opportunity, especially if your using scent enhancers such as pro-cure, smelly jelly or countless others.  if you are going to jig for fish I strongly recommend a crawdad plastic trailer and the scents you use make sure it is crawdad.  Crawdaddys have a very unique smell in the aquatic world, because their one of the only freshwater crustaceans here in Del Valle so fish can zero in on it and know exactly what it is!
     Striped bass showed no interest in any lures or cut bait this week.  I heard there was a boil in swallow bay early in the morning but none of them hit the Heddon Zara spook that was thrown into the boil.  It’s still very early to be seeing boils but, the warm weather can cause premature spring activity.  If this warm weather continues we may see a phenomenal summer striper bite.  That’s all for this week Good luck.

888-327-2757 Option 3 ext. 4524



Coast Guard Licensing Rule Could Affect Bristol Bay Guides

Photo courtesy of Eli Huffman/Jakes Nushagak Camp

Photo courtesy of Eli Huffman/Jakes Nushagak Camp

Our sales manager, Brian Lull, brought this item to my attention. Lull spends time every summer in Bristol Bay helping out the guides at Jake’s Nushagak Salmon Camp, so the following report is near and dear to his heart:

Here’s Dillingham radio station KDLG (audio is available on the website):

 USCG moving guides to full OUVP (“six pack”) licenses on Western Alaska rivers. Lodge owners say change is not feasible for their industry now.

The U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of implementing new regulations that sport fishing lodges in Bristol Bay say will harm their business this year. …

What the Coast Guard is proposing are modifications to the licenses used by guides, and the requirements to get those licenses. In the past, Hodson’s guides could operate on a “limited” OUVP, or Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel. The change, however, will now restrict a person with that license to guiding on only three waterways, and the operator must have 90 days experience on each of those waterways.

“Which in our business is impossible. You take Kulik Lake, I mean how do you get a boat up there, and what are you going to camp for 90 days just to get a license to operate that river?”

Nor, he says, is operating on only three waterways feasible for a sportfishing guide in Bristol Bay.

“For me, because we fly out and fish so many different waterways, it makes the guide unemployable. Because I can’t use them anywhere except a very limited area.”


The Bristol Bay folks whose livelihood is the fishing industry are already fighting battles up there. Hang in there, everyone!

Returning Tagged Fish For Cash

Photo by CDFW

Photo by CDFW

In our March issue of California Sportsman, we’ll preview the upcoming Lake Isabella Fishing Derby, which in the past stocked tagged trout that meant cash prizes for contestants catching them. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is also encouraging Northern California salmon and steelhead anglers to also keep on the lookout for tags affixed to fish.

From the CDFW:

Successful north coast steelhead and salmon anglers could catch a $10-50 reward for returning their fish tags this season. Of the more than 4,500 fish that were tagged, 3,000 are eligible for a cash reward.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) uses information gathered from the tags applied to Chinook, coho and steelhead in the Trinity River system to calculate harvest and help biologists estimate population size of steelhead and salmon runs. Only tags returned to CDFW in the same season they are obtained can be used in estimates. The timely return of tags to CDFW is critical because the data is also needed for the annual season setting process.

Reward tags are clearly marked, though any tag returned is appreciated. The information non-reward tags is equally important to the process.  When the tag is returned, CDFW will send you information about where and when your fish was tagged, in addition to any reward for which you might qualify.

Anglers can download the tag return form

Tags should be taped to the completed form and returned to:

5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA  95521

Please remove the knot from the tag to ensure your envelope makes it through the USPS mail sorting process intact.

Tags need to be received by about the end of April, but the sooner the better for the Chinook tags. For additional information, please contact Mary Claire Kier at

CDFW On The Term ‘Unplugged’

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife



The California Department of Fish and Wildlife referred to “unplugged shotguns” in its 2014-15 Waterfowl Regulations Handbook pertaining to late-season waterfowl hunts. CDFW issued the following release to clarify that language and any confusion the wording may have caused:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) seeks to clear up an inadvertently included sentence in the 2014-2015 California Waterfowl Hunting Regulations that led to confusion about the use of an “unplugged” shotgun for late-season waterfowl hunts.

The language in question is included in the synopsis of current federal regulations, located at the back of this year’s California Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet. On Page 84, the booklet states that no person shall take migratory game birds:

“… with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. This restriction does not apply during dates States have selected under the Conservation Order for light geese (i.e. greater and lesser snow and Ross’s geese) or those selected for the control of resident Canada geese. (States insert appropriate dates for light goose only and Canada goose only seasons.)”

Please note that the section of the regulations underlined above is incorrect and does not apply anywhere in California. The plugged shotgun requirement remains in effect for all goose hunting seasons in California.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has primary jurisdiction over management of the nation’s waterfowl, does authorize the use of unplugged shotguns and other techniques in certain parts of the country, in specific circumstances when population reductions are desired. However, federal regulations do not provide for these exceptions in California.

Almost all of California’s wintering goose populations are at the highest levels in decades, resulting in liberal harvest limits and several special late season goose-only hunts around the state. While in the field, hunters can access the regulations via smartphone . The incorrect language relative to the unplugged shotguns has been removed in the online version.

CDFW apologizes for the confusion and will remove the inapplicable reference in next year’s regulations booklet.


Low Flow Waters Prompt New Regulations In Northern California

Low water on the Russian River could prompt fishing bans when its cubic feet per second level drops below 300. (FINLAY MCWALTER/WIKIMEDIA)

Low water on the Russian River could prompt fishing bans when its cubic feet per second level drops below 300. (FINLAY MCWALTER/WIKIMEDIA)


From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) informs anglers that sport fishing regulation changes have gone into effect for coastal streams in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties. The new regulations can be found in Title 14, California Code of Regulations, section 8.00 (b).

On December 3, 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted a regulation for annual Special Low Flow Conditions from October 1 through April 30 for coastal streams within the three counties. This regulation now bases flow closure conditions for Mendocino County streams on the Navarro River gauge near Navarro by establishing a minimum flow of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS gauging station on the main stem Navarro River near Navarro, Calif.

With the exception of the Russian River, coastal streams in Marin and Sonoma counties will be based on the South Fork Gualala River gauge near Sea Ranch with the establishment of a minimum flow of 150 cfs at the gauging station on the South Fork Gualala River near Sea Ranch (Sonoma County).

The new regulation also establishes low flow conditions for the Russian River in Mendocino and Sonoma counties based on the Russian River gauge near Guerneville. These streams will be closed to fishing when stream conditions fall below the minimum flow of 300 cfs at the gauging station located on the main stem Russian River near Guerneville (Sonoma County).

Low stream flow conditions prevent the movement of salmon and steelhead to their spawning grounds, increasing their vulnerability to predation, physiological stress and angling pressure. These coastal streams provide critical life-stage habitat for coastal Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout. All three of these species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Coho salmon is also listed under the California ESA.

In addition, CDFW will make low flow stream closure information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be open or closed to fishing. It shall be the responsibility of the angler to use the telephone number designated in the sport fishing regulations booklet to obtain information on the status of any stream.

The number for low flow stream closure information is (707) 822-3164 for Mendocino County and (707) 944-5533 for Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties.

Shasta Water Level’s Rising Good For Houseboaters

SCANNERMAKER: NIKON; SCANNER: E990; SOFTWARE: E990v1.0; DATE: 2001:08:21 13:01:23; DESCRIPTION:           ; Ignored Tags: $9000, $9004, $927C, $9286, $A000, $A001, $A300, $A301

Release and photos courtesy of

Thanks to just two major storms this winter season, Shasta Lake has risen nearly 100’ since its low point at the beginning of December 2014. Though California remains in a drought, this bounty of water makes it time to look at the positives and get back to enjoying the wonders of majestic Shasta Lake this season. Nature is beckoning you, with over 270 miles of shoreline to explore, fish, hunt and hike.

You may well know that Shasta Lake contains an abundant variety of fish species. These species include: brown trout, rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, carp, Sacramento sucker, Sacramento squawfish, riffle sculpin, black fish, hardhead minnow, white sturgeon, channel squawfish, threadfin shad, white catfish, brown bullhead, golden shiner and green sunfish. For those that don’t own a boat to visit the many coves and nooks for the best fishing, rental boats are available from Jones Valley Resort in the Pit River Arm of Shasta. Fishing vacations are a popular activity on the lake as well, with a plethora of houseboat models in a variety of price ranges available from Jones Valley Resort ( and others.



For the novice fishers, and even the experienced pros who want to use their precious non-working hours efficiently, professional fishing guides are available to take you out on Shasta Lake. A few include:
Sac River Guide (
Mike’s Fishing Guide Service (

Shasta Lake is unparalleled in California for its size and beauty. Known as the ‘houseboat capital of the world’, the lake is widely popular during the boating season that roughly starts annually with Memorial Day weekend and ends with Labor Day weekend. But for the true lake lover, special timeframes to visit are in the spring while the wildflowers are blooming and wildlife awakening, and in early fall when both the water and days remain warm and the lake is a calm oasis.



Sources for more information on Shasta Lake are:
Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association (
Shasta Lake Chamber of Commerce (
Shasta Lake Business Owners (

Collins Lake Update


Here’s a fishing report from Collins Lake:

Nancy Stapp and Madelyn Baker

Nancy Stapp and Madelyn Baker

Incredible trout catches this week, the biggest one was 8 pounds on a stringer brought up by Nancy Stapp & Madeln Baker. They limited out and they trolled the east side either on a Rapala or Needlefish, the guys didn’t stand a chance with this duo.

Maggie Capitano

Maggie Capitano

Another lady angler from Marysville, Maggie Capitano hooked a 7-pound, 5-ounce ‘bow on a Flicker Shad Lure.

Little Mykala outdid her brother Dylan with her huge trout weighing in at 6-pounds, 4-ounces.

Mykala and Dylan

Mykala and Dylan


Angel Swan

Angel Swan

Angel Swan & Brandon trolled with worms on the east side and Angel’s big catch of the day included a hefty 7-pound rainbow.

With our trout planting season in full swing, the results are undeniably tremendous and will continue to get even better as we receive more plants and start to release some of the net pens beginning midMarch.

For more on Collins Lake, go to


Orca Lodge: Adventure Begins At The End Of The Road




Orca Adventure Lodge is a historical fishing and adventure destination just north of Cordova, Alaska in eastern Prince William Sound.  A restored cannery town from the 1880s, “Orca” as it was formerly known has been transformed into the perfect location for sport fishing, hiking, kayaking, and wildlife viewing.  From the rich waters of Prince William Sound to the rivers and streams of the Copper River Delta, we are situated in the perfect setting to access some of the best fisheries in the region, as well as a wide variety of wildlife.
With 40 rooms on our oceanfront property, Orca is ideal whether you are traveling solo, with your family, or with a group of fishing buddies you’ve known for decades.  Our onsite restaurant serves hot buffet breakfasts, delicious lunches to take on your adventures, and unbelievable three-course dinners by the best chef in town.  We specialize in the best local seafood and everything we make from the bread to the desserts is homemade from scratch.
Once you’ve had a good nights sleep and a hearty meal, a vast array of fishing options are right at your doorstep!  If saltwater fishing is your thing, we offer daily charters departing from our private dock targeting halibut, rockfish, cod, and all 5 salmon species.  Our short range trips into Prince William Sound provide the best combination trips while our offshore trips into the Gulf of Alaska give you the best opportunity for that trophy-size halibut or lingcod.  Custom-built 33-foot catamarans make the trip to/from the fishing grounds smooth and comfortable, and our knowledgeable guides are experts at getting you on the fish.
If a scenic freshwater stream with your fly rod in hand is more your style of fishing, we target four out of the five salmon species and several types of trout in 40-plus rivers systems in our area.  We have a variety of boats, jet skiffs, and planes to get you into that perfect spot.  Whether you are a fly fisherman or prefer a spincasting rod, a day on the water with hard fighting fish and tight lines is hard to beat!  Our trips are suitable for first timers who don’t know how to cast, all the way to the most advanced angler who might need a few tips on how to read the water.
For the angler seeking the most remote fishing experience, we operate three wilderness cabin locations for both trout and salmon.  Sunshine Point and Hidden Cove are our two coho salmon destinations while Tebay Lakes offers some of the best rainbow trout fishing anywhere.  Voicemail and crowded rivers NOT included on these adventures…
Orca Adventure Lodge is a family owned and operated destination that prides itself on great service, a scenic location, and the guides and gear necessary to provide the fishing experience of a lifetime.  Give us a call and we can customize a quote based on YOUR time frame, interests, and budget.
See you this summer!