All posts by Chris Cocoles

Last Sentencing For Abalone Poacher

Photo courtesy of CDFW

Photo courtesy of CDFW

 

It appears the book has been closed on a massive abalone poaching arrest by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Here’s the CDFW’s release (with a graphic breaking down all the punishments handed down to the poachers:

 

After almost a year of court procedures, the last of 18 abalone poachers arrested in a 2013 sting has been sentenced. All 18 suspects were found guilty or pled no contest to the charges.

On Aug. 29, 2013, California wildlife officers simultaneously served 13 search/arrest warrants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento on 18 suspected abalone poachers. The last of the 18, Dung Tri Bui of San Leandro, was recently found guilty in Mendocino County Superior Court after a week long jury trial. Bui was convicted of three misdemeanor counts, including take of abalone for commercial use, conspiracy to take abalone for commercial purposes and take of abalone greater than the daily limit. He was sentenced to 36 months summary probation, $15,000 fine and a lifetime ban on fishing (including the take of abalone). Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Daniel Madow presented the case.

In total, $139,883 in fines and 11 fishing license revocations were handed out to the 18 subjects. All of the subjects received summary probation ranging from one to three years. All seized dive gear was ordered forfeited by the court. Mendocino DDAs Heidi Larson and Tim Stoen and support staff also spent a tremendous amount of time on these cases along with numerous staff from the Sacramento District Attorney’s office.

“We had excellent support from the respective District Attorney’s offices for taking these crimes seriously and prosecuting the poachers to the full extent of the law,” said Asst. Chief Brian Naslund of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division. “The gear forfeiture, fines and lifetime fishing license revocations for California’s worst poaching offenders will hopefully put them out of the poaching business permanently.”

Poachers Charges Revoked Fine Probation
         
SF Bay Area        
Khoa Dang Nguyen 5521.5 Life fish/hunt $15,000 36 months
Chinh Quan Le 5521.5 Life fish/hunt $15,000 36 months
Hung Vo 5521.5 Lifetime fishing $15,000 24 months
Toi Van Nguyen 5521.5 Life fish/hunt $15,000 24 months
Dung Tri Bui 5521.5, PC 182, 29.15[c] Lifetime fishing $15,000 36 months
Hai Van Ha 5521.5, PC 182, Lifetime abalone $1,353.50 24 months
Duoc Van Nguyen 5521.5, PC 182 Lifetime abalone $1,353.50 24 months
Andy Phan 2000/29.15 [c] Lifetime abalone $1,537 24 months
Charlie Le PC 182 No $1,420 24 months
Nhan Trung Le PC 182, 2000/29.15[c] No $1,888 24 months
Suong Hung Tran 29.15[c] No $1,771 24 months
Chuyen Van Bui 1052[f] No $1,303 24 months
Diep van Nguyen 2000/29.15[c] No $1,537 12 months
Khoa Ngoc Nguyen 29.16[b] No $1,420 12 months
         
Sacramento        
Dung Van Nguyen 5521.5, PC 115 (a) (F) Lifetime fishing $15,000 32 mo State prison
Tho Thanh Phan 5521.5 Lifetime fishing $15,000 24 months
Hiep Ho 5521.5 Lifetime fishing $20,000 26 months
Hung Van Le 2000, 29.16(a) No $1,303 24 months

PC 115 Forgery of government documents
PC 182 Conspiracy to commit a crime
F&G Code 5521.5 Unlawful to take abalone for commercial purposes
F&G Code 2000 Unlawful possession of California’s fish and wildlife
F&G Code 1052 Unlawful use of another’s hunting/fishing license
Title 14 – 29.15 abalone overlimit
Title 14 – 29.16 abalone report card violations

The original press release announcing the bust can be found at
http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/cdfw-officers-arrest-13-poaching-suspects-in-oakland-and-sacramento/.

The case was investigated by the CDFW Special Operations Unit, a specialized team of wildlife officers tasked with investigating illegal black market sales of California’s fish and wildlife resources.

 

Dungeness Crab Opener Saturday

(PHOTO BY CDFW)

(PHOTO BY CDFW)

 

I remember a couple years ago spending a weekend with some friends at their Bodega Bay getaway. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid, and one of the highlights was walking around the grounds of the school where Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, The Birds, was filmed. But the visit was also right around the Dungeness crab opener, so needless to say we took advantage of some of the freshest shellfish you could find and had a Friday feast.

Saturday marks the 2014-15 crab opener, and here’s the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s release on what you need to know:

California’s Dungeness crab sport fishery opens statewide this Saturday, Nov. 1. Every year at this time, recreational crab fishers eagerly set out in pursuit of these tasty crustaceans. Some set hoop nets and crab traps from boats and piers while others fish crab loop traps on the end of a fishing rod. Still others will dive in to take the crabs by hand. Regardless of the method, Dungeness crabs are one of California’s most popular shellfish.

“Dungeness crab catches tend to be cyclic with several years of high crab numbers followed by a few years of lower catches,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz. “Recent seasons have been characterized by high Dungeness crab production so we may begin to see more average catches in the near future.”

The most popular methods for catching the crustaceans are with crab pots (or traps), loop traps and hoop nets. There is no limit to the number of pots or nets that can be fished recreationally, except when fishing from a public fishing pier where only two fishing appliances may be used. Recreational crabbers may keep up to 10 Dungeness crabs per day of either sex, or six crabs if fishing from a party boat south of Mendocino County. No one may possess more than one daily bag limit, and no Dungeness crab may be taken from San Francisco or San Pablo bays, which are important crab nursery areas.

CDFW reminds sport crabbers that traps and nets for Dungeness crab may not be set before 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1. Those fishing with hoop nets should remember that regulations require raising the nets to the surface to inspect the contents at least every two hours. Any undersized crabs or other species that are accidentally caught can be more quickly released. This regulation ensures that fishermen closely monitor their gear and do not allow any equipment to be abandoned in state waters. Trap fishermen should also closely monitor their traps because lost trap gear can become a self-baiting crab killer.

The recreational size limit for Dungeness crab is five and three-quarter inches measured across the shell, directly in front of and excluding the lateral spines. Crab taken from party boats south of Mendocino County must measure at least six inches across. For a measurement diagram, please see the CDFW website athttps://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=36325&inline=true.

Unlike rock crab species that are fished along rocky reefs, Dungeness crab are usually found on sandy or sand-mud bottoms. Dungeness crabs generally prefer cooler northern and central California waters and are uncommon south of Point Conception. They are typically found at depths of less than 300 feet, although they have been documented down to 750 feet.

For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, please visit the CDFW Marine Region website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/crabs.asp.

Feather River Cools, Bite Heats Up

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I got an excited cell call this morning from Sacramento and Feather River king salmon guide Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service in the Yuba City/Marysville area (530-301-7455). The last time we talked – around mid-September – Saldana talked of the higher water temperature than he preferred for the Feather River, not to mention his concerns about how low the water level has been in the rain-deprived Central Valley.

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Here’s what Saldana had to say in the story that ran in October’s California Sportsman:

“Honestly, the Feather is turning into a creek. The last time I navigated it was at 1,500 cfs. I was seeing stuff (structure) I’ve never seen. Now (as of mid-September), it was 1,300. On a normal year it’s easily 3,500 cfs.” …

“The water’s been getting low and it’s getting lower. I’ve never seen them so low.” 

Another issue was the Feather’s (and Sacramento’s) water temperature, which was still in the low 60’s, just a little warm for epic king salmon fishing.

“They just haven’t wanted to bite due to the water temp. But then you’ll have a 3- to 4-degree fluctuation throughout the day from morning to evening. And that’s really kind of been the case. Some days we’re able to stick them. One day we had two people and got them 3-for-4 salmon. But we had to work six or seven hours.”

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Fast forward to about a month later, when, despite a very low water level, the Feather is now churning out a lot of kings. Saldana told me he’s been filling his cooler with limits for his anglers aboard the boat. “It’s been on,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to hit it hard for the next four weeks or so.”

A lot of fish are being back-bouncing roe topped with Pro-Cure sardine jel.

Saldana urges anglers to be cautious as the Feather continues to be well below normal, leaving many obstructions for boats on the river. But the fishing is locally epic for the last full month of king fishing. Give Saldana a call at (530) 301-7455 to set up a trip.

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Hunting With Brittany B.

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Editor’s note: The following story is available in the October edition of California Sportsman. The subject of this interview, Brittany Boddington, is also debuting as a columnist in the November issue.

By Chris Cocoles
There was little evidence pointing to
young Brittany Boddington being
the apple that didn’t fall very far
from the tree. In fact, she seemed orchards
away from her father, Craig Boddington,
a well-respected hunter, author and outdoor
journalist.
As the Boddington family settled in
Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Brittany
had very little interest in following
in Craig’s footsteps. A competitive synchronized
swimmer good enough to
make the U.S. Junior National Team, her sport
of choice didn’t exactly have much in
common with shooting.
“I was swimming around 35 hours a
week, so I didn’t have a lot of time to worry
about guns and hunting,” she says. “There
certainly wasn’t any hunting going on at
that point.”
But times change, and the Boddingtons
have now become a family of big-game
hunters (Brittany’s younger sister,
Caroline, has also since joined in).
Brittany, now 28, still lives in L.A. and is
an aspiring journalist – after taking some
time off from school to travel the world
and hunt throughout it, she’ll earn a journalism
and mass communications degree
next year. She also has appeared on several
television shows (some with her dad,
and they’ll collaborate on a show later this
year), hunting in such far-flung locales as
New Zealand, Peru, Turkey and Macedonia.
“I’ve always had a passion for travel.
When I was 10, my dad would go to Africa
for the summer and (the rest of the family)
would go to Mexico,” says Boddington,
who spends as much time on the African
continent as her time and finances allow.
She’s hoping to find a niche not just as
a hunting TV show host but also as a writer
(Craig has written numerous hunting
books and is published around the world).
We chatted with Brittany about life in L.A.
as a big-game hunter, and how hunting
went from nonexistent to a lifelong passion.

Chris Cocoles It’s a surprise to me that
you were kind of late to the party when
it comes to hunting, especially given
your dad’s background as a renowned
sportsman. So how it did happen?
Brittany Boddington I was pretty much
against hunting through most of my
childhood into high school. And I think a
lot of that stems from just growing up in
Los Angeles. I had to explain to my friends
why my dad was killing Bambi [laughs].
So it took me a while to come around. I
didn’t even want to shoot a gun and really
didn’t until after high school.
My (high school) graduation present
was a trip to Africa with no intention
of hunting. He just wanted to show
me where he’d been. And I was really
excited to see it. But before the trip, I
decided to do some research and more
and more sites were popping up with
safaris as an option. So finally, just out
of curiosity, I started clicking on them.
In my research, I found out more and
more why people did hunt in Africa.
I had no idea what he was doing. So
once I learned that were regulations
and conservation aspects, especially in
Africa, where there was very little else
to do besides hunting to control these
populations, I came around to the idea
pretty quick, and startled my dad by
asking to teach me how to shoot. And
he just said, “Why?” [laughs]. I said,
“We’re going to Africa. Don’t you think
I should learn how to shoot?” He again
said, “Why?” I told him I wanted to hunt.

CC So was that, at the time, a major shock
to him, because you had not shown a lot of
interest in the past?
BB It was, because he didn’t believe me. So
he told me if I could go on a pig hunt in
California, then he would arrange for permits
to hunt in Africa. He thought I’d go to
Africa and chicken out. So he set up the pig
hunt in California. And he figured, if I kill
one of those, then maybe I would actually
do something in Africa when we got there.
So I shot a boar in Northern California. I remember
when the gun went off, he looked
at me instead of the pig and asked, “Are
you OK?” [laughs]. I never lost eye contact
with the pig and said, “Let’s go, let’s go.”

Brittany 2

CC Was that first shot and taking down that
pig difficult at all?
BB No. For some reason there was never a
second thought; it was instinctual, I think. I
was super excited. They thought I’d missed
him; it was a huge group of pigs coming
over the edge of this ridge. And the guide
told me to shoot the one with the big black
spot, and I shot the one with the big black
spot. And I saw him roll down the ravine,
but they were watching the pig with the
black spot in the front, but I shot the one in
the back. I said, “He’s down; I can see him!”
It was really exciting.

CC Your dad must have had a lot of
thoughts racing through his head at that
point.
BB I think it was very exciting for him. The
idea to have someone pass it onto, I think
it had been lacking for him. I think he was
really excited. My sister wasn’t that excited
about it either, although she grew up
shooting a lot more than I did. She had one
of those cricket guns when she was like 6
and would go to the range. She loved it,
but as she got older, things got more interesting,
like hanging with her friends. She
just stopped going to the range, and when
she did go she would usually play with her
phone. But then at 16, she also wanted
to go on a pig hunt, and she did. So I just
think there were late bloomers in our family.
But it’s also hard because we grew up
in California, and it’s not the nicest place to
explain to your friends, as a kid, what your
dad does. I told them my dad was a sportswriter,
and I think they all thought he
wrote about basketball. I never explained
it. When I was a child we didn’t have a lot in
common; he was never into synchronized
swimming and I was never into hunting.
So there wasn’t a lot to talk about. But after
that first safari, our relationship had grown
dramatically. We had a common ground.

CC Did he try to get you involved, or did he
back off and let you do your own thing?
BB I have a vague memory of when I was
6 or 7 and he let me shoot a gun when we
were on a trip. It was way too big of a gun
for me. I got knocked down and cried, and
that was the end of it for me. He would try
to talk to me about hunting, but I didn’t
want to hear it. I was uninterested.

CC Tell me about that first Africa trip.
BB I’ve always had a passion for travel. Africa
was always huge on my hit list. I’d been
hearing about it my whole life, and our
house was decorated (with an African motif).
But I had a very different idea on what
it would be, I guess. That’s not to say it was
better or worse. But it was absolutely completely
different, in a wonderful way. And
that first trip will always be the pinnacle
of the travels in my career. It was a huge
eye-opener and a life-changer for me.

CC What did you hunt on that first trip?
BB The first animal I shot was a springbok,
and then another springbok. And a zebra,
kudu and gemsbok.

CC As a former competitive athlete, did
that fuel your hunting competitiveness?
BB Definitely. That first trip, my best friend
from childhood was also with me. And we
had a major competition going. But I think
the spirit of competition is something that
carries over into a lot of different aspects of
my life. I wouldn’t say that I’m competitive
with any one person. It’s more in me to be
the best that I can and see the most that I
can in the world.

CC I’ve just started to travel abroad in maybe
the last five years, but you had a chance
to see the world at a young age. What was
that like on a personal and cultural level?
BB My dad and I worked out a deal: as long
as I stayed in school he’d help me out financially.
But when I left school, that was kind
of lost, and rightfully so. So my travel was
pretty much this: I’d be home and would
work four jobs until I was ready to leave,
then spend everything I had, come back
broke and work again until I could afford
to go back out. It was an interesting lifestyle,
but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
And I think it’s also very character-building
to do it yourself. I really enjoyed that period
of my life. If anything, I would have done it
a little bit longer [laughs].

Brittany 3

CC What was it like to be able to embrace
the culture of where you visited?
BB It was awesome, especially since I did a
lot of traveling alone. I think a lot of people
travel in groups, and it almost becomes a
crutch to buy into whatever culture you’re
in. Traveling alone is very interesting because
you don’t have a lot of choice but to
fully immerse. I totally did a lot more things
than I would have; I would have a lot times
hesitated if I had anyone to hesitate with
me, if it was eating a certain food or doing
something fun. You push yourself and it’s a
very good growing experience.

CC You have seen some fascinating places.
BB I’ve been hunting in Europe, the South
Pacific and Africa, mostly. I’ve been a little
bit in South America as well. I made it to
Turkey near the border of Iran, and it’s been
amazing. I’ve been able to hunt in places
like Macedonia; never in my life had I
thought about hunting in Macedonia. It’s a
tiny country of two million people. It’s very
interesting. We found shells in the ground
from old wars. You could see where the
bunkers were still kind of degrading from
where there were wars fought. But when
I was there they seemed like very happy
people. And the hunting was awesome.
We were in Turkey for two weeks hunting
the Anatolian stag, and we had some extra
time and ended up getting my scuba
license and dove to sunken ships. Hunting
has been a fabulous way to see the world.

CC What was your first TV experience like?
BB During those years when I would travel
with my dad once a year to go on a hunt, he
would film the trips to Africa. So every now
and then, I’d be on camera in a very, very
minor role. I hunted my buffalo on that
show. I wasn’t as comfortable on camera
as much as I am now. I didn’t take the lead
and talk to the camera. It was very much
my dad saying, “I’m here with Brittany; this
is what we’re going to do and let’s go.” And I
would just go. It was a nice learning experience
and I was able to see how he does it in
real time. After that show over a few years,
I joined the American Huntress show, which
was awesome. Linda Donaho was the previous
host for that, and we shared some
responsibilities for two seasons. And that
was the first time I was on my own, sent out
with the cameraman to get enough footage
to make a TV show. You learn pretty
quickly.

CC When you’re on a TV show do you have
to learn on the fly?
BB Absolutely, especially when it’s hunting
because you never know what you’re
going to find. There’s no set shot and the
animals don’t follow the script. So you have
to wing it, and even now there are times
when everything is just off the cuff. And I
think (when things don’t follow the script)
that’s important to show the general public.
I feel sorry for shows that suggest everything
is perfect. The truth is there are few
hunting experiences without screw-ups. If
you hunt long enough, something’s going
to go wrong.

CC What’s your ideal career path right now?
BB I’ve always wanted to do my show. And
this year my dad and I are restarting The
Boddington Experience. He had that show
before, but it was him alone. So we’re bringing
it back with the two of us as joint hosts,
which is very exciting. And that will be
starting next year. And long-term I realize
people aren’t going to want to watch me
hunting on TV for my whole life [laughs].
So with my degree in journalism, I want to
write books. But really, the goal is to keep
hunting throughout my lifetime. It’s something
that I can do permanently.

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CC Unfortunately, this lately seems to be
an issue with women who hunt, but how
much of a backlash have you received
about what you enjoy doing?
BB It’s a dramatic shift. Growing up in a
hunting family, there were people out there
who didn’t like us, and I knew that from a
young age. I remember once I was riding
home from the airport with a Japanese
exchange student, and when we arrived
home there was a bomb squad on our
lawn going through everything we owned.
Someone had called in a bomb threat to
my dad’s office when he was a (magazine)
editor. I was probably 5 or 6, so you grow up
knowing people are after you. I think in the
last few years, the aggression has switched
directions and is now aimed at the female
of the hunting world; it’s much more than
at men. People don’t go on my dad’s page
and say, “Your eyes look stupid.” But they
do on mine. And these are personal attacks
that have nothing to do with hunting. I told
several people, “If you have something intelligent
to talk about, let’s talk. I’m more
than willing to talk to you.” But just calling
me names and saying that you don’t like my
hair – well, OK. [Laughs.] And maybe there
is a guy out there getting lots of flak. But for
the most part they don’t. I think they see us
females as weaker targets. The idea of girls
and guns is iffy to lots of people. I think
seeing us do hunts that are traditionally
male-dominated angers them even more.
They obviously don’t know us. I would like
to get that message across. But you have to
have thick skin in this industry or you’re not
going to survive. When the whole Kendall
Jones news broke (about a college cheerleader
who hunts being blasted on social
media) I was getting 100 death threats a
day on my Facebook page. That’s ridiculous.

CC So what other messages do you try and
send out to your audience about hunting?
BB I hope that women watching are empowered
and feel, “if this little redheaded
kid can do it, then we can do it too.” But I
also want women to see that hunting is
not a men-only sport. It may have been in
the past, but we can do anything they can
do. I really enjoy that part. In the last couple
years I have been taking more difficult
hunts to push my limits. I want the world to
see that women are serious in the hunting
industry. We’re not just doing fluffy hunts.
We want to do everything.

World Series… Of Elk Hunting

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy confers with pitcher Tim Lincecum at spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. Bochy an fellow World Series skipper Ned Yost are both avid elk hunters. (CHRIS COCOLES)

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy confers with pitcher Tim Lincecum at spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. Bochy an fellow World Series skipper Ned Yost are both avid elk hunters. (CHRIS COCOLES)

 

For you sports fans out thee, the World Series is tied at a game apiece, both the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals taking a victory with them to Friday’s Game 3 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The teams’ managers both have Bay Area ties – Giants skipper Bruce Bochy for obvious reasons. But Kansas City’s Ned Yost grew up in the East Bay, in Dublin, and shared a hilarious story of meeting then A’s pitcher Vida Blue in Oakland that included a dollar bill, an autograph and a hot dog.

But Bochy and Yost also share something else in common: a love of elk hunting.

From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

The managerial matchup, though, is a straight-up draw:  elk hunter versus elk hunter.

 “I know both of these guys and one thing they share is a passion for elk and the outdoors,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “There’s only one place where Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost would rather be right now other than out in the backcountry chasing elk and that’s in the dugout trying to out-manage each other and win the World Series.”

 The similarities don’t stop there. Both Yost and Bochy are former big league catchers with strikingly similar career averages. Bochy batted .239 with 26 home runs and 93 runs batted in over nine years while Yost batted .212 with 16 home runs and batted in 64 runs over a six-year playing career. They both played for three different teams. They are both in the midst of managerial stints with their second ball clubs and are also both 59 years old.

 Bochy managed the Giants to championships in 2010 and 2012. Immediately prior to the 2014 Spring Training schedule, he shared the same microphone with Allen in a suburban Phoenix baseball stadium at a roast as part of an RMEF gathering.

 “My passion is hunting. A former teammate of mine, Goose Gossage, had a ranch in Colorado. We used it as therapy for after the season,” said Bochy. “In my office in San Francisco, I’m the only manager with an elk head hanging in his office.”

 Yost, who has a World Series ring as Atlanta’s bullpen coach in 1995, is also well-known around baseball circles as an avid hunter. He also briefly enjoyed a second career as a taxidermist between his playing and coaching careers.

 “Ned was a long-time friend and hunting partner of my friend (late NASCAR legend) Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. for many years,” said Allen. “They spent a great deal of time in the woods together.”

 

The manager who ends up winning this thing – this Athletics’ fan is still picking the Giants to win the next three and taking the series in five – should treat the loser to an offseason hunt somwhere.

Bass Fishing On Castaic Lake

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Marc and Amy Mitrany of the Ojai Angler bass fishing guide service will be spending the next couple months fishing live bait at Castaic Lake near Santa Clarita.

Here’s their release:

We are harvesting LIVE threadfin shad and glass minnows at Castaic Lake. Guide Marc will ONLY be at Castaic Lake for two months! 

Castaic Lake fish boiling on the surface, TOP WATER  bite with both bass & striper.

Bass boats available at both Lake Casitas in Ojai and Castaic Lake in Santa Clarita.

The pontoon boat stayes at beautiful Lake Casitas for families and groups.

Castaic Lake bass (THE OJAI ANGLER)

Castaic Lake bass (THE OJAI ANGLER)

 

Excellent fishing, excellent weather, limited time and space; make your reservation now – 805-701-2835 CALL OR TEXT

Open dates :

Friday Oct. 24th 7-11 or 7-3pm

Sat. Oct.25th 7-11am

Monday Oct. 27th or Wed. 29th

COME SMILE WITH US!

 

 

Feather River Salmon Update

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Our friend, Manuel Saldana of MSJ Guide Service shared this report from the Feather River:

 

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Today’s trip was a grandfather/ grandson combo, both of Gridley Calif. We hit the Feather River water bright and early, and it wasn’t long before the grandson Micheal Morales rod went to tug tug, and he yells out, ‘I have a fish on!’ We also hooked several other fish but lost them during the fight of getting them to the boat. At the end of the day Charles Watson says his favorite part of the day was watching his grandson reel in his king  salmon. Great memories made on the river today.

Contact Manuel at 530-301-7455 for a great day of king salmon fishing on the Feather or Sacramento River.

 

 

NOAA’s Report On California’s Salmon And Steelhead Habitat

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If you have some time, here’s an interesting (and long) read the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration released the history of salmon and steelhead habitat loss in the Central Valley.

Here are some highlights:

Present Day Salmonid Habitat

 Presently, salmonids are restricted to the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River valley bottoms and a few of the lesser tributaries. The beautiful, productive upper reaches of the rivers have been removed from the fishes’ current range.  All of the black lines on the map at right, representing historical habitat, are inaccessible.   By every account, this is 80% of the fish habitat (Lindley et al., 2006) and 95% of the spawning habitat (Yoshiyama et al., 2001).

Additionally, dams have significant effects downstream as well.  Not only do they block access to habitat, they also alter water flow and temperature downstream.  And many limit the amount of proper spawning gravels that are available below the dam.

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“Did salmon ever enter Yosemite Valley?” 

 Yoshiyama et al. (CDFG Fish Bulletin 179)found that “..It appears, therefore, that salmon at one time and in unknown numbers may have approached the vicinity of Yosemite Valley, even if they did not enter the valley proper.  However, for the present, the area around El Portal or just downstream of it may be the best estimate of the historical upstream limit of salmon in the mainstem Merced River…”

 By 1920, though, after the dam was built the state Fish and Game Commission received a letter from a resident of the country near the Merced River stating that there were fifty salmon in the past for each one now….. the blame for this decrease was attributed to the construction of dams. Residents along the river in 1928 say that the salmon are so scarce that they rarely see any. They remember the fish being so numerous that it looked as if one could walk across the stream on their backs (G. H. Clark, 1929.  Fish Bulletin No. 17).
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 On the San Joaquin River, a once mighty waterway that’s fallen on hard times:

The San Joaquin River historically supported great numbers of salmonids, “Fifty or sixty years ago (1870’s), the salmon in the San Joaquin were very numerous and came in great hordes.”  (Clark 1929)  Most spawning by spring-run Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River occurred upstream of the current location of Friant Dam. Historical spawning runs may have exceeded 200,000 fish annually, ascending the river as far as Mammoth Pool (about 3,000 feet in elevation), which lies about 50 miles above Friant Dam.  (San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement)

 However, by the late 1940’s all salmon runs in the San Joaquin River above the confluence of the Merced River were gone.  

 Since Friant Dam became fully operational in the 1940s, much of the river’s water has been diverted for off-stream agricultural uses. As a result, approximately 60 miles of the river bed is dry in most years.  The photo at right is the San Joaquin River(Friendsoftheriver.org). 

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Here are some tidbits on the Feather River, which has struggled to maintain its water level and is featured in this month’s issue of California Sportsman:

In 1929 Clark described that Spring-run Chinook salmon historically ascended to the very highest elevation headwaters of the Feather River watershed prior to the construction of numerous hydroelectric power projects and diversions.  They migrated up all four major branches of the Feather River. 

 Per Clark, “The runs of salmon, both spring and fall, used to be very heavy in the Feather River previous to the building of obstructions. It is true that the mining operations in the early years may have reduced the amount of fish somewhat, but the building of dams has almost destroyed the spring run. The fall run is large, although not extremely abundant,..”

 The Feather River Hatchery, located at the town of Oroville, was built by the California Department of Water Resources to mitigate for the loss of upstream spawning habitat of salmon and steelhead due to the building of Oroville Dam.

If you’re a history nerd like I am, check it out.

 

Man Suffers Fatal Heart Attack – Bear Eats Body

(Cristen Langner/CDFW)

(Cristen Langner/CDFW)

 

Just a terribly sad story out of Northern California. A 65-year-old man suffered a fatal heart attack in Humboldt County, and most of his body was consumed by a black bear. 

From the Associated Press’ Scott Smith:

Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Roy Horton said he believes 65-year-old Marion Williams died outside his trailer in a remote area before the bear came upon him.

Authorities discovered the remains on Monday after friends reported Williams missing for five days.

Officials tried to trap and kill the bear but called off their attempt because it is doubtful the bear is still in the area near the man’s home in Redway, about 75 miles south of Humboldt, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said.

Water Coolers To Save Drought-Stricken Salmon?

 

The hatchery just below Shasta Dam will need water coolers to help protect water-starved salmon. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES)

The hatchery just below Shasta Dam will need water coolers to help protect water-starved salmon. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES)

The California drought conditions and sizzling temperatures  have raised several concerns about the survival of hatchery salmon in the devastated Central Valley all the way north to Redding.

But extreme measures seem to be in the works as a desperate attempt to help fish survive sinking water levels. Artificial coolers are going to be utilized. 

From the Associated Press:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers installed the coolers at the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery at the foot of northern California’s Shasta Dam this summer when water temperatures hit the mid-60s — too tepid for the half-million winter-run baby salmon growing there, said Scott Hamelberg, a federal hatchery manager. …

The big water coolers are a first for the federal hatchery, necessitated by warmer-than-normal water in California’s third year of drought.

At the American River hatchery east of Sacramento, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also are installing giant coolers to bring down water temperatures for the hatchery’s young salmon and trout, hatchery manager Gary Novak said.

Certain endangered species of trout at that fishery “don’t really tolerate the heat too well,” Novak said.

Smaller coolers in tanks are cooling various other fish rescued by wildlife officials after California’s drought dried up their home stretch of rivers and streams entirely.

The fish refrigerators are the latest unusual measure taken by fish and wildlife managers to protect fish and California’s $1.4 billion commercial and recreational fishing industry while most of the state remains in the most severe category of drought. In June, state wildlife officials used tanker trucks to evacuate 2 million fish from hatcheries deemed dangerously warm.