Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Bass Tactic Inspired By America’s Heartland

Author Mark Fong (below) swears by a set-up inspired by Missouri bass angler Ned Kehde. The lightweight lead head jig rig should be a staple in all tackle boxes. (MARK FONG)

The following appears in the October issue of California Sportsman: 

By Mark Fong 

One of the hottest set-ups in the bass fishing world today is the Midwest finesse rig. 

Known also as the “Ned rig” for its creator, Missourian Ned Kehde, the set-up is, in its simplest form, a small, lightweight, mushroom-shaped leadhead jig weighing anywhere from 1/16 to ¼ ounce and matched with a diminutive soft plastic offering. 

While there are many different plastic bait styles that work well, perhaps the most popular is a cigar-shaped stickbait. Anglers typically choose between a small 3-incher or a standard-sized stickbait that has been trimmed down to a length between 2½ and 4 inches.



Jighead worms have been around for a long time and have caught untold numbers of bass, but I do have to say there is something special about the Midwest finesse rig that just plain catches fish. It has a subtle yet appealing profile that excels when conditions make for difficult fishing. Based on its skyrocketing popularity, it is clear that I am not the only one to think this way. In fact, the rig has become a staple for tournament anglers everywhere.

The rig is very easy to fish: simply swim it, drag it, shake it or deadstick it. The choice is yours. Best of all, the rig generates lots of bites, making it the ideal choice for beginning anglers or kids.

In response to its success and popularity, many tackle companies now offer specific jigheads and plastics geared for the Midwest finesse rig. I have had good success with a homemade leadhead jig matched with a shortened Yamamoto Senko. 

There are many productive colors, but I like shades of green or brown. I will stick with green pumpkin, baby bass or watermelon when in doubt.

There is more to this technique than just the bait; a medium-action spinning combo will help to maximize your success and enjoyment. I use a Cousins Tackle Raze RSK 752S 7-foot, 6-inch spinning rod; and pair it with a 2500-series spinning reel filled with 15-pound FINS 40G Braid connected to a leader of 6-pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon Line. Braid casts well, is super sensitive and strong, and the fluorocarbon leader is abrasion-resistant and super stealthy.

If you love to catch bass and have not yet fished the Midwest finesse rig, you owe it to yourself to tie one on. 

A Memorable Day On The Water For Vets

The following press release is courtesy of NOAA:

Larry Brown described himself as an “old retired guy,” but sounded more like a military recruiter as he addressed nearly 30 veterans on the stern of the sportfishing vessel Betty O, moored at Dock 52 in Marina Del Rey, California, in August.

“So what I’m going to try and do is enlist you to be a soldier again, protecting our environment,” Brown told the captivated audience. “You’ve already been soldiers, and when you think about the environment, it needs protecting just like our country does.”

Volunteer Larry Brown, right, celebrates a successful catch with veterans aboard the Betty O. Photo: Jim Milbury, NOAA

Larry sponsors a veterans fishing program also supported by the Los Angeles Rod and Reel ClubMarina Del Rey Anglers, and the California Coastal Conservancy. The program gives veterans struggling with personal challenges a day of recreation on the ocean and an opportunity to learn about marine stewardship. To enhance the program, NOAA Fisheries is designing a sea stewardship handbook that describes pressing issues facing our ocean—such as marine debris, polluted runoff, and ocean acidification—and explains how individuals can make a difference.

Fishing success on the Betty O. Photo: Jim Millbury, NOAA

The California State Coastal Conservancy partially funds the program to help fulfill its mission of increasing public access to coastal resources and educating the public about them.

“The Coastal Conservancy provides funding for the veterans’ program through the Explore the Coast Program,” said Evyan Sloane, a project manager for the Coastal Conservancy. “The program really focuses on public access by providing grants to non-profits, schools, and local government to get their communities out to the coast and educate the community about their coastal resources.”

Larry’s pitch on the environment met with endorsements of “Hooah!” when ethical angling and protecting marine mammals from marine pollution came up. Whether on the water for the first time or seasoned boaters, the veterans were excited and ready to learn more.

Sponsors offer the trips in partnership with the Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital and the CalVet Veterans Home program. According to Brown, doctors and recreational therapists say the fishing program is one of most popular recreational opportunities for veterans in Southern California.

Zach Schakner, NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Recreational Fisheries Coordinator, also noted that the program meets an objective in NOAA Fisheries’ Recreational Fishing Implementation Plan. The plan calls for promoting fishing opportunities for children, veterans, disabled anglers, and others who otherwise may never experience the fun of getting on the water and catching a fish.

“This program and those like it not only provide participants direct and enriching opportunities with nature, but they also greatly increase awareness of important marine stewardship and ethical fishing practices,” Schakner said.

A perfect catch on the Betty O. Photo: Jim Millbury, NOAA

Several veterans, including Eugene Rivera, have enjoyed repeat fishing excursions. Rivera has his nickname, “Buddha,” tattooed on his arm just below “U.S. Army.”

“I was in the U.S. Army from 1979 until 1987,” Rivera said aboard the Betty O. “I look forward to going out because it is the most exciting day of my life.”

Phil Bell, also known as “Fisherman Phil,” coordinates the trips for Marina Del Rey Anglers. He darts around the boat – fixing tangled lines and snags, attaching bait, and talking to the veterans.

“The veterans love it and you can see they’re having a great time,” Bell said. “One guy just got back from Iraq about a year ago, came off the boat, came up to me and said, ‘Phil, this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me since I’ve gotten home from Iraq.’ That was really great to hear.”

After a full day of fishing, the Betty O returned to its slip in Marina del Rey, its passengers tired but full of stories and appreciation for the ocean.

“What we find is just being with them, spending the day with them, and treating them to a day on the water is the best way to say thanks,” said Brown. “It doesn’t have to come out of our mouth, they just know it, feel it, and appreciate it.”

For more information on recreational fishing in NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, visit

Bay Area Hatchery Fish OK So Far Amid Devastating Fires

CDFW photo.

As a Bay Area native, I keep thinking about how many fellow NorCal residents have been devastated by the fires raging through Sonoma and Napa Counties. And while the tragedy of multiple fatalties and hundreds of destroyed homes should be the primary focus right now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found some good news – at least for now – regarding its hatchery fish in the area.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s longtime outdoors writer Tom Stienstra has more:

The vast majority of 710,000 salmon and trout — including the state fish, the golden trout — and 100,000 eggs at two state hatcheries survived this week’s wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Silverado Fisheries Base, located in Napa along the Silverado Trail, lost power for 24 to 48 hours, leaving some 200,000 fish without fresh water, aeration or food after staff was evacuated Monday. But an official said Thursday that only “minimal losses” were incurred.

“One fishery worker went back in late Wednesday, escorted by game wardens,” said Peter Tira, a department spokesman. “Much to our surprise, the fish were doing well, the eggs doing well.” 

 Meanwhile, Warm Springs Hatchery, downstream of Lake Sonoma near Geyserville, remained fully functional as of Thursday, even as nearby areas were evacuated. Tira said there are 160,000 endangered coho salmon and 350,000 steelhead at the facility being grown for release into the Russian River.
“It’s a very important hatchery,” Tira said. “The folks are there right now, and it’s up and running.”


At Silverado, power was restored by Thursday, and Tira said workers were eager to return to their posts and take care of the fish they are raising, though they are under evacuation standby alerts.

The Silverado hatchery is home to about 200,000 golden trout. The goldens are very small at this point in the season, about 2 inches, Tira said, a critical stage of their lives as they are grown out over the winter to be stocked in high-elevation lakes.


Zombies And Fun At Mad River Alliance Fundraiser

Northern Californians looking for something to do tonight can attend a Mad River Alliance fundraiser. Here are a few more details:

A Fundraiser for Mad River Alliance
Join us tonight for a zombified night of fun and music with Medicine Baul! Come dressed as your favorite zombie endangered species! But don’t worry, if you can’t come up with a costume before tonight, we will have a zombie make-up station ready for you to use!


TONIGHT! Friday, October 13th from 5-10pm, but the bar stays open til 2!

Hearing Will Discuss Proposed SoCal Wildlife Crossing

Cal Trans photo shows area of Highway 101 near Agoura Hills where a wildlife crossing would be built above the highway.

Living in Southern California meant I usually found myself grumbling about being stuck in my truck far longer than I ever wanted to experience. No matter where I was going, what time it was or the season, I was going to be stuck in traffic. So imagine how the region’s widlife must have felt with so many obstacles on four wheels were standing in the way of crossings.

Around the border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, a section of Highway 101 in Agoura Hills – a stretch of road I knew well while I lived in nearby Thousand Oaks – a proposed “wildlife crossing” is in the works that would cover the entire length of the freeway and allow area animals to cross from the Simi Hills on one side of to the Santa Monica Mountains on the other.

Here’s what Cal Trans says about the project:

Caltrans proposes to build a wildlife crossing across U.S. Route 101 (US-101) just west of Liberty Canyon Road in the City of Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County. The purpose is to help maintain wildlife populations that travel between the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, and ultimately to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. This linkage has been identified in numerous county, city and regional plans and publications as a critically important connection for wildlife. Such wildlife crossings have been built and used successfully in other states and countries. The Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing would be the first of its kind in California.

The Ventura County Star reports that a public meeting will be held tonight to discuss the impact of the crossing.

The crossing at Liberty Canyon Road would help mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats safely cross the eight-lane highway.

An estimated $50 million bridge would be designed to look like natural habitat and be the first of its kind in the state, according to Caltrans.

The agency will hold the public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Highway in Calabasas. …

Here are some of the details of the proposal:

  • Building a 165-foot wide and 200-foot long bridge over Highway 101. In addition, a crossing could be built over nearby Agoura Road, according to an alternative.
  • Officials say the project is needed because Highway 101 creates a barrier for wildlife trying to cross between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • While the crossing would be built for all wildlife, it’s the mountain lions that have garnered much concern and attention. A long-term National Park Service study found the lions’ inability to get out of or into the Santa Monica Mountains has led to inbreeding, low genetic diversity and lions killing other lions.
  • The spot has been called an ideal location for a crossing because of large patches of protected public land on either side of the highway.
  • If the project is approved and the funding is secured, Caltrans says construction likely would be scheduled from May 2019 to November 2021. 

However ambitious the plan seems to be, I’d be all for the critters that also call SoCal home can get their own carpool lane, because nobody on two legs and four wheels seems to care that they are taking up all the space!



Outdoors Agencies Affected By Terrible NorCal Fires




Just back from vacation and was out of the country – New Zealand – and so many terrible things happened here at home when I was gone – from the senseless Las Vegas shooting massacare and the death of my favorite musician, Tom Petty. And on the day I was flying back home I began seeing headlines about terrible fires burning in Sonoma and Napa Counties in the Bay Area and beyond (a friend of the friend I traveled with lost his house in the Santa Rosa).

Here are some updates on how the area’s outdoor agencies are coping with the devastation:

Napa and Santa Rosa California Department of Fish and Wildlife offices closed.

Napa-area Silverado Fisheries hatchery shuts down as evacuations become necessary:

Further north, the Buck Fire has forced restrictions in the popular Shasta-Trinity National Forest:

Incident: Buck Fire (CA) Wildfire
Released: 15 min. ago

ORDER NO. 14-17-07



Pursuant to 16 USC 551 and 36 CFR 261.50(a) and (b), and to provide for public safety, the

following acts are prohibited within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This Order is effective

from October 11, 2017 until the Buck Fire is declared out.

1. Going into or being upon National Forest System lands within the Buck Fire Closure Area. The Buck Fire Closure Area boundary begins at the junction of Forest Road No. 28Nl0 and the Trinity and Tehama County line, then continues west along the northern edge of Forest Road No. 28N10 to its intersection with Forest Road No. 28N23, then continues west along the northern edge of Forest Road No. 28N23 to its intersection with Forest Road No. 29N30, then continues southwest along the western edge of Forest Road No. 29N30 to its intersection with Forest Road No. 28N40, then continues southeast along the western edge of Forest Road No. 28N40 to Hermit Rock, then continues northeast along the ridge from Hermit Rock to Black Rock Mountain, then continues east along the southern edge of Forest Trail No. 10W61 to its intersection with Forest Trail

No. 10W60, then continues east along the southern edge of Forest Trail No. 10W60 to its intersection with the Trinity and Tehama County line, then continues north along the eastern edge of the Trinity and Tehama County line back to the starting point, as shownon the attached map (Exhibit A). 36 CFR 261.52(e).

2. Being on any National Forest System road within the Buck Fire Closure Area, as shown on the attached map (Exhibit A). 36 CFR 261.54(e).

3. Being on any National Forest System trail within the Buck Fire Closure Area, as shown on the attached map [see maps tab on InciWeb] (Exhibit A). 36 CFR 261.55(a).

Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50( e ), the following persons are exempt from this order:

1. Persons with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.

2. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.

These prohibitions are in addition to the general prohibitions in 36 CFR Part 261, Subpart A.

A violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. 16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559, 3571, and 3581.

Executed at Redding, California this 10th day of October 2017.


Forest Supervisor

This Order supersedes Fore st Order No. 14-17-06, dated 15 September 2017.

This map shows how many fires are burning in Northern California currently:

Here’s a video update on just how devastating these fires have been in wiping out entire subdivisions:


Watch how this man set this Enormous Wolf Free

The timber wolf, also known as the eastern wolf, Algonquin wolf, and deer wolf, stalks the forests of the Great Lakes region. While long considered a subspecies of the gray wolf, more recent genetic studies indicate the timber wolf may be a species in its own right.

Wolves have often been feared and loathed by people. While some agrarian and hunter-gatherer societies held them in high regard, keepers of cattle, goats, and sheep felt very differently. In folklore, this apex predator is often pictured lurking in the forest waiting for its next victim, sometimes devious enough to dress up as someone’s grandmother! In fact, attacks on humans are very uncommon and usually involve a wolf with rabies. Wolves are closely related to dogs but are nearly impossible to domesticate.

The timber wolf mainly preys on mid-sized game like white tail deer and beavers. Larger prey like moose and elk are the preserve of the larger gray wolf. The arrival of European settlers in North America introduced livestock to the timber wolf’s diet. This and the traditional fear of wolves led to the eradication of the timber wolf over wide areas. Bounties were even offered to encourage this. As things stand now, human activity and hybridization with coyotes have resulted in the timber wolf becoming an endangered species. The good news is that in some places, measures have been taken that have resulted in wolf populations rebounding.

While out in the woods of Wisconsin, John Oens saw a great big timber wolf with its paw caught in a trap. Fortunately for this beautiful animal, he knew just what to do. In the video we’ve posted above, you’ll see his simple but ingenious wolf release technique.

Sources: Petenrock Youtube, John Oens

Quail Outlook Solid For California

Quail photo by CDFW.

Our lead writer Tim Hovey wrote a quail hunting preview that will appear in the October issue. And here’s a press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with some good news:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists are expecting a very good quail hunting season when the general seasons open, thanks to rebounding populations that benefitted from California’s wet fall and winter in 2016.

California’s prolonged drought reduced quail populations statewide. Biologists found overall declines of 33 percent for mountain quail, 29 percent for California quail and 17 percent for Gambel’s quail from 2005 to 2015 using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Quail populations fluctuate naturally with weather and other prevailing environmental conditions such as wildfires. Fortunately, 2016 brought a shift in weather conditions for California. The rain received was critical to the production of food and cover for quail populations. Perhaps most importantly, rains produce more insects, which are a vital food source for young quail.

Detailed information on California’s various quail hunting zones, including season dates, descriptions and a map, is available at CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage:

As a result of the same wet weather conditions, CDFW regional biologists are expecting a strong chukar hunting season as well, particularly in desert habitat that often experiences boom-and-bust population swings based on the amount of rainfall.

CDFW is offering several special quail and chukar hunting opportunities this fall and winter at ecological reserves and wildlife areas in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage at

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting opportunities on private land, is offering several quail hunts in Santa Barbara County this fall and winter. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can also apply for these hunts through the ALDS system. Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s SHARE Program webpage:

California is phasing in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting. Nonlead ammunition is required for hunting quail when on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves in California. Learn more about California’s nonlead ammunition requirements for hunting at

Bears Are Active Now, So Be Cautious

Photo courtesy of CDFW

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the U.S. Forest Service remind citizens visiting or living in the high country and foothills that fall is the time of year for increased bear foraging activity and more human and bear encounters are possible.

California black bears are typically active and foraging between April and mid-fall, but in autumn, black bears experience changes in metabolism that drives the need to consume as many rich calories as possible. This metabolic spike is an important signal to the bear to bulk up and gain the fat that will sustain the animal through hibernation and periods of lean food sources. Scientists estimate that black bears may forage as many as 20 hours a day at this time.FS-OfficialColor5inch Resized

During this transition, residents in bear country are asked to diligently manage food, garbage and other attractants around the home and yard in order to avoid attracting bears. Residents leaving cabins for the season should remove all attractants from the cabins, and seal and lock all doors and windows. Crawl spaces under houses or porches should be sealed in order to prevent them from becoming denning sites.

Here are things to know:

  • Bears have a sense of smell seven times stronger than a bloodhound and eyesight as good as a human’s
  • Any scent, especially one of odorous foods like fish or other meats, may attract a bear to your home and yard
  • Remove bird feeders completely until later in the year
  • Remove fallen fruit off the ground promptly
  • Use bear-resistant garbage cans and wait to set trash out until the day of pick up
  • Store pet food inside
  • Do not leave food or other scented items in your car
  • Bears fed intentionally or unintentionally by people may become bold and aggressive—they may be killed if they become a threat to public safety or cause property damage

In the rare event a bear breaks into your home, move to a safe location and contact local authorities. Wildlife experts caution against directly confronting the bear or blocking the bear’s escape route.

Visitors to bear country should act responsibly and be mindful of their safety while in bear habitat. Camping season is ending in many areas, but with the cooler temperatures, fall hiking is very popular in the mountains and foothills and visitors often flock to salmon spawning sites in hopes of getting a glimpse of a bear. Wildlife experts offer these important tips:

  • Be alert on trails (avoid wearing headphones)
  • Keep a respectful and safe distance from bears at all times
  • Do not attempt to take “selfies” with bears or other wildlife
  • Never feed a bear – it is unlawful and dangerous to people and may result in the needless death of a bear.

For an expanded list of living and recreating in bear country, please

For information about being, bear aware while visiting national forests, please visit .

To learn more about black bear ecology, please

Deer Killed By Bowhunter On Residential Street

The above video coems from Los Angeles CBS TV affiliate KCAL.  A young buck was fatally shot by a bowhunter in a residential neighborhood in Monrovia, though the hunter who came forward said he was legally hunting in the nearby forested area and was humanely trying to finish off the already hit deer.

Here’s more from the report:

Rodriguez said he shot the deer earlier that day in deer hunting Zone D-11 above Monrovia but failed to kill the animal.

“I didn’t want it to suffer any more than it had to because of my bad shot,” he said. “It moved at the exact time I fired my arrow so I didn’t hit in the kill zone. I hit it high in the back of the spine area.”

Rodriguez said the wounded deer ran off and he was able to track it to the neighborhood in Monrovia Hills.

“I wasn’t up there to shoot an animal in a residential area,” Rodriguez insisted. “I was following up a wounded animal and trying to take him out so he wasn’t suffering any more.”

Some residents aren’t believing it.

“I think he’s got a little fib going here covering his tracks,” resident Robyn Tapert said. “So don’t come back and do that in our neighborhood because we actually care for the wildlife up here.”

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are investigating the incident.