Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Releasing a 14-foot shark


Screen Grab Photo courtesy of Viktor Hluben

Regular readers to our magazine and blog may recall our February issue of California Sportsman, when Southern California “sharker” Jeff Fangman told his extraordinary tale of an incidental hook  and release of a great white shark.

Some insane brave anglers in an undisclosed location off the Florida coast also had the rush of unintentionally landing a giant predator: in this case what was estimated as a 14-foot hammerhead shark, which isn’t described as a maneater, though sharks of this size should probably never be taken lightly.

Watch the video of this encounter and ask yourself if you’d be as brazen as these guys hooting and hollering while this giant, unpredictable and sharp teeth-filled beast was, I have to think, getting more and more impatient while these seemingly tasty strangers were posing for photos, shooting video and then without much hesitation sliding it into deep enough water for a quick release.

Bravo for their quick work to get the fascinating fish back in the water relatively quickly. But given how close the lucky angler, Viktor Hluben, and friends were within chomping distance of that shark’s mouth. Somewhere around Oceanside, Jeff Fangman is sending a thumb’s up your way, folks!



Lake Isabella Fishing Derby: Pride Of The Valley

By Chris Cocoles

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I consider myself to be an adopted stepson of the San Joaquin Valley. I’m a Fresno State Bulldog (BA in journalism, Class of 1994) who, spanning college and my first job after graduation, spent almost eight years living in Fresno. Now that I’ve lived around both San Francisco and Los Angeles, I realize how much different life in the Valley was compared to the NorCal and SoCal experiences I’ve had. When I first got to Fresno, I was told the city was a Midwest town trapped in California. And maybe years ago the Valley went all Wizard of Oz on everyone and was Dorthy-ed in a twister, leaving behind  acres of farmland and Main Streets in Wisconsin, Indiana or Iowa; the whole region was lifted west into the land of fish tacos, Kardashians and Mark Zuckerberg.

I’m getting off track here. But I think about Valley pride all the time, and that was reminded to me when I chatted with George Stahl of the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce about next month’s Lake Isabella Fish Derby. This is a huge event for the area, located about an hour east of Bakersfield. And I could tell in Stahl’s voice how much it means to the folks there that so many anglers in California will flock from near and far to try their luck with $100,000 worth of tagged fish and additional prizes, including a most valuable rainbow worth  a cool $25,000.

There were whispers the drought conditions affecting Isabella, as it has so many lakes in the state, but after weighing both sides of the issue, the chamber of commerce decided the lake was in better shape than many other lakes of similar size. And the event just means too much to the town of Lake Isabella and surrounding businesses to cancel the derby. I agree. You can’t control the lack of rain. It’s not like proceeding forward is akin to leaving a faucet running.

“We’re not talking about irrigating land or anything like that,” Stahl said. ”

The footprint from Sacramento to Bakersfield takes a lot of abuse from the Bay Area and Los Angeles folks, whether it’s the unemployment rate, the air quality (although downtown L.A. doesn’t have much of an argument there) or the blistering hot summers or fog-shrouded winters (hello, San Francisco!).  Being a passionate fan of Fresno State’s sports teams, if I had a nickel for every opposing fan of our biggest rivals like San Diego State, San Jose State, Nevada and Hawaii who referred to us at Fresneck State…

So when Stahl told me this week for a preview story of the derby running in April’s California Sportsman, I couldn’t help but nod my head and think about the Central Valley as a whole:

“People are just used to seeing something one way. And when they don’t see it that way anymore, they have a tendency to think something devastating is happening,” Stahl said. “I’m not trying to put down the drought. But at the same time, we use what we have available to us.”

Kudos to the Kern Valley River Chamber of Commerce for going ahead with its big event.

Note: The derby takes place April 12, 13 and 14. Online registration is currently available at the derby’s website: Further information is available by calling 760-379-5236.







Sacramento River Fly Fishing Heating Up

Kirk Portocarrero of Sac River Guide Charters provided this update:

Spring officially begins in March, and we have no shortage of great fishing opportunities.  Right now is a great time to take advantage of the awesome fly fishing on the Sac River.

Sacramento River Fly Fishing 


Fly fishing on the Sac River is fantastic. Most days are mild, with afternoons warming up nicely to around 75 and a great bug hatch happening now.
March, April, and May are prime fly fishing months, producing some of the largest trout during this time. We are fishing every day, hope you will join us.


Sac River Fly Fishing

Lower Sacramento River Fly Fishing- Redding. CA

Gun Shop Owner Takes On ATF

Our Western Shooting and Northwest Sportsman correspondent, Dave Workman, tackles an issue involving a San Diego-area gun shop obtaining a temporary restraining order against Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Here’s some of Workman’s column:

The shop, Ares Armor, is seeking a preliminary injunction against the agency and has also filed a complaint for deprivation of civil rights, naming ATF Director B. Todd Jones as a defendant.

District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino issued the order allowing ATF to oppose the Ares motion by today, and is then allowing Ares to respond by next Monday at 9 a.m. The judge also set a 1:30 p.m. preliminary injunction hearing next Thursday.

At issue, according to Fox 5 News, are allegations that Ares has sold thousands of “80 percent” lower receivers with which people may build their own AR-type rifles. As noted by the news agency, “It is legal to build a rifle from scratch without serial numbers only if the base is manufactured to ATF specifications.” The ATF wants the names of those clients and Ares does not want to give them those names. 






A California Rockfish’s Remarkable Journey

By Andy Walgamott, on March 6th, 2014

Call it the OR7 of groundfish.

Though the species isn’t exactly known to be finloose like highly migratory Chinook and albacore (or footloose as a certain GPS-collared wolf), a black rockfish tagged off Monterey last summer was hooked this past weekend up near Newport, Ore. – a 600-mile swim.



An angler aboard Yaquina Bay Charter‘s boat the Gracie K hauled in the fish, which bore a tag from the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program.

After it was reported, the charter office posted that it received this message from CCFRP:

“Your fish was tagged and released in the Point Lobos reference site, was at liberty for 194 days, and moved approximately 606 miles (net distance traveled). This makes your Black Rockfish the new record for distance travelled by a CCFRP tagged fish!”

An official at the program told Northwest Sportsman that they’ve been tagging black rockfish since the mid-2000s to study their movement.

She said only four have shown longer movement, but nothing like this.

The species is hugely important to coastal sport fisheries and to better understand them both Northwestern states have been studying them.

Oregon biologists have also been tagging black rocks with tiny PIT tags since 2002. Fishing with volunteers out of Newport they’ve inserted around 30,000 of the devices. According to a webpage on the project, one out of every 100 fish brought back to the docks on Yaquina Bay by sport fishermen has a tag, about 2,500 or so black rockfish.

Up the coast 18 miles or so in Depoe Bay, Ore., however, only four of those fish have been recovered.

One angler who has participated in ODFW’s effort reports that many are caught within a cast or three of where they were tagged.

A WDFW study found that 75 percent of rockfish it tagged moved 6 miles or less, but 2 percent moved 60 miles or more. Maps show how far some went  from tagging locations off the Washington and north Oregon Coasts, with one swimming from roughly Neah Bay south to Newport, and one from the Cape Falcon, Ore., area turning up off Eureka.

Black rockfish were the stock that showed the most benefit from California’s marine protected area program, according to a 2013 article in the San Jose Mercury News, but the migratory nature of a few kinda makes you scratch your head about what that mysterious ol’ ocean is capable of.

CDFW Leadership To Speak At Fred Hall Show

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be conducting a special panel discussion on various fish and wildlife topics at the Fred Hall Show, which continues today through Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Here’s the DFG release:

Five members of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) top leadership will participate in a panel at this weekend’s Fred Hall Show at the Long Beach Convention Center.

They will be part of a panel discussion taking place Saturday, March 8 at noon at the Mammoth Lakes Seminar Stage. Director Charlton H. Bonham, Deputy Director of Wildlife and Fisheries Dan Yparraguirre, Chief of Law Enforcement Michael Carion, Chief of Fisheries Stafford Lehr and Marine Region Manager Craig Shuman will answer questions from the public on a variety of fish and wildlife related topics. Pete Gray, host of Let’s Talk Hook Up, Southern California’s premiere fishing radio show, will moderate the panel.

CDFW will also have several booths at the show. CDFW staff will answer questions and all licenses, tags and report cards will be available for purchase. The new 2014 CDFW Warden Stamp will also be available ($5) to help fund the purchase of equipment for CDFW enforcement.

Show attendees can learn about becoming a wildlife officer at the law enforcement trailer on the patio of the Long Beach Convention Center. The trailer is full of beautiful fish and wildlife mounts and contains a free laser shot game. There’s also a fishing pond on the patio stocked with rainbow trout for kids to fish from the CDFW Fillmore Hatchery. An antique CFDW truck will also be on display.

Admission is $15 for adults and children under 16 and active military personnel are admitted free.

Don’t forget anyone with a ticket who attends the Fred Hall Show this weekend can sign up at the California Sportsman booth (space No. 317) and get a free one-year subscription to the magazine.


Fred Hall Show Subscription Special: One Year With Paid Admission

California Sportsman booth at the Long Beach Fred Hall Show. (BRIAN LULL)

California Sportsman booth at the Long Beach Fred Hall Show. (BRIAN LULL)

By Chris Cocoles

March Madness means more than just college basketball. In Southern California, the popular Fred Hall Shows – “The Ultimate Outdoor Experience” – debut on Wednesday with the Long Beach Convention Center show that runs through Sunday. California Sportsman is one of the key sponsors for the show this week, and anyone buying an admission ticket can also head to our booth at space No. 317 and sign up for a complimentary one-year subscription to California Sportsman.  Our magazine is your local fishing and hunting resource for California, and recent cover stories have included actors Joe Mantegna and Michael Rooker, and NASCAR star Kevin Harvick. Look for Major-League Baseball stars who hunt and fish to appear in upcoming issues. So if you’re headed to the Fred Hall Show, make sure to hit up our booth and get 12 free months of fishing and hunting tips, feature stories, gear reviews, outdoors news and personality profiles.





From Geese To Stripers


Here’s a report from versatile Northern California guide Scott Feist of Feisty Fish Guide Service:

The late-season goose hunt in the Valley was a blast! We shot geese all five days and did our part in managing the goose population one bird at a time… I am now gearing up to start striper fishing the Delta in mid-March! I still have some quality dates left for both river and Delta striper trips. Come spend a day catching some hard hitting, great eating fish. I spend a lot of time out in the field but I will get back to you as soon as I’m able. Call to book your trip now! Office: (530) 923-2634; cell: (530) 822-6314; email: 


Hollywood’s Tough Guy, Michael Rooker

Photo Courtesy of Michael Rooker

Photo Courtesy of Michael Rooker

By Chris Cocoles

Even if you don’t know recognize the name, Michael Rooker, I guarantee you if you’re a movie fan, you’ve seen him on the big and small screen. From Days of Thunder to The Walking DeadRooker personifies the go-to guy for rough around the edges character actors. Rooker is our cover story for our just released March issue of California Sportsman that’s now available. Here’s a sneak preview of Western Shooting editor Rachel Alexander’s Q&A with the likable and approachable Rooker:

C.S. What kind of guns do you shoot on The Walking Dead?

M.R. I carry a 1911 and M16 on the show. I have two knives. I shoot whatever is available.

 C.S. What are your favorite guns?

 M.R. Benelli is one of my favorites; I have a shotgun and love it. I have a 1911. I like those. I have a government Model 1911; they’re not usually that accurate. My gun is a single stack and a .45. If I were in a competition, then I’d have to shoot a 9mm. That sport is all about speed. I really want to shoot my old classic guns. But everyone warns me, “don’t shoot them, you’ll lose 50 percent of the value the first time you pull the trigger back.” They’re the most gorgeous guns, my single-action Colt .45.

 C.S. I hear you take cast mates out shooting to help train them for the role. What’s that like?

M.R. Whenever somebody needs help, I’m always game to take him or her out. I have a small number of places that I like to shoot. I usually take people to outdoor shooting ranges like Angeles Shooting Range in Los Angeles County, which is only two minutes from my house. 

 C.S. You are always flipping people off, but I understand it’s part of the F Word campaign to stop bullying. How did you get involved with that?

 M.R. They wanted to change a negative to a positive. They wanted to get a lot of celebrities, actors and high-profile folks in the entertainment business to join in and help these kids that get bullied a lot to understand that they can change that around. They don’t have to be the victim anymore. They can use the image of the finger – the bird – as a metaphor, as something positive to change attitudes towards that gesture.






Steelheading On The Trinity Peaking Now

Kirk Portocarrero of with this report on the Trinity River’s outstanding steelhead fishing: Fishing Update
Trinity River Steelhead – 9 pounds, 28 inches
Trinity River Fishing
  Hello Everyone,
Just wanted to give you an update on Northern California fishing for the month
of March.
For those of you that are wanting to steelhead fish, the Trinty River steelhead
run is now taking off now! We are getting rain we need, and it is helping this
winter steelhead run, look at these huge steelhead !
        (February 26, 2014- 12 pounds, 31 inches Trinity River Steelhead)
We will be fishing for the Trinity River for Steelhead until March 21st.
We are fly fishing and spin fishing for these steelhead, we can accommodate
any angler.
 REMEMBER:   We are also fly fishing the Sacramento River for
Rainbow trout daily. WE FISH EVERY DAY. 
                     Call us or email us today,  to reserve a day.
            1- 800-670 -4448           or
Thank you. Sincerely,
 Pro Guide & Outfitter Kirk Portocarrero