Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

$61.3 Million Grant For NWR Includes Land In California

California’s proposed Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area is among several spots nationally the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved of $61.3 million worth of support toward these areas deemed in need to “protect, restore and enhance.”

The Tulare Basin is located in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. It straddles the Tulare and Kern County lines west of Highway 99, east of Interstate 5 with Delano and Wasco the closest communities. Here’s what the United States Fish and Wildlife Service wrote about the area’s impact if turned into a NWR when it was listed as a possible protected area:


With the protection of this habitat, the
Service would also be contributing to
protection and recovery of migratory
waterfowl populations, shorebirds,
landbirds and neotropical migratory
birds of North America’s Pacific Flyway,
and federally listed threatened and
endangered species. ..

All 22,000 acres
could be protected via conservation
easements if landowners choose to
participate. It is the Service’s policy to
acquire easements, lands, or interests in
lands from willing sellers.

Here’s the complete Fish and Wildlife Service press release (with the Tulare Basin blurb in bold):

WASHINGTON — The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission today approved $61.3 million in funding to protect, restore and enhance more than 205,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“Conservation of our nation’s wetlands is critical to protecting our wildlife, watersheds, coastal communities and important economic activities,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, chair of the commission. “Wetlands not only are home to hundreds of species of migratory birds, but they also provide us with clean water, act as buffers against storms, support our vibrant coastal fishing industries, and provide unique opportunities for outdoor recreation.”

The commission approved $54.7 million in grants through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to protect, restore and enhance 200,069 acres of habitat for migratory birds in the United States, Mexico and Canada, leveraging an additional $92.6 million in matching funds.

The commission also approved nearly $6.6 million for fee and easement land acquisitions of 5,072 acres on five national wildlife refuges. The funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.”

“These grants are critical to maintaining the health and vitality of America’s wetlands and the abundance and variety of wildlife they support,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Wetlands are particularly crucial to migratory birds all along their flyways. These grants will enable our partners in Canada, Mexico and the United States to protect and improve the quality of these habitats.”

The five commission-approved refuge projects are:

•       Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Chambers County, Texas. Boundary addition and price approval for a high-priority 1,227-acre tract for $1,718,200.

•       San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria County, Texas. Boundary addition and price approval for 30 acres for $138,500.

•       Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty County, Texas. Boundary addition and price approval for 234 acres for $162,399.

•       Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area, Kern and Tulare counties, California. Acquisition of 305 acres in easement for $782,000.

•       Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, Union and Morehouse parishes, Louisiana. Boundary addition of 18,711 acres and acquisition of 3,276 acres for $3,830,013.  Additionally, the commission gave the green light for the potential future boundary expansion that would add 15,435 acres to that Refuge’s acquisition boundary.

Examples of projects funded through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act include:

•       In North Dakota, the Chase Lake Area Wetland project will restore and enhance 43,785 acres to improve habitat for migratory waterfowl. Through this project, partners will protect wetland-associated uplands to provide essential nesting habitat for waterfowl and other species, and minimize the influx of sediments and pesticides into these wetland basins.

•       In Hawaii, the Upper Laupahoehoe Nui Watershed Reserve project will enhance 2,000 acres of wetlands for endangered seabird populations by removing invasive plants to promote the growth and establishment of native plant communities.

•       In the Canadian Prairie/Parkland and Western Boreal Forest, which support 72 percent of North America’s breeding ducks, Ducks Unlimited Canada will protect 9,918 acres through land purchases and enhance an additional 3,438 acres by building wetlands infrastructure and converting vegetative cover.

•       In Tamaulipas, Mexico, the Enhancement of Wetland Habitat for Migratory Waterfowl on the Coastal Plain project will establish a hydraulic system to restore 1,609 acres of freshwater wetlands and work with landowners to protect these restored acres through conservation agreements.

The commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its  members include U.S. Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mark Pryor of Arkansas; U.S. Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Wittman of Virginia; and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents go directly to acquire vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The commission oversees the use of Federal Duck Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of wetland habitats for national wildlife refuges. To date, close to 6 million acres of wetlands have been purchased using more than $800 million in Duck Stamp revenue.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is the only federal grants program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. Since 1990, approximately 5,000 partners in more than 2,000 projects have received more than $1.2 billion in grants. The grants have leveraged another $2.6 billion in matching funds to help improve more than 27 million acres of habitat.

More information about the grant projects announced today is available at:

Ocean Salmon Opener On April 5

Marine sports salmon fishing



Apologies for not blogging this out sooner. But we’ll have an update on early Chinook fishing off the California coast for our May issue. But here’s the release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announce the recreational salmon season will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 5, 2014, from Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Federal fishery biologists estimate roughly 934,000 fall-run Chinook salmon will be in California coastal waters through the summer. Though lower than last year’s estimate, there are still plenty of fish to allow for significant angling opportunities for salmon enthusiasts in all areas off California.

The daily bag limit will remain at two Chinook salmon but the Commission recently took action to change the salmon possession limit. Two daily bag limits are now allowed in possession when on land; however, when on a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude). For areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling. The retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries. For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect during April, please visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Final 2014 ocean salmon regulations will be decided next month by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) during their April 4-10 meeting in Vancouver, Wash. and by the Commission at their April 16-17 meeting in Ventura. Final sport regulations will be published in the CDFW 2014 Supplemental Fishing Regulations booklet available in May at

Three alternatives are being considered for California’s recreational ocean salmon seasons that will begin on or after May 1. The public is encouraged to comment on any of the proposed alternatives, which can be found at the PFMC website at

Bear Released Near Lebec (Kern County)

From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has successfully returned a yearling black bear back to the Los Padres National Forest near Lebec.

The male cub was found in distress near the town of Lebec in August 2013. A wildlife officer safely captured the cub and it was transported by CDFW staff to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility for rehabilitation.

Lebec bear release
“People frequently encounter young wild animals such as bears and assume they need assistance or have been orphaned,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Marc Kenyon. “In most cases, they should be left alone. Any intervention with young wildlife should be left to CDFW staff or permitted wildlife rehabilitators. This is the best way to ensure that wildlife stays in the wild.”


To be eligible for rehabilitation, a cub must still be dependent upon its mother and not habituated to humans. CDFW works with rehabilitation centers like the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center. The non-profit center relies completely on donations for their services. At the facility, cubs learn how forage for natural bear food such as berries, acorns, fish, grubs and insects. Human contact is kept to a minimum or is non-existent. By the time the yearling bears leave, each has quadrupled its size or more, to 50-80 pounds, depending upon body type.

“More than ever, it’s important for residents living in bear country to be diligent about keeping potential food sources away from them and living responsibly in bear country,”
said CDFW Environmental Scientist Victoria Monroe. “With responsible residents, this yearling cub will have a greater chance of survival as a healthy, wild black bear.”

Upon release, each cub is given a final health checkup that includes taking hair and blood samples.

In most circumstances, CDFW recommends that people leave wildlife alone, including removing attractants from their properties. If this is not an option, contact CDFW for guidance. For more information and how to live responsibly in bear habitat, please visit




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.