Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Remember Your Veterans Today

For those of you who have the day off from work or aren’t in class, take some time to reflect on those who have served our country. Here’s our tribute to Veteran’s Day with this story running in the current edition of California Sportsman:

Randy Houston (with his dog, Pennie) started Purple Heart Anglers as a tribute to his older brother, Purple Heart recipient Jerry Houston. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

Randy Houston (with his dog, Pennie) started Purple Heart Anglers as a tribute to his older brother, Purple Heart recipient Jerry Houston, who passed away in 2011 (below). (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

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By Chris Cocoles
The ultimate goal is not about rehabilitation
but recreation.
But Randy Houston is being
too humble. His vision for creating opportunities
to take disabled veterans fishing
and hunting has accomplished more
than he will take credit for.
Houston started Purple Heart Anglers
( as a nonprofit
organization intending for the simplest
of gestures to thank those wounded in
battle. Four years later, as he arranges
fishing and hunting trips all over California
(a group was funded to take a fishing
trip to Alaska last summer), it’s become a
healing place for American heroes to experience
the joy of the outdoors.
Busloads of veterans from conflicts as
recent as Afghanistan and as far back as
World War II, and from organizations like
the Veterans Home of California in Napa
County’s Yountville, head to New Melones
Reservoir and Camanche Lake to
fish, or Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve
in Ione to shoot pheasants.
“They show up and we go fish and
then eat. We eat a lot of food,” Houston
says with a laugh. “That’s become kind of
our mantra: we hunt, fish and eat, don’t
talk politics and we don’t do therapy. And
that’s just the simplicity of it.”

Randy Houston is proud of the flag (top left) given to him my troops deployed in Afghanistan.  (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

Randy Houston is proud of the U.S. flag (top left) given to him by troops deployed in Afghanistan. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

RANDY HOUSTON GREW up on the San Mateo
County coast in El Granada, south of
San Francisco, where he dreamed of being
a baseball player, not of combat. His
older brother by almost 12 years, Jerry,
wanted to be a solider and left home for
the Army when Randy was just 7.
“I never really got to know him that
well,” Randy Houston says. “When I got
older, the attitude I had about him leaving
home when I was kid had changed.
There was a time when my big brother
wasn’t around. He was a soldier and I
didn’t know what that was about when
I was a kid.”
Jerry Houston went to Vietnam and
was wounded twice starting in 1966,
once from a sniper’s gunshot and, after
going back, when a booby trap exploded.
After losing some fingers and his
body filled with shrapnel, he was awarded
two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star
for Valor.
In 2009, then 72-year-old Jerry was
named the national Patriot of the Year by
the Military Order of the Purple Heart and
inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of
Fame after he’d moved there. His younger
brother attended the latter ceremony.
“I was looking at a man who was different
from the one I knew,” Randy Houston
says. “Over the years he had started
using a cane and he was becoming a little
weak. When I saw him walk into the
(building) for the ceremony there was a
taller, straighter and stronger man than
I had seen before. And I realized that he
was amongst his peers. And that’s what
he was – he was military.”
It was an eye-opening experience for
Randy, who never considered a military
career, instead following in the footsteps
of the boys’ carpenter-father, Elmer. Randy,
60 and around retirement at the
time, thought about it and called his
brother. He wanted to help Jerry’s peers,
but he had no idea where to start and no
contacts. Jerry had some answers.
The Houston’s were an outdoors-oriented
family; Randy got his first hunting
license at 9, hunting in pheasant
fields around El Granada and Half Moon
Bay, and harvested his first buck at 12.
The most logical move to do his part
for Jerry’s comrades hurt in action involved
what he knew so well: fishing
and hunting.
Purple Heart Anglers was founded
under the umbrella of the Military Order
of the Purple Heart, but a couple years
later the organization became its own
501 (c) (3) nonprofit outfit. Houston says
about 1,000 disabled veterans have participated
on various outings over the last
five years.
So impactful has this and other organizations
around the country contributed
to a better quality of life for veterans,
in 2014, Randy Houston was inducted
into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame
in a ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s
Expo in Sacramento.
Trips have included the aforementioned
Ketchikan, Alaska, fishing adventure
(money was donated to secure
airfare for a small group, plus part of the
lodging costs and fishing trip), deep-sea
excursions off the California coast, salmon
fishing in the Sacramento River and
an upcoming trout trip to Lake Tulloch.
Houston says his organization always
seeks funding from outside sources and
is always willing to listen to corporations
willing to provide sponsorship opportunities
to help with costs.
“Without the donations, it’s tough,”
Houston says.
But he’s adamant about making
sure Purple Heart Anglers is about the
veterans, not he or anyone else behind
the scenes. The only banner that currently
flies during events is the group’s
purple-themed logo featuring an outline

of a jumping fish blended with a Purple
Heart medal.
Volunteers like fishing guides and
food vendors have offered their time
to host fishing trips and feed everyone
at the end of the day. For pheasant
hunting trips at Camanche Hills, Purple
Heart Anglers supply the birds themselves,
but the fee to hunt on the land
gets waived by the owner (Houston’s
beloved German shorthaired pointer,
Pennie, “is our No. 1 pheasant hunting
When this was just a fledgling idea,
Houston set up shop with a tent in
front of a Bass Pro Shops store in Manteca
and sold raffle tickets to help fund
fishing and hunting events. But many
disabled veterans shopping there also
found their way to the booth. Over
time, 500 would sign up to be a part of
the fun.
“(Bass Pro Shops) was good to me
to allow me to sit outside in my little
tent,” he says.
In those early years, Houston rarely went
on the boat or into the field with the veterans
and the volunteer fishing or hunting
guides located around Northern or Central
California who took them out. He wants to
be in the background, and even now he’ll
many times stay behind to help prepare
the usual meal lakeside or near the hunting
land when the groups return.
“My wife would ask me, ‘Why aren’t
you going?’ And I would say, ‘It’s not for
me. It’s for the guys.’ If I take a space on the
boat and I’m not taking a space of someone
else who can go, then maybe I’ll go.
It seems funny for me to be on the boat
when there’s a veteran somewhere who
could be there,” Houston says. “I’ll wave at
the dock when they leave and welcome
them back when they get home.”
And though it’s obvious this is cathartic
for those who went through such tragic
circumstances that left them wounded
in action, Purple Heart Anglers tries to
stay away from trying to reinvent the
wheel and play psychologists.
“I’m not there to fix anybody; I don’t
know how. The only thing we do is create
a space where the veterans and the
people they’ve served and protected can
get together,” Houston says. “We can say
thank you that way.”

Purple Heart Logo

A veteran shows off a Delta striper during one of many trips arranged for Wounded Warriors, some of whom date back to World War II. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

A veteran shows off a Delta striper during one of many trips arranged for Wounded Warriors, some of whom date back to World War II. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

AMONG THOSE BRAVE men and women
who Purple Heart Anglers have thanked:
a 92-year-old World War II bomber pilot,
a 96-year-old who also fought in WWII
and 20-somethings who recently served
in the Middle East and came home with
combat injuries. There are Navy and Army
vets, Air Force pilots and Marines, both
men and women.
“As long as they have a disability rate
of 1 percent, that’s all we ask,” Houston
says, though an October fishing trip on
the Sacramento River included 14 active-
duty Marines.
Chats during downtime and meals
don’t always bring up stories about how
the vets suffered their wounds. But occasionally,
the subject comes up. In Alaska, a small group of four veterans was sitting

at the dinner table literally swapping war
stories. At one point, Houston had the
sensation of square peg in a round hole.
“Wait a minute: I don’t belong in this
conversation. I don’t know; I never was
there and I don’t understand,” he says. “It’s
like if you never jumped off the bridge
you don’t know what it’s like to hit the
water. I’ve excused myself from conversations
because of that. They open up
because they feel comfortable in that environment
with each other.”
Houston and some of the men and
women have talked about their experiences
– the soldier in a Humvee talking to
a colleague, and minutes later that friend
is no longer there.
What overwhelms Houston is that
when the day of fishing for bass at New
Melones or hunting upland birds in a
Central Valley field is completed, the
wounded warriors go home to their lives
and families and try to carry on the best
they can.
“That’s why (post-traumatic stress disorder)
is such an important issue. Those
in Vietnam came back with it; those in
World War II came back with it. We had a
young guy who was blown up 12 times,
and they didn’t let him go back,” Houston
says. “And he was angry. His friends were
still there doing what he was supposed to
be doing.”
But an impact, small or not, is being
made. During many events, Houston will
sit in a corner and relax after a successful
outing. But periodically one of the veterans
will walk over to him.
“They say to me that I’ve changed
their lives. I’m thinking, ‘How serious can
that be?” he says with a laugh, knowing
his intentions are just to be a small relief
among a far more complicated picture
considering what they’ve been through.
“It becomes way overwhelming.”
One disabled vet who once tried to
commit suicide now volunteers to help
cook up lunch after his peers go fishing
or hunting. The program has affected
many lives for the better. Houston and
his volunteers are not miracle workers,
just people who like to be outside
and want to share the experiences with
those who are trying to put their lives
as well as their bodies back together.
And having a sense of humor can go a
long way to cope with some unimaginable
“We did a fishing trip out of Brannan
Island (Rio Vista on the Sacramento River)
with some disabled vets. One of the old
guys from Yountville hooks a fish and
starts to reel it in. And about two-thirds
of the way in he starts to run out of gas,”
Houston says.
“And he’s in his 80s. At that particular
moment any good fishing buddy will
start giving him a hard time, which I did.
I said, ‘You act like an old man out here.’
He finally gets it in and says, ‘Oh, that was
hard.’ And he says, ‘I can’t help it. I just had
a stroke three months ago.’ We’re laughing
and he’s laughing. I almost fell out of
the boat. We’re all laughing hysterically
and he’s having a great day of fishing.”

Twin brothers from the Marines enjoying a day on the water. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

Twin brothers from the Marines enjoying a day on the water. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

JERRY HOUSTON, WHO was also exposed
to Agent Orange during his tour of duty,
passed away at 75 on April 21, 2011. One
trait his little brother admired about Jerry
was the honor and pride he took and
protecting and serving, whether it was
his country or family.
“It’s funny, I’ve discovered my brother
had a lot of other brothers when you’re
talking about the military brotherhood,”
Houston says.
Jerry was a man of few words while
managing to say a lot with his actions. His
widow has told her brother-in-law many
times how proud Jerry was of his baby
brother for being so gracious to fellow
wounded warriors.
Randy has learned more about his
brother since he passed from getting to
know so many others who were like Jerry:
the ones who suffered on battlefields
thousands of miles from home.
“When he was still alive, the program
was becoming more active. I’d call him
and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing.’
And in his simplicity it was, ‘Yeah, proud
of ya, boy.’ He was not a rah-rah cheerleader.
It would bring me back down
where I belong. He had a way to put
things in perspective for me.”
Purple Heart Anglers takes the approach
not to magically heal and repair,
but to just do what they can to create a
few smiles.
“It’s not hard not to stay engaged in
this program. I had a man in a wheelchair
who was 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, was
paralyzed by a gunshot and in a chair for
eight years. The first thing he was telling
me was to thank me for what I’m doing,”
Houston says.
“He had it backwards. What it does
show me is those people appreciate
what we’re doing as an organization. It
means something to them that we care.
You know, I’m a rather egotistical guy
and always have been. But this has kind
of put me on my knees. I have been completely
humbled by the participants. I’ve
seen legs missing, limbs missing, blindness,
deafness. They’ve gone through
things I couldn’t even have imagined.
And they’re coming out and having a
good day. How can you not participate
in this?”

Editor’s note: To contact Purple Heart Anglers
to donate or for more information,
email Randy Houston at randy@purpleheartanglers.
org. Write them at Purple
Heart Anglers, PO Box 1621, El Granada
CA 94018. You can also find them on
Facebook (

Trips like this with residents of the Veteran's Home in Yountville are what Purple Heart Anglers is all about, giving back to those wounded in battle. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

Trips like this with residents of the Veteran’s Home in Yountville are what Purple Heart Anglers is all about, giving back to those wounded in battle. (PURPLE HEART ANGLERS)

Tagging California’s Sturgeon

Sturgeon are being tagged and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will now use report cards to tag catch rates. (CDFW)

Sturgeon are being tagged and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will now use report cards to tag catch rates. (CDFW)


Look for a story on California’s Delta sturgeon fishing in an upcoming issue of California Sportsman, but here’s a report from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about regulating the sturgeon population better through tagging and report cards:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) crews recently completed a successful season tagging white sturgeon in Bay Area waters. The tagging operation is part of a comprehensive population study aimed at managing California’s white sturgeon and its habitat.

Information developed from tagging this year will be complemented by information provided by anglers’ 2014 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards. Anglers use the cards to record data on species, location and date of catch. The card was implemented in 2007 as part of a suite of significant changes to sturgeon fishing regulations.

“Research, management and enforcement staff work together to protect the sturgeon population and the fishery,” CDFW Environmental Program Manager Marty Gingras said. “From Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards, we know how many sturgeon were caught, where and when they were caught and what size they were. We have tremendous insight into the population’s status and ecology because we look at data from anglers and the tagging study, as well as data we develop about juvenile white sturgeon and sturgeon habitat.”

Tagging this year included a first-time collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This age and growth study was conducted by two research vessels on fishing grounds in San Pablo Bay and Suisun Bay between Aug. 6 and Oct. 22. The crews caught 468 white sturgeon, 250 of which were above the minimum study size and were subsequently tagged. Most of the captured white sturgeon were about 3 feet long, which means they were born in the year 2006. The largest white sturgeon captured was just under seven feet long.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin system is the southernmost spawning grounds for white sturgeon, which is why the population and fishery typically experience major boom and bust cycles. The white sturgeon fishery was closed for decades due to overfishing, then managed with very liberal regulations for nearly 50 years. It has been further restricted since 2006 to address concerns about white sturgeon and green sturgeon populations.

White sturgeon can live more than 100 years and weigh over 500 pounds, but — even 20-plus years after the establishment of regulation to limit the maximum size of fish that may be kept — less than 10 percent of the fish seen by anglers in California are ‘oversized’ fish (greater than 60 inches fork length) and must be released. Green sturgeon are so uncommon that fishing for and harvesting them is illegal under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Anglers can submit Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards by mail or online by logging into the CDFW license system and submitting catch data here:

To submit Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards by mail, please send them to:

CDFW – Sturgeon Fishing Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

To receive a reward for catching a tagged fish, please submit disk-tags along with mailing address, catch date, approximate location of catch (e.g., San Pablo Bay), length of fish and fate of fish (released or kept) to:

CDFW – Sturgeon Disk Tag
2109 Arch-Airport Road, Suite 100
Stockton, CA 95206

Southern California Bass Updates

Ojai bass 2


Marc and Amy Mitrany of the Ojai Angler with a report on bass fishing opportunities in the Southland:

Guide Marc will ONLY be at Castaic Lake for ONE MORE month! Then we’ll take the boat back to Lake Casitas for the

30 day clean and dry quarantine inspection! 

Castaic Lake fish boiling on the surface, TOP WATER  bite with both bass and stripers.

Bass Boats available at both Lake’s Lake Casitas in Ojai and Castaic Lake in Santa Clarita.

Excellent fishing, excellent weather, limited time and space make your reservation

805-701-2835 CALL OR TEXT

Open dates :

TOMORROW Friday Nov. 7th

Saturday Nov. 8th 7-11am (half day only)

Sunday Nov. 9th

Tues. Nov. 11th (Veterans Day)

Nov. 13th or 14th



Ojai bass 1


End Is Near For Feather River King Fishing

Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service announced he’s packing it in for Chinook fishing as the Feather River’s levels are now deemed too low.

Here’s Manuel’s final report:

“(Department of Water Resources) just dropped the river flow to 800 cfs on the Feather River yesterday 11/6/14. So that wraps it up for the king salmon for me for 2014. I now will switch to stripers in the Delta for the next few months. We all need to pray for some rain. I hope to see everyone at the ISE show in Sacramento this year.  If you can stop by my booth, I would like to meet some you in person that I have not yet met.”

Call Manuel at (530) 301-7455 to book a trip.

Here a few of the final kings caught in the Feather this season:

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Meanwhile, Scott Feist of Feisty Fish Guide Service is also gearing up for Delta stripers:

The bite has been solid for the past few weeks and it should remain good until the holidays are over. I fish stripers many ways in the Delta; from live bait, spooning, casting and trolling. The fall is beautiful in the Delta with some amazing days of fishing. I am typically guiding waterfowl, but with the low water situation, I will be chasing stripers! If you would like to spend a day fishing delta stripers or would like some more information please give me a call!!!

Scott Feist can be reached at (530) 923-2634.




Sacramento River Fishing Trips



A message from Kirk and Lisa Portocarrero from Sac River Guide: 



Sacramento River King Salmon fishing out of Anderson, Calif.
  The chromers are here. Bright chrome salmon are arriving. Combo trips – salmon, trout and steelhead trips have been great, too catching salmon the first half of the day and catching trout and steelhead for the rest of the day. Bring the rain gear, just in case. Weather is cooler now, this
expected in November. But so are the BIG, monster salmon. The month of November is know for producing the large salmon on the Sacramento River.
Salmon season closes December 16.
Sacramento River fishing
Lower Sacramento River fly trout and steelhead  fishing is excellent.Trout fishing Redding area,
trout fishing is good. Rainbow trout fishing, fly fishing;
trout are 18 inches to 25 inches.
Fishing areas from Redding to Balls Ferry ramp.
Remember,  this is a year-round fishing.
Trinity River


Weaverville, Calif.
 Trinity River has been red hot fishing now for steelhead.
 We are trout and steelhead fishing daily and fishing has been fantastic. Nice beautiful steelhead!


        Fishing is amazing: Call us today
(800) 670-4448                     

Feather River Salmon Bite Remains Hot

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Feather River Chinook continue to end the fall season with a bang, says Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service in Marysville:




New salmon are still moving in both the Feather and Sacramento rivers. The temperature on the Feather river has dropped to 58 degrees. Salmon are holding in the deeper holes on the river.
Bryan, Sylvester and Thomas all had fun reeling their limit of  hard fighting king salmon. All fish were caught while back bouncing flat fish with a sardine wrap topped with ProCure Bloody Tuna Oil.
Use EXTREME CAUTION when navigating the Feather river. It is extremely low.
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MSJ Guide Service: (530) 301-7455.




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
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

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




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 at

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

Feather River Cools, Bite Heats Up



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.


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.”



Saldana 1

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.





Hunting With Brittany B.

Brittany 1

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
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
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

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.


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.