Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Great Editorial Pondering How To Protect California’s Rivers

Feather River photo by Chris Cocoles

Three prominent California professors teamed up to pen an excellent editorial in the Sacramento Bee on how the state can better protect its struggling freshwater fish. It’s an informative read, and here is a snippet from writers Leon Szeptycki, Buzz Thompson and Brian Gray:

We propose an approach that integrates environmental uses into the existing water rights system. The goals of this reform are to increase efficiency and flexibility and enhance certainty for all water users.

 Under our proposal, local water managers, water users and environmental and fishing groups would negotiate watershed ecosystem plans that determine how much water is needed to ensure the ecological integrity of a river system. This volume of water, which would vary from wet to dry years, would become the water budget for that river. This water budget would focus on overall ecological health rather than the current narrower emphasis on tracking individual endangered species.

To be most effective, the water budget must be like a water right. This includes storing ecosystem water in reservoirs or groundwater basins, trading it with other water rights holders and allowing managers to increase their water budgets through purchases, donations and exchanges.

We recommend that an independent trustee manage each watershed’s water budget with oversight by the State Water Board. The volume of ecosystem water should be set for at least 10 years.

Several western states and Australia use something like these water budgets already. California has taken small steps toward this approach with agreements on Putah Creek and the Yuba River. Also, the State Water Board has proposed designating blocks of water to support ecological uses in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems, though without the management flexibility we recommend.

Commercial Crab Season Off North Coast Delayed

CDFW photo.

 The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

Due to poor crab meat quality test results conducted at the beginning of November, the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has issued a memo delaying the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season in Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties) for a minimum of 15 days until Dec. 16, under authority of Fish and Game Code section 8276.2. Crab quality tests ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting and follow the testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee that is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

“We are trying to schedule a second round of testing to take place before Dec. 7 to determine whether the fishery can open Dec. 16 or will need to be further delayed,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz.

If quality tests remain low, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham has the authority to delay the season an additional 15 days. The season cannot be delayed beyond Jan. 15 due to crab quality as mandated in section 8276.2 of the Fish and Game Code.

The fishery is currently scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 16, 2017. This opening will be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2017.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas.

Please refer to CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery for the 2017-18 season.

Recreational crabbing remains open statewide. There are two areas of the coast in northern California where the California Department of Public Health advises consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs due to elevated levels of domoic acid. These areas include Laguna Point, Mendocino County northward to Humboldt Bay North Jetty, Humboldt Countyand the Klamath River mouth, Humboldt County northward to the Oregon border.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

For more general information on Dungeness crab in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

Fisherman Injured In Shark Attack Off Pebble Beach

Sharkdiver/Wikimedia

 

The above video, courtesy of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department,  features footage of a terrifying shark attack on a fisherman off the coast of Pebble Beach.

Here’s the San Jose Mercury News with more on the victim, Grigor Azatian: 

Armen Azatian was surfacing from a spearfishing dive in Monterey Bay when he heard a bloodcurdling scream.

It was his 25-year-old son, who had just fought off what he said was a great white shark that ripped into his thigh and lower leg.

The elder Azatian didn’t witness the Friday attack, but realized immediately something catastrophic had happened — his son had never cried since he was a baby.

“It was like lightning struck my head and it was cracking,” Armen Azatian of Northridge said, as he recalled the attack and its aftermath on Sunday while his son underwent a second surgery to repair his badly damaged leg.

“It was horrifying; his muscles were torn apart,” said Azatian, a psychiatrist who worked for a year as a surgery intern but had never seen anything as gruesome. “I didn’t have that luxury to panic, to scream and be emotional,” he said. “I had to concentrate and do everything possible to help my son.”

Here’s to a full recovery for Grigor.

 

 

The Wildest Of Wild Game Holiday Recipes To Try

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Looking for something different to serve for your holiday party and have some wild game in your freezer? Try these recipes from our lead writer and galloping gourmet, Tim Hovey. The following appears in the November issue of California Sportsman: 

Jessica Hovey with a rattlesnake. Try something new with rattler on a cracker! (TIM E. HOVEY)

 

By Tim E. Hovey

As the holiday season draws near, I start thinking about a family tradition we have at the Hovey household.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas, I like to create unique meals or side dishes out of wild game meat from animals my daughters and I have hunted during the season. A few weeks prior to the holiday gatherings, my family starts thinking about what we’d like to prepare.

In the past, we’ve presented some rather one-of-a-kind dishes at holiday parties. Deer tacos, crow nachos and sautéed bobcat are appetizers we’ve served. My family has become used to giving me a sideways glance as I place our wild game offering on the community table.

Over the years, nothing has been off limits. As a matter of pride and principle, we eat just about every animal we hunt. This means that our freezer can contain just about any game meat within a season. Since the holidays are right around the corner, I thought I’d share a few of the more popular dishes we’ve created over the years.

Most wild game meats are lean and contain very little fat. This means they are extremely easy to overcook. Care should be taken during preparation and cooking. Low, consistent heat is the general rule for wild game to keep it from drying out on the grill. Adding fat to the meat will also assist in keeping wild game moist.

RATTLESNAKE TRISCUITS

When my daughters were just getting into the outdoors and before they were old enough to hunt with me, we used to go out on snake runs in the back hills behind my house. We would mostly just take photos of the different species and send them on their way. However, when we’d occasionally encounter a larger rattlesnake, I’d kill it and bring it back home to barbecue.

After skinning and cleaning the meat, we marinate it in teriyaki sauce for 24 hours. After heating up the grill and laying down some foil, we cook the meat for about 15 minutes until it becomes flaky. Using a fork, I remove the rib bones, leaving just the white, flaky, delicious meat.

I let the meat cool a bit and then spread cream cheese on a Triscuit cracker. Then add diced jalapeños and a thin slice of tomato. The snake meat goes on top and the appetizer is complete. We’ve served this dish at a Thanksgiving dinner; despite some initial hesitation, my family completely consumed the concoction.

 

These deer meatballs will spice up your pasta or go go great as an appetizer. (TIM E. HOVEY)

DEER MEATBALLS

During 2015 and 2016, my daughters and I were lucky enough to tag out in Wyoming on our annual deer hunt. I process all my own game meat and since my family best utilizes ground meat, with the exception of the back straps all the deer meat we brought back was ground up and vacuum-packed.

We’d make everything from deer chili to deer tacos to deer spaghetti with the ground meat. All dishes were delicious and had a unique flavor. In fact, my daughters consider any of our deer meals their favorites.

Last year during a holiday party, I decided to prepare the deer meat using a unique meatball recipe. I wanted to treat my guests to a wild game dish that would be out of the ordinary a bit.

I use 2 pounds of ground deer meat and mix in one egg, Italian breadcrumbs, seasoning and diced jalapeños. After mixing thoroughly and forming into balls, I place a small chunk of mozzarella cheese into the center of each meatball.

In a frying pan, I lightly brown the meatballs in butter and garlic, being careful not to overcook the dish. The browned meat is placed into a sloe cooker with marinara sauce and set on low heat for two more hours.

We’ve served this dish as an appetizer as well as a side dish, and our family absolutely loves it. The mildly wild flavor mixes well with the sauce and ingredients. We’ve also tried this dish with a white sauce and it comes out just as good.

Rabbit stew, anyone? (TIM E. HOVEY)

WILD RABBIT STEW

Besides being one of my favorite small game animals to hunt, cottontail rabbits are where my daughters started their hunting journey. As they became more interested in hunting, they got better and they started bringing home more rabbits for the freezer.

For this recipe I use the meat from two adult cottontails. The rabbits are quartered out and the small but tasty backstraps are removed. After cleaning, I debone and dice up the meat, season lightly with salt and pepper and let it chill in the refrigerator.

Cottontail rabbit meat is white and will pick up the flavor of any marinade. For this stew recipe, I skip the marinade step and flavor the meat during the browning process.

In the slow cooker I add diced potatoes, carrots, celery and sliced onions. Add two quarts of chicken stock and flour to thicken the broth. This mixture is seasoned to taste and then set on low heat for four hours.

In a frying pan, add butter and the diced rabbit pieces to brown. I’ll lightly season the browning meat with garlic salt. After browning, add the rabbit meat to the stew mixture and let it cook on low heat for another hour.

We served this dish at our annual Christmas party and many remarked that it tasted better than chicken. Once again, the dish was completely consumed.

 

You’ll be watching football today and lots of holiday college bowl games, so skip the sports bar and have some wild pig sliders while checking out some pigskin. (TIM E. HOVEY)

WILD PIG SLIDERS

Here in California, wild pigs are popular big game animals to pursue. They are a serious challenge to locate and bring down. Their habitat is rough and of all the big game animals I have hunted, I find them the most difficult to chase. But bringing one home means some fantastic table fare.

After a successful hunt, I debone all the leg meat and run it through a grinder. As with most wild meat, pig is lean and overcooks easily. To assist with flavor and the cooking process, I like to mix in beef fat. I add 25 percent fat to the pork meat and mix well. I’ve even grinded the meat a second time to really mix the ground meat with the added fat.

The next step allows for some creative flavoring. The most flavorful seasoning I’ve used was a wild pork sausage seasoning, which added a unique flavor to the wild pork. After thoroughly mixing the seasoning and meat, I place the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill.

I form the meat into small patties and cook them over a low heat on the grill. The low heat and the beef fat keep the patties from overcooking and drying out. Add cheese if desired and serve as small sliders. The seasoning adds a slight sausage flavoring to the burger; they are delicious.

GO OUTSIDE THE NORM

I’ve found that wild meat is the perfect place to start when my family looks to create unique dishes. Many of the lighter meats, like rabbit, will pick up flavors easily and the darker meat, like deer and pork, are great table fare when prepared and cooked properly. And personally, I take it as a challenge to expose those who don’t normally eat wild game, to have them at least give it a try.

If you’re a hunter, get creative with your wild game by preparing a unique recipe this holiday season. If you’re a nonhunter, be adventurous if someone in your family offers you a wild dish and give it a try. Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy this time of year. Sharing good food – even rattlesnake – is how the holiday seasons should be celebrated. CS

CDFW Awards Habitat Restoration Funds

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of four projects to receive funding for habitat restoration projects within California’s Northern Coastal watersheds most impacted by unregulated cannabis cultivation.

The awards, totaling $1.3 million, were made under CDFW’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program, and will support cleanup and habitat restoration at inactive cannabis cultivation sites.

“These grants mark an important step forward in our efforts to address the extensive damage to habitat and toxic chemicals threatening a host of wild species,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Providing a resource to address the impacts of reckless cannabis cultivation adds an important piece to the complex puzzle of our existing watershed restoration work.”

Projects approved for funding through the Cannabis Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Reclaiming our Public Lands and Watersheds from the Environmental Threats of Trespass Cannabis Cultivation ($1,068,415 to Integral Ecology Research Center);
  • Bull Creek Cannabis Recovery Project ($94,510 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group);
  • SF Usal Creek Headwaters – Trash and Toxin Cleanup ($83,840 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group); and
  • Whitethorn Grove Clean Up ($64,831 to Sanctuary Forest, Inc.).

Projects funded under the 2017 Cannabis Restoration Program are scheduled to commence in early 2018.

The Cannabis Restoration Grant Program was established by CDFW in 2017 in response to legislation aimed at regulating the burgeoning legal cannabis industry. In his signing message to Assembly Bill 243 (Wood, Medical Marijuana), Governor Brown directed, “the Natural Resources Agency to identify projects to begin the restoration of our most impacted areas in the state.”

“I have seen firsthand the devastation to the watersheds caused by these rogue cannabis growers,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, the author of AB 243. “They divert water, use prohibited herbicides and leave behind hundreds of butane canisters and chemical ponds that pollute our waterways affecting the salmon and trout populations. I am thankful that Governor Brown allocated $1.5 million this year to kick off this very targeted restoration program for the North Coast area and look forward to the state identifying future funds so we can continue this critical work.”

General information about CDFW’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Watersheds/Cannabis-Restoration-Grant.

A Snapping Good Time In New Zealand

The editor shows off one of the Bay of Islands’ snapper. 

 

 

The following appears in the November issue of California Sportsman: 

 

Story and photos by Chris Cocoles

RUSSELL, New Zealand If I came for the trout, I left with the snapper.  

New Zealand called me for many reasons during an early October visit: mild weather, whitewater rafting, world-class wine and some of the friendliest locals on Earth to share a pint with. 

But while I anticipated any fishing I’d do would be on some crisp freshwater lake for the country’s iconic rainbows and at a cost that would inflate an already ballooning travel budget, my inner angler was satisfied and made possible by a skipper who I’m positive hasn’t walked on dry land in 50 years. 

Here I was – a couple days off a 12-hour flight from San Francisco – boarding Capt. Jeff Crooks’ boat with Spot-X Fishing Charters on a sun-splashed spring afternoon so far from home. Soon I’d forget about booking a trout trip and would be reeling in supper in the form of snapper from the Pacific Ocean and having the time of my life. 

Capt. Jeff Crooks showed us his favorite beach on the way to our fishing spot. It was easy to see why.

“WELCOME TO MY OFFICE,” Crooks said when I joined him on the bridge of the Spot-X. It’s hard to imagine a more spectacular view than from this workspace. NewZealand is blessed with some of the planet’s most diverse vistas – from snow-capped peaks, glaciers and fjords on the less populated South Island (we didn’t have near enough time to get there on this eight-day trip), to the pristine beaches, cozy fishing villages and vineyards of the North Island. 

Here in the far north of the country, Crooks pilots his fishing vessel through azure blue waters between a rocky archipelago known as the Bay of Islands, a popular getaway for residents of New Zealand’s largest metropolis of Auckland, a three-hour drive south. 

Crooks, a typically jovial “Kiwi” with a salt-and-pepper beard and spiked hair, was straight out of central casting for a grizzled seaman. 

“I was conceived on a boat,” he said, and you get the impression that he may not be joking. His dad was an accomplished sailor from Auckland who competed and won a prestigious competition, the almost 100-year-old Lipton Cup. It is New Zealand’s oldest yachting competition and features 22-foot crafts – many that date back as old as the race itself – commonly known by locals as “mullet boats” (his father won the race in 1962 and Crooks was born in 1963, so do the math on buying that conceived-on-a-boat bit).

“I knew that’s all I wanted to do,” Crooks said of having a life on the water. He too would follow in Dad’s footsteps and win a Lipton Cup trophy himself. Crooks built wooden boats for a living but escaped the big city for the Bay of Islands eight years ago, and he’s been skippering this boat for the last few seasons.

Katarina Jung and her family have owned Spot-X (fishspotx.co.nz) for the last year. They are Swedes who came to New Zealand on an entrepreneurial visa. 

“We started up a fishing shop in Russell, Screaming Reels (screamingreels.co.nz), and took over Spot-X, which had been operating in the bay for 16 years,” Jung says. “It had a very good reputation when we bought it and we work to keep that and improve it, giving the guests an unforgettable experience of the Bay of Islands.” 

Now if only more Americans would experience it. I was stunned when Crooks told me that only about 5 percent of his guests come from the U.S. “Mostly Aussies, but we get a lot of Germans and (other) Europeans,” he said. 

It’s difficult to envision anyone not being content to visit. Surely the Jungs were OK with trading the Nordic winters they endured to live here in the temperate climate of the South Pacific. 

On our way to the fishing grounds – these waters are also known for kingfish, marlin and tuna, the latter two of which are targeted on longer trips further offshore – Crooks motored us past his favorite (unnamed) beach. I could see why; it’s a magnificent stretch of white sand and crystal-clear blue water that Robinson Crusoe types might reconsider wanting rescue from. 

Then he asked his seven passengers how many of us had been through the Hole in the Rock (Motu K?kako as it’s known in the native M?ori dialect), a 60-foot-tall opening on what the explorer Capt. James Cook renamed as Piercy Island upon his discovery of it in 1769. When the weather cooperates and the tides are right, boats both small and bigger can navigate through the hole, which we did to great enthusiasm from our party. (And when Crooks suggested we do it, I laughed and mentioned that earlier that same day my travel buddy Norv and I went through the hole when we took a dolphin-watching cruise and quick visit to a nature reserve, Urupukapuka Island.) 

Enough of the sightseeing, I thought. Let’s go fishing. 

The SpotX boat also took us through the Hole in the Rock, first spied by famed explorer Capt. James Cook in 1769.

 

CATCHING SNAPPER IN THESE waters doesn’t require anything fancy. Crooks handed us all spincast rods with 50-pound test rigged with just a heavy sinker, a short leader and a hook. Our first spot was not far beyond the Hole in the Rock, around the other side of Cape Brett at the edge of the Bay of Islands. 

In about 90 feet of water, Crooks anchored the boat and pulled out a bag of cut squid, gave a 20-second tutorial on where to bait the hook, and we dropped down to the bottom, cranked up a few feet and waited. 

“I can’t guarantee you we’ll always catch a bunch of fish,” Crooks had told us earlier. “But I can guarantee you I won’t give up trying to catch a bunch of fish.” 

I was one of two Americans onboard. When I was first picked up as the last passenger at the marina in Russell, I struck up a conversation with Ethan Gaddy, an 18-year-old who hails from North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He graduated high school in June and shortly thereafter flew to New Zealand and had been there since. By the time he’d left to go home Gaddy would have visited just about every major spot in a country of just about 4.4 million residents and comparable in size to Colorado.

There was enough fish for everyone on this day.

“Enjoy this while you can,” I told the teenager regarding his ability to travel for months at a time.

The youngster of our group, 9-year-old Liam, a Kiwi, photo bomber and aspiring standup comedian who was visiting during a countrywide school holiday with his mom Jo, couldn’t stop grinning. 

My fellow Yank Gaddy talked about his experience tramping through the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, injuring his knee while snowboarding one of the South Island’s snowy peaks during the Southern Hemisphere winter – our summer – and pondering what was next once he gets back to the reality of life (though I became jealous again when he thought about trekking to Southeast Asia next whenever he could get away). 

An Australian couple on our boat fled the chaos of Sydney for small-town life inland on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, not far from Melbourne but far enough away to enjoy the good life Down Under. 

Now in New Zealand, flanked by the rugged east coast of the North Island on one side and the endless waters of the Pacific on the other, they and the rest of us were catching fish.

One guy behind me landed a feisty snapper a few minutes after we started to fish. I caught my first shortly thereafter. When little Liam reeled one up – assisted by Crooks – we all whooped and hollered for the kid.  

One of the fish we caught is known in New Zealand as a pink maomao.

We had quite a good surf-and-turf meal that night.

The skipper decided to change things up a little and we cruised closer to the rocky shoreline of Cape Brett, where various sea birds congregated. We anchored this time in far shallower water – about 27 feet to the bottom. Crooks also broke out tiny frozen baitfish to try. “Anchovies?” I asked. “That’s what you’d call them in the states,” the captain replied. 

I slipped one on and maybe two casts later, within seconds of my bait hitting bottom I felt the hardest tug yet. This snapper, my biggest of the day – maybe 5 pounds or so – gave me a little stronger fight. Earlier in the day I’d landed what’s known as a pink maomao (longfin perch), which is a type of sea bass and one that lives up to its colorful nickname; we also brought in two more odd species, a triggerfish and a moray eel.

By the end of the day, we’d stacked the back of the Spot-X with a bunch of keeper snapper, my pink maomao and the triggerfish. Since I was the only member of this charter staying in Russell – the rest were headed back across the harbor to the bigger port of Paihia – Crooks headed into a cove and filleted the three snapper and maomao. Much to his delight, I brought back the fish for Norv and I to enjoy a delicious surf-and-turf meal cooked on a poolside grill (we had so many fillets we gave some to the motel manager).  

The sun was setting after a 70ish-degree October afternoon. I was sunburned, hungry and thirsty, but during a trip when I was rarely disappointed by the scenery, food, beer, wine and activities that included Class IV-plus whitewater rafting and a jet boat thrill ride, I wondered if the North Carolinian vagabond had the right idea to spend months in a land so beautiful, mystical and prehistoric it gave the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies quite the cinematic backdrop. Or maybe it was Crooks who has it made, even if he did admit his workday lasts from dawn until at least 10 p.m.  

Spend a week or so in New Zealand and you’ll agree it’s not a bad permanent gig. CS

Editor’s note: Spot-X Fishing Charters offers a relative bargain in a country where few comparable activities are anything but cheap. A shared, up-to-eight-person, four- to five-hour fishing trip to catch snapper and possibly larger kingfish costs 110 New Zealand dollars – roughly $75 U.S. each. Check out fishspotx.co.nz/charters for more or like them at facebook.com/fishspotX.

 

Juvenile Coho To Be Released In Bay Area Creek(s)

Warms Springs Hatchery juvenile coho photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

 

Venerable San Francisco Chronicle outdoors writer Tom Stienstra reports that a tributary of the Bay Area’s Russian River  will receive a release of juvenile coho salmon as part of a plan to revive the sporadic population of silvers in Northern California’s coastal rivers.

Here’s Stienstra with some details:

In a special moment Monday, 6,000 juvenile coho salmon are being released in a coastal creek in Sonoma County.

It is part of the release of 140,000 coho salmon this fall in a public-private partnership to restore coho, or silver salmon, in 10 tributaries that feed into the Russian River.

The result of restoration efforts in the Bay Area and beyond has turned salmon watching into a spectator sport.

 With fall rains, the prospects are promising in the coming six weeks to see returning coho salmon at Lagunitas Creek in Marin. Some years, 450 salmon are counted.

The best spots include the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area near Shafter Bridge and the small waterfalls at the Ink Wells, located along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Other good spots in the Lagunitas Creek watershed include Roy’s Pool in San Geronimo and Devil’s Gulch in Samuel P. Taylor State Park. …

Monday’s fish release is the result of cooperation between farmers, conservationists and the government. The Gallo Winery and MacMurray Estate, both of which are supporting the project and providing access, are working with conservationist volunteers, with oversight by scientists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The juvenile coho are about 9 inches long, provided by the Warm Springs Hatchery near Lake Sonoma. Once trucked to the site, the fish are netted and placed in water-filled glass jugs in backpacks, and volunteers then transport the fish to creek’s edge for release.

 

 

 

CDFW: Rodenticides Poison Killed Two Endangered San Joaquin Kit Foxes

CDFW photo

 

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is investigating the poisoning of two San Joaquin kit foxes found dead in Bakersfield last month. Although the foxes were found ten miles apart, the cause of death was the same: exposure to high levels of the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide, brodifacoum, which resulted in severe internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. The carcasses were discovered by residents of Kern City and north Bakersfield who reported them to the Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP), a local conservation group that monitors kit foxes in the city and greater Central Valley. ESRP has been working closely with residents in both areas, as this urban kit fox population has declined in recent years due to a fatal outbreak of sarcoptic mange.

San Joaquin kit foxes are only found in California and are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Despite the many obstacles kit foxes face in the wild, most notably due to habitat loss, they seem to be thriving in the Bakersfield area and have become beloved city residents. This urban population is increasingly more important to the survival of the species as natural habitats disappear. However, city living is risky. Urban kit foxes are more likely to die from vehicle strikes, dog attacks, entombment, diseases transmitted by domestic pets or invasive wildlife, and poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticides. Rodents are kit foxes’ primary food item, which makes them terribly vulnerable to poisons ingested by rodents. When they eat rodents that have been poisoned with these baits, they’re exposed to those rodenticides.

Due to their harmful impacts on non-target wildlife — including hawks, owls, bobcats and mountain lions — second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are now restricted in California. Since July 2014, four of these chemicals can only be legally sold to and used by professional exterminators. CDFW urges residents to help protect kit foxes by using alternate means of rodent control such as exclusion, sanitation and trapping, and to ask any pest control professionals they employ to do the same.

To learn more, please visit our webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Living-with-Wildlife/Rodenticides. For more information, please call or email the CDFW Wildlife Investigation Laboratory at (916) 358-2954 or Stella.McMillin@wildlife.ca.gov.

If you find a San Joaquin kit fox that appears to be impaired, please contact the CDFW or ESRP at (661) 835-7810.

 

Great Numbers For Mokelumne River Chinook

Things are going well for steelhead and especially Chinook at the Mokelumne River Hatchery. 

 

Mokelumne River Hatchery photos from CDFW

Here’s more from Sfgate.com’s Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Salmon crowded in and around the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery on Thursday, offering leaping and squiggling proof of what so far is a near-record return of the big pinkish delicacies after several years of low breeding numbers.

Schoolchildren watched as the fall-run chinook squirmed on conveyor belts into the “egg take” building, where, with help from about a dozen hatchery workers, they engaged in the decidedly unromantic process of spawning the next generation.

“It’s going to be one of the top three or four years that we’ve seen since 1940,” said Jose Setka, the manager of fisheries and wildlife for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which supplies Mokelumne River water to 1.4 million East Bay customers. “We are getting more of our fish back where they belong.”

 The large number of salmon, which are inspired by the first rains of the season to swim upriver and spawn, validate the effectiveness of a series of streambed, habitat and health improvements made over the years by the utility and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

As of Thursday, 13,799 chinook, each weighing as much as 31 pounds, had fought their way from the ocean up the Mokelumne into the Clements facility, compared with 4,129 at this time last year. With about a month left in the season, the record of 18,000 salmon, set in 2011, is within reach.

Steelhead numbers are also way up for the second consecutive year, with more than 350 fish having returned to the hatchery — and it is still early season for the wild cousins of rainbow trout, which usually spawn through early March. Last year, a record 600 steelhead returned.

 “Before last year a good year would be about 100 steelhead, but we had over 600 last year, and we’re on track to beat that this year,” said Ed Rible, a fisheries biologist for the utility district.

 

 

 

Los Cabos Tournament Set To Begin

Los Cabos Tournaments

 

 

The following press release is courtesy of Los Cabos Tournaments and the Bonnier Corporation:  

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (Nov. 15, 2017) — The only free-entry fishing tournament on the Baja California Peninsula is underway, as a fleet of 90 boats set out from three ports — Cabo San Lucas, East Cape and San Jose — for the Los Cabos Big Game Charter Boat Classic. Weather conditions were favorable on Tuesday for the first day of fishing with light winds and a moderate swell.

The radio start from tournament director Dan Jacobs called for lines-in promptly at 7 a.m., and the boats headed out to fish until 2:30 p.m. Several billfish releases were reported and anglers fishing out of San Jose swept the tuna category on this nearly picture-perfect day offshore. A.J. Summers from Winnetka, Illinois, landed a 66.2-pound tuna on Jacqueline to score first place in the division and a check for $1,800. Both second and third place went to angler David Martin from Hudson, Colorado, who weighed a 56.8-pound tuna and a 50.5-pound tuna caught on Killer II, worth a total of $1,535.

While San Jose had the hot tuna bite, it was the Cabo fleet that led the dorado category. Top honors on day one went to Doug Hart from Rosenburg, Texas, with his 16.8-pounder on Sol Mar VI for $1,800. Second place winnings of $900 went to Sandy, Utah, angler Robert Post for his 16.3-pound catch on Baja Raider. Taking third place was angler Tony Divino from Holladay, Utah, pulling in a 14.2-pound dorado on Baja Raider that earned him $635.

In the wahoo category, angler Lois Murray from Cranrook, British Columbia, won first place with a 25.1-pound catch on Paraquita in San Jose. Murray was the top prize winner for day one by also winning the lady angler division and splitting the third place wahoo prize for a grand total of $2,117.50. Paula Haycock from Draper, Utah, claimed second place and a share of the third place prize with her 7.9-pound wahoo caught while fishing on Baja Raider out of Cabo for a payout of $1,217.50.

Rounding out the first day awards was the winner of the junior angler category, Kieran McSween from Middletown, California. Kieran pulled in a 12.9-pound tuna while fishing on Cheers in Cabo.

The Los Cabos Big Game Charter Boat Classic continues through Nov. 17. For more information, visit www.loscabostournaments.com.