Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

So Few Spring-Run Chinook Salmon In Salmon River

Salmon River photo by Scott Harding/Wikimedia

 

While there are reasons to feel optimistic about salmon in Northern California, some of the reports aren’t as glowing.  The ironically named Salmon River, a tributary of the Klamath River in Siskiyou County, is barely containing any spawning Chinook. Per the Eureka Times-Standard,  just 106 adult spring-run kings were counted, which for the second straight year is considered the second-lowest number recorded after 110 in 2017.

Here’s more from the Eureka paper:

Teams of divers from various organizations, environmental groups, state and federal agencies and Klamath Basin tribes have surveyed the entire length of the nearly 80-mile river since 1995, with the lowest count occurring in 2005 at 90 fish — three years after the devastating fish kill on the Klamath River – and peaking at 1,600 fish in 2011.

Klamath Riverkeeper board member Nathaniel Pennington said that historically the spring-run salmon were found to have ranged into the upper Klamath Basin in southern Oregon — now blocked by hydroelectric dams — and once numbered in the thousands.

A 2017 report by UC Davis and California Trout found Klamath-Trinity River spring-run Chinook salmon were at critical risk of extinction within the next century if conditions continue.

Tribes and restoration groups now place their hopes in recent petitions to list the salmon run as an endangered species as well as in a pending project to remove four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River that block access to historic territory.

Report Argues That California’s Drift Gillnet Fishery Should End

Image result for American sportfishing association logo

The following press release is courtesy of the American Sportfishing Association: 

Alexandria, VA – July 26, 2018 – A new report makes the case that ending the practice of deploying mile-long large mesh drift gillnets (DGN) in U.S. West coast waters not only would benefit marine resource conservation, but the economy too. The report, “A Review of the California Drift Gillnet Fishery” was produced for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the sportfishing industry’s trade association, by Southwick Associates.

Some of the key points in the report include:

  • Participation in, and inflation-adjusted value of, the DGN fishery has declined significantly in recent decades.
  • Over a period of approximately ten years, over half (64 percent) of the catch in the DGN fishery was non-targeted species, including marine mammals, sea turtles and many recreationally important fish species.
  • If DGN-caught fish were instead landed using new gear with much lower bycatch rates known as deep-set buoy gear, the swordfish fishery’s economic contributions to California would increase 18-19 percent, providing 42 additional jobs and $341,000 in additional state and local tax revenues.

“While participation in the DGN fishery has declined significantly over time, this gear still has a tremendously negative impact on marine resources due to bycatch rates that are some of the highest in the entire country,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Conservation director. “Given that more sustainable and economically viable options exist for harvesting swordfish, it’s time that this destructive practice is put to an end.”

After years of concerns raised about the high levels of bycatch from DGN, in September 2015, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) unanimously recommended implementing caps on the amounts of allowable bycatch of certain endangered, threatened and vulnerable species. Under this proposal, if a cap was reached, the fishery would close for the duration of that season, and the closure would also extend to the following season.

However, in June 2017, NOAA Fisheries withdrew the proposed rule, opting to continue with status quo management, a move that was strongly opposed by state managers, PFMC members, recreational fishing and conservation interests and other stakeholders.

“The recreational fishing community, and many others interested in sustainable fisheries, worked in good faith through the federal fisheries management process to try to clean up this fishery, but the process simply didn’t work,” said Leonard. “It’s clear that this unique problem is only going to be solved legislatively.”

Bills have been introduced at both the state and federal levels to phase out the DGN fishery. At the state level, Sen.  Ben Allen’s (D-26) SB-1017 passed the State Senate and is now moving through the State Assembly.

At the federal level, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced S. 2773, the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, which will be voted on by the Senate Commerce Committee on August 1, 2018. Companion legislation, H.R. 5638, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

Along with other fisheries conservation organizations, ASA has been active in supporting these bills.

“The recreational fishing industry has a longstanding record of supporting sustainable fishing practices, including ridding the oceans of gillnets where they’ve proved to be unsustainable,” said Bill Shedd, AFTCO President and former chairman of ASA’s Government Affairs Committee. “We strongly believe that by transitioning to more sustainable gear, the West coast swordfish fishery can continue, but without the detrimental impacts on recreationally important fish and other marine resources that the sportfishing community cares about.”

The full report, “A Review of the California Drift Gillnet Fishery,” can be found here or by copying and pasting the following link into your address bar – https://asafishing.org/wp-content/uploads/California-Drift-Gillnet-Fishery-Economic-Considerations-July-2018.pdf

CDFW Meeting Will Discuss Wildlife Habitat

CDFW photo

 

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will host a public outreach meeting on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Los Banos regarding Central Region Type A wildlife areas. CDFW will take comments and recommendations and provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on these public lands.

CDFW will be joined by representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and the Grassland Water District.

State wildlife areas to be discussed include Mendota, Los Banos, Volta and North Grasslands, including the Salt Slough, China Island, Gadwall and Mud Slough units. Federal refuge personnel will be available to address the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, including the Lone Tree Unit and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, including the Kesterson, Blue Goose, East and West Bear Creek, and Freitas units. The Grassland Water District will make a short presentation on refuge water supply.

The meeting will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Grassland Environmental Education Center located at 18110 W. Henry Miller Road in Los Banos. Please email sean.allen@wildlife.ca.gov if you are planning to attend so enough seating and refreshments can be arranged.

CDFW annually provides an opportunity for licensed hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs, including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on wildlife areas through public meetings and other outreach.

CDFW’s Central Region encompasses 12 counties in Central California and is one of seven CDFW regions in the state.

Be The Cats’ Meow At Collins Lake This Summer

Photos courtesy of Collins Lake

The following appears in the July issue of California Sportsman:

By Chris Cocoles 

Collins Lake’s spring attraction is its trout fishing prowess, and why not? This popular lake east of Yuba City and Marysville has some of the area’s most liberal trout plants.

And while you can still score one of the many rainbows that have been stocked, the expected rising temperatures means catfish become angler’s summer crush. 

“The trout bite definitely starts to slow down as compared to the spring, but we still see a decent amount of trout activity throughout the hotter summer months,” says Jacob Young of Collins Lake resort (800-286-0576; collinslake.com). “They have definitely dropped down deep to 30 feet down, so there has been less activity from the shore and more from anglers trolling with downriggers. PowerBait and Kastmasters are still the popular bait and lure we see anglers using.”

Still, as Young admits, “This is the season for catfish.”

Recent catches at Collins include a 12.2-pounder caught near the dam with sardines and a 5.75-pound cat in the same area. Cut bait and chicken livers are the tickets to filling the stringers. 

“Late summer and early fall are the prime seasons for catfish, specifically throughout August and September when we expect to see the most catfish activity,” Young says. 

Still, July will see plenty of catfish caught. One great option is for anglers to take a short hike on the Hidden Spruce Trail that splices out from the main campground and recreation area on the north side and hits various spots to fish from shore like Elmers Cove, where a 3-pound catfish was recently caught. The lake’s recreation area recently opened the trail to provide some new fishing areas and nature walks.

“This also allows for anglers to get access to new areas of shoreline that used to be harder to access for shore fishing,” Young says.

Collins Lake recently opened a swimming dock to allow campers, day trippers and even anglers a chance to cool off in the lake as summer temperatures regularly approach triple digits. 

“We are currently at the peak of the camping season,” Young says. “The campground is typically sold out on the weekends and still busy on the weekdays with campers, recreational boaters and fishermen.”

Go to collinslake.com/fishing for the latest fishing reports. CS

Do California Kings Share A Bond With New Zealand Salmon?

 

(NOAA photo by Thomas Dunklin)

As I discovered last fall when I visited and fished there,  New Zealand is a fascinating country. And as it turns out, there’s a connection to California’s salmon in the land of the Kiwis, who are passionate about freshwater fishing.

Here’s New Zealand news agency Stuff with more:

Members of a Native American tribe have returned to Canterbury and should know “very soon” whether an extinct species of California salmon is the same as those swimming in New Zealand rivers.

A delegation from the Winnemem Wintu tribe of northern California visited Mid and North Canterbury rivers in May, to begin testing whether local fish were the same as the chinook salmon – wiped out three years after the Shasta Dam was built on the Sacramento River in 1945.

They have now returned and 45 samples had been taken from the likes of the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers and sent back to the University of California, Davis for testing, Fish & Game spokesman Richard Cosgrove said.

I do know that in the Lake Taupo area the folks there are obsessed with trout as these photos can attest.

Photos by Chris Cocoles

Hoppers To Hunt

 

Deer and upland bird seasons are getting closer, but hunters should take note that July 1 marks the opening of cottontail rabbit season in California, something author Tim Hovey (below, with daughter Alyssa) circles on his summer calendar. (USFWS/STEVE MARTARANO; TIM E. HOVEY)

 

The following appears in the July issue of California Sportsman:

By Tim E. Hovey

Starting about the third week of May I begin to see a shift in my outdoor interests. 

The rods, reels and tackle that have been out and cluttering up the shop since the end of hunting season start getting moved aside to make room for what’s coming. 

As we move into June, I notice that I stare a few seconds longer at pairs of mourning dove that cut through the neighborhood at dusk looking for roosts. I also start pointing out cottontail rabbits that began to show up in the brushy patches near my house. 

My wife usually demonstrates her level of interest in my talent for pointing out suburban wildlife by rolling her eyes. She knows what’s coming and she’s become used to a noticeable elevation in my hyperactivity at this time of year. It can only mean that hunting season is right around the corner.

FOR MOST OF MY ADULT life, my friends and family have known not to include me in any plans once the calendar page flips after June 30. As we move through the true beginning of summer, I start getting my hunting gear ready to chase the fast and abundant cottontail rabbit.

July 1st is opening day of the season and, to me, it is a day more exciting than Christmas. Hunting rabbits near my house in Atascadero along the Central Coast was where my hunting career started. Some 40 years later, that youthful hunting excitement remains today. 

Following an exceptional rain year in spring 2017, I started to notice a serious abundance of rabbits in the areas I hunt. The much-needed water had greened up the hills and the wildlife had definitely responded favorably.

During one scouting trip, I counted over 80 rabbits during a two-hour hike. Seeing the rebounding wildlife as the season approached convinced me that this amazing bounty had to be shared.

Last season, I hunted with several different friends and, of course, my daughters. The kids seemed to really enjoy the spot-and-stalk method of chasing cottontails. Moving slowly through the brush during the early morning, we’d spot rabbits waiting for the warmth of the sun near their burrows. Using shooting sticks and .17 HMR rifles, the kids had no problem dropping their first five-rabbit limits of cottontails.

When it was my turn, I’d grab the shotgun and walk through the sage looking for flashes of brown fur cutting through the very narrow shooting lanes. Rabbits will usually hold tight until disturbed, then suddenly burst from cover. 

Depending on the thickness of the habitat, you may only get a split second to take a shot. This flash of opportunity is challenging to me and the reason why I love chasing bunnies.

Shotgun hunting is my favorite way of pursuing cottontails. Rabbits are thin-skinned animals and any size shotgun loaded with number 7s or 8s work fine. 

In the last few years I’ve added a specialized choke to my Browning Silver Hunter. It helps me extend the range of my shots. This has definitely helped me fill my bag limit faster in wide open country. So has scouting. 

Rabbits will occupy a wide range of areas if permanent water is around. They love sage bushes, rabbit brush and any vegetation that provides thick cover. They are more active in the early morning and later afternoon during the cooler parts of the day. During the heat of the day, they’ll usually head underground to stay cool.

Scouting for rabbits is easy. I actually look for a good, safe area to shoot first and then walk through brush trying to kick up bunnies. Old and new rabbit droppings in the area will usually tell me if any are using the surrounding habitat. If green vegetation and a water source are close by, the area will hold rabbits.

AS I GET OLDER, I find that the fire to chase anything during hunting season by myself is dimming. I’d much rather spend my time outside with good friends and family, building memories. During the last cottontail opener, I invited my good friend Jose De Orta and his son Adrian along. During last year’s dove season, Jose and I located a spot nearby that was absolutely loaded with rabbits.

So when it was time to hunt that same area we arrived the night before and spent the evening in a nearby hotel. We arrived at the hunting grounds an hour before daybreak and got our gear ready.

This was Adrian’s first shotgun hunt for cottontails. He had bagged a limit with a rifle, but those bunnies were sitting in one spot and not moving. Swinging a shotgun on a moving target is tougher to do and was going to take some practice.

We spread out to give us all some room and started hunting. I hiked further north and walked a dry creek bed where we had seen rabbits during the dove season. I spotted a few bunnies but they were scattering out of range before I could get a shot. After an hour of hunting, I had yet to pull the trigger.

Meanwhile, over where Jose and his son were hunting, I heard the regular clap of shotguns being fired. It sounded like I was in the wrong place.

I hiked back to where I had parked and noticed something under my truck. Several dead cottontails in two piles were placed in the shade of the vehicle.

I grabbed the rabbits and placed them in the cooler. I decided to drive further down the hunting area where Jose and his son were hunting. 

We spent the next hour or so chasing game and enjoying the day. Adrian limited out first and I was a close second. Jose closed out the day with his limit around noon. We gathered up our limits and took some great photos. After cleaning our rabbits, we headed home.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of chasing rabbits during the July 1 opener. This season I’ll be camping overnight in the desert with a good buddy. We’ll walk the brush flats in the early morning and hopefully fill the coolers with fresh meat.

Hovey (left), Adrian and Jose De Orta with cottontail limits. (TIM E. HOVEY)

RABBIT HUNTING IS FUN and relatively easy. If you’re new to the sport, it’s a great way to get started. Plus in good rabbit habitat your opportunities will be abundant. A shotgun, a box of shells and a pair of good hiking boots are really all you need. 

If you’ve chased bunnies before, do all sportsmen and -women a favor and take a new hunter out on a hunt. As I get older and seasons come and go, my enjoyment and success are measured in who’s with me and what I can pass on to others. 

In my opinion, rabbit season is the perfect time to expose new hunters, young and old, to our hunting heritage. CS

 

LICENSE TO THRILL

Working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss hunting and fishing regulations with quite a few wardens. Hands down, they state that their busiest time of the year – the season they write the most citations – is the cottontail opener. 

My good friend James Kasper, who was a warden in Southern California for over a decade, tells me that most hunters just forget that their hunting license expires the day before the opener. 

If you plan to chase rabbits this season, make sure you grab your new hunting license before you head out. TH

Photos by Tim Hovey

MAKE A MEAL

Another reason our family loves to hunt rabbits is because they are one of our favorite wild species to eat. 

Before we head out, I make sure our coolers are filled with ice blocks. I will almost always field dress and prepare the meat out in the wild. Doing this allows me to get the meat on ice quicker. Back home, I will debone all the meat and decide how I want to prepare it. 

The flavor is mild and the meat will pick up the flavor of any marinade. We’ve prepared rabbit several different ways and have never been disappointed. The meat is easy to cook with and, essentially, rabbit can be substituted in any recipe that calls for chicken.

Last year we purchased a high-end smoker and this season I’m excited to try a few smoking recipes on our wild game like cottontails. TH

 

Great White Shark Takes A Bite On A Whale Off SoCal

A shark off the coast of San Clemente in Orange County found an easy meal in a dead whale floating offshore (check out the video above and in the Instagram post below. It’s pretty intense.

 

Ninth Circuit Upholds Preliminary Injunction Against Standard Capacity Magazine Ban

The following press release is courtesy of the California Rifle and Pistol Association: 

In another blow to Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom’s anti-gun agenda, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in the case of Duncan v. Becerra on Tuesday, upholding a lower court’s decision to suspend enforcement of Proposition 63’s restriction on the possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Following the enactment of Proposition 63, CRPA attorneys sought an injunction against the magazine possession ban, arguing that the law violated the Second Amendment, as well as the due process and takings clauses of the United States Constitution. Federal District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction just days before the law was set to take effect. California quickly appealed the decision.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that Judge Benitez did not abuse his discretion, holding that he applied the correct legal standards and made reasonable inferences based on the record. But one judge on the panel disagreed. Responding to the dissent, the majority noted that it was not within the panel’s authority to re-weigh the evidence of the case, nor could it substitute its discretion for that of the district court. What’s more, referencing the Ninth Circuit’s 2014 ruling in Fyock v. Sunnyvale, which affirmed the denial of an injunction against a local magazine ban, the majority held that simply because a judge disagrees with another district court does not necessarily mean the district court abused its discretion on the matter.

Meanwhile, in the trial court, a motion for summary judgment is pending and a ruling on the merits of the case is expected soon. Regardless of the outcome, the case will most certainly be appealed again to the Ninth Circuit. But by that time, the Supreme Court will likely have a new Justice who respects the right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment.

To stay informed on the Duncan case, as well as other important Second Amendment issues affecting California gun owners, be sure to subscribe to NRA and CRPA email alerts. And be sure to visit the NRA-ILA California dedicated webpage at www.StandAndFightCalifornia.com and the new CRPA webpage at www.CRPA.org.

Young Anglers Tournament Set For Aug. 11 In Point Loma

The following press release is courtesy of San Diego Sportfishing

A fun day of fishing is planned for Saturday August 11th at the Shelter Island Pier located at 1776 Shelter Island Drive in Point Loma. This free fishing event, the Annual Young Anglers Tournament is open to all young anglers 6 to 15 years old. No experience is necessary. Use of loaner fishing tackle, bait and assistance is provided free of charge. In past years the fishing event has attracted the participation of kids from throughout San Diego County, Riverside and as far away as San Francisco.

Now in its 16th year, the event is produced by the San Diego Sportfishing Council with support from the
International Game Fish Association, the Port of San Diego Tidelands Activation Program and the
County of San Diego Community Enhancement program. This free annual event provides free hands-on access to water recreation in San Diego.

Registration for the tournament is available in advance online at this link: https://form.jotform.com/81765898392174.  Complete information on the event and on-line registration is
easily found on the San Diego Sportfishing Council’s website at www.sportfishing.org. Advance online
registration saves time the morning of the tournament. On site registration the day of the tournament begins at 7:30 AM. Fishing begins at 8:30 AM and ends promptly at 12 noon.  Prizes will be awarded by 1 PM.

The Annual Young Anglers Tournament features a points system to allow for catch and release with different species valued for varying points. The species included and their relative value in points will be
determined before the event begins on the day of the tournament. The winners – one recognized in each age category between 6 and 15 – will be determined by the highest number of points earned. The angler with the most points overall will be recognized on the tournament’s perpetual trophy.

A complimentary lunch will be served to all registered anglers. Lunch is provided, courtesy of Major Market, Tommy Gomes of Catalina Offshore Products and Specialty Produce.

Loaner fishing tackle provided by OKUMA will be available to those who don’t have their own. Bait is being provided by Squidco and Anglers Distributing. IGFA representatives and volunteers from the
United Pier & Shore Anglers, San Diego Rod & Reel Club, San Diego Anglers and the San Diego Fly Fishers will be on hand to assist young anglers and to tally points.

Sponsors include OKUMA Fishing Tackle, Turner’s Outdoorsman, Anglers Distributing, Squidco, Big Hammer Lures, Friends of Rollo, Costa Sunglasses, Uni Goop, Berkeley Big Gulp, Coastal
Conservation of California, Three Lollies, Mustad, Everingham Brothers Bait Co., Fathom Bistro at Shelter Island Pier, Fisherman’s Landing Tackle, Booyaa, San Diego Marine Exchange, Seeker Rods,
Point Loma Sportfishing, H&M Landing, Jamba Juice, USS Midway, Oggi’s and Corvette Diner.

Prizes and raffle drawing items for the tournament include rods and reels, hats, T-shirts, fishing gear, deep-sea
fishing trips, restaurant certificates and more .
The San Diego Sportfishing Council is a California non-profit corporation established in 1979 to promote San Diego saltwater fishing as an attractive marine recreational activity, to increase awareness and availability of “how, when and where” information on sportfishing opportunities.

The Young Anglers Tournament is part of a larger Youth Fishing Program produced by the Sportfishing Council.
For more information, please call the San Diego Sportfishing Council at (619) 234-8793 or log onto the website at: www.sportfishing.org.

Mountain Lion Tranquilized In San Mateo

First San Bruno, now San Mateo! Mountain lions – or at reported least sightings of the big cats – are all the rage in my hometown and the city where my three sisters now live (San Mateo).

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle:

A mountain lion was spotted walking around the backyard of a San Mateo home Monday morning and after almost a full day of attempting to safely corral the puma, wildlife officials successfully tranquilized it, authorities said.

San Mateo police officers responded to the call at about 9:30 a.m. and proceeded to search for the animal, which was estimated to be about 80 pounds, said Peter Tira, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

About two hours later, police located the animal less than a mile away on Alameda De Las Pulgas between Crystal Springs Road and Georgetown Avenue. 

The cat is expected to be relocated after it’s examined and fitted with a collar at UC Santa Cruz.