Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Wildfire Threat Prompts Closure Of Riverside County Reserve

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced the immediate closure of the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in Riverside County as a result of the Tenaja Incident (fire). Although the fire was largely under control as of Friday, Sept. 13, CDFW staff has closed the reserve to public access in order to perform repairs to critical infrastructure and allow firefighters to completely extinguish parts of the property that may still be smoldering.

The 7,500-acre reserve will be closed to all public access and activities, including biking, hiking and equestrian use, until further notice.

Hot Weather, Cold Bite In Old Stomping Ground

The following appears in the September issue of California Sportsman: 

By Chris Cocoles 

EL SOBRANTEI was the passenger in my sister Charlene’s SUV as we drove north up San Pablo Dam Road, and I felt a bit distracted. 

 Maybe it was the three impatient  dogs – highlighted by the youngest of the trio, hellraising puggle Nala – or what we were listening to on the local sports talk radio program during our drive from San Mateo to the East Bay. But really, I was anticipating what I hadn’t seen in so many years, and that was the shoreline of a special lake. 

San Pablo Reservoir was something of sacred water when I was a kid. It was a place that even in the urban sprawl of the Bay Area felt like a wilderness getaway when I was lucky enough to get across San Francisco Bay to try my luck for some of San Pablo’s trout.

 This has always been one of the local go-to spots for rainbows. I remember multiple opening-weekend trips here, when promises of trophy trout plants almost always resulted in at least a fish or two. 

Sometimes we’d simply fish from the shore next to the parking lot; on other days we’d rent a small motor boat and head across the lake to one of the most popular spots to anchor, Scow Canyon. There, you can anchor in a cove and cast some inflated nightcrawlers and lazily spend a morning in solitude despite being a few miles away from the clogged freeways and bumper-to-bumper chaos of the Bay Area. 

But I’d probably not seen that postcard view from San Pablo Dam Road for decades. Now I was back. I’d brought my sister, our three dogs and an August heatwave along for the ride. 

Photos by Charlene King/Chris Cocoles

DO YOU KNOW WHEN you’re older and haunts you once frequented as a youngster don’t seem as big and aren’t as dynamic as they once were? Confirmed. This was a letdown.  

We thought we’d missed the turn to get to the lake’s main recreation area until we found it. And my reunion with San Pablo Reservoir wasn’t what I hoped for. I envisioned a summer Monday morning with a bunch of boats leaving the marina; kids and their dads unpacking tackle from their cars; other dogs for ours to geek out over the potential of meeting and interacting with; a long line in the tackle shop and fish tales being swapped. Instead, I found Tombstone  a fishing ghost town. 

The parking lot was darn near empty and the store was until I walked in and gave the poor woman working her shift with a sale to make (the park entrance fee, a required East Bay Municipal Utility District fishing permit and some bait). 

I asked what the catfish were biting on – trout fishing usually slows down in the summer after the plants end in June – and she convinced me that a container of frozen chicken livers was as good an option as any other. Sold. 

Needless to say, we didn’t have many anglers to crowd once we somehow got the pups, my German shepherd/Lab mix Emma and Charlene’s puggles Nala and Angel, leashed and somewhat controlled enough to transport them and our gear to down to a spot a short walk away. Just one other brave soul was already fighting a rising sun that would spawn a high of about 83 degrees that day. 

I went to college in Fresno,  worked in the Southland high desert of Lancaster and also in the humidity of northwest Arkansas, so I have a history of living in the heat. But about 30 minutes into this fishing foray it already felt like a scorcher. 

My companions on this day? Forget it. Charlene has spent her entire life on the Peninsula, where it rarely gets above 72 degrees. The dogs struggled to sit still and quickly tripped over each other to suck down the bottle of water we poured into a bowl. Sister and canines hung around for a while but retreated to a nearby covered picnic table for some shade.

I was going to carry on. 

Pups Nala, Angel and Emma did their best to keep cool in the summer heat. (CHARLENE KING)

MY FIRST SIGN THAT this wouldn’t be a turn-back-the-clock day to past San Pablo Reservoir glory was keeping my chicken livers on the hook. When I first opened the container their frozen state made them difficult to get on the hook. Still, I was teased into thinking there was some hope. 

My line tugged ever so slightly before straightening out just as fast. I reeled in, noticed my naked hook and convinced myself it was must have been a clever catfish that stole the bait. As the weather got warmer, the bite would also heat up. My sister and the pups walked back down to me, sweated a bit more and then fled. Who could blame them?

The guy down the shoreline near me looked as bored as I was and eventually waved his white flag and departed. Flies invaded the ground when a piece of chicken liver fell off my hook as I reeled in. One boat cruised by, invoking some memories of past trips to Scow Canyon. But this wasn’t Once Upon a Time in El Sobrante. There would be no fishing fairy tale or Tarantino-directed revisionist history on this day. 

By 11 a.m., we gave up and settled for eating an alfresco burrito lunch at a taqueria just down the road in Orinda. 

Still, it was a great morning. I went back to my roots, something that just never seemed to be in the cards during all my return trips to the Bay Area since I’ve moved away. I’ll go back sometime, most likely when the weather is cooler and the trout are active. 

That’s what I remember most about this place. CS

Photos by Chris Cocoles

 

Lake Camanche Angler Catches Massive Bass

Photo courtesy of Andrew Schmidgall/Facebook.

The Stockton Record has more on a 14-plus-pound bass caught earlier this month at the Mother Lode-area’s Lake Camanche:

After returning from a six-week road trip, Andrew Schmidgall of Lake Camanche Village had an epic fishing day on Sept. 2 when he caught and released a 14.71 lb. largemouth bass at Camanche. He was using a Wicked Weights jig on a ledge in the main body at 25 to 30 feet deep when he hooked the monster fish.

“This is my new personal-best bass,” said Schmidgall. “It took about 10 minutes to bring in. It was the fish of a lifetime; I don’t know if I will be able to beat it.” …

…While this was a huge bass, it was the second biggest landed at the reservoir this year to date. Tim Wells of Clovis caught and released a 15.01-pound largemouth while using a drop shot rig on March 16.

New Lawsuit Fights California Hunting Regulations Involving GPS Collars On Dogs

Animal rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging a California regulation that allows hunters’ dogs to wear GPS collars. Here’s more from the Associated Press:

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which filed the lawsuit last week in Sacramento Superior Court, called the hunting method “unusually cruel and unfair.” Tracking devices allow dogs to chase prey to the point of exhaustion, and then hunters follow the GPS signal to find an animal that can no longer flee and is easily shot, the group said.

The lawsuit was joined by the Public Interest Coalition and Friends of Animals. It targets the California Fish and Game Commission, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

Conservation Groups Applaud Plan To Clean Up Central Valley Habitat

The following press release is courtesy of various conservation groups via the law offices of attorney Stephan C. Volker:

On Friday, September 6, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed commercial and sports fishermen, biologists and conservation groups a major victory in their efforts to clean up contaminated discharges from the Central Valley’s Grasslands Bypass Project.  Owned and operated by the federal Bureau of Reclamation and local irrigation districts, the Project collects wastewater from 97,400 acres of farmed and unfarmed lands within California’s Central Valley.  The Project discharges substantial quantities of selenium and other pollutants into state and federal wildlife refuges and thence the San Joaquin River, the Delta and San Francisco Bay.  The Court unanimously reversed Federal District Judge Kimberly Mueller’s dismissal of their lawsuit against the Project, ruling that a Clean Water Act discharge permit is required for the Project despite the Act’s exemption of return flows from irrigated agriculture so long as any part of its wastewater is generated by activities unrelated to crop production.

In reaching its decision, the Court issued three landmark rulings under the Clean Water Act’s exemption for discharges from irrigated agriculture.  First, the Court held that the Defendants had the burden of establishing that their discharges were “composed entirely of return flows from irrigated agriculture.”  Second, the Court held that the exception was limited to “only those flows that do not contain additional discharges from activities unrelated to crop production.”  Third, the Court held that the District Judge erred in ruling that the exemption applied so long as a “majority” of the wastewater originated from agricultural activities.  The Court ruled that only those discharges that are composed entirely of return flows from irrigated agriculture were exempt.

 Applying these rulings to the commingled discharges of the Grasslands Bypass Project, the Court held that all of the Plaintiffs’ claims should proceed.  First, the commingled discharges from a solar project were not exempt even though they did not comprise a majority of the Project’s wastestream, since only those discharges that “were composed entirely of return flows from irrigated agriculture were exempt.”  Second, the Court overturned the District Judge’s dismissal of the Plaintiffs’ claims regarding polluted ground water that seeped into the Project’s massive drain from unfarmed lands including highways and residences.  Because those commingled discharges were not composed entirely of return flows from irrigated agriculture, they did not fall within the exemption.  Third, the Court held the fact that these non-exempt flows were commingled with discharges from irrigated agriculture did not bring them within the exemption.

Accordingly, because all of the Project’s discharges are commingled, all of the Plaintiffs’ claims were proper.  Therefore the Court reversed the District Judge’s dismissal of them.

The Plaintiffs praised the Court’s ruling.  Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, stated:  “We are gratified that the Ninth Circuit agreed with our arguments and held the Bureau of Reclamation to account for discharging massive quantities of pollutants into the San Joaquin River, the Bay-Delta Estuary, and ultimately San Francisco Bay without the discharge permit that is required under the Clean Water Act.  This ruling will help protect the salmon and salmon fishing jobs that require a healthy Delta free of toxic discharges from the San Joaquin drainage, as well as restore the vast populations of salmon and steelhead that historically swam up the Delta and the San Joaquin River.”

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, stated: “After decades of inaction by our federal government to halt the contamination that has destroyed habitat for our fish and wildlife, it is reassuring to see our federal court issue a strong ruling enforcing the Clean Water Act’s mandate for fishable and swimable rivers.”

Stephan Volker, Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs, agreed that “the Court’s Ruling ends over forty years of evasion of the Clean Water Act’s strict requirement for discharge permits.  We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit issued a well-reasoned ruling enforcing this vital statute and protecting our rivers.”

Gov. Newsom Acts To Ban Trapping In California; Sportsmen’s Alliance Reacts

Governor Gavin Newsom announce he was banning recreational trapping in California, the first state to do so. Needless to say, that won’t go over well in the sportsmen and -women community.  First, here’s the Los Angeles Times on the decision by the governor:

The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, prohibits commercial or recreational trapping on both public and private lands.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who introduced the legislation, said it was time to end fur trapping. “It seems especially cruel, obviously, and it’s just unnecessary and costly,” she said. …

Gonzalez said that the roughly six dozen trappers still working in the state, down from more than 5,000 a century ago, cannot afford to pay the full cost of implementing and regulating their industry.

Soon after the announcement, the Sportsmen’s Alliance reacted to the decision. Here’s part of the statement from the alliance (read the complete message in the link above:

“By eliminating all trapping, Gov. Newsome and the California legislature have removed an important wildlife management tool, and it is highly likely that residents of California will see an increase in unwanted encounters with wildlife, the possibility of increased rabies outbreaks and increased budget issues as the state will require more resources to deal with the fallout.”

 

 

 

Tree Squirrel Hunting Season Looming In California

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

California’s 2019-2020 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

California received above-average rainfall during 2018-19, with a particularly wet spring season. “With a return to favorable weather patterns, and good acorn production, there should be ample opportunities to hunt tree squirrels this year,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program.

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

Great Bassing Opportunities Available With The Ojai Angler

The following is courtesy of the Ojai Angler:

The Largemouth Bass are defiantly ACTIVE!! Yahoo!  Catching them on plastic’s Robo Worms and Lunker Potion fish attractant. Open dates are  TOMORROW Friday Sept. 6th, Sat, Sept. 7th and Sunday Sept. 3-7pm.  Monday 9th-15th open. Let me know if you have a date in mind, we would love to hook you up! Lots of Pictures and Videos on the Instragram and Facebook accounts. Recent catches! Talk or Text 805-701-2835

 

     

This is great introductory to teach beginners and experienced anglers alike. Successfully catching Bass and some redear perch.  Perch are feisty and aggressive fun to catch too!

CELEBRATING 23 YEARS OF GUIDING AT LAKE CASITAS

Thank you to all of our wonderful clients that support our service year after year!

Visit us on FacebookInstagramYelp, and TripAdvisor We do have so many wonderful testimonials. With the new times changing over to social media and reviews, we would love to hear from you!  We appreciate any referrals!

 

Sincerely, Amy and Marc Mitrany
Call or text 1-805-701-2835 for Reservations

Upland Bird Seasons Cranking Up For California Hunters

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

The 2019-20 general upland game bird hunting season will open in mid-September for several species in specific zones around the state, providing hunters with many opportunities to bring home some delicious table fare.

September openers include quail (Zone Q1 opens for mountain quail on Sept. 14, and Zone Q2 will be open for all quail on Sept. 28), sooty and ruffed grouse (general season will open in various northern and eastern counties on Sept. 14), white-tailed ptarmigan (which will open Sept. 14) and band-tailed pigeon (the northern hunt zone will open Sept. 21).

Please note that as of July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) nonlead ammunition page.

Zone maps and information about daily bag limits and possession limits for each game bird species can be found on the CDFW Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage. Additional information about each species can be found below.

Quail

Quail are some of the state’s most popular native game birds. There are three species of quail found in California: California quail, mountain quail and Gambel’s quail. California quail (the state bird) are common and widespread throughout the state in low to mid-elevation brushy habitats with good cover and abundant food. Mountain quail are found in higher elevation habitats. Gambel’s quail are California’s most desert-adapted species and are found in the very arid lands of southeastern California.

The early mountain quail-only season starts on Sept. 14 in Zone Q1 and continues through Oct. 18, covering much of the mountainous region of northern and eastern California. On Sept. 28, the early general quail season opens in Zone Q2 for all quail species in several north coast counties. The remainder of the state will open to quail hunting on Oct. 19 and extend through Jan. 26, 2020. Finally, an additional two-day early hunt season will be open on Oct. 5-6 in Mojave National Preserve for hunters with junior hunting licenses.

CDFW is offering fall hunts for quail (and wild chukar) throughout the state. Special drawings for public land quail and chukar hunts through the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunt Program are available in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, and drawings for hunts on private ranches (offered through the SHARE Program) will be available in Tulare and Santa Barbara counties. Hunters can apply for these opportunities online, at CDFW license sales officesthrough retail license agents or by calling (800) 565-1458.

For all quail species, the daily bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag.

All three native species of quail are characterized by high reproductive potential associated with adequate and well-timed winter and early spring precipitation. Northern California experienced increased precipitation this spring, benefitting quail habitat and productivity. Hunters should experience good populations of quail this fall.

All three species of quail are most active in the early morning and later afternoon and move in large coveys throughout the day. Quail have distinctive calls that can provide clues to the birds’ location. Quail are more apt to run than flush, making them a more challenging game bird to hunt. Hunting dogs can be useful for locating, flushing and retrieving birds in the field.

Quail can be successfully hunted with legal gauge shotguns. A modified or improved cylinder choke is recommended to avoid damage to the bird. Because of the dense brush habitats where they are usually hunted, downed quail can be hard to find. Despite this challenge, CDFW reminds hunters that wasting game is both unethical and illegal.

Forest Grouse

California has two species of native forest-dwelling grouse: the sooty grouse and the ruffed grouse. Sooty grouse occur in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and northern Coast ranges while the ruffed grouse is restricted to the northwestern part of the state. The general hunting season for both species extends from Sept. 14 to Oct. 14 this year. For sooty and ruffed grouse, the daily bag limit is two (both of one species or mixed species) and possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Although they are fairly large birds, grouse camouflage themselves well and generally hold tight to their location even when hunters are nearby. They flush quickly and fly off in a zigzag pattern, requiring a quick and accurate response from a hunter. Dogs are useful companions to help hunters find, flush and retrieve bagged grouse.

Ptarmigan

The white-tailed ptarmigan is a non-native grouse that was introduced by CDFW to the Sierra Nevada in the early 1970s. This is the smallest species of ptarmigan and the only one found in California. They inhabit the high elevation alpine habitats at low densities from Sonora Pass in Tuolumne County to Kings Canyon National Park.

Hunting these birds can be challenging because of the high elevation and steep terrain. Hunting is permitted from Sept. 14-22. The daily bag limit is two per day and the possession limit is two per season. Hunters should prepare for difficult hiking conditions and be familiar with the area before heading out after this game bird.

 Band-tailed Pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is California’s only native pigeon and is a close relative of the extinct passenger pigeon. They look similar to the introduced domestic or rock pigeons that frequent urban areas. Band-tailed pigeons are often found in mountainous terrain throughout the state, using coniferous forests as well as oak woodlands, but populations are migratory and movements can be unpredictable.

The northern California hunt zone season runs from Sept 21-29. The daily bag limit is two and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. The southern hunt zone does not open until December.

CDFW reminds hunters that an upland game bird stamp is required for licensed adult hunters (18 years and older) but not for hunters with a valid junior hunting license. A HIP validation is also required to hunt band-tailed pigeons.

Fish And Game Commission Names New Executive Director

The following is courtesy of the California Fish and Game Commission:

The California Fish and Game Commission announced today that Melissa Miller-Henson has been selected to serve as its executive director.
Ms. Miller-Henson has worked for the Commission for the last seven years as the program manager, deputy executive director and, over the last year, acting executive director.
“We’re very pleased that Ms. Miller-Henson is willing to serve this historic Commission in a new capacity,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “She has a passion for the work of the Commission and brings a forward-thinking, innovative and collaborative approach to the job. She has demonstrated skill in working with diverse groups of stakeholders to address complex issues that she will continue to apply to the benefit of the state.”
Prior to the Commission, Ms. Miller-Henson directed the California Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision Project, managed the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and served under five secretaries of the California Natural Resources Agency.
“We look forward to Ms. Miller-Henson’s continuing guidance at the dais,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “She has the trust of many stakeholders and understands the Commission’s vast authorities. She brings expertise in collaborative problem-solving and has a strong vision for the future of the Commission.”
Ms. Miller-Henson officially begins in her new capacity on September 10.