Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Promising 2015 Chinook Season Ahead?

At the annual salmon informational meeting held in Santa Rosa, state and federal fishery scientists presented encouraging news for sport and commercial salmon anglers.

Forecasts suggest there are 652,000 adult Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon in the ocean this year, along with 423,800 adults from the Klamath River fall run. Fish from these runs comprise the vast majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.


James Phillips holding a Chinook salmonC


These forecasts, which were higher than last year, will be used over the next few months by fishery managers to set sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas, and size and bag limits.

“The forecasts are encouraging and suggest that California fisheries may see salmon seasons in 2015 that have increased opportunities over last year,” said Melodie Palmer-Zwahlen, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chinook salmon that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2015 hatched 2-4 years ago and, as a result, have not been highly impacted by California’s drought. Starting next year, it is anticipated that future ocean salmon fishing opportunities may be impacted by the ongoing drought.

Photo by CDFW

Photo by CDFW

Season dates and other regulations will be developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and California Fish and Game Commission over the next few months. For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website, or call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Lake Del Valle Update


Here’s a fishing update from Capt. Dan Hollis of Livermore’s Lake Del Valle:

Stephanie Brocklesby with a

Stephanie Brocklesby with a 10-pound, 9-ounce rainbow caught on a gold Kastmaster. (LAKE DEL VALLE)

Water temperature climbed up to 58 degrees this week, shutting down the bite.  That quick change in temp gave the trout lockjaw not wanting to feed except early morning and in the last few hours of the day went the lake cools down.  Congratulations to Mr.Justin Huff who caught his first fish on Saturday, it was a 6.4-pound trout on Powerbait from the west area; nice fish, Justin.  Another fisherman who’s dominating the trout scene is Robert Bryan; in the last three weeks he has caught three trout over 10 pounds, including his 12.5-pounder he got this week. 

     Bass are starting to build beds and are in full-swing prespawn patterns.  Although they are still biting Robo Worms and Senkos, we are starting to catch them on crankbaits and jerkbaits worked slow over the visible beds.  Mostly smallmouth are being caught because the water is still a little chilly.  When the water warms up the largemouth will become super active and start to actively feed on the shad schools when they raise to the surface and move into the warmer water.  Until then, try bouncing a football jig through the beds, sometimes that will produce a very large fish either smallmouth or largemouth even big cats have been known to grab a jig if given the opportunity, especially if your using scent enhancers such as pro-cure, smelly jelly or countless others.  if you are going to jig for fish I strongly recommend a crawdad plastic trailer and the scents you use make sure it is crawdad.  Crawdaddys have a very unique smell in the aquatic world, because their one of the only freshwater crustaceans here in Del Valle so fish can zero in on it and know exactly what it is!
     Striped bass showed no interest in any lures or cut bait this week.  I heard there was a boil in swallow bay early in the morning but none of them hit the Heddon Zara spook that was thrown into the boil.  It’s still very early to be seeing boils but, the warm weather can cause premature spring activity.  If this warm weather continues we may see a phenomenal summer striper bite.  That’s all for this week Good luck.

888-327-2757 Option 3 ext. 4524



Coast Guard Licensing Rule Could Affect Bristol Bay Guides

Photo courtesy of Eli Huffman/Jakes Nushagak Camp

Photo courtesy of Eli Huffman/Jakes Nushagak Camp

Our sales manager, Brian Lull, brought this item to my attention. Lull spends time every summer in Bristol Bay helping out the guides at Jake’s Nushagak Salmon Camp, so the following report is near and dear to his heart:

Here’s Dillingham radio station KDLG (audio is available on the website):

 USCG moving guides to full OUVP (“six pack”) licenses on Western Alaska rivers. Lodge owners say change is not feasible for their industry now.

The U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of implementing new regulations that sport fishing lodges in Bristol Bay say will harm their business this year. …

What the Coast Guard is proposing are modifications to the licenses used by guides, and the requirements to get those licenses. In the past, Hodson’s guides could operate on a “limited” OUVP, or Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel. The change, however, will now restrict a person with that license to guiding on only three waterways, and the operator must have 90 days experience on each of those waterways.

“Which in our business is impossible. You take Kulik Lake, I mean how do you get a boat up there, and what are you going to camp for 90 days just to get a license to operate that river?”

Nor, he says, is operating on only three waterways feasible for a sportfishing guide in Bristol Bay.

“For me, because we fly out and fish so many different waterways, it makes the guide unemployable. Because I can’t use them anywhere except a very limited area.”


The Bristol Bay folks whose livelihood is the fishing industry are already fighting battles up there. Hang in there, everyone!

Returning Tagged Fish For Cash

Photo by CDFW

Photo by CDFW

In our March issue of California Sportsman, we’ll preview the upcoming Lake Isabella Fishing Derby, which in the past stocked tagged trout that meant cash prizes for contestants catching them. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is also encouraging Northern California salmon and steelhead anglers to also keep on the lookout for tags affixed to fish.

From the CDFW:

Successful north coast steelhead and salmon anglers could catch a $10-50 reward for returning their fish tags this season. Of the more than 4,500 fish that were tagged, 3,000 are eligible for a cash reward.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) uses information gathered from the tags applied to Chinook, coho and steelhead in the Trinity River system to calculate harvest and help biologists estimate population size of steelhead and salmon runs. Only tags returned to CDFW in the same season they are obtained can be used in estimates. The timely return of tags to CDFW is critical because the data is also needed for the annual season setting process.

Reward tags are clearly marked, though any tag returned is appreciated. The information non-reward tags is equally important to the process.  When the tag is returned, CDFW will send you information about where and when your fish was tagged, in addition to any reward for which you might qualify.

Anglers can download the tag return form

Tags should be taped to the completed form and returned to:

5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA  95521

Please remove the knot from the tag to ensure your envelope makes it through the USPS mail sorting process intact.

Tags need to be received by about the end of April, but the sooner the better for the Chinook tags. For additional information, please contact Mary Claire Kier at

CDFW On The Term ‘Unplugged’

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife



The California Department of Fish and Wildlife referred to “unplugged shotguns” in its 2014-15 Waterfowl Regulations Handbook pertaining to late-season waterfowl hunts. CDFW issued the following release to clarify that language and any confusion the wording may have caused:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) seeks to clear up an inadvertently included sentence in the 2014-2015 California Waterfowl Hunting Regulations that led to confusion about the use of an “unplugged” shotgun for late-season waterfowl hunts.

The language in question is included in the synopsis of current federal regulations, located at the back of this year’s California Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet. On Page 84, the booklet states that no person shall take migratory game birds:

“… with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. This restriction does not apply during dates States have selected under the Conservation Order for light geese (i.e. greater and lesser snow and Ross’s geese) or those selected for the control of resident Canada geese. (States insert appropriate dates for light goose only and Canada goose only seasons.)”

Please note that the section of the regulations underlined above is incorrect and does not apply anywhere in California. The plugged shotgun requirement remains in effect for all goose hunting seasons in California.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has primary jurisdiction over management of the nation’s waterfowl, does authorize the use of unplugged shotguns and other techniques in certain parts of the country, in specific circumstances when population reductions are desired. However, federal regulations do not provide for these exceptions in California.

Almost all of California’s wintering goose populations are at the highest levels in decades, resulting in liberal harvest limits and several special late season goose-only hunts around the state. While in the field, hunters can access the regulations via smartphone . The incorrect language relative to the unplugged shotguns has been removed in the online version.

CDFW apologizes for the confusion and will remove the inapplicable reference in next year’s regulations booklet.


Low Flow Waters Prompt New Regulations In Northern California

Low water on the Russian River could prompt fishing bans when its cubic feet per second level drops below 300. (FINLAY MCWALTER/WIKIMEDIA)

Low water on the Russian River could prompt fishing bans when its cubic feet per second level drops below 300. (FINLAY MCWALTER/WIKIMEDIA)


From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) informs anglers that sport fishing regulation changes have gone into effect for coastal streams in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties. The new regulations can be found in Title 14, California Code of Regulations, section 8.00 (b).

On December 3, 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted a regulation for annual Special Low Flow Conditions from October 1 through April 30 for coastal streams within the three counties. This regulation now bases flow closure conditions for Mendocino County streams on the Navarro River gauge near Navarro by establishing a minimum flow of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS gauging station on the main stem Navarro River near Navarro, Calif.

With the exception of the Russian River, coastal streams in Marin and Sonoma counties will be based on the South Fork Gualala River gauge near Sea Ranch with the establishment of a minimum flow of 150 cfs at the gauging station on the South Fork Gualala River near Sea Ranch (Sonoma County).

The new regulation also establishes low flow conditions for the Russian River in Mendocino and Sonoma counties based on the Russian River gauge near Guerneville. These streams will be closed to fishing when stream conditions fall below the minimum flow of 300 cfs at the gauging station located on the main stem Russian River near Guerneville (Sonoma County).

Low stream flow conditions prevent the movement of salmon and steelhead to their spawning grounds, increasing their vulnerability to predation, physiological stress and angling pressure. These coastal streams provide critical life-stage habitat for coastal Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout. All three of these species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Coho salmon is also listed under the California ESA.

In addition, CDFW will make low flow stream closure information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be open or closed to fishing. It shall be the responsibility of the angler to use the telephone number designated in the sport fishing regulations booklet to obtain information on the status of any stream.

The number for low flow stream closure information is (707) 822-3164 for Mendocino County and (707) 944-5533 for Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties.

Collins Lake Update


Here’s a fishing report from Collins Lake:

Nancy Stapp and Madelyn Baker

Nancy Stapp and Madelyn Baker

Incredible trout catches this week, the biggest one was 8 pounds on a stringer brought up by Nancy Stapp & Madeln Baker. They limited out and they trolled the east side either on a Rapala or Needlefish, the guys didn’t stand a chance with this duo.

Maggie Capitano

Maggie Capitano

Another lady angler from Marysville, Maggie Capitano hooked a 7-pound, 5-ounce ‘bow on a Flicker Shad Lure.

Little Mykala outdid her brother Dylan with her huge trout weighing in at 6-pounds, 4-ounces.

Mykala and Dylan

Mykala and Dylan


Angel Swan

Angel Swan

Angel Swan & Brandon trolled with worms on the east side and Angel’s big catch of the day included a hefty 7-pound rainbow.

With our trout planting season in full swing, the results are undeniably tremendous and will continue to get even better as we receive more plants and start to release some of the net pens beginning midMarch.

For more on Collins Lake, go to


Bone Dry January In San Francisco

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge stayed dry through January. (Chris Cocoles)

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge stayed dry through January. (Chris Cocoles)


This is not what the rain gods ordered this winter when it comes to getting out of California’s drought woes. San Francisco experienced a rain-free January for the first time in recorded history. Here’s some of the San Francisco Chronicle’s report, including some salvaged good news:


“We’re really concerned,” said apple grower Stan Devoto, owner of Devoto Gardens in Sebastopol.

Most of his orchards are dry farmed, meaning they rely on rain rather than irrigation. Without rain, the trees could die. Last year, he used a drip system on some trees to keep them alive.

 But Devoto is also worried about the warm weather. Apple trees need 600 to 1,000 hours of below 45-degree weather and they haven’t gotten that this year.

“It’s definitely going to affect the size of the fruit,” he said.

Yet even without a drop of rain in January, the Bay Area is officially above normal in rainfall for this time of year, Null said.

San Francisco is at 112 percent of normal while San Jose is at 131 percent, thanks to the deluge of 15 inches or more of rain in December.

But it’s going to have to start raining soon to maintain a normal pace for the season.

It looks like the area will some real rain Thursday evening or Friday. If it does, San Francisco will snap what will be 43 days of dry weather — the second longest winter dry spell.

The longest dry spell in winter months lasted 60 days, from Nov. 17, 1876, to Jan. 15, 1877, Null said.




Collins Lake Report

Ian and Gregory caught this trout at Collins Lake.

Ian and Gregory caught this trout at Collins Lake.


Kathy Hess of Collins Lake in the Sierra Nevada foothills filed this report:

Today, Collins Lake received 1,800 pounds of trout in our first private plant of this year. In this plant half the load is considered trophy-sized fish, while the other half of the fish are considered catchables. Next week we are on (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) schedule for a plant from them, then the following week (before President’s Weekend) we will get another 1,800 pounds of private stock! The weather has been so warm, perfect for camping as well as fishing so we chose to jump into our annual trout-stocking program a little earlier than normal.

This week produced another couple of 5-pound trout. The first was caught by Hilario Sandoval from Vacaville, and he used an orange/white PowerBait and hooked his from the shore in the campground.

Hilario Sandoval

Hilario Sandoval

Michael McGahan caught his limit of trout and his biggest weighed 5 pounds. Mike was trolling with Rapalas like he always does!

Michael McGahan

Michael McGahan


Paul and Dell Parker from Lincoln hooked onto a nice 3-pound, 12-ounce rainbow trout while fishing from the beach using a nightcrawler.

Dell and Paul Parker

Dell and Paul Parker


Two funny guys named “The Grease and “The Angel” fished off the beach as well using orange PowerBait and took home a nice stringer of trout (their biggest was 3 pounds, 8 ounces).

"The Grease" and "The Angel."

“The Grease” and “The Angel.”

Scott Edwards sent in a great photo of his trout catch from the beach and he used green PowerBait; his scale weighed it in at approximately 4½ pounds.

Scott Edwards

Scott Edwards

The Riewold and Vincent families fished the east bank using red PowerBait and netted a total of eight trout and they had a nice lunker that weighed 4 pounds.

The Riewold family.

The Riewold family.

Ian and Gregory (see photo at top) came up for the day to fish near the marina and caught a really good-looking trout using orange PowerBait.

For more on Collins Lake, located northeast of Sacramento between Grass Valley and Marysville, call (800) 286-0576 or go to



Red Fox Sighting At Yosemite

Courtesy of Yosemite N.P.

Courtesy of National Park Service


Last summer during a trip to Finland, Estonia and Latvia, my friend and I spent a couple nights at a remote guest house on massive but sparsely populated Saaremaa Island, Estonia on the Baltic Sea. We had just taken some pork fillets off the grill and were eating outside and washing down our meal with a couple of Estonian beers when we noticed a critter curiously walking from a nearby field toward us. I snapped this photo before it scooted away:

Photo by Chris Cocoles

Photo by Chris Cocoles


Our host didn’t speak a lot of English, so when I tried to tell him we saw a fox he didn’t do more than just nod his head and smile. But I thought it was pretty cool, and through some Internet research we concluded it was a red fox – ubiquitous throughout that part of the Northern Hempisphere – that graced its presence during our al fresco meal.

So the nerd in me got really fired up when I saw this report on a hardly seen Sierra Nevada red fox that was photographed at Yosemite National Park recently (pictured at the top of the page). Here’s a good look at what a Sierra red fox looks like:


A Sierra Nevada red fox in Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Keith Slausen/U.S. Forest Service)

A Sierra Nevada red fox in Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Keith Slausen/U.S. Forest Service)

Here’s the National Park Service release:

Yosemite National Park is excited to report the first confirmed sighting in the park of a rare Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) in nearly 100 years. Park wildlife biologists had gone on a five-day backcountry trip to the far northern part of the park to check on previously deployed motion-sensitive cameras. They documented a sighting of the fox on two separate instances (December 13, 2014 and January 4, 2015) within the park boundary. The Sierra Nevada red fox of California is one of the rarest mammals in North America, likely consisting of fewer than 50 individuals.
“We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada,” stated Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. “National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.”
“Confirmation of the Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite National Park’s vast alpine wilderness provides an opportunity to join research partners in helping to protect this imperiled animal,” stated Sarah Stock, Wildlife Biologist in Yosemite National Park. “We’re excited to work across our boundary to join efforts with other researchers that will ultimately give these foxes the best chances for recovery.”
The nearest verified occurrences of Sierra Nevada red foxes have been in the Sonora Pass area, north of the park, where biologists from U.C. Davis (UCD), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have been monitoring a small Sierra Nevada red fox population, first documented by the USFS in 2010. Prior to 2010, the last verified sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in the region was two decades ago.
The Yosemite carnivore crew will continue to survey for Sierra Nevada red fox using remote cameras in hopes of detecting additional individuals. At each camera station, the crew also set up hair snare stations in the hopes of obtaining hair samples for genetic analysis. Through genetic analysis, the park can learn more about the diversity within the population and to confirm whether the fox(es) detected in Yosemite is genetically related to individuals from the Sonora Pass area.
These Sierra Nevada red fox detections are part of a larger study funded by the Yosemite Conservancy to determine occurrence and distribution of rare carnivores in Yosemite National Park. Thank you to all our colleagues who have been helping us with this project in many important ways (UCD, USFS, CDFW, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, Bureau of Land Management, and Yosemite backcountry rangers and volunteers).