Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Placerville Wildfire “Highest Priority Fire In The Nation”

(BLAINE INGLIS/USFWS)

(BLAINE INGLIS/USFWS)

 

 

It’s been a tough month in California for wildfires. Up and down the state, blazes have kept firefighters busy. In total, six Northern California fires burned 275,000 acres. The worst currently is the King Fire  in and around Placerville, east of Sacramento on the way to South Lake Tahoe.

From the Associated Press:

The fire has burned through 145 square miles since it started Sept. 13. It has destroyed 12 homes and is threatening another 12,000.

Containment was up to nearly 40 percent, but crews were expecting another day of gusty winds and low humidity Wednesday before the arrival of cooler, wetter weather.

“We’re not sitting back and waiting,” said state fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean. “We have crews trying to get those containment lines strengthened.”

Nearly 2,000 firefighters were brought in as reinforcements Tuesday, bringing the total to about 7,400.

“This is the highest priority fire in the nation,” McLean said

The wildfire, which authorities believe was deliberately set, is threatening about 21,000 structures, more than half of them homes.

Best wishes to all the fire crews, those who have lost their homes and those hoping their homes will be spared.

 

NSSF, California Waterfowl Team To Support ChildSafe Program

ChildSafe Shooting Sports California Waterfowl

Teaming up for a great cause.

CALIFORNIA WATERFOWL BACKS NSSF’s
PROJECT CHILDSAFE® PROGRAM

 

[NEWTOWN, Conn and ROSEVILLE, Calif] – The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF®) announced today that California Waterfowl, California’s leading, waterfowl, wetlands and hunting heritage conservation organization, has become a promotional supporter of NSSF’s Project ChildSafe® Program, which focuses on storing firearms responsibly when not in use.

“We are proud to join forces with Project ChildSafe to share its important message with our members and all gun-owning Californians: Responsible gun ownership means taking all possible steps to help prevent children from handling guns without supervision, risking injury to themselves and others,” said California Waterfowl President John Carlson, Jr.

“We’re excited to work with an organization that has handed out 36 million free gun safety kits, and we look forward with helping Project ChildSafe distribute even more information and tools for storing firearms responsibly throughout California.”

NSSF, the trade association of the firearms industry, launched Project ChildSafe in 1999 as a nationwide initiative to promote firearms responsibility and provide safety education to all gun owners. In providing its support, California Waterfowl joins a growing list of leaders in the hunting conservation and shooting sports industries that have endorsed and supported Project ChildSafe’s mission.

California Waterfowl’s involvement will help spread NSSF’s message of “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.SM” through outreach to members, events, and social media outreach.

“Responsible storage is the number one way to help prevent firearm accidents in the home,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti.  “We’re so pleased to have California Waterfowl and its members involved in this program.”

###

About Project ChildSafe: NSSF, the trade association of the firearms industry, launched Project ChildSafe in 1999 (prior to 2003 the program was called Project HomeSafe) as a nationwide initiative to promote firearms responsibility and provide safety education to all gun owners. Since 1999, the program has provided more than 36 million free firearm safety kits that include a gun lock to gun owners in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. That’s in addition to the more than 70 million free locking devices manufacturers have included, and continue to include, with new firearms sold since 1998. While helping to prevent accidents among children is a focus, Project ChildSafe is intended to help adults practice greater firearm safety in the home. More information is available at www.projectchildsafe.org.

About California Waterfowl: California Waterfowl, founded in 1945, is a nonprofit organization that conserves California’s waterfowl, wetlands and hunting heritage. Visit CWA at www.calwaterfowl.org

Deer Hunters: Check For Wildfire Closures

Firefighters work to help contain the Yosemite Rim Fire earlier this year. (USFWS)

Firefighters work to help contain the Yosemite Rim Fire earlier this year. (USFWS)

Update: Here’s a link that all fire victims should check out:

An In-Depth Guide to Financial Emergency Preparedness

With the coming weeks some of California’s prime deer hunting opportunities, the state’s swatch of wildfires that has affected areas throughout the state.  There are fires in Siskiyou, El Dorado, – those two blazes have been among the most devastating – Madera, Mono, Alpine and Orange Counties.

Deer hunters should be advised about potential areas that will be closed due to the wildfires. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released this statement today:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) advises deer hunters to check for fire closures before heading into the field for upcoming deer hunts. Drought and extremely dangerous fire conditions have combined in many areas of the state to ignite several large wildfires in many popular deer hunting areas.

Some areas of public land and roads have been closed to protect public safety. Deer hunting season opens in some of these areas over the next few weeks.

The U.S. Forest Service’s most updated closure information can be found at inciweb.nwcg.gov/closures/.

CAL FIRE’s most updated closure information can be found atcdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current.

King Fire closure information for deer zones D3-5 can be found at

www.fs.usda.gov/detail/eldorado/news-events/?cid=STELPRD3817315.

Hunters are urged to check these links frequently in order to obtain the most up-to-date information. Although some hunting areas may be closed, there is still plenty of public land where deer hunters can find hunting opportunities.

Detailed information and maps of California deer zones can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/zonemapsinfo.html .

Deer season opening and closing dates by zone can be found atdfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=84116.

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that hunters do their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more atwww.preventwildfireca.org/OneLessSpark/.

Monster Sac River King

As you’ll read about in the October issue of California Sportsman, water levels in the Sacramento River are low but spirits optimistic king fishing will pick up in October with the promise of cooler temperatures. But as Manuel Saldana Jr. of Marysville-based MSJ Guide Service told me, some September days have been productive.

And there are some giant kings in the river, as this one was courtesy of Kirk Portocarrero of Sac River Guide.

 

A huge Sacramento River king salmon caught on Sept. 18. (SAC RIVER GUIDE)

A huge Sacramento River king salmon caught on Sept. 18. (SAC RIVER GUIDE)

Here’s another productive day, courtesy of Manuel Saldana Jr.’s MSJ Guide Service.

Some excellent king salmon caught in the Sacramento this month. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

Some excellent king salmon caught in the Sacramento this month. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

 

Fall Hunts Offered

Parts of California are slowly – and considering I just spent a weekend in Fresno visiting college friends and sweltered in 104-degree temperatures, very slowly – transitioning into fall. And that means some hunting opportunities, including the following co-sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement.

Dove is among several species offered in fall California hunts. (TIM HOVEY)

Dove is among several species offered in fall California hunts. (TIM HOVEY)

Here’s the CDFW release:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program is offering wild pig, waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunting opportunities on three different properties.

For the first time, SHARE is holding wild pig hunts at Rush Ranch in southern Solano County. Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open space area bordered by the Suisun Marsh near Fairfield. There will be eight hunt periods from November to February with two permits per period which will be good for two hunters each. Hunters will be randomly drawn for each of the eight periods. SHARE hunters will have access to 1,000 acres of the ranch and will be allowed to camp in a designated area for no extra fee. Method of take for these hunts will be restricted to archery, crossbow or shotgun slugs only.

SHARE is offering three semi-guided wild pig hunts in December, January and February on the Tejon Ranch in Kern County. Six permits, good for two hunters each, will be randomly drawn for each period. These 2.5-day group pig hunts include lodging, meals and a guide that will provide advice on techniques and areas of the ranch to focus hunting efforts. Hunters are allowed to take one pig each during this hunt.

SHARE is offering waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunts on the wildlife management area at the Merced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The property is located five miles south of the city of Merced with 300 acres open for hunting. Tucked between sloughs and agricultural fields, the seasonal pond and wetland area provides cover and forage for waterfowl, dove and pheasant.

For more information about each SHARE property, the opportunities available and how to apply for the hunts, please go towww.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share/.

A non-refundable application fee of $11.06 will be charged for each hunt choice. Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) by visiting www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/.

The SHARE program has partnered with the California Waterfowl Association (CWA) to offer public hunting opportunities on private lands for fall hunts. California Waterfowl’s Hunt Program has expanded and is now offering additional hunting opportunities, including the recently acquired Goose Lake Wildlife Management Area located approximately eight miles south of Kern National Wildlife Refuge. For a full description of the hunts offered through CWA and step-by-step instructions on how to apply, visit CWA online at www.calwaterfowl.org.

These hunting opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California.

There Be Whale Sharks Here

PHOTO BY NOAA

PHOTO BY NOAA

 

While drought-stricken California is losing hope this year’s El Niño will being badly-needed rain, the warmer Pacific Ocean water temperatures has attracted plenty of nontraditional fish species further north than usual.

Near Catalina Island, a fishing boat spotted a whale shark, which is almost never seen that far north from its usual warmer waters in the Pacific.

From Phil Friedman Outdoors, which includes video of the massive but mellow creature:

Captain Ryan Gengler of the Triton from Long Beach Sportfishing could not believe his eyes when the mammoth creature appeared. “We were about 7 miles east of the east end of Catalina Island when I saw it,” said Gengler. “I could not believe my eyes.”

The whale shark seemed very curious swimming around the fishing vessel and bumping into it several times. “He was curious, almost playful,” said Gengler. “When he bumped into us, you could feel the boat shake.”

Ryan and Brad Schlerf were on board hoping to catch some yellowfin tuna in one of the most prolific tuna seasons in decades in Southern California. Instead, they saw something that few people have ever witnessed; a whale shark in Southern California. “It was huge; I couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” said Ryan Schlerf. “It was as if we had been transported to another world,” said his brother Brad. “I will never, ever forget this day.”

The two brothers said it was a bit unnerving when the peaceful creature bumped in to the boat. “It bumped in to us two times; you could feel the whole boat shutter,” said Brad Schlerf. “The Captain wanted to leave but he was being very careful not to hurt the whale shark saying he wanted to be sure it wasn’t under the boat when he started up and took off,” said Ryan Schlerf.

Lake Jennings Fishing Report

El Cajon's Brian, Daniel and Grace Martin teamed with Chris Flor to catch 15 catfish totaling 60 pounds, using mackerel. (LAKE JENNINGS)

El Cajon’s Brian, Daniel and Grace Martin teamed with Chris Flor to catch 15 catfish totaling 60 pounds, using mackerel. (LAKE JENNINGS)

Southern California had a scorching weekend with temperatures soaring around 100 degrees. Lake Jennings (lakejennings.org) has the perfect remedy to beat the late-summer heat in and around San Diego: night fishing!

Here’s the report from the lake’s Francine Thompson:

 

As we do our best to cope with September’s heat, remember that the evenings cool down, and what better thing to do

than fish? The night fishing continues for the rest of September, but the number of channel cats stocked combined

with our existing population will last year round. On top of that, historically the catfishing steps up a level in

September, and that’s one of the biggest reasons for the extended night fishing season. Many of you over the past

several years comment on how good the catfishing starts to get just when the season ends, so here’s your opportunity

to come out and get ‘em. Lake Jennings has one more stocking for this season that will occur mid-month. Please

remember, Lanterns are required to be at the lake after dark, and Night Fishing is only on Fridays and Saturdays.

The redear and bluegill continue to produce high numbers if you can tolerate the heat. Fish for bit, take a break and

grab a bite to eat and plenty of water, and then go back out. Your permit is good from open to close. Not every place

around the lake will produce high numbers, and you will need to work for them. Check out the information provided

below for some tips.

The bass bite continues to be fair throughout the day but has had very good improvement during the evening. Night

fishing is not just for catfish. The lake water level will drop more over the next month and with the drop everything is

on the move, bait and fish.

Keep on the lookout for the announcement of the change to the upcoming trout season. Hopefully you will be as

excited as we are!!

Lake Jennings Campground continues to draw in campers from all over and if you haven’t made your reservation yet

don’t wait any longer. If you like to have your camping experience a bit less occupied then come out during the week

from Sunday through Thursday. The next long-term (minimum 30 days) reservations start in October so make plans

soon because we will sell out for the next six months.

For more updates and/or to post comments, visit www.LakeJennings.org and “Like Us” on Facebook or go to

Facebook.com and search “Lake Jennings Recreation.” Other option are to visit the Lake Jennings website, check out

the Lake Jennings Bulletins at the lake and campground or you can sign up for the Weekly Report and have

information sent right to your email.

 

Lake Del Valle Fishing Report

A fishing report from Livermore’s Lake Del Valle:

 

Mike Schley with a 7.7-pound catfish. (LAKE DEL VALLE)

Mike Schley with a 7.7-pound catfish. (LAKE DEL VALLE)

 

Lake Del Valle Fishing Report September 12, 2014

For this week’s report we had a few catches and some fisherman have some luck than some don’t. Weather was nice with decent temperatures and but the bite isn’t steady. The water temperature is 75 degrees at the end dock and the clarity’s almost clear with a five foot visibility. Stripers are boiling in the afternoons around the Narrows area and in front of the reeds across from the Marina. They are still biting out at the Dam on Anchovies or using lures. Catfish are still biting on Anchovies or you can try stink bait, in the Narrows, South End, Heron Bay or the Dam area. Smallmouth bass bite is doing decent, Doc Al had nice numbers of them last week catching them on Panther Martins trolling in 20 feet deep water. You can also use lures or drop shotting may give you some luck too. As for Largemouth try the mornings with top waters but there is no specific areas. There was a catfish plant today (Sept. 12) of pounds and there was a Mt. Lassen trout plant out at the Dam on Sept. 11) of 1,000 pounds. Good luck to you all!

 

Doc Al’s Fishing Report September 4, 2014

 

Luke Voroschuck of Santa Cruz with a striper stringer totaling 9.6 pounds. (LAKE DEL VALLE)

Luke Voroschuck of Santa Cruz with a striper stringer totaling 9.6 pounds. (LAKE DEL VALLE)

Al Hurwitz of Saratoga and Abbey Lev of Sunnyvale are again having success catching Smallmouth Bass. They landed 23 fish today, while hooking up with 30 or more all told (seven fish didn’t stay pinned). In the mix of fish landed, there were 21 Smallmouths, the largest pair of these weighing 1.5-plus pounds. There was also a nice 2-pound largemouth bass caught, along with a 17.5-inch striped bass. All fish were released. Once more the best lures for us were Panther Martins trolled at 2.0 to 2.5 mph, catching most fish 20-25 feet below the surface in a 35- to 40-foot water column. Scent on the lures helps the bite. The water remains quite clear. Surface temperature was 76 to 78 degrees. Fish were caught all over the lake. The aggressiveness of the smallmouth bite is very evident. I suspect that other hard baits and soft baits will also work, provided they are at the right depth, relate to under water structure and surface points, and “match the hatch” (threadfin shad). For those wanting a lot of fun with this “catch-and-release” approach to some great fresh water fishing, go after the “smallies”.-Dr. Al Hurwitz

 

Mountain Lion Believed To Be Responsible For Attacking Boy (updated)

PHOTO BY CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

PHOTO BY CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

 

Update: Forensics confirmed this was the mountain lion that attacked the boy.

————————

The mountain lion attack of a young hiker in Cupertino reached what it is believed to be – by process of elimination and guesswork, hardly 100 percent certainty – a conclusion when California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers killed a mountain lion, though there’s no guarantee it was the mountain lion, that injured the 6-year-old boy who was hiking on the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail in Santa Clara County.

From the San Jose Mercury News report:

The 65-pound juvenile male mountain lion was killed with a rifle shot near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail — just 130 yards from the attack site — late Wednesday morning after the cat displayed unusually aggressive behavior after dogs had chased it into a tree. There, it was crouching and fixating on a wildlife officer, said Lt. Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Lt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife gives the media an update on the search for a mountain lion near the Picchetti Winery along Montebello Rd. in Cupertino, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. A six-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion alongside one of the hiking trails near the winery yesterday afternoon. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group) (Gary Reyes)

The fact that the un-collared mountain lion was so close to the attack site, coupled with the territorial behavior, indicated that it was a local lion and was most probably involved in the incident Sunday as opposed to one that was passing through the area, Foy added.

“Everything about (the attack) was so vastly beyond our scope, beyond any statistical reason why lions do what they do, that there is no way to explain why he attacked,” Foy said.

Foy added that while no one wanted to shoot and kill the cat, the animal’s extreme aggression while it was perched high up in a tree left the department little choice.

Here’s the CDFW’s report on the killing:

A 65-pound male mountain lion was killed with a rifle shot near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail area this morning in an effort to protect public safety relating to a lion attack several days earlier.

Two families were hiking on a marked trail in Cupertino on Sunday, Sept. 7 when a mountain lion attacked one of the children. According to the adults in the group, the 6-year-old boy was walking only 10 feet in front of the others, when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked him. The boy was transported to the hospital with serious but non-life threatening puncture wounds and released the next day.

Wildlife experts went to the scene of the attack and picked up the cat’s scent. After three days of investigating within a one-mile radius from the attack site, the experts and specialized tracking dogs found a cat and treed it approximately130 yards from the attack site. The cat was about 70 feet up in the tree and tranquilizing it was not a reasonable option and the fall would have killed it anyway.

The cat displayed unusually aggressive behavior while treed, crouching and fixating on a wildlife officer. The fact that it was so close to the attack site, coupled with the territorial behavior, likely indicates that this was a local lion probably involved in the incident as opposed to one that was passing through the area. CDFW’s wildlife investigation lab will be conducting a full forensics investigation, comparing evidence gathered at the attack to confirm the identity of the cat.

No one at the department wanted to destroy this animal but protecting public safety is a first and foremost priority. Relocation of mountain lions is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In this instance, the lion was not eligible because it had attacked a human. CDFW’s mountain lion policy can be found here: Human/Wildlife Interactions in California: Mountain Lion Depredation, Public Safety, and Animal Welfare. The policy is based on structured decision-making protocol that includes non-lethal and relocation options, but prioritizes public safety in the event of attacks or threats on humans.

Authorities will conduct a complete necropsy, making the rabies test a priority as well as the gathering of additional forensic information to assess the health of the cat.

An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions live in California. For information about how to stay safe when living or recreating in mountain lion territory, please visithttp://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html

 

 

Mountain Lion Attack In Bay Area

Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

 

The Bay Area, particularly on the Peninsula in San Mateo County, has seen its share of mountain lion sightings. A little further south in Cupertino (Santa Clara County), a 6-year-old boy was attacked and injured by a mountain lion on a rural trail.

Here’s a California Department of Fish and Wildlife release: 

A 6-year-old boy hiking with a large group of people was attacked by a mountain lion in a rural area west of Cupertino on Sunday afternoon. The child is expected to survive, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is actively searching for the animal.

Two families were hiking the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail area of the Mid-Peninsular Regional Open Space District when the attack occurred. According to the adults in the group, the 6-year-old was walking only 10 feet in front of the others, when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked him. With a firm biting grip on the boy’s head and neck, the cat began dragging the child into the brush.

The two adult men ran toward the lion, shouting aggressively. The cat let the boy go and ran off. Family members carried the boy back down the trail to their vehicles, where they called for help. The boy was transported to Valley Medical Center in San Jose with serious but non-life threatening puncture wounds and scratches.

District Park Rangers have closed the section of the park where the attack occurred until further notice. CDFW and USDA Wildlife Services are actively searching for the offending mountain lion. The mountain lion will be dispatched in the interest of public safety. Authorities will conduct a rabies test and look for forensic evidence.

Searchers found tracks indicating the lion followed the group back to their vehicles after the attack. As of Monday morning, the search for the cat was continuing.

Clothing the boy wore during the attack was taken to CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento where scientists will attempt to isolate DNA to ultimately identify the exact mountain lion responsible.

Mountain lions are present throughout California, but attacks on humans are extremely rare. A list of verified attacks can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/lion/attacks.html.

For more information about how to stay safe when living or recreating in mountain lion territory, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html.