Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Irvine Lake Update

Our correspondent, Steve Carson, provided this Irvine Lake update.


By Steve Carson


IRVINE – Another one of Irvine Lake’s fa.m.ous monster catfish was brought in late on Saturday night, reported Jimmy Getty at the Pro Shop. “Lake regular Terry Lairson weighed in a monstrous 54-pound, 7-ounce blue catfish just before midnight on Saturday,” observed Getty. “Lairson was using a big chunk of mackerel with a 7/0 Ga.m.akatsu hook and 65-pound Power-Pro superbraid line.  His fishing partner Chris Hagopian made three attempts before netting it after a half-hour back and forth battle. The big fish was successfully released back into the lake.”



Terry Lairson with a monster 54-pound channel cat. (IRVINE LAKE)

Getty added, “From mid-August to mid-October is when we see the biggest blue cats caught here at Irvine Lake. Concentrate in 20-foot or deeper water and large pieces of bait, like a mackerel head or a whole fillet of mackerel. Lately the best bite has been from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., but the big fish was hooked just after 11 p.m..”

Lots of limits of 2- to 8-pound channel catfish were also caught by anglers using mackerel and shrimp in less than 20 feet of water. Good catfish catches were reported from mid-lake, the west shore, and Santiago Flats. A few bass anglers found some 2- to 4-pound largemouth on dropshot-rigged plastics at the Red Clay Cliffs. No crappie were checked in, but some bluegill and redear sunfish hit on mealworms.

Fa.m.ilies with children age 12 and under found good numbers of small carp and 1- to 3-pound catfish using marshmallow/mealworm combos and 1X2 inch strips of bonito belly. Surface temperature on the main lake is 80 to 82 degrees, with the lake level receding approximately 4 inches per week. Bothe the west shore and Trout Island launch are in operation, and the West Shore Road is open to vehicle traffic. Lake hours for the remainder of catfish season are; Thursdays- 6a.m.-11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays- 6 a.m.-Midnight; Sundays- 6 a.m.-6  p.m.; Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays- CLOSED.

The 2014-15 public trout season opener will be Friday, October 31, with thousands of pounds of trout stocked. A special limited-entry “VIP Fishing Day” on Thursday October 30.

Outstanding catches of the week at Irvine Lake included:

Terry Lairson of Huntington Beach, 54-pound, 7-ounce blue catfish [released] on mackerel at the flats

Aaron Titleman of San Fernando, 11-pound, 7-ounce blue catfish on Bite-On at the flats

Terry Lairson of Huntington Beach, 16-pound, 9-ounce channel catfish on mackerel at the flats

Follow Irvine Lake on Facebook, on the web at or call 714-649-9111.


544-Pound Mako Shark Landed In Southern California

After a hooked shark collided with a swimmer in Manhattan Beach early this month, another shark made the rounds in Southern California, namely a 544-pound mako shark caught near Catalina Island by Wisconsin-based outfitter Patrick Egerk, who used a bow to take this massive fish.

From the Wausau Daily Herald:

Patrick Eger, host of Big E TV and owner of Big E Outfitters in the Cedar Creek Mall, said the record-breaking shark was taken on June 15 off of Catalina Island and the adventure will be featured on an upcoming television show.

The 47-year-old Eger said that when the 10 1/2-foot shark arrived on scene, it immediately made its presence known.

“The mako is a very aggressive shark,” Eger said. “They are not afraid of anything. He came in to where the chum is coming from and starts hitting the boat, ramming the boat, sizing up the boat.”

With cameras rolling from several angles, Eger drew and released a single arrow from his bow, sending a broadhead into the shark swimming below him. That broadhead was attached to a steel leader, which was connected to a 200-pound monofilament line, which ran to a rod and reel wielded by Eger, who battled the big fish for more than two hours.

 “Unlike a lot of ocean fishing, there’s no chair and you’re not strapped into anything,” Eger said. “I stood the entire time, and the only thing I was strapped to was the pole. If the shark pulls anything in, he’s pulling the pole and myself in.”

Since Eger caught the fish with a bow, it’s believed to be a new world record landing a mako in that manner.


We’ll have more from Eger’s catch in the September issue of California Sportsman. 





CDFW, NOAA Team Up For Central Valley Ecosystem Project

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are teaming up to help restore dwindling populations of king salmon and steelhead in the drought-plagued Central Valley.


Chinook salmon are among the priorities for a joint restoration project between the CDFW and NOAA. (DAN COX/USFWS)

Chinook salmon are among the priorities for a joint restoration project between the CDFW and NOAA. (DAN COX/USFWS)

Here’s the CDFW press release:

noaa cdfw logos

SACRAMENO, Calif. – NOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California’s Central Valley: NOAA Fisheries’ Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan and CDFW’s Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) Conservation Strategy.

The two plans are complementary in that CDFW’s conservation strategy presents a broader framework for restoring aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems throughout the Central Valley, while the federal recovery plan focuses on the recovery of endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and threatened Central Valley steelhead.

A shared goal of both plans is to remove these species from federal and state lists of endangered and threatened species. The recovery plan provides a detailed road map for how to reach that goal. It lays out a science-based strategy for recovery and identifies the actions necessary to restore healthy salmon and steelhead populations to the Central Valley.

“Establishing clear priority watersheds, fish populations and actions is essential to achieve recovery,” said Maria Rea, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Regional Administrator for California’s Central Valley Office. “Implementation of this plan will depend on many parties working collaboratively to pool resources, expertise and programs to recover Chinook salmon and steelhead populations that are part of California’s natural heritage.“

Recovery plans required by the Endangered Species Act are guidance documents, not regulatory requirements, and their implementation depends on the voluntary cooperation of multiple stakeholders at the local, regional, state and national levels.

“The Sacramento Valley joins together a world-renowned mosaic of natural abundance: productive farmlands, meandering rivers that provide habitat and feed salmon and steelhead, wildlife refuges and managed wetlands, and cities and rural communities,” said David Guy, President of the Northern California Water Association. “The recovery plan is a positive step forward–through efficient management of the region’s water resources, water suppliers throughout the Sacramento Valley will continue to work with our conservation partners to help implement the recovery plan and improve ecological conditions in the Sacramento River for multiple species and habitat values.”

The ERP conservation strategy was developed by CDFW collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to help guide environmental restoration and establish adaptive management to improve restoration success in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watershed. The approach of conservation strategy is to restore or mimic ecological processes and to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitats to support stable, self-sustaining populations of diverse and valuable species.

“It is critical we make strategic investments in our natural resources,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The funding of these high-priority restoration projects is not only an example of the coordinated effort between state and federal governments, but an example of California’s continued efforts to minimize the effects of drought on fish and wildlife. Central Valley salmon and steelhead deserve nothing less.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s 2014-15 budget provided CDFW with $38 million to implement enhanced salmon monitoring, restore sensitive habitat, improve water infrastructure for wildlife refuges, expand the fisheries restoration grant program, and remove barriers for fish passage. Some of that money will be used on projects recommended by the federal recovery plan.

Dick Pool of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said, “We thank and congratulate the scientists of NOAA Fisheries for their outstanding work in developing the Central Valley Recovery Plan. GGSA and the salmon industry particularly appreciate the fact that the plan includes both short range and long range actions that can reverse the serious salmon and steelhead population declines. GGSA has identified a number of the same projects as needing priority action. We also commend the agency for its diligent efforts to engage the other fishery agencies, the water agencies and the salmon stakeholders in the process. We look forward to assisting in finding ways to get the critical projects implemented.”

The federal recovery plan and state conservation strategy work together as a blueprint of how at-risk species can be restored to sustainable levels.Restoring healthy, viable salmon and steelhead runs will preserve and enhance the commercial, recreational and cultural opportunities for future generations. As the fish populations grow and recover, so too will the economic benefits and long-term fishing opportunities for everyone.

“The Recovery Plan provides a clear framework to better coordinate and align restoration projects in the Delta, the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries to achieve greater conservation outcomes,” said Jay Ziegler, Director of External Affairs and Policy for The Nature Conservancy. “We are pleased to see the integration of multiple habitat values in the Plan including the importance of expanding lateral river movements to enhance floodplain habitat and recognition of the importance of variable flow regimes to benefit multiple species.”

The development of a recovery plan is an important part in the successful rebuilding of a species because it incorporates information from a multitude of interested parties including scientific researchers, stakeholders and the general public. Since 2007, NOAA Fisheries has held 14 public workshops, produced a draft for public comment, and met with strategic stakeholders to guide the plan’s development and ensure a comprehensive and useful document.

CDFW will be investing considerable resources in improving water conservation on public wildlife refuges in the Central Valley and protecting important salmon stocks that contribute to the state’s fishery. The department has also recently released a restoration grant solicitation which includes salmon and steelhead watersheds in the Central Valley. The solicitation can be found here. Applications are being accepted until August 12, 2014.

More on the NOAA Fisheries Recovery Plan and the CDFW Ecosystem Restoration Program


Large Caples Lake Rainbow

We’ll have a full update on Sierra fishery Caples Lake in the August issue of California Sportsman, but here’s a sneak preview of how productive the trout fishing has been:

Caples Lake Resort guest Jennifer Donnelly of Palo Alto rented one of our 12-foot Gregor fishing boats today.She was floating near Woods Creek using Power Eggs about 25 feet down when she caught this 16-inch 2-pound rainbow trout.

IMG_2341 (1)

Photo by Caples Lake Resort 



Deer Tag Quota Filled In Zone D6


A mule deer at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

A mule deer at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. (USFWS)


This is not surprising, considering the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reduced the number of deer hunt tags from 10,000 to 6,000 in Zone D6 (parts of Stanislaus, Mariposa and Tuoloumne Counties). The tags are now sold out, per today’s CDFW press release:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is notifying hunters that tags are no longer available in the D6 Zone for the 2014 deer season. The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) finalized big-game tag quotas at its April 15 meeting in Ventura. Notable changes from the 2013 hunting season included a reduction in the D6 Zone general season tag quota from 10,000 to 6,000.

Other zones are getting close to selling out. CDFW urges hunters to act early for the best possible chance to get a tag in the zone they want. For those hunters who did not apply for or receive a tag through the annual big-game drawing process, CDFW has provided a list (updated daily) of available deer tags

In the summer of 2013, the Rim Fire burned approximately 257,000 acres in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service subsequently issued Rim Fire Closure Order 2014-01, which closed the burned area through Nov. 18, 2014. This closure encompasses approximately 175,000 acres of public and private land, including popular deer hunting locations in the D6 Zone such as Cherry Lake, Kibbie Ridge and Crocker Ridge in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.

CDFW usually issues 10,000 tags per season for the D6 Zone. If the deer tag quota had remained at that level this season, CDFW anticipated a significant increase in hunting pressure on the remaining open areas. Such crowded hunting conditions could have led to an overharvest of the accessible herds, dropping buck-to-doe ratios below management objectivesDue to the reduction in quality hunting opportunities and potential negative biological impacts, CDFW recommended the decrease from 10,000 to 6,000 for the 2014 hunting season, which the FGC approved as part of its changes to this year’s Mammal Hunting Regulations at its April meeting.

Hunters seeking to pursue deer in the Sierra Nevada still have several options in zones D3-5, D7 (which filled last year in early August) and D8. CDFW posts available tags by hunt zone at Hunters who received a D6, A21, G37 or J15 tag can monitor forest closure information on the Stanislaus National Forest website at


Collins Lake Update

Bo Fritz with a 10-pound, 4-ounce catfish.

Bo Fritz with a 10-pound, 4-ounce catfish.


A fishing report from Collins Lake Resort:

The most popular bait used this week is a TIE between PowerBait or nightcrawlers! Almost every fish caught this past week, whether it was trout or catfish was caught on worms or PowerBait.

Cameron Tucker and Sara Aitchison

Cameron Tucker and Sara Aitchison

Cameron Tucker and Sara Aitchison from Yuba City started the week off with two limits of trout they caught trolling about 35-feet down at the south end of the lake near the dam. They trolled with a Dodger and a nightcrawler. Cameron fished two days later with his buddy Josh Burlow and they too LIMITED on trout with the same setup.

Just yesterday Gavin & Tyy Hansen fished with orange PowerBait and caught 5 rainbows, their biggest was 2 pounds, 8 ounces. Hal Smith has a “favorite spot” in the Open Area where he always finds the “hungry trout”. It can’t be luck because he or Ramona ALWAYS catch trout when they come, Hal caught 4 Rainbows this week on various colors of PowerBait.

The “Buck Brothers” (Tanner & Ty) each caught a trout while camping by the dam and fishing the shoreline using chartreuse PowerBait.


Kayla and Olivia with catfish

Kayla and Olivia with catfish

It took both Kayla & Olivia to hold up their 5-pound. catfish which they caught on worms. Bo Fritz had no problem holding up his 10-pound, 4-ounce catfish, he used Berkeley Power Minnows for bait, fishing from a boat in the middle of the lake. Gene Cliff and Joey & Logan Weitz brought up a limit of trout for their photo shoot! They fished near the dam and used chartreuse PowerBait.

Sam Provenzano from Oregon House caught three trout on PowerBait and Nick from Antioch fished from the dock using worms and he too caught a trout.

Anthony Contreras & Cruz Del Conte fished by a cove near the marina and caught two catfish while baiting up with worms.

– Kathy Hess

Angler Who Hooked Shark In Manhattan Beach Won’t Be Cited

Photo by David Burdick/NOAA

Photo by David Burdick/NOAA


Yesterday, we told you about the ban on fishing off the Manhattan Beach Pier due to the incident involving a swimmer and a great white shark that was hooked by a angler.

Of course, it’s illegal to fish specifically for great whites, which are protected. But like the story of California Sportsman story subject Jeff Fangman, who last winter had an incidental catch and release of a 14-foot great white,  it’s hard to fault an angler fishing off a pier with plenty of different fish around and whose bait gets bitten by any species. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed, and the angler who hooked the shark that resulted in the swimmer being injured will not be cited. 

From the CDFW:

An investigation including evidence from videos, social media and personal interviews did not provide proof there was intent by the angler to target white sharks.

It is legal to fish for the many species of sharks, rays and other fish that frequent the waters surrounding the pier using the same techniques used that day. Facebook posts and interviews resulted in evidence that showed the angler was targeting bat rays, but admitted to catching sharks including white sharks.

This is a legal activity and consistent with numerous other fishing practices in waters where similar tackle is used to catch a variety of fish species. Incidentally caught species that are not legal to keep must immediately be released. In this case, the line was cut before the fish was landed.

Although this was a very unfortunate incident where a person was injured, criminal prosecution requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. Unless additional evidence is discovered, no charges will be pursued by CDFW in this case.


Shark Attack Forces Manhattan Beach Fishing Shutdown

Photo by Wayne Hoggard, NOAA

Photo by Wayne Hoggard, NOAA


Sharks are in the news, and unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. For some reason, the SyFy TV “event” Sharknado became a thing via social media, again proving our downfall as rational human beings. And now get ready for Sharknado 2 (catch the trailer here, if you have a minute-and-a-half of your life you won’t mind giving up to watch this; but give it up to top-billed stars and Sharknado veterans Ian Ziering and Tara Reid for finding a niche again and striking while the iron is hot).

On a more serious note, the recent shark attack in Manhattan Beach has prompted the popular Southern California coastal community to extend a fishing ban on the popular pier.

From NBC Los Angeles:

The fishing ban at the Manhattan Beach Pier is expected to last 60 days, the maximum allowed time under the California Coastal Act. A newly posted sign at the pier says that fishing will be banned until Sept. 7.

“For the protection of all beachgoers, we did a time out to investigate what happened,” Manhattan Beach Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Powell said. “Maybe it’s separating swimmers and surfers from the fishing activity. Maybe it’s banning the type of bait, we don’t know yet.” 

A juvenile 7-foot white shark bit 50-year-old swimmer Steve Robles at the Manhattan Beach Pier on Saturday as it was fighting to free itself from a fishing line cast from the pier.

Check your local listings on the Sharknado 2 thing.

Free Fishing Saturday Highlights Holiday Weekend

Kids enjoying the fishing pond at the Raahauge Shooting Fair last month. (RACHEL ALEXANDER)

Kids enjoying the fishing pond at the Raahauge Shooting Fair last month. (RACHEL ALEXANDER)

Happy Fourth of July, Cal Sportsman readers. Looking for something to this holiday weekend?

Free Fishing Days: the best thing to happen to California since John Muir. July 5 and September 6 should be circled on your calendar, as a California fishing license will not be required for anyone 16 and over to grab a rod and reel and dunk a line in the American River, Lake Nacimiento, the Salton Sea or San Luis Reservoir.

Free Fishing Days: the best thing to happen to California since Sutter’s Mill. It’s important to get non-fishermen involved in the sport. Take your kids who have never experienced pulling in a rainbow trout from Irvine Lake or landing a striper off Rio Vista in the San Joaquin Delta. Even if you don’t catch anything, the quality time you spend with your family will want you asking to go back.

Editor's note


Free Fishing Days: the best thing to happen to California since Google and Yahoo. We have a lot of options to tell you about in this month’s issue where fish are biting: Luke Kelly’s reports on the anticipated July 16 king salmon openers on the Sacramento and Feather Rivers; Scott Haugen dishing on San Francisco Bay sharks; Mike Stevens on Eastern Sierra lure techniques, Bill Schaefer with the best way to cast for trophy bass at San Diego’s Otay Lake.

Free Fishing Days: the best thing to happen to California since California Chrome. Remember, per the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, if you’re fishing on one of the two no license-needed days for abalone, steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster or salmon in the Smith or Klamath-Trinity River Systems, you must purchase the proper report card for those species (

Free Fishing days: the best thing to happen to California since Carl’s Jr. I remember my earliest experiences throwing marshmallows baited with salmon eggs at Lake Merced in San Francisco. It wasn’t long before I was begging my dad to take me out again, and then another time, then another.

Free Fishing days: (Maybe) the best thing to happen to you and your family this month.

Stampede Reservoir Update

In our July issue of California Sportsman, we chatted with Rick Kennedy of Grass Valley-based Tight Lines Guide Service (888-975-0990;, who told us about some underrated kokanee fishing at Stampede Reservoir near Truckee.

Kennedy had this Stampede report from earlier today:

We had a great day on Stampede today. Ben Stern took his two sons Cole and Luke on their first fishing trip. The bite was a little slower than it has been. The best part of this trip was the fact Ben was making this a learning trip for the boys. Not just about fishing but how to respect the outdoors. They learned only to keep what they were going to eat; Ben explained the whole circle of life in the outdoors to the boys. They watched a Osprey take a fish for lunch, the Seagull’s eat the carcasses of the fileted Kokanee. We also talked about the life cycle of a Kokanee. Ben plans to bring them to one of this years egg takes. They ended up keeping seven for dinner tonight. Our fish were all caught once again on Copper Sep’s Side Kicks and Radical Glow Pink Tubes tipped with pink Pautzke Fire Corn.

Ben Stern and sons Cole and Luke after a great day at Stampede Reservoir. (TIGHT LINES GUIDE SERVICE)

Ben Stern and sons Cole and Luke after a great day at Stampede Reservoir. (TIGHT LINES GUIDE SERVICE)