Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Staying Above The Doves




Our hunting guru, Tim E. Hovey, provides our readers with an inside look at the upcoming second half of California’s dove season with a great how-to story appearing in our November California Sportsman.

Here’s a sneak preview of what Tim wrote:

The new hunters for this season were all pretty familiar to our hunting group. This year my regular hunting buddies brought their kids along for the opener. Not as observers, but as newly licensed, California hunters. We set them up near the decoys and in open areas where they could test their shooting skills. We let them take longer shots so they could see that chances for success increased dramatically if they waited for the birds to enter their effective range. Each kid, Andrew, Adrian and Alyssa, all shot birds during the opener, and each one had an amazing time. I was impressed with their attention to safety and I made a point of telling each one that I would hunt with them anytime.
On the last day of the September dove season, I took my daughter Alyssa out for a morning hunt. We arrived at a new spot before sunrise and got things ready. I found an open area nearby and set up the decoy spread. Using a few large tumbleweeds, I quickly constructed a makeshift blind around our shooting position. The pending sunrise was at our backs and I could not remember creating a better set up for hunting dove.
As soon as the sun broke the horizon, the birds began to fly. The week before, I had noticed that birds leaving the orchards cut through this open area on their way to feed. Now, almost in a flood, they were flying right over our position. Some broke from their flight to investigate the decoys. I watched one slow slightly on Alyssa’s side. She swung her shotgun, matching the bird’s path. She led it slightly and fired. The dove folded in flight and dropped to the ground. I don’t remember my first dove, but I will forever remember that bird.
Mourning dove are plentiful, challenging and fun to shoot. The effort and gear needed is minimal, and it’s an activity the entire family can enjoy. California offers two seasons, generous bag limits and plenty of opportunity. Despite their challenging speed and aerobatics, in the right areas, new hunters will have numerous opportunities to hone their shooting skills. If you’ve ever thought about giving it a try, please do. Hunting is an activity best experienced with good friends and family. Get a group together and start your own tradition. You won’t be sorry.



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Irvine Lake’s Huge Trout

Look for Steve Carson’s annual report on the Irvine Lake Nov. 1 trout opener in the soon-to-be released November California Sportsman. There’s no wonder Steve always seems to get excited about this Orange County staple for anglers. Look at some of the trout that have been pulled from Irvine’s waters:

Photos courtesy of Irvine Lake

Carson Lake 11 Irvine Lake 4 Irvine Lake 9 Irvine Lake 5


Get Steve’s full report and more great photos in the November issue of California Sportsman. To subscribe, and get $10 off a one-year subscription ($19.95 for 12 issues of your local fishing and hunting news), click here.


Wild Pig Hunts Available In SoCal

Apologies for not getting this in sooner. Ironically part of what slowed me down is being able to reach several wild pig hunting guides for a story that ultimately fell through. But here goes:

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Spring Will Be Lightning Round At Lake Jennings


Photo courtesy of Lake Jennings

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 22

They are not quite as outrageous as the “Austin Powers”-inspired “sharks with frickin lazor beams attached to their heads“, and there is no evidence of ill-tempered mutated sea bass in any of the Lake Jennings “lightning trout” that will be stocked in the San Diego-area trout fishery. But these seem like pretty funky fish for Jennings anglers to catch.

Lightning trout will be stocked in Jennings twice in the spring. These are essentially rainbows, but with a twist: with vertical stripes and a golden color to them.

“People are really interested in them,” says David Acevedo, the head ranger at Jennings. “They’re just a unique strain of fish. The thing with them is, they do grow a little slower. That’s one reason for us putting them later in the early spring. They really have to get to a good size. They are great fish. They’ll bring a lot of excitement, and it’s going to be nice to have something a little different. But they’re the same as the Sierra bows. The (lightning trout) are a good fishing fish.”

As the Nov. 1 trout opener approaches, Jennings will be receiving almost weekly plants of more traditional rainbows from the Mt. Lassen hatchery.

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Some Positive News For State’s Duck Hunters

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 21

Look for a story on the November issue of California Sportsman on the woes that plagued the Alturas area when the partial government shutdown closed the Modoc National Widlife Refuge and canceled plenty of waterfowl hunters’ trips during the early October opening in the Northeastern Zone.  Many hunters probably won’t get back those missed opportunities, but at least some good news came from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Here are the list of formerly closed areas that are back open for access, per the DFW r:

• Colusa NWR, (530) 934-2801
• Delevan NWR, (530) 934-2801
• Kern NWR, (661) 725-6504
• Merced NWR, (209) 826-3508
• Sacramento NWR, (530) 934-2801
• San Luis NWR, (including Kesterson, Bear Creek, Freitas North), (209) 826-3508
• Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, (760) 348-5278
• Lower Klamath NWR, (530) 667-2231
• Tule Lake NWR, (530) 667-2231
• Modoc NWR, (530) 233-3572
• Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR, (510) 792-0222

Here’s hoping these re-openings will provide a fresh chance for those outdoors enthusiasts who were locked out for most of the first half of October can get back outside and enjoy the fall in California.


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Lake Del Valle fish report

Lake Del Valle Fishing Report


October 18, 2013


The water temperature is 68 degrees at the end of the dock. Fishing hasn’t changed very much from this week to last week; with weather still cooling off. Striper bite has slowed down best thing to throw out is Anchovies, Sardines, Worms, or Jigs. Topwater lures, Crank-baits, and Jerk-baits still haven’t really been getting their attention as much. Hetch Hetchy and the Lower Narrows are the best places to fish for Stripers. The Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass bite has slowed down even more this week, you need to really go looking for them using Rat-L-Traps and Lipless Crank-baits out at Swallow and Heron Bay are best places to try for Bass. When fishing for Catfish try using Chicken Livers or Anchovies in the Lower Narrows and South End near the down trees. Trout bite still picking up and they are surfacing in the mornings and evenings; best thing to throw out are Crank-baits and other steady retrieving lures, Power-bait, and Night Crawlers. Brighter colored Powerbait such as rainbow or chartreuse is what works the best right now is the East beach. There has also been luck down the dog run trail near the lower narrows for those who don’t mind a little bit of a walk.

James Roberecht

Photo Courtesy of Lake Del Valle



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Sac River Salmon Still Biting

Northern California salmon anglers can still fish until Dec. 15. And while the bite will really slow down if much-needed rains fall, guide Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service (888-975-0990; continues finding big kings in the Sacramento River. Here’s Rick’s report:


We spent the last two days fishing the Sacramento River in the Sacramento Metro area. It didn’t take long to remind myself how this area can be either on of off. Monday we fished hard for several hours for nothing more than a slight grab. As a guide days like this keep you up all night thinking what could I have done different and what will I change tomorrow. Well, today we launched at the same time,  started in the same place with the same lures and within an hour and a half we had five nice salmon up to 35 pounds in the boat. We got our first five fish quickly and needed one more for full limits for our clients. We had that number six fish on four times but couldn’t seem to get him to the boat. All our fish were caught trolling down river on the outgoing tide.


Brothers Brandon, Brogon and Brett Abril with their salmon. Brandon is from Vacaville, Brogon and Brett from Pittsburg. 


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Birdman Of Castaic Lake



Photo courtesy of the Ojai Angler

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 15

Castaic Lake, located just off I-5 north of Santa Clarita, covers 350,000 acres, so it can be a daunting body of water for anglers to attack. But veteran bass  guide Marc Mitrany of the Ojai Angler (805-640-8491; said looking for fall bass that are feeding on shad around the surface starts with the birds. Mitrany, who will be featured in November’s print edition of California Sportsman for a Castaic Lake update, channels his inner Alfred Hitchcock/Tippi Hedren -of The Birds (not the birds) fame-  when he fishes the lake.

“I’m watching the birds, they’ll tell me where to be from a long ways away,” Mitrany says. “I don’t use electronics that much over there. It’s mostly a visual.”

Mitrany is counting on where the birds are feeding on the threadfin shad that swim in Castaic. The birds and bass are both in search of the food supply near the surface. Plenty of green and blue heron gather at Castaic on a regular basis.

“The birds are there 24 hours a day.  I’ve almost never been let down by that,” Mitrany said. “If I see those green and blue heron are there, there is going to be bait there and there are usually going to be fish there. If there are no fish around, there is definitely going to be bait there.”

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What California’s Historic Lead Bullet Ban Means For Condors

National Geographic weighs in on California Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to ban lead bullets for hunters. The state’s iconic California condor seems to be at the center of this controversial decision made by the state.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:


Lead poses a danger to wildlife. This danger has been known for a long time,” the governor said in a signing statement. “Since 2007, California has prohibited it in the eight counties within the condor range. In fact, at least thirty other states regulate lead ammunition in some manner.”

The California Fish and Game Commission will have until July 1, 2019, to fully implement the new law.

“The regulation is smart, it’s a move in the right direction,” said Vernon Thomas, a researcher at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, who has worked on the effects of lead toxicity on wildlife for more than 20 years.

Studies have shown that lead is extremely toxic to birds and mammals, including humans. It’s harmful to almost every organ in the human body and is particularly toxic to the nervous system and the brain.

This is likely not going to make a lot of hunters very happy.


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Hunter, 72, Found Alive In Mendocino

This is a remarkable story of perseverance. Gene Penaflor, 72, was hunting in the rugged Mendocino National Forest, broke away  from his hunting partner, fell and hit his head, and after waking up from an unconscious state disoriented and confused, spent 18 days in the wilderness. He was found by other hunters after an official search was abandoned.

From the NBC Bay Area report:

After some time spent walking around the area, Penaflor was unable to determine which direction to travel and stopped moving.

He started a fire to keep warm and on days it snowed or rained, he took shelter under a log. He remained in one spot due to a nearby water source.

Temperatures fluctuated between 25 and 70 degrees during the nearly three weeks Penaflor spent alone. He fed himself by killing and eating squirrels in the area.

It’s good to see Gene reunited with his family in San Francisco.

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