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Bass Anglers Are Getting Cranky


The following appears in the March issue of California Sportsman: 

Story And Photos By Mark Fong 

There is no doubt that black bass love to eat crawfish, but in the spring their appetite for these little freshwater crustaceans is at an all-time high. 

Crawfish are high in protein, making them a valuable food source for bass looking to develop their eggs and build their energy stores for the rigors of the upcoming spawn.

During the days when the water is cold, crawfish begin an extended period of inactivity. In late winter, rising water temperatures not only draw crawfish out of hibernation but trigger bass to begin their prespawn activity. This dynamic makes for some excellent bass fishing action for anglers who understand and can capitalize on this relationship.

The longer days and rising water temperatures signal prespawn bass to move into the shallows. At the same time, these fish start to feed less on shad and more so on crawfish. When this occurs, there is no better lure for imitating the movements of a crawfish than a crankbait.



Every spring, bass show up in predictable locations. Points, flats and small cut areas with rock are good places to begin your search. Because the water is cold, you want to work the crankbait slowly, making every effort to crawl the lure over the rocks. Make a long cast and use a slow, steady retrieve. When it makes contact with structure, pause the bait and then start reeling again; this can be a strong triggering mechanism. 

Keep in mind that the idea is to mimic a crawfish as it scurries along the bottom. Experiment with speed and cadence until you find the most productive retrieve.


There are lots of good crankbaits on the market. On my home waters in Northern California such as Berryessa and other lakes, I have had good results with the IMA Pinjack 200. It weighs in at 7/16 ounce, making it easy to cast, and at 2¼ inches it has a nice profile that matches the crawfish found in the region’s clear-water lakes. The Pinjack runs 6 to 8 feet deep and has a nice tight wiggle. I like to throw a red- or orange/red-colored bait this time of year. The hot craw and the delta fire craw patterns work extremely well during the spring. 

I’ll throw the Pinjack on a medium-heavy-action 7-foot, 3-inch Cousins Tackle FRB 733PT Glass Rod. I’ll then match it to a low-profile casting reel spooled with 10-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get in on some great spring time bass fishing. Mimicking a crawfish with a crankbait is a good starting point. CS

Rain Is About To Pound The Golden State



A rainy season that hasn’t been very rainy until recently is about to end with a bang.

The storms expected to hit a wide area of the California coast is being called an “atmospheric river” in meterological terms.

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle‘s SFGate with more:

A supercharged storm known as an “atmospheric river” is on its way to California and expected to bring a days-long deluge of rainfall along with mild temperatures.

The “pineapple express” soaker that’s carrying moisture from as far away as Hawaii  will deliver widespread rain to the Bay Area late Tuesday morning through Thursday.

The warm, wet system will keep daytime highs mild — in the 50s and 60s — and bring the heaviest rainfall to the South Bay and southward into Central California.

Monterey and Santa Cruz counties could see 2 to 5 inches of rain and the highest peaks in Big Sur more than 10 inches across the three-day period. Urban parts of the Bay Area are forecast to record about 1.5 inches.

The rain will first hit the Big Sur area early Tuesday morning and spread into the central Bay Area later in the morning, most likely in the middle of the morning commute. Rain will be widespread, heavy and steady Tuesday afternoon.

Southern Californians are also bracing for very wet weather.

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News with what to expect:

A powerful Eastern Pacific storm system took aim at the Southland today, preceded by a subtropical plume of moisture expected to generate rain starting this afternoon and trigger flash flooding both in burn areas and far from them beginning Wednesday, forecasters said.

The Pacific storm system will be making its West Coast approach through Friday, according to a National Weather Service statement.

At the same time, “a subtropical fetch of moisture well ahead of the system is expected to bring periods of moderate to heavy rain to portions of Southwest California as early as this afternoon and continuing through late Thursday or early Friday,” it added. “The most widespread moderate to heavy rain currently looks to be focused along and ahead of a cold front pushing through the region Wednesday night into Thursday.”

The rain likely will stop late Thursday or early Friday, according to the NWS.

Total rainfall from this storm is expected to range from 2 to 5 inches in coastal and valley areas and between 5 and 10 inches across the foothills and coastal slopes, it said.




No Contest Plea Entered In Monrovia Neighborhood Deer Case

Photo by Robyn and Chuck Tapert via KTLA

Last September, a Southern California man was accused of using a bow to shoot a deer right next to a residental neighborhood in Monrovia. At the time, Michael Jackson Rodriguez proclaimed his innocence in terms of hunting amid residential homes.

Rodriguez said he shot the deer earlier that day in deer hunting Zone D-11 above Monrovia but failed to kill the animal.

“I didn’t want it to suffer any more than it had to because of my bad shot,” he said. “It moved at the exact time I fired my arrow so I didn’t hit in the kill zone. I hit it high in the back of the spine area.”

Rodriguez said the wounded deer ran off and he was able to track it to the neighborhood in Monrovia Hills.

“I wasn’t up there to shoot an animal in a residential area,” Rodriguez insisted. “I was following up a wounded animal and trying to take him out so he wasn’t suffering any more.”

But last week Rodriguez entered a no-contest plea to unlawful taking of an amimal. The L.A. Times has more:

Michael Jackson Rodriguez entered his plea Tuesday to one misdemeanor count of possessing fish or wildlife taken unlawfully, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Under the negotiated plea deal, a judge sentenced Rodriguez to three years of summary probation and 30 days of community service.

Rodriguez must also surrender all hunting licenses and is prohibited from hunting while on probation. He also has to pay a $1,000 fine to the state Fish and Game Preservation fund and must also give up his seized property — which includes a bow, arrows and remains of the deer — to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to the prosecutor.

Rodriguez was accused of killing a deer with a bow and arrow in a Monrovia neighborhood on Sept. 14. It is illegal to shoot a deer or discharge a deadly weapon within 150 yards of a home.

Coyote Attack On Cal State L.A. Campus




A coyote bit a 5-year-old boy on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles, leading to a pursuit of the animal and shots fired on Thursday night. 

Here’s CBS2 in Los Angeles (which also posted the video above):

The shooting happened around 8:15 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Dept. said. LAPD is assisting in the investigation.

A 5-year-old boy who was walking on the campus with his mother was bitten by a coyote around 6:40 p.m.

A short time later, what’s believed to be the same coyote made an aggressive move towards a female student, who then reported it to police.

Officers said the coyote was hit but ran off.

The good news was the boy who was bit will be OK, but despite the mostly urban setting of the campus located near the intersection of the 710 and 10 freeways east of downtown, there could be more animals on campus.


The Bay Area Has A Mountain Lion Problem

California Department of Fish and Wildlife



My sister lives in San Mateo, not too far but really close to a lot of wilderness areas, a few years back I was hanging out at her house with my dog and her dog and watching TV when I heard some pretty loud commotion in the backyard, along with the whining barks of a dog next door. Everyone else was out at the time and when they came back I was convinced a mountain lion had scampered through their yard and into the neighbor’s yard. Of course, I was probably wrong, but years later it doesn’t so far-fetched anymore.

As the San Jose Mercury News reports, several Bay Area communities – and admittedly in areas where it seems like mountain lion sightings seem more feasible – are enduring a big cat issue. 

Here’s reporter Patrick May with a few communities on cougar watch:

On the Prowl in Pescadero

Residents in and around this sleepy coastal burg have been on edge in recent days as county officials are warning the public there may be an aggressive mountain lion in the area. Over the weekend, a resident in the 5000 block of Pescadero Creek Road let their small pet outside the home around 9 p.m. Saturday. A short time later, the resident reportedly heard the pet yelp and it has not been seen since.

County officials said that while they can’t positively confirm that it was a lion that snatched that particular pet there have been reports recently of an aggressive lion in the same area that has killed livestock. Officials cautioned residents to keep a sharp eye on their pets and any livestock in their care, especially late at night and early in the morning. …

Fear Near Sonoma’s “Little Slice of Heaven” 

In the getting-too-close-for-comfort department, the large cats have been reported in the vicinity of the historic Penngrove Elementary School where the bench out front bears this carved message: “A Little Slice of Heaven.”

Residents in this bucolic hamlet of 2,500 wedged in between Cotati and Petaluma have been calling authorities in the past few days to report what they believe is a mountain lion in their neighborhood. The fact that some sheep deaths have also been reported has fueled fears for some in the rural area.

Officials from Sonoma County Animal Services and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were called out but investigators could not confirm whether a mountain lion was, in fact, roaming the local ranches. That did not calm the nerves of locals who reportedly saw the large cats near the grade school and then passed on reports over the social-media site Nextdoor. …

Possible Pumas Among the Eichlers

A mountain lion was spotted the other day in Eichler Highlands in San Mateo County, one of the most architecturally historic pockets of the entire Bay Area. Officials with the county said that the cat was seen at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the 1800 block of Randall Road. Officials said the animal was not aggressive and that it ran away when it saw people nearby.

A subsequent search of the area turned up no sign of the cat. The Highlands subdivision constitutes the largest contiguous Eichler development anywhere, with more than 700 of the renowned homes built over an 11-year period from 1955 to 1965. If the mountain lion is still around, it’s been prowling through a neighborhood with chock full of classic examples of the work of all the main  Eichler architects: Anshen & Allen, Jones & Emmons, and Claude Oakland.

Stay safe in mountain lion country, everyone.

Look Ma: Both Hands

Via the Orange County Register, check out the above video of a crazy but effective way to score some tuna for fish tacos, sashimi or a big fillet for the grill.

Here’s more from the paper:

Lawrance Quigley, a 52-year-old Dana Point resident, was doing his ritual surf check when he saw a crowd gather near the rocks by the jetty. He hopped out of the car and whipped out his cellphone to capture the moment on video.

“Got your fishing license?” a man is heard joking in Quigley’s video.

“It’s pretty odd,” said Quigley, who owns the fishing clothing line Fishworks. “The funny thing is, he missed it and the fish came back, like a dog.”

At first, Quigley thought it was a yellow fin tuna, which would have made the sight even stranger considering the cold water temperatures dipping into the 50s. Yellow fin typically only show up in warmer waters.

But upon closer inspection of still shots, Quigley said, he now believes it was a blue fin tuna, which can tolerate colder waters. He estimated the fish was about 25 to 30 pounds.

At an angler trade show in Long Beach over the weekend, Quigley said, he was peppered with questions — people asking, “Dude, was that for real?”

“It’s definitely a strange, odd thing,” he said.

Fishing Nonprofits Will Receive Funding For Hispanic Program

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

Six California non-profit organizations have been awarded funds to provide fishing programs for Hispanic youth and families.

A total of $53,207 in grants was awarded by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) through the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will match the grant funds, effectively bringing the total amount of funding to $106,414.

To be eligible for funding, proposals were required to encourage family participation (both genders and multiple generations), appeal to participants who live in metropolitan communities, be ethnically inclusive (open to families of all races and ethnicities) and provide hands-on experiences and conservation activities.

Latinos are California’s largest ethnic population, with almost 15 million people of Hispanic heritage. Yet only a fraction of California’s anglers are Hispanic. CDFW and RBFF are finding new ways to educate and engage Hispanic communities in fishing and boating activities. These grants were made available for programs that support this cause.

Projects approved for funding include:

Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea

Friends of Rollo will hold three marine-awareness fishing trips for children who might not otherwise have such opportunities to witness the beauty and splendor of being on the ocean. Youth are provided on-the-water fishing and ocean conservation education where they learn about coastal ecosystems. Friends of Rollo focuses on serving disadvantaged, physically challenged and at-risk youth.

Coastal Watershed Council

The Coastal Watershed Council will partner with community centers and conservation organizations to reintroduce the San Lorenzo River and the fish that call it home to neighboring communities through the sport of fly fishing. The Coastal Watershed Council will engage Latino families who live near the river and invite them to participate in the Día de Pescar, a fly fishing clinic along the river. The council will also teach after school program participants how to fly fish.

Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation

The Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation will partner with local and state organizations, cities and communities to provide outdoor activities for underserved and minority youth. Kids are paired with volunteers to learn basic fishing skills and marine and conservation sciences in classroom and outdoor settings. The foundation will also coordinate free youth fishing events open to the public at various inner-city lakes throughout the year.

Hispanic Access Foundation

The Hispanic Access Foundation will hold four fishing outings for families in Los Angeles and San Diego during Latino Conservation Week and Hispanic Heritage Month. In each city, fishing events will provide an educational outing to a nearby fishing spot to participate in a hands-on fishing and aquatic stewardship educational experience.

Trout Unlimited South Coast

Trout Unlimited South Coast will provide fishing days and guidance with development of fishing skills on the natural bottom sections of the Los Angeles River. The events will focus on the concepts behind fishing, the equipment necessary for a successful fishing adventure and actual hands-on river fishing experience.

Tuolumne River Trust

The Tuolumne River Trust will coordinate several activities designed to educate, excite and motivate participants by exposing families to a variety of fishing techniques and locations. The trust will also hold a youth fishing activity station at the first annual Modesto Recreation Festival.

Grant funding was made available through the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund, which supports RBFF’s Hispanic initiative, Vamos A Pescar™. The Education Fund allows state agencies to provide sub-grants to local 501(c)(3) organizations with project ideas that support efforts to keep future generations educated about the joys of fishing and boating and the importance of conservation. With the help of donations from companies and organizations, the Education Fund has continued to grow and expand nationally.

New Plan Announced As Cali Salmon Struggle

Winter-run Chinook salmon eggs photo by Laura Mahoney/USFWS.



Have you heard? Salmon are struggling in California waters.  A UC Davis study released earlier this year that endangered winter-run Chinook were straying off course from their expected spawning waters in the Sacramento River, a sign of at least peculiar behavior.

On Thursday, federal fisheries officials announced a $100-million  conservation plan as concerns about extinction escalate.  Here’s Ryan Sabalow of the Sacramento Bee:

During the worst of California’s five-year drought, thousands of eggs and newly spawned salmon baked to death along a short stretch of the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam.

The winter-run Chinook, already hanging by a thread, nearly went extinct.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of that dire scenario, fisheries officials announced Thursday the launch of a plan — nearly 20 years and $100 million in the making — they say would expand the spawning range of the fish to include a cold-water stream called Battle Creek. The idea is that the stream could keep the fragile winter-run alive as California’s rivers get hotter because of a warming climate. …

… On Thursday, fisheries managers said that over the coming weeks they were going to release around 200,000 young winter-run Chinook raised at a hatchery to Battle Creek, which feeds into the Sacramento River below the dam near Anderson in Shasta County.

Thanks to cold springs that keep the stream flowing all summer long, Battle Creek long has been considered a possible sanctuary for the winter-run, which spawn in the blast-furnace heat of the Sacramento Valley’s summers.

“We see this an area that can be resilient to climate change,” said Howard Brown, the Sacramento River basin chief for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

At the end of their three-year life cycle, adult Chinook instinctively return from the ocean to the stream or river where they were hatched to spawn and die. Battle Creek was one of their traditional spawning grounds, but small hydroelectric dams and other barriers blocked the fish from using its icy waters.

It has taken nearly 20 years and close to $100 million to remove barriers and install fish ladders and screens to open up enough of Battle Creek’s northern fork for regulators to try introducing the fish to the creek in the hopes of building a self sustaining population.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association’s president, John McManus, commented on the ambitious plan:

“I think everyone agrees that we need at least one backup population of winter run salmon in addition to the one that’s teetering on the brink of extinction in the upper Sacramento River.  Reintroducing winter run to Battle Creek is a good step towards stabilizing this unique run of salmon and hopefully rebuilding their numbers to where they can get out of the ICU unit of the Endangered Species Act,” McManus said in a statement.

“Salmon fishermen used to have good fishing right outside the Golden Gate in February years ago before winter run salmon were decimated by changes to their habitat in the upper Sacramento River.  Maybe someday we’ll see this again.”



Fishing Tackle Takes Quite A Journey To California


Remember that when you lose some of your fishing gear when out at sea, you just never know where it might turn up.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a neat report earlier this week about a piece of equipment that quite a journey to the Northern California coast. Here’s longtime Chronicle outdoors reporter Tom Stienstra:

When Sorensen and Vais first sighted the piece of fishing equipment, washed up on a beach, they knew this was a one-of-a-kind moment.

“About halfway on the trip, I found an obviously handmade fishing gaff,” Sorensen said. “It was cool looking. Even though we were backpacking, I added it to the load. When I got home, I decided to try to track down the owner.”

Using the hand-carved name “Semesa Nukuse” as the clue, Sorensen said he eventually traced the item to a family in a village in the Fiji Islands.

Through Facebook, Sorensen located a relative and learned that Semesa was a fisherman who used the gaff, a large hook on a wooden handle, to land fish too large to hoist in otherwise. The relative wrote Sorensen that, during the years that the gaff hook had floated to California, Semesa had died.

After all, he said, when you consider the unlikely journey from Fiji to California — and now back — it’s the right thing to do.


Fred Hall Shows A Valuable Resource For Hunters

Photos courtesy of Fred Hall

Happy Fred Hall Shows day, Long Beach. The five-day event begins today and runs through Sunday (stop by our California Sportsman booth No. 114). Our friends at the show – let by owner Bart Hall – wanted to let visitors know that there is plenty of space devoted to hunting along with fishing and other activities at this and all the other Fred Hall Shows.

So check our Bart’s piece that’s running in our March issue:

By Bart Hall 

Did you know that at the Fred Hall Long Beach Show, the world’s largest fishing show, you could find a place to hunt for just about any species on Earth? That’s right: hunt at a fishing show. 

According to the surveys that we conduct, most of the attendees at a Fred Hall Show are hunters as well as anglers. And that’s a good thing, because as hunting is represented at all of the Fred Hall Shows, it’s represented in a big way at the Long Beach show, which is March 7-11 at the Long Beach Convention Center. 

You can find folks who will help you with elk hunting, whitetail deer hunting, mule deer hunting, duck hunting, quail hunting, pheasant hunting, dove hunting, goose hunting, wild boar hunting, and even more kinds of hunting. You can find places to hunt all over North and South America and even Africa and New Zealand.

There are over 60 booths dedicated to hunting and the shooting sports. Most of them are located in the part of the main exhibit hall, where the giant Turner’s Outdoorsman display is located. Turner’s will be displaying firearms again this year and will expand that display to the Fred Hall Del Mar Show (March 22-25). The Turner’s stores are out to prove that they are your one-stop hunting and fishing locations in California. 

Also displaying guns and some very impressive mounts is the Oak Tree Gun Club (661-259-7441; oaktreegunclub
 which is one of the most impressive gun ranges in the country. Their pistol range reminds me of an old-time shooting gallery. Of course, the trap and skeet ranges are great, but the thing that blows me away is the sporting clay range. This unbelievable range is set in a natural California oak tree grove with some of the best shooting stations I’ve ever seen. 

Some of the machines that throw the clays are diabolical and extremely fun. Oak Tree will also have information on some great hunting and fishing lodges in their booth, including some African destinations. They’re one of several African outfitters at the show.


A permanent staff of five produces the Fred Hall Shows, featuring Mike Lum, Tim Baker, Katie Hall, Ginny Hall, and myself. We are ably assisted by Dave and Barbie Mandagie, Eric McCauley, Billy and Hunter Trevarainus, Rick Gaskins, Jay Settle, and others. 

All of us hunt or shoot. Mike and Tim each shot elk over the last two years. Our ringtone for Tim is a duck call, because during duck season he’s in a blind somewhere.

The Hall family loves to gather for hunts as well. (Photo by Bart Hall)


So come on down to a Fred Hall Show and talk to some great hunting lodge owners. The variety is amazing and I’m sure you’ll find something you like. You can’t buy guns at Turner’s Outdoorsman or Oak Tree while at the show, but you can compare different firearms and leave a deposit to lock in a show special.

The Fred Hall Shows are the biggest little shooting sports shows in the world. Hunters and shooters are definitely welcome. Join us in Long Beach and Del Mar for our events. CS 

Editor’s note: Bart Hall is general manager of the Fred Hall Shows. For more, check out fredhall.com, like at facebook
.com/TheFredHallShows, and follow on Instagram (@officialfredhallshows).