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Today Is Your Birthday, America

Photos by Chris Cocoles


Today is a day to relax,  throw some meat on the grill, drink a beer – or a soda – and to remember how Founding Fathers and never forget why we got here. Happy Fourth of July!

Fishing Crew Rescued Off Santa Cruz Coast

Harrowing moments over the weekend for a small fishing boat crew. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two fishermen off the Santa Cruz coast.  Here’s more from NBC Bay Area:

A jogger on the beach near Wilder Ranch State Park told the Coast Guard about 6:30 a.m. Sunday that two men were stranded on a rock off the coast there, and that the two men called out to that jogger for help.

The fishermen had gone out on their 27-foot fishing boat earlier in the morning, and the boat had struck an object in the water not far from the rocks onto which they reached by swimming, according to Coast Guard Cmdr. Tim List, a Sector San Francisco search and rescue mission coordinator.

Coast Guard search-and-rescue teams brought the fishermen to safety.

Canoeist Off Oceanside Gets A Love Tap From A Shark

Canoeist Julie Wolfe experienced a little too much of the Pacific Ocean’s natural environment when her boat was bitten by a shark.

Here’s San Diego’s ABC 10 News with more, including an interview with Wolfe:

“I wasn’t sure if it was chasing me, so I was paddling real fast. And then about a minute into my paddle, I felt a tug,” she said. “I felt it tug on my paddle, and that’s when I screamed like a little girl, aaaahhh!!”

Despite her canoe taking on water, Wolfe was able to make it back to shore.

Wolfe was unable to see the shark due to the nature of the attack, but after talking with an expert at the Shark Research Institute, Wolfe learned it was an 11-12 foot great white shark that bit her canoe. 

Wolfe said that the expert told her she was likely in the shark’s feeding area and it just wanted her gone.

Wolfe deadpanned to the station that she had no problem getting out of the way. Glad she’s OK.

Fox 5 in San Diego also had a report:

Makes Plans Now For California’s July 7 ‘Free Fishing Day’

CDFW photo

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is encouraging all Californians to give fishing a try for free on July 7 and Sept. 1, 2018.

CDFW annually offers two Free Fishing Days, typically around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends. On these two designated days, people can fish without having to buy a sport fishing license. Free Fishing Days also provide an easy opportunity for licensed anglers to introduce non-angling friends and children to fishing and the outdoors.

“Free fishing days provide endless opportunities to enjoy California’s wild places with family and friends,” said Charlton H. Bonham, director of CDFW. “Whether catching a trout in a mountain stream or simply enjoying a spectacular sunset, you’ll never regret time spent fishing.”

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements and fishing hours and stream closures, remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead, sturgeon, or spiny lobster anywhere in the state, or for salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Anglers residing in urban areas also have opportunities to fish close to home. Some CDFW regions also offer Fishing in the City, a program that allows children to learn to fish in major metropolitan areas. For more information on the Fishing in the City program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing-in-the-city.

All anglers should also check the rules and regulations at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations for the waters they plan to fish because wildlife officers will be on duty to enforce them. In addition, information on fish planting is available at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/fishplants and a fishing guide can be viewed at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/guide.

For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days.

Central Calfornian Ish Monroe Wins Bassmaster Event

Ish Monroe, who hails from Hughson in Stanislaus County, won last weekend’s Bassmaster Elite event on the Mississippi River in LaCrosse, Wisc.

Here’s Monroe himself via B.A.S.S:

So, when I say that every win means more than the last one I’m saying that they are harder to come by and so I treasure them more. There’s more pride in winning against the best. It’s a feeling that isn’t like anything else I’ve ever experienced.

That feeling came over me on Saturday night after I weighed in a 17 pound sack. I knew I could put a winning bag together on Sunday if things held for me. But I also knew that anything could happen and that if I faltered, even a little bit, I wouldn’t win.  …

This win is as good as it gets. I can only imagine what it’ll be like to get another one in the future that’ll feel even better!

Here’s the release from one of Monroe’s sponsors, Maxima:

The water rose about the same speed as Monroe climbed the leader board. After an unexpected and highly frustrating boat grounding, attempting to navigate far back into the shallow back channels on day 1, Maxima Pro Staffer, Ish Monroe, converted the mishap into opportunity. Unable to reach his chosen destination, which he knew held the key to winning, Ish allowed patience to prevail. Every day he forged further into the back channels throwing frogs and topwater baits. He went from 20th, to 6th, to 3rd to the podium for the win on the final day. With a 4-day total of 65-07, he weighed nearly a pound more than the runner-up. Ish choose to cast 65-pound, Maxima Braid 8 for its durability and strength.

Dead wild pig with hunting rifle resting on it

New Bill Would Provide More Opportunities To Hunt California Hogs

Wild pigs in a green field


California’s year-round pig hunting opprtunities just might beome even more available to sportsmen and -women, says this Sacramento Bee report from Ryan Sabalow.

Wild pigs are considered invasive species, and per Sabalow, have created quite a mess with many in the Golden State. With much of the hunting chances for hogs on private land, a new assembly bill appears to allow more hunters to score a pig and allow farmers fed up with pesky wild hogs to help eradicate a species that habitate in nearly every county in the state.  Here’s more from the Bee’s Sabalow:

Cremers is advocating for Assembly Bill 2805, authored by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-Madera, which would change the status of California’s wild pigs from a game species regulated similar to deer, elk and bear to a new category.

The change would allow farmers to kill pigs without a hunting license or what’s known as “depredation permits” — what the state’s wildlife agency normally issues when game animals damage property.

Bigelow’s bill “helps streamline the process to make sure it’s easier to try to deal with this nuisance,” said Tyler Blagg, whose family ranches several thousand acres in Nevada County on land that he says is overrun with feral hogs. Due to safety and other concerns, Blagg’s family does not allow recreational hunters on their lands.

Farmers like Blagg long have chafed at needing special permission from the state to kill a nonnative species they consider a pest, and they say recreational hunting alone does little to decrease the numbers.

It’s a really interesting read, including the idea that part of the new plan would see significant lower costs for hunters to have the proper documents to harvest hogs.





Truckee River Gets A Transplant Of Native Lahontan Cutthroat

Photo by Dan Hottle/USFWS

The following press release is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 

Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, are on track to stock more than 50,000 native Lahontan cutthroat trout into the mainstem Truckee River and in Crystal Peak Park in Verdi, Nevada, this year.

A Lahontan National Fish Hatchery stocking truck pulls into Verdi Pond in Verdi, Nevada, in preparation to stock thousands of native Lahontan cutthroat trout. The stocking is done each year in the Truckee River system. Credit: Dan Hottle/USFWS

The stocking is part of an ongoing effort to increase recreational fishing opportunities and to provide public awareness of decades worth of conservation efforts for the famed “monster trout.”

The Lahontan cutthroat is the state fish of Nevada. The prehistoric-era lacustrine, or lake-dwelling, form of the species resides in Nevada’s Pyramid Lake, the Truckee River and Tahoe Basin. It was conserved and raised from a broodstock at the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery in Gardnerville.

Over the past 20 years, the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex, where the fish are raised, has expanded partnerships with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the state of California to help raise this unique population of Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Every year, tens of thousands of fish are stocked in the Truckee River Basin, so anglers from all over the world can experience the thrill of catching a unique native species.

Reno, Nevada resident Benjamin Harris and his son watch as hundreds of yearling Lahontan cutthroat trout are released into Rock Park in Reno in May. Credit: USFWS

Benjamin Harris, a Reno resident, and his son were lucky enough to witness a recent stocking on the city’s north side Rock Park in late May.

“My son and I had a great time watching these incredible fish being moved from the big hatchery truck into the river,” said Harris. “We appreciate the opportunity the biologists gave us that day to learn more about the Lahontan cutthroat and all the hard work that’s gone into conserving it. My son and I made a lot of great new fishing memories.”

Stocked fish are 8-10-inch catchable yearlings that are transported by truck from the hatchery to ponds and stream locations and released at different points along the 120-mile length of the river system between Pyramid Lake and California’s Lake Tahoe.

A total of 14 locations are being stocked with roughly 40,000 destined for the Truckee River and nearly 12,000 headed for local angling ponds in Verdi and Reno.

A juvenile Lahontan cutthroat trout at Lahontan National Fish Hatchery. Credit: USFWS

“The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex is excited about the ongoing opportunity to collaborate with the Nevada Department of Wildlife to provide native Lahontan cutthroat trout to recreational anglers in the area,” said Lisa Heki, the complex’s project leader. “The re-establishment of this beautiful, unique trout back in its Truckee River home is the result of decades worth of work from our dedicated tribal, state and federal fish biologists who are proud to continue to make the Truckee Basin a world-class native fishing destination.”

Stocking will continue into mid-July, and the hatchery crew hopes to release up to 50,000 new cutthroat before the season winds down.

Fisheries biologists encourage members of the public to visit the Truckee River for a chance to catch a world-class, native trout.

Biologist Erik Horgen releases Lahontan cutthroat trout into Nevada’s Pyramid Lake. Credit: USFWS

Beached Aptos Shark Now A Criminal Investigation


Call in the CSI guys (yes, there was a shark attack episosode on the iconic franchise; of course it was an attack of a bunch of party people in a swimming pool adjacent to a shark tank. Maybe a Sharknado inspiration?).

But on a more serious note, that great white shark found dead on a beach in Aptos near Santa Cruz is now part of a criminal investigation based on a necropsy performed on the fish.

Here’s a little more from SFGate via a KSBW report:

The young, 500-pound, 9-foot-long adult male shark was discovered Sunday morning on Seascape Beach. Researchers conducted a necropsy to determine the seemingly healthy shark’s cause of death.

During the necropsy, something was discovered that troubled researchers.

“Upon receiving the lab’s necropsy results, our law enforcement division is now taking up the investigation,” said Peter Tira of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Some video from KGO ABC


Humbold County D.A. Named State’s Top Wildlife Prosecutor

Humbolt County D.A.  Adrian Kamada photo courtesy of CDFW.

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

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada has been selected as the 2017 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year, the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.

The California Fish and Game Commission recognizes a courtroom champion of fish and wildlife each year. The Prosecutor of the Year award honors a currently seated district attorney or deputy district attorney who tirelessly prosecutes crimes against fish, wildlife, natural resources and the environment in California courts.

“CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division is grateful for Deputy District Attorney Kamada’s service, exceptional effort and leadership on poaching and environmental crime prosecutions,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement. “We hold him up as an example to others.”

FG Commission Prosecutor of the Year 2018 (1 of 1)

CDFW photo

Kamada began working at the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office in 2014, assigned as the lead prosecutor on all environmental cases for the county. Kamada, who was raised in Humboldt, appreciates and understands the importance of the county’s diverse fish and wildlife species and the habitats upon which they depend.

In 2015, Kamada formed the Humboldt County Environmental Crimes Task Force, a group of state and local agency representatives that meets several times a year to address ongoing environmental crimes, promote interagency communication and problem solving. Task Force members are encouraged to speak directly with Kamada about cases. Kamada has also frequently accompanied CDFW wildlife officers on general patrol and on search warrant services.

Kamada has shown considerable skill and commitment in prosecuting a wide variety of fish, wildlife and environmental crime cases, including the following:

  • In 2015, wildlife officers contacted a man near the Eel River after observing him driving on a river bar while shining a high-powered light and discarding litter on the river bar. A search warrant served on the subject’s residence led to the discovery of evidence of spotlighting and poaching activity. Following the successful prosecution of the case by Kamada, the suspect was sentenced to three years of probation and 200 hours of community service, as well as being prohibited from hunting, mandated to complete the hunter safety program and forfeiting three firearms, ammunition, knives and unlawfully possessed deer parts.
  • Working with the Humboldt County Environmental Crimes Task Force, Kamada has successfully prosecuted egregious violations of various Fish and Game and Health and Safety Code laws associated with marijuana cultivation. He ensures that mandated property restoration work is included in court dispositions and then follows up – in some cases personally – to confirm the work was indeed completed.
  • Kamada prosecuted a poacher who attempted to shoot a wildlife officer, resulting in a 20-year prison sentence for the shooter. The incident occurred in 2016, when an officer came across a pickup truck whose occupants were spotlighting deer in a remote area of Humboldt County. When the officer attempted a traffic stop, one of the occupants began shooting from the bed of the truck while the driver sped away. During the course of the pursuit, 10 shots were fired at the officer. The truck eventually crashed and the suspects fled into the woods on foot, evading immediate capture. In August 2017, after many months of investigation and surveillance, the suspect who shot at the officer turned himself in.
  • In 2018, Kamada prosecuted an unusual case involving largescale poaching of Dudleya, a succulent plant that grows in a unique ecological niche along the Humboldt County coastline. The suspects were foreign nationals who poached 2,300 Dudleya for sale overseas. Kamada dedication to the case ultimately led to felony convictions on conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and false filing with the state, as well as misdemeanor convictions for removal of plant material from public lands and commercial sales of those plants.

Commission President Eric Sklar also offers high praise for Kamada’s efforts, noting, “Without strong prosecutors such as Deputy District Attorney Kamada, our natural resources would be at increased risk. We thank him for his important work and his commitment to safeguarding California’s biodiversity for the future.”

Late Bloomer’s Turn As A Shooting Star

Phots courtesy of Vera Koo

The following appears is in the June issue of California Sportsman:

Editor’s note: How successful has Vera Koo’s career been in the shooting sports? Her accomplishments – including gold medals in various individual and team events both domestically and internationally – fills three pages in her memoir. Koo, now 70, immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong, settled in San Francisco and, as a mother of three, shot a gun for the first time at 40. She became a world-class shooter over the next three decades, an incredible and – as the title of her book illustrates – rare feat. The following is excerpted from The Most Unlikely Champion, published by Balboa Press (a division of Hay House) and reprinted with permission. 

By Vera Koo (With Justin Pahl) 

From the outside, some people might look at the 2012 World Championships as my last great achievement in sport shooting. After all, I hadn’t won the Bianchi Cup since 2008. And less than a year later, I’d break my leg while preparing for the 2013 Bianchi Cup. 

But to me, shooting has never been about wins or losses. It’s been about the way the sport shapes you as a person – the way you have to be stronger, more disciplined, and more focused to shoot your best. It’s not about the people you’re shooting against. It’s about you – the things you’re bringing to the range, the disappointments and hopes, and your ability to set those aside. Shooting competitively is about facing challenges. Time and again, the sport has taught me how to get up after I fall.

So when I stepped onto the range in Columbia, Missouri, for the 2014 Bianchi Cup, I knew I wasn’t going to win my first title in six years. I knew I wasn’t going to be best newcomer. I wasn’t going to be leaving with any kind of prize. But then, most people don’t go to the range because they expect to win anything. 

WE ALL HOPE TO enjoy the challenge and the journey in self-discovery. Most of us that come back over and over are workaholics. We have that kind of rare total focus where we can walk off the range knowing that we shot the absolute best we could – and have that be enough.

My presence at the Bianchi Cup was against all odds. I was 67, and I’d shattered my leg. I’d grown up a Chinese-American woman in a family and culture that valued the old, traditional ways of life. And yet, in May 2014, there I was, ready to shoot. I was there because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to participate in another Bianchi Cup. Because I wanted to test my strength and ability to persevere. I wanted to put into practice the words “never give up.”

And I was also there because my mother had taught me what it is to live a life of kindness. Because my son, Bryan, had taught me how to get through unimaginable pain. Because (husband) Carlos has supported me, through thick and thin, and has always remained my partner. 

Above all, I was there because God has a plan for us. That plan isn’t always easy, but God is there every step of the way. And although we may not always see it, God is in every molecule of everything. If we’re listening to God’s plan, if we’re looking for His presence, anything is possible.

I like to think the sport-shooting world has changed over my time in the sport – that more and more women are involved in it. But I know it’s still a male-dominated world. But then, so many worlds are still male-dominated.

I realize that, as one of the prominent female shooters in the sport – and a prominent Chinese-American woman – I’m a bit of a rarity from my generation. I hope I’ll serve as an example to women from all backgrounds: that they can look at my story and see shooting can be a great sport for women. Since most women don’t have much experience shooting, they tend to be blank slates. This means it’s easier to take instruction, especially in a sport like target shooting. 

I hope more women get into the sport, as it builds self-esteem and discipline. Even if you don’t shoot competitively, knowing gun safety and understanding how to shoot well are great skills to have. CS

Editor’s note: Buy Vera Koo’s book at amazon.com/Most-Unlikely-Champion-Memoir/dp/1504388496. You can also check out her website (verakoo.com), like at facebook.com/officialverakoo and follow on Twitter and Instagram (@officialverakoo).

Vera has a crowded trophy case.

As Vera Koo prepared for last month’s NRA Bianchi Cup in Missouri, we sat down with her to learn more about her ascension to a champion shooter:

Chris Cocoles Congratulations on the book and for all of your success in your career. From the title of your book, how unlikely is your story as a world champion shooter?

Vera Koo Picture a petite 5-foot, 4-inch 116-pound, middle-aged Asian immigrant who is a mother of three and has no previous action pistol experience, entering a shooting range by herself. It’s very unlikely that you would be able to imagine that this woman would someday become an international and national champion in one of the most prestigious shooting competitions, pitted against the best shooters in the world. I’ve competed on the biggest stages, against the best marksmen, and I didn’t pick up a gun until the age of 40. 

CC Tell me about where your passion for shooting originated from and how you stuck with it through some personally difficult times.

VK My love for the shooting sport is derived from the challenges and the degree of difficulty that the Bianchi Cup poses. The sport pushes me to my personal limits, and it demands that I keep myself fit and healthy in both body and mind. I am a natural workaholic, so the immense workload that comes with the competitive sport seem to fit well into my personality traits. During personal crises in my life, I have found that the sport helped distract me from the emotional suffering of that time. The training and competition have become therapeutic for me.

CC How hard did you have to work in terms of practice and preparing for the level you eventually reached? 

VK When I had finally taken the Bianchi Cup competitions seriously, I practiced 1,000 rounds a day for seven days straight, regardless of the weather conditions. With temperatures ranging from 27 degrees to 110 degrees, snow, rain or shine, I remained dedicated to my passion. There were times I practiced so long that I would have to soak my hands in ice water in the middle of the night to alleviate the swelling. Even when I traveled, I would remain focused and take any opportunities to get practice in. 

CC I think you’ve become a role model for women everywhere. Did someone have a similar effect on you?

VK My mother was my role model. Although she did not go to college, she was incredibly intelligent and carried a spirited and optimistic outlook on life. She had a great capacity to cope with whatever came her way. My mother passed away in 2011. When I first started shooting in competitions, she advised me to stay home to take care of my husband and cook for him. So, while she had not encouraged me to further my shooting endeavors, she did not object to it after I had become very successful. Basically, I did not have much support from my immediate family and friends besides my husband until after I had won many national and international titles. I channel my mother’s spirit and mindset whenever I encounter difficulties in the sport, which always encourages me to never to give up.

CC I read a little bit about your affection for the term “shing ping” and it was inspiring. Can you share a little bit about what that means to you?

VK The words “shing ping” were actually spoken by one of my friends who played a lot of golf. He was speaking to me in Chinese when I heard this phrase, and it is the perfect phrase to describe my psychological mindset on the range. Shing ping is a concept where the heart and mind are at peace in the world. When I’m shooting, I know I’ve reached shing ping when I have completely blocked out all the other competitors, spectators and distractions. I am solely focused on my performance during the match. 

CC There’s so much controversy right now with guns, the Second Amendment and the rights of responsible firearm owners like you. Do you have an opinion on some of the misconceptions that are out there? 

VK The media has failed to address the fact to the public that the guns do not run around and hurt people. It is the people behind the guns that hurt others. We must address the current state of the mental health care system and breakdowns in family infrastructure. There are far too many single-parent households that need more family support. It is also crucial that we address where and how underaged people are getting their hands on guns and how we can prevent criminals and those who are not fit to operate a weapon from acquiring one.

Vera Koo and her husband Carlos

CC You and your husband Carlos have experienced a lot of adventures around the world. What was one of your most memorable?

VK The most memorable experience I had was spending five days with my husband and family in the Maldives, a republic occupying an archipelago of 1,087 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. It was a paradise in heaven – clear turquoise-blue water and manicured white sand beaches paired with ultimate luxury service and accommodations. But after three days, my husband said to me, “This is truly a paradise; everything is picture perfect and beautiful, but it gets kind of boring here.” My husband’s comments have made a lasting impression on me because I agreed with him. Living in absolute perfection without a care in the world and with no challenges or obstacles would become, as he said, boring.

CC It also looks like you do a lot of fishing in California. What are some of your outings like near home? 

VK I didn’t go onto my husband’s fishing trips. He usually went with his fishing buddies while I went to my shoots. The fishing trips near home were not as rewarding as some of his trips to Canada or Mexico. However, I will be going to Nootka Sound in British Columbia for salmon fishing during the peak season this July with my whole family, including my five granddaughters. In the Bay Area, my husband enjoys fishing the upper Sacramento River (striped bass and occasionally sturgeon), the Sacramento Delta (striped bass), Clear Lake (largemouth bass) and Lake Berryessa (bluegills and sunfish).

CC What advice would you give to young women and girls who want to be involved in the shooting sports/hunting?  

VK  I’ve always believed in learning and acquiring new skills. If you encounter someone who is willing to give their time to teach you something new, grab the opportunity! Even if you are not interested in the subject matter or if you feel that you are not ready, just fly by the seat of your pants and go. You will be amazed by what you will and can learn. Because ultimately all the skills that you have picked up in your lifetime will come together into one thing that is major for you. 

Everything that I have learned and experienced in my life has come together for me into one sport. For the girls who want to get involved in the shooting sports, the most important thing is to find a qualified firearm instructor to teach the fundamentals correctly. It was because I had learned to shoot very accurately before I embarked onto the path of competitive shooting that I could be successful in my endeavors. You can climb the ladder better in the world of competitive shooting if you have the basics down. Otherwise, you may hit a wall that stops you in your tracks. Additionally, practice is absolutely a necessary requirement if one wants to become good at doing anything.

CC Is there something else in shooting or for that matter anything else that you want to accomplish?

VK Beside promoting my book, The Most Unlikely Champion, I am looking to go take classes in computer graphic design. Since I was an art major in college, I would like to open a small business doing graphic design on brochures, ads and flyers at a discount rate to help small businesses that are just starting up. It will be a way to keep myself busy after I retired from my shooting sport, but that won’t be for quite some time! Right now, my mindset singularly set on the upcoming Bianchi Cup and World Action Pistol Competition that takes place in May. CS