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Klamath Management Zone Salmon Season Opening On June 1

Thomas Dunklin/NOAA

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

Additional sections of the California coast will open up to recreational ocean salmon fishing in June. In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California state line and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), the season will open June 1 and continue through Sept. 3, 2018. The Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas, which extend from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude) and Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), respectively, will open June 17 and continue through Oct. 31, 2018. The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico Border opened on Apr. 7 and will continue through July 2, 2018.

Shorter recreational ocean seasons in 2018 are the result of two key California salmon stocks attaining ‘overfished’ status this year. Both Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook have experienced three successive years of poor adult returns, in response to the drought and poor conditions for survival.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Pigeon Point and 24 inches in all areas south of Pigeon Point. The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. Retention of Coho Salmon (also known as Silver Salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.

In 2019, the recreational ocean salmon season will open Apr. 6 south of Horse Mountain. The minimum size limit will be 20 inches total length in the area from Horse Mountain to Point Arena and 24 inches total length in all areas south of Point Arena. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook salmon per day. The remainder of the 2019 ocean salmon season will be decided at the PFMC meeting in April 2019.

For the first time, state ocean salmon regulations will automatically conform to federal regulations using the new process described in the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1.95.  Federal regulations for ocean salmon were published in the Federal Register (83 FR 19005) on May 1, 2018, and are effective as of May 1, 2018.

Public notification of any in-season change is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline. Before engaging in any fishing activity for ocean salmon, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date information:

  • CDFW website, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon
  • National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline, (800) 662-9825
  • CDFW Ocean Salmon Hotline, (707) 576-3429

 

A ‘Dam’ Controversial Issue At Shasta

 

Wlkimedia user Apaliwal

When I was in high school. my dad and I took a road trip from the Bay Area up into Oregon. We went the California coast via Highway 101, cut across at Crescent City and crossed the border into Cave Junction, spent our second night in Medford, took a day trip to spectacular Crater Lake and then made better time going home by getting back to I-5. I remember stopping at the vista point and snapping some photos – I sure don’t know if I have them around anymore – overlooking three Shastas -Dam, Lake, Mountain, similar to the shot above via Wikimedia. It’s a great view.

Years later I better understood the importance Shasta Lake and its Dam has on the state’s water supply.  Now as California has endured another devastating drought and what appears to be a dangerous situation forthe state’s Chinook salmon population.  Now Shasta Dam is at the forefront of a proposed reconstruction.

The Sacramento Bee has a report on the dam and the role the McCloud River, which is formed on the eastern side of Shasta Lake.

A higher structure also would inundate parts of the McCloud, altering its current state.

“This is unquestionably a beautiful stretch of river,” said Westlands general manager Tom Birgmingham, as he walked along its banks last month. “The river deserves to be protected in its current form, but that’s going to have to give a little bit to raise the dam.”

Opponents of the dam project, however, are refusing to give at all. They include the state of California, a local Native American tribe and environmental and fishing groups.

They say raising the dam by 18.5 feet, under the current federal proposal, would submerge sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and ruin a stretch of a river prized by recreational trout anglers. They say it also would be a violation of the 1972 Wild and Scenic Rivers act, which prohibits the state from supporting projects that alter certain natural waterways.

Disagreement over raising Shasta Dam has been going on for decades. The Obama administration essentially tabled the issue over questions about who would foot the bill.

Now the $1.3 billion project has returned with force. Congress in March appropriated $20 million for pre-construction planning. The appropriation, part of a massive federal budget bill signed into law by President Donald Trump, was enough to touch off a political fracas stretching from Washington to Sacramento.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s natural resources secretary, John Laird, sent a letter to congressional leaders saying raising Shasta Dam would be flat-out illegal under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The law protects the McCloud against projects that would harm its “free-flowing condition,” Laird argued.

Here’s a little bit more from the Bee about the fishing ramifications:

Others have strong connections to the banks of the McCloud as well. For more than a century, much of the land along the river belonged to the Hills family of San Francisco, which owned the Hills Bros. coffee empire. The family turned the property into a private fly-fishing enclave known as the Bollibokka Club. Each year, wealthy sportsmen from the Bay Area and beyond come to the remote spot northeast of Redding where the Hills family had built a handful of rustic cabins.

In 2006, Birmingham, from the Westlands Water District, happened to vist the Bollibokka Club as a guest of his brother-in-law when a fishing guide began lamenting that the good times on the river were in danger of ending: A Bay Area developer was preparing to buy the land and build a bloc of posh vacation homes.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation had been kicking around the idea of raising Shasta Dam since 1980. Birmingham, seeing an opportunity, persuaded Westlands buy the property – the last seven miles of McCloud River canyon and the fishing club – in a deal worth $35 million.

Westlands took control of the Bollibokka, a club so exclusive that renting one of its cabins costs $7,300 a week and only 10 fishermen are allowed to wet their lines at a time. Westlands contracts with The Fly Shop in Redding to run the fishing operations. Maintaining Bollibokka is a loss for Westlands, but that’s besides the point, Brimingham said.

“Our concern was if this was the location of multi-million dollar vacation home sites, it would be more difficult to raise the dam,” he said.

Short Season Means High Prices For King Salmon

Photo by Harry Morse/CDFW

 

With a very limited salmon season facing not just recreational anglers but commercial fishers, the impact will likely come at your local supermarket. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle with more on the opening week of ocean Chinook fishing.

The local commercial salmon season opened Tuesday, but only in the region south of Half Moon Bay for a weeklong period. It will reopen for a 12-day period in late June. The region north of Pigeon Point/Half Moon Bay to Horse Mountain/Shelter Cove (Humboldt County) will be open for salmon fishing from late July through September and part of October. The Klamath Management Zone, a coastal area in Northern California and Southern Oregon near the Klamath River, will be open for salmon fishing for most of May through August, with daily and monthly quotas.

Two fishermen from the San Francisco Community Fishing Association planned to bring up 1,000 pounds of salmon Friday after landing them in Monterey, said member Larry Collins.

“The conditions are really good down there. The bay’s full of life,” said Collins, who noted there are a lot of squid and anchovies for the salmon to feed on and that the fish are coming in larger than normal for this early in the season.

Monterey Fish Market in Berkeley has California king salmon for $29.99 per pound, while Bi-Rite in San Francisco is selling it for $34.99 per pound at its two locations. Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley planned to start selling it Friday.

Usually open from at least May to September, this year’s California commercial salmon season is very limited because the current batch of adult salmon were born during the drought in 2015, which made their Sacramento River spawning grounds too warm and killed off many juvenile salmon.

OC Man Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Valuable Aquarium Fish

Wikimedia photo by user “Gingko100”

The Orange County Register has the details on a Garden Grove man who plead guilty to smuggling aquarium fish, and needless say it’s not the goldfish that you’d find at your local pet store.  Here’s OCR’s  Sean Emery with more:

A Garden Grove man is facing federal conspiracy and illegal wildlife-importation felonies after authorities say he was caught helping to smuggle Asian arowana fish into the United States from Indonesia.

Shawn Naolu Lee, 29, was one of two men indicted this month after federal prosecutors allege that they broke the Endangered Species Act by importing a species of fish facing extinction.

According to the indictment, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors on Feb. 9 found eight live arowanas inside of a postal package from Hong Kong.

Federal officials, who apparently intercepted the package, would not disclose what alerted them to it.

Fish and wildlife agents, dressed as delivery men, brought the fish to Lee’s Garden Grove home, according to the indictment. With the help of immigration and homeland security investigators, they took Lee into custody and searched his home. The search turned up bundles of cash totaling $15,370, according to a court document.

Lee denied any knowledge about the contents of the package, but an investigator wrote in a court filing that he referred to Asian arowanas as “Arrows,” which the investigator described as a “term of art of those who traffic in that type of fish.”

The story also says a single arowana can fetch as much as $150,000.

CDFW Accepting Proposals For Salmon, Watershed Restoration Issues

Harry Morse/CDFW

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for ecosystem restoration projects under its Proposition 1 Grant Programs. The Proposal Solicitation Notice released today includes a statewide focus on large-scale restoration projects, including salmon resiliency in the Central Valley, and restoration of watersheds damaged by recent wildfires.

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019, a total of $31.4 million in Proposition 1 funds will be made available through CDFW’s two Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $24 million in projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, while the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $7 million in projects that specifically benefit the Delta.

“While we continue to seek innovative restoration projects in our varied ecosystems, we must also acknowledge recent events, including the serious blow dealt to our watersheds by last year’s wildfires and the ensuing mudslides,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This solicitation represents a concerted effort to focus our efforts on the continued impacts from those events while maintaining our path forward.”

The FY 2018-2019 Proposal Solicitation Notice, application instructions and other information about the Restoration Grant Programs are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/watersheds/restoration-grants.

Proposals must be submitted online at https://watershedgrants.wildlife.ca.gov. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 4 p.m.

Approved projects will contribute to the objectives of California Water Action Plan and State Wildlife Action Plan, the Delta Plan, California EcoRestore and the fulfillment of CDFW’s mission.

Approved by California voters in November 2014, Proposition 1 provides funds to implement the three broad objectives of the California Water Action Plan: establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat and creating a more resilient, sustainably managed water resources system (water supply, water quality, flood protection and environment) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades.

The FY 2018-19 Solicitation is the fourth of ten planned solicitations under Proposition 1. To date, CDFW has awarded approximately $114 million to 109 projects statewide under its Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs.

Countdown To Trout Opener: ‘Fishmas’ Eve In Eastern Sierra

Photos by Mike Stevens

Saturday is the statewide general trout opener.  Our April issue commerates “Fishmas Day” and we’ll count down with a story every day this week leading into Saturday’s opening day.

Today: Eastern Sierra overview with focus on Crowley Lake

By Mike Stevens 

The last Saturday of April marks opening day of the Eastern Sierra general trout season, at which point every drop of rainbow-, cutthroat- and brown-holding water along the Highway 395 corridor can be legally fished.

Anglers from all over the state (and beyond) will flock to every fishable lake and creek from Lone Pine to Bridgeport, but the centerpiece of that spread is, without a doubt, Crowley Lake.

I have covered Crowley during each of the last half-dozen openers. Covered, as in reporting on and not fishing it. In doing so, I’ve walked the bank and talked to shore anglers, interviewed boaters when they’ve returned to the ramp, and chatted  with both types at the fish cleaning station or over cups of coffee in the shelter of the Crowley Lake Fish Camp store. 

Despite the wide range of environmental factors that have characterized each of those “Fishmas Day” events, I’ve seen consistent patterns of angler success emerge at this particular waterbody on opening day. 

 

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT ON APRIL 28 

The biggest catches on opening weekend will likely be brown trout from one of the big lakes in the Bridgeport area, but I would bet Crowley yields more in the 4- to 7-pound range than anywhere else, as well as will sport a better variety of trout. The Crowley Fish Camp staff keeps a running record of each quality fish weighed in for the Fred J. Hall Memorial Opening Day Big Fish Contest, and it’s pretty consistent from one year to the next. 

For one thing, the smallest fish that make the log are in the 2-pound range and there are pages of 3- to 5-pounders, along with whatever biggies get caught. Those are just fish that are reported, and based on the sheer number of anglers who hit Crowley on opening day, it’s likely that well under half that do hit the official scale. 

If in my years of coverage there was a fish over 10 pounds caught, I don’t remember it, but everything that’s landed is quality. Up in Bridgeport, you can almost count on at least one double-digit brown being caught each opener, but beyond that it’s a lot of smaller stockers that are filling stringers. 

CUTTS AT CROWLEY 

Another thing you can bet on is that the logbook will be dominated by cutthroat trout. Crowley has an incredible population of cutts that have access to solid spawning habitat, including McGee Creek, the Owens River and some other smaller tributaries. The funny thing is, most of the shore anglers just think they are catching exceptionally awesome-looking rainbows. Rather, the fish are very much cutthroat, and this time of year at Crowley, most trout in the 5-pound class that aren’t browns are cutts. Rainbows that end up on stringers are typically in the 1- to 3-pound range.

 

IT’S A TROLLING THING 

Trolling is a year-round go-to tactic at Crowley Lake, with opening day being no different. Throughout the summer there is a lot of leadcore lure dragging going on to get deeper, but that is not the case early in the season.

Almost every boater I ask – and it’s usually also marked in the log – is “top line” (or flat-line) trolling using monofilament line with regular gear. The only difference might be kicking line weights up a notch – maybe to 6-pound test – to handle more of an impact than if you were casting.

Top trolling lures are always the same (I don’t even have to look at my notes): minnow-imitating baits like Rapalas, Owner Cultiva and Berkley Flicker Shad, and metal stuff like Needlefish, Thomas Buoyants and Kastmasters. I don’t know what category Tasmanian Devils fit into, but they are absolute killers on the troll at Crowley.

Use a size or two bigger – on each of those – than you would reach for if you were casting, and experiment with trolling speeds and how far behind the boat the lures are positioned. 

Anywhere on the lake can produce, so plan on covering some ground to find biters. Still, popular areas to troll off of include Chalk Cliffs, Alligator Point, Leighton Springs and Green Banks. You can find a map on crowleylakefishcamp
.com, and there are free printouts of it in the store at the lake. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ROOM TO FISH 

Despite the unmatched angler traffic Crowley gets on this most popular day of days, the shoreline features miles of access, and you actually can escape the crowds if you’re willing to hoof it from areas bumper to bumper with RVs. 

I will say this, though: sleep in. Cars will be lined up at the gate well before dawn, but every year without fail shore anglers give me the same story: “We got here first thing in the morning and we didn’t get any bites until 8 a.m.”

Yes, that’s give or take 45 minutes or so, but I’ve yet to hear of wide-open fishing for bank robbers at zero-dark-thirty. I don’t even show up until after 8 because getting there before many fish are caught doesn’t really accomplish anything. I mean, get out there early if that’s just how you do it, or if you want to maximize your time on the water, but by no means should you feel that you are missing some sort of “bite window” by enjoying your coffee and letting the main rush of vehicles pour in. 

DON’T BANK ON ANYTHING 

Here’s the part many will see as a bummer: It’s a bait-and-wait game from shore. I’d love to tell you that sight fishing for schools of trout with jigs or fan casting with Buoyants will get the job done, but for whatever reason, it’s not the way to go at Crowley on Fishmas. I run across a few here and there along the shore or in the logbook, but it’s less than 10 percent from what I’ve seen. 

Using a sliding sinker or casting bubble rig with PowerBait, a nightcrawler or Berkley Mice Tail on the business end is money for rainbows, cutthroat and the odd brown that forgets he’s a brown. I have seen a guy limit in about 20 minutes using a fly-and-bubble set-up with a Woolly Bugger, while the rest of the cove he was in was enjoying a steady pick. But I also see him in the same spot every year, and it doesn’t always work for him. 

The bottom line is, chuck lures here and there in case the trout are that aggressive, but plan on still-fishing to catch dinner. A two-rod stamp is the way to go if you aren’t the type who can just sit there with a rod propped between a couple rocks; send out the bait rig and huck lures while you wait. CS

 

Tag Applications Available For Merced County Deer/Pig Hunts


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 now accepting applications for a limited number of deer and pig hunt access permits on opening weekend, Aug. 11-12, 2018 in Zone A for the general season.

The locations for this hunt include Upper and Lower Cottonwood Creek and the San Luis Reservoir wildlife areas. Reservations are required to access the wildlife areas and only 30 permits will be issued for each day. Interested hunters can apply online at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/wa/region4/cottonwoodcreek.html or request an access permit application by calling the CDFW Los Banos office at (209) 826-0463 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Applications may be submitted via e-mail to Sean.Allen@wildlife.ca.gov or mailed to CDFW’s Los Banos office at 18110 W. Henry Miller Avenue, Los Banos, CA 93635.

Only official applications will be accepted and must be received before 4:30 p.m. on July 3. Reservations will be selected by a computerized drawing at 11 a.m. on July 5. The drawing will be open to the public. Successful applicants will be notified by mail within five working days of the drawing.

Up to three people may apply as one party by including all the required information on the 2018 Zone A application form. Junior license holders may also apply if accompanied by an adult hunter.

Applicants may apply for a one-day hunt on one area only. An individual’s name may appear in the drawing only once and additional or duplicate applications will be disqualified from the drawing.

 

Countdown To Trout Opener: Brown Bagging It In The Sierra

Photos by Nancy Rodriguez and Joe Rodriguez 

Saturday is the statewide general trout opener.  Our April issue commerates “Fishmas Day” and we’ll count down with a story every day this week leading into Saturday’s opening day.

Today: From frowns to browns;

By Nancy Rodriguez 

It never ceases to amaze me, the lengths people go to catch a fish. I’m certainly no exception, and this day would drive the point home in a slightly comical and most unpleasant way. 

With our hunting season wrapped up, my husband Joe and I decided to take advantage of the delayed winter weather. Since the Sierra snowstorms had been fairly mild to this point, we figured we could make it up to some of our favorite lakes high in the mountains. 

After an early-morning wake up and hours spent slipping and sliding down snow- and ice-covered roads, we finally arrived at our destination. We layered up in warm clothes, grabbed our fishing gear and started the journey to our brown trout honey hole. We would be targeting browns for the day. 

We ducked and weaved to avoid low-slung, snow-covered pine branches as we hiked, slipped, and stumbled down the hillside and through the forest. After a short hike, the thick trees gave way to open shoreline and I spotted a less-than-ideal obstacle between us and our honey hole: a frigid stream that had to be crossed.

The creek was running fast and I knew the water was going to be seriously painful. Joe and I simultaneously removed our shoes and socks, rolled up our pant legs, looked at each other and shook our heads. We jumped into the knee-high creek. Within seconds, the ice water produced a not-so-pleasant electrical current that pierced our feet, ran up our legs and quickly jumped into our brains as if to ask, What the heck are you doing?! 

By the time that registered we were halfway across and our feet were far too numb to feel the river rocks we were scrambling across. Unfortunately, that didn’t lessen the pain signal bouncing around further up our bodies. After what felt like forever – it was probably 30 seconds – the two of us stumbled up the bank on the other side. 

We piled up onto the icy rocks and cradled our now frozen, wet feet and just laughed. What we won’t do for a fish!

WITH OUR FEET DRY, our shoes on and steam issuing with every breath, I hiked along the shoreline and constantly scanned for any sign I might be closing in on my destination. With growing anticipating I soon saw it: a submerged rock pile. These always seem to be the perfect ambush spot for predatory browns.

With cautious steps, I made my way out onto the icy rocks, took aim and sent my CountDown Rapala strung on 6-pound-test line arching across the golden sky. 

At touchdown, I counted to 20 in my mind. As the lure sank into the dark abyss, I imagined giant browns moving in to investigate. These are the moments that most anglers dream about, and my daily worries seemed to fade away. Then the game began – jerk, jerk, three quick turns of the reel, followed by repeat. 

Every 10 feet or so, I would let the lure sink a few feet and start the pattern again. My dancing retrieve was meant to replicate an injured baitfish. I usually test different tempos throughout the day until I find one that works, but for now this is what I was going with. 

Just as my tempo slowed and my lure sank again I felt an unmistakable tap telegraph up the line and into my hands. I reeled up the slack, leaned back with the rod and tightened the line as I watched my rod bow under tension. Fish on! 

The challenge of landing this fish started as I slowly gained line. The choppy water did little to hide the glowing gold streak below the surface. My adrenaline spiked as he made a mad dash to the surface and leapt into the air and shook the hook with all his might. I prayed I wouldn’t lose him.

My net was submerged and waiting as the battle played out along the shore. I ever so gently scooped him into the black mesh and took a moment to admire his stunning golden colors as they shimmered in the morning sunlight.  

WE LOVE TO SPEND late winter and early spring targeting brown trout here in California, and this past season we were fortunate enough to make several cold weather fishing trips happen. We have a kayak that we fish from in warmer temps, but in colder months we prefer to fish from shore. Since brown trout are ambush predators, they like to hold in some pretty specific spots that are easily accessible from the bank. When we head up to the mountain lakes and specifically target browns, the things I concentrate on are location, lure/bait selection, depth of retrieve and retrieval speed and tempo.

The first factor I look for is location. I like to check for submerged rock piles or stumps that may act as a natural ambush spot for brownies. I prefer rocks with a big drop-off to deeper water and dramatic contours. I also tend to snag up less on rocks than I do on stumps, but we do catch plenty of fish right alongside stumps. 

They seem to hang out and hide literally right on the edge of structure and wait for the prey to come to them. I usually try to cast far beyond the structure and plan my retrieve to come as close as I can get without hanging up. 

The other benefit to shore fishing rock piles is that after your lure sinks, your retrieve will follow the lake’s contour – close to the bottom – all the way back to the bank. From a boat, if you’re casting toward shore and retrieving, your lure leaves the bottom as it is pulled back up toward the boat. This gives you far less time in the strike zone.

OH, YES, THE TRUSTY lures. It seems that most anglers have their “go-to” bait or tackle that they buy season after season. That’s what keeps the tackle companies in business. 

Joe and I have invested a lot of time and money to find our go-to lures that have repeatedly worked for brown trout. A few of the lures that have produced nice fish consistently are sinking Rapalas in a brown trout and rainbow trout pattern, as well as Krocodile spoons in silver. 

We have even had days where we do a weedless rig on a big nightcrawler – in the same way that bass fishermen rig a rubber worm – and bounce it along the bottom to produce some browns. Every now and then we will pick up a bonus holdover rainbow trout on these lures. 

Just like us, fish can be finicky. Some days we want to eat chicken and on others we want steak, so if the browns aren’t hitting we will try whatever else is in our arsenal.

Depth is also a factor in finding the fish. Sometimes it takes several casts to find out the depth they are hanging at. It seems that once you pick up a fish at, let’s say, a 20-second drop in one area, you are likely to hit another one at the same depth working down the shore. 

I am no expert, but in my opinion it seems that depth varies day to day, with moon phases, barometric pressure and water temperature as factors. I have caught them at different depths just one week apart with close to the same ambient temperature. 

Joe occasionally laughs at me because I will cast over and over in the exact same spot just running different depths until I find the fish, or not. He will have already worked three rock piles down the shore while I’m still at the same area. Sometimes it works and, well, sometimes it doesn’t. 

THE MORE I FISH, the more I realize how important the retrieve can be. Many moons ago, I would launch my lure and reel in in the same steady tempo on every cast. Sometimes I would catch a fish and would be ecstatic, but I learned quickly that you need to vary the speed of the retrieve to have better success. 

In the winter, the fish can be sluggish and you literally have to slow your tempo so they don’t have to exert much energy to hit your lure. Other times, they are being finicky and you have to give massive erratic movement to even spark their interest. 

I usually have good luck reeling at a good tempo, then stopping and letting the lure sink a bit as if the bait is injured. Then I will do a couple of quick jerks and repeat. A lot of the time, they will hit on the drop. 

And some days, no matter what you throw or how you retrieve, it just doesn’t come together. That’s why it’s called fishing and not catching.

NEAR THE END OF this particular fishing day, Joe and I had caught and released nine browns that averaged 16 inches and going up to 20 inches. We had one shallow, stump-laden cove to work around before attempting the stream crossing again. 

As we neared the edge of the water, the stumps loomed hauntingly below the surface. A small ripple broke the surface 20 feet out and disrupted the mountains’ reflection on the glassy water. Joe took aim and sent his rainbow trout-patterned CountDown Rapala well past the ripple. 

Joe did a high-speed retrieve just below the surface until the lure was in the place the ripple had been. Once there, he let it drop two seconds and twitched it twice. Slam! Fish on! 

This square-tailed trophy was the biggest fish of the day. The drag screamed as line peeled off the reel with each run. It was nerve-wracking. Soon the fish grew tired and started to parallel the shoreline. Now only 15 feet away, we could see it was a monster 24-plus-incher!

As I removed the net from my pack and prepared to land the fish, I noticed a stump in the direction the trout was heading. Joe quickly shifted the rod from left to right, applied extra hand tension to the spool and leaned back on the rod to turn the fish before it reached the stump. 

In an instant, the big brown flicked his tail and ripped drag all the way around the ancient tree. The line now bowed around the stump and the fish was fighting for its life. With one more headshake he was gone. 

We both sat there staring at the water in disbelief. A few seconds passed and I looked at Joe and said, “He’ll be bigger next year and you can always look forward to the stream crossing to cheer you up.” With that, we both laughed and started the hike back.

Did I ever mention I hate tree stumps? CS

Editor’s note: Nancy Rodriguez lives in Cool (El Dorado County) with her husband Joe. She is an outdoor enthusiast who loves to fish, hunt and backpack. Nancy is on the Field Staff for Prois Hunting Apparel and a Brand Rep for Rockstarlette Outdoors and enjoys inspiring women to get outdoors.

Spiny Lobster Report Cards Due On April 30

 

CDFW photo

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds 2017-2018 Spiny Lobster Report Card holders to submit online or return their cards by April 30, 2018, as required by law. The cards must be reported even if no lobsters were taken or no attempts were made to take lobsters.

Information collected from the cards provides CDFW with data necessary to monitor and manage California’s spiny lobster fishery. Card holders should review their report cards carefully and check that the information recorded is complete and accurate.

Any 2017-2018 Spiny Lobster Report Card holder who fails to submit online or return his or her card(s) by April 30, 2018 will be charged a non-return fee of $21.60 upon purchase of a 2018-2019 Spiny Lobster Report Card. Otherwise, he or she may choose to skip the 2018-2019 fishing season to be able to purchase a spiny lobster report card a following season at no extra cost. If multiple spiny lobster report cards were purchased, all cards, including lost cards, should be reported to avoid the non-return fee when purchasing a spiny lobster report card next lobster fishing season.

Spiny Lobster Report Card data can be submitted online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/FishingHarvest or by mail to:

CDFW – Lobster Report Card
3883 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA 92123

For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program, please visit CDFW’s California Spiny Lobster webpage.

Countdown To Trout Opener: Mono County Is Ready

Photos by Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Saturday is the statewide general trout opener.  Our April issue commerates “Fishmas Day” and we’ll count down with a story every day this week leading into Saturday’s opening day.

Today: Opener opportunities abound in Mono County

By Chris Cocoles

The last Saturday in April is marked on so many anglers’ calendars year after year. The statewide trout opener is an unofficial holiday – fishing fanatics don’t call it Fishmas for nothing – in which rainbows, browns and brookies are as revered as Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter eggs and Halloween candy.

“I think the locals are almost more excited than our visitors are for opening day. Fishing the opener is our chance to get back out to all our favorite local fishing spots,” says Jeff Simpson, a local angler and economic development manager for Mono County. “But more than that, it symbolizes the end of winter. Opening day is really a promise that summer is just around the corner!”

WACKY WEATHER 

Now that April has arrived and the countdown will soon shift from weeks to days until the opener, it’s time to start looking ahead to expectations. A late-March storm dumped a significant amount of snow in the Sierra, which will surely have an impact as the season gets closer. 

The March surge of wet weather came after a mostly dry winter. Social media began using the hashtag #MammothMarch from the snowfall that accumulated starting at the beginning of last month. 

“We had 87 inches on Mammoth Mountain as of March 20.  This great, late snow will certainly help the snowpack and keep our lakes and rivers full,” Simpson says. “You won’t see the c.f.s. and runoff that we experienced last year but we still have so much water left from last winter that our lakes and reservoirs will be full well into late fall. The drier winter overall to date also means that we will have early access to some of the higher-elevation lakes like Virginia Lakes, Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake, Saddlebag Lake and Rock Creek Lake.”

Overall Simpson is anticipating a good spring and summer in the Eastern Sierra. 

“We are very excited for the 2018 fishing season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced they will move back to stocking diploid trout in all waters south of Conway Summit, which is terrific news for our fisheries,” he says. “Our partnership with (Oregon’s Desert Springs Trout Farm) is now in its fourth year and we will be continuing to stock the 6- to 9-pound rainbows that have been so successful over the last few years.”

BATTLING THE CROWDS

Weather is always a factor for the trout opener, but crowds are usually large regardless. So combat fishing is usually the name of the game at some of the more popular destinations like Convict and Crowley Lakes, the June Lake Loop and several creeks and rivers. 

“The best advice is to get on the water early or come late and think about docking your boat with the local marina operator. This will allow you to skip the launching line and get you fishing faster during those early-morning hours,” Simpson says. “Other places like the West Walker River, Lundy Lake, Lee Vining Canyon and Robinson Creek offer excellent fishing and more space so you don’t feel like you are shoulder-to-shoulder with other anglers.

DERBY DIZZY 

From opening day through the summer and into the fall, the Eastern Sierra features fishing derbies and contests, including several during the April 28-29 opening weekend alone. So which one(s) should trout anglers enter if heading over?

“This could be the hardest decision for anyone coming up for opening weekend,” says Simpson, who says some of the best early events include the Fred J. Hall Opening Day Big Fish Contest at Crowley Lake; the Monster Fish Contest at the June Lake Loop; Annett’s Mono Village Fishing Derby at Upper Twin Lakes; the Convict Lake Cash Derby; the Bridgeport Lake Locals Only contest; the Tom’s Place Fishmas Day derby; and the Gull Lake Fish of the Month Derby. 

Go to monocounty.org/thingstodo/events for more detailed info.

Simpson says to also watch the Mono County Facebook page (facebook.com/visiteasternsierra) and to check for updated fishing reports at monocounty.org/things-to-do/fishing/fishing-reportsCS