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Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Shut Down

CDFW photo.


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

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has enacted a commercial spiny lobster fishery closure effective immediately.

State health agencies determined that spiny lobster near Anacapa Island, Ventura County and the east end of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) of spiny lobster.

The commercial closure includes all state waters around Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands east of 119° 40.000’ W. longitude, and west of 119° 20.000’ W. longitude. State waters extend three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks.

This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at CDPH, determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in spiny lobster to determine when the fishery can safely be opened.

Pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 5523, the Director of CDFW will notify the Fish and Game Commission of the closure and request that the Commission schedule a public discussion of the closure at its next scheduled meeting.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level, which is 20 parts per million in the viscera of spiny lobster.

For More Information:
Advisory from CDPH (10/24/2017)

Memo from OEHHA (10/24/17)

CDFW Declaration of Fisheries Closure (10/24/2017)


Bass Tactic Inspired By America’s Heartland

Author Mark Fong (below) swears by a set-up inspired by Missouri bass angler Ned Kehde. The lightweight lead head jig rig should be a staple in all tackle boxes. (MARK FONG)

The following appears in the October issue of California Sportsman: 

By Mark Fong 

One of the hottest set-ups in the bass fishing world today is the Midwest finesse rig. 

Known also as the “Ned rig” for its creator, Missourian Ned Kehde, the set-up is, in its simplest form, a small, lightweight, mushroom-shaped leadhead jig weighing anywhere from 1/16 to ¼ ounce and matched with a diminutive soft plastic offering. 

While there are many different plastic bait styles that work well, perhaps the most popular is a cigar-shaped stickbait. Anglers typically choose between a small 3-incher or a standard-sized stickbait that has been trimmed down to a length between 2½ and 4 inches.



Jighead worms have been around for a long time and have caught untold numbers of bass, but I do have to say there is something special about the Midwest finesse rig that just plain catches fish. It has a subtle yet appealing profile that excels when conditions make for difficult fishing. Based on its skyrocketing popularity, it is clear that I am not the only one to think this way. In fact, the rig has become a staple for tournament anglers everywhere.

The rig is very easy to fish: simply swim it, drag it, shake it or deadstick it. The choice is yours. Best of all, the rig generates lots of bites, making it the ideal choice for beginning anglers or kids.

In response to its success and popularity, many tackle companies now offer specific jigheads and plastics geared for the Midwest finesse rig. I have had good success with a homemade leadhead jig matched with a shortened Yamamoto Senko. 

There are many productive colors, but I like shades of green or brown. I will stick with green pumpkin, baby bass or watermelon when in doubt.

There is more to this technique than just the bait; a medium-action spinning combo will help to maximize your success and enjoyment. I use a Cousins Tackle Raze RSK 752S 7-foot, 6-inch spinning rod; and pair it with a 2500-series spinning reel filled with 15-pound FINS 40G Braid connected to a leader of 6-pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon Line. Braid casts well, is super sensitive and strong, and the fluorocarbon leader is abrasion-resistant and super stealthy.

If you love to catch bass and have not yet fished the Midwest finesse rig, you owe it to yourself to tie one on. 

A Memorable Day On The Water For Vets

The following press release is courtesy of NOAA:

Larry Brown described himself as an “old retired guy,” but sounded more like a military recruiter as he addressed nearly 30 veterans on the stern of the sportfishing vessel Betty O, moored at Dock 52 in Marina Del Rey, California, in August.

“So what I’m going to try and do is enlist you to be a soldier again, protecting our environment,” Brown told the captivated audience. “You’ve already been soldiers, and when you think about the environment, it needs protecting just like our country does.”

Volunteer Larry Brown, right, celebrates a successful catch with veterans aboard the Betty O. Photo: Jim Milbury, NOAA

Larry sponsors a veterans fishing program also supported by the Los Angeles Rod and Reel ClubMarina Del Rey Anglers, and the California Coastal Conservancy. The program gives veterans struggling with personal challenges a day of recreation on the ocean and an opportunity to learn about marine stewardship. To enhance the program, NOAA Fisheries is designing a sea stewardship handbook that describes pressing issues facing our ocean—such as marine debris, polluted runoff, and ocean acidification—and explains how individuals can make a difference.

Fishing success on the Betty O. Photo: Jim Millbury, NOAA

The California State Coastal Conservancy partially funds the program to help fulfill its mission of increasing public access to coastal resources and educating the public about them.

“The Coastal Conservancy provides funding for the veterans’ program through the Explore the Coast Program,” said Evyan Sloane, a project manager for the Coastal Conservancy. “The program really focuses on public access by providing grants to non-profits, schools, and local government to get their communities out to the coast and educate the community about their coastal resources.”

Larry’s pitch on the environment met with endorsements of “Hooah!” when ethical angling and protecting marine mammals from marine pollution came up. Whether on the water for the first time or seasoned boaters, the veterans were excited and ready to learn more.

Sponsors offer the trips in partnership with the Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital and the CalVet Veterans Home program. According to Brown, doctors and recreational therapists say the fishing program is one of most popular recreational opportunities for veterans in Southern California.

Zach Schakner, NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Recreational Fisheries Coordinator, also noted that the program meets an objective in NOAA Fisheries’ Recreational Fishing Implementation Plan. The plan calls for promoting fishing opportunities for children, veterans, disabled anglers, and others who otherwise may never experience the fun of getting on the water and catching a fish.

“This program and those like it not only provide participants direct and enriching opportunities with nature, but they also greatly increase awareness of important marine stewardship and ethical fishing practices,” Schakner said.

A perfect catch on the Betty O. Photo: Jim Millbury, NOAA

Several veterans, including Eugene Rivera, have enjoyed repeat fishing excursions. Rivera has his nickname, “Buddha,” tattooed on his arm just below “U.S. Army.”

“I was in the U.S. Army from 1979 until 1987,” Rivera said aboard the Betty O. “I look forward to going out because it is the most exciting day of my life.”

Phil Bell, also known as “Fisherman Phil,” coordinates the trips for Marina Del Rey Anglers. He darts around the boat – fixing tangled lines and snags, attaching bait, and talking to the veterans.

“The veterans love it and you can see they’re having a great time,” Bell said. “One guy just got back from Iraq about a year ago, came off the boat, came up to me and said, ‘Phil, this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me since I’ve gotten home from Iraq.’ That was really great to hear.”

After a full day of fishing, the Betty O returned to its slip in Marina del Rey, its passengers tired but full of stories and appreciation for the ocean.

“What we find is just being with them, spending the day with them, and treating them to a day on the water is the best way to say thanks,” said Brown. “It doesn’t have to come out of our mouth, they just know it, feel it, and appreciate it.”

For more information on recreational fishing in NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, visit


Bay Area Hatchery Fish OK So Far Amid Devastating Fires

CDFW photo.

As a Bay Area native, I keep thinking about how many fellow NorCal residents have been devastated by the fires raging through Sonoma and Napa Counties. And while the tragedy of multiple fatalties and hundreds of destroyed homes should be the primary focus right now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found some good news – at least for now – regarding its hatchery fish in the area.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s longtime outdoors writer Tom Stienstra has more:

The vast majority of 710,000 salmon and trout — including the state fish, the golden trout — and 100,000 eggs at two state hatcheries survived this week’s wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Silverado Fisheries Base, located in Napa along the Silverado Trail, lost power for 24 to 48 hours, leaving some 200,000 fish without fresh water, aeration or food after staff was evacuated Monday. But an official said Thursday that only “minimal losses” were incurred.

“One fishery worker went back in late Wednesday, escorted by game wardens,” said Peter Tira, a department spokesman. “Much to our surprise, the fish were doing well, the eggs doing well.” 

 Meanwhile, Warm Springs Hatchery, downstream of Lake Sonoma near Geyserville, remained fully functional as of Thursday, even as nearby areas were evacuated. Tira said there are 160,000 endangered coho salmon and 350,000 steelhead at the facility being grown for release into the Russian River.
“It’s a very important hatchery,” Tira said. “The folks are there right now, and it’s up and running.”


At Silverado, power was restored by Thursday, and Tira said workers were eager to return to their posts and take care of the fish they are raising, though they are under evacuation standby alerts.

The Silverado hatchery is home to about 200,000 golden trout. The goldens are very small at this point in the season, about 2 inches, Tira said, a critical stage of their lives as they are grown out over the winter to be stocked in high-elevation lakes.


Quail Outlook Solid For California

Quail photo by CDFW.

Our lead writer Tim Hovey wrote a quail hunting preview that will appear in the October issue. And here’s a press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with some good news:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists are expecting a very good quail hunting season when the general seasons open, thanks to rebounding populations that benefitted from California’s wet fall and winter in 2016.

California’s prolonged drought reduced quail populations statewide. Biologists found overall declines of 33 percent for mountain quail, 29 percent for California quail and 17 percent for Gambel’s quail from 2005 to 2015 using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Quail populations fluctuate naturally with weather and other prevailing environmental conditions such as wildfires. Fortunately, 2016 brought a shift in weather conditions for California. The rain received was critical to the production of food and cover for quail populations. Perhaps most importantly, rains produce more insects, which are a vital food source for young quail.

Detailed information on California’s various quail hunting zones, including season dates, descriptions and a map, is available at CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage: wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds.

As a result of the same wet weather conditions, CDFW regional biologists are expecting a strong chukar hunting season as well, particularly in desert habitat that often experiences boom-and-bust population swings based on the amount of rainfall.

CDFW is offering several special quail and chukar hunting opportunities this fall and winter at ecological reserves and wildlife areas in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting opportunities on private land, is offering several quail hunts in Santa Barbara County this fall and winter. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can also apply for these hunts through the ALDS system. Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s SHARE Program webpage: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

California is phasing in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting. Nonlead ammunition is required for hunting quail when on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves in California. Learn more about California’s nonlead ammunition requirements for hunting at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Bears Are Active Now, So Be Cautious

Photo courtesy of CDFW

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the U.S. Forest Service remind citizens visiting or living in the high country and foothills that fall is the time of year for increased bear foraging activity and more human and bear encounters are possible.

California black bears are typically active and foraging between April and mid-fall, but in autumn, black bears experience changes in metabolism that drives the need to consume as many rich calories as possible. This metabolic spike is an important signal to the bear to bulk up and gain the fat that will sustain the animal through hibernation and periods of lean food sources. Scientists estimate that black bears may forage as many as 20 hours a day at this time.FS-OfficialColor5inch Resized

During this transition, residents in bear country are asked to diligently manage food, garbage and other attractants around the home and yard in order to avoid attracting bears. Residents leaving cabins for the season should remove all attractants from the cabins, and seal and lock all doors and windows. Crawl spaces under houses or porches should be sealed in order to prevent them from becoming denning sites.

Here are things to know:

  • Bears have a sense of smell seven times stronger than a bloodhound and eyesight as good as a human’s
  • Any scent, especially one of odorous foods like fish or other meats, may attract a bear to your home and yard
  • Remove bird feeders completely until later in the year
  • Remove fallen fruit off the ground promptly
  • Use bear-resistant garbage cans and wait to set trash out until the day of pick up
  • Store pet food inside
  • Do not leave food or other scented items in your car
  • Bears fed intentionally or unintentionally by people may become bold and aggressive—they may be killed if they become a threat to public safety or cause property damage

In the rare event a bear breaks into your home, move to a safe location and contact local authorities. Wildlife experts caution against directly confronting the bear or blocking the bear’s escape route.

Visitors to bear country should act responsibly and be mindful of their safety while in bear habitat. Camping season is ending in many areas, but with the cooler temperatures, fall hiking is very popular in the mountains and foothills and visitors often flock to salmon spawning sites in hopes of getting a glimpse of a bear. Wildlife experts offer these important tips:

  • Be alert on trails (avoid wearing headphones)
  • Keep a respectful and safe distance from bears at all times
  • Do not attempt to take “selfies” with bears or other wildlife
  • Never feed a bear – it is unlawful and dangerous to people and may result in the needless death of a bear.

For an expanded list of living and recreating in bear country, please visitwww.wildlife.ca.gov/keep-me-wild/bear.

For information about being, bear aware while visiting national forests, please visit http://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/bears .

To learn more about black bear ecology, please visitwww.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/black-bear/biology.

Deer Killed By Bowhunter On Residential Street

The above video coems from Los Angeles CBS TV affiliate KCAL.  A young buck was fatally shot by a bowhunter in a residential neighborhood in Monrovia, though the hunter who came forward said he was legally hunting in the nearby forested area and was humanely trying to finish off the already hit deer.

Here’s more from the report:

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.”

Some residents aren’t believing it.

“I think he’s got a little fib going here covering his tracks,” resident Robyn Tapert said. “So don’t come back and do that in our neighborhood because we actually care for the wildlife up here.”

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are investigating the incident.

Here Are Your New Spiny Lobster Regulations

Spiny lobster photo by CDFW.

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

As the popular recreational California Spiny Lobster fishing season prepares to open on Saturday, Sept. 30, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds divers and hoop netters of new regulations that will be in effect for the 2017-2018 season. The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) adopted commercial and recreational lobster fishing regulations at its April 2016 meeting to support the implementation of the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan. A summary of the new recreational lobster fishing regulations is provided below. All other recreational lobster fishing regulations, unless listed below, remain unchanged and remain in effect:

The 2017-2018 recreational lobster fishing season will open at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. The start time of the recreational lobster fishing season has changed from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. for safety purposes. Open season: From 6 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after March 15 (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (a)).

Hoop net buoys south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must now be marked for identification and enforcement purposes. Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on the operator’s sport fishing license or lobster report card (shared hoop nets can be marked with multiple GO ID numbers, or GO ID numbers can be switched out by using any sort of removable tag on or attached to the buoy, so long as the GO ID numbers are all legible). Hoop nets deployed by persons on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (b)(3)). Hoop nets deployed from Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels must be marked with the boat’s Fish and Game Vessel ID number, and hoop nets provided by licensed guides to clients must be marked with the guide’s license number.

Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment while diving for crustaceans (including lobsters). Language on the possession of a hooked device while taking lobster has changed to provide clarification for both recreational divers and enforcement. Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in section 29.05, skin and SCUBA divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only. Divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive. Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment as long as possession of such equipment is otherwise lawful and is not being used to aid in the take of crustaceans (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (g)).

Measuring requirements have been clarified in order to allow for measuring lobster aboard a boat. The change will allow hoop netters to bring spiny lobster aboard a vessel where they can be measured safely.All lobsters shall be measured immediately and any undersize lobster shall be released immediately into the water. Divers shall measure lobsters while in the water and shall not remove undersized lobsters from the water. Hoop netters may measure lobsters out of the water, but no undersize lobster may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his or her direct control (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (c)).

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

Sonoma Duo Earn CDFW’s Hunter Education Instructor Honors

Photo by CDFW

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) named Sonoma County husband and wife Tom and Sharon Henderson as 2017 Hunter Education Instructors of the Year. This is the first time the honor has been awarded to two instructors.

“The Hendersons are an amazing team who have dedicated so much to the Hunter Education Program. It would have been impossible not to recognize them both,” said Lt. Bart Bundesen, who coordinates California’s Hunter Education Program on the North Coast.

The Hendersons teach an average of 25 classes a year at the Rancho Adobe Fire Department in Cotati. In 2016 alone, they taught 633 students. Those students and their parents offer frequent accolades about the instructors.

“I get a regular stream of compliments about the job that the Hendersons do,” Bundesen said. “Their ability to help younger students understand the important lessons of the course is one of their greatest assets.”

CDFW Wildlife Officer Tiffany Wolvek said, “Without them, many would likely not make it out to the field as they would struggle to find a class. More importantly, I have confidence in the students who have taken their class to become ethical, conscientious hunters.”

The Hendersons have mentored many new instructors and they take the time to ensure those instructors leave confident in their ability to teach a class. They are an incredible asset to new hunters and CDFW.

CDFW is always recruiting new instructors. If you have a passion for California’s outdoors and passing on the hunting tradition, please visit CDFW’s Become A Hunter Education Instructor webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education/Become-an-Instructor and check out the hunter education instructor recruiting video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4ezEs7jT5g.