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Upland Bird Hunting Seasons Get Cranking This Weekend

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

California’s fall hunting season hits full stride Saturday, Nov. 10 with openers for wild pheasant, fall turkey and the second dove season.

Combined with hunting seasons already open for quail, chukar, snipe, waterfowl, tree squirrel and rabbits, California hunters have plenty of options to pursue some spectacular game species and equally stellar table fare. Few states can match the sheer variety of hunting opportunities available to California hunters in the fall.

Both a valid hunting license and upland game bird stamp/validation are needed to hunt pheasant, turkey and dove. An upland stamp/validation is not required for junior license holders but all hunters are required to have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation when hunting migratory game birds.

Ring-necked Pheasant

Since 2012, CDFW has funded scientific research into California’s wild pheasant decline using money from the purchase of upland game bird stamps/validations. The latest findings point to a combination of factors that include changing agricultural crops, upland habitat loss, predation, competition from other species, warming temperatures and pesticides as contributing to the pheasant decline in recent years.

Still, the wild pheasant opener on the second weekend of November remains a popular tradition for many families and an important economic event for some rural communities.

The good news is that some of the best remaining wild pheasant habitat in California is found on state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges open to public hunting. Bagging a wild rooster pheasant requires dedication, knowledge and skill, but the end reward makes unmatched table fare.

Several CDFW Type A wildlife areas are especially popular with wild pheasant hunters, including Upper Butte Basin, Gray Lodge, Grizzly Island, Yolo Bypass, Los Banos and North Grasslands.

These areas are all open to pheasant hunting on their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl hunt days. The Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area and the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will remain open the first Monday of the pheasant season – Nov. 12 – to provide additional hunter opportunities.

Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley – Los Banos, Mendota, North Grasslands and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge – will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season.

Three popular northern California federal refuges – Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge – and one San Joaquin Valley federal refuge – Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge – will be open to pheasant hunting the first Monday of the season in addition to their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday shoot days.

The Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern California, home to some of the most robust wild pheasant populations in the state, are open daily to pheasant hunting throughout the season.

Please check with the individual property for specific details and regulations on each area.

The 2018 general pheasant season runs from Saturday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 23. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Nonlead ammunition is required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except on licensed game bird clubs.

Fall Turkey

The chance to provide a wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner is strong motivation for many fall turkey hunters. The fall season runs from Saturday Nov. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 9, and – unlike in the spring season – both males and females may be taken. The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex with a season and possession limit of two birds.

Three subspecies of wild turkeys can be found in California – Rio Grande, Merriam’s and eastern – with Rio Grande being the most widespread. Wild turkeys inhabit most counties in California. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Nonlead ammunition is required when hunting turkeys anywhere in the state unless the turkey is taken on the grounds of a licensed game bird club.

Second Dove Season

California’s second dove season runs from Saturday, Nov. 10 through Monday, Dec. 24. Although lacking the fanfare and tradition surrounding the Sept. 1 opener, the second season offers cooler weather, fewer crowds and the chance for a mixed bag of species – quail and rabbit, for example – that often share the same habitat.

Limits remain the same as the early season: Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily bag limit of 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on spotted dove and ringed turtle dove. Hunting for Eurasian collared dove is legal year-round and there is no limit. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Lead ammunition is permitted for hunting doves in 2018. Nonlead ammunition, however, is required when hunting on all CDFW lands. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

In addition to public hunting opportunities available at CDFW state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges, CDFW offers special hunts at the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts page and through the SHARE program, which provides public hunting access to private land or other landlocked properties. New hunters should visit CDFW’s Apprentice Hunts webpage for additional pheasant hunting opportunities.

Lake Almanor Receiving 50,000 Trout

Lake Almanor is one of the pristine lakes Northern California anglers dream of fishing at. Located in remote Plumas County, Almanor is an off-the-beaten-path destination that is getting a boost for next season’s trout season courtesy of the Almanor Fishing Association. Here’s some details from the Plumas County News:

That’s all positive because 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 23 and 24, tank trucks from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife started showing up at the boat ramp of Lake Haven Resort to unload 50,000 fertile rainbow trout.

Over 20 AFA members manned the unloading of the trout into a transfer pen, moving them to the holding pens at Hamilton Branch with a pontoon boat and manually moved them into the pens with nets.

Some students from the Feather River College Hatchery Program came up to observe and help out the AFA.

The trout will be housed in the pens, fed daily by more AFA members and ultimately released into Lake Almanor next spring.



Two Weeks Left To Purchase Your GGSA Salmon Fundraiser Tickets

The following press release is courtesy of the Golden Gate Salmon Association: 

San Francisco – The Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) will host its fifth annual Sonoma Salmon Dinner on Friday, Nov. 9 at Ramekins Culinary Institute. The dinner will honor Sonoma County Water Agency’s General Manager, Grant Davis while raising funds to support GGSA’s work restoring salmon.

The event will be held at Ramekins Culinary Institute, 450 West Spain St, Sonoma.

This year’s event is on the heels of the enormous success of last year’s dinner where over $60,000 was raised with half of it going to local fire relief efforts.

John McManus, president of GGSA said, “We’re honoring Grant Davis because of the great job he’s done of managing Sonoma County’s water resources while protecting salmon and the local watersheds they rely on. We’re also looking forward to coming together to raise money for GGSA’s long-term goal of rebuilding the salmon runs that support coastal communities up and down the coast, including Sonoma County’s.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are $125.00 per seat or $1250 for reserved tables of 10. Tickets are available by calling 855-251-GGSA (4472) or by visiting https://sonoma-salmon-celebration.eventbrite.com or www.goldengatesalmon.org.

The night will feature fresh-caught salmon prepared on the fire pit.   Ted Wilson of and Kyle Kuklewski, of Ramekins will come together to elevate the culinary treats of the evening. Fresh oysters will be provided by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.  Live auction bidders can compete for trips including ocean fishing, an overnight and boat at Caples Lake Resort in the high sierras, Mendocino stay, PlumpJack Squaw Valley overnight and dinner plus other exciting wine lots and fun.

The night will also feature wines, cocktails, silent and open auctions, and the chance to compare fall harvest stories while raising funds to support GGSA’s work to keep abundant salmon stocks in California. Attendees will get a brief update from GGSA on the current state of salmon affairs.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to restore California’s largest salmon runs in the Central Valley rivers because they provide the bulk of salmon caught off our coast and inland rivers. We serve the sport and commercial anglers that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable resource. Salmon recovery is our passion.

One Dead In Fishing Boat Accident Off San Diego


On Saturday I headed down to Fresno to attend my alma mater Fresno State’s Homecoming game. At the tailgate party my friends put on for every home game, I always look forward to talking fishing with our friend Tom (the last game I attended, Tom brought some bluefin tuna he’d caught the previous weekend out of San Diego).

So when I spotted Tom sitting on an ice chest – where my beverages just happened to be – I immediately asked him if he’d fished recently. But Tom had some bad news. “Did you hear about the fishing boat that wrecked out to sea?” he told me.

Sure enough, the San Diego-based fishing vessel Prowler – Tom said one of his buddies had just gone on a trip withthe boat the previous week – collided with a luxury yacht 9 miles out at sea. Here’s more from San Diego’s CBS 8:

A yacht and a sportfisher collided offshore of Imperial Beach, and more than two dozen people had to be taken back to shore, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

A person aboard the fishing boat had to be airlifted to a hospital, and the 27 others aboard both boats were taken back to San Diego.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, the 332-foot yacht Attessa IV contacted Coast Guard Sector San Diego to report a collision with the Prowler, a 65-foot sportfisher, about nine miles off Imperial Beach, Coast Guard officials said. The collision caused multiple injuries and extensive damage to the starboard side of the Prowler.

Tragically, one of the injured was reported dead by San Diego’s ABC 10. 

Condolences to all the victims.


Stretch Of Upper Klamath River Reopens To Chinook Fishing

CDFW photo


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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Iron Gate Hatchery has determined that the hatchery will have taken in more than 8,000 fall Chinook Salmon by the end of this week. According to California 2018-19 supplemental sport fishing regulations, the take of 8,000 fall Chinook Salmon at the hatchery triggers the reopening of the recreational Chinook Salmon fishery between Interstate 5, near Hornbrook, and 3,500 feet below the hatchery.

Recreational anglers will be able to harvest two Chinook Salmon, but no more than one adult greater than 22 inches, per day in this reach. The possession limit is six Chinook Salmon with no more than three adults. Reopening this stretch of the Klamath River is designed to allow anglers to catch surplus hatchery Chinook Salmon now that the number of adult needed for spawning has been achieved at the hatchery.

The lower Trinity River downstream of Hawkins Bar is the other section within the Klamath basin that remains open to the take of adult Chinook Salmon. All other quota areas are closed to the take of adult Chinook Salmon. The take of jack Chinook Salmon, equal to or less than 22 inches, may be taken in all areas of the Klamath basin, with the exception of the mouth of the Klamath River, which is closed for the remainder of the year. The daily bag limit for jack Chinook Salmon in these areas is two fish per day and no more than six in possession.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information regarding Klamath River fishing regulations, please consult the 2018-2019 California Freshwater and Supplemental sport fishing regulations at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

Nimbus Hatchery Ladder To Open Nov. 2 As Salmon Head In

Nimbus Hatchery photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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

The salmon ladder at Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova will open Friday, Nov. 2, signaling the start of the spawning season on the American River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder at 10:30 a.m. and will take more than a half-million eggs during the first week alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning of the returning fall-run Chinook Salmon.

The three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – Nimbus Hatchery in Sacramento County, and hatcheries on the Feather River in Butte County and the Mokelumne River in San Joaquin County – will take approximately 24 million eggs over the next two months to produce Chinook Salmon for release next spring.

Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. The Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center includes a playground with replicas of giant salmon. Nimbus Hatchery is open to the public free of charge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at each hatchery, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. These spawning efforts were put in place over the past half century to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, one-quarter of the stock will be marked and implanted with a coded wire tag prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart their survival, catch and return rates.

Fall-Run Chinook Quota Met In Upper Trinity River

Triinity River photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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

Based upon California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) projections of the recreational fall Chinook Salmon catch on the Trinity River, anglers will meet the Upper Trinity River adult fall Chinook Salmon quota below Old Lewiston Bridge for the 2018 season as of 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2018.

This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook Salmon fishery on the Trinity River from the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West Bridge at Cedar Flat. This reach will remain open for harvest of jack (two-year-old) Chinook Salmon (22 inches or less). All adult Chinook Salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook Salmon in the Lower Trinity reach of the Klamath basin. All other sectors are currently closed to adult harvest.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information regarding Klamath River fishing regulations, please consult the 2018-2019 California Freshwater and Supplemental sport fishing regulations at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

CDFW Offering Multiple Apprentice Pheasant Hunts

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is hosting 60 special pheasant hunts this fall and winter to serve new hunters, youth hunters, women hunters, mobility-impaired hunters, families and others with limited experience or opportunity to hunt.

The hunts take place from November through February in almost every part of the state from Siskiyou and Plumas counties in the north to San Diego and Imperial counties in the south. CDFW’s Central Region is hosting 30 of the 60 hunts in Fresno, Kern, Madera, Merced and San Luis Obispo counties.

Six hunts are planned in Los Angeles County, two in Riverside County, two in Napa County, two in Solano County, and two in Yolo County, among other locations. Applications and information are available online at CDFW’s Apprentice Hunts webpage.

Hunters may apply only once for each hunt – either as an applicant or as a guest. Submitting multiple applications will disqualify applicants from the drawing. There is no fee to apply or participate in these hunts. Trained hunting dogs and their handlers are provided on some – but not all – hunts. Participants are allowed to bring their own hunting dogs on some hunts or hunt without a dog.

These special apprentice pheasant hunts are offered in partnership with many volunteer organizations and funded by the sale of the upland game bird stamp/validation required of upland game bird hunters 18 and older.

Additional upland bird hunting opportunities are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage and through CDFW’s SHARE program, which provides public hunting access to private or landlocked properties. Other upland game bird hunting opportunities are available on CDFW wildlife areas without reservations.

Introducing First-Timers To The Joys Of Hunting

Photos by Tim E. Hovey

The following appears in the October issue of California Sportsman: 

By Tim E. Hovey

Many of my hunting friends are around my age and have been hunting for quite some time. Since we all have kids, it seemed only natural that when they got old enough, we’d begin to teach them how to hunt.

Over the last decade, our kids have not only grown up together but have also become regular participants on our hunting trips. We were able to train them safely, gauge their interest and then move on from there.

While it seems obvious to train your kids in activities that you may also enjoy, this action is far more delicate when it comes to outdoor activities like hunting. Unlike regular sports, where children can be exposed to the activity through school or friends, safely entering into the hunting guild requires guidance by experienced individuals. Recruiting new hunters into the activity usually requires experienced hunters willing to share their time and knowledge of hunting. 

I believe there is nothing more important for the future of hunting than recruiting new hunters into the fold. For my friends, and me it was easy to bring our kids along and teach them the specifics. However, if you’re a hunter, I believe it’s even more important to offer up your time and experience to those who have an interest in getting started, even if they’re not related to you. 

Hovey’s daughters Alyssa and Jessica, who have been hunting with their dad for some time now, were happy to hunt with first-timer Carly (middle) in September. (TIM E. HOVEY)


Despite their blistering speed and their almost supernatural avoidance maneuvers, I think dove hunting is an excellent way to introduce new hunters to the sport. If you set up in the right area, shot opportunities will be abundant. And there aren’t too many forms of hunting that incorporate a chair.

Some of the early hunting trips with my daughters were opening-day dove hunts. Not only were birds abundant during the early flights, but the carefully arranged set-up allowed me to make sure my new hunters were safe and would only take shots I allowed. It gave them frequent examples of safe shots to take, as well as situations where shots should be held for safety.

Setting out decoys in specific formations can bring birds in closer, slowing them down quite a bit for new hunters. I’ve used this technique dozens of times to help put birds in the bag of beginners.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to help several new hunters get started. Thinking back now, it really didn’t take much effort on my part to bring them along. Sometimes all it takes is to have a casual conversation about hunting. 

John Mattila and his daughter Carly can now share a love of hunting. “Training the next generation to enjoy the outdoors is truly the only way our heritage will live on,” Hovey writes. (TIM E. HOVEY)


I met my friend John Mattila over a decade ago. His daughter Carly was in the same grade as my daughter Alyssa and they’ve known each other since second grade. Consequently, we’d bump into each other at school functions and for several years we’d take the kids out during Halloween together. It was during one of these neighborhood hikes to collect candy when John found out I hunted.

John had mentioned that he had hunted when he was younger, but had fallen out of the activity because he didn’t have anyone to go with. I felt like I had to change that. I told John what I tell everyone who expresses an interest in hunting: take the safety course and get a hunting license. This takes effort, of course, and I feel if you’re truly interested in getting started, moving through this process will prove it.

With his new California license in hand, I took John out on the dove opener several years ago and he had a great time. Soon he was mentioning that his son and daughter had started showing an interest in hunting, and before I knew it Carly and John’s son Tanner were also regular fixtures during the early-morning dove hunts. 

I had turned a casual conversation about hunting years earlier into three new hunters.

At a holiday party, Matt Harrison struck up a conversation with Hovey about hunting, so they were able to connect on an early-season dove hunt in September. (TIM E. HOVEY)


Matt Harrison and his family were new to the area and attended the local gym where my wife coaches. During our annual gym Christmas party, Matt began to study the hunting photos I have in the hallway. If you’ve never been to my house, you’ll know that I hunt within seconds of entering.

Matt and I started talking and he mentioned that he was interested in hunting but had no idea where to start. I told him what was required to get his license and asked him to get hold of me when he had it. A month later he texted me that he had his safety card and would wait until the new hunting year started before purchasing his license.

For the next six months, Matt and I stayed in contact. I even steered him through the tangled California rules of purchasing his first shotgun. With the sun peaking over the horizon on 2017’s opening day of dove season. both Matt and John were sitting at the edge of a field anxiously waiting for birds to fly. 

Matt finished the day with only two birds, but he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun he had. He commented on the doves’ speed and the difficulty in hitting them. That didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one bit. 

Before we got home, Matt was asking when we could go out again. He doesn’t get out as much as he’d like, but when I think of him, I think of how a chance conversation at a Christmas party produced a brand new hunter.

Dylan and Alyssa ready for doves to flush. (TIM E. HOVEY)


Dylan Dozal has the distinction of being my daughter Alyssa’s first serious boyfriend. Our first meeting took place in my living room, where I was getting ready for a hunting trip. Surrounded by gear, which included a few firearms, I welcomed Dylan to our home. 

Over the following months, it became clear to me that Dylan was a respectable young man who treated my daughter like a queen. Hardworking, polite and willing to just sit and talk to me about work and life, Dylan has become a welcomed part of our family.

Last year, Dylan showed some interest in hunting. He came along as an observer during our opening-day dove hunt. Over the course of the morning flight, I could tell he was hooked. On the drive home, he searched the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website on his phone for a schedule of hunter’s safety classes.

Dylan came with us for the 2018 dove opener, brand new hunting license in one hand and a shotgun of mine in the other. We made the pilgrimage to our favorite spot with John, Tanner and Carly. We arrived at the area with sunrise still an hour away. We got everything set up and anxiously waited for the birds to fly.

This year the birds were scattered and the numbers low. Shots were infrequent and at times long. When all was said and done, Dylan had killed his first bird and so had Carly. 

As we always do, we gathered everyone up for our traditional hunting photo, our birds proudly placed out front. I took several photos in different combinations, but what I really wanted was one of all the new hunters. We placed the kids in a line and took a few photos. After that, we cleaned up our area, leaving only footprints, and headed to IHOP for breakfast.


When I got home, I downloaded the photos to my computer. When I came to the one of the new hunters, the first thing I noticed was that the smiles told of a good time. I then realized that with chance meetings and a little encouragement, three new hunters had been shown the path. 

I had always known that I was going to train my daughters to hunt, but seeing Dylan, Tanner and Carly there smiling with the look of success made me smile. The next generation, I thought.

If you hunt regularly and feel comfortable passing on what you know, please share your knowledge with anyone, young or old, who may be interested. Thinking back on the last several years of dove hunting, I’m grateful that I was able to take so many new hunters out. I’m even more pleased that many of those have been young hunters wanting to experience the outside world.

Training the next generation to enjoy the outdoors is truly the only way our heritage will live on. We need to show interested youth there is life beyond the sidewalk and explain to them why the outside world is such a powerful influence in our lives. I have noticed that if the interest is there, a little advice on direction and some encouragement go a long way in getting individuals started. It’s time to train the next generations. CS

Water Needed To Flood Imperial Wildlife Area’s Waterfowl Habitat

CDFW photo

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

Due to recent natural events, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Imperial Wildlife Area, Wister Unit, has recently experienced water-delivery delays that have resulted in the wildlife area receiving less than the amount of water needed to fully flood the waterfowl area.

This may result in fewer hunt sites than normal being available for the waterfowl opener scheduled Saturday, Oct. 20. CDFW estimates 10 to 20 blinds out of 100 blinds onsite may be unavailable.

An active mud pot, a natural geothermal event, recently caused water-delivery delays and then recent severe thunderstorms affected the wildlife area in Imperial County and surrounding areas, causing widespread flooding and closures to Highway 111 and other surrounding areas. The flooding damaged Imperial Irrigation District water-delivery canals and ditches, as well as some roads at the wildlife area. CDFW has been informed that the District has started repairs to its system but there is no timeline on when the work will be completed.

The Wister Unit will likely be less than completely flooded on the waterfowl opener. For more information on conditions, please contact Rick Francis at (760) 359-0577.