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The Electro Company In Action

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The following appears in the December issue of California Sportsman:

 

By Tim E. Hovey

Russ pulled the 24-foot aluminum boat up to the lake’s dock to pick up the crew for the evening sampling. If you didn’t know what to look for, the vessel would look just like another metal skiff. But to those versed in fisheries, it screams business.

A huge part of fisheries science involves repeated surveys over time to determine the overall health of a fishery. To make an accurate assessment of population status or species composition, we depend on a consistent sampling method to collect the required data.

In small creeks or streams, we depend on seine nets and small backpack electro-shockers. However, when we need to assess larger bodies of water and survey on a broader scale, we rely on the workhorse in our survey toolbox: the electro-fishing boat.

 

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THE BASICS 

Several structures on the vessel separate it from the average boat. The center console sits further back and an elevated captain’s seat gives the pilot a good view of all the action that occurs at the front of the vessel. The front of the rectangular boat is framed by a high rail and an elevated platform so that netters can stay safe and can see down into the water at the front of the craft. Down the center of the boat are a series of tanks and work stations for collecting data, measuring and weighing fish, and keeping fish alive while they’re being worked on. A bank of high-intensity floodlights line the front of the skiff to light up the section of sampling water at the front of the boat.

When the Smith-Root electro-fishing boat is traveling to the sample area, it really does look like a regular vessel. But once it’s time for work, the boat undergoes a slight transformation. Twelve-foot conductor rods are rotated from the side of the craft to the front, pivoting on the front corners. At the tip of each rod is a circular, electrical array with heavy-wire conductors that sit partially submerged in the water.

When extended to the front and ready to sample, a generator mounted behind the pilot brings power to the extended arrays. Pressure-powered pedals turn the unit on and off at the front of the boat and are manned by the front netters. When the boat is sampling, the front conductors electrify the water all around the front and sides of the vessel, stunning any fish within the vicinity. Electrical settings are adjusted so that the fish are usually only temporarily affected by the current.

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Electro-fishing boats are used for a variety of fisheries science reasons. They’re predominantly used on larger bodies of water when other sampling techniques are not practical or difficult to use. They are also used to perform large fish-sampling jobs and to collect large amounts of fisheries data quickly.

HOW THEY DO IT

To maintain lake and reservoir health, biologists will conduct several different types of surveys to collect specific data. Using the electro-fishing boat, the captain will steer the vessel towards shore and the netters will initiate the current by hitting the foot pedals.

Running the boat parallel to shore and slowly around the perimeter, the netters will collect all the fish that “turn” or are incapacitated by the current. Netted fish are deposited into the deck tanks to be identified, measured and weighed. After the fish are worked up, they are released at the side of the boat unharmed.

Safety – for both the fish and biologists – is a priority. We have a pretty strict safety protocol to never reach over the side of the boat and into the water to keep from getting shocked. I have never seen anyone shocked, but I’m sure the protocol is in place because it has happened in the past.

And as for making sure the fish we are collecting are returned to the water after being shocked, I’ve been on dozens of these shock-boat surveys and have never seen a fish die. When dealing with big bodies of water, fish can move out of the shock pattern or are quickly collected and brought aboard. The work-up involves pulling them out of the water, weighing and measuring them. They are then released in good health.

We also have the ability to dial down the amperage to a less lethal dose to keep from injuring the fish. We essentially set the boat to stun.

The collected data can clearly illustrate the health of a larger body of water. Depending on the types and sizes of the fish collected, biologists can determine the overall fisheries health of a lake or reservoir.

Collecting only one size class of a species of fish indicates an issue with reproduction. If a lake sample only brings in larger fish, we typically conclude that for some reason – usually poor water quality or elevated water temperature – reproduction is either not occurring or something is happening to the eggs or larvae. Sometimes this will affect one species of fish or may impact all species present in the lake.

Fish in poor health or that are emaciated could indicate a lack of forage fish, a sign that a lake lacks smaller fish for larger species to feed on. This lake phase can easily be seen during sampling and collecting, and is usually verified when a length/weight profile is established once the data is analyzed.

A poor forage base in a lake will yield medium to larger fish that are below average weight, and little to no smaller fish present in the sample. Typically, a healthy lake will contain fish of all size classes, from fry to fully grown adults. The fish will be well fed and free of injuries or lesions.

Conducting electro-fishing surveys is also a great way to determine the species composition of a large body of water. An evening survey around the perimeter of the lake will usually yield all representative species.

Occasionally, we’ll use the e-fishing boats to survey, collect or remove species that may be detrimental to California inland waters. We use the large sampling current to verify the presence of certain species that may disrupt a normal reservoir ecosystem or would be hazardous to downstream species.

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BIOLOGISTS IN ACTION

Last month I got the opportunity to take my oldest daughter, Alyssa, on a reservoir survey of one of the local lakes using an electro-fishing boat. This particular survey involved a population assessment and would involve collecting all species of fish, depositing them into the deck tanks and then weighing and measuring them. The survey plan involved shocking the perimeter of the lake.

We spent the evening shocking near the shores and collected largemouth bass, crappie, common carp, bluegill and catfish. For the first part of the evening Alyssa and I were the netters on the front of the boat, running the shocker and collecting the fish. The highlight was Alyssa netting a 20-pound carp and wrestling it into the onboard tank.

Later in the evening we switched tasks to fish measuring and data collecting. Alyssa weighed and measured the collected fish and I recorded the data. Throughout the evening she got a feel for how fisheries biologists conduct field research and what it’s like to work in the fisheries field.

When we were back on the dock we helped load the boat on the trailer and cleaned up the sampling gear. By the time we got back in the truck to head home, Alyssa was worn out but had really enjoyed the experience.

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THE BEST WAY TO LEARN

In some cases, utilizing technology like electro-fishing to collect biological fisheries data can be considered a convenience. When it comes to assessing species composition and population health of lakes and reservoirs, using electro-fishing vessels is really the only way to achieve accurate data sets that will result in a more precise biological conclusion.

Establishing repeatable sampling protocols via electro-shocking boats allow biologists to feel confident in their overall assessment of lake health. Without a doubt, the data collected through the use of boat electro-fishing goes a long way in making sure that local lakes and reservoirs stay healthy for everyone to enjoy. And that should keep anglers pretty charged up about our work. CS

Editor’s note: The author is a CDFW fisheries biologist.

CDFW Releases Wolf Depredation Report

Possible evidence of a wolf roaming in Siskiyou County in Northern California. (CDFW)

Possible evidence of a wolf roaming in Siskiyou County in Northern California. (CDFW)

 

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

After a thorough investigation of an incident in Siskiyou County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released a wolf depredation incident report. The incident was observed on Nov. 10, 2015.

The report classified this incident as “probable.” That is, there is some evidence to suggest wolf predation of livestock involving at least one animal (calf).

In June 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list gray wolves as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (ESA). The gray wolf is also listed as endangered in California, under the Federal ESA of 1973. Gray wolves in California are therefore protected by the ESA making it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect wolves, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct in California.

Though wolves rarely pose a direct threat to human safety, CDFW recommends that people never approach, feed or otherwise disturb a wolf. For more information about staying safe in wolf-occupied areas, including what people should do if they encounter a wolf, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf/faq.
Proprietary and location information has been redacted from the report.

CDFW’s draft Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California was made available on Dec. 2, 2015. CDFW is receiving input on the plan until Feb. 15, 2016.

Bickering Politicians Declare Drought Bill Dead

Lake Oroville before and after. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES)

Lake Oroville before and after. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES)

The Sacramento Bee reported on the ongoing California drought bill talks. Apparently it didn’t go well:

Angry California Republicans threw in the towel late Thursday, conceding that a California water bill that had divided the state was dead for the year.

In a remarkably acrimonious ending to negotiations that once seemed close to bearing fruit, GOP House members acknowledged the bill’s failure while putting the blame squarely on California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

“It’s dead, unfortunately,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said in an interview Thursday afternoon, adding in a later statement that “our good faith negotiations came to naught.”

The utter collapse of negotiations means a California water package that in its latest manifestation spanned 92 pages will not be slipped into a much larger, much-pass omnibus federal spending package needed to keep the federal government open. If legislative efforts are revived, they will come in the new year.

Bee reporter Michael Doyle also talked about the San Joaquin River salmon restoration project, another point of contention:

The Senate bill authorizes partial funding for new water storage projects, including Sites Reservoir proposed for the Sacramento Valley and Temperance Flat proposed for the Upper San Joaquin River. It funds water recycling and desalination projects and potentially eases the delivery of more water to San Joaquin Valley farms.

The original House bill introduced by Valadao, which was the starting point for negotiations,would have repealed an ambitious San Joaquin River salmon-and-habitat restoration program and replaced it with something smaller. It directed the sale of the New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River to local water districts. It added artificially spawned salmon or smelt when counting Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta fish populations under the Endangered Species Act.

House Republicans dropped a number of controversial provisions, like the one scaling back the San Joaquin River restoration program, while they accepted some of the recycling and desalination funding sought by Democrats. They also, Democrats say, pursued negotiations and cut deals without fully informing all parties, and environmentalists constantly feared being surprised.

“This time of year,” Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Thursday afternoon, “I always sleep with one eye open.”

Ouch.

CDFW Injects 20,000 Salmon Eggs Into Feather River

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CDFW biologists inject salmon eggs into the Feather River

CDFW biologists inject salmon eggs into the Feather River

 

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

San Francisco  —  After two years of working with the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists injected 20,000 fertilized salmon eggs into Feather River gravel in a historic first for California.  The eggs, from the Feather River hatchery, were injected December 4th as part of an experiment to see how many will hatch and to give state workers experience using egg injection technology.

“Egg injection could provide a powerful tool to offset future salmon losses caused by drought,” said GGSA executive director John McManus.

Egg injection has been used in Alaska and Oregon in work going back decades. GGSA science consultant Dave Vogel brought the idea to GGSA in 2014 when rivers heated to levels lethal to salmon eggs.  GGSA then asked the state to consider a massive egg injection program to offset the expected losses and avoid low returns of adult salmon in 2017, but the egg injection didn’t happen. GGSA kept asking and in 2015 the state agreed to do a small pilot project to test the equipment and determine manpower needs and to find out what percentage of the eggs would successfully hatch.

In nature, incubating salmon eggs, buried in underwater river gravels die when water temperatures exceed 56 degrees, something common during these last few years of drought.  In drought conditions, salmon eggs could instead be collected, fertilized, chilled, and temporarily held in hatcheries.  After rivers cool in late November and December, the incubating eggs can be gently buried in river gravel where they’ll continue incubating for another month or so before hatching.  Unlike fish hatched and raised in hatcheries, salmon from injected eggs don’t require the feeding and physical infrastructure hatchery reared fish need.

Fine mesh nets will be affixed atop the injection sites to trap the emerging fry prior to expected hatch in January.  They’ll be counted to determine what percentage of eggs hatched. In nature, an estimated ten to 40 percent of salmon eggs hatch.  Up to 90 percent of injected eggs have reportedly hatched in best cases.

In addition to mitigating for salmon lost to drought-warmed rivers, egg injection could be used to offset other types of losses. One possibility; to offset future winter run losses from late spawning fish.  This could allow water managers to switch from high summer flows to lower fall flows in the upper Sacramento River earlier to avoid the massive loss of fall run eggs that occurs in many years when reservoir releases are sharply curtailed after the majority of the fall run eggs are in the gravel.  When this happens, millions of fall run eggs go from being under water to being high and dry which kills them.

“Combined with state of the art DNA analysis currently used to select salmon for breeding at a few advanced hatcheries, injecting high quality, non-hatchery, eggs could reduce harm to wild stocks in the next drought,” said McManus

Goldengatesalmon.org

(855) 251-GGSA (4472)

 

Crab Season Remains Shut Down

Bodega Bay is one of the communities being affected by the emergency closure of Dungeness crab fishing. (CHRIS COCOLES)

Bodega Bay is one of the communities being affected by the emergency closure of Dungeness crab fishing. (CHRIS COCOLES)

I remember a few weeks after I moved back to California in 2009 I was invited up to my friends’  getaway home in Bodega Bay on Thanksgiving weekend. My dog and I headed up for a weekend of fun. One of the highlights was driving down to the marina and picking up some fresh crab right from the tank a couple weeks after the season began. We had a feast to remember that night.

So now with the Dungeness crab season continued to be delayed after an emergency closure last month, I can only imagine things are not going well along the California coast for those who rely on this lucrative industry to make a living.

As the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat  reports, there is no end in sight, even when state government officials intervened at a meeting last week:

After a dismal salmon harvest and the loss of the Thanksgiving crab market, a crab season that’s delayed past Christmas would cause “near collapse of the commercial crab fishery — and today is December 3,” state Sen. Mike McGuire said as he opened a hearing in Santa Rosa on the state of California’s rock and Dungeness crab fishery.

“All of us are hoping for the best,” said McGuire, chairman of the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, “but we also need to start preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

More than 150 people, most of them commercial or sport fishermen, attended the more than three-hour hearing that drew representatives from state health, food safety, environmental health and wildlife agencies and was led by McGuire and state Assemblyman Jim Wood, both Healdsburg Democrats. Wood is vice chairman of the joint committee.

Stakeholder representatives were invited, too, to speak to the impact of the state’s move last month to delay the openings of sport and commercial crabbing from Santa Barbara to the Oregon border. An unprecedented algal bloom along the Pacific Coast has produced unparalleled levels of a potentially fatal neurotoxin affecting a wide variety of wildlife, including fish, shellfish, seabirds and marine mammals like sea lions and whales. No humans have become ill.

Topics included the manner and timing for the fisheries to reopen once testing is clean for two straight weeks, the cascading financial impact of the closure and the science behind the algal bloom. But the most troubling subject for many was the challenge of rebuilding consumer confidence once crab can again be harvested and creating new markets to offset current losses.

“We need people to buy crab,” said Joe Caito, president of Sausalito-based Caito Fisheries.

Amen.

 

 

CDFW Creates Wolf Conservation Plan

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the draft Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California and is soliciting input about the draft.

The plan is the product of collaboration between CDFW scientific and wildlife experts, and a diverse stakeholder group that has spent many hours since 2012 to develop it. The group includes Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, California Farm Bureau Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, California Woolgrowers Association, California Deer Association, California Cattlemen’s Association and the Center for Biological Diversity, among others.

Interested parties are encouraged to review CDFW’s website with information about gray wolves in California, including the legal status of wolves under federal and state law, the migration of the first documented wolf in the state in nearly 100 years and CDFW’s announcement about the Shasta pack this summer. The website also features procedures for contacting CDFW for those who may experience wolves in the wild.

Informational workshops will be held to provide information and hear views about the plan in early 2016. All meetings will be held from 5-8 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:

  • Yreka: Jan. 21, 2016
    Miner’s Inn Convention Center/Best Western
    122 E. Miner St., Yreka 96097
  • Long Beach: Jan. 26, 2016
    Pointe Conference Center at CSU Long Beach
    Walter Pyramid (entrance on Merriam Way)
    1250 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, 90840
  • Sacramento: Feb. 1, 2016
    Double Tree Hotel
    2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, 95815

Comments will also be accepted via e-mail atwolfplan@wildlife.ca.gov, and regular mail at:

Wolf Plan Comments
P.O. Box 26750
San Francisco, CA 94126

Please postmark the comments no later than Feb. 15, 2016.

 

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Peter Fimrite weighed in on the report’s release:

The conservation plan emphasizes the use of nonlethal methods to control wolves, including those sneaking onto ranches to attack sheep and cattle. But flexibility is built in so that, as the population grows, new techniques can be used to avoid conflicts, said Jordan Traverso, a fish and wildlife spokeswoman.

“We think we’ve presented a pretty solid plan, but we will look to continue the process with the stakeholder group and the public to help us make something more final,” Traverso said of the draft plan, which will be open for public comment until Feb. 15, 2016.

“The fact that wolves have come back after nearly 100 years is a really great ecological story,” she said. “It’s really exciting, and it’s also kind of scary for a lot of people. There isn’t a lot of historical knowledge from the time when wolves were here last, so there is a lot to be learned.” …

… Wolves have long been expected to migrate into California, but the journey a few years ago of OR-7 — so named because he was the seventh wolf to be radio-collared in Oregon — created an international sensation. The lone wolf left the Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County, Ore., in 2011 and traveled an estimated 2,500 miles through Siskiyou, Lassen, Shasta, Modoc, Butte and Plumas counties.

The remarkable journey was, for the most part, the impetus for the creation of the state’s wolf plan.

 

Rick Barry Letting It Fly … In The Water

Rick Barry (right, with his wife, Lynn) has become a passionate fly angler.

Rick Barry (right, with his wife, Lynn) has become a passionate fly angler.

The following story appears in the December issue of California Sportsman. Photos courtesy of Rick Barry and Wikimedia.

By Chris Cocoles

Basketball Hall of Famer and longtime Golden State Warrior Rick Barry famously – and damn successfully – shot his free throws underhanded.

He’s spoken out about the frequent misses of noted NBA stars but dreadful foul shooters such as now retired Shaquille O’Neal and current stars Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. He’s wondered aloud why those who clank free throws so frequently don’t follow his unconventional form that connected on about 90 percent of his attempts, fourth best in league history.

Shooting free throws is nothing, Barry says; he would love to get those guys to try casting flies on an Alaskan river.

“It’s much more difficult,” Barry interrupts when asked to compare the two artforms. One was one of the trademarks in a brilliant basketball career that saw Barry named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players when the league celebrated its silver anniversary in 1996. The other has become a passion for the 71-year-old, who hosts fishing adventures to Alaska and Baja through his website, rickbarry24.com.

“In basketball, shooting free throws is the same distance every time (15 feet from the foul line to the hoop). It’s the same-sized ball, the same-sized rim every time,” Barry says. “And I don’t have to deal with any freakin’ wind. Casting is much, much more (hard), having to cast in different wind conditions. But it’s fun.”

And it’s a pastime Barry has only recently discovered and became smitten with.

 

Barry was named one of the NBA's 50 Best Players during the league's 50th anniversary season in 1996.

Barry was named one of the NBA’s 50 Best Players during the league’s 50th anniversary season in 1996.

DON’T LET THE age fool you: Rick Barry is active and fit, despite being on the north side of 70 years old. His playing career ended in 1980, but he stayed busy with various business ventures. He successfully found a niche in broadcasting and as an opinionated sports talk radio host on KNBR in San Francisco and reveled in the role of proud papa watching his children play basketball at both the major college and professional levels.

Until eight years ago, he mostly spent his free time on the golf course and as a road and mountain bike rider. The latter passion is one he rarely partakes in these days after suffering a serious injury accident last year near his Colorado home.

“I’ll never go fast on a bicycle again,” he says of the crash that fractured his pelvis in five places.

But fly fishing keeps him busy enough anyway. A friend’s offer almost a decade ago was a game-changing moment.

“Scott Minnich is a good buddy of mine in Colorado Springs (where Barry and his wife, Lynn, now reside); his son and my son (Canyon, who is playing basketball at the College of Charleston) grew up together,” Barry says. “(Minnich’s) been a fly fisherman for 35 years, and one day he asked me if I wanted to go fishing.”

Barry’s previous fishing experiences were minimal and unremarkable, so it wasn’t like he was in a rush to get back out onto the water. Still, he accepted Minnich’s invitation. And something seemed to click; perhaps it was his competitive streak as a former jock still fueled by something actionable. Despite the degree of difficulty casting flies, Barry was hooked.

“I realized that there was so much more to it than you realize. It’s not like the fishing where you just sit there and hold the stupid rod in your hands and pray that something bites it; it’s an actual art form, and so I was very impressed with that,” Barry says. “If somebody had told me 10 years ago that my passion in life would be fly fishing, I would have said they were on drugs with my type A personality. But I really loved it.”

Minnich proved to be a fine mentor in terms of Barry getting the hang of a fly rod. Over the years, he’s picked the brains of guides who’ve hosted fishing trips. The basketball player in him sees the coaching side of the experts who have fished a lot longer than he has. So whenever he meets a new fisherman, he lets them know to not be bashful when they see him doing something wrong on the river. Pointers are always welcome.

“You have to always be welcome to criticism, and it’s all constructive criticism. It’s no coincidence that the better I’ve become with my casting, the more fish I’ve hooked,” he says. “I’m getting better at it, and I’m up to the point now where my casting is good enough I’ll be able to go and do some bonefishing (in the Caribbean), where you have to be really accurate with your casting – otherwise, you’ll never catch any.”

Still, Alaska is where this fly fisherman feels most at peace.

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BARRY’S FIRST TRIP to Alaska was not for fishing but golf. He played in a charity tournament in the Anchorage area. One day while there he was invited to fish and managed to catch a king salmon, but had to be told by the floatplane pilot it was landed out of season.

“What the hell did I know? I didn’t know anything,” he recalls. “I said, ‘(Shoot), you didn’t tell me the rules.’”

But fishing with his friend Minnich convinced Barry he wanted more and to experience fishing more often. He looked around for an Alaska lodge that offered what he wanted. He ultimately began regularly visiting Rainbow River Lodge at Bristol Bay’s Lake Iliamna. Barry also set up a salt- and freshwater trip to Boardwalk Lodge on Prince of Wales Island along the state’s southeastern panhandle.

“I go up there every year and try to put trips together for businesses or individual groups,” Barry says. “I had a guy who wants to go next year with about six people, and he asked me, ‘What kind of salmon should I go for?’ I said, ‘Do you really enjoy catching fish?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ And I told him he wants to get silvers. Of all the fish you’re going to get in the salmon family, the ones that are most fun for me are silvers. Those suckers will jump and fight.”

Barry knows he’s in heaven for an angler when he’ll head out with his group to fish and the only other fellow visitors that day is the wildlife sharing the river. He’s seen more bears than other people in all his years fishing Alaska’s rivers.

Once, Barry was filming an Alaskan outdoors TV show with his friend, former Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Jones. Between shoots they decided to join in the combat fishing chaos of the state’s popular Kenai River during a salmon run. It was blatantly obvious which scene Barry preferred.

“Holy crap. I looked from one bend to the other on the river and there were 60 freaking (anglers). And another boat pulls up to us and was 10 feet away. This what not my idea of fun fishing,” he says. “Thank God I got to experience it once because I’m so happy I never did that on a trip to spend five, six, seven days doing that; I would have hated it.”

About the only negative he has to say about Alaska is he wishes the Wi-Fi were stronger so he could better enjoy another pastime: watching movies and his favorite TV shows on Netflix. But then Barry remembers he’s “in the middle of nowhere,” in a place where he can make cast after cast and bring in fish after fish.

Lynn hasn’t caught the bug, but she did accompany her husband on a three-night trip they bid successfully on during a charity auction. They had to hike for an hour on Alaska tundra before finally reaching a stream. They saw all of two other human beings the entire duration of the trip.

With so little fishing pressure, Barry managed to hook 35 rainbow trout and about 20 grayling on dry flies. Of the trout he caught and released, about 30 measured 20 or more inches. Even Lynn managed to catch almost two dozen grayling. This was paradise, about a million metaphorical miles away from the congestion on the Kenai – another reason why Barry keeps returning every chance he gets. Someday, he’ll catch a 30-inch rainbow.

“Maybe I’ll get lucky on my next trip,” he says. “We’ll see what happens.”

But he’ll enjoy all of the smaller and even too-small fish along the way.

Barry and fishing buddy, World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd

Barry and fishing buddy, World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd

THE BARRY FAMILY is to basketball what the Barrymores are to acting, the Wallendas to high-wire acrobatics and the Kardashians/Jenners to reality TV stardom. Of Barry’s six kids, only daughter Shannon never got involved in playing basketball.

Rick was known for his unique but rarely copied foul shooting technique (son Canyon shoots his free throws underhanded for his current college team). The family patriarch’s fabulous career included more than 25,000 points scored, a Rookie of the Year award, an NBA Finals MVP award for the 1975 champion Warriors and five first-team All-NBA seasons. Lynn, who is Canyon’s mom, was a star basketball player at the College of William and Mary and later remained in the game as a coach and administrator.

There are also four older Barry sons: Scooter won an NCAA title at the University of Kansas and spent many years playing abroad in pro leagues. Drew is his college alma mater’s (Georgia Tech) all-time leader in assists and played for four NBA teams. Jon (ESPN) and Brent (TNT) are successful TV analysts who also had lengthy pro careers (Brent Barry also won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1996). Scooter, Jon, Brent and Drew all attended Concord’s De La Salle High School.

“I’m hoping to get them up there (in Alaska), and I know Scooter told me he’d really like to go,” Rick says of his sons. “But they have young kids and they’re busy with what they’re doing. One of these summers I’m hoping to convince them to take their boys and go with me.”

And who knows? Rick Barry said events happen in threes; his sons all played basketball at a high level just as he did. At one time or another, Scooter and Brent also dabbled in broadcasting like their dad and brothers have on a full-time basis.

“Hell, the third thing can be that they all become fly fishermen,” Rick says.

Still, there is no shortage of sports royalty for Rick Barry to head up to Alaska with. There is World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd, who fished with Barry in Alaska this summer. One of Barry’s closest friends, former Warriors teammate Clifford Ray (see sidebar), is a regular fishing partner who went with Barry on a trip to Sitka and to Prince of Wales Island in August.

Even legendary NBA/ABA star George Gervin, who was known as “The Iceman” during a Hall of Fame career, got in on the action. That spurred a joking twinge of disdain from Barry about these two hoops gunslingers meeting in Alaska.

“George is a spincaster. He didn’t have any waders or boots. But he came up with his son (and a couple others) and we did mostly saltwater fishing and we did some freshwater too. We had a good time,” Barry says, recalling that not many old basketball war stories were swapped. But The Iceman did get in a memorable photobomb.

“We have a great picture where I’m holding up a nice silver salmon, and George is in the background with his son and they’re both giving me the finger.”

Barry at the Warriors' 2015 NBA championship parade in Oakland.

Barry at the Warriors’ 2015 NBA championship parade in Oakland.

THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY Area’s pro basketball scene came full circle on June 19. On a sun-splashed morning in Oakland, the city celebrated the Golden State Warriors’ NBA title victory parade. Besides the current team – led by league Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry – also involved were some of the franchise’s past stars, including arguably its greatest player, Rick Barry.

He was the 1975 NBA Finals MVP when the Warriors won their only other championship since moving west from Philadelphia in 1963.

Barry, who lives in Colorado but has spent a lot of post-NBA time in the Bay Area – including a stint hosting a popular sports radio show – initially was leery about attending the parade when the organization asked him and others from the team’s past to participate.

“I told them when they asked me, ‘There’s no reason for me to be at the parade.’ They said they wanted to (bring back) the history and have the guys there,” said Barry, who was joined by several of his former teammates and the team’s 1975 head coach, Al Attles.

“I just didn’t want to take anything away from the team. I didn’t do anything.”

Yet Barry and other former players are still revered by Golden State’s fan base, which has been among the most loyal – and perhaps longest suffering – of all the teams in the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area. Barry received a loud cheer from the estimated crowd of 500,000 when he was announced.

“I was just happy for the new ownership and the fans more than anything else,” says Barry, who publicly chastised Golden State fans when he jumped on the microphone in 2012 and defended co-owner Joe Lacob. He was booed loudly by the Oracle Arena crowd during that ceremony to retire the jersey number of former Warriors player Chris Mullin.

Admittedly, the team had gone through years of mediocrity and bad basketball, but Barry angrily called out the haters that night. And just three years later Golden State won its first championship in 40 years, when Barry led the way.

“It was great for the players to experience what it’s like to do that. Forty years is certainly a long time,” Barry says. “It was great for the city (of Oakland) and the Bay Area.”

On Oct. 27, the Warriors opened defense of their championship by hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. Before tipoff, the team was awarded their title rings and the banner was unveiled at Oracle. A representative from each of the franchise’s championships was also honored. It was a no-brainer who from the 1975 team would appear: Rick Barry.

He’ll always have a soft spot for where he had the best days of his fantastic basketball career.

“I’m thrilled to have been a part of that,” Barry says. “I’m always happy to go back to be a part of what they’re doing. It will always be a special part of my life.”

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Barry makes regular fishing trips to Alaska these days.

THE FISHING IN Alaska can be so prolific that Barry sometimes gets spoiled.

“You catch so many fish and it’s so beautiful. It’s such a special time when you’re up there, get away from everything and get into nature and God’s beauty and be hooking into a lot of fish,” he says.

On one river float, the guide pointed out to Barry that a large trout was on the other side below some tree cover. The conundrum? There were roughly 12 inches between the water surface and
the branches.

While the guide was skeptical there was enough room to get a cast in that space, Barry wanted to give it a shot. “Let me try,” he said.

Recalling the moment, Barry says, “I got out of the boat and into the water, got down low and just cast it sideways and level with the water. I tried to make sure that I got my length correct. I threw a couple casts that were a little too long. I shortened it up a little bit, and after a couple of casts I threw it in there. It hit the water and that fish came up and exploded – it just nailed that fly. It was a 23-inch rainbow and I thought, ‘If I don’t catch another fish the rest of the day, this is still awesome.’”

Still, catching fish is what the sport is all about. In basketball, the name of the game is ultimately getting the ball through the hoop. Some anglers go to Alaska hoping to catch that once-in-a-generation trophy salmon, trout or halibut. But Barry is more about quantity than quality. He’s perfectly fine with a catch-and-release day where he’s constantly landing fish, size be damned.

“For me it doesn’t matter if it’s 4 inches long or 40 inches long. It’s all about the strike and setting the hook. That’s why I can’t understand why some people get so enamored by going out trolling with the rods in the holder,” Barry says. “All of a sudden, they hand you the rod. That’s not fishing – that’s reeling. Even in the times when I do go out and saltwater fish, I want to hold the rod.”

And he’s done so through hours upon hours of casts during annual trips to Alaska (his bike wreck prevented going up in 2014). Barry loves to share stories of an endless cycle of casts, bites, and catch-and-release action.

A couple years ago, Barry was at his beloved Rainbow River Lodge on a solo trip with a group he wasn’t familiar with. Every day he’d go out and was asked upon the return how he did. He’d caught “about 100” on the first day.

“The guy said, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ So I go out the next day and the same guys ask, ‘How did it go?’ ‘Another great day. About 100 or more fish.’ So I go out on the third day and come back and tell them about another 100 and something fish. They said, ‘That’s insane.’ By the fourth day when they asked again I said, ‘You really don’t want to know.’ ‘Come on, tell us what you did.’ I said, ‘Two hundred and twenty-four fish.’”

All of the jump shots he’s made, all of the underhand free throws he’s swished in basketball have been replaced by other astonishing percentages. Barry recalls once landing fish on 24 consecutive casts of his fly rod. During his trip with Raymond Floyd in August he texted, “I hooked over 500 in four days!”

There are more awaiting him for years to come.

“This might be crazy,” he says, “but my goal in life is to be 100 years old and go fly fishing at Rainbow River Lodge.”

Don’t bet against him. By then, making a perfect fly cast will probably be as simple a task for Rick Barry as shooting an underhanded free throw was: almost a sure thing. CS

 Editor’s note: More info on Rick Barry’s fishing trips can be found atrickbarry24.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@Rick24Barry).

 

Rick Barry (left) and Clifford Ray are former teammates, close friends and fishing partners.

Rick Barry (left) and Clifford Ray are former teammates, close friends and fishing partners.

A TEACHING MOMENT

If there’s one thing best friends Rick Barry and Clifford Ray haven’t seen eye to eye on, it’s that the former loves to fly fish and the latter prefers a spinning rod on the water.

Barry, teammates with Ray on Golden State’s 1975 NBA championship team and now best friends, has tried to convince Ray to start casting flies.

“I’m trying to get Clifford into fly fishing,” Barry said of Ray, who played seven seasons with Golden State during a 10-year NBA career. “Clifford’s the one I do more fishing with than anybody else. Clifford’s like a brother to me.”

Ray, a rugged, tough-as-sandpaper post player who averaged nearly a double-double (9.4 points, 10.6 rebounds) during Golden State’s 1975 title run, is almost as passionate about fishing as his buddy. Just not so much for casting flies.

“He’s a spincaster. I (had a trip) lined up in November to go for steelhead (before it was canceled). But (Ray) would have do it with fly fishing (gear),” Barry said back in August, when they usually take an annual fishing trip to Alaska. “I’m sure I can convince him to give it a try. And I’m hoping it works, because I want him to catch a steelhead on a freakin’ fly rod.”

On one of their trips, Ray’s son came along and “Everett is hooked on fly fishing,” Barry said proudly.

He thinks the knowledge he’s learned from mentors he’s fished with like Al Caucci – the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame inductee to complement Barry’s place in basketball’s ultimate shrine to greatness – in Montana and Pennsylvania’s Delaware River can be passed down to Ray. Then he can start catching steelhead once Barry encourages to him to pick up a fly rod. –CC

A World-Record Spot Caught In California?

 

Paul Bailey (left) could have caught the world-record spotted bass, (Photo from Irod Fishing Facebook page)

Paul Bailey (left) could have caught the world-record spotted bass, (Photo from Irod Fishing Facebook page)

Northern California angler Paul Bailey is no stranger to catching big bass, Our former sales manager Brian Lull took this shot (below)  of Bailey and his Clear Lake tournament partner Jackson Juarez at the 2014 event at Konocti Vista Casino, and Bailey and Juarez won that same event in 2013.

Photo by Brian Lull

Photo by Brian Lull

Bailey, from Kelseyville, may have a the label “world-record holder” attached to his name after various reports had him catching a spotted bass (in an unnamed body of water) that could have established a new standard. But as FLW Outdoors reported, it’s for now an unofficial record only:

Bailey’s behemoth was weighed on three different Rapala digital scales. Each registered a different weight: 11 pounds, 7 ounces, 11-5 and 11-4.

While Bailey’s fish was almost certainly larger than the existing record bass, it might not end up as the official record. Ferrante kept his fish and weighed it on a certified scale. While Bailey has plenty of witnesses and photos, he was unable to find a California Department of Fish and Wildlife agent willing and able to certify the fish on a holiday Sunday and was unwilling to risk keeping it overnight or killing the fish.

“I was torn between killing the fish [or letting it go],” says Bailey. “If it was a largemouth bass and it was a record-class fish, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. These spotted bass are just getting started, and I know the record is going to be broken again. It just wasn’t worth it to me to kill the fish and go through it all.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in the rest of the story so it’s a good read. Official or not, congrats to Bailey for what appears to be a massive spot. Well done, sir.

 

Lake Jennings Bite Is Buzzing

Photo courtesy of Lake Jennings Facebook

Photo courtesy of Lake Jennings Facebook

The following fish report is courtesy of San Diego-area’s Lake Jennings:

TROUT BITE

The trout are still biting strong here at Lake Jennings! The second week of trout season proved to be a success as fish were caught from boats and off the shoreline.

During the week, campers caught a few trout a piece off Sentry Point shoreline, averaging between 3 and 4 pounds each!

BASS BITE

Bass are hungry and staying close to where the trout are. Look in Sentry Cove!

CATFISH AND PANFISH LAKE NEWS

Anglers caught catfish on Friday from Eagle Cove. The fish are vying for anything as they are hungry!

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

www.facebook.com/LakeJenningsRecreation

www.lakejennings.org/fishing/fishreport

www.LakeJennings.org