Tag Archives: featured content

Depature From Fish And Game Commission Hunting Advocate A Concern

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News of longest tenured-member Jim Kellogg’s late December retirement from the five-member California Fish and Game Commission flew mostly under the radar, but over the weekend Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle provided a fanastic detailed breakdown  of Kellogg’s sudden exit and the potential impact it will have on the state’s hardcore anglers and especially hunters.

Fimrite’s report is a great read and paints Kellogg as one of the remaining few members of the board with a bonafide passion for hunting, creating the fear that hunters will get the short shrift in the future with a perceived commission group more concerned about conservation – and I for one don’t dismiss that as it surely is vital as wel, but with a balanced approach  – than supporting the state’s sportsmen and -women. That was where Kellogg presumably served as the biggest (only?) true ally for hunters and anglers.

Here’s Fimrite:

Such a move may, observers say, complete the transformation of the commission from an organization that advocates for fishing and hunting to one that safeguards endangered species, preserves habitat and protects California’s top predators from slaughter.

But it won’t happen without a fight. While environmentalists say they are finally getting a fair shake in the high-stakes political game of wildlife management, advocates for outdoor sports fear they have lost their voice and that the role they have played in the protection of species is being forgotten.

The five-member commission, whose job is to recommend policies to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been wading through divisive issues that could profoundly impact the future of the state, including what to do about diminishing salmon populations, sick sea lions and disappearing sea otters.

How California responds to growing numbers of wolves, coyotes and mountain lions is a central battle. The question is whether the predators should be tolerated or encouraged — or driven away by guard dogs or gunned down when they get too close to people or livestock.

Historically, the commission has been made up almost entirely of hunters and fishermen, but that focus has changed in the past several years.

Just what that means for the future of outdoor sports in the state remains to be seen. But the ever-changing commission does appear to be lacking Kellogg-types with a passion for hunting.

More from Fimrite:

But it was the resignation of Kellogg, who often teamed up with Sutton and Richards, that was viewed by many as the end of the line for the hunting and fishing coalition on the commission.

“I’m leaving pretty much out of frustration,” Kellogg said in an interview. He had been on the board for 14 years when he retired Dec. 31, the longest-serving member of the commission.

“I’m just tired of being the only one fighting the fight for the hunters and fishers,” he said. “The first 12 years I won most of the battles, and the last couple of years I lost almost every battle.”

The changes on the commission are an illustration of a statewide phenomenon. Californians, more than ever, regard wildlife, including apex predators, as a valuable part of the ecosystem instead of as food or vermin.

Chuck Bonham, the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, says he is committed to embracing science-based wildlife and ecosystem management while preserving the history and traditions associated with hunting and fishing.

Clearly, though, there has been a movement away from those traditions. The transformation became vivid in 2012 when then-Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael, who has since been elected to Congress, introduced a bill to change the name of the department that has managed fishing and hunting in California since 1872 from “Fish and Game” to “Fish and Wildlife.”

It was clear that Kellogg was fighting for hunters, and anytime a community that faces constant scrutiny in California loses a voice like Kellogg’s, it’s a big loss.

 

 

 

Obama Should Veto Bill That Could Threaten Waters

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(MIKE STEVENS)

Trout Unlimited reported on the House’s controversial bill that may compromise the Clean Water Act.

Here’s TU’s Kate Baker with more:

President Obama has promised to veto the measure (Senate Joint Resolution 22), and as today’s vote demonstrated, the votes to override his veto are clearly not there.

We have been here before. This is the third attempt by the House during this Congress to derail the EPA/Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Rule.  Enough already!  Americans support this rule, and commented in droves in favor of it during the rulemaking process.  

Congress and President Obama have rejected similar attacks in the recent past. In the2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed into law just before Christmas, Congress wisely decided to reject a rider that would have derailed the rule that will help the federal government do a better job with the foremost of the fundamentals—deciding what is, and what is not, a waterway afforded protection by America’s favorite natural resource law, the Clean Water Act.  

The measure approved by the House today is an extraordinary and radical action to overturn the Rule, which was rightfully created through an open and deliberative agency rulemaking process.  By using the Congressional Review Act, this joint resolution would not only wipe out the final Clean Water Rule, but it would also prohibit any substantially similar rule in the future.  This action would lock in place the current state of jurisdictional confusion and offers no constructive path forward for regulatory clarity or for ensuring protections for our nation’s waters.  America’s hunters and anglers cannot afford to have Congress undermine effective Clean Water Act safeguards, leaving communities and valuable fish and game habitat at risk indefinitely. 

 

 

CDFW Awards Large Fund To Help Restoration Projects

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

 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 24 projects that will receive funding from its Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) Restoration Grant Programs

The grants, which total $31.4 million, are CDFW’s first distribution of funds through these programs. They include approximately $24.6 million awarded through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program to projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and approximately $6.8 million awarded through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program for projects that benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta specifically.

In response to this first solicitation, announced last August, CDFW received 190 proposals requesting a total of $218 million in funding. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review, and those that passed were evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW scientists, as well as experts from other agencies and academia.

The 24 approved projects will further the objectives of the California Water Action Plan, including establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat, and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality, flood protection and habitat) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades.

“These projects achieve the spirit and intent of Proposition 1 to protect and restore important ecosystems around the state,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Investing in these projects is exciting. These projects prove we can conserve California’s natural resources, while also contributing to other critical statewide needs, such as enhancing water supply reliability.”

Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 in November 2014. CDFW received its first appropriation of funds for allocation July 2015. In a little over one year from voter approval, and just more than six months from legislative appropriations, CDFW is awarding these first grants with Proposition 1 funds.

Projects approved for funding through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Reclamation District 2035/Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency Joint Intake and Fish Screen ($8,128,621 to Reclamation District 2035);
  • South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project Phase 2: Ravenswood and Mt. View Ponds ($5,000,000 to California State Coastal Conservancy);
  • San Joaquin River – Invasive Species Management and Job Creation Project ($1,497,843 to River Partners);
  • San Joaquin River – Native Habitat Restoration and Species Enhancement at Dos Rios Ranch ($798,978 to River Partners);
  • North Campus Open Space Coastal Wetland Restoration Project ($997,095 to Regents of University California, Santa Barbara);
  • San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Removal and Tidal Marsh Restoration Project ($3,000,000 to California State Coastal Conservancy);
  • Tuolumne River Bobcat Flat Salmonid Habitat Restoration-Duck Slough Side Channel Restoration for Off-Channel Rearing Habitat ($453,618 to Tuolumne River Conservancy);
  • Native Trout Preservation in the Santa Ana Watershed in Southern California ($44,093 to Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District);
  • Restoring Fish Migration Connectivity to the Salt River Coastal Watershed ($1,995,438 to Humboldt County Resource Conservation District);
  • Grasslands Floodplain Restoration Project ($576,351 to American Rivers);
  • Perazzo Meadows Restoration ($607,889 to Truckee River Watershed Council);
  • San Gabriel Watershed Restoration Program ($65,000 to Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District);
  • Sequoia National Forest Prioritized Meadows Restoration Project ($486,173 to Trout Unlimited); and
  • Lower Putah Creek Watershed Restoration ($990,312 to Solano County Water Agency).

Projects approved for funding through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Reconstructing juvenile salmon growth, condition and Delta habitat use in the 2014-15 drought and beyond ($800,484 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Drought-related high water temperature impacts survival of California salmonids through disease, increasing predation risk ($625,740 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine);
  • Hydrodynamic influences on the food webs of restoring tidal wetlands ($867,235 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Rush Ranch Lower Spring Branch Creek and Suisun Hill Hollow Tidal Connections Project ($839,449 to Solano Land Trust);
  • Mechanisms underlying the flow relationship of longfin smelt: I. Movement and feeding ($1,263,991 to San Francisco State University);
  • The Effect of Drought on Delta Smelt Vital Rates ($678,275 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Office of Research, Sponsored Programs);
  • Yolo Bypass Westside Tributaries Flow Monitoring Project ($331,148 to Yolo County);
  • Problems and Promise of Restoring Tidal Marsh to Benefit Native Fishes in the North Delta during Drought and Flood ($969,238 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Habitat and Drainage Improvement Project Permitting ($145,944 to Ducks Unlimited); and
  • Knightsen Wetland Restoration and Flood Protection Project ($240,000 to East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy).

More information about CDFW’s Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants. Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act 2014 (Proposition 1) bond funds, a portion of which are allocated annually through the California State Budget Act. More information about Proposition 1 can be foundhere.

 

 

Kids Day At Lake Jennings Jan. 29

A limit of Lake Jennings trout caught earlier this month. (LAKE JENNINGS)

A limit of Lake Jennings trout caught earlier this month. (LAKE JENNINGS)

 

Here’s a report from San Diego’s Lake Jennings:

Join us for our second annual Kid’s Day on January 30, 2016 from 6

a.m. to 2 p.m.! Children 10 years and under fish for free! Fun for all ages!

400 pounds of trout will be stocked into our kid’s pond– 1 fish per child. Some fish will be tagged and can be redeemed at the bait and tackle shop for prizes such as free camping week-
ends, and free boat rentals.

For those who are beginning fishermen, Fishing University class will be held at 10 a.m. at the Bait Shop taught by our educated rangers.

They’ll help you rig your poles and choose the best bait and tackle to fish Lake Jennings!

The lake will be CLOSED on Friday, January 29 in preparation for the event. Shoreline fishing below the campground will be available to registered campers only on the 29th.

FISHING REPORT

Hermit Cove and Eagle Cove were prime locations for catching our Sierra ‘bows this week. They are hitting on night-
crawlers and PowerBait (garlic scented or salmon peach).

Next week will begin our weekly stockings for five weeks in a row! 1,000 pounds. will be added next week and a total of 7,500 pounds will be stocked by February 21!

BASS BITE

The shoreline of cloister cove and the T-dock are the best places for bass fishing. The bait of choice is shiners.

CATFISH AND PANFISH

Bluegill have been hiding out along the Half Moon Cove shoreline. The best bait for catching panfish is nightcrawlers.

Like Lake Jennings at facebook.com/LakeJenningsRecreation

 

NorCal Steelhead Preview

Photos by Green Water Fishing Adventures

Photos by Green Water Fishing Adventures

 

 

The following appears in the January issue of California Sportsman: 

 

By Chris Cocoles

Not that low water conditions prevented his clients from scoring some nice steelhead in the last two years, but longtime North Coast guide Tony Sepulveda expects rivers to have a lot more water this season.

A series of rainstorms that swept through in late fall and December was sorely needed after the extended drought. The Smith River got enough water in December that it crested over flood stage, “the biggest we’ve seen in quite a few years,” says Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures (707-845-9588; greenwaterguides.com). “It’s been a wet December, so hopefully it keeps going.”

From a pure fishing standpoint, Sepulveda prefers lower water conditions when it comes to catching steelhead.

“I didn’t feel like it was a huge run last year, but the low water kept those fish spread out and they moved slow,” he says. “The year before that, we had really low water combined with a really big run of fish. Two years ago was the best steelhead fishing I’d seen in 20 years here.”

“Steelhead are interesting. They’ll sit where they want to sit and a lot of times there are spots that are really low, froggy spots they’ll like to sit in. These are big flats that go for 2 miles in either direction, and a lot of times with just a little bit of a substrate change and no perceivable change of current,” Sepulveda adds. “It just comes down to knowing a river and knowing where those fish want to sit.”

But the rainy season at the beginning of winter was much needed, so more water certainly won’t be frowned upon and can still make for a productive season. One of the only negatives in more rain is perhaps losing a few days to inclement conditions.

“The last couple winters I can count on one hand the number of days I lost to weather,” Sepulveda says. “I just think this year is going to be a different one in terms of conditions since we’ll be back with more normal weather.”

 

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He will mostly focus his attention on three popular area rivers: the Smith, which empties into the Pacific just north of Crescent City; the Eel, south of Eureka; plus the Chetco, flowing just across the California border in Oregon. During the mostly sporadic rainfall of the last two years, Sepulveda primarily concentrated his efforts on the Eel.

“The Eel tidewater has kind of been my bread and butter,” he admits.

Depending on water conditions, he’ll also “bounce around” to smaller rivers and creeks this season, but the aforementioned three are his holy trinity during the winter steelie run this month and next.

“We’re really lucky here in Northern California; we get a really good progression in terms of the clearing time of all our rivers,” Sepulveda says.

“The Smith is the first one that comes into shape always; after a really big deluge, maybe 24 to 36 hours you can be back on that thing and fishing again. And the Chetco’s a little bit behind it. Then the Eel starts to come into shape on the upper stretches of the south fork, and you can follow a wave of green water for about 2½ weeks as you work your way down the south fork down into the main stem. I suppose the name of the game in winter steelhead fishing is following that progression and being ready to move as you need to.”

Each of the three has its own distinct personality and unique challenge in relation to the other.

“To break the differences down in real definitive fashion, we could write a novel,” jokes Sepulveda, who did his best to provide a CliffsNotes version of the best steelhead waters.

Steelhead preview 1

 

 

The Chetco can be a much simpler river to fish. If you see something that looks like good water you are likely to be in a good spot. The river bottom is also lots of smooth gravel, less susceptible to snagging and not super deep.

The Smith can be a totally different prospect and carries a higher degree of difficulty. Sepulveda tells clients who play golf that fishing the Smith can be equivalent to playing 18 holes at Spyglass Hill, the tricky course among the Pebble Beach links on the Monterey Peninsula.

“The fish there sit in peculiar waters a lot of times. It’s just a much harder river to get to your bait to run (on),” he says. “It’s snaggy if you’re fishing too heavy. And when it’s big and pushy it’s hard to get to your baits to drift without drag because there’s so much water flowing.”

The Eel’s south fork and main stem are different rivers in their own right in how they are fished. On the south fork, smaller and easy to read when it gets lower, fish will usually sit right in the heart of deeper buckets of water. But on the main stem you’re catching more fish when rolling over shallow breaks and little ripples.

What really isn’t different is the technique and tackle used from river to river.

“Steelhead fishing is steelhead fishing. We’re still rolling the same stuff most of the time. I’ll do a little bit of plug fishing here and there,” Sepulveda says. “For the most part we’re just rolling bait and drifting roe or even just a yarn ball. That part of it doesn’t change much. It’s just more about where I fish more than anything else.”

Oregon Wolf Spotted In Modoc County

OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of ODFW.

OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of ODFW.

 

Drought? High real estate prices? The Sacramento Kings not only continue to play mediocre basketball but are a dysfunctional mess? Wolves don’t seem to care and continue to relocate to California in bunches.

Here’s more from the Center for Biological Diversity:

Evidence of a wolf in Modoc County was reported today by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The 3-year-old male wolf, who is radio-collared and dubbed OR-25 by the state wildlife agency in Oregon, left his birthpack in northeastern Oregon in April, was in southwestern Oregon by December and recently crossed the border into California. 

“California is clearly wolf country because they keep coming here from Oregon. This is a great moment to celebrate,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Perhaps they are following a scent trail from other wolves that have come here the past couple years but, whatever the reason, it makes it all the more necessary to ensure they have the protections needed to thrive once they get here.”

OR-25 was born into the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon, as was California’s first known wild wolf in 87 years, OR-7, who first came to California in 2011. OR-7 ranged across seven northeastern counties in California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate and had litters of pups in 2014 and 2015. In August 2015, California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County. The breeding female of that pack, which has five pups, is also related to the Imnaha pack.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife spotted first a single wolf and in Siskiyou County last summer. Later cameras revealed a mom and five wolf pups.

 

 

Winter’s Here At Caples Lake

 

 

 

 

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Our friends Drew and John  at Caples Lake gave us a little peek into the Sierras and that snow is abundant in the high country. Here’s their update:

 

– 220 inches of Snow as of January 7th, 2016

  • We’re  1 mile east of Kirkwood Mountain Resort

– Eight Cabins & six lodge rooms with parking and sledding 50 feet from your door

– 1 sq. mile, Caples Lake is frozen with 15 inches of ice depth for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.

Caples Lake Resort

209-258-8888

www.capleslakeresort.com

 

Fresno’s Sportsman’s Warehouse

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Having attended college and working in Fresno for a combined seven years, I alwyas heard the jokes about what a dump the city is. Is it hot in summer? Hell yes. Foggy and cold in winter? Absolutely. But it’s hardly the “armpit of America,”  contrary to the opinions of  bitter football announcers from Hawaii.

So we’re in agreement: Fresno isn’t Paris, but it’s not Hades either (though admittedly I’ve eaten bacon right off the sidewalk in August). When I visited friends in Fresno around New Years Day, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the city’s anglers and hunters had a Sportsman’s Warehouse right in North Fresno that’s been open for the last couple month. My friend and I – along with his grandson – checked out the store. Here are a few pics:

 

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CS Presents Our Favorite Stories Of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I try to be a looking ahead kind of person, but I’m also a major history nerd, so it’s fun to look back on the past. Not that 2015 is more signifciant to Americans as say, 1776 or 1863 or 1945 or 2001. But things happened in 2015 just the same.

Here at California Sportsman, we wanted to provide you with a few excerpts from our favorite stories of the year:

 

Baja fishing 9

As a boy, I used to listen to my grandfather talk about Baja California – specifically the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California – frequently.
At the time, I thought he had been there. As it turned out, all he knew of the desolate peninsula and the beautiful blue sea came from a book entitled The Sea of Cortez, written by Ray Cannon, and published in 1966.
My grandfather would talk of huge fish being caught from the beach and devil rays weighing close to 1,000 pounds, leaping from the blue waters and smashing back to the surface with a thundering slap. I would pour through that book every time I visited him, marveling at the size of the fish that swam the gulf. Even as a young boy, I knew I wanted to go there.
Starting in the early 1990s, I started making frequent trips south of the border to experience the Baja Peninsula. Those first trips were required during my fisheries’ training. The university I attended maintains a field station called Los Pulpos, about 30 miles south of the coastal town of San Felipe. During my early college days, I made regular trips down to the field station, located scant feet from the calm gulf. Once I became familiar with portions of the peninsula, all I wanted to do was see more.
I learned two things very quickly once I started traveling to Baja: the beaches and surrounding terrain of the peninsula were wide open for exploration, and the fishing in the Sea of Cortez was absolutely amazing.

-Tim Hovey on his love of fishing off the coast of Baja California. (January)

 

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There was also the cultural experience of visiting countries such as the Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, which was priceless (an episode was also filmed in the south island of New Zealand).
Learning a few phrases of one of South Africa’s and Namibia’s official languages, Afrikaans, has inspired further studying of that dialect for future trips to that part of the world.
“I think it’s a little bit humbling and life-changing and a little bit in our face,” Harman says. “Just because here in the U.S., we have the luxury of grabbing a glass of water, checking the Internet and going to the movies. And these people don’t have that luxury. Kids can’t just go to a faucet and grab a glass of water like we do. They’re going to watering holes or digging a hole in the middle of a dried-up creekbed to drink water with sand in it. Jen and I will probably keep those moments forever and never take for granted what we do have.”
Adams was floored by the diversity, both in the people of the various countries visited and the constantly changing topography. She didn’t expect to see mountains not unlike those located a short distance from her Northern California home (“I don’t think a lot of people realize that,” Adams says). It wasn’t long until they’d go from mountains to a sandy desert and then a rainforest.
“We were just so grateful for the opportunity (to be there) and to hunt in a situation we’ve never been in before,” Adams says. “To know where Norissa and I came from, we were able to see things that most of my family and people back home will never have the opportunity to see. I felt very lucky and blessed to be there.”

-Girls With Guns moguls Jen Adams (O’Hara) and Norissa Harman on their Africa hunting adventure. (February)

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My first trip to Macedonia focused around hunting the Balkan chamois, this was my first “chammy” hunt and I was very excited to challenge myself with the fierce terrain that they are known to live in. We set out early in the morning, parked the car around daybreak and took off on foot. I was mentally prepared for an extremely long and arduous day. Less than an hour into our hike I bumped into my guide Toni Tonchev, who stopped short and pointed downhill.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I had not been paying attention to my surroundings and we were standing directly above a group of feeding chamois. We had just come to the bend in the hill and the animals were not yet spooked, so Toni carefully showed the biggest of the group. It was obvious with the naked eye that this particular chammy was much bigger in horn than the rest.
Toni made sure that I had the right one picked out and then he bent forward and plugged his ears; he motioned for me to shoot off of his shoulder. The animals had spotted the movement so there was no time to argue, I did as I was told and dropped the Chamois in its tracks. I was thrilled, and the long hard day just became a short wonderful day!
The chamois was even more spectacular up close, even bigger than the one my dad Craig had shot a few years before in the same area; that made me smile a little.

-Urban Huntress Brittany Boddington on hunting in a pristine corner of Southern Europe. (March)

 

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As the current slowed to an imperceptible crawl Shane told us to strip in our rigs. He turned the boat and rowed up to the top of the run. He swung into the slow, slack water where the smooth river rocks were made slick by a layer of orange, organic material.
“We’ll be going left side. Chris, go ahead and start casting,” Shane directed us.
Shane had spent a good 20 minutes on a drift boat-fishing tutorial before we started. As a guide who is interested in getting his clients into fish, he felt the need to be thorough in his instruction about how to cast and, you know, do things that catch fish. So when Shane told Chris to start casting, the beginner knew what to do, and by the time we reached the top of the line, Chris was fishing.
I glanced downriver before I flopped my rig into the fray. I noticed another boat that had been fishing the same area. The craft started down a parallel line probably 6 feet closer to shore than ours. I didn’t pay attention to how they did; I just noticed the difference in lines.
As instructed, I kept my unblinking eyes on the strike indicator – hoping it would stop, dip, bounce or dive. It did. My left hand pulled the slack fly line through eyes of the rod and I pinned the now tight line to the cork. Fish on. I stripped to keep the rod bent and felt the shake of the fish. It wasn’t big, but it was another rainbow in the net.
It was going to be a good day.

-Jeff Lund on drift fishing the lower Sacramento River. (March)

 

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This idea wasn’t designed to create a police vs. fire department competition or its own version of fish wars. It’s always been meant for a fun, couple days for law enforcement types to catch some bass, enjoy some good food and take a break from their hectic and stressful occupations.
“So many of these tournaments are crazy-competitive and nobody’s having fun because you’re trying to win. Of course people want to win some money. But we’re all good guys; we’re all in public safety, so it’s all about having a good time,” Konopa says.
“We get a lot of bad press (in law enforcement). And doing the job has changed dramatically. We have a lot of Sacramento guys who come down who say they aren’t able to do anything else together. They work in the same department, and they’re friends. Yet, this tournament brings them all together every year. Stuff like that is really cool.”
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Association has a partnered with a nonprofit organization, Casting For Recovery that receives proceeds from an annual raffle during the tournament.
Konopa knows when the time comes to do the heavy lifting and planning for the event, it can be time consuming when making phone calls, securing donations for the raffle and the piles of paperwork (law enforcement officials are no stranger to the latter chore).
Konopa purchased a new bass boat 1½ years ago, but with a wife and two kids, plus a demanding work schedule, getting out on the lake for more than twice a month on his favorite fisheries like Lake Berryessa is unrealistic. So despite the grunt work required to put this tournament together, it’s well worth it for the end result of F-U-N.
“I get so many emails asking me when’s the tournament? So there plenty of days when I think, ‘Man, this is so much work.’ But again, it goes back to supporting Casting For Recovery, hanging out with my buddies and so many people that I know now. I’ve had people for 11 years coming here, so there’s no way I can stop now.”

-Sonoma County Sheriffs officer Ken Konopa puts on an annual bass fishing tournament for the state’s law enforcement employees (May)

Hovey Father's Day 1

When my daughter Alyssa was born in 2000, I was absolutely convinced that before her first birthday, she’d be sleeping in a tent with us. Eighteen months later, when the doctor handed me daughter number two, Jessica, I wasn’t dissuaded in the slightest. I was determined to teach my two daughters what my dad had taught me about the outside world. And I knew when I was outdoors, my little girls would be right there with me.
Early on, it wasn’t unusual to see a baby stroller outside our tent during camping trips. When they reached the toddler stage, we took them fishing and on short hikes. Whenever we were outside as a family, we’d show them animal tracks and look for wildlife.
When they reached the ages of 7 and 8, respectively, we took them target shooting. As they got older, they began showing an interest in hunting. And as the trips started to pile up, I quickly realized that Alyssa and Jessica weren’t going to stay tag-a-longs for very long.
Over the last few years they’ve developed hunting and shooting skills that are far beyond what I possessed at their ages. They each passed their hunter safety course and are safe well beyond their years. And once they had their hunting licenses, they wasted no time in making sure that when I went hunting, they went with me.
As a father, it’s natural for us to introduce our children to some of our favorite activities. As they get older, you can only hope that they’ll be interested in becoming more than spectators. And if you’re really lucky, the kids that used to meet you at the door when you came home will eventually grow into your best hunting partners.

-Tim Hovey on being a dad to outdoors-loving daughters. (June)

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A couple years ago I began to take my daughter Riley out to the local lakes to fish. The times we have ventured out have been very warm and the water levels very low, but we have a great time anyway. I love listening to her tell me about the fish she wants to catch and how big it will be.
We have a traditional breakfast of donuts on the tailgate of my wife’s truck, where we talk and laugh. By the time our line hits the water, our faces get covered in powdered sugar and it is wonderful.
I remember the day I bought her a bow with suction-cup-tipped arrows. She was very excited and I, of course, was elated! When I’d shoot with my bow she could shoot hers. It is great to see her emulate me and practice shooting at our pig target. Recently, as she asked me to get her bow out, I realized that she had grown a great deal over the last year and the bow no longer fits her. When I said we would have to go to Bass Pro Shops for a new bow, she actually seemed more excited than me.
Camping in our backyard is a favorite activity. Riley’s little eyes light up every time I ask her if she wants to camp. It reminds me of the days when I used to camp with my dad and the memories that were made. When my dad would ask us if we wanted to go camping, I remember the feeling of excitement knowing we would get to share in something wonderful.

CAMPING WITH MY dad was always fun. We always had an adventure to talk about when we got back to school, but the best part were the laughs and good times we shared. The most memorable camping trip I ever shared with my dad and brother was when I was in my early teens. One of the things I love about my dad is that when we went camping, we did everything ourselves.

-Al Quackenbush on his own memories of being a son and father. (June)

 

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CC When did you finally get comfortable in the water?
VT My biggest obstacle was to be more comfortable in the water. That’s what took me the longest time. After that the more you’re in the water the more you can get close to the fish easier; how to act and how to behave next to them. Then you can learn the best way to hunt them.
It took me a long time; probably two or three years to be able to finally not have to glance back at the boat every two minutes. I no longer had to check to see if the shore was too far away. But when you do something like blue water hunting (diving for fish in the open ocean), you’re 5 or 6 miles away from the shore. There’s no one else around you. Sometimes the water can be 200 meters (about 650 feet) deep under you. So you need to be calm and get used to it. I think the instinct is you’re going to feel like the prey because you think about sharks. So I learned that you have to transform your mind and make yourself into the hunter.

CC Can you share a couple of memorable experiences in the water? You swam with sharks (off Durban, South Africa), which had to be a major adrenaline rush.
VT That was one of the most exciting and fearful moments of my life. First off, we were in the boat and you could see them on top of the water – the dorsal fins would break the surface. The (divers) told me I had to jump in and I said, “Do I? OK, fine.” I waited for my friend to get in the water first, but I did it. When I jumped in there were sharks EVERYWHERE; there had to have been 20 or 30 sharks surrounding us. It was quite interesting. And I couldn’t stop staring. Maybe after about two minutes a shark came really close – almost nose to nose with me. I backed up, which is something you never do because you’re acting like the prey. So they told me to toward them, which is easy to say but a little bit harder to do. Later, I was going back down and wasn’t sure where I was looking. I did a head to head with a shark, and he went one way and I went the other. We both looked at each other and were scared to death. But I don’t think he was as scared as I was. But when I got out of the water I told my friend this was probably the best day of my life.

CC How have you handled the derogatory responses you’ve received through your Instagram and Facebook pages, and from the media coverage that jumped on the train this year? It is just the reality of where we are that you’re treated so much differently than men in your sport?

VT It’s a double-edged sword. In some ways it’s a big advantage to be a woman. Most of the people would have not talked about me and what I was doing if I’d been a man. So I get the attention, even though sometimes it’s been negative and others positive. This has given me publicity and some attention from TV producers to maybe achieve my dream sometime. It really works in my favor. And I would say that 90 percent of the feedback I’ve received has been positive, which is quite surprising. I think a woman who hunts on land, she’s going to get trashed at 95 percent. People seem to have different eyes when it comes to fish.

-Spearfishing globetrotter Valentine Thomas. (September)

 

Dave McCoy 1

CC How great does it feel that you built such a wonderful and popular ski resort at Mammoth after all the hard work you’ve put in?

DM I didn’t do really hard work; I had lots of fun. It feels great looking back after all these years, but we were really just having fun.

CC How much fishing have you done over the years and do you still fish a lot?
DM I don’t fish too much any more these days but I used to tie flies to make money to get to school. I had an extremely great fishing rod when I got down to Independence. It was a Heddon-Life Pal. It was a metal florid that was much better than anything I’ve ever had. It looked like a bamboo rod – slim and trim and very sensitive. It was light and strong and I could cast 33 yards. I used to put tin-can lids out in the driveway in the back of the restaurant I worked in to hone in my casting aim. I used to go out and fish every time I had a chance. The Kearsarge area in the mountains above Independence was my main fishing area at that time.

CC What do you are most looking forward to you as you head towards your 101st birthday next year?
DM I want to do everything I’ve been doing the last few years, but I want to do it better. Some examples would be our electric vehicle conversion of a gas-powered, side-by-side (off highway vehicle). We’ve been working on perfecting this for several years but battery power is always changing and we can always do better. We also want to make sure that – every day – we’re just having fun. Every day – more fun.

-Q&A with Eastern Sierras skiing icon Dave McCoy. (October)

Eastern Sierra lures 1

Most of these baits are made in small batches by passionate anglers who are more interested in making lures that catch fish than they are about making a ton of money by getting them into WalMart. In most cases, they are made by hand in garages, workshops, coffee tables with the TV on and a baby crying in the background; they are typically composed solely premium parts. Sometimes, the idea and specs are given to someone who is in a better position to produce the lures. So while the baits themselves are manufactured offsite, there is something special about them that sets them apart from the competition – be it homemade or off the shelf – and should very much still be included in this category.
These baits are also typically targeted to specific, local bodies of water. Sure, they will work anywhere, but something they all have in common is they are all tested in waters close to where they were made, which is a bit of a no-brainer. But it also means that having these baits is instant local knowledge at the end of your line.
Some find their way into nearby brick-and-mortar shops that know there is a local demand for them, but most of the time they are found on a website, Facebook or Instagram. Many have pro-staff members who hit the water with their baits and shares the photos from each outing on social media. Some aren’t even on an e-commerce site where you can buy them with a couple clicks of a mouse. It’s more of an order-via-email situation, if not a clandestine meeting where cash is exchanged for the goods in an agreed-upon parking lot.

-Mike Stevens on independent lure makers. (November)

Jason Schmidt.

Jason Schmidt.

CC Can you share a memory or two from fishing in California?
JS I have lots of great memories from up there. I once spent a whole summer living on my friend’s ranch in Maple Creek. I would walk down to the upper Mad River and rock hop for miles finding dozens of little honey holes catching beautiful little steelies. Would never see another person out there for days on end. Lots of peaceful moments on that river.

CC What was your career experience fishing in kayak? Was that developed in California?
JS I have been fishing since I was a kid. I grew up with all sorts of small boats. At an early age, my brother got a used touring kayak, which I would use to go dig clams with. Eventually I strapped a piece of PVC to make a rod holder and the rest began to fall in place. Northern California is really where I decided to dedicate my lifestyle to being a waterman. Fishing and surfing on that wild coastline really humbles you quickly. It helped me understand what power is in the North Pacific.

CC Fighting a trophy fish from a kayak in the Pacific Ocean current sounds like part thrilling rush and part terrifying insanity. What is that experience like?
JS Fighting a trophy fish from the kayak is an incredible feeling. It really helps give respect to the beasts we are hunting. The one on one battle is very humbling to feel the strength of the animal and power of the ocean it swims in. It’s a very primal feeling.

CC Is there a sense of freedom when it’s just you, the kayak and this big open water you’re fishing from?
JS Yes it’s that feeling of freedom that drives me the most. I think that’s my biggest draw to kayak fishing. That separation and self-reliance on the ocean wilderness. I find a lot of time to clear my head out there and focus on a task. I now relay it to keep balance in my life.

-A conversation with native Californian Jason Schmidt of the Discovery Channel series, Pacific Warriors. (November)

Pheasant decline 4

We always marked the date on our kitchen calendar back then: middle of November, second Saturday of the month.
The opening day of California’s pheasant season.
It was an exciting time, almost an unofficial holiday in our household. The Ithaca Model 37, 20-gauge pump was my first bird-hunting gun and was in hibernation since dove season. But pheasant season always promised more chances to pull the trigger.
The big day also meant mingling with family and friends; everyone gathered for an early-morning breakfast, the breaking of bread normally spiced by an abundance of good-natured ribbing about who might shoot the day’s first two-bird limit.
We’d load the dogs and our gear and pile into old pickup trucks, the anticipation boiling raucously. Then it was off to the fields to chase the wily, elusive – majestic, even – ring-necked pheasant.
There was more of the same on Thanksgiving Day morning. It was a ritual — this pheasant hunting stuff was a holiday event. Football games and turkey dinner could wait. We hunted corn and asparagus fields in the Delta west of Stockton, irrigated pasture and flooded marshes near Oakdale, gnarly ditches at the base of the Sutter Buttes, and rice fields in the Sacramento Valley.
We’d travel wherever permission allowed us to hunt. And birds were not hard to find.

But, my, how things have changed.

-Brad Hall on the decline of pheasants in California. (December)

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

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 Arctic char. 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.

-Golden State Warriors and Basketball Hall of Fame icon Rick Barry on his love of fly fishing. (December)

 

Here’s to a whole new set of great CS stories for 2016. Have a healthy, safe and prosperous year!

 

 

RMEF Clarifies Role In California Wolf Plan

RMEF_process

Been out of the office for the Christmas holiday so I’m just getting to this release now from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. California’s new wolf depredation plan was released by the CDFW on Dec. 18 after a pack was spied in Siskiyou County last summer. But the report’s connection to the RMEF has been disputed by the Montana-based organization, which released the following to clarify any potential misinformation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wishes to offer clarity regarding reports about California’s new wolf plan. Various media outlets reported that RMEF was part of a collaborative effort with other organizations, including environmental groups, to develop the plan. Such verbiage is misleading and seems to indicate RMEF’s support, approval and advocacy of the plan.

 

“Plain and simple we asked for a seat at the table to speak out on behalf of elk as well as sportsmen and women,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We are extremely concerned about a wolf policy that will cause the same issues that we have seen in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd where wolf reintroduction had a drastic effect on elk herds. We question several elements of the plan itself and are also very concerned about recent comments by some groups that want less hunting so wolves can prey on more elk.”

Excise taxes on firearms, bows and arrows along with dollars spent on hunting licenses and fees fund conservation efforts in California and across the country. Removing hunting opportunity would remove funding that benefits all wild species.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) plans on holding informational public workshops in Yreka, Sacramento and Long Beach about its wolf plan beginning in early 2016.

“We strongly encourage sportsmen and women to let their voices be heard. It is vital that we speak up for the sake of our California elk herds so they can have a sustainable future,” added Allen.

Public comments may be submitted here, via e-mail at wolfplan@wildlife.ca.gov or regular mail at: Wolf Plan Comments, P.O. Box 26750, San Francisco, CA 94126.

The public meetings announcement came shortly before California’s first confirmed gray wolf predation of livestock that occurred last month in Siskiyou County where ranch employees saw five wolves feeding on a dead calf.