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Key Waterfowl Season Dates, Regulations Released

Photo by CDFW/Lori Deiter

Photo by CDFW/Lori Deiter


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the important dates and regulations for the 2015-16 waterfowl season.

Here are the most important dates to circle on your calendar and regulations to keep in mind:


Duck Seasons

  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 24, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 7, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
  • Northeastern Zone will be open from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 22, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 10, 2015 through Dec. 6, 2015, and from Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 22, 2016.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 16, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 31, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016.

Bag Limits

  • Seven ducks per day, which includes no more than two hen mallards (or Mexican-like ducks in the Colorado River Zone), two pintail, two canvasback, two redheads and three scaup (which may only be taken during the 86-day scaup season).

Geese Seasons

  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 24, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for Late Season white-fronted and white geese from Feb. 13-17, 2016.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for Early Large Canada geese from Oct. 3-7, 2015.
  • Northeastern Zone will be open for dark geese from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016 and for white geese from Nov. 7, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016.
    • Northeastern Zone will also be open for Late Season white geese from Feb. 7, 2016 through Mar. 10, 2016.
    • Northeastern Zone will also be open for Late Season white-fronted geese from Mar. 6-10, 2016.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 16, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016.

Bag Limits

  • 25 total geese per day, which may include 15 white geese.
  • 10 dark geese, including no more than two large Canada geese in the Northeastern Zone, no more than three dark geese in the Southern California Zone and no more than four dark geese in the Colorado River Zone.

All we need now is enough water in the fields to have enough birds for waterfowlers to hunt!


Bobcat Trapping Banned In California

Photo courtesy of USFWS

Photo courtesy of USFWS


With animal cruelty a hot-button topic globally due to the hunting kill of the lion in Zimbabwe, California made headlines when the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to ban bobcat hunting in the state. Incidents involving bobcats at the Joshua Tree National Monument also seemed to influence the vote.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Landowners found bobcat traps set illegally on their property. Their complaints put a spotlight on the practice of trapping, killing and skinning native cats to supply fur markets in China, Russia and Greece, even as other furred animals continue to be trapped commercially in the state.

Under state regulations, trappers must pay $113.75 and pass a test for a license to trap fur-bearing game animals — pine marten, fisher, mink, river otter, gray fox, red fox, kit fox, raccoon, beaver, badger and muskrat — as well as non-game animals including bobcats.

Before approving a statewide ban, the commission rejected a proposal that would have banned trapping around federal and state parks and other protected lands. It would have allowed trapping in designated zones covering about 40% of the state, including much of Southern California. It also would have required trappers to pay an annual validation fee of $1,325 in addition to a $35 shipping tag fee per animal.

But a majority of the commission doubted there were enough bobcat trappers left in the state to cover the costs of regulating their harvests. Estimated costs of administering and enforcing trapping programs across the state range from $212,000 to more than $600,000.
“The 3-2 vote was recognition that the statewide ban was ultimately the most effective way to implement the policy the law represented,” said Assemblyman Richard Hershel Bloom (D-Santa Monica), author of the bobcat act and one of more than 100 public speakers at the commission hearing in Fortuna, Calif.





Wildfire Shuts Down Two Wildlife Areas Around Clear Lake

Above photo of Rocky Fire water drop courtesy of Sgt. Jason Beal of the California National Guard.


The massive Rocky Fire continues to wreak havoc throughout Clear Lake and adjacent counties. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has now ordered two closures in the area:

Knoxville Wildlife Area (CDFW)

Knoxville Wildlife Area (CDFW)


One is the Knoxville Wildlife Area:

From CDFW:

Because of the Rocky Fire in neighboring Lake County, Knoxville Wildlife Area is closed to all public use until further notice to allow safe access for emergency vehicles. The closure affects Knoxville-Berryessa Road north of Pope Canyon Road.

It is unknown when the wildlife area will be safe to reopen.

“We are hopeful that the wildlife area will reopen before the Saturday deer opener, but it’s impossible to say at this time,” said Conrad Jones, a senior environmental scientist at Knoxville. “Safety is our first priority, and we are cooperating with emergency responders who are working hard to get this fire under control.”

Interested members of the public can call (707) 944-5547 for updates on the closure. The message will be revised as more information becomes available.

The public can also monitor the status of the fire atwww.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps.php. Please note that on the webpage, Knoxville-Berryessa Road is referred to as Morgan Valley Road in the road closure section.

Cache Creek Natural Area (BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT)

Cache Creek Natural Area (BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT)


Today. CDFW announced the closure of the Cache Creek Natural Area:

The Cache Creek Natural Area is closed to all public use and access until further notice due to the Rocky Fire burning in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties. This closure affects state lands managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), including the Cache Creek Wildlife Area, and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), including the Cache Creek Wilderness Area within the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Additional closures are in effect at the Knoxville Wildlife Area managed by CDFW and the Knoxville Recreation Area managed by BLM.

Road closures are also in effect. The Highway 20 corridor is closed from Highway 53 to Highway 16, both directions of Ogulin County Road, and Highway 16 is closed from Highway 20 to County Road 41. Jerusalem Valley Road is closed to all traffic at Spruce Grove Road. CAL FIRE is urging motorists to stay vigilant and adhere to frequently changing evacuations and road closures. Due to significant fire activity, it is unknown when the areas will be safe to reopen.

“Safety is our first priority and we are cooperating with emergency responders who are working hard to get this fire under control,” said Garry Kelley, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s North Central Region. “It is highly unlikely that the Cache Creek Natural Area will open before the Saturday deer hunting opener, and not yet determined if it will open before the season closes on Sept. 20.”

Here’s an update on the fire from ABC-7 in San Francisco:

Fire officials massive Rocky Fire in Northern California’s Lake County — which is burning in Lake, Colusa and Yolo counties — has spread to 65,000 acres and is still just 12 percent contained.

And now it’s causing new problems. The Middletown Unified School District is delaying the opening of school and preschool for one week because some schools are being used for evacuation centers and the Red Cross Command Center and more may be put into use. School will now start on Tuesday, August 18.

About 13,000 people have been evacuated and some are hanging out at Middletown High School. And then there are others who refuse to leave.




A NorCal Wolf Sighting?

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

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


Andy Walgamott, our editor-in-chief and poobah for California Sportsman’s sister magazine, Northwest Sportsman, loves all things wolf and blogs about the lupine creatures whenever possible. So I had to tease him when news broke from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about a possible wolf sighting in Siskiyou County, which would be a significant development in the state given that wolves have been all but extinct.

Here’s the release (the photo at the top of the page depicts an overlay of the wolf trail cam photo in question and an added image of a coyote to compare the size of both species; more on that in the ensuing release):

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has collected evidence that suggests at least one wolf has traveled into Siskiyou County.

Based on compelling information received earlier this year from Californians reporting they saw a large, dark-colored canid, CDFW deployed a number of remote trail cameras within southeastern Siskiyou County.



In early June, CDFW biologists came across large canid tracks on a dirt road in a separate, remote location of Siskiyou County, while searching for fawns as part of an ongoing deer study. The tracks were fresh and were from a single animal. Some were within the tire tread marks made from a CDFW vehicle the day before. Assumptions based on the track’s size, linear nature and distance, compelled CDFW staff to place a trail camera to remotely capture images of subsequent animal activity along the roadway.

On July 24, CDFW downloaded a series of images from that camera taken the previous week, revealing a large, dark-colored canid. Although other wildlife species and a few passing vehicles were also photographed, there were no images of domestic dogs or other human activity.

Based on the photographic images and tracks, CDFW biologists believe that this lone animal is a gray wolf. The animal’s tracks are significantly larger than those of a coyote, and a comparison of the images with photos of an adult coyote captured at the same site indicate the animal is significantly larger than a coyote.

Additional remote cameras have been deployed and CDFW wildlife biologists will return to the location in an attempt to find scat for subsequent DNA analysis to conclusively confirm whether or not this animal is a gray wolf. This area of Siskiyou County is comprised of both U.S. Forest Service holdings and private timberland.

Wild wolves historically inhabited California, but were extirpated. Prior to the arrival of the famous wolf OR7 in December 2011, the last confirmed wolf in California was in 1924. This animal is not OR7. OR7 has not been in California for more than a year and is currently the breeding male of the Rogue Pack in southern Oregon. Biologists believe that if the animal photographed on the trail camera is a wolf, then like OR7 in 2011, it is probably an animal that has dispersed from a pack in Oregon. Dispersing wolves generally attempt to join other packs, find a mate and carve out new territories within occupied habitat or form their own pack in unoccupied habitat.

This situation is unique from OR7’s presence in the state, however, because this animal does not have a radio collar. OR7 was collared with a radio and satellite transmitter by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in early 2011. The satellite portion of his collar provided daily information about his location for several years, including the time he spent in California. CDFW does not have the same information about the canid captured on the trail cameras because it does not have a radio collar. To glean additional information about the animal, CDFW must rely on photographic evidence, tracks and hopefully confirmation from scat samples.

CDFW also relies on help from the public to determine if and where wolves may occur in California. The public can report wolf sightings on the CDFW gray wolf website atwww.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In June 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list gray wolves as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. Because of these protections, take is prohibited. The Federal ESA defines “take” as “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.”

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.

Wildfire Threatens Clear Lake





This is a tough one for me to swallow since I’ve spent so many summer vacations at Clear Lake dating back to when I was a little kid. I caught my first-ever catfish from the beach at our friends’ lakefront home in Lakeport. My mom and I took a couple trips there when I was a little older and we stayed at a quaint little motel in the city of Clearlake (years later when I went back to stay in the same area with a buddy the resort and the town had fallen on hard times).

I thought of these memories amid the news that the fast-moving Rocky Fire burning in Lake County had spread and was threatening that same town I spent so much time in: Clearlake.

From CBS News:

The Rocky Fire is the biggest, covering 54,000 acres, an area larger than San Francisco. It has already destroyed two-dozen homes, and upwards of 6,000 more are in danger. …

The fire started five days ago, scorching nearly 85 square miles of land northwest of Sacramento, forcing thousands of people from their homes. It doubled in size over the weekend.

“I couldn’t get back if I wanted to, and with the fire danger, I’m not sure I want to,” one evacuated resident said.

Authorities want to people evacuate early because the fast moving flames can cut off roads in minutes.

Just beyond the containment line, inside which crews work to box in the fire, lies the town of Clearlake, with a population of 15,000.

“If it gets across this line, we’d have to start this whole process over again,” Long Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Ohs said.

With so much ground to cover, crews are battling the flames from above and on the ground. Video from a National Guard Chinook helicopter captured how the military is helping scoop and drop water, and planes are dropping tens of thousands of gallons of fire retardant. 


Best wishes to all the firefighters battling the blaze and to the people in Clearlake and surrounding communities.


New Tuna Regulations In Effect Today



The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s new tuna regulations went into effect as of today (July 30).

Here are details from the CDFW:

The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted changes to recreational tuna regulations. The new regulations are effective as of today, July 30, 2015.

An Atlantic bluefin tuna strikes. Credit: Gilbert Van Ryckevorsel/TAG A Giant
An Atlantic bluefin tuna strikes. Credit: Gilbert Van Ryckevorsel/TAG A Giant

The changes include a statewide two-fish recreational daily bag limit for Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis), which applies to all bluefin tuna possessed in California waters, regardless of where they were taken. Additionally, there are new requirements for filleting sport-caught tuna on vessels south of Point Conception.

Changes to fillet rules for all tuna species south of Point Conception were needed to allow for identification of species by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law enforcement. The regulations now require all filleted tuna to have the skin intact and be cut into six pieces as follows:

  • Four loins (two upper and two lower)
  • Belly fillet including the pelvic fins and urogenital vent
  • Collar with pectoral fins attached

Each fish must be placed in its own bag and clearly labeled with the species name. Tunas may also be kept whole, or in a manner that retains these identifying characteristics.

The new regulations address concerns over the population decline of Pacific bluefin tuna. Based on an international stock assessment, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries declared Pacific bluefin tuna overfished because the spawning biomass is at an historic low. An international rebuilding effort is underway, which requires reducing fishing impacts across the north Pacific. The goal of the effort is to bring the stock back to healthy levels and ensure sustainability of future harvests.

“The two-fish limit strikes a balance,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s program manager for tuna and the department’s representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). “From the fishermen’s perspective, the loss of opportunity going from a 10-fish daily bag limit to a two-fish limit is severe. Yet from a conservation perspective, given the dire status of the stock, allowing two fish per day is expected to generate a 30 percent reduction in the catch, which some view as not enough.”

The new bag limit and fillet requirements were developed through the combined efforts of agencies, scientists, conservation interests, the sport fishing industry and the public.

“We appreciate the hard work that NOAA and CDFW have put into working with the community on the bag limit and fillet regulations,” said Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California. “This is the end result of a complicated and collaborative process that will protect the resource while also ensuring recreational access is maintained.”

Pacific bluefin tuna migrate great distances across the north Pacific throughout their life cycle and are managed under an international treaty with member countries from across the Pacific region. In the United States, federal and state fishery managers implemented catch reductions in accordance with recommendations made by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), with the intention of reducing Pacific bluefin tuna catch by 20 to 45 percent across the north Pacific.

CDFW participated in the development of the policy recommendations as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the IATTC, as well as the development of the new domestic measures for both sport and commercial bluefin tuna fishing through its representatives to the PFMC and the Commission.

For more information about Pacific bluefin tuna recreational fishing regulations, please visit the CDFW Marine Region website atwww.dfg.ca.gov/marine/cpshms/tunas.asp.

Remembering Terry Raahauge



Two years ago, one of the icons of the Raahauge family, Terry Raahauge,  passed  away.  He’ll be honored in Northern California next month. Here’s the release:


Benefit Shoot in Memory of
Terry Raahauge / SATurday August 15, 2015
In Support of the American cancer Society
a Great Tune Up for Dove Season Opening in a few weeks
Terry lost his battle with cancer in 2013. He was a well liked, fair and honest man. His family name is known by hunting and sporting clay enthusiasts all over the State of California.
The cost is $89.00 for registered shooters (includes NSCA fees)
For non registered shooters the cost is $83.00 (Everyone’s Invited!)
Targets will be set by Will Bruce. All sub gauge and preliminary events can be shot on Friday before the shoot
We’ve made a lot of changes to our sporting clay course. Come & enjoy the new look.
100 sporting clays, lunch, games and an “outdoors gear” raffle sponsored by Kittles Outdoor Sports of Colusa.
We will have a delicous “all you can eat” taco bar catered by Pedi
(“Real” Mexican Food)
Rsvp by calling the club @ 530-724-0552 or fill out the attached application and send to Raahauge’s P.O. Box 408 Dunnigan, CA. 95937. Please make checks out to Raahauge’s

Donations for the raffle are welcomed and attached is a tax deductable form you can fill out and send to us if you would like to make a donation of Goods or Cash.


Another Selfie Screwup With A Critter

What part of these guys don't want to be a part of your stupid selfie don't you understand? GARY STOTZ/U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE)

What part of these guys don’t want to be a part of your stupid selfie don’t you understand? GARY STOTZ/U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE)


OK, this taking selfies with animals around – see the buffalo that gored an Instagram-loving tourist in Yellowstone – has gotten a little absurd, especially when you apparently decide it’s cool stupid   to pick one up so you can snap your smartphone.

From ABC-10 in San Diego:

A local man who was nearly killed while trying to take a selfie with a rattlesnake racked up a whopping $150,000 hospital bill.
Doctors depleted the anti-venom stash at two different hospitals to treat Todd Fassler, who as it turns out once had a pet rattlesnake of his own. He sent us video he says shows him setting his snake free.
What a world.

Quest To Change California Fishing License Purchasing Regulations




From the California Sportfishing League:

Today, the California Sportfishing League announced that the California Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 2015 (SB 345) may not advance in the California State Assembly this year, unless a key provision of the legislation is reintroduced.

In June, Senate Bill 345 passed the State Senate by a unanimous vote, but without a key provision that would replace California’s calendar-based fishing license system with one that is valid for a full 12 months from the date of purchase. The provision aimed to provide greater value to one the costliest fishing licenses in the country.

The decision by Senate Appropriations Committee to gut a key provision of the legislation angered anglers concerned with the State’s failure to recognize and provide solutions to an unprecedented decline in fishing participation.  While the legislation enjoyed unprecedented support from associations representing anglers, tourism, small business and local government, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was the lone opponent.


“The fact that California is facing an unprecedented decline in fishing license sales is an ominous sign that anglers find fishing too expensive and less accessible than in years past,” said Marko Mlikotin, CSL’s executive director. “Yet, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to defend the status quo and has failed to engage the angling community in reversing a dangerous trend. Unfortunately, this failure of leadership will undermine the amount of revenue generated from fishing license sales that fund fishery management plans, fish hatcheries and conservation programs. Absent meaningful reform, fishing license sales face a death spiral.”

Sharing this disappointment, SB 345’s author remains committed to advancing meaningful reforms that have been successful in other states, even if it means reintroducing the legislation next year.

“California’s fishing license structure makes no sense and must be updated to include a system that meshes with the seasonal ebbs and flows of California’s fishing industry; which means replacing the calendar year license with a 12-consecutive month license. This point is underscored when we move into the fall and the number of fishing licenses purchased trickles down to nothing; while the fishing remains great in many areas of the state,” said the bill’s author, Senator Tom Berryhill of Twain Hart. “I am committed to working with the Fish and Game Commission, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the legislature to craft a fishing license structure that will bring revenue back to the state and anglers back to the water.  License sales in California have been on a straight decline for 35 years. We cannot let bureaucrats, clinging to an antiquated system, continue to block progress.”




In March of 2015, the California Sportfishing League released a study that concluded that the number of annual fishing license sales has decline over 55% since 1980, and at a rate of over 35,000 a year. The decline threatens critical hatchery and habitat restoration programs funded by fishing license sales, and federal grants that are awarded based by the number of fishing licenses sold.

Senate Bill 345, sponsored by the California Sportfishing League and introduced by Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) and Assembly Member Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals). The legislation is supported by one of the largest and most diverse coalitions, including anglers, business, labor, local government and tourism.  For more information about SB345 and to view a supporter list of over of 25 associations, visit CSL’s website or click here.

Recreational fishing contributes over $4.9 billion in economic activity each year, supporting jobs and communities dependent on it for outdoor recreation and tourism.

The California Sportfishing League (CSL) is a nonprofit coalition of fresh and saltwater anglers, and small business owners devoted to protecting access to recreational fishing.

To learn more visit www.SportfishingConservation.org or @CASportfishing on Twitter.





Collins Lake Summer Bite Is On


Our friends at Collins Lake posted this fishing report:

Although catfish dominated this week, there were trout, bass, and bluegill caught as well.


Keanu Perez

Keanu Perez

Keanu Perez caught his trout off the dock using worms.


Spencer Frank's trout

Spencer Frank’s trout

Spencer Frank landed a 2-pound and a 3-pound. trout using a Rapala lure and trolling near the dam.

Katie Ulrich from Bakersfield caught a huge 4-pound, 4-ounce bass from the dock using a live crawdad!

Brianna Balfour and bluegill

Brianna Balfour and bluegill

Little Brianna Balfour hooked a bunch of bluegill using worms from the dock.  The same worked for Charlie and Dwain; they also used worms to hook their bluegill from the dock.

Troy's monster cat

Troy’s monster cat

Troy from San Jose hooked the biggest catfish this week, a 16-pound, 12-ounce monster!  He was down by the dam fishing near the first buoy and he chose anchovies as bait!

Belle and Joe and a stringer of catfish

Belle and Joe and a stringer of catfish

Joe and Belle hooked a 4-pound, 12-ounce catfish near the bridge from their boat; they used anchovies too.  Kylie from Woodland used blood bait from shore and hooked a nice catfish.

Debra with a Collins cat

Debra with a Collins cat


Debra Erkson fished with worms near the dam and hooked her cat.

The McCaleb sisters

The McCaleb sisters

Makayla and Haley McCaleb from Oroville fished in Elmer’s Cove with worms and a bobber and landed their catfish.  Chad, Charlie and Carson fished in front of their camp and hooked two catfish, their biggest weighed 5 pounds.

 Xavier from Antioch fished with anchovies in Elmer’s Cove and hooked a 5-pound. cat one night and a 6-pound, 4-ouncer another night.

Collins Lake info:

collinslake.com or 1-800-286-0576