Check stations will change for 2011-12 waterfowl hunt

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It’s hard to think about donning long johns, thick camo and raingear this time of year, when the temperature is back and forth around 100 degrees. And yes, it’s still some months away until the state’s waterfowl season opens.

Right now, anybody hunting waterfowl will have their decoys and heavy clothes stored away. Occasionally, thoughts may drift to when they’ll be hunkered down in blinds or tulles, talking up a storm on the caller, being absolutely thrilled seeing ducks or geese with their feet down coming in for a landing.

Not everybody can afford the many private clubs in the north state, and I fall into that category. Finding any open lands to hunt waterfowl, without paying heavy annual fees, is becoming scarce.

That leaves state or federal wildlife refuges in the north state, such as Gray Lodge, Delevan and Sacramento. In fact, it was at Gray Lodge with my dad where I dropped my first duck in the late 1950s.

If you’ve been to a Type-A Wildlife Area, you need to be informed about changes this hunt year so you can plan in advance.

For example, Type-A areas no longer will sell passes or license items on site. That can be done at the Department of Fish and Game’s License and Revenue Branch in Natomas or on its website.

One-day passes — formerly available only at waterfowl check stations — two-day and season passes and stamps now must be purchased from DFG license agents or through the DFG’s new Automated License Data System before the shoot day.

Daily hunting permits won’t be issued at any Type-A Wildlife Area without proof of a pre-paid one-day, two-day or season pass for the 2011-12 season.

Type-B Wildlife Areas will still require proof of a season pass for issuance of a daily hunting permit.

Current fishing

Fort Bragg:
I recently received an e-mail from my favorite party boat skipper — Pat and Karen Heaviside of the BRAGG-N — about a real lunker of a salmon caught there. The 11-year-old boy wasn’t identified, but the picture I received speaks for itself. The lad landed a 48-pound king salmon. A smaller salmon that was caught and would be revered by any angler looked like a minnow alongside the 48-pounder.

At Fort Bragg, they’re having good days and not-so-good days. That’s the nature of saltwater fishing. But, you’re not going to have any chance of putting a fresh Chinook salmon on the table if you don’t go.

New Melones: It’s a wide-open kokanee salmon bite with many anglers limiting within an hour. The whole boatload will catch fish that quick. Most of the little salmon are hitting 14-16 inches. Hoochies and spinners are doing the attracting.
Just be sure to tip the hook with a couple kernels of white, shoepeg corn.

San Francisco Bay: Live bait trips out of the ports generally tend to be potluck trips. That means they’ll go for anything that will chomp on the hook. Halibut hasn’t been red hot, but they’ll get a few; the striper bite isn’t hot, but they’ll get a couple; and they may head the boat outside the Golden Gate and bottom fish for rock cod. You’ll come home with something.

Keep a close watch on the bay bite. It should be just a couple weeks until the infamous hot striper bite takes off in the suds line around Pacifica, where the action is nothing short of red-hot.

Folsom Lake: The North Fork has been the place to be to find bass. Remember, anglers would appreciate your recognizing the 5-mph speed limit.
Plastics work well, especially around the submerged trees with many bass hitting three pounds. If you hit the main body of the lake, you’ll need to be there really early or late afternoons to avoid the non-fishing, water-recreating traffic.

Delta: It’s that time of year, when the evenings are dictating short sleeves and you should head to the hundreds of miles of waterways that make up the Delta region. Most water is reachable by boat and a large part by vehicle. The main bite right now is catfish, but you can also get into a good topwater bass bite.
Any stinky stuff will attract a kitty fish bite. Just remember, if you’re out early, in the late afternoon or at night, have plenty of mosquito repellant with a high concentration of the ingredient DEET.

Eagle Lake: Limits are the rule, but with the warming weather, you have to get out early. Tim Noxon, a guide on the lake, strongly recommends being in your preferred fishing spot by 5 a.m. Trollers are still doing best on the west side of the lake south of Pelican Point and working south, down to Wildcat Point, hauling your gear in 8-12 feet of water and your downrigger set to 5-6 feet or one to 1½ colors of lead core. Watermelon grubs are doing well, but so will a Sure Catch lure called a Red Dog or a threaded night crawler. If you’re not on the water too early, troll between Shrimp Island and Wildcat Point, where the water can get to 50 feet deep. Set your gear to run 6-20 feet down.

In the same area, but where the water is 10 feet down, you can cut your boat motor, anchor or drift and hang a night crawler under a bobber and do well.

Frenchman Reservoir: Finally, the lake is full. Now that the holiday is over, those who want to basically only fish a lake can do well on ’bows to 16 inches. From shore, Turkey and Crystal Points have been the best areas to set up with eggs, crawlers and Power Bait. Trollers are hauling Needlefish and Sockeye Slammers, down 20 feet.

Jackson Meadows: The Forest Service hasn’t officially opened the lake, but unofficially, some four-wheel-drive rigs plowed through the snow and made it there. No word on how they did fishing. It might be anywhere from two to four weeks before snow melts enough for the lake to officially open, even with the heat.

Contact George deVilbiss at