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Dove hunting season opener takes a dive

Current fishing: Avoid young steelies, seek stripers in American River
By: George deVilbiss
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The first half of dove season began Sept. 1, and hunters have until Sept. 15 to bag the little gray rockets. I was in the field in the southwestern Placer County area before the crack of dawn anticipating the flight of birds from their nightly roosts to feed and water. As with many other hunters in the field, I waited and waited and then waited more for birds. Northern California each year experiences some form of weather break just before Sept. 1. Oftentimes, it takes the form of rain. In the mid 1980s, I awoke to a downpour. I had to convince myself to get up and go hunting. By the time I got into the field, the clouds gave way to blue sky and I had one of my best shoots ever. We had a pretty extreme weather break just before the Sept. 1 opener, and I hoped it wasn’t enough of a break to drive the doves to more favorable southern areas. In fact, the whole summer has been cooler than in many years past. Where I hunted, the evidence was that the birds bailed out. Other hunters in the area left the field with the same number of shells they went in with, not seeing a bird at all or none within range. I should have guessed, too. There generally are many dove nesting in the vicinity of my home. By Sept. 1, birds around the home disappeared for points south. So, while I generally hunt a minimum of two days for the opening, because of the lack of birds, I went opening day and called it quits for the season. The second half of the season runs from Nov. 13-Dec. 27. That late in the year usually isn’t a big deal for hunters in Northern California but is for residents in the desert counties of Southern California. If you’re in the field, waterfowl or upland game hunting, and a flight of dove wings by during the season, you can add birds to your bag. The limit is 10 per day and 20 in possession. Current fishing Bullards Bar: The fire is out, and the roads and campgrounds are open. Trout and kokanee fishing, however, isn’t hot by any means. A few bass are falling prey. American River: There are stripers and juvenile steelhead in the river. I don’t generally say much about the small, juvenile steelies. Let them grow up to be big and real fighters. You can work the lower river for stripers. Now that the holiday is over and boating traffic has decreased, you can do well anchoring just upriver from the Jibboom Street/Interstate 5 bridge. Nighttime will provide some of the best fishing. Cast-retrieve something like a Rebel. Let it work deep, and you can hammer many stripers for as long as you want to fish. Most will be small, shakers to just keepers, but stay at it and you can get some linesides in the teens and perhaps even a 20-pounder. Lake Oroville: The lake is dropping quickly, but hopefully, with most agricultural watering needs on the decrease, the releases will slow. Bass are constantly on the move with the ever-changing water level, and it takes work to get even a half-dozen on a good day. Those being caught are falling to Senkos and Roboworms with the bucketmouths as deep as 35 feet. Go at least 50 feet deep in the main body of the lake, and you can nail silver salmon. While the majority are 16-inchers, there’s an occasional 4-pounder, too. Folsom Lake: The fishing is great, but the catching is slow. With cooler weather on tap and recreational boating traffic on the decline, the bite could easily improve. Watch your scope and find the edges of river channels and rock piles. If you have a GPS, mark the spots to make it easier to find again. No one pattern works so change colors until you find what looks good to the bass that day, but the top honor has gone to darker oranges and browns and those in a light shad pattern. Ocean: Rock cod fishing remains a top bet for the San Francisco Bay and Bodega Bay fleets with sack limits the rule. Go now before weather kicks up the water and stops most of the action. The halibut bite inside the bay has been inconsistent and is winding down. Leopard sharks have been better than halibut at times.