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Outdoors: With water level low, speed limit for boats is reduced at Folsom Lake

Baits and attractants: What's legal and illegal
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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At least boaters can say they had a full season to enjoy the water level at Folsom Lake.

Too often, the water level drops enough that essentially everything is shut down before Labor Day weekend.

But it finally happened. The lake level is down to 37 percent of capacity. Rocks normally well under water now are exposed or close to the surface, where it can make boating a tad dangerous if you aren’t watching what’s in front of you. Nothing would be more disconcerting than to be plowing along in the middle of the lake, only to hear a loud crunch. Right now, that’s a reality.

Effective Monday, Nov. 19, a 5-mph speed limit has been imposed on boaters using Folsom Lake.

Because of the lowering water level, it would be a good idea to have a second person on board, a “spotter” in the front of the boat to keep an eye open for obstacles.

Also on the down side, launching at Folsom Lake could provide a problem. If you have a small craft, you can pretty much hand launch anywhere around the lake. Otherwise, the only launch currently available is at Brown’s Ravine. All others, sadly, are high and dry.

 

Use of bait and attractants

 

Hunters understand that the use of bait for any game critter can’t be done. Baits could be a variety of foodstuffs to include grains for birds, apples, smelly garbage for bears, etc.

Few hunters in the state would consider using bait to attract prey within shooting range. In fact, the law states that it’s illegal to be within 400 yards of any baited area. That baited area could be something as simple as a dumpster of garbage, favored by bears.

An attractant could also be something like a protein block, similar to a salt block, which deer often enjoy. A pile of grain is attractive to dove.

But if you go through any outdoor sporting goods catalog, there’s always a large selection of attractants for sale, touted specifically for animals such as deer and bear. Attractants might include a bucket of what is touted as smelling like their favorite food or bottles of doe urine. It might be seed that, when planted, would lure deer in flocks.

What about attractants that might come in an aerosol can? If you spray the substance in the air, it’s legal. However, if you spray the material onto something like a tree that the animal could lick or gnaw on, it’s an illegal substance.

 

Casting nets to catch bait: What’s legal and illegal

 

Minnow traps have been sold for years in California. Bait the trap, tie a rope onto it with a float, drop it into a few feet of water and in a short time, you’ll entice a bunch of minnows to use as bait.

That’s a legal method for taking minnows, so long as the trap is no larger than three feet.

Many sporting goods retail catalogs advertise hand-thrown nets, but are these nets legal? No. The only legal method of capturing your bait is with a minnow trap; or, you can capture them by hand or with a dip net.

 

Current fishing

 

With the current weather pattern and the Thanksgiving holiday, fishing isn’t a high priority. Wind can make fishing difficult. Dress appropriately for the rain, and you can still do well.

Lake Amador: Many three-pound cut-bows are being seen hanging from stringers. Trollers are hammering these homegrown trout fishing the same region as the shore-bound — around the dam and spillway. A threaded crawler behind a dodger has been the ticket for the boater while Power Bait has been favored by the shore angler.

Lake Camanche: Big news. It hasn’t been done since 1996. Kokanee again are going to be introduced into Camanche in 2013. Lake management isn’t saying when or how many, though.

There are still a large number of tagged trout roaming the water. While you won’t get the big-time financial reward that was offered during the derby, you’ll get a free one-night stay at one of the lake’s cabin rental units if you catch a tagged fish between now and Dec. 31.

They’re planting big numbers of trout in the lake and South Shore Pond. None of the tagged trout are in the pond, however. They’re all in the lake. The lake hasn’t turned over, but it’s close. That means the trout aren’t on the surface yet, preferring deeper water and necessitating lead-core line or downriggers, down probably 40 feet. Limits have been common for trollers working around Hat Island and the Causeway. Or, anchor and toss Power Bait or a crawler in about 10 feet of water.

American River: While part of the river is closed to fishing until Jan. 1, the rest of the river, up to the closed area just below Ancil Hoffman Park, is showing decent steelhead catches. More adult steelies are showing up, and there’s a good number of half-pounders to be had. You can let a bait sit on the bottom with a sliding sinker with something like salmon eggs or a chunk of fresh roe, and you can catch these fresh-run trout from the sea. Fly casters are catching steelhead on nymphs, but regular steelhead flies also work. Don’t fly fish? You can get into your share with spin casting eggs, crawlers or roe.

Camp Far West: Welcome to the big mud puddle. The lake is now less than 20 percent of capacity. You can still launch at the North Shore ramp, though. Bassing tends to be decent, and one angler nailed a nice catfish from shore. With the low water level, fish are concentrated.

Contact George deVilbiss at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.