Pheasant hunting options available if clubs aren't open

By: George deVilbiss
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The opening of pheasant hunting season Saturday, Nov. 13, has the potential to be a gangbuster.
Pheasant hunters must be in pretty good condition, as it takes considerable walking to find birds hunkered down and get them to jump. Unlike many past seasons, this year will be a little more difficult walking because of the possible muddy conditions from recent rain.
Finding a bird can be somewhat easier by having a dog. The pup can cover more ground. However, it still means doing a great deal of walking. And while the pup may not pick up mountains of gumbo mud on his paws, you can on your feet.
Many private hunting clubs are expected to be wall to wall with their members, especially opening weekend. Some plant birds to enhance the shooting, while others rely on their members to pursue wild birds.
Not all the rice harvest is in, being further delayed by more storms. Because of that, some clubs have yet to open for duck or pheasant hunting. The fields have been drained, and because of the unharvested rice, there are plenty of areas for pheasants to hunker down.
If you don’t belong to a club or can’t hunt on your club property because the rice hasn’t been harvested, you have options: state or federal wildlife refuges.
Wildlife areas such as Gray Lodge, Delevan and Sacramento, besides being primary waterfowl areas, offer opportunities such as dove, pheasant and limited deer hunting.
In years past, while waterfowl hunting was conducted only on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, other hunting would be conducted seven days a week.
No more.
The Department of Fish and Game, in evaluating the benefit vs. operational costs, figured out it’s not an effective use of available department funding. Therefore, Type-A and Type-B wildlife areas will be in line with the waterfowl hunt days of Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday; Type C will remain open as normal.

Current fishing
American River:
The river has opened to salmon fishing. A fish here and there has been caught, but it’s nothing compared with the hey-day years. You can troll or anchor and let the current work your spinner off a spreader and hope a salmon runs into it. Take different setups. If you tire of waiting for a salmon to bite, switch rigs and go for steelhead, which has been the better bite.
The upper American River is closed to all fishing from the Hazel Avenue Bridge downriver to Ancil Hoffman Park, not to reopen until Jan. 1.
Lake Amador: The anticipated winter trout planting program is under way with good rod-bending action. They raise their Donaldson strain of a hybrid cutthroat rainbow. They grow fast, and some are big, straining rod and line. A few from last winter’s plants made it through the hot summer months and got even bigger. Holdovers more than six pounds have been caught. Fish the dam and spillway areas, and you’ll get bit. You’ll encounter less of a crowd during the week. Float your bait offering under a bobber and adjust the depth until you get bit. Power Bait and eggs will attract a bite. Toss a flashy lure with your second rod.
Lake Camanche: The Mokelumne Fish Hatchery will provide Camanche with 90,000 pounds of sterile, triploid trout this winter. Because they’re sterile and have been slightly genetically modified, they grow like crazy. There were 20,000 pounds of these fish planted in October, and 10,000 pounds will be added to the lake and South Shore Pond each month.
For now, the rod-bending action has been great at the South Shore Pond with easy limits for those soaking Power Bait, a crawler or Power Eggs. Those trolling the main body are tallying fish but having to work to find a limit. The fish are, however, being found in the top 35 feet.
Eagle Lake: It’s chilly at this Lassen County Lake, but it’s the time of year when the bigger fish are cruising near shore. You need to troll no deeper than five feet in 10 feet of water. The water is a little stained, so haul an orange, two-inch grub. The north end is the hot fishing area, especially between Bucks Point and Little Troxxel Point. The Youth Camp and Pelican Point regions are still kicking out trout as well. The average is 2½ pounds, and there are rainbows more than three pounds being netted daily, too.
Port of Sacramento: Several schoolie stripers are roaming these waters, and there’s always the occasional lineside in the teens. Trolling a Rat-L-Trap or minnow imitator such as a Rebel or Rapala, or soaking a jumbo minnow should do well. If you shore fish, suspend a minnow under a bobber and get it out beyond the channel drop-off. If you can get a boat onto Lake Washington’s water, stay away from the docks. It’s now illegal to be anywhere near the docks, and Homeland Security will be all over you with its citation book.
Contact George deVilbiss at