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FISHING • HUNTING • TRAVEL CALSPORTSMANMAG.COM

GUNS UP! Waterfowl Season Prospects

EUREKA! NorCal Fish-Hunt-Forage Bounty

ALL HAIL QUAIL! Bumper SoCal Crop Gun Dogs: Quartering Namibia Plains Game Adventure ALSO INSIDE

Feather River Salmon

S.D. Largies, Bay Bass

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At North Star Outfitting we personally guide whitetail deer hunts, mule deer hunts, black bear hunts, moose hunts and waterfowl hunts. When you book a hunt with us you will be accompanied by a professional hunter who is focused on the specific species you are hunting. We know what it takes to make your hunt successful and enjoyable. Our guides were born and raised in this area and know the hunting area and the behaviors and patterns of the animals we hunt. Our waterfowl hunts are either 3 or 4 day. You will enjoy goose hunts & duck hunts along the North Saskatchewan River in eastern Alberta. We are very fortunate that we have the North Saskatchewan River right next to us that holds the waterfowl until freeze up. Even on a dry year we always have the river to keep us in birds! All hunters stay in a lodge with all the amenities of home. We have full cell phone coverage, wireless internet, and satellite TV. In the evenings, we also have plenty of room to socialize while sitting around a bonfire. Call or visit our website for more information!

Book Your Next Hunting Trip In Alberta, Canada CALL NEIL: 780-808-0318 | EMAIL: neil@northstaroutfitting.com

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Sportsman

California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 1 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Dick Openshaw EXECUTIVE EDITOR Andy Walgamott EDITOR Chris Cocoles CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Brittany Boddington LEAD WRITER Tim E. Hovey CONTRIBUTORS Don Black, Mark Fong, Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, Todd Kline, Albert Quackenbush, Bill Schaefer, Mike Stevens SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

Kelly Baker

DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines OFFICE MANAGER/ACCOUNTING Audra Higgins ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Sauro INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn CIRCULATION MANAGER Heidi Belew ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@calsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE Email ccocoles@media-inc.com Twitter @CalSportsMan Facebook.com/californiasportsmanmagazine ON THE COVER Jon Williams and his fellow California waterfowlers are optimistic about the 2017-18 duck and goose campaign, which kicks off this month across the Golden State. (DON BLACK)

MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP CALIFORNIA OFFICE 4517 District Blvd. • Bakersfield, CA 93313 (661) 381-7533 WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com

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CONTENTS

VOLUME 10 • ISSUE 1 (DON BLACK)

FEATURES 25

EUREKA! OUTDOOR BOUNTY DISCOVERED Far away from the hustle and bustle of California’s metropolitan areas, Eureka provides outdoor junkies with a plethora of autumn options to paddle, cast, shoot and forage for your supper. Leave it to Field to Fire scribes Scott and Tiffany Haugen to soak up the atmosphere from a kayak, the beach and the blind to get in some of the North Coast’s best fishing and hunting action.

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A QUAIL TALE Our state bird, the California quail, makes for a perfect fall grilling menu item. The tasty and tender meat from these upland birds always has Tim Hovey ready to grab his gun and hit the road in search of the brushy habitat these birds flock to. If Hovey’s preseason scouting means anything, get the charcoal lit or turn on the gas grill and prepare a fall feast – there are plenty of topknots to be had!

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When the editor headed out on the Feather River to fish for fall king salmon, he wasn’t expecting the kind of combat fishing – both on the shore and in boats – that made for a wild scene just below the fastreleasing waters of the Thermalito Afterbay. The scene was equal parts chaotic and deliciously fun to be a part of.

89

35

ANGLERS ON THE FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER

HEARTLAND BASS RIG ARRIVES IN CALIFORNIA Missouri angler Ned Kehde is credited with developing a simple yet effective set-up that features a mushroom-shaped jig head and a stickbait that bass can’t resist. Our Mark Fong shows how he fishes the Midwest finesse rig to perfection.

’FOWL FAIRING WELL FROM FOUL WEATHER

Don Black and his pup Patty welcomed the heavy rains that pounded the Golden State’s fields and marshes, meaning a much better waterfowl season would be in store as hunting begins in most zones this month. Black previews how the surplus of water that flooded the fields will help (but also somewhat hurt) the bottom line.

DEPARTMENTS 13 17 17 20 67 87 113

The Editor’s Note Protecting Wild California: Hunter shoots deer on Southland residential street Outdoor calendar Adventures of Todd Kline: Big fresh-, saltwater bass catches, trip to Japan Gun dog training: Quartering Rig of the Month: Delta catfish and striper set-up Urban Huntress: Brittany B’s Namibia plains game adventure

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 57 94 99 103 105

Introducing a new hunter to doves Eastern Sierra fishing glory: Fall color explosion San Vicente largies on the prowl Fishing the Tijuana outlet pipe How to choose the best riflescope

CALIFORNIA SPORTSMAN GOES DIGITAL! Read California Sportsman on your desktop or mobile device. Only $1.89 an issue. Go to www.calsportsmanmag.com/digital California Sportsman is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Send address changes to California Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $39.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues are available at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2016 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

10 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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THEEDITOR’SNOTE

S

ecretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke sparked controversy this summer when during an evaluation of the country’s protected national monuments he determined downsizing some of them was the best course of action. What? During a time when the political climate is so polarized, spawning tension and division – a fact you can’t disagree with whether you lean left or right or are like me, closer to the middle – Zinke’s announcement wasn’t exactly embraced by conservationists and outdoor lovers alike. But other recent events show the secretary looking out for sportsmen and -women. A CNN headline from September read, “Hunting is down in the U.S. The Trump administration wants to change that.” In the story, it was reported that despite a reported drop in the number of hunters between 2011 and 2016, “the new administration is poised to change that,” suggesting that supporting the idea of getting outdoors, getting closer to nature and supporting eating from what you hunt or fish is a positive. (And how many Americans will say they despise hunting but have no pangs ordering an In-N-Out Double-Double or sifting through T-bones in the Safeway or Ralph’s meat department?) I’ll be honest, I’m skeptical about anything going on in Washington D.C., but Zinke, who has declared October “National Hunting and Fishing Month,” makes me want to believe in at least one member of the president’s cabinet.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (center) is sending hunters and anglers mixed signals with recent moves such as recommending downsizing some national monuments but also directing federal agencies under his purview to figure out how to increase fishing and hunting ops. (DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR) “I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish,” Zinke said in a statement proclaiming this month’s hunting and fishing salute. “That’s something I want more families to experience, which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important ... Formally recognizing the contributions of hunters and anglers to wildlife and habitat conservation is long overdue.” Enjoy National Hunting and Fishing Month, and keep a sharp eye out for efforts to weaken habitat protections. -Chris Cocoles

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DESTINATION ALASKA

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DESTINATION ALASKA

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YOUNG DEER SHOT ON RESIDENTIAL STREET By Chris Cocoles

C

alifornia has a lot of people – 39 million and change – so the state’s wildlife residents often find themselves sharing suburbia with the bedroom communities that surround the biggest cities. Take Monrovia, just another of the endless Southern California cities that line the Los Angeles corridor heading out to the Inland Empire. Located just off the Foothill (210) Freeway, Monrovia borders the vast and fauna-filled San Gabriel Mountains. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when a deer is spotted in a subdivision there. But when a hunter gets caught on tape firing an arrow into an animal running on

pavement, and close enough for a home’s camera to get a clear look at both, it’s not going to be accepted very well. Last month, a home surveillance camera caught footage of a youngish male deer running through a city street. Just off to the side in the woods, a man is shown loosing an arrow and striking the buck, which then (off camera), left behind a trail of blood before it died. The man who killed the deer, Michael Rodriguez, came forward and was legally hunting in the nearby forested area that’s a part of Zone D-11. Rodriguez said he’d hit the deer earlier and was trying to humanely put down the animal with another bow. “I wasn’t up there looking to shoot

PROTECTING

WILD CALIFORNIA

an animal in a (residential) area,” he told Los Angeles TV station KCAL. “I was following up a wounded animal and trying to take him out so he wouldn’t be suffering anymore.” That’s all well and good if true, but it’s downright dangerous for anyone to be shooting a bow next to homes, given that joggers, dog walkers or kids are potentially in the path of an arrow. Hunting that close to civilization doesn’t seem like a good idea as well. The Monrovia Police Department released a statement proclaiming it’s illegal to shoot wildlife within city limits, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was investigating the incident at press time. CS

OUTDOOR CALENDAR OCTOBER 7

Duck, scaup and goose season opener in Northeastern Zone 7 Deer season opener in most Zone X areas 11 Deer season opener for Zones D-11, D-13, D-14 and D-15 14-15 Shasta Lake Trout Derby; shastalaketroutderby.com 21 Duck and goose season opener in San Joaquin, Southern California and Balance of State Zones 21 Deer season opener in Zone X-9C 21 Quail season opener in Q-1 and Q-3 Zones 21 Chukar statewide season opener 21 Snipe statewide season opener 27-29 Morrison’s Bonus Derby Weekend, Convict Lake; visitmammoth.com/events/morrisons-bonusderby-weekend

NOVEMBER 4 4 4-5 5

First Imperial County white goose opener Tentative Dungeness crab opener Collins Lake Tournament of Champions; http:// anglerspress.com/angler-s-press-events/anglerspress-norcal-trout-challenge.html Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Colorado River and Balance of State Zones scaup openers

California’s goose seasons open this month, including for snows starting Oct. 21 in the Balance of State, San Joaquin and Southern California zones. (CALIFORNIA WILDLIFE CONSERVATION BOARD)

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First North Coast Canada goose opener Northeastern California antlerless elk season Stanislaus River Salmon Festival; facebook.com/SRSFest 11 Statewide pheasant opener 11 Fall wild turkey opener 11 Second dove opener 15 Last day of Ambush at the Lake Derby, Convict Lake; monocounty.org/event/ambush-at-the-lake/6479/ 21-29 Fort Hunter Liggett archery-only antlerless elk season

Notes: A list of upcoming bass tournaments can also be found at nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishingContests/default.aspx. For deer hunting zone information, go to nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122314&inline. calsportsmanmag.com | OCTOBER 2017 California Sportsman

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s e r u t n e v Ad We’re not ashamed to admit it: Todd Kline has the kind of life we wish we could experience. Kline’s a former professional surfer, a successful co-angler on the FLW Tour and a Southern California bass guide, plus he gets to travel the world as a commentator for the World Surf League’s telecasts. Todd has agreed to give us a peek at what he’s up to each month. For more on Todd or to book a guided fishing trip with him, check out toddkline.com, and you can follow him on Instagram at @toddokrine. –The Editor

I traveled back to Japan for the VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. There was a traditional Japanese openingceremony dance. (TODD KLINE) Dylan and I also got to attend the Dolphins-Chargers game in Los Angeles. We had a blast on the field during the pregame festivities, and the Dolphins - I’m from south Florida - won the game! (TODD KLINE)

My friend Ty Ponder took my son Dylan and I fishing on San Diego’s Mission Bay. Dylan caught a couple nice spotted bay bass. (TODD KLINE)


Toward the tail end of September, temps seemed to cool off and fall began to creep in. With that, fishing is improving and I am getting out more; guide trips are also increasing. (TODD KLINE)

A client, Taylor Massey, with some solid bass. What’s even better is that he caught all of these fish on the Savage Gear Frog. (TODD KLINE)

Another client with a pig caught while drop-shotting a 6-inch Margarita Mutilator-colored Roboworm at Diamond Valley Lake. (TODD KLINE)


22 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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Josh Murauskas’s picture of daughter Julia and her Washington walleye is this issue’s Fishing Photo Contest winner! It wins him a pile of loot from the overstuffed office of our editor!

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Jeremy Sitton’s photo of son Jeremiah and his Northwest Washington muzzleloader trophy bull elk is this issue’s Browning Photo Contest winner. It wins him a Browning hat.

For your shot at winning Browning and fishing products, send your photos and pertinent (who, what, when, where) details to ccocoles@ media-inc.com, or to California Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124-0365. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for our print or internet publications. calsportsmanmag.com | OCTOBER 2017 California Sportsman

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TILLAMOOK COAST FIND YOUR DREAM OREGON COASTAL HIKE

A new guidebook, 25 Hikes on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, details hikes in forests, along bays, headlands and the Pacific Ocean. Oregon’s Tillamook Coast is an outdoors wonderland located about 73 miles west of Portland. And the book, written by Adam Sawyer, is a pocket-sized, easy-to-read guide that provides hiking recommendations throughout the north Oregon coast’s Tillamook County. The book details hikes ranging from family-friendly and easy to difficult, and it describes fees and regulations, such as whether pets are allowed. Hikes from the northern part of the county, such as the Neahkahnie Mountain hike, to the southern Cape Lookout State Park hike are all included. Author Sawyer has written several hiking guidebooks published by Falcon Guides, including Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon and Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland. Sawyer also writes articles for regional and national magazines, and authors hiking and outdoor adventure blogs for the Visit Tillamook Coast website (tillamookcoast.com/author/adam-s). “Volunteers at the visitor centers said the most requested information is where to go hiking, yet there wasn’t a single guide that focused on hikes in Tillamook County,” said Nan Devlin, tourism director for Visit Tillamook Coast. “We decided to self-publish a guidebook to meet the need.” The Tillamook Coast is one of Oregon’s natural wonders. Picturesque bays, inland waterways, forests, farmlands, rivers and ocean beaches offer visitors a wide range of nature-based activities from kayaking, fishing and hunting to beachcombing and rockhounding. Fresh seafood is abundant, as is world-famous cheese and award-winning beer. The Tillamook Coast’s villages, from Manzanita to Neskowin, each have their own unique heritage, personality and charm.

For more information and to plan your getaway, visit tillamookcoast.com The 90-page book is sold for $9.99 plus $2.00 shipping and handling at tillamookcoast.com/books

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NORCAL

FROM FIELD ...

FIND YOUR OWN EUREKA MOMENT

A kayak is a very effective way to fish the nearshore waters of Humboldt County. This was the author’s first time fishing from one and he loved it, especially when this colorful lingcod hit. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

EVERYTHING FROM KAYAK FISHING TO GOOSE HUNTING CAN MAKE FOR A GREAT ADVENTURE IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY, ON CALIFORNIA'S NORTH COAST By Scott Haugen

O

ctober is here, and perhaps no other month offers the amount of fishing and hunting opportunities there are to be had in California than this time of year. Whether it’s in the mountains chasing big game or upland birds, on the marsh pursuing waterfowl, or on the rivers, lakes and oceans wetting a line, there’s something for everyone to do this month. Recently, my family and our dogs loaded into the truck and headed to Humboldt County to get a taste of

what this outdoor mecca has to offer. We left tired, fulfilled, educated and knowing we’d return soon. “People don’t really understand all there is to do right here, in this one area,” says Aaron Ostrom, general manager of Pacific Outfitters (pacificoutfitters.com; 707-496-1662). Before I knew it, he had a week planned for us, which still wasn’t enough time to fit everything in.

KAYAK FISHING Fishing from a kayak was first for my wife Tiffany and myself. We wanted to learn how to do it right, and

Ostrom and his team of seasoned guides, along with other members of their newly formed Lost Coast Kayak Anglers club, took the lead. Before deciding if we wanted to invest in any kayak fishing gear, we needed to learn more about it, and these were just the folks to help us out. We fished out of Trinity, in Hobie pedal-powered kayaks. Right away I latched into a nice lingcod and Tiffany soon followed with a pair of rockfish. The fishing was great for the three hours we were on the water, but the adventure of it all was exceptional.

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NORCAL

... TO FIRE

HUMBOLDT COUNTY: FISHER-GATHERER'S PARADISE By Tiffany Haugen

I

t’s easy to derive sustenance from the waters and forests of Northern California. On a recent field-and-sea-to-table adventure, my family was able to catch perch right from the beach outside of Eureka and forage the forest for chanterelles and wood sorrel. Our bounty came together quickly with this fresh, healthy dinner we all enjoyed. We called it almond-coated perch with chanterelles and wood sorrel. 1 pound perch fillets ¾ cup ground almonds 2 teaspoons dried mushroom powder One egg 1 tablespoon water 1 cup thinly sliced chanterelles ½ cup chopped wood sorrel or spinach 1 tablespoon butter Olive or coconut oil Salt and pepper to taste

Pat dry perch fillets with paper towels and lightly salt and pepper each side. In a small bowl, mix almonds and mushroom powder. Sprinkle mixture on a medium-sized plate. In a shallow dish, beat egg with water, and grease a baking sheet with a thin layer of olive or coconut oil. Coat perch fillets one at a time by dipping into egg mixture then pressing into almond mixture, coating each side. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 10 to 13 minutes or until fillets reach desired doneness. While fillets are baking, sweat mushrooms in a dry sauté pan on medium-high heat until liquid is released and begins to evaporate. Add butter and wood sorrel (or spinach) and remove from heat or keep warm over low heat. Serve fish right from the oven topped with mushroom mixture. Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany Haugen’s popular cookbook, Cooking

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The areas off and along the Humboldt County coast are full of fresh ingredients like perch from the surf and chanterelles and wood sorrel from the forests. Tiffany Haugen created a tasty fish dish from the region’s bounty. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

Seafood, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen. com. Follow Tiffany on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and watch for her on the online series Cook With Cabela’s, as well as The Sporting Chef TV show.


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Surf perch fishing is simple and fun, and the species is excellent on the table. Tiffany Haugen hoists her first redtail of the morning, a dandy 16-incher. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

Being at water level catching fish, watching porpoises, birds and other sea life, was worth the price of admission on its own. “This is my favorite way to fish,” confirmed Tiffany, as we pedaled back to shore. “It was so peaceful, so quiet. No motors, no gas fumes, no boats around us, and a great leg and core workout; I want to do this again, soon.” We jigged rubber grubs for lings, with two flies tied above the grub for rockfish. We got a nice greenling, too. The set-up is simple, and the fact

that one person can handle a kayak makes it easy to access areas boats can’t. We look forward to repeating this adventure, and Ostrom confirms that the kayak fishing is good yearround in this scenic part of the state.

SURFPERCH ACTION If you’ve never fished for redtail perch, it’s a must-do species. “The perch are here year-round,” says John Corbett, longtime guide for Pacific Outfitters. “The great thing is, you can fish them in the bay or in the open ocean.” We chose the ocean coast, and

A COMFORTABLE HOME BASE During our time in Eureka we stayed at the Red Lion Hotel (redlion.com/eureka). Not only is it the perfect location for all we did, but it’s within walking distance of some great restaurants. The rooms there are comfortable, dog-friendly and quiet. The staff is excellent and their extra facilities are very nice. When we return to the area, this is where we’ll stay. 28 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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NORCAL fishing with a simple middleweight spinning rod and a pole holder to stick in the sand is all it takes. Corbett made our pole holders from 4 feet of 2-inch PVC pipe. After cutting one end at a 45-degree angle, it easily slid into the sand and became the perfect pole holder. We used a 3-ounce sand claw sinker, and above that two 1/0 hooks tipped with sand crabs that our dog dug for us. And we caught fish right away. It didn’t take long to get limits of these tasty fish, and when you get a stringer of 14- to 16-inch perch, the meat quickly accumulates. We fished a sandy spot on the beach where there was an evident depression on an incoming tide. It was perfect and so easy to do.

The author and his dog Echo had a great hunt for Aleutian cacklers last season with Pacific Outfitters near Eureka. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

HALIBUT AND CRAB COMBO While Tiffany went on some beautiful trail hikes one day, my son Kazden and I headed out onto the bay

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with Corbett. We baited four crab pots on the dock and dropped those on the way to halibut fishing. After we hit the incoming tide, we soon trolled lightweight gear for California halibut in 3 to 8 feet of water in Humboldt Bay. With a set-up of a couple ounces of lead and anchovies on a double hook, the action was fast-paced and fun. We landed over 20 halibut that morning, weeding out the smaller ones as we tried to fill our three-fish-per-person limits. “July and August are the best months for California halibut inside the bay, but we’ll catch them here through mid-October,” Corbett says. It felt like fishing in a lake and proved to be a totally different experience than heading to the open sea for Pacific halibut. On our way back to the dock we pulled the crab pots. Kazden and I each got our limit of Dungeness, and they were delicious.

FOR THE BIRDS Pacific Outfitters also offers some of the best goose hunting in the West. In early November they target black brant in the bay and move inland for Aleutian cackling geese. Corbett has been hunting this area for over 40 years and knows many private lands where the Aleutians congregate. He also has an impressive spread of decoys that works wonders on these geese, and with a 10bird limit, there’s no shortage of action on this hunt. The limit on prized Pacific brant is two, and Corbett’s success is very high on these birds. On our way home we stopped along the coastal highway and gathered mushrooms. We spent some time gazing at the magnificent redwoods – which we never tire of – and even played disc golf among the towering trees on the campus of Humboldt State University. We loved it all and can’t wait to go back, as it feels like we just scratched the surface of what this wonderful place has to offer. CS Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is a full-time outdoor writer, speaker and author of many books. Learn more at scotthaugen.com. 32 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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NORCAL Author Don Black and Patty after a successful hunt on the Sacramento River. Black is one of many Golden State waterfowlers wondering how a very wet rainy season will improve the state’s hunts this fall and winter. (DON BLACK)

AFTER DESPAIR, SOME OPTIMISM WITH A WET SEASON IN THE BOOKS AFTER YEARS OF DROUGHT, WHAT DOES THIS WATERFOWL SEASON LOOK LIKE? By Don Black

N

ormal no longer is a meaningful word when discussing California’s weather patterns. 2016’s winter rainfall and

snow accumulations and 2017’s spring kept on delivering unprecedented precipitation. Even those who welcomed the drought-reducing relief began to mutter in May 2017, “I’ve had enough of this rain. When will it stop?” It did

stop. Then began record heat waves and more devastating fires. Perhaps few Californians keep a more concerned ear and eye to the weather reports and rumors than waterfowlers. Ducks need and thrive on water, and common sense says it should logically follow, then, that more water means improved hunting conditions. The closer we get to the upcoming waterfowl season, the logical prop-

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NORCAL

California had its wettest season in 122 years, and while there is some concern about too much water, more water was clearly needed to help Northern California and Central Valley fields. (DON BLACK)

osition above is proving a troubling non sequitur. Records show that good hunting conditions and high bird counts don’t necessarily equate to elevated harvest. The wet bounty wears a two-faced mask. One side of the face smiles on the hunter. The details that are known point to increased opportunities afield. During the drought years many waterfowlers were left literally high and dry. Local wildlife refuges lacked water for flooding habitat, thereby limiting hunter access. Private clubs saw limited or no water distributions. Hunters were forced to sit out seasons or hunt dry fields. Lacking water allocations, thousands of essential acres of habitat lay fallow. An absence of storms stalled migrations from the north. Resilient and resourceful waterfowlers took advantage of generous limits with plentiful goose numbers and found good shooting over cargo-trailer loads worth of dekes set in massive

spreads, as do our Northern, Midwestern and Canadian compatriots.

TOO MUCH WATER? Another side of the face frowns on many of those same hunters who lost opportunities to get out into their blinds because of drought in years past. They found themselves flooded out of blinds and refuge gates locked during nearly the entire final month of the 2016-17 season. When the Sacramento Valley became a vast lake in January, many of those fortunate to have access to their normal hunting areas discovered perfect hunting conditions but empty skies; the birds had moved into flooded regions where only those with specialized equipment experienced pick-and-choose shooting. While it’s unlikely even the experts can forecast what to expect for weather during the 2017-2018 waterfowl season, certainly there will be plenty of water for clubs, refuges,

private landowners and the freelance hunter to enjoy their pursuits. Still, this moist certainty has its downside. Yes, there is water where it should be expected, but it is also in places that have been dry for years. Despite detractors of our sport accusing us of killing dumb animals, ducks and geese have a survival acuity that leads them to wet safe havens. Leave it to the critters to find and take advantage of these sanctuaries. Remember that even during the drought it was common to hear hunters complain of the legislated flooding of harvested fields to decompose straw rather than burning it, as was the long-standing custom. Our feathered quarries jumped nightly from decomposing watery asylum to asylum until either disturbed by weather or having fed out their habitat. Other challenges to hunting waterfowl in California have and will continue to alter migration patterns, which led to the phenomenon of blind jumping, where hunters attempt positioning themselves under migrating and wintering flights. A hunter who spent any time exploring the northern half of the state and the Central Valley this spring and summer should have noticed a few things. First, due to the late rains farmers were unable to plant/prep their fields as early as normal. Those who got a late start will likely experience a later-than-usual harvest. Recent hot weather may accelerate crop maturity, but conditions may well force delays to flooding

LOWER PINTAIL LIMIT IRKS HUNTERS Pintail. Sprig. Northern Pintail. Chocolate heads. Their grace, beauty, deliciousness and ubiquity here in California make them arguably our most prized duck. Sadly, our limits have been halved. Many a California hunter in days long past strung seven on his strap and exited the field completely satisfied, if not proud, and looking forward to fine feasting. For the past few years with two-bird limits, hunters accepted the limitations, feeling motivated and that it was worthwhile to trek to their spot with nothing more than the prospect of bagging those two sprig and being happy with it. 36 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

Nationwide pintail numbers remain below long-term averages with no conclusive evidence to explain why. Wisdom retreats into caution when such conditions exist. So despite reasoned arguments of protest from California Waterfowl, Delta Waterfowl and California’s hunters that hunter harvest should not be targeted for the decline – especially here in California, where sightings of pintail on most days exceed that of all other ducks – we get one. What impact the single pintail limit will have on hunter participation and satisfaction will play out from October to January as the season progresses. DB


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fields for hunting and opening refuges. Because of early-spring wet conditions, an estimated 20 percent of fields were left fallow by farmers who reasoned there was not enough growing season left to plant and harvest a profitable crop. They took their subsidies or crop insurance, and some planted a cover crop that experienced hunters believe provide as good or better waterfowling, particularly if the cover crop has smartweed.

SHRINKING HABITAT CONCERNS There are a lot of orchards, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and olives where there used to be rice and other habitat for waterfowl. This trend will likely continue unabated, with an inevitable loss of waterfowl haunts and alteration of flight patterns. Take a look at your local hunting regulations that cover the use of department lands. You’ll find a lengthy list of places for birds to frequent. While these lands increase hunter opportunity and bird populations,

The author’s dogs Shyra, Patty and Miss T have enjoyed past strong seasons. Optimism abounds for 2017-18. (DON BLACK)

they also mean a greater distribution of our feathered friends. Also take note, albeit with a certain degree of jealousy, at the private holdings of wealthy individuals who have acquired and groomed many waterfowl havens for their own enjoyment. Perhaps average hunters should be grateful for the conserva-

38 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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NORCAL tion efforts and expense, for certainly these lands help propagate more waterfowl and keep them healthy; yet locals are reluctant to vacate premises so much to their predilection. On any given day during the season, when your hunting is unproductive and you’re speculating that there are no birds around, take

a little drive past off-limit fields and private holdings, or tour a closed refuge zone if allowed. You’ll likely be stunned by the number of birds milling about and loafing. Those crafty creatures will tip up their butts to you and grasp a morsel from the bottom, the waterfowl world’s version of showing you a middle finger. Envy doesn’t move birds, but weather will.

MALLARD NUMBERS IN QUESTION Preseason surveys found that California mallard duck production was down in the 20-percent range this year. These counts are conducted by flying and counting traditional transects. Many speculate that the surveyors may have overlooked populations residing in nontraditional areas where good nesting conditions existed owing to wet conditions that had not prevailed during drought years. Those who spend hours in their fields tending crops tell of observing as many or

more mallards than usual, which, if accurate, is good news. Mallards, particularly greenheads on the strap, definitely add esteem and satisfaction in the day’s outing for those fortunate to connect with them. However, most California hunters’ straps bear the green of teal, shovelers, and wigeon. These species comprise the largest percentages of the harvest on hunt areas, with only a few exceptions where mallards dominate, but the take is inevitably smaller. The “other greens,” by all estimates, will be plentiful. DB

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HOPING FOR BETTER DAYS California’s waterfowl hunters have reason for optimism with the numbers forecast for 2017-2018 reported by conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl and Delta Waterfowl. With few exceptions, duck populations exceed the long-term averages, while geese are so plentiful you may need a wheelbarrow to cart your limits out of the field. An allowed limit of geese alone will come close to weighing as much as a small coastal blacktail buck. Once again California has adopted the longest allowable season under federal guidelines, as limits are again liberal. Additionally, Golden State hunters will have bonus early-season honker and late-season speck and snow geese hunts. Time and opportunity are greater here than in other states and flyways. We got the good with the bad with last season’s precious precipita-


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NORCAL tion. It’s the remarkable attribute of dedicated waterfowl hunters to stay optimistic and motivated, concentrating on the smiling rather than the frowning face of events. If the enthusiasm of hunters who attended the annual state duck and goose calling contest and the kickoff sale to the upcoming 2017-2018 waterfowl season, hosted by Kittle’s Outdoor and Sport in Colusa in late August, indicates anything, optimism is high in the Golden State’s duck hunting country. Whatever harbingers they consult and choose to believe, California’s waterfowlers are likely to be cleaning shotguns, rigging decoys, counting and stockpiling ammo, exercising retrieving hounds, adding to their newest duck-attracting gadgets, and tuning the calls. It’s a nice change from allowing pessimism to intrude and cloud their anticipated pleasures in the marshes. CS

For hunters like Jon Williams, the drought conditions that plagued the state have been replaced by plentiful areas of improving duck and geese habitat, giving everyone high hopes as the seasons get going this month. (DON BLACK)

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HUNTING

THE BIRDS ARE BACK! LAST WINTER’S RAINS IMPROVED HABITAT AND SHOULD INCREASE QUAIL NUMBERS FOR SOCAL HUNTERS THIS SEASON By Tim E. Hovey

T

he sun peaked over the mountains and lit up the desert floor. We had opted to sleep in the truck and poke around for fishing spots along the Owens River in the morning. With no real agenda, Rito Escamilla and I decided to head into Bishop for breakfast first, but our plans would change before we even got to town. On the way out a covey of 40 quail raced across the road in front of us. Rito quickly pulled over and we grabbed the shotguns we always carry with us during our trips. We spread out and walked the field where the birds had escaped. For the next 30 minutes we dropped singles, and I had five birds in the bag by the time we returned to the truck. That hunt occurred later in 2016, and those birds represented the first quail I had bagged in over five years.

Author Tim Hovey (top right) and Jose De Orta with quail limits, taken without the assistance of a dog. Hovey’s preseason scouting showed more lush vegetation and more birds for hunts that get cranking this month. (TIM E. HOVEY)

MORE WATER, MORE QUAIL The drought that gripped California heavily impacted quail numbers in calsportsmanmag.com | OCTOBER 2017 California Sportsman

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HUNTING the southern portion of the state. Our regular scouting trips showed that the birds were mostly absent in most of the areas we hunt. Hunting closer to perennial water like the Owens River, Rito and I had gotten lucky. Small pockets of birds were still available to upland hunters willing to look. Despite bringing home half a limit for the grill, I knew that in most of the areas I hunted closer to home near Los Angeles, quail were still hard to find. At the end of January 2017, most of Southern California received an amazing amount of much-needed rain. Reservoirs close to drying up filled to near capacity. Creeks and streams that had remained dry and waterless over a five-year period once again began to flow. As California soaked up every drop, Gov. Jerry Brown lifted the drought emergency declaration over most of the state in April, ending an alert that had been in place for over three years. Thanks to those late-winter rains, the parched terrain I usually hiked to hunt upland birds came to life. The dead vegetation and dusty earth was replaced with rich habitat that remained green and lush well into summer. I knew what the influx of water meant for all species of game, including quail. I also knew that this quail season was going to be far more

A quail call sounds a little like “Chi-ca-go.” Mimicking this sound with a reed call will often force the dominant birds to challenge you, giving away the position of a covey. (TIM E. HOVEY)

Classic quail habitat usually consists of brush that the birds can use as cover, given that they’re preyed upon by just about every predator in their world. (TIM E. HOVEY)

productive than the previous five. I was really looking forward to scouting some of our regular quail spots.

SEARCHING FOR BIRDS Back in August, as most of California braced for an intense heat wave, I headed out to do some preseason scouting for quail with some friends. The plan was to chase cottontails in the morning and then poke around some of our old spots to see how this year’s quail stock looked. As my longtime hunting partner Jose De Orta and I drove through the hunting area for the first time this year, we were shocked. The terrain had changed dramatically, with much of the vegetation still green and lush. Cottontail rabbits dashed across the road and the parched landscape, where nothing had grown or moved during the extensive drought, now teamed with all forms of life. With a few rabbits in the cooler, we anxiously made our way to our quail spots. We pulled off near a dry drainage and examined the ground near the road. Quail tracks and droppings were everywhere. A little bit further down the road we kicked up our first covey. They flushed close to

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the truck and glided ahead, disappearing into thick cover. At the end of the road we got out and started hiking up the canyon, with birds everywhere. Jose hiked a different drainage and disappeared. I kicked through the narrow canyon and watched quail flush at my feet every few yards. The sentinel calls echoed down the valley, the constant puttering of retreating quail making me smile. We estimated that we saw at least 2,000 quail during that scouting trip. On the way out, Jose was constantly hitting my arm and pointing to a distant flush or singles escaping into the brush. Before we were out on the main road, we made plans to camp in the canyon the day before the quail opener.

WHAT I LOOK FOR Quail usually occupy specialized habitat, and preseason scouting will give you a better idea of their activity in a given area. However, understanding what type of terrain they prefer will cut down the learning curve and put you in the mix. Quail habitat consists of brush that the birds can use as cover. Quail


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HUNTING

The author (left) and Jason Price after a good day in quail country. (TIM E. HOVEY)

50 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

are preyed upon by just about every predator in their world. They require plenty of cover to escape detection – and the thicker the better. If these areas are close to a reliable water source and diverse forage, coveys will concentrate there. They can also be abundant in areas known as “edge” habitats, open areas near prime habitat. Quail use these areas to forage while staying close to heavy cover and escape. Dirt roads, open meadows and dry drainages are frequent spots for quail to forage. If these flat, open areas are directly adjacent to good cover, quail will use them. Quail like to dust themselves in fine dirt to combat parasites. Look for tracks in these areas to indicate quail presence. I’ve often found groups near these dusting areas in the middle of the day. In the early mornings, quail will be leaving their evening roosts and can be located using a quail call.


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HUNTING

A smiling Jose De Orta knows that a small cooler of quail means a feast on the grill or in the frying pan, a perfect fall party following an outing of upland bird hunting in California. (TIM E. HOVEY)

THAT’S THE ‘CHI-CA-GO’ WAY Once I settle on a place to hunt, I like to use a simple reed call to locate birds early in the season. Quail are very vocal, which hunters can use to their advantage. Males will usually find a high spot and start their characteristic “Chi-ca-go, Chi-ca-go” call early in the morning to demonstrate their dominance or to get birds that have been scattered back together.

Mimicking this sound with the reed call will often force the dominant birds to challenge your call, giving away the position of a covey. Later in the season, they seem less likely to answer a reed call. However, their morning ritual of gathering their coveys won’t change; calling males can still be located as the season progresses. Quail are chubby birds that usu-

ally fly in a straight line only a few feet above the ground. When given a choice, they’ll fly and glide downhill, so pay attention to where the birds land once they flush. They’ll often hunker down once they’ve landed and can be pursued further.

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simply sit tight. If they can, they’ll literally hit the ground running and often escape into thick cover. Mark where birds drop and search for them as soon as you can. If you’re hunting with other hunters, discuss a game plan prior to the hunt so everyone stays safe. Work the area in the same direction and try to stay in line. Discuss shooting lanes with your partner(s) and make sure everyone is on the same page. Even though it’s not required here in California, do yourself and your friends a favor and wear hunter orange while you’re out in the field. With abundant birds flushing at your feet, things can get hectic and safety should be your top priority.

BIRDS APLENTY With the late winter rains, California should see an amazing amount of quail in the rejuvenated habitat come opening day. The amount of birds we saw during our scouting trip was by far the most I have ever seen in over 30 years of hunting. If you’re a first-time hunter or someone like me who has patiently waited for the return of the California quail, this is your year to get out after them. A little preseason scouting will give you an idea on where to hunt, and you should see more birds than ever before in areas with quality habitat. A simple reed call will help you zero in on the coveys; hunting the edges of good habitat should get you into the birds. Spend some time this fall walking the foothills with your favorite shotgun. Enjoy the upland game opportunities California has to offer. The birds should be abundant this season and quail are absolutely amazing on the grill. Stay safe, lead them well and good luck! CS Editor’s note: California quail season opened Sept. 30 in Zone 2 north of San Francisco and begins Oct. 21 in Zones 1 and 3, which encompass the rest of the state. Check out wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/UplandGame-Birds for more detailed information. 54 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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HUNTING At a Christmas party last year, Matt Harrison approached Tim Hovey about taking up hunting. Their first trip together, for mourning dove earlier this fall, was a memorable – and productive – experience for Harrison. (TIM E. HOVEY)

OLD HUNTERS AND NEW HUNTERS

FALL’S DOVE SEASONS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST BAGGING BIRDS

By Tim E. Hovey

A

s you enter my home, there can be little doubt that I spend much of my free time outside – a full-body mount of a beautifully spotted bobcat stares in perpetuity at the front door. The family pictures that line the hallway include magazine covers and articles showing my daughters

and me participating in hunting and fishing. One of my favorites is of my daughters on the cover of a weekly periodical, dressed in camo and kneeling behind a pile of mourning dove. In short, before you got to the living room you would clearly know I was a hunter. Last Christmas, my family hosted a holiday party at our home. Among the attendees were Matt Harrison

and his family. They were new to the area and the event was the first time I had a chance to meet them. Sometime during the evening I saw Matt looking at the photos in the hallway of me and my daughters on various hunting trips. As the party winded down, Matt and I started talking about hunting. Matt said that he had wanted to get into the activity but didn’t know

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HUNTING anyone who hunted. I told Matt what I tell everyone wanting to get involved in the shooting sports: Sign up for your hunter’s safety class and get a license. I personally use this next step as an indicator of just how serious an individual is in learning to hunt. Participating in the class takes effort. If I know someone has gone through the class, I know they’re serious about getting started. In the months prior to opening day of dove season, I stayed in contact with Matt, who mentioned that he had passed his hunter’s safety course earlier in the year, and had even gone out and purchased a shotgun. Seeing his commitment to getting out and experiencing a hunt, I told him that come opening morning of the first dove season, he would be sitting right next to me.

WE DROVE UP THE day before and picked up John Mattila on the way. John and I have hunted many times before and I was glad he could get away for the opening-day hunt. At John’s house, on the way to the truck, Matt watched a Eurasian dove hover above the driveway for a few seconds before lighting in a tree nearby. “Is that what we’re going for?” he asked. Before I could answer, a mourning dove raced across the sky at twice the speed of sound

Eric Frandsen waits on doves to get within shooting distance. He and Hovey have been hunting partners for many years. (TIM E. HOVEY)

and disappeared down the street. If you blinked, you would’ve missed it. I laughed and pointed to the brown blur racing across the sky. “Actually, we’re really after those,” I said. On the drive up, I gave Matt some advice, mostly centered on not getting frustrated. I told him that mourning dove are fast birds and hitting them may be a challenge for a new hunter. I explained what they looked like flying and how he could

Fathers and their children gather for a rite of fall: dove hunting season. From left to right, Tanner Mattila and his dad John, and Jessica, Tim and Alyssa Hovey display their harvest. (TIM E. HOVEY) 58 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

tell them from nongame birds. We talked about leading your target and shot distance. In reality, I know that despite all my advice, the best way for him to learn was to mount up behind the shotgun and start taking shots.

EARLY THE NEXT MORNING we arrived at our area and set things up. We placed two Mojo moving decoys out front and surrounded them with static decoys. I placed Matt near the decoy set-up. The rotary wing decoys are great tools for new hunters. Occasionally, dove will attempt to land near your decoy set, offering new hunters a slower, easier shot. As the sun started to peak over the horizon, the birds began to fly. I sat there, shotgun unloaded, pointing out approaching birds and giving advice. Trying not to overwhelm Matt, I commented on shot distance and lead mostly. He took shot after shot without dropping a bird. The morning flight was sporadic, with singles and doubles flying near our position. For me, it’s really hard


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HUNTING to stay put whenever I hunt. So I started walking after about 30 minutes and looked for birds in other areas. As the flight slowed, I circled around to see how Matt and John were doing. I walked by Matt’s chair and noticed two mourning dove placed across the seat. John had a few birds as well. We cleaned up and took a few photos, then grabbed some food and headed home. Matt had enjoyed the hunt and couldn’t wait to get out again. Back at my place, I showed him how to clean the birds. I told him I’d be headed out again the next day, but family commitments kept him from joining me. I returned to that same area with my daughter Alyssa, her boyfriend Dylan and my good friend Eric Frandsen. Eric and I have been friends for

Adrian and Jose De Orta clean their birds after a successful hunt. Bringing home a sack of dove meat means delicious appetizers like bacon-wrapped poppers. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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HUNTING many years, but I had to remind myself that we hadn’t spent much time together in the last decade and he really hasn’t seen my daughters grow into the capable young hunters they are now. Eric and I set up further south and waited for the birds to start flying. It was great to be able to share a dove field with him again after all these years. The flight was a bit slower that second day, but birds were still flying close to our set-up. Eric dropped some and I could tell that he was really enjoying himself. I heard shots from the other side of the field, so I decided to head down to see how Alyssa and Dylan were doing. Alyssa had several birds tucked under her dove chair and a big smile on her face as she searched the sky. Dylan was learning how to spot dove as well, and was pointing them out when they came close. They both

looked like they had been enjoying their first hunt together. At the end of the flight, we gathered our gear and headed home. Not many birds were dropped, but the excited banter on the ride back clearly demonstrated that dove hunting isn’t always about filling a cooler.

I’VE REALIZED THAT DOVE hunting in general is more of a social event for me. I do enjoy a good flight, but my fun depends heavily on who’s out there with me. This year was unique in many ways. I was fortunate that Matt had been serious enough to start down

A DAD’S PROUD MOMENT When we hunted dove, I set up my teen daughter Alyssa and her boyfriend Dylan at one end of a field where we had noticed birds flying the day before. Alyssa has been hunting with me since she was seven and she is safe beyond words. Since Dylan was there as an observer, I told him that he wasn’t allowed to hold the shotgun at any time. He understood the rules and I headed over to the other side of the field. As my friend Eric and I drove over to our spot, I could see him smiling and slowly shaking his head. “You know, Tim, it’s hard to believe

62 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

that you can now drop your daughter off and let her hunt by herself … That’s great!” he said. Alyssa is a hunter through and through. When Dylan had expressed interest in tagging along to see what it was all about, I will admit I hesitated. However, after thinking about it, I knew getting others involved in what I do is one of the reasons I enjoy hunting. On the ride home, Alyssa and Dylan sat in the back seat and searched their phones for the next available hunter’s safety class so Dylan could sign up for the course. TH


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HUNTING the hunter’s path by getting his hunter’s safety card and grabbing a license. Since he demonstrated the desire to hunt, I made him a promise to take him out on the dove opener, which was a privilege for me. If I had to guess, I’d say that it had been 15 years since Eric and I hunted dove together. Back before family and job commitments engulfed our lives, Eric and I hunted all over Southern California for anything with a season. When it came to hunting where others wouldn’t and doing so in tough conditions, Eric was always up for the challenge; I’m thankful he was able to make it out this season. What I will remember about this short season is that I got to hang out with some great people. For me, it isn’t about how full your cooler is at the end of the day. It’s about how often you’ve shared your time with new friends, old friends and new hunters. It’s how I enjoy the out-

For the author, California’s two dove seasons are more about camaraderie, getting new hunters introduced to the sport and rekindling friendships with fellow hunting veterans. (TIM E. HOVEY)

doors, and that will not change. The early dove opener is really the kickoff to our hunting season. We make plans, prepare gear and anxiously wait for that opening-morning sunrise. It is our tradition, and this year traditions were shared.

64 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

Oh, yeah, on the ride home I received a text from Matt: ”How’d you guys do out there?” Welcome to the club, Matt! CS Editor’s note: California’s second dove season runs from Nov. 11 to Dec. 25.


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HUNTING

Working On Quartering By Scott Haugen

T

eaching a pup how to quarter can start at about three months of age. Some pups will quarter naturally, while others will have to be taught. A lot of what a dog is naturally capable of doing comes down to genetics. Structured teaching optimizes these traits and educates all dogs on what behaviors you want. Once your pup knows the sit, stay and come commands, and has spent time being led on a leash or check cord, it’s OK to start teaching them how to quarter. Echo, my first Pudelpointer, naturally quartered. I never spent more than 15 minutes with her as a pup, total, teaching her to quarter. Kona, my most recent pup, on the other hand, took some work.

curious male with lots of energy. I started him with a very light, 30-foot-long check cord at three months of age. I clipped the lead to his collar, making sure the clip I used was very small and lightweight so it didn’t fall under his neck. You want the clip to stay on top of the neck so the pup is not tripping over the cord. Quartering is a skill the dog will use when hunting upland birds. It’s an efficient way for them to cover ground, sniff air currents for bird smells and tracks, and is much more effective than simply walking in a straight line. At this stage the goal is to get the pup to zigzag back and forth as it moves forward, sniffing the air and the ground the whole time. Start by letting the pup move ahead of you, naturally exploring. It’s OK if the pup starts playing around a little as long as it’s moving left or right; let it explore its new territory. As soon as the pup gets close to the end of the cord, slightly nudge

KONA’S A HAPPY-GO-LUCKY,

Once a gun dog learns to quarter, they are able to optimize the amount of ground they can cover and thus the number of birds they can locate. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

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HUNTING

By teaching a pup to quarter – change direction on command – you increase its ability to detect scents and efficiently cover ground. Here, a 13-week old Pudelpointer is prompted to make a change in direction while continuing to move forward. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

it and say “Hup!” Don’t let the cord come tight then abruptly jerk on it. You want to warn the pup that an expected change is coming up, not confuse them by making a harsh yank that will conflict with leash training drills you may be teaching them, like heeling. As the check cord draws tighter, move it opposite the direction the pup is traveling in. This will teach it to change direction. Repeat this a few more times and call it good. It only takes a couple minutes a session, two times a day, for a few days and the pup will get the hang of it.

NEXT, PROGRESS TO a 50-foot-long check cord and introduce a bird wing or skin. Put the wing or skin on a drag line, and pull it on the ground for 30 yards or so. Be sure to drag

it into the wind. Drop the wing in a clump of grass or a bit of brush, so the pup won’t see it too quickly. Now, get the pup, clip the cord to the collar and start tracking down the center of the drag line. The pup may follow the drag line, straight to the wing, but likely will sniff it then head to one side of it. As it reaches the end of the cord, draw it tight and say “Hup,” changing its direction and getting it back on the scent trail. Zigzag your way to the wing, changing direction multiple times. After a dozen or so sessions of this over the course of a week, next drop the wing in a field, so there’s no scent line to go on. Working with a crosswind is also a good way to teach a pup how to detect scents. As the pup matures and learns what you want, it will start trotting,

68 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

and you’ll want to move faster to keep up with it, making sure not to give any forceful yanks on the cord that will take away from what it’s learned. The sooner you can start teaching a pup to quarter, the better, because if you wait too long, handling a big, strong, six-month-old pup with a lot of drive can be very difficult and send many mixed messages. Remember, keep teaching sessions brief and stay positive. By doing this you’re on the way to developing a disciplined dog that will hunt very efficiently when the time comes. CS Editor’s note: To watch some dog training tips, check out Scott Haugen’s series of short videos on his website, scotthaugen. com. Also, watch his TV show, The Hunt, now on Netflix.


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BEST OF LAKE ISABELLA FALL IN KERN VALLEY: THE BEST SEASON Now that the kids are back in school and quiet has returned to the Kern Valley, this is a perfect time to visit the campgrounds that abound around Lake Isabella and the upper Kern River. The lake is mirror-calm after breezy spring days, and the trees on the upper Kern are all starting to display fall colors. Days are comfortably warm and the nights are just right for the campfire. Relaxation and enjoyable solitude is the diet for the day. But the Kern Valley is also still a great place to fish. Reports say Lake Isabella trout are being taken at the entrance of the Kern River into the lake, which is commonly called Cemetery Point. Such action is a sure indication of the fall spawn. Crappie up to 7 inches are caught on every cast as the great spring spawn develops. Talented fishermen are landing 1½- to 2-pound fish. On the upper river, the quiet fall water levels scream fly fishing. The catch-and-release section is lightly fished and the most productive. Whether you’re a weekend family coming for that last fling before the holiday season takes over, or a senior citizen with lots of time on your hands to just enjoy life, it truly is a valley for everyone and a beautiful time of year to enjoy the lovely Kern River Valley and Lake Isabella.

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CENTRAL VALLEY

FRENZY ON THE FEATHER A DAY OF COMBAT FISHING FOR KINGS

By Chris Cocoles

OROVILLE—To be honest, I wasn’t quite prepared for this. Not that it disappointed or discouraged me; in fact, the atmosphere on the Feather River below the Thermalito Afterbay, which, according to the California Department of Water Resources, “diverts water in Thermalito Power Canal for power generation at Thermalito Pumping Generating Plant and creates a tailwater pool for Hyatt Powerplant,” was memorable. It also was the place to be for king salmon anglers. Lots and lots of them.

Sara Martin battles a Chinook amid a crowd of boats and bank anglers on the Feather River below the releasing waters of the Thermalito Afterbay. (CHRIS COCOLES)

WHEN WE GATHERED IN nearby Gridley, fishing guide Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service (530-301-7455; msjguideservice.com) gave our group a game plan and pep talk. We’d drag fresh roe with heavy weights, and because many of the kings were rap-

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CENTRAL VALLEY

idly swimming through most of the Feather’s productive holes, most of the anglers were congregating in the faster-moving waters of the afterbay, just a few miles downstream from the Oroville Dam.

Bank anglers love this stretch of water too, and somehow they all seemed to coexist on this day despite the expected line crossing and confusion when salmon were hooked and reeled in. (CHRIS COCOLES)

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CENTRAL VALLEY But because this late September Saturday was also opening day of deer season in nearby zones, perhaps the fishing pressure wouldn’t be as heavy as it could be. No such luck. When we reached the boat ramp before 6 a.m., there was already a line of trucks and boat trailers waiting to launch. With a nice, warm day forecast, the chill we were feeling would get a boost from some sunshine as the dark sky slowly lightened up. It wasn’t far from the launch to the afterbay, where quite a scene unfolded. At one point, we counted 15 boats navigating in and out of the whitewater. “The current reminds me of a washing machine because it has a circular rotation in certain areas,” Saldana said. And on either side of the river stood the “bankers” who were wading and casting just a few feet from

each other. Even before we baited the Cousins Tackle rods, I expected chaos. Only the band Stealers Wheel (“Stuck in the Middle with You”) could describe the scene best: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right …”

I’LL SAY THIS ABOUT fishing in the rushing waters below the afterbay: there were salmon there. Sara Martin, who fished with us along with her husband Ross, got in on the action right away and got into two kings – though one was tail-hooked and the other hooked in the middle – and found out how difficult it is to reel in a Chinook in a strong current. But it’s also where you’ll have a decent shot at a fish. “The water released (from the afterbay) has been and is still about 7,000 cubic feet per second, and it’s been that way for most of our season,” Saldana said. “With that much water being released the water

76 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

temperature has been 58 degrees, which is good for salmon; the colder, the better.” This a prime spot for kings to congregate (fishing will close in this section of the Feather around the middle of October). When water is flowing out it creates a strong current in a small area, and the Chinook tend to swim into the current. That gives anglers a good opportunity to hook into one within a small area of water. Thus, this was fast-paced, don’tblink-or-you’ll-miss-it action. Boats move in a circular motion – clockwise – and upon reaching the fastest-flowing water Saldana would give us the command: “Let ’em down.” We’d let out line until hitting bottom, then reel up a couple cranks. Our window per drift was about 45 seconds, after which Saldana would shout “Reel up!” to allow the next boatload of anglers a chance to get their lines in the water.


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CENTRAL VALLEY Guide Manuel Saldana Jr. prepares some fresh roe for our hooks. (CHRIS COCOLES)

For most of the morning, I felt a couple strikes but nothing more, and my spot in the bow of the boat was the wettest place to be, soaking my socks all the way through as the Feather splashed my feet relentlessly. In between the flotilla of boats taking their turns to drop lines, I was fascinated watching all the anglers wading the river. The term combat fishing was apropos. I wondered how that many people could coexist and not drive each other crazy with crossed lines and casts in such tight spaces. But somehow, when salmon were hooked, everyone seemed to be on the same page (it’s still a dangerous place to be; others in the boat who fish these waters far more than I do have witnessed heated “disagreements” and shared a harrowing story of an unfortunate chap who suffered a cracked skull from a heavy sinker while standing behind a caster). Eventually, Saldana suggested we

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CENTRAL VALLEY “The current reminds me of a washing machine because it has a circular rotation in certain areas,” Saldana says of the Thermalito Afterbay. (CHRIS COCOLES)

head downstream to try our luck in calmer and a little less crowded waters. “Let’s get away from the craziness,” he said.

WE FOUND OUR HAPPY PLACE, far away from the frenzy we’d just experienced. A popular spot on the Feather called “Charlie” (Saldana said it’s named after an old-timer who fished

there often) was just what we needed. Though a couple other boats had the same idea we did, it was fun to just drop down to the bottom and lazily fish with roe again, this time using more of a hanging technique. “I really like Charlie’s because it’s a nice deep hole – approximately 28 to 30 feet – with a good amount of current,” Saldana said. “The salmon

like to stay in there for awhile before making a run up to the next deepest hole they can find to rest again.” We had little time to breathe, let alone talk, earlier in the day. Now we were able to swap stories about our favorite comedians, Saldana was able to call and comfort his teen daughter after their home’s alarm system accidentally was triggered, and we had

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CENTRAL VALLEY some fun conversations with a guy who was piloting perhaps the coolest craft on the river, a unique floating device with a small outboard motor but mostly powered by his flippers for easy navigating. He also played a role in our fishing highlight of the day. Ross noticed one of the flippers had slipped off our new friend’s feet and floated towards our boat. Deckhand Justin Leonard reached out with the net to retrieve it when we noticed one of our rods bending violently. Ross grabbed it and soon reeled home a chrome-bright Chinook, around 12 to 15 pounds. “Your missing flipper was our good luck charm,” Leonard joked to the solo boater. We might not have been reeling in a bunch of kings, but it was a beautiful day, the conditions were great and the company friendly. But it was time to speed up the pace

Arguably this guy was having the most fun on the river, with his flippers doing most of the work. When one of his flippers slipped off, our one keeper of the day bit. (CHRIS COCOLES)

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CENTRAL VALLEY Ross Martin managed to get this 15-pounder into the boat when we decided to escape the chaos below the afterbay. (CHRIS COCOLES)

again. Saldana suggested we give the Thermalito Afterbay area another go. I was eager. “Let’s take the descent back into the madness.”

FINALLY, IT WAS MY turn after returning to this hot mess. I had been bitten a few times in the morning and once fishing in Charlie’s hole, but nothing of note. When I finally set the hook on a fish and the fight began, I understood what Sara had encountered earlier. My salmon was giving me the business, taking advantage of the currents to make me work. Leonard convinced me the fish had wedged itself down below where a major rockpile exists. The king eventually wriggled free, and essentially my day was over. But we had one more surprise waiting for us among the mass of humanity fishing this same stretch of water. Ross attempted to reel in another king, and it was his turn to get into the ring and spar with it and the Feather’s swirling waters. And we’d have our first encounter with fellow anglers. Saldana maneuvered the boat carefully to avoid the fleet. But the salmon headed toward the guys wading in the shallows. Earlier, we talked about instances when kings hooked offshore got tangled with the lines of the shore fishermen. Leonard did what he could to defuse any boiling tempers when he asked if he could cut the snagged line towards the bank. There was some protesting but with so much fishing pressure, it’s all about compromise. And though we lost another fish, Leonard salvaged the other man’s sinker and leader for a happier ending. At that point, Saldana made the executive decision to retreat back to the boat launch and call it a day. “Enough of the craziness,” he said with a laugh. It was a little overwhelming, but I want to go back and try again. Sometimes, a little chaos can be fun. CS 84 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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FISHING

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ne of the hottest set-ups in the bass fishing world today is the Midwest finesse rig. Known also as the “Ned rig” for its creator, Missourian Ned Kehde, the set-up is, in its simplest form, a small, lightweight, mushroom-shaped leadhead jig weighing anywhere from 1 /16 to ¼ ounce and matched with a diminutive soft plastic offering. While there are many different

Author and California basser Mark Fong swears by a set-up inspired by Heartland-of-America angler Ned Kehde. The lightweight leadheaded jig rig should be a staple in all tackle boxes. (MARK FONG) calsportsmanmag.com | OCTOBER 2017 California Sportsman

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plastic bait styles that work well, perhaps the most popular is a cigar-shaped stickbait. Anglers typically choose between a small 3-incher or a standard-sized stickbait that has been trimmed down to a length between 2½ and 4 inches.

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Jighead worms have been around for a long time and have caught untold numbers of bass, but I do have to say there is something special about the Midwest finesse rig that just plain catches fish. It has a subtle yet appealing profile that excels when conditions make for difficult fishing. Based on its skyrocketing popularity, it is clear that I am not the only one to think this way. In fact, the rig has become a staple for tournament anglers everywhere. The rig is very easy to fish: simply swim it, drag it, shake it or deadstick it. The choice is yours. Best of all, the rig generates lots of bites, making it the ideal choice for beginning anglers or kids. In response to its success and popularity, many tackle companies now offer specific jigheads and plastics geared for the Midwest finesse rig. I have had good success with a homemade leadhead jig matched with a shortened Yamamoto Senko. There are many productive colors, but I like shades of green or brown. I will stick with green pumpkin, baby bass or watermelon when in doubt. There is more to this technique than just the bait; a medium-action spinning combo will help to maximize your success and enjoyment. I use a Cousins Tackle Raze RSK 752S 7-foot, 6-inch spinning rod; and pair it with a 2500-series spinning reel filled with 15-pound FINS 40G Braid connected to a leader of 6-pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon Line. Braid casts well, is super sensitive and strong, and the fluorocarbon leader is abrasion-resistant and super stealthy. If you love to catch bass and have not yet fished the Midwest finesse rig, you owe it to yourself to tie one on. CS


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After a long winter, we are enjoying a full lake for the ďŹ rst time in many years. Our marina is complete with motorboats, canoes and kayaks for you to come and enjoy the beauty of Caples Lake. The ďŹ shing has been good, with anglers catching some nice browns and mackinaw from boats, and shore anglers are enjoying abundant ďŹ sh from two plants earlier this summer. The rivers in the area are ďŹ nally settling down and showing signs of great spin casting and y ďŹ shing. For the outdoor enthusiast, we are heading into the heart of the best wildower season we have seen in years and the wet conditions promise to keep it going for the next month. Our store is in full operation and the cabins and lodge rooms are ready for your visit. Come and rediscover the beauty and opportunities of Caples Lake and the Carson Pass area. Find out more and reserve now at capleslakeresort.com

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Savor The High Country’s

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SIERRA

By Mike Stevens Photos by Mike Stevens, Parchers Resort and Bishop Chamber of Commerce

BISHOP—The Eastern Sierra’s steep, jagged nature, especially when compared to the casual rise of the West Slope, creates a situation in which

dramatic elevation changes can occur within a relatively short distance. Along with stunning geographical features and vistas, it also means fall colors in the region’s aspen, cottonwood and willow trees, to name a few, peak in color at different times within the season. These factors help

make the Sierra Nevada a nature photographer’s dream come true. Changes in air temperature and daylight this time of year make the fall color season relatively easy to predict. Bright green turns to vibrant yellow, orange, red and brown, turning hillsides into palettes with a mix

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SIERRA

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of fall-color trees with green conifers with a rocky background. Roads become corridors of color. Whether you are a professional photographer or traveler with a cell phone camera, it doesn’t really matter when Mother Nature is doing the bulk of the work. “By far the most popular time of year in and around the Bishop Creek Canyon is the fall,” said Jared Smith, general manager of Parchers Resort on the South Fork of Bishop Creek. “Our canyon has an especially high concentration of aspen trees, which translates into a truly awe-inspiring sight when their usually green leaves turn to brilliant yellow, orange and

red hues. The Bishop Creek Canyon is also ideal because the elevation goes from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet, so the peak fall colors work their way down the canyon and allow for a longer window of opportunity to capture your fall color shots.” Parchers Resort is actually an ideal base for fall fishing and photography combo trips, as both activities are arguably tops in the region in that particular drainage. There are fall photo ops throughout the Highway 395 corridor, starting as far south as Big Pine all the way up through Walker River Canyon and Monitor Pass. Eastern Sierra beat writer Ernie

Cowan is also a professional photographer who takes groups to the area this time of year for on-thespot workshops. “The fall color display in the Eastern Sierra is one of those not-so-hidden secrets,” said Cowan. “The dense aspen groves from Bishop Canyon to Bridgeport glow brilliantly in reds, yellows, fading green and orange until mid-October. The most popular areas include Bishop Creek, Rock Creek Canyon, June Lake Loop, Lundy Canyon, and Virginia Lakes.” CS Editor’s note: For more information, visit ParchersResort.net/photography.htm and CaliforniaFallColor.com.

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SOCAL

GRADE-A BASS FISHERY THE ARRIVAL OF FALL WON’T COOL DOWN THE HOT FISHING AT SAN VICENTE RESERVOIR

By Capt. Bill Schaefer

S

an Vicente Reservoir, located in San Diego’s east county, has been open a little over a year now, after reopening on September 22, 2016. The opening weeks, if not months, have been out of this world. After being closed for about eight years, the fish would bite almost anything you threw at them. But winter rains actually raised the water level another 6 vertical feet and changed the lake again. San Vicente was already twice its size from previous years and now it is even larger. But fishermen adapted fast and the fishing is still some of the best in San Diego County right now. It certainly would get high grades on the Southern California report card. So how should fishing be if you head out this month? It will be great. There is early-morning topwater action to be had on popping baits like the classic Pop-R; some prefer the walking baits like a Spook. Soft and hard jerkbaits will work early and late, as well, as the bass are keyed in on shad right now. The umbrella rigs like the Yum-brella Flash Mob will do really well rigged with shad-colored plastics. There is a lot of brush in the lake from the rising water. Swimming this rig over the trees and brush draws the fish out quickly.

PLENTY OF OPTIONS One of the old classics that does well here is a large 8- to 12-inch Texas-rigged plastic worm. The bass just eat this bait up here. Jigs are also a good bet this time of year. Senkos thrown weightless have been doing well as they fall and sit on the top of the brush, being eaten by cruising schools of bass. Frogs around visible brush have also done well.

This fall 2016 San Vicente Lake largemouth fell for a Daiwa Zero Popper. Fish here are averaging in the 3- to 6-pound range. (BILL SCHAEFER)

Don’t hesitate to use your dropshot- and split-shot-rigged plastics, but go light on the weight. Even ice jigs or spoons will catch some feeding bass off bait balls around the lake. This has always been a good technique at this lake. As we head into fall and then winter, this lake should not slow down. It took big storms to keep fishermen off the lake last season, and this one should be no different.

With a lot of brush in the water, you may want to go to braided line. I run 30-pound Maxima Braid 8 or Daiwa J Braid loaded on my Daiwa Tatula rod and reels, whether spinning or casting gear. You can always add a Maxima fluorocarbon leader. These lines will help you get the bass out of those sticky situations. San V is getting an A in my book, and I hope you can grade it that high after fishing it too. CS

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SOCAL

CATCHING FISH IS NO PIPE DREAM MAN-MADE STRUCTURE NORTH OF BORDER GOOD FOR MANY SPECIES

By Capt. Bill Schaefer

T

here are a lot of natural contours on the bottom of the ocean that hold fish throughout the year. But there are also a lot of man-made fish-friendly areas, like old concrete docks and bridge pilings, old pieces of road and brick, as well as outlet pipes covered with giant granite boulders. One of these pipes is the Tijuana outlet pipe, located just north of the border, off San Diego’s Silver Strand Beach. Over the years since it was built, it’s been covered with different types of seaweed and has become home to many different species of fish. And considering it’s a man-made reef, you never know what you might catch here. It usually features good fishing year-round, but in the fall and winter, this place can become your favorite go-to spot for rockfish, different species of bass, halibut, lingcod, sculpin, and even yellowtail. To get started, try these GPS numbers for about the center of the pipe: N32 32 256, W117 10 767. But you may want to mark your own favorite section within that general area. As you meter over the pipe, most of the time there can be clouds of fish on it and some kelp stringers to help you spot it more easily. But when you first meter over it, don’t give up if you don’t see fish. Remember that there are large boulders down there that can be holding fish in their cracks.

NOT TOO HEAVY, NOT TOO LIGHT For tackle, medium ocean gear works well here. Live bait on a

Big sand bass are common at the Tijuana outlet pipe, located just off San Diego’s Silver Strand Beach north of the border. The author landed and released this 7-pound giant. (BILL SCHAEFER)

dropper loop or egg sinker and leader bait rig is fine for the rockfish and bass. Sinkers can vary from ½ to 2 ounces, depending on the current. There is a lot of rock down there, so you will definitely lose some tackle. Plastic swimbaits are superior for catching the sand bass and calicos that live here, and just about everything else will eat the plastics as well. With the plastics, since the hook rides up on the back side, there is less of a chance of catching rock and breaking off. You can control the swimbait by swimming it over the pipe, whereas live bait will swim

into the holes in the rocks and cause nothing but trouble for you, breaking you off time after time. Golden or olive brownbait, anchovy or sardine swimbaits by companies such as Big Hammer, MC Swimbaits, Reebs Lures, and Western Plastics are just some of the great colors and brands that will work. For fishing plastics, a trigger stick will do great. For example, I use a Daiwa Proteus rod with a Lexa 300 reel and 15-pound Maxima Ultra Green line. Jigheads will need to be about 1 to 2 ounces because of ocean currents. CS

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HUNTING

The author peers through his Vortex 6-24x50 hunting and long-range riflescope during a trip to the range. Having reliable optics can make or break your shooting experience, so take your time to find the right one. (AL QUACKENBUSH)

MAKE YOUR SCOPE DOPE FIGURING OUT THE IDEAL RIFLESCOPE FOR YOU

By Albert Quackenbush

R

iflescopes can make or break a hunt or long-range shooting match. You want to utilize the best you can within your budget, but what scope is best? Growing up, I was taught how to shoot using a .22 rifle with a basic, low-power Weaver riflescope. That scope still sits atop that family rifle because it is still dead on. As far as I was concerned, it was a great riflescope. When I learned what quality glass really was, I realized the riflescopes I was using were inferior and I had limited myself. When I partnered with Vortex this year, I knew I was getting great glass. Then I started researching first focal plane scopes

(FFP) and second focal plane scopes (SFP). I knew I had great glass with my SFP scopes, but what was I missing with an FFP scope? During the summer, I gave a brief seminar on long-range shooting at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga, in Southern California’s Inland Empire. The eager crowd listened intently as I discussed weapon choice, bullet weights, ballistic coefficient, powder charges and long-range riflescopes. Out of the large group, there were only a handful of long-range shooters and many attendees were there to simply learn how to get started or to fix some issues they were having with their current rifle set-up. The topic of riflescope choice was a great one and included some infor-

mative questions. As I fielded queries and learned from them, I realized that most did not know the difference between first focal plane and second focal plane.

A TOUGH DECISION When it comes to hunting versus long-range shooting, the choice of riflescope could be a challenge for some. I have always used SFP scopes because they were cheaper and there wasn’t a need to shoot out past 200 yards. I started talking to friends who were shooting long range, and the more research I did the more I wanted to learn. I listened to podcasts on longrange shooting and watched numerous videos where the shooter used

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HUNTING Setting the proper torque on your scope rings is vital. (AL QUACKENBUSH)

either a minute-of-angle (MOA) or milliradian (mrad) scope on his rifle. I loved what I saw with the long-

range MOA riflescopes because of the adjustability and how precise you can be with the right equipment.

After completing my research, I chose to use both FFP and SFP scopes for my rifles. My close-range

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HUNTING hunting rigs, like my Remington chambered in .270, are set up with a Vortex Diamondback HP 4-16x42 SFP riflescope. Close range is accurate because I do not plan on shooting over 300 yards with this rifle for hunting purposes. Could I shoot further? Absolutely! Many of the zones offer shots out to 1,000 yards, but I usually like to get closer to my quarry. I also like to fill my freezer, and sometimes getting close in the time I have is just not realistic.

A VERSATILE SCOPE My Remington 700 chambered in .300 Win Mag now sports a Vortex Viper HS LR 6-24x50 FFP riflescope. I plan on shooting longer ranges for my own enjoyment and because I am also looking into hunting areas like open desert where I might have to shoot at longer distances. Sighting in with this scope was an eye-opening experience. It was incredibly easy

FOCAL PLANE RETICLE OPTIONS All riflescope reticles can be termed either first focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP), depending upon their internal location within the riflescope. Some Vortex scopes are available in either reticle style. FFP reticles are located near the windage and elevation turrets in front of the image-erecting and magnifying lenses. This style of reticle will visually grow and shrink as you change the magnification. The main advantage of an FFP reticle is that the various reticle minute of angle/ milliradian (MOA/mrad) tickmarks used for ranging, holdover, and wind drift correction are always consistent relative to the target and can be used at any magnification. The reticle will appear heavier at higher magnifications and finer at lower magnifications. SFP reticles are located near the scope’s eyepiece, behind the image erecting and magnifying lenses. This style of reticle does not visually change in size when you change the magnification. The advantage of an SFP reticle is that it always maintains the same ideal appearance and will rarely seem too heavy or too fine. Users should always be aware that when scopes use SFP reticles, the reticle MOA/ mrad tickmarks used for estimating range, holdover, and wind drift correction are only correct at a single magnification, usually the highest. Vortex Optics

(after bore sighting the rifle), and seeing everything magnified at the same level drew confidence. Ultimately, you are the only person who can decide what riflescope

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you put on your rifle. Many hunting applications in California can get by with a second focal plane scope with ease and they won’t break the bank. If you truly want to increase


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HUNTING Quackenbush does his homework when shopping for his riflescopes; do yours and you’ll enjoy great accuracy results. Research different options, watch videos and pick the brains of your shooting buddies before making a final decision on a scope. (AL QUACKENBUSH)

consistent accuracy, or plan to get into long-range shooting, a first focal plane scope is the only way to go. Choose a riflescope wisely, but most

of all enjoy yourself and have fun. CS Editor’s note: Follow Al Quackenbush’s adventures on SoCalBowhunter.com. You

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Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa just north of South Africa and west of Botswana, features some of the continent’s underrated hunting, including plenty of large antelope known as roan, which the author was pursuing during her latest trip. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

BACK TO NAMIBIA ONE OF AFRICA’S MOST UNDERRATED HUNTING DESTINATIONS OFFERS ANTELOPE SPECIES BOTH LARGE AND SMALL TO PURSUE By Brittany Boddington

T

his summer I had the chance to return to Namibia and hunt with Dirk de Bod. I had my very first safari with Dirk back in 2003, on my first trip to Africa, so I was thrilled to go back and visit the spot where my passion for the continent began. There are a few animals left in Namibia that I have not gotten a chance to hunt with de Bod’s

Safari Namibia (safarisnamibia.com). This trip I was focused on roan and klipspringer. De Bod’s hunting area is great for plains game and he was sure that we would be able to find some awesome animals.

FIRST UP: ROAN The roan, a savanna antelope, was the first species we hunted. We drove around and glassed from hilltops until we spotted a male. It looked like a nice one, so we decided to stalk in

closer to get a better look. We dipped into the valley and stayed in the brush line. I couldn’t see the roan but I knew it must be on the hill above us. We closed some distance before we spotted him again, and this time he was moving slowly through some thick bush. I got on the sticks, settled myself and waited for a window of opportunity. I saw the shoulder come clear of some thick brush and de Bod instructed me to shoot. I hit the roan hard but it didn’t go down; instead, it ran and stopped in a nasty and thick thorn bush. We gave it some time to settle down and went in. We

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managed to find the bull lying in the shade under a tree and I finished it off. It was an incredible roan bull, but not my best shooting.

THE ELUSIVE KLIPSPRINGER I’ve always wanted to hunt a klipspringer, a smaller African antelope, but luck has never been on my side with those little guys. I’ve missed two and didn’t get a shot on several others. They are small, fast-moving animals that scale rocks like our mountain goats – only faster. The name klipspringer literally translates from Afrikaans as “rock jumper.” They leap from rock to rock and are typically found on the very top of outcrops. Klipspringers are tough to hunt in this area. There are not many and they hang out in tough-to-access spots. I was thinking I might have to leave that one for another trip, but my boyfriend Brad Jannenga had a surprise planned. He organized a helicopter to take us to the south of Namibia, to a game ranch that had just acquired a large chunk of land that had not been hunted in 35 years and was crawling with klipspringers. I had no idea we were headed there until the helicopter

Scenes from an African adventure: Sunset in Namibia; natural quartz crystals are found all over the hills; Boddington and her boyfriend Brad Jannenga helicoptered to an area full of small antelope known as klipspringer. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

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showed up and whisked us away for an overnight stay at the other ranch. We headed out in the truck on roads that were in terrible disrepair. In the first 10 minutes we saw two klipspringers and got very excited. The third one we spotted was a shooter. De Bod got me set up and steady, and I took my shot. The animal dropped in its tracks and when we got up to it we were all amazed at how long its horns were. De Bod had to bring out a tape measure because he was in shock, but after measuring we looked online at the Safari Club International record book and it would be the third biggest ever shot in Namibia! It was a monster and I could not be more excited. Next up was Brad. He didn’t have it as easy as I did, since my klipspringer stood still at about 50 yards. He kept having millisecond-long shot windows

The author and her roan, a savanna antelope that’s one of the largest in the animal family. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

at over 200 yards on an animal the size of a house cat. It was not ideal conditions, but finally on the last drive of the day he was able to get a very nice ani-

116 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

mal. We flew back to Dirk’s place that afternoon after lunch and continued to hunt for a few more days. Namibia will always hold a special


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A smaller antelope, the klipspringer, has always been on Boddington’s bucket list. She and Jannenga each managed to score one on this trip. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

place in my heart, since I started my African hunting career there, but every time I go back I find another reason to love that country. If you haven’t hunted Africa yet and you are considering it, you owe it to yourself to look into Namibia. It is safe and stable, and it’s absolutely stunning. The hunting is first class and the people are kind and friendly. Dirk de Bod runs an amazing operation and really gives his clients a top-quality experience. We are already planning our trip back there for next year and most likely for years to come, because there is no shortage of amazing adventures to be found there. CS Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based hunter, journalist and adventurer. For more, check out brittanyboddington.com and facebook.com/brittanyboddington.

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Come and Join our 6th Annual Halibut Express!!

Our area offers some of the very finest Halibut and Ling Cod fishing on the whole BC Coast, including Alaska. We are offering a special early season COMBO Halibut and Ling Cod package for the 2018 season. The dates we have selected for our 2018 Halibut Express are from May 1st to May 5th, May 5th to May 9th, May 9th to May 13th, May 13th to May 17th, May 17th to May 21st, May 21st to May 25th, May 25th to May 29th, May 29th to June 2nd, June 2nd to June 6th, June 6th to June 10th, June 10th to June 14th, June 14th to June 18th and June 18th to June 22nd 2018. This will be a 4 night/5 day package and will include up to 40 hours of guided fishing, all meals and 4 nights accommodations. An added bonus will be that the VACUUM PACKING and FLASH FREEZING of your fish are included in this pricing. This is a heck of a good deal and this package would make a wonderful gift for the fisherman in your family. We will also have our fly-in service available from Seattle, Wash., or Vancouver, BC for these dates. You will also have the opportunity to target the early runs of CHINOOK and COHO that will be coming through our waters at the time of the season. The pricing for this exciting package is as follows: Party of 2 fishing, 2 per boat…$1875.00 PP + 5% tax. Party of 3 fishing, 3 per boat…$1675.00 PP + 5% tax. Party of 4 fishing, 4 per boat…$1475 PP + 5% tax. To make your reservations or for more information please give us a call at 1-800-429-5288 or send an email to: rodgersfishinglodge@yahoo.com Best regards, Doug Rodgers PS: With Halibut selling for upwards of $25.00 per pound at your local fish market, you should easily be able to pay for your trip. You are allowed up to 6 Halibut, new for 2018, 4 Ling Cod and 8 Salmon in possession per angler. The biggest Ling Cod this past season was a 60 pounder. Come and fill your freezers!

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