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ADVENTURE ISSUE! Baja Getaway Planner Canada Salmon Kyrgyzstan Ibex

Inside Fred’s Halls Show Season Preview! SPECIAL FOCUS:


USFWS Detection Dogs Vests For Hunting Pups

GREAT WINTER OPS! Collins Lake Trout SoCal Bonito Prespawn Bass


Dialing Up Desert Predators Introducing Young Anglers To Steelheading


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 30 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…$1975.00 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: 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! | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


4 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

Fixed magazine? No problem.




California gun laws suck... but that doesn’t mean your AR has to. :LWK&URVV$UPRU\Ĺ?VĆ“[HGPDJD]LQHVROXWLRQ UHORDGLQJLVDVHDV\LIQRWHDVLHUWKDQ\RXU bullet button. With solutions for both the AR-10 DQG$5&URVV$UPRU\ZLOOKHOS\RXNHHS the features you love. Check out videos of the or your favorite social media channel. | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman

5 | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman



California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 5 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 Dennis Dauble, Mark Fong, Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, John Heil, Todd Kline, Bill Schaefer SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Rick D’Alessandro, Nancy Ekse, Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, 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 ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CORRESPONDENCE Email Twitter @CalSportsMan ON THE COVER Baja’s warm weather, azure blue seas and the epic fishing in the Sea of Cortez make this tropical paradise in Mexico a hot destination for anglers. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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 •

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INSIDE FRED’S HALLS Looking for a new fishing rod and reel? In the market for a kayak? Want to pick the brain of a top big game hunter? Everything California sportsmen and -women want to know about the outdoors can be found at the Fred Hall Shows, which return to both the Central Valley (Bakersfield) and the Southland (Long Beach and Del Mar) in March. Fred Hall’s son Bart talks about preparing for 2018’s shows.


STEELHEADING CAN BE KIDS’ STUFF The weather might be a little chilly (and sometimes wet), but Northern California is a great place to introduce your kids to fishing for winter steelhead. Scott Haugen shares tips from how he and wife Tiffany Haugen have taught sons Kazden and Braxton to fish for these sea-run trout, while Tiffany shares a tasty steelhead recipe!



FOOTHILLS TROUT BITING Collins Lake is a convenient trip for anglers in Sacramento and adjacent communities. Its Sierra foothills location makes for a great weekend destination to wet a line before the statewide April trout opener. And with trophy rainbows being caught at Collins right now, find out how to catch one! BONITO ON THE BARBIE The Pacific’s a little warmer than normal off the Southland coast, but there are still active bonito biting close to shore. Our saltwater guru Bill Schaefer shares some of his tips for fishing light tackle to score these smaller but scrappy fish that are perfect for the grill.



Our lead writer Tim Hovey (left) is smitten with Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. He’s not alone – many Southern Californians flock south of the border to experience the tropical beaches, resorts and epic saltwater fishing in the Sea of Cortez. Read this veteran visitor’s tips for planning a perfect Baja getaway.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 43 51 81 113 117 119 141

Fly fishing show returns to Pleasanton Outdoors-loving cross-country skier heading for Winter Olympics Hunting predators with a cartoonist Cabo charter company committed to its customers SoCal prespawn brings largemouth to the shallows Vancouver Island, BC, Chinook Best vests for your hunting dog

DEPARTMENTS 13 17 29 48 65 77 129

Editor’s note Protecting Wild California: USFWS K-9 program’s California roots Outdoor calendar Adventures of Todd Kline Photo contest winners Rig of the Month: Trailer hook Urban Huntress: Kyrgyzstan part II

CALIFORNIA SPORTSMAN GOES DIGITAL! Read California Sportsman on your desktop or mobile device. Only $1.89 an issue. Go to 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.

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THEEDITOR’SNOTE By the time the Super Bowl ends, the editor begins dreaming of warmer weather and spring fishing in California. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)


y the time you read this, the Super Bowl will probably be over, and I’ll be congratulating the New England Patriots for winning a sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy. Yes, I’m predicting this well before the game even kicks off. But hey, you can’t blame me for assuming San Mateo product Tom Brady, who attended the same elementary school as my nieces, and his coach and good buddy Bill Belichick found a way to get it done against the Philadelphia Eagles after what happened last February. But while my team wasn’t a participant this season and I’ll probably be more intrigued by the commercials and whatever eats and drinks I can consume throughout the day, I consider the day after the big game as the first sign that spring can’t be too far off. Even considering I grew up in mostly mild California, I still considered winter to be an inconvenience to suffer through between my favorite times of year: fall and spring. Though I’m sure that silly groundhog will proclaim six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2, it will still start to feel that spring is sneakily close to becoming a reality. Since I transitioned from sports reporter to outdoors magazine editor, I love the anticipation for the statewide opener for trout season as much as I geek out about my beloved Oakland Athletics’ Opening Day. While admittedly these two of the best days of the year are still around a couple months away, the further I get away from the chaos of the holiday season and the dog days of winter, the happier I am. For anglers dreaming of catching a rainbow, striper or largie on a warm spring day, why don’t we say that the equivalent of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training for baseball fans is the upcoming slew of outdoors shows for fishing fans? This month I picked the brains of Bart Hall of the famed Southern California Fred Hall Shows (page 33) that get going in March and Ben Furmisky about late February’s Bay Area Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton (page 43). Check out some of these events and you’ll get even more excited about that April trout trek to the Eastern Sierra or maybe an offshore charter boat trip on the Pacific to score menu items for that first outdoor cookout of the season. So let’s trade Super Sunday guacamole and chicken wings on my couch for a container of nightcrawlers and a lakeside lawn chair in April. I’m there, dude. –Chris Cocoles | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


14 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 | | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


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he K-9 program for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges, which began in the federal agency’s Pacific Southwest Region in California 17 years ago, now has teams across five regions of the country, doing everything from detection of wildlife and drugs to protection, and sometimes serving a dual purpose. “When I started working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a law enforcement officer, I thought a dog would be tremendously helpful finding evidence and contraband due to their unbelievable ability to smell,” said Anthony Merrill, regional chief of refuge law enforcement for the Pacific Southwest Region in California, who did a full year of research and was approved for the first ever fully accredited police dogs put in service in 2000. “It was definitely a new frontier.” “Anthony was one of two officers who were really pioneers in bringing K-9s to refuges,” said Darryn Witt, national canine coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since July 2016. “He helped pave the way for this program. It has evolved into a national program now and we got together as a group for the first time this past May for continuity. Our K-9s are premium locating tools. We benefit from their outstanding noses in many ways.”

K-9 Lockett discovered warehouse contraband in the form of Papua New Guinea swords and shields made from animal parts and reptile products while working with USFWS Wildlife inspector Raymond Hernandez, who’s based in Torrance. (USFWS)

The K-9s are very useful in case law. “A dog sniff (today) is not considered a search, so you don’t need a warrant,” said Merrill, whose dogs have assisted with finding Alzheimer patients who have gotten lost. “Their sense of smell is simply incredible and if you can tap into that ability, that is where the efficiency as far as getting your work done comes into play. Their hearing is helpful also. Being tuned into your K-9 partner increases your safety. Their senses that are so much more refined and fine-tuned than ours – a good K-9 team can have a very different impact on life or death situations.” The Office of Law Enforcement also has K-9s, including wildlife inspector and canine handler Raymond Hernandez in Torrance, who does searches at the airports, seaports and the border. Hernandez has found his dog Lockett extremely valuable. “It’s almost as if they have X-ray vision,” he said. “Just imagine being able to look inside everyone’s luggage or cargo and pinpoint that one item that is illegal. A warehouse that I can clear in 30 minutes with her would take me a year by myself. I can tell by her demeanor and posture right away whether or not we are going to find something. When you go into a room and smell soup, Lockett goes into the same room and knows ev-



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Californiabased refuge law enforcement chief Anthony Merrill, here with K-9 Brenda, is considered one of the two fathers, per se, of the federal agency’s police dog program. (USFWS)

ery ingredient that went into that soup. She can smell reptiles in boxes being shipped due to the smell of them defecating or urinating in that box. “We are essentially looking at shipments that are declared as pillows, for example, that turn out to be ivory-handled swords or snake-skinned shoes,” he said. “We’re looking for the bad guys that are intentionally trying to squeeze something by.” This also includes live wildlife such as turtles or snakes being imported or exported out of the country. Besides detection, K-9s are also used for protection with different training specific to their areas of expertise. Breeds used include Belgian Malinois, German, Belgian and Dutch shepherds, and some Labradors and springer spaniels. Detection dogs look for narcotics and illegal wildlife. Training is typically reward based. Similar to animals that like to play fetch, the training for K-9s is not that much different than when an owner teaches their dog to sit or stand – obedience training with hand signals and voice commands. “A kind word or a pat on the head when playing fetch with your dog, and they will work their butt off for you,” said Merrill. “It is like training them to go after their prey for the detection dogs while protection K-9s need to be willing to get | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman



WILD CALIFORNIA into a scuffle, though they rarely need to bite a suspect.” Hernandez concurred. “She loves what she does,” he said of Lockett. “She loves me and I love her. She wants to please me, so she is working hard to find those things.” Merrill believes the USFWS’s reputation has been greatly enhanced by the use of K-9s, many of which are cross-trained.

FINDING A SUSPECT One of many memorable situations for Merrill where his K-9 helped local police was back in the summer of 2002. A suspect, who was wanted for armed robbery of a strawberry stand, exchanged gunfire with local officers in Merced, fled the scene, abandoned his stolen car and vanished. With a perimeter set up, helicopter deployed and SWAT team on the scene,

WILDLIFE FOREVER CEO RETIRES After 25 years of service to fish and wildlife conservation, Wildlife Forever president and CEO Douglas Grann has announced his retirement and turned over the leadership reins to Pat Conzemius, executive vice president. Grann joined the nonprofit organization in March 1992. Prior to Wildlife Forever, he was executive vice president for Voyageur Art, specializing in state duck-stamp prints, and created the Australia First of Nation duck stamp program. He also served as director of operations for the National Wild Turkey Federation and started its popular Super Fund banquet program. Grann’s responsibilities included the leadership of Wildlife Forever, management of staff and programs, plus the creation and development of national campaigns. Grann said that his greatest achievement was ensuring that no less than 80 percent of every dollar raised was spent on conservation. This goal was accomplished for 25 years; in recent years 94 percent of all revenue went directly to the organization’s mission statement, confirmed by independent audits. “Wildlife Forever was built and supported by individuals who care deeply about the future of fish and wildlife,” Grann said. “I am most thankful for those dedicated members, directors, staff and sponsors who invested in conservation and believed in developing stewardship in America’s youth. Thank you all; it has been a privilege to guide Wildlife Forever.” Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife. For 30 years, its members have helped to conduct thousands of fish, game and habitat conservation projects across the country. To join and learn more about the award-winning programs, including work to engage America’s youth, visit

18 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |


WILD CALIFORNIA local officers still could not find the suspect. Enter Merrill and his K-9 Brenda, who were contacted by dispatch due to such a high success rate. Merrill wiped the steering wheel and seat to get as much scent from the stolen car and let Brenda smell it. “It’s like their version of a booking photo or wanted poster, except they’re basing it off scent instead of sight,” said Merrill. Brenda tracked the scent to a house and then a walking trail, where there was a creek. That’s where Merrill noticed a change in his dog – he knew they were getting close. “It’s like when a hunting dog finds a pheasant or a duck; you can tell their behavior is changing,” he said. Merrill took Brenda off the lead and let her work on her own. “That is the most safe I’ve felt,” he said of the SWAT behind him and his dog. After searching for a while, Brenda started barking, indi-

cating that she found the suspect. “He was laying on his back in the water almost completely submerged in cat tails and blackberry bushes and started yelling, ‘Get the dog away; I give up, I give up,’ and we were able to get him into custody without any injuries,” said Merrill. “Later during an interview with investigators, the suspect said he could see the SWAT team but was only concerned about the dog. That could have saved a number of lives that day. “I have never gotten into a physical altercation with a suspect since I had a K-9,” said Merrill. “They not only kept me safe, but they reduce the likelihood of more critical injury to dangerous suspects also. The focus goes off of the officer and onto the K-9, and that extra couple of seconds means everything. It is a really good non-lethal option and the only option you can call back once you’ve deployed it. Once you shoot or deploy a Taser there’s no calling it back.” Witt agreed: “It is a great deterrent – just the presence of a K-9,” he said.

20 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

Darryn Witt is USFWS’s national K-9 coordinator and works with Rudy. “Our K-9s are premium locating tools,” he says. “We benefit from their outstanding noses in many ways.” (USFWS)

“As federal wildlife officers we use a lot of equipment to protect ourselves and others, but there is no substitute for the K-9s when it comes to officer protection and how good they are at that. | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman



Our backup might be a couple of hours away, so to have the dog there with you for your safety is a real benefit.�

ing my dog.� “He took one look at me and then Rudy and then walked up with his hands behind his back,� said Witt. “He might have been interested in fighting me, but he sure wasn’t interested in fighting Rudy.�



On one mission, Witt was tracking a notorious poaching group in the upper Mississippi. He had attempted to catch them with extra waterfowl for three years. One day, he saw three men from the group shoot their limit of ducks, stashing the birds at three different locations. Watching with binoculars, Witt saw them move the birds and go back to shooting more ducks. He took his K-9 Rudy and he located the ducks immediately. “That’s a case I never would have made without Rudy,� said Witt. In another situation, Witt was trying to arrest a felon for battery – someone who was known to fight police officers. Witt told the suspect he needed to put handcuffs on him or he would be “wear-

For Hernandez, his most unique search involved a specific container at a warehouse where they usually find televisions or clothes. Upon their search, all of a sudden Lockett whipped her head around as if she sensed something. Upon opening the container in question, Hernandez found artifacts from Papua New Guinea, including swords and shields made from animal parts. They also found reptile products. While Hernandez “isn’t typically grossed out� by what he sees and often doesn’t usually wear gloves, he related one instance with a surprising outcome. One day during a search of incoming packages and while having a conversation with a Customs and Border Patrol


Merrill celebrates a job well done with his K-9 partner Scott after an illegal marijuana grow eradication mission. (USFWS)

supervisor, he reached into a box and he froze; his face turned white. “My hand came in contact with a human skull,� he said. The four skulls he found were actually were effigies

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Dogs like Rudy, here helping sniff out a waterfowl poaching group in the upper Mississippi River with his partner Witt, have become valuable team members in USFWS conservation and law enforcement efforts in California and beyond. (USFWS)

over-molded using clay and hair. The artifacts can fetch anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 on the black market.

PROTECTING WILDLIFE The heroic K-9 stories go on and on. Deb Goeb, a wildlife officer at Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, used her K-9 to locate a rifle stashed in sagebrush from a subject that illegally

shot a bighorn sheep. “Lex goes where I go and Lex is out of the vehicle, at my side when I’m out of the vehicle making visitor contacts,” she said. “Lex patrols by boat, foot, truck and ATV.” Of course there is a deep bond typically between refuge K-9s and their handlers who spend all day with each other and then go home together. “They’re not like a gun belt that you

can just take off at the end of your shift and throw in a closet,” said Merrill. “They are a part of your family.” CS Editor’s note: John Heil serves as the deputy assistant regional director for external affairs in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Southwest Region headquarters in Sacramento. This story was reprinted with permission from the agency.

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Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show, Kern County Fairgrounds; NorCal Sport, Boat and RV Show, Shasta District Fair and Event Center, Anderson; NorCal Trout Challenge, Lake Pardee; anglerspress .com

Winter steelheading is in full swing along the Northern California coast, and the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Steelhead Derby on the Smith and Chetco Rivers begins on Feb. 22. (HARRY MORSE/CDFW)


Fred Hall Show Long Beach, Long Beach Convention Center; 17 Red Hook Adventures Trout Derby, San Pablo Reservoir; 17 Blake Jones Trout Derby, Bishop; 17-18 SMUD Trout Derby, Rancho Seco Park, Sacramento; 22-25 Fred Hall Show Del Mar, Del Mar Fairgrounds; 24-25 Youth turkey hunt 31 Start of spring turkey hunting season

Notes: A list of upcoming bass tournaments can also be found at For deer hunting zone information, go to | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman



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t never gets old for Bart Hall – carrying on his dad’s vision of producing big events for outdoors lovers of everything from hunting to fishing to jet skiing and which began nearly three-quarters of a century ago. Today, the Fred Hall Shows – Bakersfield from March 2-4, Long Beach from March 7-11 and Del Mar (San Diego) from March 22-25 – bring together thousands of sportsmen and -women who want to check out the newest gear, destination resorts and have an interactive outdoor experience.

Bart, Fred’s son, coordinates the show and takes pride in the success of his three events – Bakersfield’s Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show joined the family last year – and their being a fixture each March for hunters, anglers, boaters and kayakers. We chatted with Bart Hall about his dad’s legacy and what to look for in 2018.

Chris Cocoles This event has been such a great vision that your dad Fred first had since just after World War II. Do you find it hard to fathom how successful the Fred Hall Shows have become? Bart Hall You know, I just produced a

For outdoors lovers in Southern California, March madness means flocking to Fred Hall Shows in Long Beach and Del Mar. With the Bakersfield show returning for a second year, Bart Hall (inset, with wife Ginny) is continuing the tradition started by his dad Fred in 1946. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

commercial where I am speaking and I say in the commercial, “I am proud of our 72-year-old history and amazed that the little show my father produced at Gilmore Stadium in 1946 could have grown into the 2018 version of the Fred Hall Show.” I remember those shows as a kid, when kids were free to run around without fear in those days and I thought the Fred Hall Shows were my own personal playground. I got to shoot arrows with big game archer Howard Hill; I got to log roll with the lumberjacks and so much more. But nobody ever thought the Fred Hall Shows – and they weren’t called the | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman



The kids’ trout fishing pond is always a popular stop for youngsters attending Fred Hall Show events. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

Fred Hall Shows then; they were called the Sportsmen’s Shows – would ever grow into what they are today. I remember the day before my dad died I took him around the Long Beach show in a golf cart and said, “Dad, look at this ... Look at what you’ve created.” And, of course, they are even bigger now.

and field, and even roller derby – outdoor recreation was not included. So in 1945, the year I was born, my dad went to Mel one day and said, “Let’s produce a sportsmen’s show.” And Mel’s response was, “What the hell’s a sportsmen’s show?” The rest is history. The first show was in April of 1946.

CC Your website calls the Fred Hall

CC Are there any differences among

Shows “The Ultimate Outdoor Experience.” What do you think the outdoor experience meant to Fred Hall? BH When my dad was a young man he grew up fishing in Florida. He loved hunting, especially bird hunting. Towards the end of the war my dad worked for Mel Morrison, my godfather, at a company called Crowd Management Inc. They provided ushers, ticket sellers and gatemen to all of the sporting events in Southern California. My dad realized that with all of the sports they were associated with – baseball, football, basketball, horse racing, “the fights,” wrestling, track

those potential visitors who can only attend one show among Bakersfield, Long Beach and Del Mar? BH All three Fred Hall Shows have a lot in common and some striking differences. Bakersfield is first on the schedule this year. We took over that show last year and we were reluctant to call it a “Fred Hall Show.” When you do that you imply certain things to people and we didn’t want to disappoint them. But with a lot of hard work from the Fred Hall Show staff and former owner Mike Hatcher we were able to add a new fishing hall, add dozens of boat manufacturers and expand the small hunting

34 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

section. However, this show has its own special signature and that is that the Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show is one of the most successful RV shows in the Western United States. There will be over 300 RVs on display at this event and most of them will get sold at the show or in the next six months. It’s a great RV show. The Long Beach show is the world’s largest sportfishing show, California’s largest trailer boat show and a worldclass hunting and fishing travel show. We even have firearms on display at the giant Turner’s Outdoorsman and Oak Tree Gun Club booths. The Fred Hall Show at the Long Beach Convention Center is unique among shows in the world. If you haven’t seen it, you need to before you die. It is a bucket-list experience for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. The San Diego Show is 42 years old and it’s my favorite show. It’s big enough to rate national recognition but small enough that you can get the feel







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MIXED BAG of the “old time” shows and the intimacy that comes with a more relaxed atmosphere. It is simply the biggest fishing show, biggest boat show and biggest outdoor recreation event in the world’s sixth largest economy.

CC What new exhibits are set for the shows? BH There are going to be a lot more boats at all of these shows. There are simply more boats that want to come in than we have room for at all three events. Long Beach is going to have some “killer” marine electronics displays, including some boats on the water demonstrating cool marine electronic products. And Long Beach, in keeping with the trend of the last 10 years, will have more hunting displays than ever. Del Mar will be overflowing with boats and Hobie is using that show to present a factory-style showcase to their amazing product line of Mirage

Drive kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and inflatable kayaks. At all three shows, in the Hobie Kayak Seminar Area we will have the “Show Up and Blow Up” contest, where anyone can sign up to blow up a Hobie inflatable kayak. The winning time will win a Hobie i11S inflatable kayak. Bakersfield will have even more fishing tackle, the very popular hourly drawing in the new fishing hall and all of the new RV’s for 2018. And Mammoth Lakes is presenting a new 360 virtual-reality Mammoth Lakes experience at the shows. Don’t miss that spectacular event.

CC What are some of the activities to look for? BH Among the three shows there will be over 700 seminars. Long Beach alone will have over 400 seminars and workshops. There is the Daiwa Bass Bin; the Cousins Seminar Stage; the Accurate Fishing Saltwater Tank; the Mammoth Lakes Seminar Area; the Hobie Seminar Theater; Hobie test rides on the Hyatt

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Lagoon; Casting by Daiwa; Shimano and Avet on the lagoon; the Ram Trucks Ultimate Air Dogs; the Great American Duck Races; the Mammoth Lakes and Shakespeare Kids Fish Free Trout Pond; the Fishing in the City Kids Casting Contest, the Deep Blue Dive Pool; the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack show; and a reprise of the Jack Dagger: The King of Fling Knife-Throwing show.

CC You get so many different visitors in terms of boaters, kayakers, hikers, fishermen, etc. Does it make you proud to know that after all these years the Fred Hall Shows showcase how diverse the outdoors can be in California? BH Yes, California is amazing. One entire coast is covered in saltwater with all of that fishing. We are located next to (Mexico), which has great tropical fishing. We have the greatest sportfishing fleet in the world. The Colorado River covers a good portion of our eastern flank and the great system of lakes in the north and south and the amazing bounty of


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MIXED BAG the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains are unmatched in any other state. Bass and trout fishing are off the charts. We are the only state where you can shoot all three species of elk. We have good deer hunting, turkey hunting, duck hunting, and dove and quail hunting. And while we have problems on all fronts for outdoor recreation, saltwater angling is under intense attack from poorly informed people who want to end sportfishing in the ocean. That is why, at the Long Beach and Del Mar Shows, if you join the Coastal Conservation Association of California you will not only get into the Fred Hall Shows for free but you will get a goodie bag worth far more than what you paid to join CCA-CAL, which is a national organization, and every angler should be part of CCA-CAL just like every hunter should belong to the NRA. We need this organization. Recently, environmental extremists tried to completely outlaw Pacific bluefin tuna fishing. CCA-CAL

Looking for a new fishing rod? You’ll likely find one at one of these shows. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

was partially, if not wholly, responsible for allowing anglers a two-fish-per-day limit. Without these folks it would have been zero fish. Join this organization at the Fred Hall Shows. CS

38 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

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MIXED BAG Interested in becoming a fly angler? Step No. 1 just might be to attend this month’s Fly Fishing Show at Pleasanton’s Alameda County Fairgrounds. (THE FLY FISHING SHOW)



ay Area fly anglers know that some of the state’s best rivers, streams and lakes to drift a nymph or cast a streamer are a short drive through the Central Valley and into the Sierra Nevada. For all your fly fishing needs, check out the return of the Fly Fishing Show (, scheduled for Feb. 23-25 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. The exhibits – everything from lodges to gear for sale and fly tying demonstrations – are not only a great resource for experienced fly guys and gals but a great way to get introduced to a challenging but rewarding sport.

“The best advice I would have for a beginner is to realize it may be difficult to become a master, but it is very easy to learn how to do and be successful,” says show president and CEO Ben Furmisky, an experienced fly angler who oversees shows held all around the country. “The basic premise is very simple and easy to enjoy. Take a lesson or go on a guide trip to learn the basics properly.” Furmisky says while novice show attendees can get a lot out of just chatting up the experts as they explore, there is one must-see booth for newcomers. “Our Learning Center is geared towards introducing the beginners to our sport. Many of the fly tiers can be enjoyable to watch,” he says. “I would

also highly suggest that beginners look at the schedule of seminars and demos and attend some casting demos and seminars geared to the beginner levels.” “I always suggest to people who may be new to our show to plan as much time as they can. Many first-time visitors come for a few hours and they all wish they had more time. There is so much to see that it’s best to stay the whole day or the whole weekend. It’s a ton of fun to enjoy.” Among the opportunities available to watch or even try at the Pleasanton show includes casting techniques and fly tiers plying their trade. “Fly casting is about understanding the basic physics of the technique. The casting demonstrations will help peo- | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman



Learning to tie patterns is just one of many intricate details that make fly fishing such a special sport to take up. “It’s very enjoyable and a way to be involved in the sport without being out on the water,” says show president Ben Furmisky. (THE FLY FISHING SHOW)

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It’s very enjoyable and a way to be involved in the sport without being out on the water. You can create your own

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MIXED BAG From rods and reels to apparel and waders, you can find everything to get started at the Bay Area extravaganza. (THE FLY FISHING SHOW)

knots for different fishing situations.” Fly fishing might not be for everyone, but it’s likely that anyone who attends this show will interact with folks who will do a good sell job on what makes this a great activity. Furmisky provided his own ringing endorsement of the sport. “My favorite part of the sport is learning about different fish and traveling to catch them. It’s a great excuse to travel to wonderful places,” he says. “One special thing about fly fishing is there are different aspects for people to enjoy. Some folks get into the casting; others the techniques; others fly tying. There are many different segments that can be appealing.” CS Editor’s note: Hours for the Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton are: Friday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $15 per day

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s e r u t n e v d A 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 on what he’s up to each month. For more on Todd or to book a guided fishing trip with him, check out, and you can follow him on Instagram at @toddokrine. –The Editor In late December, my family and I took a trip to Arizona in part to see some of the state’s amazing natural sights. I snapped this selfie of Tiffani, Dylan and I on the rim of the Grand Canyon. (TODD KLINE)

We also visited the Sedona area, in the central portion of the Copper State, exploring a local stream (this image and at right). Sedona is a very spiritual place. (TODD KLINE)

We also checked out the mystical Sedona, Arizona, area. It’s a very spiritual place. (TODD KLINE)

Fishing slowed down for a couple of weeks last month in Southern California, but a spate of warm weather made for pretty good action on this day. (TODD KLINE) I recently went out to Lake Havasu for two days to scout a bit for an FLW tournament this month. I snapped a selďŹ e with a nice smallie that fell for the Revenge Vibrating Jig. (TODD KLINE)

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Team USA cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen loves what the outdoors offers: Great snow and endless activities, including hunting and fishing for one’s sustenance, all of which help her bid for Winter Olympics glory. (SADIE BJORNSEN)



oming back from Russia with gloves – not to mention skis, poles and boots – Sadie Bjornsen wanted to get back to the Winter Olympics. Four years after the cross-country skier competed for Team USA in Sochi, the 28-year-old Bjornsen has also qualified for this month’s 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Bjornsen, who grew up in Mazama,

Washington, then headed to the Last Frontier and graduated from and skied for Alaska Pacific University, competed in two individual events in the Sochi games, the 10-kilometer classic race and the 15-kilometer skiathlon, which combines 7.5 kilometers each of classic and freestyle skiing. She also raced on the relay team that finished ninth. Bjornsen punched her ticket for PyeongChang after taking second at a World Cup sprint race in Ruka, Finland, in November. | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


MIXED BAG Bjornsen is one of two members of her family who’ve represented the U.S. in the Olympics (Sadie’s younger brother Erik raced in two Sochi events). So when it comes to skiing, it’s a pretty competitive bunch. “Up until probably high school we were training together all the time, pushing each other quite a bit,” Erik Bjornsen told USA Today. “Since high school she’s just kind of been one step ahead of me and kind of shown me the way to make it to the World Cup level … It’s been fun to watch her. She’s been kind of a role model of mine.” We caught up with a busy Sadie Bjornsen while she was barnstorming through Europe on the World Cup circuit to get her take on the Olympics and her love for the outdoors and the organic benefits its fish and game provide her and help her achieve her gold-medal dreams.

Chris Cocoles Congrats on qualifying for PyeongChang! What are you thoughts on going back to the Winter Olympics? Sadie Bjornsen It is really exciting to make the Olympic team again. It was always a dream of mine since I was a young child to be an Olympian. Over the course of these past four years since Sochi, being an Olympic medalist has become my new dream and goal. I can’t wait to head to PyeongChang for another opportunity!

CC What was it like growing up and loving skiing? SB I grew up in Mazama, Washington, a very small town of 200 people, with one person per square mile. Mazama is situated at the base of the amazing North Cascade Mountains and a beautiful valley full of outdoor opportunities. I grew up doing 24-mile hikes through the mountains with my family on the weekends, floating the river on hot summer days, mountain biking through the hills, and cross-country skiing from one town to the next, with little hot chocolate stops along the way. I was lucky to have a family that viewed “playing outside” as the best op-

portunity for family time. This love for the outdoors and playing developed me into a competitive cross-country skier as I grew older. At first, racing was just family trips we would take to Snoqualmie Pass (in Washington) or Mount Bachelor, Oregon. Over the years, as I started winning races, I learned that sport could be the best job in the world!

CC You started as an alpine skier and then transitioned to cross-country. What was your main inspiration for making the switch? SB Our family started in alpine skiing because my father had grown up doing some ski mountaineering and alpine skiing with his family, so it was a natural direction for our family to go. The closest alpine resort was a long 45-minute drive away – up to the Loup Loup ski area, between Mazama and Omak. On the other hand, the cross-country trails started from our back door and went on for nearly 100 kilometers across the valley. I remember always being cold riding on the chair lifts during alpine skiing, so I decided it made more sense, and sounded more fun to ski up the hill, rather than ride a chair lift up the hill. This is when Nordic skiing became more of an interest to me. We also had a couple Olympians move into the Methow Valley, both neighbors to me – Leslie Hall and Laura McCabe. They were both Olympians in cross-country skiing, so they kind of started my Olympic dream. I wanted to be just like them.

Bjornsen grew up as a vegetarian, but she eats organic wild game such as moose and upland bird and salmon. “For two years now, my fiancé and I have turned into ‘Alaskan vegetarians,’” she says. (SADIE BJORNSEN)

CC You and your brother Erik are pretty close in age. Did you push each other growing up? SB My brother and I are separated by 18 months and I also have a sister who is two years older than me. Between the three of us, everything naturally became a competition. Who could get to the car the fastest? Who could swim to the middle of the lake the fastest? Who could eat the most spaghetti? We grew up working on a construction site with my parents, who owned a construction business. As young kids, we learned how to work hard but enjoy it together.

52 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

Bjornsen races in a World Cup event in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this winter. The 28-year-old punched her ticket to next month’s PyeongChang, South Korea, Winter Olympics with a second-place sprint race finish in Ruka, Finland. (REESE BROWN/ SNOWSPORTS INDUSTRIES AMERICA)


MIXED BAG All of these things contributed to a family full of athletes. I remember one race as a young kid at Snoqualmie Pass, where my brother, sister (Kaley) and I made a little “family plan.” I would block for my sister in the front and my brother would block in the back. We traveled as this group of three little kids through the pack of master skiers and nearly won the race together. I remember it just feeling really fun! As we grew older, the competition between Erik and I was pretty fun. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that Erik beat me for the first time in a ski race. I remember that day, because he told me, “You will never beat me again.” And that was true; I never did. To this day, despite him being considerably faster than me, he has helped push me in a supportive way. We are able to support, encourage and challenge each other in both training as well as racing.

CC Since there are two Bjornsen Olympi-

ans, who’s the best skier in the family? SB Hmmm. That is a good question. Maybe you have to ask each other’s opinion. I think Erik is the best, because he is the fastest. But this question could be answered different by each of the four other members of my family.

“I love hiking super high into the mountains and chasing after ptarmagin, or biking way up to high streams in the mountains and fishing for dinner,” Bjornsen says. (SADIE BJORNSEN)

CC How did the outdoors define who you are? What was your biggest passion when you weren’t skiing/training? SB The outdoors has always been a way to see the world from new eyes. It has provided me with the opportunity to travel all over the world, and it has provided me with an opportunity to meet some pretty incredible people. When you walk outdoors and breathe in the fresh air, it is the most natural form of medicine! Suddenly, all the problems of the world can be put aside, and you can find true happiness! Some of my biggest passions when I am not ski training are hiking, backcountry skiing, camping, fishing, climbing, and bird hunting.

54 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

CC How much are you into fishing and/ or hunting? Can you share any of your favorite stories? SB I grew up vegetarian until I was about 20 years old. At that point, I was traveling the world and competing at an international level and I was struggling to get the fuel that I needed. As a result, I started eating a little bit of meat. I always ate fish as a kid, but no other types of meat. Right about that time I met my boyfriend, now fiancé (Jo Maubet), who had grown up both hunting and fishing. He grew up in France, but spent many of his summers in the states with his American grandparents doing these sorts of activities. He gradually introduced me into the Alaskan way of living off the land – hunting, fishing, berry picking and gardening. It didn’t take me long to realize that I loved it. I love hiking super high into the mountains and chasing after ptarmagin, or biking way up to high streams in the mountains and fishing for dinner. For two years now, my fiancé and I have turned into “Alaskan vegetarians.” We eat a combination of moose, fish, grouse and ptarmigan, all things that we have caught or hunted. It makes me feel good as an athlete to know that I


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Sadie (right) and her younger brother Erik both competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (SADIE BJORNSEN)

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CC What was your main trigger point to go to Alaska and did you have a wel-

come to Alaska moment? SB My main motivation to go to Alaska was University of Alaska (Anchorage), the school that was recruiting me in high school. [She eventually trans-

56 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 | | APRIL 2017 California Sportsman


MIXED BAG ferred to Alaska Pacific, which has a very successful skiing program that has produced multiple Olympians.] The coach at the time was Norwegian, and I knew (Norway) had a history of success in my sport, so I wanted to go to the best. [Bjornsen’s great-grandfather was Norwegian and emigrated to Seattle.] At the time, moving to Alaska was a second thought, and I don’t think it hit me until two weeks before it was time to leave that I was moving so far away. I had watched (the Alaska-shot movie) Into the Wild for the first time and suddenly I had this feeling I was moving to the middle of nowhere; I started freaking out. Fortunately, everything was already signed and a lot of my stuff had already been sent, so there was no turning back. I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I arrived to learn that Anchorage was pretty far from the movie I had watched a few weeks earlier.

CC Is there a most important benefit of

The draw that hunting has for millenials like Bjornsen is key for recruiting more into our ranks. (SADIE BJORNSEN)

you staying in and training in Alaska after you graduated from Alaska Pacific that’s more integral to what you do than if you were back down in the Lower 48? SB One of the most valuable qualities of

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MIXED BAG short 45-minute drive and 10-minute helicopter ride away. Our team has a little house they maintain on the rocks above the glacier, so I spend one week of each summer month living and training on snow all day long. We also have very mild summer weather and we are never limited by heat, which is convenient for the amount we are training. I also train with the strongest team in the country, which pushes me every day to be the best I can.

CC What do you want to do after your competitive skiing career ends? SB After I am done ski racing, I have a collection of things I want to do. I have my undergrad in accounting, so I would like to stay in that field. I also really look forward to being a mother! And one of the things I look forward to the most is having more free time to spend holidays with friends and family. CC Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a big sports fan and I get so ex-

60 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

Sadie's ofďŹ ce is also her playground to explore the Last Frontier on skis. (SADIE BJORNSEN)

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“There is so much honor and excitement pulling on the Team USA uniform,” Bjornsen says. “It is so much more than I ever dreamed. I love how suddenly, you become teammates with your entire country.” (REESE BROWN/SNOWSPORTS INDUSTRIES AMERICA)

cited about the Olympics. What’s it like to not only compete but to wear that Team USA gear on the snow and when you march with your teammates in the opening ceremonies? SB There is so much honor and excitement pulling on the Team USA uniform. It is so much more than I ever dreamed. I love how suddenly, you become teammates with your entire country. You no longer are just representing yourself; you are representing your country and everyone who has ever helped you along the way! The Olympic rings have this incredible ability to put all the world’s differences aside, and for two weeks allow sport to bring everyone together. ASJ Editor’s note: The PyeongChang Winter Olympics begins on Feb. 8, with the first cross-country skiing race scheduled for Feb. 10. For more on Sadie Bjornsen, check out her website (sadiebjornsen. com) and follow on Twitter (@sadzarue) and Instagram (@sbjornsen). Like at 62 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

DESTINATION ALASKA | APRIL 2017 California Sportsman





We’d like to welcome Yo-Zuri on as our new fishing photo contest sponsor! Each month we’ll be giving away prizes from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines. Michelle Johnson kicks things off with her kayak-caught Columbia River fall Chinook!

Chuck Hartman is our Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of his 2017 eastern Washington mule deer buck. 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@, 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. | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


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The timing was right on this winter steelhead trip, as warm temperatures and prime water conditions resulted in fish being caught. Author Scott Haugen's son Kazden was more than happy with this, the first fish of the day. (SCOTT HAUGEN)


By Scott Haugen


ith late-season winter steelhead fishing upon us, now is the time to get kids hooked on this exciting species. Since the weather can still be wet and chilly and winter steelhead runs spotty, there are some things to prepare for before even leaving home.

GET THE FORECAST Monitor weather patterns, closely. If your child doesn’t like cold, wet conditions, then don’t overdo it. Then again, if fish runs are off the charts,

getting the kids on the water for a quick trip can cure them of the fishing doldrums in bad weather. This is where researching steelhead runs is a must, so you know where to find fish. Rather than spend all day in inclement weather with kids who don’t like such conditions, consider dedicating a few hours to a trip, then calling it good. Of course, if fish are being caught, great, as the time on the water might get extended. However, if it’s cold and the youth isn’t having fun, push them a little bit – just not too much as you want them to come back.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS When I started winter steelhead fishing with my dad and granddad back in the 1960s, our heater was briquettes in a metal bucket. On most days, uninsulated boots and fingerless wool gloves found my body numb before we got out of view of the boat ramp. Back then we had no other options and knew no different. Today, things have changed. When it comes to kids, the goal of every trip is to have fun and keep them wanting to come back. To achieve this, invest in the best possible rain gear and warm clothes. Yes, it gets expensive, | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman






ish is one of the fastest-cooking protein choices for quick, easy meals, and stir frying is the perfect method to get dinner on the table in a few minutes. If you prep meals ahead of time, things go even quicker. We always have fish and game in the freezer, so all of my meal planning for the week starts there. A few meals of fish, a few of big game and an upland bird or waterfowl dinner is what’s typical for the week. Once or twice a week I’ll buy vegetables and try to clean and chop them right away so they are ready to toss into soups or salads, or for us to munch on raw, roast or stir fry. Both fresh and frozen steelhead work great in this recipe, but if defrosting fish always plan ahead a few days and unthaw in the refrigerator. This ensures the taste will be much better than a fish left overnight to thaw in the sink. 1 pound steelhead fillet 1½ cups broccoli florets

Author Tiffany Haugen always tries to have some steelhead fillets around to add protein to healthy, vegetable-rich dishes. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

1 cup chopped red and/or yellow bell pepper ½ cup sliced mushrooms ¼ cup diced celery ¼ cup diced onion 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar 1 teaspoon sesame oil ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon toasted and/or black sesame seeds Skin steelhead fillet, remove pin bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl whisk together garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and pepper. Marinate fish at room temperature in sauce mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high.

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Sauté onion and celery until softened. Add broccoli, peppers and mushrooms and continue to sauté for an additional two to four minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside, and then add fish and marinade to the skillet and bring to a boil. Turn fish gently to cook evenly, one to two minutes per side. Add vegetables back to pan and heat to temperature. Serve over a bed of rice and top with sesame seeds. Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany Haugen’s popular cookbook Cooking Seafood, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489 or order online at Follow Tiffany on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and watch for her on the online series Cook With Cabela’s, The Sporting Chef TV show, and the Netflix series The Hunt.

Winter steelhead fishing conditions are not always ideal. Tracking storms and fish runs are a big part of finding success and are especially helpful when it comes to trying to hook youth anglers. This fish fell for a 3.5 Mag Lip back-trolled in limited visibility. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

but it’s a small price to pay for comfort and getting a kid hooked on fishing. Having clothes that fit and are comfortable go a long way in making a child happy and warm. Fortunately, much of the gear can be used for other activities. Heated jackets and vests are invaluable investments on those biting cold days. The same goes for heated gloves, as keeping hands warm is critical. Disposable hand warmers and foot warmers, like those made by HeatFactory, are great options, and kids love them. Slip one into each glove and boot, and you’re set. As for keeping the head warm, I’ll take hand warmers and stick them between the fold in a stocking cap. With one placed on each side of the head, you’d be amazed at how warm you’ll stay. Insulated rain gear is nicer than a thin outer shell. Be sure to get quality designs where the seams don’t leak. The same goes for gloves on those rainy days. Make the child part of the purchasing process. Pump them up for 70 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

a trip to the local sporting good store, let them pick out and try on the gear they need, and make it fun for them. On a nice day, let them test out the gear with a garden hose. When boys or girls invest in the effort of preparation for a day on the water, chances are they will enjoy that day much more.

KEEP ’EM ENTERTAINED As for the actual fishing, keep kids active and engaged. Fishing is not a passive sport, so don’t do the work for them. Give the little anglers a sense of responsibility by allowing them to bait their own hooks, cast, deal with hang-ups and everything else that comes with a day on the water, including cleaning their catch, which is a great biology lesson. While you’re at it, take the time to actually teach kids how to fish. Reading water is the most important element of winter steelhead fishing – or any river fishing, for that matter – and it’s important to teach kids how to do this. No matter what methods cals lsport port or ssman manmag. mag com m | FEBRUARY FEBRUA FEBRUA BRUARY RY 2018 2018 Ca California C Cal allifo ifforni rnia ia S Sportsman Spor por po p or rtsm tsma ts an n

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NORCAL are being fished, explain to kids why that approach is being used and, more importantly, how to fish it.


Tiffany and Braxton Haugen nailed a double with good friend and noted guide Todd Harrington. Timing, fishing in comfort and knowing when to call it a day are all key elements when it comes to hooking the kids on winter steelhead fishing. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

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Kids are capable of soaking up so much detailed information but parents often overlook this. As a former science teacher of 12 years, it never ceased to amaze me how hard I could push students, challenge them and see them perform time after time. Teach them the anatomy of a steelhead hole. Identify ideal plugging water and how it’s different than classic side-drifting spots. Point out the differences in running jigs through a stretch of water versus fishing bait bounced along the bottom. Get them thinking how they would go about catching a fish in a particular stretch of water, and then have them explain their reasoning. In order to maximize your quality of time on the water, leave all portable gaming systems at home. Nothing can detract from a fun day on the river like having a kid – or an adult, for that matter! – playing games. Fishing offers the perfect opportunity for great family time, so take advantage of it. Make your social media posts when the day is done; don’t ruin the moment by doing it right away. The youth deserves your undivided attention at this time, more than anyone else. When it comes to hooking kids on winter steelhead fishing, keep it fun and know when to call it quits. As parents who love fishing, it’s up to us to share our passions with our youth, with the ultimate goal being to give them the knowledge, desire and confidence to enjoy this great pastime for the rest of their lives. CS Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book 300 Tips To More Salmon & Steelhead, send a check for $30 (includes S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This and other how-to books, including cookbooks, can be ordered online at Scott is host of The Hunt on Netflix. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Boat Review

180/200 RIVER RUNNER More boat. Less water. More fish. Often, the best fishing is where most boats can’t get to – around rocks, through weeds, over glacial gravel. Where the water is skinny, few fisherman can go. It’s hell for boats, but fish love it there. The River Runner is the per fect boat for that kind of water. New and improved for 2018, the Hewescraft River Runner now features rugged hull enhancements and a ROTAX Jet inboard engine. This boat already had a rugged .190-inchthick hull, but the improved hull now features a doubler that gives the boat an additional .25 inch of hull thickness the length of the keel, and a delta-pad shield that adds another .375 inch of protection in the back third of the boat. The new fourstroke ROTAX power plant comes in 200 and 250 hp options and

provides cleaner running and better fuel economy than ever – and at an affordable price. With the new Hewescraft River Runner, you’ll have no more dinged props, broken skegs, and embarrassed looks. Just smooth boat handling and great fishing. Go further up the river and get back safely. The River Runner is more boat for the times when there’s less water.

SPECIFICATIONS Length: Bottom width: Beam: Inside side height: Bottom gauge: Side gauge: Gas tank (180): Gas tank (200): Hull weight (180): Hull weight (200): Deadrise transom: Deadrise amidships: Deadrise bow:

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NOTES Few lures generate more violent strikes than spinnerbaits do. Unfortunately, hits don’t always translate directly into fish in the boat. Bass are notorious for short-striking spinnerbaits, and this is especially true when it comes to spotted bass. The solution? Add a trailer hook. I like to employ a free-swinging siwash. First, I add a single Big Game Bait Button to the bend in the hook. Next I’ll slip and close a 2/0 Gamakatsu Siwash Open Eye hook over the shank of the spinnerbait’s hook, with the point facing the same direction as the lure’s. Finally, I add a second Bait Button to keep the trailer hook in position. -Mark Fong


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Author Tim Hovey (left) and Tim Davis come from totally different backgrounds, but their shared appreciation for hunting sparked a friendship. (TIM E. HOVEY)



By Tim E. Hovey


he road we were traveling was scarcely wide enough for my truck. The old railroad bed was elevated off the desert floor almost 10 feet and straight as an arrow. The tracks and heavy wooden supports had long since been removed, leaving only an elevated path about as wide as a standard vehicle. Tracks leading down the road had convinced me to follow it; however, those had ended miles behind us and

we were now blazing our own trail. It was getting dark and I was desperately looking for a place to turn around. I didn’t want to have to drive backwards for nearly 4 miles in the fading light. In the distance I could see headlights of cars traveling Highway 395 and I knew we were getting closer. To me, it looked like the old railroad would end at the well-traveled highway. I was right: At one time the road had indeed ended at pavement. Unfortunately, the barbed wire fence

stretching across the road, glowing in the light of my headlights only 20 feet from the 395, was a rude awakening. I looked at Tim Davis, sitting in the passenger seat and who was hunting with me for the very first time. “Welcome to California!”

I’VE BEEN VERY FORTUNATE to meet some awesome people through forums and social media who share my hunting passion. After relocating to Los Angeles County back in 2004, I started joining hunting forums to | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


CENTRAL VALLEY share adventures and hopefully meet new friends who also hunted. Tim and I first corresponded on a popular hunting forum, where we shared hunting stories and advice. It was there where I discovered Tim was not only interested in predator hunting but also a talented cartoonist. Tim and I are as different as two people can get. Born and raised in California, I’ve been involved in the outdoors my whole life. I’m an environmental scientist for the state and I have little in the way of religious guidance or understanding. Tim’s a devoted Christian who lives in a Christian community in Chicago’s inner city. He is a certified auto mechanic and a prolific and talented cartoonist. I totally believe that if it weren’t for our mutual interest in hunting, our paths would’ve never crossed. Now we were hunting in my home state. My daughter Alyssa and I picked Tim up at the airport the day after

Davis and Hovey’s daughter Alyssa wait as they call in predators in the California desert. (TIM E. HOVEY)

82 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 | | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


CENTRAL VALLEY Christmas. After years of offering, Tim finally decided to come out and hunt with my daughters and me. Before he lifted off from the Windy City, I told him he should be prepared to hit the ground running – and hunting. A short two hours after he landed, Tim, Alyssa and I were perched on the edge of a desert canyon getting ready to call for predators. We spent that first afternoon hunting hard and getting to know each other better. Unseasonably warm weather, a solid high-pressure system that had been in place for over a week and a near full moon made calling predators very tough. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything the first day. The following day, Tim and I headed out on a two-day hunt. Being that this was Tim’s first hunting trip out to California, I really wanted to get him on some coyotes. I had planned to drive out to the high desert and hunt some of my favorite calling

Davis has always enjoyed a love for drawing cartoons dating back to when he was a kid. The Chicago resident has had his outdoors-inspired work published in various publications. (TIM DAVIS, ALL CARTOONS)

spots. Once the sun went down, I wanted to do some night calling out in the remote desert. We could then

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stay in one of the small-town hotels and hunt our way home. I wanted to score some predators with Tim.

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CENTRAL VALLEY BACK HOME IN CHICAGO Tim had produced two cartoons he had drawn for my daughters prior to coming out for his visit. Knowing about their interests in baking and CrossFit, Tim created caricatures of Alyssa and Jessica participating in their respective activities. As usual, Tim had nailed it. Tim’s cartoon interest began early in life, drawing cartoons and characters as a kid. As an adult, he refined his technique and began submitting cartoons to magazines for publication in 2010. Using his outdoor interests for inspiration, Tim concentrates his artistic efforts on funny anecdotes about hunting and fishing. Tim explained that when he started hunting, he noticed that not many cartoonists addressed hunting as a topic of humor. He realized that this large outdoor community could relate to his brand of hunting humor. I had first seen Tim’s hunting cartoons appear in national outdoor mag-

azines back in 2012. I enjoyed his quick wit and his ability to convey his message with just a few words

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and the expressions of his characters. On the drive, Tim and I talked about all sort of things. I learned that at one | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


CENTRAL VALLEY time he was the lead singer of a Christian punk band that once appeared on The Jerry Springer Show. Tim told me that at the age of 16, he traveled with a friend to inner city Chicago to check on a church community. As they searched for the church, Tim spotted a young woman he was convinced he’d marry. Tim told me it took three years of convincing, but she eventually said yes. At around lunchtime, we pulled off and made sandwiches out in the middle of nowhere. We talked about life and told stories. Even though we had yet to put any fur in the truck, we still enjoyed exploring the desert. After lunch we packed up and headed out to give it another try.

SOMETIMES, WHEN YOU’RE CALLING predators and nothing’s showing, it’s hard to get past the idea that you’re just sitting out in the desert making noise. That’s exactly how I felt. Here I had invited Tim out to hunt some

how they didn’t respond. We hunted hard that first day and didn’t see a thing. With the weather being warm and the three-quarter moon turning evening into light, I fig-

amazing areas in my backyard and I couldn’t produce. Fortunately, Tim understood that the one thing neither of us could control was how the animals responded – or in this case,



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Davis was ready for action, but with predators weren’t that responsive during the day, so the duo switched to making their sets at night. (TIM E. HOVEY)

ured critters were moving in the cool of the night to hunt. With the weather conditions against us, I suggested we grab dinner and wait for it to get dark. Dinner was overcooked hamburgers and Diet Coke, but you couldn’t

beat the company. Tim talked about ideas for future cartoons and I cleaned my plate. Back at the hotel, we offloaded all the gear we didn’t need for our night hunt and then headed out. We drove back towards the mountains and

90 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

started calling. Using a Dan Thompson hand call, I started filling the cool air with prey-in-distress screams. As I called, I searched the terrain with a red light and looked for eye shine. The screeching sound of the call often draws coyotes and bobcats in to investigate. In the dark of night, their eyes glow like embers in the beam of the red light. About five minutes into my calling sequence, I spotted a set of eyes out at 200 yards. I moved Tim over into position and kept calling. After a full day of seeing nothing, we were both excited to see our first animal of the trip. Under the bright moon and the red light, I could see it was a bobcat. Before we had headed out, we’d made sure to pick up a tag for Tim in case we got lucky and called in a wild cat. Over the next few minutes the bobcat closed the distance and moved to within 60 yards. The cat stopped and looked right at us. Tim adjusted, steadied himself and took the shot. | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


CENTRAL VALLEY The cat didn’t move. Before Tim could follow up, the cat disappeared back into the brush unharmed. The next 24 hours saw much of the same. We saw critters during the evening, but they didn’t present much of a shot. During the day, nothing was moving. It was starting to look like Tim was going home empty-handed.

ON THE LAST DAY of the hunt, with conditions less than optimal, we decided to grab some dinner, try a little more night hunting and then point the truck home. Despite our lack of hunting success, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed more during a trip. We drove into the back hills and started hunting. About eight minutes into the third stand, I caught two sets of eyes coming fast. I kept the light on them and moved Tim into position. The lead coyote trotted to a stop and stood broadside at 90 yards. Tim put one shot through him and he dropped

right there. We celebrated the successful hunt and took a few photos. Beat from the two-day adventure, we loaded up and headed home. The kinship I felt with Tim didn’t just come from our hunting interest. My dad was an amazing artist and also dabbled in producing cartoons. Hearing Tim talk about how he comes up with cartoon ideas and how he drafts them had me frequently thinking of my dad. Tim was a joy to hunt with and a riot as a copilot. It really didn’t matter that the hunting was a bit slow, as we had a great time exploring the desert and just laughing. When I dropped Tim off, I told him he was welcome back anytime. On his way home he texted me some months later this year that worked for him. The trip’s already planned and I’m definitely looking forward to hunting with Tim Davis, the cartoonist, again. CS Editor’s note: For more information on Tim Davis’s art, go to

92 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

Davis and Hovey are planning a hunting reunion later this year. (TIM E. HOVEY)


Mark your calendar with the dates of one of the biggest fishing derbies around. Yes, the 29th Lake Isabella Fishing Derby is just around the corner on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of March. Just listen to these great prizes: $10,000.00 for the longest trout caught, plus another $3,250.00 in cash prizes. A 2018 Crestliner fishing boat worth $16,884.50 is a raffle prize, and blind bogies, door prizes, 50/50s, the Bobber Bowl and much more are up for grabs. Conveniently scheduled at the start of Easter week, it’s a great time for the first outdoor vacation of the season. For all the latest information about the derby or campgrounds at Lake Isabella and the Kern River, contact Kern River Valley Chamber Of Commerce, sponsors of the derby. Contact the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce (760-379-5236; for all the latest information.

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With mild winter weather, trout have been active in the Sierra foothills location of Collins Lake, northeast of Sacramento. At this time of year, it’s all about quality catches – Tom Pontes of Roseville caught this 6-pound, 4-ounce rainbow (inset) trolling the main body of the lake. (COLLINS LAKE)



ood weather plus plenty of catchable trout plants makes Collins Lake a solid option for Sierra foothills anglers. Jacob Young of Collins Lake’s resort (800-286-0576; says 11,600 pounds of trout have been planted since fall and the beginning of the winter season, and the net pens have been stocked to raise fish throughout the winter to prepare for spring planting. “With the nice weather we have been experiencing this winter, we have seen more activity out on the lake with anglers catching nice-sized trout off the shore with nightcrawlers and PowerBait, and trolling with various lures,” Young says. Rapalas, Needlefish and Kastmaster are among the top options for enticing a Collins Lake trout to bite. One factor to keep in mind: In the fall, lim-

its of rainbows were commonplace. But as winter got into full swing in December and January, Young says limits have been less frequent but they’re seeing more trout in the 4to 6-pound range. So if quality over quantity is your desire, February and March might be good times to visit. The net pens now contain about 5,000 more trout that will be released in April and May, in addition

to scheduled California Department of Fish and Wildlife plants. “We had an additional double plant (on Jan. 18) for a derby, and we’ll start our spring fish plants with regular (stockings) from before Presidents’ Day weekend until Memorial Day weekend,” Young says. “Between our net pens, CDFW plants and private plants, we anticipate stocking the lake with about 30,000 pounds of | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


SIERRA Anglers ďŹ shing close to shore are also catching big trout. Another Roseville resident, Ed Underwood, used PowerBait near the beach area to land a 6-pound, 8-ounce rainbow.

trout throughout the spring.â&#x20AC;? Shore ďŹ shing with PowerBait and/ or nightcrawlers and trolling between the dam and the beach area have produced much of the ďŹ sh throughout the last month and ďŹ gure to be the tickets to trout going forward.


BASS, SUNFISH BOTH GOOD BETS Bass and crappie are also biting at Collins. â&#x20AC;&#x153;(Bass) are hitting in the deeper, warmer warmer. (In the middle of January) a 2½-pound crappie was caught between 40 and 50 feet down with a nightcrawler,â&#x20AC;? Young says.

WATCH WATER CLARITY Keep in mind that February can also be wet, especially given recent winter storms after prolonged drought issues affecting most California lakes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Visibility is often reduced in January through March as winter storms continue, but our trout planting schedule ramps up in February and

is going full bore in March, April and May,â&#x20AC;? Young says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We also see improved bass ďŹ shing as the lake warms up and the bass start moving into shallow waters. This can occur as early as March in some years, depending on weather patterns.â&#x20AC;?

DERBIES AHEAD Collins Lake has trout derbies scheduled for April 7 and April 28, and the big event of the spring is the third annual Collins Lake Family Trout Fishing Derby on May 12. CS

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artin, our panga captain, slowed the 22-foot boat as we got close to the buoy. The Sea of Cortez was like glass as we coasted to a stop only 50 yards from the white float. The captain studied the area carefully, put the boat back into gear and nodded to us. My wife Cheryl and I flipped the releases on our reels and dropped the baits back behind the boat just as we had at the previous buoy. If dorado were patrolling the float, we’d know quickly. A metallic gold flash caught my eye as we moved around the structure. Before I could figure out what was happening, my bait was grabbed and the rod nearly yanked from my hands. Two seconds later Cheryl’s rod bent sharply and the drag on her reel began to scream. For several seconds we maneuvered around the small boat, following our fish and trying not get tangled. Martin fired up the engine and expertly moved us away from the buoy and the rusty chain dangling beneath it. Once we were a safe distance from the float, he cut the engine and let us fight our fish. With the exception of the brief glimpse I’d had right before the hook-up, my fish stayed deep and out of sight. Martin smiled broadly from the back of the boat and pointed to my unseen fish. “Grande,” he said, nodding with excitement. It took me almost 45 minutes to land the 52-pound bull dorado at the

Baja California is an idyllic getaway for anglers, but as author Tim Hovey knows, a trip to La Paz and elsewhere on the peninsula requires a lot of preparation to be able enjoy moments like fishing with your wife off the shore as the sun sets. (TIM E. HOVEY) | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


SOCAL end of my line. Cheryl struggled with her fish and after I landed mine, we landed her 40-pounder together. I don’t think anyone in our boat was happier than Martin.

BEGINNING IN THE EARLY 1990s I started making regular fishing trips to Baja. Over the years, I’ve visited many of the major spots along the peninsula – from San Felipe to Cabo – and I’ve been fortunate to fish them all. As a fishing destination, you really can’t beat Baja California. During those early trips, we’d drive down to fish for fun and science. When I was in college, our fisheries group would head to specific sections of the peninsula to collect specimens for several different research projects. We would either conduct the sampling by hook and line or we’d dive and spearfish. It was those early trips that taught me how to prepare for not only fishing,

Tim and Cheryl Hovey team up to hoist a freshly caught dorado from the bright, blue waters of the Sea of Cortez. (TIM E. HOVEY)

but also traveling south of the border.

FISHING Following the advice of an older fish-

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erman we met during a school trip who simply stated, “You’ve got to bring spare stuff for your spare stuff,” I began using the rule of three: I try and

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SOCAL Yeah, the beaches are pretty epic in these parts. (TIM E. HOVEY)

bring three of everything. If we’re fishing big game, I’ll pack 20-, 30- and 50-pound fishing setups. Outfitting my wife as well automatically doubles that gear list. Tossing in a lightweight rod for shore fishing is also advisable. Packing my terminal gear is where things can go sideways for me. I try and balance being prepared for everything with not overpacking. I’ve been on trips where my terminal gear bag weighed almost 30 pounds but I ended up using only two different sizes of hooks. As the trips piled up, I started pairing down what tackle I’d bring and I started keeping things simple: a few trolling lures, a couple feathers, maybe some casting irons and several different sizes of hooks, and that’s it. In all honestly, if I absolutely needed something I didn’t have, it was easily borrowed or available at the destination. If you’re trailering your own boat

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flotation foam. With positive flotation and low center of gravity, the BAMF 25’ Excursion is unmatched in safety and performance. No wood equals no rot. With an all-composite construction these boats are built to last a lifetime. Whether you’re into casual cruising or are a hardcore offshore tuna chaser, the new BAMF 25’ is the boat for you.


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SOCAL down, you need to know the locations of boat ramps and their conditions. Most of this information is available online and will save you the frustration of having to search for a useable ramp. If you wish to fish in an area that doesn’t have a ramp, talk to the locals for assistance. For a fee, someone in town will have a vehicle that can navigate the shore and assist in getting your boat floating.

AFTER THE CATCH If you should happen to have been successful on the water, take a little time to investigate local restaurants. Many eateries will prepare and serve you your catch for a little extra. When we’re fishing in Baja, some of our favorite meals have been the fish we caught that day and had prepared by local chefs.

DIVING If you’re a diver or interested in doing a little snorkeling, some of the beach areas in Baja are perfect for new and experienced divers alike. The water is usually warm and the visibility excellent. Wave action is nonexistent in the gulf during most days, so a beach entry for a quick dive is easy. I always try and pack a mask, snorkel and fins with my other gear to cool off after a long day on the water, and also to just get a different perspective of the gulf.

WEATHER INFORMATION Staying informed on changing fishing and weather conditions is a must when traveling to Mexico. If you’re fishing with a guide service, stay in close contact with them via phone or internet just prior to your trip. Most will be happy to inform you on what to bring, what the fish are biting on and overall sea and weather conditions. The internet has made the world a smaller place, in my opinion, and using it to prepare for travel is by far the best way to have a successful trip.

Hovey uses the rule of three when packing fishing gear: bring a spare for the spare. He also throws in his snorkeling equipment because, why not go for a swim in the rich, warm waters? (TIM E. HOVEY)

106 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |



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SOCAL Weather can be a factor depending on how far down the peninsula you’re traveling. La Paz and Cabo can experience hurricanes during the peak summertime fishing season. Stay tuned to potential weather situations and jump online to track storm systems and changing conditions. Nothing ruins a trip more than having to be shorebound while a heavy rainstorm moves through the fishing grounds.

WATCH HOW YOU DRIVE Staying safe in Mexico is easy to do if you use common sense. If you’re driving down the peninsula as a group, stay together. While heavily traveled Highway 1 is now paved from Tijuana to Cabo, it is still a narrow roadway in places and it is recommended that you avoid driving at night. Some sections are extremely desolate, so having a breakdown or an accident would leave you stranded. I’ve personally observed cattle, mules and wild animals essentially park themselves on the pavement at all times of the day. Suddenly encountering wildlife on a desolate section of road at night could spell disaster. My advice: Drive the speed limit, pay attention and keep the driving to daylight hours. Our trips always include spare parts for our vehicle. An extra fan or serpentine belt, fuel pump and filters, several quarts of oil, spare plugs and tools to work on your car should be included in your travel gear. At least one spare tire, if not two, plus a tire repair kit are absolutely essentials if you plan to leave the pavement too. And in Baja, you will leave the pavement. Bringing several spare gas cans is also a great idea, as stations are nowhere as numerous as they are here in the states. Online maps show available gas stations along the Baja Peninsula and update their operational status, but know that just because one is shown on the map doesn’t mean it’ll actually be open

After you land a couple keepers, you may be able to have them cooked and served up as a plate of yummy fish tacos at local restaurants. (TIM E. HOVEY)

or have gas. Check before you leave and gas up the extra cans before you cross the border.

WHAT TO LEAVE AT HOME In the ever-changing California mindset, it’s easy to think that some things that are now legal in the Golden State must be acceptable in the easygoing atmosphere of Baja.

108 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

You would be wrong. Leave your vices at home. Do not let the unceremonious border crossing fool you; you are in a different country when you travel south of the border. The fact that you’re an American means nothing to authorities in Mexico. Follow their laws and rules, be polite and you shouldn’t have any problems.

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SOCAL If you’re questioning whether you should bring something or not, ask yourself one question: If I was stopped in the states – and not just in California – and the police found this item, would I get in trouble? If the answer is yes, you can absolutely bet the trouble is double in Mexico. I’ve driven and flown down to Baja more times than I can remember and I only have great memories of my time on the peninsula. Yet we’ve been pulled over by the local police; we’ve been in a minor traffic accident; and we’ve frequently had our car searched at the numerous military checkpoints out in the middle of nowhere. None of these issues resulted in anything more than a minor inconvenience. As I mentioned earlier, follow their rules, be polite and these types of unplanned events will become nothing more than a humorous anecdote to a great fishing trip in Baja. CS

Cruising through this fish-filled sea while enjoying a dream getaway south of the border makes all the planning ahead of time and potential headaches along the way worthwhile. (TIM E. HOVEY)


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and putting together the top fishing charter company in Cabo.” Rest assured that with Cabo San Lucas Sportfishing Charters you will enjoy every minute of your charter when fishing the outstanding waters of Cabo San Lucas and the East Cape region in Baja. These waters are regarded as the world’s greatest destination for sportfishing, one of the most thrilling as well as fascinating watersport endeavors. “Our main focus is to provide great boats and top crews to get out customers on fish every time!” Araujo says. “Our slogan is, ‘No boat rides unless you want one.’ With the highest

hook-up ratio in Cabo, we deliver a fishing adventure of a lifetime.” Check out the company’s website ( for info on the multiple boats you can charter. “We cater to all levels of experience or targeting specific species – from giant blue and black marlins to massive yellowfin tuna, and even goliath grouper and black sea bass,” Araujo adds. “We always get the job done and have the exact boat for all occasions. We also have full multiday fishing packages for our customers and offer good discounts.” “All of those on our crew are top tournament winners. You will be sure you’re fishing with the best.” CS | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman





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By Capt. Bill Schaefer


outhern California waters are still a little warmer than normal, but it’s cool enough that bonito have been showing up along the coast as well as in the bays. Fishing at the kelpbeds has gone from in the kelp for bass to just outside of it for bonito action. Even a few peanut yellowtail are still being taken, representing a bonus for your backyard barbecue. Anglers are getting excited and finding fun fishing with light tackle for these scrappers. The fish have been about 1 to 3 pounds for the most part, with some larger fish offshore. The bonito can be located by slow-trolling a sardine along the front of the visible kelp. Nose-hook a bait and let it out behind the boat, then place the boat in gear enough to move along on impulse power, as slow as possible. Once you get a hookup, throw bait every so often to keep the school around the boat. It can turn into nonstop action. Bonito can also be taken trolling hard baits that look like anchovies or sardines, such as a Rebel Minnow, Rattlin’ Rogue or Rapala. The same trick applies: Troll along the face of the visible kelp off the larger kelpbeds. There are so many ways to have fun with the bonito. Once the first person gets a strike, whether it be on bait or on the troll, another angler should throw out some bait to get the entire school in a feeding frenzy around the boat. Sometimes agreeing on who will throw the bait is the best plan, as most anglers just start fishing and lose the school. Once the school is

Author Bill Schaefer is one of those anglers who enjoys using streamer flies to entice bonito to bite. The species has been hitting those and other offerings cast into the waters off the Southland. (BILL SCHAEFER)

around the boat, you can fish with the bait or throw chrome spoons, iron or even toss the trolling lures to try and score. Although most of the fish are only in the 1- to 3-pound range, they can put up quite a battle on light tackle. Some even larger fish can be mixed in as well. I like my Daiwa Tatula spinning or casting gear in the medium range, and I’ll load up with Maxima 10to 20-pound test. Go maybe a little heavier for your chrome spoons and

jigs. Bonito are a little toothy, so keep checking your line and knots for cuts. Daiwa and Maxima both have great braided lines you can try out as well. Bonito are a blast to catch on a fly rod too, so if that’s your fancy, an 8-weight with floating or slow-sinking line should be perfect. A Clouser Minnow is my favorite, but any type of glittery streamer will work. When they are in a feeding frenzy, almost anything will make them strike. Then, just hold on and reel! CS | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


116 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |




ecember and January posted records for heat in Southern California, and February just might stay in the warmer range too. With this factored in, lake temperatures will rise during the prespawn period that is on its way to your local lake. A number of San Diego reservoirs are over 58 to 60 degrees already, which should get male largemouth running the banks. This could bode well for fishermen who are paying attention. Many bass anglers aren’t even thinking about fishing yet, but they should be. This is one time of year when you can beat the SoCal crowds to the punch. As the lakes’ water temperatures inch into the 60-plus range, the males start running the banks looking for nesting spots. All these bass on the bank can also translate into great fishing. You can look on a lake’s website to obtain the water temperature readings. Keep an eye on this and you can be one of the first on the lake as it wakes up and goes into that wideopen prespawn bite. This time of year is when you can throw crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, flukes and an assortment of plastics. As the bass go into spawn mode, the occasional storm that passes through will not send them deep again unless it’s a strong, long-lasting one. It will almost seem like multiple spawning events if this happens. But so far the weather gurus are predicting a warm winter and that will mean good early fishing. I, as well as many others, have already been spending time on the

The author says dropshot plastics are an enticing meal for prespawn bass. (BILL SCHAEFER)

water. But now’s also a good time to oil and prep all your reels with new line. You don’t want some old, dried-out line on when you hook that wallhanger of a lifetime. And the spawn is when it might happen, as the odds increase with all the big mama bass in the shallows. Again, cranks can be good lure options this time of year, with crawdad patterns in red and green solid choices. The bass need nourishment for their spawn. I like spinnerbaits

this time of year as well. A small ball of shad that the willows can emulate is always a target of largemouth. Dropshot-rigged shad-type plastics can also fill this same scenario and catch a lot of males roaming the shallows. Don’t forget those trout-imitating swimbaits either, as there are still some rainbows roaming the lake from winter plants. Get ready; here comes the new bass spawning season. Don’t get caught off guard. CS | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


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FISHING Couples who fish together stay together, especially if the wife lets her husband reel in her big salmon (though he better not lose it!). Nancy and author Dennis Dauble hold the 35-pound white-meated “ivory king” that highlighted a trip to British Columbia – and resolved a long-standing mystery for Dennis. (DENNIS DAUBLE)



t had been a busy morning of ignoring one solicitor call after another. Whether a request for a charitable or political donation, it seemed like everybody wanted money. “Ring, ring, ring!” I was ready to jerk the phone out of the wall, but the caller ID number looked familiar, so I took a chance and picked up. “Robin and I got a deal on a condo next to the one we own in Telegraph

Cove,” BT said. “You and Nancy are welcome to use it when we head up there in June.” Unlike a random call from a cruise ship outfit, this vacation package had no strings attached! I’d been dreaming of a return trip to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island since fishing the calm waters of Barkley Sound nearly a decade ago. As evidence of my longing, a pile of faded brochures gleaned from sportsmen’s shows had taken over a corner of my desk,

Affixed to every fishing vest the author has owned since he was 14 is this button he received on a charter boat in the mid-1960s after catching a 35-pound Chinook, the meat of which was white – and suspected of being halibut after a local butcher cut and wrapped it. (DENNIS DAUBLE) | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


FISHING while “early bird specials” popped up on weekly email updates from Canadian fishing lodges. However, one issue hampered my planning. “You’re not going on another trip with your buddies until you take me,” Nancy often reminded me. With that edict, my challenge was finding a perfect locale. Nancy and I had reached the age where bunking with a pack of booze-loving rowdies or sharing a bathroom down the hall was not worth the trouble. I imagined a setting where I could jerk halibut, salmon and rockfish to my heart’s content, and afterwards retire to a lodge with all the comforts of home – all of which didn’t cost an arm and a leg. The morning phone call from BT answered my every wish.

HISTORIC TELEGRAPH COVE Telegraph Cove, a tiny seaside village (population 20) on the northeast side of northern Vancouver Island, bustles with tourist activities each summer, including whale watching, sea kayaking, hiking, fishing, diving and grizzly bear tours. It got its name in 1912 as the northern terminus for a telegraph line from Campbell River, and was once the site of a lumber mill and salmon saltery, in addition to serving as a relay station in World War II. The area of upper Johnstone Strait is homeland to the Kwakwaka’waka First Nation, who migrated here 9,000 years ago, and is where the Broughton Achipelago, BC’s largest marine park and accessible only by boat, is located. Also nearby are the famous orca rubbing beaches of Robson Bight. Each year millions of salmon funnel through the inside of Vancouver Island on their way to spawning grounds that include the Canada’s Fraser River and Washington’s Puget Sound streams. Halibut, lingcod and rockfish are also here for the catching, with ample guide services available in the larger ports. Telegraph Cove Resort showcases

Sunsets last forever when you visit the relatively high latitude of northern Vancouver Island during the last week in June. The community of Telegraph Cove serves as a base for salmon and bottomfishing adventures, as well as wildlife watching trips. (DENNIS DAUBLE)

two boat launches and a sheltered marina accommodating 140 boats up to 25 feet long (telegraphcoveresort .com). The nearby RV park has 48 fully serviced sites with marina and ocean views. A short stroll leads to The Forest Campground and its 100 serviced sites, as well as laundromat, showers and sani-dump. You can also unwind along Telegraph Cove’s historic boardwalk, visit one of three dockside eateries and watch extended sunsets from a rented historic home, cozy cabin or modern condominium suite. On our brief visit, we saw humpback whales, orcas, white-sided dolphins, nesting bald eagles, a sea lion rookery, and tidal shear vortices. We also heard the twisted tale of Double Bay, where a man cut up his wife and disposed of her body parts in his wood stove.

A FISHING STORY It is the last day of an idyllic trip, one largely spent trolling for salmon from the comfort of BT’s 24-foot cabin-over, fully enclosed Weldcraft, and accompanied by his wife Rob-

120 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

in and their three dogs: Crystal, Rio and Lobo. With two halibut flopping in the box, I hope to top off Nancy and my take-home cooler with tasty rockfish and lingcod. I pull out my favorite surfperch outfit, an 8-foot “Whuppin’ Stick,” but unfortunately, I have neglected to refill the spinning reel after leaving several yards of monofilament line dangling on a rock outcrop. This shortcoming becomes evident when I drop a 3-ounce Crippled Herring down to 100 feet and detect empty space on the spool. The good news is that 2-pound black rockfish do not take out drag. After catching my fill, I hand the rod to Nancy. “There’s not much line on the reel” are my only words of advice. Five minutes later she is fast into a large fish. “It feels like a big one,” she remarks, when her rod doubles over. “Be careful. You don’t have much line left on the reel,” I remind her. “I think it’s a halibut by the way the rod tip is bouncing around,” BT chimes in. “Either that or she’s



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Brett Tiller – who hosted and floated the Daubles out of he and his wife Robin’s Telegraph Cove condo – holds up two nice halibut taken from a day of jigging. (DENNIS DAUBLE)

bouncing around.” “I’m more worried about how much line is on the reel,” I reply, standing by nervously. “It’s too big. I can’t reel,” Nancy says. “Here, you take the rod.” I am more than happy to help; however, the taking of a rod does not come without liability, as I quickly find out. “You better not lose it,” Nancy declares when she sits down, as if threatening me will improve my angling prowess. “Nice head shakes,” BT says. “It must be a big ling.” Meanwhile, the mystery fish dives straight to the bottom, taking me down to six wraps of line. Do the math. Six wraps on a 3-inch diameter spool equal 5 feet of line. Still, I dare not tighten the drag after a quick test finds the mono strung tighter than Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar. I crank up with purpose and retrieve a spare yard or two. Sensing

pressure, the fish dives to the bottom again, this time to a nervous three wraps on the spool. “We need to chase this fish,” I plead to BT. Nancy quickly chimes in: “Can we go over by him?” “No way. We don’t chase bottomfish,” BT replies. Luckily the mystery fish pauses long enough for me to retrieve enough line to feel comfortable. The suspense on what is attached to the end of the line builds, along with more advice from the peanut gallery. “Don’t bust the line.” “Are you sure you have the drag set right?” “You’re milking it.” I finally work the fish close. BT hangs over the gunnel with gaff in hand. “I see color,” he yells. But like most big fish hooked at depth, this one does not want to “come into the light.” The drag on my spinning reel screams when the fish

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FISHING makes yet another downward run. “It’s a frickin’ salmon!” BT yells when I finally bring the fish close enough for a look. Dropping the gaff, he goes for the net. “No way,” Robin yells when a fat, chrome-bright 35-pound Chinook is safely netted and brought on board. Upon returning to the dock to process our catch we find that Nancy’s “Tyee” is a rare and highly valued “ivory king,” what some anglers call a “white Chinook.” I’d heard rumors of their existence, but passed the idea off as anglers ignorant that salmon with pale-colored flesh were too close to spawning to warrant keeping. But how is it that chrome-sided, ocean-fresh, sea-lice-hanging Chinook salmon have white flesh? According to fisheries scientists, orange flesh color results from the metabolizing of natural-occurring pigments found in a crustacean diet of shrimp, krill and crabs. Ivory kings have white flesh because they lack the genetic ability to store carotenoids – fat-soluble pigments – in their muscle cells. Because this characteristic is a dominant genetic trait, the vast majority of Chinook

GETTING THERE: TELEGRAPH COVE The northern tip of Vancouver Island is a fair distance to travel, especially coming from California, but can be worth making. Among the options are nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then either renting a car there and catching the Nanaimo ferry to the island or hopping aboard a flight to Port Hardy and renting a car to drive down to nearby Telegraph Cove. Another option is flying direct from San Francisco to Victoria, BC, which is at the south end of the island, and proceeding from there in either a rental car or catching a connecting flight to Port Hardy and picking up a car there. Coming from the United States, you’ll need a valid passport, and knowing the items that must be declared will smooth

No, not a halibut fillet, but the flesh color and flavor of an ivory king is unlike that of other fresh-caught ocean Chinook salmon. (DENNIS DAUBLE)

salmon have orange-colored flesh. The remaining 5 to 30 percent, depending on the river, have an ivory or marbled flesh color. Many gastronomes consider ivory kings to be oilier and tastier, even though their flesh is identical to red kings in composition of lipids, moisture content, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. In past years, ivory kings could be purchased at a bargain price. Customers are now willing to pay more for this coveted fish. Interestingly, ivory kings are also purported to fight differently than their orange-meated counter-

parts. Some anglers say they tend to sound or swim straight down rather than take off on long searing runs. Nancy’s Tyee reinforced that belief. It repeatedly dove to 100 feet, as measured by the amount of the line left on my reel.

your entry. (My son and I were once pulled over for having roasted pumpkin seeds.) If you decide to drive, Telegraph Cove is four hours from Nanaimo and five and a half hours from Victoria. Consider taking the scenic Oceanside Route (Highway 19A) from Nanaimo to Parksville. Join in the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition there, visit the Cathedral Grove, or hike up Mount Arrowsmith. The next spur in Highway 19 takes you to the west side of Vancouver Island and Port Alberni, where hordes of eager anglers descend upon Barkley Sound and its abundant runs of sockeye, coho and Chinook. Continue on Highway 4 to the ports of Ucluelet and Bamfield and pristine coastal waters teeming with barn-door halibut, salmon and marine wildlife. Traffic slows an hour and 40 minutes down the road from Nanaimo at Campbell River. The Seymour Narrows, just north of

here, is known as a “virtual salmon highway,” where all five Pacific species pass through from April through October. Visit the First Nations gallery to learn about the history, art and mythology of the region’s first inhabitants. Relax in the bustling setting where author Roderick Haig Brown penned two dozen books about fly fishing and conservation. On a modern note, the local Walmart provides a convenient opportunity to load up on provisions. Traffic north of the Campbell River is generally light, although logging trucks, poky RVs and blacktail deer can slow the pace. The narrow highway corridor is lined with cedar, fir and alder so thick you can take two steps and disappear, so be careful on potty breaks. Lupine, fireweed and daisies pepper the road edge. Snow-shrouded peaks show in the distance. Hand-written signs point to off-themain adventures. –DD

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THE REST OF THE STORY The following day, looking out the window of the Queen of Alberni as we steamed back to mainland BC, I reflected back to late summer 1965, when Dad booked a charter boat trip for he and I out of Ilwaco, Washington. I was 14 years old at the time.

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FISHING We ate greasy fish and chips in a dockside restaurant, spent a restless night in a cheap hotel and arrived dockside before dawn. Eager anglers milled about our 12-pack party boat. There was the raucous squawk of circling gulls, while the scent of diesel fumes and rotting fish mixed with cool salt air. I had no idea what to expect, having had no previous experience fishing out of a boat. Our craft exited the crowded harbor accompanied by a flotilla of recreational anglers, crossed the Columbia River bar, where waves and current mix, and then we mooched whole herring off the side of the boat. Giant swells soon turned my stomach into knots. I recall a morning spent below the deck puking into a plastic bucket. “Big king! Big king!” the skipper yelled when I returned to my station and hooked up with a salmon. There’s the scream of my Penn level-

wind, the image of a huge fish showing at the surface and the dull thud of a wooden club on its toothy head after it was netted. I staggered off the boat holding a 35-pound Chinook. Dry land never felt so good. With only a pocketknife to our name, Dad and I turned the salmon over to the town butcher for processing. His carving prowess resulted in a pile of fish steaks wrapped in slick Kraft paper. Imagine my surprise when I thawed out a package from our rented freezer a few weeks later to find a white-meated king! The only plausible explanation was someone had swapped out my precious 35-pounder with a halibut. When confronted, the butcher denied culpability. A half century later, I had forgotten about that giant salmon of mine until the moment I laid the flat blade of my 16-inch filet knife across the backbone of Nancy’s ivory king. How strange that some insights come to you like a swift rap on the side of

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your noggin, while other revelations require an unspecified gestation period. Still, 52 years is a long time for me to hold a grudge against a small-town butcher who really did not substitute halibut for salmon. It took a second 35-pound Chinook, albeit one caught several decades later and more than 300 miles to the north-northwest, for me to make the connection. But it only proves that the more you fish, the more you learn. A visit to Vancouver Island is about more than catching trophy salmon and halibut. It’s experiencing a family vacation destination with abundant history, beautiful scenery and wonderful people. Don’t be like me and wait for a random phone call to spur action. CS Editor’s note: Dennis Dauble is author of the natural history guidebook Fishes of the Columbia Basin and two short-story collections: The Barbless Hook and One More Last Cast. Contact him at


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Bundled up and traversing steep terrain on stressed-out horses? Welcome to ibex hunting in Kyrgyzstan, where Brad Jannenga (above) tried to match author and girlfriend Brittany Boddington’s earlier harvest, detailed last issue. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

By Brittany Boddington


yrgyzstan is an incredible hunting destination for its famous Marco Polo sheep as well as the mid-Asian ibex. The latter animal was what we were after on our trip to this isolated country in the Tian Shan Mountains not far from the western border of China. I got lucky on my ibex and managed to harvest a nice big male in the beginning of the trip (California Sportsman, January 2018), but now | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


Boddington was mostly an observer during this stretch of the hunt in this mountainous central Asian nation. Staying warm was a priority as the thermometer plummeted and snow fell. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

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it was my boyfriend Brad Jannenga’s turn. As it turned out, his ibex was not quite so simple to harvest.

THE WEATHER BEGAN CHANGING rapidly. We were moving our tent camp every day and packing up every morning at 4 a.m. to ride in the dark for hours on end in subfreezing conditions. Everyone started to get sick and the guides were running out of food. We started sharing our food and fire with them when their supplies ran low. The plan also became a moving target; no matter what we decided to do that morning, it would change three times by noon. The difficult conditions made things challenging but the scenery made up for it. The landscape was breathtaking and there was nothing for as far as the eye could see in every direction. The horses were tired and cold. They got little break from their sweaty saddles and started to get more stubborn as the days wore on. There were ibex everywhere, but as we rode through the valleys and spotted them they also spotted us from the very tops of rocky cliffs that reared 1,000 yards straight above us. We decided to divide and conquer so Brad would have a better chance of harvesting an ibex. When we would get to a good lookout spot, I would stay behind with the extra packhorses and Brad would go to the top with Bill the camera guy, and our translator and the guide. It cut the group from six horses to four, which made it easier to make a stalk. On one particular stalk we got to the base of a nice peak that was a good lookout point. I stayed behind in the valley with the extra packhorse, my horse and all of our luggage. Brad set out toward the top. They caught a glimpse of ibex at the top of the mountain as they went around a ridge, so they decided to follow them on foot for around a half-mile, glassing as they went. But they could only close the gap to | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


around 700 yards due to the shape of the mountain ridge. Brad is pretty comfortable with his gun, but a 700-yard shot is pushing it, and then it started to snow. Between the snow and the wind he felt that shooting from 700 yards was not a good idea. The guide was pretty annoyed; he wanted Brad to try it and kept telling him to shoot, but the shot didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel ethical. Even if he had hit it, the recovery and follow-up would be next to impossible. Brad decided to pass on the sleeping frontal shot on the ibex from 700 yards. The guide never really forgave him.

I WAS IN THE bottom of the valley waiting for about an hour before the weather got really ugly. I had all my layers on but could feel myself start to freeze, so I dug out some of

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Just as they have for the Kyrgyz people who have lived here for uncounted centuries, horses provided the best transport around these high valleys and mountains for the hunters. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

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Horse and hunter take a break during the physically and mentally draining adventure. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Brad’s extra layers and started putting them on until I began to look like a sumo wrestler. The snow started falling fast. It began with a few specks and then went to near whiteout conditions in minutes. I grabbed the important bags and hunkered down behind a giant boulder so I was out of most of the wind, although it caught and swirled in my hiding spot to create a fine layer of snow on everything, including my eyelashes. It would be a while before Brad got another opportunity. We went days and nights in the cold – never really warming up – and our poor cameraman was getting very sick, with flu-like symptoms. After we woke up one morning listening to everyone cough, Brad and I looked at each other and decided that if he didn’t get something

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today, we would pull the plug for the greater good and finish the hunt from base camp, if possible. That day we climbed up a frozen valley in some of the most slippery and terrifying ice I have ever seen, let alone ridden a horse in. There were frozen waterfalls from a once cascading mountain stream that we crossed on horses, which slipped and tripped and had me holding my breath most of the way up. The whole time I kept thinking how awful it would be to go back down. Above the valley I got to play the waiting game again as the guys took off toward the top of the mountain in hopes of catching sight of an ibex. After going through a few saddles they finally located two males feeding and one sleeping on the top of a ridgeline that was below the ridge the guys were on.

Jannenga’s patience to pass up a long shot in the snow finally paid off, leaving him with a lasting memory from this unknown but magical destination. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

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Everyone had to rock climb around the face of the mountain to get a better view and make sure that the males were mature. Then they found the best spot they could, though it was still pretty precarious. Brad got set up with one bipod leg fully extended and one as short as possible and perched himself on a rock in the most uncomfortable shooting position imaginable. Fortunately, the ibex had no idea they were there, so he could take his time to got as steady a rest as possible. The shot went off and all three ibex took off, but the animals assumed it had come from below, so they ran uphill toward the hunters. The ibex went out of sight and then came back into view while coming straight at Brad, who had lost sight of his ibex. “Which one?” he called out to the guide, but the language barrier prevented an answer. Thankfully, Bill was rolling on the camera and called back, “The middle one,” so Brad took a second shot at the ibex in a frontal position and anchored it in place. From below I heard a shot go off and breathed a sigh of relief. But with the second, I heard a distinct hit, a sound I knew meant that we could go home soon. It also meant we had a long ride back to base camp, but at that point I would have ridden all night if it meant that I could get warm.

BRAD AND I HAD an incredible adventure and most our stories now start with “that one time in Kyrgyzstan.” I am thrilled that we both got our animals, but even if we had come up empty-handed, the experience would still have been something truly remarkable. I’m definitely not done hunting in Asia, but perhaps next time I’ll pack a bit more food and warm clothes. CS Editor’s note: For more on hunter, journalist and adventurer Brittany Boddington, check out and 138 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2018 |

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HUNTING Dog vests serve many purposes, including protection from sharp grass and pointed objects, and they provide warmth and offer visibility. Here, author Scott Haugen’s pudelpointer Echo retrieves a goose in icy conditions while wearing a camouflage neoprene vest. (SCOTT HAUGEN)


By Scott Haugen


y wife and I have been married for 27 years, and we’ve always had a lap dog. Growing up, Tiffany had small dogs, and like many young girls, she loved dressing them up. She even dressed up our lap dogs on holidays. But when we brought gun dogs into the family, I told her the dress-up days were over. Rather quickly, however, things changed. Before I knew it, at nine weeks old, some of our pups were wearing pullovers! These were pups we were training for other people, and it was winter. The pups were noticeably cold when outside, and there’s no doubt that dressing them up in warm clothes helped keep them comfortable, which allowed us to spend our basic training time more efficiently.

WE DRESSED OUR latest pup Kona in vests to get him used to wearing hunting vests later in life, both for water-

fowl and upland birds. But he was leery of things moving around him when he was young. At four months, when I started hunting quail with him and running him through Scotch broom and vine maple thickets, he sometimes became apprehensive. Tiffany came up with the idea of sewing loose pieces of material to the dog vest and running him in the fields. Kona didn’t like it at first, but it worked to get him used to it. On the next hunt, a few days after wearing his moving-parts vest, Kona did great, focusing on the birds and not the brush. One day, at five months old, he tangled with a big, mature male. His wounds didn’t require stitches, just ointment and bandages. But the bandages were in a bad spot and wouldn’t stay on. One bite was on the front of the chest, the other on the underside of a front leg. We had to shave the areas and apply ointment, and Kona kept wanting to lick them. Putting a snug shirt on Kona kept the bandages in place and prevented him from

licking and further irritating the areas. They quickly healed up.

MY 4-YEAR-OLD DOG Echo didn’t do well on a pheasant hunt a couple years ago, when she wore a new vest. The vest fit her well and was easy to see, but she just didn’t hunt right. It took me a while to figure out the vest was very noisy when Echo moved through dry habitat. She didn’t like that. I took it off and she instantly started hunting like her usual self. At home, I washed the vest to soften it up, and trained with Echo wearing it in short- and medium-height grass habitats. She did great, and soon we were back in the tall, dry brush, where she excelled. My mistake was not having practiced with the new vest before going on an actual hunt. I’ve learned now how sensitive dogs can be to things. The fact that Echo grew up wearing clothes helped make her vest-wearing experiences simple. Tiffany even gets the dogs Halloween costumes, which may not fit the mold of most | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


HUNTING Getting pups accustomed to clothing is an important part of their development, and you can start very young. This will make the transition to wearing hunting vests go more smoothly. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

gun-dog owners, but I don’t mind them wearing something, as it keeps them conditioned to new things. And the more moving parts there are on these costumes, the better. It gets the dogs used to wearing vests, working around moving brush, even retrieving big birds like geese and fall turkeys, which have necks, wings and tails that flail all over the place.

DRESSING GUN DOGS up may not be on most owners’ list of things to do with their hunting pups, but there is value in it. Whether it helps in healing wounds, or gets your dog used to wearing neoprene waterfowl vests, early dress-up days will make the transitions smoother. Puppy clothes can be bought or homemade. My wife made our pups’ clothes from old baby clothes she had saved from when our sons were little. Kona, our 70-pound pudelpointer, now wears kids pajamas that my wife tailored to fit him.

Nine to 10 weeks old isn’t too early to introduce your puppy to clothes. Don’t make a big deal of it, and don’t laugh or be loud if the dog reacts out of character, as this can scar them. When introducing clothes and hunting vests, make sure to keep the experience fun and positive. It

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will pay dividends down the road. CS Editor’s note: To watch Scott Haugen’s series of puppy training videos, visit Haugen is the host of The Hunt, on Netflix. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter | FEBRUARY 2018 California Sportsman


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