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Sportsman

California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 2 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 Mark Fong, Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, Todd Kline, Bill Schaefer, Mike Stevens SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

Kelly Baker

DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines OFFICE MANAGER/ACCOUNTING Audra Higgins ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Sauro INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn CIRCULATION MANAGER Heidi Belew ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@calsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE Email ccocoles@media-inc.com Twitter @CalSportsMan Facebook.com/californiasportsmanmagazine ON THE COVER With snow soon returning to the Eastern Sierra as winter nears, most of summer’s hottest trout fishing spots will be closed, but several rivers and streams remain open throughout the high country’s offseason for anglers willing to bundle up to catch some really nice trout. (SIERRA DRIFTERS GUIDE SERVICE) MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP CALIFORNIA OFFICE 4517 District Blvd. • Bakersfield, CA 93313 (661) 381-7533 WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com

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CONTENTS

VOLUME 10 • ISSUE 2 (CHRIS COCOLES)

FEATURES 61

GEAR CHECK FOR WATERFOWLERS The right decoy can make all the difference for waterfowl hunters hoping to draw in mallards, pintails or geese. But a decoy is a decoy, isn’t it? No, says Field to Fire columnist Scott Haugen, who breaks down the best of the best gear as the seasons really get cranking this month. And once you’ve upped your game, Tiffany Haugen has a peanut-flavored duck dish for all the birds you’ll be bagging.

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STRUCK BY LIGHTNING Chris Lovera and his young children just wanted to hike and camp at the beautiful lakes and forests of Sequoia National Park, but instead they got a major scare and an emergency flight to a Fresno hospital after they were struck by lightning. Tim Hovey has the details of the Loveras’ ordeal.

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107 HAVE TROUT WILL TRAVEL Most of the Eastern Sierra’s lakes, ponds and creeks will shut down until April halfway through the month, but fear not troutheads: Our Mike Stevens has all the Mono County locations, including Hot Creek, and the Upper Owens and East Walker Rivers, that are open for (mostly catch-and-release options) for winter fishing.

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FOLLOW THE YELLOWTAIL ROAD Did you check the temperatures in Southern California as the Dodgers hosted the first game of the World Series in Los Angeles? A 103-degree first pitch may not scream October and “Fall Classic,” but the continued hot weather is great news for yellowtail fishing, which should continue well into November, as Bill Schaefer explains.

A SNAPPING GOOD TIME

Editor Chris Cocoles traveled about 12 hours by plane from San Francisco to New Zealand, and while trout fishing is considered that country’s biggest gift to anglers, the island nation of 4.4 million features some spectacular saltwater opportunities, which our intrepid adventurer discovered in the Bay of Islands region.

DEPARTMENTS 13 51 51 52 57

The Editor’s Note: The tragic wine country fires Protecting Wild California: Stiffer punishments for big game poachers Outdoor calendar Adventures of Todd Kline: US Open at Lake Mead Photo contest winners

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 35 71 85 115

Disabled veteran, outdoorsman gives back to other wounded warriors Rattler on a cracker? Unusual holiday game dishes Hazards to watch for on your pup’s first wild bird hunt The simple joys of panfishing San Diego lakes

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

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THEEDITOR’SNOTE Fires that raged through the north Bay Area – such as Napa County’s Nuns Fire – killed 43 and affected many others. (LANCE CHEUNG/USDA)

W

hen I traveled to New Zealand early in October and got to experience some of that beautiful country’s outstanding saltwater fishing (see page 17), the news back home went from worse to horrible. Upon landing at Auckland Airport and checking my phone, I learned of the senseless mass shooting in Las Vegas. Not halfway into our trip, my travel buddy’s wife gave us more lousy news, this time closer to home: Santa Rosa and so much of wine country in Napa and Sonoma Counties was burning. Everyone who lived in the area seemed to be affected. A friend of my New Zealand pal lost his Santa Rosa home. My aunt and uncle in Sonoma didn’t lose their home but voluntarily evacuated after one blaze threatened the city. Speaking of Sonoma, Santa Rosa native and sportsman Andy Wahl, whose Ammunition Wine Company was featured in our magazine in September, also experienced some scary moments as the fires burned. “Lots of damage to friends’ and family homes, but thankfully a lot of people were able to evacuate in time; the harvest was nearly done to alleviate damage to any grapes/vines and wines,” Wahl told me. From a conservation perspective, the Napa-based Silverado Fisheries Base’s population of salmon and trout was spared. But who knows how much long-term effects there will be on the region’s flora and fauna. Peter Tira, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife information officer for the region, said it appears wildlife and habitat in the area was mostly spared any major damage, but that with several roads still closed more analysis needs to be done to measure the full impact of the fires. And like so many people with ties to Napa and Sonoma Counties, Tira’s in-laws lost their home. Worse still, over 40 died in the fires. Condolences to everyone in that area and here’s hoping for some better headlines this month. -Chris Cocoles calsportsmanmag.com | NOVEMBER 2017 California Sportsman

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MIXED BAG

FISHIN’ WITH THE KIWIS In northern New Zealand’s stunning Bay of Islands area, the Pacific Ocean’s bounty of fish, mostly snapper, appeased the author and the rest of the charter during an October outing. (CHRIS COCOLES)

ANGLING OPTIONS ABOUND IN NEW ZEALAND, EDITOR ABROAD DISCOVERS By Chris Cocoles

R

USSELL, New Zealand— If I came for the trout, I left with the snapper. New Zealand called me for many reasons during an early October visit: mild weather, whitewater rafting, worldclass wine and some of the friendliest

locals on Earth to share a pint with. But while I anticipated any fishing I’d do would be on some crisp freshwater lake for the country’s iconic rainbows and at a cost that would inflate an already ballooning travel budget, my inner angler was satisfied and made possible by a skipper who I’m positive hasn’t walked on dry land in 50 years.

Here I was – a couple days off a 12hour flight from San Francisco – boarding Capt. Jeff Crooks’ boat with Spot-X Fishing Charters on a sun-splashed spring afternoon so far from home. Soon I’d forget about booking a trout trip and would be reeling in supper in the form of snapper from the Pacific Ocean and having the time of my life.

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MIXED BAG Timing, circumstances and cost prevented me from getting a chance to fish any of New Zealand’s famed waters for trout. But during our quick one-night stay around Lake Taupo, a Tahoe-style resort on the North Island between Auckland and the nation’s capital city of Wellington, I discovered that the expansive lake might as well be renamed Troutpo for its obsession with fishing and the outdoors. -Chris Cocoles

WELCOME TO TROUT TOWN 3 2

1

4

6 5

7

1) 2) 3, 4, 5) 6) 7, 8)

This fish statue graces the entrance to Taupo’s marina. (CHRIS COCOLES) Our hotel in Taupo, the Wellesley, was also home to the Lazy Trout Lounge. (CHRIS COCOLES) This outdoors store had a pretty awesome selection of gear for anglers and hunters. (CHRIS COCOLES) Lake Taupo, located inside the caldera of a volcano of the same name, is the country’s largest lake in terms of surface area (about 238 square miles). (CHRIS COCOLES) When you’re thirsty for a beer in this trout-tacular town, stop by the Crafty Trout Brewing Company. (CHRIS COCOLES)

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This secluded beach –charter skipper Capt. Jeff Crooks’ favorite – is one of just many dream destinations amid the coastal hideaways, mountains, forests, lakes and rivers that make New Zealand an outdoors lover’s paradise. (CHRIS COCOLES)

“WELCOME TO MY OFFICE,” Crooks said when I joined him on the bridge of the Spot-X. It’s hard to imagine a more spectacular view than from this workspace. New Zealand is blessed with some of the planet’s most diverse vistas – from snow-capped peaks, glaciers and fjords on the less populated South Island (we didn’t have near enough time to get there on this eight-day trip), to the pristine beaches, cozy fishing villages and vineyards of the North Island. Here in the far north of the country, Crooks pilots his fishing vessel through azure blue waters between a rocky archipelago known as the Bay of Islands, a popular getaway for residents of New Zealand’s largest metropolis of Auckland, a three-hour drive south. Crooks, a typically jovial “Kiwi” with a salt-and-pepper beard and spiked hair, was straight out of central casting for a grizzled seaman. “I was conceived on a boat,” he said, and you get the impression that he may not be joking. His dad was an accomplished sailor from Auckland who competed and won a prestigious competition, the almost 100-year-old Lipton Cup. It is New Zealand’s oldest yachting competition and features 22foot crafts – many that date back as old as the race itself – commonly known by locals as “mullet boats” (his father won the race in 1962 and Crooks was born in 1963, so do the math on buying that conceived-on-a-boat bit). “I knew that’s all I wanted to do,” Crooks said of having a life on the water. He too would follow in Dad’s 20 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

footsteps and win a Lipton Cup trophy himself. Crooks built wooden boats for a living but escaped the big city for the Bay of Islands eight years ago, and he’s been skippering this boat for the last few seasons. Katarina Jung and her family have owned Spot-X (fishspotx.co.nz) for the last year. They are Swedes who came to New Zealand on an entrepreneurial visa. “We started up a fishing shop in Russell, Screaming Reels (screamingreels.co.nz), and took over Spot-X, which had been operating in the bay for 16 years,” Jung says. “It had a very good reputation when we bought it and we work to keep that and improve it, giving the guests an unforgettable experience of the Bay of Islands.” Now if only more Americans would experience it. I was stunned when Crooks told me that only about 5 percent of his guests come from the U.S. “Mostly Aussies, but we get a lot of Germans and (other) Europeans,” he said. It’s difficult to envision anyone not being content to visit. Surely the Jungs were OK with trading the Nordic winters they endured to live here in the temperate climate of the South Pacific. On our way to the fishing grounds – these waters are also known for kingfish, marlin and tuna, the latter two of which are targeted on longer trips further offshore – Crooks motored us past his favorite (unnamed) beach. I could see why; it’s a magnificent stretch of white sand and crystal-clear blue water that Robinson Crusoe types might reconsider wanting rescue from.


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MIXED BAG Then he asked his seven passengers how many of us had been through the Hole in the Rock (Motu Kōkako as it’s known in the native Māori dialect), a 60-foot-tall opening on what the explorer Capt. James Cook renamed as Piercy Island upon his discovery of it in 1769. When the weather cooperates and the tides are right, boats both small and bigger can navigate through the hole, which we did to great enthusiasm from our party. (And when Crooks suggested we do it, I laughed and mentioned that earlier that same day my travel buddy Norv and I went through the hole when we took a dol-

Crooks was born to be on the water. “I was conceived on a boat,” he says. (CHRIS COCOLES)

phin-watching cruise and quick visit to a nature reserve, Urupukapuka Island.) Enough of the sightseeing, I thought. Let’s go fishing.

CATCHING SNAPPER IN THESE waters doesn’t require anything fancy. Crooks handed us all spincast rods with 50-pound test rigged with just a heavy sinker, a short leader and a hook. Our first spot was not far beyond the Hole in the Rock, around the other side of Cape Brett at the edge of the Bay of Islands. In about 90 feet of water, Crooks anchored the boat and pulled out a bag of cut squid, gave a 20-second tutorial on where to bait the hook, and we dropped down to the bottom, cranked up a few feet and waited. “I can’t guarantee you we’ll always catch a bunch of fish,” Crooks had told us earlier. “But I can guarantee you I won’t give up trying to catch a bunch of fish.” I was one of two Americans onboard. When I was first picked up as

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MIXED BAG the last passenger at the marina in Russell, I struck up a conversation with Ethan Gaddy, an 18-year-old who hails from North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He graduated high school in June and shortly thereafter flew to New Zealand and had been there since. By the time he’d left to go home Gaddy would have visited just about every major spot in a country of just about 4.4 million residents and comparable in size to Colorado. “Enjoy this while you can,” I told the teenager regarding his ability to travel for months at a time. The youngster of our group, 9-year-old Liam, a Kiwi, photo bomber and aspiring standup comedian who was visiting during a countrywide school holiday with his mom Jo, couldn’t stop grinning. My fellow Yank Gaddy talked about his experience tramping through the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, injuring his knee

Editor and author Chris Cocoles managed to catch this longfin perch, also known as a pink maomao to Kiwi anglers. (CHRIS COCOLES)

while snowboarding one of the South Island’s snowy peaks during the Southern Hemisphere winter – our summer – and pondering what was next once he gets back to the reality of life (though I became jealous again when he thought about trekking to Southeast Asia next whenever he could get away).

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An Australian couple on our boat fled the chaos of Sydney for smalltown life inland on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, not far from Melbourne but far enough away to enjoy the good life Down Under. Now in New Zealand, flanked by the rugged east coast of the North Island


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MIXED BAG Our boat took a trip through the Bay of Islands’ iconic Hole in the Rock, first spotted by explorer Capt. James Cook in 1769. (CHRIS COCOLES)

on one side and the endless waters of the Pacific on the other, they and the rest of us were catching fish. One guy behind me landed a feisty snapper a few minutes after we started to fish. I caught my first shortly thereaf-

ter. When little Liam reeled one up – assisted by Crooks – we all whooped and hollered for the kid. The skipper decided to change things up a little and we cruised closer to the rocky shoreline of Cape Brett,

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where various sea birds congregated. We anchored this time in far shallower water – about 27 feet to the bottom. Crooks also broke out tiny frozen baitfish to try. “Anchovies?” I asked. “That’s what you’d call them in the states,” the


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captain replied. I slipped one on and maybe two casts later, within seconds of my bait hitting bottom I felt the hardest tug yet. This snapper, my biggest of the day – maybe 5 pounds or so – gave me a little stronger fight. Earlier in the day I’d landed what’s known as a pink maomao (longfin perch), which is a type of sea bass and one that lives up to its colorful nickname; we also brought in two more odd species, a triggerfish and a moray eel. By the end of the day, we’d stacked the back of the Spot-X with a bunch of keeper snapper, my pink maomao and the triggerfish. Since I was the only member of this charter staying in Russell – the rest were headed back across the harbor to the bigger port of Paihia Between an Aussie angler ...

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... And North Carolina trekker Ethan Gaddy, there were plenty of fish to go around during the author’s charter fishing trip. (CHRIS COCOLES)

– Crooks headed into a cove and filleted the three snapper and maomao. Much to his delight, I brought back the fish for Norv and I to enjoy a delicious surf-and-turf meal cooked on a poolside grill (we had so many fillets we gave some to the motel manager). The sun was setting after a 70ish-degree October afternoon. I was sunburned, hungry and thirsty, but during a trip when I was rarely disappointed by the scenery, food, beer, wine and activities that included Class IV-plus whitewater rafting and a jet boat thrill ride, I wondered if the North Carolinian vagabond had the right idea to spend months in a land so beautiful, mystical and prehistoric it gave the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies quite the cinematic backdrop. Or maybe it was Crooks who has it made, even if he did admit his workday lasts from dawn until at least 10 p.m. Spend a week or so in New Zealand and you’ll agree it’s not a bad permanent gig. CS Editor’s note: Spot-X Fishing Charters offers a relative bargain in a country where few comparable activities are anything but cheap. A shared, up-to-eight-person, fourto five-hour fishing trip to catch snapper and possibly larger kingfish costs 110 New Zealand dollars – roughly $75 U.S. Check out fishspotx.co.nz/charters for more or like them at facebook.com/fishspotX.


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34 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


MIXED BAG

ON THE RECOVERY TRAIL

DISABLED VET FINDS PURPOSE TAKING FELLOW WARRIORS HUNTING AND FISHING By Chris Cocoles

T

he veteran that Brett Miller had taken on one of the fishing trips he leads for wounded warriors wasn’t exactly opening up about anything – not his experiences in combat or if he was even enjoying himself that day. Miller, himself a disabled veteran and founder of a Sisters, Oregon-based nonprofit, Warfighter Outfitters, understands that some of those recovering from a traumatic injury might not be willing to bare

For many wounded and/or disabled veterans, escaping to the outdoors has proven cathartic. An Oregon-based nonprofit, Warfighter Outfitters, took 2,000 on fishing trips free of charge last year. (WARFIGHTER OUTFITTERS)

calsportsmanmag.com | NOVEMBER 2017 California Sportsman

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MIXED BAG their soul right away, but this guy seemed content to not say anything. He’d been in trouble upon his return to civilian life and was in what’s known as Veteran’s Court when Miller signed over custody of the man and brought him along to fish in central Oregon, which he did without incident, but also without engaging in any conversation of any kind. “He just kept to himself and fished and was catching fish. A couple months went by and I asked him if he wanted to come to a fly fishing tournament with us.” Miller says. “We drove the whole way to New Mexico from Oregon – like 12 hours. Nothing. Didn’t say a word, not a peep. He was just a mannequin, a crash-test dummy.” Miller’s team finished second and took home a trophy, yet the man remained as stoic as ever, barely speaking on the entire drive to the Pacific Northwest. So whatever therapeutic value Miller’s efforts rubbed off on the man, he didn’t seem comfortable sharing them. A year went by before Miller heard from him again. “All of a sudden on social media, he hits me up and says thanks. ‘I bought a boat and now I’m taking guys fishing on it,’” Miller says. “You never know the impact of what one day or one trip will have.” It’s that kind of feel-good story that has given hope to Miller, who was lucky to survive a 2005 attack in Iraq that left him permanently disabled and questioning what value his life would have. It turns out there was quite a lot. Like so many of his comrades, he just had to find it again.

THREE OF MILLER’S PASSIONS LEFT him fulfilled for most of his life. He was an accomplished firefighter, having logged 17 years of service around his Oregon home since his teen years. His other love back home was the outdoors, and his hometown of Sisters, a tiny community about 30 minutes northwest of Bend, was surrounded by some of

Brett Miller (center) accepted his Wounded Warrior Project Courage Award in June in New York. He’s come a long ways since he essentially disappeared for over two years driving around the country seeking purpose in his life. (WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT)

the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular hunting and fishing grounds. But Miller was also dedicated to the military, having joined the Army National Guard in 1998 and getting the call to go to combat in Iraq in 2004. The life he once knew would soon change forever in one sudden burst. “There was a bomb that went off 6 feet from my (Humvee) door, and it made me blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and half-paralyzed on my

36 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

left side,” Miller says. “I had a pretty bad traumatic brain injury with a brain bleed. That was the end of my military and firefighting career.” His wounds were so severe he spent three years at a Palo Alto hospital and two more in outpatient treatment before he could be released. Miller spent countless hours in a bedridden haze. His physical injuries were obviously major, but it became more of a psychological chess match than anything


calsportsmanmag.com cals als al lsp po ortsma man m ma anm an mag. mag aag. ag g cco com om o m | NOVEMBER NO N O OVEMB VEMB MBEER MB R2 2017 01 017 0 17 1 Ca California Cal C a ifo or rni rn na S Sportsman por po p o ts tsm t s an

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MIXED BAG

Warfighter Outfitters sets up everything from fishing trips ...

else, not unlike so many others who’ve fought for the Stars and Stripes. “I think the physical standpoint is easier to deal with, because you

know what’s wrong and there’s a way to fix it,” he says. “But the mental (side), a traumatic brain injury and the psychological impact, is a lot

38 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

harder. You don’t have a litmus test to tell if you’re getting better or not.” As he had all the post traumatic stress symptoms, Miller was and is


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MIXED BAG ... To waterfowl and big game hunting outings. (WARFIGHTER OUTFITTERS)

against including the word disorder in what’s commonly referred to as PTSD among wounded or disabled veterans. He calls his condition a “very normal

reaction to a very abnormal situation.” With so much idle time in a hospital bed, it’s easy to think the worst. Everything Miller’s body allowed him

40 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

to do in the past was no longer feasible. The long road to recovery was full of curves, switchbacks and potholes. “I kind of took it for granted that


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MIXED BAG I was going to be a drifter and nomad. It was a career of 17 years of fighting fire, that’s gone and I can’t do that anymore,” he says. “It’s the only thing I knew how to do and liked to do. And I can’t do military anymore; that’s done and over. I thought I was going to be a mindless soul floating around life.” And like many disabled veterans, that’s exactly what Miller seemed to endure when he was finally released from the hospital. Miller says many in his shoes will go on “hiatus into the wilderness and try to find themselves.” He was no different. An avid motorcyclist, Miller bought a toy hauler for his truck, loaded his bikes in and drove Forrest Gump-style back and forth from the Pacific to the Atlantic three different times over two years. After spending so much time in hospitals, he was through taking orders from anyone else. His new

journey was one of self-discovery, reflection and pondering the future. “I lived in RV parks, I’d hang out in shady hole-in-the-wall bars and have greasy-spoon meals and I would just go explore. Just completely away from the public,” says Miller, who essentially became incognito, rarely if ever keeping contact with friends or family back home. He’d befriend a fellow RV park patron, but most were retired and spent their time playing bridge or canasta. Card games weren’t going to cut it for Miller. He knew that hunting, fishing and the outdoors remained a passion and that they offered him a chance to find some peace. “I went on a couple (fishing and hunting) trips (with veterans) and saw the therapeutic and physical value of it and thought, ‘I want to do that.’”

WHEN VETERANS COME HOME from combat, their physical and emotional scars are best shared with those who

can relate best: other veterans. For Miller, his time tramping the American highways was needed but not how he wanted to ultimately function. His love for escaping whatever demons might have been lurking with a hunting rifle and fly rod turned out to be the remedy he’d been looking for. “And like most of these guys, you’re basically starting life over and have to clean the slate. So I thought, if there’s one thing I wanted to do with my second life, I’d probably want to be a guide/outfitter,” Miller says. Of course, such an ambitious goal can be expensive, but with a few other veterans who also wanted to pursue the dream, Miller sold his Harley around 2013 or so, and eventually Warfighter Outfitters was born and began to thrive, thanks to the hard work of those who came aboard as well as generous donors. Disabled veterans from all over the country – Miller’s group has also

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MIXED BAG hosted participants from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom – have gone on excursions free of charge. There are plenty of viable options around the organization’s Oregon base for predator hunts, jet boat fishing trips for steelhead on the Deschutes River, and Miller says a few lucky wounded warriors will win a tag draw for bighorn sheep on the Deschutes and a special trip to Idaho’s Hells Canyon to hunt elk. “Last year alone, just on fishing trips we got over 2,000 veterans out,” says Miller, who’s done various trips in California as part of the organization. “We have about $400,000 worth of equipment and we’re operating some of the most expensive trips for civilians that are completely free for veterans.” In June, Miller traveled to New York to accept the top honor from the Wounded Warrior Project, the George C. Lang Award for Courage, for his contributions toward

“I have wives, mothers and other family members calling or dropping me an email saying, ‘Hey, you took my son or husband out last week, and he will not shut up about how much of a good time he’s had,’” Miller says. “I definitely know it’s affirmation that we’re doing the right thing.” (WARFIGHTER OUTFITTERS)

helping his fellow soldiers who were injured on the battlefield. These days, nothing gets Miller more excited than the camaraderie he

feels when everyone gets together. “It gets to the point where every day, I can almost clock it depending on the conversation; people will re-

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ally start talking about the nitty gritty and the things that are bugging them and how to deal with family or relationships,” Miller says. “But on that drive to the event, by the time we hit the boat ramp, all these strangers you’d swear are now complete best friends and have been all their lives.” It might not be the end-all “cure” for those troubled by their battlefield injuries, but it’s a positive step in the right direction. Miller can cite multiple cases of success from the downtrodden and depressed who have hitched a ride to a river or a duck blind. Miller’s former commanding officer turned to the bottle after his return and nearly lost everything. But after bonding on a trip with Miller, the officer finally sought the help he was looking for and is now thriving in Montana as an outdoors writer and marathon runner. Whenever a wife, girlfriend, parent or friend calls or emails Miller thanking him for giving a disabled or wounded veteran a reason to be happy and optimistic, Miller feels like he’s helping others figure out a purpose in life he once couldn’t seem to find. “I definitely know it’s affirmation that we’re doing the right thing,” he says. “You really don’t know how bad you’ve got it until someone else in the boat or truck has got it 10 times worse. It gives you a little more clarity and perspective. Maybe things aren’t so bad. ‘This guy’s missing both legs and he’s wading in a middle of a river swinging a fly for steelhead.’ And then that person who sees that and experiences it, he then becomes more of a caregiver mode of, ‘I want to help.’” “The biggest thing I’ve found is I’ve learned more about my own recovery helping others than I have being part of a recovery process.” CS Editor’s note: For more info and to donate, go to warfighteroutfitters. org and like at facebook.com/ warfighteroutfitters. 46 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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PROTECTING

NEW LAW MEANS STIFFER FINES FOR THOSE WHO POACH TROPHIES By Chris Cocoles

C

alifornia is cracking down on those who poach trophy big game, hitting the pocketbook of those who illegally take the largest animals in the herds even harder. The enhanced penalties went into effect this past July and are a result of new laws passed by state legislators, and which were supported by hunting and other organizations. Under Fish and Game Code section 12013.3, any violation involving trophy-caliber deer, elk, pronghorn or bighorn sheep will be subject to no less than $5,000 in fines (while not exceeding $40,000). For wild turkey, it’s a $2,000 minimum and $5,000 maximum financial penalty. A trophy deer is defined statewide as any buck with four or more points on

WILD CALIFORNIA

either antler, or an outside spread of at least 16 inches in Zones A, B1-B6, D10, D11, D13, D15 and D16 and 22 inches in all other units across the state. For elk, a trophy bull is one with at least five points on one side, while for pronghorns it’s a buck with a horn of at least 14 inches in length. “Unlawfully targeting animals for their trophy qualities is an egregious violation,” said David Bess, CDFW’s deputy director and chief law enforcement czar. “Under the enhanced penalties of this law, the punishment will more closely match the severity of these types of poaching crimes.” The new regulations have already burned a hole in the wallet of one poacher. In July, Yuba City’s Garrett Thomas Peacock was sentenced to pay $5,150 for shooting a trophy deer in a Colusa County orchard.

Anyone who poaches a four-point buck – now classified as a trophy-class animal – faces an enhanced $5,000 minimum fine when convicted of the crime. (CDFW)

After officers received information through the CALTIP hotline (888-3342258), it was determined that Peacock didn’t have the necessary tag, and the investigation found evidence that he purchased one after he shot the deer. “The first case adjudicated after the trophy law took effect exemplifies the potential benefits this enhancement law could have on wildlife protection,” Bess said. The law is similar to those in place elsewhere in the West. CS

OUTDOOR CALENDAR NOVEMBER 4 4 4-5

First Imperial County white goose opener Tentative Dungeness crab opener Collins Lake Tournament of Champions; http://anglerspress.com/ anglers-press-events/anglers-press-norcal-trout-challenge.html 5 Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Colorado River and Balance of State Zones scaup openers 8 First North Coast Canada goose opener 8-19 Northeastern California antlerless elk season 11 Stanislaus River Salmon Festival; facebook.com/SRSFest 11 Statewide pheasant opener 11 Fall wild turkey opener 11 Second dove opener 15 Last day of Ambush at the Lake Derby, Convict Lake; monocounty.org/ event/ambush-at-the-lake/6479/ 21-29 Fort Hunter Liggett archery-only antlerless elk season

DECEMBER 2 16 23 24 31 31

Bighorn sheep hunting season opens in several units Bighorn sheep opener in Zone 5 (San Gorgonio) Northeastern Zone late scaup season opens Statewide pheasant season ends Last day of general bear hunting season Last day a 2017 fishing or hunting license is valid

The final day of Convict Lake’s Ambush at the Lake Derby is Nov. 15. (MONO COUNTY TOURISM)

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

51


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

I competed at the U.S. Open at Nevada’s Lake Mead. Unfortunately, my catch just missed the cutoff for checks. There were 208 boats and they paid through 41. Yes, I was 42nd! (TODD KLINE) Sunrise finds a flotilla of bass boats ready for action. (TODD KLINE)

It’s amazing the number of random critters you see on Lake Mead. Here is a very healthy bull out in the middle of nowhere. (TODD KLINE)


The narrows at Lake Mead. (TODD KLINE)

Back to Japan! Surfers from 41 nations competed in the 2017 ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. Team USA took home the gold! I was there announcing/commentating the event. (TODD KLINE)

The Japanese island of Kyushu is beautiful. The ocean is pristine and there are many rivers in the region that provide great fishing. (TODD KLINE)

Here’s one of the streams on Kyushu, which is the southernmost of the four major islands that make up Japan. (TODD KLINE)

One of the best parts of visiting Asia is the food, especially the street food. This is a squid stand. (TODD KLINE)


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PHOTO CONTEST

WINNERS!

Ceci Sittser’s photo of daughter Ysa and her nice Chinook is this issue’s Fishing Photo Contest winner! It wins her a pile of loot from the overstuffed office of our editor!

Bart Olson’s pic of daughter Madelynn and her southeast Washington whitetail buck is this issue’s Browning Photo Contest winner. It wins him a Browning hat.

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

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NORCAL A wind-aided decoy that’s greatly impressed the author with its performance is this one, made by Revolution Waterfowl. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

FROM FIELD ...

BE COY WITH YOUR DUCK DECOYS THE BEST PRODUCTS TO ATTRACT BIRDS TO YOUR BLIND By Scott Haugen

W

aterfowl season is upon us, but if you’re like me the search for the perfect gear never stops. Last season I tried out a lot of new gear, in many places, and I’m using some of it again this year. I’m not much of a gadget guy, but if I find something that works, I’ll keep using it. These pieces of gear are worth considering.

DAZZLING DECOYS With states continuing to restrict the use of motorized decoys, jerk cord decoys are reaching a new level. For a few years now I’ve been using the Motion Ducks Decoy Spreader (motionducks.com), but their latest system is my favorite. The Ultimate Spreader combines two spreaders with a connection bar, increasing the number of decoys you can put on the move to seven. Two handles allow you to work the

units independently from one another, should you so choose. Goose decoys also work great on the Ultimate Spreader. The ease with which these decoys move, the distance they cover and their erratic action makes them lifelike. Another moving decoy I’ve fallen in love with is a mallard created by Revolution Waterfowl (revolutionwaterfowl.com). With how well I liked how the hen decoy performed the first few times I used it, I ordered

calsportsmanmag.com | NOVEMBER 2017 California Sportsman

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NORCAL

... TO FIRE

YOU’LL GO NUTS FOR THIS FOWL DISH By Tiffany Haugen

MARINADE

M

2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon brown sugar

For more mild-flavored waterfowl, Tiffany Haugen suggests cooking quickly in high heat, as a rare to medium rare bird combined with Asian ingredients makes for a great meal. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

SAUCE

Add sauce and stir until mixture begins to thicken, two to three minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanuts. Serve over rice or noodles topped with green onions.

ilder-flavored waterfowl such as teal, wigeon and cacklers are optimized with a hot, fast cooking preparation. Getting your meat from rare to medium rare is key here, as the more that ducks and geese cook, the stronger their flavor profile becomes. This recipe is also ideal for any type of duck or goose hearts, as they only need a few minutes in the pan to fully cook and stay tender. To prepare the hearts, simply remove and cut in half, or in quarters depending on the size. Feel free to spice up this dish with extra chili sauce and enjoy it over rice, noodles or on its own next to your favorite sautéed vegetables. 1 pound thinly sliced duck or goose breast 1 tablespoon olive oil ½ red bell pepper chopped One to two jalapeño peppers chopped ¼ cup peanuts 1-2 tablespoons chopped green onion

¼ cup cold water 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sherry 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons cornstarch 2 teaspoons sesame oil 1 teaspoon powdered ginger or 2 teaspoons fresh minced gingerroot ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes ½-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce Mix marinade ingredients in a shallow dish and add sliced waterfowl. Marinate at room temperature 30 to 60 minutes or refrigerate overnight. In a small bowl, mix sauce ingredients and set aside. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Sauté peppers two to three minutes. Add marinated waterfowl and continue to sauté one to two minutes.

62 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

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


NORCAL a drake to go with it. These uniquely designed and very detailed decoys sit on a stake, and it takes only a slight breeze to get their wings moving. I was most impressed last winter when a freezing rain fell, coating the decoy wings with a quarter-inch of ice; even with 2 inches of icicles hanging off the wings they still spun perfectly. Moveable decoys create a natural situation that convinces ducks and geese to land among them. In other words, it gives them confidence. Consider adding even more confidence to your decoy spread by introducing other decoys. Coot decoys make a great addition to any duck or goose spread. Think about the number of times you see coots swimming with live birds and it makes sense. Keen-eyed great blue herons and egrets also offer confidence to live waterfowl, making those another viable decoy option. Adding goose decoys to your duck

A quality Cabela’s decoy cart and a few LoopRopes make securing and hauling a lot of decoys easier than packing them on your back. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

decoy spread can be a huge confidence builder. A buddy of mine only sets out a dozen duck decoys, and he feels the two Canada goose decoys he adds to the spread are what really seal the deal. I’ve used goose decoys with my duck spread for years and agree with him they make the best confidence decoys there are for duck hunters.

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64 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

ACCESSORIES TO BRING ALONG Other accessories you’ll find me regularly using on waterfowl hunts include an Atlasware bottle, which is designed by the same people who designed NASA’s space shuttle. It is a double-walled, stainless-steel bottle that’s vacuum insulated. It’s incredibly durable and puncture resistant, and there is no chemical leeching. I’ve used the Atlasware in well-below-freezing temperatures to keep my coffee hot all day. And when I’ve used it while fishing on warm days, I’ve still had ice in it three days later. Once, after four days, the bottle was still over half-full of ice. Atlasware bottles come in an array of colors with optional cap accessories. They can even be personalized with your name or company logo. The bottles work so well, they greatly surpass even what the manufacturer claims they are capable of doing, so this is the only bottle you’ll find me using. Check them out at atlaswarenw.com. Whether I’m hauling a bunch of cackler, honker or duck decoys on my cart, I strap them down with a LoopRope (looprope.com), a revolutionary invention that took the standard bungee cord to the next level. Designed with a series of fixed loops, the LoopRope offers multiple securing points. Each loop stretches to a certain point and then firmly holds, which makes them safe and secure. What used to take a half-dozen bun-


WATERFOWL


WATERFOWL

The author and his dog Echo with a mixed bag limit of ducks. Waterfowling gear has come a long way over the decades, including shotguns and loads. A Weatherby Element and Browning’s BXD steel shot combination is a good weapon of choice. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

gee cords to secure, I can do with two 5-foot-long LoopRopes. There’s no limit to what this unique tool can do, and is what I consider one of the most versatile inventions to ever hit the outdoor world.

GUN TALK When it comes to shotguns, my waterfowling choice is a Weatherby Element. With its inertia-operated action, this semiautomatic is lightweight, fast and smooth. The Element comes with a complete set of chokes, and combined with Browning’s new and impressive BXD steel loads (browning. com), is one of the best set-ups I’ve used for waterfowl. The dense pattern of the BXD and its speed and ability to penetrate makes it my top choice for waterfowl hunting, be it for ducks or geese. In the quest to find the best gear to suit my duck and goose hunting needs, the search never stops. Sure, I’ll be trying new equipment this season, but you can bet I’ll be using every bit of the aforementioned gear. I know it works. CS Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is a full time outdoor writer, speaker and author of many books. Learn more at scotthaugen.com.


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HUNTING

Holiday Game Hors D’oeuvres RATTLER ON A CRACKER? WILD PIG SLIDERS? A HUNTING CHEF GETS CREATIVE WITH APPETIZERS

By Tim E. Hovey

A

s the holiday season draws near, I start thinking about a family tradition we have at the Hovey household. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, I like to create unique meals or side dishes out of wild game meat from animals my daughters and I have hunted during the season. A few weeks prior to the holiday gatherings, my family starts thinking about what we’d like to prepare. In the past, we’ve presented some rather one-of-a-kind dishes at holiday parties. Deer tacos, crow nachos and sautéed bobcat are appetizers we’ve served. My family has become

Author Tim Hovey and daughter Alyssa know what to do with a haul of cottontails: get them fielddressed and ready for the stew pot. Holiday gatherings at the Hovey house means many dishes featuring wild game. (TIM E. HOVEY)

used to giving me a sideways glance as I place our wild game offering on the community table. Over the years, nothing has been off limits. As a matter of pride and

principle, we eat just about every animal we hunt. This means that our freezer can contain just about any game meat within a season. Since the holidays are right around the

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HUNTING

Rattle up your Thanksgiving appetizer menu with rattlesnake meat on a Triscuit. (TIM E. HOVEY)

corner, I thought I’d share a few of the more popular dishes we’ve created over the years. Most wild game meats are lean

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and contain very little fat. This means they are extremely easy to overcook. Care should be taken during preparation and cooking. Low, consistent


HUNTING heat is the general rule for wild game to keep it from drying out on the grill. Adding fat to the meat will also assist in keeping wild game moist.

RATTLESNAKE TRISCUITS When my daughters were just getting into the outdoors and before they were old enough to hunt with me, we used to go out on snake runs in the back hills behind my house. We would mostly just take photos of the different species and send them on their way. However, when we’d occasionally encounter a larger rattlesnake, I’d kill it and bring it back home to barbecue. After skinning and cleaning the meat, we marinate it in teriyaki sauce for 24 hours. After heating up the grill and laying down some foil, we cook the meat for about 15 minutes until it becomes flaky. Using a fork, I remove the rib bones, leaving just the white, flaky, delicious meat.

A doe that the Hovey girls – Jessica (left) and Alyssa – harvested in Wyoming ...

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HUNTING I let the meat cool a bit and then spread cream cheese on a Triscuit cracker. Then add diced jalapeños and a thin slice of tomato. The snake meat goes on top and the appetizer is complete. We’ve served this dish at a Thanksgiving dinner; despite some initial hesitation, my family completely consumed the concoction.

DEER MEATBALLS During 2015 and 2016, my daughters and I were lucky enough to tag out in Wyoming on our annual deer hunt. I process all my own game meat and since my family best utilizes ground meat, with the exception of the back straps all the deer meat we brought back was ground up and vacuum-packed. We’d make everything from deer chili to deer tacos to deer spaghetti with the ground meat. All dishes were delicious and had a unique flavor. In fact, my daughters consider

... Provided venison for a meatball appetizer at one holiday meal held at their Southern California home. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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HUNTING any of our deer meals their favorites. Last year during a holiday party, I decided to prepare the deer meat using a unique meatball recipe. I wanted to treat my guests to a wild game dish that would be out of the ordinary a bit. I use 2 pounds of ground deer meat and mix in one egg, Italian breadcrumbs, seasoning and diced jalapeños. After mixing thoroughly and forming into balls, I place a small chunk of mozzarella cheese into the center of each meatball. In a frying pan, I lightly brown the meatballs in butter and garlic, being careful not to overcook the dish. The browned meat is placed into a sloe cooker with marinara sauce and set on low heat for two more hours. We’ve served this dish as an appetizer as well as a side dish, and our family absolutely loves it. The mildly wild flavor mixes well with the sauce and ingredients. We’ve also tried this

dish with a white sauce and it comes out just as good.

WILD RABBIT STEW Besides being one of my favorite small game animals to hunt, cottontail rabbits are where my daughters started their hunting journey. As they became more interested in hunting, they got better and they started bringing home more rabbits for the freezer. For this recipe I use the meat from two adult cottontails. The rabbits are quartered out and the small but tasty backstraps are removed. After cleaning, I debone and dice up the meat, season lightly with salt and pepper and let it chill in the refrigerator. Cottontail rabbit meat is white and will pick up the flavor of any marinade. For this stew recipe, I skip the marinade step and flavor the meat during the browning process. In the slow cooker I add diced potatoes, carrots, celery and sliced

onions. Add two quarts of chicken stock and flour to thicken the broth. This mixture is seasoned to taste and then set on low heat for four hours. In a frying pan, add butter and the diced rabbit pieces to brown. I’ll lightly season the browning meat with garlic salt. After browning, add the rabbit meat to the stew mixture and let it cook on low heat for another hour. We served this dish at our annual Christmas party and many remarked that it tasted better than chicken. Once again, the dish was completely consumed.

WILD PIG SLIDERS Here in California, wild pigs are popular big game animals to pursue. They are a serious challenge to locate and bring down. Their habitat is rough and of all the big game animals I have hunted, I find them the most difficult to chase. But bringing one home means some fantastic table fare.

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HUNTING After a successful hunt, I debone all the leg meat and run it through a grinder. As with most wild meat, pig is lean and overcooks easily. To assist with flavor and the cooking process, I like to mix in beef fat. I add 25 percent fat to the pork meat and mix well. I’ve even grinded the meat a second time to really mix the ground meat with the added fat. The next step allows for some creative flavoring. The most flavorful seasoning I’ve used was a wild pork sausage seasoning, which added a unique flavor to the wild pork. After thoroughly mixing the seasoning and meat, I place the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill. I form the meat into small patties and cook them over a low heat on the grill. The low heat and the beef fat keep the patties from overcooking and drying out. Add cheese if desired and serve as small sliders. The seasoning adds a slight sausage flavoring to

Many butchers add pork fat to ground wild game, but with his wild pigs, Hovey adds beef fat, and sometimes grinds the mix a second time to really distribute seasonings. It makes for tasty patties. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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HUNTING the burger; they are delicious.

GO OUTSIDE THE NORM I’ve found that wild meat is the perfect place to start when my family looks to create unique dishes. Many of the lighter meats, like rabbit, will pick up flavors easily and the darker meat, like deer and pork, are great table fare when prepared and cooked properly. And personally, I take it as a challenge to expose those who don’t normally eat wild game, to have them at least give it a try. If you’re a hunter, get creative with your wild game by preparing a unique recipe this holiday season. If you’re a nonhunter, be adventurous if someone in your family offers you a wild dish and give it a try. Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy this time of year. Sharing good food – even rattlesnake – is how the holiday seasons should be celebrated. CS

Sliders can be served up at more than just sports bars. Hunt wild pigs and then go to hog heaven on a bun. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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HUNTING

PUP’S FIRST HUNT I

t was my first hunt in Oregon with Echo, who was less than a year old. By this time my dog had a few months of hunting GUN DOGGIN’ 101 in western Oregon By Scott Haugen behind her, but the terrain and habitat of the Umatilla Valley was different than anything she’d experienced. The valley was laden with pheasant and valley quail, and we found chukars higher in the hills. We had a good couple days of hunting, and I learned a lot about taking my pup into a new place for the first time.

There’s a lot of grass seed out there this time of year, so having a brush or scissors on hand is a good idea. If your dog sports a long coat, cutting it short may be the best preventive measure. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

ECHO IS A pudelpointer with a medium-length coat. Before the hunt I plucked the long hair from inside her ears in order to prevent grass seeds from getting caught and potentially burrowing in deeper. I started plucking her ear hair when she was a puppy, so she was used to it. It’s something I still do every couple of weeks, and she’s three years old now. If you have trouble grabbing the hair inside the ear canal, get a hemostat. With this you can grab the hair and twirl it around the end of the hemostat, just as you’d twirl spaghetti onto a fork. The hair should pull out as you roll it tight, but if not, give it a quick tug. Seeds that have the potential of burrowing, like foxtail, can do severe damage to a dog, especially if they get down deep into the ear canal. When hunting or training in areas where foxtail seeds are present, regularly check the dog’s eyes, nose and mouth for the seeds, along with the paws and belly. Remove these barbed, needle-sharp seeds, immediately, no matter where on the dog

they may be. “If it’s too long, you also want to trim the hair between the toes and pads of your dog,” shares Larry Stone, a noted gun dog trainer (stonesthrowgundogs.com) in central Oregon. “Not only can foxtail get caught and burrow into the webbing between the toes, but any seed can get caught in the long hair and ball-up, making it uncomfortable on your dog.” On Echo’s first eastern Oregon hunt, I failed to clip the hair between her toes and was constantly pulling seeds out by hand. When we got back to camp that afternoon I took a sharp pair of scissors to each foot. There were places where the inside of her toes were nearly rubbed raw from seeds, so I put ointment on them. The following day was much better for Echo, with few seeds being

picked up between her toes. Due to seeds collecting in Echo’s coat that first day, I put a vest on her the next day. The vest was fluorescent orange and was noisy. She didn’t like that, and was a totally different dog with it on. She was reluctant to move through any cover, as the sound annoyed her. After a couple hours of frustration, I removed the vest and she hunted great. I should have done more training with the vest on, prior to her hunting in it.

MANY DOGS DON’T want to take a water break, especially young ones, no matter how hot it is. But they should. “In situations like this, make them drink,” urges Stone. On a recent training session with he and my new pup Kona, Stone showed me exactly how to do it.

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HUNTING “Have the dog sit, then take the end of your water bottle and stick it in the corner of their mouth,” he tipped. “Grab the loose skin on the outside corner of the mouth and pull it away from the jaw. Insert the end of the bottle into that pocket and pour away.” Up to this point I’d been opening Kona’s mouth and pouring water in, which he didn’t like; he often coughed and spit it out. But the way Stone showed me to water the dog worked great, and it was so quick and easy. “You also want to wet down your dog on hot days,” Stone continued. “But don’t just dump water on it, as some coats actually trap water which holds in more heat. Instead, get their feet and legs wet, and splash water between their legs and on the belly.” Getting water on the places where the hair is thin helps quickly cool a dog. “You also want to put water on the inside of their ears,” Stone add-

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If you intend on hunting your dog with a vest on, be sure and introduce it during training sessions. When on the hunt, you don’t want the dog being sidetracked by a noisy, uncomfortable vest, as author Scott Haugen learned about Echo. (SCOTT HAUGEN)


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HUNTING ed. “But don’t just pour it in, as you don’t want water getting into the ear canal. Instead, take some water in your hand and rub it on the underside of the ear, directly to the skin” to help cool the animal. Any time you run across water on hot, early-season hunts, make your dog take a break. If there’s little or no water where you’re hunting, take plenty along for your dog. Dogs are like humans in that they need to stay hydrated. The harder the dog works and the hotter it is, the more water they need.

The better shape your dogs feet are in, the more effective they’ll be when hunting in dry, rocky terrain. Having dog boots handy is a good idea. Cutting the hair between the pads will also diminish grass seeds getting trapped. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

TAKING A HAIRBRUSH into the field isn’t a bad idea, either. If your dog gets into a thicket of seeds, it’s much quicker brushing them out or using a razor brush to cut them out, than pulling them by hand. If hunting in dry, rocky terrain, take along dog boots, especially if your dog’s pads aren’t toughened up.

If a dog’s feet split open, they are out of commission. Having some ointment to apply to open wounds is a good idea, as is taking an antiseptic spray. I carry eye drops along too – if they get an infection, I want to be on top of it. With the height of bird season

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

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CENTRAL VALLEY

MOTHER NATURE’S FURY A LIGHTNING STRIKE ENDANGERS HIKERS IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK By Tim E. Hovey

I

f you spend enough time outdoors, you’ll eventually come to understand that a good time can turn dangerous in an instant. Away from the comforts of home, risks from unfamiliar terrain, wild animals and Mother Nature are amplified. The unpredictability of the wild is something I always think about when I head outdoors. However, I never let that keep me from enjoying my time fishing, hunting or doing other things outside. I simply stay within my limitations and remain alert. Recently, I was reminded of just how unpredictable conditions can be in the wild. Chris Lovera, a college friend of mine, posted a short story on social media simply titled “Blessed.” I’ll be honest, I almost skipped over the paragraph and likely would have had the first line of the message not caught my eye. “Lightning hit me, Aidan and Nadia …”

CHRIS HAD TAKEN HIS kids, 12-yearold Aidan, and Nadia, 9, on their first backpack camping trip to Lake Jennie in the Sequoia National Park over Labor Day weekend. The

For Chris Lovera, his 12-year-old son Aidan and 9-year-old daughter Nadia, a hike in Sequoia National Park nearly turned deadly when they were struck by lightning and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Fresno. (CHRIS LOVERA) calsportsmanmag.com | NOVEMBER 2017 California Sportsman

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CENTRAL VALLEY

When a thunderstorm rolled in, the Loveras tried to stay dry under a tree near the shores of Lake Jennie. (CHRIS LOVERA)

plan was to park at the trailhead, load up their packs, hike into their camping spot and spend a few days near the lake. They arrived at the trailhead early and gathered their gear. Just before

setting off, Chris had a fellow hiker take a quick photo of the trio as they prepared to hike the well-established trail into the campground. That photo likely would’ve been printed out and framed to com-

Chris, Nadia and Aidan had varying levels of injury, including the ďŹ rst- and second-degree burns Chris suffered. (CHRIS LOVERA) 94 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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CENTRAL VALLEY memorate their adventure. Instead, it has circled the globe and serves as reminder of how quickly things can change in the wilderness. At the campsite, they set up their tent and grabbed a quick bite. Eager to see the lake, they hiked to the shore to explore. That’s when the weather began to change. Thick black clouds appeared over the ridge and it began to rain heavily. As the trio huddled under a tree near the water’s edge, Chris decided to pull out his phone and film the nasty weather. The clip is brief and starts with a view of the lake and torrential rain

falling. A dull flash and thunder clapping can also be heard. Nadia mentions that she saw another one, presumably talking about a bolt of lightning. Chris pans the phone and turns it around to film he and his kids huddled under the tree trying to stay dry. They joke about picking the wrong time for a backpacking trip, with all in good spirits. Chris ends the video and slips the phone into his pocket. Thirty seconds later, their lives would change.

“WE TOOK THIS VIDEO because the rain, then hail, started coming down in biblical proportions,” Chris says now. “About half a minute after I took the

video and while slipping my phone in my chest pocket was where our collective memory stops. We didn’t hear, see or feel a thing until we all regained consciousness at various points, separated from one another by 10 feet or so.” The tree that Chris and his kids were huddled under was struck by lightning. The sudden and unexpected impact blasted the trio off the ground, and away from where they had been sitting. The strike appeared to have hit the tree first before hitting the Loveras. Aidan, who was sitting to his dad’s left, was struck first, right behind his left ear and blowing out his eardrum.

WHAT TO DO WHEN CAUGHT OUTDOORS DURING LIGHTNING While it is almost impossible to predict where lightning will strike, experts state that there are a few things you can do to stay safe when you’re caught out in an unexpected thunderstorm in the wilderness.

• If possible, try and take shelter in a sturdy structure like a building or a car. • If you’re unable to find shelter, you may have to shelter in place. Avoid high spots and seek out the lowest area you can nearby.

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Stay away from trees and other tall structures. • Lightning will search out the tallest points in an area to strike. Avoid anything metal, especially structures like power line towers or telephone poles. TH


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CENTRAL VALLEY The strike then hit Chris in the head as well. The charge radiated across his back and down his leg, leaving him with first- and second-degree burns. The burn pattern on his back imprinted the electricity’s path as it moved through Chris’s body. The charge traveled down Chris’s leg and impacted Nadia, leaving her with burns as well. The bolt then exited Chris’s leg and left a deep furrow in the dirt towards the nearby lake. All three were blasted from their seated positions, and all lost consciousness. Amazingly, there were several witnesses to the actual strike, and campers across the lake even caught the bolt on video. Those in the vicinity reported seeing a short flash approximately 15 feet in length that hit the tree. At its base, Chris and his kids were seen in midair crashing to the ground as smoke rose from the trunk.

Campers quickly ran to the area to help Chris and his kids. At the scene, rescuer Nick Barton said it looked as if they had been blown up. Others, like Royce and Melissa Gibson, checked the kids’ vital signs and did their best to assess the injuries. Volunteers quickly moved Chris and his kids to safety as park rangers contacted emergency personnel to initiate a rescue.

From Chris’s burned-out fleece, T-shirt and shorts ...

CHRIS AWOKE TO WHAT I can only imagine would be the most horrific scene a father could experience. Aidan’s face was covered in blood and he was screaming at his father. Aidan would later tell friends he was convinced his dad was dead. Nadia was face down several feet from Chris and not moving. Having taken the brunt of the charge, Chris was paralyzed and unable to move. Nearby campers and rescuers were on scene within minutes, and Chris is emphatic that their quick re-

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CENTRAL VALLEY sponse, unselfish deeds and medical attention are the reasons he and his kids survived this ordeal. “I am most certainly alive, Aidan and Nadia as well, because of the common and selfless bravery of so many wonderful people,” Chris says. “I was in such a terrible state of shock and trauma. It was because of an incredible mobilization of effort that I can write this.” Once Chris regained his mobility, the trio was hoisted one by one into a rescue helicopter that headed to Community Regional Medical Center in nearby Fresno. And in what I perceived as an effort to lighten the mood and display to his children that he was fine, Chris once again decided to film the event. As he pans the phone around, Chris is seen with a reassuring smile. The kids looked somber. Nadia stares off, bundled up in her father’s lap, while Aidan looks understandably

... To the tree that was struck and the family’s fashion statement after all had made a full recovery, it was a harrowing reminder of how powerful Mother Nature can be. (CHRIS LOVERA)

shocked and confused. When I first saw this video I remember thinking that Chris and his family had been lucky to escape serious injury. When I saw the extent of Chris’s burns later, I realized he was obviously putting on a brave face for

his kids, as any good father would. Knowing now that he was actually sitting there in the jump chair of the helicopter with second-degree burns all across his back and his clothes melted to his skin, he must’ve been in excruciating pain.

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Regardless of the textbook rules for avoiding being struck, lightning is inherently unpredictable. Chris and his family did what every camper would’ve done when caught out in a heavy rain; they looked to avoid getting drenched. Thankfully, Chris, Nadia and Aidan have made a full physical recovery from the strike and their story has made the rounds. He now often jokes about the notoriety he and the kids have received from the event, most recently posting a photo of himself smiling while wearing a Lucky Strike T-shirt, and Aidan and Nadia also smiling by his side.

IN A LIFETIME OF enjoying the outdoors, I have been caught out in unexpected thunderstorms a handful of times. I’ve even had a bolt of lightning strike close enough to my position that the concussion left my ears ringing for the rest of the day. However, that can’t come anywhere close to what the Loveras experienced. We Californians rarely experience any inclement weather or conditions that would cause any more of a concern or effort than to take shelter against a serious rain. The story of Chris Lovera and his family serve as a reminder that awareness of a situation is probably your best tool in staying safe. Having read and reread much of this story, I noticed a common thread throughout. Chris himself attributes he and his family’s survival and ultimate recovery to the unselfish assistance of others. In the chaos of the world, I will always believe that there are many good people out there willing to help complete strangers in need. Chris’s story illustrates that. It’s clear to me that despite the attention placed on the Loveras, the real story is of those who unselfishly assisted them when they desperately needed medical attention in the outdoors. They would likely step right back into the role of first responders again without being asked. CS 102 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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SIERRA

GET YOUR WINTER TROUT FIX

Fly fishing Mono County waters like the Upper Owens River (pictured), Hot Creek and the East Walker River is a winter pastime for hearty anglers who want to get a trout fix. (MIKE STEVENS)

WHILE THE GENERAL SEASON CLOSES ON NOV. 15, DON’T OVERLOOK THESE MONO COUNTY OPTIONS By Mike Stevens

I

t’s always a sad day when Nov. 15 rolls around and the general trout season in the Eastern Sierra comes to an end. But California anglers don’t have to shut down completely. There is plenty of year-round water left to fish, and while it’s no secret there’s lots of trout fishing to be had along Highway 395 in Inyo County (Bishop, Lone Pine to Big Pine, etc), winter opportunities up the hill in Mono County are still flying under the radar. At the very least, people aren’t taking advantage of them even if they don’t know about it, because

there are some rubs in the equation. For instance, it’s all barbless artificials – if not fly fishing only – and a zero-fish limit. The weather is also a big issue, not only in terms of fishing comfort but access and safety. The way the seasonal range reads for these special creeks and rivers in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations is, “Nov. 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April (the general opener).” Here’s what you’re workin’ with.

OWENS RIVER AND DEADMAN CREEK The stretch of the Upper Owens River that’s available for winter fishing is

from Benton Bridge (Benton Road of “Green Church” fame) upstream to Big Springs, which is the area serving as the headwaters of the mighty Owens. At this time of year, it is indeed a zero limit, with only artificial lures with barbless hooks allowed. It’s not a typical winter fishery, and unfortunately many anglers make the long trip up there and treat it that way, with substandard results. When trout are in very cold water, they need to eat and can’t afford to let too many pieces of protein drift past, but they don’t want to expend a whole lot of energy chasing anything down either. This means bigger, attractor-type

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SIERRA nymphs can get grabbed, but most of the time you have to hit the fish right in the nose with it. It’s a real meat-and-potatoes approach, where you’re not really trying to mimic anything über-specific. One go-to set-up is actually a piece of cake: a heavier 3X, 7-foot leader with a San Juan Worm on top, with either a flashy, meaty – think size 14 – Pheasant Tail, Psycho Prince or Glow Bug on the bottom. Fish that through deep slow runs and make sure you have enough weight on to tick bottom. If you’re used to scaling way down in winter and fishing tiny midges, forget about it here. The good news is that you don’t have to be out there at the crack of dawn; the best bite is typically be-

tween 10 a.m and 2 p.m. Worth noting: Typically the only place to park – especially if there is snow everywhere, or it recently melted and there is risk of getting stuck – is a relatively small turnout near the Benton Crossing bridge. If you get there and it’s full of cars (it doesn’t take many), don’t park where any part of your vehicle is on the road. You will get ticketed. Get out there early. Deadman Creek is a tributary of the Upper O and flows close to Big Springs, making it another winter option. It’s a smaller fishery and one more apt to produce via tiny midges and the like. But worm imitations, attractor nymphs in smaller sizes and streamers like a Woolly Bugger dead drifted or slowly stripped in deeper

Just because the snow’s flying in the Eastern Sierra doesn’t mean you should stow your rod until next April. Despite strict regulations, several fishing opportunities continue after the general season closes on Nov. 15. (SIERRA DRIFTERS GUIDE SERVICE)

108 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

holes or eddies could draw dead-ofwinter strikes. Regulations are the same here as the Upper Owens.

HOT CREEK Hot Creek is a world-class trout stream that is open year-round, and the regulations are always the same: barbless flies only and zero limit. It’s a small, spring-fed creek teeming with wild rainbows, browns and some cutthroat, plus subsidized, stocked “diploid” trout that are able to reproduce naturally. In winter, Hot Creek is no place for a novice and challenges even the most accomplished whippers of the long rod. Most of the fish are in the 9- to 12-inch range, but there are some monsters in there that are way bigger than the size of the scenic creek


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SIERRA

You can’t keep any Eastern Sierra trout in winter, but you can catch and release a lot of them. (SIERRA DRIFTERS GUIDE SERVICE)

suggests. It’s good to have a fly box stocked with size 18 to 22 Zebra Midges, egg and worm patterns, Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs and Woolly Buggers. Like all open winter water, the warmest hours of the day are best, and there are also times when dry fly hatches will actually come off, so be prepared by bringing along some blue-wing olive imitations as well. These flies are a good base for all these waters, but it’s best to get updated information from local shops and guides, either by the day or – even better – the hour.

EAST WALKER RIVER This Bridgeport-area gem has bigfish potential but is subject to a roller coaster of fishing conditions brought on by weather, water levels or otherwise. Like Hot Creek, it’s not recommended for the weekend warrior. Last winter’s epic snowfall should reverberate throughout this cold season, keeping waters fishable in 110 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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2017-18. Occasional winter hatches create some surface activity and the same attractor nymphs or streamers worked through deeper runs can do damage here. Those tiny midges are what’s going to work for you most of the time. The East Walker is regularly guided on a year-round basis, so a bit of exploring will maximize your shot at browns and rainbows, and the warmer days seem to be the most productive. Arguably, it is said that no other California or Nevada river kicks out more 20-plus-inch trout than the East Walker. “Last year’s winter has set the stage for some excellent fishing opportunities for this winter. The East Walker and Upper Owens will shine this year, and water levels are at prime levels and should continue to be through the coming winter,” says Doug Rodericks, who guides for Sierra Drifters Guide Service (SierraDrifters.net). “The Upper Owens should see larger numbers of spawning rainbows and browns this year, due to such an abundance of food from Crowley Lake, which they have been gorging themselves on from spring to fall.” Rodericks added that right now, the East Walker is giving up the best fish of the season, with river flows now settling into fall levels. It should fish really well this winter since new holding areas for trout have been created by high flushing flows over the spring. As for Hot Creek, Rodericks thinks more help is needed in restoring it to what it once was. “We will be working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife again this year in stocking it with diploid browns and rainbows,” he said, “and we should start to see an improvement in fish population here with the coming year.” CS Editor’s note: Check the CDFW fishing regulations supplement (eregulations.com/ california/fishing/freshwater) for more.


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SOCAL

THROW A PANFISH PARTY TAKE A BREAK FROM BASS AND DROP A LINE FOR FEISTY BLUEGILL AND OTHER SMALL SPECIES

By Bill Schaefer

W

e all have fond memories of some of our first fishing trips to the lakes around California. Mine involves wonderful simplicity. Dad would rent a boat and take us kids to what he called his “secret spot” and drop our lines. And we did catch fish, and usually it was some type of panfish, whether redear sunfish, bluegill or any of the many other species that populate our local lakes. Dad would rig us all up with a bobber and red worm, and all we had to do was set the hook when the fish ate the bait and the bobber dipped underwater.

PANFISH BASICS Light tackle is the way to go when fishing for these little bruisers. Anywhere from ultralight, 2- to 4-pound test to light bass gear and 4- to 8-pound test is best. The lighter the rod, the more sporting and fun it is. Use smaller hooks, as panfish don’t have the largest of mouths. Just don’t dismiss or underestimate these fish, though; they are every bit the fighters. Pound for pound, they match up to any bass. All the local lakes have a few species of resident panfish. They usually hang around in the shallow weeds or around brush and rockpiles or old trees. Many times you can see them hovering in the shallows so you can cast to them with your bait. These fish are so aggressive that at times they will even attack bass anglers’ plastic worms.

Catching panfish like bluegill is a great way to get the kids out on the water this fall. Hayden Jorgenson and his dad Gordon would agree. (BILL SCHAEFER)

AN EASY SET-UP For baits, the old standard red worms under a bobber in the shallows will do, especially if you can see fish hovering there. Small pieces of nightcrawler will do as well. Crickets can be had at some tackle stores or you can trap them yourself. Other small insects will work – if you can stand to handle them. Maybe you can get the kids to pin them on the hook. If you want to try your hand at artificial lures for bluegill and other

panfish, try small spoons, spinners, small plastic worms, grubs and PowerBait. Crappie jigs under a bobber will entice these little guys into biting too. Justt be sure to scale down; if it will fit in their mouth, they will bite. With panfish and bluegill hanging in the shallows at local Southland lakes, fly fishing with small patterns can be fun as well. Remember, those fish might not be big but they do fight hard, and on fly gear it can be a blast. CS

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SOCAL

THE BITE GOES ON YELLOWTAIL SHOULD STAY ACTIVE AS LONG AS OCEAN WATERS REMAIN WARM By Capt. Bill Schaefer

F

rom Mexico’s Coronado Islands – just south of the border off San Diego – to San Clemente Island to the north and everywhere in between, the yellowtail bite for anglers has continued to chug along. As long as the weather holds up and water stays warm, the action could last another month or so. Everything from half-day party boats to private crafts are getting in on the fishing. Check your local landing’s website for the skippers and boats that are really on the fish. You can also log on to local fishing websites for hints about where to head, but the yellows are in the usual places. They’re being found breezing in open water along kelpbeds and on paddies. Having a tank of bait will increase your chances greatly, but fish are being taken on iron as well, both on the surface and yo-yoing. A good set of binoculars will increase your chances. Watch the horizon for working birds, as they may help locate a feeding school. If you find the fish on the surface feeding, tie on the surface iron. If there are no takers, try running that iron deeper and deeper, ending with yoyo techniques. If you find a kelp paddy, please remember not to drive right up on it if there are boats already on it. Asking permission to join the drift past it goes a long ways. Go to the upwind side and set a drift to go past it if invited in. If there is a sport boat on the

Wyatt Cargel shows off a pretty Pacific Ocean yellowtail. Given the scorching weather that Southern California experienced late in October, continued warm to mild conditions should keep the bite buzzing this month. (BILL SCHAEFER)

paddy, I usually keep hunting. Those skippers are working hard to get their customers on fish and can’t run around like you can in your smaller, faster boat. A little courtesy goes a long way.

ONCE YOU FIND YOUR SPOT Whether it’s a feeding school or a paddy you found on your own, go upwind of it and drift into the feeding area. Once close, throw some bait and try to get the school to come to your boat. Many times the school will stay with your boat as long as you remember to throw some bait

118 California Sportsman NOVEMBER 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

every so often, even if all the anglers aboard are hooked up. For equipment, anything from heavy bass-type gear to medium-heavy gear will do. Running braid or Spectra with a leader will do fine for bait. I like Maxima braid in 50-pound test, with a Maxima 20to 25-pound fluorocarbon leader on my Daiwa Saltist 30 two-speed reel and baitstick. If I do hook a giant, I have the power to reel them in. Always check your drags and line before a trip like this, as you don’t want to lose that fish of a lifetime. CS


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Come and Join our 6th Annual Halibut Express!!

Our area offers some of the very finest Halibut and Ling Cod fishing on the whole BC Coast, including Alaska. We are offering a special early season COMBO Halibut and Ling Cod package for the 2018 season. The dates we have selected for our 2018 Halibut Express are from May 1st to May 5th, May 5th to May 9th, May 9th to May 13th, May 13th to May 17th, May 17th to May 21st, May 21st to May 25th, May 25th to May 29th, May 29th to June 2nd, June 2nd to June 6th, June 6th to June 10th, June 10th to June 14th, June 14th to June 18th and June 18th to June 22nd 2018. This will be a 4 night/5 day package and will include up to 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 (CAN). Party of 3 fishing, 3 per boat…$1675.00 PP + 5% tax (CAN). Party of 4 fishing, 4 per boat…$1475 PP + 5% tax (CAN). To make your reservations or for more information please give us a call at 1-800-429-5288 or send an email to: rodgersfishinglodge@yahoo.com Best regards, Doug Rodgers PS: With Halibut selling for upwards of $25.00 (CAN) per pound at your local fish market, you should easily be able to pay for your trip. You are allowed up to 6 Halibut, new for 2018, 4 Ling Cod and 8 Salmon in possession per angler. The biggest Ling Cod this past season was a 60 pounder. Come and fill your freezers!

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