Cal Sportsman March 2019

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2 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 | | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


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California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 11 • Issue 6 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EXECUTIVE EDITOR Andy Walgamott EDITOR Chris Cocoles CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Brittany Boddington LEAD WRITER Tim E. Hovey CONTRIBUTORS Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, Art Isberg, Tony Lolli, Bill Schaefer, Jeff Walters SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Aumann INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CORRESPONDENCE Email Twitter @CalSportsMan ON THE COVER With plenty of cool water in the form of mountain snowpack and good numbers of fish headed up Central Valley rivers over the next couple months, striped bass fishing should be kid stuff this spring for catching lots of linesides. (MSJ 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 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 •

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CRUSH IT ON THE COLORADO The lower Colorado River forms the California-Arizona border from Mexico upstream to the spring break party destination of Lake Havasu. But the bass fishing on the river is just as much cause for celebration. Whether you chase stripers, largemouth or smallies, there can be some fantastic fishing. Jeff Walters is your tour guide for this prime stretch of water.


A LOFTY PERCH When it comes to landing tasty saltwater table fare, surfperch are high on Tiffany’s and Scott Haugen’s wish list. These smallish but feisty fish will challenge the angler to “tinker” with the right gear, as Scott puts it in our From Field to Fire column. Get the skinny on the best rod, reel and set-up, and then try out Tiff’s fish fry recipe featuring peanuts as a key ingredient!


DON’T MISS ANY CALLS A key to successfully hunting the Golden State’s abundance of predators is having the right calling devices to draw these wily critters closer for the best shooting opportunity. Veteran hunter Art Isberg breaks down the best such gadgets for bringing in California’s coyotes, bobcats, foxes.


DREAMING OF CHAMOIS For those looking for an international hunting trip of a lifetime, you can do a lot worse than chasing the goat-antelope hybrid known as chamois, which are native species in many European countries and were introduced to New Zealand’s South Island in the first decade of the 20th century. She Hunts columnist Brittany Boddington has been fortunate enough to hunt chamois multiple times in these faraway lands and reflects on her experiences.




Southern Californians are dealing with traffic, a heavy rainfall season and the near misses in the World Series (Dodgers) and Super Bowl (Rams). Still, it’s hard to feel that sorry about Southland residents with so many fishing options available during (mostly) mild year-round temperatures. Los Angeles-area resident Tim Hovey and family take advantage of the plethora of salt- and freshwater opportunities – from bass to barracuda – at their disposal.




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U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuges hosting several bird festivals Lake Barrett bass preview Spring striper run could be ‘epic’ on Sacramento Valley rivers Redding spring turkeys challenge two experienced hunters How short daily training sessions can also help your budding gun dog

The Editor’s Note Outdoor Calendar Reader Photos Photo contest winners Guide Fly: Parallel Punk Perch for Cali trout

Read California Sportsman on your desktop or mobile device. 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 © 2019 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. 8 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 | alspo po por ort ort rtssma sm sman m man maanm mag. mag aag. ag g cco com om | MARCH MA AR RCH RC CH C H 2019 201 019 19 C California alifo for fo rni rn n niia S Sportsman po por p ort or rtsman



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Guide Guid Gu idde Ma M Manny nnyy Sa nn Saldana ald ldan anaa an haas th has tthe he ed eeditor edit dit itor or fifired or red re ed upp to to ge ggett ba bback ack ck on on th tthe he Feather Featthe Fe h r River R ve Ri verr sso soon oonn ttoo fi h for fis fish foor spring sppri ring ng sstripers. trip tr ipper erss..



was already planning a striper fishing trip on the Feather or Sacramento Rivers in April, and after hearing the enthusiasm in Manny Saldana’s voice about the spring run, I wanted to get on the water yesterday. I was so anticipating fishing for large and plentiful spawning striped bass that it brought me back to my younger days of excitedly waiting to go fishing. More often than not it turned out to be a big letdown. Since my friends and I lived so close to Lake Merced in San Francisco, that was our most frequent destination. And while we had some great days when we took home a few trout for the frying pan, all the expectations that we/I had sometimes proved to be massive disappointments. Once, when I was old enough to drive myself to the lake, I left the headlights of my mom’s station wagon on and was greeted with a dead battery when I had to retrieve something from the car. On another outing when casting salmon eggs from the beach on the North Lake, we got pelted by a Bay Area spring rainstorm. I don’t remember catching fish either of those times. But even those Merced mishaps couldn’t top this one: One lazy summer day, three of us had the bright idea to rent a South Lake rowboat. We managed to oar our way down to a spot in the tules and anchor up, fish for a few hours and then start heading back. Then the wind kicked up and it took us an extra hour to row our way back to the dock. No big deal, right? Tell that to the guy in our trio who was supposed to drive his mom to her doctor’s appointment. Needless to say, he was late picking up Mom, who missed her appointment. We definitely didn’t catch any trout that day, but did catch hell from our friend’s mom. I bring this up because I’m fully expecting this striper trip to be as successful as the last time I went out with Saldana on the Feather (California Sportsman, June 2017). He fueled my hopes when we chatted for our striper preview story this month (page 37). I just hope I remember to turn off the headlights when I get to the boat launch. -Chris Cocoles

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or a jaw-dropping nature spectacle, it’s hard to beat a bird festival. Some of the nation’s most celebrated bird festivals are at or near national wildlife refuges. And no, you don’t have to be a birder to enjoy one. National wildlife refuges are home to more than 700 species of birds. Scores of refuges are located along major bird migration routes, so when the birds move en masse in spring and fall, visitors get an eyeful. Many festivals celebrate the seasonal arrivals of large birds, such as sandhill cranes, notable for their great wingspans, noisy calls and striking mating dances. Other festivals focus on bald eagles, tundra swans, snow geese and prairie chickens. So what better place than a national wildlife refuge to find some of the nation’s best birding and outstanding birding festivals? The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S.

Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is hosting one of many U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bird festivals this year. (DAVID F. THOMSON, GARY KRAMER AND USFWS) | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


The marbled godwit will be honored at Godwit Days from April 17-23 at Humboldt Bay NWR. (RINUS BAAK/USFWS)

Fish and Wildlife Service. The festivals are hugely popular, so advance registration is suggested. Some festivals charge a registration or activity fee. Check out the below calendar of annual bird festivals on or near national wildlife refuges. Then try one. Refuges are family-friendly, so bring your whole crew.

MARCH 2019 MONTE VISTA CRANE FESTIVAL March 8-10 Monte Vista, Colorado See thousands of cranes, ducks and geese flying against a backdrop of mountain scenery. Raptors often adorn the power poles and owls are frequently seen with their young. All events are free except the photography workshop. The 36th annual festival includes a tour to Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. The Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges participates in the festival’s planning.

OTHELLO SANDHILL CRANE FESTIVAL March 22-24 Othello, Washington Experience the beauty and wonder of the natural world, highlighted by the return of sandhill cranes to the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington. Columbia National Wildlife 14 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

Refuge is one of many field trip destinations. The community event includes wildlife tours, lectures on the area’s natural and cultural heritage, an art contest and children’s activities. Information will be posted on the festival’s Facebook page.

APRIL 2019 HARNEY COUNTY MIGRATORY BIRD FESTIVAL April 11-14 Burns, Oregon Wildlife art shows, kids’ nature fairs including a chance to learn about wild birds, music and book signings are among the highlights. This is a chance to visit the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Pete French Round Barn, built by frontier cattle baron Pete French around 1880.

GODWIT DAYS April 17-23 Arcata, California Celebrate the marbled godwit at the 24th annual festival! Field trip destinations for this festival along the northern California coast include Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The event also includes scores of eco-tours and workshops, an art show and live birds of prey.

MIXED BAG MAY 2019 WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY May 11 (and October 12) WMBD is the only international education program that highlights and celebrates the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Each year, WMBD explores a different aspect of migratory birds and their conservation. This year, many events in North America will take place on May 11 (and on the birds’ wintering grounds on October 12). Many wildlife refuges take part in WMBD celebrations. Check the Refuge System special events calendar for event listings.

GRAYS HARBOR SHOREBIRD AND NATURE FESTIVAL May 3-5 Hoquiam, Washington Each spring, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to rest and feed along the Washington Coast and in the Grays Harbor estuary during their migration northward. Coming from as far south as Argentina, these Arctic-bound shorebirds are among the world’s greatest migrants. Field trips to birding hotspots, lectures, vendors, exhibitors and great shorebird viewing take place at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge and in other parts of the county.

KACHEMAK BAY SHOREBIRD FESTIVAL May 9-12 Homer, Alaska For 27 years running, the festival has offered great birds, excellent guiding, educational seminars and workshops, and children’s activities to thousands of birders of all ages and all skill levels. With over 100,000 shorebirds of 25 different species migrating through in early May, this event celebrates the return of spring and migrating birds. The festival in-

Birds like the great blue heron will be celebrated at refuges from Alaska to Utah to New Mexico this year. (GARY KRAMER)

cludes field trips to Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

GREAT SALT LAKE BIRD FESTIVAL May 16-19 Farmington, Utah This festival highlights birds and other natural wonders around the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah. Take part in field trips, workshops and activities for families, youth and scouts. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is among the festival’s field trip destinations.

TUALATIN RIVER BIRD FESTIVAL May 18 Sherwood, Oregon The Friends of the Refuge in partnership with Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge have created a

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one-day wonder for the 23rd annual free festival, including early morning guided bird walks, live bird show, plenty of activities for kids and Conestoga-style wagon rides around the refuge.

SEPTEMBER 2019 CONCERT FOR THE BIRDS September 29 Las Vegas, New Mexico Join the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge for this annual concert in celebration of wildlife in partnership with the Friends of the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge. There are lots of activities for the whole family, including music, crafts, games, food and fun. Local musicians are invited to perform for the public as they enjoy the great outdoors. events.html | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


OCTOBER 2019 RIDGEFIELD BIRDFEST AND BLUEGRASS October 5-6 Ridgefield, Washington Join Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate the coming of fall and the wildlife that make the refuge their home. The annual festival, along the lower Columbia River, offers Audubon bird shows, live music, arts and crafts and activities at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a full-scale replica of a Native American structure found in the old town of Cathlapotle.

NOVEMBER 2019 FALL FLIGHT FESTIVAL November 3, 10, 17 and 24 Las Vegas, New Mexico Take a 4½-mile drive through the back fields and past ponds at Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge to observe migrating waterfowl – sandhill cranes, ducks of all variety, snow geese, coots, grebes, mergansers and bald eagles looking for their next meal. Interpretive programs to help visitors identify waterfowl. events.html

FESTIVAL OF THE CRANES November 20-23 Socorro, New Mexico See thousands of wintering sandhill cranes and snow geese at the spectacular Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge just outside of the city of Socorro, about an hour’s drive from Albuquerque. Enjoy workshops, tours, great photographic opportunities and other events at one of the most celebrated birding festivals in the country. CS Note: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more info, visit, or connect through, Twitter, (@USFWS) and photos/usfwshq.

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Ever fished the Owens River? Might just be time to... BIG PINE, BISHOP, DEATH VALLEY, INDEPENDENCE & LONE PINE | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


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Lake Isabella’s popular trout derby returns the weekend of March 24-26. (KERN RIVER VALLEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE)

MARCH 2 6-10

NorCal Trout Challenge, Lake Pardee; Fred Hall Shows, Long Beach Convention Center; 15-17 Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show, Kern County Fairgrounds, Bakersfield; 16 Trout Wars derby, Lake Amador; NorCal Trout Challenge, San Pablo Reservoir; 16-19 Blake Jones Trout Derby, Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River; 23 NorCal Trout Challenge, Lake Amador; 23-24 First spring junior turkey hunt 24-26 Lake Isabella Fishing Derby; 28-31 Fred Hall Shows, Del Mar Fairgrounds; 30 Spring turkey hunting opener



California Wild Sheep Foundation fundraising banquet, Sacramento; 6-7 SMUD Trout Derby, Rancho Seco Recreational Area; 27 Statewide trout opener 27 Fred J. Hall Opening Day Big Fish Contest, Crowley Lake; 27 California Inland Fisheries Foundation Inc. Trout Derby, Collins Lake; 27 Monster Fish Contest, June Lake Loop; 27 Start of Gull Lake Marina “Fish of the Month Club” Derby, June Lake Loop; 27-28 Annett’s Mono Village Fishing Opener Derby, Upper Twin Lakes; Note: For a complete list of bass fishing tournaments, go to FishingContests/default.aspx. For more details on hunting zones and regulations, check out

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READER PHOTOS Citrus Heights resident David Laver (left) had a productive bass tournament with his buddy Eric Crow, catching these fish on a Ned rig as well as drop-shotted Strike King Dream Shots in pumpkin green. The recently married Laver (congrats to you and Ashley!) and Crow also finished sixth in the Folsom team event at New Melones Lake. (DAVID LAVER)

Our pal Bryan Galea got in on some Feather River winter steelhead action. (BRYAN GALEA) Our longtime readers the Ling family managed to get some waterfowl despite what Marc Ling called the “worst season in 30 years.” His sons Matthew and Mitchell and one of their pups, Gunner, teamed up to score a big bag of teal in Klamath Falls, Oregon, while Mitchell and Daisy got a few birds at the South Grasslands club near Los Banos. (MARC LING)

For your shot at winning great fishing and hunting products from Yo-Zuri and Ontario Knife Co., send your full-resolution, original images with all the pertinent details – who’s in the pic and their hometown; when and where they were; what they caught their fish on/weapon they used to bag the game; and any other details you’d like to reveal (the more, the merrier!) – to or California Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave S, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for use in our print and Internet publications. | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


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$26,544.00 cash and prizes up for grabs!! The 30th annual Lake Isabella Fishing Derby Is almost here, so make plans now to attend! This year’s derby dates are April 1315, which is once again the week preceding Easter Sunday. The derby offers cash prizes up to $2,000 for the longest ďŹ sh, plus many more cash and ďŹ shing-related prizes. Derby chairman Fred Clark reports that close to 20,000 pounds of trout will be stocked for the annual contest, including bonus 5-pound-plus Nebraska tailwalkers to be planted. The Lake levels will be perfect with plenty of water and still plenty of beach for lake access. Fishing for cash, raffles for boats, bobbing for prizes and enjoying the outdoors all add up to great family fun in the Kern River Valley in the spring. Check out the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce website for all the info. • 760-379-5236 24 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |




Jesse Hopkin’s picture of daughter Noel fishing off the dock of an Oregon Coast lake last September for largemouth is the winner of our monthly Yo-Zuri Photo Contest. It wins him gear from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines!

Earl Foytack is our monthly Ontario Knife Co. Photo Contest winner, thanks to this pic of granddaughter Emily and her first deer, a blacktail taken last fall in Washington. It wins him a knife from Ontario Knife Company!

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For your shot at winning hunting and fishing products, send your photos and pertinent (who, what, when, where) details to or 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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Straddling the Arizona-California border, the lower Colorado River offers anglers with a great spring option to chase large- and smallmouth bass, plus stripers. (JEFF WALTERS)



ass fishing on the lower Colorado River is vastly different than it is on any of the major reservoirs that have been created on this waterway. Most anglers who know about the Colorado mainly fish locations such as Lake Mead, Lake Havasu, Martinez Lake and many of the other larger impoundments up and down the river. However, here we’ll focus on the moving river itself and the 135 or so miles from Parker to Yuma in Arizona that are open to fishing.

of the moving water than largemouth or stripers. However, smallmouth are found everywhere. Stripers prefer the deeper channels in moving water and are often found near the trout hatcheries along the river, where they wait for their meal ticket to swim by. These places include Willow Beach, home to the now famous A.C. Plug bait. Colorado River largemouth are so sought after that many anglers have experienced fish that are “line shy” and more difficult to catch. Many areas offer year-round bass tournaments and other events focused on bass fishing.

BASS BONANZA There are the three major bass species to fish for in the river – well, two true ones and another: largemouth, smallmouth and stripers. Each is found throughout the entire river drainage in the habitat that the species likes the best. Smallmouth seem to prefer more

FISHING THE COLORADO There is just so much an angler can do in any one summer fishing this vast waterway. By breaking it down from north to south with places to stay, hours of operation, marinas, best fishing areas, some new products and

some tricks as well, we will point you in the right direction so that you arrive well armed with the information you need.

EQUIPMENT One of the most forgotten pieces of gear to bring is none other than a simple GPS device. Many of the modern fish finders made today have a GPS system already built in, although for fishing the river your electronics will be mostly used for depth control. Some state-of-the-art trolling motors offer some features that may be helpful in a moving water environment as well. So don’t forget your GPS device so you can program the directions back to the marina. You can find downloadable maps at the Division of Boat and Waterways website ( Having an anchor on your boat is also another good option to consider. We all know that many anglers rely | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman



Optimum Baits offers several lures that will catch the Colorado’s large populations of smallmouth, largemouth and striped bass. (JEFF WALTERS)

on their troll trolling ling motor to get them where they need on d to go. However, H the river there are many sandbars, rock piles and other submerged obstacles that may be a good place to drop anchor and fish the surrounding area. Sitting on a sandbar with the anchor out only about a dozen feet away from the main channel may provide some good fishing. Radios and a good cell phone are a must for fishing the river. We all know that not seeing another boat for hours while fishing is pure paradise

in some areas, but when you need help, that paradise may seem like a living hell. So having a good radio or mobile phone is a very good idea, and always let someone know where you are. I know we hear it all the time but safety is very important, so be careful and be prepared. As far as what rod and reel to use, it’s strictly up to you. That said, using a good quality line is one of the more important items to consider. You will be fishing in some thick structure from time to time – the rock walls, jet-

ties, trees and whatever else you may run into could be problematic – so having a good, strong and dependable line is important. For most of your time on the river you will be in moving water. Although there are many sloughs and slow pockets to fish, you will for the most part always be on the move. That is why a strong trolling motor with a flexible shaft is highly recommended. Something with up to 65 pounds of thrust will keep you somewhat stable in the fast-moving current.

WHERE TO LAUNCH, WHERE TO STAY The following locations will help you plan your bass fishing trip around the lower Colorado River: BlueWater Resort and Casino 11300 Resort Drive Parker, Arizona 85344 (928) 669-7000 BlueWater Resort and Casino offers quite a lot for this area – over 200 rooms, 160-plus slots in the marina, launching, full boat service, fuel, food, entertainment; they’ve got it all. They also hold a huge bass fishing tournament every February, when they hold at least 20 rooms open just for the event. The resort offers RV parking, a launch ramp, Wi-Fi access, etc. The general launch fee is $10 and it’s free if you are a guest staying at the resort. Call for more information. It’s roughly 16 miles north to Parker Dam from this location, so you can only go north. BlueWater Resort is 288 miles from San Diego and 262 miles from Los Angeles. It’s good for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Big River RV Park 1 Marina Street Big River, California 92242 (760) 665-9359 Big River is very well known to anglers and boaters. You have to be staying there in your RV to launch, but they do have a great reputation for being the best-kept secret around as far as solitude goes. In the heat of the summer this place gets crowded and a lot of party people come to play in their boats. But in the spring and winter you have the whole place to yourself, more or less. Call ahead for rates and further information. It is roughly 40 miles south to Palo Verde Dam and is another good fishing area for. largemouth and smallmouth. Mayflower Park 4980 Colorado River Road Blythe, California 92242 (760) 922-4665 (800) 234-PARK for reservations

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This is one of least expensive places and easiest to access, with a launch fee of $3 and $3 fee per person for day use. With over 152 sites and many RV slots with full hookups available, it costs $25 for full water and power, and $18 for water hookups only (call for further camping info). The park is just 6 miles from Blythe, but make sure to purchase all of your supplies in town, as there is no marina service or fuel for sale and no onsite store. You have about 6 miles upstream to fish to the Palo Verde Dam and 80 miles south to Yuma and the Imperial Dam. It’s best for smallmouth, with some largemouth in the slower sections. Walter’s Camp 2556 Walter’s Camp Road Palo Verde, California 92266 (760) 854-3322 Walter’s is one of the most secluded camping and launching areas around, as it’s surrounded by the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. If staying the night there’s no cost to launch; otherwise it is $10 to cals l port por ort rttssman sma man m mag com | MARCH MARCH MA RC CH 2019 CH 2019 201 20 01 0 1 19 9 C California Ca Cal a allif iifo ffo orn rni r niia S n Sportsman por por po ortsm tsm ts man


FISHING launch with a day-use fee of $4. RV and camping spots are available for $25 per night, $15 for electrical hookups (call ahead for further details). It is 40 miles upstream to Blythe and 40 miles downstream to Yuma. There’s good fishing for every bass species. Fisher’s Landing 10882 N. Swedeway Yuma, Arizona 85365 (928) 782-7049 One of the best all-around places to launch, Fisher’s features a full-service marina, store that sells tackle, boat service, fuel sales, food and a bar and grill. There is no fee to launch or park. It’s all on a first-come, first-serve basis, with plenty of parking and RV spaces. There are also plenty of big fish pictures, suggesting this is a great place to launch from. This area is known for its early-morning topwater bite. It’s worth the trip to stop by and say hi, grab some food and go fishing, which can be good for everything. JW

TACTICS Fishing in this water is different and takes place maybe in the first 5 feet from the shore while casting to the shoreline and bringing the bait or lure back to the boat. Hitting tight pockets as you float by and casting to the telltale signs of hidden or exposed structure will reward you with fish all day long. This is fast, hit-and-miss fishing. The main forage is shad of all sizes, but mainly in 2- or 3-inch range, which are the most common. The smaller bluegill, crappie and sunfish stay closer to the shore and out of the stronger current, so you know the predators are just waiting nearby. Needless to say, shallow-running crankbaits that mimic these baitfish work best. Shallow is also important because most of the moving water is only around 15 to 19 feet deep, and it drops off quickly. Using the trolling motor to stay in the current and within casting dis-

tance to the shore is the hardest part. One angler can navigate the boat while the other one or two spend time fishing, later exchanging places. This set-up works the best for all anglers fishing, affording the luxury of fishing and not piloting the boat. The use of plastics such as IKAs as well as slow-moving drop-shot methods can be used in places outside the current. But for use in the current, you really need to be on your game to succeed. Some people cast up ahead of the boat direction closer to the shore – yet out just a little – and work the line faster as you approach. This has brought some real nice bass to the boat in the past. Just because the water is moving fast doesn’t mean you can forget all of your tricks. Heavy jigheads with flashy skirts work well early in the morning most days. Skinny Bear Jigs has a real nice 3/8-ounce jig with a salt and pepper skirt fitted with something like Optimum Baits’ 3-inch Swim Tail attached to it. This jig produces when others won’t. So remember that color and configuration and bring a few along. Crankbaits like the IMA Flit are a good choice to use as well. They provide good casting distance, run shallow, feature good vibration and a movement that invites those big bass to take a bite. IMA also makes a nice crayfish crankbait called Rock-N-Vibe. This “Smallmouth seem to prefer more of the moving water than largemouth or stripers,” author Jeff Walters says of the lower Colorado. “However, smallmouth are found everywhere.” (JEFF WALTERS)

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little crank has the flash, the sound and the running depth needed to bounce along some of the structure closer to shore. Though there is not that much in the way of stocker trout in these waters, swimbaits will produce. Optimum Baits’ smaller Baby Line Through series – or BLT, as it is affectionately called – is perfect for this type of fishing. Strong, durable and weighted, this bait stands up to the beating of fast-moving water. Once the fish hits the bait, the hook remains free of the bait while still attached to the fish, saving the bait from being beaten up by the fish. Another type of fishing has gained in popularity on the river and that is using a big white streamer fly on conventional gear. The most popular fly used for this is called the B/S Fly, named after professional fly fishing guide Bob Slamal out of Riverside. His fly mimics the threadfin shad found throughout the river. It is a very effective pattern to use either trolling, casting or as a trailing stinger set-up. Topwater is always an option in the early-morning hours. Even though the current is moving fast, there are areas covered in tules and other weed growth, so frog patterns work well here. This is mainly early in the morning or early evening all along the river. Hit the same areas in the morning and again in the late afternoon. CS



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Joel King admires an average Lake Barrett largemouth. These northern-strain bass fight hard for their size at this lake that is so popular that a lottery will decide who gets tickets to fish it as its May opener approaches. (BILL SCHAEFER)



ake Barrett, the popular payto-play lake located in San Diego’s East County will be open for business in May. Yes, I said May and this is March, but tickets go on sale in April via TicketMaster, which handles a lottery for fishing spaces. It is always held the month before the dates you wish to fish. So set up an account and get ready for the fun.

HUNGRY BASS WAITING This lake has been shut down for a little over six months now, which means that by the time the lake opens bass will be hitting every lure you can toss at them. With the water

up from a very wet winter, fish will head straight to the sticks and brush, as they traditionally do, so get ready to do some flipping. You will also be able to use frogs and call them out of the brush with buzzbaits. That’s definitely a favorite technique of mine. In years’ past, Barrett would produce 100-fish days for every angler. Now, a 100-fish day for two can be a rare treat. Realistically, two fishermen should be able to get into the 40- to 60-bass range if they find a large school. But even 30 to 40 fish caught would represent a higher tally than most other lakes average around Southern California. Just remember that Barrett bass will eat every lure you bring to this

lake. That alone can make it more enjoyable. You can gain confidence in a lot of lures that are collecting dust in your tackle box.

WATER LEVEL LOOKING GOOD This past rainy season didn’t disappoint and it doesn’t take much rain to fill Barrett up. Water levels should be good and that translates into a lot more shoreline to fish, along with a lot of brush in the water for the fish to hide in. The bass run to the brush when they have it at this lake, so you will need to fish worms. The old favorite is the Yamamoto Senko, though Yamamoto Ikas, Texas-rigged worms and jigs will also do very well. There | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


FISHING Author Bill Schaefer shows how dropshot fishing rocky points can also be quite productive at Lake Barrett. “This lake has been shut down for a little over six months now,” he writes, “which means by the time the lake opens bass will be hitting every lure you can toss at them.” (BILL SCHAEFER)

should be topwater action early. Buzzbaits seem to call the fish out of the sunken brush here, so make sure you have one tied on. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are good bets too.

KNOW THE RULES One other thing to remember about this lake, and it is important to know, is that Barrett is a catch-and-release fishery, meaning you must use barbless hooks. And yes, California Department of Fish and Wildlife does come out and check. You do not have to squeeze down the barbs on everything in the boat, but once tied on to your line you must take pliers and flatten the barb on that bait.

LINE CHECK With all that brush and sticks in the water – as well as the lake always being a bit stained – you will want to go with some heavier line. Barrett bass are not line-shy, so why risk losing a big one? I use my Daiwa Tatula gear spooled up with either their new Jx8 braid in 50-pound green, or if using mono I go with Maxima 12- to 20-pound Ultragreen line. You want to be able to turn that fish’s head


and get him heading your direction. That way you can pull him out of the thick, heavy cover.

NO ONE GOOD SPOT So you have a ticket to fish Barrett; where do you start once you get there? Just pick an empty shoreline and start fishing. The bass are everywhere. There really is no making a wrong choice when looking for fish at this lake. Regardless of whether it’s a rock, brush or gravel shoreline, they all hold fish. May should have the bass coming off their spawn and starting to cruise the shoreline and chasing shad. The lake holds northern-strain black bass and they do school up in wolf packs while roaming the shoreline. Barrett is one of the few that holds these fish, and they are ferocious and mean, fighting and pulling like little freight trains once hooked. This lake gives the feeling of fishing a private impoundment. You feel special being led into the lake in the morning by the ranger. With the water up, the few boats on the lake will be spread out to give everyone more room to fish.

34 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

The lake also holds crappie, various sunfish, and catfish. Although great eating fish, you do have to let them all go. The crappie population is small it seems, but you will catch them around some of the rocky points. The sunfish here are giants, and many times that bass bite you got is really a giant sunfish attacking your lure. Some are as big as a dinner plate! Catfish often come as incidental catches while largemouth fishing. But the real target at this lake is the bass. There are a ton in this lake, too, and remember, they haven’t seen a lure in six to seven months. This is a great place to introduce your kids to bass fishing, impress your boss or share a day with your best fishing buddy. They will all catch fish here. There are no concessions at the lake, so you must bring in all the water and food you will need. It can get really hot here in the summer, so make sure you have plenty of water to drink. You are a long way from help and don’t want to ruin your day on this special lake. If everyone plays by the rules, Barrett is an amazing place to experience. Its unique atmosphere and fishing make it a very memorable place to visit and catch bass. CS



he first couple of months are always the best at Lake Barrett, but with high water, who knows? Tickets usually go on sale the second Tuesday of the month before you wish to visit and will stay on sale through TicketMaster until all spaces are sold out. That is 100 spaces a day for 25 boats. Kayaks and float tubes are welcome too. You can check out all the details and when to get ready at BS | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman




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FISHING A wet and snowy winter means a lot of cold water for the Sacramento and Feather Rivers, and that could make for what MSJ Guide Service’s Manny Saldana calls an “epic” spring run. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)




lot of winter rain and snow means a lot of water in the Sacramento and Feather Rivers this spring, and that could mean a dynamite striped bass run. Here’s veteran guide Manny Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service (530301-7455; on

how he thinks the next couple months could unfold: “I’m really excited. It’s going to be an epic year; I can sense it and I can smell it.” The numbers already suggest the rivers around Saldana’s Marysville/ Yuba City base will have ample and more importantly cold water when the fish start coming in toward the

end of March and throughout what figures to be the peak in April. One such stat Saldana provided was that Keswick Reservoir, upstream on the Sacramento River near Redding, was already at 68 percent in early February just before a new set of storms slammed Northern California at the end of the month. A weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman



“My favorite way, realistically, is doing it artificially,” says Saldana, who favors an Optimum Baits swimbait to entice a linesider into striking. “It takes more skill to catch them (with artificial baits) compared to putting on some live bait and drifting.” (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

river – similar to what happened in the state in 2016 – was responsible for massive amounts of rain- and snowfall late last month, which led Saldana to citing another telling number. “We have, right now, about 150 percent of normal of snowpack in the Sierra. So we’ve got a lot of snow,” Saldana said in late February. “I think if anything, (with more snow and rain) and the water temperature may be colder than normal, I think we have to switch up a little bit of tactics just a bit ...” “But I think more water is going to favor us more than hurt us. Because if you think about it, before they ever put in a dam on the Sacramento or Feather Rivers, what melted is what you got. And by the looks of the numbers I think our fisheries looked better (before the dams were built).”

er and that’s where they spawned and took off. They favored the cooler water. They typically say (spawning starts) at 68, but we start seeing them at 63 start to spawn. The colder water will keep the fish in longer.” A key to how successful fishing in the rivers will be – especially in the larger Sacramento River – is in the form of all the creeks, channels and sloughs that enter the rivers. Local anglers refer it as the water getting “sweeter.” “Because we have so many different little rivers, canals, creeks, sloughs – more in the Sacramento – what that does is flush out a lot of food,” Saldana said. “It can be crawdads or anything the rice farmers dump out in the summertime. Stripers love it because they’re sitting there waiting for the food. There’s just a lot of food and nutrients for them.”

When the stripers are running, you can catch them with various methods, including drifting live minnows and other baits. Saldana prefers going in a different direction with his clients. “My favorite way, realistically, is doing it artificially. It takes more skill to catch them (with artificial baits) compared to putting on some live bait and drifting. Live bait is easy and effective,” he said. “But if I had my way, I’d prefer to catch them (with lures). It’s a little more of a challenge in training your clients to do it like this. Hopefully they can become better anglers as well.” Saldana’s go-to artificial bait is the Optimum 4-inch swimbait, the Bad Bubba Shad. Casting these swimbaits offer anglers a chance of being “really interactive.” Last year, another atmospheric river scenario brought a late burst of water into the rivers in late March, turning frowns upside down when the forecast for cooler water seemed bleak. Now, it appears that everything is set up for great fishing starting from late March into May, and some even hope that fish will still be around in early June. “I’ll tell you what: If we have water and we have fish, it’s pretty simple; we’re going to have a good April for sure,” said Saldana, who then doubled down on the high expectations. “After we start in late March, we should have an epic April.” CS

KEEP THE WATER COOL Saldana said that as long as the water temperature in late March and throughout April and May stays around 55 degrees or slightly more, the stripers should remain active. “If it gets up to 60, 61, 62 and 63, they start to spawn. And so if we can get something in the mid-50s, that’s going to keep them there longer,” he said. “That’s why last year a lot of them ran in the mouth of the Yuba River, in that colder water. That’s where they were sitting and then they went back out into the other rivers like the Feath-

Water temperatures in the mid-50s are expected for the end of March and throughout April, when the fishing is expected to be at its best. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

38 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |


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From saltwater species to largemouth bass and catfish, the author Tim Hovey (right, above) and his family, wife Cheryl and daughters Alyssa and Jessica, have taken advantage of the myriad opportunities around their Southland home. (TIM E. HOVEY)



n a lifetime of angling in the Golden State, I have sought out and discovered all sorts of fishing opportunities available to just about any fisherman. From my days as a cash-limited youth to my time drifting the open ocean in search of big game species,

I have been focused on finding any available angling opportunity most of my life. While some were inexpensive and initially born out of convenience, I find that returning to these areas later in life brings back some awesome memories of my youth and my time as a younger angler thirsting to learn | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


FISHING cial worm and danced them in front of the staging fish. The hungry trout couldn’t resist. Rito and I spent several hours catching healthy-sized trout and releasing them all. The entire fishing session only lasted a few hours, but the company, the scenery and the nonstop fishing action sets that day at the top of the list.


With spring arriving soon, Hovey and other Southern Californians will flock to the Eastern Sierra for some outstanding trout fishing. (TIM E. HOVEY)

whatever I could. I also found that when it came time for me to teach my daughters how to fish, a few of these childhood spots proved perfect. If you’re a California sportsman looking for something different, here are some of my favorite types of fishing available to anyone willing to widen their angling experiences.

SHORE FISHING This is where it all started for me. As a kid, I would ride my bike down to the beach in Santa Barbara and cast sand crabs and sand worms into the frothy surf. At the shore is where I learned the basics of fishing. And as an adult, I find peace when I return to the shore to fish. Just like me, my daughters learned to fish down at the shore, casting in the surf. I really enjoy the convenience and just the ease of access. When they were younger, we’d head down to the coast to spend the day at the beach to fish. While practicing their casting and hook setting, we’d spend hours catching barred surfperch in the white water of the waves. It’s a family tradition that I will remember forever. While I will always look at

the shore with a sense of excitement for what may lie just beyond the waves, I have a stronger sense that at the coast is where my family and I learned to fish.

EASTERN SIERRA TROUT FISHING I think if I sat back and thought about my trout fishing trips, I could count on one hand the number of truly amazing experiences I’ve had chasing trout. The getaway at the top of the list was a quick weekend trip with my buddy Rito. We headed to the Bishop area to find a creek that neither of us had been to before. Steered to the magical creek by a friend, we were assured of 14- to 18-inch rainbows in a shallow feeder creek to one of the main lakes. After hours of searching and backtracking, the landmarks and directions finally started making sense. We found the creek and started tossing small jigs to staging trout. The trout were preparing to spawn as they migrated up from one of the high-elevation lakes. After watching the fish and trying different things, we finally discovered a technique that couldn’t miss. We tipped white jigs with an artifi-

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With the Channel Islands only 26 miles off Santa Barbara and Long Beach and the fertile waters within the channel and beyond available to small boats – weather permitting – California boasts some of the best offshore fishing opportunities on the West Coast. With year-round populations of white sea bass, yellowtail and halibut available near shore and the seasonal presence of yellowfin and bluefin tuna, marlin and dorado, California offers world-class fishing. I’ve owned two boats, spent much of my college career offshore and have been fortunate to sample the near-shore angling for the last few decades. However, one of my favorite trips occurred just a few years ago. Back in 2015, my cousin Jim invited me out to fish the coastal islands in his 24-foot Sea Sport. He had been tracking the angling action and bait availability over the previous few weeks and conditions looked good for our planned trip. We headed out before light and arrived on the backside of Anacapa Island just as the sun rose over the horizon. Drifting along in 200 feet of water, we jigged for bait until the bait tank was loaded with perfect-sized mackerel. Jim grabbed a larger boat rod, baited it up with a live mackerel and sent it to the bottom. Minutes later, his rod bent sharply in the holder. After a serious battle, Jim wrestled a 25-pound yellowtail to the surface. I gaffed the fish and brought it aboard. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to cruise the islands off the Southland coast and catch tuna, do- | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


FISHING rado, albacore, white sea bass, yellowtail and a handful of other game species. And with every return trip to the harbor, I think the same thought: I am so lucky I live here.

HARBOR FISHING I was in college, and after a full day of sampling out on the open ocean, we’d often find ourselves tied up in one of the coastal harbors on the research boat. With a few hours of free time every evening, we’d frequently grab rods, jump into one of the work skiffs and cast lures at the jetty walls and boat docks. I learned to fish with artificial lures in the protected harbors during those college days. Last year, during a cloudy Saturday, I decided to drive down to Long Beach Harbor and see if the fishing was still as good as I remembered. A good friend, John Matilla, was along for the ride and helped me pick out good-looking spots when we reached the harbor. We spent the morning tossing AA rubber lures to areas near boat docks and piers, looking for anything that was biting. We slowly got into the angling rhythm and started catching barred sandbass and spotted bass. Changing up lure colors, I caught a juvenile kelp bass that was lurking in the shadows of a cement dock pillar. The harbor fishing was slow, but the time down at the harbor casting from the rocks brought me back to a time when fishing was not only my hobby, but through my college education was about to become part of my career.

LARGEMOUTH BASS I will admit it: I consider myself an average bass fisherman at best. Of all the species available to a California angler, I have spent less time chasing largemouth than any other. But I have a handful of techniques that have always produced and I seldom deviate from what has worked for me in the past. I caught my largest bass, a

If you have a boat or can get on a vessel with a charter captain, you can catch some colorful yellowtail or other exotic species for some delicious table fare. (TIM E. HOVEY)

6½-pounder, out of a residential pond back in college. I was using a small purple-colored worm with no weight. I’d simply toss the lure out, let it sink and watch the line for bites. In 2016, I took my family to a private ranch pond loaded with bass. Using what I know, I rigged everyone

44 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

up with the same small purple worm with no weight. I instructed them to cast the offering out and then watch the line for any movement that indicated a bite. By the end of the afternoon, the Hovey clan had caught over 20 largemouth, with my daughter Alyssa

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Whether you fish along a rocky shoreline, a rural pond or up at a Sierra stream, “An angler’s heart never grows old,” Hovey writes. (TIM E. HOVEY)

catching a solid 2½-pounder. It was an awesome family day, as each one of us caught fish. Maybe I’m a better bass fisherman than I think.

CATFISH As a kid, I spent a lot of time tossing bait off the shores of the local lakes waiting for big catfish to bite. I’d pick my spots carefully, set up a rod holder and toss the smelliest bait into the deep channels of the lake. I caught my fair share of monster cats, and while most of the technique involved waiting, I became proficient enough that I would catch catfish every time I went. When my daughters were around 12 and 14, my wife and I took them fishing at Lake Santa Margarita. I did a little scouting online and found that large catfish were biting when the water was calm during the morning and evening.

Our first morning there, we headed out early. I set everyone up with a sharp hook and a chunk of mackerel that was wrapped repeatedly with black thread to secure it to the hook. The girls were pros at casting, so they picked their own spots and we waited. It didn’t take long. Alyssa was the first to hook up, a nice 8-pound channel catfish. We decided to keep that one for dinner. My wife caught a white catfish that was about 4 pounds and which we tossed back. I caught a monster 13-pounder that gave me a heck of a fight. After we took a few photos the girls gently released it. Jessica was the only one who hadn’t caught anything yet and was feeling a little left out. No matter how many times you tell a 12-year-old to be patient, it just never sticks. Thankfully, the fishing gods decided to let her play.

46 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

Her rod was leaning up against a log when I saw it start to bend. Then it got dragged over the log and started to disappear into the lake. She grabbed it, set the hook sharply and spent the next five minutes wrestling the giant catfish at the end of her line. In the shallows, I grabbed the giant by the tail and hauled it ashore. One of my favorite photos is of her holding that 15-pound monster channel cat.

WHERE THERE ARE FISH, HE WILL FOLLOW As an angler, I will never tire of that pulse of excitement when I feel that tug on the line. It doesn’t matter if I am soaking mackerel at the islands or tossing bait in a deep hole in a freshwater lake. Fishing has defined my interest and my life and I will never tire of it. I heard somewhere that an angler’s heart never grows old. I truly believe that. CS

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Author Scott Haugen ranks surfperch among his favorite seafood, so he goes to great effort to optimize opportunities to catch the most fish possible every time he hits the beach. (SCOTT HAUGEN)



urfperch fishing is reaching a feverish pitch up and down the West Coast. Not only are there many places to easily access beaches where surfperch abound, limits are generous and these fish are some of the tastiest bounty the ocean offers. Gearing up is simple, as is rigging a

rod. However, catching high numbers isn’t always a guarantee. That said, in my effort to consistently catch more perch, no matter when or where I go I’m always tinkering with gear. The set-up I’m going to share is what gear I’ve found to be most efficient in the widest range of conditions when I’ve fished for surfperch off the beach.

ROD My surfperch rod of choice is a G.Loomis steelhead float fishing rod; specifically it’s an STFR 1474 with a medium-heavy rating and is 12 feet, 3 inches long. This is a fast-action rod with a line weight range of 10- to 17-pound test and ideal for fishing ¼ to 1 ounce in weight, but I’ll use much | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman





Tiffany Haugen loves the family outings she and her family have enjoyed in fishing for perch along the Pacific Ocean shoreline, but these feisty fish provide great options for recipes, including this peanut-infused dish. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

By Tiffany Haugen


t’s hard to decide if surfperch are more fun to catch or more fun to eat. Running around on the beach, digging bait and pulling perch from the surf is a riot. It’s especially entertaining when you’ve got kids and dogs running around joining the adventure. Perch is a delicate, mild-flavored fish that pairs well with many recipes. The fish vary in size, but on average you can get six to eight nice “nuggets” for pan frying. Fry coating can be as simple as crushed soda crackers or as elaborate as you wish, depending on your flavor crave of the day. Try a recipe with peanuts for a delicious flavor. Last spring my family fished perch on the beach with the folks at Pacific Outfitters (707-443-6328; out of Eureka. If new to perch fishing, consider a guided trip with these wonderful folks, as they’ll

teach you about gear, tides, and much more. 1 pound perch fillets ½ cup ground peanuts ½ cup panko breadcrumbs 1 egg 1 tablespoon water 1/3 cup flour 1 teaspoon salt Olive or coconut oil for pan frying Remove skin and bones from perch. Cut nuggets to desired serving size. In a food processor or mini-chopper, finely chop nuts, but only a few pulses, as you don’t want peanut butter. In a shallow dish, mix finely chopped peanuts with panko. In another shallow dish, mix flour and salt. In another shallow dish, beat an egg together with 1 tablespoon water. Coat fish with seasoned flour, dip

50 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

in egg, then coat with nut mixture, pressing into fish. Place coated fish pieces on a plate. Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a large skillet. Add coated perch and pan fry one or two minutes per side. If fish is browning too fast, turn heat to medium. Serve with your favorite mango or peach salsa over greens, if desired. Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany’s popular book, Cooking Seafood, send a check for $20 (free S&H), to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This and other cookbooks can also be ordered at tiffanyhaugen. com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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FISHING more weight than that. I know, I know; I can hear it now! “Isn’t that a bit of an overkill for perch fishing?” That’s what my wife said. The truth is that this is my favorite all-around float rod for summer and winter steelhead; plus it’s also the perfect perch fishing rod. It’s long, allowing you to cast great distances. When placed in the pole holder it keeps the line above the surf, which keeps the terminal gear in the strike zone. REEL The reel I finally settled on has been a big game changer. It’s Shimano’s Ultegra Ci4+ XTC in size 5500. This spinning reel is built for surfcasting and features a quick and very easy-to-use speed drag. When you wade out to cast, simply loosen the drag with a very slight turn of the gear, cast, walk back to the beach, tighten the drag and you’re set. Sometimes you might be wading 50 yards or more into the surf to cast, and having a reel that allows the line to come off the spool through light drag tension while you’re walking back to shore means there are no tangles like those commonly encountered through free-spooling a flipped bail. Plus, the instant drag design gives the added bonus of feeling a bite and setting the hook should a strike come quickly even if it’s before you make it back to the rod holder. The Ci4+ is very light and makes for easy, long-range casting. Its construction is bulletproof when it comes to taking harsh saltwater wear and tear. The reel features a large diameter, long-stroke spool that allows for up to 41 inches of line to be retrieved per crank. It also has a very slow oscillation system that results in ideal line lay and allows the line to perfectly leave the spool with every cast. In other words, you can cast far and the take-up is fast and smooth.

intend to fish and go with the most hooks that are legally allowed. If you buy premade leaders that have only two hooks, you can add a third. Perch travel in schools, and the more bait you can have in the water, the better the chance of getting bites. SINKERS Your sinker should go below the bottom hook. A pyramid-style sinker works fine, but some of the underwater camera work I’ve done revealed that these sinkers move around in the surf a lot more than I thought. So, in an effort to secure my bait and keep it in the sweet spot, I switched to a 4-ounce Sputnik-style sinker. The four wire legs of a Sputnik sinker lock into the lead body via plastic beads. When the sinker hits the sandy bottom, these wire legs dig in to hold your bait in place, even in the heaviest of waves. When a fish strikes or if you need to reel in for any reason, simply give the rod a quick tug and the wire legs collapse, allowing your gear to be

HOOKS As for hooks, use as many as are legal – usually three in most areas. Check the regulations in the area you 52 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

reeled in without the legs digging into the sand. ROD HOLDER This represents a simple but needed piece of gear. I like one that’s at least 3 feet high, as this helps keep the rod tip up and the line off the water. This is where that 12-foot rod comes in handy, too. BOUNTY OF THE SURF The gear I’ve suggested is the best setup I’ve found and one all serious perch anglers will want to take a close look at. The great thing is, the rod and reel will last a long time and truly do play a big part in catching more perch. And for me, the more perch I can catch the better, as these are some of the most delicious fish on the planet. CS Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott & Tiffany Haugen’s latest cookbook, Cooking Seafood, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or visit

The author’s surf perch set-up features a 12-foot, 3-inch rod teamed with Shimano’s specialized Ultegra Ci4+ XTC spinning reel in size 5500, Sputnik-style sinker and two-hook leader baited with sand crabs. (SCOTT HAUGEN) | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


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PARALLEL PUNK PERCH A lliteration is a wonderful thing … unless carried on for too long. Then it becomes a terrible GUIDE FLY tome of tarnished, By Tony Lolli terse, taboo, tawdry tricks that thwart transcendental tranquility. But, I digress. Tom Loe owns Sierra Drifters Guide Service (, Facebook and Instagram). He’s had years of success guiding clients with this fly on California’s Eagle and Crowley Lakes and Bridgeport Reservoir, Oregon’s Crane Prairie Reservoir, Nevada’s Pyramid Lake and Utah’s Strawberry Reservoir. Loe’s been a trout guide for 40 years. Anyone who’s been in the business that long knows a thing or two about the tools of his/her trade. So, it’s advised to pay attention to what he has to say (whether or not he’s buying your next big bargain barrel of bright Bohemian beer). He says the Parallel Punk Perch was devised to imitate Sacramento Delta perch fry that inhabit numerous Western reservoirs and lakes. By altering the color of the body dubbing it can also match the profile of other small forage fish, damselfly nymphs, cranefly nymphs, longhorn sedge caddis, swimming leeches and larger stillwater mayfly profiles. It’s a versatile pattern that can be fished by a myriad of subsurface techniques, including stripping it as a streamer. Fished below a strike indicator with the fly depth set in the section of water that the naturals are migrating in, this fly is effective. And if you have trout that feed on forage fish or larger aquatic nymphs, it’s a must! “The Parallel Punk Perch can be classified as a ‘strymph’ pattern,” says Loe. “It has characteristics of both a streamer and a nymph. The unique feature is how the jig-style hook shank


MATERIALS Hooks: TMC 403BLJ sizes12 through 16 Thread: 8/0 black waxed Bead: Tungsten Black Nickel 3/32-inch, slid onto the pin before it is tied to the hook shank. Extension: Small diameter, flat head straight pin cut to fit two-thirds of the length of hook shaft. Tied on top of hook shaft to protrude beyond hook

is made to ride level or parallel to the bottom while the hook point rides up. “A cantilevered shape of the jig hook is accomplished by using a trimmed, small-diameter flathead pin. A tungsten bead is first inserted onto the pin and then the pin is attached to the hook shank forward of the hook eye. As a result, the fly will lay parallel to the lake bottom, appearing very natural. “This appearance is vital in fooling trophy trout concentrating in shallow, clear water where your target can scrutinize imitations at a distance before they commit. Tied to the tippet correctly, a jig-style hook is very effective setting the hook in the lower part of the upper jaw. You will see an improved percentage of grabs to hooksets using a jig-style hook. I can honestly say that the unique features of this fly will give

eye 30 percent. Body: Arizona gray/Olive Simi Seal Tail: Olive marabou tips, Hareline Marabou Olive Brown XS265 Tail Flash: Three strands of Hareline KF18 lime to be tied length of tail Ribbing: Small silver wire Gil Band: Red 8/0 unwaxed

you advantage over others fishing a fly tied on a standard J-style hook,” says Loe. So, there you have it. A facetious fabrication of a fly fishing fry fly facsimile with enough finesse to fool finicky fish. If you’ll excuse me, I’m headed hastily to hearth and home (with hopes of getting rid of this headache). If you’re a guide with an innovative fly to share, contact me (tonylolli@ and I’ll send the details. CS Editor’s notes: This new column will rotate monthly between California Sportsman and sister titles Northwest Sportsman and Alaska Sporting Journal. Autographed copies of Tony Lolli’s new book, Art of the Fishing Fly, with an intro by President Jimmy Carter, are available from Tony Lolli, 1589 Legeer Rd., Grantsville, MD 21536 for $30 with free shipping. | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


HUNTING Casey Ca ase seyy Co Compton omppto tonn pr pprepares eppar a es es ttoo call caalll iinn a tom toom whililee on a sspring whil wh while prinng tu pr turkey urkkey hhunt untt inn RRedding. un eddi ed d ng di ng.. Coomppto Compton tonn wa w wass fo focused ocuuse sedd on o hhelping elpi el ping pi ngg hhis is ffriend, is rien ri end, en d d, auth au author thor th or Tim or Tim mH Hovey, o ey ov ey,, ha harv harvest rves rv est a to est es tom. om m.. (TIM ((TI TIIM EE.. H HOVEY) OVEY) OVE Y)



spotted the three gobblers just off the highway, 20 miles outside Redding in Northern California’s Shasta County. The three strutting toms were prancing in the green grass at the edge of a park and ride. I took the off ramp and drove into the huge parking lot. The turkeys were moving towards a fenced piece of property and were more concerned with chasing each other than anything else.

By the time I pulled up and parked, the trio was just cresting an oak-covered hill. With camera in hand, I watched them disappear over a field of green without ever taking a photo.

IN 2016, MY FRIEND Casey Compton invited me and my daughter Alyssa up to Redding to chase gobblers. The goal for that trip was to get Alyssa her first turkey, and Casey delivered dramatically, crossing a raging river to

secure Alyssa’s tom (California Sportsman, May 2016). Due to prior commitments, we were unable to head back up in 2017, but I couldn’t pass up an invite from Casey in 2018. Alyssa was finishing up her senior year in high school and unfortunately couldn’t come along. With only a week left in the spring season, I pulled into the Best Western in Redding and secured my room. An hour before sundown, Casey and I met up at a Chevron station. We | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman 57

HUNTING drove into the area we’d be hunting the next day. With binoculars in hand, we hiked to a small knoll to watch a small group of birds fly up to their roost. A few minutes before the sunset, the group of birds took flight and landed high in a pine tree. Casey leaned

over and whispered, “We’ll be back here early tomorrow morning before they fly down.” I was exhausted from the long drive up from Southern California, and with an early wake-up call the next day, I headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

At 3:30 a.m. I found myself driving through the deserted roads of Redding. Casey wanted to meet up at 4 so we’d have time to hike in undetected in the dark and find a spot to sit. Having put the birds to bed the previous evening, the idea was to gently call to them on their roost and hopefully coax them in our direction once we were set up. Using nothing but starlight to guide us, we stumbled to a suitable spot about 100 yards from the roost tree. Casey quickly put out a hen decoy and we got as comfortable as we could while sitting in the dew-covered grass and leaning against an ice-cold oak.

WITH SUNRISE OVER THAT dark field still

This had been a go-to place for Casey and Tim in the past, and the hunters did spot plenty of jakes and toms. (TIM E. HOVEY)

58 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

an hour away, Casey and I quietly talked about life. Casey told me about his rough upbringing and how he felt that in his 30s he was finally moving towards the life he wanted. We talked about his new son, born a few months before, and I made a mental note to drop a gift card in the mail to him for the occasion. Despite being there to kill a turkey, that comfortable conversation with Casey was already well worth the trip. As the sun started to light up the terrain, the roosted turkeys began to make noise. Using a diaphragm call, Casey clucked softly to the treed birds. Several loud gobbles erupted from the branches. Casey waited a full two minutes and quietly called again. The response was the same. He leaned over to me and said, “We’ll kill a tom from this group.” Lost in the loudness of the roosted bird’s response was a second set of birds roosted directly in front of us puttering at Casey’s call. Then all went silent. The birds we were attempting to lure close flew down and headed away from us, their gobbles growing fainter with distance. The birds in front of us responded with less than robust gobbles, an indication that they were first-year males, or jakes. Casey explained that jakes are not al-


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HUNTING lowed to roost with adult toms and frequently have to find their own tree during the spring. Since the jakes were close and legal to harvest, I told Casey I’d be happy to drop any male turkey. We worked the jakes for a bit and actually got them interested enough to show themselves, but the trio of bachelor birds never presented a shot. The rest of the day was much of the same. We’d spot lone gobblers, beaten up and pushed from the group by dominant toms roaming the hills. They were lonely and looking for love. Unfortunately, the late-season calling had them cautious and wary.

WHILE SEARCHING OVER THE same river Casey had forded to retrieve Alyssa’s bird two years before, we spotted a lone tom several hundred yards away by himself in a field. We scrambled to secure an ambush spot and tucked ourselves into the brush at the edge

of the rolling hills. The bird had responded to Casey’s calling and we could tell he was closer with every call back. The decoy was set out in front of us and our brush hide was so thick, there was really only one place for him to approach. We waited. Casey kept the calling quiet and to a minimum. We both knew the bird was interested and on his way in. More than five minutes after his last response he showed up, cautiously eyeing the decoy. The problem was that he had silently approached through the thick cover between Casey and I. Needless to say, I had no safe shot at the bird and he retreated the way he had come. I was astounded that he had come in so quietly and through the thick cover. Casey summed it up nicely, saying, “Gobblers are the smartest, dumbest birds you’ll ever hunt!” We spent the rest of our after-

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TThis Th is ddecoy is e oy aatt on ec onee ti ttime imee w was ass aattracting ttra tt raact ract c inng bi bird birds, irdds, s, bbut u ut not after not affte terr it i w was as knocked kno n ckked oover veer on its ver its ts sside idde by aanother noth no thher er pred pr predator. eddat a or or. “I “Instead Ins nste tead te ad ooff lo looking ook okin ing lilively ing ive vely ly aand nd iinviting, nvit nv itin it inng, g, iitt loookked looked e ddead eaad an andd si ssignaled ign g al aled ed ddanger, ange an g r,r,” Ho ge H Hovey veyy wr ve w writes. ittes e. ((TI (TIM TIM EE.. HOVEY) HOVEY) OVEY) OV OVE Y) | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


HUNTING noon driving to other areas, glassing for turkeys and just enjoying each other’s company. To protect roosted birds, California prohibits the hunting of turkeys after 4:30 p.m. Since not much was moving during the afternoon, we decided to call it a day. While I did have a long drive back home the following day, Casey convinced me to meet him again before sunrise the next morning to try again.

THE LIGHT KNOCK ON the truck window woke me at the side of the road. Casey was a few minutes late and I had dozed off while waiting. I followed him into the property and we hiked a short distance up a creek in the dark and found a place to sit. Another soft cluck with his mouth call and a group of birds behind us sounded off. In the dark, Casey got up and placed the hen decoy out front about 20 feet. We settled in and waited for first light. We talked about all sorts of stuff. Casey was a little bummed that I hadn’t been able to bag a turkey the day before. I looked over and told him

it wasn’t about killing a bird for me. The moments I remember are the anticipation of the sunrise and the camaraderie of just hanging out and talking about life while waiting on game. About 10 minutes before sunrise, I saw Casey focus on the area out in front of us. He asked, “Did you see that?” I had no idea what he was talking about, but apparently the birds had seen it too. They started puttering from their roost. Casey told me that a bobcat had sneaked in and checked out our decoy. He was in and out quickly, but everyone but me had seen him. Casey started his hen call in the hopes of luring the toms close. We heard them fly down behind us and their gobbles were getting closer with every response. I had my shotgun up and facing left in the hope that they would move beyond the tree I was sitting next to. I heard no response for several minutes but spotted four turkeys slowly and cautiously moving our way to 30 feet from where we were

sitting. “They’re here!” I whispered to Casey. I stayed motionless as the four toms moved in a line way over to my left. Three more steps and I could easily kill the lead bird. Two of the turkeys moved behind the tree to my left. I knew as soon as the first appeared, he was mine. Without any warning, all four birds squawked an alarm and retreated back the way they came. They fled so fast it was like they were never there. We had been stone still and Casey had been whispering instructions to me the entire time. He stood up and took two steps and realized the problem. The decoy had been knocked over. Instead of looking lively and inviting, it looked dead and signaled danger. “I was wondering why I couldn’t see the decoy,” he said. The birds were on edge with the bobcat in the area, and seeing their plastic friend in distress was all they needed to see. “So close!” Casey declared.

WITH AN EIGHT-HOUR drive ahead of

After having great conversations and enjoying camaraderie in the blind, Hovey wasn’t bothered about being skunked – even if roadside birds rubbed it in before and after his hunt. (TIM E. HOVEY) 62 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

me, I decided to treat Casey to breakfast and head on home. He again mentioned his disappointment at not getting me a bird, but I seriously didn’t care. I enjoy being outside and seeing how nature reacts when critters don’t know you’re around. In the parking lot, I shook Casey’s hand and told him stay in touch. I again congratulated him on his new son and I felt glad that I had met Casey as I drove off. I was topping of the tank at the Chevron station near the highway when I spotted them. Two tom turkeys were puffed out and displaying across the country road from the gas station. I watched them and let out a soft hen cluck with my mouth. Both birds gobbled in response and actually started coming my way. I laughed as I realized that they were both within range. The smartest, dumbest bird indeed! CS

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hough spring is fast approaching, the coming weeks can be some of the wettest. If you have a new puppy that’s GUN DOGGIN’ 101 not fond of the rain, By Scott Haugen or you’re tired of it getting muddy every time you let it out of the house, don’t let that hinder your training time. Devoting 10 to 15 minutes a day to training your puppy will pay big dividends down the road, and don’t think you have to go outside to train your pup. There are a lot of puppy training drills that can be done inside the house, in a fairly small area.

TEACHING YOUR PUP hand signals is one of the most important things you can do, and this starts the day you bring it home. Start by teaching the pup to sit. While getting it to look at you – usually by holding a treat close to your eye – say “sit” and once it sits, say “look” to get it to look into your eyes. Repeat “sit” while patting the pup’s hind end down with the other hand. When the pup sits, give it the treat. As the sitting becomes consistent, then hold out giving it the treat until it looks at you. Keep at this until the pup sits on command. Some pups pick this up surprisingly fast, within a day or two, while others may not be ready to do this for a couple weeks or more. Once the pup sits, place a little kibble a foot to the right of it. Do this on carpet so the puppy doesn’t slip. Say “sit” so the pup knows not to move. If the pup moves before

Playing with your new pup is one of the best ways to build bonds and develop clear communication. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

you say “get it” (or whatever your command will be), reach out and stop it, while quickly saying “na!” in a loud, nasal tone. This quick response will startle the pup, and your simultaneously grabbing it will help it learn. Remember, you’re not

scolding the dog, rather patiently teaching it. Clear, consistent communication is key. Sit the pup down again, a foot from the food, then give the command to get it. Verbally praise the pup, as this, along with the food, is | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


HUNTING the reward. Next, have the pup sit where it is, then place food a foot to the left of it. Repeat the same verbal and physical commands.

AFTER A FEW days, the pup will begin to learn when it’s supposed to move both left and right. At this time, you can guide it with an open hand to the right, while giving your verbal command, then do the same thing to the left. This open hand signal will be what the dog keys on when in the field, up to a couple hundred yards or more, away. Should you cripple a bird or have multiple birds down, or if you’ve located a shed antler you want your dog to retrieve, hand signals are invaluable. Once the pup is comfortable moving left and right, have it sit and put a few pieces of kibble on both the left and right side of it, at the same time. This teaches the pup restraint, and it should not get either pile of kibble until you give the command. When the pup has shown patience and consistency, place a few pieces of kibble behind the dog. Imagine a baseball field, where you’re the batter, the pup is in the pitcher’s position, the right pile of kibble is first base, and the left pile of kibble is third base. Now, with the pup facing you, put some kibble behind it, on second base; there should be no food on first or second base. While extending your arm straight over your head and saying “back” the pup will learn to release to the food, straight back. As the pup masters sitting and getting the kibble from all three bases, increase the distance between them. You’ll go from a foot, to 10 feet, to several yards. Once you start bumper training outside, you can place them several yards from the pup, and help guide them to the bumpers via hand signals and your verbal commands. AS THE WEATHER gets nicer, your training sessions will expand, both in time

and area. By getting a pup to be disciplined and learn your language at an early age, it will be much easier to train in the field. The more the pup learns, the more eager it will also be to please you. In all puppy training, quality time and clear communication are critical. No matter how small your training area is, pups can learn something, and they need that stimulation every day, sometimes two to three times a day. It’s better to work with a pup for a couple minutes in the morning, then again at midday, then in the

evening, than trying to cram it all into one session. When training a pup, don’t forget to have fun. Play with your pup, get on the ground, roll around with it and just enjoy these days. This is extremely valuable in developing that bond which will lead to respect, and when a pup respects you, it’ll do anything in the world to please you. CS Editor’s note: To see some of Scott Haugen’s puppy training video tips, check out visit Follow Scott on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Patience Pati Pa tien ti ence en ce aand nd consistent connsi sist ist sten entt tr en training trai aiini ning ng aare re kkey ey ttoo ge ggetting ttin tt ingg a pu in ppuppy ppyy to m pp maintain aint ai ntai nt ain it ai its ts comppos co composure osur uree and ur and ob obey bey e yyour our cco ou our commands, omman mm man ands ds, ass tthis ds h s 9hi 99-week-old -we weekk-oold ppup upp ddemonstrates em emon mon onst stra st raate rate tess by sitt si sitting ttin inng and and st sstaying tayyin ingg inn rresponse espo es sppoons nsee to bboth othh vve ot verbal erb rbal a aand al nd hhand andd comm an co commands. omm mman ands an ds. (S ds ((SCOTT SCOT OTTT H HAUGEN) HAUG AUGEN) AUG EN) EN)

66 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 | | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


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68 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |





f all hunting sports to gain favor not only here in California but among tens of thousands of outdoorsmen and -women across this nation, none has lured hunters

in faster and in greater numbers than pursuing coyotes, fox and bobcats. These three predatory animals were only rarely seen by hunters chasing popular species such as deer, elk, bear and upland and migratory birds. The reason for this was and is

because these smaller killers are, by nature, secretive in their daily and nighttime pursuits. The sport of predator hunting changed all this and in a very big way. Suddenly, using loud, screeching rabbit distress calls brought these wary

When author Art Isberg hunts for predators, he carries a variety of calls to make different sounds to bring in overly cautious coyotes, bobcats and foxes for close-range shots. (ART ISBERG) | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman 69


These seven short–range calls should be part of every predator hunter’s bag of tricks. They produce sounds that standard long-range calls do not, offering fawn bleats, rodent squeaks, bird chirps and pups in distress. (ART ISBERG)

animals out into the open – often on a dead run – in a way never seen before. No hunting sport that saw so many people take it up could not have also had a reverse effect to these same animals. Today, callers blanket the wild, sending out their long, high-pitched distress cries in places most other hunting sports do not normally go. Deserts, brushlands, river valleys, hill country and agricultural lands all became hot hunting zones. Just as quickly, many predators became call shy and suspicious of any set-ups, even the very best calling efforts. It’s now not uncommon for coyotes, foxes and bobcats to “hang up,” refusing to come a step closer while still well out from callers. This report aims to change all that and swing the odds back in the favor of callers. Calls that are termed “backup calls” are not only physically smaller in size, but they also deliver their pleading cries with far less volume too. Their squawks, squeaks, whimpers, wails, bleating and bird cries are specifically designed to overpower predators’ natural caution and curiosity while luring them closer for an easy kill. And each of these calls I’ll highlight are designed to be used on specific animals – if not sometimes more than one species. Let’s take a detailed look at each one.

COYOTE I’ll start with two most excellent calls

for coyotes at short range. First would be one from one of the most famous names in predator calling, the Burnham Brothers. Their unique S-2 Close Range Call is a mere 3½ inches in length, which is made up of two thin plastic strips – one atop the other with a reed in between. This small call is held in the mouth between your lips. Biting down on the strips as you blow produces a higher-pitched sound. Its high and thin screams means you can produce any pitch and tone to match the situation. Another important advantage is that your hands are free to hold and lift the rifle when the moment comes to shoot. A third plus is you won’t give your location away with hand movements to sharp-eyed coyotes as they come even closer. A second call I would recommend is made by Scotch Game Calls, specifically their Double Reed Fawn Bleat. It’s been proven that coyotes actively hunt areas where does drop their fawn in spring, sometime with disastrous results in deer mortalities. This call fits that scenario perfectly. The small call is compact and easy to use. You control pitiful bleating sounds by a pair of plastic tips mated to a short, wooden barrel that’s fitted with a single reed. The tips are put in the mouth and held between the teeth. When it’s blown perfectly it matches the natural cries of fawns in distress. Like the first call, the tighter

70 California Sportsman MARCH 2019 |

you bite the tips, the higher the pitch. I would add that both of these suggested calls have even more drawing power when used with a Flambeau, soft-bodied fawn decoy that twists in the breeze. It’s balanced on a center body steel rod. Its lifelike movement along with the added sound of small deer under duress is a combination no self-respecting coyote would ever pass up. It’s deadly medicine for Canis latrans.

FOX Smallish foxes are furtive killers of small game and also found in good numbers where coyotes generally are not. It’s very common for a fox coming in to a long-range call to stop some distance out to size things up before taking another step closer. They can be extremely cautious since they themselves are preyed upon by larger coyotes and also owls. Foxes prefer to stay in cover as they approach, using tall grasses, shrubs, limbs and branches. This is exactly the time quieter backup calls really come into their own. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also works to take down the fox. A dandy close-in call is offered by Crit’R Calls, what they term their Pee Wee Model. This tiny call is designed to deliver low cries, squeaks and screams of young rodents, baby rabbits and even coyote pups. The completely plastic construction – in-

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HUNTING on its plastic stand. And another surefire attractor is the FoxPro Jack Predator Decoy, which is interchangeable. Use it to caper, spin and twirl to a seductive, battery-driven dance that mesmerizes any fox at short range while you take the shot.


A Renzo’s fold-up fox decoy is another perfect lure when used in combination with a Crit’R Calls Pee Wee squeaker. This woodpecker decoy (inset) has a spring clip bottom that easily attaches to low branches and limbs at a bobcat’s eye level. (ART ISBERG)

The author sizes up California bobcat country. Cliffs, caves and brushy flatlands are perfect habitat for the wild cats to thrive. (ART ISBERG)

cluding the calling reed – means it’s waterproof and cannot change pitch regardless of weather. You can also purchase an extra reed package to change calling levels and tone, which is another nice touch. The Pee Wee is so small that it easily fits inside your cupped hand. My second recommendation for foxes is another Burnham Brothers call, which they designate as their S-4 Mini Squeal Call. Like the S-2 mentioned earlier for coyotes, you place this call between your lips and bite down to change levels of tantalizing, screams and wails. You can use the S-4 right up to the moment you raise your rifle by backing off a bit on pitch but still keeping those pleading cries going before you take the shot. That’s something you can’t do with larger, hand-held calls without giving yourself away. A solid decoy choice for foxes would be the small, battery-driven Quiver Rabbit, which shimmies and shakes in fear and invites an easy kill

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Bobcats have always been very special predators for many reasons. For starters, they don’t react like either a coyote or fox when coming to callers. That’s one reason I believe Lynx rufus requires the most care when setting up on a stand and where you choose it. They are the slowest to come in because of their suspicious nature and natural concern for their own thin hides. Cats like a sure thing before they pounce for the kill. They are the most dedicated sneakers and peekers, prefering to stalk in close from the thickest kind of cover. Rabbits, small rodents and especially birds are their favorite prey. I’ve never had a cat come to my calling on a run like coyotes and foxes often do. They take their sweet time, being sure not to expose themselves until the last possible moment. Successful calls for cats should match their preferred victims. For these special animals Dan Thompson Game Calls offers a dandy little 2½-inch wooden call called the PC5. This unique call easily fits into the palm of your hand. It perfectly mimics frantic cries of mice, voles, chirping, baby birds and even fox pups. The cries are muted yet natural enough to convince cats to come close. The little call is hand held, barrel end to the mouth, with only a moderate airstream needed to produce the cries. It produces a higher-pitched sound than the PC4 model. A second and simple call for cats at short range would be the Primos Still Mouse Squeaker. It will also produce the sounds of small rodents and field mice cats favor, but it’s in a uniquely designed call unlike any other. This call has a plastic sound cham- | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


HUNTING ber, but the end you put in your mouth is a short and flexible rubber tube. You control delivery by the amount of air you blow into the tube or by biting down on the rubber. For an even smaller high-pitched tone, try exhaling through the tube instead of blowing. This simple trick gives you a variety of calling options for any situation. I would add here that once again the addition of a backup decoy really enhances your chances for success. One that is perfectly matched to bobcats is the Mojo Outdoors Woodpeck-

er. It sets the table for success. The brightly painted plastic body has a battery-driven wing that flutters and spins, mimicking a wounded bird that cannot get off the ground. If anything will trigger cats killing instincts, this is it. The little decoy has a spring clip on its bottom that’s easily attached to low limbs and branches at a cat’s eye level. This call/decoy combination offers a great one-two punch on cautious bobcats.

MAKE THE CALL We’ve taken a close look at what I

consider to be one the most misunderstood tricks of the predator calling trade, close-range calls and the new world they open up for hunters. There can be no denying the hunter and caller who goes afield with both the standard loud, long-range call and a short-range backup for close-in work. You will get action and shooting you otherwise would not. And that, my friends, is what makes learning how to use these little calls when, where and on what so important. Good hunting. CS “There can be no denying the hunter and caller who goes afield with both the standard loud, long-range call and a short-range backup for close-in work. You will get action and shooting you otherwise would not,” Isberg writes. (ART ISBERG)

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California Line-X of Placerville 161 Fair Ln Placerville, CA 95667 (503) 295-1813 | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman




hamois are a challenging creature to hunt because they live among some of the most beautiful mountaintops in the world. I’ve had the pleasure to hunt four of the roughly 10 species of chamois that are legal to pursue. It has become a bit of an addiction for me. The areas they live are always tough to get to and they are small targets. They are easily one of my top 10 hardest species to hunt.

MACEDONIA My first chamois hunt was in one of the former Yugoslavia republics that’s just to the north of Greece (California Sportsman, March 2015). It’s the ancient home of Alexander the Great and one truly unique country. The area we were hunting had high mountaintops covered in green grass. We accessed the area by vehicle on some of the most treacherous curving roads I’ve ever been on and then set out on foot. The chamois we hunted in this area is called the Balkan chamois, and we got a great one!

NEW ZEALAND Oddly enough you find chamois all over Europe but outside of that continent, the only other worldwide area to hunt them is New Zealand. The variety that is found in the South Island is the alpine chamois. They were imported to New Zealand

Author Brittany Boddington has hunted chamois throughout Europe and even in New Zealand, where these goat-antelope hybrids were introduced in the early 20th century. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

and introduced in 1907 for the purpose of hunting and were protected while their numbers grew, but they did so well that the protection was lifted in 1930 and they have been hunted ever since. Today the Kiwis have a very healthy population of chamois, making for a wonderful hunt. The area we hunted is only accessible by helicopter, though we did not hunt them from the aircraft, of course. We were dropped off and camped on the mountain overnight while we hiked in and out and hunted them.

FRANCE A few years went by before I got

another opportunity to hunt what I lovingly describe as a very fancy goat to people who don’t know what chamois are. It is interesting to note that the males and females have the same type of horns – short and black that go straight up and hook backward. The horns don’t vary much from place to place, but the body size and color do. This time I was headed to France to hunt the Pyrenees chamois (CS, December 2015). This hunt was so beautiful and far less difficult than in New Zealand. We hiked hard up a beautiful grassy mountain on the border between France and Spain. | MARCH 2019 California Sportsman


Brittany with her Macedonian chamois. Hunting in this littlevisited but historically significant former Yugoslav republic was a great cultural experience. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Our group passed beautiful running streams and some horses out to pasture before we got high enough to start seeing the elusive little brown chamois running around. That afternoon when we got down from the mountain with the chamois, we put on heavy-duty wet suits and went diving for some sea urchin and cooked up some amazing surf and turf for all of our friends.

ROMANIA My last hunt for chamois had to be the toughest yet! It was in Romania for the Carpathian subspecies (CS, December 2017). The snow was deep and the mountains were far steeper than I anticipated. I struggled going up and even more going down the mountain. We hunted in a gorgeous area called Balea Lake, which is a tourist

attraction for hikers and sightseers. The hunting area starts over the top of the biggest mountain and all the way down the backside of the mountain range. That first hike to get to the hunting area was intense, but it got a lot steeper and more slippery on the backside of the mountain, where the shade had made the snow crunchy and unpredictable. We slipped and slid down the mountain with the knowledge that with every bit of progress we made we were only going to have more trouble getting back out. I got lucky with a 200-yard shot and I took it happily, but unfortunately my animal tumbled another 500 yards down into a ravine. It took some help to recover it. We used ropes to pull it up the rock faces of the Carpathian range.

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This chamois was taken in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. “The draw for me is not only the amazing animal but the difficult and picturesque areas that they live,” Boddington writes. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

CHASING REGAL GAME AROUND THE WORLD It’s easy to say that I have fallen for these fancy goats and I can’t wait to hunt the next one on some beautiful mountaintop in some far-off European country. The draw for me is not only the amazing animal but also the difficult and picturesque areas that they live. I look forward to pursuing these incredible creatures for many years to come. CS Editor’s note: Los Angeles native Brittany Boddington is a Phoenix-based hunter, journalist and adventurer. For more, check out and

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