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FISHING • HUNTING • TRAVEL CALSPORTSMANMAG.COM

ONE TOUGH DUCK!

A h i NHL Anaheim NHLer NATE THOMPSON On Fishing, Hockey

LATE SEASON TURKEY TIPS!

TROUT! SEASON OPENER PREVIEW

Beating The Sierra Snowpack Hiking In For Wild Trout No-Fail Shrimp Baits Kayaking To The Big Fish Collins Lake Trophies

Decoys, Bli D Blinds d &C Calls ll Tequila Gobbler Kabob Recipe

SOCAL BEAUTIES P ifi Yellowtail Pacific Y ll t il Barrett Lake Largies

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Sportsman

California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 9 • Issue 7 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Dick Openshaw EXECUTIVE EDITOR Andy Walgamott EDITOR Chris Cocoles CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Brittany Boddington LEAD WRITER Tim E. Hovey CONTRIBUTORS Bill Adelman, Andrew Austin, Jeremiah Doughty, Mark Fong, Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, Bill Schaefer, Mike Stevens SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Garn Kennedy, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Lindsey Lewers, Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

Kelly Baker

DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DIGITAL ASSISTANT Samantha Morstan OFFICE MANAGER/ACCOUNTING Audra Higgins ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Sauro INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn

ATVs, Dirt Bikes & Mountain Bikes If you’ve ever experienced the thrill of driving on a dirt trail, you know why this form of recreation is so popular. The only problem that enthusiasts of this sport seem to have is where to do it. For most its a matter of owning their own property or having a friend that has some land that is willing to let them do it. For the owners of R-Wild Horse Ranch it’s a matter of driving to the adjacent areas designated for the various ATV’s.

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CIRCULATION MANAGER Heidi Belew ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@calsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE Email ccocoles@media-inc.com Twitter @CalSportsMan Facebook.com/californiasportsmanmagazine ON THE COVER The snowpack in the high Sierra is loaded after a wet winter, but once anglers start converging on the mountains after the April 29 trout opener, expect rainbows to shine in its lakes, rivers and creeks. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

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


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CONTENTS

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VOLUME 9 • ISSUE 7

SNOOPY, SALMON AND SLAP SHOTS

(MARK MAUNO/WIKIMEDIA)

At a very young age, Nate Thompson caught his first salmon using a tiny Snoopy-inspired fishing rod, and his other big love growing up was hockey. Hours upon hours of practice and games led him to the National Hockey League, where he now plays center for the Anaheim Ducks. We caught up with Thompson, who shared fish tales and his journey to Orange County and the playoff-bound Ducks.

FEATURES 43

LAUNCH THAT KAYAK Jay Warren and his son David have found a new way to get to the rainbows of large Northern California lakes such as Eagle and Almanor. The Warrens’ kayaks get them to the spots that are full of trout, and they do it quietly and efficiently. Mark Fong has all the details on using paddle and pedal power to reach new hot spots.

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WEATHER OR NOT, IT’S HERE! Mike Stevens makes his annual pilgrimage to the Eastern Sierra for the statewide trout opener. As the April 29 “Fishmas Day” celebration looms closer, Stevens breaks down what a wet and snowy winter may mean for the lakes and rivers of the Owens Valley, June Lake Loop and beyond.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 85

COLLINS IS THE RIGHT MIX Sierra foothills’ fishery Collins Lake is planning a big celebration for the resort’s 50th anniversary this summer. Anglers will be getting quite a sweet gift of their own: a series of trophy trout plants that have Collins primed for a big spring.

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GOBBLER TALK Hunters may not think about bearded toms as their No. 1 species to target, but with big game seasons not returning until late summer and waterfowl off the calendar till fall, wild turkeys make for a challenging opportunity this month. Lead writer Tim Hovey talks decoy, blind and calling basics to help you bag California’s biggest game bird.

63 77 89 93 113 117

Memories of trout openers past Finding wild trout in secret Sierra spots San Diego’s Lake Barrett bass fishing Yellowtaill on the prowl off Southland Tequila, cilantro kicks up turkey kabobs Housetraining your gundog pup

DEPARTMENTS 13 The Editor’s Note: For the love of trout 33 Protecting Wild California: Biologists rescue stranded, ESA-listed sturgeon

33 Outdoor Calendar 36 Adventures of Todd Kline: Trip to the Bassmaster Classic

39 Photo Contest winners 51 From Field to Fire: Shrimp baits to fool trout; Caesar-flavored fish

59 Rig of the Month: Sliding sinker trout set-up

California Sportsman goes digital! Read California Sportsman on your desktop or mobile device. Only $1.89 an issue. Go to www.calsportsmanmag.com/digital California Sportsman is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Send address changes to California Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $39.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 3829220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues are available at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2016 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A. 10 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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THEEDITOR’SNOTE

Mike Stevens celebrates a recent opening-day catch at Lake Mamie. The Eastern Sierra means the start of trout season for many Californians, but isn’t the only place to catch rainbows starting April 29. (MIKE STEVENS)

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’ve never been much more than a simple-life angler. Some of my happiest fishing days have been spent in a lawn chair, dunking an inflated nightcrawler at an urban Bay Area lake. If a few planted rainbow bit on the other end and I made good use of the tangled stringer buried in my tackle box, it was a spectacular day. That said, one of these years I plan to pull a Mike Stevens and show up for the chaos of opening day in the Eastern Sierra. There’s something about a bunch of city guys racing up Highway 395 in search of peace in the mountains, only to find combat fishing on a late April Saturday. It might be sunny and T-shirt weather, it might be on the verge of another frigid snow dusting, but it’s surely a sight to see. I do remember some opening-day experiences back home near San Francisco. The city’s Lake Merced would also open for business in late April, and my friends for some stupid reason thought one of the three small fishing piers spaced along the shoreline was the place to be. So after one of our parents would get up early and drop us off at the lake, we would head straight for the piers and either high-five each other when we claimed one of them as our own, or pout because some of the old-timers had the same idea, relegating us to the sandy beach. And to be honest, I don’t remember catching any more trout on the pier than we did when casting from the edge of the water. But despite the memories, I keep thinking about Stevens, who previews the Eastern Sierra as part of our trout opener 2017 coverage. I asked Mike what it’s like on opening day at Crowley Lake or wherever else he makes his first official cast of the trout season. “To me, the Eastern Sierra trout opener is the ideal rejuvenator after a long offseason spent closer to sea level. While all my favorite waters aren’t yet open, it gets the wheels turning upstairs as I think about the possibilities in the upcoming season, and that starts before I even get out of my truck,” Stevens said. “The U.S. 395/North signs on the way up, the feel of the small towns throughout the Owens Valley and that first gulp of mountain air when you reach altitude – that all brings an ‘it’s on like the break of dawn’ feeling. Of course, it is nice to make some casts, work the kinks out and pull on some trout, too.” Sounds like fun. Is there a pier available? Because I know I’ll limit out if I fish from it. –Chris Cocoles

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MIXED BAG Anaheim Ducks center Nate Thompson grew up in Alaska and had two passions: fishing and hockey. While the latter has become a career in the National Hockey League, he hasn’t forgotten his fishing roots. (NATE THOMPSON)

WHEN THERE’S NO PENALTY FOR HOOKING ANAHEIM DUCKS STAR NATE THOMPSON HAS ALWAYS FOUND HIMSELF AROUND NETS By Chris Cocoles

N

HL player Nate Thompson is so in love with hockey he’d probably play it for peanuts, and he’s equally passionate about fishing thanks to an early assist from Snoopy. An Alaskan in the truest sense of the word, Thompson’s first fishing memory included using a toy rod of the adorable beagle from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip franchise. And good grief, Charlie Brown, did that Snoopy pole ever do its job. Thompson, who grew up in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, was just 2 years

old when he and his dad, Robert, went fishing. Young Nate wasn’t exactly using state-of-the-art gear. Back in the day, Zebco manufactured a packaged “Catch ‘Em Kit,” complete with a ready-to-fish rod and reel, and the container it came in featured the canine himself fishing from his doghouse. It’s a good bet the gear wasn’t designed to catch an Alaskan salmon. But the following is a true story. “It was by complete accident. I was just throwing my line in the water and my dad was fishing next to me,” says the 32-year-old Thompson, a center for the Anaheim Ducks. “He looked over and

saw the pole was bending and almost to the point where it was snapping. He managed to either jump on the line or jump on the pole. He pretty much tackled the fish in the water.” And with that, the youngster had his welcome-to-fishing moment. “After that, my dad said I was hooked,” he recalls during a phone interview. Only in this case the hooking didn’t result in a two-minute stay inside the penalty box. Thompson had two undisputed hobbies growing up in Alaska: the outdoors and hockey; or perhaps it was hockey and the outdoors. But he’s made a living with one and enjoyed life

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MIXED BAG from the other. And while he understandably stays busy with his job in Southern California and now has an infant son to raise, Thompson’s affinity for hunting and especially fishing is the same as it was when his Snoopy gear fooled that salmon 30 years ago. “Pretty much every fishing trip after that, when I knew (my dad) was going, I’d be running out of the house and chasing him to make sure he wouldn’t leave without me,” Thompson says. “He said it was a given when he went fishing he had to take me with him.” Thompson’s hockey career has sent him on a coast-to-coast tour across the continent, and Orange County is a whole new world than where he grew up, but it’s impossible to take the Alaskan out of his identity. In a state where winters feature frozen ponds and summers salmon runs, it’s not uncommon for skates, pucks and sticks or rods, reels and flies to define who you are. “I look back now and whenever I go home, I kind of take for granted realizing that, ‘Wow! I grew up here.’ I know not a lot of kids get to experience what I did,” he says. “So it was a special place, remains a special place and is a cool place to call home.”

SOME ALASKANS WEREN’T BORN in Alaska. But so many times you can find yourself there and never want to leave again. The oil boom in the state helped Thompson’s parents get there. Robert is from Ohio and Nate’s mom Cathy hails from the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Cathy’s parents moved north as part of the industry, and after she and Robert met in California they joined them. Robert wasn’t much of an outdoorsman in the Lower 48, but living in our 49th state has a way of sucking you in – your kids too. Robert now lives around the salmon-filled Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage and fishes whenever possible. Young Nate and his sister, Tiffany, were introduced to the flora and fauna, even living in urban Anchorage. “It really is the Last Frontier,” Nate

Thompson returned to the ice this past January after he suffered a torn Achilles during a summer workout. He’ll help the Ducks into the playoffs this month. (MARK MAUNO/WIKIMEDIA)

THESE ARE NOT THE BOSTON BRUINS As you might expect, Nate Thompson has a lot of stories from fishing in Alaska. This is just one that came to mind: “If you’ve seen those postcards of the bear catching a salmon jumping up a waterfall, we went to that area, Brooks River Falls in Katmai National Park. And we were fishing there for rainbow trout, and the bears are just there to look for salmon, but they’re all around you. At this park you can’t even bring ChapStick because the bears can smell it.” “But we’re fishing there with the bears, and we had an indicator on the end of the line, an orange bobber. And one of the bears was kind of behind and was moving back and forth and would get out of the way as we were walking. The bear saw the orange bobber at the end of the line and started charging at the line. The bears, when they’re in that water, will cut through the river like butter, and one of the guys with us wasn’t from Alaska and thought the bear was charging him and not the line. He basically jumped on the end of his line, dove in there and kept swimming across the river. He had to check his shorts after that.” CS

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Thompson’s mom Cathy and dad Robert always supported their son’s hockey obsession, which included playing in many outdoor games in freezing temperatures. Robert also introduced Nate to the joys of fishing when he just 2 years old, as well as hunting at a later age. (NATE THOMPSON)

says. “To be able to drive a half hour out of Anchorage, you can be in the middle of nowhere. Or you can drive to a place in Anchorage, go on a hike and next thing you know, you’re in the wilderness. There’s no place like that.” Fly fishing became part of the father-son bonding process. They took local classes in how to tie flies and it soon became the Thompsons’ favorite outdoor pastime. Catching a hard-fighting salmon on a fly rod was a challenge Nate couldn’t get enough of. When he got older, the endless sunlight of Alaskan summers allowed Thompson and his friends to do a “suicide run” to a nearby fishing spot, which is a lot less sinister than it sounds. “You leave your house at, say, 8 or 8:30 (p.m.), then drive about an hour and 45 minutes to the river,” he says. “You fish and catch your limit and finish – depending on how fast – and whether it’s midnight, 1 or 2 in the morning, you then drive back home. The benefit of that is still mostly light outside. You don’t have to worry about it getting dark on you.” “That’s one of the perks of being in Alaska in the summertime.”

IF SUMMER WAS A time for using a net to secure a salmon or trout, winter meant nets of a different kind. Thompson would lace up his skates and never be far away from a frozen pond. “I think that’s where I improved the most as a player, playing hockey outside,” he says. “We would have practice 20 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

(indoors) at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and there was an outdoor rink right next door. We’d take all our gear off and put on our hats and gloves and walk to the outdoor rink.” Thompson and the other kids in the neighborhood spent the available daylight hours to hit the Mother Nature-created playing surfaces. “All day, every day, whether it was playing for whatever club team I was with, or me just skating outside with my buddies,” Thompson says. “And then when it started to get warm outside, the hockey gear went away … Every weekend we’d go fishing.” But since this is Alaska, winters are looonnnggg, so all that time on the ice would pay off for Thompson, who joined future National Hockey League players Matt Carle, a former San Jose Shark, and Tim Wallace and played together for a local youth team, the Alaska Stars. At his side for all the games was his family. Sarah Palin might be the state’s “celebrity” hockey mom, but Cathy is one of many unsung matriarchs shuttling their sons and daughters to 6 a.m. practices and tournaments in far-flung cities and towns all over North America. “Talking about the games, the practices, the big fish that we caught – those are the things that you just never forget,” Thompson says of his parents. “They were a team and my mom was definitely a hockey mom and my dad too was a (hockey dad). We’d have games on Saturdays and they’d be in the stands freezing their butts off bun-


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MIXED BAG dled up in a parka jacket with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. My poor sister had to be dragged to the games. I still hear about that from her. But they were great and very supportive.” Remember all those pickup games Thompson and friends would play? Dad would frequently be waiting in the car, heater blasting, with lunch from McDonald’s once they took a break, after which they’d head back out for another four hours of skating. Cathy wasn’t sure what to make of her young son’s proclamation that he’d be a professional someday, but clearly the kid was onto something. It’s no wonder that all the practicing helped Thompson excel at Anchorage’s Dimond High School, and then in the major junior hockey circuit with the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds, with whom he was selected 183rd overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2003 NHL Draft. Thompson made his Boston debut in the 2006-07 season and has enjoyed a solid career, also playing for the New

York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning before getting to Anaheim. It was in Florida where he got the chance to play with his childhood friend Carle, who’s also part of a close-knit fraternity of Alaskans in pro hockey. “We probably had played together for six or seven years growing up all over on youth hockey teams,” Carle says. “It was a cool experience, because Nate and I kind of went different ways. We got drafted in the same year and I went to go to college (University of Denver) and he went into the Western Hockey League. So we kind of came full circle. We played against each other a lot in the NHL, but that opportunity to be on the same team was pretty special for those two years, and it will be memorable when we look back on our careers.” They’d been friends and teammates since boyhood. Sleepovers at each other’s houses usually involved hockey talk or makeshift games of some kind. “We started playing together when we were 6, 7 years old and played together on every team, but when we went different

After being drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2003, Thompson (left) also played for the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, and has spent the past three years in Southern California for the Ducks, who surged to the Pacific Division lead in late March. (JOHN CORDES/ICON SPORTS WIRE)

routes we stayed in touch, and have been close ever since,” Thompson says of Carle. “To be able to later on play for the same NHL team – as best friends growing up – is something I’ll never forget.” (Tampa Bay became even more nostalgic for Thompson since Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman was hired as the Lightning’s general manager during

QUEST FOR 30-INCH TROUT DRIVES PLAYERS In hockey lingo, they call it “lighting the lamp” when a player scores a goal. Childhood Alaskan fishing and hockey bros Nate Thompson and Matt Carle are on a personal quest to turn on the red light. This is a story of two Alaskans in search of the holy grail. But this doesn’t involve a goblet and Indiana Jones’ last crusade to find it, but instead it’s a 30-inch rainbow trout they have vowed to land during their return trips to the Last Frontier. Carle, the same age as the 32-year-old Thompson and a longtime NHL veteran who is also from Anchorage, remembers one trip to the Bristol Bay area where both anglers came agonizingly close to beating each other to the punch. “It was the last day, our last chance that we’d have at a fish,” Carle remembers. “And I caught mine and it (measured out at around) 29½. And then within an hour or two Nate caught a 29½-incher. That was probably one of the most fun days I’ve had while fishing.” It was breathtaking for each to wit-

Nate Thompson (middle) and Matt Carle show off their dueling 29-inch (or so) rainbows they caught on the same day on Alaska’s Kvichak River. They both are hoping to land a 30-inch ’bow during one of their trips back home. (MATT CARLE)

ness the other’s rod bend heavily upon the strike and see that gorgeous trout leaping from the river’s surface. “You think, ‘Wow, this could be it,’” Carle says. “We get both the fish and you measure them but they’re a little bit short. Of course, that’s always going to keep us coming back.” They were even in the same boat when it happened, though Thompson says his was closer to 29 inches.

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“We were both so close,” Thompson says. “I think he still got me by half an inch. Someday we’ll both do it; it’s just a question of who gets the bigger one.” “It’s an excuse to go back up to try and go up and catch one,” adds Carle, who began his career with the San Jose Sharks. “So when I do actually catch one, I guess the next thing will be to try and top it. I certainly have a place on my wall for that fish to get mounted.”


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MIXED BAG Thompson’s four-plus seasons there. His favorite player and team growing up was Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings. “He was the ultimate pro and ultimate leader who did everything right,” Thompson says of Yzerman.) The Lightning traded him to Anaheim in the summer before the 2014-15 season, where he’s been a valuable contributor to a perennial postseason team. Only injuries have slowed him down. Thompson missed the first 25 games in 2015-16 after undergoing offseason left shoulder surgery. Then last summer, while working out he ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right foot. Another operation shut him down until he was able to return to the Ducks’ lineup on Jan. 31 against Colorado, which – even as a player in a sport known for toughness – has been a remarkable recovery timeline. “I feel really good. During the time when I was injured and rehabbing, I think the biggest thing in why I’ve been feeling so good on the ice is I didn’t

On a different trip, the guys were able to get to Alaska in the fall, when they’re usually busy with their jobs. But the league endured a lockout that delayed the start of the 2012-13 season until January. “I thought that was going to be my opportunity because I able to go to the lodge when we could close it down; it was the first week of October, and as long as I was playing, it was going to be the latest I could get up there and get an opportunity,” Carle says. But that late into the fall, the Kvichak River, which flows from Lake Iliamna to Bristol Bay, was flooding, creating a murky mess and tougher fishing than anticipated. It was unfortunate timing, given that the work stoppage allowed the guys a rare opportunity to fish when they normally were starting their seasons. “We still had a great time and caught some nice fish,” Carle says. “But nothing over the 30-inch mark.” Carle, after being traded by San Jose, went onto a nice career with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers

(reaching the Stanley Cup Final with both teams before falling short against the Chicago Blackhawks both times). Carle retired during the 2016-17 season and may have the leg up on his buddy with more chances to fish as Thompson continues his hockey career. But the guys are rooting for each other in this quest. Whenever Carle and Thompson can get away with their families, they head back home and join other friends to fish at Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge, where they know the trout – especially the ones over the magic 30-inch plateau – are waiting. “I think (lodge owner) Brian Kraft has it rigged,” Carle jokes. “That way we’re always coming back.” Thompson doesn’t expect any trash talk if he or Carle reach the milestone length before the other. “I think it’s just going to be two guys looking at the fish and then looking at each other,” he says. “Besides, we’re both competitive and there doesn’t have to be much said.” A holy grail of a trout speaks for itself. CC

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MIXED BAG waste any time,� he says. “Even when I was in a walking boot I was working extremely hard off the ice. I made sure I was ready to go when I hit the ice.� When Thompson returned and seemed to make a seamless transition back into the lineup, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register that Thompson was a “glue guy� on the team. And sure enough, while he’s not the prolific goal scorer as hotshot youngster Rickard Rakell or Anaheim mainstays like captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Thompson nonetheless is the kind of player who endears himself to coaches for understanding his role. Thompson fits nicely as the Ducks’ fourth-line center. That fourth unit traditionally isn’t expected to produce a lot of points – Thompson had 47 career goals (with 62 assists) in 544 games as of March 27 – but instead establish a physical forecheck – applying pressure along the boards in the offensive zone – and occasionally generate scoring chances. As the center,

Thompson (far right) has joined childhood friends like Tim Wallace (far left), Matt Carle (second from left) and Joey Crabb (third from right), all former NHL players, on summer ďŹ shing adventures for years, with Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge owner Brian Kraft (second from right). Another former Alaska hockey player, Peter Cartwright, is also pictured. (MATT CARLE)

Thompson also takes a lot of faceoffs and helps out on the Ducks’ penalty kill when the team is shorthanded. “He’s someone we needed. He’s a

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specialty player – blocks shots, plays his role,� veteran Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano once told the Los Angeles Times when asked about Thompson. “All the


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MIXED BAG teams that win Stanley Cups, they have those guys, and those guys are big parts because they do the right things and all they worry about is doing the little things. They don’t get credit, but the guys in the room give ’em credit.” And he’s skilled enough to chip in with goals when needed, scoring twice in last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs series with Nashville. Not that Thompson or his teammates have a lot of memories from that postseason. The Ducks lost to the underdog Predators in seven games, which has become a trend for one of the NHL’s best teams of the past few years but lost in a seventh and deciding home game of a series for four consecutive seasons, two with Thompson on the team. So there’s a sense of unfinished business with these Ducks, who feature a nice blend of established veterans (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler) mixed with some young emerging talent (Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and

Thompson’s family life also includes his soon-to-be 2-year-old son Teague and Eddie, his new yellow Lab. (NATE THOMPSON)

Nick Ritchie). This dressing room is well aware that the players will be judged on what happens in this month’s postseason (Anaheim was battling rival San Jose plus Edmonton and Calgary for the Pacific Division title at press time). “I feel like we have a team that’s built to win now and I think we have

28 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

everything to win a championship,” Thompson says. “Hopefully we can go on a nice run and I can bring the (Stanley Cup) back to Alaska.”

WHEN THEIR FAMILY COMMITMENTS and other circumstances allow it, the Alaska hockey gang reunites in the summer


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DESTINATION ALASKA He has found a nice ďŹ t in Anaheim, but Alaska is where his heart is. “I look back now and whenever I go home, I kind of take for granted realizing that, ‘Wow! I grew up here.’ I know not a lot of kids get to experience what I did,â€? Thompson says. (NATE THOMPSON)

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and goes on a fishing trip. The group includes Thompson, Carle, Wallace, exNHLer Joey Crabb and others. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just a good couple days since weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve known each other for just about our whole lives,â&#x20AC;? says Thompson, who also shared many wonderful days in the field with not just family and friends but his beloved black Lab, Diesel, which loved to swim the same waters his owner/dogfather fished in. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been always been a dog lover, and my dad had three Labs. I first had Diesel when I was 20 and he went through a lot of cities with me,â&#x20AC;? says Nate, who lost Diesel at 11 years old last June. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He was my first dog, and it was tough. Losing a dog is losing a family member.â&#x20AC;? But a new four-legged son, yellow Lab Eddie, joined Thompsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growing family, which also includes son Teague, who turns 2 in May. (Thompson is now a single dad, and in late March he was trending on the internet and the social media spin cycle when multiple gossip websites reported he was romantically linked to HGTV personality Christina El Moussa, now a frequent tabloid newsmaker after splitting with her TV cohost husband.) For obvious reasons, Teague takes up a lot of possible fishing time, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to envision this dad getting his son on the water. Snoopy rods might not be Teagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first piece of gear, but his dad will be glad to share the same outdoors heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grown to love as much as playing for a Stanley Cup in the O.C. CS


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32 C California allif lif iifo f rni rn niia n ia S Sportsman portsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag calsportsmanmag.com g.com


PROTECTING

STRANDED STURGEON WILD CALIFORNIA GETS A SECOND CHANCE By Chris Cocoles

O

ne of the most redeeming qualities of internet gossip is when someone shares a heartwarming story of an animal rescue. Whether it’s a dog pulled from an icy river or a deer stuck in mud, they’re the kind of clickbait story we should all be thrilled to help make go viral. So, here’s a feel-good moment of rescue. California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists recently discovered that a green sturgeon was trapped in the Fremont Weir, a 2-mile-long flood plain outlet for potential flood conditions in the Sacramento River near Knights Landing. Green sturgeon were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2006, so this one was a priority to try and save. According to a CDFW press release, fisheries biologists jumped into action when

California Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologists pulled a trapped green sturgeon from a Sacramento River flood plain in mid-March, tagged it and returned the fish safely to the river. (CDFW)

the sturgeon was found on March 15. “The sturgeon was estimated at more than 125 pounds and over 50 years of age. Its large size required biologists to encircle it with a net rigged to poles,” the release stated. “It was caught by slipping a hoop net over its head and unraveling a sock-like netting down the length of its body to subdue it. The fish was then placed in a specially designed cradle for transport back to the main channel of the Sacramento River.” Biologists then took DNA samples and

OUTDOOR CALENDAR APRIL 8 8-10 22 29 29 29 29

29 29-30 29 29 29

MAY 1-14 6 6-7 6-7 11-12

NorCal Trout Challenge, Collins Lake; anglerspress.com Lake Isabella Fish Derby; kernrivervalley.com Pine Flat Team Trout Derby, Pine Flat Lake; kokaneepower.org NorCal Trout Challenge, Lake Camanche; anglerspress.com Statewide trout opener Fishmas Day Celebration at Tom’s Place, Crowley Lake; tomsplaceresort.com Fred J. Hall Memorial Opening Day “Big Fish” Contest, Crowley Lake; crowleylakefishcamp.com Monster Fish Contest, June Lake Loop; junelakeloop.org/contact Opening Weekend Cash Derby at Convict Lake; convictlake.com/resort-home Start of Gull Lake Marina “Fish of the Month Club” Derby, June Lake Loop; gulllakemarina.com Bridgeport Locals Only Fishing Tournament, Bridgeport Reservoir; bridgeportreservoir.com Nor-Cal Trout Challenge, Camanche Lake; anglerspress.com

tagged the fish to collect further research. “Rescuing adult fish is always important, but because this year’s high flow conditions are optimal for sturgeon, every sturgeon saved is in a good position to spawn,” said CDFW fisheries branch chief Kevin Shaffer. “Every rescue contributes to a brighter future for the species.” This green sturgeon was one of several CDFW officials have fitted with tags, with the hope of finding more information on these gentle giants. And that’s worth spreading the word online about. CS Gull Lake, part of the scenic June Lake Loop, is the scene for the Gull Lake Marina Fish of the Month Club derby that begins on opening day of trout season, April 29. (ALICIA VENNOS/MONO COUNTY TOURISM)

Archery-only spring turkey season Collins Lake Family Fishing Derby; collinslake.com Shasta Lake Classic Team Trout Derby; kokaneepower.org Bass Lake Fishing Derby; basslakechamber.com/fishing-derby Sonoma County Deputy Sheriffs Bass Tournament, Clear Lake; sonomacountydsa.org

Note: A list of upcoming bass tournaments can also be found at nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishingContests/default.aspx. calsportsmanmag.com | APRIL 2017 California Sportsman

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34 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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

Anglers Todd Faircloth (far left) and Randall Tharp have their game faces on as they prepare to launch on the final day of the Classic. I love the photos of Tharp’s family riding along with him on the console between the pro and his marshal. (TODD KLINE)

In late March, I spent the weekend at the prestigious Bassmaster Classic, on Houston’s Lake Conroe. It was crazy how many spectator boats there were each day to follow the anglers. On the big stage, many pros mentioned just how respectful this year’s spectators were on the water. (TODD KLINE) 36 California Sportsman FEBRUARY 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

I was at the Classic for Electric Eyewear. Chris Zaldain recently joined the brand, so I was doing a bunch of social media around him. This shot is Zaldain letting me know he was swinging for the fences on championship Sunday with some big baits. (TODD KLINE)


Jordan Lee’s remarkable final day vaulted him to the championship of the sport’s biggest tournament. His speech was awesome. (TODD KLINE)

Newport Beach’s Brent Ehrler represented SoCal well in leading the first two days before coming up just short and finishing third. Still, it was a great showing for Ehrler, who is always a crowd favorite. (TODD KLINE)

Lee now owns the trophy every pro bass angler covets. (TODD KLINE)

Among the other California pros at the bass world’s biggest event was the Delta’s Ish Monroe, here chatting with Zaldain on the final day. (TODD KLINE)

I got in some of bass fishing of my own back home in California between guiding trips. This was a fun day at Diamond Valley fishing IMA cranks early and the Yamamoto Senkos in the afternoon. (TODD KLINE)

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38 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


PHOTO CONTEST

WINNERS!

Ashley Burrows’ photo of herself and friend Natalie Travis with Travis’s keeper Columbia River sturgeon from last summer is this issue’s monthly Fishing Photo Contest winner. It wins her loot from the overstuffed office of our editor!

Hopefully this brings a bit more of a smile to Brian “Ought-Six” Johnson’s face – he’s this issue’s Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to the Eastern Washington mule deer he took last October with brother Drew “Sticks” Johnson. We’ll let them fight over who gets the Browning hat.

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

39


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NORCAL

’YAKS GET YOU CLOSER FOR THE ATTACK A KAYAK IS A GREAT VESSEL FOR GETTING TO TROUT

Longtime angler Jay Warren (right) ditched his bigger boat for a more versatile kayak. He uses it in large Northern California lakes such as Almanor and Eagle and still has no problems landing nice trout, as does his son David, who uses his to get to remote areas and fish from their shores. (DAVID LEIER)

By Mark Fong

J

ay Warren grew up with fishing in his blood. As a youngster he spent many summers in Gunnison, Colo., with his father and siblings, fishing for trout. Over the years the pursuit of his favorite game fish has taken on many dimensions. His father-in-law was an expert angler who taught Warren what he knows today. “He was an outstanding spin fisherman; he taught me a lot about fishing the creeks. He would drift eggs and crickets,” remembers Warren. “He would throw a lot of plugs, a technique which was not popular at the time. He knew all the techniques, using the ultralight trout gear. He

had a little aluminum boat that he would take to Eagle Lake.” To this day, Warren continues to study the sport, reading lots of books about trout fishing. He is an avid fly tyer and fly fisherman. For a period of time Warren routinely took to the waters of Eagle Lake and Lake Almanor to troll aboard his Blue Water Jet Craft. Like many boat-owning anglers, the responsibilities of boat ownership ultimately outweighed the benefits.

A NEW FREEDOM Not long after selling his boat, Warren found himself yearning to get back on the water. He searched around for a long time, looking for something that would allow him to scoot around his favorite lakes and

chase his beloved trout. The answer ultimately came in the form of a pedal-drive Hobie kayak. Kayaks opened a whole new world of fishing opportunities for Warren. It allowed him to get from place to place on lakes that were previously inaccessible from a large motorized craft or unfishable from the shore. Since a kayak is small in footprint and lacks motorized power, this kind of craft affords the angler the ability to make quiet and stealthy presentations. If you don’t think today’s kayaks are well-equipped fishing machines, think again. Warren employs a large-screen fish-finder that is equally at home on the deck of a high-performance bass boat. It allows him to find structure, measure the depth and temperature

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NORCAL

10

ITEMS TO TAKE KAYAK FISHING When outfitting a kayak for a fishing adventure, most aspiring anglers are at a loss deciding what to include in their gear. Unfortunately, without the required items, this exciting sport can turn dull, unsuccessful, or risky. To help you with your preparation for a fun-filled trip on the water, we have put together a list of the most important kayak fishing accessories every aspiring angler should include in their vessel. Are any of these missing in your arsenal?

1. ROD HOLDERS

Since it is hard to hold your fishing rod while paddling, rod holders come in handy in kayak angling. Kayaks designed specifically for fishing come installed with a rod holder. However, if yours is the regular recreational or inflatable kayak you want to modify for angling, it will be helpful to purchase a rod holder and install. The common types of rod holders in the market are deckmount and flush-mount. The deck-mount is simple to set up and adjust. Consider installing multiple holders, depending on the variety of outfits you want to hold in place.

2. TACKLE BOX

Your rods, lures, lines and other baiting accessories need to stay together at an easily accessible spot in your kayak. A watertight tackle box that can be secured in front of your kayak will be a great choice for storing these accessories.

3. PADDLE LEASH

Your kayak trip can cut short if the paddle slips into the deep waters during an unfortunate tilt of the vessel. Secure it in the kayak and within reach using any of several paddle leashes. Leashes can actually secure other valuable items in your vessel too.

4. FISHING NETS

Even a catch-and-release kayak angler will require a versatile fishing net to make their adventure successful. A good choice should be lightweight and small in size so that it doesn’t crowd your already limited space in the kayak. If you can choose one with a telescopic handle, then you’ll have easier times reaching the shortest and farthest ends of your fishing spot. Consider a net with a basket that can allow you to land even the largest fish on your lucky day. 44 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

5. FISH-FINDER

You do not have to paddle for the rest of the day to identify a suitable fishing spot – and risk some chances of failure too. A fish-finder can eliminate this trial-and-error method of identifying a suitable fishing spot. The tool not only guides you in identifying where to cast your lines but also highlights troublesome spots for your vessel so you can evade them.

6. GPS

This is another electronic fishing tool you should consider adding to your arsenal. Beware, though, that some fish-finders come with GPS capabilities. You do not need to buy this tool if your fish-finder can double as a location finder. How does a GPS come in handy for kayak fishing? With the tool, you can always tell where you are and which direction you need to go to reach shore. This way, you will never get lost on the water, even if you are exploring unfamiliar water bodies in the fog.

7. KAYAK ANCHOR KIT

Once you have identified a suitable spot, you want your vessel to stay stable as you explore your fishing opportunities at this site. Hooking your vessel on the anchor will help. However, beware of the wind or rough water conditions. Your vessel can easily tip, even when hooked onto the anchor. This is why you should consider additional tools such as drift socks, and a kayak anchor trolley kit so you can easily adjust your vessel into position even during troubled water conditions.

8. WATERPROOF ACCESSORIES BAG

It is likely that you have a collection of items that should not come into contact with water. These could include your clothes, a cell phone, electronic fish-finder, watch, and other accessories. There are nice waterproof bags that come in a variety of sizes for anglers to choose one that fits their storage needs.

9. SAFETY KIT

There are various safety items that the state requires everyone going kayaking to have. For California regulations, check out the Division of Boating and Waterways website (dbw.ca.gov) for the details. However, some important items such as a waterproof flashlight, a whistle, a bilge pump, a throw rope, and a signal mirror should not be left out of your vessel.

10. FIRST AID KIT

It is important to have a first aid kit inside your vessel at all times. Keep it within your reach but well protected from the water. The amount of preparation you put in your kayak fishing trip will determine its success. Other than gaining enough information on the sport, make sure to collect useful items too. These not only make your trip convenient but also safe and enjoyable. –Andrew Austin, kayakfisher.org


NORCAL and, most importantly, locate the schools of bait and fish. Warren spends his days on the water fishing with a group of dedicated kayak anglers that includes his son, David. The two spend lots of time fishing the many spectacular trout fisheries up and down the state of California.

’YAK TACTICS Trolling minnow plugs is one of Warren’s go-to tactics. He uses a 6-foot, 6-inch to 7-foot fast-action, medium-power spinning rod rated for 6- to 8-pound monofilament line. He’ll cast the lure behind the kayak and will continue to feed line until his bait is between 70 and 150 feet out. Warren likes to place the rod in a holder so that he can drop the tip so that it’s level

46 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

Since a kayak is small in footprint and lacks motorized power, it affords an angler the ability to make quiet and stealthy presentations. The result can be fat trout in your kayak. (JAY WARREN)


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NORCAL with the water, allowing the lure to reach maximum depth. The speed at which he pushes the pedals also impacts the running depth of the lure. Warren has had good success fishing in the 5- to 15-foot depth range and by targeting boulders and rocky structure, as opposed to the sandy flats. If a straight troll is not generating any strikes, he will vary his speed, performing “S” turns with the ’yak, or use his rod tip to impart a ripping motion to the bait. “I also like to fish with spoons,” Warren adds. “I don’t troll the spoons; I cast them. It’s sort of like bass fishing out of the kayak. I’ll paddle the kayak to a fishy-looking area and I’ll start throwing to the shoreline, letting the spoon flutter down. Sometimes I will cruise the shoreline just looking for activity. I’ll look for rising fish or maybe I’ll see a group of trout working a bait ball. My favorite spoons are the

¼-ounce Little Cleos and ¼-ounce Thomas Buoyants.” When artificials fail to produce, Warren turns to bait. He constructs a 3- to 4-foot leader by tying a small baitholder hook to one end of the leader and a barrel swivel to the other. On his mainline he adds a sliding sinker, then finishes by tying the mainline to the open end of the swivel. On the hook he uses a threading tool to attach a large nightcrawler. Using the wind to drift through the area, he vertically mooches the ’crawler. An often overlooked tactic is to simply use the kayak to reach a spot. “We often use our kayaks to get to another location, and then we’ll ‘bank’ the kayaks,” says Warren. “There is a lake we fish where everyone parks in a single location and they all fish in that area. In another part of the lake there is an inlet with some really good structure. Our group will use our kayaks to get to that area. We’ll beach the kayaks and then we’ll

48 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

“There is a lake we fish where everyone parks in a single location and they all fish in that area,” Jay Warren says. “In another part of the lake there is an inlet with some really good structure. Our group will use our kayaks to get to that area.” (JAY WARREN)

walk the shoreline. We catch some really nice trout doing that.” Kayak fishing is getting more and more popular, and for good reasons as kayak anglers continue to find new opportunities to catch more and bigger fish. If this sound appealing to you, perhaps you should give it a try. CS


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NORCAL

FROM FIELD ...

SHRIMPY BAIT, TONS OF BITES

The author’s son, Kazden Haugen, was excited with this rainbow trout. Picking the right bait might be what it takes to boost catch rates this season, and shrimp is a good option. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

STORE-BOUGHT SHELLFISH CAN BE TICKET FOR HOOKING MORE TROUT By Scott Haugen

I

just wrapped up sports show season, having hosted dozens of seminars. Some of those were on trout fishing, and I was intrigued by follow-up questions I received from audience members. A number of people who approached me afterwards wanted to learn more about one specific thing – trout bait. It wasn’t the multiple set-ups I shared that I like using when targeting trout in rivers and lakes, nor the rods, reels and lines I used. Rather, it was the bait people were eager to hear more about.

SHRIMP TIME While worms are likely the most universal live bait when it comes to trout fishing, there are other options. One of my favorites is salad shrimp, often called popcorn shrimp. These are the prepackaged little white shrimp that don’t have shells. You can find them in the seafood section of grocery stores for putting on salads and in dips. When bought as-is in the package, salad shrimp is soft and easily falls off your hook. Before going fishing, spread out a cup or so onto a microwaveable plate. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high in the microwave for 30 seconds. When done, take the plate outside to cool off, as the odor is strong. Quick cooking releases the juices and firms up the meat. It also

enhances the smell, optimizing the amount of scent you’re introducing to the trout. Remember that freshwater trout are scent-driven predators, like salmon and steelhead.

HOW TO SET UP Immediately drain the juice from the plate before the cooling begins, as you don’t want the shrimp reabsorbing the liquid. Once cooled, place the shrimp in a plastic, sealed container and put in a cooler. This will ensure the shrimp remain firm, allowing you to fish them in multiple ways. A single shrimp can be threaded onto your trout hook of choice. If the hook being used is small, then you may need to break the shrimp in half. Positioning the shrimp in the bend of the hook naturally fits its shape and keeps it on the hook. When trolling for trout in lakes, try threading a nightcrawler on the hook and slipping a shrimp on below that. I used underwater cameras to monitor how trout react to various baits and observed that the number of follows and strikes greatly increased when a shrimp was added. Often, when the trout plucked the shrimp from the hook, they gave up on the worm, provinh that the shrimp was what they craved most. While a worm adds scent and contrasts color and movement, trout simply love the shrimp. The shrimp can also be fished below a bobber, whether still-fishing in a pond or drift-fishing a river. Here,

the shrimp can be combined with a small worm, half a nightcrawler, or a single egg. When fishing moving water – where the current can break down the shrimp – the bait can be held on the hook by placing a rubber egg below it. Simply thread the shrimp on the hook, then slip on a rubber egg, sliding it to the bend of the hook, past the barb. Pro-Cure makes a single egg that’s incredibly firm, and with the added scent it offers, it’s a good choice to combine with a salad shrimp bait.

ADDING SCENT If wanting to add more scent to a presentation in heavy water or when trolling faster, try a small shrimp tail in situations where the salad shrimp simply won’t stay on. Coon shrimp are small and streamlined, and when dyed, add great color and scent to a presentation. When fished on a lure, I like hooking a coon shrimp tail onto one barb of a treble hook, as this will al-

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NORCAL

... TO FIRE

YOU’LL HAIL THIS CAESAR! By Tiffany Haugen

S

pring is here, and with it, trout season. Whether you're fishing lakes, ponds, rivers or creeks, trout offer lots of fun and some great eating meat. The wonderful thing about trout is their ability to take on the flavors of what they’re being cooked in. Not only does this Caesar trout recipe make for a nice presentation, it offers a taste that even the skeptics out there will enjoy. One large trout, scaled and cleaned, boned and butterflied 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons cream cheese 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon chopped anchovies or ½ tablespoon anchovy paste 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives or green onion 2 teaspoons minced garlic ¼ teaspoon black pepper Additional chives for garnish Lemon wedge for garnish

Bone and butterfly trout and place, skin-side down, on a baking sheet or heavy-duty foil. Squeeze lemon over fish and let sit 10 to 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over fish and sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese if desired. In a preheated 350-degree oven or grill, bake 15 to 20 minutes or until fish reaches an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees. Garnish with additional chives and/or chive flowers and lemon wedge, if desired. Remember that whole trout can be boned, stuffed and secured with kitchen twine, toothpicks or wooden skewers. This presentation looks like a whole fish but it’s much easier to eat with bones removed.

TO BUTTERFLY AN already gutted fish prior to cooking, place it on its back. From the inside of the fish, cut the ribs where they attach to the spine and sever the ribs on both sides of the backbone, continuing through the pin bones but taking care not to cut through the skin.

52 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

Tiffany Haugen likes to experiment with different flavors versatile trout can pair with, such as this Caesar-flavored dish. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

Cut through the spine at the base of the head and base of tail, then pull out the spine. Next, carefully fillet the rib bones away from the meat. Trim excessive fat and fins off the belly of the fish and remove the dorsal fin by cutting around the outside of it. To remove pin bones, find them by running your fingers from head to tail. This will get the bones standing up, which makes for easy removal with tweezers. Editor’s note: For signed copies of 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 tiffanyhaugen.com.


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NORCAL Popcorn shrimp, or salad shrimp, are easy to get and are one of the best trout baits around. They can also be rigged and fished multiple ways. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

low the lure to maintain its tracking and proper blade spin. The fact you’re threading the coon shrimp through the shell, not just the meat, keeps it on the hook very well. Coon shrimp tails can be dyed multiple colors, but red has worked best for me when fishing trout. You can even dye the salad shrimp tails if you’d like, but I’ve had more strikes on the natural tails than dyed ones. This spring, whether fishing in small streams, rivers, ponds or lakes, try adding shrimp to your trout presentation. Not only will the strong scent of shrimp attract more trout, the sight of the presentation gets fish excited. And we all know the key to getting trout to bite is getting them fired up. CS Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book, Bank Fishing For Steelhead & Salmon, send a check for $17 (includes S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This and other how-to books can be ordered online at scotthaugen.com.

Coon shrimp tails make a great addition to a trout presentation. Whether hooked on a plug or lure, like this Rooster Tail Minnow, the shrimp provides color, action and scent that trout love. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

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NOTES Spring is finally here, meaning it’s trout fishing time, and this month we look at a very simple and versatile bait rig to catch your rainbows, browns and brookies. This is the perfect rig for the shore angler. The sliding egg sinker allows the fish to take the bait without feeling the resistance of the weight. And by using a baitholder-style hook, an angler can easily switch between a number of effective bait offerings, including an inflated nightcrawler, a marshmallow– salmon egg combo and trout dough bait. To construct the rig, begin by threading a ¼- to ½-ounce egg sinker onto the mainline, attaching the end of the line to a small barrel swivel. Tie a 12- to 24-inch length of 4- to 6-pound fluorocarbon leader to the other end of the swivel. To finish the rig, tie a No. 6 to No. 10 Gamakatsu baitholder hook to the opposite end of the leader. -Mark Fong

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60 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

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BAY AREA

THE OPEN SEASON WITH ANOTHER TROUT OPENER LOOMING, A VETERAN ANGLER REMEMBERS HOW IT USED TO BE

By Bill Adelman

T

he trout family – and no, not Mike Trout of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball fame and his folks – provides anglers countless hours of planning, organizing, traveling, thoughtful approaches, tackle selections, presentations, disappointments, and sometimes minimal successes. I know a few anglers out there who recall being part of the “opening day” mystique of trout season. Prior to its popularity decline beginning in the 1960s, opening day was as important to a large section of outdoorsmen as the first day of baseball season. We listened in silence as the adults spoke of the previous year’s successes or failures and worked to make amends this year. This was always stream creek or river fishing, not just drowning PowerBait in a local lake. Favorite waters and areas were as protected as one’s tax report or middle name. The kids were not allowed to fish until the older family members had finished. But we were taught the

Bay Area resident Bill Adelman remembers trout openers in past years as a young member of his family trying to crack the secrets of how to limit out, but these days it still helps him feel like a kid again. (BILL ADELMAN)

streamside method of field-dressing a trout and got to partake in that adventure immediately. Many of the old-timers farmed their own worms or nightcrawlers, the bait of choice. Secrets as to how they were fed were similarly protected and kept to ourselves. My granddad’s formula was something or other, mixed calsportsmanmag.com | APRIL 2017 California Sportsman

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BAY AREA with wet coffee grounds turned into the dampened soil by hand. His worms were bigger and more fearful than today’s ’crawlers that are bought in gas stations and tackle shops. We often broke the worm in half, since trout would react to half a worm just as readily as a whole one, so why waste a perfectly good full-size worm? And we learned to not get caught breaking a second worm when a half of one was in the can. Then came progress, in the form of a certain brand of salmon eggs in a jar that hit the market and were an immediate success, but not so fast here. They had two formulas, designated by a red or green lid. We were only allowed to use the green label, as conventional wisdom dictated they caught far more trout and didn’t fall off the hook as easily when being cast.

MY TURN As my paper route provided enough money to buy some stuff, my first investment was a Sears telescoping aluminum rod, a clumsy casting reel, Dacron fishing line and catgut leader material. Later on, we actually bought some spinners and a whole new world of trout fishing opened up to the kids. Our target fish back then was the rainbow trout. Who knew anything about browns, cutts, brook, golden, lake, bull or steelhead trout? Not us. In the 1950s, trout farms began to pop up. Rainbows were much easier to catch and you had to keep every fish you caught and pay for them by the pound.

The arch of a rod from a big trout – Bill’s fighting one at a Sonoma County pond – is as exciting as ever. (BILL ADELMAN)

It wasn’t as much fun as walking a creek in tennis shoes and old jeans. But as we aged, new options became available to us. A whole new world opened up, as we were able to fish creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes or through the ice. And fuel was less than 50 cents per gallon, so that should tell you something about it.

NEW CHALLENGES Native trout are very difficult to fool, and anglers had to hone their skills, with more and more turning to the fly fishing community. Fly anglers seemed to revel in presenting their techniques as so difficult to master that only a select few should even attempt it. We now know this to not be the case. I can fly fish, so there’s that. As time passed, more and more regulations were implemented and limits were adjusted to suit what the experts deemed necessary to protect a fishery. Now we have a hatchery program that is getting butchered with regulations every year. Catch and release, barbless hooks, no bait and barbless flies are the rule of the day on many waters, and quite frankly, most of these ideas are good ones. We have designated Wild and Heritage trout waters that demand special attention. There are those who demand all non-native trout be removed from the ecosystem. Why is it necessary to kill a German brown caught in the Merced River in Yosemite just because they were planted many years ago instead of being there since the valley was formed?

A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE

The simple act of using cut nightcrawlers to catch a feisty rainbow made for a simpler time back in the day. (BILL ADELMAN) 64 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

Some fly fishing-only waters make it extremely difficult for the angler, as the degree of experience required reduces most of us to unsuccessful rookie status. But for the fly guy, it’s much more than catching a trout. The total experience begins with the planning stage and ends with


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BAY AREA the recalling stage upon returning home. As much as it’s exciting to feel that first tick, it’s all part of the experience to uncase the rod and prepare it for the day. Part of the mental work is knowing in advance what your plan is. Trout in a lake are almost constantly on the move. Trout in a creek are seldom on the move except to explore small sections for food. They mostly lie in wait and let the food come to them. Sorta like ordering a pizza via delivery rather than driving to the store. Increased chances of success can be enhanced with new knowledge. Each species of trout has a water temperature range that provides a better-than-average opportunity for hook-ups, but how many of us actually know and take advantage of this information? You know who does? Black bass anglers. We all enjoy a pic of our catch; however, trout will expire quicker than almost any other species of fish. The longer they are held out of the water, the more damage is done to the brain, which will result in a trout dying more quickly and becoming fodder for crawdads. Common sense can prevent about 90 percent of this occurring. Good luck this fishing season, and don’t forget to keep your nightcrawler-feeding formula a well-guarded secret, since we had to. CS

66 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

The author with a nice rainbow, one of many he’s outfoxed in all these years of fishing. (BILL ADELMAN)

Times have changed - newer, fancier baits and lures have appeared on the scene and regulations have tightened. But the fish haven’t changed and that’s what makes April 29 such a big deal. (BILL ADELMAN)


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SIERRA Whether the April 29 fishing opener in the Sierra sees sun, snow, rain or other weather, you can still count on many trout filling happy anglers’ nets. (MIKE STEVENS)

WEATHER OR NOT, HERE WE COME HOW WILL A WET AND SNOWY WINTER IMPACT ‘FISHMAS’ DAY TROUT OPENER? A LOT OF ANGLERS WILL FIND OUT By Mike Stevens

I

f the weather and water conditions for the Eastern Sierra trout opener weren’t so famously variable, we might not like it as much.

Spanning the last four openers alone, we have had snow and wind on the day of, whiteout conditions the night prior, and one year may as well have been July, with most anglers shedding to T-shirts by 10 a.m.

Keeping this each-year-differentthan-the-last streak in mind, we might be due for a rainy “Fishmas,” which would probably be the most miserable of them all, but you have to admit that this would be the year for it.

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SIERRA

The large area of Convict Lake is susceptible to heavy winds and precipitation, but it’s usually popular on opening day, so expect many seekers of big trout there once again. (MIKE STEVENS)

While troutheads need to be ready for anything weather wise for the April 29 season premiere, there are ways to prepare for the hugely popular event based on years past and on what we do know. Key terms that will and should keep coming up leading up to the last Saturday in April this year include snowpack, runoff, flow rate and water levels. The “atmospheric river” dumped precipitation in the form of record-breaking rain and snow all over California, recharging reservoirs from Shasta to San Diego as well as aquifers everywhere in between. More importantly, the weather brought on enough snowpack – which is essentially the state’s water savings account – to the point where, off the record, Californians won’t have to worry about water supplies for a relatively long time. Naturally, it will also affect the popular spots for the Eastern Sierra trout opener.

AN OWENS CRISIS Starting from the “bottom up,” the Lower Owens River might be the

biggest question mark in the region. In fact, it’s already pretty banged up. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), which governs the river’s flows, already declared it as well as Pleasant Valley Reservoir unsafe to fish in March. This, in turn, caused the City of Bishop to cancel the annual Blake Jones Trout Derby, the 50th installment of the event, no less, making it a difficult call to make. But they simply could not risk having that many people along the banks of PVR and the Lower O when they could be forced to uncork the river and let all that water fly. There will be weeks over the coming month where heat waves (for lack of a better term) will quickly thaw the snowpack. When that happens, the Owens will swell to unfishable and even unsafe levels, and if it happens during the opener when it’s on your radar, you’d better have a plan B. Like the weather, there’s no way to predict when that will happen, but to give you an idea of the seriousness of the matter, state officials are starting to throw the phrase “state of emergency”

70 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

around when talking about how the spring thaw can affect the entire Owens Valley.

BETTER NEWS ELSEWHERE Bishop Creek gets a lot of attention during the opener, and as long as it’s not one of those extreme thaw weeks, it should be manageable. Access above the 9,000-foot mark will be limited due to heavy snow, but both forks of the creek will be stocked and accessible. There is also a good chance for the return of ice fishing at Lake Sabrina, South Lake and North Lake. If that’s not your deal, Intake II should be ice free and heavily stocked. Crowley and Convict Lakes are very popular opening weekend fisheries, and regardless of what the runoff throws at them, it’s almost impossible for them to be rendered completely unfishable. Crowley Lake has already been drawn down to accommodate all the new water heading to it through multiple tributaries, including the Upper Owens River. When that fills, LADWP will have to


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SIERRA A trolled Kastmaster enticed this brown trout to strike. You never know what kind of conditions you’ll encounter this high up. But anglers have waited for the chance to wet a line, so expect a lot of fishing pressure as usual. (MIKE STEVENS)

let it fly through The Gorge into the Lower O.

Crowley Lake is known for churning out fat cutthroat trout around the late April opener like this on. The biggest caught are in the 4- to 6-pound range. (MIKE STEVENS)

OLD STAPLES ARE EFFECTIVE At those lakes, early-season tactics remain the same, regardless of conditions: boaters will score by flatline or leadcore trolling with Owner Cultivas, Rapalas, Needlefish and Tasmanian Devils. Shore walkers should stick to the sheltered coves, fish slowly and not shy away from scent. Floating baits, including the jarred stuff as well as Berkley Pinched Crawlers, Mice Tails and inflated nightcrawlers, will fill stringers for those who stick to it. Usually, of the top 20 fish caught on opening day at Crowley (they keep track), 75 percent of them are beautiful cutthroat in the 4- to 6-pound range; the rest are quality browns and planter rainbows. The same game plan 72 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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will work at Convict Lake. You can pretty much forget about the Mammoth Lakes Basin, which is a shame because even when they are accessible, all the angler pressure is at Crowley, Convict or the June Lake Loop, leaving heavily stocked lakes almost untapped. But it’s extremely unlikely Lake Mary Road will be open past Twin Lakes, and even if it is, there will be too much ice to deal with anyway. Unless it is safe for ice fishing, that’s about it.

NO LOOPHOLES HERE There’s a good chance opening weekend in the June Lake Loop will be business as usual for the most part. Grant Lake will be the most positively affected by all the new water, as it was looking pretty low for a while there. That might be the big sleeper this opener as it’s a historical big-fish producer, an ideal lake for trolling, and it’s been kind of left off the radar for a few low-water years now. Rush Creek is a big question mark and should be treated the same way as the Lower Owens: If it’s fishable, consider it a bonus without putting all your eggs in that basket. The rest of the Loop – Silver, Gull and June Lakes – can be expected to be good to go on Fishmas weekend. Up in Bridgeport, the East Walker was blown out and unfishable in late March, but just because it happened then doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, or a third or fourth time. The good news is, the big lakes in Bridgeport suffered from very low water levels throughout last season to the extent that some docks and launch ramps weren’t usable. That is no longer a problem, especially at Bridgeport Reservoir, and this area has the potential to crank out huge brown trout right at the start of the season, as well as in late fall. If big fish is what you are after, Bridgeport needs to be an option and trolling big minnow baits is how you want to get after it. And for that type of fishing, don’t let the inclement weather scare you off the water. CS 74 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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SIERRA Gardisky Lake, located high in the Sierra east of Yosemite and up a steep incline, rewards weary hikers with outstanding trout fishing. (TIM E. HOVEY)

WHERE THE FISHING IS FINE

FRIENDS FIND PEACE, TROUT DEEP IN THE SIERRA NEVADA By Tim E. Hovey

I

took an oxygen break at the switchbacks. Hands on knees, I sucked in huge gulps of air trying to catch my breath. The high elevation wasn’t helping. Like a good friend, Ed had gone on without me. Before he had disappeared up the trail, he had once again mentioned that the fishing at the mountain lake would be well worth the hiking effort. I had only heard part of his departing speech as the sound of my own laboring heartbeat pounded in my ears. The trail towards the top leveled off, and hiking over the last rise allowed for my first view of Gardisky Lake. The lake sits at an elevation of 10,650 feet above the Tioga Pass in the Sierra. Like many mountain

lakes, Gardisky is a huge blue puddle in the saddle of the highest peak around. Vegetation is nonexistent at its edge, the result of constantly expanding and contracting water levels dependent on the snow melt. Standing there soaking with sweat, I realized Ed was right. The hike in had been a small price to pay.

ED AND I WERE ON one of our annual trips. On this adventure, Ed had packed a spare fly rod and he told me on the drive up that he was going to teach me how to use it. In my lifelong pursuit of fish, I could count on one hand the number of times I had held a fly rod. For some reason it just never appealed to me; I was happy slinging bait or lures in my quest to catch whatever was biting. In the spirit of something new, on this trip,

I was happy to be the student. We camped at a lake at the top of the grade, right off the Tioga Pass road. We tossed a few camping essentials at our site and headed out towards the flats to fish. Ed handed me the fly rod and gave me some very brief instructions. He made a few casts with his rod as an example and pointed out places on the river I should try. He then handed me a small bottle of some magic dust he used to dry off the fly every few casts and then started hiking upstream to give me some room to fish. My lesson was over. Over the next few hours we hiked the narrow river, searching for trout. I spent just as much time unhooking the fly from the surrounding vegetation as actually fishing. Despite my wobbly beginner’s steps, I had hooked and landed a few trout before I buried the tiny fly in my

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SIERRA thumb trying to pull it from the grass at the river’s edge. Back at camp, Ed pointed in various directions, naming lakes he had fished in the past. When he spoke of Gardisky, his tone changed. He talked about the hike to get there and how few fishermen bothered with the effort. He described the view from the top and how the lake was absolutely loaded with brook trout. He told me about the first time his dad had taken him there, years before, and how it was one of his favorite spots to be. He then described the lake in a way I will never forget. “When you finally see the lake, it’s like visiting an old friend,” he said.

AFTER I ARRIVED AT GARDISKY, we split up and started fishing. Ed swatted the air near the shore with his fly rod and caught a brook trout on his first cast. I had packed a small spinning rod for this session and started fan casting the lake with a small spinner. Ed was right; the lake was loaded with hungry trout. We spent a few hours casting different sides of the lake. Ed easily outfished me five to one, but that didn’t matter to me. I knew this place was special to him and I felt privileged that he had shown it to me. So far, I’ve only been there once, but I remember everything about it. With less than an hour of daylight left, we took a few photos, packed up our gear and started for the trailhead. That evening, we sat around the fire and talked about the hike. My legs were already sore but I didn’t care. I knew that I was lucky to be shown the bright blue gem on the mountain. And I will remember that time in the Sierra with my good friend Ed for the rest of my life. THE FOLLOWING YEAR, MY friend Rito and I headed to Bishop for a quick hunting and fishing trip in the Eastern Sierra. Our plan was to hunt our way towards town, spend the night at a local camping spot and then head

Rito Escamillo casts in a “secret spot” in the Eastern Sierra, shared by a friend of author Tim Hovey’s, Ed Davis. It provided great fishing for hungry trout, including a big spawner Hovey released. (TIM E. HOVEY)

up the pass to fish. After a full day of travel and light hunting, we headed out that first morning to look for trout. While we had several spots in mind, our priority was to find a location neither one of us had ever been. Ed had heard about our trip and decided to share one of his secret spots with us. It was late April and most of the lake fish were staging at the mouths of feeder creeks, looking to spawn. Once they began migrating up the confined creeks, they’d pair off and spawn in the narrow streams. Ed told us that this spot was always loaded with healthy-sized trout. With no cell coverage and questionable directions, we spent over an hour driving certain roads and making

78 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

lefts instead of rights. We finally backtracked and found the landmark and the road leading to Ed’s secret spot. We parked and made the short hike to the high-mountain creek. I found a boulder that gave us a great view of the stream as it fed the lake below. I spotted dark shapes moving through the shallows in the open areas of the drainage. Large trout were staging near the banks in less than 12 inches of water. Rito and I sat in the shade of a large pine and rigged up our rods. Ed had been very specific that he had only used dry flies to catch the trout here and couldn’t really help us on lure selection. Rito rigged up with a small trout jig and hiked a bit downstream to start fishing. I tied on


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SIERRA a small white jig and hiked upstream to try my luck. I found a group of four fish occupying a small pool below a tiny waterfall. Kneeling at the bank, I made a small cast above the fish and let the waterfall wash my lure into the pool. Without hesitation, the nearest trout raced out and grabbed the white jig; first cast, first fish wasn’t a bad start. After a short fight in the narrow creek, I landed the 2½-pound rainbow. Everything about this fish screamed “wild” trout. It was transitioning into spawning colors and had a large, rose-colored patch on the side of his face. All of his fins were absolutely perfect and his coloration was amazing. I easily unhooked the trout and placed him back in the creek. Before we had found the spot, Rito and I had agreed to squeeze down our hooks’ barbs and release any fish we caught at Ed’s secret spot. I caught one more trout out of the group and moved downstream a bit. Over the sound of the creek I heard Rito call to me. He was kneeling at the bank holding a healthy rainbow trout and smiling. With the morning light and the wild background, it would’ve made a perfect photo. Before I could grab my camera, Rito gently released the trout and moved downstream to fish. Whenever I think about that amazing day and that spot, I think of that image of Rito releasing his fish and a missed photo op.

FOR THE NEXT TWO hours, Rito and I fished the creek and caught trout after trout. For the last 30 minutes, I just hiked downstream and watched the fish. At the last pool, I spotted a beautiful rainbow in a small pool all by itself. The trout would swim up a few feet and then circle back to the same spot. It would occasionally swim to a shallow area with its back completely out of the water. It looked to be slightly larger than the other trout 80 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

The trout aren’t all monsters in the Eastern Sierra, but they sure do provide a lot of enjoyment for anglers seeking a rustic getaway. (TIM E. HOVEY)


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SIERRA and I was determined to catch it. After a few casts I finally placed the small jig in the strike zone. The trout inhaled the lure and felt the steel of the hook. After a short fight with nowhere to go, I landed the trout, by far the prettiest fish I had ever caught. I couldn’t stop staring at the spotted patterns mixed with the rainbow colors. I called Rito to come check it out and take a few photos. I then carefully released the fish back near where I had caught it and watched as it continued its staging behavior like nothing had happened. Rito and I fished at other spots later that day, but I don’t remember them. For me, nothing could surpass that brief time on the secret river, and my memory holds it far above most other freshwater fishing memories. Right next to that one and just as memorable is my trip to Gardisky Lake with my good friend Ed. CS

Shhh. The author won’t share Davis’s honey holes, but here’s a little tease of the kind of rainbow trout you just might find poking around the Sierra this season. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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SIERRA Rainbows ranging from 3 to 8 pounds will be planted throughout the spring at Collins Lake, giving this Sierra foothills lake plenty of opportunities for troutheads. (COLLINS LAKE)

BIG SPRING AHEAD AT COLLINS

SIERRA FOOTHILLS LAKE SHOULD BE A GREAT TROUT OPTION

By Chris Cocoles

O

ne of the gems of the Sierra foothills is Collins Lake, located just northwest of Grass Valley and about a 35-minute drive from the Yuba City-Marysville area. Collins Lakes Resort (collinslake.com) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and even without that party, the lake’s aggressive trout stocking program and outstanding bass and catfish prospects make it a destination for Northern California anglers. We caught up with Lincoln Young, the resort’s general manager and mem-

ber of the family that’s operated it for several generations now, for more on what to expect this season.

March or early April, we should see a big increase in all fish as the temperature rises and water clears.

Chris Cocoles What are the initial prospects for the spring season at Collins Lake? Lincoln Young With the continual rains through the winter months, we were full early and the water clarity was very murky. Now that we have started having breaks in the weather, fishing will start picking up. Current lake conditions (as of March 17) have the surface temperature at 57 degrees and about 4 feet of visibility. By the end of

CC California got a lot of rain in the winter. What is the lake’s water level looking like? LY We got to full capacity December 27 and have been spilling ever since.

CC Anglers are surely excited to see some warmer weather but also some hungry trout biting before the water temperatures get a little too warm. How do you expect the trout bite to go? LY With the colder/wetter winter

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SIERRA

Heavy rains put Collins at full capacity, and despite some murky conditions, it should produce some great trout fishing now, with bass biting as the water warms up over the next few months. (COLLINS LAKE)

and spring, the spring fishing will start picking up and should be solid through May. As the lake continues to clear and temperatures start to rise, we will start seeing all fish become more active.

CC Collins Lake’s family fishing derby is on May 6. Tell us all the details potential entrants need to know. LY This is the second annual Family Trout Fishing Derby. Participants can register through a link on our website (collinslake.weebly.com/store/ c3/Fish_Derbies_.html). We started the event to create a space for families to come out and have a good time together. All proceeds benefit the Yuba Sutter Young Life, which is a youth organization in our local area. All participants receive a free barbecue lunch and raffle tickets.

CC What about the bass and catfish pros-

east side of the lake and in the coves heading up into the northern channel.

CC What kind of a stocking schedule do you have planned for trout plants? LY We will be following a very similar plant schedule for spring 2017. We started our spring plants on Valentine’s Day and will be planting regularly through May for a total of over 36,000 pounds through the spring. This makes Collins Lake California’s largest private trout planting program north of Sacramento. Most plants include a mixture of catchable trout and larger trophy-sized trout (3 to 8 pounds). Check out our updated planting schedule at download.collinslake.com/Fish_Planting_log.pdf. With RV hookups available, this month’s trout derby and 50th anniversary celebrations planned this summer, Collins should be a busy place. (COLLINS LAKE)

pects for the spring and into summer? LY April, May and early June should be active months for the bass and crappie, as the temperature starts to rise and they start to become more active. The natural population in the lake has been thriving, and these past two years of being at a full lake level has provided more habitat for them to flourish in. The prime spawning beds are on the 86 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

CC Are there any other upcoming events or information visitors should know about? LY This season marks the 50th anniversary of Collins Lake. It has been owned by the Young family for the past 45 of those 50 years. We will be celebrating this landmark year with various promotions throughout the year. This summer we have live music on our deck, movies on our beach and are introducing Paint N’ Sip events to create activities for the entire family to enjoy while they are camping. CS Editor’s note: Like Collins Lake at facebook.com/collinslakefishing/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf.


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SOCAL

LAKE BARRETT BASS ARE BACK

ANGLERS WILLING TO PAY THE FEES CAN SCORE AT POPULAR SAN DIEGO FISHERY

The author admires a chunky Lake Barrett largemouth that fell for a Yamamoto Senko. The San Diego-area bass fishery reopens in early May. (BILL SCHAEFER)

By Bill Schaefer

I

t is that time of year when San Diego’s Lake Barrett, a fishery where anglers pay an access fee, opens its gates again after being shut for approximately the last six months. The bass are all settled down and ready to hit anything you can throw at them. With all the rain the water is up from last year, and the Barrett bass will head straight to the brush as they traditionally do, so get ready to flip, use frogs, and call them out with buzzbaits. The lake’s level is in better shape, as all the rains from last winter definitely brought the water up. As of mid-March, Barrett was about 43 feet from spill; at the same time last year, it was 83 feet from spill. That translates into a lot more shoreline to fish, along with a lot of brush for the

fish to hide in. Since the bass run to the brush when they have it, you will need to fish worms, the old favorite Senkos and jigs. There 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 too. With all that brush you will want to go with some heavier line. The bass are not line-shy here, so why risk losing a big one? I use my Daiwa Tatula gear spooled up with their new green Jx8 braid in 50-pound test; if using mono, I go with 12- to 20-pound Maxima Ultragreen. You want to be able to turn that fish’s head and get him coming at you, so you can pull him out of the thick stuff. Barrett provides 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 will be spread out to give everyone more room to fish. There are a ton of bass in this lake, and remember that they haven’t seen a lure in more than half a year. This is a great place to introduce your kids to bass fishing; they will catch some here. The first couple of months are always the best, but with high water, who knows what to expect? Tickets go on sale the second Tuesday of the month before you wish to visit, so this year they first go on sale April 10, and will stay on sale through TicketMaster until all spaces for May are sold out. That represents 100 spaces a day for 25 boats. Kayaks and float tubes are welcome too. You can check out all the details at sandiego. gov/water/recreation/reservoirs/ barrett. CS

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SOCAL

ON THE TRAIL

OF YELLOWTAIL FISH BEGINNING TO APPEAR UP AND DOWN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S COAST By Capt. Bill Schaefer

Y

ellowtail fishing off Southern California has been great the last several months, only dipping when stormy weather kept most anglers off the big pond. But as soon as the storms passed and normal Southland weather returned, the jacks came out to play again. Fish from 10 to 30 pounds have been taken and that should continue into the spring. The only other snag that may put a dent in the counts would be if the tuna show in big numbers again, which they most likely will. Everywhere, from just south of the Mexican border to Catalina Island, has been producing. Most yellowtail have been caught on surface iron thrown to puddling fish, but slow-trolling a sardine or mackerel will do the trick as well. Kayakers haven’t been left out of the action either, as they have been scoring some nice fish along the kelpline. Watch for diving birds feeding on leftover scraps from yellowtail. A good set of binoculars will help you for spotting breaking fish. You don’t want to run all around chasing birds on a seal or porpoise. A good meter can help as well, in case the fish sink out once you reach the area of the working birds. When approaching the school, remember not to charge right in. You can use the wind or swell to drift in. Come in slow and circle to the upwind side and slowly move in. It can make a difference. For throwing jigs, the traditional

Jeff King shows off a 30-pound-class yellowtail that fell for surface iron off La Jolla. Yellowtail are beginning to congregate in larger numbers. (BILL SCHAEFER)

8-foot jig stick is king, but nowadays some anglers, including myself, go for a little different set-up. I like to throw my iron on a Daiwa Lexa 400 loaded with 50-pound Jx8 braid and a Proteus 8-foot inshore rod. It’s the same principle, just a lot lighter but just as strong. For mono, you can go with a line like Maxima 30-pound Ultragreen. For jigs, the list is endless, but those in scrambled egg, mackerel, blue and white, along with all variations of these, will do. If your buddy gets more bites than you, don’t hesitate to

change. Yellowtail fishing was great last year, with only tuna changing anglers’ direction. Don’t forget you can also fish that leftover tuna bait on kelp paddies on the way back in and get a few yellows that way. You can use the lighter bait rigs you have for tuna for these fish. You don’t want to go too heavy, as the yellows on paddies can be a bit more skittish than inshore fish in a feeding frenzy. I don’t think you will have any trouble finding yellowtail this season. Go get them! CS

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BEST OF LAKE ISABELLA

Lake Isabella is back in the Fishing Business Big Time! Lake Isabella, located in the Kern River Valley in the Southern Sierras, is full again with water AND full of fish! The miracle rains of this past winter have restored the water level and with increased vegetation from several years of low water drought levels, this year will be terrific for lake fishing. The season kicks off with the Annual Lake Isabella Fishing Derby, April 8-10th with thousands of dollars in cash prizes and hundreds of entry prizes. Contact the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce at www.kernrivervalley.com for all the info. In addition, the Kern River is known as one of the best first class whitewater rafting rivers in the state. From “Lickety Split” river runs to week-long trips through the “forks,” and sizes in between, there are adventurous river trips for all. Kayaking is also one of the more exciting experiences offered on the “Kern.” Lake Isabella offers services of two floating marinas with rentals and refreshments. Around the shoreline, you’ll find campgrounds with individual and group sites operated by the California Land Management, with reserved and first come, first serve sites. Giant Sequoias, nature preserves, hiking and biking trails, or shade trees on the river bank for sitting under, the Kern River Valley has something for everyone. So drive in or fly in to the “Bountiful” Kern River Valley and Lake Isabella.

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CENTRAL VALLEY Wild turkeys are most abundant in Central and Northern California, including throughout the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, but some roam inland areas of SoCal’s San Diego County too. (TIM E. HOVEY)

IN APRIL, IT’S ALWAYS TURKEY DAY SPRING GOBBLERS ARE WORTH PURSUING

By Tim E. Hovey

I

am by no means a turkey hunting expert. I have killed a couple of birds and assisted in getting my daughter her first turkey in the spring of 2016, but I don’t chase them very often. But I love to hunt and try to make the most of all my hunting ventures.

In other words, I try to pay attention to the subtle differences that have been instrumental to my success, no matter what animal I’m chasing.

SPRING FORWARD California has two turkey hunting seasons: a fall opener that runs from November 12 through December 11, and a spring season that runs from

March 25 through April 30. Youth hunters can enjoy an early hunt that begins the weekend before the spring opener. Wild turkeys are far more abundant in the central and northern portion of the state, including throughout the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. Southern California hunters can find birds in in-

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CENTRAL VALLEY land San Diego County, but a majority of turkey habitat in that area is on private land, and access will have to be secured before your hunt. Despite property limitations, dedicated turkey hunters can be successful with preseason scouting and making the most of the opportunities they’re presented. Over the years, I’ve learned a little something on every single turkey hunt I’ve been on. Applying what I’ve learned has definitely led to my success. In fact, when I’m chasing longbeards, these subtle adjustments to my hunting style have helped me put more turkey meat in the freezer.

THE DECOY DISCUSSION

Author Tim Hovey (here with friend Chris Huntley, left) is a big fan of hunting smaller upland birds, but he’s had success most of the times he’s gone after California’s wild turkeys. The spring season runs through all of April. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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While the quality and appearance of turkey hunting decoys have improved dramatically in the last 10 years, the reason for their use has remained the same. They serve as a visual attractor to draw in and hold the attention of springtime gobblers. However, just setting out a plastic bird isn’t a guarantee a gobbler will come into range. Understanding the season and setting out the proper decoy arrangement can lead to a higher degree of success. Putting out a hen decoy during the spring strutting season is a no-brainer, but spicing up the plastic scenario will definitely make things interesting. Competition and taking down a rival is a common theme when adult toms are competing for females. Adding a tom decoy or, better yet, a jake near the plastic hen will get the blood boiling of any interested tom. Years ago, I was on a turkey hunt during the spring opener. We had a single hen decoy out front, and after several hours of subtle calling, pairs of males would occasionally come in. But as soon as they saw the decoy, they’d stop and fight each other out of range. I knew if we had set up a jake decoy near the hen, the toms would’ve raced in to deal with the young male within range of our set-up. More decoys aren’t always better.


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CENTRAL VALLEY Putting out a hen decoy is a no-brainer in the spring, but adding a tom decoy or, better yet, a jake near the plastic hen will get the blood of any interested tom boiling. (TIM E. HOVEY)

100 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com

Last year, while prescouting for my daughter Alyssa’s hunt on opening day, we found a group of birds with a huge tom in the group. While he was clearly the lead bird, he wasn’t as dominant as we would’ve liked. He was being harassed and pushed around by a trio of aggressive jakes. Feeling the approaching spring strut, the three young males wouldn’t let him anywhere near the hens. As soon as the mature tom started strutting and displaying, the jakes would run him off. They wouldn’t chase him from the group, but they were definitely cramping his style. We realized a tom decoy out with the hen may not be the best option. We felt the presence of a second tom would draw the attention of the jakes and keep the lead bird away. The next morning we kept it simple and set out a single hen decoy. Five minutes after the birds flew down from their roost, Alyssa was able to harvest her first turkey.


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CENTRAL VALLEY The author’s daughter Alyssa Hovey helps to set up a blind. Faced by a quarry with supersharp eyes, concealing yourself and your movements is key when pursuing turkeys. (TIM E. HOVEY)

GENTLEMEN (TURKEYS) PREFER BLINDS? I’ve hunted turkeys using several different types of set-ups to conceal our presence. My first outings

were using the natural vegetation and camo without any type of blind. When my good friend Darrin and I started chasing turkeys in the early

2000s, we’d see birds and get them interested but they just wouldn’t close the distance. When I killed my first turkey,

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CENTRAL VALLEY another friend, Chris Huntley, and I had positioned ourselves behind a small, portable camo fence and set up a single hen decoy out front. The roll-up fencing was perfect for hiding our movements and concealing our presence. After the photos were taken and the smiles documented, both of us commented on how the fencing was key to our success. Last spring I took Alyssa up to Redding on her first turkey hunt. My friend Casey Compton invited us up and met us the evening before the opener to help us scout for gobblers. We found a group of birds and watched them until they roosted at sundown. Casey had set up a large portable blind at the edge of the field near the roosting site. Early the next morning we sneaked into the blind before sunup. We were dressed in darker clothing and able to move undetected in the large blind, better for concentrating on

lining up Alyssa on her first turkey. I think that each of these set-ups have their advantages, but each illustrates how important it is to conceal yourself and your movements while pursuing turkeys. These birds have amazing eyesight and depend on this sense to protect them from predators. If you’re a first-time turkey hunter or trying to get a new hunter their first turkey, consider using a pop-up blind or camo fencing to give you the advantage to bring those wary birds close.

CALLING CARD During the spring, using a slate call or mouth call to mimic a hen is ideal for getting the attention of gobblers in the area. Yet I’ve seen turkey hunters overuse the hen call more often than not. When I first started turkey hunting and messing with diaphragm calls, a warden who was experienced at calling and killing turkeys gave me some telling advice. “Sometimes the

best calling is no calling,” he said. I’ve always remembered that. In the early days, we’d use diaphragm calls to imitate a hen in spring. I’d call once, wait five minutes and then call again, extending the waiting gaps as the morning unfolded. Darrin was a little more impatient and he’d usually fill my gaps of silence with his own clucks. Turkeys would come to investigate, but we just didn’t have the right combination of what they wanted to hear and they’d stay out of range. On one hunt, with exactly nine minutes of first-time practice on the slate call, I was able to get the attention of several groups of gobblers in the area. They would answer me but wouldn’t show themselves. I realized that I was calling too frequently and decided to slow way down. I gave out a single set of hen clucks, tapered it off to a soft purr and didn’t call again for 30 minutes. It worked; the birds we had only heard before started to

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CENTRAL VALLEY show themselves. Soon we were surrounded by small groups of interested toms. During Alyssa’s hunt last year our perfect set-up did all the work for us. At sunrise, Casey let out a single set of soft purrs from his diaphragm call and the birds were on us. No other calling was required.

GIVING THANKS FOR TURKEYS Even though I don’t get out as often as I’d like to chase turkeys, I do consider it one of the most exciting types of hunting a California sportsman can participate in. In areas where birds are abundant, the action can be fast and exciting. It’s also not unusual for toms to stick around after one bird has been shot out of the group. My first successful turkey hunt resulted in a double with my friend Chris. After I shot mine, the other tom lingered a few seconds too long and allowed Chris to harvest a second.

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Alyssa Hovey hoists her spring gobbler. In spring, using a slate call or mouth call to mimic a hen is ideal for getting the attention of gobblers in the area. (TIM E. HOVEY)


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They might not match the thrill of flushing fastflying pheasants or the adrenaline of a deer hunt, but wild turkeys fill a spring niche for hunters. (TIM E. HOVEY)

In my experience, springtime gobblers are too preoccupied with love to be considered wary, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to kill. Making sure birds are in the area you hunt is probably the first step in turkey hunting success. Preseason scouting will help in identifying where groups of birds spend most of their time and where hunters should set up. Matching your decoy set-up to mimic the seasonal mood and group dynamics will get birds in close. Lastly, call sparingly and keep your movements to a minimum. Pay attention to the subtle details when you’re calling this spring and be prepared for quick action. Nothing compares to hearing an interested tom respond to your calling or watching a 20-pound bird strutting around the decoy you put out. For me, the hardest part is staying calm and shooting straight. CS 108 California Sportsman APRIL 2017 | calsportsmanmag.com


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CENTRAL VALLEY

A TUR-QUILA SUNRISE WORTH TOASTING (OR AT LEAST GRILLING) INFUSE GOBBLER KABOBS WITH A FIESTA OF FLAVOR By Jeremiah Doughty

S

itting in the field freezing and watching the toms strut into our decoys, my cousin looks over to me and says, “Man I could go for a shot of tequila to warm me up right now.” I laughed and started thinking of this very recipe. We were successful that morning, and as we drove back to the cabin I shared my recipe with him. Needless to say, we enjoyed a delicious lunch filled with laughter and tequila-lime turkey kabobs. I guess he got his shot of tequila, after all.

INGREDIENTS One wild turkey breast, cubed ¼ cup gold tequila ¼ lime juice 4 cloves garlic, minced ½ cup cilantro, chopped ½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon cracked pepper ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 tablespoons olive oil One large red onion, sliced Two large bells peppers, sliced

DIRECTIONS • In large glass bowl mix tequila, lime juice, garlic, cumin, pepper, cilantro, red pepper flakes and oil. • Add turkey breast chunks, mix and cover, refrigerate for one to two hours. • While meat is marinating, soak your wooden skewers. • Pull meat from fridge and start to assemble, onion, meat, pepper, meat and repeat. • Over medium heat on grill, grill each kabob for five minutes each side. • If your kabobs start to burn, move to a cooler area on grill. • Remove from grill and enjoy.

Using ingredients like tequila, cilantro and lime juice should add a kick and some zest to your spring wild turkey breast. (JEREMIAH DOUGHTY)

Editor’s note: For more on the Wild Chef, Jeremiah Doughty, check out his website (fromfieldtoplate.com), like him on Facebook (facebook.com/Fromfieldtoplate) and follow him on Instagram (fromfieldtoplate) and Twitter (fromfield2plate).

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HUNTING

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otty training your pup begins the day you bring it home. Actually, it starts before you bring it home. Being prepared to successfully potty train a pup starts with having strategically placed kennels and pens near doors, for quick access. It also starts by having one door with a direct connection to the outside where the dog will learn to go when it needs to potty. I like having two kennels in the house for a new pup. One is placed near the door where the pup will exit to go potty. The other is placed on a table or bench near my bed, where the new pup sleeps at night. I want the bedtime kennel at eye level, so the pup feels comfortable and where I can keep an eye on it throughout the night. This is not only a good way to monitor when the pup needs to go potty, but also to establish sleep patterns as it grows, and foster bonding. A seven- or eight-week-old puppy plays hard, then crashes. Before it falls asleep, take it potty. When the pup is sleeping, never wake it up to go potty. But when it awakens, get it out the door as soon as possible. Decide on a potty command that everyone in the family will use. You want your dog to learn how to urinate on command. “Go potty” is our command, and all three of our dogs respond to it. For the first week or two, it’s a good idea to physically carry the puppy outside, placing it where you want it to potty. Once it establishes a place to potty, it will keep going to that same spot. After a couple weeks, when the

As your pup grows, lead it to where you eventually want it to potty as an adult. This will prevent dead grass and foul odors from lingering near the house. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

pup awakens from a nap, take it out of the daytime kennel or pen, positioned by the door, and let it walk outside to potty, on its own. This will help it learn that when it has to potty, to go to the door and walk to the established site. Reward it with praise and petting. At this young age, physical contact is a big part of developing a bond between you and your dog, and positive reinforcement is the key to quick potty training.

DURING THE DAY, I like placing a pup in a pen, in my office. This gets it used to sleeping in a different place, allows me to keep an eye on it, develops bonding, and when it wakes up, I can immediately get it outside to potty. When the puppy is awake, take it outside to potty every 20 to 40 minutes. Male pups have to potty more frequently than females, so every

20 minutes is not an overkill with a young pup. Calling them to the door, in the middle of play time, is a good way teach them to go to the door when they have to potty, and is also the start of teaching them the command to come. At night, for the first week or so, when the pup is sleeping in the bedside kennel, take it out as soon as it begins to stir, every two to three hours. This will teach it that it’s not OK to potty in the kennel, and also develops the trust that you can be counted on. I’ve had female pups be fully potty trained at three and a half months of age, while males can take up to five months. After a few weeks of going potty out the same door of the house, start changing things up. Begin taking it out different doors and having it potty in different places, even on different surfaces.

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HUNTING You don’t want a dog that always has to potty on grass and only grass. Having a pup that will potty on gravel, sawdust, river rock, dirt, even on pavement, ensures that as it matures it will potty on command, wherever you are. In order to prevent accidents, after about a month of age, don’t give the pup water two to three hours before bedtime. As a growing pup they need water, just limit it at night time.

ONCE PUP’S COMFORTABLE with going potty as soon as it gets outside, start carrying it to where you’ll eventually want it to relieve itself as an adult, usually further from the house. This will prevent the pup from doing its business next to a sidewalk and killing the grass. It’s nothing for a dog to go 50 yards or more before going potty, but you have to teach them that, early. As they mature, and you teach them verbal and hand signals, you’ll be able to direct them to exactly where you want them

Praising your pup with positive reinforcement can expedite the potty training process. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

to potty, at whatever distance. Before you bring that pup home, have a potty training plan in place. Be patient and positive, and don’t scold a pup for any accidents it has in the house for the first month or so. If you catch it in the act, sternly say “no,” pick it up and carry it outside to finish its business. Accidents

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will happen, and positive reinforcement will see better, quicker results than negative ones that will stress a pup and inflict uncertainty. CS Editor’s note: To see some of Scott Haugen’s dog training video tips, check out talltimberpudelpointers.com, and follow facebook.com/pudelpointers/.


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Our area offers some of the very finest Halibut and Ling Cod fishing on the whole BC Coast, including Alaska. We are offering a special early season COMBO Halibut and Ling Cod package for the 2017 season. The dates we have selected for our 2017 Halibut Express are from May 1st to May 5th, May 5th to May 9th, May 9th to May 13th, May 13th to May 17th, May 17th to May 21st, May 21st to May 25th, May 25th to May 29th, May 29th to June 2nd, June 2nd to June 6th, June 6th to June 10th, June 10th to June 14th, June 14th to June 18th and June 18th to June 22nd 2017.This will be a 4 night/5 day package and will include up to 40 hours of guided fishing, all meals and 4 nights accommodations. An added bonus will be that the VACUUM PACKING and FLASH FREEZING of your fish are included in this pricing. This is a heck of a good deal and this package would make a wonderful gift for the fisherman in your family. We will also have our fly-in service available from Seattle, Wash., or Vancouver, BC for these dates. You will also have the opportunity to target the early runs of CHINOOK and COHO that will be coming through our waters at the time of the season. The pricing for this exciting package is as follows: Party of 2 fishing, 2 per boat…$1875.00 PP + 5% tax. Party of 3 fishing, 3 per boat…$1675.00 PP + 5% tax. Party of 4 fishing, 4 per boat…$1475 PP + 5% tax. To make your reservations or for more information please give us a call at 1-800-429-5288 or send an email to: rodgersfishinglodge@yahoo.com Best regards, Doug Rodgers PS: With Halibut selling for upwards of $25.00 per pound in your local fish department, you will easily be able to pay for your trip. You are allowed 2 halibut in possession with a combined weight of 100 pounds, 6 Ling Cod in possession and 8 salmon in possession. Last season we were catching Ling Cod up to 50 pounds. Come and fill your freezers!

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