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FISHING • HUNTING • TRAVEL CALSPORTSMANMAG.COM

DADS & DAUGHTERS

DISCOVERY CHANNEL’S

DEADLIEST

CATCH

How To Get Your Girls Hooked On Fishing (And Hunting!)

Crabbing Captain Keith Colburn’s Tahoe Roots

Family Fun At Lake Oroville

CHAMPION SHOOTER

GREAT GETAWAYS!

VERA KOO

70-Year-Old San Fran Woman’s Story

Southern Oregon, Tomales Bay, Lone Pine

ALSO INSIDE

NorCal Smallies

SoCal Largies

Catfish Rigging

Dazzling Dorado

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Sportsman

California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 9 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EXECUTIVE EDITOR Andy Walgamott EDITOR Chris Cocoles CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Brittany Boddington LEAD WRITER Tim E. Hovey CONTRIBUTORS Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, Todd Kline, Vera Koo, Steve Rennalls, Troy Rodakowski, Bill Schaefer, Lisa Selner, Mike Stevens, Dave Workman SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Rick D’Alessandro, Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

Kelly Baker DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Aumann INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@calsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE Email ccocoles@media-inc.com Twitter @CalSportsMan Facebook.com/californiasportsmanmagazine ON THE COVER Father’s Day this month has special meaning for Tim Hovey and his older daughter Alyssa, who is graduating from high school in June and whose angling skills caught up to her dad’s with this farm pond largemouth. “The student had become the teacher,” proud pa Tim writes this issue (TIM E. HOVEY) MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP CALIFORNIA OFFICE 4517 District Blvd. • Bakersfield, CA 93313 (661) 381-7533 WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com

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CONTENTS

VOLUME 10 • ISSUE 9 (TIM E. HOVEY)

FEATURES 19

FROM TAHOE SKI BUM TO CRABBER TO TV STAR Discovery Channel’s hit series Deadliest Catch continues to mesmerize audiences with its chronicling of Alaska’s dangerous commercial crab fishing industry. The boats’ skippers have become celebrities in their own right, and one of them, the F/V Wizard’s Keith Colburn, grew up in Lake Tahoe, where he was a passionate skier who longed for a career as a fisherman in the state known as the Last Frontier.

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SMALLMOUTH BASS MAKE FOR BIG FISHING FUN Our Field to Fire columnists Scott and Tiffany Haugen are surrounded by some spectacular salmon runs, but they have learned to appreciate bass fishing, specifically smallmouth that are lurking in several waters in the northern half of the state. Check out some of Scott’s favorite methods for getting into these feisty fish, and get your cooking fix from Tiffany’s recipe for spicy bass cakes.

65

A SHOOTING STAR Vera Koo, an immigrant from Hong Kong who settled in San Francisco, casually got into the shooting sports as a middle-aged woman. Now 70, Koo is both a national champion and worldclass competitive shooter with several trophies to her name. Check out an excerpt from her new book, The Most Unlikely Champion, along with our chat with this strong role model.

113

CURE FOR BASSIN’S POSTSPAWN HANGOVER The party’s over for bass anglers. Now that largemouth have left their easy-tofind nests in the shallows, it’s a bit more of a difficult prospect to catch summer fish. But veteran bass doctor Bill Schaefer will fill your prescription and just maybe your livewell during this challenging portion of the calendar.

105

BECOME A DORADO AFFICIONADO

For anglers who hit the open water of the Pacific in Southern California all the way to Baja, one of their favorite species to target is the dorado, which grow to enormous sizes, fight like boxers and provide epic meals on the dinner table. Our lead writer Tim Hovey has become smitten with fishing for dorado and shares some of his best ways to land these colorful saltwater icons, like this one caught by his wife Cheryl.

DEPARTMENTS

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

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57 75

33 39 41 43 91 150

The Editor’s Note: A promise fulfilled for a father Protecting Wild California: Battling invasive nutria in the Central Valley Outdoor Calendar Adventures of Todd Kline: Clear Lake bass tournament recap Browning, Yo-Zuri photo contest winners Rig of the Month: Catfish set-up The Last Laugh: A Tim “Spike” Davis cartoon

79 93 121 127 135 143

Southern Oregon’s lake fishing ops Fishing, clamming at Tomales Bay camping area Lake Oroville landlocked kings Dad, daughters share love of fishing Lone Pine a great Eastern Sierra trout trip stopover Salmon mooching reels Fetch training for your hunting dog Rifle repairs and shotgun servicing

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

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THEEDITOR’SNOTE

2M Hunting provides guided hunts on exclusive private ranches on the Central Coast of California and offers world-class tule elk, blacktail deer, Rio Grande turkey, wild pig and trophy boar hunting.

Alyssa (left), Jessica and California Sportsman lead contributor Tim Hovey have bonded as a family during their fishing and hunting adventures across the Golden State and other parts of the Western U.S. (TIM E. HOVEY)

I

have had kind of a running joke with our lead writer Tim Hovey ever since we put one of his two daughters, Jessica, on one of our previous covers (California Sportsman, April 2015). I promised we’d try to get his older daughter, Alyssa, on one as well. It hasn’t been easy, as picking the right cover image can be as difficult as trying to get a trout to bite when fishing is slow. In some ways, I feel like I’ve also watched Tim’s daughters grow up since he started writing for us about five years ago. Many of the stories he contributes to this magazine celebrate the kinship that he and his kids have for the outdoors. Hovey takes great pride in the fact that both Jessica and Alyssa, now teenagers, are as passionate about fishing and hunting as their dad is. And he’s taken us along for the ride when he and the girls have hunted doves, turkeys and predators, fished for trout in the Eastern Sierra, hit Southern California’s beaches for surf perch and other tasty fare, reeled in monster summer catfish, and gone on road trips to Wyoming to fill their deer tags. With Father’s Day this month and some great late spring/early summer fishing opportunities beckoning, like my Lake Oroville landlocked king salmon experience (page 79), June is a good time to get your own kids outside. One of the photos Hovey submitted for his story this month on getting his kids excited about fishing at a young age (page xx) was a recent shot of he and Alyssa holding bass. She’ll be graduating from high school soon and then heading for college. “Alyssa loves that photo, for obvious reasons,” Hovey told me when I mentioned it was a possible cover shot. “A cover of that one would be a great graduation gift. My fingers are crossed.” Promise fulfilled. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. -Chris Cocoles

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MIXED BAG

SKI SLOPES AND CRAB BOATS DEADLIEST CATCH CAPTAIN KEITH COLBURN’S LAKE TAHOE ROOTS

Keith Colburn was once a ski bum and promising chef in the Lake Tahoe area, but he developed a love for the sea. He and his crabbing boat, F/V Wizard, are featured on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

By Chris Cocoles

H

e’s made a career for himself in Alaska, but for crabbing boat skipper and TV personality Keith Colburn, home will always be on the ski slopes and waters of Lake Tahoe. But a friend and he wanted something different in their lives. Colburn discovered a love of cooking and was working his way through the kitchen and probably could have become a successful chef. Yet he was off to pursue a career as a commercial fisherman, which he continues to do as the owner and skipper of the Wizard, one of the fishing vessels featured on the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch. Still, Colburn is proud of his less humble roots as a ski-loving adventure addict in the Sierra. It was a fun place to grow up with endless outdoor opportu-

nities in his backyard. “Growing up in Northern California in the mountains there, you know how beautiful it is. It’s hard to compare it to everything, but if you’re in Alaska, you’re seeing some incredible scenery up there,” he says. “That’s one of the greatest things about Alaska. So for me, coming from Tahoe I was already spoiled having grown up in an incredible environment and a beautiful mountainous environment with a big lake.” The outdoor lifestyle would ultimately define who Colburn is today.

THE EXTENDED COLBURN FAMILY traces its roots to Amador County, northeast of Sacramento in the Sierra foothills. Keith Colburn recently attended a family reunion in Northern California and learned a little more about his ancestors’ backstory.

“There’s a small set of towns – Sutter Creek, Jackson, Middletown and a little town called Plymouth – along Highway 49, and that’s where my grandparents are from,” he says. “And a lot of family like cousins and second cousins that still live down there.” But Tahoe – the family lived on the North Shore – was Keith’s childhood home. His parents had casino careers, but their son had different future plans. “I knew at an early age that I would not be in the casino industry,” says Colburn, now 55. “And I spent more time in the game room waiting for my dad to go on break to bum a quarter off of him – or a dime back then – to play pinball. And I just didn’t want anything to do with the casinos.” Lake Tahoe is a pretty epic place for an outdoors-loving youngster to grow up. A 3½-hour drive from San

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MIXED BAG Francisco, one of the country’s largest natural freshwater lakes and North America’s largest alpine lake, Tahoe is a 365-day playground. For locals, it’s summer boating, swimming and fishing, and winter sports galore once snowstorms dust the Sierra. There is a little bit of everything at your fingertips. “I had a habit of being on the water, no matter what it was – inner tube, a rowboat or a little sailboat or Hobie Cat, whatever we could get our hands on,” Colburn says. “We’d go water skiing or we’d just play on the water. We’d spend our summers down at or in the lake. So I’ve always been attracted to water.” And once the big lake got too cold to enjoy, the surrounding mountains were the main attraction. Every kid who’s grown up in Tahoe City, Incline Village or South Lake Tahoe looks forward to the annual Ski Skate Week, when the local resorts offer discounted lift tickets for grade and middle school students. That week was usually the only time of the year Colburn hit the slopes, so he was a little late to the ski bum party compared to some of his friends. (One of them, Bobby Ormsby, participated in the giant slalom in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.) But Colburn eventually found his ski legs long before his sea legs by the time he was in high school. “We’d go out there and ski and we didn’t have the proper clothing. By the end of the day every time we’d have to go back, you couldn’t drag us off the mountain until we were pretty much frostbit,” he says. “And once I started working in high school and could save some money and afford to buy my own equipment and pick up a season pass, by then I was playing catch-up with most of my buddies, who were super advanced and what you see now in extreme-type skiers. So for the next seven years or so I was skiing anywhere from 50 to 100 times a year.” Colburn’s crew was fearless, heading into the backcountry to indulge in some of the most rugged country you can tackle west of the Rockies. “There’s a handful of huts in the

Growing up around Lake Tahoe, Colburn was always attracted to the water and snow. These days, when he’s not fighting heavy seas and his fellow captains in search of Alaska’s prized crabs, he spends his free time sportfishing in Alaska and skiing in the Sierra with his best friend Kurt Frankenberg, whom he headed to Alaska with in 1985 with almost nothing in their pockets. (KEITH COLBURN)

Tahoe Basin that you can ski into and stay in that people aren’t even aware of. A couple of them are still maintained by the Sierra Club. There’s one that I know most people don’t know about. I don’t know that it’s maintained, but it’s still there,” he says. “Those were some really good times with my buddies going to the backcountry and staying in huts, and then climbing up and powder skiing in areas basically that nobody else can get to.” Mostly, though, Colburn spent a lot of time at various ski resorts that dot the mountains around the lake. He flashed lift tickets everywhere from Kirkwood to Heavenly to Boreal Ridge to Squaw Valley, but he had a personal affinity for Alpine Meadows, just west of Tahoe City. The irony of his story is this: Considering what he’s doing now on fishing

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vessels, Colburn wasn’t the biggest fisherman despite the accessible opportunities in and around Lake Tahoe. Sure, he’d reel in some of the big lake’s resident rainbows or Mackinaw, but it was hardly an obsession. “Back then in terms of fishing, I didn’t really have the patience to sit there and stare at a line and not catch stuff.” But it wouldn’t be long before patience ran thin and the idea of fishing for a living was a real possibility.

COLBURN AND HIS BEST friend Kurt Frankenberg fled their beloved ski slopes and watersports paradise in their early 20s – a little restless, a little impatient and maybe even a little dumb. At that time, he spent most of his days doing two things: skiing and cooking. He worked at a French and seafood restaurant named Captain


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MIXED BAG Jon’s in Tahoe Vista and made his way through the ranks of the kitchen, from scrubbing dirty dishes to an assistant’s chef position. The money was OK, and the camaraderie between Colburn and the rest of the staff meant fun times on their one day off a week. And the skiing, of course, in one of the West’s best locations for that sport, was fantastic. But it wasn’t enough to keep him there. “The lifestyle was pretty demanding. I would spend eight to 10 hours a day in the kitchen and four or five hours in the morning skiing and not getting a whole lot of sleep,” he says. But a turning point happened a few years earlier, when a restaurant coworker named Santo had had a proposition. He needed to get a Hans Christian sailboat moored in Petaluma down the coast to San Diego and wanted a passenger to go along. Why not? The fearless 18-year-old was up for any adventure. Colburn was

Colburn eventually bought the Wizard from one of his mentors, John Jorgensen. Colburn’s come a long ways from his early days in Alaska, when he helped clean up a mothballed 135-foot crabber/tender, the Alaska Trader, for room and board. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

hardly a sailor, and by the time they sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco Bay and hit the open water of the Pacific, he wasn’t sure if Santo knew what he was doing either. “It went from flat water to 10-foot seas. That’s when I got my first instance with seasickness. We’re on a 36-foot boat with 25-foot seas sailing down the

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coast. It was a pretty scary situation,” Colburn says. “But at 18 years old when the captain is sort of a big bulletproof guy – I didn’t know what kind of mariner Santo was, I didn’t know anything about sailing, but he seemed calm enough and faithful enough that I never really became afraid when I was out there. I was crazy.”


DESTINATION ALASKA

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MIXED BAG The weather was violent enough that they had to hand-steer rather than use the autopilot. They were essentially surfing downwind with 20- to 25-foot waves crashing over the deck. “Every two minutes I’m waist- or chest-deep in water, trapped to the helm, trying to follow a little red globe as a compass and keeping the boat on course,” Colburn says. “It was nuts, but I fell in love. And a few years later, I was getting a little burned out on cooking.” Cue Colburn convincing his BFF Frankenberg to find their sea legs on a fishing vessel far from home, on far more stormy seas. “I had an older friend who a couple years earlier had gone to Alaska and had come home with a pocket full of money and he’d said there were lots of opportunities for young guys who wanted to try and fish,” he says. “And so I made the decision to, instead of committing myself to wanting to be a chef, I would be willing to try something dif-

Colburn, now 55 with over 30 years of Alaska fishing under his belt, in action on the bridge of the Wizard. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

ferent. And so, kind of on a whim, we decided to go to Alaska.” What could possibly go wrong?

LONG BEFORE THE INTERNET was a useful tool, Colburn’s Alaska research was done from a landline. He called the chambers of commerce at various port towns. He and Frankenberg concluded

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that remote Kodiak Island had enough fishing seasons to give them a decent chance to find work. In their possession the guys had literally $50 and a tent to sleep in. Never mind a return ticket to the Lower 48. “We were completely committed,” Colburn says. And they questioned that commit-


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MIXED BAG ment immediately. Colburn remembered the exact date: March 7. “We get off the plane, and back then in 1985, the airport at Kodiak was like two Quonset huts put together. But they had this big statue when you go through the terminal and walk out of the other side of this big Kodiak brown bear that was kind of standing up,” he says. “It’s your introduction to Kodiak. And we just looked at each other and said, ‘Oh man; we’re screwed.’” It wasn’t the only time Colburn and Frankenberg shared a blank stare and an uh-oh moment. With a dusting of snow coming down, they hitchhiked from the airport to get down to the harbor. Upon entering the harbormaster’s office, they asked to leave their packs with him and look around for a while. When the harbormaster inquired about their presence on that blustery late-winter day, the guys said they were looking for jobs. Here’s how the exchange went:

“What kind of work you looking for?” “Well, we want to fish.” “Well, I’ve got some bad news for you guys.” “What’s the bad news?” “You guys are about a month early. The herring fleet isn’t even going to start gearing up for about three weeks. Crab (season) is just winding down and those guys are still out there fishing and they’re nowhere near here. And the rest of the fleet is going to be tied up for at least another month.” It was Colburn’s no room-at-the-inn introduction to Alaska. “And now, for the second time, we look at each other and say, ‘No, we’re not screwed. We’re totally screwed.’ So there was a lot of, ‘What the hell did we get ourselves into?’” A few days later, some hope arrived in the form of the F/V Alaska Trader, a 135-foot crabber/tender that had been mothballed around Bristol Bay. It pulled into Kodiak looking haggard and beaten up, but had an owner who aspired

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to get it back out on the water again to fish. Enter an opportunity for two eager, if not desperate, greenhorns looking for any opportunity they could find. It was the first step in a new job as a fisherman for Colburn. “And what they needed was two really stupid kids to do the worst jobs you can ever imagine on the planet. It was for room and board,” he says. “There was no pay. But you know what? Those staterooms on the Alaska Trader were a helluva lot nicer than the tent we were staying in.”

WHEN HE LEFT HIS skis for the sea in the 1980s, aspiring chef Keith Colburn was pulling in about $24,000 a year in the kitchen of that Tahoe City restaurant. That first year in Kodiak, when he and Frankenberg were doing the grunt work to restore the Alaska Trader and eventually fish on the vessel, they didn’t gross half that. But he says that’s a story no different than the other dreamers who flock to


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MIXED BAG Alaska to hitch a ride on a boat and try to make a life out of it. “So the question wasn’t, ‘Why did you go to Alaska?’ The question was, ‘Why did you go back?’” Colburn says. “But the very first time we set sail out of Kodiak going to Togiak for the herring in early April, we were on watch. It was a beautiful night and we’re going through the islands, and I’m over on the port side of the wheelhouse and the captain comes over and goes, ‘Yeah; you’re hooked.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You’ve got the look.’ I was literally hooked immediately and just fell in love with being on the water.” By 1988, he became a full-time deckhand on the Wizard, and within a few years he elevated himself from working down below in the engine room to being on deck as a deck boss, to then a mate and a relief captain. Finally, in 2005 he purchased the boat from one of his mentors, John Jorgensen. “All of a sudden John handed me the keys and said, ‘You know what? You’re the captain now.’ And it’s gone from there.” He’s made not just a career out of crab fishing the dangerous, and yes, deadly waters they work on – in this season’s premiere, all of the vessels paid tribute to the crew of the F/V Destination, lost in 2017 when the boat sank in the Bering Sea. But there’s also the fame that’s come with being a fellow skipper on Discovery’s most successful series. That said, Colburn also is grateful that Deadliest Catch has given his industry a collective face. Yes, viewers only see what the cameras shoot and producers decide to air. But as this unlikely megahit began its 14th season last month, it’s important to note the impact the show’s had on all of those who aren’t household names in the commercial fishing cosmos. Colburn has testified in Congress multiple times, making pleas when pending government shutdowns have threatened to delay the opening of king crab season in Alaskan waters. “It wasn’t like they slammed the door in our face in Washington D.C., but we were the little guys and kind

“You watch Deadliest Catch and you see guys risking their lives to catch crab; you get a better understanding of why it’s expensive. (Crab are) incredibly dangerous to catch,” says Colburn, front with Wizard crewmembers. “Going back to the first industries that were ever in America – fishing and whaling – long before we became a country and started farming in America, there were fishermen.” (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

of an afterthought. But all of a sudden, along comes TV and the doors are opening wider and wider all the time,” Colburn says. “It’s helped not only myself but all fisheries, and I think the awareness about the risk of fishing, the rewards of fishing and the value of the product that we bring in, the biggest thing is that it’s helped fishermen all around the United States. You watch Deadliest Catch and you see guys risking their lives to catch crab; you get a better understanding of why it’s expensive. (Crab are) incredibly dangerous to catch.” “Going back to the first industries that were ever in America – fishing and whaling – long before we became a country and started farming in America, there were fishermen. So for us keeping that way of life alive throughout the United States, I think that would be the biggest reward that I can say has come from the show.” His celebrity status offers plenty of perks – it’s true: crab captains can be TV stars. Spy on Colburn’s social media pages and you’ll find him visiting Venice and attending sporting events like

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thoroughbred races, Seattle Seahawks games – sharing snaps of he and quarterback Russell Wilson, though Colburn admits his true loyalties are to the San Francisco 49ers – and college basketball’s NCAA Tournament. Tahoe will always be home, and even now in middle age, Colburn returns to the mountains to ski with friends and family. But the choice to give Alaska a go and sticking with it despite his inauspicious introduction to the state known as the Last Frontier. “Overall, it’s been a wonderful, great ride. I’ve experienced new things; I’ve met some amazing people,” he says. “I’ve been able to do things I would have never done (and) the doors that have been opened from the exposure of being on TV.” CS Editor’s note: New episodes of Deadliest Catch can be seen on Tuesday nights on the Discovery Channel at 10 Pacific (check your local listings). Follow Capt. Keith Colburn on Twitter (@crabwizard) and Instagram (@captainkeithcolburn) and like at facebook. com/CaptainKeithColburn.


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PROTECTING

CALIFORNIA

WILD CALIFORNIA

Says No Thanks to Invasive Nutria By Lisa Selner

T

hose who enjoy hunting and fishing, hiking and kayaking, or participating in other outdoor recreational activities in California know the beauty and wonder of the rolling hills, lakes and wetlands that are abundant in this state. But a little-known mammal is eating its way through the wetlands and freshwater habitats in some areas of the state. With a little help, this invasive species can be stopped in its tracks!

SOUTH AMERICAN TRANSPLANT Native to South America, nutria are invasive mammals that have flourished throughout many parts of the country. Originally introduced to the United States for the fur trade in the 1800s, when the fur trade collapsed in the 1940s thousands of nutria were released by ranchers who could no longer afford to feed and care for them. Nutria have since been found in 30 states. In the 1940s, nutria were discovered in California’s Central Valley and southern coast, but by the 1970s, the population had been eradicated. Nutria hadn’t been seen in California since then until just last year, when a reproducing population was discovered in the San Joaquin Valley. So far this year, nutria have been confirmed in wetlands, rivers, canals and other freshwater habitat in Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced, Fresno, San Joaquin and Mariposa Counties. Often confused with our native beavers and muskrats, nutria can be distinguished by their round, sparsely haired

Invasive nutria, a native South American rodent that’s similar to our muskrats and beavers, could wreak havoc in the mostly Central Valley counties they have been spotted in. (USDA WILDLIFE SERVICES)

tails and white whiskers. Designed for aquatic life, nutria have partially webbed hind feet. Their eyes, nostrils and ears are located high on their heads. The female’s teats are located high on her sides to allow her young to nurse in water. Nutria have large visible front teeth that are yellow to orange in color. An adult nutria is about a third of the size of an adult beaver and over five times the size of a muskrat. Muskrats have a thin, laterally flattened, nearly triangular tail, whereas beavers have a wide and flattened tail. Both muskrats and beavers also have dark whiskers. Though quite common in freshwater habitats, nutria can also inhabit brackish coastal water areas and are primarily nocturnal. Similar to other aquatic mammals, nutria often create runs, or paths in

Multiple agencies are collaborating to try and eradicate nutria from the state’s wildlife habitats. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is leading the way as the braintrust looks for the most effective trapping techniques to prevent further spread of these unwanted visitors. (USDA WILDLIFE SERVICES)

and out of the water or between aquatic sites. Nutria tracks have four visible front toes, and the webbing in their hind feet is visible. Tracks are often accompanied by narrow tail drags. Nutria have a high reproductive capability, and once introduced they can increase rapidly. Females are repro-

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PROTECTING

WILD CALIFORNIA ductive by six months of age and can breed year-round. They can produce up to three litters a year in warmer climates, but their reproductive success can be reduced by severe winter conditions. Offspring can disperse as far as 50 miles. Burrow entrances are usually below the waterline, but drops in water levels may reveal openings.

AN UNWANTED PEST In abundance, nutria are capable of large-scale destruction that can cause harm to wetland ecosystems, sensitive flora and fauna, and the native wildlife that depends on it, including muskrats and waterfowl. Nutria, using their beaver-sized incisors, feed on wetland vegetation that extends above the waterline and use their powerful forefeet to dig under the surface and feed directly on the root mat. This leaves the habitat pitted with holes and deep swim canals, which can

This nutria was captured in Merced County in June 2017. Nutria are capable of large-scale destruction that can cause harm to wetland ecosystems, sensitive flora and fauna, and the native wildlife that depends on it, including native muskrats and waterfowl. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE)

eventually lead to erosion. For instance, thousands of acres in an ecological reserve were destroyed by nutria along the Delmarva Peninsula, part of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In 1989, it was estimated that there were 35,000 nutria at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the starting point for the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project, which was initiated in 2002. By 2016, all known nutria popula-

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tions had been removed from over a quarter of a million acres along the Delmarva Peninsula and over 14,000 nutria were removed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. Since then, no nutria have been discovered. The burrowing habits of nutria can cause issues for man-made structures as well, with common issues such as the breaching of water-retention and flood-control levees and weakening of

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PROTECTING

WILD CALIFORNIA structural foundations. Agricultural irrigation systems are at risk from nutria burrowing and drinking water can be contaminated with parasites and diseases transmissible to humans, livestock and pets, like rabies, equine encephalomyelitis, paratyphoid, salmonellosis, pappilomatosis, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, richettsia, coccidiosis, and sarcoporidiosis. Nutria are opportunistic feeders, with an extremely varied diet that can fluctuate through the seasons. While bulrush grasses and cattails are favorites, they will consume crops, lawn grasses, and ornamentals adjacent to aquatic habitats. Signs of their presence typically include cut, emergent vegetation with only the base portions eaten and the stems left floating.

HOW TO STOP THEM The California Department of Fish and

As of mid-March, at least 31 nutria have been captured in California, with several additional animals confirmed presently across Merced, Stanislaus, Fresno, and Tuolumne Counties. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE)

Wildlife is leading the state’s effort to eradicate nutria, working closely with several federal and state agencies as well as county officials and private property owners. In late May, CDFW received a $600,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board to focus on the nutria project. CDFW has determined taking immediate action using the available science, technology and most effective

36 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

trapping methods to eradicate the nutria before their population becomes abundant and widespread is the most efficient and cost-effective way to handle this invasive species. The first stage is determining the full extent of the infestation. Assistance from local landowners and the public throughout the Central Valley, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and beyond is critical to successfully determining all population locations. This is where hunters and other outdoorsmen and -women play a critical role by reporting nutria sightings and potential signs of nutria to CDFW’s Invasive Species Program via email at invasives@wildlife.ca.gov, or by calling (866) 440-9530. You can also report online at wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Report. CS Editor’s note: Lisa Selner is a wildlife biologist with USDA APHIS California Wildlife Services. For more on Selner, including her books, go to buffaloannie.com.


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Modoc Outdoor Recreation & Tourism Interagency Group Presents: THE 7TH ANNUAL MODOC SPORTSMAN’S OUTDOOR EXPO & CHILDREN’S FAIR SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2018 ~ 9:30-4:30 PM SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018 ~ 11:00-3:00 PM VETERAN’S MEMORIAL PARK 500 S. MAIN ST. / HWY. 395 ALTURAS, CA

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OUTDOOR CALENDAR JUNE 1

Opening of ocean king salmon season in the Klamath Management Zone (Oregon-California border to Horse Mountain) 1-3 Hangman’s Cash Weekend, Convict Lake; convictlake.com 9-10 Whiskeytown Lake Team Kokanee Derby 16 Rush Creek Clean-up and BBQ, Silver Lake Resort; (760) 648-7525 16-17 Fred Hall Father’s Day Fishing Tournament, Mammoth Lakes Basin; (760) 934-3416 16-17 Modoc Sportsman’s Expo, Alturas Veterans Memorial Park; modocoutdoorrecreationandtourism.org 17 Opening of ocean king salmon season in Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas (from Horse Mountain to Point Arena and Point Arena to Pigeon Point, respectively) 22-24 Big Bear June Fishing Festival, Big Bear Lake; bigbearfishingassociation.org 23 Bridgeport Trout Tournament, Bridgeport Reservoir and East Walker River; bridgeportfishenhancement.com 30 California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Trout Fest, Hot Creek Hatchery; wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ hatcheries/hot-creek 30 Start of Mono Village Fourth of July Fishing Derby, Upper Twin Lakes; monovillage.com

JULY 1-31

How Big is Big Fishing Derby, West Walker River;

Bridgeport Reservoir hosts the Bridgeport Trout Tournament this PROTECTING month in the Eastern Sierra. The event also takes place on the East Walker River. (GENBAO ZHANG/WIKIMEDIA)

WILD CALIFORNIA

northernmonochamber.com 7 California free fishing day; wildlife.ca.gov 14-Aug. 5 Archery deer season in Zone A (South Unit 110 along Central Coast) 14 Lake Pardee Team Kokanee Derby; kokaneepower.org 14 Kiwanis Club Special Olympics Trout Derby, Wishon Lake; kiwanisdivisionfive.com/Special_Olympics.php 27-28 Bridgeport Fish Fest, Twin Lakes; twinlakeresort.com 28-Aug. 5 Mono Village Summer Fishing Derby, Upper Twin Lakes; monovillage.com 29 Kids’ Fishing Festival, Mammoth Lakes; (760) 937-2942 Note: For a complete list of bass fishing tournaments, go to dfg.ca.gov/ FishingContests/default.aspx

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I made the drive to Clear Lake in mid-May to fish the Costa FLW Series Western Division tournament. Fishing was challenging and I was 64th out of 127 anglers after day one with a 12-pound, 15-ounce five-fish bag. (FLW)

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

On the second day I changed the area and my technique to catch a couple good ones. I was fortunate and it paid off, as I climbed 43 spots to finish in 21st place with 29 pounds, 9 ounces and cash a good check. I am very happy to be ranked 11th now with one event to go. (FLW) The sun rises over bass anglers preparing to launch at Clear during the tournament. (TODD KLINE)

I had an awesome time doing a promotion this month for Electric Sunglasses at Melton International Tackle. The anglers were blown away by the quality of the product and the clarity on the polarized lenses. (TODD KLINE)

Here is a beautiful sunrise during practice on Clear Lake. Not a bad workday! (TODD KLINE) I was blessed with another busy and successful month of guide trips. Here are two brothers who both caught their personal bests while on a recent guide trip. (TODD KLINE)


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42 California Sportsman JANUARY 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


PHOTO CONTEST

WINNERS!

Bryan Galea of Magalia is the winner of our monthly Yo-Zuri Photo Contest! His pic of a Chetco River steelhead he caught in January scores him gear from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines!

Luke Del Nagro is our monthly Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of his son Diego and his northwest Washington blacktail, taken in the same hills that Luke hunted with his father. It wins him a Browning hat!

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

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NORCAL

FROM FIELD ...

Once water temperatures hit 60 degrees, topwater baits become very effective for smallmouth bass. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

SMALLMOUTH MAKE HUGE FUN TIPS FOR EVEN THE MOST CASUAL OF BASS ANGLERS

By Scott Haugen

A

dmittedly, I’m not much of a bass fishing guy. I love fishing for them and eating them, but I have a lot to learn. Recently, I had the honor of fishing with two well-known, full-time guides, Todd Harrington (fishinglivingwaters.com; 541-459-2276) and Jody Smith (jodysmithguideservice .com; 541-643-6258). Both are based in Oregon, but Harrington often travels to California and Mexico for busi-

ness and pleasure on bass waters. By day’s end, I’d catch my highest number of bass ever, fish multiple ways and come away with a heightened level of knowledge and respect for smallmouth fishing.

THE TOPWATER APPROACH “The most important thing to know is what the bass are doing this time of year. The postspawn smallmouth bite may start in April in their southerly range, but not get going until June, farther to the north, where water temperatures are cooler,”

Harrington says. “And not all smallmouth bass spawn at once. You might only get 75 percent of the bass spawning at one time, leaving the other 25 percent to spawn earlier or later, which makes patterning them difficult. Of all the species I guide for, smallmouth bass are the hardest to pattern and consistently catch.” When the bite turns on, Harrington notices some important factors. “When they start hitting, for a couple weeks or more, these fish will be in schools, hunting for baitfish,” he adds. “This usually co-

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NORCAL

... TO FIRE

HOW TO COOK A DELICIOUS BASS By Tiffany Haugen

B

ass – whether smallmouth, largemouth or stripers – are present in many of California’s waters. This recipe even works great with bluegill and crappie. Portion sizes can vary and may determine the type of meal that is created with your catch. If the fish are small or only a few are caught, try turning them into an appetizer everyone can share. If the bounty is bigger, this recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger patties or fish “burgers” that will serve as the main meal. Versatility is key as these can also be made with leftover cooked fish. To replace the moisture, add a small egg to the mixture. Experiment with different flavors as well; green onion can replace green beans or basil can replace cilantro. Just be sure to keep the fish/vegetable/herb ratios about the same and your personalized bass cakes will turn out wonderful every time!

½ pound skinless bass fillets ¼ cup chopped fresh green beans ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 2 teaspoons red or green curry paste 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 teaspoon minced ginger 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional) ½ teaspoon sugar ½ cup flour ½ cup panko Peanut or coconut oil for frying Pulse panfish fillets, beans and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped, or finely chop by hand and mix. In a large bowl, mix cilantro, lime juice, ginger, curry paste, cornstarch, fish sauce and sugar with fish mixture until well combined. Chill mixture at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator. In a shallow container, mix flour and panko. Shape fish mixture into desired serving sizes and coat both sides with

48 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

Bass can be caught in bunches throughout California, so you can create spicy bass cakes with your catch and curb everyone’s hunger. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

flour/panko mix. In a large skillet, heat a quarter inch of oil on medium-high heat. Fry one to two minutes per side or until lightly browned. Serve with a favorite Asian dipping sauce or peanut sauce. Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany’s popular book, Cooking Seafood, visit tiffanyhaugen. com. Follow Tiffany on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and watch for her on the online series Cook With Cabela’s, The Sporting Chef TVshow and The Hunt on Netflix.


incides with water temperatures warming up, which means the fish grow more aggressive. In the waters I fish, once the temperature hits 60 degrees it’s time to start getting excited about fishing them on the surface.” Harrington explains that crankbaits and jerkbaits work good during the downtime when bass aren’t so visible – immediately after the spawn – but once that water temperature hits 60 degrees, surface fishing is the way to go. For this, Harrington likes working torpedo-style baits like a Spook or walk-the-dog-type baits, and insists that Whopper Ploppers are great. The Whopper Plopper was my favorite approach on this day. Harrington says you can never go wrong throwing bone-colored plugs, but not to get too hung up on color. Harrington also emphasizes that if fish aren’t biting one presentation to switch to another, or at the very least try different retrieve rates. “If postspawn bass aren’t hitting spinner baits or other surface offerings, stickbaits are great to fall back on this time of year.”

COVERING THE WATER I’ve fished smallmouth with Smith

Swimbaits can also be very effective anywhere post-spawn smallmouth are found. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

multiple times, and he’s all about covering water. From late spring throughout the summer, he likes to cast, and cast long. “These postspawn bass are already spooky, and if the water is clear, it makes it even tougher to catch them,” Smith confirms. “They can see the boat from a long ways away, or if you’re wading the shoreline the fish can be very edgy. The more water you can cover without being seen, the better.”

Author Scott Haugen (left) and Jody Smith pulled out a double on postspawn smallmouth while guide Todd Harrington worked the oars. (SCOTT HAUGEN) 50 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPOTLIGHT Smith casts great distances and catches many fish soon after his plug hits the water. “When fishing topwater presentations, I tie my braided mainline directly to the plug,” Smith notes. “This keeps things lined-out better for casting long distances.” When he has clients who can’t cast very far, Smith will go with a fluorocarbon leader, especially if the water is crystal clear. “Sometimes you’re casting 150 feet out there, though, and you don’t want line stretch, so whenever I can, I go with straight braid when fishing on the surface,” he says.

FISHING LARGE SWIMBAITS We also fished swimbaits on this day. When a bass starts feeding after the postspawn shutdown, it’s often on baitfish. The key is knowing what bait is in the waters being fished and being on the water when they snap out of this shutdown phase and go back to feeding. Remember, bass are predators, so when they go back to feeding, they often target big baitfish instead of wasting time and energy chasing small bait. Phil Strader, a pro bass angler I’ve fished with a couple times, routinely uses swimbaits in the 5- to 7-inch size range. He reasons that the larger profile baits help target bigger fish. “Once they start to recover, these bass turn very aggressive and will attack big baits,” Strader says. As temperatures rise in the waters you fish, try targeting smallmouth in a variety of ways. Don’t be afraid to cast far and go big on the baits, for the action can be exciting once these voracious predators regain their appetite. CS

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PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPOTLIGHT


NORCAL

Oregon’s South Cascades lakes provide majestic scenery and outstanding fishing – just be sure to get there before all the boats are rented out if you’re not trailering your own up! (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

Oregon Cascades 6 Shine FISHING SEASON LOOKS GOOD AT DIAMOND, OTHER LAKES NOT FAR NORTH OF STATE LINE

By Troy Rodakowski

M

aybe not so much to the west, but California sportsmen have plenty of lake fishing options in almost any direction of the compass. From the Eastern Sierra and its mountain tarns to the Southland and its bassy impoundments to NorCal’s sprawling reservoirs, the options abound. But here we’re going to look a little further afield, across state lines, to spotlight some lakes in Oregon’s Southern Cascades. In the past, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has featured Lake of the Woods, Fish and Fourmile between Medford and Klamath Falls as the Highway 140 Summit Lakes. No more than about 10 miles apart, together the trio offer anglers the opportunity to catch sev-

en species of trout and salmon. Whether you check out those, famed Diamond Lake or others, making summer trips north of the border can make for great adventure and is breathtaking for wildlife viewers and anglers alike.

Make sure you book well in advance (lakeofthewoodsresort.com; 541949-8300), since this is a very popular getaway. From the resort heading north and south there are two campgrounds with good places for tents, trailers and RVs.

STOCKED WITH RAINBOWS AND home to

FISH LAKE LIVES UP to its name, as it is not only stocked with spring Chinook, rainbow trout and tiger trout (catch and release only) but also has naturally produced brook trout. The tigers have been released since 2011, but the first sizeable stocking of over 20,000 didn’t take place till last year. They’re fish on a mission too. “Unlike Diamond (Lake), we have not been able to destroy the tui chub with rotenone, despite repeated attempts. Fish are able to survive

brown trout and kokanee, the occasional naturally produced brook trout is also caught at Lake of the Woods. Most come for the stocked fish, but there are also some nice kokanee to be had here. The brookies are not huge but are quite the prize and can be caught many ways, from trolling to fly fishing. Accommodations: Lake of the Woods Resort features a laid-back waterfront getaway, two restaurants, bar, rustic cabins and a general store.

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NORCAL

Thanks to abundant forage, rainbows as well as browns, brookies, lakers and tiger trout grow fat and sassy at these mountain lakes. This one was hooked at one of the best of the lakes, Diamond. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

treatments by escaping the chemical in the numerous springs in the lake,” says state fisheries biologist Dan Van Dyke in Central Point, near Medford (541-826-8774). Tigers to 19 inches have been confirmed at Fish, but harvest is not allowed, so any of the highly vermiculated hybrids caught must be released unharmed. The salmon have reached 18 inches and just over 2 pounds. Additionally, ODFW is releasing thousands of legal-sized and larger rainbows through mid-July, with another stocking of 14- to 16-inch ’bows in September. Accommodations: Cabins, tent sites and plenty of RV spaces are available here. The High Lakes Trailhead provides excellent hiking opportunities for enthusiasts. Fish Lake Resort (fishlakeresort.net; 541-949-8500) has a nice hotel and is very kid friendly. There are also boat rentals, a store, game room and café.

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FOURMILE LAKE BOASTS STOCKED rainbows, along with naturally produced brook trout and kokanee. Lake trout are also present, and run about 20 inches, providing a real treat. Fishing at this lake underneath Mt. McLoughlin can be quite good after a stocking, and 8,000 legals and 2,600 trophies will be released between the start of summer and end of August. Fly fishermen tend to have good success. Accommodations: Along with campsites for trailers, tents and RVs, there are nearby trails that provide great hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. Nearby resorts have general stores, restaurants and additional lodging options.

DIAMOND LAKE IS ONE of the premier trout fisheries in the West and has recovered nicely from its 2006 rehab. I fished the 3,000-acre water due north of Crater Lake National Park last year and I’d honestly be surprised if you came away disappointed. Trollers are very successful here, whether using downriggers or flat-lining behind a boat, float tube, etc. Flyrodders find some very good fishing along the edges, particularly where creeks empty into the lake. Some of the best fishing is just a short hike from the lodge and cabins. Diamond’s fish stocking has fluctuated in recent years from a high of 346,000 fingerlings to a low of 166,000. The reductions were made to try and balance the lake’s fishery and ecosystem. Twenty thousand legals were set to arrive at the start of June. In 2017, anglers averaged almost three fish each. Tiger trout were also introduced in 2016 to eat any tui chub or other invasive species that turn up, though they still need to be released unharmed. Accommodations: Diamond Lake Resort (diamondlake.net; (541-7933333) will not disappoint. The restaurant is very good and the rooms and cabins are very fun. There are boat and kayak rentals. Additionally, there are nearby campgrounds, hiking trails, mountain biking opportunities


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PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPOTLIGHT and places to ride your ATV. good numbers of trout, along with plentiful smallmouth and largemouth. A nearly 2,000-acre impoundment, it offers some of southern Oregon’s best fishing, thanks to a combination of spring releases of 15,000 legal-sized rainbows, last fall’s stocking of 130,000 fingerlings for this year’s fishery and holdovers from previous years. Adult fish can range from 12 to 20 inches and will run 1.5 to 3 pounds – pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. Accommodations: Along with great fishing, the lake can boast scenic views, hiking, canoeing, skiing and more. There are several county campgrounds, plus Howard Prairie Lake Resort has a store, restaurant, laundry services and boat ramps and a marina. Call (541) 482-1979 or go to jacksoncountyor.org/parks for more.

HOWARD PRAIRIE LAKE HOSTS

AND FINALLY, MILLER LAKE's one of the best brown fisheries in Oregon, and anglers who flock to the Chemult-area water find beautiful, hard-fighting Teutonic trout. The lake also boasts stocked rainbows and nice kokanee, with many anglers finding great success on them. Along with 14,000 legal-sized ’bows being released this summer, 1,700 trophy fish are being stocked as well. Many of the trout are 20-plus inches and night fishing is allowed for anglers equipped to do so. Fly fishing is excellent at dusk and taking a drift boat out on the lake will provide some great success for anglers. Finding the right fly combo is, of course, the key. Accommodations: Miller Lake provides some excellent camping opportunities and day-use areas. Digit Point Campground is fantastic, with campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Located near the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness and Pacific Crest Trail, there are several trails too. For more info, try the Fremont-Winema National Forest (fs.usda.gov/fremont-winema; 541-947-2151). CS


PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPOTLIGHT


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BAY AREA

BARRIERS SMASHED A 70-YEAR-OLD WORLD-CLASS SHOOTER SHARES HER JOURNEY IN INSPIRING BOOK Editor’s note: How successful has Vera Koo’s career been in the shooting sports? Her accomplishments – including gold medals in various individual and team events both domestically and internationally – fills three pages in her memoir. Koo, now 70, immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong, settled in San Francisco and, as a mother of three, shot a gun for the first time at 40. She became a world-class shooter over the next three decades, an incredible and – as the title of her book illustrates – rare feat. The following is excerpted from The Most Unlikely Champion, published by Balboa Press (a division of Hay House) and reprinted with permission. By Vera Koo (With Justin Pahl)

F

rom the outside, some people might look at the 2012 World Championships as my last great achievement in sport shooting. After all, I hadn’t won the Bianchi Cup since 2008. And less than a year later, I’d break my leg while preparing for the 2013 Bianchi Cup. But to me, shooting has never been about wins or losses. It’s been

about the way the sport shapes you as a person – the way you have to be stronger, more disciplined, and more focused to shoot your best. It’s not about the people you’re shooting against. It’s about you – the things you’re bringing to the range, the disappointments and hopes, and your ability to set those aside. Shooting competitively is about facing challenges. Time and again, the sport has taught me how to get up after I fall.

She didn’t pick up a gun for the first time until she was 40, but Vera Koo would eventually become a national- and world-class shooter. Now 70, the San Francisco resident who came to the U.S. from her native Hong Kong has written a book about her extraordinary career. (VERA KOO)

So when I stepped onto the range in Columbia, Missouri, for the 2014 Bianchi Cup, I knew I wasn’t going to win my first title in six years. I knew I wasn’t going to be best newcomer. I wasn’t going to be leaving with any kind of prize. But then, most people don’t go to the range because they expect to win anything.

WE ALL HOPE TO enjoy the challenge

Koo’s trophy case has been steadily filling over time. Her achievements include eight national titles in the National Rifle Association’s Bianchi Cup and two World Action Pistol championships. (VERA KOO)

and the journey in self-discovery. Most of us that come back over and over are workaholics. We have that kind of rare total focus where we can walk off the range knowing that we shot the absolute best we could – and have that be enough. My presence at the Bianchi Cup was against all odds. I was 67, and I’d shattered my leg. I’d grown up a Chinese-American woman in a family and culture that valued the old, traditional ways of life. And yet, in May 2014, there I was, ready to shoot. I was there because I didn’t continued on page 70

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BAY AREA

Koo’s accomplishments include setting a national record for women’s score on the outdoor action pistol Crawford Barricade. (VERA KOO)

Q&A WITH VERA KOO As Vera Koo prepared for last month’s NRA Bianchi Cup in Missouri, we sat down with her to learn more about her ascension to a champion shooter:

Chris

Cocoles Congratulations on the book and for all of your success in your career. From the title of your book, how unlikely is your story as a world champion shooter? Vera Koo Picture a petite 5-foot, 4-inch 116-pound, middle-aged Asian immigrant who is a mother of three and has no previous action pistol experience, entering a shooting range by herself. It’s very unlikely that you would be able to imagine that this woman would someday become an international and national champion in one of the most prestigious shooting competitions, pitted against the best shooters in the world. I’ve competed on the biggest

stages, against the best marksmen, and I didn’t pick up a gun until the age of 40.

CC Tell me about where your passion for shooting originated from and how you stuck with it through some personally difficult times. VK My love for the shooting sport is derived from the challenges and the degree of difficulty that the Bianchi Cup poses. The sport pushes me to my personal limits, and it demands that I keep myself fit and healthy in both body and mind. I am a natural workaholic, so the immense workload that comes with the competitive sport seem to fit well into my personality traits. During personal crises in my life, I have found that the sport helped distract me from the emotional suffering of that time. The training and competition have become therapeutic for me.

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CC How hard did you have to work in terms of practice and preparing for the level you eventually reached? VK When I had finally taken the Bianchi Cup competitions seriously, I practiced 1,000 rounds a day for seven days straight, regardless of the weather conditions. With temperatures ranging from 27 degrees to 110 degrees, snow, rain or shine, I remained dedicated to my passion. There were times I practiced so long that I would have to soak my hands in ice water in the middle of the night to alleviate the swelling. Even when I traveled, I would remain focused and take any opportunities to get practice in. CC I think you’ve become a role model for women everywhere. Did someone have a similar effect on you? VK My mother was my role model. Although she did not go to college, she


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BAY AREA was incredibly intelligent and carried a spirited and optimistic outlook on life. She had a great capacity to cope with whatever came her way. My mother passed away in 2011. When I first started shooting in competitions, she advised me to stay home to take care of my husband and cook for him. So, while she had not encouraged me to further my shooting endeavors, she did not object to it after I had become very successful. Basically, I did not have much support from my immediate family and friends besides my husband until after I had won many national and international titles. I channel my mother’s spirit and mindset whenever I encounter difficulties in the sport, which always encourages me to never to give up.

CC I read a little bit about your affection for the term “shing ping” and it was inspiring. Can you share a little bit about what that means to you? VK The words “shing ping” were actually spoken by one of my friends who played a lot of golf. He was speaking to me in Chinese when I heard this phrase, and it is the perfect phrase to describe my psychological mindset on the range. Shing ping is a concept where the heart and mind are at peace in the world. When I’m shooting, I know I’ve reached shing ping when I have completely blocked out all the other competitors, spectators and distractions. I am solely focused on my performance during the match.

CC There’s so much controversy right now with guns, the Second Amendment and the rights of responsible firearm owners like you. Do you have an opinion on some of the misconceptions that are out there? VK The media has failed to address the fact to the public that the guns do not run around and hurt people. It is the people behind the guns that hurt others. We must address the current state of the mental health care system and breakdowns in family infrastructure. There are far too many single-parent households that need more family support. It is also crucial

“Even if you are not interested in the subject matter or if you feel that you are not ready, just fly by the seat of your pants and go,” she says. “You will be amazed by what you will and can learn.” (VERA KOO)

that we address where and how underaged people are getting their hands on guns and how we can prevent criminals and those who are not fit to operate a weapon from acquiring one.

CC You and your husband Carlos have experienced a lot of adventures around the world. What was one of your most memorable? VK The most memorable experience I had was spending five days with my husband and family in the Maldives, a

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republic occupying an archipelago of 1,087 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. It was a paradise in heaven – clear turquoise-blue water and manicured white sand beaches paired with ultimate luxury service and accommodations. But after three days, my husband said to me, “This is truly a paradise; everything is picture perfect and beautiful, but it gets kind of boring here.” My husband’s comments have made a lasting impression on me because I agreed with him. Living in absolute


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BAY AREA perfection without a care in the world and with no challenges or obstacles would become, as he said, boring.

CC It also looks like you do a lot of fishing in California. What are some of your outings like near home? VK I didn’t go onto my husband’s fishing trips. He usually went with his fishing buddies while I went to my shoots. The fishing trips near home were not as rewarding as some of his trips to Canada or Mexico. However, I will be going to Nootka Sound in British Columbia for salmon fishing during the peak season this July with my whole family, including my five granddaughters. In the Bay Area, my husband enjoys fishing the upper Sacramento River (striped bass and occasionally sturgeon), the Sacramento Delta (striped bass), Clear Lake (largemouth bass) and Lake Berryessa (bluegills and sunfish).

CC What advice would you give to young

women and girls who want to be involved in the shooting sports/hunting? VK I’ve always believed in learning and acquiring new skills. If you encounter someone who is willing to give their time to teach you something new, grab the opportunity! Even if you are not interested in the subject matter or if you feel that you are not ready, just fly by the seat of your pants and go. You will be amazed by what you will and can learn. Because ultimately all the skills that you have picked up in your lifetime will come together into one thing that is major for you. Everything that I have learned and experienced in my life has come together for me into one sport. For the girls who want to get involved in the shooting sports, the most important thing is to find a qualified firearm instructor to teach the fundamentals correctly. It was because I had learned to shoot very accurately before I embarked onto the path of competitive shooting that I could be successful in my endeavors.

You can climb the ladder better in the world of competitive shooting if you have the basics down. Otherwise, you may hit a wall that stops you in your tracks. Additionally, practice is absolutely a necessary requirement if one wants to become good at doing anything.

CC Is there something else in shooting or for that matter anything else that you want to accomplish? VK Beside promoting my book, The Most Unlikely Champion, I am looking to go take classes in computer graphic design. Since I was an art major in college, I would like to open a small business doing graphic design on brochures, ads and flyers at a discount rate to help small businesses that are just starting up. It will be a way to keep myself busy after I retired from my shooting sport, but that won’t be for quite some time! Right now, my mindset singularly set on the upcoming Bianchi Cup and World Action Pistol Competition that takes place in May. CS continued from page 65 want to miss an opportunity to participate in another Bianchi Cup. Because I wanted to test my strength and ability to persevere. I wanted to put into practice the words “never give up.” And I was also there because my mother had taught me what it is to live a life of kindness. Because my son, Bryan, had taught me how to get through unimaginable pain. Because (husband) Carlos has supported me, through thick and thin, and has always remained my partner. Above all, I was there because God has a plan for us. That plan isn’t always easy, but God is there every step of the way. And although we may not always see it, God is in every molecule of everything. If we’re listening to God’s plan, if we’re looking for His presence, anything is possible. I like to think the sport-shooting world has changed over my time in the sport – that more and

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“I hope I’ll serve as an example to women from all backgrounds: that they can look at my story and see shooting can be a great sport for women,” says Koo , here with husband Carlos. (VERA KOO)

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more women are involved in it. But I know it’s still a male-dominated world. But then, so many worlds are still male-dominated. I realize that, as one of the prominent female shooters in the sport – and a prominent Chinese-American woman – I’m a bit of a rarity from my generation. I hope I’ll serve as an example to women from all backgrounds: that they can look at my story and see shooting can be a great sport for women. Since most women don’t have much experience shooting, they tend to be blank slates. This means it’s easier to take instruction, especially in a sport like target shooting. I hope more women get into the sport, as it builds self-esteem and discipline. Even if you don’t shoot competitively, knowing gun safety and understanding how to shoot well are great skills to have. CS Editor’s note: Buy Vera Koo’s book at amazon.com/Most-Unlikely-Champion-Memoir/dp/1504388496. You can also check out her website (verakoo.com), like at facebook.com/officialverakoo and follow on Twitter and Instagram (@officialverakoo).


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CO. PROFILE

Lawson’s Landing is located at the mouth of Tomales Bay, famed for its clamming and fishing. (LAWSON’S LANDING)

LAWSON’S LANDING COMPANY NAME Lawson’s Landing WHERE Dillon Beach at Tomales Bay, (Marin County; north of San Francisco) WHAT THEY DO Fishing, clamming and camping resort CONTACT (707) 878-2443; lawsonslanding.com California Sportsman There is a lot of

CS Tell us about the fishing and

history with clamming at Tomales Bay and how Lawson’s Landing was founded. Can you share some of it? Co-owner Willy Vogel Clamming and fishing, along with the cool weather, have been the main attractions to visitors to Dillon Beach for well over a century. The rolling sand dunes prevented much from being built at Sand Point until after the dunes had been stabilized by European beach grass in the 1930s. Lawson’s Landing was started in 1957 to provide more access for more people to the lightly used resources of Tomales Bay.

clamming opportunities around Tomales Bay. WV For the shore-based angler, there’s pretty good surfperch fishing on the oceanfront beach, with a chance for an occasional striper in the surf. Sharks and rays make up most of the catch from the bay side. Our pier offers a good chance for red and Dungeness crabs and usually has a good school of shiner perch under it in the summer for the live bait fishermen and kids to catch. There are gaper clams to be had on the mainland mud flats, but the clamming is far better when boating to the tidal islands in the middle of the bay. Tomales Bay has good halibut fishing during the summer and fall in the mouth of the bay and near Hog Island. Just out the mouth of the bay there’s rockfish on the reefs and salmon close by from July through September.

CS What are some of the camping accommodations you offer? WV We currently have 280 dry campsites that are used for both RVs and tents and another 16 walk-in, tent-only sites. We are working on getting up to 20 cottages set up near the pier for folks who don’t want to “rough it.” We have sites that front the bay, as well as sites that back up to the sand dunes and are only a short walk to the oceanfront beach.

CC I know despite being so close to San Francisco, this area is a natural wonderland. What kind of scene can visitors can experience around Lawson’s Landing?

WV We have the Point Reyes National Seashore across the bay from us, where you can see the herds of tule elk on clear mornings. There are ospreys eating perch on the power poles and over a mile of beach to walk. We are also at the very western edge of West Marin, which is home to many artists and small farms where locally produced breads, cheeses, meats and even oysters are produced. CC On your website you emphasize how delicate an ecosystem the Tomales Dunes are where you’re located. Given your family’s history there, how important is it to keep these wetlands preserved? WV We have one of the very few privately owned coastal dune systems in California. There are plants and animals here that don’t live anywhere but in a habitat like this. Preserving the habitat so that future generations can share these things that have been in our family for five generations just made sense, so there’s now a conservation easement over 465 acres of dunes and wetlands here. CS

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LODGING CAPLES LAKE RESORT

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


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CENTRAL VALLEY

FAMILY-FRIENDLY

FISHING FUN LAKE OROVILLE LANDLOCKED KINGS MAKE FOR A GREAT SUMMER DESTINATION

By Chris Cocoles

OROVILLE—Traditionally around this time of the year, Yuba City-area guide Capt. Manuel Saldana Jr. takes a much-needed break from filling his boat with customers and fish. Striper season on the Sacramento and Feather Rivers usually doesn’t last too far into May (Saldana’s MSJ Guide Service Facebook page is full of happy anglers with linesides). And when the river Chinook runs are good, Saldana normally stays busy from late summer well into the fall. But he wants to pick up the pace in summer and try and get more clients out on the water, and why not given that many kids who are out of school and looking for entertainment might just enjoy this fishing thing? “Family fun and getting the kids out on the water,” Saldana told me as we traveled from his Yuba City

Guide Manuel Saldana Jr. shows off a nice Lake Oroville landlocked king salmon, caught trolling earlier this spring. Saldana is planning to host more guiding trips in Oroville and at other local lakes near his Yuba City home base this summer. (CHRIS COCOLES)

home up Highway 99 towards Lake Oroville, a prime location in these parts that Saldana wants to utilize more often as the dog days of summer approach. Oroville offers both landlocked

king salmon, our primary target on this May Saturday, and a usually productive black bass fishery. Throw in trout and warmwater species at Collins Lake, 25 miles northeast of Saldana’s Yuba City base, and Bullards

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CENTRAL VALLEY Bar, a little further up in the Sierra foothills, and that’s three solid lakes within a reasonable drive. So in some ways I was going to be Saldana’s guinea pig as we planned a leisurely half-day trip to Oroville. I wasn’t the little youngsters he hopes will convince their parents to book a summer trip, but I felt like a little boy again even before we reached the boat ramp.

ON OUR WAY TO Oroville – about 30 miles north of Yuba City – Saldana pointed out the woefully low Feather River. We’d fished the Feather for both stripers and kings in recent years, but with state officials deciding to not let any water out of Oroville Dam, the river has been all but unfishable for stripers this spring. The sun hadn’t come up on what promised to be a warm but mostly pleasant Central Valley day before summer’s expected barrage of tri-

If parents take their kids out to Oroville to fish, they might be greeted in the parking lot by a few deer. (CHRIS COCOLES)

ple-digit temperatures settle in. Saldana told me to keep on the lookout for deer as we left the city of Oroville and got closer to Bidwell Marina.

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Sure enough, as we slowly reached the parking lot leading to the ramp, we got a glimpse of about 10 does and yearling blacktails, oblivious to the cars both parked and moving past the herd. I told Saldana how excited the youngsters who might be fishing with him soon would be to check out the local wildlife. We passed the local fauna and got the boat into the water. Oroville has been stocked with salmon dating back to long before I fished the lake with now retired guide Rick Kennedy back in 2012. We’d caught a stringer full of landlocked coho that day, and Penny Booth-Crawshaw, manager of the nearby Feather River Hatchery, said coho were stocked at Oroville from 2002 to 2012. Coho, unlike kings, aren’t usually spotted in the Sacramento and Feather River systems, so it makes sense that the Feather River Hatchery only stocks native Chinook in Lake Oroville these days (Booth-Crawshaw says the hatchery gets an allotment of 125,000 Chinook annually). So there are a lot of salmon in the massive lake, but Saldana told me that the fish are congregated in a mostly smallish area – not far


CENTRAL VALLEY

The lake’s kings are usually found in the deep water around the Bidwell Bar Bridge, part of Highway 162 that traverses the lake between Yuba City/Marysville and Chico. (CHRIS COCOLES)

from where we launched at Bidwell. We’d get a lot of cooperation from those fish.

WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT FISHING in a large body of water like Oroville is you can have stretches of water mostly to yourself. When we hit the launch ramp around 6:15 a.m. or so, the parking area was full of empty trailers. But over the course of about five good hours on the water we rarely encountered other boats fishing close by. We saw a couple of frolicking water skiers towed behind power boats – they’ll be much more ubiquitous as summer approaches – and we did troll past a couple of fellow salmon crafts, but presumably the bass anglers were scattered into other arms of the lake. We kept our trolling range to either side of the Bidwell Bar Bridge, which is part of State Route 162 (Oroville-Quincy Highway) and when the current version was originally

constructed in 1965, it was 627 feet high and considered one of the tallest suspension bridges in the country. We put out three rods – like a dummy I haven’t purchased a tworod stamp – and used downriggers for two and leadcore line for a rig between the two downriggers. It as a pretty simple set-up: a Brad’s Mini Wobbler in California watermelon color on the leadcore rod. Saldana ran 60 feet of Yo-Zuri 12-pound fluorocarbon mainline and then added a 12-inch leader to a Wiggle Hoochie white squid skirt tipped with an anchovy. On the two downrigger rods he ran a 6-inch Mack’s Sling Blade in either white or green color, including a 12-inch leader with green or white Wiggle Hoochies, also tipped with anchovy. Trolling from 1.3 to 1.8 mph at depths ranging from 25 to 50 feet meant we were good to go. Our lines weren’t wet for long when the leadcore line rod flickered.

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I reeled quickly and calmly – “Keep the rod tip down,” Saldana reminded me – as the fish put up quite a frisky fight, though he didn’t look big. He came excruciatingly close to the boat and Saldana’s waiting net before wiggling away. But it was the first of many bites we’d get. We’d land some, we’d lose some. Our first salmon to reach the boat would prove to be the big fish of the day – it measured a shade under 18 inches and again hit our anchovy-tipped rig on the leadcore line. But throughout the course of that sunny morning all three of our rods got in on the action. Saldana even yanked in a little largemouth that we returned to the water to hopefully grow into one of Oroville’s famed bass – the lake will host several tournaments over the next few months. So we stayed relatively busy most of the day as the temperatures climbed higher and Saldana’s advice to bring a straw hat in addition to my


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CENTRAL VALLEY ball cap and sunscreen – thank you to my niece for digging such a hat out of her parents’ bedroom – kept any sunburn to a minimum. But what I enjoyed best about this venue was its pastoral nature. We simply cruised the lake and had plenty of time for small talk and some deeper conversations. It was just a good day to be outside and catching fish, which was the point of Saldana’s new venture outside of stripers and river kings. I was turning out to be a good guinea pig after all.

AS TIME WAS RUNNING out on our day – I wanted to get back to the Bay Area in time to have dinner with my dad – we were still getting bit and the livewell had six average-sized but respectable-fighting kings. But we kept talking about the benefits of fishing like this if any youngsters had been with us. “Manny, this is a perfect setting

Besides the salmon, Saldana also landed a small largemouth that was released and hopefully will grow much bigger in one of the region’s premier bass fisheries. (CHRIS COCOLES)

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CENTRAL VALLEY

Author Chris Cocoles with one of six kings taken home on this sunny May morning. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

88 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

to reach your goal of family fun,” I kept saying. “It’s pretty stress-free; you’re getting a lot of action but it’s not overwhelming for any newbies to fishing.” Saldana spent a lot of time at last winter’s Sacramento International Sportsmen’s Exposition testing the waters to get some species to target. And judging by our success on this day, he should be able to keep his calendar filled with clients wanting to experience the family fun this veteran guide is promoting. By the time we got back to the launch ramp, Saldana was filleting six kings for me. I brought about half of the fish to visit friends the next time for a salmon/lobster roll dinner. We froze the rest for a future cookout with the family. With Father’s Day approaching, Saldana was looking forward to taking his two daughters out fishing later this summer when his older daughter, who lives in Virginia, vis-


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Saldana is hoping he can attract families to come out and ďŹ sh at lakes like Oroville, Collins and Bullards Bar near his Yuba City home base and score a bunch of ďŹ sh. (CHRIS COCOLES)

its the family. But he hopes more dads give him a call to try their luck for a Collins Lake trout or an Oroville salmon before he heads back out on the Sacramento and Feather Rivers this fall. When we were unloading the boat preparing to get it on the trailer, Manny pointed towards a couple spinning rods tucked in the boat. “I brought along some bass gear, just in case the salmon weren’t biting or we wanted to try something different,� he said with a smile. Sounds like a guy who’s going to be covering all his bases this summer. CS Editor’s note: For more on MSJ Guide Service, check out msjguideservice.com and like at facebook.com/MSJfishingguideservice.


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NOTES Standard operating procedure for plunking for most species that hunker near the bottom is an egg sinker, bead, swivel and long leader to lift your bait out of the weeds, and that’s certainly the case with this channel catfish set-up. However, where it differs is with that 2-inch-long float, which does not go above the sinker, as with eggs or worms under a bobber for stocker trout, but actually in the middle of the leader. While channels have whiskers to find food on the bottom, they also will rise to grab a bait. The float allows for scent to be broadcast more widely than if the bait’s anchored to bottom. –CS

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SOCAL

Author Tim Hovey’s own childhood days as a fishing fanatic has been handed down to daughters Jessica (left) and Alyssa, now teenagers. (TIM E. HOVEY)

DADDY DID KNOW BEST A SOUTHLAND FATHER RECALLS HOW HE RAISED DAUGHTERS TO BECOME ABLE ANGLERS

By Tim E. Hovey

I

f you were to look through my childhood photo album, you’d be hard pressed to find a picture of me where I’m not holding up some species of fish. Past the age of 5, I became absolutely obsessed with fishing and went as often as I could. Whether it was riding my bike down to the beach to fish the shore or hiking down to the lake to soak bait, all my childhood activities were focused around angling. I have no idea where this passion came from. No one in my family had much interest in the outdoors, and none of them fished. I knew from

a very early age that angling was going to be a huge part of my life. I also knew that when I had kids, I would pass this outdoor heritage on to them. When I became a dad in 2000, and as soon as they were old enough, I decided to guide my daughters down the angler’s path. I knew it would take a great deal of dedication in the beginning, but I was looking at the big picture. I wanted to teach my daughters to be my fishing buddies. It was a lengthy and at times frustrating journey, but I’m glad we went through it. Here are a few things we did along the way that really made a difference.

BE THE GUIDE Even though my daughters are fully capable of successfully fishing on their own now, they still refer to me as the guide. During those early years when they were still learning, I did absolutely everything when I took them fishing. I got the gear ready, packed the tackle, baited up the hooks, casted, unhooked the fish and repeated. I also made sure to pack food and drinks, extra clothing and anything else youngsters would need when they travel away from home. So in the beginning, be prepared to tend to their every fishing need. For me, the goal for those first trips was to have them catch fish no matter how

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SOCAL Jessica and Alyssa with their first kokanee that they caught at Lake Tahoe. (TIM E. HOVEY)

big. This meant I spent a lot of time untangling lines, rerigging leaders, baiting hooks and helping out wher-

ever I could. If you slowly teach them what’s involved, they should begin to handle the simpler tasks themselves.

TEACHING, PREACHING PATIENCE The great thing about fishing is that with some practice and a little luck,

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SOCAL

Dad and daughter casting from the surf in the Pacific. (TIM E. HOVEY)

you can start to see success relatively quickly. Add in parental guidance and youngsters can start catching fish their first time out. In fact, the very first time I took both my daughters fishing, they quickly caught a large fish together off one of the local piers. Unfortunately, this early success kind of set the tone for future trips. When the fishing was slow and we weren’t catching much, they wanted to know why we weren’t getting any bites. It was during these slow periods that I introduced them to being patient. While waiting for bites, we’d talk about past fishing trips or discuss where they’d like to go next. As they got older, I noticed that they began to understand that fishing can sometimes take some patience and dedication to be successful. There were times when I really stretched their ability to wait for action, but their interest in fishing continued to grow.

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KEEP THE TIME SHORT One of the things I learned early on was that kids get bored quickly. If the girls weren’t catching fish or getting bites, they started to lose interest in the activity. When we first took them out, we concentrated on types of fishing that provided more consistent action with a visual component they could use to learn. One summer, my wife and I rented a boat at one of the local lakes and took the kids fishing in one of the back bays. Geared up with small rods, bobbers and a few containers of red worms, we spent an afternoon catching bluegill in the shallows. The fishing was nonstop and the girls saw plenty of fishing action to hold their interest. That day they learned to watch the bobber and concentrate on when to set the hook. It also marked the first time where they began casting on their own.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT FISHING During the lake trips, we’d fish for a bit and then cruise around the lake so I


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SOCAL could let the girls drive the boat. In the early years, I made sure that during outings they could participate in other activities if the fishing was slow. Driving boats, hiking and gaining independence was all part of bringing them up as hunting and fishing kids.

ENCOURAGEMENT There are plenty of life lessons that can be taught through teaching your kids how to fish. My daughters learned patience and humility very quickly. They understood that if they wanted to get better at catching fish, they needed to go often and practice. I’d also encourage the girls as much as possible throughout the entire process. Little victories during the journey gave me ample opportunity to build up their confidence and self esteem; it was just an added bonus to teaching them how to fish. Alyssa is graduating high school and starting college in the fall. But she can still catch a bass that can beat her dad. (TIM E. HOVEY)

FIND YOUR SPOT As they got older and more interest-

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Jessica, the younger daughter, shows off a surf perch. (TIM E. HOVEY)


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SOCAL ed, we started to make regular trips to the ocean. The local beaches is where my daughters started to really hone their fishing skills. They had plenty of room to cast and the frequent action during peak tides kept them engaged. In fact, as the beach trips piled up, they became more proficient anglers. These regular beach trips became our family’s favorite way to spend a summer Saturday. We’d have fishing contests to see who could catch the most and the biggest fish. If the bite died down, we’d hike the shore and just explore the tide pools. We always made sure we had snacks or lunch for the outing, and we regularly spent the entire day enjoying the ocean.

DO SOME RESEARCH A few years back, we took a camping trip to a Central California lake. Before we left, I called the lake and

For the Hoveys - parents Tim and Cheryl and daughters Jessica and Alyssa - fishing has become a tradition and a big part of their lives together. (TIM E. HOVEY)

asked about the fishing. I also referenced a weekly outdoor periodical that frequently published fish reports for local waters. The reports essentially stated that even though the lake level was down, the catfish fishing had been exceptional.

We stopped by the tackle shop at the dock to pick up bait suggestions and pointers. The owner pointed us to one of the larger bays that had been producing and wished us luck. Sure enough, over the next two hours, my family caught several

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SOCAL large catfish in the cove, with Jessica landing the monster of the trip: a 15-pound channel catfish. I’ve caught plenty of catfish in my lifetime, but I’m convinced using the local knowledge at the unfamiliar-to-us lake led to our fishing success. If you’re taking your kids someplace new, take a few minutes and gather info that may cut down the learning curve for you and your kids.

LISTEN TO THE GUIDE (YEAH, DAD!) To encourage their angling interest, my wife and I took my daughters on a guided, half-day trip on Lake Tahoe to fish for kokanee when they were a bit more seasoned behind the reel. Within minutes of slow-trolling small spinners, we had a strike and Jessica grabbed the rod. The guide started to instruct Jessica on how to land the fish and I stepped in like a know-it-all dad and said she knew what she was doing. Within

seconds of the guide disengaging, Jessica lost the fish. The guide said that constant reeling was the best way to land kokanee and pumping and reeling would result in lost fish. A few minutes later when she got a second chance, the guide instructed her and she brought the fish to net. I humbly apologized to the captain and took my rightful place behind the camera to document the trip. I had never targeted kokanee and knew little about how to land them. That day I learned to leave my pride on the dock if there were more seasoned anglers nearby who knew what they were doing.

ONE LAST LESSON A couple years ago I got access to a hunting ranch with a few small bass ponds on it. During the heat of the day, we’d head to the lakes to toss lures and catch some fish. Those early surf fishing competitions appear to have set a lifelong pattern when it comes to

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fishing with my family. If we’re fishing together, we’re competing. Alyssa and I were fishing the small lake and keeping track of how many fish we had caught. I found myself playing catch-up as my daughter consistently stayed two or three fish ahead of me. Towards the end of the day, we each hooked up. When the fish were compared, Alyssa’s bass was easily a pound larger than mine, and of course she wanted a photo of us and our fish. The student had become the teacher. My daughters are now driving teenagers who still enjoy fishing with me. When we all have a free Saturday, I load up all the gear, rig the rods and pack the snacks. We drive to the beach and again have a summer family fishing competition. It’s a family tradition that I will always enjoy. And even though I no longer have to do everything for my daughters when it comes to fishing, a part of me still misses that. CS


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SOCAL

A PACIFIC OCEAN CLASSIC DORADO AFFICIONADO EXTOLS VIRTUES OF LEGENDARY TARGET FOR SOCAL ANGLERS By Tim E. Hovey

P

robably one of the most recognizable sportfish caught off the California coast is the dorado. Known by several names, the dorado is a powerful and unique-looking species that routinely shows up here when the water starts to warm in early summer. Ranging in color from yellow-gold to green-blue, with larger fish are covered in smaller, blue dots, dorado will frequently flash between these colors when hooked or chasing bait, and many lose their coloration quickly when added to the fish box. Males, or bull dorado, have a large head and are easily distinguished from the smaller females. Females, or hens, display a more streamlined head. Both sexes will gather up together in large, patrolling schools. With a measured swimming speed of nearly 50 knots, dorado are also popular for their fighting ability. Easily enticed into taking many different lures and baits, their strikes are often very aggressive and sudden. Once hooked, dorado are impressive fighters and often take to the air in attempts to throw the hook. They’re extremely strong and can be a true challenge to land on lighter tackle. The largest I’ve ever caught was a 52-pound bull that took almost an hour to land on 30-pound-test line. These statistics are probably common knowledge for most avid fishermen. However, other life history elements of this sportfish may not be as well known and are important factors in managing this widespread species. I believe the more information anglers have, the more they will appreciate the game fish they chase. In turn, this will lead to a better un-

Many of author Tim Hovey’s best saltwater fishing memories – both near his Southern California home and in Mexico – have involved catching dorado, one of the Pacific Ocean’s most prized gamefish. (TIM E. HOVEY)

derstanding of how their actions can benefit the long-term management of this resource.

PACKING ON THE POUNDAGE One of the most amazing scientific facts of the dorado is their unbelievable growth rate. Back in the 1960s, marine researcher Milt Shedd cofounded SeaWorld Inc. One of his early responsibilities was to assist in the collection of fish for the facility. On one trip,

his team collected several small, 1.5-pound dorado that were placed in a SeaWorld aquarium display. The fish were fed a regular diet of anchovies and sardines and did well in their captive enclosure. Approximately 18 months after they were brought in, one of the bigger fish died and was removed from the tank and weighed. The fish tipped the scales at 68 pounds, having gained an impressive 65 pounds in a year and a half. A more recent example of the

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SOCAL

When targeting dorado in a place like Baja, the view is just as glorious as the fishing can be. (TIM E. HOVEY)

exceptional captive growth in dorado occurred in Florida in 2014. A 5-pound dorado was placed into a captive tank. Nine months later the fish weighed in at 56.4 pounds; that’s roughly a 50-pound increase in weight in three-quarters of a year. It’s clear that dorado in the wild would experience a slower growth rate than fish kept and fed in captivity. Wild fish expend more energy and time searching for prey in the open ocean, affecting their growth rate. However, the captive rate of growth for dorado certainly would transfer somewhat to wild fish.

HIGHLY FECUND SPECIES With such an incredible growth rate, it stands to reason that dorado will reach reproductive maturity very

early in life. Scientific evidence shows that adult dorado may reach sexual maturity by their fifth month of life. Considering that they were produced as an egg about the size of the head of pin, their growth to reproductive size is truly amazing. Both males and females are fully reproductively mature by their first year. Dorado spawn in warmer waters and spawning can occur year-round if conditions are right. Females, depending on size, can produce between 80,000 to one million eggs during a single season. Larger females have been documented producing several million eggs a season. Species that produce such a large quantity do so because in an open ocean environment, only a small percentage of those offspring will survive to reproductive maturity.

CATCHING DORADO Dorado are known as a pelagic species, cruising the open ocean in a constant search for prey. They are considered opportunistic feeders, consuming fish, crabs and other aquatic invertebrates. They will patrol around any type of floating debris on the lookout for food. Baitfish, small invertebrates and even smaller gamefish will seek out these floating islands for safety, grouping together in the shadows. Fishermen targeting dorado should focus on these debris islands for patrolling fish when the water warms during the summer months. Dorado are voracious predators and both chase down and consume any target of opportunity. Trolling live bait or lures around these areas will usually result in a strike if dorado are present.

DORADO AT A GLANCE Short-lived, dorado have incredible growth rates; captive fish have grown from 1½ pounds to close to 70 pounds in just 18 months.

Names: Dorado, mahi mahi, dolphinfish Scientific name: Coryphaena hippurus Family: Coryphaenidae (other member: pompano) Geographic range: Tropical and subtropical areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans Typical arrival off California: Early to mid-July IGFA all-tackle world record: 87 pounds (Costa Rica 1976) Lifespan: Four to five years. Edibility: Excellent

(TIM E. HOVEY) 106 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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SOCAL While fishing in Baja, we’d slowtroll sardines around shark buoys exactly twice before moving on. If we didn’t get a strike during two rotations, we concluded no one was home and we’d move on to the next buoy. When we did encounter dorado, we’d always catch several out of the school circling the buoy. I’ve caught dorado on trolled feathers, swimbaits, live mackerel and sardines, and casting irons. In all the times we’ve encountered schooling dorado or even singles chasing bait, we could get them to bite. On one trip to Baja we were fishing in 200 feet of water using UFO irons and squid. Suddenly, a school of large baitfish raced towards the boat while chased by a bull dorado. The fish circled the boat once and was gone. I quickly reeled in my bottom lure and tossed it out as far as I could. Within seconds I had hooked

John Smith with a nice Pacific dorado, which are lightningfast swimmers. (TIM E. HOVEY)

the 30-pound bull. After an amazing fight on 30-pound test, we added the dorado to the fish box and had a local restaurant back on land cook it up for us.

In my opinion, dorado are one of the best-tasting fish in the ocean. We’ve had them fried, baked and broiled and we’ve never been disappointed. Dorado’s flesh is light in color and the flavor is mild. The lengthy body of the fish also yields sizable fillets, even from smaller dorado. However, I’m of the opinion that smaller fish should be released to give them a chance to grow and reproduce

CONSERVING THE RESOURCE As angling for dorado becomes even more popular, resource agencies are slowly moving toward size and take limits to assist in species conservation. Florida currently has a 20-inchfork-length minimum size limit and a bag limit of 10 per angler. In fact, many of the East Coast resource agencies are moving to adopt similar regulations to help preserve and sustain the resource. No species of fish is unlimited. The life history of the dorado should be a conservation consideration to all anglers targeting this species. With such an amazing growth rate, it may be easy to assume that dorado can quickly replenish overfished stock through reproduction. This is not the case. 108 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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“As an angler, I am always in awe when I see a dorado,” Hovey, with his wife Cheryl, writes. “The colors, the acrobatics and the amazing taste will always have me reaching for a rod when the boat eases up to a kelp paddy.” (TIM E. HOVEY)

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Accelerated growth in fish usually means a shorter lifespan. This means they only have a few years to reproduce before they are either removed from the system through angling or die of old age. If smaller fish are removed from the system before they’ve had a chance to reproduce, the fishery will experience a collapse. Selective harvesting, releasing smaller fish and only keeping what you’ll eat will go a long way in preserving this fishery.

A MAJESTIC FISH As an angler, I am always in awe when I see a dorado. The colors, the acrobatics and the amazing taste will always have me reaching for a rod when the boat eases up to a kelp paddy. However, the fishing scientist in me understands that even the most abundant species can at times become overfished or fragile. As responsible anglers we can easily assist the resource by only keeping what we’ll eat and releasing smaller fish. This ensures that the stories we tell our kids and grandkids won’t just be stories. Responsible angling starts with us, so a few simple adjustments will sustain this resource for generations to come. CS


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SOCAL

Like an epic party’s aftermath, Southland bass anglers are experiencing a bit of a postspawn hangover, but author Bill Schaefer has some tips to make your melancholy mood a little more tolerable when you hit the lake. (BILL SCHAEFER)

CURING THE

‘POSTSPAWN BLUES’ BASS MAY NOT BE SO EASY TO CATCH IN THE SHALLOWS ANYMORE, BUT STEALTHY ANGLERS CAN STILL SCORE FISH

By Bill Schaefer

T

he fish counts for almost all Southern California lakes are showing the effects of the socalled “postspawn blues.” And unless you are in tune with what is happening at each water, it can make for some tough fishing right now. Still, there are a few tricks you can try, but if you do find it tough, don’t worry about it; you are not the only fisherman having trouble getting bit. Even well-seasoned pro anglers have to work a little harder this time of year. Let’s take a look at some helpful hints to get through the doldrums after the spawning cycle ends.

PICKY EATERS We all got spoiled by it this past

spring: tons of male fish running the banks, locking on nests, inviting large females into the shallows. They felt so close that it seemed like you could touch some of them with your rod tip. Bass would eat almost anything you threw in front of them. It was like shooting fish in a barrel (sorry, I had to do it). But now there are only the potholes the fish formed making their nests. Shorelines once lousy with bass are like an Old West ghost town. It seems like someone threw a switch and the bass stopped biting. There are still clouds of fry from late spawning bass roaming the bank and schools of baby bass all along the shallows. Use this to your advantage and emulate the baby bass in all the different sizes and this will entice a strike.

GET THE RIGHT MATCHUP Mimicing the predators that feed on the fry will draw the attention of the bass protecting their young. Small baits can match the fry, and larger ones in bass or bluegill patterns can copy the attacking fish, causing strikes from the protecting parent. Small darter-head jigs – with a small curl-tail worm or a grub on it – can be deadly this time of year. Watch closely for schools of fry in the shallows and bass protecting them. Jerkbaits reeled through a school of fry may just draw the strike of a giant fish! This fishing can last for several weeks, as long as there is still baby bass in the water. A drop-shot rig or split-shot rig with the right bait can draw strikes as well. Again, bluegill or bass pat-

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SOCAL tern should do it. Even shad and crawdad patterns will produce. Remember, the bass didn’t stop eating. It took a lot of energy to spawn and they need to regain their strength. They now want the easiest meal they can find.

This might be a bit of a transition period for bass anglers as summer arrives, but paying attention to the details and getting creative can keep you busy catching fish. (BILL SCHEAFER)

FOLLOW THE PACK The bass are starting to fall back into schooling mode, with feeding wolf packs looking to attack anything they can eat. Find these fish and you will be one of the few catching them. There is some dumb luck to it, but you can improve your chances by paying attention to the things going on around the lake. Do you remember those areas on your lake with the nests where the bass spawn? Well, follow that same path the bass took into the shallows back out to outside points, old stream channels and other structures. The bass do hang in the same ar-

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SOCAL eas year-round and really don’t travel too far from home. In fact, high percentages of tournament fish that have been marked and released at the docks have returned to their original part of the lake. Fish those areas hard. If you catch a fish, stay in that general area. Like I said, the fish are schooling up and there should be more in the area. And they all should be hungry. It just may take some enticing on your part. If you can get one going, the others may follow suit.

They are following the bait. They will return to their original area, but if the bait stays away, then they will travel. Food is more important to these guys. Sometimes when you find that school in an old river channel or on a rock pile, you may have to fish it hard to get them to bite. Shaking a Texas-rigged worm in a largemouth’s face can be a good set-up for getting that fish to bite. A dropshot-rigged worm will work equally as well. You need to make them mad enough to strike.

can make the difference. Carolina rigs, Bubba rigs, and split-shot rigged craws and creature baits also do well this time of year. The weight stirs up the bottom, getting the fish’s attention and then the bait swims by and gets attacked by the largemouth. These baits cover a lot of bottom and slowing down on your presentation when fishing them will help as well. The more area you cover, the better this time of year. Once you find them, stay on them.

KEEP UP THE FAITH LOOK FOR THE SIGNS

GEAR AND TACKLE

Watching your meter is very important this time of year. You may stumble upon a rock pile where a feeding pack of bass have cornered a school of shad, or they just decided to rest and hang out for a while. If you find fish in an area, don’t always expect them to be there the next weekend you fish.

Southern California’s Florida-strain bass can be finicky, as we all well know. Once they have seen a bait they seem to remember it forever, making them ever harder to catch. The bite can be subtle, so I use a sensitive Daiwa Tatula dropshot rod and reel with a Maxima fluorocarbon leader. It

116 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

Don’t worry, though: Fishing will get better soon. Topwater action will start as shad school up and bass start to chase them. You will soon forget the postspawn blues and see bait and bass exploding all around the lake. At least it is more exciting, even if the fishing is still a little on the slow side. CS


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120 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


SIERRA

PORTAL TO ADVENTURE FISHING IN THE EASTERN SIERRA? MAKE A STOP IN LONE PINE By Mike Stevens

A

bout a decade ago, I began tacking on an extra day to my trips up Highway 395 and earmarked it for 24 hours or so of exploration and lodging in one of the small towns in the Owens Valley. While it was never intended to be a search for a permanent pretrip adventure location, that’s exactly what happened. Now, every “Day Zero” (my term) is spent in Lone Pine, specifically as it relates to Whitney Portal.

HIGH COUNTRY PARADISE Whitney Portal sits at the end of Whitney Portal Road, which shoots west out the middle of Lone Pine about 14 miles up to an elevation of 8,374 feet. At that elevation, it can be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the valley below, especially in the heat of summer. It’s aptly named, as it’s the launching point for those climbing Mount Whitney and an ideally located jump-off point for long-range “thru-hikers” to come out of the mountains and access the town of Lone Pine. They arrive for a resupply, burger, beer or bed. Those are actually also among the reasons I stop there. Originally, the Day Zero spot was in part to break up our drive from north San Diego County, and pulling off 395 in Lone Pine shaves off almost two hours from the drive to Mammoth Lakes. Typically, I’ll roll into town in the early afternoon and head straight for easy-access fishing locations such as

On the way to the Eastern Sierra from Southern California, a pit stop along the Whitney Portal Road – with Mount Whitney as a backdrop – offers not only fishing options but nightlife and a place to sleep it off. (MIKE STEVENS)

Lone Pine Creek, the Owens River east of town, or any other creek flowing west to east out of the Sierra within a short drive. The road starts for all intents and purposes as a cool waterfall up at Whitney Portal and tumbles along Whitney Portal Road all the way to Lone Pine. There’s also a little pond up at the portal itself that usually has some stocked trout in, and that’s a top midday option when daytime temps can get pretty lofty down below.

WINDING DOWN By late afternoon, I’m checking in at Whitney Portal Hotel and Hostel, which is right on the main drag and

ideally suited for walking to restaurants, tackle shops (one is right next door), a grocery store, touristy shops, or anything else Main Street has to offer. Along with the central location, Whitney Portal Hotel has clean, comfortable rooms at a very reasonable price, and stunning views of Mount Whitney if you get one of the rooms on the west-facing side (which, in my opinion, is the only way to go). There’s a store on the bottom half that’s fully stocked with travel essentials, food, drinks, ice cream and also high-quality mountain gear. On that first night, I’ll have dinner at any number of eateries in town,

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SIERRA

The Whitney Portal Hotel and Hostel and Jake’s Saloon are among the big attractions in Lone Pine. (MIKE STEVENS)

including Lone Pine Smokehouse, Pizza Factory or even upscale dining at Seasons, then it’s over to Jake’s Saloon for a cold one or three. Jake’s is exactly what you look for in a roadside watering hole. Swinging cowboy doors, thousands of messages scrawled on dollar bills over the years and tacked up all over the walls, and obligatory rusty “Old West” artifacts wherev-

er there’s room to bolt them down. It’s a great place to enjoy beers from highway breweries like Mountain Rambler (Bishop) and Indian Wells Brewing and chat with locals, fellow travelers from all over – in April while covering the opener, I hung out with a dad and son from Germany who rented motorcycles in LA and were headed to San Francisco the long way – and watch LAD-

WP workers blow off steam with an informal, $5-entry billiards tourney. The jukebox is the one thing that appears out of place in Jake’s, but in a good way with its digital operation, crisp sound and endless selection.

LAST CALL That night, hanging out on the upstairs patio of Whitney Portal Hotel is the last but potentially lon-

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gest item on the itinerary: people watching from the balcony. Have your Bluetooth speaker on with the cooler open for a couple more beers and some to share with whomever comes by. Over the last few years, I’ve chatted with gobs of thru-hikers (likely the most fascinating of all these characters was a lady tracking down the previous owner of a house she bought in Maine all the way back to Lone Pine). There’s a dude from the nearby Indian reservation with plenty of Alabama Hills ghost stories. We annually run into a local conspiracy theorist who shares details of local golden trout spots – and also rides around town on a bicycle with a Chihuahua in a basket. These late-night conversations right on Highway 395 with a barely visible Mount Whitney serving as the backdrop have become an integral element to Sierra-trip kickoffs, and I have no plans to ever change that. The next morning it’s back up to the Portal Store and pancakes the size of manhole covers. I think about how good they must be to thru-hikers and Whitney conquerors emerging from the high country after eating nothing but dehydrated God-knows-what for days, if not months.

AND THERE’S FISHING! After that, it’s time to continue toward Mammoth Lakes, but we’re in no hurry. As we head north, we’re constantly pulling off the highway to quick-hit trout spots like Big Pine Creek, Tinemaha Creek, the Owens River, Independence Creek, various “sand traps” and maybe even further west back into the high country to places like Onion Valley. It’s a pretty good feeling when you’re only 24 hours into a weeklong trip, but you’ve already done quite a bit with the bulk of your adventure still ahead. CS Editor’s note: For more information about Whitney Portal Hotel Hostel, visit MountWhitneyPortal.com. 124 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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FISHING

IT MAKES BATTLES WITH FISH BETTER

A single-action mooching reel and rod did its job on an Alaskan king salmon.

MOOCHING REELS LOOK LIKE FLY GUY GEAR, BUT WORK GREAT FOR SALMON TROLLING

(ISLANDER REELS)

By Steve Rennalls

W

hen I was a boy, my neighborhood would host an annual summer picnic. There were three-legged races, dunk tanks, and lots of burgers, but the highlight for me was always the tug-of-war. All of us kids would watch our dads square up – east side versus west side – and with the pop of a starter’s pistol, the battle would begin. To start, every inch of ground was fiercely contested but inevitably, one

side would begin to tire. Sensing weakness, the strong side would coordinate their movements and pull in unison until the losers would slip and be dragged through the mud across the line with their pride in tow.

I GREW UP FISHING for bass back east,

but my passion for all things outdoors eventually led me to Alaska and the Yukon, where I lived for a number of years. One day I got an invite to head out on the Petersburg Creek-Duncan Creek Salt Chuck Wilderness of Alaska to target salmon with my friend Elliott.

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FISHING Author Steve Rennalls shows off a hefty Alaskan king salmon caught on a single-action reel set-up. (ISLANDER REELS)

As we prepared to drop our gear, he pulled out what looked like an oversized fly rod and reel, rigged up a flasher with a needlefish-sized spoon, clipped it into the downrigger and ran it down just off bottom. When Elliott saw my confused looks, he patiently explained that we would be running “mooching” setups for the day instead of the levelwinds that I was more familiar with. Mooching reels belong to the “single-action” category, defined by 1:1 clutchless retrieval systems. The most common example of a single-action is a fly reel, but the segment also includes centerpin reels. Unlike a levelwind that offers gear ratios to help retrieve line quickly and clutches to prevent the handles from spinning backwards, on a mooching reel either you are reeling forwards and gaining line or the fish is peeling line out and the handles are spinning backwards – it’s a direct

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FISHING connection to the fish. It wasn’t long after Elliott finished his explanation that the starboard rod tip started dancing. I snatched the rod and with some enthusiastic “Reel! Reel! Reel!” encouragement from Elliott, I picked up the slack, set the hook, and all hell broke loose. Much to the dismay of my right index finger, the origin of the term “knuckle-buster” was quickly revealed.

THE FISH WENT ON a run, and being used to levelwinds, I made the mistake of trying to hold on to the handles. With no clutch, the fish’s run tore them from my hand. As they spun backwards I was delivered a healthy rap on my finger as punishment for my inexperience. In between a few choice words and the sound of the singing reel, I quickly realized that unlike a levelwind, I couldn’t relax for a second on a moocher. The direct connection allowed me to

feel every twist, turn and headshake, and I had to respond accordingly. When the fish wanted to run, I let him run and let the drag do its work. When he paused I carefully retrieved, trying to gain ground before the next run. When he made a sprint towards the boat, I reeled like there was no tomorrow. Eventually, I managed to get the fish to the boat. As Elliott netted it, I turned to him. Out of breath and heart pumping, I howled with exhilaration. “What. A. Fight!” At 13 pounds, the fish was nothing to write home about, but that fight! It took me right back to my childhood and those neighborhood battles. I was converted to mooching reels right then and there and haven’t looked back since.

THESE DAYS, IT’S RARE for my knuckles to take a hit, but every once in a while I get out of sync with a fish and slip up. After that happens, my knuckles

130 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

WHAT YOU’LL NEED Mooching reel of typically 4.5 to 5 inches in diameter with a large arbor. (e.g., Islander TR3) Mooching rod of 9 to 11 feet in length, slow action with a rod holder-length butt section and 10- to 16inch foregrip (e.g., Islander Premier Series Rod, G.Loomis E6X, Daiwa North Coast SS Mooching Rod) Line of 300 yards of 60- to 80-pound Spectra fiber with a shot of 25- to 30-pound mono. SR

may throb and my pride may be in the mud, but when the next rod pops and the battle begins, I wouldn’t trade a mooching reel’s tug-of-war with a hot king salmon for anything. CS Editor’s note: Steve Rennalls is the brand manager for Islander Reels. For more, go to islander.com, like at facebook.com/islanderprecisionreels and follow on Twitter (@IslanderReels)


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HUNTING

Keep Fetch Training

Short, Sweet

By Scott Haugen

A

s puppies mature, drawing a line between play and work is important. This is especially true when it comes to teaching your gun dog how to fetch. The action of fetching is innate with most dogs, something you’ll often observe as your pup plays with toys at 10 weeks of age, even younger. Puppies are intrigued with toys, and like the attention they receive from chasing them and bringing them back. This is actually the early phase of teaching a dog to fetch. Early on, encourage your pup to fetch as many different objects as possible. I’m not an advocate of finding a favorite toy and sticking with that. I want to expand the horizons of a pup, encouraging it to fetch everything from balls to bones, shoes to pencils, hats to towels, and more. This not only encourages them to handle objects of different sizes and shapes but also gets them used to diverse textures and figuring out how to fetch cumbersome items they might get tangled in, like the wings of bigger birds they’ll soon be retrieving when hunting.

object to me and don’t let go until it’s in my hand. This is valuable once they start retrieving crippled birds. When the pup brings you an object, avoid getting in a game of tug of war. It may seem fun, but as the pup matures, these tugging matches transform into a game of dominance, something you want to avoid. I never play tugging

games with any dogs, as retrieving an object to hand is not a game, rather the dog’s job. It’s OK for dogs to play tug o’ war with each other, but stop if either dog gets too possessive. As a pup matures, playing fetch with bumpers will begin. This can happen when a pup is three months old, give or take, depending on the dog. Playing with toys is the start of teaching a pup to fetch. But avoid getting into tugging matches as this will later lead to dominance issues and improper behavior by your gun dog. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

THE KEY IN these early fetching stages is keeping it fun for the pup. Praise them when they do it right, for they are learning it for the first time. Immediately start with voice commands you’ll use throughout the dog’s life. When they bring an object to you, say the command for them to release it. The command might be “release,” “drop it,” “let go,” or whatever you decide. My command is simply “hand.” My dogs know this means to bring the calsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2018 California Sportsman

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HUNTING Start with small bumpers they can grasp, maybe even canvas ones that are comfortable in their mouth. When introducing bumpers, don’t treat them like toys, as these will be training tools used throughout the dog’s life. From that four- to six-month age, when a dog is losing its puppy teeth, they’ll want to chew on the bumpers. Avoid leaving bumpers laying around, as you do not want a puppy associating bumpers with something they can play with or chew on. When teething happens, get the dog a chew toy, like a thick rope, socks tied into knots, or Kong-style toys they can’t chew into pieces and swallow. Once the adult teeth are in, more intense fetch training can be done. When the pup is not worried about grabbing an object because it hurts their teeth, the learning will quickly progress. When teaching a pup to fetch, be it in water or on land, keep training sessions short. Stay positive and conclude the training with the pup wanting more, as trainer Steve Waller is doing here. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

NOW YOU CAN expand training sessions so your pup marks retrieves as items are tossed into the air, or by hiding

136 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

them for a blind search and retrieve. Bumpers, bird wings, deer antlers and bird skins tied to bumpers are all great tools for teaching a dog to fetch. As when the pup was little, make certain every object is retrieved to hand, then offer brief praise. I never reward a puppy with a treat for fetching to hand, as I want simple praise to be what drives them. This is what dogs are designed to do, you just have to guide them. Once this is clearly communicated, a dog will fetch any object you instruct, directly to your hand. Keep fetch training sessions fun and brief. Make it a special event that your dog gets excited about. I’ve trained pups that got bored after three fetches, so I ended the training after two retrieves. Other dogs will fetch all day long, but those sessions obviously end sooner rather than later. A rule of thumb is to end the training session with the dog wanting


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HUNTING more, not when they’ve grown bored and lost interest. Never chase a dog to get an object back; rather, just end the fetch session without praise. Clear, positive communication is important when training a pup. Once yours knows what you expect of them, rarely is there a need to holler or even raise your voice. Keep training sessions fun and you’ll be surprised how quickly a pup learns how to properly fetch an object in an efficient manner. Achieving and reinforcing proper behavior at a young age is only the start of building a disciplined pup, and eventually shaping it into the efficient gun dog you ultimately desire. CS

Rarely is there a need to raise your voice at a pup during training sessions. Clearly communicate what you expect, and you’ll be surprised with how quickly they learn. Noted trainer Howard Meyer patiently works with one of his German shorthairs. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is host of The Hunt on Netflix. To watch some of his basic puppy training videos, visit scotthaugen .com. Follow Scott on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

This dog carrier bed was used by the county of Ventura in California for several years and is in very good condition. Everything works, the doors, the handles on the doors the trays/ramps (2) that pull out at the front of the bed both work. The back section has a large yellow light (about the width of the bed) that must’ve been used as a warning light. It was manufactured in 2004. It’s painted white and the paint looks quite good. If it were not used to transport dogs it could easily be used as a utility truck for a contractor/builder or someone who had to carry small equipment and materials.

Dog Carrier Bed for Sale $8,500 | Retails for $30,000 CALIFORNIA | ON THE CENTRAL COAST NEAR SAN LUIS OBISPO Barbara Cully 805-423-3987 | babscully@gmail.com 138 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

Jodi Taylor 805-459-6484


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HUNTING Summer is the time for mounting new recoil pads on your rifles or shotguns. Author Dave Workman uses neutral shoe wax to buff up the stocks of his rifles and polish away any tiny scratches that might linger from buffing down a new recoil pad. (KICK-EEZ)

TIME FOR RIFLE REPAIRS, SHOTGUN SERVICING SUMMER’S WHEN TO WORK ON YOUR HUNTING GUNS By Dave Workman

S

ummer is the time of year I prefer to do any kind of upgrades to my hunting rifles and shotguns, whether it involves a major task like replacing a stock or trying a new load, mounting a scope or even replacing a recoil pad.

I’VE NEVER BEEN FOND of recoil, and that’s why a few years ago I took the time to replace the factory pads on a few of my rifles and on two shotguns. Older rubber, whether of the solid or ventilated variety, just never made it for me. But since they once were about the only thing available, they spent years on a couple of my favorite guns. But then came modern materials

such as Sorbothane. Whatever else they do, today’s recoil pads truly suck up the “kick” and make shooting more comfortable. I checked with Cheryl Poppe at Kick-EEZ to learn that Sorbothane is a “visto-elastic polymer.” The company, based in the southwest Washington town of Woodland, has been using this material since the mid1980s, which has been plenty of time to discover any drawbacks, but as far as I can tell, there have been none.

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HUNTING

Ruger has announced two new chamberings of its No. 1 Single Shot, .308 Winchester and .450 Marlin. Lipseys.com is also carrying two exclusive models in .30-30 Winchester and .257 Roberts. (LIPSEYS)

While such recoil pads – another example is the neoprene Pachmayr Decelerator – may seem soft, they are pretty tough and can take the rigors of the field in stride. They mount easily but some people have a bit of trouble doing the grind to make them conform to the angle and profile of the stock. There are various videos online that offer tips on how to fit a new recoil pad to a stock. You’ll probably want a disk or belt sander to do most of the work, and be sure to wrap the buttstock wood in a couple of layers of heavy tape. Now, if you’re refinishing the entire stock, it’s wise to fit the pad to

the bare stock before adding the finish. There are lots of finishes available these days, but I prefer a 50-50 mix of warm linseed and tung oil, after taking the wood down to a fine, smooth finish. In my teens, I learned a trick from a neighbor called “whiskering.” When you think the wood is smooth enough to finish, wipe it down with a damp cloth and pass the wood over a stove burner. This will cause little whiskers of wood to stand up and you can take those down with 400- to 800-grit sandpaper. Some folks even finish after that with very fine steel wool. To strip an old finish out of check-

ering, get some stripper and brush it in with a fine toothbrush. Be sure to allow the refinished stock a couple of days to dry and then wipe it down with a clean, soft cloth. Some people will even finish off by rubbing the stock with furniture wax or neutral shoe wax. I’ve done that with two rifle stocks, including one on a Lyman muzzleloader, and the result was very pleasing.

IF FIREARM FUNCTION PROBLEMS hit your fowling or hunting pieces last season, now is the time to be working on that, not the day before fall’s openers. New scope? Summer provides the daylight hours to install your glass and head to the range to zero. Need to fix some rust spots? Pull the stock, check the underside of your barrel, take some fine steel wool to any problems you find and then touch it up with cold blue. Use steel wool to remove the rust spot and buff up the metal. Apply a degreaser to remove any surface oil. Apply the blue, wait half a minute or so, rinse with cold water, dab it dry and then buff it up with very fine steel wool. Apply gun oil. If you have a leather rifle sling, now is a good time to give it a treatment of neatsfoot oil or a fresh application of saddle soap and/or neutral shoe wax. SUMMER IS ALSO A good time as any to learn about new guns and ammo, and Ruger recently noted that it has expanded its legendary No. 1 single-shot rifle by adding two chamberings: .308 Winchester and .450 Marlin. At the same time, Lipsey’s has added two exclusive No. 1 models, one in .30-30 Winchester and one of

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my favorite cartridges, the .257 Roberts. The latter is offered with a fulllength stock. The Ruger No. 1 single-shot is and always has been handsome, functional and – in my experience – remarkably accurate. Some years ago in South Dakota on a prairie dog hunt with Ruger’s then-public relations stalwart Ken Jorgensen, I used a No. 1 in .204 Ruger to cap the little buggers out to 350 yards more than once. This new batch of rifles feature American walnut stocks and satin blue finishes. The .308 wears a 22-inch barrel cut with a 1:10-inch right-hand twist, the same twist rate found in the .30-30 and .257. Meanwhile, the .450 has a 20-inch barrel with a 1:16-inch twist.

ON THE AMMUNITION SIDE, Speer has some pretty good timing. They’ve just added three new projectiles, including one for the .257 Roberts that ought to turn in a good performance out of the aforementioned Ruger No. 1 from Lipsey’s chambered for that round. The .257-caliber pill is a 120-Grand Slam, as are the other two bullets, one in 6.5mm/.264 caliber weighing 140 grains and a .243 weighing 100 grains. All three are packaged in 50-count boxes. These Grand Slams feature a tapered, precision-drawn jacket with internal flutes and longer front-end profile for a flatter trajectory. All three calibers are widely known for their flat trajectories, which makes them good choices for game out on the plains. Of the trio, the .257 Roberts has earned a special place. It’s the caliber I used to conk a couple of deer many years ago in eastern Washington. I shot a fat three-point whitetail during the late season, and two years later, I toppled a spike muley – the last year it was legal for anything under three points. Both were one-shot stops using 100-grain bullets. The whitetail fell to a Speer boattail, the mule deer a Nosler Ballistic Tip. CS


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Tag ‘Em & Bag ‘Em G A L L E R Y SONORA TROPHY OUTFITTERS We are now booking for the 2019 and 2020 season. We have amazing specials running from April through September on our Coues deer and desert sheep hunts. We look forward to another great season! 98” SCI Coues deer

See us on page 128.

210” SCI mule deer

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the LAST LAUGH

Editor's note: To see more illustrations from Tim “Spike” Davis, check out his website at scatteredthoughtscartoons.com.

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THE ORIGINAL LIGHT & LASER SPECIALISTS www.multiholsters.com 1-734-392-7630 150 California Sportsman JUNE 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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