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FISHING • HUNTING • TRAVEL CALSPORTSMANMAG.COM

SPORT OF

KINGS! Catch Fall-run Salmon On Klamath, Sac Rivers

Hot Summer Angling Stampede Kokanee Topwater Largies Sierra Browns SoCal Calico

Prehunt Prep Decoying Big Game Gun Dog Paw Care Shotgun Basics

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Sportsman

California Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 11 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 Tim “Spike” Davis, Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, John Heil, Todd Kline, Bill Schaefer, 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, 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 King salmon anglers in both the Central Valley and the North Coast should have great opportunities at landing a Chinook in the next few months. Both the Sacramento and Klamath Rivers expect to have a good amount of fall-run fish. (MSJ FISHING GUIDE SERVICE) MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP CALIFORNIA OFFICE 4517 District Blvd. • Bakersfield, CA 93313 (661) 381-7533 WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com

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CONTENTS

VOLUME 10 • ISSUE 11 (BRANDON MIYASAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES)

FEATURES 39

DECODING DECOYS With hunting seasons nearing, sportsmen begin to dust off their decoys – for big game. Whether it’s a faux cow elk or doe pronghorn or deer, they can be really effective, especially during archery hunts. Scott Haugen breaks down the scenarios when decoys work best, and Tiffany Haugen serves up garden-fresh venison chili in our Field to Fire column.

45

KINGS OF THE NORTH COAST Despite running warmer than salmon generally prefer this time of year, the Klamath remains one of Northern California’s premier king fisheries. Longtime local guide Tony Sepulveda is excited to get his clients out on the river in the coming weeks and he shares how to enjoy nonstop action on Chinook.

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SPORTSMAN’S DREAM WEEKEND Surfperch off the beach on Friday; predator calling in the desert on Saturday; rabbit hunting on the opener on Sunday. Tim Hovey and his buddy John Mattila got in all three activities when they took advantage of an unexpected three-day weekend. Hovey, who will hunt and fish anywhere, anytime his schedule allows, provides the play by play on this sportsman’s dream adventure.

101

HEED THE CALL FOR CALICO In the inland bays of the Southland, calico bass represent one of the more popular gamefish for anglers to target. The fish are schooled up and hungry and will bite just about every offering in your tackle box. Capt. Bill Schaefer, who knows the Southern California saltwater as well as anyone, has the inside information on how to fill your cooler with calicos from the kelp.

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A KOKANEE STAMPEDE

Golden State anglers who fish for kokanee can thank the Sierra’s Stampede Reservoir, which essentially supplies most Northern California lakes with eggs for their own fisheries. But don’t worry, there are plenty of kokes to be had at Stampede, a Tahoe-area fishing gem known for quality and quantity – and none of the overdevelopment of nearby lakes.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

DEPARTMENTS

53 59

13 19

63 73 103 109 113 125

Big year possible for Sac king anglers Colusa again to host duck calling championships Fly fishing for high-country goldens Targeting browns in Sierra creeks SoCal topwater bassing tips Proper paw care for gun dogs A shotgunner’s primer for upcoming bird seasons Exquisite Knives: fine blades for sportsmen, collectors

29 31 35 51 126

The Editor’s Note Protecting Wild California: Studying endangered desert pupfish Outdoor Calendar Adventures of Todd Kline Yo-Zuri, Browning photo contests winners Rig of the Month Last Laugh Cartoon

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 © 2018 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

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The Young Anglers Fishing Tournament in the San Diego area is a chance for kids to participate in a free fishing event. (SAN DIEGO SPORTFISHING COUNCIL) ow that I’m less concerned about catching fish – trust me when I say I was a sore loser as a little kid when I went home skunked – some of my happiest days on the water are when I’m near a young boy or girl who experiences the joy of reeling in a trout, a bluegill or a perch. This is why events like this month’s Young Anglers Fishing Tournament at Shelter Island Pier in Point Loma are so important. This has become one of the most popular showcases to get the younger generation excited about fishing. This year marks the 16th edition of a tournament that’s put on by the San Diego Sportfishing Council (619-234-8793; sportfishing.org/event/ young-anglers-tournament). It’s a free event open to kids aged 6 to 15. Tournament organizers will even provide tackle to those participants who need it, and that’s a huge part of what makes this such an important spot on the calendar (this year’s is scheduled for Aug. 11). I was lucky enough to always have a rod and reel and a tackle box full of hooks, sinkers and swivels, a jar of salmon eggs and even a bag full of marshmallows that we’d combine on our set-up to cast for planted rainbow trout. But some kids aren’t as fortunate and their parents might not have enough in their budget to have tackle to take their sons and daughters down to the local lake or pier. But thanks to sponsors for the Young Anglers Tournament (headed by Okuma, Squidco and Anglers Distributing), not only is this a free event with lunch provided but also gear to enjoy a day of fishing. So it’s a chance to get the younger generation excited about fishing and take a break from being entertained with electronic devices. Of course, when I was a kid Atari and that Coleco handheld football game weren’t quite as cool as today’s technology. But frankly I had more fun casting a line than pressing a joystick those days. Hopefully the kids in Point Loma will have their own, Hey Google, bait my hook moment. -Chris Cocoles

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PROTECTING

The Devils Hole pupfish population dipped to only 35 identified individuals in 2013. Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has successfully established a colony in a 100,000-gallon tank at the Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility in southern Nevada, predation by beetles has made recovery of eggs to create a captive-raised laboratory population nearly impossible. (OLIN FEURBACHER/USFWS)

WILD CALIFORNIA

HOPE FOR ENDANGERED DESERT-DWELLING FISH By John Heil

O

ne day in December 2017, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Olin Feuerbacher was working on a Saturday at the Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility – located just across the California border in southern Nevada – when he saw something that shocked him. While reviewing a DVR recording of one of the fish tanks, he witnessed a predaceous diving beetle ripping a Devils Hole pupfish larvae to shreds.

“I just about fell out of my seat,” said biologist Olin Feuerbacher. “I watched it for a minute or so and saw it repeated. A beetle tearing apart a 2-3 millimeter larvae.” (OLIN FEURBACHER/USFWS)

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Mitch Stanton of the Great Basin Institute deploys baited bucket beetle traps in the tank. He collected 169 beetles during a three-hour soak. (OLIN FEURBACHER/USFWS)

The tanks are constructed to mirror as close as possible, the pupfish’s natural habitat. (Desert pupfish can be found in streams in both Nevada and California.) “I just about fell out of my seat,” said Feuerbacher. “I watched it for a minute or so and saw it repeated. A beetle tearing apart a 2-3 millimeter larvae.” The Service was already conducting research with the National Park Service and University of Nevada, Reno, studying beetles in petri dishes to see how 20 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

often they would attack eggs or larvae – essentially proving predation. With video proof in hand, the results were confirmed – nothing was surviving beyond 4 millimeters. The Service needed to take action. The Devils Hole pupfish population dipped to only 35 identified individuals in 2013. Although the facility has been successful in establishing a colony of pupfish in their 100,000-gallon refuge tank, predation by beetles made recovery of eggs


PROTECTING

WILD CALIFORNIA

Feuerbacher counts Devils Hole pupfish in a tank at Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility. (AMBRE CHAUDOIN/NATIONAL PARK SERVICE)

to create a captive-raised laboratory population nearly impossible. Within a week of employing traps built by construction-maintenance specialist Rob Barlics and based on a

design from Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility staff, they saw immediate results. “We went from zero to one egg in a month to over 40 in a week,” said

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Feuerbacher. The first trapping attempt on March 22 removed 400 beetles. Subsequent attempts resulted in an average take of 150 beetles.


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Devils Hole pupfish don’t grow very big – at less than an inch long, they’re the smallest of the desert pupfish species. (OLIN FEURBACHER/USFWS)

The traps were modeled on previous controlled experiments in the lab, which noted that the beetles were fond of bloodworms, which ultimately could be used as bait. However, the challenges didn’t stop there.

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A fungal species continued to impact the fish eggs until biologists used antibiotics and antifungals to increase egg hatch rates from 1 percent to 40 percent recently. The results are that the facility produced five fish during the week of June 18-22. “With a population of only 130 fish, this is a significant accomplishment,” said Feuerbacher of the five fish. “Overall, our goal is to have a healthy captive population of fish and we feel like we are headed in the right direction,” said Mitch Stanton, research associate with the Great Basin Institute. “Eliminating the stressors like the predaceous diving beetles will help promote a robust growth in the population.” Feuerbacher and Stanton have seen a continued increase in the eggs collected with the latest numbers averaging between 50-100 per week. “The sky is the limit for us,” Stanton said. CS Editor’s note: John Heil is the deputy assistant regional director for external affairs at the USFWS Pacific Southwest Region headquarters in Sacramento. For more, go to fws.gov/cno.


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OUTDOOR CALENDAR

PROTECTING

WILD CALIFORNIA

AUGUST 11

11 11 11 15 18 18 18 25

Stampede Reservoir Team Kokanee Derby; kokaneepower.org/derbies.php Crowley Lake Stillwater Classic derby; (760) 935-4301 Young Anglers Fishing Tournament, Point Loma; sportfishing.org/event/young-anglers-tournament Zone A deer season opener Klamath River king salmon season opens Archery deer season openers in most B, C and D zones General pronghorn antelope buck season in most zones Falconry pheasant, quail, chukar, sooty grouse and white-tailed ptarmigan seasons open Zone B-4 deer season opener

SEPTEMBER 1

1 1-9 1-15 3 8

California Free Fishing Day; wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days Trinity River king salmon season opens Annettâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mono Village Labor Day Fishing Derby, Upper Twin Lakes; (760) 932-7071, monovillage.com Fall dove season Start of Ambush at the Lake derby, Convict Lake; (800) 992-2260; convictlake.com Shaver Lake Team Kokanee Derby, kokaneepower.org

Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deer hunting seasons get going in Zone A this month, with archery seasons in most B, C and D zones. (CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE)

8 15 15 22 22 29

Zone Q-1 mountain quail opener Deer openers in Zone C and Zone D 6-7 Deer season openers in Zones X-9a, X-9b and X-12 Deer openers in Zone D-3, D-4 and D-5 California Fly Fishing Open, Kern River; ssffclub.org Zone 2 quail opener

Note: For a complete list of bass fishing tournaments, go to dfg.ca.gov/FishingContests/default.aspx. For more details on hunting zones and regulations, check out wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting.

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

This time of year is always good for busting out the frogs. This largemouth ate the Savage Gear popping frog. (TODD KLINE)

I caught these donkeys on light line and a Coolbaits underspin. (TODD KLINE)

Kent and his daughter Jessica were visiting from Texas and wanted to try some bass fishing. They did so well the first trip that they hired me again for their two-week vacation. (TODD KLINE)

My friend, Okuma team partner and occasional California Sportsman correspondent Ty Ponder holds a good one caught on light tackle. (TODD KLINE)

Fishing in July was very good despite the warm temps. Here Ty and I hold some solid ones we caught at Lake El Capitan. (TODD KLINE)


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Myra Miller is the winner of our monthly Yo-Zuri Photo Contest. Her pic of her big birthday winter-run from last February scores her gear from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines!

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Jeff Benson is our monthly Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of son Jack and his southeast Washington spring gobbler, the lad’s first. 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. calsportsmanmag.com | AUGUST 2018 California Sportsman

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NORCAL

FROM FIELD ...

Deer decoys are effective on blacktails, whitetails and mule deer. Combine scents and calls with the decoys and they can be even more productive. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

’COY HUNTING PRINCIPLES WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO USE A DECOY? By Scott Haugen

O

ne of the biggest challenges faced by hunters, especially archery hunters, is getting close enough to big game in order to take an ethical shot. This is especially true in dry conditions, where stealthily stalking to within range can be all but impossible. Getting close to big game can be challenging during any season, which is why tools such as decoys can be game changers. Decoys can be used while hunting a lot of big game species. Combining calling with the use of scents and decoys can help you be even more effective.

Decoys are most commonly used by early-season archery elk hunters and late-season deer hunters, both in situations where rutting bulls and bucks respond well to them. However, don’t overlook the value of decoys when hunting bear, moose, or even predators.

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME? When using big game decoys, make sure you know of the situation and surroundings. Do not use big game decoys on general-season rifle hunts on public land due to the risk of attracting the attention of fellow hunters. Archery hunts are the most common applications for big game decoy use, followed by private land hunts using

both bow and rifle. Because decoys serve a specific purpose, it’s up to the hunter to know what that purpose is so they know which decoy to use. Different decoys send different messages. For instance, September elk hunters know decoys that attract the attention of bulls are key to success, as this is the time of the rut. Cow decoys are best for achieving this, and they come in a variety of poses. Montana Decoys (montanadecoy.com) are my favorite big game decoys to use. They are crafted from actual, high-resolution photographs, and these decoys are lightweight, easy to pack and quick to set up. There are several cow elk decoys to choose from. Some of my preferred ones create the illusion that the cow elk is heading away from an approach-

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NORCAL

... TO FIRE

BIG GAME AND A GARDEN PARTY By Tiffany Haugen

O

ne of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh garden vegetables. With so many things to do outdoors, spending time in the kitchen isn’t a priority, so having a one-pot meal that can be simmering away in a slow cooker, taken as a side dish to a potluck, or whipped up for hungry campers is always welcome. In addition, this is a great time of year to clear that freezer of big game meat to make room for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. This recipe has been used with deer, elk, moose, wild boar and goat meat. Because of the added veggies, this fresh, nutritious, flavorful chili is perfect for a simple, light summer dinner. 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoon for browning meat 1½ cups minced onion 2 cups chopped orange, red and/or yellow bell pepper 4 cloves minced garlic 2 teaspoons chili powder

1½ teaspoons cumin ½ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon ground oregano ½ teaspoon turmeric ½ teaspoon salt One 6-ounce can tomato paste One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes 1 pound ground or finely chopped wild game meat One 15-ounce can corn, drained or 1½ cups fresh or frozen corn Two 15-ounce cans beans, drained (black, kidney, pinto or black-eyed peas) 1 cup chopped spinach or baby kale 1 to 2 cups beef or vegetable broth Lime and chopped cilantro for garnish if desired In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and caramelize five to 10 minutes. Add peppers and garlic and sauté for five minutes. Add all spices and continue to sauté two minutes. Reduce to medium heat, adding tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Sauté until all liquid evaporates. Push tomato

40 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

For Tiffany Haugen, a garden full of veggies and herbs and a freezer full of big game means a light but delicious pot of chili. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

mixture to the edges of the pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the middle of the pan and brown meat for two to three minutes. Combine meat with tomato mixture; add corn, beans, greens and broth. Add as much broth as you would like – less for thick chili, more for a thinner chili. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to low, simmering five to 10 minutes before serving. Chili can also be put in a slow cooker and kept on low for several hours. Serve with tortilla chips if desired. Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany’s popular book Cooking Big Game, 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 TV show, and The Hunt on Netflix.


NORCAL

Big game decoys can be highly effective and work on a range of species. Here, a bowhunter sets up behind a pair of moose decoys made by Montana Decoy. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

ing bull. Using cow calls to attract a bull as soon as he pops into view, the idea is that he’ll see the cow decoy heading away from him and will step into high gear to get in front of her so he can herd her back to his harem. I also like cow decoys that look away from an approaching bull or are feeding, again to create a sense of urgency once he lays eyes on it.

DEER DECOYS Deer decoys can also be very effective, be it a doe, a doe and young buck combination or a buck decoy. Doe decoys can work all season long, as can young buck decoys, since they pique the curiosity of other deer. When the time comes for the rut, deer decoys can pull wary bucks from the thickest of cover. When deer hunting with decoys, I like taking a tail from a deer I’ve previously killed and that I’ve skinned out and dried. I’ll clip the tail to the rump of the decoy and place fresh doe urine on the tail. I’ll also add buck and doe urine to the ground and in a few nearby tree limbs. Applying urine to trees gets the scent off the ground so it can move in wind currents and carry long distances. The added value of scent targets a

deer’s sense of smell, and if calling, now you’re honing in on three of the buck’s senses in order to try and fool him. If bowhunting on the ground, decoys can be used as blinds to hide behind, as long as it’s safe. They can also be strategically placed if hunting from a treestand. Just make sure they are situated so that when an animal approaches, it stops in a position where you can get a clear shot. This is where is handy to have a call with you, so you can stop an animal right where you want it.

LOVIN' ’LOPES AND MORE If you’re lucky enough to draw a pronghorn tag, decoys might be worth using. Antelope respond more aggressively, not to mention readily, to decoys than almost all other big game, likely because hunting pressure is light on them. They are also very curious animals, plus a rutting buck can be very aggressive when it comes to rounding up does. For bear hunters, a fawn decoy can work wonders in the fall and late spring when and where legal seasons are open. Deer are a year-round food source for black bears. They prey on many deer and elk calves. In states where they can be hunted, fawn decoys also work when

42 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

There’s no rush like calling in a bull elk, then having him spot a decoy and move to within spitting distance of you. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

calling in cougars. Coyotes also respond to fawn decoys as well as rabbit and coyote decoys. If hunting farm fields for big game, predators and even waterfowl, don’t overlook the value of a decoy to serve as a blind. Montana Decoy makes a cow decoy, dubbed Big Red. I’ve used this bovine decoy to stalk within range of whitetails and mule deer. I have also relied on it as a goose blind on more than one occasion when setting up in green, open pastures. Pronghorn hunters love using cow decoys since antelope often range together with cattle. This season, see if the use of decoys can become part of your hunting repertoire. If there’s any doubt about rifle hunters being in your area, do not use a decoy. But if you’re on private land, or archery hunting, investing in some decoys can greatly boost your odds of success. CS Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s best-selling book Trophy Blacktails: The Science Of The Hunt, send $20 (free S&H), to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen.com. His new line of blacktail deer urine can also be ordered there. Follow Scott on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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NORCAL

AN UNLIKELY SALMON FACTORY A HUGE INCREASE IN FALL-RUN ADULTS PLUS MANY JACKS MEAN KLAMATH RIVER ANGLERS WILL STAY BUSY LANDING KINGS THIS FALL By Chris Cocoles

T

he Klamath River has been one of the state’s most productive and consistent rivers for producing Chinook salmon, and it appears the fall run will make for another good season. Just don’t expect to understand why this North Coast river is such a salmon factory. “It’s a complete anomaly in the world of salmon fishing in the sense that all science of logic says that salmon should not be able to survive in that thing in the fall,” longtime guide Tony Sepulveda says of the Klamath. The reason why this famed river bucks the trend? Its lack of cold water. “It’s freakishly warm. Right now it’s running about 78 degrees. It’s bathtub hot. All science, all literature says that salmon should not be able to live in that,” says Sepulveda of Greenwater Fishing Adventures (707-845-9588; greenwaterguides. com). “But those fish, for whatever reason, are conditioned to it. It’s probably not their preference and I’m sure they’d rather have it a little cooler. But that’s the reality.” “I’ve never seen a statement from science as to why those fish do what they do, but they do. Very normal temperatures are 68 to 72 degrees in the Klamath in the fall. And those fish come in and steelhead come with them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.” But the reality here is that plenty of fall-run kings will be in the Klamath again. The 359,200 adults projected to be in the ocean was a

Somehow, the Klamath River has maintained its spot as one of the North Coast’s king salmon fisheries despite higher water temperatures. (GREENWATER FISHING ADVENTURES)

significant increase from the 54,200 number in 2017. And Sepulveda thinks there will be even more jacks heading up the Klamath as he prepares to begin taking salmon trips on the river next month.

Ocean sport anglers are having a fantastic summer, with limits the norm in most boats and plenty of shakers being released. The tidewater area around the mouth of the Klamath was already full of fish by

calsportsmanmag.com | AUGUST 2018 California Sportsman

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NORCAL

“It’s freakishly warm. Right now it’s running about 78 degrees. It’s bathtub hot. All science, all literature says that salmon should not be able to live in that,” guide Tony Sepulveda says of the Klamath, which somehow produces nice Chinook like this. (GREENWATER FISHING ADVENTURES)

late July. “So that makes for a lot of fun – jacks on light spinning tackle. It’s doubles and triples and quadruple hook-ups as they come through,” Sepulveda says. “And there are going to be plenty of 3- and 4-year-old fish in the mix as well.” “Every year’s different, but there are some years that I’ve seen jacks so thick in the Klamath that it’s been just ridiculous. It actually makes for really fun fishing. There have been years when by noon you knock off because (anglers) are tired of reeling in fish.”

'A SIDE-DRIFT SHOW' In the early part of the fall-run season, there’s only one prudent way to target Klamath kings. “It’s a side-drift show, for the most part. There are some opportunities to run Kwikfish and we do a little of that. We’ll back-bounce roe in some of the deeper holes, especially as it gets later in the year. But September is kind of prime time on it, when a lot of those fish push into the river. And it’s also when it’s at its warmest,” he says. “When the river’s 78 degrees those fish don’t want to sit in deep, slow holes. For the most part they’re sitting in more oxygenated water, which is ripples. And it becomes a side-drifting game at that point, which is part of what makes

the Klamath so fun; you get to drift light tackle through steelhead ripples and get to catch big kings. That’s really cool.” With such an abundance of jacks in the water sure to keep anglers busy, Sepulveda thinks the opportunity to side-drift roe with light tackle is the perfect approach. Klamath kings aren’t always monsters, but it’s a good combination of adult fish that usually range between 10 and 25 pounds and the jacks that will rarely exceed 5 pounds. “I don’t love catching a jack when you’re pulling a Kwikfish on heavy tackle or back-bouncing. But here on the Klamath it’s light spinning gear – 15-pound mainline and 12-pound leader – and those jacks run everybody around,” he says. “And with plenty of adults in the mix and some fall steelhead as well, it’s just a cool fishery. (Jacks) are in the 3- to 4-pound range. It’s definitely enough fish to pull some line off your spinning reel and make you know you’ve got something.”

FISH IT WHILE YOU CAN With some decent to heavy rain the last two years, the water levels in the river should be fine, but the Klamath’s window as an elite fishery will stretch as long as the weather cooperates. Sepulveda has seen years when rain hasn’t affected the river until

46 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

The Klamath will have a lot of jacks swimming around this fall, so expect to catch and release a lot of smaller fish. Still, adult kings will be in the mix. (GREENWATER FISHING ADVENTURES)

well into the fall, keeping the Klamath buzzing into mid-November. But other autumns have brought storms as early as late September and washed out the river well before Halloween. So take advantage of expected good weather in August and especially September to get in what should be outstanding fishing. “When the rain comes and the rivers rise everybody will shift their attention to the Smith,” Sepulveda says of the river to the north of the Klamath. “Those Klamath fish will start to boogie as the river gets big. And you can still catch them on the Klamath for sure. But the Smith kind of steals the show once the water comes.” CS


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BAIT & TACKLE


CENTRAL VALLEY

SACRAMENTO COULD BE KING FOR KINGS CHINOOK ANGLERS MAY GET A COLD WATER BOOST DURING RIVER SEASON

With expected cooler water temperatures, the Sacramento River looks like a better option than the Feather for Central Valley fall-run king salmon anglers. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

By Chris Cocoles

C

ould the Sac be back? Guide Manuel Saldana Jr. thinks the Central Valley’s most productive fall-run Chinook fishing could be in the Sacramento, a reversal of last year, when the nearby Feather River was a better option for king anglers. “It may be a Sacramento River year because the water is colder on the Sac,” says Yuba City-based Saldana of MSJ Fishing Guide Service (530-301-7455; msjguideservice.com). “I haven’t been over to the Sac yet, but some buddies I’ve been talking to who have been looking around the Las Molinos area said the water temperature there is 58 degrees. That’s beautiful and like it used

to be. So unless we start getting cool water up the Feather, it might be a Sacramento year. These salmon are no dummies. Wherever they have access to cooler water, that’s where they’re going to go. Last year that was on the Feather.” But construction on the Lake Oroville Dam, which was damaged in 2017 and forced evacuations downstream on the Feather River – Saldana and his family were among those who left their homes – means that the Feather might not get a significant enough water release and lower surface temperatures. Saldana says the most water – albeit warm water – has been diverted into the Feather from the Thermalito Afterbay. “There are more bright fish being caught now than last year on the Sac.

So the Sac might just be back,” Saldana said after the mid-July opener. “It’s going to be pleasantly surprising up our rivers. I’m calling that it’s going to be better than last year. Things are on the upswing.”

SALMON IN THE SALT Northern California’s ocean salmon season has been nothing short of spectacular in the summer around the Bay Area, which you would think would be a boon for fishing as fall-run fish make their way through San Francisco Bay, then the Delta and finally the Central Valley rivers on their spawning run. But a few years ago, as drought conditions created dangerously warm river conditions, as many as 100,000 salmon were diverted to San

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CENTRAL VALLEY

“The one thing that you can do on the Sac that’s a little different than the Feather River, you can do bigger and longer stretches of boondoggling - turning your boat sideways and with a spinning rod, taking your roe and just dragging it,” Saldana (above) says of catching nice Sacramento River Chinook. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

Francisco and San Pablo Bays as part of a five-year project. As many of the fish on a three-year cycle are making their way back into freshwater, Saldana thinks the salmon are a bit confused and delaying their journey. “We’ll get our chance with these fish to come on up, but they halfway think that they are home already be-

cause they were released in the salt.” Saldana says. “Due to the year with low water, they didn’t want to put them in the river, which made sense because where they dropped them it was going to be in the heat. But now these salmon have kind of gotten used to the saltwater down there.” But even with that variable,

54 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com

229,400 Sacramento River fall-run salmon were projected to be in the ocean in the spring, so there should be fish in the Sac by the time Saldana begins to fish for kings full time next month. Anglers can catch fish now, but the water temperatures will begin to get a bit cooler later this summer during the transition to fall and its more viable conditions. “In my years of experience, I used to be gung ho (early); now you won’t see me until mid-September,” Saldana says. “Because when the water’s hot it’s a crapshoot. They’re catching fish now and will be from mid-August on. But it really will get going in September and October. It will be game on.”

A ‘BOON’ FOR FISHING One major difference the Sacramento provides salmon anglers is the ability to boondoggle its long, wide stretches, which isn’t as feasible on the more narrow Feather. “You can do bigger and longer


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With a projected 229,400 Sacramento fall-run kings in the PaciďŹ c this past spring, this year wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be a banner run, but Saldana sees a better-than-expected season on the Sac. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Things are on the upswing,â&#x20AC;? the longtime guide says. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

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stretches of boondoggling â&#x20AC;&#x201C; turning your boat sideways and with a spinning rod, taking your roe and just dragging it,â&#x20AC;? Saldana says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to be tinkling your weight next to the bottom and have that roe really close to the bottom. The Sacramento is wider and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s longer in bigger stretches. The Feather River is smaller, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not as wide and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got little pockets. So itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s harder to boondoggle. On the Sacramento you have these runways that make it easier to boondoggle.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;And then you have your traditional FlatFish or your Bradâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Killer Fish (to plug with) or hang eggs. Or third, you can troll some spinners downriver because you have those little bit longer runways.â&#x20AC;? If he indeed leans more toward targeting the Sacramento than the Feather, Saldana will ďŹ sh around Chico at the Irvine Finch Boat Ramp to the north towards Los Molinos, where his friends had been scouting. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because the waterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be cooler there. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all about the temperature. The salmon donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to hold up and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to bite. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re coming from the ocean where itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cool,â&#x20AC;? Saldana says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And then you come into (essentially) bathtub water until they reach the cooler water. So the ďŹ sh are not going to hold. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to take off and swim all night long, sit in the holes, and as soon as it gets dark again, boom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re basically on a marathon until they reach cooler water.â&#x20AC;? CS


calsportsmanmag.com | AUGUST 2018 California Sportsman

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CENTRAL VALLEY

IT’S TIME TO CALL STATE DUCK CALLING CONTEST RETURNS TO COLUSA THIS MONTH

C

alling all duck callers, outdoor sportsmen and -women and families. Enjoy a great afternoon of fun, food and entertainment when Kittle’s Outdoor Sports presents the 2018 California State Champion Duck Calling Competition from Aug. 25-26 at Colusa’s Veterans Memorial Park. Besides the competitors, vendors, concessions, new product displays, exhibits, and special guests, including Missouri-based Keith Allen of Avery/Banded Gear and Arkansan Jim Ronquest of Rich in Tone Duck Calls, will also be on hand. There will be many factory rep-

California’s best duck callers will be returning to Colusa on Aug. 25-26 for the state championships. (SUE GRAUE PHOTOGRAPHY)

resentatives in Kittles’ store during the weekend too, including from Hevi-Shot, Benelli, Kent Cartridges, Browning, Fiocchi, Beretta, Federal, Mojo, Winchester, Avery, Remington, Sitka Gear, Avian X, plus many more. Feel free to ask questions of all the company reps. Several contests will be included in the competition, with the state

duck calling champion representing California at late November’s World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Kittle’s Outdoor offers the largest and best online shopping opportunities for hunters and anglers. For more information, check out kittlesoutdoor.com or call (530) 458HUNT. CS

While there is a berth in the world championship in Stuttgart, Arkansas, on the line, there are other competitions such as junior speck calling. (SUE GRAUE PHOTOGRAPHY)

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60 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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calsportsmanmag.com | APRIL 2018 California Sportsman

61


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800.624.4480 www.coffeecreekranch.com 62 California Sportsman MAY 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


SIERRA

HE’S IN A GOLDEN STATE

ICONIC TROUT, OLD ROD SPARK RENEWED INTEREST IN FLY FISHING By Tim E. Hovey

W

hen I turned 10, my dad handed me a brightly wrapped birthday present. With youthful enthusiasm, I ripped through the wrapping paper to reveal my prize: a two-piece fly rod combo with a canvas carrying case, a reel filled with bright green line as thick as pencil lead and a very short instruction booklet. I wasted no time in assembling the combo rod and headed to the backyard to test it out. With zero previous experience and referencing the casting manual, the suggested 10-and-2 arm position was quickly swinging from 9 to 3 as I whipped the heavy string through the air. The next month, during a camping trip, I headed down to the lakeshore to test my skill, or lack thereof. The next hour was wrought with tangled line, hooked bushes and utter, youthful frustration. Another trip the following month resulted in much of the same. Too young to understand the subtleties of the technique and lacking any real patience, I left the rod in the closet unused for more years than I’m comfortable mentioning.

DUSTING OFF THE FLY GEAR At the beginning of May, my good friend Ed Davis gave me a call since he was planning a quick fly fishing trip to the Sierra at the beginning of July and wanted to know if I would like to go. In the dozen years I’ve

A Sierra stream, iconic golden trout and a dusty, 40-plusyear-old fly rod and reel made for a fantastic combination for author Tim Hovey to try fly fishing again. (TIM E. HOVEY)

known Ed, I don’t think I’ve ever declined an offer to tag along. The plan was to head to an area he hadn’t been to in over 15 years and fly fish for golden trout. Since I didn’t have any real fly fishing gear, Ed agreed to set me up with what I needed. After we spoke, I remembered the fly rod my dad had given me. Amazingly, it took less than 10 minutes to find the old two-piece rod stacked with the 40 others in the garage. The reel was in a workbench drawer.

As I assembled the combo, I thought about how long it had been since the rod had been complete. I ran the faded line through the eyelets and gently swung it in the driveway. It felt solid. As I brushed the dust off the rod, I decided right then and there that I was going to use it for the upcoming trip and catch my first fish with it.

HEADING TO THE HIGH COUNTRY Ed and I met up at 5 a.m. and head-

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SIERRA ed out to the high desert. While we drove, we talked about our last fly fishing trip. Years earlier, Ed and I had gone on a two-day hunting and fishing trip in the Sierra. That was my first real fly fishing trip, and while I did catch several trout, the technique still failed to grab me as an interest. But I was back for more. As the sun came up, we left the desert floor and started the climb into the high mountains. It was supposed to be a scorcher in the basin, but our destination – an elevation a little shy of 10,000 feet – was reporting temperature in the mid-70s. We parked at the trailhead and got set up. Ed handed me a small container filled with tiny flies. He pointed out a few good patterns and I tied one on to the hair-like tippet. We hiked the well-worn trail through the tall pines, some blackened and needleless, the result of being struck by lightning during moun-

tain thunderstorms. A short distance from the truck, we followed the rough trail down to a narrow creek and left the trees behind. The terrain opened up to a huge meadow sprinkled with boulders and barking marmots. Surrounding the grassy flatland on all sides were the sharp ridges of the High Sierra. If you didn’t know the winding creek

was there, you could walk right by it. Except for a six-horse packing team moving into the low hills at the edge of the meadow, Ed and I had the entire stream to ourselves.

TEST-DRIVING THE OLD ROD Before we got started, Ed took the old rod from me and tested out the action. He stripped out several feet

Ed Davis stealthily casts his fly towards a small creek. (TIM E. HOVEY)

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SIERRA

Dry flies worked out pretty well on this day. (TIM E. HOVEY)

Ed was a good sport for his less experienced fly guy friend as he helped untangle line. (TIM E. HOVEY)

of fly line as he demonstrated perfect form. He took a few steps towards the creek and presented the Parachute Adams fly perfectly in a deep backwater bend of the creek. I cringed. The fly sat motionless and then Ed switched it to life. I cringed again. Thankfully, the lesson didn’t result in Ed catching the first fish on the fly rod my dad had given me. He handed the rod back and gave me a few more brief lessons on cast-

ing and showed me some good places to start. He then moved upstream and started fishing. I slowly approached the water in front of me and spotted several small trout racing for cover. I noticed that even though the fish couldn’t see me, they detected my movement through the spongy grass near the water’s edge.

SLOW STARTER With absolutely no practice since my

last fly fishing trip with Ed, my initial casts were clumsy and awkward; my presentations were short and usually partially tangled. I was concentrating on one of those tangles when I heard Ed celebrating upstream. He had his fly rod up above his head and the bend in the tip told me he had hooked a trout. He brought over the small, brilliantly colored fish and I took a few photos. Before he released it, I took

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SIERRA Ed with one of the small but gorgeous goldens the anglers caught on a glorious summer day 10,000 feet up in the Sierra. (TIM E. HOVEY)

a few moments to really check it out and admire it. The bright orange chin and belly melted to a golden color along the side of the fish. Parr marks ran the length of the trout over a red band on its side. Black dots began at the tail and then stopped once they met the fish’s body, almost like someone had decided to stop painting. The golden trout, California’s state fish, is truly beautiful. I’ve caught lots of species of fish in a lifetime of angling, but I had never landed a golden trout. Watching Ed release his first fish of the day, I became determined to catch a golden of my own.

IMPROVEMENT, THEN A GOLDEN After a few more casting pointers from Ed, I started making better casts. I found a small bend in the creek and, with a decent roll of the line, presented the fly. It settled on the surface and sat motionless. A dark shape rushed from the undercut and grabbed the fake bug. I tightened the line, raised the rod and lifted my first golden trout onto the bank. I yelled to Ed and he hurried back to check out the trout. I carefully cradled the small fish in my hands and something just clicked. I don’t know if it was watching the trout take the fly, the almost flawless, albeit lucky cast, or the fact that I had caught my first golden trout with a fly rod my dad had given me more than 40 years earlier, but I was hooked. I quickly released the golden and crept up to the next stretch of water. I spent the next 90 minutes practicing my casting and catching fish. Being a 7-weight, the old rod was a little stiff for the task, but I wouldn’t have wanted to use anything else. With every cast and every catch, I felt a true satisfaction in that awesome spot my friend Ed had shown me. I was lost in the stalk when I heard a whistle from near the trail. I looked over and Ed was standing on a boulder waving. I had hiked further than I thought and Ed was reeling me back in. 68 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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For the author, catching a golden trout with the old fly rod his dad gave him decades earlier made it a nostalgic experience. (TIM E. HOVEY)

CLOSING THE LOOP Back on the trail, we talked about our time on the creek. Ed was relieved that after 15 years, one of his favorite golden trout spots was unchanged. I could tell that this place was special to Ed and I was beyond grateful that he had invited me to see it. We made one more stop on the way out and each caught another trout. As we drove back down to the desert floor, Ed patiently answered my questions on fly fishing gear, types of flies – and when we were going again. Looking back, I can say that my early introduction to fly fishing was the exact reason that it failed to stick with me originally. I was only interested in hooking and catching fish back then and I don’t feel I was mature enough to try anything new. Now, after my golden trout trip with Ed, I was prepared to make up for lost time. Four days afterwards, my new 5-weight fly rod combo arrived at the door. Just like I had done with the rod my dad had given me, I assembled it and headed out to give it a try. My casts were crisp and practiced, and the bright green line glided in perfect arcs. I texted Ed a photo of the new rod and followed up with a simple message. “Pick me up. Bring flies!” CS


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SIERRA

GOING SMALL PAYS OFF BIG

Just because the water is small or known primarily for stocker rainbows doesn’t mean there won’t be a big payout for brown trout anglers in the Eastern Sierra. Modest-sized creeks can hold nice ones. (MIKE STEVENS)

EASTERN SIERRA CREEKS CAN CHURN OUT SOME BROWN TROUT By Mike Stevens

T

he idea of brown trout fishing in the Eastern Sierra immediately conjures up several common images: Trolling plugs in Crowley, Grant Lake or the big water in Bridgeport, ripping jerkbaits in Silver Lake or Rush Creek, or stripping big streamers in the Owens and Walker Rivers. There’s good reason for that, especially for hunters of trophy German browns, but there is much more to

the Sierra brown trout picture, and most of it is hidden in plain sight.

LOOKING FOR NUMBERS “Brown baggers” are a specialized minority. It’s fun to keep tabs on where the big ones are caught each fall, but there are way more anglers – even this late in the season – up there

fishing for trout (of any species) that are short of forearm size. They are also more interested in piling up numbers with the chance at happening upon a bigger one. Some of them want to target brown trout, perhaps after a summer of wailing on hatchery rainbows, and that can be done in the majority of the

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SIERRA popular campground creeks that got hammered all season long. The trick is doing a little map reading and seeking out stretches of creeks that don’t get the angler pressure because they’re far from the stocking areas, or just harder to get to. Stocked rainbows are meant to be caught, so in the interest of drawing the almighty tourism dollar, agencies like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have always published where their fish are delivered with notes like “Fish are stocked at access points from the outlet of Lake ‘X’ down through Campground ‘Y’” or “from ‘so and so’ bridge downstream to the highway.” Info like that has been found in area guides (and now the internet) for decades, and as a result, those are the stretches that get the most angler attention.

SEEK A CREEK But what about beyond those areas? Browns are everywhere and the creeks they can be caught in with this basic game plan are household names for even the casual Eastern Sierra trouthead: Convict, Mammoth, Bishop, McGee and Rock, just to name a few of the standards. I have found that venturing above and/or below those published access points for stocking all but guarantees running into more browns than rainbows. And that could be for a number of reasons, including less angler pressure, not having to compete with hatchery fish for food and in some cases, it’s just gnarlier, sticky, rocky, brushy stuff that brownies tend to gravitate toward. When it comes down to it, these stretches are not stocking “access points” for a reason. I’m not going to give turn-by-turn directions, as I am not interested in receiving a box full of trout guts in the mail, but I will give some examples that can be easily applied to other such creeks for similar results.

MAGNIFICENT MAMMOTH On Mammoth Creek, there are

two primary stretches that get the majority of the heat from summer anglers: right there in town where Old Mammoth Road crosses the creek, down past the museum a ways, and through a meadow downstream of Highway 395 to a parking area right near a popular pool. Well, that creek flows from the outlet waterfall at Twin Lakes through an unfishable canyon before leveling off well upstream of the Old Mammoth Road crossing. I once explored the lower reaches of that stretch, which included a run through a meadow behind the driving range where the creek runs almost completely under a thick overhead canopy of trees. I ran into nothing but 8- to 12inch browns there. Swinging small Floating Rapalas, spinners and jigs downstream under the foliage and retrieving slowly back upstream was all it took. I mentioned it to a guy in a local tackle shop, and he said he does the same thing with dry flies on his lunch breaks. Those browns aren’t picky about which bugs are being floated back to them either. Below that meadow by the highway are a couple fishable pools that get hit pretty hard before the channel narrows and there’s a lot more whitewater, sticks and brush that casual egg dunkers are comfortable dealing with. Looking for the same kind of effect, I headed down there and caught browns doing whatever it took to sink a jig, plop a dry fly or get the blade turning on a Rooster Tail in the small but obvious calm spots next to the whitewater. A fish or two per hole at the cost of an above average rate of “donated” lures, but for wild brown trout within 50 yards of stocker country ...

SMALL FISH, BIG FUN We aren’t talking about monster fish here, but for someone looking to complete a “Sierra Grand Slam” or just take their fishing to the next level and target wild trout, this is all good to know.

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They may not be the size of fish brown baggers target well after summer, but you’ll get a nice fight and have fun fishing for the trout now. (MIKE STEVENS)

But even in this setting, big fish are possible. Convict Creek has some tankers in its history, too. When you look at the trout picture on that creek, it’s pounded by anglers between Convict Lake’s outlet and down through the campground where there is a good supply of hatchery rainbows and lake escapees. The makeup of the creek to just before Highway 395 is basically whitewater, waterfall and plunge pool the whole way. Anglers barely touch it, but browns are scattered throughout that stretch and can be caught in calm spots adjacent to whitewater. They also can be caught in the plunge pools by using stuff heavy enough to dive through the turmoil near the surface and reach the calmer water down below the whitewater near the surface that sends most anglers looking elsewhere. Trout will sit at the bottom of those pools below the current where they are saving energy in highly oxygenated water that also delivers food right to them. Tactics that can get them include vertical jigging a Thomas Buoyant after a cast into the waterfall, sending down a jig or small swimbait with a heavier 1/8- to ¼-ounce jighead. You can also send down a trout worm on a single hook and ¼-ounce sliding egg sinker or big split shot. There are no shortages of these waterfalls into pools, and if there are fish in them they’ll bite immediate-


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SIERRA ly. If not, onto the next.

LEGWORK AND MAPWORK Convict Creek – and McGee Creek, for that matter – runs through the Long Valley Caldera (that big open space above Lake Crowley where the upper Owens is) all the way to Crowley. It’s just that you never see anything published about it. Despite the “open field” nature of that area and the fact getting to the fishable water is uncomfortable if not treacherous, those are straightup brown trout hatcheries. It all boils down to this: Grab a map of the area you want to fish. Mark the area(s) described in area fishing guides (find the Eastern Sierra Fishing Guide produced annually by the Inyo Register online), and then pick up a print version next year in the Sierra aisle at the Fred Hall Show or just about anywhere along Highway 395. It contains detailed

maps as well as locations stocking location details, something you can use a highlighter pen to mark. Focus your attention on that creek both above and below the area you highlighted. If it’s fishable – even with some elbow grease – that’s where you are going to find brown trout in even the most wellknown creeks. Rush Creek is an exception because the main fishing area is the whole stretch between Silver and Grant Lakes, so there is no getting above or beyond it other than hitting the fly-fishing-only stretch running from Grant to Mono Lake.

BONUS ’BOWS Another bonus an angler can run into in these areas are “seasoned” hatchery rainbows that have moved up or down into these zones and have gone unpestered for at least a month or so, if not from one season to the next. These fish have been eating like a wild

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Fishing clear waters in a gorgeous setting for goodsized brownies makes for a great day in the Eastern Sierra. (MIKE STEVENS)

fish and not seeing many lures, if any, and they are exceptionally aggressive. When you connect with one, you can immediately tell they have a little something extra compared to their brain-dead brethren getting salmon-egged to death upstream. It’s almost as if they think they’re a brown trout. CS


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A KOKANEE

SIERRA

STAMPEDE

POPULAR TAHOE-TRUCKEE LAKE CHURNING OUT PLENTY OF FISH By Chris Cocoles

S

tampede Reservoir just might be ground zero for California’s kokanee fishing culture. “Stampede is where you get all the eggs for pretty much all the lakes in California where they plant kokanee in,” says James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service (888-975-0990; fishtightlines.com. “So they plant it heavier than in other lakes because they want to return so they can make more eggs and get more fish for other lakes.”

Stampede Reservoir, located just north of Truckee and sometimes overlooked compared to the resort areas of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, provides arguably the state’s best kokanee fishing. (BRANDON MIYASAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES) calsportsmanmag.com | AUGUST 2018 California Sportsman

81


SIERRA Stampede, a 3,400-acre lake located just north of Truckee, provides Tahoe-angler areas with not only a premier kokanee fishery but also an alternative for those wanting to get away from it all. “The great thing about Stampede is that there’s no houses, no condos, no hotels. You go around Donner Lake and that’s all you see – houses on top of hotels on top of condos. The same thing can be said about Tahoe, over at least half of that lake,” says Netzel. That’s not to say that just because Stampede isn’t as overdeveloped as Donner and Tahoe it is void of fishing pressure. Netzel said June was particularly busy, with anywhere from 50 to 70 boats launching daily. The number of crafts has since decreased to a more manageable 20 on weekdays and maybe 30 or 40 on weekends. Netzel, who’s based in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis, often will take his camper up to the Sierra and spend a week guiding summer kokanee trips. “There are always fish there to catch and it really starts in midMay. I stop fishing it in mid-September; not because the fishing drops off but the tourists stop (coming),” he says. “But you can

“There are always fish there to catch and it really starts in mid-May,” says guide James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service. “You can fish them probably until October when they start spawning.” (BRANDON MIYASAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES)

fish them probably until October when they start spawning.”

COMEBACK FROM THE DROUGHT A few years back, when Netzel took

over Tight Lines from now-retired guide Rick Kennedy, Stampede was typically low due to the severe drought conditions in California. Launching boats was a challenge

One of the other fishing fanatics at Stampede, an American white pelican takes wing. (BRANDON MIYASAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES) 82 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


SIERRA

“The great thing about Stampede is that there’s no houses, no condos, no hotels,” says Netzel, comparing the relative serenity to nearby Lake Tahoe. (BRANDON MIAYSAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES)

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The drought that a few years ago reduced Stampede to a muddy mess might have increased the average size of kokanee. Anglers can now regularly land keepers averaging close to 17 inches. (BRANDON MIAYSAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES)

unless you had a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle. “The first time I took (Tight Lines) over, we were launching into mud about 150 feet below the ramp,” says Netzel. But the drought might have benefitted the size of Stampede’s fish. “Typically at this lake you’ll average about 13-inch- or 14-inchsized kokanee. But the only good thing that came out of the drought was with the lake being low, it concentrated the blanket and it made the kokanee bigger, I guess. Biologists don’t know either, but for the past four years those kokanee have been way larger than average. Average-size keepers right now are between 14 and 17 inches.”

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SIERRA The Miyasaki family had a fantastic day on Stampede, where catching limits of kokanee is a frequent occurence. (BRANDON MIYASAKI/SHOT ARCHIVES)

the High Sierra sun begins to shine on the water. And trolling is the name of the game. Though Netzel says kokanee can be caught with jigs when there are large schools, using a dodger

with a hoochie seems like the most prudent approach for putting together a five-fish limit. “I like to troll 1.2 mph this time of year. And when we get into August, I like to slow it down to 0.8 mph. I

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see a lot of guys trolling too fast at 1.5 to 2 mph,” Netzel says. “We’re pulling downriggers because the fish are down to anywhere from 50 to 75 to 80 feet. And you don’t just target one depth; I’ve got four downriggers so we can target four depths. We’ll constantly move them as the fish are moving.” One factor to remember when setting up your dodger and hoochie is to keep an eye on the leader length. “When you buy your kokanee lures – your hoochies – they come with 3 feet of monofilament line. I see a lot of people putting the 3 feet of mono to the end of their dodger and that is way too much. I’m 8 to 12 inches from my dodger,” Netzel says. “(The longer line) defeats the purpose of having a dodger. When you have a dodger, it goes back and forth and when it does that, your hoochie kind of skips a little bit. When you have too long of a leader, that dodger’s doing absolutely nothing to your hoochie.” CS


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SOCAL

THE SPORTSMAN’S DREAM WEEKEND

With a three-day summer weekend at their disposal, author Tim Hovey and John Mattila managed to squeeze in fishing for barred surfperch, calling in a coyote and chasing rabbits in oppressive desert heat. (TIM E. HOVEY)

THREE DAYS AFIELD FEATURE SURFPERCH, COYOTES AND RABBITS By Tim E. Hovey

T

he phone call had just shortened my workweek. My boss called and said that I still had a mandatory state-mandated day off on the books that would expire by the first of July if I didn’t take it in

the ensuing few days. Needless to say, I unexpectedly had a Friday off. With the cottontail opener on Sunday, July 1, I already had weekend plans with my good friend John Mattila. We were headed out to the hunting grounds on Saturday afternoon to spend the night in the des-

ert. We’d wake early the day of the opener and chase rabbits before it got too hot to hunt. Since I now had Friday off, I decided to head to the coast to fish for barred surfperch. I texted John, who also happened to have the day off, and asked him if he wanted to head to the beach. He texted back that he was in and we confirmed the plans. His next text start-

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SOCAL

The author with his surfperch. He and his buddy would soon trade the breeze at the beach for the soaring temps of the desert where they’d head next. (TIM E. HOVEY)

ed my sportsman’s wheels turning. I had taken John out predator hunting a few times and we hadn’t had much luck. Since we were headed to the desert before the cottontail opener, John wanted to know if we could toss the rifles in the truck and do a little coyote calling Saturday afternoon. I usually don’t hunt predators in the desert this time of year because it’s simply too hot. However, since we were already going to be out there, I thought we might as well add coyote hunting to the list. With the growing number of outdoor activities popping up, I decided it was time to start planning the “Sportsman’s Weekend.” Referencing the tide and surf report, it looked like early Friday morning would be the best time to hit the coast for barred surfperch. Saturday I would pack the hunting gear, pick up John and head out to the desert in the afternoon. They were calling for a midday temperature out there

of 107 degrees, with a late afternoon cooldown in the low 90s. Still a bit toasty, but I’ve called coyotes in worse. Sunday we’d have a couple hours to chase rabbits before the late-morning temperature started to climb.

FRIDAY I picked John up at 7 a.m. and we headed to the coast and cooler temperatures. We pulled right up to the beach and grabbed our gear. Casting our standard Berkley Sandworms on Carolina rigs, John caught a small surfperch on his first cast. As the tide started to shift, we started getting into larger perch. At this time of year, the fish are usually about the size of your hand. Fishing the incoming tide, I hooked into a solid 1-pounder. I walked it down to John and let the big fish go after a few photos. The morning sun burned off the overcast and the bites kept coming. John added a second species to the fish count by landing a nice corbina at the end of the morning. Out of bait and worn out, we ended the surf casting session at around noon. With close to 20 good-sized perch apiece, I can say that day one of the Sportsman’s Weekend was a success.

SATURDAY

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Our perch fix fulfilled, I switched gears and started getting my hunting gear ready. On the drive home from the coast the day before, John had mentioned how excited he was to try calling coyotes again. Despite his enthusiasm, I knew that getting a coyote to respond in the heat was going to be tough. Of the three outdoor days I had planned, I knew scoring on day two was going to be a challenge. With temperatures still in the high 90s, we pulled off into the hunting area, where jackrabbits raced across the road in front of us. At the end of the dirt road, we stopped and glassed for cottontail rabbits. With the extreme midafternoon heat, I wasn’t surprised we didn’t see any.


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SOCAL We drove back into another canyon and set up camp. With only an hour of daylight left, we raced over to a coyote stand I’ve called dozens of times. We hiked in and got set up. All conditions except air temperature were perfect. After setting out the caller, I sat down and looked over at John. He nodded and we got started. It was 95 degrees at 7 p.m. and I had absolutely no confidence that anything would show. About five minutes in I heard John signal me quietly. I glanced to my right and saw a coyote slowly trotting away. I swung the Ruger .204 over and found the moving coyote in the scope. He was weaving in and out of the brush at 100 yards and not giving me much of a shot. He cut into an opening and I fired – a clean miss. A half-minute later he was out at 250 yards slowly trotting broadside. I placed the crosshairs a full coyote’s length in front of him and squeezed

Mattila also managed to land a corbina from the shore. (TIM E. HOVEY)

the trigger. The animal dropped from sight. John and I hiked out and found the dead coyote. We hiked back to the truck and tried one more calling stand before it got too dark to see. When I had planned this weekend, I knew getting a coyote to respond this time of year was going to be hard to do. With a predator on the ground, I felt a little relieved. Back at camp, we ended the evening watching the distant headlights

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travel the highway and toasted our day two success with a few beers. John mentioned how cool it was to finally see a coyote come in to the call. I told him when the weather cooled later in the season, we’d head out again. With an early start to the next day, we turned in at around midnight.

SUNDAY The desert winds hounded us most of the night. Sleep was infrequent and


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SOCAL brief. With the sun still below the horizon, we drove back to the area we had glassed the evening before and started walking the dry drainage looking for rabbits. Cottontails are far more active in the morning, as they feed through the cooler part of the evening. Walking areas near a consistent water source is a great way to put a few rabbits in the freezer. Even before the sun was up, I could tell it was going to be an exceptionally hot day. I hadn’t gone 100 yards and I was already wiping sweat and sunscreen from my eyes. For the first 30 minutes I didn’t see a single rabbit. A few shots from John further up the creek told me that at least he was. I wiped more sweat from my brow and hunted on. A few minutes later I spotted my first cottontail cutting up a trail and dropped it there with the trusty Browning 12-gauge. I collected the

The guys set up camp in the remote high desert of Southern California. (TIM E. HOVEY)

rabbit and started hiking out of the creek. Up on the hill I scored my first ever cottontail triple. I kicked up three rabbits that took off in three different directions. Luckily I was able to drop all three in quick succession. By 8 a.m. it was 90 degrees. John ended the short hunt with three cottontails and I limited out. We drove back to camp and field-dressed the rabbits to get them on ice. Afterwards, we broke camp and headed

home, exhausted but satisfied with how the weekend had unfolded.

WHAT A WEEKEND! In less than 48 hours, John and I had successfully fished the coast, somehow convinced a coyote to come to the call in the desert heat and put a few cottontails in the cooler during a very warm rabbit opener. The Sportsman’s Weekend had been planned well from the very

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The sportsmen wrapped up this whirlwind tour of the beach and the desert by filling their cooler with cottontails. “Our careful planning had resulted in a tiring but successful weekend,” Hovey wrote. (TIM E. HOVEY)

beginning. We made sure we had put ourselves in places that would give us the best opportunity for success over the next two days. Both John and I have caught fish with proven techniques at the coast for years. We’ve consistently landed barred surfperch on that stretch of beach on just about every trip. When John wanted to call coyotes on Saturday evening, I chose to set up in an area where I have had a lot of success hunting coyotes. Lastly, our rabbit spot has consistently produced rabbits during the opener over the last decade, and I have personally limited out in that section of the drainage over the last several years. Our careful planning had resulted in a tiring but successful weekend. Sportsmen understand that fish and wildlife are never 100 percent reliable in their behaviors or abundance. Sometimes the fish aren’t biting and sometimes environmental conditions beyond my control will impact wildlife presence and movement. I always consider myself lucky whenever I have a successful trip out in the wild. And while I do consider myself a lucky sportsman, I also know that luck favors the prepared. CS


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SOCAL

CALL IT SOCAL-ICO

Some more experienced fishermen go with braided line like the new Daiwa J8 or Maxima in 50- to 60-pound test. This line will cut right through the kelp when the bass dive into it to escape. You definitely want a rod with some backbone. Daiwa’s Proteus rods in casting or spinning will do the trick to pull them out.

WATCH THE CURRENT Although tides don’t always affect the ocean current, they do go hand in hand most of the time. Check to make sure you have a moving tide the day you are going to fish. The incoming tide is best, but it’s not that important when the bass are feeding. The absolute best current is down and in, so watch for the tips of the kelp stringers to be laying to the south and in towards the beach. This usually means the current is pulling the schools of anchovy, for example, into the home of calicos, and they will go crazy feeding on the bait. A lot of times you can see the bass boiling on the surface, their entire backs coming out of the water as they give chase. Watch for birds diving on the scraps.

FISHING THE KELP

Author Bill Schaefer hoists a nice calico taken on a weedless jighead and swimbait. The heart of summer is a great time to target these feisty saltwater bass. (BILL SCHAEFER)

SALTWATER BASS BITING ALONG SOUTHLAND COAST By Capt. Bill Schaefer

I

f you love inshore calico fishing, then right now is a time when you can really score and have a lot of fun. Have a buddy you want to get into fishing, or a son or daughter you want to show the ropes? Take them out to your local kelp right now. Bass are schooled up and chasing bait in and around the beds. Roving wolf packs of calicos that will at-

tack almost anything are right now on the prowl. When you hook one, usually several others will be trying to take the bait out of its mouth.

IT ALL WORKS For bait, everything works this time of year: live bait, soft plastic baits, and even crankbaits and stickbaits. For tackle a good triggerstick or spinning rod with about 15-pound test – I like Maxima 15-pound Ultragreen line – works well.

So remember that the bass live around the kelp. You will have to fish around it. When the stringers are pulled under the water a few feet, you can fish over them with iron jigs, plastic swimbaits, or shallow diving stick- or crankbaits. If the stringers are lying on top, then work the alleyways that form. The same baits suffice, but you have to work them down a narrow alleyway of kelp. And if you want to chase the giants into the kelp, then weedless swimbaits are the way to go. You can race them over the floating kelp and pause at openings in the stringers. The bass will explode up, out and take your bait. There’s nothing like it! CS

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TOIL AT THE ‘BOILS’

SOCAL Larger bass will often take a small popper when they are in a feeding frenzy. (BILL SCHAEFER)

BASS TOPWATER BITE HEATS UP IN LATE SUMMER By Bill Schaefer

I

t is that time of year when I personally get more excited about fishing my local lakes. As largemouth bass chase shad around, topwater fishing really takes off at Southern California waters. No matter your favorite lake, the surface should look like a “tuna boil” is going on as bass round up baitfish for their eating pleasure. Glassy mornings with little wind will show off the feeding frenzy as bass erupt on forage fish. A quick hint for you if the wind is up or the bass seem to go down: Don’t stand idle on the front of your boat waiting for them to show you where they are. Instead, you can blind cast with a small 3- to 4-inch swimbait in a shad color and many times pick off bass before they even show themselves again. I have had just as good days when I’ve metered schools of bass below and thrown small swimbaits blindly. Another hint is to cast out as far as you can, let the bait sink a bit and race it back to the boat. The high-speed retrieve will make the bait look like a shad that is racing to get away. The bass don’t have time to inspect it as it races by and they eat it. The right tackle will help, as the longer you can cast the better. You will be out in the middle of the lake

most of the time in these situations, so you can go a little lighter on your line choice. Light monofilament casts well – think Maxima 6-pound Ultragreen – but I also like 10- to 20-pound braided Maxima or Daiwa J8 Braid because it is the diameter of 2- to 4-pound mono. If you fill your spool out to the edge and just use a short mono leader, you will be able to cast a country mile.

For baits, different topwater hardbaits will work, from poppers to walking baits. I like to scale down if the shad in the lake are real small. Plastics are a favorite too and small swimbaits in shad pattern can score all day. A slider rig – a small 2-inch crappie curl-tail on a ¼-ounce darter-head jig – can emulate even the smallest shad. Breaking fish can be a lot of fun and the lake at times will look like the grand finale at a fireworks show! So go out and enjoy it now. CS

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HUNTING

PROPER PAW CARE

Training on concrete and, better yet, gravel, will get your dog’s pads in shape and keep their toenails short. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

By Scott Haugen

Creating your own dog boot is inexpensive and you’re assured of a custom fit that optimizes dexterity. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

hen I first started training my versatile gun dog, I had a lot to learn. I relied on many knowledgeable people for guidance, and still do. One piece of wisdom I picked up early on was “take care of your dog’s feet.” Being a former athlete and now a full-time outdoorsman, I know the importance of healthy feet. If your feet aren’t healthy and in good shape, you can’t perform. I recently asked over a dozen experienced upland bird hunters what they do to take care of their dogs’ feet when chasing chukar, pheasant and grouse in rugged, rocky terrain. With midsummer training sessions in full swing, now’s the time to get your dog in shape, and its feet ready to handle upcoming hunts.

the toenails short and get the pads rough. Jess Spradley of Cabin Creek Gun Dogs (cabincreekgundogs.com) in Lakeview, Oregon, likes training his dogs on gravel. If your dog doesn’t like gravel, start with brief conditioning sessions where they’re either running along with you or next to you as you ride a bike. As their feet toughen, transition to bumper training on gravel, where intense bursts of speed will quickly harden pads. Starting on concrete is also an option, and this will toughen a dog’s feet and wear down their toenails. But just be sure and do it early or late in the day this time of year, when the surface is not hot from the sun. If opting for dog boots, get them ahead of time and practice wearing them. Let your dog walk around, getting used to the feel, then incorporate them into training sessions.

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Every person I talked with agreed the number one goal is to have your dog’s feet in shape prior to the hunt. Keep

Only one of the 12 hunters I spoke with uses dog boots. Reasoning varied from being tired of having the boots

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thrown off and lost during a hunt, to not wanting to limit the dog’s dexterity when walking on sharp rocks, logs and small surfaces. One hunter pointed out that his dog does well wearing boots while chukar hunting, but that he does not like the open-toed boots, as dirt and rocks can get in. The same is true if the tops don’t fit snug. Howard Meyer, a well-known West Coast breeder who has been training dogs for over 40 years (chippewa-gsp. com), conditions his dogs’ feet on gravel year-round, but if they do split a nail or pad on a hunt, he makes a customized boot in the field. Using a self-adhering bandage, Meyer covers the wound in ointment then wraps it over the toes and up the leg of the dog’s injured foot, lengthwise. He then wraps five or six layers of duct tape around the bandage, to within an inch of the top, then folds the bandage over the top of the duct tape. The duct tape never touches the fur and creates a customized boot with good dexterity, and it’s cheap. When

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removing it, cut down the back of the leg, from the top, until it slips off. This allows it to be used the following day.

AFTER THE HUNT After each day’s hunt – and even throughout the day – inspect your dog’s feet. Take the time to pick out grass seeds that might travel between the toes and lead to open wounds and infection. And look for split toenails and pads. The earlier you can remove potentially problematic seeds and catch minor injuries, the greater the chances of keeping your dog hunting. A vet I spoke with has several hunters who use Pad Tough, a protective coating that can be applied to a dog’s pads. He warned not to solely rely on this, reiterating there’s no substitute for tough pads. This means now is the time to be working with your dog, toughening up those feet. Should your dog receive cuts while in training or on the hunt, apply ointment to help the healing process. My vet suggests using a systemic antibiotic for a week, so infection doesn’t enter through the wounds.

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GET TO WORK NOW! Over the course of the next two months is the time to get your dog’s feet in shape and ready for hunting season. If boots are the way you want to go, start getting your dog used to them now. If making a customized boot for your dog sounds like the right choice, practice that. Combining bumper training and searching drills with your dog on gravel and in rocky terrain is a great way to get their feet in shape this time of year. Take care not to overheat your dog, making sure to have water or train near water so they can drink and get cooled off. Now is the time to start getting your dog ready, as hunting season will soon be here. CS 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.


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HUNTING

GET THAT SHOTGUN READY NOW FOR FALL BIRDS

Now is a good time to pull your shotgun chokes, clean them up and make sure they’re all set for September’s openers for doves and grouse. (DAVE WORKMAN)

By Dave Workman

H

unting corn country several years ago with Mike Krei, then a field rep for the National Rifle Association, we were working a draw for pheasants when one exploded from cover. Using a 20-gauge over-and-under, Krei fired twice and missed, after which I swung my 12-gauge side-by-side Beretta into action. My first shot missed, but then the ringneck sailed straight away at maybe 20 to 25 yards away, and my final round – a high-base 2¾-incher No. 6 – launched out of my fixed fullchoke barrel and the bird folded in a cloud of feathers. Krei proved repeatedly that weekend that he was a far better wingshot than I will ever be, and this was one

of those moments of part skill and massive good luck that occasionally blesses yours truly. I hunted with that Beretta for several years. It’s a bird-busting marvel I bought at age 19. The price was right, the stock fit me very well, it had double triggers, roll engraving on the receiver, deep blue on the barrels, and the bores were both like mirrors. Paulsen’s had taken it on trade from a guy who had put maybe a box of shells through it. His loss, my gain; I’ve put more blue and ruffed grouse in my bag with that gun than I can remember, and against pheasants and chukars it has been a real performer. But remember, I said it has fixed chokes. A few years ago, I developed a real liking for O/U shot-

guns with interchangeable choke tubes. The Beretta is hardly retired, but I’ve found that the 20 is plenty, and these days I look forward to fall with a nicely balanced Franchi Instinct chambered for 3-inch magnums, though I’ve never used them in the gun. Choke tubes are a marvelous development, and I’ve got full, modified, improved cylinder and other chokes for the Franchi. I hunt grouse with the I/C and modified chokes installed, with the action set to discharge them in that barrel order. With the right chokes, your shotgun becomes the most versatile tool in the gun rack. It can be choked for everything from mourning doves to Canada geese and wild turkeys.

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HUNTING NEW DEER AMMO, BALISTIC CALCULATOR FROM WINCHESTER

During the season, when he might have to switch chokes, Workman keeps his choke wrench stuck in a choke tube that he carries in his pocket.

Author Dave Workman gives his chokes a bath in Hoppe’s No. 9 and brushes them out. (DAVE WORKMAN)

(DAVE WORKMAN)

opening as early as next month, now is a good time to set up your scattergun with the right choke and shot combination to fill the cooler with fresh wildfowl. For doves, I recommend nothing larger than 7½ shot, and more likely No. 8 or even 9 lead, or No. 6 or 7 steel. Also make time now with clay targets to hone up your shooting skills before heading afield for these fast-moving birds.

Matt’s Bullets

I much prefer grouse hunting over all other gamebirds. I set up with the I/C and modified chokes because I’ll be hunting in cover and I don’t care to let thunder chickens get too far because they’ve got a habit of sailing behind trees or large bushes the farther out they get. Use the same choke set-up in a double gun for quail, and for those who hunt chukar, I’d suggest a modified/full setup because they’re lia-

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Just as I was writing this month’s report, Winchester announced that its new Deer Season XP Copper Impact centerfire rifle ammunition was beginning to ship. If it’s not on dealer shelves now, it soon will be. Initially introduced in five popular buck-busting calibers including .243 Winchester/85 grains; .270 Winchester/130 grains; and .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum, all with 150-grain pills, this new ammunition is topped, as one might easily conclude, with solid-copper bullets. They offer plenty of weight retention, and they feature a different-colored polymer tip from the standard Deer Season XP loads so shooters can tell the difference. All-copper projectiles are not a brand new thing, but as increasing numbers of hunters adjust away from lead-core ammunition due to environmental regulations or just to try something new, expect the Copper Impact line to gain plenty of traction. Winchester Ammunition also recently launched its new website, Winchester. com, and it sports a key new feature, an enhanced “ballistics calculator.” This calculator offers a visual graph that “displays for shooters exact placement for their round of choice, with flight shown in increments as small as five yards,” according to a company press release. You’ll find trajectories for hundreds of rifle, shotgun, handgun and even rimfire rounds. This accessory program enables shooters to “fine tune”their shooting, and it may be printed out in a regular format or on a smaller format that a shooter can stick on his/her stock. I checked this thing out online and it’s remarkable. It details bullet drop, muzzle velocity at various ranges out to the target, and how much energy the bullet retains at that distance. –DW

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Winchester has announced its line of Copper Impact centerfire rifle cartridges in five popular calibers. (WINCHESTER)


HUNTING

Ruger is offering its Scout rifle in .450 Bushmaster this year. (RUGER)

One of the biggest grouse the author ever clobbered was taken a few years ago on a hunt in central Washington. His shotgun is a 12-gauge Beretta with fixed chokes he acquired decades ago. (DAVE WORKMAN)

ble to get out ahead of you and they are fast. You may have to reach out some to get them. If you’re h hunting nting with a semiauto or pumpgun, I recommend the h modified choke for upland birds, including doves, at least for starters. If birds are spooky and seem to be breaking cover, then you might consider going to a full choke. But if you’re hunting over a good dog that will hold and not make birds nervous, that allows you to move in closer, and that’s where the I/C choke will work best. Of course,

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each hunter to his/her own choice.

SOME TIME AGO, Browning put together a comparison chart showing how choke choices would differ when using lead versuss steel. Steel shoots tighter and it is harder, remember, b and I would never recommend using it through a full choke. But here’s how it shakes out: A cylinder choke for lead or bismuth translates to a skeet choke with steel or tungsten. The lead/bismuth skeet choke performs like an I/C with steel, and the I/C with lead/bismuth works


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HUNTING like a modified with steel/tungsten, and so on. A modified with lead acts like a full with steel. Got it? I confess to shooting a fair number of grouse with .22-caliber rifles or pistols when they’re sitting on stumps or logs, usually during deer or elk seasons, but there is really nothing to compare with being able to tumble a big fool hen on the wing.

It’s a hell of a rush when they explode from cover, and they cook up very well for the dinner table. Now’s the time to pull your choke tubes, clean up the inside and out, wipe the threads with a soft cloth and apply some good choke lube and then clean your bores until they shine. Wrap a patch around the bore brush, scrub with Hoppe’s or Outers solvent, wipe clean and then give

your bore(s) a wipe with a lightly-oiled patch. Savageunfolds is the Model 110 leaves Tactical model As New thefrom season and with an extended magazine and three caliber begin choices. to fall,(SAVAGE) you’ll want to look for grouse to show up along old logging roads or trails, picking up pea gravel and catching any warmth from the sun, especially after a good stretch of rain. Remember, you can’t shoot them in the road, but grouse can be pretty predictable because they will

the desert tan version is available with a 24inch barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor and 26-inch barrel in 6mm Creedmoor. There’s a 110 Tactical left-hand model in .308 Winchester with a 24-inch barrel. The 110 Tactical comes from the factory with a 20-minute-of-angle EGW rail,

and it features a “tactical” oversize bolt handle, detachable 10-round Magpul stock, and AccuStock rail system. It comes with an adjustable AccuTrigger, and the stock features the AccuFit system to allow the user to adjust the comb height and length of pull. –DW

SAVAGE MODEL 110 BOLT-ACTION OUT For all the “tactical” folks, Savage has unveiled its high-performance Model 110 Tactical bolt-action rifle, in three calibers. Available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor and .308 Winchester, this slick repeater is offered with a synthetic stock in gray or desert tan. The .308-caliber model is offered with either a 20- or 24-inch barrel, while the 6mm and 6.5-caliber guns come only with the 24-inch tube with the gray stock, while

118 California Sportsman AUGUST 2018 | calsportsmanmag.com


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likely trot back into the brush before taking flight if they’re spooked. I chased one bird through the boonies after spotting it on a road shoulder a few years ago. That thing wouldn’t fly no matter what, it seemed, and then finally the bugger launched only to land on a tree limb about 20 yards away. Birds that stupid deserve to land in the stew pot. Once the bird is down, I recommend a quick field dressing immediately to help cool it down. A small incision along the soft belly and you can pull the guts out pretty easily. Always take along a pair of gloves for this chore, and a small knife.

TURNING TO FALL’S other hunts, the .450 Bushmaster is an impressive cartridge, and Ruger recently announced that it is offering that caliber in their version of the bolt-action Scout Rifle. It’s got a 16.10-inch stainless steel barrel that is cut with six lands and grooves on a 1:16-inch right-hand twist. The barrel and action have a matte finish, and there’s a Ruger Precision Rifle Hybrid Muzzle Brake up front. The stock, meanwhile, is black synthetic with a soft rubber butt pad that comes with spacers to adjust the length of pull. Ruger equips this rifle with a protected blade front sight and adjustable rear. It’s got a fourround detachable box magazine, and the trigger guard and magazine well are glass-reinforced nylon. Now, about that cartridge. The .450 Bushmaster is an awesome brush-country round. It launches a 250-grain bullet at better than 2,200 feet per second out of a 20-inch barrel, so expect to lose some speed out of the Ruger’s 16.1-incher, but not enough to make a difference to whatever is on the receiving end. With a rebated base, the .450 Bushmaster’s parent case is the .284 Winchester sized out to take a .452-inch bullet. Now, that’s a big hole-maker, and against elk, deer or bears, it’s got a lot of muscle. CS


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HUNTING

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This utility-style blade is by the late, great Bob Loveless and has sambar stag scales. Anything with the Loveless logo becomes an instant collectible. (EXQUISITE KNIVES)

Loveless’s improved handle highlights this Semiskinner. It has perfect ergonomics and is wonderful for skinning and many other uses. Its Micarta grip is impervious to most outdoor elements. (EXQUISITE KNIVES)

Created by mastersmith Scott McGee, this Damascus blade exhibits a bold pattern and is beautifully hafted with a Curly Koa Grip. The clip-point blade is the perfect size and shape for most of your hunting and camping chores. (EXQUISITE KNIVES)

ABS journeyman ’smith Ben Seward is making a name for himself on the custom knife front and this example shows why. This knife includes a gorgeous hamon (temperline) on the forged, carbon steel hunter carbon fiber guard and white Micarta grip. Seward’s father does the leatherwork. It’s very functional as well as quite attractive. (EXQUISITE KNIVES) calsportsmanmag.com | AUGUST 2018 California Sportsman

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the LAST LAUGH

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