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California

Sportsman Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 5 • Issue 9 PUBLISHER

James R. Baker ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

Dick Openshaw EDITOR

Chris Cocoles CONTRIBUTORS

Rachel Alexander, Nick Barr, Steve Carson, Scott Haugen,Tiffany Haugen, Chris Gregersen, Steve Herschbach,Tim E. Hovey, Luke Kelly, Charles Overbey, Albert Quackenbush, Bill Schaefer, Mike Stevens, John G.Tomlinson SALES MANAGER

Brian Lull ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

Lee Balliet, Maime Griffin, Mike Nelson, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold DESIGNERS

Dawn Carlson, Beth Harrison, Sonjia Kells PRODUCTION MANAGER

John Rusnak INBOUND MARKETING

Jon Hines OFFICE MANAGER/ACCOUNTING

Audra Higgins ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Katie Sauro INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER

Lois Sanborn CIRCULATION MANAGER

Heidi Belew ADVERTISING INQUIRIES

ads@calsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE

Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to ccocoles@media-inc.com. ON THE COVER

Lake Almanor produces some of Northern California’s best trout fishing in its scenic Plumas County location. California Sportsman will be sponsoring the Team Trout and Salmon Derby at Almanor on June 14. (ALMANOR FISHING ADVENTURES)

MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com 8 California Sportsman JUNE 2014


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CONTENTS

VOLUME 5 • ISSUE 9 97

The Spin Stops Here Correspondent Mike Stevens will never give up his passion of using spin gear to throw lures and plastics at hungry Eastern Sierra trout. But Stevens also vowed to make the transition to spinning and fly angler, and he counters your questions about doing the same with how to learn to fly on the fly.

89 Derby Time: Almanor, Convict Looking to fish in two of the most beautiful lakes in California this month (and perhaps make a few bucks doing it)? Try Lake Almanor in Plumas County and Convict Lake in the Eastern Sierras for two popular fish contests.

30

117 Quirky Fish Of The Pacific Salmon (in Northern California) and tuna (in SoCal) dominate much of the Golden State’s ocean fishing headlines. But Bill Schaefer digs deep into the treasure chest of exotic species (croaker, shortfin corvina, needlefish and others) swimming around San Diego Bay.

Pigskins And Pig Hunts Mike Pawlawaski is quintessentially Californian: Orange County bred, star quarterback in college at Cal and a proud Bay Area resident these days. He’s also an avid outdoorsman and takes football players and coaches past and present on fishing and hunting adventures throughout the state and the world on the Outdoors Channel show, Gridiron Outdoors. (OUTDOORS CHANNEL)

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 41 48 53 69 73 103 105 115 121 131

FEATURED STORIES 17

Girl Power Best friends Norissa Harman and Jenifer Adams modestly began an outdoor clothing company for women in Harman’s Red Bluff garage. Five-plus years later Girls With Guns is a thriving business that’s endorsed by Sarah Palin, and the personable Harman and Adams will be the subject of a hunting show on the Sportsman Channel. Their business may be booming, but Jen and Norissa vow to never forget their small-town roots.

63 Driving Vs. Flying Our correspondent Tim Hovey has made plenty of hunt trips out-ofstate to places like Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada. Tim’s preferred method of travel is not to check his bulky equipment at LAX and fly to his destination. He’ll instead load up the truck and take a road trip. Hovey explains why you should too on your next outdoor adventure outside California.

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Wildlife CSI: Biologist’s instincts lead to big fines for fish poacher Cops continues its run on TV How to be a better prospector Survival Preppers Expo preview Book excerpt: Southern California’s former steelhead glory Jig of the Month Pros Joes bass column: Wily veteran Sieg Taylor tells how to get out of that slump El Capitan’s hot bass bite Yellowtail bait options From Field to Fire: Keep your cool on hot summer pig hunts The SoCal Bowhunter: Choose your bow carefully

DEPARTMENTS 13 47 47 84

The Editor’s Note The Dishonor Roll Outdoor Calendar Wright & McGill/Eagle Claw, Browning Photo Contests winners

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 tax. 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 © 2014 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A. 10 California Sportsman JUNE 2014


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THEEDITOR’SNOTE Norissa Harman (left), Jenifer Adams of Girls With Guns and guide Barry Dodds with the tahr (Himalayan goat) they hunted near Mt. Cook, one of several breathtaking backdrops in New Zealand. (GIRLS WITH GUNS)

interviewed three wonderful folks whose stories appear in this month’s issue: Mike Pawlawksi, an Orange County native who starred as a quarterback in college at Cal (Berkeley) and in the Arena Football League before becoming an outdoors TV show host; and Northern California entrepreneurs Jenifer Adams and Norissa Harman of Girls With Guns, which sells outdoor clothing and gear for women. I managed to be jealous of all three at the end of our chats. Coincidentally, Pawlawski and the tandem of Harman and Adams have all spent considerable time in New Zealand filming television shows (Harman’s and Adams’ Universal Huntress debuts in 2015 on the Sportsman Channel; Pawlawski’s Gridiron Outdoors can be currently seen on the Outdoor Channel). After hearing them rave about New Zealand’s natural beauty, its hunting and fishing, its food and wine, and its people they encountered, please forgive me if I skip an issue and or two and get on the first plane to Auckland and perhaps never come back. This summer, Pawlawski is headed back to the land of Kiwis, Lord of the Rings, Russell Crowe and the All Blacks powerhouse rugby team. He filmed a hunt of red stag and fallow deer, Awapara rams and Himalayan goats (tahr) with Washington State University football coach Mike Leach. “New Zealand is a place that I will return to often. It strikes me as what this country used to be like, where everybody is responsible for themselves. You’re pretty free to do what you want, and it’s an open society,” Pawlawski, 44, says. “It’s just a great place with great people.” Adams and Harman recently returned from a red stag, feral goats and tahr hunt in New Zealand as part of their new show. The diverse landscapes they visited were insanely gorgeous. Adams recalled hunting in an area right around where The Hobbit was filmed and understood why director and New Zealander Peter Jackson has made the country his spectacular filming locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit franchise. “I just remember driving and everywhere we went it was beautiful; it was epic. You just can’t explain it,” Adams says. “You really have to go. The pictures don’t even do it justice.” No problem. Now excuse me while I start making plans for my New Zealand adventure. Someday. –Chris Cocoles

I

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GRADUATING FROM THE GARAGE HOW TWO FRIENDS FROM RED BLUFF FOUND AN OUTDOOR APPAREL NICHE By Chris Cocoles

T

here’s nothing quite like summer in Red Bluff - if you love tripledigit temperatures on almost a daily basis there - in the Sacramento River valley off Interstate 5 in Tehama County. But here were friends Jenifer Adams and Norissa Harman, in the latter’s twocar garage, living out a dream, albeit a sweltering dream in the summer of 2008. The then 20-somethings wanted to combine their love of the outdoors with a sense of a fashion and creativity to produce a line of apparel for sportswomen. Born from this blending of ideas was a company they called Girls With Guns (gwgclothing.com). “We pulled out all the vehicles and we had box fans (running),”Harman says.“Of course, it was summertime when we were pumping out our products. And around here, we’ll have 118-degree weather, and we would be sitting here in shorts and tank tops, not in any high fashion whatsoever. But that’s what we were doing and it was fun.” Five-plus years later, a fun and harmless idea between friends is now a growing enterprise. Girls With Guns graduated from the carport to an actual office space, then a larger one, and continued to get bigger until the company began sending out products from a 5,000-square-foot warehouse. Besides being able to buy from the website, Girls With Guns apparel is available in multiple states’ local outlets and chains like Scheels All Sports and Sportsman’s Warehouse. They have partnered with Montana Silversmiths with their jewelry

Norissa Harman (left) and Jenifer Adams decided to start designing outdoors apparel from Harman’s garage in Red Bluff; now Girls With Guns has full-time staff of eight and produce their fashion and accessories from a 5,000-square-foot warehouse. (GIRLS WITH GUNS) JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 17


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The ladies are filming a new Sportsman Channel show, Universal Huntress, and got this impala antelope on a hunt in South Africa. (GIRLS WITH GUNS)

products. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wore GWG apparel on her outdoors reality show and sported their belt buckle on her appearance with Jimmy Fallon. The girls also are selling accessories like luggage, and The Sportsman Channel is currently filming a TV show, Universal Huntress, where Adams and Norissa will get to hunt and explore the world (it’ll debut in 2015). Their friendship has made them “love each other like sisters,” Adams says, and they will be soon sister-in-laws; Jen is engaged to Norissa’s brother. “We were family long before that happened years ago,” Adams says with a laugh. The girls behind Girls With Guns, just back from a hunting adventure in New Zealand, chatted with us about their journey: CHRIS COCOLES So how did this idea get off the ground? JENIFER ADAMS We started working together at my real estate office, and we did a fundraiser that was called Shoot For Purpose and it was for breast cancer awareness. The first year I was the secretary-treasurer, and Norissa was the vice president. We raised $15,000 in one event in one day. And through that Norissa already had this plan in place for a name –

18 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com worked every night on everything, it’s kind of amazing. It’s been fun to see where it’s going. When we started with little money, it’s really taken off.

Girls With Guns. And she kind of just said, ‘I’m not really sure how to go about this on my own; I have an idea. What do you think?’And I’m a business-minded person. That’s what I do and that’s what I love. And I already had a real estate business going. So I told her I’d help her out for a year and we’ll see it how it goes. And by August (our apparel) was in Scheels and they were asking for more. We were working 12 to 14 hours doing our day job and then at night I’d go to her house. We’d work out of her garage filling orders and doing designs. Eventually we got to the point where we built enough revenue that we could jump on an airplane and flew to China. We started learning about manufacturing and import-export and all those things. NORISSA HARMAN I started an embroidery business when I was 21 years old, so I kind of had all the means and the access to get shirts and hats and all that stuff. I already knew that market, how to get it and that was a little bit of a jumpstart for us. I had the name already trademarked. Jen had the same love and passion for shooting as I did. She was the famous sales agent here in Tehama County and she was very savvy at sales and marketing. We kind of had the same drive and vision toward business and shooting sports. At the time, we never imagined that we’d be here today. To see where the company’s evolved, from my garage and my home office where we

CC How did both of you grow to love the outdoors so much? JA I grew up in the real, real, Northern California in Modoc County (Adin; population: 272) in the mountains. I graduated high school with 15 people in my graduating class. I lived on a small cattle ranch with my family. So I was a total country girl. We had alfalfa, chickens, goats, sheep; we had everything. I was a cowgirl who did rodeo. That’s how I grew up. It was really outdoorsy. My dad did a lot of hunting, but I didn’t get involved in hunting. I’d go with him but it was usually my dad and brother’s thing. But when I was 29 and we started the company, I’d always been a shooter but never hunted anything. I got my hunter’s ed and my license. I started on birds the first year and by the next year I was killing my first buck. And then I was on my way to (hunting in) New Zealand. And I’ve been addicted ever since. NH I grew up in Nevada and my family then moved here to (Red Bluff). I never hunted growing up because that’s not what my dad was into. My dad was a fisherman and he would trek his kids all over. We would camp and we would fish for hours and hours and hours. It was fun; that’s what we did. The older I got and started dating my husband, that’s how I started getting into hunting. He hunted a lot and traveled with his family, so if I wanted to spend any good quality time with him that would be the way to get his attention. After I shot my first buck and a couple of pigs, I thought,“This is kind of fun.” I love it now. When we got back from New Zealand I messaged him and said how I get it, and I don’t know why. CC Did you both have expectations and high hopes it would be successful? JAYou know, I will have to say at first I just thought it was just something fun I was doing with my best friend. My business was my real estate company. I made good money and a good living. But my passion, my intrigue was with Girls With Guns. I’m kind of a tomboy and it got me a little more involved in the fashion world. It was


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roles that we fell into. As best friends we were able to work together and started taking the things we were good at, and that’s what we did at our jobs. Harman (front) and Adams visited a school in Ellisras, South Africa during their safari. (GIRLS WITH GUNS)

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com CC Lots of hard work went into this, no doubt. NH What kept us so involved and engaged in this. Jen and I were just talking about working and the hours we put in working two jobs; we’d work all day and then come back and work until 12, 1 or 2 a.m. I’m not sure how we made that because even now I get extremely exhausted. And I feel like there’s someone always watching over us or to help us achieve our goals. CC So did it help make this a seamless process that you were such good friends. What’s the old adage: Never get into business or a project with a close friend? It sounds like you two meshed right away. JA I can’t say it helped. But Norissa and I just stayed three weeks together at this woman’s house in New Zealand where we hunted. And she said to me, “I’ve never seen two people fit better together like two pieces of a puzzle. You two just complement each other.” We’ve heard that a

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“You know what’s funny? I have people tell us now we have been an inspiration because they see us working so many days and into the wee hours of the morning trying to build our company,” Jenifer Adams says. “And just now this year we’re finally able to relax a little and enjoy this.” (GIRLS WITH GUNS

lot, but just the way she said it and put it was definitely awesome. We’re totally dif-

22 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

ferent personalities, but with different strengths and weaknesses, and I think

that’s what makes it work. When she’s on I’m off, and vice versa. But we’re a team and that’s how we treat it. That’s how we treat our entire team at GWG headquarters. They’re growing with us. CC Was there a single moment when you collectively thought something was brewing with this project? NH It’s funny when people tell us we’re moving up, and Jen and I just take every day as we can. I think we’re still in denial and that we’re still a small company. We still have that small-town mentality and we still don’t realize how big it’s gotten until we’re across the country or in another country when someone says they follow us or greet us by our name. That’s when we realize how big it is. JA I think it was when we moved into the warehouse. We all had offices, and we had a part-time crew with two part-time employees. And I realized that we needed a team. And within three or four months we had a staff of five, including Norissa and I.


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”We want to make outdoor fashion fun and trendy for everybody. I don’t know how it’s going to go,” says Norissa Harman. “We’re just enjoying our journey and hoping people are picking up our brand all over in the homes of every country girl.” (GIRLS WITH GUNS)

I had let go of my real estate business, and we brought on three more people. It was almost like an overnight thing, though it seemed to happen about a year ago. It was always growing with new stores. But now it’s growing so quickly with the popularity, and how women are so excited about the outdoors. It’s really awesome,

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CC So how did you get from Norissa’s garage to this spacious warehouse? JA We actually did a few baby steps. My broker at the time had a 600-square-foot little building and he gave up six months of free rent. It was one of those cool,“I’m in your court” and “here you go”(situations), and after that we started paying rent. And then because Scheels wanted to come on and we got our manufacturing underway, we ended up going into the space next door, which was 900 square feet. And then we ended up occupying a place across the street, which was 1,800 square feet, and we were renting from (the original real estate broker) at that time. We just had some amazing people along the way who have stopped to help us. That allowed us to do that jump, and then, finally, we realized we had to get into a real warehouse. Right now we have eight full-time employees, not including all of your independents like our design team and such. We have any-

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com where from 10 to 20 temps that come in twice a year for our seasons when our shipments come in. It was pretty surreal. CC How did your relationship with Sarah Palin blossom? JA She’s actually somebody Norissa and I both look up to as a role model. People may have their different views on what they feel about her politically. But what she’s done for being a voice of women is huge. We never asked her to wear our clothes. She spoke in Anderson at a logging conference and we attended. We gave her a bag full of goodies that were hand-pressed in the garage by me and embroidered by Norissa. We’d only been in business for about a year and four months. We ended up giving it to her, and that following December we got an email; it was surreal. She was going to wear us on the show. One time would have just been amazing. Now, we sent her a box of clothes for her and (Palin’s daughters). We receive hand-written notes back from them. We’ve seen Bristol wearing us on her

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MIXED BAG show, and we’ve seen (Sarah Palin) all over wearing our stuff. She actually buys our stuff. We were recently asked to outfit her, so we went and met her and (husband) Todd and spent the day with them. It was pretty amazing. NH I’m not sure if she realizes how important and special it was to us. CC From what I’ve gathered, you two are very different personalities, right? NH think that’s why our company has become what it’s become; I think I have some great ideas and I wasn’t much of a risk taker. From the beginning our friendship has been like that. I think that’s why it works for us, and I think why the show’s going to be great. You’ll see in the show there’s one of us that’s more of adrenaline junkie, and I’m the scaredy-cat. JA I’m very much a risk taker; and she’s very conservative. I’m kind of a go with the flow and a planner both at the same time. Norissa and I work together day-in and dayout, and we’re very like-minded even with

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our opposite personalities. CC So what was New Zealand like? NH The first time we went we were stag hunting, and it was only the second time we’d been out of the country ever. It was pretty eye-opening for us. To go back this year we realized how the terrain is different. And it’s an outdoor mecca; people train there for triathlons; running, biking and kayaking. There is good food and good wine. There’s an energy that you can feel when you’re outside. I just love it; it’s a spiritual place. CC You’ll be soon traveling all over the world filming the show, but where do you get away in California for your outdoor fixes? JA I do a lot of hunting in Modoc County where I grew up. I just went and hunted with my dad and future brother-in-law last fall and took my first mule deer. Duck hunting up here is huge in my family; my cousins, my fiancé and my brother are

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com duck-hunting addicts. I love it now too. We actually just put our dog in training; he’s an amazing 9-month-old Lab. So next year is going to be awesome. When I want to get away, I go to Modoc County because there are so many open spaces. CC I’m looking forward to watching your Universal Huntress show. Just talking to both of you it looks like this will be fun. NH The show is basically going to be real time; we’re not going to re-enact anything. We’re just going to out there and being real. I’m not going to profess that I’m perfect by any means. I get to learn about different countries and different animals. We’re growing up on TV; the friends and the family who get to see us every day, we get to share that with them. I hope everybody loves that, so we’ll see. JA It’s just going to be us. When we met our producer and he pitched for us to come out and fly to South Africa and see how we did hunting with him, he said,“All I want you to do is be yourselves because that’s what your


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MIXED BAG fans love.” So we’re going to be Norissa and I being Norissa and I; we’re going to be goofy, but we’re going to be serious about our hunts and fun. We’re going to see the world and you’ll see it through our eyes. CC Give me a short description on what you think your products represent? JA It’s not really too hard for me to describe because it’s really mine and Norissa’s lifestyles combined: it’s a little bit of redneck, a little bit of fashion. We love the outdoors; period. And we love guns, so it’s not just about guns of the outdoors; it’s a universal brand and it’s about the women who love to wakeboard, who love to snowboard or work out or shoot. We want women to love our brand because it’s all about the outdoors and empowering women. CC Where do you see this company going? NH Of course we’d love to keep building the brand, and that’s been our goal. We want to make outdoor fashion fun and trendy for everybody. I don’t know how it’s

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going to go. We’re just enjoying our journey and hoping people are picking up our brand in the homes of every country girl. CC I get the feeling no matter how successful you are, you’ll always be just downto-earth Jen and Norissa from small-town Northern California. JA Oh, yeah. Just because our company is doing well doesn’t change the person that I am. That’s very important to me to stay the same person. We’re just normal girls. NH What you see is what you get. I’m not any different than I was four years ago; I’m not changing. I think I’m a down-to-earth person. Hopefully that shows; sometimes we’re big dorks, and we love to just laugh and have fun. CC This last question I think is the most important one: Do you hope you are role models for women who want to be involved in not just an outdoors apparel company in what’s been a male-dominated genre, but any kind of business venture?

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com NH We have people approach us and tell us they want to take a chance and a leap to try something new in their life. And also we like to see young girls coming up with their own business ideas, either in the same industry as ours, or in a whole different industry. They’ve followed us so much and thinking, “If they can do it, we can do it.” JA You know what’s funny? I have people tell us now we have been an inspiration because they see us working so many days and into the wee hours of the morning trying to build our company. And just now this year, we’re finally able to relax a little and enjoy this. Norissa and I up until last July were doing this on our own. So it is really awesome to show that hard work does pay off, and that’s the American Dream. That’s really important because that’s what Girls With Guns is all about. As for what’s male-dominated, that doesn’t mean anything to me. Women are taking over the hunting world. I’m excited about it. CS


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Young Mike Pawlawski first stumbled onto a fly fisherman on a mountain stream, ran back to his camp and asked his dad if he could learn how to fly fish. (OUTDOOR CHANNEL)

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THE CALIFORNIA KID CAL QB ALUM PAWLAWSKI MIXES FOOTBALL, OUTDOORS By Chris Cocoles

O

utdoor Channel TV host and former quarterback Mike Pawlawski has hunted Himalayan tahr in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, landed bonefish in the Bahamas and downed ducks on the fields of Alberta, Canada. But Pawlawski can’t think of a better place to fish and hunt than in his native California. “People ask me all the time: ‘Where’s your favorite place to go hunt? Where’s your favorite place to go fish?’ And the real trick for California sportsmen is people don’t understand how good our outdoor sports are,” says Pawlawski, whose current show, Gridiron Outdoors, features himself and other football players and coaches on fishing and hunting adventures both in the state and throughout the country and world. “It’s unbelievable how good Pawlawski was a marginal recruit coming out of Troy High we have it in CaliSchool in Fullerton. But in his senior season in 1991, he fornia. Because quarterbacked Cal to a 10-2 record as the Golden Bears finished the season ranked eighth in the nation. we have year(UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA ATHLETICS) round (hunt) seasons for predators and for pigs; we have some great deer hunting in some parts of the state; some parts of the state aren’t very strong, but we have a large area of public land on which to hunt deer. The waterfowl hunting of late hasn’t been very good. But we have the population and the historical flyway in Cal-

ifornia, that it’s one of the best in the country. I would put our duck hunting in California against Arkansas’s any day.” He sounds more like a tourism spokesman for his home state than a jockturned-TV-adventure seeker. But Pawlawski bleeds the Golden State: Orange County native, an“Old Blue”University of California grad and Golden Bears’ quarterback who engineered one of Cal’s best seasons in school history as a senior in 1991, and a Bay Area resident these days after a pro career mostly spent in the Arena Football League (he quarterbacked the Albany Firebirds to a 1999 AFL championship). Now 44, he still talks football on Saturdays as the radio analyst for his beloved alma mater, Cal (he has a tattoo of a block “C” on an arm), and he’s joined by a who’s who of personalities on Gridiron Outdoors, from local Bay Area legends like San Francisco 49ers Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. The game that’s consumed them is usually the last thought on their minds. “A lot of these guys are getting away from football, and that’s why they’re there. We’ll talk football because that’s our common connection,” Pawlawski says. “But we don’t sit there and talk X’s and O’s. We’ve already been there, done that. We tell the locker room stories. Ninety percent of the stories we tell can’t make it on the air.” As an 8-year-old, Pawlawski watched his first TV outdoors show, Fishin’ with Orlando Wilson. Little did he know years later he would follow that same route. Around that time, on the ride home after a baseball game Gary Pawlawski asked Mike the rite of passage for father and son. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “‘I want to play professional baseball,’” Mike Pawlawski says now, not knowing he’d eventually find success in another

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Mike Pawlawski does battle with a feisty tarpon, which has become a favorite species target on his Outdoor Channel show, Gridiron Outdoors. (OUTDOOR CHANNEL)

sport. “My dad said, ‘OK, what if that doesn’t work out?’‘I’ll just do a fishing show.’” STOP US IF you’ve heard this story before: outdoors-loving dad is eager to put a fishing rod in his son’s hands. This was true of Gary and Mike Pawlawski; but with a twist. “He did not hunt or fish, really. But he thought a father’s job was to teach his sons how to. So he went out and learned from his buddies so he could turn around and teach my brother and I,” the younger Pawlawski says. “He used to take us to the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierras, so we’d go trout fishing up there. And that kind of evolved.” At 9, young Mike walked a mountain stream and stumbled onto a curious sight: an angler casting a fly rod in search of a hungry trout. That was “the coolest thing in the world” to Gary Pawlawski’s son, who now thought all the fish he’d seen jumping and wasn’t able to bite throwing spinners might be catchable if he learned this new technique. Mike ran back to camp begging for a

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fly rod and reel, and his dad eventually bought him a set the boy learned to fish with. (Pawlawski’s first show on the Outdoor Channel was a fly fishing-oriented program, Familiar Waters.) They fished all over Southern California, in both fresh- and saltwater. Then Pawlawski got his first gun – a .22 – at 12 years old. But this was without Gary’s consent (a friend’s brother sold it to him). “When he found out about it, he damn near tanned my hide,” Mike Pawlawski says. “But then, he decided if I’m going to have a gun I need to be taught how to shoot properly. And he’s former military. So he took me out and I learned how to shoot my .22.” “He always encouraged my outdoor stuff.” Ditto his athletic career. But at first it was all about baseball, as it is for many kids in sunsplashed and baseball prospect-rich Orange County. He didn’t play football until he was a sophomore at Troy High School in Fullerton. It was an instant attraction, and, much like his

discovery of the guy with the fly rod, Pawlawski found a new love away from the baseball diamond and on the gridiron. And he was pretty good at it, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where he earned all-state honors as a safety atTroy. But colleges were more interested in him as a quarterback and recruited him on offense, though he didn’t throw the ball a lot in games asTroy employed a run-heavy wing-T offense. His moxie and leadership skills got attention from schools like North Carolina State, Iowa, Arizona and his eventual choice, California. But he wasn’t a blue chip recruit who was coveted by his hometown schools UCLA or USC. One analyst was dismissive to the point where he referred to Pawlawski as the“worst quarterback recruit in the Pac-10.” But then Cal coach Bruce Snyder and assistant coach Steve Mariucci (who recently appeared on Gridiron Outdoors) “saw something in me that he loved,” Pawlawski says. His senior year was memorable for the


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Pawalawski (in green) celebrates catching a striped bass with Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott (center) during a Sacramento River Delta trip. (OUTDOOR CHANNEL)

Golden Bears; they went 10-2, including an epic 24-17 loss to eventual co-national champion Washington, and finished ranked in the Top 10 in most major postseason polls. Still, he had to prove himself all over

34 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

again at the next level. He won’t play the sour grapes card, but Pawlawski never had a chance during his brief cup of coffee in the NFL. Tampa Bay didn’t select him until the eighth round – the current draft doesn’t even go beyond seven rounds – and

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com that was after the Buccaneers had already selected Miami’s Craig Erickson, who would eventually be a starter in 1993. Pawlawski never stuck in the NFL again after one season. But he eventually found a niche on the 50-yard fields, the end zone nets and highscoring track-meet games of the Arena Football League. Pay for the indoor player was minimal at best, but did Pawlawski accomplish everything he wanted to in the game? “Obviously, everyone wants to sign that huge multi-million-dollar deal, right? In terms of financially, not necessarily,” he says. “I’m not bitter about anything. I would do everything all over again. The experiences that I had were amazing. The fact of the matter was, every guy who was playing (in the AFL) was there to play. It wasn’t for a check.They loved the game, and that was pretty special.” Love of the game gets magnified considering Pawlawski came up with a staggering estimate: he’s thrown over a million footballs


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STARS OF THE GRIDIRON Mike Pawlawski’s Outdoor Channel show, Gridiron Outdoors, combines his football background with his passion for fishing and hunting. His guests have ranged from Hall of Famers to eccentric coaches. Here is a sample of some of Pawlawski’s favorite moments and guests: Mike Leach, Washington State head coach Leach is known around college football as one of the game’s true characters. He and Pawlawski hunted elusive tahr (Himalayan goats) in New Zealand – “What you see at 10,000 or 12,000 feet,” Pawlawski says – in the rocky terrain of the Southern Alps. “If a tahr was a football player he’d probably be a scatback,” Leach said during the televised hunt. “He can go through nearly every terrain; he’s not real big, (so) he might be a strong safety because I’m sure he’s not afraid to hit you.” Pawlawski on Leach: “We probably text each other three or four times a week and he’s become a really good friend. Mike

Leach is an awesome dude. He’s funny, smart as a whip. He has the ability to become one of the guys. Most head coaches are always that alpha male, in the room, I’m in control, because that’s what the position takes.” “Mike Leach can remove himself from that. He was truly interested in the stories he was hearing, from the guides to the chef to whomever. He’s curious. In the whole nine days we spent on the road in New Zealand, I think Leacher and I talked football for an hour total.” Ronnie Lott, former San Francisco 49ers safety and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lott is considered one of the NFL’s greatest defensive backs ever. Fishing for bass with Lott on the Sacramento River Delta was a treat for Pawlawski, who was himself an all-state safety at Troy High School in Fullerton. He idolized Lott when he played college football at nearby USC. Pawlawski on Lott:“I was a huge Ronnie

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com Lott fan. He kind of embodied all the traits that you want in a great football player. No matter what position you played, you wanted to emulate Ronnie Lott. He brought the toughness and the focus, the character and intelligence. To get an opportunity to fish with one my heroes was pretty amazing.” Greg Biekert and Steve Wisniewski, former Oakland Raiders stars Biekert, who played linebacker, and Wisniewski, an eight-time Pro Bowl offensive guard, were known for their toughness. But Pawlawski said he saw a different side of this pair when they hunted waterfowl in Alberta, Canada. Pawlawski on Biekert and Wisniewski: “You get to see that personality on these hunts and what these guys are like. Steve Wisniewski might be your favorite offensive lineman ever because he was just a tough guy. But you don’t know what it‘s like because you only know him from playing football. But you meet Wis off the field and you see what a wonderful sweet human being he is, who just was a nasty cuss on the field.” - CC

days in California.

Bowhunting has become a passion for Pawlawksi. Next on his to-do list is using a bow to hunt Himalayan goats in New Zealand. (OUTDOOR CHANNEL) at one time or another in his life. But Pawlawski was a winner. In his two seasons as Cal’s starter the Bears won bowl games in both, and he won 17 of his 24 career starts. In the 1999 ArenaBowl, he threw for a then-record 347 yards and seven touchdowns in Albany’s championship victory over Orlando. “I won everywhere I played, so I’m

36 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

proud of that record,” he says. The post-football Pawlawski is doing just fine these days. He married his college sweetheart, Tracy, and their son, Casey, is becoming quite the angler and hunter. And if he took anything out of his brief flirtation in the NFL, a few of his Tampa Bay teammates introduced him to turkey hunting, which he regularly stalks these

THE FATHER AND SON were chatting a few years back, when Gary Pawlawski asked Mike if he remembered that discussion in the car when the question of what young Mike wanted to do when he grew up. “I just kind of laughed it off.‘But you did it,’ he said. ‘You lived the American dream and did exactly what you said you were going to do.’” Even as he began to take football seriously, he discovered hunting at the same time. So he was establishing an identity as an outdoorsman who dabbled in quarterbacking all along. “Football, hunting and fishing, that’s who I am. It was fantastic to find a way to turn those into careers,” he says. “It’s hard work; just like anything else if you want to be good at something, you have to work .” Just as in the thousands of football practices he endured, Pawlawski preaches getting“reps”in shooting his rifle or loosing his


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MIXED BAG bow. Much like preparing for a weekend game, it’s longing to have the A-game working when the cameras are filming a tarpon fishing trip to Mexico or a whitetail hunt in Canada. Pawlawski is in his element on Gridiron Outdoors, combining his love for fishing and hunting and reminiscing with players he may have gone up against or coaches who mentored him. One episode had him hunting javelinas in Arizona with former Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy, who played for Washington in that classic 1991 game at Cal. On another, Pawlawski and 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley went bass fishing on Clear Lake. The players and coaches who join him on these adventures seem to embrace the cathartic release of a fishing or hunting excursion. “It’s one of those passions that athletes have, a natural place for them to kind of go to,” Pawlawski says of the outdoors, specifically hunting, which is the

“It’s one of those passions that (football players and coaches) have, a natural place for them to go,” says Pawlawski (right) with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his son, Nate. (OUTDOOR CHANNEL)

theme of this season’s episodes. “It’s in their nature with the competition of it.” “It’s a challenge, right? That’s why you play professional football, and that’s why you do what I do. I love the competition of it and to keep pushing myself.” CS

Editor’s note: Check your local listings on air times for Gridiron Outdoors (outdoorchannel.com). Informationandvideoclipsareavailable on the show’s Facebook page (facebook.com/GridironOutdoors). Mike Pawlawski is also on Twitter (@Pawlawski).

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The author, a fisheries biologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, prepares to give a dissection of a giant illegally speared sea bass to determine its sex. The loss of a female fish that would not have been able to reproduce was far more devastating to the future populations of California sea bass. (JENNY O’BRIEN)

Multiple sea bass scales were utilized to average out the age if different counts are found during the necropsy. Much like counting the growth rings on a tree, counting growth rings on a scale will establish the general age of the fish. (JENNY O’BRIEN)

CSI FOR POACHING CRIMES USING SCIENCE TO DETERMINE PUNISHMENT By Tim E. Hovey watched the warden escort the criminal in handcuffs up the boat ramp on the news. I had only caught the last part of the story, but I had heard enough to know that the individual in restraints had speared a large giant sea bass, a protected species in California. As they led him away, I actually thought that the handcuffs were a bit over the top. The next day in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife office when I heard about all the additional violations he had committed, I understood the precaution. The poacher had not only killed a protected species, he had done it inside a marine reserve in the middle of the day. There are several protected reserves in Southern California and there is no fishing or spearing allowed within the bor-

I Sea bass can grow to massive sizes, well over 500 pounds. The sea bass illegally speared in a marine reserve area, weighed 127 pounds. (JENNY 0’BRIEN)

A dissection of the left ovary of the female fish, which would have produced as many as 30 million eggs. It was estimated that 1,800 living offspring would have been born to this specimen had it lived a long life like many sea bass do. (JENNY O’BRIEN)

ders of the reserve. To top it off, the individual was also without a valid fishing license. It was clear from his actions that he had no respect for regulations or rules. I believe poachers are thieves; that’s my opinion. In simple terms, they steal the resource from the public. When seasons, limits, and, in this case, statewide protection of a species is ignored, the resource suffers and the law-abiding public is robbed. Later that same day, I bumped into one of the wardens who had made the arrest. After a brief discussion, I asked him what the punishment was going to be for killing a protected species. He told me that the individual would likely be fined $500 and would lose his fishing privileges for three years. That last part meant that he would be unable to purchase a fishing license in California for that length of time. That part of the punishment probably had little effect on a poacher who

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In the end, the poacher’s fine increased from an original estimate of $500 to $10,000 thanks to the biologists’ analysis of the loss of future populations of sea bass, which has suffered a decline in numbers over the years. (JENNY 0’BRIEN) hadn’t bothered purchasing a license in the first place. AS A FISHERIES biologist for the state, I tend to take these types of violations a little more personally. Back at my desk, I started to think about exactly what this guy had taken from the reserve. In reality, all he had done was spear one fish. However, with a long-living species like the giant sea bass, you also must take into consideration all the potential offspring that one fish may have over its lifetime. The giant sea bass is a huge species that can reach a weight of over 500 pounds. Despite their enormous size, they are one of the most docile species you can encounter in a kelp bed. As a diver, I’ve had several amazing encounters with these gentle giants. They are inquisitive and approachable. They are essentially the Labrador retrievers of the kelp world. In 1981, the state Fish and Game commission determined that the population of giant sea bass in California was in decline and placed the species on the protected species list. This meant that recreational fishermen could not possess a giant sea bass and fish caught incidentally needed to be released unharmed immediately. In the 30-plus years since that law was passed, the coastal populations of this species has experienced a

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dramatic increase in numbers. OVER THE NEXT few days, I started making notes on the species the poacher had killed and crunched the numbers. The weight of the fish was 127 pounds. From existing growth data, I was able to determine that the approximate age of the fish was somewhere around 15 to 20 years old. Since the fish had been confiscated and was currently in the state freezer, I was confident I could use scale aging to confirm the actual age. Knowing the age of the giant sea bass, I needed to use existing data that establishes the maximum life expectancy of the species. This would allow me to determine how many remaining years this fish would’ve lived had it not been killed. Recent life expectancy research on the giant sea bass has shown that this species reaches a maximum age of around 75 years. That means that this fish would have spawned an additional 55 to 60 years or so had it remained alive. As far as reproduction and perpetuating the species, an individual female giant sea bass is more important than a male in the kelp community. The energy needed to produce millions of eggs is higher than that needed to produce sperm. In simple terms, removing a female from a reef is more detrimental to the population than removing a male. In

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com the generality of fish reproduction, males are a dime a dozen and the females are the gems. Understanding this information, I could use it to estimate the offspring potential of the speared fish. In other words, had it remained in the reserve, I could estimate using life history data about how many mature offspring it would have produced over its lifetime. It came down to essentially how many fish were stolen from the reef by the poacher. I could only make this estimation if the fish was a female. I headed back to the enforcement office and explained that if I could examine the giant sea bass, I could get the potential offspring number. I wanted to make sure that the wardens were willing to let me examine the evidence so I could collect the required data. They appeared happy for the assistance and were willing to let me examine the frozen fish. I made arrangements to have the specimen removed from the freezer and set out to thaw. My first examination was to determine if the fish was female. If I cut open the abdomen and found eggs, we were in business. If the specimen was found to be a male, we were out of luck. WITH SEVERAL FELLOW BIOLOGISTS assisting me, I opened up the giant sea bass and found two ovaries full of eggs. Using data gathered from another female giant sea bass of known weight and egg count, I was able to estimate the number of eggs this fish contained at about 30 million. Species that produce enormous numbers of eggs have evolved this strategy because in reality very few individual fry will survive to maturity. They literally inundate the ocean with eggs in the hopes that only a few will survive. In fact, the phrase, “one in a million” is likely an overestimation of success. Once I determined the sex, I pulled three scales from the side of the fish to confirm the age and pressed them between two slides. Much like counting the growth rings on a tree, counting growth rings on a scale will establish the general age of the fish. After the necropsy, an examination under a microscope revealed


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MIXED BAG that the fish was close to 15 years old. This information fit perfectly with existing scientific growth to weight data on the species. I could’ve confirmed this age by removing the otolith deep inside the fish’s head, but that would’ve taken another few days of thawing. During the data collection, we made sure to photograph each step to completely document the process. Enforcement had mentioned that this information would be very important in making a case for the prosecution. With the numbers in hand, I began calculating the information using simple fifth-grade math. My ultimate goal was to figure out how many mature offspring this female giant sea bass would’ve left over the remainder of her lifetime. Using the calculated age of 15, and the maximum age of the species of 75, we concluded that this fish would’ve lived an additional 60 years had she not been removed from the kelp bed. Since calculating survivorship of any

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given spawn is next to impossible, we decided to use a millionth of a percent, or one in a million. If during each spawn, this female produced 30 million eggs, by our calculations, only 30 individual fish would survive to maturity. If this was an overestimation, I figured it would even out over her lifetime, since as she got bigger, she would most definitely have produced far more eggs during each spawn. Multiplying the annual survivorship (30 out of 30 million) by the remaining years of life (60 years) gives us approximately 1,800 individual fish surviving to maturity produced by this one female. The number certainly put the entire event into perspective. IT SHOULD BE noted that the ocean is a wild and dangerous place for all its inhabitants. Predation, disease and other modes of fish death are impossible to predict for any species, thus these could not be included in the calculations. In reality, the calculated number is indeed the

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com best-case scenario. I put all the information in a detailed report and dropped it off to enforcement. Like me, they found the potential offspring number astounding. A few weeks later I received a call from the lead warden. He wanted to thank me for the report and mentioned that the prosecutor used the information to increase the poacher’s fine from a modest $500 to $10,000. He also told me that due to other felonies that had been uncovered after his arrest, the poacher had been deported from the country. Over the years, I’ve assisted enforcement on several projects, but this particular case remains my favorite. It illustrates how science is instrumental on how regulations are created and enforced. This incident also demonstrated how well the two branches of CDFW worked together. In the words of my good friend and CDFW warden, Lt. James Kasper, “Wardens and biologists make up an unbeatable team!” I couldn’t agree more. CS


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FISH STEALING IN SANTA BARBARA

T

he soap opera Santa Barbara lasted almost a decade on NBC between 1984 and 1993.There was drama in the city’s commercial fishing industry this spring, with two locals facing felony charges of conspiracy and grand theft. The men, 53-year-old John Wilson, of Santa Ynez, and Kai Two Santa Barbara commercial fishermen Griffin, 23, from Buellton, are were arrested in the harbor there and faced felony charges of conspiracy and both licensed commercial fishergrand theft after California Department men. California Department of of Fish and Wildlife officers found eviFish and Wildlife officers had dence of the men stealing rock crabs enough evidence that the men from fellow commercial anglers. (CDFW) were stealing live rock crabs from fellow commercial anglers and from the markets along the Santa Barbara Harbor waterfront. Wilson and Griffin were then alleged to have sold the crabs and other species, landed illegally, at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. CDFW wardens were tipped off by commercial fishermen and fish markets in the Santa Barbara area. Law enforcement officials believed the crimes were being committed in early morning hours when few other people were around. According to a CDFW press release, the suspects also sold sea urchins, out-of-season Kellet’s whelks and both live and clawed rock crabs they illegally landed. “Thanks to some good tips from the fishing community and good, solid police work, we were able to catch the suspects and stop these illegal sales,” said CDFW Lt. Wes Boyle.

SACRAMENTO POACHER CAUGHT AGAIN Back in 2010, CDFW officials arrested a Sacramento man, Nai Choy Saelee, who pleaded guilty to poaching and illegally selling abalone. He was given a lifetime fishing license ban, but in April, the 30-year-old was arrested again for allegedly using his 25-year-old brother Peter Choy Saelee’s name to illegally obtain a fishing license, which he used to continue poaching and selling fish for profit. “A fishing or hunting license revocation remains one of the best

21-22 Modoc Sportsman's Expo, Alturas (530-640-0125) 30 Final day 2013-14 hunting

license is valid

JULY New hunting license required 1-31 How Big is Fishing Derby, West Walker River (northernmono chamber.com) 3 This date in 2007: An angler and his dog take state record in the scene along the for smallmouth bass Owens River in the Eastern (9 pounds, 13 ounces), caught at Sierra’s. (MIKE STEVENS) Pardee Reservoir by Harold Hardin of Stockton 16 Start of inland Chinook salmon season in American, Sacramento and Klamath River systems 16 This date in 2013: state record for inland Chinook salmon (20 pounds, 15 ounces), caught at Trinity Lake by Sally Nachreiner of Redding 24 This date in 2008: state record for blue catfish (113 pounds, 5 ounces), caught at San Vicente Reservoir by Steve Oudomsouk of San Diego 1

If you have an event coming up, send info to ccocoles@media-inc.com.

tools to keep poachers in check,” said CDFW Captain David Bess. “This case represents the determination of a convicted poacher with a revoked fishing license who continued to sell California’s fish and wildlife for personal profit.” The older brother was arrested and charged with, according to a CDFW press release, “illegally taking fish for profit, and for unlawfully obtaining and possessing a fishing license acquired by means of fraud and deceit.” The younger brother was also to be investigated for his role. JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 47


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Stockton’s law enforcement agency is one of several California cities the highly successful TV show, Cops, has filmed in during a run that will reach 27 seasons when the show returns with new episodes on Spike TV next month. (MORGAN LANGLEY IMAGES)

The Reality Behind TV’s Cops 27 Years Later, ‘Bad Boys’ Show Still Thriving By Rachel Alexander recently had a chance to interview Morgan Langley, the talented executive producer of Cops, the longest running reality TV show ever and about to start its 27th season on Saturday, July 12 at 8 p.m. on Spike TV. Langley’s father started the show in 1989, when he was 13, and it’s been a family business ever since. California’s law enforcement agencies have been a popular filming locale for the show. Cops has shot in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Palm Springs, Pomona, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Orange County and Stockton, among others. San Jose is one of the stops this season. While most people are familiar with Cops, they may not know about Langley’s other show on Spike TV, Jail. Langley explained what has made Cops so successful, its controversies, and what we can expect next.

I

RACHEL ALEXANDER What makes the show so popular? Why has it lasted so long

48 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Cops executive producer Morgan Langley was just 13 when his father, John, launched one of the pioneers in reality show TV on Fox. The younger Langley is keeping the franchise alive and well as it enters its 27th season this summer. (MORGAN LANGLEY IMAGES)

unlike so many reality TV shows? MORGAN LANGLEY I believe the main reason for its success is it is the most raw and real reality show on the air; it’s so unpredictable you never know what is going to happen. I’m still regularly surprised to this day. The characters are always new. It’s this dynamic of human behavior and crime.

RA I’ve always suspected that drugs and alcohol are behind most crime, have you found that on the show? ML There is more of a correlation between alcohol and crime than people could possibly imagine. RA Which types of law enforcement agencies are covered in the show?


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Executive producer Morgan Langley says early in the show’s run, it was more difficult to get suspects to agree to be filmed. Now in the social media era, everyone seems to want to be on TV, even if they are being held at gunpoint. (MORGAN LANGLEY IMAGES)

ML There are all kinds of different agencies from local to state to federal. Our bread and butter is usually sheriffs and local police departments. We go where we’re invited. Over the last 25 years we have developed relationships with many departments, and we’re invited back a lot. It’s a road show, all over different parts of the country. RA Do you get any pushback or refusals? ML They will claim that it’s bad for tourism. But we’ve filmed so much in Vegas. You’d be surprised where the worst crime is, it’s not always the biggest cities. A couple of departments have never let us come, such as the Chicago Police Department and a few places in Hawaii. We haven’t tried to go into Detroit in a while. RA Do you have any favorite areas of the country for the show? ML The most memorable episodes have come from Florida. Texas and Las Vegas are also some of my favorite areas.We have 10 to 13 crews all over the country at any given time, and only one producer in the field.They ride around In the back of the patrol car all day long.They find a cop, then start riding 10 hours a night, five days a week. Sometimes they’ll ride for a couple of weeks and nothing will happen. We typically stay in an area for eight weeks. RA How violent of crime does the show

COPS OF CALIFORNIA

time I arrested him.

A look at some of the California officers who have been featured on Cops:

Best part of the job I get to see and do things that most people can only watch on TV and movies.

Ronnie Jones Rank Officer Agency Palm Springs Police Department Station/Area Command Palm Springs Age 28 From Indio, Calif. Hired 01/2012

Hobbies I love getting rid of stress in the gym. Favorite quote Arrive on vacation, leave on probation. Officer Ronnie Jones

Why law enforcement? When I was 19 I got in trouble for the first time and spent a few hours in jail. After being in a police car, I couldn’t wait to be back in one, except in the driver’s seat. First arrest I did a bicycle stop on a guy who did not have lights on his bike at night. He ended up being on parole and was in possession of drugs for sales. A month later the same guy led me on my first vehicle pursuit. He ran because he had warrants for the first

cover? MLThere’s no real criteria.We cover all kinds of stuff, including sting operations, and homicides. Most of our filming involves patrol calls, since they show the intersection of the po-

Kathryn Nance Rank Sergeant Agency Stockton Police Department Station/Area Command Community Response Team Sergeant Kathryn Nance Age 38 From Stockton, Calif. Hired 09/1996 Why law enforcement? I was going to college and working as a waitress, when I started looking for a full-time job with benefits. I had several friends who were in the Police Academy and applying for jobs in law en-

lice and public. It provides the most drama and compelling material. RA Do the suspects need to give any type of approval in order to air the video?

JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 49


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800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com Best part of the job Currently the best part of my job is watching the officers who work for me grow, and expand their knowledge. I am very proud of these officers and love watching them as their careers progress through Stockton PD. The help and positive impacts my department makes in the community, through arrests, crime prevention and education, is why I have chosen to stay here.

ML Yes, they all sign releases. In the early days, there were blurred faces. Now they all sign. It’s a big change over the years. They sign and want to know when their segment is going to air.

forcement. I became interested and applied for a police officer position, with the City of Stockton. I was hired a short time later and found a fulfilling career, at a police department I love.

RA Is any of it scripted at all? ML No, it’s truly real and unscripted. I don’t think there’s any reality show that comes close to as unscripted as ours. We don’t even shoot pickups. The ideal Cops piece is a twominute continuous take. We give cash bonuses for those, since they require no editing or cutting. It’s happened maybe once or twice ever. Lot of other reality TV contains music and cuts.We don’t have many cuts and no music, other than the opening theme song. It’s a different feel from other reality shows. RA What have been some of the benefits, such as deterring crime? ML It helps with recruitment and is a morale booster for police officers. It shows the public the work police do; it’s very challenging and tough.

First Arrest The first arrest I made was on my very first day on the street.Within two hours of the start of my shift there was a silent burglary alarm at a business. When we arrived the suspect jumped the fence surrounding the business, near our patrol car.We chased him back into the building and he and a second suspect were taken into custody, with the assistance of a police K9. They had computers and other electronics stacked up near the door of the business.This arrest secured my desire to be a police officer with Stockton PD.

Favorite quote Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. LANGLEY PRODUCTIONS

RA What’s next for Cops? MLWe’ll be filming episodes with police departments in San Jose, Calif., Glendale, Ariz., Lafayette, La., and Bernalillo County, New Mexico. We typically do three to four agen-

cies at once. SpikeTV just upped the order to 33 episodes. The show Jail airs alongside Cops. Featuring the LasVegas jailhouse is another show we might possibly be bringing over. We do a lot of crime shows. CS

50 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Hobbies In my free time, I try to stay active. I run, bicycle and kayak. I also spend time with my family, including my husband and four kids.


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So You Want To Be A ProSpector HOW TO BECOME A GOLD EXPERT

A large gold nugget is the mother lode for a prospector. Finding a piece so big takes a lot of time exploring, but the rewards of chasing gold are rather obvious. (STEVE HERSCHBACH)

By Steve Herschbach

P

eople unfamiliar with gold have a lot of misconceptions on how it is found or even what gold looks like. I have had many people tell me gold is some kind of rock that must be processed to get the shiny metal we all recognize as gold. I have even shown people naturally occurring gold and have them disbelieve it is the real thing. Gold as mined by large multinational mining companies usually occurs as tiny amounts of metal enclosed in huge volumes of rock that must be processed various ways to obtain the final end product – a gold bar. This type of gold mining is called lode or hardrock mining. However, gold as sought by individual prospectors and miners more often occurs as small particles and larger

masses (nuggets) that have been naturally released from the original hardrock source. Gold normally forms underground as just another one of the many minerals that make up the rocks of the earth. Gold is different than most, however, in that it is an element that often occurs in nearly pure form as a native metal. The lumps of gold that can form inside of rock not only look just like the gold seen in a common wedding ring, but are often even purer than that found in most jewelry. The lumps or nuggets of gold enclosed inside rock are metal, just like any other gold. They are different from nearly all rock in that if struck a rock will break or shatter. Gold as a metal will bend or flatten but rarely break. As the solid rock erodes away to become boulders and smaller rocks, the small particles

and lumps of gold are released to become gold nuggets. Eventually the rock will become dust but the gold will remain. Gold never rusts or decomposes, and so once released from the enclosing rock, it persists as a nugget for vast periods of time, and only changes when subjected to serious abrasion. This commonly occurs when gold nuggets end up in a stream and are worn down by moving sand and gravel. Gold is relatively soft so that it is easily bent, hammered, and formed into intricate jewelry. Pure gold is so soft, however, that it will wear prematurely if worn often, and so it is commonly alloyed with silver, copper, or other metals to make it more durable. Silver is the most common metal alloyed with gold and the more silver there is the paler the gold appears. Pure gold is a very deep buttery yel-

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The author is a longtime gold and metals expert, but he insists that even novice or “regular” prospectors can find valuable gold nuggets. (STEVE HERSCHBACH)

low color. Jewelers are required to identify how pure the gold is that they use with 100 percent pure gold designated as 24 Karat or 24K gold. Under the Karat system 75 percent gold is 18K and 50 percent gold is designated 12K. Gold miners use the term “fineness” instead of the Karat system with 24K gold designated as 1000 fine, 18K gold as 750 fine and 12K gold as 500 fine. Again, the less pure the gold, the more pale the yellow color until it appears more like silver than gold. THENUMBERONE thing to do when looking for gold is to look at that ring on your finger. Gold is heavy, and though soft compared to a rock, it is obvious the ring on your finger is not quite as soft as people imagine gold to be. The old idea of biting down on a gold nugget to see if it is gold really does not work, and at worst may result in a chipped tooth! A more realistic test would be to use a hammer a suspect gold nugget. If it flattens it is probably gold, and if it shatters it is not. Gold is also very heavy, and so if gold is

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MIXED FISHING BAG agitated in a gold pan along with other sand and gravel, it sinks to the bottom. There are minerals that look like gold, especially a mineral referred to as mica, but they are very light in weight. If a suspect nugget insists on floating to the top of material in a pan and resting on top of the sand and gravel it is too light to be gold. Mica is very common and is perhaps the most common “fool’s gold.” It glitters in sunlight and is often seen on top of sand bars in streams or mud flats glittering in the sun. Mica flakes are like small mirrors, and what you see is the sun being reflected to your eyes. If you look at a piece of mica in dim light it does not look like gold at all. Mica will fall apart into smaller flakes if pushed hard with the point of a pin or small nail. There are various other minerals that fool people into thinking they are gold. Crystals and lumps of pyrite are sold in many gift and tourist shops as fool’s gold. Pyrite is an iron ore and it commonly forms brassy colored crystal cubes with very flat, shiny surfaces. Pyrite and other similar ores are given away

56 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

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by their color, which usually is not the true deep yellow of gold but which usually has a greenish off-color hue. The flat, sparkly surfaces are a real dead giveaway, because gold almost never forms with flat surfaces but normally occurs with rounded forms that never have sharp, straight edges. Pyrite and similar ores will break and crush if struck and will not flatten like gold, and although heavy, they are not as heavy as gold. Finally, if a piece of pyrite is rubbed hard on a piece of white, unglazed porcelain tile it will leave a black mark or streak. Gold will leave a very faint gold streak. These little test tiles are called streak plates and can help identify common fool’s gold. It all comes back to looking at examples of real gold as seen most commonly in gold rings. Real gold looks like nothing else, and people actually have to convince themselves that fool’s gold looks like gold. If there is any question at all, it probably is not gold. A stream or a river is water flowing though sand, gravel, rocks, and boulders. Most good gold streams are in mountainous

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com regions and under all the sand and gravel the solid basement rock is found, referred to as bedrock. Gold is very heavy and over time works its way down to bedrock.The number one goal of the beginning prospector should always be to find bedrock. The chances of finding gold on or near bedrock are far better than anywhere else. Even on bedrock it is the low points you seek, and so cracks, crevices, and pockets in bedrock are where gold is most likely to be trapped. A small pry bar or very large screwdriver along with a scoop or large spoon are very handy for splitting open and cleaning out bedrock crevices and pockets. The tiniest crevices can hold a little sand and gold. Finding bedrock and then collecting material from crevices and pockets to pan is your surest way to find success looking for gold. If no bedrock can be found gold also tends to deposit with much larger rocks and boulders. Sand bars and bars made up of small gravel should be avoided. Look for large rock piles or boulder piles and dig around the bases of the boulders. Digging


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Gold nuggets like these are traditionally found in streams. Most good gold streams are in mountainous regions, and under all the sand and gravel the solid basement rock is found, referred to as bedrock. (STEVE HERSCHBACH)

under large rocks embedded in the stream banks can be good, be always be very careful never to undermine a large rock enough that it could roll over and hurt someone! WHATABOUTMETAL detectors? Metal detecting for gold is a subject in itself. Properly de-

58 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

signed metal detectors can find gold and in fact many people, including the author, specialize in this type of gold locating. The price of entry is much higher, with the most popular detectors running from $500 to $800 and some professional models costing many thousands of dollars. The key thing is that a

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com gold pan can find tiny flakes of gold or even tiny gold dust. Metal detectors should be thought of as “nugget detectors� in that it takes an actual nugget of gold rather than a flake to set a detector off and the nugget must be within inches of the detector. Anyone with a gold pan and a shovel can find gold deeper than a metal detector will detect gold. The secret therefore to metal detecting for gold is seeking areas where larger gold lurks near the surface and in having extreme patience. Metal detectors made for prospecting also find many items that are not gold like nails or bullets and so digging junk is more common than finding gold. Good finds are rare but when they are made tend to be worth all the effort. The largest nuggets found by individual prospectors are usually found with metal detectors. Again, the real key to metal detecting is extreme patience and perseverance. If metal detecting for gold interests you, be sure to seek out detectors made specifically for prospecting. There are many good models these days all capable of


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MAPPING OUT CALIFORNIA’S GOLD Hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen will enjoy prospecting and panning for California gold. There is a lot of gold in both Southern and Northern California. In fact, the California gold deposits extend from the Mexican border all the way to the Oregon state line, and eastward to Arizona and Nevada. There are many gold sites near major population centers such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento, as well as near smaller cities and communities throughout the state. How do you locate gold? First, you’ll need a map. By knowing where gold has been found in the past, one can increase the odds of finding more gold. That’s where my Cocoa Beach, Fla.-based Big Ten Gold Panning and Gold Prospecting Maps (321-783-4595; goldmaps.com) comes in. I am an engineer, pilot and for-

60 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

mer NASA executive, and I’ve researched federal and state geological records. I developed a series of six maps showing over 6,000 gold deposit sites in California. The maps show the gold deposit locations and tell you how to pan and where to look for gold in a streambed. Throughout the gold regions many features are shown that are of direct interest to fishermen and hunters; every little creek and branch, river and lake are shown. You can tell the direction of flow of the little creeks. You will see primary and secondary roads, railroads airports, dams, canyons, deserts, dry washes, etc. Though many large California nuggets ranging up to 54 pounds in the past, you may only find a few specks. But it’s a fun outdoor activity the family can enjoy the year-round. You can order large-scale gold maps in color on my website, goldmaps.com. -Charles Overbey

One of Charles Overbey’s maps which identify California areas with gold deposit sites. (BIG TEN MAPS)


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finding gold nuggets. Finally, where do you go look for gold? Always look where gold has already been found. There are many rules and regulations governing prospecting these days, and searching for gold on public land can get pretty complicated.The easiest and quickest way to get going is to Google“gold panning locations” which will bring up many lists including my own at detectorprospector.com. Some of these are private fee-type locations, but there are very many free panning locations, especially in the western United States. Gold panning is a very low-level activity but even then there can be specific rules about where you can dig and where you can pan, so be sure that no matter which location you choose you learn what the rules are before going there. You can also look for places of your own to prospect for gold. Lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have many areas designated as “open to mineral entry.” That means you may enter these lands and

prospect for gold, and in most cases do so with a gold pan, sluice box, or metal detector without special permitting. You can even stake a mining claim if you find a good location. The problem lies in navigating the records offices to find out what land is open and what land is already claimed by other prospectors. The best place to get started in this regard is the nearest BLM or USFS office. If that seems a bit intimidating, there are numerous clubs you can join where helpful people can give you a head start. Many of these clubs have their own mining claims for the use of their members, and this can be an extremely good way for the beginner to learn the tricks of the trade from more experienced people. Also be vocal with all your friends and acquaintances, telling them you are interested in gold prospecting. You will be amazed to find out that person you have worked with for years has an uncle who has a mining claim, and that you would be welcome to visit and look for gold. Many mining claim owners are just regular folks with regular day jobs like you and me. They

MIXED BAG are all around you if you just take the time to find out who they are. In closing, you may be wondering whether you really can go out and find gold. Surely it has all been picked over and is gone after all these years. The truth is regular people are making good gold finds all the time. There are numerous Internet forums that cater to small-scale prospectors and weekend warriors, and a week never goes by without some rather nice finds being posted for all to see. I am more serious than most, and I do quite well every year looking for gold by myself or with friends. There is a whole new world of adventure waiting for you out there is you give it just a little effort. Good luck! CS Editor’s note: Steve Herschbach is a lifelong Alaskan who relocated to Reno, Nev., in 2013. He has a lifetime of experience prospecting and metal detecting and is an acknowledged expert in the field. Visit his website at detectorprospector.com, or email him atcontact@detectorprospector.com.

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THE HIGHWAY VS. FRIENDLY SKIES

OUT-OF-STATE HUNTING TRIP? DRIVE IT

By Tim E. Hovey

L

ast year I took a hunting trip to Wyoming to hunt predators and small game with my good friend, Darrin Bergen.This was my second trip out to his home state and this time I decided to drive. Flying is obviously a faster way to travel, but I’d rather take the money spent on tickets and luggage fees and apply that to traveling on my own terms. For over a decade now I’ve made annual trips out of state to hunt or fish. For the most part I fly, but on a handful of trips to nearby states, like Arizona and Nevada, I’ve driven.

At times, flying to your destination may be the only way to go. However, I find that driving to out-of-state hunts is stress-free, cheaper and adds to the overall adventure. It does require a bit more planning, but I’ve noticed that the benefits strongly outweigh any extra effort.

Save some money One of the main reasons I like to drive instead of fly, is the cost savings. Airline travel prices have risen drastically over the last decade. Increase in airline fuel prices has forced companies to try and squeeze every penny from already over-taxed travelers.

Higher ticket prices and additional per baggage fees can cost $500 to $700 for a roundtrip flight and traveling sportsmen can look to spend even more. Hunters traveling with firearms are obviously required to check their gun cases if they’re traveling by air. If your hunt is successful and you plan to bring meat back, you’ll have to think about bringing a cooler as well. That’s an additional fee, and, if you overpack it on the return trip, plan to pay more. Add in a clothes bag and additional gear, and before the wheels leave the ground, you’re down

The author’s trusted truck, “Electric Blue Thunder,” makes a stop just after crossing into Wyoming. An out-of-state hunt, with your surplus of gear that you’d have to check-in at the airport, makes driving from California an option if you have the time to take to get behind the wheel. (TIM E. HOVEY) JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 63


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You can’t get this close-up of a bison herd sitting in seat 25D on a commercial flight from California to your hunting destination. (TIM E. HOVEY)

close to $200 just getting your gear there and back. I’d rather spend that money gassing up my truck and seeing the country. Having your own transportation when you get to wherever you’re going is also a huge reason I drive. On flying trips, I’ve either had to rely on my host to drive me around or I’d spend the extra money on a rental car. Having my own vehicle gives me the freedom to explore as much as I like and keeps the potential rental car fees in my pocket.

Taking whatever you want The limited items I would have to check and pay for if I were flying now ride with me for free. The expensive rifle case, which disappears during check-in, and receives unknown handling during the flight, is never out of my sight during the drive. I can also take just about any additional gear I want without worrying about additional fees. As a hunter, I’m always hopeful that my hunt will be successful. Bringing back meat on any trip involves thinking ahead and planning for proper transport. This is difficult to do if you fly. When I drive I can carry several empty spare coolers and properly package and transport meat back with me. I’m also not restricted to a weight limit like I would be if I had to check the cooler during a flight.

Time belongs to me When you figure in transportation to the airport, suggested arrival times prior to boarding, stopovers, time waiting at baggage claim

64 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

and transportation from the airport at your destination, you can easily spend an entire day when you travel by air. I can use all that time to my leisure when I’m driving myself. I don’t have to worry about arrival and departure times, fees or rides to and from the airport or the unnerving crowds. If my trip needs to be shortened or extended, I don’t need to make any special airline arrangements, likely costing me an extra fee. I can also take the time and enjoy the adventure of seeing new areas and getting there myself. During my trip last year I was 60 miles from my destination when I spotted a herd of bison near the road, warming themselves in the sun. I was able to pull off, take a few photos and just enjoy the encounter. In my opinion, it’s interactions like these that add so much more to the overall outdoor adventure when you drive.

Gassing up It’s obvious that fuel is the big expense when you travel by vehicle. However, if you plan ahead, you can save some money here as well. California has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country. I always make sure I remember this when I return home.To save money, I’ll fuel up outside of California before I come back in. Years ago I was driving back into California from Oregon. Eight miles from the border, I decided to skip an Oregon refuel and gas up in my home state. I ended up paying an extra $1 a gallon for that mistake. I usually save even more by paying cash for my fuel as I travel. Most gas stations offer

travelers lower fuel prices if you pay in cash as opposed to a credit card. I also fuel up any extra gas cans I may have used on the trip before coming back into California, saving a little bit more.

Seeing the sights The best thing about being on the ground and driving is that you get to see the country you’re driving through. I love exploring new areas and being able to go at my own pace. I understand that dealing with the airline time requirements and fees is part of today’s travel world. But I find I’m stressed during the entire air travel time, and I certainly don’t look forward to doing it all over again during the return flight. I’ve seen lots of different species of wildlife during my traveling trips. Last year I saw coyote, bobcat, quail, mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, elk, and bison, and that was all from the road. The scenery through much of Utah and Wyoming, both new driving states to me, was amazing and even more picturesque due to a recent snow storm. These are sights that you can only appreciate from the ground.

Staying safe It stands to reason that if you drive somewhere by yourself, you should take precautions to prepare and stay safe. No matter where my rig is headed, I make absolutely sure that my basic safety gear is on board. I always pack a shovel, a tow strap, jumper cables and some basic tools. I carry a 5-gallon


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jug of water and spare fuel cans as well. A few blankets, a first aid kit and a small container of granola bars and beef jerky are always common staples on any trip. It’s also a good practice to let people know where you’re going and which route you’re taking when you drive long distances. I like to text or make calls when I gas up along the way, updating my friends and family on my progress. I make sure they’re aware of any unforeseen issues or changes in routes I may make during the trip. It’s just common sense to stay in contact with others when you head out.

Things to think about Just about every smartphone now has a travel app that is convenient and very easy to use. Just plug in the address of your destination and several routes are mapped out for you. This is a great way to travel, but I always plan ahead in case something goes wrong with my device, or I lose coverage. I love today’s technology and use it frequently, but I never leave for a trip without a printed map

66 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Bighorn sheep are among the jaywalkers you may encounter on Wyoming’s backroads. (TIM E. HOVEY) and directions. Speed limits in surrounding states are usually set higher than what we’re used to here in California. I’ve encountered limits as high as 85 mph in some states. Believe me, when you feel the freedom to go a little faster on the highway, it’s easy to get carried away. Whenever I see a higher highway

speed limit, I set my cruise control to the limit and let the truck handle the acceleration. I save time and money by packing a small cooler with waters, snacks and food for the trip. It’s certainly easy to visit one of the thousands of fast-food establishments along the way. However, I can save time and some money bringing my own healthier food. Eating what I pack rather than what’s available helps to keep my energy level up on longer drives. Before you head out, take a few minutes to check out the weather forecast for not only your destination but your planned route. During the trip last year, I left 78-degree weather only to encounter a severe snow storm in Wyoming, with temperatures in the teens. I was prepared for the weather shift, but hitting different weather patterns is just part of what you have to deal with when you travel yourself. We found out later that the weather I encountered during the drive had grounded the flights in and out of parts of Wyoming for the day. Driving to my outdoor destination will be my primary mode of transportation if at all possible. It does take a little extra planning, but I find that I really enjoy preparing for the trip just as much as traveling. When I pulled back up to my friend Darrin’s house after last year’s trip I was tired, but void of stress. I had an additional $500 in my pocket for whatever the week brought, and when it came time to head home, I was actually looking forward to the drive. In September I’m headed back to hunt antelope with Darrin. And I can’t wait to drive myself out there again. CS


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GETTING INTO SURVIVAL MODE EMERGENCY PREPARDNESS AND PREPPERS EXPO TELLS HOW

The Cocos Fire in May burned at least 2,000 acres and destroyed 36 buildings, mostly homes, in the city of San Marcos in northern San Diego County. Being prepared for unforeseen disasters like this is at the heart of this month’s P4P Self-Reliance Expo in Pomona. (MIKE STEVENS)

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“prepper”is not anti-salt, nor is he or she singing catchy tunes between sips of a similar-sounding doctorate soft drink. Preppers are preparing for the worst, as in surviving a natural disaster, coping with being lost in the woods on a hiking trip gone awry, or, worst-case scenario, being ready for the apocalyptic end of the world. This is a growing movement that now features a hit reality show, Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic Channel, countless websites and clubs, plus a small colony of Facebook and Twitter pages (@PrepperCentral has 29,800 followers). Now, Prepper Expos are popular around the country. On June 21 and 22, Fairplex in Pomona hosts the P4P Self-Reliance Expo (p4pexpo.com). “At the P4P Expo, families can explore

self-reliance, enjoy numerous seminars and demonstrations, learn survival skills, and find the newest products, supplies and resources needed to sustain and protect your family in the event of a natural or man-made disaster,” the event’s website says. And it’s a very serious issue to see your life turned upside down by a tragic event that you weren’t expecting. “We want to see every American household properly prepared for any negative or difficult event that may come in their lives that would cause the world as they know it to change,” says the mission statement of an organization known as the American Preppers Network (americanpreppersnetwork.com) “This type of event is most commonly on a personal level: the death of an imme-

diate family member, an all-consuming house fire, debilitating sickness or injury or a sudden devastating financial change such as losing a job.” Tim Ralston of Gear Up (gearupcenter.com) and one of the stars on the aforementioned Doomsday Preppers, is among the scheduled guest speakers in Pomona. Ralston will present several outdoor survival tips and, according to the show’s website,“the latest in survival and outdoor gear innovations.” Just last month, Southern California wildfires burned at least 20,000 acres at various spots in San Diego County, including one of the worst in San Marcos. The Cocos Fire destroyed 36 homes and a commercial building, forcing evacuations from the city of 83,000 north of San Diego. “Southern California may be no

JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 69


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800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com The devastation in the aftermath of the blazes that burned in San Marcos, one of several spring wildfires in Southern California, is a sign that being prepared for natural disasters is imperative. (MIKE STEVENS)

stranger to wildfires, but the fact that they were unseasonably early this year left many residents unprepared for the evacuation,” Ralston’s Gear Up blog wrote. “When a catastrophe such as this occurs, it is already too late to make plans and gather supplies. Time is indeed of the essence, and all that matters is getting your loved ones out of harm’s way.” That’s what the organizers of the P4P Expo hope visitors can learn from attending the event.

“It seems as if there have been more and more of these unpredicted disasters taking place across our nation,” the Gear Up blog said. “While the Midwest may be prepared for tornadoes, the East Coast certainly wasn’t prepared for Superstorm Sandy, just as Atlanta wasn’t prepared for the horrific winter weather. Because the unknown can happen anywhere and at any time, is why you should develop an evacuation plan before a catastrophic event,

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and not after.” Other event speakers include David Pruett, an emergency physician who will give a presentation on treating wounds in crisis situations; author Stephen Scott, who will lecture on growing your own sustainable food; solar chef La Joie, LifeTank water system president Dave Fourcar; Dr. Michael Austin, a back specialist who treats patients without drugs, herbs or oils; and food preservation specialist Dan Neville. CS


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STEELHEAD IN LOS ANGELES?! BOOK RECALLS SPECIES’ UNLIKELY FISHING PAST IN SOCAL Editor’s note: For many, the words Los Angeles steelhead recall an April Fool’s Day fishing story written by a well-known California guide and which appeared in another West Coast sportsmen’s magazine several years ago. But it’s true: the Southland once had steelhead, and the fish are the subject of a new book, John G. Tomlinson, Jr.’s Against The Currents: The Unlikely Story Of The Southern California Steelhead. The following is an excerpt from that: By John G. Tomlinson, Jr.

T

he early winter months of 1940 and 1941 turned out to be some of the finest years for steelhead sightings in the Los Angeles River. In January 1940 a grinning Leonard Hogue was photographed holding a fish 25 inches long, weighing perhaps 5 or more pounds. On March 1 the Los Angeles Times covered an equally unlikely steelhead catch. This time William Greyfox had caught a 25-inch, 6½pound steelhead with his bare hands in ankle-deep water. The photo that accompanied the article showed Greyfox cleaning the fish in the company of five uniformed – and grinning – police officers. When he caught the steelhead, he was on a prisoner work furlough serving a 30day jail term. A year later, on March 11, 1941, the Times reported, “large schools of steelhead trout were running up the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers to spawn, facing certain destruction if the stage of water in the streams falls.” The article noted that Los Angeles County fish and game warden Spence D. Turner was so concerned that he had begun discussions with leaders of the County Flood Control District on how to save “thousands of them,” if the fish were unable to return to the ocean. Steelhead were appearing in far greater numbers than

in previous years, said Turner. The recorded size of those two 1940 steelhead combined with the reported numbers of fish in 1941 are powerful indicators of the rich, yet little detailed history of the Southern California steelhead over the past century. These accounts illustrate that even under the most environmentally challenging conditions, both natural and manmade, the Southern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) still showed up to renew its biological quest to reproduce. The story of the Southern California steelhead documents the triumph of nature over manmade impediments, of survival over extinction. THE PRESENT COURSE of the Los Angeles

River runs nearly 50 miles to the ocean from its San Fernando Valley source near Canoga Park. Historically, tributaries such as Pacoima Creek, Tujunga Creek, and the Arroyo Seco, among many others, contributed to the river’s flow above Los Angeles. The likes of Rio Hondo, with its source near Whittier, join the Los Angeles River near South Gate. Like the river itself, the tributaries were occasionally flood-swollen, but more often than not, they were little more than dry river beds. After 1938, when the Los Angeles County Flood Control District teamed up with the

As this postcard (circa 1910) reflects, the San Gabriel River that meanders through current Southern California communities like Whittier, Pico Rivera, Baldwin Park and Downey was once a prime steelhead fishery. (JOHN G. TOMLINSON JR.)

Army Corps of Engineers to harness the worst flooding they thought the river was capable of, the river bottom south of the Glendale Narrows adjacent to the eastern edge of Elysian Park to its mouth was coated in concrete. Just south of the Narrows is the chief tributary of the Los Angeles River, the Arroyo Seco, which joined the Los Angeles River a few hundred yards south of Elysian Park near the Pasadena Freeway. The bottom of the Arroyo Seco, which, like most Southern California rivers and streams, lived up to its name, “dry canyon,” was dressed in concrete as well. But before the concrete bottom, Oncorhynchus mykiss were common inhabitants of the Arroyo Seco. In its pre-and post-concretized state, the Arroyo Seco River runs northeast of Los Angeles toward Pasadena. In an area just north of the JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 73


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Henry O’Melveny, a powerful Los Angeles attorney who started his law practice in 1881, was also a fly fishing addict who improved the road access to the San Gabriel River and allowed for an easier trip for the great steelheading in the first half of the 20th Century. (JOHN G. TOMLINSON JR.)

Pasadena Rose Bowl, it turns north towards the San Gabriel Mountains, coursing up past where the Jet Propulsion Laboratory now stands to a hiker’s resort, Switzer’s camp, roughly at 4,000 feet elevation. Red Box, a west-facing, 5,200-foot shoulder of Mt. Wilson, is the source of the Arroyo Seco. Along the 25-mile footprint of the Arroyo, especially where the river gained elevation, rainbow trout were permanent residents. In the winter months of heavy rains and subsequent flood years, when the Arroyo Seco’s flow could reach over 8,000 cubic feet per second, the trout were joined by their much larger migratory cousins, the steelhead trout. We know that rainbow trout and their steelhead brethren inhabited the Arroyo Seco because Charles Frederick Holder (1851-1915) wrote about them. Because of what and who he knew, Holder’s opinion held and continues to hold gravitas. Holder, ill health and all, arrived in Pasadena in 1885 to give the Southern California climate and nature a shot at easing his pulmonary maladies. Accompanying his poor physical health was a naturalist’s curiosity honed by a brief education at the United States Naval Academy and five years as a curator at the American 74 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Museum of Natural History. There, he learned to see the natural world with equal measures of discipline and revere. Both orientations served him well during his 30 years in Southern California. Within two decades of his arrival, Holder boasted an extensive record of creating enduring Southern California institutions. Among them was a life as professor of zoology and trustee at Pasadena’s Throop Academy (from which Cal Tech evolved). He was also founder of the Pasadena Rose Parade Association and the Tuna Club on Catalina Island. An extensive publication record in the general area of post-Darwinian naturalism and evolution earned him the title of professor. He was also known for his skills as a fisherman and hunter along the Pacific Coast, especially in Southern California. Holder was the founder of American big game fishing and held several record catches off of Catalina Island. His knowledge of saltwater game fish included an informed mindfulness of the Southern California steelhead, especially in its freshwater behavior. Holder, writing in Abbot Kinney’s Forrest and Water (1900) about the fish of the Southern California forests, called the steelhead the largest trout of the southern range whose gaminess earned it the title, “a

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com magnificent creature.” If Hogue’s 1940 steelhead was photographic validation of the rare presence of steelhead in the Los Angeles River watershed, Holder’s written descriptions of trout and steelhead in the Arroyo Seco before 1906 bore witness to the fish in the river’s tributaries. A Life in the Open (1906), Holder’s paean to the virtues of life in nature on the hunt with rifle and rod on the streams of the San Gabriel Mountains (then known as the Sierra Madre mountains), included a chapter entitled A Rainbow in the Sierra Madre. Holder’s celebration was inclusive of the stream-bound rainbow trout as well as the steelhead. In Rainbow, Holder describes in near rhapsodic tones, the joy of seeing, casting flies to, and catching trout and steelhead in the Arroyo Seco River. He experienced the fishery as an integral part of the Los Angeles River, where in stretches it disappeared into sand. But in heavy rainfall years – approaching 20 inches was enough – the river ran to the ocean, affording steelhead a return upstream passage to the San Gabriel Mountains. In these upperstream sections of the Arroyo Seco, Holder’s successes included taking 2and 3-pound trout from water barely 2 feet deep; the size of these trout, he asserts, indicates that they had spent time in the ocean. Holder tells the reader that a reliable colleague reported having taken a fish that weighed almost 14 pounds. Holder himself tells of hooking an Arroyo fish of similar size, one that ignored all of his flies, some embroidered with a worm. Finally a live tree toad enticed the fish to strike. Holder last saw the fish bounding downstream, headed perhaps to the Los Angeles River and the Pacific Ocean. Like all fishermen, Holder wondered why it is always the largest fish that escapes. Enthusiastic recollections of steelhead in the Arroyo Seco notwithstanding, Holder also behaved in ways that compromised the natural habitat of the fish. Founder of the Pasadena Rose Parade,


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Once a serene river of life for ocean-going and returning steelhead trout, the San Gabriel River’s setting now is rather industrial as it completes its Pacific Ocean journey from Azusa to between the cities of Seal Beach and Long Beach. Steelhead this far south are all but nonexistent now. (ANDREW REITSMA)

he also championed the construction of the Rose Bowl itself, a structure that elbowed its way in the natural setting of the Arroyo Seco. In Rainbow, Holder shows himself as a sage observer of the in-stream and

76 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

oceanic habits of the fish, noting the presence of lagunas (pools of brackish water at the mouths of Southern California rivers). Separated by sand dunes at low tide, these estuaries serve as both a kind of way station for trav-

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com elling steelhead as well as an incubator for smolts before heading out to sea. High tides cause shallow channels to connect river to ocean, thus enabling steelhead entrance or exit to stream and ocean. Of the lagoons in Southern California streams, the most prominent – those lagoons which held steelhead – were located at the mouths of the Santa Ynez, San Gabriel, and the San Luis Rey Rivers, the latter in San Diego County. Mindful of the range of the Southern California steelhead, Holder elected to illustrate his 1912 book Fishes of the Pacific Coast with a photograph of a Ventura River steelhead trout. Invoking Holder as a kind of documentarian of the steelhead’s presence in the Los Angeles River reminds us of the real presence of steelhead in even the most unlikely of rivers. IF BY 1940 steelhead in the Los Angeles

River and the pages of the Los Angeles


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So did citrus growers and beer brewers. As if to emulate the Los Angeles Brewery on the banks of the Los Angeles, the Lucky Lager Brewing Company constructed a brewery on the San Gabriel in 1949 less than 2 miles downriver from the canyon mouth. Roughly 20 miles east from downtown Los Angeles, the San Gabriel River canyon was by 1890 reachable by public rail transportation to Azusa. Access was by buck board and stage coach, a ride that required many river crossings before reaching the resorts on the East, North, and West Forks. Burros transported fishing parties to tent camps; the hardiest hiked. Of course, heavy flood water made the head-water forks of the San Gabriel River unreachable. The San Gabriel River’s reputation as a trout-rich watershed was public knowledge by the 1880s. As early as 1859 and continuing through at least 1945, newspapers in Azusa, Pasadena,

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com and Los Angeles chatted up the exploits of trout fisherman in the San Gabriel Canyon who camped for days at a time on the hard-to-reach West and East Forks. Before 1900 hundreds of trout per day were taken; until 1905 the state limit on trout was one hundred fish per day. Alarmed by the wanton trout kills, the Fish and Game Commission reduced the limit to fifty fish per day. Former governor of California and Pasadena resident Henry Markham successfully fished the West Fork in 1896, when a photo captured him in camp showing off a stringer of what appears to be a limit. In 1946 Stuart O’Melveny, reminiscing about the San Gabriel River, thought “that there was no other trout stream in Southern California that could compare with it.” Jackson Graves went one accolade further, saying that before 1900, the San Gabriel was the best trout river in California. Both Angelenos shared an-

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Times were anomalous occurrences, reports of steelhead in the San Gabriel River watershed were part and parcel of the opening of the trout and steelhead seasons. After all, the San Gabriel River was known as one of the most brilliant jewels in Southern California’s steelhead and trout fishing crown. Including its tributaries, the San Gabriel River ran roughly 43 miles from the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon on the western edge of Azusa, past its downriver municipalities, 19 all told. This included Whittier, El Monte, Pico Rivera, Baldwin Park, Downey, Seal Beach, and Long Beach, before spilling its waters and sediment into Alamitos Bay in Long Beach. By 1900, as now, many public agencies and private enterprises staked claims to the water both above ground and below. Cities like Whittier and Long Beach depend, in part, on the water that percolates into the river’s porous sands to renew and refresh aquifers.

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The mouth of the Los Angeles River, which begins its journey to the Pacific Ocean in the San Fernando Valley near Canoga Park, once was full of steelhead. Today, organizations like the Friends of the Los Angeles River hope to rekindle the former great fishery’s past.

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other common trait: a near life-long relationship with Henry O’Melveny, father to Stuart and law partner to Graves. Henry O’Melveny (18591941), who founded the prominent law firm now known as O’Melveny Myers, was as gifted presenting a dry fly to San Gabriel River trout as he was presenting his arguments to a jury


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in a Los Angeles courtroom. In 1881 Henry O’Melveny launched his legal practice with Graves, a Los Angelesborn attorney with passions for hunting and fishing that matched those of his new partner. Both men, but especially O’Melveny, invested their legal skills and financial resources in creating enduring Southern California institutions. Real estate development companies, banks, electrical power companies, water companies, and gas companies were only a few of the clients that made the Graves & O’Melveny law firm arguably the most influential law practice in Southern California. When not practicing law, O’Melveny was a symbol of the rugged, yet gentlemanly fly fisherman. He was the representative of the culture of trout in the region. When O’Melveny formed the Creel Club in 1889, he gave permanence to the idea of trout fishing, particularly with flies. Indeed, reporting on the trout fishery of the San Gabriel River became part of the greater promotion of Southern California as a place of living in a health-restoring relationship with nature. POPULATION GROWTH AND economic expansion dramatically altered the Southern California environment throughout the 20th Century, bringing the Southern California steelhead to the brink of extinction. And while

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MIXED BAG some ichthyologists estimate that more than 90 percent of original stocks of Southern California steelhead may have disappeared, extinction is not a foregone conclusion. Over the past four decades, the number of organizations seeking to protect and restore what Holder called “a magnificent fish” has grown. If manmade behaviors, indifferent to the presence of the steelhead, endangered the fish, countering manmade scrutiny has recognized the crisis and proposed recovery solutions. Now, through correcting and collective efforts, manmade actions, informed by current biological understandings of the fish and its environment, are in play to restore steelhead to its natural terrain. Bringing the steelhead to the people and the people to the steelhead fits in neatly with the educational vision of the Aquarium of the Pacific (opened in 1998). Even its location in

82 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

PRO-CURE BAIT SCENTS

Long Beach makes a historical point germane to the steelhead. The aquarium is situated less than a mile southeast of the mouth of the Los Angeles and approximately 7 miles from the mouth of the San Gabriel in Alamitos Harbor. The aquarium is on the very banks of two rivers in which steelhead once thrived and may do so once again. It is no surprise, then, that the aquarium opened a steelhead exhibit in 2014 that extends the message of steelhead biologists, advocates, and policymakers to a much broader public. With 1.5 million visitors each year, it is the fourth-most-attended aquarium in the U.S. Asserting itself as a place where important contemporary oceanic issues can be explored by scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders, the aquarium is well placed to vet topics, such restoration of Southern California steelhead. The exhibit, Southern California Steelhead Story, transports guests to

800-776-2873 www.pro-cure.com the native habitat of Southern California steelhead. Populated by O. mykiss from regional streams, the exhibit includes stream-bound rainbow trout and steelhead when they are available. The exhibit discusses the biology and history surrounding steelhead in Southern California. Other organizational voices are drawn to the steelhead recovery chorus because of what it represents to a much befouled Southern California watershed. For the Friends of the Los Angeles River, the steelhead is much more than a sportfish, it is a symbol of clean water and seasonal flows that 75 years ago enabled steelhead to return to its spawnable watershed. CS Editor’s note: Against The Currents: The Unlikely Story Of The Southern California Steelhead is published by Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It is available at the gift shop there and online at aquariumofpacific.org.


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PHOTO CONTEST

WINNERS! Steve Gutierrez of South San Francisco loves to fish the salt waters around the Bay Area. In April, he was on a boat with Light’s Out Sportfishing in Suisun Bay around the Mothball Fleet area using eel scented with Pro-Cure Garlic Bloody Tuna when he hooked this 50-inch sturgeon. Steve said it was quite a fight before finally landing the fish. He is this month’s Wright & McGill/Eagle Claw Photo Contest Winner. Steve will receive $50 worth of Lazer Sharp Hooks, pliers and a Lazer Sharp Hat.

Grand Prize Winner!

It was a tough call for the Browning Photo Contest judges to pick a grand prize winner from our excellent pool of finalists over the past year. There was Anthony Delcollo and his pronghorn, Patrick Gottsch and his stormyday muley, Chris Bell’s pooch Mojo and his wintry ringneck, the Lings and their gobbler, and Shawn Marsall’s touching photo of father and daughter and her first turkey. Ultimately, we chose Alex Tanner for his crisp, clean photo of his Snake River, Wash., mule deer buck. Congrats, Alex, you’ve won a Browning Buckmark pistol! And now, California sportsmen, let’s keep those images coming!

For your shot at winning Wright & McGill/Eagle Claw and Browning products, send your photographs to ccocoles@media-inc.com or California Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124-0365. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for our print or Internet publications.

84 California Sportsman JUNE 2014


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FISHING

ALMANOR’S HUNGRY FISH AWAIT CONTESTANTS A Lake Almanor fish caught at last year’s derby. Tournament director Gary Coe said the lake’s conditions have improved from last year, and trolling with flashers and dodgers with worms will catch the most fish. (KOKANEEPOWER.ORG)

TEAM TROUT AND SALMON DERBY AT PLUMAS COUNTY LAKE By Luke Kelly CHESTER—Kokanee Power and the Almanor Fishing Association are hosting a team trout and salmon derby on Saturday, June 14 on Lake Almanor. The lake, located in Plumas County in northeastern California, offers exceptional opportunities to catch brown and rainbow trout, not to mention sizeable king salmon.

The Lake Almanor Team Trout and Salmon derby will give anglers the opportunity to test their fishing prowess against fellow fishermen, as well as the chance to walk away with a hefty chunk of change. The first place team wins $600, and the payouts go all the way down to 15th place. The derby costs $45 for a Kokanee Power (kokaneepower.com) member and $55 for a nonmember. The derby is

open to all ages, and teams get to weigh in a total of three fish (rainbows, browns, or kings). Teams are made up of one or more anglers, with a limit of one boat per team. There are also three side pots: “Blind Bogey” (the heaviest limit plus the lightest limit, divided by two), and pots for the biggest king and the biggest trout caught, each of which are $20 per team. There is a junior division for those anglers under the age of 16. Derby chairman Gary Coe of Kokanee Power expects a good turnout this JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 89


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FISHING year at the lake. “This is our third annual derby. We’ve had close to 100 participants the last two years, and the fishing’s been great,� says Coe. As far as conditions on Lake Almanor go, Coe says that they are favorable thus far. “From what I understand, the fishing on Almanor is better than it’s been in years,� he explains. “The fish are heavier, feistier, and I think it has to do with the winter we’ve had. The fish are just eating like pigs. I understand they’re catching 20-inch rainbows up there.� Although a variety of tactics have been producing on Lake Almanor this spring, Coe says that trolling is promoted during the event. “We prefer that people troll,� he says. “We really push for following all of the California state rules and regulations. Most people troll for the kings. You’ll see people trolling flashers and dodgers and worms, and you see people using various kinds of bait while hard-sticking it.�

Brown trout are among Lake Almanor’s most popular attractions for anglers. The Lake Almanor Team Trout and Salmon Derby is scheduled for June 14 at the popular Plumas County fishery. (KOKANEEPOWER.ORG)

Coe speculates a variety of baits will be used in the tournament, which is fine, just so long as they are legal. Participants, aside from counting on a great fishing experience, can take pride in knowing that the entry fee goes to a worthy cause. Kokanee Power is a nonprofit, dedicated “to the enhancement of California and Oregon inland kokanee, trout and salmon fisheries.� The proceeds from the Almanor derby

will go to raising up to 15,000 fish to be released into the lake’s waters. “All of the funding that comes from the event goes directly to the cost of fish growth in Almanor,� says Coe. “We (raise and) turn loose catchable 12-, 14and 16-inch rainbow trout into the lake for people to catch. So we help out the fishery.� Registration is due a week before the derby. Check-in will be at Almanor Campground (Almanor Drive west off of Highway 89). The derby starts at 5:30 a.m. sharp, and fish must be weighed in by 2 p.m. “A great big lunch,� as Coe puts it, is included in the entry fee, provided by the Almanor Fishing Association (almanorfishingassociation.com). In putting on the derby, Coe says that he and his organization hope to promote both healthy fisheries and to share the joys of fishing with others. “We’re just a bunch of fisherman and we want to make sure that our fisheries are here for our kids and grandkids.� CS

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FISHING

Convict Lake is one of the most popular Eastern Sierra fisheries. This month’s Hangman’s Bonus Derby Weekend event features 12 special Alper’s-stocked trout worth up to $2,000 in prizes. (CONVICT LAKE RESORT)

ROUNDING UP TROPHY TROUT CONVICT LAKE DERBY FEATURES A DOZEN TAGGED FISH By Luke Kelly MAMMOTH LAKES-Stunning views and

exceptional fishing opportunities aside, visitors to Convict Lake in California’s Sherwin Range have yet another reason to take to the water this June. Convict Lake Resort is sponsoring two fishing derbies this month, allowing anglers to test their trout fishing expertise in order to win some great prizes, not to mention some cold, hard cash. The first derby, called Round-up at the Lake, has been running since April

27, and will continue to run until June 12. The entry fee is $15, and participants can win up to $6,000 worth of resort prizes, on top of receiving a commemorative pin, and a one-year subscription to California Sportsman. The competition runs from sunrise to sunset, and all fish that are 14 inches or longer can be registered (limit one entry per angler). Every person who registers a fish will be entered into the drawing of prizes, which will then be drawn at random. For those anglers in search of a quicker thrill, they should certainly check out Hangman’s Bonus Derby

Weekend, which is a part of Roundup at the Lake. The bonus derby takes place on the weekend of June 6-8. Twelve Alper’s-raised trout will be tagged and stocked specifically for the derby. With a total $2,000 worth of cash prizes to be awarded for anglers, each tagged fish will have a prize that corresponds with the tag: one $1,000 prize, one $500 prize, and $50 prizes for the remaining 10 special trout. Remember, the tags must be intact at the time of check-in, or the fish will be disqualified. Check-in is at the general store before closing. Although catching the trout is, to a large degree, a matter of skill, and winning the prizes a matter of some good luck, you can certainly improve your chances of winning by following the advice of Convict Lake Resort’s (760-934-3800; convictlakeresort.com) own Charles Porter when it comes to what has been producing on the lake. As far as baits that have seen some success this season, Porter recommends keeping it simple. JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 93


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FISHING

Kai Ishisara of Monterey Park caught this 7pound, 14-ounce rainbow on a mini-jig at Convict Lake. (CONVICT LAKE RESORT)

“A plain nightcrawler, and PowerBait – yellows and rainbows are probably the most popular colors,” he says. “People have been doing pretty good with jigs (like) Trout Teasers.” Convict Lake’s website reported 400 pounds of trophy trout were to be stocked toward the end of May, with an expected Department of Fish and Wildlife planting also around the same time. “The Thomas Buoyants work really well, and gold has been the most popular color,” Porter says. “A few people early in the morning use the fly and the bubble (spinning technique). And Woolly Buggers (are effective) too.” Whatever bait you choose, consider heading to Convict Lake this June for a chance to catch your trophy fish, and maybe win a prize or two while you’re at it. CS 94 California Sportsman JUNE 2014


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FISHING

LEAVING SPIN CITY LIMITS MAKING THE TRANSITION TO FLY FISHING By Mike Stevens

I

had at least a decade of Eastern Sierra trout fishing in my rearview mirror before I ever picked up a fly rod with the intent of using it up there. Like everyone else, I started out as a bait dunker but quickly evolved to “lure chucking-only” status, and I had it dialed. Spinners, spoons, jigs and flies on a fly-and-bubble rig were all part of my arsenal, and I was heading up Highway 395 with a goal of catching triple-digit numbers of fish on each trip. Then, several specific moments caused my gaze to be drawn to fly fishing. One time I was in the Mammoth Lakes backcountry and doing pretty well for myself on brook trout

and the occasional wild rainbow on trout jigs and Kastmasters, but saw a guy hauling in a brookie on every cast on his fly rod. He easily outfished me 4-to-1. Then there was the time I was on the upper Owens River when trout started busting the surface all over the place in the middle of the day, but they avoided everything I threw at them like the plague as they keyed in on only what was hatching at that specific moment. Another instance was when I strolled along a stretch of Hot Creek (fly fishing only) and immediately knew that I had to fish it as soon as possible. That being said, I still didn’t pick up a “long rod” immediately, or even in the next couple seasons as I made excuse after excuse due to misconceptions in my head, and I was just intimidated. If you are on the fence about it, or my personal backstory sounds familiar to you, hopefully this will shed some light on fly fishing for trout, and if you feel the same way I did, allow me to shoot your excuses down and get you in the game. “I already know how to catch Sierra trout”

Let me start by saying, despite what some of my flyfishing mentors tell me, I will never turn into a 100percent fly fisherman. I love chucking lures for trout way too much, and speaking more recently, I’m nuts about fishing plastics for them as well. Fly fishing opens doors to more trout-fishing opportunities and in some cases, better quality fish. These days, spots like the upper Owens River, Hot Creek and Walker River are open year-round, so now there doesn’t have to be an offseason. But those waters are open only to fly fishing. There are other watersheds that are also fly only (full- or part-time) to protect world-class fisheries that hold the likes of golden trout, trophy browns, cutthroat or even brookies from big hooks and swallowed bait rigs. Any time you see that an area is fly-fishing only, it’s a telltale sign that there is something special about that particular piece of trout water. “I’ll have to learn to fish all over again”

Fly rods can be pricey, some retailing for $500 or more, but there are perfectly suitable rods that can be found on sale at various outlets, including online. (MIKE STEVENS)

A buddy of mine is a veteran Sierra trout guy who was lucky enough to score a job in Mammoth Lakes, and he lived there for several years. Before long, I noticed that his fish reports always leaned toward fly fishJUNE 2014 California Sportsman 97


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FISHING ing, and I asked what the first steps he took in making the transition. What he said was so simple, and it made a ton of sense. “I went into (Rick’s Sport Center in Mammoth) and said, ‘I know how to fish. I want to learn how to fly fish,” and there it began. Surely he received a quick tutorial and a handful of flies, and from that point it was primarily trial, error and time on the water. The route I took was self-teaching as much as I could

control the line while it sits on the water, how to set the hook effectively, keeping constant and steady pressure on the fish at all times, and allowing the fish to run by giving it line,” says Doug Rodricks of Sierra Drifters Guide Service (760-9354250; sierradrifters.com). The point is, if you have experience fishing the Sierras and know how trout act in still or moving water, you already have eliminated a good chunk of the learning curve.

You don’t need a loaded tackle box full of specialty gear that has to be lugged on hikes from spot to spot. This is a sensible load to pack around on your trip. (MIKE STEVENS)

once you become more adept at fly fishing, you will realize that the rod is doing most of the work for you. That being said, if buying an outfit that is packaged this way but is worthy of serious use, check out the Redington Crosswater outfits, as they have bucked the trend and created a solid ready-to-fish combo. “Purchasing new gear for fly fishing does not have to cost an arm and a leg. A decent setup consisting of rod, reel, backing and fly line can be purchased anywhere from $85 to $150 and will get you through the beginning stages until you are ready to upgrade. Add to this list, about five to 10 fly patterns, some split shot, leader material, line cutters, a small net, and forceps and you are will equipped to get started,” adds Rodricks. “I’ll never be able to cast like that”

through books, magazines, the Internet and so on. Then I took it up a notch and took a casting class (twice). Now I am applying what I know on the water, and when I hit a speed bump, I just ask a pro and work through it. If you really want to dive in headfirst, fish with a guide for onthe-water instruction. No amount of instruction, reading, or casting into your backyard swimming pool is going to come close to the value of fishing with someone who does it for a living. “Learning to fish with a fly rod is also a simple task, and the more an angler does it the faster they will improve. Some of the more important aspects of fly fishing are learning to 98 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

“Gear is expensive”

It can be. Even a casual browse through the fly rods in a shop or catalog will reveal reels in the triple-digit range and rods well north of $500, but there are ways around it. You should first search for closeouts online in places like the Cabela’s Bargain Cave, or on sites like theclymb.com for quality gear – that might be discontinued or a few years old – on the cheap. My first setup was a St. Croix Premier rod that I scored for $49 (original retail price, $150) in the Cabela’s Bargain Cave, and a Redington reel that was 50 percent off at $70 in a fly shop’s online store. You really don’t want to start off with cheap combos like you may have with conventional fishing, because

One of the biggest deterrents is fear of the cast, and I am thoroughly convinced that this comes from fishing shows on TV and even Hollywood. You will be surprised at how short and basic a cast it takes in many Sierra situations to be fly fishing effectively in no time. No, you don’t need to be able to mimic the poetic casting seen in A River Runs Through It, or be able to roll out 50-yard spey casts as seen in steelhead rivers on the World Fishing Network. A 20-foot cast – and keep in mind, your leader is going to account for a good chunk of that – is all that is needed to catch brook trout at the inlet of a backcountry lake or in the middle channels of the Owens River. A 30-footer will put your fly on the opposite bank of the Owens, and, in smaller creeks, you aren’t really casting at all. Simply using the length of your rod and leader to plop your offering in a likely location can get the job done. “Once an angler learns the roll cast, which can be done in about 10 minutes, they can effectively fish with a fly rod in most situations, especially for trout,” says Rodricks. “Most of my


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Not sure about your ability to make long casts across wide rivers to get to a trout hole? In many of the high Sierra fishing spots, narrow streams like this one are teeming with fish. So distance is not always as important a variable as you might think. (MIKE STEVENS)

clients have hooked the majority of their fish between 15 to 25 feet from their rod tip.” When it comes to casting with trees behind you or in the wind, things can get more technical, but as you will

find in many Sierra trout situations, the simple casts are best.

daunting, but like casting, knowing how to use a couple of them will get the job done. These days, most fly lines are built with a loop on the end, which allows you to attach your leader (also with a loop tied on one end) with a simple loop-to-loop connection that is near impossible to screw up. A triple surgeon’s knot sounds tricky, but with a little practice you will realize it is one of the easiest fishing knots to tie, and it is used for attaching the end of your leader to your tippet (which is basically a small extension to the packaged leader). Then you just have to tie the fly on, which can be done with an improved clinch knot, or a number of other knots that you may already use for attaching lures to the business end of your spinning rig. “There are so many flies to choose from”

“There are so many knots!”

Saying “adios” to swivels when it comes to attaching line to line can be

Well, there are a lot of lures to choose from, too. Think about what lures you use; your arsenal is proba-

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Granted, there are a lot of flies to choose from, and at first glance, it can be like fly fishing’s way of scanning the cereal section at the grocery store. But the author says a few standard dry flies and terrestrials are likely to catch fish. (MIKE STEVENS)

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bly a combination of ones you consistently hear about working, classic trout lures that have been around forever, new ones that just look like they are going to work. These are ones the guy in the tackle shop suggested. Accumulating a solid selection of flies is no different. Start by filling your box with standard dries like the Adams, black gnat, blue-winged olive and stimulator as well as some terrestrials imitating grasshoppers, ants and even beetles. For subsurface, Pheasant Tail and Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, San Juan Worms, and streamers like Woolly Buggers and Matukas. These will give you a good base, and from this point on, visit a tackle shop with each trip and fill the ranks with what they tell you working at that moment on the specific waters you are fishing on. After a few years of this, you will have built the ultimate fly collection for not only Sierra trout, but trout anywhere. The short version to all of this is, it’s easier than you think. Start by getting some gear and a basic fly selection, then teach yourself (or get taught) on simple casts. Read up on standard rules like drag-free drifts and how to determine what a trout is feeding on based on how it is acting in the water, and, most importantly, get out on the water and work through it. CS JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 101


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Krystal Flash Nightmare

T

Article and images by Chris Gregersen

JIG OF THE MONTH

he Krystal Flash nightmare is a bold version of a tried-and-true standard. The nightmare color scheme has proven itself time and time again for both winter and summer steelhead. The attractive flash of this jig makes it shine over its subdued counterparts this time of year when water conditions are higher and the fish are fresh and aggressive. As spring progresses into summer I’ll tone down the flash of this jig and opt for more subdued colors and smaller sizes. This not only helps catch fish that have been pressured, but also matches the jig better with the natural forage that steelhead will feed on throughout the summer.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED Black marabou feather, 1⁄8- to 1⁄16-ounce white, glow, or UV-painted jighead, Krystal Flash chenille or Midge Flash, white saddle hackle, thread, cement.

over your marabou. For smaller jigs, try Midge Flash, which is a finer shaped version of Krystal Flash that works well for delicate presentations. Repeat this process, adding three or four layers of marabou vanes and Krystal Flash until you’ve built your tail up.

3) COLLARING 1) TAIL FIRST Starting with black marabou, peel off the vanes from about a quarter of the marabou feather and wrap them on a 1⁄8- to 1⁄16-ounce white, glow, or UV-painted jighead. Select for the vanes closest to the base of the feather, avoiding the tip altogether. While tying in the end of the feather is easiest (and how virtually all marabou jigs are tied), these vanes have the least body and action of the whole feather. Next, cut off a small pinch of Krystal Flash (five or six strands) and wrap them evenly

2) WHIPPING THE BODY After your tail is finished, tie in a 4- to 5inch piece of blood-red Krystal Flash Chenille.Wrap this forward towards the jighead, holding back the chenille fibers with each wrap to avoid pinching them down. Once you reach the jighead, tie this off with several tight wraps.

To finish this jig, we’ll add a white saddle hackle collar to add a bit more body and contrast to the jig profile. Trim off the thick fluffy base off this feather and peel back a few vanes, leaving a small stem to attach to the jig. Anchor this tip in, and wrap the hackle feather a few times around the collar, again holding back the vanes with each wrap to make sure you don’t pinch them down. After a few wraps, tie the tip of the feather off and trim it down to the base. Throw a few half hitches on and add some super glue, and you’re ready to rock!

4) VARIATIONS Try tying this jig using theWoolly Bugger jig technique from the February issue. CS

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FISHING

PROS

STRUGGLING TO CATCH BASS?

TIPS FOR GETTING OUT OF A SLUMP By Nick Barr s in life, fishing can be a roller coaster. The desire to succeed is at the core of any competitive tournament fisherman. Why spend thousands of dollars and countless hours to chase little green fish when you can cruise down to the nearest pond in an old tin boat? Because riding that emotional

A

Tournament pro Skeet Reese’s confidence that he was capable of big things on the B.A.S.S. Tour was a key component in his success, veteran angler Sieg Taylor says. (B.A.S.S.)

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AUTHORIZED

HEWESCRAFT DEALERS ALASKA Compeau’s (Fairbanks) 907-479-2271 or 800-478-7669 Dewey’s Cook Inlet (Anchorage) 907-344-5092 River & Sea Marine (Soldotna) 907-262-2690 or 907-262-7402 Rocky’s Marine (Petersburg) 907-772-3949

CALIFORNIA Boat Country (Escalon) 209-838-2628 Harrison’s Marine & RV (Redding) 530-243-0175

IDAHO Idaho Marine (Boise) 208-342-0639 Mark’s Marine (Hayden) 888-821-2200 Valley Boat & Motor (Lewiston) 208-743-2528

ILLINOIS

First and foremost, Sieg Taylor believes a tournament angler needs the right mental approach or that slump may linger. “You have to fish to win,” he says. (SIEG TAYLOR)

Calumet Marine (Calumet City) 708-862-2407

MINNESOTA Badiuk Equipment, Inc. (International Falls) 218-286-0813

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roller coaster is worth the trip to a carnival on the lake. It’s actually craved by all the crazies who call themselves tournament bass anglers. The thrill of catching a big bass casting for cash can be counteracted by losing a fish at the boat that would have put you in the money, or, even worse, won the tournament. The high from figuring out the pattern of the day to put you in contention to win an event can come crumbling down with only a few fish in the box come weigh-in time. A slump, like a baseball player who can’t get a hit or the realtor who can’t sell a house, is something that every fisherman can relate to. You become off your game, and nothing you do seems to do make a difference. I’m writing about this because I’m currently going through a slump and it flat-out stinks. So I called up my good friend and former premier bass angler, Sieg Taylor, for some good advice about breaking out of the slump. FISHING IS SUCH an extremely mental game. “Getting out of a slump is a process,” Taylor mentions. When you

106 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

are on top of your game it is always about being “in the zone.” “Every tournament I have won, I’ve been deep in the zone, no doubt,” Taylor says. His competitive fishing philosophy contains three simple core beliefs, in order of importance: 1. You fish against yourself. 2. You’re fishing against the fish. 3. You’re fishing against the competitors. Going into an event with the mindset of “just cashing a check” or “making the cut” is the worst thing you can do. “You have to fish to win,” Taylor mentions. “I had a friend who has told me time and again he wants to be a great angler. He finished in second place and I gave him a phone call to tell him congrats, but to not lose sight of winning. I’ve seen so many anglers that have been in the position to win, but don’t know how to.” Knowing how to win is a sixth sense, born when you can finally put all the pieces of the bass fishing puzzle together.


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FISHING ON THE MENTAL side, can you recover

from lost fish? The quicker you can brain-dump the negatives the better off you will be, and sometimes that just takes experience and time. “Guys like Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese, elite anglers among professionals, are locked in laser focus before they even hit the water,” Taylor says. These tournament stalwarts ignore the dock talk and voices simmering in the tackle shops, by focusing on catching their own fish. “It is so tough to try and catch other people’s fish, you have to go out and find your own pattern. Great anglers go into every event with the mindset that they will win the event, even if the odds are against them.” A great way to approach fishing and life, according to Taylor, is to use the acronym SINALOA (Safety

The author, an aspiring pro bass angler, is going through his own slump right now, and is realizing that the roller coaster rides you’re bound to endure is part of the gig and embraced by professionals. (NICK BARR)

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FISHING In Numbers and Law Of Averages). This approach reduces the impact of the roller coaster. “The more tournaments I enter, the more chances I have to win, and the more days on the water I get to spend,” the pro says. “The more casts I make in a day, the better chance of getting my bait in front of more fish; it’s one reason I opt for reaction baits whenever I can.” “Once you begin to get into a rhythm and spend that time on the water, you can begin to tighten things up.” Every opportunity you hit the water you can improve and reduce mistakes that you could make. It can relate to gear, decisions, locations, etc. After every trip, you can be critical of yourself and pick apart your performance to see what you could have done better. “Thinking that the fish just did-

110 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

n’t bite,” Taylor says, “is not a valid excuse for a poor day on the water.” TAYLOR RELAYED A story about tournament pro Skeet Reese, who won B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year honors in 2007. “When Skeet was up and coming, he used to mention to me that one day he will win a Bassmaster Classic. He took it seriously. A lot of people laughed it off. An old guide named Big George and his buds on Clear Lake decided to poke fun and tease him with bright pink T-shirts that said ‘Skeet’s Fan Club’ at local events.” “In the next event, after Skeet won his first (angler of the year award), Big George gave him all those T-shirts and said he’d earned them.” The confidence and positive attitude in the face of negativity has al-

ways been a common trait of great anglers and can help bring you out of the low times. Slumps come and go. They are an inevitable part of life and fishing, and what you can control is how quickly you get over them. “Back when I was younger it’d take me three weeks to get over something, then it got down to three days, then three hours, and at 50 years old now it takes me about 30 seconds.” By employing the lessons discussed and simplifying your approach, you will be able to dig yourself out of any fishing slump. “You’re for sure going to get knocked down,” Taylor says. “But it’s all a matter of how you get back up.” CS Editor’s note: For more information about the author, Nick Barr, please visit NickBarrFishing.com


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FISHING

OH CAPITAN MY CAPITAN SAN DIEGO LAKE KEEPS CHURNING OUT GIANT BASS By Bill Schaefer SAN DIEGO–El Capitan Reservoir, located in San Diego’s east county, has been the hottest lake in the San Diego City Lakes chain for the last several years. But this year has been even more out of the ordinary for producing big bass. Even though water levels are dropping, El Capitan is enjoying the best fishing ever in its history. The lake is fishing smaller this year, but just a tad under the average level for most of its life. The launch ramp and parking lot is back out from underwater and can be utilized now more readily. Tournament organizers are flocking to this lake for their contests as the action is out of this world with giant weights being brought to the scales. On April 5, 2014, the team of Jon and Wade Strelic brought the second largest bag of bass in San Diego tournament history to the scales, topping off at 37.31 pounds! A week later, on April 12, 2014, they posted a weight of 39.26 pounds, anchored by a 12.35pounder, which was a new tournament total weight record. All spring and up until now the lake has been producing a ton of fish in the 5- to 10-pound range with several fish over 10 pounds. Even the post spawn blues have not slowed the feeding and catching frenzy as the lake comes off its largemouth spawn. The fish are schooling up and chasing the large schools of shad that populate the lake. Alabama rigs have been doing well in this situation, as well as crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Working the shoreline with topwater baits has worked for some anglers early in the morning. Drop-shot plastics are still a good bet, not just early but all day. Crankbait and spinnerbait

Jackson Paluczak shows off a giant El Capitan Reservoir bass he took on an imitation trout bait. El Capitan is as hot as it’s ever been right now. (ACTION JACKSON FISHING)

action should keep going strong as the bass chase bait. But the swimbaits are producing the larger bass. Trout plants at the lake have kept the bass in trouteating mode, and the trout imitation baits will score you a larger fish if you put in the time to throw them. You may fish all day for one or two bites, but it should be a nice one. Look to the main lake and just outside Conejos Arm for bass chasing shad on glassy mornings. Worm fishing the long points of the launch ramp area and in the North Arm has been

effective as well. Alabama rigs as well as swimbaits have been scoring all around the main lake areas and the North Arm. The lake just changed to its summer schedule, so the weekends can be a little crazy as watersports have started up and will increase with warmer days. You may want to visit the lake on one of the weekdays when it’s open for peace and quiet. For the latest on the lake, check out the San Diego City Lakes website at sandiego.gov/water/recreation. CS JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 115


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FISHING

WHERE EXOTICS RULE

The needlefish can look scary with all its teeth staring you down. Handle these fish carefully, as they often jump like crazy when hooked. (BILL SCHAEFER)

CATCHING SAN DIEGO BAY’S UNIQUE FISH SPECIES By Captain Bill Schaefer SAN DIEGO–It looks like we are in for a

really hot summer in Southern California, with record highs and talk of an El Niño year gaining traction. With this phenomenon brings warmer water temperatures, especially in the bays. San Diego Bay is known for a lot of unique species living in its southern flats, and this kind of weather should get them all going this summer. One rare fish, the needlefish, tends to show more as waters warm. The needlefish in the bay are all over and cannot really be targeted. They just seem to show up when you least expect them to. They will light up like a marlin, with their back turning an iridescent blue or green when excited about feeding. They will attack, say a swimbait, when you are reeling it in fast towards the end of a cast. If you see them you can throw out and retrieve quickly and they will attack your lure. I have also caught them in really shallow areas in low-light conditions throwing topwater baits like a Rebel Pop-R. They take to the air at times and make for a fun and exciting fight. The shortfin corvina in the bay is closely related to the orangemouth corvina of the Salton Sea. Scientists are not sure when they migrated into Southern California, and for all

we know they could have always been here. They look so close to white sea bass when smaller, so anglers probably let them go thinking they were indeed undersized whites. Whatever the reason, the fish have taken a stronghold in the bay and fish to 10-plus pounds have been caught. These fish will take to the air as well, sometimes during a battle. Not quite as easy to target, similar methods to those used at the

Salton Sea may take them; trolling swimbaits or crankbaits is one method. During the nights of grunion runs, they can be found outside of spawn beaches feeding on them. The prize of the south bay, though, is the rare Southern California bonefish. It’s true: the grey ghost of the flats is cruising our flats as well. This prize fish of the light-tackle fisherman is getting easier to target as the populaJUNE 2014 California Sportsman 117


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FISHING tion improves. They will be caught on small grubs, swimbaits, or ghost shrimp, with the live ghost shrimp producing the bulk of catches. It used to be that an angler may catch one or two bonefish a year; now it’s almost easy to catch five to 10 a day during the summer. Some reliable fishermen have told stories of 20-fish days They are no good to eat, so take a quick picture and let them go so the fishery stays populated. It’s better not to handle them at all if possible; they are very fragile. All the regulars are there too, such as bonito, barracuda, halibut, and bass, as well as a large population of croaker. You may even come across the resident pod of sea turtles that live below the surface. With a giant sportfishing fleet home-based in the bay, you never know what you might catch. Many a deckhand has brought back exotics in the boat’s bait tank and released them into the bay. CS

118 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Croaker (left) and bonefish often school together. It’s not uncommon to catch both when fishing with ghost shrimp as your bait. (BILL SCHAEFER)


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FISHING

SOLVING THE YELLOWTAIL PUZZLE

The author with a yellowtail caught on a live mackerel. Mackerel can be one of many baitfish that can have yellowtail anglers have alternatives to the lack of available live squid. (STEVE CARSON)

IMPROVISING WITH BAIT CHOICES CAN PAY OFF By Steve Carson SAN DIEGO—Yellowtail are well-known as

opportunistic feeders, but anglers often get stuck in a rut, and the overwhelming majority of yellows over the past 20 years have been caught on live sardines, live squid, or metal jigs. Truth be told, squid (frequently unavailable) are still probably the top yellowtail bait ever devised, and the possibility of declining sardine populations has resulted in plenty of talk about fishing with anchovies. However, even well-presented anchovies aren’t among a yellow’s favorite food choices, and resourceful anglers forced to improvise and catch their own bait do very well if they know what to do with the tools at hand.

GREENBACK MACKEREL Technically called Pacific chub mackerel, these are usually caught on baited hooks or sabiki rigs. Mackerel are very large and strong baitfish and can trigger a yellowtail’s chase mode, even if they aren’t too hungry. The baitfish are also hardy, and an excellent choice for slow-trolling. The hardest thing for many anglers to get past is letting the fish eat the bait for 10plus seconds before setting the hook. Most often fished on 2/0 to 5/0 Owner Gorilla hooks, experienced anglers often use a 1/0 or 2/0 Owner ST66 Treble hook, as setting the hook with these heavy baits can be difficult. California anglers use 30- and 40-pound lines, while Baja anglers typically use 50-pound test, and often move up to

80-pound line for the really big baits weighing a couple of pounds.

SMALLER JACKS A very popular bait that is often incorrectly referred to as Spanish mackerel are not actually mackerel at all, but are really called jack mackerel, and are very close relatives of the yellowtail. Though not nearly as active as greenbacks, sometimes yellowtail get

into a feeding pattern and will prefer this species. Depending on bait size, lines range from 20- to 40-pound test, and J-hooks from No. 1 to 3/0, but savvy anglers use a No. 1 Owner ST66 treble hook to increase their hookup ratio dramatically. Sometimes in southern Baja, anglers chasing very large yellows will bait up with various species of “scad,” which may weigh 2 pounds or more. Large JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 121


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FISHING to see anyone try them on anything but halibut, though they may surprise us.

hooks and rigging similar to those used for big greenback mackerel are used.

SMELT

DEAD SQUID

Two species of smelt can easily be caught with tiny sabiki rigs: the smaller topsmelt and the larger jacksmelt. Both are good, although when yellowtails are in chase mode, smelt are not overly active in the water and don’t trigger reflex bites. They are usually fished weightless on 20- to 30-pound lines, with a No. 1 to 2/0 Owner Gorilla Light hook.

BROWN BAIT This broad category takes in a variety of miscellaneous baitfish species, including white croaker, queenfish, shiner perch and about a half-dozen more. All occasionally tempt yellows, and all work well to “reanimate” squid, but butterfish (often mistakenly called pompano) are exceptionally good for yellowtail in their own right. Most brown baits are fished on 25- to 40-

122 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Yellowtail often hit on scad mackerel, which are actually members of the jack family. (STEVE CARSON)

pound lines, and 1/0 to 4/0 Owner Flyliner hooks. Interestingly, north Baja yellowtail have been feeding extensively on juvenile lizardfish in recent years. I have yet

It’s not much of a secret that “fresh dead” squid can be fished in all the same ways as live stuff, and in many cases works just as well. Thanks to the popularity of the Walking Dead and zombies, an old-timer’s secret for reanimating dead squid has a new name: “Zombie Squid.” Take a live anchovy, sardine, or other baitfish, and insert it into the body cavity of a dead squid. Even if the squid is not especially fresh, it will wiggle enticingly. Then simply rig it in the same ways you would rig a live model. Most commonly that will be either flylined, accompanied with a 1-ounce egg sinker or near the bottom with a dropper loop, on a 2/0 to 4/0 Owner Gorilla hook. Many anglers targeting white seabass with yellowtail as the secondary target prefer a 7/0 Owner Aki Twist hook.


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FISHING STRIP BAIT The veteran yellowtail angler’s secret weapon of strips of almost any fish species will work, but most popular are bonito, mackerel, and skipjack, along with strips cut from very large Humboldt squid. Strips offer many advantages, including the fact that they can’t die, and can sometimes catch multiple fish. They’re effective at 1 to 3 mph. Size can be infinitely adjusted to what the fish want on any given day. Longer is usually better, as the strip undulates back in the current. Anything from a 1-by-8-inch narrow strip flylined back in the kelp for suspicious local yellows, up to a whole slab off a 5-pound skipjack for monster homeguards over 50 pounds at Alijos Rocks. Hook sizes run a little larger than with live baits, usually in the 2/0 to 6/0 range except for the largest of fish.

TROLLING LURES Standard tuna trolling feathers will

catch yellowtail on the offshore grounds, but close to islands and mainland spots usually requires a swimming plug. Favorite among them are the Rapala X-Rap series. When the fish are keying on larger baits, or you want to help keep smaller nontarget species such as bonito from hitting your lure every time, the X-Rap XR30MAG is hard to beat, particularly when on the offshore grounds and bluefin tuna or other bigger game may also be around. The midsize X-Rap XR20MAG is a good compromise size that won’t intimidate sometimes smaller 6- to 8-pound inshore yellowtail, but still keeps the bonito to a minimum. The smaller XRap XR15MAG gets a ton of bites on just about everything from yellowtail to barracuda. If the local baitfish are small, or you just want a lot of action, going down to the little X-Rap XR10MAG can be a deadly weapon. Colors run the gamut, and for offshore use it’s hard to beat purple/black

mackerel. Inshore, “match the hatch,” with blue mackerel being the default color, but sardine or green mackerel are strong contenders. Black/silver is good when anchovies are abundant, but the bright colors like firetiger that work well offshore are not usually as productive on more cautious inshore fish. Trolling speeds vary; something between 5 and 7 mph is usually optimal, but having daily intel is important, and yellowtail are perfectly capable of eating a lure moving at 10 mph or more if so inclined. Put the lures about 85 to 110 feet behind the boat and try to occasionally travel in exaggerated “S” turns, which will make the lures alternately speed up and slow down, as well as have them traveling in and out of the boat’s wake. CS Editor’s note: The author always looks forward to hearing from California Sportsman readers; please email Steve at scarson@sunset.net.

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COMPANY PROFILE

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professional circuit for 13 years and hosted a show on the Outdoor Channel. Deborah Mack, his wife, is co-founder and CFO. Some bows are $1,500, but a $300 one can still be accurate. Archery is something anyone can do, regardless of age. As the cost of ammunition increases, archery is becoming a more inexpensive alternative. Absolute Archery offers archery leagues, private lessons (equipment for beginners free of charge), bows on consignment, a family-owned retail pro shop, and visitors may test all products before they buy.

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HUNTING

FROM FIELD:

HUNTING THE HOT HOGS The author and his hunting partner search for pigs moving in a shaded creek bottom on a hot day. Be it from a long distance, or in the middle of a brushy stalk, binoculars are invaluable when hunting hogs in hot weather. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

MAKING THE BEST OUT OF SUMMER HUNTS By Scott Haugen

S

lowly creeping to the edge of a brushy creekbed, sweat covering my body, I was amazed at how deep the draw was. I was expecting a 5- or 10-foot-deep dry creekbed, so when I struggled to find the bottom through the thick brush, some 60 feet below me, my heart sank. Throughout the duration of the

stalk, I was sure Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d find myself within bow range the moment I reached the edge of the creek. The good news was pigs were there; the bad news was there was no way of threading an arrow through the thick brush. Working the wind, I eventually found myself in the creek bottom. What struck me most was the decline in temperature, an easy 20-degree drop from the air outside the narrow, jungle-like habitat. Another bonus was how quiet the moist sand was, which, along with a steady breeze, made for

From ponds to creeks to tiny seeps, pigs need water. Find water as the summer heats up, and hogs likely wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be far. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

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HUNTING the perfect spot-and-stalk scenario. Minutes later I was in the middle of a big wad of pigs, and they had no idea I was near. Finding a nice-sized eater, I wasted no time slipping my Gold Tip arrow through both lungs. Soon I was packing a hog that would be great table fare from the hot, California turf. June and July are hot times to hunt hogs in California, but that’s what makes it so effective. Hogs seek shade early, and hold there all day long. I, like many hunters, have taken several hogs over the years in temperatures eclipsing the century mark. During these times, finding hogs may not be the biggest challenge; it’s overcoming the heat. Equipping yourself to hunt hogs in extremely hot weather begins at home. The number one priority is to mentally prepare for the long, hot

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day ahead. True, the hunt may end within the first hour, but I’ve been on many hunts where I was still out there at 2 p.m. in 115-degree temperatures, hiking, glassing and searching for hogs. It’s crucial to mentally prepare yourself for hunting in these challenging conditions. Be sure and bring all the water you can carry. Leave behind the water bottles and replace them with a goodsized bladder. The amount of water your body requires on a hunt like this will surprise you, and a couple water bottles won’t fulfill that need. A large bladder with a drinking spout that stays within easy reach at all times, has been one of the most valued tools for me on this type of hunt. Cabela’s makes a great hydration pouch that’s easy to use, quickly and easily refills, and holds 70 ounces. A filtered bottle is also a great idea, and one I’ve been using a lot lately is Pure Hydration’s Aqua Traveler. With

Scott Haugen with a dandy, hot-weather boar taken east of Redding. Cool clothes and plenty of water are key tools to have when hunting summer hogs.(SCOTT HAUGEN)


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COOKING FISHING

TO FIRE:

BOAR DISH ANYTHING BUT BORING ne of our most memorable curries came while staying in a remote village in Fiji. After hunting wild boar, we returned to share it with others, and came away withnewfriendsandincredibletastingfood.In fact,alltypesofcurryflavorsarefavoritesofours because of the way they pair with wild game. Strong curries don’t compete with game, as in many parts of the world curries were developed for stronger meats like goat or sheep. Depending on the country, or even which region they come from, curries capture a wide range of flavors. For a quick meal we always have readymade curries on hand. They can be found in virtually any grocery store, but for a greater variety try an Asian or Indian market. Keep chili sauce on the table so everyone can kick up the heat to their own level.

O

The author says adding curry to wild boar reminds her of a similar meal she had in Fiji with the popular spice added to the meat. (HAUGEN ENTERPRISES)

Yellow Curry Wild Boar 1 to 2 pounds wild pig, cubed 1 tablespoon peanut oil 2 tablespoons yellow curry paste 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 teaspoons fish sauce 1 can coconut milk ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves In a large skillet, heat peanut oil on medium heat. Add yellow curry paste, brown sugar and fish sauce, sauté until bubbly. Add meat to curry mixture and brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and add coconut milk. Simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Remove from heat, add cilantro and serve over rice or noodles.

Yellow Curry Paste 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon coriander seeds 2 small dried chilies 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder 1 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground cloves ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 stalks lemon grass, chop white part only 134 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

2 shallots, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped Place the cumin and coriander seeds in a pan without adding any oil. Dry-fry them and stir over medium heat for one to two minutes until they are slightly browned, and give off a roasted aroma. Coarsely chop the chilies and soak in water for 10 minutes, then drain. Pound all the ingredients together or puree in a food chopper. Refrigerate or freeze unused portion.

Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott & Tiffany Haugen’s popular cookbook, Cooking Big Game, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen.com. This book offers more than 100 great recipes.


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the bottle, you can drink from the most stagnant water, thanks to an advanced filtering system, and it’s easy to drink with one hand; I also fill my hydration pack with it. When hanging out near water holes and in cool, shaded creekbeds, biting bugs can be a menace this time of year. While waiting out pigs in these settings, I’ve had mosquitos literally end my hunt, they were so thick. When I started using the ThermaCELL mosquito repellent unit, all that changed. The ThermaCELL runs on a butane cartridge that heats a metal grill; a small, saturated patch sits upon it. The heat vaporizes the repellent (allethrin) in the mat, which mimics a naturally occurring repellent found in chrysanthemums. The released repellent creates a shield that keeps mosquitos, no-see-um and black flies (white

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socks) away. This is one of the most valuable tools I have with me in mosquito country. Binoculars, a rangefinder and even a spotting scope can be valuable tools on hot-weather hunts. These devices allow you to efficiently cover ground with your eyes, not your feet. Conserving energy on extremely hot days is a challenge, so any time you can reach high ground, find some shade and glass and save some energy. Should you go on the move and search for hogs in shady creek bottoms and brushy draws, use the binoculars to dissect what’s in front of you. Search for parts of pigs through the brush, well ahead of you, so as not to spook them while trying to close the distance. I like binoculars with a built-in rangefinder, as everything is contained in one unit; Swarovski’s EL Range in a 10-by-42 is my binoc of choice. Footwear is one of the most important pieces of clothing on a hunt in soaring temps. Be sure the boots fit well, breathe and don’t rub. I like more of an athletic-style boot or shoe for such hunting, something with a soft sole that’s quiet. In extreme hot weather, wear clothes that breathe. I like long pants and long-sleeved shirts for sun and bug protection. Cabela’s Super Mesh and Cabela’s Hunt Tech materials are great for this style of hunting, as breathable clothing with wicking qualities keeps you hunting longer and in comfort. This time of year, don’t let the dog days of summer keep you home. Grab that needed gear, a sharp knife and a pack frame, and bring home the bacon. CS Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s latest adventure book, Bowhunting The West & Beyond, visit scotthaugen.com. It can also be ordered by sending a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 137


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HUNTING

The SoCal Bowhunter

DECISION TIME FOR BOWHUNTERS

WHEN CHOOSING A NEW COMPOUND BOW, THE BOW SHOULD CHOOSE YOU

By Albert Quackenbush LONG BEACH–Interest in bowhunting has

been increasingly on the rise and that is a wonderful thing to see! More men, women, and children want to pick up a bow and go after their own food. The one question I get asked more than all the others combined is, “Which bow should I shoot?” And that’s usually followed up with, “I saw this TV show is sponsored by…” or “This bow

is getting all of the buzz.” Then the person inquires about the equipment I am using. I’ll be honest and say I don’t care which bow you shoot, just be sure it’s the right bow for you. I am going to share my tips and my bow-buying experiences so that you can begin to get a feel for what it takes to be a successful archer and then a bowhunter. And it all starts with choosing the bow that fits you, setting it up properly, and shooting properly.

Before I go into what I shoot, how I got here, and what I recommend: I want you all to understand I am no expert. While I have been shooting a bow for over 30 years I continue to learn new and exciting things every year. That’s part of what keeps me going and motivated to try new things. I am also not above getting help. I go to one guy at my local pro shop when I need to have something done to my bow or if I have any questions. The best part is

The author has endured some buyer’s beware bow purchases in the past, but he’s learned from his mistakes over time. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH) JUNE 2014 California Sportsman 139


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HUNTING he’s nearly half my age, but shoots well over 100 arrows a day, is an excellent target archer, and he works on bows for a living. Basically, he knows what he is talking about and I trust him. Don’t be too proud when looking to buy a bow. Be sure to ask questions and get any help you need.

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When deciding on a used or even bow, look over the item carefully for even the slightest of issues: a missing e-clip on an axle, a frayed string, or a warped cam can make all the difference in the world between an accurate bowl and a lemon of a purchase. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

GETTING STARTED: THE NEW ARCHERS First, if you are a brand new to archery and need to learn how to shoot properly, I highly recommend getting some lessons from an instructor. This is before you even begin to shop for a new bow. They will teach you proper form and why that is extremely important. If you can shoot well using the proper form you will enjoy archery for life. Now you can move on to buying your first bow. Pro shops are great because they have available staff to help answer any questions you might have. I use a compound bow and will share

140 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

my tips on finding the right bow for you. Places like archery pro shops, other archers, online forums, etc., are the best sources of information on compound bows.

THE LEARNING CURVE For the bowhunter who has experience, begin your search by gathering information and setting your limitations. When I first started out, I shot a fiberglass longbow, mismatched cedar arrows, and my target was a straw bale pulled from the barn floor. Over the years, I experienced highs and lows due to a strong lack of knowledge and preparation. A little planning can go a long way. Start with your budget. Most new archers I know don’t have $1,000 to spend on a new bow. That’s not a bad thing. I don’t necessarily agree with everyone that says to set your budget and then look for a bow in that price range. I think that setting your budget is great, but also keep in mind that if you find a bow you really enjoy shooting, you can work hard at saving for that bow. You should shoot the bow that you want and that fits you. I’ve tried out many bows throughout the years and


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HUNTING most of the time they were used bows that other bowhunters were getting rid of. There are the specifics you should know before going in, like, what draw weight you prefer and you’re your draw length is. Honestly, if you go to a pro shop, they will help you figure that all out so you are doing everything properly. My first tip is this: do not buy into all the hype that you have to have the fastest shooting, highest draw weight bow on the market. It doesn’t make sense. Celebrity endorsements are great, but they aren’t going to be shooting your bow for you, are they? When I was growing up, we didn’t have hunting shows on TV to watch. We didn’t know what everyone else was shooting. Instead, my dad took us to the local pro shops in rural western New York to look at compound bows. He also checked the classified section of the newspaper and many times learned

144 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

of bows for sale through people at work. My first compound bow was a Bear Whitetail II that my dad bought for me. For me, it was like I was shooting the most top-of-the-line bow in the world. Just weeks after he helped me set it up I shot my first whitetail buck at10 yards. For a 14-year-old kid, it was the best thing ever!

SHOOT MULTIPLE BOWS FIRST I am going to share a horror story with you as an example of what not to do when buying a bow. When I was 16, my dad took me to a very small local pro shop and we started looking around at the used bows. A bowhunter came in to sell his Browning Cam Master compound bow. Immediately, the pro shop owner said it would be a great buy and I should draw it and shoot it. There was much pressure to draw the bow right then and there. The pro shop owner never adjusted the draw length, nor did he check the draw weight of

the bow to see if I could pull it. He nocked an arrow and said to draw it. The bow felt like a tree trunk in my hands the grip was so fat, and I did everything I could to get it back and hold it there. The bow was set to a much higher draw weight than I would normally shoot and the draw length was way off. We took it outside and I made three shots with it. There was incredible pressure to buy it and I halfheartedly agreed to do so. Don’t ever buy a bow due to pressure from others; do what is right for you. Over the next couple weeks I saved my extra cash and bought the bow. For two years I shot that bow and hated nearly every second of it. I killed one buck with it and wounded another due to not having it fit me and not taking the time to set it up properly. I then purchased a High Country bow. It was used, from a guy at my dad’s work, and I didn’t even bother to shoot it before buying it. The story goes on like this for years


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146 California Sportsman JUNE 2014

Shoot as many bows as you can with a prospective bow and make sure you feel comfortable with it. Some bows will draw smoother than others, and the last thing you want to do is make a hasty decision before being positive you’re making the right purchase for you. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

until one day, about 12 or 13 years ago, my dad said he wanted to buy my brother and me brand new bows. We shot a few, and while my brother liked his (my dad was hoping I would choose the same bow), it did not feel right to me.

GET IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE The bow I felt comfortable shooting was a Martin Tracer II that was $50 more. Honestly, my dad wasn’t planning on spending any extra money, but after refusing to shoot the uncomfortable bow, I ended up walking out of the store with it. I began to see and appreciate what a difference having the proper bow setup felt like. I’ll never forget that bow as it helped me fill my freezer with venison for many years. You also must consider your size vs. the bow axle-to-axle size and if it will work for you. Also consider if you will be hunting from the ground or mainly in a treestand. The bow must feel comfortable to you however you plan to hunt. Hold it in your hand and see if the grip feels like a fit. Many grips are large and bulky, while others are narrow and have a slim fit. Only you can be the judge of which fits best after you have shot a few. Don’t settle for something just because it’s on sale. That doesn’t mean that the complete packages that sell at the retail stores aren’t good buys. Many of them are, but be sure you shoot the bow you plan on buying. Brace height is another consideration in your purchase. The brace height of a bow is the measurement from the inside of the handle to the string. Many bowhunters prefer a longer brace height because it is more forgiving (user error isn’t as noticeable). For years, I have been shooting bows with a shorter brace height. Why? I like a shorter brace height because it forces me to focus and refine my skills as first an archer first and a bowhunter second. Granted, it’s easy for me to say because I have been shooting for a very long time. The PSE


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HUNTING DNA sports a 6-inch brace height, which I liked. Imagine the shock when I switched over to the Wrath SHO and I realized the brace height was 73⁄8 inches. That’s an incredible difference, but honestly I was OK with it. The bow felt comfortable and shot well for me. Over the past few years I have shot many bows. The local Strother Archery rep and I began talking bowhunting over a year ago. I was shooting a PSE DNA at the time and had no intention of switching. I enjoyed shooting the bow and it fit me. Out of curiosity one day, I asked to check out some of the Strother bows. The Wrath SHO fit very well in my hand and I knew I needed to shoot it. A few months later, I shot five different Strother bows and the 2013 Wrath SHO was the one I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was super smooth, super quiet, and had a hard back wall, which I prefer. I waited a few more months and shot them again. You see, I wasn’t in any hurry to get a

new bow. After my second and then third time shooting it I was hooked. It outperformed my other bows and was a perfect fit for me.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK No matter which route you choose, whether buying new or used, I recommend you look over the bow before shooting it. A missing e-clip on an axle, a frayed string, or a warped cam can ruin your day if the bow blows up on you when you shoot it. If you are at a pro shop and shooting a new bow, they should have everything in tip-top shape. If it’s a used bow from an independent seller, please have them meet you at a pro shop so a professional can look the bow over before you shoot it. Ask if the bow has ever been dry-fired. If it has, stop right there and move on. After all of the technical factors you need to key in on one main thing: shoot as many bows as you

can before making your decision! Some bows will draw smoother than others; some will have a hard back wall, while others will feel spongy. The let off on some bows is so much that you feel like you can hold it back for days, and with other bows the arrow wants to jump off the string. Some bows will weigh considerably more than others. The only way you can know for sure which bow is right for you is to shoot as many as you can before making a final decision. One final point: Keep a notebook with all of your setup information. Stickers fall off or wear out and you will want to have a record of everything for the future. Plus, the notebook can be used for recording arrow spine, length, weight, etc. Now I just need to update mine. CS Editor’s note: Read more about the SoCal Bow Hunter at his website, socalbowhunter.blogspot.com.

WILDERNESS UNLIMITED SHOULD BE IN YOUR FUTURE Wilderness Unlimited is the west's one stop shop for outdoor opportunities. Starting back in the 1980s Wilderness Unlimited (or WU) made its reputation by accessing and managing private ranches for outdoor recreation. Today they offer fishing and hunting opportunities on thousands of acres for the discerning responsible outdoors person. They balance the managing of each ranch’s renewable resources with the participant’s use. Property owners are assured their interest will be protected and in many cases improved via WU’s assortment of habitat improvement programs. WU primarily operates in California and Oregon, offering yearround sporting opportunities for its members for fishing, big game, upland and waterfowl hunting opportunities behind locked gates. If that is not enough for members, WU also has its own in house outfitting business. Members can book a trip to Colorado, Africa or elsewhere with the assurance that the operation is WU endorsed. Wilderness Unlimited, being family based has also led the way for youth and woman participation in fishing and hunting pursuits. WU’s sister organization, the non-profit Wilderness Unlimited Foundation (WUF) has taken over the lead in preserving the future of our outdoor heritage by providing educational and outdoor heritage programs that emphasize participation and in fighting to maintain sportsman’s rights. Together, WUand WUF are a formidable pair deserving of all sportsman’s support. For WU informationcall(877)611-4868orcheckoutwww.wildernessunlimited.com.For WUF information call (916) 952-6460 or check out www.WUFound.org 148 California Sportsman JUNE 2014


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