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Deadline application for special hunts is June 2

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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If you’ve procrastinated and haven’t bought your 2012-13 hunting license and applied for any of the state’s special hunts, time is running out. The Department of Fish and Game must have the application in its hands by midnight Saturday, June 2.

The quickest way to apply is to visit the DFG’s licensing section at 1740 North Market Blvd., located in Sacramento’s north Natomas region. Buying a license and applying for special deer and elk hunts, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

There are expanded hunt opportunities this year for elk and pronghorn antelope.

Every year, too, there are changes in the rules and regulations. You can check the current mammal hunting regulations by visiting the DFG’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov and click on the link for “Big Game Hunting Digest” under the hunting category.

You can download the document, which includes license requirements, methods of take, season dates, bag limits and zones for big-game species and small-game hunting.

The drawing results can be found online June 22.

Salmon anglers are being cited

I make a big deal of it here every year. It’s the private boater venturing out into the open water of the Pacific to troll or mooch for one of the most prized game fish: the Chinook salmon.

Just because you find a salmon on your hook doesn’t mean you can keep it. You’re allowed to keep a Chinook — or king salmon. If you catch a Coho — or silver salmon — you’re required to return it to the water.

A great many silver salmon are hatchery raised in Oregon. Anglers there are allowed to retain a hatchery-born silver salmon, identified by a clipped adipose fin. But fish travel, sometimes a long distance.

Regardless of their origin, California anglers can’t retain a Coho. And because of that, California anglers are being cited left and right at various ports as wardens are finding silver salmon in boxes with kings.

Identifying the two is a simple task. As you bring in a Chinook salmon near the surface, its back will appear almost purple. A silver salmon won’t reflect the same color.

The inside of a Chinook’s mouth is mostly black; a Coho’s mouth is mostly white.
Also, don’t rely on size. While a Chinook generally is a big salmon and Cohos run smaller, you can catch a silver salmon larger than a Chinook.

Closely watch what you’re hooking, and identify the fish before you box it.

Current fishing

Memorial Day weekend turned out to be a bust for many campers with rain, snow, wind and cooler temperatures. It affected water recreationists and anglers alike.

But the weather has turned, and there’s great fishing to be found, near and far.

Eagle Lake: Weather on May 26 was lousy for the annual lake opener — heavy overcast and a stiff breeze that put a decent chop on the water, which is actually a good thing.

Legal fishing time is an hour before sunrise, but it’s nothing unusual to hear boats roaring across the lake long before the crack of dawn. Those who start early generally get their fish. If there is a chop on the water, the bite tends to last into the late morning. When the lake is like glass, the bite quits early. That just means you’ll have to put in much more time and effort to get your limit.

Some of the best fishing was south of Pelican Point. Trollers hauled pumpkinseed, watermelon and orange two-inch grubs, SureCatch lures such as Red Dog, Watermelon or Brown Trout, or just a plain live threaded night crawler. Early, the best action was trolling four feet down in water no deeper than 10 feet.

There is always the percentage that drop anchor and soak a crawler under a bobber. Along the east side of the Youth Camp and around Shrimp Island were well attended, and the bite was good. But once the sun hits the water, the bite really tapers off.

There’s plenty of room and the bite is good for the unique Eagle Lake rainbow trout.

American River: The river has dropped enough where there is great rod-bending action for spin and fly casters. The river is full of shad, and big numbers can be tallied from the mouth upriver to Nimbus. While most of the shad are two-pound males, some five-pound females are finding their way onto hooks. Shad are a ball to catch on light gear, and a big striper can also grab your hook.

Lake Oroville: The lake is full. If you can’t hook a bass, then you’re sleeping on the boat and not fishing. Tubes, Senkos and spinnerbaits are producing bites off secondary points, flooded trees and walls with the fish down only five to 10 feet. At minimum, you should have a 75 fish day. Some anglers are hooking upward of 200 a day. Can’t ask for anything better than that.

Folsom Lake: The spawn is basically over and bass have migrated into deeper water, though you might find a bass here and there in the shallows. The North and South Forks are showing decent catches working the brush and trees. Just about anything you throw at them seems to work, even top-water chatter boxes. Dart-head or drop-shot in deeper water. Cranks and swim baits are working. The lake tends to get crowded with water recreationists on weekends so get away on a weekday if you can.

Bay Area: Boats ranging underneath the Golden Gate and into the Pacific are finding a decent salmon bite. Strong north winds last week shut down the fishery for a couple of days but back to a good weather pattern, the boats should again be on the fish. Stripers and halibut are being found inside the bay.

Bodega Bay: Salmon are cruising these waters, and for the most part, the party boats are on them. They’re hooking many more fish than they’re getting into the nets, but the counts still amount to near limits for everybody. Some salmon are in the 20-pound class.

Lake Pardee: The lake is to the brim. Shore-based anglers are doing well, depending on the most recent trout plant. Rainbow Point, the boathouse, the launch ramp area and Porcupine Point are producing stringers of trout for the shore bound. Garlic-flavored Power Bait has been working well. Boaters head upstream toward Deer Island and beyond and find a good bite while others have been working the barrel line and the dam. Trout and kokanee are biting.

Lake Camanche: They’re still planting trout, splitting them between the South Shore Pond and the main body, either the North or South Shore. Go for the deeper water around the dam and the river channel that leads to the dam. It will take downriggers to reach them, but the bite can well be worth it. Additionally, there’s decent bass fishing and nice catfish coming in.

Contact George deVilbiss at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.