Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Hours -

Western Sport Shop will be closed on Friday, December 25th for Christmas.

We will reopen on Saturday, December 26th for regular store hours.

Western Sport Shop will be closing at 3 pm on Thursday, December 31st, and will be closed on Friday, January 1st. The stores will reopen on Saturday, January 2nd for regular store hours.

So, that means if you wanted to go fishing on New Year's Day, you need to head on in and pick up a 2010 Annual Fishing license - available now in both stores!

Happy Holidays to you from the entire team at Western Sport Shop. Thank you for choosing us, and sharing your successes and "long days" with us this past year. We've enjoyed every minute of it!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great Gift Idea - Redington Minnow Starter Fly Outfit

We see a lot of so-called "kid's" outfits, and most of them are reasonably toy-like. Which is OK when you're talking about spincast outfits, where the rod doesn't really have to do too much. But, in flyfishing, the rod is such a key ingredient in the process of learning to cast, if the starter fly rod isn't of good quality, it just makes it harder than it needs to be.

We were blown away by the quality of the Redington Minnow outfit - the rod has been carefully designed to work well with a younger angler - whose strength might not be enough to use a full-sized rod. This outfit balances well, most importantly casts well, and includes what is most definitely a real fly fishing rod.

Just in time for the holidays, we're making this outfit even more enjoyable by taking $40 off the regular price. You can get this setup for only $119.99! Hurry - we're already starting to run out!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great Gift Idea - Filson Socks

"Oh sure..." you may say. "Socks for Christmas!?"

"Not just socks..." we would reply. "Filson socks"

This year, the early buyers far outstripped our ability to get replacement socks, but the fine folks from UPS just brought our fill-in shipment, so we're suddenly back in stock on this vital holiday item. We had gotten a little worried back when Filson had told us they were reworking their classic sock, but they have kept them comfortable with wonderful Merino wool, mixing them with just enough nylon to let them wash easily and keep their shape.

These keep you comfortable, warm and dry, fit great and do a simple job well for a long time. Don't worry, we won't tell if you pick up a pair for yourself as well...

Note - if you are reading this on Saturday morning over your cup of coffee, and want to pick up a few pair in the Santa Rosa, you may want to wait until noon or so. They had only arrived in San Rafael, so we're making a special delivery run up there later today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Great Gift Idea - Fly Fishing the California Delta

Hot off the press! Great new hardbound book. Perfect for a gift. In stock in both stores.

2010 Fishing Licenses Arrived!

After many long and painful days of having to tell everyone that we didn't have licenses, the California Department of Fish and Game finally sent us our initial batch of 2010 Fishing Licenses! If you want to be fishing on New Year's Day, you'll need this! (It's also historically one of the more popular gifts to unwrap.)

Note that the DFG has "retired" the Bay-Delta Sportfishing Enhancement Stamp, so that all you'll need is the basic license for fishing within the San Francisco Bay.

If you wish to purchase licenses as gifts, you will need to know the name, address and date of birth for the recipient.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

San Francisco Bay Spill Update

San Francisco Bay Spill Update: Shoreline fishing activities resume in some Alameda County areas

The California Department of Fish and Game, upon recommendation of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), has modified the shoreline fishing and shellfish harvesting closure.

Shoreline area restrictions lifted:
- Oakland Middle Harbor north to the Bay Bridge
- Oakland Inner Harbor
- San Leandro Bay
- Shoreline south of the southern boundary of Oakland Airport to the San Mateo Bridge

The decision to lift the closures was based on shoreline oiling data collected during the response.

Shoreline area remaining closed:
- Alameda County shoreline along San Francisco Bay from Alameda Point (at the northwest corner of Alameda Naval Air station) to the southern boundary of the Oakland airport. This area is closed to fishing from the shore, including finfish and shellfish.

The closure will remain in effect until an investigation determines that there is no potential public health threat posed by the spill.

This closure does not apply to fishing from boats in the bay. OEHHA continues to advise that anglers avoid fishing in areas where there is a visible sheen on the water.

Fishery closure map available at

Sam Delson, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, (916) 764-0955
Carol Singleton, Department of Fish and Game, (916) 539-6124
U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs, (415) 748-0112

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bay Area Shoreline Fishing Closure

Bay Area Shoreline Fishing Closure in Effect until Determined Safe to

Alameda, Calif. – The closure of the fishing and shellfish harvesting
in oil affected areas will continue until the Office of Environmental
Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
determine it safe to reopen.

Closure areas include the Alameda County shoreline between the San
Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the San Mateo Bridge. In addition,
OEHHA advises that fishermen avoid fishing in areas where there is a
visible sheen.

"Protecting the public's health is our top priority," said OEHHA
Director Joan Denton. "It's a good idea to avoid any fish from the spill
area until further notice."

OEHHA is the science arm of the California Environmental Protection
Agency and is working with DFG, the Department of Public Health and
other agencies to assess impacts of the oil spill on the fisheries.

OEHHA's safety guidelines call for avoiding consumption of any fish or
shellfish from the spill area until analysis of the collected samples is
completed. Visible oil or oily smell are obvious indications of
contamination, but fish and shellfish from the spill area could still
pose a potential risk even if there are no visible signs of

Fish and shellfish caught from waters outside the spill area remain as
safe to eat as before the spill, but marine life from the spill area
should be avoided until the evaluation of its safety is completed. In
addition, health officials are asking people to stay away from shore
areas until cleanup efforts are completed.

OEHHA has issued the following safety advice for beaches in the spill
area: Avoid direct contact with spilled oil, which can cause skin
irritation. Prolonged contact can cause rashes. If you get oil or tar on
your skin, wash it off with soap and water, and be certain to wash your
hands before eating.

If you get oil on your clothing, wash it in the usual way. There is no
need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil
from skin or clothing.

Do not burn driftwood or other debris that may be contaminated with
oil. Use common sense. Do not swim in water with an oil slick and do not
swallow water from the area. Oil-contaminated water can cause choking
and lead to severe pneumonia if it gets into the lungs.

There is no risk of adverse health effects from breathing air near
spilled oil unless there is prolonged exposure to fumes.

Sam Delson, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, (916)
Carol Singleton, Department of Fish and Game, (916) 539-6124
U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs, (415) 748-0112

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Opening Day - This Saturday!

Wow. If the rains had kept up for another half hour on Monday in San Rafael, we could have just tossed decoys out onto Third Street...

As it was, the store came within a few inches of serious flooding, and everyone in the hunting department was seriously eyeing new rainwear.

Everyone seems to have a big bright outline on this Saturday, and folks have been crowding into the store to stock up on cleaning supplies, ammunition, calls, decoys and - suddenly - new waterproof jackets. In case you have missed the news, the 2009/2010 Waterfowl Season "Balance of State" opening weekend is this Saturday, October 24!

Which means for the last month or so, everyone's duck dog has been going crazy at the house, as they watch all the gear get assembled, laid out, checked and packed up. If you haven't gotten ready yet, it's time to double-check your equipment!

First is to make sure you haven't lost your hunting licence, and that you have appropriate state and federal duck stamps in place. As before, we sell both state and federal stamps, so don't line up down at the Post Office.

Second, go through your firearm and ammo. We've all heard stories of hunters getting out to the blind only to suddenly remember that they'd been on a field hunt in the spring and swapped 20 gauge ammo into their bag. Making sure all the pins are in place on your action, and that the barrel can be tightened down correctly (and that it didn't get dented while being stored or transported) should all be down without the distraction of pre-dawn excitement.

Your calls often get ignored. Now is a good time to pull them out, separate the sections and inspect them for cracked reeds or other damage.

Take a little time today to make this this Saturday's hunt goes off without a hitch!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Russian River Steelhead Clinic Dates Set

The rains are here, conjuring up anticipation of fall runs on the coastal waters. It is some of the more challenging fly fishing , and there's no better way to learn the intricacies of it than to attend one of the always-sold-out Russian River Steelhead Clinics by Carlo Bongio of our Santa Rosa store. Carlo has just announced three dates for this one day clinic - Saturday, November 21st, Saturday, December 12th and Saturday, January 16th.

Steelhead fishing with a fly is truly a graduate school for anglers. Make no mistake, this is technically challenging fishing. But, when your first (or 50th!) steelhead takes your carefully drifted fly and rockets away like a freight train, the hours of casting and working the waters are sure to be forgotten.

Though many lament how the Russian River has changed over the past decades, there have been many improvements in the fishery, with between 5,000 and 10,000 steelhead returning each winter. It is an ideal place to learn how to pursue this winter-run fish, and techniques learned in this class are applicable to almost any waters. Carlo has optimized the timing of this course to maximize the possibility of hooking one of these hard-fighting fish.

Carlo Bongio has fished the Russian River in bad years and through tremendous runs. His careful note-taking and observations have made allowed him to consistently catch and release steelhead on the Russian River for over 30 years. His extensive knowledge and easy teaching style will unlock the secrets of this near-mythic fish.

As mentioned, these clinics fill up extremely quickly, and are subject to minor date changes due to water levels and conditions. For more information, please download our info/signup sheet by clicking below:

Or, if you have specific questions, contact Carlo at the Santa Rosa store - 707-542-4432.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SHOGUN Trip Highlights

San Rafael store Bluewater/Saltwater expert Richard Birnbaum just set his feet back on the dock and couldn't wait to give us a holler on what a great outing the 2009 Western Sport Shop Shogun Sportfishing trip was! Richard hosted the 5 day trip out of San Diego and from the images we've seen, it looks like the only problem was keeping track of who caught more or bigger fish!

Enjoy these images and look for a more detailed report soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Free Fly Fishing Intro for Kids - Sunday!

For the past few years, WSS Staff Member and Fishing Guide Larry Lack has spearheaded the drive to develop more young anglers. As many kids as we see come through the shop, we also realized immediately that Larry was really onto something - too often these days, young people are not getting the opportunity to go fishing. This Sunday, September 20, is an opportunity to introduce your son, daughter or the kids down the block to fly fishing for no charge.

So, even if it's just to go down and look we strongly encourage you to attend this event:

North Bay Trout Unlimited Invites You and Your Family to the Annual


This Sunday, September 20, 9:00 - 2 PM - *Scottsdale Pond, Novato


8 - 18 Year Olds - Come out and learn how to cast (fly & lure), tie knots, rig your gear, tie fishing flies

5 - 7 Year Olds
There will be arts & crafts, fishing games and fishing for catfish

Learn to fly fish in a flyfishing 101 crash course!

Please signup by calling Larry Lack at (415) 883-7447 or

*Take the Rowland exit off 101, go west over freeway, left at the 2nd light to cupola

For an event flyer - click here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rig Right for Maximum Success!

Anyone up for a September to remember? I love years like these when there are more than enough surprises around every corner to compensate for any changes in our local fisheries. I talked to Chris "Flipper" Franks at the bait receiver this week about the halibut and striper bites, and he says "halibut is still strong in the main bay and up the coast", and that "the striper bite has picked up in the south bay and main bay."

The key is the bait. The same warm ocean waters that have brought us a great tuna season (and it looks like it will continue to produce through the rest of the month as well) has also brought big bait and lots of it. Anchovies have been hard to come by, but sardines in the 6-10" range are everywhere along with green mackrel and jack smelt.

I spoke with Captain Todd of the Blue Runner and he says he has never seen so much big bait around the San Francisco harbor. The key successfully fishing the halibut bite, is to modify your rigging to acommodate the big sardines. You will be fine if you are using a pre-tied halibut leader with treble and sliding bait hook. But, if you are using a single live bait hook, you will need to add a stinger hook trailing off the end. The stinger can either single or treble but needs to be big enough to acommodate these bigger baits. If you don't rig this way, all you'll see is scratched baits and short strikes. (Same goes for the stripers, so set your rigs appropriately.)

Our wild story of the week (month, or possibly the season...) comes from a halibut trip. Western Sport Shop long-time customer Ed Janowitz took his boat out on Labor Day with friend Bill Wells to target halibut. They were working through 17' of water on the Berkley Flats and had boated a pair of keeper halibut. Then, something slammed Bill's 8" sardine and took out 200 yrds of line before turning and running another 200 yrds in the opposite direction. With Bill on the fish and Ed at the helm they turned the boat and started to chase - just as Bill was almost out of line. Thinking it was a huge ray they were floored when it slashed across the surface and revealed it self to be the "holy grail" -- a 50" 44lb white sea bass! (Look for photos soon!)
The fish was so big Ed had trouble landing it in a huge teardrop Bodega style salmon net.

Several white sea bass have been reported in the area over the last two weeks but Ed and Bill's was by far the biggest landed. Several have been reported at the Alameda rock wall and Bonita Cove but no pictures were produced. All of them were reported to have been caught drifting jumbo size live sardines.
Striped Bass have been continuing in strong numbers. Anglers on the beaches are still catching stripers using Pencil Poppers (or the wooden Chesapeake poppers we've found!), Jigs, Kastmasters and Swimbaits at Stinson Beach and Ocean Beach both at dawn and dusk.

As for stripers in the bay, reports of fish caught on cut bait and bull heads at China Camp and Highway 37 are steady. Most report that they are catching fewer but bigger bass than they would normally expect this time of year. The ranger at Paradise Pier reports catches of both striper and halibut daily on swimbaits and jigs - it's best at dawn and dusk with slower fishing during the day. Western Sport Shop GM Tom Nelson reports steadily improving striper fishing on the Petaluma river with all of his fish coming on 4" Storm Swimbaits in blue shad, chartreuse shiner, pearl, and natural shad.

I had a chance to talk our fly department staff saltwater experts, John Quigley and Lauren Elliot who spent almost 12 hours chasing stripers on the fly in San Pablo bay (for only one hook up, a 10-12 lber lost at the boat.... Ah well, it is fishing, not necessarily catching.) Quigley tells me that he believes that the bay is holding a higher quality striper fishery this year but that the overall numbers especially juveniles are way down and that the bigger fish appear to be avoiding the shallow shoreline areas. It will be interesting to see how the fall striper run plays out.

As far as I can see, the hot bites not to miss are the tuna, and the elusive white sea bass. The tuna are good to go any time the swells and wind will allow it. Best bets being to listen to the weather radio to time your run, then troll plain cedar plugs and 4" zucchini tuna clones or feathers and then back it up with live sardines and swimbaits. Unlike the "in the Bay" baits, the shorter trolling lures seem to be the ticket right now on the tuna. Anglers have done will with the shorter plugs and feathers.

Best bet for the white seabass is to drift big 10" sardines on a 3-way swivel rig and a 9/0 circle hook. Don't get me wrong when I say the whites are hot - you will be fishing for one fish but that one fish may be your only shot at these awesome creatures inside the San Francisco Bay for several years.

As a final note - I strongly encourage catch and release on these things - especially the big females. I know they are unbelievable on the table but those are the fish for the next generation. Good Luck!

Joe @ WSS

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sale Starts Today - Something for Everyone!

Today is the day! By now, you've had the chance to check out your gear, figure out what you need and clear out your vehicle so you can load it up at Western Sport Shop this weekend! The 2009 Fall Shooting Sports Super Sale starts now!

I've received quite a few few emails from our loyal fly fishing and fishing customers, who reminded me that Western Sport Shop does cover a couple more areas of interest. Forgive us for being a little "one-note" for the past few days - it's hard not to get excited when you are getting palettes of ammo, decoys clothing and gear ready for the big fall sale.

So attention Fly Fishing Folks!

Sage has discontinued their powerful Xi2 Saltwater series of fly rods, and their Launch Series. We got wind of this and immediately jumped on a batch of both rod series in various sizes, which we are offering at 30% off the regular price. That's right - Sage Xi2 and Launch Series rods are 30% off the regular retail price. But, quantities are limited on these fly rods, so don't delay. All rods come with the factory warranty and rod tubes.

Ross Reels will be changing the Evolution series for the upcoming year, so all Evolution reels are now 30% off the regular price. This has been one of our "go-to" reels for many years, a magnificent combination of lightweight and strength.

All Felt Soled Wading shoes are now 40% off!

And for our Fishing Customers -

20% off all lures this weekend! Any lure in stock is 20% off the regular price. That means that from now until Sunday, you can stock up and replace all those lost lures. Did you stick a Kastmaster between some rocks? Break off a topwater lure to a bad knot? Have the monster striper bite through a leader? Now is the time to fill your tackle box back up!

30% off all Okuma rod/reel combos. Choose from fresh and saltwater spinning combos. These balanced outfits range from ultra-light to super beefy!

50% off any complete bulk spools of line this weekend!
(please note - this is for a complete, unopened spool of bulk monofilament line and does not include labor for loading reels using our linewinding machines.)

On all these fly and tackle department deals, it is strictly limited to stock on hand and can not be combined with other offers, discounts or specials.

So - head on down right now for the best selection!

Get a Jump On The Big Weekend Sale!

If the phone calls, emails and questions are any indicator, this weekend is going to be busy! We've all been working like mad to get the ammo, clothing, decoys and gear organized for this weekend's Fall Shooting Sports Super Sale. At the end of the day yesterday, we looked around, noticed we'd gotten through almost everything on our lists, and figured, "Hey! Let's open it up for a test run!"

So, "Hey"... Why don't you - the loyal readers of our blog - come on down today, Thursday August 27th for a bit of a head start? Bring a friend or two if you want to, but we've got all the prices in place and are more than happy to honor any of the coupons which you might have for this weekend's big sale. Just our way of thanking you for joining us online.

A quick reminder that you don't have to wait in line at the US Post Office to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. We have them at both stores, and they can be purchased along with your 2009/2010 California Hunting License. (Remember - You must bring in a previous year's license or proof of Hunter Safety Course compliance.)

Also - keep an eye out for rebate coupons from the various manufacturers. For example. Environ-Metal has sent rebate coupons for their Hevi-Shot, offering up to $20 off when you purchase 2 boxes of their ammunition! That's after you save big on our special pricing this weekend! (Note - rebate coupons are redeemed directly with the manufacturer.)

Stock up on quality cleaning supplies and patches! Print this out and bring it with you to either store and you will get 15% off all Pro-Shot brand cleaning patches and equipment. Limited to stock on hand.
Coupon Valid 8/28/09 - 8/30/09 only. May not be combined with any other offer or sale.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Printable Waterfowl Regulations for 2010

After yesterday's post, the most common email request was for a version of the regulations which could be easily printed out - Of course, that's something we do every year, so keep an eye out for the "Green Sheet" this weekend in both stores.

If you absolutely cannot wait until Friday (or actually, tomorrow...) here's a link to a pdf version you can print out and post in your workplace or office -

This Weekend - Tune Up Your Quacking and Save BIG!

As you know, the 2009 Western Sport Shop Fall Shooting Sports Super Sale starts this Friday. It's your chance to stock up on the gear you need, with the best pricing of the season on ammunition, decoys, clothing and key gear for three days!

When you come into the San Rafael store on Saturday, you'll have the opportunity to hear duck calling done right - we're happy to welcome Curt Wilson from Zink Calls to our San Rafael store. Curt is known throughout the US as one of the most dynamic and accurate callers. He has been seen on instructional videos both on the Avery Outdoors website and on through nationally distributed called DVD's featuring Zink calls.

For those of you who haven't heard of Zink calls, we brought them in a couple years ago and they have become a staff favorite for their tone and rugged construction. If you already own a Zink call, bring it down to the San Rafael store between 10 am and 3 pm, and have Curt critique your calling. (And if you don't have a Zink call - it's OK - just show up and get ready to learn!)

If you are a bit shy about calling in front of a master, that's OK too. Feel free to listen to Curt and pepper him with all kinds of questions.

Of course, if you don't have a decent call we can fix that problem!

Print this out and bring it with you to either store and you will get 15% off any Zink call in stock
Coupon Valid 8/28/09 - 8/30/09 only. May not be combined with any other offer or sale.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009/2010 Waterfowl Regulations Update - 2 Pintail!

According to our good friends over at California Waterfowl Association, Waterfowl regulations for the 2009-2010 hunting season have been approved by the California Fish and Game Commission, including a two pintail limit for the first time in twelve years. Other highlights for hunters include a raised limit on scaup and a reopening on canvasback.

According to Greg Yarris, Director of Conservation Policy for California Waterfowl, “The liberal regulations approved this year are the result of a strong western stock of mallards and improved local duck production this year because of timely spring rains.”

Waterfowl hunters will benefit this fall with a recommendation which calls for a duck season of 100 days, and a daily bag limit of seven ducks. In addition to pintails, there is also good news for hunters who enjoy diving ducks. The bag limit on redheads remains two birds, but the limit on canvasbacks (which was closed last season) is one for the entire season. The scaup season length remains at 86 days, but the bag limit went from two birds to three.

The pintail breeding population increased by 23% in North America, but it was the change in the distribution of pintail from the north to prairies further south that had the greatest effect on the regulatory outcome.

“Pintail are typically more successful when breeding in Prairie habitats,” explained Bob McLandress, President of California Waterfowl, “which allows for more hunter opportunity and an increased bag limit due to a southern shift in their distribution.”


  • The duck season will be > 100 days, and the bag limit 7 birds/day in all zones.

  • Pintail bag is 2 birds/day (either sex) for the entire season (for the 1st time in 12 years).
  • Mallard bag will 7 birds/day, and two may be hens. (up from one hen last season)

  • Canvasback bag is 1 bird/day for the entire season. (it was closed last season)

  • Scaup bag is 3 birds/day, and the season will be 86 days. (up from 2 last season)

  • Spinning wing decoys regs. remain unchanged, and will be allowed from December 1 until the season ends (statewide). (Note - this refers to battery operated and/or motorized spinning wing decoys. Natural wind-driven decoys can be used through the season.)
DFG Waterfowl Zone Map -


Ducks and Geese: 100 Day Straight Season (scaup during last 86 days only)
October 24, 2009 through January 31, 2010.

Brant Special Management Areas: Northcoast Brant (Humboldt Bay) November 7,
2009 through December 6, 2009. Southcoast Brant (Tomales and Morro Bay),
November 14, 2009 through December 13, 2009; 2 per day, 4 possession.

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 6 and February 7, 2010 


Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Daily bag limit may contain 7 mallards of which only 2 
can be female; 2 pintail; 1 canvasback; 2 redheads; 3 scaup. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.

Geese: Daily bag limit: 8. Daily bag limit may contain 8 geese of which only 6 
can be dark geese. Bag may include up to 6 large Canada geese; 6 small Canada geese, 6 white geese; 4 white fronts.

Sacramento Valley Special Management Area: No more than 2 white fronts may be taken only from October 24, 2009 until December 14, 2009. For more information 
on the Sacramento Valley (West) Special Management Area limits and boundaries, please refer to the Fish and Game Waterfowl Regulation Booklet.
 Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.



Ducks: 105 Day Straight Season (scaup during first 86 days only)
October 10, 2009 through January 22, 2010 

Geese: 100 Day Straight Season 
October 10, 2009 through January 17, 2010 
Special Youth Hunt Days: September 26 and 27, 2009


Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Daily bag limit may contain 7 mallards, of which only 2 
can be female; 2 pintail; 1 canvasback; 2 redheads; 3 scaup. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.
Geese: Daily bag limit: 8. Daily bag limit may contain 8 geese of which only 6 
may be dark geese. Only 1 may be a small Canada goose (Aleutian or cackling)
and only 2 may be large Canada geese; 6 white geese; 4 white fronts. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.



Ducks: 102 days split Season (scaup during last 79 days only)
October 10, 2009 through November 1, 2009 and November 14, 2009 through
January 31, 2010

Geese: 100 Day Straight Season
October 24, 2009 through January 31, 2010

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 6 and February 7, 2010


Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Daily bag limit may contain 7 mallards, of which only 2
can be female; 2 pintail; 1 canvasback; 2 redheads; 3 scaup. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.

Geese: Daily bag limit: 8. Daily bag limit may contain 8 geese, of which only 6 
may be dark geese, and include up to 6 large Canada geese; 6 small Canada geese; 6 white geese; 4 white fronts. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.



Ducks and Geese: 100 Day Straight Season (scaup during last 86 days only)
October 24, 2009 through January 31, 2010

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 6 and February 7, 2010
Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Daily bag limit may contain 7 mallards, of which only 2 
can be female; 2 pintail; 1 canvasback; 2 redheads; 3 scaup. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.

Geese: Daily bag limit: 8. Daily bag limit may contain 8 geese, of which only 6 
may be white geese and 3 may be dark geese.
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.



Ducks and Geese: 101 Day Straight Season (scaup during last 86 days only)
October 23, 2009 through January 31, 2010

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 6 and February 7, 2010
Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Daily bag limit may contain 7 mallards, but not more than 2 female mallards or Mexican-like ducks; 2 pintail (either sex); 1 canvasback; 2 redheads; 
3 scaup. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.

Geese: Daily bag limit: 6. Daily bag limits may contain 6 white geese and up to 3 
may be dark geese. 
Possession limit: Double the daily bag limit.

For more information as well as any changes or corrections which may affect you or the limits in your area, visit DFG’s website at

Shooting Times:
Northern California -

Southern California -

Waning Days of Summer

It's starting to look like the dog days of summer are winding down, and the fish (in response to shorter days) are begining to enter the summer/fall transition phase of their year. The dominant fish holding in cover like grass, tules, hyacinth, or wood is becoming scarcer as falling water levels leave many areas high and dry. Bass (and most other fish) do need water.

Lakes such as Nicasio, Stafford, and Soulajule have areas of shoreline weeds that hold a lot of bluegill, red-earred, and green sunfish right alongside juvenile bass in the 6-10" range, and bass fry in the 1.5-3" range. They congregate here to stay safe from the bigger bass (2.5lbs-10lbs).

The weed beds are basicly like a cross between a sanctuary and a nursery, with bass fry hanging around the shallow side of the weed bed eating insects and insect larva whilst enjoying relative saftey from predation. On the outer edge (deeper edge) juvenile bass (dinks) in the 3/4lb-2lb use these weed beds as a home base from which to forage and hide from the bigger bass (3-10lbs) which stage raids up from the depths a couple times a day.

When the water levels fall it begins to squeeze these weed beds like a sponge. Lack of safe areas forces all of these smaller fish to play musical chairs in a desperate attempt to secure a safe chunk of the cover for themselves. All this active struggling keys the big bass to leave the depths and patrol back and forth on the outside weed line that is constantly pushing fish out to them. When the smaller fish lose their place in line, they become a larger fish's lunch.

During this period, I have had epic days taking advantage this dramatic struggle with swimjigs, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, basstrix, super flukes, and shallow crank baits. I select which bait I use based on water clarity, wind, temperature, barometric pressure, and cloud cover (or lack there of).

Two years ago in august I was fishing a strip of soon to be high and dry weedbed with overcast skys and strong but warm wind on the golf course side of Stafford Lake - testing a new spinnerbait design . I noticed a V-wake zip up and down the little weedline so I turned and started throwing the spinnerbait directly into the wind and slow rolled it over the little strip of weedline and - bang - a 5.1oz bass with the tale of a 1/2lb bass sticking out of its throat. The next four casts produced four more fish all in the 4-6lb range until the wind stopped and so did the bite. Because I was testing I did not have much tackle with me so I grabbed a second spinnerbait (the exact same size and color) and cut the arm off of it about an inch above the head and rolled it over so as to create an eye that I could tie to. Other than the blades the bait was identical.

The first cast produced a 4.5 bass. Three more casts? Three more fish! Nothing under 4lbs. Then the wind started up again and I stopped getting bit. I tied on the spinnerbait again and bam, back in action. It went on for about 4 hrs like that and I ended up with my best 5 weighing almost 25lbs! Since Stafford is not known as a big fish lake so I was blown away.

You need to have a different approach for clear lakes like Alpine or Kent. In that type of lake, when the water starts to get really low and the cover is less available, you want to start looking for lay-downs that straddle two depths. In other words, you need to think vertically. My first cast would be to throw senkos or lite jigs.

A little research can be very helpful as well - this is a great time to look at either a topographical map of the lake and the hills around it or a hydrographic map if you can find one. Look for areas where the break line (edge of the old creek channel) swings closer to shore, or where a point reaches out into the creek channel itself .

Bass will still come up shallow and cruise around looking for food and can often times be found sitting in 10" of water right within about a foot from shore at dawn, but for the most part the bulk of fish will remain deep for most of the day. Another thing to remember about this period is that the fish school up. This makes makes it easier to catch them once found, because feeding bass are very compettive - even though they may not like the bait you are throwing when they are alone, they sure aren't going to stand by while some other fish gets it!

The baits to throw during this period are finesse stuff like drop shots, split shot rigs, shaky heads and wacky jig heads. Use Roboworms for these baits primarily but the slim Senko is great too.

These are the rigs that catch numbers of fish especially during daytime hours when the bite is tough. For the better quality fish, you can't beat a 5" watermelon w/black flake Senko rigged with a weighted wacky jig head, a Texas-rigged weightless 6" Senko, and my favorite the 1/2 oz-3/4 oz Jigmonster Chaos football head jig in P.B.J., or hell hound with either a Trixie Beaver, double tail grub, or chigger craw.

If you get a strong prolonged wind that is not significantly cold, expect fish to move up on the rocky banks where they will blast jerk baits like the Lucky Craft Pointer 100, or the Rapala x-rap. The Hildenbrandt blade is a "go-to" spinner bait, because it has much smaller blades then most others and performs great in clear water.

We're also heading into the time to rock the SPRO BBZ-1 slow sink trout for a couple bites a day (big bites). Best bet is to pick it up at dawn, dusk, or (my favorite) during heavy wind and make very long casts either across points, or along the breaklines, and then slow roll the bait just above your depth of vision, and every time you pass a potential ambush point rip the rod hard like a jerk bait and then go back to slowrolling. Stay focused! If the fish blasts right when you rip the bait, you need to set the hook hard and manage your line ( if no ambush points exist rip the bait about every 10').

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ocean Salmon Fishing? Well.... Yeah! Sort of...

We received a ton of calls over the weekend concerning the California Department of Fish & Game Announcement of a limited ocean salmon fishing season for this year.

In short, they are allowing a limited period of fishing near the mouth of the Klamath River, so unless you plan on trailering your boat or making a long run, most of the San Francisco Bay boat owners are better off chasing the local halibut and striped bass.

Here's the press release we received from the DFG:

From: "Marine Management News" <>
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 2009 15:30:13 -0700
Subject: CDFG News Release: Ten-Day Recreational Ocean Salmon Season to Open
in Northern California Aug. 29

California Department of Fish and Game News Release


Contact: Joe Duran, Associate Marine Biologist, (707) 576-3456
Harry Morse, Public Information Officer, (916) 322-8962

Ten-Day Recreational Ocean Salmon Season to Open in Northern California
Aug. 29

California¹s only 2009 recreational ocean salmon season will be open
Aug. 29 through Sept. 7 in the Klamath Management Zone along the north
coast. The brief season was authorized by the Pacific Fishery Management
Council and California Fish and Game Commission, based on data collected
by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) showing enough adult Klamath
fall run Chinook will return to the Klamath River Basin to allow for a
limited ocean harvest while maintaining conservation goals. Since 2008,
commercial and recreational fishing for salmon has been closed in all
other ocean areas off California in order to protect Sacramento River
fall run Chinook, which have been at historically low numbers the last
two years.

³This northern California season was specifically designed to
minimize the incidental take of Sacramento River fall Chinook,² said
Marija Vojkovich, Marine Region Manager and DFG¹s representative to
the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The boundaries of the open ocean fishing area extend from north of
Horse Mt. (40° 05¹ 00² N. latitude) to the California - Oregon
border. The retention of coho salmon or steelhead trout is prohibited in
all California ocean fisheries. Anglers are required to use barbless
hooks and are limited to one rod per person when fishing for salmon, or
when fishing from a boat with salmon on board.

The daily bag and possession limit is two salmon of any species except
coho, with a minimum size limit of 24 inches total length. A salmon
report card is no longer required when fishing for salmon in the

The opening of this salmon season is expected to provide some relief to
businesses that cater to the salmon anglers. According to DFG economist
Terry Tillman, the 10-day ocean salmon sport fishing season could boost
economic output by $2 million statewide. Locally, in Humboldt and Del
Norte counties, the season could contribute an additional $370,000 to
total economic output for the region.

The 2009-2010 Freshwater and Ocean Sport Fishing Supplement, published
by DFG, lists all current regulations and restrictions. The supplement
is available at sport fishing licenses dealers, DFG offices and online
at Anglers may also call the Ocean Salmon
Hotline at (707) 576-3429 for additional information.

Salmon news and related information compiled by DFG is online at:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seven Days Until Serious Savings!

Yep - it's that time!

If you 've been in the store during the past couple of weeks, you've probably noticed that there have been non-stop deliveries of decoys, ammunition, camo clothing and all the gear you need for the fall shooting season.

And just in case you missed the flyers - the 2009 Western Sport Shop Fall Shooting Sports Super Sale starts on Friday, August 28 and runs through Sunday, August 30.

We've got everything stacked up and ready, we've been sharpening our pencils to figure out the lowest prices of the season on clothing from Browning and Gamehide, decoys from Greenhead and Avery (plus the Winducks - wind-driven decoys that are the best trick for getting birds close), ammunition from Kent, Federal and HeviShot, and the hot new models from Benelli, Browning, Remington and Beretta.

Simply put, this is the time to stock up for what you'll need and save big while you're doing it.

3 Days of the lowest prices of the season. Don't miss this event!

Check back here for some "blog-only" specials as we get closer to the event.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nicasio Reservoir - Marin Bass Club Results

On Sunday 7/26 six two-man teams competed for prize money and bragging rights at the 4th Marin County Bass Club Event of the season held on Lake Nicasio.

Of the anglers that showed we had grown men like Joe Hargreaves from and Western Sport Shop and Randy Kid from the Sonoma County Belly Boat Club. Randy was coming in with the momentum of having just won his last tournament on the California Delta in dominant fashion with a 24lb bag that included a 10.3 lb and a 9.4 lb fish. A number of cagey locals who knew the lake very well showed up too - even one former east coast tournament angler who had won events on Lake Champlain before moving west.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, a couple of "kids" showed up as well; 16 year old Jeff Russell, who has acted as a stand-in whenever I've had to pull out of a team tourney in the past, and 16 year old Eduardo Li of Hi's tackle - another stand-in during the Team tournament season. These two were matched up as a team. We never saw what hit us!

Ok, you're probably laughing already, but these kids beat us - all of us! They posted an 18 pound lead over the second heaviest limit of the day.

Let's just take these facts one at a time -
1 - They clobbered everyone.
2 - Their LEAD was 18 pounts - not their limit.

Not only that - Jeff set a new Marin Bass Club Tournament Record with a single fish of 11lb 3oz. That's a nice fish. Uh... yeah.

For those of you interested, we will be trying a new format at our next event where you will be allowed to fish any publicly accessible lake in Marin County as long as you are back for the weigh in on time. Also, our next tournament will be ope to everyone - so even if you are not a member of the Marin County Bass Club, you'll get to join in the fun.

And here are some photos of the fun:

Click on through to see more photos.
Ok folks, I know a number of you have called the stores and emailed about
the Benelli Factory Field Day at Black Point Sport Clubs on Saturday, August
8th. Most of you have signed up, but a few people may have been distracted by
work, travel or other tasks and forgotten to follow through - So, here's your last

We are closing in the shooter limit and will be closing registration by noon
on Tuesday, August 4th - If you haven't signed up by then, you'll just have to
look at the pictures and hear all about the new Benelli Vinci and other
smooth-shooting semiautomatic shotguns that were on the rack.

This is a rare opportunity to get a chance to shoot these at moving targets,
using the Black Point Sports Club sporting clays stations. Kent Brown, the
Benelli factory rep, will be on hand throughout the morning to answer
questions and discuss the operation of the various models. You will be able to fire
the Vinci, M2, Super Black Eagle 2 and other models on the clays circuit.

The $50 fee covers access to the Black Point Sports Club, a 25 round circuit
on the sporting clays course, use of the Benelli models and shells for the
round. After the shooting, there will be a lunch barbeque for all attendees. Look
for a set of special "attendee-only" coupons as well.

Sign-in will be at 9:30 and the clays course will open at 10. It will be -
no pun intended - a "shotgun" start. So, all shooters should be ready to go at
10 am. Lunch will be served at about 12:30, which should give you plenty of
time to check out the various Benelli models or even squeeze in another round of 25
if you want to. (You can shoot an additional round for a fee - look for Mike if
you want to do this.)

You can sign up via our website -

Downloadable signup sheet - Feel free to copy, share and post!

Please note - this is a private event and there will be no "day of" signups.
Attendees will be limited to those who have signed up and paid in full before August 8th.

Price includes shells, the use of the clays course and the meal - $50 per

(Please note, attendee‚s under the age of 18 must posses a valid California
Hunting License and be directly supervised by an adult. Note - the
requirement for a valid hunting license is a Western Sport Shop, Inc. requirement to
insure that all shooters have passed their Hunter Safety Course.)

This event will be limited and spaces will be available on a first-come,
first-served basis (and we'll create a waiting list if the number of slots
fill up).

Again - To reserve space right now, you can sign up on our website -

You will be contacted with specific times and directions before the event.

For more information about Benelli, visit the Benelli USA site -

For more information about the Black Point Sports Club - please take a
moment to
visit their website -

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dog Days of Summer...?

So much for that!
If the bites we have going this month are the dog days, then I want a dog house and a big bone to chew on because I have never seen so many crazy bites happening all at once.

July tides have kicked off an epic halibut bite at Point Bonita with anglers reporting fast limits of jumbo flatties up to 45 lbs on live bait, frozen jumbo herring, and jigs. Even with heavy fishing pressure these fish just won't give up.

I have heard reports of guys throwing live jack smelt from 8 to 10 inches long ( the smelt can be caught on a sz 14 Sabiki rig) and live sardines (which also can be caught using the same Sabiki rig) 6 to 8 inches long with a slip sinker and a 50lb mono leader (about 3-4 ft long) as close to the back of the surf as safely possible and sticking flatties up to 30lbs (and stripers up to 25lbs!) The smaller boat folks who have stayed in the bay are also clobbering the flatties in places like Crissy Field, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. Inside the bay, catch reports are running up to 35lbs with good numbers of fish in the 20lb class. Top technique is drifting live bait, the bigger the better.

Last week local striper guru Tommy Glasser fished with one of our tackle guys here at the San Rafael Shop, Sean Daugherty. They reported fast afternoon action at Bonita and on the North Bar, but found a honey hole at Angel Island when they made a quick stop on their way home with a big concentration of "cookie cutter" 20lb flatties.

Several former commercial fishermen in Bolinas report that they have been able to catch a three fish limit of flatties in less than an hour at dozens of spots from Stinson Beach to Point Reyes and just beyond. These guys use use big frozen herring and live bait when they can catch it but they're doing just as well on jigs and plastics coated with either Pro-cure "'but juice" or Pro-cure sardine oil. They are enjoying a whole lot of water to themselves so if you find yourself starting to get crowded in at point bonita or at the beaches, head north.

Also while Tomales Bay can only handle so many boats before it gets hammered down, the flatties are kicking butt there as well. WSS G.M. Tom Nelson's son Wes Nelson is an expert on Tomales and he and his dad along with "Frank the Tomales Guru" have been catching limits of halibut in the 15-20lb class on almost every trip.

As great as the live bait/frozen bait drift fishing is. The striped bass surf bite is the best I have ever seen. Six or seven big schools of BIG stripers are haunting the coast line from Monterey to Pt. Reyes with Ocean Beach and Half Moon Bay being the epicenter of an incredible natural event.

Picture this - massive schools of sardines in the 5-8 inch size are being pushed up against the beaches and surf by huge stripers, huge halibut that are acting like stripers and chasing bait, a sprinkling of giant white sea bass (up to 52lbs), body surfing sea lions, and get this, DOLPHINS! Well...actually they are porpises, but none the less they are less than 30' from shore!

Even if you don't fish you have to see this, it's like watching a live performance of "Planet Earth"!

The good news is that they are all eating sardines and not stripers and halibut, but the bad news is that the white sea bass are not biting and appear to be just kind of hanging around (maybe preparing to spawn?)

The best bets for gear are Pencil Poppers in chrome with a blue back or white with a red head, silver or silver/blue kastmasters in the 2-4 oz range, hevier Hopkins spoons (~3 oz) in hammered chrome, SPRO hair jigs (2-3 oz sizes) in all white or white with either a black, blue, or green back. My absolute favorite would have to be an 8" Cheasapeake Bay Pencil Popper in pink/white, black scale, and yellow bunker unless it's really windy, in which case I like the River2Sea Dumbbell POP200 in deep blue.

If that is still not enough for you, Albacore in the 25-30lb class are on the bite with reports of fish anywhere from 38 miles out of Sausalito to 15 miles off Fort Bragg and Monterey. Best tactics have been to find albacore with surface trolled unpainted Cedar Plugs (various sizes) and and Tuna Clones in "Mexican Flag." Once you locate the schools, you can then bring them up with live bait, and it's on.

Most boats report that once they bring the fish up it's not just fast action, but the fish are blasting jigs, swimbaits, plastics, and even flies like 6" deceivers or clousers in white/chartreuse, white/green, or white/blue.

But what I think is the coolest thing going on right now, is the appearance of thresher sharks. The same water that brought in the tuna and larger schools of sardines, has also brought us hundreds of threshers. I have heard several reports of large thresher sharks just kind of cruising under the surfcace with their long sickle like tail jutting up into the air, whipping from side to side as they swim by.

These sharks are so prolific at the moment (and again I have lived here my whole life and have only seen two) that some guys have begun to target them. The usual man to thresher shark encounter in this area involves a salmon fisherman trolling big sardine baits and hooking into a juvenile that quickly breaks the line, not by strengh, but by slicing up the line with their big long tail. They use this tail to rip through schools of bait, doing damage to whatever is in front of them with a similar posture to a scorpion, then returning and eating whichever bait fish were stunned or injunred by the whipping tail - not unlike king salmon who use the same basic attck, but use their open toothy mouths.

Some thresher sharks have been landed but this is rare and they are typicaly quite small. Anglers who are targeting them now have found that the best way to get one of these critters is by trolling a big marlin or wahoo type plug or Magnum Rapala on a 5'-8' wire leader made of 90lb sevenstrand on the same kind of high capacity trolling outfit you would use when searching for albacore.

So far, the biggest landed in the bay was 35lbs and it took a jumbo trolled herring just off Alcatraz. The same boat reported losing one that they believed to be over 100lbs just off Yellow Bluff that same day. In the ocean, I know of one fish over 80lbs taken on a Magnum Rapala near Duxbury Reef and another that was released after being measured against the boat. That fish is the largest reported so far, having a body of about 8ft for a total of 14 ft with its tail. These amazing sharks are often described as the best eating of all sharks.

(ed note - fishing for sharks has obvious inherent dangers, both in the catch and handling of these fish. We recommend you fish with an experienced angler or research the topic thoroughly before attempting this.)

If all of this stuff is to intense and you want to take it easy, try fishing with Berkely Gulp Sand Sorms, 2-3 inch Curly Tail Grubs in smoke, rootbeer, motor oil, white, or chartreuse, or simply soak live sand crabs at Stinson Beach for big redtail perch and barred surf perch. Some of these have run so big that they have been caught on 8" striper plugs.

Freshwater fishing is not quite as hot as salt but there are fish to be caught.

Bon Tempe will kick out trout on Power Bait and Power Nuggets or pink Berkley Gulp Worms. The effective tactics have changed since spring, of course - you need to tie leaders that are 3-4 ft long and use a 3/4oz eggsinker so as to get the bait out as far and deep as possible. Try to fish the steepest banks you can find or near the outflow pump when it is activated and pumping water up from Alpine Lake.

Smallmouth Bass are also there but you have to work for them. For best results, target steep shorelines at dawn with topwater baits like the Ima Skimmer or jerk baits like the Lucky Craft Pointer 100 in Ghost Minnow. Once the sun is up you either drop shot 4.5" finesse worms, or you fish a 1/2-3/4 oz Jig Monster Chaos football head jig with a double tail grub trailer slowly on deep water points. Best colors are green pumpkin watermelon, P.B.J., bludgeon, hell hound, and cold water craw.

You can take the same approach to Alpine Lake for smallies and largemouth, but also try throwing 5-6 inch senkos rigged wacky in watermelon w/black flake, or green pumpkin w/black flake. Kent Lake can be fished in this same manor as well but the bite should be a whole lot better. At Kent, add swimbaits and crank baits to your arsenal. Look for wood cover that is still submerged especialy if it spans across shallow and deep water.

With all three lakes it pays to keep moving. The harder you have to work to get to the good spots the better those spots will be. While you will find that once the sun is on the water the reaction bite (i.e. - topwater, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits) will mostly shut down, and the majority of bites will come on jigs and plastics, there is an exception: wind.

When the afternoon wind gets going and it lasts for more than a few minutes than no matter how much direct sunlight hits the water, the surface chop makes it impossible for birds to hunt fish and the bass go on the bite with confidence. best baits for afternoon wind are spinnerbaits, either 3/8 or 1/2 oz with tandem blades, or double willow blades like the Hildenbrandt blade series or Persuader. Whites or white chartreuse or good but the Hildenbrandt in bluegill, or alewife are even better. Nicasio is pretty tough (and low) right now but after the Marin Bass Club Derby there on Sunday there will be a full report.

Names of Note: I wanted to give some credit here to Jeff Russell who is fishing a junior pro tournament this week, we wish him good luck. Jigmonster pro Chris "Flipper" Franks garnered some serious ink with a big article in the Marin Independant Journal about himself and his pro bass career.

Marin IJ Photo

Finally, a huge thanks and vote of respect goes out to the park rangers who acted when I complained to them about poaching and other abuses reported and encountered at Lake Nicasio - they followed through by reporting to the Marin County Sheriff and vigorously enforcing the law and regulations, ensuring a fair and quality fishing experience for those who follow the rules. Thanks a lot guys! I am proud have such standup rangers out here, we are lucky we have you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Benelli & Clays Day at Black Point - August 8th!

It seems as though a bunch of hunters are excited about trying out the new Benelli Vinci up at Black Point Sports Club on Saturday, August 8th - we've already received a bunch of signups through the website and in the shops. With the logistics of moving shooters through a 25 round of the Sporting Clays course and the number of Benellis which the Factory Rep will be bringing, there is a limit to the number of slots - so if you are interested in attending, don't delay!

You can sign up via our website -

Downloadable signup sheet - Feel free to copy, share and post!

Please note - this is a private event and there will be no "day of" signups. Attendees will be limited to those who have signed up and paid in full before August 8th.

If you missed the earlier announcement, when Benelli brought out their new line of Vinci series shotguns, we had tremendous interest among customers (and staff). This new model incorporates a radically redesigned action system that assures smooth operation in the field. The few we've received so far have normally sold within the first week of putting them on the shelf. But, the question has remained - Where do you try these out?

We're throwing a "hands-on" event at the Black Point Sports Club, which will take place on Saturday, August 8th. The Benelli factory rep will be on hand with the Vinci, plus Benelli's lineup of other models. Attendees will have the opportunity to shoot a 25 shot round at Black Point's Sporting Clays stations (with an option for 50 if you wish), using the Benelli models.

If you attend, you'll have the opportunity to try out the various actions, see for yourself how the recoil reduction systems will help your accuracy and have a chance to ask all the Benelli questions you can come up with. In addition, since you'll be out there enjoying the day, we're arranging for lunch.

Price includes shells, the use of the clays course and the meal - $50 per attendee.
(Please note, attendee’s under the age of 18 must posses a valid California Hunting License and be directly supervised by an adult.)

This event will be limited and spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis (and we'll create a waiting list if the number of slots fill up).

Again - To reserve space right now, you can sign up on our website -

You will be contacted with specific times and directions before the event.

For more information about Benelli, visit the Benelli USA site.

Friday, July 17, 2009

August 8 - Save the Date!

One of the most interesting developments to come down the pipe for hunters has been the Benelli Vinci series of shotguns. This new model incorporates a radically redesigned action system that assures smooth operation in the field. The few we've received so far have normally sold within the first week of putting them on the shelf.

But, the question has remained - Where do you try these out?

That's a darned good question. (Even if we asked it ourselves...)

We're just putting the finishing touches on a "hands-on" event at the Black Point Sports Club, which will take place on Saturday, August 8th. The Benelli factory rep will be on hand with the Vinci, plus Benelli's lineup of othe models. Attendees will have the opportunity to shoot a 25 shot round at Black Point's Sporting Clays stations (with an option for 50 if you wish), using the Benelli models.

If you attend, you'll have the opportunity to try out the various actions, see for yourself how the recoil reduction systems will help your accuracy and have a chance to ask all the Benelli questions you can come up with.

In addition, since you'll be out there enjoying the day, we're arranging for lunch.

Now, there will be a moderate charge to cover the costs of shells, the use of the clays course and the meal. We're just finalizing the price and will confirm that this week.

The more important thing is that the facilities limit the number of attendees - we need to know how many people will attend. Spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis (and we'll create a waiting list if the number of slots fill up).

To reserve space right now, you can follow this link:

Look for updates soon! Don't miss this unique event!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Father's Day Coupon - Hot Savings!

Just in time for Father's Day, here's a web-only coupon to use in either of our two stores! Special deals on spotting scopes, fillet knives, shooter's glasses and every new book that we have in stock!

Simply follow these easy steps -

1 - Click here -
(If that link doesn't work, just copy and paste it into you browser)
2 - Print out your coupon
3 - Bring your coupon to either of our two locations.
4 - Save Big!

Coupons are valid through Sunday, June 21st only, and all items are strictly limited to stock on hand. So, what are you waiting for?

See ya at the stores!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thoughts on Father's Day

We never really planned it that way, but we noticed in the first few years of running Western Sport Shop that Father's Day was always one of our busiest Sundays. We would see a ton of folks coming in - young children "bringing" their fathers into the store to take them fishing up at the lakes, or a couple of recent college grads getting what they needed to take their dads for a day throwing clays and comparing scores, or we'd see an older customer being taken care of by their son, returning a favor played out many, many years before when the son was wide-eyed and excited about spending the day with his father.

A month or so ago, when we were planning staffing and upcoming events, the question came up about doing something special for Father's Day. There were questions about bringing in some special merchandise or doing something new and different. A long pause occurred, and then one of our newer team members said, "Western is the special thing...."

The rest of us thought about that for a while, and realized how accurately that seemed to describe things. Sure, we'll do something on Father's Day*, but it helped remind all of us how many generations have intersected at Western Sport Shop - there are adults who some of us remember as young children, dear friends of the field and stream who have left us, many companions who have grown to know us like family, all from the simple act of spending time together in the outdoors.

In the meantime, if you want to get ready a little early, let us know what you want to do - fishing, hunting or fly fishing, where you want to go and what you want to pursue - and any of us will be happy to spend some extra time with you making sure you have all the things you need to have a great day afield.

*And we'll announce that here or via our email newsletter.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spring Fishing Bonanza!

Bay And Ocean Report
Surf striper action has begun with a bang, as several large schools of big stripers are working their way up the coast starting in Monterey where surf casters report hot action during the low light hours on big surface poppers like the 7" Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper in white with a red head, or 8" Chesapeak Bay Custom Poppers in pink bait fish and black back bait fish. When the sun is out, it's time to break out the iron - 3 to 4oz Kastmasters, Micky Jigs, and Sumo . These fish are on the move too, as reports are beginning to come in to Pacifica and Ocean Beach as well. Also several surf casters are reporting to their amazement that white sea bass are appaerently schooling up with the bass or at least near them and several have been landed.

Striper fishing in the bay has been a different story, with reports of sporadic "hit or miss" fishing from Sausalito to Buck's Landing, but Red Rock has been a bright spot fishing well on the north and south side depending on the tide. Hair raisers, Swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, and Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in Auorora Black or American Shad.

Live bait is still unavailable, but trollers are doing very well for Halibut along South Hampton Shoal, Berkley Flats, Outer Richmond Harbor and off Paradise Park. Best bets are either herring behind a dodger, or herring in a rotary salmon killer rigged to a rotary flasher. If you want to catch jacksmelt on a sabiki rig, or buy shiners, you can drift the Marin Islands and the main bay the same way you drift anchoveys. Another method is the "power drift" (moving the boat just fast enough to make your line enter the water diagonaly) with a hootchie rig over frozen anchoveys or plastic worm tails.

Freshwater Report
One month since the state ban on stocking trout in Bon Tempe was lifted, the lake has been stocked twice and anglers are reporting limits on Power Bait, 1/4oz Kastmasters , and 1/4oz Panther Martin spinners. Bon tempe has yet to produce a big trout eating bass for the guys who throw big trout swimbaits like the Storm BBZ-1 or Hud, but now that the trout are back it's only a matter of time.

Stafford Lake is producing bass in the 3/4 to 2lb range on Senkos, drop-shotted worms, and down sized spinnerbaits, but some of the regulars are getting better quality fish with frogs, flipping jigs, swim jiga, big cranks, big c-rigs and swim baits.

Look for an improving bite on early morning top water as well as an improving bite on windy afternoon spinnerbait, and swim jig fishing aswell.

Kent Lake is still fishing great and the top baits are 6" Senkos, Football head jigs, and Swim jigs. Look for an improving early morning bite on big walking baits and wake baits.

Lake Berryessa is still a play ground for guys who want numbers of bass and a shot for a big one on top. Best baits are the drop shott, the football head jig, the Zara Super Spook, and the 6" Hud.

Last but not least, a quick congratulations for Jeffrey Russel who won a very stingy derby at the Marin County Bass Club Tournament held at Stafford Lake last month. And also to Chris "Flipper" Franks for sticking a monster bass on Lake Berryessa during his last tourney there.

FREE Topwater Techniques and Jig Fishing Clinics -
June 17th and 18th

If you want to reliably catch largemouth bass, you need to be on top of your techniques. It's surprising to meet so many anglers who have great results when their main (or only) technique is producing, but suddenly start catching zip when conditions and seasons change. Of course, one of the things I love to do is share these other ways of fishing with anglers who want to learn. My goal is to have you catching quality fish year round.

Two of the most needed skills you need right now are Effectively Fishing Topwater Baits and Jig Fishing.

On Wednesday, June 17th I will be giving a free Topwater clinic at the Western Sport Shop in San Rafael. The clinic will start at 6:30 and go about an hour.
(Map to location shown below)

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On Thusday June 18th I will be giving a free clinic on jig fishing at Santa Rosa store starting at 6:00pm .
(Map to location shown below)

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Both clinics are free and open to the public. Please try to attend one or the other and your results will benefit!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rickey's Recommended Hot Spots

Another Friday and a ton of options. Hopefully, you've got your gear primed up, packed up and ready to roll for another weekend of angling!

Been hearing good things up in the Tahoe region, particularly improving conditions on the Truckee. But, not quite enough to provide definite destinations. If you are in that region, consider some recon loops above Boca, as flows are still a little high below that. Drifting smaller nymphs in the AM would be a good way to scare up some fish.

The Pit has continued to be excellent, in #3, 4 and 5. PMD's in almost any flavor you can find seem to be producing fish, and tungsten beadhead attractor patterns will certainly produce as well.

But, my pick this weekend is the McCloud. As temps stabilize, the best bets will be stones and PMD's.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick Picks for the Big Weekend

It's a great time to get out and wet a line - customers and guides have been
relying upon the Blue Winged Olive (BWO), Baetis and Caddis pupa emergers. Water conditions continue to look good at most of the destinations like Hat Creek.

Speaking of Hat Creek, if that's your destination, the salmon flies are coming off like helicopters, so stock up on this key pattern. Use some Pale Morning Dunns around the flats, and pay attention to lighting changes - if it clouds up a bit in the morning, we've had folks doing well with BWO's.

If I could get away this weekend (gotta work sometimes!) I'd head for the Pit, probably 3 & 4, start fishing with PMD's and BWO's on Saturday. Then I'd spend the night at Deer Creek Campground, get up and fish Pit #5 and 6 on Sunday. Monday would be all day on the Feather River, before heading home on Tuesday.

So, someone's got to do that for me and at least bring in some good photos of the great fishing! Enjoy!

Bizzy, Bizzy, Bizzy!

Wow! A little nice weather combined with a big holiday weekend, and everyone is running every which way getting folks set up for spring fishing and enjoying the outdoors! I'm taking a quick lunch to just make sure that you get the word on a couple of topics -

- Fishing is heating up!
Given the winds we've been seeing recently, it's just as well that ocean salmon fishing has been put on hold this year. I think we've all avoided "those trips" where you motor out the Gate, feel those swells start lifting the boat and then get hit with the wind chop that means either a messy day on the water or time to turn the boat around.

The smart die-hard ocean anglers have had a chance to relearn what a diverse and vibrant fishery they have right inside the SF Bay and Delta. Between striper, sturgeon and halibut, there are all kinds of fish to be found. And, you can usually locate a good spot that isn't overrun by other boats. Joe and Richard in our San Rafael store get the up-to-the-minute reports, so drop by to get set up right for this weekend.

The Marin Watershed lakes have been doing well. The warmer weather has brought the panfish to life a bit, and as you can tell from Joe's recent report, if you aren't hooking bass, you aren't trying. The trout experts have been quietly getting good results as well, working the edges of weed growth and dropoffs with Panther Martin lures and Powerbait.

Up in Santa Rosa, last weekend was the Rohnert Park Kids' Fishing Derby, which brought out almost 350 young anglers. Huge thanks to Debbie, Rickey and Tom who volunteered to spend the day setting up the enthusiastic anglers and untangling the odd bird's nest or two. One of the hot tickets turned out to be the new Berkeley Power Trout Worms - it kept producing fish after the bite turned off.

Lake Sonoma should be just about perfect this weekend, and we're still hoping to see a nice slug of shad moving up into the Russian River.

- Hunting Licenses
The 2009/2010 California Hunting Licenses and Deer Tag Applications are available in both stores. If you are going to be applying for premium deer, elk, antelope or bighorn sheep tags, those applications must be received by 5 p.m. June 2 at the California Department of Fish and Game License and Revenue Branch in Sacramento. Drawing results will be available June 24.

To purchase licenses, you must bring in a prior year's license or proof of Hunter Safety Course completion.

Copies of the DFG's California Hunting Digest Big Game Book are available, though they tend to go fast.

More information is available via the DFG website -

- Browning Safes Have Arrived
We had a truckload of safes dropped off at our San Rafael store a week ago. These fireproof safes are one of the best ways to secure firearms and other valuables during those times when you might be gone on vacation. Since they always sell faster than Browning can make them for us, we've had a few requests to mention it here when they arrive.

- Ammunition Still Problematic
Quality centerfire ammo has been arriving steadily, but we are still receiving it one load at a time - as I mentioned earlier, the best thing is to make sure that you get your name and phone number on file at the Western Sport Shop location near you. The first few shipments that arrived were completely sold by the time we finished going through the people on file.

You can call the store directly or just speak with anyone in the hunting department the next time you are in the stores.

- Fishing and Fly Rod Sale
Although the response has been significant, we still have a few of "last year's" models of conventional and fly rods priced at up to 50% off the original price. These deals are only available in our stores, and are limited to stock on hand. Also, while you are poking around the rod racks, make sure to graze through the sale tables - there's a bunch of stuff we found during audits, cleanups and organization - all priced ridiculously low.

So - head into the shops, get set up, then go enjoy this great long weekend!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Recent Reports

Just a quick report to wrap up the fishing for the past week.

Sturgeon fishing and largemouth bass fishing are top draws right now.
Looks like sturgeon fishing has blown wide open in upper San Pablo Bay, with reports of oversize fish and keepers being caught on ghost shrimp in in and around places like Round Mountain, Black Point and the mouths of both Sonoma Creek and Petaluma Creek. Also, there are reports of fish in the 60-70lb range being caught off China Camp, and Paradise cove. This may begin to taper now that the tides are leveling a bit. (And to get a good idea of tidal ranges in the Bay and ocean, we rely on the Tidelog, which shows an excellent graphic representation of tides, plus gives a good place for notes, etc.)

Bass fishing is still hot with combinations of pre-spawn, post-spawn and spawning fish swarming the shallows in places like Kent Lake, Phoenix lake, Alpine lake and Bon Tempe. Best bets are 3/8 oz flipping jigs in white or yellow jacket with either White Trixie or Green Pumpkin Chigger Craws for those bedding fish, and small swimbaits in bluegill patterns, drop shots, and Senkos for the post-spawners.

Also, look for the topwater bite to blow wide open any day now so long as the weather stays warm and warming. Best bets wil be Zara Spooks, Swayback Spooks and Super Spooks, and Lucky Craft Gunfish in Ghost minnow or other translucent natural bait colors and wake baits like the bbz-1 floater or any shallow running cranks fished just under the surface.

I want to take a moment to congratulate Andy Mercado and Chris Lapointe for their victory at the Marin County Bass Club derby hosted on Lake Alpine. And I would also like to congratulate Jigmonster pro staffer Chris "Flipper" Franks and his partner Aaron Anfinson who won the semi-pro side of the Anglers' Choice Pro Team Series on Lake Berryessa. That would be enough for most anglers, but they also second on the pro side, beating a field of big name talent - missing first place by less than one tenth of a pound! These stellar results were a direct result of them putting on a clinic with the Jigmonster Savage Swim Jig (arriving this week at the shop!) Good job guys.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Marin Lakes - State to Resume Stocking

Yep! It's official! The state Department of Fish and Game has been persuaded to resume the trout stocking program at Lagunitas and Bon Tempe Lakes in the Marin Watershed.

According to an article in the MarinIJ, State Assemblyman Jared Huffman said that it's possible a rainbow trout plant could be made "in a matter of weeks". Full article here.

We wanted to thank every customer who took the time to sign the petitions which Milt Hain had brought to the stores. Although the article states that more than 800 signatures were obtained, our count had it closing in on 1,200. Good job folks!

I also wanted to remind folks that we are back on standard hours now, so both stores are open 7 days a week. For San Rafael customers, the upper deck of the parking structure next to the shop is now reopened, so parking should be much easier now. Thank you for your patience while the City of San Rafael figured out how to deal with this issue.

Wow. Seems like all I'm doing today is citing news articles.

Here's some quick advice for the weekend - get out and enjoy! According to Joe in San Rafael, the halibut bite has been continuing strongly, while the smallmouth bass are returning to the shallows with quite an appetite.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fishing Update

Well, we're about two months into the spring bass bite, and even though things like cold fronts, emerging plant growth, and fishing pressure require us to shift tactics, The bite is still hot.

Look for bass to become more and more skittish due to how close they are to actually spawning. The key to targeting these fish is to use lite line (6-8lb test) and throw small plastics like finesse worms, tubes, beavers, lizards and Senkos either weightless, near weightless, or on a drop shot rig.

Now is the time you need to stalk the bank (and beds) like a hunter keeping both your shadow aswell as your thud thud thud foot steps from the bass' awareness.

If that sounds like Fishing Ninja - Part 5: The Stalking or if you want to leave the fish alone when they are spawning, just remember that these fish spawn in waves based loosely around the full moons of march, april, and may. This time of the year offers you the choice of prespawn, spawn, and post spawn fishing

On another note the first waves of post spawn smallmouth bass are entering their regular summer feeding routines so they can be targeted at both Bon Tempe and lake Alpine using reaction baits like SpeedTraps, Lucky Craft Pointers, and topwater Hula Poppers or Chuggers

For those of you who are ready for a change of pace the striper bite is heating up like I have not seen in quite a while with baits like Rat-L-Traps, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, Swimbaits (new Storm Swimbaits have finally arrived!), and Hair Raisers (leadhead bucktail dressed jigs).

With willing stripers spread from Richardson Bay to Elephant rock, and more at Paradise Park, Mcnear's Pier China Camp and behind Home Depot just to name a few. You can even get some top water fishing on Zara Spooks and Pencil Poppers (if you have a healthy heart) at dusk and dawn in places like Corte Madera Creek and Mcnear's beach

Oh, and before I forget , yes they are getting limits of legal size halibut trolling San Pablo bay with traditional salmon trolling gear with a few small modifications ie speed, weight etc. It's just a quick bit of re-rigging, and we'd be happy to run you through it down at the shop.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Notes & Reminders

Happy Monday!
Just wanted to remind everyone that beginning today, Monday April 13th, both stores are now back on Summer Hours. We will be open 7 days a week - Monday - Thursday 10-6, Friday & Saturday 9-6 and Sundays 10-4!

Simms Waders & Boot Bargains
As mentioned earlier, we've begun receiving the new Simms waders and boots for 2009. This means we've got odds & ends of previous models available at a hot price - savings up to 50% off of the original retail price. These are strictly limited to stock on hand, so head down to the shops now for the best selection!

Ammunition Issues
By now, you may have noticed that most ammunition availability has been spotty at best. We've been warning folks that it has been increasingly difficult to obtain certain loads on a regular basis - we are having to commit to orders with estimated delivery 2-3 months out in some cases. Since we started doing this 4-5 months ago, we've been able to stay a bit ahead of the curve. However, the earlier lead times have been getting a bit longer in some cases. So, if there is a certain load you will be needing, our advice is not to wait until the last minute. If we do not have it in stock, we are taking contact info and can call when it arrives.

Sage Rods
We've begun receiving some of the newer Sage fly rod models - the phenomenal TCX and the more value-priced FLIGHT series (which updates the FLi series). The TCX replaced the powerful TCR series and honestly, it shows how far along Sage's design and materials use has come in the past six or so years. Where the TCR was a great casting rod for those with the specific techniques to use it, the Sage TCX brings that efficiency and power into a much more "fishable" rod.

More later this week - don't forget about taxes, then GO FISHING!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fly Fishing For Shad Clinic - May 9th

This clinic always fills fast, so don't delay!

On the Water Clinic - Shad Fishing
Saturday, May 9th 2009

The anadromous American Shad is a fly fisher's dream. When hooked, shad's aerial displays are reminiscent of a tarpon or steelhead's flight. The shad runs as powerfully as a salmon, and shows a tremendous amount of endurance. Shad hit flies with reckless abandon and attack with such shuddering strikes that you may find them arm-numbing. This day-long clinic will give you the tools you need to effectively pursue and catch this most challenging and exciting of gamefish on a fly rod.

What Is Covered in this Clinic:
Wading Techniques
Fly Selection
Reading the Water for Best Results
Casting & Fishing Shooting Heads
Presentation Techniques for Shad (which work well for steelhead too!)
*Plus - Russian River Hot Spots

General Information & Fees:
Clinic Meets at the Santa Rosa Western Sport Shop - 2790 Santa Rosa Ave.
Limited to 8 attendees.
Reservations required.

Clinic Fees: $125/person

Please note: This clinic requires wading to be most effective. Attendees should have mastered basic casting techniques & be familiar with basic fly fishing equipment. For more information, please contact Carlo Bongio at the Santa Rosa store (707) 542-4432

For more information a flyer for this clinic is avalable here -

Alan Tani Reel Repair Seminar - Saturday April 11th

When do you want to service your fishing reel? Well, before it starts growing green fur like this one did...

We were extremely lucky to have fishing reel tuning & repair expert Alan Tani in our San Rafael store for another of his free "Hands-On Reel Repair Clinics".

This is for all the anglers who want to learn some basic maintanence techniques and don't mind getting down dirty.

All you need some reels in need of cleaning (Conventional only - sorry - spinning reels are not invited!) and a willingness to learn.

Alan will be on hand to walk you through the steps of breaking down your reel, analyzing the things which need to be fixed, and getting everything back together (hopefully with no parts left over!) and running smoother than you can remember!

Please note - this class is limited in size, and attendees may be asked to limit the number of reels they work on to allow others the opportunity to learn. So, mark your calender for Saturday, April 11th at the San Rafael store - work starts at 10 am and we'll kick you all out at 4:00 sharp!