Friday, March 27, 2009

Know the Rules - Part Deux!

This appeared in the "DFG Q&A" email I get every week. Since it's actually one of the more common questions we get in the store and on the phone, I thought I'd reprint it here:

We do a lot of ocean fishing and spear fishing and we have a question: Does an angler or spear fisher have to stop fishing once they reach their bag limit even if they are with another licensed angler or spear fisher without their limit? For example, if I am on my boat rock fishing with a friend and I catch my limit but my licensed friend is having a slow day, can I legally gift him some of my limit and continue fishing? The same with spear fishing. I know in years past I have been on boats where fishing was not stopped until the boat had limits for everyone fishing. This seems like a gray area to me and I just want to make sure I am following legal and ethical methods while diving and fishing. Thank you. (Charlie C.)

You can help your friends who are having a slow fishing day only if you are fishing from a boat on the ocean. Boat limits are allowed only for ocean anglers fishing for finfish while aboard a boat. This does not apply for divers or for people fishing for invertebrates (e.g. lobsters and crab). Boat limits mean that all licensed anglers (and anglers under 16) may keep fishing until enough fish have been caught to fill all the anglers collective bag limits. It doesn't matter who caught the fish as long as nobody is over-limit when they depart the boat. This provision is allowed only in this situation for saltwater anglers fishing with hook and line. It does not extend to divers or to shore fishermen or to people fishing in inland waters (FGC Section 27.60[c]).


Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Her DFG-related question and answer column appears weekly at . While she cannot personally answer everyones questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at .


Know the Rules!

The 2009-2010 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet is now available
online at and in
hardcopy format at your local CDFG office or at both of the Western Sport Shop locations.

Another new brochure, “A Guide to Central California Beach Fishing”
is now available as well. The brochures provide tips such as best times to fish,
suggested gear, and fish identification illustrations for some of the
most popular fish caught along California’s sandy beaches to the south of us.

The brochures are currently available online at and in hardcopy format on a
limited basis from the CDFG (e-mail for
information) and California Sea Grant (see for information).

A new brochure, “Stop the Spread of Dwarf Eelgrass” describes a
non-native marine plant that is destroying essential coastal habitat
used by a variety of native animals and plants. The brochure helps
people identify the invasive species and provides contact information
for reporting suspected sightings.

The brochure is currently available in hardcopy format on a limited
basis from the link above, and is available online at The dwarf
eelgrass Web site also includes an electronic report form for suspected
sightings of dwarf eelgrass and other invasive species.

Abalone Season Opens April 1st


Contact: Carrie Wilson, Office of Communications, (831) 649-7191

Jerry Kashiwada, Marine Region, (707) 964-5791

Abalone fishing season opens April 1 north of San Francisco Bay

California’s popular red abalone sport fishery season will open April
1 in waters north of San Francisco Bay. Anyone who takes abalone must
record their catch on an abalone report card and tag the animal with
tags corresponding to the report card.

“Abalone report cards have greatly increased the consistency of our
annual take estimates and are a vital source of information needed to
manage this resource,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
Associate Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada. “The tags help address the
issue of people neglecting to fill out their cards and exceeding annual
limits. DFG game wardens are reporting improved compliance with abalone
report card requirements.”

The Fish and Game Commission (Commission) is currently considering
adoption of marine protected areas (MPAs) proposed along the north
central coast region (from Alder Creek/Point Arena to Pigeon Point). The
proposals consider discrete areas that may restrict the take of abalone,
but do not close the entire region to abalone harvest, and would not
affect the 2009 abalone season. To find out more about specific MPA
proposals and the location of proposed MPAs under consideration, please

Everyone engaging in the take of abalone is responsible for knowing and
abiding by all California Marine Sport Fishing Regulations pertaining to
abalone. DFG produced a short video that demonstrates the required
tagging procedures. To view this video online, please visit

A complete list of abalone fishing regulations is also available in the
2009 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, which is available
wherever fishing licenses are sold or at

Abalone cling to rocks, from wave-swept intertidal ledges to deep ocean
reefs where they feed on kelp and other algae. It can take 12 years or
more for abalone on the north coast to grow to legal size for harvest
and those animals must supply the fishery for several years to come.
Similar to rockfish, they are a long-lived species but have low rates of

Currently, the only sustainable abalone fishery in California is in the
northern region of the state, which has remained productive for nearly
60 years. In 2007, the last year numbers are available, the estimated
catch was 309,000, a considerable increase from the previous high of

Abalone report cards must be returned to DFG within 60 days of the
close of the season (due Jan. 31, 2010). Report cards should be mailed
to DFG’s Fort Bragg field office and laboratory, 19160 South Harbor
Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5798. The cards can be submitted early.
Regulations also require that abalone report cards be returned even if
no abalone were taken.

Rivers Update and Class Info

Steelhead season on the Coastal rivers is winding down. However, this past week saw several fresh run steelhead caught on the Russian River.

Steelhead season ends on March 31st. The Russian River is still open to angling, but you cannot harvest a steelhead - even a hatchery fish - after that date.

Look for the middle of April to bring with it the first runs of Shad in the Russian. This hard-running fish is a kick to catch and release. Recent rains have helped to put some good water flow into the river system, and make it a much more exciting spring.

Flyfishing 101 - Space Available in 4/18 Session
If you are looking to learn how to fly cast, or just tune up and shake off the winter of inacivity, give a call to the Santa Rosa store and sign up for my next Flyfishing 101 Course, which will take place on Saturday, April 18th. This is a great way to get ready for serious spring fishing, or to finally learn what all the excitment is about with fly fishing. Class size is limited, and you we can supply equipment if necessary.

Bass and panfish should be in full swing by this time. As the weather warms up, these fish are hungry and moving into the shallower waters, making them perfect for fly fishing.

Go through your tackle and gear, get ready for spring!

- Carlo

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stop Wishing - GO Fishing!

"and then it was on!..."

Spring rolls in with a bang!! Almost out of nowhere, everyone is getting hammered with fishing options -- take your pick, but make a choice and GO! It is good. Now.

Striped bass are ripping up bait and artificials like cut anchovey or jigs, rip baits like the Rapalas, Rat-L-traps and soft-bodied Storm and Calcutta swimbaits, at places like China Camp, in the San Rafael area around Home Depot, and further north near Bahia and the Petaluma river just to name a few. It may be early to tell, and it could shut off just as quickly, but folks are catching them similar to the wholesale SLAMMING we were seeing four years ago.

Almost right on schedule, anglers have been nailing the start of the spring halibut in the South Bay and up in San Pablo Bay. Best options have been trolling plugs, jigs, swimbaits, and frozen anchovies, or by drifting live shiners or jack smelt on soft tides. The success hasn't been limited to the boaters either - bank fishing has produced as well with success using with striper lures like Rat-L-Traps, jigs, and swimbaits. These are not huge fish yet, but sticking a limit of keeper size halibut is not uncommon.

Sturgeon to 75" are nailing shrimp and herring from Paradise to Buck's Landing and in the South Bay from Coyote Pt to the Oakland airport.

Whew! let me catch my breath. Ok, thanks!

Trout fishing
Kent Lake and Alpine Lake have continued to kick out monster Rainbow Trout on spinners and live bait. Even Bon Tempe is has been producing with reports of holdovers to 20" and great smallmouth action with best bets being Powerbait and live nightcrawlers.

For those who want to relax and fish for planter trout San Pablo reservoir is kicking out huge brood stock trout up to 12lbs or more on Powerbait fished from the bank. Lafayette reservoir seems to have been given all the planters that were banned elswhere because that lake is brimming with 2-3lb trout and everyone is getting them. The trollers, the bankies... anyone and everyone who can manage to get a hook or lure in the water!

Carp and Panfish
Euro-style carp fishing is off the hook as well with Nicasio reservoir and Clearlake leading the charge. Both areas have been kicking out fish from 5-25 lbs for anglers using corn, meal worms and boilies.

For the more sophisticated approach - fly fishermen interested in stalking these "golden bonefish", Nicasio offers plenty of shots at schools of tailing fish. Nope. I'm serious! We've had a number of excited fly anglers who have rushed back to the store to stock back up on black or olive bead-headed wooly buggers after snapping off some larger fish. We've also seen some home made "bread flys" and attractive white panfish poppers.

Take the KIDS!! If you want to get these little versions of yourselves out and on fish before their micro- attention span falters........what was I saying? oh right... Your kids can have a field day at Phoenix Lake - where after a long winter, the bluegills have moved up and will readily attack a red worm under a bobber for all to see.

Bass Report - Wow, I've never made it this far without talking about bass fishing... But, I can stand it no longer.

Right now, Alpine, Nicasio, and Kent Lakes in Marin County will offer you the best shot of the year to stick a new personal best. Best bets are jigs in darker craw colors, 5-6" Senko plastic worms (watermelon with black flake or green pumpkin with black flake), Chatterbaits like the Boogie Bait in chartreuse, chartreuse white, or natural colors, and the drop-shotted Roboworm in purple or green.

You can find males in the shallows and flats killing everything that moves and the bigger females in the deeper areas closest to males. Swim jigs, spinnerbaits and swimbaits slow-rolled through these staging areas will draw strikes, but if you want a tougher challenge that will produce bigger fish, know that these larger bass will be using wood cover as well. So if you find a flat covered in males look for the nearest tree in deeper water.

Big Congrats to Andy Mercado for winning the first Marin Bass Club derby at Phoenix Lake with 5lb 7oz bass, and to Ryan Gilliflan for "best set" with four good fish from 2-3.5 lbs. I will be posting the date of our next derby shortly and it will be at Lake Alpine.

See ya at the shop!

Getting Ready for This Saturday's Turkey Opener

Finished all of my "honey-do's" and still had two hours left of my day off. So, off to the ranch to pattern my new Beretta AL391 12 ga shotgun for the final time before the wild turkey spring season opened this Saturday, March 28th.

Started at 25 yds. I'm using the Winchester Dbl X Mag turkey loads this season - they are a 12 gauge load that give 1125 fps with 2 oz #5 shot

# 1) 25 yds resulted in 165 pellets in the red zone with 147 outside of the zone. All pellets were in a 16" circle.
# 2) 30 yds. produced 84 pellets in the red zone with 187 pellets still in a 16" circle. Remaining 37 pellets were still in a 30" circle.

If you missed one of our four clinics over the last month, we'll be happy to help with any quick questions you have before you head out. Make sure you are completely camo'd up, can position yourself comfortably in an appropriate area and know your distances.

As always - Let's be Safe! Don't forget the bug spray. Remember 4:00 Pm is the latest shoot time in CA. Take a buddy or a youth on your hunt. Best of luck!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Joe's Bass Report - Cold Front Tactics

Nicasio Reservoir got pretty darn tough with this post frontal, cold windy weather we are having. But, some anglers got them anyways, by adjusting and targeting areas of rip/rap that are both out of the wind and in receive direct sunshine. The best examples of this are almost always on stretches of road where there is water on both sides.

When the wind blasts any stretch of rip/rap directly the windy side gets blown out, and the protected side develops a windless pocket about as wide as the height of the rip/rap. This lack of wind keeps the water on the lee side much clearer and calmer than on the windy side. This in turn allows for deeper penetration of sunlight and the warmth that comes with it.

As an added bonus, rip/rap rock structure holds warmth very well and is a natural fish magnet especialy in the winter when the big females need to incubate their eggs.

Since the cold winds only chill the water on the surface, and the wind blows the colder water away from the rip/rap, it makes these areas even better, from the fish's perspective.

(Compare this to the windy side which becomes an accumulation point for the cold surface water as it's blown into the rip/rap and trapped.)

Many bass anglers assume that the best baits (due to the poor conditions) are either soft plastics, senkos, or other small finesse baits. Although these baits can work, fishing long stretches of rip rap is almost impossible to do efficiently with finesse-type baits. Since many of the biggest females who move into these warmer areas are not in actively feeding mode, my choice is to use reaction baits - Speed Traps and Chatterbaits like the Boogie Bait to be specific.

Marin County Bass Club - Jig Fishing Demo
Reminder! Tomorrow night is the meeting of the Marin County Bass Club at the San Rafael store. I will be giving an in-depth seminar on jig fishing starting at 7:30pm and lasting till about 8:30 I will cover everything you ever wanted to know about jigs. The talk is free and open to the public, so come on down and learn some serious skills!

Talking Turkey One More Time!

Last weekend was another great clinic for Spring Turkey Hunters! Turkeys -- watch out... Season Opens on March 28th!

Curt Wilson from Zink's Calls gave an "All Star" clinic covering the behavior of the Boss Tom, with special attention on how he keeps an eye on the hens.

A good group of hunters in the clinic had good questions and gave great feedback. Thanks again Curt! - We all have learned a lot in each of the seminars, but no one has had the detail about these stages. (And if you want to hear the short version, drop by the San Rafael store and speak with me - I'll be happy to give you more details.)

We first brought in the Zink calls back during duck season, and we'd heard very good things about their turkey slates and diaphragm calls. We had a chance to demo a number of them, and they have grown to be one of our favorite calls - as an added bonus, the slates come with the Zink Turkey Hunting DVD!

Next and final preseason clinic for the 2009 Turkey Season is at our Santa Rosa store on March 14. Tory Giorgi of Bass 'N Boars is the guest speaker. He has a great sense of the local areas and gives excellent advice. To reserve a spot, call 707-542-4432 - this is the last prep clinic before the spring turkey hunting season opens!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bass Bite Heats Up

This week the hot bite has been big pre-spawn largemouth. Even with lake levels having risen as many as seven feet in some areas, the water clarity is still good and the fish are still biting.

Lake Nicasio produced over 25 fish between 2 and 6 lbs for one of my regular customers over the course of 4 or 5 days. He reports a couple big ones caught on spinnerbait. But, almost all the rest were caught on a green neon Robo-X Pitching Craw rigged on a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook and red 1/4 oz Brass and Glass setup.

Another local - Kelly Oward - stuck a chunky fish just under 5 lbs on a full size Brush Hog in green pumpkin w/black and purple flake. That bait was also rigged on 1/4oz Brass and Glass, but with a 5/0 EWG hook.

More exciting are reports that Alpine Lake in the Marin Watershed had the start of a great pre-spawn bite earlier this week - joining the ranks of Kent Lake and Nicasio Reservoir as we head into spring. Then, with three verified fish caught in the 9 to 11 lb range, it jumped to the top of the board as a "best bet!" All three of those fish were caught on Booyah Boogie Baits - a "chatterbait" style which has been a lesser known technique to most anglers.

Phoenix Lake also chimed in with a pair of 4 1/2 lbers caught on Chrome Rat-L-Traps and 8 more 1/2 - 1 1/2 pooud fish fooled with wacky rigged 4" Senkos.

Local bass pro and Team Jigmonster tournament angler Chris "Flipper" Franks caught almost 11lbs of smallies for a top-10 finish last weekend at the Lake Berryessa tournament. He had a great time doing it - culling all day and catching over 30 fish on the Jigmonster Chaos series football head jig alone. Flipper says the brown and purple PBJ jig was the hot bait and the only bait they wanted.

Jigmonster Lures in San Rafael -
At the San Rafael store, we've just received our first batch of these custom Jigmonster Chaos series football head jigs, as well as the Jigmonster Mayhem flipping jigs (our Santa Rosa store getting theirs this next week).

Marin County Bass Club Meeting -
On wednesday 03/11/09 at 7:00pm the Marin County Bass Club will be meeting at Western Sport Shop in San Rafael their regular monthly meeting. I will be giving an in-depth seminar on jig fishing starting at 7:30pm and lasting till about 8:30 I will cover everything you ever wanted to know about jigs. The talk is free and open to the public, so head on down and learn some serious skills!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

FREE Fly Tying Clinic - Saturday - Santa Rosa!

Santa Rosa - 707-542-4432
Saturday, March 14 - 10:30 AM
Instructor - Carlo Bongio

Beginning Fly Tying
An introduction to tying your own flies. All materials provided.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring Cleaning in the All Departments

Every day brings us a little closer to the spring seasons - it's always great to see some weeks of rain after such a dry fall and winter. Those fat, wet drops hitting the hills mean prime early season conditions, in addition to banking a bit of much-needed water.

Like the rising levels in the reservoirs, our back room is starting to fill up with the first shipments of spring gear. New reels from Shimano, rod & reel outfits, specialty hooks and lures have all started arriving and we're getting things out onto the floor as quickly as we can.

This means that there are more than a few bargains to be found on the sales floor as we make room for new stuff. The next few weeks is a great time to take advantage of our "Pre-Spring Cleaning!"

Plus, the California State Sales Tax changes on April 1st. We'd rather see you put that extra percentage into flies, lures, line or gear!

All Flies - 30% OFF! This Fly Sale will end soon - right now, there are a ton of great patterns and styles. We're simply overstocked on certain sizes. Now is a great time to stock up on all fly patterns in stock!

Discontinued Fly Rods - Serious discounts on rods with cosmetic changes or model changes for 2009. There are still a number of Sage, Winston, Scott and Redington fly rods which fish fine, but have changed for this year. All rods come with a full factory warranty.

Selected Fly Lines - 30% OFF! Spey and traditional lines with packaging changes or other differences - look for the display in the store.

Spring Cleaning "HALF OFF!" Stuff -- Selected Umpqua leader and tippet, all kinds of various tying materials and selected Tiemco Hook styles at half off.

All items are subject to prior sale. Strictly limited to stock on hand. That sort of stuff. So, don't wait - get on down to the store near you and take advantage of these deals (and more!)

Turkey Seminars - Reserve Your Spot!

Big Thanks go out to Tony Giorgi of BASS' N BOAR Guide Service. Tony gave Saturday's A to Z on Spring Turkey Hunting clinic up at the Santa Rosa store. He covered a wide range of necessary tips and special tricks to a good group of interested customers. We learned a lot as well - it's great to get practical feedback from another person who is as crazy about spring birds as we are.

There is hope for those of you who missed that clinic - Tony will be back at the Santa Rosa store for another A to Z on Spring Turkey Hunting presentation on Saturday March 14 at 10AM.

But, don't volunteer to do all your Saturday chores the week before, because the San Rafael store will be hosting Curt Wilson of Zink calls this Saturday, March 7th at 10 am. Curt is one of the most successful hunters we know, with excellent calling techniques.

There is no charge for either of these seminars, but the way they are starting to fill up, there may not be room for everyone - best to call the store to reserve your spot. (And, hey, it's ok if you want to go to both!)

Get your calls out there's only 27 days left till the opener. Have you patterned your chokes this season. Lots of new ammo out there this year.