Friday, April 29, 2011

2011/2012 Hunting Licenses Available

Just a quick update - if you are going to be putting in for draws in this year's hunting season, we are now able to issue Deer Tag draw applications and tags for the upcoming season.

The new automated license system is a little different than in years past, so please take a moment to make sure you have what you need, so we can help you more efficiently.

If you have already purchased a fishing license this year, bring that with you - the bar code on that document can be quickly scanned to bring up your information in the California Department of Fish & Game database. We can also scan your driver's license.

You will need evidence of Hunter's Safety - that means a prior year's hunting license or a copy of your Hunter's Safety card (from California or another state). Please note - Declarations are no longer accepted for evidence of Hunter's Safety. If you cannot produce either of these documents, then you must retake the Hunter's Safety course. Information on scheduled Hunter's Safety courses can be found here.

If you are purchasing an application for a deer zone hunt* or a deer tag, you will need to provide the zone choices. That means we cannot issue tags or applications without zone information. Maps are viewable here or at the store.

The good news is that we are now able to issue tags for the "guaranteed" zones - like A-zone - over the counter. It is no longer necessary to purchase the application, then send it to the DFG for processing.

The other change this year is that state duck stamps and upload bird stamps are now available at the same time - we have not yet received the Federal Duck Stamps, which are a different program - and of course, if you are hunting waterfowl, you will need to answer the survey questions at the time we sell you the license.

So, to recap:
1 - ID card/Driver's License
2 - Evidence of Hunter's Safety
3 - Determine your zone choice

See you down at the shop!

*You can put in for draw zones in groups as large as six hunters. You no longer have to put in all applications together - the first person in a "Party" is assigned a group number, and each additional hunter just needs to know the group number to be included. There is no need to come into the store at the same time, and you can actually join the same group from different license sales locations.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Abalone Season Cranks Up

Abalone Season Opened April 1

California Department of Fish and Game News Release

Jerry Kashiwada, DFG Marine Region, (707) 964-5791
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

New Report Cards Available through Automated License Data System

California's popular red abalone season opened April 1 in waters north of
San Francisco Bay. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds divers and
rock pickers that anyone taking abalone must record their catch on an
abalone report card, and tag the animal with corresponding tags from the

This year, all licenses and cards will be available through the new
Automated License Data System (ALDS), which automatically records purchases
in an active database.

"Abalone report cards are a vital source of information needed to manage
this resource, and the ALDS will allow us to track whether individuals have
returned their report cards as required by law," said DFG Associate Marine
Biologist Jerry Kashiwada. "In the past, we could not easily determine who
had not returned their cards."

Abalone report cards should be returned to the DFG Fort Bragg office at
32330 North Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554. Cards must be returned
by January 31 of the following year, although cards may be submitted early.
Abalone report cards must be returned even if no abalone is taken.

Because of the nature of the paper used for the ALDS abalone report card and
tags, scissors are needed to separate the tags from the card just prior to
attaching them to an abalone. In the past, scissors were not needed to
separate the pre-perforated tags.

Tags that are separated from the cards ahead of time are invalid. Holes may
be punched in the tags immediately after purchase, however. Other slight
modifications to the tagging procedure may be needed with the ALDS report

The Fish and Game Commission is currently considering proposals for marine
protected areas (MPAs) along the north coast, from Point Arena in Mendocino
County to the Oregon border. The north coast MPA process will not affect the
2011 abalone season. To find out more about the MPAs currently under
consideration, please visit

Currently, the only open abalone fishery in California is in the northern
region of the state. This fishery is biologically sustainable and has
remained productive for nearly 60 years. In 2009, the most recent year for
which figures are available, the recreational catch in northern California
was an estimated 295,000 abalone.

Everyone engaging in the take of abalone is responsible for knowing and
abiding by all California abalone sport fishing regulations. A complete list
of abalone fishing regulations is also available in the 2011 Ocean Sport
Fishing regulations booklet, available wherever fishing licenses are sold,
at DFG offices and online at


Western Sport Shop note:
Just to put a finer point on it - ALL of the new licenses and tags are generated using the new Automated License Data System (ALDS). That means that the Tyvek-type paper used on your fishing license is the same as that used on the Abalone (or Sturgeon, Salmon and Steelhead) report card will not tear. So - since you need to tag your abalone directly, you will need to have some method for cutting the tag and punching a hole into it. (And this license material is tough!)

We've been setting up anglers and ab divers with a small, sharp set of scissors, and have been working hard to keep in stock on the small, waterproof containers which can hold it all. If you take a few minutes to set up the proper type of kit, you won't waste fishing or diving time trying to find a buddy who has sharp scissors or a hole punch!

As a reminder - we have been selected as one of the ALDS centers in the Bay Area, are actively selling the new California Fishing Licenses, and should be able to answer most of your questions regarding licensing. 2011/2012 Hunting Licenses are NOT currently available, but we recommend that you bring your current Hunting License down now if you will be purchasing a hunting license - this will let us input your Hunter Safety Evidence (your current or previous year license, or your actual Hunter Safety Course Card) when we sell you a fishing license. That will speed things up when the deer tags and new hunting licenses are available in a few months.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Carlo Bongio Shad Clinic - May 14th

Do you want to learn the tricks and techniques to catch scads of shad? Then make sure you sign up for Carlo's Shad Clinic on Saturday, May 14th!

"On the Water" Shad Clinic
SATURDAY, May 14th, 2011

The anadromous American Shad is a fly fisher¹s 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.

Clinic Meets in Santa Rosa, Directions supplied upon payment.
Reservations required.
Clinic Fees: $125/person

This clinic requires wading to be most effective. Waders and appropriate
wading equipment is the responsibility of the student. Attendees should
have mastered basic casting techniques & be familiar with basic fly fishing
equipment. For more information, please contact Carlo Bongio the shop (415)

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"

Recommended Equipment for the Clinic
Required: Valid California Fishing License (available at stores)

8 weight fly rod with fighting butt.
(6 or 7 weight rod acceptable).
Disk-drag reel set up with a shooting head system.
(enough capacity for approximately
150-200 yards of backing,
plus 200' running line & 30' head)
20-30# Backing
Running line
Shooting heads with a sink rate of 2, 3 and 4.

Shad Flies in sizes 6 & 8 (chartruese, red, orange are most popular)

7' tapered leaders in 2x - 3x tippet size

Waders (unless you want to "wet wade")
Wading staff
Polarized sunglasses
Food, drinks & necessary snacks

If you have any questions, contact Carlo Bongio at the shop (415) 456-5454.

Salmon Season UPDATE - 3 mile "no fish" zone

Before you roll out with fleet tomorrow, I wanted to clarify one thing: before you drop your lines in the water, you need to be 3 miles offshore.

This is because the season has been opened at the Federal level, but the State Committee has not met to agree to implement the season. (That meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 4th.)

This won't be a particularly big deal, as the salmon schools and bait are typically further offshore this time of year, but just in case you were thinking about swinging through close to Muir Beach or any other potential spot closer than 3 miles to shore, you cannot legally fish there.

Please feel free to ask any questions when you come by the shop - the tray bait is in and we are also receiving some newer 2.5 and 3 balls, which have a quality coating to prevent rust and provide a less expensive option than standard lead.

See ya on the ocean!