Balance of state waterfowl season to open

By: George deVilbiss
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The far, northern reaches of California – Northeastern Zone – opened for waterfowl hunting on October 10, the second Saturday of the month. While some local, truly die-hard waterfowl hunters may have ventured to the northern areas, most are chomping at the bit for closer areas to open to hunting. Well, you won’t have to wait much longer. The Balance of State zone will fully open to waterfowl hunting on Saturday. The good news? It’s a straight season. There is no split in the season and it will run for 100 consecutive days. Bird identification will be somewhat critical, as it has been for a number of years now. The daily bag limit is seven ducks. However, in that limit, you can have a full limit of mallards but there can be no more than two hens, and the bag can contain no more than two pintails, hens or drakes; one canvasback, or two redheads. For other species, such as teal and widgeons, there is no restrictions. Duck and goose shooting dates are simultaneous. There is the restriction on geese, however, in the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area (SVSMA), where the white-fronted goose season will close after the December 14th shoot. Daily bag limit on geese is a liberal eight birds. In that bag, you are allowed six snow geese per day, and this is where it can get tricky. You can also have up to six dark geese – white fronted or Canadians – except in the SVSMA where only two of those dark geese can be the white-fronted geese. Possession limit remains double the daily bag limit. During a recent drive up the I-5 corridor to set up my deer camp, I saw a good many birds in the air around the Sacramento and Delevan Wildlife areas, mostly geese. The shell-burning action on the opening weekend should be good. CURRENT FISHING Now that the wild weather of over a week ago has passed and the weather has stabilized, fishing activity has resumed and the action can be good. Caples Lake: The lake is still being heavily stocked with trout and the catching is downright great. Would be a top bet go-to lake before the snows lock out access. Because the weather has cooled, thereby cooling the water, the trout are now found in the top 15 feet. Hang a crawler or salmon eggs under a bobber and you should do well. If you haul a boat there, troll shallow pulling a dodger or small flasher with a threaded crawler. Folsom Lake: The lake level is still dropping and it probably won’t be long before the five mile-an-hour speed limit will again be imposed. So, if you want to simply blow your boat out and give it some exercise or zip to your favorite spot to target bass, better do it now. The bass fishing is on the slow side, but some are being caught, mostly by those hitting the deeper water. Cranks can have some success, but drop-shotting and darts will produce better. Lake Davis: The lake is down to the 50-percent level but you can easily have a 30 fish day. Most of the larger fish, though, will hit the 16-inch mark. The fish are spooky and this is a time when counter reels are worth their weight in gold. Lures will work, and so will a trolled crawler. However, if your offering, regardless how tempting, is too close to the boat, the fish will spook and you’ll not get bit at all. Drop your line a good 100-150 feet behind the boat to troll. By the time your lure or crawler gets to the fish, they’ve forgotten all about the boat motor that went over ‘em. At nearby Frenchman Lake, where the lake level is now under 40 percent of capacity, the shore fishing is downright great with ‘bows up to 20 inches being taken. Off the Frenchman’s Campground and around the dam are the top producing areas for those soaking a crawler or Power Bait. Lake Camanche: Trout plants are beginning to enhance a fishery that is already worth going for but the best rod-bending action is being found by those using a boat. The trout aren’t yet shallow. Those catching trout are putting out a good seven colors of lead core line or dropping down 25-30 feet off a downrigger. Just about any flashy little lure will work as will a crawler. The area between the South Shore ramp to the narrows has produced well as has the lower region of the lake, from Hat Island to the dam. Don’t think this lake has monster catfish? A recent angler using heavy gear – 35-pound test line with wire leader – outfought a monster catfish, estimated at 35-40 pounds and was estimated at 4½-5 feet long. The angler took pictures of the fish and released it. While this angler was using a boat, he was only in 10-15 feet of water, soaking chicken liver. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at