Getting ready for turkey season

By: George deVilbiss
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The spring turkey hunting season in California has become enormously popular. But, the success rate of turkey hunters can be pretty much like fishing success, where 10 percent of the hunters actually bag 90 percent of the birds.


If you really want to put a wild turkey on the table, then there are a number of things you should be doing right now.


Learn to call properly. Turkey’s have different sounds, so learn just what turkey talk will bring the birds within range. Reading about it just doesn’t cut it. There are a variety of sources that provide CDs where you can hear and learn to perfectly imitate the various sounds.


Have you got all the camouflage you need? These birds are extremely wary and have tremendous eyesight. The slightest discrepancy in the environment appearance and they just won’t come around. You have to be totally covered, literally from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, along with your shotgun.


There is a good alternative to purchasing a ton of camouflage to cover up with, and that’s to purchase a blind. There are a lot of good ones out there and the prices are quite reasonable. You don’t have to sit so totally quiet. You can fidget and still not spook an incoming bird. As an added bonus, if there is rain, you can sit in the blind and stay dry.


Do you have decoys? One is good. Three or four is better. Turkeys are looking for a mating partner in the spring, so at least one hen decoy is an absolute must. Add a couple of young male – jakes – decoys, and you’ve got a prime set up. The adult tom is not one that wants a young male trying to get his “date.”


Turkey’s are a lower elevation bird and, unfortunately, most of that land is private property. There are state hunting areas, as well, most of which require access through a drawing system. Find your place to hunt now and, if possible, start doing some field work to find out where the birds are hanging out.


The spring turkey hunting season will open rain or shine on Saturday, March 27 and will continue through the close of the day, May 2. Bag limit is one per day but you’re allowed three for the entire season. The turkey must have a visible beard, predominant in males but occasionally a hen will sport a beard.



Lake Pardee: In the short time the lake’s been open this season, over 14,000 pounds of trout have already been planted, and the plantings continue weekly. Best shoreline bite has been around Stony Point Landing, Blue Heron Point and behind the boathouse.

Planted trout seem to be bailing out of the Rec Area Cove sooner than normal so trollers are doing well just outside the cove. Most of the fish are within the top 10 feet. Good trolling and drifting is also being found upriver at Columbia Gulch. Holdover rainbows and some brown trout in the four-pound class are being tallied.


Bodega Bay: You’d better like calamari steaks because you’ll get a lot of them to put in the freezer. The big Humboldt squid fishery just isn’t letting up and anglers are tallying big numbers of the big ink squirters. In one trip, 33 anglers tallied 710 squid. Another day, 212 squid for 18 triers. Some of the bigger ones have been hitting the 50-pound mark.


Folsom Lake: With a spate of some tremendously good, springlike weather, boaters were out and those fishing were pretty well rewarded. Some of the trout and salmon are fillet size, meaning they break the 20-inch mark. To keep from spooking the fish, let out no less than 100-150 feet of line. Keep digging into the tackle box and changing lures until you get regularly bit.

Bassing continues to improve as the water levels come up. The bass will move back and forth into the shallows and back to the drop-offs as they feed. Working plastics and drop-shotting are always good bets.

Technically, the five mile an hour speed limit is still in effect at Folsom, but nobody is enforcing it and boaters are putting the hammer down to get to their favor spot quickly. Just keep your eyes well peeled for surface debris, some of which may be waterlogged enough to barely break the water’s surface.


Jenkinson Reservoir: Mackinaw action is best this time of year and those hauling small Rapala’s aren’t being disappointed. Limits can be had hauling the lures above the narrows. The macks aren’t huge, though, but who’s going to complain with a limit of 1-3 pounders. The second dam, for the shore bound, also remains a good bet for small macks and rainbows. Soak salmon eggs, Power Bait or a crawler off a sliding sinker.


American River: Because the opener was two months ago, the opening frenzy has subsided where only the die-hard, true steelheaders remain on the river. Action certainly isn’t red hot but there are definitely some good steelies to be found, with some of the bigger adults hitting the 12-pound mark. Drift roe or a crawler.


Port of Sacramento: Stripers come and stripers go. When they’re in, the fishing can be pretty good. Unless you belong to the boat club on the peninsula, getting a boat on the water is tough, though some people will launch a small boat off the south shore bank. Drifting big minnows, trolling a minnow imitator such as a Rapala, or jigging have all been working. If you are strictly shore bound, hang one of the big minnows under a bobber and get it out beyond the drop-off.  Stripers will still cruise in that range looking for the bait fish in the region.


If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.