Governor signs bill prohibiting use of dogs during bear hunts

Fishing report: Lake Camanche to hold annual trout derby Nov. 3
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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The use of dogs has been a staple for centuries for those hunting bears or bobcats.

The hunter releases the dogs, the dogs pick up the scent of a critter, and the race is on for the hunter trying to keep up with the hounds.

No longer, however.

SB 1221, recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, prohibits the general hunting of bears and bobcats using hounds.

The bill allows the use of hounds for research, to pursue nuisance critters or if a wild animal enters a dog owner’s property.

Up to 1,800 black bears are harvested by hunters each year, less than half of which were tracked by hunters using dogs. The state’s bear population is estimated at about 30,000, up from 10,000 in the 1980s.

The bill was backed by the Humane Society of the United States and opposed by most hunting groups and the state’s Republican lawmakers. Opponents claim signing the bill will end a hunting tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

Interestingly, the governor also signed SB 1249, which allows the Department of Fish and Game to contract with nonprofit conservation groups to manage state-owned lands and charge fees for using more of its properties. Currently, the DFG charges fees at 19 of its 71 properties, which brings in about $2.5 million each year.

Charging visitors to use other areas is expected to raise about another $2.2 million annually. Who will be charged? Birdwatchers, hikers and campers.


Mountain lions are on the move


The thought was that California mountain lions were migrating to Nevada. Recent findings dispute that direction.

The big cats are going in the opposite direction, according to studies. Some lions are migrating from Nevada to California.

One theory is that California’s Sierra range offers a more lush habitat with a greater selection of prey than the arid mountains of Nevada.

California’s mountain lion population is estimated to be 4,000-6,000 while Nevada’s population is estimated at 3,000.


Current fishing


Despite a short cooling trend, daytime temperatures are still too warm to greatly affect fishing. Prognosticators predict an extremely wet winter on the West Coast. Many hunters and anglers hope that’s a reality and that it happens soon. I have a sneaking hunch that when the storm doors open, we’ll just as ardently pray they close. Meanwhile, there’s decent fishing; not as good as it can be but good enough to get a line wet.

Lake Pardee: The lake’s annual closing date is Nov. 4. If you want a low fishing pressure, nearby lake, it’s a place to go. Pardee received a little rain a week ago but not enough to affect the lake level, though it’s in tremendous shape compared to many others. It’s three or four feet below the spill.

However, you might have more fun on the boating outing than you will seeing your rod double over. Fish have been a bit elusive. Kokanee are in spawn mode, and none are being caught. While thousands of trout were planted since the lake’s opening, finding one now has been tough. Those who are scoring are mainly trolling in front of the spillway, around the Narrows or the barrel line, going down 40-60 feet. Most little flashy lures will attract a bite, as will a threaded crawler hauled behind a dodger.

Lake Camanche: Mark your calendar for Saturday, Nov. 3. The lake is hosting its annual trout fishing derby. There will be a special planting of rainbows for the event, and 100 will be tagged with minimum rewards of $500 each. There will be prizes for the biggest stringer and biggest fish and more goodies.

On the plus side right now, the cooling temps have cooled the water, and the trout have moved up, now down only 30-35 feet. Trolling the far south end of the lake is still the best bet, around Hat Island and the dam area. Some anglers are soaking rainbow or chartreuse Power Bait to get bit.

Not much word on bass, but those in the know are nailing good stringers of catfish and there’s the occasional five-pounder being hauled in. All the usual baits are working — power baits, cheese, chicken liver and night crawlers. The campground area, entrance to the Narrows and around the north shore boat ramp can be good for a kitty fish.

Local salmon: Salmon fishing in most local waters of the Sacramento River are producing good catches of salmon, and so is the American River. It’s a waiting game for the school to move in and through. Get your spinner down near the bottom, and anchor your rod. It eventually will double over. There’s a good population of half-pound steelhead in the American. Drifting roe, eggs and crawlers should get you bit.

Ice House Reservoir: Finally, the bite has turned on and big numbers of rainbows are being hauled in by trollers. The lake is just under 70 percent of capacity, which means launching should be no problem. Get an early start, top-line a dodger trailed by a threaded crawler, and you’re going to limit.

Loon Lake: Apparently, there has been confusion about the boat ramp. Closed? Usable? According to the U.S. Forest Service, the gate at the ramp will remain open until snow falls and closes roads to access. The campgrounds are closed. Some of the best rod-bending action occurs at this lake when the water temperature drops in the fall. Top-line a crawler behind a dodger, and everybody in the boat should limit.

Camp Far West: This lake isn’t much more than a big mud puddle at only 20 percent of capacity. Launching is still being done at the concrete ramp on the north shore, however. Dunk bait in the Rock Creek arm and you can put catfish on the stringer. The area is also yielding bass.

Folsom Lake: The action for scrappy, landlocked king salmon remains constant. They’re running to 20 inches and hanging out in the deeper water in front of the dam and river channel. It will take a downrigger to get down 60 feet. Haul a Speedy Shiner. This lure is meant to be trolled quickly to get the proper action. However, if you bend the lure just slightly, it will work great trolling at slower speeds. Drop-shot plastics and work big-lipped, deep-diving cranks around rock piles, and you can get into a fair bass bite. Nothing great now, but you can have much of the lake to yourself during the week.

Contact George deVilbiss at