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Hunting licenses, tags, applications now available

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Hunting licenses expire at the end of June each year. Any hunting after that requires a new license.

To purchase tags and applications for any of the state’s special hunts, you must purchase a license, and the whole batch is now available.

There are two ways to apply for your license, any tag and even the drawing of the special hunts. The first is the old, traditional method of going into a sporting goods store or Department of Fish & Game office and making the purchase across the counter.

The second is what the DFG terms the new and improved way: online. If you do it online, you’ll just need a credit card to charge all the applicable fees, and you’ll receive the license and tags in the mail within 15 days. The exception is if you apply for a hunt with a drawing.

Several sporting goods stores have opted out carrying hunting and fishing licenses because of the hassle of a computerized, long process. Call around first. You might be successful finding one by going online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing.

Each year, the DFG produces a booklet called the California Hunting Digest, and for the 2011-12 hunting year, it’s available online. It’s a PDF document, and it’s big: 72 pages.

It will list statistics for all hunts last year, and all the special hunts for the upcoming year so you’ll know the zone or designation number for the hunt for which you want to apply.

License and tag fees this year are $43.46 for a resident hunting license and $11.37 for a junior resident license. A first deer tag will run you $29.16 and a second deer tag $36.21.

Bear tags are $42.38, wild pig tags $20.78. Just to apply for any of the state’s special hunts — antelope, elk or bighorn sheep — is $8.13.

If you make the purchase from a license agent and not the DFG, expect to pay 5 percent more for each item. That’s the allowable markup.

The deadline for applying for any special hunts requiring a drawing is June 5.

Current fishing
A strong winter storm last weekend and early this week certainly didn’t help the fishing. Well, the fishing is fine. Fish don’t care about the wet, but the wet and cold keeps anglers away.

Some bass already are spawned out and others are on their nests, guarding their eggs and territory, now confused as to whether to stay or drop back to deeper water.

A gradual warm-up is in the forecast, which will help the fishing and catching condition.

A drive up Highway 70 — the Feather River Canyon — revealed a muddy-colored, raging river, as are most creeks, streams and rivers with the snowmelt.

It’s just better to stay away from moving waters right now. The fishing conditions are far from ideal.

American River: Fishing for steelhead in the river was pretty much a bust this year with all the rain. The river was so high it literally washed out the steelhead fishery. The river has dropped. It’s far from the idyllic summer flows but still fishable. Top action right now is for stripers and even shad.

You can troll the lower regions of the river and do pretty well on stripers, or you can get in the upper ranges and toss all kinds of minnow-imitators with cast-retrieve and nail the big bass. A friend landed a 45-pound bass some years ago that gulped down his shad fly.

Shad, if you’ve never fished for them, are bony, not preferred for eating by most anglers, but just a lot of fun to catch and release. Give it a try with one of the many shad flies or darts drifted near the bottom.

Folsom Lake: The bass catching was dynamite before the nasty weather moved in, fishing the rock piles and the edge of drop-offs. Until the weather stabilizes for at least a couple of days, it could be really tough convincing a bass to chew on your plastic offering. Especially when the weather warms up, look for the flooded brush and trees to again be well attended by bass.

Lake Almanor: The view of Mt. Lassen from the lake is awesome. The mountain is covered in the white stuff, and the hills surrounding the lake still have a good amount of snow. Daytime temperatures have been in the 40- to 50-degree range while the nights have dipped into the mid to low 30s.

The best part, however, is the fishery. The lake is full and, before the storms moved in, there were many bugs on the water. The trolling has been outstanding. We delayed launching the boat until the weather stabilizes.

There have been daily breezy conditions, and when the storms moved in, the wind increased to the point most pulled their boats off the lake. Before that, trollers were hammering rainbows and brown trout.

The most action is along the east shore. While downriggers can be used, most are toplining with straight monofilament line or going maybe two colors of lead core line. The trout are hanging in the top 20 feet.

Lures work well, but there are lures they seem to like and lures they’ll ignore. Rainbow runners, Speedy shiners and some Needlefish colors are preferred. Keep changing until you get bit.

And then, of course, there’s always the threaded-on, tail half of a night crawler on a No. 4 hook. That’s a never fail and is actually my favorite. I’m not hearing, yet, that drifting crickets or meal worms are attracting much action.

Next week, look for a full catching report.

Contact George deVilbiss at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.