Pheasant: Long cherished by hunters, the season for these Chinese imports will find hunters flocking to fields for the opener Saturday, Nov. 10.
Going into a field for pheasants is one hunt where you don’t have to get up at oh-dark-30. Legal shooting begins at 8 a.m.
Dogs pretty much are a must, and even then it can be tough with the lack of appreciable rain. There will be fresh scent everywhere, and dogs can’t always figure out which will lead to a bird.
It’s nothing uncommon for a pheasant to hold tight in heavy cover, letting you walk right on by, and that’s when a dog becomes the most useful. Other birds would rather run than take to the air, so blockers at the end of the field or ditch helps greatly, too.
The main problem, of course, is that most pheasant hunting occurs on private property, most requiring a membership or fee. It can be tough for the unattached shooter who doesn’t have the expendable funds.
Mainly accessed for waterfowl hunting, don’t discount State and Federal refuges, such as Gray Lodge, Delevan and Sacramento. All provide upland game hunting.
The season will conclude Dec. 23 with a two-bird limit for opening weekend only and three birds daily after that. Possession limit is double the daily bag limit.
Turkey: It’s a lower-elevation bird and again, that’s mostly private property. But, many landowners consider wild turkeys a real pest and some may grant permission to hunt, but you’re going to have to knock on a lot of doors.
And, they’re one of the most wary birds to bag. In the spring, hunters find a likely area, dress in all camo, set up a decoy or two and then sit for hours, making calls and hoping a big ol’ Tom comes looking for a little loving from a hen.
During the fall hunt, hens and toms aren’t looking to mate. Jakes — the younger generation — and hens generally will be in one group; adult males generally will comprise another group.
Unlike the spring hunt, when you must only target a male with a visible beard, during the fall hunt, you can target any bird that comes within shotgun range.
Read next week’s column on one favorable method for hunting turkeys in the fall. These birds, as big as they are, roost in trees, coming down at the break of dawn for feed and water. You’ll need to be set up and ready while it’s still dark.
There’s nothing like a wild turkey on the table for Thanksgiving. The season will conclude Sunday, Dec. 9. The limit is one bird per day and two total for the season, hen or tom.
Dove: The second half of the state’s dove hunting season opens Saturday, Nov. 10. It’s not a major hunt activity this late in the year. However, if you’re out pheasant or waterfowl hunting and a flight of doves wings by, add them to your bag.
The limit remains 10 birds per day and 20 in possession. The season will conclude Monday, Dec. 24.
Rain. Finally. Even snow has fallen in upper elevations — everything that’s needed to kick start fishing activities that have been on the lethargic side. Additionally, although the Balance of State waterfowl hunting season has opened, there aren’t many birds around the Delevan and Sacramento refuges.
So, until the weather really turns nasty, might as well go fishing.
Port of Sacramento: While there are stripers roaming the Sacramento River, there are better opportunities for a keeper lineside in the Port and deepwater channel. Vehicle entry to the south side of the port has been shut down, but if you research the region, you can still get to the shoreline areas to hand launch a small boat. Be forewarned: There is a 5-mph speed limit in the turning basin, and you aren’t allowed within 100 feet of the docks. Port authorities are cracking down on the latter. A citation is costly — more than $300.
Trolling a variety of hardware, drifting minnows and even jigging have been successful for stripers.
French Meadows Reservoir: This is one of my favorite Sierra lakes and right now, there’s downright good action on brown trout. The good thing is that you can almost have the lake to yourself. Campgrounds are closed for the winter, so if you plan to stay overnight, you just need to haul in everything, including water. Work the upper end where the stream comes into the lake. That’s where the browns are staging for the late fall-winter spawn. And where they congregate, the rainbows won’t be far off, hoping to snatch a quick meal. Nearby Hell Hole Reservoir also is producing well for browns and mackinaw. Browns can be found at the upper end and around the inlet and mackinaw, down as much as 60 feet, around the dam. It’s the perfect time to hit either of these lakes before snow blocks them out.
Local salmon: There are many salmon in the American River, but the catches aren’t always indicative of those numbers. It can be slow some days. The recent rain, however, should greatly improve the situation. Action remains decent all along the Sacramento River. You can sit for hours one day and never get bit. Anchor in the same spot the next day, and everybody aboard will limit in nothing flat. The fish are bright silver and firm, great for barbecuing or smoking.
Bodega Bay: Private boats and party boats are scoring on a surprising late bite on salmon. They’re hanging around Elephant Rock. If you don’t mind a long run on a boat, the albacore tuna bite is still occurring way offshore. And easy sack limit of mixed rock cod is still the rule. The water must be warm as even a stray toothy barracuda has been brought to the boat.
Eagle Lake: With the temperature dropping, it’s the time of year when fishing really turns on again at this Lassen County lake. The lake is low so the only way to get your boat off the trailer is at the south end. But, limits of three- and four-pounders are going to be common and generally quick. Eagle Lake rainbows sense winter coming and will chomp on anything they can find: meat or metal, a crawler or lure. Drift a crawler under a bobber around the tulles. Use your electric trolling motor. Keep your boat just outside the tulle line and cast-retrieve an unweighted crawler into the tulles.
Camp Far West: The lake is still dropping. Launching is still possible, but that could end soon. Good catches of bass are being made, and there isn’t much traffic on the lake. Give the North Shore store a call at (530) 633-0803 to check on the ramp status, however.
Contact George deVilbiss at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.