Upland game clinic coming to Hastings Island in Rio Vista

Lake Almanor finally dropping, and fish are biting
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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If you mention upland game hunting, the first thing that comes to mind is pheasant, those imported, colorful Chinese chickens.

But upland game consists of many more types of birds, including a variety of species of quail and turkey, and each requires a different hunting strategy. Some are easy to hunt. Others will test your limits of patience and endurance.

If you’re new to the hunting arena, welcome to the club. Each of us was a newbie at one time.

Some of us had mentors that showed us the ropes, how to be successful and leading us to hunting areas. Others want to seriously take up the sport but don’t come from a familial background with someone to mentor them as to the nuances of hunting any particular game bird.

For those who may fall into this latter category, you have two choices. The first is to do it the hard way. That means being frustrated, first of all, in finding a place to hunt, and then expending a great deal of energy in pursuit of that game without knowing how it operates.

It’s doable. Many of us took what we learned at an early age, used that as a base of knowledge and then built on it year by year.

Instead of doing it the hard way, there are shortcuts that really do help the learning curve.

On Saturday, Aug. 27, the Department of Fish and Game is sponsoring a one-day upland game clinic at its Hastings Island Hunting Preserve near Rio Vista. While many clinics put on by the DFG are free, this one costs a nominal $45.

Topics will include regulations, where to hunt, proper types of firearms and ammunition, hunting alone vs. in a group, hunting with and without dogs and lastly, a topic dear to my heart and one seemingly overlooked by many: responsibilities and ethics.

The clinic also features dog-handling and game-care demonstrations.

All skill levels are welcome at the clinic, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hastings Island Hunting Preserve, 7758 Hastings Island Road in Rio Vista.
The clinic is free to any child 16 years and younger, but he/she must be accompanied by an adult.

Space is limited, and you must be pre-registered. You can reserve your space at the DFG’s website at Once you’re registered, you’ll receive an e-mail with directions to the wildlife area and a list of items to bring.

Current fishing

Lake Almanor:
Finally. The lake has dropped a good foot and a half and goes down a little each day. Bailey Creek is finally dry, and the Hamilton Branch is down to its normal summer level flow. Saturday was our first day on the water. We got bit just about everywhere we had lines out. Many were short hits, and a couple fish were lightly hooked and able to throw the hook.

We started near the mouth of Hamilton Branch and trolled north toward Big Springs, around the cove and along the Peninsula up to A-Frame. I scoped a lot of big fish in the 40- to 52-foot range. We finished south of Hamilton Branch and trolled back to Hamilton Branch.

Most of the hits came off the downrigger, down a minimum of 32 feet and as much as 50. A couple hits came off lead-core line, out seven colors, and every solid takedown was with a threaded crawler behind a dodger.

The east shore of the lake is providing plenty of action, though I’ll try popular areas of the west side this week, around Plumas Pines and along the Peninsula around Rec Area 2.

American River: Salmon are trickling through, and that’s the only way it can be described. The mouth of the American and surrounding areas can be pretty packed in boats. It can be a waiting game for the rod to take a big dive.

The Nimbus Basin, the short distance from the Hazel Avenue Bridge to the dam, was never hot for salmon fishing, and it’s going to be slower now. Just below Hazel Avenue, weirs have been installed that will divert incoming salmon into the hatchery.

Go further upriver, however, and before you go under the freeway, you’ll see the old gristmill. There’s a pretty good striper population in the area, and they’re oftentimes boiling. Drift big minnows or cast-retrieve a wounded-minnow imitator, and you can hammer a quick limit.

Hell Hole Reservoir: Launching off a trailer usually is out of the question at this time of year, as the water levels have dropped too much. Not this year. The lake remains more than 90-percent full. Kokanee trolling has slowed, but don’t think it’s over. There are still good numbers of the little salmon to 14 inches being netted. Go down as much as 40 feet off a downrigger around the powerhouse. If you can get on the water at the crack of dawn, head to the top end of the lake. Troll a Rapala at the inlet and you can still get into some good brown trout.

Rollins Lake: With school starting, recreational boating traffic is going to be on the decrease. The inlet of the Bear River and the hiking trail to Freeloader’s Cove has been good for those dangling a night crawler under a sliding bobber down 15-20 feet.

Bay Area: The action is wide open. There’s been a good salmon bite outside the gate and hot rod-bending action inside the bay — limits of stripers, some halibut, big lingcod and a variety of other rock cod to fill the sacks.

Bodega Bay: Outstanding results showing here, too. Skipper Rick Powers had a group aboard the New Sea Angler. After everybody limited on a variety of bottom fish, along with the highly favored lingcod, they switched to salmon rigs and began mooching in the Bird Rock area. They nailed an additional 12 salmon — not quite one per rod, the largest just under 30 pounds.

Contact George deVilbiss at