DFG offers new incentive for becoming a hunter instructor

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Any person wishing to go hunting in California for the first time must attend and pass a hunter education course. That means there is a continuing need for instructors.

Instructors do so on a volunteer basis to ensure students young and old know and understand the rules of the field. All instructors are certified by the Department of Fish and Game.

There are two department proposals in the works that I suspect are going to cause a flurry of new applicants to become instructors. The proposal package can be viewed at the department’s website: Public comments will be accepted until the close of business Monday, May 14.

New sections that are being proposed would address specific eligibility criteria for instructors, such as employment status, length of volunteer service, in-service training requirements, compliance with existing game laws and payment of an application fee.

The one proposal that will draw the most interest in attracting new instructors is the regulation proposal that would create a new hunt drawing open only to instructors. Long-term volunteers would be rewarded with additional entries for the drawing.

To be eligible, instructors would have to complete three years of service, and an instructor would earn one additional entry for each 10 years of service completed.

Worth it? I think it could be for a good many hunters.

Is your boat water ready?

Spring is arriving with a clearing sky, decreasing wind and warmer temperature.
That’s when the bell rings and families want to take their boat to a nearby waterway.

I find it surprising people think just because the boat ran like a bad dog the last time it was out last year that it will do the same on the first trip this year.

Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve towed a good many expensive boats back to docks over the years for that very reason.

Besides a total tune-up, possibly changing the water pump, better known as an impeller, and draining and refilling the lower unit oil, perhaps a new set of plugs, there’s much you can do with the boat’s appearance as well.

Most boat trailers today have Buddy Bearings that allow the wheel bearings to be greased. If your trailer doesn’t have them, get them. When a bearing goes out and there’s no grease, more than one boat has burned up from a wheel fire on the road.

For the first trip of the year, grease your bearings before you haul the boat. After that, grease the bearings each time you take the boat out of the water. Greasing it then will push out any water that may have entered the inner axle area during the launching and trailering operation.

There isn’t a waterway anywhere with sparkling clear water. Water clarity often is dictated by the time of year you are on any water, the environment for that area and how much other boating traffic is roiling the water.

Soap and water does wonders for removing built-up scum on the outside of your boat. Road tar spots can quickly be removed with WD-40. Waxing your boat vastly improves the appearance and makes clean-up much easier next time.

Did you fully clean out your live well at the end of last season? If not, it should be good and stinky right now, possibly with mildew and mold, neither of which live fish like. Mix baking soda with hot water and flush out the tanks.

If you have a built-in ice chest, do the same thing. You can also make an ice chest smell fresh and sweet if you wipe it down with a few drops of vanilla.

If you have pesky water spots you just can’t seem to get rid of, mix a 50-50 solution of water with white vinegar. Work over the spot with a rag, and it should slowly disappear.

WD-40 will remove fish scents from your boat’s carpeting. However, use of such a product mandates that you follow up with soap and water.

Under no circumstances should you ever use a power washer on the flooring of your boat. That will separate the carpeting from the flooring. Use a garden hose with a sprayer.

Current fishing

San Francisco Bay: The early halibut bite has many anglers excited. Private and party boats are hauling the flatties over the sides in good numbers. Berkeley Flats, Southampton Shoals and Paradise Beach are showing good rod-bending action, while Angel Island and the beaches off San Francisco aren’t showing much — yet. Watch the tides closely. The best bite is on a good outgoing tide and slows considerably on the slack or incoming. Some of the “butts” are hitting 17 pounds, and many are two inches short of the 22-inch minimum. Don’t have a way to keep live bait? You can do well with even frozen anchovy bounced near the bottom or drift live shiners near the bottom. Keep the shiners in a minnow bucket floating alongside the boat.

Lake Camanche: Trout fishing still rages with several in the three- to five-pound category. While the temperature has cooled, the trout are still down 20-30 feet, which means lead core or downriggers, though early in the morning and later in the day you can find them closer to the surface. Try trolling from Hat Island to the dam. Bass are either in pre-spawn or spawn mode and are being hammered. One tilted the scale at just under eight pounds. The South Shore region around Chevron Point has several stick-ups, and the bite is good around there. Green plastic worms along with spinner and crank baits are working.

Stripers: There are some big stripers prowling around the mouth of the Feather River, but getting upriver from the confluence can be tricky unless you have a small boat. Sandbars make it difficult. Those who get upriver from the mouth and troll Rapalas are being rewarded.

Some small stripers are being found in the lower American River. Cut bait will account for some pecking action, but live jumbo minnows should account for the majority.

Stripers also are throughout the Sacramento River, from Rio Vista to the confluence of the Sacramento-Feather Rivers. Colusa to Grimes is showing decent action. There’s action on trolling, soaking cut bait and drifting big minnows.

Get below Rio Vista, around the Power Lines or Liberty Island, hook up ghost shrimp or fresh eel, and chances are good of still tagging into a keeper sturgeon.

Lake Berryessa: With the warming weather, warm water soon follows. Bass have moved into the 8-10 depths on beds, and the fishing is good for all three types. Work the back of coves and the shoreline all around the lake. Kokanee are running an impressive size for this time of year — 15 to 17 inches. They’re found down as much as 40 feet, so keep adjusting until you get regularly bit.

Contact George deVilbiss at