A fishing license is the perfect stocking stuffer

By: George deVilbiss
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Whether you used it doesn’t matter. All 2010 fishing licenses expire at midnight Dec. 31.

It’s been a tradition for many years in our family to include a fishing license as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. On Jan. 1, any fishing activity will require that new license.

Major retail outlets and sporting goods stores will have the 2011 fishing license, related stamps and cards to set you up for the year. Or, if you happen to be near the Department of Fish and Game’s license and revenue office at 1740 North Market Blvd., in the north Natomas area of Sacramento, you can save the small mark-up afforded to retailers. Some costs this year include:

• Basic resident sport fishing license: $43.46

• Second rod stamp: $13.53

• Abalone Report Card: $20.78

• Sturgeon Fishing Report Card: Free

• Steelhead Report Card: $6.48

Do you have friends or relatives coming from out of state to visit and want to take them fishing? You don’t have to buy a full license. A one-day license will cost $14.04, a two-day license $21.86 and a 10-day nonresident license $43.46.

The cost of a license and related fees are pricey but are among the most welcomed gifts to any angler.

Report cards due soon
You are required to have a Sturgeon Report Card whether or not you went sturgeon fishing in 2010. Even if you caught and released a sturgeon, you were required to record that catch.

It’s also required that the report card, used or not, be mailed back to the DF&G by Jan. 31. If you didn’t go, write “none” on the card and mail it.

The 2010 Sturgeon Report Card expires Dec. 31, and the 2011 replacement is again free. The address is at the bottom of the backside of the report card. Mail it today if you aren’t going to go before the end of the year.

Current fishing
The high country is pretty much off limits for now. Snow inhibits much of the access, and lakes aren’t frozen over to allow access for ice fishing.

A how-to for ice fishing was postponed this week until the high-elevation lakes allow the activity. But, you don’t have to head for the high country to get into great rod-bending activity. With the cooler temperature and upcoming holidays, few anglers are venturing far from home. And you can do well in a quick and dirty close trip.

Salmon: The American River is closed to salmon fishing, and when it was open, anglers didn’t fare well. On the good news front, the hatchery has taken in a lot of salmon, which means the fish were there, just unwilling to chomp down on trolled lures.

The American River Hatchery at Nimbus, the Feather River Hatchery and the Coleman Hatchery in the upper Sacramento River area report healthy runs of salmon captured for artificial spawning.

Whether the ocean salmon fishing drought is over remains to be seen, but there appears to be an upswing in salmon populations again.

Folsom Lake: Bassing is a challenge. Slow cruise and watch your scope to locate a school of bait fish, then shut down and start fishing. Most of the bass are hanging in 20 to 25 feet, where you can spoon or drop-shot to get bit. Robo worms in salt and pepper have worked.

No limits, but there’s a king salmon or two to be had from around the dam and Dyke 8. Haul a crawler or lures such as a Speedy Shiner or Needlefish.

Camp Far West: It’s OK for a boat ride but not fishing. The lake has come up nicely, which has muddied the water. Fishing has slowed to less than a crawl.

Rollins Lake: The lake is full to the point it’s going over the spillway. Not much action for shore-bound triers, though. With a boat, head up into the Bear River inlet area and troll for trout, which have hit more than two pounds.

Eagle Lake: Can’t make it up before the Dec. 31 closure? It might be too late. Ice is forming on the lake so the only real fishing is by those on shore.

Suisun Bay: The rains have had an impact on the sturgeon fishery. It’s usually OK to good this time of year. This year, it’s all but red-hot. Great action is being found all around the bay waters. One party boat tallied a dozen keeper diamondbacks in one day. The usual shrimp baits along with eel and roe are working.

Delta Region: There’s downright good striper fishing in the Lower Sacramento River region. Baits generally are outfishing lures. The mouth of the Deepwater Channel, the Power Lines below Rio Vista and around Liberty Island are producing well. Don’t want to travel that far? Try the Courtland and Freeport areas. Limits are being taken on baits here, too.

Contact George deVilbiss at