June 2 is deadline for special hunt applications

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Zones A, B, and C deer tags are available, even when the season is underway. The same doesn’t apply for other tags.

There are several desired hunts throughout the state that require an application for a drawing. Many times, there are more hopeful hunters than there are tags.

X-Zone deer tags are in high demand. Generally, these zones are where the big bucks of California roam — the mulies. And then there are the numerous elk hunts and pronghorn antelope tags, all in high demand.

There are bighorn sheep tags, which primarily are in the southern end of the state. Antelope hunts are in the northern reaches of the state.

Divide the state in half. Essentially, there are elk hunts all around the upper half of the state. Some elk are on public lands. Many roam on private properties, and it will be up to you to get authorization from the landowner to pursue those big critters. The good news is if your name is drawn, there’s almost a 100-percent success rate for those chasing elk.

To apply for an elk or antelope hunt, there is a minimal application fee for administrative purposes. It’s a non-refundable fee if you aren’t drawn.

In you are drawn, there’s a hefty tag fee. For some hunts, the department also requires you attend an orientation.

You can better your chances of being drawn by continually applying and getting a preference point, up to a maximum of five points. Generally, at least one person with preference points is drawn for most of the special hunts.

You need to have your hunting license before applying for a special hunt. You can go to a license agent, such as WalMart or Sports Authority, or visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife office in the Natomas area of Sacramento. You also can complete your license and hunt application online at Once the system recognizes you have a license, you can purchase tags or apply for hunts that are drawn.

The deadline for applying is at midnight Sunday, June 2. Mail-in applications won’t be accepted for any special hunt.

If you applied for special or X-Zone hunts, you can check the CDFW Web site for results beginning Friday, June 21.


Current fishing


Lake Pardee: Some big plants were made for Memorial Day weekend. You should still do well without a boat, fishing the Rec Area Cove from shore. Behind the boathouse, Rainbow and Blue Herron Points and either side of the Tom Sawyer Bridge should be good rod-bending areas. Chartreuse, white or rainbow Power Bait has been successful, but have the jars with either garlic or glitter. Cast-retrieve a lure like a blue and silver Kastmaster with your second rod while you’re waiting to get bit on the bait rig. Those with boats are heading for the river. Some go all the way up to Columbia Gulch. A few kokanee are showing in the catches, but most of the action is rainbows. Watch your scope carefully and set your downriggers just above where you’re marking the average depth of the fish. Remember, fish can see up but not down.

Lake Camanche: More than 23,000 pounds of trout have been planted this year, all from Mount Lassen trout hatchery in Red Bluff. Many trout are of bragging, trophy size. The good news is the weather is still cool enough that they’re continuing to plant, split between the South Shore Pond and the lake. You can get into a decent bite in the lake, but once the sun hits the water, you’ll have to drop the rigs deeper. That means downriggers and lead-core line. The Narrows, the old river channel that goes to the dam and around Hat Island are areas where you should get bit. Most bass have spawned, and it’s tougher to get bit now, but work the deeper points with jigs and you should find them.

American River: There is still a steelhead or two cruising the upper reaches of the river, but most anglers aren’t giving them a second thought. Shad are in the river in big numbers. If you’ve never caught a shad, you’re in for a treat and won’t realize that until you’ve hooked one. What a battle even a three-pounder will give you. Have your drag too tight and the light will quickly separate. Allow the fish to make its runs and then slowly pump it back. Drift the holes in the river with shad darts or flies near the bottom. It’s a bony fish so most anglers only catch and release them. But if you have a smoker, they’re excellent and, properly smoked, the bones mainly disappear.

Collins Lake: They made a big plant of trout before the holiday weekend, and there’s still a bunch of rainbows left. Shore casting near the lower end of the lake near the dam has been excellent, and so is trolling for those hauling just about everything in the tackle box. A hauled crawler, however, is always a sure getter.

Ocean salmon: When the wind doesn’t blow — and that has been a problem this year — salmon fishing has been good for the Bay Area fleet, though not the red-hot bite seen last year. There are some limits, and if not, at least a fish a rod. If you plan to go, check the wind and weather report. North wind roils the water; south wind tends to flatten the waves.

Frenchman Lake: This lake could be in trouble later this year. It’s already below 70 percent. Get up there now while the water is good and the fishing is great. Those fishing around the dam and Spring Creek are nailing limits of rainbows with many tipping the scale at 2 pounds by soaking Power Bait or an inflated crawler. If you boat the region, hit the same area and haul a crawler behind blades.

Bullards Bar: Kokanee, kokanee and more kokanee. Plenty of limits are hitting the ice chests, but so far the little land-locked salmon are small, mainly 10-12 inches. The good news is they’re in the top 25 feet and grabbing any kokanee-based lure. Be sure to tip the hook with two or three kernels of shoepeg, white corn. It makes a big difference.

Contact George deVilbiss at