Major rule change in harvesting abalone as season opens

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Abalone season north of San Francisco Bay opened Sunday. Because of strong wind, however, few people were willing to brave really bouncy sea conditions and pry the prized shellfish from their rocky haunts.

Newly closed areas for diving for abs are parts of the Fort Ross State Historical Park. The same waters will open to fishing June 1. If you dive in this region, you can find a map of the closed area at the Department of Fish and Game’s website.

There is one major change in how you harvest the shellfish. Most dive from some sort of boat — from a hard-shell boat to a blow-up raft. The diver finds a legal-size abalone, pries it from the rock and brings it to the surface.

Multiple divers would have a sack in which to place the abs. When limits were reached, everybody would boat back to shore.

Better not try that this year. New regulations say every person must maintain separate possession of their abalone before their tagging. That means every person must have a method of storing abs as they’re taken.

Most other regulations remain unchanged. Only red abalone is allowed to be taken, and you’re allowed three per day and three in possession. That means you must consume your abs before making a second trip. For the year, a total of 24 abalone is allowed.

The minimum size for a keeper ab is seven inches, measured along the longest shell diameter. No undersized abalone is allowed to be brought ashore, even just to be measured.

A current sportfishing license, abalone report card and tags are required.
Check the 2012-13 Ocean Sportfishing Regulations booklet for more information.

Clinic on tap for hunting with black-powder rifles

Ever thought you might like to try hunting like your ancestors did 100 years or more ago? When it was a lead ball on top of a wad of black powder and a mountain of white smoke blocking your view of your target after the shot?

For the past couple of years, I’ve carried a 50-caliber black powder alongside my 7mm mag. One day, I hope to find a buck close enough where I can pull back the hammer on the black-powder rifle.

There’s a huge variety of black-powder rifles on the market. You can stick with the traditional remakes of the 1800s or choose a more updated in-line model that will use something like a shotgun primer as an ignition source.

Both styles are allowed in the special DFG black powder-only hunts. One restriction to these special hunts, however, is that you must do it “old style” — with no scope.

It’s easy to be confused by all the black-powder firearms being offered, and because you aren’t buying a box of ammo to punch through the bore, there’s additional confusion for many.

The DFG may just have the answer for you since the sport of black-powder hunting seems to be growing. On Saturday, April 28, the DFG’s Hunter Education Program is offering a black powder clinic for all skill levels at the Yolo Sportsmen’s Range, located five miles northwest of Davis.

The lecture portion will include a short history of black-powder shooting, different styles of rifles available today, how to load and shoot the rifle, laws and regulations and hunting strategies.

The fun part will be the live-fire exercise.

All course materials and firearms will be provided. You are not to bring a black-powder firearm. Cost of the clinic is $45, and only 25 participants will be allowed, so if you’re interested, you should make a reservation now.

Once you register — at — you’ll receive an e-mail with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring.

Current fishing

Finally, a week of mostly fair weather. Many areas in the high country being visited by anglers recently are now off limits because of snow. Finally. Lakes and reservoirs are rising rapidly, which will bode well for the summer fishing and recreational seasons.

Reminder: Quit using live night crawlers. They have a huge downside, and you can do just as well — if not considerably better — by using rubber worms. They don’t make a mess, you don’t have to feed them and worry about keeping them dry, and so many more reasons. Check out Berkley’s Gulp! night crawlers. Trimmed down and threaded on a hook, believe me, they’ll work considerably better than any live crawler.

Folsom Lake: For boating purposes, the lake is doing excellent. The downside is with the rapid water rise, there’s also quite a bit of debris to dodge. If you put the hammer down on the throttle, just be sure to keep an eye peeled for anything in your boat’s path. Trees and large limbs can do considerable damage, and some may be just under the surface and hard to see. Trollers are doing well toplining for trout and salmon with the fish hanging anywhere from the surface down to 40 feet. Haul a threaded crawler behind small blades.

Lake Oroville: The lake is looking good, now more than 80 percent of capacity. Bass are moving into the shallows for prespawn, so look for coves to be good spots to hit. Don’t discount points and walls either. Almost anything you throw into the water has been tempting the bass — mainly spots up to three pounds. Worms, jigs and Senkos are work well.

Collins Lake: Water is spilling over the dam. In the meantime, trout plants continue. There was 900 pounds of trophy-sized trout from four to 11 pounds put into the lake recently along with another 900 pounds of “catchables.” Rod-bending action is great for those around the dam, beach and the open areas along the lower end. Power Bait and worms are doing the best.

Rollins Lake: Anybody that’s been fishing this lake will quickly tell you the action is pretty slow. With big inflows, it’s muddy. A flurry of action could pick up, however, since the DFG plant truck is expected this week.

Contact George deVilbiss at