Non-native lice are leaving many deer hairless

Fishing report: Boats are hammering rock cod all along coast
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Hunters often will have a deer tanned with its lustrous coat of hair on.

But there are now bald deer. No hair or, at best, just a scruffy, patchy fur coat. The condition isn’t specific to one area. It’s apparently occurring statewide.

In some cases, the hair loss is being attributed to an infestation of internal parasites. But this hair loss is mainly being attributed to non-native lice.

Where did the lice come from? There’s no definitive answer.

The deer seem to know they’re infested. They spend hour after hour grooming themselves. The downside to that is their attention is elsewhere, and they become easier targets for predators such as coyotes and mountain lions.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is researching deer herds throughout the state that already are recognized as being in trouble population-wise.

Some research involves capturing deer and collecting hair and blood samples. The CDFW has done this with more than 600 deer and elk. Researchers have counted and identified the lice on each deer and attached radio collars to track the deer’s movements.

Treating some deer for lice hopefully will give researchers information they can use to identify trends and find a solution.

The lice are external and won’t affect the quality of the meat, so hunters need not worry.

In the case of internal parasites, again, it’s not a worry. Parasites are destroyed in the cooking process.


Free fishing day quickly approaching


Many people have given up on fishing because they just don’t go often enough to warrant the cost of an annual license. If you belong to that group, the state has a remedy for you.

The state Legislature authorizes two days a year as “Free Fishing Days,” when you can hit any waterway in the state and fish without a license.

The first Free Fishing Day is Saturday, July 6, from midnight to midnight.

There’s a restriction or two. You can only use two rods if you have a fishing license with a two-rod stamp. And, all regulations, such as bag and size limits, must be adhered to, along with gear restrictions, fishing hours and any stream closures.

If a report card is required for a specific fishery, you must have that in possession. Those include abalone, steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster or fishing for salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River systems.


Current fishing


Blistering weather and wind have affected many fisheries, but there’s still good fishing to be found.

Ocean salmon: Boats at “Blow-dega” Bay haven’t been out much. A rough sea has hampered a great deal of the salmon fishing. When the sea cooperates for the San Francisco Bay Fleet, most boats have come back with limits. Fort Bragg had perfect water temperature conditions, and the salmon bit with a flurry. It was fleeting, though.

Rock cod: The rock cod fishery opened June 1 and has been excellent. Boats up and down the coast are hammering limits of the variety of bottom fish. The good news is several highly preferred ling cod are being caught. As a bonus, crab season is still open. Many boats are running combo trips, and anglers are returning to port with a big load.

American River: The river is still stuffed with shad, and you can easily get into an excellent bite of the “poor man’s tarpon.” The big gravel bar at Sailor Bar is a good spot to drift your shad dart or fly. Put it under an indicator. Having a 50-fish day is easily doable. Keep a few for smoking. They’re excellent fare prepared that way.

Catfish: Just about anywhere you can wet a line, the kittyfish are biting — Sutter Bypass, Sacramento River, sloughs and most lakes.

New Melones: Kokanee fishing is good and in just a few hours of putt-putting around, you should have a limit of the landlocked salmon. There are still nice trout being enticed. Don’t expect limits of the trout, but you can get a mixed limit of rainbows and kokes. Glory Hole and around the dam and spillway have been good areas to troll. They’ll feed in the top of the water column in early mornings and late afternoons, but midday, it will take downriggers to get to them.

Eagle Lake: Wind shut down some of the fishing, but when boats can get out, the fishing remains good. Trolling grubs remains a good bet. So will a threaded night crawler. Lures, such as the Red Dog, Watermelon or Brown Trout by Sure Catch has always been dynamite at this lake. The south side of Pelican Point and the straits of the Youth Camp are good areas to limit. Anchoring around Shrimp Island and trolling around Eagle’s Nest and Wildcat are good bets as well.

Buck’s Lake: Just downhill from Quincy, this is a lake with trophy-size mackinaw, along with rainbows and brown trout. You can get into a mackinaw bite by hauling gear down as much as 55 feet. Pan-size rainbows and browns are the main fare for those fishing around Bucks Creek and Mill Creek. Besides a crawler, Needlefish in the fire tiger and even frog patterns have been getting well bit.

Loon Lake: It’s the top-end lake in the Crystal Basin area. The lake is still in good condition, water level-wise. It’s a hot bite for pan-size rainbows, but there’s the occasional ’bow hitting 16 inches. If you get an early start, the fish are right on top but by mid-morning, you’ll need to drop down to 25 feet. The water is absolutely clear, which means the fish can be spooky. To troll, make sure you drop your line back 100-150 feet. Hauling a grub or worm should easily do the trick.

Contact George deVilbiss at