Permit required for August hunt in wildlife area, Zone A

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
-A +A

It’s maybe 130 miles south to the Upper and Lower Cottonwood Creek and the San Luis Reservoir wildlife area in western Merced County.

That’s not so bad. I travel farther to the north every year to go deer hunting, and anglers from the north state travel to the San Luis Reservoir for premier bass fishing.

The wildlife area contains a decent population of blacktail deer (Zone A) and enough wild pigs that a trip can be worth the while.

However, you must have a permit for the Aug. 11-12 hunt. To have a permit, you must apply to the wildlife area’s office for a drawing. Applications must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. July 5. The drawing will be held at 11 a.m. July 6. Successful applicants will be notified by mail within five working days of the lottery draw.

OK, so the hunt is only two days and each permit will only be good for one day. You can apply for either day but not both; nor can you apply for multiple areas. Try for more than one day or hunt area, and your application will be summarily rejected.

A total of 45 permits will be issued for each day. Junior license holders must apply with an adult hunter. Up to three persons may apply as a single party.

Interested? You can call the DFG’s Los Banos office at (209) 826-0463 between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or visit The application can be submitted via e-mail to or mailed to the DFG’s Los Banos office at 18110 W. Henry Ave., Los Banos, Calif., 93635.

Watch out: Snakes awake with warming weather

Springtime, with warming weather and melting snow, means one thing: Some critters that sleep in the winter start waking up.

Bears come to mind for most, but they tend to be just hungry, scrounging and rummaging around for anything edible. They really do tend to avoid people.

The other critters waking up are much more dangerous: Rattlesnakes. Once out of their underground dens, they bask in the sun to warm their cold-blooded systems.

With woodland grasses growing wildly, they can be difficult to spot. Along streams, they’ll lay on rocks to absorb heat. They’re out in big numbers right now.

Rattlesnakes aren’t generally aggressive to humans. Given the opportunity, they’ll avoid contact. A strike generally is caused by a snake being startled and is a defensive posture.

From the foothills to higher elevation, watch where you put your feet and hands. Make noise to announce your presence.

Some people’s philosophy is the only good snake is a dead snake. However, the rattlesnake plays an important role in the ecosystem of California, and primarily they keep the rodent population under some control.

So, if you see a snake, leave it be. Go around it or stand your ground, and the snake will turn tail and run.

Current fishing

The weather is absolutely ideal. Folsom Lake is just about full; Lake Oroville is nearing its brim. The American River is running high with additional releases from Folsom. How lake levels will look later this year will be interesting, as there isn’t much snow in the high country to feed lakes for an extended period of time.

Folsom Lake: The shoreline won’t drastically change on a daily basis, as they’re now increasing flows out of the lake. There’s considerable flooded brush and trees in the shallows that are holding bass, and dartheads, plastics and drop-shotting are attracting bites. The deeper water around the dam is producing trout and salmon.

Clear Lake: Considerable fishing pressure on weekends, so if you have a weekday or two, that would be the time to go. Bass fishing is hot. Fish are in the shallows, around any tule line in no more than seven feet of water. They’re on or working their nests so just about anything you throw in there could get you bit.

Lake Amador: Management is still planting up to 1,000 pounds of its homegrown cutthroat-rainbows PER DAY. Trout fishing remains great at the face of the dam or the dirt area of the spillway. Some trout have moved up into the Mountain Springs arm. Bass catching also is up for those tossing plastics, Brush Hogs and Senkos.

Ocean salmon: Awesome action. At Bodega Bay, everybody on board catches a fish and some carry off a limit of two. While the majority is under 10 pounds or so, there’s an occasional lunker up to 20. The Bay Area fleet has the salmon dialed in. They’re finding schools early, and that means just about limits for everybody with a line in the water. Several keepers were running around 10 pounds, and they get the occasional 20-pounder.

Suisun Bay: Water flowing down the rivers is decreasing, but the fishing in Suisun Bay is still good for stripers and sturgeon. Soaking eel or any shrimp bait is working well, and those fishing for stripers are using bullheads. The Mothball Fleet remains a constant good bet, as is around the Benicia Bridge and Seal Island.

Camp Far West: The lake is well known for having a good crappie population, and when the catching is good, it’s generally a well-kept secret by those doing the catching. However, word is leaking out that if you dunk small minnows along the brushy areas, you can get into crappie now. A few years ago, we soaked a minnow in a cove along the South Shore area, and it was inhaled by an 11-pound striped bass. Bass fishing also is outstanding. You can hammer bass until your arms ache by working the shallows, especially where there’s cover. Nothing big, but good numbers.

Collins Lake: The lake is being heavily planted with private, trophy-sized trout up to seven pounds and pens of trout their holding. Three pens are to be released this week with the ’bows running two pounds or a tad better. Shore fishing and trolling has been outstanding.

Lake Almanor: The air is warming, and so is the water. It’s early, but hatches are occurring and that really turns on the trout bite. We’ve fished the black ant hatch regularly and have gotten into boils of big trout along the east shore and Peninsula around Rec 2. If you see a boil, the trout are swarming on the surface, inhaling the bugs. Don’t go through the boil with your boat; nothing will break them up faster. Stay on the perimeter. Top-line troll or cut your motor and toss flies or even lures into the boil. You’ll get three- to five-pound trout in nothing flat. It’s exciting.

Contact George deVilbiss at