Save a stamp; file your hunting, fishing reports online

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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For a number of species, hunters have had to return tags or report cards by conventional mail. Usually, it reaches its destination; but occasionally, one is lost.

The Department of Fish and Game is trying to make it easier for hunters and anglers to file their reports. The method is evolving to include the electronic age.

If you’re in possession of a California hunting or fishing license, you’re in the DFG’s computer database. To purchase any license or tag, an account was set up. In that account — the Online License Service — you can now file your report electronically. If you want to, that is. If not, you can mail it the old-fashioned way.

Reports available to file since July 1 include antelope, bear, bighorn sheep, bobcat, deer, elk and pig tags. On Dec. 1, abalone report cards will be available to report online, and on Jan. 1, North Coast salmon, spiny lobster, steelhead and sturgeon report cards may be filed online.

The law requires harvest data in a timely manner, even if you were unsuccessful or didn’t hunt or fish for the intended target of the tag or report card. There are exceptions, so refer to your tag or report card for specific reporting requirements.

To make your report online, visit the DFG’s Web site at and click on Online License Service. Search for your profile by entering your last name, date of birth and ID number that was used when you purchased your license and tags or report cards.

The computer will log you into your profile, where you can purchase a license, add a tag, apply for any drawings or complete any required harvest reports.
Once you complete the report, you’ll be given a confirmation number. Write that number on the report card and retain it for at least 90 days.

Once the report is filed, the tag or report card no longer is valid.

Recovery plan for silver salmon

Up to the late 1940s, silver salmon — or Coho — were a major fishery in California. Historical records estimated a population of as many as 125,000 ranging in inland waters from Santa Cruz to Fort Bragg.

But, Coho numbers plummeted enough to consider them an endangered species. The major cause has been human population and development. Anglers haven’t been able to retain a silver salmon, even one caught in ocean water.

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, which manages our coastal and marine resources, dictates season dates and bag limits to the various coastal states. The NOAA is concerned with California’s endangered Coho salmon and has developed a recovery plan that clearly defines and prioritizes actions necessary to improve degraded habitat.

The NOAA won’t take the lead and do the work. That will be up to the state of California.

If you would like to view the recovery plan, visit

Current fishing

A weather cool-down might be just what’s needed to boost fishing success. A pouring rain would be a big help, except for rice farmers completing their harvest.

Sacramento River: There are lots of salmon spread throughout the river system, and if you spend time on the water, you eventually will hook up. Some are chrome bright silver while some earlier-arriving fish are turning darker than the more recent arrivals. Cooling temperature is causing anglers to spend more hours on the river, but water temps haven’t dropped much. Put that fish on ice once you have it netted. The warmer water will slowly cook the fish.

The downside, especially around Discovery Park, is that there are sea lions hanging around waiting for an easy munch. They’ll eat your salmon right off the hook in about the time it takes you to blink. So if you want that fish, haul it in.

Suisun Bay: There’s a pier or two in the Martinez area where you can cast a line. The good thing about fishing from a pier is that no fishing license is required. Striper action has been good from the piers. Or, launch your boat at the Martinez ramp and make the short run to what’s left of the Mothball Fleet area or even up to the Benicia Bridge. Soak bullhead, and chances are good of scoring on stripers.

Collins Lake: With water still too warm, coldwater species such as trout are laying low and not interested in what anglers are tossing at them. As nighttime temperature drops, so will water temperature, and that will help the situation. In the meantime, warm-water species such as crappie, bass and catfish are biting. The lake holds big cats, and up to 11-pounders have been taken by those soaking bait in shallower water. Bassers are throwing jigs, a variety of plastic worms and live crawdads.

Lake management will start trout plants at the end of this month. The plants will be weekly until Thanksgiving.

Scott’s Flat: A trout plant was made a couple of weeks ago that put 4,500 rainbows into the lake. They’re certainly not all in frying pans right now so you should be able to do well. They’re going to be spread out, so trolling near the inlet should get you bit. The lake also holds a good population of largemouth and smallmouth bass. Toss plastics or a wacky rigged live crawler, and you should easily limit.

Feather River: When we came down Highway 70 recently, campers were readily using the campground at Caribou Crossroads since everything officially reopened after the Chips Fire was officially designated as contained.

The Feather River is in excellent shape, moving along at a nice, leisurely flow. There are native rainbows and holdover planters to be had. Where the water is crystal clear, be sure to go light. Two-pound test line wouldn’t be unheard of, and it won’t take much weight on that line to get down where the fish are laying in wait for your offering to drift by. For the bait caster, worms and crickets will get you bit. Fly casters can also do well in the many pools along the river, especially drifting nymphs.

Topaz Lake: This bi-state lake water level is down, like 20 percent of capacity. It doesn’t really matter, as this lake closed to fishing at the end of September, not to reopen until Jan. 1.

Contact George deVilbiss at