Wild turkey, pheasant hunting seasons open

Lake Amador is loaded with trout
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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The second Saturday of November marked the opening for the state’s wild turkey and the annual tromp-through-fields pheasant hunting seasons.

Those hoping to put a wild turkey on the dinner table for Thanksgiving have 16 days from the opening, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Nov. 27, to bag a bird.

The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex and a seasonal limit of one bird.

Hunting during the fall season is a fairly unique activity. During the spring hunt, when females are looking for a mate, you sit quietly or hide in a blind with a hen decoy nearby and can call in a tom, as he’s also looking for a mate. The only real restriction is the turkey you take must have a visible beard.

The fall hunt is considerably different. Turkeys are a flock bird. There’s no breeding activity in the fall so the flock, once they come out of their tree roosts in the early morning, go to food and water.

Because their group is intact, they won’t really respond to calls.

So, to be successful during the fall hunt, find where they roost. Be there when they come down from that roost. When they hit the ground, run right at them. Break up their happy little flock. They’ll scatter in every direction.

Now, you can successfully sit down and call. They’ll talk to one another to reunite the flock, and when they respond to the calling, you can bag your bird.

The bag limit for pheasants hasn’t changed in years. You can bag three roosters a day. This limit refers only to the state’s wild bird population. If you hunt a private licensed pheasant club, one that plants pen-raised birds for you to find, there is no bag limit.

Farming practice in California isn’t the greatest for the propagation of a great pheasant population. Many prime pheasant regions are being plowed during the time the birds want to nest.

But there are generally enough, at clubs and on some open land, where hunters have the opportunity for gunning action. Getting a bird up without a dog, however, can be difficult. Some birds are wise enough to sit tight and let you walk past.

Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley, including Sacramento and Delevan Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge, Upper Butte Basin, Yolo and Grizzly Island Wildlife Areas, are open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.

Current fishing

The weather is unstable, and there could be rain in the forecast. There is good fishing right now, so don the rain gear and get out there.

Port of Sacramento: The Lake Washington Outboard Club held its annual striper derby last weekend, and I was there to watch much of the weigh-in. The club hosted 60-plus boats with more than 100 anglers, and a fair number of stripers were checked in. All were small schoolies. The big fish of the day was only 6.8 pounds, and there were several two- to four-pounders. Those who caught fish used every method imaginable. Some drifted big minnows. Others trolled hair-raisers or minnow imitators such as a Rebel, and others jigged a variety of hardware. All were successful.

Access to port waters is now pretty restricted. It looks so strange not seeing any vehicles parked on the south side of the port or channel. I’m told you can’t get a vehicle in, but you can park and walk in. Take a few jumbo minnows and with a sliding sinker under a bobber, get it down near the bottom past the vertical drop-off.

Lake Amador: When you put 1,000 pounds of trout per day in the lake, the rod-bending action has to be good. Bass fishing is slow so it’s a trout angler’s paradise. Leave the boat at home, as you can get a heavy stringer of trout standing on shore, best along the rocks of the dam to the dirt of the spillway area. Be sure to have the two-rod stamp. Soak Power Bait, eggs or a crawler with one rig. Those who are unsuccessful are fishing too deep. The fish can be seen swirling on the surface, so use a cast-a-bubble or bobber to stay shallow. Cast-retrieve a lure with your other rig. You can have hook-ups on both rigs at the same time.

Lake Camanche: They’re also planting trout weekly to enhance the fishery. At last report, the ever-popular South Shore pond wasn’t being planted, as the water temp there was still too high, so big loads once a week were put in at the North and South Shore ramps. Early, troll shallow, dropping down as the sun hits the water. If it’s cloudy, the trout will tend to stay higher, mainly 10 to 20 feet deep. Most lures and a threaded crawler will get you bit. Even those on shore at North Shore have been tallying limits with chartreuse and rainbow Power Bait.

Offshore waters: With sport fishing crab season open, party boats in Bodega Bay and throughout Berkeley and Emeryville are running combo trips with a high degree of success. All soaking pots are laden with big Dungeness crab so everybody on board gets their share of six apiece. The rest of the trips are dedicated to rock cod fishing, and unless the water is a little too bouncy, full limits of bottom fish are the rule with a fair number of the favored lings in the bags. The success is so high on some days the boats have returned before noon.

American River: There are still salmon-bending rods in the river below the closed waters. You can anchor and let the fish run into your spinner, Flatfish or Kwikfish, or you can troll. Night fishing is allowed below the Interstate 80 bridge to the mouth, and salmon are being nailed by those spending the night. Not much steelhead action.

Collins Lake: Catfish and trout fishing have been good at the popular lake behind Marysville with some catfish weighing more than eight pounds. Trollers and shore dunkers are nailing trout, mainly one to 1½ pounds.

Contact George deVilbiss at