Television broadcast pioneer Bel Lange set the bar high

Fishing report: Good opener for ocean salmon
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Bel Lange was a household fixture from the mid 1950s through the early 1980s. Those fortunate enough to have a television in those early years tuned in to then-Stockton-based KOVR each Saturday to watch his 30-minute show, “The Outdoorsman.”

Most people thought he was just another reporter for the station when he was, in fact, the general manager.

Bel had a great love of the out-of-doors — fishing, hunting, camping. He loved it all, and on “The Outdoorsman,” he covered all the subjects.

Anglers gleaned information, as where fish could be found biting the best. He revealed the best baits and methods of getting into the bite. Hunters regularly received information as to season dates and what conditions they might find. Campers and anybody wanting to go outdoors would find his tips and hints to making that a successful trip and regularly tuned in to build their knowledge bank.

In today’s video world, a reporter usually is accompanied in the field by a camera person. Bel Lange shot his own video with a 16-mm movie camera, common in many households.

After leaving KOVR, Lange opened a store specializing in what he knew best — the outdoors — and it had the same name as his TV show, “The Outdoorsman.”

Lange also began a travel agency, booking exotic fishing trips to places that were most known as a dot on a map.

Bel Lange left us April 1. He was 88. Lange now is pursuing all his favorite fish and game on the other side, happily knowing he imparted a great deal of knowledge to the outdoors-oriented public before he left.


It’s baby time in the hills, but keep your distance


It’s about the time that mother deer are having babies. Bear cubs were born in the winter, and with warming temperatures, the cubs are wandering alongside mom.

Baby wildlife this time of year teems everywhere.

It’s OK to look at the cute little babies, to ooh and ah. But unless you want to potentially sign their death warrant, do no more than look from a distance. Stay away from them.

Just because, for example, a fawn nestled into a secluded area does not under any circumstances mean baby has been abandoned. The doe will commonly tuck away the little one so she can adequately feed. When she’s ready, she’ll return for her little one.

If you approach the fawn, thinking it so cute, and pet it, regardless how innocuous that may seem, when the doe returns and senses your scent on her baby, she almost certainly will abandon the little one.

And, do not attempt to “rescue” the baby. It’s illegal in California to keep wildlife as a pet. If you see a baby you think might be abandoned, contact a California Fish and Wildlife warden. If the baby truly is abandoned, it will be taken to a rehabilitation center.

Interestingly, 400-500 fawns on the average are placed in rehabilitation centers throughout the state each year. Most are turned in by well-meaning persons who think the fawn was abandoned when, in fact, they aren’t.

Young animals are a thrill to watch. They frolic and follow mom closely.

So watch them, from a distance, but do not attempt to physically contact them.


Current fishing


The salmon opener proved good. When the strong north winds don’t blow, there has been outstanding fishing and opportunities just about everywhere.

Ocean salmon: The Bay Area fleet found flat-water conditions and good fishing around Deep Reef. Traditionally, salmon at the start of the season aren’t big smokers. Most of those caught were in the 10-pound class, but a 27-pounder was netted. Not every boat limited, but every boat had an average of one fish per rod — or better.

Fish were scattered up and down the coast in the Bodega Bay region. Water conditions and color were perfect, and the ocean is full of krill, a small shrimp salmon love to eat.

Those going out of Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg found the salmon bite tough. The morning bite was just about non-existent but picked up a little in the afternoon.

Local stripers: Stripers are everywhere. Boaters are scoring. Those slinging bait from shore are scoring from Clarksburg upriver to the confluence of the Sacramento-Feather rivers. Cut bait and blood and pile worms have been attracting bites. Take plenty of bait, however. There are a ton of shakers that love to peck at your bait until it’s gone. Most of the keepers are small, maybe 20-24 inches.

The lower American River is beginning to see more stripers coming in. You can anchor and soak cut bait or drift a jumbo minnow to get bit.

Lake Oroville: Want to catch 100 bass in a day? You can here, and the slot size limit was dropped this year. Some bass are in full spawn mode while others are still staging to spawn, so you have a lot of bass to try for from two feet deep down to 20. You can expect spots and largemouth to 2½ and an occasional four-pounder falling prey to what’s being thrown at them. Senkos, worms and jigs are getting well bit. Some noisy top-water gear is getting hit, and so are cranks. The action is great all around the lake.

Lake Berryessa: The closest point for those in the Placer County region is Markley Cove, just on the other side of the dam, reached by going through the little burg of Winters. Launch and drop your gear at the mouth of the cove. Stay in the top 20 feet of water and you’re going to get bit — rainbows, kokanee and king salmon. They’re all holding shallow, as large plankton blooms are appearing. You’ll find the action better if you let out at least 100 feet of line behind the boat. Bass are in the coves in spawning mode, and the action has been outstanding.

Jenkinson Lake: The CDFW hatchery truck showed up unannounced recently, and that has prompted a good trout bite. Get bait down around the first dam or the boat launch area, and you can get into a good bite. Cast-retrieve a lure with your second rod. This lake has nice mackinaw, and they’ll be chasing the small trout to feed on.

Folsom Lake: Bass are either in the shallows or still moving in so the action can be downright good. Jigging over rock piles or even drop-shotting are ways to get bit. Working the shallows, bass are slamming Senkos, swim, crank and jerk baits.

A pretty good salmon bite has been found in the dam region, some running to three pounds. Speedy Shiners or a threaded crawler behind a dodger has been working. You need to get down to 50 feet. There are even a few holdover ’bows being seen.

Camp Far West: Outstanding bass fishing right now. One angler reported nearly 50 hookups on bass to 2½ pounds. Plastics thrown into the shallows are getting slammed. I’ve done well this time of year throwing chartreuse cranks. Fish the coves 8-10 feet deep up Rock Creek arm or the coves up and down the Bear River.

Contact George deVilbiss at