AB 711 would ban lead ammunition for hunting

Fishing report: Water is great for fishing at Eagle Lake, Feather River
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It may not seem like it, but it’s been more than a generation now that lead shot was banned for all waterfowl hunting and replaced with materials such as steel.

In regions where the condor soars, all lead-based ammunition has been banned, and the condor has made a great comeback from nearly depleted numbers.

Now there’s a move in the state Legislature to ban all lead ammunition via AB 711. That means you can’t be in possession of any lead-based ammunition for all hunting anywhere in the state. Stores would have in stock nothing but non-lead ammunition.

AB 711 recently passed its committee test with vote of a 9 ayes, 5 no’s and one abstain to advance to the Assembly Floor. If it becomes law, the ban would take full effect in 2016.

When I contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, I was told the bill was under review and DFW hadn’t taken a position. Now that the bill is advancing, there is an urgency factor if you’re like many recreational shooters and hunters that oppose the bill.

If you oppose the bill, contact your legislator immediately. The vote could come soon.


Lake Almanor: Nice fish are there, just no limits


There has been considerable press touting the outstanding fishing happening at Lake Almanor; from firsthand experience, not quite.

We have a summer place at Lake Almanor and recently set up the area. With a hunting partner and his wife in his boat, we’ve been doing exploratory fishing all over the lake.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife recently dumped some 60,000 baby salmon, the three-, four-inch fry. Can you say, “Gulp-gulp?” Many will be food for trophy rainbows, brown trout and bass. Survivors will top out at maybe three pounds.

Additionally, the Lake Almanor Fishing Association raises baby rainbows all winter and releases them in the spring from their pens in Hamilton Branch. As they munch on the population of Japanese Pond Smelt, they’ll grow rapidly from their current eight inches.

There is little competition. Few boats are in search of the trophy-sized trout in this lake.

We started at what we call the “Brown Hole,” near the Dorado Inn on the east shore along Highway 147. After two or three passes without a hit, we trolled through the nearby large cove at Lake Cove. Not until we hit the outer corner on the south end did we pick up our first fish, a nearly three-pound King salmon.

We trolled shallower water, deep water, from the south end of Lake Cove toward the dam, along the east and west shores and in the middle. Not a bump.

Total for the first day out was one German brown and two salmon.

On the second day, we went to the west side of the Peninsula, fishing from the point to Rec 2. We had one hit. We trolled above Rec 2, from the first point to the second point, and scoped a lot of fish, including many big fish.

With 6½ colors of lead core and the downriggers 34 feet in 43 feet of water, we managed a fair bite. We kept three browns to 3½ pounds and a couple 2½-pound salmon, releasing quite a few smaller salmon.

On the third day, we trolled from Big Springs to Big Cove, continuing south to Rec 1.  Until we got to Rec 1, we lost one fish and netted one nice salmon. Famed A-Frame even showed no fish on the scope. When we got out from Rec 1, we scoped a large number of fish and picked off a couple of 2½- to 3½-pound browns.

Overall, and the other anglers I’ve talked to all agree, there is no concentration of fish anywhere. They’re scattered. You can expect to catch a couple of really nice fish every trip out. Just don’t expect limits.


Current fishing


Eagle Lake: Memorial Day weekend means the annual opening for fishing at this lake. According to George Walker at the Eagle Lake General Store, the lake is in pretty good shape with full launching at even the north end. The launching facility at the middle of the lake — Spaulding Tract — should be good until at least the Fourth of July holiday.

The California Inland Fisheries Foundation, Inc., is responsible for raising trout specifically designated for Eagle Lake, and the trout were planted in the Wildcat and Eagle’s Nest areas, according to Walker — 3-pounders-plus — and she forecasts fishing in this region will be outstanding. For the holdovers, the Youth Camp, Pelican Point and Shrimp Island areas should provide great fishing for the opener.

Feather River: You couldn’t ask for better-looking fishing water. You won’t find the usual waterfalls along the Feather River caused by snow run-off. Because there isn’t any snow up here to melt off, the river probably is in its summer mode of flow that you’d normally see in August. There is great access all along the river. You can get great drifts in what would be considered some of the faster water, and you can get great drifts fly fishing the numerous quiet-water pools.

Deer Creek: All along Highway 32 out of Chico, from just after the turn-off to Butte Meadows and then to where it ends at Highway 36, you have Deer Creek beside you most of the way. Access is easy, and it, too, is in summer flow mode. The stream is regularly planted by DFW, and fishing success should be excellent right now.

Bay waters: Live bait is available at the Berkeley docks and attracting bites in the main body of San Francisco Bay and even some in the South Bay, best around Candlestick Park. Limits are rare, but at least one fish a round usually is found with a mix of stripers and halibut. There also has been a flurry bite on schoolie stripers in the Napa River.

Ocean salmon: It’s been a long run for boats headed out under the Golden Gate Bridge. Fish are being found out by the Farallons. If you ride a party boat, it’s been mainly limits to near limits of mostly 8- to 12-pound salmon with an occasional smoker in the mid 20s. Strong north winds have hampered a good portion of the fishery at “Blow-dega” Bay. If you’re planning a trip, be sure to call your skipper the day before to see if they’re fishing.

At Fort Bragg, the action has been even more bleak. Here, you catch salmon when they come by. They don’t really hold in these waters, and there just haven’t been many in the area. Most boats are coming back skunked.

Contact George deVilbiss at