Don’t wait; it’s time to apply for big-game hunting

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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If you hunted any of California’s big game last year, you should have received your copy of the “California Big Game Hunting” booklet for 2012 by now.

The arrival is highly anticipated by most hunters. Within the 80 pages is a variety of data that many hunters utilize to decide where they might hunt in the next year.

There is the deer section with statistics of the previous year’s hunt, the number of applications for hunts that may have had a limited number allowed, and what the competition for the available tags might have been.

I enjoy the listing of zones that details the hunt success, of deer antler sizes, whether they were forked horns, three points, four pointers or even better.

The most anticipated part is the section that details planned and proposed hunts for 2012.

Was there a decrease or increase in tags? When is the deadline for applying for the X zone deer tags, as they are awarded by a drawing.

The booklet has the same information for elk, various antelope and even bighorn sheep, all of which are special hunts requiring a separate application for the drawing.

You’re allowed to apply for and have no more than two deer tags. However, the tags can’t be in the same zone. If you have two deer tags, they have no bearing on your being successful in a drawing for a special hunt.

There’s the usual price increase for hunting licenses and tags. For the 2012-13 year, a hunting license costs $44.85. A junior hunting license costs $11.62. The cost is $7.05 for a disabled veteran. Licenses are valid from July 1 through June 30, 2013.

A first deer tag or the application for a tag requiring a drawing will cost $29.98. A second deer tag or application is $36.98.

Many hunters will carry the popular bear tag while they deer hunt just in case a bear stumbles by, as many bear seasons coincide with deer seasons. That tag costs $43.46.

The application fee for a special hunt is a non-refundable $8.13. If you’re drawn, the antelope tag costs $135.70 and the elk tag $404.

It’s strongly suggested you don’t procrastinate, especially if you hunt deer zones requiring a drawing or special hunt.

The deadline for applying is June 2. You can then chew your fingernails in anticipation of June 22, when you can find out the results by logging onto the Department of Fish and Game’s website at The results also will be available by phone.

Current fishing

Finally, we have an extended period of time with a clear sky, no wind and warming temperature. That’s an equation that will bring people out of the woodwork to nearby waterways — some to fish and many to boat recreationally. It’s going to get crowded quick.

Surprisingly, many high-elevation lakes are open for fishing despite the recent storms.

Weather and water-level wise, it should be a prime year for the annual popular shad run. Few are kept, as they’re a bony fish, but they’re a ball to catch, especially on light tackle. Watch this column for how to fish for shad and what you can do to make them wonderful eating.

Ocean salmon: The catching was pretty good for an opener, which was Easter weekend. Many boats had to cruise around to find fish, but most finally did and managed from one-half fish per rod to near limits for everybody on board. A boat here and there managed limits for everybody.

Many king salmon that were netted weighed between 8-15 pounds — perfect size for fillets. The bite wasn’t hot in the Fort Bragg region, and boaters had to range far from the mouth of Noyo to find “good salmon water.”

With improving weather and boats finding fish, the catching is only going to improve. All ports are forecasting a dynamite salmon fishing season.

Sacramento River: Some people don’t want to range too far from home, and they’re being rewarded with a decent striper bite from Garcia Bend upriver to the Verona region. Bloodworms will get you well bit, and a good chunk of an anchovy or sardine also will work. Sturgeon still roam the same region, so you can give them a try with eel, ghost shrimp or pile worms.

Folsom Lake: The good news is much more water is coming into the lake than what is being released, which means the level is constantly changing. Bass are moving into the shallows. Several offerings work, depending on the mood of the bass. Plastics worked slowly is always a good bet, but Senkos, jerk baits, swim baits, cranks and spinner baits work as well. There are trout and salmon, but the bite can be finicky and you can burn a bunch of gas to get bit.

Camp Far West: The lake is full and the water clarity improving. Many boaters are trying, and as the weather improves, bass will move into the shallows in hordes. Rock Creek arm is always heavily attended. The flooded trees and rocks of the dam area will always be a good bet, as will the many coves in the Bear River region.

Lake Amador: They’re still planting homegrown trout, and there are several anglers getting lines wet to get a stringer load. With the weather change, anglers look forward to bass working up to pre-spawn. The bite isn’t hot, but it’s getting started. Work plastics slowly.

Lake Oroville: The bass bite is improving as they begin their move into shallower water for spawning. However, most are still down 30 feet. Find incoming water and work the points. A jig and plastics will attract a bite. Many bass anglers are getting a chuckle. Salmon also are hammering the bass offerings.

Stampede Reservoir: The road is clear and boaters are launching. Hauling gear in the deeper water around the dam, brown trout and mackinaw are biting.
Kokanee also are on the bite, though it isn’t a wide-open bite. Nearby Prosser Lake is low, barely 30 percent. A few rainbows are being tallied. Boca Reservoir is a quarter of capacity. Rod-bending action is seen on the upper end, where the Little Truckee River feeds the lake. Those with car-toppers are launching off the shoreline to troll.

Contact George deVilbiss at