The perfect stocking stuffer: a 2012 fishing license

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It doesn’t matter when you purchased the 2011 fishing license. It expires at midnight Dec. 31.

That means if you have any hope of fishing Jan. 1, you’ll be required to have a 2012 license in your possession.

The infamous Black Friday has come and gone with tremendous deals for shoppers. Unfortunately, there are no discount deals on the state’s requirement for purchasing the annual fishing license.

While many people party hearty on New Year’s Eve, a great number of outdoors-oriented people braving the winter cold and hit state waters on Jan. 1.

Lakes such as Camanche and Amador are in the middle of a strong trout-planting program, and both usually are further enhanced to entice the angling public.

The American River, from the power lines near Ancil Hoffman Park to the Hazel Avenue bridge, reopens to fishing on Jan. 1, and anglers generally are shoulder to shoulder vying for steelhead.

Some people purchase the fishing license as a stocking stuffer. Others will gift-wrap it.

With what it takes to purchase a license today, a great many outlets no longer carry them. The process is completely computerized.

The good news is you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to purchase the license and any stamps and report cards you may want. The down side is, if you’re purchasing it for a friend or family member, there is certain information you’ll have to have for the purchase to go through. The person’s name and date of birth are easy questions to answer. Knowing a state ID — a driver’s license number — may not generally be as easy to obtain, so you may have to slyly question the person to collect the necessary information.

Assuming you have all the information at hand, visit the Department of Fish and Game’s website at and click on the link for Online License Services.

If you purchased a license last year, your personal information already will be in the system and automatically will be retrieved once you enter the required data. Then, you simply identify what you want in your “cart” and enter a credit card number.

You’ll be able to print a temporary copy of the license with accompanying report cards and stamps. The real copy will be mailed to you within days, easily in time for Christmas.

There’s a small increase in the cost of the license, stamps and report cards every year, and 2012 is no different. Expect to pay:

• Basic sport fishing license: $44.85
• Second rod stamp: $13.78
• Steelhead report card: $6.74
• Sturgeon fishing report card: still free

Current fishing

There’s been a great amount of early morning fog throughout the Sacramento Valley and Delta. Unless you have radar on board, fog can make boating dangerous.

If you can’t see, that means your fellow boater can’t see you. It’s just too easy to have an accident. Secondly, it’s easy to lose track of where you are and how you got there. Fog is disorienting.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you not launch the boat so long as fog conditions exist.

Stripers: Again, it’s a fog issue. The Port of Sacramento is kicking out a fair number of stripers, but those being netted are small. If you’re satisfied with little schoolies, then go for it. The bigger fish, however, are still in the Delta region working their way up. If the fog lifts, hit Cache Slough near the mouth of the Deep Water Channel. Drifting big minnows, working jigs or trolling a variety of minnow imitators or ounce-and-a-half Hair Raisers should get you into a good, keeper striper. In fact, much of the water from upper Suisun Bay to the mouth of Cache Slough has been decent for linesides.

Ocean: It all depends where your favorite port is, the Bay Area or Bodega Bay. Crabbing and rock cod fishing are outstanding with limits of each the rule. A mixed bag of 10 rock cod, the possibility of a nice ling cod or two and six market-sized crab is what you should be bringing home.

Lake Berryessa: There are lots of trout to be caught if you find the bait balls of shad the trout stay on top of. It means getting down as much as 40 feet to get into them, though, and that generally means downrigger time. Haul something like a shad-patterned Needlefish, a small silvery lure or a threaded night crawler, and you should get well bit. Bass are the same way, as they’re hanging around where the food source is. Drop-shot and spooning should put limits of bass on the stringer.

Eagle Lake: This Lassen County lake will close to all fishing Dec. 31, not to reopen until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. For now, however, the wintertime catching remains good. Toplining flies in cinnamon or orange, two-inch Sep’s grubs in orange or even a Red Dog lure by Sure Catch all work well. Don’t discount hauling a crawler either. Flipping it into the underwater tulles and working it back generally gets you hammered this time of year.

Folsom Lake: Trout fishing is good. Throw in some landlocked king salmon and you can get a nice mixed stringer of fish in the 16-inch class. There isn’t much traffic on the lake so you can troll with little competition. The main body is holding the fish, and you only need to get down 35 feet.

Contact George deVilbiss at