There is more than one way to hunt fall turkeys for success

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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After last week’s column announcing the opening of some bird seasons, including turkeys, one reader a few years ago was quick to inform me there is an alternate method of hunting these birds.

During the spring hunt, it’s breeding time for turkeys. You simply set up a hen decoy, stay hidden, do some calling, and if there’s a lonesome tom around, he’ll often come running thinking he has a lady in waiting.

It’s not quite that simple for the fall hunt. Birds usually are in separate groups, hens and jakes in one, toms in another.

At night, they roost in trees and at the crack of dawn they’ll fly down to go for water and feed. Unless they’re disturbed, they’ll maintain their separate groups in the trees and on the ground.

And that’s where you come in.

If you want the best chance of bagging a turkey during the fall hunt, you need to get into the field and do some research. Since the early days of turkey hunting, especially in the fall, a common method of pursuing these birds was to find out where they roost. You also need to know where they eat and drink.

Once you know where they are, you run like the dickens toward the group, with or without a hunting dog, to shake up and scatter the flock. More than likely, you won’t stand a chance of getting a shot at this point.

But once they’re scattered, bury yourself in the natural habitat and begin calling. They’ll want to regroup, and one by one, they’ll do just that. By calling, you can be the center point of their re-gathering point.

Give it a try.


Current fishing


Many boaters have put away their watercraft for the winter. That’s a bad idea, especially if you’re an angler. There is hot rod-bending action going on that you should be getting into. Early mornings tend to be on the chilly side, but by midday, you can be down to a T-shirt, so simply dress in layers.

Lake Tahoe: Mickey Daniels has one of the largest boats you’ll ever see on Lake Tahoe, a 55-footer that looks more at home on the ocean than on this lake. It’s a comfortable ride, and he’s extremely successful at mackinaw, especially this time of year. Mickey is on the north side of the lake at Carnelian Bay, and you board the boat before the crack of dawn. Lately, he’s been back at the docks well before noon because everybody has limited. Keepers usually range from five to seven pounds.

Crystal Basin: Trolling is tremendous at Ice House Reservoir at the lower end and Loon Lake at the upper end. It’s nothing unusual to have 40-fish days, and you can play catch and release to your heart’s content. Haul a small flashy lure or thread on the tail-end of a crawler. Fish are being found in the top of the water column so stay shallow.

Stampede Reservoir: It’s a good time to hit this lake before storms dump snow and restrict access. German brown trout spawn in the fall, and they’re followed by the rainbows who hope to feed on errant, unprotected eggs. Don’t fish the main body. Launch the boat and head to the two main arms, Little Truckee and Sagehen. Action on brown trout and rainbows can be good.

Clear Lake: A true bass angler won’t even consider using live bait, but the best winter bass fishing is done with live minnows, and getting 20 bass per day generally is no problem right now. A variety of artificials are working, however, just not with the regularity of a minnow. If you want to stick with artificials, keep changing until you get bit. What bass look for changes daily.

Lake Pardee: Rod-bending action has improved, mainly for trollers, but remember, the lake will close Sunday, Nov. 4. Trolling just inside the Narrows, a close run from the boat ramp, has shown good results for those top-lining or using downriggers to 30 feet.

Lake Camanche: Remember, this Saturday is Derby Day. Tons of rainbows are going to be pre-planted. Among them, 100 fish will have award tags of at least $500 each. Additionally, there will be about $4,000 in prizes for up to 20th place. A ticket to enter is $35 in advance and $45 at the door. A BBQ lunch is included.

Caples Lake: Limits of rainbows are being taken by shore casters. Better hit it now. If the storm doors open, the lake will revert to boring a hole through ice. Those fishing the dam-spillway area are limiting. With a two-rod stamp, soak salmon eggs, Power Bait or a crawler and then cast-retrieve a lure with the other. If you take a boat, a crawler behind a dodger or even a small Rapala down 20 feet are getting bit.

Butt Valley Lake: It will hardly be the prettiest environment in the aftermath of the Chips Fire. However, the lake is in excellent shape at about 90 percent of capacity. Except for some snow runoff, the lake receives the majority of its water from Lake Almanor. You can pretty much have the lake to yourself and get into some nice rainbow and brown trout, some of which are going four and five pounds. Haul a crawler behind blades. Not necessarily big numbers, but those being caught generally are quite hefty.

Folsom Lake: The main action is still for landlocked king salmon. The bad news is that they’re still in the deeper ranges, meaning you’ll need a downrigger to get to 60-65 feet. You’ll find the salmon in really deep water — in front of the dam and the old river channel. Bassing is rated fair with largemouth, smallmouth and spots all hanging around rock piles. Watch your scope for bait, and then drop-shotting, jigging or even using cranks can get you bit.

Lake Amador: They’ve begun fall-winter plants of their homegrown cutthroat-rainbow trout. A good dump of fish ranged from two to five pounds. Early in the morning, you can top-line troll or fish from shore around the dam-spillway and do well. Bass are munching on shad so a variety of hardware is getting bit, even some top-water gear. Just be sure to use something that might imitate what they are chasing — shad.

Contact George deVilbiss at