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It’s salmon season here in California. Well, technically, it’s preseason. The season opened on April 4 and despite all the concern over the drought, anglers and marine biologists alike are expecting a very healthy return of king salmon (aka chinook) to come back to spawn in California rivers. This preseason extends through the end of April, at which point the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will make a determination on the rest of the season.
Early results have been good. Virg’s Landing out of Morro Bay, California, reported limits on some of their trips during opening weekend. Read what the experts are predicting for this year’s California salmon season.
The celebrated king salmon of the West Coast won’t be as abundant as last year, but ocean fishermen can still expect to reel them in by the score despite a third year of drought and potentially dire conditions in California rivers, fisheries biologists said Wednesday.
The National Marine Fisheries Servicepredicted Wednesday that 634,650 fall-run chinook salmon from the Sacramento river system would be out in the ocean this year, a good sign for local commercial and recreational fishermen and women whose livelihoods aren’t likely to be threatened by major restrictions.
“The abundance forecast is pretty large,” saidMichael O’Farrell, a fisheries service biologist, during a presentation at a California Department of Fish and Wildlife meeting in Santa Rosa packed with at least 150 fishermen, biologists, educators and government administrators.
Photos: Virg’s Landing
It wasn’t that long ago that a majority of the country was locked into a winter weather pattern. My social-media feed was filled with posts reading something like, “I can’t wait ’til summer to go fishing!” Well, now that spring has sprung, it’s definitely not too early to think about summer and making those plans to make some new summer fishing memories.
In my region, that means it’s time to look at the calendar, pick some dates, and get your buddies together to head offshore to fish for tuna, dorado, and other pelagic species. Wherever you may be, though, summer offers a variety of fishing opportunities. Here’s an oldie but goodie from Field & Stream to remind you.
When rivers heat up in late summer, smallmouths can get downright lazy. The same fish that charged fast-moving streamers and poppers earlier in the season often take to feeding at night, and if your river is loaded with late-summer shad or herring fry, getting bass to eat fur and feathers becomes even harder.
Delaware River smallmouth guide Joe Demalderis (crosscurrentguideservice.com) gets around this by leaning on bugs tied with synthetic fur and fiber for the salt, such as a Mushmouth. Flies tied with Angel Hair or Puglisi Fiber retain more buoyancy and a wider profile when wet compared with flies using feathers, bucktail, and rabbit fur, which take on water and sink faster.
Demalderis casts those artificials on the outside of bait schools or in the deeper, slower runs summer smallmouths frequent, and lets them fall broadside with the current. Whereas a Zonker or Clouser would sink away quickly, these synthetic baitfish imitators flutter down slowly, presenting a more accurate representation of a dying baitfish—and an easier target for lazy bass. Even if you don’t want to use saltwater flies, incorporating some synthetic fur geared for the salt into your favorite smallmouth patterns can up your dog-day catch rate.
Photo credits: Field & Stream
I first met Jim Sammons at the 2011 Fred Hall Show in Del Mar, California. Jim was sitting in his booth and I was drawn to a video he had playing on a loop. The video showed him fighting a marlin in a kayak. At that point, I hadn’t fished from a kayak, and the idea of fighting a marlin from that kind of a fishing platform seemed, well, insane. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to fish a little from a kayak. It’s a completely different experience from the sport boat fishing I’m used to doing.
Having some perspective on it, I’m sure now that Jim is insane! Here’s a trip report from one of Jim’s recent excursions to Panama.
Quiet moment of Jim on his kayak
I have been to Panama to kayak fish three times, twice with Pesca Panama and most recently with Paddle Panama, and I can say honestly it is one of my top destinations.
The quantity, quality and variety of fish is like no other place I have been. Unlike my first two trip with Pesca Panama, the trip with Paddle Panama is a land based “camping” trip in a remote area known as Bahia Honda.
On the trip with me were James McBeath from Jackson Kayak and Ben Roussel one of my Jackson Kayak teammates. Both James and Ben have already written up their reports on the trip as seen below.
Photos: Jim Sammons
The mola mola, aka sunfish, is a fairly common sight for us Southern California anglers. I’ve seen them as far north as Santa Monica Bay, and then south to deep below the Mexican border off the Baja coast. Typically, you’ll see a big shadow in the water and wonder, Whoa! What’s that? And then you see it’s a mola and you’re disappointed. I don’t know anyone who’s eaten one and never seen one bite a hook. They eat jellyfish, so how are you going to bait up for them?
I’ve never known much about them until recently coming across the following blog post from The Nature Conservancy.
When it hatches, a Mola mola is the size of a pinhead but will grow to be the heaviest bony fish in the ocean—and the weirdest.
The weirdness begins with the eggs. A female Mola mola or ocean sunfish produces more eggs than any other vertebrate on earth.
One modest-sized female had an estimate 300 million eggs inside her.
At birth, the baby fish are protected by a star-shaped transparent covering that looks like someone put an alien head inside of a Christmas ornament—albeit a very small only a tenth of an inch across.
Even as a baby, the Mola mola has its parents’ surprised look with the wide eye and open mouth.
Photos: The Nature Conservancy
If you walk down the aisle of a tackle store, navigating the soft plastics section can be daunting to even the most experienced angler. It is a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, colors, and scents. How do you make sense of it all? Once you settle in on some packages of plastic lures, then you have to figure out how you’re going to rig them as you stroll down the hook aisle. You ask for help and you wonder whether or not the salesman really knows what they’re talking about.
It’s enough to make you abandon your shopping cart and run screaming out of the store. This article from Wired2Fish breaks down the mystery of fishing with soft plastics.
The best way to develop your feel for bites is by bassfishing with soft plastics. It requires patience to fish with these lures generally speaking because you have to feel the fish pick up or bite the lure, often when it’s not moving. There won’t be a big splash like a topwater or a hard tug like a crankbait. And knowing which plastic to use for different situations for bass fishing will eliminate a lot of wasted time on the water.
This category could take ages to explain so we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. Soft plastics are essentially combinations of salt, plastic, sand, glitter, and coloring shaped and formed into anything that can be perceived to be alive by a bass. There is an amazing array of colors, shapes and sizes when it comes to soft plastics and there are hundreds of different types plastics available.
Trying to film a bull elk up close during the rut is a bad idea; the tourists in this video learned that the hard way.
The annual Autumn elk rut is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Yellowstone National Park.
Each year, thousands of tourists observe and photograph elk herds from their cars along the park’s roads.
But the rut can be a highly volatile time of year to observe elk, especially the bulls.
During the rut, bull elk become irritable, aggressive and fiercely protective of their females.
In this video, some elk watchers try to get too close to an aggressive bull elk in one of Yellowstone’s more pedestrian parks.
To defend his females, the bull elk lets out his mighty bugle and rams his huge rack into the tourists’ cars. Some of the yahoos in this video were lucky the didn’t get hurt.
The bull elk bugle is one of the most incredible sounds in nature. It can be heard for miles in open territory, and Yellowstone National Park has plenty of that.
During the summer, the park’s wide swath of land plays host to 10,000-20,000 elk across 6-7 different herds.
Have you observed elk during the rut in Yellowstone National Park? Share your experience in the comments section below.