Application deadline near for Joice Island Unit pig hunt

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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The deadline for applying for a spot to hunt pigs in Solano County’s Joice Island Unit of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area is fast approaching. A number of hunts are being offered, so figure out when you’d like to go and get your application in.

A total of 24 two-day permits will be issued, and the Department of Fish and Game will offer these hunts to control what’s called a small population of the wild porkers.

If you’re drawn, just be aware it probably will be some of the toughest hunting you could get into because of the environment. The Joice Island Unit is a 2,150-acre wetland consisting of thick cattails, tules, brush and standing water, all great hiding places for the pigs to go under cover when you’re looking for them.

They aren’t the type of critter that will come to you. You have to dig them out of their hiding spots.

There will be one designated apprentice hunt and seven general hunts. The apprentice hunt, on March 3-4, is for juniors 12 years and older in possession of a Junior Hunting License. While only a hunter in possession of a Junior Hunting License may apply for an apprentice hunt, either may apply for and be drawn for any general hunt.

General hunt dates are March 10-11, March 17-18, March 24-25, March 31-April 1, April 7-8, April 14-15 and April 21-22.

Three hunters will be drawn for each listed date. Only drawn applicants will receive maps and additional information.

If you apply by yourself, you’ll be allowed to bring one non-hunting partner as companionship, one who can help you beat the brush to try and roust a pig from hiding, and to help with the critter should you be successful.

As the drawn hunter, you’re required to have a valid, current hunting license and California pig tag.

Now for the big kicker. No big-bore rifles are allowed in this flatland territory. Only shotguns using slugs and archery will be allowed, and you can bring and use your dog.

The deadline for applying is through the close of business on Feb. 10. The drawing will be held Feb. 14.

To apply, send a standard postcard with your name, valid hunting license number, address, telephone number and desired hunt date. If you’re an apprentice hunter, you’ll need to include the name of an adult or chaperone.

Mail the postcard to: Joice Island Pig Hunt, 2548 Grizzly Island Road, Suisun City, Calif., 94585.

You may apply one time and for only one hunt date. Multiple applications will get you thrown out, as will leaving out required information. Applications may have up to two hunters, and all the information listed above must be included for both hunters.

Current fishing

Still no rain and snow in the forecast, but there is a lot of winter left and plenty of time to make up the difference of what we don’t have. A recent snow survey put the surveyors on mostly dry ground — 14-percent of normal snowfall doesn’t equate to much water coming down the hill in the spring. Our snowpack was more than 200 percent at this time last year.

In case the storm doors open, you should be hitting the waterways right now, when water levels are more than adequate and most fish are more than willing to grab an offering tossed their way.

American River: Opening day-itis — Jan. 1 — is over. The reopening section of the river was crowded, but that quickly thins out after opening day. While there are many steelhead in the river, it hasn’t been outstanding catching. I’d guess much of that has to do with clear and lower water levels and anglers not adjusting for the conditions — lighter equipment. Steelhead are wary and easily spooked. If your offering looks natural to them, you get bit. If they get spooked by heavier lines, they’ll move on.

Some of the best catching has been in the basin between the Hazel Avenue Bridge and the dam, but don’t discount the stretch just down river on the south side below the hatchery and at Sailor Bar.

Only a hatchery-born steelhead can be kept. Between the dorsal fin on the back and the tail is a tiny useless fin called the adipose. If that fin is in place, it’s a natural steelhead and may not be retained. Hope you enjoy the battle, but unhook it and let it go. Just mark your Steelhead Report Card appropriately for the catch.

A hatchery steelhead has had its adipose fin clipped off. It’s legal to take home and eat.

Ice House Reservoir: This lake in the Crystal Basin region generally is snowed in and off limits now. That isn’t the case this year. Not only is it an easy drive, but launching is no problem with the lake just under 70 percent. Trollers are hammering limits regularly. A variety of gear is enticing bites. The old standby of a threaded crawler is always a safe bet, but a Sep’s two-inch grub is also working well.

Lake Camanche: North Shore is the closest drive and even for those with no boat offers some of the best shore fishing. There are great areas just west of the boat ramp. One group of anglers ventured near the primitive campground area and filled stringers of limits with everything going about two pounds. Power eggs, Power Bait, salmon eggs and crawlers are attracting a bite for those casting from shore with a sliding sinker rig.

Trolling around the North Shore ramp, going up the lake to the region around the Narrows and down the lake around Hat Island and the dam are showing success. A threaded crawler is always a good bet. Lures will work, but you’ll have to keep changing until you find the right one. My experience is, what you got bit on yesterday they may not want today.

Folsom Lake: To fish properly and hook up more fish, you’re going to spend more time scoping than casting-retrieving. You’re going to spend more time around the rock piles looking for a school of bait fish. The bass are keeping them close by for when the hunger pangs hit. Even when you do find a ball of bait — and surely bass hanging close by — there’s still no guarantee you’re going to get bit. You pretty much have to bounce your rig on their nose; irritate the bass to get him to snap at it or lightly mouth it to move it out of the way. Spooning, jigging and drop-shotting plastics are working.

An occasional trout or salmon is showing up for trollers using downriggers as deep as 55 feet mostly in the main body of the lake, but stick to the old river channel area. Action is far from even being rated good.

Contact George deVilbiss at