DFG sponsors turkey hunting clinic in Gridley

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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The spring hunt for the state’s gobbler population is highly anticipated by a great many. We’re less than a month away from the spring season.

A variety of breeds have been reintroduced into California over the years, mainly by the Department of Fish and Game. The turkeys have thrived to the point they’re considered pests by many landowners.

Turkey hunting success is much like fishing success — 10 percent of the hunting population will account for about 90 percent of the birds taken. In other words, those who take birds regularly know the intricacies and nuances of what it takes to be successful.

For the most part, the learning curve that will lead to a regular success rate has been done by doing and doing and doing, making alterations and doing again.

Nobody, even experienced hunters, will deny turkey hunting can be some of the hardest hunting there is. But you can flatten that learning curve by attending a DFG-sponsored clinic Saturday, March 3, at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Road, in Gridley.

The clinic costs $45 and will be conducted by Joe Johnson, a DFG biologist and an experienced turkey hunter and instructor. There is no fee for youths 16 years of age and younger, but he or she must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Class equipment will be provided by the DFG. Subjects will include decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling equipment, game care and safety.

I don’t hear lunch is being provided so you might want to pack an ice chest, as the clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Advance registration is required, and you can register at When you register, you’ll receive an e-mail with a map to the facility and a list of items you need to bring.

Current fishing

There hasn’t been much change in the weather pattern with mainly a clear sky. The March snow survey will be conducted by the Department of Water Resources this week and should show dismal figures. In the meantime, get out on the waterways in case the weather pattern does turn for a longer period of time.

Lake Pardee: The lake reopened to fishing on Feb. 17 and was well attended, as is generally the case. With a decided lack of storms, the water is clear and the lake level is 15 feet below spill.

Trolling has been a good way to go, and many boaters are foregoing trying to get into the recently planted trout. There’s been better catching around the river mouth on up the river toward Columbia Gulch. Most trollers are top-lining, but trout have been found in the top 10-25 feet. Some haul lead-core line, out three to five colors, while others drop their downriggers to desired shallower depths.

Even kokanee are biting. One angler nailed a limit of the little landlocked salmon up to 17 inches, unusual for this early in the year, but this year has so far been unusual.

It was a big disappointment for the shore-casting crowd on opening day. Anglers who stuck it out and tried again Saturday, the second day of fishing, found the action turned around. The best areas for putting rainbows on the stringer have been Rainbow Point and for those making the hike across the little dam at the end of the Recreational Area and hoofing it around to the opposite bank region.
Eggs and Power Bait in yellow and chartreuse have worked the best.
Lake management has planted 6,000 pounds of rainbows, and the DFG has added 3,000 pounds. Plants will continue weekly to enhance the fishery.

Lake Berryessa: It’s an easy hop, skip and jump to the lake. Troll near the shoreline with a shad-looking lure and you can do well on trout. Bass are deep. The many coves are kicking out good numbers of catfish already this year, and one of the top baits is a chunk of a hot dog.

Bodega Bay: It’s not often that shore casting produces much in this region, but now is the time. The surfperch bite is on and some really big fish have been caught, some to three pounds. Casting a black bass-type rig baited with one of Berkley’s sandworms, cast-retrieved, has been nailing good numbers for the shore triers. Rockcod fishing may be closed for those wanting to go out by boat, but those fishing rocky areas off the coastline have been getting a variety of bottom fish along with greenlings.

Sacramento River: Rain always spurs a bite. Hook a pile worm on a big hook, add maybe a ghost shrimp or two on the same hook, get it on the bottom of the river, and the chances of getting bit by a sturgeon has been pretty good. The bite has been decent all the way to Colusa. There are plenty of launching facilities along the river.

Stampede Reservoir: In a normal year, there’s no getting anywhere near this lake this time of year. But this year isn’t normal, so some actually are launching a boat. Trolling can be successful, but it can be a hair-raising event launching a boat. The main problem is ice. If you don’t have four-wheel drive and chains on all four, don’t even think about it. You might be hard-pressed to get a tow truck to tow you out of the water without chains and four-wheel drive. The lake level is good, however, and rainbows and mackinaw are being taken by the few who try by trolling near the dam.

Camp Far West: Still a good water level and no problem launching at the North Shore ramp. Good bass catches have been reported recently with a decent number of bucketmouths running three and four pounds. Rock Creek and the many coves along the Bear River are producing for those tossing plastics.

Folsom Lake: Top-line for rainbows and drop down 25 feet or more for salmon. Action isn’t hot, but fish all the depths and you can better your chance of getting a nice, mixed bag of trout and salmon. A crawler behind a small flasher is always a good bet, and some lures work well. Keep swapping until you find what they want that day.

Find structure on your scope and you can find bass. Roboworms and some tubes worked over structure, a good 20 feet down, has been finding bass, but remember, it’s that time of year when you have to work them slow.

Contact George deVilbiss at