Abalone dying along Sonoma County coast

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Divers plying the waters off the Sonoma County coastline in search of one of the most prized items anybody can put on the dinner table — abalone — are reporting dead or dying abalone just about everywhere.

That is not good news since these shellfish are slow to reproduce and their growth rate is slow.

Divers in the more popular diving regions, including Bodega Bay, Russian Gulch, Fort Ross, Timber Cove and Salt Point State Park, have reported dead and dying abalone.

Their sightings were reported to the Department of Fish and Game, which investigated a possible cause.

The die-off of these tasty shellfish has been attributed to a local red tide bloom and calm ocean conditions that fail to disburse the red tide. The red tide is a massive bloom of phytoplankton.

Other invertebrates, such as starfish, also have been affected.

Have a desire to be a wilderness cop?

The application deadline is quickly approaching for the California Game Warden Academy at Butte College in Chico.

Being a game warden is a tough job. You don’t work 8 to 5. It can mean long hours, working days one day and then all night.

It can mean protecting the wildlife and all other aspects of the environment. It’s a demanding job not meant for everybody. A game warden is the same as your local beat cop, really. He or she is a peace officer.

The deadline to apply for the academy is Friday, Sept. 16. Successful applicants will enter a 30-week program that is followed by at least three three-week assignments working with a seasoned field training officer. As a cadet, you’re trained to be police officers with specific emphasis on working as wardens.

More information and the online application can be found at

Applications are being accepted online and must be postmarked by the due date.

Dove season has come and soon to go

The first half of dove season opened last week. There’s been a good blast of continuing warm weather that tends to keep the birds in the region. Because of that, there were fairly regular shotgun blasts.

While many were able to unload the shotgun a time or two, few hunters in reality were able to bring home a limit.

By day two, the field was quiet. Many hunters commonly go opening day and call it quits after that.

The first half of the season will continue until Thursday, Sept. 15, with a daily bag limit of 10 birds and possession limit of 20.

Current fishing

It’s really that time of year. Fish everywhere seem to be on the lethargic side. Waters are warm, and so is the air. Last weekend was the final summer holiday, and traffic on all waters will decrease significantly, which will help fishing. A rainstorm and cool-down would be a tremendous help.

Local salmon: More salmon are trickling into the river system, especially on weekends. If you’re anywhere near the mouth of the American River at Discovery Park, you’ll generally find a tremendous amount of boat traffic vying for salmon. Hoping to get the first shot at them, many boaters are anchoring well below Discovery Park, and the fish have a maze of offerings to dodge. But, with increased numbers coming up, increased numbers are being caught.

Lake Berryessa: It doesn’t take long to get to this lake, a quick hop up the road out of Winters. Rod-bending action for king and kokanee salmon is outstanding. Some are hitting 19 inches. Try the channel around Skiers Cove. Smallies and largemouth are hammering drop-shot rigs, down as much as 30 feet off points.

Lake Pardee: Management has planted 68,000 pounds of rainbows while the DFG has contributed an additional 6,200 pounds. Have they all been caught? No way. The best area for boaters has been from Sugar Bowl through the Narrows and a bit beyond Mel’s Cove. Some have found action in the river arm, and most little flashy lures are working. Keep switching until you find what they want that day. Kokanee aren’t schooling yet, but that should happen soon. Best shore fishing in the Rec Area happens right after a truck shows up and dumps a fresh load of trout into the lake.

Bay Area: If you want to beat the heat, head for the Bay Area. You’ll be wearing at least a light jacket all day, and you’ll be rewarded with fish.
Salmon fishing has been better than fair, and it’s that time of year when salmon boats don’t have to go that far out to sea to find them. Boats headed to the Farallon Islands are being rewarded with limits of rock cod and big numbers of the highly favored lingcod. James Smith, skipper of the California Dawn, has had anglers dropping lines off the Marin County coastline to bag limits of a variety of bottom fish, and there have been days everybody aboard limits on lings.

Bodega Bay: Expect a combo trip. You can bottom fish for a while, which has been outstanding with limits the rule and a lot of lings, some weighing more than 20 pounds. If there’s enough time, they’ll go for salmon, and they’ve been adding a few Chinooks to the sacks.

Folsom Lake: One thing that will help is the holiday weekend is over. However, don’t look for the lake to bust loose until everything cools considerably. You’ll beat the water to death for just a few bites. Scope closely and watch for submerged trees and rock piles. Find the concentrations of bait fish and you might find a bass hanging close to their food source.

Contact George deVilbiss at


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