Turkey hunters gearing up for the weekend

By: George deVilbiss
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It’s a hunting season anxiously awaited for by many of California’s hunters after being cooped up indoors for the winter, a sure sign that winter is officially all but over.


The state’s wild turkeys are looking to mate and this Saturday is opening day for spring turkey hunting season. It’s a liberal season, running from Saturday, March 27 through Sunday, May 2. In that time you can put one bird a day in the bag and a grand total of three.


The only restriction is that the turkey must have a visible beard protruding through the breast feathers. While the beard is predominant in adult males, occasionally you’ll find a hen with a beard. There is no restriction on the size or length of the beard; just that it be visible.


One of the biggest problems facing any hunter is where to go. These birds are a low elevation bird and that means private property. There are a few state-controlled areas, such as Spenceville Wildlife Area, but you can easily face a lot of competition.


There are hunting clubs that require a membership fee in order to gain access to various properties, and I’ve seen ads for guides for day hunts. If you don’t know a landowner, it wouldn’t hurt to knock on a lot of doors in turkey ranges and try to gain access to properties.


In the earlier days of turkey hunting, most hunters donned a massive amount of camouflage, sat absolutely motionless up against a tree, and attempted to call Mr. Tom Turkey within range. Since then, the sport has been refined considerably. There are decoys out there that look awfully close to the real thing. Set up a blind and you don’t have to sit totally motionless. You can fidget, play cards, read a book or just enjoy the scenery until a bird answers your call.



Lake Camanche: Well over 5,000 pounds of trout were planted in March alone. The still fishing and trolling has been outstanding, and bass are in pre-spawn and the bite has been better than decent.

Get on the water early, trolling, stay near the surface. As it warms and the sun gets on the water, then start dropping down. Small Rapala’s and flashy little lures along with a threaded night crawler are all working well. Some of the bigger bows are running 4-8 pounds.

Limiting on bass is more the norm than the exception right now and there’s just a ton of 3-4 pounders to latch onto. Roboworms have been working well. Most are being found down 10-30 feet still.


Lake Pardee: When the summertime heat sets in, the planted trout just about immediately bail out of the Rec Area Cove for the cooler waters of the main lake. Fishing success mid-summer is limited. The good news is that more than 25,000 pounds have already been planted in the short time it’s been open this year.

So, if you want in on some good shore fishing and rod-bending action, now is the time to go. With the ability to use two rods, hook one up with bait – Power Bait or a crawler. While you’re waiting to get bit on that one, cast-retrieve a lure with the other. Best spots remain around the Launching Ramp, Blue Herron Point, and the parking lot area behind Tom Sawyer Island.

If you want to get away from people, then take a boat and go trolling. Those getting the biggest trout, holdovers from earlier plantings, are going up the river starting at Columbia Gulch and going upriver as far as Indian Rock. Small spoons and Needlefish in pink or fluorescent orange-red are attracting ‘bows up to six pounds. Try tipping the lure with a crawler, grub or even a Power Worm.


Lake Amador: It may not be limits, but if you can walk away with two or three 5-pounders, you’ve still got a bunch of meat. They’re planting 3,000 pounds of trout a week and the trout are averaging five pounds. A lot of water has come into the lake and it’s 10 feet from full, which means they’re also now putting the trout in around the campground point, as well as around the dam.


Sacramento River: Quite a few anglers along the river, both on shore and in boats, soaking bait in the hopes of a sturgeon latching hold. More and more of the sturgeon trying is decreasing as more stripers are on the bite. The river seems full of stripers from Verona to Colusa and bait-dunkers are getting bit very well. There’s always a ton of shakers to wade through, however, and now is no exception, so take plenty of bait.


Collins Lake: They are in the middle of their heavy trout-planting program, which will continue for another month and a half. Some weeks, even two plants will be made in a single week. And the rod-bending action is fast, hot and furious right now with a big number of three-pounders and some nearly five pounds being netted. Trolling and shore-casting are all getting their share. There’s a lot of shoulder room on shore at the lower end of the lake around the dam, the swim beach and in from of the campgrounds.


Folsom Lake: If you’ve been out to Folsom lately, you’ll find more than just fishing boats out there. With the warming weather and the five-mile-per-hour speed limit having been officially lifted, there is more recreational boating on the lake as well as the anglers are hitting the lake’s open waters. Some trollers catch trout and salmon, others get skunked, but at least have fun trying. The old river channel running from the dam to Granite Bay has been some of the best region to try. Drop down 30 feet. A lot of different lures are working, so keep changing until you get bit.

The water is cold so the bass are still a tad slow to bite. Hit the back of coves where the water will be warmer and you can get into a better bite.


If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.