Community Sports

Thursday, Mar 07 2013 06:27 PM

Steve Merlo: Excellent fishing close to home

By The Bakersfield Californian

Warming temperatures have finally put a kick into hibernating fish this week as local lakes and ponds have shown a dramatic increase in biting fish.

After four plants in as many days last week, the Riverwalk Park, located at Buena Vista Road and Stockdale Highway, remains the best spot to catch a limit of rainbows. Some good-sized fish are hitting, with the average length between 13-17 inches. While bait fishermen dunking power bait are taking the most fish, fly fishermen working sub-surface flies are also doing well. A few fish to over 5 pounds are also showing, all leftovers from Saturday's derby.

While fishermen are trying to think of devious ways to outwit the trout- munching cormorants at Truxtun Lake, bass fishermen there are enjoying a bonanza of seemingly unbothered big fish that have swarmed into the shallows. With a lot of 3-pound largemouth showing, plus an occasional fish topping 6 pounds, persistent anglers are reaping the rewards of these pre-spawn fish. Jigs and spinnerbaits seem to be the most effective lures.

Buena Vista's Lake Webb has also turned on to good numbers of bass as water temperatures soar. The fish are shallow -- 2-3-feet -- and are hitting a good variety of lures. Crappie fishermen are also scoring around visible cover, with the average fish running around a pound. The papermouths are hitting minnows and small jigs.

The California Aqueduct has suddenly come alive with good numbers of striped bass hitting on artificials and drifted cut bait. The majority of fish are yet under the magic 18-inch mark, but plenty of keepers are now showing as the linesiders prepare for their annual spawning run. Unfortunately, the moss has returned to aggravate anglers, but persistence will pay off. Not quite as bad as last year, the gooey green stuff collects on anything left in the water too long.

Bass anglers traveling to Porterville's Lake Success are also finding outstanding action in the shallows. With fish hanging from 4-12 feet deep, jig, spinnerbaits and worm fishermen are catching lots of fish from 3-5-pounds, though most are in the smaller ranges.

All in all, next week's scheduled heat wave into the high 70s and low 80s should bring most gamefish shoreward for the beginning of their annual spawning runs. Look for crappie and bass to lead the way this month, followed by catfish and bluegill later in the spring.

CDA Banquet

It's not too late to purchase tickets for the 12th annual California Deer Association Banquet, raffle and auction held at Hodel's Restaurant on March 22. Proceeds for the event remain entirely in California to support the increase of state deer herds and to improve valuable habitat.

Look for lots of quality guns and outdoor gear to be given away. Contact event chairman Steve Hamblet at (661) 589-9685 or (661) 706-9686 for more information.

Eurasian collared doves

Several years ago I wrote a column discussing the sudden influx of Eurasian collared doves into our area, where I suggested the invasive specie would someday push out our own native songbirds and game birds. Eurasians at that time were just getting a solid foothold in other parts of North America, including Florida, where more than 5 million of the birds had already outnumbered the native mourning dove, nearly pushing them out of existence.

Some states such as Arizona quickly enacted new laws to control the foreign birds, including all-year hunting with no limits.

California, however, decided to not allow unlimited all year hunting, but instead made them non-limited targets only during the regular and late dove seasons. Recently, when I questioned those inane laws to DFG biologists, their answer was that they did not feel hunters could easily discern the difference between our own native mourning dove and the new invasive specie.

Talk about governmental nonsense! The mourning dove is already one of the most populous gamebirds in the U.S. and North America, that, quoting from another biologist from years ago, "Can be harvested, killed, trapped, blown up or shot year around without damage to their populations."

That said, a few mistakes taking out the Eurasian should not have any bearing on the matter, though one might be considered legally blind if he did make a "mistake."

The difference between the two is obvious: Size, color, speed, wing beat, sound and nesting differences between the two are easily visible to all but the most non-seeing or non-caring person. To even insinuate that hunters would not be capable of separating the two species in flight or on the ground is a slap in the face to all decent hunters everywhere. Oh, and birdwatchers? Kiss your songbirds goodbye and get used to seeing nothing but Eurasians in your binoculars. The birds are increasing and here to stay.

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