Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Aug 22 2013 05:25 PM

Steve Merlo: A look at game bird, waterfowl regulations, limits

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    Chris Jones from Taft proudly displays a huge 7-pound Vermilion rockfish he caught in 36-feet of water on a recent trip to Morro Bay. He fished with his wife Pat and outdoor writer Steve Merlo on the Jones' boat "Patty J Too." The trio caught their 30-fish limit in less than two hours.

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By STEVE MERLO, Contributing columnist

Crows, turkeys and ptarmigan remain the only gamebirds with no increase in possession limits this year.

Most, if not all (including waterfowl), possession limits have been changed to triple the daily bag limit from the usual double. Even so, be sure to check out a current hunting regulation booklet to get the whole picture on California bird hunting.

New waterfowl regulations set

Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone duck hunters will be able to start shooting on Oct. 5 with basically the same limits as in previous seasons, with one notable exception.

The possession limit has been increased to triple the daily bag limit, rather than the usual double, a huge step in the right direction, especially for shooters staying for trips lasting more than two days.

Once again, hunters will be able to take seven mallards per day, with only two being females. They'll also be restricted to just two pintails, two canvasbacks, two redheads and/or three scaup in their aggregate daily bag. Goose hunters will find the limit expanded this season to 10 birds per day, of which only six can be dark geese.

A split season on ducks runs until Oct. 20, closes for nearly two weeks, then reopens Nov. 2 and runs until Jan. 26. Goose season runs from Oct. 19 through Jan. 26.

Dove season dates

Another split season dove hunt will run its basic course in 2013. The opener will be on Sept.1-15, with an additional 45 days from Nov. 9-Dec. 23. Last year's limits will basically remain in effect: 10 mourning doves per day and no limit on Eurasian collared doves. There is no bag or possession limit on Eurasians, but the mourning dove possession limit has also been raised to triple the daily bag -- once again good news for the hunting community.

Why them and not us?

While a no-limit policy on Eurasian collared doves during the statewide regular season remains a good thing, Imperial County to our south has been blessed with an all-year, no- limit season on the out-of-control invasive species.

According to state wardens I've spoken to, hunters down south must have better eyesight than those shooters in our neck of the woods. We northerners don't have the same leeway because state biologists fear we'll make mistakes in identifying them from mourning doves. That must mean we have worse eyesight than they do in Imperial County, right, because they get to shoot them all year and we don't? What's up with that?

They claim Imperial County has a lot of Eurasians, but have you looked outside lately at our own problem birds? It might already be too late to control them here, but the powers that be ought to at least let us try.

Upland hunting

Mountain Quail hunters will find some decent shooting at the higher elevations when the mountain quail only season begins Sept.14 in special hunting zones north of Kern County.

The limit on the rare, beautifully marked and long, top-knotted birds will be 10, with triple the bag limit in possession.

The regular seasons on all quail and chukarwill begin on Oct. 19 and close Jan. 26. The daily limit on chukar is six, and all quail 10, with the new triple-the-daily-bag possession limit in effect for both.

Pheasant hunters seeking wild birds will have to go a long ways north to find good shooting when the season opens Nov. 11.

The limit is the same as always with two birds the first weekend, and then three per day until the closure on Dec. 22 with, you guessed it, triple the daily bag limit possession.

Smart hunters should try to take advantage of local pheasant hunts put on by special interest groups at prices far less expensive than running all the way up to Northern Cal. Contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information on these special hunts held all over the state and county.

Morro Bay Rockfish

Windy weather and 8-foot combined seas on Estero Bay didn't deter my friends Chris and Pat Jones from taking me out to catch a nice batch of black rockfish earlier this week on the Patty J Too private boat.

Fishing kelp paddies in only 36 feet of water near Cayucos, we caught and released lots of the hard-fighting gamesters until we finally finished upgrading our combined 30-fish limit. Chris also managed to catch a beautiful 7-pound vermillion rockfish out of the same hole.

Look for better weather to really heat up the action as huge schools of great-eating fish come shallow to munch on the incredible schools of baitfish and squid now present in the area.

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