Hunters await the first heavy rains of autumn
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By Bill Hanson  October 5, 2012 12:00 am

Sportsmen’s Report

One night after 10, I looked up to the east. High on the Mayacamas above Cotati, a huge vineyard was alive with bright lights, trucks and tractors loading the steel bins. I asked farmer Bob Demple what the deal is with midnight harvest. He said it is much cooler for the workers. The daytime line for the trucks to unload at the wineries is gone at night for now. Although as a hunter, mushroomer and fisherman, I await the first heavy rains of the fall season with great hope. On the other hand, I want nature to give the farmers time to harvest what promises to be a bumper crop, before the rains come.

Salmon watch
On the fishing front, some salmon are being caught in the big rivers. The bright-colored fish, fresh from the ocean, are giving way to dark fish that have been in fresh water longer. Their next step in their life cycle is spawning in the small tributaries. Trout and freshwater bass are holding in deep water and shaded undercuts to escape the late season heat. I was in Truckee recently, where Kokanee are biting in very deep water in Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. Small streams are yielding brook and rainbow trout.

The brackish water of San Francisco Bay is producing halibut and striped bass, as the cold water of the bay is largely unaffected by surface temperatures. The mouth of the Petaluma and Napa rivers has been a hotbed of action for fishers. Grass shrimp, bullhead, ghost shrimp and bloodworms are all great baits.

In saltwater, the big bite is lingcod, Cabazon and rockfish. Also, Pacific halibut are high on the list. Out to sea, where the cold Japan current circling though the icy Bering Sea merges with warmer water near shore, baitfish swarm. Where
baitfish swarm, so do tuna, and other predators. It is not too late to catch albacore and fill your freezer with tasty fillets.
Divers are enjoying the fall ocean, abalone and near shore spear fishing.

Stillwater hosts games

“The Ghost Games” are this weekend.  There will be underwater pumpkin carving, treasure hunting, competition underwater navigation, and lots of prizes, food and fun. You can camp with their group at Stillwater Cover County Park or in several of the other nearby campgrounds. Contact the dive group for details at, call 586-0272 or drop by Bamboo Reef.

Hunting tips
Deer hunting in the B-zones has been spectacular. The halfway point has already passed, but be aware of forest fires. They are nearly all out at this point, but don’t expect to find deer anywhere nearby a recent fire. In the end, the spring will bring lots of fresh browse in the burned areas, great for healthy, young fawns and their mothers.

Pigs are out in surprising numbers. Most hunters are bagging very small wild boar, which is a result of excellent food resources for the sows. Some sows are having two or more litters in good times. As a hunter, I welcome the population increase, as a life-long naturalist, I worry about the damage the feral pigs do to the native environment.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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