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Fishing regulations for 2001

OUTDOOR TALES:

January 11, 2001|By AL KALIN, Special to this newspaper

With 2001 already here, don't forget to buy a new fishing license before you go fishing if you are over age 16.

The fine for being caught without a license is equal to a new house payment, so I repeat, don't make the mistake of going fishing without purchasing a 2001 license. The law requires your license to be visible above your belt line in plain view. Special holders are available where you buy your license.

Since 1998, sales of fishing licenses have been going up 1.9 percent a year, but now that the state coffers are overflowing with money, our illustrious state Fish and Game Commission has seen fit to raise the fishing license price by 4.7 percent this year. Boy, they're sure doing a great job looking out for our interests, but when you look at the makeup of the commission, it makes sense.

Wouldn't it be nice if the governor appointed members who actually had an interest in the outdoors. In looking at the last two guys he appointed, one is the executive director of the Federation of State Conservation Voter Leagues, the trade association of 26 environmental political action committees. On a positive note, he is an avid bird watcher. The other one is Gov. Gray Davis' secretary of foreign affairs and is responsible for orchestrating the governor's trips abroad as well as receiving foreign dignitaries in California. Sounds like a real outdoorsy type of guy.

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The cost of a new fishing license is $29.40. A second-rod stamp is $9.45, a Colorado River stamp is $3.00 and a striper stamp is $3.75. An ocean enhancement stamp for fishing in the great Pacific is $2.65. So if you purchase all the stamps, the total cost will be $48.25. If you are not planning on fishing more than a few times per year, you can save money by getting a two-day license for only $10.75. A one-day Pacific Ocean license with the ocean enhancement stamp is only $6.85.

Fish limits remain the same as last year. You can catch 10 bass with no size limit. Fishing on the Colorado River or its backwaters the limit is six and fish must be over 13 inches long to match Arizona's laws.

The limit for striped bass and catfish remains 10 with no size limit. You can catch 25 crappie and an unlimited number of crayfish, carp, sunfish, bull frogs, tilapia, croaker and sargo. The limit for spiny softshell turtles is five. If you're in the mood for freshwater clams you can take 50 pounds in the shell. If anyone has any hints on clam digging, cleaning and cooking, please let me know so I can pass it on.

Grass carp are found in all of our canals and must be put back if caught. It is illegal to possess them.

The only other fish I haven't mentioned is trout. Two winter plantings of trout have already taken place in Wiest Lake and Sunbeam Lake and the limit is five.

My favorite method for catching trout is to use a floating bait leader. These fishing rigs are available in most stores that sell fishing tackle. They are tied using 3-pound monofilament line and contain two No. 16 or No. 14 gold-plated treble hooks as well a sinker. I like to bait both hooks with a piece of marshmallow and then a salmon egg, cheese, corn or a piece of worm. The marshmallow floats the bait up off the bottom above the moss and underwater weeds where the trout can get to the bait. A floating cheese bait is stocked by most fishing tackle stores that works excellent with this sort of rig.

There is nothing more exciting than hooking two trout at once while fishing with a floating bait rig. Be sure to use light line and keep your drag set loose. Early morning and late afternoon hours seem to be the best for catching trout.

As a kid I spent many hours helping feed the trout on our ranch at the Mojave State Fish Hatchery near Victorville. There was a special tractor with a large hopper of trout pellets that would be broadcast over the ponds as it traveled along. The trout looked like feeding pirhanas as the feed hit the water.

June 9 and Sept. 22 are designated as free fishing days in California this year. These are the days you can fish without a license. Just be sure you aren't caught using two poles.

Speaking of two poles, I have noticed some game wardens, while checking fishermen, often find extra poles that nearby fishermen claim are not theirs since they don't have a two-rod stamp and don't want a ticket. Ultimately the game warden takes the rod and reel. I wonder what happens to those extra rods and reels? Wouldn't it be nice if they could be donated to some of the youth groups or PAL associations here in the Valley so the kids could benefit?

Outdoor Tales columnist Al Kalin may be reached by e-mail at akalin@quix.net

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