BY JIM NEIMEIC
NILAND– The arrival of cinnamon teal in big flocks saved what had been a pretty dismal waterfowl season for this part of the Pacific fly- way. Cinnamon and green wing teal began moving up from Mexico over a week ago, and along with large numbers of northern shovel- ers, it made for decent waterfowl gunning at refuges and duck clubs over the final week of the season.
Duck hunters are still talking about how slow the season was and are hopeful that next year will offer up better shooting. The lack of big diving ducks contributed to lesser weekly comp counts and per- haps all that rain that fell in the Pacific Northwest the last cou- ple weeks created ideal duck habitat and birds just didn’t make it this far south. The southern end of the San Joaquin Valley saw good numbers of teal and spoonbills arrive during the past couple of weeks that made for much improved duck hunt- ing on the Kern National Wildlife Refuge.
Wister Wildlife Refuge –Duck hunting was very good at Wister for both the Wednesday and Saturday hunts, but slow gunning for white geese. There were a total 172 GWT killed, to go along with 164 cinnamon teal and 240 shovelers. This popular refuge hosted 234 hunters for both shoot days, posting about a 3-bird average. For more details on hunting Wister Unit call the DFW on- site office at (760) 359-0577.
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge – Hunt- ing was slow all week with only a handful of geese taken on Wednesday and none reported shot on Saturday or Sunday. For more information on hunting this national refuge, which is managed by the Wister staff, call (760) 359-0577.
Finney-Ramer Unit – No report filed. Finney-Ramer is part of the Imperial Wildlife Area, lo- cated on the south end of the Salton Sea, is open to hunters 7 days a week under a self-regis- tration and self-reporting system. For more details on this refuge, which is also man- aged by the Wister Unit, call (760) 359-0577.
San Jacinto Wildlife Area including Mystic Lake – Nearly 200 hunters headed out to blind sites for the closing day of duck season and they had just fair hunting at best. Top ducks killed were GWT, cinnamon teal, gadwall, shovelers and rud- dy ducks that produced an over- all 1.33-per-gun average. For in- formation contact the wildlife office at (951) 928-0580.
Lake Perris – No word on when this lake will begin shoot- ing ducks again. San Jacinto Wildlife Area manages this hunting/fishing lake.
Prado Basin – Water backed behind the dam, but hunting in general was slow. Access to blinds was difficult for many club members and those who hunted from boats reported minimal shooting. The average per gun was about 3 puddle ducks and not many divers bagged.
Lake Henshaw (My Country Club) – No season ending report. Reservations are a must and there will be a daily draw- ing for blind sites. For more in- formation call (760) 782-3501.
San Diego City Reservoirs –Lake Barrett closed out the wa- terfowl season on a high note with 15 shore line hunters har- vesting 51 duck for better than a 3-bird average. Most of the ducks killed were ruddy ducks (27) and small divers.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge – Teal and northern shovelers made up the bulk of the ducks killed on Saturday. Hunters shot for just under a 3- bird average. Surprisingly, this past week saw this refuge give up 100 gadwall and 55 widgeon. The refuge shot for a 3-bird av- erage on Wednesday with the bulk of the ducks killed being spoonbills. For additional infor- mation on hunting Kern call (661)725-2767, or for the hunter information hotline call (661) 725-6504, which is updat- ed after each shoot day. A web- site is also available to access hunt results and other in- formation about this popular southern San Joaquin Valley hunting refuge.
Cibola/Lower Colorado River – Hunting was tough for geese in the valley and not much better for those that hunted the Island Unit and Hart Mine Marsh for ducks. No re- port from Palo Verde Reserve north of Blythe. For informa- tion on Cibola Sportsman’s Club at (702) 355-8784 or email them at hunt4geese@ ya- hoo.com. Contact the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge at (928) 857-3253 for shoot days and draw information on the Farm Fields and open hunting on the Island Unit
Northern California duck season ends with a whimper after a rush during the middle of the final week
BY DAVE HURLEY
LOS BANOS – The 2020/21 duck season in northern California has come to a close for adult hunters this past weekend, but there is a youth hunt on February 6/7th and a veteran and active military service hunt on February 13/14th along with some open areas for late goose season.
The final week had some highlights during the middle of the week when the wind was blowing hard and the rain came pouring down, but the weekend arrived with bright sunshine and a lack of wind on Saturday.
James Stone of Elite Sportsmen’s Guide Service in Sutter said, “We really got into the birds during the storms and at during any time that we had weather, but the last couple of days were really tough conditions. The mosquitos are already starting to come out with the temperatures in the 62 to 64-degree range.”
In the Los Banos area, Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “I wasn’t able to make it out during the storms in the middle of the week, but my blind partner, Tom Niccum, shot limits of teal along with snow geese. This season ended the way it started for me, and we stayed out on Saturday to 10:00 a.m. to see if the geese wanted to fly. They were just milling around and didn’t come to the blind. The ducks on Saturday were also lethargic as if they were tired from flying in the heavy winds. I was able to shot four out of five teal that came into the blind on Saturday, but the birds were sitting and not moving at all.”
Also in the Los Banos area, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Saturday was tough in the bright sunshine, but we had some south wind on Sunday, and the shooting was much better with a mix of teal and widgeon along with a speck. We are cleaning up our blind and club after finishing another year of shooting.”
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips was out three times during the final week of the season, and he said, “We had limits of teal twice when the wind was blowing, and I put a half-dozen mallards on a stringer the previous week.”
Out of his blind near Princeton, Mike Aughney of USA Fishing reported slow duck action on the final weekend of the season, but he said, “The action was good further south in the Grasslands near Merced.”