SoCal Ducks are still largely missing in action
BY JIM NIEMIEC
RIVERSIDE – It has not been very ducky weather in this portion of the Pacific flyway the last couple weeks. Winds have not blown on shoot days and temps have been reaching up into the mid-90s and it’s still winter. WON hunted the Wasco area on Saturday for very poor shooting, even at a private duck club with a total harvest of just 2 spoonbills. Very little shooting was heard across the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley.
The San Jacinto Wildlife Area offered up extremely poor shooting for the Saturday hunt with nearly 200 shooters heading out to duck blinds. The total harvest of ducks was 159 for less than a 1-bird average and hunting was so slow that hunters turned to coot shooting, which added another 42 birds to the comp count.
Goose hunters who shot the Union Tract of the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Area on Saturday shot total of 31 snow geese and 7 Ross’ geese, but no geese were harvested on Sunday.
Wister Wildlife Refuge – Hunting was fair at best for the 300 hunters who hunted this past week. The total harvest of ducks for both the Wednesday and Saturday hunts was 700, along with a handful of snow geese for just a little over a 2-bird per shooter average. Top ducks shot were green winged and cinnamon teal, gadwall, pintail and shovelers. This popular refuge shoots on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. For more details on hunting Wister Unit call the DFW on-site office at (760) 359-0577.
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge – Hunting was slow for the Wednesday shoot with only one snow goose shot, but hunting improved on Saturday with 31 snows bagged along with 16 ducks. Hunting pressure was light for both shoot days. 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, located on the south end of the Salton Sea, is open to hunters 7 days a week under a self-registration and self-reporting system. For more details on this refuge, which is also managed by the Wister Unit, call (760) 359-0577.
San Jacinto Wildlife Area including Mystic Lake – Slow hunting was offered for the Saturday hunt with only 159 ducks killed. Top duck on the comp list was the GWT with 47 bagged to go along with 29 shovelers. Shoot days are Wednesday and Saturday and draw time is 3 a.m. For information contact the wildlife office at (951) 928-0580.
Lake Perris – No word on when this lake will begin shooting ducks again. San Jacinto Wildlife Area manages this hunting/fishing lake.
Prado Basin – Duck hunting remains slow in the basin with just a few new ducks arriving. Clubs are averaging about 2 birds per hunter.
Lake Henshaw (My Country Club) – No report this week. Reservations are a must and there will be a daily drawing for blind sites. For more information call (760) 782-3501.
San Diego City Reservoirs – Hunting was on the slow side this past week with a mix of small puddle ducks and divers bagged. Overall, the average was just about 1.5 birds a gun, with many hunters turning in ruddy duck counts.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge – The Wednesday hunt at Kern was decent with a total of 106 hunters killing 337 ducks and couple of geese for a 3.18-bird average. Top duck on the comp count list was the shoveler with 85 taken to go along with 57 gads. For additional information on hunting Kern call (661) 725-2767, or for the hunter information hotline call (661) 725-6504, which is updated after each shoot day. A website is also available to access hunt results and other information about this popular southern San Joaquin Valley hunting refuge.
Cibola/Lower Colorado River – No reports were sent from Palo Verde Wildlife Preserve, Cibola Sportsman’s Club or Cibola National Wildlife Refuge this week. For information on booking a couple of days in a goose blind while staying in a South Ranch cabin call the Cibola Sportsman’s Club at (702) 355-8784 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Teal showing up in the south valley with a few more duck pouring into the north valley, but bright skies and warm weather dominate through the end of the season
BY DAVE HURLEY
LOS BANOS – The 2020-21 duck season in California will be remembered as one of the least-productive in recent memory, and the lack of winter weather is a major factor in this assessment. After a single day of heavy rain a few weeks ago, bright skies and sunny weather has dominated in the valley after the morning fog has burned off. There are some teal available in the southern valley locations, and limits of the small birds were the rule for some blinds.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, along with his blind partner, Peter Kaprelian of Concord, managed to knock out limits of teal on Wednesday. He said, “It wasn’t as quick as it was the previous Wednesday, but we do have teal in our area in Los Banos.”
Also in the Los Banos area, Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips said, “I was able to put together a limit of teal this week, and quite a few hunters I spoke with also had limits of teal. I passed up on a shot on a widgeon as I wanted to fill my limit with teal.”
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait reported a great weekend for limits of teal along with 5 snow geese at their club in Los Banos. He said, “Last week was the turning point of the season as a number of birds came into our area. Every bird in our limits was a teal with mostly green wing along with a couple of cinnamons.”
Further north, James Stone of Elite Sportsmen’s Guide Service in Sutter said, “Duck hunting has been pretty good most days with an average of 3 to 4 birds up to limits per hunter. When the fog moved in along with some wind, the hunting was much better. Goose hunting has also been pretty consistent despite most of the big groups staying together and being shy of the decoys. We were able to harvest birds on every trip since there were some juveniles that came in as singles.”
Also in the north, Mike Aughney, owner of the six-pack Reel Magic in Bodega Bay, is a member of a club near the Sacramento Refuge, said, “We have had more birds move into our area, but they are leaving early and returning after shooting time. I have heard more birds moving down into the Sutter Bypass and the Colusa area.”