Monthly Archives: May 2019

Pete Heley Outdoors 5 / 22 / 2019

Pending news that seems to have everybody’s attention is the decision to reduce the daily limit for wild or unclipped chinook salmon to one fish on many south coast streams. The daily limit will remain at two fish on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers.

On the Coos Basin the daily limit for unclipped chinook salmon is one fish from either the Coos or Coquille rivers with a seasonal limit of five fish from August 1st through December 31st with no more than two unclipped chinooks coming from the Coquille River – which is closed to chinook angling above the Highway 42S crossing near Sturdivant Park..

The daily limit on the Chetco River is one unclipped chinook per day with a seasonal limit of two unclipped chinook from August 1st through December 31st – the only open water is from the mouth up to rivermile 2.2

The Elk, Sixes and Floras Creek, taken together, have a daily limit of one unclipped chinook and a season limit of five such fish. Floras Creek will be closed from August first through December and the Sixes will be closed below Highway 101 from August 1st through December and the Elk River will be closed between Swamp Creek and Highway 101 for the same time period.

These upcoming changes regarding the retention of unclipped chinook affect every Oregon coastal river that hosts chinook salmon runs in slightly different ways and I urge anyone planning on fishing for salmon this fall to to read the complete proposal on the ODFW website.

An ocean fishery for chinook salmon in the Brookings area will begin May 25th and run throuth September 2nd.

Perhaps it is a symbol of our current times, or maybe not – but the way Bass Pro Shops wholesale Division (American Rod and Gun) abruptly closed thousands of accounts last year – forcing many businesses to scramble to set up new wholesale accounts was absolutely abhorrent. To make matters worse, the company began quietly setting up new wholesale accounts involving about ten feet of wall space in large grocery stores including McKays, Price and Prides and Ray’s Sentrys in western Oregon – while making no attempt to reinstate the numerous accounts they already had.

None of these “new accounts” that I checked out was capable of giving out useful fishing advice.

This breech of ethics and lack of loyalty was more than enough to justify switching my online fishing tackle ordering from Bass Pro Shops to Tackle Warehouse without one bit of remorse.

These upcoming changes regarding the retention of unclipped chinook affect every Oregon coastal river that hosts chinook salmon runs in slightly different ways and I urge anyone planning on fishing for salmon this fall to to read the complete proposal on the ODFW website.

The hottest, most consistent fishing in our area remains shad fishing on the Umpqua River.

Other shad fishing possibilites include the Smith River between the falls and the upper tidewater areas; The Siuslaw River between Davis Chute and the “Guard Rail Hole; The Coquille River near the Arago Boat Ramp and the Coos and lower Millicoma rivers. The lower several miles of the South Umpqua River also hosts shad runs – but none of these other possibilities can hold a candle to the Umpqua and the best fishing currently is at Sawyers Rapids where 50 shad catches are the norm for a half-day fishing trip.

Surprisingly, the next hottest local fishery has been the striper fishing on the Smith River.

While the lower several miles of the Smith is getting most of the recent fishing pressure, there are also stripers in the Umpqua River between Gardiner and Sawyers Rapids. Scholfield Slough hosts a striper population during the summer and fall months.

Because of muddy water, the Coquille River has received little fishing pressure directed at striped bass so far this year, but recently gave up a dozen stripers weighing more than 15 pounds in the week before the most recent rains muddied the river once again.

The two top floatfishing streams in our area are rounding into prime fishing shape. While Siltcoos River wont open to fishing until may 22nd, the river offers an easy float down to the dam which is located more than two miles below the lake. Siltcoos River has a fair population of largemouth bass and yellow perch and some surprisingly large trout (both rainbows and cutthroats). Very few anglers actually fish the river instead opting for birdwatching and sightseeing.

The other floatfishing option is Tenmile Creek between the lake and the railroad trestle. Although the trestle is about four stream miles below the lake, the hike back to your rig via the railroad tracks is only about a mile.

No log jams have been reported on Tenmile Creek this year and the best fishing areas seem to be the most narrow areas with streamside brush. Largemouth bass and rainbow trout are the most common catches.

Local fly anglers should consider Saunders Lake where the most recent trout plant seems to have generated aconsiderable amount of surface activity. Trollers are having very good success on Eel Lake for planted rainbow trout with a few native rainbows and cutts along with a few carryover rainbows. Much of the recent fishing pressure has been directed at largemouth bass and the lake has a few smallmouth bass as well. Tenmile Lake has been fishing very good for largemouth bass to four pounds with a few larger. An angler fishing a nightcrawler for Tenmile Lakes trout trout recently caught a jumbo bluegill that weighed one pound and ten ounces.

Crappie have been scarce this spring in western Oregon waters, but here are ten semi-local spots where you have a decent chance to catch them.

LOON LAKE – The crappies haven’t shown up at the old Duckett’s dock on the upper lake in their usual numbers, but there has been some decent catches made near some of the summer homes.

EEL LAKE – The crappie haven’t shown up at the fishing dock at Tugman Park – but they never do until after they are done spawning. But crappie seekers should find fish by fishing along shoreline stretches near dusk.

SELMAC LAKE – the crappie spawn is over, but the lake offers the best chance at catching a crappie measuring at least 13-inches. Try fishing the outside edges of near-shore reedbeds.

COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR – Stumps near the middle of the reservoir and the lower end of the reservoir near dusk should produce small numbers of crappies measuring ten to 12-inches.

LOOKOUT POINT RESERVOIR – Has produced more than one crappie weighing more than four pounds – but try finding them in this 13 mile long reservoir.

COTTAGE GROVE RESERVOIR – Capable of giving up fair numbers of good-sized crappies near the dam during October.

BEN IRVING RESERVOIR – Usually offers consistent fishing for 9 to 11-inch crappies when the water isn’t to murky. Vandalism near the boat ramp has resulted in the gate being closed at dusk.

SILTCOOS LAGOON – This small planted trout fishery has a fair population of six to eight inch crappies – use small lures.

Pete Heley works part time at the Stockade Market located across from “A” Dock in Winchester Bay and is willing to swap fishing info with anyone.

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Recreational Canary Rockfish, Black Rockfish and Lingcod Bag Limit Increases Effective June 1, 2019.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced increases to the recreational canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger), black rockfish (S. melanops) and lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) daily limits.

Within the statewide Rockfish Cabezon Greenlings Complex daily bag limit of 10 fish, the sub-bag limit for canary rockfish will increase from two to three fish, and the sub-bag limit for black rockfish will increase from three to four fish. The daily bag limit for lingcod will increase from one to two fish for areas south of 40°10′ N. lat (near Cape Mendocino), returning the statewide bag limit for lingcod to two fish. The changes are effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 1, 2019.

Limited retention of canary rockfish in California’s recreational fishery began in 2017 as a result of the stock being declared rebuilt. Because retention of canary rockfish had been prohibited in recreational fisheries off California for more than a decade, incremental increases to the daily sub-bag limit are being implemented to balance fishing opportunity while keeping catch within harvest limits.

Less optimistic stock assessment outcomes for black rockfish in 2015 and lingcod in 2017 resulted in a reduction to both the harvest limits and bag limits for these species. A review of the most recent recreational catch information showed that less catch for these species occurred during 2017 and 2018 than anticipated. This prompted the current increase in the statewide black rockfish sub-bag limit and lingcod bag limit south of Cape Mendocino to better achieve allowable harvest.

Catches of several important groundfish species, including canary and black rockfish, are monitored weekly to ensure harvest limits are not exceeded.

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make in-season modifications to the recreational fishery, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits.

For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management and fish identification tools, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish webpage.

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Oregon Coast Anglers Need Volunteers.

This is the status of our upcoming events. Last Wednesday May 15th, a few us helped clip fish at the Gardiner STEP Hatchery. We clipped the Chinook Salmon that came from the Reedsport Elementary School aquariums and the Rainbow Trout that were raised at the hatchery. Many thanks for those who helped clip fish. Next up is tomorrow May 22nd, roughly 30,000 Chinook Salmon must be clipped. Depending on how many volunteers help, it may be possible to clip all those fish. If not, more volunteers will be needed on Thursday, May 23rd, when the remaining fish would be clipped. I encourage all OCA members to help with clipping fish. Clipping will start at approximately 8:30 AM, and I recommend you bring a high stool for your comfort. The clipping stations are set at waist height, so a high stool would give you the option of sitting.

So far no one has volunteered to walk along in the parade next to the OCA entry, and hand out candy. If we have a veteran, who can wear their uniform, you would have a place of honor on Gary and Julie Palmer’s boat. Please contact me, if you would like help out.

June 2nd ODFW Free Fishing Day at Lake Marie will be special this year. The addition of trout held in a net for kids to catch is a big deal. Fish will be caught and there will be a lot of happy excited children. The netted fishing area is only possible, because OCA volunteers set it up. You can read below what is needed. I would like as many OCA members, who are available to be there helping on June 2nd. The net will be installed on June 1st, and will need to be removed after the event is over, waders needed.

Thanks for your support,

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Umpqua River Pinkfin Finally Show Up in Numbers. (Monday Morning).

The much-anticipated pinkfin run into the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay has begun in earnest. Although some pinkfin (actually redtail surfperch) were caught last week, the run did not build or improve. However Monday morning , obviously freshly-arrived perch had arrived in numbers and were biting aggressively. The usual fishing spots include the entire north shoreline from across from the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin all the way up to Marker 21. At Marker 12, the fishery shifts to slightly south of the middle of the river. Sand shrimp is the preferred natural bait and Berkley Gulp sandworms in the camo color pattern is the preferred artificial bait.The perch seem to bite best when the tidal current is strong and during the last couple of years, the perch have moved in and out of the river with strong tides. The run usually lasts through July.

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New Native Trout Challenge Kicks Off in 12 Western States.

Deep in the West, under a secret rock in a cool stream, lies a prize worth finding. Anglers of all skill levels are invited to participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge and put the lure of the West on their bucket list. In addition to earning bragging rights and prizes at the Expert, Advanced and Master Levels, participants will help the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) conserve 21 species of native trout.

The 12 states where these native trout can be found are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The state fish and wildlife agencies in each of the 12 states are partnering on the effort, along with the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management and Trout Unlimited.

“California’s Heritage Trout challenge takes anglers on an amazing fishing journey across the state,” said Kevin Shaffer, Fisheries Branch Chief for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re pleased to partner on this new Western Native Trout Challenge that encourages an experience across the western states, which will promote a love of fishing, our western streams and rivers, and these amazing native fishes.”

Native trout are the embodiment of the West. The wild rivers, alpine lakes and trickling arroyos – the fiber of Western geography – are the habitat for the redband, the cutthroat and the Gila.

The Western Native Trout Challenge invites anglers to help celebrate this legacy by catching native trout and char in each of the 12 Western states, at their own pace. There are three levels of achievement. Participants who catch six trout species across four states will earn “Expert Caster” rewards. Those who catch 12 trout species across eight states will earn “Advanced Caster” rewards. And those who catch 18 species across all 12 states will not only enjoy the adventure of a lifetime, but will also be designated as a “Master Caster” with rewards to match.

Anglers can get details on which fish to catch and where to find them by registering online at Registration is $25 per adult and is free for those 17 and under. The vast majority (92%) of the fee will go toward helping conserve native trout populations for future generations to also enjoy.

“We’re thrilled to be launching this fun way to support native trout conservation across the West,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “For every $25 program registration fee, $23 will go directly back to conservation projects that are helping native trout populations thrive. We want anglers to learn about these unique species and where they can go to catch them. In addition, catching the selected species helps conserve them by promoting angling and fishing license sales for native trout species, which also supports conservation efforts. It’s a wonderful way to help conserve these beautiful species, in beautiful places, at your own pace.”

The Western Native Trout Challenge is complementing a similar effort in some states. Anglers can participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge at the same time they participate in state specific programs, including the Arizona Trout Challenge, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Nevada Native Fish-Slam, Utah Cutthroat Slam and the Wyoming Cutt-slam.

Learn more, and register at

Follow the action on:
Twitter: @WNativeTrout
Instagram: @WesternNativeTrout
Facebook: /westernnativetrout
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) and a nationally recognized partnership under the National Fish Habitat Partnership program that works cooperatively across 12 Western states to conserve 21 native trout and char species across their historic range. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $29 million in federal, public and private funds to serve 139 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 87 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,130 miles of native trout habitat and put in place 30 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.

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Bass Pro Shops and Business Ethics.

Perhaps it is a symbol of our current times, or maybe not – but the way Bass Pro Shops wholesale Division (American Rod and Gun) abruptly closed thousands of accounts last year – forcing many businesses to scramble to set up new wholesale accounts was absolutely abhorrent. To make matters worse, the company began quietly setting up new wholesale accounts involving about ten feet of wall space in large grocery stores including McKays, Price and Prides and Ray’s Sentrys in western Oregon – while making no attempt to reinstate the numerous accounts they already had.

None of these “new accounts” that I checked out was capable of giving out useful fishing advice.

This breech of ethics and lack of loyalty was more than enough to justify switching my online fishing tackle ordering from Bass Pro Shops to Tackle Warehouse without one bit of remorse.

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Tenmile Lakes Bassfishing Consistently Good.

The annual fishing reunion was a blast.

spawn, post-spawn Tenmile bassin’ is very good. and the lake gave up a one pound 10 ounce bluegill this week.

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1044.63-feet – up slightly from last week. The water should continue to rise for the next several weeks to reach full pool of 1046.5 feet. The water temps back in the sand dunes are running in the mid-60’s. The water temps on the main Reservoir are in the upper 50’s to low 60’s.
The Largemouth and Smallmouth are beginning their spawning cycle. Most should bedded up by the next full moon which will occur on May 18th. Fish the sand dunes with ½ oz jigs and craw trailers, Swim Jigs, Chatter Baits, Punch Rigs and chartreuse Spinnerbaits. The water is clearing up in the Reservoir – making sight fishing a viable option. Throw a Wacky Rigged Senko or Berkley General to bedded fish. Fish in 1-10 feet of water along willow lines. There are Smallmouth back in the sand dunes and around the rocks around Goose Island. Fish Finesse jigs, Wacky Rigged Senkos, Crankbaits, and Swimbaits for the Smallmouth. Anglers have been doing well on Smallmouth on the face of the dam using crankbaits as well.
Walleye fishing is improving. The walleye have finished spawning and have moved down from their spawning areas to the weeds back in the dunes. Fish the dunes with a swim jig or swimbait along the weed lines in 2-6 feet – or fish the channels with Smile Blades/Super Death Hooks/2 oz bottom walker and ½ a crawler in 8-15 feet. Troll from .8-1.2 miles per hour. A few walleyes are being caught on #5 & #7 Flicker Shads and Rapala Shad Raps.
Trout are being caught off Medicare Beach both from shore and by boat. Bank fisherman are using Power Bait, worms and marshmallows, a 12-18” leader, and a 1/8-1/4 oz. egg sinker above the swivel. Boat anglers are trolling Needlefish spoons, #7 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps. Trout fishing in the Seep Lake has been very good this past week. Top Lakes have been the Hamptons, Warden Lake, Corral Lake and the Widgeon – Pillar Chain. Top Baits have been Worms and marshmallows, Berkley Powerbait, Rooster Tails, and Berkley Mouse Tails.
The crappie and bluegill are beginning to show up at the MarDon Resort dock. Several good catches of 10-12-inch crappies are coming in. Fish trout Magnets, flies, VMC Wingding jigs and Berkley Gulp Alive Minnows on a 1/32 oz. jig head. Only registered guests of MarDon Resort are permitted to fish off the dock. By boat, head back in the dunes towards the Job Corps dike and fish the willows for bluegill and crappie using the same baits mentioned above.
The fishing is improving daily – call the MarDon Tackle Store for the latest fishing info at 509-346-2651.

Upcoming Events:
May 18th – Berkley Big Bass Tournament

Jake from Cle Elum shows off a nice Smallmouth bass he caught and released off the MarDon Resort dock!

A happy angler with a nice crappie caught on the MarDon Resort Dock!

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Pete Heley Outdoors 05 / 15 / 2019

The hottest thing going right now is shad fishing on the Umpqua River. Half-day catches of 40+ shad are common at a number of locations, but the best spot recently has been at Sawyers Rapids – and as the river drops it will get even better. Sawyer Rapids, at less than 27 miles east of Reedsport, is also the closest Umpqua River shad spot to the Oregon coast. Other local rivers hosting shad runs include the Coquille, Siuslaw and Coos-Millicoma rivers.

The first central Oregon coast all-depth three day opener was a complete bust – and a good example that increasing the quota means little if there are not reachable willing-to-bite fish around. There are four more “fixed” three day openers which are on Thursday through Saturday of each week and if the 171,103 pound quota is not reached, backup openers will occur every two weeks until the quota is met.

Those salmon caught by spinner-flinging bank anglers at Winchester Bay a few weeks ago have not shown up as upriver spring chinook catches – so perhaps they weren’t spring chinooks at all – but feeder fall chinook following baitfish into the lower Umpqua River.

Surfperch were caught above Winchester Bay last week, but the run has yet to really get going, but could do so at any time. As usual, the male surfperch are still biting off the beaches as the female surfperch move into the lower Umpqua River. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty suffered a rare “off week” last week regarding rockfish, greenling, lingcod and striped surfperch.

Striped bass angling remains surprisingly good on the Smith and Coquille rivers with water clarity influencing the bite on the Coquille River. Freshwater lakes that are still having water clarity problems include Cooper Creek Reservoir, Plat ‘I’ Reservoir and Ben Irving Reservoir.

In some cases, warmer weather can result in lower water temperatures such as occurred recently at Lake Shasta when a considerable amount of melting snow resulted in a several degree drop in water temperatures despite very warm air temperatures.

For those of you who believe the slogan “made in America” means something – America’s boating industry is a wonderful example. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association Ninety five percent of the boats in the United States were made in the United States and the value of boat exports exceeds the value of boat imports by more than a billion dollars per year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife puts out question and answer emails every couple of weeks that have varying degrees of relevance to oregonians. Here are some questions from a recent one.

QUESTION: Why does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issue elk tags? Is it because herds get too large for the land to support them? What is the criteria? Are the animals ever relocated to other far away spots? (Allison H.)

ANSWER: CDFW does manage elk populations that, for example, get too large or are having conflicts with existing land uses. But that is not the only reason CDFW recommends limited harvest of elk.

CDFW’s mission is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

“Too large” is a subjective descriptor, and there are always going to be differing opinions on how many elk are too many. Tags are issued in areas where a limited harvest is appropriate. Historically, the number of tags issued is low compared to the overall population. This allows for a limited harvest while still allowing the population to expand in most areas.

In some areas where the population is causing damage to property or the population is healthy but there is not a lot of room to expand, CDFW will approve a higher level of harvest to maintain the current conditions (this has been the case at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area). Some of the relocations have not been that far from the source population. In recent years, CDFW has augmented existing populations with elk relocated from restricted habitats that cannot expand. This is done in order to prevent elk populations from exceeding their carrying capacity and subsequent habitat destruction, and to assist with genetic diversity.

QUESTION: If there are three of us in a boat fishing for sturgeon, and I catch a sturgeon and then tag and retain it, do I have to then totally stop fishing or can I rebait my line and fish for other species?

ANSWER: If you are in the ocean, boat limits, as described by California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.60, do not apply to sturgeon, per section 27.60(c)(6), so you would be done sturgeon fishing for that day but can continue fishing for other species. Boat limits do not apply in inland waters either, so if you are on inland waters, you are also done sturgeon fishing for that day. In either the ocean or bay you may continue to fish for other species, but it would be good practice to switch baits/gear set-up, techniques, etc. so that there is no question of your intent when an officer comes to conduct a compliance check.

QUESTION: We are heading to the North Coast soon and are planning to camp out and go clamming. How much help can I give my 5-year-old son who will be digging for clams with us for his first time? I want to be able to help him as much as he needs but don’t want the clams he digs up to count against my individual bag limit? Can I use the shovel and dig the hole for him while he uses his hands to dig around further and retrieve the clam? I will just be helping him to access the clam, but he will be retrieving it himself.

ANSWER: People have been cited for taking an overlimit of clams by doing exactly what you describe above. You can teach your son how to dig, but you cannot dig his limit of clams for him. Part of taking the clam is digging for it, so he would need to do the work. If you feel you are “doing it for him,” you are probably helping him too much.

If he is too young to dig for clams himself, he will probably need to wait until he is old enough to do so. Otherwise, you two can dig for clams together, and we encourage you to do just that so he learns, but they will all become part of your limit.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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CDFW News – Lead-Free Hunting Takes Effect Statewide July 1.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wants to remind hunters that beginning July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California.

CDFW strongly recommends that hunters acquire and practice with nonlead ammunition well before heading afield, particularly in advance of upcoming big game seasons, to make sure rifles are sighted in and to understand how their firearms perform with nonlead ammunition.

The nonlead ammo requirement includes hunting on public land, private property and licensed game bird clubs, and applies to rifles, shotguns, pistols and muzzleloaders in any gauge or caliber for the take of any legal species. The nonlead ammo requirement extends to the legal take of nongame birds and mammals and includes firearms used for depredation to take species causing property damage.

The requirement does not apply to hunting with pellet rifles. Since pellet rifles are not classified as firearms, the use of lead pellets is allowed. Lead ammunition is allowed for target shooting where that activity is permitted.

California will become the first state in the nation to require nonlead ammunition for all firearms-related hunting. California’s phase-in of nonlead ammunition for hunting originated with state legislation signed into law in 2013. In 2015, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations to phase in the requirement over time with full implementation July 1, 2019.

In recent years, with advances in technology and more states and the federal government restricting the use of lead hunting ammunition, manufacturers have responded with an increasing variety of nonlead ammunition offerings. Nonlead ammunition has been required for waterfowl hunting nationwide since 1991, and many California hunters already have made a voluntary change to nontoxic hunting ammunition due to health and environmental concerns.

The first California hunting seasons impacted by the lead ammunition ban include the general rabbit season, which opens statewide July 1, and the A Zone general deer season, which opens Aug. 10 along much of the California coast.

CDFW advises hunters to shop carefully when purchasing nonlead hunting ammunition, particularly from out-of-state-based sporting goods stores and other mass retailers that may stock their California outlets with lead hunting ammunition in advance of upcoming seasons.

All ammunition in a hunter’s possession may be inspected by wildlife officers. Hunters are encouraged to assist in confirming compliance by retaining and carrying in the field ammunition boxes or other packaging.

For more information, please visit CDFW’s Nonlead Ammunition in California webpage at For in-depth research and ballistics analysis of nonlead hunting ammunition, please visit

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