By LEN ACKERMAN
For The Union Democrat
With a new year just days away, here’s a recap of the past 12 months in hunting, fishing and shooting:
January—Michael Oliveira of Hilmar set a new lake record at New Melones for brown trout with a 13-pound, 4-ouncer that was just 1-ounce heavier than the previous record by Garrett Anderson of Sonora in 2011.
Waterfowl season closed with a pretty good influx of birds at the end.
February-—The annual Youth Waterfowl hunts took place throughout the state, giving young, aspiring hunters (under 16) a chance to hunt with adult mentors at private clubs and state refuges a week after the regular season closure.
March—A good trout bite continued for shore anglers at Melones or those fishing the coves with Power Baits. Big catfish were turning up also as noted by Bob James of Murphys, who landed a 12-pounder.
Meanwhile, trollers found a good rainbow bite at Melones and Don Pedro and wild turkey season opened at the end of the month.
April—A free fishing Seminar was held at Glory Hole Sports with nine local fishing guides sharing their expertise with anglers.
Adam Kamikawa came down from Reno, Nev. and boated an 8-pound, 12-ounce brown trout at Melones.
May—Pinecrest Lake began getting weekly trout plants, while at Beardsley Lake the water level was still below the launch ramp.
Kokanee salmon began to show at Melones and Don Pedro.
June—Summer crowds arriving at Pinecrest finding plenty of trout as planting continues.
Two Kokanee Derbies were held at Melones, one by Kokanee Power and one by Project Kokanee, with proceeds going to enhance the fishery.
Also, the Third Annual Tuolumne County Trap Championships were held at the Mother Lode Gun Club with Vines, Coffin, Bettanini, Krawchuk, and Hicks winners in their respective classes.
July—Kokanee limits were the norm at Melones but the average size was smaller than usual. Locals Bob Post, Stan Blanchard, the Twain Harte Connection group, and local guides have been doing well.
August—Fly anglers found most streams along the Highway 108 and Highway 4 corridors dropping into good condition for their favorite sport. Local guides found a good bite for rainbows and king salmon trolling shad at 70 to 100 feet, as did Sonora resident Chuck Hewitt.
In addition, Backpackers Literary Guild completed their 27th Annual back-country trip that same month.
September—The first of fall hunting seasons opened for doves while the general deer season opened in zone D-6.
A slightly larger number of bucks were checked in at the DFG check station at Highway 108 and Lyons Dam Road, as well as seven bears.
October—Several local anglers headed for Vierra’s Resort for the salmon run on the Sacramento River. It was much better than the previous year, which followed the two-year closure, but not up to those good years between 2000 and 2005.
Waterfowl season opened on Oct. 20 and showed a great opening day, as usual, before the birds moved to the closed zones and weather became a factor.
November—At New Melones, the last brown trout to be planted in California were placed in holding pens at the marina to be later released in the spring. Some are anticpated to weigh up to three pounds. The project was a joint venture between Kokanee Power and the DFG.
December— Sonora Bass Anglers ended another year of tournaments, with Dave and Carol Krawchuk taking home this year’s top prize.
Cold storms and a freeze up north should push more waterfowl further south. Some good shoots were had by local hunters at Modesto Reservoir from floating blinds.
A Happy New Year to all and, “May the big fish bite in 2013.” And, for the duck hunters, “May the north wind blow on shooting days.”