The Union Democrat Sports Department

By Len Ackerman

For The Union Democrat

Assemblyman Jim Frazier(D-Oakley) has introduced Assembly Bill 1709 which would extend the age eligibility of a junior hunting license from 16 years of age to 18.

The legislation is sponsored by the California Waterfowl Association (CWA). At present, once an individual reaches 16 and wishes to continue hunting, he or she must apply for an adult hunting license which can be over $40.

The increased license cost, along with additional fees for stamps and tags, can often prove overly expensive for some families. Extending the eligibility age for the junior hunting license by two years will help provide an incentive for young people to continue hunting.

The first hearing of this Bill will likely be in early August.

In this writer's opinion, a similar bill should also be introduced for fishing licenses. At present, youngsters can fish without a license until age 16. Then, suddenly, they must come up with $46 plus additional stamps for an adult license.

The water level at New Melones Reservoiractually rose a foot last week and, with the warming weather, the trout bite may pick up for trollers as the fish move to deeper water.

Zachary Morgan, of Escalon, trolled a Needlefish to catch a 1.70-pound rainbow which won him the Big Fish weekly contest at Glory Hole Sports.

This was topped by Doug Carlen, of Twain Harte, with a 4.60-pound brown trout, but browns are no longer included in the contest since they are no longer planted in California. Catch and release is encouraged.

Bass fishing is improvingwith the warming weather as the fish move toward shallower water for spawning season.

A huge bass was caught last Sunday by Robert Lee, of Angels Camp, a professional tournament angler, and the big largemouth weighed 14 pounds.

Lee, who recently had arm surgery, had quite a battle with the fish and had help from his dad and 5-year old son, Ryan, getting the fish netted and into the boat. After weighing and photographing, the fish was released, perhaps to be caught again by a lucky angler.

For hunters, Spring Wild Turkeyseason will openMarch 29and run throughMay 4.

The daily limit is one bearded turkey per day and three per season. It's time to start scouting for that Thanksgiving dinner.

A possible new world record Spotted Basswas caught at New Melones by Keith Bryan during a tournament last week.

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) is looking into the certification of the scales used in the weighing.

More on this later.