The Union Democrat Sports Department

With the first of the bird hunting seasons coming upSept. 1, hunters tracking fast flying doves on private lands must legally obtain written permission to hunt in such areas.

For those without those options, there are public areas open in Merced County, much of which is in the Los Banos Complex.

For more information, go towww.losbanoscomplex.comor call209-826-0463.

Waterfowl hunters may soon be paying more for their Federal Migratory Bird Hunting stamp.

A bill has been introduced to raise the cost from $15 to $25. Funds from this stamp, which is required for waterfowl hunting, go toward securing wetlands and habitat.

The $15 stamp began in 1991 and remained the same rate until now. While the duck stamp cost remained stagnant, the cost to conserve wetlands has gone up dramatically.

At New Melones,the kokanee salmon season is winding down as they move into the spawning mode, losing scales and turning darker.

They can still be found in deeper water (70 to 100 feet) and at this stage, larger lures may be more effective.

For trout, night fishing with submersible lights is still the best method.

Brian Basacker, of Sonora, has again won the Big Fish contest at Glory Hole Sports with a 2-pound, 5-ounce, rainbow caught at night.

Basacker and Dave Hylton, also of Sonora, have won quite a few deli lunches recently by this method.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Flores, of Sacramento, caught his first-ever catfish last week. It weighed 9-pounds, 7-ounces, and he decided to release his catch to let it grow bigger.

Last week Glory Hole Sports employees,Sherryl Van Sandon and Dave Roberts, were out on Melones fishing for bass and noticed a foreign object moving on the water ahead.

As they moved closer, it turned out to be a bear swimming across the lake. They got a couple of photos before it reached shore.

Along the Ebbetts and Sonora Passcorridors, trout planting continues in the major streams and lakes.

Dates to put on your calender:Sept. 1- dove season opens;Sept. 6is the last free fishing day of the year where anyone may fish without a fishing license. Archery season in zone D-6 endsSept. 7. Hunting regulation booklets should be at most sporting goods outlets now.

Last week,staff members of Miguel's Auto Service of Sonora, Miguel and Arnold Nieves and Brandon Curran, had a great outing for salmon on a party boat out of Emeryville.

They all boated limits of king salmon up to 28 pounds.