By LEN ACKERMAN, For The Union Democrat

The long waterfowl season ended last Sunday on a rather sad note for some areas of the Los Banos Complex, mainly due to the return of “bluebird” weather. It was not one of the better seasons for those hunting the area, with the exception of some of the larger private clubs.

One problem was the weather, which failed to develop until late in the season. Most of the migration of northern birds did not move down until mid to late December and then many settled in the Sacramento region where they had food in rice fields and plenty of water.

In that area, Colusa Refuge was one of the better spots. Blinds operated by guides also did very well. Most averages in the refuges were around two to three birds per hunter over the last weekend.

Now, hunters will clean up their gear and wait until next year. Youth hunters (under 17 years of age) will get one more chance on Saturday and Sunday when the annual youth hunts take place on private clubs and public refuges.

The youngsters will be guests at private clubs and hosted by adult mentors. State refuges will also host young hunters, accompanied by an adult. For information on the Los Banos area, call 209-826-0463.

It is no secret that fishing license sales have declined more than 55 percent since 1980 when a license sold for $5. They are now up to over $47, higher than any other state.

The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has finally reached out to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the California Sportfishing League for help in developing a strategy for increasing participation in boating and fishing.

Much of the funding for these sports comes from federal excise taxes on fishing tackle and boating equipment. California is one of the largest consumer markets for fishing tackle and outdoor equipment in the United States. Hopefully these organizations will get cooperation from the DFW in working toward a solution.

A few suggestions have been made: Lower the cost of an adult license; allow the purchase of a fishing license to be good for one year from the date of sale; and allow a reduced fee for veterans.

Back to fishing: At New Melones the trout bite has slowed somewhat for trollers but shore anglers are having some success bank fishing off Glory Hole Point and Angels Cove with Power Baits.

Among those were Bradley Begley of Sonora who recently landed an eight-point, three-ounce rainbow off Glory Hole Point. It appears that more of the big rainbows may be moving in closer to shore.

An angler who recently beat the odds trolling was Marvin Wells of Sonora who boated an eight-pound, seven-ounce rainbow recently while trolling a Needlefish lure which closely resembles the shad minnows that the fish are feeding on.

For more information on Melones, call Glory Hole Sports at 209-736-4333.