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Although shooting remained generally poor throughout the season, Bakersfield's former world skeet shooting champion Ken Barnes proudly shows off a rare seven-duck limit of five mallards and two teal taken on a recent hunt northwest of Wasco.

The Southern Valley Friends of the NRA are cordially inviting the general public to attend their 2013 NRA dinner and auction Feb. 1 at the Bakersfield Elks Club, 1616 30th St.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the event promises a gala evening of special drawings, raffles, and both live and silent auctions. Dinner tickets are $50 each.

Last year's fundraiser collected and then donated more than $550,000 to Central California shooting and hunting programs.

Each year the event gives away scores of quality guns and outdoor gear, so please attend and help safeguard our firearms heritage.

For more information, contact Cyndi Benson at (661) 205-8569; Kari Auge at (661)316-7959 or John Lindgren at (661)699-4568.

Anglers getting ready for spring

Finally! The first few warming days are upon us and fishermen will soon be getting back on the water after weeks of unseasonable and uncomfortable cold. Trout fishing at Buena Vista Lake has already sprung into action with the arrival of warm days and several fish plants that have finally activated the fish into eating bait and lures.

Other lakes in the area will be expecting heavy plants just as soon as the hatchery truck, experiencing environmental smog equipment problems, gets back on track.

Crappie fishermen at Lake Isabella, weather permitting, are already scoring on nice-size fish hanging in the 27- to 30-foot depths while using minnows and small jigs. Catfish anglers are also scoring on some monster whiskerfish, including several nearing the 20-pound mark. The Engineer Point area seems to be the hotspot and the fish are eating commercial salmon chunks, shrimp and chicken livers.

Don't forget to purchase a new 2013 fishing license, the cost of which has risen to $59.97 for the basics, including a second rod activation.

General hunting seasons to close

Sunday will mark the end of the general California hunting season for upland game and waterfowl. Going down as one of the worst on record due to the extended drought, this year left a lot of empty space in the hearts and minds of hunters everywhere. Hopefully, the 2013-2014 seasons will see a heavy influx of local rain or mountain snows to replenish our lakes, ponds, desert upland rearing areas and local wildlife numbers.

The only bright spot in the otherwise dismal seasons should be during the spring wild turkey opener, which begins toward the latter part of March. Hunters will find most of the birds on private properties in the 3,500-foot elevation range, giving them ample time to seek and get written permission to hunt the giant birds before opening day.

Big game hunters still have the all-year option of hunting wild pigs, whose Kern County populations continue to defy all management and controlling efforts.

Non-protected, non-game species, including the coyote and barnyard pigeon, still offer excellent shooting opportunities.

New fishing classes

The Levan Institute, located at Bakersfield College and funded by a most generous donation from Dr. Norman Levan, once again will offer its successful Let's Go Fishing classes intended for baby-boomers, age 50 or older. Directed by Dr. Robert Allison, the institute offers a wide variety of classes for people wanting to continue gaining knowledge throughout their lives.

Having spent their entire lives working to make a living for their families, these people are now retiring and wanting to spend the rest of their lives learning interesting and useful experiences such as fishing and other leisure activities.

The Let's Go Fishing evening class on Feb. 19 will teach basic angling, knot tying, terminal tackle selection, state laws, specie targeting and proper rod, reel and line techniques to help them and their families catch fish when they finally get on the water.

Also new for this year is Let's Go Bass Fishing, a three-hour evening class on March 5 dedicated to teaching the Baby Boomer generation how to catch the most popular game fish in the US, the black bass. This class will feature several successful tournament fishermen, who together have won more than 100 bass tournaments, sharing their techniques and strategies. Taught by yours truly, both classes are intended to educate anglers wanting to learn how to catch all kinds of fish.

Students must sign up in advance by contacting Miriam Valenzuela at the Levan Institute at (661)395-4431 or email her at A $10 fee pays for class literature and equipment.