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Liesl Wolf-Heinemann is the newest member of my St. Helena distaff angling hall of fame. Liesl, aged 13, scored a 25-pound Barracuda and a 30-pound Wahoo on a recent family vacation in the Bahamas. Both of these sport fish are smart, hard to catch and worthy foes. You may know the silver bullet Wahoo as the Ono, which means “good to eat” in Hawaiian.

My wonderful, local distaff angling team had its start with Anne Steinhauer back when she was about 5 or 6 years old. We aced the Whitehall Lane winery’s annual “Half-assed Bass Tournament and Picnic” year after year — with trophies to prove it. Thus started a fine relationship that lasts to this very day — punctuated by regular little fishing trips and lots of hugs over the years.

And, add Lauren Brown whose dad, Ethan, sent me photos of Lauren tying her own flies when she was little (that was capped off with cookies and hot chocolate at the Model Bakery). Here’s the rest of the team: Antonia Allegra (way too cold — our lines froze in the fishing rod guides), Lora Trinchero, Leslie Wilks, Grace Kistner, Sue Collins, Cathy Buck and Janet Peischel. Who’s next?

Tell me your favorite fishing story, add photos and send them to

The Sulphur Creek Fish Barrier Removal project … has a local flavor, too. Liesl and Brent Randol are leading this effort to replace the old non-functioning fish ladder on Sulphur Creek up under the bridge on Spring Street. Their initiative here is special and can open miles of critical additional Sulphur Creek spawning area for steelhead. Join this local grassroots effort which is in the classic tradition of the hunter/gatherer. They were our first conservationists and environmentalists — taking care of nature so nature can take care of us.

Want to help? Contact Brent at

Where’s The Fishing? … Not much to report; the past couple of months of heavy rains have kept most anglers back on the dock. But, you can only do so much rig repair and replacement before you go nuts wanting to get on the water. Try these:

- Local lakes (Hennessey, Berryessa and Clear Lake) will deliver trophy numbers of black bass and crappie this spring. Book Berryessa with pro guide Don Paganelli at 916-502-FISH and Clear Lake with pro guide Bob Myskey at 274-0373. BTW – Berryessa may have overflowed the “glory hole” at 440 feet above sea level by the time you read this. Stay tuned.

- A spring return of stripers to the Napa River will just make your sturgeon hunting there more exciting.

- San Pablo Bay striper and sturgeon action continues. Call captain Craig Hanson on the six pack Argo for details and bookings, 415-361-7757.

- Keep an eye on Bodega Bay’s early spring doings. Two boats I follow there are the six pack Miss Anita (875-3474) and the New Sea Angler (875-3344).

- North Coast rivers are having dynamite Steelhead seasons. Don’t miss fishing the mighty Smith River with pro river guide Kevin Brock (800-995-5543).

- Get your spring Delta sturgeon fix with pro guide Captain Barry Canevaro. Book him at 916-777-6498. Tell him Ryan sent you.

- Ahh, local farm ponds can hold huge bass. But promise me you will get permission first and “pack it in/pack it out.”

Well, finally … a mandatory California boating safety education law went live on Jan. 1. I quote: “If you operate a motorized recreational vessel on California waterways, you will be required to pass an approved boater safety exam and carry a lifetime California Boater Card when on state waterways.”

Go online for details, timing and approved courses at simple safety requirement has been too long in coming. It is amazing that untrained people have been able to jump into a big, powerful, dangerous boat — turn it on and take off — without a bit of training. Usually I’m likely to resist new government regs — but this is a good one that will save lives and make recreational boating a happier pastime for all of us.