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Tom Stienstra

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Dear Tom,
I just read in the June issue of "Outdoors Unlimited" that your story "Coping With Death of a Loved One" has been selected for the anthology "Old Dogs Remembered." A friend of mine just had to put down her dog of 11 years due to cancer, and I'd love to send her this column. Could you please send it to me via e-mail or fax....via any way actually! Also, this blurb doesn't say who will publish "Old Dogs Remembered," or when. Could you send me that info as well?
Thanks very much,
Kitty Graham, Seattle

Dear Kitty,
The story was titled ""Coping with death of a loved one,'' and appeared on June 5, 1994 in the San Francisco Examiner. The book will feature a collection of essays, short pieces and poems by 45 writers, including works by James Thurber, E.B. White, Albert Payson Terhune, Louis Bromfield, John Updike and others. It is available by writing Synergistic Press, 3965 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94118.

Hey Tom,
I can't find any articles on the dead whale that washed up in Alameda last Thursday. Is this the same whale that was spotted around the Bay in May? How often do whales come into the Bay? Was this an unusual event?

Dear Gary,
Whales routinely swim in and out of San Francisco Bay, but it is extremely unusual for them to hang out for extended periods -- and they almost never head up into the Delta, al la Humphrey. The whale that washed up at Alameda may have been the same one fieldscout Mike Routson told of surfacing near the Dumbarton Bridge in the South Bay that I reported -- but nobody knows for sure. There were no significant identifying marks spotted when it surfaced at Dumbarton.

Mr. Stienstra,
I was recently walking through the aisles of Price Club and stumbled upon your book, California Camping. Being an avid fisherman, camper, hiker, and general outdoor enthusiast, I picked it up and thumbed through it a little. Looking at the price, I wavered a little, seeing as I already have many camping books which turned out to be mediocre at best. However, I bought the book and started looking through it when I arrived at home back in Napa.
I must congratulate and thank you for putting out such a great book, with such a wealth of camping and outdoors knowledge. I was simply amazed by the amount of work which must have gone into the book, and the thoroughness which it displays. Needless to say, I am very happy that I picked it up.
I have one question about the RV information. Many of the campgrounds state that they have X number of sites for RV's up to Y number of feet. However, many say they take X number of RV's and don't list a site length specification. Does that mean that the maximum RV length is open ended at the campground? I was unclear about it. I wasn't sure if RV's of all sizes are permitted, or if the information was simply not available. If you have a chance and could let me know, that would be terrific. Again, thanks for such an amazing book that I'm sure to hang onto in the future. It's definitely a keeper!
Thanks, Chris Hattich

Dear Chris,
Thanks for the kind comments -- and you make a great suggestion for future editions: You're 100 percent right. If no limit is mentioned, no limit has been reported to me from the RV camp owner. Enjoy the book and use it -- there are hundreds of secret spots in there.

Every now and then when reading your articles I get the urge to drop a note to you, (but I always think nah he probably gets enough phone calls, letters and e-mails and I don't want to add to the list) (this time I am).
I've noticed now and then a slight change in some of your articles since you became a "family man." And I think it's great. It sounds to me like you are experiencing some great times and loving it. Your story this Sunday once again hit home; it's funny how kids will do something and you know exactly what or how they feel cause you went through the same thing with your parents. (The bad part of this though is it makes me feel old sometimes.)
On a fishing note, I drove a good part of Friday night up to Lake Davis; I was sure that a $ trout had my name written on it. But alas it didn't. When I left around 2:00 Saturday afternoon, no one had caught any tagged fish yet. Then I found out no one did last year either, at least for $. But that's ok we got thirteen fish in the boat and had a good time, pulled out the boat and headed home.
Keep up the great writing, and happy first Father's Day.
Ken Kreischer
Santa Rosa Ca

Dear Tom,
Your column says a lot about why we go exploring in the great outdoors. I would add to that a variation of the seven 'P's for ensuring a good time in the outdoors: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. As much as possible, plan in advance so that you take what you need for where you are going and know roughly what to expect when you get there.
Consider a day spent aboard a party boat. Among the things that can wreck the day: 1) seasickness - how many people either don't take pills or eat sausage and eggs for breakfast and lose it after five minutes in the Potato Patch? 2) insufficient beverages - you lose a lot of fluid on the ocean 3) insufficient clothing - it may be 100 degrees in Sacramento, but you'd better have clothes for a polar ice storm just in case if you plan to fish for salmon at Duxbury Reef 4) sunburn - how many people didn't bring sunscreen and look like lobsters by day's end? We haven't even started talking about the fish: 1) proper tackle - you don't need tuna gear and it would help if the reel has been recently serviced and the line weren't five years old 2) proper technique - read up on fishing in advance and listen to all the tips the crew has to offer.
There are also the different boats to consider. Some boats (in the Bay Area) like the New Huck Finn of Emeryville provide a pleasant experience regardless of the fishing. Some like the New Seeker and New Salmon Queen are intended for the serious angler. Others like the Bass Tub of SF are for casual anglers - the boat leaves at 7:00 am instead of 5:30, comes back by 3:00 pm, and never leaves SF Bay. There are also boats who shall remain unnamed that are less than adequate about customer service or whose crews need a lesson in etiquette from Emily Post. Being on the wrong boat can make the day intolerable.
When I go fishing, I consider in advance where I'm fishing, what kind of fish are there, what they are most likely to bite, and how likely are they to bite. Why try to fish for trout with night crawlers in the Sierras in August when they're not expecting to see worms and are too intent on flies anyway? Or why try to fish for trout from the shoreline of Lake Berryessa in August when the trout are fifty feet down and unreachable? You're better off fishing for bluegills. Always have Plan B.
If I'm camping in the Sierras and the fish don't bite, there are always birds to watch, other wildlife to observe, and trails to hike. Being in the outdoors should be enough to enjoy the day.

Hi Tom -
Congratulations for winning those awards. You are my favorite outdoor columnist.
Liked your father's day column. Cute! I bet Dan Bacher still does that! He would fall in with the rod, the line would get wrapped around something, and he'd lose everything altogether. Ha! Ha!
Eric and I don't have kids; so, we borrow our friend's son, Jack. Jack is 9 yrs old. He's a little trooper. He never complains and is game for just about anything. Having kids around does put a different spin on things.
Best wishes, Paulette

I've been a long time reader of your writings. Thanks. I heard on the news last night about the re-discovery of Northern Pike at Davis Lake. What a shame. If someone is planting them on purpose, when caught he/she/they should be thrown naked into a small pond of full pike.
Anyway, we know that the Fish and Game will, must likely poison the lake again. The way things go with them, it probably won't be until next year before they get around to it. If that's what they're going to do, until they do, they should throw out all the regs for that lake only. No limits, no restrictions. Let the public fish out the lake rather than just kill all the fish. When the word gets out the town would benefit from that tiny rush and it would help them through the lean time to come. I'm telling you because of your contacts. You're much more able to spread the word than I.
Thanks also for keeping the Lake Merced problems in the public eye. I've fished there for the past 35 years and have seen the decline. Is there anything I can do? Same with inability of access to Crystal Springs Res., etc. What can the average citizen do?
Thanks again for your writings.
Tight Lines, Jeff Chow

Dear Jeff,
It is extremely unlikely that the DFG will again poison Lake Davis. In the short term, what is more likely is a fish-grinder at the spillway that kill any fish that make it over the dam and are heading into Grizzly Creek. In the long term, there are other options; a netting program in the spring when the pike spawn, a bounty on pike heads (severed from the body after being caught), and perhaps even draining the lake.

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