Spring has arrived and with it is some of the best local angling of the year. The recent rains give the appearance of normal water conditions, even if we know better.
The spring transition from the too-cold winter water to the too-warm summer temps provides some of the best opportunities of the year at valley and foothill locations.
The Lower Yuba River is fishing well. Tom Page, owner of Reel Anglers Fly Shop, guided the river last Sunday and Monday. Tom identified seven different insects that were present on the river.
There were three varieties of stone flies, three mayflies, as well as at least one caddis species.
With all of the insects hatching, the trout are well-fed and active. Tom’s clients hooked all of their fish near the bottom using nymphs. At various times there was surface activity, but the majority of the feeding was taking place just above the gravel bed on the bottom of the river.
April and May are the peak of trout fishing on the Lower Yuba. The flows are down to 520 cubic feet per second, which requires pushing boats over gravel bars in some places. The water has a green tint with three to four feet of visibility.
On some days you can expect to see quite a few other anglers on the water.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife has been busy planting trout in many waters in Nevada County. This month they have planted Scott’s Flat and Lower Scott’s Flat, Fuller, Donner, Boca and Stampede.
Next week they will be at Rollins Lake again. This is a bit earlier than years past.
The Truckee River has been fishing well, especially the lower river toward the state line where the water is a bit warmer. An indication of this is the early return of swallows and robins.
These birds are insect feeders and would not be in the area if their food was not available. Another sign is small red and black ants have emerged from winter hibernation.
These are not to be confused with the big carpenter ants, which normally appear in late May. The lower the elevation, the more active the food chain.
Dave, a friend from Nevada City, fished Jackson Meadows last Saturday. This is the earliest I know of vehicles (other than snowmobiles) reaching the lake from the east side.
Dave towed his boat over Henness Pass before 7 a.m. The road on the west slope had four miles of snow cover that was frozen solid on his way in. By the afternoon it was slush. He had to chain up his truck and not slow down to get back out.
The fishing was fair. Water temps were 40 to 43 degrees over the course of the day. A total of six rainbows were landed, all were in the 14-inch range. The current storm system is probably adding to the snow on the road.
If you go, be prepared. Worst case would be spending the night or else coming home down the west slope roads.
Guide Rick Kennedy (www.fishtightlines.com) made his first trip to Stampede Reservoir last week. His intention was to target mackinaw.
The mackinaw were not cooperating that day. What he did see were kokanee feeding at the surface. He switched to top lining kokanee gear and started to catch fish.
Rick noticed kokanee schools at 30 to 50 feet down and caught them at those depths, also. The fish at the surface averaged about 10 inches, and the deep kokanee were up to 2 inches longer.
This is early for the kokanee bite, and expect them to put on inches as the season comes on. The surface temp was 43 degrees and there was no snow to hinder launching.
If you have ever considered catching kokanee on a fly rod, the next month will be a good bet while they are near the surface.
On the Sacramento River, sturgeon fishing has been very good for the past month. Despite the low water flows, these fish have come up as far as Colusa. The best conditions for boat launching are at Tisdale, Knights Landing and Verona.
Above these ramps, conditions are marginal and navigation can be a problem for prop boats.
The stripers are showing in this area also. There have been doubts as to whether the striper run would occur this far up river. These fish can spawn as far down as the delta, and the low flows in the rivers might not be to their liking.
In the past week, anglers have been catching smaller males. This is a good sign that there will be a spring run in the river. It is all dependent on flows and temperature.
Even with the drought, the river flows are based on water demand. It is possible that these controlled flows may occur when the stripers need them.
Bass angling continues to improve. Tom Moreno’s pond in Penn Valley continues to warm. In the past week, the bass have moved into the shallows in a pre-spawn mode.
The bluegill and catfish are also active. The pond temp is 57 degrees. In contrast, Lake Oroville is 51 degrees, and bass fishing is much slower.
At Scott’s Flat, the smallmouth bass have been seen in the shallows. This local lake is only a few feet below full and is a good bet for both trout and bass fishing this spring.
Note: The Gold Country Fly Fishers’ next meeting is 6 p.m Tuesday. The program features Dr. Mary Peacock from the University of Nevada, Reno, giving a presentation on the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in Pyramid Lake. All interested persons are welcome to attend. Park at gate No. 2 at the fairgrounds.
Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him at www.trollingflies.com.