Last week’s column anticipated an inflow of salmon into the valley rivers. The intervening week did not disappoint.
Beginning last Friday, the salmon fishing on the lower Feather River began ramping up.
Bob Bouke from Johnson’s Bait & Tackle reported lots of salmon being hooked. Bob spends quite a few mornings on the river, and in addition to the fish hooked, he saw good numbers of travelling fish passing under his boat on the fish finder.
Most of the action reported came from the Yuba City area where there are quite a few anglers on the water.
Given the action in the Yuba City area, the action at the afterbay hole near Oroville was disappointing early in the week.
Craig Bentley (Huntington’s Sports in Oroville) reported poor results through Tuesday evening. All that changed overnight.
At first light Wednesday, the salmon were in the hole and on the bite.
Craig heard that there were 40 salmon taken by shore anglers.
There were guides who limited out their boats by 8:30 a.m. The mix of fish was 50/50, bright and colored fish. Craig estimates that there were a few thousand fish in the hole.
But just as the Tuesday/Wednesday was a dramatic change, the Wednesday/Thursday shift was just as dramatic.
Thursday morning was very slow again. The best guess is that the school has moved up into the cooler water of the low flow section.
The conclusion is that you have to be on the water when the fish are there.
The day after doesn’t have any guarantees. This recent influx of fish will have the Oroville area packed with anglers for this holiday weekend.
The water flow regime has again been changed on the Feather. The low flow stretch of the river through Oroville has been cut back to 1,000 cubic feet per second; the flows coming over the afterbay dam have been increased to 4,500 for a combined 5,500 continuing to flow downstream.
The total volume has not changed, only the mix of the low flow and afterbay. There has been a 2-degree increase in water temps in both the low-flow and the high-flow areas.
The decrease in the low flow may be in anticipation of the salmon spawn and reducing flows to a level sustainable for the entire fall season. The lowered flows also make angler access much better for wading fishermen.
The low flow is closed to salmon fishing, but the steelhead angling is very good. The difficulty for the steelhead angler is getting past the salmon. The salmon are so thick that you can’t swing a line through them without foul hooking a fish. A recent angler lost a dozen glow bugs on salmon to catch three steelhead.
The solution was to fish the glow bugs on a floating fly line and to keep the egg imitations at the top of the water column over the heads of the salmon. The steelhead would come up to the egg.
The Lower Yuba River is also changing. The water flows have been decreased by 100 cfs per day starting Aug. 22, and the flows will be down to 700 cfs by Sunday.
Typically when the river changes volume, the fish go off the bite.
The flows are being dropped now prior to the salmon spawn so that the redds will not be stranded above the water line during the lower flows of fall.
For the months of September, October and November, the Yuba River above the Highway 20 Bridge will be closed to all fishing.
There is very good news from the Klamath/Trinity Rivers. The water releases from Trinity Dam were reinstated by a judge in Fresno, and the increased releases commenced Monday.
The initial surge went from 500 cfs up to 2,500 cfs.
This was intended to flush the algae out of the system.
This flow is being ramped down to 900 cfs by this weekend, which is an excellent fishing level. Look for a surge of salmon moving up the Trinity in the near future.
The mouth of the Klamath had been almost closed off by the sand bar with only a thin flow over the top. This condition was blown out by the low tides a week ago.
The salmon have been moving out of the cold salt water entering the warm estuary and heading back out to the ocean. The surge from the Trinity reached the lower Klamath Wednesday.
The water temps are ranging from 69 to 71 degrees. I expect salmon results in this area to explode.
For the last two weeks, steelhead have been moving into the Klamath, and they have been providing most of the action in the lower river.
There have been good numbers of adults, but the bulk of the action has been provided by the half-pounders.
Most of the fishing has come from Blue Creek down to the mouth. There are fish above Blue Creek but there is no need to boat above this point due to the number of fish in the downstream reaches.
I expect the steelhead to move up river as the salmon arrive. I also expect the fishing focus to move away from steelhead and onto the salmon.
For this holiday weekend, there are other options in the Sierra.
The North Yuba is always a good bet for a day trip. The higher elevations will have the coolest water and better fishing.
Fuller Lake above Nevada City has been recently planted and should provide good trout fishing.
Lake Davis has begun to cool down. On Aug. 21, the area received a solid eight hours of rain.
The surface water temps were swinging from the low to high 60s during the course of a day early this week.
After the storm, morning air temps were in the 30-degree range. Ed Dillard (dillardguidedfishing.net) has been doing well trolling 15 feet down over water 30 feet deep.
Jackson Meadows continues to fish well for trollers getting down to the 45-foot depth.
What I have found interesting this season is how under-used the campgrounds at Jackson Meadows have been.
I have asked the anglers giving me fishing reports, and they have consistently remarked that there were many open spaces.
Sunday is the opening day for dove season. I have noticed quite a few around the Penn Valley area.
The Spenceville Wildlife Area, near Smartsville, is a suggestion for hunters without private land access.
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 via his website at www.fineflies.com.