Spring officially arrived this week although we have had spring like weather for some time now.
The number of daylight hours and the higher angle of the sun in the sky are combining to raise water temps and put the fish on the bite.
From the low elevations to the high country, the fish are out of the winter doldrums and on the move.
In the Sacramento River system, the sturgeon are up river from Knight’s Landing up past Colusa. Brett Brady (www.fishbarebones.com) has been fishing for sturgeon since early February. Most of his fish have been over the 40- to 60-inch slot limit.
Typically he fishes from evening through the night into the following morning.
This season has been unusual in that he has yet to land a fish in the dark. His clients have hooked up in the dark but dawn has broken before the fish have been landed.
Sturgeon are noted for their nocturnal feeding
but for Brady, mornings have been the most productive this season.
The stripers are moving out of the delta and the last report I had put good numbers in the Freeport area and moving up river.
The water temps near Colusa have been in the 54- to 56-degree range which is warm for this date in March.
Brady predicts that the peak striper spawn will take place this year around the full moon April 25. He bases this on the water temps and how late in the month the full moon occurs.
If you want to fish stripers in the river, save some dates in late April.
Local lakes have been producing good results. I met up with Mike Pumphery on the water at Rollins Lake recently.
He had told me of the good bass bite which prompted me to go. We were both fishing a stretch of shoreline more than 100 yards long.
I started at one end and worked toward his boat. I had no success fishing the steep rocky bank until I reached the downed timber lying in the water, where Pumphery had been fishing.
Then the action started. The bass were feeding in the branches of the submerged trees.
A soft plastic pond smelt imitation fished in 15 feet of water on the outside edge of the structure put bass in the boat.
This pattern of bass in or near wood in the water is consistent at Rollins Lake. Rollins also received a trout plant last week.
Tom Page fished Scott’s Flat last weekend with good results, catching bass on pond smelt imitating flies.
The water was 52 to 54 degrees and clear enough to see the bottom in 15 to 20 feet of water.
He landed a mix of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The key for him was to fish the minnow imitation right on the bottom.
The bass would not come up off the bottom to take a fly. The pond smelt the bass were feeding on were 1- to 3-inches long. He was able to see many of the fish he was casting to.
This is the prime season for bass fishing at Collins Lake. The numerous trout plants have the largest bass feeding on the smaller rainbows.
A good strategy is to be on the water early when there is a slight breeze rippling the surface. This is the time to fish a rainbow trout swim bait.
Once the early morning breeze dies down and the lake glasses off, the swim bait loses effectiveness.
At that time try crawdad colored jigs, Sencos or spinner baits. The flooded bushes and trees are the highest percentage locations to concentrate on during this pre-spawn period.
Dan Grass fished Collins for last weekend from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. He concentrated on the creek arm trolling tube flies from the surface to the bottom in 20 feet of water. He took five trout which came from all depths.
Ed Fisk (fishtalesguideservice.com) was recently on Bullard’s Bar looking for kokanee. He found them feeding on the surface in the upper reaches of the North Yuba arm of the lake.
Fisk suspects they were feeding on hatching midges. The kokanee are small this time of the year but this is the only season when they will come to the top of the water column.
If you ever wanted to try for them with a fly rod this is a brief window of opportunity at Bullard’s Bar.
The past couple of weeks have been very good for brown trout fishing on Lake Almanor. Brian Roccucci (bigdaddyguideservice.com) has been trolling the shore line for browns which have moved shallow to feed on the pond smelt. The smelt are spawning now.
The areas that are productive for him have rock that is about the size of basketballs, and a steep shore drop off that puts him over 10 feet of water only 20 feet out from the bank. Running his boat in these circumstances requires pulling his lures 150 feet or more behind his boat.
Roccucci expects this pattern to continue for a couple of weeks more before the smelt move back out to deeper water.
Rick Kennedy (fishtightlines.com) made his first trip to Stampede Monday. The road is open but there was still ice on the ramp.
From 6:30 to 10 a.m., the surface was glass and the water temp was 37 degrees. Kennedy tried fishing deep for mackinaw and trolling the shore line for browns without success.
By 10, a breeze put a ripple on the water and the mackinaw bite came on. Kennedy was fishing the bottom in 60 feet of water with a 5.5 inch Stingfish lure.
He picked up five macs with the largest going 10 pounds. Three of his five fish had been dining on 6 inch kokanee in the recent past. Kennedy did hit one patch of water as warm as 42 degrees in the shallows behind the island.
We are in the peak spring fishing season now. Schedule your time accordingly.
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.