Denis Peirce: October — good angling ahead |

Denis Peirce: October — good angling ahead

This week we passed through the equinox, officially going from summer into fall. Just ahead we will enter one of the prime fishing months of the year, October. It is the transition times that herald the best fishing of the year.

The fall run salmon have finally come into the valley rivers in numbers sufficient for decent salmon fishing. The full moon in September has traditionally brought the biggest numbers of salmon moving into fresh water. The year 2016 is not shaping up to be a good year for the overall salmon run. But for an individual angler the limit is only two fish and that is not too great of a goal to reach on any given day. An angler who knows where and how to catch a river salmon has a good shot.

Most years, the Sacramento River has significantly more fish than the Feather. Generally speaking the Sacramento has more water flow and better salmon fishing. This year has been an exception. The flows on the Feather have been greater at times than the Sacramento and the fishing currently has been good. Bob Bouke, Johnson’s Bait & Tackle, reports anglers have had success from Verona up to Oroville. The water temps near Yuba City have been a degree or two below the magic 65 degree mark where the salmon begin to bite well. The Feather has been high enough to run prop boats if you pick your river lane well.

The salmon are moving rapidly and are only pausing briefly in the deeper holes before resuming their migration. The most consistent area for the salmon has been the Oroville Wild Life Area at the top of the river. It offers the best access for shore based anglers.

The steelhead/rainbow trout fishing in the valley rivers has been improving on the Feather and Yuba Rivers. Tom Page, Reel Anglers Fly Shop, reports the 14 to 18 inch rainbows have been active on the Feather near Oroville. The trout bite near Redding on the Sacramento has slowed.

Page fishes regularly on the Lower Yuba and it continues to get better. On his most recent outing the trout have been rising to caddis patterns. These bugs are out in good numbers which is a change from earlier in the year. Typically the caddis are most active in the spring and late summer/fall. The spring hatch was poor but the hatch has rebounded recently with the fish are keying in on them. The best producing flies have been caddis patterns, #16 in tan.

What Page is anticipating is the fall egg bite. He spotted the first salmon in the river a month ago hanging out in the deepest holes. In the past week he saw the first spawning redds of the season. The salmon numbers this year are way down but the timing is right. As the spawning activity gets under way the steelhead will be looking for eggs.

Another river to consider is the Trinity. Normal flows for this time of year are 350 cfs. It has been flowing at 1000 cfs for weeks and this will bring salmon and steelhead up river. Reports from the weirs near Willow Creek show a number of days with 50 to 70 salmon passing through. These are not high numbers by historical standards but it indicates fish on the move.

Up in the high country, the water temps in the lakes are beginning to come down. Lake Almanor had dropped down to the upper 60s at the surface a week ago. Trollers were picking up trout at the 35 foot depth. Early in the morning there is some surface activity on the west shore.

The trout are chasing pond smelt and there are the beginnings of the fall midge hatch.

Donner Lake just completed its annual draw down but the launch ramp is still functional. The kokanee are starting into their fall color change before the spawn. It won’t be long before the leaves begin to change at the upper elevations.

Jon Baiocchi has been fishing Davis Lake. The water has dropped to the mid 60s and the trout are beginning to show along the west shore feeding on insects. Jon reports blood midges and callibaetis hatching. Davis fishes best when the water drops into the 50s, which should happen in the next few weeks. The problem at Davis is low numbers of trout. The good news is the size of the fish. Many of them are in the 20 inch range.

Pyramid Lake outside of Reno reopens Oct. 1. The water will be warm and the fish will be deep at first. If we get a storm or two to blow through things can cool off and the shore fishing will get good.

October is at hand and it will feature some of the best fishing of the year. Plan 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

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