Peirce: Sacramento continues to have best salmon fishing |

Peirce: Sacramento continues to have best salmon fishing

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

We are past Labor Day and are fast approaching the fall equinox. The shortening of the daylight hours is quite noticeable. The salmon season continues to be of prime interest for many anglers.

The full moon this week will bring the largest influx of salmon of the season into our valley rivers.

Simultaneous with this, the waters in the valley rivers are being cut back.

The Yuba River has dropped from 1,400 cubic feet per second in mid-August to the fall level of 600 cfs by Sept. 1. This level will be maintained with only rainfall to raise it during the fall months.

The salmon have been working their way up the river and anglers are awaiting the start of the “egg bite.”

The egg bite begins with the salmon getting into spawning mode and eggs drifting with the current. At this time, the trout throw caution to the wind in their aggressive pursuit of salmon roe.

Once these fish have felt the point of a hook, they become more selective with respect to size and color of the eggs they will put in their mouth. The start of the egg bite provides some of the best fishing of the year on the Lower Yuba.

Until the egg bite arrives, the evening caddis hatch is continuing. During the day you can continue to catch trout/steelhead on San Juan worms and various nymph patterns.

The Feather has seen a slow decline in water flows from 1,725 down to 1,350 over the last month. The determinant of down river flows is influenced by agricultural pumping but the trend is lower during fall months.

There have been salmon caught at Star Bend, Boyd’s Pump and at the top of the Shanghai Bend. The low flows have allowed for only two boats to fish the top of Shanghai Bend.

Navigation has been a problem throughout the river. The coolest flows are up in the wildlife area below Oroville. There should be a major influx of salmon by next week.

The best valley salmon fishing has been on the Sacramento River from Los Molinos upriver. The river is low and boat traffic in these upper area is a problem.

The guides working this area continue to produce salmon primarily on roe.

There are salmon being caught in the warmer water down river through the delta but the success is limited by the warm water,

In contrast to the declining flows in the Sacramento Valley, there has been a dramatic increase in the flows out of Trinity Lake, down the Trinity River into the lower Klamath River. This was a political decision made to cool the lower Klamath to prevent a major salmon die-off.

The flows started with a spike of over 2,000 cfs and a cutback to 950. This flow will continue to the 14th of this month then go back to 450 cfs.

This water expenditure has prompted a major influx of salmon from the saltwater. The angling in the lower river was wide open and the quota of adult salmon was reached.

From the confluence with the Trinity River at Weichpec down to the mouth. only smaller jack salmon may now be kept. The increased flows have brought good numbers of salmon up the Trinity River. Bank fishing is tough at 950 cfs but it will be more practical at 450.

The quantity of salmon entering our rivers is increasing. The ratio of bright fish to dark is shifting away from the “silver bullets” toward the bronze-colored salmon.

The sooner you get out, the better the quality of the fish. The water temps will gradually be cooling with the shorter days and cooling nights. What we need is rain.

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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