Denis Peirce: End of the year looks promising for anglers
December 28, 2017
This weekend is your last chance to get some mileage out of your fishing license before it expires on Monday. The weather promises to be clear and there are some promising reports from local waters.
For river anglers the Lower Yuba has been producing a few adult sized fish. Jon Baiocchi (http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com) has been on the river and fishing the mayfly hatches during the warmest hours of the day, noon until 3 p.m. The most common mayflies have been "Blue Wing Olives."
The trout will feed on them at the surface during the hatch and on the nymphs earlier in the day. You need to be using small flies size #18 to imitate this bug.
There are other food items beginning to show.
Alevins, newly hatched salmon fry, are starting to emerge from the gravel. Baiocchi reports success with alevin patterns fished near the bottom. There are also skwala stone flies beginning to show. These bugs are at their peak in February but the first few individuals have emerged. Baiocchi has spotted a few in the riverside brush. The fish are not on the skwalas yet but this is a hopeful sign.
This fall the river has been producing mostly juvenile fish. In the last two weeks there have been reports of some good fish being landed and released. The largest was a 22 inch trout caught on a #16 pheasant tail above the Highway 20 bridge.
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An 18 inch and a 17 inch fish took #18 BWO dry flies during the early afternoon hatch. One of these came from the Hammond Grove area a few miles below the Highway 20 bridge.
Baiocchi has had the best results fishing smooth topped water below the fast riffles. Another good spot is a slick in the middle of a riffle if you can find one.
Justin Leonard (Out Cast Guide Service, Facebook) has been fishing the local lakes and has been doing well on trout from all of them. Scott's Flat has been producing rainbow trout with the water temp at 50 degrees.
Leonard has been working the perimeter of the lake looking for good sized browns. A big brown has eluded him so far but there are plenty of rainbows out over deep water. He has not picked up rainbows close to shore at Scott's Flat, they are scattered in open water.
At Englebright Reservoir the rainbows planted by the Department of Fish & Wildlife have spread out. A few weeks ago they were concentrated in the lower lake outside the marina. Now he has found some of them well above the "No Ski" buoy.
The water temp is 51 near the dam and drops to 48 degrees near the incoming rivers in the upper lake. There are still trout in the marina area for shore anglers to target.
Rollin's Lake has also been planted. Water temp 48 degrees near the dam and 46 degrees back the Bear River arm. All three of these lakes are producing trout from the top of the water column.
The best chance for a big trout will be to target brown trout around the shallows. The browns should be back in the lakes after their fall spawning runs up the tributaries. Big browns are rare but each of these lakes will have a few.
On Jan. 1, the Feather River above the Highway 70 bridge reopens to fishing. It has been closed since mid-summer for the salmon spawn. The target species is steelhead. The hatchery has been spawning these fish for the last few weeks. Post spawn fish are returned to the river. With no fishing pressure this stretch of the river holds a lot of steelhead.
When the hatchery is spawning salmon starting in September, steelhead come in with them. The hatchery personnel return the steelhead to the river to await their spawn which started in mid-December and can go through early February.
During the worst year of the drought less than 150 steelhead returned to the hatchery three years ago.
As of November, 500 steelhead had returned to the hatchery.
The Feather has been the place to steelhead fish this fall and the opener will have a lot of fish caught. But if you go you will not be alone. It is a very crowded mile of river at dawn on Jan. 1.
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 http://www.trollingflies.com.