Denis Peirce: Looks like we’ll reel in a good year |

Denis Peirce: Looks like we’ll reel in a good year

Denis Peirce

Our recent series of storms have knocked down the fishing in the short run but have given lots of hope for the medium to long run.

I am reminded of the adage: “If you add water you will get fish!”

The lower Yuba River which had been flowing at a steady 1,000 cubic feet per second rose to 7,000 and has dropped back to the 1,200 cfs range. By this weekend the color should be getting better.

Our three biggest reservoirs have risen considerably in the last 15 days. Lake Oroville has come up 37 feet, Bullard’s Bar rose 27 feet, and Folsom Lake 23 feet. More launch ramps at Oroville will become available, Lime Saddle is functional at 710 feet, which we should hit by the time you read this. The problem with mud on the Bullard’s Bar ramp at Dark Day is now about 30 feet below the surface.

My most recent first-person reports come from Justin Leonard (Facebook: Out Cast Guide Service) who has been on Bullard’s Bar multiple days this week. The kokanee bite continues, he has been catching fish from the surface down to 40 feet. He is marking fish deeper but has not targeted them. The most common size fish he has been landing are in the 10.5- to 12-inch range. His largest was over 13 inches, which bodes well for good size fish this summer.

Justin has been running a “Top Line” about 80 feet behind the boat as well as lines off his down riggers at multiple depths. All of the depths have produced kokanee for him at speeds of 1.3 to 1.4 mph.

Bullard’s Bar has been producing world record spotted bass in the last few years. The speculation is that the bass have been feeding on the schools of kokanee to attain their record size. Justin has been trolling a 5-inch “Kokanee” trolling fly hoping to hook a bass. He was not successful while trolling for kokanee. He ended up increasing the speed toward 2.0 mph and ran the fly close to the bottom along steeply sloping banks. This got him some hits. He put two modest-sized bass in the boat by trolling from point to point across the mouth of a cove with a small creek feeding into the back end. The two bass were caught a few feet off the bottom in 40 feet of water. He will be continuing to troll for bass.

Current lake temperature is 51 degrees. The water is a chalky color with 2 to 3 feet of visibility in the Dark Day arm. Down by the dam the water is a shade of green with 4 feet of visibility. This weekend there will be a bass tournament on Bullard’s Bar.

Another fishery that has been producing is Pyramid Lake, Nevada. The water temp remains a “balmy” 45 degrees, which is warm for late January. The recent storms have produced rain at lake level and snow on the surrounding hills. During the storms the fishing pressure was light but a few anglers have been on the water catching fish.

Mickey Baron, who winters at Pyramid each year reports an angler catching more than half a dozen trout from shore, south of Block House. The angler was fly fishing balance leeches below an indicator. His largest fish was 7 pounds.

Reports from the Feather River near Oroville mention some trout/steelhead being taken in the Low Flow stretch despite the silty brown water. Night crawlers and spoons have been the lures of choice. The American River through Sacramento has been producing winter run steelhead. Water clarity has been better than the lower Yuba and the flows have been consistently near 1,750 cfs for the entire month.

Tom Page, Reel Angler’s Fly Shop, reports one of his customers hooking 10 fish, landing only three, on an olive Wooly Bugger style fly. Unconfirmed rumors mention a 34-inch steelhead being landed on the American.

The recent rains have raised the Sacramento River from 6,000 cfs up to 44,000 cfs and it is now declining. This is exactly the conditions that bring the sturgeon up from the bay into the Sacramento River for their spawn in a couple of months. The high flows also float dead trees and other debris into the river making navigation hazardous for the immediate future. But once the river settles down sturgeon will be on the agenda.

Most of our local lakes have been “Blown Out” with muddy creek flows during the heavy rains. As the creeks clear up, the lakes will begin to slowly settle out. The snow pack in the high country is above average.

We are headed into a good year for fishing.

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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