Denis Peirce: The best fishing has yet to come |

Denis Peirce: The best fishing has yet to come

Denis Peirce

Last weekend was the fall equinox and on Monday we had the September full moon. These events pass with little notice in our work-a-day indoor world, but in the natural world they can be significant events.

There is a decent chance of rain early next week. I am seeing leaves falling onto the lawn and other hints that the season is turning.

The most noteworthy fishing is the salmon run in the valley rivers. In the past 10 days good numbers of salmon have been spotted in the Yuba River. This seems late to me. I recall when salmon fishing was legal on the Lower Yuba, fishing for them on Labor Day Weekend and seeing schools of them swimming upriver.

‘Egg bite’

Tom Page, Reel Angler’s Fly Shop, said that the “egg bite” has started. Currently there is not any noticeable salmon spawning which brings on the best egg bite at the tail outs of the pools.

The best bet for an aggressive bite on egg imitations is centered on the shallow water flowing over the gravel bars.

At the beginning of September the lower Yuba River flows were dropped from 1100 cubic feet per second down to 740 cubic feet per second. At these lowered flows many gravel bars are barely covered with water.

As the salmon exert themselves to get over these obstacles the hens lose eggs. The trout figure this out quickly and they position themselves ready for an egg to eat. There continues to be a decent bite with trout feeding on the local insect population.

The average trout will be in the 12 to 15 inch range. A good size one will be 16 to 18 inches.

For local anglers the closest good salmon fishing has been the Feather River. The flows are still relatively high at 6000 cubic feet per second.

Boat anglers below the After Bay Hole are consistently catching salmon “dragging roe.” The boat is drifting on the current pulling roe along the bottom upstream of the boat.

One of the benefits of fishing roe is the incidental trout/steelhead catch. There are quite a few fish in the 14 to 15 inch range similar to the Yuba River. But there are also some bigger steelhead in the system.

Guide Brett Brady,, picked up a four pound and a six pound steelhead on one day this week.

Shore anglers in the Oroville Wildlife Area are picking up fish. Roe or egg imitations are effective along with spinners.

There, a number of anglers “flossing” salmon, swinging long leaders through shallow runs, getting the line across the fishes mouth as they breath. In an attempt to curtail this method the rules on leader length have been changed.

Read the rules before you go!

On the hunt for salmon

On the Sacramento River the salmon run is also strong. A lot of the fishing pressure is up river where the water is cooler in the area around Corning and above.

Guide Justin Leonard (Facebook: Out Cast Guide Service) left the Feather to fish the Sacramento for a couple of trips this week. He launched at Woodson Bridge and fished down river.

He observed that the average Sacramento salmon was smaller that the typical Feather fish. He did well fishing roe in the deep holes with few if any steelhead showing.

Striper fishing on this area of the Sacramento remains good for those anglers not focused on salmon. I have heard reports of some large fish up to 30 pounds being taken recently. Are these recent arrivals from down river or are they resident fish that the salmon have pushed out of their normal haunts?

Kokanee, the other salmon, are starting to make their move to spawn in some of the Sierra lakes. A friend working for the Department of Fish & Wildlife has been scouting for egg taking locations.

To date, pre-spawn kokanee are in the lower reaches of Sagehen Creek and the Little Truckee River flowing into Stampede reservoir. Above Boca Reservoir there are a few kokanee showing near the “Bat Cave” on the Little Truckee.

In contrast, none are yet showing in Bucks Creek flowing into Bucks Lake or the Mokelumne flowing into Pardee.

The kokanee numbers at Bullard’s Bar lend credence to the mature fish moving up toward the North Yuba. In all of these kokanee lakes next years spawners are available.

Busy bass

Tom Page fished Bullard’s Bar for bass recently. He did not start fishing until after 7 a.m.

For the first few hours there was a good top water bass bite.

Most of the spotted bass were in the one to one and a half pound range but the action was consistent all morning. He was catching fish right next to the bank as well as fish coming up from the depths as the poppers were worked out over deeper water.

As is typical for bass fishing, structure was the key to locating fish. Points and rock piles were the most productive locations. When he could find a stump it meant at least one bass and if he found multiple stumps these produced a fish per stump. By midday he switched tactics and fished bait fish imitating fly down deeper and continued to pick up bass.

Other bass reports had a different take on the bass. These reports from Collins, Rollins and Folsom had the bass deep in 30 feet of water. The pattern was to locate schools of bait fish which were near the bottom and fish slowly.

Drop shotting soft plastics just off the bottom produced good results. If you can find flats at this depth, work the area well.

Next Monday begins October, which is one of the best months of the year for fishing. Water temps in the lakes will be falling through the prime temperatures and the fish will be feeding up before the winter months.

The salmon spawn peaks around Halloween which focuses the trout/steelhead on the egg bite in the valley rivers.

From the Delta up through the high country the bite will be on for stripers, bass and trout. If you don’t plan now, you will miss it.

See you out there on the water.

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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