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Denis Peirce: October starts Saturday

Denis Peirce


Guide Justin Leonard with a 40 inch, 34 pound striper caught with a top water plug this week This fish was released after the photo.
Submitted photo

The transition season between the summer heat and winter cold provides some of the best fishing of the year. In the fall, October is the prime month that features the cooling water that brings trout out of the lake depths to feed in the shallows. The streams cool as well. Normally in the valley the salmon should be arriving in peak numbers. Reservoir bass will be feeding up for winter. Off the coast the rock fish move out of the deep water and move into the relative shallows, less than 100′, to spawn. Opportunities abound if you make the time this month.

From the end of the heat wave of early September through the rain storm that dropped 2.5 inches, water temps at Eagle Lake dropped from the low 70’s down to 65 degrees. Eagle Lake typically has one water temp from the surface down to 40′ during the summer. This entire mass has to cool and does so more slowly than other lakes. The magic temp for the fishing to take off here is 61 degrees. In the warmer water, the trout are focused on daphnia and insects for food. There are plentiful tui chub minnows in the one to two inch range but the trout have not been focused on them yet. This will change as the water cools below the 61 degree mark.

The launch ramp remains a problem for larger boats. It is possible to get bigger boats in and out but you need to be aware of the shallow conditions.

Lake Davis has dropped down to the low 60’s. Guide Ed Dillard resumed guiding the lake last weekend and produced limits for his clients. The overnight air temps have dropped to 28 degrees recently. This along with the shorter days will have the lake into the 50’s soon. Lake Davis fishes well through the range of 60 down to the high 40’s.

Lake Almanor dropped a full 10 degrees in September. When the water was over 70 the fish were concentrated on the cool water springs and the Hamilton Branch of the Feather River. Once the water dropped down to the low 60’s the fish scattered around the lake and from the surface to the bottom. This has made fishing tough in the short run. When the fish were concentrated on cool water there was a predictable pattern. As the fish scatter it takes a while for a new pattern to develop. As of last weekend no new pattern had developed and results were poor. I expect good fishing to resume shortly.

Pyramid Lake NV reopens to trout fishing tomorrow after its summer closure. Water temps are in the low 60’s which is a bit warm for shore anglers. Boaters can get out and fish deeper where the trout will be in October. Shore anglers get into good fishing during November as the water drops into the mid 50’s.

Tom Page, Reel Anglers Fly Shop, has been guiding the Lower Yuba. He reports few salmon have arrived so far. Last year the salmon were plentiful by the first of October with a good egg bite behind them for steelhead. This year the salmon, which have been plentiful off the coast, have not shown up in any significant numbers in the valley rivers. The river fishing for trout remains in a summer pattern. During the day subsurface presentations with nymphs produce fish and late in the day there are good caddis hatches that get the fish to feed at the surface.

Yes, there are some salmon in the valley rivers, but the bite is tough with one fish per boat considered above average. These fish have to come in sometime and I hold out hope that they will arrive late and in good numbers.

The river salmon guides have switched to striper fishing. In good salmon years the stripers are an underutilized resource in the early fall with everyone chasing salmon. The south side of the Delta has been fishing very well for stripers. On good days guides can produce dozens of keeper size fish on a variety of methods. Trolling, drifting minnows, spooning and throwing top water all have produced under the right conditions.

For those willing to drive a day to the Rogue River in southern Oregon, the chinook salmon have moved up river. Currently the silver salmon have moved into the estuary. A friend caught a 16 pounder this week. The river has cooled to 64 degrees which allows the salmon to migrate up river. There are also half-pounder steelhead moving through the system.

In the decades I have been living here in the foothills, most years the warm weather lasts until October 15. A recent check with the forecast says that we will be dry until then. Middle October is the first chance for a change in the weather. If you want to fish in mild weather the next two weeks are a good bet. Beyond that I am hoping for wet fall conditions. Go fishing in October!

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



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