Denis Peirce: The season has changed |

Denis Peirce: The season has changed


The rains have arrived. Most years, prior to Oct. 15, you can count on warm Indian Summer conditions and after that date, the wet season begins. This year fits the pattern. There is heavy rain predicted for this weekend which could change the river fishing for the better.

Tom Page, Reel Angler’s Fly Shop, has been guiding regularly on the Lower Yuba. He continues to see more salmon arriving and moving up the river. Along with the salmon there seem to be more rainbows and steelhead setting up feeding stations behind the salmon redds. They are eating loose eggs and insects put into the current as the salmon dig. The only event that could make this scenario better for anglers is the weather expected this weekend.

The best Lower Yuba fishing I have experienced has come with the first heavy rains, if they coincide with the peak spawning. This brings on a combination of overcast skies, a rising river flow and a stain to the water. The water coming from Englebright Reservoir will not get colored for some time. The stain comes from the combined flows of Deer and Squirrel creeks which enter the river downstream from the dam. For me, a glance at Squirrel Creek in Penn Valley will confirm the conditions at this time of year.

It would be nice if the really good fishing happened on warm sunny days under bright skies. But for steelheading on California rivers, standing in the river during a rainstorm can be as good as it gets if dressed properly.

For the salmon anglers, we are getting to the end of the season. The fish at the top of all of the rivers are well past their prime and best left alone. The best chance for fresher fish is lower down the Sacramento River below the mouth of the American River. The salmon run on the American is later than the other Sacramento River tributaries. I have heard reports of salmon being spotted going upriver at night. These fish can be spotted swimming over the very shallow riffles. Nighttime is their best bet for traveling in water as little as a few inches deep. The problem on the Sacramento River has been clear water. Guide Justin Leonard noted that he can see his flasher as much as seven feet down in the Sac Metro area. He has hooked salmon at first light in these conditions but daytime angling has been tough. Even though we will be getting significant rain this weekend I doubt conditions that far down river will change quickly. Justin is planning on moving his guide trips to the Delta in the near future to fish for stripers.

Up in the high country things are getting better. Lake Almanor is fishing well, as is normal for this time of the year. The problem is the launch ramps are still closed. There are burnt trees which constitute a falling hazard. Until these can be cleared, the forest service will keep the access closed. I believe that if the ramps were opened there would be a significant economic impact for the area. For the sake of the jobs in Plumas County, opening these ramps should be a priority. There are private ramps but they lack good parking.

Eagle Lake is also fishing well. It is late October and the water temps are in the 50s, prime time. As is standard for Eagle this time of year, orange trolling flies are doing well fished near the top of the water column. The fish will be in the shallows looking for food under low light conditions. Hopefully we will get enough precipitation this weekend to start the lake level rising.

Lake Davis does not have launching for larger boats. Only kayaks and car top boats have been getting on the lake. I have not gotten any authoritative reports, but this is prime time for Lake Davis. It should be worth the drive if snow levels don’t get too low.

The best lake fishing currently is on Pyramid Lake Nevada. The water has broken down through the 60 degree mark. The warm water layer extends down to the 60 foot level before getting cooler. The best fishing has been from 45 down to 65 feet. November is the month for the lake to cool well into the 50s and the fish will be more shore oriented and shallow.

Closer to home, Bob Lively fished Englebright last weekend. He and a partner put in eight hours on the water for no fish. They went through an entire tackle box of options without result. The fish were there. They were on the sonar screen but they were not in a feeding mood that day.

The season has changed and we can expect better fishing on many of our north state waters.

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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