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Denis Peirce: The Dog Days of Summer

Denis Peirce

It is the last week of July and the Dog Days of Summer are here. With air temps hovering near the triple digits it can be tough to get motivated to get out on the water from midday on through the evening. There are some alternatives to consider, the best of which are a trip to the coast or up to the highest elevations. Both can get you into some cooler options.

On the coast we are seeing one of the better salmon fishing seasons. The salmon boats are regularly returning to port with limits of salmon up to 25 pounds. As a general rule the schools of fish will be converging off the Golden Gate getting ready to head up the valley rivers. The boats based in San Francisco Bay are ideally situated for good August salmon fishing.

Last year’s salmon run was good at approximately 100,000 fish. This year is supposed to be double last year’s run.

There are some salmon in the valley. The biggest concentration are nosed into the mouth of the American River. Currently, the American is flowing at 4,000 cfs; someone is buying a lot of water. The temperature is 65 degrees in the American flowing into the Sacramento River, which is 77 degrees. The consensus of opinion is that these are Sacramento River fish taking a break in cool 65 degree water before heading upriver. Those anglers trying the mouth of the American are having poor results. These fish are not showing much interest in biting.

Typically, the salmon runs head in from the saltwater on the highest tides that come with a full moon. The next full moons are Aug. 12 and Sept. 10. A couple of days after the full moon is a good bet for a lot of fish moving up the valley rivers. Now is the time to schedule river salmon trips based on the full moons.

The opposite direction is to head into the high country. You will find higher elevations south of Lake Tahoe. If you do not want to travel that far you can head up the hill locally. Guide Justin Leonard was camping up at Gold Lake recently. The water surface was 68 degrees, which is nice for swimming, but Justin noted that if you were treading water your feet were cold just five feet down. He did some fishing in the lake which produced a few nice mackinaw from the extreme depths. He tried for some browns and rainbows but was disappointed. The crawdads were cooperating and he caught a good number in a trap.

The other fishery that is approaching its seasonal peak is kokanee. These salmon will be turning color and heading up river in a few weeks. Limits have been the norm for anglers fishing them in Bullard’s Bar and up at Stampede. They have been putting on weight and length through the summer and this is the prime time of the year to catch them.

If you are looking for a river fishing option the Lower Yuba River is flowing at 1700 cfs with cold water coming from the bottom of Englebright. The trout in the river don’t know how warm the air is. An early morning trip can be the experience that you are looking for. Also the water flowing into the top of Englebright will have similar cold temperatures from the bottom of Bullard’s Bar.

The water flows on the North Yuba have dropped down to 150 cfs, which is low for this river in late July. I expect the water temps to be quite warm for a mountain stream.

When it comes to trout in particular, the problem with warm water is that it loses its ability to hold dissolved oxygen and the fish can’t breathe efficiently. Fighting a fish in relatively warm water can consume all of their oxygen and releasing them is not an option for them to survive. Please be kind to our trout.

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



Denis Peirce: The Dog Days of Summer

It is the last week of July and the Dog Days of Summer are here. With air temps hovering near the triple digits it can be tough to get motivated to get out on the…

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