Denis Peirce: Good fishing reports despite weather |

Denis Peirce: Good fishing reports despite weather

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

The winter El Nino has arrived.

I had expected the storms to have featured higher snow levels and warmer storms. On a recent drive over Donner Summit, I was encouraged to see a decent snowpack on the west slope.

Tom Moreno in Penn Valley recently sent me a link to water storage data for the state reservoirs. The graph shows current water storage versus historical levels.

Using Lake Oroville as an example, the storage is 35 percent of capacity and the historical average is 55 percent for this date.

We are getting water but we have a long way to go to get our reserve rebuilt.

The current prospects for fishing are pretty good if you can motivate yourself to get out in mixed weather.

The best fishery continues to be Pyramid Lake.

Ed Fisk was back with his boat last weekend.

The fishing again was quite good.

The water temp is only down to the 45 degree range. When he and I fished there in late December, the temp was 47.

Unless we get some sort of polar air mass I think we are seeing the lows for the season. A typical January water temp low is in the high 30s.

So the temps at Pyramid are quite balmy considering the calendar date.

Ed did well trolling the top 20 feet of the water column with the 11 foot depth the best producer.

With only two anglers in the boat, they landed a dozen fish per day and lost a few others.

The weather was overcast and breezy with waves getting up to two feet occasionally coming over the bow.

This is not your warm summer day outdoor experience, but if catching fish is your standard, Pyramid is doing well.

As with Ed’s previous trip, black flies were the top producer under dark skies.

Olive, tui chub flies also caught fish. The size ranged from a low of 18 inches up to the largest at 25.

The majority were in the 20 to 24 inch class.

There were good numbers of shore anglers. The concentrations were on the points.

Ed fished off Pelican, Spider and Warrior — and all of them had anglers.

Closer to home, Tom Page reports decent angling on the Lower Yuba River.

When we get heavy rains, the river gets stained.

The combined Deer and Squirrel Creeks enter the river below Englebright Dam and have an influence on the water clarity.

A glance at either creek will give some indication of water clarity on the Lower Yuba.

Two to three feet of visibility is typical when the two creeks calm down.

This can actually be good for fishing.

The fish can still see but are offered relief from the low clear conditions of a couple months ago.

Dark colored baetis nymphs in sizes 16 and 18 are standard winter patterns, as well as San Juan Worms.

There has been some surface feeding during the warmest times of the day on Blue Wing Olives (baetis) and “Pinkies.”

What many anglers are waiting for is the winter skwala stone fly hatch.

Tom has been guiding on the river regularly and has yet to see any of these one-inch-long bugs.

He has had reports from anglers spotting a few of them on the shore.

It is the season for these and I suspect they will appear on the river in the near future.

The bass tournaments have started for the year with decent results.

The typical pattern for winter bass fishing is a slow presentation, on the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water.

Drop shotting soft plastic worms or minnows on rocky structure has been producing.

The other standard is to slowly fish crawdad imitations, either jigs or tubes, along the bottom.

Scott’s Flat is rising nicely. It has come up 5 feet in the last week.

It is still 30 feet down from full but the launching problems of last fall are behind us.

I have yet to get any reports from this local lake, but each winter, good-sized browns are caught here. It is also a good smallmouth bass fishery.

I will be tying flies in the FFF booth at the ISE Show this Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. I plan on tying trolling flies for Pyramid Lake.

If you are at the show, please drop by and say hello.

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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