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Spring fishing is just around the corner

Denis Peirce
So far this year, the Delta has been the place to go to see striper. This is due to raised water temperatures.
Submitted Photo

We have turned the corner into spring but the wet weather of the last month continues to affect the water ways. From a seasonal perspective the striper run should be going strong in the valley rivers and in the Delta. In 2018 the striper bite was good beginning the last week of February. This year it is starting a month later. It has started to pick up in the Delta but the rivers are not fishing well yet.

As a general rule, if the rivers have good flows the stripers will come. We have good flows on both the Feather and the Sacramento rivers. On the Sacramento the flows have been too good. The river has been as high as 49,000 cubic feet per second at Colusa ten days ago. It has been steadily falling and it was down to 32,000 cubic feet yesterday.

The striper guides are saying that this weekend will mark the start of their season on the Sacramento River in the valley. The Feather River below the mouth of the Yuba is flowing at 13,000 cubic feet per second. The reports from the Feather mention a handful of fish caught for anglers launching out of Boyd’s Pump. At the mouth of the Feather, near Verona, the flow is high and dirty. The best results have come fishing the edges of the river where the current is broken up a bit.

The best striper reports have come from the Delta. The stretch of nice weather we had last week raised the water temps considerably in the lower Delta. A week ago the temps were 53 degrees and they are now as warm as 59 below Rio Vista. Last week the best fishing was below the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. Since then the action is moving up stream. On the San Joaquin side the water is considerably clearer above the mouth of the Mokelumne and trollers are doing well. The water has a lot less vegetation in the spring than in the fall. On the Sacramento side of the Delta, above Rio Vista, the water is dirtier and bait anglers have the advantage.

My best guess is that the bulk of the striper run is still in the Delta and good river fishing closer to home is in our near future.

For river trout anglers the high water is tough but fishable. The lower Yuba is flowing at 4500 cubic feet per second, which is high. The edges of the heavy current is where you can find the fish. Up on the Truckee River local anglers are out. The story is the same up there with strong flows and the fish in the soft water along the edges. Fishing heavy nymphs on the bottom has been effective.

Collins Lake has been heavily planted this winter. The water has a lot of suspended silt making visibility poor. The water does clear from the top down and the trout bite will be high in the water column. The most recent reports have not been encouraging but if we avoid any heavy rain events it will continue to improve. The water temp is in the 53 to 55 degree range, which is prime for trout and getting better for bass.

Lake Oroville has been rising, coming up 68 feet in the past month. Currently it is 60 feet below full pool with a surface temp of 49 degrees. The 8,000 cubic feet per second flows on the Feather River are about maintaining flood control space in the lake. The water is still stained with 4 feet of visibility. This is the month for the pond smelt spawn on the edges of the lake. I have yet to hear of good land locked salmon fishing along the shore line. I don’t know if it is the lack of anglers targeting them. The bass anglers are doing well at the 20 to 25-foot depths. They are using a variety of slow presentation baits like Sencos, drop shot rigs and shakey head worms.

Bullards Bar continues to get a lot of angler attention this year. Justin Leonard reports the kokanee are getting tougher to find. Twice recently he has seen an unusual event. In the back of a cove the kokanee were schooled up tight to the bank rather than out over deeper water. His best explanation for this was the school of kokanee being corralled by feeding bass.

Scotts Flat is full and the water is a nice shade of green. Shaun Rainsbarger was there more than a week ago and picked up some rainbow trout near the surface. The best fish of the day was an 18 inch rainbow. The next couple of months will be some of the best fishing of the year at Scotts.

Pyramid Lake, Nevada is beginning to move into spring mode. The water has been holding at 45 degrees for a few weeks. The fly anglers pulling streamers are beginning to pick up a few fish at the beach areas such as Pelican and Separator. At the “Nets” the water is so high that the shelf where the trout are cruising is up to a half mile off shore. You need to be in a boat of some sort to fish this spot effectively.

Clear Lake in the coast range has been having high water issues. Water flooding into front yards has prompted speed restrictions within a quarter mile of shore. A week ago there was only one boat ramp in operation on the lake. Currently half of the ramps are now open with some of them still a week or more out. If you plan to go in the near future call ahead, Limit Out Tackle 707-998-1006.

Our local bass ponds are getting into spring mode. Tom Moreno in Penn Valley reports his pond is still muddy brown. On his morning walks he sees the water swirl where his dog spooks the fish. He can’t tell which species of fish are there on the edges but this is the first evidence of active fish since last year.

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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