A cold Sunday on lake
After what seems like an interminable stretch of foul weather, the promise of clear weather for last weekend had me headed out fishing. My son had been working on me to get out of the house and go fishing for weeks. He is particularly persistent to go on school days but that is a low percentage play on his part.
By late last week, the weekend looked good, so we made plans for Sunday, hoping things would thaw on Saturday and be balmy on Sunday. We were up at 6 a.m., and headed up Highway 20 to Scotts Flat. We were on the water by 8 a.m. with air temperatures right at 32 degrees and a stiff breeze coming down Deer Creek canyon. The launch ramp and parking lot had been plowed but everywhere else the ground was still covered with snow.
We spent most of the day keeping low behind the boat’s windshield, out of the wind chill. We hooked our first fish off the point between the dam and the Cascade Shores boat ramp. The bulk of the day was spent trolling the south shore. Finally, when we came out of the Deer Creek arm and started west along the north shore, we got in to a school of fish. Three of our four rods had fish on simultaneously. But in the confusion, two out of three came off and only one rainbow of 14 inches was landed. That was the extent of the action for the day. We left about 1 p.m. The other anglers we spoke to had similar experiences.
Most years, March is a prime month at Scotts Flat. We found water temps in the high 40s and had one reading of 50 degrees. The best temps for catching trout are between 50 and 60 degrees. I had hopes that the temps would have been a few degrees higher by now but these last storms with low snow levels have prevented any warming.
I contacted a number of other lakes and these same temperature conditions exist on a number of foothill lakes. Scotts Flat was a beautiful green color with 5 or more feet of visibility. Collins and Rollins lakes both still have a lot of suspended silt, making both lakes brown rather than green color and cold temps. Lake Oroville has lost some clarity with the most recent storms and it has surface temps in the high 40s. The bass at Oroville are 50 to 60 feet down in winter mode. They respond only to the slowest of presentations.
For the trout angler, Collins Lake holds the most promise for good fishing. The brown water will heat more rapidly once the sun comes back out. The trout stocking program at Collins has been on going for almost two months. From now until mid-May, the lake will be planted twice per week with trout. The foul weather has kept most anglers at home and the trout populations are continuing to increase. As soon as we get a streak of warm days, expect the trout bite to break wide open.
I heard rumors of a brief steelhead bite last week on the Feather River. The fish were caught on nymphs and San Juan Worms in the low flow stretch. But by the weekend, the results were disappointing.
The Department of Fish & Game came out with the new emergency sturgeon regulations. There will be a zero bag limit for green sturgeon in all areas. White sturgeon must be a minimum of 46 inches long and a maximum of 56 inches long. The DF&G plan includes improving migration of sturgeon to spawning grounds, enhanced monitoring of sturgeon populations, and recently-adopted emergency fishing regulations that would temporarily reduce the harvest of spawning-age sturgeon.
Most of the sturgeon who come up the Feather River are green sturgeon. The best chance for getting white sturgeon is on the Sacramento River. For those anglers that braved the cold north wind over the weekend the sturgeon fishing was OK. The best results were downriver from Colusa.
Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union 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. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.