Denis Peirce: Afternoon yields best bite in Oroville |

Denis Peirce: Afternoon yields best bite in Oroville

I have been hearing good reports on the coho salmon fishing in Lake Oroville. Anglers are reporting fish more than 18 inches being landed on a consistent basis.

There were 250,000 of these fish planted last November and December. These fish resulted from an egg purchase from a fish-farming operation in Washington state. They were raised to the 6-inch to 8-inch size at the hatchery in Oroville, then planted in the lake. The growth rate of these silver salmon is phenomenal in the minnow-rich waters of Lake Oroville.

I fished for coho last winter in Oroville and only landed small fish up to 12 inches although there were lots of them. This past Wednesday, I was invited to fish with Dr. Jerry Chan and his brother, Bob. The three of us went out with Brett Brady, a local guide. Brett had fished the previous day starting at 8:30 a.m. and had struggled to get five fish limits for his clients. He had us meet him at the launch ramp at 5:30 a.m. to assure being on the water and fishing before sunrise. I met Jerry and Bob at 4:15 in Penn Valley and by the appointed time, it was already light on the lake.

Our game plan was to troll for the salmon, the first stop being in front of the dam. We did not get a fish by the time the first sun hit the water and the same was true of the other boats working the area. We left the dam and went to the Highway 162 bridge, which is another hot spot to troll. We began picking up fish on an irregular basis. The other boat anglers around the green bridge were readily exchanging information as to the depth at which they were getting their fish. Early on, it was 45 feet, but as the day wore on, it moved down to 65 feet.

I spent a good part of the day watching Brett’s fish finder and never saw it register a salmon. I thought that maybe the device was faulty, but it did register fish close to the bank where bass should be. I was checking the screen when most of our salmon were hooked, and they did not show up on the screen. After asking many of my sources, the best explanation I could find was that the salmon often do not have air in their swim bladders.

Apparently it is the air in their bladders that registers on the electronics. Salmon not registering on fish finders is also common with saltwater party boats. My point is to not rely exclusively on fish finders when pursuing salmon. They can be there even if you can not see them.

The most effective lure was a pink kokanee spinner with tandem hooks, behind a dodger. A pink hootchie was second and occasional fish were taken on white tube flies and other offerings. The three of us ended the day at 3:30 p.m. with 13 salmon in the box. Once we had two fish on at the same time, but most of the fish came as much as an hour apart. We caught more fish during the afternoon than the morning.

A lower-tech alternative to trolling is mooching. This involves fishing cut anchovies on a No. 2 hook with a half ounce of weight. The most popular location for this method is off the buoy lines near the dam. This past weekend I heard of a wide-open bite just above the bottom in 125 feet of water. The location was on the buoy line running east/west at the south side of the dam. Many anglers will tie their boats to the buoys to hold their location. Watch the other boats to determine where on the line the fish are most active. Not all buoys fish equally well.

This fishery should continue into the fall until the spawning time. Many of the salmon we took had eggs in their bellies.

The annual hexagenia hatch up on Lake Almanor has kicked into gear. Ron Lewis from Sierra Stream & Mountain in Chico fished last Wednesday and Thursday evenings on the west side of the lake near Prattville. He was on the water at 5:30 p.m. and saw the first fish landed at 6. Anglers fished with nymphs and sinking fly lines until the first bugs appeared on the surface at 8:30 p.m.

At that time everyone switched to floating lines and dry flies. As usual, there was a great slaughter of the insects with fish, bats and birds working the surface of the water. I do not know how this species survives. I have not seen an insect survive the predators and make it to shore. The last fish was hooked at 9:30 and Ron left the water at 10. The fish landed were 75 percent smallmouth bass and 25 percent rainbow trout.

Most of the bass were in the 3- to 5-pound range, providing good sport for the evening.

If you go up to Almanor, “Geritol Cove” adjacent to the dam has had a good hatch. Also Butt Lake just west of Almanor has provided good fishing during the evening hatch.

Red Bluff Diversion Dam salmon count for the last three days =

June 24, 2007 = 29

June 23, 2007 = 31

June 22, 2007 = 31

Year to date 2007 = 1699 salmon

Year to date 2006 = 1032 salmon

* We are printing the salmon counts at Red Bluff as a indicator of the

valley salmon run in general. Salmon fishing on the Sacramento River is

closed until mid July. Check the regulations for open areas on the Feather


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