Denis Peirce: Despite changes, kokanee can still be caught |

Denis Peirce: Despite changes, kokanee can still be caught

There are changes taking place with the kokanee in Bullards Bar.

This is the time of year that the preferred water temperatures for the fish drop down deeper than their food source. Simultaneous with this, the fish stop feeding and they begin their body transformation in preparation for the fall spawning cycle.

Currently, the males are beginning to develop “kype” jaws that characteristic curved jaw, that signals the end of their growth. For all practical purposes, the kokanee are as big as they are going to get this year in Bullards Bar. Although they are not feeding, they will hit lures out of aggression, and the fishing is still good. The most productive depths to fish will range between 65 to 75 feet deep.

Gary Gordon ( was on the water last week and recommends increasing the size of your dodger and using lures that glow in the low light conditions at these depths.

Other factors that will increase your odds at depth are to use lures with color contrast such as black and white. With the low light conditions down deep, counting on reflecting light with shiny finishes is a poor choice. Concentrate on scent and vibration as ways to attract kokanee salmon.

The best locations are near the confluence of the Willow Creek and North Yuba arms. Gary notes that the number of fish near the dam is increasing as the schools migrate in that direction. As to the best times of day, the early-morning bite has been good. For best results stay through the entire morning. The hours of 10 a.m. to noon have been very productive for the last couple weeks, despite the increased boat traffic as the day warms up.

The first week of the Sacramento River salmon season produced fair results. The lower down you were, the poorer the results. I heard of two fish taken opening day at Verona and there were 15 fish brought in at Woodson’s Bridge, but the hot spot was near Los Molinos. I did not get a total count but there were some guide boats that caught the limit.

The success at Los Molinos came from one deep hole that held a lot of fish, with one going 44 pounds. The way to catch salmon this time of year in the river, is a flat fish with a sardine wrap.

On the Feather River, the hatchery has tagged and returned 10,000 spring run salmon to the river. These fish will spawn in the fall and they are continuing to get darker. More than 50 percent of salmon caught recently have been dark fish. The number of fresh fish arriving is declining.

We are in between the spring and fall runs, but there are still bright fish arriving daily. The rainbow trout/steelhead bite has turned decidedly to salmon roe and imitations there of. Craig Bentley (Golden State Guide Service) reports fishing in the low flow stretch with flies and no results. Switching to roe and or glow bugs, however, picked up fish from the same water.

On the Trinity River, there are a lot of fish at the top of the water. But these fish are hard to entice to bite bait or lures. As the fish were moving in a few weeks ago, the bite was good. Now that they are hunkered down in the bottoms of the deep holes, though, they are tough to catch.

The best salmon bite has been off the north coast around Arcata/Eureka. There are both kings and silvers in abundance (the silvers cannot be kept in California waters). In addition the party boats are fishing rock cod, lingcod and sand dabs all in the same trip. For an all-around trip this is a good bet if you can get up there.

Last week’s rain storm dropped significant amounts of rain to our north. Lake Almanor dropped from 73 to 69 degrees in two days. The Sacramento River near Redding got muddy from all the rain that fell on the foothills to the west of town. It was a welcome change.

I spoke to Bob Grace of the Ted Fay Fly Shop and he reports that the largest trout coming out of the Sacramento River above Lake Shasta are to be caught in the first few miles above the lake. Early in the morning, anglers fishing midge pupa close to the bottom are picking up a few very good fish. The rest of the river will produce more, but smaller, fish on a variety of larger nymph patterns.

Another good fishing bet is the top water bass bite at dawn. I have heard similar reports for waters as far apart as Trinity Lake, Lake Wildwood and New Melones. The bass are looking for food close to shore at the coolest time of the day.


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

Week of July 23, 2007


Fish planting schedule

If conditions permit, the following lakes, reservoirs and ponds, listed by county, will be restocked with catchable-size trout from Department of Fish and Game hatcheries.

Alpine County – Carson River East Fork; Carson River West Fork; Woods Lake

El Dorado County – American River South Fork Riverton; Icehouse Reservoir; Kirkwood Lake; Loon Lake; Union Valley Reservoir

Nevada County – Donner Lake; Faucherie Lake; Weaver Lake

Placer County – French Meadows Reservoir

Plumas County – Feather River North Fork Belden; Jamison Creek; Spanish Creek

Solano County – Putah Creek

Tehama County – Deer Creek


Salmon count

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

July 22 – 87

July 21 – 27

July 20 – 33

Year to date 2007: 2,379 salmon

Year to date 2006: 1,520 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 reopened July 16. Check the regulations for the stretch of river that you are going to fish.

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