Denis Peirce: Don’t mean to rain on your spring fever, but …
The recent stretch of good weather has me fantasizing that spring is at hand. If you drive down to the valley you will see those wild plum trees with the white blossoms that are the first trees to bloom at our elevation.
In the past few weeks we have gone from pitch dark to daylight when I take my son to the bus stop at 6:25 in the morning. Night has moved back from before 5p.m. to after 6 p.m.; can daylight savings be far behind? The final piece to this spring delusion is that the fishing reports have shown a decided uptick.
Before you go out and start using vacation days there is a difference between uptick in February and a wide open bite in April/May.
For the chance of a big fish, your best bet will be the Sacramento River trying for sturgeon. Some of these fish have moved up as far as the Colusa area. The river was at 46 feet at the Colusa gauge yesterday which makes launching at the State Park feasible although the ramp itself is a bit muddy. The new ramp at Tisdale is still closed due to siltation. The river has recently dropped down into perfect shape but the weather man is talking about rain in the near future which can blow the river out of shape very rapidly. Look for the best sturgeon fishing in March.
There are stripers in the Feather River from Boyd’s Pump downstream. During the first two weeks of February, the juvenile steelhead from the Feather River Hatchery were trucked down to the Yuba City area. I was only able to confirm that they were planted at the Boyd’s Pump launch ramp.
In previous years they have been put in at Live Oak, Yuba City and at Boyd’s Pump. Bob Bouke at Johnson’s Bait & Tackle reports the steelhead are mainly below Boyd’s Pump. To go up river beyond the power lines above Boyd’s you need a jet boat due to low water. Another launch possibility is the Star Bend ramp. There is deep water close to Star Bend but with a prop boat you will not be able to travel far due to shallow sand bars.
Every year there are stripers that appear when the juvenile steelhead go into the river. Bob Bouke says that there are some around now but there will be more if the river comes up. The low level in Lake Oroville precludes good flows in the Feather. The second factor to the current slow bite is that the stripers are too full of steelhead to get interested in an artificial lure. The largest fish Bob has seen so far this season is a 31 pound striper.
The DF&G has begun planting foothill lakes. Scott Bartosh fished Rollins two days last week. On Tuesday he was targeting browns. He had one good hit with nothing landed for the day on the water. He returned on Thursday and had a field day catching freshly planted rainbows. The DF&G web site calls for Scott’s Flat to get a plant of rainbows this week, road conditions permitting.
At Bullard’s Bar the bass fishing continues to be good. Brett Brady has been trout fishing on Bullard’s concentrating his efforts close to incoming water. Ten days ago under overcast skies, he found rainbows at the top of the water column. Last Thursday he returned and could not connect with any rainbows near the surface on a bright sunny day. He had to get his gear down below the 15 foot mark to get into the fish. The trout he has been landing range from as small as 7 inches up to 14 inches.
The trout/steelhead angling on the lower Yuba has been spotty. I get reports ranging from a skunk up to fair angling. There are fish in the system but they can be tough some days. On the low flow section of the Feather River in Oroville there has been an influx of trout/steelhead. Craig Bentley (Huntington’s Sportsman Store) has been spending his free time on the river. His largest fish recently was 17 inches caught on an egg imitation. Most of the fish have been 12 to 14 inches. They have been caught on a variety of nymphs such as Flash-back Pheasant Tails and B.H. Olive Poopahs.
For those trout anglers wanting to travel for good fishing my best trout report came from Scott Bartosh’s recent trip up to Lake Almanor. This time of year there are many trout in spawning mode that are close to the dam. His largest fish was 4.7 pounds with the average fish going 2 pounds. A report from the Almanor Fly Fishing Company mentioned an 11 pound brown coming from the Hamilton Branch.
The good spring fishing is still over the horizon a bit. There are good days to be had if you watch the weather and the river flows. Water temps are rising with warm days. Lake Oroville has risen 2 degrees in the last week to 48. Lake Almanor at 4,000 feet is in the low 40s, as is Pyramid Lake in Nevada.
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. Contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.
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