Denis Peirce: Fishing’s best month |

Denis Peirce: Fishing’s best month

I did not write a column last week but I have the best of excuses, I went steelhead fishing on the Trinity River.

From 150 miles away everything looked good.

Water temperatures were mid 50s, fish counts from the weir on the lower river were good, rain was predicted and 10 days before there were reports of good fishing.

But there are no guarantees when it comes to fishing.

I fished with a friend, Bob DeRosier from Arizona. We fished hard Monday through Wednesday from early morning until dusk. We worked the top 40 miles of the river from Cedar Flat up to Lewiston. We would fish a good looking run for an hour or so, then hop back in the car, still in our waders, and move to the next promising piece of water.

Most of the anglers we spoke with were also having a difficult time finding the fish. For six angler days on the water we landed only two good fish.

Local speculation is that the first run of fish which had been in the upper half of the river have moved up to the closed hatchery zone below Lewiston Lake. The only answer I have is to just keep going back until I get it right.

Meanwhile, other north state fisheries have started to fish well. Eagle Lake near Susanville has cooled off and has been fishing well. I spoke with Keith Kerrigan (Sierra Anglers Guides Service (530) 414-1374) who fished there last week. Many of the areas that fished well for him last year were poor producers this season. He finally found a concentration of trout in Buck’s Bay.

Keith had been searching for fish when a strong wind came up. He decided to fish the downwind side of Buck’s Bay where there was surf breaking against the shore.

When he was able to troll tube flies tight against the bank, he got into great bite. The waves churned up the insects in the shallows and the trout were in feeding close to the shore. The bite lasted as long as the wind driven waves kept the food stirred up. When he cleaned the fish he kept, their stomachs were full of scuds, dark colored beetles (possibly water boatmen) and snails. Conspicuous by their absence were Tui Chub minnows. Keith caught the fish on Tui Chub tube flies, but there were no minnows in the fish.

The following day he returned to Buck’s Bay during calm conditions and the fish were not along the shore. He ultimately found them in 9 feet of water out from the beaches where they were feeding the previous day. Another general observation he had was that smaller lures and flies were doing better this year. Two inch long flies and grubs out fished 3 to 4 inch long baits. The best colors were olives and browns.

Up in the Truckee area, the weather this past week kept most anglers off the water. The weather did not stop the combined forces of the DF&G, Kokanee Power and Project Kokanee from collecting kokanee eggs on the Little Truckee river above Stampede Reservoir.

This years efforts yielded 800,000 eggs from 1,300 female fish. An additional 1,500 females were checked and found not ready for spawning.

This represents one of the more successful egg taking efforts in recent years. Most of the spawning fish were in the 16 to 17 inch range. The most noteworthy kokanee were 20 inches long. None of these 20-inch fish ever were taken in the numerous derbies on the lake during the season.

Where they were hiding is a mystery considering the quantity of angler hours devoted to catching them this summer. A number of brown trout up to 5 pounds were in among the kokanee spawners. These were netted and moved above the temporary dam that corralled the kokanee

In the Sacramento Valley, the salmon numbers continue unusually low. Regardless of the numbers, the spawning activities are commencing on schedule. On the Yuba, Feather and Sacramento rivers, the salmon have been on the beds since last week. This is the signal for the egg bite to begin in earnest.

Frank Rinella of the Sierra Guide Service has been fishing the Yuba River below the Highway 20 bridge. For the last few weeks he has been seeing an increasing number of rainbow/steelhead being caught. Hopefully, this signals a resurgence of this fishery.

On the Feather River, salmon are now legal to catch only below the Live Oak area. Up in Oroville there are some steelhead present, but the numbers are low.

On the Sacramento River, the salmon fishing remains sub par. The resident trout fishery is excellent from Redding down to Red Bluff. Expect these fish to switch from a nymph diet to salmon eggs as the spawn gets underway.

At the mouth of the Klamath River there has been frequent closing of the sand bar due to wave and wind action. The outlet channel has been periodically open on a small scale. Finally, last Wednesday, the estuary water had built up and as the tide went out the river water “blew out” a major channel. That was what the salmon were waiting for and they have been streaming in good numbers ever since.

These salmon are in a hurry and are moving up stream at a feverish pace. Guide Wally Johnson got on a school and moved upriver with them. They moved a mile up river in less than an hour. Wally has been fishing roe and glow bugs, doing well on salmon and an occasional steelhead.

Overall conditions on the Klamath are good. The algae bloom has washed away with rain, cool water temps and increased flows form Iron Gate Dam. There are fish moving up to the middle sections of the river, Orleans to Happy Camp as you read this.

This is possibly the best month of the year for fishing. There are only 22 days left in October. How are you going to use them?


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

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