Denis Peirce: Spring arrives early on the water |

Denis Peirce: Spring arrives early on the water

The air temps this week will approach the 80-degree mark with no prediction of rain in the near term. This is changing the fishing conditions rapidly in many foothill reservoirs.

Lake Oroville rose from 48 degrees on Friday to 53 degrees on the surface Monday. A simplified statement of fishing productivity versus water temps is that the best springtime results come as the temperatures rise through the 50 to 60 degree range.

Over on the coast range, Lake Berryessa has already warmed up to 57. The point is that we are into prime spring conditions and the calendar says that we are still in winter.

You can find colder water by moving up in elevation. Lake Almanor at 4,000 feet was 39 degrees on Friday and 42 degrees on Sunday.

I expect that we will get more storms to stall the inevitable rise to summer conditions. If I am correct, this will be the first spring temperature surge to exploit. The question is can you rearrange your schedule to be on the water?

Down in the valley the sturgeon bite is good on the Sacramento River from Knights Landing up past Colusa to Ord Bend. There have been good numbers of fish for more than a month and they will be there until June. The sturgeon get the most angler attention until the stripers appear in sufficient numbers to take the spotlight. The best sturgeon locations feature water 10 to 15 feet deep, adjacent to holes over 20 feet deep. The fish in the bottom of the deep holes are resting and are difficult to entice with a bait. They come out of the holes onto the flats to feed and these are the most likely places.

The best baits have been ghost shrimp and pile worms. These baits are not durable and so it is common to add a piece of eel to the offering. The eel is like leather and one well-hooked piece will last all day. A combination bait assure you of having something on at all times.

A boat is the best way to access good water. Currently the river is too low to use the Colusa launch ramp. A river level of 47 feet and higher is required at the Colusa gauge station. Monday evening the level was 44.5.

You can follow the levels at Other options are Wards Landing or up river at Ord Bend. For more detailed information contact Johnson’s Bait & Tackle in Yuba City 674-1912.

Over the past week I have heard from a number of anglers fishing Rollins Lake. The temp has come up to 55 with visibility in the main body of the lake at 3 to 4 feet. Mike Pumphrey reports good bass fishing working the shoreline with chartreuse Beetle Spins and soft, plastic pond smelt imitations. Mike notes that the bass were “on rock.” With one exception all of his fish came from rocky shore structure as opposed to clay banks.

Mike also mentioned that as the evening shadows came over the water, brown trout were feeding on pond smelt on the surface out in the main body of the lake. Most of the pond smelt are 1.25 to 1.5 inches long.

I also heard from members of the Lake Wildwood Fishing Club that they had done well trolling for rainbows off the dam area more than a week ago.

Another report came from three anglers fishing yesterday from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. near the dam. They had negligible results for 12-man hours of midday fishing from pontoon boats with fly gear.

Another of my reliable sources fished Lake Englebright more than a week ago.

He reports fair success on both rainbows and browns back beyond the “No Ski” buoys. His technique was long line, shallow trolling with flies. The browns he caught came in at 13 to 15 inches. Last October the brown trout were 11 to 12 inches indicating a decent growth rate. The water is still stained entering the upper lake.

My prediction is for good fishing this coming week particularly for bass in foothill locations. With the lakes warming and water levels rising the bass should be moving up to the shallows. But another prime opportunity will be a falling barometer and cloudy skies as the next storm approaches. I have done well in those conditions especially if the water temps are in the 50 to 60 degree range.


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

Fish planting

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.

Week of March 12

Nevada County: Scotts Flat Reservoir Upper

Placer County : Halsey Forebay

Sacramento County: Folsom Lake Granite Bay, Rancho Seco Lake

Yuba County: Collins Lake

Week of March 5

Amador County: Amador Lake, Pardee Reservoir

Sacramento County: Granite Park Pond, Hagan Park Pond

San Joaquin County: Oak Grove Park Lake

Solano County: Solano Lake

Yuba County: Englebright Reservoir

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User