Denis Peirce: These are the good ol’ days |

Denis Peirce: These are the good ol’ days

For most of my life I have heard that the fishing is not as good as it was in “the good old days.”

Older anglers will remember back to their youth and those special days when everything came together and they had a great day catching big fish. They probably even have the photo to prove how good it was back then.

It is my opinion that the human memory, particularly for anglers, tends to be rather selective. We remember and relive our triumphs. Those less than stellar days are relegated to the dimly lit recesses of our memories.

I contend that these are the good old days. The golden age of fishing. We just came off an extremely dry winter. The lower Yuba River would be low, and warm as a bath tub, without the dams up river.

Without our road system, fishing the Trinity River would be a multi-day major trip. Currently, accessing the Eastern Sierra is a day trip for any Californian from San Diego to Redding.

We have instant access to real time water data to tell us if conditions are good for a particular piece of water.

Now some readers who view the glass as half empty will point to an event like the fish kill on the Klamath a few years back as evidence that all is lost. They will decry our system of dams for the barriers they present to migrating steelhead. Yet, as an angler, those dams have also provided other great fishing opportunities.

Lake Shasta made the cold water fishery through Redding on the Sacramento River as well as the excellent fishery in the lake itself.

What prompted this rant was an anglers catch last week at Lake Pardee.

A new state record smallmouth bass was caught on a 6-inch swim bait. The previous record of 9.1 pounds stood for 31 years. It was set by Tim Brady of Weaverville on Trinity Lake. The new record is close to 10 pounds.

And that new record holder will likely agree that these are the good old days.

There are those that might say that smallmouth are a non-native invasive species and are a blight on our state. But I say that there has never been a smallmouth bass of that size ever caught before in our state, a sign of a healthy fishery.

An analogy that comes to mind would be to say that corn does not get as big or abundant as it was in times past. Not true. Abundance and size is a function of genetics, environment and nutrition. On an overall basis I believe that the average angler has as good or better fishing prospects today as ever.

Sure we can cite a litany of problem species and waters such as the Delta. But for variety of species, access to those fish and the tackle to catch them, things have never been better. We should count our blessings and be glad we are here now.

Next Monday, July 16, the salmon fishing regulations change in the Sacramento Valley. The Sacramento River reopens to the take of salmon with a two-fish limit. The Feather River below Highway 20 reopens and the limit moves from one salmon to a three-fish limit.

I spoke with Gary Manies of the “Strictly Fishin’Guide Service.” Based on his 20 years of guiding on the river, he expects the salmon present on the Sacramento to be spring run fish for the balance of July. “Springers” like cooler water than fall-run fish and the best results will come close to the Red Bluff diversion dam and at the mouths of tributaries.

As we move into August the fish will be fall run. This is when the good fishing will move downriver toward Woodson Bridge and slightly warmer water.

Gary fished the Feather River last week. He concentrated on the stretch below the Afterbay Hole down to the lower end of the Wildlife Area. He had his customers on the water at dawn but did not land a fish until 1:30 p.m. At that time they landed their three fish in a half hour. The terminal tackle was a flatfish with a sardine wrap. All the salmon are fresh bright fish.

Over on the Trinity River the surge of spring run salmon has reached the upper river. Last week, it was as if a light switch was turned on. The fish arrived in good numbers. The number one technique is to fish with a combo bait of salmon roe and canned tuna.

Out on the ocean, this coming week is predicted to be the first entire week, since the season opener, with good sea conditions. The limiting factor has been access due to rough seas. Last Saturday was rough and the salmon boats hugged the coast and caught rock fish.

On Sunday and Monday the seas laid down. The boats made it out to the Farallon Islands and had near limits of salmon for all on board. If the calm weather continues salmon fishing should be good.


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 schedule

Week of July 9

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 – Alpine Lake, Carson River East Fork, Carson River West Fork, Markleeville, Silver Creek

Butte County – Desabla Reservoir, Thermalito Forebay

Calaveras County – White Pines Lake

El Dorado County – American River Silver Fork, Ice House Reservoir, Loon Lake, Union Valley Reservoir, Stumpy Meadows Reservoir

Nevada County – Faucherie Lake

Placer County – French Meadows Reservoir

Plumas County – Little Grass Valley Reservoir

Sierra County – Yuba River North Fork

Solano County – Solano Lake

Tehama County – Deer Creek

Salmon count

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

July 8, 2007 = 33

July 7, 2007 = 18

July 6, 2007 = 23

Year to date 2007 = 1950 salmon

Year to date 2006 = 1194 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 Monday, July 16. Check the regulations for open areas on the Feather River.

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