Dennis Peirce: Rain puts fish on the move |

Dennis Peirce: Rain puts fish on the move

The rain at the end of last week got the fish in our valley rivers on the move.

The Oroville Wildlife Area received .75 inches between 9 a.m. and noon last Thursday. This amount of rain raised the river flow by 150 cubic feet per second and put the fish on a bite. The salmon spawning is taking place predominantly up in the “Low Flow” stretch. The high flow has dark salmon but not many on the redds.

My source floated the river through the entire wildlife area. They fished with pairs of flies, an egg imitation and a nymph. All of their steelhead came on the nymphs, none were taken on eggs. The best nymphs were olive caddis patterns, Bead Head Olive Bird’s Nest and Fox Poopah Olive. The other note worthy detail was that a smaller No. 16 was preferred by the steelhead. Normally No. 12 and No. 14 olive caddis patterns work well on the Feather. There was a Blue Wing Olive hatch and a Bead Head Flash Back Pheasant Tail No. 16 matched these bugs.

On the Yuba River, Frank Rinella of the Sierra Guide Service hosted a South Yuba River Citizens League salmon float Oct. 28. He returned to the same area below Daguerra Dam last Friday and estimated that the salmon population increased by half. These were fish traveling upriver not nesting fish.

On the Sacramento River, guide Gary Manies noted good caddis and Blue Wing Olive hatches during the 2 to 3 p.m. time frame on overcast days. There were also a number of trout rising to the hatch. Gary fishes between Redding and Red Bluff. There is still a good egg bite on the Sacramento around spawning salmon.

On the Trinity River the steelhead fishing has been tough. The big numbers of steelhead passing the Willow Creek Weir are not in evidence in the top 40 miles of river. Large numbers of fish have moved up to the closed zone below the hatchery. Local speculation is that the bulk of fish recently counted over the weir are still in the canyon between Grey Falls and Cedar Flat. On Monday, Steve from Dragon Fly Outfitters scouted the Trinity from Junction City to Lewiston and found few steelhead.

Up in the high country it is the season for big brown trout. John Kusanovich took a 24-inch brown while fishing last week fishing from a pontoon boat. As usual he was using a “Sheep Creek Special.” In deference to John I will not name the lake. But it is at 5,500 feet in elevation, west slope and with in an hour of Grass Valley.

The point is that there are many lakes that fit this description and November is the prime month for browns at most of them.

I drove up Sunday to try for browns at Lake Spaulding but the gate to the launch ramp was closed for the season. I ended up driving out to Bowman Lake as a second choice. The water was 59 degrees, warmer that I expected for November. I trolled with tube flies and caught rainbows in the 12-inch range. They only hit orange and did not touch olive, black or white. There were a lot of fish working the surface at various times in the afternoon. Boat launching is tough on a terrible rocky road. I recommend only small boats and a four-wheel drive for launching

I spoke with guide Ed Dillard about Lake Davis near Portola. The water has cooled down to the high 40s. Ed continues to catch fish but he has slowed his presentation.

A locally popular technique is to tie wooly bugger flies on jig head hooks and fish them under a weighted bobber. He uses 1/64 or 1/32 ounce jigs on No. 10 or No. 12 hooks. The ideal time to fish these is when there is a wind chop on the surface to make the jig bounce. You do not retrieve the jig, rather you take up the slack as the wind moves the bobber.

This is a cold weather method that is popular at Davis and at Eagle Lake. Ed Dillard says the most effective colors are black, olive or cinnamon. The slow presentation and the fly movement are the key to this method in water below 50 degrees.

Fly anglers can achieve the same effect with intermediate lines and a very slow retrieve.

A final tip from Ed is that you should change the depth of your jig before changing the color. The most important element is to figure out the depth at which the trout are searching for food.


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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