Denis Peirce: Cool fall temps have arrived
Last weekend a dry cold front moved in, dropping water temps on a number of waters. Eagle Lake had overnight lows of 15 degrees air temp. Water temps dropped from 60-61 down to 55-56 degrees. Now that November is upon us this is prime time on Eagle Lake. The bite last week was good through the weekend but the full moon has slowed things up this week. When the water is so much warmer than the air you can expect fog in the mornings if the air is still. Guide Tim Noxon reported seeing only a little mist on the water yesterday.
Another lake that can be fished on a day trip basis is Lake Davis near Portola. Guide Ed Dillard is having good days trolling flies in the top six feet of the water column. This is peak fall fishing at Davis.
Closer to home we will have another shot at a push of salmon moving up the rivers this weekend and early next week. We have the second full moon of October on Halloween.
The cold front dropped river temperatures as well. There are temps into the high 50s all the way down the Feather River. If you can find some holding water it might be worth a day to do some more salmon fishing. At the upper reaches of the river near Oroville dark fish comprise the majority of the salmon. We are at the peak of the spawning season currently.
I checked in with the Feather River Hatchery. They had poor returns in August and September. Finally in October the salmon came on strong. They are currently spawning out their salmon and expect this to continue well into November. They will be meeting all of their salmon propagation goals.
There have been a few good salmon reports from outside the Golden Gate. The fleet is again coming home with salmon, leading to speculation that there are fresh fish coming in on the full moon. The other possibility is that these are winter run fish headed to the Sacramento River in December.
On the lower Yuba River Tom Page spoke with a biologist on the river who said they had counted a thousand salmon so far this season. That is a good number but way below what we have seen in years past.
The Sacramento Metro area is putting out some salmon but the overall results are not stellar. Some boats have put up to three fish in the box but the number of zeros has been significant.
The best angling opportunity associated with the salmon spawn is the steelhead bite. Tom Page reports an excellent year on the lower Yuba. His customers report the bite is still a 50-50 mix of egg imitations and nymphs. The number and size of these fish is up over recent years. Over on the Feather River the steelhead bite is also good. With a steelhead hatchery on the river there are more and larger fish on the Feather. There are also more anglers on the water.
I asked Tom, if he lived equidistant from both rivers, which one would he fish? He picked the Yuba because it has more fishable water. On the Feather there are large stretches of slow “frog water” that do not hold steelhead. The fish are more concentrated. On the Yuba the gradient is steeper providing more good water to fish. The fish quantity and quality are a bit better on the Feather but the fishing experience is better on the Yuba.
The fishery that is about to come on is striper on the Delta. The water temps have dropped eight degrees in the last week. Justin Leonard follows this and reports the Napa River is fishing well. This is the sign of the stripers moving up the system. Currently there are schoolie fish in the delta in modest numbers. Live minnows have been the ticket to catch them. Traditionally November is the month for the stripers to move into their winter quarters on the delta.
Duck season opened last weekend with some success. The majority of the duck migration has yet to arrive but the geese are coming in on a daily basis. The Gray Lodge Wildlife Refuge has huge numbers of snow geese in the zone that is closed to hunting. Here in Penn Valley there are geese overhead on a daily basis.
The recent cold front dropped down our overnight lows which has put the water temps into the prime range. We are still getting a few hours of warm temps in the afternoons, a perfect combination for getting out to go fishing.
Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section 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 his website at http://www.trollingflies.com.
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