Denis Peirce: Fishing the summer heat
With the passing of the summer solstice the weather abruptly changed from mild to hot. Typically when we get triple digit temps in the valley there are thunder heads visible to our east, which I noticed this week. For the angler there are two options, head up to the high country or over to the coast, both of which can be good.
Just prior to the heat wave Colin and I went up for the day to Jackson Meadows Reservoir for a day trip. We fished with Shaun Rainsbarger (https://shaunsguideservice.net) who was scouting for an alternative guiding location to take his clients.
We arose at 3 a.m. to be on the road at 3:45. We were at the boat ramp by 5:30 a.m. Wednesday was a windy day. White caps didn’t develop but there was a stiff breeze pushing the boat around. Being outdoors in the wind is not pleasant but it can be good for bringing the trout up to the surface. The water temp ranged from 58 to 61, quite pleasant from a trout’s perspective. We marked fish at the 15 to 20 foot depth on the electronics. Fish closer to the surface do not show up on the screen.
We landed eight fish that day, and also lost a few. We caught five on flies trolled just below the surface with the balance caught on plugs 10 to 20 feet down, The common denominator was the color orange. Other color flies were not effective and the plugs had orange as part of the color scheme. We spent most of the day on the south arm of the lake out over deep water.
The trout were nice, running 13 to 15 inches and thick across the back. The two we kept had dark orange meat, a sign of holdover fish from the previous year. The current heat wave will be warming the water surface, pushing the fish deeper in the lake. Rather than keeping to my schedule, a better plan would be to head up to the Sierra during midday, fish the evening, spend the night, fish the early morning and come back in the middle of the next day.
On Monday of last week, I fished the evening on the North Yuba with Dan Walters. It is still early in the season with cool water. For the first time in years I fished where Hwy 49 first crosses the river. I thought that this area will soon be getting too warm and this could be the only chance to do well there this season. We were able to spend three hours in the water before it got too dark. Wearing shorts and water shoes on a warm summer evening up to your waist in a river is one of life’s pleasures. Catching fish with a fly rod is the icing on the cake.
As is typical for the North Yuba, the later you stay the better the catching. We concentrated on shaded water before the sun dropped behind the ridge. There was no surface feeding until the last half hour of light. We did get fish throughout the time we were on the water. I prefer to swing wet flies and the trout cooperated. Most of the trout were small with one that approached the 12 inch mark.
As the summer moves on, the good fishing will be higher and higher up the North Yuba, and its tributaries. At an hour from home it is an excellent choice for a pleasant evening on the water. Be sure to stay until dark.
This past Wednesday my neighbor Dan Grass drove his boat all the way to Bodega Bay for one day of fishing. It is four hours driving each direction. Dan is a dedicated angler. The deciding factor to making the trip is the weather off the coast. The north Pacific can be quite inhospitable for fishermen in smaller boats. With the internet, you can watch the coastal conditions and find that window of calm seas for a safe day on the ocean.
Dan went out of the harbor and turned north. The first stop was to drop crab traps before heading up to Fort Ross. The salmon were not on a bite but lingcod and rockfish were. Dan was using four ounce lead head jigs with soft plastic squid on the back.
He came home with a cooler full of fish on ice as well as a bucket of live crabs. He was generous enough to offer me a fish that provided two beautiful fillets for a fresh fish dinner. Thank you, Dan.
Bodega Bay has earned the nickname of “salmon central” for the month of July. I like to fish from there because you can stay away from the bay area traffic and the fishing grounds are a short ride away. Currently the salmon are deep, 100+ feet down, feeding on krill. Krill is a small shrimp that currents can bring up from the depths. Whales often feed on krill. The best salmon fishing comes when the salmon feed shallower and we can get at them more easily. The window for Bodega Bay salmon is in the next six weeks.
Our hot weather can keep us indoors in the afternoons but there are still some good fishing opportunities out there. Get out and enjoy the summer.
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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