Denis Peirce: Late fall fishing |

Denis Peirce: Late fall fishing

We are only about three weeks from the shortest day of the year. A good thing about this season is that you do not have to be out on the water at the crack of dawn to find good fishing. You can keep “Bankers Hours” and still do well.

The large reservoirs in the north state are approaching their annual low points. Most years Oroville and Shasta are lowest at the first week of December as the winter storms commence and they begin to rise. The water temps in both of these reservoirs has finally dropped below the 60 degree mark and they are fishing well.

At Lake Oroville the bass bite has been getting better. Baitfish imitations, which have been the most productive, are now secondary to crawdad baits. Recent anglers have mentioned the transition between rock formations and clay banks have been the most productive for actively feeding bass. Other comments have mentioned that after slowly fishing soft plastics down the bank, the rapid retrieve before the next cast has produced strikes from landlocked salmon. An indication that they have come up from the depths and are feeding shallow.

Another observation is that there are dead salmon as large as four to six pounds near the launch ramp. These fish are planted at the launch ramps and return there in the fall in an attempt to spawn. It is a good indication of how large these fish can get at maturity in the lake.

A good thing about this season is that you do not have to be out on the water at the crack of dawn to find good fishing. You can keep “Bankers Hours” and still do well.

Lake Shasta dropped down to 58 degrees and the trout are in the top 30 feet. Rainbows are widely scattered in the lake but the brown trout are more concentrated at the top of the tributaries, particularly the McCloud River arm. Shasta has always had a brown trout population but recently the Department of Fish & Wildlife has been planting them heavily again. This year 60,000 fingerlings were planted in the Sacramento River arm. The browns make their spawning runs up the rivers between October and February. There are post spawn fish in the McCloud arm currently. The best brown trout fishing in the lake occurs in the first two months of the new year.

There have been fly anglers fishing from shore near the launch ramps. They have been sight fishing for rainbows in the clear water. They have been using midges or wooly buggers for fly patterns and doing well. The 50 to 60 degree range is ideal for trout to feed heavily and be in the shallows.

Another fishery that is known for a good cold season bite is Pyramid Lake, NV. This year it reopened at the start of November with the water at 58 degrees and last weekend it had dropped to 50 degrees at the surface. A friend Adam Birdwell from Truckee has been fishing there and doing well trolling the top 15 feet of the water with streamer flies. If you want a huge trout Pyramid Lake is your best bet. To get much attention you need to land a cutthroat trout of more than 20 pounds. Pyramid had been closed since last winter due to the virus but it is back open now.

Close to home Bob Lively fished Lake Englebright in the past week, doing well on rainbows at the top of the water column. The rainbows coming from the lake have been in the 15 to 17 inch range. The water here has been colder, in the 49 to 51 degree range.

Collins Lake near Dobbins has also been fishing well. This year’s shad population which had been in the warm shallows through summer have scattered across the top of the lake. The trout have come up high in the water column to chase them. Boat anglers have the advantage of covering a lot of water to locate the fish.

Tom Page, Reel Angler’s Fly Shop reports the steelhead/rainbow trout in the lower Yuba River continue to provide good action. There are baetis mayflies hatching 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. daily. These are small bugs that are well imitated with a #18 Parachute Adams. The salmon spawn is over but you can pick up an occasional fish on an egg imitation.

The lower Yuba from the Hwy 20 bridge upstream to Englebright Dam is closed to fishing during the salmon spawning season, September through November. It will reopen to catch & release fishing on Dec. 1. This is some of the best water on the Yuba and the “Opener” can be quite good.

We seem to be currently in a mild weather stretch and getting out midday can be a good way to spend a late fall day.

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

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