Denis Peirce: Spring fishing conditions hang on
The effects of the wet winter and spring are still with us, but we are working our way through them.
Early this week I received a call from Tom Moreno, who has a pond in Penn Valley, about the morning activity there. For Tom, his pond is more of a large aquarium than just a pond. He walks the pond every morning with his dog. For practical purposes, this is nearly the first of July, but his pond has many of the features of late May and early June. Tom measured 10 inches of rain in May after a very wet March and April.
Tom invited me over early Wednesday morning to watch. What held his interest was the morning midge hatch. He refers to them as “No See Ums.” This is a common insect to see, what is unusual is the number of baby bass feeding on them in the shallows. About a quarter of the pond surface had bass fry feeding on the midges. Many times the miniature bass would jump out of the water, going after the bugs. Tom has never seen this behavior on such a scale. Typically the surface activity takes place in the afternoon with “teenage” bass, 6 to 12 inches, coming up after dragon flies.
The baby bass were 1 to 2 inches long. He estimates that this is the most successful bass spawn he has had in the three decades he has been watching the pond. There was an occasional major swirl on the surface indicating that the larger bass were reducing the juvenile bass population. The midge feeding was taking place in shallow water and full sun.
The other noteworthy event was the bluegill spawn. They are still actively “on the beds” in the pond. Most years, they are reproducing in late May and early June. Having them actively spawning at the end of the month is late.
On a side note, two of the biggest bass in the pond turned up dead, which Tom attributes to old age. Both were in the 8-pound range.
The best fishing news I have heard in the past week was a phone call from a listener to my radio show. Maureen made it into Jackson Meadows late last week. The road was fine with snow along the side in some spots. She caught a 21-inch brown trout on the middle fork arm.
The rivers from Lake Tahoe northward are dropping into shape. South of Tahoe the mountains are much higher with a lot of snow left to melt through. I was on the North Yuba last weekend and the river is dropping noticeably every day. In the last week it fell from 1,500 cubic feet per second down to 1,000. The upper reaches above Downieville and the Downie River become fishable at this flow. The best sign was the hatch of the golden stones on the river. Jim Johnston (sierrastreamsidecabins.com) has been watching the river and last Saturday was the first day of a significant number of these stone flies hatching. He fished it Sunday evening without success. Neither he nor I saw a fish rise to the hatch. The water temp was 57 degrees. By this weekend, I expect some decent fishing on the North Yuba. For the 4th of July weekend, the conditions will be prime. With almost 35 miles of river to fish, all of us can have our own run to fish.
Stampede Reservoir continues to fish well for kokanee. Ed Fisk (Fish Tales Guide Service) was there last weekend catching limits. The fish are down in the 40- to 50-foot depths. The water temp is in the low 60s and the lake is full. What has been an island in the past is now marked by brush tops sticking out of the water.
At the north end of the Sierra, the Lake Almanor hexagenia hatch came on strong Tuesday evening. There have been sporadic bugs on the water in the evenings for 10 days in Geritol Cove close to the dam. Then Tuesday evening a mile north of the dam, the hatch came on strong north of Rocky Point Camp Ground.
The “hex hatch” is an evening phenomenon ending with the bugs appearing on the surface at dusk. I think of it as “dessert” after a day of other fishing. In the area, the Hamilton Branch has had good flows for a couple of weeks with good dry fly fishing throughout the day. The same is true of Deer Creek and Mill Creek. The North Fork of the Feather River through the town of Chester has been high but fishable. The major snow melt is diverted through the “Big Ditch” to miss the town of Chester and the ditch is now dry. If you want to go for the hex hatch, I would plan a stream fishing trip to the area with a side trip in the evening to the west shore of the lake.
The fishing this upcoming week should be good in the Sierra. Get out and enjoy!
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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