Denis Peirce: The heat goes on
It is late August and predictably the weather remains hot. We are probably a month out from cool weather but there are good fisheries in the north state. For trout and salmon anglers the key is to find cold water.
The Lower Yuba below Englebright Dam has reliably cool water coming from the base of the dam. Tom Page, Reel Anglers Fly Shop, reports the resident trout continue to bite. The “Hopper & Dropper” has been a consistent producer. The Fat Albert is Tom’s pick for the hopper and a Bead Head Tan Bird’s Nest for the dropper. Tom fishes this rig from a drift boat casting to shore. Water as shallow as 16 inches can be productive. For shore-based anglers, fishing close to the bank is also the way to go.
Tom has been seeing increasing numbers of salmon swimming up from the Feather River. He saw the first salmon at the beginning of the month. Things look good for a strong run of salmon. Look for the egg bite to take off in September.
Tom fished the Lower American River recently for stripers. He caught good numbers of these up to 8 pounds on streamer flies. A lot of these bass were caught by casting across into the fast shallow water and as the fly swung over the pool below, the stripers would hit. Each year stripers begin moving into the Delta from the salt water and the striper action has been good in the lower Delta.
The salmon bite off the coast continues to be excellent, particularly for the boats based out of the bay area. The salmon that will be heading up the valley rivers in the next two months are staging off the coast. To beat the late summer heat, a trip to the coast is a good bet. The good salmon fishing that we have had this summer bodes well for the fall salmon run in the valley rivers.
The valley guide boats are catching salmon in the upper (cooler) reaches of the Sacramento and Feather Rivers. On the Sacramento River launch from Woodson Bridge near Corning or higher up the river. On the Feather head for the Oroville Wildlife area. This time of the year the percentage of salmon that are fresh is high. As the season progresses there are more fish in the system but the number of “bright” fish will taper off. There is always this trade off. Maybe the determining factor is when you can go.
Up in the Sierra finding cool water is the key. The kokanee bite at Stampede Reservoir remains good with fish at the 35-foot depth and below. There are fish as deep as 70 feet. Often different age classes (sizes) of kokanee are separated by depth with the bigger fish below the smaller ones. This is not always the case, but if you are catching small fish change the depth.
At Lake Almanor, the trout have moved into the “Hamilton Branch.” This is a cold water tributary to the lake. The narrow cove where this creek enters the lake is a late summer hot spot each year. The same is true for the springs that are scattered around the lake bottom.
The Truckee River has been producing fish for fly anglers. The best reports I have heard, have come from below the confluence of the Little Truckee River and down stream toward the stateline. Some nice trout have been taken on small crawdad imitations. Crawdads are a trout favorite when they are available. Another good producer has been golden stone fly nymphs. A common trait of both of these flies is the brownish color. They are not an exact match but the golden/brown/orange hues are a common thread to some of these successful patterns.
The best river fishing in the heat of summer can come from the most oxygenated water, white water rapids. Another way to find fish concentrating conditions is to wet wade. Your legs will let you know if you come across colder water. This can come from small tributaries or springs below the surface. Either way, colder water means more trout.
The Carson River near Markleeville, finally came into prime shape earlier this month. It is the last river in the state to clear up following the snow melt. It is fishing well. It can be fished as a day trip from here but if you stay overnight you can fish the late evening and early morning, both of the prime times.
Eagle Lake near Susanville is in summer mode. The trout are down in the 27- to 35-inch range. The small tui chub minnows are still in the shore line weeds separated by temperature from the trout. Once the minnows scatter out to deeper water the trout will move briefly up into warmer water to feed. The current water temps range from 69 at dawn up into the low 70s in the afternoon. For a more detailed report visit Val Aubrey’s website at: https://eaglelakefishing.net/
For those who like summer steelhead fishing I have good news. Ten days ago the first school of “Half pounders” were seen moving into the Klamath River from the ocean. The bad news is the sea lions at the narrow channel connecting the estuary to the sea, were having a field day killing steelhead. The sea lions, which are protected, take a huge toll on the salmon and steelhead that must run up the narrow chute of water.
Yes we still have weeks of hot weather ahead but we can still find good fishing if we locate cool water.
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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