Denis Peirce: The striper spawn is on
With the dark of the moon this week, the striper spawn on the Sacramento River came on strong. Most of the activity was centered from Grimes up to Colusa. The spawn occurs with a convergence of water temps in the 62 to 64 degree range along with the moon high over head or under foot at midnight.
The stripers spawn at night on the surface with the females releasing eggs as they swim, followed by numerous males fertilizing the eggs. The egg mass rides on the current with viable eggs dropping to the bottom over miles of river.
This pattern of spawning has stripers focused on the surface all night and the top water bite after dark has been terrific. Loud splashy plugs worked across the top can produce hard strikes. Night time navigation on the river is not recommended unless you know the river well. A guide would be the way to go. A pair of local striper guides can be found on Facebook at Outcast Guide Service or Bare Bones Guide Service.
During the day, bait has been the best bet on the Sacramento River from Verona up through Colusa. The water is quite dirty with about 6 inches of visibility. Minnows, drifted on the current, have been the most productive bait.
The Feather River is too low for safe navigation with anything more than a canoe or kayak. There are too many sand bars with just a little water on top of them. With the release of juvenile salmon recently there are some stripers in the system. The best way to approach them is wading if you can get shore access. The best action has been below the Hwy 99 Bridge near Nicholas down to Verona. The Feather has clear water.
There has been a lot of striper action in the Sacramento Metro area. This is not spawning territory but with the salmon release on the American River there are good numbers of feeding fish around. Anchoring with bait on the bottom has been producing.
Downstream from Sac Metro, the sturgeon bite has been good along with the stripers. As a side note, a bait shop in this area sold 600 dozen grass shrimp in three days. The shop owner noted that the sturgeon he has seen come through his shop are 50-50 pre and post spawn fish.
There was concern over the striper population this past winter when they were not in the Delta. But with the onset of spring they appeared in good numbers. Apparently they wintered below the Delta. From angler success, the striper population seems to be in good shape.
With the closure of so many waters in the state, there is a lot of angler pressure on the striper run. The idea that closing launch ramps will prevent anglers congregating at the ramps was not well thought through. It just sent more anglers to the few remaining ramps. Anglers do not all arrive and depart simultaneously. I wish the powers that be would credit us with a bit of common sense. We are not sheep that need to be herded by those with more insight than us.
I think that we may have turned the corner on lake shut downs. After closing the public ramps at Lake Almanor last week, they have been reopened. I have not heard all of the details but Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office was involved in getting the Forest Service to back off and reopen the ramps.
The ramp on the Sacramento River at Verona opened back up on Tuesday of this week as well.
Tom Page, Reel Anglers Fly Shop owner, has been fishing on the Lower Yuba. The river is moving toward the summer pattern of fishing deep during the day with surface action late in the day. The dry fly bite turns on about 4 p.m. with caddis hatching and later the “Pinkie” bite turns on as the PMD’s begin to hatch. The fish are in better condition than they have been since the high water knocked down the bug populations in the prior two winters. The best dry fly action in the evenings has been centered on the large flat water areas.
The river flows are scheduled to be increased May 1. Tom has kept his shop open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for curbside service. If you need something give the shop a call at 530-477-5397.
Getting out in the sunshine is good for vitamin B production and the UV light is an excellent disinfectant. While you are out there you might want to bring your fishing rod.
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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