The spring bass bite is on |

The spring bass bite is on

Denis Peirce

Despite all of the above water turmoil about COVID-19, below the surface life goes on as normal. We have finished the first third of April and the bass are in the spawning mode. The recent cold rains have dropped the water temps slightly and for a few days the bass moved out to deeper water on my favorite local bass pond. Wednesday the temperature was 58 degrees, a little below the mid-60s prime temp. By this weekend I expect the shallows to warm well into the 60s, and the catching to continue to be good.

Colin and I have broken out of our “sheltering in place” mode to practice social distancing on the water. Fortunately we have access to a local Penn Valley pond for catch release angling. Another aspect to the first week of April is Colin’s birthday. As is often the case he has some brand new bass plugs to fish on the pond. These combined with the best bass bite of the year continues to confirm what great fishermen we really are. The days of getting “skunked” in the cold winter temps are forgotten.

The bass are in shallow water where we can see them and cast to individual fish, if you have a stealthy approach. I find it remarkable how many fish are in these local ponds when judged by the number of bass you can see along the shore. A month ago there was not a fish to be seen and getting a bite was a rare event. What a difference a month or two can make.

We had the full moon this week. Bass tend to spawn on the full moon or the dark of the moon. I have not seen many spawning beds and I suspect it was not quite warm enough this week. In two or four weeks we will have the bass spawn throughout the foothill waters. Typically late May or early June the pan fish will take over the spawning shallows.

Down in the valley the striped bass run is on. As of yesterday the Verona ramp is closed. On the Sacramento River the ramps are open from Tisdale north. On the Feather River my sources say that Star Bend, Boyd’s and Live Oak ramps are open. If you go, have alternative ramps in mind in case your first choice is full. Shutting down ramps concentrates the anglers onto fewer locations, the opposite of their intended result.

The fishing has been good for five- to seven-pound fish. Live minnows have been producing throughout the day. There have been stripers boiling on salmon smolts occasionally. I recommend having a second rod rigged with a three- to four-inch plug, in case you find this phenomenon.

My advice is to keep your social distance so as not to give the politicians and bureaucrats the excuse to shut more of our fishing opportunities down. Almost all of the lakes in California are closed to fishing. I hope to see you out there on the water getting sun and vitamin D.

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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