Try and protect stripers
There are quite a few options available to anglers in the near future. Most of these alternatives are below the 3,500-foot elevation, where water temps are rising through the prime 50- to 65-degree zone.
The best bet for big fish continues to be the Feather River. Since last week the water temps have climbed another couple degrees to the 56-58 range. The striper bite has actually gotten better with more female fish showing up in reports. The males tend to be smaller and arrive earlier in the season. The big fish are the females and they are being caught with increasing frequency. Although bait continues to be the most consistent producer, lures and large streamer flies are becoming more productive as the water warms up.
There is concern about the total striper population in our state. The most prolific spawners are the large females which are also the most tempting to keep for bragging rights. By taking a quick photo and releasing these prime specimens, we can go a long way toward protecting the future of our striper runs. The best table fare are the smaller males and these are at their best when caught from salt water outside the Golden Gate. Please resist the temptation and release the big female stripers back into the river to reproduce.
Stripers spawn when the river water reaches the mid 60s. My best current guess is this will be in June. It remains to be seen if the stripers will stay in the Feather to spawn or if they will head down river to Verona and then move up the Sacramento River. I am getting sporadic reports of the striper bite on the Sacramento picking up. The river was lowered to install a diversion dam near Redding last week.
In the Feather, up near Oroville, the spring run steelhead continue to interest river trout fishermen who are having a tough time finding fishable water in the Sierra, due to the snow melt. My sources rate San Juan Worms and Green Rock Worms as good bets for the fly anglers in the low flow section of the Feather.
The second top rated fishing option this week is lake bass fishing. I fished Scotts Flat Lake last Wednesday evening with Mike Pumphery. The smallmouth bass were biting a variety of lures. We caught fish with plastic worms, rip baits, and power minnows. The largest fish was a 141Ú2 inches taken by Colin Peirce on a tube bait. Most of the fish were on structure close to the bank. During the previous 10 days, the water temps on Scotts Flat Lake had risen from the mid 50s to the mid 60s. This is much faster than I had expected. The lake is full to the top, with water at the base of the trees around the lake.
I also fished the previous weekend at Lake Oroville and saw conditions very similar to Scotts Flat. The lake is rapidly rising and the water temps are in the mid 60s. The bass are on a pre-spawn feeding binge. They did have a decided preference for chartreuse. I fished trolling flies and drop shot flies with the expectation that white would work. But until I switched to chartreuse the results were disappointing.
This past Saturday, Ed Everhart of Grass Valley and Will Dea fished Oroville. The bass were on a pre-spawn crank bait bite. Between the two of them they boated 72 fish. This is as good as it gets.
Other anglers on the North Fork of Lake Oroville took some of the recently planted coho salmon. They are now in the 13- to 14-inch range. Look for them near incoming water.
The next full moon is this coming Saturday. I expect this will be the peak of the foothill bass spawn. The fishing should be very good through this time frame.
Other local waters such as Lake Wildwood, Lake of the Pines and private foothill ponds have all been fishing well. This is the prime time of the year for bass fishing. Either go now or wish you had.
Some members of the Gold Country Fly Fishers were on Lower Scotts Flat this past week and did well fishing sub surface flies like Sheep Creek Specials for trout. The road to Fuller Lake has been plowed. The last reports were that you will have to hike over the snow to get to the water. Parking is also limited by the snow piled up next to the road.
Outside the Golden Gate, the salmon fishing has been sporadic. In the last week there have been days that featured early limits for the whole fleet and days when the returns were less than a fish per rod. Most of the salmon were 7 to 10 pounds with the largest fish going 22 pounds. The potluck live bait trips inside the bay are targeting halibut and leopard shark.
Denis Peirce writes a weekly column for The Union 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. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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