Waters start to heat up
This week we are getting a good streak of warm weather. The combination of clear skies and 60 degree days will start the waters warming. Although we are in midwinter, even a slight warming can get the fish looking for a meal.
Most steelhead rivers in the state continue to feature high dirty water.
The premier exception is the Smith River just below the Oregon border. The Smith is the first river to return to fishable condition following a storm. It fishes best from late January through early March. The ideal conditions are river levels between 11 and 9 feet, measured at the Jed Smith State Park gauging station.
Yesterday at noon, the river dropped below 12 feet and continues to fall. This week will be the best fishing of the year, to date. If the storm track returns, it could be the best fishing of the season.
My point is this is a good time to go if you can get away. Roe is currently the best producer but as the water level falls and the visibility gets better egg imitations will work. There was a land slide into the south fork that has the Smith cloudier than normal.
Lake Oroville continues to fish well for midwinter conditions. Last Sunday, the winning five-fish limit for a bass tournament was 14.5 pounds. Most anglers did well fishing pig & jigs from the surface down to 25 feet. Early on, the fish were deep but as the day warmed up the fish moved up close to the top. The water has only a foot of visibility, giving the fish cover to move shallow in midday. Even small increases in water temperature can improve the bite. Coves sheltered from wind and in full sun can be good places to start. Most incoming streams are currently colder than the lake. Your thermometer has some good information for you.
Pyramid Lake, northeast of Reno, has been fishing well for the last couple weeks. John Kusanovich and Ace Emmerling of the local fly club went recently. They both did well fishing bugger & beetle combinations. They spent their day on the beach north of the nets.
The trout were mostly in the 20-inch size range. The best color combinations were black or purple for the buggers with brown beetles trailing behind. Other reports I have received point to large nymphs suspended below indicators as another very effective technique. Pyramid is a good bet for cutthroat trout fishing for the next three months or more.
Sturgeon fishing on the Sacramento River has been good for the last week. Currently, there are three launch ramps available across the valley from us – Ward’s, Colusa and Tisdale. Tisdale will be the first to close if the river level drops. There is a sand bar between the ramp and the main river. The best baits are the perennial favorites of pile worms, ghost shrimp or eels.
Last week, the Fish & Game Commission held a meeting in Sacramento. On the agenda was the decline in the sturgeon numbers and possible actions to be taken. The commissioners did not make any decision regarding the sturgeon fishery at that time.
There will be another meeting this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Hall off Civic Center Blvd. in Yuba City. Fisheries biologists will be there to take angler input regarding restricting the take of sturgeon.
If I were a betting man, I would expect to see some sort of a punch card system for next season to limit the take for any individual angler as well as changes to the slot limit.
The Feather River continues to run high and cold. It will take some warming and the DF&G to start releasing steelhead smolts to get the stripers on the bite. The Yuba River is also high and dirty, making for poor fishing conditions.
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