Weather is a reel dilemma |

Weather is a reel dilemma

I wish I could write a column about how great the local fishing has been over the last week.

But …

The best way to spin the past couple of weeks is, that we are getting the water that – hopefully someday soon – we are going to fish in, during this coming year.

The reality of how much water is deposited by a winter storm is amazing. We do not get that many storm systems during a year – I am guessing one or two dozen at most – yet enough water is carried on these few storms to have all of our rivers flow year-round.

Despite the foul weather, some anglers did make it out onto the water last week.

Frank Rinella, Ralph Wood, Dennis Carlson and Ed Stember from the Gold Country Fly Fishers club fished the Lower Yuba last week. Water visibility was about 2 feet with the water shades of green rather than brown above the Highway 20 bridge. As you go farther downstream the water gets dirtier, from local tributaries feeding in silt-stained water. The fishing was tough with about two fish to the rod being taken. The majority of the trout were caught on egg imitations. But the most encouraging news is that the Skwala stone flies have begun to hatch. Ralph Wood did catch one of his fish on a dry skwala pattern.

The skwalas are the first big insect of the year to hatch. Usually they do not come on until early February. These bugs are about 1.25 inches in length and they will tend to ride the surface film for long drifts. This makes them available to the trout or steelhead.

A bug of this scale is a good-sized meal and will attract fish up through 4 to 5 feet of flowing water. I have fished during the hatch of these stone flies in dirty brown water conditions and had fish rise to the surface to eat the offering.

Fish on dry flies is an unusual occurrence in the depths of winter.

To get a good look at one of these bugs, shake the bushes along the river’s edge and they will fly out. Follow one individual with your eyes and watch where it lands. Then go over and check it out. The skwalas live for a week or more in stream-side bushes and are available to the trout for weeks. The warmest part of the day is when these bugs are most active this time of year.

Other fishing opportunities include trout fishing in foothill lakes. Collins Lake has begun their annual planting program. The water level has come up and is now within 24 feet of the spillway. The clearest water will be toward the dam. The incoming stream will be dirtiest in stormy weather. Another clue is that lakes clear from the top to the bottom as the mud precipitates out. The trout prefer cleaner water and will tend to be shallow. This is good for long line trolling.

I was in Angels Camp last weekend and checked on the fishing at New Melones Reservoir. Water clarity is good. Most of the incoming water is from high elevation and green. The local tributaries like Angels Creek were muddy, but you can find good water color in the lake The trout fishing is good from both the bank and trolling in boats. A few good browns are caught there weekly by anglers trolling dead shad, minnow or chrome & blue hardware. New Melones is almost a 3-hour drive from here.

John Kusanovich fished the Trinity River last week and did well catching steelhead on small nymphs. The storms of this past weekend were cold and the precipitation fell as snow. This kept the water clear in the upper stretches of the river.

The best fishing is up high on the Trinity. The middle river below Weaverville is not producing well. The storms of the last 2 weeks have brought up new winter-run steelhead to join the fall run fish already in the system.

The weatherman is calling for clearing skies and no rain for the end of the week.

This just might improve conditions for this coming weekend.


Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing 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

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