Weather slows bass bite
Despite the grip old man winter still has on our weather, the fish are moving around on schedule. Water temp is a major factor in fish behavior, but it is not the only factor that fish respond to. Hours of daylight is another driving influence.
The striper migration on the Sacramento River is on schedule. The schoolie males have arrived in the Colusa area and have spread up to Princeton. The river is still high and cold, which makes the catching rather tough. A guide in the Colusa area picked up a couple small males this past weekend by trolling. It took all day to get two small males. Electronic fish finders have confirmed the arrival of the vanguard of the striper migration. The continued storms and the high cold water will keep the bite suppressed for the immediate future.
On the Feather River there was a brief striper bite below Nicholas until the most recent rise in the Feather River flows. Now that the combined Feather, Yuba and Bear River flows are back up, the bite has shut down. It is not clear where these fish have gone.
March is a big month for bass tournaments. Every weekend there are many events scheduled throughout the north state. I checked in on tournament results for Lake Shasta, Lake Oroville, Clear Lake and East Park Reservoir.
At Shasta and Oroville, water temps are ranging between 47 and 50 degrees. The females are full of eggs and can be found in deep water during foul weather. But give them a sunny day and they will move up and stage adjacent to good spawning areas. Shasta is very clear and Oroville has a stain to it. Jigs, fished slowly on the bottom, have been the most productive lures. Spinner baits are another good choice.
There is an unusual pattern at both lakes. Bass are normally a structure oriented fish, hugging the shoreline, changing depths with seasons, temps, food and weather. Trout and salmon are much more likely to be suspended over great depths. There are bass suspended 50 to 60 feet down in 150 feet of water in both lakes. These bass are following the bait fish schools that suspend in deep water. This is not the dominant pattern in these lakes. The bulk of the fish are in the usual haunts. It is an interesting anomaly that might justify some trout trolling tactics for the bass anglers.
This suspended pattern has been seen on the north fork arm of Oroville Lake and on the Dry Creek arm of Shasta Lake. The bait fish are shad in Shasta and pond smelt in Oroville.
Clear Lake is just below 50 degrees like the other lakes. But it is a shallow body of water that precludes the fish going deep. The water is stained at the west end and clear at the east end. The best fishing is in the clearer water at the east end in 5 to 10 feet of water. The fish are on the bottom gathered in groups. If you are not on fish, move, and once you find a group of fish stay on them. Do not leave fish to find fish. Once a group of fish are found, the way to catch them has been very slow presentations on the bottom. Drop-shotted plastics or dart headed worms have been the preferred techniques.
East Park is a smaller lake in the coast range north west of Colusa. On Sunday, the bass were on the edge of a flat in twelve feet of water. The flat ranged from four to 12 depths. The fish were on the break at the edge and moved onto the flat during the day. This particular flat was over 50 degrees and attracted the prespawn fish. My source “slow rolled” a chartreuse spinner bait. He retrieved it as slowly as possible, occasionally resting it on the bottom.
I also received an isolated trout report for Folsom. There have been trout taken long line trolling off the face of the dam. There is a lot of floating debris on the water. A Pin Minnow in olive, trolled .8 to 1.5 mph accounted for a 5-pound and a 4-pound rainbow trout last week.
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 email@example.com
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