Last summer holiday weekend, a real hurrah and fish for free

By: George deVilbiss
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It used to be that schools fired up after a summer off on the first working day after the Labor Day weekend. That school day start-up, after the holiday, allowed the family to have a full getaway weekend or more for the holiday. And, although it’s still a three-day weekend for most, many schools throughout the state are already, and have been, in full operation for two or three weeks. The holiday weekend just isn’t the marker it used to be. With hot weather setting back in campgrounds throughout the state are still expected to be wall-to-wall. School or no school for the youngsters, it’s still the last hurrah for the summer for many campers. It will be the first time in many years that lakes and reservoirs throughout the north state are still high enough to host just about any recreational activity any person or family could want in order to enjoy their day of fun. Fishing, water and jet-skiing, swimming – it will all be available in waters that are all in great shape. Lakes in the local foothills are expected to be wall-to-wall with campers, as will be many campgrounds throughout the high country and coastal regions. It will still take reservations, for the most part, to find a campsite at many of the more popular campgrounds. At lakes such as Lake Camanche out of Ione, without a prior reservation, you can have all the fun you want in day use, but forget camping. Only those with reservations are allowed to stay the night. If you’re somewhere in the great out-of-doors, Saturday, is the second day of the year you’re allowed to fish without benefit of having a fishing license. It’s a free fishing day to fish in any waters of the state – ocean, streams, lakes and reservoirs, canals, rivers. If there’s water and you want to dunk a line to try for something swimming in it, go for it. You can do it without a license. However, all fishing rules and restrictions do apply. Under the rules of Free Fishing, you’re allowed one rod. If you want to use two rods, you will have to purchase a fishing license and the accompanying two rod stamp. Bag limits, fishing hours and any and all other fishing rules and regulations do apply. The Free Fishing Day simply allows you to go fishing without benefit of a license. If you’re unsure of any of the regulations, it would be highly recommended that you pick up a copy of the various regulations booklets and check any restrictions that may apply as to where you might hope to fish. CURRENT FISHING Salmon fishing has been so sporadic along California’s north coast I thought I’d give the Rogue River in Oregon a try; it’s a region that is generally whacking and stacking salmon aboard the many boats this time of year. The mouth of the Rogue River is at Gold Beach, about 25 miles north of Brookings, Ore. A short hop, really, from the California-Oregon border. I had contracted with guide Bill Divens of Salmon King Lodge, a Red Bluff transplant (530) 528-8727. He fishes the Rogue and other nearby rivers part of the year, the upper Sacramento River region other parts of the year. He knows both river areas extremely well. We fished about 15 miles upriver from the mouth in the national forest area for a little over three hours, netting one jack salmon about five pounds, losing one salmon in the 20s, and releasing two squaw fish. Once the sun hit the water, we moved down to the mouth of the river at Gold Beach. We trolled there the rest of the day, along with probably another 200 boats. We saw perhaps 10 fish caught and netted. I was thoroughly impressed with boater courtesy, however. When a boat did hook a fish, nearby boats immediately brought in their gear, hit high gear on the motor to get out of the way, and give the angler plenty of room to chase and fight the fish. While those fish caught were all running 20-30 pounds, there just wasn’t a whole lot of ‘em. The major problem, Bill explained, that on a normal year the Rogue River at this time generally runs about 1,400 cubic feet per second (cfs). Like in California, an extremely wet spring has kept the river high, cold and fast, now running about 4,000 cfs. This time of year, the river is generally low and warm. The salmon stack up in the bay of the river waiting for the river to rise and rains to cool the waters before they make a mad dash upstream. But because it is higher and colder than normal, the fish aren’t holding in the bay. They come in from the ocean and head right up the river. If you catch it just right, and you bounce your lure or anchovy right on their nose, you’ll get a nice, big Chinook salmon. It’s a fishery I’ll definitely participate in again. But, I’ll wait until the river is more amenable to better catching. American River: Top action remains stripers, but with a holiday weekend, the whole river system from Nimbus Dam downriver to the mouth is expected to be a literal zoo with rafters and other water recreationists. If you can catch it early in the morning or late, late afternoons with live bait, top water gear, swim baits, etc., you can get into a pretty decent striper bite. Folsom Lake: Trout and salmon fishing is virtually non existent and bass fishing is tough, and the holiday weekend isn’t going to help a whole lot. You’ll spend more time scoping, and looking for structure and bait fish than you will actually casting. At the crack of dawn, and as the sun goes down over the horizon, though, you could get hammered with noisy top water gear. Local Salmon: When the fish aren’t there, it doesn’t much matter what you throw in the water. You’re just not going to get bit. When a school moves in and through, then you just might. Can you predict when either is going to happen? If you can do that, you’ll be instantly rich. For the rest of us, it’s a big waiting game. The mouth of the American and the mouth of the Feather at Verona both provide rod bending action, but only when a school moves in; Spinner, Flatfish, Kwikfish and just about any other salmon-type offering just might work if the fish are there when you are. Stampede Reservoir: You’d think that the kokanee fishing would be red-hot right now, but it’s not. Expected to be slow would be the rainbow and brown trout fishery – and it is – but the kokanee are seemingly napping a lot. They’re deep and just not interested in a whole lot of offerings being dragged by ‘em. Any questions, comments or concerns, contact George at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM