Millions of baby salmon already released from Nimbus Hatchery

Yes, it's salmon season, but sturgeon fishing remains hot in Suisun Bay, too
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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A few thousand salmon find their way back to their home stomping grounds each year, the Nimbus Hatchery. When they return, it’s the end of their life cycle.

To propagate future generations, hatchery personnel happily help these salmon spawn by extracting the eggs from the females, milt from the males. Not long after the two are mixed together, baby salmon emerge from the eggs.

In past years, these baby salmon have been released at the hatchery area to find their way down the American River, down the Sacramento River and eventually out under the Golden Gate Bridge to the open water of the ocean.

In other years, the baby salmon — or smolt — have been released in Suisun Bay and, at other times, their holding pens actually were towed to near the Golden Gate Bridge. Being released closer to the open water means they’ll face fewer predators between the Nimbus Hatchery and the ocean.

This week, hatchery personnel will haul about 3 million baby salmon to the Jibboom Street Bridge, just upriver from the mouth of the American River.

This site was chosen because studies have shown young salmon released near the mouth of their home are more likely to return to that river without confusion of being lost. It will be anywhere from two to five years before they make that return trip.

Each and every one of the 3 million smolt have been tagged with coded wire that will show when and where they were tagged and released.

Some salmon apparently do get confused and wind up in different areas from where they were born. DFG biologists are studying the straying rates to hopefully decrease that possibility, one reason they’re being released in the American River. The hope is that area will be indelibly imprinted in their makeup so they return there when it’s their time.

Current fishing
Finally, some fair and warming weather, without strong wind, a perfect combination for getting out, getting a line wet and soaking bait. A lot of water is coming down the hill with the snowmelt, and it’s going to last quite some time. That means lakes are going to be full.

As water levels rise, bass stay on the move following the ever-changing shoreline for any foodstuffs the water floods out. Bass and the whole family of sunfish can readily be found in shallower water. With water remaining colder, trout will be closer to the surface early but will head for deeper water as the sun rises.
And, as the air and water warms, look for more recreationists to join you on the water. The best rod-bending action anywhere will be early in the mornings and later in the afternoons.

Ocean salmon: No solid, hot bite anywhere for anybody. But, with more fair weather in the forecast, things could improve. The strong north wind last weekend will have a few days of effect before the seas lay out and flatten, however. The wave flow is from north to south and when north winds blow, it makes those waves that much bigger. A south wind pushes the waves down. In all regions, boats are finding bait and perfect water temperature. But right now, it’s a fish here and there.

Suisun Bay: Since salmon season opened, not much is being said about the sturgeon fishery. It’s still good in the Ozol area. Don’t discount the ever-popular Mothball Fleet area either. Soaking any shrimp bait or eel has proved successful. There also are nice stripers cruising these waters.

Sierra: It’s pretty much a small boat launching at Boca Reservoir, one you can manhandle with boaters hand-launching off the bank. Those burning gas are nailing nice browns, rainbows and even early kokanee to 12 inches. Donner Lake recently was planted, and launching is easy. Trollers are doing well on brown trout, planter and holdover rainbows and even a now-and-then mackinaw. Haul a broken-back Rebel, down maybe 30 feet, and you could hook onto a mack. The west end of the lake has been a good proving ground for trollers hauling a lure or threaded crawler for browns and ’bows. Even those on shore around the boat ramp or the provided disabled dock have scored with Power Bait, eggs or crawlers.

Jenkinson Lake: It also was planted recently, and trolling and shore dunking has been good. Boaters and shore-bound anglers have headed to the area of the first and second dam.

Englebright Reservoir: It’s a lake that looks more like a river. The lake is full, and trollers are nailing their share of rainbows. The dam-marina area is always good, or head upriver. Some trout are running 15 inches or better.

Lake Almanor: It’s where we’ll be in a week. As is usual at this lake, the east shoreline, or along Highway 147, is the hot area for trout. There’s considerable bait to compete with, but some brown trout are hitting five pounds. There are so many trophy-sized fish in this lake, we won’t even look twice at a trout unless it’s more than two pounds, sometimes three or better. There are king salmon in the lake, but so far, their bite has been quiet. With the two-rod stamp, we have four rods out and we’ve had all four light up at the same time when we get into a good school of salmon. There aren’t many areas for the shore angler, but it’s a troller’s paradise. If you’ve never been there, give it a try.

Contact George deVilbiss at