Salmon opener gets a bit rough

By: George deVilbiss
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It was one of those cases where you really had to love the ocean in order to go salmon fishing.


Water conditions for the 2010 opener last Saturday were not friendly to a person very used to land and its inherent stability. It was described by some as “bouncy.” Others simply called it “rough.”


All ports had boats out on the opener and by the second day, anglers dropped off significantly due to the water conditions, which most ports of call expected to continue through most of the week.


In Fort Bragg, with 20-foot breakers at the jetty of Noyo Harbor, no boat ventured out throughout the entire opening weekend. The heavy water is expected to flatten out midweek.


Were salmon caught? You bet. It wasn’t red hot, constant rod bending action from the hard fighting Chinooks. But some of the anglers willing to brave the heavy seas were rewarded with a bite.


More due to water conditions than anything else, the boats that did the catching kept the boats moving. That means trolling.


It appears that the water temperatures have changed, at least somewhat. Last year, for example, there just wasn’t much bait. Even those in the business of providing anchovy were having a difficult time providing live anchovy to the receivers.


On the salmon opener, the party boats in the Bodega region were able to mark bait balls of both anchovy and krill, both a highly favored food for the salmon. That is great news. If their favorite grub is in the region, that should keep them in the area. And, if they are in the region, when the seas become easier riding, then anglers will get into a good salmon bite.



Statewide, the snowpack is 106 percent. That sounds good but there is a caveat.


The Sierra range is broken down into three segments - northern, central and southern. Our area is fed by the central segment and the latest snowpack showed that at just 92 percent of normal. This compares with 81 percent at the same time last year.


On the good news front, many lakes are already full or nearing that point.


Folsom Lake: Bass were heavily involved in pre-spawn activities until the weather again turned colder and the rains fell. With a few days of warming weather and clear skies, they’ll be back to look for nesting sites. Water levels keep coming up, changing the shoreline. Right now it’s impossible to say exactly what the bass may want, so keep changing. Between plastics and crankbaits, though, you should get plenty of action.


Lake Berryessa: Drop down no more than 17 feet and you can get numerous hook-ups at the same time on kokanee. It means it’s going to be a banner year for the little salmon this year here. There are crappie hanging around brush, grassy areas and under docks that either a grub or a live minnow will attract. Bass are preparing to spawn and the smallmouth and largemouth bite is decent. Work a Roboworm.


Sacramento River: Stripers, stripers and more stripers. Locally, there are fish all throughout the local river system from Below Garcia Bend to Verona. In addition to stripers in the Verona area, there is also a sturgeon or two roaming. From Knights Landing to Colusa, there’s a good striper bite for those anchoring and dunking bait or drifting some big minnows. Just know, though, that you’ll get bit by a lot of shakers before you can get into a keeper. Cut bait, along with blood and pile worms are all working.

Further down the river system, trolling is doing well for stripers. A broken-back Rebel, a Bomber or a Yo-Zuri are all accounting for linesides. Most of the bass are the smaller males. There is some sturgeon activity all through the region and ghost shrimp is a major attractor.


Lake Almanor: Last week may not have been a good bet at this lake at the 4,500-foot elevation, but with clearing weather, it might be now. There’s been a good German brown trout bite with some of the bigger browns hitting six pounds. They get really fat and sassy by munching on the lake’s big Japanese pond smelt population. While we catch big fish hauling a threaded night crawler behind a dodger, those hauling a Speed Shiner or a Rapala also do well. Stay near the shoreline and the east side of the lake.  That area will produce better than anywhere on the lake.


Ice House Reservoir: Easy limits is the word, but the rainbows are small, no more than 13 inches. Simply haul a threaded crawler behind some kind of attractor blade and stay on top. Fish are right on the surface.


Stampede Reservoir: The lake is free of ice. While some are driving to the dam and fishing off the shore, very few are venturing in with a boat yet. Don’t expect a whole lot of competition and the fishing for rainbows around the dam has actually been good.


Lake Amador: Trout fishing remains good and when you have five fish on your stringer and every one of the fish is four pounds or better, that’s quite a haul up the hill. The dam and spillway is good as is the boat launch cove and camper’s cove. It’ll take another round of warming weather to bring the bite back on, but crappie were just beginning to hit, with some of the slabsides hitting two and a half pounds. Work under the docks and in and around structure, starting with a minnow. If the bite turns hot, switch to a small orange grub or a jig.


Camp Far West: Good news? The lake is just about full. With that much inflow, however, expect the water to be pretty stained. Find water that’s not too badly stained and working spinnerbaits and a variety of plastics, you can get into a good bass bite, or just haul out a bucketload of minnows. Work anywhere you find structure in the water.


If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.