Winds making life interesting for boaters

By: George deVilbiss
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Strong winds, especially from the north, make it extremely difficult to control a boat, especially in the lower RPM ranges, such as when you’re trolling. They can kick out near ocean-like waves and swells on many waters where it can actually become a dangerous situation for a smaller craft. On the plus side, seemingly endless late spring rains and snows appear to have ended and temperatures, both in the valley and in the high country, are warming up. The downside, of course, to the angler, is that with warming weather, just about everywhere there will be added competition on the water for space, especially by the water recreationists, the water skiers, personal water crafts, and swimmers. Ocean Fishery: The strong north winds make fishing for salmon extremely difficult and for many, so uncomfortable due to the rolling that some anglers never get anywhere near their rods. If you are regularly plagued with the landlubbers curse, just check the wind and water conditions closely before you make the trip. When the weather does cooperate with minimal winds, the Chinook salmon fishery has been at least fair, for the most part, with generally one fish per person on the average. At times, and it’s simply the luck of the draw, even occasional limits are seen. Fort Bragg boats have seen an occasional fair bite, but for the most part, it still hasn’t broken loose, but boats out of the San Francisco Bay ports and Bodega Bay are generally finding a better bite. S.F. Bay Fishery: A much better bite going on is the halibut bite in San Francisco Bay, and it’s something you can actually do with your own boat if you have some means of keeping a couple hundred anchovy alive. A half scoop, the least you can get, of anchovies from the receivers at the Berkeley dock, amounts to many more anchovy than you can use in a day’s worth of fishing. But the “butt” bite has been good all around the bay by those drifting a live anchovy on or near the bottom, utilizing a three-way swivel with an eight-ounce weight on one side, a live-bait hook and leader on the other. Look for the how-to in next week’s column. Off the sandy bottom of Crissy Field is producing halibut. If you’re further east, around Paradise Beach off the San Rafael shoreline area, just below the San Rafael Bridge has seen a good bite. There are areas around Angel Island doing well. And, the Berkeley Flats will always show a large number of boats drifting. The striper fishing should bust loose to a red-hot fishery any time. It was early-mid July last year when I went out on the California Dawn (510-417-5557 or 510-773-5511) and everybody on board limited on stripers in just a couple of hours, with the concentration after that on halibut. Eagle Lake: Opening weekend pressure of the Memorial Day Weekend holiday has dropped off considerably where you can easily find fishing space without a great deal of competition. Those trolling and those in select areas fishing from shore or dropping anchor and still fishing has been good. Try trolling the mouth, north end, of the channel at the Youth Camp. South of there, working the shelf along the south side of Pelican Point has been producing and same for those trolling around Shrimp Island. The deeper water around Eagle’s Next should also be good. While more northern areas, such as Buck’s Point and Troxxel, generally produce well, there’s not been much word on the bite in those regions. Eagle Lake doesn’t provide much in the way of shore fishing, but the Youth Camp is one region where you can be very successful. To reach the Youth Camp, there is a marked turn-off when you take Highway 139 out of Susanville. The same region is also some of the best still fishing for anchored boaters, as well. Simply hang a threaded crawler under a bobber, about half the distance to the bottom. The daily bag limit is two fish at Eagle Lake, and they’ve been running over two and a half and up to four and a half pounds. Caples Lake: There’s a lot of snow in some areas of the high country and this happens to be one. Warming weather has melted some of the ice on the lake where from shore you can now fish. Trout are hungry. The rule is quick limits of a mixed bag of both rainbows and browns by those soaking eggs or crawlers. Leave the boat at home for now, though. Too much snow still there to get to the ramp. Crystal Basin: At the top end, the road has been cleared to the top end, so you can drive to Loon Lake. The main parking lot, the boat-launch area, and even the campground are all still well snowed in, but you can fish from shore and do well on trout cruising near the shoreline looking for an easy meal. At Union Valley Reservoir, a truckload of trout are going to be put in the lake to enhance the catching. Small kokanee are biting hoochies trolled down 30 feet or so, and lake trout – or mackinaw – are biting for those getting down 80 feet. At Ice house Reservoir, toplining is still the rule and will produce a limit of rainbows. A crawler always works for attracting trout, but grubs, most spoons and spinners are also attracting a take down. Any questions, comments or concerns, contact George at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.