It's salmon time

By: Kirby Desha for The News Messenger
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In my opinion, the fall run of king salmon though the Sacramento Valley is probably the most anticipated fishing event of the year. From the opener in mid-July until the season ends in December, the thrill of landing one of these hard-fighting fish draws thousands of anglers to the region.

Early season catches may contain a lot of younger males, “jacks,” that weigh around 8-10 pounds. Then the spawning females move into the river systems and fish weighing 15-20 pounds are common.

As the season progresses, the conventional wisdom holds that the fish get bigger, tipping the scales at 40 pounds or more. The chances of catching one of those once-in-a-lifetime fish will keep folks chasing that dream. The current state record stands at 88 pounds.

Once the fish migrate in from the ocean, they will enter one of several rivers that dump into the delta to begin their journey upstream toward the spawning ground particular to that fish. How they find these locations is an amazing display of navigation.

Within the Sacramento region, fish will move up and either turn into the American River in downtown Sacramento or continue on to the confluence of the Sacramento and the Feather Rivers at Verona. From there they split off toward their particular point of origin.

This week, a buddy and I spent several hours fishing at the mouth of the Feather River. From the reports, we heard that a lot of fish were being caught using spinners while sitting on anchor. Even though we were on the water well before sunup, there were already several lines of boats jockeying for their favorite spots.

Fishing on anchor in this area means the boats will be within earshot of each other, and for the most part it’s a pretty cooperative bunch. A hooked salmon can easily run across several lines or get tangled in an anchor rope and folks will usually do their best to reel in lines to get out of the way of the angler fighting a fish.

Occasionally, people will get testy about “their” spot. I figure it’s a big river and fish are coming through, so it’s the luck of the draw anyway.

On this particular day, we saw one guy land two fish within minutes of each other and he was anchored right in the middle of the pack.

The current weapon of choice for most of those on anchor is a silvertron spinner. Early morning color has always been chartreuse blades and then, as the sun hits the water, we switch to chrome blades.

Every year, someone will claim a particular color bead is the best thing going. I figure it’s good to have several to choose from in my gear bag.

Unfortunately, we came away empty on that day. My friend did have one good rod-bending takedown, but the fish didn’t stick. I had a few small taps.

The guy next to us had a fish on for a minute, but it also got off the hook. He told us he had already landed 17 fish this year.

If one puts in the time the fish will come.