Local waters open to salmon fishing July 16

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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No, you can’t fish local rivers year-round for salmon. As it is in ocean waters, there are season dates for salmon in rivers.

On Monday, July 16, most local rivers open to allowable salmon fishing. However, not all sections of the same river may open at the same time.

The summary includes:

Sacramento River: The stretch of river from the Deschutes Road Bridge near Anderson to 500 feet upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam won’t open to fishing until Aug. 1 and will run through Dec. 16.

From 150 feet below the Lower Red Bluff boat ramp downriver to the Carquinez Bridge will be fishable water from July 16 through Dec. 16.

Feather River: The section of river from the unimproved boat launch ramp above Thermalito Afterbay to 200 yards above the Live Oak boat ramp opens July 16 and runs through Oct. 15.

The section from 200 yards above the Live Oak boat ramp downriver to the mouth and confluence with the Sacramento River opens from July 16 through Dec. 16.

American River: Here, you really need to know boundary lines, as the relatively short stretch of river from the Nimbus Dam to the mouth of the American at Discovery Park is fractured into numerous fishing areas with different opening and closing dates:

* From Nimbus Dam to the Hazel Avenue Bridge, open July 16 through Dec. 31.

* From the Hazel Avenue Bridge to the U.S. Geological Survey gauging station cable near the Nimbus Hatchery, open July 16 through Aug. 15.

* From the U.S. Geological Survey cable crossing near the Nimbus Hatchery downriver to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park, open July 16 through Oct. 31.

* From the SMUD power line to the Jibboom Street Bridge just below Interstate 5 above Discovery Park, open July 16 through Dec. 31.

* From the Jibboom Street Bridge to the mouth of the river where it meets the Sacramento River, open July 16 through Dec. 16.

There are numerous dates for various stretches of the Mokelumne River. It’s advised that you pick up a copy of the current regulations, from a sporting goods outlet or online at “,” for additional information.

The daily bag and possession limit on all river systems is two Chinook salmon.

Current fishing

American River: Early morning and late-afternoon shad fishing is still a possibility with decent catches coming in. If nothing else, the fish nicknamed “the poor man’s tarpon” is a blast to catch, especially on ultra light tackle. And, shad are excellent smoked.

Lake Amador: The lake is still in super shape, down only a couple feet from full. Bassing is hot with some real hawgs falling to something like a Brush Hawg that’s Texas rigged. There are bucketmouths going more than nine pounds. Staying the night? Fire up the lantern and soak stinky stuff on the bottom. Catfish also are hitting.

Clear Lake: Hardly the best fishing right now, and with the warm weather, look for a lot of algae and moss in the water, especially close to shore. You’ll find bass trying to beat the sun by hiding under docks and wherever there’s structure providing shade. You can tempt the bass to come out of the weed beds and tules to attack top-water gear if you get an early start or just before the sun sets. Otherwise, it’s time to work worms.

Eagle Lake: You can still launch at Spaulding, but it soon will be iffy. Local guide Tim Noxon estimates maybe another couple of weeks at most. The Community Services District has marked a channel to get in and out, but as the water drops, that also will become unusable. The only launching then will be at the southern end of the lake, where it’s expected to be no problem until the end of fishing season Dec. 31.

In the meantime, with the warming temperature, trolling action has slowed to a virtual crawl. If you’re bent on trolling, head for the deeper areas to find fish concentrating on cooler water. There are several underground springs in the southern end. Work the deeper water around Slough and Wildcat points, down 45-55 feet. That’s also where you’ll find anglers bobber fishing with a suspended crawler. The word is, however, the bobber bite is mostly over by 6:30 a.m.

Camp Far West: Recreational boating traffic on weekends is heavy, making fishing almost impossible. During the week, however, you can find quiet time, and plastics and something like a Brush Hawg is enticing a decent bass bite. This lake isn’t known for super lunkers, but one- and two-pounders can keep you busy.

Lake Oroville: The lake is dropping but still around 90 percent, as they’re letting cooler water out for any salmon that might be coming up the Feather River. The North Fork is kicking out a bunch of bass to 2½ pounds. Cranks and spinner baits should get you bit. Drop-shot a worm in five to 20 feet, and you should get pestered by smaller fish. Salmon have gone deeper, but big numbers are possible. It will take downriggers to get down to the 50-90 feet where they are.

San Francisco Bay: Stripers could break loose any day inside the bay. Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker and son James Smith of the California Dawn are working bay waters consistently. They’re picking up some bass but not like it will be, hopefully, in the next week or so. In the meantime, they’re getting halibut inside the bay with a few stripers, and going outside, under the “gate,” for sack loads of rock cod.

Salmon: Salmon fishing remains excellent for the most part. There are days when everybody on board gets limits. Other days, boats have to work hard for the fish they put on board, and sometimes that might only be a fish per rod. Up and down the coast, it’s really the same story with the Bay Area fleet, Bodega and Fort Bragg. Most of the Chinooks are in the teens, but true smoker hawgs are being netted, some 30-35 pounds.

Scotts Flat: This is a nice lake to visit and doesn’t take much time to get to, just above Nevada City-Grass Valley. The DFG recently dumped 2,000 pounds of rainbows into the lake. Because of its lower elevation, the fish immediately headed for the depths so you need to drop down 80 feet. Head up to the inlet where cooler water enters the lake, too.

Caples Lake: Shore casters and trollers have scored on rainbows, and the fishery is only going to get better with a scheduled plant by the DFG. Some taken by those on shore have hit three pounds with Power Bait being the main enticer. Trollers have done better, size wise, by hauling a flashy lure around Wood’s Creek and Emigrant Bay, with rainbows from 2-4 pounds.

Contact George deVilbiss at