Uncertain weather impacting fishing conditions

By: George deVilbiss
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Fishing for trout in the state’s hundreds of miles of streams opened to anglers last weekend, but for the most part it was nothing to write home about, at least not yet.


Mother Nature just isn’t cooperating. Late spring storms still show varying amounts of rainfall on the valley floor and added snows in the high country. With warming weather in between storms, the snows are melting.


All of that equates to poor fishing conditions. The trout remain mostly lethargic as the water is too cold and, with the melting snows, the streams are mostly raging torrents. It will be a while before prime fishing conditions are seen.


The Department of Fish and Game will attempt to plant many waterways but again, Mother Nature will play a distinct role in whether their trucks can get to the area or not.



The state’s anglers can enjoy a full ocean salmon fishing season from Horse Mountain south to the Mexican border. The region from Horse Mountain to the Oregon border, which includes the Klamath River area, won’t open to fishing until May 29.


The rest of the state officially opens May 1, after the temporary opening for two or three weeks in April. All offshore salmon fishing will close on Monday, September 6.


There is one major change in the fishery you need to be aware of, especially if you take your own boat – the minimum size of a keeper salmon is increased from 20 inches to 24 inches. As usual, the limit is two Chinook salmon and no coho, or silver salmon, are allowed.


It may be months away, but it appears that local anglers may not have to travel far to try for a salmon, as well. In the fall, when salmon migrate up the Sacramento, American and Feather Rivers, they should be met by an army of river anglers.



Lake Oroville: This is one lake that really took a hit with the drought. The melting snows yet to come down the hill will surely help, but right now the lake is just over half full. It will take another year or two of the type of winter just had for this lake to fully top off. The good news, though, is launching is no problem now.

Bass are in their spawning mode and you can essentially hammer them working live minnows or plastics in 10-20 feet of water. Some nice spots in the four-pound range are being seen. Coho’s up to 15 inches are slamming trolled lures or drifted live minnows.


Collins Lake: A flat out, wide-open trout fishery. They’re still heavily planting the lake and the rod bending action is nothing short of hot and heavy. Best news is you can leave the boat at home and fill up the stringer fishing from shore. While there are a big bunch of 2-3 pounders readily grabbing the offerings, there are some lunkers up to 10 pounds being hooked – and netted.

The bass fishing is great right now, as well, for those working live bait or plastics, with limits the rule rather than the exception.


Folsom Lake: If you can get away during the week, you can avoid a lot of pressure on the water. With great weather, especially on the weekends, you’ll also have to contend with water recreationists out for just a good time.

The king salmon fishery has slowed but some trout are still being caught. Just don’t expect limits. Little Rapalas and Needlefish, or even a threaded-on crawler, should work well. Just hit it early in the morning.

Bassing can be good but you need to stay fairly shallow. While they may be in spawn mode, the bass are still a tad lethargic so you just need to work them slowly. Soft plastics should get bit and drop-shotting and dartheads are still working.


Sugar Pine Reservoir: This is a nice little lake just a few miles beyond Foresthill. Generally easy access, but I’ve been there with snow on the ground and roads. With another round of weather expected this week, it could delay the scheduled trout plant. Watch the weather closely. If the weather doesn’t fully develop, it could be a good bet to take the kids on a day’s outing.


Clear Lake: Bass, like just about everywhere, are headed to the shallows for spawning and the bass bite has been good. Find a big batch of tules and work a Senko slowly, and work every inch of the water.


Lake Almanor: It’s where I’ll be in another two or three weeks, and it’s this time of year when the brown trout fishery is nothing short of dynamite. We do nothing more than haul the tail end of a night crawler, threaded onto a No. 2 or 4 hook, either on a bare line or behind a dodger, off lead core or a downrigger line, and hammer some nice German browns. Rainbows are generally harder to find in the spring; plentiful later, but the mouth of Bailey Creek can be a good bet to find big schools of rainbows. Trolling for browns, stay on the east shore of the lake.


Salmon: Boats out of Fort Bragg aren’t finding much in the way of salmon yet, but it’s still early there. If you can find the school, there’s been a pretty decent bite in the Bodega Bay region. The Bay Area-Half Moon Bay fleet is finding the bite really slow but a few salmon are being netted.


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