Let’s ask the experts

By: Kirby Desha for The News Messenger
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What was the best thing about 2016? What are you looking forward to this year and what are you concerned about? How would you describe the current condition of California fishing?

To answer those questions I got the opinions of several the areas’ top fishing experts on the current state of fishing in this region and here’s what they had to say.

David Hammond is a fishing guide and owner of Delta Pro Fishing. David is “The Man” when it comes to the Delta; he is an expert on sturgeon and striped bass, as well as salmon.

Hammond: Overall both sturgeon and striper fishing was great in 2016. Striped bass were small, but the numbers were impressive throughout the system. Sturgeon fishing was solid with many fish in the slot limit.

As for 2017, I haven’t been this optimistic in decades.

The record rainfall has given the delta the flushing it’s needed for years. All species will benefit, from the mountain lakes all the way to the ocean. Many areas that were not available for fishing due to all the nasty grass will be open again this year.

I believe this year’s fishing will be considered one of the greatest in a long time. As always, my biggest concern is the water management in the state.

Jack Naves, aka: Bass Jack, is a fishing expert and “Fish Sniffer” contributor. Jack was born and raised in the Sacramento area. He has been fishing here his entire life. His in-depth knowledge is a combination of 35-plus years of experience, as well as information gleaned from others.

Naves: The fall striper run in the west delta was incredible last year. I got lucky and found a big group of fish which stuck around for a while. We had some epic trips for sure.

The upcoming fall salmon run is concerning. 2016 was dismal, and the salmon fishing seems to be getting worse with each passing year. The good news is that the above-average rainfall we are currently experiencing will most likely mean larger salmon runs in two or three years from now.

I'm very excited about the improved water levels we should see in 2017 for lakes, reservoirs and rivers. I will expect to see more stripers coming out of the delta to spawn in the Feather and Sacramento rivers this year.

There should also be an improvement in the kokanee fishery with all of the runoff creating nutrients for plankton, their main food source. Having more water is always good for fishing. Despite the lack of funding for outdoor sports compared to other states, California still has some of the best natural resources in the entire world.

In 2016 I was able to land stripers and salmon, and sturgeon over 20 pounds, big crappie, ling cod, rock fish, bass, trout, kokanee, etc., etc. Where else can you experience that kind of diversity?

The point is that we have some really diverse natural resources here in California in spite of what decisions are made at agency levels. I think the overall outlook here is good.