Fishing report February 3, 2012
Where suckers are born
The phrase "There's a sucker born every minute," is said by some to have been first uttered by P.T. Barnum, while others say it was someone else. No matter who first said it, Steve Kyle and I found out where suckers are born – the Yuba River.
This discovery was the result of the usual "mid-winter fly-fisher blues" afflicting anglers who spend their spring, summer and fall months attempting to fool trout with feathers. December, January and February can cause withdrawal symptoms like the kind that led me and Kyle to the banks of the Yuba River this week where we met guide Bill Lowe for a mid-winter float down a stretch of the river about 20 miles east of Marysville.
The Yuba looked to be in good shape – perhaps too good. The water was low and clear. The sky was blue and the trout could see us coming for miles. At least that's my excuse.
I didn't catch a thing, except enough snags to make a small fire.
Steve, on the other hand, had a remarkable day, hooking several unsuspecting rainbows in a place that would not let them sit down for a few days, if trout actually sat.
But that wasn't the "big" excitement of the adventure. We were drifting along watching the bluebirds when something in the water gave Steve's fly rod a massive tug. His hook-setting skills finely-honed and perfected by years of experience, Steve reared back on the rod, and whatever was on the other end resisted with all the force of a wet bag of turnips.
The fight, such as it was, took almost 90 seconds, and as the fish neared the surface we could see flashes of gold in the water.
Ever the optimist, "It's a golden trout!" Steve exclaimed.
"Close," said our guide, Bill. "Would you believe a sucker?"
"Yeah, but its a big sucker," I chimed in.
It was pretty big. I guessed at almost 24 inches, with big beautiful gold-tinged scales and a mouth all puckered and ready to be kissed.
For most of our float down the Yuba, that was the catch of the day, although Steve managed to catch another of these "Yuba golden trout," before he finally brought in a nice rainbow that was actually hooked on the lip, where one would normally expect a trout to take a fly.
It was a nice day on the water and Bill Lowe is a great guy, and a great guide and fly casting instructor. I got some good one-on-one instruction in Spey casting techniques and enjoyed the day off.
Bill guides on the American, the Yuba, Sacramento and other rivers in northern California, and has great fly-casting instruction programs. Call him at (916) 966-0999, or cheek out his website at billloweflyguide.com.
Kyle was his usual irrepressible self, and talked of his Yuba River "golden trout" catches as some of the finest he's ever made, which tells you just how loony fly-fishers get in mid-winter when most of the trout are off skiing in Aspen or vacationing in Argentina.
Local anglers who actually catch fish and eat them are finding action off the Sonoma Coast to be perfect. Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing is taking boatloads of clients out on very successful "Crab and Dab," combo trips, and coming back with full limits of fat Dungeness crab and buckets of sand dabs. Call Rick at 875-3344 to book a trip.
Sturgeon are biting at the mouth of Sonoma Creek, in the Napa River and in the Petaluma River near Port Sonoma according to Valerie at Leonard's Bait Shop. She also has gotten good reports of nice storage catches near the Pump House. They have plenty of bait including live shrimp.
Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond, confirms Valerie's report and added that the tides get much better starting today. Keith is holding his annual seminar "Sturgeon Fishing in Bay Area Waters," this Saturday, February 4 at the Marin Rod and Gun Club. Tickets are only $5 and the speakers include Keith and culinary expert Mike McNair. The event starts at 7:15 p.m. Call Keith at (415) 456-0321.
Keith's shop at Loch Lomond will the lone North Bay outlet for the Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby set for the weekend of Feb. 4 and 5. There is more than $40,000 in prize money. Entry forms and details are available at Loch Lomond Bait shop, or call Keith for more information.
Department of Fish and Game planted rainbow trout in Marin's Lake Lagunitas and Napa's Berryessa. Next week Lake Ralphine, Bon Tempe and Berryessa get planted again.
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) recently released adult coho salmon in Salmon Creek to reestablish a coho salmon population. This is the fourth consecutive year adult salmon were released. This year 200 adults were released on two separate occasions in late December 2011 and early January 2012. The released coho included 120 males and 80 females, predominantly hybrids derived from mating between coho salmon of Russian River and Olema Creek origin, with a small number of pure Russian River coho and Olema Creek coho.
As in previous years, this year’s fish were released near the mouth of Salmon Creek with the hope that the fish will migrate upstream to find suitable spawning habitat in one of Salmon Creek’s tributaries.