Steve Kyle and I met fishing guide Hogan Brown last Sunday morning at a boat ramp on the Sacramento River a little south and west of Chico. The weed-choked channel and overgrown, tree-shrouded banks looked more like Louisiana than Northern California.
A few hundred yards down the bayou, several rusty old boats with antique outboard motors were bobbing next to a floating dock that looked vintage 1930s.
Up on the bank was what I thought to be an old barn and chicken coop until I saw patio umbrellas and realized that it was a restaurant – Scotty’s Landing – apparently a favorite hangout for locals and river regulars seeking a cold beer and hot fries. Hogan said it was an excellent place to spot pretty young women in bikinis.
Of course, Steve and I were more interested in fishing, so we declined to stop at Scotty’s.
Other scenes along the bank brought memories of the movie, “Deliverance.”
Once we entered the main channel of the Sacramento, we encountered a dense flotilla of small boats with anglers fishing for king salmon.
After slowly putt-putting our way through the boats, Hogan stepped on the gas and we motored downstream several miles to waters he considered better for the fish we were hunting – striped bass.
Most of us think that striped bass are saltwater fish. They are, but they also thrive in freshwater far upstream in rivers such as the Sacramento.
Hogan had rigged some hearty 9-wt. fly rods with sinking lines and large, heavy, big-eyed streamer flies that looked like those Steve and I use in Baja to catch dorado.
Throwing those flies took effort and good timing.
The weight of the fly caused it to drop down below the loop of the line during the back cast so the fly zoomed by at head, shoulder and sometimes butt level on the forward cast. An inadvertent turn of the wrist and it could whack you in the head, shoulder blades or where the sun doesn’t shine.
I wasn’t keeping score, but Steve and I managed to hit most of those spots during our day’s fishing. We each also got Hogan several times.
The fishing was interesting, the catching infrequent. We both landed a few small bass, but Steve also caught two bruisers, one close to 15 pounds. I was not as lucky.
As the day worn on, it got hotter (near 100 degrees), and my arm grew weary from casting. By 3 p.m., both of us decided that we had enough.
Our return past Scotty’s was more interesting than in the morning because there were actually lots of pretty girls in bikinis, some floating along the narrow channel in inner tubes. They waved. My arm was so tired from casting I couldn’t even manage a wave back.
Hogan, who is also a high school history teacher and baseball coach, is an excellent guide and knows the Sac, Feather and Yuba rivers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also checkout his blog, http://hgbflyfishing.blogspot.com.
Matt Sevenau and son, Satchel, had a good float with guide Mike Hibbard on the Lower Sacramento River many miles upstream from Steve and me.
According to Satchel (their mathematician), they hooked 44 trout and brought 27 to the net. Most were 14-to-18 inches with a few even bigger, including Satchel’s 20-inch beauty.
Nick Weeks caught some big trout last weekend in the West Carson River.
Closer to home, salmon fishing off the Sonoma coast was hot on Tuesday when Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, was mooching with a light load of 10 anglers. They hooked 25 fish and landed 16 up to 30 pounds.
Fishing in San Francisco Bay continues to be hit and miss primarily due to high winds. When it is calm, angler are finding striped bass and halibut in enough numbers to keep things interesting.