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Finding fish in the fall

With the much needed rain we can expect improved steelhead fishing on Northern California rivers, up to a point. Of course, the streams can also get blown out with too much.

If you only have a day or two, and don’t want to drive more than a half-day, the lower Sacramento River between Redding and Anderson is an excellent choice for good fly-fishing action for trout and steelhead. Shasta Dam keeps the flow in check. However, it is best fished from a boat, and unless you have your own boat and really know the river, you’ll need a guide. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices. The Fly Shop in Redding (theflyshop.com) has an excellent team of guides who know the water and you are virtually guaranteed to catch fish.

I’ve also heard good things about guide Anthony Carrasco, info@acflyfishing.com. Anthony sent me a report this week on the lower Sac. Here is part of that report:

“Fall has been a whirlwind of fun on the Lower Sac for our guests and guides. Some exceptionally large fish have shown up in our nets over the past few weeks and we are looking forward to this trend to continue. Fish are still keyed into eggs behind spawning salmon and the Blue Winged Olive (Mayfly) hatches are just getting started.

“This food combination will drive our trout and steelhead fishing through December. We really enjoy the ‘lower floats’ south of Redding in November and December. The solitude on the lower floats is awesome and the chance to throw the dry fly to rising trout is good on most days. The chance at a few steelhead is a very realistic thing in November and December too. We've found some excellent steelhead in the Lower River already this fall and will expect to see more showing up in the coming weeks.”

I’ve also fished with guide Kirk Portocarrero on that stretch. He’s a nice guy and a good guide too. Check out his website at sacriverguide.com.

A full day drifting and fishing with a guide on the Sacramento River will cost about $550 for two anglers. You don’t have to be an experienced fly-caster for these drift boat-fishing trips. The guides keep you close to where the fish hold, and you more or less flip the fly out, rather than make a long cast. In most cases they can also provide the rods, reels and flies.

It takes about three hours to drive from Sonoma to Redding.

Slightly closer to Sonoma is the lower Yuba River just east of Marysville. There, the guide to call is Hogan Brown, hgbflyfishing.com. Hogan guides on the Sac, the Feather River and the Yuba River, plus several nearby lakes. He also teaches high school history and his fishing days fill up quickly. But he is a great guide and a lot of fun to fish with.

If you don’t mind a little longer drive (about five hours), consider southern Oregon where the best guide in the west, Jim Andras, will take you on a great drift down the Rogue River near Medford. Jim is another guide whose calendar fills up rapidly. Call him at (530) 722-7992.

When we fish with Jim, Dottie and I stay in Ashland, which is a very nice town, with several great restaurants and excellent entertainment, especially when the Shakespeare Festival is on.

Much closer to home, crab and rock fish combo trips out of Bodega Bay will net you plenty of tasty seafood to bring home. Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing found limits for his party boat clients on Saturday and Monday. He reports there are lots of crabs and they’re in excellent shape. Call Rick to book a trip, 875-3344. The cost is $220 for a full day’s fishing. It takes about an hour to drive to Rick’s pier.

Bay fishing for halibut and striped bass is also very good right now. Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael says he’s never seen so many halibut this late in the fall. Call Keith at (415) 456–0321.

Even closer, Capt. Patrick MacKenzie, guides fly-fishers for striped bass on the Napa River. Fall fishing there is going into high gear. Patrick is an excellent guide. Call him at (707) 721-6700.

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