Good fishing not that far away

There’s almost no place you can go fishing in Sonoma Valley these days except the sloughs south of town. Even there, access is very limited. If you know someone who has a private pond and stocks it with bass or bluegill, that’s your only other choice.

But within an hour’s drive of our community, there are several places you can fish, some of which are also good spots for kids.

Trout season on many California streams and some lakes closed last Sunday, but there are still places to catch trout. You can fish from the shore of Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Park and have a good chance of finding some rainbow trout, which the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly stock there during the cool months of the year. The CDFW also plants rainbows in Marin’s Bon Tempe Lake as well.

The Napa River is about a 20-minute drive from Sonoma and offers good bank fishing for striped bass. Just turn off Highway 121 at Cutting’s Wharf Road and follow it down to the water. Sweeney’s Sports in Napa is your best source for bait and more information about where to fish. Captain Patrick MacKenzie also guides fly-fishers on the Napa River. Call Patrick at (707) 721-6700.

The next easiest place to catch fish is along the Marin Shoreline at the Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael, or at Paradise Park or China Camp. Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop says the striped bass fishing around his place is terrific right now, with guys catching keeper-sized stripers off the end of his dock. Keith has plenty of live bait and can point you in the right direction to go fishing. Call him at (415) 456-0321.

If you’re hungry for fresh-caught Dungeness crab and delicious ling and rock cod, then you can catch them yourself by driving over to Bodega Bay and taking Capt. Rick Powers’ party boat out for a day. His combo trips cost $220 per person, but you’ll come home with an ice-chest full of fresh seafood worth many times that. You’ll need reservations though, because Rick’s boat fills up fast. Call him at 875-3344.

Bill Fernandez celebrated the end of trout season by driving over the Sierras to Bridgeport, where he and a host of Bridgeport Reservoir regulars had a couple of days of incredible fishing, bringing in monster brown and rainbow trout. Bill’s tally included a 5 1/2 pound rainbow and brown trout ranging from 6 pounds to a 7.4 bruiser.

He had to endure some cold temperatures from 8 to 18 degrees, and even some snow, to catch the fish, but he was rewarded with a remarkable end-of-season adventure.

Trout season is still open on some rivers including the Sacramento and lower Yuba. Fly-fishers have several choices even as the rain starts to raise the water level in our rivers.

The closest good spot to the Valley is the Lower Yuba River east of Marysville. I recommend Capt. Hogan Brown as your guide. He’ll drift you through some great water where the salmon are laying eggs and big, hungry rainbow trout are hanging out to gobble any that float free. Hogan is a popular guide, so you need to get on his calendar way ahead of when you’d like to go. Call him at (530) 514-2453, or go to his website at

Trout fishing on the lower Sacramento River between Redding and Anderson, a three-hour drive from Sonoma, is excellent right now. You have several choices in guides for that stretch of water including Anthony Carreuesco,, Kirk Portocarrero,, and The Fly Shop in Redding,

Farther away yet, fly-fishing on the upper Sacramento near Dunsmuir is excellent now. Your best resource for fishing information in those waters is Bob Grace at the Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir, (530)235-2969.

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