Meandering Angler: Sturgeon biting in bay

You don’t have to drive very far this week to catch fish.|

You don’t have to drive very far this week to catch fish. You might even hook a really big one. I heard that one guy tossed his line off McNears Beach Park pier in Marin County this week and latched onto a 10-foot-long sturgeon. A fish even half that big would be nearly impossible to land off the end of a pier, and this fish tale ended with the inevitable parting of the angler from that monster sturgeon but I imagine it was a thrilling battle for as long as it lasted. The good news is that there are lots of sturgeon biting in the bay right now according to Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael.

Keith says that the fresh water coming into the bay is the key. While the best fishing is from a boat in the northern part of San Pablo Bay in what is called the “Sturgeon Triangle,” anglers are hooking them off the shore of China Camp Park and the aforementioned McNears Park Pier.

Keith says that anglers are also catching and releasing lots of undersized striped bass and occasionally a few keepers. The other good news is that Keith has the best live bait for sturgeon at his shop, including mud shrimp. That may not sound tasty to you, but the sturgeon love mud shrimp. Call Keith at 415-456-0321 for more information and go see him to pick up some bait and tips on the best places to fish.

While the recent heavy rains have made most Northern California rivers un-fishable and kept many anglers at home watching Bass Masters on TV, my friend Steve Kyle drove to the far northwestern corner of California to find the one river in which he might be able to see a fish. Did he?

Here is Steve’s report:

“Last weekend, I decided to make the 7-hour, 600-mile drive to the classic steelhead waters of the Smith River, the last remaining dam free wild flowing river in California. Without a dam anywhere on its entire length, it's a majestic piece of ‘wild-scaped’ green water and a great place to fish on any day, but after the weeks of rain that we have endured, it was the only river fishable in the state.

“Because it doesn’t have a dam, it clears quickly of silt and sediment while its neighboring rivers to the north and south, will often remain clouded with storm runoff for days or weeks.

“It is truly a spectacular river to fish for steelhead. I couldn’t have hoped for a better two days on the water. Our guide, Drew Griffith, was superb. Our conditions were as good as you can hope for and the water quality and quantity was perfect. We fished hard for two A+ days, and not a fish did we see. Sigh.

“For thousands of years, the Smith River, along with the other famous fishing rivers that line our West Coast, have historically hosted thousands of returning salmon and steelhead every year. In my 80 years of life, I’ve watched our species wring the life go out of our waters.

“I wonder if my grandkids will ever know what a wild steelhead looks like, or better yet, feels like on the end of a fly line.”

Mark your calendars for the annual Fly-Fishing Show which runs February 24-26 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. If you are a fly-fisher, or want to become a fly fisher this is a great show for you. The highlight of the show’s opening day is the International Fly-Fishing Film Festival that night, but the daytime activities at the show are equally awesome with fly-casting classes, seminars, scores of guides and fishing resort hosts and tons of tackle from rods and reels to line, leaders and flies.

Tickets are $15 for adults, ages 6 to 12 are $5 and kids five and under are free. For more information go to

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