Of flies, fish and fire on the rivers

Veteran television newswoman Sydnie Kohara, now a Sonoma Valley resident, sent me a brief fishing report last week from the North Platte River west of Casper, Wyoming. “It was hopper season – lots of topwater action on some beautiful stretches of the river,” Sydnie said. She stayed at the North Platte Lodge, praising not only the accommodations and the food but also the quality of the fishing guides. She said they “knew all the nooks and crannies where the big ones live.”

Hoppers, for those who don’t speak fly-fishing, is short for grasshoppers, a favorite food of trout in most locales. Well-tied imitations placed close to the bank bring big hungry trout to the surface for breathtaking strikes. It is a fun way to catch fish.

I checked out the North Platte Lodge website. It looks like a nice place. It offers exclusive private fishing access to 17 miles of the river. For more information go to

Sydnie also fished with Patrick MacKenzie on the Napa River tributaries in the middle of last month and caught some nice striped bass. “Patrick says the bite is getting better and better. Not so much wind in the morning. He has availability in October and November. I’m definitely going again…can’t believe how convenient it is out of Cuttings Wharf - fish the morning and be back in Sonoma in time for lunch,” she said.

Patrick lives in Sonoma. You can get more information about his guiding services and contact information at

Guide Kirk Portocarrero reported excellent fishing on the Sacramento River for king salmon over Labor Day weekend. The salmon are running really big. Call Kirk at 800-670-4448 to book a trip, or go to his website,

* Smoke from big fires, the drought and hot weather have made many of my usual September streams inconsistent at best, and in some cases unfishable, right now. The lower Sacramento River between Redding and Red Bluff is excellent now for rainbow trout, but some days there is a lot of smoke in the air and it is very hot.

The upper Sacramento River near Dunsmuir is low and you should probably only fish it during the cool mornings. Air fouled by smoke is a probable on many days. Not too far east of the upper Sac, Fall River and Hat Creek are fishing pretty good. However, smoke and heat have made fishing uncomfortable on many days.

Lower down on the Sac near Chico there are plenty of large striped bass that are more tolerant of warm water. The best guide for that part of the river is Capt. Hogan Brown, who is a great fly-fishing guide for stripers and trout. Hogan is also very popular and you need to book early to find an available date. For more information go to

The easiest way to escape the heat this week has been to head for the coast, where the weather is 20 degrees cooler and nearly perfect for fishing. Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing reports flat-calm water off our Sonoma Coast plus red-hot ling cod and rock cod action along with some of the biggest king salmon he’s seen in his entire career as a party boat captain.

One day last week with just 10 anglers on board, his clients hooked 35 salmon, landed 18 up to 29 pounds plus limits of ling cod and rock cod. Rick said that the current ling cod bite is off the charts. Call Rick at 875-3344 to book a trip.

Inside the bay is also cool and comfortable. Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop says the weather has been flat-calm and the striped bass and halibut fishing has steadily improved. Some salmon are also been caught off Tiburon near Cal City.

If you don’t have a boat or don’t want to go out on a bay party boat, you can catch fish from shore at McNear Park, China Camp and off the levee at Loch Lomond. Call Keith for the latest information, or to get help booking a party boat, (415) 456-0321. Keith also has lots of good live bait.

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