Warm water ‘hoot owl’ limits asked
The hot weather and low water in our state has prompted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to ask anglers to fish early and knock off by noon. It’s part of the so-called “Hoot Owl” recommendations that are brought on when drought causes elevated water temperatures and lower oxygen levels that put stress on the fish.
In general, it means that anglers should voluntarily avoid fishing after 12 p.m. on waters most affected by the drought and heat. The CDFW recently published a list of waters included in their current Hoot Owl warnings. Most are in the southern part of the state, but two are nearby – the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to the Nevada Stateline, and the Upper Truckee River from the lake to the river headwaters and tributaries.
There are other streams in the north part of the state that might also be added soon. Other guidelines to save fish from stress include limiting your time fighting and handling them.
All that said, there are lots of places where the water is deep and cold enough for anglers to find relatively normal conditions.
* The Sacramento River king salmon fishing season opened Aug. 1, which means you have a choice: Fish in the ocean off the Golden Gate or the Sonoma Coast, or drive a little way north to fish for king salmon in the Sac. The air temperatures may be pretty hot, but the waters are cold enough to keep the fish healthy and hungry.
A report in Western Outdoor News last week indicated the Sacramento River opener was pretty good, particularly at the Barge Hole, a very wide section of the river just south of Redding where Battle Creek comes in.
With all the salmon coming up the river to spawn, trout fishing appears to have really picked up as well. Trout love fresh salmon eggs.
Sacramento River guide Kirk Portocarrero has been splitting his time between guiding anglers for kings and trout. This week he was particularly excited about the trout action. “The fishing is awesome…we are catching 15 to 30 daily, with some of the fish in the 22-inch range, and a 28-inch brown trout.” Visit his website at sacriverguide.com
The peak of the Sac River famous “egg bite” comes later in the fall, but there already seems to be a lot of big trout biting practically in the middle of the salmon run. Anthony Carruesco, owner of AC Flyfishing also reports excellent trout fishing on the Sac right now. You can contact him at acflyfishing.com.
* Mark Saturday, Sept. 4 on your calendar. It’s the final free fishing day of the year in California this year, meaning you can go fishing without a license. All other regulations apply, including gear restrictions and catch and size limits. If you use your free day to fish for steelhead, sturgeon or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River systems, you’ll also need at “report card.” You can find that information at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing.