Meandering Angler: Fishing in a blizzard

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If there were a real Darwin Award, the jury would probably just shrug whenever anyone suggested that winter steelhead fishermen should be candidates.

Of course it’s crazy to drive into California’s northernmost range of mountains during a blizzard just to go fishing. Of course it’s insane to then venture forth into the storm and wade into an icy-cold river, waving a skinny piece of graphite against the wind, sleet and snow.

So when my fishing buddy, Steve Kyle, sent me an email last weekend that he and Steve Starke were driving up I-5 near Mt. Shasta in a snowstorm headed toward the Klamath River where they planned to do some fishing, I just poured myself another cup of hot soup and thanked my lucky stars that whatever spell Darwin put on the two Steves had passed over me.

The following is a summary of Kyle’s emails from somewhere close to the California- Oregon border:

“Just went by Mt. Shasta where it’s snowing and 30 degrees with winds gusting to 20 plus… Perfect setting for winter fishing…Stopped at the Klamath River/I-5 bridge and fished for a couple of hours. Hooked and lost one and got a good pull from another. Starke hooked some small fish. Only problem for me was that I ended up wading some distance from where I put it in and when I was ready to get out, found that I couldn’t. Blackberry bushes cover very steep banks and with new waders, I knew that they would be worthless by the time I bushwhacked my butt out of there… Had to wade about a half mile downstream before I found what looked like a goat trail. Like a dead walrus, I crawled out… Life is good.”

Although I don’t doubt the general accuracy of Kyle’s account, I do wonder how a dead walrus crawls. I’m assuming that the “life is good” comment came sometime after he spent an hour or so in a hot shower.

It should be noted that sometime during that trek, I-5 was closed for many hours because the storm was so heavy.

By contrast, my friends and neighbors Joe and Beth Aaron had thoughts of fishing the Big Wood River in Sun Valley, but wisely chose to forego those plans when the air temperature fell below 20 degrees.

Until the most recent atmospheric river started dumping rain and snow all over California, guide Hogan Brown, who works out of Chico, reported okay fishing for spotted bass on Lake Oroville and possibly good trout fishing on the lower Yuba River near Marysville. He has open dates in December, January and February. Go to his website, at, for more details.

Closer to home, those brave enough to venture forth between rain squalls are likely to find good sturgeon fishing in the northern part of San Francisco Bay. It may be too rough for boats, but shore anglers can probably find large fish fishing from the Marin shoreline in Paradise Park. Call Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond bait shop for the best places to go at (415) 456-0321.

Dungeness crab can still be caught by sports anglers in between the storms. Call Capt. Rick Powers at Bodega Bay Sportsfishing at 875-3344 to see if and when he’s taking his party boat out.

If you’re looking for Christmas gift for your favorite angler, a 2020 California Fishing License is a good one. Brocco’s Old Barn on Arnold Drive sells them. Or you can buy them at at

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