For a couple of years now, there has been no offshore salmon fishery for any recreational, sport anglers or for the state’s numerous commercial fishermen. In fact, there has been essentially no salmon fishing in the Sacramento River drainage for a couple of years now.
It’s not the California Department of Fish and Game, but the Pacific Fisheries Management Council instituting this mandate, and whatever directives the PFMC make, the CDFG simply follows.
Right now, both the CDFG and the PFMC are holding hearings regarding any possible return of the salmon fishery. The early news, however, is that it simply does not look good.
Data provided to the PFMC by the CDFG, and released by the PFMC on the 2009 salmon runs shows a continuing decline in the return of adult Chinook salmon.
Fewer than 40,000 adults returned to the Sacramento River, which is the lowest number of salmon since counting began in the 1970s. Once the fish hit the Sacramento River, they eventually divide to go to their birthplaces at the American River, Feather River or upper Sacramento River hatcheries.
The PFMC has set a benchmark of 122,000 to 180,000 fish as a standard for a healthy salmon population. Anything less than that, the fish are considered over-fished.
Because salmon numbers still continue to appear to be on the decline, and no specific reason has yet or can be pinpointed, don’t be too hopeful for an ocean salmon fishery again in 2010 and again, there will be essentially no salmon fishing in local rivers.
For those who really want some salmon and are willing to travel, there actually is a salmon fishery in California. North coast rivers such as the Smith and the Klamath provide some salmon fishing. Oregon also has a pretty much unlimited salmon fishery, though offshore fishing is non-existent.
Lake Pardee: Weather has vastly improved and so has visitor attendance – and catching. Those not taking a boat are doing well around the launch ramp, behind the boathouse, and at Blue Herron Point. Bait and lures all work. Trollers are getting their share, with some trollers heading way up the river system as far as Columbia Gulch to find browns to four pounds and some big, holdover rainbows.
Lake Camanche: Fair weather and calm weather, anglers are heading out in bigger numbers and everybody is seeing good action at both the South Shore Pond and all over the main lake. Get a limit of rainbows ranging from two to seven pounds, you’ve got a bunch for a fish fry. Early, stay shallow but as it gets later in the morning, you’ll need to drop down. Watch your scope carefully and drag your lure or threaded crawler just over the top of what you’re scoping.
Bass are slowly getting into pre-spawn mode and bass are getting hammered all around the lake. Most are being found down 20 feet and there are bunches of three and four-pounders being seen. Lizards, Brush hogs, and plastic worms are all accounting for bass.
Lake Amador: They continue to plant big numbers of their homegrown Cutt-Bows. While there are big numbers of two-pounders, there are also quite a few bragging-sized lunkers each week. When you can put six and seven-pounders on the stringer, you’ve got big trout. Power Bait, Power Worms, lures and mini-jigs are all accounting for trout. A short walk to the spillway region will get you into a bite.
Camp Far West: North Shore is open; south shore isn’t, and launching is no problem. The lake is up and still rising but the inflows have seriously stained the water. Drop-shot and you can still get into a pretty decent bass bite.
Scotts Flat Reservoir: Before trout plants were halted, it was a popular trout fishing lake. Good news is that the DFG just recently planted nearly 2,000 pounds of trout and the catching opportunities just skyrocketed. Bass fishing is also picking up with the better weather.
Englebright Reservoir: Most of this lake is like a river instead of a lake, but it’s mostly full. Limits are the rule instead of the exception, though the trout tend to be on the smallish side, maybe around 10 inches. Haul a crawler behind a flasher from Buck’s Beach to the inlet.
Collins Lake: The lake is only about two-thirds full, but once the snows begin melting and coming down the river, it should easily fill. Lake’s management has a very aggressive spring planting of trout and this year is no different. A bunch of two to five-pound trout were loaded into the water and both trollers and bank slingers are all hauling them in. Shore angling will be best at the lower end, around the camping beach to the dam.
Rancho Seco Lake: Want to take the kids fishing, someplace that’s very safe? Then go to Rancho Seco Lake. The DFG regularly plants the lake and the fishing remains pretty constant. Boats are allowed, but motors are not. Kayaks, canoes and float tubes are popular if you don’t want to fish strictly from shore. Just about any trout attractor, bait or lure, will get bit.
Folsom Lake: There’s good action on both rainbows and king salmon and they’re being found anywhere from literally top lining to 30-feet down. The deeper water in the area of the dam, Dike 8 and the old river channel from the dam to Brown’s will produce well. Bass fishing is definitely on the upswing with the upswing in the weather. They’re moving into the more shallow waters, sometimes now less than 10 feet deep. The water’s cold, so you still need to work them slow, but they’ll grab a soft plastic that’s being dragged by them.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.