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Dreadful Sacramento River salmon opener

By Gary Heffley
07/20/15 -- The results for the opening weekend for fall-run king salmon on the Sacramento River between Red Bluff and Knights Landing are in and many are tallying it up as the worst in memory. Kirk Portocarrero of Sacramento River Guide Service supplied me with some sobering comments when I asked him if the opener was slow. “Dead, no fish, concerns for the season, worst opener in my 26 years on the river,” all phrases that would cause a raised eyebrow, especially coming from a very experienced and respected angler like Kirk.

Kirk had six boats out for the opener and his guides landed zero salmon and these guys are known as some of the best on the river. In fact he knew of only 4 salmon taken of 106 boats reporting on the Sacramento. A few more salmon were taken on the Feather River but suspicions are that the salmon taken were actually springers and not fall run salmon, as most all were caught at the Outlet at Thermalito. When a guide of Kirk’s experience jokingly touts his squawfish count…12 if anyone is keeping score, things are bad.

Usually right about here we showcase a photo highlighting recent results. With no fish to photograph we hope you enjoy the blank space! At least we're not exaggerating!

The bottom line is that the river is too warm. The lack of cold snowmelt from the non-existing snow pack, limited lake releases and low river flows which allow the river water to warm quickly are factors and cause for concern. Salmon become stressed in warm water and will not be drawn upstream to their spawning grounds and cooler water. Salmon normally pause in deep holes which normally provide cooler water and a chance to rest for a period while migrating upstream. Luckily the cold water will be found in the Redding area due to the controlled cold water releases from Lake Shasta. Kirk wondered out loud if the water coming out of Battle Creek and the Coleman National Fish Hatchery would be cold enough to draw the salmon to divert up the tributary. Note that in past years the Klamath River drainage has seen die-offs of migrating salmon due to warm water stress.

In fact until catching vastly improves Kirk is concentrating his efforts on fishing for trout on Shasta Lake where he is catching limits of trout with many in the 20 to 24 inch range. He is targeting the trout at around 80 feet, so downriggers and good electronics are a must. He is recommending that anglers bent on catching salmon try heading up to Gold Beach Oregon where fishing is semi-fair.

Hopefully the weather models are correct and this fall and early winter will find the North State dealing with a series of El Niño powered storms. The lakes, rivers and salmon would greatly benefit from a good soaking and run off. Time will tell. But until then one of the best things about fishing in the North State is that if one fishery is slow there are options nearby like lake bass and trout fishing or trout fishing on the Lower Sacramento River in the Redding and Anderson area.

Fishing Reports

A Hot Summer’s Day on Chico Creek
A Hot Summer's Day on Chico Creek, Steven T. Callan
On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
07/25/16 -- I’ve been exploring Northern California’s streams -- above and below the surface -- for most of my life. One of my most memorable adventures took place on a hot summer’s day in 1964, not long after my sixteenth...Full Story
Brownie’s Choice
Art work by Isabella Langaman
By Don Webster
Disregard the story’s title. I don’t really have a “first” name. If I did, it would probably be something like Leviathan or Behemoth or maybe Lunker. Officially, I’m a trout. A brown trout. A giant, brown trout. Possibly the biggest, fattest...Full Story
Keddie Ridge
Scouting Deerheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
11/14/15 -- Adjacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks... Full Story
Let’s check out the Upper Sac
Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta standing sentinel. photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
How to make Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel By Frank Galusha
05/04/15 -- OK, you went ocean fishing. If your fish is fresh or if you have processed, vacuum packed and frozen your catch properly, there are many ways to enhance your meals. Almost everything taken from the ocean is not... Full Story
Climbing Terms for the Fisherman
Trailhead Tales by Jim Broshears
10/14/14 -- For those of us who prefer to fish the rugged and remote streams and rivers for the elusive wild trout, rock climbing is a skill that is required to reach the special places where catching the big one is a “sure thing.” The skills...Full Story
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
german brown trout in Modoc creek. MyOutdoorBuddy.com
By Lea Huetteman
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
Indian Paintbrush is a favorite wildflower that carpets wilderness landscapes. Phil Flip Akers, myoutdoorbuddy.com
Article and photos by Phil Akers
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California
03/06/04 -- Humboldt Bay, a busy commercial harbor and home port to many charter and private offshore fishing boats, is also popular with shore-based anglers and small boaters seeking bottomfish, sharks, crabs and clams...Full Story
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
green sturgeon
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
California Golden Trout, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Not Just Any Fish, Phil
By Phil "Flip" Akers
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story

 

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