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Barge Hole opener productive..for some

Gary Heffley author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com

By Gary Heffley
08/05/15 -- The always anticipated opener of Salmon on the Sacramento River between the Deschutes Bridge in Anderson through the Red Bluff area occurred this last Saturday. And true to form, boats were stacked in the most popular fishing hole in this stretch of river, the Barge Hole. The Barge Hole is one of the deepest holes in the region, the mouth of Battle Creek, and serves as holding area for salmon either continuing upstream or moving into Battle Creek where many began life at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. In fact many boats were anchored in place in the dark, waiting for first light and legal fishing to begin.

Bumpers were hanging over the sides of most boats as this was combat fishing at its best. Jockeying for position to fight a fish let alone landing one, was problematic for many. Guides and boaters worked hard to keep boats from banging, fish from tangling and anglers at the proper depth and position to catch fish. Many anglers reported the oft repeated Barge Hole lament, “you can walk across the river with all boats that are lined up.”

Despite the gloom and doom many held from the previous opener’s dismal results earlier last month the Barge Hole was found flush with fresh salmon. Many boaters and guides did well but a big key to success was not only the guide’s and private boat handler’s skill and experience but that of the anglers in the boat themselves. Anglers with the ability to control the rod, identify the bite and fight the fish effectively were far more successful than those who struggled with the needed skill set.

Unfortunately opening day at the Barge Hole is unforgiving and not a place for an introduction to river salmon fishing. As a result seasoned salmon anglers and boats often produced limits with many chrome fish in the 14 to 20 pound range while others struggled. But again that is fishing.

Another popular area just downstream of the Barge Hole and favored by wading anglers as one of the few bank access areas to fish for salmon on the river in the region was also lined with anxious anglers. The Gravel Bar and its’ own brand of combat fishing was pretty much a bust as only a couple of salmon were landed. With the exception of the fish holding at the Barge Hole most salmon caught were speculated to be intercepted and not holding fish. The surface temperature is much warmer than normal causing the salmon to be pushing to find the colder waters in the deepest pools or continuing upstream and colder water. The effects of warm water conditions are already having dire results on the Klamath and Trinity rivers where Ick, a fatal warm water related condition is already being found in some salmon.

There is a bit of good news amidst the negative, that being the spawning urge is strong and salmon will make their way upstream. In fact with the full moon of this last weekend a fresh surge of salmon were reported moving through the bay and heading upstream. Those salmon may actually begin showing up in the area as early as tomorrow.

<>Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over seven years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.


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