Now is the time to replace — and properly dispose of — your fishing line

Fishing report: Sturgeon can be found in the Sacramento River
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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For as long as there’s been fishing line, it has been discarded along the waterways.

Before the invention of monofilament lines, anglers used cotton-type line. It didn’t perform anywhere near as well as today’s line. It was bulky and didn’t disappear in the water, but it worked. When it was discarded, it deteriorated and rotted into nothingness in a fairly short period of time.

Today’s fishing lines don’t deteriorate as quickly. Leftover line has been found in the gullet of shorebirds and entangled in a variety of wildlife. The stuff has a long-term, negative effect on the environment, so dispose of your line responsibly.

Today’s monofilament lines will last much longer than your fishing trip. In fact, monofilament lines will outlast many generations. Try 600 years! And if you use the newer, braided superlines, they last even longer.

There are many factors that determine the life of fishing line. No, it doesn’t depend on the weight. Six-pound test line will deteriorate at the same rate as will 60-pound test.

Some of the same sun rays that will cause you to blister and burn will essentially have the same effect on your fishing line. There are factors in the air that will have the same effect as direct sunlight.

Those of us who fish a lot know we need to change our lines often. Just sitting in your garage can cause line to deteriorate, and when you add stress on the line of a fish furiously playing tug of war with you or stretching of the line from being snagged, the line becomes weaker and weaker.

And we know just about the time we hook the monster of a lifetime and feel and see the line break, we procrastinated just a little too long on changing the line.

Know, too, you don’t need to strip every bit of the line. Most reels easily have 200 yards of line on the spool. How much of that line do you really use? Even a good-sized fish making a run isn’t going to spool off that much line.

Strip off maybe 100 yards. As you strip the old line, watch how it coils with memory. That’s one reason you might be having casting problems, not getting the distance you like. The new line you put onto the reel won’t have that memory issue, at least right away, and you’ll make much better casts.

To join the old line with the new, learn how to tie a blood knot. When tied properly, it’s extremely strong and works well with dissimilar line materials and weights.

Now is the time to spool new line onto your reels, before fishing busts loose everywhere.


Current fishing


It’s about time. With rain, snow and unstable conditions forecast this week, fishing conditions will be affected. Go fishing in the rain. By then, the barometer has stabilized and fish often bite like crazy during storms.

Port of Sacramento: Getting to the upper basin region to fish from shore is difficult. There are numerous access points to the Deep Water Channel off Jefferson Boulevard. Those who find shore access can drift a jumbo minnow under a bobber or use cut bait. Stripers are following baitfish — threadfin shad. They might be in the turning basin one day and roaming various parts of the channel a couple hours later. You can never predict where they might be. Those fishing the port and upper channel region near the port have been doing well, but that means you need to find a way to get a boat on the water. Jigs, trolling, cast-retrieving a shad imitation lure and drifting jumbo minnows all work.

Sturgeon: You don’t have to travel to the Bay Area to give sturgeon a try. There’s a good population of these big fish in the Sacramento River this time of year, and there are numerous access points to get you on shore or anchor the boat. Merritt Island, just below Clarksburg, Freeport, Hood-Franklin and waters up to Verona have shown success. Launch at Verona and there is fishable water from there to Knights Landing.  Any sturgeon bait is attracting bites: pile worms, all the various shrimp, and eel.

Remember to have a sturgeon report card in your possession, and remember the new rules. Two-hook rigs are no longer legal. Only single, barbless hooks are allowed.

If you have your mind set on going to the Bay Area, San Pablo Bay has been showing good rod-bending action on sturgeon. Launch at Loch Lomond, go around the point, and you’re in sturgeon water. The flats of the Pumphouse are always good for dropping anchor. I prefer the shallow water between Rat Rock and McNear Pier off China Camp, but it’s all good. Expect to release some shakers in order to get a keeper.

Union Valley Reservoir: The road to the lake is open, and the lake level is great. Launching is no problem, but to get to the mackinaw, you’ll need to have your downriggers mounted. Haul the gear at least 40 feet down. If you don’t get bit there, go down another 10 feet. The macks are deep. The majority of lake trout being hooked are running from three to eight pounds, but there’s a lunker to be had as well. One angler nailed a 22-pounder.

Caples Lake: If you have your heart set on ice fishing, this is one lake where the ice is definitely thick enough and safe. There’s a good 24 inches to bore through. Kick back with Power Bait, a crawler or bay shrimp a couple of cranks off the bottom and you’re going to nail a limit of trout, mostly rainbows and an occasional brown trout cruising by.

Contact George deVilbiss at