Salmon river run small again this year

By: George deVilbiss, Special to Gold Country News Service
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Despite hopes of a return to normal salmon quantities, counts at the Nimbus hatchery and all hatcheries that feed salmon to the Sacramento River, are dismally low.

It is feared that the big numbers may never happen again.

The good news is that while the salmon counts this year were even smaller than last year’s, the female’s return to the hatchery are heavier, with more useable eggs than in previous years. What this means is that the hatchery will still be able to meet their quota of egg take.

And, by taking enough eggs, they can artificially spawn their quota of little baby salmon that will eventually be happily swimming in offshore ocean waters.

Every year, all of the hatcheries off the Sacramento River drainage – Nimbus on the American River, the Feather River Hatchery on the Feather River, and the Coleman Hatchery at the upper Sacramento River at Battle Creek – all produce their quota of salmon eggs. So, where do all these salmon go if they don’t return to their place of birth?

That is the question all scientists are trying to answer. While many theories abound, many of which sound valid, nobody really knows for sure.

For the last two years, there has not been an offshore salmon fishery for either commercial or recreational anglers? Will there be a fishery in 2010? That question won’t be definitively answered until probably March.

If I were to make a guess right now, because of the reduced counts at the hatcheries, I’d say no.



For eight weekends, Joice Island will host pig hunting on its 2,150 acres. It will be some downright tough hunting, however.

First of all, it’s going to be close-range shooting. Because of the flat ground of the area, only archery or shotguns with slugs are allowed.

Secondly, it’s a wetland area that consists of thick cattails, tules along with some brush and standing water.

But, hey, you can use dogs to root out the pigs. It’s the type of hunting that the pigs won’t come to you. It means be in shape.

Only three hunters will be drawn for each of the eight weekends. The first weekend hunt, March 6-7, will be reserved for only junior hunters, those ages 12-16.

To apply for a permit, send a standard postcard that includes the hunter's name, hunting license number, address, telephone number and preferred hunt date. Each hunter may apply once and for only one date.

Two hunters may apply on one postcard application but the card must contain all information for both hunters. Missing any information and the application will be discarded.

There is no fee to apply and only successful applicants will be mailed a permit along with a map of the area. Hunt dates will be March 6-7, March 13-14, March 20-21, March 27-28, April 3-4, April 10-11, April 17-18, and April 224-25.

Mail your application to: Joice Island Pig Hunt, 2548 Grizzly Island Road, Suisun, CA 94585.



American River: Steelheading is far from great. There are fish in the river but it’s going to be a big waiting game to get bit. While many have hung up their gear in disappointment, there’s still a lot of time for fresh fish to move in.

Folsom Lake: The lake is receiving regular plants of trout. You can troll or you can simply bottom fish from shore at Granite Bay or Brown’s Ravine and do well, just waiting for the school to cruise by. Eggs and Power Bait off a sliding sinker should get you bit. Look for drop-offs where fish will move back and forth to feed, and look for schools of bait where bass, if not actively feeding, keep the school close by and in their sights. Jigging and working a darthead in water up to 30 feet deep has been working, but it’s still going to take putting in quite a bit of time.

Lake Amador: With 3,000 pounds of trout being planted weekly of their homegrown rainbow-cutthroat hybrid, fishing should be red hot. Truth is, some anglers limit and some anglers just don’t seem to get bit. If you’re in the latter group, don’t just sit there playing the waiting game and finally give up with an empty stringer. Keep varying your tactics until you also get bit. Use different lures. Use different baits. Work various depths. Keep at it and you too will find your stringer loaded with big trout.

Boca Lake: The lake is way down. The road to the dam, however, is kept plowed and open, and from where you can park, it’s really a short walk down the snow-covered bank and out onto the ice. It’s always been one of my favorite ice fishing lakes and where I’ve always done well. Auger a hole and drop eggs or Power Bait to the bottom and bring it up a crank or two. Fishing has been quite good for ‘bows to 14 inches.


If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.