Waterfowl are here, but where's the foul weather?

By: George deVilbiss
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With the storms that have gone through states such as Oregon and Washington lately, ducks and geese are moving in big numbers into California regions, where most will take up residency for the winter. While the number of days hunters may pursue waterfowl may be somewhat plentiful, any hunter will quickly attest that many of those are far from prime hunting days. Sure, there may be birds in the region, but it takes some downright nasty weather to have a great shooting day. While I’ve done my share of waterfowl hunting, it’s always been my position that those who pursue waterfowl have a screw or two loose. Who else gets totally excited about getting up in the middle of the night and grins broadly when the wind is blowing 30 miles an hour while sheets of rain are pounding? That weather kind of weather may be the most prime waterfowl hunting weather and while it may be on the horizon at some point in time, unfortunately it hasn’t been yet seen. Until then, waterfowlers have little to grin about. Sure, some birds have been bagged since the season first opened, but nothing like it can and should be – and hopefully will be soon. The birds are here. Now, if only Mother Nature will cooperate. CURRENT FISHING Sacramento River: Local salmon fishing is open and the catching is actually pretty decent. The only stretch of water open to fishing is from Knight’s Landing upriver to Red Bluff, and where there are launching facilities along the river, there’s a lot of boat traffic. Boats can be seen anchored side-by-side from one side of the river to the opposite shore making it difficult for another boat to even navigate between them to find a spot to anchor. But, the winter run salmon are moving in and through. The winter run salmon don’t spend a lot of time resting in the river. They make the run pretty much non-stop so if you’re in the right spot when they come through, then chances are good you’ll get a take-down. How do you fish for them? Use a spreader. Off the short end of the spreader, place enough weight to hold you on the bottom. Off the longer arm, use a leader that will go to your lure and there are a number of lures that will work for salmon. A K5 Kwikfish or an F2 Flatfish are both longtime favorites, but there are also a number of spinners that have proved themselves over the years. If you use a Kwikfish or a Flatfish, have a couple pounds of sardines along. Fillet the sardine and wrap a good chunk of it onto the underside of the lure. It does work and does make a difference. The salmon being currently caught are running up to the mid 20s and because they move so quickly throughout the river system, are totally firm and chrome bright. The season will continue through Dec. 31 with a daily limit of one fish. American River: The river remains closed to fishing from the Hazel Avenue Bridge downriver to the power lines at Goethe Park, but an occasional steelhead is being caught in the open waters. You can beat a lot of water trying for a hook up though. Take the kids to the Nimbus Hatchery. The ladders have been opened and they can get a thrill watching salmon come up the ladders. San Pablo Bay: There are sturgeon roaming the waters of the bay. But the water is still salty, which means the unwanted critters are still around too, such as crab, kingfish and rays. And they love sturgeon food. It will take much more rain than we’ve had to date in order to get the rivers to rise to flush the salinity from the bays. But, pick up a bunch of bait, wade through the unwanted critters, and you can still tally a keeper sturgeon. Suisun Bay: Easy launching at Martinez and it’s only a short run to the Mothball Fleet, mouth of Montezuma Sloughs and other points in the bay. Plenty of limits of stripers being tallied for those soaking bullheads. An occasional sturgeon is being caught but the catching is so good on stripers that few are currently targeting the diamondback. New Melones: Excellent wintertime trout fishing is legendary at this lake and the bite is steadily improving. Some of the best action is from those on shore so you don’t need to haul the boat there to get good action. Power Bait, Power Eggs and a combo of a crawler and a marshmallow will all work well. Just be sure to put it all off a sliding sinker rig. Rollins Lake: The lake is still 90 percent of capacity, much more than most other lakes in the north state. Trout fishing isn’t red hot but it is improving. The lake is supposed to be again planted by the DFG which will improve the catching ratio. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass are on the prowl and biting. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.