Lots of weekend boat traffic and very few fish caught by anglers. For example, guide Barry Canevaro of Isleton tried trolling for stripers and salmon in the Old Sacramento River above the Isleton bridge and came away with two bass, 19 to 20 inches, and no Chinook during a nine-hour session. In the process, he counted no fewer than 80 boats but didn't count another fish on the hook.
In the middle of the week, Clyde Wands, a trolling legend, boated a 13-pound striper and a 19-incher during multiple days on the water. Both Wands and Canevaro marked "loads of stripers" on the West Bank below Rio Vista, but they couldn't troll them because of so much floating grass and weeds.
Winds have been light above Three Mile Slough but have been treacherous in Broad Slough and the wider expanses near Antioch. Some bait dunkers using shad and bullheads are finding protected water and stripers to 12 pounds inside Montezuma Slough.
Scattered stripers to 4 pounds are found on the San Joaquin River side off Venice Island, tributaries to the Mokelumne River and Mossdale. Black bass fishing is mediocre, with mainly fish to 2 pounds grabbing jigs, Senkos and plastics.
Ocean - Salmon fishing slumped this week under light seas and a lack of upwelling because of the lack of a northwest wind. Chinook, 24 inches to 28 pounds, are being caught, but not by partyboats in limit numbers. Private boats with light loads find two-fish quotas above and below Bodega Bay, if they put in time. Albacore tuna fishing broke loose about 20 miles outside Fort Bragg, then slumped Tuesday before rebounding the rest of the week. Typical four-person charters or private boats hauled in upwards of 20 tuna, 10 to 28 pounds, all on artificial lures. If live bait is available the scores will double. Rockfishing is excellent with solid numbers of lingcod to 18 pounds as a bonus, especially for Half Moon Bay, Bodega Bay and San Francisco Bay charters. Some combo trips offer halibut and striped bass action on the beaches, in addition to rockfish.
Bays - Salmon to 36 pounds continues to impress at California City and Benicia, but only at the top and the change of an incoming tide. In San Pablo Bay, when the window of opportunity isn't there for salmon, live bait drifters hook the occasional halibut to 16 pounds and striped bass to 12 pounds.
Steelhead to 4 pounds and striped bass in the lower section below Watt Avenue highlight the American River. Salmon are thick at the Afterbay Outlet Hole on the Feather River, but the area is off limits to angling within 1,000 feet. Elsewhere, trollers and boats on the anchor use Silvertron Spinners or Kwikfish with a sardine wrap for sporadic success, according to Bob Boucke at Johnson's Bait in Yuba City. The best salmon fishing is found at Ward's Landing near Colusa and Hamilton City near Chico, where guides such as Stockton's Dave Mierkey are taking limits of salmon on a daily basis, either with Kwikfish or boon-doggling roe. The run is building on the Klamath with most fish weighing less than 10 pounds below South Blue Creek. The Yurok tribe is commercial fishing only three days a week this year so escapement will be much greater on the Klamath this year. Springer season is winding down and fall-run Chinook is building near Douglas City on the Trinity River, where side-drifting roe or tuna balls is the ticket. At Balls Ferry near Anderson, the main stem of the Sacramento River yields mostly salmon 9 to 12 pounds, with a few larger adults to 30 pounds in the take, mainly on Kwikfish or roe, according to guide Uncle Bill Quinn of Shingletown.
The top producing trout impoundments for trollers are Camanche at 15 to 25 feet deep and Don Pedro, down 40 to 60 feet. Most any shad-imitation - Ex-Cel, Needlefish, R Lure, Mepps Cyclops, and the like - will do the trick. The lure should be liberally applied with sardine or shad about every 10 minutes. Rainbows are large, 16 to 20 inches, up to 4 pounds. At New Melones, trout respond best at night, attracted to submerged lights. At Tulloch Lake, the hot spot is the logjam, where bait dunkers toss offerings that float. A Kokanee Power fundraiser on Sept. 24-25 - the Mother Lode Shootout - offers $50,000 in cash and prizes, plus a free Saturday banquet, slot tournament and Sunday weigh-in. The team tournament costs $300 and will pay $5,000 for first place down to $500 for 25th place. The daily limit is three fish and includes a mix of kokanee, king salmon and trout hooked in Tulloch, Pardee, New Melones, Don Pedro or Camanche lakes. The heaviest six fish wins. There's also a $25,000 tagged fish. The event, billed as California's largest trout and salmon derby, is co-sponsored by Jackson Rancheria, Fish Sniffer Magazine and Kokanee Power.
Drive-to lakes and streams are in perfect summer condition, at last, and liberally stocked with trout. In fact, extra heavy plants are in the offing because waters were inaccessible early in the season. Good prospects are found at Mosquito, Alpine, Spicer, Caples, Silver, Pinecrest and Blue lakes, which should be very popular destinations for the long Labor Day weekend. The forks of the Stanislaus River, especially the North Fork on Forest Road 701N and Clarks Fork off Highway 108, are prime. So is the West Walker River between the towns of Walker and Coleville on the eastern slope and forks of the Carson River, which are supplemented by Alpine County trout in the 5- to 10-pound bracket.