Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)
The U.S. Fish Commission carried Striper fry to the West Coast beginning in 1879, and the rest was history. The Striped Bass, also know as “Stripers”, have survived and adapted well through good and bad times over the past 110 years. With the fish spending most of their time in the San Francisco Bay and Delta regions, every year they invade the Sacramento River and it’s tributaries to spawn. Depending on the year, the main push of fish is during the first few weeks in April. During this time, what I like to call the finest fishing the west coast has to offer, there are multiple ways to catch these fish. From the fly fisherman, to the live bait guy,
The seasons are from mid- March through May and begin again in mid-August through September. The summer run pushes through in mid- August. This time of the year, there are not many anglers on the water. The fish are not disturbed and pushed all over the place. For fly fishing this time of the year is ideal, calm water, little pressure and lots of fish can mean only one thing. I catch more trophy size Stripers during this time of the year than any other time of the year.
King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
The Chinook Salmon, also known as the King Salmon, is the most popular game fish to the West Coast, at least up until a few years ago it was. With the Kings reclining numbers in the Sacramento Valley due to water exportations and several other problems (water related), I don’t think it holds that title anymore. With fish counts getting lower every year, I am not really sure what is going to happen to these once so plentiful fish. The Kings range anywhere from 15 to 50 pounds, with the common size being around 20 pounds. These fish put up a very strong fight and can be fished for many different ways. Not to mention the good table fare you end up with at the end of the day…
I fish Salmon from the opener July 16th, 2013 until they stop biting or late November! The best times to fish King Salmon is Late August, September & October. If your looking for some hard fighting fish, this is the trip for you.
White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)
The White Sturgeon is the largest fish in North America. With fish growing as large as 1800 pounds and twenty feet long; you can only imagine the strength that these prehistoric beasts have to offer. The Sturgeon has no scales and the body is full of razor sharp diamonds. The Sturgeon can also live more than 100 years. California protects White Sturgeon with a slot limit from 46″ to 66″ long. Before the state protected these fish, anglers and poachers alike almost fished the species to non existence. With the slot limit in place, the large females can continue to reproduce to insure the survival of their own. Sturgeon fishing can be very rewarding, and they put up a fight of a lifetime.
I fish Sturgeon from the week of Christmas through March depending on the weather and water flows. Sturgeon falls just short of my favorite table fare behind the Striped Bass. If you are looking for a great fight and lots of fish to eat, the White Sturgeon is the ticket for you.
Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
The Steelhead Trout is an ocean-bound Rainbow Trout that spends its life in the Ocean and returns to the river it was born in to reproduce. Steelhead are also known as “Steelies” or “Silver bullets”. Unlike the Salmon that live in the ocean and return to the rivers where they were born, Steelhead do not die after spawning. When the Steelhead arrive from the ocean, the have a very bright chrome color to them, hence, STEELHEAD. After the fish are in the system for a few weeks, the fish begin to resemble their freshwater relative, the Rainbow Trout. Steelhead are very fun to catch; they often offer aerial displays unlike any other fish on the river. Pound for pound, the Steelhead has my vote for the strongest fish we have to offer in the Sacramento Valley. Steelhead has something to offer for every type of fisherman out there. I prefer drifting roe or nightcrawlers, or even pulling plugs, but there are several different ways to catch them.
I fish Steelhead from the second week in September through December depending on water flows. If the river blows out due to high water, so do the fish. If you are looking for a very rewarding fish to sough after, the Steelhead is for you. You are only allowed to keep one hatchery Steelhead per trip and you must have a Steelhead punch card from the California Department of Fish and Game in your possession. I prefer to release Steelhead, but there is nothing wrong with bringing some home for dinner.
Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
American Shad (Alosa sapidissima)