[env-trinity] Appeal-Democrat column: Salmon are back

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Sun Sep 25 07:23:23 PDT 2011

OFF THE HOOK: Salmon are back
Comments 0

September 24, 2011 11:12:33 PM

Dan Bacher
For the Appeal-Democrat

The stretch of the Sacramento River from Woodson Bridge near Corning  
to Hamilton City is legendary for the excellent salmon fishing it has  
offered over the years. With the improvement in salmon numbers this  
year after the unprecedented fishery collapse of 2008-'09, fishermen  
are excited to again be out for the hard-fighting chinooks during the  
first full season since 2007.

"It's great to be back on the river," said Paul Kneeland, publisher  
of the Fish Sniffer magazine, after landing a 32-pound chinook, a  
beautiful buck netted by Robert Weese of Northern California Guide  

Kneeland and I were fishing with Brenden and Perry Montoya of Loomis.  
This was the first time that I had fished for salmon around the  
Woodson Bridge area since 2005.

The fishing this season started on July 16 with spotty results, but  
has improved dramatically in recent weeks, with experienced guides  
and anglers catching daily limits. While jacks in the 4- to 10-pound  
range made up most of the catch earlier this season, larger fish are  
now showing.

Federal biologists this year forecasted an ocean abundance estimate  
of around 730,000 Sacramento River fall chinooks, far above the  
number needed for optimum spawning this fall. The conservation goal  
for salmon returning to spawn in the river is 122,000—180,000 fish.

While salmon counts over the Red Bluff Diversion Dam were relatively  
low during the beginning of the season, the counts ramped up after  
the fall run entered the river. The cumulative total of fish over the  
dam this year was 7,134, compared with the 5-year average of 3,757.  
The total count for the final week that the dam gates were up was  
2,270 fish, with 995 counted on Aug. 30.

Paul, Brenden, Perry and I met Robert at 5:45 a.m. at the Woodson  
Bridge County Park boat ramp. As soon as it began to get light, we  
sped down the river in Robert's Alumaweld jet boat. We started at the  
first spot — Four Mile Hole.

"You want to each put on 4 ounce weights here," Robert advised. "Let  
out line slowly until you reach the bottom and reel up four cranks on  
the reel. You'll know it when you hook up."

Then within 10 minutes, Weese had the first hook-up of the day.  
Unfortunately, he lost that fish. "Crank the gear up," Weese told us  
after we didn't have any more hits.

Finally, we got down to Anderson Hole. "You want to use 6 ounces here  
to get your Kwikfish down to the bottom," he advised.

Brenden hooked up a fish and began cranking it in. "Everybody get  
your lines out the water," Robert shouted. I began reeling in my line  
and felt a surge on my line and set the hook. "Hey, I'm hooked up  
also," I yelled.

I tried to fight the fish on the starboard side of the bow, but the  
fish wouldn't cooperate. My line got crossed with Brenden's line.

Robert netted the first fish, a bright 10-pounder. At first, Robert  
thought that was my fish, but it actually turned out to be Brenden's.

In spite of all the tangled lines, I still had a fish on that I  
slowly worked toward the boat. "Lift your rod," Robert said. I reeled  
the line up to the swivel, lifted the salmon up and Robert netted it.

It was a 22-pound ocean bright hen. "That's probably the biggest fish  
caught in this stretch of river today," Robert said.

After all of that pandemonium, we didn't hook any more fish for  
another hour. Robert decided to try a hole where nobody was fishing,  
the Kelly Hole. At the top of the hole, he saw big numbers of fish on  
his graph.

Within an hour, Brenden had caught an 8-pound salmon to fill his  
limit, and his dad bagged his first salmon of the day. Then Kneeland  
landed the biggest fish of the day, a beautiful 32-pound buck.

Meanwhile, Perry landed his second fish, a jack, while Paul landed  
yet another big slug, a 24-pound beauty.

We only had one more fish to go until we were limited out. It didn't  
take long. Before 2 p.m., I successfully battled my second fish of  
the day, another 22-pounder to match my earlier fish.

We ended up with limits of chinooks, including four weighing 32, 24,  
22 and 22 pounds. It was a great, memorable day of fishing on the  

The salmon season will run through December 18 this year. For more  
information about salmon fishing with Robert Weese of Northern  
California Guide Service, call 530-755-7196.

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