[env-trinity] Appeal-Democrat column: Salmon are back
danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Sun Sep 25 07:23:23 PDT 2011
OFF THE HOOK: Salmon are back
September 24, 2011 11:12:33 PM
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
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
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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