By Boots Johnson

Lake Oroville is now at capacity and the fishing could not be better. Rains these past days have raised rivers, streams and reservoirs. All the rain has also either muddied up the water or has made it murky.

The opening of Eagle Lake is just around the corner and we expect a large turnout as usual. Make sure you bring warm clothes for this one as usual, but more so this year. We are told the fish will be cooperating and should be in the two to four pound range. These feisty trout, a strain all their own, are a kick to catch and are wonderful eating.

Conditions in the high country tell us different tactics may be needed for success on the trout stream. Close the fly box or wallet and fish with live bait. The famous earthworm is always a good choice. Look in the water for other insects, including hellgrammites, which are killers on any stream. Grubs may be found if you use a screen to catch the insects. Sometimes size is important as well as color. I always used a gob of trout worms when the water was not clear. Remember, when fishing with bait it must be on the bottom. Using a small weight, even a couple of split shot will do the trick. I have even caught trout on the skeleton of may flies which can be found on the side of exposed rocks and boulders when nothing else will produce. We also must not forget the hardware, such as spoons, spinners, jugs and plugs. In addition, salmon eggs are popular, although I prefer other baits as a first choice.

I don’t know how many of you out there rely on the phases of the moon but this is a proven way to score with any type of fishing. According to charts the best day to fish in May is the 31st between 10 A.M. and 12 Noon. Into June the best days are the first to the 6th with early afternoon fishing is best from the 4th to the 6th.

We talked to our weather source. He advised the month of May has always been wet on occasion in past years. He also recalls snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in almost all months of the year during past spring and summers. He also told me to expect a warm summer this year but it will be shorter than past years bringing wet weather to the valley floor and the mountains as early as September.

For those who fish the lakes and reservoirs we suggest, on windy days, to drift with the wind while trolling. Turn off the motor and just drift with the wind. You might be surprised what you catch and also the enjoyment and relaxation this type of fishing provides.

Closing thought: “Fishing is a great sport, but remember to crimp the barbs on the hook when you catch and release.”



               By Boots Johnson

Well folks, if you wish to play bumper boats hit the Feather River for the Striped Bass Run. As you all know, who are in on the striper run, the Sacramento River is still running on the high side. So… all depends on what you want to do…………….fight the boats and parking……………or just relax on the Sacramento River with a minimum of boat traffic and fishing up north above Colusa for the best bite.

On the other side of the coin……………        Lakes and reservoirs are busting wide open with hungry fish. The hot spot last week was Collins Lake above Marysville. Just about every species of fish in this popular reservoir were being caught, including planted rainbow trout.  Fish are holding in 20 feet of water. Clear Lake is putting out some nice bass along with other species. Lake Oroville has busted wide open with bass on the move and hungry. This is the best time of the year for Oroville. The lake last week was at 91 per cent capacity. Limits of mackinaw lake trout are common at this time at Lake Tahoe. Both the North and the South shores are putting out limits. Fish are averaging four to six pounds.  Lake Almanor at Chester is enjoying great weather and most of the snow has melted. Trolling has been producing the most action. Hat Creek is now open and has been crowded with anglers. The stream is in great condition. Englebright reservoir has reported excellent trout fishing at this time.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife have planted the following waters in the North State: BUTTE COUNTY: Paradise Lake; SHASTA COUNTY: Upper, Middle and Lower Burney Creek, Lower Clark Creek, Upper Hat Creek, Hatchet Creek, Montgomery Creek and rock Creek below Britton. YUBA COUNTY; Collins Lake.

Catfish are on the move in all waters at this time. The Sacramento River has been putting out channel cats as well as striped bass. Some people prefer catfish for dinner over other fishes found in our local waters. A great way to fry them is mayonnaise and cracker crumbs. Just dredge the fillets in the mayo and roll in the cracker crumbs, gently   pressing the crumbs into the flesh. Of course, sliced lemon is a must!

Closing thought: “Grow through what you go through.”



               By Boots Johnson

Limits of Striped bass are being caught within an hour anywhere on the Feather River. The river is full of stripers and boats. The fish are averaging two to three pounds with larger fish and shakers in the mix. Keep in mind these fish run in schools so if you get no action in one spot move to another. Find the schools and hold onto your fishing pole. We suggest sticking close to shore.

Paradise Lake, which was closed after the fire, is now open. Hours are 5 A.M. to sunset Friday through Monday. As in the past no gasoline powered boats are allowed.

We hear from Lake Berryessa. Bass are on the move here to their spawning grounds. Fish are being taken near the banks and on the surface. The bass are fat and sassy and are a kick to catch. Patience is a virtue here.

A report from Lake Davis tells us the lake is still full of broken up ice and slush. Expect this body of water to bust wide open when the ice thaws.

Englebright Reservoir has been a good choice since the recent trout plant. Keep in mind there are other fish in this reservoir including some nice sized crappie and bass.

With water temperatures around 64 degrees the bass at Lake Oroville are on the move, hungry and will soon go into spawning mode. Keep this reservoir on your must do list.

The Sacramento River is still running high which has put a damper on the striped bass run. Sturgeon are also reported to be in the system.

As April comes to an end many anglers think about shad. It appears this year the shad will be mixed in with the striped bass run. Expect the shad to be in local rivers soon.

We certainly hope all of those trout anglers who fished streams and river for the opening weekend had success and perhaps a fish story or two to tell.

Closing thought: “People whose first instinct is to smile when you make contact with them are some of earth’s greatest treasures.”



               By Boots Johnson

Many were hopeful the Sacramento River would have dropped by now, but is still running high with water from the bottom of the levee. The clarity of the water has cleared up a bit, but striper fishing has been tough. However, on the Feather River, if you do not mind wall to wall boats in the water and a traffic jam in regard to trucks and boat trailers at the ramps, as well as a parking problem, the fish are on the move here.

The opening of the general trout season is right in front of us. Keep in mind when you go to expect high water conditions in streams and rivers in the foothills and mountains. Also, as you pass by the foothills and into the mountains be aware of wildlife on the roadways, especially deer, which tend to move around this time of year more often and do not seem to understand that two or three tons of metal and plastic which make up the modern car or pickup can cause them serious harm and/or death if the animal gets in front of a moving vehicle.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife have planted catchable trout in the following waters. BUTTE COUNTY: DeSabla Reservoir; EL DORADO COUNTY: South Fork of the American River at Coloma; PLUMAS COUNTY: Jamison Creek and the North Fork of the Feather River-Beldon; SIERRA COUNTY: North Fork of the Yuba River. In addition, Collins Lake has an ongoing planting schedule.

Our source at Lake Tahoe advises the browns and mackinaw trout were not cooperating with few fish brought in last week. Expect the bite to pick up and continue to be strong as we head into late spring and early summer.

We are told the kokanee salmon at Bullard’s Bar are now in the shallow water and will be found in the upper ten feet of water. This is also true for bass at Camp Far West where the fish are in the pre-spawn mode and can be found to 10 to 15 feet of water. The same thing is going on at Lake Oroville, which has improved some as far as fishing goes, with bass hanging out near the surface. Expect the spawn to take place as soon as the weather warms up.

Closing thought:  “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”




               By Boots Johnson

There has been lots of activity on the Feather River boat ramps, including Boyd’s, Yuba City and Star Bend. In fact, there have been so many boats fishing for the striper run that if you do not get there early there will be no place to park. If this situation is happening on  week days just think of the chaos on weekends.

We have a report of fishing success on the Feather last Friday. The wind was blowing and there were boats everywhere with most boats coming in with one striper or none at all. Just about all was used, including pile worms, cut bait, flies and streamers and also drifting with minnows.

The reason for the big crowd on the Feather River is because of the condition of the Sacramento River. Once it stabilizes and the water drops a bit some of the pressure on the Feather will move to the Sac.

Another problem on the Feather River was the way the Department of Water Resources cut of the flow at Oroville Dam. The water was dropping last week so fast if you were anchored you could actually see the water drop along the banks. This problem has been addressed in the past and apparently the problem has met with deaf ears at the state level.

Collins Lake, up above Browns Valley, is putting out some nice rainbow trout. A report told us the fishing pressure here is light during the week. On weekends fish have been caught, with the largest fish being a 7 pound 12 inch rainbow which was landed by Tom Ives who lives in Browns Valley. The fish fell for yellow power bait.

The bass grow big in Lake Oroville. Just ask Dennis Helms who lives in Chico. Dennis pulled a huge 12 and a half largemouth black bass out of the lake.

Folsom Lake and Englebright Reservoir both received planted trout last week.

Closing thought: “ Cashews and strawberries are the only fruit which grows its seeds on the outside.”



               By Boots Johnson

As the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers” which also applies to migrating fish in local rivers. One of these is the Shad which arrives in the Feather and Yuba River in late April. We all know when the cotton pods drop from the trees that it is time to go fishing for shad also known as the  poor man’s tarpon.

Shad were not a native fish and were placed in the Sacramento River in 1871. Like the salmon and steelhead plants in the Feather River they headed downstream to the ocean. When they returned to the river they have expanded their presence in all rivers and can be found throughout California and Oregon.

Shad are aggressive fighters. When one hits your lure most anglers are surprised to see the size of the fish when it is landed. A two pound male will fight like a four or five pound striped bass. Most male shad run up to two or  three pounds but the female has been reported to get up to eight pounds. The males arrive ahead of the females sort of like the striped bass runs each year.

Shad do not spawn and die like the salmon, but spawn and return to the ocean to then return again and again. Some folks can testify they thought they had on a striped bass and it turned out to be a shad. Shad are fast, very fast in the water and are suckers for lures, spinners, darts and spoons, but will hit bait on a hook. However, their mouths are small and paper thin so it is highly unlikely a person will catch a shad on striped bass gear.

We who live in this area are in prime shade country. The Feather and Yuba River are excellent for shad as well as the American River and the Sacramento. The best time to fish these waters is early in the morning or late in the evening hours. Shad tend to move close to shore during this time and can be caught right next to the bank at the right time of day.

We have fished for shad from shore in the Feather River as well as other areas and by boat.  All is needed is a spinning outfit, some shad darts and enough weight to reach the bottom. Cast upstream and follow the lure as it moves with the current. A strike is usual at the end of the drift as the line turns and heads to shore. A fast retrieve will also bring results. Over the years I have caught hundreds of shad, returning almost all to the water.

The biggest shad I caught was in the Feather River a couple of hundred feet downstream from the Fifth Street Bridge. The fish was a female and measured at 23 inches. When she hit my shad dart I thought I had a snag……..but the snag moved and it moved upstream. There were other people on the shore fishing, but only one upriver. He reeled in his line and stepped out of the way. The fish turned and headed downstream. What followed was utterly crazy. Anglers were reeling in and jumping out of the way as I passed with my Mitchell 300 reel drag singing. I had placed the small reel on the fiberglass rod which was filled with four pound test line.

I stumbled and talked to the fish as I continued working my way downstream. People were yelling and some had already thought I had a striper or salmon on the end of the line. It was a couple hundred feet before I managed to bring the big shad to dry land. Everyone around me wanted to see the fish as I quickly measured her and gently placed her back in the water. She laid motionless for a few seconds and then was gone in a flash. What a thrill that evening was!

Boots fishing tip for the week: “If you go shad fishing this year make sure your reel has a loose drag.”


               By Boots Johnson

From what we have learned it appears the bass are on the move. Smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass are being caught in local ponds, reservoirs, rivers and bypasses. Some of the bass are huge and are coming from Clear Lake, Lake Oroville and the Thermalito Afterbay. We have reports of bass up to 10 pounds being taken at this time.

Trout are finally on the bite at Collins Lake above Browns Valley. Fish have been taken from shore and near the dam, which was the hot spot last week. Trout up to five pounds have been caught. The Department of Fish and Wildlife planted the lake last week along with what the pens are producing. The reservoir is currently full.

Striped bass are being caught in the Sacramento and Feather Rivers but most are small at this time. Colusa Landing (Steelhead Lodge), Wards Landing and the ramp at Colusa State Park are all open. The Sacramento River is still running high and murky.

The Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association is having a striped bass derby on April 20, 2019 at the Colusa Public Ramp located at 50 Tenth Street in Colusa. Both adult and youth tickets are available. Awards will be for male stripers only with cash awards starting at $3000.00 for first place in the adult category and starting at $300.00 for first place in the youth group. For more information contact the following: James Stone @ (530) 923-9440, JD Richey @ (916) 952-1554, Ron Kelly @ (530) 870-1449 or Bob Boucke @ (530) 870-2003.

We checked out Lake Berryessa last Friday and found very few boats on the lake which is brim full. Some anglers had luck last week with drop shot rigs and rubber worms. The fish averaged a couple of pounds.

Closing thought:  If you get into a tall chimney or down a deep well and look up you can see stars, even during daylight hours.






               By Boots Johnson

We hear there was consideration to INCREASE the cost of the Yearlong fishing license which is being considered for becoming law as this is written. Where in the world are the brains in Sacramento? It is a known fact that fishing license revenue has taken a dive for some time now. We were under the impression that the change to yearly was for convenience as well as perhaps helping the people who fish out there to purchase a license due to it being good for a whole year. We sincerely hope when the license is available for a whole year at the time of purchase that the Department of Fish and Game does not mess things up by increasing the cost (which is already to high) when we buy our fishing license.

Striped bass are all over the system, including the Sacramento and Feather rivers but the results have been tough with the high water in the Sacramento and the cold water in the Feather. We have reports of lots of anglers fishing the Feather but have not been very successful.

We checked with our weather source and he advises rain in the valley and snow in the mountains after Sunday (March 25th) which will more than likely stay around for the week. He also says the temperatures will be on the low side, but will be warming up by April 1st. In addition, he tells us to expect April showers to return this year along with windy days.

We have a report from Lake Tahoe. Mackinaw lake trout are hitting better in the morning than the afternoon with limits common. The big fish are being caught near or on the bottom of the lake, instead of at around 80 feet last week. Most of the macks are being caught in around 150 feet of water on the west side of the lake. We are told the water is smooth and beautiful at this time.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife reported last week they planted Folsom Lake and also put fish into Rancho Seco Lake and Willow Hills Reservoir which are located in Sacramento County.

Clear Lake has opened up with the bite and anglers are catching bass on a regular basis. Expect this large body of water to continue but with a slow down if the weather goes bad.

Closing thought: “The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.”



               By Boots Johnson

Get ready, get set, and go. We are told to expect one of the largest salmon runs, both in the Sacramento and Feather Rivers, in the last several decades. This good news comes from Sacramento and from other sources who know what to expect. The heavy rain and snow has helped this but so has the efforts of the Department of Fish and Wildlife with their continued raising and planting salmon and steelhead. When the season opens this summer we expect to see a bumper year.

As of this writing the Sacramento River is still blown out with dirty water and high water lapping at the edges of the bottom of the levee system. The river is loaded with sturgeon but is tough to catch them. The Feather, on the other hand is in much better shape, but is running very cold. Anglers have been out for stripers on the Feather with poor results. As the water clears and warms up a bit expect outstanding striped bass fishing here.

Those anglers who have headed down to the Delta have been catching sturgeon. The waters have begun to clear which has turned on the bite with striped bass also cooperating. Hot spot of last week was San Pablo Bay. The water here is muddy and the high water has removed many of the trash fish which has resulted in no small bait stealers. The people who live down there and fish the delta have stated the sturgeon fishing should be good into this summer. Striped bass will also be around and hungry way into the summer months, so now is the time to go down to the Bay and enjoy the best fishing since the middle eighties.

The Sutter Bypass is flooded outside of its natural banks and with the muddy water the catfish are on the move and are being caught throughout the system. Expect fishing for the “cats” to stay good until the waters recede.

Closing thought: ” The University of Alaska spans four time zones.”




               By Boots Johnson

When the high water recedes in both the Sacramento and Feather River we should see a better than average striper run this year. Expect the Feather River to be fishable before the Sacramento due to runoff from Shasta. We anticipate good striper fishing in the Feather above Boyd’s Pump and in the Yuba City area. At this time we recommend staying off the Sacramento due to the high water, but some anglers are trying striper fishing on the Feather. The striper run usually gets underway well by mid-March.

The buzz we heard about the fishing licenses being on a calendar year basis is about to be voted on by the California Sportsfishing League. The proposal, if approved will make it the law that the fishing license will be good for a full year from the date of purchase. As we all know currently it does not matter when you purchase your license during the year because it is null and void on December 31st. It is hoped this new law will increase the purchase of fishing licensed in California, which have dropped considerably since 1980.

Many reservoirs in the northern state are full and some are spilling over.  Lake Berryessa is overflowing along with Collins Lake.  Shasta Dam is almost at capacity and we have word that Clear Lake in the flood stage.

Paradise Lake still remains closed to fishing. This closure has been in effect since the horrible fire which leveled the town of Paradise above Chico. Reports tell us the lake will remain closed for the time being and there is no word on when it will reopen.

Reports tell us that Lake Almanor, which is located near the town of Chester, has had record snow this winter with most of the lake frozen over except for the Hamilton Branch area and the Peninsula. We are told, with more storms predicted, to expect this body of water as unfishable at this time.

Closing thought: “Nine out of ten living things live in the oceans.”


               By Boots Johnson

Conditions have improved in local rivers for sturgeon. The big fish are being caught in the Feather and Sacramento Rivers. Hot spot in the Feather is at the Bear River, with good results coming in from Knights Landing on the Sacramento. The fish appear to be hungry, taking just about any offering which include sardines, shrimp, pile worms and night crawlers.

Reports tell us striped bass are in the Feather River at this time, brought up by the recent planting of steelhead at Boyd’s Pump below Yuba City. Dry conditions have cleared up the river which is still running low. The Bear River however is running high since Camp Far West Reservoir had water going over the spillway last week.

This is a new year and we advise to be sure your fishing license has been purchased prior to hitting the waters. As we all know from past experience the cost of the license goes up every year. This year it will set you back $49.94 unless you are out of state. Then the license will be $134.74. One day license will cost $16.20.

All the high water makes for good catfishing. Our weather source advises storms this week which will last four to six days. This will again bring in the catfish in flooded waters and muddy up the rivers.

We have a report from Collins Lake above Marysville that the reservoir is full and is spilling over. When this lake clears up a bit we can expect excellent fishing for planted trout. The plants will be made on a regular basis.

Lake Oroville is still murky and muddy and the reservoir continues to rise four or five feet a day. This just about makes fishing impossible or a waste of time. The new storm front coming in will certainly aggravate the situation here.

Our weather source advised a couple weeks ago that we would be seeing winter conditions like we have had in past years.  We are told the snow depth in the high country is the most people have seen in the last 40 or 50 years. Runoff from this deep snow should make for outstanding striper fishing on the Feather River this year.

Closing thought: “Do not hang back with the compliments…..they might just make some ones day.”


    By Boots Johnson


Recent Storms and more to come have muddied up local reservoirs and rivers in the Sacramento Valley and foothills. Waters are running high in streams, creeks and rivers with boat ramps closed on the Sacramento River. Fishing has also suffered with murky and dirty water along with cold water temperatures.

Sturgeon are all over the Sacramento River at this time but are not cooperating with anglers due to the cold water. We have reports of sturgeon being found in the Feather River at the mouth of the Bear River as well. Stripers are also in the system since the planting of steelhead smolts at Boyd’s Pump below Yuba City. The release of these small steelhead has always brought up the stripers from below to gorge on a good meal.

The kokanee salmon at Bullard’s Bar Reservoir have moved out of the main body and are now in the back arms of the lake. This is due to the warmer water in these areas. Both boat ramps are open but we advise caution due to the large amount of debris floating on the surface.

We checked with our weather person and he advised us to expect more rain with a drying out period this week. He also said the rains are not over and will return, but probably not as severe as the past weeks. Expect wind to be a part of upcoming storms.

As usual this time of year we recommend calling ahead if you plan on fishing reservoirs above 4000 feet. Many reservoirs and lakes are snowed in at this time with most roads closed or not plowed.

Collins Lake received a trout plant last week from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. (DFW).  This plant will be the kickoff for more plants in February and into spring and summer by the Lakes penned trout along with occasional plants by the DFW.

Closing thought: When we replace-“why this happening to me,”-with“ what is is this trying to teach me?” Everything shifts.


By Boots Johnson

The storm, which is underway at this writing, is expected to muddy up local rivers which will slow down the steelhead fishing and improve the sturgeon migration up stream. Anglers, who fish local reservoirs, will no doubt run into murky water as muddy streams, creeks, runoff and rivers enter these bodies of water.

Up in the high country at Lake Tahoe the Mackinaw lake trout are being taken on a regular basis. However, the weather up there is downright cold with snow on the ground which keeps many of us away from the action. Lake Davis, at this time is all ice. The reservoir froze over a while back. Stampede Reservoir is closed due to snow on the roads which has not been plowed. The access gate to Webber Lake has been closed and locked for the winter season.

Back in the valley Bullard’s Bar Reservoir is up around 15 feet and rising. Englebright Reservoir, also known to us old folks as The Narrows, received a plant of rainbow trout last week. Lake Oroville continues to rise and the water has been cold and dirty. Collins Lake is still slow fishing at this time.

We decided to contact our weather source. He advised to expect on and off rain in the valley and snow in the mountains for the next month. He says to expect colder weather to hang around a spell.

Closing thought: “Now is a good time to get the fishing gear checked out and replace what is necessary.”


By Boots Johnson

My son Ted and I ventured up to Hammon Grove and left the Pickup at the last parking area. We dropped down to the Yuba River, along a marked trail, to investigate the condition of the Yuba River in regards to steelhead fishing. The water was up bit and was running on the murky side. This area would be a good bet for trout or steelhead. Both swim in this river. The rainbow trout is considered to be a steelhead when it reached 16 inches. In addition, both wild and planted fish are here. The wild fish are protected and cannot be taken at any time, but must be released immediately. You can tell a wild fish from a hatchery fish by the small fin on the fishes back near the tail. If the small membrane is clipped and therefore does not exist it is a hatchery fish. By the same token fish with the fin intact are wild and must be released. At the end of the last parking lot are signs explaining the rules and regulations, including barbless hooks and no bait allowed along with sections of the Yuba River which have different regulations.

Driving into Hammond Grove past the neat barbeque area and seeing Dry Creek and what was left of the concrete swimming pool wall brought back many memories at the park long before Yuba County decided to clean it up and make it a day use park. I can recall the swimming parties, the picnics and the beer busts which took place back in the 40-s and 50s. It was not unusual to see large crowds of people, most of them party goers, but a few were fishing.

I have fished Dry Creek over the years past and have had success catching a variety of fish, including catfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and all varieties of pan fish such as crappie, bluegill, and sun perch and so on. In fact, back in the 40’s the stream had so many catfish which ran in schools you could see them in the clear water swimming in the current, traveling from one deep hole to another. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Upstream from Hammon Grove there were several pools which ran up to ten feet deep. This was always the place to go to catch catfish for supper. However, over the years, including the floods in 1950, 1955, 1986 and 2005 the deep pools in Dry Creek gradually filled in and changed the natural flow of the stream.

Closing thought: “Sometimes it is best to just be quiet and listen.”


By Boots Johnson

WE talked about sturgeon the last week or so and we have reports of sturgeon being taken in San Pablo bay. Best bets are the mouth of Petaluma River and Sonoma Creek. Those with success were baiting up their hooks with grass shrimp with keeper stripers hitting on mudsuckters. Some of the bass caught last week ranged from 20 to 26 inches. Crabbing at Bodega Bay has been picking up even with the storms and the choppy waters. When the beaches are empty due to high waves and lousy weather you can still score with crabs and perch by fishing at Doran Beach and inside the entrance to Tomales Bay. The best Idea is to fish between storms.

Up Lake Davis way there is four or five inches of ice at the dam. It will not be long before ice fishing takes off on this body of water. Just be careful out there.

Reports from Lake Tahoe tell us the best bet for Mackinaw Lake Trout is on the North Side. We suggest if you decide to go to take your chains and call ahead for a charter boat.

The weather this past week has made it a challenge to hit the water. Those who have been determined have found some success on local rivers, but the catch for sturgeon and stripers has been few and far between on the Sacramento and Feather Rivers.

Closing thought: “Animals are such agreeable friends. They ask no questions and they pass no judgements or criticisms.”


By Boots Johnson

We are told steelhead are in the system. These ocean going rainbow trout have been taken in the Feather and Yuba Rivers on various lures and bait. We advise checking with regulations for closures, bait restrictions and other info including catch and release and/or barbless hooks.

I have fished for steelhead both in the Yuba and Feather Rivers in the past and have accidentally caught them when salmon fishing or catfish fishing in the Feather River. Some favorites are spinners and lures along with night crawlers, salmon eggs. Roe is also a good choice when allowed.

The biggest mistake anglers make when steelhead fishing is to wait too long for water clarity after a storm. Water clarity is extremely important for success, but cloudy water is when you want to fish and continue as the water clears. Color is also a big item no matter what you are using at the end of your line. I have had success on natural colored salmon eggs when nothing else would work. Also sometimes changing lure color will get some action.

Steelhead always move close to shore when storms are around. They will also move in that direction when boats run the rivers. As the storms pass and the water clears you will find them more in the deeper water towards the middle of the rivers. Early morning seems to be the best time for these fish and this brings to mind another story. The biggest steelhead I have ever caught happened early in the morning. We were anchored up at the mouth of the Yuba, sitting in Feather River water. We were after salmon but I decided to toss out a large spinner. My boys both were fishing with a flatfish and sardine wrap. I had a pull down and watched that beautiful steelhead break water and dance on its tail as the early morning sunlight created brightness from the fish and the water spraying into the air each time he jumped.

I brought the fish to the boat and Ted netted him................a beautiful five pound steelhead. We caught salmon that morning but the conversation was about that fish dancing on top of the water so beautiful and colorful in the early morning sunlight.

Closing thought: “Get out the tackle boxes, check them out and clean up your gear. Good fishing will be here before you know it.”


By Boots Johnson

Welcome to a wet and cold New Year. We hope all had a good holiday. We certainly did and are looking forward to 2019. Currently the weather is wet and cold. Our weather source predicted this a month or so ago so we called him for an update. He advised, according to his records since the 40’s, to expect things to get back to normal this year with lots of rain, snow, wind and colder temperatures compared to what we have experienced for a long time.

The current weather system, which we are told will be around awhile, will muddy up the rivers and bring the sturgeon upstream. Many of you out there fish for the prehistoric monster and we know this rain will bring smiles to your faces. Also, the steelhead season is upon us and we expect to see good fishing in local rivers for the next month or so.

Currently, according to a report from that area, Lake Berryessa has gone hog wild last week as bass, perch, crappie and trout turn on in this reservoir. Expect the lake to turn murky with the rain we are experiencing. Those who were on the water before the current storm had a ball fishing.

Those folks who braved the cold last week caught some nice trout at Collins Lake above Browns Valley. Fish were brought in which weighed up to five pounds.

Several years ago we were invited up to Lake Almanor before the Holiday season in Mid-December. Back then we encountered snow on the highway and snow just about everywhere. At the lake it was a beautiful sight with the blue water and the white snow. We fished off the bank in several areas without much success, but we did have frozen fingers and cold noses before we returned to the cabin. It has been some time since we have had that kind of weather and it appears we will once again see the Sierra Nevada Mountains with deep snow all around.

Closing thought: “Bring out the long johns, the sweaters and that extra warm coat that have been sitting in the closet for years and enjoy a normal, regular winter season.”


By Boots Johnson

Well folks, Christmas is gone and we are looking forward to the New Year. Research has told us, which includes computers and other things, along with the old folks who have kept track of the seasons by hand, that two thousand nineteen will be quite a year for folks who fish. In fact if all the predictions come true we will see records broken, limits common and many surprises for just about most of those who enjoy the outdoors and make fishing a hobby. Wait a minute....hobby? This may be true for the majority of anglers, but there are some who take fishing one level above or even more to challenge the sport or become guides or experts. But for most of us all we want to do is catch a fish or two and teach our children the wonders of the fishing world. God bless you all and good luck!

By the time you are reading this column it will, more than likely, be the New Year and most will be thinking about spring and summer.....mostly about spring to catch those fish, regardless of what species, and enjoy the experience with family and friends. What a wonderful way to take in the New Year and enjoy the planning of each fishing adventure for 2019.

So, without further comment....................Happy New Year and good fishing!

Closing thought: “When you decide failure is not an option....everything changes....”


By Boots Johnson

Those of you out there who still want to wet a line can find some action on local rivers fishing for steelhead. There has also been a showing of sturgeon in the Sacramento River although reports tell us the fishing is slow with few fish being brought into tackle shops.

Conditions at Lake Almanor are definitely on the cold side with snow and more snow in the forecast, but the trout are cooperating here and those who whether the storm are catching some nice fish.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife planned to plant catchable trout last week in the following waters: Folsom Lake, Auburn Regional Park Pond was also on the list. This water is located in Placer County. Rancho Seco Lake in Sacramento County also was planted along with Collins Lake above Marysville.

We are told that those who have large boats should avoid Camp Far West Reservoir due the low conditions of the lake. Small, preferably aluminum boats can make it on the gravel bar to launch. It is also recommended if you have a small fiberglass boat to leave it home.

Englebright Reservoir is full as usual and we have a report of success in the upper end of the lake trolling. Fish caught there last week were in the 18 to 24 inch range.

If it is bass you are after we recommend Lake Oroville. Fishing in the main part of the lake is best due to all the arms being somewhat still muddied up from the last storms.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and a joyous New Year.

Closing thought: “Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives and remembering what one receives.”


By Boots Johnson

We are told to expect more rain by the end of the week. Foul weather this time of year raises the rivers and brings the sturgeon upstream into the Sacramento Valley. Old timers will tell you when the rivers turn color and get muddy it is time to get the sturgeon gear ready.

The holidays are upon us and all of us should be thankful for what we have, including some of the best fishing anywhere else. Let us not forget the fisherman or the fishing lady in your family. Nothing makes the holiday more memorable than a fishing gift under the tree. I recall my surprise as a young man when I received a new fly rod from my Dad on Christmas morning. At the time I was 10 years old and I still have that rod and will cherish it for all time.

The weather has turned cold and the fish are cooperating is some areas. Many lakes and reservoirs, both at the foothill level and the high sierras, have turned over for the winter. One natural lake would be
Eagle Lake near Susanville. Serious anglers are still catching limits of trout there and more than likely will continue until it closes the end of this month. If you decide to take a break from the holidays and go fishing at Eagle Lake be sure to take your tire chains, warm clothes, hot coffee and whatever else you would need in the frigid weather up there.

Another thought, if you want to have trout for dinner, is to hit the local rivers for steelhead. These ocean going trout are currently in the rivers and are cooperating with anglers. Check with your favorite sporting goods store to find out what to offer and where the best areas are located.

Our weather source it the nail on the head for the storms last week. We asked him for a forecast and he advised to expect cold nights, cool days and rain by the end of the first week in November. In addition, he says we should be prepared for a cold winter, a very cold one and to expect freezing here and there in the coming weeks and into December.

Closing thought: “You were born to be a real person, not one to be perfect.”