By Boots Johnson

Our weather source, who has been predicting the weather for the past 70 years, tells us this heat wave has happened before. He recalls extremely hot weather back in the 40’s, the 70’s and so on. He advises to hang in there and watch for an early fall as it approaches. Furthermore, he tells us to expect much cooler weather into September. We shall see and are looking forward to fall and better fishing.

The run of salmon in happening and we have reports of some being caught on the Feather River at this time. Several phone calls and a couple emails tell us not to expect fishing on the Sacramento to be all that great. My son Ted took the red boat out, dropped into the Feather River at the Yuba City Boat Ramp and got skunked, but did see a nice 19 pound salmon taken by another boat near him and his buddies.

As far as trout go the fish are hanging out in the deepest part of lakes and Reservoirs due to the three did get weather. As things cool off we can expect the fish to come up from the depths a bit. Reports tell us trout fishing is slow at this time unless you fish at first light or close to dusk.

Keep in mind of the extremely hot weather we are sharing at this time and stay out of the heat from 1100 A.M. until 600 P.M. and don’t forget the hat and the sun screen. Be sure to drink lots of water and avoid the beer and alcohol.

We advise to be extra cautious on the Feather River. Sandbars and shallow areas are all over the place and some are only under the water in a foot or so. If you decide to go after salmon with a prop just be aware of the danger out there and the changes in the river.

The kokanee have finally gotten active at Lake Tahoe. They are being caught both at the North Shore and South Shore of the lake.

Closing thought: “Good friends are like do not always see them.........but they are always there.”


By Boots Johnson

We have had several comments of last week’s column in regard to Bill Malott’s big catfish, which brings to mind several facts and stories. One of the inquiries had to do with the elevation of Scotts Flat Reservoir being over5000 feet in the mountains. The person I talked to did not believe whisker fish lived in that cold of water.

I personally have caught many catfish in high elevation lakes and reservoirs. One which comes to mind is Little Grass Valley Reservoir above LA Porte, Calif. This lake sits a little higher than Scott’s Flat and has lots of catfish available if you know where to find them. In fact, some are caught like the one Bill hooked, by fishing for trout, with trout bait (power bait) on the bottom of the lake.

Catfish also live in local rivers, streams, ponds, canals and drainage ditches throughout the Sacramento Valley. These feisty fish are excellent food fare and can also be purchased at your local super market meat shop.

Catfish are basically bottom feeders and scavengers. However, I have caught them on a lure while fishing for black bass in the dredger ponds near Hallwood and with live minnows below a bobber. Also, we sometimes, when fishing for striped bass in the Sacramento or Feather Rivers, run up creeks and canals which empty into the rivers. All one needs to do is to quietly run your boat up stream to quiet water, carefully and without noise, drop the anchor and fish. Most of the time we come back with a nice stringer of catfish for dinner.

Catfish also run in schools, which means if you get a bite or catch one there will be more around the area. Once a catfish finds food it will sound off with a kind of gurgle noise which alerts its friends to join him or her for dinner.

Dry Creek above Hammon Grove off of Highway 20 used to have lots of catfish. I recall, back in the 40’s, while sitting on a large rock tempting bluegill to hit my worm, seeing a dead bird on the bottom of the creek just before it entered a large pool. My eye caught movement upstream and sure enough here came a catfish. It spotted the dead bird and immediately attacked the carcass. Within minutes a school of cats came rushing down the creek and got their share of food. My family spent a lot of Sunday afternoons swimming in that pool and catching catfish up to 16 or 17 inches.

One thing to remember.....catfish have spines on their top fin and on each side of the fin by the gills. They are sharp, hurt like heck and burn for some time, and so avoid those areas when taking the critter off the hook and during the skinning process.

Boot’s fishing tip for the week: “When fishing for sturgeon try the balancing board or pole in your boat. You can detect a slight bite this way and when the tip of the pole drops set the hook.”


By Boots Johnsonfishing talk  8 23 17

Salmon season has lots of folks talking about fish in local rivers. Our last check showed us there are a few fish in the rivers, but the major run is yet to happen. With the end of August approaching the fishing could improve dramatically. We suggest if you do decide to give it a try on the Feather River to fish at first light.

I received a couple calls this past week about how to back troll for salmon. After talking to the second person I decided it might be a good idea to repeat my words in print in this column. Back trolling is best done with the boat positioned upriver above a known hole. The engine, an electric trolling motor or kicker, should be running. The motor is given just enough power so the boat remains almost motionless in the water, then by easing up on the power just a bit which will allow the boat to slowly drift downriver a foot or so at a time. This is why it is called back trolling.

The above procedure can be done with bait, a sardine wrapped flatfish or with roe which is fished off the bottom around 50 feet or so behind the boat. With roe your best bet is to keep the sinker on the bottom while you bounce it along the bottom into the holes. Anglers can also fish with other baits and lures in the same fashion.

Congratulations goes out to Grass Valley Angler Bill Malott on his big catch of a 12 pound catfish while fishing at Scott’s Flat last Wednesday. He was fishing with orange power bait when the big cat hit. Thanks to two ladies...Tara and Lennie for assisting in bringing in the monster. The “Big One” was caught at 10:20 A.M. and was a thrill to all on the scene. See the picture in this issue.

Scott’s Flat Reservoir is located above Nevada City off of State Route 20. To reach the lake turn right at the Five Mile House and follow the road to the campground.

There are still resident striped bass in local rivers. A favorite spot for these fish is below the rapids on the Feather River. Some whoppers have been taken in this area of the river in recent years. Of course, we still have catfishing angler’s hook into a striped bass on occasion throughout the rivers of the valley.

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The fish and wildlife tanker trucks loaded with rainbow trout are back in the northern part of the state with the following waters planted: EL DORADO COUNTY: Fallen Leaf Lake; MODOC COUNTY: Lily Lake and Cave Lake; SHASTA COUNTY: Whiskey town Reservoir, Upper Bailey Creek, Upper, Middle and Lower Burney Creeks; Upper and Middle of Hat Creek; Baum Lake; North Battle Creek Reservoir and the Sacramento River. Medicine Lake in SISKIYOU COUNTY received a plant along with Kangaroo Lake, McCloud River-Fowlers-Lower Falls and the Sacramento River.

The bite is finally on at Lake Almanor. Up until recently anglers were having some success fishing the underwater springs. Now with the cool nights they have had up there lately the trout bite should improve all over the lake. We are told slowly trolling night crawlers is the best bet in waters down to 50 plus feet.

Closing thought: “The distance between dreams and reality is action.”


By Boots Johnson

Our latest report on salmon in local rivers shows that the run has not gotten here yet. Granted, there are a few fish in the rivers, but the main run is yet to be seen. Old Timers, who have chased after the salmon over the years, tell us to expect a bumper year in all rivers which will start the last part of August and continue through September and probably into part of October.

Our weather source advises there will be a cooling off period for the Sacramento Valley on August 14th or 15th but do not expect it to be around very long. He advised this is not the end of the heat, but a break in the action and to expect the hot weather to return as we continue into August and into September.

Apparently most of the planted trout ended up in lakes, streams, rivers and reservoirs in Inyo County last week with around 50 plants throughout the county. Northern California received some fish, but it was just a drop in the bucket compared to what took place further south.

Reports from Stampede Reservoir advised anglers are catching lots of kokanee salmon. Bullard’s Bar Reservoir has also had good results with these landlocked salmon.

Collins Lake has been good for pan fish and catfish with trout being taken down deep. When the action (boats, wave runner, skiers and etc.) hit the water anglers might as well leave fishing alone until the early morning hours.

Local anglers Kyle Caldwell and Ted Johnson, along with several friends headed down to Bodega Bay last week. They caught halibut and sharks. In fact apparently they got into a school of sharks and could not hold on to some of them.Ted said it was a different fishing trip but they had a ball. Lots of fish were caught with fish in the fridge and freezer at home.

Little Grass Valley Reservoir, located above La Porte, finally got a good sized trout plant. The fish were the usual size, between 10 and 12 inches and were reported to be all rainbow trout. We imagine anyone camping there who fish hit the water pretty hard when the planter trucks dumped their loads at several boat ramps on the lake and left the scene.

Boots fishing tip for the week: “When fishing reservoirs drop down deep this time of year and also fish the shoreline with top line lures before or at first light.”


By Boots Johnson

A check with all the activity down in the bay area, specifically around the Golden Gate, in regards to salmon fishing is true. Our source advised it appeared like every boat and angler from the western United States had appeared for the outstanding salmon bite. He further stated the wait time to launch his boat was over two hours and taking it out was not much faster.

Meanwhile, outside the Golden Gate still has salmon everywhere with all anglers putting fish in their boats. Limits of fish were the ticket last week from San Francisco, Sausalito, Berkeley and Emeryville. In fact, as our report stated, boats were limiting out and returning early. Average size was 12 to 25 pounds.

We hear from Lake Tahoe. The big Mackinaw lake trout are being caught at this time. Reports tell us some of the fish caught are in the 15 to 18 pound range. Now that is a huge trout by anyone’s standards!

The Auburn Rooster Tail Fishing Club is holding their Table Top Swap Meet Fishing Gear Sale at the Auburn Elks Lodge from 6:30 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. during their breakfast Business Meeting on August 18th. The optional buffet breakfast is $13.00. This is an opportunity to bring your unwanted fishing equipment, rent a table and keep the sale of any of your fishing items. Table cost is $25.00 per table and can be shared with others to cut down the cost. More info can be had by e-mail (Jim) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We are told some of the holdover catfish, released for the last kid’s derby, are still being caught at Ellis Lake in Marysville. It appears the cats are on the bite anytime of the day or night with some in the two to three pound range. Largemouth black bass are also available. We have been advised not to eat any fish which is caught in Ellis Lake. Best bet is catch and release.

Closing thought: “To be old and wise you must first be young and stupid.”


By Boots Johnson

The eagle lake trout are a strain all their own and have thrived in the alkaline water of Eagle Lake for years. This body of water is a natural lake and has a hatchery included. Over the years eagle lake trout were placed in other lakes and reservoirs throughout the west.

One reservoir that now has these feisty fighters is located in the foothills of the Coast Range. I am referring to Lake Berryessa, which is located near Winters. At this writing these rainbows are exciting lots of anglers with limits of fish running up to three pounds. Apparently the trout are holding down to 35 or 40 feet. The fish have been hitting on spoons and lures. There is a problem for anglers on this lake which is lots of boat and wave runner traffic.

The salmon fishing has been slow on both the Feather and Sacramento Rivers. Things should pick up into August and September.

Congratulations go out to Craig Smith on his big catch at Collins Lake. Craig was trolling near the dam dragging a spinner when a nice seven and a half pound trout grabbed the spinner. Craig lives in Olivehurst. Also a big kudos to Kevin Muff, who lives in Chico, on his nice eight pound ten ounce trout caught while fishing at Bridgeport Reservoir.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have been busy this past week planting trout all over the golden state. Those counties and water in the Northern area are as follows: BUTTE CREEK: DeSabla Reservoir and Big Butte Creek; LASSEN COUNTY: Lower Goodrich Creek and Clear Creek; PLUMAS COUNTY: North Fork of the Feather River at Beldon and at Lake Almanor; SHASTA COUNTY: Sacramento River, Grace Lake and Keswich Canal; SIERRA COUNTY: North Fork of the Yuba River; SISKIYOU COUNTY: McCloud River and the Sacramento River; TEHEMA COUNTY: Gurnsey Creek, South Fork of Battle Creek and Deer Creek.

Closing Thought: “Some of the best times fishing is sitting around the campfire exchanging fish stories and adventures in the outdoors.”


By Boots Johnson

The hot weather has driven the trout population down deep in most reservoirs and lakes. Trolling for them in the summer months usually means downriggers or lead line. The downrigger will place your offering exactly where you spot fish on your finder, while the lead line has colors for each number of feet.

Many anglers fish water that does not hold fish and they also depend on that blip which shows them a fish. There are certain areas of reservoirs which hold fish and other areas which are bare. That expensive fish finder will tell you where the most likely spots hold fish which is usually where there is drop offs, underwater canyons and an uneven bottom. Trout and bass will go deep this time of year but will also cruise the shallows at night for food. If you hit the water before first light we suggest two lines in the water, one down deep and the other near the surface.

I have had fishing friends, who spend a bunch of time on the water, who put their boat on the trailer as soon as the sun hits the water. They consider trolling during the morning hours when the lake or reservoir has the sun on its surface to be a waste of time.

If you plan on fishing the bottom of a lake or reservoir we recommend using power bait or an inflated night crawler along with whatever else you have on your hook. Both the power bait and the inflated worm will keep your baits off the bottom which will have your offering floating above the grasses which grow in just about all lakes and reservoirs.

Trolling with flashers and a night crawler cannot be beat for fishing in lakes and reservoirs, but one must not forget lures and spoons or try removing the flashers or ford fenders for a different drag and presentation. If trolling in a straight line does not produce any strikes we recommend zig zagging or trolling in a figure eight pattern. Also a sudden stop of your boat and then to continue may produce a strike due to the flashers falling which will attract a fishes attention.

Another way to catch lake trout this time of year is to jig with jigs or a night crawler. This is done on the bottom of the reservoir and is especially productive for brown trout.

Closing thought: “Do what is right, not what is easy.”


By Boots Johnson

Our trip several weeks ago over to Bodega Bay and a stroll down the beach reminded me of an experience many years ago. On the way to the state park we drove by Petaluma and I was reminded of another trip to Dillon Beach. That particular weekend was back in the summer of 1973. I received a call from my friend John who told me him and his wife Barbara were going over to the cabin for the weekend and asked me if I would like to join them. Needless to say they picked me up at 6 P.M. that Friday evening.

Their cabin was really a small house with all the rooms one usually has for comfort and so on.
Barbara asked me if I would like to go with her fishing. Of course I agreed and she go out the old ladder in the storage shed out back and once in the garage and as I steadied the ladder she climbed up and brought down a cane pole about ten feel in length. It looked just like my frog gigging pole in the rafters of my garage except she showed me the end which had about six inches of heavy line and a large hook.

That morning I was introduced to a different kind of fishing. She called it “Poke Pole Fishing” and we only go out when the tide is out. She advised when the time is right the fish are still there, but are forced into crevasses and holes in the rocks which are accessible by the poke pole.

Barbara secured a piece of squid on the hook and she began jumping from rock to rock which included wading a bit. After poking for about ten minutes she hollered and came up with a ling cod about six or seven pounds. I was amazed as she brought the fish to shore.

She told me this is the only way to catch fish in the rocks without donating half of your tackle box to constant snags.

Salmon are being caught in the Feather and Sacramento Rivers. The opening was last Saturday which had a bunch of eager anglers on the water even with the low water conditions of the Feather River. With reports from the bay area this year’s salmon fishing will only get better as the season progresses.

We have been told trout were planted recently in the Gold Lake Basin in Sierra County.

Closing Thought: “What if we recharged ourselves as often as we do our cellphones.”


By Boots Johnson

We had several inquiries the past couple of weeks about fishing in the local rivers. One question, asked by two new neighbors to our areas pertained to what is available to fish for when the runs, such as striper, shad and the upcoming opening of salmon season on July 16th end.

The first phone call last week was about the end of the striper run. I advised there were what we call resident striped bass in the Feather River year round. All an angler needs to do is find where they hang out. We also talked about small mouth bass and advised these fish can be found in parts of the river which give them cover and security. You will find them in deep holes, in debris along the banks, such as fallen trees and old tree stumps under the water and in quiet areas under cut banks where the current slows down or where then can swim from cover and grab food as it passes by.

The second message came into my email basket and was asking about catfish. I advised that catfish make their homes in all the local rivers. The channel cat is the most abundant but there are other species as well, such as the bullhead and so on. Feeder streams or ditches usually will hold catfish as well as the feisty crappie. These fish, along with the bass will find food and still water in any water which flows into any river.

Another local fish which stays in the river system year round is the Sacramento Pike or also known as a Squawfish. These fish are scavengers and feed off the bottom of the rivers. They also feed on fish eggs, also called roe and according to studies by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife they eat a tremendous amount of striped bass and salmon eggs which includes sturgeon roe. The Department says we should kill those we catch. The only problem with this rule is striped bass, catfish and other species also feed on fish eggs. In fact, we have been catching trout in streams on salmon eggs and steelhead on roe (which is another species of the trout family which move into river each year) for as long as I can remember.

The Shad run also brings in these ocean fish and usually happens around the last of April or into May. I was taught that when the cottonwood puffs fall from the trees and can be seen floating on the surface of the water this means the shad are here or about to come on strong.

It is important to advise new people in the Yuba Sutter area who fish just how lucky we are to have so many rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs available for catching fish and to tell them where to go, what kind of bait to use and what species of fish are in the water. After all,


strength comes in numbers. We need all the support we can get when it comes to new fishing regulations we do not agree with or consider ridiculous.

Closing thought: “If you know you can do better................then do better.”


By Boots Johnson

I talked about old fishing lures last week so have decided to add a few more to the list. Fred Arbogast invented more lures, two of which were also my favorites and continually caught black bass. The Hawaiian Wiggler no. 2 was one of my favorites in the green/red color. This lure was a medium running lure consisting of a lead head, a spinner with weed less ability and the famous hula skirt. Another lure which continually caught a stringer of bass was the Sputterflux. This lure cast like a bullet due to its weight and was a surface lure which, like its name, made a heck of a lot of noise as it was retrieved. This lure, as stated above was heavy and as soon as it hit the water the pole was held as high as possible and reeling as fast as one was able to get the lure on the surface. My favorite color on this one was frog, which was painted so the frog was seen from under the water. Attached to the lure was a white skirt. Like the hula popper, the sputterflux was a kick to fish with due to the ripples one could see as the bass came from all over the pond to check out what was on the surface causing a disturbance. The lures came with an extra hook for attaching to catch short striking fish. I never used one due to the bass always devouring the lures. Besides the trailing hook always got hung up in the weeds or lily pads.

There was one thing about the rubber hula skirts. In hot weather the skirt would sort of soften up and then if it got hot enough they would semi-melt which made a mess of whatever they were in or next to.

We have good news for those who fish for trout in local rivers, streams and lakes in the North State. The Department of Fish and Wildlife has its trout planting program in full swing. The bad news is most of the fish are being released in the Southern part of the state. Plants were placed in the following Northern California waters last week: BUTTE COUNTY: Big Butte Creek; EL DORADO COUNTY: Upper Echo Lake, Icehouse Reservoir, Loon Lake and Sawmill Pond; GLENN COUNTY: Plaskett Meadows Pond; LASSEN COUNTY: Clear Creek, Goodrich Creek and the lower Susan River; NAPA COUNTY: Lake Berryessa; NEVADA COUNTY: Donner Lake; PLUMAS COUNTY: North Fork of the Feather River near Lake Almanor; TEHAMA COUNTY: South Fork of Battle Creek, Deer Creek and Gurnsey Creek.

Boots fishing tip for the week: ” Keep your shadow off the water when fishing for trout in streams.”


By Boots Johnson

The business of fishing has gone out of sight. We have lures that talk, swim and shudder when a real fish approaches. We have baits that smell any odor you wish to extend to the end of your line. In fact, the next generation of lures....or should I call them “something to catch a fish on”...will probably be a way to entice the fish population we have, as of this time, because some have never been seen in the water.

Now, let us go back a ways...................way back to the good old days..........when lures were first invented. Take the hula popper (which by the way was a killer for small and large mouth bass). Then let us discuss the famous jitterbug. Wow, what a lure. It was invented by a guy who made his name famous. Of course that was Fred Arbogast. His prototype was placed on the market in the 1930’s. This lure was deadly late in the evening and after dark. In fact the inventor of this lure suggested an angler use it after night fall. With the right retrieve and the right jerk it was deadly and of course it made its own noise and gurgle as it was pulled through the water. The jitterbug was a surface lure just like the hula popper. Then we have the lure which changed the way we fish and made us realize the value of sound in the water. I am referring to the famous Rat-L-Trap introduced by Bill Lewis back in the 1960’s. This lure was a huge success and is still available today. Try one and see what you will put in your live well or on your stringer.

I could go on and on about some of the famous lures, some of which have disappeared and those which are still available. Keep in mind however that same lure today will be different, not only in what it is made of, but also what it will cost. One more thing to discuss before we go to the next subject. I am referring to the Mirror-Lure which was a fantastic lure in its own right. This lure, when used the way the manufacturer suggested, was so great at enticing fish to strike, that some higher-ups in the world of fishing almost decided to outlaw the lure.

This is old news for some folks, but we decided to report on the release of almost a half million small steelhead into the American River. The little guys came from the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Nimbus fish hatchery which survived the drought and the high water problem the past two years.

Closing Thought: “Life is short so live it to its fullest”


By Boots Johnson

We decided to head up to Little Grass Valley above La Porte for some camping, fishing and riding of the quads. We learned about the new management, or should I say the management which took over the old ways, and discovered the rules. For one, you cannot ride your motorcycle or quad, in other words anything that is a motorized vehicle and not registered for highway use anywhere in the camping areas. All camping areas are designated as “restricted areas” and this covers just about everything except camping. No firearms area allowed which includes non-firing weapons such as bows and arrows. If you want to ride your off road vehicles they insist you load them up and go outside the camping areas. But wait a still cannot ride them on any paved road or other dirt or gravel roads unless they are designated as such on an official forest service map. Good luck.

The fishing on the lake at Little Grass Valley was a waste of time. We trolled for four hours last Tuesday morning with all kinds of lures, spinners, spoons and even broken back rapalas. We had four poles out, two on down riggers and two with lead line. We tried depth levels of 15 feet down to 50 feet and never got a strike. A run of the lakes boundaries failed to produce any excitement on the graph. The new state of the arts electronics just recently installed in the red boat failed to produce any fish, except for an occasional single show on the screen.

I stopped at the store in La Porte to make a purchase on my way down to the valley and was told the lake has been very slow, but there have been some fish caught in the river, both above and below the reservoir.

Our report on Fuller Lake last week once again prove to be wrong. Apparently the Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to plant the small lake last week. We assume they wanted to drop fish in the lake after the roads were repaired.

We are headed up to Lake Tahoe tomorrow (Monday) and will make a decision whether to charter a boat and fish Tahoe or drop down a bit to hit Donner Lake for the elusive Mackinaw Lake Trout. If we decide to hit either lake we will report our findings next week.

Boots fishing tip for the week: “Troll at different speeds to find out what the fish will strike on.”


By Boots Johnson

All the places we checked into this week had reports of good to great fishing. For instance, the stripers are still active in the Sacramento River as well as in the Feather. Shad are still in all rivers with the best bet being the American River. The spotted bass bite is still outstanding at Lake Oroville as well as Clear Lake, Shasta Lake (Shasta Dam) and other bodies of water.

If you decide to get out of the valley to avoid the upcoming heat wave we recommend Lake Almanor. Slow trolling here will get you fish for dinner. Also, it you go just about anywhere in Northern California in the foothills or high mountains you can expect creeks, streams and rivers running a bit high. Personally I am looking forward to some trout stream fishing around the end of June and after the big Fourth of July Holiday. Streams by then should be ideal.

The Squawfish Derby, which will be held this Saturday (June 17th), will offer lots of prizes amounting to $2500.00 worth to be exact. The cost per entry is $40.00 which will include a barbeque lunch and membership in the Guides and Sportsman’s Association. The derby will cover the Sacramento River from the Shasta Dam to Verona and on the Feather River from Verona to the Oroville Dam.

The object of this derby is to reduce the number of squawfish population due to their feeding on baby salmon and steelhead.

More can be obtained by calling Guide James Stone at (530) 923-9440. Other Guides in the Sacramento area are also available for information as well as Johnson’ Bait and Tackle in Yuba City.

Closing thought: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its only saps today of its joy.”


By Boots Johnson

We have reports from the after bay at Oroville. Water levels continue to go up and down a couple of feet on a regular basis which continually changes the water temperature which fluxuates 10 degrees at a time. This really messes up the bite and there is no indication, with the ongoing work at the spillway, when fishing will get any better. On the other hand the bass bite in the reservoir itself has been out of this world. Anglers are catching easy limits and some days are catching and releasing hundreds of bass.

The striped bass run is still among us even though many have spawned and are returning to ocean waters via the Delta. Water being released from the Oroville Dam, which is coming out of the bottom of the structure, is cold and will slow down the remaining spawn for late arrivals in the Feather River.

We hear from the Verona Area. This is where the Feather River joins the Sacramento River and is known as the mud line to many anglers. Striped bass were in this area last week and it appeared the best part of the Sacramento River to catch stripers.

Shad are in all local rivers at this time, but the hot spots seem to be along the American River in the Sacramento area. These feisty cousins of the tarpon have been taken on jigs, darts, spinners and spoons.

The road to Bowman Lake is now open and we have access to Fuller Lake on the way. However, our information a couple weeks ago was not true in regard to Fuller being planted with trout. This will not be done, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, until mid-July.

Now that we have the Memorial Weekend behind us the waters of lakes and reservoirs will once again be fishable. All the boat and recreational vessels last week really put the stop on fishing.

Donner Lake is outdoing Tahoe at this time. Mackinaw lake trout are being taken consistently up to six pounds in depths between 80 and 140 feet. In addition, the kokanee are also on the bite, but most fish are small, around 11 to 12 inches.

We hear from Folsom Lake. The reservoir is almost full at this time. Fishing has been slow. Expect better fishing from now into the summer months.

Boots fishing tip of the week: “reading the surface of the water is a good way to understand what lies beneath.”


By Boots Johnson

Reports tell us the striped bass fishing is still in full swing on the Feather and Sacramento Rivers. The best bet at this time is above Colusa on the Sacramento River and above the Yuba River on the Feather. Minnows are the name of the game and this also includes the dyed ones. Apparently there are products available which dye the live minnows which enable the striped bass to see them more quickly that the standard natural color. What next?

Many trout streams and rivers are coming into shape and will continue to get better for fishing as May leaves and the month of June is upon us. Catchable fish have been planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the following areas: BUTTE CREEK: Sly Creek Reservoir and Desabla Reservoir; EL DORADO COUNTY: Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, Silver Fork of the American River, Icehouse Reservoir and Union Valley Reservoir; NEVADA COUNTY: Fuller Lake, Donner Lake and Prosser Reservoir; PLUMAS COUNTY: Sly Creek Reservoir; SIERRA COUNTY: Lower Sardine Lake; SISKIYOU COUNTY: Lake Shasta and Kangaroo Lake; YUBA COUNTY: Sly Creek Reservoir.

We recommend, for those who head for the lakes, reservoirs and streams of Northern California to be extra cautious in regard to water conditions, snakes and wild animals. The past wet winter has changed some of the usual areas we intend to visit this time of year. Expect creek channels to be somewhat different in certain areas and other locations to be deeper than previous years. If you catch a hold over trout from last year the fish might be injured, missing a fin or have wounds. In regard to animals and reptiles, their world was turned upside down this past winter and do not be surprised to find them in areas which they are not usually found.

Closing thought: “Strength doesn’t come from what you can comes from overcoming the things you once thought you could not do.”


By Boots Johnson

Our trip to Bodega Bay last week was a blast in regard to limits of crabs for all. The wind played havoc with just about everything and everybody during the three days we were camped. The wind was so strong the night before we left it shook the toy hauler all night. Other than the wind the weather was ideal with cool mornings, nights and warm days. However, once the wind came up it was downright cold.

The latest announcement from the Department of Water Resources tells us the water release from Oroville Dam will be much lower. This is due to the level of water in the lake being low enough for no discharge from the spillway. They can still release water from the bottom of the reservoir, but not near as much as we have been experiencing since the high water. Expect the Feather River to stabilize and all should be aware of the hazards once the water is at its normal level. Meanwhile the shad have arrived and the stripers are active. Drifting minnows has been the ticket for striped bass. Shad darts, spinners and spoons are the way to go for the shad early in the morning and late in the evening.

Reports tell us the Sacramento River is putting out limits of Striped Bass. Teasdale Boat Ramp is open as well as others along the river. Live minnows are the best offering at this time. Anchored boats fishing with cut bait and pile worms are also scoring.

We hear from Lake Berryessa. Bass are on the bite and we have a report of some fish topping the ten pound and above score. Lake Oroville bass are also on the bite after the up and down water levels have finally subdued. Find a school of fish and they will hit just about anything thrown at them.

A primary pump at the Thermalito Facility of the Feather River Fish Hatchery at Oroville failed a couple weeks ago which resulted in the loose of some 200,000 to 300,000 small fall run Chinook Salmon. The quick response of Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel saved thousands if not millions of small salmon which will be released later on this year. These fish are the ones which were rescued in February during the high water at the main hatchery at the damaged Oroville Dam spillway and moved to Thermalito.

Those of us who have boats and fish the waters of California are reminded that we must have a lifetime California Boater Card when on state waterways. This card can be obtained by taking and passing an approved boating safety examination. This new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2018, will affect boaters 20 years of age and younger with the rest of us left to figure out when the date for those over 20 years of age will be required to take the exam and possess a card. More information can be obtained by going on line at

Boots fishing tip of the Week: “Never underestimate the unpredictable actions of wild game and fish.”


By Boots Johnson

A lot of years ago salmon could be found in just about any ditch that could hold water when the fish migrated upriver to spawn. It was common to find salmon in ditches that fed the rice fields. In fact my cousin Dick and I used to see them when pheasant hunting in November, their dark backs out of the water in the early morning sunlight. Most or I should say just about all of the salmon found in these areas were beat up and dark skinned. In other words they were on the verge of dying, which is natural for salmon. They come up the rivers to spawn and once this task is done they pass on.

Once in a while we could run into a fairly clean fish stuck in a narrow irrigation ditch in the middle of an alfalfa field. Back then my cousin Dick and me, he was nine years old and I was twelve, would be instructed by our folks to find a good one and “catch” it for dinner. By catch my Uncle Ralph told us to go into the barn for a pitch fork. The farm grew alfalfa so there were several forks available.

The drainage ditches were narrow, about two feet across, so straddling one was no problem. The problem was to get the fish to slow down enough so one of us could use the pitch fork like a spear and bring the fish unto dry ground. We accomplished this by me straddling the ditch with the pitchfork in hand and Dick getting past the fish and then wading down the ditch towards me. This caused the salmon to take off like a race car. It was difficult to hit the fish as it passed between my legs and we missed more than we hit and went back to the house emptyhanded.

When Dick or I, who ever had the fork, was successful we had our hands full. The salmon were fighters and it was a real job keeping the fish in that spot and finally tossing it on dry land. Back at the farmhouse my Aunt and Uncle, along with us kids helped cleaned the fish, cut salmon steaks and chunks and Uncle Ralph smoked the rest.

Back in the 40’s no one thought about breaking the law. Times were tough and it was a matter of feeding the family. We hunted and fished for most of our food and grew most of the vegetables.

In this day and age a person, even a boy would get into trouble fishing in the manner above. You might say it wasn’t fishing, but just bringing food to the table.

Closing thought: “Sometimes the best therapy is a long drive and music.”


fishing talk Valerie otten  5 10 17By Boots Johnson

Yuba City Angler Valerie Otten caught the first fish last Friday on the Feather River. We fished downstream drifting minnows. Her first fish was not only the first but the largest of the day. The Striped bass weighed in at 6 pounds and gave her a good fight. We saw a bunch of boats all over up and down the river with some anchored, others drifting minnows.

Ted Johnson donated his time and boat for the Annual K.A.S.T. 4 Kids Fishing Derby last Saturday at Collins Lake. We arrived at seven a.m. and later in the morning were assigned two young girls in the boat. They were sisters age 6 and 10 years of age. The fish did not cooperate and after several hours of fishing they wanted to return to shore. There was a good crowd and lots of raffle prizes and awards along with breakfast burritos and a barbeque lunch. Each child who entered the derby received a fishing pole and a tackle box full of fishing gear.

Eagle Lake is a natural lake not a reservoir but the high volume of rain and snow this year has raised the lake 5 feet which will enable things to get back to normal including the boat ramp at the south end of the lake. Trout fishing opens on May 27th. Eagle Lake is located near Susanville. More information can be obtained by calling (530)825-3133.

The boat ramp at the spillway at Lake Oroville will be closed due to the damaged spillway. The lake level continues to drop so repairs can be made. Release from the reservoir has been reduced, but there is still a bunch of water coming down the Feather River.

The shad have been reported in the Sacramento River below Sacramento and the run this year is expected to reach the American, Feather and Yuba Rivers anytime. Jigs are always popular to catch these fish but this year with all the high water it might take more weight to get down to the bottom.

Reports tell us there are many access roads to lakes and reservoirs in the high country are still closed due to snow. Best bet is to call ahead before you go.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has been busy with their trout planting program. The following lakes and streams were planted last week. NEVADA COUNTY: Rollins Reservoir; PLACER COUNTY: Sugar Pine Reservoir and Rollins Resevoir; SHASTA COUNTY: Lower, middle and upper Burney Creek; Clark Creek, Little Cow Creek, Grace Lake, Middle and Upper Hat Creek, Hatchet Creek, Keswick Canal, Montgomery Creed, Nora Lake, Rock Creek below Britton and the Sacramento River. TEHAMA COUNTY: South Fork of Battle Creek, Deer Creek and Gurnsey Creek.

Boots fishing tip for the week: “Don’t forget to put in the drain plug and remove the tie downs before you launch your boat.”


fishintalk5 3 17By Boots Johnson

The striped bass run is in full swing and there are many happy faces out there. One in particular is Grass Valley Angler Ken Malott who was invited to come down and fish with Ted Johnson last Thursday. They fished the Feather River drifting minnows when Ken got into a big fifteen pound striper. It was his first striper and was a beauty. Congratulations, Ken! Many more fish were caught and released except for two legal size bass which were kept for dinner.

Collins Lake will hold its second annual Family Fishing Derby on Saturday, May 6th starting at 7 a.m. until noon. A free barbeque will be held during the weigh in time. Prizes will be awarded, including cash awards for the adult anglers. Kids will be awarded miscellaneous prizes. A raffle is also planned. Pre-registration is $25.00 for adults and $5.00 for children by going on line at Tickets will also be available at the site and will cost $5.00 more. In addition, participants must pay applicable day use fees at the lake and a fishing license is required according to state laws.

The opening weekend of the general trout season is behind us. Those who went found their favorite trout stream, creek or river running high with some areas high in elevation still snowed in. Some rivers, such as the Middle Fork of the Feather are running at flood stage. We are looking at June this year for some decent stream conditions.

Mackinaw lake trout are on the move at Lake Tahoe with fish running in the four to seven pound range and a ten pound fish now and then for big thrills. Most fish are being caught in 200 feet of water at this time.

We hear from Lake Almanor at Chester. Winter conditions, which have made fishing this reservoir difficult, are finally showing signs of spring weather. Trout are being caught as well as some bass.

If you have plans to head up to Fuller Lake above Bear Valley off of state highway 20, you had better hold off due to road work underway. The road to Bowman Lake, which goes right by Fuller, is closed to traffic until June 1, 2017. This makes the lake inaccessible by vehicle.

We advise everyone to stay off the Thermalito After bay below Oroville. The water is still dirty, has lots of debris and is dangerous at this time. Those who are familiar with this body of water are also encouraged to find another lake or reservoir to fish.

Lake Oroville still continues to drop down and the water is full of debris. The bass fishing has been poor due to the constant dropping of the lake level. The Department of Water Resources has announced a reduction in water release which might bring on the bass bite once the fish are able to remain in areas instead of constantly moving with the water levels.

Closing thought: “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”


By Boots Johnson

Striped bass are running strong in the Feather River at this time. Lots of fish being caught with some in the 20 to 40 pound range. The fish are hitting on cut bait, pile worms and minnows. A few sturgeons have also been caught in the Feather.

We expect Shad to be in local rivers any day now. These fish normally show up in the Sacramento River about now and the fish are expected to be in all rivers by the end of April.

Local river guide Jimmy Zanocco passed away on April 6th. Jimmy was one of the first guides in our area and he was an amazing man. We send our thoughts and our condolences to his family. Rest in Peace, Jimmy.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife have been busy preparing for the upcoming trout opener the last Saturday of April. So far plants have been placed in the Sacramento River and McCloud River in Siskiyou County; Kilarc Reservoir and the Sacramento River in Shasta County and the Susan River in Lassen County along with plants in the southern part of the state.

Reservoirs in the North State are beginning to clear up which means good fishing now into early summer. Our weather source has stated to expect light rains in the next week on the valley floor, but has advised we should not have a lot of the wet stuff. This is good news due to the huge pile of snow yet to melt and make it way down the mountains into the reservoir system.

As we stated earlier the ocean salmon count is low enough to force authorities to either close the season or restrict it to a shorter time frame.

I personally have had my share of close calls with rattlesnakes. The snakes are out now and will be in unusual areas due to the high water conditions. Rattlers are active from April to October with their living areas covering from the Pacific Ocean to the Nevada Dessert. These poisonous snakes will attempt to avoid you unless you try to pick them up or surprise them in any way and of course if you corner them. Be aware they could be found this year inside city limits and in subdivisions. If you get bitten, try to stay calm and get the victim to the nearest medical facility ASAP. More information is available at the California Poison Control System at (800) 222-1222.

CLOSING THOUGHT: “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”