By Boots Johnson

The name of the game now is Crappie at Collins Lake. The fish are on the move and are striking anything that shines in the water along with jigs and worms. One of my favorite crappie lures is a jig or small spinner with white color.

A spot check at local reservoirs resulted in the following report: FOLSOM LAKE is almost full and the lake is also full of skiers and wave runners. Anglers are around early in the morning with some good results catching fish on the north shore using plastic lures. BULLARDS RESERVOIR is still on the bite for kokanee but action has slowed down at this time. ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVIOR has a few anglers out on the water but the action has been slow. CAMP FAR WEST RESERVOIR fishing has slowed down. Spotted bass which are being caught range between one and a half pounds up to around two pounds. LAKE OROVILLE king salmon have decided to slow down a bit and the bite has done the same. Bass are being caught casting to shore and retrieving your lure back to the boat. However, the bass bite is on again off again with one day being successful and the next day getting skunked. The fishing at SCOTT’S FLAT RESERVOIR has really slowed down at this time.

Trout have been planted all over the state with the following local waters receiving catchable trout: BUTTE COUNTY: Big Butte Creek; EL DORADO COUNTY: Echo Lake and Stumpy Meadows Reservoir; NEVADA COUNTY: Donner Lake Park, Coldstream Park and Prosser Reservoir; PLUMAS COUNTY: North Fork of the Feather River, Antelope Reservoir, Snake Lake and Lake Almanor; SIERRA COUNTY: South Fork of the Yuba River at Downieville; TEHAMA COUNTY: South Fork of Battle Creek and Deer Creek.

Closing thought: “The virtue of a good person is the ability to be helpful while also minding their own business.”


By Boots Johnson

We have reports of a good striper bite at Butte City on the Sacramento River as well as local fish being available on the Feather River near Shanghai Bend.

Up Lake Tahoe way the big mackinaw lake trout are cooperating both at the North and South shores. Kokanee Salmon are also hitting. Reports also tell us some rainbow and brown trout are also in the mix.

Lake Almanor has settled down and has a good small mouth bass bite underway. This is the time of year to catch huge rainbow and brown trout trolling any lure which resembles a minnow. Best bet is to troll slowly with downriggers or lead line.

Mountain stream, river and creek flows are excellent at this time with ideal conditions for trout. We suggest if you go to concentrate on early morning and late evening fishing to get the best results. Also, look for insect hatching and imitate these bugs for fresh trout in the frying pan.

Speaking of trout fishing. I recall a trip up to Poorman Creek many years ago. Poorman Creek is located in Nevada County near the small community of Washington off of State Route 20 above Nevada City. We stopped at Washington Creek on the way in to collect some hellgrammites and continued through Washington, then up the hill past the old lumber mill and log pond, then around the mountain past the old dump into the canyon to Poorman Creek. This small creek was inhabited mostly by rainbow trout. Catching a brown trout was maybe once a year if you were lucky.

Bill and I had a limit of fish by mid-morning. We ate our lunch, cleaned up the mess someone else had left behind and headed home. On the way out on the gravel road we were stopped by a game warden. After he inspected the fish and checked our fishing licenses he made note of the trash lying in back of the pickup. We advised him we had cleaned up the area at the stream. He was very happy for what we did and told us if everyone did the same the forests and steams would certainly be cleaner and much more sanitary.

Closing thought: “Forgiveness, no matter how long it takes, really is a gift you give yourself.”


By Boots Johnson

We decided to purchase a new travel trailer, something a little more comfortable than the toy hauler. Two weeks later my sons, Ted and Dan, Jr. both decided the old man could not outdo them and both purchased a new or newer rig.

My son Ted, his wife Holly and Val and I decided to take the new rigs for a weekend “shakedown” run. Ted checked out the close camp sites and decided on the Sycamore Ranch area. The camp ground is located off of State Highway 20 just past the Marysville Road turnoff on the way to Grass Valley.

The camping area is located next to Dry Creek about a couple hundred yards above where the creek enters the Yuba River. The area has full hookups and was quite nice camping right next to Dry Creek. Now the reason for this story appearing in a fishing column.

We had just finished setting up camp last Friday Afternoon when a very loud splash was heard right in front of our camp. My son Ted yelled, “Did you see that?” I responded with a negative note but yelled to him that I had heard the splash and saw the ripples. We did not know what kind of fish it was until Saturday morning, which did not stop me from throwing a line tipped with a whole night crawler.Ted got a good look at the fish when it jumped again. He advised it was a black bass and the next thing I observed was his fishing pole in hand and a fine cast right where the fish had been feeding. I was close behind him and plugged the area, changing lures while in the process.

We attempted to lure the big boy into hitting one of our lures and finally on Saturday evening Ted had a strike, but lost the fish after a short fight.

The creek is wide, about thirty yards or so with deadfall in certain parts of the banks. This was a perfect place for both large and small mouth bass as well as perch and catfish. Along about dusk an angler came down the stream in a kayak, one of those with peddles for power, like a bicycle and fished the hole where we had seen the big bass feeding. He final gave up and left heading back upstream empty handed.

Ted and I fished for that bass until we left on Sunday morning and never got even a nibble except for Ted’s pulldown on Saturday.

Sycamore Ranch Campground is run by Yuba County and is well kept and sits in a grove of trees and brush. We enjoyed the visit, got our new rigs checked out, and had a blast trying to catch the “Big One.”

We were entertained by all kinds of wildlife, including ducks, geese, turtles, a lone kingfisher, cranes, miscellaneous wild birds and pelicans. The highlight of the trip was the herd of deer that appeared just

before dark on Saturday night and then a single doe on Sunday Morning all directly across from our camp.

Closing Thought: “ Sometimes people make you laugh a little louder, your smile a little brighter and your life a little bit better. Try to be one of those people.”


By Boots Johnson

Eagle Lake, located near the town of Susanville, opened last Saturday. This natural lake is famous for its eagle lake trout population which has thrived on the alkaline water present in this lake. There is a hatchery....located at the lake, which places many trout into the lake. This trout is so agile and strong that they have been placed them in many reservoirs throughout the State of California.

We figure it is time for the trout plant throughout the Golden State............so her goes the latest report: Butte COUNTY: Butte Creek; LASSEN COUNTY: Clear Creek, Lower Goodrich Creek and lower Susan River; PLUMAS COUNTY: North Fork of the Feather River (Lake Almanor); SHASTA COUNTY: Keswick Canal, Grace Lake, Kilarc Reservoir and Nora Lake; TEHAMA COUNTY: Deer Creek, South Fork of Battle Creek and Gurnsey Creek.

Folsom Lake still in the rise and fishing is improving on this reservoir. Reports tell us the Department of Fish and Wildlife are about to plant this body of water. If we can..........due to this being a weekly paper.........will let you know firsthand.

Locally, Collins Lake and Englebright Reservoir are doing quite well on the trout catch. Both these reservoirs have their own caged trout, releasing them for the success of anglers. Expect, when you decide to go to either one, to find a monster trout available to a chosen few who are dropping their lines or trolling in the right spot. We expect some records to be made in these two Sacramento foothill reservoirs in the coming months.

Closing thought: “The world if full of nice people....if you cannot find one..Be one.”


By Boots Johnson

My son Ted and I headed up to Little Grass Valley Reservoir, above La Porte, to check on our reserved sites at Red Feather Camp Ground. The sites were big enough for our new trailers so we checked out the lake, the south fork of the Feather River and other campgrounds. The gate to Red Feather was closed so we walked in. The rest of the campgrounds were being cleaned up. The Lake was beautiful, almost full and the surface was like glass. The south fork of the Feather was running about right with no white water.

We stopped at One Eye Jack’s Restaurant in Camptonville on the way back down the hill for lunch. It was a kick to see all the old tools, posters and other artifacts throughout the store and eatery. The service was great and the food was delicious. Apparently they make all their entries from scratch. I highly recommend a stop on the way up the hill if you are in need of forgotten groceries or a good meal.

Striped Bass are still in the system with the Sacramento being the best bet at this time. Shad are plentiful and can be taken just about in any river in the valley with the Feather River being the best. These fish are fighters and will hit anything thrown at them, including spinners, jigs, flies and bait. Best bet it to pick up some shad flies or jigs at your local tackle shop. As far as the striper fishing goes we hear the best bet, at this time, on the Sacramento River is near Verona up to Grimes.

Reservoirs in the Northern part of the state are beginning to produce trout, kokanee, bass and kings on a regular basis and should just get better. Stampede Reservoir, at this time, is a hot spot for Kokanee Salmon. The big Mack’s who live in Tahoe are on the prowl and are being caught up to 17 pounds.

Closing thought: “Celebrate every victory........Big or Small.”


By Boots Johnson

June is just around the corner which means the beginning of summer and the camping season, which includes the world of fishing. I have always enjoyed the first part of June because it is not hot yet and the big push for camping doesn’t get underway until school is out. Now July is an entirely different situation as far as lake and reservoir fishing goes. By the time July gets here it is usually hot in the Sacramento Valley and foothills and very warm up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I have a boat and just about everyone I associate with has some kind of vessel to fish lakes and reservoirs. I have noticed one problem with people who fish from boats. Almost all anglers who fish from a boat will troll. Now I have nothing against trolling but sometimes a person can troll all day and come back to camp skunked. Fish are like us humans.....some days they are just not in the mood to chase a lure or go out of their way feeding unless something is placed right in front of their noses. These times are the time to anchor up and fish with live bait or jig. One of my favorite baits is night crawlers, either the full sizes variety or mini-crawlers. Of course, salmon eggs, power bait and other baits will work also. So remember when you troll all morning long with negative results park the boat and fish with bait.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife are busy planting fish all over California. The following waters, located in Northern California received plants last week. BUTTE COUNTY: Paradise Reservoir; EL DORADO COUNTY: Loon lake and Ice House Reservoir; LAKE COUNTY: Pillsbury Reservoir; LASSEN COUNTY: Lower Susan River and Lower Goodrich Creek; NEVADA COUNTY: Rollins Reservoir and Blair Lake; Halsey Forebay; SHASTA COUNTY: Clear Creek, Whiskeytown Lake, Grace Lake, Upper Bailey Creek, Nora Lake, North Battle Creek Reser voir and Keswick Canal. TEHAMA COUNTY: South Fork of Battle Creek, Deer Creek and Gurnsey Creek. YUBA COUNTY: Collins Lake.

Closing thought: “Your attitude belongs to you. It is your choice if you want to have a good one.”


By Boots Johnson

There are two Children’s Fishing Derby’s this month. The Officials at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area have announced May 12th as the Derby. Gray Lodge is located near Gridley. The address is 3207 Rutherford Road. The event starts at 7 A.M. and ends at 12 noon. Children 15 and under can compete for the biggest fish. This is a free event with bait and fishing poles available. Additional information can be obtained by calling the Gridley Recreation Department at 846-7505. Tours are also planned throughout the day.

The second Fishing Derby is the Annual Kiwana’s Club Kid’s Fishing Derby to be held at Ellis Lake in Marysville starting at 8:30 A.M. until 11:30 A.M. on May 19th. Children 3 to 15 years of age are invited with registration from 6:30 A.M. until 9:00 A.M. Bait will be provided and children must bring their own poles and fishing tackle. Breakfast will be served. Kids will have the opportunity to catch catfish in the lake and trout in the holding tubs.

This event has been ongoing for over 50 years and was created to inspire children in the community to learn to fish and to provide safe and fun times for the entire family. Call Dale at 635-0046 for more information.

The lead fishing weight ban bill, which we listed several weeks ago, has been amended. Assembly Bill 2787 was changed from a ban to a study of lead and the potential impact of the substance on California Wildlife. The bill was voted on as amended and passed.

Shad are showing up in local rivers and should only get better as the month continues into June.

We have reports from the Sacramento River in the vicinity of the Red Sea. The water temperature yesterday (Friday) was 66 degrees and the striped bass were spawning all over the river.

Closing thought: “Take a youngster fishing at one of the above kid’s fishing derbies.”


By Boots Johnson

Now is the time of year when just about every species of fish in Northern California are alert, hungry and spawning. Put this fact together and you have outstanding fishing in just about all waters in the northern state. This time of year we do not ask where to fish but when and how to get it done.

Reports tell us the striped bass run has shifted, although fish are still being caught in the Feather River, to the Sacramento River. The minnow bite is in full swing and we are told some of the fish have spawned with more on the way from the ocean.

Several times over the years I have advised about the danger of our local rivers. One of the dangers I talked about is placing and pulling anchor. This is often done before first light or after dusk as well as throughout the day in between. This is the time when there is a danger of falling overboard due to a person being at the bow of the boat, standing off balance and the boat is usually moving, especially when dropping the anchor. I have always advised wearing a life jacket when performing this task. All it takes is to fall into the water, which is cold, very cold, suck in a mouthful of water and fight the weight of the clothes you are wearing, which more than likely will include a jacket in the early morning hours. The worse thing of all is for the other anglers, hearing the splash in the water will assume it is the anchor noise so familiar to those who fish our rivers, not a human being in trouble. We must also consider the speed of the current, the undertow and underwater debris. It only takes a second or two to put on that life jacket. The insurance, if you or one of your buddies falls in, is a no brainer. Think about this and please be careful and safe on any river any time of the day.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has been busy planting trout for last week’s opener. It is very probable that your favorite trout stream or reservoir has lots of fish left from the plant.

Closing Thought: “Memories....While the rest of the world moves on they remain one of life’s most precious gifts.”


By Boots Johnson

We lost a great guy and a super fishing guide as well as an expert on local rivers. When Jimmy Zanocco passed away so many people, both anglers and friends grieved for him. A monument has been placed in the vicinity of Boyd’s Pump boat dock, near the power lines, in his honor.

Supervisor Jim Whiteaker said it all at a recent dedication ceremony.....”It’s been a pleasure and honor to work on this project for the last seven months and today to see it come to fruition was truly gratifying. I wanted to do this for Jimmy Zanocco to memorialize his over 40 years as a fishing guide on our rivers. His passion for fishing was a true testament of what he shared with others.”

“ I had a lot of help along the way in making sure this project was completed. I used all local services that had a personal connection with the Zanocco Family. I would like to thank MKM, Steve Overton for his design and Manufacturing. Jas Thiara, M.I.S. for graciously allowing us to use all his equipment and to Recology for their overwhelming funding support. Jerome Circo and George Pappas for their total support and for approving the project design. To Gil and Drew Stresser for their financial contributions as well as site approval. To the Yuba City Parks and Recreation Foundation for allocating all the funds to complete the project and to Diane Langley, City of Yuba City, for site access. Mike Animine, SBFCA, for the site approval and to Kevin Lovell and Larry for operating all the equipment. “

“Because of all of you this monument will stand for future generations to see and know you were a part of something very special in our community.”

Closing thought: “Catch one in memory of Jimmy.”


By Boots Johnson

The Feather River is finally on the clear side and the boats are all over the place. Striped Bass Fever has hit the Hub Area in full swing. Fish are being caught on both the Feather and the Sacramento Rivers. The bass are going for pile worms, cut bait and of course live Minnows. Some days fishing with bait will leave the stringer empty, but drifting live minnows seems to almost always bring home the bacon.

The trout that live in the waters of Collins Lake are on a huge bite. All those planted trout are really putting smiles on the faces of young and old alike. It is common to see limits of fish every day. The winner now is power bait and the place is not on the lake trolling but fishing from shore. Some large trout have been taken up to five pounds and every once in a while you get a surprise with a nice crappie on the end of your line.

Catfish are also on the prowl. Just ask Yuba City angler Bob Arfsten. Bob pulled a huge catfish out of the lake. The big cat weighed in at a whopping thirteen pounds, four ounces. The location of the catfish at Collins Lake is unknown. Congratulations to you, Bob!

Scott’s Flat Reservoir received a trout plant last week and reports tell us the fish are still being taken all over the lake.

Bullard’s Bar Reservoir reports good fishing for Kokanee salmon but the bite has slowed. The bass in the lake are on the move and are hitting a variety of lures in shallow water.

The lead fishing weight bill, which we discussed in an earlier report, has stalled in Sacramento. Some folks think it is sitting still at this time due to the flood of protests from anglers all over the State.

Closing thought: “Sometimes it is just better to remain silent and smile.”


Rising water in the Feather River had lots of anxious anglers dropping boats in the water at Mosquito Beach and the Yuba City Boat Dock. Last Saturday the area from Riverfront Park down to where the Yuba River enters the Feather had boats everywhere, including bank fishermen. The water level has been going up and down so much that the fish have not been cooperating.

The opener of trout for the Sierra Mountain streams, rivers and creeks is just around the corner. The best time to score on trout is in the last hour of light. Evening fishing has always been a favorite with veteran trout anglers. This is the chance to catch a big fish and is usually not crowded due to most all anglers being back in camp sipping suds or cooking dinner. This special hour will have the wind slow down, the heat of the day disappears and as stated above, the area is not crowded.

Thousands of trout will be planted throughout the spring, summer and fall. Trout plants are done for anglers to catch the fish, but there is always some that do not get caught. These holdover trout will learn very quickly about hiding, feeding and everything else a wild trout does. These fish will also firm up and be much more difficult to catch. This is why it is a good idea to target these trout after all the anglers go home. Some people feel the streams, rivers and lakes are fished out, but there is still fish there for taking and they make it a challenge because they are no longer stupid planted fish but experienced, wary trout that have learned how to stay away from the angler’s creel.

Closing thought: “Vegetarian is an old Indian name for bad hunting.”


By Boots Johnson

The Department of Water Resources released water last week to help the salmon smelt which were released near Yuba City. The increase in the river has turned on the striper bite from Starr Bend to around the Bear River. Of course, the salmon minnows also added in bringing up the fish.

We have reports, which are a week old, that sturgeon have been taken in the Feather River.

Waters are clearing in the Sacramento River. Expect the striper bite to turn on when this happens. The water temperature has also come up a bit which will also add to the activity of the bass.

The Knights Landing Sportsman’s Club will host their annual Striper Derby on April 26th and 27th 2018. They have expanded the fishing areas to the Sacramento and Feather Rivers and the Delta. Prizes will be awarded starting with the first award of $300.00. Weigh in will be on Saturday at 6 P.M. and on Sunday at 1 P.M. at the K.L.S.C. clubhouse located on 9270 Railroad Street in Knights Landing. Lunch will be provided on Sunday along with the prizes and a raffle. Must be present to win. Entry fee is $35.00 per person due by April 27th by mail to 172 Stone Way, Woodland, Calif. 95695. Information can be obtained by calling Les Young at (530) 662-2165.

Congratulations to Yuba City Angler Klint Schroeder on his catch of a 10 ½ pound catfish while fishing on the east side of Collins Lake. The big cat fell for sardines.

Closing thought: “Forget the mistake.....remember the lesson.”


By Boots Johnson

Wednesday, April 11th is the first class of the E.C. Powell Fly Fishers introduction to fly fishing. The classes will continue the same day each week for four classroom sessions. The classes will be held from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M. Interested parties should contact the Yuba City Parks and Recreation Department at 1201 Civic Center or call 822-4850 for more information. The classes will cover all of the basics of fly fishing including rods, lines and knot tying. Basic casting instructions will also be included along with different types of flies, their use and more.

The following waters have received planted trout: EL DORADO COUNTY: Folsom Lake; NEVADA COUNTY: Englebright Reservoir, Rollins Reservoir and Scotts Flat Reservoir; PLACER COUNTY: Lake Valley Reservoir; SACRAMENTO COUNTY: Folsom Lake and YUBA COUNTY also in Englebright Reservoir.

It appears the opener for the general trout season will be met with somewhat better conditions due to the recent storms. Runoff should have lots of water in the high country with runoff being a lot better that a month ago. We certainly will not see, or I feel this way, April conditions in June. Expect, for all of you out there who stream fish, including this writer, to see good waters and hungry trout at the opening at the end of April. Good luck and happy fishing!

As the cold weather slowly goes away we all look forward to spring and summer. However, this year could very well be another surprise with winter turning into summer without the wonderful feeling of spring. This has happened before and we all must live with constant changes. No matter what Mother Nature throws at us we will be positive and plan on catching fish to barbeque, fry or bake at our favorite campground or backyard.

See you on the water and best regards to you and your family.

Closing Thought: “Don’t let the world distract you from the things that really matter.”


By Boots Johnson

It has been very cold out there this week with snow dropping down to 4000 feet. However, the trout have finally been on the bite at Collins Lake above Browns Valley with some nice trout being taken with some fish being turned in up to seven pounds. Best bet, according to our source, is to troll shallow or bank fish on the beach or near the dam.

Snow is still around at Lake Almanor but boats doing the fast troll are picking up some fish at the north end of the lake. This source advised rainbow and brown were taken but the fishing at this reservoir has been tough. In addition, they expect more snow and/or rain in the upcoming week.

Mackinaw and rainbow trout are hitting at Donner Lake. The snow is down to the water and most success is fishing from shore. The ramps have been plowed.

If you want to catch a mackinaw lake trout we suggest you head up to Lake Tahoe. At this time limits are common. Best bet is to leave the boat home and charter a boat from one of the marinas. We are told the fish are hitting all over the lake.

If you plan on going up to stampede Reservoir any time soon we advise you to change your plans. The area is snowed in with some water available for bank fishing by snow mobile.

We hear from Bullard’s Bar Reservoir. Lots of bass being caught but most are small. Expect things to improve later on when the rains stop.

We advise holding off on fishing Camp Far West at this time. The water temperature three days ago was below 50 degrees.

Closing Thought: ‘ Be sure to put your feet in the right place and stand firm.” Abe Lincoln


By boots Johnson

The recent storms and colder weather has changed many areas for fishing. The Sacramento River is running at 55 degrees at the time of this writing. Striped Bass are not on the bite and the sturgeon are also not cooperating. We need some warmer weather for the striper bite to take off. Water temperature in the Feather River is about the same with cold water.

We recommend a phone call in advance to any trip to the high country. Snow has closed some roads and made boat ramps inaccessible in some lakes and reservoirs. In addition, the big snowfall last week has actually closed some waters even from shore. If you have a snowmobile and warm clothing you will be able to reach that favorite high elevation lake or reservoir.

We hear from Bullard’s Bar Reservoir. The recent cold spell has really slowed down the bass bite. The boats on Collins Lake are few and far between and the lake is full of recently released rainbow trout. Englebright Reservoir is putting out some trout with trollers doing the best at this time. One thing about Englebright is it is an on again, off again situation. Some days produce limits, other days the fish are off the bite.

Up Tahoe way the mackinaw lake trout are hungry but the weather is very cold with snow on the ground right down next to the water. Lake Almanor has also had its share of snow with over 18 inches of snow falling last week. Boat ramps should be plowed by this time. Expect cold water conditions.

Our weather source advises to enjoy the sun and the warmer weather this week. By mid-week we are told the rains will return to the Sacramento Valley and more than likely snow to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Closing thought: “The most practical thing in the world is common sense and common humanity.”


By Boots Johnson

Things changed dramatically last week when the rain came, the snow fell and the wind blew throughout the Valley floor, the foothills and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The heavy storm, which has changed the minds of many in regard to drought or water shortages, reminded me of past Februarys which dumped rain and snow in the North State. In fact some years were flood years in February, including 1986. This past week just goes to show us that Mother Nature is very unpredictable. In fact, our weather source says the rains will return next week with precipitation continuing off and on into April.

We hear from the DFW (Department of Fish and Wildlife) in Sacramento. They predict another small run of king salmon in the Sacramento River this year. This also includes the Feather, Bear, American and Yuba rivers which flow into the Sacramento River. We were told the returning salmon will be so low that the state is considering reducing limits, closing endangered areas and placing different dates and/or times anglers can fish for salmon.

The drought has been blamed for part of the problem which reduced flows of all rivers in Northern California. The drop in returning fish will also have an effect on ocean fishing, both commercial and sports fishing this year. Regulations are due out in the next couple of weeks and at that time we will see what the decisions are and how it will affect our areas of water.

A while back this column discussed the outlawing of lead in fishing lures and equipment. Well folks, it has happened in Sacramento. Assembly bill 2787, introduced by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, who by the way lives in the Bay Area, if passed will add to the rules and regulations so many anglers find unfair, complicated and downright wrong. This is another reason persons who used to fish have quit. The number of fishing licensed sold today is one half as many as in the past and we expect more to just throw in the towel and give it up.

This is a sad and unhappy situation and if you wish to voice your opinion on the latest slam against us who fish you can call Assemblyman Bill Quirk at (916) 319-2020 or fax him at (916) 319-2120. He can also be reached at State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, California, 94249-0020. He has indicated he will not respond to emails outside of his district, which includes the Yuba Sutter area.

Closing thought: “The world is full of nice people, if you cannot find one be one.”


By Boots Johnson

We checked on the stream conditions in the high country. This includes rivers, creeks and streams. We found conditions now are a month ahead of schedule which means by the time the season opens the end of April we will be dealing with summer conditions with low water and all the rest which comes with not much snow for runoff and rain on the slim side.

While on the subject of trout fishing in the high country it reminds me when I was introduced to stream fishing as a lad of only seven years old. I had a good teacher and my Dad had me catching limits of rainbow trout in my first year on a trout stream.

Back then we used a double hook setup. You could buy the leaders with the two loops, one for each hook. My Dad taught me how to fly fish and to use the double hook setup with natural colored salmon eggs. The eggs were flesh in color and had a strong smell about them. We would fly fish from first light to around 9 A.M. and then switch to the eggs.

I remember the first time I was shown how to use the double setup with only one egg and a fly or jig on the bottom. I was told this was a way to tempt the fish and I caught many trout with this method. Dad always told me that trout sometimes are not on the bite and a double offering sometimes will catch fish.

Dan had a special spinner he kept in his creel. It was a copper/stainless combination blade with three red beads and a treble hook. I will never forget the day we were returning to camp, came upon the pool which completely changed the direction of the creek. Dad motioned to me to be quiet and he sneaked up about six or seven feet from the water and cast that spinner. He got no results so he tied an egg hook about 12 to 14 inches below the spinner, attaching the leader to the treble hook. On his second cast with that setup he set the hook on what turned out to be a beautiful rainbow trout which measured on the de-liar scale at 18 ¾ inches. I learned an important lesson from my Dad that morning. Use your imagination with presentation and when he released that beauty back into the water it started my positive thinking about catch and release, which I have been doing for the last 74 years.

Closing thought: “Distance does not separate people, silence does.”


By Boots Johnson

This time of year we are always discussing the fish which move up river to spawn. This includes salmon, steelhead, striped bass, shad and others. These runs certainly get one heck of a lot of anglers excited but there are fish which live here year round in the waters of the foothills and valleys of Northern California.

Catfish swim in all waters in the North State, as well as in the South, and are good fighters and excellent food fare. In fact, many folks prefer a catfish fillet for dinner over other fish.

A long time ago my Grandfather and Uncle would go out into the Sutter Buttes and bring home a half dozen or so dead jack rabbits. (Jack rabbits were so common back then it was easy to see a hundred or more in a single morning). After field dressing the animals and both ingredients and carcass are left out in the sun for a week or so, they were placed in a gunny sack, along with several large rocks, and thrown into local ditches, streams and bypasses. After several days we would go fishing for catfish close by the chum. Some very large fish were caught with this method, which by the way is illegal now.

Stink baits have been used for catfish for a long time. This concoction used to be home made and everyone had his or her own recipe. Nowadays you can purchase all different kinds of catfish bait at the local sporting goods store, but some of us still prefer our own mixture and we all know good catfish bait must stink. Another reason to make your own bait is no one has it.

We highly recommend if you decide to make your own catfish bait that you do it away from the house and never mix up a concoction in the kitchen. In fact, the containers you use should be ones that will not be used for anything else. Most stink baits have a base of melted cheese mixed with some kind of meat and spices. Garlic is a favorite. I know of several anglers who used to poke holes in canned dog food and drop it in the water. Again, I believe this is illegal today.

Finally, the bait must be of the consistency to melt away underwater which will get the smell to the fish and draw them to the area. Baits can be placed inside cheesecloth or dip a sponge into the mess. The other important thing to consider of the bait must stay on the hook.

Closing thought: “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan


By Boots Johnson

The recent cold spell last weekend slowed the bite a bit but warmer weather should return by mid-week. Expect the fishing in local reservoirs to pick up when trout are planted in mid-February.

Reports still keep coming in for the sturgeon population in the Sacramento River which is improving but local anglers are still waiting for the big rush of fish. Best bet is to find a spot between Verona and Colusa at this time. However, as reported last week there are lots of boats in the water around Verona and Knights Landing with some success. In addition, sturgeon has been reported above Colusa as well. This all goes to say that the Sacramento River has sturgeon throughout the system.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife are planting catchable trout in Jenkinson Lake and Mather Lake as well as Ranch Seco Lake. Jenkinson is located in Placer County and other two in Sacramento County.

The mackinaw lake trout in Tahoe and Donner Lakes are on the bite and have many happy faces showing up at marinas. Expect this bite to slow until the warmer weather returns.

Closing Thought: “Wrinkles means you laughed. Gray hair means you cared and scars mean you have lived.”


By Boots Johnson

Collins Lake near Browns Valley will be planting their spring caged trout starting on February 12th. Fish have been taken in the last week with limits expected any time now. If it is bass you are after we recommend fishing near the dam. This area has been producing nice bass the last week or so.

We have reports of sturgeon showing up in the Sacramento River. The hot spots on the river are Knights Landing and Verona. These two areas usually produce fish on a regular basis but once the word gets out the boats show up in large numbers. Let’s face the facts..........there are not enough sturgeon in comparison to the number of boats in the river.

The spotted bass at Bullard’s Bar Reservoir are now in the pre-spawning mode. Records have been broken in this lake three years during this time of year. Expect lots of activity, but the chance for a big fish is at Bullard’s.

Striped bass are still moving into the north side of the Delta which means the spring run is about to happen. Best bet on the main Sacramento River is cut bait or pile worms. In Suisun Bay area just about any type of bait is producing some sturgeon. We suggest a combination of baits be offered for the big boys.

We advise you check before you head up in the high country. Things should be clearing up now after the recent storms, but some reservoirs, including Stampede, Lake Tahoe and Jackson Meadows, were either snowed in or adverse weather made it difficult to fish this past week.

There is an old saying that you have to be in the right spot at the right time to score big on whatever type of fish you are after. However, we believe scouting ahead as well as checking conditions is a big part of catching a limit of fish. I have fished lakes and reservoirs which only held fish in certain areas. The rest of the water was a waste of time. Knowing this fact will eliminate the need to spend countless hours finding the fish. We also firmly believe your eyes, ears and nose works great finding, seeing, smelling and hearing active fish.

Closing thought: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire......you cannot go anywhere until you change it.”