Captain Scott Feist (530) 822-6314

Captain Kevin Brock  800 995-5543

March 02, 2014    Headlines
Feather Steelies

Sacramento River/Metropolitan Region:
Dennis Phanner of Sacramento Pro Tackle reported there has been a run on pearl or rainbow trout patterned Storm swimbaits for anglers working the mouth of the Feather River at Verona. He thought the fish were either moving up the Sacramento or backing out of the Feather with the low flows, but a more plausible reason may be the steelhead smolt releases over the past few weeks. Sturgeon remains solid from Knight’s Landing and above on the Sacramento River, but there have been few reports from the metropolitan area as far south as Freeport. The Port of Sacramento has been slow for stripers over the past few days. He said, “It will be another month before the striper run starts in earnest.”
Scott Feist with Feisty Fish Guide Service is running striper trips daily now through May. Peak fishing is still a few weeks away but with solid fishing in the upper Delta Scott is running trips now. With the low water releases Scott is changing up his strategy this season. Instead of waiting for the fish to push up into the Sac and feather he is "pushing south". His game plan is too target fish in the upper Delta to Freeport and follow them up. Exactly where he will be fishing depends on where the best action is found. Sounds like a great plan and if you want to fish with one of the top pros he still has dates open for the "prime" spawn season of mid April and early May.
Speaking of pros Kevin Brock will also be running Sac and Delta trips this spring. Both he and Scott are co hosting and seminar at Johnson's Bait in Yuba City later this month. We will track down the details but if you want to learn a few guide secrets this will be the seminar you will want to attend.

Sac Sturgeon Arrive With Rains
Johnson’s Bait in Yuba City reported a much improved sturgeon bite near from Verona through Knight’s Landing up towards Tisdale with ghost shrimp, eel, or the hard-to-get pile worms on Tuesday 2-25. A few stripers are also making their way up into the Sacramento River.

Feather River:
In the Feather River, Johnson’s reported striper action has heated up with the infusion of steelhead smolts released into the river, and Shanghai Bend, Star Bend, and the mouth of Bear River are producing with top water lures such as Pencil Poppers or Cordells. The river is very low, and anglers are dragging flat-bottomed 12-foot aluminums through the channel at Star Bend to access the river or launching at Boyd’s Pump with less drama. The river is extremely low, and boaters are able to pull the small boats off of the numerous sand bars.

Salmon Loss Likely Unless Coleman Hatchery Fish Are Moved to Better Release Locations
Drought conditions pose grave threat to baby salmon

San Francisco -- The Golden Gate Salmon Association renewed its call on federal fish hatchery managers to avoid disaster by helping juvenile hatchery salmon survive release into the drought-stricken upper Sacramento River. Late-fall baby king salmon are scheduled to be released at the Coleman fish hatchery on Battle Creek within two weeks. Battle Creek is a tributary of the upper Sacramento River between Redding and Red Bluff. In 2007, a similar low water year, thirty-seven percent of tagged juvenile salmon released at the Coleman Hatchery were lost in the eight miles of Battle Creek between the hatchery and the Sacramento River. More than 50 percent of tagged baby Coleman salmon perished in the first 50 miles below the hatchery according to a migration study released in 2010.
“Baby salmon become easy pickings for many bird species in low, clear, drought-stricken waters like we have now,” said John McManus, Executive Director of GGSA. “Predatory fish also have a field day on them so it’s important to give the baby salmon half a chance by at least releasing them a short distance downstream where the Sacramento River is deeper and wider to give them refuge and hiding places.”
“As a scientist, I can tell you the chances of survival of these hatchery fish are low and the adverse impacts on wild fish are high unless they are released at least part way down the Sacramento River,” said salmon scientist Dave Vogel.
Late-fall king salmon, although juvenile, are relatively large, having been reared in captivity for nearly a year before release into the wild. If released into the drought-stricken upper river, they will undoubtedly attack recently emerging wild winter, spring and fall-run fry.
Because of drought, most wild juvenile salmon, including federally protected winter and spring run, are still rearing in the upper river waiting for rain runoff to aid their downstream migration. Releasing 750,000 large, hatchery late-fall-run Chinook into the heart of the rearing grounds will result in predation and competition with the wild fish, including the threatened and endangered species. Releasing the fish farther downstream to the area of Hamilton City would alleviate those problems for the wild fish. Coleman hatchery already moves and releases their juvenile steelhead downstream to minimize those problems.
Even if it rains between now and mid-January, the first few storms are unlikely to result in significant runoff, so the need to release the fish downstream of the hatchery will likely remain.
The Sacramento River wild and hatchery-bred late-fall run salmon have steadily declined in recent years, hitting a dangerous low of 5,716 fish in 2012. Without a turn around, these fish could be candidates for a listing under the Endangered Species Act. A listing would create havoc in the salmon industry and also in water deliveries to agriculture and population centers.
Testing new release locations potentially offers substantial population increases while greatly minimizing adult straying. The Mokelumne and Feather River hatcheries have been very successful in implementing these practices and now contribute over 80 percent of the Central Valley hatchery salmon in the ocean.
In the US Fish and Wildlife Service press release of January 3rd, the agency points to the dismal return rates of Coleman salmon trucked to San Francisco Bay in 2007 and 2008 as a reason not to change release locations. Use of experimental release locations much closer to the hatchery should address this problem while greatly improving survival.
Roger Thomas, chairman of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said, “For decades the Coleman hatchery was the leader in supporting the salmon industry by filling the ocean with fish. In the current rankings of hatchery production it has now slipped to almost last. GGSA and the salmon industry strongly support studies of better Coleman release locations to increase production while minimizing straying. The future of our industry is very much at stake in these considerations.”
Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, an Indian tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.
Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

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