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Early returns give salmon fishermen hope
A school of salmon swam up the Sacramento River just in time for the opening of salmon season on July 15, but anglers have found mixed success in the subsequent three weeks.
Reports from the ocean have local outdoor sport shop owners optimistic about the possibility of good fishing later in the season when the more mature salmon usually make the trip up river.
In Colusa County the picking has been slim as the fish pass through the swift waters; but up river near Ord Bend, Hamilton City and Corning, salmon are being pulled out of the water at a better clip according to Patrick Kittle, owner of Kittle's Outdoor and Sport Company.
"It's been hot and cold really. The opening day was surprising for us, it was good. There was a school of salmon already through Colusa. It stretched out from Chico to Colusa… between that time and now there's been some dead spots," Kittle said.
Despite the dead spots, Kittle estimates the fishing has been about 25 percent better than last season and expects it to improve even more when the more mature salmon begin the trek up river in late August and early September.
Anglers on the Sacramento River in Colusa County usually anchor and use spinners to catch the salmon as they move up stream.
"In Colusa they have to anchor and find a spot in the river because the fish aren't typically holing up, they're moving through. You set your lure out there and let the salmon come to it," Kittle said.
He also explained that north of Colusa the river changes, and the style of fishing changes with it.
"A lot of people are fishing around Woodson Bridge near Corning, it's shallower waters and the fish are spread out throughout the river. They drift thorough the holes, not like in Colusa," Kittle said.
Rather than anchor and use spinners, anglers in Glen and Tehama counties are finding success back trolling deeper holes using Flatfish or Kwikfish with sardine wraps, said Jon Hays, owner of Westside Outdoorsman in Willows.
"It's a little more texture north of Colusa because of the river," Hays said.
Fishing started to pick up again this week between Butte City and Ord Bend, accrding to Hays. He heard of one angler catching two salmon and a striper near Ord Bend.
"We're kind of hoping there's a new school heading up, they tend to concentrate in resting areas," he said.
Not everyone has seen the same success. FLW Everstart Series co-angler of the year Daniel Leue caught a 26-pound salmon, but hasn't seen an increase in the number of salmon from last year.
"It's been hit and miss so catching five or six salmon just isn't happening yet," he said.
"They're out catching pretty good numbers of salmon in the ocean. Last year at this time it was already pretty much in full swing. It could be next week, it could be at the end of this month, you just never know," he said.
Leue hasn't been on the river this week but said reports out of Ward's Landing in Meridian are promising.
Colusa's Rich Paletta anchored down about four miles up river from Colusa on Thursday evening but came home empty-handed. About 20 minutes into his trip a salmon slapped his spinner but that was the only action he saw on the trip.
Last year anglers had a strong July but the rest of the season was lackluster, Paletta said.
As he headed to his fishing spot around 4 p.m. on Thursday two boats were returning to the dock with three salmon between them. On his return trip in the evening none of the three boats he passed caught anything.
Paletta and his wife landed two salmon so far this season. They pulled one in Wednesday morning at Salmon Bend, which locals call Yerxa's Sandbar or Hoblit Hole.
Paletta grew up fishing in Colusa and returned in the early 1980s after a long career in the military. Despite returning with an empty boat on Thursday, he wasn't discouraged.
"You just have to put in the time," he said.
CONTACT KIrk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.