Nor Cal Report – General Trout season opener…the myth, the legend
Just because the California Department of fish game marks every year the last Saturday in april as the “opener of general trout season” making most non-tailwater trout rivers of the sierras and foothills open to fishing does not mean they “open” to fishing. Like most things in nature you can’t just put a day on the calendar and declare something happens. It is like the first day of summer being around the end of June every year. Most things in nature gradually take place…Summer begins slowly and by all means has usually arrived by late june. Slowly pants are replaced by shorts, my flip flop tan turns from a burn to a legitimate discoloration of my feet, and heavy beers and brown water are replaced with light beer and lime juice and tequila, oh and I stop wearing shirts around the house cause it is dam hot. So goes the beginning of trout season.
Opening day means a few things in my world none of which are drive to a trout river…here is how my opening day goes.
I start looking at the flows on various rivers. The North Fork of the Yuba River, North Fork of the Feather River, Deer Creek, Upper Sacramento River, and various other creeks. Checking flows means I get an idea of how long it is going to be before I might go fish these rivers/creeks…and when I say fish, I mean chuck lead and big stoneflies or pull streamers for the occasional fish. Usually I am looking at like 2-5 weeks.
It also means I need to get my shad rods set up and ready, a new batch of shad flies tied, and make sure everything in my boat is working as shad season is about 3 weeks away. Also make sure to tie a good batch of clousers for the stripers and make sure my 9wts and lead core are all set up and ready to go.
On the Lower Yuba it means that run off is usually in full effect and if I get lucky a day that I have a guide date the river will come into shape, atleast for a day or two until the next wave of snow melt or rain shows up, and my clients and I can pillage the river with stoneflies, san juan worms, and big attractor bugs. I can also start to think about PMD, PED, Golden Stonefly, and caddis hatches…yes while tying shad flies, striper flies, and big run off bugs I gotta get working on some small mayflies and caddis cause it will be dry fly time on the Lower Yuba soon.
The Opener also signals a farewell. The Lower Feather River is a big part of our guiding here in Nor Cal. By the trout opener the fall season is long gone, winter has come and gone, and the spring run of steelhead is thinning out usually by the end of April/early May. This means I can finally after 8months pull my bead box out of my boat bag and just drive through Oroville, not stop.
Inevitably I have to start planning to set up my raft…uhhh…Pull the frame out from the side of the house, tighten the bolts, pull the raft itself out of the rafters of the garage while dodging black widows and various other creatures of the dark, pump it up- which is an athletic event, put the raft on my ghetto Harbor Freight Trailer that I am sure will break this year…I was sure it would break last year, so definitely this year.
Lower Sac trout fishing tends to slow a bit as the March/April caddis hatches slow and the PMD hatches start to get going strong. The fish in various stretches are spawning or in post spawn and kinda can get in a funk at times. That said the Lower Sac is still a pretty consistent trout fishery even with its up and downs.
If I do get all the above mentioned work done at this time of year I usually will head to a local bass pond, lake, or river, cause lets be real bass fishing is going OFF at the end of April.
Bottom line…the last thing I do is go fish for trout on the opener.