If you’ve been hungering for the taste of bright-orange, freshly caught ocean salmon, you’ll get your first chance off the California coast south of Horse Mountain starting April 3. But your window of opportunity is short — just 27 days.
The DFG confirmed on Friday the season in this area will open on April 3 and close on April 30. This includes the waters south of Horse Mountain in Humboldt County to the US-Mexico border.
Apparently, the regulators believe this opening will have little or no impact on the Sacramento River/Central Valley Chinook salmon fall run, which has been in free-fall for three years.
Limit is two salmon per day of any species (except coho), minimum size limit is 20 inches total length.
Season dates for ocean waters north of Horse Mountain and in Humboldt Bay will be decided in mid-April by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Fish and Game Commission.
It is expected that season will be about 62 days, opening perhaps on July 3 and closing after Labor Day, Sept. 6, but this is strictly conjecture as the regulators must choose between three options. The 62-day season is considered by many to be the most likely option since it encompasses two major three-day holiday weekends.
‘Experts’ fail to catch Shasta bass
This is a warning to all readers. Writing about catching fish doesn’t make you a fish-catching professional or a good boat captain. My fishing partner, Gary Heffley and I found out about both on March 21 when we decided leave our keyboards to squeeze in a quick trip to Lake Shasta.
We tried to pick a day that would be warm and sunny when the fish were bound to be hungry. The days before had been windy. Sunday was supposed to be nice. Well, it wasn’t all that great on the lake, and the fish did not treat us kindly.
First off, we only got about 500 hundred yards from the Jones Arm Clickapudi launch ramp before the motor died. There was nothing wrong — we just hadn’t connected the gas line. How it got unconnected and lay dormant all winter is still a mystery.
That didn’t prevent us from getting flustered a bit. We tried everything to get the motor to start but it wasn’t getting any fuel. We only discovered the problem when we dropped the kicker motor into the water and reached for the fuel line.
When we found the connector in the bottom of the transom well, the look on my face was both happy and embarrassed. Mostly red-faced since dropping the kicker and setting up an extendable tiller can be an exasperating way to start a fishing day. But we got going without too much delay.
Then we got the dreaded omen — fish-on in the first few minutes. I barely had my line in the water when Heffley caught this medium-sized crappie while using a Rapala Jointed Shad Rap minnow. Since this was the first crappie I’d seen taken from Shasta Lake in six or seven years, I was elated.
After that fishing went down hill with the weather. The weatherman’s forecast of 20 percent chance of showers was dead-on — for our little spot in the lake at least. It came down hard enough I had to don my rain suit, which I continued to wear all day between intermittent showers.
Once again the dreaded omen struck. On almost my first Senko drop I picked up a nice two-pound bass. With that development we knew for sure the day ahead was going to be fabulous. Not so!
We spent the next many hours casting worms including my go-to favorite Yamamoto four-inch green ones with a single tail. We also tried drop shotting, trolling and various swim baits.
Except for two more strikes on wacky-rigged Senkos and the landing of one short spotted bass by Heffley, we went zero the rest of the day, which had started at 7 a.m. and ended about 4 p.m.
When we got to the dock two other anglers told us they had a great day, including limits of spots. We had fished the Squaw Arm. They had fished elsewhere, in places they didn’t wish to reveal.
Despite the lack of fish it was a great day. The rain was light, the sky was cloudy, beautiful and the sun peeked through to almost summer-time heat when we got to the My-T-Fine Grocery in Bella Vista where we parted company (Heffley lives in Happy Valley).
The fish went immediately into the skillet and proved to be as firm and tasty as always but three days later when an another unexpected storm hit my home in Shingletown I discovered I had failed to turn off the ignition and the power switches so I had a dead battery. This was quickly rectified by re-charging it.
All things considered, as PBS likes to say, it was a typical first-day out on the water after six months of winter hibernation. Now we’re really ready to go fishing.
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