Straight Aces (Pumped- up watershed overview)

Late winter/spring rains have truly been a blessing and saving grace to northern California lakes and rivers and no time more obvious than now. What appeared to be a dismal critically dry year in all of northern California has been replenished with great water qualities in most all watersheds. Currently snowmelt and runoff has peaked and most all lakes are full, or near full capacities while Coastal/Central Valley rivers are supporting healthy flows and slowly dropping into prime mid-spring fishing conditions.

Fly Fishing
Prime trout fishing is
happening now in most

The great water qualities and timing of this year’s runoff has been nothing short of ideal. The lower Sac has fished awesome all spring and is currently pumping with dependable, high yield trout fishing. Valley striper action has been solid and even though the main run is over it is still firing off and delivering in the Sac, American and Feather rivers. Following suite, the cottonwoods are in full bloom, shad runs are in full swing in most systems. Highlighting the lineup, coastal dogwoods are in bloom and impressive numbers of fresh run springer’s (salmon-steelhead) are currently filtering through coastal and a few valley rivers. Other than being classified as an old school veteran there is some merit to hanging around the block a few years. This year, as I observe the formulation of all current favorable conditions, it is comforting, not to mention I’m totally jazzed, to see the potential, the opportunity and the positive impacts happening to our rivers and their fisheries. Based upon past experiences it’s all good and brewing in our favor.

Salmon Fishing
Slab Happy! G.B. and full on
salmon fishing.

It gets better! Adding to the magic, based upon ideal ocean conditions (great upwelling, temps and food) fisheries biologists have predicted one of the largest salmon runs in modern day history for the 2012 year. While it may be a bit premature to accept their glowing prediction, ocean salmon fishing has been nothing short of exceptional from Moss Landing north to southern Oregon. Early season openers have reflected healthy bait schools and strong Chinook populations. And in some cases salmon fishing has been off the charts with limits common. Odd, it wasn’t that long ago many of us thought healthy salmon stocks were a pipe dream and a thing of the past. Generally what is good for salmon is also good for steelhead. Exciting to ponder what does this mean for California’s 2012-2013 steelhead runs?

A beautiful, eventful, positive and yet strange year, even our garden and fruit trees are flourishing. (Both Pat and I have limited horticulture backgrounds and are far from sporting green thumbs) and question why. It all seems too good to be true. Like an old classic vehicle that runs great just before it blows. Why all the favorable conditions? Why all the positive impacts and quality fishing? What changed and how or why did it change in such a short time frame? Should we even question it all? As mentioned earlier I’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed similar rare, quality conditions and fishing in years past. Recently I have seen and experienced enough to say brace yourself for a stellar fishing year. Ma Nature has delivered us a royal flush!

Shad Fishing Summer Shad
Scott Stratton- switch- rod
Full flex shadding.