Richard Loft

Napa fly guide Richard Loft completely hooked up to a wild rainbow on Putah Creek.

Submitted photo

Fly Fishing Stuff … close to home. Regular contributor, fly fishing instructor and guide Richard Loft messaged in to say that the low flows at Putah Creek were not helping the trout bite there. But, as always, increased difficulty can cause improved activity – or expose a shortcoming.Richard was out on the water recently in his regular system of staying abreast of the conditions. Not many bites that day, except one strong takedown that broke his leader. Simply put, he lost a big one because he hadn’t prepared his gear correctly.

Now Richard told us this story himself, as an example that even the pros forget to check every part of their equipment every day. So, lesson learned, and a reason to book him for lessons and guiding at 707-294-4738. You might want to have a gear session with him at the tackle store to get ready for the spring season – go over every piece of your equipment and ask him to evaluate it, and recommend up-grades. The fish you keep may be your trophy of a lifetime; don’t risk losing it on a brittle old rig. Here’s a classic look at Richard in mid-stream on the Putah about to land a feisty rainbow trout.

Richard wants everybody to be careful as they walk in streams like the Putah, where there are spawning trout on beds right now. You could easily squash hundreds of eggs, killing hundreds of trout, if you step on a nest. The fish you save may be your biggest, too.

It’s Sturgeon Time … in the Napa River. Sturgeon are being seen and caught up and down the river. Even better; there will be more to come. On Tuesday, St. Helena’s little Sulphur Creek was big, fast and brown for the first time this winter. When that hits the Napa, sturgeon are motivated to come up even closer to dine one the millions of little critters that wash down out of the creek banks. It’s the diamond back’s favorite meal.

Jose Rubio, one of the Sweeney’s Sports ace field scouts, told me that a combo cocktail of lamprey eel and ghost shrimp was the hot bait. I’ve also heard that both grass and mud shrimp can add spice to a combo cocktail, but are harder to find. Some years, a sweetener of a piece of salmon roe can add appeal to a combo cocktail. Yep, even pile worms are known to work. Be flexible and inventive; bring all the ingredients so you can be ready to create new baits till you find one slays the fish.

In The Salt … With Dungeness crabs and sand dabs still available, combo trips are offered out of Bodega Bay. Over there, Captain Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sport Fishing (875-3344) said, “There are massive amounts of anchovies around, and I have never seen so many anchovies in my 35 years of fishing off of Bodega Bay.” Good news – “find the bait, find the fish,” especially in close.

Rick also said he’s going to go hunting for signs of a return of giant Humboldt squid. You may remember these monster squid, ranging up to and over 50 pounds, were all the rage a few years ago. Call Rick to get the up to date scoop on these fish.

That hot sturgeon bite in San Pablo Bay last week has cooled off – probably because of slower tides, or because they are continuing up the Napa River. Down there in the Bay the diamond backs are focusing on either herring or mud shrimp as their current main food sources.

California Delta … is seeing fresh pods of stripers moving into lower Suisun Bay and the return of the good sturgeon bite. Dave Hurley’s Monday Hot Sheet suggests that a recent fresh water push and warmer water temperatures may account for these improvements.

But the big news for me is the continuing story about truly big striped bass being caught. Fifty pounds, 40, 33, 27 and 23 are just a few recorded. We are hearing that more and more of those big mother hens are being released unharmed to make some more babies. Thanks, everyone.

On the Delta bass front, The Fishing Instructor Randy Pringle said, “… The largemouth don’t want to chase very far right now so you have to put the bait in their face…”

Go-to lures in Randy’s tackle box right now are Ima flit 120, Rock N’Vibe Suspend, and the new General Max Scent weightless worm with its heavy scent. Book him at 209-543-6260.

According to Johnny Tran at New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport (916-665-1788), bankies can score some tasty bluegill and crappie on live minnows, minijigs and drop shot rigs. Stop in to ask Johnny for up-to-the-minute updates and top baits before heading out.

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