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The Reel Life

The Reel Life: Berryessa bite should improve

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Lakes and rivers

Don Paganelli of Paganelli’s Bass Fishing is reporting a fair bass bite at Lake Berryessa. Most fish are being caught on spoons and flutter spoons. Paganelli believes the break in the heat wave should improve the bass bite over the next few weeks.

Ross England of Clear Lake Guide Service reports only two launch ramps at Clear Lake remain open due to low water — the Fifth Street ramp in Lakeport and the launch in Clearlake Oaks. The lake is moving into a fall pattern with reduced weed growth and improved water clarity. With that said, the bass bite remains difficult, but the bite is expected to improve as the water temperature cools. Currently, drop shotting Senko’s seems to be the preferred method for success.

Oceans and bays

The exotic fish stories keep getting better.

Tom Dudenhoeffer, on a day off from working at Sweeney’s Sports, trailered his 17-foot Boston Whaler to Fort Bragg hoping to catch some tuna. That he did. He hooked a 182-pound big eye tuna 22 miles off shore. As Tom tells it, the tuna towed both him and his boat for five miles until he made it back to the harbor with only a small amount of gas, but a very big fish.

The ocean salmon bite continues to be a struggle. Occasionally the six-pack boats are finding limits, but the larger boats are seeing between a half and a fish per rod. Most of the fleet has been fishing the Marin coast, with an occasional boat going south to the San Mateo coast.

I heard some extremely said news out of Bodega Bay. Captain Merlin Kolb, owner of the Reel Magic, was killed Sept. 11 in a single-car accident in Winnemucca, Nevada. I fished and crabbed with Merlin for years, as did many other Napa Valley residents. He was a great captain and will be sadly missed.

Ag department lifts waterfowl import ban

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant and Animal Health Inspection Service just lifted its blanket ban on the import of game-caught waterfowl from all Canadian provinces. This ban — announced Sept. 2, the day after the hunting season began — prevented sportsmen from moving any harvested waterfowl meat and/or carcasses across the U.S. border.

The USDA enacted these restrictions to slow the spread of high-pathway avian influenza. Highly virulent avian influenza — more commonly known as avian influenza — is a highly contagious disease primarily transmitted by wild migratory birds that is wreaking havoc on domestic poultry operations.


What is “electrofishing,” you ask? It is a valuable, non-lethal technique for sampling fish that is commonly used in fisheries research and management. Collected fish can be identified and sampled for studies of abundance, density and species composition.

Electrofishing can also be used to relocate or remove fish as part of construction and infrastructure operations or non-native species management. The most common methods include boat electrofishing in large aquatic environments, and backpack electrofishing in smaller rivers or streams. FISHBIO provides both boat and backpack electrofishing services and offers equipment rentals.

During electrofishing, a regulated electric current is run from an anode to a cathode, creating an electrical field that momentarily immobilizes fish so they can be captured with nets. In boat electrofishing, anode wands are suspended in front of the boat, and the hull of the boat typically serves as a cathode.

In backpacking electrofishing, the anode is a wand carried by the person wearing the backpack unit, and the cathode is a trailing cable that trails behind from the base of the backpack. The efficiency of electrofishing is influenced by water temperature, depth, conductivity and turbidity, and fish will be affected differently depending on their size, species, orientation and distance from the electrode.

When practicing catch-and-release fishing, it is important to learn how to hold a fish to minimize stress or injury. Learning how to properly hold a fish can significantly increase catch and release survival rates. Follow these fish handling guidelines to help preserve our fish populations for future generations of anglers:

Keep fish wet: Keep the fish in the water while removing hooks or lures whenever possible. Removing a fish from the water can cause stress, suffocation (if the fish is held out of water for too long) and contribute to internal injuries when not handled carefully.

Use wet hands: If you do have to handle a fish while practicing catch and release, use wet hands. Learning how to handle a fish with wet hands will help reduce any loss or damage to the fish’s protective slime coat. Never use a towel or any type of cloth to hold or handle a fish because fabrics will remove the slime coat from the fish and leave the fish susceptible to infections.

Provide proper support: If you need to remove the fish from the water to remove a hook or lure, use a rubberized landing net (rubberized nets help prevent damage to the fish’s slime coat) or cradle the fish with one hand beneath the belly near the surface of the water. Hold the fish horizontally versus vertically whenever possible, using one hand to support the belly of the fish.

Treat the fish gently: When learning how to handle a fish, be gentle and avoid squeezing the fish tightly. Squeezing the fish can damage the internal organs and muscle tissue. It’s also important to remember that you should never hold a fish by the gills.

Certain species of fish are more delicate than others. This means you should make every effort to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the species you are targeting. For example, when learning how to hold a bass you can use a thumb and finger grip on the lower lip while supporting the fish’s belly, however, when learning how to hold trout you would not want to grab the fish by the mouth as it can be damaging.

Quickly remove hooks or lure: Keep the fish in the water or hold it upside down to calm the fish while removing the hook. If you must remove the fish from the water, be mindful of not keeping the fish out of the water any longer than you can hold your own breath.

Napa's di Rosa center is offering summer camps including art but also fishing, archery, hiking, bird watching and more.

Brent Randol can be reached at or 707-481-3319.

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