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More Big Stripers…from St. Helena angler, Dan Skadal and his fishing partner, Jim Guiducci. They trolled lures on the Napa River between downtown and Kennedy Park for these 27 and 29 inch striped bass. Linesides this big are a bear to control and bring to the net. But, Dan has got it down pat.

Availability of good numbers of stripers here should remain until some serious gully-washers muddy up the water. But then the sturgeon arrive. Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving Is Just …a week away. One of the first local customs Barbara, Alex and I learned when we came west to St. Helena in 1976 was to serve big platters of freshly-cracked Dungeness crab. Mayo please—save the drawn butter for Maine lobsters.

This crab season is good, delivering plenty of big sweet crabs. Better go get some of your own quickly. The holidays are upon us.

Clear Lake In The Fall … is affected by cold fronts/low pressure areas. Who cares? Fishermen do! Here is the result of that low pressure area that went through Lake County recently. So while Stan Press and I caught and released a dandy 46 largemouth bass in two days, they came wrapped around a weather front that seemed to both help and hurt.

The good news is that it may well have aided our fishing Monday. Bass seem to get active just before a front—and are willing to go far afield to eat with gusto. We took advantage of it by scoring 33 Clear Lake largemouth bass in six hours. Stan lead the way on the numbers. I tried to stay competitive by boating a fat five pounder on a live jumbo minnow rigged as a drop shot late in the day. Monday just started off with a bang — we boated and released 20 bass in the first two hours. A patiently managed Carolina rig with a Baby Brush Hog was the other go-to lure.

Tuesday dawned to a front—cloudy and cooler. That flat pond top of Monday gave way to some chop. What a “catch rate” contrast: As late as noon time on Tuesday we had only boated and released three little “dinks.” When fronts are stationary, the fish won’t venture out very far to eat. Also, the bite is tentative at best—like a “tasting” not a banquet. But, our long time pro guide, Bob Myskey (274-0373) was not going to let us go home with just three catches. (Guides are like airline pilots—when you need them , you really need them.). So Bob took us to a spot to fish that I have never fished with him before—or any other Clear Lake guide in 30 years. We only had three fish caught and released when we arrived there—and came away with 10 more fish from a hundred foot long stretch of no-account shoreline. Happy faces and lessons learned. Thanks Bob.

Here’s some close evidence that weather fronts create good “prefrontal” catches. Bob’s most recent five trips prior to our Monday outing scored an average of 16 fish per trip. Our Monday number was double that average at 33 bass caught and released.

Light Bite. Please remember that during a light bite period you must keep enough tension on the line to it can telegraph the slightest little nibble on the bait. Let a lot of line swish around and you will never feel the bite, and set the hook. Took me a while to remember to stop gossiping with by fishing partners and gazing around the lake — now I know that I must have missed hundreds of strikes in my 30 years on Clear Lake.

Once you get comfortable with paying attention to that rod tip , which is where you’ll see the action, best practices are to wind down on the reel when you detect a bite to give the fish a chance to get the lure into his/her mouth—and to improve the leverage of your swift side sweep to set the hook.

Now, please keep your rod tip up so the rod is bent by the fish’s pull. That bend is a “shock absorber” — giving a bit when a big fish runs — and keeping the line tight when the fish stops to rest. One thing is certain: leave some loose line when fighting a fish — and lose the fish. Fair warning.

And Add More St. Helena …fly fisherpersons. Somehow, I missed Eric Titus and Stephen Parry. Tell who else deserves to be on this list of my heroes—here is my original list from an earlier column: Scott and Joann Snowden, Tom LaTour and Kelly Maher lead the pack. Now add Ethan Brown, Roger Riccardi, Peter Collins, Bruce Coulthard, Alex Ryan, Roger Trinchero, Carolyn Martini and Stan Press.

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