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Twenty Years Or More… and counting. That is the number of years I have had the pleasure of fishing on the Sacramento River with my good friend, Doug Roberts. Here’s a boat-side recap of our 2019 adventure at Redding.

Fishing two days, we caught and released 52 wild rainbow trout fishing the Sac. That total would have been in the 70s, but on Day 2 a rainstorm put the fish down with lockjaw; we caught 31 the first day and 21 the second. In the mix were at least three in the 4- to 5-pound range. And they were all fat, healthy and beautifully marked. A bright red rainbow stripe starts at the rose-copper gill plate and ends at their tails.

You have to remember that big-river fishing in currents up to 10,000 cubic feet per second calls for an experienced and alert guide. We got all of that and more from Dakota Townley, who manned the nets for us both days. He is pro river guide Keven Brock’s lead guide and has fished with us before. In addition to being an engineer who can operate two outboards, Dakota was ship’s captain, navigator, bait manager and fish master.

Nowhere in the trip shows how important all of these qualities are than when there is a “Fish On!” in flows of 10,000 cfs. An instant partnership develops between the fish master and the hooked-up angler. Stabilize the fish on the line, rod tip up. Don’t let it rub the line on the bottom of the boat, and don’t horse it in. You need to know that trout are line skinny and that a big, fat fishing line and leader can scare them off.

So Dakota tied on a skinny little 6-pound test main line with an even skinnier 4-pound test leader, giving a 5-pound trout all the advantage! Now Dakota has to find a spot out of the strongest currents where he can anchor the boat – it might be a half a mile downstream till he can find it. Why? Drop your anchor in 10,000 cfs and say goodbye to it.

All the while, the client is trying to steer this big trout along, keeping it out of ridges and brush piles on the way down. Finally, the netting – and the moment of truth. As the line gets shorter, you have less flex, giving the fish more advantage. As the fish starts to see the boat, he gets wild again. If he can run underneath, he’ll try to break off the line by rubbing it up against a rivet on the bottom. So kneel down and poke the rod straight down to try to prevent that. If the team gets this far, finally, the tiring fish can be lifted straight up where Dakota swept him into the net, and it’s high-fives all around.

The neat thing about Dakota is he has already accomplished these special skills, and he is only 23 years old. Thanks, Dakota, and we send you our best wishes for your wedding day on Saturday.

Call Kevin Brock at 800-995-5543 to book some trips. Fish with either Kevin or Dakota for a pleasant and most professional trip. I’ve been doing that for 26 straight years – and Kevin has fished three generations of Ryans.

While We Are… talking about the Sacramento River at Redding, I have to mention to you again how poorly served we are by California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. For a few years now, they have closed a very good four-mile trout fishing area right at the north end of Redding to all fishing for four or five months a year. The stated reason is to protect winter-run salmon. Not once have they told us how that project is coming, what is being accomplished. But, talk to people with knowledge of the area and subject and all you hear is “They are trying to defeat some salmon poachers.”

Question: Is it really necessary to keep millions of us licensed California anglers from the enjoyment of fishing there by closing it down to “a couple” of poachers? That sound equitable to you? Every place else, poachers have apprehended by and charged by Fish and Wildlife Wardens. Why are millions of us being penalized by having this stretch shut down to all fishing?

Old guys at the end of the dock chuckle and point out these major truths. A salmon poacher is not going to fish with a tiny rod and reel using 4-pound test leaders to try to catch a salmon. They say a warden could sit in his car and pick out the poachers by their gear, and stop the poaching fast.

My own extensive experience in this very spot covers 26 years during which I fished it a total of 104 days. One, we did inadvertently hook one salmon in 26 years – one. We knew it was illegal to take it, so we cut it off instantly. Two, during that same period, we have never seen another angler hook nor keep a salmon.

Can you help me get this terrible regulation canceled? Join me in asking State Senator Bill Dodd at Senator.Dodd@senate.ca.gov and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry at aguiar-curry@assembly.ca.gov to try to get us some real answers.

Editor's note: this item has been modified to update the email address of State Sen. Bill Dodd.

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Email Bill Ryan at acorn_3@comcast.net.

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