Napa Valley Fishing Report: Blasingame shows SHHS anglers how it's done
The Fishing Report

Napa Valley Fishing Report: Blasingame shows SHHS anglers how it's done


Fishing In Close… and safely. Yep, by its very nature, this classic outdoor activity lends itself to lots of fresh air and social distancing.

Napa angler Evan Blasingame hit the Lake Hennessey shore recently for some nice largemouth bass. He was rigged for crappie with a light line and small jig when this bass wanted to eat. Evan said that it was all he could do to manage the fish as it ran deep and tried to break off. Patience and skill won the day – and the fish. By the way, Evan is the faculty advisor to the new St. Helena High School Fishing Club.

A 14-Foot Boat… gave Steve Orndorf that needed separation as he took a shot at fishing Lake Berryessa. He caught bass and this dandy crappie on the trip. With a good warm water temperature up and down the Berryessa water column, you should look for better fishing as we get into spring. The addition of trout to the three-species bass mix plus crappie makes this lake special for us local anglers.

Now Skip All The Way… to Guyana for a big-fish story from local fly angler Ric Bollen. Just look at these boxcar numbers that made up his catch while fishing the Essequibo River: 15 species of fish, 11 on the fly. And, the top fish was a monster arapaima measured at 75 inches and estimated to weigh 275 pounds. Rick caught that bruiser on a 12-foot fiberglass rod he had built just for that trip.

What an exciting adventure, and how nice for all of us to share it with Ric. Guyana is on the north coast of South America and bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. It is also the only English-speaking country on the continent. The Essequibo is the longest river in Guyana, at 1,014 kilometers, and the largest river between the Orinoco and the Amazon.

I’m Sorry To Report… that the 37th annual Al’s Ark Striper Derby has been cancelled because of the coronavirus problem. Stay tuned while I try to find out if and when they plan to try to reschedule it. Here’s a short list of what’s open or not right now: Lake Berryessa, Lake Sonoma and the Delta are open. Clear Lake is not. Check before you head out; these could change rapidly.

There is good news for Berryessa from Napa County that it will sign agreements with the feds to open up more of the lake and lake area to a host of outdoor activities. This will be a boon to the businesses and residents there who have suffered too long.

Along with Clear Lake and the California Delta, Berryessa is rated one of the top bass lakes in the West by Bassmaster Magazine. But we never really ever took full benefit because visiting anglers took one look at the area, said “no place to stay, no place to eat, no place for my family to have fun,” and went up to Clear Lake to fish.

Though it’s closed right now, Clear Lake is rated the fourth-best bass lake in America. It’s California’s largest natural lake and holds trophy-size largemouth bass, 20-pound catfish and huge, “arm-sized” crappie.

When I was a kid, a crappie was called “palm-sized,” and if it weighed a pound it was a big one. In season here, you can catch crappie that push 2.5 to 3 pounds – and are sweet-tasting protein. Catch limits are 25 crappie a day, so you and your family can feed your whole neighborhood in just one day of fishing for Clear Lake crappie.

As You Can Guess… there is not a hell of a lot of guided angling action to report right now. Fishing outfitters, party boat captains and fishing guides are hunkered down until we get an official “all clear” from authorities to go fishing again. I have had to cancel four trips so far – not good. So, let me give you a few updates from Dave Hurley’s Monday Hot Sheet to keep your duffer up.

*At Bodega Bay, second captain Merlin Kolb took his dog fishing for Dungeness crab and pulled three shallow crab pots for a limit.

*Bay action shows some private boaters scoring halibut in the south bay, trolling herring or anchovies from Oyster Point to the alameda Rockwall.

*Over in the Delta, the word was “the sturgeon are on the chomp…”

*And, Michael Kidwell, assistant manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, used a Mega Bass Mega Dog top water lure to catch and release a 38.5-pound striper. Thanks, Michael, for releasing that hawg. I hope all of my readers will quickly release any big female stripers. Thanks.

Stay Safe, Dear Readers… we’ve got a lot of fishing to do once this awful pandemic is over and gone.

Email Bill Ryan at

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