Napa Valley Fishing Report: Napa angler catches peacock bass in Guyana
The Fishing Report

Napa Valley Fishing Report: Napa angler catches peacock bass in Guyana


Just In Time… a good story for Christmas, an exciting trip to the Essequibo River in Guyana as told by Napa angler and author Steve Orndorf. His son-in-law, Grant Ingalls, and best friend, Adam Schumann, were on the trip, too.

The Essequibo is the third-largest river in South America. It holds trophy sizes of most of the exotic, tropical fish you’d ever target. The guides and staff are Makushi Washapama Indians. Steve called them “the most accommodating and happy people I have met in the jungles.” By the way, you can find more information on this trip at on

Here’s Adam with an exotic peacock bass. Peacocks fight to the last inch of line, and even in the boat you can see them trying to figure a way to get out of their predicament. Scott Snowden and I caught a bunch of them in Venezuela’s Lake Guri many years ago.

Grant has vanquished another exotic fish that ranks among the strongest pullers in the world, a red-tailed catfish. You need 85-pound test main lines and 100-pound test leaders to hope to boat one. Look at this typical Guyana backyard pet. I hope that leash is as strong as the catfish line.

Message From Sulphur Creek… up here in St. Helena. The creek is still running rapidly in its original channel after being blown out in the weekend storm. Napa anglers, we sent you some chocolate brown water full of tasty little critters that draw sturgeon right up into town for you. Please send me photos of your big diamond backs for my next report.

As The World Turns… It’s time again to start my winter water level watch for you. In addition to Sulphur Creek, I’ll be watching Clear Lake and the Smith River up near Crescent City. Today’s numbers should serve as baseline figures so we can see the action of upcoming winter weather. If you have any other special water that needs watching, give me a yell.

Clear Lake levels are taken from the Rumsey Gauge, where a “1” is used to signify “empty” and “full” is 7.56. A 9 is close to flood stage and bad news. At mid-day Monday, Dec. 9, the Rumsey Gauge stood at 3.5 feet. That is up about 3 inches since Dec. 3. It may not sound like much, but it is a major lake-level increase when you consider that the lake surface is 68 square miles. I measure Smith River flows and depth at the JED recording Station. At mid-day on Monday, the Smith was flowing at 2,200 cubic feet per second. That was down from a major storm surge of 10,000 cfs early Sunday. It’s the nature of the weather in these northern coastal creeks, big ups and big downs. But somewhere in the middle is the perfect time to go fishing for wild steelhead that started life in the salt as tiny 7-inch rainbow trout. They come back big, strong, mean and smart, the perfect adversary for experienced anglers – fly and spin.

The Smith River stage (depth) at noon Monday was 7.5 feet. That was down from 11.7 feet Sunday morning. Best fishing conditions here are a depth of 9-11 feet and flows around 10,000 cfs. That combination gives anglers the perfect “steelie green” water color. That little color keeps the fish from getting spooked by boats and lines.

And, Close To Home… Lake Berryessa is starting to fill again. Its surface is now 430.9 feet above mean sea level. It had risen about 5 inches in the three days before the latest issue of the Lake Berryessa News was published earlier this month. Thanks to the chief over there, Peter Kilkus, for this key update. Peter also told us that once the ground is saturated, the lake rises about 7 inches per additional 1 inch of rainfall.

In The Salt… it looks like the commercial Dungeness crab fleet will be dropping gear this morning. Good news. It means you’ll be able to buy fresh local crab in your favorite store. The not so good news is that those wide-open days of full crab limits for recreational anglers will be just a memory as the big guys sweep through. No, don’t just stop fishing for them; there will be still lots around and they will accent combo trips featuring rock fish and lings.

In the bays, this hard rainfall has washed out all the critters that hurt fishing. That leaves places like San Pablo Bay ready to serve up some stripers and sturgeon up high in the Bay. Call Captain Craig Hanson on the Argo six-pack at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf for Bay details and bookings. Tell him Ryan sent you. His number is 415-361-7757.


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