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Napa Valley Fishing Report: Second day of angling can pay off
The Fishing Report

Napa Valley Fishing Report: Second day of angling can pay off

  • Updated

Promise Me… that you won’t go on a one-day fishing trip. Here’s why. My long time fishing partner, Doug Roberts and I fished for largemouth bass on Clear Lake last week for two days.

Day One was a stinker — we caught only 12 fish and they were dinks. Fast-forward to Day Two, when we caught and released 23 bass and three hulking catfish. Day Two obviously redeemed the trip and we left the lake with a bunch of smiles.

This is wintertime fishing so you’ve got to have the right bait and pay attention. Live minnows worked their magic on Day Two. The minnow guy, from Arkansas, didn’t make it to Lake County on Day One. Minnows are expensive, but they work. You’d prefer jumbos, but we got tinies and they worked. If the minnow is lively and darting around, it will find a bass. Please don’t bang one up against the dock or the side of the boat — that becomes an expensive dead minnow.

Unfortunately, big catfish like minnows, too — and hang out in likely bass holes. Doug caught three big fat cats; it’s a real feat because they are so big and strong, you can’t just horse them in on the light and sensitive bass rod. It takes too much time away from bass fishing to be hauling in a big cat. No, we don’t use live minnows in Clear Lake in the warm-weather months because they burrow down into the weeds and brush where the bass won’t see them.

Warm Water… is still in the lake. The water temperature was 64 degrees and good for fishing. Minimum bass catching water temperature is 50, but the bite is slow at that level.

The Rumsey Gauge is used to measure the lake level, with 1 signifying empty and 7.5 considered full. Right now, because of our drought conditions, the Rumsey is only around 1.

For years we have fished Clear Lake successfully in the winter. Give it a try. Bundle up and call pro guide Bob Myskey at 349-4460. Be sure to ask him when the next live minnow shipment will arrive.

By The Way… Clara Ricobal rode a personal-best, 6.91-pound largemouth to her second-place finish in the non-boater category in the recent Bass Nation tournament at Clear Lake. That made her the first woman to place on the State Team.

Look At These Monster Steelies… from the Feather. Brothers Grant and Jack Ingalls had a banner trip fly fishing for steelhead early in the season; it bodes well for the rest of the run. They drifted the flies from a drift boat, with the option to boat the fish or step over to the bank to land them. Steelhead hunters will tell you it’s tough to hook even one. They are very line-shy, so you must use skinny little leaders that won’t frighten them.

Working the oars and the net was their guide, Ryan Williams ( Local connection: Ryan used to work at Sweeney’s in Napa (note to file: he’s got my name backwards!). Grant told me that they scored “over a dozen” steelhead on that trip.

Good News For Dungeness Crab Seekers… In somewhat of a reprieve to recreational anglers, the commercial crab season here is delayed due to whale activity until at least Dec. 1. This should keep the crab abundance at a reasonable level for all recreational anglers — including the trap thieves, whose numbers seem to multiply each season.

The early results look great, even with some awful weather to be dealt with. The Weekend Wrap Hot Sheet reported that Captain Rick Powers out of Bodega Bay Sport Fishing scored combo limits for his Saturday and Monday clients. Their combined limit total was 52 crab and 52 rock, and that equaled 1,040 hunks of fresh saltwater protein.

Delta Update… Fishing around some really windy days, more Delta anglers are working the sturgeon bite as the salmon season wanes. Cured salmon roe seems to be the bait of choice.

You can go further upstream to the Stockton area for some good action on stripers. As Johnny Tran at Turner’s Outdoors in Stockton told the Hot Sheet, “There are stripers all over the place…” He went on to say that you should use live bait or spoon off of the Stockton Golf and Country Club in the main channel.

This is not a happy weather time. Be careful out there! I hope you will choose an experienced captain to take you out fishing in these next couple of weeks. It’s no time to play “macho” on your own boat.

Watch Now: Today in sports history: Nov. 12

Email Bill Ryan at

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