Napa Valley Fishing Report: Steelhead action should be good into March
The Fishing Report

Napa Valley Fishing Report: Steelhead action should be good into March


William Imboden Went Steelheading… and here’s what happened. He caught a bunch of steelies in the Klamath River on Feb. 7, topped by this 15-pound silver bullet. Guide Mike Coopman manned the nets. Yes, my good friend William had promised me a photo for this column for a while now; I knew I could wait him out.

This year’s steelhead action is predicted to remain good right through February into early March. The beautiful northern coastal streams and little coast-side towns are a special dividend for these trips. There is no more worthy fish to target than a big, strong, mean steelie that just spent three years in the salt.

Meet Brandon Abernathy… the local Rod Down Guide Service guy. Brandon is a Napan born and bred. With his family-based business, he gets to enjoy different rivers and lakes with his clients all over Northern California, but he said one of his favorite fish to catch in Napa is sturgeon. Hear his description of that exciting time when your rod goes down: “You never know what you are going to get when it comes to size – these dinosaur fish range from 2 feet to bigger that 8 feet long!”

The proof is in the pudding, my mom always said. Here is Brandon’s client, Reggie Simpkins, with a 54-inch, 50-pound Napa River sturgeon. Ghost shrimp were the bait that got it done.

Contact Brandon at or 707-927-6745.

Berryessa Recap… The guys around the pot belly stove at the bait shack said bass were available here but trout were hard to find. These warm and longer days will change that metric going forward. It might seem a long way off, but the April full moon – on the 7th this year – triggers the spring-summer bite. See the redbud bloom for confirmation. Book your guide trips now. They fill up fast from here on.

Tough Fishing In The Salt… Dave Hurley’s Monday Hot Sheet was short and simple when it said, “The high and gusty winds shut down any thought of safely fishing from a boat on Sunday…” That pretty much was the salt water weather story this past weekend.

Apparently, the sturgeon are all over the place but are going through a period of “lock-jaw” right now. I’m told the Delta is showing good numbers of diamond backs, from shakers to oversized. So, don’t worry. I’m convinced that spring is the time to catch sturgeon. Gear up and be ready when those stable weather periods ride in on some warm weather.

Five-Hundred-Pound Marlin… caught from a kayak in Panama! Listen to this wonderful story from Outdoor Life at Adam Fisk was towed 15 miles off shore by a marlin estimated to be 500 pounds while fishing from his kayak. Ho hum; it is his second monster yak marlin. He had one about 450 pounds recently. Panama is big fish heaven with very little sport fishing pressure. Adam was clear that this is not for the uninitiated and unprepared, but he has shown the way to exciting success fishing big from a kayak.

It is interesting that just last week I suggested to you that yak fishing was heating up; you might want to steer your kids toward it with some 2020 starter gifts. Even more interesting is that Outdoor Life offered some yak gift ideas. Their top three are:

1. Old Town Topwater 120 PDL Angler Fishing Kayak (price $2,150). Key comment: “The peddle-drive system is as easy as riding a bicycle and pushes the kayak in either direction, forward or backwards, to keep you in the sweet spot.”

2. YakAttack MightyMount XL (price $13). Key comment: “These are cheap enough you can buy a few at a time and allow a kayak fisherman to outfit their boat with mounting options everywhere.”

3. Abu Garcia Revo EXD Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel (price $300). Key comment: “The EXD also features two custom-designed, ultra-light spools so you can swap out your fishing line on the water to match the conditions.”

Go online to to see Outdoor Life’s other seven suggestions.

Email Bill Ryan at


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