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The Napa Valley Fishing Report: Gully washers will lure sturgeon
The Fishing Report

The Napa Valley Fishing Report: Gully washers will lure sturgeon

  • Updated

Moving Fresh Water… equals and improved sturgeon bite. Dave Hurley sent us some good news in his Feb. 9 Hot Sheet: Captain Jonathon Smith on the Happy Hooker anchored up at China Camp (in San Pablo Bay near San Rafael) to land a 54-inch diamond back. He said, “…there were a few sturgeon jumping around us.”

Bring us some good gully-washer rains to start a fresh-water flow and we can still have a dandy sturgeon season right through spring, even right up here in the middle of Napa.

This Just In… from Craig Hanson on the Argo berthed in San Francisco. Right now, San Francisco six-packs such as the Argo are limited to just four anglers, giving you lots of space for fishing and social distancing. Craig told us that recent precipitation seems to have given the sturgeon a shove. He’s looking for that bite to improve as more fresh water works through the system.

He plans to run combined trips within a couple of weeks—anchor for sturgeon and stripers; troll for halibut. Take advantage of Craig’s 40 years of fishing these Bay waters; call him at 415 361-7757 to book some trips Tell him Ryan sent you. Remember tackle, bait and fish cleaning are included within the price on the Argo.

Delta Doings… included this past weekend’s 37th Annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon Derby out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor. Great weather pushed the total number of participants up to 919 . For comparison, the Hot Sheet said this annual event in 2019 had only 333 participants.

The target length was 51 inches. First place on Saturday went to Hans Forney, who hit the target right on the nose at 51 inches and scored $6,892. Hovhannes Barseghyan rode a 51¼-inch diamond back to Sunday’s top purse, also 6,892 bucks.

Best Bass Tournaments… are kicking off the 2021 season for all six of its regions. Take your budding bass anglers to a couple of weigh-ins. They are exciting and might attract more youth to tournament bass fishing.

The good news is that two of the BBT Regions hold tournaments right in our own backyard. Here’s a sample: The Northern Region has events scheduled on Clear Lake April 17, June 5 and July 31, and on Lake Berryessa May 8. Their Delta/Wine Region will be at Berryessa March 13, and Clear Lake May 15 and July 24. Add in the Delta on April 3 and June 26 for a full card.

Click on for more information and updates.

Speaking About Berryessa… Thanks to Register reporter Barry Eberling, we learned about two new books centered on Berryessa. One, “Policy and Politics Betray The People,” was written by my friend and collaborator Peter Kilkus, publisher of the Lake Berryessa News. Barry noted that Peter’s views are buttressed by a “love affair” with Lake Berryessa that began in the mid-1990’s, when he bought a mobile home at Steele Park Resort.

I’m sure Peter can be, and will be, a key ingredient as Berryessa turns itself around and becomes one of Napa County’s most important visitor magnets. New visitors, incremental to our present batch in an area where they will broaden the county’s economy, will help the Berryessa region thrive once again. Go get your copy of Peter’s book at your favorite local bookstore now.

Here Is An Interesting… change-up from my pro river guide for the past 28 years, Kevin. He senses that there are going to be a lot of big strong steelhead, up to 20 pounds, cruising Oregon’s famous Umpqua River in the peak time of March. And you can keep two.

He’ll be fishing out of Canyonville, Oregon, an easy ride to just north of Grants Pass on Interstate 5. His recommendation for lodging there is the Seven Feathers Casino (800-548-8461). Better book your trip quickly by calling Kevin at 800-995-5543. I know that water; at every turn you might see a small herd of elk or a red fox checking out the shore. Click for some other 2021 programs with Kevin. We like to fish for wild rainbows on the Sacramento River in Redding in May.

Over the past 28 years, Kevin has become more than a fishing guide to the Ryans. He is a very good friend who we trust completely.

Look at this example: He took a band of California anglers to Alaska’s Kenai River basin to hunt for 40-pound halibut in the bay near Homer and non-stop sockeye salmon action at the Kenai River side. Quick note about success: I brought home 90 pounds of freshly caught ocean protein.

But even more important were the new adventures the trip provided. All the fishing was tide-dependent — miss the tide, miss the fish. Kevin would ring the “Go” bell at 3 a.m. so we could catch the favorable 4 a.m. halibut bite near Homer — or his favorite shoreline sockeye section, which had been under 15 feet of water just three hours before he insisted we cast our white cloth flies. When a band of fish approached, we just flipped the fly upstream and let it drift about three feet for non-stop action. A special treat was fresh doughnuts and hot java at Soldatna’s Moose Is Loose Bakery on the way back to our lodge.

Last year, he specially greeted the team from the St. Helena High School Fishing Club at the Sacramento International Sportsmen’s Expo — and presented each member a new rod and reel plus a bag of tackle items.

Lastly, I’ll never forget Kevin promising a little girl who was bald from cancer treatment that he would grow his hair and donate it to the “Locks of Love” organization, which made wigs for kids suffering from cancer. She died a week later, but Kevin grew his hair for another year before donating it. Sorry, Kevin, if these examples of our long friendship make you shy, but they make me proud to know you.


Kevin Walsh joins and explains why there is value taking the Warriors to win the west at +4200.

Email Bill Ryan at

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