Napa Valley Fishing Report: Don't rush out for salmon season opener
The Fishing Report

Napa Valley Fishing Report: Don't rush out for salmon season opener


Is The Calendar Speeding Up?… Seems to be – the 2020 salmon season is scheduled to open April 4. I’m told that first limits will be two salmon per day (except cohos) with a minimum length of 20 inches. However, at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s annual salmon information meeting on Feb. 27, we should learn final decisions on length and regulations for the 2020 ocean salmon season.

Start four days earlier with the rockfish opener, and full speed ahead. There is always excitement among both the clients and skipper and crews. I’d be making some bookings for mid-April right now. No, don’t rush out for salmon on the opening day or week. Fish patterns haven’t been established yet, so skippers are still dialing in during those early days. Let somebody else pay for those early trips.

Meanwhile, the extraordinary Dungeness crab season continues at full steam, so go get yours now. Both big party boats like Bodega Bay’s The New Sea Angler (875-3344) and the six-pack Reel Magic (875-2628) told the Monday Hot Sheet that they are still batting a thousand on crab limits all around. That’s a bag of 10 crabs per angler. The recreational season remains open until June 30, providing lots of “combo trip” opportunities with salmon and rockfish coming up soon (as always, thanks to The Monday Hot Sheet for some of these key updates).

Sturgeon Lock-Jaw?… Tough weather conditions and muddy waters have almost shut this bite down right now. But every boat reporting told the Hot Sheet that they are seeing many, many diamondbacks that refuse to bite. Spring is sturgeon time so, as the weather stabilizes, the sturgy bite will ramp up.

Go get yours close to home right in the Napa River. Call local pro guide Brandon Abernathy at 927-6745 or email him at His clients have been catching some big ones right in town.

Yes, There Are Some Big Bass… in Berryessa and here’s the news. reported on last week’s NewJen ( bass tournament results there. Sixty-one boats in the event; top three fish weighed in went 9.71, 7.57 and 5.70 pounds, caught in that order by the top three finishers. Dale Shirley and Dave Tancati scored 17.45 pounds to win the top purse of $5,600. Carson Leber and Andrew Loberg placed second with 16.48 pounds to win $2,750, and Mark White and Chappy Fischer’s 15.54 pounds netted them $1,525.

“Are You Starting To Wonder… when it will rain again?” We are, too. KQED News’ Dan Brekke wrote these very words just nine days ago, and nothing has changed. Dan went on to say, “So, we’re almost at the point at which our current “wet” season – marked as it has been by prolonged periods of rainless, snowless weather punctuated by cold but rather feeble storms – is starting to look like a bust…”

Here’s the sad news for Napa: Napa State Hospital weather station data, reported by the Napa Valley Register on Feb. 20, has February to date with 0.00 inches; the normal February to date is 3.63 inches. Current season to date: 8.22 inches. Normal season to date: 19.37 inches.

Look at the ill effect a prolonged dry spell has on one of our most important fishing waters, Clear Lake. As measured by the Rumsey Gauge, an empty lake is a Rumsey 1 and a full lake is a Rumsey 7.56.

As of Feb. 16, the lake level has been staying just under 4.6 feet. It’s not good to be 3 feel below full with the wetter months behind us. I’m concerned for the bass fishing that begins soon. However, it wasn’t too long ago that we were in the same pickle and got a 3-inch deluge in March that fixed the whole problem. So, stay positive.

Join Me To Applaud Terry Knight… who was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall Of Fame on Jan. 18. Terry is a consummate outdoorsman and has written about that subject for years. He covers the outdoor scene for the Lake County Record-Bee and the Ukiah Daily Journal.

I’m a fan of Terry. We met years ago when I was invited to fish on Clear Lake in the Lakeport Pro-Celeb Bass Tournament. A pro was anyone with a boat and a celeb was anyone with $75. Terry was the manager of the Blast Off. He was in charge of getting 125 boats off the starting line in proper order, without running into each other. He was “The Man.”

I still look forward to meeting him on the dock when I fish Clear Lake. Behind that little bemused smile on his face is always a good suggestion. Congratulations, Terry. You deserve this honor, and you earned it.

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