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Betty Woo

Betty Woo hooked this nice 15-pound San Pablo Bay striper when the outgoing tide flow ramped up.

Winter Water Recap… Here’s a quick update on the waters I watch for you every winter:1. Smith River at the JED reporting station – Stage (depth) has stayed pretty even at 7 feet for the past week. Flow in cubic feet per second is trending down and presently at 1,600 cfs. These are lousy conditions for steel heading because of the lack of rain.

2. Clear Lake Rumsey Gauge – Trending down slightly over the past week to a present depth of 3.05 feet. A Rumsey at 7.56 feet is considered a full lake.

More On Clear Lake… Sun-up water temperature starts at around 49 degrees right now, and can build to 53 or 54 degrees by afternoon. These numbers might fall off a bit with the colder weather.

At least 50 degrees is believed to be needed to start the spring bass movement into shallow water.

Smart anglers will plan their day on the water to get the most out of warmer water. Start in the northwest corner of the water because the morning sun warms that area first. Throughout the day, keep an eye on the water temp gauge to see even small changes and head to the warmest spots. I’m not sure how a bass can either know where the warmer water is, or know how to find it.

However, Bob Myskey reported a solid bite in sunny weather on the 17th – with “28 largemouth bass caught and released unharmed.”

My fishing partner, Doug Roberts, and I will be on the water with pro guide Jeremy Taylor (349-6797) next week, so stay tuned; I might ask a bass about his heat-seeking apparatus. I’m told the bass lures of choice right now include jerk baits, under spins, drop shots and shaky head jigs. Wonder if we should warm ’em up for better results?

More Stripers… on the Napa? The ace field scouts at Sweeney’s on Imola (255-5544) reported solid striper action with live mud suckers and splittails closer to town. Try anchovies, too. They also reported that the sturgeon bite has been tentative, with the diamondbacks picking up the bait and then dropping it. I was taught to let them take it as they position it to swallow, then wack ’em as hard as you can. My buddy Jim Barfield calls it “rip some lips.”

And In The Salt… we learn that moving water is the key to starting a fish bite. Captain Craig Hanson on the Argo at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf validated that major truth again with a report of Betty Woo’s dandy 15-pound striper on San Pablo Bay last week. He said, “…when the tide turned and the outgoing flow ramped up, so did the bites.“ He went on to say that the Bay striper bite has been solid throughout January and into February. Lack of precipitation has slowed down the sturgeon action for him – but it has drawn some sharks and bat rays in.

Apparently, a 50-pound bat ray will give you a real battle. Kids love shark fishing inside the bay – no sea-sickness.

Craig told us that a real soaking would be needed to crank the sturgeon bite back up, but light tackle trolling for stripers in March along with an expected solid halibut bite will keep the Argo team busy this spring. Craig is the perfect guy to take you fishing here. His 40 years of knowledge of and activity on local waters are a priceless dividend. The Argo is the perfect fishing vessel for a family outing or a business round table – it fishes just six with all the amenities and space to make it a special day. Bait, tackle and fish cleaning are included in the price. Call Craig at 415-361-7757 to book the Argo. You’ll be captain for a day, with Craig doing all the work.

Tuesday, Feb. 27... is the date and 5:30-6:30 p.m. is the time for St. Helena’s next “Wild St. Helena” event at the St. Helena Public Library on Library Lane. This time, the subject is skunks. UC Berkeley researcher Jennifer Hunter will tell us about these fascinating and underappreciated California carnivores.

Come early. This “Wild Series,” curated by our own Napa County Resource Conservation District, is usually standing room-only by the time the mic goes on.

Last Call… to get your car full of young fly anglers for the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show this weekend. This friendly affair is back for its 2018 run at Alameda County Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday, Feb. 23-25. A highlight will be the International Fly Fishing Film Festival Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. Get directions and all event details and sign-ups at

This is a special gathering of fly fishing enthusiasts. The event is complete, but small enough for you and your kids to belly up close and personal with some real pros. You can find all of the answers here. Years ago, I filled up my trusty old Toyota with kids for a day of learning in Pleasanton. Tell me about your own car-full.

Email Bill Ryan at