New Valley and Klamath Salmon Regs for 2015 


The California Fish & Game Commission adopted salmon regulations for the 2015 fishing seasons on Klamath and Sacramento River systems this week. 

The reg change generating the most controversial response is the one that closes all non-tribal sport fishing at the mouth of Blue Creek on the Klamath from June 15 through Sept. 14 from ½ mile below to 500 feet above the confluence of the creek. 

The Commission voted 4-1, ignoring the recommendations from Department of Fish & Wildlife biologists. 

Another new reg adopted by the Commission is for the Klamath Spit. 

The new spit area restriction limits anglers to “catch and keep” for all legally caught Chinook salmon. Additionally, once anglers have retained two adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches or their total daily bag limit they must cease fishing in the spit area.

Other news from the Commission:

The Klamath basin sport fishing quota for adult fall-run Chinook salmon is 14,133 fish. This represents a 250 percent increase over last year’s salmon quota and allowed for an increase in daily bag limit. 

The daily bag limit for fall-run Chinook salmon is three fish, no more than two adults (greater than 22 inches) and the possession limit is nine fall-run Chinook salmon, no more than six adults. 

The 2015 sport fishing season for fall-run Chinook salmon will run from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 on the Klamath River and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 on the Trinity River.

In Sacramento River News, the only change to the Central Valley regulations is an increase in the possession limit from two to four salmon. All other Central Valley regulations remain unchanged from last year.

Fishing Closure Approved on top end of Sacramento River to Protect Endangered Salmon


The California Fish & Game Commission voted today to close a 5.5-mile section of the upper end of the Lower Sacramento River to protect winter run Chinook salmon. 

We are taking proactive measures on two fronts to protect these endangered fish both in the ocean and on their natal spawning habitat,” said CDFW Chief of Fisheries Stafford Lehr. “The fishing communities have stepped forward to support these measures and work towards long-term sustainability of the resource. None of us wanted to be in this situation, but heading into a fourth year of extreme drought calls for extreme measures.”

The closure will take effect around April 27 from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River in Redding upstream to Keswick Dam. 

The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run salmon by anglers.

Read the whole article HERE 

How to Back Troll Plugs for Trout

Dolly Varden
Much has been written about pulling plugs for salmon and steelhead, but what about taking this extremely effective method any applying it to stream trout? Well, the bottom line is “mini steelheading” as I call it, is a super deadly way to hook lots of river trout – and, oh yea, it’s a total gas!

What’s really cool about pulling plugs for trout is you can do it on all sorts of streams. It’s highly productive on larger rivers out of a driftboat or even a sled, but you can also access smaller creeks with a pontoon boat, pram or Tote-N-Float type of vessel. And, there’s a pretty good bet that wherever you do it, the trout haven’t seen the lures you’re presenting to them!


On anadramous waterways, trout plugging gets even more interesting when the occasional spring Chinook, summer steelie, dolly or sea-run cutt latches onto your offering.


Pulling wigglers for trout is a lot like fishing for steelies, with a few subtle tweaks. As with backtrolling for larger species, you want to run the lures the same distance behind the boat – generally 30 to 60 feet, depending on the size of the stream and water clarity. You can keep tabs on how much line you have out by counting passes of the levelwind eye as it travels back and forth across the spool of your reel or by placing fluorescent bobber stops on your line at a pre-measured spot.

Once the lures are in the drink and swimming properly, work them slowly downstream at about half the speed of the current. What’s really nice about this technique is that it allows you to back your bugs into those hard to reach places under cutbanks and overhanging wood and into the heart of boulder gardens – areas that don’t get touched by other anglers.

Brown trout

Again, we’re talking basic backtrolling here – but there is one variation on the theme that seems to work wonders for trout. When you’ve fished your lures to the downstream edges of a particular spot, don’t immediately reel up and move on. Instead, pull on the oars a little harder to get the plugs to start working back upstream. There are days when this subtle tactical adjustment will blow your mind!

Plug Selection

Mini Plugs
Since pulling plugs for trout isn’t super popular, nobody really makes a technique-specific lure for it. So, you’re going to have to troll the aisles of your local tackle shop for inspiration. And, honestly, this may be the part of pulling plugs for trout that I like best. I’m always on the lookout for some tiny crappie crankbait or sexy finesse bass plug that looks like it might make a good trout lure. To that end, I’ve got boxes full of a thousands different “impulse buys” from my travels – some of them work great, others, of course, were duds. To get you started, you can’t go too wrong with Size 50 Hot Shots, old school Pee Wee Warts (if you can find ‘em), Norman Deep Tiny N’s, Yakima Bait MapgLip 3.0, Wally Marshall Crappie Cranks, Matrix Flea Bittys from Shasta Tackle and Strike King’s Mini 3.

Hot Shot rainbow

As far as colors go, you’ll often find that the plugs designed for warm water species don’t have all the cool metallic finishes that we in the cold water arena are so fond of, such as Dr. Death and the various Pirates, etc. But, if you look around, you’ll find some trouty-looking colors. I’m always a believer in silver, gold and copper, but trout also seem to really like craw and frog finishes as well. As with plug fishing for salmon and steelhead, always attach your line to the lure via a plug snap.

There are some days that the fish will crush your lures with reckless abandon and others when they seem a bit more tentative. On the tougher days, a little scent oftentimes will help motivate the trout into biting. A small dab of Atlas-Mike’s Shrimp Lunker Lotion under the bill will often do the trick.

Trout Plugging Tackle

Back in the day, it used to be hard to find a rod that was really well suited to backtrolling for trout. But then the whole kokanee craze hit…problem solved! Kokanee rods are light, with soft tips and make pretty good plugging sticks. There’s a hundred different koke models out there from every manufacturer under the sun, but the one that I really like is the 7’GLoomis MF65436 – the tip is plenty soft enough to allow the plugs to work properly and let fish pull it down without feeling a lot of resistance, but the rod’s also got a surprising amount of power in the lower end. I’ve caught wild rainbows and browns to 5 plus pounds on that stick and it handles them fine. If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, check out the Okuma SST-C-702L

In the reel department, you don’t have to get too fancy…after all, we’re not talking 20 pound steelhead, here. Still, you’re going to want something with a smooth drag because you’ll be using light line and occasionally dealing with big fish. I’ve always used a 100 series Shimano Calcutta or Curado, but any small baitacster of reasonable quality will suffice.

Rainbow trout

You’ll notice that all the gear listed so far has been conventional style. I just like fishing with — and fighting fish on — baitcasters more than spinning tackle. However, if you’re going to be doing a little solo plugging out of a pontoon boat or pram, you may want to switch to spinning. Light plugs don’t cast well on levelwinds and it can be a pain to get them back behind the boat when you’ve got both hands on the oars. With a spinning rod, you can cast the lure straight downstream, close the bail and be fishing in about 3 seconds flat.

When it comes to line, there are a couple trains of thought: braid and mono. I’ve used both and kinda go back and forth. Generally speaking, mono is the better choice for plug fishing because it has some stretch that acts like a shock absorber when a fish mollyhocks your lure. The give in the line helps keep fish buttoned much better than no-stretch braid, but there are some downfalls as well.

Tiny plugs are pretty temperamental little buggers and you really need to run a light line to get them to dive down in fast water. Four-pound test is about ideal. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of room for error with line that light if you happen to hook a wayward springer or summer steelie. Additionally, little plugs will kick to the surface when they pick up even a slight bit of moss or weeds. If a plug spins, unnoticed, on the surface for more than a few seconds, you’re going to have some seriously twisted mono.

Sometimes you get a bonus fish when plugging for trout!

Sometimes you get a bonus fish when plugging for trout!

Braid solves those problems – it is very resistant to twisting and enables you to use a heavier-rated line in a thin diameter. I’ve had great success with Pline braid in 10-pound (it has a the diameter of 2-pound mono). It’s expensive and breaks down fairly quickly, but it’s also durable and very supple. With any braid, just remember to run a 5- to 10-foot section of mono or fluorocarbon between the lure and the end of the braided stuff. As I mentioned earlier, however, you’re going miss more grabs due to braid’s lack of “bungeeness.” A soft rod really helps combat this issue and the other thing you can do is run a super light drag until you’ve got a positive hookup.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it – the basic concepts of trout plugging. All that’s left now is to get out there and give it a whirl. But before I turn you loose on the trout in your neighborhood, here’s one last thing to consider: It’s not a bad idea to swap out the stock trebles on your plugs with barbless siwashes. Trebles can really tear up a trout’s small mouth and there’s no sense leaving a trail of carnage in your wake.


West Coast Ocean Conditions Not Looking Good for Salmon & Steelhead

Juvenile (and adult) salmon  and steelhead will likely encounter a much less hospitable ocean, compared to the last few years thanks to sea surface temperatures being several degrees Celsius above average.

This of course means food sources will probably be much less nutritious as the fish head north to the Gulf of Alaska.

“No way is it going to be a good year for migrating juvenile salmon,” says NOAA Fisheries researcher Bill Peterson, who noted that he has never seen anything like these conditions during his long career studying the ocean off the West Coast.

As a result of the warm water, chances are good that mackerel, tuna and squid populations will be found farther north than usual. California squid fishermen, who normally fish off Monterey, have already had to cruise to northern California to find them, Peterson said. Mackerel and squid are known predators of young salmon. Hake populations should be building with the warmer waters as well. Hake prey on young salmon, but if other forage fishes are around, hake seem to prefer them to salmon.

You can read the whole story HERE