Okay, so what’s wrong with this picture??
Give up? The problem here is….this is the Yuba City (CA) Boat Ramp along the Feather River on Oct. 5. In what should be prime chinook salmon fishing time, there was only one boat trailer in the lot. Just a few years back, this place would have been wall-to-wall rigs, but with absolutely no salmon showing up this season, nobody’s fishing.
Of course, we did anyway. It was one strange trip…
Normally, I guide all 31 days in October and I haven’t had a day to go “fun fishing” in October since about 1998, but with this year’s crappy salmon returns, I had a day to fish with a couple buddies yesterday, The Vin-Man and BR.
After launching Vin-Man’s boat, I noticed a school of American shad (what the??) milling around at the ramp, so BR ties on a jig and promptly hooks a couple…er…October shad. And that pretty much set the tone for the day.
Over the years, I’ve caught plenty of late shad on the Feather in August and early September on eggs fishing for kings, but I’ve never seen them in October. Methinks something a little weird is going on…shad, but no salmon, in the fall.
After seeing exactly zero salmon roll on the Feather, we took a side trip up the Yuba — mainly to test the shallow-water capabilities of Vin-Man’s boat (tested, indeed!), but also to see, just for curiosity’s sake, how many salmon were in the system. In a couple of the fishier-looking spots, we ran some plugs and came away with 1 sluggish take-down, which resulted in this beauty…
BR was nice enough to pose with the hideous thing, but in the interest of full-disclosure, it was I who hooked this jumbo squaw. BR wanted to bonk it and then had second thoughts — with no salmon eggs or smolt to eat in the future, we kinda felt sorry for this guy and let him on his way.
On our complete 12-mile run on the Yuba, we saw fewer than one salmon per mile….absolutely depressing! A couple of intimate encounters between the jet’s intake and the river’s cobble proved to be the most exciting parts of our day, but Cap’n Vin-Man did a nice job and got us home safely…had he spied that tree in the water a nano-second later, things may have been a little more interesting than we would have cared for, however…
As thoroughly disheartening as it was to see & catch more American shad and squawfish than salmon, a good time was had by all. I’m always grateful to get a chance to get out and fish with the boys now and then. Thanks, man. Maybe we’ll have to go bluegill fishing in December or try to chase winter steelhead next July!