I walked outside one morning this week and it suddenly hit me: I had spring fever! You know … the fishing variety. It’s the kind of thing that’s triggered by all your senses. Everything looks, smells, sounds and feels just right for the big fish to bite!
After the last few disappointing years of false hope and soured seasons, I feel like it’s a breath of fresh air to have some near normal conditions again. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough to get my hopes up of a turnaround. For the past few months, the anticipation of our lakes filling up kept me cheering each and every storm, building confidence that levels might just reach some regular benchmarks. I celebrated each time I heard about the water percentages of our parched lakes rising, almost like rooting on my favorite team to a championship. Deep down I could almost taste what it would be like to again fish my favorite spots.
However, I was also cautious because I had an uneasy feeling that water management might not be as straightforward as I would like to think. More water might not mean full reservoirs for us. Still, as unwilling victims of the water wars, I think most of us feel a wet cookie is better than no cookie at all. But I digress! Why let uncontrollable negative factors spoil a perfectly good spring fishing season?
So where do we begin with so many choices? Anglers are having to choose among everything from sturgeon, catfish, stripers, bass and trout to kokanee, crappie, bluegill, crabs and surf perch as well as the upcoming rockfish and salmon seasons! Some of these bites have been on fire for a few weeks, while others are just unfolding, such as the salmon season. It remains to be seen how good or how long each might last.
It’s frustrating to wait all winter for good conditions to develop, and then in a couple of weeks have it explode with all the fish biting at the same time. Most anglers are eagerly looking forward to the next full moon or two, which also will set up the spawn for big bass, stripers. Some lakes are rising while others are starting to hold at more stable levels – another variable in the early bite to consider.
There are so many good bites, you need to carefully pick the right poison or you’ll feel like you blew it and instead could have gone fishing somewhere else much better. This time of year has created more “darned if I do and darned if I don’t” scenarios as I’ve tried to anticipate hitting a big bite at just the right time. I’ve actually planned many times to fish one lake for a few hours and if it’s not good to move to plan B and hedge my bet during a good bite window. Can’t waste a key time working dead water – especially when it’s on fire somewhere else!
I hate to say it, but it may be critical to fish the next few weeks hard. I’m already seeing signs that our local lakes may be stepping up water releases very soon. I was shocked when I saw Millerton and San Luis actually let some water out this past week. I’m hoping I’m wrong: I certainly don’t have any idea of how they view management of the current levels and what they’ll do once the snowpack begins to melt. I don’t think we can look to historic water levels as a guide. My hope is that they will hold as much water for as long as they can in our reservoirs. I believe the timing of warm weather and a melting snowpack are the wildcards that could greatly affect us.
Bottom line: I think that taking advantage of the best water levels we’ve seen in a few years for as long as they last is all we can hope for. The bites are good, so now is the time! Never give up.
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,