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Trout plants come in all sizes

Sacramento River opens to salmon fishing
By: George deVilbiss
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The California Department of Fish and Game has planted catchable-sized trout in waters throughout the state for decades. Environmental groups have questioned the plants with the premise that the practice may do more damage than the benefit derived. The primary “damage” is the competition these newly introduced fish may pose to indigenous, native species for that particular waterway, stream, lake or reservoir. The two have presented their arguments in court. Each side, in a sense, has come out a winner. Trout plants haven’t ended, but for the DFG to introduce hatchery-born and raised trout into the waters, it must conduct a study for that particular water. The study must conclude what particular sensitive needs or indigenous species may be in and even near that particular water and whether they may be negatively impacted by the introduction of the hatchery fish. For a while, almost all trout plants were suspended while the studies were being conducted. Today, most waters have had their studies and again are being visited by tanker trucks from DFG hatcheries. Many anglers know what waters will be planted and when, and they’ll schedule their visits to coincide with a recent planting. Rarely, however, are the fish the DFG plants of trophy, bragging size. It isn’t economically feasible for the DFG to keep them that long. Generally, fish that go down the pipe from the truck into the waterway are from 8-12 inches and weigh from a quarter-pound to 1 pound. Occasionally, excess brood stock will be used from the hatchery, and those are the trophy-sized trout, but few are planted. There are numerous private hatcheries, however, that aren’t under the same restrictions as the state, and the fish they plant generally are much bigger. The private and semi-private lakes that contract with private hatcheries do pay a hefty price tag for the purchased trout. Lake Amador has a hatchery where it raises the Donaldson strain of rainbow-cutthroat. It can plant trout when it wants and choose its size, and most are big fish. Nearby Lake Pardee receives regular trout plants from the DFG, and the fishery is enhanced by private plantings almost weekly. Same for Lake Camanche. And so it goes. Rest assured that just about anywhere you want to go, the fishery has been enhanced to the point you have a reasonable chance of catching a fish. Current fishing Sacramento River: The river opened to salmon fishing a week ago from the Carquinez Bridge to Knights Landing and, in some areas, the river was fairly well-visited by anglers wanting to put salmon on the table without having to travel to ocean waters. Anglers trolled. Others anchored and let their lures work in the current – Kwikfish, spinners and Flatfish, some with sardine wrappers, others plain. Overall, the opener was pretty much as expected: downright poor. Look for a lot of boat traffic in the area of the confluence of the Sacramento-Feather River. That’s where some of the best action has been found. Lake Pardee: It’s a popular lake with anglers from all over. The lake closes every year for a few months and this year, the lake will close Oct. 31. If you find out when the lake is going to be planted, fishing from shore in the Rec Area Cove is red-hot and limits are common. Fish move out of the cove quickly, though, and into the main body of the lake. Quick limits of kokanee are the rule if you get an early start, but the fishery isn’t going to last much longer with its spawning time approaching. Folsom Lake: Fishing has improved, but it’s still a case where you need to watch your scope carefully. Find rocky structures and points running about 20 feet down, and start drop-shotting your plastics. The main body of the lake is producing well.