Bundle up, find hot fishing in the cold

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
-A +A

Wow, so I guess it’s suddenly winter, eh? We went from the most ridiculously nice 75-degree Indian Summer days to 25 degrees seemingly overnight. Then, we have more rain coming in over the weekend.
What this all means, of course, is that fishing may just be a little more of a challenge in the immediate future because of all the dramatic changes in the barometric pressure. The rapid bouncing of the barometer can really put our finned friends off the bite.
However, there are some bright spots out there — if you know where to look — and don’t mind bundling up. Let’s take a look:
Amador Cuttbows
As per usual, the Lockhart family down at Lake Amador has been pumping their little lake full of hard-fighting Donaldson rainbows since October and this is typically the time of year that they start going on a really good chew.
If you’ve never fished for Amador’s trout, I’ve got to say that they are some of the nicer planters you’ll ever encounter. The fish are a rainbow-cutthroat-steelhead hybrid and are raised on-site in circular pens. What you end up with is really nice looking hatchery fish that have all their fins intact. They fight really well and spend most of their time right on the surface.
You can fish the main body of the lake around the dam with Kastmasters, olive Woolly Buggers and nightcrawlers under a bobber for fish that average 2 pounds.
American River Steelies
Salmon season ended Nov. 29. However, the steelhead bite has been pretty strong in the open section (from the Ancil Hoffman Park powerline crossing down to the mouth). The fish are they typical fall-run “egg eater” variety that range in size from 2 to 5 pounds but there’s also a shot at some early winter-run fish this time of year as well.
The fish have been eating plugs, drifted roe and nightcrawlers, spinners and egg patterns fished under indicators. Now, flows have gone from 2,000 cfs to 4,000 cfs over the past several days and that has spread the fish around a bit. When things settle back in, the bite should be worth pursuing again.
Berryessa Kitties
After a good fall rain, the catfish in Lake Berryessa move to the mouths of feeder creeks and gorge on the terrestrial buffet that the streams wash down. The best bet is to hit this a day or two after the rain, so you may want to put it in the back of your head for early next week after the next round of storms hit.
When you find a nice muddy tributary, bait up with nightcrawlers, clams, mackerel or chicken liver for some face paced action on fish that can top 10 pounds pretty frequently.
Collins Lake Rainbows
Collins has been pretty heavily planted already this year and anglers have been seeing nice rainbows to 4 pounds while dragging flasher/crawler combinations up near the surface in the main lake body off the boat ramp and up towards the bridge.
The lake will continue to see more and more fresh plants of rainbows as the winter progresses, so this should be a solid bet for months to come.
Delta Sturgeon
The striper bite has been a little up and down with the weather lately but the sturgeon fishing down around Pittsburg has been about as good as it gets for the past several weeks. The influx of cold water from the storms has put a little damper on the action but there are still fish to be had. Most of the boats have been fishing deeper water off the channel edges. Grass shrimp, eel and salmon roe have been the best producers.