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Outdoors: Salmon opener decent, but best yet to come

By: J.D. Richey
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The very much-anticipated inland salmon opener took place on Monday and, overall, it wasn?t exactly a barnburner. Though portions of the Sacramento, Feather, Mokelumne and American rivers all opened to salmon fishing July 16, the majority of the action came from the Sac and Feather. There were some spurts of really good action for a handful of boats here and there but the average scores were fairly low. Not to worry, however! The early season fishing in July is typically only fair and the bite this week was actually a little better than I expected, which is yet another factor pointing to what should be some seriously banner fishing coming up in the not-so-distant future. The best report I got was from Vance Staplin (the man behind Vance?s Tackle), who fished with three friends on the Sacramento out of Woodson Bridge near Chico. Back-bouncing K16 Kwikfish, his group landed eight beautiful chromers, the smallest of which was a 14-pound buck. The rest were cookie-cutter 18-pound hens. Staplin admitted to having been on a prime spot and that most boats in the area had more like one-to-three kings each. Downstream, there were a few fish caught at Knights Landing and Verona and maybe a half dozen or so were taken on the opener at Discovery Park at the mouth of the American. Over on the Feather, there was some action in the Outlet Hole and downstream in the Oroville Wildlife area for boaters bouncing eggs or Kwikfish. Before you go, check the regs ? the Outlet Hole has some new closure areas and it?s a bit confusing. Go to www. fishwithjd.com and click on the Feather River Fishing Report Page to see an aerial map with GPS coordinates of the closed area. With flows over 8,000 cfs on the opener, the buoy in the middle of the Outlet Hole, which marks one end of the closure boundary was underwater and apparently, the DFG has been letting people fish higher up than they will be able to once flows recede and the buoy is again visible. I wouldn?t count on that, however! No need to get a ticket. Downstream at the Shanghai Rapids, a crowd has been gathering each morning, fishing on anchor with sardine-wrapped FlatFish and Kwikfish and there have been a few fish caught since the opener. Again, nothing too exciting yet but things are about to change! The ocean salmon fishing out off the Golden Gate at W and N buoys has been stupid-good lately and that means those fish are starting to hone in on the final approach to the rivers. Once the schools decide it is time to go home, the rivers are going to load up! This has been one of the most prolific summers of salmon season off the coast we?ve seen in quite some time and that, of course, means there are plenty of fish bound for the Sacramento Valley. I?m starting my guiding the first week of August on the Sacramento and then will bounce around to the Klamath, Trinity, American, Feather and, finally, back to the Sacramento before it?s all over. I expect the fishing to really kick into high gear in early August and then run through at least Thanksgiving. So, get your smokers ready?2012 looks like it is going to be the Year of the Salmon! For guided trip info, go to www.thesportfisher.com or call (916) 388-1956. J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate whose outdoors pieces have been published nationally. Find him online at www.fishwithjd.com.