Trolling Up A Limit Of Big Kings Below Verona
Written By: Dan Bacher, October 8, 2013
Species: River Salmon,
Location: Sacramento River- Delta, Sacramento River- Middle, Feather River- Lower, Klamath River, American River - Lower, Mokelumne River- Lower, Consumnes River,
No fish excites anglers in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area more this time of year than Chinook salmon. Fishermen and guides have reported mixed salmon fishing success since the season began on July 16, but the fishing has improved dramatically in the Sacramento and Verona areas over the past couple of weeks as the fall run moves into the area in force.
One of the most popular areas to troll for salmon in the fall is the section of the Sacramento below the mouth of Feather at Verona, where Rob Reimers of Rustic Rob’s Guide Service has found success for the past four years.
The Sacramento River Fall Chinook ocean abundance estimate developed earlier this year was 834,000, slightly above last year’s forecast, according to Dr. Michael O’Farrell of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The targeted escapement of fish to the river is at least 250,262 fish this fall.
It will be interesting to see if the numbers of fish returning to the system will meet the projections when carcass counts on the rivers and hatchery counts are added up by state and federal biologists early next year.
Rob Reimers of Rustic Rob’s Guide Service invited me out to troll either the Feather River or the river below Verona several times – and I was finally able to make it on September 18.
Prior to our trip, he reported full limits for two anglers on two trips and slower fishing on the next trip with one fish boated by three anglers on the Sacramento below Verona.
“The fishing on the Sacramento is good, not excellent this year to date,” rated Reimers. “It’s about an average year.”
I told Reimers I was hoping to catch a limit of salmon on this day. Although I have caught limits of chinooks many times on other sections of the Sacramento, my best previous trip out of the Verona area had produced just one fish.
We launched on the river out of Verona Marina and Reimer drove his jet boat a small distance below the launch ramp to anchor up. “The fishing while anchored up is generally best the first hour of the day,” he noted. “After that, we find more success while trolling.”
We put out four rods, all rigged with Reimer’s custom K-14 Flatfish with a silver Colorado spinner blade and blue beads in front. “I found the best action on plugs with chartreuse bodies with silver heads,” he said.
He explained his reason for developing the combo spinner/plug set-ups. “People catch salmon while using spinners and Kwikfish or Flatfish,” said Reimers. “I decided to combine the best of both. These combo lures combine the vibration and flash of a spinner with the action of a plug. The spinner blade attracts fish and then they hit the Kwikfish or Flatfish.”
There were about a dozen boats that we could see anchored above or below us. An angler in a boat just above us hooked and landed a 10 lb. king, but we didn’t have any more bites. After an hour of anchor fishing, we pulled up our lures and started trolling the same rigs, with lighter weights, from Verona Joe’s to Rio Ramaza.
“The section of river is a prime one to troll in because it is a long, sweeping corner and the salmon also hang to the outside of long corners,” he tipped. “In addition, there are not a lot of snags in this area. I like to troll at speeds of 2.8 to 3.2 mph.”
We kept trolling until around 8:30 a.m. when we had a hook-up. I grabbed the rod and fought a chinook as Reimers got the other rods out of the holders. The very scrappy salmon fought near the surface and never sounded like many of them do.
Reimers soon netted the fish – it turned out to be a bright, silvery female weighing 14 pounds. We did “high fives” after the catch and resumed trolling.
It wasn’t until 11:30 a.m. that we hooked another fish. I grabbed the rod and noted to Rob that this fish felt much bigger. The fish made a number of runs and sounded near the bottom. When I got it near the surface, I could see it was a big, hook jawed buck with copper brown color on the sides. Rob quickly netted the fish in the boat.
Rob trolled his rods for another hour, but didn’t get any more bites and we decided to call it a day. I was stoked because I had caught a limit of quality salmon out of Verona for the first time.
Reimers noted that the fish he has caught in the Verona area this year have been good-sized, averaging 20 to 22 pounds and going up to 28 pounds. This is a contrast with 2011, when many of the fish were the smaller jack salmon.
After our trip, the bite slowed down in the Verona region, so Reimers switched over to booking trips in the Ord Bend/Orland area. His latest trip there produced 5 fish for 3 anglers back trolling with plugs and back bouncing roe.
He plans to fish that area until November 1 and then will start targeting salmon in the Knights Landing area until the closure of the salmon season on the Sacramento on December 16. After that, he will switch over to sturgeon fishing.
Reimers experienced great salmon fishing in the Feather River near Shanghai Bend in August and early September, but the fishing shut down in that area after the California Department of Resources reduced flows to 1750 cfs.
For more information, contact Rob Reimers of Rustic Rob’s Guide Service, 530-632-0051, http://www.rusticrob.com.
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