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Fall breaks loose
Thursday, October 28, 2004

What a nice storm last week, and it did the trick. Last weekend the salmon and steelhead action opened up. The rivers received the new water they needed, and there were cries of joy from the Smith River in Oregon to the Napa River. The salmon began to complete their mission, and all other fish felt the surge of fall and new water. The mouth of the Russian had plenty of new action for anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead.

A new surge of ducks has poured into the Sacramento Refuge, and fresh birds are funneling into Tule Lake. Grizzly Island saw a strong movement of migrators, but sometimes these storms move birds out. The Central Valley and our area are ready for the duck season. The recent rains brought new water to the Sacramento, and all duck clubs are filling with water.

It is good to have these early rains to make our hills green again, and to refresh our creeks and vegetation. Then there is that fresh rain smell, the cleansing of the air.

Such weather provides bonus fishing. Every time we have our first good rain or a boost of a few inches of new rain, the catfish at Conn and Berryessa move up into the creeks to feed. Get some cut bait, or even worms and give it a try. If it were me, I'd be up in Putah Creek with cut herring, fishing some of those creek mouths for big cats. Welcome, fall.

Eagle Lake/Lake Almanor

Since many of our local residents have homes and friends in the Eagle Lake and Lake Almanor area, I try to cover the major changes there, and now is the hot time for Eagle Lake.

My contacts tell me that catching 3 to 8 fish a morning is not uncommon, and many are being caught in 1 to 3 feet of water in the shallows. The best news is that some nice 8-pound fish have been caught in the lake during the past two weeks, and that is good for Eagle. There, the biggest fish for the past few years have weighed only 6 pounds. Lake Almanor is turning out some nice rainbow, salmon, and big browns, and that action should continue through the end of the year.


• Wild Game Week returns to Hurley's Restaurant in Yountville. Chef "Wild Bob" Hurley will be featuring venison, antelope, buffalo, boar, rabbit, caribou, ostrich, and Scottish wood pigeon as well as sailfish. This event takes place Nov. 1-6.

• The annual gun show returns to Santa Rosa Nov. 5, 6 and 7 at the Flamingo Hotel. The next Napa gun show is set for March, 2005.

• Nov. 13 is the opening date for pheasant and the fall turkey season. This year the pheasant season goes through Christmas. It is not that there are any more pheasants (we actually have fewer), but for those who can find the opportunity, the season will be extended. Nov. 13 is also the re-opening of the second half of dove season.

Quail hunting

Now that we have had some rain and other seasons are opening, it is time to go quail hunting and take some of those great, tasty targets for table fare before nature cuts their numbers naturally. We have some good numbers of valley quail in the wine country and coastal ranges, but once jumped, many quail head for the brush country. Then it is hard to get them out for second and third shots. If you have a good dog and permission to hunt some of the brush ranches, it is possible to have a good day along the creek bottoms. Our quail season lasts into January.

Enjoy the wrap-up of October; we have a big month of activity in November, and I'll be right there with you.

Napa Valley Register outdoors columnist George Carl can be reached at 253-0665 or

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