The Minn Kota was keeping the boat almost stationary below the falls on the Feather River. Using the term “falls” might be a bit of an over statement. The falls are basically a section of rapids that punctuate a relatively placid stretch of the Feather not far from Yuba City.
Whether you call them falls or rapids they look fishy, with lots of current in some areas, current breaks in other places and big eddies swirly near the banks.
We already had landed over a dozen stripers that morning up to about 22 inches, but when Captain Manny hooked up and passed the rod to Richard Cummings, we could tell right away that it was a much larger fish.
The Cousins rod bent heavily and the reel grudgingly payed out Yo-Zuri braid as the bass surged away using the current to its advantage.
“Pull in your lines guys,” Manny exclaimed. “We may have to follow this one.”
With my line in, I turned my attention to shooting video of the developing battle.
Richard has fought his share of big fish and it showed. He stayed calm, kept the rod loaded as Manny eased the boat several yards down river matching the pace of the bass.
When the striper realized that it wasn’t creating any real distance between itself and whatever was fighting it, the fish changed strategy. In true husky striper manner, it dropped to the bottom and bulldogged hard as it swam back and forth behind the boat.
At first Richard couldn’t gain line and then as the fish lost energy he started recovering braid. At first the fish would come in a few yards and then shoot back out, but within a few minutes Richard had the fish directly under the boat and Bill and I watched expectantly for a first glance at the battler as Manny stood ready with the net.
After playing a bit of hide ‘n’ seek just below the surface, a beautiful broad-bodied spring striper revealed itself, materializing out of the muddy water. Manny moved with the net and a moment later the bass was in the boat.
It was a husky female around 30 inches long and weighing more than 10 pounds, so it was quickly revived and released after I snapped off a couple photos.
Richard landed the bass I just described on May 5 during a Cal Kellogg School of Fishing trip with Captain Manuel Saldana Jr. The crew for the day consisted of the afore mentioned Richard and Manny, Bill Groome and myself.
During high water springs, the striper action tends to be intense in the Sacramento, Feather and Yuba Rivers as the spawning bass are drawn out of the Delta and pulled far up river by big flows.
The action in the Feather River in particular has been outstanding for more than a month and promises to hold up well into the month of June with continued high flows and a seemingly inexhaustible parade of bass surging into the system.
On May 5, we started the day fishing and exploring above and below the Yuba City launch ramp and we had a fair amount of action, landing a mix of keeper and shaker bass.
Richard, Bill and Manny focused on back bouncing live minnows on three way rigs, while I stood on the bow shooting photos and tossing a variety of different lures including swimbaits and rip baits. I couldn’t keep pace with the minnows but I caught the occasional bass.
In the afternoon, we dropped down river and worked the area from the rapids I described earlier downstream. The section immediately below the rapids produced Richard’s 30 incher, a 7 pound male that we kept and some smaller keepers that we tossed back.
Since we were enjoying steady action we knew we could fill out our limits whenever we wanted so we kept releasing fish. This allowed Manny to continue scouting down river.
The hottest fishing of the day took place on a broad sand flat where the river made a big looping bend. There were scores of stripers holding in an area 30 or 40 yards off the bank and we got after them pretty good. Richard and Bill smacked them with minnows, while I caught several vertically jigging a Gibbs Minnow.
With the bite slowing on the sandbar, we put the final few keepers into the box and called it a day. Bill and Richard went home with sacks of fillets and some awesome gear from my sponsors at Abu Garcia, Penn and Berkley.
I’ve fished with Manny a couple times this spring and will fish with him more in the future. He is a lot of fun to fish with and very knowledgeable. If you’d like to nail some Feather River stripers or join him for some river salmon action once the season kicks into gear, give him a call at (530) 301-7455.