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View Full Version : catching lamprey on the american river



rockmover
03-14-2013, 06:18 PM
They spawn in numbers on the American River mid March thru early June. In 2008 I harvested 1725 pacific lamprey in 20 days. The Howe Ave and Watt Ave river access are your best bet. Their nests standout being bright and shiny, contrasting the river. Looks like same current flow and river medium as salmon spawaning areas. Their beds are several inches to 6 feet in depth, with most being 2 to 21/2 ft depth. Once trying to view a nest in deep fast uptomyneck current, for lamprey,i shifted my foot a 1/4 inch to much and was instandly swept downstream this allowed me to spot 5 sets of 4 lamprey each ,like the #5 configured on a set of dice,in this one 6 ft diameter ,6+ ft deep nest cant swim in this current with waders, felt boots dipnet, witch are specially made, ski pole, capture bag with lamprey, and all other gear so i floated with the current at least 10 min with just my face, hat and sunglasses above water. That afternoon we purchased are first life jackets

In the shallow beds use a cotton glove to catch them by hand. In nest deeper than 18 inches use a dip net ring approx. 12in diameter, 3ft small mesh netting throat and 5ft long study pole. Position yourself at the edge of the down stream side of a occupied nest. Drop net so it contacts the bottom, upper body and net handle are synchronized to maintain the nets position. Tap his nose as lightly as you can. tapping his nose is done with a ski pole. This will trigger his response to float downstream . He will float downstream into the ballooned net. Raise the net fast, otherwise it will escape. Contact with the netting will trigger his flee response. In a fraction of a second is all that is required for him to escape the net, somtimes hydroplaning 30 yards across and down stream until you lose sight of him. If he was in the nest building, or in spawning mode, before disturbing him, 9 out of 10 times within a couple of minutes you will feel him tapping at yor foot trying to return to the same nest.

Tapping the lamprey is done with a free hand and ski pole, that and the net handle are used as walking sticks in the fast current where most lamprey nest are built. Always wear life jackets, neoprene waders, and wading boots. Polarized sunglasses are needed to spot them in the glare of the sun.

Their behavior patterns in this part of their life cycle is fascinating to observe. in their nestbuilding mode I have witnessed them dislodging 6" cobbles with their circular jawless sucking mouth, then floating down stream with the cobble still attached until it releases the rock outside the nest area.I know of no other commercial harvester of lamprey in Calif except my partner and myself. I haved never used cut lamprey for bait but the 5 inch long newly emirged adults from the larva stage are great steelhead prey. I have personally caught a hundred of the new adults in a 2 hr period in and around lamprey nest. By the way Petromyzon THE LAMPREY genus, means rockmover. Goggle map 95826 zip code will place you at the Americn River access points and US 50 in Sacramento. I reside a block from the American River.
Please forgive my amature grammar and puncuation mistakes. Typing for me is a tendious and taxing skill that I have never , until recently, had to use

49erbassman
03-14-2013, 06:33 PM
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.


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shadbuster
03-14-2013, 06:35 PM
Very interesting post, I have never thought of catching lamprey before, I actually have never seen one in the wild before. Do you sell them just for bait? Or do you eat them also?

salmonid
03-14-2013, 07:23 PM
Sounds like Lamprey are doing pretty good down here in California, not the case in states further North. The AR sounds like an amazing place for fish even with the Nimbus dam.

Best,

rockmover
03-15-2013, 04:49 PM
Very interesting post, I have never thought of catching lamprey before, I actually have never seen one in the wild before. Do you sell them just for bait? Or do you eat them also?

2008/2009 was the last year i used my commercial freshwater bait license besides lamprey, also harvested threadfin shad ,yellowfin gobies[mudsuckers],freshwater clams and giant golden shiners 6-10+ inches Ca sport fishing reg 2013-2014 5.40. Lamprey.



(a) Open season: All year, except for closures listed under district or special regulations.
(b) Limit: 5.
(c) Methods of take: Lamprey may be taken only by hand, hook, spear, bow and arrow fishing tackle, or dip net.
(d) The season closures in Chapter 3 (District Trout and Salmon Special Regulations) do not apply to lamprey fishing with methods other than hook and line (see sections 7.00 and 7.50(a)(2)).

be advised !!!the american river parkway prohibits spear and bow and arrow fishing methods

rockmover
03-15-2013, 05:28 PM
Sounds like Lamprey are doing pretty good down here in California, not the case in states further North. The AR sounds like an amazing place for fish even with the Nimbus dam.

Best,



my largest stiper caught in the 1980s was 39 lbs in 2002 icaught four 32pounders in 4 conscutive saturdays in oct/nov off of deckers island ,downstream of rio vista. its nothing to view stipers 10+lbs larger than those in their hunting mode searching for prey on the american river. the AR is an amazing place Thanks

dabalone
03-15-2013, 05:58 PM
Informative post thanks for sharing!

49erbassman
04-23-2015, 07:13 PM
Are you still harvesting eel rockmover?


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dsa2780
04-23-2015, 07:44 PM
Would be awesome to use some live ones as striper bait. That implies there being water around though lol. Still, never know, stripers are supposed to love eel.

FishnBeer
04-23-2015, 10:01 PM
drifting live eels in the ocean is one of the best ways to catch big stripers on the east coast