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The Fishing Report: St. Helena's Fetzers enjoy Vicarious Fishing Adventure

Courtesy of the

Napa Valley Register

  • Our First VFR Of The Year … St. Helena angler Pat Fetzer shares this nice, warm-weather “Vicarious Fishing Adventure” with us from the Baja. Pat and his son Alec boated over 20 fish, including roosterfish, dorado, jack crevelle and sierra mackerel. In late December, Grant Hartman’s Baja Anglers out of Cabo San Lucas (619-955-7026) put them on this bonanza in shallow water, where they used light tackle and live bait.

    Pat went on to say, “We released all but the dorado, one of which we took to a local restaurant (in San Jose del Cabo) and had it cooked up three ways (tacos, ceviche and sautéed) – excelente!

    Napa River Sturgeon Hunters Alert! … As of Monday, our little Sulphur Creek was up and running for the first time this year. The color was a watered-down chicken stock but promised rain through Tuesday should have muddied it up. We hope to send it down to you to wake up those big sturgeon and bring them up closer to town. You might want to get out your sturgeon gear, tune it up, get needed stuff at Sweeney’s Sports – and ask them for bait ideas and to give you some of their favorite diamond back honey holes. I know mud shrimp work well here, but are scarce right now. Check around.

    Learn Even More … when the bite stinks? I’m convinced that you can learn more about a fishing guide when he faces adversity than when the bite is red hot. That happened to Stan Press and me last week when we went bass fishing at Clear Lake with pro guide Jeremy Taylor, who was new to me. We got skunked but, in the process, found a really good bass guide. Everything was against us, and it was my fault. I insisted that we fish. We had killer east winds, big waves and swells, high winds, on and off rain showers, and gusty winds.

    Well, none of these kept Jeremy from being a professional guide in every way. Boat clean and prepped? Check. Rods and reels ready to fish different systems? Check. Try the best spots on the lake that the wind would give us? Check. Use scent on the plastics? Check. Describe the situation at each stop, including the water depth to help us improve our chances? Check. Stay upbeat and positive? Check. Smile? Check.

    You get the picture. My next move was easy – book Jeremy again. You can book him at 707-349-6797. Just know that the bass guide business gets crazy from March through June, so make your plans and bookings as early as you can. We have four separate Clear Lake dates reserved already.

    Fishermen Are Only Part Of The Constituency … needing fresh water flows ample enough to sustain the delta smelt. Our own friends and neighbors farm, fish, vacation and water ski in the delta. So we all ought to be concerned and anxious about the present state of the delta smelt (an indicator critter that tells us if the water ways are healthy and sustainable). Look at this note from Barbara Barrigan-Parilla at “Restore The Delta”:

    “America’s first fish species could be lost forever under Governor Brown’s watch. With only two delta smelt identified in the last fish survey, state and federal agencies need to focus time, money, and energy on restoring smelt populations instead of turning up the pumps.”

    Unfortunately, against all credible expert advice, Jerry is promoting some evil tunnels to take more water from our delta to ship down south to Wall Street farmers – worse, at a discount. Tell Jerry and your state and federal representatives and senators to can this terrible idea.

    2017 DFW Steelhead Report and Restoration Card … due back by Jan. 31. Did you fish for steelheads in California in 2017? Here’s the poop: You can submit a report online at or mail your report card to CDFW at: Department of Fish and Wildlife, Steelhead Fishing Report Card, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244.

    And A San Francisco End-note … It had to happen eventually. A new restaurant this summer named “Angler” from the chef, Joshua Skenes and wine director, Mark Bright of three-Michelin-starred Saison. Where else? On the waterfront at 178 Townsend St. I’m looking to try it out this summer. Who’s game for a late afternoon ferry to SF; early Angler dinner and the last boat home?

    Email Bill Ryan at

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