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The Fishing Report: Yolo Bypass ideal for outdoor sports types

Liesl Wolf Heinemann
St. Helena teen angler Liesl Wolf Heinemann and her buddy, Sophie, have a look at Liesl’s Yolo Bypass catfish limit. Have a look at the 5-pound fatty in the center.
  • Local Anglers, Local Angling … It has been the backbone of many of my 321 fishing columns to date. Now screen it one more time to get the cream of the crop – highlights of young men and women. And one more cut to one of my favorite young woman fisherpersons – Liesl Wolf Heinemann, who certainly leads in the category of numbers of fish species targeted.

    This month it is catfish in the Yolo Bypass on the Sacramento River near Sacramento. That unique area helps divert flood water from Sacramento and other nearby riverside communities – while creating a large and unique area covering over 16,000 acres where outdoor sports enthusiasts can get their fill of wildlife. Go online to to plan a trip.

    Have a look at Liesl and her buddy, Sophie, showing off Liesl’s limit of catfish topped by a 5-pound fatty. Catfish are good sweet meat to eat. Way back when we were kids in Rhode Island, Mom bought catfish for 68 cents a pound because it was the least expensive fish in the market.

    Berryessa 2017 In Review … The highlight for me was the note that early morning of Feb. 21, 2017 saying the lake level hit the top of the Glory Hole at 440 feet above sea level – and continued up to top out at 443.6 feet later that day. Go to to check out the rest of the year in “2017: The Year In Review Through Lake Berryessa News Headlines.”

    Meanwhile, catch the current improved trout bite caused by the recent lake turnover that encourages fish to use the whole water column – bringing many of them up shallow. Yep, bring a bass rod and some reaction baits too. Look for bass chasing bait pods and let that lure drop right down beside the bait fish, right to the bottom – nice and easy.

    Napa River … 2017 fish count high for salmon, not for steelhead. Yes, you have seen this header before. The Register’s Barry Eberling broke this story on Nov. 29. I want to just add my interest in and take on this marvelous Napa County Resource Conservation District program headed by senior biologist Jonathan Koehler.

    Mother Nature has not always been cooperative during the nine years of counting. The rotary fish trap is designed to work best in moderate river flows. So, some years with blowout rains like 2017 it can’t tell us all we’d like to know. But Jonathan told me early on that the project was like a marathon – not a dash – and the weight of increased data year after year would deliver the solid information that can let the RCD make informed recommendations to enhance fish and fishing in Napa County waters.

    Meanwhile, there is plenty of water in the river right now. Steelhead are biting for trollers and casters; smaller fish will deliver great excitement for younger anglers fishing from the bank. Get your cut bait and gear at Sweeney’s Sports on Imola (255-5544) before you head out. Stop at Buttercream Bakery on Jefferson for donuts and hot cocoa, too.

    As soon as the creeks send some muddy water down to you, you will find sturgeon coming up into town to get those little critters that wash down out of the river bank in those first big gully washers.

    And In The Salt … a big swell and rough weather outside the Gate on Sunday saw only a few brave party boats in action. The crab count was light and that big swell put a lid on that hot ling cod action. Look for it to reboot as the ocean settles down.

    In his Monday Hot Sheet, Dave Hurley wondered if we are back to drought years so soon. He said, “It is getting a bit concerning that wet weather hasn’t arrived, and although the majority of our rainfall comes in January and February, this is not looking good at the present time.”

    As always, we can find some good news almost everywhere. Dave went on to say that “the lack of fresh water flow seems to be keeping the bulk of the sturgeon in Suisun Bay, and action remains tremendous.” Look for that good bite to last until the water gets too cold.

    In the Delta, the magic water temperature of 56 degrees was seen on the weekend. Fresh roe is the go-to bait and the good bite seems to be later in the day.

    Bodega Bay … action was pretty much curtailed by some tough weekend weather, but this nice late week weather should put rocks back on the chew and deliver a bigger crab count because of the longer soak.

    Special Holiday Gift … for those special anglers on your list – crafted right here in Napa? Got it. Napa fly fishing adventure honcho Don Muelrath’s big, brawny and delightful book, “Fly Fishing’s Greatest Adventures – The Hunt” (2nd edition). For me, the section on peacock bass alone was worth the whole book price of 65 smackers (plus tax and delivery). Fastest way to get yours is to call Don at 888-347-4896.

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