The Reel Life of Brent: Continuing Bill’s Tradition | Sports


The late Bill Ryan was a good friend, fishing partner and mentor to me and my daughter-in-law.

I am honored to continue his weekly tradition of writing the fishing report for our local publications.

I welcome reports and photos from all local anglers, and I too would invite any men or women who fish to share their accomplishments so that I can report all fishing news in our community.

local fishermen

Jesse Gambina of St. Helena recently fished the Napa Quagmires with Billy Wilcoxson, landing this 17-pound striped bass using a live splittail. While the split tail has always been great bait for catching big stripers, the question is how to catch them and where to find them – a topic I’ll share in a future column.

Liesl Wolf Heinemann of St. Helena, Bill Ryan Hall of Famer and Cal Poly viticulture specialist, caught a 25-pound skipjack tuna in the waters surrounding the Big Island of Hawaii last month with Ohana Sportfishing (ohanasportfishing .com) out of Kona.

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On the salmon front

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, the agency that dictates limits and seasons for West Coast ocean fish, met via Zoom on March 2 to begin the process of defining the next salmon season.

Studies have been better than expected in light of the current drought. It looks like the sport fishing season will open in the San Francisco area at the end of June and will continue until the end of October, very similar to the 2021 season.

Ocean, bay, local rivers and lakes

Until the rockfish open on April 1, there won’t be much to report in the ocean.

A few party boats out of the bay and Bodega still perform “sand, dab and crab” combos. Halibut and striper bites were better than expected in the bay for this time of year. Although there were a few halibut in Tomales Bay, the water is still too cold, around 48 degrees, for the fish to be active. The bite usually does not show up until live bait is available in April. Alameda’s Pacific Angler Sportfishing ( hunted halibut, averaging about one fish per rod.

On the party boat side, Jimmy Robertson of “The Outer Limits” retired and sold his boat to Christian Cavanaugh of “Big C Charters”. Can’t wait for Christian to take on the Outer Limits, while his trusty deckhand Ryan Ash leads the “Chasin’ Crustacean.”

Although there was no rain in January and February, the sturgeon bite in Suisun Bay was still good. The lack of fresh water has created an abundance of quality sturgeon bait. Check with Sweeney’s Sports as they sometimes offer Ghost and Grassy Shrimp.

Brandon Abernathy of Napa, owner of Rod Down Guide Service (707-927-6745), has successfully targeted sturgeon in the Napa River.

On the local lakeside, it’s still a little early for bass spawn. But with the water heating up, it won’t be long. Lake Berryessa turned around and even with a limited number of boats chasing trout and kokanee those who took the time were close to the limit using all the usual lures and bait like wedding rings and corn of fire.

Coming soon

The striper run on the Sacramento and Feather rivers is just around the corner. I highly recommend Mike Stratman of Redwood Coast Fishing ( Mike tows his boat from Eureka to Yuba City each year during the months of April and May. He is an excellent guide that will take you on the fish.

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