Is that a girl trout or a boy trout?

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Some people who hunt and fish have a real affinity for not taking or keeping female species.

The catch-and release theory for females is more prevalent by bass fishing enthusiasts, especially during the spring spawning period. The large, bloated belly of the female bass makes it easy to identify, and most anglers simply will enjoy the catch and release the fish to return to the nest.

If it’s your intent to release females, other species can be much more difficult to identify, including trout.

Some characteristics appear only during the spawning season. The problem is, not all trout spawn at the same time. German browns spawn in the fall, and rainbows spawn in the spring.

If you have any hope of gender-typing your trout, you’ll need two things: a calendar and a trout.

If and only if it’s their spawning time, the female will have the evident bloated midsection. A distended abdomen, however, is no sure thing, as that trout may have just eaten.

Secondly, checking the trout’s head is something you can pretty much do year-round. A male generally will develop a hooked snout, or “kype,” on its lower jaw. And, male trout generally will be more elongated and have brighter colors than a female, whose body usually is more rounded and its colors duller.

Even with a trained eye of a professional, such as a marine biologist, gender identification isn’t easy and is an inexact science. The only positive way to figure out whether it’s a girl or boy fish is to sacrifice the fish and examine for the presence of eggs or sperm.

Current fishing
The weather has warmed. Finally. Anglers are hitting waterways on all fronts — and so are water recreationists. There is still a lot of snow on some hills. It’s melting quickly, and creeks, streams and rivers are roaring. Not good for fishing.

While most mountain lakes are open, waters are still rising due to the continuing snowmelt and waters from the highest elevations to valley rivers are much colder than normal for this time of year.

Lake Almanor: The lake is expected to rise another couple of feet and be within a foot of the spillway. The Diversion Channel, Bailey Creek and Hamilton Branch are still raging, and if the water levels rise as high as expected, part of Chester will be flooded.

Fishing at Lake Almanor is picking up. In one day, we netted one king salmon that weighed 2½ pounds, two brown trout, the largest going about a pound and a half, and one spotted bass that went about a pound and a half. In addition, I lost three hookups, Linda lost one, and we each released one small salmon. All of our action came from trolling around the Big Meadows on the east side, out four to five colors of lead core or down 15 to 20 feet on the downriggers, mostly on night crawlers but also getting bit on Rainbow Runners, Speedy Shiners, Mepps Syclops and even a small Rebel.

There were several boats drifting the same area, and some big brown trout were being caught. Hanging a crawler or three or four grubs on a No. 4 hook near the bottom has worked well. Boats also are anchoring on the eastern shoreline near the spillway, hanging cut anchovy near the bottom and doing quite well on stringer loads of king salmon to four pounds.

Fort Bragg: Pat and Karen Heaviside, skippers of the 32-foot Boston Whaler party boat, the “Bragg-n,” told me they’d contact me when or if the fishing ever broke loose in that region. It did, finally. The seas were relatively flat, and they limited multiple days in a row. They reported their bigger Chinooks hit nearly 30 pounds. The boat generally only holds four anglers and is one of the best on which to hitch a ride. The weather can be a big factor, so call ahead for reservations or a forecast. Call (707) 961-9692 or (408) 888-5485.

New Hogan: Stripers are the main topic, but the lake also holds brown bullheads and channel cats and fishing for them after the sun goes down has been good. Stripers are scattered, but marinate a chunk of anchovy in a Pro Cure scent, drop it down 10 to 30 feet around the dam, the South Bay or Wrinkle Cove, and you could tally a lineside or two, mostly five to six pounds.

Clear Lake: The bass are either cruising the shallows from one end of the lake to the other or still around beds. Try white lizards or baby Brush Hogs and you can fill a stringer. Catfishing is great, but the weather hasn’t been stable long enough for the crappie or bluegill to break loose.

Feather River: Word has it the rod-bending action for stripers remains blistering. The hottest area is from Star Bend south. Minnows drifted under a bobber will work, but soaking bait such as sardine, anchovy or pile worms have worked best. One guide with two clients caught and released between 60 and 70 fish with the largest hitting 12 pounds. Action isn’t going to last much longer in this area, so if it’s a striper you want, this is where to go.

Camp Far West: The spots are still spawning, and the action is great. Just about anything is working: one-eighth-ounce dartheads, plastics. Just bang the bottom with it and work it slow. Some of the better bass are going more than three pounds. Rock Creek arm and coves in the Bear River are producing. The lower end of the lake, around the rocks of the dam, should also kick out plenty of bass.

Bay Area: The sturgeon bite, especially for this late in the year, has been phenomenal in San Pablo Bay and Suisun Bay. Any shrimp baits or roe on an outgoing tide, and you’ll find yourself with a takedown. Some boats have been doing catch and release, the action is that good, all over both bays. Stripers soon will be a main topic, as they complete their spawning activities in rivers and head back to the salt waters where they crave one thing: food.

Contact George deVilbiss at