To say the least, the famous "Barge Hole" on the Sacramento River near Cottonwood, Ca here in Northern California had the feeling of old times. Opening day the past couple years were despicable and not worth talking about. The 2016, and 2017 opening days left anglers scratching their heads and starring at each other with confusion, while the normally instantaneous action turned to minutes, and then hours of almost no action. When the barge hole opening day experience was once one of complete chaos, and overwhelming success for all who chose to participate in the gladiator style boating and salmon fishing that takes place at the mouth of Battle Creek.
A familiar image to anyone who has experience the opening morning at the barge hole, the dozens of boats that lined the banks waiting in the dark for the moment the clock strikes legal fish time. In addition to the old school scene of red and green navigation lights, and white anchor lights, the 2018 collection of jet boats added a mix of bright green and blue strip lighting. Illuminating the interiors of some of the guide boats. The chatter and laughter, with the story telling and yelling all gave the setting and painted the picture of many previous barge hole opening mornings. Smoke from the Carr fire was in the air as the first hint of daylight started to show on the eastern horizon. Guide boats, local legends, private boaters, along with the unfortunate captains of the new vessels visiting the barge hole for the first time, all starting to pull of the bank and jockey for position in the very pushy barge hole currents.
The highly anticipated answer to the million dollar question, (weather the barge hole was holding any significant amount of chinook salmon?) was quickly answered as the barge hole was off to a roaring start. Fishing guide Mike Rasmussen of SalmonSacRiver.com had client Bill Vehgeti hooked up on a chrome hen chinook salmon in the dark, in the first minute of fishing. Looking into the crowd of familiar boats, it was easy to see the nets come out and jet boats start making way to more open water for landing these big strong kings. Multiple boat all engaged in fighting king salmon took place for several hours opening morning. And again the famous barge hole in Cottonwood, Ca had it's reputation back. Limits were had by all reputable fishing guides and comradery was at its highest in years. Justin Thompson, Danny Hamilton, John Kenyon, and Jacob Frye to mention a few all came in with limits of quality kings to 27 pounds. Justin Thompson of justinthompsonfishing.com leading the pack after putting a beat down on the crowd with a great lure show off the ledge. "Fish On John", John Kenyon did his work on eggs and finished up early, following in his extensive family history of great egg fisherman. His uncle Scotty (Scott Kenyon) undoubtably as good or better then any egg fisherman ever in existence. Danny Hamilton started the barge hole opener up with a successfully completed double hook up in the back of the hole. All in all great success and lights out fishing to all who were in attendance. Don't let me forget to mention Brandon Bishop, and Arron Zonoko who blasted through their limits of salmon in the center of the madness. Both river guides using eggs to stuff their fish boxes.
The barge hole was nearly empty by 1:00pm on the opening day as nearly every boat headed in with their limits of big Sacramento River Fall Run Chinook Salmon. And the Barge Hole had its reputation back. By early evening on opening day social media was streaming post, blogs and photos of the salmon fishing at its peak in the barge hole. Live feeds across Facebook drove thousands of likes and shared downloads from the Northern California salmon fishing communities. The "Barge Hole" is back!!
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