NORTH COAST RIVERS
North Coast streams and rivers are regulated by low flow closures. Always call ahead to determine the condition of the river you want to fish. If not mentioned, the river is closed or no reports. The DFG’s Low Flow Closure Hotline for north coast rivers is 707) 822-3164. For the Russian River and counties of Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin, call (707) 944-5533. South Central Coast streams number is (831) 649-2886. Many streams closed, and others change to artificial/barbless only on March 31 and others on April 25.
CHETCO RIVER, Ore.—Steelheading blew open in a big way this past week, as expected, and anglers are finding mostly chromer wild fish, averaging about a fish a boat this past week, but expected to really get going within weeks as the hatchery fish show up.
COQUILLE, So. and East forks, Ore.–The mainstem, South Fork and East Fork Coquille have been producing winter steelhead as the run gets underway, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts of the Chetco Outdoor Store.
EEL RIVER—Totally blown out and unfishable.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—Totally blown out and unfishable, and as of Saturday night it was running mud from Liggett on down.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—Craig Bell of Greenwater Guide Service said there was not enough rain to change anything, and that the rivers haven’t come up. They were open to fishing this past week, but flows dropped real low. Less than an inch of rain fell over the weekend. “There might be fish in the tidewater,” Bell said. Call ahead for low flow information.
MATTOLE RIVER—Doesn’t open until Jan. 1.
MILLACOMA River, East Fork, Ore.—Coos Bay anglers are hooking a few winter chromer steehead, and catching a remarkable number of wild coho, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts from the Chetco Outdoor Store.
NAVARRO, NOYO, ALBION rivers—Low and clear and expected to close due to low flows on Monday. Call ahead.
RUSSIAN RIVER—The big problem here is that the mouth won’t stay open, so the steelhead can’t get into the river. Mouth was opened Wednesday but closed up again Thursday. A small spurt of fish came in, but not in enough numbers to make fishing for them worthwhile, according to Nick Wheeler of Kings Sport and Tackle. It was low and clear on Sunday, running only 380 cfs. Low flow closures are keyed on surrounding streams when it’s below 400 cfs.
SMITH RIVER—The river came up the highest of the year so far—to 20 feet—and began fishing on Wednesday. Plunkers at the bottom were doing well and drifters were scoring by the weekend, with some boats getting limits in only a mile run from The Forks to the Covered Bridge. It’s all steelhead, mostly eight to 11 pounders, but with one 17 pounder on a Spin ‘n’ Glo logged in.
UMPQUA, Ore.—According to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts, the Umpqua dropped sufficiently to fish over the past weekend. It was still off-color on Sunday, and water conditions were expected to continue to improve as more winter steelhead enter the system.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Fishing for halfpounders and adult steelhead to five pounds was pretty good, but weather conditions have been very changeable and the bite has been somewhat sluggish. The most effective technique, for larger fish anyway, has been to backtroll crawdad plugs. The water has been quite cold and fish lethargic. Water conditions have improved and much of the river is now fishable.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—Steelhead fishing continued to be good, with most of the action above the North Fork, but the river has dropped back to relatively low and clear so fish are spooky and can be put down with too much pressure. Back-trolling Brad’s Wigglers and Wee Warts and side-drifting roe has continued to be the best approach for conventional and spin fishermen. Fly fishers have been scoring on golden stonefly nymphs, copper Johns, and Prince nymphs, fished under indicators as well as swinging leeches and birdsnests.
BOCA LAKE—The road is plowed to the dam and ice fishermen are working the area in front of the dam. Nightcrawlers and jigged Kastmaster spoons are doing the damage for trout anglers.
CAPLES LAKE—The resort is open for winter lodging. Lodge guests can get complimentary snowshoes and ice augers to try the fishing. The lake has frozen and fishermen are auguring through 18 inches of ice at the dam and the spillway for pansized rainbows. Most anglers are fishing 50 feet off the bank.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Hwy 89 is open but the river has pretty much iced over making for impossible fishing conditions in the catch-and-release section that’s open year ‘round.
DAVIS LAKE—Road conditions to the lake require 4-wheel drive for safe access. Ice fishermen are hitting the lake with mixed results. Dollard’s Market reported one angler checking in with one small trout.
DONNER LAKE—Snow and ice makes access difficult. The lake is freezing over but is not safe for ice fishing and probably won’t be, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The road is open to the dam, but too muddy and icy to get much farther. Most of the lake is iced over with some areas four to five inches thick. Some anglers are catching three or four fish on Power Bait or nightcrawler/marshmallow combos.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—Most likely snowed in. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Guide Service plans on driving up here this week to check out the access, since the Ice House Resort is closed.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—The road into the lake is closed. A homeowner here is parking his truck at the highway and snowmobiling to his house. The lake is frozen over. This will be the last report until spring.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—Snowmobilers can get to the lake. There was still some open water here this past week, so ice fishermen should wait.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Fishing has been very slow due to the lack of anglers and the abundance of cold, wet weather.
LAKE TAHOE—During the calm between storms, mackinaw trolling has been red hot for trollers working from 120 to 350 feet. Big Mack Charters kept 13 fish up to 8 1/2 pounds and tagged eight on Saturday using Sling Blade/minnows, Sling Blade/Koke-a-nuts and Sting Fish.
PROSSER LAKE—Snowmobile access only. Ice fishermen should be working the area in front of the dam.
PYRAMID LAKE—Weather has been pretty lousy but the anglers getting out are catching quality fish, like 13-, 9-, and 8-pound cutts weighed in on Saturday. The most popular lures for trolling are the FlatFish and an Apex.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—Snowmobile access only. Few reports were available from Mountain Hardware and Sports.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Access is available along the highway, but snowy, icy conditions have the fish in suspended animation.
AMERICAN RIVER—Steelhead season opens today (Jan. 1). It’s not expected to be a dynamite opener, but pressure will be heavy nonetheless. Sailor Bar is likely to be one of the better upstream spots. The main parking lot is open, but the rough gravel parking lots a bit downstream are closed. Don’t forget Nimbus Basin. The fish screens are out, and fishing has been slow, but put in enough time, and it will produce. For a bit less pressure, work the riffles downstream such as below Sunrise and around Rossmoor Dr.
FEATHER RIVER—Not much change from last week A few steelhead are being caught in the Low Flow Section, but nothing to get too excited about—mostly small ones on drifted roe and nightcrawlers.
FOLSOM LAKE—Bass fishing was lousy last week, but anglers putting in their time and using the correct techniques were being rewarded with some nice trout and landlocked king salmon. Some bass anglers focusing on fishing around bait concentrations around the main body by spooning and drop-shotting with shad-patterned Robo-Worms were catching both trout and salmon. Trollers were doing best trolling “naked” with Apexes, Needlefish, Kastmasters and small Rapalas in the top 15 feet of water. Some planters are being caught near the plant sites at Brown’s Ravine and Granite Bay.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—Trout fishing continued to be good with bankies doing allright on Power Bait, Power Eggs, and woolly buggers and Power Worms behind a spin bubble. Kayakers, and float tubers probably did better slow trolling with woolly buggers, leeches, Kastmasters, Apexes, and grubs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Striped bass fishing continued to be pretty good in the Port. Off Marshall was good for bankies using bloodworms and mudsuckers, and trollers were scoring in the Turning Basin and down the Deep Water Channel on minnows and trolling with deep-diving Yo-Zuris in red and white. Spooning with Hopkins and Duh spoons in blue and green patterns has been effective when a school of stripers is located.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing—Salmon season ended Dec. 31 on a reasonably upbeat note with clearing water and a new surge of fish providing some decent action. Most of it occurred above Knight’s Landing, however, near Grimes and Chico. Now, anglers are looking for sturgeon. A few are being caught , but more rain and higher river conditions are believed to be necessary before sturgeon fishing is expected to take off.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Trout fishing below Keswick Dam was very good last week with good anglers scoring around a dozen or so fat rainbows to about 3 pounds. The river below Redding is all but deserted. Egg pattern/nymph dropper combinations under indicators were doing the job for fly fishermen, and spin fishermen were drifting Glo-Bugs and backtrolling small Hot Shots.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Cold waters have increased the number of lock-jawed bass, and the bite slowed. Live jumbo minnows and covering water to find the schooled up bass was the best bet. For diehard artificial anglers, the bites have been coming on jigs, shaky-head worms, small rip baits, and small swimbaits. There have been rumors of crappie at the north end by the now defunct Konocti Resort.
LAKE BERRYESSA—According to fishing guide JD Richey, bait schools have been moving north of late, and that’s where you need to go to find mixed bag action on salmon, trout, cats and bass. Concentrate on the creek channels in the Pope and Cache Creek areas. When you find bait, drop down a 1-ounce Blade Runner spoon in the Morning Dawn pattern.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—If you can handle the cold, and if you want Eagle Lake trout, come here! DFG just planted 3000 pounds of them. Troll Kastmasters, a flasher with a worm, or even trolled Power Bait have been getting them. Eagle Lake trout and rainbow trout are in both basins now, but the hot spot has been the Narrows. From the docks and along the shoreline it’s been Power Bait in chartreuse and silver flecks on a sliding sinker or worms.
LAKE ALMANOR—Rec. 2 was good for jigging and rainbows from two to four pounds were the norm. When you can get in at the ramp at the dam, fish flies right there at the dam for an average 3-pound rainbow trout. Call ahead for ramp conditions.
BAUM LAKE— Fish have turned on and most fishermen are doing fine, with some nice limits being taken as fishing has really picked up. Nice limits are being taken on Kastmasters. Bait choice is small nightcrawlers and fly-fishermen are having a great time with BWO’s, small nymphs, and midge patterns.
EAGLE LAKE—Sep Hendrickson said it was cold and snowy, and the lake at his end is very frozen. But there had been very good action on large rainbows thruough the ice along the airport tules and Rocky Point. The lake closed December 31.
PIT RIVER— Fishing on the Pit has slowed down with cold temperatures in the canyon. Nymphing the deep pockets and pools during the middle of the day when the sun warms the water a bit can produce some fish. Open to catch and release only, barbless hooks, and artificials only from Lake Britton dam downstream.
LAKE SHASTA—The bass bite slowed from last week but the main body of the main lake near the confluence of the Pitt and the Squaw Creek arm produced 10 to 12 if you worked at it. Tossing 6-inch MF in crawdad colors found fish that were spread from 60 feet but 30 was a magic number. Trout anglers have been fishing the southern shore of the lake for some quality rainbows averaging 2 to 3 pounds with silver/blue or red/gold Speedy Shiners.
BENICIA—That select group of lunker striped bass chasers have been getting some jumbos, with fish in the 20- to 30-plus- pound class caught up off the PG&E station and for those fishing after dark. Splittail minnows and bullheads were the hot baits. Sturgeon fishing blew up again up-system, as well as around Buoy 4 and the GloMar bouys.
BERKELEY—Scott Sutherland at Berkeley Sportfishing reported solid crab fishing, but a slow bite for in-bay gamefish. After several efforts of little sanddab success, the New El Dorado III found a sanddab hotspot so that may add to the combo action. Sutherland said that the crab pots will probably come in sometime this month, then the boats will focus on sturgeon in the bay.
BODEGA BAY— While the landing was quiet over the holiday weekend, squid trips will resume when weather and angler interest permits. Crabbing has been a little spotty, but those who persist are getting their Dungeness.
CROCKETT—Captain Gordon Hough on the Morning Star said San Pablo Bay has turned the corner with the sharks now scarce and the sturgeon a top bet now. Their last trip on Saturday found plenty of bites but no keeper leopards in San Pablo Bay, so he’s switching to shrimp baits. “Apparently, we’ve had enough rain to make the sharks disappear,” said Hough.
EMERYVILLE—The boats stayed in port, but will be starting sturgeon trips after Jan. 1.
EUREKA—Not much going on, with crabbing spotty and about the only other option surfperch when the ocean cooperates. Centerville Beach has been the top perch action for anglers using sand crabs.
FORT BRAGG—Crab and squid trips are the top draw, with “all you want” action on the Humboldt squid, and near limits on most crab trips on the Telstar, reported Captain Randy Thornton.
HALF MOON BAY—The boats are focusing on crab and squid, with some sanddab action available. Not too much activity over the holiday.
MARTINEZ—After a week of slow tides, anglers were looking forward to improving sturgeon action. Top bets have been fishing the Mothball Fleet, Little Cut, and the Glomar Buoys. Grass shrimp and eel have been the top baits. Lisa Rezentes at Martinez Bait said sturgeon have definitely been the best bet but there have been some nice striped bass showing also.
SAN PABLO BAY—Slow tides made for tough fishing with lots of bait stealers still in the system. This week’s tides are much better and while a bunch of rain is needed to make a difference, but the bit that’s falling is better than nothing.
BULLARDS BAR—Lake level is holding at 57-percent. Dreary weather this week and the Christmas lull last week has made for no fishing reports. Not many people on the lake. Keep in mind that the only launch ramp open for bigger boats is at Dark Day.
CAMP FAR WEST—No reports available, but the lake has come up enough to put the main ramp back in operation. Very few anglers were out with all the cold, wet weather.
COLLINS LAKE—Collins Lake Recreation Area staff reported that things have been very quiet with no one fishing. DFG plants should start later this month.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—Like everywhere else, things have been slow here. Very few boats have been out all this past week and it was raining on Sunday with more in the forecast.
LAKE OROVILLE—Very slow here too. Rain and dropping water levels are making it hard to get on the lake. With the old gravel road at the Spillway the only ramp for the whole lake, the rain just makes things muddier. Those able to get out are still catching bass and coho, but there is a lot of rain in the forecast for the rest of this week.
ROLLINS LAKE—No reports were available from here. Like all the lakes in the mountains, poor weather and cold has resulted in very light fishing pressure. DFG trout plants will resume later this month, according to NID.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—A 10-pound brown was caught by a local trolling a Jointed Rapala at the dam. This is the only fish reported all week. Very few anglers are out in the wet weather. DFG trout plants will resume later this month, according to NID.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Rains have melted some of the snow, making access possible, but nothing is happening here. DFG trout plants are supposed to resume later this year, hopefully sooner than later.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—Snow and ice on the roads make 4-wheel drive essential but there has been very little to report from here. DFG should resume plants here if access is open.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—Cold, wet weather has made for tough fishing conditions according to Feather River Outfitters. No reports have come in from bass or steelhead anglers all week.