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.—Blown out big time but dropping and should be about the best of the year when it clears this week, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts of the Chetco Outdoor Store. Steelhead were thick before the storm, and this will bring even more of them in.
COOS RIVER, Ore.—Steelhead fishing has been slow to fair, according to WON Pro Staffer Dave Pitts.
EEL RIVER—Blown out big time, and will be a long time before it’s fishable.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—Guide Wayne “Sierra” Hansen said it was still brown over the weekend, but will be fishable mid-week, and he’s on his way over for guide trips. There was some very good fishing before it got blown out, according to Darrell Brown of Brown’s Sporting Goods in Garberville, with anglers scoring well on king salmon, silver salmon and good numbers of steelhead. This last storm will bring in the last of the salmon and bigger numbers of steelies. They were already baitfishing at Leggett on Sunday. Zero limit for any species here, barbless hooks only, but you can use bait.
“This is the place to got a catch a fish right now, ” said Brown.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—WON Pro Staffer Craig Bell of Greenwater Guide Service said the smaller coastal rivers came up and opened to fishing from low flow closures at noon on Saturday. He fished two fly fishing clients on the Garcia on Sunday and they hooked three and landed two nice steelhead.
MILACOMA RIVER, East Fork, Ore.—Producing a few steelhead, but the main game is lots of wild coho salmon.
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers— The rivers on the coast came up enough to open on Saturday at noon, according to WON Pro Staffer Craig Bell of Greenwater Guide Service in Pt. Arena. Fish are being caught in all the coastal rivers and they are dropping and clearing pretty fast. Should be good fly fishing conditions in the lower rivers without more rain.
NESTUCCA RIVER, Ore.—There were fish available before the big storm, and it should pick back up when flows drop back in. Wild fish were almost everywhere, even in extremely low water flows. Anglers should expect this river to take off again, especially as mid January slides in, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts of the Chetco Outdoor Store.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.—Anglers should note, you can now keep steelhead that are non-adipose fin-clipped (wild), as long as they are a minimum size of 24 inches, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts of the Chetco Outdoor Store. Plunkers should prep for this waterway to take off as she drops back in. Spin-N-Glos from Orchard and Huntley Park will work on the steelhead.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Steve Jackson of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville called on Sunday night and said the river had 1 1/2-foot visibility and was flowing 800 cfs at Hacienda. He said the mouth opened a week ago Monday and steelhead have been pouring in all week. Six fish from 7 to 14 pounds were weighed in since Wednesday of last week, and he’s calling for it to be perfect mid to late week.
SMITH RIVER—Went all the way up to 60,000 cfs, but it was dropping back in as of Sunday and should have been fishable early this week and prime by the weekend. Plugged up with big numbers of steelies before the storm, and should be even more now. This is prime time!
TILLAMOOK BAY, Ore.–More and more sturgeon anglers are making the effort here, and they are picking up a few slots and old growths. Pick your tides wisely; this is the time of year when anglers fair best. Many anglers pursue the after-dark hours for the best sturgeon action.
WILSON, River, Ore.—This remains one of the better steelhead bets, but anglers were forced to seek fish in the extreme lower portions of these systems once they drop down to low levels. Reports say the Wilson was fair downstream of Sollie Smith.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Fishing was pretty good for halfpounders and adult steelhead down to I-5 last week, but inflows from tributaries make for difficult fishing conditions the farther downstream you went. Scott Caldwell of S&C Guide Service reported good success sidedrifting with a float and a small worm tipped Glo-Bug. Backtrolling small plugs in crawdad were also working.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—The river blew out from a heavy rain, but came back into fishable shape quickly, and when it did, lots of willing fresh steelhead were waiting. Both fly fishing and conventional techniques were working well. Because of high water almost all of the action was above the North Fork. Back-troll Brad’s Wigglers and Wee Warts and side-drifting roe. Fly fishers should score on golden stonefly nymphs, psycho nymphs, copper Johns, hare’s ears fished under indicators.
TRINITY RIVER, North Fork downriver—The Trinity below the North Fork was still high as of Sunday evening, but dropping, although it was fishable from the bank, The water was a brownish green. All the lower river is high but still dropping and could be fishable soon—but call ahead.
AMERICAN RIVER—Steelhead season opened with a whimper on the American River. One angler described 40 anglers fishing Sailor Bar area, one of the more popular, and productive, stretches of river, and seeing two fish caught. After a nice spurt of steelhead entering the hatchery a couple of weeks ago, the number of fish climbing the ladder has slowed to a trickle. By the afternoon of the second day, it looked almost as if the river had closed to fishing again, because most anglers had given up. Steelhead will be entering in the American for another three months or more, so it’s too soon to be too discouraged. Cross your fingers—and pray for rain.
FEATHER RIVER—The upper section of the Feather River also reopened January 1, and results were similar to those on the American River. Lousy. What few fish that were being taken were mostly small and on nightcrawlers.
FOLSOM LAKE—Bass fishermen using a variety of methods mostly around the main body did pretty well, at least at times, last week. Dartheading and jigging off main points in water from 10 to 30 feet deep seemed to produce the best. Looking for bait concentrations continued to be the most productive approach. Trolling success was mixed, but some anglers scored planter-sized trout plus the occasional holdover by toplining Apexes well behind the boat. Planting is continuing at Brown’s Ravine and Granite Bay.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—No change. Trout fishing continued to be good with bankies doing all right on Power Bait, Power Eggs, and woolly buggers and Power Worms behind a spin bubble.
Kayakers, and float tubers did better slow trolling with woolly buggers, leeches, Kastmasters, Apexes, and grubs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—About the only positive reports upstream of the Delta were coming from the Port of Sacramento. The best fishing was downstream of the Turning Basin. Marshall Ave. was one of the better spots for bankies soaking mudsuckers and bloodworms. Boaters trolled down the Deep Water Channel or drifted minnows. Jigging with Duh jigs also was effective when baitballs could be spotted on electronics.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing—Salmon fishing ended on a high note with some pretty decent fishing from Tisdale to Corning, but more rain and high water is needed to really get sturgeon fishing to torque up.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Trout fishing below Keswick Dam continued to be very good, and a good backup plan for anglers wanting to get some decent fishing for big trout without having to drive over to the Trinity River or to the coast for steelhead. Fish egg pattern/nymph dropper combinations under indicators, or drift Glo-Bugs and backtroll small Hot Shots.
BENICIA—Most of the boats have been heading up system to fish the sturgeon around Big Cut, Honker Bay, as well as around the Benicia Bridge. Eel has been the top bait. Stripers seem to have moved out of the lower system and on up towards Rio Vista. “I know those guys who were catching them up around Pittsburg aren’t doing any good, now” said Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait.
BODEGA BAY— Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler continued the straight squid trips. “We’re not doing the combos, we’re just trying to sink the boat with sheer numbers of squid,” he joked. Saturday’s trip was the high point of the week when 37 anglers caught 481 squid to 65 pounds. Two other trips also found wide open squid action.
EMERYVILLE—The Captain Hook ran the first sturgeon trip out of Emeryville Sportfishing Center, targeting South San Francisco Bay near the Oakland Airport. The result was one keeper weighing 60 pounds caught on grass shrimp. There were some short leopard sharks hooked, and a few bat rays.
EUREKA—After a long spell of big ocean, the swells subsided and anglers started trying again over the weekend. Top bets were surfperch at Centerville, and crabbing with rings at Trinidad, something one Pro Sport Center employee did from a kayak with good results.
FORT BRAGG—Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar is running crab and squid combos, and may start offering straight squid trips. Crabbing has been spotty, and the longer soaks are making a difference now. He ran trips on Wednesday and Thursday, and his 11 anglers caught 30 squid on Tuesday plus 44 crabs. After an overnight soak, the crab only trip on Thursday produced 75 crabs for seven anglers, leaving five extra for the crew.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat has been scoring squid, crabs and sanddabs, with some wide open squid action. Crabbing has been spotty, but limits are possible, even likely, when conditions are decent.
MARTINEZ—The sturgeon action was excellent for the boats fishing up around Big Cut, Honker Bay and the Mothball Fleet. Straight eel worked for some, and grass shrimp and eel combos worked for others. Captain Bob Monckton on Reel-lentless had a great week with several keepers and shakers both.
SAN PABLO BAY—Good tides and a week of rainy weather helped flush out more bait stealers, and sturgeon fishing was fair to good for the few boats trying down here. Grass shrimp was the top bait, with the Pumphouse and China Camp top spots.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— It won’t make much difference which end of the lake you fish as all three primary areas of the lake are producing the same, which is slow. Jigs, rip baits, and live bait will catch fish, just not very fast. Keep jig colors dark, rip baits small, and your live bait lively.
LAKE BERRYESSA— There was a pretty good salmon and catfish bite on bait schools near the bridge pillars of the Cache Creek Bridge before Christmas, but things have slowed down as bait scattered. If you find the birds/bait you can drop live minnows or 1-ounce Blade Runner spoons in Morning Dawn pattern for a mix of salmon, trout, bass and cats. Bass anglers have been finding fair action on drop-shot gear and drop-shot live minnows.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—Best bet around, with literally tons if fish planted here including Eagle Lake trout. Anglers are using flashers with Kastmasters, Needlefish and other favorites from 15 to 25 feet down, with the larger fish at the deeper ends. From the dock, it’s been chartreuse colored Power Bait.
LAKE SONOMA—Try the main body of the creeks with 6-inch Senkos for bass. The bite is picking up on warmer days.
LAKE ALMANOR—The Rec. 2 area was good for jigging and rainbows from 2 to 4 pounds. Not much pressure here, but when the weather allows, the fishing can be outstanding. When you can get in at the ramp at the dam, fish flies right there for an average 3-pound rainbow trout.
BAUM LAKE— Some nice limits are being taken, including some colossal wild trout up to 13 pounds. Nice limits are being taken on Kastmasters. Best bait choice is a small nightcrawlers and fly fishermen are having a great time with BWO’s, small nymphs, and midge patterns.
EAGLE LAKE—The lake closed December 31.
PIT RIVER— With all of the PG&E road closures it’s hard to get here and fishing slowed 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—Bass are moving into deep water cuts with good rock or hard clay bottom and at least 50 feet of water and then fishing at 30 feet. Worms and Senkos in crawdad colors are still the best bet. There’s been a little reaction bite during the storms and also a little swimbait bite in nasty weather as well. Trout fishing is still pretty good in the main body. Try trolling the surface in 10 to 30 feet of water with spoons such as Speedy Shiners or Z-Rays in silver/blue, silver/red dot or white/red dot. Salmon have quieted down lately.
BOCA LAKE—The road is plowed up to the dam and then it’s a short walk to the ice. Fishing has been good for rainbows and browns for anglers fishing through the ice in front of the dam. Jigging a Kastmaster or a Berkley Gulp! Minnow on a jighead has been productive. The browns are shallow, prowling for baitfish just under the ice while the rainbows are closer to the bottom. Fish from 4 to 12 feet deep for 16- to 18-inch browns and 14-inch rainbows.
CAPLES LAKE—Beautiful weather over the New Year’s weekend brought out a couple dozen ice fishermen at the dam, spillway and the rocks behind the resort. Anglers are auguring through 18 inches of ice and doing well on rainbows with Power Bait, nightcrawlers and jigging spoons, like a Kastmaster with a piece of worm on the hook.
CARSON RIVER (East)—The catch-and-release section of the river is still pretty much iced over making for difficult angling at best. It would be more comfortable and productive to wait until late February or March before giving this a serious try. If you’re part polar bear, give it a whirl, but be prepared for very limited success.
DAVIS LAKE—Roads are open to the dam and Mallard Cove. Ice is a safe 6 inches thick. Anglers fishing over 8 feet of water have been doing pretty well on quality fish to 3 pounds on Power Bait and nightcrawlers
DONNER LAKE—Mostly open water here with a thin ice layer near the shore makes this lake unsafe to fish. Launching is restricted due to snow and ice on the ramps. A cartopper could get in the water but fishing has been slow. The Mack bite doesn’t kick in until spring.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—Good ice fishing at the dam on Power Bait and nightcrawlers for fish running 1 1/2 to 3 pounds.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—Snowmobile access only and no reports available. This will be the last report until spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Two dozen boats out trolling on Sunday when WON called. Trollers are catching 12- to14-inch rainbows and 20- to 24-inch browns on Needlefish and Kastmasters. Some small bass are being caught, too, up in the Narrows.
LAKE TAHOE—Fishing has been good for Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters. Big fish this last Friday was a 14 pounder caught by Mark Parrish of Sparks, NV. The bigger Macks are feeding on small kokanee, 7 to 8 inches long. The best action has been coming out of 350 to 400 feet of water.
PROSSER LAKE—The road is plowed up to the dam. It’s a good walk to the Prosser Creek inlet where the fishing has been good through the ice with Power Bait and nightcrawlers.
PYRAMID LAKE—The weather has been beautiful but cold. Shore anglers and fly fishermen have been far and few between due to the cold but boaters are having excellent success. The Pyramid Store weighed in several big fish this past Saturday with the two biggest being 10-pound and 11-pound cutts. Trollers primarily use FlatFish and Apex lures. The roads are all clear and launch ramps have been free of ice.
RED LAKE—Kelly Keith from Caples Lake Resort saw a few ice fishermen here this past week. Caltrans has plowed a parking spot for anglers willing to walk to the ice at the dam and snowmobilers travel all over the area. Woodfords Station reported that most of the action was for small brookies at the dam on jigged Kastmasters with a worm on the hook.
SILVER LAKE—Few ice fishermen here.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—Snowmobile access only. Few reports are available according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
TOPAZ LAKE—Great opening weekend with everyone catching limits. Lots of 2- to 3-pound rainbows and a few 4 to 5 pounders were caught. Shore anglers are using Power Bait and nightcrawlers. Trollers are killing them on flasher or dodger/worm combos. The fish are anywhere you care to try for them.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Weather has been COLD making the fish slow to feed. On a nice sunny day, some fish are feeding in the afternoon after the water has had a chance to warm up a little. Mountain Hardware and Sports suggests a BWO pattern for fishing feeding in slower flow areas on those sunny days. Access is hard to find, stay in the developed area near the river.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake level is holding at 57-percent. Some boaters have been launching off the bank at Emerald Cove but it is not recommended. Use the ramp at Dark Day. Spotted bass to 5 pounds have been eating swimbaits that imitate the small kokanee in the lake.
CAMP FAR WEST—Water level is coming up according to DWR, and North Shore Resort didn’t answer the phone on Sunday, so there was no current report available. This is a warm-water species lake and winter fishing is generally slow.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake level is at 42 feet from full. Trout fishing has improved for trollers and shore anglers with the decline in the shad schools. Matt Dillin and his dad caught a nice limit toplining a single orange grub. Kameron Fults of Olivehurst landed a 5-pound, 12-ounce rainbow on Power Eggs at the dam.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is down to 88-percent capacity. There were quite a few boaters out trolling over the holiday weekend. Most were toplining Rapalas or flasher/worm combos for planter-sized rainbows.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake level has dropped to 29-percent capacity with the boat ramp at Bidwell now 12 feet out of the water. Launching is only available on the old gravel road at the Spillway–4-wheel drive only, launch-at-your-own-risk. Bass and coho are still hitting for those anglers able to get on the lake. Small plastic worms and live minnows at 30 feet are working well for both species.
ROLLINS LAKE—Water level has been fluctuating but launching is no problem here. Anglers have been hitting the lake but Long Ravine Resort hasn’t received reports of any success. DFG is supposed to resume trout plants here this month.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—Trollers have been catching some nice rainbows and one angler reported breaking off a big brown at the boat. Most trollers are longlining a Jointed Rapala near the dam or at the inlet.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Most of the recent snows have dropped over 4500 feet, so this lake is accessible, but 4-wheel drive is a good idea. The roads to the lake are plowed by the county but not the roads into the facility parking lots or boat ramp. No current fishing reports were available from the Foresthill Ranger Station.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—Muddy, slushy road conditions make 4-wheel drive a necessity. County may plow the roads to the lake but not the roads into the parking lot or boat ramp. Some holdover rainbows should be hitting, but most people are waiting for DFG to resume planting trout.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The cold weather and all the cold water being released out of Lake Oroville has slowed the action here. No word of any success on bass or steelhead this past week.