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.—Hatchery steelhead made the first big showing of their normal 6-week run this past week, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts, and confirmed by guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. There’s a lot of fish upriver now, too, and the first boats on the river generally see more action than the ones behind. Fish are averaging 6 to 12 pounds for shore anglers and driftboaters. Rated fair to very good.
COQUILLE RIVER, Ore.—Slow fishing in the North Fork, but the opposite is true on the East Fork and South Fork as water levels in both have fallen into shape. Anglers are scoring on steelies averaging six to 12 pounds, according to WON Field Reporter and Chetco Outdoor Store manager Dave Pitts.
EEL RIVER—All fishable below the forks, but not many reports, because most are fishing the South Fork.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—A lot of fish in it, but big earthquake seems to have shut down the flow of anglers. Nobody showed up over the weekend. Not that many to even get reports. Strange for a river full of steelhead. Mostly steelhead now, salmon run is about over, and they would be dark by now. Not much word on silvers, according to Darrel Brown of Brown’s Sporting Good in Garberville. Bear Pen was a hot spot this week. Conditions are good top to bottom, but might be ultra-clear at Leggett.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—Some fish are being caught, but the rivers are both really low and clear. Make sure to check closures first each day you fish. Not many anglers are checking in.
MAD RIVER—Bob at the Outdoor Pro Shop heard there are fish in the system, and some have been caught, but no details to share.
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers—Low and clear, check the low flow closures before fishing. Not many anglers going due to low flows.
NESTUCCA RIVER, Ore.—Driftboaters and bankies should both begin to see some action this week. Driftboaters will be side-drifting and back-bouncing, and bankies will be using zip-line rigs with a Spin-n-Glo and roe, according to source Dave Pitts.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.—The river conditions are perfect in all respects, and there’s plenty of steelhead being seen, but it’s been mostly slow fishing all week. Saturday was an exception, and a good number of steelhead were caught, mostly in the Canfield area. Boaters are using Hot Shots or KwikFish, and bankies are using Spin-N-Glos plunking. There was an 18 pounder weighed in, but most are six to eight pounds.
RUSSIAN RIVER—The river came shooting right back down last week, and is now low and clear. Mouth is closed back up again, and it’s been slow this week, according to Steve Jackson at King’s Sport and Tackle. There’s a few fish being caught, but with low and clear conditions the fish are spooked. Rains expected on Tuesday are expected to bring the river up 8 or 9 feet and that should get the tributaries flowing and bring the steelies in.
SMITH RIVER—Showers and rains every two or three days are keeping the river in great fishing shape, according to Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service, and he’s been putting clients on steelies from 8 to 12 pounds. WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts confirmed the good action on a mix of both hatchery and wild fish for driftboaters and plunkers.
UMPQUA RIVER, Ore.—Steelheading was slow this past week, although some fresh fish have entered the system, so expect an increase in action, especially as river levels drop back into shape. A few steelies being taken on the South Umpqua, as it has started to drop and clear.
WILSON RIVER, Ore.—Should kick into gear this week with drifters using side-drifted roe and back-bouncing offerings for fair to good action, and bankies zip-lining Spin-n-Glo’s and roe, and drifting double cross rigs and spawn sacs. Look for fair results from the bank.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen—The river has come back into fishable shape all the way to the mouth. It’s mostly plunking down low, and drifting bait at the mouths of tributaries where the water is clearer than the main stem. Some big adults are moving through, including the brutes of the South Fork which can often weigh more than 10 pounds.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp—The river is in good shape, and anglers are catching two to five steelies a day from a couple of pounds to five or six pounds on drifted roe, nightcrawlers, backtrolled Brad’s Wigglers, and even a few on flies, although, the water is cold and the fish hesitant to move very far or fast to strike.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—The lower river is still pretty high for wading and driftboating, but lots of nice steelhead are moving through, and mostly local anglers have been doing well from Big Bar to Big French Creek. The Hawkins Bar to South Fork stretch was good, as well, and the South Fork to Willow Creek section had more color because of inflow from the South Fork, but was fishable.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—The river was just about “perfect”, flowing about 450 cfs around Douglas City with just a bit of color in it. Better yet, it was full of steelhead, and though there was lots of pressure from both boaters and bank fishermen, fishing was very good for steelhead to around eight pounds. Back-trolling Brad’s Wigglers and Wee Warts and side-drifting roe was effective for spin fishermen and bait casters, while fly fishers scored swinging leeches and steamers, and on golden stonefly nymphs, psycho nymphs, copper Johns, and green caddis fished under indicators.
BENICIA—Sturgeon fishing slowed down, and most of the striped bass have moved out of the area. Eel remained the top bait bet for the sturgeon.
BERKELEY—Scott Sutherland reported good crab counts continued, with limits the rule. “Everyone that has walked on our boats since Nov. 8 have walked off with a limit of crab!” he said. “Problem is, that’s all we’re catching.” Sanddab fishing is slow unless ocean conditions are perfect, and the captains are keeping an eye out for promising sturgeon activity. Next up, stripers and halibut plus crab in the spring.
BODEGA BAY— More giant Humboldt squid action, and what must be record catches on the New Sea Angler. On group of 25 anglers caught 532 on Sunday. Big stick on the boat was a Fairfield man who caught 33 to 45 pounds.
CROCKETT—The Morning Star has been running down to San Pablo Bay to target sturgeon, with catch counts up and down. There have been quite a few starry flounder also showing up along with a few sharks. On Friday’s trip, Captain Gordon Hough reported several shaker sturgeon, one keeper and a bunch of starry flounder despite windy conditions. That action came from up in the northwest corner of San Pablo Bay. Saturday and Sunday efforts found shaker sturgeon and some flounder, but no keepers.
EMERYVILLE—None of the boats ran, but Emeryville Sportfishing Center is booking sturgeon trips on most weekends and some weekdays. The Captain Hook has run one trip already, targeting South San Francisco Bay, scoring on big keeper.
EUREKA—Redtail surfperch have been showing up at the usual beaches like Centerville, Freshwater Lagoon and Gold Bluffs, with most anglers getting three to five. Despite a big swell that has limited crabbing efforts, the jetties produced some decent rockfish action reported Dean Thomas at the Pro Sport Center. There were a few redtails caught there as well, mostly by anglers trying for rockfish. Bait worked best, mostly squid, due to the murky bay water conditions.
FORT BRAGG—Another hot bet for giant squid, with Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar running trips for them and crabs. While crab numbers are thinning a little, the longer soaks and lighter loads are getting limits still. Larger loads like Saturday’s group of 12 produced eight crabs each.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat hosted renowned chef Tyler Florence of Mill Valley for a squid trip to the Pioneer Canyon where the boat loaded up with squid. A crab pot check produced limits of Dungeness. Let’s hope Tyler comes up with some Humboldt squid cooking tips.
PITTSBURG—Captain Kevin Yost of Lucky Strike Fishing reported the best sturgeon action on the incoming tides, both morning and afternoon, while the outgoing night tide slowed. Eel worked best in 40 to 45 feet of water around Roe and Ryer islands. His Lucky Strike II scored a pair of keepers for two Castro Valley anglers, one 52 inches and the other 56 inches.
SAN PABLO BAY—Wind has been a problem at times, but there are some sturgeon showing up. Mostly shakers are the norm, but a few keepers are starting to show. Rain and lots of it should help out the bite.
AMERICAN RIVER—Steelhead fishing continued to be very slow. The best results came from Nimbus Basin, not surprising, since it’s the end of the line on the American. That’s where the most anglers were, too, although, even there fishing pressure was lighter than usual because of the relatively little to show for putting in lots of time. Some fairly large adults were being caught, but most were dark having been in the river a long time, or recently released from the hatchery after spawning. There was a report of a fly fisherman hooking, and losing, two adults down around River Bend Park, providing a glimmer of hope for better things to come.
FEATHER RIVER—Not much change from last week. Fishing continued to be slow in both the Low Flow Section and the river below the Outlet. A few fish, mostly small, were being taken on nightcrawlers and roe. Fly fishers were catching the occasional steelhead on egg patterns, alevins, mayfly nymphs and caddis pupae.
FISHING IN THE CITY, Sacramento–Trout are being stocked at the beginning of each weekend in January and February at William Land Park, Howe Park, and Elk Grove Park, A Fishing in the City event is being held Jan. 16, Saturday at William Land Park Pond. In addition to the planted trout, there will be volunteers on hand to instruct beginners, as well as fishing gear to borrow. The event is sponsored by DFG and Trout Unlimited.
FOLSOM LAKE—Fishing for trout and king salmon was the best it’s been in months with trollers catching planter and holdover trout toplining well behind the boat in front of the dam with small spoons like Apexes, and Needlefish fished naked (without dodgers or flashers). Light-colored minnow patterns have been working best. Minnows fished under bobbers from shore around Granite Bay have also been producing trout, mostly planters. For king salmon, troll deeper with rigged shad or Power Minnows in the smelt pattern. Bass fishing was hit and miss with dartheading and drop-shotting Robo-Worms in Aaron’s Magic and Morning Dawn working best. Only the low water ramp at Granite Bay is now open.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—Anglers continued to score from the bank on worms, Power Bait Power Eggs, Power Bait, and Power Trout Eggs, While boaters in pontoon boats, kayaks, float tubes, and canoes did well on woolly buggers and Power Worms Kastmasters, Apexes, and grubs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Fishing on the Sac was poor last week, and even the only quasi-bright spot around Sacramento, the Port of Sacramento, let most anglers down. About the only action there was by boaters fishing the channel downstream of the Turning Basin trolling with a deep-diving plug like a Bomber and a swimbait or big plastic worm on a spreader. Jigging with Duh jigs also was effective when bait balls could be spotted on electronics or boiling on the surface, or after a fish was caught trollng.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing—With salmon season closed, anglers are hoping for big storms to raise the river and bring more sturgeon upstream. As it is, a very few were reported from Verona and around Grimes. Certainly nothing to get excited about yet.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Not much change from last week. Trout fishing below Keswick Dam down to Anderson offers the best chance for anglers to catch fish on the Sacramento River. Flows are low, just a little over 3,000 cfs, and trout to three pounds are taking small nymphs and egg patterns dead-drifted under indicators, side-drifted Glo-Bugs and small, backtrolled Hot Shots.
BOCA LAKE—This lake is getting the most fishing pressure in the area. Being able to drive right to the dam makes it the most accessible. The ice is nine inches thick at the dam where most anglers are fishing. Bait fishermen are using nightcrawlers, salmon eggs and meal worms. Lure fishermen are doing best with minnow imitation jigs. The Gulp! Minnow or Trout Trap on a small jig head works well for 12- to 16-inch rainbows. Brown action has been slow.
CAPLES LAKE—Lots of ice fishermen were on the lake this past week, with as many as 50 anglers at the dam and spillway according to Kelly Keith at Caples Lake Resort. Anglers are using worms, Power Bait and jigged Kastmaster spoons tipped with worms for fish up to seven pounds. Dave Kirby at Woodfords reported that two local anglers caught some lunker Mackinaw while fishing nightcrawlers at the dam: a 14 pounder, an 11 pounder and an 8 pounder. Unfortunately Kirby wasn’t able to get the names of either fisherman.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Foggy weather has made the conditions even worse for any angler willing to give this year-round fishery a try.
DAVIS LAKE—The ice is up to 12 inches thick now and anglers are doing well at the dam in 35 to 50 feet of water with salmon egg/worm combos or nightcrawlers. Mallard Cove is producing in 12 feet of water. Rainbows are running from 12 to 17 inches. 4-wheel drive is recommended for getting to Mallard Cove. The road is clear to the dam, and then it’s just a short walk to the ice.
DONNER LAKE—Open water has allowed shore anglers to work the west-end beach area with CD Rapalas and spoons for Macks. Power Bait, salmon eggs and worms work for small rainbows.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The ice is 12 to 15 inches thick at the dam where most fishermen are found. One Chilcoot angler caught 37 fish near the north rock island near the dam on nightcrawlers and Crystal Bullet jigs.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Guide Service hit the lake early this past week and landed 10 fish, browns and rainbows. The fish hit a single watermelon grub or a threaded nightcrawler the best from the top to 35 feet. The far end of the lake from the ramp is completely frozen all the way across the lake. Road conditions are icy and caution must be used when towing boat up to the lake.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Lake is up out of the fog, so lots of anglers have been coming up to fish. Shad Raley of Placerville landed a 10 3/4-pound Mack this past week while trolling a Rapala near the island. Shore anglers are catching a few browns and rainbows on Power Bait and worms from the marina.
LAKE TAHOE—Very good fishing for Mackinaws at 350 to 450 feet for trollers. Mickey Daniels is still picking up lots of fish that are eating kokanee with the better lakers running 6 to 7 pounds.
LOON LAKE—Road is plowed all the way to the lake but boats are not recommended due to possible icy conditions that could make towing dangerous.
PROSSER LAKE—Very little word coming in from Prosser with most anglers going to Boca.
PYRAMID LAKE—Still plenty of fish being caught but the shore anglers are working hard for the ones they get, but some are BIG! Harold Barry of Reno landed a 12 1/2 pounder while casting a spoon from shore on the south end of the lake. Trollers are doing well on U20 Flatfish and Apex for 17- to 20-inch keepers and releasing lots of 20- to 24-inch slot fish.
RED LAKE—Good action being found by ice fishermen working the front of the dam for pan-sized brook trout on worms and jigged Kastmaster spoons. Two father/son teams landed five fish each for a morning’s angling.
SILVER LAKE—A local angler, who prefers to remain anonymous, reportedly caught 8- and 12-pound trout here through the ice this past week according to Kelly Keith at Caples Lake Resort. Fish this big are usually Mackinaw.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—Snowmobile access only has kept most people away from this lake. If anyone is going here, they aren’t talking about it according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
TOPAZ LAKE—Rainbow trout action is still very good, but traffic has slowed down because of heavy fog on the lake. Boaters are wary of the poor visibility and shore anglers don’t like the bone-chilling wet cold conditions. Still lots of 2- to 3-pound fish being caught after the fog lifts later in the day. Shore anglers are using Power Bait and worms while the trollers are dragging Rapalas and flasher/worm combos.
TRUCKEE RIVER—If you are an expert, you can pick up some fish on a nice sunny day when the water warms up in the afternoon on a BWO. Otherwise it’s slow and cold.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Jumbo minnow are still the most productive for bass here, although the bite did so a bit. The waters warmed up a few degrees, which will help fishing in general. Anglers tossing artificials and concentrating on rock in 12 to 17 feet of water can catch 10 or more fish. Jigs and worms will also work. Dark colored jigs and worms on shaky heads, or small paddle-tail worms on drop-shot are good choices. The rip bite is a slow deal, if you stick with it you will get the bites but you have to cover a lot of water until you find a fish here and there. The smaller rip bait sizes have been working
LAKE BERRYESSA—Fishing in general slowed here, and was more like work. A few bass were caught on rip baits in the shallows, but the rest were in 30-plus feet of water and caught on plastics crawled along the bottom.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—Arctic Fox trolling flies with the action disk, in black or brown are producing limits of trout, including the recently planted Eagle Lake strain. The trick is to not fish the surface, but from 20 to 40 feet down. Trout are holding in the west basin these days.
LAKE SONOMA—You’ll have to work for your bass here, but drop-shotting, shaking worms, jigs, and Carolina rigs in 30 to 60 feet of water are producing some fish. A better bet is to target the land-locked steelies. Troll for them at 40 feet with an Apex or Rapala.
LAKE ALMANOR—Check for road conditions here first, but weather permitting, the Rec. 2 area was good for jigging for rainbows from 2 to 4 pounds. When you can get in at the ramp at the dam, try flies right there for an average 3-pound rainbow trout.
BAUM LAKE—Fishing has turned on and most anglers are doing fine, with some nice limits being taken. Midges, small nymphs, and woolly buggers are favorites among the fly-fishermen, while small nightcrawlers and Kastmasters are preferred by bait anglers and hardware anglers. There are lots of fish being caught here.
EAGLE LAKE—The lake closed December 31.
PIT RIVER— With all of the PG&E road closures it’s hard to get here, few reports come in, 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 though. This area is open to catch and release only, barbless hooks, and artificials only from Lake Britton dam downstream.
LAKE SISKIYOU—This lake is still producing outstanding trout fishing for both quality rainbow and brown trout to 24 inches, with the opportunity for a larger fish as well.
LAKE SHASTA—All of the main confluences should be good for bass, as the water is clearer and cooler in them. Fish from 5 to 35 feet out with swim baits, as that bite is picking up, for a few of the larger fish. For numbers, try Senkos and plastic worms, or tubes in crawdad colors or watermelon colors.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 56-percent capacity and the launch ramp is still out of the water at Emerald Cove Marina. Some people have been launching off the bank here but it is not recommended by the resort staff. Launch at Dark Day. Lots of bass boats on the lake catching some nice spots, but there were no specifics available.
CAMP FAR WEST—Heavy fog all week in the valley had this lake socked in. Very few people were willing to head out onto a lake where you couldn’t see the other end of the boat.
COLLINS LAKE—Very slow here with few fishermen. Rumor has it that trophy trout plants may start as soon as next week.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—Lake was fogged in all week and no one was out with the zero visibility.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake continues to drop slowly and launching is still only available at the Spillway, free of charge, but 4-wheel drive-launch-at-your-own-risk only. Excellent bass and coho action for tournament anglers getting on the lake over the past two weekends has been the rule. Tournament sacks up to 14 pounds have been seen, with coho up to 6 pounds thrown in for good measure. Small plastics at 30 to 35 feet are doing most of the damage.
ROLLINS LAKE—Not much is happening here. Most of the marinas are doing lots of off-season maintenance to prepare for spring. There were few reports of any angling success.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—Very few boats were out all week. A resort staffer gave shore fishing a try with no success, just the typical winter doldrums. Weather is expected by mid-week with heavy rains in the forecast.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The nice weather all week has cleared the snow off the roads but there have been few fishermen taking advantage of the improved access. Still no word from the DFG about when planting will resume.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The nice weather this past week helped improve access to the lake. A 2-wheel drive vehicle can get to the lake, but still watch out for muddy sections on the roads. Still no word about when DFG plants will resume. A big storm is forecast for mid-week that may hinder access depending on the snow level.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—Still slow. Heavy fog has made for lousy fishing conditions.