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.—Yo-yoing water levels with a mudslide muddying the water earlier in the week and rains bumping up flows later complicated steelhead action here. When the river gets back down to 2,200 to 4,000, WON field reporter Dave Pitts said drift boating will be best. He expected the river to exceed 8,000 cfs, and noted that plunkers will have the best shot at hooking up.
COQUILLE RIVER, Ore.—High going into the weekend, and more rains will worsen conditions before they get better. When river levels drop, watch out, the river should have plenty of fish.
EEL RIVER, Main—Most of the main stem was fishing great until the weekend rain hit. Anglers caught steelhead at the mouth of the Van Duzen, where low water conditions had stacked them up. Another good spot was just upriver at Weymouth Bluff hole, at 12th Street and at the 101 Bridge (north) at Rio Dell. Most anglers were using Corkies, Spin ‘n Glos, or roe on a fish pill. Count on the main Eel to be unfishable for several days after the big rains stop.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—Outdoor writer Hunt Conrad fished with Dave Cruz and Matt Voelker, scoring a hookup each day for each angler, and landing two fish. “Water conditions were perfect… I expect this river as well as all north coast streams to be washed out this weekend with the possible exception of the Smith River and the local coastal streams.”
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—Prime bets for first clearing after the storms. There were fish in both rivers, but the low, clear conditions made catching tough. All that changed with several inches of rain, but being smaller coastal streams, these will be clearing first.
MAD RIVER—Excellent action on steelhead above and below the hatchery, which is only taking spawners one or two days per week. That allows plenty of steelies to go above the hatchery. Best bet was Spin ‘n Glos or roe and a fish pill. While the rains will muddy up the river, some anglers keep fishing here where you can actually catch fish no matter the level.
MATTOLE RIVER—The sections that opened on January 1 have been excellent for anglers drifting Spin ‘n Glos, roe and Corkies. Likely to be wiped out for awhile with the storms now, but should come clear with four or five days of dry weather.
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers—From being too low and clear to blown out in about two days on the weekend. Expect good fishing once the rain breaks.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.—WON field reporter Dave Pitts said that the best bet will be for plunkers fishing Orchard Bar, the High Bank Coyote riffle, and Lobster Creek. Baits and plugs are top bets.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Big changes came after deadline, considering recent conditions required low water tactics. Some good spots included the PG&E hole, where outdoor writer Hunt Conrad said the fish were “essentially trapped by the low flow.” Prior to the storm, 30 fish had been counted at the Warm Springs Hatchery. One angler caught a 14 pounder below the dam at Healdsburg on a plug.
SMITH RIVER—Excellent steelhead action before the storm, and since this river fixes itself fast, should be a good bet given a break in the storms. WON field reporter Dave Pitts said guide John Klarr scored one fish for three anglers one day, but turned around and found five for five the next before the storms hit.
UMPQUA RIVER, Ore.—While the main stem was off color and high going into the weekend, the rains were sure to make it even worse. Prior to the storm, several big steelhead were landed including some in the 20-pound class. “With a little clearing, this river will be prime,” said WON field reporter Dave Pitts.
BENICIA—Still some shoreline striper action, but it has tapered off. At least the rains will help drive out the Dungeness crabs that have been competing for the baits. Benicia-based sturgeon fishermen ranged all the way up to Big Cut for sturgeon, but also fished the Mothball fleet and Ozol. Most of the week offered a slow bite, but the sturgeon action started picking up on Saturday.
BERKELEY—By last report, the boats were still running crab trips, and planning sturgeon efforts to south bay. No word on specific counts.
BODEGA BAY— Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler reported more big squid success, although the scores dropped a little. He had some really dedicated anglers on board including a 10-year-old from Folsom who researched the trip, talked his dad into going, then proceeded to hook and land a 52-pound Humboldt squid! The action came from the Cordell Bank, and all trips featured action on the surface for the devilfish.
CROCKETT—Captain Gordon Hough had only one trip on the Morning Star, and it wasn’t memorable for fish action. “The fish just weren’t biting,” he said. “These rains and bigger tides this week should drive out the crabs and vastly improve the sturgeon fishing.”
EMERYVILLE—Boats out of Emeryville Sportfishing have been running sturgeon trips, but angler interest has been light. The rains should help the bite and better tides will encourage anglers starting this week.
EUREKA—Before the storms hit, redtail surfperch action was pretty good at Centerville and Elk River beach. Sandcrabs worked at Centerville, and cooked shrimp at the in-bay spot at the mouth of Elk River. The ocean built to over 20 feet by the weekend, so all saltwater action was put on hold. The earthquake on Jan. 8 had an interesting affect on the crabs. “Crabbing was pretty good for the commercial guys just before the earthquake, but they disappeared after it!” said Ben Williams at the Pro Sport Center.
FORT BRAGG—Captain Randy Thornton’s last trips out on the Telstar found outstanding squid action and reasonable crab counts on the combo trips. He’ll be planning more of the same after the ocean lets up.
HALF MOON BAY—On his most recent trips Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat reported excellent squid action and limit crabbing. “The squid are a little closer and a little shallower than we customarily fish for them,” said Mattusch. “Another huge bonus, they are rallying to the surface for incredible action.” He’ll continue to offer the combo trips as weather permits.
MARTINEZ—While Friday was a tough day on Flash Fishing, sturgeon fishing during Saturday’s final hours of the strong outgoing really turned on, with seven hookups, three keepers decked, and one keeper striper boxed. Big sturgeon was a 58 incher, although Lisa Martin of Willits lost a 60 pounder at the boat. Eel and grass shrimp combo baits worked best, but a couple fish bit just plain shrimp.
PITTSBURG—Captain Kevin Yost of Lucky Strike Sportfishing was busy with the ISE show in San Mateo, but he’s been keeping tabs on the action. “The fishing was good in upper Suisun Bay,” said Yost. “The incoming tide was most productive in 35 to 34 feet of water. I heard one report of 24 fish in 24 hours from a reliable source, with pictures!” That angler was backed up by another report incidating a 53 incher and a 69 incher caught. He said the top bait was eel and ghost shrimp.
SAN PABLO BAY—These torrential rains forecasted should really boost the bite for sturgeon. The Dungeness crabs have been thick, and steal most baits within minutes of hitting the bottom. Fresh water influx will send them skittering to deeper main bay waters and the open ocean, giving the sturgeon a chance to find a bait or two.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Live bait has been the only game in town the past few months, but artificials are starting to work as the water temperatures rise. The lake is expected to warm up further in the next few weeks in response to the coming storms. Shakey-head worms, dart-head worms or rip baits in 4 to 7 feet of water in the shallow sections of the lake, adding brown/purple jigs in deeper water from 17 to 25 feet are the top techniques. Live shiner minnows are still a viable option throughout the lake.
LAKE BERRYESSA – The bass have moved shallow, and ripping a 4-inch worm on the edge of the weedbeds on the north east side of the lake in the shallower water is the top option. The spoon bite has ceased, as the fish have moved up from the deep water. Trout fishing has slowed down with a few fish per rod taken on spoons or blade/crawler combinations near the surface. The trout are still chasing the shad schools, but they are less active than previously in the month due to colder water temperatures. Catfish should move into the creek inlets on the north side of the lake with the expected inflow.
LAKE SONOMA – Landlocked steelhead are found at depths to 25-feet on shad-patterned Apex lures, Needlefish or naked nightcrawlers throughout the lake. Bass fishing has been slow with a few fish found in the trees in the Warms Springs Arm, Cherry Creek and the main lake at depths from 25 to 40 feet with shakey-head plastics.
UPPER BLUE LAKE— Trout fishing continues to be excellent from boats and along the banks. Trollers find the best cut of fish at depths from 35 to 40 feet on chrome Kastmasters, trolling flies or blade/crawler combinations. Bank anglers have been scoring with chartreuse Power Bait or night crawlers along Highway 20. The large plant of quality Eagle Lake strain trout has boosted fish counts.
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 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 3 pounds are taking small nymphs and egg patterns dead-drifted under indicators, side-drifted Glo-Bugs and small, backtrolled Hot Shots
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp—The river is in good shape down to Klamathon, and it would take a lot of rain to blow it out. The water is cold, and anglers are catching two to five steelies a day from a couple of pounds to five or six pounds mostly on drifted roe and nightcrawlers. The rest of the river is high and off-color. Call ahead.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—The Trinity is high and off-color below Del Loma with more rain expected. Call ahead.
TRINITY RIVER, Junction City—Steelhead fishing was very good around Del Loma, and fair around Junction City. There were still plenty of fish farther upstream from Lewiston through Douglas City, but the fish were darker than around the del Loma section which saw an influx of fresh, wild winter fish. By the weekend they hadn’t worked their way up into the higher reaches. Backtrolling Brad’s Wigglers was particularly effective, and so was drifting roe. Fly fishers worked golden stones, micro mayflies, psycho princes, and copper Johns. Lots more rain is expected this week so call ahead.
BOCA LAKE—The best ice fishing in the area for browns, rainbows and Macks. A Gulp! Minnow rigged on a lead head and jigged just under the ice about four feet has been drawing strikes from marauding browns chasing bait fish. The rainbows are closer to the bottom hitting worms and Power Bait. Heavy snows forecast for the whole area will make access questionable depending on the ability of the county snow plows to clear the road to the dam. Residential areas and business access will take priority over clearing roads for fishermen.
CAPLES LAKE—Ice fishing is very good with limits common. The ice is 12 to 16 inches thick with one to two feet of snow on top. Anglers are catching lots of 8- to 12-inch brookies, rainbows and browns on worms or a jigged Kastmaster at the dam and spillway. Plowed parking areas are near each site. Heavy snows are expected this week, so check on road conditions before coming up.
CARSON RIVER (East)—The weather was nice on Sunday and the ice was off the river. Some catch-and-release anglers were seen near Hangman’s Bridge in the artificial-only stretch. The area is expecting four feet of snow this week, so call ahead.
DAVIS LAKE—Ice fishing has been good at the dam and Mallard Cove, but heavy snows predicted for this area will make access difficult if not impossible for a week until the roads can be cleared after the storms.
DONNER LAKE—Heavy snow accumulations forecast for this area will make fishing improbable.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—Ice fishing has been good near the dam for anglers using nightcrawlers or jigging Crystal Bullets in yellow. The ice is eight to 10 inches thick at the dam and thicker in other areas. The roads are open to the dam and further down both sides of the lake, but a big storm is forecast for this week with lots of snow.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—Accessible last week but heavy snows forecast for the area all this week will close access here for awhile.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Some Macks and browns are coming in for trollers using Jointed Rapalas along the east side and the second dam. Macks to four pounds and browns to five pounds. Heavy rain forecast for all of this week
LAKE TAHOE—Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters reported that the fishing on his last trip was “super-awesome”. He tagged 16 fish from five to seven pounds and his clients only kept two seven pounders. The fish are stacked up at 400 feet and action was fast and furious on Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos. Six to 10 feet of snow is forecast for this week–travelers BEWARE!!
LOON LAKE—Not many anglers up here even though the road is plowed for SMUD. Heavy snows forecast this week will shut this area off to fishermen.
PROSSER LAKE—Heavy snows forecast for all this week will make access difficult if not impossible due to the demands on snow plowing crews.
PYRAMID LAKE—Trollers have been doing well with shore anglers having a tough time. The fish move in and out of deeper water making shore action more hit-or-miss. Trollers are working 20 to 40 feet deep with Flatfish. Boaters can also jig with a black marabou lead head after metering schools of bait fish. The biggest fish weighed in at the Pyramid Store this past week was caught by a shore angler casting a spoon near the Block House, a 9-pound 2-ouncer by Daniel Grayson of Reno.
RED LAKE—Best action is at the dam on worms or a jigged Kastmaster. Fish are mostly pan-sized brook trout with some to two pounds. Heavy snows are forecast for all this week.
SILVER LAKE—Ice fishermen have been working the dam for easy limits on worms and Kastmaster spoons, but the heavy snows predicted to accumulate all this week will shut this area down for awhile.
TOPAZ LAKE—Rainbow action is still good for boaters but the shore bite has dropped off. Lots of two pounders are falling for a toplined flasher/’crawler combo. Big storms forecast for the Sierras this week may make for difficult travel to this area from the West.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Heavy snows forecast for all this week will make this unfishable.
LAKE ALMANOR— The cooler surface temperatures have the trout holding in deep water, and Canyon Dam has been producing large rainbows and browns on inflated nightcrawlers, mealworms, or roe close to the bottom is advised, The bite doesn’t turn on until mid-morning when the water temperatures rise. Trollers have been pulling Needlefish in Cop Car behind flashers at depths from 30 feet and below. King salmon and rainbows are also found around Recreation No. 2 on the Almanor Peninsula with roe in combination with Siberian Cheese salmon eggs suspended off of the bottom. A few large browns have been taken in the Hamilton Branch on chartreuse jigs worked off of the bottom. The lake levels remain low with several hazards just under the surface. All ramps are not operating due to the low water levels.
BAUM LAKE—Midges, small nymphs and wooly buggers are favorites among the fly fishermen, while small crawlers and Kastmasters are preferred by bait fishers and hardware anglers. The bite has turned and lots of fish have been caught.
PIT RIVER—Open to catch and release only, barbless hooks, artificials only from Lake Britton dam downstream. Continued construction on the Dam has limited the number of reports.
LAKE SHASTA—There were several bass over five pounds taken during the weekend’s FLW National Guard Western Division tournament in a surprisingly large showing. Six-inch worms in Mojave Oxblood or Osprey green pumpkin or wacky-rigged Senkos from the banks to 50 feet in depth are the most consistent offerings. A few larger fish can be taken on swimbaits, but the bite is inconsistent. Trout anglers have been fishing the southern shore of the lake for some quality rainbows averaging two to three pounds with silver/blue or red/gold Speedy Shiners.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 57-percent capacity and rising slowly. A dozen bass boats launched at Emerald Cove Marina off the shore, which is not recommended, and did well on spotted bass. The better fish were running three to five pounds and were hitting Senkos and swimbaits. The only operational boat ramp is at Dark Day.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake has risen to 24-percent capacity. No reports of any fishing success were available from North Shore Resort.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake received a private plant of crappie and bass. The DFG is expected to begin trout plants by the end of the month. Not many anglers are coming up to the lake but those that have made the effort are catching some nice rainbows. Limits are rare and most of the fish reported have been caught on Power Bait.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—Very few anglers have been seen and no one has reported any success. Things are SLOW!
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is rising very slowly but heavy rains forecast for most of this week may change that. Bass fishing is wide open with limits running 12 to 14 pounds. The North Fork and West Branch were pretty muddy this past week and the best action was coming from the main body of the lake on the bigger points. The fish are shallow and hitting rip baits and crawdad jigs and worms dragged slowly on the bottom. The fish are all running two to three pounds. Check water running into the lake in the back of main lake pockets after the rains start for feeding spots.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 85-percent capacity. Some fish are being caught, but no specifics were available from Long Ravine Campgrounds.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 72-percent capacity. Only a couple of boats were on the lake all week and no one reported any success.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Still waiting for DFG trout plants.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 73-percent capacity and still waiting for DFG trout plants.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—Fishing here has been DEAD!