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.-The weekend turned out to be a decent fish, with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing reporting a bunch of new hatchery fish in the system. “We hooked six today, and I saw a handful of other guides catching fish,” said Martin. The river topped 8,000 cfs, but was down to 4,500 cfs by the weekend. The ODFW hatchery report indicated the best steelhead counts of the year on Thursday and Friday. Top bets were Pautzke’s natural-color cured roe combined with orange, pink and yellow Puffballs.
EEL RIVER-The main stem is wiped out with no relief in sight. The lower stretch will need at least a week of dry weather to reach fishable levels.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-Blown out, with not much chance of recovery before the weekend, however the upper river will clear long before the main stem.
ELK RIVER, Ore-Good action with guides reporting one to three steelhead per day while drifting from the hatchery to Iron Head. This river is often the first one fishing after storms in Southern Oregon, and anglers can call the Elk River hatchery fishing hotline for flow information at (541) 332-0405.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers- Blown out, and with more rain forecasted through the week, questionable at best for the weekend.
MAD RIVER-Very high and muddy, but a few guys are still trying below the hatchery. Should be in much better shape by the weekend.
MATTOLE RIVER-Same as the Gualala, etc.: Blown out, and with more rain forecasted through the week, questionable at best for the weekend.
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers-Blown out, and marginal bets for the weekend. They do clear quickly, so these catch and release only streams might offer some opportunities.
ROGUE RIVER, Upper, Ore.-The river around Grants Pass was fair by the weekend with a little color, but overall good conditions. The fish count was 2,760 winter run over the Gold Ray Dam.
RUSSIAN RIVER-Blown out big time. Don’t expect much in the way of clearing for a good week or more, depending on additional rainfall, and even more important, temperatures. Low snows meant lots of potential for snow runoff.
SMITH RIVER-Guide Phil Desautels of Smiling Salmon Guide Service said that while the Smith drainage got some rain, the river never did get past the 18-foot mark at the Highway 101 bridge, and remained fishable with two to five hookups per trip for most boats. He saw steelhead to 14 pounds landed. With more rain in the forecast, Desautels suggested anglers call first before heading up.
BODEGA BAY- No reports of any giant squid trips, and with the weather, there probably weren’t any.
CROCKETT-Captain Gordon Hough on the Morning Star reported improving conditions in San Pablo Bay, but a tough bite. “We only had one trip in Saturday’s marginal weather, and the group caught two flounder and missed a couple bites,” he said. “The rains didn’t change much, but it really poured, and more rains are forecast.” The week offered good tides all through, and he was hopeful for more sturgeon to report for the next issue.
EMERYVILLE-No trips out, but there are two scheduled this week, one for Friday and one for Saturday, sturgeon efforts that will try either South San Francisco Bay or San Pablo Bay.
EUREKA-The ocean swell crested at 30 feet in the middle of the week, and was still up around 18 feet on the weekend, so not much activity on the ocean. Even Elk River Beach was off due to the big westerly swell coming in from the ocean.
FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar said he couldn’t get out all week, but has a Saturday giant squid only trip that looks promising. His last trips out found plenty of squid willing, about seven miles out.
HALF MOON BAY-Rough seas all week cancelled trips, but Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat said he’ll be out after giant squid and Dungeness crabs after the ocean settles down.
MARTINEZ-Anglers fishing the Diamond Classic Catch and Release sturgeon derby scored 20 keepers and at least one oversized, all fish released. There were plenty of small striped bass caught also. Conditions weren’t perfect, but the break in the storms came just right, with the anglers only contending with the occasional squall. Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker didn’t fish the derby, but his anglers caught two keepers, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Captain Chris Smith ran the California Dawn, and scored three keeper sturgeon for four anglers, and they lost a fourth big one due to equipment malfunction (a levelwind reel froze).
PITTSBURG- Do Nguyen of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported several sturgeon to 53 inches landed on Saturday, January 23 in the normal areas around Chain Island, Buoy 33 and the PGE Plant. The inflow of freshwater has not been significant enough to push the small Dungeness crab out of upper Suisun Bay, but the next series of storms may force them to seek saltier water towards San Pablo and San Francisco Bay.
SAN PABLO BAY-Still a lot of salt and clear water despite the storms, but the fresh water will only improve things. The coming rains and good tides this week should perk up the bite for the anglers trying.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE- The lake is on the rise from last week’s storm, and with all of the good of the inflow comes dirty water conditions; the water should remain off-color until an extended period of dry weather. The bass have dropped down deeper with fish that were in 12 to 16 feet in depth moving to 14 to 18 feet in depth with plastic worms the most effective lures, along with jigs, rip baits or swim baits with a paddle tail. The key to success is finding clear water in the deepest section of the lake. For bait, live shiner minnows on the splitshot or drop-shot are still the best thing going.
LAKE BERRYESSA–Ripping 4-inch worms on the edge of the weedbeds on the north east side of the lake in the shallower water is the top option for bass, as they continue to hold in the shallows. The catfish bite exploded in the upper coves with deep water access for channel catfish from 5 to 15 pounds on frozen shad or mackerel. The muddy water conditions slowed down trout fishing with an occasional fish on spoons or blade/crawler combinations near the surface. The colder water has made the trout more lethargic, and the shad schools have been breaking up with the water levels in the lake rising.
LAKE SONOMA–The lake experienced a rapid rise in the past week in response to 10 inches of rain in the local area. As a result, fishing interest has slowed due to muddy water and floating debris. Most anglers are taking a wait and see approach to allow the lake to settle down. The lake is at 60 percent of capacity.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-There were few anglers out during the week in the weather conditions, but the large plant of quality Eagle Lake strain trout has anglers interested in this small impoundment when the weather cooperates.
AMERICAN RIVER-Quite a few steelhead entered the river during the latest storms. Lots of steelies can be seen in Nimbus Hatchery, and some were being caught mostly in Nimbus Basin.. The river was off-color, but still flowing at around 1,500 cfs and quite fishable. It is likely to remain at that flow so long as Folsom Lake remains below its minimum flood pool for this time of year. Mini-crawlers and roe are probably the best way to go under current river conditions, but some anglers were scoring drifting mini-jigs and beads under bobbers. Fly fishers should up the size and brightness of their flies.
FEATHER RIVER-The Low Flow Section has browned up and risen, but still was fishable, according to John Lackey of Feather River Outfitters. Hardly anybody was fishing, but Lackey said he caught a 4-pound steelhead at Bedrock in the area newly opened above the Highway 70 Bridge. He said that mini-crawlers are the best way to go in current conditions.
FOLSOM LAKE-Virtually no one was venturing out on the water, and although the lake is rising at about a foot a day (Brown’s Ravine is now open), the 5 m.p.h. speed limit is still in effect, a good thing because it is still quite low and there is now a lot of debris in the water. The lake was somewhat off-color, and the best bets for catching something is to work the inlets at backs of coves as flows subside and clear. The water will clear first on the main lake in front of the dam. For diehards that want to try for trout, the water will clear first in the top 15 feet, so toplining will likely produce the best results.
RANCHO SECO LAKE-This is a good spot for a finding some fishable water and willing trout after the stormy weather, particularly with a scheduled DFG plant this week. Fish with Power Bait, Power Eggs, and Power Worms from shore for trout ranging from a pound to five pounds. Boaters in pontoon boats, kayaks, float tubes, and canoes did well on woolly buggers and Power Worms, Kastmasters, Apexes and grubs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-The Sac is high, muddy, and full of debris so boating is out of the question for the foreseeable future, but quite a few positive sturgeon reports were coming in. Merritt Island is one good area where there have been reports of multiple sturgeon being caught on ghost shrimp, pile worms and a “cocktail” combining the two.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing-Sturgeon were being caught around Tisdale from the bank, but the river is high and muddy and full of debris, including trees that can sink a boat. The Tisdale ramp is closed. Fishing should really take off (as much as sturgeon fishing ever “takes off,”) when the river settles down. Don’t even think about putting a boat on the water.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Flows out of Keswick Dam have not increased as of yet, because Shasta Reservoir is so low, but the Sac below Keswick is muddy, and will likely remain unfishable for a few days after the storms pass. Trout fishing had been good before the storms and should perk right up again when the water clears.
YUBA RIVER-The Yuba was producing a few steelhead and trout through the weekend, but with the storms, it will be muddied and high for awhile.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-The river was still fishable down to I-5, but blown out downstream of the Shasta River at deadline time. There are plenty of steelhead in the river, and fishing should be good when conditions stabilize. Strong winds accompanying the storm have made for difficult fishing conditions. It’s been mostly a bait affair in the cold water. 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 put on hold for most of last week throughout the Trinity, even all the way to Lewiston. But, lots of fresh steelies were moving upstream spurred on by the higher flows, and fishing should be very good as the river drops, clears, and stabilizes. The uppermost stretch below Lewiston should be fishable within a couple days tops, Douglas City two days after that, and around Junction City in another two more. It should be very good around Del Loma, and fair around Junction City. Drifting roe and backtrolling Brad’s Wigglers will be good bets in the early days when the river becomes fishable again. Fly fishers will have a more challenging time in the higher flows, and should up the size of their flies so they can be seen more easily. Call ahead.
BOCA LAKE-Three to four feet of snow here this past week, but the road is plowed to the dam. Fish near the dam with a Gulp! Minnow on a small jighead just under the ice for browns or off the bottom using nightcrawlers for rainbows. More weather in the forecast, BEWARE!!
CAPLES LAKE-Heavy accumulations at this elevation for the last week put seven feet of snow around the lake. There’s three feet of snow on top of the ice, so bring a shovel after the storm breaks later this week to auger through 18 inches of ice at the dam and spillway. Nightcrawlers and jigged Kastmaster spoons account for most of the many pansized fish being caught.
CARSON RIVER (East)-Three to four feet of snow and more coming makes this a questionable choice for a fishing trip
DAVIS LAKE-There’s three to four feet of snow around the lake with two feet on the ice, and more snow is in the forecast. Parking is hard to come by near the dam, so anglers need to bring snowshoes and be prepared to walk a ways to the dam or back side of the island. 12- to 14-inch fish are being caught near the dam and bigger fish are coming out of eight feet of water behind the island. Most anglers are using nightcrawlers.
DONNER LAKE-Lack of parking is the biggest issue here because of all the snow.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-Lots of snow this past week with four feet around the lake and a couple of feet on the ice. Most anglers are fishing at the dam with nightcrawlers and Crystal Bullet jigs. More snow is in the forecast so be prepared for the weather or wait until the storm clears.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-A mix of snow and rain has made access very difficult. More snow is in the forecast so this lake may be out of reach for awhile.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Lots of rain and snow has made for icy conditions on the lake access roads. More weather is forecast for this week. No one has been up to the lake to fish.
LAKE TAHOE-Five feet of snow along the west side of the lake and 1.5 feet at North Shore. More snow is in the forecast but fishing has been very good with Macks up to 14 pounds caught this past week on a Chuck’s Charter Fishing trip. Chuck Self has been doing well from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deep trolling is the way to go.
PROSSER LAKE-Snow is plowed to the end of the road to the dam, then it’s a mile walk to the ice. Most anglers go to Boca.
PYRAMID LAKE-Some snow along with the windy, cold weather from a series of storms passing through the area all this past week limited the number of anglers hitting the lake. Those hardy enough to withstand the cold were still catching some nice fish. It would be best to wait until the weather improves.
RED LAKE-Six feet of snow around the lake and three feet on the ice will keep most anglers away until there is a big break in the weather. After the storm passes, work the dam with nightcrawlers for brookies from pan-sized to two pounds
SILVER LAKE-Seven to nine feet of snow around the lake and three to four feet on the ice. Be prepared to shovel a lot of snow before hitting ice. Most anglers have been fishing at the dam with nightcrawlers or jigging a Kastmaster spoon.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR-Heavy accumulations of snow all this past week pretty much shut this lake off to all but the best-equipped winter anglers. Snowmobile access only, and bring a big shovel if you plan on reaching the ice. No reports of anyone willing to make any attempts here.
TOPAZ LAKE-Two feet of snow and bitter cold is cutting into the number of anglers willing to challenge the elements. Fishing was good before the storms settled in and will improve with better weather.
LAKE ALMANOR- The week’s storms left up to 70 inches of snow, and the only ramp that may be available is the Canyon Dam ramp. The county will plow the ramp, but the local roads taken priority over the ramp, so it may not be available for some time. In any case, experience in launching a trailer on the frozen launch ramp is necessary. Prior to the storms, trout fishing had been very good with Cop Car Needlefish behind flashers at depths from 30 feet and lower near Canyon Dam. The ice on the west side of the lake should be breaking up with the rising water levels.
BAUM LAKE- The Fish have turned on and most fishermen are doing fine, with some nice limits being taken. Zebra midges, small nymphs, BWO’s and wooly buggers are favorites among the fly fishermen, while small ‘crawlers and Kastmasters are preferred by bait fishers and hardware anglers.
LAKE BRITTON–Construction for the PG&E relicensing has begun and the road across the dam at Lake Britton will be closed to vehicular traffic. Roads will be well posted regarding the closure. The road will also be closed at Pit 4. Access to the Pit 3 road will be from Clark Creek road on the north side of Lake Britton, while the Pit River below Pit 4 will be accessible from Big Bend. Barnard Construction has listed a phone number for current road work, with intermittent closures (406) 586-2206, ext. 703. Also, “PG&E will increase stream flows in the Pit 3 bypass reach during this year’s construction on the Pit 3 Dam. Flow in the Pit 3 bypass reach will increase from about 150 cubic feet per second (cfs) to approximately 230 cfs.” These increases may occur as early as July and can continue until December 2009.
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- With the lake rising three to four feet per day, the key to fishing bass is to work the running water inlets with chartreuse spinnerbaits or crankbaits, while trout fishing will take the opposite approach of seeking clearer water close to the dam. Along with the water inflow, comes warmer water which will cause the shad to move into the inlets, but the fast-rising water will cause the predator species to become disoriented. Senkos, Gitzits, brown/purple jigs or drop-shot plastics in crawdad-imitation patterns at depths from 40 to 45 feet are the most consistent bass technique. Trout fishermen are advised to work near the dam with shad-patterned spoons or gold Speedy Shiners from the surface to 15 feet.
BULLARDS BAR-Heavy rains and some snow have kept most anglers off the lake this past week. The lake level has come up and those launching off the bank at Emerald Cove will have an easier time, though it is recommended that you launch at Dark Day. The Dark Day ramp has a lot of silt build up and boaters should use caution. The spotted bass bite has been great for fish running three to five pounds. Try the main points at 50 feet with a wacky-rigged Senko. The bass are eating kokanee.
CAMP FAR WEST-Heavy rains all week with more to come have kept anglers at home. The lake level is rising quickly, which is a good thing!
COLLINS LAKE-Lake has come up from 42 feet down to only 28 feet just this past week and more rain is forecast for this week. No one has been up to the lake due to the poor weather. DFG is scheduled to plant trout here this week.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-Heavy rains this past week and more coming in this week have shut down the fishing. The only people coming to Skippers Cove are the houseboaters checking their boats.
LAKE OROVILLE-Thank the rain gods for putting the Bidwell Marina boat ramp back in operation, as the lake came up 14 feet with all the rain last week and more is coming. Bass and coho action is still very good. Spotted bass to four pounds and small cohos around 13 inches are hitting all over the lake from 20 to 40 feet deep. Check running water for big catfish on cut baits, like mackerel. A 14 pounder came out of the Middle Fork this past week.
ROLLINS LAKE-Too much rain for anglers to venture out, but the lake level is up and the DFG finally made a trout plant this past week. Long Ravine Campgrounds reported that the lake is still clear despite all the runoff.
SCOTTS FLAT LAKE-Lots of rain and some snow has made fishing tough. More heavy rain is forecast for early this week. At least all this rain will help fill the lake. With Rollins being planted last week, maybe Scott’s Flat will be next.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-With lower snow levels from the recent storms, access is best left to the 4-wheelers, but still no word of when DFG will resume plants. At least the lake is back on the “to plant” list.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-Lots of snow here and the roads aren’t plowed, so access is 4-wheel drive only. Like at Sugar Pine, still no word on when the DFG will start trout plants.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Poor weather has shut down the fishing.