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.—A brief flurry of fresh fish middle of last week lasted through Saturday, and then it was over. Boat numbers went from a dozen Saturday to half that Sunday. Biologist find themselves agreeing with anglers, there are fewer steelhead in the Chetco this season than in the past four years, according to WON Field Reporter and Chetco Outdoor Store manager Dave Pitts. Fish are on redds now, and should be left alone. “I don’t understand why we are allowed the retention of ‘wild’ steelhead, especially when our neighboring river to the south, the Smith, has recognized they have a problem and are trying to fix it.
EEL RIVER, main stem—Muddy and unfishable.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—Get ready for the onslaught of guides and anglers: The bluebacks are in! Big numbers of fresh bluebacks running three to seven pounds are in the river and biting with abandon. Combined with perfect conditions currently from Pearcy to Legget, and expected perfect conditions around Garberville over the weekend, great action is expects on downers and fresh bluebacks.
ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Ore—Low and clear conditions makes these rivers near-impossible to fish right now.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—Scarce reports on these smaller rivers, but they are fishable and steelies were caught from the Gualala on Sunday, according to Steve Jackson of Kings Sport and Tackle.
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers—Fishable at press time, but changeable on short notice, so call ahead.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.–Three confirmed springers of the year have been taken, two wilds (unclipped fish) and one fin-clipped hatchery salmon. The fin-clipped king appeared at the Chetco Outdoor Store in Brookings, where WON’s Dave Pitts, store manager, said it was a solid 19.2 pounds. The angler said it was taken on a small straight bait herring below Lobster Creek while fishing a slot, where the fish run.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Ore.–Steelhead action on the upper Rogue near Grants Pass continues to produce an on-and-off bite. Some say the counts are some of the best they have seen in recent memory, but fishing the Grants Pass stretch tells another story: both anglers and guides say it has been slow at times. Dave McIntyre of Medford fished his daughter Breanne and they got into some solid steelhead action. Weather has been summer-like over the past week.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Still high and muddy right now, but very little rain on the horizon and nothing the rest of the week, so Steve Jackson at Kings Sport and Tackles is optimistic about fishing the lower river this weekend. Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma are flowing at 50 cfs and 250 cfs, so Healdsberg should be fishable by Thursday and the lower river over the weekend. Look for about 50/50 fresh and downer fish.
SMITH RIVER—Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said things are “scratchy” on the Smith, with a fish here and there. Height is 16 ½ feet at the 101 bridge, and visibility is about 10 to 15 feet in green water. “They’re not spooky, there just aren’t many fish here,” Desautel said. He expects the next rain to push the spawned out fish into the main river and to bring more fresh fish in. So, it’s not over here!!
UMPQUA RIVER, Main, Ore.—Guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service said the river has been fishing well, is in good condition in the Roseburg area, and even if it blows out will be fishing again in four days. There were eight fresh winter steelhead caught during the last hour of light on Saturday at Cleaveland Rapid on the Main Umpqua just a few miles outside of Roseburg, a general public access area.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Ore.—A warning to anglers from WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts: If you have not fished this area before you could end up adding to the lost boat tally. This part of the Umpqua is dangerous, especially in the Dixon Falls area where guide Danny Taylor missed a stroke and the boat spun sideways and filled with water. Several guides rescued them.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Ore.—More wild steelhead than hatchery at this time, and guide Curtis Palmer reported action can be consistent most days, but with dry weather patterns a combination of water flow and color is forcing many to change up strategies. Palmer said most of the time he is fishing 4- to 8-pound leader for big steelhead, the only thing he changes is the size of his offerings and leader lengths. Expect the Umpqua to begin its transition to an increase in downers and an increase of chrome spring Chinooks as they pass each other in the system.
UMPQUA RIVER, Winchester Bay, Ore.—The mouth of the Umpqua River has been providing fair to good action on steelhead, 80/20 ration wild over hatchery, and an increase in hookups as anglers drift closer to the forks area, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts, who went to the lower Umpqua and confirmed reports that two spring kings had been hooked and released.
WILSON RIVER, Ore.–O’dark thirty launchers are picking up a few steelehad, but over all, this system is slowing dramatically. Just above the Sollie Smith Bridge, anglers have been scoring on chromers and success is coming on small plugs like Hot Shots in the Cop Car and copper with painted black backs. Other anglers use floats to fish the deeper pools to connect. Some anglers reported the swing of the tide action improved action on bright fish, releasing three wild fish in two day, keeping one hatchery fish. River levels will dictate success stories from here on out.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp—Water conditions are great, and fishing continued to be good throughout the Klamath below Iron Gate Dam. The very few anglers on the river were catching a mix of halfpounders, and adults weighing up to 8 pounds. Drifted nightcrawlers and roe, backtrolled crawdad crankbaits and Hot Shots were productive, as were nymphs under indicators for the flyfishers.
KLAMATH RIVER, Weitchpec—Some nice, fresh steelhead were being caught in the area on roe and nightcrawlers.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—The river was high but fishable. Work roe and ‘crawlers deep in holes below the mouths of creeks.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—There is very little angling pressure, and fishing is a challenge. However, the river is in beautiful shape, and there is a fresh run of wild adults weighing up to 9 pounds. You won’t catch a lot of fish, but the rewards for putting in your time are great. Drift roe, or, if fly fishing, dead drift nymphs under an indicator. Poxy back hare’s ears have been one of the most productive patterns.
BENICIA—Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait reported good, steady sturgeon action all through the system, with the fish weighed in there mostly coming from the Ozol Pier area and Montezuma Slough. “But I’ve heard reports from all over including the Mothball Fleet,” said Lopez. Small stripers have been hitting for the shoreline anglers, but they have been mostly shakers. The bigger stripers are coming from the Firing Line, but the fish are finicky.
BERKELEY—Several of the party boats are planning to be back here by April 3 to offer halibut trips and possibly salmon trips, if the season does, indeed, open on that date.
BODEGA BAY— Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler reported his first squid skunk of the year, and said he’ll give it one more shot on Saturday; if they blank again, he’ll pull the plug on the squid trips.
EMERYVILLE—No trips out on the party boats, but Emeryville Sportfishing Center is booking sturgeon trips when the weather and angler interest permits. The last trip on the Captain Hook scored one keeper sturgeon, said John Perrodin at the landing.
EUREKA—The rough ocean continued to hamper fishing effort in the saltwater, and the rains didn’t help the river action either. Night fish have been running when the surf is down, which hasn’t been often. The forecast this week is indicating some weather stability, so the surfperch and smelt action should improve.
FORT BRAGG—Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar ran a crab only trip on the weekend, finding five Dungeness around for seven anglers. He’s got his first ab and crab combo planned for April 1, the trip allowing anglers to free dive for abalone and then check the crab pots for Dungeness.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat has been targeting Humboldt squid and crabs with good counts on both. No word if the boat got out this week.
SUISUN BAY—Sturgeon has been the top pick for anglers fishing the Mothball Fleet, Ozol Pier and Montezuma Slough. Grass and eel was the top bait, with some success on pile worms. Some of the tackle shops ran a little light of grass shrimp on the weekend, no report if the drought will be long term or not.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—The lake level and temperature are both on the rise. Bass are also moving up, as conditions improve. Successful anglers are using a combination of jigs, blades, and plastics to catch their fish. This is the time of the year that the upper end of the lake gets the bulk of the attention due to its shallow nature and quick warming characteristics. The area between the State Park and Konocti Vista Casino is getting the bulk of the attention these days, as are the tules there. With a week of good weather this place will be going good.
LAKE BERRYESSA—A super-sized largemouth bass weighing in at 12 pounds, 1-ounce was found at the north end of the lake in about 15 feet of water, while slowly working a plastic worm. Take this as a sign that the bass bite is improving.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—There’s plenty of trout here for trollers and bass along the Highway 20 shoreline. But cooler waters slowed the bite. Fishing will pick up as soon as the weather improves.
INDIAN VALLEY RESERVIOR—Bass fishing as well as catfishing should be excellent here with all the recently added rainfall waters. Launching is possible too, but the roads in are now the problem.
LAKE SONOMA—More bass, and larger ones, are being reported. Bass are now starting to stage in the warmer shallows of the creek arms and in their usual areas. Senkos and spinnerbaits will be good choices to start.
LAKE ALMANOR—Canyon Dam was the more populated area, as both the novice and expert streamer fly angler fought for spots to troll. The Rec. 2 and the Powerhouse may be good alternative areas to try. Pond smelt is what they have been feeding on, and the bite has been from the surface down to 10 feet.
BAUM LAKE—The good bite here continues for 8- to 12-inch brown trout, as well as larger rainbows. The bite has been fair to good regardless of the weather but cloudy days have been easier then when the sun’s out. Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney suggested zebra midges in size 20 and 22, but woolly buggers in black or olive also produced fish. Lure fishermen have discovered “trout magnets” and these are definitely catching fish. Chartreuse has been the preferred color.
KESWICK RESERVIOR–The reservoir is muddy in the lower half from recent storms, but the upper sections are clear and fishing well with streamers and nymphs right now. This is proving to be a great springtime option, especially when the Sac is blown out.
Keswick usually fishes the same all year unless the water is dirty from recent storms. Nymph with indicators like you to use on the lower Sac. or pull streamers on sinking lines.
IRON CANYON— Iron Canyon is finally down to around 6,000 acre fet, which are ideal conditions for this time of year. According to The Fly Shop in Redding, often the best trout fishing here comes in February and March when the lake is low, as it is right now. No reports yet, but conditions are ideal and fishing should be superb. You can attack this lake either one of two ways, indicator and nymphs or sinking lines and streamers. The midge hatches are usually strong and fishing a blood midge with a black midge pupa dropper is deadly. For those who want to cast and retrieve flies, leech and bugger style flies work great. You can usually get some bigger fish usually this method.
PIT RIVER—The first reports from here in awhile are good nymphing the pocket water with some dry fly action midday on warm days (caddis and March browns). The Pit can be a favorite early-season getaway, open year round (Pit 3-4-5) and not as impacted by runoff as other regional streams. The past two March and Aprils have been outstanding, and it’s off to a great start for this spring. This area is open to catch and release only, barbless hooks, and artificials only from Lake Britton dam downstream. With all of the PG&E road closures though, it’s hard to get here and few reports ever come in.
LAKE SHASTA—Everything is really starting to pick up, as the water is starting to stabilize and warm up. Waters averaging 49 degrees should be inching up to 50 and higher soon. Cooler temps up in the major tributaries, try them for trout. Mid-lake should find warmer waters and more bass.
AMERICAN RIVER— There’s not much exciting to report. It doesn’t appear that the late surge of steelhead that typically shows up around now has appeared yet. There has been very little pressure, and the fish being caught are a mix of small, bright steelies weighing a couple of pounds, plus some darker downrunners. Drift nightcrawlers and roe, and swing Little Cleos, and steelhead streamers. Fly fishers are swinging streamers or dead drifting small nymphs and egg patterns under indicators. Flows are 1,300 cfs.
FEATHER RIVER, Low Flow Section—Steelhead fishing was slow in spite of excellent water conditions. Please stay off salmon spawning redds when wading.
FEATHER RIVER, Shanghai Bend—The river cleared quite a bit, and fishing for striped bass picked up again. A 38 pounder was caught—and released—at Boyd’s Pump.
FOLSOM LAKE—“Same old, same old.” Fishing for trout and king salmon continued to be excellent. Troll from near the surface to 20 feet deep with Speedy Shiners Yo-Zuris and Rapalas. The Granite Bay Ramp to the dam has been producing lots better than the Brown’s Ravine side. The water is murky up the South Fork, but in much better shape on the main body. Bass continued to move shallower. Although there has been a bit of a reaction bite, fish were still lethargic and anglers did better fishing soft plastics like Robo-Worms slowly.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—There’s not much change. Rancho Seco was still producing trout on Power Bait, Power Eggs, and Power Worms from shore, and slowly fished woolly buggers, Power Worms, Kastmasters, Apexes, and grubs from pontoon boats, kayaks, float tubes, and canoes.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The river was still muddy but dropping, and there were a few stripers caught on cut bait and bloodworms at Bryte’s Beach. And a few more in the Port on minnows. Lisbon Slough was the place to be, though. It’s producing lots of sturgeon. Many are oversized (over 66 inches) and must be released, but there are plenty of keepers being caught on ghost shrimp and pileworms.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing—The river dropped 8 feet in a few days and sturgeon fishing picked right back up. The boat ramp at Tisdale is still closed.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is down to 14.6-percent capacity. Easy access to the dam and fishing has been good for a mix of browns and rainbows using Power Bait, worms and jigged Gulp! Minnows.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is down to 58-percent capacity. Same ol’ same ol’, according to Kelly Keith at Caples Lake Resort. Limits in about an hour are the usual for anglers fishing at the dam and spillway with worms, Power Bait and jigged spoons. The area received three to five feet of snow and 18 to 24 inches of ice to get to the water.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Carson River Resort reports that anglers have been parked at Hangman’s Bridge every day, but no one has reported in to him about the catch-and-release fly fishing.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is holding at 51-percent capacity. Fishing is still great at the dam for 12- to 17-inch rainbows with an occasional fish, 18 to 20 inches. Use a small ball of Power Bait on a dropper rigged size 16 treble hook for the best results. The ice is thinning with the warm days and nights. Use caution on the ice, especially near the edges where the ice is much thinner.
DONNER LAKE—Currently the lake is at 38-percent capacity. Shore action is good at the piers for rainbows on Power Bait and worms. Some Macks are moving up early in the morning and will hit a big Krocodile or Kastmaster. Smaller Macks are hitting bait, especially minnows caught out of the lake.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is holding at 39-percent capacity. Still good at the dam for anglers using Power Bait and nightcrawlers for rainbows 14 to 18 inches.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Lake is accessible from the back side, the road in from Hwy 89 is impassible right now. The recent plant has provided some action for fish up to 6 pounds on nightcrawlers. Use caution or at least 4-wheel drive when he ethhading here due to the rough road conditions.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is at 77-percent capacity. The lake received 3500 pounds of DFG rainbows that measured 8 to 16 inches. Shore anglers were doing well for planters by the boat ramp at the first dam on Power Bait. No Macks weighed in this past week, but the bigger fish should have moved up to feed on the planters.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck’s Fishing Charters reported great action on their Sunday trip. They caught boat limits of Mackinaws (10) from 6 to 10 a.m. trolling Torpedo and Krocodile spoons at 180 to 220 feet. Lots of short strikers are hitting the gear, so think about using a long shanked hook.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 34-percent capacity. The area by the boat ramp at Hobart Mills is still the best bet. The dam is also kicking out rainbows on Power Bait and worms.
PYRAMID LAKE—Eagle Eye Fishing Charters reported good action on cutts’ trolling 30 to 40 feet deep on the south and north ends of the lake. Trips usually produce 25 to 35 fish with at least one 9 to 10 pounder. Their biggest fish this past week was an 11 pounder. Fly casters are doing very well at the Nets on black wooly buggers, leeches, and matukas. Crosby’s Lodge reported that a fly caster caught a 14 1/2 pounder at the South Nets on a wooly bugger. They also weighed in three 11’s, two 10’s and three 9’s this past week caught by trollers and shore anglers. Cutthroat Charters at the Pyramid Store doing well also.
RED LAKE—Two feet of new snow this past week, but anglers can still access the lake at the dam. Use worms for brookies up to 2 pounds.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is down to 9-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort’s Kelly Keith reported little action going on here, most ice fishermen opt for Caples. Be concerned about a big gap between the water and the ice here!!!
TOPAZ LAKE—Action from the shore or trolling is only fair with two or three fish per angler for a day’s fishing. North Shore anglers are using nightcrawlers off the bank for 1 1/2 to 2 pounders, while trollers are working perch and gold/black Rapalas. Limits are far and few between for both shore anglers and trollers.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Concentrate on the slower pools and runs out of the stronger current with small black stones, baetis and BWO patterns in sizes 16 to 20.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 58-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle fished here this past week and caught plenty of 1- to 3-pound Mackinaws on his Double Flutter spoons at 70 to 80 feet on top of sandy ledges. Mathis cautioned that anglers who decide to drive to the lake on Pea Vine Ridge Road be prepared for snow and ice. The Mack bite should really pick up over the next couple of weeks as the bigger fish target kokanees.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Surface temp was 51-degrees on Sunday, so the spots should be moving toward the bank. Bass action is still good with most anglers picking up fish 3 to 4 1/2 pounds. No word on any trout action.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is at 79-percent capacity. North Shore Resort is sponsoring the “Camp Far West Lake Bass Fishing Tournament” on March 20. Pre-register by March 17 for $50/team or pay $60 at the event. Sign-ups are at 5:30 a.m. and the blast-off is at 6:00. The weigh-in will be at 2:00 p.m. A 70-percent cash pay-back and lots of merchandise prizes will be awarded to the top teams. There have been a lot of bass boats on the lake this past week. The bigger largemouths should be moving up to take advantage of the rising water level and the warmer daytime temps.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is now 16 feet from full. Lots of action this past weekend with plenty of fish caught out of the last trophy trout plant. Most of the rainbows are running 2 to 3 1/2 pounds and are hitting Power Bait for the shore anglers at the beach and the dam. Trollers are using Rapalas, flasher/worm combos. Bass and catfish are getting active, also.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 91-percent capacity. Boaters are still running to the upper end of the lake from Buck’s Beach to the inlets and catching small trout on flasher/worm combos. Not much is happening at the dam or the marina, according to Dillon Davis at Skippers Cove Marina.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is up 10 feet this past week to 41-percent capacity. With all the ramps open, boaters are able to launch at both ends of the lake to take advantage of the great bass and coho action. The Anglers’ Choice Pro-Am was won by Chris Zaldain with 27 pounds. The better fish in the event were caught on ripbaits. Coho are hitting all over the lake on worms, minnows and white spinners in the top 10 feet.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 80-percent capacity and scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week. One angler reported catching and releasing a 2-pound brown while fishing at the dam. Long Ravine Resort regular, Steve Carty, picked up two rainbows trolling a Rapala. Will Fish Tackle reported that the lake is a little muddy.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 88-percent capacity. The planted rainbows are starting to show up for shore anglers fishing off the points near the marina with Power Bait. As the water warms up, the smallmouth bass action is improving. Fish to 3 pounds are eating brown and green plastic worms and tubes.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 89-percent capacity. The road is a little slushy with some more snow that fell earlier this past week. 4-wheelers getting to the lake are picking up a few holdover trout. The DFG should plant as soon as the roads are cleared.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—Just not much happening here. No one has made any reports to Feather River Outfitters for the last two weeks.