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 shot of rain last week made for a good day or two on the water, according to guide Andy Martin, who put his clients on some fresh fish as well as downrunners. The river closes March 31, and a lot of the fish are currently on redds spawning.
COLUMBIA RIVER, Ore.—Interstate 5 seems to be the cut off for spring Chinook at this time, as most of the action is well below this part of the river—so far. Some kings on their way to the Willamette River are being caught just below the Multnomah Channel. Some anglers get into them while others don’t—but that’s springer fishing, said WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts.
EEL RIVER—Blown out and rain would have to hold off for the rest of the month for it to come back into fishing shape.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—Blown out now after the rain. It was only fishable three days last week, but those were very good fishing days with guide Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Outfitters catching bluebacks, adult fresh fish and downrunners while drifting roe. River blew out again on Friday and probably won’t be in shape up top for a week, but possibly by the weekend.
GARCIA RIVER—Blown out but was fishing good last week, with one to three steelies a day the average, a mix of fresh, downrunners and bluebacks. Expected to be back in shape by Wednesday.
GUALALA rivers—Flyfishermen were doing pretty good at the lower end of the river before it blew out from the rains. Driftboaters were getting four or five steelies a day, but you need a key to launch, and that costs $100 deposit and a fee of $300 .
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers—Blown out but should be back in shape by mid-week. Coastal rivers close to fishing March 31.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.—Only a single spring king salmon caught last week, but the run doesn’t really get going for another month or so. When it does, target the Birthday Hole, John’s Hole, Clay Banks, Elephant Rock, the Fair Hole and the Willows.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Ore.—A shot of water is coming out of Lost Creek Lake and that will allow driftboats another chance at the steelehead bfore they head upriver.
RUSSIAN RIVER—The rain they got was a lot more than predicted and it blew the river out again almost the same day it was becoming fishable. They got two inches, and “it’s a mess” according to Nick Wheeler of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. But with only 350 cfs coming out of the two dams, he thinks it could be in shape by the weekend. On March 31 the river closes to the use of bait, but fishing is still okay with a limit of two hatchery steelhead.
SMITH RIVER—The Cal-Ore derby was held over the weekend, during the big rain, and no reports were available at press time. Check in next week for the results.
UMPQUA, Main, Ore.—The river is expected to hit 10 feet in height, so bank anglers should have a nice shot at fishing those high water holes this week. Fish from the 9-mile area up to Cleveland Rapids, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service.
UMPQUA, South Fork, Ore.—Rising water here makes the Canyonville down to Riddle section the best place to fish. Last week during the very low water anglers on the beach at Stanton Park were using a bobber and jig in front of the launch area for their success.
UMPQUA, North Fork, Ore.—Still producing winter run steelhead, and the higher up you go the better the fishing. Guide Curtis Palmer said he and other guides have been catching nice numbers of hatchery fish. “The easiest run on the North is Colliding rivers boat ramp to the Gravel Bin–a 3-hour float,” Palmer said. “Although most people choose to go past the Gravel Bin and make a full day drift down to Whistler Bend Park.” He fished Gregg Egan and Mike McMullen of Medford and they did best after noon, finding some nice steelies.
VANDUZEN RIVER—The “Duzey” was fishing last week and two anglers said they caught three fish one day before it blew out again after the rain. This river has a late run, though, so expect some good action here when it comes back into shape, according to guide Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Outfitters.
WINCHESTER BAY, Ore.–Recent storm activity has held off any attempt at fishing from Jetties. Anglers have been focusing on the trio of Sturgeon, stripers and Spring Kings. Steelheaders on the North and main should see clear water as she drops begins to drop out, expect success on mostly Wild fish which are catch and release average chromer is between 12 to 15 pounds, 20 plus pound fish are not uncommon.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp—Water conditions are good from Iron Gate Dam to below the mouth of the Trinity River, with the lowest flows and clearest water occurring between Iron Gate Dam and Seiad Valley. However, fly fishermen have been doing well all the way down to Ti Bar on dark colored nymphs and egg patterns. Bait fishing has been good farther down toward and just below the mouth of the Trinity River. Fishing pressure is practically nil.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—The river was dropping and clearing rapidly throughout its length, and anglers were catching some fresh run adults plus downrunners to 10 pounds on plugs and roe. The Hoopa area was one of the better places to fish.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—The upper river down is in perfect shape, there have been practically no fishermen on the river, and so the few that are on the water have it—and a nice mix of fresh run mostly native fish and downrunners–practically all to themselves. Backtrolling Brad’s Wigglers and Hot Shots has been very effective, as has been drifting roe. Fly fishermen have been dead drifting nymphs like poxy back hare’s ears, copper John’s, and small egg patterns under indicators.
AMERICAN RIVER—There were a few diehards out on the river, mostly in Nimbus Basin and below the hatchery, but, most fish being caught were spawners or post spawners. The spot below the hatchery where anglers have been concentrating is a hatchery outfall, and really should be be put off-limits, because steelies are artificially concentrated there, leading to snagging, either blatant or “flossing” whereby a long leader is dragged through fishes’ mouths and the hook with just a small bead or bit of yarn to make it appear legal, hooks the fish on the outside of the mouth. Even if the steelhead is released, it’s really unethical, if not illegal, and puts a great deal of stress on the fish. Flows have been reduced to 1,100 cfs.
FEATHER RIVER, Low Flow Section—Steelhead fishing perked up again. Downsize your gear. Use lighter lines, no more than 6-pound test fluorocarbon leader, and half a nightcrawler. Hatches are increasing as the weather and water warms, so fly fishing should be coming on strong.
FEATHER RIVER, Shanghai Bend—Striped bass fishing has become good all the way to Verona at the mouth. Swimbaits and plugs have been effective, but so has bait. Particularly minnows.
FOLSOM LAKE—Now that the weather seems to be stabilizing to sunny days, bass are gearing up big time for spring spawning season. That means fishing the shallows, especially the backs of coves where water is coming in. The reaction bite hasn’t taken off yet, but it soon will. In the meantime, drop-shot and throw dark-colored jigs. Trout and king salmon anglers continued to do well trolling from a few feet down to 30 feet. Speedy Shiners, Yo-Zuri Pin Minnows, and Rapalas in the hot steel pattern continued to produce, but so are Needlefish and nightcrawlers behind flashers. The best bite has been from the dam to Granite Bay.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—Lots of nice trout were caught during the Rancho Seco Trout Derby last weekend, including one that weighed 7.5 pounds. Both shore fishermen and boaters (no gasoline powered engines are allowed) did well with boaters having the advantage of being able easily move to find the fish. Bankies seemed to do best at the south end of the lake. Use Power Bait, Power Eggs, and Power Worms from shore, and woolly buggers, Power Worms, Kastmasters, Needlefish from pontoon boats, kayaks, float tubes, and canoes.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The river dropped back close to normal height for this time of year, was clearing nicely, and reports of improving striped bass fishing increasing. Striped bass reports were coming from the mouth of Cache Slough to Verona and points north. Sturgeon fishing continued to be good, although anglers will soon be switching their focus to stripers. Lisbon Slough, west of the airport, and Verona were some of the better spots. The challenge has been to find an open spot to fish where sturgeon are concentrated, such as behind wing dams.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing—There are still plenty of sturgeon being caught, but more and more stripers are being reported all the way to Colusa, so much of the fishing pressure will be shifting. While catches of schoolie-sized stripers are being mostly made on bait, a few anglers have been throwing swimbaits and plugs toward shore with some success. The boat ramp at Tisdale has finally reopened.
BERKELEY—Captain Bob Monckton on Reel-lentless ran his first halibut trolling trip and scored four keeper halibut to 11 pounds. The action came scattered from Paradise Cay to Oyster Point. Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker is heading here from Martinez for the salmon opener, then will be looking to live bait halibut and striped bass if the salmon doesn’t warrant attention. The California Dawn is also heading here with the same plan in mind. No word if the year-round fleet has been running any crab or sturgeon trips. With halibut starting to show in South Bay, they may start offering halibut trolling trips prior to the salmon season.
BODEGA BAY— The fat lady squid was wailing loud here on Saturday when Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler had his second skunk of the season while targeting Humboldt squid. It’s over until next October or November for the Humboldts, but Powers is looking at the April 3 salmon opener as the next opportunity to get on some fish. After that, it’s the June opener for rockfish.
CROCKETT— Heading for San Pablo Bay for two trips, Captain Mike Shimel on the Morning Star found good action with surprisingly strong striped bass counts, several shaker sturgeon and one keeper sturgeon, along with a handful of flounder. The action came between the Pumphouse and China Camp, on ghost and grass shrimp.
EMERYVILLE—No more sturgeon trips, but the Tigerfish will run the first halibut trolling trip this weekend. Craig Stone at the landing said other boats will follow if angler interest is there, then they’ll be targeting salmon when the season opens. “We’ll stick with salmon and halibut trolling until our transition into the live bait season sometime in April,” said Stone.
EUREKA—Rough ocean conditions continued to hamper saltwater action, and more is forecasted for this week. The next window of calm seas is coming at the end of the week, so maybe the weekend will offer a chance for surfperch on the beaches.
FORT BRAGG—Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar also missed the squid, but his crab pots produced 93 Dungeness on Sunday’s combo trip. He said the ocean looked excellent for salmon, with plenty of muirs diving for bait, and water temperatures at 52.5 degrees. He’s running his first abalone and crab combo on April 1, then will switch to salmon as long as the season lasts.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat has given up on the squid, but is still running crab only trips with good results. “The crab numbers have fallen, but we’re still getting limits every trip,” said Mattusch. He said conditions outside of Half Moon Bay aren’t great for salmon, but the forecasted north winds and Terrafin readings look very good for the coming weeks.
MARTINEZ—Captain Jim Smith’s anglers on the Happy Hooker scored one keeper sturgeon on Saturday’s trip, along with a few shaker sturgeon. Captain Steve Talmadge on Flash Fishing had a slow day on Saturday, but his group did manage one small striper.
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO BAY—John Akina at Oyster Point Bait and Tackle reported good jacksmelt action all week long for anglers fishing from the pier. A few surfperch also showing, mostly blacks and silvers. The occasional leopard shark also flopped. Boaters found some halibut on Sunday while trolling off of Oyster Point. Earlier in the week, weather kept most boaters off the water.
BOCA LAKE—Ice is getting soft around the edges and if the warm weather that is forecast for the rest of this week prevails, the ice fishing season may be over. Anglers that got out this past week caught plenty of rainbows on Power Bait and a 3 1/2-pound brown was caught on a nightcrawler. Ice fishing after this week should be considered “RISKY”!!!
CAPLES LAKE—Blowing snow over the later part of this past week kept most people off the lake. Some people were out on Sunday catching fish at the dam and spillway on Power Bait and worms.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Water is clear and flowing at late-June levels. Anglers are parked at Hangman’s Bridge most days, so fishing must be good enough to attract regular traffic.
DAVIS LAKE—Trout action is still very good. Anglers have started moving into shallower water at Honker and Coot. Anglers need to park along Grizzly Road and have snow shoes to walk the 200 to 300 yards to the ice. Fish in 10 to 20 feet of water with Power Bait and nightcrawlers suspended a foot off the bottom. The fish have been running 2 to 4 pounds. A cold snap this past week thickened the ice back up to 12 to 18 inches, but the warm spell forecast for the rest of this week may change all of that.
DONNER LAKE—Rainbows, running 14 to 16 inches, are hitting Power Bait and worms off the west end beach. Macks, two to three pounds, are being caught by shore casters using Kastmasters, CD Rapalas, or lake caught minnows. The same west end beach or anywhere that anglers can get to the water’s edge can produce Macks, especially very early in the morning.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The cold snap this past week firmed up the ice but the warm weather forecast for the rest of this week may soften it up again. Nice rainbows in limit numbers are hitting nightcrawlers 5 to 10 feet off the bottom near the dam. There is some open water near the Frenchman boat ramp where the fish will readily hit a spinner thrown onto the ice and pulled into the water.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—The big Alpine County plant was made two weeks ago and there are plenty of fish for anglers able to get to the lake on the back road. Access from Hwy 89 is still impassible.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Shore anglers are getting in on a good Mackinaw bite by walking past the fences by the parking area at the second dam and casting 1/4- and 1/2-ounce Kastmaster spoons from the bank. Some fish up to 5 pounds were caught this past week according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle.
LAKE TAHOE—The best bite is from one-half hour before to one-half hour after sunrise or from noon to 4:30 p.m. according to Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing. The Macks are bunched up from 160 to 220 feet deep and hitting spoons and Rapalas worked repeatedly through the schools to provoke bites. The fish are running from 1 to 7 pounds, with limits of 4 to 7 pounders being kept on most trips.
PROSSER LAKE—Some open water is forming at the inlet of Prosser Creek and fish are flocking to this area. Anything that hits the water is likely to be eaten, use a spoon or a spinner. Watch for soft ice around the edges of the lake. The warm weather forecast for the rest of this week could mean the end of the ice fishing season.
PYRAMID LAKE—The 6 th Annual Ken Hembree Hook, Line, and Sinker Derby was won by Larry Draper with a 13-pound, 1.6-ounce cutthroat. Draper caught the fish while fly casting at the South Nets. Fishing was good for big fish with second and third both taken by 12 pounders, the rest of the Top 10 all over 10 pounds, and the rest of the Top 20 all over 7 pounds. Both shore anglers and boaters were well represented in the Top 20 which received $18,700 in cash and merchandise.
RED LAKE—Blowing snow over most of the later part of last week kept anglers out of this area. The warm weather forecast for the rest of this week should provide perfect conditions for ice fishing at the dam with worms for some nice brookies.
SILVER LAKE—Kelly Keith from Caples Lake Resort skied the lake this past week and found a few parties ice fishing with poor success. The gap between ice and water appears to be gone, so the ice should to be safe, according to Keith.
TOPAZ LAKE—A fishing club from the Auburn area, the Rat Pak, was having their annual fishing derby and the biggest fish so far was a 2 1/4 pounder. Shore anglers and trollers were doing much better with the warmer weather. Chuck Mancini of Elk Grove caught a nice limit trolling Dick Nite spoons. Big fish of the week, a 3-pound, 3-ounce rainbow, was caught by 83-year old Joe Buffo of Gardnerville on a CD Rapala.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Snow over the weekend and very cold night’s has made the fishing a bit slower. Anglers need to be sure to have a current fishing license and barbless hooks while fishing the main river or the Little Truckee. The local game warden has been checking everyone and writing a lot of citations. Remember, catch-and-release only!!
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—Too much snow this past week to safely get to the lake.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Plastic worms either shaken or drop-shot were the most consistent producers this past week. The one downside was the super clear water. In most areas you can see the bottom, even in 6 feet of water, and that’s not an ideal condition for fishermen. Look for conditions to begin to improve though and larger fish to be caught as the pre-spawn staging has started. The crappie bite continues to be sporadic at best, but the catfishing has improved for anglers casting nightcrawlers back in the now flooded tule.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Work the deeper points off the coves for bass as the fish are starting to stage for their spawn. Drop-shot gear will be one way to go now; although there are a few jig and swim bait fish to be had as well. Trout and king salmon trollers are starting to take to the waters again, working in 30 feet and about 10 feet down.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—This lake should be on your “to do” list, as there’s been plenty of trout plants here. Trollers have been finding the better fish. The bass bite should also start to pick up along the Highway 20 shoreline.
INDIAN VALLEY RESERVIOR—Many of the local lake have been overlooked in recent years due to low water levels but all that has changed. Bass fishing as well as catfishing should be excellent here with all the recently added rainfall waters. Launching is possible too, but the roads need some work.
LAKE SONOMA—Boat traffic heading up into the Cherry Creek and other arms up there, has increased the bass fishing pressure as they move into their pre-spawning stage. Senkos and spinner baits will be good choices to start.
LAKE ALMANOR—When weather and boating pressure allows, the Canyon Dam was a good place to start for trollers with streamer flies in the top 10 feet. The jetties and the Big Springs areas were also good places to try as fish are scattered. It won’t be too long until the bass get going as well. Just need the waters to warm up some.
BAUM LAKE—Trout sizes are inches up, with a few more larger fish being taken. The lake is still fishing well, with lots of fish being fooled. Reports were mostly of 10-plus-inch browns. Fly fishermen still did well, with zebra midges being the favorite in size 20 and 22. Woolly buggers in black or olive also produced fish. Lure fishermen are still enjoying their “newly” discovered “trout magnets” and these were definitely catching fish, the best color is still chartreuse. The rest of the fishermen were using small nightcrawlers for their fish.
BRITTON LAKE–Watch for crappie bite to start with warmer weather.
KESWICK RESERVIOR–The upper sections are clear and fishing well with streamers and nymphs right now. This is a great springtime option, especially when the Sac is blown out. Keswick fishes the same all year unless the water is dirty from recent storms. The best way to fish it is from a jet boat, nymphing the seams and drop-offs, and stripping streamers on sinking lines. Depth is the key to success here. Once you find the right depth that the fish are feeding at, success is likely.
IRON CANYON—According to The Fly Shop in Redding, often the best 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—You’ll find good nymphing in the pocket waters with some dry fly action midday on warm days in caddis and March browns. The Pit can be a favorite early-season getaway as it is open year round (Pit 3-4-5) and not as impacted by runoff as other regional streams. 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—Water temperatures are still holding at an average of 49 degrees. It should be inching up to 50 and higher soon and then the spotted bass bite will really take off. The lake is already showing signs of improving. Worms worked best although a jig bite is starting to develop, and there’s also a rip bit in a small, limited window. The main body, near the dam, and the lower McCloud arm were good for an ever increasingly good trout bite for trollers pulling Shad Raps. Apexs, and Cripplures in the top 10 feet. Salmon are also starting to hit mooched anchovy tails in the Dry Creek arm and Packer’s Bay.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 66-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported that at least 10 bass boats were on the lake every day fishing for the big spots that have attracted so much attention. One employee testing a boat on the lake said that most of the boats were fishing the points on the main body and near the dam with jerkbaits and swimbaits.
CAMP FAR WEST—Lots of bass anglers were hitting the water pre-fishing for the North Shore Resort tournament scheduled for March 20. Sign-ups are at 5:30, with 6 a.m. blast off and 2 p.m. weigh-in. Entry fee is $60/team with a 70-percent payback. Boaters have been catching two to four fish each with some weighing three to four pounds.
COLLINS LAKE—Heavy planting schedule has turned the trout fishing on big-time. Lots of 3 to 4 1/2 pounders are being caught by trollers and shore anglers with most fish averaging two pounds. Shore anglers report good action at the dam, the swim beach and in front of the campgrounds on Power Bait, worms, and salmon eggs. Trollers are doing best at the dam with Rapalas, Cripplures, Kastmasters, and flasher or dodger/worm combos. The biggest trout caught this past week, a 4 1/2 pounder, was taken trolling a dodger/worm near the campgrounds. Weekly plants will continue through May with some weeks seeing two or more plants.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is down again this week to 90-percent capacity. Most anglers are still heading up above Buck’s Beach to the inlets to troll for small browns and rainbows. Some rainbows are starting to show in the marina for houseboaters using Power Bait and worms.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 42-percent capacity, but still down 170 feet. Bass and coho action is still red-hot and should only get better as spring arrives. The warm weather forecast for the rest of this week should bring the spots up on the banks to start searching for nesting sites. Worms, jigs and tubes in crawdad colors are working well in the top 15 feet. Coho action was reported to be good in the main body and the North Fork. One family caught 23 coho, 13 to 14 inches, trolling Sling Blade/worm or minnow combos at 15 to 20 feet.
ROLLINS LAKE–Lake level is way up and the water is still a little muddy. There was a report of a big brown trout, a 10 pounder, caught by a troller this past week. WON is trying to get verification and a picture from Long Ravine Resort. The regular DFG trout plants are paying off as shore anglers are picking up plenty of rainbows off the points with Power Bait and worms.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week. Planters from the first plant two weeks ago have been providing some good action for shore anglers fishing near the boat ramp with Power Bait and worms. Smallmouth bass have become increasing more active as spring gets closer. Fish to three pounds have been hitting worms, jigs, and jerkbaits on rocky banks.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the roads to the lake were pretty clear and that a 2-wheel drive truck could pull a boat to the ramp. Some anglers have been picking up a few holdover trout, but the DFG really needs to get with it and start planting all the lakes at the lower elevations. Most roads should be completely clear after this week, which is forecast to warm and sunny.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—Some steelhead were caught this past week at Wilbur Road. Frank Goodman picked up a 3 1/2 and a 4 pounder on Power Bait and nightcrawlers. The bass are showing signs of activity. As the water warms up, look for largemouths in the backs of the coves near the tule banks.