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 curtain is dropping, and March marks the seasons end for the Chetco River and with it usually comes a good shot of bluebacks. Has not been a stellar season, according to some, although there have been good time periods. Most are now heading towards the Rogue for the spring king salmon run. The few anglers still fishing here are finding some downrunners and bluebacks.
EEL RIVER—Running a lot of water and high, but the color was actually coming into shape, according to guide Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Outfitters. He said the main will be holding a bigger number of fish, both fresh, downrunners and bluebacks. A few guys were even going to try it Monday.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—The river has been fishing all week long, and boaters are averaging three to five steelhead a boat, a mix of fresh bluebacks, downrunners and a very few fresh fish. Fishable from top to bottom, and the rain on Sunday wasn’t expected to do much damage. Drifting roe is the way to go. Nimitz fished it Thursday from Myers Flat to the forks and they caught five steelies, seeing only three other boats, and they did well, too.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—Those with pontoon boats floating the top of the Gualala River were finding nice pockets of steelhead and doing well on them, but it’s very tough access. Both rivers close March 31.
NAVARRO, NOYO rivers—Running low and clear and no reports on the fishing. Set to close on March 31.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.—Spring king season is underway, but currently rated slow to fair, but improving each day. Look towards early April for it to become consistent. Some anchored up anglers are finding the occasional chromer.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass—Winter steelhead are still bending rods up here, but the river is low and continues to clear.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Steve Jackson, owner of Kings Sport and tackle, said the river was flowing at 3000 cfs at Guerneville on Friday and blown out, but by Sunday it had dropped to 1700 cfs and was fishable—a “nice green color”, according to Jackson. Anglers were out, but no reports as of press time. The hatchery got 200 fresh new fish last week, so things are looking good for anglers this week. The use of bait ends on March 31, but the river remains open to fishing with artificial lures.
SMITH RIVER—Fishing on the Smith River has been fair, according to guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. Everybody is gone and the river is void of fishermen. It is a downrunner here and a downrunner there. Desautel fished twice this past week, one day they got three and the next two, including a nice 13-pound hatchery buck. The water is low and clear and the fish are sitting in the one-shot slots. Last weekend was the Oakland Raider Derby which had pretty good results considering the horrible conditions. The Smith came up four feet and the Chetco came up five feet on the first day The winning teams were from Mondavi Winery and Willie Boats and they were fishing with Gary Early and John Klar. There were a total of 38 fish caught between 12 teams and every fish was released.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Ore.–Guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service said this river appears to be the most consistently productive in the state. The last of the winter steelhead are passing over the Winchester Dam at an average of a couple hundred fish a day. He expects the river to fish well into the second week of April. When the river becomes this full of fresh steelhead, just about any good offering will produce a fish. He said more fish are spawning, so well-cured roe and a Fish Pill or Puffball while sidedrifting is best.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Ore.–Darryl Grove and Larry Mercer of River Wolf boats fished most of the day Thursday after launching the boat in downtown Roseburg. They landed six of the seven steelhead they hooked up. Darryl said half of there fish were post-spawn
VANDUZEN RIVER—No direct reports, but should have been in shape and fishing this past week.
BENICIA—Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait reported much improved action with some big stripers caught at Middle Grounds on live bait and bullheads. The shoreline striper action has also increased for anglers using anchovies, although most of the bass are small keepers. Sturgeon also started showing near Middle Grounds in deeper water, and two keeper were weighed, one from the Glomar and one from the Mothball Fleet.
BERKELEY—Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker has one more weekend in Martinez before heading here to start his spring/summer season targeting salmon, halibut and striped bass, and just about anything else that swims via live bait potluck trips.
BODEGA BAY— The harbor has been very quiet since squid left town. Not much on the horizon here until salmon opens.
CROCKETT—Captain Mike Shimel had a good couple of trips on the weekend on the Morning Star, finding a total of four keeper sturgeon, some keeper stripers, flounder and some shaker action as well. Most of the action came from the far northwest corner of San Pablo Bay on grass shrimp. One of the stripers went 12.5 pounds, and the biggest sturgeon measured 58 inches.
EMERYVILLE—The Tigerfish ran the landing’s first halibut trolling trip, finding four keepers to 12 pounds. The boat started on the south side off of Oyster Point, then found most of the fish between Paradise and Southampton. “We’ll be scheduling halibut trips regularly until salmon opens,” said Craig Stone at the landing.
EUREKA—Ben Williams at the Pro Sport Center said the calm seas triggered a surfperch explosion for anglers fishing at the docks by the PG&E station, at Elk River Beach and on the outside at Centerville Beach and the mouth of the Eel River. Small raw shrimp from the grocery store has been top bait. Night fish should be running also, but he hasn’t had any reports yet.
FORT BRAGG—The landing has been very quiet since the squid evaporated, but Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar is prepping for the April 1 abalone opener as well as the April 3 salmon opener.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat continued to run crab trips finding limits although the numbers have dropped off some.
MARTINEZ—Captain Steve Talmadge on Flash Fishing reported two days fishing with good action, and while Friday’s trip didn’t produce any keeper sturgeon, his anglers released four shakers, and boxed two quality bass to 12 pounds. On Saturday, anglers fishing on Flash during the Deaf Sturgeon Challenge found two keeper sturgeon to 53 inches. “My crew took some of the money, congratulations!” said Talmadge.
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO BAY—John Akina at Oyster Point Bait and Tackle reported good action on halibut with five fish weighed on Sunday, and six on Saturday. Most anglers used herring or anchovies, some with straight bait, some behind dodgers, at 25 feet. “We had three stripers from the pier last night, all keepers,” said Akina. Also-rans on the pier were jacksmelt and perch.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen—Hardly anyone is fishing down here despite good river conditions, but the few who are, find some pretty decent halfpounder fishing. Nothing fantastic, and no adults at all, but they are catching fish, according to guide Rich Mossholder of Rivers West Guide Service. Look for springer salmon to begin the end of April.
KLAMATH RIVER, upper—Scott Cauldwell of SC Guide Service said the river has been slow fishing. Flows are up and cold due to snowmelt and rain. Weather has been going from 30 to 70 degrees, sunny one day and windy and rainy the next.
TRINITY RIVER, Lewiston—Excellent weather earlier in the week, with some rain sweeping through over the weekend, and the afternoon hatch has been “the best part” according to guide Steve Huber. All their fish were taking topwater flies in the p.m., and they’re getting one to three steelies per trip. Mostly downrunners. Huber will be switching gears and heading to the Sacramento River for trout and stripers soon.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Brett Brady at Bare Bones Guide Service hit the lake this past week and landed 20 rainbows to 17 inches while trolling up in the North Fork arm. The fish were more active from 9 a.m. to noon with the surface temp running 48 to 50 degrees. Troll dodgers and nightcrawlers or lures 15 to 20 feet deep 100 feet behind the boat. There were some schools of small kokanee, 4 to 6 inches, seen on the meter and they were hitting the baits but not getting hooked due to their size. The bass bite is wide open as the spots move into shallow water more frequently to prepare for the spawn.
CAMP FAR WEST—The top teams in the North Shore Resort bass tournament this past weekend all weighed in around 11 pounds. The water is rising onto the grassy banks triggering a good spinnerbait bite. Big fish for the event was a 3.6 pounder.
COLLINS LAKE—The first of 12 pens of 3- to 4-pound rainbows was released this past week and the lake received another trophy plant. Trout action is wide open for trollers and shore anglers with fish 8 1/2 to 9 pounds weighed in recently. Trophy plants and pen releases will continue weekly until late April or May. Bass action is picking up as the water warms and the bass begin to move up to the banks to spawn. Special junior season turkey hunter, Robert McCrary of Fairfield, killed his bird in the Daugherty Hills Wldlife Area adjacent to the lake this past Saturday.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 91-percent capacity. The water is getting clearer and trout action is picking up in the marina for trollers. One boat picked up five rainbows, 14 to 16 inches, in the marina on flasher/worm combos. Trollers are still working the upper lake from Buck’s Beach to the inlets for a mix of browns and rainbows.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is up to 43-percent capacity. Bass and coho action is still steady as the lake rises and the water warms up. The bass are in the top 20 feet and hitting Senkos and other plastics. The spots are running 1 1/2 to 3 3/4 pounds. Coho, 13 to 14 inches, are hitting minnows, nightcrawlers and Sling Blade combos all over the lake.
ROLLINS LAKE—The DFG has been making regular plants the last few weeks and shore anglers and trollers are catching lots of rainbows.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—This lake was planted last week by the DFG. The plant included mostly 12 to 14 inchers with some fish to 24 inches. Shore anglers are limiting out in short order with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, Panther Martin spinners and Kastmaster spoons. Trollers are using flasher/worm combos and Rapalas for their share of the planters near the marina and the dam.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The lake FINALLY received its first plant by the DFG. The roads and lake accesses are clear due to all the warm weather seen this past week and it’s finally time to plan a visit.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The warm weather has cleared the road to the lake and into the parking area and boat ramp. Some anglers are catching some holdover trout and with DFG beginning to plant other lakes in the area, hopefully this place will be next on the list.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—Bass action has kicked into high gear with the high lake levels and warmer water temps. The fish are hitting jigs and Senkos along the tule banks in the backs of the coves.
BOCA LAKE—Ice fishing is DONE for the season. The lake is about half open and now anglers are just shore fishing off the dam and the inlet with salmon eggs and worms.
CAPLES LAKE—There’s still one to four feet of snow to dig through to get to the ice. 50 anglers were on the lake this last weekend, and most of them were at the dam and spillway catching limits of pan-sized rainbows and browns on Power Bait and worms.
CARSON RIVER (East)—All reports coming into the Carson River Resort indicate that the water is too cold for decent fishing. The warm weather has started some snowmelt and the flows are up.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 51-percent capacity. Ed Dillard and friends tried the area at the boat ramp at Honker and caught some 1 1/2 to 2 pounders on Power Bait through 18 inches of ice. The bite has been better earlier in the morning. Snowmobilers are getting more cautious about being out on the main body of the lake due to some soft spots.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is pretty much ice-free, but too low to launch a big boat. Boats under 16 feet can probably be launched without too much trouble but there’s no dock. Shore anglers are doing pretty well on rainbows and a few smaller Macks off the west end beaches on Power Bait, worms and salmon eggs.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is up to 40-percent capacity. The ice is still thick with no apparent cracks. The only open water is at Spring Creek and only a very little at that. Fishing is still good at the dam where the access is very good. To get past the dam, 4-wheel drive is recommended. Rainbows are eating Power Bait and Crystal Bullet jigs.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—This lake was finally planted by the DFG this last week. Shore anglers were fishing with inflated nightcrawlers at the dam and catching some browns up to 3 1/2 pounds this past Saturday, according to Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service. Dale Daneman was trolling brown Sep’s grub here on a side planer and caught 26 rainbows, 12 to 16 inches, in 6 hours. The best bite was mid-day.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—The road from Hwy 89 is open so now the lake can be reached easily from either end. The trophy trout plant of a couple of weeks back paid off for one angler who caught an 8 1/2 pounder while fishing off the shore with Power Bait. The west end of the lake produced limits of 2 1/2 to 4 pounders for locals throwing small Rapalas, according to Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The DFG planters are having the biggest impact on the anglers coming to the lake. The back side of the lake where the water is running in is the best area for shore fishermen using Power Bait. The rainbows are running 10 to 14 inches. A couple of 20-inch Mackinaws were checked in at Sly Park Resort this past week.
LAKE TAHOE—Fishing is still good on the north end from Tahoe City to Crystal Bay Point. Both Mickey Daniels and Chuck Self caught limits over the weekend working Sling Blades and minnows, spoons and plugs from 100 to 300 feet deep. The keepers are running 3 to 7 pounds with smaller fish being tagged and/or released. The morning bite is best.
PROSSER LAKE—Lots of open water here, so ice fishing is done for the season. Shore anglers are doing well at the dam on Power Bait Nightcrawlers and salmon eggs.
PYRAMID LAKE—Crosby’s Lodge reports that fishing is best in March and April and two fish weighed in this past week seemed to confirm this. 13 3/4- and 11 3/4-pound cutthroats were weighed in by fly fishermen. The South Nets and Indian Head were mentioned as good places to try for the shallower fish. Trollers have been doing pretty well on Flatfish and Apex. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters caught 18 fish on Sunday with one over 24 inches. He was using a frog Flatfish.
RED LAKE—The ice is turning a little too blue for some fishermen and Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station warned that the ice may break this week if it stays warm and windy. Use EXTREME CAUTION if contemplating a trip here.
SILVER LAKE—Two Carson City regulars had a banner day this past week landing a 22 1/2-pound Mackinaw through 14 inches of ice. The big fish was photographed and released along with an 8 pounder and a 3 pounder. All the fish were caught on worms.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—A snowmobiler towed a small aluminum boat to the lake this past week and caught a 23-pound Mackinaw. Lots of open water here but a snowmobile is the only way to get here for awhile.
TOPAZ LAKE—The spring-like weather brought out plenty of fishermen over this past weekend and some nice limits were checked in at Topaz Landing Marina. Carl Hendshot of Tracy picked up a limit topped by a 2 1/4 pounder trolling a No. 5 CD Rapala on two colors of leadcore. Shore anglers have been doing best on the east side and south end using Power Bait.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Fly fishermen are doing well on rainbows, 15 to 20 inches, and browns, 22 to 23 inches, on BWO’s, small black stones, midges and streamers. Mid-day is best after the water has had a chance to warm up a bit.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—This lake was finally planted by the DFG this past week. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle was guiding here all this past week and client Jim Erskine of Pollack Pines landed a 17-pound Mackinaw. They were trolling 80 feet deep over the top of sandy ledges with his Double Flutter spoons mid-day, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mathis said they lost another big fish that they couldn’t turn that he estimated was over 20 pounds. Debris is floating on the surface so boaters need to use caution.
AMERICAN RIVER—Slow fishing for everything. Not much action on the steelhead, although dedicated anglers can still get one if they put in the time and work. Nothing on stripers until you get down to the mouth, where a few schoolie male stripers finally began showing in the Sacramento on Thursday of this past week.
FEATHER RIVER—Boaters are finding a few catch-and-release local stripers throwing plugs down near Bear River, but nothing big going on here, and no steelhead in the upper part of the river to speak of.
FOLSOM LAKE—Ongoing action on king salmon and rainbow trout, about a 50/50 split between the two, and guide Jerry Lampkin of T.N.G. Motorsports Guide Service put his clients onto 16 nice fish on Friday, caught at 20 feet on a rainbow Speedy Shiner and some on Rapalas. Troll at 3 mph, unless you use Sling Blades and hoochies, then slow to 1.5 mph. Boaters beware around the wind sock, there’s a safety buoy about two feet under the surface. Dennis Pfanner of Sacramento Pro Tackle confirmed the report, adding that bassers should use minnows or crawdad, or shad-patterned jigs and spoon around drop-offs and point.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—A huge crowd was out there this past weekend working over the leftover trout, and those from a recent plant. “Some are catching them and some are not” was the report. Usually those in non-motorized floating devices are doing best, because they can cover more of the lake.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The big news is that the first of the spring striper run finally showed up here, smaller schoolie males that began picking up ghost shrimp, bloodworms and pileworms intended for sturgeon. The first fish were caught Thursday and Friday, right on schedule. Look for the main run to start the first part of April. Sturgeon action is farther upriver, but if you want catfish, try the Port of Sacramento.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing—Dennis Pfanner of Sac. Pro Tackle said that sturgeon action remains good up here, from about here up to Meridian, including spots like El Dorado Bend, China Bend and Tisdale. Of course, pileworms, bloodworms, or ghost shrimp are the best bet. Bob Bradbury of Johnson’s Bait and Tackle confirmed the report and said they weighed one in on Saturday and two on Sunday, from Meridian, Colusa and Tisdale Weir. No stripers here at all yet.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding/Red Bluff—The rainbow trout bite here is “on fire” said Jeremiah Houle of The Fly Shop in Redding. “There’s a lot of caddis starting”, he said. Go for birdnest, olive fox pupae, zug bugs, poxy back pmds, micro may flies in brown or black and the “usual” cheesebrain egg. He said the regular angler would get half a dozen wild rainbows a day, while one guide put his two guys on 80 hookups in one boat! Most guides are getting 20 to 30 fish a day. Bigger fish coming from the Posse Grounds to Bonneview, bigger numbers and smaller fish from Benneview all the down to the Barge Hole. The river is flowing at 3250 and clarity is perfect.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Upper—Night time temperatures haven’t been freezing so there’s snowmelt coming into the river, bringing it up and keeping it cold. Fishing has been “okay” but closer to “fair”, but it’s only seeing minimal fishing pressure.
YUBA RIVER—One report from guide Dave Barbieri, provided by Johnson’s Bait & Tackle, was that the fly fishing action was great above the Park’s Bar Bridge, where both rainbows and halfpounder steelies to two pounds were being caught on March browns in good numbers.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Most anglers were found at the north end fishing the tules with worms, jigs, ripbaits, swimbaits, and a few crankbaits. Overall, the fishing has still not hit its stride, but all that can change quickly now that the waters are getting warmer. When it does both the bass and anglers will spread out. Best colors for baits include green pumpkin and watermelon variations, purple and browns, and craw colors. Water color varies around the lake with some areas having a visibility of a foot or so to other areas having at least seven feet of clear water. The surface temperature is running about 57 to 58 degrees in the afternoon and 52 to 53 in the morning.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The koke season has begun, and with some larger than usual fish, taken from 20 to 30 feet down, from Skier’s Cove to the Big Island on the main lake. Many setups produced limits of kokes up to 17.5 inches (early for the season) but corn with herring or prawn scents from Pro-Cure and a speed of 1.5 to 1.7 on the GPS were common denominators. The salmon are also larger than usual for this early, measuring from 14 to 22 inches long. Bass are moving up with the nice warm weather, too. There are some smaller bucks running the banks that will eat rip baits like Lucky Craft Pointer 78s. To target the bigger females, work jigs and drop-shot gear 10-20 feet off main lake points. These are spawner females though, so put them back when you can.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—The bass bite is starting to pick up along the Highway 20 shoreline now with warmer waters, but it is the trout most are targeting. The lake was stocked with trout last week and the fishing pressure has been very low.
INDIAN VALLEY RESERVIOR—Bass fishing as well as catfishing should be excellent here with all the recently added rainfall waters and the waters are clearing now. The dam area has always been a favorite area to target them both. A few holdover trout have also been taken
LAKE SONOMA—The waters have cleared but the algae blooms have started. Robo Worms and Carolina-rigged worms have been producing.
LAKE ALMANOR—The fish have scattered and are no longer all by the dam but with waters improving, so is the fishing, although still not consistent. The fish are still feeding on the pond smelt but it’s an early bite and can shut down once the sun hits the water. Add some fog or clouds and the bite will hold a little longer. Sunny days and light winds should keep the warming trend going. The mornings are still pretty chilly but the ramps and roads are dry and open.
BAUM LAKE— Woolly buggers, scuds, micro mayflies, copper Johns and pheasant tails were doing best for fly fishermen. Bait fishermen did well on nightcrawlers and garlic flavored marshmallows. Lure fishermen continue to do well with Trout Magnets and Kastmasters. Lots of browns in the 17-inch range are coming in now, with some fishermen finding limits in three hours.
BRITTON LAKE–Watch for crappie bite to start with warmer weather.
KESWICK RESERVOIR—This lake 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 where fish are feeding, success is likely.
IRON CANYON—You can work this lake one of two ways, with an 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 larger fish usually this method.
PIT RIVER—The pocket waters can provide some good dry fly action midday on warm days in caddis and March browns. 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 are coming in.
LAKE SHASTA—The McCloud arm was good for brown trout and salmon. Top lining and also fishing 5 to 25 feet down with the downriggers with UV shad patterned Cripplures, a shad patterned Glo Cripplure with UV Sling blades, a Matrix Kazi Mino in blue, as well as watermelon and silver/black Apex’s. Salmon were marked from 90 to 150 feet, with the better bite on a Sling Blade Wiggle hoochie in white, or a shad patterned Cripplure at 120 feet. Bass fishing was solid finding spots on a mixed bag of drop-shot gear, jigs, Senko’s and the occasional rip bait. The main lake body continues to be the best producer.
WHISKEYTOWN RESERVOIR—Although still early, a few kokes from 11 to 13.5 inches were taken by the 295 Bridge with pink Apex behind a UV Sling Blade or a UV pink Apex behind the UV Sling Blade. The good news was they were all clean, healthy and free of copepods.