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 kings are winding down and spawning in the upper river, but the lower river is still holding fresher hawg salmon, while steelhead are moving into the system in ever greater numbers. Plunkers in the lower end are getting their share of steelhead, and the waters in the upper end are “Kenai green”, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts. Some beautiful kings are still being caught, along with some steelhead, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

EEL RIVER-Has been blown out since the season began.

EEL RIVER, South Fork-According to Darren Brown of Brown’s Sporting Goods in Garberville, the river was blown out on Friday and just turning fishable above Benbow on Saturday. As of our call at 2 p.m. on Sunday the river was fishable down to Miranda, where it was “kind of pea soup green”. The river was kicking out some big kings and some steelies earlier in the week (catch-and-release, of course). A 15-pound steelhead was caught Wednesday. Corkies and roe are working for the steelhead, and Little Cleos and Wiggle Warts for the salmon. The kings are strung out in pods, and it’s still early for the best steelheading. Squawfish are a major problem here for survival of the smolts, but since bait was outlawed on the river, they no longer hold the summer squawfish clean-out fishing derby, much to the detriment of the salmon and steelhead. Outlawing bait here was as stupid as closing the river to the take of salmon and steelhead.

ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Port Orford, Ore.–The weekend after Thanksgiving Day was one to remember for those who were fishing these two rivers, according to Curtis Palmer. Reports came in from guides and sportsman both, bragging of the wonderful catches that everyone on the rivers were having. The middle of the week had anglers resting up while waiting for the high waters to lower after the most recent storm, but by Friday it was back to fabulous fishing again in sunny weather. Thanksgiving usually marks the peak of the Chinook runs on these rivers. It seems that the salmon are running a little late this year and if that is correct, the peak of the season could very well be held off until the week of the 12th of December, Palmer forecast.

RUSSIAN RIVER-According to King’s Sport and Tackle in Guerneville, it’s still early in the season for the main push of steelhead, but this past week was the best so far. Still only an occasional steelie of 3 or 4 pounds, but an adult to 10 being caught now and then. The river has had good flows and color all week, but was running 1100 cfs at Hacienda Bridge on Sunday afternoon and still raining, expected to be dirty and possibly blown out by Monday.

SMITH RIVER-Up and down river and up and down fishing. The last rainfall melted the snow and cooled down the river temperature so the kings took some patience to entice, but still some available in the lower river. The steelhead showed up and bit well despite the cooler water, and guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service boated steelies of 9 and 13 pounds, and released a darker king.

UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.–Dec.1, 2010 was the opener for fishing on the river. It had been closed to protect the spawning of fall Chinooks. With the river running high and muddy, there was still one report of a summer steelhead being caught at Stanton Park on the opening day, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. Usually the week of Christmas has bank anglers and drift boat anglers alike catching chrome winter run steelhead behind the casino at Staton Park.

UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.–Even though the river is high and out of shape when it comes to fishing from a boat, it is right where the bank anglers need it for fishing steelhead this time of year, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer. Sports Fans need the Umpqua river to be 6 feet or less at the Elkton water measure for sidedrifting for steelhead. While plunkers fishing from the bank at their favorite high water holes need the river to rise above 7.5 feet at the same Elkton site. The Umpqua system is full of deep channels created by the basalt rock that makes up this river. When the river becomes flooded the fish come out of the channels and move next to the banks in the shallow water. Think of this the next time the river is too high for drifting in a boat, Palmer suggested.

TRINITY-KLAMATH RIVERS

KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-Storms took most of the Klamath River out of business with high muddy water over the weekend, and the rain was expected to continue off and on for most of the week. However, the first few miles downstream of Iron Gate Dam was still fishable, and anglers were catching a good mix of half-pounders and adults to 5 pounds. Back-trolled crawdad plugs, nightcrawlers drifted and backtrolled behind a Hot Shot, and roe were all catching fish. Flies weren’t quite as affected, but patient fly fishers could catch several steelies a day swinging Silver Hiltons and burlaps.

TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-The latest storms blew the whole river out below the North Fork, and it’s not likely to become fishable again until awhile after the rains stop. The river below the South Fork will take the longest to clear. When the Trinity clears, though, it should be loaded with fresh winter run steelies.

TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City-What a difference a week makes. Just a week ago, steelhead fishing had been a real challenge, but rains brought the first big push of winter run steelies upstream, and fishing improved dramatically. However, just about all the Trinity’s fishable water is likely to be restricted to the stretch upstream of Douglas City for a little while, and it will take a few days after the rains stop for the river to clear up down to Junction City. Be flexible in what you fish with. Backtrolling Brad’s Wigglers works well in clearer water, but back-bounced and side-drifted roe does better in murky conditions.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

AMERICAN RIVER-Fly fishing for steelhead was pretty much out of business with flows of 7,000 cfs and a possibility of going higher because of the heavy rain falling Sunday night. Spin and conventional fishermen catching a very few below the salmon closure marked by the power line crossing the river at Ancil Hoffman Park (due to end December 31) on drifted nightcrawlers and roe, and backtrolling plugs.

FEATHER RIVER-Steelhead fishing was still slow, and the salmon spawn has ended, but a few were being caught in the Low Flow Section on flesh flies imitating the flesh from decaying salmon and pale egg patterns, as well as small nymphs. Spin fishermen are doing best on drifted nightcrawlers. The next big opportunity on the Feather will be the January 1 opener above the Highway 70 Bridge.

FOLSOM LAKE-Fishing continued to be slow both for bass, landlocked salmon, and trout. However, most anglers were deterred from venturing forth by continuing unsettled weather. The best chance for bass is to use your fish finder to locate bait along edges of submerged creek channels off the main body and up a little ways into the North and South Forks. Fish are deep, so spoon and drop-shot Robo-Worms in Morning Dawn and salt and pepper. A few king salmon and trout were being caught in front of the dam and Dyke 8 with nightcrawlers behind blades, small Rapalas in Hot Steel, Speedy Shiners, and Needlefish.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-Fishing for striped bass was slow, but a 35 pounder was caught around Garcia Bend on a sardine. Striper fishing had been pretty good for jiggers in the Deep Water Channel, but slowed by the weekend. Sturgeon fishing was picking up around Courtland and Hood on ghost shrimp, pileworms and lamprey eels.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing-The late fall king salmon season is heading into its last weekend of 2010, ending Sunday, and anglers putting in lots of time were scoring one or two per boat. Although numbers are low, the quality of the fish is very good, and fish up to 38 pounds were caught last week by trolling spinners downstream and backtrolling or anchoring up with Kwikfish. The river was still in pretty good shape as of Sunday night, but it was raining hard, so conditions could change quickly for the worst.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing continued to be very good with very nice rainbows being caught from Posse Grounds to the Barge Hole. With flows at 6,000 cfs, it drifting under the Cypress Street Bridge was being allowed. However, check flows daily for changes. A few salmon were still around so a good fishing strategy is to dead drift an egg pattern with a caddis nymph trailer.

NORTH SALTWATER

BENICIA-The best stories are coming from up system, where spotty sturgeon action is rewarding anglers soaking grass shrimp, eel and roe. The bite is sporadic, with Big Cut producing some keepers for a couple boats trying. One angler caught 4 big stripers weighing 20 pounds plus.

BERKELEY-The New Easy Rider, New El Dorado III and El Dorado are offering crab combos with bay fishing as long as the live bait holds out. The California Dawn is moving to Martinez to target striped bass and sturgeon, and the Happy Hooker is going down for an engine upgrade. They will move back to Berkeley around Jan. 1 to focus on South Bay sturgeon.

BODEGA BAY- Crabbing remained very good when the ocean was fishable, but still no word on the giant squid trips. The ocean was iffy most of the week, with no trips reported.

CROCKETT-Captain Gordon Hough on the Morning Star said both his planned trips were thwarted by weather. The last trips out produced striped bass and leopard sharks, with leopard sharks taking the jackpot money. The boat is fishing San Pablo Bay for sharks, striped bass and sturgeon, although the latter have been a little scarce.

EMERYVILLE-Angler traffic is slowing, but the New Seeker did get out on a crab combo on Saturday, finding easy limits of quality Dungeness, but no bass or halibut no the bay fishing side.

EUREKA-Not much doing but crabbing, and with the storms ripping through this week, there were few windows of opportunity. Top bets are just outside and north out of Humboldt Bay, or Trinidad Bay for small boaters. The mouth of the Eel is off the crabbing hot spot list due to all the rain and freshwater flushing.

FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar continued to offer crabbing trips that found increasingly better quality crabs. “On Wednesday, we were looking for 150 crabs,” said Thornton. “We moved our shallow line in to 55 feet, but came up a little short. After a half hour soak, we went back and pulled them. Each one had progressively more crabs. It was just like the opener!” His anglers on Thursday and Saturday also scored limits, only they didn’t even have to pull the whole string.

HALF MOON BAY-Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat said the crabbing trips continued with terrific results. “Some days, we’re running two trips per day!” said Mattusch. A sanddab and crab combo produced all you wanted action on mini-flatties before the group scored crab limits. The giant squid and crab combos haven’t fared well, with high winds and rough seas canceling planned efforts.

MARTINEZ-Sturgeon fishing was spotty, and a little tough for some. Water temperatures may have put a stopper in the hot bite, but warming temps may turn that around. “There are plenty of fish, we can see them on the meter, but all we caught were shakers,” said Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing. “We did catch plenty of shakers!” The top bait for the little guys was eel and grass combo baits or plain grass shrimp. There were 3 keepers boated on the Happy Hooker’s Saturday trip, a 62 incher caught by a Southern California WON subscriber the jackpot fish.

SIERRA LAKES/RIVERS

BOCA LAKE-The road is open to the dam. Anglers throwing minnow imitations off the dam stand a good chance of catching a nice brown. Bait soakers usually stick with nightcrawlers.

CAPLES LAKE-According to Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station, the ice isn’t thick enough for safe fishing yet. Two or three weeks is still needed to get the 6 to 8 inches necessary. Wait until the word comes down before attempting a trip here.

CARSON RIVER (East)-Slushy snow and cold weather is keeping most people out of the area.

DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 58-percent capacity. Warmer nights have stalled the freezing of the lake and now some open water is available along the shore for fishing. Try Pautzke’s Fire Bait and inflated nightcrawlers.

DONNER LAKE-Fishing has been slow here. The ramp is full of snow from the plows and too icy if it wasn’t. Casting spoons very early or late when the sun is off the water can get you a mack that is prowling the shallows for rainbows.

FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 40-percent capacity. According to Wiggins Trading Post, ice is forming at the edges but shore fishing is still good. The road to the dam is plowed by Caltrans, but the Forest Service roads around the lake will require 4-wheel drive and chains. Use caution!

ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-Rain has melted a lot of the snow in the area but the roads are still treacherous. 4-wheel drive is highly recommended for travel in the Crystal Basin and be prepared for quick weather changes that could strand you there.

INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The back road is passable with 4-wheel drive, but the snow is slushy and wet and it’s cold-not a good combination for standing next to the lake’s edge to fish.

JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Jim Gilmore of Pollock Pines picked up a 34-inch, 11-pound, 7-ounce Mackinaw trolling a Rapala in the channel between the island and the second dam. Other anglers have picked up some 1 1/2-pound macks doing the same on Sunday.

LAKE TAHOE-Mickey Daniel’s at Mickey’s Big Mack Charters reported fair action in the wind for macks and a big rainbow. The 5-pound rainbow had 24 whole crawdads, some of which were still alive, in its stomach and remnants of 10 more-talk about feeding heavy!! Daniels was toplining a 5-inch triple jointed River2Sea green rainbow trout pattern plug. They caught 4 macks, and they were eating crawdads too.

LOON LAKE-Still a lot of snow here and the road is icy-best to stay away from here to avoid trouble if you aren’t an experienced driver in winter time conditions.

PROSSER LAKE-Road is plowed to near the dam and the locals 4-wheel to the dam on an unplowed dirt road. Rainbows are hitting a Kastmaster or nightcrawlers.

PYRAMID LAKE-Poor weather shut down trolling for almost all of the past month-wind, snow, or rain. Fly fishermen are doing well at Pelican Point casting off ladders in the shallows with white flies that imitate baitfish. A 9 pounder was the biggest fish reported this past week.

RED LAKE-Thin ice covered with snow-very dangerous!! Stay off the lake for at least 2 or 3 more weeks.

SILVER LAKE-Same as Caples, ice is too thin. Wait until the word comes down in 2 or 3 weeks when the ice is checked for 6 to 8 inches of thickness.

TRUCKEE RIVER-The snow has been thinning a little allowing better access at Hirshdale and Floriston. The flows are good, but cold. Try a midge pattern nymph under a big stone, dead drifted through the deeper pools and runs. Most trout at not chasing except for an occasional big fish. Some dry fly action on 6X and 7X tippets on size 18 to 24 midges and BWO’s has been seen.

UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The only launching is at the dam from Pea Vine Ridge Road and 4-wheel drive is mandatory. Bring chains or just wait until spring!!

NORTH COAST LAKES

CLEAR LAKE-It was hard to put a limit together using artificials. A few anglers caught bass on paddle-tail swimbaits, LV500’s, jigs, and plastics. Most anglers are moving around until they find a little patch of active fish and then fishing with live bait.

LAKE BERRYESSA- Although the lake has turned, it has been fairly void of anglers so far. There has also been no big change in the bass bite. Most bass are still deep and holding over deep creek channels leading into coves and the two main creeks at the north end. The good news is that trout have been reported on the surface and closer to the shoreline where bank anglers can toss live baits to them.

UPPER BLUE LAKE-Trolling the middle of the lake with flashers and worms or a Kastmaster in the top 12 to 20 feet produced a few trout, with a few reported to 3 pounds. But it was hard work as the lake has not been planted lately.

NORTHEASTERN AREA

LAKE ALMANOR-Work started on the Canyon Dam project Dec. 6, so the Forest Service boat launch will continue to be plowed until that part of the lake freezes over. Very few will be on the lake now except a few locals with their own ramps.

BAUM LAKE-Power Bait, Power Eggs, Pautzke’s Fire Bait and nightcrawlers are favorites of the trout here, while brown or olive woolly buggers fooled a few fish. Kastmasters are also popular here. Fishing should remain good here throughout the winter.

EAGLE LAKE-Both the north and middle basins are frozen now leaving only shoreline fishing at the south end until the season closes December 31. No reports were available however from that end regarding conditions.

PIT RIVER-Pit 7 is open all year but Pit 3 down to Pit 7 is now only artificial lures with barbless hooks. The Pit 3 reach access is open during day but still under construction during the nighttime hours. Head back in early to avoid problems. Test releases began at both Pit 3 and Pit 4 but scheduled increases have been gradual. ?

LAKE SHASTA-Up in the Pitt arm where a little more bait could be found was a better spot for a few bass, dropping small worms in 25 to 40 feet. Good colors for the “gin clear” water included crawdad or blue, morning dawn. Spooning 1/2-ounce Hopkins Shorties around arcs on the outside of baits graphed should also work. Trout fishing was good in the Pitt arm trolling 3 to 4 colors out over points holding bait.

NORTHERN FOOTHILLS

AMERICAN RIVER-Continued poor weather has kept fishermen out of the area below Hwy 49.

BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Rainy conditions have slowed the bite and Emerald Cove Marina reported only a couple of boats on the lake all week. Larry Hemphill was throwing a BaitSmith swimbait in the North Fork and landed a 4 3/4 pounder in 40 feet of water. Drop-shot worms at 30 to 40 feet will catch a bunch of little spots

CAMP FAR WEST-Cold rainy weather this past week made for slow fishing. Warmer storms are forecast for this week might improve things. There should be some catfish hitting in the running water coming into the lake. Bass action is slowing down with the colder water-mostly largemouths here. Look for stripers up in the creek arms.

COLLINS LAKE-The lake is now down only 20 feet from full. Plenty of limits of rainbows, 1 to 3 pounders, are coming in for both trollers and shore fishermen. Trollers are using flasher/worm combos all over the lake in the top 20 feet. Shore anglers are doing well at the dam, beach, and marina on Power Bait, Pautzke’s Fire Bait and inflated nightcrawlers.

ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Trollers are still picking up some nice rainbows in the marina on flasher/worm combos in the top 12 feet.

LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 46-percent capacity, down 155 feet. Swimbaits on main points in the Lime Saddle area are producing a few bigger bass. Most anglers are settling for lots of small spots on drop-shot or dart-head worms from 15 to 30 feet deep in the coves. Coho are driving bass anglers nuts up in the Lime Saddle area. Drop-shot worms will catch plenty of salmon, but you can just cast a gold Kastmaster and pick up a 100-plus coho in a day, according to one source.

ROLLINS LAKE-No snow here, just rain. Very few anglers have been out with the lousy weather.

SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The recent rains melted all the snow so access is good. Anglers are starting to pick up 14- to 15-inch rainbows trolling flasher/worm combos along the shore from Cascade Shores to the dam.

SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-Rain is melting a lot of snow, but ice could be a problem. Not many fishermen in the area.

STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-Road is still snowy and icy and 4-wheel drive is recommended. Few anglers have been seen in the area.

THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Tough to get info about this lake. There should be some steelhead showing up at the Wilbur Rd ramp area. Bass action will be slow due to the unsettled weather.