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 river was blown out at press time amidst some great steelheading, and expected to be back in shape before Christmas after expected to crest around 15,000 cfs on Dec. 12. Some of the rivers biggest steelhead are caught in late December.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-Off and on rain all week has kept the river mostly unfishable, but as of Sunday it was an emerald green color at Benbow, although still a little high. Visibility was about 10 inches at Silvendale, according to Darren Brown of Brown’s Sporting Goods in Garberville. There were a few anglers just beginning to start fishing on Sunday. Some salmon should still be in the river, and steelhead should be pushing in with decent numbers now.
ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Ore.-Blown out at press time, but big king salmon were still being caught, including a 51-pound chromer by
Young Jonathan Rohrbacker of Malin, Oregon, out of the Sixes. These rivers are the first to blow out and the first to come back into shape, according to WON Field Reporter Dave Pitts.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.-The river didn’t kick off it’s traditional winter fishing during Thanksgiving, but the steelheading finally got off the ground in mid-December, according to Jim Carey of the Rogue Outdoor Store.The river was blown out at press time, but should see some good winter steelhead fishing when it comes back into shape, said guide and WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
RUSSIAN RIVER-The river remained high almost all week and was on its way back down over the weekend, finally getting below 2,000 cfs on Tuesday when it began fishing a bit, but then it went back up again, and some diehards were beginning to fish on Sunday. The upper river around Healdsburg had 18 inches of visibility. There are more steelhead in the river, and Christmas is the best time, according to Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville.
SMITH RIVER-Salmon are still holding below the Rowdy Creek Hatchery, and no wonder since the hatchery broke all records for returning king salmon last week, including two over 60 pounds and many over 50. Steelheading was up and down with the river flows due to storm after storm all week long, but guide Phil Desautel was getting hookups for clients on kings and steelies all week long.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-Storms blew out the Klamath River for most of its length, from the Scott River downstream to the mouth, but should gradually clear from the top on down over the next several days. The first few miles downstream of Iron Gate Dam were still fishable, though, and anglers were catching 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.
TRINITY RIVER-The river was blown out for much of its length for most of last week, but by the weekend was fishable down to the North Fork. Bright winter run fish are now making up the bulk of the steelhead run, and anglers have been drifting and floating roe, backtrolling Hot Shots, and fly fishing with golden stones and copper John’s dead-drifted under an indicator.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-This week it’s simple. Find the bait, cover water, use live bait, but only use artificials if you want to just practice your casting skills. The bass bite has been tough. Catfishing has also slowed with only a few diehards finding success.
LAKE BERRYESSA- It’s continued to be slow here. Bass guide Don Paganelli said most of the bass are scattered from as shallow as 14 feet down to 60 feet. A late turnover along with the latest warm rains made for a lot of looking to find where the fish had moved next. The bait has not schooled up either. Try a drop-shot rig with a shad patterned Robo Worm. Trout and salmon fishing has been much better. Trolling with your favorite lures in the top 10 to 15 feet may find a few takers.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-DFG finally planed here so the dry spell is over for now. Trolling the middle of the lake with flashers and worms or a Kastmaster in the top 12 to 20 feet should produce a few trout, with a few up to 3 pounds. Bass will also be a fair bet along the highway.
LAKE ALMANOR-What a difference a week makes! The project at the dam has in fact been postponed once again for at least a few more months. And then they will leave one lane open or open the USFS ramp. In the meantime it’s been “fish on” with some really nice trout taken by the dam and along the east shore as far as Lake Cove. Try trolling in the top 16 feet. It has not been an early bite either, so you’ll have time for breakfast first.
BAUM LAKE-The bite slowed due to a sunny change in the weather but should pick back up with a few days of consistent weather. When it does go back to Power Bait, Power Eggs, Pautzke’s Fire Bait and nightcrawlers, which 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-Big changes here as the lake thawed and anglers were able to launch again. No telling how long this will last, but fishing was good. Check roads conditions and the weather before making the trip up here. Ron Beck of Flying Eagle Guide Service will give you ramp conditions. Call him at 530-825-3398. The south end has a ramp open, but it is for very small boats only and you’ll have to walk it out. The season ends on December 31.
IRON CANYON RESERVOIR-According to Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney, trout limits were being taken to the left of the boat ramp with nightcrawlers.
PIT RIVER- Michael Caranci from The Fly Shop in Redding said the river is not a great option right now due to inconsistent flows. PG&E is still experimenting with flows on Pit 4 and 5, resulting in flows as high as 1500 cfs. Flows are better in the Pit 3 stretch, but periodic road closures make access this section questionable.
LAKE SHASTA-Things may be turning around for bass anglers as the gin clear waters are starting to stain up and get cooler. A few decent 1 1/2 pounders were found by throwing Mother’s Finest in shad patterns. Trout were found from 13 1/2 to 15 inches by trolling in 15 to 20 feet of water.
AMERICAN RIVER-Steelheading was slow last week in flows that varied multiple times from 3,800 cfs to 7,000 cfs. Fishing was poor even in Nimbus Basin even immediately after the fish screens were removed because the possibility that flows might go higher to maintain required flood control space in Folsom Lake. Anglers were drifting nightcrawlers and roe under floats, plus swinging spoons. Fly fishing was non-existent in the relatively high and fluctuating flows.
FEATHER RIVER-No change. Steelhead fishing continued to be slow in both the Low Flow Section and main stem below the Outlet. The next big opportunity for anglers on the Feather will be the January 1 opener above the Highway 70 Bridge.
FOLSOM LAKE-If anything, fishing was even slower last week than the previous week. Very few anglers tried for trout, landlocked king salmon, and bass in the mostly crummy weather. Bass fishermen had their best shot at a few spots by locating bait along the edges of submerged creek channels off the main body, and slowly working spoons and drop-shotted Robo-Worms in Morning Dawn and salt and pepper. The few king salmon and trout being caught were mostly found 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 very slow, even in the Port of Sacramento which had been offering the best chance of catching a striper in the Sacramento area. About the only semi-bright spot on the fishing scene was the report of sturgeon being caught from the bank along South River Road on ghost shrimp.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing-The late fall king salmon season ended on Sunday with a whimper because of high, off-color water that limited fishing all week. All in all, it was a good season, though.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing below Keswick Dam continued to be very good last week, even though fishing was limited for most of the week to the stretch around Redding because of high murky water downstream of there. Restrictions on boating under the Cypress Street Bridge when slows are above 7,000 cfs are expected to be lifted soon as the obstacle hampering boating are in the process of being removed as construction nears completion.
BENICIA-Slow was the best word to describe both angler traffic and angler success, reported Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait. “But I know where they are now!” he said. “The bait boat couldn’t keep them out of the nets when they were fishing near Alviso!”
BERKELEY-Fishing remained tough, but the crabbing continued excellent. The New El Dorado III, El Dorado and New Easy Rider are all offering crab combos. As soon as the Happy Hooker has her new engines installed, Captain Jim Smith will be chasing sturgeon in South San Francisco Bay.
BODEGA BAY- Crabbing remained excellent, but no word yet on giant squid. Should they show, Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler said he would fish for them until they disappear again.
CROCKETT-Captain Gordon Hough said the action was high and mixed on trips to San Pablo Bay where anglers on the Morning Star caught sturgeon, striped bass and leopard sharks. The tides were slow, but the rains seem to be doing what it takes to perk up the sturgeon in the area around the Pumphouse.
EMERYVILLE-Craig Stone at the landing said the boats ran crab combos on Saturday, targeting in-bay species still. The crab numbers are still strong, with limits on every trip since the opener, including Saturday’s trips. The fishing was still tough, with the New Huck Finn reporting one keeper striper and 26 crab limits, and the New Seeker topliner with four keeper bass and 17 crab limits.
FORT BRAGG-Crabbing remained great with limits still the norm. Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar ran trips Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, with limits all three days. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they were back at the docks early, but 10 a.m. On Wednesday, he pulled his shallow string anticipating the big swell, so Saturday’s trip had to start with a fresh soak on the shallow string. Still, the 14 anglers on board were back at the docks by 10:30 with limits. Anglers can still fish from shore for rockfish, but not many are trying.
HALF MOON BAY-Captain Tom Mattusch of Huli Cat Sportfishing took a trip to Hawaii so the Huli Cat sat at the docks. “The pots should really be plugged when I get back!” he forecasted.
MARTINEZ-Slow tides and intermittent storms kept the action at bay for anglers here, but there were a couple of nice sturgeon checked at Martinez Bait and Tackle. Captain Steve Talmadge on Flash Fishing said his anglers only caught shaker sturgeon. “The water temperature has come up 1.5 degrees, and starting Thursday, the tides will be much better,” he noted. There are still plenty of sturgeon in the system, with some good indications of shallow water action firing up.
AMERICAN RIVER-The rain and generally lousy weather has made it uncomfortable to be on the river below Hwy 49 where the river is open to catch-and-release angling with artificial barbless hook lures only.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 68-percent capacity with the rain raising the level 1 to 2 feet per day. Emerald Cove Marina reported that there were several boats out on Sunday with the nice weather but things had been slow earlier in the week with all the rain. Spotted bass should be hitting on the main body points-meter for bait.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake was at 78-percent capacity at the end of November, but was spilling by Sunday with all the rain in the last two weeks. A bass tournament on Saturday reported lots of limits of smaller fish caught on worms and jigs on the main points at 20 to 30 feet.
COLLINS LAKE-Shore anglers are catching near limits of 2- to 3-pound rainbows on Power Bait and Pautzke’s Fire Bait at the dam. Trollers are doing almost as well as the shore fishermen on flasher/worm combos worked all over the lake at 15 to 20 feet deep.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 91-percent capacity. The poor weather has kept fishing pressure rather light but the few that are coming out are catching limits of 12- to 14-inch rainbows in a couple of hours trolling in the marina with flasher/worm combos.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is up to 48-percent capacity. An Anglers’ Choice team event on Saturday was won by Cody Meyer and JR Wright with a big 15.86-pound limit and the big fish, a 3.96 pounder. A 3-pound average on this lake any time of year is huge! Swimbaits and drop-shot worms probably accounted for most of the fish caught, but a Sunday tournament had most anglers tight-lipped. Lots of coho are being caught on drop-shot worms by bass anglers.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is full. With the poor weather seen most of this past week, there was little fishing pressure on the lake, according to Dee Wolffe at Long Ravine Resort.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. Trollers are doing well on 12- to 15-inch rainbows at the inlet, dam, and along Cascade Shores using flasher/worm combos. Smallmouth action has been slow, mostly due to lack of interest.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-The roads to the lake have been plowed but the roads into the lake facilities are not. It would probably be best to wait until spring.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is at 86-percent capacity. The road past Quintet is not plowed by the county and according to the Georgetown Ranger Station, some 4-wheelers who tried to reach the lake described the road as “an icy, nasty mess”. More weather is in the forecast for this week.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-The lake is at 97-percent capacity. No reports were available, but steelhead usually get active at the Wilbur Road ramp for anglers using live minnows and inflated nightcrawlers.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 41-percent capacity. The road is open to the dam and anglers are doing well on browns and rainbows there using nightcrawlers and Pautzke’s Fire Bait on the bottom or casting small spoons and Rapalas.
CAPLES LAKE-The lake is at 87-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort will reopen for the winter season on December 20. There is open water that can be reached by shore anglers near the dam and spillway that should be providing good action on Pautzke’s Fire Bait and nightcrawlers.
CARSON RIVER (East)-This past weekend, the weather was beautiful. The flows were up but the clarity was good making for wonderful conditions, but no one was fishing.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 59-percent capacity. The road to Mallard Point is clear and you drive right to the water. Ed Dillard reported fair shore action at Mallard on rainbow Power Bait for rainbows running 13 to 15 inches. Earlier in the week some friends fished at Mallard and caught a bunch of 10 inchers-just depends on which school of fish is moving through the area. A very hardy fly caster reported some action on black leeches-it’s really getting too cold for safe fly fishing. Ice has formed over shallower water on the lake above Fairview.
DONNER LAKE-The lake is at 38-percent capacity. Warm weather has melted most of the snow on the roads and the boat ramp. The ramp was open for launching as of Sunday. Shore anglers were doing well on rainbows with more shoreline accessible due to the melting snow. Trollers should be able to locate some Mackinaws.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 40-percent capacity. The warmer storms, bringing mostly rain to the area, have made for excellent fishing according to Wiggins Trading Post. The road is clear to the dam where most anglers are using nightcrawlers and Power Bait. The north end of the lake is iced over. The roads around the lake are not plowed and require 4-wheel drive and chains.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 66-percent capacity. The rain has melted off most of the snow so the lake is accessible, but no one is fishing here due to the weather.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The warm weather has melted off the snow and the road is open to the lake. Most shore anglers are fishing off the dam near deeper water using nightcrawlers and Pautzke’s Fire Bait. Some nice browns and rainbows from the November plant are starting to show up on stringers.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-The lake is at 78-percent capacity. The Mackinaws are moving into shallower water during the storms and the weatherproof troller can make a killing using a big Rapala.
LAKE TAHOE-The early morning bite is slow for macks according to Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing and John Shearer at Tahoe Sportfishing who both reported better action after 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. for 3 to 7 pounders at 160 to 220 feet deep. Self is trolling spoons, wobblers, and minnow imitations-changing lures until he finds the right combination. Shearer is using minnow/flasher rigs on the shelf at the Tahoe Keys after 11:00a.m. Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters is still catching fish in the early morning at 300 to 400 feet-he said the fish were just stacked up at this depth, but he’s about the only guide on the lake who regularly fishes this deep.
LOON LAKE-The lake is at 54-percent capacity. This lake is too dangerous for most people to access due to icy roads-this will be the last report until spring when it’s safer to drive up here.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 33-percent capacity. The road is clear to Prosser Dam Rd. requiring a short walk to the dam where fishing has been good for rainbows using nightcrawlers and small spoons.
PYRAMID LAKE-Fishing has been very good with some big fish caught during the past week. On Sunday morning, John Opio of Reno landed a 12 1/2-pound cutthroat on a bronze U-20 Flatfish while trolling in Dago Bay. Late this past week John Belinsky of Nixon caught a 10-pound, 6-ounce cutt on a fly at Rawhide. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters has been catching lots of 20- to 26-inch cutts on frog and pearl/red Flatfish trolling 17 to 25 feet deep. The North and South Nets have been good along with Wino Beach. Pelican Point action has been slowing down. Fly fishing has been good.
RED LAKE-Snowy and icy with few, if any, anglers bothering to stop.
SILVER LAKE-The lake is at 44-percent capacity. The roads and parking turnouts are clear providing access to open water for shore anglers. Fishing should be good using nightcrawlers and Pautzke’s Fire Bait. All the resorts are closed for the season.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Fishing is good along the catch-and-release section from Hwy 267 to the Nevada State border. Snow melt has cooled the water, but a big black stone with a midge dropper worked through the deeper pools and runs can attract some nice fish. Look for BWO activity in the afternoons.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 72-percent capacity. The rain has opened the road to the dam off Pea Vine Ridge Road but it can be very icy. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service suggests waiting until late January or early February when the Mackinaws finish spawning and get back on their feeding pattern.