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.-Steelhead are in the river in good numbers now and being caught by plunkers in the lower river and in the higher river when it clears for drifboaters. January is about the best steelie month for here, but it will continue into March.
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.- The two days before Christmas had the few boats on the South Fork enjoying the bginning of the steelhead season. “I saw an average 3 hatchery to 2 native fish being caught,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets guide Service. With the next week of storms it could very well keep this river blown out, so call ahead.
EEL RIVER-Blown out, as it has been since the first rain this year.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-High and colored and unfishable.
RUSSIAN RIVER-Still way high and going up, supposed to reach 13 feet this weekend and come down quickly, but another storm mid-week is expected to blow it out again and bring it up to 16 feet. The lakes above are now full, so they should keep dumping water, which will keep the river high. The steelies are in, though, and some real quality, big fish are showing up at the hatchery. Fishing for them, though, will be tough for the foreseeable future.
SMITH RIVER-The river was blown out until Wednesday when it became “plunkable”, but driftboat fishing got started on Thursday and was excellent for wild and hatchery steelies averaging 10 to 12 pounds, according to guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. Every boat they talked to had caught fish, Desuatel said.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.-Just before Christmas, drifting was good from Stanton Park downstream to Lawson Bar. Bank anglers have been lined up by the dozens above Stanton Park catching their share of steelhead, according to guide Curtis Palmer. “Weather reports show constant rain for the next week, so I predict that most of the rivers will be blown out all week,” he said.
UMPQUA RIVER, Main Fork, Roseburg, Oregon-WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer talked to a couple from Idaho right before Christmas and they had caught steelies at the confluence of the South and North Forks of the Umpqua. They were plunking roe at Forks River Park where the north river flows in. There have also been some steelhead viewed at the dam upstream on the North Umpqua River.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-No change. Most of the Klamath is still blown out except for the several miles just below Iron Gate Dam. There, the river continued to be fishable and steelheading good with anglers catching halfpounders and adults to 5 pounds on back-trolled crawdad plugs and Hot Shots, nightcrawlers drifted and backtrolled behind a Hot Shot, and side-drifted roe.
TRINITY RIVER-More rain kept the river high, off-color, and unfishable except the uppermost part below Lewiston. There, fishing was good with big, bright winter fish streaming in. Better yet, fishing pressure has been very light. Backtrolling Hot Shots and Wiggle Warts has been the most productive method, but there were even a few fly fishermen fly fishermen were having a bit of success by dead-drifting golden stones and egg patterns under an indicator.
AMERICAN RIVER-Fishing for steelhead only reopens Saturday, January 1, in the salmon closure area above the power lines at Ancil Hoffman Park. However, don’t expect much since flows are very high-15,000 cfs as of Sunday evening–and the river is murky. If you really need to scratch that steelhead fishing itch, plunk (stillfish) roe behind a small Spin-n-Glo close to shore inside a current edge in the upper part of the river, above Sunrise Blvd.
FEATHER RIVER-Steelhead fishing was very slow, even in the Low Flow Section where water conditions were just about perfect. However, anglers should find fair action in the part of the river reopening to fishing Saturday, January 1 above the Highway 70 Bridge. Nightcrawlers behind Corkies and Gulp worms are likely to provide the best action because of the recent rains. Remember to use barbless hooks, though.
FOLSOM LAKE-The lake is muddy and expected to be out of fishable condition for awhile. Fishing will be possible again only after inflows decrease and clear. The lake will clear first near the dam, where particulates have time to settle out, and high up in the forks. However, fishing is likely to be slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER-The river was high, muddy and full of debris, but some sturgeon were being caught in the main river around Sacramento off the end of Elkhorn Blvd behind the airport fishing current edges where the water transitions from fast to slow near shore in the main river near Sacramento. Lisbon Slough was the place to be for better odds, though, on pileworms, ghost shrimp and eels.
YUBA RIVER-The river was flowing 3,880 cfs, high and muddy.
BENICIA- Aside from the big stripers caught by one regular, the top bet for sturgeon has been fishing the Mothball Fleet or around Roe and Ryer islands, said Jeff Renfanvt at BS Bait and Tackle. The latest big striper weighed 37 pounds, taken at the Firing Line.
BENICIA- Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said sturgeon fishing has been slow up system, but striped bass action is decent for the guys using live bait. The shoreline around Benicia has produced a few small stripers.
BERKELEY-Crab combos are tapering down, but sturgeon trips will start up to take the place for a couple of the boats.
BODEGA BAY- No word of any giant squid yet, but crabbers continued to pull limits when the ocean allows. Otherwise, not much happening here.
EMERYVILLE-The New Seeker and New Huck Finn ran their last crab combos this week, and Emeryville Sportfishing Center will not be booking any trips until around Jan. 20. Then they will offer sturgeon trips most likely targeting South San Francisco Bay through March.
FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar continued to score crab limits–easy crab limits–on trips out of Noyo Harbor. Wednesday’s group of eight anglers took their 80 crabs and were back in port by 10:15 a.m. “The ocean has been fine, but the forecast is scaring away people,” said Thornton. He said the crab trips will continue until some other option becomes viable.
HALF MOON BAY-Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat is running regular crabbing trips that produce limits of Dungeness. “Commercial crabbers, recreational crabbers and the CPFV (party boat) fleet is enjoying a great crab season,” said Mattusch. “We are so close to the crab pots, we are able to schedule morning or afternoon trips.” On Thursday, a Sacramento group of 27 anglers caught limits. Princeton Seafood cooks, cleans and cracks the crabs, then puts them on ice for the anglers’ drive home.
LOCH LOMOND-Captain Jim Cox reported good sturgeon action with two keepers boated while fishing San Pablo Bay. One went 48 inches, the other 52 inches. Ghost and mud shrimp are top baits.
MARTINEZ- Sturgeon fishing has been on the slow side, but Captain Steve Talmadge on Flash Fishing did fish on Wednesday. “We had two big fish hooked up, but lost them,” he said. His anglers released 2 shaker sturgeon. “Tides are starting to build, and the conditions are great this week!”
POINT SAN PABLO-Captain Frank Miller on the Fury reported improving action in San Pablo Bay for sturgeon anglers, with one big one hooked up but lost on his trip on Wednesday.
BOCA LAKE-Again this week, heavy winter storms dumped lots of snow in the Sierras and it will be awhile before the roads are cleared to the dam. Once the road is clear, try a Rapala or Kastmaster off the dam.
CAPLES LAKE- Snow over the weekend kept road crews busy. The Caples Lake Resort has re-opened for the winter season and they report that ice fishermen have been seen on the lake and limits of trout were being caught.
CARSON RIVER (East)-River looks good, but few people are fishing. Area only received a little snow over the past weekend.
DAVIS LAKE-According to Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing, the lake is not iced over enough for safe ice fishing. The warmer than usual storms have melted a lot of snow and delayed the ice formation. It needs to be 6 to 10 inches thick for safe ice fishing, 12 inches is better if you plan on driving an ATV or snowmobile on the ice. Shore fishing at Mallard Point is producing some nice fish on Power Bait.
DONNER LAKE-Heavy snows this past weekend made it tough for any fishing.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-Poor weather kept most anglers off the lake, but the few that did make the trip caught limits of rainbows off the dam or the nearby points using nightcrawlers and Pautzke’s Fire Bait. The road is plowed to the dam, but not beyond. The ice is not thick enough for ice fishing according to Wiggins Trading Post.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-Snow shut off access to the Crystal Basin.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-A couple staying at the Carson River Resort drove up here this past weekend and fished inflated nightcrawlers off the shore and caught a few 1 1/2- to 2-pound rainbows. 4-wheel drive is required to safely get to and from the lake.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-A good chance for a nice Mackinaw or brown trout during the stormy weather either trolling a Rapala in the channel between the island and the second dam or fishing inflated nightcrawlers at the first dam. Casting a gold Kastmaster or Rapala off the first dam could produce a good brown, according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service.
LAKE TAHOE-Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters was doing well between storms trolling Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos at 300 to 350 feet deep for macks running up to 6 pounds. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing did about the same on Rapalas trolled at 180 to 220 feet deep at the Tavern Hole off Tahoe City. John Shearer at Tahoe Sportfishing has been consistently picking up fish off the shelf in front of the Tahoe Keys on minnow rigs.
PROSSER LAKE-Lots of snow over the weekend. The road does get plowed to the end of Prosser Dam Rd., then it’s a short walk to the dam. Snowshoes might be a good investment-check at Mountain Hardware and Sports.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters got out two days between storms this past week and landed 16 and 21 fish. The cutts are running 17 to 27 inches and hitting a U-20 bronze FlatFish in 17 to 25 feet of water. Fly fishermen are doing well at the North Nets with Jeff Moore topping the crowd with an 11 pounder.
RED LAKE-Windy and snowy-stay away for a while!!
SILVER LAKE-Heavy snows here over the past weekend made for tough access. No word yet on whether the lake is frozen enough for ice fishing, but there are ice fishermen at Caples Lake just up the road.
TOPAZ LAKE-The fishing season opens Jan 1 and the lake is in good shape. Linda Fields at Topaz Landing Marina said the lake is higher than normal and the Mason Valley hatchery planted 1200 cuttbows in preparation for the opener.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Snow is making access difficult. Snow plows push snow up along the road and drifts fill the road shoulder eliminating the parking.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-Snow and ice on Pea Vine Ridge Road was making access impossible!
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE- The minnow bite has been working by covering a lot of water with live bait in the deeper waters of the mid lake. For these deeper bass, just remember they may need to be fizzed (bladder pressure released) before they go back. Artificial options included paddle-tail swimbaits, plastic worms, and rattlebaits for a few fish.
LAKE BERRYESSA-Most of the bass are scattered from 14 feet down to 60 feet but the bite has still been slow. Try a drop-shot rig in a shad patterned Robo Worm. Trout fishing has improved for anglers trolling their favorite lures in the top 10 to 15 feet.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-Trolling the middle of the lake with flashers and worms or a Kastmaster in the top 12 to 20 feet will produce a few trout, but few anglers are on the water. Bass fishing continues to be a fair bet along the highway.
LAKE ALMANOR-The east shore trolling lanes have been active with rainbows averaging 2 pounds in the top 15 feet. Most boats launching out of Canyon Dam have not had to run far to find fish, as fishing pressure has been on the light side. Anglers have been pulling threaded nightcrawlers, and others were pulling Needlefish or other favorites.
BAUM LAKE- There are still plenty of bugs on the water and cripples, midges, bwo’s (with the clouds) and nymphs taking fish. The few anglers out also caught fish on Power Baits, Power Eggs, Fire Bait and nightcrawlers. Kastmasters are also popular here. Fishing should remain good here throughout the winter.
IRON CANYON RESERVOIR-Trout limits were being taken to the left of the boat ramp with nightcrawlers but check access due to winter storms.
PIT RIVER- With the current weather patterns the river could be colored. Road construction should be completed, with new releases planned to commence on Friday December 31. This means the flows will be increased substantially over the previous few years, so be extremely careful if you decide to brave the water by wading.
LAKE SHASTA-Trout were found to 15 1/2 inches by trolling in 15 to 20 feet of water or 3 to 4 colors out. The Pit arm and by the dam were good areas to target. Bass are bunching up, find a big fish and there should be a few more hanging around. The bite improved on days just before a storm came through. Try tossing MF’s in blue ‘crawler or the green with purple flake color either on a darthead or drop-shot.
AMERICAN RIVER-The flows are very heavy due to all the rain and visitors would be wise to avoid this area until the weather clears and the water level subsides.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 77-percent capacity. Some nice spotted bass have been hitting swimbaits in deep water-50 to 70 feet. Meter the bait and start working that depth.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake is full due to all the heavy rains. Angling pressure has been very light due to the poor weather and the water is cold and dirty, making fishing slow.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake is full and fishing has been productive for trout and an occasional catfish. A Roseville angler landed an 8-pound, 1-ounce catfish and 4 trout while using Power Bait at the dam.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is spilling over the dam. Fishing has been slow due to the weather.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is up to 58-percent capacity and water is running in everywhere-the lake came up 34 feet just this past week!! WON fished the lake this past Tuesday and found good action on bass and coho. The bass were hitting spinnerbaits in the backs of the coves where water was running into the lake. Larry Hemphill reported a good worm and jig bite on main lake points down to 30 feet. Coho running 10 to 12 inches are everywhere in the Lime Saddle arm of the lake. Just cast or troll a 1/4-ounce Kastmaster for easy limits of these tasty salmon.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is full. Fishing pressure has been light due to the poor weather.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The lake is two feet from full. Between storms a few anglers got out and one boat reported catching 3 rainbows at the dam at the Gate No.1 end on Pautzke’s Fire Bait.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-Heavy rain has kept anglers at home here. With no trout plants from the DFG, fish are hard to find even in good weather.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The road to the lake is snowy and icy– 4-wheel drive is recommended. Anglers making it to the lake have been doing well on nice rainbows from the bank or trolling from cartopper boats.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Wind and rain has made for miserable fishing conditions and few reports were available.