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.-It is peak of the steelhead season here and the ability to keep wild fish here has drawn the crowds from the Smith River, putting intense pressure on the fishery, but everyone was still catching big numbers of fish. The past week has been excellent for drift boaters and plunkers, but dropping flows were making things difficult by the weekend. Upcoming rains should spur more fish into the system.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-The river was still a little dirty Friday, but guide Mike Stratman of Redwood Coast Fishing gave it a try anyway, and they did land a couple of steelhead and missed a couple more. On Saturday, the river “shaped up nicely” and they hooked a “bunch of fish” on backtrolled plugs and sidedrifted roe.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers-Up and down flows dictate the fishing here, and timing is everything as fresh fish move in and up the rivers.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.- High flows have finally subsided on the lower Rogue River and plunkers are reporting good steelhead catches from the head of tide up to Agness. If has good color since the rains have held off for a while. Huntley Park and Lobster Creek have been plunking spots, and jetboaters are working close to shore with plugs. The lower Rogue fishes best just as the Chetco or Smith are getting low and clear.
RUSSIAN RIVER-The river was turning a muddy green at Guerneville on Sunday and will take a few more days to be fishable, but there were 8 or 9 boats on the Healdsburg run, according to Steve Jackson at Kings Sport and Tackle, and they “caught a couple on bait.” The river was running 1700 cfs up there, and getting better every day. A few fish came in for driftboaters from Wohler to Healdsgurg. Steelheading shold be “great” by the end of the week, he said. Returns to the Warm Springs hatchery are way up from last year with 80 fish in the hatchery and 30 in the raceway. Only 20 fish returned last year.
SMITH RIVER-It was good to great fishing all week, with guides putting their clients onto bright steelies every day-sometimes 5 to 7 fish a day. Most are wild and need to be released, but there are hatchery fish to be had. The crowds have mostly headed north to the Chetco where they can keep wild fish. Rain is in the forecast, and that would bring the steelies out of the riffles and back into the main river flows, according to guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service.
UMPQUA RIVER, Roseburg, Ore.—The steelhead fishing is in full swing on all 3 Umpqua Rivers, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. The Main Umpqua has fnally, after a long wait, dropped to a low enough height that the driftboats are having some nice catches, while the bank anglers are still taking home limits. The south Umpqua River has been fair fishing all week and is going to be even better next week. “I drifted a section of the North Umpqua on Saturday and had the time of my life catching early winter steelhead,” Palmer said. “very direction an angler goes from Roseburg, there is fantastic steelheading.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-The river has cleared nicely below tributaries all the way down to below the Trinity’s mouth, but it’s been extremely cold and steelhead have been reluctant to bite. Anglers were catching several half-pounders and a couple of adults to 5 pounds an outing on back-trolled crawdad plugs and Hot Shots, nightcrawlers and roe drifted and backtrolled behind a Hot Shot. Below the Trinity’s mouth a few larger steelhead, which are on their way to the Trinity, have been biting Blue Fox spinners.
TRINITY RIVER, Lewiston-Fishing was pretty good in the upper river for the first half of the week, but then clouds departed, temperature dropped substantially, and fishing became much tougher. Instead of several grabs an outing, the hookup rate declined to 1 to 3. Drifted roe and backtrolled plugs, as well as nymphs dead-drifted under indicators were producing results, but anglers were clearing ice out of guides until late in the morning.
TRINITY RIVER, South Fork-The river is fishable all the way to the mouth, and, while the action is anything but fast, anglers have a good shot at big wild steelhead weighing over 10 pounds, headed for major tributaries of the Trinity and will face very little pressure.
BAY POINT-Jeff Renfanvt of BS Bait and Tackle said a couple keeper sturgeon measuring 63 and 59 inches came by the shop, and some striped bass action resulted in fish to 15 pounds. The sturgeon came on grass and a grass/eel combo, while the stripers are hitting bullheads, gobies (mudsuckers) and splittails. Top spot for the stugeon was Middle Grounds at the Firing Line, while the striped bass were biting near Antioch.
BENICIA-Curtis Hayes at Benicia bait said keeper fish were a little tough to find, he blamed the slow bite on chilly water temperatures. “There were some sturgeon caught in the Napa River above Highway 37,” said Hayes. “San Pablo Bay has been best in 10 feet of water east of the Pumphouse, and at the turn of the high tide at the mouth of Sonoma Creek.”
BERKELEY-“The crab and shrimp pots are still out there, but that’s it,” reported Scott Sutherland at Berkeley Sportfishing. “No sturgeon yet.” He said the boat operators are already looking forward to potentially having live bait in March.
BODEGA BAY- “I haven’t made it out in a month and a half,” said Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler. “We tried to get out for Humboldt squid on Sunday, made it half way out, and had to turn back.” The weather gets the main blame for the lack of Humboldts. “Normally, January and February are our best months,” said Powers. Crabbing continues for the private boats, but most of the charter boats have pulled the plug, their customers so loaded up with crabs that they won’t need to go out for more until next year.
CROCKETT- Captain Gordon Hough on the Morning Star said that both his planned trips were cancelled, but he’s got high expectations when the tides become prime from Thursday on in this coming week.
FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar said crabbing remained excellent with his trip on Saturday finding limits for 11 anglers after an hour soak. “Our shallow string in 60 feet of water had an average of 6 keeper sper pot,” said Thornton. “The best one was plugged with 13 keepers and 18 throwbacks!” The deeper string had about half the success, but they still pulled 110 limits of Dungeness without having to pull the full string.
HALF MOON BAY-Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat reported more chilipepper research action, and wide open crabbing that hasn’t failed to produce limits yet. On Friday, his group was thinking combo sanddabs and crabs, but the weather made holding the bottom impossible, and they switched to crabs for limits. On Saturday, another group wanted ‘dabs and crabs, but with Friday’s trip fresh in mind, Mattusch opted for crab only, and they scored 16 limits.
LOCH LOMOND-Captain Jim Cox of Jim Cox Sportfishing took a family trip with his brother-in-law and nephews out for sturgeon, and while tides were lackluster, the nephews both got to feel the tug of a sturgeon, one a 51-inch keeper. He’s been fishing San Pablo Bay with shrimp baits.
MARTINEZ-Lisa Rezentes at Martinez Bait and Tackle said a big sturgeon was weighed in, but overall the bite was slow. Water temperature was 46 degrees. The one big one hit at Buoy 6, the fish measuring 65 inches and weighing 74.5 pounds.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-The water is very cold here, low 40s and not much is biting. The upper end of the lake has been fairly calm and is clearing. The other two arms of the lake have had some wind but are clearing up as well. Very few have been fishing and those who have, report the live bait almost as bad as the artificial bite. Even the catfish have been lethargic. While checking gear and waiting for better conditions, don’t forget this year’s quagga mussel inspection and sticker for your boat.
LAKE BERRYESSA-Fishing has been slow, which may explain why very few have being fishing here. Bass guide Don Paganelli reported the bass bite as “fair” with most fish caught on drop-shot rigs fished off points and in creek channels. Fish are scattered but can be found if you take your time and use your electronics.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-There were a few trout caught trolling but very few anglers were on the water with very cold conditions. With no plants for the past few weeks, it will continue to be quiet here. When you do return, if you’re bringing your boat, don’t forget this year’s quagga mussel inspection and sticker, they are required on all Lake County waters.
LAKE ALMANOR-Sunny days brought the trout up and the anglers out. The Canyon Dam ramp was dry and useable, and there were plenty of fish on the east side. Bank anglers working around the ramp did fair by floating baits off the bottom, or injecting nightcrawlers with scents and rigging them 42 inches down under torpedo bobbers.
BAUM LAKE-Good trout fishing is good here in the winter and fly anglers are using woolly buggers, leech patterns, and small dries or large caddis type flies. Power Bait or nightcrawlers are also favorites here, as are Kastmasters. Check road conditions before going up.
IRON CANYON RESERVOIR- Flows are low and trout have been suspended just below the surface feeding, but there were no new reports. The road in has been passable but check before you come up.
PIT RIVER-The water continues to flow high, cold and colored. The road is open and the Lake Britton dam crossing should also be open but check. Flows should remain at 300 cfs from now throughout the summer.
LAKE SHASTA-Big schools of shad were metered in the top 20 feet and the trout have been filling up on them. In the Jones Valley area and up in the Pit arm, nice fat rainbow trout to 17 inches were easy targets for anglers trolling three to four colors out. This coming week look for an abundance of bass boats, as there is a large tournament here. The reaction bite is done, so it’s back to the plastics in shad patterns out to 35 feet.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 45-percent capacity. The ice is thick enough for fishing at the dam, but Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that few people have reported any success yet. Temps have been in the single digits, so the ice will just get thicker and safer.
CAPLES LAKE-The lake is at 85-percent capacity. The ice is 1 to 2 feet thick and ice fishermen have been picking up a mix of rainbows and browns on worms, Pautzke’s Fire Bait, and jigged spoons. It has been very cold, so be prepared!!
CARSON RIVER (East)-It has been very cold-10-degrees-and most fishermen are opting to stay home until it’s a lot warmer. As of Sunday, there was still some snow on the ground along the river, according to Todd Sodaro at Carson River Resort.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported good ice fishing at the dam where the ice is 6 inches thick. The rainbows, running 14 to 18 inches, are suspended 6 to 8 feet under the ice and hitting Pautzke’s Fire Bait and small 1/16-ounce green tube baits tipped with a piece of worm.
DONNER LAKE-The lake is at 42-percent capacity. This lake doesn’t freeze over often, but no one has been fishing off the shore. It has been bitterly cold, and most people are skiing instead, to take advantage of the great snow conditions.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 43-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the ice at the dam was 6 inches thick in most places but to use EXTREME CAUTION while on the ice-in some places the ice isn’t as thick! Anglers are catching limits of 12- to 20-inch rainbows on nightcrawlers and Power Bait.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 62-percent capacity. Snow and ice on the roads make for difficult access-4-wheel drive only. Better yet, wait until spring or head down to a lower elevation lake where roads are safer and it isn’t so cold.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The road to the lake from Hwy 89 still has a foot or so of snow on it and access is difficult. Some people are snowmobiling into the lake. Carson River Resort had no reports of any success by anglers.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-The lake is full and spilling. Josh Orman of Pollock Pines landed 5 Mackinaws, 2 to 4 pounders, trolling a Needlefish 30 feet deep in the channel between the island and the second dam. Shore anglers have reported poor success.
LAKE TAHOE-Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters reported good action on macks on the bottom in 350 feet of water on Sling Blade/Koke-a-nuts. Trolling for rainbows with Rapalas and River2Sea lures also produced some 4- to 5-pound macks in 40 to 50 feet of water. John Shearer at Tahoe Sportfishing reported good Mackinaw action all along the South Shore trolling flasher/minnow rigs for 4 to 5 pounders.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Some anglers are ice fishing at the dam, but few people have reported any success to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
PYRAMID LAKE-John Wadden at Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that a customer caught 15 fish this past week trolling Apex and Lyman lures in a silver/black pattern at 40 feet deep. The fish all measured 17 to 23 3/4 inches.
RED LAKE-According to Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station, some people have been ice fishing but didn’t report any success.
SILVER LAKE-The lake is at 45-percent capacity. The ice is 1 to 2 feet thick. A friend of Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station fished here this past week through the ice using an existing hole and landed 2 browns and 3 rainbows in 2 1/2 hours on worms.
TOPAZ LAKE-The lake is at about 75-percent capacity. Very cold and windy conditions here were making it tough on boaters. Trollers who stuck it out were picking up a few rainbows on toplined Rapalas. Shore anglers were doing pretty well on Power Bait and Berkley Power Trout Worms-one angler picked up two nice fish, a 3 pounder and another one at 2 1/4 pounds. The ramps are open at Topaz Landing and the County Park.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Very cold weather and water. Expert fly fishermen report having a good day with 1 or 2 fish, but you have to hit them on the nose with the fly to get bit. More snow is in the forecast this week.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 73-percent capacity. As of Thursday, SMUD had not had a chance to plow the road to the dam off Pea Vine Ridge. The road, even if plowed, stays rough and icy-not a place for the timid to be towing a boat!
AMERICAN RIVER-Flows are still too heavy for good fishing. The river is only open to fishing below the Hwy 49 crossing.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Several bass boats were on the lake on Sunday, but no one had reported any catches to Emerald Cove Marina. The spotted bass bite was most likely slow due to the clear weather of the past week, but rain in the forecast for this week should improve the fishing. Swimbaits and Senkos should produce on main body points from 30 to 60 feet deep.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake is full and spilling over the dam. With muddy water and cold foggy weather, the bite has been very slow with anglers reporting only an occasional bass for a day’s fishing.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake is full and spilling 6 inches over the dam. Anglers are still picking up plenty of rainbows with the bigger fish running 3 to 3 1/2 pounds. Shore anglers are doing well all over the lake with worms and Power Bait.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Cold foggy weather put a damper on the number of anglers visiting the lake-the bite has been very slow.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 64-percent capacity-only 95 feet from full. A Saturday bass tournament was won with 14 pounds. Most of the action was on worms, jigs and tubes in browns and purples fished very slowly in 5 to 25 feet of water. The foggy cold weather the area has seen all this past week has made fishing uncomfortable at best for most anglers.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is full. The water is murky and cold-not a good combination for successful fishing. Long Ravine Resort reported very few anglers getting out and no one reporting any catches.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The lake is full and spilling over the dam. The water clarity is good. The weather has been cold and very few anglers have been out, according to Jim Caldwell at Scott’s Flat Lake Resort.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-It’s been cold and icy with few, if any, anglers visiting the lake.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is full and spilling. The road to the lake is icy and requires 4-wheel drive. There haven’t been any recent reports coming into the Georgetown Ranger Station, but fishing was good for those making the trip a week or so ago.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Cold and foggy weather has made for slow fishing. Oroville Outdoors reported that there have been no reports of any success by anglers here in some time.
AMERICAN RIVER-Flows dropped to a quite fishable 5,000 cfs and there were plenty of steelhead present in the river, judging by the number of fish in the holding pond at Nimbus Hatchery, but there were few anglers fishing for them. The Parking areas at Nimbus Flat and at the Hatchery remained closed, possibly deterring anglers from making the short hike to the water. However, there were reports of steelhead being caught in Nimbus Basin during high flows-on flies no less-and below the hatchery.
FEATHER RIVER-Steelheading improved dramatically last weekend on the Low Flow Section of the Feather River as compared with opening weekend. Berkley Gulp worms in the salmon egg pattern were particularly effective when fished with a one-eighth ounce jighead. Fly fishers were scoring on beadhead flashback pheasant tail nymphs in No. 12 and 14. Bedrock Park was one of the better spots.
FOLSOM LAKE-Water visibility was improving and inflow rates declining, but cold water depressed the bass bite. A few were biting drop-shotted Robo-worms along creek channel edges. Some king salmon were being caught up the North Fork above Rattlesnake Bar by trollers and by drop-shotting bass fishermen.
LAKE NATOMAS-Fishing is typically tough at Lake Natomas, but winter time is the best time of year to fish for bass there, especially in the back coves, which are normally too weedy and warm to fish during hot summer months. As proof, last week a 7-pound largemouth bass was caught on a spinner.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-The river is still high but dropping and visibility is improving. Sturgeon were being caught in the Deep Water Channel, Lisbon Slough, and above Knight’s Landing. Pileworms and ghost shrimp were accounting for most of the fish. Reports of striped bass were few and far between.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Flows were dropping, and trout fishing was pretty good on nymphs fished under indicators and drifted Glo-Bugs. Flow-based boat passage restrictions have been removed at the Cypress Street Bridge.