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.-Off and on rainstorms had the river up and down, but it was great steelhead fishing for either plunkers or sidedrifters most of the week. It was way blown out again on Sunday, but was expected to be back in good shape by the middle of the week. This is prime steelhead time here now.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-Rains had the river up and down, and on Sunday it was hit again and blown out, but between the storms, it was a world class fishery with lots of 9- to 12-pound steelies caught and some larger ones in the system. It was expected to be fishable this coming week with a good forecast in the future.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.–This update on the river comes from a conversation with the fish counter on the river Saturday via WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. There have been a couple steelhead on most days being harvested, with the story of a boat having to release the occasional native steelhead also. There seem to be a few more natives than hatchery steelhead being caught. Jon Nickles, a bank angler who has been spending several weekends fishing bobbers/eggs at Elephant Rock, said that the river was rising fast and that most of the holes he fishes are empty of the Chinooks he had been fishing for all season. Up until last weekend he had been catching a few chrome fish a day. The steelhead fishing will probably remain spotty until the middle of February when the flow of fish entering the river becomes more steady. Guide and Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said he fished it late last week and caught 3 or 4, and a few salmon were still in the river.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.- Heavy rains and melting snow have limited the number of days this month the lower Rogue River has been fishable, but each time the river has dropped into shape, limits of steelhead have been common, according to the Rogue Outdoor Store. Jet boaters ancoring in the soft water between the old mill and the mouth of the Illinois River have reported good catches, sometimes into double-digit hookups. Plunkers fishing the gravel bars at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek also have scored. But the river has only been fishable half the month so far. Steelhead on the Rogue have been running bigger than average this season, with numerous fish in the mid-teens taken. Most boaters are anchoring and running plugs.
RUSSIAN RIVER-According to Scott at Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville, the river was in shape and fishing well for steelhead until the big rain on Thursday when the upstream reservoir dumped “a slug of mud” into the river. It was greening up on Sunday, though, and he said it would be fishing this week. Before the rain, fish were being caught all the way to Cloverdale. It was a mix of both hatchery and wild fish, and anglers can keep two hatchery steelies over 16 inches. The number of fish in the hatchery doubled again since last week, when twice the number of fish as last year had been counted. The forecast is for dry weather.
SMITH RIVER-Early in the week it was low and clear, but fish were being caught out of the riffles every day. Then a storm came in, the river went up 6 feet and fishing improved greatly. Another storm hit over the weekend and the river river came up again, but it was cresting on Sunday night and expected to be in great shape this week, with plenty of steelhead available.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.—Half dozen fish days are easily found without much effort, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “On some days I have seen the numbers of winter steelhead being released in the mid-teens from my driftboat. It is still early in the season for those numbers of fish to become an everyday occurrence.” He said the river had been low with over a 10 foot visibility up until Friday morning when it rose from 3.8 feet the day before to 8.14 ft. that morning. This winter has been unpredictable and overly wet. “So if you are planning on coming to Southern Oregon for some of our spectacular steelheading, try to plan on staying more than a single day just in case the weather decides to play with the water levels. If the rivers are in fishable condition your entire stay, you will be glad that you made arrangements to stay longer.”
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.–Lawson Bar down to the town of Myrtle Creek was the most drifted section of river last week until the snow level went up, causing the river to rise at the same time. “Most of the reports I have received are the same,” said Palmer. “Single digit catches of steelhead and all of them are bright natives that have to be released. One big question is being asked at the end of the day at the boat ramps: Where is this huge run of hatchery steelhead that is suppose to be returning this year? If they start to appear and in the projected numbers I will be greatly surprised.” This river is long and has many access points. By this time of the season all of the drifts have quality steelhead passing through on their way to spawning grounds.
Umpqua River, Main Stem; Elkton, Oregon–A few driftboats were able to find a spot or two for drifting by the middle of the week as the river became low enough to drift safely, although on Friday the river was back up to levels far too high for driftboats to be running the river. Now the Tyee area downstream to Scottsburg has been producing good numbers of native steelhead over the last week again. It is illegal to retain a native steelhead on this river. An OSP (Oregon State Police) Game Officer said that he arrested a pair of anglers earlier this week for keeping a couple of native steelhead. “The Game Officer made it very clear to me that more of these type of offenders are going to be getting booked for these kinds of crimes in a hope to slow the poaching down,” saidl Palmer. The river is expected to remain high into the later part of next week.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-The river has cleared to well below the upper tributaries down to nearly the mouth of the Trinity, but extremely cold weather has slowed the bite to just a couple of small adults to 4 pounds per outing, according to Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service. He’s tried just about every steelhead lure and bait, but back-trolled crawdad plugs have been getting most of the bites.
TRINITY RIVER, Lewiston-The river blew out early in the week, but the river cleared and fishing picked up toward the end of the week, at least for anglers using plugs and bait to get down deep where the steelies were holding. Instead of one or two fish on per outing, driftboaters were scoring up to half a dozen hookups. Fly fishers were having a bit tougher time of it. Try darker plugs on bright days, brighter plugs when the water is off-color.
TRINITY RIVER, South Fork-The river was fishing good below the North Fork until the latest storms hit early in the week, and, according to Ed Duggan of “D” Guide Service, was still off-color below the North Fork by the weekend. However, there’s been a break in the weather, and the river should be fishable again by the time this issue of WON hits the stands and mailboxes. As always for Northern California steelhead rivers, call ahead before making the trip.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Warmer weather this past week and also in the forecast for this week has and will continue to thin the ice enough here to make fishing dangerous. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports suggested that anglers should wait until colder nights return to the area and let the ice thicken before venturing back out for fishing.
CAPLES LAKE-Caples Lake Resort reported that people are fishing through 2 feet of ice and a couple feet of snow for a mix of rainbows and browns. The weather this past week was beautiful and more good weather is in the forecast for this week.
CARSON RIVER (East)-Beautiful weather has brought daytime temps into the 60’s melting most of the snow along the river. Flows are up a little with the snowmelt, but the water clarity is still good. Some anglers have been parking at Hangman’s Bridge and fishing downstream. Todd Sodaro at Carson River Resort had not talked to any anglers, but conditions were very good, so fishing should be okay.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that the warm weather has softened the ice a little, but it is still 6 inches thick-thick enough for anglers alone, just no ATV’s. The warm weather has the road to Mallard Point passable with 4-wheel drive where anglers can walk out toward the island. Dillard has been catching fish at 13 to 15 feet below the ice in Power Bait and worms, or 6 to 8 feet down with green tube jigs tipped with worm. The rainbows are running 14 to 18 inches. Dillard is donating a fishing trip for three to be raffled off at the ISE Cal-Expo Youth Fair this weekend.
DONNER LAKE-The warm weather has cleared the boat ramp and anglers are out trolling and jigging for Mackinaws.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 43-percent capacity. Ice fishing at the dam is producing rainbows up to 18 inches.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 60-percent capacity. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Guide Service said that the warm weather the area has seen over the past week has most likely opened the road to the lake and fishing should be good.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-Warm weather has been melting the snow, but there is still some on the road to the lake from Hwy 89. One angler reported catching a 10-pound rainbow off the bank this past week. This fish was surely from the Alpine County plant made in November, 2010.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Lots of trollers out over the weekend with the beautiful weather but few reports of any success. One shore angler reported picking up 3 nice holdover rainbows on Power Bait while fishing at the peninsula picnic area.
LAKE TAHOE-Fishing has been good for macks. The big problem for people coming up to Tahoe to get on the charter boats is the lack of places to get a one-day license-boat skippers were able to sell a license on the boat before the new computer only license sales kicked in. Now they have to have an office with a dedicated Internet line to sell licenses and wireless connections are not allowed. Fishing guides are losing a lot of business because of this issue. Those boats getting out have been picking up 2- to 8-pound mackinaws trolling minnows or minnow imitations at 165 to 220 feet.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 31-percent capacity. The ice is still thick enough here for fishing but watch out for soft ice along the rocky shore at the dam. The rocks absorb heat and melt the ice around them making the transition to the hard ice further from the bank a possible safety hazard. Fishing has been good at the dam for anglers using worms, Pautzke’s Fire Bait, and jigged spoons and Gulp! Minnows.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters had his best big fish day ever when his clients landed 10-pound, 2-ounce, 8 1/4-, and 8-pound cutthroats trolling frog Flatfish in 16 to 17 feet of water at the North and South Nets. Smaller boats should get up shallower if possible for a chance at some big fish in 10 to 15 feet of water.
RED LAKE-Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station reported “fairly good action” for ice fishermen working the area in front of the dam with worms, Pautzke’s Fire Bait, and jigged Kastmaster spoons. Bill Karr, WON Editor, stopped here on Sunday and observed one family with brookies and cutthroat caught just 20 feet off the dam on small salad shrimp. Nathan Ashlock of Orinda and Randy Bodmer of Santa Rosa fished on Sunday off Hwy 88 side of the lake on a point where springs made a little open water and caught several brookies and cutthroats including one big, hook-jawed brookie on Power Bait doused with Pautzke’s flavor sauce.
SILVER LAKE- Same as Red Lake, fairly good action near the dam with worms, Power Bait, and jigged spoons. The weather has been beautiful.
TOPAZ LAKE-The Topaz Lodge Annual Trout Derby runs until April 10. A bunch of tagged fish have been released and the tags are worth $100 cash. Every fish over 2 pounds can get a drawing ticket for an end of derby raffle for cash and merchandise prizes. Fish must be weighed in at the Topaz Lodge General Store. Fishing has been good for trollers and shore anglers according to Linda Fields at Topaz Landing Marina. Trollers are doing well toplining F-7 Rapalas in hot steel, perch, and fire tiger. Shore fishing has been good at the County Park and the north end, but anglers need to use caution due to the muddy banks.
TRUCKEE RIVER-The warmer weather has triggered some BWO hatches and fish are hitting all stages-dries, emergers, and nymphs-in sizes 20 to 24. Most of the winter action has been on baetis and midge patterns. The warm weather has melted a lot of snow making access much easier.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 69-percent capacity. Dale Daneman reported that some friends of Project Kokanee made it into the lake at the dam off Pea Vine Ridge, but didn’t report much success.
BAY POINT-Slow except for the word of a flurry of sturgeon action in Little Cut, said Jeff Renfanvt at BS Bait. A few party boats trying in the area said the sturgeon were stacked up. Striper fishing was slow, with no fish reported caught.
BENICIA-Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said they haven’t weighed any fish in, but there are plenty of anglers fishing the Benicia shoreline for striped bass. For sturgeon, San Pablo Bay topped the bet for anglers soaking grass and ghost shrimp (mud shrimp is hard to get right now).
BODEGA BAY- Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler tried for Humboldt squid on Sunday, but once again had to turn around due to weather. “We’re still booking crab trips for the six-pack boats, and they are catching plenty of Dungeness crabs,” said Powers.
CROCKETT-Captain Gordon Hough reported some good sturgeon action on the Morning Star, the boat running three days and finding several keepers and some high shaker action also. The hot bite came from the flats around the Pumphouse in San Pablo Bay during the outgoing tide. “It doesn’t seem to matter where you are, when the bay gets muddied up with the fast tides, the fish start biting,” said Hough.
EMERYVILLE-The landing has a sturgeon trip scheduled for Saturday, but Emeryville Sportfishing has been closed most of the month of January, so no reports.
EUREKA-Crabbing is still a good bet when the boats can get out. Top spots are outside the mouth of Humboldt Bay and out of Trinidad for those with boats that can beach launch.
FORT BRAGG-Still plenty of Dungeness crabs around, with Captain Randy Thornton running two trips, one a “fun” trip with a former deckhand and his nephew and friends who caught 7 crab limits while pulling only nine pots. On Saturday, a trip with 13 passengers and crew pulled near limits from his two strings, then turned around an finished with limits after pulling 10 pots the second time. “They are a great grade, nearly all the crabs the first round were commercial grade,” said Thornton.
HALF MOON BAY-While the Humboldt squid action has been nearly nonexistent, Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat did hear of one caught. “The Humboldt squid fishing has definitely slowed down,” said Mattusch. Crabbing has also slowed, but trips are still producing limits of Dungeness, it just takes a few more pots, and a little more time to do it.
MARTINEZ-Shoreline striper action and some sturgeon showing at the Ozol topped the reports out of Martinez Bait and Tackle. Lisa Rezentes said that there are plenty of fish out there, just not too many bringing their catch to the shop. Captain Steve Talmadge on Flash Fishing said his trips are all working out about the same with shakers and one keeper per trip earlier, and mostly shaker action later in the week, along with some striped bass.
SAN PABLO BAY-The top bet for sturgeon fishing, with good reports from around the Pumphouse, China Camp and Sonoma Creek. A plethora of baits are working, including pile worms, ghost shrimp and grass shrimp. Mud shrimp has been hard to find, otherwise, they would be on the list also. Tides slow this week, but will pick back up the following week.
AMERICAN RIVER-Flows continued to drop to a very fishable 3,500 cfs, but still a bit high, by the weekend. Fishing was pretty good for small steelhead to a couple of pounds on Friday, but fishing pressure was quite heavy by Saturday, and the success rate dropped off significantly. Mostly small steelhead were taking backtrolled plugs, roe and marabou jigs fished under a float, nightcrawlers and roe behind deep divers, and nymphs under indicators.
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 1/8th-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-Some nice trout and king salmon were being caught by trollers fishing near the surface down to 15 feet with Speedy Shiners, small Rapalas, hoochies and Radical Glo Tubes behind dodgers. Work the main body from the Granite Bay Boat Ramp, in front of the dam, and by Brown’s Ravine. A few bass were being caught on drop-shotted Robo-worms along creek channel edges from 15 to 30 feet deep.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-The river is dropping and clearing, and some sturgeon were being caught in the Deep Water Channel by Marshall Ave. However, striped bass fishing was slow. Pileworms and ghost shrimp were the best baits.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-No change. Water conditions were good, and so was the fishing for trout to 3 pounds on nymphs fished under indicators and drifted Glo-Bugs.
AMERICAN RIVER-Flows are down a little with the clear weather seen this past week, but it’s still cold and few, if any, anglers are out.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 75-percent capacity. Spots up to 4 pounds were hitting jigged Sweet Beavers at 50 to 80 feet on main body points for Jason Kincannon and friend when WON called on Sunday. There were plenty of small fish hitting, too.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake is still spilling over the dam, but the water clarity has improved with the good weather seen this past week. A 10 to 15 boat bass tournament was out on Sunday but no results were available by press time. An angler out on Saturday reported good bass action.
COLLINS LAKE-The fall planting program is still producing 2 or 3 fish per angler for trollers and shore fishermen. The beach was the most productive spot this past week for shore anglers using Pautzke’s Fire Bait or Power Bait-mostly 2 to 3 pounders. Some limits of bass came out of the brush along the east side this past week for regular, Dave Callison.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Trollers have been fishing the marina, but few fish have been caught with the cold water temps.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 65-percent capacity-up about five more feet this past week. Cold water temps have slowed the bite for bigger fish. One angler reported picking up a 6-pound limit off the dam on spinnerbaits-little fish! Drop-shot and dart-headed worms work on the points from 5 to 30 feet.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is full and the clarity was improving with the calmer weather seen this past week. One angler picked up a 6-pound brown trout trolling above the waterfall up near the inlet.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The lake is full with good water clarity, just too cold for anglers to want to spend a day freezing to death. Warmer weather is in the forecast for this week, so things might pick up with a little.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-Little to report from here. Not much snow at this level, but few anglers have made any reports about the fishing.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The road to the lake is best traveled by 4-wheel drive. Shore anglers have reported some success and another canoeist hauled his boat to the lake for some trolling. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that things have been “pretty quiet” on the recreation front.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Oroville Outdoors reported little fishing activity here with the cold foggy weather
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-Whether fishing day or night, expect only a few fish as the water is cold and bass are lethargic. The good news has been that their sizes have been decent, with a few larger bass were caught by the late night crowd. The only pattern for either was that if one fish was caught, there were a few more nearby. Stick with it if you get bit. A few catfish are being taken on baits.
LAKE BERRYESSA-Bass guide Don Paganelli reported the bass bite as fair for those willing to put in the time. Drop-shot Robo Worms on points and creek channels, as well as jigs and spoons have been the best producers. Carolina rigged plastics like Brush Hogs and Robo Worms worked very slowly should get them to bite. Most of the bass have been in the 1- to 2-pound range. If you are a fan of this lake and or Paganelli’s Bass Fishing Experience, one lucky youth can win a free guided trip here with him at WON’s Youth Fair inside the Sacramento ISE show this coming week. The Youth Fair opens at 3:00 on Friday, with free youth raffles on Saturday and Sunday.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-There were a few trout caught trolling but very few anglers were on the water with very cold conditions and with no recent plants, it will continue to be quiet here. Bass fishing has been fair for the drop-shot and jigging crowd as typical winter tactics are paying off for a few along the highway. If you’re bringing your boat here, don’t forget this year’s quagga mussel inspection and sticker, they are required on all Lake County waters.
LAKE ALMANOR-Sunny days continue to find a few trollers on the east side by the dam working side planers close to shore for some rainbow trout to 2 pounds. 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-Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney reported a good on and off bite for trout to 3 pounds depending on the weather. All the usual worked when they cooperated including Power baits, Kastmasters, nightcrawlers, and for fly anglers, woolly buggers, leech patterns and a few small dry flies. 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. No new reports were available.
LAKE SHASTA-Very few schools of bait were seen or metered, especially in the main body. The lake is in its winter fishing pattern for both bass and trout. In both cases, head to the arms of the lake where there has been a better chance of finding bait. For bass it’s been all about drop-shotting and dart heading Mother’s Finest in blue craw or shad patterns out to 50 feet although jigs are also working. Overall it’s been a tough bite for bass. With a lot of bass tournaments going on, the trout trollers have away.