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.-An absolute zoo up here as it was the only river with good fishing conditions, and the steelhead were hit so hard the catch-rate was way down, although fish were still being caught. Action should improve as other rivers come into shape, and the pressure goes down as anglers to other rivers. There are concerns about the law allowing the take of wild steelhead here, especially with the huge numbers of anglers on the river and the resultant fishing pressure.
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork Ore.-The big push of steelhead had already moved through, according to one WON reader, but they still caught fish every day, including 6 on one day. One was a 13-pound hatchery Hen, said Kris Ocel.
EEL RIVER-The river was big, but green this past week, and should come into shape within a few more days, considering there’s no rain in the forecast. It hasn’t really been fishable all season.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-It’s been fishable all week and some boats are doing great with up to a dozen fish, while others are going zip if they’re in the wrong spot, according to guide Mike Stratman of Redwood Coast Fishing. Another WON reader who fished the river last week said the lower river would probably have the best conditions this week.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.–The Rogue River slowly fell into shape over the weekend and plunkers reported decent fishing for steelhead and had high hopes for the upcoming week.The Rogue was flowing at 11,000 cfs at Agness on Sunday, still high but fishable. The water was a brownish green color. The river reached 30,000 cfs on Jan. 17 and had dropped nearly six feet since it crested. Plunkers were getting some steelhead at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek, and the Willows. Look at prime conditions this weekend.
RUSSIAN RIVER-The river was in great shape and color, and a few boats were getting fish, but generally during the week anglers were pretty disappointed. A report from Steve Jackson on Sunday night indicated that might be turning around, as bankies, fly guys and drifters were finding some decent fishing on Sunday. Now is the time, and the flows are good, so everyone’s hoping for a fresh surge of steelhead.
SMITH RIVER-Low and clear over the weekend, with fish in the “one shot slots” according to guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Fishing. He said the afternoons are better with water temps going up from 46 to 48 in the p.m. Nice fish are still in the river, but it takes some stealth fishing to get them.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate-The river above the Scott River was in good fishable shape as to water level and clarity, but anglers were working hard for a few steelhead adults to about 5 pounds and a like number of half-pounder steelhead/trout. Downstream of the Scott toward Happy Camp, the river was higher but clear, and a few driftboats were out on the water pulling plugs and sidedrifting roe for a like number of fish. The Klamath will need a little more time to become fishable down around Orleans and below.
TRINITY RIVER, North Fork-The river was high but fishable immediately below the North Fork, but steelhead and most fishing success have been upstream of that point.
TRINITY RIVER, Junction City-Steelhead fishing improved throughout the week as the river continued to drop and clear. Good anglers were getting around 4 hookups a day on a mix of wild and hatchery steelhead to 10 pounds. Fishing pressure from Douglas City to Junction City wasn’t all that bad, but lots more anglers were working the water upstream toward Lewiston . Drifting roe and backtrolling Hot Shots and Brad’s Wigglers were the most productive methods for anglers using spin- and congenital gear. Fly fishers were scoring on nymphs drifted under indicators. Try golden stones, blue and red copper Johns.
AMERICAN RIVER-The flows are up with all the snow melting due to the beautiful weather and lots of folks are out hiking and picnicking, but there are few fishermen.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. National bass fishing champion, Skeet Reese, visited the lake this past week before his appearance at the Cal-Expo ISE show and reported tough fishing conditions. Reese said he caught three fish-3-, 4-, and 5-pound spots-on swimbaits. Reese said the fish were either suspended at 20 to 30 feet or on the bottom in 50 to 60 feet of water on main body points.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake is full and the water is still pretty dirty. With the cold clear weather, fishing has been very slow and North Shore Resort has not received any reports of any fish being caught. Cold, dirty water always makes for tough fishing-wait until the water clears and warms up a little.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake is full with 2-foot visibility. The sunny weather brought out a lot of people, but limits were hard to come by for trout fishermen. Boaters out on the main lake complained about the wind on Saturday, but the area around the marina was not affected. The biggest fish of the week was a 4 pounder caught by John Hunders while fishing at the beach with Power Eggs.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is full and the weather is beautiful. Skippers Cove Marina reported that very anglers were on the lake all this past week.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 67-percent capacity. The bite has been tough but the quality of the fish has been pretty good for anglers pre-fishing for the Angler’s Choice Pro-Am coming up this weekend. Bruce Gibson from Paradise Tackle Company and his buddy Steve Consalvi of Clear Lake had already caught two big spots–4- and 5-pounds-on brown/green pumpkin jigs at 35 to 45 feet deep on grassy banks near the dam when WON called on Sunday morning. If a mud line forms on the lake due to wind or boat traffic, the fish are moving up shallow. The reaction bite has been slow in the 45-degree water. Anglers were doing pretty well this past in the West Branch throwing a green pumpkin Senko, wacky rigged on a 1/4-ounce jig head, on granite (blue rock) banks in stained water.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is full and no longer spilling. The water clarity has started to clear up with the nice weather. Plenty of boats are heading out on the lake according to Dee Wolffe at Long Ravine Resort but there haven’t been any reports of any fishing success.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-No report was available, but the lake is full and the weather has been beautiful.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, a couple of RVs made it up to the lake so the road access is good due to the warm weather. One boater was trolling and picking up some 14- to16-inch rainbows on flasher/worm combos. Shore anglers are doing well on Power Bait/worm combos.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Foggy and cold-tough fishing with few anglers out. Warmer weather will help the bite.
BAY POINT-Jeff Renfanvt at BS Tackle reported much better sturgeon action “out front” where he hooked two keepers, a 53 and a 58 incher, both released. He got his on grass/eel combos. There was also some good action in Honker Bay, Little Cut, and Garnet Point. Another angler brought in his $100 tagged sturgeon that measured 50 inches. While striper fishing wasn’t red hot, one customer reported hooking a lunker. “He said he’d never seen a striped bass head that big,” said Renfanvt, but unfortunately, shortly after seeing the head, the lunker shook the hook. Flounders were also on the chomp, mostly grabbing sturgeon baits.
BENICIA-Much improved sturgeon action, and some striper improvements as well, reported Pam Hayes at Benicia Bait. “There are lots of fish in San Pablo Bay,” she said. Grass and ghost shrimp have been the go to baits, along with mud shrimp, if you can find it. The Benicia shoreline showed some improvement with some stripers showing for anglers bank fishing with grass shrimp. Flounder started to show in the area also.
BERKELEY-Still not much going on, but a couple of the boats are looking at sturgeon trips.
BODEGA BAY- Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler finally found a good weather day to put in an all day hunt for Humboldt squid, finding a dead ocean as far as the cephalopods are concerned. “We had the chance to fish several spots in different depths, and couldn’t find anything!” said Powers. “We’re going to make another try if we get enough interested people.” He said that the scenario reminded him of back in the ’80s when the squid showed up for a couple years, then were gone for 15 years. “We’ve had them for six years now,” he noted.
CROCKETT-Captain Gordon Hough said the Morning Star had two trips, one on Thursday that fought windy weather conditions that made it impossible to fish effectively, but on Saturday, the bite was back in the far northwest corner of San Pablo Bay off the mouth of Sonoma Creek. His 11 anglers caught 4 keepers, one oversized fish and 9 shaker sturgeon while soaking grass and ghost shrimp.
EMERYVILLE-Still no trips, but a sturgeon effort is scheduled for Friday. The Captain Hook will be targeting South San Francisco Bay waters most likely, said Frank Salazar at Emeryville Sportfishing Center.
EUREKA-Dean Thomas at the Pro Sport Center said top bets are redtail surfperch on the beaches, and clams in the bay and up at Clam Beach. This year, the side of the beach that most clammers prefer is open, north of Strawberry Creek, so many are giving the minus tides, feeble as they may be, a shot already. The surfperch action has been best at Freshwater Lagoon Beach, Gold Bluffs Beach and Centerville Beach for anglers using squid pieces and sandcrabs or Berkley Gulp! sandworms cut into sections.
FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar ran two crabbing trips on the weekend, Saturday’s effort finding 7 easy limits although the gear was a little tossed up by the big swells that have been powering in. On Sunday, his group of 13 had to work a little harder, but still managed limits.
HALF MOON BAY-Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat ran some more crab trips, finding limits for his anglers. On Saturday, he was planning to take a group to watch Mavericks surfers, but apparently the contest was scrapped due to inadequate surf conditions.
MARTINEZ-Improved sturgeon action boosted enthusiasm at Martinez Bait and Tackle, and even Lisa Rezentes 10-year-old daughter got in on the action. Hannah caught a flounder and a 35-inch sturgeon (released) near Buoy 2. Other anglers caught keepers at Edith Point, and there was a keeper landed from the Martinez Pier.
POINT SAN PABLO-Captain Frank Miller on the Fury got out for sturgeon a couple times, finding a nice keeper for his clients on Sunday near the Pumphouse. “On Sunday, I had three anglers who caught one 60-inch keeper,” said Miller. An earlier trip produced a 50 incher for a San Francisco angler. The bites came on mud shrimp and pile worms.
AMERICAN RIVER-Most of the fishing success on the American River this past week has been in its uppermost sections, with Nimbus Basin producing the most action by far. The steelhead that entered during high water seem to have jetted upstream as fast and as far as they can-into the hatchery or into Nimbus Basin. However, the season is still new, with fresh steelhead arriving every day. And, with flows now down to a perfect-for-steelhead fishing flow of 2,500 cfs, there is a good chance they will slow down and tarry awhile on riffles up and down the river.
FEATHER RIVER-Steelheading was still pretty good in the Low Flow Section, but heavy pressure and clear water has meant that success rates were better during the week when it was easier to find fish that had not been disturbed by anglers. The riffles near Centennial Plaza and Bedrock Park, in Oroville have been consistent producers, at least when pressure has not been too heavy. Fly fishers were using a variety of nymphs and wet flies, salmon fry patterns, caddis, mayfly, or stonefly nymphs under indicators. A few were getting hookups swinging streamers. Drifting nightcrawlers and roe, or swinging spinners were scoring a few fish.
FOLSOM LAKE-Not much change. Some nice salmon and trout were being caught Toplining Rapalas and Speedy Shiners at a fairly fast speed, and running Apexes, Needlefish, and Hoochies on dodgers from 15 to 25 feet deep. The key to catching bass is to look for bait concentrations and fish slowly. Shad-patterned plastic worms and spoons seemed to produce best.
RANCHO SECO LAKE-This is a good spot and good time of year for a finding some nice trout in a natural looking small lake setting. Fish with Power Bait, Power Eggs, and Power Worms from shore for trout ranging from a pound to 5 pounds. Boaters in pontoon boats, kayaks, float tubes, and canoes did well on woolly buggers and Power Worms, Kastmasters, Apexes, and grubs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-Water conditions have stabilized, and fishing for sturgeon has been good around Hood, Verona, and off South River Road. There were unconfirmed reports that some striped bass were being caught around Verona, but striper fishing in other areas around Sacramento was slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knights Landing-Sturgeon fishing was very good last week, with quite a few being caught from shore, and even more from boats, although most boaters were giving themselves away only by coming into bait shops and buying lots of bait. Tisdale and Grimes were a couple of the better spots.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Flows out of Keswick Dam are at 6,000 cfs, ideal for fly fishing, and fishing has been pretty good, but best on overcast days. There are no flow-related boating restrictions any longer, so anglers can have chances for good fishing on floats from downtown Redding to the Barge Hole.
BOCA LAKE-Ice fishermen need to use caution near the edges due to soft ice caused by the warmer weather. The rocky shore the along the dam is particularly prone to this problem because the rocks absorb heat and melt the ice.
CAPLES LAKE-According to Caples Lake Resort, ice fishermen are catching a mix of rainbows and macks on nightcrawlers, Power Bait, and small spoons through 2 feet of ice. A 5 pounder was reportedly caught near the spillway this past week.
CARSON RIVER (East)-Warm weather into the 70’s has melted all the snow around the Carson River. Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported seeing trucks parked everyday at the Hangman’s Bridge to access the fishing on the trophy section downstream.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that the ice fishing was good at the dam, 100 to 150 yards out, using Power Bait and nightcrawlers suspended 15 feet below the ice. The rainbows are running 15 to 17 inches and fat. The ice is still 6 inches thick.
DONNER LAKE-Keith Zenker at Mountain Hardware and Sports trolled Lyman lures at 50 to 70 feet this past week and only picked up one 4 1/2 pound mack. He spoke to guide Keith Kerrigan who suggested spooning for macks in shallower water where they should be schooled up. The launch ramp is clear and capable of launching bigger boats though the lake level is low.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 44-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the dam area is still frozen but there is a lot of open water past the dam. Anglers are catching 4 or 5 fish each-12- to 18-inch rainbows-on nightcrawlers.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-Dale Daneman reported that one boater headed up to the lake and launched only to spend the day trying to avoid the big chunks of ice floating on the surface. When he came back to the launch ramp, his truck and trailer had slid across the parking lot on the ice while he was fishing. The boater landed two fish and lost two fish and talked to another boater who lost two brown trout. It would be a good idea to stay out of this area until it gets a lot warmer, especially if there is any chance that your truck will slide into the lake while you’re fishing!!
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The warm weather has melted a lot of snow in the area and the road only has 4 to 5 inches on it. It would still be a good idea to stick with a 4-wheel drive to access the lake, but the road is more passable than it has been. Only problem is that the lake has frozen over and the ice isn’t thick enough to support ice fishermen. You’ll either have to wait until the ice melts enough to create some open water, or hope it freezes thicker to allow ice fishing.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-The lake is scheduled for another DFG trout plant this week. The 1000 pounds of rainbows planted this past Wednesday were 8 to 10 inchers. The macks are already in the shallows feeding on the new fish-3 1/2-old Valerie Nicholson of Placerville landed a 20-inch mack on Power Bait at the first boat ramp where the DFG plant was made. Bret Johnson of Folsom landed five 18- to 20-inch Mackinaws while trolling a Needlefish just off the bottom in 90 feet of water in the channel between the island and the second dam.
LAKE TAHOE-Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported excellent action on his Sunday morning trip. In 3 1/2 hours, 4 clients landed over 20 fish, kept limits of 3 to 7 pounders, and released 12 to 15 one to four pounders. Self said the fish were hitting Coyote spoons and Rapalas at 165 to 225 feet. John Shearer at Tahoe Sportfishing reported limit action on 2 to 5 pounders trolling flasher/minnow rigs at Edgewood and Ski Run at 120 to 150 feet deep. His captains are picking up 15 to 20 fish in just a few hours.
PROSSER LAKE-The warm weather has caused some problems with soft, slushy ice. Ice fishermen need to use caution when getting on the ice along the edges of the lake, especially at the dam where the rocks absorb heat and melt the ice.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters had already picked up two nice fish in the 30 minutes before WON called on Sunday morning. Mendes said that he was fishing in 16 to 20 feet of water and trolling a bronze or frog U-20 Flatfish just off the bottom. Mendes wound up with 13 fish, 20 to 26 inches. Terrell Knight landed a 13 1/2 pounder at Spider Point on an olive woolly bugger.
RED LAKE-Ice fishing has been good at the dam and the point off the Hwy 88 side of the lake on nightcrawlers and Power Bait
SILVER LAKE-Ice fishing has been good at the dam on nightcrawlers, Pautzke’s Fire Bait, and small spoons through 2 feet of ice.
TOPAZ LAKE-Topaz Landing Marina reported that they were hosting a big private trout derby and so far the big fish was a 2 1/2 pounder. Most of the 25 boats were coming in with limits of 1 1/4-pound average rainbows taken on orange/gold, RBT, or perch Rapalas. Shore anglers are doing the best in the NW corner of the lake using Power Bait. Big fish for the week in the Topaz Lodge derby was a 3-pound, 14-ounce rainbow. Only 51 tagged fish have been caught since the derby started leaving more than half of those released still out there.
TRUCKEE RIVER-The warmer weather this past week melted lots of snow and bumped up the flows. In the afternoon when the water has had a chance to warm up a degree or two, work small midge and BWO patterns in the slower pockets.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-Ken Mathis reported that some boaters have been getting into the lake off Pea Vine Ridge Road, but that 4-wheel drive and chains were needed to safely reach the launch ramp due to patches of black ice. Some of Mathis’ buddy trollers were picking up 12- to 20-inch “rat” macks on Rapalas at 60 to 80 feet deep off the ledges-their biggest fish weighed 4 1/2 pounds. Areas in full sunlight were best, stay out of shady spots. Mathis said a big Mackinaw was caught-and-released this past week that weighed over 15 pounds and was taken on a big silver Flatfish trolled at 70 feet deep over 80 feet of water.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE- The water conditions are improving with water clarity opening to the 8 to 10 foot range in some areas of the lake, and surface temperatures rising to the 50 degree range. Anglers should key on areas of rock that receive direct sun and demonstrate patience. Rip baits are a good option for an occasional quality largemouth, and deep diving crankbaits or medium sized swimbaits are also producing larger bass. While the better action should be in the 10 to 20 foot depth, anglers should keep them honest and check up in the 5 to 7 foot range as well.
LAKE BERRYESSA -The overall bite for both trout and bass has been very slow, but a few trout and king salmon can be taken in the top 25 feet with Super Dupers, No. 2 Needlefish, or Dick Nite spoons. Several trout have been landed on either spoons or plastics by bass fishermen working the isolate bait balls. The bait is scattered with the high water conditions. The best techniques for bass have been dropping spoons or drop shotting. The lake has come up 7.5-inches in elevation during the last two weeks to 417.73, ten feet higher than at this time last year.
LAKE SONOMA – Action for landlocked steelhead has been moderate to fair with the best fishing found around the creek arms in tight to the banks with 1 to 1.5-inch Apex lures, threaded night crawlers, #2 Needlefish, and Dick Nite Spoons in straight chrome, brass or copper colors. The cold snap has slowed action, but things are anticipated to improve. Bass are found at depths from 10 to 30 feet with greenpumpkin jigs on a 1/2th-ounce jighead around the trees in the Warms Springs Arm, Cherry Creek and the main lake.
UPPER BLUE LAKE- Trout fishing has been fair with the best action in the running creek inlets on the east end of the lake. Patient anglers are able to scrape out from 3 to 5 fish ranging from 1.5 to 2-pounds per trip. Trollers are having the most success with Woolley Buggers behind a Wigglefin disk at depths to 30 feet with a few fish found higher in the 10 to 12 foot range. Action with blade/crawler combinations has been slow. The surface temperature is in the 47 degree range, but the water warms up below the surface. The lake was planted on January 6th with monthly plants anticipated from the Department of Fish and Game.
BAUM LAKE-The weather is having a negative effect on the bite with temperatures ranging from the low 20’s overnight to the mid to upper 50’s during the daytime. Fishing has been hit or miss with the best action on midges, small nymphs or wooly buggers for fly fishermen, while bait fishermen have been picking up a few fish with either Power Bait, small crawlers and Kastmasters.
PIT RIVER- Open to catch and release only, barbless hooks, artificials only from Lake Britton dam downstream. The water is high and off color, but the good news is the rop is open, as well as the Lake Britton Dam crossing. The Forest Service has requested that the flows remain around 300 cfs throughout the summer which is less water than in previous years. As a result, fishing could be excellent if the releases are kept down at this range.
LAKE ALMANOR – Great weather conditions on the lake have created optimal conditions for anglers; and with the warmer water conditions in the shallows, bait fish are moving in followed by the larger trout. Threaded night crawlers injected with Pro-Cure Trophy Trout Gel rigged sixteen-inches behind a Sep’s silver #4 dodger with the UV Flash film on the downriggers with a setback of 100 feet or 3-inch Yozuri Pins Minnows in white behind a Wigglefin action disk on small side planers on a setback of 80 feet have been producing quality rainbows and browns. The best fishing continues along the east shoreline and Big Springs. Bank anglers are soaking Power Bait off of the bottom or rigging a night crawler under a bobber at Geritol Cove.
LAKE SHASTA- Bass fishing has been slow with the water temperatures running between the high 40’s to low 50’s. The lake’s waters are gin clear, and the best fishing has been at depths from 50 to 70 feet with spoons, jigs, or Sweet Beavers. With the late shad hatch, there is a scarcity of bait in the lake, and the bass are scrounging for food. Small bluegill, crappie and even mice and birds have ended up as bass prey with the lack of shad. Trout fishing is improving in the Pit and McCloud River Arms and also in Digger Bay with Shasta Tackle Humdingers, Cripplures or Luhr-Jensen Needlefish at depths from 20 to 25 feet.