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’s been low and clear and very tough fishing for weeks, but all that is in the process of changing this week with incoming rains that are expected to boost flows substantially. That will color the water, making it easier to catch steelies currently in the river, along with what’s expected to be a good push of downrunners, and the final incoming fish heading upriver to spawn. Generally, there are some big steelies during the latter part of the season.
EEL RIVER, Main Stem-Fishermen have been restricted to the main stem due to low and clear water, and they had been doing really well before the drop out, but that’s all in the process of changing due to the incoming storms. There’s no telling if the main stem will be fishable or blown out by the time you read this, so call ahead! Good numbers of steelhead are still expected to be coming in. Guide Dave Castellanos said he “had a couple of really good days” and that it wasn’t crowded.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-It’s been low and clear and barely fishable for weeks, but that’s all over now due to the incoming rains this week. Call ahead for river conditions before venturing up here, as it could remain low, could become perfect, or could become blown out. With enough rain, a nice push of fresh steelhead is expected here, along with some spawned out fish heading downriver.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers-Low and clear and tough fishing before the rain, but who knows now, on Monday, when it’s just starting to rain. Call ahead.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.-Guides have switched to side-drifting roe due to low flows, but that’s in the process of changing with the rain. It’s been good with 3-fish days between the mouth of the Illinois River and Lobster Creek. Jim Carey of the Rogue Outdoor Store is expecting a good secondary push of steelhead entering the river, since it’s been low for so long. Fresh fish may appear through the month and into March, he said. Spring salmon fishing usually begins here the second week of March.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass-Joe Brandt of Grants Pass had a good day on the rogue Friday when he and his girlfriend, Emerald Burton and dad, Dennis Brant, floated from the mouth of the Applegate River to Robertson Bridge and landed 13 adults…3 of which they kept. They were a mix of native and hatchery fish. Quite a few were over 10 pounds, and the biggest was a 14-pound hatchery buck.
RUSSIAN RIVER-According to Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville, the steelhead fishing was “fairly good” for those trying. There were plenty of anglers out taking advantage of the good river conditions, and a 5 and 10 pounder were weighed in on Sunday There aren’t huge numbers of steelhead, it seems, but there are “some fish stories.” Water was in good shape, but the new storm hitting at press time on Monday might put it out of shape by Tuesday. Overall, it’s been pretty slow steelheading so far this year.
SMITH RIVER-It’s been low and clear for so long that a big push of fresh steelhead is expected to move into the river with the current series of storms, and since this river clears the quickest of all the coastal rivers, expect a big push of fishermen, too! WON Field Reporter and guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service expects fishing to be very good.
UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Oregon-There are still very few hatchery steelhead being caught and anglers are becoming frustrated. There is also no retention of wild steelhead on the Umpqua drainage system. With the combination of both of those, it is making it hard for some locals to see a purpose in going fishing this season. “The average number of steelhead being caught in a day adventure is 5 fish, which is a long way from the dozen-plus fish days most of us are used to catching on this river,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “There were a lot of boats on the drifts closer to the town of Elkton during the end of the week, but I have not heard of any better fishing there.”
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork; Canyonville, Oregon–The river is extremely low and driftboats are not recommended here until some major rains hit, and that may be happening right now.
“There have been a few patient bank fishermen catching a steelhead or two on this river,” said Palmer. “There are steelhead from one end of the river all the way to the other end of the river.”
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork; Roseburg, Oregon-Fishing has been slow over the last week for steelhead. “I have been watching the viewing station at Winchester Dam and have not seen many steelhead traveling upriver, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “Not to worry, because there is always a period of time between some of the schools of fish. I expect to see the windows at the viewing area full of migrating steelhead in the next week.”
TRINITY RIVER, Junction City-The upper river is low, clear, and very cold with boats continuing to score 0 to 3 fish per drift. The key to avoiding a skunk is to use a stealthy approach and the lightest gear possible. Fishing pressure is light with virtually no one fishing mid-river sections. Fly fishers were dead-drifting egg patterns or drifting Copper Johns under an indicator. Spin fishers drifted roe, cast Little Cleos, and backtrolled Hot Shots or Brad’s Wigglers.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-The best fishing on the Trinity has shifted from the upper part of the river to the lower stretch between Hawkins Bar and Hoopa. The river has dropped enough so that drifting it in a driftboat has again become possible and productive. It’s mostly been fat half-pounders plus the occasional adult. They’re being taken on drifted roe and nightcrawlers, as well as backtrolled plugs. Call ahead, because a storm just hitting at press time, Monday.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam-No change and it’s become a broken record. The river is at a good flow but cold down to Seiad Valley. It’s still high below that point, but fishable. Anglers were catching a few adults to 5 pounds and a like number of half-pounders on back-trolled plugs and side-drifted nightcrawlers and roe. Fly fishing was slow in the cold water.
KLAMATH RIVER, Somes Bar-No change. The Klamath was still high and tough to fish.
AMERICAN RIVER-Steelhead fishing improved last week, and though not everyone is catching, enough anglers are hooking bright, hard fighting, newly-arrived adult steelhead from 5 to 8 pounds, to rekindle interest. Fishing has been best in the upper river from Lower Sunrise to Nimbus Dam, and are being caught on flies, bait and hardware. Flows are a near-perfect 2,500 cfs. Please stay off salmon spawning redds and do not target steelhead that can be seen on redds.
FEATHER RIVER, Yuba City-The discharge of murky water from flooded rice fields put a big crimp on the excellent striper fishing reported last week. Flows were clearing by weekend, but the baby steelhead that had triggered the feeding frenzy have spread out down to the mouth at Verona, so stripers are no longer concentrated and fishing success has slowed significantly.
FEATHER RIVER, Oroville-Not much change. Water temperatures ranged from 47 to 50 degrees. Some Mayflies are hatching, but few fish appear to be present to rise to them. Reports of catches have been mostly limited to a few half-pounders and the occasional post-spawn adult.
FOLSOM LAKE-Although anglers were looking for fishing to keep improving as the weather continued to be nice, both bass, trout, and king salmon apparently had other ideas, since fishing actually was rather poor last week-certainly compared to the week earlier. Trollers only caught an occasional rainbow or salmon in front of the dam or up the North Fork. Bass fishermen were scratching out a few bass off points and rock piles around the Peninsula, but scores were a fraction of those of a week earlier-even for anglers drifting minnows. Some anglers suspected that the water has actually gotten colder from snowmelt, but, in truth, no one knows why fishing wasn’t better.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-The fact that a limit of stripers was caught at Miller Park, a 35-inch whopper was caught at Rio Vista, and more stripers were reported being caught between Elverta and Verona, does not exactly mean the spring striper run has started, but it is encouraging. Some nice sturgeon catches were reported, as well, although, reports were less enthusiastic than the previous week. The best catches seemed to come lamprey eels or lamprey eel/ghost shrimp combos.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-No change. The release at Keswick Dam continued to be 4,000 cfs, some larger trout between 16 and 22 inches were being caught in the upper reaches around Redding and a bit downstream. Numbers are better but size smaller the farther downstream one goes. Fishing mid-day into mid-afternoon has been producing the best results.
SACRAMENTO, Elk Grove Park-The last Fishing in the City trout fishing event of the season is being held this Saturday at Elk Grove Park. Sponsored by DFG and the Sac-Sierra Chapter of Trout Unlimited, 1200 pounds of trout will be planted, free how-to-fish clinics offered, and fishing rods, bait and tackle available for loan for up to 50 people. Call (916) 358-2872 for more information.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-While the bass bite has continued to show signs of improving, this next winter weather system will pull water temperatures back down and we’ll be back where we started for a bit. Minnows will continue to be your best bet in the deeper portions of the lake such as Rattlesnake Island, and in the Redbud arm. Tournament anglers, using artificials only, did best using mid-depth crankbaits, ripbaits, and swimbaits. With warming waters there were also a few more catfish caught but crappie have still been a no show.
LAKE BERRYESSA-The bass bite was picking up with warming waters but who knows what conditions will be like after this coming week’s storms. Use your electronics to find the warmest water. A few trout are being found close to shore in the top 10 feet.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-The lake was due to be planted again and this should give trout trollers a better chance at fish. The bite has been fair mid-lake, and there has been very little fishing pressure. The bass action has been fair along the highway banks but look for this action to slow back down with colder weather on the way.
LAKE SONOMA–Marine Unlimited Inc. will be hosting its third annual Lake Sonoma Team Tournament March 27, with sign-ups in Petaluma at their store. Scott Green of Marine Unlimited Inc said there should be a good pre-spawn bite with a variety of methods to catch fish including jigs, Carolina rigs, ripbaits, swimbaits and other plastics.
LAKE ALMANOR- Capt. Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service found that Uncle Larry’s spinner in the Mad Cow pattern with a black and white grub pony tailed on the hook or a pearl trolling spoon landed fish from the surface to 15 feet over 20 to 50 feet of water off his Cannon Downriggers, with the hottest depth being in the 12- to 15-foot range. Check the weather before going, the good weather is about to disappear.
BAUM LAKE-Vaughn’s Sporting Goods reported good action on nightcrawlers, while lure fishermen did well using a rooster Tail. Fly fishermen did best with midges, woolly buggers and caddis pupae as days have been nice, but a cold system is coming in so check weather conditions first.
IRON CANYON RESERVOIR-The Fly Shop in Redding reported fishing has been fair but that the lake is low, and crowded some days. If you can get to the “toilet bowl” it’s fishing fair, but elsewhere on the lake you’ll have to work hard for your fish.
PIT RIVER-Still running very high, fast and cold. Flows are marginally fishable, but way off-color, making this not a good recommended at this time.
LAKE SHASTA-When you can get out again, try throwing plastics off steep rock walls down to 50 feet. The bite was just starting to pick up with good weather, but all that will change with colder weather coming in. Once the lake starts warming up again, start checking the main lake points in 15 to 20 feet of water to see if the bass have started to move in again. If so, try shaking a M.F. worm on a darthead in blue ‘crawler. And in the meantime, join the trolling crowd by the dam for trout using your favorite lures in the top 10 feet.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 51-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported fair action for rainbows, 12 to 17 inches, at the dam for anglers using white jigs tipped with a piece of worm worked off the bottom.
CAPLES LAKE-Beautiful weather all last week will give way to a big snowstorm which is forecast to last all week long. Ice fishing may be on hold for a week or so until the weather clears-call ahead to Caples Lake Resort at (209) 258-8888.
CARSON RIVER (East)-According to South Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, the fishing here is tough due to the cold water/freestone nature of this river. An experienced angler may catch a fish or two on Copper Johns, but there is a much better place to fish nearby-Indian Creek Reservoir.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 63-percent capacity. There’s excellent fishing at the dam where the ice is still safe-rainbows are up to 5 pounds, averaging 14 to 15 inches. Trout are hitting Power Bait fished near the bottom. The ice is TOO THIN at Mallard Point for safe fishing-only 3 inches thick-and open water is showing along the shore. The storm forecast for this week may bring rain and wind that could break the ice open on the lake ending the ice fishing altogether. Use extreme caution -call ahead for ice conditions at the Grizzly Store at (530) 832-0270.
DONNER LAKE-Rick Kennedy at Tight Lines Guide Service fished the lake this past Saturday and found out after launching that most of the east end of the lake was covered with a thin layer of ice that eventually melted later in the day. He trolled for several hours with little luck finally landing two 13- to 14-inch rainbows and two 3-pound Mackinaws. The rainbows hit a Shasta Tackle Matrix Kazi Minnow and a gold/orange Smithwick Rogue. The macks were taken on a P-Line Angry Eye and RBT Rapalas. All lures were run 200 feet behind the boat at 6 to 12 feet on downriggers. Slow trolling at 120 feet deep with Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos and Sting Fish brought no strikes. Surface temp is still cold-34 to 36 degrees.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 46-percent capacity. The ice within 100 yards of the dam is still safe for ice fishing, but don’t venture onto the blue-gray ice further out. Fishing has been good for limits of 12- to 14- inch rainbows on nightcrawlers, Power Bait, and jigs. The roads are passable with 4-wheel drive around the lake, but the ice is too thin away from the dam, so don’t bother. Poor weather is forecast for the rest of this week.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 56-percent capacity. Snow is in the forecast for all of this week and the Crystal Basin will be inaccessible for several days at best.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The lake received a 2000-pound plant of trophy rainbows, browns and cuttbows this past week-mostly 3 to 6 pounders with some to 11 pounds. Shore anglers were doing well on Pautzke’s Fire Bait, nightcrawlers, and 1/4-ounce silver Kastmaster spoons. Fly casters have been picking up 3 to 4 pounders on indicator/nymphs and woolly buggers from the shore, float tubes, and small boats. Some fly casters were picking up 15 to 20 fish a day right after the plant. One fly caster picked up an 8-pound rainbow on a cinnamon woolly bugger on Saturday. Wick Cobes trolled a Rapala from a kayak on Sunday and landed two 18-inch brown trout and a 4-pound cuttbow.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-The lake is scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week. Lots of anglers out getting in their last licks this past week before a week of rain and snow moves in. One angler jigging for bass in the Narrows picked up a 4-pound mack in 20 to 30 feet of water. Trollers picked up a few 2-pound macks on Rapalas and Kastmasters between the second dam and the island. Shore anglers were catching some planters near the launch ramp on Power Bait.
LAKE TAHOE-Mickey Daniels had a good trip this past Thursday when 5 clients landed 15 fish, including a 7 pounder and a 10 pounder. They kept 10, tagged and released 5, and lost 6 more fighting them up from 400 feet of water. The 10 pounder came first at 75 feet on a Sting King at 6:20a.m.-the 7 pounder came out of 400 feet of water at 10:40 a.m. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing has been doing well on smaller fish in the morning-1 to 5 pounders from 60 to 200 feet deep. His afternoon trips have been producing 3 to 8 pounders from 180 to 220 feet deep. Self said dodger/minnows, Rapalas, and spoons were all working.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 32-percent capacity. Ice fishermen are spread out all over the lake from the dam to the inlet and picking up some 12- to 13-inch rainbows on nightcrawlers and Pautzke’s Fire Bait.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters had 17 fish on Saturday and 32 fish on Wednesday trolling in 17 to 40 feet of water with U-20 frog or pearl/red head Flatfish. Most of the fish were 17 to 24 inches, but they lost a 10-pound plus fish at the net on Saturday morning. At the Crosby’s Lodge Derby that started this past weekend and finishes up on Feb 19-20, Ryan Bailey is leading with a 15 1/2 pounder that was caught trolling off Hell’s Kitchen. Second place was an 11 pounder landed by Jeff Kollodge.
RED LAKE-Plenty of thick ice and while the weather was good anglers were picking up a mix of rainbow, brookies, and cutthroat on bait. Snow is forecast for all of this week-stay away until the weather clears.
SILVER LAKE-Ice fishing was only fair with anglers catching three fish each on bait, according to Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station
TOPAZ LAKE-According to Linda Fields at Topaz Landing Marina, fishing has been slow-1 or 2 fish is a good day. Jeanann Nagy of Markleeville caught a 4 pounder toplining a Rapala on the south end of the lake on Sunday along with another 1 3/4-pound rainbow. Weather is forecast to be changing for the worse by Tuesday and lasting all week.
TRUCKEE RIVER-California side has been slow on San Juan Worms and baetis patterns. The Nevada section through Reno and Sparks has been good on baetis, midge, and stone patterns fished sub-surface according to South Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. Look for BWO hatches on overcast days. A week of foul weather is in the forecast so call ahead.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Snow is forecast for this region for the rest of this week-access will be a problem for a while until SMUD can get the roads cleared.
BENICIA-Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said there was plenty of effort with the great weather, and some good success on sturgeon, mostly up system in the shallows of Honker Bay, around Big Cut and Pittsburg. The boss, Curtis Hayes, called in his Sunday success after hooking a 25-pound striper while sturgeon fishing. The Benicia shoreline has been good also, shore anglers catching plenty of flounder and a couple sturgeon. Lots of striper fishermen fishing 12th Street, but if they’re catching, they’re not sharing.
BODEGA BAY- Very little activity, but crabbing is open, surfperch are an option, and shore rockfish goes year round. The weather was perfect for all three over the weekend, but with the charter operations shut down, no tackle shops able to stay open, there’s just no one to report to, or get reports from.
CROCKETT-The Morning Star went out for sturgeon twice, with two keepers and some solid missed opportunities on Saturday, and 13 shakers, one striper and lots of action on Sunday. The keepers came from the mouth of Sonoma Creek and Buoy 7. “Overall it was good fishing with lots of action,” said Captain Gordon Hough. “There was speculation that the fish all moved down for the herring spawn, but we had plenty of action.” He said crabs have moved back in, and the coming rain may help that problem, but anglers who kept a close eye on their baits were the ones who hooked more sturgeon.
EMERYVILLE-Another dead week, but Emeryville Sportfishing Center is still taking reservations for sturgeon fishing on the weekends for the Captain Hook.
EUREKA-About the only things happening are sport crabbing and surfperch fishing. Top bets for surfperch are Centerville Beach, the mouth of the Eel (that may change with the rains coming on) Freshwater Lagoon Beach and Gold Bluffs Beach. A good run of minus tides coming up, and razor clamming is a likely prospect with the “good” beach open this year, north of Strawberry Creek on Clam Beach.
FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar continued to run a couple trips a week for crab limits, his angler counts climbing steadily as he builds a customer base around the great crabbing. On Wednesday, he had to drop his gear, then turn around and check the pots, finding 11 limits a little into the second pull. On Saturday, he redropped 10 pots on his shallow string, then checked his deep water string. His group of 18 anglers ended up with 3 short of limits, but he said a couple passengers were ride alongs, so being slightly short of limits was acceptable, if a little disappointing just because it’s the first trip of the year without pulling full limits!
HALF MOON BAY-Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat had a productive week, running crab trips, and a NOAA research trip targeting rockfish at the Pioneer Canyon and the Farallon Islands. Sanddab and crab combos have produced 8 to 40 sanddabs per angler, while crab limits have been the rule. Saturday’s crab only trip found 21 limits of Dungeness.
LOCH LOMOND-Captain Jim Cox of Jim Cox Sportfishing had a memorable trip with five anglers aboard. One had been out 10 times for sturgeon, and had never caught a legal fish. Saturday’s day on the water gave him two chances, one at an oversized fish, released, then he hooked a 63-inch keeper. “Shows preserverence is the key to sturgeon success!” said Cox. The fish came from northern San Pablo Bay’s shallow waters.
MARTINEZ-Good sturgeon reports both in the tackle shop and from charter operators. Captain Steve Talmadge on Flash Fishing had a keeper and three shakers on Saturday, then another keeper on Sunday. Saturday was the better day for overall action, with several keepers boated all around Flash in addition to the one they got.
AMERICAN RIVER-No reports of any fishing have been available. Rain is forecast for the region for most of this week.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 70-percent capacity. Two bass tournaments were held this past weekend out of Emerald Cove Marina and the big spots that the lake is now famous for came through for some lucky anglers. Chris Sisto and Brandon Holleran from the Folsom Bass Team won first place in their event with a 26.85-pound limit of spotted bass that included the 6.14-pound big fish. Jeff Buckley of the Chico Bass Club won his event with three fish for 11.56 pounds, including the 4.56-pound big fish. Sisto and Brandon won with tubes fished off main body points at 50 to 90 feet deep, while Buckley took the cup with bubblegum Senkos at 20 to 60 feet.
CAMP FAR WEST-Lake is still full and with the nice weather the water clarity has improved considerably. North Shore Resort reported that fishing was slow on all front due to the cold water temp. Rain forecast for this week will only slow the bite more.
COLLINS LAKE-Lake is still 2 feet from full and the water is a little murky. Fishing has been pretty good for shore anglers and fair for trollers. Bob Martinelli of Sonoma caught a 5 1/4-pound rainbow toplining a Cripplure at the powerlines. Doug Clark of Elk Grove landed a 12 1/4-pound catfish on stink bait off the campgrounds. Bass to 4 pounds have been hitting nightcrawlers in the Elmer’s Cove. Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service reported tough action trolling on Sunday in water that was 48-degrees.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Shore anglers and trollers are both doing well. Dillon Davis at Skippers Cove Marina reported that a shore angler had one fish on before he could cast his second rod and had a fish on the second rod as soon as he landed the first fish-both 12-inch rainbows at the launch ramp. Trollers have been doing well from Boston Bar to Buck’s Beach on toplined Rapalas on a mix of 14- to 18-inch rainbows and browns.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 71-percent capacity-only down 74 feet. According to Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company, the tube bite is good, the worm bite is real good and the jig bite is fair. There is a spotty reaction bite on ripbaits on steep rocky walls with good underwater points. Long flat points in the main body of the lake are better with soft baits fished from 40 to 70 feet deep-the better fish are deeper. The front moving in this week will hurt the bite. The next full moon will have spots on beds in 20 to 30 feet of water on the island tops on the main body below the West Branch. Another good source recommends slow rolling a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait in Berry Creek for spots and small spinnerbaits in French Creek for smallies.
ROLLINS LAKE-There were reports of bass, catfish and trout all being caught this past week. A 4-pound trout was caught at the dam. A 3-pound bass and 14-inch catfish came out a cove about half way up the Bear River arm. Rain or snow is in the forecast for all of this week.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-Trollers are picking up 12- to 13-inch rainbows on dodger/worm combos from Cascade Shores to the dam. 2- to 2 1/2-pound smallmouth bass have been hitting on the rocky points down by the dam and along Cascade Shores on worms, tubes, and jigs. Snow is forecast for most of this week over 2000-foot elevation-call ahead.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-Fishing has been good for shore anglers and trollers, but snow is in the forecast this week and all bets will be off until the weather clears maybe by the end of the following week.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Few reports were available and a week of rain in the forecast will shut down most efforts this week.