NORTH COAST RIVERS
North Coast streams and rivers are regulated by low flow closures. Always call ahead to determine the condition of the river you want to fish. If not mentioned, the river is closed or no reports. The DFG’s Low Flow Closure Hotline for north coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For the Russian River and counties of Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin, call (707) 944-5533. South Central Coast streams number is (831) 649-2886. Many streams closed, and others change to artificial/barbless only on March 31 and others on April 25.
CHETCO RIVER, Ore.-Steelhead season is about over here as flows exceeded 12,000 cfs and fishing was basically halted. Steelheading was very good before the last storm, but now it’s mostly a game of bluebacks, downrunners and steelies sitting on redds. Before the Chetco River blew out early Saturday, anglers working the upper river between South Fork and Nook Bar were reporting 4- to 6-fish days. “The fishing was good, with a lot of fresh fish still entering the river,” said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The river is going to be out for a few more days, but by this weekend we should see good levels again.”
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.-“I have to put a big blue ribbon on this river for the season,” said guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service (541) 670-9451).. “It started out strong with steelhead around every corner and laying on every flat. It may be crowded on some days, but it sure seems to have enough fish for everyone on those days. The river was either extremely low or extremely high this past week, so fishing pressure was light. I see no reason why the fishing would not continue to be as fabulous when it comes back into shape as it has been all season. If you have been thinking about visiting this wonderful coastal stream, I suggest the next time the water level drops down to 3.5 feet to be on the river drifting yarn balls or roe.”
EEL RIVER, Main Stem-It’s been blown out for two weeks and it won’t be fishable for the foreseeable future.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-Blue skies were there on Sunday morning, but it was only a short break, according to Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Outfitters, and the river was muddy and high on Saturday, but “not as high as I thought it would be” he said. More shots of rain expected off and on during the week. Still fish in the river, more downers now, but the river isn’t expected to be in shape for fishing this week.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers-Definitely blown out, as they were all week, too. Flows up to 6,000 cfs on the Gualala this past week, but down to 1300 on Sunday, but flows were expected to go up. They might be fishable by the weekend, but call ahead.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.-Spring kings salmon have already begun showing here, and anglers are gearing up for what they hope to be a good run this year. Historically, this month begins the spring king run.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass– Steelheading improved on the Middle Rogue near Grant’s Pass and in the Applegate River, especially between Tou Velle State Park and where Gold Ray dam had been backing up the river. The Applegate is also seeing improved action in the lower end.
RUSSIAN RIVER-The river hasn’t been fishable for two weeks, and won’t be for at least another week. It was flowing at 3,000 cfs on Sunday and still going up. It’s questionable whether it will be fishable by the weekend.
SMITH RIVER-Blown out and really tough fishing was reported by guide and WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. The Hank Westbrook and Oakland Raider Fishing Derby had extremely tough fishing conditions on both the Smith and the Chetco with only 46 fish caught during the tournament. There should be good fishing once it drops into shape again.
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.–Reports of the first spring Chinook are traveling through the fishing community. “I have not found a confirmation at this time, but I believe that by this time of the year if one angler says he caught a springer, then there is most likely another old timer that has caught a couple already this year and doesn’t want the news to spread yet,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service (541) 670-9451). “Farther up the river near Tyee, the fishing for steelhead has been tough when the river is low enough to drift. I have felt fortunate on the days that I have been on the river to find 3-5 fish that want to test their acrobatic nature to our skills on the rod.”
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork; Roseburg, Ore.–The current winter steelhead count as of Feb. 8, 2011 over the Winchester Dam was 2,726. This is not far behind the winter steelhead count for the same date in 2010, which was 3,059 steelhead through the counting station at Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua River. Even though the number of fish is not that different between the last two years, the number of fish being caught is as different as black and white. “I have no answers for why this majestic river is not producing the double digit catches that we have become accustomed to,” said Palmer, “but it is spitting out a couple of the nicest steelhead an angler can find anywhere on most full days of fishing. The colder the water is, the more I have been using hardware like Little Cleo or my favorite Brad’s Wiggler’s. The fish have not been moving to pick up the bait, but seem to still want to crash plugs hard as they ever have. Running plugs is a lot of work, but it could make the difference between catching fish and going home skunked.”
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork; Canyonville, Ore.–Thursday the March 3 had smiles on the faces of several anglers’ in the Stanton Park area of the S. Umpqua River. Finally there was some hatchery steelhead for anglers to harvest. “Most of the fish were what I would describe as brat’s, but a couple reports came in of fish around the 10-pound range,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “Saturday morning the river was off colored and rising fast, but still fishable above Cow Creek. During the two hours I fished behind the casino we saw 3 steelhead caught and was told of two others that I didn’t see. Large yarn balls, the size of a half dollar, and Pink Worms appeared to be the magic ticket on that day. The end of the week was encouraging, and I am hoping that it remains this good when the river falls back into shape after these storms pass.”
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City-Blown out, high and not fishable, but could be coming back into shape by the end of the week, depending on rains. Call ahead.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-The storm that came in this past week has made the Trinity River unfishable from Junction City down through Hoopa. If no more rain comes in this weekend the upper river from Lewiston to Douglas City could become fishable by the following weekend. A call ahead for weather conditions would be a word to the wise before you head up.
KLAMATH RIVER-The upper end is still producing some nice resident rainbows, but the rains make it important to stay up close to the Irongate dam due to murky water from tributaries.
BAY POINT-Jeff Renfandt at BS Bait and Tackle got out to sample the sturgeon action, finding and keeping a 65 incher, and releasing a 49.5 incher. Another store employee caught 4 in the last three days, his biggest 52 inches. There were some promising striped bass reports, with a regular customer hooking a 22 pounder and a 14 pounder at the Firing Line on cut bullheads.
BENICIA-Pam Hayes at Benicia Bait said keeper sturgeon fishing has been best with a 55-inch keeper measured at the shop, along with a 19-pound striper. Captain John Badger of Barbarian Sportfishing scored 3 keeper sturgeon and a bunch of shaker sturgeon for his anglers.
BERKELEY-Rumor has it that Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker found an early halibut. Captain James Smith on the California Dawn is stacking his commercial crab gear and will now focus on sport charters, although out of Martinez for a few more weeks, then he’ll be back in Berkeley chasing salmon, halibut and striped bass, and eventually bottomfish and more sport crabs.
BROOKINGS, Ore.-A great time to get out for some surfperch, said WON field reporter Dave Pitts. “Areas to try are both the north and south side of Winchuck River, Sportshaven Beach and Burnt Ranch Beach,” said Pitts. His daughter Crystal is a surfperch pro, often catching redtails weighing 4 pounds and up. “She said you just need to get out behind the second swell,” said Pitts. “She uses cannonball weights. which move as the perch do, and larger hooks to avoid killing unwanted, smaller fish.” She finds Berkley Gulp! 2-inch camo Sandworms perfect bait for redtails.
CROCKETT-The Morning Star stayed tied up all week, trips cancelled due to the weather forecast. “Saturday was great, but the forecast chased away our customers,” said Captain Gordon Hough. He said tides are prime for sturgeon action this week, so hoped for a more active week at the landing.
EUREKA-Ben Hart at the Pro Sport Center said the saltwater action remained quiet, but that surfperch and clamming are both good options when the conditions allow. The former requires a light swell, a handful of sandcrabs and a couple hours on either side of the high tide for success, the latter a set of minus tides.
FORT BRAGG-No reported charter trips, but crabbing is still an option here, with the Telstar offering crab only trips that have been limiting out and returning to port early. Coming up, April 1 abalone opener, and a possible April 2 salmon opener.
HALF MOON BAY-Still crab combo action possible here, but the landing was quiet with no reported trips. Local beaches are good bets for surfperch, try sandcrabs, Gulp! sandworms or motor oil grubs for best results.
LOCH LOMOND-Captain Jim Cox of Jim Cox Sportfishing said he ran three trips Friday, Saturday and Sunday, finding improving striped bass action with “a few keepers per trip, and lots of shakers!” Saturday produced a pair of sturgeon shakers. “The crabs seem to be a little less of a problem,” he added.
MARTINEZ-Jordana Santiago at Martinez Bait and Tackle said there have been a few keeper sturgeon coming in, the hot spot the east end of the Mothball Fleet, and the mouth of Montezuma Slough. Flounder are a good bet for pier anglers. “They’re eating any bait they can get their mouths on!” said Santiago.
AMERICAN RIVER-Major releases brought the flow up to 8,000 cfs over the weekend and pretty much blew away any chance at steelhead fishing, although there was one 7 pounder caught this past week, according to Kristian Duvall of Elkhorn Bait and Tackle. Some anglers are plunking fluorescent orange and chartreuse Roe Drifters with cured roe or Spin-n-Glos in the seams and softer water near shore. Surprisingly, Duvall said that ghost shrimp or cocktail shrimp have also accounted for some steelies in recent weeks.
FEATHER RIVER-There are some MAJOR questions about the 2011 fishing regulations just released, but no answers over the weekend, so we’ll have to wait until next issue to clarify them. There are obvious errors, and some things we hope are errors. Not much action and not many anglers with the weather. The warm storm raised the water temp 2 degrees to between 48.5 and 50 degrees, but other than some older steelies and some stripers moving upriver, no big bite or action to report.
FOLSOM LAKE-Mixed reports out of here, and while it was slow action, according to Kristian Duvall at Elkhorn Bait and Tackle on Friday, when one angler, Kevin Wilson, fished it all day Friday and ended up with only 1 salmon of 3 pounds, caught trolling a white Z-Ray with red spots towards the dam area, it’s been much better on the nice days. Big John’s Guide Service reported using hoochies in the east channel of the North Fork at 45 to 60 feet for 3 or 4 cohos to 3 pounds each trip, and the same has been found in the South Fork. Expect trout on the tops lines, and salmon on the deeper lines.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-The rains didn’t bring down much new debris to deter shore anglers out after sturgeon, and the bite has continued to be good along much of the river, highlighted by an estimated 9 footer that spooled one angler. Better areas are Sankey Road, Garden Highway, Elverta Road, Verona and 2 miles up from Verona on the Sacramento side. Baits run the gamut from whole sardines to lamprey eel, ghost shrimp, pile shrimp and pile worms. Stripers have been pretty much of a no show with the high and colored water. Anglers have been scoring on catfish and crapping using jumbo red worms off Sacramento Avenue off Hwy. 99 in the sloughs, according to Kristian Duvall at Elkhorn Bait and Tackle.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-The rains again brought the water up and colored it, so it will be a few days at least before the clarity brings it back to shape for catching those beautiful wild rainbows.
YUBA RIVER-The rains colored it up again and brought the levels up quite a bit. Unfishable for quite some time.
AMERICAN RIVER-Heavy rain over the weekend will be melting snow and creating high flows that could be dangerous-use caution! Err on the side of safety and wait for the flows to subside.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 72-percent capacity. Unusually heavy snow blanketed the lake early this past week forcing some road closures and causing power outages that lasted until Thursday. Fishing pressure was light for spotted bass due to the colder temps, but trout trollers were all smiles. Boaters working the North Fork of the Yuba were consistently catching 2- to 3-pound rainbows on flasher or dodger/worm combos, Cripplures, and Needlefish. Heavy rain over the weekend came from a warm storm which should help the bass bite.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake is full and muddy. Rainy weather over the weekend kept the North Shore Resort store closed. Fishing pressure has been light.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake is full and received a private plant this past Thursday. Shore anglers have been doing better-up to 4 fish per person-this week over the previous week. The Open Area was the most productive spot and Power Bait or Pautzke’s Fire Bait was the best bait choice. According to Sarah Bennett at the store, lots of little kids were up this past week catching their “first fish”. Bass were active this past week and Dave Callison picked up a limit to 4 1/2 pounds on live crawdads. Trollers were doing best along the east shore using flasher/worm combos and Cripplures for rainbows running 3 to 4 pounds.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 96-percent capacity. Plenty of boaters heading out from the Army Corps launch ramp to troll up between Boston Bar and Buck’s Beach for holdover rainbows.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 77-percent capacity. Coho salmon are on a tear up the Middle Fork at the log boom for trollers working tight to the bank with pink/white hoochies and Uncle Larry’s Mad Cow spinners. The salmon are gorging on pond smelt and running 2 to 3 pounds. Bass bite has been TOUGH! Main body pockets and coves have been producing a few fish on tubes and jigs at 35 to 40 feet deep. The Berry Creek to French Creek area was kicking out some smallmouths on green or brown tubes, worms, and jigs.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is full. Long Ravine Resort had nothing to report due to the poor weather.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The lake is full and spilling over the dam. A DFG trout plant is scheduled for this week. The warm rains over the weekend melted off the snow seen from the previous week. No fishing pressure to speak of lately.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-Still not much happening here with all the cold weather, snow, and rain depending on the whims of Mother Nature! Spring is around the corner and maybe a DFG trout plant.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is full. Warm rainy weather and higher elevation snow in the forecast over the weekend made for mixed conditions as far as access depending on the willingness of anglers to travel to the lake. Little pressure was reported by the Georgetown Ranger Station.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-Heavy rain over the weekend made light fishing pressure even lighter. Some anglers are drifting a nightcrawler under a bobber in the channel above the Wilbur Rd. Bridge for a chance at a steelhead. Bass fishing is slow on jigs along the rocky shores, but the few fish being caught are good sized-4 pounders.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-Get ready for the spring-time madness. Conditions are improving and the tournaments arriving. It’s going to start to get crowded so come sooner than later if you can. Bass are starting to move up for their spawning efforts. The upper end of the lake where it is shallower and warmer will be the place to start. Minnows are a favorite but artificials such as jigs with crawdad colored trailers, shaky head’s with worm trailers, jerk baits in a variety of sizes, and swimbaits in all sizes are putting nice limits in the boats.
LAKE BERRYESSA-There were no new reports from here this past week, except that the water is rising and is still cold. A few trout will continue to be on tap, though close to shore in the top 10 to 20 feet. Same with the bass prior to the cold storms, a few fish were being caught on reaction baits but most came on jigs and worms.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-The bite has been fair for trout mid-lake for trollers and a few limits were taken. The bass action has been fair along the highway banks and will continue to improve as the water warms.
LAKE SONOMA-In the back of the creek arms, the best bet has been white/chartreuse Redemption spinnerbaits in and around timber, and pitching jigs, or Brush Hogs in 5 to 15 feet of water for bass. Smaller ones were found in the main body jigs, Senkos and flipping baits in and around main body points with rocks and trees have seen the better action.
LAKE ALMANOR-The ramps are all open again and anglers are headed back out. Hit the inflows in areas such as the Bailey Creek Flats, the east shore, and around Prattville. From the bank, float a piece of a nightcrawler or mealworm 42 inches under a bobber and let it take a natural drift into the open water. Trollers can do the same by using a side planer.
BAUM LAKE-There’s still some snow on the ground, but it’s been very popular on weekends, especially with fly fishermen, who have been hooking quite a few, mainly in the 10- to 14-inch range. Fly fishermen are doing best on midges, woolly buggers and caddis pupae while others are doing well on nightcrawlers, Rooster Tails and Kastmasters.
IRON CANYON RESERVOIR-There were no reports due to road conditions. Prior to the storms, some anglers were catching limits, while others seemed to have trouble catching even one. Nightcrawlers were a favorite choice, although trolling was also working for some.
PIT RIVER-There have still been no reports, but then it is still running very high, fast and cold. Flows were marginally fishable, and way off-color, making this not a good option.
LAKE SHASTA-The Pitt arm, above Arbuckle Flats was good for trout and Greens Creek in the Mc Cloud arm has been good for rainbow trout and a few browns running from 13 to 16 inches and a few to 3 pounds. The ramp area in Jones Valley and the cove have produced everything from recent planters to fish up to 3 pounds. Trout fishing has been good from 15 to 25 feet down. The Backbone areas gave anglers a better shot at salmon in 20 to 40 feet using Wiggle Hoochies and Sling Blades. Bass fishing was still very slow due to cold, crystal clear waters but runoff is starting to help muddy it up a bit.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 53-percent capacity. Warm storm over the weekend with a low of 34-degrees in Truckee softened the ice at the dam and opened more of the lake at the upper end. Ice fishing is NOT ADVISED! Wait until the lake is ice free and start shore fishing.
CAPLES LAKE-The lake is at 81-percent capacity. New snow over the weekend made for poor travel conditions and no fishing pressure, according to Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station.
CARSON RIVER (East)-South Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that conditions on the river are poor due to the cold. Because this is a freestone river, the warmer season is much better for fishing. Expert anglers can only plan on catching 1 or 2 fish right now in the cold water.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 66-percent capacity. The warm rains seen over the weekend softened the ice which is already a porous mix of ice and frozen snow-not the strongest for ice fishing. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing suggested that if the weather stayed as warm as is forecast then the lake would open up on the upper end by mid-week. There was still 9 to 12 inches of frozen snow/ice at the dam, but water was pooling on the surface on sunny days which means it won’t be safe much longer-use extreme caution this week if planning on ice fishing! Fishing toward the end of this past week was slow-like three fish all day for one angler. Call ahead to Ed Dillard at 530-966-5500, or J &J’s Grizzly Store at 530-832-0270 for lake conditions.
DONNER LAKE-The lake is at 39-percent capacity. There’s some action off the shore for rainbows and Mackinaws. Trout fishermen are using Power Bait and worms. Anglers after macks are casting spoons and CD Rapalas for fish cruising the banks. The parking situation is a little better with some snow melt
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 48-percent capacity. The road is open to the dam, but was not plowed across the dam. The ice is getting TOO THIN for ice fishing and open water is showing in areas all around the lake. Anglers making it to the dam and hiking down to the open water along the west side have been picking up a few 15- to 18-inch rainbows on nightcrawlers.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 48-percent capacity. Still inaccessible with the last storm forecasting snow over 5000 feet, but rain could have created a mix of ice and snow.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-Still a foot of snow on the road to the lake from Hwy 89. Unless you have a high clearance 4-wheel drive with snow tires, stay out! The road off Diamond Valley is posted “Closed”. There will still be plenty of big fish left when the access gets better.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-The lake is full and scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week. Lots of rain over the weekend made for poor fishing conditions and very few people braved the weather. Improving weather this week should increase chances of success for shore anglers and trollers.
LAKE TAHOE-Wind and rain made fishing a little sloppy, causing charter cancellations. Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters made it out on Saturday before the rain and 9 clients landed 12 fish and lost 6 more. The macks ran from 3 to 7 pounds and hit Sting Kings (with E-Chips) and Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos in water from 80 to 350 feet deep. Daniels starts out in the pre-dawn in shallow water and works deeper as the sun comes up. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing had a good week taking morning and afternoon trips out this past week. The morning trips are producing 15 to 20 strikes on 1- to 5-pound macks while the afternoon trips are good for 12 to 17 bites on 3 to 8 pounders. The fish are coming 145 to 165 feet deep on spoons, lures, and minnows. Wind will determine the success and length of a trip, with afternoons more susceptible to cancellation.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 32-percent capacity. The warmer weather seen over this past weekend softened the ice and created unsafe ice fishing conditions. There is some open water at the inlet but the ice at the dam, though it looks good from a distance, is unfishable!! Ice fishing is NOT ADVISED!! Call Mountain Hardware and Sports for the latest conditions at 530-587-4844.
PYRAMID LAKE-Winds have been a problem for boaters, but on the days they get out, trollers have been doing well at the Nets, Wino Beach, and Sand Hole. Eagle Eye Charters picked up 10 fish in 3 1/2 hours of trolling on their last trip before the wind came up. The cutts are running 17 to 25 inches and hitting U-20 FlatFish in 17 to 25 feet of water. Fly fishermen were doing well in the same areas and reports came into the Pyramid Lake Store of a 10 pounder and a 12 pounder being caught-and-released on white woolly buggers and white beetles.
RED LAKE-Recent weather put more snow on Carson Pass so fishing pressure has been light to non-existent.
SILVER LAKE-The lake is at 44-percent capacity. More snow over this past weekend kept fishermen out of the area, according to Dave Kirby at Woodfords Station. Weather is forecast to improve later this week, so call ahead to Woodfords at (530) 694-2930.
TOPAZ LAKE-Warmer weather and light rains melted off all the snow, so the ramps are all clear. Topaz Landing Marina reported only a few fishermen out, boaters and shore anglers. One rental boat went out the first day and only caught one fish, a 4 pounder. On the second day, the people landed 7 fish trolling Rapalas.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Warmer weather and melting snow made for better parking and access in the Floriston and Hirshdale areas. Closer to Truckee, plan on bringing snowshoes to reach the river. On the California side, winter stones in size 10 or egg patterns are working. On the Nevada side, the river is a little high and off-color but will be fishable later in the week with the warmer weather in the forecast. BWO and stoneflies are working.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Last week’s weather made access a continuing problem. Wait a while until access is safer and more reliable-not requiring 4-wheel drive, snow tires and/or chains to traverse some of the icy hills to the ramp off Pea Vine Ridge Rd, according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle.