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 close, and others change to artificial/barbless only on, March 31 and others on April 25. Trouble identifying salmon or steelhead? Go to: http://www.swr.noaa.gov/fmd/identify.htm.
CHETCO RIVER, Ore.-Rains blew it out, but it was being fished by Saturday, and the top news is the big king salmon caught-a 47-inch long, 33-inch girth king estimated at 65 pounds. Wayne Smith of Yreka caught it while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. It hit a T55 Hawg Nose FlatFish. It might be the biggest king ever caught from the Chetco-the current record is 64 pounds. Bright kings came in with the rain, but river was very leafy and hard to fish. Once it clears from debris, it should be “game on”. Watch the weather, another storm slated for mid-week might blow it out.
EEL RIVER-The main stem Eel River has now opened up from low flow closures, upstream to where the South Fork Eel river comes in and “guys are catching fish” is all we heard. There was very little rain upstream, and it might be that they’re releasing water from up top. Regardless, there’s can’t be much water. There’s always a good push of salmon when the first rains hit, and there were fish stacked up down by Fortuna waiting to move up.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-Didn’t rain much at all here, and the South Fork “looked like a creek” on Thursday, Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Guide Service. It’s still closed.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.–The weekend of the 18th was finally the beginning of drift boats floating downriver, fishing for the holiday season of king salmon. After weeks of dry weather and low river conditions, the heavy rains came roaring in last week, rising the water levels, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “The mornings have proven to be the better bite time for Kwickfish and fishing roe has worked much better mid-day on into late afternoon. There were 37 boats drifting the river on Saturday and several boats caught anywhere from 5-9 king salmon. There are a bunch of dark fish in the river being caught and released. I also noticed that most of the anglers had some bright jacks in there harvest piles on the gravel bar at Iron Head take out.” Call Curtis Palmer for updates: (541) 670-9451.
MAD RIVER-The report says it opened up from low flow closures, but there were no reports available. It hasn’t been very good in recent years for steelhead since they cut back on the number of fish the hatchery raises.
RUSSIAN RIVER-The river got a little rain, and it came up a bit, but not even enough to dirty it up. Fishing was starting to get a little “stagnant” according to Scott at Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville, so the rain was a good thing. Mouth close up last week, this might open it. Still only small steelhead reported.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.–It was pouring straight mud on Saturday morning and still a little on the high side, according to guide Curtis Palmer. With only a few rain showers through out Saturday, the river was on the drop. That means that this river would of been in good shape for running plugs from a driftboat first thing Sunday morning and had even better conditions as the day progressed. The Sixes River fishes better with a trace of murky coloration in the water.
SMITH RIVER-After two weeks without rain, the storm finally hit and the river went up 4 feet on Thursday, according to WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. The river was filled with debris and fishing wasn’t good on Friday, as it was still rising. By Saturday it was in perfect condition, and Desautel put Dan Hacker of Heyden, Idaho, and Dave Dasheiel of Auburn on 5 fish, with 4 landed to 22 pounds. More rain was expected this week.
UMPQUA River; Roseburg, Ore.–There are a few bank anglers starting to fish for early steelhead without much luck, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. I have heard of a couple chrome natives being released and I received a report from a game officer telling of a 17-pound native hen that was caught at Cleveland Rapids west of Roseburg, and then left behind to be found by a different angler, who turned in the illegal game. There are some nice steelhead in the river, but extremely low water conditions still have boats on there trailers. Unfortunately most of the bank access for fishing is at what we call high water holes and these areas are not any good for fishing when the river height is so low.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City-Steelhead fishing continued to be pretty good, in spite of the lack of higher off color water. Guides running the river in drift boats and rafts continued to do best, and the most productive areas were upstream of Junction City. Backtrolling plugs and side-drifting roe were good for anglers using spinning and bait casting gear. Fly fishers were scoring on copper Johns and poxy-back hare’s ears. Glo-Bugs have become less effective as the number of spawning salmon has declined. A bigger storm is expected toward the end of the week. Call ahead before making the trip.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-The South Fork is open to fishing until the end of the year, and some big wild steelhead were being caught. Water conditions were good, but steelhead fishing around Hoopa was slow.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam-Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service reported that fishing for trout and steelhead was excellent. He and his son, Conner, have been catching upwards of 15 fish an outing weighing from a pound to 7 pounds in a few hours of fishing. Fly fishing, drifting nightcrawlers and roe, and backtrolled plugs have all been effective.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen-The lower Klamath has continued to be in good, fishable condition. And, some bright salmon were even caught last week, according to Rich Mossholder of Rivers West Guide Service. Quite a few half pounders and some nice adult steelhead were also being caught by fly fishermen around Johnson’s Riffle. Check for weather and water conditions before making a trip, because the lower river can easily blow out if a storm hits.
BERKELEY-Crab combos are kicking it, and some of the boats are scoring good striped bass action also. The highlight of the week on the California Dawn was Sunday, when the whopper of the week bit, a 45-pound soupfin shark. Captain James Smith said his groups caught rockfish and crab limits all week, and up to 10 lingcod. On the Happy Hooker, the plan is to run rockfish and crab trips on Saturdays, and striped bass trips on Sundays. That produced rockfish and crab limits for 33 anglers, and 24 striped bass for 22 anglers.
BODEGA BAY- Crab and rockfish combos continued with great crabbing and “up and down” rockfish action. Captain Bob Monckton on Reel-lentless: “Some days, they’re easy and other days you have to work for them. We ended up with limits, plus up to 4 lingcod per day.” He said he ran four days in a row through the weekend. “We had a banner day Sunday,” said Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler. “Our 20 guys had limits of rockfish, crabs, and 9 lings to 12 pounds.”
CROCKETT-Captain Gordon Hough on the Morning Star reported a little slower action on the striped bass in San Pablo Bay thanks to slower tides that enabled crabs to become a major obstacle. A move to Suisun Bay produced limits of linesides on Friday, but Saturday’s boating activity may have slowed the bite, since his group of 14 anglers caught 13 bass.
EMERYVILLE-Rockfish and crab limits all week long, reported Frank Salazar at Emeryville Sportfishing Center. “On Wednesday, the New Huck Finn had 31 anglers and limits of both rockfish and crabs, and the New Seeker had 20 anglers and limits of both, plus 2 lingcod to 12 pounds,” said Salazar. On Thursday and Friday, the New Huck Finn ran with 25 and 14 anglers. Thursday’s 25 anglers caught rockfish and crab limits plus 5 lings to 7 pounds. Friday’s group caught limits of both plus 3 lings to 12 pounds. That action held through the weekend, he said.
EUREKA-While a couple days were fishable for sport crabbers mid-week, a lump that built before the weekend made for a tough Saturday pot check for some. Those who thought ahead, like Captain Tim Klassen on Reel Steel ran out early in the morning to clean up his string, and picked his six passengers up at noon. “We had limits and were back inside the jaws by 1 p.m.,” said WON field reporter Lonnie Dollarhide.
FORT BRAGG-Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar continued to find crab limits, although Saturday’s trip was impacted by a big groundswell. Anticipating a lighter catch, he dropped 10 extra pots, and his group ended up with limits, and they threw back several keeper crabs.
HALF MOON BAY- “The weather did not cooperate to go for a squid crab combo. I gave the group the option of what they wanted to do. Try for squid first, but risk being so sick, crab would not be an option,” said Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat. “We ended up with 18 limits of crab.” The crabbing was a little slower, 12 pots did not produce 18 limits,” said Mattusch. On Saturday, 27 limits came in just over six pots. Crab Limits are the rule out of Half Moon Bay, there is still the option of rockfish crab combos. If the weather is decent, runs for Humboldt squid are possible.
MARTINEZ-Sturgeon and striped bass action both going pretty strong, with a trio of keeper sturgeon reported to Martinez Bait and Tackle. Striped bass limits are possible, although the weekend boater traffic might be affecting the bite. “Our manager Gina Dumpit outfished her boyfriend on Sunday, catching two stripers and a keeper stugeon!” said Lisa Rezentes at the shop. The pier has been kind of slow, but one woman, first name Barbara, caught her first keeper striper there on a bullhead.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Access is by 4-wheel drive only due to snow and ice on roads. Fishing has been best at the inlet and the dam on bait and lures.
CAPLES LAKE-Heavy snow at this elevation-more coming this week. Call Caltrans for road conditions. Probably best to wait until the lake freezes over later this year. Ramp is closed.
CARSON RIVER (East)-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported slow fishing due to very cold weather-it snowed on Sunday. With a few days of clear weather, fly casters can expect a fish or two on baetis and midge patterns all winter.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Snow was falling on Sunday. The boat ramp is unusable. Shore anglers in 4-wheel drive vehicles can still get to Mallard Point-use Power Bait for nice rainbows running 15 to 17 inches.
DONNER LAKE-Very slow according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. Some smaller macks should be cruising the shorelines and can be taken casting spoons and CD Rapalas.
FEATHER RIVER CANYON-Butt Valley Reservoir water level went up enough to allow boat launching, but any significant amount of snow will close the road to the lake from Hwy 89 and it is not plowed by the county. Trolling a threaded nightcrawler in the mid-morning was producing big rainbows for Dick Mason at Dick’s Guide Service.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Shore fishing from the dam and spillway was good this past week. Snow has accumulated enough to make getting around the lake difficult-4-wheel drive is recommended. Frenchman Campground the only accessible camp left open, according to Wiggins Trading Post.
GOLD LAKES BASIN-Snowed in-last report until spring.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Some snow at this elevation making access 4-wheel drive only. About time to take this lake off your list of destinations until spring!
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-According to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort, snow accumulation on the road to the lake makes access almost impossible except by “extreme 4×4” or snowmobile.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR-According to Mountain Hardware and Sports, the recent snow most likely closed the road to the lake. Check with the Sierraville Ranger Station for road conditions and access at 530-994-3401.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Sly Park Resort reported pretty good trolling for smaller Mackinaws in the Narrows and in the channel between the island and the second dam on Rapalas and spoons. Anthony Miller of Camino caught another 5-pound Mackinaw this past week trolling a Rapala. Shore anglers were doing well on rainbows at the first dam and in the Narrows using Power Bait and worms.
LAKE TAHOE-Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters reported pretty good trolling for macks. His last trip with 3 clients produced 5 keepers, and 2 fish tagged-they lost 5 more. Daniels was trolling Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut or minnow combos 240 to 300 feet deep over 400 feet of water for macks running 3 to 7 pounds.
LOON LAKE-The lake is at 60-percent capacity. Snowed in.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 32-percent capacity. With the lake so low, anglers accessing Prosser Creek from Hobart Mills Road can do well on bait and lures. Most anglers stay at the dam for a chance at some nice rainbows.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported excellent fishing for experienced trollers. On his last 3 trips he landed 30, 41, and 20 cutts running 17 to 25 1/2 inches. On Sunday in cold, windy snow, Mendes fished in the Pelican Point area running a frog FlatFish at 17 to 21 feet deep. A 13 1/2-pound cutthroat was weighed in a Crosby’s Lodge by a Ron Lewis from the San Joaquin Valley. The fish was reportedly taken in Windlass Bay on a Torpedo spoon, but they didn’t know whether he was trolling or casting from the shore.
RED LAKE-Access difficult due to snowy conditions on Carson Pass. Very cold-you need to wait for the lake to freeze over later this winter.
SILVER LAKE-Lake is very low. Lots of snow made access difficult to the shore and more is in the forecast. Probably should wait for the lake to freeze over later this year.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 88-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports recommends casting CD 5 Rapalas and spoons or stripping streamers off the dam for cruising macks. Most of the fish run 2 to 6 pounds, with an occasional 10 pounder.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters and Mountain Hardware and Sports recommended baetis and midge patterns on warmer days at Stateline. Also might try streamers, and dark stone nymphs with a baetis or copper John dropper.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 58-percent capacity. The road to the Sunset Ramp is closed, according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle-boaters can still launch by the dam accessed off Pea Vine Ridge Road, but watch out for icy road conditions-4-wheel drive only!
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-Community holes are the best ticket right now, as there are so few anglers out and live bait the way to go. Spots such as Shag Rock, the mouth of Braito’s, Glenhaven Reef, Konocti Harbor, the State Park, and Rocky Point are all producing action for anglers. Bass are still averaging 3 pounds and a big one is a 6 pounder these days, but they are in excellent shape for the winter. The catfish bite is still pretty good for the few anglers trying for them. Live minnows and nightcrawlers are being reported as the best choices.
LAKE BERRYESSA- Fish are still following the shad balled in 25 to 40 feet of water and finding plenty of bass and trout. Spooning, drop-shotting and throwing swimbaits caught both after finding the bait.
LAKE SONOMA-The bass are on structure, so cover water with a Pointer 100 American shad, and flip a jig creature to standing timber in the 15 to 25 feet of water in the creek channel edges. Drop-shot and Senkos are also sure bets but slow them down. The landlocked steelhead are all over the surface, keep a spoon handy and cast to the boils for steelies to 18 inches. Top line trollers are also doing well with trolling flies and shad imitations.
LAKE ALMANOR-The productive areas have not changed, just the weather, which means fewer fishing days but bigger fish when you can get out. The west shore by the USFS ramp near Prattville, Bailey Springs, Rec.2 and the Spar Buoy areas, Geritol Cove at Canyon Dam, and from the Prattville Towers west to the jetties are where the brown trout are spawning and the big rainbows lurking.
BAUM LAKE-Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney reports fly fishermen are having great days on midges. Try BWO’s, copper Johns in red, callibaetis cripples or pt’s. Nightcrawlers and floating baits are still doing well, as are lures.
BRITTON LAKE-According to Vaughn’s Sporting Goods, the weather has definitely put the bite down and fishing is about over for this year.
BURNEY CREEK-Now closed from Burney Creek Falls downstream to Lake Britton.
CASSEL FOREBAY-Closed on November 15.
EAGLE LAKE-Changing weather has scattered the trout again and had many fishing back down in the mid section of the lake. Trout from 2 1/2 pounds to 3 pounds were taken in 9 to 20 feet of water down 7 feet using 2-inch orange grubs and the orange Arctic Fox fly. Toplining Jay Fair flies in orange and the Jay Fair Special’s in cinnamon were also productive. Bring chains if you are going to launch.
FALL RIVER- Closed on November 15.
UPPER HAT CREEK- Closed on November 15.
HAT CREEK (wild trout section)-Closed on November 15.
McCLOUD RIVER- Closed on November 15.
PIT RIVER-Fishing below Lake Britton dam is catch-and-release only until April 28th. But elsewhere, anglers are doing best with black stones, copper John’s in red and birds nest in larger sizes fished on the bottom. There have been good reports from the few anglers braving the increased flows. Be extremely careful of slippery rocks. Beginning in September there will again be road work and improvements along the Pit River.
SHASTA LAKE-Look for surface activity mostly around the shallow points and troll in the top 20 to 24 feet of water 200 feet back. Cripplures and Humdingers in silver or UV are doing the trick in the sun, gold on cloudy days. Some areas to try are from Ski Island to Jones Valley cove on the Pit Arm and on the McCloud arm.
AMERICAN RIVER-Lots of anglers continued to jam Nimbus Basin, and the rumor is that someone or ones tampered with the fish screens at Nimbus Hatchery, allowing salmon to avoid the fish ladder and swim into the Basin. If true, it’s a despicable act, especially rotten given that the run is still in recovery from its precipitous decline of the past few years. Fishing downstream of the now-closed salmon spawning area demarcation at the power lines crossing the river at Ancil Hoffman Park. Steelhead fishing continued to be slow.
FEATHER RIVER- Salmon fishing was dead slow once again, but steelhead fishing in the Low Flow Section around Palm Avenue down to Gridley on the main stem was very good for anglers drifting Glo-Bugs or nightcrawlers.
FOLSOM LAKE-Trout fishing was good once again, and some nice landlocked king salmon were being caught, as well as holdover rainbows to 16 inches. Troll the main body 25 to 35 feet deep with Hoochies and Needlefish tipped with corn. Bass fishing was continued to be tough, and the cold weather slowed what little action anglers found. However, the lake has almost reached winter levels and should be stabilizing. Drop-shot jig and darthead over concentrations of bait.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento–Salmon fishing continued to be slow with persistent anglers getting a very few hits at Garcia Bend and the mouth of the American River. Some schoolie striped bass were being caught in the Deep Water Channel on sardines and bloodworms.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Chico-Salmon fishing slowed quite a bit last week with good anglers managing 2 to 5 takedowns a trip. Spots with the best reports were around Knight’s Landing, Chico, and Ord Bend. These are gorgeous fish and of prime quality. It’s exclusively a plug bite.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing continued to be outstanding for fly fishers and spin fishermen drifting Glo-Bugs and egg patterns behind spawning salmon. Up to 30 fish a day per boat possible with good anglers aboard. Don’t bother using anything other than egg patterns.
UPPER SACRAMENTO RIVER- Trout fishing was outstanding last week both around Dunsmuir and in the lower river as trout come out of Lake Shasta to feed. Drift Mayfly, caddis, and prince nymphs under indicators.
YUBA RIVER-Steelhead fishing in the Yuba was very good both above Daguerre Dam and below. Drift between Parks Bar and take out Sycamore Ranch. Or, take a shallow draft aluminum jet boat upstream from Yuba City.
AMERICAN RIVER-Since November 16, the river is open to artificial barbless lures and catch-and-release fishing only. No reports were available with little pressure, according to Will Fish Tackle in Auburn.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 70-percent capacity. Poor weather over the weekend kept fishing pressure low and Emerald Cove Marina said no one had reported any success. When the weather cooperates, bass and trout action should be fair.
CAMP FAR WEST-North Shore Resort reported very little fishing pressure due to the poor weather over the weekend. Bass fishing had been good up in the Rock Creek arm.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake is scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week-7000 pounds of rainbows: 3600 pounds for the pen rearing program and 3400 pounds for release into the lake. Trout fishing should be excellent for Thanksgiving holiday visitors, weather permitting. Anglers were catching limits of small DFG planters and some more nice catfish this past week.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina had their rearing pens stocked with 1 1/2- to 4-pound Mt. Lassen Trout Farms rainbows this past week-come and visit. Rick Mora and buddy “John” of Auburn caught limits of 12- to 14-inch rainbows on the upper end of the lake above the 5 mph buoys on dodger/worm or Needlefish combos, according to John Wadden at Will Fish Tackle. Dillon Davis at Skippers Cove Marina reported that trollers were catching planter rainbows and 8- to 9-inch kokanee salmon in the marina on flasher/worm combos.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is at 53-percent capacity. Light snow fell this past week, but the lake was probably still accessible by 4-wheel drive, though a bigger storm is forecast for this week. Call the Foresthill Ranger Station before heading to this region at 530-367-2224, M-F 8:00 to 4:30.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 69-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road was still passable with 4-wheel drive after the light snow that fell this past week. More snow is in the forecast for this week. Few, if any, fishermen have been heading up to this lake recently. Call the Georgetown Ranger Station for the latest road conditions before heading up into this region at 530-333-4312, M-F 8:00 to 4:30.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 80-percent capacity. The front that moved through the area this past weekend slowed the bite. Bass action was fair for anglers throwing worms, jigs, and Sweet Beavers on the points at 10 to 50 feet deep-generally see the smaller fish up shallow and the bigger fish deep. Jason Kincanon of Woodland caught spots and largemouths up to 4 pounds pre-fishing for a tournament on swimbaits fished on the points in the West Branch/North Fork area. Kincanon also caught a 4- to 4 1/2-pound coho on a swimbait in the North Fork-hook-jawed and spilling milt.
ROLLINS LAKE-Still some nice rainbows being caught near the dam and at the inlet on nightcrawlers.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-Jim Caldwell at Scott’s Flat Resort reported that a few 10- to 14-inch rainbows were coming in for trollers working the dam and the entrance to the inlet arm with flasher/worm combos.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-Little to report from here according to the Foresthill Ranger Station.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake was still accessible this past week, according to the Georgetown Ranger Station and the few anglers heading up to the lake were still picking up a few planter rainbows. 4-wheel drive is recommended.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-The lake is at 86-percent capacity-134.2-foot elevation at press time. Few reports available, but with the water this high the tules are a good place to look for bass. With the colder water temp, pitch Senkos and jigs into the tules. Trout action should be good in the channel at Wilbur Rd. for anglers drifting nightcrawlers.