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.—Most guides are hanging up their salmon gear and bringing out the steelhead gear, as bright kings just aren’t showing up, and the main run is now spawning upstream. Steelhead counts are improving, but will get much better when the next rains come. There may still be a few straggler salmon, too.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.–Fishing at the beginning of the week was fair to good for WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service, and he also received reports from other guides that they had also found Chinook easily. By the middle of the week the river had become low and clear, making it difficult to find fish without spooking them. He also had to drag the boat in a place or two.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Good showing of coho this year, in fact, the best in a long time. A total of 5,375 wild first year coho were counted in 18 of 23 tributaries between May and September, compared to 715 last year. Right now the river is only fishing fair for steelies, mostly halfpounders, but with some adults in the mix.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.– The first of the week proved to be fishing at it’s best, with most boats finding multiple king’s being harvested. By the middle of the week the water became clearer and the tides were extremely early and late, making fishing on the lower end of the river difficult for fresh run salmon that would come in on the high tide. Hold off until there is some rain to raise the river levels and add some color, said Palmer.
SMITH RIVER—Low water levels have the guides canceling trips until the next rains appear. Salmon are plugged up below Rowdy Creek hatchery, and most of the salmon run appears to be in the river, although some stragglers are expected, along with a decent push of steelhead, when the next storm hits.
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.–Winter steelhead are starting to appear in the lower river. Sawyer Rapids is a great spot to start the season by running plugs and side drifting. River conditions are low with a nice winter green color, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. Visibility is about 8 feet, so use small baits and adjust size as color changes. One of Oregon’s best river for winter-run steelhead, with natives well into the 20-lb. range.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—Steelheading was steady last week, at least upstream of Junction City with good anglers hooking half a dozen or so steelies an outing on roe, plugs and flies. The river was back to low and clear conditions and stealth was required. It’s been getting very cold in the morning, and it’s not really necessary to get on the water at first light, as fishing pressure has been light, and the bite improves later in the morning.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—Steelheading on the Trinity below Junction City was slow last week, with relatively few fresh fish moving upstream. There are reports that access at Tish Tang and Red Rock has been blocked by the Hoopa tribe denying access to non-Hoopa tribe members. More as additional information becomes available.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Steelheading continued to be very good, with the river in good shape down to Happy Camp, and anglers catching trout and steelhead to about 6 pounds on flies, drifted roe, and nightcrawlers, and backtrolled plugs.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen—The lower Klamath was in reasonably good shape, but fishing was only fair with few anglers on the water.
AMERICAN RIVER—Although the few anglers fishing below the salmon spawning area closed to fishing had little success last week, salmon, many in still very nice shape , were pouring into the holding pen at Nimbus Hatchery. Along with them were some very fresh and large steelhead, some weighing well over 10 pounds. Fishing pressure upstream of the fish screen in Nimbus Basin continued to be heavy and clearly lots of fish were getting through. Although, DFG personnel said that the caps which are supposed to lock the individual rods in place aren’t being removed, they admit that vandals sometimes bend rods apart to make the spaces between them wider. Also, some of the rods have been shortened so if they were lifted and somehow secured under the caps, spaces would be created at the bottom.
FEATHER RIVER—There was a smattering of mostly small steelhead caught in the Low Flow Section around Gridley on flies, and bait, but fishing, generally was slow and pressure low. A very large striped bass weighing over 30 pounds was caught on a Hair Raiser jig at the rapids at Shanghai Bend.
FOLSOM LAKE—Fishing was tough for trout and bass in the strong north wind that blew down the lake most of the week. Some trout were being caught from the bank at Granite Bay and Beals Point wherever anglers could find a bit of relief from the wind. But, for most, fishing was a bust.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—There were no reports of salmon being caught last week right around Sacramento, but a few were caught around Knight’s Landing under the Highway 113 Bridge, including one weighing 38 pounds taken on a custom made spinner. Around Sacramento, sturgeon action heated up a bit. That means a few were being caught, but, as usual the odds of catching one by the average angler were still small. Striper fishing wasn’t bad for anglers trolling and spooning in the Deep Water Channel and soaking bloodworms sardines and eels around Hood and in Cache and Shag sloughs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Balls Ferry—The wind really hampered fishing for salmon. Fish were caught by anglers who switched to roe from plugs when leaves kept fouling plugs falling into the river. But, fishing perked up again when the wind died on Sunday allowing anglers to fish effectively again.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Trout fishing continued to be very good last week, but trout anglers also were victims of the wind which howled most of the week. Spin fishermen drifted Glo-Bugs and egg patterns behind spawning salmon. Fly fishers paired egg patterns with Mayfly nymphs under indicators.
YUBA RIVER—Steelhead fishing in the Yuba slowed some, but some small fish were still being caught between Parks Bar and take out Sycamore Ranch, or upstream from the mouth.
BENICIA—Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said Captain John Badger on Barbarian has been hot after sturgeon, with 4 keepers hooked on Saturday, and at least 2 on Sunday (that report came early in the day). Shore fishing has been good for small stripers, one angler showing off limits of small fish he caught under the bridge with bullheads.
BERKELEY—The Happy Hooker found great conditions despite an ugly Saturday forecast, with the ocean laying down nicely, and limits of rockfish and jumbo crabs the result. “We picked through four pots for limits of jumbo Dungeness for 22 anglers,” said deck assistant Dave Marquardt. The rockfish included a mix of coppers, blacks, bocaccio along with a few lings topped by a 14 pounder.
BODEGA BAY— Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler said that the weather has been some of the best for December he’s seen, and that has helped make for some great rockfish and crab combos. “We’re catching every type of rockfish you can imagine, and on Saturday, we had 17 lingcod,” he said. Dungeness crab limits are also the rule, with every combo trip so far producing limits this season.
EMERYVILLE—Still great action on the rockfish and crab combos, the New Huck Finn scoring limits of both on Friday, a little short on rockfish but limits of crabs plus 4 lings on Saturday, and 34 limits of rockfish and crabs on Sunday, plus 17 lings to 14 pounds on Sunday. The New Seeker also found rockfish and crab limits on the weekend. Most of the trips targeted bottomfish at the Farallones.
EUREKA—Sport crabbers are starting to pull the plug, with Captain Phil Glenn on the Shellback pulling his string. A big current played hob with the pot locations, and some reported lost gear. When the weather cooperates, WON field reporter Lonnie Dollarhide said getting limits is still easy. Captain Tim Klassen on Reel Steel is still working his pots.
FORT BRAGG—Crabbing trips continued to produce good results for anglers fishing on the Telstar, with quick limits the rule. When the swell is up, it can take a little longer, but so far, it’s been early limits on most trips.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat continued his search for Humboldt squid, but the weather thwarted the effort. On the other hand, he did find a bunch of market squid while on a research trip targeting chilipepper rockfish. The mainstay for Huli Cat anglers are the crab and rockfish combos. “Anglers are still enjoying quick limits of very large Dungeness crab,” said Mattusch. “Rockfishing is still good.”
LOCH LOMOND—Captain Jim Cox of Jim Cox Sportfishing reported some sturgeon success for a pair of anglers from Ohio, mud shrimp tempting a 50 incher that was released. The fish bit near the pumphouse in San Pablo Bay.
MARTINEZ—Sturgeon and striped bass offered good action “all over,” but the Naval Shipyard produced a keeper for one Martinez angler using ghost shrimp. Another angler hooked and released a big sturgeon while fishing from the Martinez Pier after snapping a photo.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 36-percent capacity. Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters will begin ice fishing trips here toward the end of the month after safe ice forms. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported good fishing for rainbows and browns on worm/marshmallow combos pretty much anywhere around the lake. The left side of the dam has been a hot spot for fly fishermen every evening.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 84-percent capacity. Tahoe Fly fishing Outfitters will begin ice fishing trips around Christmas if safe ice forms. Fishing should be good at the dam, spillway, and Wood’s Creek on stripped woolly buggers, spinners, spoons, and bait—everything! Very cold in the morning—mid-morning is better after it warms up a little.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Very cold weather—low teens in the morning, high 30’s to low 40’s for a high—has fishing at a standstill in the trophy section of the East Carson, according to Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 75-percent capacity. Boaters have been able to launch at Camp 5 due to a more sunny exposure melting the ice off the ramp—not the case at Honker where there were 2 inches of ice on the parking lot. Don Reed caught a rare brown trout trolling off Mallard this past Monday—a 22 incher along with 4 rainbows on flasher/worm combos at 10 feet deep. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported good shore action at Mallard Point, Fairview and Camp 5 for 15- to 19-inch rainbows on Power Bait and inflated nightcrawlers. The upper end of the lake should begin freezing over soon with the bitter cold temps seen lately—lows at 10-degrees.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported slow action here—just not much happening.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 79-percent capacity. This past weekend, four kids from NV caught 13 rainbows, 15 to 18 inches, on Power Bait and nightcrawlers near Lunker Point, according to Wiggins Trading Post. Fly fishermen were doing well off the shore at Turkey Point and Crystal point on dark nymphs. The roads to and around the lake were clear.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Guide Service reported wide open action on planter rainbows for trollers using dodger/worm or grub combos.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—The roads were clear, but the bitter cold had shut down any fishing pressure, according to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The road is open to the lake and some nice rainbows were caught at the dam by anglers casting small Rapalas or worms from the shore. The point south from the west end of the dam was producing for fly fishermen casting dry flies, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports in Truckee.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is at 78-percent capacity. Bill Boyle of Orangevale had a good day this past weekend when he caught two macks—a 7 pounder and one 18 incher—trolling a Jointed Rapala in the channel between the second dam and the island at 40 feet deep. Shore anglers have been picking up some limits of rainbows at the first dam and near the second boat ramp in the Narrows.
LAKE TAHOE—Gale force winds and the accompanying waves stirred up the lake this past week and slowed the bite from the great action of the previous week. Mickey Daniels reported that the bite was early—over by 7:30. His last trip only produced 5 fish to 3 1/2 pounds in 180 feet of water. While metering around in deeper water he only found a few fish scattered from the bottom to 200 feet. More wind was in the forecast for the beginning of this week, so it might take a few days of stable weather for the fishing to turn back on.
LOON LAKE—The lake is at 59-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that there was snow at lake level but wasn’t sure whether the gate to the boat ramp was still open. Shore anglers can walk in to fish. Action should be good.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 32-percent capacity. With the lake so low, fishermen were mostly working the point between the creeks. Some ice was forming here this past week with lows in the single digits.
PYRAMID LAKE—Winds were strong here this past week, but some boaters hit the calms between the storms and did well on some nice cutthroats. Carla Molino at the Pyramid Lake Store reported that Ed Zinda of Reno caught-and-released a 33-inch cutt’ estimated at 12 to 13 pounds on a firetiger spoon. More 6 to 8 pounders have been showing up lately for the shore fishermen. Fly fishing has been productive for those who can reach the drop-offs at Wino Beach, Rawhide, Block House, and Indian Head with a dark woolly bugger.
RED LAKE—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters will begin ice fishing trips around Christmas after safe ice forms—ice formed now is TOO THIN—Danger!!
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 17-percent capacity. Casting from the shore with just about anything should draw a strike as the fish feed heavily in preparation for ice-over.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 88-percent capacity. Casting CD Rapalas, Krocadiles, Kastmasters, streamers and nightcrawlers off the dam can result in rainbows, browns, or macks—especially on overcast days.
TRUCKEE RIVER—The fishing in both the main Truckee and the Little Truckee was fair this past week according to Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. The best action on the Truckee was through Reno and below town. One trip produced five rainbows over 20 inches on baetis and midge patterns. The Little Truckee was still producing 16- to 20-inch rainbows and browns above Boca Reservoir on baetis and midge patterns.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 56-percent capacity. The road is open, but few, if any, anglers have been making the trip according to Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Winter fishing means covering water to find the feeding bass, and when you do, live bait will find the best numbers. Anglers using artificial are throwing deep diving crankbaits, swimbaits, rattlebaits, and plastic worms. Their sizes have been coming up as well, with several in the 2- to 6-pound range and a few going to almost 10 pounds. The catfish bite however, slowed a bit.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The fishing continues to be great when the wind let’s up. Everything has been coming on spoons. Find the bait and you’ll find the fish.
LAKE SONOMA—Car toppers have been catching trout from 15 to 22 feet down toplining small Rapalas, Needlefish and shad trolling flies out of Yorty Creek and in the main body. With gin clear water the bass bite toughened. With fish moving into 25 to 40 feet of water the best bet has been spooning or drop-shotting ledges on the main body or early in the morning rip a Lucky Craft 128 or swimbait.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—This month’s plant was only 700 pounds but all nice 2-pound fish and anglers are having a ball with them. Woolly Buggers with the Action Disk from the surface down to 20 feet produced near limits or limits on the west side of the lake. Both the Narrows Resort and Pine Acers have launching but the Narrows is the only place you can get inspections. Great news though, regular plants will resume! Thanks To Art Cerini’s efforts at the Narrows Resort, next year the lake will once again receive their regular monthly allotment of 1200 pounds each month. Bass fishing has been very good but with no rain, the lake is gin clear and the bass action slowed. Anglers have been hitting the banks on the west side with drop-shot worms and spinnerbaits.
LAKE ALMANOR— The area took a hit with several days of big winds that did some structural damage and uprooted trees but things should be repaired by press time and the east side will once again be a good bet.
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, mealworms or floating baits are still doing well, as are Kastmasters and Panther Martins.
BRITTON LAKE—According to Vaughn’s Sporting Goods, the weather has put the bite down and fishing is about over for the year.
EAGLE LAKE—The north end shut down due to ice in the bay but the good news is you can still launch at the south end as the new low water ramp opened at the Gallatin Marina this past week. Now all boat sizes can launch down there but beware of afternoon winds. Also, it’ll take two to launch as there is no courtesy ramp. Bring chains if you are going to launch. The lake closes on December 31.
PIT RIVER—Fishing below Lake Britton dam is back to catch and release only until April 28th. There were no current reports but anglers were doing well with black stones, copper John’s in red and birds nest in larger sizes fished on the bottom. Be extremely careful of slippery rocks.
SHASTA LAKE—The trout bite slowed some but they continue to feed on shad on or near points. Surface bait are less common and dropping below the surface. Look for surface activity mostly around the shallow points and troll the top 15 feet of water 200 feet back. Cripplures and Hum Dingers in silver or UV have been productive from Ski Island to the Jones Valley cove on the Pit Arm and in the McCloud arm for trout. The bass are schooling up according to sizes. If you’re in small fish, move. A Hopkins Shorty spoon trolled through bait balls has been producing both trout and bass. Senkos or Mother’s Finest in a shad pattern will work all winter.
AMERICAN RIVER—Low, clear, and cold—all of which make for slow fishing.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 69-percent capacity. The strong winds that hit the lake this past week kept boaters at home and Emerald Cove Marina reported little fishing pressure on the lake. The last report of any fishing success was that little dink spots were hitting worms and jigs—the big fish were suspiciously absent.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake hosted a jet-ski event this past weekend even though the morning temp was just above freezing. North Shore Resort reported slow action on small bass in the Rock Creek and Bear River arms.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week. No big rainbows this week, just lots of DFG planters hitting for shore anglers using Power Bait at the swim beach and in the marina. Some big catfish still hitting—young Michael Leonard caught a 7 1/2 pounder off the dam on Power Bait.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 93-percent capacity. The DFG planted 2000 pounds of 10- to 12-inch rainbows this past week. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that trollers were doing well on small planters using a Sep’s watermelon Half-Fast dodger and a cop car Needlefish just below the “No-Ski” buoys. Skippers Cove Marina reported that anglers were doing “extremely excellent” just trolling around the boat ramps and in the marina between the houseboats.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 48-percent capacity. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that the road from Foresthill was not passable to the lake due to snow.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Little traffic here due to the cold and difficulty getting to the lake. Call the Georgetown Ranger Station before heading up here at 530-333-4312, M-F, 8:00-4:30.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported good action for bass in the West Branch and North Fork using a 6-inch oxblood worm rigged on a 5/16- or 3/8-ounce Paradise finesse jig head on rocky points at 20 to 35 feet deep. Green pumpkin jigs, 1/2- or 5/8-ounce, fished on muddy points were also producing. There is a fair topwater bite in the early morning before the sun hits the water—ripbaits should also be working. Anglers can expect to cull down to an 11- to 12-pound limit with some spots to 3 1/2 pounds.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is very low with only one of three launch ramps open at the lake for boat launching—Orchard Springs Resort. Boaters were doing well trolling dodger/threaded nightcrawlers for limits of planter rainbows at the dam and in the channel at the inlet of the Bear River.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—Still some nice rainbows being caught by trollers working the mooring area in front of the marina.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Little to report from here. Trout should be feeding heavily in preparation for winter and trollers could find a good bite with some effort.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Trollers were still catching planter rainbows on flasher/worm combos after the winds died down.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake is at 72-percent capacity—132.1-foot elevation at press time. The strong winds this past week made this a dangerous place to be in a boat. Fishing has been slow by most reports, though the water level has the tules flooded and the bass tend to stay in them or close by. Pitch Senkos and jigs into the tules for a chance at a nice largemouth. Trout should be hitting nightcrawlers in the channel at Wilbur Road.