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.—Low and clear, but already producing good numbers of steelhead, an indication the run will be a good one this year, following a strong salmon run, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild River’s Fishing, who put 5 adults in the boat for his anglers Dec. 10 while sidedrifting roe. Salmon are done spawning in the upper river, although a few more may hit the river when the rains come, along with the first big surge of steelhead.
ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Ore.— These river are too low for floating a driftboat down them. Until there is a large amount of continuous rain, the only water that will be accessible for fishing are the mouths, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer.
RUSSIAN RIVER—The river is running low and clear, but high tides have kept the mouth open and steelies have been coming in on the tides, so fishing has been good, with lots of hatchery fish in the system right now. Little Cleos have been the top lure of late, and some are coming to those using bait, too. Fly anglers have been having a lot of success, also, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tacke, who caught an 8-pound hatchery fish this past week on a Little Cleo.
SMITH RIVER—Both Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service and Andy Martin of Wild Rivers fishing agree that rain is needed here before anything will happen. No rain in over two weeks has what kings remain in the lower river below the Rowdy Creek Fish hatchery, where there’s a very few legal fish being caught before the sun comes up, and still a few “flossers” out there lining them. The kings are getting darker, but most anglers and all the guides are waiting for the next rain before they get back out, and there is rain in the forecast!
UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Ore.—The river is extremely low and new rocks are showing every day, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. It is close to impossible to operate a jetboat on most of this river at the moment. Driftboats are having a tough time picking there way through some of the spots. Fishing is fair to good depending on what section of water you decide to drift. Earlier in the week it was a half dozen steelhead for the boat on a nice relaxing trip. By the weekend it was hard to find more than a couple steelhead to catch on the same piece of river. “I did receive a report from an angler that caught 6 steelhead out of the 10 that they had hooked on Saturday the 10th,” Palmer said. “Now, they were fishing in Elkton, which is a lot farther downstream, so hopefully that will help others plan their next trip.”
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—It’s been very cold and gloomy mornings on the Trinity with temperatures falling to 20 degrees and skies gray until late in the morning. The best fishing on the Trinity has continued to be upstream of Junction City, although the river is clear all the way to the mouth. Fish counts for good anglers can be a couple of adults up to half a dozen hookups from halfpounders to adults to about 7 pounds. Side-drifted roe and backtrolled plugs are working for spin and conventional anglers. Fly fishers were doing okay on Ugly Bugs and copper Johns. Dress warm.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—Steelheading was slow downstream of Junction City, although water conditions were great all the way to the mouth. However, Tom Wilson of Spey-Ghee Guide Service said that a nice run of halfpounders has moved into the lower end of the Trinity and are being taken on nightcrawlers and Blue Fox spinners
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Steelheading continued to be very good, and anglers were catching a nice mix of adult steelhead to about 6 pounds and trout or halfpounders. Just about any method has been working, including flies, drifted roe, and nightcrawlers, and backtrolled plugs.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen—The lower Klamath was clear and a few adults and halfpounders were being caught around Blue Creek and Johnson’s Riffle.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 27-percent capacity. Shore fishing from the west shore and at the dam had produced little success according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
CAPLES LAKE—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the lake was frozen to 30 yards out from the shore and shore fishing was no longer an option. If the cold weather prevails, the lake may freeze over by Christmas. enough to allow ice fishing. If any windy weather pops up, it could break up the existing ice and then all bets are off.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported that the river had a couple of feet of ice showing out from the bank—two feet thick in some places. The reach below Hangman’s Bridge has had very few visitors. Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters said that winter fishing during very cold conditions is very slow on the regulated section. Morning lows were running 5- to 18- degrees this past week—COLD!!
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 75-percent capacity. The lake is almost completely frozen over except at Mallard, Honker, and at the inlets of the west side creeks where there’s still a little bit of open water for shore fishing. Shore anglers at Mallard were doing pretty well on 14- to 19-inch rainbows using Power Bait or inflated nightcrawlers. Call J&J’s Grizzly Store, (530) 832-0270 or Ed Dillard at (530) 966-5500 for the latest lake conditions.
DONNER LAKE—Fishing has been slow overall, but one angler reported picking up two nice macks, 15 and 27 inches, on Power Bait fished near the boat ramp, according to Mountain hardware and Sports. Some boaters getting out, but it has been COLD!!
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 78-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that there was still no ice on the lake, but with the cold nights it wouldn’t be long before it begins to freeze over. Shore anglers were still doing well on the north end of the lake and on the west side at Lunker Point and Nightcrawler Bay using Power Bait and nightcrawlers. Some small boaters were still getting out and catching limits trolling along the dam and in Big Cove with Dick Nite and Needlefish spoons.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 68-percent capacity. With the clear weather, the trout trolling was still very good here this past week. Watch out for ice on the boat ramp in the early morning—4-wheel drive is recommended.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Clear, bitter cold conditions reduced fishing pressure to zero, according to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort. Lows of 5- to 18-degrees and highs in the high 30’s to low 40’s made fishing uncomfortable.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The lake is at 58-percent capacity. The lake is still accessible and should be good for shore fishing from the dam, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported that trollers were doing pretty well on planter rainbows and few macks running Rapalas and Kastmaster spoons at the entrance to the Narrows from the top down to 40 feet deep. Tim Williams of Camino caught a 20-inch mac and 4 rainbows this past weekend. Several boats were seen catching fish in the Narrows area. Shore fishing pressure was low this past week.
LAKE TAHOE—On a Saturday trip this past weekend, Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters said fishing was still very good. His last trip produced 10 keepers, 3 tagged fish, and 4 or 5 lost macks for 10 clients. The macks were on the bottom at 300 to 350 feet and hit Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported that a friend went out and landed 14 macks, 2 to 9 pounds. The 200- foot depth produced smaller, 2- to 3-pound fish, while 250 to 300 feet of water kicked out 5 to 9 pounders in Crystal Bay.
LOON LAKE—The lake is at 59-percent capacity. The road up here is icy and can be dangerous to travel. The boat launch ramp will definitely have ice problems. Use caution and a healthy dose of common sense before trying to head up here without 4-wheel drive.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 32-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported good action for shore anglers in the Prosser Creek arm below the inlet on lures and bait.
PYRAMID LAKE—Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported pretty good action trolling in the Spider Point, Warrior Point, Block House, Howard Bay, and Dago Bay areas for nice cutthroats in the 17- to 23- inch range at 15 to 30 feet deep on U-20 Flatfish. The quality of the fish has improved with a drop in the water temp—45- to 47-degrees. Shore anglers and fly fishermen were picking up a fish/hour at Rawhide, Block House, Sand Hole, and Indian Head. The Pyramid Lake Store checked in a 15-pound, 31 1/2-inch cutt that was caught-and-release by Don Osborne of Reno while fly fishing.
RED LAKE—Almost completely frozen over, but the ice is unsafe. There was still a little bit of open water showing in the middle of the lake according to Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters.
SILVER LAKE—No reports available from here, but nearby Caples Lake had ice showing out 100 feet from the shore. The lake is very low.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 88-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported good action for rainbows and macks for shore anglers casting Rapalas, spinners, and bait from the rocks at the dam.
TRUCKEE RIVER—The main river near Stateline and into Reno where flows were heavier was fishing well according to both Mountain Hardware and Sports and Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. Rainbows running 16 to 18 inches were common along with a few larger browns on baetis, San Juan Worms, streamers, and BWO’s. The Little Truckee is running very low and most anglers have decided to give the fish a break and back off this river.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 56-percent capacity. With icy road conditions off Pea Vine Ridge Road, Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported little fishing pressure here this past week—it’s been very COLD!
BENICIA—Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said he saw one big striped bass weighing 26 pounds, that fish caught at the Mothball Fleet by a Martinez angler, and some smaller stripers from the shoreline fishers.
BERKELEY—Scott Sutherland at Berkeley Sportfishing said the crab combos have been blessed with great weather, and limits of crabs and rockfish are the norm, with some lingcod showing. Saturday offered prime fishing conditions for 30 anglers on the Happy Hooker, with quick limits of rockfish, many 2- to 4-pound olives, and bocaccio to 12 pounds. The crabbing was off, but they also managed to box limits of Dungeness.
BODEGA BAY— Awesome ocean conditions made for excellent crab combo action on the New Sea Angler, with big Dungeness, rockfish limits, and some good lingcod counts. Top ling day was on Thursday when 24 anglers caught 14 lings to 16 pounds. Big ling of the week was a 19 pounder. “All our fishing is just a half hour away, and we were back at the harbor by 1 p.m. every single trip!” said Captain Rick Powers.
EMERYVILLE—Excellent turnout for the crab combo trips, and excellent results as well. On Wednesday, the New Huck Finn had 35 anglers who caught rockfish and crab limits; on Thursday, 31 anglers came up a little short on rockfish limits, but they still had 217 rockfish and crab limits. On Friday, the New Seeker ran with 16 anglers for rockfish and crab limits, and on Saturday and Sunday, both boats ran with the same limits results, plus some bonus lingcod.
EUREKA—WON field reporter Lonnie Dollarhide reported great crabbing. “There were a lot of sport crabbers out with the fine ocean conditions we had,” he said. “I jumped on board with Captain Tim Klassen on Reel Steel on Saturday. We left the dock at 7:30, and pulled just seven pots for our 60 crabs and limits, and were back to the docks at 8:25!” Because of very little rain, crabbing has been good inside the bay. The commercial fleet is estimating Jan. 16 as their first drop now, so still a few weeks of light competition on the sport fleet.
FORT BRAGG—Crabbing is still a top bet for anglers fishing on the charter boats. Otherwise, only shore fishing or spearfishing allowed for rockfish and lingcod.
HALF MOON BAY—Continued great action on crab combos and straight rockfish trips. On the Queen Of Hearts, anglers caught limits of rockfish or close to it, plus up to 7 bonus lingcod. They are ending their season a little early so Sherry and Bob Ingles can enjoy the holiday. Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat reported more great success with big rockfish and some nice lings showing on his crab combos.
MARTINEZ— On board Flash Fishing, Captain Steve Talmadge reported improving action on sturgeon trips. On Wednesday, 3 sturgeon hookups produced one farmed fish, and two shorties. On Thursday, his anglers again had 3 hookups, this time landing 2 shakers and a 54-inch keeper that hit for Robert Gonzeles of Hayward. Some big striped bass were weighed in, one going almost 24 pounds, the other 26.5 pounds.
POINT SAN PABLO—A sevengill cow shark trip on the Fury had a chance at a monster shark, but the fish broke the line. The 80 pounder they caught was a dink compared to the big one that got away. The group on board also caught some small fish, said Captain Frank Miller.
AMERICAN RIVER—The lower river below the closed salmon spawning area closed to salmon fishing last Sunday. Steelhead fishing is still available, but very few of the big steelhead being seen at the hatchery are being hooked. A few are being taken in Nimbus Basin, however, on beads, roe, and spinners.
FEATHER RIVER—Steelhead fishing had been really good on the riffles around Gridley, but an increase in flows to 6,400 cfs put a damper on the fishing. Some steelies to about 4 pounds were still being taken on egg patterns in the Low Flow Section.
FOLSOM LAKE—Bass fishing continued to be challenging, but some nice landlocked king salmon and trout were being taken on the main body and up in the North Fork. For bass, slowly work plastics and spoons over rockpiles 25 feet deep and deeper. It pays to experiment for the trout and king salmon. It might be Speedy Shiners at 55 feet, spinners, Glow Tubes, and grubs behind dodgers and sling blades. Try the main body from Granite Bay to the dam and up the North Fork.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Salmon season closed on Sunday downstream of Knight’s Landing. Striped bass fishing was quite good in the Deep Water Channel for both bank fishermen fishing off Marshall Road and River Road on bloodworms and mudsuckers and boaters drifting minnows and jigging Duh spoons in the turning Basin.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Balls Ferry—Salmon season ends on Dec. 18, but anglers fishing the area around Balls Ferry have been doing very well fishing plugs early and switching to roe later. Larger fish to 42 pounds were taking the plugs, while smaller kings preferred roe.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Trout fishing was very good again last week with most of the action concentrated at the upper end of river around the Posse Grounds. It’s been almost exclusively a Glo-Bug bite although Fly fishers paired egg patterns with Mayfly nymphs under indicators.
YUBA RIVER—Steelhead fishing in the Yuba slowed as salmon spawning is all but over on the Yuba.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Clear Lake Guide Service reports the mid-lake area of the lake as well as the deeper southern portions of the lake are getting most of the pressure, with anglers fishing deep regardless what they are using for baits. Various swimbaits, ripbaits, plastic worms and live bait are the choices of the successful anglers no matter where they are fishing. The catfish bite has really slowed down and the crappie remain elusive.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Few reports have come from here since the last wind episode, but the trout bite should still be going on, as well as the bass.
LAKE SONOMA— With bass moving into 25 to 40 feet, the best bet has been spooning or drop-shotting ledges on the main body or early in the morning ripping a Lucky Craft 128 or swimbait. Toplining small Rapalas, Needlefish and shad trolling flies out of Yorty Creek and in the main body will find the trout.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—Woolly Buggers with the Action Disk, worked from the surface down to 20 feet produced near limits or limits on the west side of the lake. This set-up has been the top producer here. Anglers have been hitting the banks on the west side with drop-shot worms and spinnerbaits but the action has slowed with the gin clear water.
LAKE ALMANOR—Some thin lake ice is starting to form overnight but melting by mid morning. Very few fish over 2 pounds were caught or reported over the full moon phase. Trolling from Lake Cove to the Dorado Inn and the east side of the peninsula produced the most action on the usual tackle including Speedy Shiners, nightcrawlers and Rainbow Runners.
BAUM LAKE—Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney reports the lake is still fishing well for trout. 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 doing well, as are Kastmasters and Panther Martins.
EAGLE LAKE—The north end shut down due to ice in the bay, but you can launch at the south end at the new low water ramp at the Gallatin Marina. Bring chains if you are going to launch. The lake closes to fishing 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— Packers Bay has had had some plants and there are a bunch of trout, some over 2 pounds close in. Large trout are in the top 5 feet and are everywhere in the main body. There is still a morning bass reaction bite with topwater and ripbaits including the new popular Alabama rig modified to a three wire rig with three hooks. As the day warms up, and shadows appear, go back to the bank and hit the shade pockets with worms or jigs since the fish are just beginning to go for the crawdads as the shad go deep.
AMERICAN RIVER—Not much fishing pressure here with the extremely cold weather.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported that bass fishing was good enough to attract some out-of-state anglers who had read about the big spotted bass here. Swimbaits and shad pattern Senkos fished on the main body points should produce some nice fish. Trout fishing has been good up in Willow Creek.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake level has risen a couple of feet ensuring easy boat launching off the North Shore Resort ramp. The Resort reported that anglers were catching some nice smallmouth bass off the points on green pumpkin worms.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake received a 4000-pound DFG trout plant this past Wednesday and anglers have been catching lots of limits off the dam on Power Bait.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 93-percent capacity. According to Will Fish Tackle in Auburn, trout trolling is still excellent for boaters using flasher/worm combos in the marina. The shore between the marina ramp and the Army Corps ramp has been producing 9- to 11-inch rainbows for bank anglers. Up lake from Keystone Cove to Buck’s Beach, bait drifters have been catching 12- to 14-inch rainbows and a few 12-inch browns.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that Mosquito Ridge Rd. was still open to the lake but had some icy spots to cross and 4-wheel drive was recommended. The boat ramp was also reported to be icy and boaters need to use extreme caution and 4-wheel drive when attempting to launch. It’s been very cold up here and few anglers have been making the trip.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 66-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake and the boat ramp had icy spots and 4-wheel drive was recommended. There have been few anglers visiting the lake due to the extreme cold. The USFS also reported some active fires in the area that were still being fought but they were not affecting access to the lake.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 77-percent capacity and was dropping a foot a day. The Anglers Choice Pro Team event on Saturday was won by Gary Dobyns—again!! Dobyns weighed in almost 15 pounds with a 4-pound big fish for the win. Reports indicated that there was a reaction bite in the main body on some of the breezy banks in the early morning. Jigs and worms caught the bulk of the fish and the new umbrella rig (or Alabama rig) picked up a few. The second place team weighed in a 3.56-pound spot that spit up a 7-inch coho just before it was weighed in for a loss of about 1/4-pound!!
ROLLINS LAKE—Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that the trout trolling success had dropped off due to the cold and reduced fishing pressure. Call ahead for available launching—on last report, Orchard Springs had the only operational ramp.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that access to the parking lot and launch ramp was open but that there was little fishing pressure on the lake as observed by USFS staff.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that there were some icy spots on the road to the lake and on the gravel boat ramp, especially early in the morning, but those with 4-wheel drive had no problem reaching the lake or the boat ramp. Use caution if trying to launch a boat on an icy ramp. Trollers were still taking a few rainbows on flasher/worm combos.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake is at 61-percent capacity—130.4-foot elevation at press time. Oroville Outdoors reported were little fishing pressure here due to the cold—none of the regulars had been out fishing here for weeks. At this elevation any bass will be out on the rocks in the channels.