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.-Dave Castellanos of Cast Guide Service fished here over the weekend and said they did well on the steelhead in the lower river, and caught and released some older kings. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing confirmed the big number of steelhead in the river lying below spawning kings, and warned that the low and clear river conditions require “stealth” fishing tactics. Many steelhead are holding in the lower river waiting for rain.
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.-This river is in no condition to be fished from a driftboat until there is a large storm bringing water into it for a couple days, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. He said the river is a good producer, and he expects this year to be great for boaters and shore anglers. When that first rise in the river comes, I am expecting a rush of a few hundred-plus steelhead to race up the river, so be watching those distant forecasts.
RUSSIAN RIVER-Steelhead, action is still pretty good, although it’s tougher because of low, clear flows. But plenty of fish around, and the guys in the know are picking them up. The river mouth is going in and out, opening and closing as big waves have pushed up sand. There will be a little trickle going out, then it backs up and blows open again. Fish are in the river up to Dry Creek, and more will come when it rains.
SMITH RIVER-Low and clear, and needs rain badly, but there’s still some action going on for mostly dark kings and some fresh steelhead, according to guide Dave Castellanos of Cast Guide Service, who fished it over the weekend for some of both. The steelies will pour in when the rains hit.
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.–If the river levels stay low and clear, like they were for a few years around 2001, we may have the same great fishing as back then, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. I am receiving reports from anglers that the steelhead are slow and sluggish in the morning, but they’re explosive in the afternoon when it warms up. John Rains of Roseburg, Ore., caught the first 20-pound steelie that Palmer has seen so far, caught with a local guide. The fish was 40 1/2 inches long. He expects many more from here this winter.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.–River level is crystal clear, and there have been bright steelhead moving upriver over the last couple of weeks. It is next to impossible to get a driftboat from one launch downriver to the next take out in these water conditions. There aren’t any weather reports showing any rain in the near future that will add any measurable amount of water to the system.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City-The fishing and weather pattern changed very little in the last week. It was very cold once again, with early morning temperature falling below 20. Hardworking anglers have been hooking 3 to 6 steelhead to about 7 pounds an outing on small flies under indicators, side-drifted roe and backtrolled Wee Warts and Crawdads. Fly fishers have been using Ugly Bugs and copper Johns.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-Steelheading picked up downstream of the South Fork down to the mouth in a mix of halfpounders and adults. Some steelhead were being caught in the South, fork, too. The water is very low and clear, and air temperatures are very cold in the mornings. The best fishing has been on side-drifted roe.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam-Air and water temperatures have been very cold, and fishing pressure has been very light. However, fishing has been very good for the few anglers trying. It’s a mix of halfpounders and adult steelhead to 6 or 7 pounds, and they are being caught on drifted roe and nightcrawlers, and backtrolled plugs.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen-The lower river continued to be very low and clear with a few adults and halfpounders being caught around Blue Creek and Johnson’s Riffle.
BERKELEY-Berkeley Charter Boats is wrapping up their season in grand winter style, according to Scott Sutherland, who said, “we’ve been running rockcod/crab combos and have caught limits of rockcod and Dungeness crab every trip. Ocean conditions have been excellent, apart from cold mornings.” On Friday the El Dorado had 16 limits of cod and crab, one lingcod about 4-5 pounds just outside North Farallon Island. Lingcod have been slow, with one and two per boat and none of the bragging-size range. The Happy Hooker out of Berkeley Landing ran a limit-fishing combo trip on Saturday, followed by more limits for 20 people on Sunday.
BODEGA BAY-Good-to-great days followed by a slow day have kept human fish finders on their toes. Most days see easy fishing for rockfish while lingcod go on the bite sporadically. When the lings are on, they are really on, as Capt. Steve Moncton of the Reellentless explained, “Saturday the lings moved in to the area I was fishing and we ended up with 9 lings to 30 pounds. Crabbing is still solid with everyone still getting their share.” Comfortable seas made fishing a pleasure.
CROCKETT-Sharks, sturgeon and stripers provided enough action to keep anglers interested while fishing San Pablo Bay out of Crockett, with leopard shark headlining the action. With better tides and hopefully less wind ahead, prospects are good for continued action next week. Capt. Jim Cox managed to scratch “catch a shark” off the bucket list of angler Renee Lighty of Fremont who went home with a sense of accomplishment.
EMERYVILLE-Combo trips aboard the New Huck Finn and New Seeker to the Farallons benefitted from calm water this week, allowing for dependable limits of rockfish and crab. A few good lings came over the rails on these trips, however, “Private boaters report better lingcod fishing along the coast”, said Gary Freedman at Emeryville Sportfishing. Shrimp flies accounted for most rockfish whereas ling bars (jigs) were the favored offering for lingcod specialists.
EUREKA-Crabs for anglers aboard Reel Steel, rockfish and clams for shore anglers summed up the action throughout the Humboldt Bay area. Crabbing proved productive near the Coast Guard Station and included some bigger units, while shoreside anglers scored rockfish from jetties. Bob Stewart on his private boat Rave On ran out with his two man crew and found easy limits also. Good weather helped everyone make the most of opportunities, however forecasted winds ahead will quiet the fishing this week.
HALF MOON BAY- Coastal trips out of Half Moon Bay Sportfishing are targeting rockfish and lingcod, with good counts posted regularly. Lingcod fishing seems best along the coast this month with some of the best counts and weights (up to 21 pounds) coming from off of Pescadero and Martins Beach where light tackle enthusiasts use bass tackle and swimbaits or light jigs as well as the typical shrimp flies with squid strips commonly used for rockfish. Capt. Tom Mattusch aboard the Huli Cat said, “Balaji Raghunathan was fishing on the Huli Cat off San Gregorio when he hooked his first ever lingcod, a fish not to forget. Balaji was using shrimpflies tipped with squid in 144 feet of water.
MARTINEZ-Julia Patrick from Phoenix fishing aboard a private boat out of Martinez last weekend caught her very first striper… a 23-pounder near Roe Island on ghost shrimp. Since then, private boaters are targeting sturgeon and stripers near the power plant off of Pittsburgh and the Ozal area out of Martinez Marina. Lisa Rezentes from Martinez Marina Bait and Tackle said, “Most stripers are being caught on bullheads, grass shrimp and pileworms, while sturgeon are baited with salmon roe, grass shrimp and ghost shrimp.”
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-There are a few areas around the lake that are “community holes” and great places to start tracking down bass whether tossing artificials or using live bait. The Rocky Point area, some of the deeper docks along the Nice shoreline, the mid-lake area, and the western shoreline of the Redbud arm are typical winter areas. Another trick to consider, wait until the sun warms up the water before you go out.
LAKE BERRYESSA-Bass and trout fisherman are both enjoying some good to great fishing throughout the lake as they are feeding on shad balls all over the lake. Anglers are looking for the birds (grebes) and using their electronics to find the bait balls and then fishing through them. The main body around the Big Island, Wragg Canyon and Haines Creek have been holding good numbers of bait balls.
LAKE SONOMA- Some rain would help here, to muddy up the gin clear water for bass fishing and entice the steelies to move up the creek arms. In the meantime, trolling flies, Needlefish, Apex and other shad imitations will help bring in your 2-fish steelie limit. For the tough bass bite, try shaking 6-inch Robo worms in natural colors around submerged structure.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-Woolly Buggers with the Action Disk were the hot ticket here. This past week, honors went to the Super Duper instead. Limits were caught on the west end by the Highway in about 30 feet for trout from 2 to 2 1/4 pounds. Be mindful of early and late in the day black ice.
LAKE ALMANOR-The trout fishing picked up with the full moon now waning. Some of the better winter trolling lanes include from Rec.1 to the A- Frame for some big fish, and scattered bait fish but, lots of pesky, dink salmon. From Prattville to the Almanor West ramp for brown and rainbow trout. The East shore from the Canyon Dam to the Dorado Inn for browns, rainbows and some 2-year-old salmon. And from Big Cove to Hamilton Branch for some browns but more of those pesky little salmon too.
BAUM LAKE-Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney reported 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. Excellent hatches have started again after a brief hiatus. 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, but there have been no new reports.
PIT RIVER-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-There is still a morning reaction bite for bass with topwater in 25 to 30 feet due to the gin clear water. As the day warms up, and shadows appear go back to the bank and hit the shade pockets with worms or jigs. Try shoreline fishing for trout as the waters are warmer, and you can’t beat a worm and a bobber.
AMERICAN RIVER-The American River reopens in the stretch know as the salmon spawning closure area upstream of the power lines crossing the river at Ancil Hoffman Park to the USGS cable crossing the river at Nimbus Hatchery. It should be a pretty good opener based on the number of adult steelhead that have been climbing the ladder at the Hatchery. Flows are very fishable, too, at 2,000 cfs.
FEATHER RIVER-Steelhead fishing has tapered off on the riffles around Gridley because of high flows, but a few steelhead to 4 pounds are still being taken on egg patterns in the Low Flow Section.
FOLSOM LAKE-Bass fishing has gone into its winter mode and fishing has really slowed with the few fish being taken biting softly on plastics worked slowly over deep rock piles containing concentrations of bait. It’s not fast fishing, but some nice landlocked king salmon and trout continued to be caught on the main body and up in the North Fork on Speedy Shiners at 55 feet, spinners, Glow Tubes, and grubs behind dodgers and sling blades. Try different speeds and lures until you find a winning combination.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-Salmon season has closed throughout the river, and the season, overall, was pretty good. Not many stripers are being caught on the main river, but some good fish are being caught in the Deep Water Channel from the bank off Jefferson and Marshall, on mudsuckers and bloodworms, and from boats drifting minnows jigging Duh spoons in the turning Basin. Some sturgeon are starting to show up, too.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Balls Ferry-Salmon season ended on Sunday on a pretty good note with an influx of fresh hatchery fish. There were a lot of smaller fish caught this season indicating that next year should be good, too.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing continued to be excellent, with quite a few salmon still on spawning beds and fat rainbows lined up behind them picking up stray eggs. The best action has been the upper end of river around the Posse Grounds. Glo-Bugs have continued to work best, but Mayfly nymphs under indicators have also been scoring.
YUBA RIVER-While steelhead fishing in the Yuba has tapered off from its peak, some steelies were taken by fly fishers walking downstream from the Highway 20 Bridge.
AMERICAN RIVER-According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, “if you had tall shoes, you could walk across both the North Fork and Middle Fork without getting your socks wet”, so the river is low. Few fishermen have been seen.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported that bass boaters were showing up at the lake in good numbers. The spotted bass bite should be good on the points at 30 to 50 feet deep. Trout trollers were doing well in Willow Creek using flasher/worm combos.
CAMP FAR WEST-Bass anglers were doing fair on smaller fish holding on the points at 30 feet deep, according to North Shore Resort.
COLLINS LAKE-Collins Lake Resort reported that trout fishing was excellent with lots of limits of DFG planters. Anglers using bobber/worms and Power Bait were doing well at the dam in the morning and at the beach and docks in the afternoon. Trollers also did well at the dam on Wedding Ring spinners
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Trout trolling was still excellent in the marina and out by the dam for smaller DFG planters. Larger rainbows and a few browns were hitting for trollers using flasher/worm combos 10 feet deep at Boston Bar. One boat reported catching 8 fish-6 rainbows and 2 browns to 16 inches-at Boston Bar.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is at 45-percent capacity. With the fair weather of late, the lake is still accessible, but anglers need to cautious about icy spots on the road and the boat ramp. There’s been very little traffic up here.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 64-percent capacity. With no snow fall recently, the road to the lake is open, but anglers need to watch out for icy spots on the road and at the boat ramp, according to the Georgetown Ranger Station. The fires seen last week were all out. There are a lot of downed trees on the side roads to the lake caused by the high winds a couple of weeks back-get a firewood permit and start cutting!!
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. The fishing was good for some and tough for others. The bulk of the fish being caught were coming off the points, 25 to 35 feet deep, on tubes and jigs. There has been an early topwater and ripbait bite-Gary Dobyns’ winning technique at the last AC Pro-Team-that was kicking out larger fish.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is very low, but trollers can still launch small boats at Orchard Springs. Trout action has been good for trollers and shore anglers at the dam.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-Jim Caldwell at Scott’s Flat Lake Resort reported that fishing was slow-mostly due to light fishing pressure. Some rainbows and smallmouth bass were seen this past week.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-Beautiful weather, but little to report from this lake. There should be some holdover trout available for the warmly dressed angler either from shore or trolling a flasher/worm combo.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that boaters were still catching some planter rainbows trolling flasher/worm combos and Rapalas. Watch for icy spots on the road and boat ramp, especially early in the morning.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-The lake is at 71-percent capacity-132-foot elevation at press time. The cold weather shut off the bass fishing according to Oroville Outdoors. There should be some trout action at Wilbur Rd.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 21-percent capacity and about half frozen over-ice at the dam and open at the inlet. Fishing at the inlet was good. Ice fishing could start soon, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports
CAPLES LAKE-The lake should be nearly frozen over. The Caples Lake Resort will open for the winter season on Dec. 20 so interested anglers should contact the resort to find out about the latest ice conditions before making the trip at 209-258-8888.
CARSON RIVER (East)-COLD and SLOW!!! A late afternoon on a sunny day might yield a short bite on baetis or midge patterns if the water warms up a degree or two. Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters recommended waiting until after the New Year before spending much time here.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. The ice at the dam was a safe 5 inches thick and anglers were doing well this past weekend on rainbows to 16 inches using Power Bait about 1 foot off the bottom, according to Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing. There was still a little bit of open water off Mallard Point for shore fishing, but this won’t stay open long. Access was good around the lake due to the beautiful weather and lack of snow.
DONNER LAKE-The lake is open and rainbows were being caught on worms off the piers on the west end, especially on overcast days, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 78-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that ice was forming around the edges of the lake and at Turkey Point in the mornings. Shore fishermen were still doing well at the Frenchman’s boat ramp, the dam and at Lunker Point on Power Bait and nightcrawler/marshmallow combos. The roads around the lake were still open.
GOLD LAKES BASIN-Due to the good weather and lack of recent snow, the road to Sardine Lake was open. The roads to Gold Lake and Salmon Lake were icy but passable with 4-wheel drive according to Bassetts Station.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported that trollers were still doing well here toplining dodger/worm or grub combos. There could be some icy spots on the road to the lake and at the boat ramp, so anglers need to use caution and 4-wheel drive when traveling here.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The roads were open with the good weather, but it has been cold and there could be some ice on the road-use caution!
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR-Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the lake was open this past week, but could be frozen over soon with the cold nights. Fishing for big rainbows was good where there was open water by last report.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Rainbows were falling for worms, Power Bait and lures at the first dam. Trollers were catching a few macks in the channel between the second dam and the island, and in the Narrows. Erik Arinas picked up a 2 1/2 pounder on a Kastmaster.
LAKE TAHOE-The bite toughened up for Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters. On Saturday, his 12 clients only picked up 5 fish to 5 pounds. On Sunday, he reported picking up 12 fish running 3 1/2 to 5 pounds from 200 to 350 feet deep off Carnelian Bay on Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos.
LOON LAKE-The lake is at 59-percent capacity. According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, the boat ramp is still open, though it has been very cold up here!! The road is icy and requires 4-wheel drive.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 33-percent capacity. The lake is frozen over and loaded with hockey players and skaters, but no fishermen according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported consistent trolling action for cutthroats at Dago Bay, Howard Bay, the North Nets, and Pelican Point running U-20 blood Flatfish at 12 to 17 feet deep. 12 to 15 fish per day is still a good count. Fly fishermen need to bring a float tube or pontoon boat to get out past the flats to the drop-offs in order to consistently catch fish. The lake is higher than normal for this time of year and the drop-offs are too far out to reach from the usual “Ladder Stand” approach usually seen along the west side beaches.
RED LAKE-According to Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, fishermen have made it out on safe ice. Fishing should be good.
SILVER LAKE-The lake should be nearly frozen over, if not completely frozen. Few reports have been available.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 87-percent capacity. Rick Kennedy at Tight Lines Guide Service visited the lake this past weekend and experienced a great mid-morning bite on macks landing 4 fish from 3 1/2 to 13 pounds trolling Sting Fish from the surface to 20 feet deep over 30 to 40 feet of water. The water temp is cold-36- to 40-degrees-but this bite should last as long as the weather stays nice. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that a client landed an 11-pound mack on a J-11 rainbow trout Rapala while casting off the dam.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that fishing in the canyon on the CA side of the main river was tough-action was much better on the NV side through Reno on BWO dries and nymphs, and golden and black stoneflies. The Little Truckee was fishing well on BWO and midge dries for both rainbows and browns. The browns are done spawning and beginning to feed again. Anglers have a chance at trout over 20 inches on both rivers.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 55-percent capacity. It’s been cold and icy here with few anglers heading up Pea Vine Ridge Road. No reported fishing pressure according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service.