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.-December was good steelheading despite the lack of rains, but that was all changed over the New Year’s weekend when it blew out big time. Plunkers were finding lots of fresh steelhead moving into the river by Sunday. The river is dropping and was expected to be in prime condition by Wednesday, with the steelhead season in full swing.
COQUILLE RIVER, East Fork, Myrtle Point, Ore.–This small river was still a little high on January 1, but still fishable. WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service and 4 other boats fished until noon and couldn’t find a steelhead between them. “Due to the extreme low water during the month of December, it appears that the fish have not made it up this fork yet, but will be there in a week, that I am sure of!” he said.
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.-WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service and a few friends fished New Year’s Day. They launched the drift boat at Haze Ranch around 1:00 p.m. after fishing on the East Fork. The river was at 3.7 feet and dropping–perfect fishing conditions for this river. “We had our first steelhead of the new year within a half hour of starting. The second fish for the day came an hour after that. “With this river on such a fast drop and judging by the color change, I feel the hot spot in Southern Oregon for winter steelhead is going to be the South Fork of the Coquille River.”
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.-Following a slow December due to little rain and low flows, the river finally dropped enough from being blown out for anglers to get out and try for steelies-and steelhead there were! Plunkers fishing from gravel bars between Gold Beach and Agness and jet boaters running plugs or Spin-N-Glos reported improved catches once the leaves, sticks and other debris flowing down the Rogue began to clear up.
RUSSIAN RIVER-Water is really low and clear, but there are steelhead in the river and a few are being caught with stealth methods. The mouth opened Wednesday a little bit for a while, but the seals are hammering those fish that make it through. It’s a wonder there’s any fish left in the system with all the seals at the mouth. Rain will bring in the major part of the run.
SMITH RIVER-The river received 4 inches of rain prior to the weekend and went up 23 feet, dropping down to plunking water over the weekend, when anglers scored well fishing the quiet water. They were expecting to begin sidedrifting the river within days. Two steelies over 20 pounds were already reported from the river, and numerous steelhead from 10 to 15 pounds were reported. The river is expected to be prime this week.
SOUTHERN OREGON RIVERS-Almost all of the southern Oregon rivers were blown out over the New Year’s weekend, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secret’s Guide Service. “Water level’s on many of our rivers were lower than summer heights and many rivers had become too low to float in a driftboat,” he said of conditions prior to the rain. “It will take a few days before bank angling will be in prime shape for winter steelhead, but by Jan. 7 most of the rivers should be back in shape and have winter steelhead spread throughout all the river systems.”
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City-Fishing was fair, but better than other parts of the river, and most of the steelhead have been around awhile. That’s because the mouth of the Klamath is has been blocked by a huge sandbar, but has been opened by equipment. Rain finally came in last week giving anglers hope for some fresh fish. Fishing pressure continued to be light, especially during the week. Dead drift small nymphs like copper Johns and golden stones under indicators. Spin fishermen have been sidedrifting roe. Backtrolled plugs has also been working. Fishing downstream to the mouth has been slow, but should change with some rain.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek– Some steelhead were being caught in the South Fork, but access is being denied to non-tribal members on Hoopa Reservation lands.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam-Air and water temperatures have been very cold, but the river is clear, and fishing pressure has been very light. Fishing has been very good for the few anglers trying, with anglers catching a dozen or so halfpounders and trout plus several adults to about 6 pounds. Drifted roe, nightcrawlers, and backtrolled plugs have been the baits and lures of choice. It’s been too cold for a good fly bite.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen-The sand bar blocking the lower river has been breached, first by heavy equipment, then by heavy rains. It was high and muddy over the weekend, but dropping fast. Lots of fresh steelhead were flying upriver and should now be available to anglers on the higher reaches of the Klamath and Trinity.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-Clear Lake Guide Service reported no scheduled tournament activity over the next few weeks and the weather looks dry, so if a 24- to 27-pound limit of fish sounds good to you, get here and start lobbing some baits. For an angler unfamiliar with the lake, the mid lake area is a good place to start. There have also been some good reports from anglers fishing live bait down around Rattlesnake Island as well.
LAKE BERRYESSA-Trout trolling continues to be good for anglers using lures or minnows.
LAKE SONOMA-Gin clear water continues to make fishing tough but trolling flies, Needlefish, Apex and other shad imitations will help bring in a 2-fish landlocked steelie limit. For the tough bass bite, try shaking 6-inch Robo worms in natural colors around submerged structure.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-The trout fishing has been fair but anglers are hooking about 10 and catching maybe three as they are hitting light and anglers don’t seem to be rigged up for that. Try small (3-inch) silver lures. The good news here is that DFG has put the lake back on its regular, once a month planting list, and not with the reduced numbers the lake had last year either! It should be a great year, with lots more fish, but don’t forget to have your boat inspected for quagga muscles and get your sticker. The Narrows Resort has inspections and a lunching.
LAKE ALMANOR-Just outside the log boom at Rec. 2 there are several springs; a few are quite large and brown trout have been all over the place in a post spawn bite. Use nightcrawlers with a garlic scent suspended 4 feet off the bottom or roe for rainbow trout. Geritol Cove is where you’ll find the shoreline anglers.
BAUM LAKE-Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney reported the lake is still fishing well. This lake is a winter time favorite with locals. Fly fishermen are having some 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 are doing well, as are Kastmasters and Panther Martins.
EAGLE LAKE-Closed December 31 to all fishing.
PIT RIVER-According to The Fly shop in Redding, there has not been a lot of news to report here. Conditions are great and that typically means good fishing. The best bite should still be midday when the waters are at their warmest. Consider giving this river a shot while you can, once it rains or snows, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
SHASTA LAKE-As the day warms up, work the banks and shade pockets with worms or jigs for bass. It has been a hit or miss proposition, but a great was to enjoy the winter time outdoors. Shoreline fishing for trout has been good with a worm and a bobber. Trolling continues to produce limits by covering water; try Jones Valley, or some of the coves in the Pitt arm.
AMERICAN RIVER-Fishing pressure for steelhead was heavy opening day on 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-but angler success was spotty, as usual, except for an opening flurry of success-mostly by experienced steelhead anglers at Sailors Bar, and the first riffle below Nimbus Hatchery. Some nice steelhead were hooked, but, as usual, the best fishing was in Nimbus Basin above Hazel Ave. Bridge-for those in interested in maximizing your chances of hooking a steelhead and not concerned about lots of company. Flows are down to 1,750 cfs, and fish are easily seen on their spawning beds. Please let them spawn in peace
FEATHER RIVER-Steelhead fishing picked up again, especially around Gridley as flows dropped to 2,500 cfs and riffles became wadeable again. Egg patterns have become less effective as salmon spawning tapers down, but indicator fishing with small nymphs have been scoring some bites both on the main stem of the Feather and the Low Flow Section.
FOLSOM LAKE-Find the baitballs, find the fish. Fish deep over structure and fish very slowly. That’s the key to hooking a few bass at Folsom. Even so, the action is likely to be painfully slow in the cold water. Spooning, drop-shotting, jigging are the methods du jour. Forget reaction baits-unless you get bored silly with the slow approach. But don’t expect to hook anything. Trollers were getting a few nice king salmon and trout on Hoochies, Speedy Shiners, and small Rapalas fished between 45 and 55 feet deep on the main body, but the score
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-Fishing was slow on the Sac, but a few striped bass were being caught in the Deep Water Channel from the Turning Basin to the palm tree. Boaters were doing better than bankies drifting minnows and jigging with Duh Spoons and Hopkins Spoons in chartreuse. Bankies fishing off Marshall were getting a few fish from 3 to 8 pounds on bloodworms and sardines. Sturgeon fishing was slow with very few reported from Hood to Tisdale.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing continued to be very good. There were still a fair number of salmon spawning, so egg patterns paired with a small Mayfly or caddis nymph imitation under an indicator, provided nice action for rainbows to 20 inches. Spin fishermen drifted Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers. For bigger fish, spend most of your time around Redding to Anderson. For numbers and the occasional steelhead, fish from Anderson to Balls Ferry.
YUBA RIVER-There was a bit of an upsurge in steelhead fishing on the Yuba River last week below Daguerre Dam. Fly fishers were scoring on nymphs under indictors while spin fishermen swung spinners. A few anglers were able to access the river from small jet boats, while bankies walked in at Walnut Ave.
BERKELEY- Crabbing slowed during the last few days of the season, however limits still prevailed with a bit more work than usual. Rockfishing at Duxberry Reef and off Stinson Beach produced easy limits to go along with the crabs. The bulk of rockfish are yellowtail and olives but anglers were kept on their toes by lingcod to 14 pounds.
BODEGA BAY-Boaters spent the last few days of groundfish season fishing rocky areas like Timber Cove and down off of Point Reyes to hook into rockfish and lingcod using shrimp fly rigs, halibut rigs or working jigs just above the reefs. The New Sea Angler enjoyed a run on lingcod with five trips accounting for 70 lingcod. One lucky/skilled angler had a 35-pound limit. Kayakers got into the act with quality fishing available close to shore. More recently, shore-based anglers are working beaches and rocky areas for perch and smaller rockfish.
EMERYVILLE-Season finale combo trips to the Farallon Islands aboard the New Huck Finn and New Seeker resulted in counts anglers could bet on… limits of both rockfish and Dungeness crabs. The only real variable in the stories of the trips (which typically included 20 to 30 anglers per boat) were the number and size of lingcod which tended to weigh in at between 8 and 13 pounds.
EUREKA-Rapidly-changing weather and sea conditions made crabbing difficult during the final few days of the boat-based season, but when the weather turned nice it was easy to run multiple trips per day with limits for all. The end of the season marked a shift to shore-based angling in Humboldt Bay where surf perch are beginning to bite.
FORT BRAGG-Crabbing is as good as it gets off of Fort Bragg where quick soaks produced easy limits of keeper crabs. Shoreside anglers found some bragging size cabezon and lingcod by making strategic casts to rocky holding areas off of Mendocino Headlands and at Glass Beach at the north end of town.
HALF MOON BAY-Inclement weather and then lack of angler activity kept boats out of action early in the period, but both factors improved by season’s end to allow Queen of Hearts to end their boating year with 18 limits of rockfish for 18 anglers, 9 lingcod to 14 pounds and 2 cabezon to 5 pounds.
MARTINEZ-Sturgeon action concentrated in an area a mile north of the mothball fleet where good slot-size keepers ate salmon roe and rewarded anglers with good long fights. Best bites occurred during outgoing tides.
PACIFICA-Surf fishing produced fair catches of perch–both barred surf perch and red tail perch–for anglers who knew to cast to trenches dug by breaking waves. Dungeness crab fishing proved better than fair for anglers casting locally-made snares (check them out at Coastside Bait and Tackle in Pacifica).
SAN RAFAEL-Sturgeon fishing continued with mixed results from one day to the next… nothing for two days in a row and then banner fishing for a couple of days. Slow tides at the end of 2011 resulted in slow fishing, but strong tides in the new year were perfect. “Striped bass fishing is in a lull,” said Keith Fraser at Loch Lomand Bait, although bass are moving toward the Delta to spawn.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 16-percent capacity. Ice near the dam is unstable so ice fishing IS NOT RECOMMENDED!!! Open water at the inlet is fishable from the shore for trout and macks.
CAPLES LAKE-According to John Voss at the Caples Lake Resort, the ice was 6 to 8 inches thick on the whole lake and ice fishermen were doing well at the spillway.
CARSON RIVER (East)-According to Todd Sodaro at Carson River Resort, the river is 75-percent frozen over and no one is fishing-it’s just too cold!!
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that ice fishing was good at the dam where the ice was 6 inches thick. Suspending Power Bait, worms, or crappie tube jigs 10 to 25 feet deep over 50- to 80-foot water or fishing on the bottom in shallow water was producing 15- to 19-inch rainbows. For more ice fishing info, call Dillard at 530-966-5500, or J&J’s Grizzly Store at 530-832-0270.
DONNER LAKE-The lake is open but fishing overall was slow. Some small macks, 2 to 3 pounds, were hitting cast spoons and lures for shore anglers on the west end of the lake, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 78-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported 5 inches of ice at the dam, though there was still open water past the ice. Turkey Point was frozen as was the area around Spring Creek and part of Big Cove. There was still open water along the west side of the lake for shore fishermen. Shore fishing was producing limits of 14- to 18-inch rainbows on nightcrawlers and marshmallows in the late morning.
GOLD LAKES BASIN-Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported that ice fishing on Gold Lake was good at the west end at the buoy line near the resort. Anglers have been jigging up macks to 24 inches on Kastmaster spoons.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 68-percent capacity. As long as the weather cooperates, trout trolling will remain excellent for boaters running a Wild Thing dodger trailing a threaded mini-crawler, according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing service recommended a Sep’s watermelon Half-Fast dodger trailing a Sep’s brown or green grub toplined at slow speed for 30 to 40 rainbows per day.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-According to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort, the lake was frozen over and ice skaters were out in force, but few, if any, fishermen.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR-Some say the lake was frozen and some said it was open-Mountain Hardware and Sports wasn’t sure about the condition of the lake. It should still be accessible.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Sly Park Resort reported decent action on planter rainbows at the first dam on Power Bait and worms. The mack trolling slowed down with the cold weather.
LAKE TAHOE-Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters reported good action deep trolling for macks running 4 to 5 1/2 pounds in 300 to 400 feet of water. Daniels said the fish were on the bottom and hitting Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos.
LOON LAKE-The lake is at 58-percent capacity. According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, the gate to the boat ramp was still open but few anglers were visiting the lake due to the cold and the good fishing at Ice House.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 32-percent capacity. Ice fishing is good very early in the morning before the ice skaters and bikers get on the ice. You need to get out early, set up, and stay quiet to keep the fish from getting spooked-after the crowds arrive, forget it!!
PYRAMID LAKE-Eagle Eye Charters had two boats out with a total of 8 clients when WON called. They caught 29 cutthroats between 17 and 24 inches on blood frog and yellow/red dot U-20 FlatFish trolling 15 to 25 feet deep over 30 feet of water at the North Nets and Warrior Point. Shore fishermen were doing poorly due to the inability to reach the drop-offs, but fly fishermen in float tubes or pontoon boats did well in 15 to 20 feet of water. 8 to 10 fish per day can be expected for fly fishermen at the Block House and Indian Head.
RED LAKE-Ice fishermen doing well at the dam over 10 to 15 feet of water on Power Bait, worms, and jigged Kastmaster spoons, according to Tahoe Fly fishing Outfitters.
SILVER LAKE-Ice fishing should be good, but no reports were available.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 87-percent capacity. For rainbows, fish the shallower Sagehen and Little Truckee arms where the water might be a little warmer. The mack bite slowed at the dam, but trollers were still picking up a few fish-shore casting was very slow.
TOPAZ LAKE-Chuck and Linda Fields at Topaz Landing Marina expect a fantastic opener depending on the weather, which looks to be good for some time. Shore anglers did well, as did trollers, but not many quality fish over 3 pounds were caught on opening weekend.
TRUCKEE RIVER-The fly fishing was slower this past week with the cold, according to Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. There were some fish biting, but a lot of time and effort resulted in little return. Baetis and midge patterns were the most consistent producers, particularly near Reno. The Little Truckee was very crowded and the fish were SPOOKY!!
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Though Pea Vine Ridge Road was open, it is riddled with pot holes and icy spots according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle. Dale Daneman expressed some concern as to whether the ramp at West Point by the dam was even in the water at the current lake level. Go to Ice House where access and fishing are both excellent.
AMERICAN RIVER-According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, the flows were low and clear, and there were no reports of any fishing pressure below the Hwy. 49 bridge, where it’s open.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported that bass anglers were picking up lots of 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound spots on worms, jigs, and swimbaits fished on the main body points at 20 to 50 feet deep.
CAMP FAR WEST-Lots of boaters out, but fishing was reported to be slow for smaller bass. Most boats were heading up into the Bear River and Rock Creek arms rather than fishing on the main lake area. Worms and jigs should be working.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake received a DFG trout plant this past week. Trout fishing was great over the holidays for families taking advantage of the break and loading up on rainbows while shore fishing with Power Bait at the dam, beach, docks, and the campgrounds. The Monk family from Marysville landed 23 trout one day this past week.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Lots of boaters were trolling in the marina and up lake near Boston Bar. The rainbows in the marina were still running 9- to 10 inches and hitting flasher/worm combos, while bigger fish were hitting drifted Power Bait and nightcrawlers or flasher/worm combos up lake. Check with Skippers Cove Marina for more info-530-432-6302.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is at 42-percent capacity. The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the road to the lake had shady corners covered “with ice inches thick” that could be very dangerous. No Forest Service staff has been up to the lake in some time.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 61-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake had some icy spots but people were still making it up. No current reports of any fishing success were available. There could be ice on the boat ramp.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 72-percent capacity. Bass fishing was good according to Oroville Outdoors for anglers probing main points with drop-shot worms, tubes, jigs, and Senkos. Bigger fish were still hitting ripbaits on steep big rock banks. The Slot and West Branch were both producing this past week. The fish were still spreads out from 10 to 60 feet deep-the bigger fish were down at 50 to 60 feet. Coho salmon to 1 1/2 pounds were still driving the bass fishermen nuts hitting their lures at all depths. Trollers should be doing well south of the Green Bridge at mouths of the Middle Fork and South Fork.
ROLLINS LAKE-The water level was reported to be coming up, but the only boat ramp in operation was at Orchard Springs. Light fishing pressure and few reports were available. Trolling should be good at the dam or up near the inlet.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-Jim Caldwell at the Resort reported that boaters were doing well on 11- to 14-inch rainbows drifting Power Bait off the point out the left side of the marina toward the inlet. Some trollers did well running Rapalas up at the inlet.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-The Foresthill Ranger Station reported some concern that the road to the lake was heavily congested with dirt bikers hauling trailers into the area-watch out for trucks and trailers in blind turns. The boating facilities were open at the lake, but few were out according to the Ranger Station.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that boaters were still trolling flasher/worm combos for holdover DFG planters with good success.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Oroville Outdoors reported a surprisingly good rip bite for bass to over 5 pounds along the big rock shorelines-one angler reported 9 fish on 9 casts with two over 5 pounds!!