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-Flows are great and conditions should remain good over the next week or so at least, and with some rain, much longer. Guides are putting clients of 2 to 7 fish a day throughout the river, with fish running 6 to 14 pounds and some smaller fish. Roe and a Puffball and plugs are all working. Bankies are also scoring, but generally on smaller fish. Another 20 pounder caught last week. It’s time to go!
COLUMBIA RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.–Some of the best Steelhead fishing of the season came and went last week. “It was some of the best fishing I have ever seen,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secret’s Guide Service. “The boat traffic was some of the most crowded I have been a part of and yet, nearly every boat caught fish, with several boats limiting out. This went on for nearly a week on this small coastal stream before it just became too low for the usual side drifting. Some anglers had excellent days anchoring up and casting a float/bait in the small shallow channels while letting it drift. Other anglers have left the boats at home and gotten back to their roots by bank fishing.
EEL RIVER, Main Stem-The South Fork has dropped out and was clearing as of press time on Monday and without rain, the Main Stem will undoubtedly be the best bet. Lots of steelhead in the river. Guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures has been getting 10 to 12 fish a day, 6 to 14 pounds, on roe and Fish Pill.
EEL RIVER, South Fork-Dropping out and clearing big time, but lots of steelhead makes angling good with stealth tactics. Big pods of fish scattered from Richardson Grove to Myers Flat. It was fishable all the way to Del Rio on Sunday, according to guide Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Outfitters, who has been getting 3 to 7 fish a day to 14 pounds. Not many downers yet.
MAD RIVER-Tough to get reports, but lots of fish in the system, so all depends on river conditions. Call ahead for low flow closures. Best action has been near the hatchery with a mix of wild and fin-clipped steelies.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.- Steelhead fishing picked up dramatically last week on the lower Rogue after weeks of slower-than-expected fishing. Jet boats anchoring close to shore reported the best action, with many finding limits of hatchery steelhead, with a few wild fish mixed in. Plunkers also were doing well at Huntley Park, Lobster Creek and other gravel bars fishing with Spin-N-Glos and small clusters of roe. “The flows have been around 6,000 cfs for a week, and perfect for boaters anchoring close to shore and running plugs,” said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “There seems to be a big push of steelhead coming in each day now with the tide.”
RUSSIAN RIVER-Steelhead fishing is great with fish all up and down the river and more coming in every day, but flows are now under 500 cfs and the fish are slowing down and beginning to hold in the deeper slots and holes. Fresh fish seen at Cassini’s. Use roe, Little Cleos and the fly guys are using bosses and comets. One guide boat landed 4 and bonked a pair of hatchery fish, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. A lot of pressure on the river. Fish are averaging a little larger than usual, around 10 pounds.
SMITH RIVER-Flows are good and fishing is also, with most guides putting their clients onto 2 to 6 steelhead a day, and some big fish in the mix. It’s middle of the run, and fish are scattered all up and down the river. Flows have dropped some, but still great. Not as crowded as the Chetco River
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.–River conditions have been high with very little fishing from bank anglers or boat anglers. There should be more action this next weekend on this section of river if the water levels keep falling. Ideally, I like to have the water level below 6.0 ft. at the Elkton gauge before I drift this river, said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secret’s Guide Service.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Myrtle Creek, Ore.– There has been a bunch of activity on the river over the last week, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. There are many different drifts to make and some bank access. One of the best bank access spots is the north entrance to Myrtle Creek, which has a bridge that the fish seem to hold up at. Anglers can park on the west side of the bridge and walk down a trail to the river from there. I have received many pictures from people showing off their large catches. Many of these steelhead are going into the high teens, but nothing over the last week has been in the 20-pound range.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.- Lot’s of steelhead being caught near the fly water zone. Many of them are hatchery fish, but I am told that some late summer steelhead normally come up the river in the fall, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secret’s Guide Service. The fish are nice looking and not beaten up from their travels. Lower sections of the North Umpqua River are showing returns of winter steelhead. March is the prime of the season, but anglers can find good days of fishing from now through the month of March.
TRINITY RIVER, Lewiston-The upper portions of the Trinity above Junction City were in beautiful shape, a nice steelhead green, at a great level and full of steelhead. Fly fishers were using golden stones, No. 12 and 14, poxy back beadhead pheasant tails, and red copper Johns under indicators while spin and conventional fishermen were backtrolling Hot Shots and sidedrifting roe.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-The river was dropping but still quite high and off-color below the North Fork.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam-The Klamath was in good, fishable condition. It was dropping below tributaries and fishable down to Seiad Valley. Below there, the river was still quite high to fish. Anglers fishing the fishable section of the river were catching a nice mix of trout and adult steelhead to about 6 pounds, mostly on roe and nightcrawlers.
AMERICAN RIVER-There are still quite a few steelhead coming up the river, and quite a few that have been in the river for awhile. The upper stretch between Sunrise Blvd. and Nimbus Dam (be mindful of the “no-fishing” zone around the Hatchery) continued to produce the most fish, and, unlike past weeks, fishing pressure has declined.
FEATHER RIVER-A few striped bass were being caught around Shanghai Rapids and Star Bend on jigs and minnows, and a few steelhead were being caught around Gridley and in the Low Flow Section on nymphs under indicators, drifting nightcrawlers, and swinging spinners, but fishing for both species was slow.
FOLSOM LAKE- Fishing picked up last week, and some anglers managed combined limits of landlocked king salmon and rainbow trout. Fishing was best up the North Fork, and nightcrawlers fished behind dodgers near the surface worked best for trout, while UV Glow Hoochies and GVF Pina Colada Spinners set between 30 and 50 feet did the trick for the kings. Bass are still in their winter funk with anglers working hard for a few bites an outing. Fish deep and slow over outside points, and over concentrations of bait.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento-Sturgeon fishing was good from Hood to Verona, with the Fremont Weir, South River Road a few of the better areas. Remember, in sturgeon fishing, “good” only means that the average angler might get one takedown every several outings. But the fish are there. Fish combo baits-e.g. ghostshrimp/pileworms. Striper fishing was slow-even in the Deepwater Channel.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing–Sturgeon fishing was good last week from Verona to Colusa, and anglers fishing with guides had multiple chances at hookups.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing was good last week, and more of the river was clearing, and the trout action continued to be best in the upper portion of the river below Keswick. Fly fishers drifted Glo-Bugs, Mayfly or caddis nymph imitations under indicators while spin fishermen drifted Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers.
BERKELEY-Capt. Jim Smith aboard the Happy Hooker, according to Dave Marquardt, took a trip Saturday with 18 people and caught 5 crabs for each angler near Baker Beach, plus 3 stripers from San Pablo Bay. Tracy Gardner from Sacramento scored a 10-pound striper.
BODEGA BAY-Boat-based crabbing may be good or slow, from one boat and none day to the next. Fishers working rocky shoreline areas are picking at rockfish and greenling, while surf perch anglers nab plentiful good-size perch. Steelhead action is available near the mouths of area rivers.
CROCKETT-Sturgeon kept anglers busy in the upper San Pablo Bay through Grizzly Bay with effective baits ranging from eel/ grass shrimp combos to ghost or mud shrimp or fresh herring. Striped bass bit sporadically and added to the fun, yet were not common enough to warrant specifically targeting them.
TRINIDAD-crabbing remained productive from either boat or shore, though boaters had to stay watchful and respectful of periodic sets of large swells which intermittently made crabbing difficult. Surf perching and rockfishing from shore both produced decent catches.
FORT BRAGG-Large swells kept most crabbers off the water this week, but shore anglers picked up the fishing slack by hooking perch from sandy areas and rockfish from rocky points and bluffs. Divers scored well this week on rockfish and lingcod.
HALF MOON BAY-Crabs and dabs proved readily available with delightful weather to support trips, except for brief periods of larger swells which made crab-pot hauling difficult. Surf fishers found good action on surf perch while jetty fishers caught mostly small perch with an occasional hookup on a medium rockfish. Up the road at Pacifica, pier crabbers cast snares with respectable results. Surf perch fishing was not as good as usual due to roiled seas. Conditions are forecast to improve this next week and beach fishing is expected to improve.
MARTINEZ-Good action on outgoing tides near Benicia Bridge and also near the Mothball Fleet kept anglers busy. Sturgeon fishing remained good while striped bass seemed almost incidental catches. Best baits were grass shrimp and eel/grass shrimp combo.
POINT SAN PABLO-Central Bay produced large 7-gill sharks for anglers fishing squid. The Fury ran a shark trip for 6 passengers who kept 3 sharks to 80 pounds and released 5 others. Shark fishing in the Central Bay area is expected to continue through winter.
SAN RAFAEL-Good tides brought good sturgeon fishing to the San Pablo Bay, along with reasonable chances for fishing success from shoreline hotspots including China Camp. An occasional striper kept sturgeon anglers wary. Rainfall rates remain low, but the water is still productive.
AMERICAN RIVER-The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the flows were very low and clear. There was little or no fishing pressure observable below the confluence at Hwy 49.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported that there were lots of boats on the lake, but few reported into the marina about the fishing. Trout trolling should be good in the Yuba and Willow Creek arms, while the spots should be starting to stage onto the flatter points at 30 to 50 feet deep.
CAMP FAR WEST-The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Fishing was mostly tough with only smaller fish being caught at 35 to 40 feet deep on worms and jigs on main body points. One shore angler, Richard Lewis of West Sac, caught a 4-pound largemouth bass on a Senko.
COLLINS LAKE-The resort made a large early plant of trophy trout-ranging from 4 to 11 pounds-this past week. Shore anglers and trollers were still picking up limits of the smaller DFG planters. Trollers were doing best on flasher/worm combos at the dam, while the shore anglers did well at the dam and the beach.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 92-percent capacity. The lake was planted by the DFG this past Thursday with 2000 pounds of 3/4-pound triploid rainbows. Trolling was excellent in the marina according to Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR-According to the Foresthill Ranger Station, the road to the lake was snowed in and impassible.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR-According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, the road to the lake was passable, but 4-wheel drive was recommended. There was a good possibility that boating could be a problem due to snow and ice on the ramp.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 72-percent capacity. Coho salmon trolling was excellent in the Middle Fork, and probably in all the river arms for trollers running Sling Blade/Wiggle Hoochie combos from the top to 40 feet deep. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported a slow bass bite for spots up to 2 1/4 pounds on finesse jigs trailing a tube or Sweet Beaver in green pumpkin. The better fish were 35 to 60 feet deep with dinks crowding the bank down to 15 feet deep in the West Branch.
ROLLINS LAKE-The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Trolling was slow with cold, murky water conditions according to Casey Reynolds at Long Ravine Resort.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE-The lake is at 83-percent capacity. Slow action here also due to cold weather.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-According to the Foresthill Ranger Station, the road and day-use facilities at the lake were open and accessible.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The lake is at 93-percent capacity. According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, boaters were still catching holdover rainbows while trolling flasher/worm combos up at the inlet end of the lake.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-The lake was at 131.75-foot elevation at press time. A 4 boat, 8 angler turkey shoot only produced 7 fish-the winning weight was 6 1/2 pounds for 4 bass. The bite was on drop-shot worms at the outlets. Now that the duck season is over, peace will be restored on the lake!
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-The typical bass is weighing 3 pounds, with a good number of 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-pound fish in the mix. Fishing pressure remains light and should stay that way for a few more weeks. Live baits and swimbaits have been popular. Winter fishing under mild conditions makes this lake hard to beat.
LAKE BERRYESSA-The 2012 Angler’s Choice Bass Tournament schedule begins on February 26, so you can bet bass anglers will be hitting the lake again soon. In the meantime, the lake has been fairly void of anglers of any kind.
LAKE MENDICINO-The lake is due to be planted this month for the first time ever; and all the way into spring with 15,000 pounds of rainbow trout. Along with all the warmwater species, anglers will now have more winter/spring options in Mendocino County.
LAKE SONOMA-There has been a better land-locked steelhead bite than bass, thanks to the cold water and recent rains which finally have them thinking about their spawning efforts. Steelies have been in the top 20 feet in the main body, and up in the creek arms. For bass try a Rago or Picasso A-Rig, shaking worms and Senkos in 15 to 25 feet of water.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-Fishing has been good, with limits or close to it, if you could stand the cold. Trout are scattered, as the water temperature is 47 degrees from top to bottom. The bite is good, but it continues to be a light bite. There have been a lot more bites than catches. By midday the winds die down and the weather has been cooperating. From the surface down, anglers found recent plants as well as last year’s crop, in 10 feet to 19 inches on flashers and worms, deepwater flies, etc.
LAKE ALMANOR-Winter fishing has been great for the most part, due to mild weather conditions. Head to the east side and match the hatch, which is pond smelt.
BAUM LAKE-As reported by Michael Caranci of The Fly Shop in Redding, the lake is fishing fair to good. Caranci said insect hatches consisting of baetis, BWOs and midges can put the rainbows and browns on the surface. Expect to experience some amazing dry-fly fishing on Baum through February. Great reports come in every year at this time.
PIT RIVER-According to The Fly shop in Redding, the best fishing has been found in Pit no.3, Pit 4 and 5 will be too high and crazy. On no. 3, just about any fly has been working.
SHASTA LAKE-Trolling continues to produce some nice trout by covering water. Try a Captain America or an orange/gold Humdingers topped with garlic. Another good setup was an orange Cripplure, which brought in a few nice rainbows; all coming from 10 to 25 feet down. Bass anglers have been going crazy with the new A-rigs, and the Pitt arm has been the hot spot using tubes, jigs and crawdad colored worms.
TRINITY LAKE–The Papoose arm where the new state record was caught is now producing salmon around baits suspended at 50 to 70 feet. UV Sling Blades and a white Pee Wee hoochie with scent have produced steady action and fish to almost 5 pounds.
WHISKEYTOWN RESERVOIR–Work the coves and rock piles pulling a variety of Cripplures and Humdingers down to 15 feet for a few rainbow trout by the Oak Bottom ramp. Fishing pressure is almost nonexistent here and the weather nice.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 16-percent capacity. Ice fishing was the best bet here for fishermen working the dam area with nightcrawlers, Power Bait, bay shrimp, and small jigs.
CAPLES LAKE-The lake is at 50-percent capacity. Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported slower than expected ice fishing at the spillway for anglers using Power Bait, worms, bay shrimp, and jigged Kastmaster spoons.
CARSON RIVER (East, West)-The river had 6 inches of ice showing along the bank but the flows were in great shape this past week. Some fly fishermen were seen on the trophy trout section below Hangman’s Bridge using nymphs with limited success.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. Cold overnight temps restored the ice to a safe condition-6 inches. The fishing was hit-or-miss according to Ed Dillard of Dillard’s Guided Fishing for the John Pato Annual Ice Fishing Derby held this past weekend. 100 contestants vied for $400 in cash prizes. Scott Kotrc of Graeagle won the event with a 2 1/2 pounder worth $200 and a huge trophy. Second and third places were 1 1/2 pounders taken by Michelle Compston and Sharon Klein of Reno and worth $125 and $75. 60 people fished from the ice at the dam, 40 fished from the shore at Mallard Point. Some kayaks were seen on the lake on the upper end in the open water, but they reported slow fishing. Mallard Point produced 16 to 18 inchers for Mark Tieslau of Mountain Hardware and Sports on Berkley Gulp! Eggs.
DONNER LAKE-The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Some skim ice was forming on the lake on calm nights with no wind. A few boats were out in the afternoons after the ice melted, but fishing was slow.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the ice at the dam was 10 inches thick, but there was open water at Nightcrawler Bay and Big Cove. Anglers fishing through the ice or off the shore have been doing well on rainbows running 15 to 20 inches on nightcrawlers and Power Bait.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 72-percent capacity. A few people made it into the lake this past week according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service but the fishing was slow due to the cold water-ice was showing along the shore.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-Todd Sodaro at Carson River Resort reported that one family was seen with 7 nice trout up to 4 pounds taken on bait from the shore. There was some ice floating around the lake and skim ice forms at night making afternoons a better choice for fishing.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported that the fishing was good from the shore in the afternoons with nightcrawlers and Power Bait
LAKE TAHOE-Both Mickey’s Big Mack Charters and Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported good action for macks running 3 to 9 pounds while trolling 160 to 350 feet deep. Mickey Daniels was catching bigger fish near the bottom in 350 feet of water, and Chuck Self was getting limits at 180 to 235 feet deep. Daniels relied on Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos and Self used spoons, and stick baits.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 33-percent capacity. Ice fishing at the dam was the best bet here this past week. Use worms, Power Bait, bay shrimp, small jigs, and Kastmaster spoons.
PYRAMID LAKE-Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported fair action for cutthroats while trolling up to 30 feet deep at Warrior Point. His last trip produced 11 cutts from 17 to 24 inches. Peggy Navarette of Reno caught an 11-pound, 10-ounce 31-inch lunker trolling at the North Nets this past week.
RED LAKE-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the ice along the edges of the lake was unstable in some places. Fishing was reported to be slow here and Caples was a better choice.
SILVER LAKE-The lake is at 10-percent capacity. With the lake so low, the fish are concentrated into a small area. Power Bait, worms, bay shrimp, and jigged Kastmaster spoons were all working for a mix of rainbows and browns.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 88-percent capacity. The lake was still open according to Mountain Hardware and Sports though there can be skim ice on the lake on calm mornings with no wind. Mack trolling has been sporadic.
TOPAZ LAKE-Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported that trollers were picking up limits of 12- to 14-inch rainbows on the SW side of the lake on rainbow trout Rapalas. One boater caught 19 fish.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that fishing was fair through the Reno area and below on midge patterns. Warmer days could see a BWO hatch. Dark stones and streamers can draw a big strike in the deeper pools and runs.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Ken Mathis of Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported that mack trolling as very slow. One boater spent the day catching one 12-inch fish. The macks should be on the ledges at 80 to 120 feet deep. Mathis said the road to the dam from Pea Vine Ridge Road was passable, but that could change with the weather in the forecast mid-week.