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 flows over the weekend, but still good fishing early in the week with fresh fish in the bottom and downrunners upriver, but that will all change midweek with a storm expected to push it to 3,000 cfs, which will bring down the spawned-out fish and move the last of the fresh run upriver. Weekend might be fishable, but call ahead.
COQUILLE RIVER; South Fork, Powers, Ore.-Steelhead fishing has slowed way down compared to how it was a few weeks ago on this river. There are still lots of fish to catch, but I don’t think we will find any more days where we have four dozen boats and everybody with a fish story. With fishing being more difficult, anglers are still catching a few chrome fish. The average boat is harvesting one or two steelhead from Haze Ranch downstream to 6 mile take out. “I feel that there is going to be one more large push of steelhead to make their way up the South Fork of the Coquille River during the month of March,” said guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service.
EEL RIVER SYSTEM- South Fork was near perfect early in the week and as many as a dozen hookups a day according to Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures, on both roe and plugs. As the South Fork dropped out he moved downstream to the Main Stem, hooking 8 to 14 a day. End of week high winds blew out the action. 16 pounder was big fish. Guide Mike Stratman of Redwood Coast Fishing also fished here, and said it was some of the best action of the season, with over 10 hookups a day. Still a lot of bright fish, he said. Rain hit mid-week, so call ahead for conditions.
MAD RIVER-According to Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures, who got a report from Rick Wetzel of Mad River Tackle in Arcata, “Rick had a pretty solid feeling for what was happening on the Mad. While it wasn’t wide open, there were fish scattered up and down the river and if you were lucky enough to end up in the right place at the right time, there was potential to have a big day. Most of the fish were dark hatchery or newly-arriving wild, but there were a few nice keepers turning up.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.-According to guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secret’s Guide Service, there are still good numbers of steelhead being caught between the towns of Gold Beach and Agness. The Rogue River is one of only a few river’s on the west coast that have a short season that allows anglers to harvest a native steelhead. Most of the guide boats are catching an average of 3 fish per boat on most outings. The first spring Chinook of the 2012 year was caught this last week. The hatchery fish weighed 24 pounds and if these fish return on the same pattern as the last two years, we will see a lot of them in the month of March.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Ore.-Water temperatures have been colder this week due to the lower snow level in the evening and melting of that same snow the following day. Anglers have to put forth a lot of effort over a day’s time to catch just one of these returning fish this last week. “I am not expecting much of a change next week,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
RUSSIAN RIVER- The lower Russian River is full of steelhead, and they’re spread out throughout the system, too. The average size caught was 4 to 6 pounds, however some were up in the low-to-mid teens. Anglers fished flies for the steelies and also used spinners for good counts. Call ahead to see how the mid-week rains impacted it.
SMITH RIVER-It was tough fishing with low water conditions, but still good numbers of steelhead, according to guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. Not many anglers except during the Chopper Derby over the weekend. Call ahead to see how the rains impacted it, but this should bring in the rest of the fresh steelies.
UMPQUA RIVER; North Fork; Glide, Ore. -The beginning of the week had most anglers smiling with their results. “The river was a little darker in color than what I like to fish,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets, “there were only being a couple feet of visibility. All of the information I have received from guides and friends is that their fish were caught on yarn balls, but some of the angler’s added a small amount of roe. Others said they were soaking their yarn balls in scent to give the bait an added attractant.”
TRINITY RIVER, Lewiston-There was a bit of rain last week which attracted some fresh steelhead into the upper portions of the Trinity above Junction City joining with the increasing number of downrunners. They’re taking a variety of methods, but it’s important to fish quietly and use lighter gear in the low clear water. 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 plugs and sidedrifting roe.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek-The river was fishable down to the South Fork, and some nice adult steelhead plus halfpounders showed up in the Hawkins Bar area. They were taking side-drifted roe.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam-The Klamath was in good fishable shape down to Orleans, and anglers were catching a mix of adult steelhead to 6 pounds and native rainbows with virtually no fishing competition. Drift roe and nightcrawlers, and swing spinners and spoons. Backtrolled crawdad plugs also work well. Fly fishing has been slow in the cold water, however.
BODEGA BAY-Strong northwest winds hampered boating, however the New Sea Angler got out for full limits of Dungeness crabs. Barred surf perch are actively feeding north of Bodega and the lower Russian River is the place to be for steelhead.
EUREKA-Herring continued to invade the harbor at Crescent City and anglers caught them with Sabiki rigs. Crabbing was down in general due to periodic high seas, but some boats came in with good counts. Clamming is excellent.
FORT BRAGG- Gnarly seas have kept fishing activities to a minimum and spear divers stayed ashore. A few people worked the Noyo Harbor breakwater, including one inventive soul, Isaac Ross, who enjoyed good success with a homemade poke-pole setup to catch eel and cabezon.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA-Boats are mostly running whalewatch trips, but a few trips were made for limits of crabs and plenty of dabs. Nearby State beaches saw plenty of surf fishing action, while pier fishers at Pacifica specialized in casting Promar and Pucci snares for Dungeness and rock crabs. Poke-polers worked the jetties for monkeyface prickleback eels.
LAWSON’S LANDING-Crabbing is very good. Boats working sheltered Tomales Bay scored limits of Dungeness crab, while crabbers on piers did fairly well soaking pots or casting snares. Along the surf line, fishers found hungry perch when weather and sea conditions allowed.
MARTINEZ-Early in the week, Capt. Steve Talmadge on the Flash found small but willing sturgeon and stripers. As the week progressed, tides slowed and crab activity (stealing baits) increased. Private boaters enjoyed success on stripers and Martinez pier fishers caught flounder using grass shrimp for bait. A 12-year-old kid caught two flounders in one day, according to Lisa Rezentes at Martinez Marina Bait and Tackle.
OYSTER POINT-Pile perch and jacksmelt bit well for pier anglers using pileworms and cuts of shrimp. Impressive schools of jacksmelt are roaming the area and the expectation is for them to draw in large gamefish and sharks for boaters and pier fishers.
PORT SONOMA-Sturgeon action is rated “fair” on San Pablo Bay near the mouth of the Petaluma River and some sizable fish have been reported, including twin 65-inchers. Eel and Shrimp combo baits work best because crabs are just a wee bit slower to steal them. Farther up in the river systems, stripers are biting more consistently.
SAN RAFAEL-Crabs ruled the Bay but some skippers were able to stay half a step ahead of the crabs by choosing the right bait and fishing the right tides. Lamprey eels proved tough for the crabs to chew off. Outgoing tides provided the best feeding conditions for fish, which included decent counts of both sturgeon and striped bass.
BOCA LAKE-The lake is at 16-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports said that the ice here was UNSAFE FOR ICE FISHING!!! Shore fishing was available at the inlet and mid-lake where there’s open water.
CAPLES LAKE-Caples Lake Resort reported that the ice was 18 inches thick and fishermen were catching some rainbows at the spillway on bay shrimp, worms, Power Bait and jigged Kastmaster spoons. More snow was in the forecast for this week.
CARSON RIVER (East)-Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported that the river was in beautiful condition, but the water temp was 36-degrees. Fishing was very slow according to the fly fishermen he had spoken to this past week.
DAVIS LAKE-The lake is at 74-percent capacity. Ed Dillard reported hit-or-miss trout fishing from the ice or the shore. The ice was still 6 inches thick at the dam but the safe ice only ran about 200 yards out from the dam. Ice fishermen were doing best on Power Bait and small jigs. Shore fishing at Mallard Point was a matter of capitalizing on the few bites you got. Dillard recommended holding your rod so you could set immediately when you got a light bite. He also suggested using a 2 1/2- to 3-foot leader of 2-or 4-pound test with a size 16 treble hook with a small ball of Power Bait. Fly fishing has been very slow. Some cartopper boats were launched at Mallard Point. If the weather stays on its present course, Cal Trans may plow the ramp at Honker Cove and the dock could be installed by March 10, but snow was expected.
DONNER LAKE-Shore fishermen using inflated nightcrawlers at the west end beach were picking up a few rainbows, browns, and small macks. The bigger fish were being caught by boaters jigging on the bottom in deeper water.
FRENCHMAN LAKE-The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Still safe ice at the dam, Spring Creek, and Frenchman ramp according to Wiggins Trading Post-8 to 10 inches thick. Shore fishermen can access open water at Big Cove. Power Bait and nightcrawlers were working for rainbows running 15 to 20 inches. The roads around the lake were clear and dry.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 73-percent capacity. The roads were clear this past week with the warmer weather and trollers were trying for some big browns according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service. A storm forecast for this week could change the accessibility of the lake-call the Pacific Ranger Station at 530-647-5400.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR-The roads were clear from both sides of the lake and scores of anglers were picking up limits of fish up to 8 pounds. Shore anglers were using Power Bait, worms, and Kastmaster spoons. Fly fishermen were doing well from float tubes stripping black woolly buggers, according to Tahoe Fly fishing Outfitters in South Lake Tahoe.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)-Shore anglers were still picking up DFG planters in the cove by the first launch ramp on Power Bait and worms. Chuck Downs of Pollock Pines launched his kayak at the Narrows and caught two macks, 20 and 22 inches, plus some planter rainbows trolling spoons.
LAKE TAHOE-Both Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters and Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported good action trolling for macks from 180 to 250 feet deep in Carnelian Bay and Crystal Bay. Daniels reported fish to 5 pounds on Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos, while Self said Krocodile spoons were producing the most consistent action.
PROSSER LAKE-The lake is at 33-percent capacity. The ice is too thin for safe ice fishing–even though the whole lake is still covered with ice, it’s still unsafe. NO MORE ICE FISHING!!! No shore fishing either with no open water.
PYRAMID LAKE-When WON called Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters on Sunday his clients had already caught cutthroats running 4 1/2 and 8 1/2 pounds trolling U-20 FlatFish at Pelican Point. 12 fish a day is still a good day right now trolling 10 to 35 feet deep with frog, blood frog, and purple/yellow dot FlatFish if the wind stays down.
RED LAKE-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that clients caught cutthroat trout up to 17 inches jigging gold Kastmaster spoons through 12 inches of ice and 2 feet of snow. Most trout averaged 10 to 12 inches and were caught all over the lake-the key to success was moving around to find active fish-there were plenty of holes augured to fish in.
SILVER LAKE-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the ice here was beginning to thin and fishing had been slower than expected.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR-The lake is at 88-percent capacity. The lake is accessible by 4-wheel drive. A boater could launch, but chains were mandatory due to the ice on the ramp. Trollers working the dam can pick up a big Mackinaw or brown trout. Smaller rainbows were hitting in the creek arms in shallower water that had a chance to warm up on the sunny days.
TOPAZ LAKE-Linda Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported good action for trollers working the SW side of the lake with Rapalas at 10 to 15 feet deep. The rainbows were running 13 to 15 inches. Shore anglers on the north end of the lake were picking up a few fish on Power Bait and worms.
TRUCKEE RIVER-Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters said that the warmer weather had really improved the bite with the emergence of BWO hatches especially through Reno and below in NV, and from Glenshire to Hirshdale in California.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR-The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service fished here this past week and only caught one 2 1/2-pound mack trolling a dodger/Needlefish combo along shelves and drop-offs from 40 to 70 feet deep.
AMERICAN RIVER-The river is in transition. The few remaining adult winter run steelhead are in spawning or post-spawning mode and should be left alone. A few smaller spring run steelhead weighing from 2 to 5 pounds are starting to show, but not in any great numbers yet. Most of the action in the past week was on the numerous steelhead smolts plus the occasional halfpounders. Drift nightcrawlers, or swing Little Cleos, and Blue Fox spinners. Fly fishers are swinging soft hackle wet flies or dead-drifting caddis-imitating nymphs.
FEATHER RIVER-The river has cleared significantly, and the striper bite has improved. Most are being caught on minnows above and below Boyd’s Pump. Most are schoolies up to 24 inches, but a few as big as 30 to 40 pounds were caught last week. A few steelhead were being caught above Gridley and in the Low Flow Section on nymphs under indicators, drifting nightcrawlers, and swinging spinners.
FOLSOM LAKE-You have to put in a lot of time, but anglers were continuing to catch trout trolling the main body on Apexes, nightcrawlers behind flashers, Speedy Shiners, and small Rapalas trolled well behind the boat. Landlocked king salmon were being caught at various depths deeper than 25 feet, mostly on UV and Glow-in-the-dark Hoochies. Bass fishing was still nothing to write home about, but a few more were being caught than in the previous week-at least when the wind settled down a bit. The best odds for success still was deep over submerged structure, off points leading to coves. Drag Carolina- rigged and dartheaded Robo-Worms and tubes down to about 30 feet deep.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento–Striped bass fishing started to pick up last week at Bryte’s Beach on sardines, pileworms, and bloodworms, and at Discovery Park on minnows, and rip- and jerkbaits early in the morning for striped bass going after the numerous smolts coming downriver from the American. A few striped bass were being taken in the Port of Sacramento, as well. Most are small, but there was a report of a 30 pounder caught at Garcia Bend.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing-Sturgeon fishing picked up a bit around Tisdale and Colusa. Some striped bass showing up in catches, too-albeit small ones-but the spring run should be just around the corner. Fish ghostshrimp/pileworm combos for the sturgeon. Fish minnows, and sardines for the stripers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding-Trout fishing continued to be very good at flows a bit above 5,000 cfs. Fishing was best around Redding-especially for the larger trout–although trout were being caught down to Anderson. Drift Glo-Bugs, Mayfly or caddis nymph imitations under indicators if you are fly fishing. Spin fishermen are drifting Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers.
AMERICAN RIVER-The River is still low and clear according to the Georgetown Ranger Station. Little fishing activity was observed below the Hwy 49 confluence.
BULLARDS BAR-The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported very light fishing pressure on the lake-no reports of any success were available.
CAMP FAR WEST-The North Shore Resort reported that bass fishing was good. Doug McKay of Marysville picked 30 bass from 1 1/2 to 3 pounds on shakey-head rigged oxblood worms and white spinnerbaits in 10 to 18 feet of water in the Bear River arm. North Shore Resort will sponsor a team tournament on March 10–$40 entry pre-sign, $50 day of event, $10 big fish-call 530-633-0803 for more info.
COLLINS LAKE-The lake is 18.5 feet from full. Trout fishing has been excellent following heavy plants of DFG catchables and private trophy rainbows. Shore anglers were doing very well at the dam, beach, and campgrounds using Power Bait, Power Eggs, and worms. Trollers were running flasher/worm combos and Rapalas at the dam at 10 to 15 feet deep for big stringers of trout to 2 pounds. Some bass activity beginning to show-Larry Hemphill of Yuba City picked up 16 fish to 3 1/2 pounds on jigs.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR-The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Trollers and bait drifters were picking up limits this past week. Trollers can catch DFG planters on flasher/worm or spoon combos from the “Ski Buoys” to the marina. Bait drifters working the upper lake from Boston Bar to Keystone Cove with worms caught rainbows up to 27 inches. Bass fishing was good for two anglers who caught fish to 4 1/2 pounds on rocky points near Boston Bar on worms and jerkbaits.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR-The road to the lake was still passable with 4-wheel drive-the ramp was icy but manageable. Trollers were picking up some nice browns and macks on big Rapalas and Kwikfish. More snow is in the forecast for this week; call the Georgetown Ranger Station for the latest road conditions at 530-333-4312.
LAKE OROVILLE-The lake is at 72-percent capacity. Most sources reported slow fishing this past week for bass. Anglers dragging green pumpkin tubes at 30 feet deep were only picking up a few small fish. The coho bite was still going strong for trollers working the upper river arms with Sling Blade/hoochie or spinner combos-the silvers were running 12 inches.
ROLLINS LAKE-Casey Reynolds at Long Ravine Resort reported good rainbow trout action for both trollers and shore anglers. Shore anglers were doing well in the Long Ravine area using Power Bait, while trollers were running flasher/worm combos and Rapalas up near the inlet for fish measuring 14 to 16 inches with a few to 18 inches.
SCOTT’S FALT LAKE-Jim Caldwell at Scott’s Flat Resort reported that rainbow trout fishing was picking up especially for trollers working the area from Cascade Shores to the spillway. The trout were running 12 to 15 inches. One shore angler reported picking up a few fish off the first point past the marina on Power Bait.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR-The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that the day-use facilities were all open and accessible. Anglers should be able to pick up a few holdover rainbows from the ramp area on Power Bait.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR-The road was still open to the lake and passable with 2-wheel drive this past week. Trollers were still picking up a few holdover rainbows on flasher/worm combos and Rapalas. There is a storm in the forecast for this week, so check with the Georgetown Ranger Station for the latest road conditions at 530-333-4312.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY-The lake was at 126.4-foot elevation at press time-39-percent capacity. The lower water level has put navigational hazards close to the surface and boaters unfamiliar with the lake could run aground-best to stay away until the water level is back up over 130-foot elevation.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE-Live bait anglers are catching 15 to 20 fish per day to 7 pounds. The State Park, creeks, and the Nice and Lucerne shorelines will provide good fish holding areas for anglers for the next few weeks. Effective presentations include live bait, swimbaits, jerkbaits, plastic worms, A rigs, and rattlebaits. On the upper end of the lake bass can be caught in 3 to 6 feet of water. On the deeper sections of the lake look deeper, in 15 to 25 feet of water but be careful to fizz your fish. And remember, all of the big ones are gals with eggs, handle them carefully and put them back gently.
LAKE BERRYESSA-The bass have been cruising the shallows warming up and are looking to spawn, although this week’s weather may back them off a week or two. But the fishing has turned the corner and looking up. Trout trollers are also reporting better success. The fish are from the surface down to about 15 feet and will take anything that looks like a shad. Silver or white Needlefish, Kastmasters and Rapala Shad Raps all work.
LAKE MENDOCINO-Pressure has backed off some as recently planted DFG trout have scattered, but another plant is expected this coming week.
UPPER BLUE LAKE-There were a lot of anglers out last weekend and all did well in 20 feet with deep water fly, Kastmasters and Woolly Buggers for near limits. Trout ranged from 14 to 17 inches. The Narrows Resort is once again inspecting and issuing Quagga Muscle stamps, make sure you come “clean and dry.” No bass anglers have been out.
LAKE ALMANOR-The rainbow trout bite slowed a bit due to the winds picking up, and there is another small front passing through, but after that, look for the bite to resume in open water as the shallow bite has not developed yet.
BAUM LAKE-Fishing continues to be consistently good here. The Fly Shop says the first week of March bite should continue, as it is known for its BWO hatches this time of year, producing some great dry fly fishing.
PIT RIVER-According to The Fly shop in Redding, conditions are great and so is the fishing. Rainbows have been keying on dark stones in sizes 6-10 and Mercer’s dark stone, as well as various PT nymphs from sizes 12-16. The rainbows on the Pit are not very selective at the moment, just about any pattern with some legs dropping in a 16-18 nymph should work.
SHASTA LAKE-Still not much going on here in terms of bass fishing, the water still needs to warm up and they are scattered down to 25 feet or so. Trout and salmon action has however picked up all over the lake for the few out trolling.