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.—Over 5 inches of rain hit here and the river went to 26,000 cfs, but was down to 9,000 on Sunday. More rain was expected mid-week, and the season ends March 31. There may be a few more windows of opportunity for a downer steelhead or two, but basically—the season’s close to over.
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork; Powers, Ore.–The days on this river have been peaceful with only a few anglers still fishing it and fewer drifting the river. “I have received a couple reports from individuals that fished here over the last week and all of them caught a couple fresh bright steelhead,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. The farther upstream a person fishes the better possibility they will find of catching multiple fish.
EEL RIVER—Mark Nimitz of Pipe Creek Guide Service said both the main and the South Fork were way blown out, with the South Fork running at 6,000 cfs over the weekend, and rain continuing on Sunday and more expected mid-week. The season ends March 31, and it may not even be back in shape by then. There were a lot of downrunners being caught prior to the rains.
GUALALA RIVER—Blown out by the storm, but could be fishable within a few days as it drops out relatively quickly. Season closes March 31.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.–Beginning of the week had some spring Chinook’s being hooked by local fishermen. With the water being darker in color, the blade of choice in front of anchovies has been copper with some yellow chartreuse paint on the outside of the spinner blade. “I am surprised to report that there are still some fresh steelhead being caught this last week only a few short miles from the ocean,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. Speculations of the fall Chinook season have been released and they are stating that the Rogue River is going to have one of the best seasons of returning king’s in a long time.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Blown out by the rains and flowing at 8,000 cfs on Sunday, with Santa Rosa Creek pumping in 2,000 cfs of mud and runoff. Sticks and debris all through the river, according to Kings Sport & Tackle. Fresh steelies were seen moving up tributaries, so there may be new fish coming in on the high water, but definitely a lot of downers will be in the forecast.
SMITH RIVER—Remains open after the March 31 closing of most north coast rivers, and being the quickest-clearing river after a storm, the Smith might be back in shape for the last of the fresh-run steelies and many downrunners soon. Call ahead.
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.-–Spring Chinooks are being caught in the Scott’s Creek area of the Umpqua River, and there have also been some sturgeon being caught when the river isn’t flooding. This has been the worst year for predicting the weather and how it will affect the river conditions in over a decade, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork; Roseburg, Ore.–Unexpected snow early in the week drastically changed the fishing conditions, said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. Cooler water with low visibility slowed the movements of the steelhead. Anglers who fished during the beginning of the week near the Winchester Dam had plenty of fish to keep the day fun. Thursday’s storm blew out the river, but it should be fishable by the first part of the following week. We are just now getting into the prime of the steelhead return. They have returned a little later this year.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork; Canyonville, Ore.-–Stanton Park is a local favorite hot spot, due to the easy accessibility along with the overwhelming number of steelhead that a single boat can hook into over the course of a day’s fishing. Fishing reports over the last week were average for this area. Many boats were just a fish shy of having their limits. Other boats caught several steelhead, but had the misfortune of not finding the fin-clipped steelhead they can harvest, according to guide Curtis Palmer.
TRINITY RIVER, Lewiston—The river was off color and up below Lewiston down to Douglas City, but fishable after the heavy rains and some snow. A few fresh steelhead were still moving upstream, but most fish were spawners and post-spawners. The river was blown out over its entire length downstream of Douglas City. Fly fishers were using golden stones, copper Johns and big brown rubberlegs under indicators. Conventional fishermen were backtrolling plugs and sidedrifting roe. It’s best to wrap the roe in netting to mitigate against the hordes of bait-stealing smolts being released from the hatchery.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—A few fresh steelhead continued to come into the first few miles of the Klamath below Iron Gate Dam which remained fishable after the heavy rains of last week. They, and the resident rainbows were being taking on the very few anglers trying for them on drifted roe and nightcrawlers, as well as backtrolled plugs.
BODEGA BAY—Crabbing is good from shore and might be great offshore except that rough weather kept boats off the water. Early season halibut are just beginning to show for boaters willing to work hard for them by drift fishing with live smelt. Boaters are busy preparing for salmon season and Capt. Rick Powers noted that he has early season availability on the New Sea Angler.
EUREKA—Private boat inshore (shallow water) crabbing was productive for those who left their pots to soak a good long while. Jumbo crabs mixed in with the juveniles and barely-legal units to add up to a fair haul. Ashore, red-tailed perch bit shrimp near the power plant. Up the coast at Trinidad, a few hardy souls worked rocky areas for smaller rockfish, however dangerous sea conditions limited fishing activity.
FORT BRAGG—Options increased for shore-based anglers while diminishing for boaters who had to remain in the harbor during the week of wild weather. Rockfish, cabezon and lingcod bit for rock and jetty fishers while large schools of smelt moved close enough to shore for people to throw nets in the surf. Divers scored well on large rockfish and lingcod for much of the winter but wisely stayed out of the rough water this week.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Crab fishers brought out snares during rough water and hoop nets during calm water to come up with enough smaller crabs for dinner and an occasional larger unit to make it a feast. Striped bass bit sporadically for surf and pier anglers, with several catches reported to local tackle shops this week. Perch–including barred surf perch, rainbow perch and yellowtail perch–bit along area beaches, off of jetties and from Pacifica Pier. Boats stayed in harbor this week due to dangerous seas.
MARTINEZ—High quantities of shaker sturgeon caught & released this week point to a well-managed and growing fishery throughout the Bay-Delta system. Most keeper sturgeon and stripers caught from boats were from the Mothball Fleet and near Seal Island.
OAKLAND—Mike from Mike’s bait in Oakland reported sturgeon action in the South Bay on ghost shrimp, grass shrimp and herring on outgoing tides and also reported striper action in San Pablo Bay on bullhead and blood worms on incoming tides. Stripers up to 25 inches also bit live shiners fished from the Alameda Rock Wall.
OYSTER POINT—A 52-inch sturgeon from Point San Bruno topped South Bay action. Excitement was also generated by smallish striped bass caught by kayakers. Otherwise, Oyster Point pier anglers made do with perch, sharks and rays.
PORT SONOMA—Rain and mud drove bait-snatching crabs out of the river mouths, allowing shore fishers a better chance to score on stripers and sturgeon. Crabs are still holding and feeding in San Pablo Bay, though continued rain may force them to retire towards the sea. Small boats did not venture out often this week due to rain and wind.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 18-percent capacity. The latest storm dumped at least 2 feet of snow in the area. The road to the dam was plowed, but the road to the inlet wasn’t cleared yet—it could be mid-week before it’s done. Shore fishing from the dam was the only option here, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
CAPLES LAKE—According to John Voss at the Caples Lake Resort, 4 feet of new snow fell this past week, making it more difficult for ice fishermen to reach the ice at the dam and spillway for a chance at some rainbows, browns, and an occasional mack. Take care on the ice if you try fishing.
CARSON RIVER (East)—The area was blasted with heavy, wet snow this past week and the water temp was just too cold for any chance of success while fishing the restricted section below Hangman’s Bridge.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 76-percent capacity. The lake received 2 feet of snow this past week further delaying the opening of the boat ramp at Honker Cove. Ed Dillard said that the ice at the dam is too dangerous to walk on, so NO MORE ICE FISHING!!! The ice was too thin and weak spots were covered with snow, making them even more of a hazard. Fishing was very slow this past week due to the stormy weather—lots of vertical snow!!
DONNER LAKE—The roads were plowed around the lake, but parking could be hard to find. Shore fishing from the west end beach or any of the docks could produce a rainbow or small mack on an inflated nightcrawler. Small macks might hit a Kastmaster or Krocodile.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 81-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that ice fishing was no longer safe. Shore fishing at the Frenchman’s ramp and Big Cove was producing limits of 14- to 16-inch rainbows in 2 to 3 hours on Power Bait and worms. Some car top boats were being launched off the shore, but none had reported back with any trolling success. The road to the dam was plowed, but the road around the lake required four-wheel drive due to snow and mud.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 73-percent capacity. According to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service, the road was snowed in and wouldn’t be safe for at least a week.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that fly casters stripping black or white woolly buggers and blood midges were picking up good numbers of 12- to 14-inch rainbows and a few lunker fish in the 5- to 7-pound range before the storm hit. Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported that the road to the lake off Hwy 89 was not passable due to deep snow. The road to the lake off Diamond Valley Rd may be passable with 4-wheel drive. Call Sodaro at 530-694-2229 for the latest road conditions.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—A foot of snow fell around the lake, shutting down the fishing. The boat ramp was plowed, but no one was launching any boats in the foul weather. The weather should clear by mid-week bringing better fishing conditions.
LAKE TAHOE—Wind, rain, and snow kept boats off the lake this past week, according to Big Mack Charters and Chuck’s Charter Fishing. Wait for the weather to clear!!
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. The storm dumped 2 feet of snow and made access around the lake next to impossible or at least very difficult. The inlet has the only open water and it was muddy with the run-off. Wait for the weather to clear.
PYRAMID LAKE—The Citadel Communications/KOH Trout Derby was won led by an 11-pound, 15-ounce cutthroat caught by Jeff Morris of Reno on a black marabou jig at the old marina. 162 contestants only weighed in 28 fish, so fishing in the windy, cold weather was tough. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters caught 43 fish over the weekend, all 17 to 24 inchers, trolling 17 to 30 feet deep in Fox Bay with purple U-20 Flatfish.
RED LAKE—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that fishing was good for cutthroats and a few brookies at the dam using worms and jigging 1/4-ounce gold Kastmaster spoons. In the wind, a portable ice shack made for comfortable fishing. Take care on the ice if you try it, the fresh snow may have covered open holes.
SILVER LAKE—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters said they hadn’t heard anything positive about the fishing here and avoided taking guide clients here—opting for Red Lake instead.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 88-percent capacity. The access to the lake will improve by mid-week after the 2-plus feet of snow melts off the roads. The boat ramp was still too icy for safe launching according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. Shore fishing around the coves at the ramp, at the dam, and towards the Davies Creek arm could produce some rainbows and an occasional mack on bait and spoons.
TOPAZ LAKE—Strong winds, and some rain and snow kept all but large boats off the lake. One group in a big boat braved the rough water for 4 days and caught 40 fish trolling Rapalas and Needlefish in the top 15 feet in the middle of the lake. Shore fishing was difficult due to wind and waves.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the river was blown out with all the rain from the recent storms. Victor Babbett said that the river would take 5 to 6 days to get back into good shape. Before the storm, the fly fishing was good through the Reno area and in California in the Glenshire area using BWO’s and skwala stones.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 61-percent capacity, According to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service, the Pea Vine Ridge Road was impassable due to deep snow. Wait for the weather to clear!!
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—A variety of presentations continue to work, despite recent rain but the key is to switch them up. Most of the guides will be sticking to live bait for the next several weeks though. The creeks have muddied up some but things should settle down quickly. The good news was, the water came up almost 1-foot this past week.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The king salmon should still be good by the dam and the mouth of Markley Cove but no angler were out to check it. Bass guide Don Paganelli reported the latest storm was a warmer rain which will help bring the surface temperatures up and make fish more active. Previously he found fish as shallow as 6 feet and moving up to check out areas. Use a 4-inch Senko in green pumpkin to catch those fish. For the rest try using Carolina rigged green pumpkin tubes in 10 to18 feet of water.
LAKE MENDICINO—With another plant once the weather settled back down the pressure will be back up by the south ramp where DFG plants their fish.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—As soon as the weather backs off try floating baits and nightcrawlers here off the docks or Woolly Buggers with an action disc for limits, for those that could get them into the boat. These are some feisty fish!
AMERICAN RIVER—Flows continued to be very low in spite of the heavy rains, and adult steelhead few and far between. The river is loaded with steelhead smolts, however, plus the occasional halfpounder and spring run fish in the 2- to 4-pound range. Fly fishers have been scoring a few dead-drifting nymphs swinging streamers.
FEATHER RIVER—The river went to 30,000 cfs below the inflows from the Yuba and Bear rivers. It’s still low and clear farther upstream, but fishing has been slow. A few diehard fly fishers have been catching the occasional small steelhead in the Low Flow Section.
FOLSOM LAKE—The wind turned to rain, but those who went out in the storms actually did pretty well on nice landlocked salmon by trolling slow around 40 feet deep with hoochies behind dodgers. Some holdover trout were being caught closer to the surface on nightcrawlers behind flashers. The lake is rising fast now, and bass fishing has been improving as they start thinking about spawning. Drop-shotting, jigging and dartheading are still producing the most action, but reaction baits are scoring better now. Fishing over structure and points is still effective, but creek inflows are becoming good, too.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The river went up over 15 feet and is full of mud and debris, so forget about fishing the main river for awhile. Sloughs should be producing sturgeon soon, though, as flows subside, and the striped bass run should begin big time as flows continue to subside.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Colusa—The river went up over 13 feet, but was already past its peak as of Sunday. Boating will be hazardous for several days, but anglers who can find a spot out of the main current should find some good sturgeon action. And, striped bass fishing should take off as flows subside.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—The heavy rains blew out much of the Sacramento River, but it remained fishable around Redding, above tributaries. Fishing for native trout continued to be good, but it’s going to be a nymphing affair for awhile. Spin fishermen were drifting Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers.
LAKE ALMANOR—Once the clarity settles, and the waters warm, the spring hatches will begin. In the meantime, since the trout are still targeting the pond smelt, try ripping smelt patterns, or running small planer boards along the shoreline.
BAUM LAKE—The pros at The Fly Shop in Redding said this is a great choice anytime, but especially right now. Small green no. 16-18 nymphs, such as S&Ms, micro mayflies and pseudo mays are good for the fly section. And don’t leave out a midge nymph or three.
PIT RIVER—Heavy rain has caused the Pit to jump up in volume and blow out muddy water. The Pit is an angry river right now. Give the river about a week to show positive change.
SHASTA LAKE—Target the trout that are in the top 20 feet, the Pitt River normally holds the larger rainbows. The Sacramento arm and out in front of the dam would be the best places for kings, try 50 feet or metering for shad. The bass bite has been great out to 30 feet. Just toss whatever you favorite is, these fish are hungry.
AMERICAN RIVER—The river flows were up with all the rain and snow, but the poor weather kept everyone off the water.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported heavy snow at the lake on Sunday. Call ahead to check on access at 530-692-3201.
CAMP FAR WEST—North Shore Resort reported that the heavy rains had the lake running over the spillway—the water was muddy from all the runoff. All the brush that grew along the shore over the past years is now flooded along with some of the campsites at the Resort. Look for bass and panfish to move into the brushy shorelines to spawn as the water stabilizes and warms up.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is full and spilling 10 inches over the dam. The DFG planted 2000 pounds of rainbows this past week and a big plant of trophy fish was scheduled for this week. The main lake was muddy with the clearer water at the dam and marina. Shore anglers and trollers were all doing well at the dam for trout up to 6 1/2 pounds. The shore anglers did best with Power Bait. Trollers had success with flasher/worm combos, Cripplures, and Rapalas.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is overflowing at 101% capacity. The lake was planted by the DFG at the Army Corps ramp this past week. Fishing was slow due to the windy, rainy weather. As soon as the weather stabilizes, trolling in the marina should be excellent.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—Snowed in. Call the Georgetown Ranger Station for the latest road conditions at 530-333-4312.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 78-percent capacity. Heavy rains and strong winds kept most anglers off the lake this past week. Guide Ron Gandolfi suggested trying incoming water with spinnerbaits and A-rigs when the weather clears.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is scheduled for a DFG trout plant this week. Casey Reynolds at Long Ravine Resort reported that the lake was nearly full and off-color. The poor weather kept anglers off the lake all week. With the muddy inflows, catfish should be on the prowl.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—Jim Caldwell at Scott’s Flat Lake Resort reported the lake was almost full and slightly off-color. A shore angler caught a 5-pound brown trout and a 3-pound rainbow just to the right of the marina on Power Bait. Another angler braved the rain and caught three 12- to 14-inch rainbows trolling flasher/worm combos near the dam.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that the lake was nearly full and the high water had floated a huge dead tree onto the shore near the boat ramp. There was some concern that the tree may move out into the lake creating a navigational hazard—if you’re boating on the lake, keep an eye out for a BIG TREE!!
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The recent snow shut the road to the lake. Call the Georgetown Ranger Station for the latest road conditions at 530-333-4312.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake elevation was 133.9-foot at press time—very high at 84-percent capacity. Mike Hanson of Oroville fished the lake recently and caught bass running 4 to 6 1/2 pounds on Alabama rigs worked along the rock walls. Look for big coho in tailrace below the dam.