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.— The Chetco was unfishable and just below 10,000 cfs Sunday morning and expected to stay in that range until Christmas Day, then gradually drop back into shape. Ideal flows are around 4,000 to 2,000 cfs, although the river begins to fish at 5,000 cfs. Before the rains, steelhead fishing was good, so anglers are anxious for fishable water.
COQUILLE RIVER, Ore.— Coquille River System is high and muddy with the last storm laying snow on the top of the foothills. “I am expecting it to take over a week for the Coquille to fish,” reported Curtis Palmer of River Secret’s Guide Service. “Farther up the drainage system I am expecting that the South fork will fish as early as Christmas Eve Day just below the town of Powers, Oregon.”
EEL RIVER—The whole system is totally blown out and unfishable.
ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Ore.— Elk and Sixes rivers are blown out with all the rain that fell with this last storm. “I think that either one of these two river’s has a highly good chance of fishing before Christmas,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “I have heard of a few steelhead being caught on both rivers just before they started coloring up.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.— Stormy weather has kept the lower Rogue well above fishable levels. The river was flowing around 26,000 cfs Sunday morning at the Agness gauge, too high for plunking or jet boat fishing. Drier weather is in the forecast this week and the river could be fishable by the weekend. Before rainy weather, steelhead fishing was improving in mid-December. Peak season type fishing should begin once flows drop below 10,000 cfs.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Blown out and still flowing high.
SMITH RIVER—Blown out but might be fishable between fronts, as it’s the quickest clearing river on the coast. Steelhead were in the river before the rains, and this should bring in even more steelhead. Excellent action expected when it’s fishable.
UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Ore.— Umpqua River system is blown out and not expected to fish until the week after Christmas at the earliest. However the North Umpqua or it’s sister river, the South Umpqua, could fish as soon as the Monday before Christmas if the snow that has recently covered the mountains doesn’t melt too quickly, according to guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
KLAMATH RIVER—The river is fishable to Happy Camp, and the cold weather has meant that heavy snow is resulting in a slow melt so the river has stayed in pretty good shape at the upper end. The very few anglers on the river have been catching halfpounders and adult steelhead to about 5 pounds on Glo-Bugs, and drifted roe and nightcrawlers.
TRINITY RIVER—It was very cold last week and snow was melting slowly, meaning the river stayed in good fishable shape. However, getting around was hazardous, because of the heavy snow, and it was still snowing over the weekend. It’s best to wait until the snow has ended for a few days. The cold also meant that steelhead were lethargic, but there were plenty around and good anglers were getting 3 to 5 an outing. Water conditions were good down to Pigeon Point, and the river was fishable all the way to the South Fork. Fly fishers were drifting copper Johns and golden stonefly nymphs under indicators while conventional fishermen backtrolled plugs, and drifted roe for fish to 6 pounds.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—While the Trinity was still high and muddy over much of its length, the South Fork tributary was starting to come back into shape. It should provide some decent fishing for its big, wild steelhead.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Colder weather and muddy runoff will make the fishing tough for the few who venture out. Best advice is to look for the clearest water, which will be around the mid-lake area and also look for the warmest water available. Live bait fished deep will probably provide the best chance for success. Shag Rock, the Narrows, and around the islands are good choices.
LAKE BERRYESSA— Don Paganelli of Don Paganelli’s Bass Fishing Experience said bass had been on a good bite before the storms. Most were up in the 20-foot range falling for drop-shot rigged plastics and tubes fished on 1/8-ounce dart headed jigs. The spoon bite was also good working bait schools holding in creek channels in the Narrows.
LAKE SONOMA—Just as things were picking back up the waters became off-colored again and the bass bite backed off, but covering a ton of water in 3-10 feet with LuckyCraft BDS3s in the Table Rock Shad pattern, jigs, spinnerbaits, worms and spoons will be worth a try. The steelies are headed up the creeks now after all the rain. Watch for debris in the system.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—Trout have been found in abundance by the few fishing here, even from the docks in the rain (near limits). The east side has been better, especially since the bottom end is muddied up.
LAKE ALMANOR—The rainbows are in Geritol Cove right now, looking to spawn and the browns will be after any spare eggs. So use salmon eggs, or roe, near the bottom for them. The rainbows will hit floating baits off the bottom.
BAUM LAKE—The Fly Shop in Redding said the fishing has been good, but the weather and road conditions not so good. Check road conditions before heading here.
CASSEL FOREBAY–Closed until further notice for repairs. All water has been drained into the natural creek channel that flows into Baum Lake in order to work on structure repairs in the canal. The section above the canal near the post office is fishing well but does not accommodate a lot of fishermen. There’s been no indication as to when repairs may be completed or when the forebay may reopen.
EAGLE LAKE—Consider this lake done. Snow and lots of it had very few of the locals out early in the week and by the weekend roads were impassable, with snow most of the week predicted. If you are headed up before it closes on December 31, you’ll find good bank fishing up until the end.
PIT RIVER—The river is high, muddy and blown out. At least a week of good weather will be needed to allow for fishing here again.
SHASTA LAKE—Both bass and trout are in the top 25 feet where the bait is, but watch out for debris all over the lake from recent rains. There should be a good reaction bite on main body points so ripbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits will all work. Try the Pitt arm by boat or the ramp area from the shore in Packers Bay and Centimudi with live bait for bass. Trout will also be in the upper 25 feet and trolling for them near Hirz Bay on the Mc Cloud should be good if you match the hatch with a shad lures.
BOCA LAKE—So far,4 to 5 feet of snow fell in the area this past week and more was on the way. The county plows to the dam, so anglers can access the lake when the weather clears later this week.
CAPLES LAKE—Blizzard conditions here on Saturday. John Voss reported that the lake was completely frozen over, but the ice was still not safe enough for ice fishing. Give it another week.
CARSON RIVER (East)—4-to 5 inches of snow and no one even thinking about fishing in the restricted section below the Hangman’s Bridge, according to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort.
DAVIS LAKE—Pretty well snowed in, according to Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing. 1 1/2 to 2 feet of snow had accumulated by Saturday and more was coming. The road to the dam is plowed, but a 1/4 –mile of ice had formed out from the dam. The only chance of catching fish was to hike or snowmobile to open water at Mallard Point where 18- to 19-inch rainbows were hitting Power Bait.
DONNER LAKE—The best bet in the Truckee area due to the reasonable access. Cast salmon eggs and worms off the shore on the west end or north side for a chance at some planter rainbows.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—Wiggins Trading Post reported that there was lots of snow at lake level and the county only plows the road to the dam. Ice was forming out from the shore and open water for fishing was hard to come by unless someone broke up the ice. The ice isn’t thick enough for ice fishing–everyone just needs to wait until the lake is completely frozen over with 6 inches of ice before venturing out.
GOLD LAKES BASIN—Snowed in—last report until spring.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—Snowed in until further notice.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Snowed in, according to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported that shore anglers were limiting out on planter rainbows in a couple of hours using Power Bait at the dam and up in the Narrows.
LAKE TAHOE—Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters and Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing report excellent mack fishing this past week before the storm hit. Both agreed that trolling for macks was excellent this time of year when the weather permitted–strong winds being the biggest deterrent. On Daniels’ last trip, his clients limited out, tagged 5 or 6, and lost 5 or 6 more—all 4 1/2 to 7 pounders. One 7 pounder spit up a 9- to 10-inch mack—the fish are feeding heavily on anything they can find. Daniels found fish suspended from 50 to 200 feet off the bottom and right on the bottom in 350 feet of water. Chuck Self reported limiting out mostly on 3 to 5 pounders though a friend hit the jackpot this past week with a 17 pounder. Self was trolling small spoons and Lucky Craft lures 150 to 220 feet deep on both his morning and afternoon trips.
LOON LAKE—Snowed in—last report until spring.
PROSSER LAKE—4 to 5 feet of snow in this area, but the county plows the road past the dam to the residential area. Anglers can bust their own trail to the dam or walk in and fish off the dam. More snow in the forecast.
PYRAMID LAKE—A little rain, but no snow to deal with here from the storms that battered the Sierras. Crosby’s Lodge reported that shore anglers were still picking up some big cutthroats. Harold Crandall caught a 10 1/4-pound trout casting a frog FlatFish from shore at Block House. Dan Walton picked up an 11 1/4 pounder while fly casting at Wino Beach with an orange fly.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly fishing Outfitters reported that the lake was frozen over, but the ice wasn’t safe yet—maybe in another week! Heavy snow this past week—4 to 5 feet.
SILVER LAKE—Heavy snow this past week. The ice still isn’t safe enough for ice fishing
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—Snowed in—last report until spring
TOPAZ LAKE—The trout season opens on Jan. 1. The Topaz Lodge reported that the Nevada DOW planted 45,000 to 50,000 pounds of trout in the lake since October 1. Topaz Lodge will hold its annual trout derby from January 1 to April 14—tagged fish are worth cash!! Call the Topaz Lodge for more info at 775-266-3337.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Access to the Little Truckee and most of the main river along Hwy 80 was blocked by heavy snow. Mountain Hardware and Sports suggested fishing from Farad down through Reno.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—Snowed in until further notice.
AMERICAN RIVER—American River flows were up to 10,000 cfs because of the high inflows to Folsom Lake and a rapidly-rising lake level. About the only fishing possible has been in Nimbus Basin, and it’s now almost exclusively for steelhead. It’s not fast fishing though, and the catch is about one fish per 10 anglers, but pressure has stayed pretty heavy because the steelhead being caught are prime winter fish to about 10 pounds. Drift nighcrawlers and roe, or swing No. 3 Blue Fox spinners and Little Cleos.
FOLSOM LAKE—The lake has risen rapidly, so the Granite Bay ramp is open again, and the 5 mph speed limit has been removed. There are some murky conditions in parts of the lake, but some trout and landlocked king salmon are being caught up the North Fork and by Granite Bay, and in front of the dam. Try toplining small Rapalas in Hot Steel and pumpkin well behind the boat, or pink hoochies behind dodgers. It’s not fast fishing, but trollers are getting nice holdovers to 16 inches and the occasional salmon to 18 inches. At Granite Bay, shore anglers are getting small planter trout on Power Bait in bright colors, inflated nightcrawlers, and small minnows. A very few bass were being caught around coves where the creeks coming into the lake and on flats near drop-offs where concentrations of bait are detected on fish finder. Try large plastic worms and jigs in darker colors. Crankbaits can even be effective at times. Don’[t worry about getting out early. Even a degree or two warmer later on in the day can produce better results.
FEATHER RIVER—The Low Flow Section was the place to try since all the water of the Feather was still being directed down it because flows out of the Outlet have been halted because of a fire at the powerhouse. The flow last weekend was 1,600 cfs. Steelheading has been pretty good on dead-drifted San Juan Worms, egg patterns, and psycho prince nymphs. The drift must be drag free to get bit. Spin fishermen were drifting nightcrawlers, roe, and Glo-Bugs or swinging spinners. Most fish weighed a couple of pounds, but the occasional 6 or 7 pounder was being hooked.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—It’s being planted with trout regularly, and fishing has been pretty good from the bank with Power Bait, inflated nightcrawlers and spoons and spinners, while boaters (only human-power or electric motors are allowed) are slow trolling leeches, wooly buggers, Needlefish, and nightcrawlers behind dodgers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER—The river was high, and muddy throughout its length, even right below Keswick Dam, and about the only reports of fishing success were a few sturgeon being taken at the “hog farm,” between Woodland and Knight’s Landing, and striped bass being caught in the Deep Water Channel. Of the two, the Deep Water Channel offered the best odds, by far. , Bloodworms, sardines, and mudsuckers attracted the most bites for bank fishermen, drifting jumbo minnows, jigging with Hopkins and Duh spoons, and trolling deep-diving plugs, sometimes with a jig trailer provided boaters with some decent fishing.
YUBA RIVER–Still blown out.
BENICIA—The bright spot in a week of tough shoreline fishing conditions proved to be Benicia where flounders provided fast-paced action for shore fishers. Boaters worked weather windows to find stripers and sturgeon outside of McAvoy Harbor.
BODEGA BAY—Rockcod fishing turned out to be better than expected, considering the windy weather. The New Sea Angler fished off of the Russian River. The Lovely Linda continued local cod/crab/shrimp combo trips.
EMERYVILLE—Rockfish and crab combo trips were still on tap. The Sea Wolf made a highly successful run to the Farallon Islands for combo limits.
EUREKA—Boaters stayed safely in the harbor all week, due to high winds and seas. There was some brave fishing effort on the jetties. Brian Taylor of Scotia braved 30 knot winds to cast his snare rig on the South Jetty. After catching enough for dinner he went home to warm up and enjoy his hard-earned meal.
FORT BRAGG—Jetty fishers rigged with heavier weights to counter the powerful swells and took home some rockfish. Crabbers cast snares from the jetties and from the shores of Noyo River and Big River.
HALF MOON BAY—Boaters ran for crab and cod, both of which seemed ready and willing to eat. Surf fishers were divided between fish and crabs, with the advantage going to crabbers. That is expected to change for the last week of the rockfish season thanks to better weather forecasts.
MARTINEZ—Nasty weather limited boating excursions and what few reports came in mentioned the Mothball Fleet and Benicia Bridge. Pier fishers scored both sturgeon and striped bass, as reported by Lisa Rezentes of Martinez Marina Bait and Tackle. The 7th annual Diamond classic catch and release sturgeon derby is scheduled for Saturday, January 26th, with the seminar planned for the day before. More information is available at www.diamondclassic.org.
OYSTER POINT—Pier fishers tried their luck, between periods of horrible weather, using pile worms or pieces of shrimp for a variety of perch. Those soaking whole shrimp and eel, hoping for sturgeon, encountered small rays, but no glory fish this week.
PORT SONOMA—Shore fishers didn’t have to wait for better weather. Sturgeon and striped bass were caught in all three area river systems. Crabs showed up in modest numbers in the mouth of the Napa River. Grass shrimp was the common bait.
AMERICAN RIVER—According to the Georgetown Ranger Station, the river was running lower and clearer than it was the previous week, but heavy rains in the forecast could change all that this week. No one was seen fishing.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 80-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported heavy rain mixed with some snow had kept anglers home for the weekend. More weather is forecast for this week, so stay home near the wood stove.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is full. The water is muddy and loaded with debris. With the heavy rain, fishermen were at home getting ready for Christmas.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 9 1/2-foot from full. Kathy Hess reported that only two anglers were at the lake on Saturday. Earlier this past week before the heavy rains set in, fishing for trout was excellent. John Hinders of Marysville caught the big fish of the week—a 9-pound rainbow taken on Power Bait at the Open Area. Boaters were doing well trolling Rapalas and flies for limits of trout to 5 1/4 pounds. Ryan Cameron caught a limit of trout to 4 1/4 pounds and a bass at the dam on Power Bait and worms.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 95-percent capacity. Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service hit the lake this past week and found the water color muddy but fishable. Kennedy and partner Ed Fisk toplined spoons and Rapalas in the top 10 feet and caught several rainbows and a brown trout while testing new electronics—limits would have been no problem.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—Snowed in—last report until spring.
FULLER LAKE—Snowed in—last report until spring.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—Snowed in—last report until spring.
LAKE OROVILLE—The heavy rains kept everyone, even the die-hard anglers, off the lake. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that fishing was very good before the storm front settled in and there’s a lot more rain coming in this week. Might be a good time to stay home and enjoy the holidays with the family and let things dry out a little.
ROLLINS LAKE—A.J. Harris at Long Ravine Resort reported that the lake was full and muddy. No one was fishing in the pouring rain. Let the weather and the water clear before thinking about fishing here.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—Jim Caldwell at the resort reported that boaters were catching limits of planter rainbows at the inlet using Power Bait from the shore.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that there was little snow as of Saturday but more weather was in the forecast that could drop snow at the lake level. The county does plow the road to the lake, but not the roads into the day-use facilities or the boat ramp.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that there was some snow on the road to the lake and strongly recommended 4-wheel drive for anyone attempting to get to the lake. The road is only plowed by the county to Quintet.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—There were still some nice steelhead hitting worms and spoons cast from the shore at the Wilbur Road access. With the heavy rains, fishing conditions were poor at best. Let the weather settle down!