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.— Peak season has hit here, and the fishing has been very good with multiple fish per guides, and some monsters, including at least two over 20 pounds, and many “teeners” being caught. Emma Winter of Independence, Oregon, landed a 21 pounder, and there were a couple of 19 pounders landed last week, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Flows were at 2200 cfs on Sunday, and expected to rise with incoming rain. Guide Dave Castellanos of Cast Guide Service reported one over 20 in his boat, too. The Chetco is predicted to be on a slow rise through the early part of the week, according to guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing adventures who is currently fishing the river.
COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Ore.–Bank anglers are doing well during the early morning while fishing for steelhead. Fishing during the mid-day and afternoon has not been as productive. Anglers are allowed to harvest up to 3 hatchery steelhead a day on this river.
EEL RIVER—Totally unfishable and will be for some time.
EEL RIVER, South Fork—Guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures said the South Fork of the Eel fished well on the top end last week. The bottom end was still on the dirty side. The Benbow area saw good fishing, and plugging and sidedrifting both accounted for solid numbers. Expected rains shouldn’t have a big impact here.
GARCIA, GUALALA rivers—Keep an eye on these rivers for good conditions….now is the time for steelhead.
MAD RIVER—The Mad had been flirting with fishability for a few days as a slide was making the color bounce in and out, according to guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures. “The last couple days she’s been flowing a dirty green and the fish are there in a big way,” Sepulveda said. “While you definitely won’t have this river to yourself anytime soon, it’s one of the best bets on the coast for a bent rod.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Still running way high with huge releases from upstream dams.
SMITH RIVER— The river was getting low and clear on Sunday and in need of rain, but it had plenty of steelhead in it, including one over 20 pounds for guide Willie Plunkett, according to WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service, who put his clients on a 17 pounder and good numbers of smaller steelies.
UMPQUA RIVER, Roseburg, Ore. –“Finally the Umpqua river is fishable, but it is still a foot higher than most of us like too fish it at,” said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “I prefer the river gauge at Elkton to be at 5.4 ft. or lower. With the lower levels of snow melting, it has made the water temperature of the river a little cold for very active fish. Fishing over the last week has been fair, with some very good afternoons. Due to very cold mornings, the steelhead have been biting extra soft and letting go pretty quickly. Warm afternoons have given us some active times on the river with lots of steelhead being caught in short periods. Areas that the sun hits the surface of the water directly have been better places to spend time fishing. There have been steelhead caught from Elkton upriver to Roseburg. The two thing’s that will make the fishing much better is, warm rain or higher daytime temperatures.
UMPQUA RIVER, North & South Forks; Roseburg, Ore.–Both of these rivers are low, with a good amount of visibility. Overall fishing success has been average, but is expected to become much better over the next couple weeks as more steelhead make their way into both forks of this river, according to guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
KLAMATH RIVER— The Klamath has dropped and cleared quite a bit and was fishable well past Orleans. Fishing picked up, especially in the upper reaches, however down through Happy Camp, as the water warmed a bit, anglers scored on just about everything, including drifted Glo-Bugs, roe and nightcrawlers, and backtrolled plugs. Fly fishing was slow, however.
TRINITY RIVER—The river has cleared and dropped, but fishing was still challenging because of the cold water. However, the warmer rain should raise water temperatures a bit, melt most of the snow, and bring some brighter winter fish upriver. Fresh fish were being seen down toward Del Loma, while darker steelies and even some downrunners were more predominant upriver from Douglas City.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—The Trinity was fishable all the way down to the South Fork, but very few anglers were on the water much below Del Loma and reports were sketchy.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Fish the mid section and Rattlesnake arm where there is better visibility. Big baits will produce larger bass but not very many. Minnows will provide more strikes.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The spoon bite has been good for bass, working bait schools holding in creek channels in the Narrows. The trout have been found on top, trolling the surface with silver dodgers trailed by anchovies cured in Mike’s Brite & Tight herring formula
LAKE SONOMA—The lake is still high and muddy, so steelie trollers will still have to wait. The bass fishing also slowed, but fishing black and blue jigs or shaking worms in 15 to 25 feet of water was producing nice largemouth to 5 pounds for persistent anglers.
UPPER BLUE LAKE—The lake was planted Saturday and is starting to clear. Earlier in the week the fishing was slow but it has picked back up with near limits. Fish the top 12 feet with light colored lures to reflect the light or small rattletraps.
LAKE ALMANOR—No reports this past week as there was no place to launch. Everything was either unplowed, iced over or had pulled ramps and docks.
BAUM LAKE—The good fishing continues here but expect icy road conditions. The Fly Shop in Redding reports anglers are finding rainbows in good numbers.
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 fore bay may reopen.
EAGLE LAKE—Closed on December 31.
PIT RIVER—The waters are getting better here now, with Pitt no. 3 providing the best action.
SHASTA LAKE—Trout fishing has been good, just find the bait and you’ll find fish. The fish have been in 40 feet at the dam, and in the arms at 20 feet. Senkos and MF in blue ‘crawler or spring craw worked well for numbers of bass, while swimbaits produced a few big fish.
BENICIA/MARTINEZ—Sturgeon and striped action continued unabated from boats and for shore fishers alike, from Vallejo to Suisan Bay. Flounders bit throughout little coves and bays from Vallejo to Benicia.
BODEGA BAY—Crabbing continued unabated through the week, with boaters doing considerably better than shoreline snare casters. Rocky coastlines gave up eels, rockfish and greenling for adventuresome anglers. The New Sea Angler plans to target Humboldt squid this month.
EMERYVILLE—Rockfish season ended on a high note for the New Seeker, New Huck Fin, New Salmon Queen and Sea Wolf, with limits of rockfish and limits of crabs for everyone. The landing is now running squid trips and also crab and sanddab combo trips.
EUREKA—Clamming proved worthwhile near Strawberry Creek. Surf fishing slowed due to high surf and off-colored water. The words, “crabs” and “limits” nearly always seem to be spoken together here and out of Trinidad.
FORT BRAGG—Divers worked the shallow reef zones to spear lingcod in the 10- to 15-pound range. Jetty fishers cast snare nets for crabs or worked baits for rockfish and greenling. Surf fishers caught enough to make it a worthwhile outing.
HALF MOON BAY—Crab and sanddabs grabbed most of the attention of anglers. Crabbers were busy by boat and along the shore where they cast baited snares. The exception to the focused attention was a perch bite on pile worms, south of town.
OYSTER POINT—Last week’s sturgeon bite at Coyote Point slowed, but spawning herring and herring eggs remained in the vicinity so the bite is expected to pick back up with the strong tides this week. Perch bit for pier fishers and the sharks and rays are not swarming baits, allowing anglers to soak baits longer for stripers and sturgeon.
PORT SONOMA/SAN RAFAEL—Slow tides depressed the sturgeon bite but super-tides this week are expected to bring much improved fishing. Striped bass bit in the river tributaries to the upper San Pablo Bay. A pick on flounder provided some excitement.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 43-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the road to the dam was plowed by the county and ice fishermen were doing well over shallow water at the dam using small pearl or shad GitZits, Kastmaster spoons, worms, and Power Bait.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 69-percent capacity. Fishing was good, according to Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. Anglers were concentrated at the dam and the spillway where they were auguring through 3 feet of hard-pack snow and ice to reach water. Most were using worms and Power Bait, or jigging with Kastmaster spoons. Don’t forget the bay shrimp!
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported that the bitter cold had the river about 75-percent frozen over, plus there was 5 inches of snow on the ground—tough fishing conditions for even the most dedicated of fly fishermen. Stay home by the wood stove and watch a football game!!
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 77-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that the road to the lake had spots with 2 to 3 inches of ice that made getting to the dam a challenge, though the county had plowed out the parking areas at the dam. There were only 8 ice fishermen on the lake on Saturday and none had any fish showing on the ice when Dillard made a patrol through the area. 4-wheel drive and chains would be a good idea for safely getting to and from the lake with lows down to minus 10 and highs running from 10 to 28 degrees.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 40-percent capacity. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that fishing was slow for rainbows on the west end of the lake—it’s been COLD!!
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 62-percent capacity. Fishing was okay through 6 to 8 inches of ice at the dam using worms and Power Bait. The road to the lake can be icy so 4-wheel drive is highly recommended because the road is only plowed by the county to the campground 3 miles below the dam, according to Wiggins Trading Post.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. It was snowing on Sunday morning when WON called Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service. Neeser said that the whole basin would be inaccessible until the weather cleared and SMUD plowed the road to the ramp.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro reported the road was closed by 2 1/2 feet of snow—it’ll be a while until anyone gets back into this lake.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is at 84-percent capacity. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported that trollers were catching limits of macks to 2 1/2 pounds running crawdad pattern lures 60 feet deep in the Narrows. Rainbows were hitting bait at the boat ramp by the marina and at the old ramp in the Narrows on the upper end of the lake.
LAKE TAHOE—Both Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters and Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported excellent trolling for limits of macks running 3 to 8 pounds at North Shore. Daniels was doing best in the morning trolling near the bottom in 350 to 375 feet of water. Self was doing well on both his morning and afternoon trips. The morning bite was good from 180 to 340 feet deep, while the afternoon action was best at 200 feet deep.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 33-percent capacity. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the county only plowed the road to the end of the road to the dam, so it was either a long walk or you had to use a lifted 4×4 or snowmobile to reach the lake. Nylund hadn’t heard for sure if the ice was safe at the dam yet, so beware the unknown!!
PYRAMID LAKE—Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported that trolling was good for larger than average cutthroats on the south end of the lake. Mendes scored 37 fish on his last two trips—mostly 20- to 24-inch cutthroats in the slot that had to be released. He did catch some big fish including 9 1/4 and 7 1/2 pounders. John Oppio of Sparks, who operates the Eagle Eye II charter boat, caught a 15.8-pound, 34-inch cutthroat in Sand Hole Popcorn on a FlatFish running 25 feet deep with leadcore line and followed it up with a 7 pounder and an 8 pounder along with 17 slot fish from 20 to 24 inches.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that fishing near the dam was excellent for lots of 6- to 12-inch cutthroats. The ice and hard-pack snow was 2 feet thick. The road to the dam from Hwy 88 was plowed and access was very good. Most anglers were fishing 30 to 40 feet out from the dam and using worms, salmon eggs, and Power Bait or jigging with small Kastmaster spoons.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 43-percent capacity. Ice fishing should be good near the dam.
TOPAZ LAKE—Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported that the trout opener was okay but slower than last year for shore anglers and the few boaters that were able to get on the lake due to the low water level and ice on the launch ramps at the marina and the county park. Shore anglers did best using worms and Power Bait for rainbows up to 2 pounds. There was 6 inches of snow on the ground on Sunday morning when WON called and it was forecast to continue. The Topaz Lodge reported that only 19 tagged fish were caught on the opener and just 20 fish in the 2-pound range.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the river through Reno-Sparks was very fishable and anglers were picking up some fish on midge and BWO nymphs, streamers, and San Juan Worms. Due to the snow, access along Hwy 80 in CA was difficult at best.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 64-percent capacity. The road to the lake was heavily impacted by snow and ice. Fishermen would be wise to avoid this lake until the weather clears and SMUD can get the road plowed, but 4-wheel drive and chains would still be necessary to safely navigate the road.
AMERICAN RIVER—Steelheading in the Salmon Closure Area, which opened on Tuesday, Jan. 1 was very good last week, even with yo-yoing flows on, and after opening day. Some nice steelies, including a number weighing over 10 pounds were being caught on a variety of methods including spinners, flies and nightcrawlers. Most of the pressure and success has been from Sailor Bar to Rossmoor Bar.
FOLSOM LAKE—Trout fishing was very good last week with many bankies as well as boaters catching limits of trout. Most were planters, but some fish to 16 inches were being caught, too. Bank action was mostly around Granite Bay and trout were being caught on bait under bobbers or by throwing spinners. Troll in front of the dam with Speedy Shiners and small Rapalas, as well as Wedding Rings in front of nightcrawlers. Most of the action is within 10 feet of the surface. Bass fishing continued to be very slow, and most of the action, what little there was of it, was by fishing plastics very slow 15 to 20 feet deep on flats near drop-offs.
FEATHER RIVER—The Low Flow Section continued to be murky, but a few steelhead were still being caught on nightcrawlers and San Juan Worms, egg patterns, and psycho prince nymphs under indicators. Fishing was a little better in the newly opened section above the Highway 70 Bridge to the green bridge below the hatchery.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—It’s being planted with trout regularly, and fishing was good again from the bank with Power Bait, inflated nightcrawlers and spoons and spinners. Boaters in kayaks, float tubes, and canoes were trolling leeches, wooly buggers, Needlefish, and nightcrawlers behind dodgers for fish mostly around 12 inches and up to 3 pounds.
SACRAMENTO RIVER—The river is continuing to drop and clear a bit, and fishing is slowly improving but still only fair. Fishing picked up a bit in the Deep Water Channel, off Hood Franklin and South River Road for schoolie stripers to about 8 pounds, and a few more sturgeon were being caught. Shag and Cache sloughs were also producing a few sturgeon and striped bass. Soak bloodworms, sardines, and mudsuckers for stripers, and pileworms and ghost shrimp for sturgeon. Read the new sturgeon regulations.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Trout fishing was pretty good, even though the water was still somewhat murky, between Redding and Anderson, according to Al Brown of Al Brown’s Guide Service. He’s been doing well drifting Glo-Bugs on trout in the 1-to 2-pound range plus a few in the 3-pound class.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 82-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported that the water clarity was good. Ten bass boats were on the lake on Sunday, but no one had reported in–the locals want to keep a lid on the spotted bass fishing here.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is full and muddy—pretty slow fishing now. The lake needs to clear up and warm up before the bite will improve.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is full. Shore anglers and boaters picked up a mixed bag of fish this past week—trout, bass, and catfish. Ricardo Gomez of Oroville and Gabriel Jaramillo fished the east side from a boat and caught 8 trout that included a 5-pound, 14-ounce rainbow and one 5-pound, 6-ounce bass while using Power Bait. Chris Hazen of Penn Valley and his buddy caught 7 trout at the dam on Power Bait. Ron and Mary Williams of Napa landed 7 rainbows on Power Bait while fishing from the shore near their site in the campground. 13-year-old Ian Halterman of Sacramento used sardines from a boat on the east side to fool a 4 1/2-pound catfish.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Cold and rainy weather kept most anglers at home this past weekend. Skippers Cove Marina reported seeing a few boaters trolling in the marina.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 72-percent capacity with a murky water color. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that the AC Pro-Team event this past weekend was won by Kelly Eagleton and partner with just over 14 pounds. Gandolfi said there were lots of 1 3/4- to 2-pound bass being caught all over the lake from the bank down to 50 feet deep on worms, jigs, Senkos, spinnerbaits, ripbaits, and swimbaits—fishing was good with 20- to 30-fish days common. The better fish were deeper and sitting right on the bottom so they were hard to meter. A run-and-gun approach to hitting the points was necessary if using ripbaits and spinnerbaits.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 92-percent capacity. A.J. Harris at Long Ravine Resort reported that the lake was muddy and fishing was slow—one bass boater who had done well a couple of weeks ago got blanked this past weekend.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 97-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at the resort reported that trollers were catching limits of 12- to 14-inch rainbows on flasher/worm combos at the dam and along Cascade Shores. The bass bite was slow this past week.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The cold, snowy weather really shut down the fishing activity here.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 92-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake was 4-wheel drive only.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 132-foot elevation at press time—71-percent capacity. There’s still a possibility of a nice steelhead for shore anglers at the Wilbur Road access. Try using a minnow, inflated nightcrawler, bobber/’crawler, or a spoon.