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 blew out and was fishing by Thursday and prime on Friday, with lots of downrunners and enough fresh fish to keep anglers happy. The North Fork area was one of the better spots. Most anglers were scoring well on mostly downers but some fresh fish, and both plugs and bait were working well. The reports were confirmed by both WON Field Reporters and guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures and Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
EEL RIVER— The Eel mainstem went up 6 feet at Scotia, and was still out of commission at press time on Sunday, as was the South Fork, but watch for both to be dropping and clearing quickly, and they should both be good places to try by the weekend for fresh and downer steelies, according to WON Field Reporter Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures.
MAD RIVER— The Mad River got hit with good rain and was blown out, but should be coming back into shape by the weekend and provide some good steelhead action on fresh fish, but mostly downrunners.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.–Fishing for steelhead on the Sixes last week was close to the same that it has been for most of the season. Low amounts of pressure from angler and even less boat pressure, with fair to good responses from the steelhead, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. From flies to plugs, these fresh-out-of the-salt fish are on a mission to move upriver. Only about 3-5 guide boats and 2-3 private driftboats on the river. One guide said he was catching 6 fish a day.
SMITH RIVER— The Smith went up after the rains and it was really the only river fishable right away, and fishing was good for steelhead even as the river was still going up! Guide Mike Coopman went 3 for 4, and the only other boat that day hooked 5. It now has fresh fish, and downers, according to guide and WON Field Reporter Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures.
UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Ore.–River is dropping quickly and the steelhead are piling up in the holes and riffles. Anglers might want too think about fishing this river before the next time the water rises and the fish bolt upriver. Fishing success has been minimal for just about everybody and the bite has been soft with the constant cold water temperature. No problems with crowds from bankies or from the driftboater’s last week. Not sure where the people that live for fishing steelhead were last week, but they couldn’t be found on this river, said guide Curtis Palmer.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.—“It was the most difficult first week in March that I have ever experienced on this river,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “River levels have been like a rollercoaster, with it’s swift rising flow and then followed by a long steady drop in water height. Temperature of the water has been even more erratic with it constantly changing and almost daily, between 40 and 45 degrees, so it’s a light bite. No problem while using pink worms, because the steelhead have been inhaling the 4- and 6-inch worms. The better reports have been coming from people fishing above Whistler’s Bend Park and driftboats that have been putting in at Amacher Park near I-5 and staying there to fish have been catching good numbers of fish. The window at the ladder has had some very big steelhead working their way upriver during mid-week.”
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.--Just as most of the locals were giving up on the steelhead run this year and starting to get ready for other fishing seasons, fish were found just below Myrtle Creek, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer. During the middle of last week anglers fishing from Lawson Bar downstream to Myrtle Creek seemed to be finding a few hatchery fish to harvest. Downriver on the west side of Roseburg there were chrome bright steelhead being caught as well on the section of the river known as Kruse: The Forks River Park. The two pieces of tackle used the most were yarn balls with a small piece of shrimp with it and the other were Berkley Pink Worms in the 4-inch Bubble Gum.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Some nice trout and small steelhead continued to be caught by very few anglers trying for them. Backtrolled plugs, drifted Glo-Bugs, roe, and nightcrawlers worked best. Fly fishing might attract a few strikes, but is not likely to be as reliable as fishing with bait or lures.
KLAMATH RIVER, Johnson’s Riffle—Fishing slowed in this area as the water rose from the rain, and fish that had been hanging in this area finally got the encouragement to finally move upriver.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—Fishing improved last week as the rain, as limited as it was, encouraged steelhead hanging far downstream to finally make a push upriver. There was some pretty decent fishing for a mix of downrunner steelhead plus some nice, fresh, wild steelhead to about 8 pounds. Some brown trout have been showing up, too.
TRINITY RIVER, Willow Creek—Fishing was pretty good last week as fresh steelhead stuck around the area waiting for the river and creeks to rise, especially downstream of the South Fork. The rain raised the river a bit, and allowed fresh fish move into that section of river, while others moved out and went upstream.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Local tackle shops reported a brisk business in minnows, trailer baits for umbrella rigs and swimbaits. Other favorites include drop-shot worms, shaking worms, brush hogs, bladed swim jigs, and rip baits. Even with the tourney pressure most are landing at least one 6- or 7-lb. bass. This week should be even better.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The fishing slowed with a cold front that had moved in, but with another warming this week, the water will start to warm up again. Troll the dam and Skiers Cove if you are looking for the kings. Tourney teams have been throwing the Alabama rig, crankbaits and jigs.
LAKE SONOMA— Reports from here have been of lots of hours trolling without any bites or fish. Water temperatures have been at 50 and 51 degrees in the mornings. Bass anglers are still chasing fish up in the coves for the start of pre-spawn while the steelies should be back in the main body by the end of March.
LAKE ALMANOR—The east shoreline still holds the king salmon and rainbow trout and there were a few browns on the west side of the peninsula by Rec.2. Not many anglers were fishing this past week though.
BAUM LAKE—The Fly Shop in Redding reported good fishing thanks to all of the hatches.
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.
PIT RIVER—Fishing has been good here for the past month thanks to some hatches going off and conditions continue to improve. There has been very little pressure here as well.
SHASTA LAKE—This week should see the beginning of the king season, so head to the dam and Dry Creek area. Once you find what depth they are at, troll through them with shad or anchovy wraps. Trout are on top, but there aren’t any brown trout yet. Bass fishing had been good and this week’s warming trend could bust things open.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 38-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that ice fishing was done for the season. Anglers could look for open water at the inlet and give shore fishing a try using bait and spoons.
CAPLES LAKE—John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported that most anglers were ice fishing at the spillway for a mix of browns and rainbows using worms, Power Bait and bay shrimp. Some anglers were walking to the south side of the lake from the dam and picking up a few 3- to 4-pound macks on worms and jigged Kastmaster spoons in 5 to 10 feet of water. Anglers were also parking at the EID gate and walking to the launch ramp area to fish.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported that the river was in perfect condition with little snow on the ground. The few anglers that were seen said that fishing was slow, but warmer weather could improve the bite in the late afternoons.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 77-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that ice fishermen did best this past week at the little island out from Honker Cove after the weather settled down—the area saw 4 to 5 inches of new snow during the mid-week storm.
DONNER LAKE—Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the lake was fishing very well. Large schools of planter rainbows were providing plenty of action on the west end of the lake for shore anglers using inflated nightcrawlers and salmon eggs. Boaters were doing well on bigger macks trolling or jigging 65 to 75 feet deep, while the smaller macks were shallower at 35 to 45 feet deep.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 66-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that ice fishermen at the dam were still picking up rainbows from 14 to 24 inches on Power Bait and worms. The ice was still 8 to 10 inches thick.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 66-percent capacity. The road to the lake was clear and with the warm weather in the forecast for all of this week, trollers and shore fishermen could do well.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort 4-wheeled up the Airport Rd. a couple of miles this past weekend and turned around—you could probably make it in, but if you got stuck you’d be in for a long walk out to get help. The warm weather in the forecast for all this week might melt enough snow to open the road by the weekend.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Lots of boaters and shore fishermen were out but there were few reports.
LAKE TAHOE—Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters reported that his clients on light loads were catching limits of 3- to 7-pound macks trolling Sling Blade/ Koke-a-nut or dodger/tube combos from 350 to 400 feet deep. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing said he was catching limits of macks from 2 to 12 pounds from 180 to 220 feet deep. Self was releasing the smaller fish trying to get limits of better macks. Trolling for rainbows in shallower water was improving. Shore anglers were also picking up some limits of rainbows to 6 pounds on inflated nightcrawlers, but Self recommended releasing the big females that are now full of ripe eggs waiting to spawn this spring—you gotta’ leave some for seed!!
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the lake ice was in a transitional phase and could be soft in some places with the new snow that fell this past week covering some of those spots. Brian Nylund recommended that first-time anglers stay off the lake due to their lack of familiarity with the questionable areas of ice. Experienced anglers were still picking up some nice rainbows near the dam on nightcrawlers, tube baits, and Kastmasters.
PYRAMID LAKE—Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported that trout numbers were down to 7 or 8 fish per day, but the quality was up—few, if any, 17- to 20-inch keepers– mostly 20 to 24 inchers that had to be released. The cutthroats were hitting bleeding frog FlatFish in Dago Bay and Howard Bay on the south end of the lake. Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported weighing in four big fish this week for shore anglers—14-pound ,10-ounce, 12 3/4-pound, 11-pound, and 10 1/2-pound lunkers taken on flies from the North Nets to Popcorn.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that smaller cutthroats were still providing plenty of action for ice fishermen at the dam on worms and small Kastmaster spoons.
SILVER LAKE—No change here—ice fishing was best at the dam area with worms and bay shrimp.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 74-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the road to the lake was passable in 4-wheel drive though the boat ramp was still closed. Shore fishing was available on the main body of the lake with ice still seen in the creek arms.
TOPAZ LAKE—Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported that trollers were still picking up boat limits of mostly 1- to 1 1/4-pound rainbows. Big fish of the week was a 3 3/4 pounder taken on a firetiger Rapala toplined in the middle of the lake by Rod Curtis of Orange County.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that trout action was “pretty good” in the Glenshire area and down in the canyon. A 5-hour BWO hatch came off in the Reno-Sparks area this past week and produced some great dry fly action. One drift produced a 24-inch brown on a white streamer for guide Chris Nicola of South Lake Tahoe.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 73-percent capacity. Ken Mathis of Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported a client picked up a 20 pounder this past week trolling a Ken’s Mack Master dodger/hoochie combo 90 feet deep over a mid-lake hump. Most days clients were picking up four to six 3 to 5 pounders and hooking into one big fish. The roads to the lake were clear. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported that trollers were doing very well on 14- to 16-inch holdover rainbows on flasher/Wild Fly combos north of the dam in Camino Cove.
AMERICAN RIVER—Steelhead fishing pressure was virtually nil last week, but there are still some fish present, both a few newly arrived steelies, but also some spawners. Flows have dropped to 1,750 cfs. Fly fishing is probably working better than other methods due to the low water. Drifting roe and nightcrawlers on light lines and leaders have also been good. Dead-drift small egg patterns, golden stone nymphs, and prince nymphs under indicators.
FOLSOM LAKE—Fishing for trout continued to be very good with holdovers up to 17 inches being caught on the main body trolling Speedy Shiners and broken back Rapalas within 10 feet of the surface. An occasional king salmon was also being caught, except deeper, from 25 to 35 feet deep. The big news though was the dramatic pickup in the bass bite, at least for some anglers. Bass weighing close to 10 pounds were caught, mostly on swimbaits. Still, most bass continue to be caught on plastics worked slowly off main points leading into coves. Fish the sunny areas where water temperatures are a little warmer.
FEATHER RIVER—Striped bass fishing was very slow, but the few anglers trying for steelhead found very good fishing both in the Low Flow Section and the High Flow below the Outlet down to Gridley. A 9 pounder was taken on roe, though most fish were under a few pounds. Fly fishers were scoring on dead-drifted copper Johns, prince nymphs, caddis nymphs and pheasant tails.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—Fishing continued to be good for trout from 12 inches to 3 pounds Watch for the trout derby being held April 6 and 7. There will be a $100 first prize for adults, $50 for youth 11-16, and $35 for 10 and under. A $5 entry fee will be charged to enter the Derby (plus daily park entry fee.)
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Striped bass fishing improved last week, but still not great except for boaters on the Port of Sacramento. However, stripers were being caught at Miller Park, South River Road, Bryte Beach, and Courtland. Most have been schoolies weighing up to 8 pounds. Sturgeon fishing was good, too, but most have been oversized.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Tisdale—Sturgeon fishing was really good last week, from Knight’s Landing to Colusa, but most fish were oversized. Try ghost shrimp and pileworms in a combination cocktail, or eels. Striped bass fishing continued to be slow, though. It should break open any time now.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—The water below Keswick is slowly clearing, and anglers were catching nice natives backtrolling small plugs and drifting nightcrawlers. Farther downstream, the water is much clearer, and though the trout are smaller, fly fishing continued to be good with dark flies such as rubberlegs dead-drifted with smaller Mayfly and caddis nymph imitations producing a dozen or more strikes a day.
YUBA RIVER—Trout fishing was good with trout taking nymphs under indicators. Not much in the way of dry fly fishing though.
BERKELEY—Pretty quiet at the landing, although the usual pier fare is possible. No word on live bait availability. Salmon season opens April 6.
BODEGA BAY— When interest and weather permits, crabbing is good, and when the drift is right, sand dab numbers from about the 250-foot contour are high. Not much else until salmon season opens April 6. Surfperch are possible on Doran Beach, and shore anglers can still catch rockfish along the coast.
EMERYVILLE—Frank Salazar said the Tigerfish is planning the first halibut trolling trip of the year on March 16, then outside of halibut, salmon will be the next big attraction on the opener on April 6. The boats were down for maintenance and a winter break since the last sand dab and crab combos back in January.
EUREKA—Some shore fishing going on around Humboldt Bay’s jetties. Clam Beach’s “preferred” side is open this year, north of Strawberry Creek, and most minus tides offer a chance to load up on the razor clams there.
FORT BRAGG—Rockfish is open for shore anglers, and the sportfishing boats are still crabbing. The most recent trips on the Telstar found limits of crabs from the deeper pots. Captain Randy Thornton called the grade “beautiful,” and said the best pot had 9 keepers.
HALF MOON BAY—Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat said crabbing is still productive with limits the rule, the only factor how many pots you need to pull.
MARTINEZ—Sturgeon fishing is turning the corner with the first good action in awhile this week on both sportfishing and private boats. There was an estimated 200 pounder released on the Happy Hooker, along with a 52-inch keeper. On the California Dawn, Captain James Smith reported 8 sturgeon caught on Thursday (3 keepers), and 2 keepers on Friday. Shrimp-eel combo baits and salmon roe are hot.
SAN FRANCISCO—“There have been a few fish caught in the Berkeley Flats and up by Paradise,” said Captain Erik Anfinson of Bass Tub Sportfishing. “We’re starting trips next week with live bait and trolling.” He still has some live anchovies left from last season to use for bait, along with shiner perch. The Bass Tub has been upgraded with a new fish finder and bait tanks, said Anfinson. “The boat is all updated and ready to go!”
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 80-percent capacity. The warmer weather in the forecast should get the bass action going. A big local tournament was on the lake Sunday but had not weighed in by press time.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is at 95-percent capacity. North Shore Resort reported that “Ron” of Folsom hit the lake twice this past week and caught 20 bass each day to 2 pounds using green pumpkin and watermelon/red flake Brush Hogs from 8 to 15 feet deep in the coves.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is full. Trollers and shore anglers were mostly picking up 2 or 3 rainbows, but there were a few limits. Quite a few large trout from 4 to 7 pounds were weighed in at the store. Ricardo Gomez and friends came in with a big stringer topped by rainbows that weighed 6 1/2, 6 1/4, and 4 pounds—all were taken drifting Power Bait on the east side of the lake. The dam, beach, the bridge, and campgrounds were all producing for shore anglers. Bass were beginning to get active with the warmer weather, too.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 92-percent capacity and scheduled for another DFW trout plant this week. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported that trollers and bait drifters were picking up limits of 1/2- to 2-pound rainbows at the dam.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 82-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that the bass bite was very good this past week except for a slowdown while a cold front passed through mid-week. The AC team tournament held this past weekend was won with 16 pounds that included a 6-pound kicker. The 6 pounder hit an A-rig in the early morning. Gandolfi reported that fish were hitting everything from crankbaits to drop-shot worms. The fish were up shallow in mud lines at 5 to 10 feet deep, but mostly down at 20 to 30 feet. The bass were moving up all day long and good spots could be fished several times during the day and still produce. The bite was light but anglers can catch 40-plus fish per day right now. The South Fork and Middle Fork warm up quicker than the North Fork, and many anglers found warm water in the West Branch and the Slot, too. With warm weather in the forecast for all this week, the fishing should only get better.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is nearly full with nice clear water and scheduled for its first DFW trout plant of the year this week. Casey Reynolds of Auburn reported that shore anglers were picking up 2 or 3 holdover rainbows to 18 inches on Power Bait and bobber/worm combos from Long Ravine to the inlet. Early morning trollers fast-pumping a Rapala saw browns up to 22 inches coming out of the inlet area. The bluegill bite was fast and furious on pieces of nightcrawler, but the fish were small.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—Jim Caldwell at the marina reported that trollers and shore anglers were all catching limits of rainbows. The dam and inlet area were producing for the trollers running flasher/worm combos and shore anglers were picking up plenty of fish in the marina on Power Bait and worms.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Not much change here. The Foresthill Ranger Station said few anglers were seen here this past week.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The road to the lake was passable with 4-wheel drive. Trollers can pick up limits of rainbows.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 130.1-foot elevation at press time—59-percent capacity. With the sunny weather, the rocky banks down the west side of the lake were good for anglers casting crankbaits and spinnerbaits for bass. Some bass to 6 pounds were reported. Shore anglers can still try for steelhead at the Wilbur Rd. access.