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 plagued the Checto River again last week, although there were still some fish caught in the river, mostly in the upper river, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He expects some bluebacks to come in this week following a big storm that’s forecast for Tuesday-Thursday, expected to push to river back up to 3,000 cfs. As of Sunday it was running at 1500 cfs.
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.–The middle of last week had a few driftboaters happy they chose to take that last trip down this small, but highly successful river for steelhead. With the water level at only 2.5 feet and good visibility, the half dozen boats found as many as a dozen fish for a couple of the boats for their count after a full day of fishing. Most of the steelhead were natives that had to be released, but they were mostly bright fish, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
EEL RIVER—The best steelheading of the year took place last week after the storm, especially on the South Fork when it dropped into shape, with many guides and anglers finding double-digit hookups with about 2/3rds of them downrunners and the rest fresh fish. Drifting bait and plugs both worked, since the fish were eager to bite, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures.
MAD RIVER—The rain really kicked this river into gear and fresh fish poured upriver while downers moved downriver. There was a late run of wild fish that showed up, according to Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures. The hatchery to the Blue Lake bridge provided “fantastic” fishing for bankies drifting roe with a Fish Pill or tossing hardware.
ROGUE RIVER, Lower, Ore.—The first “Springer” spring salmon was officially caught last week up here, but the main run isn’t really expected for 2 or 3 weeks, according to Jim Carey of the Rogue Outdoor Store. It’s expected to be a “normal” year for the spring kings run. Carey said that guide Steve Beyerlin’s client Ken Turner of Durham, North Carolina, caught the first spring king salmon weighing 16 pounds on Saturday, March 16.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass—Kurtis Jermain at the Fishin’ Hole in Shady Cove, said that fishing was “a little tough” on steelhead, “a few here and there.” He said the river needs rain to bring the steelies upriver, and hopes that the storm this coming week will do it. He said there’s been a good showing of searun cutthroat trout, though, and they’re catching a lot of them 16 to 18 inches while flyfishing. Amazingly, Jermain said someone caught a spring king salmon on March 7, the “earliest I’ve ever seen.”
RUSSIAN RIVER—Low and clear, but one guide on Saturday fished near Monte Rio and got a couple of hatchery steelhead in just a few hours, according to Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. A few other guides went out on Saturday night around Monte Rio and had some hookups, but didn’t land any.
SMITH RIVER—Back to low and clear conditions after a brief upward move with the rain of last week. It fished well right after the rain, but is now “fickle” again, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.–Finally the winter steelhead are showing up in consistent numbers, along with many anglers who are catching several fish a day. The main concentration of steelhead appears to be from Whistlers Bend Park downriver to Hesness Boat Ramp. By the middle of next week there should be fresh fish as high as Colliding Rivers.
UMPQUA RIVER, Scottsburg, Ore.–Those highly desired spring Chinook’s don’t seem to be heading upriver yet, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. He has heard of a couple Springer’s caught at Winchester Bay. “I am sure the salmon were caught, but I am not sure that they were spring Chinooks,” he said. “ I hope they were, but have to wonder if they weren’t feeder’s coming in to feast in the Bay.” The news on the river in the Scotts Creek area is that nobody is catching any spring Chinook’s yet .
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.-Most of the anglers have been on the other two rivers this last week, fishing with what seems to be the majority of steelhead in the system. “I haven’t heard of any fish being caught on this river over the last week,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Some fresh adult steelhead to about 5 pounds have arrived at the upper end of the Klamath, and, along with some nice trout, are being caught on backtrolled crawdad plugs, drifted Glo-Bugs, roe, and nightcrawlers.
KLAMATH RIVER, Johnson’s Riffle—Fishing was only fair as steelhead swam upstream after the rain of two weeks ago, and have not been replaced by very many new arrivals. A few steelhead were being caught below the mouths of creeks, but fishing was slow. There was virtually no fishing pressure, though.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City—The very few anglers trying found some great fishing last week for a new push of mostly wild steelhead, including fish larger than usual with some weighing up to 10 pounds. While some fish were downrunners, most were in good condition and quite a few were bright, new arrivals. Some were being caught on backtrolled plugs and side-drifted roe, the best action was via fly fishing, and the best flies were poxy-back hare’s ears, and red copper Johns with white rubber legs.
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.
BERKELEY—Sturgeon action peaked, especially for boats running to Suisun Bay. Halibut bit in San Francisco Bay and the South Bay. Flounder bit near Point Pinole and Martinez.
BODEGA BAY—New Sea Angler found crabs and sand dabs providing steady action. Limits of crabs were the rule. Sand dab action was dependent upon the current and the hours of slower current were exceptionally productive for the flatfish. Surf fishers found perch action, with sand crabs, pile worms and Gulp! sandworms accounting for most fish.
BROOKINGS, Ore.—Lingcod and rockfish action went off the hook this week near Brookings, according to reports from Andy Martins of Wild Rivers Fishing. Action was great and limits were easy. Krill were so thick that they blanked out fishfinder screens. Incidental salmon were caught and released, building anticipation for the season ahead.
EUREKA—Jetty fishers exercised some ingenuity by using bobbers to successfully present anchovies and herring baits to rockfish between rocks along the jetty. Crabbers cast snares and dropped hoops from the local pier. Clammers dug up Clam beach and gathered good numbers of razor clams.
FORT BRAGG—Twin 8-pound lingcod, caught from the jetty Saturday highlighted local fishing action in Fort Bragg. Private boat crabbers found good action with short soak times, in 30 to 50 feet of water off of 10-Mile Beach. Jacksmelt (locally called “nightfish”) invaded the surf at McKericher beach where people waded into the surf at night to throw nets.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Surf perch fishing picked up late in the week and over the weekend south of Half Moon Bay, while slowing somewhat near Pacifica. Rockfish action remained steady and good at the harbor jetty.
MARTINEZ—Sturgeon fishing was great, especially early in the week. The Flash turned in high scores of both sturgeon and stripers. Private boaters worked the Benicia Bridge and Buoy 2 for sturgeon. A 50-incher was caught from the left side of the Martinez Marina pier, which is unusual.
PORT SONOMA—River systems continued to produce fish, with Petaluma River taking a clear first place. Sturgeon and stripers were also caught in the Napa River. Few reports came from Sonoma Creek this week. Rising salinity levels are bringing in a few sharks and rays.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. The ice is off the lake and shore fishermen can find rainbows and a few browns casting lures and bait at the dam and the inlet, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
CAPLES LAKE—John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported there was still 2 feet of ice on the lake and fishing was good at the spillway in 5 to 10 feet of water for anglers using worms, bay shrimp, and Kastmaster spoons.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported seeing anglers parked at Hangman’s Bridge every day, but few were catching any fish. With the warm weather, there was some run-off keeping the water temp on the cold side and putting a little color in the water.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 78-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported seeing the best fishing of the winter this past week. Early in the morning the fish were 6 to 8 feet deep and then moved out to 15 feet later in the day at the dam. Fishermen were picking up 3 to 5 fish running 14 to 18 inches on Power Bait and nightcrawler/marshmallow combos. The ice was getting soft enough to push the auger through by this past weekend, so the ice could be unsafe very soon. Call ahead for the latest ice conditions—J&J’s Grizzly Store at 530-832-0270 or Ed Dillard at 530-966-5500.
DONNER LAKE—Tony Marotta at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that shore anglers were picking up holdover rainbows on marshmallow/worms on the west end and on the north side public piers. Trollers were doing well on macks from 3 to 10 pounds running spoons and plugs in rainbow trout and kokanee colors at 30 to 40 feet deep.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 66-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the upper end of the lake was open, but ice was still showing at the dam. Though there were a few anglers still ice fishing at the dam, Shirley Wiggins said that the ice should be considered unsafe for fishing. The west side road was passable with 4-wheel drive and shore anglers were picking up some nice rainbows at Snallygaster and Lunker Point where there was open water. The east side was accessible to Crystal Point, but not to Turkey Point.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service fished the lake this past week and said trolling was very good for rainbows running 12 to 14 inches. Toplining a Wild Thing dodger/nightcrawler and a mini-flasher/’crawler in the top 15 feet produced 12 to 14 fish in just a few hours.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort and Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) both reported that the roads into the lake were open. TFFO said that float tubers were picking up some nice fish on nymph/indicators.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is full. Fishing was slow this past week with only a few shore anglers trying for rainbows at the first dam according to Sly Park Resort.
LAKE TAHOE—Rick Kennedy at Tight Lines Guide Service reported that trout trolling in shallow water was slow at Sand Harbor—only one 3-pound mack after dragging Rapalas and Indilure spoons for 4 hours for rainbows and browns. Kennedy limited out on macks to 4 pounds off Cal-Neva Point trolling 200 to 280 feet deep. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing said the fishing was “off the charts” with limits of 4 to 7 pounders coming every trip in just a couple of hours trolling 170 to 240 feet deep with plugs and spoons from Crystal Bay Point to Tahoe City. Self said that shore anglers were doing well on rainbows from 12 inches to 3 pounds on inflated nightcrawlers at Dollar Point. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners reported that trolling was very good early in the week for browns to 4 pounds and macks from 3 to 6 pounds. The browns were hitting Laxee and Shoehorn spoons run 25 to 30 feet deep in 35 to 40 feet of water. The macks wanted UV Laxee spoons and Storm ThunderSticks trolled 170 to 220 feet deep.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 32-percent capacity. The ice thawed here this past week—lots of open water. One shore angler picked up a nice brown trout on a Rapala that had a belly full of kokanee to 8 inches.
PYRAMID LAKE—The 9th Annual Ken Hembree Classic Fishing Derby fielded 358 contestants. Fishing was slow overall with a 12 pounder taken by Craig Kaiser leading the event at press time. Earlier this past week, Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported that fishing was hit-or-miss with only 11 trout to 21 inches coming in on a half-day trip one day, while 26 fish to 10 1/4 pounds were caught the next day. Mendes said the fish were hitting Father Murphy Vibrator spoons trolled right on the bottom in 30 to 35 feet of water in Fox Bay.
RED LAKE—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the ice was no longer safe for ice fishing here. A word to the wise should be sufficient!!
SILVER LAKE—No changes here. Try the dam area where there’s access, and use worms and bay shrimp through the ice.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 74-percent capacity. The road is open and someone plowed the boat ramp, so trollers can now get on the lake. Before the ramp was cleared a couple of locals slid an aluminum boat in and trolled around the island and scored on a 21-pound mack and a 10-pound brown according to Tony Marotta at Mountain Hardware and Sports. Macks and browns were hitting big stickbaits.
TOPAZ LAKE—Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported that trollers were still doing well for 1- to 1 1/4-pound rainbows using Rapalas and flasher/worm combos in the middle of the lake. Shore fishing remained slow.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that “massive” 5- to 6-hour BWO hatches were triggering excellent dry fly action east of Reno for browns and rainbows running 12 to 20-plus inches. Fishing in CA at Glenshire was okay and starting to improve. The Little Truckee was accessible and fish were hitting tiny midge and parachute patterns in sizes 20 to 24 on 6X and 7X tippets—bring you’re A-Game.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 74-percent capacity. The lake level rose quickly this past week and was full of debris. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported he was still picking up four or five macks to 5 pounds on each trip with the possibility of hooking a lunker. The fish were still holding on mid-lake humps at 90 to 115 feet deep and hitting Double Flutter spoons and herring dodger combos. One big fish was hooked this past week but it was lost. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported that friends who fished the lake this past week for rainbows found slow action and tough conditions due to the heavy debris and fast rising water level.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— It didn’t take long for the word to get out big bass are being caught in all of the popular holes, especially with the big tourney sacks but be aware that the lake is very crowded right now. Come early in the week if possible. While most of the fish are in the 2 1/2- to 4-pound range, angles are catching fish up to 8 pounds and larger all over the lake. After minnows the Alabama rig has been the most popular followed by a variety of swimbaits, jerkbaits, lipless crankbaits, Senkos and drop-shot worms.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Troll the dam and Skiers Cove if you are looking for kings but there haven’t been any reports. The water is very clear so bass moving into the shallows get spooked easily. The water is still a little cold but reports should start surfacing soon.
LAKE SONOMA–Bass anglers are still chasing fish up in the coves and down in the Warm Spring arm getting ready for the start of pre-spawn fishing. LuckyCraft BDS3 in the shad patterns tossed on the main body from the no ski buoys all the way back to the 5 mph buoys has been kicking out some nice fish as well but the water is stained. The steelies should be back in the main body by the end of March.
LAKE ALMANOR—Spring is the time to target the big brown trout, followed by big rainbows and kings in the early summer as they fatten up from the winter. Right now it’s the pond smelt they are after. Before too long there will also be hatches. Things are getting ready to bust open.
BAUM LAKE—The Fly Shop in Redding reported fair to good fishing from mid morning to mid afternoon.
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.
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 so don’t be put off by tough wading conditions, just move slow and carefully using a roll cast.
SHASTA LAKE—This past week anglers started trolling for king from 60 to 80 feet down. Just follow the diving birds for limits. Trout limits were also found but on the surface. Bass fishing has been good on main lake points with small swimbaits.
AMERICAN RIVER—This is quite late in the season for adult winter run steelhead, but some bright fish are still showing up, and some weigh up to 12 pounds. Typically, there are also some half-pounders from 12 to 15 inches in the mix. Fishing pressure is virtually nil. The steelies are taking side-drifted nightcrawlers, and fly fishers are getting them by swinging caddis- and smolt-imitating nymphs on the swing on floating and sinktip lines. The only disappointment has been that the spring run adults that usually show up this time of year have been no-shows.
FOLSOM LAKE—Bass fishing continued to improve as the lake warms, rises slowly and bass approach spawning. The best action has been slowly working jigs over rock piles at about 15 feet deep off the Peninsula and into the South Fork. Some larger—but fewer—bass are being caught on swimbaits and ripbaits in shallower water. Fishing for landlocked king salmon was up and down, but action might be good one day, slower the next. The trick has been to be patient, and not to give up, because the strikes might start coming at noon as readily as at 7 a.m.. Speedy Shiners and hoochies trolled behind dodgers between 40 and 50 feet deep between the dam and the porta-potties provided the best odds of success.
FEATHER RIVER—The river went from 2,100 cfs to 5,000 cfs, and back down again last week, so not surprisingly fishing wasn’t very good last week. The fish are likely there, but flows have to stabilize for awhile before the bite comes back.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—Trout fishing was fair last week with anglers fishing from boats (no gas engines allowed) doing best. A trout derby being is 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). There will be some heavy plants just before the event. Some nice bass were caught last week. Fishing for them is a challenge, but some of the bass are in the 10-pound class. Work Senkos, Robo-Worms and jigs veeeery slowly.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Striped bass fishing hit high gear last week. Most of the fish were small, weighing up to 6 pounds, but lots of limits were being caught from shore at Miller Park, South River Road, Bryte Beach, and Courtland, and Rio Vista. Fish bloodworms, pileworms and sardines close to shore. Sturgeon fishing was good, too, especially off So. River Road.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Colusa—Sturgeon fishing was “red hot” with some anglers getting multiple hookups in an evening’s fishing. The best action was around Colusa, but Knight’s Landing and Tisdale were also producing. Use eels, ghost shrimp/pileworms combos. Striped bass fishing continued to be slow, though. It should break open any time now.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—The water below Keswick continued to clear, and fishing around Redding was producing trout to 3 pounds, mostly backtrolling small plugs and drifting nightcrawlers. As you progress downstream, the water continued to clear, and trout numbers increased, although the average size decreases. Fly fishing was good, and there was even a bit of dry fly action in the evening as some nice hatches came off the water. Dead-drifted Mayfly and caddis nymph imitations were producing the most action, though.
YUBA RIVER—Trout fishing was good with trout taking nymphs under indicators. There was a bit of dry fly action late in the day as the weather warmed.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 96-percent capacity. Guides Rick Kennedy and Ed Fisk took a DFW biologist trolling to collect some kokanee for research and hooked 24 fish landing 9—all 9 to 10 inches—all on Sep’s Goldstar dodgers trailing pink Uncle Larry’s spinners from the top to 40-plus feet deep near Dark Day. Bass bite has been good.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is nearly full and the water is clear. Bass fishing was very good this past week with reports of 32 to 58 fish being caught per day on green pumpkin lizards and Brush Hogs from 8 to 10 feet deep. The bass were running 1 1/2 to 2 pounds.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake will receive a quadruple plant this week—a 1000-pound private plant including tagged fish, a DFW plant, and two pens will be released consisting of 600 rainbows running 2 1/2 to 3 pounds. Kathy Hess reported that most anglers were still only catching 2 or 3 good sized rainbows, though there were a few limits. Trollers picked fish weighing 7 and 9 1/2 pounds near the dam on Rapalas and Cripplures. Shore anglers rely on Power Bait at the dam, beach, and the campgrounds.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that customers fishing here this past week did well for 14- to 16-inch rainbows running Sep’s watermelon dodgers and pink hoochies 20 to 25 feet deep at the dam and from the “No-Ski” buoys to the inlets. Also, drifting worms at the waterfall was productive. Skippers Cove Marina will release their pen-reared trophy fish this next week after March 24.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 81-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that bass fishing was excellent with the fish moving up into the shallows to spawn. The smaller 1- to 1 1/2-pound males were all over the banks, while the larger females were holding in 15 to 25 feet of water on the flatter points all over the lake. Drop-shot worms, jigs, tubes, dart-head worms and Senkos, and Paradise Tackle Company finesse jigs were all working well. Anglers throwing A-rigs were picking up some bigger fish to 4 pounds.
ROLLINS LAKE—A.J. Harris at Long Ravine Resort reported that trout fishing was good after the DFW plant this past week. Trollers were picking up fish from the dam to the inlet on flasher/worm combos and Rapalas.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is full and the water is clear. Jim Caldwell at Scott’s Flat Marina reported that trollers were picking up limits of 11- to 14-inch rainbows all over the lake. Shore anglers were only picking up 2 or 3 fish each using Power Bait near the marina.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that access to the lake facilities was good. With the warmer weather, fishing should be improving for holdover trout.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The road is passable with 4-wheel drive and boaters can expect to see limits of rainbows to 14 inches on flasher/worm combos and Rapalas.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 131.9-foot elevation at press time—70-percent capacity. Despite all the speed boat traffic earlier in the week practicing for the races this past weekend, bass fishing was good for fish up to 6 pounds. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported catching fish on the rock rip rap banks along the west side of the lake on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. In the coves, a weightless Senko was working on the tule banks. In one cove Gandolfi found several dead bass floating around and the biggest weighed 8 1/2 pounds.