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.—Flows are low and clear on the Chetco, but steelheading is going well if you skinny down to light line and leaders and small baits. A few kings are still being caught, too, by the few anglers working the river. Driftboats are limited to a few drifts, and most fishing is by casting from the bank, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Ore.—“Fishing on the South Fork has been slow, but that is temporary and will change when a solid rain lands in these coastal hills,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “Until then, an angler will have to be careful not to spook any of the steelhead lying in the shallow ripple and currents. I have been hearing a few good reports from fisherman at the 5-mile hole.”
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.–-This river is super low and clear. It would be very difficult to get a driftboat down the river in these low conditions and clear water, according to guide Curtis Palmer. The next good rain should raise the river to levels where anglers should be catching early run steelhead.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove, Ore.—Summer steelhead are providing great fishing action on plugs, but the bite is light, according to guide Randy Wells of Oregon Fishing Adventure. He’s been putting his clients on some good action, while avoiding the spawning coho.
SMITH RIVER—WON Field Reporter and guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said the river is still low and clear, but a storm is forecast for the end of the week. “Once that happens steelhead fishing will be in full swing,” he said. “There are a few fish spread out from the Forks down, and while out looking around a couple days ago, I could see fish in a handful of fast-moving, shallow water spots. There are few to no fishermen on the river. Watch the weather.”
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.-–The Umpqua River is as low as summer levels and don’t expect it to change any time soon, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. Light leaders have been a good choice on the lower river between Sawyer Rapids downriver to Scotts Creek boat ramp, which is one of the best runs for catching winter steelhead. There are several late season Coho being caught on this section of river, as well. From Umpqua Boat Ramp downriver to the town of Elkton, there are many drifts, and this area is starting to see the first of the seasons chrome steelhead as they move up the system towards the confluence of north and south forks.
KLAMATH RIVER, Weitchpec—Steelheading was best below Iron Gate Dam last week, but fly fishing was slow because of the cold water, making fish lethargic. Spin fishermen did best on drifted nightcrawlers and Blue Fox spinners. Backtrolled Hot Shots worked, too. Some fish were being caught below the mouth of the Trinity and to Orleans.
TRINITY RIVER—Steelheading wasn’t great, but not bad with anglers getting two to five fish a day. They are newly-arrived fish, too, both hatchery and wild. It’s been bitterly cold though, and fish have been staying deeper rather than in the riffles. Fishing pressure is not bad either. The best odds of doing well have been from below Lewiston down to Del Loma, There have been no big concentrations, though.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Live bait continues to be the winter mainstay, fishing minnows on splitshot, drop-shot or slip float rigs. For artificials, typical baits being used have been swimbaits, deep diving crankbaits, jigs and lipless crankbaits, Alabama rigs and a variety of plastic worm rigs. The fish will be schooled and it will require covering a lot of water and moving around until you find them.
LAKE BERRYESSA—More anglers have been turning to live bait for some bass hookups. The lake has turned over, so look for both trout and bass closer to the surface.
LAKE SONOMA— Bass to 4 pounds were found on points outside Yorty and Cherry creeks. The bite has gotten tougher, though, due to low, clear water. Landlocked steelhead fishing continued to be good from the mouth of Yorty Creek to the Narrows and down around the “No Ski” buoys. Topline trolling flies, Needlefish, Humdingers and other shad pattern lures was the way to go. A few nice-sized bass were found by shaking 6-inch worms in standing timber, drop-shotting ledges and fishing jigs or wacky Senkos on main body points.
LAKE ALMANOR—Thanks to a break in the cold weather, the few anglers fishing here were able to mooch for brown trout with eggs three cranks off the bottom just outside the log boom at Rec. 2. Their spawn is over, but these fish should be put back anyway since they don’t taste good now anyway.
BAUM LAKE—Time to pull out the chains just in case to get here. Fishing continued to be good and there hasn’t been much fishing pressure. With a little warmer weather the fish warmed up a bit as well.
EAGLE LAKE—The shoreline will continue to be a great option for the rest of the season when weather permits. Very few anglers were out due to the cold weather, but both the bait and fish have been close in. No more early trips are required here, just wait for the sun to warm up and melt the ice along the shoreline.
PIT RIVER—From Nov. 16 through the Friday proceeding the last Saturday in April only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Fishing has been good, especially in the afternoon. Fishing has been good once the sun warms the water and fish from mid-morning until the afternoon. But access will be a challenge in some areas due to patches of snow.
SHASTA LAKE—Bass have been eating crawdads in the rocks and gravel areas, so use crawdad patters. You can also try drop-shotting in the arms as well as the main body. It’s winter time fishing here, so come prepared and wait until the sun has warmed the lake up a bit.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 18-percent capacity. Icefishing produced rainbows and the occasional brown at the dam, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
CAPLES LAKE—According to Caples Lake Resort, The lake was frozen over, but the ice was only 3 to 4 inches thick—still not safe for ice fishing. The Resort will open for the winter season on Dec. 20.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that the river was 75-percent iced over and not fishable. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the river provides little in the way of decent fishing until late winter-early spring, so don’t expect too much in the way of positive fishing reports until then.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that the lake had completely frozen over and there was some ice fishing activity at the dam, though the ice was still thin in spots—USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN VENTURING ONTO THE ICE until it’s determined to be at least 6 inches thick!!
DONNER LAKE—Fishing for rainbows was good at the west end near the boat launch and along Donner Pass Rd. off the public piers using Power Bait and worms. The occasional mack was hitting the trout baits, and Kastmaster or Krocodile spoons
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the road was cleared to the dam. The ice was only 2 inches thick at the dam and still not safe for icefishing. Call Wiggins for the latest ice report at 530-993-4683.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 56-percent capacity. The road was icy and 4-wheel drive was recommended. There was no fishing pressure this past week with the freezing cold weather.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that one angler made it to the lake by 4-wheel drive only to find the lake frozen over. The ice was too thin for safe icefishing—wait another week.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Snowmobile access only for the rest of the winter—this will be the last report until spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported that anglers were still picking up a mix of rainbows and macks at the second dam using worms and Power Bait.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported that lake conditions were beautiful and fishing was “real good” with limits of 2- to 10-pound macks coming by 10 a.m. Self was trolling off Crystal Bay Point at 200 to 350 feet deep with spoons and stickbaits—go deeper and use smaller lures after the sun rises.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that icefishermen were picking up some rainbows at the dam.
PYRAMID LAKE—The cold weather slowed the bite some this past week. The biggest fish weighed in at Crosby’s Lodge was a 16-pound, 15-ounce cutthroat taken by Kelly Dow while casting a tui chub spoon off the shore at Sand Hole. Tim Rhyme caught a 13-pound, 10-ounce cutthroat off the shore at Monument on a marabou jig. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported catching some 19- to 25-inch trout trolling Apex at 25 feet deep over 35 to 60 feet of water from the South Nets to Spider Point. John Oppio on Eagle Eye 2 put clients on 15 fish from 23 1/2 inches to 9 pounds trolling U-2 FlatFish at Block House in 18 to 60 feet of water.
RED LAKE—Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that the lake was safe for icefishing and they will begin booking trips here in the near future.
SILVER LAKE—The lake was iced over, but the thickness of the ice had not been determined yet, so wait another week before venturing out for a little icefishing to be sure it’s safe.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported that flyfishing during the winter was best in the afternoons after the water had a chance to warm a degree or two on sunny days. There were ice flows in the mornings that made fishing early in the day a problem. 4 to 6 bites a day would be an excellent day of fishing now using small nymphs in the slower pools. Brian Nylund at Mountain hardware and Sports recommended midge and baetis nymphs, dark winter stones, and crayfish patterns in the early afternoon for the best chance at success in slower moving pools and deeper runs.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 50-percent capacity. Icy road conditions made access nearly impossible unless you had any extreme 4-wheel drive and a death wish!
AMERICAN RIVER—The fish screens at Nimbus Hatchery have been pulled, giving salmon and steelhead free passage into Nimbus Basin. The salmon are dark and well past their prime, but more and more steelhead are starting to show up. The salmon Closure area will reopen to fishing on January 1. However, unless some good storms come soon, flows in the river are likely to be drastically reduced, dewatering redds and killing countless eggs ready to hatch.
FEATHER RIVER—Steelheading slowed last week, and anglers were down to hooking a couple of fish to maybe half a dozen. The river is very low, and running a large boat is difficult. It’s mostly wading and driftboating. Drift Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers, and swing spinners. Fly fishers are switching to small nymphs, San Juan Worms, and alevin imitations as salmon die after spawning.
FOLSOM LAKE–Bass fishing continued to be slow, but some were being caught by slowly drop-shot Robo-Worms from 15 to 25 feet deep. A better bet has been to drift minnows up the North Fork and off the Peninsula. Trout fishing for planters was pretty good by the boat ramp and over rock piles, especially on minnows.
RANCHO SECO LAKE– Fishing for trout from shore as well as small non-gas-powered boats has been good, aided by plants and cooler water.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Salmon fishing ended December 16, but most anglers had switched to striped bass and sturgeon. It was excellent again in the Deep Water Channel for boaters trolling, jigging, or drifting minnows. Bankies weren’t catching as many as boaters, but doing fairly well on bloodworms and sardines in the Turning Basin. Boaters were drifting minnows, jigging, and trolling deep-diving plugs. A few sturgeon were being caught at Hood Franklin and So. River Road.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff—Late fall salmon fishing slowed in numbers as the closure approached, but the largest fish of the season were taken—52 and 54 pounders caught up in the Los Molinos area.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding–Trout fishing continued to be very good, with steelhead fishing continuing to improve around Battle Creek. Some nice fresh late fall kings were continue to show up.
UPPER SACRAMENTO/McCLOUD RIVERS—Trout fishing has been pretty good on the Sacramento River, with good hatches of blue wing olive nymphs coming off the water. However, there hasn’t been the usual fall upstream migration of larger fish from the lake, likely because Shasta has been so very low. Fishing on the McCloud is closed for the season.
YUBA RIVER—The river is low, but fly fishers continued to do well and a few steelhead were showing, too. It’s mostly dead-drifting small nymphs, and Skawala nymphs are starting to show.
BERKELEY—Berkeley boats made runs to the Marin Coast, North Island and the Pimple. The reports were limits of crabs, near limits of rockfish and a decent lingcod bite with individual fish to 18 pounds.
BODEGA BAY—Boats running out of Bodega Bay and fishing off of Fort Ross found good counts of lingcod and steady limits of rockfish and crabs. Shore fishers worked from Carmet to Fort Ross for rockfish, kelp greenling, cabezon and lingcod. New Sea Angler’s plans for early January include crab and dab combos, plus exploratory trips for Humboldt squid.
EMERYVILLE—The Farallon Islands were the prime destination for boats out of Emeryville Sportfishing, including: Sea Wolf, New Huck Fin, New Salmon Queen and New Seeker. Steady limits of rockfish and crabs were reported, plus lingcod up into the teens.
EUREKA—Commercial crabbing got underway, yet recreational crabbers still took some crabs and a few even got limits. Jetty fishers and crabbers did well enough to bring home some fresh meat (rockfish, greenling and crabs) for dinner.
FORT BRAGG—Capt. Randy Thornton on Telstar reported Sunday, via cell phone, that crabbing was going just fine in 110 feet of water off of Ten-Mile Beach. His best pot held 13 crabs and he expected to finish the day with 6 to 7 crabs per person.
HALF MOON BAY—Fishing was great for bottom fish. Aboard Huli Cat, a passenger caught his limit of lingcod on one drop. Crabbing was good and some were taken from the public pier in the harbor. Pacifica crabbers lined the pier on warmer days, to cast snares and drop baited hoops.
MARTINEZ/BENICIA—Really big striped bass bit in Suisun Bay near the Mothball Fleet for people using split tails for bait. Plenty of fish over 30 pounds and a couple up over the 40-pound mark were reported. A guy fishing from his porch in Benicia caught flounder up to 12 inches.
OYSTER POINT—Sturgeon fishers began working in earnest from boats and from the pier. Thus far, only leopard sharks have rewarded their efforts, but rewarded them well, with plenty of keepers up to 48 inches. There are plenty of perch around the pier, however most folks are going after bigger game.
SAN PABLO BAY—Sturgeon fishing really picked up, judging by the numbers and sizes of fish. Two sturgeon over 7 feet long were caught and released. Striper fishing was also good off the Pumphouse, in the Napa River and near point Pinole.
AMERICAN RIVER—The river was running low, clear, and COLD!! No one was fishing, according to the Georgetown Ranger Station.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported there was still no launching with the low water level.
CAMP FAR WEST—Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that trollers running Rapala Shad Raps set back 100 feet over the points all over the lake were catching lots of 1- to 2-pound bass. North Shore Resort reported that Ron Franks of Folsom caught 16 bass using green pumpkin and watermelon Brush Haugs all over the lake. The water temp was 47 to 50 degrees.
COLLINS LAKE—Trout fishing was good despite the cold weather. Shore anglers were catching lots of limits of rainbows at the dam, beach, and the campground on Power Bait and worms. Trollers were picking up some limits and near limits using dodger/worm combos from the island to the dam. The biggest trout of this past week was caught by 5-year-old Wyatt Joseph—a 5 1/2-pound rainbow taken at the dam on Power Bait. A few catfish fell for Power Bait this past week with the biggest a 14-pound, 3 ouncer caught by Dino Tribuzi while drifting at the power lines.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 95-percent capacity. Boaters drifting bait or trolling in the marina were catching limits of rainbows to 5 3/4 pounds. Shore anglers fishing at the Joe Miller launch ramp were also doing well using Power Bait.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 38-percent capacity. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that trollers were doing well on coho salmon using Sling Blade/white and pink hoochie combos from the surface to 40 feet deep in front of the dam. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that bass fishermen could still expect to catch 15 to 30 fish running 1 1/4 to 2 pounds on Senkos, darthead worms, Paradise Tackle Company finesse jigs, Keitech 3.8 swimbaits and tubes. The warmer weather brought some fish back up into shallower water, but most of the better 2 1/2- to 4-pound fish were still at 30 to 40 feet deep on steep points and walls in the Middle Fork, West Branch and the North Fork. The deep bite was just “weight”, so watch your line and remember setting the hook is free. Coho salmon were still hitting tubes at 25 to 30 feet deep—some of the fish had spawned.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 81-percent capacity. Cold, snowy conditions with little fishing pressure made for a slow week.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 64-percent capacity. Cold, snowy conditions with little fishing pressure made for a slow week.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The road to the lake was cleared by the County, but the roads into the lake facilities were not. It’s forecast to warm up this week, so call the Foresthill Ranger Station for the latest access conditions at 530-367-2224.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake was icy and would require 4-wheel drive. With lots of snow on the ground, and access questionable, just do yourself a favor and stay near the wood stove!
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at the 132.7-foot elevation at press time—75-percent capacity. Watch out for the duck hunters in the coves. Try for steelhead in the current at the inlet above Wilbur Rd. or the outlet.
— Western Outdoor News