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 rains brought the river up and the steelhead into the river in big numbers and fishing was great last week for everyone, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, Randy Wells of Oregon Fishing Adventure and Harvey Young of Fishawk River Company. All of them had multiple hookups and brights steelies to the boat. Flows dropped out over the weekend and now it’s low and clear, but still loaded with fish, requiring stealth tactics and light gear.
MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork; Coos Bay, Ore.–Last week was a good week on this river. This is one of the higher tributaries that flow into one of the forks that make up the Coos River. Boat access is very limited on this river and anglers need to watch the water level due to shallow areas. There is plenty of good access for bank fishing on either the West Fork or East Fork, and lots of bobber fishing goes on in these little rivers that are close to stream size. The west Fork has a nice return of hatchery winter steelhead that come back to the Girl Scout Camp. A friend fished this river last week and the gal that fished with him was very impressed with the 8 winter steelhead she caught during the middle of the week.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove, Ore.—Guide Randy Wells of Oregon Fishing Adventure fished the river last week and did well on the summer steelhead. He said that as soon as a good rain hits, the winter steelies will surge up from the middle section and provide good action in the upper river.
RUSSIAN RIVER—The flow is currently a miserable 100 cfs now that SCWA lowered the flow from Coyote dam from 100 to 35, according to Scott Heemstra of King’s Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. The mouth is also closed and has been now for a week. Estuary levels in Jenner may approach the 7-foot mark this coming week, which will signal the time to open it up. Fishing remains excellent with the bulk of fishing coming in on jigs or bait under floats, Little Cleos, and a few with flies from Steelhead Beach to Duncan’s Mills. With the mouth closed, the water is currently backed up to Northwood, which means no current from there to the ocean. Be careful when wading, as many Chinook are currently spawning in the Russian from Dry Creek down.
SMITH RIVER—Rains brought in big numbers of steelhead and fishing was great last week, but the flows dropped out very quickly to low and clear conditions again. But the fish are now in the system, and anglers who skinny down their line and baits, and keep it quiet, can do well, according to guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Guides.
UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Ore.–The beginning of this last week was difficult fishing on the Umpqua River for steelhead, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets, but by Wednesday things were looking up as the river was dropping. By the numbers of steelhead being caught on the Tyee section of the river, it is evident that the winter run of steelhead are finally spread throughout the river. “I feel it is safe to say we are going to have another season with some monster-sized steelhead returning,” Palmer said. Guide Randy Wells of Oregon Fishing Adventures fished the main Umpua from James Woods to Osprey boat ramp on Jan. 19 and said the 15 boats on that section all hooked fish. Wells hooked 8 winter steelies and landed 4 for his clients.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate—Half a dozen small adult steelhead to about 5 pounds plus a like number of halfpounders and trout continued to be caught below Iron Gate Dam on drifted Glo-Bugs, and back-trolled crawdad plugs and small Hot Shots.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen—Lots of fresh winter steelhead were stirring around the Klamath River estuary just waiting for rain wanting to enter the river and rush upstream. A few winter-run steelhead were being caught around the mouth of the Trinity, mostly on roe and spinners.
TRINITY RIVER—Fishing improved some more last week with the arrival of a batch of fresh females to about 5 pounds. Over 400 steelies arrived at the hatchery, one of the best weeks of the season, and fishing pressure is very low. A few small steelhead were being caught on roe around Willow Creek.
BERKELEY—New El Dorado III from Berkeley Charter Boats made it out through the Gate with 20 anglers who caught about 400 sanddabs, 2 rock soles (to 6 pounds), 90 Dungeness crabs and 300 striped prawns. Perch fishers around Berkeley got into pogey and rubberlip perch.
BODEGA BAY—A crab and sanddab combo trip aboard New Sea Angler produced high counts of both species. Surf fishers working spots where sandy beach met rocky shore caught plenty of red tail perch and some were quite large… over 2 pounds. Jetty fishers managed rockfish and a few crabs.
CROCKETT— Crockett was good for both sturgeon and stripers, according to Victor Le at Phuquy Baits in Oakland, after his customers reported back from runs to the area to soak various baits. Bullheads were perhaps the best bait, but are becoming hard to find in the shops.
EMERYVILLE—No January trips, however Emeryville Sportfishing plans to run sturgeon trips in February, so check in with them to get in on a trip. Shore fishers used pile worms on surf leaders to catch perch.
EUREKA—Crabbing slowed for boaters who had to soak pots for multiple days to accumulate enough legal crabs to justify the trip. Jetty and pier fishers seemed to do just about as well as boaters. Jetty fishers caught a respectable number of rockfish, greenling and cabezon.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Crabs went wild throughout the area, filling pots and snare loops quicker than they had in better than a month. Boaters, jetty and pier crabbers all reported good counts which included numerous limits. Jetty fishers also caught rockfish. Along area beaches, red tail perch bit well enough to get lots of people out walking and casting.
MARTINEZ—Sturgeon and striper fishing remained good. Most boaters headed straight for the Mothball Fleet, though the nearby buoys also produced for those using ghost or grass shrimp and eels. The Diamond Classic Catch & Release Sturgeon Derby is Saturday the 25th and the day should see an explosion of fishing interest throughout the area, with lots and lots of kids involved.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 13-percent capacity. Ice fishing was safest at the dam in the early morning—watch out for soft ice later in the day along the edges of the lake especially near rocky banks that can absorb heat.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 58-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was still 15 to 18 inches thick and fishing was best at the dam and spillway using Power Bait, worms, and bay shrimp for rainbows, and a few browns and macks.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that the river was flowing well with some ice along the edges. The water was still very cold and fishing was slow at best. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters still recommends waiting until March to expect decent fishing.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 64-percent capacity. The ice was melting with high temps in the 50s the past couple of weeks. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the ice was only 3 inches thick at Mallard Point and open water was showing from the island toward Jenkins. Fishing was still slow with a few 17- to 18-inch rainbows hitting a small jig head rigged with Berkley Gulp! Fish Fry worked 3 feet off the bottom. Boats might be able to launch at Camp 5 soon. USE EXTREME CAUTION IF VENTURING ONTO THE ICE—err on the side of safety if you aren’t sure about current conditions.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 33-percent capacity. Some skim ice in the early morning, but open water aplenty for boaters trolling for macks at 80 to 100 feet deep using Lyman, FlatFish, Kwikfish, and Rapalas. A few planter rainbows were still being caught by the boat ramp on Power Bait and worms.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the ice was pretty much off the lake except at Lunker Point where it was still 5 to 6 inches thick. There was no ice at the dam and fishermen had launched a small boat and caught 7 nice rainbows on worms.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service and Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service both reported that the road and ramp were clear and fishing should be good on dodger/worm or brown grub combos.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that Airport Rd. had been cleared and access was good to the lake. Open water was showing in the cove at the dam and one angler launched a small boat and caught 4 rainbows to 2 pounds on Power Bait.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is at 65-percent capacity and scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Fishing for rainbows should be good near the ramp and second dam. Some big macks will move shallow to feed on the planters.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported catching limits of 3- to 7-pound macks in 1 1/2 hours but releasing smaller fish to extend the trip. Self was trolling spoons and small stickbaits at 200 to 320 feet deep from Dollar Point to Crystal Bay Point—the bite was excellent!!
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 22-percent capacity. The ice was safest near the shore at the dam—it’s getting thin in the middle of the lake. Watch out for soft ice in the afternoons near the shore, especially the rocky banks.
PYRAMID LAKE—It was another week of quality over quantity for anglers fishing for cutthroats. The biggest fish weighed at Crosby’s Lodge this past week was an 18-pound, 2-ounce lunker caught by Rick Matson while trolling a Rapala at Popcorn on the south end of the lake. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported that hooking 12 fish was a good day now. His big fish this past week was a 12 pounder, but he saw much bigger fish boiling near the surface chasing bait. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters was catching fish trolling Apex from Pelican to Tamaracks.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported that anglers were catching 4 to 5 fish per day on worms, bay shrimp, and jigged Kastmaster spoons—mostly smaller cutthroats with an occasional fish to 16 inches.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 15-percent capacity. Fish worms, Power Bait, and bay shrimp near the dam for a mix of trout.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 50-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the road was open and launching was okay for small aluminum boats. Trollers were targeting macks at 60 to 80 feet deep near the dam with Lymans, Flatfish, Kwikfish, and Rapalas. There could be some ice in the shallower coves and at the inlets.
TOPAZ LAKE—Still no launching with the low water level. Cartoppers could have the lake to themselves.
TRUCKEE RIVER—TFFO reported that anglers catching 2 or 3 fish were having a good day using midge or baetis nymphs in the low flows. The BWO hatches should start in the next couple of weeks.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported that the ramp at the dam was still usable late this past week and trolling for macks was very good for fish to 18 pounds on Double Flutter spoons, Mack Masters (dodger/hoochie), and dodger/herring combos. Mathis said he was catching 10 to 15 fish per day, mostly 3 to 5 pounders, with a good chance for a lunker. The road to the ramp at the dam was extremely rough. Launching will be a problem if the lake drops any more.
SACRAMENTO RIVER side—Sturgeon action has rebounded in both upper and lower Suisun Bay with a variety of baits. Grass shrimp, grass shrimp combined with lamprey eel, or salmon roe are the top producers, and the unseasonably warm weather has brought out the bite in both the shallows and in deeper water. The occasional huge female striped bass continues to be caught and kept on splittail in the deeper sections of the river from Garnet Point upriver towards the Pittsburg PGE Plant. Sturgeon fishing has been producing upriver near the Green Bridge in Freeport.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side—Striper action rebounded with swimbaits in the San Joaquin River from Three-Mile Slough towards Sherman Island. Bank action in the Stockton area has been slow. Largemouth bass continued to key on a slow presentation with ripbaits or crankbaits in the clear waters of the San Joaquin River. Panfish provided outstanding action with large red-eared perch taken on jumbo red worms or mini-crawlers near the bridge along King Island and Paradise off of Eight Mile Road or in Whiskey Slough west of Stockton. ‘Monster’ bluegill found on similar baits near the Lazy M Marina in the south Delta. The supply of fresh shad is over for the year, but most bait shops are loaded with fresh frozen shad in their freezers.
AMERICAN RIVER—The 500 cfs flows are a disaster for maturing salmon eggs but a boon for snaggers who have been out in force. However, The Fish and Game Commission will hear calls for an emergency closure to fishing at their meeting in Sacramento on Feb. 5.
FEATHER RIVER—Steelheading was only fair once again in the very low flows, but a few anglers, mostly fly fishers, were catching some small ones in the Low Flow Section at the upper end of the legal-to-fish stretch below the Hatchery.
FOLSOM LAKE—It’s still very difficult to launch, and the lake is still slowly going down, but small trout were being caught by bankies at Granite Bay, and trollers were catching them near the surface on nightcrawlers behind dodgers and Hoochies. Deep-diving crankbaits, and drop-shotted Robo-Worms over rock piles were catching a few bass.
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—Fishing continued to be slow except for a few sturgeon caught along South River Road, and Merritt’s Landing on ghost shrimp, pile worms, eels, and salmon roe. Some small striped bass were being caught in the Deep Water Channel on jumbo minnows, bloodworms and sardines.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Though low flows are a disaster for maturing salmon eggs, trout fishing was good Greater numbers were being caught below Anderson, fewer but larger around Redding.
AMERICAN RIVER—The river was very low—one angler reported he was able to drive across the Middle Fork at Cache Rock—not recommended by the Georgetown Ranger Station!!
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 43-percent capacity. According to the Rooster Tails Fishing Club, boat launching was possible at Dark Day, but cautioned about mud and silt on the ramp.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is at 22-percent capacity. There was still boat launching on one lane at the ramp at North Shore Resort.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake level was holding at 47 feet from full. The DFW stocked 3000 pounds of catchable rainbows this past week. Eric Liske of Meadow Vista reported that he caught quick limits of 14- to 18-inch rainbows from his boat off the bank above the island on rainbow Power Bait. Shore fishermen were doing well at the beach and dam using Power Bait and worms.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Mark Lund of Auburn fished from the bank up in the “No-Ski” zone and caught limits of 12- to 16-inch rainbows on salmon eggs. Skippers Cove Marina reported that trolling was good in the lanes between the houseboats moored in the marina.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 31-percent capacity. According to the Foresthill Ranger Station, the road to the lake was open and some anglers had launched cartoppers and were trolling with good results. Shore fishing was good near the creek inlet NE of the dam.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 40-percent capacity. No reports available from the Georgetown Ranger Station, but a cartopper should do well on macks trolling near the dam.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 36-percent capacity. With the beautiful weather, the bass bite remained strong on steep points and walls using tubes, Paradise Tackle Company finesse jigs, darthead worms and Senkos and A-rigs. The fish were still spread out from 5 to 30 feet deep, with some bigger fish as deep at 50 to 60 feet. Look for floating debris in small pockets along the bank that warm up the water and attract largemouths.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Launching was still available at Orchard Springs and Long Ravine, according to members of the Rooster Tails Fishing Club.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell reported that trout trolling remained steady at the inlet for 12- to 16-inch rainbows using flasher/worms.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—According to the Rooster Tails Fishing Club, the ramp was usable with 4 courtesy docks in place this past week and fishing was good with the spring-like weather.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 60-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that small cartoppers could launch from the shore near the boat ramp and fishing should be good with the unseasonably warm weather.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at the 130.7-foot elevation at press time—62-percent capacity. Try for steelhead in the channel at Wilbur Rd. The north side rocky banks warm in the afternoons—try jigs and a slow-rolled spinnerbait for bass.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— Cover lots of water mid-lake as well as the Rattlesnake and Redbud arms to locate small concentrations of cooperative fish. Try swimbaits, A-rigs or darter head plastics in 16 to 22 feet for a few bass and catfish. Even the live bait guys had a tough time.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Bass fishing remained steady using dropshot rigs and tubes. Outside points and steep banks have been holding most of the fish from the dam up through the Narrows and Robo Worms in shad patterns and green pumpkin tubes have been good colors.
LAKE SONOMA—Overcast days have been best, since the water is still very clear. Find good action throwing A-rigs, Pointer 128s and LV500s for bass from Yorty Creek up to Dry Creek. Trolling the top 15 feet with various shad patterned offerings produced landlocked steelhead from 16 to 20 inches.
LAKE ALMANOR—Anglers have been catching a mixed bag of brown and rainbow trout on the east side, as most of the west side has thick ice. The USFS ramp is open, but there’s no dock. The Rec. 2 ramp is still iced over inside the log boom.
BAUM LAKE—According to The Fly Shop in Redding overcast days have still been the best producers of BWOs hatches. Fishing has been fair to good using #18 to 20 midges and #18 copper Johns in red under small indicators.
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 for most, although a few had problems in the Pitt 3 section. Warmer than usual weather has helped to keep the hatches going.
SHASTA LAKE—Salmon will be worth a try using wrapped anchovies at 80 feet. Trout will be from the surface down to 20 feet using Wiggle Hoochies in blue/white and purple/white combinations or Cripplures and shad colored lures. With every few trolling, few reports have been coming in. As the bass bite toughens, fish on hard structure as they are foraging for crawdads. Use jigs and tubes in browns and greens. The numbers have been good 15 to 30 feet down but no good sizes.
— Western Outdoor News