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.—Bright, fresh king salmon are still flowing into the river with the ongoing rains, but it’s generally a short and big run, so don’t delay your trip if you are after Chinook. Kings were still being caught by guide and WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing before Thanksgiving, when it blew out again. He will be fishing kings and steelhead now.
ELK RIVER, Port Oford, Ore.–There were moments of encouragement for fishing fall kings Thanksgiving week on the Elk River, as the river rose from the recent storm. WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets fished it last week and found it full of leaves. “Even though the river rose to well over five feet, and then started to recede back down again, and it was a perfect emerald green, the bite dropped off, probably due to the water temperature drop to only 50 degrees,” Palmer told WON.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.—Totally blown and unfishable.Look for winter steelhead when it drops and clears.
ROGUE RIVER, GRANT’S PASS, Ore.—The river is a muddy mess right now, with not much action for a few days, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. The river flow is starting to slow, but not many anglers are out. The high flows could push some winter steelhead up from the coast. Anglers should try drifting plugs, side drift or back troll with red or black plugs. Stay close to the bank. For Cohos, try spinners in slack waters. Bank anglers should fish with side planers with black or red plugs.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Rains finally hit the area well, and the river rose, bringing in fresh salmon and steelhead. The first legal hatchery steelhead of the year was brought in on Sunday to Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville, an 8 pounder caught on bait. Don’t confuse coho or kings with a steelie, they’re protected, and only hatchery-raised steelies may be kept. Read up on the regs.
SMITH RIVER—A driftboater drowned here while trying to anchor up in heavy flows that swamped his boat, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Guide and WON Field reporter Phil Desautel said that salmon limits were taken every day he fished last week, but it wasn’t easy fishing. Steelhead are beginning to show, and more storms are in the forecast.
UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Ore.–With the recent heavy storms of Thanksgiving week, the near record low river
conditions have done a complete 180 turnaround, going from low and clear green to high, swift and milky brown. At this time there have been no reports of winter steelhead being caught, but the high water conditions make it ideal for travel for fish, and usually steelhead are being caught here by mid-December, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.–With the continous rains of last week the river rose at a steady rate. Eventually, by the end of the week, the river washigh, dark and unfishable. “As the first light dusting of snow continuesto melt off the mountaintops during the day, it will keep the river murky, so I wouldn’t
be fishing the North Umpqua River before next weekend,” said guide Curtis Palmer.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Steelheading continued to be outstanding, with some steelhead going to 28 inches long and anglers catching 15 to 20 fish a day. They are taking crawdad patterned plugs, drifted nightcrawlers, and flies either on the swing or dead-drifted under indicators.
TRINITY RIVER—Steelhead fishing on theTrinity River has been picking up, except for last weekend’s rains, but the river is fishable down to the North Fork and well beyond—all the way to the South Fork. Adult Chinooks may be kept again—except they are way past their prime and spawning or will be soon. Fly fishers are casting red copper John’s, Psycho prince nymphs, and stone flies dead-drifted under indicators, but they also are swing fishing Silver Hiltons and Burlaps. Spin fishers are back-trolling Hot Shots and Brad’s Wigglers and drifting roe.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE— While still tough fishing here, all that is needed are a few cold nights to help drop water temperatures and kick the bass bite back into gear. Productive methods included rattlebaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits and plastics. Fish were caught as shallow as three feet and as deep as 20 feet. There are still fish hanging around the remaining areas of weeds on the upper end as well as the deeper ends of the lake. The winter bite for both bass and catfish has not kicked in yet.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Target deeper cuts off the main body for bass from 80 to 90 feet. A few nice smallies from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds were caught around Big Island using Roboworms and Yamamoto Flappin’ Hogs. Tourney anglers did a little better. Bass are moving into deeper waters now.
LAKE SONOMA—A little rain helped the waters to start rising some and begin to stain up and the bass bite picked up. Time to start beating the banks with LuckyCraft BDS shallow crankbaits and spinnerbaits for largemouth to 5 pounds.
LAKE ALMANOR— If you can get over to the east shore, Lake Cove has been providing great trolling for mostly rainbows, all over 2 pounds and up to 5 pounds.
BAUM LAKE— This will continue to be a good option, especially since other bodies of water have closed.Try to fish early and late when the sun is not high. More rain will also bring more hatches and consistent fishing. Go prepared for hatches of BWO’s, midges and baetis.
EAGLE LAKE—Fishing here should continue to be excellent with 20 to 30 hits a day possible until the close of the season on Dec. 31.
FALL RIVER—This is one of the rivers that closed on Nov. 15.
UPPER HAT CREEK—Closed for the season.
McCLOUD RIVER— Closed for the season.
PIT RIVER— This is another good option as fishing continues to be consistent. But rains can muddy up numbers 4 and 5, so try No. 3 first. Fishing has been good, but as usual, you’ll need to move around.
SHASTA LAKE—Bass are scattered throughout the lake chasing bait, which is also scattered. Bass fishing has been excellent on reaction baits. Trout are also on top, so toplining has also been good. Waters are warmer than usual so expect a good bite until the temperatures drop to 55 degrees and then just fish a little deeper.
BERKELEY—Happy Hooker ran for the Farallon Islands all week long and came back with the fish to prove it. Lingcod to 20 pounds were caught, plus limits of rockfish. California Dawn posted daily limits of both crabs and rockfish, plus some lingcod. The islands were also the favored destination for New El Dorado III, El Dorado and other boats from Berkeley Charterboats. Limits of rockfish and crabs, plus some lingcod were standard fare on these fun trips.
BODEGA BAY—Lingcod and rockfish numbers were steady on limits. New Sea Angler fished Fort Ross on most trips and Salt Point on a private charter. Big female lingcod moved inshore to spawn. Some of the private boaters are letting the big girls go. Lingcod and rockfish came into Lawson’s Landing from Tomales Point and from Point Reyes. Crabbing inside Tomales Bay was generally better than on the outside. Red tail perch bit for beach anglers willing to wade and cast.
EMERYVILLE—New Salmon Queen, New Seeker, New Huck Finn and Sea Wolf did much of the heavy lifting through the week. Limits of rockfish were dependable and a few lingcod joined them in the sacks. Dungeness crabs made for plenty of seafood for passengers to take home.
EUREKA/TRINIDAD/SHELTER COVE—Crabbing out of Eureka and Shelter Cove was excellent, with only about 4 pots needed to boat limits of crabs for passengers. Trinidad was reported to be somewhat slow. In all ports, charter captains pulled and stacked their pots, now that commercial crabbing season is here.
FORT BRAGG—Limits of crabs were common for Telstar and Trek II. On some days the count was 9 apiece, but most days saw full limits. Jetty fishers cast snares for crabs or soaked baits for red tail perch. Some rockfish were caught, but the bite had slowed a bit.
PACIFICA/HALF MOON BAY—A surprising striped bass bite lit things up on Pacifica Pier and on local beaches where bass 18 to 27 inches were caught. Crabbing was very good off Pacifica and also out of Half Moon Bay. Huli Cat found rockfish, lingcod and crabs. Queen of Hearts ran a successful trip before heading to the boat yard for annual maintenance.
SAN FRANCISCO—Flash worked San Pablo Bay, putting aboard good numbers of striped bass on one trip. On another charter, a couple from Dallas, Texas caught a number of smaller 7-gill sharks before laying into two 5-foot 7-gills. Argo got out for coastal rockfish and crabs, with easy limits of both on Wednesday. Huge swells rolled in on Friday, which made the crabs and fish hunker down. Anglers had to work for their fish.
AMERICAN RIVER—There have been few reports of steelhead being caught on the American River as yet. A few anglers have been putting in their time and catching a few smaller fish. Up in Nimbus Basin, salmon seem to be getting through the weir, crossing the river at Nimbus Hatchery and anglers “flossing” are getting some. The fish are quite dark, though.
FEATHER RIVER—Fishing for steelhead in the Low Flow Section was slowed a bit last week, and good anglers were around 4 fish an outing. However, some very large steelhead to fish 28 to 32 inches were being caught. Fish nymphs and egg flies under an indicator, or swing egg patterns and egg-sucking leeches.
FOLSOM LAKE—The lake has continued to drop lower and lower by the day. The speed limit is 5 mph. Bass fishing has been good, but fish are deep. Fish 20 to 30 feet deep over old rock tailings and river channels off the end of the Peninsula. Jigs, drop-shotting and Carolina-rigs have been getting some fish to about 2 pounds. The lake hasn’t turned over yet. Some holdover trout are taking small Rapalas and Speedy Shiners at about 45 to 60 feet deep.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—Salmon fishing continued to be up and down as small schools of salmon come swimming through. Lots of fishermen have given up, but if one puts in the hours and is patient, he/she might be rewarded with some very bright and beautiful king salmon. Verona, Rio Ramaza, and Knight’s Landing were a few of the better spots. Brad’s Killer Fish, Flying “C” spinners in chartreuse were good and jigs have been catching a few down by Freeport. Some nice striped bass were being caught at Prospect, Shag Slough, and in the Deep Water Channel.
SACRAMENTO, Hamilton City—The river was still somewhat off-color and heavy rains dumped a bunch of mud into the river at Cow Creek and Deer Creek. But, when the river settles down, salmon fishing was pretty good. And, steelhead fishing had been outstanding. The steelhead have been taking roe, and weigh from 4 to 6 pounds and up to 9 pounds.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—Tailwater flows in the Redding area have been producing some nice trout to about 18 inches. Lots of salmon are spawning, so the most effective lures have been egg patterns or Glo-Bugs.
YUBA RIVER—The Yuba River is producing some nice 16- to 17-inch rainbow trout. They’re taking egg and caddis patterns below indicators below DeGuerre dam down to Sycamore Ranch.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 25.7-percent capacity. Look for browns returning from the spawn in the Little Truckee River. Some big macks were seen cruising the inlet, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports in Truckee.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. More snow this past weekend with chain restrictions on Hwy 88 from Silver Lake to Pickett Meadows. Not much happening here with Caples Lake Resort closed until Christmas.
CARSON RIVER (East)—No fishing pressure here with cold, wet weather this past weekend, according to Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Both Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing and Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported shore fishing was hit-or-miss at Mallard Point and Fairview for 2 to 4 rainbows ranging from 12 to 18 1/2 inches. Artificial scented eggs and floating dough baits were working best. Dillard said the dock had been pulled out of the water at the Honker Cove boat ramp.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 37-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported things were slow here. Some 16- to 18-inch macks were being caught by shore anglers casting Rapalas and spoons.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 34-percent capacity. Shore fishermen found spotty action at the dam and Turkey Point with the cold, windy weather this past weekend.
GOLD LAKES BASIN—Gold Lake was still producing some nice browns and the chance for a big mack casting a Yo-Zuri Pin Minnow or Kastmaster from shore near the boat ramp on windy evenings. One angler reported seeing some 5- to 10-pound macks following lures into the shallows, but having little luck enticing them to strike, according to Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 65-percent capacity. According to Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service, the trout bite should be very good. Cold, wet weather kept fishermen home near the fire and the turkey leftovers this past weekend.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported a couple hit the lake this past Friday but were blown out by strong winds. The weather saw wind, rain, and snow this past week—not exactly the most comfortable fishing conditions.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. Access here could be a problem with snow over 5000 feet in the forecast for this week. If you can get there, small boats were still able to launch at the Pass Creek ramp. Trolling and shore fishing was decent at the dam.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported a few rainbows were caught from shore at the first dam on worms and floating dough bait.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported doing well up until the weather turned sour on Thanksgiving. Self was catching limits of 3- to 9-pound macks trolling 160 to 350 feet deep from Dollar Point to Crystal Bay. Shore anglers were doing well for nice rainbows using inflated nightcrawlers at Dollar Point, Crystal Bay, Tahoe Vista, and on the NE side of the lake on rocky banks. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported doing very well for macks averaging 5 to 6 pounds, with big fish at 9 and 10 pounds, this past week mooching live bait at Sugar Pine at 140 to 180 feet deep.
LOON LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. The gate to the boat ramp was closed. This elevation may get some snow this week.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 27-percent capacity. Not much happening here, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. Smallmouth bass action was okay, but the drop in water temp should put a halt to that bite with the possibility of snow this week.
PYRAMID LAKE—Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported cold, windy weather cut into the fishing pressure this past week, but they still weighed 11 fish over 10 pounds topped by a 20-pound, 14.4-ounce cutthroat caught by Edward Kadoguchi of Sparks while casting a FlatFish from the shore at Block House. Ton Lovett of Spark landed a 19 1/2 pounder at Pelican while flyfishing from shore. The strong winds kept boaters off the lake.
RED LAKE—Hwy 88 was under chain restrictions from Silver Lake to Pickett Meadows this past weekend, and more snow was in the forecast.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 34.5-percent capacity. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service said boats could not launch at this low lake level. Snow fell here this past week and chain restrictions on Hwy 88 started here and were in effect to Pickett Meadows.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 24-percent capacity. Access to the lake could be a problem this week with snow in the forecast. Call ahead to Mountain Hardware and Sports for road conditions at 530-587-4844. There should be some macks prowling around the dam if you can get a small boat in the water off the shore east of the boat ramp.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Flows were up to 200 cfs below the Boca Outlet but with the colder water temps, fishing was slow! It would be best to leave this river alone this winter, according to Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 60-percent capacity. The gate at Sunset was closed and the road in from Pea Vine Ridge Road was in very poor condition. Cold, wet weather this past week and in the forecast for most of this week make this a poor choice for any kind of visit.
WEST WALKER RIVER— Cold, windy weather this past week cut fishing pressure to zilch!!
AMERICAN RIVER—Water flows were fluctuating in the South Fork below Chili Bar dam due to releases—enough for kayaking at times. Flows were low in the Middle Fork and North Fork with no fishing activity observed by staff from the Georgetown Ranger Station.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 40-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported little or no boat activity on the lake due to the inclement weather most of the week. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported the smaller bass were hitting worms and Senkos on the points, but the bigger spots were suspended and hard to catch. Boat can still launch at Dark Day.
CAMP FAR WEST—The wind and rain kept boaters off the lake this past week, according to the North Shore Resort. The lake has come up a couple of feet, but launching is still 4-wheel drive only off the muddy shore near the boat ramp.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 57 feet from full. Collins Lake Resort stocked the lake and filled their rearing pens this past week. Trout action was good, with most anglers catching 2 or 3 rainbows while a few scored limits. The two biggest fish of the week were a couple of 5 1/2-pound rainbows—both caught by trollers. Shore fishing was best near the marina and at the dam using nightcrawlers and floating dough baits.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 91-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported trollers were working the marina and lower lake for a few rainbows.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 29-percent capacity. Snow was in the forecast for this elevation. With the lake so low, there has been little fishing pressure according to the Foresthill Ranger Station.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 25-percent capacity. Closed for the season.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 26-percent capacity. The recent rains brought the lake level up a couple feet. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the bass bite was still excellent with good numbers of fish hitting pretty much anything you cared to throw in 1 to 25 feet of water. Paradise Tackle Company finesse jigs, drop-shot worms, tubes, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwater lures were all good producers on the main body and Slot, Middle Fork, North Fork, and the West Branch. Launching was still 4-wheel drive only at the Spillway ramp.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Cold, wet weather kept most folks off the lake this past weekend, according to Ryan Drake at Orchard Springs Resort.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Cold, wet weather kept fishing pressure to a minimum this past week, according to Jim Caldwell at NID.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The boat ramp was still open, but there was little traffic here according to the Foresthill Ranger Station.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—Closed until further notice, according to the Georgetown Ranger Station.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 135.3-foot elevation at press time—91-percent capacity. The steelhead bite on the north end of the lake was very good for fish to 24 inches dragging a nightcrawler along the bottom using a Carolina rig with a corky to float the bait. Bass fishermen could crank the riprap north of the Bridge without worrying about getting a warning shot from a disgruntled duck hunter. Pitching a spinnerbait on the tules banks and willow trees might draw a strike also.