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 last of the kings are moving into the river, and the first of the steelhead are showing up here. The river rose to 8,000 cfs and blew out again Saturday. WON Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said they were still getting chrome kings last week on lures and roe, but the first of the steelhead were also caught, and that’s just beginning.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.– The Elk River dropped down to about 4 feet and was clear with a milky green tone to the water at the end of the week, and fishing slowed dramatically, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer who got the report from the ODFW fish checker at Iron Head take out. “When speaking with Mike Springer’s Guide Service at the beginning of the week, he said that he was having to work hard just to get one or two king salmon a day. Boat traffic has slowed dramatically over the last month. It appears that this year most of the fish came in the last of October instead of the middle of November when they are usually known to enter the river in large numbers.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.—Nobody is fishing the river down here, even bankies, due to the high water flows. Steelhead will be the focus when it becomes fishable.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass—“I was out Saturday and our boat hooked 7 and landed 4 steelhead up to10 pounds,” said Troy Whitaker, guide at U-Save Tacke in Grant’s Pass. “These were summer steelhead. One was a hatchery fish, taken on a nightcrawler and puffball combo, as were the 3 other fish landed. Three others were hooked on plugs. We fished from Schroeder Park down to Fifty Rock. Everyone we saw and talked with said they, too, were catching fish. The river water level has been at 2 1/2 feet all week, and holding steady. There seem to be lots of fish to be caught in this area near Grants Pass, though some are in dark spawning colors.”
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.– No reports of Chinook or steelhead being caught on the Sixes River, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “With the river being so low and clear it has not been visited by any anglers that I have heard of.”
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.—“Winter steelhead season is upon us in the Northwest,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “The first couple chromers have been caught just above the town of Elkton this past week despite the higher and slightly brownish colored waters of the Umpqua River. Bill Daily found two steelhead while anchored up running his favorite plug in a purple/black color. The Umpqua River fishes best under 6 feet in height. With rain showers this week in the forecast, I am expecting the river to rise and this will most likely raise the river flow above what is considered to be fishable for probably another 7 to 10 days. January is usually a very good month for fishing in the Elkton area of the river.”
SMITH RIVER—Fishing on the Smith River has been tough, according to guide Phil DeSautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. “We have had great conditions. When the river came up 5 feet and when it started dropping there were very few fish. I think salmon season is close to being over. We are going to start steelhead fishing this week.” He fishes the Smith and the Chetco.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Steelheading continued to be very good, with some steelhead going to 26 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. Even with the heavy rains, the river is still in great shape and the river is fishable below Orleans.
TRINITY RIVER—Steelhead fishing on theTrinity River has been very good, with anglers catching 2 to 4 fish a day. The river has been yo-yoing and picking up some mud below the North Fork, but is expected to be in good shape in a few days. Fishing is expected to be good down to Willow Creek, assuming no more rain this week but it looks like that won’t be the case, as a big storm is expected. Adult chinnooks may be kept again—except they are way past their prime and spawning. 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—Current lake conditions dictate staying in the main lake where the water clarity is best. The bite has still been slow but most fish are coming in water from 5 to 8 feet and are scattered. There has been no change in status for launching around the lake. Launch areas include the Oaks, Lakeport, Konocti Vista and Braito’s. There also has been no update regarding when the Redbud launch will be reopened.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Target main body, gentle sloping points in 10 to 15 feet of water with deep water access in the early morning or when the wind blows. Bites will come in bunches, as these fish are schooling while feeding on bait. Look for this bite to continue through December.
LAKE SONOMA—Rain helped stain up the water and the bass bite picked up. Beat the banks with LuckyCraft BDS shallow crankbaits and spinnerbaits for largemouth bass to 5 pounds.
LAKE ALMANOR— In between storms, check out Lake Cove since it has been providing some great trolling slow action on nightcrawler rigs. Rec. 2 has been a good spot for suspending roe and throwing jigs.
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 has added to the consistent fishing.
EAGLE LAKE—Fishing here should continue to be good until the close of the season on Dec. 31. But the shallow bite close in has a smaller window now. The dock at the south end has been pulled, so only smaller boats can get in and out.
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— Rains can muddy up No. 4 and 5 so try No. 3 first. Fishing has been good, but as usual you’ll need to move around to find the cleaner water.
SHASTA LAKE—You’ll find bass scattered throughout the lake chasing the scattered bait. Bass fishing has been good on reaction baits in the top 15 feet. 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. Due to rain, the water is a little more off colored.
AMERICAN RIVER—Some reports of small steelhead are being caught on the American River. A few anglers have been putting in their time and catching a few smaller fish, but most of the fish are flying upstream through the closed section into the salmon closure area. Up in Nimbus Basin, salmon seem to be getting through the weir crossing 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 has slowed quite a bit, and decent anglers were hooking around 4 fish an outing. However, the size has declined to mostly wild fish around 18 inches long. Fish nymphs and egg flies under an indicator.
FOLSOM LAKE—The lake has continued to drop lower and lower. Fishing has been good for spots around 2 pounds off points around the Peninsula. Drop-shot Robo Worms and slowly drag jigs. Some holdover trout are taking small Rapalas and Speedy Shiners at about 45 to 60 feet deep.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—A trickle of salmon fishing has continued through Sacramento, but another flush of rain is expected and the river is likely to go higher again and muddy up. The river closes to salmon fishing on Dec. 16, and the emphasis has switched to sturgeon with quite a few being caught at Knight’s Landing and Cache Slough. Striper fishing has been good, too, a few miles above Rio Vista. Some nice striped bass were being caught at Prospect, Shag Slough and in the Deep Water Channel.
SACRAMENTO, Hamilton City—The river was still muddy and the salmon season has just about ended from muddy flows from Cow Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Battle Creek. Steelhead fishing had been outstanding, but it’s slowed too.
YUBA RIVER—The Yuba River went high after the rains, but has dropped back to 700 cfs again over the weekend. It was producing some nice 16- to 17-inch rainbow trout below the Highway 20 Bridge. However, more rain is expected.
BERKELEY—Lingcod to 23 pounds joined limits of rockfish and crab aboard Happy Hooker along the Marin Coast. California Dawn also fished the Marin Coast for steady limits. Happy Hooker’s high lingcod count was 57 on Saturday. Once the weather settled down over the weekend, Berkeley Charterboats ran El Dorado and New El Dorado III to the Farallones for stellar fishing.
BODEGA BAYLAWSON’S LANDING—Mark Smith of Antioch caught 11 lingcod to 15 pounds aboard New Sea Angler, fishing off of Fort Ross where the fishing was wide open and lingcod were on the chew. On the return runs, the boat pulled crab pots for dependable limits of Dungeness. Lawson’s Landing boats scored mixed numbers of crabs. Surf perch fishers were happy with their results near Lawson’s Landing.
EMERYVILLE—Solid, dependable fishing for rockfish, plus some lingcod and plenty of Dungeness crabs was the report for the week. Boats that made the run outside the Gate were New Salmon Queen, Sea Wolf, New Seeker, and the New Huck Finn.
EUREKA—Pretty quiet week, however good opportunities did present themselves. Boaters were able to crab successfully in shallow water after crossing the bar on the north side or south side. Shore crabbers tossed crab rings. Jetty anglers found a spot about halfway down the South Jetty where black rockfish bit hungrily.
FORT BRAGG—Crabs fishing was steady and dependable. Sea Hawk, Telstar and 6-pack boat Samurai all pulled pots for relatively easy limits. Shore fishers along the Mendocino Coast and Glass Beach scored rockfish, cabezon and greenlings.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Striped bass were caught daily in good numbers through the week around Pacifica. Half Moon Bay boats Huli Cat and Riptide worked through the week. Huli Cat ran combo (fishing and crabs) trips, Riptide ran straight fishing trips. Shore fishers got fish and crabs and kayakers worked crab traps with success.
SAN FRANCISCO—South San Francisco Bay saw halibut bite at Oyster Point and stripers bite at the Tubes and Coyote Point. Shore fishers got a handful of perch. Argo fished San Pablo Bay and found “shark week” level of action so fast-paced that passengers had trouble getting through the sharks to catch the stripers.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 23.7-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. A big storm later this week may change access, so check with Mountain Hardware at 530-587-4844.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. The area received several inches of snow this past week, but access should still be good at the dam and Spillway. A big storm later this week may dump a lot of snow at this elevation, check ahead for road conditions.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported seeing two vehicles parked at Hangman’s Bridge this past week on days when there was a break in the weather. Flows were up in the river and it was in beautiful shape, so fishing should be decent.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 53-percent capacity. Cold, windy weather kept most people at home this past week. Shore fishing was pretty much the only option for fishermen this past week according to Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing, but even that was hit-or-miss. The most consistent spots were Mallard Point and Fairview and successful anglers were using inflated nightcrawlers, artificial scented eggs, and floating dough baits for a couple 18- to 20-inch rainbows.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 45-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 35-percent capacity. Wet, cold weather this past week kept most anglers off the lake, but those that braved the weather reported doing okay at the dam using nightcrawlers, according to Wiggins Trading Post.
GOLD LAKES BASIN—Gold Lake Road was still open with the area only getting a dusting of snow this past week, but lots of rain. Mark Tieslau said Gold Lake was still producing some nice trout from shore in the cove near the boat ramp casting Rapalas, Pin Minnows, and Kastmaster spoons in the evening on windy days.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Wind and rain put a damper on fishing pressure here. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service warned folks considering heading up to the Crystal Basin to very aware of the logging activity in the area salvaging timber from the King Fire. Logging trucks own the road in case you’ve never been around logging trucks!
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported shore anglers were catching a few nice rainbows on the east side of the dam and off the dam using nightcrawlers.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The lake is at 66-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. Call the Sierraville Ranger Station for the latest roads conditions at 530-994-3401, but don’t bother calling them on the weekend when you’re in the woods, because they aren’t!
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported the lake saw a lot of rain this past week, but on the breaks between storms shore anglers were picking up a few planter rainbows at the first dam. A troller reported catching a 3-pound mack, but no details were given.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported he was still catching limits of macks running 4 to 9 pounds, and releasing lots of 1 to 4 pounders while trolling 15 to 350 feet deep. The macks finished spawning and were eating everything in sight! After catching limits of macks in deeper water, Self was moving into shallow water to troll for rainbows and was picking up a mack or two in the shallows, too. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported their boats were still mooching live minnows in 200 to 250 feet of water at South Shore for limits of 1- to 5-pound macks.
LOON LAKE—The lake is at 40-percent capacity. Poor weather made this high elevation lake a poor choice for a trip, try Ice House! The gate to the boat ramp was closed anyway.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 29-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 heavy snow this week. Call Mountain Hardware for current road conditions at 530-587-4844.
PYRAMID LAKE—Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported the wind and rain cut into the number of fishermen heading out this past week. Boaters found it tough to make it out, but the shore anglers welcomed the wind crashing into the west side of the lake. Taylor weighed ten double digit cutthroats this past week topped by an 18 pounder caught by a flyfishermen at the Nets. A 16 pounder hit a black and green spoon cast from the shore at the Cattle Guard.
RED LAKE—Some snow at this elevation but little in the way of fishing pressure. Heavy snow is in the forecast for late this week.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. There was some snow at this elevation, but little fishing pressure this past week. Heavy snow in the forecast for late this week, so check road conditions before venturing forth!
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 above 200 cfs below the Boca Outlet after the rains this past week, 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 63-percent capacity. The gate at Sunset was closed and the road to the ramp at the dam from Pea Vine Ridge Road was in very poor condition. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle said some friends of his drove to the lake over the rough road and found launching to be very difficult at the current water level. Cold, wet weather in the forecast for most of this week makes this a poor choice for any kind of visit. With heavy logging activity in the Crystal Basin, watch out for logging trucks if you insist in coming up here!!
WEST WALKER RIVER—The flows were still low since little rain made it this far south on the east side of the Sierras. There were still plenty of trout stacked up in the deeper holes in the canyon south of Walker waiting for a fly or spinner with barbless hooks to be cast their way.
AMERICAN RIVER—The recent series of rains bumped the flows up. With the poor weather, it would have been a miracle to find anyone fishing with the catch-and-release artificial barbless hook lures only regulations in effect.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 40-percent capacity. The lake came up a few feet with the rain, but Dark Day was still the only launch ramp open. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported that smaller spotted bass to 4 pounds were being caught on the points and humps at 20 to 40 feet deep using swimbaits, Senkos, and jigs.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake is at 5.6-percent capacity. The lake was up a few feet and a bit muddy. North Shore Resort reported that Ron Franks of Folsom caught 33 bass on his trip early in the week. Franks said he was using oxblood and bold bluegill worms at 5 to 15 feet deep on the main body and in the Bear River arm.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 52 feet from full—up 5 feet this past week!! The main boat ramp was back in operation with the rise in the water level. Trout fishing was good when there was a break in the rain this past week. Trollers and shore anglers all did well for rainbows to 5 1/2 pounds. Trollers were running Rapalas and flasher or dodger/worm combos in the top 10 feet with great success. Shore anglers did best at the dam using nightcrawlers and floating dough baits. A few catfish to 7 1/2 pounds were still hitting bait.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported fishing pressure was very low with the rainy weather this past week, and this week doesn’t look any better.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the roads to the lake were still open with only a dusting of snow at this elevation. The campgrounds were still open for dry camping—haul your own water in, and your trash out!! The lake was at very low and shore fishing was the only option available to anglers.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR—The lake is closed for the season according to the Georgetown Ranger Station. This will be the last report until next spring.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 28-percent capacity—up 15 feet this past week with all the rain!!! The heavy runoff muddied up the lake in the upper river arms, but the main body was still clear. Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was excellent with 50 to 75 fish days common. Fishing the incoming water in the North Fork and West Branch was producing on tubes, dart-head and drop-shot worms, Keitech swimbaits, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits—pretty much anything you cared to throw. Most of the fish were running 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds—a Saturday tournament was topped by 10 3/4 pounds.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 88-percent capacity. The main launch ramp at Orchard Springs was in full operation with the problematic sandbar now submerged. Fishing was slow with all the rainy weather.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 51.5-percent capacity. The lake came up with the rains enough to allow the launching of any size boat on the marina ramp. Fishing was very slow with the poor weather this past week. One boater headed out to troll for browns and got skunked, according to Jim Caldwell at NID.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the lake level was good, but with the poor weather, no one was visiting the facilities.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR—The lake is at 48-percent capacity, but closed until further notice according to the Georgetown Ranger Station.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 135.1-foot elevation at press time—90-percent capacity. The best here was the steelhead fishing on the north end of the lake at Wilbur Rd. Shore anglers were doing well dragging a nightcrawlers across the bottom on a Carolina rig. Boaters were picking up the steelies drifting nightcrawlers on the bottom in the channel below the bridge. On sunny days, you might try for bass on the riprap banks after the water has had a chance to warm a degree or two. Stay north of bridge to avoid conflict with the duck hunters—their shotguns trump a crankbait.