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.—According to WON Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, the river was hit big by the storm and blew out over the weekend after 5 inches of rain brought flows to 15,000 cfs. He is now expecting steelhead fishing to begin in earnest, probably early this week.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.—“The first steelhead of the season that I have heard of was caught by a Myrtle Creek gentleman and it weighed in at 11 pounds,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “The river was a dark green and fishing was tough and very poor last weekend for king salmon. There were very few boats out on the river.”
MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, Coos Bay, Ore.–Beginning of last week the Millacoma was running clear green, and if you paid attention you could catch a glimpse of a bright steelhead darting upriver, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “Every hole produced at least a single steelhead,” he said, “and with only one other boat on the river other than ourselves, Copper Hedgecock reported an extremely good day from his trip earlier in the week. The ladies in his boat took advantage of the situation by catching double digit steelhead numbers, and loudly enjoying every minute out on the water.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.—Still blown out with ongoing rains and high flows.
ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Ore.—“Heavy rains blew out the river for a few days, but it should be fishable again by Tuesday, unless we get pounded by another storm,” according to Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grant’s Pass. “Steelhead action was good before the rains on dark-colored plugs. A few downers have been seen, but no definite winter fish have been seen upriver yet. Shore and boat anglers should try yarn balls soaked in Pautzkle’s nectar, nightcrawlers or roe. Plugs fished from boats could be effective with dark colors such as black, red and green. Side-planing plugs from the banks works, too. Use dark colors in dirty water areas.”
RUSSIAN RIVER—Currently the Russian is at flood level of 33.6 feet, and flowing at 49,000 cfs. “If it stops raining now, we may be fishing in a week,” said Scott Heemstra of Kings Sports and Tackle in Guerneville before the Monday rains began. “I did fish a coastal stream before the rain and managed a steelhead,” he said. Currently, all the coastal streams and rivers are out of shape.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Ore.–The coastal rains came in quickly and left the river slightly high and dangerous for drifting in boats for minimal skilled anglers. “I predict that it will be approximately 10 days until the river will be safe to fish again,” said guide Curtis Palmer.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Steelheading continued to be very good below Iron Gate Dam, even with the big storm. The river was fishable down to the I-5 bridge, but high and muddy below the Shasta River. Fish 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 the Trinity River was blown out throughout the river, but has quickly been getting into fishable shape down to the North Fork. Bigger winter run steelhead have been starting to come into the upper river. “It’s going to be a great New Year,” guide Travis Michel said after he took out John Taylor and hooked 7 steelhead.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Even though the water has come up, 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. After recent rains, look for clearer areas of water to fish. Also, boaters need to be aware that a significant amount of debris up to 35-foot tall trees are now floating around the lake, so be careful.
LAKE BERRYESSA—Target main body gently-sloping points in 10 to 15 feet of water with good clarity. 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 muddied up the water and the bass bite got tougher. It was fishing well before storms rolled through, but it’s going to take a few weeks before this lake starts clearing up. The public launch ramp is still in use with the private marina still closed.
LAKE ALMANOR—After a full week of stormy weather it’ll take another week or so for the bite to pick back up, as there has been a lot of runoff dumping dirty water in. This is a great winter fishery though, with lots of big winter trout caught.
BAUM LAKE—This will continue to be a good option, especially since other bodies of water have closed. More rain has added to the consistent fishing, but hasn’t hurt the clarity.
EAGLE LAKE—Fishing here should continue to be good until the close of the season on Dec. 31. The bite continues to be good for the few still fishing. The dock at the south end has been pulled.
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—Rain has 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. Also check the weather, as snow is in the forecast.
SHASTA LAKE—You’ll find bass scattered throughout the lake chasing the scattered bait, but the clarity has been a real problem due to the runoff dumping a lot of silt back into the system from what were dry creek beds. Trout trolling will also pick back up on the surface after the clarity improves. Watch out for a lot of debris in the system. The low water ramp at Sugarloaf is back in, but there’s no ramp.
BERKELEY—Boats did get out after rockfish and lingcod. Two boats from Berkeley Charterboats, El Dorado and New El Dorado III fished the Farallones for solid counts of fish. Happy Hooker worked the islands for limits of rockfish, a lingcod and 5 crabs per person.
BODEGA BAYLAWSON’S LANDING—Tough weather for most of the week made it difficult for boats to get out of the Harbor. New Sea Angler made the trip on Saturday and found excellent crabbing. Jetty fishing made folks a bit nervous due to huge swells, yet there were some rockfish and cabezon caught. Crabbing inside Tomales Bay was the mainstay of action at Lawson’s Landing, although there were a few fish caught from the pier.
EMERYVILLE—The December fleet of intrepid boats from Emeryville kept at it every day the weather and sea conditions would allow, making island trips when feasible. Those boats were New Salmon Queen, New Seeker, New Huck Finn and Sea Wolf. The fishing report was steady and reliable… limits of rockfish, a decent count of lingcod (which varied according to how much “talent” was aboard) and 6 Dungeness crabs per person.
EUREKA—This part of the coast was spared the worse of the storm, according to WON Field Reporter, Lonnie Dollarhide who reported slow but hopeful crabbing inside Humboldt Bay. Some anglers stuck to the bay and honed their skills on the plentiful sharks and rays. Jetties produced black rockfish.
FORT BRAGG—Crabbing was excellent for Telstar early in the week before the storm. After the storm the boat re-set pots, mostly out deeper. Jetty fishers enjoyed their crab dinners after spending time casting their baited snares. A few worked hooks and baits instead and bagged up rockfish and greenling.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Boats stayed in the Harbor for the most part after the storm. People who wanted to catch their own crabs lined the public pier or worked the safer portion of the jetty. At Pacifica, striper fishers did pretty well at local beaches early in the week. Crabbing and fishing from the pier was generally slow.
SAN FRANCISCO—Argo fished the Bay, beginning with leopards and sevengill sharks. Then the boat went into San Pablo Bay and hooked into sturgeon.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 20-percent capacity. They’re dumping a lot of water out of the lake to ramp up flows in the Truckee River for Reno. Fishing in this cold weather was slow at best.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the lake received 12 inches of snow. The lake wasn’t icing over yet–it still had plenty of open water. Snow is in the forecast for most of this week. The Resort will open Dec. 19 for the winter season.
CARSON RIVER (East)—With cold, windy, rainy weather this past week, fishermen opted to stay home, according to Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 54-percent capacity. With cold, windy weather this past week, Ed Dillard reported shore fishing was very slow at Mallard Point. Ice was forming on the north end of the lake at Mosquito and Fairview.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 45-percent capacity. Not much happening here, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports with the cold, rainy, snowy weather in the forecast for most of this week.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported fishing was best from shore at the dam using nightcrawlers for 2 or 3 nice rainbows.
GOLD LAKES BASIN—Snow this past week closed Gold Lake Road, so this will be the last report until spring.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle reported rain, snow, and wind kept fishermen at home this past week and more rain and snow is in the forecast for this week.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Strong, cold winds chased everyone off this lake this past week and more foul weather is coming this week.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The lake is at 68-percent capacity. This lake could see some significant snow this week that could close the roads—call the Sierraville Ranger Station at 530-994-3401 for road conditions.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported that boaters and shore anglers were out on Sunday after the storm broke. Shore anglers were fishing at the first and second dam with nightcrawlers and floating dough baits.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported catching limits of 3- to 7-pound macks on both morning and afternoon trips and releasing lots of 1 to 3 pounders. Self was trolling 50 to 400 feet deep along North Shore moving shallow and deep to keep on bigger fish. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported his boats were doing well mooching live bait at 200 to 250 feet deep along South Shore for limits of 2 to 5 pounders.
LOON LAKE—The lake is at 41-percent capacity. It was cold, windy, and snowy at this elevation and not a good choice for fishing now, so this will be the last report until spring
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 29-percent capacity. Not much happening here according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. The cold weather put a halt to the smallmouth bass bite.
PYRAMID LAKE—Crosby’s Lodge reported that 12 double-digit cutthroats were recorded this past week. A 20 pounder topped the board followed by an 18 1/3 pounder. All but one was caught from the shore from Monument in the north to Dago Bay in the south.
RED LAKE— More snow here this past week and more in the forecast. The lake should be freezing soon if this cold weather persists.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Snow is in the forecast for most of this week, so it would be best to stay out of the region until the weather clears.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 25-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.
TRUCKEE RIVER—The flows were up again due to increased releases from Boca, but the river was still too low and too cold for good fishing. Leave this river alone until spring!
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 64-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle reported the road to the ramp at the dam was in very rough shape and a slow, difficult tow for boaters.
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, but it has been very cold, so fish late mornings after the water has a chance to warm up a little on sunny days.
AMERICAN RIVER—It looks like a sustained run of steelhead has entered the river. Most are jetting upstream into the closed section, but the closed section will reopen on Jan. 1. The fish have been ranging from 2 pounds to about 7 pounds. Larger winterrun fish are starting to enter the river, too. Most fish are being caught on dead-drifted egg patterns and small caddis nymphs under indicators. Non-fly fishermen are drifting nightcrawlers, eggs, and swung Little Cleos and Kastmasters.
FEATHER RIVER—The river is “blown out,” muddy and brown.
FOLSOM LAKE—Fishing has been good for spots around 2 pounds off points around the Peninsula. Drop-shot Robo Worms and slowly drag jigs. Catfish have been eating hellgrammites which have been washed into the lake at creek inlets around the lake. New York Creek has been one of the better spots. Some holdover trout are taking small Rapalas and Speedy Shiners at about 25 feet deep.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The salmon season ends Dec. 16, and is going out with a whimper. Small schools of late run salmon continued to swim up the river, but there weren’t any large sustained runs, and to make the situation worse, the river has been high and muddy. Another storm is expected, but it shouldn’t raise the river as much. Sturgeon fishing has been picking up and has been good from Cache Slough to Knight’s Landing. As the river drops and clears, steelhead fishing should again become outstanding.
SACRAMENTO, Hamilton City—Tributaries flowing into the river from Cow Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Battle Creek are still flowing mud. Steelhead fishing had been outstanding, but it’s slowed too.
YUBA RIVER—The Yuba River is high and muddy.
AMERICAN RIVER—With the big storm this past week, the Georgetown Ranger Station reported the flows were up in all forks and the water color was getting muddy—not the best conditions for fishing!
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 44-percent capacity—up 7 feet this past week!! Emerald Cove Marina reported fishing pressure was down with the heavy rains and wind this past week, and more rain is forecast for this week.
CAMP FAR WEST—The lake level came up enough to put the concrete launch ramp back in the water. Ron Franks of Folsom fished before the storm and caught 20 bass, mostly largemouths, in the Bear River arm using oxblood and bold bluegill worms at 5 to 15 feet deep in 54- to 56-degree water. Since the rain, the lake has taken on some color.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 40 feet from full—up 12 feet with all the rain! The main boat ramp reopened with the rise in the lake level. Trout fishing has slowed to 1 or 2 rainbows per angler. The dam was still the best spot for shore anglers.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 97-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported fishing pressure was way down with the heavy rains and strong winds this past week.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR—There was some snow at this elevation. With the lake so low, fishermen should write this lake off for the season.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 32-percent capacity—up over 17 feet just this past week with the big rains! The low water ramp at Bidwell Marina reopened which is good news for boaters with 2-wheel drive vehicles. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the lake was loaded with big trees and logs making for hazardous boating. The heavy runoff muddied up all the upper river arms. Fishing was still good in the incoming water areas using worms, jigs, and tubes.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported fishing was slow with muddy water conditions due to the heavy runoff from the big rains this past week.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 53-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported the boat ramp was now able to handle any size boat. Fishing was slow with the poor weather this past week.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Strong winds and heavy rains this past week made this a poor choice for fishermen.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 135.4-foot elevation at press time—92-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported steelhead fishing was still good at the Wilbur Road access using nightcrawlers. The lake south of the Hwy 162 Bridge was covered with duck hunters since the ducks finally moved south, so fishermen can expect conflict—it would be best to fish north of the bridge.