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.
APPLEGATE & ILLINOIS RIVERS, Ore.—Pretty good steelhead fishing was being found on the Applegate and Illinois rivers as they cleared up sooner than the Rogue, reported Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. Anglers on those two rivers were scoring with Little Cleos, or bobbers and jigs. No bait is allowed on the Illinois, but anglers can use roe on the Applegate.
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Ore.—Right on schedule with the New Year, the steelhead fishing broke wide open this past week, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, who said that anglers from shore and boat did well on them. Two fish close to 20 pounds were also caught. The river was down to 1460 cfs on Sunday. The best action has been in the lower river so far. And this is only the beginning!
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.– A couple anglers that I speak with who fish the South Fork on a fairly regular basis said that they have been catching fresh steelhead on a consistent basis this past week, although no news of double-digit fish, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. The average was 3 or 4 fish a boat, and both contacts said the “secret” is to put in your time on the water. The fishing should improve to double-digit numbers of fish per day soon, since the south Fork of the Coquille River has one of the best hatchery winter steelhead runs in Southern Oregon thanks to the local STEP Program.
MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork; Coos Bay, Ore.– This small beautiful river has been generous to anglers over the last week. “Shore anglers, along with the occasional driftboater, have been having multiple fish days,” said Curtis Palmer of Rivet Secrets. “A local guide shared a tactic with me: drifting a bobber with roe, which is a common tactic in coastal rivers. I openly admit it is one of my favorite choices for a small river like the West Fork, Millacoma. The second method was drifting a yarn ball with a little bit of added roe for the purpose of scent and flavor. With the river dropping and clearing, you can cast the combination with little weight and it will sink to the bottom easily. Finally, he mentioned a bobber and a jig. An 1/8th-ounce Zonker or Intruder pattern is good. Easy bank access starts at the Girl Scout camp on the West Fork, and this is also the release site for hatchery steelhead on the river. There is fairly easy walking downstream on a trail for quite a ways, making it easy to locate the favored fishing spots.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.– The Rogue River near Gold Beach dropped down to fishable levels last week, and plunkers reported their best action of the season, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Jim Carey of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach said plunkers on the lower river gravel bars had an exceptional week. There were reports of up to 30 steelhead a day coming from the combined efforts of anglers plunking Spin-N-Glos from places like Huntley Park and Lobster Creek. Jet boaters running plugs did well on Friday and Saturday. Paul LeFebvre, fishing with friends on Saturday, hooked up on seven steelhead and kept four. With clearing water, Carey said boaters will do better with plugs as the fish move into slightly deeper and faster water.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Ore.—The Middle Rogue is still running high, but is clearing a little, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. A few people were out over the weekend, as the water level is receding a little, but it remains somewhat off-color. Steelhead anglers should try drifting large yarn balls soaked in Pautzke’s, or back-troll large plugs in black, green or red colors.
RUSSIAN RIVER—Steelhead are being caught here, with the mouth open and flowing, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle. Flows were 1000 cfs with 2 feet of visibility nJan. 3. The best float for boaters is Healdsburg to Steelhead Beach, but watch for a diversion at the Wohler Dam. The run is just beginning.
SMITH RIVER— Fishing on the Smith River is “pretty good, with a good mix of both native and hatchery steelhead,” said WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. “Fish are in the 8- to 12-pound class with some larger fish in the mix, coming in on salmon eggs and Fish Pills. A few have also been caught on plugs.”
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.– With the rivers still a little high and visibility a little dark this last week, some anglers were able to catch an occasional mint bright steelhead in these more difficult fishing conditions, said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer. “With local frost and much colder nights and days than what we have seen yet this year, water temperatures have dropped a few degrees, which most likely has kept them lethargic,” said Palmer. “Projection for the river conditions this week is for the Umpqua to rise slightly over 7 feet in height by late Tuesday. Hopefully dropping back down to 6 1/2 feet by early Friday morning, which I consider to be the highest river reading I want to fish.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam—Steelheading continued to be very good below Iron Gate Dam. The river is fishable down to Orleans. Fish 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 gotten muddy in the upper reaches, but is clearing somewhat as it flows downriver. Fish are spread out, but are in beautiful shape. Flies, small plugs, like Hot Shots, Yakima Maglips, and roe are catching a couple to 5 or six steelhead an outing.
AMERICAN RIVER—The closed salmon spawning area of the American River reopened to fishing on Thursday Jan. 1, but fishing was “very, very” slow. There are only a few fish in the Hatchery ladder and few in the holding pond.
FEATHER RIVER—Fishing on the Feather has slowed down with only a few being caught. A very few striped bass were being caught on minnows at Shanghai Bend and Boyd’s Pump.
FOLSOM LAKE—The lake has risen above 400 feet and the speed limit has been lifted. Bass and catfish are still being caught in the mouths of incoming streams such as New York Creek, but inflows have been decreasing. Drop-shot Robo-worms and drag jigs over rock piles at about 20 to 30 feet deep. Trout fishermen have been trolling the main body with Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, Hoochies and small Rapalas for holdover trout.
RANCHO SECO LAKE—Trout plants are finally occurring at Rancho Seco and anglers there are catching them from shore and in float tubes, canoes and kayaks. One of the better methods is to slowly paddle with a slow sinking line pulling woolly buggers. Nightcrawlers, small Rapalas and Kastmasters are good, too.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The best bet has been to fish for sturgeon and eels have been the best bait. Try Cache Slough, the First and Second beaches at Verona and Knight’s Landing. The Deep Water Channel and the Turning Basin had been producing a few small striped bass, but the action has slowed.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding—The river continued to be muddy, and trout fishing was very slow.
YUBA RIVER—The lower Yuba down to below DeGuerre dam has dropped and cleared and fishing below the Highway 20 Bridge has been very good for trout 14 to 18 inches long.
BERKELEY—Many boats took the week off, but plans include bass and sturgeon trips in the Bay while the bite lasts and customer interest holds up. California Dawn went out Sunday to pull crab pots and easily got 9 limits of Dungeness. The boat will haul out and then spend part of the winter running out of Martinez for sturgeon and striped bass.
BODEGA BAY—Point Reyes was the end-of-season hotspot for rockfish and lingcod, with limits of crabs on the way back for New Sea Angler passengers. Then the crew switched to crab & ‘dab combo trips. Private crabbers enjoyed decent success. Some tried for halibut in the relatively warm waters, but so far no success.
EMERYVILLE—Rough weather forced cancellation of the final rockfish trip of the season, much to the disappointment of hopeful anglers. Before that it was dependable limits of rockfish and crabs plus some mean ol’ lingasaur. Sunday was the last day of crab & ‘dab combo trips. Sea Wolf’s 22 anglers caught 1250 sanddabs, limits of crabs and about 600 mackerel.
EUREKA—Crabbing was decent and a good debate ran throughout the week about whether crabbing was best from shore or boat. Boat anglers had an added treat of catching all the sanddabs they wanted. Shore anglers had an advantage in that they could take rockfish, cabezon and lingcod.
FORT BRAGG—Excellent fishing options awaited shore fishers. Casting snares for crabs from the jetty was good. MacKerricher and Glass beaches were good for rockfish, cabezon and even lingcod. Sea Hawk got 6 crabs apiece for her passengers who also got to enjoy watching a pod of over 20 gray whales heading south.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Huli Cat passengers finished their groundfish season by carrying off heavy sacks of delicious fish after successful trips to points off of San Gregorio. Ten reported catches of striped bass came from Pacifica beaches. Surf fishers also did battle with waves of hungry barred surf perch to 13 inches.
SAN FRANCISCO—Argo, out of Fisherman’s Wharf, found some willing sturgeon and striped bass in San Pablo Bay. Big fish was a 42-pound sturgeon. Herring spawns began popping in various parts of the bays, drawing sturgeon and feeding perch, which stopped biting most baits because of being stuffed with herring roe.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—All of the launch ramps are open.Redbud (1 lane), Braito’s, State Park, County Park, Konocti Vista Casino, Library Park, Lakeport, Lucerne and Clearlake Oakes. The winter minnow bite has still not picked up due to a ton of bait in the system for bass to feast on. The best bet is to stick to the midlake section of the lake where the water is clear, settle down and don’t worry about running around.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The Narrows down to the dam has been a popular spot for bass. P-Line Laser minnows and drop-shotting 6-inch Roboworms in Monster Shad color as well as jigs, A-rigs, and Senkos are also top methods for catching all three species of bass this time of year.
LAKE SONOMA—As the waters clear up and the lake level stabilizes, the bass fishing will pick up again. There is very little fishing pressure here. The public launch ramp is still in use with the private marina still closed.
LAKE ALMANOR—The ramps at Canyon Dam, the USFS at Almanor and Rec. 1 and 2 ramps are operational. Trolling the east basin has been the better bet. Some coves are starting to ice over.
BAUM LAKE—With other bodies of water closed, this continues to be a good option with consistent fishing. This lake is always a good winter option with its cold and clear waters and hungry trout.
FALL RIVER— Closed for the season.
UPPER HAT CREEK—Closed for the season.
McCLOUD RIVER— Closed for the season.
PIT RIVER—With no rain, things have dried up and fishing has improved. The Fly Shop suggests starting at Pit no. 3 and working your way down to Pit no. 4. Sunny days are bringing some hatches on.
SHASTA LAKE—Clarity will continue to be a problem here due to the runoff dumping a lot of silt back into the system from what were dry creek beds for many years. Watch out for a lot of debris in the system. Both trout and bass will be in the top 10 feet feasting on the shad. Chartreuse and black back crankbaits or silver shad minnow patterns for small swimbaits have been productive.
AMERICAN RIVER—The Georgetown Ranger Station reported the river flows were clear and cold with little or no fishing pressure.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 50-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported their launch ramp was now open to smaller fishing boats up to 16 feet in length. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported spotted bass were hitting crankbaits, jigs, and swing-jigs rigged with a 5-inch red shad Senko near incoming water at 40 to 45 feet deep. Some bass to 8 pounds were reported.
CAMP FAR WEST—North Shore Resort reported the lake was holding at around 75-percent capacity and the water was clearing with debris along the shoreline. Ron Franks of Folsom fished the lake this past week and caught five 1- to 1 1/2-pound bass using oxblood worms on the main body at 10 to 15 feet deep. Will Wittenburg of Sac caught 23 bass, all 1 to 1 1/2 pounders, using drop-shot worms and Carolina rigs at 15 to 20 feet deep.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 31 feet from full. Trout fishing was good this past week. The biggest fish of the week was a 7 1/4-pound rainbow caught by Chuck Lentz of Rocklin from the shore near his campsite using artificial scented eggs. Katy and Jack Sanar of Yuba City doubled up on 4 3/4 pounders at the beach using artificial scented eggs. Todd Fetherston of Roseville landed a 5-pound 9-ounce rainbow trolling a Rapala. Some limits were being caught, but most anglers had 2 to 4 trout.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported fishing was slow. The water color was still murky—a milky green.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 38-percent capacity—up 8 more feet this past week with all the major launch ramps back in operation. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was still good with the best action still near incoming water. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported he fished off the shore at Lime Saddle and caught a limit of small spots using a brown/purple jig. Gibson recommended using 3/16- to 1/2-ounce jigs down 30 to 35 feet deep near incoming water. A-rigs were also working well around big schools of pond smelt. One angler that Gibson knew caught 3- and 4 1/2-pound bass at Frazier Creek on a pond smelt swim jig near clearer incoming water.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake dropped to 90.5-percent capacity–down several feet this past week, but the water was clearing. Fishing was slow according to NID.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 58.5-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at the marina reported some boaters doing okay on rainbows and smallmouth bass this past week. Two boats caught three 12- to 14-inch rainbows each trolling at the dam and from Cascade Shore to the dam. Another boater landed a few 2- to 3-pound smallies near the “Ditch Tenders House” on jigs.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the facilities were open, but traffic was light with the cold weather.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 134.8-foot elevation at press time—87.5-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported duck hunters were in every cove on the lake, both north and south of the Hwy. 162 Bridge. Steelheading was still good for shore anglers using nightcrawlers at the Wilbur Road Access.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 16.2-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the ice here was only 2 inches thick and unsafe for ice fishing.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67.5-percent capacity. John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported the lake had frozen over and the ice was “3 inches thick and black”. Ice skaters were already on the lake, but Voss recommended using extreme caution if getting on the ice. The ice really needs to be 4 to 5 inches thick before trying to ice fish, so hold off for another week just to be safe! Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters recommended only ice fishing where there was snow on the surface of the ice to reduce injuries from slipping, if you insist on getting on the ice.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported there was 4 inches of snow along the river and fishing was slow.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the lake had frozen and the ice was 3 inches thick—still a little too thin for safe ice fishing. The ice would be much safer if it were 4 to 5 inches thick, so wait another week before planning a big ice fishing trip or call ahead to check on current conditions at Dillard, 530-966-5500 or Grizzly Store, 530-832-0270.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. A few macks were hitting spoons and Rapalas cast from the north shore along Donner Pass Road.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the lake was not frozen yet, but ice along the shore was making fishing difficult.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 66.5-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle reported this lake rarely freezes enough to allow ice fishing. Access to the lake was dependent on whether the roads were icy or covered with snow. With cold water conditions, fishing for rainbows would be slow at best. A call to Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service revealed that no one was fishing in the Crystal Basin.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported roads to the lake were open, but the cold weather had fishing pressure down as low as the temps!!
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR—The lake was only accessible by snowmobile—this will be the last report until spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported shore anglers were catching a mix of macks and rainbows at the creek inlet half way up the lake going toward the Narrows on nightcrawlers and floating dough baits.
LAKE TAHOE—Charter operators on both ends of the lake reported excellent fishing for macks in the afternoons—mornings have been BITTER COLD!!! Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing was catching easy limits of 2- to 6-pound macks from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. In the mornings the fish were bigger, 4 to 7 pounds, but limits were harder to come by. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing was launching ar Cave Rock and fishing both North and South Shore. North Shore was producing limits of 2 to 5 pounders, while the South Shore fish were running 4 to 7 pounds with the occasional 10- to 11-pound fish. Both guides were trolling from 200 to 350 feet deep on the North Shore and 100 to 120 feet deep at South Shore. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported a wide open bite mooching for 4- to 5-pound macks at Timber Cove (South Shore) in 140 to 180 feet of water.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported there was 10 inches of ice here and ice fishing was good off the dam.
PYRAMID LAKE—Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a good bite this week despite the full moon. Top fish was a 22 pounder caught by John Oppio of Sparks trolling at Block House. Crosby’s weighed in 14 double-digit fish this past week—half caught from shore, half by boaters. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported slow trolling with 3 fish landed from 8 strikes on Friday. His clients kept two 17 to 20 inchers caught on Apex trolled 35 feet deep from south of the nets to Pelican. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported catching 26 fish on his Sunday trip, all 17 to 24 inchers. He was trolling Apex at 27 to 37 feet deep at Anderson Bay.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters rated the ice fishing “fantastic” for 11- to 12-inch cutthroats using a piece of worm in 3 to 8 feet of water 10 to 30 feet out from the dam. One group of 3 novice ice fishermen limited out in an hour!
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 43-percent capacity. Reports are hard to come by here. There should be ice by now and fishing on snow covered ice near the dam should produce some rainbows.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 25-percent capacity. Access was still open to the lake, but cold conditions made fishing tough. Boat launching was 4-wheel drive only for small aluminum boats through the mud near the ramp. Drag bottom with a minnow imitation at the mouth of the Little Truckee arm for an occasional mack if you can stand the cold.
TOPAZ LAKE—Dave Rossman at the Topaz Lodge and Casino reported small aluminum boats could launch at the County Park. The Fishing Derby opened on Jan. 1 with a bang with 7 tagged fish worth $100 each and 23 others 2 pounds or better worth $5 in free slot play and 10 drawing tickets. There were 14 boats on the lake on opening day—all small boats launched at the County Park or off the shoreline.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Mountain Hardware and Sports reported flows were up below the Boca Outlet and in the Little Truckee below Stampede. Fishing was pretty good in the Little Truckee using BWO and baetis dries and nymphs.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported some potholes on the Pea Vine Ridge Road to the ramp at the dam had been filled, but the road was still very rough and icy. Fishing is better in late January and February, according to Mathis.
WEST WALKER RIVER—The West Walker Motel reported the river flows were low and fishing was slow with the cold weather.