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, Brookings, Ore.—The river dropped into shape the middle of the week after being blown out, and fishing pressure was intense, reducing action to just “fair,” according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Instead of several fish a boat, it was down to 1 to 3 a day. As other rivers came into shape, the pressure eased. The river was at 1900 cfs on Sunday morning.
COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Ore.– Steelhead fishing for bank anglers was good last week. As the weekend approached it slowed considerably. The largest percentage of fisherman were casting and drifting Corkys with yarn. “I only noticed a few adding roe to the yarn,” said guide Curtis Palmer. “It’s private land and anglers can purchase a season pass for their vehicle at TNT Market for about $10. Not every angler has to have one, just on the vehicle.”
COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore.– Winter steelhead fishing last week on the South Fork of the Coquille was difficult. “There were a couple days at the beginning of the week that seemed like every driftboat in the state was on that piece of the river,” according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “Everyone has seen days when it didn’t make any difference, but it did last week By the time the week was over, the fishing went from being difficult at a couple fish a day per boat for bank anglers to super difficult. The reason, I speculate, is there were prime conditions for the fish to move upriver, and then the river dropped out to low and clear.”
MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, Coos Bay, Ore.–The steelhead season for either fork of the Millacoma River is on the tail end of the season, said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer. “Bank anglers this last week seem to have fared much better than anglers who chose to use drift boats and/or float tubes. One local angler said that he and a couple of his buddies fished for a couple of days and only caught a few fish from their drift boat, when a few weekends ago they would caught dozens of fish in a couple of days. The decline in fish being caught is presumed to be due to the lateness of the season, along with the clear water and the shallow, yet narrow, river that makes it nearly impossible to sneak up on steelhead. If you can see the fish when drifting up on them, then the fish can see us.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.—“Guides have told me the fishing at the beginning of last week was better than the end, but they didn’t say why,” said Curtis Palmer. “But guide Tim Young was kind enough to share that he has been able to catch a few nice fish a day. This reporter has seen times when catching a dozen steelhead was an everyday occurrence, but even a few steelhead to the boat in a day is good. Winter steelhead fishing will continue well into March.”
ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Ore.—“It was pretty good steelhead fishing this week, as we’re starting to get lower water levels,” said guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. “There are lots of hatchery fish in the Grants Pass area. No rain is forecast for this week, but the weather is on the cold side. Anglers are running plugs or yarn balls soaked in Pautzke’s Nectar. On the Applegate River and Illinois River, anglers are scoring by working Cleos or bobbers and jigs. No bait is allowed on the Illinois, but anglers can use roe on the Applegate.”
RUSSIAN RIVER—“We saw a small push of new fish at the end of the week with the huge tide swings, but currently, the sand bar at the mouth has been filling in due to the high tides and continued high ocean swell,” said Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. “Unless this changes, we may not see many pushes of fish for a bit. Conditions continue to be sporadic catches under ideal conditions. The flow has finally dropped under 500 cfs, but the water downstream of Dry Creek continues to be turbid due to Lake Sonoma being full of silty water. Visibility is 3-4 feet.
SMITH RIVER—An estimated 27-pound-plus steelie was caught and released from the South Fork by Cody Gardner of Crescent City. Another driftboat capsized and sunk in the rapids above the picnic grounds, so take care! Everyone was rescued, according to WON Staff Writer Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Let the readers know that coming out of Poison Oak through the rapids into the Picnic Area is very dangerous!” said guide Phile Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. “Fishing on the Smith has been fair at 1 to 4 fish per boat. The pressure is very light. We fished yesterday (Saturday) and we only saw 2 other boats. I fished Pat and Lee Quinliven of Willets and they went 1 for 4 with Pat getting a nice 15-pound native buck. Earlier in the week Vernon Verburg went 1 for 2 with a nice 12-pound hatchery hen. All the fish were caught side-drifting with yarn, eggs and FishPills.”
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore.-- Last week, with the river conditions high and mocha brown, the water was unfishable and not worth putting the time and effort into it. With the river being on a steady drop, it should be in good fishing condition by the middle of this week. “Hopefully, I will have a good report next week for you for the Umpqua River,” said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Roseburg, Ore.- -Fishing from Amacher Park downriver to where it meets the South Umpqua has been very good this week and the holes are stacked full of steelhead. “There were a couple reports at the beginning of the week of hatchery fish being tagged,” said guide Curtis Palmer. “We don’t see a lot of hatchery fish this time of year, so these could be late summer steelhead returning home or fish that were intended to go up the South Umpqua. Either way, I am sure it was a nice surprise for those who caught the fish. Most years, by this time, there are anywhere from 900 to 1500 steelies over the Winchester Dam in Roseburg, Oregon. Average fish run size is 10,000.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.-- The South Umpqua has hatchery and native steelhead fish abundantly throughout the river. The hot spot for bank anglers is always above Stanton Park behind Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino Resort. “Even though not everyone I spoke with had stories that put a smile on their face, the unfortunate anglers were still able to point out someone that was nearby catching fish,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “With much of the South Umpqua being just minutes away from Interstate 5, this makes a great location for anyone that wants to make a day or two trip out of Northern California.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate – Fishing for steelhead has been good between the dam and Interstate 5. Plugs have been working well, while divers and nightcrawlers also are working. Fly anglers are using egg patterns or beads and indicators. Guide Scott Caldwell said he has been landing half a dozen steelhead a day between 2 and 7 pounds.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp – Some winter steelhead have begun to arrive. Many of the local guides have switched gears to the coastal rivers. Flows were 2,200 cfs at Seiad Valley Sunday, down from 4,000 a week earlier.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen – Halfpounder steelhead are being caught by side-drifters. Action has been slow for adult steelhead. Flows were down to 11,100 cfs Sunday afternoon, down considerably from 38,000 cfs a week ago after heavy rain fell in the coastal mountains.
TRINITY RIVER – Large numbers of halfpounders are present in the Junction City area and are especially aggressive when anglers are side-drifting roe. Plugs are taking adult winter steelhead, which are in prime shape. The river is dirty above Junction City but in prime shape below. Little pressure on the river above Indian Creek, but boat traffic has been heavy at times from Junction City down.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Although the live bait has still not kicked in this winter, anglers working ripbaits and plastics have been putting together enough bites to call it a successful day. The fish are scattered, so covering water is the deal. With the current water temperature and stable weather, look for the upper end of the lake to start producing action and the area around Rattlesnake Island which has the warmest water and shallow rock.
LAKE BERRYESSA—With a drop in water temperatures the bite got a little tougher, but with a warming trend coming, look for that to change. In the meantime try green pumpkin Senkos in 20 feet of water or 6-inch Roboworms in a monster shad pattern in 35 feet of water for a few bass.
LAKE SONOMA—The lake continues rise slowly but remains stained. With water temperatures hovering at 50 degrees, bass anglers have had to slow down and work jigs, worms and Senkos in tight to cover, standing timber or rocks in 20 to 40 feet. Trout anglers have stayed away with the stained water, but catfish to 12 pounds are in the muddier creek channels in 25 feet of water. The public launch ramp remains open.
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. The east shore and south to Canyon Dam have the best clarity. Slow trolling threaded nightcrawlers or soft plastic smelt patterns got most of the action early. After the sun gets high, fast action 1/6-ounce Speedy Shiners in a silver hammer finish seemed to do better.
BAUM LAKE—With other bodies of water closed, this continues to be a good option with cold clean water and consistent fishing. This lake is always a good winter option with its hungry trout. With a hatchery next door there are plenty of planted fish as well as a few bigger fish and wild ones here.
PIT RIVER—The Fly Shop suggests starting at Pit no. 3 and working your way down to Pit 4 and then 5 since they maybe more stained and have higher flows. All three have been good options lately though.
SHASTA LAKE—Fishing is good once you find the schools of baitfish, so move around. For larger bass throw a 7-inch Osprey swimbait once the water has warmed up close in. For numbers, toss worms in shad patterns for 40 to 50 fish a day averaging 1 1/2 pounds. Trolling for trout should be an option in another week or two once the water clarity gets a little better.
BERKELEY—Boat trips were scarce as gold doubloons in a waterfront tavern, but shoreline fishing managed to provide some action. Various perch bit quite well for Berkeley shore and pier anglers using blood worms and pieces of shrimp. Striped bass were also hooked on baits, swimbaits and Hair Raisers.
BODEGA BAY—Lingcod, cabezon, greenling and rockfish bit well north of Jenner before the big swells riled up the surf to dangerous levels. Good spots for surf perch included Salmon Creek, Doran Beach and Lawson’s Landing. Crabbers did well on outer Bodega Bay before the big swells and then Tomales Bay crabbers had their moment when they could work fairly protected from the swells.
EMERYVILLE—Boats didn’t run, waiting until the spring season begins. Local perch fishers, however, enjoyed good action near Emeryville, Alameda Rock Wall and Treasure Island. Striped bass were the wild cards for patient anglers working baits or casting swimbaits and Hair Raisers.
EUREKA—Sardines, striped perch and red tail perch provided plenty of fish-catching fun inside Humboldt Bay. Crabbing was limited by big swells and tides to inside the Bay where Dungeness were scarce, but red rock crab were plentiful from Del Norte and Englund Marine piers. Before the big swells and tides, the jetties produced catches of black rockfish, greenling and perch.
FORT BRAGG—Usal Beach saw plenty of action on both smelt (both day and night runs) and also on red tail perch. Jetty fishers got rockfish, greenling, cabezon and rockfish. Crabbers, including party boat Sea Hawk, had solid success.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Poke-polling became quite popular around Pillar Point Harbor and people using them on the jetty wrestled with lingcod, cabezon and rockfish. Surf perch fishing was excellent along local sandy beaches. Huli Cat made it out for a successful crab and ‘dab trip. Pacifica saw catches of crabs, sanddabs, barred surf perch, kingfish and jacksmelt.
SAN FRANCISCO/SAUSALITO—A herring spawn near Sausalito heightened the activity of the Bay area food chain and people took advantage of the movement of both sturgeon and striped bass. South Bay was a bit quiet, other than a good jacksmelt bite from Oyster Point to Fisherman’s Park.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 17-percent capacity. The ice was UNSAFE for icefishing according to Mountain Hardware and Sports, though there were a few risk takers seen tempting fate!
BUTTE VALLEY RESERVOIR—Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported a couple of young guys were catching some 5- to 9-pound rainbows at the powerhouse on blue-silver Kastmasters and white leech fly patterns when the pumps were running. Nothing like a chum line to attract big fat trout!
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was still 8 inches thick but there was some open water showing near rocky banks!! Use extreme caution when getting on or off the ice to fish or skate. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported ice fishing for rainbows and macks was good in front of the dam.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the river flows were beautiful, but no one was fishing.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the ice was NOT SAFE for ice fishing!! Open water was showing at Mallard Point, Fairview, and Eagle Point and shore fishermen were seeing hit-or-miss action for 18- to 22-inch rainbows using floating dough bait and nightcrawlers. Anglers might pick up 2 or 3 fish one day and get skunked the next.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Browns and macks were hitting nightcrawlers off the shore, but only a fish or two a day at best.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported ice fishing was done for now with unsafe ice conditions. Shore fishing was available at open water in Ship’s Cove west of the dam where one angler picked up 3 rainbows that weighed a total of 5 pounds while casting a spoon.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. With the warm weather, Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service reported trout trolling should be good.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported fishing here was slow.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Rainbow trout were hitting nightcrawlers and floating dough bait at the first dam, according to Sly Park Resort.
LAKE TAHOE—Despite windy, rough conditions, Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported having an epic trip on Sunday with his clients catching limits of macks from 7 to 12 pounds in about 4 hours along North Shore in less than 120 feet of water. The big macks were feeding on small kokanee and macks instead of shrimp—big bait equals big fish!! Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported doing well early for rainbows to 2 pounds and browns to 6 pounds longlining Storm Arashi crankbaits coated with Pautzke’s Liquid Krill at 30 feet deep in 60 feet of water. Limits of macks to 6 pounds were hitting F18 black/silver Rapalas at 100 to 130 feet deep. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported doing well for 3- to 5-pound macks mooching live minnows behind Sling Blade dodgers near the island in Emerald Bay at 80 to 100 feet deep.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the warm weather had compromised the ice and ice fishing was not recommended!
PYRAMID LAKE—Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a 20 pounder was caught-and-released at Block House by a shore angler. A 16 1/2 pounder was landed by Gary Zahniser while jigging a black jig at Block Hose from a boat. Crosby’s also weighed in a 13, a 12, two 11s, and four 10s. The 2015 President’s Day Fishing Derby will be held Feb. 7-8 and Feb. 14-15 with an entry of $100. First prize will be a boat/motor/trailer or $3000 cash. See crosbyslodge.net for entry forms.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported ice fishing was still good in 10 feet of water off the dam. The previously reported avalanche control activities only took a short time and the lake access was reopened early this past week.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 43.5-percent capacity. Ice fishing was good off the dam using bay shrimp, worms, and jigged Kastmaster spoons.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 23-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported shore anglers were picking up some nice rainbows in open water at the dam and up in the Davies Creek arm on inflated nightcrawlers and floating dough bait. Many of the back bays on the lake were frozen.
TOPAZ LAKE—The lake level was still too low for launching anything bigger than a small aluminum boat off the shore with both ramps closed at Topaz Landing Marina and the County Park. The Topaz Lodge and Casino Fishing Derby was still going strong, paying out $100 for tagged fish and free slot play for fish over 2 pounds.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported the best flyfishing was below Reno on overcast days when the baetis hatches were coming off.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle reported that poor road conditions and heavy logging traffic made access to the lake difficult at best.
WEST WALKER RIVER—Sam Foster at the Toiyabe Motel reported the river flows were beautiful and folks were enjoying good catch-and-release flyfishing with the warm weather.
AMERICAN RIVER – Although a 12-pound wild steelhead was caught and released on the lower river Saturday, fishing has been poor, with most guides canceling trips. Flows were 870 cfs Sunday morning.
FEATHER RIVER – Striped bass fishing is fair for bank anglers fishing anchovies or sardines. Flows are low for boat anglers. Striper fishing is expected to slow in February once steelhead smolts are released from the Feather River Fish Hatchery, and improve again with the spawning run in March. A few steelhead are being caught near Gridley, but action is slow, due in part to dirty water.
FOLSOM LAKE – Bass fishing has been fair while trolling for landlocked kings has been poor, according to guides focusing on the lake. An abundance of pond smelt may have the salmon full and not wanting to bite trolled lures. A few kings were caught near the dam, 30 feet down. The lake remained at 46 percent capacity on Sunday.
RANCHO SECO LAKE – The lake was stocked Jan. 7 with rainbows and will be stocked again Thursday. Trout fishing has been fair to good with nightcrawlers and Power Bait working best for shore anglers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir – Nice weather in the Dunsmuir area has brought a few anglers to the Upper Sacramento, where fishing is fair for trout. Flows from Lake Siskiyou remain near 700 cfs. Fly anglers are using size 8 rubber legs in black or brown. Fish to 20 inches have been caught.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff – The Sacramento remains muddy near Redding, forcing anglers to fish shallow riffles, where visibility is best. Rainbows to 24 inches were caught last week on beads and egg patterns. Some guides reported up to a dozen fish a day, although fishing is still fair at best because of the conditions. Shrimp pink and orange continue to work best. The river is dirty because of muddy water in Shasta Lake.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa – Water temperatures warmed to 54 degrees last week, and sturgeon fishing improved, with fish being caught daily at Second Beach in the Knight’s Landing area. Several keeper sturgeon were confirmed by Elkhorn Outdoor Sports, with numerous undersize and oversize fish also reported. Boaters and bank anglers both are getting in on the action. Ghost shrimp, pile worms, eel and nightcrawlers all have produced fish. Stripers are still three weeks away.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento – Fishing for striped bass has improved near the Port of Sacramento, with a mix of large fish and keeper-size fish in the 3- to 14-pound range. Anglers are drifting minnows, using topwater baits and trolling P-Line Predators. A 40-pound striper was reported last week.
AMERICAN RIVER—With the beautiful weather, lots of sunbathers and hikers were seen at the Hwy 49 confluence but fishermen were rare.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported seeing lots of boats on the lake, but no one was reporting any fishing success. Bass fishing was hit-or-miss by the last report and some big spots were being caught.
CAMP FAR WEST—North Shore Resort reported the Yuba City Bass Club held a 17-boat tournament this past weekend and it took 7.91 pounds to win the event. The big fish weighed 1.90 pounds. Most of the fish were caught on jigs and worms. The water color was still murky with debris accumulating near the shore.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 31 feet from full. Lincoln Young at Collins Lake Resort reported a private 1800-pound plant was scheduled for this week and a DFW trout plant was planned for next week. Trout fishing has been fair with the good weather and some anglers were scoring limits of rainbows up to 6 pounds. Boaters were doing best at the dam and the power lines, while the shore anglers were scoring at the usual spots at the dam, Beach, and campsites.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported trollers were picking up a few trout at the dam and up lake near Long’s Cove. Bait drifters were catching some fish up at the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork.
FULLER LAKE—The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 40-percent capacity—up 2 feet this past week to 179 feet from full. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was good for those that could detect the light bite. The fish were schooled up at 5 to 20 feet deep on steep walls and points in the West Branch and North Fork. One trip produced 20 fish to 3 pounds in just 3 hours with the best 5 weighing 12 pounds. Tubes and darthead worms were working well. Launching was good at the main ramps at Lime Saddle, Bidwell, and the Spillway. The water was still a bit murky and large debris was still a navigational hazard for boaters—use caution while running, especially at high speed!!
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Caden Caldwell reported bass fishing was improving with the warmer weather.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported trollers were picking up 14- to 15-inch rainbows on the right side of the dam near Gate 1, and smallmouth bass to 4 pounds at Cascade Shore near the overflow. The water was clear with no debris and launching was good at the marina ramp. The store and marina were still closed for the season.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Not much happening here according to the Foresthill Ranger Station.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 134.3-foot elevation at press time—84-percent capacity. With the duck season over, bass fishing should improve in the coves with the warm weather moving fish into pre-spawn.