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—The crowds have dispersed to other rivers, leaving it to the local guides and anglers, and fishing has slowed a bit, but still with a few “banner days of 6 or 7 to the boat,” according to guide and WON Staff Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “A lot of fish have spawned in the upper river, so there’s a mix of fresh and downer fish. Flows were 1120 cfs on Sunday, but expected to go to 3,000 cfs with the incoming rain.”
EEL RIVER, South Fork—P-Line Pro Staffer Scott Green sent in a report on the river, and it was low and clear on Sunday at press time, but rain is coming. “There are some fresh fish in the system with some downrunners mixed in. Dime sized roe and yarn balls with lighter line and lighter slinkies are doing the trick.”
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.–Steelhead fishing on the lower Rogue River has been what most would consider to be slow this last week. “With river conditions clear and shallow throughout most of the river and beautiful sunny day over most of last week, what few steelhead made their way out of the salt and into the river system played a good game of ‘avoiding the anglers,’” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “Storms in the valley will bring rising river conditions up this week, and I expect to see fresh batches of winter steelhead racing into the rivers and taking advantage of the higher river levels, and fishing will improve as the water recedes.”
ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Ore.—”We’re still catching fish as the water is lowering, but new fish should be becoming up to the Grants Pass area,” said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. “The Gold Hill area and from Whitehorse and downriver produced the best fishing this week. Anglers can now keep one wild steelhead a day, only 5 in the season. Keep only wild fish 24 inches or larger. Catches are being made on yarn balls soaked in Pautzke’s Nectar, or metallic colored plugs such as K-9s and K-11s. Brad’s Wee Wigglers also work well. On the Applegate River, best catches seem to be on bobbers with a jig or roe.
RUSSIAN RIVER—The mouth was blocked last week by high seas, but it is expected to be opened up on Tuesday, which will let waiting steelhead into the river. Fishing this past week was good, with low, but good water conditions and clarity, and steelhead are spread out throughout the river. Rain is expected this week, and combined with the re-opening of the river mouth, fishing should be excellent unless—or until—it blows out. Currently low and clear, but the fish are there—under the willows and in moving riffles.
SMITH RIVER—The river was back to low and clear over the weekend, but a front was supposed to swing over this coming week. How much rain, or when, will dictate steelhead fishing this coming week. This past week was tough for everyone. “There are a few fish, but not very many, but we are expecting rain this week,” said guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service.
UMPQUA RIVER, Roseburg, Ore.—Fishing was slower than expected this past week, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service, and getting reports was tough, as nobody had much to brag about, he said. “A single fish here and or there was the best report I could get from anglers and guides,” Palmer said. “The forecast is rain throughout the coming week and the river is supposed to crest on Jan. 4 to 7.1 feet from the 5.3 feet it is now, on Sunday. This noticeable rise should warm the water temperature just enough to help the steelhead not be so lethargic.”
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore.– Last week the fishing conditions were spectacular, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “River levels were low, visibility was clear with a slight green tint, and the temperature to the touch was painfully cold,” Palmer said. “Sunny afternoons with temperatures in the high 50s and lower 60s made decisions to get out on the water easier. We caught the first spawned out winter steelhead in my boat last week. The tired hen was still healthy at 9 pounds, and making her way back to the ocean. We only had a couple other steelhead that day, but also caught a beautiful searun cutthroat at 2 pounds and a half dozen large rainbows from 12 to 16 inches. Fishing had been better earlier in the week, with as many as a dozen fish a day. Tuesday and Wednesday, everybody reported 10 or more fish being caught in their boat. Consistent showers this week will bring water levels up, but aren’t expected to blow out the rivers. Fishing should improve by late this week.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Myrtle Creek, Ore.– Last weekend the South Umpqua river was low, and with almost unlimited visibility. “The few boats on the water had one or maybe two opportunities at catching a chrome steelhead over a long day of fishing and drifting down the river,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “As a fishing guide and growing up in this area and with a lifetime experience fishing these waters, my conclusion is that due to flooding rivers in the middle of December, there must be a considerable number of fish showing up late here.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate – Steelhead fishing remains good, with a mix of halfpounders and adult fish. Some of the fish are up to 5 pounds, and are being caught on plugs, nightcrawlers behind divers or egg patterns. Flows at Iron Gate were 954 cfs on Sunday.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp – The river is in prime shape for winter steelhead fishing, but action is only fair with limited number of fish around. Flows at Happy Camp were 2,525 cfs on Sunday. Side-drifting roe has produced decent results.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen – Few anglers are fishing, but good numbers of halfpounders are present in the lower river. Flows at Terwer were 11,500 cfs on Sunday.
TRINITY RIVER – Dirty water above Indian Creek has boaters concentrating on Junction City down. Anglers are finding a mix of halfpounders and adult winter fish, running up to 8 pounds. Plugs and roe are catching steelhead, with roe being the top choice for the plentiful halfpounders. Egg patterns also are working for fly anglers. The next rain may draw up fish holding in the Klamath.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—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. That will be changing with the upcoming rain expected, however. Chatterbaits, ripbaits and shallow running crankbaits have been producing a few bass. But most are focused on catfish bunched up in 35 to 40 feet of water in the midlake on spots including Henderson Point, Shag Rock, and Glenhaven. Crappie have still been able to mysteriously elude anglers with only an occasional fish being caught here and there.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The bass bite continued to be slow, but with rains 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 to be stained and the bass bite tough. The best bet will be for anglers to find the cleaner water and pitch black jigs, Brush Hogs or shake worms in and around standing timber in 15 to 35 feet off secondary points, ledges and tree lines. 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.
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. When you find a baitball, make several runs over it. Arctic tube flies in a pond smelt pattern has been getting the job done for mostly brown trout.
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. The Fly shop recommends midge patterns, woolly buggers and even BWO duns.
FALL RIVER— Closed for the season.
UPPER HAT CREEK—Closed for the season.
McCLOUD RIVER— Closed for the season.
PIT RIVER—Start at Pit no. 3 and working your way down to Pit 4 and then Pit no. 5. All three have been good options lately and good bets in the winter.
SHASTA LAKE—For a few larger bass, throw a 6- or 7-inch Osprey swimbait once the water has warmed up close in midday. For numbers, toss worms in shad patterns for 40 or 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—Happy Hooker got into the striped bass, boating 11 of them to 5 pounds. Pier fishing for perch was reported to be a step above fair. A variety of baits and artificials were used, including pile worms, pieces of shrimp and Sabiki rigs. Private boats ran for sturgeon and stripers in San Pablo Bay, Alameda Rock Wall and the Carquinez Straits.
LAWSON’S LANDING/BODEGA BAY—Crab and ‘dab combos aboard New Sea Angler expanded, by customer request, to crab, ‘dab and white croaker combos with high numbers caught. Surf perch fishing drew people from as far away as Vallejo to find perch inside the marinas and off of Doran Beach or down the coast at Lawson’s Landing. Crabbing from shore, pier or boat was described as a steady trickle. High surf kept folks off of the rocks up the coast above Jenner where fishing for lingcod, cabezon and rockfish is generally excellent.
EUREKA—Jetty fishing was good, thanks to a dose of good weather. Black rockfish, kelp greenlings and striped perch were caught in good numbers. Horseneck clam digs were productive at low tides on the mudflats off of King Salmon. Red rock crabs turned up in good numbers for snare casters on the local piers inside Humboldt Bay. Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service in Smith River found great surf fishing for red tail perch.
FORT BRAGG—Crabbing was excellent aboard Telstar. It was limits on every trip. Capt. Randy Thornton is using a GoPro mounted inside of pots to monitor the crabs and figure out ways to make it easier for the crabs to get inside of his pots. Shore fishers on the jetty hauled in kelp greenling, perch, rockfish and crabs.
PACIFICA/HALF MOON BAY—Crabbers did quite well on Pacifica Pier and also on the pier, docks and jetties of Half Moon Bay. Locals felt like crabbing is back! Hook & liners reeled up a variety of perches, kingfish and jacksmelt, while enjoying good weather. Poke-Polers at Half Moon jetty managed to snag rockfish and cabezon.
SAN FRANCISCO—Argo made some moves and found good bass fishing without sharks and rays. Huge herring spawns throughout Central Bay and the north half of South Bay got people out fishing for sturgeon and striped bass, with appreciable success. Perch fishing was also exceptionally good. Halibut anglers began working South Bay in earnest, because conditions lead them to believe the flatties are about to bust loose.
AMERICAN RIVER – Steelhead fishing remains slow on the American River. According to John Wadden of Will Fish Bait and Tackle, catches have been as poor as two fish for 60 combined anglers. “You can’t even run a drift boat it is so low,” he said.
FEATHER RIVER – Anglers are still catching stripers from Shanghai Bend to Boyd’s Pump. Expect another week of decent fishing before the stripers move back to the Delta, following the annual release of steelhead smolts from the hatchery. The peak season for the striper spawning run is March and April. Steelhead fishing is slow.
FOLSOM LAKE – King fishing is slow, with some boats picking up a fish or two trolling white hoochies. Bass fishing is slowly improving. The lake remains low.
RANCHO SECO LAKE – The lake was recently stocked with rainbows. Fishing is fair to good for anglers using Power Bait or nightcrawlers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir – Flows are 600 cfs. Heavily weighted nymphs are producing fair to good action for rainbows as big as 20 inches, according to Bob Grace of the Ted Fay Fly Shop. There is some dry fly action on sunny days. Low snowpack is beginning to be a concern for summer fishing.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff – Muddy water from Shasta Lake continues to produce dirty water conditions on the Sacramento River near Redding. Flows from Keswick Reservoir were 2,825 cfs. Trout fishing is fair, with some large rainbows showing up in the catch. Sunny days have been best. Bright-colored egg patterns fished in shallow riffles, where visibility is best, have been working.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa – Sturgeon fishing is continuing to improve with the best action near Knight’s Landing. Several keepers were reported last week by Elkhorn Outdoor Sports. Ghost shrimp, eel, pile worms and nightcrawlers are among the favorite baits. Still a few weeks early for stripers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento – The Port of Sacramento continues to be the hot spot for stripers, with some big fish showing in the catch. Trolling P-Line Predators has worked well. Some anglers also are jigging spoons.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 17.5-percent capacity. According to Mountain Hardware and Sports, the lake was ice-free and fishing was best at the dam and inlet. The dam was best from shore for browns and the inlet was producing rainbows for kayakers, canoeists, a float tubers.
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported the ice was 8 to 10 inches thick and frozen all the way to the rocky shores, so access to the ice was safe. He fished the area near the dam and only saw one fish caught, a 3-pound brown, so fishing was slow. Fishing was much better at Red Lake.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported there was little ice along the shore of the river, but it was still cold. Sodaro saw a couple cars parked at Hangman’s Bridge at the top of the restricted section, but didn’t see anyone to talk to. Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported fishing was slow, but experienced anglers could pick up a fish or two in the deeper holes downstream of the bridge a mile or two using small nymphs.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported shore fishing was much improved this past week with anglers scoring 3 to 5 rainbows each to 26 inches! Shore anglers were seen at Mallard Point, Coot Bay, Fairview, Eagle Point, and Catfish using floating dough bait and scented artificial eggs. A few small aluminum boats were launched at Camp 5—there’s still ice on the Honker Cove ramp. J&J Grizzly Store reported 5- and 6-pound rainbows were caught on Sunday at Eagle Point.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 39-percent capacity. One boater located a big school of macks in 120 to 135 feet of water out in front of the boat ramp and was catching 4 to 8 pounders trolling a Number 3 silver Needlefish through the school. Multiple hookups were common but landing them was another issue all together. Shore fishing was slow.
FEATHER RIVER CANYON—Butt Valley Reservoir is at 83-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports recommended fishing the powerhouse for big rainbows when it’s running.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported shore fishing was good at the dam and the cove west of the dam for rainbows to 3 1/2 pounds using nightcrawlers and Kastmaster spoons.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Access should be great, with no snow this winter. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service said the trolling should be good using a dodger/nightcrawler or brown grub.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported trout fishing was slow. Three shore anglers reported getting no bites on inflated nightcrawlers and floating dough bait.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—The lake is at 69-percent capacity and scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported Robbie Gillespie caught a 5 1/2-pound mack off the shore on a nightcrawler. Smallmouth bass were hitting jigs and worms on rocky banks.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported mack trolling was good on both morning and afternoon trips with rainbow trout as an added bonus on the later charters. Self was trolling spoons 80 to 400 feet deep while constantly moving to stay on active groups of macks that were running 2 1/2 to 12 pounds. Afternoon trips were producing rainbows to 5 pounds trolling slowly along rocky banks in shallower water. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing was doing well on brown trout to 4 1/2 to 5 pounds and rainbows to 2 pounds trolling Rapalas along shallower rocky banks in the early morning. Nielsen reported some trollers were working large lures off Cave Rock for big macks—one 13 and another 23 pounds. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported great action for macks mooching live bait at Rubicon, Camp Richardson, and Edgewood at 140 to 250 feet deep.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the lake was ice-free. Fishing for rainbows was sporadic at best from the dam to the inlet.
PYRAMID LAKE—Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported another 21 pounder was weighed this past week. Gary Zahniser picked up the big fish jigging from a boat at Block House—the same spot he caught a 16 1/2 pounder the previous week. Crosby’s Lodge weighed 11 double-digit fish this past week. Their Presidents’ Day Derby runs two weekends—Feb. 7-8 and Feb. 14-15 with a $100 entry. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported catching 32 and 34 fish on his last two trips trolling Apex and FlatFish north of Warrior Point at 15 to 25 feet deep. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported catching 26 cutthroats to 8 1/2 pounds on his best trip this past week trolling Apex on the north end of the lake at 17 to 35 feet deep.
RED LAKE—Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported the ice was safe here and fishing was good with most anglers picking up a few fish using bay shrimp and worms.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 44-percent capacity. Try the ice fishing off the dam using bay shrimp for bait.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 23-percent capacity. The few boaters launching off the shore reported picking up a few macks at the dam at 60 to 75 feet deep and some rainbows at the island (not really an island now, with the water so low).
TOPAZ LAKE—Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported the water level was still too low for boat launching—his boat docks were sitting in the mud! Shore fishing was slow, with only a few fish caught by a visiting group of 30 anglers from Auburn–their biggest was a 3 pounder.
TRUCKEE RIVER—Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported the best action was below Reno where BWO and baetis hatches were coming off on overcast days. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported small nymphs were the go-to choice for flyfishermen throughout the main river and the Little Truckee.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported fishing here four days this past week. With logging activity over for now, the road to the ramp at the dam was repaired and in great shape—better than he had seen in some time! Fishing was slow with only 12 fish to 8 pounds caught over the 4 days. The best bite he found was using a dodger/herring or Double Flutter spoons at 50 to 70 feet deep on sandy ledges with big rock.
WEST WALKER RIVER—Sam Foster at the Toiyabe Motel reported seeing a few flyfishermen out working the beautiful flows in the river north of town. Try midge nymphs under an indicator.
AMERICAN RIVER—The river was running clear and cold at the confluence, according to the Georgetown Ranger Station. There were lots of folks enjoying the beautiful weather, but no one was fishing.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported there were lots of fishing boats on the lake this past weekend, but no one was reporting any success to the marina. Local sources said the bass bite should be improving with the warmer than normal weather. Steep rocky points were holding lots of smaller spots along with a few lunkers—try worms, jigs, and Senkos.
CAMP FAR WEST—North Shore Resort reported the lake was nearing 90-percent capacity. Fishing this past week was very slow. One boat reported catching 4 small bass after fishing the whole lake. The water color was still a bit murky, but clearing nicely.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is still 31 feet from full. The lake received an 1800-pound private plant this past week and trout fishing really took off. One boat trolled up two limits of rainbows that averaged 5 pounds apiece topped by a 5 3/4 pounder. The big stringers were caught on Needlefish and Rapalas trolled from the power lines to the dam. Shore fishing was good near the marina and at the Beach.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported there were lots of boats on the lake this past week. Most were heading up toward the “No-Ski” area to troll or drift bait for trout.
FULLER LAKE—The lake was stocked by the DFW this past week.
LAKE OROVILLE—The lake is at 41-percent capacity—only up 1.5 feet this past week. WON Staffer Pat Young fished with Bruce Gibson from the Paradise Tackle Company this past week and they caught 20 spotted bass in 5 hours casting shakey head worms and tubes on steep walls at 10 to 25 feet deep in the West Branch. Guide Ron Gandolfi and a client fished the same day in the West Branch and North Fork and ended up with 40 bass to 2 pounds using tubes, shakey head worms and drop-shot worms. The water color was a little murky, but great for bass fishing. Some heavy debris was floating in the West Branch and boaters should use extreme caution while running anywhere on the lake. One bass boat hit a log at high speed, ripping the lower unit off the outboard and injuring the occupants—slow down!!
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 90.5-percent capacity. Caden Caldwell at NID reported bass fishing was slow. One boater caught a 5-pound brown trout trolling a Rapala at the inlet. The water in the lake was clear with minimal debris floating to cause problems for boats.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. Trollers were picking up a few rainbows at the dam on flasher/worms.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—Still not much happening here with very little, if any, fishing pressure.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at 134.1-foot elevation at press time—82-5-percent capacity. Steelhead were still hitting in the channel at Wilbur Road on inflated nightcrawlers from shore or drifted from a boat in the current. Bass fishing should be improving in the coves as the water warms and the fish begin moving toward shallow water to stage for the spawn.