AMERICAN RIVER - The American River fishing opener of the salmon spawning area upstream of the power lines crossing the river at Ancil Hoffman Park to the USGS cable crossing the river at Nimbus Hatchery on Sunday looks good, based on the number of steelhead in the Nimbus Hatchery and reports of some nice steelhead being caught downstream of the closure. Remember, it's barbless hooks only, and two hatchery steelhead as denoted by a clipped adipose fin may be kept. No salmon may be targeted or kept. Flows are very fishable, too, at 2,000 cfs. The fish racks have been removed so salmon and steelhead have free passage into Nimbus Basin, and, though fishing pressure is heavy, odds of hooking into a steelhead are better than downstream.
DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER side - Liberty Island and Prospect Slough have been good for stripers soaking mudsuckers, jumbo minnows or sardines. Umbrella rigs are also popular. Cast them along the levee breaks at Liberty Island. Clarksburg Landing has been good for sturgeon using eel and pile worm. Grass shrimp has also been productive. Cache Slough and at the mouth of Prospect Slough have also been popular sites using ghost or grass shrimp.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side - This side of the Delta has been slow due to the cold water. As fish acclimate, fishing will pick back up. Stripers have been biting better on live bait in areas with warmer water. Sturgeon fishing has been fair in areas such as Grizzly and Suisun bays. Chain Island and Montezuma Slough are also good areas to target. Salmon roe has been the most popular bait.
TOPAZ LAKE - The trout season opens Jan. 1. The Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby will begin on opening day and run until April 15. Check out TopazLodge.com for details. According to Topaz Landing Marina, the lake is much higher than normal for this time of year and there will be plenty of shore fishing area for the opener. The Nevada Department of Wildlife has been planting the lake heavily since the Oct. 1 and fishing should be excellent on Jan. 1 barring any extreme winter storms.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Ore. - It was raining over the weekend and the river was climbing slowly, at 678 cfs at noon on Christmas day, but expected to hit 6,000 cfs during the week and be a very fishable 4,000 cfs over the weekend. Despite the lack of rain, the numbers of steelhead have been very good, and the few anglers working the river have been having better than normal success for December. Look for the bulk of the steelhead to show up this week.
COQUILLE RIVER, Myrtle Point, Ore. - Bank anglers are doing well plunking roe a short distance from the waters edge. "I have received a couple reports of drifters doing well from Hoffman Wayside to Myrtle Point," said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. "One angler sent me an e-mail saying they had hooked 13 steelhead on that drift using roe. He also wrote me the next day to report that they had went 3 for 3 on fly's during a short drift on the same water the next day." Rain was expected this week.
RUSSIAN RIVER - Steelhead are in the river, but everyone is waiting for rain for more fish and better fishing conditions. Anglers in the know have been using stealth methods in the low, clear water and catching halfpounders and some adults, but it's been tough, and rain is needed to bring in the main run.
SMITH RIVER - Flows on the Smith River dropped to a meager 550 cfs on Christmas Day, but were expected to approach 7,500 cfs with heavy rain forecasted this week by the National Weather Service. The 4-foot increase in flows should give steelhead fishing a major boost, guides predicted. "December was slow on the Smith," said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. "There were a lot of salmon below Rowdy Creek, but steelhead fishing was slow upstream and there weren't many kings above tidewater." Guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips said the expected rains should make steelhead fishing prime the first couple weeks of January. A few bright kings also could show up in the catch.
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore. - Steelhead fishing has been very good over the last week, but very few boaters were out drifting due to the extremely low water levels. Prior to the current rains, (and more expected this week), visibility was 8 feet and most anglers were using 1/8- to 1/2-ounce floats to drift roe or small jigs through slots, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City - The weather on the Trinity River drainage has been more than a little boring lately: cold, getting down to 20 degrees at night, and foggy. Not many fish are on the move as a result. The good news, so to speak, is that the river above Junction City has the highest concentration of fish. Fishing pressure has been fairly light, as well. Anglers have been using a variety of methods to get a couple of hookups and outing-from small nymphs like copper Johns to backtrolled plugs-and drifted roe in-between.
KLAMATH RIVER, Orleans - Halfpound steelhead and a few adults to about 5 pounds were being caught on drifted nightcrawlers, roe, and spinners a the lower end of the Trinity. Some steelhead were being caught in the South Fork, as well. Anglers should be aware that access is being denied to non-tribal members on Hoopa Reservation lands.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam - Air and water temperatures have been very cold, but the river is clear, and fishing pressure has been very light. Fishing has been very good for the few anglers trying. with anglers catching a dozen or so halfpounders and trout plus several adults to about 6 pounds. Drifted roe, nightcrawlers, and backtrolled plugs have been the baits and lures of choice. It's been too cold for a good fly bite.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen - The lower river continued to be very low and clear with a few adults and halfpounders being caught around Blue Creek and Johnson's Riffle.
BERKELEY - Trips to the Farallon Islands for fish and crabs are accruing perfect scores... limits every time. A few lingcod spice up the fare though early this week the lings were a bit on the small side with the biggest going a modest 7 pounds. A lot more trips being run by party boats thanks to rockfish season going through December. Expect limits of rockfish and crabs.
BLACK POINT - Petaluma River sturgeon began showing this week, matching historic logs from previous years. No hookups were reported, though sightings included one from Capt. Jack Marshall on charter boat, Blondie while motoring upriver Tuesday on a calm flat day. Capt. Marshall explains that a bow wake will sometimes cause sturgeon to jump, especially on a calm day. "We did scare one to jump about 100 feet in front of us and about 2-3 feet of his body cleared the water," said Capt. Marshall.
BODEGA BAY - Wild and wooly winter fishing continues with regular limits of crabs, regular limits of rockfish and irregular limits of lingcod. Conditions remain ideal for fishing coastal hotspots within an easy run of harbor and consequently boats are busy ending the season with rockfish including an incredible 16-pound vermilion, lingcod to 14 pounds and pots full of crabs to choose from. Capt. Rick Powers of the New Sea Angler said, "Fishing was so good we were back to dock by noon or 1:00 p.m." a bigger swell on Sunday slowed the lingcod bite, but only for one day.
SAN RAFAEL - Sturgeon fishing turned on while striper fishing slowed this week. Keith Frazer of Loch Lomand Bait said, "Mud shrimp is the number one bait and ghost shrimp is number two." Frazer also reported that folks fishing nearby on skiffs were catching 6 to 10 sturgeon per boat between shakers and keepers. Local private skiff expert Gary Graw from Novato Tuesday caught one 70-incher and one 80-incher, releasing both off of China Camp. Fraser said, "Striper fishing slowed noticeably over the past few days."
EMERYVILLE - All boats from Emeryville Sportfishing Center headed to the Farallon Islands this week and found limit-style fishing on rockfish. Most were combo trips, which added limits of crabs to the mix. On Sunday the Captain Hook ran a rockfish/lingcod only trip which resulted in 22 passengers catching 22 limits of rockfish plus 24 lingcod to 15 pounds. Two other boats, the New Huck Finn and the New Seeker collectively had 52 anglers who caught 52 limits of rockfish and crabs. On Monday and Tuesday New Seeker went out with 28 passengers each day and found easy limits for all plus a couple of lingcod. "We'll be running right through the end of December," Said Craig Stone from the Center.
EUREKA - Big winter swells kept most boats in the harbor early in the week, though before the swells came up, crabbing was notably easy. Clamming activity waned while the big swells rolled in, but clammers eagerly awaited the end of the swells to dig for razors, which have been bigger than usual, though not quite as plentiful as during the summer months. The surf zone proved fair for red tail perch and jetty fishing remained good on both the inside and outside for rockfish, when swells allow for safe fishing. Michael Owens at Pacific Outfitters relayed a report from his friend Ronnie (no last name provided) who had good success Wednesday fishing Chinook salmon on the Smith River using spinning glow bugs adorned with yarn. Owens said, "Lots of those salmon are still chrome, which is a really good sign."
FORT BRAGG - Rockfish and lingcod season is closed so boaters are focusing primarily on Dungeness crabs and sand dabs, both of which are readily available. Area party boats are down for winter maintenance, though the Trek II hopes to be fishing next week for crabs, sand dabs and perhaps Humboldt squid. "Shore casters are doing very well on crabs and even on lingcod," said John Gebers of Noyo Fishing Center.
HALF MOON BAY - Boats are banging rockfish left and right, with good numbers of lingcod tossed in. On Tuesday the Queen of Hearts saw 24 people catch 24 lingcod along with 24 limits of rockfish. On the breakwater and pier, fishers are dropping hoops and casting snares, both baited with squid, for rock crab and Dungeness. "They are crabbing like crazy," said Sherry Ingles, owner of Half Moon Bay Sportfishing. Ingles also noted that surf fishers found good catches of surf perch through mid-week.
MARTINEZ - Sturgeon and striper fishing improved with ideal tides this week near the mothball fleet in Suisan Bay. "'Stripers readily bit grass shrimp baits while Salmon preferred roe," said Capt. Steve Talmadge on the Flash. Party boats and private boaters alike found good success on outgoing tides.
FEATHER RIVER - Steelhead fishing has tapered off on the riffles around Gridley because of high flows, but a few steelhead to 4 pounds are still being taken on egg patterns in the Low Flow Section.
FOLSOM LAKE - Bass are hunkered down and biting softly, if at all. Anglers' best odds for catching a few is to fish deep with plastics worked slowly over rockpiles containing concentrations of bait. The key is to use your electronics to find the bait. A few nice landlocked king salmon and trout were being caught on the main body and up in the North Fork on Speedy Shiners at 55 feet, spinners, Glow Tubes, and grubs behind dodgers and sling blades. Try different speeds and lures until you find a winning combination.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento - Salmon season has closed throughout the river, and the season, overall, was pretty good. Fishing in The Deep Water Channel, which had provided some fairly decent action on striped bass, slowed last week. A few were being caught from the bank off Jefferson and Marshall, on mudsuckers and bloodworms. Boaters were doing somewhat better by drifting minnows and jigging Duh spoons in the turning Basin. Some sturgeon are starting to show up, too.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding - Trout fishing continued to be excellent, with quite a few salmon still on spawning beds and fat rainbows lined up behind them picking up stray eggs. Bigger fish were being taken on the upper stretch of river from Redding to Anderson, while greater numbers but smaller trout were biting between Anderson and Balls Ferry. Glo-Bugs have continued to work well, but rubberlegs smaller nymphs like birds nests and Foxes Poopahs under indicators have also been scoring.
YUBA RIVER - While steelhead fishing in the Yuba has tapered off from its peak, some steelies were taken by fly fishers walking downstream from the Highway 20 Bridge.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE - The weather remained good, if not great for December and the bite has been very good for anglers in the know. Anglers willing to put up with cold mornings and patient enough to wait for the sunny and warm afternoons have had the best success. The catfish action has slowed down, with hardcore anglers coming up with a few fish per day, mostly drifting either live minnows or cut baits. Crappie are still mostly no shows.
LAKE BERRYESSA - Let the birds (grebes) and your electronics find the bait balls and then fish through them for bass and trout. The main body around Big Island, Wragg Canyon and Haines Creek have been holding good numbers of bait balls.
LAKE SONOMA - Gin clear water has made the bass fishing tough, but trolling flies, Needlefish, Apex and other shad imitations will help bring in your 2-fish landlocked steelie limit. For the tough bass bite, try shaking 6-inch Robo worms in natural colors around submerged structure. Once you locate a tree with bass in it, there usually is a school of them. In the early morning you can throw a swimbait or a LV500 for a reaction bite but with water temperatures dipping into the low 50s they are not as aggressive.
UPPER BLUE LAKE - Water temperatures are 52 degrees from top to bottom so the trout are getting a little sluggish. The fishing has been fair but anglers are hooking about 10 and catching maybe three as they are hitting light and anglers don't seem to be rigged up for that. Try small, 3-inch silver lures.
LAKE ALMANOR - Conditions have been great for fishing. Just outside the log boom at Rec. 2 there are several springs, a few of them quite large, and brown trout have been all over the place. Nightcrawlers with a garlic scent suspended 4 feet off the bottom worked, but not all of these fish have finished spawning, so roe has been a better choice for rainbow trout.
BAUM LAKE - Vaughn's Sporting Goods in Burney reported the lake is still fishing well. Fly fishermen are having some great days on midges. Try BWO's, copper Johns in red, callibaetis cripples or pt's. Excellent hatches have started again after a brief hiatus. Nightcrawlers are doing well, as are Kastmasters and Panther Martins.
EAGLE LAKE - Closes December 31 to all fishing.
PIT RIVER - According to The Fly shop in Redding, there has not been a lot of news to report here. Conditions are great and that typically means good fishing. The best bite should be mid day, but don't let that stop you from getting out there early! Consider giving this river a shot, once it rains, or snows, you'll have to look elsewhere.
SHASTA LAKE - There is still a hit or miss morning reaction bite for bass with topwater in 25 to 30 feet due to the gin clear water. As the day warms up, head back to the banks and try the shade pockets with worms or jigs. Shoreline fishing for trout has been good with a worm and a bobber but trolling continues to also produce limits.
BOCA LAKE - The lake is only one-half frozen over and the thickest ice is still unsafe for ice fishing. With the upper end of the lake still open, windy conditions could break up the ice on the lower end. The only fishing is from the shore at the inlet.
CAPLES LAKE - Caples Lake Resort reopened for the winter season on Dec. 19 and rooms became available on Dec. 23. The lake is completely frozen over and Resort owner John Voss said the ice was 5 to 6 inches thick. Lots of ice skaters, but few anglers reported as of yet. Ice fishing should be good if the ice skater activity isn't too intense-get out early.
CARSON RIVER (East) - Bitter cold nights had ice bridges 5 feet high formed over the river in spots according to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort. No one has been fishing.
DAVIS LAKE - Ice fishing was good at the dam according to Ed Dillard at Dillard's Guided Fishing. The ice was at least 5 inches thick and anglers were doing well on 15- to 16-inch rainbows using bright colored crappie tube jigs and Power Bait.
DONNER LAKE - Spoon and plug casters were picking up some small macks from the shore. Rainbow trout were hitting salmon eggs and inflated nightcrawlers at the west end piers.
FRENCHMAN LAKE - Wiggins Trading Post reported the lake had ice on it in the morning that was staying longer and longer each day along the east side of the lake. The west side was open and shore anglers were catching limits of 14- to 18-inch rainbows on nightcrawlers and marshmallows at Lunker Point and north of the boat ramp. The roads to and around the lake were open but icy-use caution and 4-wheel drive.
GOLD LAKES BASIN - Icy conditions made most roads to the lakes "4-wheel drive only". Not much happening here according to Bassetts Station.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR - As long as the weather stays nice, the trolling should remain great. Toplining dodger/worms or Sep's grub combos was still producing wide-open action. Watch out for ice on the road to the lake and especially on the boat ramp.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR - Extremely cold here with single-digit lows at night. No one has been fishing here with icy conditions on the roads, according to Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR - One last report from Mountain Hardware and Sports in Truckee, the lake was still accessible and shore fishing for nice rainbows was good. Watch out for icy road conditions.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) - Sly Park Resort reported good shore action for rainbows, 12 to 16 inches at the first dam, Narrows, and the Chimneys on Power Bait.
LAKE TAHOE - Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters reported slow fishing on his last trip. Windy, cold conditions made for tough trolling in deep water. His last trip produced 5 macks from 1 1/2 to 5 pounds on Sling Blade/Koke-a-nut combos at 300 to 350 feet deep.
LOON LAKE - The road has some problems with ice in shady sections that see little sunlight. On the last report from the Georgetown Ranger Station, the gate to the boat ramp was still open, but there could definitely be problems with ice on the ramp. You might want to put this lake on hold until spring.
PROSSER LAKE - The lake is frozen over and good for ice fishing. Get out early before the throngs of ice skaters show up-too much activity in the ice shuts down the trout bite. Try the dam, on the points and in the coves with nightcrawlers and Power Bait.
PYRAMID LAKE - Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported good trolling for cutts running 2 1/2 to 5 pounds, with some larger fish showing to 10 pounds, on blood frog FlatFish run 12 to 17 feet deep off the beaches and points on either end of the lake.
RED LAKE - Frozen over and ice fishermen were on the ice, but few reports were available. Fishing should be good.
SILVER LAKE - Frozen over and ice fishing should be good. The Sacramento Russian community fishermen rely on cocktail shrimp rigged on a crappie jig head-apparently with excellent results.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR - Trollers have been picking up some 10-pound plus Mackinaws working Sting Fish and J-Plugs from the boat ramp to the dam area at 20 feet deep.
TRUCKEE RIVER - The bitter cold has slowed the fishing in California, but the action is better on the Nevada side through Reno on BWO and midge dries. The Little Truckee is very low and clear. Fishing pressure has been very heavy and anglers need to bring their A-Game in order to fool these trout-they've seen everything and are very selective!!
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR - Pea Vine Ridge Road can get icy, so towing a boat to the lake can be challenging according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service. With bitter cold conditions forecast to continue, it's better to avoid the chance of getting stuck trying to get up here by depending on 4-wheel drive-a tow truck could be EXPENSIVE!!
AMADOR LAKE - Trout action is still right up at the top of Motherlode lakes, with limits of cutt-bows common and tagged derby fish offering a variety of prizes for lucky anglers. Lures and bait producing, with some excellent fly fishing success on black and purple Woolly Buggers. A tagged 10 pounder was caught early in the week.
CAMANCHE LAKE - Fish plants still keeping the trout bite going for catchable rainbows from the Mt. Lassen Hatchery, as well as adding extra trophy fish up to 8 pounds. Good numbers of the 'bows from 2 to 3 1/2 pounds have been caught on grubs, green or rainbow Power Bait at 5 t 10 feet. One local fisherman reported picking up some good fish casting small lures along the shoreline as he walks his dog mornings and evenings.
DON PEDRO RESERVOIR - Good trout action continues here. Fish still active in the top 10 to 12 feet close to shore. Try a slow troll with flasher/'crawler rigs using a side-planer. Monte Smith with Gold Country Sportfishing said this a good time to take the kids fishing. Lots of planter rainbows feeding near the top can really provide lots of action and fun for the young fishing folks.
LAKE MCCLURE - Local tournaments keep the bass bite stirred up with little slow down. Seth Cramlet at Barrett Cove Marina said biggest bass have been running around 4-1/2 pounds. Mostly a drop-shot bite. He said trout action has picked up, with most fish running from 3/4-pound to 1-pound. Trolling Wedding Rings at 20 to 40 feet has been working.
LAKE MCSWAIN - Dustin Grissom at Lake McSwain Marina said there haven't been a whole lot of fishermen on the lake lately. The lake has received the last fish plant of the year and the next plant is expected in early February. He said fishing from shore or trolling has been working.
NEW MELONES RESERVOIR - No lack of trout action here. Regular plants of hatchery catchables keeping the rainbow bite very good. Fish are generally being found anywhere from the surface down to 120 feet deep. Try casting Kastmasters and Krocodiles along the shoreline or trolling with Needlefish, Rapala and Excel spoons.
LAKE PARDEE - Closed for season.
AMERICAN RIVER - The river is very low and clear due to the cold dry weather. Not much fishing going on according to the Georgetown Ranger Station. Only open below Hwy 49.
BULLARDS BAR - Emerald Cove Marina reported that bass anglers were doing well on spotted bass. Bass anglers have been picking up lots of 3 to 4 pounders resulting in 15- to 18-pound limits. The best action has come on Senkos and swimbaits fished on points 20 to 30 feet deep.
CAMP FAR WEST - The lake level is still rising slowly, according to North Shore Resort. Bass fishing has been slow with only small fish reported. The few fish being caught came on jigs worked on the points at 20 to 30 feet deep.
COLLINS LAKE - The lake is scheduled to receive a big DFG trout plant this week. Kathy Hess at Collins Lake Resort reported good action on the small DFG planters which were running 6 to 10 inches-most anglers are just keeping the bigger fish. Power Bait and worms fished off the dam, beach, and docks were producing some big stringers for shore anglers.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR - Trolling in the marina remains very good for small DFG planters. Flasher/worm combos toplined between the houseboats produced consistent results. Trollers working the upper end of the lake at Boston Bar and Buck's Beach can catch some nice rainbows and browns up to 16 inches on flasher/worms or drifted bait.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR - The Foresthill Ranger Station reported that Mosquito Ridge Road to the lake was very icy and should be avoided. Icy conditions at the boat ramp were also expected to make launching dangerous.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR - The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake was open with a few icy spots. Few anglers have been venturing up here due to the very cold conditions and possible ice on the boat ramp.
LAKE OROVILLE - Oroville Outdoors reported that bass action has been hit-or-miss. Some anglers were finding active fish on isolated balls of smelt from the shore down to 40 feet deep. On windy days, there has been a decent rip bite producing bigger fish. Jigs, up to 1-ounce, in green pumpkin/brown or tubes fished down the points at the mouth of the Middle Fork, South Fork, either side of the cove going into the dam, and up in the Slot produced the most consistent action. 15- to 16-inch coho salmon were still chasing isolated balls of bait-from shallow to deep. Trollers running Sling Blade/hoochies were doing best at 60 feet at the mouth of the Middle Fork. Casters were catching some salmon on Kastmasters, Humdingers, and Cripplures at Kelly Ridge and Goose Island-the better fish have been shallow.
ROLLINS LAKE - The lake is low and launching has been a problem-at last report, Orchard Springs still had a usable ramp. Trout trolling was slow, but few anglers were getting out giving it a try.
SCOTT'S FLAT LAKE - Trollers were picking up some nice 15- to 16-inch rainbows working from the Cascade Shores ramp toward the spillway at 10 feet deep with flasher/worm combos or woolly buggers, according to Jim Caldwell at Scott's Flat Lake Resort.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR - The Foresthill Ranger Station reported good access to the lake facilities, just few anglers using them.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR - The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that trollers were still catching some holdover planters on flasher/worm combos.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY - Oroville Outdoors reported that most anglers were staying off the lake due to the cold weather and the presence of duck hunters. Apparently it gets too crowded for both fishermen and duck hunters to safely share the lake.
- Western Outdoor News