AMERICAN RIVER - Anglers found some of the best steelhead fishing in many years last week for bright winter steelhead weighing up to 15 pounds. A high percentage had intact adipose fins meaning they were naturally spawned in the river, and must be released unharmed. Remember, barbless hooks are required, too. While the stretch of river upstream of Sunrise Avenue. held the most fish, fishing pressure was heavy. However, plenty of nice steelies were being farther downstream where pressure has been almost non-existent at times. They are being caught on flies, such as alevin imitations either swung or on the dead-drift. Egg patterns, psycho prince nymphs, and San Juan worms were also attracting bites. Roe and nightcrawlers, either side-drifted or worked behind divers, back-trolled Hot Shots and Brads Wigglers, and small jigs under floats were all attracting bite. Flows were 2,500 cfs.
DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER side - Stripers and sturgeon in the system have not been very willing to bite, but as the water warms up a little it has improved some. There have also been catfish and spotted bass reports.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side - Weather has still been an issue. Except for the sturgeon anglers coaxed outside, there were few reports. There were 20 sturgeon that came within legal limits at the Diamond Classic. Many reported lost fish due to the new barbless hook law. Collinsville and Broad Slough provided some protected areas to fish. Discovery Bay provided the crappie.
SACRAMENTO RIVER - Sturgeon fishing picked up nicely downstream of Sacramento, but was still slow upstream of Verona, due to, according to knowledgeable anglers, cold water. Merritts Landing was definitely a hot spot. Verona was producing a few sturgeon, too, mostly on ghost shrimp. Striped bass really turned on in the Turning Basin of the Port of Sacramento. Fish being caught were larger on average than the usual schoolie-sized bass and many were in the 8- to 10-pound range. There was even a 40-pound monster reportedly taken. Mudsuckers, shad and bloodworms were scoring for bank fishermen while boaters were scoring on jigs, deep-diving plugs and live jumbo minnows.
PYRAMID LAKE (Nevada) - George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported that trolling was pretty decent with the water temp at 39 to 42 degrees. On his last trip he caught 15 cutthroats from under 17 inches to 22 inches that included 4 keepers between 17 and 20 inches. He was trolling Apex lures 25 feet deep over 40 feet of water on the south end of the lake. Crosbys Lodge reported two big cutthroats caught by fly fishermen. Robert Black landed an 18 pounder at the North Nets on a black fly, while Matt Lyons netted a 14-pound, 10-ounce cutt at Warrior Point that hit a camouflage fly. Crosbys Lodge hosts the 26th annual Presidents Day Fishing Derby on Feb. 9-10 and Feb. 16-17. $80 entry with a boat, motor, trailer for first place. Call (775) 476-0400 for info.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Ore. - According to Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures, the Chetco was running dirty on Thursday but had dropped into shape by Friday. Solid scores were logged from the lower river with boats finding most of the action from the North Fork down. As of Saturday morning, the river was dirty again, but didnt rise much. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing fished it Sunday and said it came up to 5,000 cfs but is now dropping. It was down to 3,230 this evening, he said on Sunday. The Chetco has been fishing well on the upper end the past two days and today fished well on the lower end. Lots of new fish came in with the rain. A handful of downrunners have shown up in the catch the past couple of days, but the majority of the fish are still chrome and fresh from the ocean. Most boats caught two to four fish on Sunday.
EEL RIVER, South Fork/Main Stem - Guide Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures has spent most of the last 3 weeks on the Eel River and said the bite has really been fantastic. He said the South Fork gave up some great action and the bite just kept getting better as the river dropped and they were able to get onto the Main Stem. At the peak of the action they were hooking 10 to 15 steelhead a day with double hookups not uncommon. Rain on Wednesday brought the river up a bit and gave it some color, but with the dry weather in the extended forecast it looks as though it wont be out for long. The South Fork Eel is already back in and wont be long before the Main follows, he said.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove - The Fishin Hole, reported that there hasnt been much rain so the river is in good shape, and it has been good for steelhead. Plus, they lowered flows from the dam. One guide boated 5 steelies one day this past week, and 8 another day.
RUSSIAN RIVER - Kings Sport and Tackle said that everyone is catching steelhead here, and theyre all up and down the river, top to bottom. Flows were 900 cfs with 2 feet of visibility on Sunday, and plugs are best with the colored water. Kwikfish and Brads Wiggle Wart are bringing in fish from 4 to 10 pounds. Anyone who knows what theyre doing will probably catch a fish or two, was the promising report.
SMITH RIVER - Guide Tony Sepulveda fished it last week and said the Smith rose to 12 feet on the upper gauge and a fresh blast of fish came in with it. The action wasnt red hot for boats drifting up at the forks, but plunkers did well on the lower river and the sonar counts showed a big push of fish on the way. The river drops out quickly, so call before heading up.
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore. - According to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service, the river height is teetering on the edge of being too high for fishing from driftboats and water temperature is still in the mid-30s, so there hasnt been much fishing. Warmer weather found its way inland just before the weekend and so did the rains. This warm rain is going to help anglers catch steelhead when flows settle down. The river blew out and it will take a week before fishing from driftboats. Jet boat fishing on anchor with plugs can be very successful once the river level starts to drop.
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Roseburg, Ore. - The steelhead were sluggish and not wanting to move for baits the beginning of last week. Consistently making the baits cover the same piece of water multiple times was the best way to get a steelhead to bite. Fishing was very slow the first part of the week, but not as slow as many other rivers. Constant rains the last few days of the week blew the river out of shape, but will warm the river some for next week when it falls back into fishing condition, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork; Myrtle Creek, Ore. - Fishing for steelhead was spotty at the beginning of last week. Guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets said there were reports of a couple fish being caught on some sections of the long river, but other drifts didnt report any steelhead being caught. By now the entire river should have fish holding in it. The extreme cold water is keeping the fish from moving much. Hopefully, the recent storm will help to resolve the difficulties that come from near freezing river conditions.
KLAMATH RIVER - The Klamath River has been very cold for most of the month, so fly fishing for steelhead has been challenging. Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service said the secret to success has been to fish very slowly with bait, primarily nightcrawlers and occasionally roe. He said that his son caught a nice 5-pound steelie by letting his bait sit on the bottom for awhile. The river was fishable down to around Happy Camp, but high downstream from there.
TRINITY RIVER, Douglas City - The river warmed a bit, finally, and the recent rain put some color in it and raised it. It was fishable down to Pigeon Point but high and off-color below the North Fork, according to Steve Huber of Steve Hubers Guide Service. Instead of one to three steelhead an outing when it was so cold, anglers were getting four to six steelhead an outing on flies like golden stonefly nymphs, backtrolled plugs and side-drifted roe. The fish were a mix of downrunners and bright new arrivals.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE - Dont be fooled by the big bags weighed in at tourneys lately, as its tougher than it looks. But find the schools and youll have better luck. Anglers should look for fish in the 10- to 20-foot range around deeper rock ledges and points. Start in the mid-section of the lake where the water is a bit clearer and then branch out from there.
LAKE BERRYESSA - Bass are responding to dropshot rigs and Carolina rigs on outside points with shad colored worms. Follow the birds to find the bait and trout. They have been hitting shad from the surface down to 25 feet.
LAKE SONOMA - The waters are still stained but a few bass from 2 to 4 pounds are biting jigs, Brush Hawgs and other plastics in and around standing timber and brush piles. The trick is to slow down. For land-locked steelhead its better to wait until the water clears.
LAKE ALMANOR - Now that the lake is open in the East basin thanks to melted ice, anglers found trout in the top 15 feet and many jumpers. A few bank anglers tried their luck from Canyon Dam but not many takers were reported. Look for improved conditions and fishing as the waters warm up a bit.
BAUM LAKE - Anglers are reporting some nice, big rainbows in good numbers but the bite has been inconsistent.
CASSEL FOREBAY - Closed until further notice for repairs. All water has been drained into the natural creek channel that flows into Baum Lake in order to work on structure repairs in the canal. The section above the canal near the post office is fishing well but does not accommodate a lot of fishermen. Theres been no indication as to when repairs may be completed or when the fore bay may reopen.
EAGLE LAKE - Closed on Dec. 31.
PIT RIVER - The waters were getting better but snow runoff has muddied it up again with Pit no. 3 providing the best action, Pit no. 4 has been high and muddy.
SHASTA LAKE - The lake is shaping up better and the bass bite better for numbers and a few more big fish. In the mornings when its cold try Senkos and 5- to 6-inch tubes for a bunch of smaller fish. Once the afternoon sun has warmed things up the larger fish will be up, so toss bigger stuff like swimbaits or A-rigs. The bass are eating crawdads so use shad or brown colors. The trout are getting hungry but dont waste your time in the upper reaches or your spend your trolling time cleaning lines. Watch for debris as it is now scattered everywhere.
BERKELEY - Perch fishing was off the hook this week at Berkeley pier and Point Molate. Flounders continued to gulp pile worms, chunks of anchovies and grass shrimp in calm-water coves along the shoreline. Stripers bit in the strong water flows of the rivers.
BODEGA BAY - Surf perch bit at Doran beach and rockfish chewed baits near Fort Ross. Crab fishing remained strong with the New Sea Angler getting into them. Many locals headed for the Russian River where steelhead fishing turned on.
EMERYVILLE - Emeryville Sportfishing shut down last week for winter maintenance, but is back to business and ready for action now.
EUREKA - Weather windows allowed crabbers to cast snares from the jetty and along the shore for decent counts of crabs, although a very pesky harbor seal made it difficult to keep hanging bait. Surf fishers hooked into a variety of perch using pile worms and pieces of shrimp or prawn. Jetty anglers cast squid baits into the rocks for mostly smaller rockfish.
FORT BRAGG - Good visibility and good spearfishing kept divers busy near Fort Bragg. Lingcod to 20 pounds were reported to Subsea Progression Dive Shop. Other divers brought up scallops. Surf fishers found the perch bite to be decent on days when surf conditions allowed them to fish safely.
HALF MOON BAY - Jetty fishers scored well on rockfish up to 6 pounds. Perch were also willing biters from the jetty and local beaches. Snares tangled decent numbers of crabs both at Half Moon Bay and Pacifica where perch also bit well and a few rockfish were taken below town.
MARTINEZ/BENICIA - The Diamond Classic Derby went off extremely well, with plenty of sturgeon caught. Both sturgeon and striped bass bit for boaters near the Mothball Fleet and both species were also caught from the pier. Benicia anglers worked the Mothball Fleet for sturgeon and stripers. Local quiet-water coves along the shoreline filled up with hungry flounder which enthusiastically bit pile worms. Happy Hooker is scheduled to be back to fishing Feb. 2.
OYSTER POINT - Perch, smelt and the beginnings of a leopard shark bite stirred excitement among pier anglers. Deeper in the South Bay a concentration of hungry sturgeon near Point San Bruno kept shore anglers baiting up with ghost shrimp and casting. Boaters hooked some but mostly brought up numerous kingfish.
PORT SONOMA/SAN RAFAEL - Sturgeon, striped bass and flounder were all available, but anglers had to know where to find each species. Stripers and flounders fed in the river systems, especially the Petaluma and Napa rivers. Sturgeon fishing was best in the Sturgeon Triangle on San Pablo Bay.
AMADOR LAKE - Debbie Grayson at Lake Amador Store said the trout bite has been good with lots of limits. There was an 11-pound trout caught last week on a Kastmaster. A limit of fish caught with the biggest at 6 pounds on a gold spoon. There have been no bass reports, except one accidentally caught by a trout fisherman trolling. No crappie reports, but there are several night fishermen at the boat house with tight lips.
CAMANCHE LAKE - Mt. Lassen Trout delivered 1200 pounds to the North shore ramp. The lake level is still rising steadily due to the winter rains and snow in the Sierras said Stephanie Wells Lead Reservationist at Camanche Recreation Company. Toplining lures is still the way to go.
DON PEDRO RESERVOIR - The black bass bite is tough. Drop-shotting crawdad or shad pattern style worms will work. There is a good bite in the lake for trout 5 to 15 feet deep. The trout are hitting Speedy Shiners, Excels and Needlefish trolling 2 to 3 miles an hour. Some anglers up at Moccasin Creek area trolling the river channel from the Jacksonville Bridge to the 120 Bridge were catching trout and salmon on anchovies from 85 to 100 feet deep.
LAKE MCCLURE - The trout bite is good trolling flashers and crawlers down by the dam said Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling. Bass fishing is good with minnows off the bank and back in Cottonwood fished 20 to 40 feet deep. 9- and 6-pound bass were caught last week by fishermen pre-fishing for a tournament throwing Huddleston and S-Waves swimbaits. There is a fair crappie and catfish bite in Barretts Cove at night on minnows.
LAKE MCSWAIN - There was a trout plant by DF&W. Trout action is good from the banks near the Brush Pile or Handicap Dock. Anglers are using chartreuse doe bait, white Power Bait in garlic and Power Eggs. Kastmasters in silver and silver-blue have been one of the better lures to throw or troll with... Trolling has been only fair with some anglers only catching a couple fish a rod but they were in the 2-pound class.
NEW MELONES RESERVOIR - Trout fishing is fair with DF&W planting rainbow trout weekly. Trolling anglers should target major coves and creek arms, with baits trolled near the surface toplining 150-200-feet behind the boat. Bank fishing and stillfishing from a boat has produced the most fish. Bass fishing is tough. They are feeding on main lake points throughout the day. But, with such cold water they will feed a lot less than normal due to a slower metabolism. Now is a good time to fish finesse style presentations, such as a drop-shot rigs said Melanie Lewis at Glory Hole Sports.
MODESTO RESERVOIR - The reservoir has been dropping daily. It is getting dangerous for anyone that doesnt fish the reservoir regular. Even the hunters that are there daily are now scraping bottom with their lower units in areas they used to motor around easily in. Fishing is still slow for bass, but the trout are there in schools and anglers who run into them from their boat or bank are catching a few.
FOLSOM LAKE - Guides Big John Enos and Jerry Lampkin of TNG Motorsport Guide Service reported good trout fishing last week at Folsom Lake. An occasional landlocked king salmon weighing up to 2 pounds was caught, but most trout were planter-sized. They were taken on Speedy Shiners, top-lined Rapalas with a little Pro Cure, and white Radica Glo Tubes behind dodgers down to 30 feet. Most of the action is occurring on the main body. Some bass were being caught, mostly drop-shotting Robo-Worms in minnow patterns over submerged rock piles, rocky banks, and points.
FEATHER RIVER - A few striped bass were still being caught at Shanghai Bend and downstream from there, especially at Boyds Pump, on cut bait, swimbaits, and plastic worms, but no big ones. Fishing for steelhead in the Low Flow Section was still pretty good with the best action higher up, close to the hatchery. Non-fly fishermen were drifting nightcrawlers and swinging spinners, while fly fishers dead-drifted egg patterns, San Juan Worms, red copper Johns, and psycho prince nymphs under indicators.
RANCHO SECO LAKE - Regular plants have been helping to sustain some pretty good fishing for nice rainbows from 12 inches to 3 pounds. Power Bait, inflated nightcrawlers, spoons and spinners were all attracting bites. Boaters (no gasoline engines allowed) were trolling leeches, wooly buggers, Needlefish, and nightcrawlers behind dodgers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding - Trout fishing continued to be very good, with fly fishers doing well on dead-drifted egg patterns, alevin imitations, prince nymphs and copper Johns, and non-fly fishers scoring on Glo-Bugs and small Hot Shots.
YUBA RIVER - Dry fly fishing with Skwala stone fly imitations was outstanding once again last week. Nymphs under indicators were doing well, too.
BULLARDS BAR - The lake is at 75-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi hit the lake this past week and his clients caught 15 fish--half were 1 pounders and the rest spread out from 2 to 5 pounds. Gandolfi used live minnows and drop-shot 6-inch worms on points all over the lake at 20 to 40 feet deep on points to pick up the spots. He knew another angler who caught three 7 pounders on live bait. Fish slow!
CAMP FAR WEST - The lake is still full but clearing. A tournament this past weekend was won with 11 pounds--anglers reported catching lots of small fish on worms and jigs.
COLLINS LAKE - The lake is full. Trout fishing is good with most anglers catching at least 2 or 3 fish with some limits seen. The big fish of the week was a 6 1/2-pound rainbow taken by Dennis Milligan on Power Bait at the Open Area. One boat reported catching 8 bass on plastic worms.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR - The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Dillon Davis at Skippers Cove Marina reported that trollers were picking up limits of rainbows from 9 to 13 inches on flasher/worm combos from Long Cove to the marina. Boaters heading up past the No-Wake buoys and anchoring were doing well on Gulp! fished 2 to 3 feet up off the bottom for 1- to 1 1/2-pound rainbows and browns.
LAKE OROVILLE - The lake is at 75-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that fishing was still good for bass using swimbaits, jigs, finesse jig/worms, worm-head Senkos, and drop-shot worms, but the presentation had to be slow with the water temp ranging from 42 to 46 degrees. The bite has been very light - just a little weight on the line or weightlessness if the fish picks up the bait and swims toward you. Gandolfi said that 15 to 20 fish was a good day, and 20 to 30 fish meant a great day in the West Branch, North Fork, and the Slot.
ROLLINS LAKE - The lake is full and murky green. A.J. Harris at Long Ravine Resort reported that fishing was very slow with the few boaters that went out seeing little or no success. Casey Reynolds of Auburn took his 6-year-old daughter, Josie, out this past week and she caught a 14-inch rainbow off the shore on a bobber/worm.
SCOTT'S FLAT LAKE - The few boaters out were still picking up some rainbows trolling at the dam and Cascade Shore with flasher/worm combos.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR - The Foresthill Ranger Station said the road to the boat ramp was open, but no one had been fishing.
STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR - The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake was too icy to get to there - the campground hosts turned around it was so bad.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY - The lake was at 130-foot elevation at press time - 64-percent capacity. Steelhead fishing has been okay at the Wilbur Road access - the DWR recently released 5000 small steelies, according to Oroville Outdoors. One bass boat went out this past week and got skunked, according to guide Ron Gandolfi - the water was too cold!
BOCA LAKE - The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Not much change here, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. The road is open to the dam and ice fishing is productive using worms, Power Bait, small tube jigs, and Kastmaster spoons in 10 to 12 feet of water. Try a bay shrimp on a tube jig just to see what happens.
CAPLES LAKE - John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported there was 12 to 18 inches of ice and a foot of snow on the lake this past week. Ice fishing was good at the spillway for anglers using bay shrimp.
CARSON RIVER (East) - Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported that the river was still 50- to 70-percent frozen over and virtually unfishable. It was snowing when WON called on Sunday morning
DAVIS LAKE - The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillards Guided Fishing reported that ice fishing was still hit-or-miss at the dam, but better at Mallard Point. Anglers at Mallard can drive in on Grizzly Road but have to walk up to 1/4-mile to get to the water - its easy on hard snow in the morning, but tough in the afternoon when it gets soft. Power Bait, tube jigs tipped with a Berkley Waxee, and woolly buggers tipped with Power Bait were all working at 12 feet deep for rainbows running 15 to 18 inches.
DONNER LAKE - Windy conditions this past week broke up the ice that had formed on the lake opening up the shorelines again. Fishing is slow for rainbows using worms, salmon eggs, and Power Bait anywhere you can access the shore.
FRENCHMAN LAKE - The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that ice fishermen were catching limits of 12- to 14-inch rainbows on worms and jigs from 18 to 30 feet deep under 10 to 12 inches of ice at the dam.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR - The lake is at 59-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser reported it was snowing on Sunday when WON called and said the road to the lake would be too icy for safe travel until it had a chance to warm up.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR - Todd Sodaro at the Carson River Resort reported there was still 8 to 12 inches of snow on the road to the lake and only snowmobilers had accessed the lake in recent days.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) - Sly Park Resort reported that fishing was okay at the first dam where shore anglers were picking up a few rainbows and an occasional mack. Ricky Ishman caught a 4-pound, 6-ounce mack at the dam on Power Bait this past Sunday.
LAKE TAHOE - The weather was poor this past week with a mix of rain and snow. Mickey Daniels at Big Mack Charters went out with one client and caught 5 or 6 macks to 7 pounds. On another trip with 8 clients, they lost 10 or 11 fish and wound up only landing 3 fish - the fish were biting very light and hard to keep on from 350 to 375 feet deep. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners reported that he was doing well trolling for macks and trout at South Shore. On his last trip he caught 6 macks from 2 to 5 pounds trolling Storm ThunderSticks at 160 to 200 feet deep then switched to shallow water and caught several browns and rainbows from 1 to 2 pounds. Rick Kennedy at Tight Lines Guide Service hit the lake with his 7-year-old granddaughter, Brooke, and she caught a 10 1/2-pound brown on 8-pound test on a kokanee rod rigged with a Bass Pro XPS Speed Minnow near Cave Rock.
PROSSER LAKE - The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the point between Alder Creek and Prosser Creek and the end of the dam toward the inlet where deeper water prevailed were the best spots for ice fishing. Power Bait, worms, small tube jigs, and Kastmaster spoons were producing in 10 to 12 feet of water.
RED LAKE - Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters was scheduling trips to the dam to fish for cutthroats using a mix of worms and jigged Kastmaster spoons.
SILVER LAKE - Ice fishing was productive at the dam for fishermen using a variety of baits and lures including worms, Power Bait, bay shrimp, and Kastmaster spoons.
TOPAZ LAKE - Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported that the lake was still frozen over and fishing had pretty much come to a standstill. A group of 60 people with 27 boats showed up for a private derby and couldnt launch their boats. They found a small section of open water along the shore on the east side of the lake and caught 8 rainbows from 1/2 to 1 1/4 pounds from the bank on worms and Power Bait. It was snowing when WON called on Sunday morning.
TRUCKEE RIVER - Cold water and snowy treks have reduced the pressure on the river. Diehards using size 20 to 26 baetis and midge nymphs can catch a fish or two if they hit the fish on the nose with the fly, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters reported a little better action on the same flies in the Reno-Sparks area.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR - The lake is at 68-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the ramp at the dam (Pea Vine Ridge Road) was open and shore anglers were catching some planter rainbows using Power Bait earlier this past week. A mid-week storm dumped more snow on the area and Ken Mathis at Kens Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported that the road was very icy - wait for warmer weather to clear the road.
-Western Outdoor News