Top Picks• FEATHER RIVER – Steelheading was very good, once again, for steelies from 2 to 5 pounds, but flows are so low only waders or anglers in driftboats or small aluminum boats can work the river. Almost any riffle throughout the Low Flow Section and down to Gridley holds steelhead. Drift Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers, and swing spinners if you are spin fishing. Fly fishers are still scoring on egg patterns, but nymphs imitating alevins are doing better and better as the number of spawning salmon dies off.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento – Salmon fishing was up-and-down, but more down as fewer schools passed through the area. Trolling Clarksburg and Garcia Bend with Kwikfish offered the best odds. Fishing for stripers was very good once again in the Deep Water Channel for boaters trolling, jigging, or drifting minnows. Bankies were scoring on bloodworms and sardines. A few sturgeon were being caught, too.
• DELTA REGION, Sacramento River side – Sturgeon have migrated throughout the river system, and the best action has been in lower Suisun Bay near Roe/Ryer Island and the Mothball Fleet. An occasional diamondback is taken in the Pittsburg area, but the mass of fish holding in the deep water have spread out. The colder water temperatures have slowed the striper bite, and anglers are advised to set hook instead of waiting for the linesides to run. A few bright salmon continue to move through the river with trollers near Clarksburg finding solid action.
• DELTA REGION, San Joaquin River side – The striper bite has slowed down with the temperatures moving into the 50-degree range, and the linesides are expected to show up in the back sloughs in either the north or south Delta. Crappie action with live minnows in Discovery Bay has been excellent with slabsides to 2-pounds reported on large minnows. Fresh shad is still available in the area bait shops, and it is anticipated to hold out for a few more weeks until the baitfish drop too deep for the shadders to corral. Largemouth bass fishing is solid with ripbaits with an irregular retrieve.
• AMADOR LAKE – Fishing for trout is great but catfish and bass are slower. Debbie Grayson at Lake Amador Store said, “We just started the Annual Trout Derby on Nov. 30 and it will run until Feb. of 2014.” There were 150 tagged trout released for the event. Saturday one angler won 2 nights stay at the lake. There were 1,200 pounds of trout planted in the lake last week for anglers to catch. White Power Grubs has been the best lure to use but blue-silver Kastmasters and Uncle Larry’s spinners are catching a few.
• CAMANCHE LAKE – This past week was a fantastic week for fishing. Trout was the most popular catch but there were some great catches of bass and catfish. Last week we had a record catfish come in from the pond. Cha Vang of Sacramento reeled in a 17.32-pound catfish using salmon eggs as bait. Trout are closer to the surface and more anglers are catching them on white crappie jigs, salmon eggs and lures.
NORTH COAST RIVERS• CHETCO RIVER, Ore. – The salmon run on the Chetco is always short-lived, and it’s on a definite wind down, but steelhead have already made an early showing. So far it’s mostly halfpounders with a few adults in the mix, but the prime time here is mid-December through February, so it’s coming up quick, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Guide are getting 8 to 12 halfpounders and at least one adult a day.
• ELK AND SIX RIVERS, Port Orford, Ore. – Both rivers have been low and clear. A couple boats a day have been working them, but have no reports of salmon being caught, according to guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. The upcoming storm should pull remaining bright fish up these rivers. “I would think Friday should be good fishing either river. That is just my prediction, so please always investigate further,” said Palmer.
• SMITH RIVER – Lack of rain as of Sunday had the year low and clear, and almost too low to drift, but hopefully that will change with this week’s front moving through, but it doesn’t look too wet. “The salmon are few and far between, but there are a few groups of them,” said guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. “Other guides and I have seem them in the fast shallow water.”
• UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore. – The lower you go on the Umpqua River the better your opportunities for catching multiple steelhead, according to guide Curtis Palmer. Sheep Shed was the HOT SPOT last week, and will be for this season. It is not far from the town of Elkton. Information and shuttles can be found at Arlene’s in Elkton, and ask for Darryl, as he is what I categorize as “local knowledge.” I am reluctant however to fish that area myself this next week, as the steelhead don’t seem to be traveling a bunch with the colder temperatures. There's not a lot of pressure, so you’ll pretty much have the river to yourself. Jody Smith caught a hawg last week and they say it was 18 pounds of magnificent chrome. I fished near Tyee this last weekend and even though we didn’t catch any fish, there are a few fish up even higher in the river than. The river is projected to blow out Thursday and then drop back into shape fast, and could very well fish by Saturday. First part of following week should be good with steelhead moving much better.
• UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore. – The river is very low, at only 2.3 feet near the Winchester bridge, according to guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer. There are still coho being caught at the Narrows and Rock Creek Pool. “I am surprised that there were more coho caught this last week than two weeks ago,” Palmer said. “To make things sound even more inviting, two more hatchery coho were caught Thanksgiving week.” Steelhead are holding in ripples and other moving water, and this is a good time to fish for them. Cold mornings and sluggish fish could mean time to change from normal tactics while fishing for them, under the current conditions. My suggestion box says spoons could be a good option.
TRINITY/KLAMATH RIVERS• KLAMATH RIVER, Weitchpec – The mid-Klamath from the mouth of Iron Gate Dam provided decent steelheading once again with anglers managing to attract several hookups of fish to about 5 pounds daily. Spin fishermen were scoring on drifted nightcrawlers and Blue Fox spinners while fly fishers were drifting small nymphs like red copper Johns, prince nymphs, and golden stones under indicators. Cold water and air temps are slowing down both fishermen and fish.
• TRINITY RIVER – Just as almost everyone had given up on the fall salmon run, a surprise new batch of fresh Chinooks went through the Willow Creek Weir last week and was starting to show up at Del Loma toward the end of the week. Meanwhile, steelheading continued to be challenging, but patient, hardworking anglers were managing up to four hookups an outing on nice, but smallish, steelhead an outing. Most of the pressure has been around Junction City, since that is where the steelhead are concentrated, in deep holes waiting for rain to put water into tributaries. Another factor anglers have to contend with to deal with in addition to low clear flows was the big drop in air and water temperatures.
NORTH COAST LAKES• CLEAR LAKE – The best bet has been to stay below the narrows where there was plenty of clearer water. Catching fish on live bait, the number of fish caught was down but big fish were averaging 5 pounds. Reaction baits and plastics did okay, but covering a lot of water was required. So cover water, slow down on the water you do cover, and stay in the Rattlesnake and Redbud arms. As the temperatures dropped the catfish bite slowed some.
• LAKE BERRYESSA – There has been very little fishing pressure here, but shad imitation lures have been the best bets for trout. Finding birds feeding on bait was still a good way to locate the bait. A downrigger 20 feet down was the best depth throughout the day. You can also use your electronics to find the bait for bass. Bass are deeper off points in the main body to the Narrows.
• LAKE SONOMA – The Warm Springs arm held some nice largemouth bass to 3 pounds in 15 - 20 feet of water on a dropshot Robo worm and a wacky rigged Senko. The landlocked steelhead fishing was very good from the mouth of Yorty Creek to the Narrows and down around the “No Ski” buoys. Topline trolling flies, Needlefish, Humdingers and other shad pattern lures.
• BAUM LAKE – The fishing has been fair to great on this lake thanks to the midge hatches.
• EAGLE LAKE – In the shallows on rocky points has been very good. Now that the low water dock has been pulled, access points on both the east and west sides by cars or walk in. You can bait, jig or flyfish. The shoreline will continue to be a great option for the rest of the season.
• PIT RIVER – From Nov. 16 through the Friday proceeding the last Saturday in April only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Fishing has been good especially in the afternoon.
• SHASTA LAKE – No need for a boat here as the trout have been hanging out at the Centemudi launch ramp and anglers are finding limits from the bank. Tons of bass are also available, just don’t expect to find any big ones. They are all chasing shad.
SIERRA LAKES/RIVERS• BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 20-percent capacity. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that anglers concentrating on the drop-off at the inlet were picking up a mix of browns and rainbows. Fishing at the dam was good, too.
• CAPLES LAKE – No change here - the resort and boat ramps are closed, but with the very cold weather ice has surely been forming in the shallows. A cold front forecast for this week will bring very low temps to the high mountains guaranteeing ice on the lakes.
• CARSON RIVER (East) – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that flyfishing was productive in the late morning after it warmed up on the first mile or so below Hangman’s Bridge on small nymphs. A bitter cold front was forecast for this week that will most likely shut down the flyfishing.
• DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that cold night temps were causing ice formation in the coves and on upper end of the lake at Fairview and Mosquito Slough. The Camp 5 boat ramp could be iced over, so call ahead to Dillard at (530) 966-5500, or the Grizzly Store at (530) 832-0270. Trollers were picking up a few fish on Dick Nite spoons and woolly buggers at 10 feet deep at the island. Shore anglers were still able to fish at Mallard using Power Bait and inflated nightcrawlers. A bitter cold front was in the forecast for this week and ice will definitely be a factor by the weekend -call ahead.
• DONNER LAKE – Mountain Hardware and Sports said that the rainbow trout fishing was good from the middle of the lake to the west end boat launch area. Small macks were hitting Krocadile spoons and large Rapalas cast near the boat rap and west end beach.
• FEATHER RIVER CANYON – Butt Valley Reservoir is at 88-percent capacity. Not much traffic here with winter cold setting in.
• FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that shore fishing was good at Lunker Point for rainbows using Power Bait and inflated nightcrawlers. Trollers were on the north end of the lake using flasher/worm combos. Call ahead about ice formation in light of the cold front forecast for this week at (530) 993-4683.
• GOLD LAKES BASIN – Bitter cold temps slowed fishing pressure to a standstill and more cold weather was forecast for this week. You might see ice forming by the weekend.
• ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 56-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported that cold temps were causing road icing and the big cold front forecast for this week was only going to make things worse. For safety’s sake, stay out of the area until it warms up - then again maybe it won’t.
• INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Alpine County stocked the lake this past week near the north dam and anglers were picking up some nice fish on Power Bait and worms.
• JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR – The lake is at 47-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that no reports had come in about this lake - it’s typically slow this time of year before winter weather closes the road to the lake.
• JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) – Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported that shore anglers were still picking up planter rainbows at the first dam on Power Bait and worms.
• LAKE TAHOE – Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported “off the chart” action on morning trips and good action on the afternoon trips trolling for macks at 45 to 350 feet deep from Crystal Bay to Tahoe City using spoons, Tasmanian Devils, and stickbaits. The keepers were running 3 to 9 pounds, and he was releasing lots of smaller fish. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported that ice formation in the Tahoe Keys at South Shore had forced him to start launching at Cave Rock. Mack jigging was good off South Shore for 2- to 5-pound fish using Williamson jigs at 150 feet deep. In the shallows, browns and rainbows to 3 1/2 pounds were hitting rainbow trout CD-7 Scatter Raps.
• LOON LAKE – The lake is at 48-percent capacity. With icy road conditions, this lake is pretty much done until spring - last report until then.
• PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports said the dam was the place to fish for rainbows using Power Bait and worms.
• PYRAMID LAKE – Cutthroat numbers were down but the quality was amazing with 20- and 21-pound trout weighed in this past week. The smallest fish weighed by Crosby’s Lodge was a 10 pounder. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported that his Eagle Eye 2 boat operated by John Opio scored on a 20-pound 6-ounce Lahontan landed by 12-year-old Brett McVeigh of Reno. The fish hit a FlatFish trolled on the bottom at 20 feet deep at Popcorn. The fish was weighed, photographed, and released unharmed. The big fish of the season was the 21 1/4 pounder caught by James Trinkkeller of Roseville at Spider Point on a spoon. Joe Mendes put a client on a 12 pounder trolling a FlatFish at Indian Head - the SW end of the lake has been HOT! Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported that as the water temp dropped, the fish would get even bigger and in range of the flyfishermen lined up on the west side beaches with close access to the drop-offs.
• RED LAKE – Ice was forming around the edges - wait until Christmas when the ice is safe for icefishing.
• SILVER LAKE – The lake level was down to the point where launching was a problem and now ice will be forming in the shallows as the temp drops this week with a big cold front in the forecast. It's probably best to wait until the icefishing season begins around Christmas.
• STAMPEDE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that one angler had caught 90 rainbows using salmon roe in the Sagehen arm fishing off the shore in shallow water over the past two weeks, mostly catch-and-release. The rainbows were quality fish in the 18- to 20-inch range. Trollers were picking up some nice macks at the dam on Kwikfish and Lyman lures.
• TRUCKEE RIVER – Fishing slowed this past week with the colder weather and the cold front forecast for this week should slow it down even further. Nymphing in the slower pools was producing a fish or two on a good day - most days it’s zero to one. Think hot woodstove and a cup of coffee with brandy while watching football instead.
• UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 51-percent capacity. Icy conditions on Pea Vine Ridge Road made access to this lake questionable this week, especially in light of the big cold front in the forecast.
SACRAMENTO VALLEY• AMERICAN RIVER – Fishing success for salmon below the salmon closure was virtually nil, but a few more steelhead are showing up weekly. However, most of the action has been on 8- to 10- inch long smolts which should be released. River Bend Park, Watt Ave, Campus Commons and Watt Ave. are some of the better spots to fish for steelhead. Nimbus Basin is still loaded with salmon, but most are being caught “flossing,” are dark and make for poor eating.
• FOLSOM – Bass fishing continued to be pretty good for anglers finding concentrations of bait using electronics and then drop-shotting Robo-Worms from 15 to 25 feet deep. Very few anglers were fishing for trout and landlocked salmon, but DFW has been planting panfish-sized rainbows, which are being caught at Granite Bay.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff – Salmon fishing was excellent again, with bright fish being caught from Hamilton City up through the Barge Hole. Flows are very low, though, down to 3,700 cfs, and boating is very hazardous, with Woodson Bridge about the only spot to launch downstream of Red Bluff. The kings are still in beautiful shape, but most were on the smaller side, with the occasional trophy to 40 pounds.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding – Flows are very low, and trout fishing continued to be very good, with steelhead fishing continuing to improve around Battle Creek. Some nice fresh late fall kings were continue to show up.
• UPPER SACRAMENTO/McCLOUD RIVER – Trout fishing has been pretty good on the Sacramento River, with good hatches of blue wing olive nymphs coming off the water. However, there hasn't been the usual fall upstream migration of larger fish from the lake, likely because Shasta has been so very low. Fishing on the McCloud is closed for the season.
• YUBA RIVER – The river is low, but fly fishers continued to do well. However, almost all the action is on nymphs under indicators, not dries. A few steelhead are starting to show, too.
NORCAL SALTWATER• BERKELEY – Party boats averaged 10 lingcod per trip, in addition to full limits of rockfish and crabs. El Dorado and New El Dorado III ran most of the trips for Berkeley Charter Boats. California Dawn scored 3/4-limits of lingcod along with limits of rockfish and crabs. Dave Newton from Oakley caught a 25-pound lingcod on Happy Hooker.
• BODEGA BAY – Surf fishers headed north to Jenner and also to Fort Ross to be able to surf fish extremely rocky areas where they hauled up rockfish, cabezon and even lingcod. New Sea Angler fished off of Fort Ross for quick limits of rockfish, some solid hookups on lingcod and full limits of crabs.
• EMERYVILLE – Boats fished the Farallon Islands, thanks to good weather. Counts included steady limits of rockfish and crabs, plus some lingcod to 15 pounds.
• EUREKA – Crabbing proved very successful for party boats Shellback and Reel Steel. Other boats have now pulled and stowed their gear until next season. Inside the bay, crabbers found some success from local piers, but considerable work was necessary to get enough for a family dinner.
• FORT BRAGG – One last hoorah was all that was desired, but three boats ran for albacore and found action just 11 miles offshore. Adam Sinsel and his crew from Monterey posted 23 tuna to an impressive 34 pounds.
• HALF MOON BAY – Rockfish/crab combos ruled the week. Huli Cat ran to Tunitas and San Gregorio where lingcod to 24 pounds and a 19-pound halibut topped the catch report.
• MARTINEZ – Stripers and sturgeon both were reported caught. The most action, by far, has been stripers from both shore and boat and mostly on bullheads. Flash turned in good catch counts of both sturgeon and stripers near Mothball Fleet and Benicia Bridge.
NORTHERN FOOTHILLS• AMERICAN RIVER – The extremely cold nights and low water conditions made fishing tough. Not many anglers have made the effort to hike down to the river to fish the deep holes in the Middle Fork and North Fork. Access at the Highway 49 crossing is easier, but no reports were available.
• BULLARDS BAR – The lake is at 48-percent capacity. There was only 5 feet of concrete ramp left in the water at Emerald Cove Marina and the remaining ramp at Dark Day was covered with sand and silt. If the lake drops any further, launching will be tough. Call ahead at (530) 692-3201. Fishing was slow for bass and trout.
• CAMP FAR WEST – Bass to 3 pounds were still hitting for anglers using green pumpkin worms and jigs in the Rock Creek and Bear River arms, and on the main lake points.
• COLLINS LAKE – The lake is 47-feet from full. Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported that two customers trolling gold/black Rapalas 12 to 15 feet deep over 30 feet of water from the rental dock to the dam scored 3 rainbows each. Collins Lake Resort reported that limits were much more common this past week in light of the recent DFW and private plants. Shore anglers did well at the marina, beach, dam, and rental dock. The biggest trout of the week weighed 5 pounds, and a troller landed a 12-pound catfish.
• ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR – The lake is at 95-percent capacity. Houseboaters berthed in the marina were picking up rainbows to over 20 inches using Power Bait and worms off the backs of their boats. The fishing trail between the marina ramp and the dam is maintained by the Army Corps and provides excellent access for shore fishermen -give it a try.
• FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR – The lake is at 34-percent capacity. Cold weather has created some icy conditions on high elevation roads. A severe cold front in the forecast for this week should serve as a warning for anglers to stay out of the area.
• HELL HOLE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 41-percent capacity. Cold weather and low water conditions made for a bad combination for fishermen - stay out of the area this week with a severe cold front in the forecast - the Georgetown Ranger Station said that with all the campgrounds closed and the ramp out of the water, few if any people were at the lake anyway.
• LAKE OROVILLE – The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that anglers were still catching 45 to 55 bass on half-day trips casting green pumpkin tubes and Paradise Tackle Company finesse jigs with a Roboworm trailer at 5 to 30 feet deep on walls and points in the West Branch and North Fork. The average sized fish were running 1 1/2 pounds with the bigger bass weighing 2 1/2 to 3 1/4 pounds. Gandolfi was still picking up some 2 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound coho salmon on tube jigs.
• ROLLINS LAKE – The lake is at 81-percent capacity. By the last report, trollers were catching browns up in the Bear River inlet.
• SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE – The lake is at 66-percent capacity. The marina reported that trollers were still picking up a few rainbows at the dam.
• SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR – With the campgrounds closed and cold weather setting in, fishing pressure here was light at best.
• STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR – The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that no one was fishing here this past week though the road was open.
• THERMOLITO AFTERBAY – The lake was at 132.6-foot elevation at press time - 75-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that trollers and shore anglers were after steelhead. The trollers were working the inlet and outlet area near current with flasher/worm combos and spoons. The shore anglers were at the Wilbur Road access using nightcrawlers.
• LAKE MCCLURE – “There is a good catfish bite at McClure Point on chicken liver and anchovies,” said Jason Mello at A-1 Bait Shop. Fishing for trout is slow. The bass bite is slow but there have been some nice bass being caught on spinnerbaits.
• LAKE MCSWAIN – Trout fishing is slow. Calaveras Trout Farm planted on Nov. 26 so the trout bite should pick up. “There are a lot of bank anglers fishing the Brush Pile and Handicap Dock,” said Victoria Sturtevant at Lake McSwain Marina. Trollers were concentrating around the Floating Restroom up to the chimney upriver. Wedding Rings and flashers or blades with crawlers are still working the best but spoons are catching a few. Bank anglers are using all types of Power Bait and crawlers. Jason Mello at A-1 Bait Shop confirmed the slow bite. He said anglers reported catching trout on F-3 gold Rapala's, salmon eggs and garlic scented dough bait.
• LAKE PARDEE – Pardee Lake Recreation Area is closed. The Park will reopen for the 2014 season Feb. 13 for camping and the 14th for fishing.
• NEW MELONES RESERVOIR – Trout and catfishing is good but bass fishing is slow. There are more trout showing up near the surface, making them easier to catch for both trolling anglers and bank fishermen. Trollers should try 10 to 30 feet slow trolling shad or with Needlefish, Excel and Speedy Shiner lures. Bank anglers should try a sliding sinker with an 18- to 24-inch leader with Power Bait Dough, Power Eggs, marshmallows, crawlers or a combination. Bass are scattered from 5 to 70 feet and being caught drop-shotting 4-inch shad pattern plastics.
• TULLOCH RESERVOIR – Fishing is good for trout. Don Smith went with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sportfishing to see how the fishing was. They started at the south shore ramp and set out two leadcore rods rigged with Chucker-T Lures. They caught 12 rainbow trout up to 17 inches. They had a steady bite from the south boat ramp on up into the river.
– Western Outdoor News