Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of March 20, 2017.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
Sturgeon fishing is best in Suisun Bay and in the sloughs, and with the Feather River flows bumped up to 40,000 cfs, another stream of mud and debris will come into the Delta with the high water. The sturgeon are moving on a daily basis, and those with regular trips on the river are finding the most consistent action. The Battle of the Six Packs sponsored by Phenix Rods and Big Red Worm Co. produced at least one keeper for all but one of the seven boats, and the conditions are perfect with the water temperature at 60 degrees. Striped bass are on the move, and once the water clears, the bite will be on. Largemouth bass are found in the north Delta sloughs with black chatterbaits.
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DELTA REGION: San Joaquin River
Largemouth bass action has been tremendous with a variety of techniques, and there is a good reaction bite with chatterbaits or spinnerbaits and guide James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service has put his clients onto limits of stripers three days out of three up to the weekend. Scent and vibration is a must in the off-color water. Striped bass are showing up for trollers in the clear waters of the San Joaquin, and both shallow and deep-diving lures are productive for males to 7 pounds. Live bait hasn’t been working lately. Plug and swimbait casters are also scoring as the bite is ready to go bonkers. Crappie are biting live minnows in the sloughs. The flows on the San Joaquin River continue to be high, but there are modified restrictions to limit several areas to 5 mph during the four-hour window before and after the posted high tide. Information on the closures can be located at www.sjgov.org/oes.
A big release from Oroville Dam caused the Feather River to blow out late last week, with flows of 56,000 cfs on Sunday. The river rose 10 feet, bringing striper and sturgeon fishing to a halt. Striper were being caught near Star Bend before the river blew out, while sturgeon fishing was best near the mouth of the Bear River. The Boyd’s Pump launch remains open. Expect the river to be muddy through the weekend.
The Browns Ravine and Granite Bay launches are open. The lake level is 412 feet, with a water temperature of 62 degrees. Bass are now being caught regularly on live minnows as well as drop-shot rigs. Trout and salmon fishing remains slow. Woody debris on the surface of the lake is still causing some problems for boaters.
Another 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout in the 1.5- to 2-pound range were released into the lake this week, and the rainbows are starting to move into the main reservoir. The area just outside of the entrance near the buoys has been a good location for trolling, as the fish are transitioning from planting into the main lake. There is a good bass bite with Keitech swimbaits in kokanee colors, since there are plenty of small kokanee currently in the lake. Bank fishing is best near the Stony Creek spillway and landed with scented trout doughbait or night crawlers. A total of 45,000 pounds of rainbows will be released into the lake through early June. The water in the Mokelumne River arm is starting to clear up. Pardee has dropped to 95 percent.
RANCHO SECO LAKE
The Rancho Seco Trout Derby will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 1-2. Derby tickets are $5. Top prizes include a new boat and a kayak. Trout fishing has been good.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Ore.
After blowing out over the weekend, the Chetco is expected to remain high all week. It fished well early last week, with many guides reporting four to six fish a day, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The river hit 8,000 cfs on Saturday and was still over 5,200 cfs on Sunday. Steelhead season closes Friday, March 31.
ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.
Steelhead fishing was fair on the Elk last week. The river was 4.5 feet and green on Sunday. Steelhead season runs through the end of March.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.
The first confirmed hatchery spring king salmon of the season was reported last week by the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. High water has limited success for early spring salmon. More rain is expected this week. April is generally the peak month for spring salmon on the lower Rogue.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Ore.
The river got blown out again prior to last weekend, and this week’s outlook calls for more rain and the river rising again, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. He said the best bet for anglers is to go trout fishing, as the DFG is stocking both Selmac Lake and Lost Creek Lake this week.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Ore.
The river was blown out over the weekend. With more rain expected this week, it could remain too high to fish.
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
The entire Klamath River is blown out. Flows Sunday at Iron Gate were 9,200 cfs.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Flows at Seiad Valley were 19,500 cfs on Sunday, up from 9,980 cfs a week ago. The river is blown out for steelhead.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath is high and muddy, with flows of 81,600 cfs Sunday.
Steelhead fishing has slowed as the season nears its end. Flows Sunday at Lewiston were 312 cfs, while flows at Douglas City were 992 cfs and flows near Junction City were 1,430 cfs. Downriver at Hoopa, flows remains high at 16,200 cfs.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Bass fishing finally perked up in clear water areas in the backs of creek arms. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, shallow crankbaits and swimbaits are all producing action.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Not much action is going on here with the lake only about 40 percent full at this time. Not many anglers have been out, said park rangers.
Art Cerini at the Narrows Resort said trout action perked up last week, with many fly anglers getting limits on woolly buggers, but rain is expected to muddy the lake again this week.
Bass tournaments last week saw plenty of action with several fish over 10 pounds being recorded on plugs and plastic worms. Most of the action was in the north end.
Bass fishing has been pretty good on swimbaits and Kitech lures, though the lake remains full and is still a little muddy.
Lake is full, still muddy and not many anglers have been out, said Christina Diaz at Lake Pillsbury Resort.
Bass anglers are scoring with spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, shallow crankbaits and swimbaits. Catfish are being caught on cut mackerel in the creek channels.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
Trout fishing has been slow in numbers of fish caught. The Hamilton Branch continues to bring muddy water into Almanor, which has made the water from Big Springs to Lake Haven unfishable and water to Big Cove questionable at best.
John Dietz at the Fly Shop in Redding said action continues to be good for fly fishermen using leeches, midges and Baetis flies. Bait fishing is on power baits.
Marina is shut down until trout season opens in April.
Still very little fishing action reported here as the water level remains high and muddy.
The lake continues to rise and was about 38 feet down last weekend. Fishing was just fair recently on bass and crappie, in coves where you can find some clear water. Lots of debris still along the shoreline and floating in midlake areas.
The lake level continues to slowly rise. Trout action is fair at river inlets, while bass action is fair on new rock piles now under water.
Action for smallmouth bass is fair in the Whiskey Creek area of the lake on plugs and plastics.
The bass are already on beds in Cat Cove and the Mountain Springs Arm, and bass fishermen are scoring with 4-inch plastics in purple/metal flake, red belly buzzbaits, or Baby Brush Hogs. 2,800 pounds of rainbows were released into the lake before Saturday’s Nor Cal Trout Angler’s Challenge, with 1,800 pounds consisting of lightning trout. Trollers are having the best experience with Rapalas in the coves in the Jackson, Carson and Rock Creek arms from the surface to 15 feet in depth. Crappie are moving into the shallows, and they should be under the docks within a week. Catfish are also migrating toward the shallows. The lake remains full, and it is clearing steadily.
The lake has dropped to 81 percent in anticipation of snowmelt from the upper watershed. The gas docks at North Shore are operational. 1,200 pounds of Mount Lassen hatchery rainbows were split between the North Shore launch ramp and the South Shore ramp this week. Trollers targeting rainbows are finding more crappie than rainbows near the dam, and the crappie are found throughout the lake, as they are moving into the shallows. Largemouth bass are already on beds, and weightless Senkos are picking up quality bass.
The lake continues to release water in order to accommodate snowmelt, and it dropped to 19 feet below capacity after spilling over a few weeks back. Bonds Flat Road remains closed in the event the spillway is needed once again. Bass action has been outstanding with the River2 Sea S-waver, weightless Senkos, the Berserk Purple Hornet jig or A-rigs in the shallows. Chatterbaits are also effective with the fish oriented toward the shoreline. Trout fishing is decent with Speedy Shiners or similar heavy spoons on fast troll. Covering water is the key to locating the rainbows. There is also a solid crappie bite along the shoreline structure with small minnows or mini jigs.
The Best Bass Tournaments hosted 72 boats on Saturday for their Mother Lode Circuit with a winning weight of over 22 pounds. Tournament director Kevin Cheek reported all of the largest fish were taken on underspins, Senkos or A-rigs; Texas-rig or drop-shot plastics were also effective for numbers with the fish holding in the top 5 feet of the water column. There is a good crappie bite with small minnows or mini jigs. The water is clearing up quickly, and the lake has dropped to 74 percent. Water releases are directed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the lake has exceeded 67 percent of capacity and continues to release water down the Merced River. The launch ramps at Barrett Cove South and McClure Point are open.
Large volumes of water are being bypassed through the spillway of McSwain Dam from Lake McClure, and the high flows have created conditions where a trout plant for the spring derby is not advisable. The Merced Irrigation District is currently examining several other opportunities – including a possible trout derby at Lake McClure – and other tournaments and promotions possibly later this spring and during the summer.
The lake rose to 71 percent, and all launch ramps in the lake are now open. The rainbow trout are moving into the creek channels and up the river arm, and trollers are scoring near the surface with Speedy Shiners, Kastmasters and Rapalas. The bass are scattered at various depths from deep water to the shallows depending upon the time of day, and there is a window for reaction baits such as River2Sea S-wavers or chatterbaits. Weedless plastics on a Texas, Carolina or drop-shot rig are most effective for numbers. Bank fishing is fair with trout doughbait combined with a night crawler. Crappie fishing has improved near submerged timber in the coves with live minnows, and catfishing is best with a scented ball of night crawlers in the lake’s inlets.
The water is clearing up slowly, and water releases down the Calaveras River have slowed down with the lake holding at 62 percent. Striped bass action should heat up once the water clears up enough to troll anchovies, shad or sardines on a harness rig. Hogan is one of the only lakes with a self-sustaining population of striped bass.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Stay away until ice out.
Ice is thick and safe.
River is growing with increased snowmelt.
Lake is at 99 percent of capacity and is frozen but unsafe. One person fell through the ice into 4 feet of water and had to be rescued. “We are hoping the weather we are having will finally break up the ice so people won’t go back out there,” said Jeanne Graham from J&J’s Grizzly Store. “It is absolutely unsafe.”
The west end of the lake is ice-free and people can fish from shore. Launch area is socked in with snow.
Lake is at 97 percent of capacity and the ice is pulling away from the shore. This is unsafe to access.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed. See you in spring.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Lake is clear of ice and the road from Highway 89 to the lake is clear. Shore anglers are catching trout near the dam.
JENKINSON LAKE, Sly Park
Mackinaw to 6 pounds and browns to 4 pounds were caught last week. Trollers using night crawlers and flashers just under the surface are picking up most of the macks.
Mack bite is taking place in the deep water on the west side of the lake. Boats from Tahoe Sport Fishing reported steady parade of 3- to 6-pound macks coming from depths of 200 feet-plus.
The cutthroats have become more active with warmer weather, and while there are still some slow days, action has been a bit more consistent, according to guide Casey Anderson of Pyramid Fly Co. The biggest fish last week was a 16-pounder, and big fish hunters should seek beaches with fewer anglers.
Deep snow has closed access.
Lake is dropping in anticipation of heavy snowmelt to come. Trout bite remains very good with both trollers and shoreline bait soakers scoring fish. Two rainbows of more than 4 pounds were weighed in for the ongoing derby.
River flow increased every day last week due to snowmelt and is now unfishable.
WEST WALKER RIVER
River is fishable, moving quickly but it’s clear and fishable for those wanting to engage in catch-and-release fishing. One angler reported catching a handful of small trout last week, with one good tug that got away.
Flows remained at 4,990 cfs all last week and over the weekend. Steelhead fishing remains slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows at the Delta gauge were 4,980 cfs on Sunday. Trout fishing remains poor.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Sturgeon are being caught between Butte City and Colusa on cut baits, pile worms and bloodworms. A few stripers have been reported. Fishing should improve dramatically in early April as the main spring striper run arrives.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Keswick Dam flows dropped from 11,500 cfs last week to 8,000 cfs on Sunday. The section between Keswick Dam and Highway 44 bridge closes at the end of March. The water remains dirty but fishable near Redding.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Some stripers are being caught near Bright Beach and Discovery Park. There also have been reports of sturgeon near Freeport. Muddy water coming from the Feather River has made striper fishing tough.
Lake is 84 percent of full and has about 2 feet of clarity. Spotted bass are starting to gather on points but pull off and suspend during unstable weather. Guide Ron Gandolfi last week landed an 8.7-pound spot with a 6-inch shakyhead worm.
CAMP FAR WEST
Water has cleared significantly and bass bite is starting to show signs of life. Ron Franks of Folsom last week caught 20 spotted bass – none over 2 pounds – using green pumpkin lizards, Senkos and chartreuse spinnerbaits in the Rock Creek Arm. Water temperatures ranges from 56 to 59 degrees, and there is about 2 feet of visibility.
A double plant totaling 1,800 pounds went in this week, and with favorable water temperatures (58 degrees) and improving clarity (3 feet) fishing should continue to improve. A 6-pound rainbow was landed last week, and those using green power bait from the shoreline near the dam have been catching trout.
Slow bite continues. Pen-raised trout slated to be released at the end of March or beginning of April.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR
Snowed in until spring.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR
Snowed in with no access.
Afterbay is low, but bass anglers reluctant to fish Lake Oroville are crowding in here. Bite is best in afternoon when the water is warmest. Crankbaits or jigs work best, but A-rigs and swimbaits are options. Water is too dirty for decent trout fishing.
Water temps have warmed into the high 50s and to 60 in some places. Bass are aggressively attacking lures in 2 to 15 feet of water on points and near south-facing walls. Mostly small males, but anglers can enjoy good numbers of fish again. There is still a lot of debris in the lake, so use caution.
SCOTTS FLAT LAKE
Smallmouth bass bite has been good by the inlet. Bass to 3 pounds are plentiful. An angler fishing near Cascade reported a 5-pound largemouth. No trout have been caught. Water temperature is 53 on the surface and 47 degrees 5 feet down.
Sturgeon and stripers were the targets for Happy Hooker, and the catch included a 44-incher and a 66-incher (released), plus some bass. With the famous Berkeley Pier still closed and no plan yet in place to rebuild it, shore-based fishing was from the shore, where catches were perch and striped bass. Boaters made runs to San Pablo Bay or through the Carquinez Strait for stripers and sturgeon.
Boat activity was limited to crabs and sand dabs and the results were improved, again thanks to sea conditions. Crabs were healthy and pots held more keepers than throwbacks. Shore fishers were out in force at Dillon Beach and near Lawson Landing thanks to decent weather and comfortable swells.
Most of the renowned Emeryville party boat fleet readied for the salmon season just around the corner. The exception was the Sundanc, which hosted six passengers who caught sturgeon and stripers. Shore fishers gathered to hook up with perch on baits and on striped bass on either baits or small lures. The perch bite was reported to be very strong for a variety of species including barred surfperch, pogeys and split tail.
Reel Steel made it out for petrale sole, which were caught from 400 feet of water. Crabbing was slow, with only a handful of crabs coming up in pots after a lengthy soak. There were petrale sole caught and plenty of sand dabs in 300 to 400 feet of water. Jetty fishing was pretty good for cabezon, kelp greenling and black rockfish. Local beaches Samoa, Centerville, Dry Lagoon and Gold Bluff were good for redtail perch.
With the Whale Festival underway, boats were hauling people to go look at the big cetaceans rather than pulling crab pots. Shore fishers, however, had a solid week thanks to smaller swells, which allowed them to work some spots not safely fishable when the swells are bigger.
HALF MOON BAY
Huli Cat got in some early groundfish fishing thanks to a research trip. Otherwise boats focused on local crabbing and maybe a drift or two to take some sand dabs home. Beach fishers had it pretty good for barred surfperch, and they also hooked into small-to-medium striped bass.
South San Francisco saw some very good striper and perch fishing near Oyster Point, Coyote Point and all the way up to near the Golden Gate. Boaters headed up to San Pablo Bay or down to South Bay to work on sturgeon and striped bass, or they stayed at dock getting ready for salmon season, which opens April 1.