Top Picks• FOLSOM LAKE – Bass fishing picked up in spite of wind and rain, at least for anglers using electronics to spot shad concentrations, and then slowly working drop-shotted 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, Sacramento – Salmon fishing was very good last week in the rain, especially at Clarksburg and Garcia Bend, on Kwikfish and Brad’s Wigglers trolled slowly downstream. Fishing for stripers was 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 remain congregated near the Pittsburg PG&E Plant and in the general region, but there are signs that the fish are starting to migrate north as far as Liberty Slough. Salmon roe, grass shrimp, eel and fresh shad are all productive baits for sturgeon. Striper fishing continues to be solid for school-sized linesides with mudsuckers and bullheads scoring the larger fish while fresh shad remains a consistent option. The colder water and abundant debris has slowed the troll bite, and as the water continues to cool, the linesides will be moving into the warmer temperatures in the south Delta near Discovery Bay.
• SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side – A few distinct schools of striped bass are moving around in the San Joaquin River from Antioch towards Stockton, and at the present time, the school of larger fish is feeding from Three-Mile Slough towards the Antioch Bridge. Drifted mudsuckers, vertical jigging with spoons, or anchoring with fresh shad are productive techniques. Catfishing in the south Delta remains solid with anchovies, sardines, or mackerel.
• CAMANCHE LAKE – Trout fishing is real good. A few anglers are still having luck catching catfish. Last week fishermen were only fishing about 10 feet below the surface using grubs catching limits. Other anglers were using ’crawlers, eggs and Power bait catching trout.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Ore. – The Chetco went to 9,000 cfs on Wednesday after blowing out, then went below 4,000 cfs on Thursday, but leaves and other debris made fishing tough, although some bright kings were caught, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Friday’s action was good after debris cleared a bit, and most boats hooked two to six kings each. High tides will bring in more kings on each tide.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Ore. – Beginning of last week the river was too low for fishing other than the mouth of the river where it cuts through the sand to enter the ocean. With the river swelling from recent storms and back on the drop by Wednesday, the Elk River fished excellent on Thursday and Friday, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “A guide on Sunday said the river might be too low to fish by the middle of this week,” Palmer said. “He sounded pretty disgusted with his trip earlier in the day and they had only caught one Chinook.”
RUSSIAN RIVER – The rain didn’t help the river much, as it went from a 140 cfs trickle to a 240 cfs trickle, but there are both kings and coho in the river, since the mouth has been open for 2 1/2 weeks. A few halfpounder steelhead showing. Remember to release all salmon, and don’t mistake an adipose-clipped coho for a steelhead, it will cost you $400. Also, barbless hooks only, artificial, and no bait allowed yet.
SMITH RIVER – The river blew out Tuesday but was full of leaves, moss and debris for two days, but fishing was about perfect on Thursday, according to Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service, who put clients on bright, chrome kings to 28 pounds backbouncing eggs. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers did the same, but used plugs and put a client on a 30 pounder, as well as other kings.
EEL RIVER, Main Stem – The main stem opened up from low flow closures after the rain last week and a huge number of waiting kings and steelies charged into the lower river, according to Gary Blasi of Mad River Tackle. He and a few friends fished in from shore Saturday and they caught “all the kings and steelies that we wanted.” He said the steelhead were mostly 3 to 5 pounds, and the kings were “real tankers.” Unfortunately, there’s a zero limit for any species on the river, despite great runs of salmon and steelhead. He expected the river to close due to low flows on Monday.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Ore. – “This river fishes best for me when it’s a milk-washed brown color, while on a slow drop in water level,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “I would of thought that since the river wasn’t fishable on Thursday that Friday it would have been just pushing salmon into the boats. However, it wasn’t the case, by the reports I received Sunday evening. Very few anglers were happy with the results of their day fishing for king salmon on the Sixes River Friday. I didn't find any information for Saturday and I didn’t fish at the coast this last weekend.”
UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore. – Rains at the beginning of this last week blew the Main Umpqua River all out of shape with well over 15,000 cfs at Elkton. As one of the largest rivers in Oregon, she can become way to powerful to even think of sneaking down a section carefully. Best thing is hold off until she calms down, then enjoy her beauty and fish, said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. Winter steelhead are in the lower river and will be coming through in bunches for the next couple months, then they will for the most part be spread throughout the river. There isn’t much pressure on the river, and there are some coho, too. “A couple friends caught a pair of nice late summer steelhead on a trip this last Friday,” he said. “Peak season is a ways off for this river, but over the next three weeks, those anglers that pick the right day to drift one of the many sections will find some mind scrambling action with fish that they had never imagined.”
UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Ore. – The river was as pristine as it gets before heavy rains early last week. A few coho are around and few of them are hatchery fish, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “One of the better recognized solitary anglers in the area had an interesting story to share with me about a nice coho he caught in the Rock Creek Pool of the North Umpqua last week,” Palmer said. “It was a fin-clipped salmon, but most of these fish, even though raised here at the Rock Creek Hatchery, are designed to return to the base of the Galesville Dam, which is on another fork of the river that flows into the South Umpqua River. The summer steelhead fishing was good before the rains. With the river level at 3.3 feet and slowly dropping and a dark green color, I would expect a few nice summer steelhead, but I enjoy the fall fishing.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Weitchpec – A new batch of steelhead arrived at the mouth of the Trinity last week after the rain, and the relatively few anglers fishing that area got into some good fishing for steelhead in the 5-pound class, mostly on spinners.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate – There are lots of steelhead - adults to 5 pounds and halfpounders -present in the Upper Klamath below Iron Gate Dam, and they are being caught on a variety of methods from backtrolled small plugs and drifted nightcrawlers to dead-drifted nymphs and flies on the swing.
TRINITY RIVER – Steelhead fishing improved to some extent as some new fish moved upriver after the rain, but the river was still very low and clear, and fishing pressure was very heavy, especially around Junction City. Another factor to deal with was the big drop in air and water temperatures, making for very cold hands and lethargic fish. Still, good anglers can hook three or more steelies a day on dead-drifted flies or roe and backtrolled Hot Shots.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE – The upper end of the lake still remains on the slow side with the area around Rocky Point and Corinthian Bay producing some action depending on the day. Concentrate on the deeper rock areas of the lake from the Narrows down to Redbud where all of the major points have been producing good catches anywhere from 8 to 20 feet deep. If you are not using live bait, than plastics, A-rigs, swimbaits, and LVs will be your best bets. The catfish bite has been producing lots of big fish on live bait.
LAKE BERRYESSA – Shad imitation lures or rolling shad have been the best bets for trout. The best way to get started is to look for birds feeding on bait. A downrigger 20 feet down was the best depth throughout the day. The kings are much deeper. You can also follow the birds or use your electronics to find the bait for bass. Anglers have been using spoons, LuckyCraft BDS3, Pointer 100s in shad, jigs and Robo worms in the main body to the Narrows.
LAKE SONOMA – For steelies up in the creek arms preparing for spawning, try an Arctic Fox fly in white, blue/white and chartreuse but please practice catch & release if you can. Pitching jig/trailers in brown/black methodically to standing timber in Cherry Creek produced some nice bass as the water gets more stained up.
LAKE ALMANOR – Aggressive spawning brown trout have been on their underwater gravel beds near the springs and the deeper holes near Prattville, the west peninsula, and shallow coves near Canyon Dam. Suspended roe or salmon eggs off the bottom will attract fish feeding on loose eggs. These fish are better released now, as they don’t taste good anyway. Speedy Shiners and other fast action lures and be used in the top 20 feet for rainbows.
BAUM LAKE – Not much has changed here, as the fishing continues to be good. Try the east side early in the day. With other trout waters closed this will be a good winter spot. December is known for great fishing on this lake thanks to the midges.
CASSEL FOREBAY – Closed Nov. 15.
EAGLE LAKE – Fishing has been excellent with either a Wiggle Tail in rust or a small No. 10 orange grub just south of Wild Cat on rocky points. The low water ramp is scheduled to be pulled on Dec. 2 though, so access to the great fishing will be from float tube, kayak or the shoreline. The lake is open to fishing until the end of the year. Now that it’s cold, County Road A1 (Eagle Lake Road) has hazardous areas in the shade, so slow down.
FALL RIVER – Closed Nov. 15.
UPPER HAT CREEK – Closed Nov. 15.
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.
McCLOUD RIVER – Closed Nov. 15.• SHASTA LAKE – Find numbers of small bass in the 1- to 1 1/2-pound range from 5 to 30 feet with crawdad jigs or tubes. Or throw reaction baits early and late. There has been a small swimbait window, but only for one or two a day early and late. Stay off the soft banks and hit the hard rock banks. Anglers have been trolling for trout with downriggers in the main stems in 60 to 100 feet after finding the bait. Most ramps are low and closed so check ahead of time.
BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 22-percent capacity. No change here - the dam and inlet were still the best spots to fish with the low water level.
CAPLES LAKE – The lake is at 62-percent capacity. With all facilities closed, the only option was shore fishing at the dam or spillway.
CARSON RIVER (East) – It was bitter cold with some snow this past week, so fishing pressure was light. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters said his guides were using BWO and midge nymphs on warmer days to entice a few fish in the first two miles below Hangman’s Bridge.
DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported that shore fishing was still good at Mallard, Fairview, Camp 5 and Eagle Point. Flyfishermen were still stripping olive or cinnamon nymphs at 6 to 10 feet deep along at Mosquito Slough for a few rainbows. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that some of the coves were getting iced up with the cold night time temps. Trollers were far and few between, but those that made it out said the fish were deeper with the colder water.
DONNER LAKE – No change here - the west end was still the best place to catch rainbows on Power Bait, worms, spoons and spinners off the boat ramp dock or north shore along Donner Pass Road. The occasional mack can be caught casting a Krocodile spoon in the early morning or evening.
FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that nice rainbows were hitting Power Bait and nightcrawlers at Lunker Point.
GOLD LAKES BASIN – Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported that Salmon Lake and Sardine Lake were slow, but Gold Lake was still producing a mix of 16- to 24-inch browns and rainbows on gold Kastmaster spoons cast off the shore at the boat ramp and the point by the islands.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 56-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported that trollers were still picking up limits of 12- to 13-inch rainbows toplining a dodger/threaded nightcrawler or brown grub.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Alpine County stocked the lake with 1,800 pounds of 1 1/2- to 5-pound rainbows on Nov. 25.
JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR – The lake is at 47-percent capacity. No change here - it was recommended to troll the face of the dam down to the inlet at Woodcamp for rainbows and the occasional brown using flasher/worm combos and Rapalas.
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 worm/marshmallows.
LAKE TAHOE – Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported catching limits by 8:30 including 11 1/2- and 12-pound macks trolling 180 to 320 feet deep off Crystal Bay Point. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported catching quick limits of 2- to 5-pound macks jigging with a minnow tipped Williamson jig at 150 feet deep off South Shore. It’s been cold with 15-degree mornings, so come dressed for the occasion.
LOON LAKE – The lake is at 48-percent capacity. Only the gravel ramp at the dam was open for launching small boats. With the cold nights, the bite could be slowing for trollers.
PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 22-percent capacity. No change here according to Mountain Hardware and Sports - the fish were concentrated at the dam with the low water level. Try Power Bait, worms, Kastmasters, and Panther Martins for rainbows.
PYRAMID LAKE – Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters reported that trollers were picking up 15 to 20 fish per day, mostly 17 to 23 inchers. Mendes was trolling coho and bleeding frog FlatFish at 25 to 47 feet deep at Anderson Bay and north of Pyramid Rock. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters was catching fish trolling Apex from Pelican to the Nets. By far, the best quality fish were coming in for shore anglers casting spoons and flies from the beaches at Warrior Point, Block House, Popcorn, the Nets and any place the drop-offs were in easy reach of a long cast.
RED LAKE – Little was heard about this lake this past week - try the dam with worms for a cutthroat or two.
SILVER LAKE – The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Earl Pennington of Morgan Hill trolled and caught limits of rainbows on dodger/threaded nightcrawlers. With the lake so low, launching was getting difficult and 4-wheel drive was highly recommended.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 52-percent capacity. No change here, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports - troll or cast lures at the dam for a chance at a good Mackinaw.
TRUCKEE RIVER – The only parts of the river open for the winter are the Little Truckee between Boca and Stampede, and the main river from Trout Creek in Truckee to Stateline - artificial lures with barbless hooks and a zero limit. It was very cold in the mornings here this past week, so an early start wasn’t necessarily worth the effort - get out late mornings after the water warms up a degree or two and dredge the slow, deeper pools with nymphs.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser of Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported that trollers were picking up some nice rainbows on dodger/worm combos. The road may get icy with the cold weather and front forecast for this week, but SMUD should keep the road plowed, though 4-wheel drive is always a good idea during the winter months.
SACRAMENTO VALLEY• AMERICAN RIVER – Lots of salmon are still entering the Nimbus Hatchery, but few are being caught downstream of the closure. Steelhead fishing continued to improve where it’s legal to fish around River Bend Park, Watt Avenue, and Howe Avenue. Drift nightcrawlers, swing spinners and small spoons, or dead drift nymphs and egg patterns under indicators. Lots of anglers and dark salmon are still packed into Nimbus Basin.
• FEATHER RIVER – Steelhead fishing continued to be very good, but flows have dropped down to 1,200 cfs, making boating very hazardous. Fishing was very good throughout the Low Flow Section down to Live Oak. Drift Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers, and swing spinners. Fly fishers are scoring on egg patterns, red copper Johns and San Juan worms.
• 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. The average take was about fish a rod for good anglers. The kings are bright, but might average around 10 pounds one day, or in the 20 to nearly 40 pounds the next.
• 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 – The rivers are in their prime time fall season of fishing. The lower part of the Upper Sac below Sims is now attracting some larger fish coming up from the Sacramento River, and some big browns are starting to show at the lower end of the McCloud.
• 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.
BERKELEY – Rockfish, crabs and lingcod all proved dependable. A passenger aboard California Dawn brought in a 32-pound lingcod. Most fishing was done along the Marin coast.
BODEGA BAY – Jumbo crabs were so thick that anglers were culling 7 inchers. Rockfish limits were quick and easy off of Point Reyes to the south and Fort Ross to the north. Lingcod came big and they came hungry, with limits reported. Shore fishing was exceptionally good for rockfish, cabezon, greenling and even lingcod.
EMERYVILLE – Steady, dependable counts of lingcod added spice to steady and dependable limits of rockfish and Dungeness crabs. Boats out of Emeryville Sportfishing split their destinations between Marin coast and Farallon Islands.
EUREKA – Jetty fishers hauled in surprising catches including; black rockfish, cabezon, a few lingcod and scads of greenling. Boaters pulling pots found limits, frequently with just a few traps. Longer soaks filled up the pots.
FORT BRAGG – Shore fishers did surprisingly well on rockfish, cabezon, greenling and an occasional lingcod, plus various perches. Crabbers did much better outside of 100-foot depths than those soaking pots in shallow water.
HALF MOON BAY – Crab fever raged, with people on boats running pots, shore fishers casting snares and lots of people buying crabs from commercial boats. Huli Cat ran a highly successful combo trip to Pigeon Point for the Southside Anglers. Queen of Hearts and Riptide focused on limits of rockfish and bonus lingcod.
MARTINEZ – Stripers were active from both shore and boat. Most of the fish have been 5 to 10 pounders and were caught on mudsuckers or bullheads. Lou Crossland of Martinez caught a 54-inch sturgeon at the Mothball Fleet.
MOTHER LODE• CAMANCHE LAKE – Trout fishing was good. The pond was packed and the main lake ramps were busy as anglers were reeling in trout all over the place. Trout were active on the trout pond with flies, spinners and Power Bait, and trollers caught trout all over the lake on an assortment of lures.
• DON PEDRO RESERVOIR – Fishing for bass and trout was slow. Bass fishermen did best with drop-shot rigs. Trout trollers had a hard time finding a bite.
– Western Outdoor News