Top Picks• SACRAMENTO RIVER, SACRAMENTO – Salmon fishing was even more up-and-down than the previous week, but some beautiful, big kings weighing over 40 pounds were caught by the very few anglers still trying for them. The season ends Dec. 16. Fish Clarksburg and Garcia Bend with Kwikfish or Brad’s Killer Fish for your best chances. Fishing for stripers continued to be 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 at Hood Franklin and So. River Road.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, RED BLUFF – Late fall salmon fishing was the best of the season as the closure of Dec. 16 looms. The river is very low and pressure is very low, but limits and near limits were still common for bright fish from Hamilton City up through the Barge Hole.
• AMERICAN RIVER – More and more steelies are showing up, smaller smolts, half-pounders to about 19 inches, and the occasional adult to 8 pounds. Most riffles below the Salmon Closure Area offer chances to catch fish. River Bend Park, Watt Avenue. Campus Commons and Watt Avenue are some of the better spots. Dark salmon are still being caught in Nimbus Basin with heavy pressure and poor quality fish.
• DELTA REGION, Sacramento River side – Sturgeon have been the top species, with stripers heading for warmer temperatures in deep water or in the sloughs. Roe and Ryer Islands, the Big Cut, and the Mothball Fleet have been producing a few sturgeon with the best action on salmon roe. A few bright salmon continue to move through the river, although few anglers are targeting the species. The Sacramento River salmon season ends Dec. 16.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side – Cold water from the freezing temperatures have slowed the striper bite to a crawl as the linesides are seeking warmer water in the back sloughs. Fresh shad is still available in bait shops from Stockton to Pittsburg, but it is expected to be unavailable within a week or two, as the shad are dropping too deep in the water column for shadders to net. Largemouth bass fishing is solid with ripbaits with an irregular retrieve, but size has been lacking.
NORTH COAST RIVERS• CHETCO RIVER, Ore. – Low and clear conditions are making it tough steelhead fishing, and guides Andy Martin and Randy Wells said they are sometimes beaching their driftboats and having their clients cast roe from the gravel bars. They’re averaging a bite or so a rod a day and sometimes a fish a rod, but an upcoming front should bring more fish into the system. Salmon are spawning, and they’re about done for the year.
• COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Ore. – Snow fell the last part of the week in the hills near the valley floor, guide Curtis Palmer reported. “This cold snap is changing water temperature quickly and will most likely slow the movements of the steelhead. There have been chrome steelies caught at Myrtle Tree boat ramp during the beginning of the week from the boat ramp itself and at Low Water Bridge. Farther upriver on Weyerhaeuser ground, the seasons first steelhead have already made it back to what is known as 5 Mile. This is where they dump these fish into the river as smolts to return a couple years later as the steelhead we enjoy chasing. Weyerhaeuser land needs a permit by anglers to be fishing the South Fork of the Coos where the river travels through their property. You can purchase these at T-N-T Market on your way to going fishing.”
• COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore. – Recent snow down on the valley floor has visibility clouded in even the shallow water of the South Fork, according to guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer. “You won't see many anglers on this river yet, but they are coming. I might have actually spoken with the first driftboat to have fished these waters for steelhead this season. The drift from 7 Mile to Myrtle Point is a long float, with all the slow water from the low conditions. With the short days, fisherman have to watch the daylight hours so they don’t find themselves trying to navigate the river under darkness. There are a few early steelhead in this fork of the river and smaller-sized plugs worked for the anglers I talked to. The snow should start melting and the river is sure to blow out for a few days later this week. However, these small coastal streams fish darker than other rivers.”
• RUSSIAN RIVER – The mouth was opened up on Thursday and a fresh taste of rain on Friday and Friday night brought in a bunch of waiting fish at the mouth, including kings, coho and steelhead, and fishing is good in low and clear conditions from Guerneville down to Cassini’s, according to Scott Heemstra of King’s Bait and Tackle in Guerneville. Flows are 240 cfs at Cassini’s, and you can use bait, but barbless hooks are required year-round.
• SMITH RIVER – Short and sweet from guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service, “We are low and clear with no rain in sight.”
• UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore. –
Beginning of last week the steelhead fishing was good at Sawyer Rapids. Most side drifting anglers would put their boat in the water from the trailer park and fish the day on that section of river below Sawyers and then take their boats back out where they put the boat in, according toWON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “No shuttle needed for all your fishing on this long piece of water. There wasn’t anybody fishing from Friday on that I know of, with the freezing rain and the snow across much of the state that started late Thursday night. The Upper Umpqua River and both the North & South Forks have been quiet with the recent storm. Both forks of the river saw the extreme cold air effects when the rivers froze over on many slow water pools near the banks edge and at many boat ramps.”
TRINITY/KLAMATH RIVERS• KLAMATH RIVER, Weitchpec – The mouth of the Klamath opened up with the rains, and brought a new run of salmon in, as well as more steelhead. Below Iron Gate Dam was still the best, but fly fishers suffered in the cold. Spin fishermen were scoring on drifted nightcrawlers and Blue Fox spinners, Backtroll small plugs, too. Cold water and air temps are slowing down both fishermen and fish.
• TRINITY RIVER – Both new salmon and steelhead showed up on the Trinity last week and anglers were scoring up to 8 steelies a day, up from just a couple a week earlier. Fresh Chinooks went through the Willow Creek Weir last week and were up to Del Loma. It is COLD with snow on the ground.
NORTH COAST LAKES• CLEAR LAKE – Fishing pressure remains extremely light, especially during the week. Water temperature around the lake ranged from the upper 40s on the north end to the low 50s on the lower ends of the lake. Clarity also varied from a foot to almost 4 feet. Luewbow, Jensen, and Wheeler Point out of Redbud as well as Jago and Jones bays will be good winter areas to check out with live bait or artificials. Watch out for structure in low water areas.
• LAKE BERRYESSA – There has been very little fishing pressure here. For both trout and bass, check out the creeks arms and look for bait balls. The water will be a little warmer in there.
• LAKE SONOMA – Landlocked steelhead fishing continued to be 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 were the way to go. A few nice-sized bass were found by shaking 6-inch worms in standing timber, drop-shotting ledges and fishing jigs or wacky Senkos on main body points.
NORTHEASTERN AREA• LAKE ALMANOR – Not much action thanks to the arctic blast that came through. Ice is already forming around the edges where there is no wind.
• BAUM LAKE – Time to pull out the chains just in case to get here. Fishing continued to be good and there hasn’t been much fishing pressure.
• EAGLE LAKE – The shoreline will continue to be a great option for the rest of the season when weather permits.
• 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 – The cold snap will start getting things going as fish will move in and up. Bass have been eating crawdads in the rocks and gravel areas so use crawdad patters. Look for the bite to start changing with the colder weather and possibility of rain. The rain will also bring the trout up.
SIERRA LAKES/RIVERS• BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 17-percent capacity. The storm this past weekend dropped 2 feet of snow and the road is only plowed to the dam. Be prepared to walk down to the lake and shore fish through any available open water with ice forming in the shallows. Fishing was reported to be good.
• CAPLES LAKE – The lake is at 86-percent capacity. Dave Foley at Caples Lake Resort reported that the lake was already 40-percent frozen before the big storm settled in late this past week. Before the storm, shore anglers that could find open water were picking up macks to 10 pounds and rainbows to 3 pounds - it’ll be tough to find open water near the shore now.
• CARSON RIVER (East) – Two feet of snow and highs in the 20s made for SLOW fishing. Wait a while before venturing onto river below Hangman’s Bridge.
• DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported a low of -17 degrees - yes that’s 17-below zero. Most of the lake had frozen over with some open water showing in the middle. The ice is not safe for fishing. Wait until it is safe. Call ahead to Dillard at (530) 966-5500 or Jeanne Graham at the Grizzly Store at (530) 832-0270.
• DONNER LAKE – The lake is at 34-percent capacity. Keith Zenker at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that the lake was ice-free and shore anglers were doing well for limits of rainbows and a few macks using Power Bait, worms, and spoons from the public piers and the boat ramp docks.
• FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the roads to and around the lake were open. The lake had begun to freeze over with the sub-zero weather this past weekend. The ice is not safe for fishing. Call ahead to Wiggins at (530) 993-4683.
• GOLD LAKES BASIN – Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported that the road to Gold Lake was closed due to heavy snow. This storm pretty much closed the basin lakes for the winter, as access will only be by snowmobile until spring. This will be the last report until the roads open and ice melts in the spring.
• ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 56-percent capacity. A couple feet of snow and frigid temps closed the Crystal Basin this past weekend, according to Kyle Neeser of Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service. Call the Pacific Ranger Station for the latest road conditions at (530) 647-5400.
• INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that a couple of feet of snow closed the roads to the lake. Call ahead to Sodaro for the latest road conditions at (530)694-2511.
• JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR – The lake is at 47-percent capacity. The road was most likely closed by the snowstorm - call the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office for the latest road conditions.
• JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) – The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported that the roads into the lake facilities were closed due to heavy snow over the weekend, but could be open later this week. Shore anglers were picking up some 4- to 6-pound macks on worms and planter rainbows on Power Bait at the second dam.
• LAKE TAHOE – Bitter cold temps iced up marinas at South Shore and North Shore, preventing charter boats from getting out on the lake - too cold for comfortable angling. Wait for a break in the weather and call any of the lake guides - they’ll all be fishing for macks and trout all winter long when the weather cooperates.
• PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Heavy snow over the weekend had to be plowed all the way to the boat ramp parking lot where anglers could walk down to the water to shore fish. The rainbow trout bite was reported to be good using Power Bait and worms.
• PYRAMID LAKE – Bitter cold and snow made access to the lake from Reno questionable due to slow road plowing, according to Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge. Only 9 fish were weighed in this past week - all by shore anglers. The biggest fish weighed 17 pounds, 6 ounces and smallest was a 10 pounder. Boaters didn’t get out due to cold, windy conditions. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters and George Molino at Cutthroat Charters both stayed on the bank this past week due to the poor weather.
• RED LAKE – Stay off the lake until the ice is safe. WON will stay on top of the ice conditions and check with local experts to determine whether it is safe for fishing. Check with Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters at (530) 541-8208 if you can’t wait.
• SILVER LAKE – The lake is at 33-percent capacity. The lake was showing a lot of ice along the shore before the big storm that hit late this past week with record low temps. Stay off the ice until it is declared safe.
• STAMPEDE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 51-percent capacity. The snowstorm over the weekend closed the road to the lake. Last report until spring.
• TRUCKEE RIVER – Tony Marotta at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that late morning to afternoon trips to slow, deep holes were producing a few fish on BWO and midge nymphs.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 50-percent capacity. Pea Vine Ridge Road was closed to public transit by the snowstorm this past weekend. SMUD gets into the power generation facilities at the dam, but the road isn’t really passable for fishermen unless you have a big 4-wheel drive with chains - stay away until better weather prevails.
SACRAMENTO VALLEY• FEATHER RIVER – Steelheading was still very good, but , more variable with several steelies being caught one day, maybe 20 or more the next. Any riffle downstream from the Outlet to Live Oak holds fish. Glo-Bugs, nightcrawlers and swing spinners are working if you are spin fishing. Fly fishers are still doing best on egg patterns, but nymphs imitating alevins are doing better and better as the number of spawning salmon dies off.
• FOLSOM LAKE – Bass fishing was slow last week, but part of the slowdown was likely due to fewer anglers because of the cold weather, and the most effective method has been to slowly drop-shot Robo-Worms from 15 to 25 feet deep. Not very exciting. 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, 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 continued to show up.
• UPPER SACRAMENTO/McCLOUD RIVERS – Trout fishing has been pretty good on the Sacramento River, with good hatches of bluewing 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 and a few steelhead were showing, too. It’s mostly dead-drifting small nymphs, and Skawala nymphs are starting to show.
NORCAL SALTWATER• BERKELEY – Rockfish limits and crab limits were commonplace. Some very nice lingcod were mixed in with the catch, including a 15 pounder and 16 pounder caught by John Garno aboard Happy Hooker.
• BODEGA BAY – Boat-based and shore-based anglers did about equally well for rockfish, with limits possible and some big fish coming up. Crabbing in general showed signs of slowing, however. New Sea Angler managed steady limits of crabs to go with limits of rockfish.
• CROCKETTE – Sturgeon and stripers both roamed the area and even people fishing from the Crockett Pier managed to bring in some impressive fish.
• EMERYVILLE – A 22-pound lingcod was the top catch of the week aboard an Emeryville boat (New Seeker). Reports were posted of easy limits of rockfish and crabs, while fishing along the Marin coast.
• EUREKA – Crabbing remained very good due to the continued strike by commercial crabbers. Problem was, not many boats made it out due to foul weather. Shore-based crabbers near Eureka and especially at Trinidad did better than expected by casting snares. Rocky areas fished from shore produced catches of greenling and rockfish mostly.
• FORT BRAGG – A huge 11.26-inch abalone took top honors in the 2013 Abalone Derby at Subsurface Progression Dive shop in Fort Bragg. Seahawk made it out on a crab trip and managed 3/4-limits even in rough seas. Crabbing remains viable during good weather windows.
• HALF MOON BAY – Large (up to 8 pound) reds came aboard Huli Cat while fishing near Bean Hollow and Bolsa Point. Those reds joined numerous other fish in the sacks, including some sizable lingcod.
• MARTINEZ – Stripers and sturgeon were both readily available. More stripers were caught than sturgeon through the week, but the recent rains may muddy up the water which will make the sturgeon tie on the feed bag and chow down.
NORTHERN FOOTHILLS• AMERICAN RIVER – Snow and bitter cold weather made for icy roads. Even the most diehard angler should wait until warmer weather prevails - it’s too cold to be hiking down into the river canyon on the North Fork and Middle Fork.
• BULLARDS BAR – The lake is at 47-percent capacity. The Emerald Cove Marina boat ramp was out of the water - there’s no launching anywhere at the current lake level. • CAMP FAR WEST – The lake is at 21-percent capacity. Fishing was slow with the cold weather. One angler reported picking up six bass running 1 1/2 to 2 pounds using pumpkin Brush Hogs all around the lake. The boat launch was still operational on one lane.
• COLLINS LAKE – The lake received a few inches of snow this past week, but shore anglers were still picking up some limits of rainbows at the boat ramp and the dam on Power Bait. Jim Cleary of Wheatland caught the biggest fish of the week - a 3 3/4-pound rainbow using Power Bait at the dam.
• ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR – The lake is at 93-percent capacity and scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Houseboaters berthed in the marina were picking up rainbows to 19 inches and 3 3/4 pounds using Power Bait off the back of the boats.
• FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR – The lake is at 34-percent capacity. The snowstorm this past week pretty much closed access to the lake, but the boat ramp was out of water and the Foresthill Ranger Station reported they had not seen any fishermen at the lake in recent days anyway. Call ahead for the latest road conditions at (530) 367-2224.
• HELL HOLE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 40-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station said the snowstorm this past week closed the road to the lake. Call ahead for the latest road conditions at (530) 333-4312.
• LAKE OROVILLE – The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Despite frigid temps, bass fishing was still hot. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that before the storm hit late in the week, that bass were hitting spinnerbaits and crankbaits right on the bank, but dropped to 30 to 40 feet deep after the weather arrived. A Nor Cal 90 tournament on Saturday was won with 13 pounds that included a 6 1/2-pound kicker. Senkos, worms, and tubes worked best in the deep water on steep rocky walls and points in the Slot, West Branch, and North Fork where the surface temp was 49 degrees.
• ROLLINS LAKE – The lake is at 81-percent capacity. The roads into the lake were closed due to snow over this past weekend, but NID should have the roads cleared this week. Fishing was slow.
• SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE – The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Before the snowstorm, boaters were picking up 14- to 15-inch rainbows at the inlet drifting worms. The roads into the boat ramp should be cleared by this week by NID. Call ahead to Jim Caldwell at (530) 265-4461.
• SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR – The County plows the roads to the lake, but not the road into the lake facilities. Call ahead to the Foresthill Ranger Station at (530) 367-2224 for the latest access report.
• STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR – The lake is at 60-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that shore anglers were fishing before the storm but with no success. Snow may have closed the road to the lake - call ahead to check the latest road conditions at (530) 333-4312.
• THERMOLITO AFTERBAY – The lake was at 132.1-foot elevation at press time - 72-percent capacity. It has been cold in the valley with lows in the teens and 20s. Try for steelhead near current at the inlet and outlet.
MOTHER LODE• AMADOR LAKE – Trout fishing is good. Debbie Grayson at Lake Amador Store said “The trout bite has been good, with several large trout caught.” There was another 1,000 pounds of trout planted last week. Pink Power Worms, yellow Power Bait and crawlers were used to catch several nice trout.
• CAMANCHE LAKE – Trout fishing is red hot with lots of big trout being caught. This week they planted 2,400 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbow trout, 1,200 lbs. at South Shore, 600 lbs. at North Shore and 600 lbs. at the pond. Bank anglers are finding Power Baits, crawlers and eggs to be the most effective baits. Boat anglers have been experiencing the best bite by top-trolling with grubs or lures.
• 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
• DON PEDRO RESERVOIR – Fishing is slow for bass and trout both. This time of year the trout are usually eating the paint off the bottom of the boat, but for some reason they are not cooperating for the fishermen. The trout should come up to the top of the water after this cold spell. Best bet for bass is working the creek channels in 30 to 40 feet of water.
• LAKE MCCLURE – Fishing is slow. Jason Mello of A-1 Bait Shop in Snelling fished crawdads at Barrett’s South Shore ramp to catch a bass. Mello also had bass chase his S-Waver but did not strike it. Drop-shotting plastics are working for a few bass. There was a trout plant at Barrett’s South Shore boat ramp recently so trout colored S-Wavers or other similar baits should work to catch a few bass. The trout fishing is still slow but maybe last weeks trout plant will help the hardest of anglers catch a few.
• LAKE MCSWAIN – Fishing is fair. Another 1,000 pounds of trout was planted into the lake by Calaveras Trout Farm recently, but the cold weather seems to have slowed the bite. The Brush Pile and Handicap Dock are good places to try with Power Bait or crawlers. Trollers are having their best luck using baby cowbells or blades and crawlers. Jason Mello at A-1 Bait Shop said “One angler caught a limit of trout at the Brush Pile.” Best baits for trout have been garlic dough bait, corn yellow, crawlers and white garlic Power Eggs.
• LAKE PARDEE – Pardee Lake Recreation Area is closed. The Park will reopen for the 2014 season Feb. 13 for camping and Feb. 14 for fishing.
• NEW MELONES RESERVOIR – Fishing for trout is fair, bass and catfishing are slow. There have been some pretty cold days and freezing nights. The cold surface temperature will move the trout shallow toward the surface making them easier to catch for both trolling anglers and bank anglers. Bass fishing is slow. The fish seem to be spread out from deep to shallow water anywhere from 5 to 70 feet. Try using a spoon fished vertically through the balls of bait. Usually, if you catch a fish or two, it will trigger the school and create a feeding frenzy. Fishing for catfish is just fair.
• MODESTO RESERVOIR – Fishing has gotten slow. What few bass that are biting are nice ones up to 5 pounds. Joe Ryan of Waterford has been successful using a trout colored Senko. Normally the bass head to the deep hole at the inlet, but have not showed up there yet.
• TULLOCH RESERVOIR – Trout fishing has been good one day and off the next. Fishing guide Monte Smith of Gold Country Sportfishing fished the reservoir a couple times lately. He had a good day with his father one day fast trolling lures and then with a client he only managed a few fish.
– Western Outdoor News