Top Picks• AMERICAN RIVER – The fish screens at Nimbus Hatchery were pulled, giving salmon and steelhead free passage into Nimbus Basin. The salmon were dark and well past prime, but more and more steelhead showed up. The salmon closure area will reopen to fishing Jan. 1, but unless there are some storms soon flows likely will be drastically reduced, killing countless eggs ready to hatch.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento – The salmon fishing season is over, but most anglers already had switched to striped bass and sturgeon. It was excellent again in the Deep Water Channel for boaters trolling, jigging, or drifting minnows. Bankies didn’t catch as many as boaters but they did fairly well on bloodworms and sardines in the Turning Basin. A few sturgeon were caught at Hood Franklin and South River Road.
• DELTA REGION, Sacramento River side – Stripers to 2 pounds were caught by fishermen targeting the linesides with live splittail. Salmon roe was best for sturgeon in the Pittsburg/Martinez area, and live jumbo minnows picked up schoolies in the Deep Water Channel.
• DELTA REGION, San Joaquin River side – The stripers and sturgeon have adjusted to the two weeks of freezing temperatures, and they are biting again. The flats and shoals on the main river held schools of keepers, and they were vulnerable to swimbaits, topwater lures or spoons. Sturgeon fishing improved from central Antioch to east of the Antioch Bridge. Fresh shad still could be available in bait shops from Stockton to Pittsburg for a few more weeks.
• CAMANCHE LAKE – Fishing for trout was excellent. More than 1,800 pounds of Mount Lassen rainbow trout were planted. Bank anglers had the best luck using a variety of Power Baits and eggs, while boat anglers had the best bite top trolling with grubs or lures.
SACRAMENTO VALLEY• FEATHER RIVER – Steelheading slowed, with anglers hooking perhaps only a half dozen fish. The river was very low, making running a large boat difficult, so it was mostly wading and driftboating using Glo-Bugs and nightcrawlers. Fly fishers used small nymphs, San Juan Worms and alevin imitations.
• FOLSOM LAKE – Bass fishing continued to be slow, but some were caught by slowly drop-shot Robo-Worms from 15 to 25 feet deep. A better bet was to drift minnows up the North Fork and off the Peninsula. Trout fishing for planters was pretty good by the boat ramp and over rock piles, especially on minnows.
• RANCHO SECO LAKE – Fishing for trout from shore and small non-gas-powered boats was good, aided by plants and cooler water.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff – Late fall salmon fishing slowed in numbers as the closure approached, but the largest fish of the season were taken – 52- and 54-pounders in the Los Molinos area.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding – Trout fishing continued to be very good, and steelhead fishing improved around Battle Creek. Some nice fresh late-fall kings continued to show up.
MOTHER LODE• AMADOR LAKE – “Trout fishing is good,” said Debbie Grayson at Lake Amador Store, with fishermen using ’crawlers, Power Eggs and Power Worms. But the 15- to 20-pound trout swimming around the lake have avoided fishermen’s baits.
– Western Outdoor News