Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Dec. 14, 2015.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
Sturgeon fishing continues to improve with the best action from the Sherman Island Power Lines west towards Suisun Bay. The diamondbacks are migrating towards Suisun Bay in their annual migration west. The warmer water temperatures have improved the action, and lamprey eel continued to be the top bait with the absence of grass shrimp and the scarcity of ghost shrimp in area bait shops. Salmon roe hasn’t been working that well, but this bait will work again within the coming months. Striped bass action has been good for some, and the flat water and overcast conditions in the north Delta have created ideal conditions for a late afternoon topwater bite and a steady swimbait bite throughout the day. Large glidebaits continue to produce for experienced fishermen in the north Delta near Liberty Island, but the fish have scattered. Heavy fog in the mornings has led to treacherous conditions in the Delta. The bait bite is in full wintertime mode with the stripers just picking up the bait and holding it. Trolling has been best near Collinsville, but the recent winds may muddy up the water.
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▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
The hyacinth has been back in force in the east Delta due to large tides, wind, and rain during the past week. The hyacinth is breaking off of the shorelines and clogging up back sloughs along with floating in main waterways. Striped bass continue to be abundant in the San Joaquin River, but the majority of fish are on the small side. Spooning with P-Line Laser Minnows or Blade Runner spoons, tossing Optima’s Double AA or Bubba Shad swimbaits in chartreuse tail or shad-patterns are working, or soaking frozen shad are all working. Launch ramps in the Stockton metropolitan area remain closed, but Paradise Point Marina off of Eight Mile Road remains operational. The removal of the False River saltwater barrier has been completed, but boaters must use extreme caution and pay attention to the buoys when traveling through this popular route.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
Finally opened up after 2 1/2-month low flow closure on Friday around noon, and flows backed up and blew out the mouth, letting in fresh steelhead, kings and coho salmon, according to Scott Heenstra of Kings Sport and Tackle. Anglers were getting steelies on flies, Cleos and roe under a float on Friday and Saturday with flows around 500 cfs. Flows to hit 3,000 at Guerneville Monday, but should be fishing by late Tuesday or Wednesday. Call ahead for sure.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
Big numbers of stripers remain in the Sacramento between Knight’s Landing and Colusa. Salmon season ended Dec. 16. Sturgeon fishing was slow at Knight’s Landing, but rain over the weekend may draw new fish in.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Salmon season ended with decent fishing around the Port of Sacramento. Some stripers are being caught by jiggers at the port. Fishing for catfish is poor with cooler water conditions.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
Rains blew out the river to the highest level in four years—42,000 cfs on Sunday morning. The river is not expected to fish again until the weekend. Contrary to the past few years with low water, expect the steelhead to be higher up in the system when it clears up, said WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Oregon
The beginning of winter steelhead season has started out rough on the fish and hard on the angler. The river had next to zero water between the banks most of last month, but now over the last week it has poured down rain so hard that there is flooding, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. Now, just as soon as the storms give a few days of clear skies, the South Fork of the Coquille river will drop in fairly quickly, leaving anglers some rewarding steelhead fishing.
▪ COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
Early in the week there were a couple people catching 7- to 8-pound steelhead just a couple feet off of the bank on the South Fork Coquille River. It is amazing how this small piece of water will fish when most other rivers are blown out or the fish won't bite anything. By the end of the week, the river was getting too fast and high to fish and water level was still rising, said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company.
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Both rivers were blown out big time over the weekend and not expected to fish until mid week. Anglers expect to see a mix of late kings and early steelhead when the rivers come back into shape.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The Rogue hit flood stage at Agness on Sunday and wasn't expected to crest until early this week. Flows Sunday evening at Agness were 52,500 cfs, up from 15,000 the day before. The river is expected to be high and muddy the entire week. When it comes back into shape, anglers will be looking for steelhead on the lower river, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
There’s not much fishing going on now, with a few inches of snow on Saturday night. The river is up about 14 feet, and there won’t be much fishing for another week or so. “We expect fishing for steelhead to improve then,” said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. Anglers should try back-trolling dark colored plugs like the K-9, K-11 or Brad’s Wigglers in dark colors like black or red.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Roseburg, Oregon
“This is usually the week I start having some very good days on the main Umpqua river, however, we have gone from dry to extremely wet almost between casts, it seems,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “Heavy rains in Oregon have left this river and tributaries still rising and heading closer to flood stage. It will be awhile before the major rivers are going to fish, in my opinion, after looking at the forecast for future weather.”
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Rains blew the river out below the Shasta River on Sunday, but steelhead were still being caught from I-5 to Iron Gate Dam. Flows Sunday at Iron Gate were 960 cfs. Nightcrawlers fished slowly behind divers were working best.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
The river is blown out from the Shasta River to the ocean and is expected to be out for at least a week. Flows at Seiad Valley were 6,000 cfs on Sunday, while they were 40,000 cfs at Orleans. Steelhead fishing had been good before the rain.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath was blown out all last week and is now expected to be out for up to two more weeks because of heavy rains. Flows at Terwer were 82,000 cfs on Sunday, a sharp rise from 20,000 cfs the day before.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Rains blew out the entire section of the Trinity the middle part of last week before the upper end came back into shape on Friday. The best fishing was between Lewiston and Junction City, with cleaner water the further upstream anglers fish. Plenty of hatchery steelhead are being caught, and larger, fresher fish between 8 and 14 pounds were reported on the lower river before it blew out. Flows at Lewiston were 290 cfs on Sunday. Flows at Hoopa hit 12,500 cfs, and were still rising.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
The fishing has been hanging in there and rated pretty good once you’ve located either a deeper area holding a concentration of fish or just cover a lot of bank looking for scattered shallow fish. There are still fish along the north shoreline of Nice-Lucerne, but the best bet is to keep the trolling motor down and cover water with a rattlebait like a LV500 in 3 to 6 feet around the docks. A few smaller channel cats in the 10- to 14-inch range are coming from Shag Rock, but certainly not the bite seen the past few winters.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Plenty of smallmouth bass were caught by locating bait balls in 35 to 40 feet of water and easy limits of smallies to 3 1/2 pounds were spooned. The larger largemouth were caught shallow early in 5 to 20 feet of water on swimbaits, LV500s, Pointer 128s and A-Rigs.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Most bass have been largemouth with a few smallmouth caught on jigs and worms in the 20 to 30 feet of water fishing slow. A few better fish were caught yo-yoing a LV500 off transitions from the flats to channels in Cherry and Yorty creeks. Look for landlocked steelhead to start making their way up to the river mouths for their annual run to spawn now thanks to rain.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
Some areas are too shallow now for props. The shallows along the east shore from Canyon Dam to the Hamilton Branch have provided good action. Also try trolling the Prattville Jetties along the shallows toward Almanor West for a mix of browns from 2 to 3 pounds and a few rainbows pushing 4 pounds. The ramps at Canyon Dam with dock, Rec. 1 ramp open with dock, larger trailers not advised and Rec. 2 is open with dock.
▪ BAUM LAKE
Be prepared for changing weather and carry chains now. It’s been cold but a great winter fishery. The Fly Shop in Redding suggested tiny zebra midges in No. 18 to 22 or some little leeches like ZT’s swimming leech. The whole lake is fishing well but where water is coming in at the arm at the launch ramp up to the hatchery has been fishing well. Trout range from 12 to 18 inches here, but much bigger fish are available.
▪ EAGLE LAKE
Not much going on here with only 4 to 5 inches of water at the ramp. Very few folks here in general right now.
▪ MCCLOUD RESERVOIR
After the rain it might be dirty but should still be fishing well. Little tiny midges and leeches as well as dries ones work well here. Zebra midges are also a great bug. Fish all around the edges of the reservoir.
▪ PIT RIVER
Not many fishing in the snow. Use small bugs here. Try the launch ramp area where the access is shallow and access is easier.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
The creeks are not running that fast yet, but should be running good in another week if the weather keeps up. Meanwhile there are lots of trout and king salmon in the McCloud Arm in Hertz Bay and by the dam. Troll Kastmasters for fish to 4 pounds. The bass fishing picked up again. Spinnerbaits and 6-inch worms as well as Senkos and small swimbaits have been good bets for numbers of fish. The larger ones have been caught and released on larger swimbaits like Ospreys and Huddleston in ghost rainbow, shad or crawdad colors.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Fishing has been slow.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
A few salmon were caught last week as the salmon season wound down. Night fishing for stripers has been fair.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
All boat launches remain closed because of low water. Rain over the weekend will begin to give levels a boost.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
Bass and trout fishing is slow.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Cold, stormy weather has brought effort to a standstill on the upper Sacramento.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Salmon season has come to an end, but stripers and steelhead are still available.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
With salmon season over, anglers are focusing on wild rainbows in the Redding area. The last few days of the salmon season resulted in poor fishing because of muddy water.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 16.4-percent capacity. The road is plowed to the dam and 2-wheel drive accessible, past that it’s 4x4 only!! Browns were hitting spoons, Rapalas, and nightcrawlers off the dam.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 62.3-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the lake was still showing some open water and ice fishing WAS NOT SAFE YET!!! The Resort will reopen for the winter season on Dec. 19.
▪ CARSON RIVER (East)
The Markleeville area was getting snow at press time and it looks like the Sierra will see a normal winter. At the recommendation of Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge and Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO), this will be the last report until next spring. Fishing here is so slow during the cold winter months that reports get very hard to come by since so few flyfishermen fish the river. If conditions change drastically, reports will resume.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 44-percent capacity. Jeanne Graham at J&J’s Grizzly Store reported the lake was still freezing and the ice WAS NOT SAFE YET for fishing!! Call ahead for the latest ice conditions at 530-832-0270.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 40-percent capacity. Snow plowing along the lake reduced parking pretty much to residents only. Small boats were still launching, but watch out for ice on the ramp. Try jigging for macks in 50 to 80 feet of water.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the lake was still freezing over and the ice WAS NOT SAFE YET for fishing. Call ahead for the latest ice conditions at 530-993-4683.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 69-percent capacity. The area was snowed in and access will be difficult, if not impossible, for a while for anything short of a snowmobile or a lifted, chain equipped 4x4.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the area received 6 inches of snow over the weekend and more snow was in the forecast. Alpine County plows the road to the lake so call ahead for the latest conditions to the Sodaro at 530-694-2511.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 63-percent capacity. The lake was getting heavy rain when WON called on Sunday. A kayaker caught a 30-inch, 12-pound, 3-ounce mack while casting a Kastmaster spoon near the boat ramp, otherwise fishing was slow with the foul weather.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
There was a white-out blizzard blowing through the region when WON called and weekenders were trying desperately to get out of town—think traffic gridlock and lots of accidents!!! Earlier in the week between storms, fishing was good on both ends of the lake. Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported catching limits of 4- to 6-pound macks in less than an hour trolling 180 to 220 feet deep at Flick Point on North Shore. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported “lights out” mooching for 3- to 6-pound macks at 180 to 200 feet deep at South Shore from the Tahoe Keys to Edgewood.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 25.2-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports recommended 4-wheel drive only to this lake. Fishing was slow and no ice had formed yet at press time. Call ahead for the latest conditions to Mountain Hardware and Sports at 530-587-4844.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a slow week of fishing due to the weather. Shore anglers caught 4 double-digit cutthroats from the north and south ends of the lake. The top fish was a 19 1/2 pounder caught by Kevin Hurley of Rocklin casting a beetle at Monument. Next up was an 18 pounder hooked on a Clouser Minnow by Jonathan Wexler of Denver at Dago Bay. Strong winds kept boats off the lake all this past week, according to George Molino at Cutthroat Charters.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported there was 2 to 3 feet of snow on top of 6 inches of ice, so bring a shovel and an auger to fish. Ice fishing was good for cutthroats to 14 inches using bay shrimp and worms in 4 to 6 feet of water along the dam.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 41.1-percent capacity. The area received over a foot of new snow and the ice isn’t safe yet for fishing—need any more reasons to stay home?? Colder weather this week could firm up the ice though.
▪ STAMPEDE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 12-percent capacity. With the recent snows, access to the lake was 4x4 only according to Mountain Hardware and Sports. The lake had not iced over yet.
▪ TRUCKEE RIVER
At the recommendation of Mountain Hardware and Sports, since the river flows are so low and fishing will be tough with the increasingly strong winter conditions, this will be the last report until more positive fishing conditions return in early spring.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 52-percent capacity. The area was snowed-in this past weekend and access will be difficult at best for anything less than a lifted, chain equipped 4x4. Trying to tow a boat in here would be inadvisable at this time, according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service.
▪ WEST WALKER RIVER
At the recommendation of Pam Hamic at the West Walker Motel, in light of the fact that the river was running extremely low and it was snowing whenWON called, this will be the last report until warmer weather and more positive fishing conditions return. It looks like there will be some decent snow melt next year and more normal flows may resume by early spring.
Rough seas kept boats including California Dawn, Happy Hooker and the fleet from Berkeley Charter Boats tied tightly to the docks. Berkeley Flats produced decent counts of striped bass.
▪ BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING
Lawson’s Landing was the northernmost spot where boats were able to get out and then only once. The trick was to get quickly to a local reef zone, quickly hammer a limit of rockfish and maybe lingcod and then hustle back to port before the heavy seas had too many chances to overcome you.
There was one chance, early in the week to get a boat out and New Huck Finn did the honors by braving her way through the waters past the Gate and coming back with limits of rockfish and some lingcod.
Swells that peaked at 35 feet kept everyone but a couple of crazies well away from the water. The best that can be said is that no one tried to fish, therefor there was no loss of life. With such rough water, there were no crabbing trips to catch crabs for domoic acid level testing.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Shore fishing was the only possibility and there was precious little opportunity for that, considering the truly deadly seas. Most folks concentrated on getting ready for next season and continuing preparations for the Dungeness season that we all hope comes before Christmas.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Queen of Hearts worked for lingcod but caught mostly rockfish at mid-week, during a week of heavy seas. Stripers bit in the surf, mostly at night near Mori’s Point, Pacifica. The pier was closed temporarily due to a dangerous combination of tides and swells, then reopened and people got perch, rockfish, sharks and rays.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Boats such as Bass Tub and Lovely Martha stayed at the dock due to rough weather and seas outside the Gate. Argo worked San Pablo Bay and caught stripers. South San Francisco anglers monitoring the South Bay during the prolonged weather system expect that striped bass fishing will bust wide open after the rains stop and the bass start chasing baitfish.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
No trout plant last week due to the rainy weather on Thursday, but another 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbows is expected this week, weather permitting. The best action is from the banks along the dam or the Boat House Docks with white crappie jigs tipped with a nightcrawler under a bobber, various colors of trout dough bait, or Kastmasters. The fish are oriented to the shoreline and the surface, and larger fish to 6 pounds have been taken in the past week. The annual trout derby will run until March 6, 2016 with a one-time $7.00 entry fee. The launch is still on the pavement with a courtesy dock.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
A plant of 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows was split between the North Shore Launch Ramp and the South Shore Pond on December 10. The best fishing has been coming from the North Shore Day Use area with various colors of trout dough bait, inflated nightcrawlers, or spoons. The total plant for the season is currently 14,100 pounds. Trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters are working best from the banks. Bass fishing is solid with plastics on the drop-shot or with jigs on a slow presentation. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open along with both ramps at the North Shore.
▪ DON PEDRO
Bass fishing has been a grind, and the recent Fresno Bass Club Tournament of Champions produced the best action on plastics at depths from 20 to 50 feet with limited action on spinnerbaits or vertical jigs. Ron Red won the year end tournament with a quality mixed limit of largemouth and spotted bass. The fish are into a wintertime mode, migrating into deep water. Finesse techniques and a slow presentation are necessary. No trout reports, but trollers should return to the lake with the turnover resulting from the recent cold spell. The lake held at 32% of capacity.
▪ NEW McCLURE
The launch ramp is closed with the lake at 6% of capacity, and few fishermen are taking the long walk to the water’s edge. Bass fishing is fair at best, but the spotted bass remain active for those launching kayaks or float tubes sending down small plastics on the drop-shot. A few catfish have been landed on live crawdads. A-1 Bait in Snelling is open on the weekends with a full supply of live minnows and crawdads.
▪ NEW HOGAN
The lake’s level is very low, and few fishermen are targeting the lake. Striped bass are abundant for shoreline fishermen tossing flukes, Hairraisers, or swimbaits from the shoreline or soaking frozen shad or anchovies. The launch ramp is still open, but there is no courtesy dock, creating difficult conditions for a larger vessel.
▪ NEW MELONES
Trollers are on hold, waiting for the trout to rise from the depths, but the rainbows should be moving into shallow water along the shorelines within the coming weeks. Spotted bass continued to be the top draw, with the fish holding in deeper water chasing the shad schools. A finesse technique is important in the 56-degree water, and plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head along with jigs are the top techniques. Catfishing has slowed with the cooler water temperatures, but crappie are starting to get active. The launch ramp is limited to the dirt ramp at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle in essential. The area around the dam has been buoyed off due to strong currents from water releases. The lake is at 11% of capacity, but it rose a half foot this past week.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Even though this river is open to year-round fishing with artificial, barbless lures above Folsom Lake and below Hwy 49, the arrival of a real winter will make fishing here nearly impossible or too slow to find reports, so this will be the last report until spring unless there is a drastic change in conditions.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 36-percent capacity—up 4 feet this past week with all the rain. Bass fishing pressure was heavy this past week but no big fish were caught—just a lot of dinks.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is at 8.5-percent capacity. North Shore Resort was closed due to the rain and no report was available.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is still 68 feet from full. Collins Lake Resort reported very light fishing pressure this past week due to the weather. A few rainbows to 3 1/2 pounds were caught at the dam and the rental dock on floating dough bait.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is at 90-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported houseboaters were catching limits of 12- to 14-inch rainbows off the backs of their boats using worms and floating dough bait.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 26-percent capacity—actually up 1 1/2 feet with all the rain! Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the bass bite had slowed due to the weather and colder water temps, but experienced anglers were still catching 40 fish per day with 1/2-day trips producing 25 bass. The bite was still very subtle using drop-shot and darthead worms in shad, brown, red, and purple. There was a good reaction bite on points using the Persuader Image Blade spinnerbait with a Keitech swimbait trailer to mimic the pond smelt. Bass were mostly 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounders with a few fish to 2 1/2 pounds. The bass were deeper on the walls and points all over the lake at 15 to 30 feet deep. Launching conditions were getting worse at both the Spillway and Bidwell—4X4 only.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 92.5-percent capacity. The poor weather made for light fishing pressure and few reports, according to NID staff.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 44.1-percent capacity. Launching was easier for boats to bass boat size and smallmouth bass were still active on rocky banks. Jim Caldwell at NID reported very light fishing pressure—one boat this past week.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 134.7-foot elevation at press time—86.8-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported duck hunters were shooting in the direction of boaters venturing near their decoys, so let them have the lake until the season is over since the fishing was slow anyway. The safe bet was trying for steelhead in the channel at Wilbur Road using nightcrawlers.
– Western Outdoor News