Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Dec. 21, 2015.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
A double plant of 2400 pounds with rainbows to 12 pounds including 100 additional tagged fish on Thursday. Trolling is improving with plugs ran near the surface with the best action in the rear of the lake near Jackson Creek. Bank action is decent 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. The annual trout derby will run until March 6, 2016 with a one-time $7 entry fee. The launch is still on the pavement with a courtesy dock.
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▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 66 feet from full. Collins Lake Resort reported fishing pressure was very light with all the wet weather. One shore angler from Livermore caught a limit of rainbows to 2-3/4 pounds and a 4-pound catfish using nightcrawlers and floating dough bait at the dam. The rental dock was also producing rainbows on bait.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
Sturgeon fishing took a bit of a nosedive during the past week due to smaller tides, but this week’s water movement with the king tides should lengthen the window in shallow water. Deep water windows will be affected by the greater water movement. Grass shrimp and ghost shrimp are scarce, and anglers are settling for lamprey eel, cured bloody eel, salmon roe, or pile worms. Striper fishing has also slowed with the winds muddying up the north Delta. Cold water temperatures have brought out a full wintertime bite, and the linesides are migrating towards warmer and clearer waters in the back sloughs.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
The hyacinth that has plagued the main river and back sloughs for months is starting to die off due to freezing temperatures. Striped bass are migrating towards the south Delta and west Delta in search of warmer and clearer waters. Discovery Bay is heating up for fly fishermen, drifting jumbo minnows, or tossing swimbaits. The bluegill have gone deep with the cold water. Largemouth bass can be taken on a slow presentation with ripbaits or on the bottom on a Zappu head with a Bottom Hopper Flat Dog in green pumpkin or watermelon red. The 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.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
Back to back rainstorms have kept this fish too high for drift boats all of December, and boat fishing isn’t expected to kick back into gear until after Christmas Day, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Plunkers, when they can fish, have been getting steelhead, though, so fishing is expected to be great once the river comes into shape.
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Sixes River was blown out all last week, but the Elk River dropped into shape last Wednesday and fished fairly well, with most boats catching two to four kings, according to WON writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Some of the salmon were still bright. Rains blew the Elk out again on Thursday. It was down to 5.8 feet on Sunday, still too high to fish. More rain is expected early this week. The Elk fishes best below 4.8 feet. For current flows, contact Elk River Hatchery's river hotlines at (541) 332-0405.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
High, muddy water has limited fishing this month on the lower Rogue River, but some steelhead are being caught. Last Thursday, when the Rogue dropped below 10,000 cfs, plunkers at Huntley Park caught several steelhead. The river quickly rose later that day and crested at 38,000 cfs on Friday and Saturday. It was down to 17,600 cfs on Sunday. More rain is expected this week, which could bring the river to the verge of minor flood stage.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
Rains finally brought the flows up over the 300 cfs low flow closures, and the DFW finally updated the call-in report, opening the river, just in time for some great steelhead fishing, now underway, according to Scott Heemstra at King’s Sport & Tackle in Guerneville. When the river finally broke through into the ocean the fish poured in—king salmon, coho salmon and steelhead. This is the time for steelheading on the Russian, but call ahead for conditions, and be aware of the restrictions on the river.
▪ SMITH RIVER
Storm after storm has kept this river blown out week after week except for one day last week,Wednesday, when boaters launched at The Forks and got into good numbers of steelhead, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. There’s tons of fish in the river, but getting at them is the hard part. Boaters may be able to fish again by Christmas.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Flows from Iron Gate Dam increased from 960 cfs to 1,200 cfs after heavy rain fell in Siskiyou County. Steelhead fishing remains good between the dam and Interstate 5, the only section of the Klamath not blown out. Nightcrawlers fished behind divers are working best.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
More rain last week has kept the middle section of the Klamath blown out. Flows at Seiad Valley were down to 2,700 cfs on Sunday, but expected to rise again with more rain this week.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath remained high and muddy last week and over the weekend, with flows near 30,000 cfs at Terwer. More rain is expected early this week, with flood warnings issued for Del Norte County.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Steelhead fishing remains very good on the upper Trinity between Junction City and Lewiston. Large numbers of hatchery fish are being caught on roe as well as plugs. Fresh winter-run steelhead also are beginning to show up. Flows Sunday at Lewiston were 300 cfs, and nearly 600 cfs at Junction City. The lower end of the Trinity has been high and muddy.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
Conditions here are pretty much unchanged. You can use swimbaits and deep diving crankbaits on the rock piles around Rattlesnake Island, Shag Rock and Henderson Point for a few big bass, or work minnows for numbers of them. The better bite around the lake remains in the clearer water of the mid lake. The catfish bite has shown up, but in different areas. Jigging spoons and live bait are the best methods once you locate good schools of baitfish in 28 to 35 feet of water.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Look to the deeper creek channels and cuts off in the main body in 25 to 45 feet where the bass are keeping these bait balls locked in and feeding on them for days. Good electronics definitely help and can save some time.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Steelhead have started to push up the main body and make their way up the river mouths to spawn. Trolling has been the best technique but sometimes difficult with all the standing timber due to low water. For bass fish from 25 to 35 feet with jigs, worms or spoons.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
Not much changed here except for the addition of some weather. The shallows along the east shore from Canyon Dam to the Hamilton Branch provided fair to 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 still have a dock, Rec. 1 ramp is open with a dock but larger trailers are not advised and Rec. 2 is open with a dock.
▪ BAUM LAKE
The whole lake is fishing well, but where the water comes in at the arm at the launch ramp up to the hatchery has been fishing best. Be prepared for changing weather and carry chains now as weather is here. The Fly Shop in Redding suggested tiny zebra midges in No. 18 to 22 or some little leeches like ZT’s swimming leech.
▪ EAGLE LAKE
Not much going on here with only 4 to 5 inches of water at the ramp only a few local small boats were launched when weather permitted. There are very few folks here in general right now.
▪ MCCLOUD RESERVOIR
It’s a little iffy as to how the water will look after the rain and snow this week. It might be dirty and need time to recover. When it does, try tiny midges and leeches as well as dried ones. Zebra midges are also a great bug here. Fish the edges of the reservoir, especially where there is water coming in. Snowing off and on at press time, which leads to good trout fishing this time of year.
▪ PIT RIVER
Not many fishing, as there will be snow here this week. Use small bugs here as well when the sun returns. Try the launch ramp area where the access is shallow.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
The creeks should be running good. Although the topwater bite will probably disappear with the rain and snow as the water dirties up for a few days. But there are lots of trout and king salmon as well as bass moving into the creeks and arm as they look for food. Troll Kastmasters for fish to 4 pounds. For bass try spinnerbaits and 6-inch worms as well as Senkos and small swimbaits 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. Match the hatch.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Anglers are beginning to look for steelhead, but overall action has been slow. Salmon season is now closed.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Steelhead are biting roe and yarn balls in the low flow area. Fishing improved last week. Striper fishing has been slow. Salmon season closed last Wednesday. The river is chocolate at the lower end.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
The lake was 353 feet above sea level on Sunday. All boat launches remain closed. The Granite Bay launch will open once the lake reached 369 feet. Shore fishing has been slow.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
Bass and trout fishing is slow.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Stormy weather made for slow fishing last week. Another storm is expected to hit early this week. Anglers can fish for trout with artificial lures or flies.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
Sturgeon were reported at Knight’s Landing last week. Roe and eel have been the best baits. Overall fishing is still slow, but rains upriver could draw in more fish from the delta.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Stripers are biting well near Colusa, hitting swimbaits and live minnows.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Salmon season closed last Wednesday with slow fishing for the last few days of the season. Trout fishing has been good, although heavy rain expected early in the week could limit success.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Salmon season closed last Wednesday. Stripers are being caught in the deepwater channel. Catches improved last week.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 17.8-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported there was safe ice at the dam only. Rainbows and browns were being taken using floating dough bait, bay shrimp, worms, and jigged Kastmaster spoons.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 62.5-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reopened for the winter season on Dec. 19 and reported the lake was frozen and fishing was good through 6 to 7 inches of ice. Try near the dam or the spillway with worms, bay shrimp, or a jigged Kastmaster spoon.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 44-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported ice fishermen were active at the dam. Areas further up the lake were not recommended for ice fishing, especially near Mallard Point where some open water was still showing. Wherever you are on the ice—use extreme caution!! Grizzly Road going to the lake was very icy and SLICK!! 4-wheel drive was recommended, and remember to carry chains.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 39-percent capacity. The lake was not frozen and small boats could still launch at the ramp. Boaters were jigging for macks in 60 to 80 feet of water using 4-ounce Buzz Bombs and P-Line Laser Minnows.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the lake was frozen but the ice was NOT SAFE YET for fishing, and road to the lake was icy. Use extreme caution when driving in the area—4-wheel drive and chains were recommended.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 69-percent capacity. The Crystal Basin was snowed in and accessing the areas was not recommended, according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the road to the lake was open, but with more snow in the forecast for this week he recommended calling ahead at530-694-2511. Shore anglers were picking up a few rainbows at the east end of the dam on worms and floating dough bait.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported snow was falling when WON called on Sunday morning and more was in the forecast for this week. When the weather cooperated, shore anglers were picking up a few planter rainbows at the dam and near the boat ramp.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported the weather conditions were tough for fishing, but on the days when he could get out the bite was very good for limits of 5- to 7-pound macks trolling 200 feet deep at North Shore. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported their boats were getting frozen in at Ski Run despite aerators in the marina and they were only getting out a day or two per week, then fishing off South Shore for limits of 3- to 6-pound macks mooching live bait at 180 to 220 feet deep.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 24.9-percent capacity. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported there was safe ice in the Prosser Creek arm—accessed from Hobart Mills Road or the campground road. Drivers were asked to use extreme caution when driving into the area due to icy, slick conditions and 4-wheel drive and chains were strongly recommended. Worms, floating dough bait, bay shrimp, and jigged spoons were working for rainbows.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
No report was available this week, but with the lousy weather boaters weren’t getting out. Shore fishermen were probably still picking some nice fish on the south end beaches on flies, spoons, and FlatFish.
▪ RED LAKE
Caples Lake Resort reported fishing was good for 12- to 14-inch rainbows and cutthroats through 9 inches of ice near the dam on worms and bay shrimp. Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) from South Lake Tahoe is running ice fishing guide trips here, and is a good source of info for novice and experienced anglers alike.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 42.2-percent capacity. The lake was frozen and the ice was safe at the dam. No current fishing reports were available. Contact WON if you fish here and have a good report, firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ STAMPEDE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 12-percent capacity. The road to the lake was snowed in and the only safe access was by snowmobile. This will be the last report until spring.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 53-percent capacity. The Crystal Basin was snowed in, but SMUD plows Pea Vine Ridge Road to their control facility at the dam. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported 4-wheel drive and chains were recommended when accessing this area. Fishing pressure was nil with the snow.
California Dawn woke up some rockfish and lingcod on Sunday during a trip outside the Gate. Berkeley Charter Boats sent New El Dorado III out to the Farallones where they caught limits of rockfish and 31 lingcod for 15 people.
▪ BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING
Private boat fishing was only fair after better than a week of horrendous seas and boats came back to Lawson’s Landing with just a handful of rockfish. New Sea Anglerout of Bodega Bay managed limits of rockfish and a lingcod apiece, fishing up off of Fort Ross. Shore fishers got heavily into big barred surf perch and also worked rocky surf zones for cabezon and rockfish.
Emeryville shoreline enjoyed a binge of perch activity, primarily rubberlip and pogeys. Emeryville Sportfishing sent Tigerfish out Saturday and Sunday to find some rockfish and all passengers limited out.
Swells diminished and gave people a chance to get out on South jetty where the fishing was quite good for those in the right spots and using shrimp for bait. Kelp greenling and rockfish were the main catches. An advisory against eating razor clams due to domoic acid was issued.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Without sufficient demand to run sanddab-only trips, boats stayed tied to their docks waiting for crab season to open. Shore fishers worked 3 primary spots… Old Mill, Mendocino Headlands and MacKerricher. All three spots put out plenty of kelp greenling and rockfish plus a few cabezon and lingcod.
▪ HALF MOON BAY
Queen of Hearts and Huli Cat got out and showed what good boats and crew could do, fishing between Martins Beach and Pescador for high counts of rockfish and lingcod to 7 pounds. Heavy surf kept most folks away from surf fishing.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Party boats didn’t have opportunities to fish, but private boaters managed to tear into the striped bass in South Bay (near Coyote Point and San Mateo Bridge) and Central Bay, or fished for various sharks in South Bay. A few braved the seas and fished close along the Marin Coast for rockfish and lingcod.
▪ 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 once again within the past week, and the bank bite appears to be best along the North Shore with limits reported on various colors of trout dough bait, inflated nightcrawlers, or spoons. The total plant for the season is currently 15,300 pounds. Trolling has been slow overall, but the action will improve with additional plants. Bass fishing is best at depths from 20 to 25 feet with shad-patterned plastics on the drop shot. A few catfish are taken with nightcrawlers from the banks. Trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters are working best from the banks. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open along with both ramps at the North Shore with the lake rising slightly to 24% of capacity.
▪ DON PEDRO
With slow action at Eastman and Hensley in Madera County, south valley bass fishermen have been migrating north to Don Pedro in anticipation for future tournaments. The bass action remained slow with the best action on drop-shot plastics or Senkos in shad-patterned on a dead-stick presentation. The trout are holding deep in the water column to 100 feet, and trolling remained very slow. Trout plants have started for the year, but the fish are not clinging to the shoreline, they are holding deep despite the lake in the process of turn over. The lake held at 32% of capacity.
▪ NEW McCLURE
The launch ramp remains closed with the lake at 6% of capacity, and there has been minimal change on the fishing front. Very few fishermen are taking the long walk to the water’s edge. Bank action has slowed with the bass moving into deep water. Kayakers and float tubers are drop-shotting small plastic worms in deep water. A-1 Bait in Snelling is open on the weekends with a full supply of live minnows and crawdads.
▪ NEW HOGAN
The lake level remains low at 7% of capacity, but there are a few anglers tossing reaction baits from boats for stripers in the 2- to 3-pound range. The launch ramp is open without a courtesy dock, but a few boaters are willing to work diligently to get their vessels in the water.
▪ NEW MELONES
Trout plants from the Department of Fish and Game have started, but the rainbows are holding in deeper water. The lake is in the process of turning over, but the rainbows are holding in deep water. Normally at this time of year, the rainbows will be hugging the shorelines. Trolling for trout is slow; but once the fish rise out of deep water, the action should improve considerably. Spotted bass are the most active species in the lake, and the fish are suspending from the bottom in deep water. The water temperature has dropped to the 50- to 53-degree range. Finesse techniques are best in the cold water, and plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head along with jigs and spoons are the top techniques. 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 12% of capacity, and it rose feet this past week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 36-percent capacity—up another 2 feet this past week! Bass fishermen were catching lots of small spots on worms and Senkos.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is at 9-percent capacity. The lake level rose 10 feet in the past couple of weeks and the boat ramp was back in the water. With all the wet, windy weather, fishing pressure was nil.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is at 92-percent capacity. With all the rainy weather, fishing pressure was very low. Houseboaters were catching planter rainbows in the marina on nightcrawlers.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 26-percent capacity—up another 1 1/2 feet!! Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was still very good with half-day trips producing 20 to 25 fish and full day counts up to 40 to 45 bass. With runoff finally flowing into the creek and river arms, fish were moving up into the running water if the water wasn’t too cold. Inflows were running in the high 40’s to low 50’s while the main body was still 55 to 56 degrees. Points and steep walls were still producing at 5 to 30 feet deep using drop-shot, darthead, and shakey-head worms, wormhead Senkos, tubes, and jigs. Persuader Image Blade and willowleaf spinnerbaits with a Keitech trailer were working well over the tops of newly submerged islands. Bass were running 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 pounds. Launching was still 4-wheel drive only at the Spillway and Bidwell Marina.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 90.2-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported launching was good at both Long Ravine and Orchard Springs; though fishing pressure was very light. With such light fishing pressure, no recent reports were available.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 47.4-percent capacity. With the lake level up more this past week, Jim Caldwell at NID reported all size boats should be able to launch at the marina. There was no fishing pressure at the lake this past week and snow was in the forecast for this week.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 135.1-foot elevation at press time—89.7-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported 2- to 6-pound bass were hitting jigs on mud banks on the outside points. Give the duck hunters plenty of space to avoid conflicts. Steelhead should be hitting nightcrawlers in the channel at Wilbur Road.
– Western Outdoor News