Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Dec. 28, 2015.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Steelhead season in the salmon spawning area above Ancil Hoffman Park opens Jan. 1. Flows are around 500 cfs, low for this time of year, but steelhead are expected to be available. Drifting roe and nightcrawlers for shore is the best bet.
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▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 56 feet from full. 20 to 30 anglers per day were fishing here this past week and most were catching 2 to 4 rainbows using worms and floating dough bait. The dam and rental dock were still the hot spots for trout.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
The wall of mud and debris made its way down from the Sacramento River at the end of the week, and the sturgeon bite took off in response to the high and muddy water. The upper Sacramento Delta from Hood to Clarksburg has been a hot location as well as upper Suisun Bay. The water has dropped into the high 40-degree range, but the sturgeon continue to bite lamprey eel and salmon roe. Shrimp baits remain very scarce. Striped bass action has slowed with the cold water, and the fish are in a full wintertime mode with a very lethargic bite. Cut baits with scent are the best option for success.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
The hyacinth plague is dissipating in the east Delta, but the fishing action has slowed with the colder weather. The best action is in the warmer waters of Discovery Bay with swimbaits or Hair Raisers for those chasing the boils. The water is warmer on the Indian Slough side of the river. Crappie are also active in Discovery Bay with mini-jigs or small minnows. Striped bass fishing is best on the anchor with frozen shad or cut sardines loaded with scent. The launch ramps in the Stockton metropolitan area are starting to open up as the hyacinth is dying off. 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.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
Sturgeon fishing improved last week near Knight’s Landing, as muddy water pulled in more fish from the delta. Roe and ghost shrimp and eel combinations have been working best for over-size fish and keeper-size sturgeon.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Some stripers are being caught in the deepwater channel and Port of Sacramento area on spoons and swimbaits. Trolling swimbaits in deep water has been working best.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
Flows finally became fishable after four weeks of being blown out, and steelhead are being caught all over the river, but the lower section was best on Sunday for hatchery fish, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Martin’s clients put 4 fish in the boat Sunday, but flows were still pushy. The river is expected to be in prime shape all week long.
▪ COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
Christmas weekend was a success for the few anglers who fished off the bank of the South Fork of the Coos River. A dropping river and very little fishing pressure made for a good combination for catching hatchery steelhead. Bait worked well on most any day. “A friend of mine limited out on this last Sunday using a simple pink /white corky with a little piece of white yarn.,” said WON Field Reporter and tackle manufacturer Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “My friend said the fish were still next to the bank and it was the very last moments of the drift that he hooked his steelhead. As the water drops, these fish will move off the bank and more to the center of the river. The returning run of steelhead to this river has some of best hatchery numbers in Southern Oregon.”
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk was fishable for the first time in nearly two weeks on Sunday, dropping to 4.4 feet with green water. Some late kings are still being caught, along with early steelhead. The Sixes should be fishable this week and have a mix of late kings and steelhead. Kings can still be kept on the Elk after Jan. 1, but the Sixes closes for salmon fishing Dec. 31, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, South Bay, Oregon
Over the last week the West Fork of the Millacoma River went from high and muddy to a perfect clear green with a 4-foot visibility and water levels perfect for floating the river in a drift boat the day after Christmas. Local reports are that bobber and roe are the hot ticket for catching these chrome steelhead this past weekend. The fishing should remain good all of this next month if the river doesn't blow out.
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, East Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
“Winter steelheading here was good over the weekend. Not everyone was catching fish, but enough to keep hopes and expectations high for everyone I spoke with,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “The trails following the river made it easy for me to access anglers and ask how they were doing. Eggs under a float was what most were using. I have done very well myself using a jig drifted under a bobber in past years on this small river.”
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
With flows of 10,500 cfs on Sunday at the Agness gauge, the lower Rogue was in prime shape for plunkers and almost low enough for jet boats to anchor and run plugs. The river had been blown out for more than a week, but should fish well this week for steelhead. Huntley Park and Lobster Creek are the best bets for early season steelhead, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ SMITH RIVER
The Smith River dropped into shape on Christmas day, just in time for almost every boat on the river to catch bright, fresh steelhead, including the occasional late king salmon, according to guide andWON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. There’s more wild steelies in the upper river, and more hatchery steelhead in the lower section.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Roseburg, Oregon
Unfortunately, the North Umpqua has remained high and muddy, making it unfishable from a boat and undesirable to fish from the bank. It is on the drop and with any luck it will be fishable by the upcoming weekend.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Oregon
With all the foul weather over the last three weeks, the South Umpqua has been raging with strong muddy currents and flooding at times. It could be fishable during the upcoming weekend if we don't get any big rainstorms between now and then. “I would recommend fishing in the Stanton Park area of the river due to it's ability to clear faster than the lower section of this river,” according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
The far upper section of the Klamath below Iron Gate Dam was fishing well for steelhead, although pressure has been very light. Flows on Sunday were 1,080 cfs. Nightcrawlers fished slowly behind divers are working best.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
The middle section of the Klamath was still high and colored on Sunday, but could drop into good shape for steelhead by the end of the week. Flows Sunday were 2,530 cfs at Seiad Valley. Side-drifting roe and yarn will work best when the river is fishable again.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath remains blown out, with flows of 21,500 cfs on Sunday.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Hatchery steelhead have stacked up between Douglas City and Lewiston, with guides calling the action the best in a decade. Roe fished below bobbers is working best, as flows from Lewiston Dam are just under 300 cfs. Stoneflies and prince nymphs are producing for fly anglers.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
Now in the middle of winter, the bite will not change until the weather does. Swimbaits and deep diving crankbaits on the rock piles around Rattlesnake Island, Shag Rock and Henderson Point may produce a few big bass. Numbers of smaller keeper fish are active and biting plastic worms. Catfish have been active under and around the schools of baitfish along Highway 20 from Glenhaven and east towards Clearlake Oaks.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Rain muddied up the water, so the trout bite was not so good. Try the first hour before and after sunrise, as those are the only times they would bite. Anything in light catching colors such as Apex spinners, little Speedy Shiners in gold and silvers or drifting minnows works. Fish the mainland off points for bigger bass with jigs or spoons.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Trolling has been the best technique for steelhead on the move, 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
The shallows along the eastern shore from Canyon Dam to the Hamilton Branch provided fair action for rainbow trout. 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
Not much change here as the whole lake continues to fish well, but be prepared for cold weather and chains. Tiny zebra midges or some little leeches have been working well. As always this time of year check weather conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ MANZANITA RIVER
Now frozen and closed.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
When it recovers from the rain, try tiny midges and leeche. Zebra midges are also a great bug here. Fish the edges of the reservoir, especially where there is water coming in. As always this time of year check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ PIT RIVER
Try Pit 3 with small bugs at the launch ramp area where the access is shallow. As always this time of year check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weathe and snow.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
For numbers of smaller bass, try spinnerbaits and 6-inch worms as well as Senkos and small swimbaits. The larger ones have been caught and released on larger swimbaits like Ospreys and Huddleston, just match the hatch. Trout are scattered and depths have been from the surface down to 60 feet for trolling or jigging, but most are focused on bass.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Striper fishing is slow. A few steelhead are being caught in the low flow section.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
The lake was 373 feet above sea level on Sunday, up 20 feet from the week before. The Granite Bay launch is open. Dirty water has limited success. Look for bass suspended in 20 to 60 feet of water.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
Bass and trout fishing is slow.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Conditions are good for fly anglers targeting wild rainbows, but cold weather has kept most fishermen away from the river.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Muddy water and increased flows has slowed striper fishing.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Despite recent storms, conditions remain good above Anderson for anglers fishing for wild rainbows. Fishing has been good. Beads and Glo Bugs have been working best.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 20-percent capacity. A Tuesday rainstorm melted the ice at the dam leaving 20 feet of open water showing this past week before the weekend snows started. The lake could refreeze again by this weekend, with cold, clear conditions in the forecast, but call ahead for the latest conditions at (530) 587-4844 before making the trip.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 63.8-percent capacity. The Kirkwood/Carson Pass area received 6 feet of new snow this past week. Caples Lake Resort is now open for the winter season. Jon Voss at the resort reported the ice was a foot thick, but covered with deep snow, so bring a shovel to get to the ice for fishing. Worms, bay shrimp, and Kastmaster spoons were working for a mix of rainbows, browns, and macks at the dam and spillway.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 45-percent capacity. Jeanne Graham at J&J Grizzly Store reported the ice was safe at the dam for fishing with some open water still showing on the main lake. Use extreme caution when on the ice. Rainbows were hitting worms, floating dough bait, and jigs. The road gets plowed to the dam, but the road to Mallard was icy and 4-wheel drive was strongly recommended.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 43-percent capacity. The lake was still open with no ice and launching small boats was still possible at the ramp. Shore anglers may find a shortage of parking due to snow plowing along Donner Pass Road, but parking was available at the boat launch facility—walk from there.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the ice was still not safe for fishing. The road to the dam was plowed, but watch out for icy conditions—4-wheel drive was recommended.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 69-percent capacity. The area was still snowed in.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
The lows were in the single digits—like 6 degrees!!! New snow could be a problem on the road to the lake, so call Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge at(530) 694-2251 for the latest access conditions.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Shore anglers and trollers were catching a mix of small rainbows and macks. The roads in the recreation area were icy and 4-wheel drive was recommended by the folks at Sly Park Resort.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing was running in from a morning trip when WON calledSunday morning and reported he had boat limits of 1- to 4-pound macks caught trolling 200 feet deep at North Shore. At South Shore, Tahoe Sportfishing was getting out once or twice during the week and finding good action right out in front of Ski Run and the Keys for 3- to 6-pound macks mooching the bottom in 180 to 200 feet of water.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 26.3-percent capacity. The rains and wind that hit this past Tuesday melted the ice at Prosser Creek and ice fishing was not recommended. Cold, clear weather forecast for this week could refreeze the ice on Prosser Creek but call ahead before making the trip to Mountain Hardware and Sports at (530) 587-4844.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported shore fishermen outscored the boaters this past week. The top 2 fish reported to Crosby’s were 18 pounders, both caught on flies from the shore. Recommended flies were the Popcorn Beetle, black woolly worm, Midnight Cowboy, Stanley Streamer, Clouser Minnow, according to guide Doug Ouellette at Pyramid Lake Guide Service.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported good action for 12- to 14-inch cutthroats using worms and bay shrimp, but anglers need to dig down through up to 3 feet of snow to get to the ice to auger a hole—bring a shovel.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 44.9-percent capacity. Thick ice and deep snow made for mixed fishing conditions—good ice, but have to dig down through up to 3 feet of snow to get to it to fish. Try near the dam with worms and bay shrimp.
▪ STAMPEDE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 12-percent capacity. The snowstorm this past week closed the road to the lake to everything but snowmobiles. This will be the last report until spring.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
The trout season opens Jan. 1.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 56-percent capacity. The area was still snowed in. Even if SMUD plows the road, it could be icy and dangerous in the shady areas, so 4-wheel drive and chains were recommended—better yet just stay away until the roads are clearer.
Not many trips were run by the renowned Berkeley fleet during Christmas week however El Dorado made it out to North Islands Saturday and Sunday to load up on rockfish and lingcod to 21 pounds before the Dec. 31 rockfish closure.. PBers and shore fishers hooked striped bass from Bay waters.
▪ BODEGA BAY
New Sea Angler hung a right around the corner and ran for Timber Cove where her 29 anglers on Saturday stacked up the rockfish and lingcod. On Sunday the boat fished Salt Point and did even better. Groundfish season closed for boaters on Dec. 31. Shore fishers didn’t have any real opportunity to fish until the weekend and then were mostly limited to protected beaches and the jetties.
Taking advantage of the much improved weather over the weekend, New Huck Finn, New Salmon Queen and Sea Wolf all made runs to the islands where they smacked the rockfish and put aboard good counts of lingcod up to 20 pounds. Groundfish season closed Dec. 31.
Crab tests showed reduced levels of domoic acid, sparking hopes for a crab season opener in the foreseeable future. Local jetties were a bit chilly in the mornings, but kelp greenlings and various perch showing a willingness to eat heartily.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Shiny new fishing rods and reels and their smiling owners had to wait a day or two until the weather subsided and it was safe and sane to go fish the Noyo Jetty or the rocky shoreline of Old Mill for kelp greenling, cabezon, lingcod and rockfish.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Huli Cat and Riptide made it out on Sunday to hook up with rockfish and lingcod from Martins Beach to San Gregorio, but for the most part there were very few boat trips. Shore fishers caught rubberlip and barred surfperch. Pacifica Pier remains closed due to damages and locals hope it can be repaired by the time crab season is opened.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Boat traffic thinned out noticeably but there were options including stripers in South, Central and San Pablo bays. Argo fished Tuesday and got 3 bass for 5 people in San Pablo Bay, where they also caught better than 20 sharks on the anchor during ebb tide.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
Heavy inflow from last week’s storm brought the lake up 12 feet, but the water remains relatively clear. The best bank action remains at the Boat House docks, the dam, and in the back of the lake near Jackson Creek. The last plant was on December 17 with another plant scheduled for January 4. The fish are spreading out throughout the lake, and fishermen are motoring back towards Jackson Creek to anchor or fish from the bank with various colors of trout dough bait. Trolling is improving with plugs ran near the surface with the best action in the rear of the lake near Jackson Creek. The fish are oriented to the shoreline and the surface. The annual trout derby will run until March 6, 2016 with a one-time $7.00 entry fee. The launch is still on the pavement with a courtesy dock.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
A huge plant of 3600 pounds was split evenly between the North Shore Launch Ramp, the South Shore Launch Ramp, and the South Shore Pond prior to the Christmas weekend. The best action is occurring along the North Shore Day Use Area with various colors of trout dough bait on a long leader using light line. The total plant for the season is currently 18,900 pounds. Trolling continues to improve with the heavy plants, and the rainbows are hugging the shoreline and within the top 10 feet of the surface with grubs or Rapalas. Bass action has slowed with the colder water temperatures, and finesse techniques are necessary on the bottom. 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
A few bass fishermen continue to head to the lake, but the overall bass action is slow. The best bite is with plastics on the drop-shot or vertically jigged spoons in deep water to 50 feet. 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. The rainbows and king salmon should be moving towards the surface and the shorelines in response to the recent storms. The lake rose several feet to 35% of capacity.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake came up 18 feet within the past week in response to the pre-Christmas storms, and it has risen to 8% of capacity. All of the action is taking place near the Barrett Cove Launch Ramp, but few fishermen are willing to take the hike from the parking areas to the shoreline. The bass have moved into deep water, limiting bank action. Hand-carried vessels such as kayaks or float tubes can be launched into the lake, and a few fishermen are working for the occasional spotted bass in the cold temperatures with drop-shot plastics or jigs on the bottom using a slow presentation. A-1 Bait in Snelling is open on the weekends with a full supply of live minnows and crawdads.
▪ LAKE McSWAIN
Trout plants have yet to arrive, but there is a population of spotted bass, largemouth bass, and catfish coming over from the releases from upstream Lake McClure. An 8-pound largemouth bass was landed from the banks using a lure over the past weekend. With the lack of trout plants, few fishermen are heading to the lake.
▪ NEW MELONES
Bass fishing remains best with the fish holding on the bottom for the majority of the day in the cold water. Finesse techniques such as plastics on the Texas-rig, drop-shot, or darthead are working best, particularly on a dead stick presentation. The fish are not willing to chase shad, and they are very lethargic. Trout plants from the Department of Fish and Game have started, but only a few small planters are taken from the bank areas with deep water access. Trolling for trout is slow, but once the fish rise out of deep water, the action should improve considerably. 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 13% of capacity, and it rose 8 feet this past week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 40-percent capacity—up 13 feet this past week. Guide Ron Gandolfi fished here this past week and reported they only caught small 12- to 14-inch spots--no big fish or big fish bites. The bites came on drop-shot and darthead worms, jigs, swimbaits, tubes, and Senko fished on walls and points at 15 to 30 feet deep, especially around the abundant wood structure found all around the lake. Boats were still launching at Dark Day.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake was rising fast with all the runoff and the water was cold and off-color. North Shore Resort reported lots of boaters were out but fishing was slow.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is full. Skippers Cove Marina reported a troller caught a nice brown trout in front of the dam. Fishing pressure was very light due to the weather and the holidays.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 28-percent capacity—up 9 feet this past week!! Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was still very good with all the incoming water. His trips were still producing 20 to 25 bass on half-days and 40 to 45 on full days. Drop-shot and dart-head Roboworms and Calvin’s worms, tubes, worm-head Senkos, and Persuader Image Blade spinnerbaits were all working from the shore to 30 feet deep. The spinnerbait bite was good in the incoming water in the creek and river arms. Steep rocky walls and points in the Slot and main body were holding fish, but they keep on the move due to fishing pressure or while chasing bait, so you need to move until you find an active school of feeders. Bidwell ramp was closed for repairs and extension work. The Spillway was still 4-wheel drive only.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 97-percent capacity. The cold weather and the holidays had fishing pressure at a minimum, so no reports were available from NID.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 50.9-percent capacity. The cold weather and the holidays had fishing pressure at a minimum, so no reports were available from NID.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 135.2-foot elevation at press time—90.3-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported a jig bite on mud banks on outside points was producing six to eight bass per day running 2 to 4 pounds. Again—give the duck hunters plenty of space to avoid conflicts.
– Western Outdoor News