Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 4, 2016.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Steelhead season in the salmon spawning area above Ancil Hoffman Park opened Jan. 1. With flows of 500 cfs, fishing was slow on opening weekend.
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▪ CAMANCHE LAKE
Trout action is starting to heat up in response to consistent planting including another 1800 pounds released between the North Shore Launch Ramp, the South Shore Launch Ramp, and the South Shore Pond in addition to the 3600 pounds prior to Christmas. Quality rainbows have been taken from the North Shore Day Use Area with various colors of trout dough bait on a long leader using light line. Trolling is improving with the heavy plants, and the rainbows are found within the top 10 feet of the surface with medium-sized Rapalas or grubs. Bass are holding deep with jigs, 6-inch Robo Worms, or spoons on a finesse technique. The bass are found near bait. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open along with both ramps at the North Shore with the lake dropping slightly to 23% of capacity.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 63.7-percent capacity. John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was over 12 inches thick and getting thicker with 0 to 2 feet of snow on the ice depending on the wind. Ice fishing was productive at the dam and the spillway. One angler reported catching 4 nice rainbows at the dam on worms and bay shrimp.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
The river has cleared considerably within the past week, but the increasingly cold water temperatures have slowed the action for both sturgeon and striped bass. The best action is on the anchor for stripers, but a few quality fish can be taken in the north Delta on swimbaits or Alabama rigs. Sturgeon action has been “hit or miss”, with fish taken in the upper Sacramento from Clarksburg to Walnut Grove and further downriver in upper Suisun Bay. Lamprey eel remains the top bait with some anglers preferring cured eel while others are scoring with frozen eel. Shrimpbaits remain very scarce.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
The latest survey results show the lowest-ever populations for the following species: Delta smelt, longfin smelt, and American shad, and the second-lowest population for striped bass. The cold water has driven the bait south to the slightly warmer waters of the south Delta, and the action has been good for some and slow for others. 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 opening up as the hyacinth is dying off. Bluegill, crappie, and red ear perch are found off of Eight Mile Road west of Stockton.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Although a few steelhead were caught during the Jan. 1 opener, overall fishing was poor with low water conditions. Striper fishing also is slow.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
The lake was 376 feet above sea level on Sunday, up 23 feet from Dec. 20. The Granite Bay launch is open. Boaters are limited to 5 mph. Dirty water has limited success. Look for bass suspended in 20 to 60 feet of water.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
Excellent steelhead fishing this early bodes well for the rest of the season, and even better, there are lots of hatchery steelies holding in the lower river, according to WON Staff Writer Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Anglers are getting 4 to 6 fish a day, most hatchery fish, he said. Plunkers have also been doing well. Always check the river conditions and weather before making the drive here.
▪ COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
Lots of fishing pressure and not a lot of steelhead being caught, accoreding to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer, but there’s plenty of river to fish, and a storm was expected to freshen the river and bring in more fish. Guide Cooper Hedgecock has been whipping the fly rod on the river from his driftboat and doing well, but will also accommodate other fishing styles. He said that January is prime time.
▪ COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Oregon
Finally, the South Fork Coquille river is fishing consistently good with driftboats catching 6-10 winter steelhead in a day of floating the river. “Friday sounded as if it was the best day by the numbers of fish caught,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “Side drifting is a southern Oregon favorite for catching steelhead, however “bobber dogging” is becoming more popular on these shallow rivers. With baits drifting slightly higher on these shallow rivers it can offer a drift through sections of water that other styles of fishing may not work in without snagging up. This river is going to fish for a couple months and has one of the two top hatchery programs for steelhead in Southern Oregon.”
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk was 3.1 feet and clear on Sunday evening, too low for drift boat fishing. Some bright king salmon are continuing to show up at the hatchery. Salmon season is still open in the Elk. The Sixes was just under 2 feet and although low, it was still floatable. Kings must be released on the Sixes, but steelhead can be kept.
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
It is the peak of the steelhead season for the West Fork Millacoma River. The river is balancing on the edge of becoming too low, but last week it was ideal for most anglers, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “Driftboat anglers was catching limits of hatchery steelhead, and “Mick”, the new caretaker at the hatchery, said that bank fisherman up near the deadline have been tagging out with healthy chrome fish. A lot of them have been fishing bobber with jigs. A black jig with a red dot is the description Mick gave of what one of the jigs looks like.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
With flows of 5,200 cfs on Sunday, conditions remained good for steelhead between Gold Beach and Agness. Jim Carey of the Rogue Outdoor Store said plunkers are doing well at Huntley Park, the Willows, Lobster Creek and Dunkleberger. The majority of the fish are wild, with few hatchery fish showing in the catch.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
Last week was the best steelhead fishing on the river in years when all the conditions fell together perfectly, but rains were expected to blow the river out byWednesday, probably for a week or so. Plunking might still work if the river doesn’t go too high. Expect the river to be full of fish after the storm and when the river falls back into shape. Contact Kings Sport and Tackle for updates at (707) 869-2156.
▪ SMITH RIVER
Near perfect flows early in the week and great water color resulted in a good beginning for the steelhead season here, and fishing has been “good”, according to guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trip. Most driftboaters are getting 2 to 3 adult steelies a day, with several halfpounders. Watch the weather and always call ahead for river conditions.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Roseburg, Oregon
As the Umpqua River dropped in height last week, bank fisherman at Cleveland Rapids and Forks River Park in Roseburg, Oregon, were proving the winter steelhead are here. More fish were being caught near the edge of the river than out in the channels, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. Drift boats fishing the same section of river have been having a tough time hooking up fish, he said. “Downstream the power boats in the Tyee area have been doing very well anchoring close to the bank,” he said, “I received two updates telling me that small plugs mid-week were working great, and that Cop Cars (white body/ black head) had been number one color for anglers who I talked to.”
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Despite cold weather, the upper Klamath is fishing well for steelhead, with the few guides floating it reporting six to 12 steelhead a day between 2 and 7 pounds. Flows on Sunday were 902 cfs at Iron Gate. Nightcrawlers fished slowly behind divers are working best, but small plugs also are working.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Anglers are catching small adult steelhead and halfpounders near Happy Camp on roe and yarn. Flows Sunday were 1,840 cfs at Seiad Valley.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath remains blown out, although flows are down to 12,000 cfs, well below the 21,500 cfs the week before.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Steelhead fishing remains very good on the upper Trinity between Lewiston and Junction City. Hatchery steelhead have been hitting roe fished below bobbers or drifted near the bottom, as well as small plugs. Flows were 300 cfs on Sunday at Lewiston. The lower river is falling into good shape for boaters. Freezing weather last week thinned out the crowds.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
The minnow bite for bass is starting take off in 20 to 25 feet of water around baitfish concentrations. A mix of bluegill, crappie, bass and catfish were found in several areas of the mid lake. Shag Rock and Henderson Point, Hazard Reef, Glenhaven and the area around Rattlesnake Island have had both anglers and fish.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Fish the mainland off points for bigger bass with jigs or spoons. There was been very little fishing pressure here. Apex spinners, little Speedy Shiners in gold and silvers or drifting minnows have put a few trout in the box.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
There’s plenty of launch ramp to take a boat out and go fishing. Spinnerbaits, A-rigs, LV500s and crankbaits made up the bulk of bass bites in 10 to 15 feet of water. A few landlocked steelhead were caught by anglers drifting nightcrawlers under a bobber in 10 feet of water in around the mouth of Yorty Creek. Look for this bite to pick up after the next set of rains as they make their run up the creeks to spawn.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
The areas where the bait has been is frozen for now. Look for 2 1/2- to 4-pound browns and rainbows in the top 10 feet chasing pond smelt when it opens back up.
▪ 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. Try black midge patterns, burnt orange leeches and pheasant tails. As always, this time of year check weather conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
It’s colder here now, so both the fish and fishing have slowed down. Leeches are a good bet here. As always this time of year check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ PIT RIVER
Pit 5 was the better bet this past week and dark nymphs the way to go. As always this time of year check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
For numbers of smaller bass, try spinnerbaits and 6-inch worms as well as Senkos and small swimbaits like Ospreys and Huddleston for bass. With more rain on the way, the creek arms such as the McCloud and Sac arms will be good bets for both bass and trout. Trout are scattered in depths from the surface down to 60 feet for trollers or jigging but most are focused on bass.
▪ 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, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
Roe and eel are tricking sturgeon holding near Knight’s Landing. Anglers are waiting fresh fish to move in from the delta. Striper fishing is slow, although some are being caught bear Verona on swimbaits.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Striper fishing remained slow, as cold, dirty water has limited success.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Fishing for native rainbow trout continues to be good near Redding, with good conditions. Drifting beads, Glo Bugs and rubber leg flies has worked best. Salmon fishing is closed.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Trolling near the bottom is taking some stripers in the deepwater channel. Fish between 10 and 12 pounds are being reported. Jigging for stripers has been slow.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 21.5-percent capacity. The freezing weather this past week refroze the ice and ice fishing was good at the dam for a mix of browns and rainbows. The road is plowed by the county road maintenance crews to the dam, so access is good.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 45-percent capacity. Jeanne Graham at J&J’s Grizzly Store reported there was safe ice all over the lake—8 to 12 inches at the dam and on the upper end at Fairview, and 5 inches at Mallard Point. Ice fishing success was generally low, with most anglers only catching a fish or two on worms. One angler reported catching 3 trout just to the right of the dam near the campground on worms, but they were big at 18 to 24 inchers!! The 6th Annual John Pato American Cancer Society Ice Fishing Derby is scheduled for February 6 with a $20 entry fee. Use caution when driving to the lake due to possible icy conditions—4-wheel drive was recommended.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 40-percent capacity. A boater launched and toplined orange/gold F11 and F13 Rapalas for macks with good success catching a few 4 to 5 pounders and losing one about 10 pounds. The east end of the lake was the hot spot. China Cove had a big concentration of macks schooled up at 80 to 90 feet deep that would be a good target for jigging a 4-ounce Buzz Bomb or Laser Minnow.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 19-percent capacity. There’s safe ice for fishing here now—5 inches thick at the dam, according to Wiggins Trading Post. Anglers reported catching 2 or 3 rainbows to 1 1/2 pounds on worms and floating dough bait. Use caution on the road to the dam due to possible icy conditions.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Snow is forecast for all this week, so access will be closed.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported that ice fishing was good near the dam through 3 to 4 inches of ice—marginally safe so use extreme caution. With lows down to 4 degrees, the ice should get thicker soon. One angler reported catching three 14- to 16-inch rainbows in only 30 minutes.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported shore anglers were picking up a few planter rainbows at the dam and near the boat ramp on worms and floating dough bait.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported doing well for limits of 1- to 7-pound macks trolling 180 to 200 feet deep when the weather was calm—on windy days the fishing was tough and uncomfortable. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported “it was so freakin’ cold our boats were frozen in at the docks” and none got out to fish this past week.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 25.6-percent capacity. The ice was now safe at the dam where a few rainbows were hitting spoons, jigs, and worms. Access to the Prosser Creek arm was very difficult to all but hardy snowshoers and snowmobilers.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a slow week with the bitter cold and windy weather. Only 4 big cutthroats were reported topped by a 19-pound, 1.6-ounce lunker caught by Morgan Young of Chicago Park, Cal., from the shore at the marina on a woolly bugger. Boaters had a tough time getting on the water with SE winds beating onto the launch ramp at Pelican, and with the lake so low, boats have to be backed way out on the ramp to get them deep enough to float off the trailer. Doug Ouellette at Pyramid lake Guide Service reported flyfishing from shore was best just before the storm fronts and during the storms in the late afternoons on windblown beaches using Popcorn Beetles, woolly buggers, Midnight Cowboys, and Pyramid Pollywogs.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported ice fishing was good for cutthroats using bay shrimp and worms at the dam.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 44.1-percent capacity. There was plenty of safe ice here—up to 12 inches thick. Use worms and bay shrimp at the dam for rainbows and browns.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
The ramp at the Douglas County Park was open for launching. Shore fishermen were doing very well for trout. The Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby was going strong with the biggest fish weighed at press time running 5 pounds, 10 ounces. In the first 2 days of the derby, which opened January 1, Dave Rossment at the Topaz Lodge reported they had weighed in 180 rainbows over 2 pounds (the minimum size for prize consideration).
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 56-percent capacity. Snow forecast for all this week will close access to this lake.
California Dawn fished the Farallones on Thursday, the closing day of rockfish and managed 23 limits of both rockfish and lingcod to 21 pounds. Private boaters worked up towards Carquinez Straits for bass or the South Bay for sturgeon. El Dorado fished the Farallones 3 days for a combined score of limits of rockfish and 132 lingcod for 66 folks.
▪ BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING
New Sea Angler got out and rounded up the rockfish and lingcod, hitting some favored spots that produced well. Surf fishing was the new thing after the boat-bases groundfish season ended. Rockfish were taken from the jetty at Bodega Harbor, red tail and barred surf perch were taken throughout the area and several striped bass were caught from the surf near Lawson’s Landing.
Boats from the Emeryville Landing made it out to enjoy the good weather and great fishing on closing day, Dec. 31. Full limits of rockfish and roughly 2 lingcod per rod were taken aboard Sea Wolf, New Huck Finn and New Salmon Queen.
The South Jetty was a real producer of rainbow perch, kelp greenling and black rockfish. The north jetty did almost as well and red tail perch were caught at the bottom of the hill off Table Bluff.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Soldier’s Point and Old Mill were exceptionally popular places late in the week before the storms hit hard, because the fish were whacking baits with abandon. Good catches included cabezon, kelp greenling, black rockfish and various perches.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
The last few days of groundfish season was a busy time for Huli Cat which made successful runs down the coast to fish off of San Gregorio. Pacifica Pier was partially reopened, though the L portion was fenced off. Surf fishers tore into both red tail and barred surf perch.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Striped bass, leopard shark and a sturgeon provided the action for Argo running out of Fisherman’s Wharf and fishing San Pablo Bay, except on closing day of rockfish season when she plied the productive waters off of Bolinas. South Bay fishing improved for sturgeon, thanks to some weather and herring spawns, so Boss Hogg fished the South Bay for sturgeon to 54 inches.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
The lake continues to rise slowly, and the water has been clearing as a result of the past 10 days without rain. Trollers are starting to get in on the action with white curly-tailed grubs or Rapalas ran near the shoreline and within the top five feet of the surface in the rear of the lake. Bank fishing remains best from Boat House docks, the dam, the spillways, and in the back of the lake near Jackson Creek. Weekly plants are scheduled, and a plant is anticipated on January 4. 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.
▪ DON PEDRO
The upcoming Best Bass Tournament on Saturday, January 9, has brought out a number of anglers pre-fishing, and best action is on the bottom with jigs or plastics on the darthead or drop-shot on a slow presentation. There is an occasional ripbait fish, and the swimbait should be a possibility with the recent trout plant. A number of small rainbows in the 9- to 10-inch range are holding near the Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp. The water temperature is 53.5 degrees in the marina, and it is possible that the lake has not turned over yet. Trout trolling in the main lake is slow with the holdover rainbows still holding deep. The lake held at 35% of capacity.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake has risen to 9% of capacity and 606.40 feet in elevation, and the launch ramp may be opened once the lake hits 615 feet in elevation. Area bass fishermen are looking forward to the opening of the ramp. A-1 Bait in Snelling is open on the weekends with a full supply of live minnows and crawdads.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
The anticipated lake opening on President’s Day weekend is on hold as the construction of the RV Park has experienced delays. There is no estimated date of opening at the present time.
▪ NEW MELONES
The trout action continues to be very slow with only a handful of planters landed from the bank areas with deep water access. Bass are the top option at the lake, but a slow presentation and good electronics are necessary to locate the scattered schools of fish. Plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head, jigs, or spoons are working for the deep fish on a slow presentation. Crawdad patterns are working best with the fish lethargic and not chasing shad. The launch ramp is limited to the dirt ramp at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle in essential. The right side of the launch ramp is best as a large pile of gravel sits submerged in the middle of the launch. 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 2 feet this past week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 41-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported they still needed another 15 to 20 feet of water to get their ramp back in operation, but the Dark Day ramp is open. Lots of bass fishermen have been catching mostly small spots on worms, swimbaits, and Senkos on walls and points.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
Kathy DeRossett at North Shore Resort reported there were a lot of fishermen out, but fishing was slow.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 56 feet from full. Trout fishing was good this past week in cold, stable weather for both shore anglers and trollers. Shore fishing was good at the rental dock, dam and in front of the campgrounds for anglers using worms and floating dough bait. Big fish of the week was a 6 3/4-pound rainbow caught off the shore by Tyler Bristow using green dough bait.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported trollers were catching a few planter rainbows in the marina between the moored houseboats using flasher/worm combos.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 29-percent capacity—up another 3 feet. Bass fishing was still very good for anglers able to detect the soft bite using darthead and drop-shot worms, tubes, and Senkos at 10 to 30 feet deep on steep rocky walls and points all over the lake. Incoming water was a good place to look for fish too. 4-wheel drive was mandatory for launching at the Spillway and Bidwell Marina.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 91.8-percent capacity. No report was available from NID due to the lack of fishing pressure.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 51.8-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported no fishing pressure on the lake this past week with the holidays and cold weather keeping folks close to home.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 134.4-foot elevation at press time—84.7-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported bass were scattered but hitting jigs on hard bottom areas near weed beds on mud points and on green tule banks. Crankbaits, A-rigs, and swimbaits should be working on the rock banks. Stay away from the duck hunters and maintain the peace.
– Western Outdoor News