Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 11, 2016.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
The heavy inflow has muddied up the waters of the Sacramento River, and sturgeon fishing has taken off from the Freeport Bridge west to the Carquinez Bridge. Eel is the top bait, and this week’s outgoing tides contributed to solid action for most six-pack operators. Striped bass fishing has slowed, but there are still large fish to be had in the central Delta from Rio Vista to Pittsburg on frozen shad or live bait. With the two major upcoming sturgeon derbies, anglers are advised to reserve their bait well in advance. 2015 Sturgeon Report Cards are due by January 31.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Heavy water exports have been taking place in the south Delta as fresh water has poured in from the Sacramento River system. The best action is in the south Delta for both striped and largemouth bass. A slow presentation with ripbaits is the top technique as well as working the bottom with large profile plastics with scent. Striped bass fishing is best near the Antioch Bridge with frozen shad or whole anchovies.
▪ 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.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Crosby’s Lodge weighed in a 25 1/2-pound cutthroat this past week that was caught from the shore at Monument on a spoon. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported his last trip produced 20 trout trolling Apex and FlatFish at 15 feet deep over 30 to 200 feet of water from south of the Nets to Pelican. Launching larger boats was getting tough at the Pelican ramp due to the low lake level—you have to back WAY OUT to float the boat off the trailer.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
The Russian River valley got several inches of rain in the past week and the fishing went from excellent to non-existent. “Currently, we are looking at flows right around 4000 cfs with no visibility,” said Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle. “It will take at least 5 days to get to a level where it is more fishable but the forecast is calling for another shot of rain on Wednesday, bringing the flow back up. For the diehards, I would recommend plunking a large Spin ‘n’ Glo with a big chunk of roe in the baitloop about 20-30 feet off the inside bends. With this high dirty water, this will be the traveling lane and hopefully the scent and movement will get any traveling steelhead excited to grab. Give Kings Sport a call at 707-869-2156 for up to the minute conditions.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER
It seems like everyone who fishes for steelhead was here on the river this past week, with sometimes as many as 45 boats on the river at a time. Obviously, that put the bite in the dumps. Flows were near perfect, according to WON Staffer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, who stayed on top away from the crowds with his special license. Incoming storms are expected to blow the river out by mid-week. Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Service said fishing was generally very good for boaters and guides.
▪ COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Oregon
“Epic fishing” last week, according to one source, even though the river has been low and with near limitless visibility, according to Curtis Palmer. “The steelhead have spread throughout the river,” he said. “Surprisingly there have been fish in water shallow enough to see their wake as they move across these shallow areas. The daily harvest limit on this river is 3 hatchery steelhead per-angler. This applies to some other Southern Oregon Rivers as well.”
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, Allegany, Oregon
“I visited the West Fork last week and had a wonderful time fishing with bobbers and jigs for steelhead,” said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “The river was as low and clear as it could get with any hope to catch a fish. We had to drag the driftboat over many rocks and a couple trees. The steelhead were very spookish, but with the river having so many fish and more arriving every day we were able to still find plenty of these fresh fish ready to do battle. It won't take much rain to have this river rising and getting colored up to make these steelhead not so spooky.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Steelhead fishing has been very good on the lower Rogue, as jet boaters have been anchoring and running plugs. Guide John Anderson of Memory Maker's Guide Service was catching 4 to 6 steelhead a day last week. Plunkers fishing Spin-N-Glos from shore also reported good success.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
Fishing is fair with most anglers scoring with side-drifted pieces of shrimp, roe and Corkies. No wild fish can be kept above Hog Creek. Fluctuating water releases are coming from the dam, now 43 degrees, flowing about 3000 cfs. Mixed bag of summer steelhead and winter steelhead below Hog Creek.
▪ SMITH RIVER
The river was in perfect shape last week but it appears the river is between steelhead runs, since the fishing was basically hit or miss, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Heavy rain was expected this past week, though, and that was expected to blow the river out, and hopefully bring more fish in. Action last week was 4 to 8 fish a day for guides, but dropped to a fish or two a day over the weekend. Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said fishing has been “fantastic” and boats are getting 2 to 5 fish a day side drifting eggs, yarn and a Fish Pill.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Oregon
Flows cleared to a dark green color and the steelhead have been moving up the river, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. Anglers from anchored boats have been using small plugs, which is the best offering in high and off-colored water.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Roseburg, Oregon
Steelhead fishing was good last week from the confluence of both forks of the river and upstream to the town of Winston, Oregon. There were steelhead caught all week at Singleton Park, downtown Roseburg, Happy Valley Boat Ramp and Pepsi Hole, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. Now is the time to fish this river.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Oregon
The North Umpqua is back to the jade green color it is famous for, along with it's large-sized steelhead. “Anglers have reported a few chrome steelhead being caught last week on the North Umpqua, but the main Umpqua and South Fork are producing many more fish than this river,” said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer. “We will see a major change over the next 3 weeks and it will be towards much better fishing for this river.”
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Steelhead fishing has been best from I-5 to Iron Gate Dam. Flows on Sunday were 966 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 1,740 cfs at Seiad Valley, but expected to rise as storms hit Siskiyou County Tuesday and Wednesday.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath remains blown out with flows of 16,100 cfs on Sunday.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Steelhead fishing remains good near Lewiston, but dirty water from Trinity Lake and new storms expected this week could slow the action. The lower river near Hoopa is blown out with flows over 6,000 cfs. Flows from Lewiston Dam were 312 cfs on Sunday.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
The dip in temperatures has moved the threadfin shad out to deep water offshore looking for warmer temperatures, and with these conditions the bite has toughened up. Expect more pull downs on dropped baits as there are still a number of active smaller fish around Shag Rock, the Narrows and Henderson. The catfish bite is slow but a few anglers report good bluegill fishing around Shag Rock, Henderson Point and the dock at Indian Beach.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Apex spinners, little Speedy Shiners in gold and silvers or drifting minnows has put a few trout in the box. Key in on 25 to 40 feet of water off creek channel ledges, island tops and primary points with deep water access for bass. Putah Creek and Markley Cove are still your best bets for boat launching.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Conditions toughened up after recent rains and water temperatures dropping in the 48- to 52-degree marks had bass anglers struggling for bites. Largemouth bass in the 1- to 4-pound range rewarded the patient anglers who slowed down and picked apart primary points, ledges and standing timber in the 15- to 25-foot range. The mouth of Yorty and Cherry creeks are still the best place to target hard fighting trout. Lake Sonoma is at 70% capacity and coming up fast.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
Very cold north wind has much of the lake iced over for the last two weeks. The only ramp that is useable is Canyon Dam. The east basin is your best bet for bait fishing or trolling if you can launch. Slow action rigs are the way to go or at least try before switching out.
▪ BAUM LAKE
Water conditions are clear and cold. The upper section of the lake flows like a river and fishing has been great. As always this time of year check weather conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
Fishing has slowed down but leeches are always a good bet here. As always this time of year check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ PIT RIVER
Expect some color in the water due to the recent heavy rain and snow but darker water can mean some great streamer fishing. As always this time of year check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
Try the jig bite at 40 feet for numbers of smaller bass as they have been inhaling them. For the possibility of a big bass, pull out the swimbaits. For trout go to the top of the McCloud arm and troll your way down.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Steelhead fishing remains slow, although a few hatchery fish showed up in the catch last week. This year’s return to the hatchery has been much better that last years.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Some steelhead are being caught in the low flow area on egg patterns and nymphs, but overall fishing is slow. Striper fishing is poor, but will improve in February after steelhead smolts are released from the hatchery.
▪ 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
Striper fishing is slow. Sturgeon have been biting ghost shrimp, pile worm, nightcrawlers, eel and roe at First and Second Beach. Several oversize sturgeon were hooked last week.
▪ 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 is fair to good near Redding, with egg patterns and beads working best.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Striper fishing is fair to good at the Port of Sacramento, with PLine Angry Eyes working best, along with swimbaits.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 23-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported ice fishing was good for a mix of rainbows and browns at the dam using worms. The road gets plowed to the dam so access should be good.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 63.8-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was over a foot thick, but heavy snows fell this past week and ice fishermen may need to dig down to the ice to auger holes. The best and easiest access was at the dam and spillway where a mix of rainbows and browns were hitting nightcrawlers, bay shrimp, and jigged Kastmaster spoons according to Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO).
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 45-percent capacity. Jeanne Graham at J&J’s Grizzly Store reported fishing was slow, 0 to 2 fish per day, at the dam and Mallard Point, but the fish were 18 to 21 inch rainbows! The ice was 8 to 12 inches thick at the dam, 5 inches thick at Mallard Point, but only 3 inches thick in the middle of the lake. STAY OUT of the middle of the lake!! The few fish being caught were hitting worms and floating dough bait. The road to the lake gets plowed to the dam, but watch out for ice—4-wheel drive was strongly recommended.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported shore fishing was good for big holdover rainbows at the boat ramp on the west end of the lake. The trout were running 16 to 18 inches and hitting floating dough bait and worms.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 19-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the ice at the dam was still only 5 inches thick. Ice fishermen were picking up 1 or 2 rainbows, but they were 17 to 20 inchers.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Heavy snows and ice this past week made access here difficult, if not impossible, this week.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported there was snow on the road to the lake and recommended calling ahead to check on road conditions before making the trip at 530-694-2511. Ice fishing was okay near the dam according to the last report.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported the roads in the rec. area were icy and 4-wheel drive was recommended. Shore anglers were still picking up a few planter rainbows at the dam on worms and floating dough bait.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported poor weather pretty much shut down the fishing this past week, and on the nice days everyone went skiing!! The last time he was out, trolling was great with easy limits of macks coming from 180 to 220 feet of water at North Shore. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported that freezing temps and ice at South Shore made it tough to get the boats out of the harbor and no trips were going out.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 23.8-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported ice fishing was good in the middle of the lake out from the dam for rainbows using worms and salmon eggs.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported the ice was 12 inches thick with some snow on top to dig through. The bite for 12- to 14-inch cutthroats was sporadic on worms and bay shrimp.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 44.2-percent capacity. The ice was 12 inches or more thick with some snow on top to dig through. Access was best at the dam where rainbows and browns were hitting worms, bay shrimp, and a Kastmaster tipped with a piece of worm.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
The Topaz Lodge and Casino Fishing Derby was going strong with shore fishermen and trollers scoring lots of rainbows to over 5 pounds. The big fish each week is worth $50 and some fish sport $100 tags. The first week of the derby over 180 trout over 2 pounds were weighed in. Shore anglers were doing well using worms and floating dough bait while the trollers scored with Rapalas.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported the area was snowed in and trying to tow a boat in was not advised.
Boat activity was way down, with inclement weather, yet there was some fishing done in both San Pablo Bay and South Bay for bass and sturgeon. Along the shoreline, people baited and waited for various perch.
▪ BODEGA BAY
Shore fishing was working quite well, but only during brief weather windows when people could go out and catch red tail and barred surf perch plus an occasional striped bass. New Sea Angler is looking for hardy souls to go out looking for giant Humboldt squid.
Jetty fishing was the only game in town and even there the action was limited to the close-in sections of the jetty where kelp greenlings, black rockfish and perch were taken. One more spot that fishers could get to was inside the harbor and skiff fishers hooked into leopard sharks and rays.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Soldier’s Point and the Old Mill were accessible for fishing maybe twice during the whole week and even then it was touch and go. The jetty was fishable most of the week and on the river side the fishing was good for kelp greenling, black rockfish, gopher cod, cabezon and lingcod for the really lucky fishers.
▪ HALF MOON BAY
Capt. Tom Mattusch was again appointed President of the San Mateo County Harbor District Commission. Surf fishing generated good catches of barred surf perch and a few striped bass of ho-hum size. Jetty and pier fishers got various perch and rockfish.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Argo and Lovely Martha took groups up to San Pablo Bay for striped bass and sturgeon. The bass were average size (maybe 5 pounds) and a few sturgeon were caught.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
The lake remains on the rise with recent inflow bringing the lake to 67% of capacity. The water is slightly stained with some debris moving back and forth near the dam area, but bank fishermen continue to score with white crappie jigs tipped with a nightcrawler under a bobber, various colors of trout dough bait, or green Power Eggs. Trollers are starting to find good action with broken backed Rapalas near the shoreline and the surface. A few boats are heading to the rear of the lake to stillfish. Weekly plants are scheduled through the month of May, and 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, and the second lane will open soon as the lake continues to rise.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
The best trout fishing remains near the North Shore Launch Ramp or South Shore Pond. Plants of 600 pounds each were released into both areas before the weekend, bringing the season total to 21,600 pounds. Various colors of trout dough bait, crappie jigs, Kastmasters, or inflated nightcrawlers are all working from the shoreline, and there have been quality trout as large as 8 pounds taken from the banks. Trolling is slower than bank fishing, but the troll bite is expected to improve within the month. The fish are within the top 10 feet of the surface. Bass fishing is best with Hula Grubs or spoons worked near the bottom in the river arm. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open along with both ramps at the North Shore with the lake holding at 23% of capacity due to water releases.
▪ DON PEDRO
Bass fishing has been decent with good results during the past weekend’s Best Bass Tournament featuring a total of 52 teams with 41 weighing in fish. The top limit was over 13 pounds, and the winners fished the shallows with jigs. The big fish was taken on a Hula Grub in 15 feet of water. A barrier debris boom has been installed up the river arm in the Tuolumne River. The lake needs to rise to 697 feet for the auxiliary road ramp at Moccassin, with a rise to 725 feet necessary for the regular ramp. The Fleming Meadows Launch ramp is the only ramp on the lake, but two boats can be launched at the present time. Trout trolling in the main lake remained slow. The lake rose to 688.15 feet in elevation and 36% of capacity.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake rose 8 feet to 614.55 feet in elevation and 10% of capacity, and the launch ramp may be opened once the lake rises a few more inches. 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
Bass fishing remains the top draw at the lake with the best action on the bottom with plastics on the Texas-rig or drop-shot in crawdad patterns along with jigs or spoons. The fish are in a full wintertime bite, and they are holding in small scattered schools. Good electronics are necessary to locate the schools. Trout fishing remains very slow as the fish have not oriented to the shoreline and the surface although the lake has turned over. The launch ramp is limited to the dirt ramp at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle in essential. The lake is at 14% of capacity, and it rose 4 feet this past week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 42-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported they still needed 15 feet of water to get their ramp back in operation, but the water was now up on the concrete at the Dark Day ramp across the lake. A few big spots to 10 pounds have been caught recently but most fish were small 12 to 14 inchers. The guys catching the big fish aren’t talking.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
North Shore Resort reported the lake was rising steadily and launching was good on the main ramp. Justin Holliman of Lincoln fished this past week and caught eight 2- to 3-pound bass in the Bear River arm on lizards and brown jigs at 10 to 12 feet deep.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 53 feet from full. Collins Lake Resort reported there was little angling pressure on the lake this past week with the cold, rainy weather. Shore anglers were picking up a few rainbows at the dam using worms and floating dough bait. Visit their booth at the ISE Sports Show at Cal-Expo Jan. 21-24.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported little fishing pressure this past week due to the cold, rainy weather.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 30-percent capacity--up another 4 feet this past week!! Two big tournaments were held on the lake over the past two weekends and drew big numbers—up to 98 boats. The winning weight at the NorCal 90 event was 11 pounds for 5 fish, and the Gary Dobyns Wild West Team tournament took 15 1/2 pounds for 7 fish. Drop-shot and darthead worms, tubes, Senkos, and jigs were working best on the bottom at 5 to 30 feet deep. The reaction bite was slow. The new low-water extension at Bidwell was opened for the tournaments, but more work needs to be done to the ramp, so launching was available on the gravel ramp for 4-wheel drive only. The Spillway ramp was still 4x4 only.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 91.1-percent capacity. NID reported little fishing pressure here with the poor weather this past week.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 53.6-percent capacity. The dock at the ramp should be in the water within the next week or two as the lake continues to rise. Fishing pressure was low with the cold, rainy weather this past week, so NID had no reports.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 134.1-foot elevation at press time—82.6-percent capacity. Fish a jig in the hard bottom holes in the weedbeds and on rock banks for 2- to 4-pound bass. Give the duck hunters plenty of space to avoid conflicts—only a couple more weeks of hunting left in the season.
– Western Outdoor News