Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Feb. 1, 2016.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Hatchery steelhead smolts are expected to be released this week, which normally fuels a good striper bite on the Feather. Jumbo minnows or cut anchovies typically work best. A few sturgeon are being caught near the mouth of the Bear River.
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▪ FOLSOM LAKE
The lake jumped up another 20 feet last week, closing in on 420 feet. Muddy water and quickly rising lake levels have kept fishing for bass, trout and landlocked kings slow. Look for bass suspended in open water.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
The Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby was a huge success with nearly 500 participants including over 100 youth. There were 39 legal sturgeon caught and released along with 42 undersized and 8 oversized. The sturgeon bite has improved with warmer water temperatures, and the Delta will be loaded with boats this coming weekend for the annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon Derby out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point. Live bait is in short supply in area bait shops, and sturgeon fishermen have to make plans well in advance. Suisun Bay has been the top location as the fish are migrating up and down the lower Delta, but the muddy water in the upper Delta is producing fish for bank anglers from Courtland to Freeport.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Finding clear water is the key to locating largemouth bass, and there have been some big sacks taken recently in the south Delta in Discovery Bay with swimbaits. A slow presentation is necessary in order to get bit, and drop-shot plastics or ripbaits worked very deliberately are the top baits. Striped bass and sturgeon fishing has been slow in the San Joaquin with most fishermen heading over to the Sacramento side of the Delta.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Heavy rain has pulled more sturgeon into the Colusa area. Ghost shrimp, eel and pile worms have been working best. Striper fishing could improve as steelhead smolts are released into the Feather River.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
Knight’s Landing continues to be productive for sturgeon, with eel, ghost shrimp and pile worms also catching fish. Anglers are having to deal with debris in the water from recent rains. Striper fishing is slow.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings
The river was blown out until Wednesday, but when it cleared that day it was the best steelhead fishing of the season, but then it blew out againon Thursday and was still too high to fish over the weekend. Very few downers have been caught so far, so the season is still young.
▪ COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
The first half of last week the fishing pressure was mild on the South Fork of the Coos River. “Water was very clear and that allowed fish to be spotted from a distance,” said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer. “There were very few anglers at 5 Mile Hole, and this is the most used piece of access on the river, so I was shocked to count only a dozen or so anglers. I didn't notice anyone with fish on the bank. “
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Both rivers were high last week, but the Elk was fishable for most of the week, drawing big crowds of guides, as most other Southern Oregon rivers were blown out. Steelhead have been spread from the hatchery on the Elk to the Ironhead takeout. The Sixes is expected to be fishable by the middle of this week. Crowds on the Elk also will thin out as the nearby Coquille drops into shape.
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
Fishing slowed down on the West Fork last week, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “The beginning of the work week an angler still had a good chance of hooking multiple fish, but by Wednesday the steelhead fishing had slowed. A friend caught a nice steelhead on a Hot Pink jig under a bobber. As luck would have it, we only caught the one fish from the bank. A drift boat angler caught two steelhead in the morning and that was a huge disappointment for the rower, who had been catching a bunch more on previous days. By the weekend, the fishing was difficult with the harsh conditions of another storm.”
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, East Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
“Reports said that fishing was good here, but Wednesday afternoon I tried it and didn’t have a single hit,” said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “With all the nice fishing holes on this small river, I could only come to the conclusion that I forgot how to fish or the incoming storm had shut the steelhead down.”
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The lower Rogue was high and muddy all last week and over the weekend, but should drop to fishable levels sometime this week. Flows on Sunday at Agness were 20,500 cfs.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
The Middle Rogue should be fishable about Tuesday, as water conditions are improving, said guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. “It might be best between Gold Hill down to the Galice boat ramp,” he said. “Don’t go below that, however, as a rock slide has closed the highway below there. In the Grants Pass area, anglers are side-drifting yarn balls soaked in nectar, Cleos, shrimp, and dark-colored plugs like red, black, blue and green. Anglers can score on the Illinois River with 3/4-ounce Cleos, bobbers and jigs in dark colors. The Applegate River is also producing some action on Cleos, bobbers and pink rubber worms. We fished the Coquille River one day this week and hooked 7 steelhead and landed 3. Most anglers report pretty good fishing on this river.”
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
The river was blown out all week and just starting to get green on Friday when it got more rain, so it wasn’t fishable over the weekend. Flows were 3700 cfs at Hacienda Bridge on Sunday with only 12 inches of visibility. Fish are being caught upriver at Dry Creek and Healdsburg plunking roe, even in dirty water. Should be great conditions this week, when it clears.
▪ SMITH RIVER
High water again last week, but there’s so many steelhead action was good, even in marginal conditions, said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Plunkers scored well all week, and on the weekend. The river was down to 10,600 on Sunday, 12 feet, but was a 28,000 on Friday. Many of the fish have been wild, but some hatchery fish show every day. Conditions are expected to be good all week. WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said the river has been hit and miss, and when the river greens up and begins dropping they’re getting steelies. He put one client on 9- and 15-pound steelies last week.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Roseburg, Oregon
The South Umpqua River was on the rise much of last week. Water was high and full of silt and mud. The steelhead were still moving upriver and next to the bank, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. He checked most of the better holes along the river but didn’t see anyone with a fish, despite the fact they were rolling off and on along the bank.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Oregon
The river was too high and way too muddy most of last week to expect anyone to be fishing. There are steelhead in the river, but conditions were unfishable.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Releases from Iron Gate Dam were just under 2,000 cfs on Sunday, high for steelhead fishing. Below Interstate 5 the river is blown out. Some steelhead are available between the dam and Fish Hook, with worms fished behind divers a good bet in high water.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
The middle section of the Klamath remained blown out last week, with flows near 13,000 cfs at Happy Camp and 42,000 cfs at Orleans. Expect at least another week of high water.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The river hit 115,000 cfs over the weekend at Terwer and will be blown out for at least a couple more weeks.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Heavy rain last week had most of the Trinity too high to fish over the weekend. Flows at Lewiston were 312 cfs, but hit 1,920 cfs at Douglas City and 3,220 cfs at Junction City. Guides say steelhead fishing will likely begin to slow when the river comes back into shape, as many fish have either entered the tributaries to spawn or have reached the hatchery.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
A fair live bait bite continues as hungry bass bulk up in the cold weather. But most anglers have been working hard to come up with 5 fish in the 15- to 17-pound range total limit weight. Minnows or crawdads are becoming more popular as well. Crappie are being caught in many locations and in some hot spots they are catching one right after another, but there’s hasn’t been much of a catfish bite.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Thanks to the bait balls, the trout bite has been great using spoons, but the bass bite has not.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
The lake is still very muddy from all the runoff, which makes for tough bass fishing conditions. Spinnerbaits, LuckyCraft BDS, crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs are getting a few big largemouth bass to 7 pounds. A few landlocked steelhead are in the backs of the running creeks and will hit LV100s in shad patterns when you see them boil. Catfish are also cruising the bottom in the muddy creeks looking for food. Feed them cut mackerel on a sliding sinker rig in 20 to 25 feet for channel cats to 15 pounds.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
It’s been very quiet here with few in the area and even fewer fishing. Canyon Dam is in good shape, ice free and there’s a dock in place. Rec. 1 has both ramps now. Trout fishing was a bit slow. Slow troll threaded nightcrawlers on top and along the shoreline shallows for a few fish. Check road and weather conditions.
▪ BAUM LAKE
As always this time of year check weather conditions and be prepared for cold weather. Fishing here rarely disappoints during the winter months. Water conditions are normally clear and cold and there are thousands of rainbows in this lake. It’s been fishing well all day long with nymphs but mostly zebra midges in black and silver but also swimming leeches and Zack’s damsel leeches.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
Try leeches, as they are always a good bet here, as are midges in the high mountain lakes. And as always this time of yea, check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ PIT RIVER
Still running high and very cold but fishable. Try nymphs, little micro Mays in black and silver but also swimming leeches and Zack’s damsel leeches.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
Watch out for floating debris. All of the main ramps except Bailey Cove are now open. Bass are looking for shad balls, but some have been going after crawdads and small bluegill as well as they feed up. Tubes, jigs and plastic worms along with small swimbaits are what most are using. Trout are spread out but found where water is coming in. Try for them with crappie set ups and jigs.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Heavy rain had the American rising over the weekend, with flows hitting 1,500 cfs. Kastmasters and Little Cleos have been taking steelhead between 2 and 11 pounds. Drifting roe and yarn also has been productive.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
This year’s trout derby will be held April 2-3, officials announced last week.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows near Dunsmuir were back down to 2,500 cfs on Sunday compared to nearly 10,000 cfs the week before. With high water, fishing has been slow.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
The stretch of the Sacramento near Redding was back in good shape over the weekend and fly fishing for wild rainbows was good. The California Fish and Game Commission will decide next week if the section between Keswick Dam and the Highway 44 bridge will be closed again this year from April 1-July 31.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Striper fishing remained slow last week at the Port of Sacramento.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 28.8-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the ice was still unsafe for fishing.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 65.8-percent capacity. The ice was still 1 1/2 to 2 feet thick and ice fishermen were doing well at the dam and Spillway using worms, bay shrimp, and a Kastmaster tipped with a piece of worm. Be prepared to dig through up to 4 feet of snow to reach the ice.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 48-percent capacity. It was snowing on Sunday morning and few anglers were out on the ice. The ice at the dam was 12 inches thick and the John Pato Davis Lake Ice Fishing Derby benefitting the American Cancer Society was still scheduled for Feb. 6—sign-up at J&J’s Grizzly Store between 7 and 9 a.m. Fishing was slow.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 57-percent capacity. The lake was open and ice free with decent fishing for rainbows from the boat ramp docks. Long, skinny macks were hitting spoons at China Cove in 80 to 100 feet of water, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 23-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported ice fishing was good at the dam for 12- to 17-inch rainbows using worms. It was snowing on Sunday, but the road gets plowed to the dam—just watch out for ice in the shady areas.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 67-percent capacity. New snow was falling on Sunday and this region will be hard to access for awhile.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
It was snowing on Sunday when WON called and Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge recommended calling ahead for the latest road conditions. Ice fishing was good at the dam, but access may be a problem.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported fishing was slow, but Daniel James caught a nice mack from shore casting a silver Kastmaster spoon. Access around the lake was good, but it was snowing here on Sunday, so call ahead to 530-644-1113 for the latest conditions.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported good action for limits of 4- to 7-pound macks trolling 160 to 235 feet deep along North Shore. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported the fleet was picking up near limits of 2- to 4-pound macks mooching live bait along South Shore.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 29.6-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the ice was still unsafe for fishing.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a quiet week with only 3 big cutthroats checked in. Top fish was a 14-pound, 15.2-ounce cutt’ caught by Steve Burgess trolling a Speedy Shiner at Warrior Point. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported his last trip produced 9 fish trolling Apex and Flatfish 15 feet deep over 30 to 180 feet of water from Cattle Guard to the Nets.
▪ RED LAKE
It was snowing on Sunday, so expect to do some digging to get down to the ice. Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported the ice fishing was sporadic at best.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 47.1-percent capacity. Ice fishing should be productive at the dam using worms, bay shrimp, and jigged Kastmaster spoons. With new snow on Sunday, expect to dig your way down to the ice to auger a hole.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
Ginger Buzzard at Topaz Lodge and Casino reported “really good” fishing this past week with lots of 2-plus pounders and 4 tagged fish weighed in. Big fish for the week was a 5-pound, 3-ounce rainbow caught by Carin Ford of Sierraville. Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported his boat ramp and berthing were finally open with the lake level up. A group this past week caught limits of rainbows averaging over 2 pounds trolling Rapalas in the top 10 feet.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 60-percent capacity. It was snowing all day Sunday and this lake will be hard to access for awhile.
▪ BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING
Not a lot of fishing was done all week, however there were some buckets of fish seen at Lawson’s Landing, including good catches of jacksmelt and a private boater who made it out for sanddabs. Shore fishing was fairly good for red tail and barred surf perch at Doran Beach and decent for rockfish and kelp greenling at the rock wall near the entrance to the harbor.
The weather improved for a couple of days, which allowed fish-hungry folks to get out and fish the two jetties for perch, rockfish and kelp greenling. The South Jetty produced the best between the two because people could safely reach better spots out along the southern jetty. Stone Lagoon remained open to the ocean and a few steelhead were caught. Crabs were taken from off of Trinidad for testing and the whole State is waiting for the results.
▪ FORT BRAGG
The jetty was the go-to spot for rockfish and kelp greenling, thanks to it sitting in fairly protected water inside of Soldier’s Point. When the weather broke briefly, people were able to fish Old Mill and catch cabezon and lingcod as well.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Half Moon Bay saw little fishing action except for a few folks catching perch and a couple of rockfish from the pier and jetty. At Pacifica, the damaged pier was open part time for fishing (closed for very high tides and for periods with exceptionally high surf) and early in the week there was a nice run of bigger striped bass. Eleven were reported in one day and they all ran between 15 and 19 pounds.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO/ALAMEDA
South Bay fishing improved along both sides. Striped bass and perch were taken from both shore and boat from Coyote Point to AT&T Park. Across the way along Alameda Rock Wall, those same fish were available but there was also a realistic chance of hooking into a sturgeon.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
Trout plants are taking place on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, and a plant of at least 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbows will be arriving this week. The lake has risen rapidly to only 8 feet from spilling, and it is coming up nearly a foot per day with heavy inflow in the feeder creeks. The trout bite has slowed with the rising water, as food sources are washing off of the banks into the lake. The water clarity is surprisingly good, but there is floating debris that generally accumulates in the dam area. 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, and the second lane is now open.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
Trout fishing remains the top draw at the lake with 1200 pounds released at the North Shore launch ramp this past week. The shore bite is best near the Day Use area with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters. The pond has slowed with the lack of a plant this week, but it will improve following the next plant. A few fish are taken on crappie jigs or Power Eggs. Trollers are finding crappie and bass along with rainbow trout for those pulling grubs. Bass fishing is best with drop-shot plastics on a slow presentation, but a largemouth at 7.6 pounds was caught and released on a big swimbait. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open along with both ramps at the North Shore although the lake held at 22% of capacity due to water releases.
▪ DON PEDRO
Bass fishing is dominating action, and the action remains best on the bottom with drop-shot plastics or jigs at depths from 25 to 30 feet. Shad patterns are working best along with jigs such as Berserk’s Purple Hornet or TNT’s Gold Rush. The reaction bite remains slow. Trout trolling remained slow with the occasional large fish taken in deep water. The lake needs to rise to 697 feet for the auxiliary road ramp at Moccasin with a rise to 725 feet necessary for the regular ramp. The Fleming Meadows Launch ramp is the only ramp on the lake, but three boats can be launched at a time. The lake rose over 4.5 feet to 701.45 feet in elevation and 40% of capacity.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake remains very muddy as a result of heavy inflow over the past few weeks. For the first time in several months, the Barrett North and Barrett Cove South launch ramps are open as the lake rose 8.5 feet to 638.81 feet in elevation and 13% of capacity. As a result of the heavily stained water, bass fishing is slow. Maintenance work is being completed on one of the gates at the dam.
▪ LAKE McSWAIN
There have been no further trout plants, and other than a few catfish, trout fishing has been on the slow side. The lake is muddy from the releases from upstream McClure. The lake is currently at full capacity, but it will be slowing releasing water during the week due to work on the Exchequer Dam at Lake McClure.
▪ 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 remained the best thing going at the lake with the fish holding at depths from 20 to 50 feet depending upon the location within the lake. Plastics on the drop-shot or shaky head along with jigs, tubes, or brass and glass are all working for the fat, chunky spots. Trout fishing is still slow for both bank anglers using light line and a long leader at either Glory Hole Point or the Highway 49 Bridge. The rainbows are starting to move into the shoreline and higher in the water column. Trolling is only fair at best with bright colored Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, or Kastmasters in the top 20 feet of the surface. The launch ramp is limited to the dirt ramp at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle in essential. The lake is at 16% of capacity, and it rose 5.5 feet this past week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 59-percent capacity—up 21 feet this past week. Emerald Cove Marina reported they were now launching on the main multi-lane ramp. According to rumor, group of big FLW bass sticks hit the lake and caught several spots in the 5- to 10-pound class. Local anglers were throwing swimbaits on 3/4- and 1-ounce heads to get down to 50 to 70 feet for 6 to 9 pounders.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full and spilling. A Yuba City bass club held a tournament this past weekend and found the fishing slow in the murky water. Top weight was 7 pounds with a 3-pound big fish. Most boats only had a couple fish taken on worms and jigs.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 30 feet from full. Trout fishing was improving with one family scoring 10 rainbows with several over 2 pounds. Most folks were soaking floating dough bait or inflated nightcrawlers near the marina docks. A 2 1/2-pound bass hit a small swimbait in the same area.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is full and spilling. Skippers Cove Marina reported the lake was muddy and full of debris. Give the lake a chance to settle down before coming up here.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 42-percent capacity—up another 18 feet this past week. Bidwell Marina announced that their middle concrete ramp was open with the main ramp only needing 8 more feet of water which could easily happen by the end of this week. The Spillway and Lime Saddle concrete ramps were already open. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported he was doing best on south facing banks that were warming up a degree or two on sunny days using drop-shot and darthead worms, tubes, jigs, and Senkos. At incoming water, which can be found all around the lake, throw a Persuader Image Blade spinnerbait.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. Jim Caldwell at NID reported the lake was murky with a fair amount of debris floating, especially at the Orchard Springs Resort boat ramp. Fishing was very slow.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 70-percent capacity. Access and launching was very good. Trollers were catching the occasional rainbow to 15 inches at the dam. Watch out for debris while running the lake.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 133-foot elevation at press time—75.1-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company recommended casting swimbaits and jigs on the rock banks for 2- to 4-pound bass.
– Western Outdoor News