Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of February 29, 2015.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
Striped bass are starting to take over with good numbers of fish pushing into the system. Bait fishermen are finding numbers from Decker Island north to Steamboat Slough with shallow-running P-Line Predator Minnows, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, or Savage Gear lures. Bait fishermen are finding action with whole sardines coated with garlic spray or live bait. Sturgeon fishing has been hit or miss, but the clearing and warming water along with less boat pressure is responsible for an improved bite over the past weekend. The incoming tide has been the key for sturgeon fishing with either eel or salmon roe.
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▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Largemouth bass are dominating the San Joaquin River as the fish continue to move into the shallows. The south and eastern sections of the Delta are the clearest and warmest, and the bass are holding in the shallows with Senkos, chatterbaits, white/chartreuse spinnersbaits, or large plastic worms. The 5-inch Bubba Shad from Optimum continue to produce striped bass with improved numbers. Bluegill and redear perch can be found in the south Delta sloughs with red worms, but they are holding in deeper water.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Anglers are catching striped bass to 25 pounds near Shanghai Bend as the fish continue to feed on hatchery steelhead that were released into the Feather River in early February. Boyd’s Pump and Star Bend also have been productive areas. S-Waver swimbaits with a rainbow trout finish have worked best, but live minnows and sardines used as cut bait also caught fish. Pencil Poppers have worked well during the evening topwater bite. The river is low, which may affect fishing when the spawning run arrives later in March.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
Bass fishing improved last week, with bank anglers reporting good success fishing live minnows below slip bobbers throughout the lake. The water level is holding at 429 feet of elevation, the maximum winter flood pool level. Some fish also are being caught with drop-shot rigs from boats. Salmon and trout fishing remained slow last week, but should improve as spring weather arrives.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
Camping and fishing will resume on Friday, March 11 at 5:00 a.m. after an 8-month closure for the reconstruction and remodel of the RV Park. Reservations are available via telephone only starting March 1 at 9:00 a.m.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
A few stripers sere caught last week near Princeton on cut baits being used for sturgeon. The spring spawning run should begin in a few weeks. Sturgeon fishing is good at First and Second Beach at Knight’s Landing, where oversize, keepers and undersize fish are being caught. Combinations of eel, ghost shrimp, worms, roe and pile worms are all working.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings
High flows hampered steelhead fishing as the season winds down here, although there were decent numbers of fish caught early in the week. There are still some fresh fish being caught, but most are now spawned out downrunners. New fish frequently come into the river after rains in late March. Flows were just over 3,000 cfs on Sunday.
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk remained low for steelhead fishing last week, but the Sixes was in prime shape and fishing well. A 20-plus-pound steelhead was reported last week and several fish between 14 and 16 pounds also were reported. Heavy rain is expected this week, which may bring the Elk back into play. Steelhead season remains open through the end of March on both rivers.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The first spring-run salmon was caught here last week when an 18-pound springer hit a plug fished by guide Jay Lander of Gold Beach. As ofSunday, 6 springers had been caught, a good beginning! Good water conditions could bring in more fish, but it generally doesn’t get going for another month or two. Springers are caught on anchor with spinnerbaits and anchovies or sardines or plugs in prime run areas along the river.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
Steelhead fishing has been spotty, with some anglers catching and others not. Lots of downers are coming through, too, with fresh fish being taken on side-drifted roe, yarn balls in pink, red, champagne with pink dots or red with pink dots. Pautzke’s Nectar is also producing, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle. Plug fishing is fairly good on small Hot Shots and Wee Wigglers in pink, copper or flashers. The Applegate River has pretty good steelhead fishing on Power Bait Trout Worms, pink in color. Also, Cleos in 1/3- or 2/5-ounce sizes seem to be best. The Illinois River is fair for steelhead side-drifters using yarn balls and Cleos.
▪ SMITH RIVER
According to WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel, fishing was tough on the Smith since the river was low and clear. Even so, a fish were two a day were possible for boaters. Very few anglers are fishing here due to the low water conditions. There are still some fresh fish in the lower river, where plunkers are getting 3 to 5 fish for everyone at the “Tranny Hole”. A riffle between Poison Oak and the Picnic Grounds is extremely dangerous with the low water conditions, sucking boats into the rock and flipping them, so take care.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Lower
The first springer of the year was caught last week on the lower Umpqua. Guide Martin Thurber of Eugene was running 35 MagLips when one of his customers caught a springer on Saturday.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
The upper Klamath near Hornbrook was in good shape over the weekend with flows of 1,080 cfs at Iron Gate Dam. Pressure has been light, but steelhead are available. Try worms behind a diver, or small plugs, such as 3.0 and 3.5 MagLips.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Flows at Seiad Valley were 4,000 cfs on Sunday, still on the high side for effective side-drifting. Rain is expected this week, which could increase flows even more.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath has been blown out all of February and was still high Sunday at Terwer with flows of 22,700 cfs. Fishing has been poor.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Conditions are prime on the upper and middle Trinity, but many of the steelhead have spawned and are headed back downstream. Some fresh fish are available on the lower end. Expect the first brown trout of the season at any time. Tim Brady of Trinity Outdoors said the browns will hit small plugs, or are often caught by anglers drifting roe for late-season steelhead. Flows on Sunday at Lewiston were 312 cfs. Flows at Junction City were an ideal 680 cfs. Flows at Hoopa remain high at 6,090 cfs.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
With tourney season heating up it’s starting to get a little more crowded here. Especially with early warming waters already sending bass onto beds in the shallows.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Putah Creek and Markley Cove are still your best bets for launching. The lake is starting to warm up and so is the bite. Bass up to 8 pounds have been caught and there is zip for fishing pressure.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Worms, jigs, LV500s, swimbaits and spinnerbaits in 5 to 25 feet of water have been producing plenty of bass. With rain on the way, the creek mouths will be targets for trout. There’s big crappie in 15 feet of water found on a shad patterned drop-shot.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
The best bank fishing has been coming out of Geritol Cove at Canyon Dam. The scales are tipping to your favor here for trout with spring like weather; insect hatches can start anytime now.
▪ BAUM LAKE
The upper section of the lake has been fishing well for trout with tiny zebra midges, little leeches or black midge patterns and pheasant tails. Spring is in the air and it’s all good here, but check the weather reports this week.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
Leeches are always a good bet here. Also try sinking flies, sinking lines and some dry flies near the dam.
▪ PIT RIVER
Pit 3 was still the better bet this past week as elsewhere there is still fast running water and high flows. Stone flies, beaded and heavy weighed nymphs are the way to go. It’s going to be a wet March so check conditions.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
Hit Digger Bay and across the dam for trout as well as from the I-5 Bridge to the Silverton Marina for fish averaging 2 pounds. Bass anglers continued their pursuit of their personal best, with pre-spawning fish coming into the shallows. Looking for red clay, chunk rock or gravel in the shallows where spawning bass will be headed will continue to be the best bet.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
The American River was high but fishable last week, with some steelhead being caught below the hatchery. Larry Barnes of Sacramento Pro Tackle said he heard of some fresh hatchery fish last week. Flows were 4,370 cfs on Sunday, down from nearly 7,000 cfs the middle of last week. Drifting roe or worms has been a good bet. Conditions are expected to continue to improve this week.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
This year’s trout derby will be held April 2-3. The lake has been stocked with trout and fish are being caught with Power Bait.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows near Dunsmuir dropped from 2,600 cfs to 1,400 cfs last week. Fishing is still slow with high water levels. Expect some dry fly hatches to take place in March as the weather warms and water levels stabilize.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Straight eel has worked well for sturgeon, but ghost shrimp combined with nightcrawlers also are taking fish. Guides found decent numbers of keeper-size fish last week, along with some large oversize sturgeon. New fish appear to have moved into the river to spawn. Fishing is expected to continue to improve in March.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Fishing for wild rainbow trout has been good, with fly anglers and gear fishermen getting in on the action. The Sundial Bridge to Anderson has been the best area. Fly fishermen have been enjoying a mid-day baetis hatch along with a few caddis flies. Brown or black rubber legs and tiny mayfly patterns have been working well. Egg patterns also are catching fish. Some trout also are being caught on beads and small plugs. Flows at Keswick Dam have held steady at 3,2600 cfs.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
A few sturgeon were reported in the deepwater channel, but overall fishing is slow.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 37.9-percent capacity. The ice is unsafe and shore anglers need to wait until there’s more open water.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 65.9-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported there were 4 feet of ice and 2 feet of snow to auger through, but plenty of old holes to fish in. Rainbows and macks were hitting 1/4- and 3/8-ounce Kastmaster spoons tipped with worms or bay shrimp in front of the dam in 20 feet of water.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 51-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the ice was now too soft and melting around the edges for safe fishing. Open water was beginning to show. Fishing was still very slow with only 1 or 2 fish per day being caught by successful anglers finding open water.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 45-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports recommended toplining Rapalas for macks on the east end of the lake. The second drowning victim was found over the weekend here from a recent boating mishap—capsized canoe and no life vests.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 28-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the ice was getting soft and melting around the edges with open water showing in many areas, so ice fishing was done. Shore fishing in open water was producing good catches of 12- to 16-inch rainbows on nightcrawlers.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported some friends had fished here recently and caught a couple browns and rainbows on Rapalas, but fishing was slow overall.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the gate to the lake was now open. With the warmer than usual weather, the ice at the lake was too soft for ice fishing and anglers were encouraged to fish from shore at any available open water.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 92-percent capacity and scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported two little girls, “Sophie and Emily” weighed in a 17-inch rainbow they caught from the shore on a worm. Look for fishing to improve dramatically near the boat ramp after the DFW plant.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported the macks were biting short, resulting in lots of lost fish that meant it was taking longer to land limits of 2 to 7 pounders. On his Sunday trip he had limits by 10:30 after trolling from 60 to 450 feet deep from Tahoe City to Crystal Bay Point. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported mooching live minnows for macks was very good at North Shore for limits of 4- to 6-pound fish in 180 to 200 feet of water, and along the west side at Meeks Bay. The bite along the South Shore was slow.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 26.2-percent capacity. The ice was unsafe and shore anglers need to wait until there’s more open water.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Crosby’s Lodge reported they weighed a 15-pound cutthroat caught from an inflatable raft at the marina on a red jig by local angler Dick Bertoncini. Lee Matthews of Chicago Park, Ca., caught-and-released a 13-pound cutthroat while flyfishing at the North Nets with a copper midge. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported trolling was okay from south of the Nets to Spider Point using Apex at 15 to 30 feet deep. His biggest fish this past week was a 13 1/2 pounder caught by James Logan of Sparks.
▪ RED LAKE
Ice fishing was still sporadic at the dam using worms, bay shrimp, or Kastmaster spoons.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 45.9-percent capacity. Ice fishing should be good at the dam using Kastmaster spoons tipped with worms or bay shrimp.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
Shore fishing was productive along the north shore using worms and floating dough bait. Trollers were scoring some nice rainbows on Rapalas. The Topaz Lodge and Casino Fishing Derby runs until April.
▪ TRUCKEE LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported flyfishing was fair through the canyon from below the Boca Outlet to Verdi using BWO, midge and sqwala stone patterns. Look for some sporadic BWO hatches on overcast afternoons.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
Ken Mathis at Kens’ Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported a good rainbow trout bite toplining spinners and spoons. Mathis scored eight 2- to 3-pound rainbows using Rooster Tails and Z-Rays set back 300 feet. The mack bite was still sporadic trolling dodger/herring combos or Double Flutter spoons at 60 to 80 feet deep for 3 to 8 pounders. One of Mathis’ friends recently caught a 17-pound mack on a big Rapala. The road to the dam off Pea Vine Ridge Road was clear and easy going.
Berkeley Flats turned on with catches of halibut for private boaters. From the mix of shorts to legals, it looks like the spring season is getting a very early start. Catches of halibut also came from down at Alameda Rock Wall and across the South bay in front of South San Francisco.
New Huck Finn was the one boat working out of Emeryville and made it work for her passengers who got limits or near limits of Dungeness Crabs outside the Gate. Overnight soaks meant full pots of crabs.
Massive swells shut off the best spots on the jetties and made beaches unfishable. People worked the safe spots inside the jetty near the parking lots and managed rainbow perch, red tail perch and kelp greenling. Locals felt that even if they could go crabbing, weather and sea conditions would have severely limited their efforts this year.
▪ FORT BRAGG/POINT ARENA
The pier at Point Arena held firm against big swells all season and people are fishing it for lingcod, rockfish, kelp greenling and perch. Most local beach spots were unfishable due to dangerously large swells. At Fort Bragg, Noyo Jetty provided safe water access on some days and so people were able to bait up then hook up with kelp greenling, cabezon, rockfish and perch.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Huli Cat hauled in crabs with individual pot counts as high as 33 crabs. Sanddabs were out there, but the catch counts were variable. Pacifica Pier was briefly closed whenever threatened, but pier crabbers did well the rest of the time. Local beaches saw striped bass catches with some running as big as 21 pounds.
▪ LAWSON’S LANDING/BODEGA BAY
Ocean conditions were not friendly and so most fishing was done in protected waters. At Lawson’s Landing, jumbo jacksmelt swarmed shrimp baits and filled buckets. A few surf perch were also taken. Perch and rockfish were caught up the coast at Doran Beach, the rocks at Bodega Bay Harbor and up the coast near Salmon Creek.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Bass Tub is out of drydock and going through finishing touches in preparation for getting back into the action, so it is high time to book trips. Lovely Martha fished south Bay for halibut. Deadliest Kast hooked an 8-foot sturgeon. South San Francisco shoreline saw good action on both halibut and striped bass.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
A total of 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were released into the lake on Friday, and trout fishermen are picking up quality planters using trout dough bait, nightcrawlers or spinners. Bass fishing has taken off with the warm temperatures, and drop-shot plastics above submerged rockpiles are productive at depths to 30 feet. Crappie to 2 pounds are also active, and the Houseboat docks or Mountain Springs near rock or submerged trees are the top areas for the slabs. The annual trout derby ends on Sunday, March 6 with the drawing at 2:00 p.m. The launch is now open with two ramps and two docks.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
Cold water releases from upstream Lake Pardee have lowered the water temperature of the lake as 4 to 5 inches of vertical rise has been occurring on a daily basis. The bass have dropped to depths from 20 to 25 feet with plastics or jigs, and numbers of small bass are the rule. Trout trollers are scoring in the dam area with Rapalas, Speedy Shiners, or blade/’crawler combinations. Last week’s plant of 1200 pounds was split between the South Shore Pond and the South Shore launch ramp. Crappie are found near structure with small to medium minnows or crappie jigs. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open along with both ramps at the North Shore, and the ramps are expected to remain open through the season with anticipated water releases from upstream Lake Pardee.
▪ DON PEDRO
Bass fishing remains the top draw with the best action on drop-shot plastics, swimbaits, glide baits, and jigs at depths to 30 feet. There is a window for reaction baits along south facing banks in the afternoons. Trout action remains very slow, and Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “It is just a waiting game right now, since we put in over 3 limits of rainbow trout at the same time last year.” The launch ramp at the end of the road near Moccasin is under water at the present time, and the lake will need to rise to 725 feet for the main Moccasin ramp to be accessible. The Flemings Meadow ramp remains the only operation ramp on the lake.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The bass bite is solid with a 23.68-pound limit topped with an 8.38-pound largemouth bass during the Fresno Bass Club tournament. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs are all working, and the water is stained and about 51 degrees with the Barrett Cove South Ramp open. There are houseboats in several locations on the lake with the marinas moving the boats into deeper water, and the no-wake zones exist throughout the lake. Maintenance work is being completed on one of the gates at the dam. The lake has risen 4 feet to 18% of capacity and 663.46 feet in elevation.
▪ LAKE McSWAIN
Not much change on the trout front, with no plants within the past week. The water is starting to clear up after releases from Lake McClure had stained the lake over the past few weeks. Trout fishing has been best from the banks near the campgrounds with blue/chrome Kastmasters or garlic rainbow trout dough bait. The lake is down a few feet as work on the Exchequer Dam at Lake McClure continues.
▪ NEW HOGAN
The launch ramp is fully operational, but striped bass action with live minnows or rolled shad is slow with the limited water clarity. Bait fishing is best at the present time in the stained water.
▪ NEW MELONES
Bass fishing is the best show in town, but the top action remains on the bottom with finesse techniques of plastics on the Texas-rig or jigs on a football head at depths to 45 feet. Fish are coming into the shallows along south facing banks in the afternoons, and reactions baits are a possibility. Trout action is fair at best with trollers working over the main river channel at depths to 40 feet to avoid submerged timber. Bank fishing is best around the Highway 49 Bridge with Kastmasters or trout dough bait. The launch ramp is now two lanes of dirt/gravel at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle is advised. The lake has risen to 19% of capacity.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 71-percent capacity. Bass fishing was sporadic this past week with some anglers catching nothing but small fish and other picking up some big spots. Lots of 5 to 7 pounders were being caught on live minnows. A small tournament this past weekend produced a 10 1/2 pounder, but no one was willing to say how the fish was caught.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full. The North Shore Resort team tournament fielded 59 boats and 51 weighed in. The winning weight of 13.68 pounds was caught by Mark McCord and Tyson Rappleye; second place went to Shannon and Sara Kahahane with 11.27 pounds; third place was 10.86 pounds that included the big fish at 3.91 pounds caught by Dewey Hutson and Gary Okusako.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 21 feet from full. The lake was stocked again this past week with 1800 pounds of rainbows, so fishing was good.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported the water clarity was improving and there was little debris on the lake. Fishing was slow with little pressure from anglers.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 52-percent capacity--up another 7.5 feet this past week. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported good fishing as the spawn kicked into high gear. Anglers were catching 40 to 50 bass per day on drop-shot and darthead worms, tubes, small swimbaits, and Senkos on gentle sloping points and flatter coves in 5 to 30 feet of water in the West Branch, North Fork, and Slot. Some females already spawned on the last full moon and the shallows were loaded with males. The water clarity was improving rapidly, but debris was still a problem. Salmon were hitting mooched anchovies at the buoy line at the south end of the dam.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 96.8-percent capacity. NID reported fishing was slow.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 79-percent capacity. The boat ramps at the marina and Cascade Shore were open to all size vessels. NID reported a few fishermen were out but fishing was slow.
▪ STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR
The lake was over 85-percent full and the boat ramp was open. Troll for browns and rainbows at the creek inlet on the upper end of the lake with Rapalas and spoons in the top 15 feet.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 130.8-foot elevation at press time—61.1-percent capacity. WON Staffer Pat Young stopped by here this past week and noticed that most of the shallower coves and tule banks had little or no water on them. Look for bass on the rock banks or gravel/mud banks with at least a few feet of water on them. A shore fisherman at Wilbur Rd. reported that he was catching 1 or 2 trout or salmon per day on Power Eggs, but fishing was very slow overall. Shore anglers at the Hwy 162 Bridge were picking up a few steelhead on nightcrawlers.
– Western Outdoor News