Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of March 7, 2016.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
The striped bass run is in full swing with quality fish moving into the Sacramento River system prior to the storms. The high water in the river should continue to draw the linesides up higher in the river system in order to spawn. Plug casters were getting in on the action with glidebaits or swimbaits in the clear water above Rio Vista while trollers are finding success both deep and shallow below Rio Vista. Sturgeon fishing remains slow, but the influx of fresh water should bring out great opportunities for fishermen.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Largemouth bass continue to dominate the San Joaquin side of the Delta with a solid reaction bite with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, or plastics on a Zappu head. The fish are holding along ledges near flats, and they are found from the banks to 8 feet in depth. The recent rains and wind made for challenging conditions, bringing fishermen into more protected sloughs. Sea lions are thrashing all species of fish in the shallows throughout the river system. A few bluegill, crappie, and perch are taken in the south Delta. Striped bass fishing has been fair at best with a number of smaller fish, but the action should improve as the spring run builds.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
The lake remained around 430 feet of elevation, about 60 percent full, on Sunday. Trout and salmon fishing remained slow last week, but boaters and shore anglers reported hot action for spotted and smallmouth bass. Guide Don Paganelli landed close to 40 spots and smallies last Tuesday along the North Fork, using a green pumpkin tube with a 1/8-ounce jighead. The bass were suspended close to shore. Bank anglers fishing live minnows along the main body also are doing well. Expect bigger largemouth bass to move shallow to spawn within the next few weeks. The Granite Bay, Brown’s Ravine and Folsom Point launches are now open.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
Camping and fishing will resume this Friday, March 11 at 5:00 a.m. after an 8-month closure for the reconstruction and remodel of the RV Park. Camping and RV space reservations are available via telephone. Let’s go fishing and camping.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
More spawning run stripers moved into the Verona area last week. Sturgeon anglers are Knight’s Landing reported catching stripers on pile worms. S-Wavers and bombers also have been working. Once the river clears up after last weekend’s big storm, expect fish to hit jumbo minnows trolled near the bottom.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER
Anglers only got a quick shot at the steelhead here last week between storms, and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers fishing managed a few fresh fish and a few downrunners. The next day it blew out again, and will probably remain unfishable for awhile. Steelhead season runs through the end of March.
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Heavy rain blew out both rivers over the weekend. Before the rains, the Elk was in good shape and yielding a mix of fresh and spawned out steelhead. The Elk hit 5.3 feet on Sunday morning. The Sixes was high and muddy. More rain is expected this week, but the Elk often quickly drops to fishable levels between storms.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The river was in prime shape last week before the weekend storm hit, and more spring salmon were caught, along with winter steelhead. It’s early for the springers, but the main run may enter early due to all the rains and high flows. Flows were 25,000 cfs at Agness on Sunday.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
Continued rain last week and due every day this week has the river blown out and unfishable, reported Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle. Lake fishing has not been much, either, due to the weather. The first spring salmon were caught at the mouth 2 weeks ago, and early springers could be expected up here earlier this year, too.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
Excellent steelhead fishing for downers and fresh fish last week until the rains hit, but now the river is expected to crest at around 22 feet and will probably be unfishable except for plunkers for the next two weeks. Harbor seals and sea lions are wreaking havoc on the fishery, and if anyone wants to know how to save the fishery, get rid of some of the hundreds of seals and lions that kill the thousands of fish here.
▪ SMITH RIVER
Fishing was fair to good for steelies here last week until the big storm hit Friday, bringing the river from 6,000 cfs to 40,000 cfs, and it may still be out by the weekend with more rain in the forecast. Both WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing agreed that when you get into the steelhead, you can do really well on a mix of downers and still a few fresh fish.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Flows jumped to 1,800 cfs on Sunday after water was released from Iron Gate Dam following heavy rain Saturday. More rain is coming this week. Steelhead fishing has been fair, but pressure has been very light.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Rains blew the river out big time over the weekend. Flows on Sunday at Seiad Valley were 10,100 cfs on Sunday. Flows at Orleans hit 46,300 cfs, and were still rising with rain falling Sunday night. There has been little effort for winter steelhead this season because of high water.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Flowing at 90,000 cfs Sunday, the lower Klamath was high and muddy. Expect the river to remain blown out for the next few weeks.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
A small stretch of the Trinity near Lewiston was fishable over the weekend, but much of the river was high and muddy after the weekend’s major winter storm. Flows at Lewiston were 326 cfs on Sunday as water is held back at Trinity Lake. Flows jumped to 2,230 cfs at Douglas City and 3,460 cfs at Junction City on Sunday. Hoopa had flows of 35,400 cfs. Some steelhead were being caught before the rains, but most were spawned out fish headed to the ocean. Expect decent fishing for brown trout as the upper river clears.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
Conditions will change with a series of storms moving in, but it should not impact the bass fishing too much. Look for bass moving into the shallows and crappie in areas like the Clearlake Oaks Keys. Jigs, ripbaits, A-rigs and rattlebaits are being used for bigger bass while live bait finds the numbers.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Alabama rigs, swimbaits and plastics are all working for bass up to 7 pounds. With water temperatures climbing, the bass are moving in and feeding up.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Not much change here. 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
When spring like weather returns, insect hatches could start anytime, and the trout will come up and start to feed on them. Troll fast action Speedy Shiners rigged down 5 to 8 feet early. Currently, it’s raining and snowing and stormy, but it didn’t seem to slow the bite much. More browns than rainbows.
▪ 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. Storms, rain and snow over the weekend impacted the action and effort.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
Leeches are always 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 are still scattered in coves with flats in 13 to 20 feet. Look for cleaner, warmer water in the Sacramento arm. Pre-spawning bass are coming into the shallows. Looking for red clay, chunk rock or gravel in the shallows.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Flows on Sunday at Fair Oaks were 4,400 cfs, up from 3,000 cfs, after heavy rain fell Saturday. Although stripers are now being caught on the lower Sacramento River, there haven’t been any reports of stripers in the American yet. Pressure is light for steelhead, although a few fish are around. Bank anglers are catching fish drifting yarn and Corkies. There has been little effort from boaters.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Striper fishing remains good at Boyd’s Pump, Shanghai Bend and Star Bend. Heavy rain on Saturday isn’t expected to have much impact on conditions in the Feather. S-Wavers, pencil poppers and bombers have been working best on the stripers. Expect to see some spawning fish in the next few weeks. Some sturgeon are being caught near the mouth of the Bear River.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was stocked last week with rainbow trout. Fishing has been good, with Power Bait, Pautzke salmon eggs and nightcrawlers all working. This year’s trout derby will be held April 2-3.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows jumped from 2,000 cfs to 30,000 cfs after Saturday’s big rain. They were down to 13,000 cfs Sunday evening, but expected to rise again with more rain headed to Northern California. There was been virtually no effort from trout anglers with the high water.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
More sturgeon are expected to move into the river to spawn after last week’s big rain event. Eel, ghost shrimp combined with nightcrawler and pile worms combined with ghost shrimp have worked well. Focus on the upstream side of the deeper holes for sturgeon.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows at Keswick Dam have held steady at 3,400 cfs as water is held back in Shasta Lake, but all of the small streams near Redding have muddy water flowing into the Sacramento after Saturday’s major rainstorm. Battle Creek shot up from 400 cfs to 8,000 cfs. Trout fishing was good before the river blew out. Expect fishing to quickly improve again after the rain eases up. Egg patterns, black rubber legs, beads and Glo Bugs all have been working.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
A few sturgeon were reported in the deepwater channel but overall fishing is slow.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 42.3-percent capacity. The ice fishing season is over here with unsafe ice conditions and open water showing. Flyfishing at the inlet was producing for those using both wet and dry skwala stone patterns, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 66-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was still 3 to 4 feet thick and covered with over 2 feet of snow and more snow was in the forecast. Ice fishing was best at the dam using worms, bay shrimp, and 1/4- or 3/8-ounce gold Kastmaster spoons in 20 to 25 feet of water for a mix of rainbows and macks.
▪ CARSON RIVER (East)
The river was very high and muddy due to the big rains from the storm that hit the Sierras this past weekend.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported ice fishing was over for the season. There was some ice from Mallard to the dam, but it was getting much too thin to trust. The north end of the lake above Mallard Point was open water and shore fishing was slow.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Snow and ice on the ramp here made boat launching difficult, if not unsafe. If the ramp clears, try trolling for macks on the west end of the lake with F11, F13, or F18 Rapalas.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 29-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the lake was ice free and shore fishermen were scoring some limits of 16- to 18-inch rainbows at the dam using nightcrawlers.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 78-percent capacity. The big storm over the weekend snowed in the basin, and more cold, wet weather was forecast for later this week.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
The road to the lake was clear and the lake was now ice free. Shore fishing should be okay at the dam using inflated nightcrawlers and floating dough bait. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported flyfishing was productive using size 10 and 12 leeches and size 14 and 16 blood midges. Use a floating line on warm days and a full sinker on cold days.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported trout fishing was good for a couple days after the DFW plant, but the bite had slowed. The new rainbows either dispersed out into the lake or were eaten by the lake’s big Mackinaws.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported excellent mack action on the west side of the lake at the Tavern Hole and Sugar Pine mooching live minnows on the bottom in 100 to 120 feet of water for 4- to 6-pound fish. The boats were picking up limits on light loads and one fish around on big loads. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing will begin brown trout trolling trips soon.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 32.3-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported little was happening here since the ice was unsafe but still covering most of the lake.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported flyfishing was productive for Dave Rials of Sun Valley, Nev., who used a black/red woolly bugger to land a 19-pound, 2.4-ounce cutthroat at the Nets. Gary Zahniser of Susanville netted a 16-pound, 2-ounce cutt’ while trolling at the Nets. Guide Doug Ouellette at Pyramid Lake Guide Service recommended retrieving Popcorn Beetles and Midnight Cowboys on Teeny 300 lines and 49ers and copper/black midges in size 8 on WF8F lines.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported they were not booking trips here because the fishing was so sporadic.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 49.3-percent capacity. Fishing should be good at the dam using worms, bay shrimp, and Kastmaster spoons.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported the lake was up another 4 feet!! A group staying at the marina reported doing well trolling Rapalas in the top 15 feet for rainbows to 3 pounds. Shore fishermen were catching fish on nightcrawlers.
▪ TRUCKEE LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported anglers were catching up to 5 trout per day on the main river from the Hwy 267 Bridge in Truckee to the Stateline mostly on BWO and midge nymphs, and dry flies during sporadic skwala stone hatches. Recent snows created some access problems.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 70-percent capacity. After the weather clears and the road reopens, Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service recommended toplining spinners for rainbows to 3 pounds.
A few halibut are showing up in the catches for anglers working the Alameda Rock Wall, Berkeley Flats or down around the airport. Stripers from 14 to 28 inches remain plentiful around any rocky point with current for boaters trolling or casting swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps or Hair Raisers.
▪ BODEGA BAY
Easy limits of Dungeness crab are being pulled from 80 to 130 feet of water south of Pt. Reyes for those private boaters who make the run. The seas dictate the fishing for the crabbers, and get ready for some spring halibut fishing in Tomales Bay. Slow troll or drift live bait from Hog Island down to the back of the Bay. The bite will get better and better as the water warms up just a bit.
Easy limits of Dungeness crabs up the Marin coast for the party boats when the weather permits. After a few cancellations due to severe weather, they were back up and running full crab trips on the New Huck Finn and New Salmon Queen at Emeryville Sportfishing.
Big seas kept everybody away from the ocean over the past few weeks, and the best bet is when weather permits for the rockfishing or crabbing from shore along the jettys. Squid, anchovies and shrimp used for bait should net you greenlings, cabezon and small black rockfish.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Big seas this past week kept Noyo Harbor anglers home, but when it calms down look for some good jetty fishing for rockfish and beach fishing for rainbow and barred perch. The jetty outside of Noyo Harbor kicks out some decent rockfish on squid or shrimp fished in and around the rocks. Pile worms or motor oil grubs on light tackle provide some fun times for perch to 3 pounds along some of the beaches.
▪ HALF MOON BAY
The pier at Pacifica was vacant this past week because of the high seas, but fishing should resume for some decent perch fishing and an occasional striped bass when the rough ocean lays down. Good Dungeness crab limits for Huli Cat at Half Moon Bay will pick back up after some pretty rough seas over the past week.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO/SAN PABLO BAY
Bass Tub is back up and running after a face lift and will be running striper and halibut trips in the next few months. Plenty of action on stripers, with a few halibut starting to show in the catches around Alameda Rock Wall and down around the airport. Easy limits of striped bass in San Pablo Bay at both anchor and casting swimbaits to rocky points. Look for the next few months to be good potluck fishing in the Bay.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
The annual Lake Amador Trout Derby concluded on March 6, and several prizes up to $500 cash were distributed to participants during Sunday’s drawing. A trout plant is coming week with 1200 pounds put into the lake, bringing the season’s total to 20,100 pounds. Bank fishermen are finding the best action with trout dough baits, Power Eggs, or Kastmasters while trolling has been slower in the off color water. The lake is 1.5 feet from spilling. The 2016 Norcal Trout Anglers Challenge makes their third stop at the lake on March 19th for shore and boat fisherman. The entry fee is $20 and kids are free. Adults are eligible to win a free boat and kids are eligible to win a free kayak rig.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
The lake continues to rise from releases from upstream Lake Pardee along with inflow, and the colder water temperatures have brought about an improved trout bite. Trollers are scoring with Speedy Shiners, broken backed Rapalas, or grubs in the top 15 feet of the surface. The lake is expected to muddy up from the wind and rain, and the bass have moved into deeper water. 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbows were placed into the lake on Friday, split between the South Pond and the South Shore launch. Crappie continue to be taken by trout trollers.
▪ DON PEDRO
Bass fishing continues be very tough with the best action on shad patterned plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head. A dead-stick presentation is essential in order to entice strikes. Before the recent storms, male bass were cruising the shoreline, but they will back off with the colder and muddier conditions. A few fish have been taken on swimbaits, but these are the exception. Trout trolling remains very slow with few anglers trying. Bank fishermen are scoring with various colors of trout dough bait, Mice Tails or nightcrawlers. With the lake rising to over 724 feet, the Moccasin is now open and on the concrete, providing an alternate to the Fleming Meadow launch ramp.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The bass bite continues to be very good for spotted bass with jigs or plastics on the shakey head or drop-shot. The lake is kicking out quality spots despite the stained water from the rapid inflow. The water level is coming up 1 to 2 feet per day, and it has risen 7 feet this past week to 670.85 feet and 19% of capacity. The Barrett Cove North Ramp is open, and there are numerous no-wake zones throughout the lake. Maintenance work is being completed on one of the gates at the dam.
▪ LAKE McSWAIN
High winds arrived over the weekend, but this didn’t stop the shoreline fishermen from showing up in storm windows. Blue/chrome Kastmasters, garlic rainbow trout dough bait, or Power Eggs are working, and nightcrawlers are also an option. The lake has risen to the normal water level, but maintenance work on the Exchequer Dam at Lake McClure continues. The water clarity is limited due to the inflow from McClure, and bass have entered the lake through the water releases and warmer overall temperatures.
▪ NEW HOGAN
The lake has risen to 26% of capacity with heavy inflow from the Calaveras River watershed over the weekend. The water is heavily stained, and only a few fishermen are working the lake. Live bait is best for the abundant stripers, but the overall action is slow.
▪ NEW MELONES
Bass fishing remains very good, but the fish will be backing off of the banks into deeper water with the recent storms. A change of techniques is necessary by adding more vibration and scent to your lures in the muddy water. Trout fishing remains slow, but a few limits have been taken at depths to 15 feet near the dam. Bank fishing is best near the Highway 49 Bridge. Crappie are holding near wood, and catfish are cruising the inlets with running water. The lake has risen to 19% of capacity, and the concrete launch ramp at Glory Hole Point is expected to be accessible by mid-week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 74-percent capacity. A small local tournament that weighed in after deadline two weekends ago only weighed a big fish of 7 pounds with most anglers bringing in small keepers. Emerald Cove Marina reported the water color was still clear on the main body despite the heavy rains. Boaters need to be on the lookout for floating debris.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full and murky since the weekend storm. Earlier in the week, Ron Franks of Folsom fished for bass and caught 43 spots in the Rock Creek and Bear River arms in 8 to 10 feet of water on oxblood, watermelon, and green pumpkin lizards. The water temp was 53 to 56 degrees.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 14 feet from full. Since the last 1800-pound plant, fishing for rainbow trout has been good with lots of limits taken, mostly by shore anglers. The biggest fish of the week was a 6 1/4-pound rainbow taken by Stelian Creta of Penn Valley at the Beach on floating dough bait.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is at 105-percent capacity and spilling muddy water. No one was fishing with the big storm blowing through.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 55-percent capacity—up 10 feet this past week with heavy rains falling. A 92 boat tournament this past weekend caught lots of fish—top weight on Saturday had an 8-pound kicker for 15 pounds. Guide Ron Gandolfi recommended drop-shot and darthead worms, tubes, and Senkos on points and flats at 5 to 15 feet deep. Watch out for debris. Jim Netzel at Tight Lines Guide Service was catching-and-releasing lots of 8- to 12-inch king salmon and keeping some nice 20 to 23 inchers trolling a variety of lures 35 to 65 feet deep at the dam.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is at 94.7-percent capacity. The lake was murky with lots of floating debris. Fishing was slow. Orchard Springs Resort was loaded with debris.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 81.2-percent capacity. One bass angler reported catching 3 smallmouth bass to 2 1/2 pounds on worms and jigs between Cascade Shore and the dam. A shore angler scored a couple 12- to 13-inch rainbows near the marina on worms.
▪ STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR
The lake is full. A couple of recent anglers reported very slow fishing.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 131.9-foot elevation at press time—67.9-percent capacity. Oroville Outdoors reported good bass action on rock banks and offshore structure using jigs, crankbaits, and swimbaits for fish to 4 pounds.
– Western Outdoor News