Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of March 21, 2016.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
A heavy trout plant of Nebraska-bred rainbows in excess of 8,000 pounds is anticipated by April 1, supplementing the holdovers in the lake. Trout fishing from the banks remains slow, but bass are available for bank fishermen as the fish are moving into the shallows. Kokanee to 13 inches have been taken near the surface up the river arm.
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▪ NEW MELONES
The Glory Hole launch ramp is back on the concrete as the lake has risen to 24% of capacity. Bass remain the top species at the lake with the best action on the bottom with dark colors of jigs or plastic worms. Catfishing has improved with the whiskerfish holding near all creeks and inlets into the lake. Crappie are holding near submerged structure in the coves or at the mouth of major creeks. Trout action remains a disappointment.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
Folsom’s elevation held steady at 433 feet most of last week. Bass fishing continues to be good, with spotted bass and smallmouth making up most of the catch, but a few largemouth also now being caught as they move up to spawn. The main body fished better than the North Fork and South Fork over the weekend, as the water is clearer and warmer. Small tubes and swimbaits are working well. A 7-pound largemouth was caught during a bass tournament on Saturday. Trout and landlocked salmon fishing remained slow last week.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was stocked in mid March with rainbow trout. This year’s trout derby will be held April 2-3.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. Collins Lake Resort stocked a double load of rainbows this past week and will plant another 1,800 pounds this week. Trout fishing this past weekend was understandably very good with lots of limits taken by shore anglers using floating dough bait at the Beach and the dam. The big rainbows of the week were two 5-pounders caught by Tony and Carol Cabral of Dobbins while fishing from shore at the Beach.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
The very few guides who tried fishing the Chetco last week found excellent river conditions after 2 weeks of being blown out, and surprisingly good catches of steelhead from the South Fork down to Social Security Bar. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing put his clients on 6 fish March 19. Another storm was expected however, which should spell the end of it for the year. Season closes March 31.
▪ ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk was crowded over the weekend, but steelhead were being caught from the hatchery to Iron Head. The Sixes was slow. Heavy rain is expected early in the week, which will make the Elk the best bet for the final week of steelhead season. Both rivers close March 31.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The lower Rogue was still high, flowing at 12,500 cfs on Sunday at the Agness gauge, but several more hatchery spring salmon were caught over the weekend. Guides fishing for springers also landed numerous steelhead. The river is expected to be in better shape this weekend. Anchoring close to shore with anchovies is the go-to method for spring salmon. The springer run typically gains steam in early April.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Oregon
A couple of good days were seen on the weather front, but more rain is due this week, which will probably blow out the river again. It’s still a high water flow, but some guys are still catching an occasional steelhead on side-planers and small plugs. Selmac Lake remains pretty good for bass and trout. Bass hit on Rat-L-Traps and most rattling plugs. Trout are hitting well on bobbers with a nightcrawler or Power Bait. Applegate Lake is full again and anglers are catching trout, trolling a Wedding Ring behind flashers, trolling about 60 feet deep.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
No rain and beautiful, sunny weather allowed the flows to drop from almost 30,000 cfs to 6,000 cfs over the weekend, but it began raining again and the river will be on the rise again, according to Scott Heenstra of Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville. Added to that are releases from Warm Springs and Coyote dams and it’s additional 3,000 cfs that will keep it unfishable for weeks.
▪ SMITH RIVER
After last weekends rain, the river came up to almost 24 feet at the Highway 101 bridge and then dropped very slowly, according to WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. On Thursday, the river finally came down to the 18-foot level, the river was still a little high but a nice color green. “I fished Friday with a couple friends from Mckinleyville - Jack and Sam Rimson - and we went 2 for 3 with a fresh native hen and a downrunner buck. They also released a few halfpounders. More rain expected for the next couple days, call before you come.” Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing agreed with the report and said it was experiencing only light fishing pressure and was flowing at 8,590 cfs on Sunday, but expected to crest again at 16,500 cfs by Tuesday. The river remains open through the end of April.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Heavy rains and runoff had releases at Iron Gate Dam up to 5,090 cfs on Sunday, way too high for steelhead fishing. There has been no effort with the high water.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Conditions remain poor for late season steelhead, as flows on Sunday At Seiad Valley were 9,990 cfs, and 24,100 cfs at Orleans.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Flows on Sunday at Terwer were 49,600 cfs. The river has been blown out the entire year.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
There has been no fishing effort for steelhead the past week because of poor conditions and high water. Flows at Lewiston were 321 cfs on Sunday, but quickly rising to 1,150 cfs at Douglas City and 1,550 at Junction City. Flows at Willow Creek were 8,680 cfs on Sunday and 14,100 cfs at Hoopa.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
If it’s crappie you are after try the State Park or Indian Beach Resort although they are reported all around the lake. With female bass moving onto beds in the shallows you’ll find the lake very crowded with both tournament and recreational anglers pounding the shoreline. Bass fishing was difficult over the weekend.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
Bass are moving in and feeding up for their spawn. Reaction baits worked along the weed lines, small swimbaits and spinnerbaits are getting some nice bass. The trout trollers will be out as soon as the water clears - right now it is still stained.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
The main body from the Narrows up to the mouth of Cherry Creek was good for bass in shallow transitions from 5 to 15 feet around standing timber in clearer water.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
Rapalas in a variety of colors have been hammering fish in the top 10 feet for mostly brown trout with a few rainbows. But with warming weather look for that to trigger aquatic insect hatches and be prepared to match the hatch.
▪ BAUM LAKE
Look for hungry trout feeding on little zebra midges, small leeches, black midges and pheasant tails and match the hatch.
▪ MCCLOUD RESERVOIR
Try leeches, sinking flies, sinking lines or dry flies near the dam. Subsurface stuff like midges will also be an option.
▪ PIT RIVER
Fast running water has the Pit 3 still the better bet. All of the normal early season tackle like dark or red nymphs or copper Johns should do the trick here.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
Pre-spawning bass are headed into the shallows. Bass will be scattered in coves with flats in 10 to 20 feet on gravel and moving onto beds. For trout, look for the cleanest water you can find.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
A 51.3-pound carp was caught and released in the Jackson Creek arm on trout dough bait. A huge plant of 3,600 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows was released into the lake this past Friday in anticipation of Saturday’s Nor Cal Trout Anglers Challenge. The event was a big success with rainbows over 5 pounds landed. The launch cove received 1,200 pounds of the rainbows, and one pair of anglers landed a 10 fish limit weighing 37 pounds. The lake is spilling over, but the surface debris is minimal with the lake slightly stained.
▪ DON PEDRO
The lake continues to rise by leaps and bounds with an increase of 10 feet to 745.55 feet in elevation and 56% of capacity. All three launch ramps are now open, but boaters who use the Blue Oaks ramp are advised that the entire area from this ramp out to the 5 mph no wake buoys between Schoolhouse & Fleming Point will remain a slow 5 mph No Wake zone until such time that lake level conditions allow for the removal of houseboat mooring from the area. Travel time from the Blue Oaks launch ramp to the 5 mph no wake buoys at no wake speed is approximately 25 minutes. Bass fishing is limited to shad patterned plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head with a dead-stick presentation. The fish are scattered with the rising lake levels. The trout action has yet to emerge, similar to New Melones, but a few planted trout are taken by trollers.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake has risen 43 feet within the past two weeks to 713.29 feet in elevation and 29% of capacity. The Best Bass Tournaments held a tournament at the lake on Saturday with 69 boats producing limits over 19 pounds including largemouth to 8.19 pounds and a spotted bass over 6 pounds. The water is stained throughout most of the lake, but there is clear water to be found. Numbers of small fish are the rule in the shallows with jigs, plastics on the drop-shot, or tube baits.
▪ LAKE MCSWAIN
The rainbow trout bite rebounded with the addition of another plant at the beginning of the past week. The water is starting to clear up, and the lake is back to the normal level. Blue/chrome Kastmasters or various colors of trout dough bait are working from the shoreline at the Marina, the Brush Pile, and the Handicapped Docks.
▪ NEW HOGAN
The lake is heavily stained and loaded with debris from runoff from the Calaveras River watershed affected by this fall’s Butte Fire. The launch ramp is in the water and putting a boat in the lake is easy. Striped bass fishing is best with live bait until the water clears.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 50.9% capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported there were several small cartopper boats trolling for kokanee at the dam this past week.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 64% capacity. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported rainbows and macks were still hitting Kastmaster spoons tipped with worms or bay shrimp at the dam. Josh Otto from Kirkwood preferred fishing behind the resort and at the spillway with the Kastmaster.
▪ CARSON RIVER (East)
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported flyfishermen were picking up 1 or 2 fish on nymphs 1 to 2 miles below Hangman’s Bridge, but the bite would get better as the weather warms. Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the river looked great and was seeing 2 or 3 vehicles parked at the bridge daily on good weather days. Wind was in the forecast for this week, though.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 62% capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported fishing was still slow for shore anglers. A couple caught two fish from the shore between Grasshopper and Grizzly using salmon eggs and woolly buggers - the wife was bait fishing while the husband was casting the flies. Remember that the cove next to Honker Cove at the Snow Creek inlet is posted and off limits to fishing - the DFW wardens have been writing $500 citations. Fishing is allowed outside the point only by local ordinance.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 50% capacity. A local guide caught 18 macks in the 5- to 6-pound range in 1 1/2 to 2 hours trolling Humdinger and Needlefish spoons 80 feet deep over 115 to 120 feet of water along the south shore from China Cove to the west end.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the best fishing was still at the dam using nightcrawlers, floating dough bait, and marshmallows.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 75% capacity. Not much happening here.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Strong winds all week kept fishermen next to the wood stove all last week, and winds are forecast for this week, too.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is full and spilling. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported the fishing was very slow this week.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing did very well, indeed, this past week with clients scoring 14- and 15-pound macks trolling 140 feet deep at North Shore. A Texas family scored limits of 4 to 7 pounders in the same area. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported doing well trolling at South Shore with one trip producing a 5 1/2-pound rainbow, two 8 1/2-pound macks and a 16 pounder. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported excellent mack action all week with boats scoring 10 to 16 fish in the 3- to 5-pound range on morning trips and 5 to 9 fish on afternoon trips mooching live bait from Camp Rich to the Tavern Hole.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 30.9-percent capacity. Nothing happening here - the lake needs to be planted.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported 4 big fish were recorded this past week, all by shore anglers. Shane Ferrell of Plain City, Utah, caught-and-released a 20-pounder at the Tamaracks using a 49er fly. Matt Banta of Reno landed a 19 1/4-pound cutthroat at Separator on a snow cone indicator. Mike Cruz of LA netted a 15 1/4-pounder at the Nets on a tiger midge. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported a 40 fish trip at Warrior Point trolling Apex at 20-to-30 feet deep and toplining a rainbow trout spoon at 10 feet deep. The fish ranged from 17 to 22 1/2 inches.
▪ RED LAKE
Ice fishing was still very sporadic here. The best bet was to get out early in the morning during the week when there was a minimum of activity on the lake.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 46.7-percent capacity. Ice fishing at the dam was sporadic at best.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
Shore anglers and boaters were still picking up some nice rainbows and checking them in at Topaz Lodge and Casino for the ongoing derby. Topaz Landing Marina was open with plenty of water for berthing and boat launching.
▪ TRUCKEE RIVER
Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the flows were at 800 cfs and flyfishermen were catching some nice fish on skwala stone, BWO, and sculpin patterns.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 83-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported trolling for rainbows and macks was slow. A friend hit the lake this past week and blanked on the rainbows, but caught a couple 2- to 3-pound macks on dodger/herring rigs.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER/DELTA
The opening of the Yolo Bypass during the past week brought down a wall of mud and debris into the upper Sacramento Delta. The striped bass bite in the north Delta ground to a halt, but the action should only be enhanced with the high water levels. Sturgeon action took off in the Big Cut and Montezuma Slough with salmon roe or lamprey eel combined with pile worms with some teams in the Addathon Ironman Sturgeon Derby out of Pittsburg recording up to 25 diamondbacks caught and released. The Suisun Bay area brought slower action for sturgeon, but striped bass are moving in towards the shorelines. The muddy water should make its way towards Suisun Bay during the week. Striped bass will rebound once the river clears.
▪ SAN JOAQUIN RIVER/DELTA
Finding clear water is the key to success for both largemouth and striped bass, and the clearest conditions are around Mildred Island and Frank’s Tract. 30-pound limits are possible with the fish holding tight to the tules with spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, or swimbaits. Striped bass are moving in to the system, and the best action is with bait until the water clears. When fishermen are able to work clear water, swimbaits or a variety of reaction baits are working for the linesides. The troll bite will come back once the water clears.
High water has brought steelhead and striper fishing to a standstill. Flows were 11,400 cfs on Sunday, blown out, but dropping from the crest of 20,000 cfs on Wednesday.
Despite high water, anglers were still catching some stripers over the weekend on cut bait as well as live minnows. Anchovies have been the bait of choice for anglers using cut bait. Stripers have been caught at Star Bend, Shanghai Bend and Boyd’s Pump. Striper fishing is expected to pick up as the river drops, and more spawning fish arrive.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
The Sacramento near Dunsmuir was down to 3,900 cfs on Sunday, but rising again because of rain over the weekend. The river had topped 20,000 cfs early in the week. High, muddy water has made trout fishing slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Releases from Keswick dam shot up from 4,700 cfs to 20,000 cfs on Friday as the Bureau of Reclamation ramped up releases from Shasta Lake. The sudden high water brought trout fishing near Redding and Anderson to a halt. High water is expected into this week.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Some stripers have been caught, but fishing conditions are poor as water is released from Shasta Lake and other reservoirs. Expect spawning stripers as the river drops. Some sturgeon have been reported near Butte City.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
A few sturgeon are being caught, but high, muddy water has limited success. Striper fishing also is slow, with the Tisdale and Knight’s Landing launches closed because of flooding. Anchoring and fishing cut bait, such as anchovies, is the best bet in the higher water for stripers.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
High water has slowed fishing throughout the metro area.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 82-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi fished here two days and the bite changed daily. On Thursday, the fish were stacked on a point and hitting a Keitech swimbait, but nothing on the bottom. The next day, the fish were gone from the points and had positioned on submerged willows and were hitting pitched Senkos. Gandolfi’s clients caught some 5- to 6-pound spots, but most fish were dink males up building beds.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full and spilling. Kathy DeRossett at North Shore Resort reported the lake was murky with lots of floating debris. Ron Franks of Folsom fished on Wednesday and caught 32 bass to 3 pounds on worms and lizards in the Rock Creek and Bear River arms in 51- to 56-degree water at 5 to 10 feet deep.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is full and spilling. The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Skippers Cove Marina released their pen reared rainbows in the marina and fishing in and around the marina was good for fish to 3 pounds, but should be better when the water clarity improves.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 79-percent capacity - up 33 feet in the past week and only 50 feet from full!!! Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was very good with trips producing 40 fish per day using drop-shot and darthead worms, Senkos, tubes, grubs, Keitech swimbaits, and spinnerbaits. The fish were moving up with the rising water level and could be found staging on the walls and points adjacent to the spawning flats and coves in 1 to 20 feet of water. Incoming water was attracting lots of fish too. The bite can be very light as spawners just move baits off the nest instead of inhaling them.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Jim Caldwell at NID reported the lake was muddy and loaded with floating debris. Fishing was SLOW.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 98.6-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported the water here was slightly stained with some floating debris, though the District was sending crews and equipment out to remove the debris where it could. Caldwell reported a few boats went out this past week, but none reported any success.
▪ STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR
The lake is full. The lake was murky and fishing was slow.
▪ THERMALITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 134.1-foot elevation at press time - 82.6-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the crankbait bite was good on points and steep banks in 5 to 10 feet of water. One trip produced 18 bass, mostly largemouths just under 2 pounds, but they lost one at the boat that would have gone 6 to 7 pounds. Wacky-rigged Senkos pitched around the tules were working also.
Good catches of large Dungeness crabs outside the gate, plus some catches of halibut to 17 pounds are being made off the Berkeley Flats when the boats come back in.
▪ BODEGA BAY
Weather is keeping most of the action limited to surf fishing for perch and smelt. But crabbing season is now open and catches have been good for the anglers on boats going out of Bodega Bay Sportfishing.
▪ BROOKINGS, Oregon
Big swells kept boaters at the docks most of last week at the Port of Brookings, but when anglers caught a break in the weather last Thursday and Friday, rockfish were biting well along with some lings.
Boats out of here have not been running for the past few days to the Farallons due to rough seas.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Crabs in the Fort Bragg and Trinidad areas are still testing high in the dominic acid and delaying the start-up in the northern part of the state.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Both the north and south jetty's fished fair at Half Moon Bay. Kelp green lings, red tail perch and rain bow perch were fish being caught. Squid and shrimp were top baits. Action there has been outstanding for crabbing with lots of legal-sized dungeness crabs being taken not far from Pillar Point Harbor. At Pacifica, Rob Chaney at the Rusty Hook said striper fishing has been unusually good with a few caught off the pier and action even better recorded south to Morey’s Point on Hair Raisers and jigs.
▪ EUREKA/HUMBOLDT BAY
Both the north and south jetty's fished fair. Kelp green lings, red tail perch and rainbow perch were fish being caught. Squid and shrimp were top baits.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
The Happy Hooker went out on Wednesday with 12 people hauling in 120 crabs, and on Friday the boat had 19 people bag 190 big crabs. They also fished San Pablo Bay for 6 stripers.