Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of March 28, 2016.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Flows from Oroville Lake were ramped up to 10,000 cfs late last week, slowing what had been a wide-open striper bite on the lower Feather. Despite high water, fishing was good over the weekend at Boyd’s Pump, Star Bend and Beercan Beach. Cut baits, including pile worms, sardines and anchovies were working best. Live minnows are working in the clearer water. Many guides reported limits.
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▪ LAKE TAHOE
Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported “awesome” trolling for macks this past week. Four Texas anglers caught limits of 4- to 8-pound macks in 2 hourstrolling over 200 feet deep from Dollar Point to Crystal Bay Point. Another group of 6 anglers scored limits of 2 to 3 pounders and a 6 1/2-pound big fish trolling 180 to 200 feet deep and were back at the dock in 2 1/2 hours. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported easy limits mooching live bait at South Shore for 2- to 4-pound macks on morning trips—afternoon trips produced half-limits. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing was picking up some nice browns and macks on Scatter Raps at South Shore.
▪ NEW MELONES
The Glory Hole launch ramp is back on the concrete with a floating dock as the lake has risen to 25% of capacity. Bass are getting active and moving into the shallows adjacent to deep water access. Senkos in green and browns on a Texas-rig are working best for both numbers and size. The water temperature is approaching 60 degrees in various locations in the lake. Crappie limits have been taken with medium minnows or mini-jigs near shoreline structure. Catfishing has improved with the whiskerfish holding near all creeks and inlets into the lake with flowing water as they feed up.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
A few early shad were reported last week at Knight’s Landing, while striper fishing was good last week before big water releases from the reservoirs slowed the action. Expect fishing for stripers to heat up again as the water drops and clears. Pile worms and sardines have been working best. Some sturgeon are still being caught near Verona and Knight’s Landing.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
A big school of stripers moved into the lower river last week and are expected to be spread throughout the river as it drops. Big releases from Shasta Dam and other reservoirs had the river high over the weekend.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER
Closed to fishing on Thursday, March 31.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Flows are expected to be down to 8,000 cfs by Thursday with water temperatures around 50 to 51 degrees, and spring salmon fishing should be prime for the latter week and weekend, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The springer king salmon run is almost prime time.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Oregon
The river is finally dropping and clearing and the fishing should pick up this week for steelhead. Rain has let up and warm weather is predicted for the rest of the week. Plug fishing is producing action again on blue and green metallic-colored plugs and crawdad patterns. Side-drifting is producing some action, too, on roe and yarn balls soaked in Pautzke’s Nectar. Fishing has been fair in the Applegate and Illinois rivers, but the season closes on these rivers on Friday, April 1.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
Flows were over 4000 cfs as of Easter Sunday. The clarity is starting to improve, but the water remains very high. The dam release schedule indicates that by the 28th, Coyote dam release will be down to 150 cfs and Warm Springs will be down to 700 cfs. This will make the lower river still high, but should be clearing. Best bet for fishing will be upstream of Healdsburg with lower flows and holding fish or downrunners. Best technique will be plunking bait with a Spin ‘N’ Glo until the 31st. Bait season on the Russian officially closes on April 1st, but barbless hooks remain in affect year round, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport & Tackle.
▪ SMITH RIVER
Spawned out downer steelhead are the big story here, although a few fresh fish did show up last week. While the Mad River, South Fork Eel and Chetco all closed to steelhead fishing on March 31, the Smith, remains open from the Forks down until the end of April. Good action was found last week, and guide Mick Thomas put his clients on 4 fishon Friday.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
The river remains blown out, running at 4,120 cfs on Sunday. High, muddy flows have stalled the late season steelhead action. Anglers are now waiting for the spring salmon fly hatch, which is still two months away.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
The river remains high and muddy because of recent rains, flowing at 8,440 cfs at Seiad Valley on Sunday. Steelhead fishing has been poor.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Flows on Sunday at Terwer were 43,200 cfs. The river has been blown out the entire year. Anglers will begin spring salmon fishing in late May.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Pressure has been light, although a few late steelhead, as well as some brown trout are available. The river was in good shape over the weekend, with flows of 307 cfs at Lewiston and 1,220 cfs at Junction City on Sunday. The Douglas City to Lewiston stretch is the best section for browns, which will hit small Kastmasters, Rapalas or nightcrawlers. The first spring king salmon likely won’t arrive until June.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
The lake is much less crowded these days and will be for a few more weeks. Although no one seems to be targeting the catfish, the crappie and bedding bass have been in high demand. If it’s crappie you are after, try the State Park or Indian Beach Resort with crappie jigs. For bedding bass try anything but topwater.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
The bass bite stalled this past week. It’s still a little early for bedding fish, but the water is warming up. Bassers targeting the shallow spawning areas should concentrate with slow moving glidebaits, swimbaits or jerkbaits for largemouth to 7 pounds and smallmouth and spots to 4 pounds. Trout trollers will be out soon now, since the waters are clearing.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
The main body from the Narrows up to the mouth of Cherry Creek continued to be good for bass in shallow transitions from 5 to 15 feet around standing timber in clearer water.
▪ LAKE MENDOCINO
With the lake at full pool and both the north and south launch ramps fully operational, this quiet lake has been getting busy. Good numbers of smallmouth and largemouth bass have been reported.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
With warming weather, look for that to trigger aquatic insect hatches and be prepared to match the hatch when trout fishing. The smallmouth bass fishing has been slow and should start to pick up with the hatches.
▪ BAUM LAKE
Little zebra midges, small leeches, black midges and pheasant tails have been the way to go this spring, so check out the bugs and match the hatch.
▪ MCCLOUD RESERVOIR
This beautiful little sleeper has some good trout fishing and few working it. Try leeches, sinking flies, sinking lines or dry flies near the dam or midges.
▪ PIT RIVER
Fast running water has the Pit 3 still the better bet if you decide to go. Early season tackle like dark or red nymphs or copper Johns should do the trick here.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
For trout, look for the cleanest water you can find. The Salt and Squaw as well as the McCloud arms and Jones Valley have been good for bass to 3 pounds. The bite is from 30 feet to the surface on spinnerbaits, tubes and Senkos in any color.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
The lake is full, but it is no longer spilling over. The water temperatures continue to rise, and the lake is clearing up after a week without rain. Three rainbows in excess of 5 pounds took the top three places in the recent Nor Cal Trout Anglers Challenge Derby after a 3600 pound plant. The rainbows are in the top 5 feet, and various colors of trout baits are working, while trollers are working the back of the lake with bright color patterned plugs or spinners. The Clubhouse is now open later for our summer hours: Sun.-Thurs. from 6 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri.- Sat. from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. The gates to the back of the campgrounds are open for full use.
▪ DON PEDRO
The lake came up 6 feet and is now at 59% capacity, and all three ramps are open. Boats can now get up the Tuolumne Arm 4 miles from Moccasin, where it’s blocked by a debris boom. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said the water clarity is good at 10 feet of visibility and he and his anglers picked up a kokanee, three rainbow trout, and a bass on a recent trip, so the trolling action is picking up. With the rising water levels, bass fishing remains hit or miss.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake has risen 8 feet in the last week to 721.80 feet in elevation and 32% of capacity, but the lake is still below the 50% average at this time of year. The original Exchequer Dam is now covered with water for the first time since 2013. Bass fishing is solid with the fish holding from the banks to 10 feet with jigs, spinnerbaits, and shallow-diving Squarebill crankbaits in bluebill/chartreuse. The water is stained, but it is clearing up. The Barrett’s Cove launch ramps are in the water.
▪ LAKE MCSWAIN
The lake is clearing up after months of overflow of stained water out of Lake McClure. The trout plant within the past two weeks has led to improved action from the banks at the regular locations of the Marina, the Brush Pile, and the Handicapped Docks.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
Bass and crappie fishing are the top draw, but a number of boats are searching for their own validation of a report of a 15-inch kokanee up the river arm. The Lake Pardee Recreation Company is negotiating for the release of trophy trout from Nebraska, but the date of their arrival has yet to be announced. The RV Park is scheduled to open between May and July, depending upon the pace of construction.
▪ NEW HOGAN
The lake has risen to 43% of capacity, and despite stained water from the Calaveras River watershed, shore fishermen are landing small striped bass and largemouth bass with live bait, cut bait, or vibrating lures. The launch ramp is in the water and putting a boat in the lake is easy.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 53.5-percent capacity. The kokanee bite for trollers in front of the dam slowed to sporadic, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 62.9-percent capacity. The lake still had 3 to 4 feet of ice and a couple feet of snow to auger through for ice fishing. Try the dam, behind the resort, and the spillway with worms, bay shrimp, and Kastmaster spoons for some nice rainbows and macks.
▪ CARSON RIVER (East)
The river was running at 500 cfs and in beautiful condition with 2 or 3 cars parked at the bridge daily, but no one was talking about the flyfishing. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters said the best one could expect was a fish or two on nymphs a couple miles below the bridge.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 64-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported shore anglers were picking up a rainbow or two off the point at Coot Bay on an inflated nightcrawler/marshmallow or Gulp! Eggs. There’s still 1 1/2 to 2 feet of snow on the Honker Cove boat ramp, so no launching yet.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 52-percent capacity. Trollers were still slamming 5- to 6-pound macks along the south side of the lake between China Cove and the west end on Humdinger and Needlefish spoons run 80 feet deep over 115 to 120 feet of water.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 37-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the east and west roads around the lake were now accessible. Shore anglers were catching rainbows at Lunker Point, Turkey Point, Big Cove, and the dam on worms, Kastmaster spoons, and flies. The boat dock should be installed at the Frenchman ramp by mid-April.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 77-percent capacity. The road to the lake was open but little fishing pressure was reported according to Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported one shore angler caught three 15- to 16-inch rainbows at the dam using nightcrawlers.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is full. Sly Park Resort reported an angler caught a 2 1/2-pound mack from the shore near the boat ramp using floating dough bait.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported little was happening here with the lake level dropping.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a great week of fishing with another 20 pounder topping the catches. Jeff Howden of Reno caught-and-released a 34-inch, 20 pounder at the North Nets. Taylor recorded three 14’s, a 12, and a 10—most were caught from shore at Pelican Point on flies. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported his one boat trip this past week produced 24 cutthroats for two clients in 4 hours trolling Apex at 20 feet deep at Warrior Point.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported the trout fishing was sporadic on weekends due to increased activity on the ice. The best bet was getting out during the week in the early morning.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 46.8-percent capacity. Ice fishing at the dam was sporadic at best.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
The lake is at about 50-percent capacity—up another 2 feet this past week. Ginger Buzzard at Topaz Lodge and Casino said it was a slow week with only 22 fish over 2 pounds weighed in for the derby making a total of 638 registered so far since Jan 1. Big fish of the week was a 3-pound, 6-ounce rainbow taken by Jose Lopez. Floating dough bait was working best for the shore anglers and Rapalas were preferred by the trollers. Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported bass fishing was good near the County Park ramp where 3- to 4-pound smallmouth bass were hitting crankbaits. The 12th Annual Ken Hembree Hook, Line & Sinker Fishing Tournament usually held at Pyramid Lake will be held April 9-10 out of the Topaz Lodge and Casino with a $65 entry.
▪ TRUCKEE RIVER
Mountain Hardware and Sports reported there was increased activity on the lower sections of the main river as spring conditions warmed the water. BWO, golden stones, and early March Browns were working.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 84-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported access was open to the ramp at the dam, but trolling for rainbows and macks was sporadic. The rainbows were on top and small macks were hitting dodger/herring at 50 to 80 feet deep.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER
The sturgeon bite went crazy in Suisun Bay over the past week with six-pack operators reporting multiple fish working the deep water near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. The water temperatures have increased in the chocolate water, and the bite should continue to be solid for the next several weeks with the flow of fresh water. The opening of the gates at Lake Oroville and the collapse of a cliff on the Yuba River will bring done more muddy water. Striper fishing will rebound once the water clears, and there are already reports of downstream linesides returning to the bay.
▪ SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Finding clear water remains the key to success for both largemouth and striped bass, and there have been some huge largemouth bass in excess of 10 pounds landed in the past week on a combination of techniques. Finding some moving water with a slow presentation on jigs or creature baits under mats are the top techniques. The activity level of the fish improves in the warmer waters in the afternoons, and the fish are oriented towards rocky structure for warmer water. Bluegill and perch are found from the shorelines along Eight Mile Road with jumbo red worms.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
The American River was down to 4,000 cfs at the Fair Oaks gauge on Sunday. Stripers were caught last week at Discovery Park on the Sacramento River, and more fish could move into the American any time.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
Fishing for bass continues to be good in the main body using small grubs, Senkos or tubes fished with light jigheads. The best fishing has been in 15 feet of water close to shore. Water clarity is best in the main body, with muddy water at the head of the North and South forks. Landlocked salmon and trout fishing is still slow, but expected to improve with the warming weather. The lake was at 436 feet on Sunday.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was stocked in mid-March with rainbow trout. This year’s trout derby will be held April 2-3.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
The far upper river was down to 2,300 cfs at the Delta gauge on Sunday, still too high for effective fishing but about half the level from a week ago. Anglers will begin fly fishing as the river drops, although a big snowpack on Mount Shasta may keep the river high all spring.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Trout fishing was wide open between Keswick Dam and Anderson over the weekend. Carp spawn-colored beads, roe, nightcrawlers and Glo-Bugs all are working. With higher flows, anglers are dragging baits behind them out of jet boats. The river was flowing at 7,520 cfs on Sunday at Keswick Dam, down from 20,000 cfs the week before. The river closes April 1 between Keswick Dam and the Highway 44 bridge to protect spawning winter-run king salmon.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Stripers have arrived, but high water has slowed the action. Expect fishing to improve as flows from the American, Feather and mainstem Sacramento are held back. Some crappie have been caught at Knight’s Landing and in the delta, so expect them to be staging to spawn in the lower river sloughs.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 84-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the flood gates were open and the lake level was rising much slower. Look for bass in the flooded trees and bushes, and on the flatter points. Mostly smaller fish were being caught along with a few lunker spots.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full and spilling. The lake was murky with a lot of floating debris, so boaters beware!! Bass fishing was good—one angler reported catching 32 bass—a mix of largemouths and spots.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. The Resort has plans to stock 3000 to 4000 pounds of rainbows each week during April. Trout fishing was excellent with lots of limits being caught mostly by shore anglers using floating dough bait. Trollers were doing better with the water clarity improving. Some bass were showing up in the shallows as the spawning season kicks into high gear.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is full and spilling. Skippers Cove Marina reported that their pen-reared rainbows, running 2 to 4 pounds, were being caught by trollers using flasher/worms in the mooring area and out by the dam.
▪ FULLER LAKE
The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 85-percent capacity—up 13.5 feet this past week despite the fact the flood gates were opened!! Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the bass were now spreading out into all the new real estate flooded by the rising water. Look for bass in 5 to 20 feet of water on south facing banks and coves where the water temp gets warmer on sunny days. Most bass were still smaller males up building beds and running 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 pounds—20 to 25 fish is a good day. Drop-shot and darthead worms and tubes were working well. If the worms are getting the tails bit off, the fish are just moving them off the beds—shorten up or switch to a tube. Jim Netzel at Tight Lines Guide Service reported there were lots of 8- to 12-inch king salmon plus a few bigger fish to 22 inches in front of the dam and near the buoy line hitting a dodger/Gulp! Minnow at 30 to 50 feet deep.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. Jim Caldwell at NID reported the lake was muddy and full of debris.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. Jim Caldwell at NID reported bass fishing was very good with lots of 2- to 3-pound smallmouths and largemouths to 6 1/2 pounds being caught on crankbaits at the dam.
▪ SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR
The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week.
▪ STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR
The lake is full. Try trolling at the inlet for browns and rainbows.
▪ THERMALITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 134.1-foot elevation at press time—82.6-percent capacity. At this water level, look for bass on the tule banks and in the flatter coves on gravel banks. Check the rock banks were the water temp can warm up. Inflows from Lake Oroville could be dropping the water temp and slowing the bite.
Berkeley Flats may have been a decent destination for halibut, however fishing was good enough in the South Bay that some Berkeley Boats including California Dawnand Happy Hooker ran south for halibut action off of Alameda Rock Wall or other proprietary spots. Berkeley Charter Boats fleet focused on crabs and did great. Perch fishers worked hard and enthusiastically because perch season in the Bay is closing from April 1 through July 31.
▪ BODEGA BAY
Surf fishing was much improved for barred surf perch, red tail perch and rainbow perch At Salmon Creek, Doran Beach and near Lawson’s Landing where jacksmelt were also prevalent and loading up Sabiki rigs. New Sea Angler is ready and anxious for salmon season to begin and meanwhile has been running half-day crab trips with steady limits for all.
Crabbing on New Huck Finn was rock steady and everyone went home with limits. Other Emeryville boats and crew are geared up and psyched up for the salmon opener and the landing is booking trips for the shiny fish.
Both jetties--north and south–fished well for kelp greenling, red tail perch and rainbow perch as well as occasional rockfish and cabezon. Many local folks, including WONField Reporter Lonnie Dollarhide will be running for salmon out of Shelter Cove on opening day of salmon fishing south of Horse Mountain.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Telstar skipper Capt. Randy Thornton has been metering plenty of finfish baits on his whalewatching trips, so hopes are high for good salmon action. Surf fishers did quite well on rockfish, cabezon and lingcod at Noyo Jetty, Old Mill, Mendocino Headlands and MacKerricher.
▪ HALF MOON BAY
Huli Cat made numerous runs for crabs, mostly off of Martins Beach and it generally took little time to pull full limits. Up the coast at Pacifica the pier fished pretty well for both striped bass and for crabs to 7 inches.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Lovely Martha made runs inside the Bay for stripers, halibut and also got leopard sharks. Wacky Jacky, Bass Tub and Argo are ready for their season to begin in earnest with the excitement generated by the salmon opener.