LAKE OROVILLE — The lake is at 40-percent capacity — only up 2 feet this past week. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was still very good for experienced anglers able to detect the very light bite — just weight, no tap! One trip produced 40-plus bass in 4 hours throwing spinnerbaits on windy banks, tubes and Keitech 3.8 swimbaits on calm banks. Boats can now get into Berry Creek and French Creek in the North Fork where the fish are bunched up in the incoming water. Steep walls hold fish from the shore to 40 feet deep. Try rocky banks and points, flats, and coves, too. Bass should begin staging for the spawn in the next few weeks. Gandolfi was also picking up a few coho salmon in the North Fork in the 3- to 5-pound range on white tubes near incoming water.
LAKE AMADOR – Large rainbows from the Mt. Lassen Trout Farm are coming from both the banks and by trollers over the past week, led by a 10.66-pounder taken by Travis Carpenter of Stockton on a silver spoon from the Spillway area. 1200 pounds from the trout farm were planted this past week. There is still the occasional holdover Donaldson trout remaining in the lake. Nearly 18,400 pounds of rainbows to 12 pounds have been released since October 2014. The annual Lake Amador Trout Derby lasts until March 1.
CAMANCHE LAKE— 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Trout Farm trout were released into the lake at the North Shore Launch Ramp this week with 1200 pounds scheduled to be split between the South Shore Launch Ramp and the South Shore Pond this week. Trollers are scoring with bright colored Rapalas in Hot Steel, brown trout, or blue/silver or white grubs at depths from 8 to 12 feet. Bank anglers are using Willy Biggly’s, nightcrawlers, or trout dough bait in the South Shore Pond.
PYRAMID LAKE—Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported only weighing in 6 double-digit fish this past week topped by two 16 pounders. Curtis Cuam of Westwood, CA caught a 16-pound, 1.6-ounce cutthroat casting a black fly from the shore at the North Nets. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported guiding one client for two days and they caught 14 cutthroats to 21 inches on Apex and FlatFish trolled 25 to 40 feet deep from Spider Point to Pelican.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
North Coast streams and rivers are regulated by low flow closures. Always call ahead to determine the condition of the river you want to fish. If not mentioned, the river is closed or no reports. The DFG’s Low Flow Closure Hotline for north coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For the Russian River and counties of Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin, call (707) 944-5533. South Central Coast streams number is (831) 649-2886. Many streams close, and others change to artificial/barbless only on, March 31 and others on April 25. Trouble identifying salmon or steelhead? Go to: http://www.swr.noaa.gov/fmd/identify.htm.
CHETCO RIVER, Ore.— The Chetco was low and clear at 700 cfs on Thursday, but over the weekend the river went to 20,500 cfs early Sunday morning during a major blowout from winter storms. Steelhead were lining up in waves in the lower river waiting for the river to rise before the rains. The bite was tough in the clear water before the storm, but after this inflow, the peak of the steelhead season will be on, and fishing will be the best of the year. Probably as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Call ahead.
EEL RIVER— Steelhead fishing was fair on the Eel last week before it blew out over the weekend. Humboldt County, however, received less rain than the Smith River area. Guide Dave Jacobs said he expected to be back on the South Fork Eel by mid week and mainstem Eel by the end of the week. Water levels were getting low just before the rain. Jacobs has been side-drifting roe. Guides have been catching up to half a dozen steelhead a day, fair fishing on the Eel.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.—Mid-week fishing for steelhead was good and getting better than what reports were a few short weeks ago, said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “Storms in the valleys upstream during the weekend had the river high and muddy by Monday, making fishing out of the question. The sand spit in the Rogue Bay has been moving and changing positions recently.
ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Ore.— It was a muddy river this week, not very fishable for another 3 or 4 days, according to Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grant’s Pass. The Applegate or Illinois rivers would be better bets, both are dropping and fishable. Try Cleos, bobbers & jigs, yarn balls, or heavy beads under a float. Anglers also can use bait such as nightcrawlers on the Applegate River, but bait is not allowed on the Illinois, he said.
RUSSIAN RIVER— Flows are stuck at about 600 cfs with 3 to 4 feet of visibility in cloudy, green water, according to Scott Heemstra of King’s Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. Steelhead numbers in the hatcheries have skyrocketed, and there’s still good movement of fish in the Guerneville area, he said. There’s already some spawned-out fish among the fresh steelies upstream of Cloverdale, but plenty more fresh fish on the move upstream.
SMITH RIVER—Rain hit the river on Friday and it went up 3 feet on Saturday and 6 feet on Sunday, bringing in more steelhead. Prior to that it had been low and clear with tough fishing, but steelies could be found in some spots. Steelheading is expected to be good for the next “couple of weeks”, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service.
UMPQUA RIVER, Roseburg, Ore.--The Steelhead fishing on the Umpqua River was “extremely good” last week, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “Big fish were being caught by people every day. Saturday rains blew out the river and it won't be fishable for this coming week.”
UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Ore.-- Bank anglers had been doing okay behind the Seven Feathers Casino fishing for steelhead last week. Water was to low for driftboat anglers to fare well at Stanton Park. Recent weather conditions have blown fishing conditions out for a few days, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets.
KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam – Flows from the dam were just under 1,000 cfs on Sunday. Pressure has been light on the upper river, with the few guides fishing enjoying good success for steelhead. Crawfish and Rapala plugs smeared with scent are taking steelhead, along with worms behind divers. Fly fishing has been good between I-5 and the mouth of the Scott River.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp – Rain caused flows to jump up to 1,400 cfs at Happy Camp on Sunday, but the river quickly crested and was dropping again. The river is green, but most of the steelhead are dark, according to guide Mario Gomez of Ironhead Guide Service. Near Orleans, Gomez got into some nice adult winter steelhead last week side drifting roe and yarn.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen – Heavy rain blew the Lower Klamath out over the weekend, as flows spiked from 7,000 cfs on Friday to more than 28,000 cfs on Sunday afternoon, when the river was still on the rise. Before the rain, large numbers of half pounders were being caught on the lower river, with some nice adults mixed in. The large group of adults in the lower river at the beginning of the month apparently shot upriver, and were likely somewhere between Orleans and Happy Camp, or headed to the Trinity.
TRINITY RIVER – Dirty water has limited success between the dam and Junction City, although some fish are being caught on plugs. From Junction City downriver fishing has been fair, with lots of halfpounders and some adults showing in the catch. Guides have been side drifting roe and Fish Pills or Puff Balls, or running plugs with scent below Junction City. The water color is much better below Junction City compared to the section from Indian Creek to the dam.
NORTH COAST LAKES
CLEAR LAKE—Not much has changed here. All of the launch ramps are open due to water that is now higher than it was at this time last year. The winter minnow bite has still not picked up because there is a ton of bait in the system for bass to feast on. But that bodes well for big, healthy fish come springtime. The best bet is to stick to the midlake section of the lake where the water is clearer. The better bites are coming anywhere between 4 and 25 feet of water on plastic worms and jerkbaits.
LAKE BERRYESSA—The bite got a lot tougher with a drop in water temperatures. Green pumpkin Senkos caught a few bass in 20 feet of water, as did 6-inch Roboworms in a monster shad pattern in 35 feet of water.
LAKE SONOMA—The lake continues to slowly rise with recent rains, but remains muddy. Bass anglers are having a difficult time catching bass with water temperatures in the 48- to 50-degree range. The best bet has been to find the cleanest water and fish jigs, brush hogs or worms in and around standing timber off points, ledges or creek channel edges in 25 to 35 feet.
LAKE ALMANOR—The ramps at Canyon Dam, the USFS at Almanor and Rec. 1 and 2 ramps are operational. Trolling the east basin has been the better bet. The east shore and south to Canyon Dam have the best clarity.
BAUM LAKE—With streams closed, this continues to be a good option with consistent fishing. This lake is always a good winter option with its hungry trout. With a hatchery next door, there are plenty of planted fish as well as a few wild ones here.
PIT RIVER—The Fly Shop suggests starting at Pit no. 3 and working your way down to Pit 4 and 5 since they may be more stained and have higher flows. All three have been good options though.
SHASTA LAKE—Fishing is good once you find the schools of baitfish so move around. All of the arms have bands in the middle of them with clearer water. Try Senkos in dark colors like green pumpkin, watermelon red flake for numbers and choose more crawdad than shad patterns. For larger bass, throw a 7-inch Osprey swimbait.
BERKELEY—Party boats were busy at the dock or in the boatyard doing annual maintenance. Pier and shore fishers caught mostly perch and a few striped bass. The perch were exceptionally impressive with some silver perch weighing in at over 3 pounds, according to George Lu at Bay Tackle in El Cerrito.
BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING—Red tail perch, rockfish and cabezon provided fun and dinner for surf fishers, both above town and below town. Crabs and sanddabs gave boaters something to do and the pros managed to get good numbers. At Lawson’s Landing, striped bass were massing up in the surf, as reported by surfers who observed them. An 18-pound lingcod was taken from the surf north of Jenner.
EMERYVILLE—Emeryville boats were quiet, leaving the action up to shore and skiff fishers. Shore fishers hammered big perch and slugged it out with a few striped bass, while boaters focused on the bass bite by trolling or drifting on moving tides.
EUREKA—Crabbing seemed better inside Humboldt Bay than outside. Some boats moved inside after trying outside. From the shore, people casting snares had good luck with both Dungeness and rock crab. The jetties produced exceptionally well, thanks to calm seas, which allowed people to work out farther on the jetties than usual at this time of year. Sardines and herring went on the bite off of King Salmon.
FORT BRAGG—Half-to-full limits of crabs were common for party boats including Telstar. Along the jetty, people tore into greenling, cabezon and rockfish. Surf fishers got generally larger cabezon and rockfish north of town.
HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA—Crabbing was quite good, with limits possible for party boats and private boats alike. Pier and shore fishers did well with snares both in Half Moon Bay and up the coast at Pacifica. Striped bass proved that they have no intentions of leaving. A number of fish were caught, including a 21 pounder.
SAN FRANCISCO—Argo fished San Pablo Bay 3 days with good results including limits of bass on 2 out of the 3 days. Ghost shrimp were good baits for sturgeon and anchovies were good for bass.
BOCA LAKE—The lake is at 16.5-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that warmer nights had melted the ice to the point where ice fishing was NO LONGER SAFE!!
CAPLES LAKE—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was 6 to 8 inches thick with little snow on the surface. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported his guide trips were scoring three or four 16- to 17-inch macks using bay shrimp off the face of the dam near the control house. Josh Otto of Kirkwood caught a 17-inch mack jigging a silver Kastmaster in 10 feet of water off the dam.
CARSON RIVER (East)—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported there was little ice along the shore of the river and even less fishing pressure. Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported fishing was slow on this river during the winter in the catch-and-release section.
DAVIS LAKE—The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported that warm nights had created marginal ice conditions on the lake and ice fishing was not recommended. Fishing had been slow before the ice began melting.
DONNER LAKE—The lake is at 38-percent capacity. Fishing for macks off the shore was slow for lure casters.
FRENCHMAN LAKE—The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported there was open water on the lake and ice fishing was not recommended. Shore fishing was good near the dam through open water and anglers were catching 1 1/4- to 2-pound rainbows on nightcrawler/marshmallow combos.
ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported fishing pressure in the Crystal Basin was nil. Heavy logging truck traffic was a problem throughout the area.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR—Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported fishing was slow.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)—Sly Park Resort reported shore anglers were picking up a few rainbows at the first dam on nightcrawlers and floating dough bait. Angel Rose Hammonds caught a 4-pound mack on a worm.
LAKE TAHOE—Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported an excellent mack bite on afternoon trips, but tougher fishing on morning trips. The macks were running 2 to 8 pounds and hitting spoons and Lucky Craft minnows at 190 to 250 feet deep. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing said he was doing well trolling for 2- to 6-pound macks off South Shore. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported one skipper was toplining macks to 11 pounds on rainbow trout Yo-Zuri lures on the way to deeper water where they were catching limits of 3 to 6 pounders mooching live bait at 150 to 200 feet deep off South Shore.
PROSSER LAKE—The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported that warmer nights had melted the ice and it was NOT SAFE for ice fishing!!
RED LAKE—The lake access was closed this past week for avalanche control, according to Victor Babbitt at TFFO.
SILVER LAKE—The lake is at 43-percent capacity. Ice fishing off the dam should be good using bay shrimp.
STAMPEDE RESERVOIR—The lake is at 24-percent capacity. The lake was accessible with no snow on the roads, but launching was 4-wheel drive only for small aluminum boats off the muddy shoreline. Trolling for macks might produce a fish or two in deep water.
TOPAZ LAKE—Trout fishing was good for shore anglers and small boaters launching off the shore.
TRUCKEE RIVER—The flows were down to 42 cfs in Glenshire and only 200 cfs below the Boca Outlet. Victor Babbitt at TFFO recommended the baetis and BWO hatches on overcast days below Reno as the best bet on the main river. The Little Truckee above Boca was fishing well, but bring long, fine tippets and you’re A-Game.
UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR—The lake is at 61-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser reported heavy logging traffic made this area a poor choice for fishermen.
WEST WALKER RIVER—Despite the excellent weather and good flows, Pam Hamic at the West Walker Motel reported there was no fishing pressure on the river.
DON PEDRO RESERVOIR — The lake has experienced several bass tournaments in the past three weeks, and although the action was slower during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament, kicker bass have been taken on rainbow trout patterned swimbaits such as Huddleston 68 Special ROF 12 in light trout on a slow presentation along the bottom. Numbers of bass are found by drop-shotting shad-patterned plastics on a shakey head or leadhead at depths from 25 to 65 feet. Trout fishing has improved from trollers using Excel spoons in firetiger or blue/silver near the surface on a long setback between 180 to 200 feet. Coating lures with Pro-Cure’s Carp Spit and using sideplaners will increase strikes. Flemings Meadow and Blue Oaks Launch Ramps are open, but there is still a 5 mph speed limit from the ramp at Blue Oaks Recreation Area to the Buoy Line at the mouth of Fleming Bay.
LAKE McCLURE--The lake remains extremely low, and the only access for boats is from the shoreline for small portable vessels such as kayaks or canoes. All launch ramps are currently closed. Few anglers are targeting the lake.
LAKE McSWAIN— The lake received 500 pounds from Calaveras Trout Farm this week. Bank fishing continued to be the best bet with orange power eggs near the Brush Pile or nightcrawlers at the Handicapped Docks. Trolling action continued to be minimal with only a few boat trailers in the parking lot over the weekend.
NEW HOGAN RESERVOIR —Striped bass fishing has been best with spoons jigged over channel edges or drifting live minnows while the best trolling is yet to come in the springtime. The courtesy dock is back in the water.
NEW MELONES RESERVOIR — Both bass and trout are targeting the abundant shad schools. Trout trollers are scoring with Rapalas or similar lures in shad or bright patterns on a long setback along the shoreline. Coating lures with Pro-Cure scents increases the opportunity for success. Larger rainbows and browns are either in the deep water under the shad schools or in the backs of creeks adjacent to submerged structure. The best numbers are near the Highway 49 Bridge with the best quality of rainbow near the dam. Shoreline fishermen are using trout dough bait or nightcrawlers off of the bottom along clear bank areas while similar baits under a bobber is best over submerged brush. Bass fishing for numbers is best with drop-shot plastics at depths from 25 to 65 feet with deep-diving ripbaits or jigs also effective.
LAKE PARDEE — Closed for the season until February 2015.
TULLOCH RESERVOIR — The prime time for trout fishing is now, and trolling near the surface with shad-patterned spoons or blade/’crawler combinations are producing numbers of small rainbows. Few fishermen have been targeting the lake despite the potential for solid action.
AMERICAN RIVER – Slow for steelhead, with low flows coming from Folsom Lake. “With Folsom Reservoir being so low it’s going to be another down year,” said guide J.D. Richey, who has switched his American River steelhead trips to Delta striper trips. Flows on the American were 921 cfs on Sunday.
FOLSOM LAKE –The water level was at 46 percent capacity Sunday. According to John Wadden of Will Fish Bait and Tackle, a few salmon are being caught near the dam, trolling 30 to 40 feet down. White or pink hoochies tipped with worms have been working best. Bass fishing in areas such as Dike 8 is fair for anglers throwing Senkos and other plastics. Watermelon seed has been a good color.
RANCHO SECO LAKE – The lake was recently stocked with rainbows, and fishing has been fair to good. Shore anglers are using nightcrawlers and Power Bait. Close to 20 anglers tried their luck Sunday morning, and more than half caught fish, with some topping 2 pounds. Registration is now open for the March 28-29 spring trout derby. Call (209) 748-2318 for information.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir – Fishing is fair for winter trout. Fly anglers are using size 8 rubber legs in black or brown. Fish to 20 inches have been caught. Flows were 700 cfs on Sunday. Rain over the weekend isn’t expected to have much impact on flows, which are good for this time of year.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff – Flows from Keswick Dam were 3,280 cfs on Sunday. The water is still muddy near Redding, but trout are being caught in the shallow riffles by fly anglers drifting beads or egg patterns. Orange and shrimp pink have worked best. Fishing has been best from mid-day, from around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the sun is on the water. Some guides are reporting 20-fish days, although overall fishing is fair at best. Muddy water in Shasta Lake is expected to keep the river dirty for at least the next few weeks.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa – Still early for stripers and sturgeon, but some fish are around. Guides have begun scouting, fishing the deeper holes for sturgeon with baits such as anchovies, sardines, pile worms and blood worms. Expect sturgeon fishing to improve into February. Good striper fishing is still more than a month away.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento – Some stripers are being caught by anglers jigging spoons near the Port of Sacramento in 14 to 35 feet of water. With foggy weather, opportunities to catch stripers extends through the day. Water conditions cleared last week. The spring striper fishing is still over a month away.
AMERICAN RIVER—The river was running clear and cold with little angling pressure.
BULLARDS BAR—The lake is at 51-percent capacity. 14 boats from the Paradise Bass Club held a tournament here and the winners weighed 34 pounds including 9 1/2 and 8 pounders—second place had 14 pounds and half the boats got skunked. Obviously the bite was hit-or-miss and the winners weren’t talking!!
CAMP FAR WEST—The Elk Grove Bass Club fielded an 18 boat tournament here and they found fishing very slow. The club reported only catching a few small fish in cold, murky water.
COLLINS LAKE—The lake is 31 feet from full. Shelley Groce reported fishing was hit-or-miss with cold water temps slowing the trout bite. Jaceson Smith of Natomas caught a 4-pound rainbow at the dam using worms. Elaine Briefman caught a 3 1/4-pound trout near the launch ramp on orange floating dough bait, and Eric Liske picked up a 3 3/4 pounder on white dough bait from the shore. James Morehead of Vacaville weighed in a 10 1/4-pound catfish on Sunday that he caught while fishing from the shore.
ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR—The lake is at 91-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported one boater caught two 15-inch rainbows trolling flasher/worms from Keystone Cove to Long’s Cove. Another boater ran up to the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork Yuba and landed an 18-inch trout on floating dough bait.
ROLLINS LAKE—The lake is at 88.7-percent capacity. Caden Caldwell at NID reported bass fishing was good. On Thursday, one angler landed six bass from 12 to 18 inches on worms and jigs. Another angler reported catching a 16-pound catfish in Long Ravine.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE—The lake is at 60-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported a few rainbows were caught by trollers using flasher/worms near the dam and Cascade Shore.
SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR—The Foresthill Ranger Station reports the lake was accessible, but with no trout plants since last summer the fishing was slow at best.
THERMOLITO AFTERBAY—The lake was at the 134.5-foot elevation at press time—85-percent capacity. Only one weekend left in the duck season and then the fishermen can have the lake back. The warmer weather should have the fish back in the shallower coves looking for warmer water.
SACRAMENTO RIVER side—Larger tides brought on the sturgeon bite in lower Suisun Bay with the best action in the shallows on the outgoing tide. Numbers of shaker sturgeon are holding near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. Eel or grass shrimp/eel combinations have been the top baits for sturgeon. The next two weekends will feature sturgeon derbies out of Martinez Marina and McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point. Striped bass fishing has been slow in the cold water, but a few quality fish are found in the north Delta on spoons or swimbaits. Bait reservations for the upcoming sturgeon derbies are an absolute must to secure a supply.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side— Pockets of clear water are available for those willing to hunt around, and stripers can be taken on spoons or swimbaits when water clarity is located. A slow presentation is necessary for largemouth bass success with plastics, squarebill crankbaits, or shallow-diving ripbaits working. Smell and vibration is a key to success for both species of fish. Bluegill have gone deep, but a few panfish are taken on jumbo red worms or minicrawlers. Water hyacinth remains a plague in the main San Joaquin River and also in the back sloughs.
– Western Outdoor News
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