Fishing Line

Big salmon moving through Delta, up the Sacramento, into coastal rivers

It’s the season of the king, with large numbers of salmon moving into Northern California waters. Anglers are taking notice.
It’s the season of the king, with large numbers of salmon moving into Northern California waters. Anglers are taking notice. Fresno Bee

Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Sept. 19, 2016.


SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa

Salmon fishing is fair near Verona, where anglers are trolling Blue Fox spinners, Flying Cs and Silvertron spiners, or M2 FlatFish or K14 Kwikfish. Fishing for catfish is best at First and Second Beach at Knight’s Landing, as well as behind the wing dams at Verona. Chicken liver, pile worms and salmon roe are working well. Night fishing has been best.


Kings are being caught near Miller Park, Freeport and Garcia Bend on jigs as well as M2 FlatFish or K14 Kwikfish with sardine wraps. Flying C spinners and Silvertron spinners also are tricking some salmon.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff

Flows Sunday at Keswick Dam remained at 9,050 cfs. Salmon fishing improved last week at the Barge Hole, where anglers and guides are now averaging a fish per rod. Roe is out-producing plugs. Anglers are back-bouncing roe with 10-ounce weights at the Barge Hole. Trout fishing has been very good from Redding to Anderson. Roe and crickets are working for bait fishermen, while fly anglers are enjoying afternoon hatches.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa

Salmon fishing improved along the entire Red Bluff to Colusa stretch last week, with good numbers of fish caught near Red Bluff and Hamilton City. Anglers are drifting roe and also back-trolling T55 FlatFish with sardine wraps. Guides said they expect action to steadily improve into early October.


Salmon are finally moving in with force and tossing heavy spinners off of the shorelines at Dillon Point State Park, Courtland, and Freeport are the top locations. The fish are big and bright for the first time in a few years. Trolling green Silvertrons above the Rio Vista Bridge into the Old Sacramento River to Walnut Grove has become productive as well. Huge stripers are being caught and kept by the McAvoy regulars at Garnet Point or the Firing Line on live splittail, jack smelt, or mudsuckers as the wind has backed off. The Rio Vista area remains loaded with small stripers, and trollers are working hard to locate keeper fish in Broad Slough and along Decker Island. The schools are moving rapidly. Liberty Island is also home to numerous shakers with live bait or swimbaits. Smallmouth continue to hold in Steamboat and Miner Sloughs with deep-diving crankbaits or plastics on the drop-shot.


Miniscule striped bass are kegging up in the main San Joaquin River from the mouth of the Mokelumne to above Light 57, and once the school has been located, P-Line Laser Minnows are working on every drop for the 8- to 13-inch linesides. Limits of legal fish over 18 inches are the rule, but you have to go through numerous undersized fish to fill out a limit. Pinching the barbs or switching to a Siwash hook is advised to minimize damage to the small stripers. The largemouth bass bite is changing with the big swing in night to day temperatures, but crankbaits in crawdad patterns such as the ima Pinjack on 8-lb. test along the edges of the weedlines are one of the best techniques as well as flipping the Havoc Pit Boss in orange/black known as the Vampire. Bluegill continue to be good in Whiskey Slough or off of Bacon Island Road with red worms. Antioch-area bait shops have obtained grass shrimp for the first time in months. Fresh shad continues to be available in Stockton-area bait shops.


CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Ore.

Several dozen salmon were caught last week along the jetties in the Chetco estuary, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The early start to the season typically indicates a big run on the Chetco. Trolling anchovies and herring is working best. The tidewater section of the Chetco is slow because of low, clear water.

COOS RIVER, Coos Bay, Ore.

Salmon fishing is fair to good in the upper bay and lower Coos River, where guides are reporting three to six kings a day. The salmon are larger than normal this year, with many fish topping 20 pounds. Salmon fishing should remain good until a big rain draws them to the hatchery.


Salmon fishing has been good on the outgoing tide between Bear Creek and Rocky Point, and between Rocky Point and the Highway 101 bridge during the incoming tide. Herring trolled behind Fish Flash flashers is working best.

ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.

After a couple of slow weeks, salmon fishing is once again good in the Rogue Bay, where big numbers of fresh fish arrived last week. Trolling anchovies is working best. Salmon also are being caught upriver near Agness on roe.

ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass

Salmon fishing has slowed in this area, but anglers are picking up a few on drifted roe with or without sand shrimp attached. Best action has been in the Whitehorse and Finley Bend areas. Anglers are also picking up some steelhead on Wee Wigglers and other lures in the Grants Pass area.


Smallmouth bass fishing has kicked into gear with the cooler weather as the fish pack on the grub for winter. Fly guys are using sink tips on floating line with streamers, woolly buggers, zonkers, clousers or sculpin, according to Scott Heemstra from Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. He suggested using Senkos, baby brush hogs or spinners for the gear anglers. The Russian River begins low flow restrictions on Oct. 1, so call ahead at 707-944-5533.


Some salmon are being caught near the mouth of the river on spoons and spinners. Salmon also have been reported at the Bailey Hole and Bob Jake Hole, but low, clear water is limiting success. Low-flow regulations go into effect Oct. 1. The low-flow hotline is 707-822-3164.

UMPQUA RIVER, Reedsport, Ore.

Fishing for king salmon has slowed, but big numbers of coho salmon are now in the lower river. Only hatchery coho may be kept.


KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook – The first fall king salmon of the season arrived at Iron Gate Hatchery last week. Salmon fishing is still slow in the upper river, typical for this time of year. Fishable numbers of kings usually arrive by the last week of September, but the run could be delayed this year because of the sand spit at the mouth of the Klamath. Flows Sunday were 1,050 cfs at Iron Gate Dam. Trout fishing is good.


Salmon are spread throughout the Happy Camp area, but big numbers of fish are yet to arrive. Guide Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service observed a dozen fish scattered in the section he drifted last week. Flows Sunday at Seiad Valley were 1,150 cfs. Flows at Orleans were 1,550 cfs. Back-bouncing roe usually works best for early season kings.


The 555-fish adult king salmon quota has been filled for the lower Klamath below Highway 96. Anglers can still keep two jack salmon less than 22 inches a day, but fishing for jacks continues to be poor. Very few adult kings, which now must be released, are being caught. Halfpounder steelhead are now plentiful in the lower river riffles and are biting roe. Flows over the weekend at Terwer near the mouth were 2,810 cfs. The water temperature is 66 degrees.


Fresh salmon arrived last week on the lower Trinity. Anglers are catching them on roe. Upriver, with flows of 1,040 cfs at Lewiston, conditions are poor for bank angling, but boaters are catching fish on roe, tuna balls and plugs. Expect bigger numbers of both kings and steelhead this week. Some of the fly fishing guides are now catching steelhead on the upper river.



The early morning bass bite is good on plastics, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Largemouth to 5 pounds and smallies and spots to around 3 pounds are being caught at the south end and around the Big Island.


Fishing has been slow with few anglers going out.


Art Cerini at the Narrows Resort said trout fishing has been slow, and DFG is not planting trout at this time. Bass fishing, however has been fair to good on plastic worms.


Some bass into the 8-pound range are being caught in most shoreline areas of the lake.


There’s good action for smallmouth bass, plus a few largemouths, on topwater poppers or Gunfish in shad patterns.


A few trout were caught last week, but not much other action is reported, with Lake Pillsbury Resort basically shut down for the winter, except for some hunting in the area.


Bass fishing is good. Jigs fished slow in and around standing timber is a great bet when targeting larger fish. Another good technique this time of year is chasing schooling bass feeding on shad.



Some pretty good fishing is on tap with 3- to 5-pound rainbows and browns being caught on slow-trolled soft plastics and a faster troll of Flash King spoons 35 to 50 feet deep along the east shoreline, said guide Bryan Roccucci at Big Daddy’s Guide Service.


Fishing is fair for kokanee in the dam area on live nightcrawlers, but the trout fishing has been slow. Trolling has produced fair action for the kokanee in 25 to 30 feet of water.


Fishing has been inconsistent here, with a few nice Eagle Lake trout in the 4- and 5-pound class, but not much else. Most of the fish are being taken on trolled flies.


Fly fishing for trout is fair in the mornings and evenings.


Fly fishermen continue to score on rainbows to 12 inches, and bait anglers are scoring on planter ‘bow and brookies.


Good numbers of rainbow trout are being taken on 1/8-ounce Kastmasters and rainbow colored Power Baits. Only a few kokanee were seen last week.


Find areas where the bass are chasing shad and get good action on fish to 5 pounds. Crankbaits and plastic worms work well for action on 2- and 3-pound bass in the shallows and down to about 20 feet, while spoons produce action at about the 50-foot depth.


Smallmouth bass continue to produce fair action on plastic worms and grubs.


The kokanee bite remains good near the 299 bridge area, with anglers trolling Hula Hoochies behind flasher blades.



At the current time, bass and catfish are the top species. The Tackle Box Café will be closed for vacation until Oct. 22 when Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows are anticipated to be released into the lake. Trout plants are anticipated by the end of October, and Mt. Lassen Hatchery will again be the provider.


More fishermen are heading to the lake with the end of the recreational boat season, and despite the recent hot weather, trout can be found near the dam in the deepest part of the lake with Speedy Shiners or similar spoons on a fast troll. The rainbows are holding over from the heavy plants during the winter/spring, and they have dropped in the water column from 40 to 100 feet. Bass action is found throughout the lake, and numbers are good for small fish with jigs or Senkos in crawdad patterns. Catfish are the most consistent species at the lake with chicken livers or nightcrawlers. Crappie are scarce. The lake remains high at 71% of capacity.


The fishing action should break out during the fall as the weather finally cools. There have been a number of thefts occurring within the houseboats and the campsites within the past week, and the Tuolumne County Sheriffs arrested a suspect with property stolen from the campsites at Moccasin along with a jetski taken from a houseboat. Visitors are advised to secure vehicles and valuables and keep a watch for suspicious activity. Reports can be made directly to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department at 209-533-5815, and the Don Pedro Recreation Agency at 209-852-2396, providing suspect descriptions, vehicle and vessel descriptions, plate numbers and vessel CF numbers,


Trout action has been slow with the last plant occurring a month ago along with the effect of the recent full moon. The annual Merced Irrigation District’s Trout Derby is scheduled for October, and the reservoir will be planted before the derby.


Striped bass and largemouth bass continue to chase shad on the surface of the lake with the hot weather temperatures, and small to medium white flukes are working for stripers to 7 pounds. Moving slowly towards the boils is essential as the fish will go down quickly. The lake is at 27% of capacity.


Catfish are the top species at the lake with a variety of cut baits, chicken livers or nightcrawlers. Kokanee are all but finished for the season as they are preparing for a spawn up the river arm. Cooler weather will bring out the opportunity for rainbow trout, but the lake will be closing until February 2017 on Nov. 6.


Bank fishermen find good opportunities for catfish at depths to 25 feet with live minnows, frozen shad, anchovies, mackerel, or sardines as the Melones whiskerfish seem to prefer fish baits. Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp will be holding a Catfish Derby starting Nov.1 through Nov. 30 with a 100% payback for the top three places. Trout trolling is slow, but there is a possibility of a quality rainbow over 3 pounds with shad-patterned spoons. Kokanee are running up the river arm. Crappie fishing has slowed. Night fishing under lights with live minnows, nightcrawlers, or small spoons is the best option for rainbow trout or crappie. The bass are suspended, holding on the shad school. The Glory Hole launch ramp is on the dirt, but the courtesy dock will remain in the water.



Upper Blue Lake and Lower Blue Lake were stocked by the DFW this past week.


The lake is at 26.6-percent capacity. With the boat ramp out of the water and launching off the bank through the mud a definite problem, there was very little happening here. Shore anglers were fishing for trout off the dam or at the inlet.


The lake is at 67.3-percent capacity and was stocked by the DFW this past week. Caples Lake Resort reported the DFW fish were only 6 inchers - mack and brown trout food. Fishing was still best for shore anglers at the dam.


Alpine County stocked 1800 pounds of rainbows in the East Carson this past week and another 1800 pounds in Alpine Lake. Everyone was catching limits of rainbows on salmon eggs, worms, and spinners. Flyfishing was good in the evenings.


The lake is at 57-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard Guided Fishing reported trolling was much improved this past week. One boat trolled cinnamon or rust orange woolly buggers at 1 to 4 feet deep in the early morning and 18 to 20 feet deep later in the day between the island and Honker Cove and caught 2 limits of trout in 5 hours. The fish were mostly 14 to 15 inchers with a couple 20-inch rainbows thrown in for good measure.


The lake is at 46-percent capacity and was stocked by the DFW this past week. James Netzel at Tight Lines Guide Service did well for clients catching limits of 11- to 13-inch kokanee at China Cove using RMT dodgers and orange RGT at 25 to 50 feet deep.


Mike Hanson at Caribou Crossroads Resort reported the East Branch and Caribou Powerhouse Reservoir were producing some nice rainbows for experienced anglers.


The lake is at 33-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported one troller caught nine or ten 12- to 14-inch rainbows on copper/redhead Dick Nite spoons at 12 to 15 feet deep. Shore anglers were catching fish at Turkey Point and the dam on nightcrawlers.


Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported a couple 5-pound brown trout were caught at Gold Lake this past week. One was caught off the boat dock at the ramp on a nightcrawler; the other trolling a brown trout Rapala close to the shoreline. Fishing on all the other Basin lakes was slow.


The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Plenty of fish here with recent DFW plants and another plant planned for next week after Sept. 25. Dale Daneman recommended trolling a dodger/grub or threaded nightcrawler for rainbows on the upper end of the lake in the top 20 feet.


With the heavy Alpine County plant in the East Carson this past week, fishing pressure here was zilch.


The lake is at 63.4-percent capacity. Not much to report from here, but the bite should be improving with the colder nights dropping the water temp and triggering the fall feeding frenzy.


The lake is at 83-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported slow fishing this past week. The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant next week after Sept. 25.


Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported he was catching limits of 3- to 7-pound macks in the early morning along North Shore in 140 to 420 feet of water following the mysis shrimp deeper as the sun rises higher in the sky. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported he was catching limits of macks at South Shore trolling Storm ThunderStiks or jigging Williamson jigs tipped with a minnow at Tahoe City at 140 to 170 feet deep in the first 2 hours of the morning. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported the fleet was primarily chasing 3- to 5-pound macks at Ski Run, Rubicon, and Sugar Pine mooching live minnows on the bottom in 140 to 180 feet of water. Kokanee trolling was hit or miss, 15 to 25 fish one day and 7 the next, trolling flasher/Wedding Rings at 100 to 125 feet deep at Camp Rich.


The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Some limits of rainbows were being caught trolling dodger/nightcrawlers in the top 20 feet. The bite should only get better as colder nights drop the water temp.


The lake is at 49.3-percent capacity. With the lake so low and no DFW trout plant since last year, the best bet was smallmouth bass fishing off the dam and nearby rocky banks and points and even that bite was very slow.


Try for cutthroats at the dam using worms and salmon eggs.


The lake is at 64.2-percent capacity and was stocked by the DFW this past week. If the DFW stocked 6-inch rainbows here like they did at Caples Lake, the Mackinaw were happy, happy, happy.


The lake is at 38-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported there was 5 feet of concrete left in the water and the end of the ramp had been graveled in so boats could still launch without dropping off the concrete. The kokanee were turning and fishing was tough.


The lake dropped from 45-percent capacity to 17-percent capacity in just 2 weeks, according to Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina. Fishing was very slow with the hot daytime weather this past week. The trout season on the lake closes on Sept. 30 and reopens Jan. 1, 2017.


Donner Lake was releasing 125 cfs and flows below the Boca Outlet were running 235 cfs. Flyfishing was good from Donner Creek to Stateline with the best action below Prosser Creek from Glenshire to Stateline. With the lower flows, the fish were more accessible and fishing was good with some nice 18- to 20-inch browns showing on golden stones with a size 16 or 18 caddis pupa or PMD dropper, or a craw pattern since the crawdads were molting and very vulnerable.


The lake is at 69-percent capacity. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service reported trout trolling was decent for good numbers of the larger SMUD planters coming from Mt. Lassen Trout Farms - rainbows to 16 inches. Dodgers and grubs or nightcrawlers at 25 to 35 feet deep were working. The kokanee bite was slow to nil


The Little Walker and the West Walker at Pickel Meadows and the canyon were stocked by the DFW this past week. The Northern Mono County Chamber of Commerce stocked 400 pounds of 1- to 1 1/2-pound rainbows in the West Walker this past week. Sam Foster at the Toiyabe Motel reported trout fishing was excellent with flyfishermen catching-and-releasing 50 fish per day. Bait and lure fishermen were catching lots of the beautiful Chamber of Commerce fish in the canyon.



Fresh kings were being caught over the weekend at Hazel Avenue. Some kings also have been reported at the hatchery. Drifting beads has been producing most of the catches.


Boyd’s Pump has been good for fresh kings. Anglers are downstream trolling Blue Fox spinners. Some fish also are being caught on FlatFish. Big numbers of salmon have been reported at the Outlet Hole. The Feather continues to outfish the Sacramento River for salmon.


The lake dropped 2 feet last week, from 393 feet to 391 feet. The Hobie Cove ramp at Brown’s Ravine and Granite Bay’s low water ramp are open. The Folsom Point, Rattlesnake and Peninsula ramps are closed. The lake now has a 5 mph speed limit. The water temperature was 76 degrees on Sunday. Trout and landlocked salmon fishing has slowed, mainly because of the drop in effort. Bass anglers are fishing suspended fish on the offshore rockpiles, 25 to 35 feet down. Drop-shot rigs with 3-inch plastics are working best.


Flows held steady last week at 196 cfs at the Delta gauge. Bait anglers are doing well for planted rainbows around Dunsmuir, where small spinners such as Rooster Tails also are working well. The river has been planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.



The flows were still good in all the forks. Anglers willing to hike down to the North Fork above Foresthill should find plenty of rainbows in the deeper pools at Italian Bar. The Middle Fork below French Meadows and Rock-a-Chucky should be good.


The lake is at 68-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported bass fishing was good for smaller fish on the points and around the marina docks. Bigger spots were feeding on kokanee in deep water.


The lake was at 25- to 30-percent capacity with the concrete ramp out of the water. Boats were able to launch on the gravel and rock bank below the ramp with 2-wheel drive vehicles. Bass fishing was improving with the drop in recreational boat activity and lower water temps.


The lake is 26 feet from full. Catfish were still the top catch this past week with cats to 8 pounds hitting the scales at Collins Lake Resort. The fall trout planting program will start in mid-October with weekly plants until Thanksgiving.


The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported trout fishing was slow but bass fishing was productive.


The lake is at 70.9-percent capacity. The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the campgrounds were open. No fishing reports were available from the USFS.


The lake is at 51.8-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported the water level was down to the end of the concrete and only small boats could launch on the gravel and rock below the ramp. With very light fishing pressure on the lake, no reports were available to USFS staff.


The lake is at 48-percent capacity - down only 6 feet this past week. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported fishing was “quite good” with bass to 3 pounds hitting topwater lures, spinnerbaits, lipless cranks, drop-shot and darthead worms, and tubes on steep walls and points.


The lake is at 78.9-percent capacity with the lake dropping a foot or more each day. Ryan Drake at NID reported launching was good at Long Ravine and Orchard Springs, but Peninsula Resort was closing for the season. Bass were chasing bait on the surface all day and topwater lures were catching lots of fish. One angler caught a 5-pound spot near the Greenhorn Resort across from Peninsula Resort. Trout fishing was slow.


The lake is at 76.2-percent capacity. The lake level was dropping. Bass fishing was still good for 2- to 3-pound smallmouths, but trout fishing was slow.


The campgrounds were open and fishing was slow, according to the Foresthill Ranger Station. The DFW is scheduled to stock the lake next week after September 25.


The lake is at 73-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported the campgrounds and launch ramp were open, but there was little fishing pressure. Trout were still holding in deep water at 35 to 40 feet deep.


The lake was at the 135-foot elevation at press time - 88.9-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported bass fishing was good for mostly 1 1/2-pound bass with a few to 5 pounds using Senkos and Trick Worms worked along the outside edges of the weed beds and green tules. Early morning water temps were too cold, so wait until afternoon when the water has a chance to warm up.



Salmon fishing was up and down but generally quite worthwhile. New Easy Rider and El Dorado had twin 25-pound salmon come aboard. The Marin Coast was also very good for rockfish with very high counts and big lingcod coming aboard Happy Hooker. An angler aboard California Dawn hammered a flattie that went 27 pounds.


Salmon trips were productive with high counts of nice fish to 27 pounds aboard New Sea Angler which also made combo runs to add lingcod and rockfish from any of the productive spots from Salt Point to Point Reyes. Halibut numbers picked up in Tomales Bay and leopard sharks joined them. Lawson’s Landing area beaches gave up surf perch and a few striped bass.


Sundance concentrated on salmon and pulled in some nice fat shiny fish. Tigerfish ran comb trips to also get some rockfish. Bottomfishing trips were run on New Huck Finn, Sea Wolf, C Gull II, New Salmon Queen and Wet Spot. Crab combo trips begin in November and the first couple of weekends are booked.


Pacific halibut season is winding down is fine fashion with fish to 65.5 pounds coming over the rails and limits taken early on Reel Steel and other boats. Inside Humboldt Bay, California halibut extended their hungry season, still eating live anchovies. Cape Mendocino was reachable on certain days and hosted epic battles with “lingasaur” and rockfish.


Salmon fishing was mediocre with private boats doing much of the scouting and catching. Party boats, led by Telstar focused on lingcod up off of Westport and down off of Mendocino, finding the bite to be generally excellent but affected by changes in current direction and velocity.


Salmon returned to Pillar Point Harbor and raised a ruckus of excitement among people going out on skiffs and kayaks to fish near the harbor entrance and inside the Harbor to hook salmon. Party boat action was prolific down the coast where solid counts of rockfish and lingcod came fairly easy and from shallow water. Huli Cat is back in action, with brand new engines.


Salmon boats hauled shiny fish over their rails at varying rates from one day to the next. Wacky Jacky put 2 fish on the whoppers list and caught plenty more to lead the local fleet. Lovely Martha put salmon to 26 pound aboard and Nautilus fished Duxbury for salmon to 27 pounds.

- Western Outdoor News