The salmon are jumping up the fish hatchery ladder
Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Dec. 12, 2016.
1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows arrived this week, bringing the total plants to 9750 pounds this season. The lake is coming up steadily, and it rose 2 feet over the weekend. Most of the rainbows are shallow, but some as deep as 25 feet taken in the past week. Trout dough bait, Power Eggs, Mice Tails, Rapalas, and Kastmasters are most effective, and the best action continues along the shorelines near the dam and the Boat House Docks. Trout plants every week during December. The annual Tagged Trout Derby continues until March 19, 2017, and several tagged fish have been landed.
Trout plants continue with 750 pounds apiece at the South Shore Pond and South Shore launch ramps this week. Bass fishing has been great, with Nick Smith and Matthew Frazier for a limit of spotted bass weighing a lake record 26.76 pounds in 8 to 20 feet of water. Crappie are showing up around the dam at depths to 55 feet with trolled lures, small spoons, or mini-jigs. The café is open at North Shore, and there is also gasoline available on the water at the docks. The lake rose slightly to 68 percent.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
Sturgeon have taken over the top spot in the Sacramento-Delta, and the diamondbacks have been found from Suisun Bay to Freeport with lamprey eel, salmon roe, eel/nightcrawler combinations, eel/pile worm combinations, and ghost shrimp. The tides are solid for the week with an improved outgoing tide. The striped bass are moving towards clearer water in the Port of Sacramento or in the San Joaquin River. Live mudsuckers or cut baits coated with scent are working best in the north Delta with the reaction bite slowed due to cold and muddy water. Crappie are found in Shad Slough with small minnows or red worms on the drop-shot.
DELTA REGION: San Joaquin River
The striper schools have dissipated in the San Joaquin system. The key is to slow down your presentation since the fish do not want to chase in the cold water. For plug casters, it is very important to pause your retrieve with ripbaits or topwater lures. Largemouth bass can be taken on ripbaits, and some are using the ima Flit 120 on a very slow retrieve. Match the lethargic movement of the bait fish. Sea lions are thick on the San Joaquin from False River to the Stockton Turning Basin, thrashing striped bass and salmon on the surface. Small stripers are the rule off of the bank from access areas near Stockton with chicken livers, anchovies, or frozen shad. Crappie and red ear perch are showing up in the sloughs with jumbo red worms or small minnows. Fresh shad is very limited at the present time, but most bait shops have a healthy supply of frozen shad.
Lake levels rose 15 feet in one week, to 427 feet on Sunday, up from 412 feet the previous week. The lake is muddy and full of debris, making fishing slow. The 5 mph speed limit has been lifted. The Hobie Cove ramp at Brown’s Ravine, Folsom Point and Granite Bay’s low water ramp are open. The Rattlesnake and Peninsula ramps are closed.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
The river blew out again over the weekend, but anglers are hoping for a break this week to see what’s in store for steeheaders. A few steelies were caught by plunkers last week, said WON Staffer Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, and the guides are getting a few. The river should be prime for steelhead this month.
ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk blew out on Saturday after unexpectedly heavy rain, but was down to 5.3 feet on Sunday morning. It is expected to be in prime shape for much of this week. The Elk fishes best between 4 and 5 feet, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Some late salmon are still being caught, while the first steelhead of the season should show up anytime. Most guides will switch over to side-drifting, which will catch salmon and steelhead.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The lower Rogue blew out, hitting 21,000 cfs at the Agness gauge Saturday night. It was down to 19,000 cfs on Sunday, but still too high for even plunking. Steelhead fishing was slow before it blew out, but with good conditions expected this weekend, the first steelhead of the season could making a showing. In high water, anglers will be fishing from shore, plunking Spin-N-Glos tipped with roe.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Oregon
Fishing was slow this past week with high water conditions, but the river appears to be dropping and should be fishable later this week, said Troy Whitaker, guide at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. Some winter fish are being taken now in the Rand area and should be moving on upriver soon. Some steelhead are being caught locally, he said, and anglers should be trying K-9 or K-11 plugs, or Map Lip 3.0 plugs. He also suggests trying side-drifting roe or yarn balls soaked in Pautzke’s Nectar, or back-trolling plugs.
Currently the river is at 17 feet or 10,000 cfs. Before the rain the river was in prime shape, but not much activity for steelhead, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle. With the current river being high and muddy and with more rain predicted this week, it might be a while before the river is fishing again. If you are itching to get out, take a giant Spin-&-Glo, a big chunk of cured roe, a heavy weight and plunk the inside bends like Johnsons Beach or Monte Rio Beach. Don't cast too far out, as these fish will be moving in 2 to 3 feet of water.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
A few salmon were still being caught last week before the river blew out over the weekend. It was high and muddy on Sunday and not expected to fish until the middle of the week. Expect some salmon in the stretch from Edson Creek to the Grange when it drops back into shape. The Sixes has one of the latest salmon runs on the coast.
The river blew out over the weeked, but should be in perfect shape for steelhead all week long. It crested at nearly 40,000 cfs on Saturday, but should be in ideal conditions for steelhead on Monday and all week, said WON Staff Writer Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Last week was slow fishing for salmon and steelhead, and salmon are pretty much over, while steelies have just begun. If fishing, cover lots of water to find a pod of steelies. WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said there were very few anglers, even plunkers. “I am hoping that we see our first run of steelhead hit this week,” he said.
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
The upper section of the Klamath remained fishable over the weekend, with flows from Iron Gate Dam holding steady at 1,010 cfs. Steelhead fishing has been good between Iron Gate and Interstate 5, with fish between 1 and 7 pounds being caught on small plugs as well as roe or nightcrawlers fished behind divers.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Heavy rain and melting snow caused the middle section of the Klamath to blow out. Flows hit 5,000 cfs near Seiad Valley and visibility was poor. The river could be back in shape by the weekend. Expect fresh winter-run steelhead to show up.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath hit 60,000 cfs on Sunday, but was down to 48,000 cfs Sunday evening. The river is high and muddy and is expected to be blown out all week.
Heavy rain combined with snowmelt blew out the Trinity from top to bottom over the weekend, but the river was coming back into shape on Sunday. Flows Sundayat Lewiston Dam remained steady at 312 cfs, but flows at Douglas City were 784 cfs and at Junction City were 1,160 cfs. Cedar Flat had flows of 4,060 cfs, while flows hit 19,000 cfs. Steelhead fishing has been slow, but some fish are being caught on Mag Lip 3.5 plugs, as well as roe or nightcrawlers.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Trout and bass fishing is slow to fair, but few anglers were on the water last week with bad weather prevailing.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Very few anglers were out this week and only caught a few small largemouth bass.
Only a few anglers out all week with very cold, rainy weather, said Art Cerini at The Narrows Resort. Don Patten of Scotts Valley and 96-year-old Bob Anton of Lakeport fished two days in a row and caught limits of trout on both days. They were catching fish while trolling with flashers and worms. The trout they caught were found at depths of 10 to 12 feet.
Cold, rainy weather all week kept most anglers away. The few who were out caught mostly small bass. Weather has been in the low 30’s.
Fishing remains slow with few anglers out to bad weather.
The creeks were pumping in muddy water but most bass anglers found success in the cleaner water. Trout trollers continue to see action top-lining their shad offerings for fish in the 14- to 20-inch range. Keying on the east shoreline up to the no-ski bouys on the main lake is the best bet.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
Fishing pressure on Almanor has been light. Rain, wind, ice and snow have all played a part in deterring all but the hardcore fishermen. A few anglers have been out, catching fish from shore in Geritol Cove and roadside between storms. Wiggle Tails & woolly buggers in green and rust colors produced rainbows to 3 pounds.
Fishing is fair for fly fishermen braving the bad weather.
Marina closed for the winter.
Few anglers out due to cold rains and snow conditions.
FALL RIVER, HAT CREEK
Marina is only open Wednesday through Sunday, and fishing has been slow with few anglers out.
Trout fishing remains fair at Pit 3, 4 and 5 areas between the dams.
Lake level is down about 110 feet. Bass anglers are still scoring anglers on largemouth bass, throwing Kitech lures, spinnerbaits and plastic worms off any brushy areas they can find in the upper arms of the lake, and some anglers have reported catches of bass on large swimbaits. Anglers fishing at night with live minnows are also catching bass. Trout fishing remains fair for trollers with flashers and various lures.
Lake level is down about 60 feet and fishing is slow. Access is tough due to ice and snow. Boaters are probably not even able get here due bad road conditions.
A few anglers have reported fair to good bass fishing at night with spinnerbaits and plastic worms.
There have been limits of spotted bass in the 15- to 16-pound range, and the spots are averaging in the 2- to 3-pound range. There is more interest in the lake, since there are a number of upcoming tournaments on the lake. Working the bottom at depths from 25 to 50 feet is the key, and plastics such as 4-inch Pro Worm’s 124p or 300 or Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad are working since the bass are feeding heavily on shad. McClure held at 38 percent and the launch ramps at McClure Point and Barrett Cove South are open. The Horseshoe Bend launch ramp and Barrett Cove North ramps are closed at the present time.
The last trout plant was October 14, and although camping at the lake remains popular, fishing interest has dropped significantly with the lack of plants.
The trout are starting to come up as lake is showing signs of turning over and the topline action has started. Bank fishermen are starting to score with nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations or trout dough bait on a standard bait rig. The bass are transitioning into a winter mode with the cooling water temperatures, and they are less apt to chase fast-moving baits. The best action is with spoons, jigs, or plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head in deep water. The Glory Hole launch ramp is back on concrete, and a courtesy dock is available.
The lake closed for the season on November 6 and will reopen Feb. 16, 2017 for camping and Feb. 17, 2017 for fishing.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Snow melted with last weekend’s warm rain. Dam would be the spot to try.
Wait for the ice to form before giving this a shot.
Wide open trout bite for shore anglers at Mallards. Power Bait, nightcrawlers, spinners all producing. Trout to 22 inches were caught last week. Lake is ice free.
Deluge kept anglers off the lake. Macks have moved off the edges, so working open water is the only option. Boat ramps are ice free after the warm rain.
Edges of the lake get ice but the dam and Turkey Point continue to be the go-to spots for anglers. Nothing fancy required – nightcrawlers or Power Bait will do. Trout weighing 2 to 3 pounds were caught last week.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed. See you in spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
Almost 6 inches of rain fell here last week and that kept most anglers away. A pair of anglers in a boat caught-and-released a pair of small mackinaw, but that was the extent of fishing success, said Denise Cole at the store.
Few boats are plying the lake, but live bait charters out of South Shore continue to score limits of macks in the 3- to 5-pound slot.
Gates are locked to Loon Lake.
Embrace poor weather and you may soon be engaged in a tug-of-war with a trophy cutthroat. Don’t expect large numbers, but the biggest fish of your life may be cruising nearby.
Lake is wide open. No snow on the shore or ice on the water. Mormon Emigrant Trail is closed for the winter.
Call first to see if road is open.
Closed until Jan. 1.
River hit 5,000 cfs on Saturday before calming down to 2,000 cfs on Sunday. More weather on the way so this isn’t an option.
WEST WALKER RIVER
River has come up a bit and has color. It would be bait fishable if that was legal but a tough go with flies or spinners. No pressure exerted here for weeks.
Fishing closed from the Nimbus Hatchery deadline to Ancil Hoffman Park on Oct. 31. It re-opens in January. Small steelhead between 2 and 3 pounds were being caught between Ancil Hoffman Park and Watt Avenue before the river blew out on Sunday. Drifting roe and Corkies has been the best bet, although roe fished below bobbers also has been working. Flows on Sunday jumped from 1,290 cfs to 3,470 cfs.
The Outlet Hole is closed for the season. Salmon fishing has slowed. Muddy water kept most anglers off the river over the weekend.
RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was planted with 800 pounds of rainbows from DFW in late November. More trout will be stocked this month. Trout fishing is fair, with Power Bait working best.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows jumped from 800 cfs last week to 3,000 cfs on Friday at the Delta gauge. They were down to 1,910 cfs on Sunday, still too high to fish.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Salmon season closes Dec. 16. Fishing was slow over the weekend as the Sacramento was blown out from Red Bluff downstream. High, muddy water is expected to stall salmon fishing for the rest of the season. Striper and sturgeon fishing has been slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows at Keswick Dam held steady at 5,070 cfs last week, but were muddy and unfishable from Redding downstream. Salmon season ends Dec. 16. A few kings were caught last week but overall action was slow. Fishing for wild rainbows remains good near Redding for angler drifting roe, beads, Glo Bugs and crickets.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
The river is chocolate, high and full of debris, so boating is out of the question, as are most types of fishing in the main river. Salmon fishing has slowed and closes Dec. 16. Some stripers are being caught in the deepwater channel. Sturgeon are expected to move in from the delta as the river drops from last week’s storms.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
Sturgeon fishing has slowed near Knight’s Landing and Verona, in part because of high, muddy water and lots of debris coming down. Expect more sturgeon to move in from the delta as the river clears. Salmon season closes Dec. 16. Striper fishing has been slow.
Bass anglers are on the lake in strong numbers and the bite should be ready to ignite. Lake is 74-percent of full, which is 134-percent of average. Kirk Schritter at Emerald Cove Marina said he hasn’t heard of big fish caught recently, but did say anglers are keying on the top 15 feet of water.
CAMP FAR WEST
Lake nearly doubled in size last week and is more than 80% of capacity, said Kathy DeRossett from the North Shore Resort. “We have come up to nearly full,” DeRossett said. “We have water under the bridge and with one more hard rain the water will be spilling over the dam. That happened last year, but not as early as this year.” The water is muddy and anglers are reporting a poor bite.
Poor weather kept anglers away so there were no catches reported. The first anglers of the week appeared Sunday morning but shore anglers were dealing with mudlines.
The lake is 107-percent of capacity and water began spilling over the dam on Saturday. Water is murky and pressure has been non-existent to light.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR
Snowed in. That’s it until spring.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR
Snowed in with no access.
Find warm, moving water and offer crankbaits or spinnerbaits to attract bass. Mudlines are good spots to throw plastics. Lake is 44 percent of capacity.
Lake is at 96 percent of capacity and clear. Surface temperatures range from 56 to 58 degrees and 48 to 49 at the inlet. Light angler pressure. Trout can be found near Orchard Springs. If you want bass, offer plastics ever so slowly.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
Lake has risen to four feet from full but there haven’t been anglers on the water. Clarity is good but there is a mudline along the shore. Water temps are in the low 50s.
Largemouth are chasing recently planted fish. Swimbaits and swim jigs imitating 4- to 6-inch salmon are like ringing a dinner bell.
A passenger aboard Happy Hooker reeled up a monster 15-pound vermilion rockfish (red snapper). The day of fishing featured full limits of both rockfish and crabs. Berkeley Charter Boats sent New El Dorado III, El Dorado and Golden Eye 2000 to the Farallones where heavy sacks pleased anglers and included some impressive individual lingcod up to 25 pounds.
Combo trips for rockfish, lingcod and Dungeness crabs filled some sacks to the point where people danged near had to drag them off the boat. Fishing and crabbing to the north or to the south were equally good. Red tail perch, barred surf perch and rainbow perch were all taken by shore fishers near Lawson’s Landing and up at Doran Beach.
New Huck Finn made runs out the gate to rack up some impressive scores along the Marin Coast or out at the Farallones. The local shoreline at Emeryville was a prime spot for striped bass and people had fun wandering down to the waterfront to get in some casts between appointments.
Heavy rain runoff muddied the waters inside of Humboldt Bay and also the coastal water outside the entrance to the Bay, resulting in poor crabbing because the crabs just don’t like that fresh, muddy water. Trips down the coast are needed to get to better water away from major runoff spots like rivers and large streams. Fishers working the North and South jetties were able to get farther out on the jetties and score nice catches of kelp greenling, rockfish and perch.
Boats like Telstar spent the week bringing in “bragging” size crabs. The season is being talked about like the best in memory due to both quantity and quality. Shore fishing was tough because big swells were coming right out of the west and sweeping beaches. Noyo Jetty, though being impacted by swells was utilized effectively for crabs, rockfish and perch.
HALF MOON BAY
Limits of rockfish were possible and crabbing was pretty good, though staying out on the rough sea long enough to pull limits was not always comfortable. For example Queen of Hearts passengers decided to go in just before reaching full limits. Huli Cat made it out Sunday for a successful crab combo trip. Inside Pillar Point Harbor, people cast snares from the jetty or worked snares and hoop nets from the pier and docks.
Striped bass were hot after baits and lures along the San Francisco shoreline from outside the Gate all the way down past Oyster Point in the South Bay. South San Francisco Bay anglers also saw a marked increase in sturgeon catches due to fresh water flows from all the rains.
- Western Outdoor News