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. 19, 2016.
Trout plants continue with 1200 pounds released on Thursday, and the lake has risen to only 6 feet from spilling with heavy inflow from Jackson Creek. Trout continue to be found in the shallows with Kastmasters, green trout dough bait, or Power Eggs. Trollers are starting to get in on the act with more rainbows, including some large fish in excess of 5 pounds, taken on Rapalas. The Tackle Box Café will be open on Christmas Eve, but they will be closed on Christmas Day. The annual Tagged Trout Derby continues untilMarch 19, 2017.
Pro Bass FLW angler Cody Meyer of Auburn caught a 10.8-pound spotted bass, probably a new world record, on Friday, Dec. 16, along with four others that totaled over 40 pounds! He was fishing with partner JR Wright. Bigger fish are starting to make their presence known, obviously! Water temperature is 57 degrees.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
With the intense rainstorm and huge water releases out of Nimbus Dam, the Sacramento River-Delta has been high and muddy in the northern stretches. The sturgeon bite has been outstanding, but plummeting water temperatures and weak tides slowed down the bite over the weekend. The action should be outstanding in the near future. Sacramento Deep Water Channel, Prospect Slough, and Cache Slough are holding diamondbacks as well as around the Mothball Fleet and Roe/Ryer Islands. Eel/nightcrawler combinations, eel/pile worm combinations, and ghost shrimp are the top baits. Muddy water has scattered the stripers, but some very large fish have been taken off of Sherman Island Road on live bait transported from San Francisco Bay. The high water will contribute to a great striped bass bite once the river clears.
DELTA REGION: San Joaquin River
The San Joaquin River is clear below Mildred Island towards Discovery Bay while the main Sacramento River is muddy. There are a lot of shad in the area, and the largemouth bass are keying on shad and loading up on the bait fish. All artificial presentations have to be slow, and the key is to move the bait as little as possible. There are tons of baby stripers on the San Joaquin, but it is difficult to find larger fish. The bigger fish are few and far between and scattered through the system. Fresh shad is over for the season, but most bait shops continue to have solid supplies of frozen shad.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
Sturgeon were being caught near Verona and Knight’s Landing before the river got high and muddy last week. Expect sturgeon fishing to be fair to good once the river drops. Flows reached 40,000 cfs at Colusa last week. Salmon season has closed.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
The river blew out at 41,000 cfs during the middle of the week but had dropped down enough on Sunday so that it was just fishable, and plunkers were already catching steelhead as of Sunday afternoon. Steelhead and a few king salmon were caught before this last storm, so steelheading should be in full swing when conditions are prime. “There should be a few good days of fishing this week, but watch for conditions after a mid-week front blows through,” said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk was the first Oregon river to fall back into shape after last week's major rainstorm. It was down to 4.1 feet on Sunday, ideal for salmon or steelhead fishing. Over the weekend, salmon were caught close to the hatchery, but many were dark. Several steelhead were reported on the lower end.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The Rogue River at the Agness gauge was down to 16,900 cfs on Sunday, still too high and muddy to fish. It crested at 105,000 cfs on Sunday, its highest flows of the fall and above flood stage. The river has been too high for steelheaders to begin fishing.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Oregon
Fishing remained slow last week as high water levels continue to be a problem. Few anglers were on the water, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. If the river recedes some this week, anglers could see some action on salmon and steelhead by this weekend.
The river drainage got 3 to 7 inches of rain and the river went to 29 feet at 30,000 cfs, and was dropping out and measured 9,500 cfs on Sunday, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle. “The river might be fishable on Christmas Day for a bright steelhead,” he said. “Try the inside bends with a Spin & Glo and roe.”
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Sixes remained high and muddy over the weekend after heavy rains fell the middle of last week. It may fish early in the week before the next storm hits. Salmon should still be present.
The Smith crested at 79,000 cfs on Thursday, but was already kicking out fresh steelhead over the weekend. Plunkers were doing well on Saturday, and a few boaters drifted for steelhead, so the steelie action is on, according to WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, who said that guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips put some steelies into the boat. WON Field Reporter Phil DeSautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said, “We got hammered with rain and the river went up and down three times this week until Wednesday when it hit flood state at 29 feet at the 101 bridge. Plunkers had fair results, and I know of 5 steelhead between 3 boats, and a friend caught 2 hatchery steelhead and a 35-pound chrome king.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
Flows at Iron Gate Dam reached 4,700 cfs on Thursday after heavy rain filled the reservoir. Flows were down to 1,480 cfs on Sunday, still on the high side for steelhead. The river is blown out below Interstate 5.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Heavy rain is expected to have the middle section of the Klamath too high to fish all week. Flows crested at Seiad Valley at 18,000 cfs on Thursday. They were still a high 6,440 cfs on Sunday.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Flows at Terwer, near the mouth, reached 140,000 cfs on Thursday. They were down to 45,800 cfs on Sunday. The Terwer gauge was at 15 feet on Wednesday, then hit 32 feet on Thursday, above flood stage. It was down to 19 feet on Sunday. The river is expected to be blown out all week.
Fresh steelhead were being caught on the upper Trinity before it blew out the middle of last week. Flows jumped to 6,100 cfs near Junction City and 17,000 cfs near Burnt Ranch last week. They were down to 1,210 cfs at Junction City on Sunday. Flows at Lewiston have held steady at 313 cfs. Steelhead were being caught on the upper end on Mag Lip plugs as well as small pieces of roe.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Bass anglers who braved the stormy conditions found plenty of muddy running water into the creeks and retreated to the cleaner main lake to fish. Techniques working have been jigs or slow rolling white/chartreuse spinnerbaits, LV500's, A-Rigs and swimbaits in and around the edges of the stained running water near the mouth of the big creeks.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Only a few anglers were on the lake due to cold weather and they did not catch anything.
Art Cerini at The Narrows Resort said the weather was in the 20’s and virtually no one was fishing this week.
Cold weather kept most anglers at home. A few anglers after bass scored with live minnows in some areas like Shag Rock. Crappie action was reported off Indian Beach and some catfish catches were reported off Lakeport.
No anglers were on the lake due to cold, rainy weather.
Bass anglers who got out found the bite to be tough, thanks to the dropping water temps. Some small bass were caught on drop-shot rigs fished about 30 feet deep.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
Fly fishermen continue to produce quality fish in and around the coves, but not much action reported on the water due to cold, snowy weather. Bank anglers have been picking up trout while floating nightcrawlers and Power Baits in Geritol and Keddie coves.
Lure tossers are using Kastmasters and various spinners to catch trout. Bait fish with inflated worms and Power Bait Fishing has been good for fly fishermen using brassies and midges in size 20 and 22 have been producing well along. Stripping woolly buggers is popular, as is fishing BWO imitations on overcast days.
Marina closed for winter, no fishing report available.
Season ends Dec. 31. Few fishermen out with very cold weather.
FALL RIVER, HAT CREEK
A few trout to 2 pounds are being caught on Cripplures and Little Cleo lures.
Slow to fair trout fishing recorded at Pit 3, 4 and 5 areas. Not many anglers out.
Bass fishing remains fairly good along the mudlines with fish hitting swimbaits, drop-shot rigs, spinnerbaits and umbrella rigs. Some crappie action on small jigs in any brushy areas, while trout anglers continue to pick up rainbows on flashers and spinners trolled in areas of the dam.
Not much reported here due to black ice on the roads. Boaters not advised to travel here.
A few bass catches are being made on red colored plastic worms.
Trout plants continue with 750 pounds apiece at the South Shore Pond and North Shore launch ramp. Bass action remains solid with G-rigs loaded with small swimbaits at depths from 20 to 30 feet. Trout fishermen are finding as many crappie on their lines as rainbow trout near the dam or in the Narrows. The café is open at North Shore, and there is also gasoline available on the water at the docks. The lake rose slightly to 69 percent.
The bass bite has been on the tough side with most of the action found at depths from 45 to 50 feet with plastics on the drop-shot on a slow presentation. The jig bite has been slow. Planted rainbows can be taken from the shoreline with trout dough bait, Mice Tails or nightcrawlers.
The lake rose 10 feet in the past week, but the water remains relatively clear. The bass went to the bottom with the recent cold spell, and 4-inch Robo Worms in 124p or 300 at depths from 25 to 40 feet are most effective. The bass are thick and stuffed with shad. McClure rose to 42-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, but there are still planted rainbows taken from the peninsula near the Marina, the Handicapped Docks, or the Brush Pile with garlic trout dough bait, Power Eggs, or nightcrawlers. The marina is installing bait tanks in order to sell live minnows and crawdads in the near future.
Trout fishing remains good, even though the lake hasn’t turned over. Trollers are picking up rainbows and crappie from the surface to 25 feet in depth. Shad-patterned spoons such as ExCel’s, Needlefish, or Speedy Shiners are working best. Bank fishermen score off of Glory Hole Point and near the Highway 49 Bridge with trout dough bait on a light hook. The bass are holding at the 35- to 45-foot range and are oriented to the shad schools. The Glory Hole Launch ramp is on the concrete as the lake has risen 9.5 feet to 25 percent within the past week.
The lake closed for the season on November 6 before reopening on February 16, 2017 for camping and February 17, 2017 for fishing.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Lake is starting to freeze. Not quite there, yet.
Waiting for the lake to freeze. Check back in a week.
Ramp is clear of snow.
Thin ice here. Waiting for safe ice.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed. See you in spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
A few trout were caught last week. “Nothing great, nothing big,” said Denise Cole from the Sly Park Resort. “Most are fishing from the shore with worms or Power Bait. Lake is fairly clear and doesn’t have floating debris. Lake is close to spilling.
Bite at the South Shore was solid Saturday and Sunday. Plenty of Macks in the 3- to 5-pound range will take live bait bounced just off the bottom. Conditions on the North Shore were a bit more challenging and charter boats didn’t go out last week. Single digit temps in the morning and big wind in the afternoon have customers canceling their trips.
LITTLE TRUCKEE RIVER
Flows have increased and trout are moving up from Boca into the river. It’s artificial-only, single-barbless, catch-and-release.
Wind kept most boats off the lake last week but shore anglers continue to pick up big fish. Water temps are in the high 40s. Angling pressure is generally light and probably won’t increase until after New Year’s Day.
Road is open and water is ice free.
Countdown is on for the Jan. 1 opening.
River has fallen back to fishable condition but few are partaking.
WEST WALKER RIVER
River is high and muddy through Walker.
The river is high and muddy because of heavy rain last week. Flows at Fair Oaks were 29,900 cfs on Sunday. Four anglers were rescued by firefighters after becoming stranded on an island near Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Fishing is slow. Salmon season has closed. The Howe Avenue and Discovery Park access were closed over the weekend because of high water.
High, muddy water in both the Feather and Yuba rivers have brought fishing to a halt. A few resident stripers were because caught before the high water. The river could be down to fishable levels by the weekend.
Lake levels dropped from 427 feet to 425 feet last week as outflows hit 30,000 cfs from Folsom Dam. The Bureau of Reclamation is expected to hold the level around 425 feet to leave room for more rain and snowmelt. 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. Expect bass fishing to improve as soon as inflows into the lake stabilize. Drop-shot rigs will work best.
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
Heavy rain caused flows at the gauge to hit 17,000 cfs last week. They were down to 2,800 cfs on Sunday, still way too high for fishing.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Salmon season closed Dec. 16. The river is blown out from Red Bluff downstream. Some stripers were being caught before the river got high and muddy.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Except for a brief rise on Thursday to 6,100 cfs, flows at Keswick Dam have held steady near 5,080 cfs. Trout fishing remains good between Redding and Anderson, with Glo Bugs, beads and roe all working well. Salmon fishing is now closed.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Salmon season has closed. High, muddy water with lots of debris made fishing nearly impossible over the weekend. Flows at Freeport were 82,300 cfs on Sunday.
CAMP FAR WEST
Lake is full and spilling and has the color of chocolate milk. Fishing is poor.
Murky water is a challenge. Use bait with scent and fish near the dam to have a chance. Lake is six feet from full.
Lake is spilling and is cloudy. Few are fishing here.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR
Snowed in. That’s it until spring.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR
Snowed in with no access.
Lake is rapidly filling and cooling. Water temps range from 48 to 51 degrees. Warmer water should be available next week. Lake has come up 43 feet in 10 days. Lake is 52 percent of capacity, which is 85 percent of average. Bass can be taken with tubes, Senkos, spinnerbaits and drop-shots. Debris is floating throughout the lake, but especially in the north fork, so use caution. All ramps are in the water.
Lake is full and spilling into Bear River. Clarity is okay. A bass tourney last week was won with a 12-pound bag. Best methods were plastics fished slowly and crankbaits. Bass were caught on points, off the dam and at the Greenhorn Inlet. No trout or catfish catches. Lake has debris, so be careful. Water temps are in the low 50s.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
One lucky bass angler caught a 5-pound largemouth and a 2.8-pound smallmouth from shore using nightcrawlers on the Scotts Flat Shoreline just beyond the Day Use Area, said Nevada Irrigation District Supervisor Jim Caldwell. One other bass fisherman and a trout fisherman were skunked. That was the extent of last week’s angling traffic.
Use long casts to reach the rocks with swimbaits and bass will attack. Planted salmon are hiding in the rocks, so 6-inch swim baits are the tickets. Fish in the afternoon after the water has a chance to warm.
The Farallon Islands were the destination for El Dorado, New El Dorado III and Golden Eye 2000 and the results were near-limits of rockfish and crab plus nearly a lingcod per rod. Happy Hooker returned to dock from a Sunday trip loaded down with 24 limits of rockfish and 5 crabs per person.
Lingcod counts and average size climbed and diminishing swells were the happy reason why people were able to do a better job of presenting baits, jigs, swimbaits and slab jigs aboard private boats and party boats like New Sea Angler. Crab counts and rockfish counts were steady limits. Smaller swells also allowed surf fishers to safely catch perch and rockfish.
Good fishing was on tap for passengers aboard New Salmon Queen, New Huck Finn and Sea Wolf, all of which ran combo trips for rockfish, lingcod and crabs. The counts were good and over the weekend the sea conditions were much improved.
Crabbing was excellent by the weekend for Scrimshaw and Reel Steel, south of the entrance to Humboldt Bay in roughly 200 feet of water outside of the mudlines in clear water. Jetty fishing was too dangerous much of the week, but by the weekend people were casting baits for kelp greenlings or casting snares for crabs. Red tail perch were biting along the beach below Table Bluff.
Crabbing kept boats like Telstar busy because skilled crews could usually pull limits of exceptionally meaty crabs from water near 200 feet deep. Sea Hawk reported similar results. Over the weekend the direction of the swells shifted from west to northwest, allowing people to work Noyo Jetty for crabs and for kelp greenlings, Cabazon and perch.
HALF MOON BAY
Combo trips down the coast near San Gregorio were productive for Queen of Hearts and other boats wanting to sack up some meat. Huli Cat ran a combo trip Sunday, coming back with high counts of rockfish and crabs, plus some lingcod. Harbor folks did okay on rock crab and Dungeness from the pier and the jetty where people also baited perch. Anglers shopping at Half Moon Bay Sportfishing reported good perch fishing at Ocean Beach.
A herring spawn getting underway off of Oyster Point and Coyote Point bode well for South Bay fishing action over the coming weeks. Shore fishers stood a decent chance of hooking a striped bass along the San Francisco shoreline.
- Western Outdoor News