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. 26, 2016.
The river reached 40,000 cfs early last week, but was down to 11,000 cfs over the weekend. Flows are expected to continue to drop, just in time for the Jan. 1opener between Hazel Avenue and Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Steelhead fishing is expected to be good near Sailor Bar. Roe or nightcrawlers are usually the hot bait. Some small steelhead were being caught before last week’s big storm.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
Plummeting water temperatures have slowed down all species, but sturgeon remain the top draw. The big morning incoming tide following by a large afternoon outgoing tide this week looks promising, and the only limiting factors are possibly the wind and cold water. Covering lots of water and finding feeding fish is the key, as the sturgeon are reluctant to bite in the cold water. In the upper river, striped bass fishing is limited to live bait such as mudsuckers or golden shiners or frozen bait loaded with scent as the river is high and muddy. It is clearly a wintertime striped bass bite, and the linesides will only pull down the bait and hold it without running, as their metabolism has slowed considerably. Caution for nighttime boaters is essential with the amount of debris floating down from the upper river.
DELTA REGION: San Joaquin River
The major thoroughfares on the San Joaquin are muddy, and the cleanest water is found in the sloughs. The water in the main San Joaquin from the mouth of the Mokelumne towards Antioch is dirty with stained water coming out of the Consumnes and Mokelumne Rivers. The largemouth bass are not jumping in the boat with the cold water temperatures, so slow down and adjust your techniques. Neither the striped bass nor largemouth bass like muddy water, so slow things down to a crawl and load up your lures with scent. Making multiple casts to the same area is important. The water temperature changes from the morning to the afternoon hours, and the same areas that weren’t producing in the morning may become productive once the water warms up. It is also a good time to look for baitfish, and some key signs are watching for working birds or surface movement. The stripers have disappeared, but they should find the clear water in the south Delta soon.
The lake dropped 16 feet last week, from 425 feet to 409 feet. Inflows remained around 44,000 cfs, while outflows were down to 12,000 cfs. They had been as high was 30,000 cfs. The water temperature over the weekend was 52 degrees. The 5 mph speed limit is lifted as long as the lake is above 400 feet. Currently the Granite Bay Stage 2, Folsom Point and Brown’s Ravine’s Hobie Cove ramps are open. Bass fishing has been good in the main body of the lake, where anglers are using drop-shot rigs and spoons to catch largemouth, spots and smallmouth bass in 30 to 40 feet of water. Roboworms and crawdads are working best. Trout fishing is slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
High water with lots of debris made sturgeon fishing difficult last week, but fresh fish are expected to have moved into the Verona and Knight’s Landing area. Look for fishing to improve this week as the river drops, and clears. Pile worms, ghost shrimp and nightcrawlers are all good choices for sturgeon, along with eel. Fishing for catfish near Verona has been slow. Salmon season closed Dec. 16. Fishing for stripers has been slow.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
Steelhead fishing kicked off earlier here than usual and is expected to get nothing but better, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Guide are averaging 2 to 3 steelies a day and plunkers did well over the weekend, especially at Social Security Bar where about 15 were caught on Saturday. Flows were ideal over the weekend and should remain that way all week. Good numbers of hatchery fish were in the mix.
ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Anglers reported decent numbers of late king salmon over the weekend on the Elk, with a few bright keepers mixed in. There are still some hatchery salmon showing up as well. Steelhead fishing has been slow, but should pick up in the next few weeks. Flows were good over the weekend after Friday's big rain.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Flows over the weekend were 16,200 cfs at the Agness gauge, down from 22,000 cfs on Friday. The river is still high for steelhead, but should fall into good shape by the middle to end of the week. The last week of December usually signals the start of good steelhead fishing near Gold Beach.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Oregon
Fishing remains tough with storms continuing to pound southern Oregon. Guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass said the river is high and “blown out” again and it might be until next weekend before it’s really fishable again.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The river was high and muddy over the weekend, but should fish well this week. Salmon season closes Dec. 31 on the Sixes. Expect a few bright kings to still be around, along with some early steelhead.
Big numbers of fresh steelhead showed up over Christmas weekend after the previous weeks rains, and plunkers working Outhouse, Ruby and Peacock Bar did great. Maybe one of the best weekends of the season. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers got a report from guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips, and he said the river would be in great shape with plenty of fresh steelhead this week.
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
The Upper Klamath dropped into shape for a few days last week before heavy rain on Friday blew the river out again. Flows at Iron Gate Dam over the weekend were 2,620 cfs. The stretch from the hatchery to Klamathon Bridge will start fishing again when flows drop to near 1,000 cfs.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
The river remained high over the weekend, with flows of 5,000 cfs at Seiad Valley and 11,600 cfs at Orleans. When the river drops, expect fresh winter-run steelhead.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
High, muddy water has kept anglers off the lower river. Flows over the weekend were over 16,000 cfs. There has been no fishing effort.
New steelhead have arrived on the upper section of the Trinity near Douglas City, with a mix of hatchery and wild steelhead. Many guides reported catching more wild fish than hatchery fish. Small plugs, including Mag Lip 3.0 and 2.5 plugs, as well as roe or nightcrawlers are all working. The lower river was high and unfishable over the weekend. Flows at Lewiston on Sunday were 308 cfs. Douglas City had flows of 633 cfs, while flows were 804 cfs at Junction City. Flows at Willow Creek were 4,280 cfs, while they were up to 7,640 cfs at Hoopa.
NORTH COAST LAKES
The rains let up for a few days and the bass anglers who braved the sunny skies and high winds found some good success for largemouth bass to 8 pounds the past week.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Only a few anglers out all week, and they did not catch anything.
The only anglers out again this week were Don Patterson of Scotts Valley and Bob Anton of Lakeport, and they again caught limits of trout to 3 pounds on two days, using trolled flashers and worms, said Art Cerini at The Narrows Resort.
There was very limited success here with anglers using live minnows for bass. There have only been a couple of boats out working the lake on any given day. The lake level has come up nicely this past week and as a result, the water clarity on the upper west and north ends of the lake have become pretty stained. No action was reported on crappie or catfish.
There is still no action here with few anglers and no catches reported at the resort.
There was a good bite early in the morning on reaction baits. Most of the bass are largemouth in the 1- to 3-pound range, being caught yo-yoing LV500's in shad patterns.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
Not many anglers have been out, but trollers and shore fishermen are still picking up a few rainbows to 2 pounds on trolled Speedy Shiners or bank fishing with bait and flies.
John Dietz at The Fly Shop said fishing remains fair here for fly anglers using midges and brown woolly buggers.
Marina closed for winter, no fishing report available.
Bad weather is keeping anglers off the lake and the season ends Dec. 31, said guide Cliff Spediacci at Hook & Ladder Guide Service.
FALL RIVER, HAT CREEK
Trout fishing is slow to fair with best action at the upper end of the lake. Marina is only open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Not much action here on Pit 3, 4 and 5 for trout anglers, with very bad cold weather prevailing.
Bass anglers still scoring with fish suspended from about 10 to 40 feet deep. They are being caught on most types of lures, from plastic worms to jigs and deep-running crank baits. The trout have spread out from the dam and are now being caught in many areas of open water on flashers and trailed lures.
Some good-size trout are being caught in the upper section of Trinity Lake. Local guys have been putting their boat in and fishing the mouth of Stuart Fork on Trinity Lake and fishing Power Bait or chucking Kastmasters for rainbows, but they are probably fall run of landlocked steelhead, left over spawners after they built the dam. Road access from highways leading to the lake remain dangerous due to black ice.
Bass fishermen are finding action on fish to 3 pounds, hitting plastic worms and crank plugs fished in channels between the grass-matted shoreline areas.
1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were released before the Christmas weekend with 1000 pounds off of the lakefront dry camp and 100 more tagged fish also released in various spots in the lake. Trolling Rapalas in firetiger or Kastmasters in blue/silver are working in the back sections of the lake while shore fishermen are scoring with nightcrawlers or tossing Kastmasters. The fish are close to the surface and the shorelines as the lake’s level has risen to 6 feet from spilling with a water temperature of 55 degrees. The annual Tagged Trout Derby continues until March 19, 2017.
Heavy trout plants from Mt. Lassen Hatchery continue, and in addition to the trout, crappie and bass remain hot for local anglers. 3000 pounds of rainbows were planted prior to the Christmas weekend with 1000 pounds split between the North Shore, South Shore, and the South Shore Pond. Crappie continue to hit trolled lures and one boat scored 21 crappie and a single trout pulling grubs. Bass fishing remains great! The café is open at North Shore, and there is also gasoline available on the water at the docks.The lake rose slightly to 70 percent.
The lake is waking up after months of slow activity, and it is producing a larger grade of bass with a couple of 8 pounders taken on swimbaits during the week. Pro Worm 300, Berserk jigs in Purple Hornet or Brown Craw, Berserk shakey-head plastics, or the Yamamoto twin tail Hula Grub in patterns 297 or 300 are working. Planted rainbows can be taken from the shoreline with trout dough bait, Mice Tails, or nightcrawlers. The lake has risen to 74 percent.
The lake has risen to 757.61 feet and 43 percent, and the water is slightly stained but hasn’t affected the bass bite. Spotted bass fishing remains excellent, and more anglers with the higher water level. Robo Worms in 124p or 300 in either leach or 4-inch at depths from 25 to 40 feet or jigs such as the Berserk Purple Hornet or Brown Craw are also effective, but the reaction bite is very slow. 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 marina is installing bait tanks in order to sell live minnows and crawdads in the near future. The last trout plant was October 14, and fishing is limited to a few planters taken from the peninsula near the Marina, the Handicapped Docks, or the Brush Pile with garlic trout dough bait, Power Eggs or nightcrawlers.
The lake has finally turned over, and the the rainbows are holding on top. Trollers are finding success with Kastmasters, Little Cleo’s, Krocodiles, Hot Ticket Spoons, or floating Rapalas by either top-lining or using leadcore. Bank fishermen are starting to pick up a few limits with trout dough bait, marshmallows, or nightcrawlers on light hooks with light line near Glory Hole Point or the Highway 49 Bridge. The bass are in a wintertime mode, and they are holding out in deeper water from 35 to 55 feet. Plastics on the shakey head, darthead, or jigs work. Catfishing has slowed down with the cold water, but the occasional large whiskerfish is taken at this time of year with nightcrawlers or trout dough bait intended for rainbow trout. Crappie fishing is also slow. The lake is at 880.15 feet in elevation and 26 percent.
The lake closed for the season on November 6 and will reopen on February 16, 2017 for camping and February 17, 2017 for fishing.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Open water everywhere. No ice fishing for a while.
Lake froze last week and ice skaters have taken to the surface. Not many trout plants were done during the summer, and low expectations for winter fishing.
A guided trip on the East Carson last week did very well, said Victor Babbitt of Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. A couple of beginners were able to hook 6 or 7 trout. “That’s very good for beginners and especially good on a winter day.” River is green. Stoneflies and San Juan worms worked best.
Some ice near the dam but there is open water at Mallards all the way to the big island. There were highs in the mid-40s last Thursday, so there needs to be several cold days before ice fishing can be considered.
Ramp is clear. Macks can be coaxed from deep water and the occasional rainbow can be hooked.
There were some warm days last week. Still no safe ice.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed. See you in spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
Lake is 96-percent of capacity and water is murky with a good amount of floating debris. Very few anglers on the water over the past week.
Charter boats have been able to pick limits of macks whenever they can get on the water. Most are 3- to 5-pound fish. Very few larger.
LITTLE TRUCKEE RIVER
Dry fly fishing is good. Use #18 to #20 baetis or midge patterns.
The largest cutt’ of the season came in last week, a 24.8 pounder caught from the shore on a fly. Another 20 pounder also was weighed in. Shore fishing has been best for large fish. Boaters must watch for debris.
Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters took a group ice fishing and had so-so results. A few trout were caught but results were disappointing.
Road is open and water is ice free.
Opener is Jan. 1 and lake has plenty of water and has been aggressively stocked with trout. A derby with cash prizes will help usher in the season.
River is on the high side but big fish have been hooked below Boca on pink San Juan worms, midges or black or olive streamers.
WEST WALKER RIVER
Big snow over the weekend will push this above fishable conditions for a bit.
Salmon season closed Dec. 16. High, muddy water in the Feather and Yuba slowed striper fishing last week. Flows on the Yuba topped 10,000 cfs last week. The next good striper fishing likely won’t happen until February, when steelhead smolts are released from the hatchery.
RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake has been stocked with hatchery rainbows. Trout fishing is fair, with Power Bait working best.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows were down to 1,500 cfs over the weekend at the Delta gauge, down from 5,000 cfs at the beginning of last week. Flows are still too high for fishing.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Salmon season closed Dec. 16. The river is blown out from Red Bluff downstream. Look for some resident stripers as the river drops this week.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Salmon season is now closed. Flows from Keswick Dam doubled last week, from 5,000 cfs to 9,910 cfs over the weekend. The jump in flows slowed trout fishing, but fishing for wild rainbows remains a good bet. Small plugs, roe, egg patterns and crickets are all good bets. Trout fishing is a solid option all winter.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Salmon season has closed. Some sturgeon are being caught in the deepwater channel. Striper fishing in the channel has been slow. Look for sturgeon to move up the Sacramento as it clears from last week’s big storms.
Lake is 81 percent of capacity and 141% of normal for this time of year. Water temps are in the low 50s and clarity is good. Fishing is tough and bass are scattered. Be prepared to employ numerous tactics to get quality spots.
CAMP FAR WEST
Lake is full, spilling and muddy. Few going out to fish.
Lake is six feet from full but water is murky and fishing has been slow. Surface temperature is 50 degrees.
Lake is spilling but water is beginning to clear and should be fishable soon.
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 full, water is muddy and not conducive to good fishing.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
Lake is inches from spilling but has good clarity. Only one boat ventured out on the water last week.
Be careful. The duck hunters are keeping the bass anglers off the water and on Lake Oroville.
The Farallon Islands were very good to El Dorado and New El dorado III from Berkeley Charter Boats, with scads of rockfish and lingcod to 20 pounds, plus good numbers of Dungeness crabs. Happy Hooker is readying for a private charter. Shore fishers caught perch and striped bass.
New Sea Angler and other boats made from Bodega Harbor to Elephant Rock and Point Reyes where they were joined by boats from Lawson’s Landing to get in on great rockfish action and plenty of sizable lingcod. Many boats then pulled pots to score limits or near-limits of heavy, healthy Dungeness crabs. Beaches at Lawon’s Landing and Dillon Beach were great spots for surf perch especially at dusk and under cloud cover.
Sea Wolf was a hard-working boat, pulling single-boat duty and going after lingcod and rockfish at the Farallones or along the Marin Coast and then pulling pots to add crabs to the mix. Emeryville’s shoreline was busy at times with people casting baits for perch.
Crabbing continued to be good, however with commercial season opening below the entrance to Humbooldt Bay the recreational crabbing is expected to dwindle. Shore fishing was decent on the jetties for kelp greenlings and snare casting for crabs produced some dinners. Inside Humboldt Bay people cast snares from piers for red rock crabs and a few Dungeness.
Good crabbing continued aboard Telstar and other boats, with individual pot counts as high as 24 keepers and 1 throwback, which is a great ratio. Shore-based fishers cast snares for crabs or soaked baits for perch, kelp greenling, cabezon and rockfish from Noyo Jetty.
HALF MOON BAY
Party boats like Huli Cat and Queen of Hearts made successful forays down the coast near San Gregorio for rockfish and lingcod with individual lings going up into the teens. Huli Cat added crabs to the catch. Jetty and pier fisherfolk spent days casting snares for crabs or tossing baited hooks for perch and rockfish.
A herring spawn off of South San Francisco ratcheted up the fishing action around Oyster Point and Coyote Point where sturgeon showed up to partake of the spawn feast. Striped bass were also targeted successfully by both shore and boat fishers.
- Western Outdoor News