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Steelhead season opens slow

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Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 2, 2016.

TOP PICKS

AMERICAN RIVER

The river dropped to 4,000 cfs on Sunday, high but fishable. The Jan. 1 opener between Hazel Avenue and Nimbus Fish Hatchery was slow. Some small steelhead are being caught on roe, nightcrawlers and spoons. Steelhead fishing is expected to improve as the river continues to drop.

LAKE CAMANCHE

2250 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were released, split between the North Shore, South Shore and South Ponds. Crappie fishing remains outstanding with trout trollers picking up the slabsides using grubs at depths from 15 to 30 feet near Big Hat Island or in the Narrows. Bass fishing is outstanding with a spotted bass at 6.13 pounds landed on a Senko over a submerged island this week. Football head jigs or Alabama rigs along steep walls and over island tops are solid techniques. The café is open at North Shore, and there is also gasoline available on the water at the docks. The lake is at 70 percent.

DELTA REGION: Sacramento River

Sturgeon are starting to adjust to the rapid change to cold water. Muddy flows brought grass, weeds, and debris into the Delta. Striped bass action is limited to a few linesides taken on cut baits loaded with scent, as the muddy water has slowed the trolling and plugging bite to a crawl. Sturgeon have clearly taken over the top spot in the Delta with scores coming out of the north from Cache Slough down to Suisun Bay. Bank anglers are using 10 to 14 ounces of weight in order to stay down, but a few sturgeon are being landed from the bank areas off of Steamboat Slough near the Hogback Boat Launch, Freeport, and Merritt’s Landing with eel/nightcrawler combinations, eel/pile worm combinations or ghost shrimp. A few striped bass in the system, and the Deep Water Channel has been the top location with frozen shad or sardines loaded with garlic spray. Cut baits work much better than live bait in the cold water. Caution for nighttime boaters is essential with the amount of debris floating down from the upper river.

DON PEDRO

The rainbow trout bite has taken off with the trout holding in the top 15 feet and guide Monte Smith put his clients onto some nice, chunky rainbows. Fast-trolling heavy spoons on leadcore line is the best technique for rainbows. A few king salmon can be found up the Tuolumne River arm, but be cautious of the submerged trees. The occasional largemouth bass over 8 pounds taken on Huddleston swimbaits in rainbow trout, but most consistent technique is to work at depths from 10 to 30 feet Pro Worms in 124p or 300 along with the Berserk Purple Hornet or Brown/Purple jig. All launch ramps are open.

NORTH COAST RIVERS

CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon

Steelheading was good before Christmas, but dropping flows and water temperatures slowed the bite for the New Year, according to WON Staff Writer Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Guide Service. Fish were in the river but not biting, he said. Flows went from 4,000 cfs to 2,000 cfs. Rain is in the forecast, however, and that will bring in more steelhead.

ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon

The river was low and clear over the New Year's weekend, with little effort for steelhead. Heavy rain is expected later this week.

ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon

Steelhead fishing finally showed signs of life last week, with catches between Agness and Gold Beach. Plunkers are catching fish at Lobster Creek and Huntley Park on Spin-N-Glos with roe. Boaters are fishing plugs, such as Mag Lip 3.5s. Flows Sunday at Agness were 6,700 cfs, good for steelhead. The water temperature was 42 degrees.

RUSSIAN RIVER

On Sunday the Russian was flowing at 1600 cfs with excellent visibility, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. “There have been a few steelhead caught using a variety of techniques, including back trolling plugs, drifting roe and casting Cleos,” he said. “Expect this weeks rain to blow the river out by Thursday and another possible system over the weekend may put the river out for a while.”

SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon

A few salmon continue to be caught on the Sixes between Edson Creek and the Grange. As of Jan. 1, all salmon must be released. A few steelhead were caught last week on roe and Puff Balls. Rain is in the forecast this week.

SMITH RIVER

In need of rain, but more and more steelhead are coming into the river, according to WON Field Reporter Phil Desautels of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. Cold temps and cold water has slowed the bite, and guides are getting 1 to 2 fish a boat over the weekend. A lot of native fish, and most caught drifting yarn and Fish Pills. Flows were at 2940 cfs on Sunday, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers, who said that reports from guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips said seals have made fishing difficult all the way up to the Forks.

TRINITY/KLAMATH RIVERS

KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook

Flows were down to 1,370 cfs at Iron Gate Dam on Sunday. Pressure has been light, but steelhead are available between Iron Gate Hatchery and the Klamathon Bridge. Small plugs are working best. Freezing weather could hamper catches.

KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp

Flows at Seiad Valley are falling into shape at 3,120 cfs, while Orleans still has high water at 7,000 cfs. When the river drops, expect fresh winter-run steelhead. Freezing weather is expected most of the week.

KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen

The river remains blown out, with flows of 14,700 cfs on Sunday.

TRINITY RIVER

Flows Sunday at Lewiston were 299 cfs, with flows of 633 cfs at Douglas City and 583 cfs at Junction City. Flows at Hoopa were 4,130 cfs. Steelhead fishing has been best near Douglas City and Junction City, where guides are finding three to six steelhead a day to 10 pounds. Small plugs, such as Mag Lip 3.0s, and roe have been working best. The lower Trinity has been high, but some fish are being caught on roe and pink Puff Balls.

NORTH COAST LAKES

LAKE BERRYESSA

Bass fishing has been good for most anglers, working plastic worms off the points. Crappie fishing is good on jigs in Pleasure Cove.

BLACK BUTTE LAKE

A few more anglers are turning out now after the bad weather. They are catching a few bass on plastic worms, with most action reported near the bridge at Stoney Creek.

BLUE LAKES

Fishing remains slow to fair, but the same two anglers, Don Patterson of Scotts Valley and Bob Anton of Lakeport, got their trout limits again for the third straight week.

CLEAR LAKE

Bass fishing has slowed due to cold weather, and few anglers out. The upper end of the lake is pretty well stained and most of the huge concentrations of shad seem to be mid-lake to the South Arms.

LAKE PILLSBURY

Still not much action reported, as few anglers are out.

LAKE SONOMA

Bass fishing has been fair on fish 1 to 3 pounds, with plastic worms producing the best. A few landlocked steelhead are being taken with anglers toplining shad imitations 100 feet behind the boat.

FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS

LAKE ALMANOR

Fishing is fair, but the trout being caught are generally in the 5-pound range, hitting on trolled nightcrawlers or Gulp! trolled with or without dodgers.

BAUM LAKE

Trout fishing is fair on flies and lures, but more snow due this week.

BUCKS LAKE

Marina closed for winter. No angler reports.

EAGLE LAKE

Season closed on Saturday, Dec. 31. Re-opens in April.

FALL RIVER, HAT CREEK

Season closed.

LEWISTON LAKE

Matt Romaine at Pine Cove Marina said few anglers have been out and did not catch much. More snow due this week. Local roads are icy.

PIT RIVER

Only a few anglers are out due to rain and snow.

SHASTA LAKE

Bass fishing remains very good on plastic worms, tube baits and swimbaits. There’s no problem getting lots of bass off the main body points. Trout fishing remains fair on trolled lures in the McCloud and upper Sacramento arms.

TRINITY LAKE

Bass fishing is fair on jigs and plastic worms with both smallmouth and largemouth bass to 3 pounds being caught. Highways remain icy, so take care driving here.

WHISKEYTOWN LAKE

Not many anglers out, but those who get out are catching smallmouth and largemouth bass off the rip-rap on the east side of the lake near the 299 bridge.

MOTHERLODE

LAKE AMADOR

1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbow trout were released, and trollers are using Rapalas or spinners near the surface. Boaters are bait fishing in the coves and the shorelines in the Jackson Creek and Mountain Spring arms. Shore fishermen are scoring with Kastmasters. Micetails, trout dough bait, and white Power Eggs. The fish are fairly shallow and close to shore, with most casting out from 5 to 10 feet from the banks. The lake is 6 feet from spilling. The annual Tagged Trout Derby continues until March 19, 2017.

LAKE MCCLURE

The bass bite remains solid with 20 to 30 fish days possible using 6-inch Pro Worms in 124p or 300 along the Berserk Jigs in Brown/Purple or Purple Hornet at depths from 25 to 40 feet. The water clarity is still very good despite the inflow. 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.

LAKE MCSWAIN

Calaveras Trout Farm is back in operation, and there is hope for biweekly plants at the lake in the upcoming months. 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 marina will not be installing bait tanks for live minnows, but live crawdads are still a possibility in the future.

NEW MELONES

Rainbows from the surface to 80 feet, and trollers are toplining Rapalas, Needlefish, and Excel above the Highway 49 Bridge and in the main lake near the dam for rainbows to 14 inches. Shore fishing with light line and hooks using trout dough bait in various colors along with nightcrawlers are producing rainbows from the bank. The winter bass bite is in full swing, and fish are holding at 30 to 50 feet. The shad and trout have moved into creek channels and pockets off of the main lake, and the bass will follow the bait. Some anglers are catching big largemouths on trout patterned swimbaits. Glory Hole Sports is holding their Big Bass Bass on January 28 with 100% payback with a two fish limit of one spotted bass and one largemouth bass with a team fee of $165.00. The lake is at 883.15 feet in elevation and 26 percent.

LAKE PARDEE

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

BOCA RESERVOIR

Lake is frozen and ice fishing is underway. Rainbows in the 12- to 16-inch range are being caught on jigs, nightcrawlers or mealworms. No big browns reported.

CAPLES LAKE

Ice fishing is underway but there have been no reports of success.

DAVIS LAKE

Lake is frozen and ice fishing is possible after last week’s deep freeze.

DONNER LAKE

Launching may be a problem unless a local clears the ramp. Even if clear, chains will be required because of ice.

FRENCHMAN LAKE

Ice is ready for anglers.

GOLD LAKE BASIN

Road is closed for winter.

JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)

Anglers are out and catching Mackinaw. Most are 2 to 3 pounds and being caught near the surface with trolled nightcrawlers. Lake is 97 percent of capacity and clarity is good, reported Jay Ward of Sly Park Resort.

LAKE TAHOE

Charter boats pick cookie-cutter macks in the 3- to 5-pound class on a regular basis. Macks are feeding on crawdads, shrimp and minnows, so they are ready to strike anything that moves near them.

LITTLE TRUCKEE RIVER

River is low. Main Truckee is a better bet.

PYRAMID LAKE

Shore anglers are catching most of the big fish. Another 20 pounder came in last week and 10 other 10-pound-plus cutts also were landed. Pick a likely spot and fish it hard. No beach or lure is better than another. Water temperature is 46.5 degrees at six feet beneath the surface.

RED LAKE

Guided ice fishing trips by Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters yield cutthroat to 18 inches. Trips get anywhere from one to six fish for a group of four.

STAMPEDE RESERVOIR

Road is closed after last week’s storms.

TOPAZ LAKE

More than 300 people fished Sunday’s opener and fishing was rated as very good. Biggest fish of the day was a 4-pound rainbow. Action was equally good from shore and boat and Power Bait and nightcrawlers were the top bait.

TRUCKEE RIVER

Fishing is good with anglers getting trout with streamers, San Juan worms, small midges or baetis. The Glenshire stretch and below Boca are productive. Trout are mostly in the 12- to 14-inch class but there have been 18 inchers landed.

WEST WALKER RIVER

River is a bit high and off-color. Hasn’t been an angler sighting in a while.

DELTA REGION

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER

Clear water has become all but impossible to find on the San Joaquin-Delta, and with the absence of clear water, anglers must adjust their techniques. The recent inflow has affected even the south Delta below Mildred Island into Discovery Bay. The key is vibration and scent. Big blades on spinnerbaits or jigs in 3/8th or 1/4- oz. with a bigger profile such as a lizard on the back of the jig are best for largemouth bass, and scent is essential. Vibration, scent, and color are essential in the muddy and cold water. There is some clear water in the back end sloughs on the Mokelumne River such as Hog or Sycamore, but you have to go way back there to find it.Fresh shad is over for the season, but most shops have plenty of frozen shad.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

FEATHER RIVER

Salmon season closed Dec. 16. Striper fishing has been slow. The next good striper fishing likely won’t happen until February when steelhead smolts are released from the hatchery.

FOLSOM LAKE

The lake dropped 6 feet last week, from 409 feet to 403 feet. The water temperature over the weekend was 50 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. Some anglers are using large minnows with good success. Trout fishing is slow.

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 990 cfs over the weekend at the Delta gauge, down from 1,500 cfs at the beginning of last week. Trout fishing has been slow.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa

Salmon season closed Dec. 16. Striper fishing has been slow. Effort for sturgeon has been light.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff

Salmon season is now closed. Flows from Keswick Dam dropped from 10,000 cfs to 6,500 cfs. Fishing for wild rainbows remains a good bet, with guides reporting up to 50 fish a day with some running 22 to 24 inches. 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.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa

Flows have dropped to 12,500 cfs at Colusa, but sturgeon fishing remains slow, mainly because of lots of debris in the river. 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.

NORTHERN FOOTHILLS

BULLARDS BAR

Lake is 80-percent of capacity and water temps have dropped to 49 degrees, but can increase to low 50s at south-facing walls. A handful of big bass were caught last week but there were more skunks than scores, but that is the nature of this lake. Fish slowly and prepare to go as deep as 50 feet.

CAMP FAR WEST

Lake is full and is clearing into fishable shape. Few have ventured out and there has been no success reported.

COLLINS LAKE

Lake is five feet from full and water is clearing. Surface temperature is 50 degrees. Some limits come in. Big fish of the week was a 4.4 pound catfish. Most trout are in the 1- to 2-pound range.

ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR

Lake s 95 percent of capacity and has cleared. Fishing prospects should be favorable, but angling pressure has been negligible.

FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR

Snowed in. That’s it until spring.

HELL HOLE RESERVOIR

Snowed in with no access.

LAKE OROVILLE

Bass can be had with a slow hand and the ability to fish deep. Bass will retreat to depths of 40 feet (or more) with the recent cold snap. Flukes, Senkos, float flies are all good approaches.

ROLLINS LAKE

Lake is full but the visibility is poor. A few have been fishing but with no luck. Water looks like chocolate milk. The good news is the debris that came into the lake during the heavy rains has mostly settled along the shore. Water temperature is 53 degrees.

SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE

Lake is nearly full and is clear. A few have ventured out but only skunks have been reported.

THERMALITO AFTERBAY

Ducks are moving in, which means the hunters are coming out. Anglers should wait until duck season is over to venture out here.

NORTH SALTWATER

BERKELEY

Boat activity was sparse through the closing week of groundfish season ending December 31, though some boats did get out for crabs. With striped bass and sturgeon going nuts close-by, Berkeley area private boats ran for San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Straits or just stayed close and fished near shore. Local shorelines served up some nice catches of rubberlip and walleye perch.

BODEGA BAY

Rockfish and lingcod season went out in a blaze of glory for Bodega Bay boats, with New Sea Angler leading the pack. Along with limits of rockfish and good lingcod fishing, crabbing resulted in half to near-full limits. Boats from Lawson’s Landing got into some good rockfish and lingcod action before the closure began on Sunday. Tomales Bay crabbing was more consistent than in recent weeks, with deeper holes putting out better numbers. Perch fishing along local beaches was best at dusk.

EMERYVILLE

New Huck Finn and Sea Wolf handled the flurry of rockfish and lingcod activity by taking people out the Gate and limiting out on rockfish, picking up some lingcod and filling up on crabs. Locally, striped bass fishing and perch fishing along Emeryville’s shoreline was at times pretty good both for shore anglers and private boaters.

EUREKA

With commercial crabbers on strike over prices from buyers, recreational anglers had a field day with best counts coming from south of the entrance to Humboldt Bay. Jetty fishing was limited to the shallow portions of both North and South jetties due to hazardous seas, however there were still decent catches of kelp greenling, black rockfish and cabezon.

FORT BRAGG

Figuring crabbing scores aboard Telstar was as easy as taking the number of passengers each day and multiplying by 10, since crabbing was easy in 90 to 120 feet of water and the crabs in general were healthy and full. The boat was back in between 10:15 and 11:30 with full limits on most days. Thanks to the direction of the swells, shore anglers were able to fish and crab from Noyo Jetty and also able to fish on the south side of the bluff at Caspar.

HALF MOON BAY

Rockfish season ending weekend celebrations were had by passengers aboard Queen of Hearts, Huli Cat and Riptide. Rockfishing was good from Pillar Point to Pigeon Point and fillets were put away for winter. Crabbing was half-to-full limits, from one boat to the next and private boaters worked pretty hard at it on the calmer days.

SAN FRANCISCO

Roving herring spawns moved fish and people along the Bay and South Bay shorelines of San Francisco and South San Francisco. Boaters who had the time to stay on top of the spawn activity had the winning ticket in terms of striped bass and sturgeon. Deeper parts of South Bay were also good for shark fishing with leopards and sevengill on the prowl.

- Western Outdoor News

www.wonews.com

sacbee.com/fishing-line

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