How to pick the best top-water lure
Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 16, 2016.
Happy Hooker ran a sturgeon trip to San Pablo Bay and scored 3 keepers, released 3 oversize and caught a couple of striped bass. Berkeley Charter Boat vessels made it outside the Gate for crabs, with El Dorado hauling limits. While crabbing waters were the destination of choice for some, other boats like Right Hook went north into San Pablo Bay and in some cases on eastward to get into some very good sturgeon and striped bass fishing. Shore fishers had a blast with various perch, which have been biting very well along with roving stripers.
3000 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were split between the South Shore Pond, the North Shore launch ramp, and the South Shore launch ramp. The lake is remains relatively clear near the dam, around Big Hat and Little Hat Islands, but the Narrows it is heavily stained. Trout trolling is fair in the clear water, and experienced fishermen are finding limits with bright colors of Speedy Shiners on a fast-troll near the surface. Crappie fishing remains excellent for quality with grubs or F-5 Rapalas both near Big Hat Island and the Narrows. The café is open at North Shore, and there is also gasoline available on the water at the docks. The lake has risen to 79 percent.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
Levee breaks in the north Delta occurred during the week after days of high rains and huge tides. The waters of the Sacramento-Delta are high and muddy, and the incoming tide has been reduced to a trickle. Sturgeon fishing has been good in the lower Delta and they are concentrated on San Pablo Bay with the big tides and migrating sturgeon towards the herring spawns. Two large sturgeon derbies will occur in the coming weeks with the Diamond Classic out of Martinez Marina on January 28 and the Original aka ‘Super Bowl’ Sturgeon Derby on the weekend of February 4-5 out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor. Caution for boaters is essential with the amount of debris floating down from the upper river.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Extremely high flows, muddy and tons of debris! Some sturgeon are being caught in the deepwater channel. Striper fishing in the channel has been slow, despite good numbers of shad. Debris washing back and forth with the tide has made fishing difficult.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
Steelhead fishing was good last week after it cleared from a week of being blown out, but another storm expected this weekend will blow it out again, so plan your trips well and call ahead. The river was down to 4,000 cfs on Sunday from 31,000 cfs. Plunkers did well from shore, and on Saturday the driftboaters got into them.
ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk blew out for a couple of days last week, but was fishing again on Friday. Steelhead fishing was fair, with a few new fish showing up just below the hatchery.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
The river hit 90,000 cfs at the Agness gauge on Thursday. It was down to 14,000 cfs over the weekend, still too high for steelhead, but close to being fishable for plunkers. Steelhead fishing had been good before the big storm last week.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Oregon
Fishing continues to be nil on the upper Rogue River, said Troy Whitaker, guide at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. The river is still high and muddy, with another storm due in mid-week, so conditions will not get better for a while.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Steelhead fishing was good over the weekend on the Sixes, with fish being caught from Dry Creek to the Grange. Side-drifting roe and Puff Balls was working best.
Plunkers and driftboaters both had their days on the Smith this past week depending on the flow, but the river was full of steelhead and it was good fishing for all of them. Guide and WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said plunkers and driftboaters were all catching steelhead, and his boat went 3 out of 5. Guide Andy Martin said there were steelies from the Forks down to the Hwy. 101 bridge. Expected to blow out in the middle of the week, though, but it clears fast.
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
Flows at Iron Gate Dam hit 3,000 cfs last week, but were down to 1,900 cfs over the weekend. Still high for steelhead fishing and effort has been light. Expect steelhead fishing to resume this week, with small plugs or bait fished behind divers working best.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Flows at Seiad Valley hit 16,000 cfs the middle of last week, but were down to 6,000 cfs on Sunday. The river has been too high for steelhead all week. Before the latest storm, guide Mario Gomez of Ironhead Guide Service was getting steelhead to 10 pounds on plugs as well as roe and yarn.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The river remains blown out, with flows of 40,600 cfs on Sunday. Flows reached 160,000 cfs the middle of last week.
Flows Sunday at Lewiston were 322 cfs, while flows at Douglas City were around 800 cfs. The entire river was blown out until Friday. With good conditions over the weekend, steelhead fishing was fair. Cold weather seemed to limit catches. The lower river remains blown out. Expect the section between Lewiston and Rush Creek to remain fishable all this week, even after the next storms hits Trinity County. Mag Lip plugs and roe fished below bobbers has been working best.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Finally the much needed rain this past week has the water level heading in the right direction. Bad news is that the road closures and muddy water kept all the anglers off the lake this past week. Good news is this is the highest the lake has been in the last 3 years and now just 22 feet below the Glory Hole.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
No fishermen due to bad weather, muddy water.
Fishing remains slow with the lakes full and muddy, and no anglers most days recently.
Lake is very muddy in most areas and only a rare boat or two has ventured out. This lake is very capable of clearing up fairly fast. If anglers are wanting to get out on the lake with the current conditions, it is suggested that they wait until later.
Heavy rains all week has Lake Mendocino a big muddy mess at 125% of water capacity. No anglers ventured out this past week to report, it will take a couple of weeks to become fishable again.
Fishing remains poor with few anglers out due to bad weather conditions.
Heavy rain has the lake up to 114% capacity with water up into the marina. Most anglers stayed away this past week.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
Snow and rain continue to hamper anglers with access limited. Only a few rainbows were caught recently.
Very little action reported due to rain and snow, and few anglers out.
Marina closed for the season.
Season closed. Re-opens in April.
FALL RIVER, HAT CREEK
A few trout were caught in upper reaches of the lake.
Very little action here with few anglers.
A few spotted bass catches are being made in cuts where water is coming in, on plugs and spinners fished 15- to 20-feet deep. Some smallmouth also caught, but largemouth fishing has slowed. Trout fishing is fair in scattered areas on trolled flashers/nightcrawler rigs.
Very tough to get here because of black ice on highways, and the boat ramps are now iced over, too.
A few bass are being caught on plugs and plastics along rocky areas near the bridge.
The lake continues to spill over as the main road was closed early during the past week due to high water The road is reopened. The lake is spilling and trout plants were put on hold last week, but a double-plant is anticipated. The lake is heavily stained from the heavy inflow, and trout action has slowed. The high water this year may allow for the reopening of the Amador Trout Hatchery on a limited scale. The annual Tagged Trout Derby continues until March 19, 2017.
Smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass are abundant with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs at depths from 10 to 60 feet in the main lake from the launch ramp to Middle Bay. The lake is stained from Middle Bay to upriver as it came up 17 feet. Trout trolling has slowed with the stained water, but once the lake clears, the action should rebound. Floating wood and debris is heavy on the main lake despite three booms in the river arm.
Bass fishing remains solid with Berserk Jigs in Brown/Purple, Brown Craw, or Purple Hornet along with Pro Worms in 124p or 300 at depths to 50 feet. A 16-pound limit took first place during a tournament on Saturday, and there were 20 other boats with limits in the 12-pound range. The lake rose 30 feet in elevation during the past week to 67 percent. Floating wood and debris is a hazard for boaters on the lake.
Trout fishing remains solid for trollers working the surface on a long line as well as bank fishermen soaking trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake has risen 25 feet this past week, and is about 36 percent for the first time in recent memory. Bass are found in deeper water along steep walls, and crawdad-patterned jigs, spoons, Senkos, or plastics on a shakey head are all working. The occasional huge largemouth or spotted bass are found on rainbow-trout patterned swimbaits, but the best time for trophy largemouth and spotted bass is coming within the upcoming months. 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 closed for the season on November 6 before reopening on February 16, 2017 for camping and February 17 for fishing.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Safe ice is back and anglers have returned.
There is safe ice. Parking area near dam was scheduled to be cleared by mid-week.
Lake rose to 69 percent of capacity from 60 percent in one week. Lake is 98 percent of its historical average. The rising water has made the edges soft. There is anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of ice beneath 14 inches of snow/slush. Still not safe for fishing.
Lake is open and ready for Mackinaw anglers. It has had little pressure due to heavy snow.
Only snowmobile access. Ice hasn’t been checked since it was unsafe prior to the storms.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed for winter.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
Lake re-opened Monday after safety closure for storm. Lake is full and spilling and there isn’t much shoreline available for anglers. Some are fishing from the dam. Bite has been slow.
Charter boats stayed home for the second consecutive week. Most marinas are snowbound.
Major road and infrastructure damage has forced Pyramid to close until further notice.
Lake is frozen and ice fishing trips resumed this week. Cutthroat bite has been fair.
No access here.
Excellent week of fishing reported here. Lake has come up 3 to 4 feet but clarity has held. Boaters and bankies are both getting action. More than 50 trout weighing 2 pounds were weighed in last week.
The river has dropped to 1,000 cfs but water is coming out of Donner and Prosser and more rain is on tap through this weekend.
WEST WALKER RIVER
River has dropped back into fishable shape but there have been no reports of success.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Clear water is impossible to locate in the San Joaquin-Delta as a result of the past week of huge king tides and heavy inflow. A few small striped bass are taken on cut baits coated with scent and a 15-pound striper was landed off of the Antioch Fishing Pier on a sardine fillet. The big fish is the exception to the rule at the present time. Using vibration and scent remains the key in the muddy water. The increased flows have led to heavy water exports from the South Delta. Fresh shad are over for the season, but most shops have plenty of frozen shad.
Flows on the American hit 60,000 cfs the middle of last week. They were down to 30,400 cfs on Sunday, still way too high for steelhead fishing. Steelhead fishing has been slow since the Jan. 1 opener between Hazel Avenue and Nimbus Fish Hatchery because of the high water.
Anglers are awaiting the early February hatchery steelhead smolt release at Boyd’s Pump to spark the first good striper fishing of the year. Swmbaits tend to work better in high water conditions. Recent storms have left the Feather high and muddy.
Heavy rain and melting snow caused a major jump in inflows into the lake, bringing the level up from 408 feet a week ago to 425 feet on Sunday. Outflows were 30,000 cfs on Sunday, while inflows were down to 13,400 cfs. The rapid change in lake levels has left bass, trout and landlocked salmon fishing slow. The water temperature over the weekend was 49 degrees. The 5 mph speed limit is lifted as long as the lake is above 400 feet. Currently the Granite Bay Stage 2 and Brown’s Ravine’s Hobie Cove ramps are open.
RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was stocked with 500 pounds of hatchery rainbows last week. Trout fishing is fair, with Power Bait working best.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
After hitting 17,000 cfs the middle of last week, flows at the Delta gauge were down to 2,310 cfs on Sunday. Trout fishing has been poor.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
The river was high from Red Bluff downstream over the weekend and unfishable. It likely will be high and muddy for several days. The high water may pull sturgeon upstream.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows from Keswick Dam were up to 37,100 cfs on Sunday, effectively leaving the entire Sacramento River below Redding too high and muddy to fish.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
Swift, muddy water and lot of debris have left the Sacramento fishing poor for sturgeon. Anglers were unable to hold with 16 ounces over the weekend. Big releases from Shasta Lake are expected to keep the entire river high this week.
Lake is closed until repairs can be made to buoy line near the spillway.
CAMP FAR WEST
Lake is high and muddy with a steady current running through. Fishing is poor.
Poor water clarity makes trout fishing a stiff challenge. Catfish can be caught with stink baits where water enters the lake.
Flooding of the lower parking lot and the parking lot near the dam closed this lake on Jan. 8. Call first.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR
Access closed until spring.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR
Access closed until spring.
Lake came up more than 60 feet last week. But water has a green tint and bass have come up with the water. Lake is 80 percent of capacity and water temperature is 48 degrees. Bite is subtle. Go slow with tubes, jigs or Senkos and pay attention.
Full and very dirty with debris.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
Water has become very dirty and will take weeks to clear.
Leave this to the hunters for near term.
Crabbing held up very well and limits were the rule aboard New Sea Angler. Capt. Rick Powers is planning on running combo trips for crabs and sanddabs. Jetty fishing was so popular an observer would think it was late spring, but folks were just out celebrating the good weekend weather and getting some fresh black rockfish, kelp greenling, cabezon, lingcod and perch.
Sea Wolf made it out the Gate and had a blast with rock soles, sanddabs and plenty of crabs to go around. Shore line fisherfolk found Emeryville to be productive for striped bass and perch. Some drove down the line and fished the herring spawn off of Alameda Rock Wall for sturgeon and stripers.
The best crabbing hotspot during the wonderful weather break was 2 to 3 miles below the entrance to Humboldt Bay and in 80 feet of water. The commercial crabbing fleet went back to work and put out a lot of gear, but so far the crabbing action has held up. Jetty fishers got to fish some of their favorite spots on both jetties and tear into kelp greenling, black rockfish cabezon and perch. Red tail surf perch fishing was pretty good off of Table Bluff.
Crab counts dropped to just under full limits on some days, now that the commercial fleet is back in operation, but the counts were good and the crabs came up healthy aboard Telstar. Noyo Jetty saw some action for perch, kelp greenling and black rockfish. People did have opportunities to fish Old Mill, MacKerricher and Casper.
HALF MOON BAY
Boats came out in droves and made the most of a long weekend of great weather. Huli Cat ran weekend combo trips and was able to pull plenty of crabs and loads of sanddabs for her people. Snare casters did fairly well inside Pillar Point Harbor for rock crabs and Dungeness. Up at Pacifica the crabbing from the pier was good and there was a striper bite along the beaches during the evening. A 30 pounder was caught by staff at The Rusty Hook.
San Francisco and South San Francisco shorelines saw some action from shore with fisherfolk casting for striped bass or working herring spawn spots for sturgeon which stayed right on the herring. Boats made quick runs outside the Gate to haul up crabs and pound the sanddabs.
- Western Outdoor News