Fishing for striped bass an adventure amid controversy
Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 30, 2016.
Flows on the American were down to 7,910 cfs on Sunday, down from 20,000 cfs a week ago. Steelhead fishing has been slow since the Jan. 1 opener between Hazel Avenue and Nimbus Fish Hatchery because of numerous storms. The river should be fishable sometime this week. Expect decent numbers of steelhead below Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Drifting yarn and roe will work best in the high water.
Huge largemouth and spotted bass have been caught and released within the past week on small swimbaits near the dam. The water clarity is best in the dam area, but the Narrows is starting to clear. Bass fishing is best with plastics or jigs between 30 and 40 feet. Crappie and rainbow trout are abundant with a variety of trolling techniques, and white grubs or Speedy Shiners are working at depths from the surface to 20 feet at speeds from 1 to 3 mph. 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were split between the North Shore launch ramp and the South Shore launch ramp this week. The lake has dropped to 69 percent.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
The main Sacramento River side of the Delta remains high and muddy, requiring bank fishermen to keep 12 to 14 ounces on their lines in order to stay down. The river is dropping, and good action is expected for striped bass and sturgeon in the north Delta once the water clears. The best fishing is for sturgeon in the slough around Suisun Bay with a variety of baits, and 40 legal sturgeon were caught and released by 388 participants during the past weekend’s Diamond Classic Catch and Release Derby. The Pittsburg/Martinez area will be loaded with boats this coming weekend seeking big money during the annual Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point. Bait reservations are advised for this coming weekend as live bait will be in high demand.
DELTA REGION: San Joaquin River
Clear water is starting to appear in the south Delta, and bass fishing improved slightly with a total of 15 largemouth bass taken by 17 anglers during a weekend tournament. Normally, this is a very slow total, but it is exponentially larger than the one 13-inch fish winning a small club derby last Saturday. Striped bass fishing is slow due to cold and muddy water, but once the river clears, the action should be on. A few bluegill are taken on scented worms on a drop-shot rig in deep water in the south Delta’s sloughs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Some sturgeon are being caught in the deepwater channel. A few stripers are also being caught in the deepwater channel on jumbo minnows. Trolling for stripers has been slow.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
Anglers have been trying to fish for sturgeon at Verona and Knight’s Landing, but heavy flows have made fishing difficult. No catches were reported over the weekend. Expect the river to remain high this week.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon
It was in great shape and full of steelhead all week, and anglers did well, with most guides boating 3 to 8 fish per boat on a mix of hatchery and wild fish, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said it was running at 2500 cfs over the weekend. A storm is expected to have it unfishable Friday or Saturday. Guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service fished it Thursday and Friday and went 3 for 4 and 2 for 5. On Sunday Desautel took Rich Holland of Mission Viejo and Mark Gasich of Harbor, Ore. And they went 2 for 5.
ELKS RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk River was in good shape most of last week, but had dropped to low, clear levels by the weekend. It was 3.3 feet on Sunday. Steelhead fishing had been good, but will likely be slow until the next big rain, expected late this week.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Steelhead fishing turned on Saturday and Sunday as the Rogue dropped below 10,000 cfs at the Agness gauge. It crested at 30,000 cfs a week ago Sunday. Guides have been anchoring close to shore and running Mag Lip 3.5 plugs with good success. Many of the fish have been hatchery fish. Plunkers fishing large Spin-N-Glo from shore have been catching steelhead at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek since last Thursday. The Rogue should be in prime shape most of this week.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Oregon
The upper river continues to run high, but action improved a little last week with steelhead caught. Anglers can start keeping native and hatchery fish starting Feb. 1. Catches are now being made on side-drifted plugs with Pautzke’s or shrimp. Best colors are pink, silver and blue plugs, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. He said a few steelhead are also now moving up the Applegate River. There is a landslide below Galice, so anglers are advised not to drift down there.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Sixes has been fishing good for steelhead, but has been crowded with the Umpqua River still high most of last week. Driftboaters have been reporting two to four steelhead a day between Edson Creek and the Hughes House. Side-drifting roe has worked best.
Conditions were good on the Smith River this past week and over the weekend, and steelhead fishing was good top to bottom, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. WON Field Reporter and guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said it began on Monday for plunkers and sidedrifters, Boats were averaging 1 to 5 fish per boat, and a few over 20 pounds have been reported. Mike Lampton and Jimmy Hawkins of Kasilof, Ak., were 3 for 5 one day and 2 for 2 the next. All the fish were natives 8 to 11 pounds and were released, Desautel said. On Sunday, “I struggled and went 1 for 2 with a nice 9-pound native hen for Ron Galvan of Rocklin.”
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
Flows at Iron Gate Dam dropped to 1,060 cfs on Sunday, a good level for steelhead and trout fishing. The river is fishing best from the hatchery to Klamathon Bridge. Plugs and baits fished below divers are working best. The river is fishing for the first time in a month.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Flows at Seiad Valley dropped to 4,300 cfs on Sunday, down from 8,200 cfs the week before. It should be fishable sometime this week. Side-drifting roe and yarn will work best in the still fairly high water.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The river remains blown out, with flows of 27,300 cfs at Terwer on Sunday. The river crested at 80,000 cfs last week.
Flows Sunday at Lewiston were 294 cfs. Flows at Douglas City were 734 cfs, down from 2,800 cfs a week ago. Flows at Junction City were 1,060 cfs on Sunday, down from 3,900 cfs a week earlier. Flows at Hoopa remain high at 9,200 cfs, although they are down from 28,000 cfs a week ago. Anglers are catching steelhead on roe, plugs and flies between Junction City and Lewiston. The upper river has been fishable since the middle of last week, while the lower river remains too high to fish.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Fishing perked up this week for bass anglers tossing plugs, but still only a few anglers are out.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Fishing remains slow with few anglers on the water.
Lake is very muddy and lots of debris in the water. Fishing is poor and no anglers out.
A five-mile-per-hour speed limit has been imposed on the lake and some of the public ramps have been closed. Fishing is still poor.
Ice and snow still hampering access to lake.
Lake is muddy with few anglers out.
Very few anglers turning out here.
Stained, muddy water is still very much a factor at Lake Sonoma, which accounts for the poor bass and trout fishing this past week. The lake is still over capacity at 132%.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
A few trout are being caught, but there are lots of icy spots throughout the lake.
A few fly anglers are catching trout on woolly buggers and midges, but not much action for lure and bait anglers.
Marina is closed for the season. No reports of fish catches.
Season closed until spring trout opener.
FALL RIVER, HAT CREEK
Season is closed until spring trout opener.
Very few anglers on the water, with a few trout catches made at the upper end of the lake.
No action here due to snow and icy conditions.
No reports of anglers, as water is high due to recent rain and snowstorms.
Fair numbers of spotted bass are being caught from 30 to 50 feet deep on Hula grubs, Senko plastics and drop-shot rigs. A weekend bass tournament saw the winning team with 25 pounds total weight on Saturday. Only a few trout are being caught on trolled spinners.
Few anglers can get to the lake because of snow-filled roads. Launch ramps are iced over.
A few bass are being caught by shore anglers throwing Senko plastics and crankbaits in most areas of the lakes.
Trout plants were put on hold this week as a result of the chocolate-brown water clarity, but a plant of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows will be arriving this week. The water clarity has limited bank fishermen to a fish or three with limits hard to accomplish. Crushed garlic has been a key to success for bait anglers from the shoreline. The annual Tagged Trout Derby continues until March 19, 2017.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing is ready to begin trolling for rainbow trout near the surface as the water continues to clear. King salmon are holding up the river arm in deep water, and the extra water this winter should make for a great spring bite. Bass fishing is best with plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, or Brush Hogs at depths from 25 to 45 feet in the main lake. The lake is releasing water, and it has dropped to 89 percent.
The lake rose to 73 percent, and the water clarity has improved slightly with the week of good weather. Bass fishing is best with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot at depths from 25 to 45 feet. Berserk Jigs in Brown/Purple, Green Craw, or Purple Hornet along with Pro Worms in 124p, 261 LT, or 300.
The Glory Hole Sports Big Bass Bash was a success with a winning two-fish weight of 10.73 pounds including a largemouth bass at 8.22. A variety of techniques are effective with the fish scattered from the rising water. Plastics on the drop-shot or weedless Texas-rigs are working as well as jigs or small swimbaits. The Tuttletown launch ramp is open for the first time since June 2014 in response to the lake’s continued rise. A four-wheel drive is recommended at this ramp. The Glory Hole ramp is on the concrete with all four lanes open. Trout fishing is best in the coves and along the mouths of creek channels in the clearest waters of the lake, and bank fishing should improve with more clear weather.
The lake is reopening on February 16, 2017 for camping and February 17, 2017 for fishing with a total plant of 6000 pounds of rainbows with an average greater than 1.5 pounds released on the opening days. Trout plants of 3000 pounds per week are anticipated for the first 7 weeks of the season with additional fish from other sources possible. The Nor Cal Trout Anglers Challenge will take place on February 19.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Ice is safe and anglers are fishing but no reports of success.
Trout were caught through the ice at Mallard and Catfish Cove last week, but a crowd of anglers fishing in front of the dam over the weekend didn’t have much luck. Ice Fishing Tournament is slated for Saturday. Register at J&J Grizzly Store. Bring snowshoes to walk to the lake through deep snow. Parking at the dam is very limited.
Ramps snowed in and ice is on the lake.
Road is plowed to the dam but parking is limited. A handful of anglers have been able to pick a trout or two through the ice.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed. See you in spring.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
There has been good action in the cove that catches runoff from Park Creek and Hazel Creek. Fish are in deep water. Best catch was a 5-pound Mackinaw. Pan-size rainbows also are being caught. There is snow along the shoreline.
Only access to the lake is via charter boat. Marinas have ice and launch ramps have deep snow. Mack bite continues to be steady on the south shore for fish in the 3- to 6-pound class.
No fishing or boating until further notice due to severe storm damage suffered in January.
Deep snow has closed access.
Trout fishing is very good here and shore anglers are cashing in by using Power Bait, nightcrawlers, Rooster Tails or Kastmasters. Water is clear and cold.
River is running at a very fishable 480 cfs. Access is best below Floriston near Stateline.
WEST WALKER RIVER
River is high but clear. Access is treacherous because of ice and snow on the bank.
Hatchery steelhead smolts were released last week near Live Oak. High, muddy water limited striper success near Boyd’s Pump, where anglers have been drifting jumbo minnows and tossing rainbow trout-colored swimbaits. Visibility is around 6 inches. Some steelhead are being caught on the upper end of the river on beads and roe.
The lake was back up to 404 feet on Sunday, 4 feet higher than a week ago. The 5 mph speed limit is lifted as long as the lake is above 400 feet. Currently the Granite Bay and Brown’s Ravine’s Hobie Cove ramps are open. Bass, trout and salmon fishing has been slow because of the muddy water.
RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was stocked with 1,000 pounds of hatchery rainbows in January. Trout fishing is fair, with Power Bait working best.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows at the Delta gauge reached 9,000 cfs early last week, but were down to 1,510 cfs on Sunday. Trout fishing has been poor.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Fishing for stripers and sturgeon has been poor because of high, muddy water. The river was still out of shape over the weekend.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows from Keswick Dam remained 30,700 cfs for most of last week, but dropped to 25,600 cfs over the weekend. Trout fishing near Redding will be slow until the river drops to 10,000 cfs.
Fish can be found in deep water off points using darthead worms and deep-diving crankbbaits. Don’t overlook steep walls. Bite is better after the water has a chance to warm.
CAMP FAR WEST
Water is muddy, cold and a current continues to move through the lake. A few fish were caught last week. A seven-boat bass club gathering from Loomis was won with a 6-pound bag. Only two boats had five fish and the biggest of the day was 1.9 pounds. Water temp ranges from 45 to 47 degrees.
Muddy water continues to plague anglers. Few trout are being caught and no reports of catfish, either.
Water has a murky green tint and lake is spilling. Little angling pressure reported.
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR
Snowed in. That’s it until spring.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR
Snowed in with no access.
Water level is rising slowly. Water temp remains in the high 40s so the same slow approach that has been the case all winter is required. Water still holds some color and mid-week rain won’t help the clearing process.
Lake isn’t showing signs of clearing.
SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
Water has cleared enough for anglers to have a chance at fish.
Large swimbaits imitating juvenile salmon or trout are a good bet for largemouth. A-rigs or jigs also are worth employing. Look for openings in the grass that serve as highways for the bass. Stay away from the brown tules. The rocky areas in shallow water will warm up first and attract bass.
Local waters saw plenty of perch and some catches of striped bass. Roving herring spawns kept people watching and ever-ready to throw nets. Berkeley boats like Right Hook made many treks around the corner to head up the Carquinez Straits for sturgeon and stripers.
Very large swells limited activity, but boats including New Sea Angler did make it out by the weekend to pull crab pots and reel up sanddabs. Crabbing was good in relatively shallow water and the crabs were still in good shape. Shore fishing was very good for a mixed bag of perch, but the trick was to pick fairly protected beaches.
It was a shorefishing week featuring increasingly good sunny weather to enjoy. Catches were primarily perch, including rubberlip and pogeys on baited double-hook leaders. Constant casters did manage a few striped bass, mostly sublegal to barely-legal school fish.
Calming seas made the jetties accessible, which meant good catches of perch, kelp greenling and black rockfish. Fishing inside Humboldt Bay was okay for leopard shark, sand shark and bat rays. Crabbing inside the Bay with snares resulted in a pick at the red rock crabs, but very few Dungeness.
Catching limits of Dungeness crabs wasn’t a problem with small crowds on party boats like Telstar, but all boats had to wait until the end of the week because the swells during the week peaked at an impressive 30 feet. Jetty fishing over the weekend was good for rockfish and kelp greenling. By the weekend the swells came down enough to begin fishing a few of the shore hotspots.
HALF MOON BAY
Boats stayed tied to their docks because of big swells and lack of passengers. Some folks fished the jetty or the public pier. Jetty folks got rockfish and perch, except for a couple of guys poke-polling the low tides for eels. Pacifica Pier was closed until the weekend when people were able to catch some crabs and perch.
The shoreline of San Francisco was good for perch and decent for striped bass. South Francisco shoreline saw some flurries of striped bass and even a few sturgeon caught near Coyote Point and Oyster Point.
- Western Outdoor News