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 April 24.
With high water, striper fishing is best from shore at Boyd’s Pump and Yuba City Boat Launch. Shanghai Bend and Star Bend are under water. Pile worms and cut sardines are working best from shore. Bank fishing is crowded. Boaters are reporting fairly easy limits by anchoring in 8 to 10 feet close to shore and fishing minnows. Some sturgeon are being caught at the mouth of the Bear River. Flows from Oroville were around 30,000 cfs over the weekens.
Barretts Cove will be the location this coming Saturday and Sunday for the free Trout Derby hosted by the Merced Irrigation District. Due to high water releases out of the lake into Lake McSwain, this annual event will be held at McClure this year. Tagged trout worth from $25 to $100 will be released prior to the event, and cash prizes ranging from $500 to $50 will be awarded to the top five places for the largest trout. Bass fishing is good with Pro Worms in 124p or 300 along with Berserk jigs or plastics on a shakey head. The lake is at 66 percent, and water releases will no longer be directed by the US Army Corps of Engineers as the lake is at 67 percent of capacity or below. The launch ramps at Barretts Cove South and McClure Point are open.
Kokanee are making a pronounced appearance for trollers working the river arm at depths to 35 feet with various forms of kokanee gear. Small Apex lures, spoons, or spinners behind a dodger are productive such as Rocky Mountain Tackle’s Plankton Squid behind a Tsunami dodger. Trout plants of 3000 pounds of Mokelumne River Hatchery rainbows were released this week, and the plants will continue through the first few weeks of June. The main lake has cleared up, and the bass are visible on the beds. A few fishermen are bed fishing with Senkos or plastics. Pardee rose slightly to 94 percent.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Despite high water, striper fishing has been good near Colusa for boaters fishing jumbo minnows. Fish also are being caught on pile worms. Sturgeon have been reported near the Chico Straights and Butte City area.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Miller Park and Bright Beach have been the hot spots for striper anglers fishing from shore. Pile worms, blood worms and sardines are all working. Shore anglers are still using 8 to 10 ounces because of heavy flows. Fishing has been slow in the deepwater channel. No reports of shad yet.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
Ward’s boat launch is open. Striper fishing has been best near Colusa, with limits being caught by guides on both morning and afternoon trips. The fish are holding close to shore because of high flows. Minnows are out-producing artificials.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Despite high water, spring king salmon fishing on the lower Rogue has been fair to good. Flows were 9,500 cfs over the weekend, on the high side but fishable. Jet boaters are anchoring close to shore and fishing anchovies with spinner blades. Some guides in the best spots near the Willows, Elephant Rock and Canary Riffle are catching two to four springers a day. More than half of the fish are wild salmon and must be released. Peak season is late April and early May.
ROGUE RIVER, Shady Cove to Grants Pass, Oregon
Anglers this week have picked up a combination of springers, with a few hatchery fish that they can keep, but must release the “wild” ones. Best bet for action, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass, is to use spoons or Kwikfish wrapped with either sardine or tuna fillets, or roe. Lake fishing is still pretty good at Selmac, Applegate and Lost Creek lakes on trolled wedding rings or for bank anglers it’s Pautzke’s Fire or Power Baits. Lake Selmac is also producing some bass action on Senko plastics.
River still at 2200 cfs at Guerneville and rain this week is not supposed to raise the river. The river should drop all week and be fishable by the weekend. We got reports of small male shad in the river last week, and a few downsteam steelhead, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville.
The Smith remains open through the end of the month. Steelhead fishing has been slow, although a few fish are still around. Flows over the weekend were 6,640 cfs, or 10.3 feet, at the Jed Smith gauge. Pressure is light, although a boat or two a day are still trying their luck.
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
The entire Klamath River remains blown out. Flows Sunday at Iron Gate were down to 4,000 cfs. The next good fishing opportunity will be the salmon fly hatch in May or June.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Flows at Seiad Valley were 8,400 cfs on Sunday. Flows near Orleans were 19,100 cfs. The river is blown out for steelhead.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
The lower Klamath is high and muddy, with flows of 39,400 cfs Sunday. Fall salmon season will not open this fall on the Klamath, officials announced last week.
The Trinity is blown out for all fishing, as flows from Lewiston Dam hit 2,000 cfs on Sunday and are expected to hit 10,000 cfs by mid-week. The sheriffs in Trinity and Humboldt counties warned anglers and boaters of the dangerous conditions. Fall salmon season will be closed on the Trinity this year, it was announced last week.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Bass fishing continues to be good on small fish in shallow waters on most lures from shallows to deep waters. There were few lunker bass caught, however, and trout fishing is finally on the upswing.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Crappie fishing has been good on small jigs, while bass fishing is slow to fair. The lake is now at 72-percent capacity and the water is clearing a little.
Trout fishing has been good with most anglers getting limits of rainbows up to 17 inches on baits and trolled lures. A plant of about 2,000 pounds of rainbows is expected this week from the DFG.
Bass fishing remains fair to good on fish to about 7 pounds on jigs, drop-shots and LV500s in most brushy areas of the lake. The crappie and bluegill bite remains very good on jigs and minnows, off Redbud and most any brushy areas.
Dan Isaac of Clearlake caught and released a 10-pound striped bass while drop-shotting near the peninsula. Bass fishing remains fair on a variety of plastics, crank plugs and surface lures.
Some trout and bass are being caught, mostly on live worms in scattered areas all around the lake. The water level right near the full mark, said Christina Diaz at the lakeside resort.
Bass anglers are finding some good action this week on 1/2-ounce brown jigs or swimbaits. Crappie are also on tap for anglers targeting the brush piles in the creeks. Cherry and Dry Creek are the two popular creeks to catch decent black crappie to 15 inches.
FAR NORTH LAKE AND RIVERS
Weather finally is getting better, and many good catches of rainbows, browns and bass are being made.
The lake continues to be a hot spot for fly fishermen with midges, woolly buggers, midges, baetis and leeches, said John Dietz at The Fly Shop in Redding.
Trout fishing has been good following recent plants of fish to 2 pounds. Fly fishing has been good on copper Johns, while bait fishing is good on pink or orange Power Bait.
The river continues to run high with not much fishing action being reported.
Spotted and smallmouth bass continue to produce well on 1- to 4-pound fish, but a lake record 9-pound, 10-ounce spotted bass was caught during a bass tournament last week.
Trout, bass and salmon are being caught, but not in big numbers yet. The water level is expected to go down for the next couple of weeks with releases running about 11,000 cfs.
Limits of kokanee are being taken with 20 to 30 fish a day caught by many anglers, fishing near the 299 bridge and the east parts of the lake.
The water clarity has improved, and planted rainbows are holding close to the surface and the shoreline with bank fishermen scoring with Kastmasters, Mice Tails, trout dough bait, or nightcrawlers from the Boat House Docks to the spillway. Heavy plants will occur prior tothis Saturday’s Nor-Cal Trout Angler’s Challenge. 1200 pounds of rainbows were released this week. The bass are holding in the shallows in various stages of the spawn. The 2nd Annual Carp Bow tournament is coming within the next month.
Bass action remains solid with River2Sea SWavers or Pro Worms in various colors in the shallows as the fish are in all stages of spawning. Trout fishing is starting to come to life with quality rainbows to 19 inches taken at depths to 43 feet along with west side. The trout are loading up on the 1/2-inch threadfin shad, and they are spitting up shad on the floor of the boat when caught. The Blue Oaks and Fleming Meadows launch ramps are open, and the main lake is clear of debris. Crews are working to corral the 40-acre mess of floating and submerged logs up the river arm. The lake held at 83 percent.
Striped bass are starting to get active for trollers pulling frozen shad, sardines, or anchovies on a harness rig. The lake is slightly stained from the recent inflow, but it is clearing steadily. The lake remains high at 76 percent.
Kokanee have yet to appear, but it is just a matter of time as warm weather is needed to start up the plankton bloom. Trout fishing has been best for trollers working around the mouth of Angels Creek with blade/crawler combinations, kokanee gear, or brightly-colored spoons, spinners, or plugs. The bass bite remains good with soft plastics, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, or crankbaits in bluegill patterns as the bass have moved into the shorelines. Crappie fishing is good around flooded vegetation with mini-jigs or live minnows under a slip-float dodger. Catfishing continues to improve around submerged rocks with frozen shad, anchovies, sardines, or a ball of nightcrawlers coated with scent. The lake has risen to 82 percent and 1049.98 feet in elevation.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Guide Marc Christophel fished here last week and reported very cold water and a slow bite. “It was really, really slow,” he said. There were other boats on the water and the verdict was similar.
Lake is frozen and no reports of ice fishing.
East Fork is high and fast but turning green. West Fork is also running hard. Best bet in the area will be Markleeville Creek, which is clear and was scheduled for a trout plant before Saturday.
Still no fishing here. Roads around the lake are closed.
Ramps and parking lots are clear. Guides Marc Christophel and Shaun Rainsbarger both have been fishing for Macks and scoring with Macks weighing 2 to 5 pounds.
FEATHER RIVER (Middle Fork)
River is at flood stage but it is fishable on the edges. Water is clear.
FEATHER RIVER (North Fork)
River is running high and fast. “I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near that water,” said Sam Burschard at Caribou Crossroads.
Launch ramp at Frenchman campground opened Friday. Frenchman Campground is open to dry camping, but is the only campground open. Cars cannot get past the Forest Service Work Camp or the Frenchman Campground boat ramp. Anglers have been catching 16- to 18-inch rainbows from the shore with nightcrawlers.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Road is closed. See you in spring.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
If the rivers blow out during opening weekend, this could be a good bet. Throw bait into the deep water near the dam.
JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
Lake is full and the bite has been decent for holdover rainbows. Best fish caught last week was an 18-inch brown caught in the back of the lake. Most people are fishing from shore with nightcrawlers or Kastmasters. Best stretch has been near the first dam.
Mack bite is good and quality of fish ranges from 2 to 7 pounds. Morning bite is quick. Shallow water prospects have been hampered due to very cold water temperatures.
Water temps haven’t budged in weeks from the high 40s. Fish wait until the shallows warm to move inshore to cruise and feed.
Deep snow has closed access.
Lake has been greatly drawn down in anticipation of heavy runoff. Trout fishing is fair.
River is at flood stage to Squaw Creek. It is running high and fast, but clear, below Boca. It is not wadeable but it is possible to fish edges and catch trout.
WEST WALKER RIVER
The river is high and fast but clear. DFW and Mono County planted the streams in anticipation of the opener. Weather calls for daytime highs in the mid-50s for the opener. Overnight highs during the week are in the high 30s so snowmelt impacts should be minimal.
The river remains high, but the stripers are moving both up and down river. Bait fishing is best on the Sacramento-Delta with pile worms, sardines, or frozen shad close to the banks in the north Delta. The water is clearer and trollable below Decker Island, but the best action remains on bait. Sturgeon fishing remains best in the sloughs of upper Suisun Bay with salmon roe, eel, or ghost shrimp. Only a few six-packs remain targeting sturgeon in the Delta at the present time.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Striper trolling remains best in the San Joaquin-Delta from the Antioch Bridge to Prisoner’s Point with both deep and shallow diving lures in a variety of color patterns. The change of the tides is the best time as the bite slows once the current starts moving. The colder water temperatures have moved the female largemouth bass out into deeper water, and slowing down your presentation is a must. The reaction bite is best if you can find water temperatures over 60 degrees. A change in the restrictions to limit several areas to 5 mph occurred on April 17, and information on the closures can be located at https://www.sjgov.org/oes/.
Flows on the American River jumped from 10,000 cfs last week to 15,200 cfs on Sunday as more water was released from Folsom Lake to keep up with new inflows into the reservoir. Fishing has been poor. Discovery Park remains closed and flooded.
The Brown’s Ravine, Rattlesnake Bar, Folsom Point and Granite Bay launches are open. The lake level is 445 feet, up from 440 feet a week ago, with a water temperature of 57 degrees. Bank anglers are catching smallmouth, spotted and largemouth bass in crawfish as well as live minnows or nightcrawlers. Trout and salmon fishing remains slow. The lake remains full of floating woody debris, which has created problems for people launching boats. The state has hired a contractor to begin removing some of the wood.
RANCHO SECO LAKE
Trout fishing has been good, warming temperatures will bring on the bite for the Florida-strain largemouth here, and the bluegill.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Flows at the Delta gauge dropped from 6,000 cfs to 3,100 cfs over the weekend, but with more rain expected early in the week, trout fishing will remain poor. The river has been too high for fishing all year.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows from Keswick Dam jumped to 30,000 cfs over the weekend. Anglers have been surprised how good the trout fishing has remained for jetboaters drifting roe between Keswick and Bonneview Bridge. Guides described the action as “wide open.”
River is fishable downstream below the confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork, said Craig Newton, new owner of Will Fish Tackle in Auburn. Whether those conditions hold depends on how much snowmelt occurred during the week. A warm spell will blow out the opener.
Lake is up to 90-percent of capacity and the influx of water has changed the game. Ron Gandolfi fished last Thursday and saw a dramatic difference. “It has changed quite a bit in a week,” he said. “It’s gone up 10 feet.” The change forced Gandolfi and his clients to bounce from spot to spot. By the afternoon, they returned to their starting point and landed a 6 pounder and a couple of 2 1/2-pound spots while using ZMan worms. Water clarity is very good and water temperature is in the mid-50s in the morning before warming to 58 in the afternoon. Beware of floating debris.
CAMP FAR WEST
The lake continues to spill but clarity has greatly improved. Bass bite is improving and there have been a few crappie and catfish caught, said Kathy DeRossett from the North Shore Resort. Ron from Folsom on Friday caught 21 spotted bass. Half were keepers and the others were smaller. He used a green pumpkin Senko in five to 10 feet of water both in the main body and up Rock Creek.
Two pens holding between 300 and 400 trout of 2 pounds each, and a privately-purchased plant of 2,000 pounds went into the week last week. The trout plant included trophy trout weighing up to 7 pounds. Two more pens will be unleashed next week, as well as another private plant. Trout bite has been good for those using Power Bait or nightcrawlers from shore. Trollers have been scoring with Rapalas or Rat-L-Traps from depths of 10 to 30 feet.
Trout bite is improving, especially for trollers in front of the marina. Guide Shaun Rainsbarger fished Friday and had two limits of trout weighing 2 to 3 pounds by 11 a.m. using Spin Bugs tipped with a nightcrawler. All the fish came from the top 15 feet. Craig Newton, new owner of Will Fish Tackle in Auburn, said some of his customers have been doing well pulling Arctic Fox trolling flies (darker colors) with an action disc in front. A 5-pound bass was checked in to the Marina last week. Lake is high and spilling (103-percent of capacity) but the ramp was moved up last Friday so boaters don’t have to get wet while launching.
Bowman Lake Road and Mosquito Ridge Road both are closed for repair until June 1 and there is no access to the lake.
HELL HOLE RESERVOIR
Road damage has closed access.
Lake continues to drop and bass bite remains tough as fish have to continually re-adjust. Floating debris is a real hazard.
There is about a foot of clarity but most of the debris that was in the lake has settled. Bass bite is slow, but there are signs it is picking up. Water temperature at the inlet is 48 to 49 degrees. It is 52 degrees in the main lake. The Peninsula Ramp is now open on weekends.
An angler trolling a Rapala last week caught a pair of 5-pound rainbows. One came from the overflow area near the dam and the other near the Cascade Launch. Jim Caldwell of NID said the angler was using a gold Rapala and running it 15 feet below the surface. Water clarity is five to eight feet. Some smallmouth are being caught near the inlet, but it’s not a hot bite. The Cascade Launch was closed for one day last week for work on trees, but is open again.
Lake is accessible. The three campgrounds will open May 12 (half reservation, half first come-first served).
Water is very dirty and wind has been heavy. “If you’re knowledgeable, it’s still dangerous,” said Bruce Gibson of Paradise Tackle Co. “If you’re not, stay off.”
California Dawn had a red hot day Sunday on striped bass and halibut in the South Bay. Happy Hooker scored halibut including one hungry critter hooked simultaneously by two anglers. El Dorado pulled a 16-pound flatty from Treasure Island and Fury came down from Point San Pablo Marina to catch halibut at Angel Island. Private boaters worked Berkeley Flats for both halibut and stripers.
Rockfish and lingcod bit enthusiastically and aboard New Sea Angler the bigger fish in general came from the Point Reyes area, although the biggest lingcod (a 20 pounder) came from up off of Fort Ross. Crabbing held up fairly well, but salmon fishing was pretty slow except for a few taken near Elephant Rock. Shore fishing for perch was good near Lawson’s Landing and up at Doran Beach.
New Huck Finn had a heck of a good day on striped bass Saturday and C Gull II got bass limits. Sea Wolf and New Salmon Queen slayed the rockfish and lingcod outside the Gate where improving conditions meant improving fish counts.
Just about the only fishing was jetty and beach fishing. With good weather, folks were able to get out to favored spots on both North and South jetties where lingcod were susceptible to swimbaits and people soaked baits for cabezon, rockfish and kelp greenlings. Groundfish season and Pacific halibut season open May 1 and the town is gearing up. Meanwhile, trailer boats are running to Shelter Cove where the salmon bite turned on early in the week.
There were no solid reports of salmon action and not many boats even tried. Crabbing was very good, though, and Sea Hawk pulled limits. Noyo Jetty was popular for perch, kelp greenlings and for crabbing. Some days were calm enough for shore fishers to haul in the fish at Old Mill and down at Mendocino Headlands.
HALF MOON BAY
Queen of Hearts and Riptide fished salmon and then rockfish. Huli Cat had a good week on rockfish and crabs plus a salmon here and there. A 38-inch leopard shark was caught from the breakwater. Beach fishers were focusing more on stripers than on perch.
Wacky Jacky hit the salmon Sunday and Capt. John Dresser caught a 17 pounder at Duxbury. Lovely Martha pulled full limits of bass in the Bay. Bass Tub owner Capt. Erik Anfinson mentioned that bass and halibut have been biting well, with some limits of bass.