Fishing Line

Fishing Line: Variety – conditions, hot spots and what’s biting – is key word for anglers

A variety of conditions and results characterizes Northern California fishing waters, according to The Sacramento Bee’s newest report, with anglers finding success from the banks in some places, deep water elsewhere. Opportunities abound.
A variety of conditions and results characterizes Northern California fishing waters, according to The Sacramento Bee’s newest report, with anglers finding success from the banks in some places, deep water elsewhere. Opportunities abound.


▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER Sturgeon fishing remains best in lower Suisun Bay with the fish active and biting on both tides. Oversized sturgeon are still in the area, but there is a healthy supply of shakers along with the intermittent keeper between 40 and 60 inches at the fork. Salmon roe and eel continue to be the top baits. The Big Cut, the Benicia/Martinez Bridge, and Buoys 2 or 4 have been the top locations. Huge striped bass have been susceptible to live jack smelt. Striper fishing above Rio Vista has improved considerably with topwater lures, glide baits, and large swimbaits. Trollers are also getting in on the action as the water is clear west to the Power Lines with Yozuri Crystal Minnows or P-Line Predator Minnows combined with a Zoom Trick Worm.

▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER Topwater lures are attracting big striped bass in low light conditions, and Pencil Poppers or the hand-crafted Delta Wood Bombers are sticking the fish. Drifting live shiner minnows or soaking frozen shad have also been effective while fly fishermen are scoring with Clouser Minnows. The bass are in the shallows, and ima Squarebill crankbaits in crawdad or bluegill patterns are effective in calm conditions while Persuader spinnerbaits in chartreuse/white are working when the wind is blowing. Catfish are showing up in the south Delta near Holland Tract on sardines or clams. Sturgeon fishing near the Antioch Power Plant has improved with ghost shrimp.

▪ FEATHER RIVER Low flows are favoring bank anglers, who are finding stripers at Shanghai Bend, Boyds Pump and Beercan Beach. Jumbo minnows as well as cut bait are working. Schools of stripers moved into the lower river this past week.

▪ LAKE AMADOR — A double-plant of 2400 pounds of Mt. Lassen Trout Farm rainbows were released into the lake prior to Saturday’s NorCal Trout Angler’s Derby, and 10% of the plants were in excess of 4 pounds. 175 participants fished the derby, and the shorelines were crowded from the Boathouse Docks to beyond the Spillay. The lake is inching up with inflow from Jackson and Rock Creeks, and it is closer to 13 feet from spilling. Jointed Rapalas in firetiger were the top lures in the stained water, but the clarity continues to improve on a daily basis. Submerged debris remains in the lake, creating a cause for caution for boaters in certain areas. From the shorelines, pink or orange Power Worms or Mice Tails are working as the rainbows are oriented towards the shoreline and close to the surface.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa – Sturgeon fishing was very good over the weekend. Bank anglers scored at Knight’s Landing, while boaters anchoring in 10 to 12 feet of water above deeper holes also did well. Combinations of pile worms, eel, nightcrawlers and ghost shrimp produced. Stripers also are arriving in greater numbers, and are taking live minnows, cut bait and plugs. Some think the big striper run has begun early.


▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon – Rains brought the river up over the weekend just in time to give the last of the late spawners a chance to get up the river and to bring the spawned out fish back downriver, according to WON Staffer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, who said there were still unspawned fish throughout the river, held back by the low flows. The river closes March 31.

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon – Rains over the weekend brought the river up and more springers entered into the river, although there have only been a half dozen or so caught so far this early in the season. Peak season is April and May. The river had been low and clear, but came up to 2600 cfs on Sunday and was expected to go up to 5,000 cfs this week, prime flow for springer fishinger, according to WON Staffer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer echoed the report: “Super low clear river conditions made fishing for spring Chinook and steelhead very difficult. The weekend storm did a lot to change that condition for the good. Over the next week angler should be able to get a last push of steelhead entering the river. I am also betting that by the middle of the week there will be all kinds of people shouting “fish on” as the spring Chinooks start to enter the Rogue River in large numbers.”

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon Fishing remains good, though it slowed a little with weekend rain. The river rose a little on Sunday, but fishing should be fantastic with prime water conditions by mid-week, said Troy Whitaker, guide at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. He suggested anglers should use small pieces of roe with Puffballs. Go to the darker colored yarn balls. Also the bigger, darker plugs will produce. Good numbers of steelhead are in local waters, and some springers should be moving up soon. The Applegate and Illinois rivers remain pretty good for steelhead anglers, as they were not muddied from recent rains, but remain a good color. Anglers should be using Cleos, nightrawlers and Puffballs on the Applegate, but live bait (nightrawlers) are not permitted on the Illinois River.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Oregon - Springer season is here and last weeks low, clear water had winter steelhead anglers picking up a few early spring chinook's while they were sidedrifting, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. Talk about a nice surprise for a steelhead fisherman. Saturday evening brought heavy rains to the Umpqua Valley. River levels remain fine, however the water color became dark after the ground wasn't able to soak up all the rain fast enough. This much needed rain will bring the springer's coming fast and the steelhead running even quicker to stay ahead of them.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Roseburg, Oregon Low, low water conditions made winter steelhead fishing difficult last week. The viewing station at the Winchester Dam has had many steelhead with scarred up sides, and they have been missing much of their fins. Not sure why the fins look chewed up, but the scars are from early season high water conditions, said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. The fish end up in brush looking for cover to get out of the heavy currents. Recent rains this last weekend were much needed and should make the next couple weeks of fishing very good.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Canyonville, Oregon - River has been too low to fish over the last week.


▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam – Flows spiked to 1,300 cfs on Sunday below Iron Gate Dam. Steelhead running 2 to 6 pounds have been caught between Iron Gate Dam and I-5 on nightcrawlers behind divers and plugs.

▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp – Flows at Seiad Valley rose 400 cfs from last week to 2,450 cfs. Anglers have been catching adult and halfpounder steelhead side-drifting roe or nightcrawlers, and pulling plugs. The river continues to be in good shape for steelhead fishing.

▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glenn – Weekend rains were beginning to cause the lower Klamath to rise on Sunday afternoon, when flows hit 10,300 cfs. Some halfpounders and adult steelhead have been caught.

▪ TRINITY RIVER – Steelhead fishing continues to slow down, but a mix of fresh and spawned out fish are being caught by drift boaters and bank anglers in the Lewiston and Douglas City areas. Rapalas are working well for the steelhead, as well as sea-run brown trout. Mayfly hatches also are providing afternoon action for fly anglers.


▪ BERKELEY – Berkeley Charter Boats got back to fishing, with a trip aboard New El Dorado III, resulting in 8 halibut and a striped bass. Other boats fished Berkeley Flats for a pick at the halibut. Pier anglers caught mostly perch.

▪ BODEGA BAY – Exceptionally good fishing (matching the weather) awaited action-hungry anglers. The jetty produced perch and other fish. Local beaches saw red tail perch and calico perch. A 17-pound striper was taken at Dillon Beach. Divers on the Sonoma coast speared 13-pound and 21-pound lingcod.

▪ EMERYVILLENo party boat reports, though their voice mail greeting does mention striped bass trips in March. Shore fishers tied into striped bass and perch. Boaters drifted or trolled for halibut and bass.

▪ EUREKA – People were able to fish the length of the jetty at times during the week and over the weekend, which resulted in good catches of kelp greenling, black rockfish and cabezon. Red tail perch bit like crazy at Dry Lagoon and Stone Lagoon. Crabbing from local piers was fair at best for red rock crabs.

▪ FORT BRAGG – Party boats Telstar and Sea Hawk racked up easy limits of heavy crabs for their customers. Shore anglers did exceedingly well on rockfish, greenling, cabezon and lingcod, fishing the recently-opened area call “the Old Mill” just north of Noyo Harbor.

▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA – At Half Moon Bay, the rock wall at the Harbor produced surprisingly big Dungeness crabs, along with rockfish. Points south, including Pompano, San Gregorio and Pescadero gave up cabezon, lingcod and rockfish. Striped bass up to 19 pounds were taken from the surf at Pacifica.

▪ SAN FRANCISCO – Halibut and striped bass were the go-to fish for Bass Tub and Argo fishing the South Bay, Central Bay or San Pablo Bay. South Bay saw great fishing from Coyote Point to the Central Bay. Running across the Bay to Berkeley or the Alameda Rock Wall was a successful strategy for both halibut and bass. Alcatraz produced halibut and perch.


▪ BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 33-percent capacity. The best fishing was at the dam and the inlet. Rainbows were schooling up at the inlet to prepare for the spawn.

▪ CAPLES LAKE – The lake is at 74.5-percent capacity. Caples Lake Resort reported there was open water on the north side of the lake in front of the resort that was good for shore fishing. Ice at the dam and spillway was melting and ice fishing was not recommended.

▪ CARSON RIVER (East) – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle reported he hadn’t seen any fishermen in the restricted section below Hangman’s Bridge. Fishing has been slow all winter.

▪ DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 58-percent capacity. The shore bite was slow, according to Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing with the trout loading up in the coves to spawn. A boater caught limits of rainbows on flasher/threaded nightcrawlers, though. The Honker Cove boat ramp could have a dock in place by April 1, while the Camp 5 ramp may not get a dock with the low water level.

▪ DONNER LAKE – The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Shore fishing was slow. Boaters were doing well on macks either jigging or trolling at 80 to 120 feet deep on isolated schools of fish located by metering around deeper water with sonar electronics.

▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 37-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported a float tube flyfisherman did well near the boat ramp using an olive Wiggle Tail for 16- to 17-inch rainbows. Four shore anglers caught fourteen 16- to 18-inch rainbows at Crystal Point on nightcrawlers.

▪ GOLD LAKES BASIN The road to Gold Lake is still officially closed and there’s a $250 fine for going through the signs.

▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 79.5-percent capacity. With the great weather and excellent access, fishing should be good trolling a dodger/worm for planter rainbows.

▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Shore anglers were picking up some nice holdover rainbows at the dam and near the campgrounds on nightcrawlers.

▪ JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR — The lake is at 97-percent capacity. Call the Sierraville Ranger Station during the week to find out if the roads are open. The rangers were issuing tickets for going past the “closed road” signs.

▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) – The lake was stocked by the DFW this past week and fishing was good at the first dam for shore anglers. Smallmouth bass fishing was good in the shallows with the bass spawning and guarding nests. Release the big females to finish their job.

▪ LAKE TAHOE Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported picking up browns to 4 1/2 pounds trolling Storm ThunderStiks in 30 feet of water north of Cave Rock. Mack trolling at Tahoe City was tough since the fish were feeding heavily on shrimp and minnows, but he was still able to scratch out limits. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported the boats were doing well for macks at Rubicon and Sugar Pine. One trip produced limits of 5 to 7 pounders at 60 to 90 feet deep mooching live bait, though most trips yielded limits of 3 to 5 pounders at 80 to 140 feet deep.

▪ LOON LAKEThe lake is at 48-percent capacity. Trollers with small boats were doing well for a mix of browns and rainbows. The main ramp was still closed though there is no good reason for the gate to be locked, with no snow blocking the access, so boaters were launching at the gravel ramp at the dam.

▪ PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 23.5-percent capacity. At this low level, few anglers were bothering with the lake. Those that were fishing were after smallmouth bass to 2 pounds along the dam.

▪ PYRAMID LAKECrosby’s Lodge and Sierra RV hosted 250 contestants at the Ken Hembree Fishing Derby this past weekend. Top fish was a 21 pounder caught by Jimi Crowley of Spanish Springs on a black jig cast into 8 feet of water from a boat off the Nets. Crowley also caught a 15 pounder flyfishing at the Nets on the second day of the derby after the wind came up and blew the boaters off the lake.

▪ RED LAKE – By last report, the lake was still frozen, but use caution if any open water is showing along the edge of the lake. Ice fishermen were doing well on cutthroats using bay shrimp.

▪ SILVER LAKE – The lake is at 69-percent capacity. Shore fishing was good near the dam.

▪ STAMPEDE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Trollers in small boats launched off the shore were picking up some 15-inch kokanee.

▪ TOPAZ LAKE — The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week.

▪ TRUCKEE RIVER – Above the Boca Outlet, the action was 50-50 nymphs/dries, especially BWO. Below Boca, it was 70/30 nymphs/dries and streamers in the deeper water to Stateline.

▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 76-percent capacity. Mack trolling was sporadic with a few big fish showing trolling the ledges at 50 feet deep with a herring /dodger.

▪ WEST WALKER RIVER – The weather was beautiful this past week, but no one was fishing, according to Sam Foster at the Toiyabe Motel.


▪ CAMANCHE LAKE – 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Trout Farm rainbows were released into the lake with 600 pounds at the South Shore Launch Ramp with the remainder at the South Shore Pond this past week. An additional 590 pounds of catchables were dumped at the North Shore Launch Ramp by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Jointed Rapalas are claiming the largest rainbows with the area around Big and Little Hat Islands and the Narrows remaining the top locations for trollers. Bass fishing has been solid with plastics, Senkos, or jigs, but boaters need to be cautious while running outside of the main channel due to unmarked rockpiles. The Central Valley Anglers Club Open Derby at the South Shore Launch Ramp is scheduled for March 28.

▪ DON PEDROThe bass have moved into the shallows at depths from 5 to 20 feet, and the reaction bite with ripbaits or crankbaits has been solid. Topwater lures are working in the early mornings or evenings in the shallows of less than 10 feet. Huddleston ROF 5 are also effective for big bass. Live minnows are working from the shorelines. The trout bite continues to improve with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing putting his clients onto limits working throughout the day with bright spoons fast-trolled on lead core line early in the morning before slowing down with nightcrawlers behind a small dodger by mid-morning. The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp is open with one lane open, but Blue Oaks is closed.

▪ LAKE McCLURE – The lake is holding at 8% of capacity, and the launch ramps remained closed. The only access for boats is from the shoreline for small portable vessels such as kayaks or canoes. Bass tournaments scheduled for McClure are being switched to neighboring reservoirs such as Don Pedro for the spring months. As a result, few fishermen are heading to the lake.

▪ LAKE McSWAIN – Trout fishing has improved from the shoreline near the Brush Pile, across from the Marina, or the Handicapped Docks with green garlic Power Eggs or similarly bright colors of trout dough bait. Trolling is also improving up the river arm from Gilligan’s Island to the Floating Restrooms with pink Uncle Larry’s spinners behind a flasher or Rapalas in bright colors. Trout plants from Calaveras Trout Farm have been limited to once per month. The annual Spring Trout Derby is scheduled for the weekend of April 11/12 with registration available at

▪ NEW MELONES – Several large bass were landed in the past week as the fish are on the beds and susceptible to Senkos and Brush Hogs. Heavy football head jigs in 1/2- to 3/4-ounce with a California Reservoir Lure jigs off of the bottom for numbers at depths from 30 to 40 feet while crankbaits, spinnerbaits, or ripbaits in areas holding schoolie fish are also producing. The swimbait bite has slowed up, although smaller swimbaits such as K-Tech’s Swing Impacts, Slim Thrashers, or Skinny Dippers are working on a jighead. Trout fishing from the banks is with trout dough bait or inflated nightcrawlers near the Highway 49 Bridge, Glory Hole Cove, or Glory Hole Point. A few kokanee are emerging, and the kokanee bite should take off soon. Catfishing is solid with mackerel, frozen shad, or nightcrawlers near submerged structure.

▪ LAKE PARDEE Trout action has slowed since the opening weekend, as the fish are dispersing throughout the lake from the confines of the launch ramp cove. An additional plant of 2000 pounds of Calaveras Trout Farm rainbows was released into the lake this week. The trout action has improved from trollers in the main lake or upriver while bank fishing is “hit or miss” with the rainbows schooling from location to location. Kokanee to 13 inches have created interest from the surface to 15 feet in depth with small spoons or spinners tipped with corn. Bass fishing has been best up the river arm near Indian Head Rock with drop-shot plastics. Reconstruction of the Recreational Vehicle Park will result in the lake’s closure on July 10. All boats are required to pass a Quagga Mussel inspection prior to launching.

▪ LAKE TULLOCH Plans have been announced to drain the lake in September to meet agricultural and environmental obligations, but it appears that the lake will be open for the summer months.


▪ AMERICAN RIVER – Steelhead fishing remains slow. Some stripers are showing up at the mouth.

▪ FOLSOM LAKE – A few kings were caught trolling near the dam last week, but overall trout and salmon fishing is slow. There also have been some bass caught by boaters and bank anglers.

▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE – Trout fishing is good. Power Bait has worked best, along with nightcrawlers. The lake will be heavily stocked ahead of the March 28-29 trout fishing derby.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir – Flows are down to 475 cfs at Dunsmuir and trout fishing is fair. Fly anglers are using rubber legs and prince nymnphs.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff – Plugs are catching rainbows between Redding and Anderson, where fly fishing also has been good. Daytime caddis hatches also have kept fly anglers busy.


▪ AMERICAN RIVER — With no more rain, the river was running lower and gin-clear with little, if any, fishing pressure, according to the Georgetown Ranger Station.

▪ BULLARDS BARThe lake is at 62-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi fished here this past Monday and reported catching a bunch of 12- to 13-inch males on worm-head rigged Senkos in a shad/kokanee color. His client stuck a 4 1/2-pound spot on his first cast of the day, and later Gandolfi hooked a big 8.2 pounder on a point in Willow Creek. The fish were located on points, walls, and flats at 10 to 15 feet deep.

▪ CAMP FAR WEST – The lake is full—only a couple feet below the spillway. North Shore Resort reported the bass fishing was slow. The water clarity was good.

▪ COLLINS LAKEThe lake is 25 feet from full and scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. The lake received an 1800-pound private trophy trout this past week. Trollers and shore anglers were catching lots of limits. The big fish of the week was a 6 1/4-pound rainbow caught from the shore at the Beach by Hannah Milam of Marysville. Bass fishing was improving as the fish moved into the shallows to spawn.

▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR – The lake is at 93-percent capacity and scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported that trollers were picking up good numbers of the 2- to 2 1/2-pound pen-reared rainbows that were released in Feb. One boat scored using a flasher/Rapala out past the buoy line toward Keystone Cove.

▪ FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR The lake is at 41-percent capacity. Shore anglers were still picking up a few rainbows and browns on nightcrawlers.

▪ LAKE OROVILLEThe lake is at 50-percent—up 2 feet this last week to 140 feet from full. WON Staffer Pat Young fished with guide Ron Gandolfi this past week on a rainy day and caught 20 to 25 fish to 2 pounds on darthead and shakeyhead worms on points and walls in the West Branch and the upper end of the Slot. The fish were spread out from the bank to 15 feet deep with many fish guarding nests. The water temp was 55 to 57 degrees. On a sunny day this past weekend with 3 clients, Gandolfi scored 30 fish on a half-day charter using wacky rigged Senkos on the same structure.

▪ ROLLINS LAKE – The lake is at 97-percent capacity. Caden Caldwell at NID reported bass fishermen were catching limits of fish to 4 pounds on tubes fished on the coves near the inlet. Trout fishing was slow.

▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE – The lake is at 69-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported trollers were picking up limits of rainbows to 14 inches on flasher/worms at the dam. Smallmouth bass to 2 1/2 pounds were hitting plastic worms on rocky banks.

▪ SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR – The lake was stocked by the DFW late last month so there should still be a decent bite using nightcrawlers and floating dough bait.

▪ STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR The lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. The lake level was at 60-percent-- too low for launching anything but a cartopper, kayak or canoe. Ponderosa Cove and the boat ramp area were open to the public for shore fishing.

▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY – The lake was at 133.6-foot elevation at press time—79-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the bass fishing was good as the fish began moving into the coves to spawn on the tule banks, in the weed beds, and around submerged trees.


▪ LAKE ALMANOR The brown trout are moving into the shallows around the lake. Both the east shoreline and west side are holding baitfish and browns--you’ll just have to move around. The fish have been hammering black and silver Rapalas. This can be some of the most exciting action of the year and it is just getting started.

▪ BAUM LAKE With nice sunny days, the hatches have begun. Hatches of BWO's and midges have been occurring daily. The action continues to be steady with the good weather for mostly rainbows but also a few brown trout.

▪ MCCLOUD RESERVOIR This impoundment sees very little pressure in the winter months. Check out the waters near the northern portion of the lake. Your best chances occur midday up near where the upper McCloud comes into the lake.

▪ PIT RIVERBoth the fishing and water conditions have been rated from good to great by the Fly Shop in Redding. A few March browns are showing up. Most of the fishing pressure has been at Pit no. 3.

▪ SHASTA LAKEThe bass are already up on the banks. Concentrate on the early and late shallow bites with reaction baits. Trout trollers are finding limits in the top 40 feet with blue and white Wiggle Hoochies or rolled anchovies. You’ll find mostly brown trout in Hirz Bay.

▪ WHISKEYTOWN RESERVOIR Not quite ready yet. One 4 1/2-hour trip produced not a single bite.

– Western Outdoor News