‘Salmon cannon’ gives fish a much-needed boost over dams
Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Dec. 11.
4,750 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked during the month of November including 100 tagged fish once the annual Trout Derby started on November 24. 900 more pounds were stocked in December with more to come on a weekly basis. Bank fishing is best with trout dough bait, and the Blue Dock has been a hot area for both trout and catfish. Anchovies are working for the whiskerfish, and a 27 pounder was landed last week.
Anglers are now focusing on steelhead, which are being caught near Watt Avenue and Howe Avenue on roe, nightcrawlers and beads. Kastmasters also are working. There is a mix of wild and hatchery fish up to 3 pounds. Salmon fishing has been slow. Salmon season closes Dec. 16.
DELTA REGION: Sacramento River
The sturgeon bite continues in Suisun Bay with salmon roe being the top bait. Grass shrimp is also getting some play, and private and partyboats are getting in on the action. With the better tides in the evenings this week, boats that have stayed out past dark are finding the best action at the start of the incoming tide. Roe/Ryer Island, Chain Island, the Big Cut, and now Montezuma Slough are the top locations for sturgeon while Broad Slough has produced striped bass. The colder water temperatures have slowed down the troll bite for stripers, but live mudsuckers continue to produce. The troll bite should be back on once the water temperature stabilizes. The clear water in the Port of Sacramento has drawn bait into the area, and the north Delta around Liberty Island has slowed down for linesides.
Mormon Emigrant Trail that connects Highway 50 to Highway 88 near Silver Lake is closed for the winter.
NORTH COAST RIVER
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings
Salmon fishing is slow, while low, clear water has kept steelhead anglers away. The river was 1,300 cfs over the weekend, its lowest level since early November. Most of the salmon have already spawned. Expect good steelhead fishing after the next rain.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Salmon fishing has been slow because of low, clear water. Expect one final school of salmon to arrive after the next rain. This week's forecast calls for dry weather.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Steelhead fishing remains slow, despite good conditions on the Rogue for anchoring and running MagLip plugs. Salmon season is over.
ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Oregon
Some summer steelhead are still around and winter steelies are showing now, too, said guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. Anglers can catch them on side-drifted yarn balls, Pautzke’s salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, roe or Puff Balls. Cohos can be taken on pink spinners or jigs. Trout action is good for anglers on Applegate Lake and also on Lost Creek Lake, on floating bait or trolled lures.
Fishing picked up this past week with high tides and the mouth remaining open to bring in some new fish. According to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville, “There are still a fair number of steelhead in the 2- to 5 pound range, but now some larger adults are also showing up. Long term weather forecast is showing continued clear weather with no precipitation. However, both reservoirs are close to full and are dumping a combined total of 300 cfs. Add some creek water and you have a steady flow around 370 cfs, keeping the river open to fishing. Little Cleo spoons, bait or jigs under floats, and small flies like comets, bosses, crystal buggers and small intruders have been working best.”
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Salmon fishing has slowed with low, clear water. Another batch of salmon is expected after the next rain, along with the first steelhead of the season.
The river dropped to 13.8 feet, or 2,00 cfs, at the Dr. Fine Bridge gauge over the weekend. Salmon and steelhead fishing is slow, with almost no driftboats on the water. Anglers expect big numbers of steelhead to arrive after the next rain.
KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook
The river is closed to salmon fishing. Steelhead fishing has been very good near Hornbrook. Small plugs and worms fished below divers are working best. Fly anglers are catching steelhead on beads below indicators. Flows over the weekend at Iron Gate Dam were 1,002 cfs, down from 1,150 cfs a week ago.
KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Salmon season is closed. Steelhead fishing is good near Happy Camp, with lots of halfpounders and some larger adult fish. Small plugs and yarn and roe are working best. Flows at Seiad Valley area 1,750 cfs. Flows at Orleans are 3,665 cfs.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Fishing is slow, although some fresh winter fish have been reported. Flows near the mouth at Terwer are 7,529 cfs.
Steelhead fishing has been good near Douglas City and Junction City. The steelhead are running 4 to 6 pounds, with about half of the fish hatchery fish. The water is getting low and clear. Any rain should bring in fresh fish from the Klamath, where larger fish are reported to be staging. Flows at Lewiston are 281 cfs, while flows at Douglas City area 338 cfs, flows at Junction City area 370 cfs, and flows at Hoopa are 1,605 cfs.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Smallmouth and largemouth bass action was fair for bass anglers tossing rip baits and drop-shot rigs, working the northern parts of the lake. Most of the fish are on the small side. Trout catches were fair on a variety of trolled lures.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
A few bass and crappie have been taken, but fishing pressure is low.
Very few fishermen are venturing out, but for those who are, the reports are good for catching small bass, bluegill and crappie. A few big bass were caught and released, a relief after the dieoff this summer.
A few bass have been caught, but not many anglers are seen here.
The water level remains slow, but anglers are finding good action for bass and bluegill, said Christina Diaz at the resort.
The bass bite has been on the slower side with anglers slowing their presentation down with jigs, spoons, plastic worms and jerk baits. Some trolling anglers are still picking up a few trout and landlocked steelhead in the top 15 feet of water, top-lining 100 feet behind the boat.
UPPER BLUE LAKES
Trout fishing has been on the slow side at the upper lake, and a few bass have been caught at the lower lake.
FAR NORTH LAKES AND RIVER
Angling continues to be just fair with a few fish caught by anglers fast trolling hardware and a few fish caught slow trolling ‘crawlers. Most of the fish caught were smaller 12- to 15-inch rainbows. There is a lot of fishing pressure in and around the coves on the South end of the lake, with bank and fly fishermen picking up fish. Bank fishermen are catching fish with suspended ‘crawlers and/or Power Bait while fly fishermen are catching fish on a variety of flies, adjusting sizes and colors based upon weather conditions.
Trout fishing is good for small rainbows on Power Baits and fly fishermen are scoring with midges and woolly buggers.
Marina is closed for the season, and only a few shore anglers getting an occasional trout.
The marina is shut down for the winter. A few shore anglers are still picking an occasional trout on Power Bait, worms or flies.
Trout fishing remains fair on Power Baits from shore near the marina, with boaters using Power Baits and trolled lures at the upper end of the lake.
Areas 3 & 4 continue to produce trout action for fly fishermen working midges and stone fly nymphs.
Fishing has been good for trout to 3 pounds. The McCloud Arm is good for some browns and the main body out in front of the dam is good for rainbows. Bass fishing is awesome for numbers! Bass pro Howard caught 61 keeper spotted bass, all on plastics. Only seven were over 2 pounds and his best five went 12 pounds, 14 ounces. These were caught on the main body in deeper coves 5 to 20 feet deep. About any plastic worm or Ned rig fished fairly slow is working.
Fishing remains on the slow side on the lake, with anglers preferring the trout action in the river below the dam, and most catches are being made on Power Baits.
Fishing remains slow with only a few anglers picking up a kokanee on trolled lures, or bass on plastic worms in the brushy areas near the 299 Bridge. Marina is closed for the winter, and will re-open in April.
Another 1800 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery plants were split between the North Shore launch ramp, South Shore launch ramp, and South Shore Pond during the past week, and trolling continues to be best with 3-inch white grubs at speeds from 1.4 to 1.6 mph within 15 feet of the surface. Limits are possible, but heavy boat traffic over the weekend slowed down action for most. Big largemouth bass continue to be found with ripbaits or plastics on the drop-shot at depths to 35 feet. The lake held at 70 percent.
The trout bite continues to impress with rainbows to 5 pounds landed this week on shad-patterned spoons at 3 to 4 colors of leadcore, according to guide Monte Smith of Gold Country Guide Service. The key has been to find the trout busting the surface or the shad schools. Diving birds are an indicator of the shad schools, and although there are few birds on the lake, finding birds is a good technique. The bass continue to hold in deeper water from 25 to 40 feet, and plastics on the drop-shot, swimbaits on a slow-roll, or jigs remain the top baits. The lake held at 80 percent this week.
The bass bite is improving with more active fish holding around the thermocline from 25 to 40 feet with jigs, plastics on the drop-shot, or swimbaits on a slow-roll. The New Jen Bass Tournament over the past weekend produced a winning limit at nearly 16 pounds with a big fish at 6.87 pounds. The second big fish was 5.75 pounds by the second-place team so the larger fish are getting active. The bass are oriented to the shad schools and following the balls of bait. The lake held at 65 percent.
Several large rainbows to 6 pounds have been landed by trollers this week, but patience and time on the water is necessary for success. The rainbows are found primarily near the mouth of the river arm and upriver with shad-patterned spoons at depths to 30 feet. Bank fishing will improve in the coming weeks as the trout move towards the surface and the shorelines. Bass fishing remains best with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs for numbers, and the big fish time of late January into February with swimbaits is only weeks away. The lake held at 83 percent.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Road is closed for the winter at the second gate.
Very little pressure here.
Water is getting colder and trout are becoming more lethargic. Very few anglers out and none are reporting success. There is ice on the edges in the morning but it quickly melts, said Jeanne Graham and J&J’s Grizzly Store.
The Mackinaw bite slowed a bit but success was possible with perseverance. Macks continue to be caught from shore near the boat launch.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Roads are open but overnight lows are in the sub-teens, so expect icy conditions. No reports of anglers giving it a try last week, said Mark Tieslau of Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
A pair of anglers gave this a go last week and fishing was good enough for them to run back into Markleeville for more nightcrawlers and Power Bait. They had four trout to 3 1/2 pounds on their first session before needing more supplies, said Todd Sodaro from Creekside Lodge in Markleeville.
The fishing is good but anglers are scarce. Macks are willing if anglers will bundle up and get after them.
Fishing for trout from shore is decent near Prosser Creek and near the dam. There is ice in the morning near the creek but it thaws as the sun hits.
Action for large cutthroat trout is steady by boat and shore but the really big trout have been harder to come by. Calm weather makes the trout wary, but colder water temperatures will draw trout to the shallows for warmer conditions.
Lake is frozen. Skaters and ice anglers have been out in force.
Small Macks to 15 inches are being caught by trollers. Planted rainbow can be caught from shore near the first dam and the narrows. Use Power Bait or nightcrawlers.
Lake is closed to fishing. It will re-open Jan. 1.
The river has dropped down to 600 cfs and is now wadeable, but not crossable. Best bet is to continue to fish the edges with large attractor patterns, said Miles Zimmerman of Mountain Sports and Hardware in Truckee.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
More and more striped bass of legal size are moving into the system, and the San Joaquin from the Antioch Bridge to the mouth of Three-Mile Slough has been the top area. Discovery Bay is normally the top spot for striped bass in December, but with the water temperatures much warmer than normal, the stripers are still at least a month late in arrival. Largemouth bass fishing is best with ripbaits, Senkos, or plastics on the drop-shot in 6 to 12 feet of water. Crappie action has improved considerably in Whiskey Slough or near Paradise Point with medium minnows. Fresh shad is still available in Stockton-area shops, but this may be short-lived with the colder water temperatures.
The Outlet Hole closed Oct. 15. Salmon fishing is slow and closes riverwide Dec. 16. A few stripers are being caught near Boyd’s Pump and Shanghai Bend on cut anchovies and sardines. Steelhead fishing is fair in the Low Flow section as well as near the mouth of the Yuba River.
Folsom Lake is at 429 feet, down 1 foot from last week. Full pool is 466 feet. The water temperature is 57 degrees. Trout fishing is slow. Bass fishing has slowed down, but some spotted bass and smallmouth are being reported.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
Trout fishing has slowed with winter weather near Dunsmuir.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Fishing for salmon is slow in the Woodson Bridge area. It is slow above Colusa. Salmon season closes Dec. 16.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows from Keswick Dam remained near 4,980 cfs. Salmon fishing has heated up again at the Barge Hole, where bright late-fall kings have arrived. The season closes Dec. 16. The fish are bright and averaging around 6 pounds, with several in the mid-teens reported last week. FlatFish plugs are working well with sardine wraps, although roe also is working well. A few steelhead are being caught. Trout fishing is only fair near Redding.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Salmon fishing has slowed down in the mid-town area between Miller Park and Garcia Bend, with very few kings still being caught. The season closes Dec. 16. Fishing is slow at the Port of Sacramento and in the deepwater channel.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa
Fishing for catfish has been good at Knight’s Landing. More sturgeon have shown up near Verona and Knight’s Landing, where roe and eel are working best at Second Beach. A few small stripers also are being caught. Salmon fishing is slow. The salmon season closes Dec. 16.
Bass guide Lunker Larry Hemphill made a scouting trip last week and reported the bass appear to be 50 feet deep. The lake is 74 percent of capacity and the water temperature is in the mid-50s. The dock at Dark Day has been pulled out of the water.
CAMP FAR WEST
Bass bite slowed down with very little angling pressure last week. Lake is between 80 and 85 percent of capacity.
Toplining for trout can be effective and just about any lure will work. Kastmasters, Brad’s Cut Plugs, flasher/dodgers and hoochies get results for trollers. Big fish continue to be reeled in at the beach by anglers using Power Bait. Water temperature in the morning is 53 degrees, but warms up to four degrees by the afternoon.
No angling pressure here last week, according to Skipper’s Cove Marina.
Trout bite is very good here. Panther Martins cast from the shore between the boat ramp and inlet are getting quality rainbows and the occasional brown trout. Lake is very low.
Lake has turned over. Spotted bass are taking tubes, jigs, worms, drop-shots, dartheaded worms and Senkos off deep points and walls. Find fish shallow to 30 plus feet. Most action is on the main body but there are bass in the coves.
Anglers are getting smallmouth bass to 3 pounds along the Cascade shore to the spillway, off the Ditch Digger’s House and from the shore at the Marina, said Jim Caldwell, supervisor for the Nevada Irrigation District. Nightcrawlers or Rapalas are working best. Lake is six to eight feet from capacity and water is very clear.
Throw swimbaits at the riprap in the afternoon for a chance at largemouth bass weighing 4 to 6 pounds. Don’t expect numbers.
Rockfish, lingcod and Dungeness were the target species for Berkeley boats. California Dawn had slightly higher counts of crabs, possibly due to larger commercial operations packing it in for the time being. Lingcod counts were a fish per rod to a fish and a half per rod and rockfish limits were the rule aboard Happy Hooker, California Dawn and other Berkeley boats.
On some days boats got limits of crabs and on some days less, but half-limits were the lowest counts. Calm seas made for fabulous lingcod fishing and easy limits of rockfish including colorful fish like reds and coppers and chinas, for boats including New Sea Angler fishing the reef zones down off of Point Reyes. Beach fishers had good catches of barred surfperch, redtail and rainbow perch.
New Salmon Queen came close to limits of lingcod with 15 for 9 people. New Huck Finn, Sea Wolf and Tigerfish all worked the Marin Coast or the Farallones to put away limits of rockfish, some nice lingcod to about 20 pounds, plus good counts of crabs. The Emeryville shoreline was a good bet for shore fishers seeking perch and striped bass.
Crabbing was good for people fishing from piers inside Humboldt Bay and outside the Bay, crab boats hauled easy limits with multi-day soaks. Runs to Cape Mendocino aboard Reel Steel produced easy limits of large lings and many more were released while catching limits of rockfish. On the way back, just a few pots yielded limits of crabs.
Limits of jumbo crabs were reported by Sea Hawk, Capt. Tuna and by the crew of Bragg-n. Crab-only trips were quick and easy. When lingcod and rockfish were also targeted it took longer, but the fishing on calm seas was rated excellent. Shore fishers enjoyed opportunities to fish hotspots they normally can’t safely fish and so they clobbered cabezon, lingcod and rockfish.
HALF MOON BAY
Combo trips on Huli Cat were quite productive, working favored spots near Pillar Point. There were lingcod taken up into the mid-teens. Crabs counts were at or near limits on most trips. Queen of Hearts and Riptide worked spots south of town for lingcod and rockfish. Shore fishers had good catches of barred and redtail surf perch.
Well over a lingcod per rod plus limits of rockfish was reported aboard Bass Tub. Wacky Jacky and Lovely Martha were also involved with the bottomfish and combo trip trade. Argo ran up to San Pablo Bay and hauled easy limits of striped bass, releasing many fish during the day.