‘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. 18.
Weekly trout plants of approximately 1,500 pounds will be released into the lake, and the Lake Amador Resort is holding the Mt. Lassen fish in their hatchery and releasing them at least three times per week in smaller batches. Trout dough bait, Kastmasters, or Rapalas are working best from the shorelines along the Carson Arm, the spillway, the Blue Docks, and the dam as bank fishing is more productive than trolling at the present time. Huge crappie are also a possibility, but there are only a few taken here and there.
Salmon season closed Dec. 16. 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.
1800 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were concentrated into a major plant at the North Shore Marina this week, and shore fishermen are starting to find some action with Power Eggs or trout dough bait. Trollers are locating limits running grubs on a planer board on a long set back within the top 10 feet of the surface, and the Narrows along with the area near the dam are both producing fish. Bass fishing has been good for some who are working spoons or plastics on the drop-shot into deeper water as the fish have gone deep with the shad schools. The lake rose to 72 percent.
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 closed Dec. 16. The final month of the salmon season was slow.
NORTH COAST RIVER
CHETCO RIVER, Brookings
Rain expected this week should give steelhead fishing a boost after several days of low, clear conditions. Flows were down to 900 cfs over the weekend, but expected to jump back up above 2,500 cfs by Thursday. Salmon fishing has been slow as most of the fish are spawning.
ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk was down to 2.7 feet over the weekend, low and clear for salmon or steelhead fishing, which has been slow. Expect fresh salmon and some early steelhead after this week's rain.
ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Steelhead fishing has been slow, although conditions are good on the lower river. Rain is expected this week, which could draw in fresh steelhead. Salmon season is over.
ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Oregon
“We need some rain to get the fish going again and some new fish to move upriver," said guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. He said a few holdover cohos and steelhead can still be caught on side-drifted plugs and yarn balls. Pink-and-silver or black-and-silver plugs seem to be getting the most fish.
Steelhead fishing picked up as a big school of adult fish came into the river. Dave Delmue caught a 12-pound hatchery steelie at Johnson’s Beach using cure roe under a float bought at Kings Sport & Tackle, and another unidentified anglers caught a 10 pounder a the same spot with the same bait. Fly guys are loving the low and clear conditions using Type 1 shooting head or sinktip with comets, bosses and small intruders or leeches. Flows are at 350 cfs.
SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Very few salmon are being caught because of low water conditions, which are making drifting from Edson Creek or Mid Drift to the Grange difficult. Rain this week could give fishing a boost before the weekend.
Low, clear conditions have made salmon and steelhead fishing tough. Very few anglers have been on the water this past week, with no action reported. Flows were down to 1,270 cfs at the Jed Smith gauge. Rain expected this week could draw in the final portion of the salmon run.
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 1,960 cfs, down from 1,002 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 were 1,520 cfs, down from 1,750 cfs the week before. Flows at Orleans are 2,940 cfs, down from 3,665 cfs the week before.
KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Fishing is slow, although some fresh winter fish have been reported. Flows near the mouth at Terwer are 5,850 cfs, down from 7,529 cfs a week ago.
Low, clear, cold water is challenging steelhead anglers, but fish are being caught near Junction City on small plugs or roe. Guide Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service said he is using 2.5 and 3.0 MagLip plugs. Fish are staging near creek mouths, waiting for rain. Flows over the weekend at Lewiston Dam were 317 cfs. Flows at Douglas City were 359 cfs, while flows at Junction City were 387 cfs. Flows downriver at Hoopa were 1,310 cfs.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Bass anglers are picking up smallmouth and largemouth bass to 3 pounds on drop-shots, rip baits and spoons fished as deep as 30 feet in some areas. Trollers are getting a few rainbows on the surface and also on deep-trolled lures.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Fishing remains slow with a few bass and crappie caught near the dam.
Few fishermen are on the lake, but reports remain fair to good for catching bass, great for bluegill and crappie and a few catfish. The weather has been unseasonably warm. There is still a vast amount of bait for the fish, with bluegill caught all around the lake. Crappie are starting to show well off Indian Beach and in brushy areas of the north, and there are a few catfish caught in brushy areas.
A few largemouth bass to 3 pounds were caught last week on jigs, and a couple of striped bass to 6 pounds were also reported.
Fishing remains very slow overall with only a few bass and crappie caught in coves near the dam. Weather is cold, said Christina Diaz at the resort.
Some bass action is being reported with fish from 2 to 5 pounds topping the action. Most bass are being caught in the backs of creek arms on Kitech and Ned rigs fished down to 30 or 40 feet deep.
UPPER BLUE LAKES
A few trout are being caught, but action is fair at best.
FAR NORTH LAKES AND RIVER
Trout fishing continues to be on the tough side at Lake Almanor. There is still no significant weather in the forecast. Highs will be in the 30’s and lows in the teens. The roads will be slick. Parts of the lake are beginning to ice over as water temps continue to drop. There is not much boat activity on the lake, and most of the fishermen are targeting fish from shore and in smaller boats in the coves around Canyon Dam. The fish will continue to migrate to the south end of the lake as water temps drop.
The weather has been cold and the fishing has been very slow for trout anglers using baits and flies.
Marina is closed for the season and few anglers have shown up with the weather cold.
Not much action reported here with weather cold and the marina shut down. Season here ends Dec. 31.
Trout fishing has slowed and cold weather has fewer fishermen out.
Trout fishing has been slow to fair for fly anglers working midges and woolly buggers. The weather is cold.
Bass fishing was pretty good last week with tournament anglers making some good catches despite the weekend weather being windy and cool. The event was won by the team of Jeff Michaels and Justin Ragland of Redding with a limit of bass totaling 11.66 pounds. Trout fishing was a little slow last week with most anglers reporting action on lures trolled as deep as 120 feet. There were also few catches in less deep waters near the dam.
Few anglers are on the lake and they are not catching much. Most anglers instead are river fishing below the lake.
The kokanee salmon are on a fair bite. Anglers can troll for them out by the dam, over by the coldwater curtain and by the 299 Bridge. The kokes are running a good 14 to 15 inches with some already 16 inches.
The trout bite slowed down a bit over the weekend with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reporting a tough bite on Saturday and Sunday after waiting a few hours for the fog to clear on Saturday morning. He is running his custom spoons at 3 to 5 colors of leadcore line, and the lake temperature has dropped to 57 degrees. 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 rose slightly to 81 percent this week.
Rainbow trout are moving up in the water column, and bass fishermen are starting to pick up the big rainbows throwing Tasmanian Devil spoons or ripbaits when the trout are breaking the surface chasing shad. Brown trout to 4 pounds have been caught and released in addition to big rainbow trout. Bass fishing is best at depths from 35 to 50 feet with plastics on the drop-shot, darthead, or shakey head. Numbers of smaller bass are possible with the finesse technique, and the best time for big fish is just around the corner during the months of January and February. The lake held at 83 percent.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Road is closed for the winter at the second gate.
There is ice on the edges of the shore.
Ice is starting to take hold and lake may be fully covered later this week. Still too early to venture out on the ice.
There is ice out 50 feet from the dam but it isn’t stable. There is open water at Mallards and a few trout are being caught there. Few are trying, though.
Surface temperature is 43 degrees and lake is 42 percent of capacity. Guide Shaun Rainsbarger reported fair action on Mackinaw in the 2- to 5-pound range.
GOLD LAKE BASIN
Roads are open but Gold Lake is ice-covered. Snow forecasted for mid-week may close the basin for the winter.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Ice extends 30 to 40 feet beyond the shore. Should be fully iced over by the end of this coming week.
Charters from Tahoe Sportfishing in South Lake Tahoe are having steady action on Mackinaw during both morning and afternoon trips. Mooching with live minnows down 200 feet is doing the trick. Most weigh 3 to 5 pounds, but a 20-pound plus Mack escaped the net Friday.
The weather hasn’t changed and neither has the fishing. Decent action from shore and boat but winds from the southeast have been a bother. Big fish last week was an 18 1/2 pounder, but there were no available details on where and how.
Lake is frozen and safe to access.
Ice has formed on the edges but it is unsafe to venture out.
A plant of 1,500 pounds of trout delivered last week has greatly improved action here. The trout were planted by the first boat dock and fishing in the front part of the lake has been very good, said Karen Ward from the Sly Park Resort. Nightcrawlers and Power Bait work best and the first dam has been a hot spot.
Lake is closed to fishing. It will re-open Jan. 1.
The river has dropped down to 300 cfs out of Lake Tahoe. Use nymphs mid-day for best action. Best stretch is below the Boca outlet.
The sturgeon bite slowed considerably due to the plummeting water temperatures, and the diamondbacks need to adjust to the water temperatures before biting in earnest once again. The fish are still around, and the eel bite is starting to emerge along with salmon roe. Roe/Ryer Island, Chain Island, the Big Cut, the Horseshoe, and Montezuma Slough are the top locations for sturgeon. Striped bass are also adjusting to the colder temperatures, and the bulk of the striped bass run has yet to arrive due to the lack of fresh water and warmer temperatures and an abundant food source in San Pablo Bay. The clear water in the Port of Sacramento is also drawing striped bass out of the Delta. Bullheads are in short supply, but grass shrimp remains readily available.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Cold water has also affected the bite in the San Joaquin-Delta, and live bait has been the only method for attracting striped bass in the main river. The bass are moving into the warmer sloughs in the south Delta, and Whiskey Slough has been a solid bet for stripers, red ear perch, and crappie. The slabs are getting plenty of attention with medium or large minnows around the boat docks in Whiskey Slough. Finding moving water is the key to getting bit with artificials such as Optima’s Bad Bubba Shad on a 3/4-ounce jig head, and a slow presentation is necessary. 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. The river below Live Oak closed 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. Sturgeon fishing is slow at the mouth of the Bear River.
Folsom Lake is at 429 feet, down 1 foot from last week. Full pool is 466 feet. The water temperature is 55 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. Flows were 281 cfs over the weekend, down slightly from a week ago.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Fishing season closed Dec. 16. The final month of the season was slow. A few stripers are being caught near Colusa.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Flows from Keswick Dam remained near 5,000 cfs. Salmon fishing closed Dec. 16. Fishing was good for late-fall kings at the Barge Hole up until the closure. Trout fishing is slow to fair in the Redding area, while steelhead fishing is decent near Anderson. Anglers are drifting roe, beads, Glo Bugs or crickets, or fishing size 50 Hot Shots or 3.0 MagLip plugs.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Salmon season closed Dec. 16. The final month of the season was slow in the lower river. A few stripers are being caught in the deepwater channel but fishing is slow.
A 9-pound plus spot was rumored to have been caught last week. Bass are as deep as 60 feet and this is the time of year world records are set.
CAMP FAR WEST
Lake continues to rise but few are fishing and those fishing aren’t catching much.
Put a dodger and lure out and slowly troll just under the surface for 16- to 18-inch rainbow trout. Limits are hard to come by, but the quality of fish is very good. Shore anglers using Power Bait are scoring, too. Water temperature is 53 degrees.
A 9-pound brown was reportedly caught-and-released from upriver by a customer of Will Fish Tackle in Auburn. The angler was casting a Rapala and also caught a good number of rainbows. Trolling with a Rapala in the upriver area has been resulting in rainbows and the occasional brown.
If anglers are willing to drive the two hours in and two hours out from Auburn they can be rewarded with very good trout fishing. Last week anglers had success throwing dark-colored marabou jigs from shore, catching browns to 6 pounds and plenty of rainbows. Most of the action is in or near the inlet.
Fat spotted bass typically measuring 14 to 15 inches are taking tubes, Senkos, drop-shots, dartheaded worms or jigs from the bank to 30 feet deep. Fish are in schools, so if there isn’t a bite, move.
Bass are plentiful, but small. An angler last week used a drop-shot in 25 feet of water and caught 35 to 40 bass, said Ryan Drake, a supervisor with the Nevada Irrigation District. Most were spots, but the largest was a 3 1/2-pound smallmouth. Trout are attacking the bass lures, though not many are focusing on trout. Water temperature is 55 degrees and lake is 98 percent of capacity with four feet of visibility.
Wind plus duck hunters means it is best to stay away.
Berkeley boats worked the Farallon Islands and the Marin Coast for decent crabbing, great fishing for rockfish and decent lingcod fishing. New El Dorado III put aboard limits of rockfish a half dozen lings and about half limits of Dungeness. California Dawn and Happy Hooker also found rockfish to be hungry but lings to be a bit off due to high winds.
Partyboat trips on New Sea Angler to Point Reyes were impressive producers with high counts of sizable lingcod to 23 pounds, chunky rockfish consisting mostly of reds, coppers, Chinas and quillbacks. Crabs came up at roughly half limits and the crab were heavy and gratifyingly full. Shore and jetty fishing was good for perch, rockfish and cabezon.
Anglers aboard Sea Wolf, New Salmon Queen and New Huck Finn used shrimp fly gangions for rockfish and lingcod or used Lingslayers, jigs, swimbaits or whole baits in trap rigs for big lingcod. Crabs were good and full, adding substantially to the weight of the sacks carried to cars.
Crabbing was good inside Humboldt Bay and limits were possible with a little work. Outside the Bay, overnight soaks typically mean 20 crabs per pot and quick limits for Reel Steel and other boats. Long runs to Cape Mendocino resulted in large lingcod to 25 pounds. Jetty fishing was exceptionally good for kelp greenling, rockfish to 3 pounds, cabezon and lingcod.
Crab/rockfish combo trips to the Westport area were excitingly successful, often resulting in the trifecta of limits of crab, rockfish and lingcod for passengers aboard Capt. Tuna and Sea Hawk. Rockfish/lingcod-only trips to Casper meant limits of both. Shore angers worked super-hotspots like Dynamite Shack, Mendocino Headlands and MacKerricher.
HALF MOON BAY
Huli Cat ran a trip to San Gregorio and pulled limits of rockfish, a lingcod per rod and good crab counts. Queen of Hearts, with owner Sherry Ingles serving as deckhand and having a blast, fished off of Pescadero and had success pulling limits of rockfish and good counts of lingcod. Surf fishers caught barred surf perch, redtail perch and a few striped bass.
Most boats stayed at dock for the week for various reasons. Bass Tub had to cancel a Saturday trip due to weather. Argo took passengers up to San Pablo Bay to catch limits of striped bass and release many more. Shore anglers hooked striped bass with lures or caught surf perch with baits or Gulp! sandworms.