Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of March 19, 2018.
The Lake Amador Resort released 1000 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbow trout on Friday as part of 1500 pounds for the week. Trout dough bait continues to be the top offering from the shoreline, and trollers are pulling broken-backed Rapalas at 5 to 7 feet in depth. The best trolling action is in the back of the lake near Mountain Springs, Rock Creek, and the Jackson Creek arm with shore fishing best at the dam, the spillway, and the Blue Docks. The lake has risen to only 3 feet from spilling, and it is anticipated to start going over the spillway with this next storm. The Nor Cal Trout Angler’s Challenge will arrive on April 24.
Trout plants continue with 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows released at the North Shore launch ramp this past week. Shore fishing and trolling around the North Shore has been excellent with the recent plant, and a total of 3600 pounds will be released this week prior to Easter Week. Trout dough bait and Kastmasters are the top offerings from the shoreline. Prior to the cold front, bass have been found at depths from 15 to 20 feet with yellow/brown crankbaits or umbrella rigs, but the action slowed down over the weekend with the bass backing off into deeper water in response to the cold weather. The lake rose slightly to 73 percent.
DELTA, SACRAMENTO SIDE
The water of the Sacramento-Delta has become dirty with the inflow from the upper river, but striped bass have invaded the system. The key is finding clear water for trolling or casting. Bait fishing will be more forgiving in the stained water. In addition to the abundant male stripers, larger females are also making their move into the Sacramento River. Sturgeon action was great at the start of the week, but the combination of small tides and an incoming front slowed the action over the weekend. Minus tides are arriving next weekend, and with the number of sturgeon in the system, the increased water movement should make for a strong bite. The sturgeon bite should last well through April, but many of the six-pack operators will be heading to the bay soon.
DELTA, SAN JOAQUIN SIDE
With the dirty water in the Sacramento River, the stripers have moved into the San Joaquin, and it seems that everyone is catching fish whether they are trolling, casting lures, or soaking bait. Trollers are pulling minnow plugs from Eddo’s Marina to Prisoner’s Point, but the river is muddiest near the mouth of the Mokelumne. Plug casters are watching for diving birds and working the schools with topwater lures or swimbaits. Largemouth bass have become active, and several females in the 10-pound range have been taken with chatterbaits, wakebaits, swimjigs or jigs. Crappie to 2 pounds have been found in Whiskey Slough or off of Eight Mile Road with live minnows.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, SACRAMENTO
Small schoolie stripers are now being caught at Discovery Park and Bright Beach on cut bait. A few fish to 10 pounds were reported over the weekend. The deepwater channel has been slow.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
CHETCO RIVER, BROOKINGS, OREGON
After being blown out most of last week, the Chetco was fishable over the weekend and producing a mix of bright and spawned out steehead for the handful of guides still on the river. Flows were down to 3,400 cfs on Sunday after cresting at 10,000 cfs early last week. Another storm is expected this week, and will likely bring more high water. Steelhead season runs through March 31.
ELK RIVER, PORT ORFORD, OREGON
The Elk fished well late last week before slowing over the weekend. It may be one of the few options for late steelhead next week as another storm bears down on the coast. Steelhead season runs through March 31.
ROGUE RIVER, GOLD BEACH, OREGON
The river is in prime shape for late winter steelhead and early spring salmon. A few springers have been caught, but so far action is slow. Steelhead fishing has been good, with guides and anglers plunking Spin-N-Glos from shore catching a mix of wild and hatchery fish. This week's rain could draw in more springers.
ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass
Steelhead fishing was pretty good this week as muddy water cleared from last week, reported guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. Anglers are scoring on steelhead using plugs and baits. Among the better enticers are plugs, yarn balls and live nightcrawlers. Action is also pretty good on the Applegate and Illinois Rivers above their flow into the Rogue. Steelies up those rivers are falling for Cleos, bobbers and jigs. Trout fishing continues to be fair to good on lakes Selmac and Lost Creek.
As of Sunday March 18, the flows on the Russian were high at 3100 cfs and zero visibility, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville. “We are expecting another storm to impact our area on Tuesday/Wednesday which will continue to keep the river blown out. If there is no rain after that we may have a few days left to fish in bait season next week. Otherwise, plan a trip up the coast to the coastal streams. Bait season on the Russian officially closes on April 1 with low flow regulations until the end of April. For those that fish the coastal stream those also close on April 1. We see fish continue to enter the Russian in Apri so don't despair you still have time. Also coming in on the tails of the late steelhead will be early American shad.”
The river was in good shape over the weekend, but fishing for steelhead was slow as the run winds down. Flows were 5,560 cfs, or 9.75 feet, on Sunday at the Jed Smith gauge. They reached 14 feet, or 17,000 cfs, early last week. The Smith remains open through April, and often has a late burst of fish. Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service said fishing wasn’t very good, and there are very few anglers.
SIXES RIVER, PORT ORFORD, OREGON
The Sixes will be in good shape for late steelhead a few days this week before another storm is expected to blow it out by Thursday. Steelhead season runs through March 31.
KLAMATH RIVER, HORNBROOK
Steelhead fishing has been good near Hornbrook. A mix of adult steelhead and halfpounders are being caught. Small plugs, especially 3.0 MagLips, and worms fished below divers are working best. Flows over the weekend at Iron Gate Dam were 1,290 cfs, up from 947 cfs a week ago. A fall salmon season is likely this year on the upper Klamath.
KLAMATH RIVER, HAPPY CAMP
The middle section of the Klamath is in good shape for steelhead. Yarn balls are working well. Flows at Seiad Valley near Happy Camp were 2,500 cfs, up from 2,010 cfs a week ago. Flows at Orleans were 8,060 cfs, down from 8,560 cfs a week ago.
KLAMATH RIVER, KLAMATH GLEN
Steelhead fishing has slowed on the lower Klamath, which blew out last week. Flows at the mouth were 19,900 cfs after last week’s heavy rains. A fall salmon season is likely this year on the Klamath, with quotas ranging from 1,200 kings to more than 5,000 kings. A final season will be set next month.
Steelhead fishing is slow, as most local anglers have switched over to bass at Trinity Lake and visiting anglers have gone elsewhere. Flows over the weekend at Lewiston were 313 cfs. Flows at Douglas City were 442 cfs and at Junction City were 502 cfs. Flows at Hoopa were 5,360 cfs.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Bad weather hampered fishing last week. Drop-shotting Robo Worms worked best. Some bass anglers did pick up smallmouth and spotted bass on a variety of lures.
BLACK BUTTE LAKE
Fishing was slow, with a few bass and crappie caught in coves near the dam.
The weather cleared a little on Friday and people hit the lake big time to prepare for a 115 boat tournament that hit the lake on Saturday. The vast majority of the field weighed in between 9 and 12 pounds for their five fish. There were about five bags that were between 17 and 19 pounds and the day one highest team had an amazing 32 pounds for their five fish. Although there were approximately 10 fish or so weighed in over 6 pounds, the rest were all in the 1- to 3-pound range. Fish were caught on a wide variety of techniques, which included everything from a drop-shot to an Alabama rig.
Bass fishing was slow to fair last week, but weather kept most anglers away.
Trout fishing remains on the side.
Despite bad weather most days last week, anglers were finding fair action and some pretty good numbers of bass on jigs, drop-shots, shaky heads and some crank hits.
UPPER BLUE LAKES
Some trout action was reported on fish in the 1/2 to 2-pound range on baits and spinners.
FAR NORTH LAKES AND RIVERS
Fishing pressure was light this past week. Snow and winds made for difficult conditions at best. Friday morning, anglers woke up to 16 inches of the white stuff. When they get out the fishing has been okay, not red hot, but there are fish to be had. More unsettled weather is due this week with rain and snow expected from Tuesday evening through Saturday.
Cold weather and snow kept angler pressure down last week. Fly anglers scored a few trout on mayflies and woolly buggers.
Trout fishing remains fair at the upper end of the lake.
Trout fishing is holding up well on areas 4 and 5 with fly anglers scoring best with dark-colored nymphs.
The lake is fishing very well right now for both rainbow trout and German browns to 8 pounds. The fish are near the surface in the 50 degree water and its remaining consistent that they bite up high in the morning and drop to 25 and 30 feet by midday. Bass fishing remains good, too, on jigs and plastic worms fished off the main body points.
The lake has been productive for planter-size rainbows near the dam. With an increased limit of salmon on Trinity Lake of 10 per person, Trinity will surely gain more popularity this season with anglers who are on a meat run.
The lake is still producing good numbers of kokanee salmon to 17 inches, but most are in the 12- to 14-inch range right now. Anglers are finding them out over deeper water in 5 to 25 feet depending on the sunlight. The kokanee will drop down a bit when it is sunny, especially when the lake surface glasses over.
The bass action was good for some and tough for others in the search for big fish. Catching numbers hasn’t been a problem with bass in the 2- to 2.5-pound range found at depths from 25 to 40 feet with Fatty Worm’s underspins, Berserk’s Purple Hornet jigs, or Pro Worms 124p on the drop-shot. The reaction bite has been slower, but once the weather clears, the swimbait and wakebait bite should be on. The water temperature has risen to 54 degrees. Trout fishing is also showing some signs of life with rainbows taken at 50 feet on the troll with shad-patterned lures. The lake rose to 84 percent.
Trout fishing remains excellent from both the shorelines and by boat with another plant of rainbows to 8 pounds released this week. Shore anglers are scoring at the Brush Pile, the Handicapped Docks, and the peninsula near the marina with trout dough bait in lime green or pink along with live minnows, nightcrawlers, and silver/blue Kastmasters. Trollers are working in the river arm with Kastmasters, Rapalas, or Speedy Shiners. The annual Merced Irrigation Trout Derby is coming the weekend of April 7 and 8.
With the large tournaments at Don Pedro and New Melones over the past two weekends, few bass fishermen have been targeting McClure, but the crappie are starting to show up near structure with live minnows or mini-jigs. The bulk of the action has yet to come, but there are crappie trickling in with anglers from as far away as Fresno starting to show up. Bass fishing is best with finesse techniques with plastics on the Ned rig or drop-shot at depths from 40 to 60 feet along with live minnows. The lake rose to percent.
Trout plants continue with 1000 pounds of Calaveras Trout Farm rainbows released every Friday along with a bonus plant of 750 pounds from the DFW this past week. Trollers are scoring in the river arm and along the main dam in the south part of the lake with grubs or with kokanee gear. The kokanee have yet to show in appreciable numbers, but this hasn’t stopped anglers from trying. Bank fishing is best around the launch cove and near the Spillway with trout dough bait, Kastmasters, or nightcrawlers. Bass fishing has been slow in the cold water. The lake rose to 95 percent.
The bass bite has been up and down with consistent action for numbers, but there are big fish to be found with a 10.04-pound largemouth taking big fish during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament’s event with 68 boats on the lake. The reaction bite has been strong during periods of wind and rain but working the bottom with Senkos, plastics, or jigs at depths to 25 feet is still effective. Bank anglers are scoring quality limits with Carolina-rigged Brush Hogs. Trout fishing is limited to a few quality rainbows, but the release of the net pens in April should improve conditions. The lake is at 80 percent.
SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS
Accessible to the dam area. Anything beyond that requires a snowmobile or lifted 4X4. Expect ice on the lake.
The boat ramp and parking area at Donner were unplowed as of press time. There’s a thin sheen of ice on the lake, which suggests other area waters are also iced over.
INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
As of press time, the road to Indian Creek Reservoir was icy and unsafe.
Charter boat operators haven’t been able to get out due to heavy snowfall and high winds. Even the locals have gave up on fishing last week.
Prosser is only accessible to the end of Prosser dam road.
Roller coaster conditions continue at Pyramid. The weather was too rough last week for most boat anglers. Shore-based fly casters still caught their share during the brief weather windows. Try using Doug’s popcorn beetles and Mike Sexton’s boobies. Cutthroat to over 20 pounds were caught.
Inaccessible to everyone but snowmobilers. There is probably ice on the lake.
The Truckee River was a bright spot. Access is available at Hirschdale and Glenshire. Flows have stayed good, and the water is not too off color. It’s fishing well. Fly casters should try stoneflies, San Juan worms, and midges.
Steelhead fishing remained slow last week at Watt Avenue and Sailor Bar. Anglers are drifting roe or worms with Corkies, but success has been poor because of low water. Flows have remained near 1,740 cfs at Fair Oaks for the past two weeks. Nimbus Basin is now permanently closed to all fishing.
Last week’s storms raised the river enough to give striper fishing a boost near Boyd’s Pump, although fishing is still on the slow side. Stripers are biting better near East Nicholas and Star Bend. Cut anchovies or sardines are working best.
Bass fishing has been good near Brown’s Ravine and Beals Point for anglers fishing live minnows. A mix of spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass are being caught. The Brown’s Ravine, Folsom Point and Granite Bay launches are open.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, DUNSMUIR
Trout fishing has slowed with winter weather near Dunsmuir. Flows were just over 1,100 cfs over the weekend.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, RED BLUFF TO COLUSA
Sturgeon fishing continues to be very good near Colusa and Steelhead Lodge, with anglers anchoring and fishing eel and pile worms. A mix of keepers and oversize fish are showing up in the catch. A few trophy stripers continue to be caught near Colusa, although muddy water has slowed striper fishing.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, REDDING TO RED BLUFF
Flows from Keswick Dam have remained stable at 3,320 cfs. Trout fishing has picked up, with good fishing from Keswick to Anderson. Glo Bugs, beads and roe are working well. Some hatches are helping fly anglers in the afternoons. The river remains open above Highway 44 until April 15. Good weather had plenty of anglers out over the weekend.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, VERONA TO COLUSA
Sturgeon fishing has been good from Knight’s Landing to Colusa, with eel and nightcrawler combos working best. Muddy water made striper fishing tougher last week. Cut anchovies, cut sardines and pile worms are working well. Bank anglers are focusing on Tisdale or Knight’s Landing.
Bullard’s has been excellent for kokanee. Anglers are scoring while trolling dodgers and hoochies. Most fish are in the 12-inch range. Limits are coming easily. Bass fishing remains on again, off again, but good fish are to be had if you hit it right. Work points about 30 feet deep. The lake level is 40 feet from the top and the water temperature is 49 to 51.
CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full and spilling. It’s still fairly clear, and water temperatures are in the mid 50s. There was quite a bit of rain and wind last week. Bass anglers have been pulling fish in the Bear River arm on worms and lizards in 12 to 15 feet of water.
Weekly 1,800-pound trout plants continue from Mt. Lassen Trout Farm. Trout weighing 5 to 8 pounds are in the mix. Foul weather slowed the bite and muddied the water, but people are still catching fish using typical trout tactics. Productive areas include the dam area and Swim Beach.
Bass numbers are bouncing back after a very slow start to March. The fish were in the 15- to 30-foot range, the same place they’ve been for a couple weeks, eating anything on the bottom. On deeper points, the bass bit up to 40 feet deep. Jigs, dartheads and dropshots were effective. The lake came up 13 feet in the past week. The water has picked up some stain. Water temperatures are 49 to 51.
Some big fish are being caught, but it’s an up and down bite. One day you get 15 fish, the next you are blanked. Try swimbaits and black and blue jigs on the rocks.
Berkeley boat Happy Hooker had a fun trip with “Pops” (Capt. Jim Smith) onboard for reliving his era of legend. A trip to San Pablo Bay resulted in sturgeon and striped bass. Berkeley Charter Boats vessels are planning halibut trips beginning at the end of March and possibly through the season or until rockfish and then salmon seasons get going. Boat-based rockfish opens May 1.
Crabbing was still viable though getting half-to-full limits required longer soaks and there were smaller productive areas. Whalewatching was a good way for boats like Sea Hawk to fill their calendar. Shore fishing was very good for surfperch along sandy beaches and for kelp greenling, rockfish and cabezon in the rockier spots such as Old Mill. Boat-based rockfish opens May 1.
Crews of partyboats from Fish Emeryville continued boat work to have everything spiffy and ready to impress anglers when the first of the seasons rolls around. Meanwhile, private boats from the area made runs up into San Pablo Bay to get in on action for sturgeons and stripers on anchor near Pumphouse and China Camp. Boat-based rockfish opens May 1.
Jetty fishing along both the north and south jetties was very good, with more than the usual number of lingcod caught by people walking out to the best spots and slowly working swimbaits in front of pockets between rocks. Folks working the jetties and piers for crabs found a few Dungeness and rock crabs. Beach fishing for redtail perch was rewarding. Boat-based rockfish opens May 1.
Crabbing held up near Fort Bragg better than most areas along the coast and longer soaks could result in half to full limits of Dungeness, which were in pretty good shape. Local shore fishing was exceptionally good for kelp greenling, rockfish, cabezon and an occasional lingcod. Boat-based rockfish opens May 1.
HALF MOON BAY
Private boaters went out for crabs and longer (overnight) soaks produced up to half-limits. Some of those boaters opted to add to the meal by catching a few dozen sanddabs. Jetty and pier folks cast snares or dropped hoops for Dungeness and rock crabs. Hook and liners got kingfish, perch and rockfish. Surf fishers caught barred surfperch and a few redtail perch. Boat-based rockfish opens April 15.
Argo made trips to San Pablo Bay and caught oversize, in-the-slot and undersize sturgeon along with plenty of striped bass to 6 pounds. Other Fisherman’s Wharf boats –Bass Tub, Wacky Jacky, Lovely Martha --were being readied for the upcoming seasons, beginning with the April 15 opener of rockfish season.