Fishing Line

Salmon fishing improving in American River

Shawn Gallagher of Costa Mesa displays a salmon he caught on the Sacramento River near Los Molinos on Sept. 3, 2015. Reports up and down the river, and in other waterways, indicate a strong Chinook run.
Shawn Gallagher of Costa Mesa displays a salmon he caught on the Sacramento River near Los Molinos on Sept. 3, 2015. Reports up and down the river, and in other waterways, indicate a strong Chinook run.

Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Sept. 21, 2015.



Salmon fishing is improving in the American as fresh kings move in from the saltwater. Steelhead are present throughout the American.

▪ DELTA REGION: Sacramento River

Salmon fishing is heating up near Freeport with at least six fish landed nightly from the banks south of the Freeport Bridge on Flying C’s or from boater jigging P-Line Laser Minnows or Slammer Minnows. Striped bass are holding from the Sacramento Deep Water Channel west to Collinsville, and trolling, casting swimbaits, drifting live bait, or anchoring with shad are all producing linsesides. Smallmouth bass are still in the upper river along the rocky structure, and live crawdads or wacky-rigged Senkos are effective. Catfishing is best in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel with chicken livers or night crawlers.

▪ DELTA REGION: San Joaquin River

Striped bass action has been best towards the Antioch Bridge, and linesides to 28 pounds have been taken by trollers pulling deep-diving plugs. Fly fishing with Clouser Minnows has been solid in the San Joaquin, as well as tossing swimbaits. The triple-digit temperatures have returned, and the 40-degree swing from the low to the high temperature during the day has limited largemouth action to a few select windows. Jumbo minnows are producing both striped and largemouth bass for drifters. Bluegill are abundant throughout the south Delta on wax or jumbo red worms. Fresh and frozen shad is now available in bait shops.


Rain early last week kicked salmon fishing on the Feather into gear, with boaters running FlatFish with sardine wraps and bank anglers connecting on kings with jigs fished vertically. The Yuba City boat launch has re-opened.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa

Salmon fishing improved last week as fresh fish arrived. Anchoring and running plugs has been producing fish throughout the lower river. Fishing for catfish remains good.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa

New salmon are showing up daily, as the king run kicks into gear. Drifting roe has been consistent for guides and other boat anglers.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff

Salmon anglers are reporting a fish per rod. Big numbers of fresh kings arrived early last week before numbers dropped heading into the weekend. Overall fishing is good for anglers running plugs or drifting roe. Trout fishing remains excellent near Redding.


Stripers are being caught in the deepwater channel at the Port of Sacramento and there's been quite a few salmon caught out of Freeport. Reports of big schools of salmon in the delta have anglers expecting fresh fish in the lower river this week.


▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Oregon

A few kings were caught in the Chetco estuary last week as rains increased flows from 80 cfs to 340 cfs. The river is open to bobber fishing above river mile 2.2, but fishing is slow, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

▪ COOS BAY, Coos Bay, Oregon

The Coos River was a lot more consistent when it came to angler's hooking multiple salmon last week, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “We saw a considerable size difference in the king salmon this last week,” he said. “The average weight was around 20 pounds and we saw plenty of kings weighing 25 pounds plus. Even though Sunday became difficult finding a fish, I am still going to say that the Coos River was the hot spot of Southern Oregon last week and I believe it will be this upcoming week again. Heavy tides played a big part of salmon being a little slow on the bite, I feel. With the heavier tides the fish seem to take advantage of the pushing waters and travel farther and quicker without as much effort.”

▪ COQUILLE RIVER, Bandon, Oregon

So far this season the river hasn’t performed up to normal standards for either kings or coho, according to WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer. “It just isn’t producing the numbers of fish or the size that I am used to catching here. With the Coos River as close as it is, a person might think of their choices.”

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon

There’s good news and bad news upriver on the Rogue in the National Forest, according to guide Bill Divens of Salmon King Lodge Guide Service. “The lower river temperatures keep salmon and halfpounder steelhead swimming upriver. The bad news is that with lower water levels and the tour boats still running, the moss is as bad as I've ever seen it. Earlier in the week we were catching jacks and small adults upriver, but had to stop around 10 a.m. because of moss. Over the weekend, Julie and I decided to troll the bay for a while. There were lots of silver salmon (mostly wild) jumping and occasionally biting, but in general, the bite was not great. After a number of stripped baits (probably silvers), Julie brought a hard fighting 33-pound salmon to the net.

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon

Salmon fishing was just fair this week, with the water level remaining low. It’s hit-and-miss salmon fishing, said guide Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle. The salmon being taken are generally on sardine-wrapped Kwikfish or back-bounced roe. Some steelhead are also being taken, with action best on plugs, spinners or spoons. Lake fishing has slowed because the water levels keep dropping and it’s difficult to launch boats.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Reedsport, Oregon

It has been a very long season for Chinook fishing this year on the lower river of the Umpqua, according to tackle manufacturer Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. It was a solid fishery this last week and some of the guides posting photos of clients limited out with nice catches. Other guides took pictures every moment a fish was netted. I’m thinking of changing rivers! I haven’t heard of any big coho yet, but the coho should outnumber the kings soon.”



The first salmon were observed at Iron Gate Hatchery on Sept. 8, and over the weekend the count in the fish ladder had topped 20 kings. Pressure is still light near Hornbrook, but many guides said they would be running their first trips of the season this week. Many guides will be running plugs at daylight and then back-bouncing roe in the deeper holes. Flows on Sunday ay Iron Gate were 1,060 cfs.


Salmon are now holding in the slower pools near Happy Camp, while fresh steelhead also have arrived. Flows at Seiad Valley were 1,090 cfs on Sunday.

▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen

The spit is now closed to shore fishing. Salmon fishing was slow last week, with guides reporting two to six fish per boat. A few salmon are being caught by trollers in the estuary. Upriver, anglers are drifting small clusters of roe.


The Trinity is back below 500 cfs at Lewiston, creating ideal conditions for salmon and steelhead fishing. Last week was the best week so far this season for kings, with MagLip plugs accounting for a big portion of the salmon catch. Tuna balls and roe also are producing fish. Fresh salmon are spread throughout the Trinity. Adult steelhead also are showing up in the catch.



The county and all major roads are open for business, even though the Valley Fire has displaced hundreds, if not thousands, of households either through loss or evacuations. Very few fished and the ones that did had success from the banks for catfish on a variety of cut baits. The launch ramp in Lucerne has closed due to low water. The ramps at Clearlake Oaks, Redbud, Clear Lake State Park, Lakeside County Park and in downtown Lakeport all remain open and good shape.


The kokanee season has slowed down but you can catch plenty of next year's fish if you want the little guys. When the lake cools the Eagle Lake rainbows should be on a good bite. The fall bass bite is not here yet either, but the lake is full of bait, so expect a great fall bite. The bite right now is just fair on offshore structure from 15 to 30 feet.


Night time catfishing has been very good for campers. Try fresh cut mackerel on a sliding sinker rig and target creek channels in 30 feet of water on a channel swing.



The crowd is still heading over to the East Basin, which is where the bait is. The bite starts early here at 10 feet and then moves down to 30 feet as the day progresses and the sun gets higher in the sky. Speedy Shiners work well here.


Check DFW’s website for trout plant dates by the boat ramp. Shannon Engh from The Fly Shop said the weed growth around the lake has limited access and not many have been fishing here, but it is still fishing well. Whatever has been working, just continue to use. Dough baits and nightcrawlers are a good bet here.


The lake is low so trim your motor when heading out. The bit has been hit and miss for flyfishermen, trollers and shoreline anglers. From Pelican Point down towards to Youth Camp has been fishing well and should for the rest of the season. Limits were had by all, but the earlier you get out the quicker you’ll get your limits.


Still fishing very well. Fish have migrated back upriver, so that is where the bigger fish are. Dry flies work well here.


There are lots of planted fish in this area still left over from the Labor Day weekend plant. Small nymph patterns, dough baits, worms and crickets work well here.


You can fish from a float tube, pontoon boat or even a drift boat or raft but no motors. Check the regulations for where you can fish and what you can use on this catch and release only lake. Tougher fishing lately, so try little midges under an indicator for cruising trout.


The reservoir has not being fished much but it has been planted. Try flies, Blue Foxes and worms.


October cadis should be migrating here soon, as well as the brown trout. Nymphs of all sizes are working and try some streamers for bigger browns.


Shannon Engh from The Fly Shop said it’s tough to fish, but fishing well. Trout have moved into oxygenated water. Try small dark nymphs, Dark Lords or Rubber Legs.


The lake is still in transition and fishing has been tough. Once it starts to cool down the bass bite should be great, thanks to all the bait in the system. For trout work the surface down to 40 feet close to the shoreline and work the points because the shad are moving up.


Not many boats here. Try going down to the curtain and work the channels from 80 to 100 feet using Apexs and Hoochies in pinks and oranges and beads with spinners.



All boat launches are now closed because of low water. Bank fishing for bass is fair.


Bass and trout fishing is slow but panfish are still available.


Trout fishing remains good near Dunsmuir, as pressure has eased for the summer.



The lake is at 12-percent capacity. Hike down to the outlet and fish in the channel with worms and spoons.


The lake is at 66-percent capacity. The EID public ramp was still open and could be until November. Caples Lake Resort reported a shore angler caught a 6-pound rainbow at the dam.

▪ CARSON RIVER (East, West)

Jay Pettit of Napa reported good action on the East Carson for 9- to 12-inch rainbows using worms and salmon eggs in the deeper pools. Alpine County will stock Lake Alpine this week with 1800 pounds of trophy rainbows.


The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the bite was improving with cooler water temps. Shore fishermen were catching up to seven 15- to 20-inch rainbows in 4 hours at Mallard Point on floating dough bait and bubble/fly combos. Trollers in small aluminum boats were catching 1 fish/hour on copper/redhead Wee Dick Nites, red-dot frog Needlefish, and Wedding Ring/‘crawlers at 10 to 15 feet deep between Honker Cove and Coot Bay. Only small boats can safely launch at the Honker ramp with only 22 inches of water on the end of the concrete.


The lake is at 53-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported a good kokanee bite at China Cove on the hump at 60 feet deep and 70 to 75 feet deep at Loch Leven using orange or peach hoochies and UV pink dodgers. The “current year” kokes were running 13 to 14 inches and were beginning to turn, while the “next year” kokes were 10 to 12 inches and bright. Boats longer than 20 feet long will have a tough time launching—trailers can drop off the end of the concrete.


Flows were higher than normal in the North Fork but fishing was slow. The Caribou Powerhouse was producing limits of 2- to 2 1/2-pound rainbows on worms or crappie jigs under a bobber in the generator wash—watch out for fish stealing otters.


The lake is at 24-percent capacity. Fishing was very slow here with the low water level, but shore anglers were doing best at the dam using inflated nightcrawlers.


Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported that one of his friends was doing well trolling a white fly along the north shore points in less than 20 feet of water at 7 to 10 feet deep for 16- to 20-inch rainbows. Salmon Lake and Sardine Lake were slow, but Packer Lake was still producing in the early morning.


The lake is at 71-percent capacity. Trollers should be doing well for rainbows using a dodger/’crawler, dodger/brown grub, or flasher/woolly bugger at 15 to 35 feet deep. Look for the fish to move shallower and feed more heavily as the water temp drops.


The best action here was for small boaters or float tubers fishing the deeper water in the middle of the lake in front of the dam. Most anglers have been fishing the nearby East Carson, which gets regular plants from Alpine County. This lake will be stocked in November by Alpine County.


The lake is at 51.6-percent capacity. Guide Brett Brady at Bare Bones Guide Service reported great fishing for rainbows to 3 pounds. Trolling a Sep’s Side Kick Dodger with a threaded nightcrawler at 45 to 55 feet deep in the middle of the lake was very productive. Launching was still good at the Pass Creek ramp.


The lake is at 70-percent capacity. Fish were moving shallower and feeding more heavily with the cooler water temps. Brandon Wanninger, 11, caught his first fish trolling a Sling Blade/spoon—a nice 4-pound mack.


Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported he was still catching limits of macks to 9 pounds trolling 160 to 420 feet deep off Crystal Bay Point. The fish were moving with the shrimp and anglers needed to keep up with the depth changes in order to stay on active fish. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported he was doing well trolling for macks to 12 pounds with Laxee and Krocadile spoons and Storm ThunderStiks at South Shore at 140 feet deep. After catching limits of macks, he was filling out the 5-fish limits jigging for kokanee at Taylor Creek at 75 to 100 feet deep. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported the fleet was catching limits of 10- to 14-inch kokanee along with a few 3- to 6-pound macks trolling in front of the Tahoe Keys at 120 to 200 feet deep. The bite was starting late at 8 to 9 a.m.—no need to get out too early.


The lake is at 48-percent capacity. Boating can be dangerous here with the many shallow hazards—big boulders right under the surface. Fishing pressure here was very low.


The lake is at 24.9-percent capacity. The best bet here was trying for smallmouth bass at the dam and north shore near the dam using tubes, darthead worms, and small jigs. Flyfishermen were using a woolly bugger or minnow imitation for the bass.


The cutthroat trout season opens here on October 1. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters planned on opening the season jigging for cutthroats on the east side of the lake north of Pyramid Rock where perch trips were producing big numbers of large trout that were quickly released. The opener should be great.


Reports were few and far between, but try the dam area now that the water temps were dropping.


The lake is at 57.3-percent capacity. Fishing pressure was very light here and reports were hard to come by.


The lake is at 13-percent capacity. Wind and rain this past week stirred up the water to break up the algae, but the lake is so low that few boats were capable of launching and fishing pressure was zilch.


The Douglas County Park reported only small boats were launching at the ramp while most large boats were putting in off the shore in the “primitive area”. Fishing was slow for most anglers but should improve with cooler water temps.


Flows in the Little Truckee coming out of Stampede were cut, so fishing was no longer recommended. With no flows coming out of the Boca Outlet, flows in the main Truckee at Farad were down to 81 cfs—much too low for anyone to fish this precious resource, so leave it alone.


The lake is at 58-percent capacity. A local fishing club fielded 7 boats here this past week and the group only caught a total of 12 fish—two 15-inch kokanee, nine 1/2- to 1-pound rainbows, and a small mack. The camp concessionaire already pulled the dock out of the water at the Sunset ramp.


The Little Walker River and West Walker River at Pickel Meadows and the Canyon were stocked by the DFW this past week. Pam Hamic at the West Walker Motel reported anglers were seeing lots of fish in the deeper pools and runs but the bite was tough.



It was a good week of salmon fishing, with some boats such as New Easy Rider posting limits and other boats like Flying Fish going well over a fish per rod. Happy Hooker hung some salmon and also went on lingcod/rockfish trips. California Dawn had a fabulous run to the Farallones for the high lingcod count of the year.


Halibut fishing peaked with a 45-pound flatty caught near Hog Island in Tomales Bay. Salmon picked up noticeably, with near limits taken aboard New Sea Angler and lots of fish taken by private boaters. Striped bass were active in the surf zone throughout the area as they chased roaming bait balls into the surf.


Coastal trips were mostly about salmon, with high counts coming aboard for Sundance, New Salmon Queen and others. Island trips aboard New Huck Finn, Sea Wolf, Tiger Fish and C Gull II turned into combo trips with salmon, lingcod and rockfish.


Runs to Cape Mendocino were standard fare for above standard fishing. Lingcod were on fire there and after hauling up limits, people were actually hoping the next fish would be a rockfish instead of another lingcod. Jetty fishing was fair for rockfish, perch and jacksmelt. Boaters waited patiently for the weather to allow long runs to check the tuna waters outside.


Salmon counts went way up for private boaters, some limits were taken and the general count was above a fish per person. One fish checker reported seeing a 32 pounder. Rockfish and lingcod bit wildly for a couple of hours and then developed a strange case of lockjaw for an hour or two, but by the end of the day, Telstar passengers had limits of rockfish and good counts of lingcod.


The staple of the boats for hire fleet was rockfish and lingcod below town because it was pretty much a guaranteed full sack of fish for their passengers. Private boaters, however, concentrated on a decent salmon bite outside the Harbor and some folks caught their limit. Even shore fishers got into the action by bobber fishing for the salmon or casting spinners.


The salmon fleet celebrated with good fishing along the Marin Coast and Channel Buoys. Wacky Jacky, Lovely Martha, Salty Lady, New Rayann,Hog Heaven, Lovely Martha and numerous other boats took hopeful passengers out and sent most back with fresh salmon for their tables. Bass Tub caught salmon too, as well as lingcod and rockfish along the Marin Coast.



Trout plants will resume during the months of October or November depending upon the water temperature, and the concessionaires will once again be purchasing their rainbows from the Mount Lassen Hatchery with the drought continuing to affect their local hatchery on site. Fishing fees have been dropped to $5 for the summer, but the use fee remains at $10 with a launch fee at $5. The lake is 36 feet from spilling, and the launch ramp is still open. The occasional catfish and crappie are filling the time until the trout plants begin.


The South Shore is open 24 hours for dry camping or discounted RV locations for evacuatees of the Butte Fire, but the gates are returning to the regular hours of 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Evacuees needing to enter after 11:00 p.m. can call the South Shore Patrol at (209) 781-6009. Catfishing is still the best bet on the lake with the whiskerfish roaming the shorelines. Bass fishing is best in the mornings with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, or reaction baits over submerged islands or main lake points. Trout plants will resume within the month of November depending upon the water temperature, and the Mount Lassen Hatchery will be providing the quality rainbows. Both launch ramps are open as the construction on the low water ramp at the South Shore has been completed.


Trout fishing is exceedingly slow for even experienced guides working the lake and covering plenty of water and depth columns. The fish are schooling, but they have been reluctant to bite. Bass fishing is best with drop-shot plastics in shad patterns at depths from 40 to 60 feet. The boat launch has a slight curve, but once you get around the curve, launching two boats at the same time is possible.


Bass fishing continued to be very good for anglers willing to launch at the Barrett’s North Shore ramp and make the long walk back to the parking lot. Plastics on the drop-shot or darthead, as well as Senkos, are working for spotted bass to 2 pounds. The minnow bite has been slow. Trout are taken with dough bait or nightcrawlers on a sliding sinker rig with a 4- to 5-foot leader. The Merced River is now closed to fishing until January 1 between the Crocker-Huffman Bridge to G Street in Snelling due to warm water conditions.


The annual Merced Irrigation Derby Fall Trout Derby has been postponed until April 9/10. With no trout plants for the past several months, action remained very slow. Spotted bass have moved into the lake from water releases from upstream McClure. The McSwain Marina is now closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.


The Butte Fire continued to dominate interest in the region during the past week, but the fire is slowly being contained. Catfish are the top species in the lake, as the whiskerfish are cruising the shallows in search of the abundant schools of small shad. Sardines, anchovies, or frozen shad are the top baits for catfish. Crappie fishing is best at night under submersible lights along locations with structure and deep water access. Few trout and kokanee trollers are heading to the lake, and reports are scarce. The launch ramp is limited to the dirt ramp at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle in essential.


The lake has dropped to the point where the courtesy dock is now unavailable. Few fishermen are willing to launch their boats given the conditions to chase the abundant supply of small striped bass.


The lake has closed due to a major reconstruction of the RV Park over the remainder of the summer, and it will reopen in February 2016 with heavy trout plants anticipated for the opener.


Night fishing for bass is the only game in the afterbay for New Melones with heavy recreational boating during the daylight hours. The drawdown of the lake has begun with the lake receding over 10% of its capacity within the past week.



At the Hwy 49 confluence, the North Fork was backed up by a sandbar and only a trickle was running into the Middle Fork.


The lake is at 42-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported boat traffic was very light on the lake. Fishermen reported catching small spotted bass on darthead worms on points from 5 to 20 feet deep.


With the lake at 16-percent capacity, boat launching was still good on the gravel near the ramp though 4-wheel drive was recommended--2-wheel drive vehicles must use caution! Bass were hitting shad Bomber Model A’s on the points.


The lake is 55 feet from full. Shelly Groce at Collins Lake Resort reported catfish to 5 pounds were hitting shrimp, anchovies, chicken livers, and nightcrawlers at night for shore anglers and those fishing off the rental dock. A few small bass were hitting nightcrawlers.


The lake is at 92-percent capacity. Skippers Cove Marina reported 12- to 16-inch rainbow trout were hitting flasher/worm combos in the “No-Ski” zone on the upper end of the lake.


The lake is at 30.8-percent capacity. The group camp and Lewis campground were closed. The French Meadows campground will close onOct. 12. Camping and fishing pressure were very light here with the lake level so low. The French Meadows boat ramp was officially closed to all but cartoppers that can be carried to the water for launching.


The lake is at 27.5-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported no campers at the campgrounds this past week, so there has been little or no fishing pressure on the lake, plus the shorelines are steep with large rock that provides little accessibility.


The lake is at 30-percent capacity—still only down 228 feet. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was still very good on steep rocky points and walls at 5 to 20 feet deep on the main body, the Slot and North Fork. Spinnerbaits, tubes, and darthead or drop-shot worms were good for 40 fish on half-day trips with darthead worms best for larger fish. Most of the spots were 12 to 13 1/2 inchers with some to 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds. The best action was found on points on outside bends with current. Launching was still good for those with 4-wheel drive at the Spillway and Bidwell Marina.


The lake is at 92.7-percent capacity. Clyde Crow at NID reported good bass fishing using flukes and ripbaits on rocky points for spots running from dinks to 4 pounders in the early morning. There were a lot of 3- to 12-inch bass being caught, and it was hard to find a keeper.


The lake is at 40.2-percent capacity. There was still a good early morning topwater bite on Spooks for bass to 4 pounds around the mooring floats in the marina, according to Clyde Crow at NID.


The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the lake was very low and fishing was slow. The boat ramp was still open and campground usage was still high.


The lake is at 42-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported there was little or no camping or fishing traffic at the lake with the water so low. The camp host reported only 2 campers in the past 2 weeks.


The lake was at 135.2-foot elevation at press time—90.4-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported bass fishing was good for 2 to 5 pounders pitching Senkos to the tules and weed beds, cranking the rock banks, and throwing topwater lures in the early morning. Steelhead were still hitting nightcrawlers at the Wilbur Road access.

– Western Outdoor News