Fishing Line

Steelhead fishing looks good for Jan. 1 opening on American River (Week of Dec. 22)

J.D. Richey, right, a Sacramento fishing guide, shows fisherman Gerry Perko a steelhead trout caught on the American River in this 2008 file photo.
J.D. Richey, right, a Sacramento fishing guide, shows fisherman Gerry Perko a steelhead trout caught on the American River in this 2008 file photo.


▪ AMERICAN RIVER It looks like steelhead fishing should be good on the Jan. 1 opener on the American. The fish that have gone upstream into the closed section are big and dumb. The larger winter run fish are starting to enter the river, too. Most fish are being caught on dead-drifted egg patterns and small caddis nymphs under indicators. Non-fly fishermen are drifting nightcrawlers, eggs, and swinging Little Cleos and Kastmasters.

▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER side — The north Delta striper bite continued to be absent with the arrival of muddy water from the Sacramento River. Stripers are either moving into deep water off of Sherman Island or in the shallows near Pittsburg with frozen shad or live mudsuckers. Large stripers in excess of 20 pounds have been weighed in from the Pittsburg area. Sturgeon fishing has been best in Montezuma Slough or Grizzly Bay with lamprey eel or salmon roe, but the proximity to weekend duck hunters has been a concern. The wall of debris has made its way to the Benicia shores.

▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side — The river continued to be muddy, but there are pockets of clear water south of Disappointment Slough. Striper fishing is limited to a few schoolies on cut baits or with topwater lures or swimbaits in Discovery Bay. The bluegill have gone deep, and anglers have to work to find the panfish from the banks. The hyacinth is starting to die off, but it is still plaguing launch ramps and boating activity.

▪ LAKE AMADOR Regular trout plants are scheduled from Mt. Lassen Trout Farm on a weekly basis for the remainder of the season, although the past week’s plant was placed on hold due to the recent storms. The lake is only 26 feet from spilling, having risen 25 feet in the past few weeks. The annual Trout Derby started on November 24, and it will run untilMarch 1 for an entry fee of $7. Bank anglers are scoring with trout dough bait, white crappie jigs, or nightcrawlers from the dam, the spillway, and along the Boathouse Docks. Trolling is improving with a variety of lures.


▪ CHETCO RIVER, Oregon – Flows went up to 27,000 cfs on Sunday, 10 feet up from just 2 days prior. This is about the time for steelheading to begin in earnest, so the rains are timed just right. Anglers should be able to get back out on the river around Christmas, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, and conditions should be prime through New Years. It looks like the “Bubble Season” will be Oct. 1-11, 2015, if you want to mark your calendar.

▪ ELK, SIXES RIVERS, Oregon — Both rivers were still producing a few late season kings over the weekend, experienced firsthand by WON Field Reporter Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, who put clients on chromers both days. Salmon season is definitely winding down, though.

▪ NOYO RIVER - Coho salmon filled the basin, readying to go up Noyo River. Steelhead are probably not far behind, opined John Gebers at Noyo Fishing Center.

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon – Rated the best bet right now for steelhead, despite high flows. Bank anglers and a few boaters were getting into steelhead while plunking and running plugs at Dunkelberger Bar, Huntley Park and Canfield Riffle. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said that Spin-N-Glos and roe or plugs were also working.

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon Lots of rain this week has blown out the river for the next 3 or 4 days. If the water levels go down, we should be seeing some steelhead moving up from the coast, said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle. “Probably the best fishing early will be in the Rand and Galice areas,” he said. “Anglers will probably get their best action on back-trolled black-and-white plugs.”

▪ RUSSIAN RIVER – Blown out big time over the weekend, flowing mud at 8,000 cfs on Sunday, but without rain the in the forecast, there should be steelhead available as it clears. Fishing will begin at Wohler Bridge, Dry Creek and around Healdsburg area around Christmas, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville.

▪ SMITH RIVER — The river hit its highest level of the year at 60,000 cfs on Sunday, from just 5,000 on Friday. Without rain in the forescast, it should drop into shape by midweek, so by the time you read this it should be fishing. Everyone is hoping this rain brought in the steelhead, since it was pretty slow action prior to the rain, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Oregon - Heavy rains blew the Umpqua out big time over the weekend, and the river likely won't fish for several days. Before the rain, plunkers were finding steelhead below Elkton. Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said most of the fish were caught on Spin-N-Glos and were wild, but there were a handful of hatchery fish as well. One guide fished from his jet boat, side-drifting roe, and hooked seven steelhead, landing five, including one hatchery steelhead.


▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam – Steelheading continued to be very good below Iron Gate Dam, even with the big storm. The river was fishable down to the I-5 bridge, but high and muddy below the Shasta River. Fish are taking crawdad patterned plugs, drifted nightcrawlers and flies either on the swing or dead-drifted under indicators. Even with the heavy rains, the river is still in great shape and the fishable below Orleans.

▪ TRINITY RIVER – Steelhead fishing on the Trinity River was blown out throughout the river except in the uppermost reaches below Lewiston. Bigger winter run steelhead have been starting to come into the upper river.


▪ CLEAR LAKE – Thanks to the rain, the current water level is close to two feet ahead of last year, but still almost three feet below the historical average for December. The bite that is so popular with winter fisherman, bass on minnows, is still a no show. Fishing with artificials is still a better bet right now and the more successful anglers are putting together 10 to 12 fish days while others are struggling to find a fish or two. The launch ramps at Lakeside County Park and the State Park have reopened. The Redbud launch is still temporarily closed due to construction.

▪ LAKE BERRYESSA – In the main body from the Narrows down to the dam has been a popular spot for spotted and smallmouth bass. The bigger main body points have been the spot for swimbaits. Putah Creek and Markely Cove ramps are open and the one at Capell Cove should reopen soon with the rising water.

▪ LAKE SONOMA - With muddy water, the bass bite got tougher. It was fishing well before the storms rolled through, so just give it a few weeks to clear up. The public launch ramp is still in use with the private marina still closed.


▪ ALMANOR LAKE – This is a great winter fishery with lots of big winter trout caught. The ramps at Canyon Dam, USFS at Almanor and Rec. 1 and 2 ramps are operational. In-between storms has been a good bet, since there has been no fishing pressure.

▪ BAUM LAKE – With other bodies of water closed, this continues to be a good option with consistent fishing. More rain has added to the good bite, but it hasn’t hurt the clarity.

▪ EAGLE LAKE – Closes for the season on Dec. 31. The bite continues to be good for the few still fishing. The dock at the south end has been pulled.

▪ FALL RIVER – This is one of the rivers that closed on Nov. 15.

▪ UPPER HAT CREEK – Closed for the season.

▪ McCLOUD RIVER – Closed for the season.

▪ PIT RIVER Rain has muddied up Nos. 4 and 5 so try No. 3 first. Fishing has been good, but as usual you’ll need to move around to find the cleaner water and also need to add more weights to your setups. Check the weather and carry chains.

▪ SHASTA LAKE – You’ll find bass scattered throughout the lake chasing the scattered bait, but the clarity has been a real problem due to the runoff dumping a lot of silt back into the system from what were dry creek beds still. The lake is also rising, so that adds to the scattering of fish. Watch out for a lot of debris in the system. The low water ramp at Sugarloaf is back in but there’s no dock.


▪ BERKELEY El Dorado and New El Dorado III ran trips Thursday and over the weekend. The Farallones were the destination when the seas would allow. Steady limits of both crabs and rockfish, highlighted by catches of lingcod to 25 pounds were the norm. Sean Livingston got the big lingcod.

▪ BODEGA BAY/TOMALES BAY – Little fishing was done on Bodega Bay waters due to weather. Dock and limited jetty action were the only viable options for harbor dwellers. Tomales Bay, however, had a good leopard shark bite going on. Some crabs were taken from the Bay, but the influx of fresh water seemed to make the crabs somewhat uncooperative. New Sea Angler fished Saturday and Sunday off of Russian River, scoring limits of crabs and rockfish plus some lingcod.

▪ EMERYVILLE – Limits of rockfish and crabs plus good counts of lingcod made for a good week of fishing the Farallon Islands for Emeryville boats New Salmon Queen, New Huck Finn, Sea Wolf and New Seeker. The wildest catch of the week was one very angry and distraught 8-pound wolf eel brought aboard the Sea Wolf.

▪ EUREKA – Boating was shut down on the north coast by harsh weather and monster swells. Jetties at Eureka, Crescent City and Trinidad were rendered unsafe by huge swells. All fish and crab effort was focused inside Humboldt Bay where the saltwater sloughs, the area behind the PG&E Plant and over at the Samoa Boat Ramp gave people places to wet a line or work for a few crabs. Fishing results included perch, flounder, sharks and rays.

▪ FORT BRAGG – Coho salmon filled the basin, readying to go up Noyo River. Steelhead are probably not far behind, opined John Gebers at Noyo Fishing Center. Boats did not go outside the Harbor due to sea conditions and generally stormy weather. The best story of the week was about a guy fishing the jetty catching a perch and then using it to catch a keeper lingcod.

▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA – Hefty striped bass were caught in the surf at Pacifica. Huli Cat fished rockfish and crabs off of San Gregorio with good results, even given the swells that made Mavericks break big-time. Riptide likewise fished on Sunday, working up good numbers of hungry rockfish and lingcod. Crabbing inside the harbor was the mainstay of activity, though some did fish the breakwater.

▪ SAN FRANCISCO – A herring spawn near the San Mateo bridge got the sturgeon to biting and some catches were reported. Striper catches came from near Coyote Point. Argo fished San Pablo Bay and reported success on sturgeon and striped bass.


▪ BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 17.5-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the best chance at catching a rainbow or brown was at the inlet or the dam.

▪ CAPLES LAKE – The lake is at 67-percent capacity. Lots of snow here, but the lake has not frozen over yet, though some ice was forming on the west end. John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported they were open for the winter season until March.

▪ CARSON RIVER (East) – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the flows were beautiful in the East Carson, but there was no fishing pressure with the rainy cold weather.

▪ DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard reported shore fishing was slow.

▪ DONNER LAKE – The lake is at 42-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported a few small macks were hitting Rapalas and spoons cast off the shore on overcast days or in the evenings.

▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported a Reno angler caught a limit of 18-inch rainbows on marshmallow/worms at Turkey Point. The dam was producing a few rainbows on nightcrawlers and floating dough bait. No ice has formed yet on the lake.

▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 65-percent capacity. This lake provides the only chance at fishing in the Crystal Basin. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle reported shore anglers were picking up rainbows and browns at the dam using worms.

▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the weather was brutal here and fishermen were staying home.

▪ JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR – The lake is at 69-percent capacity. With the recent snows, call the Sierraville Ranger Station to find out about the latest road conditions and access. If it’s snowed in, it’s snowmobile only!

▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) – Sly Park Resort reported both boaters and shore fishermen out on Sunday when WON called, but no one had reported any success.

▪ LAKE TAHOE Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported catching limits of macks on morning and afternoon trips. Morning trips produced bigger fish, 4 to 7 pounders, but required more searching at 160 to 400 feet deep. The afternoon trips found fish stacked up at 180 to 220 feet deep, but only running 2 1/2 to 5 pounds. Self was moving between Dollar Point and Crystal Bay Point to keep on fish. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported they were still doing well mooching live bait at 150 to 170 feet deep for limits of 4- to 5-pound macks. One trip produced four 8 to 10 pounders trolling Trophy Sticks on toplines in 500 feet of water.

▪ PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 29-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports rated this lake as slow.

▪ PYRAMID LAKE – Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported they weighed in eight double-digit fish to almost 19 pounds this past week. All but one of the big fish were caught off the shore from Wizard’s Cove to Popcorn—the boat fish was landed at Hell’s Kitchen. Fishing pressure was down due to the weather and impending holidays. George Molino at Cutthroat Charters reported picking up a few fish in windy weather trolling Apex at 10 to 40 feet deep from south of the Nets to Windlass. Joe Mendes at Eagle Eye Charters was doing very well north of Anaho Island trolling Apex at 37 to 47 feet deep. One trip with 2 anglers scored 20 fish to 24 inches. The next day the bite was red-hot for 1 1/2 hours when 4 clients caught 10 cutthroats.

▪ RED LAKE – No safe ice yet.

▪ SILVER LAKE – The lake is at 39-percent capacity. No safe ice yet.

▪ STAMPEDE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 25-percent capacity. There’s nothing happening here, according to Mountain Hardware and Sports.

▪ TRUCKEE RIVER – Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the flows were up to 200 cfs below the Boca Outlet. The cold water temps had trout lethargic and tough to catch. You virtually had to hit them on the head with the fly, and don’t bother going out until late morning or early afternoon to give the water a chance to warm up a degree or two if possible.

▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle reported the rough, potholed road to the lake was the biggest obstacle for someone to overcome trying to fish this lake. He reported the macks were still spawning and the bite would be much better in late January-February.

▪ WEST WALKER RIVER – Pam Hamic at the West Walker Motel reported the flows were up, but fishing pressure was light. The best area to try was in ranch land north of Walker with access at the 3 bridges.


▪ CAMANCHE LAKETrout plants are scheduled on a weekly basis with loads of Mount Lassen Trout released into the lake at both the North and South Shore launch ramps as well as into the South Shore Trout Pond. A special holiday plant will occur during Christmas week. The rainbows are moving towards the surface and the shorelines within easy access from the shorelines. Both launch ramps are open with no problem launching, and trollers are focusing around the Narrows or the dam.

▪ DON PEDRO RESERVOIR – Minimal interest during the past week with the heavy rains, but the best fishing is found from the banks with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, or trout dough bait from Fleming Meadows or Blue Oaks. Few trollers are working the lake at the present time, with most Motherlode fishermen targeting nearby New Melones or Lake Camanche. Shad-patterned lures coated with Pro-Cure gels behind side planers or with a long setback should be effective. The bass bite continued to be slow with the best action on live minnows from the shorelines. The Flemings Meadow Launch Ramp is still a viable option for launching, and the Marina is still in the water. There is a 5 mph speed limit from the ramp at Blue Oaks Recreation Area to the Buoy Line at the mouth of Fleming Bay.

▪ LAKE McCLURE – The lake is rising slowly, but there has been minimal change over the past week, with Barrett Cove North Ramp listed as the sole entrance for boats accessing the lake, and the ramp is open only during daylight hours. The South Boat Ramp at Barrett Cove remains closed as a result of the drought, and both the Barrett Cove and McClure Point Marinas remain closed. Small boats such as kayaks and canoes are able to be launched from the shoreline.

▪ LAKE McSWAIN – A Calaveras Trout Farm plant of 500 pounds occurred on December 18, and bank fishing has improved around the Handicapped Dock with Pot O’ Gold spoons, blue/silver Kastmasters, or trout bait in yellow, bubble gum, or green. Bank fishermen have been averaging from 3 to 5 trout per rod. Trolling has been slow with few boats on the water.

▪ NEW HOGAN RESERVOIR – Minimal change with few fishermen targeting the lake due to the low water conditions. The launch ramp is still open without a courtesy dock, but launching is a two-person job. The best fishing is yet to occur during the spring months.

▪ NEW MELONES RESERVOIR – The lake has risen to the point where the Glory Hole Launch Ramp is back on the concrete ramp. Trout fishing continued to improve with bank anglers scoring along the Highway 49 Bridge with bright colors of trout dough bait, white marshmallows or nightcrawlers. Both the bass and trout are keying on the large schools of small shad. Bass action is solid with shakey-head plastics or California Reservoir Lure’s jigs.

▪ LAKE PARDEE – Closed for the season until February 2015.

▪ TULLOCH RESERVOIR – The prime time for trout fishing is during the months of November through January, and trolling near the surface with shad-patterned spoons or blade/’crawler combinations are producing numbers of small rainbows. Few fishermen have been targeting the lake despite the potential for solid action.


▪ FEATHER RIVER — Striped bass were hitting X-Rap Rapalas below the Thermalito Afterbay. Steelhead fishing had slowed in the Low Flow Section.

▪ FOLSOM LAKEFishing has been good for spots around 2 pounds off points around the Peninsula. Drop-shot Robo Worms and slowly drag jigs. Catfish have been eating hellgrammites that have been washed into the lake at creek inlets around the lake. New York Creek has been one of the better spots. Some holdover trout are taking small Rapalas and Speedy Shiners at about 25 feet deep.

▪ SACRAMENTO, Hamilton City – Tributaries flowing into the river from Cow Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Battle Creek are still flowing mud. Steelhead fishing had been outstanding, but it’s slowed too.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento — The salmon season ended Dec. 16 and went out with a whimper. Small schools of late run salmon continued to swim up the river, but there weren’t any large sustained runs, and to make the situation worse, the river has been high and muddy. Sturgeon fishing has been picking up and has been good from Cache Slough to Knight’s Landing. It’s likely many more sturgeon have entered the river in the high water. The great steelhead fishing should return when the river drops and clears.

▪ YUBA RIVER – The Yuba River is high and muddy, but is dropping and clearing, and fishing, especially fly fishing with San Juan Worms should be good in the side channels out of the main current.


▪ AMERICAN RIVER — The cold, wet weather bumped the flows up, but made for less than enjoyable fishing conditions—especially when you have to hike down to the river and then release all the fish you catch.

▪ BULLARDS BAR – The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported there was no fishing pressure on the lake due to the rain. The concrete launch ramp at Emerald Cove should be operational in another week or so with the water rising a foot per day from all the rain.

▪ CAMP FAR WEST – The lake has filled to around 75-percent capacity in the past 3 weeks with all the rain—up from 4-percent at its lowest level!!! Kathy DeRossett at North Shore Resort reported the boat ramp was open with no restrictions. The lake was muddy with some debris floating that could be a boating hazard.

▪ COLLINS LAKEThe lake is 38 feet from full. Trout were still hitting, but no limits were checked in this past week, only 1 or 2 rainbows at best. A few catfish were caught on bait. The incoming water near the bridge was muddy, but the water was clear at the dam.

▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR – The lake is at 96-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported one of the houseboaters in the marina was catching two or three 12- to 14-inch rainbows off the back of the boat on worms each day. Earlier in the week the same angler caught and released 4-and 5-pound rainbows off the back of his houseboat.

▪ FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR – The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the road was closed by snow at this time and not cleared by the County. This will be the last report until spring.

▪ LAKE OROVILLE — The lake is at 35-percent capacity—up 12 feet this past week to 206 feet from full. The gravel Spillway ramp was closed. The DWR will reopen the new concrete extension ramp when the water rises further. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the lake had lots of big debris floating creating boating hazards. Bass fishing was still good from the bank to 25 feet deep depending on location. Incoming water was a reliable pattern where the water temp was at least 52 to 54 degrees using spinnerbaits, drop-shot or darthead worms, tubes, jigs, crankbaits, and swimbaits on points and walls. In dirtier water use chartreuse and white, in clearer water stick with shad colors. When you found the bass, 40 fish days were possible.

▪ ROLLINS LAKE – The lake is at 93-percent capacity. The lake was muddy and fishing pressure was low according to Jim Caldwell at NID.

▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE – The lake is at 56-percent capacity. The water color was better here and trollers were picking up a few 12- to 13-inch rainbows at the dam. Boat launching was good for all size boats with the rise in the lake level.

▪ SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR – The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the road into the boat ramp was open but few folks were visiting this past week due to the rain.

▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY – The lake was at 135.4-foot elevation at press time—92-percent capacity. The steelhead bite at Wilbur Road was still the safest bet on the lake—drifting nightcrawlers by boat or dragging across the bottom from shore. Bass fishermen should stay north of the Hwy 162 Bridge to avoid conflict with duck hunters.

– Western Outdoor News