Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 25, 2016.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
Flows from Folsom Lake increased from 500 cfs to 750 cfs over the weekend, causing the American to rise. Steelhead fishing has been best at Sailor Bar, where anglers have been using nightcrawlers or roe fished with small Spin-N-Glos. Steelhead returns to Nimbus Hatchery have topped 430 fish, well more than double the entire run last year.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
The lake was just under 400 feet elevation over the weekend, up another 10 feet from a week ago. Expect the 5 mph speed limit to be lifted early this week. The Brown’s Ravine and Granite Bay launches are already open and the Folsom Point launch opens at 405 feet. Bass fishing has been slow, but anglers are reporting seeing big numbers of shad near the surface. Expect bass, trout and landlocked salmon fishing to improve as lake levels stabilize.
▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
Smaller tides are arriving this week, and the best sturgeon bite should be found in deep water with a longer window for water movement. The 10th Annual Diamond Classic is coming on Saturday, and the Martinez area will be buzzing with boaters in search of catching and releasing a legal sturgeon. Almost every sturgeon is coming on eel with the paucity of shrimp baits, but in the upper Delta, ghost shrimp/pile worms combinations are working as well as on eel combined with nightcrawlers. Striped bass fishing is slow, as the linesides are seeking clearer and warmer water. With the two major upcoming sturgeon derbies, anglers are advised to reserve their bait well in advance. 2015 Sturgeon Report Cards are due by January 31.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
The river is finally receiving some flow from the storms, and the river needs a solid flushing to relieve itself of the plague of dying vegetation. Finding clear water is the key to success in the San Joaquin, and the clearest and warmest water is in the south Delta near Discovery Bay. A slow presentation is necessary for all species, and cut baits are working best for striped bass. A wintertime mode is in full swing, and a finesse presentation is essential for all species. Bait fishing is best for striped bass with frozen shad, anchovies, or sardines combined with scent.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 37-percent capacity—up 27 feet just this past week. The concrete ramps at the Spillway and Lime Saddle both opened by this past weekend. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was still good for those who could detect the very subtle bite. The fish were tight to the bottom from the bank to 30 feet deep on walls and points with current and hitting drop-shot and darthead worms, tubes, and Senkos. In the balmy 53-degree incoming water in the North Fork, Middle Fork and larger creeks, fish were hitting Persuader Image Blade spinnerbaits. Lots of fish were holding around the docks at Bidwell Marina and Lime Saddle Marina.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER, Brookings
Blown out for a week, but expected to be back in fishable shape by mid-week for another shot at what has been a great steelhead season so far. No rain expected for most of the week, so it will have a chance to drop out. Between storms, plunkers got into decent numbers of steelhead at Social Security Bar and the Gate Hole. Peak season is now through early March, according to guide and WON Staff Writer Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
“I couldn't find anybody who fished during the beginning of the week on the South Fork Coos, but it should have been good,” said WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. “However, I received a few phone calls from anglers wanting to share the epic day they just had fishing on the river over the weekend. Many of them were just casting and drifting a Corky/yarn with great success. It seems that everybody is catching steelhead said another friend. First part of the week should be exceptional fishing with the fresh rain over the weekend.”
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
The Elk was high all week, but anglers got a brief shot at steelhead on Thursday. With pushy water, a few steelhead were caught, along with some old salmon. The river was high again for the weekend, topping 5 feet, but should drop below the prime 4.5-foot level this week. The Sixes has been high and muddy, but could fish by the weekend.
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, West Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
The Winter Steelhead fishing has been fantastic on the West Fork Millicoma River recently. The fishing had slowed down and was slightly difficult during the first of the work week. As the river height came back up through the week the fishing just got so much better it was like comparing the night time with the day time. 3 hatchery fish a day is the harvest limit.
▪ MILLACOMA RIVER, East Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon
Steelheading was slow the first part of the week because of low flows and no rain for days. By the weekend it was on fire again. This is one of the best seasons of steelhead fishing in several years, a local told me, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
Flows remained over 25,000 cfs at the Agness gauge over the weekend, keeping the lower Rogue too high and muddy for effective steelhead fishing. The river crested early last week at 80,000 cfs, and after dropping to 20,000 cfs on Friday was rising again on Saturday. Flows are expected to drop back to 10,000 cfs byFriday, good conditions for plunkers fishing large Spin-N-Glos from shore. Expect prime conditions this weekend, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
“We might be fishing by Thursday, maybe, on the Applegate or Illinois Rivers,” said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. “Those rivers are not as high as the Rogue and should be dropping sooner. Fish on the Illinois with large Cleos or bobbers and jigs. The Applegate is about the same, plus bait, pink rubber worms, bobbers and jigs. We might see some boater action on the Rogue River by Thursday and Friday. Here bank anglers are using dark plugs and planers. The Rogue could be fishable, with Griffin Park among the better areas. Try black-and-white plugs and spinners. Boat anglers should go with larger baits, larger yarn balls, pieces of roe, chunks of shrimp and dark-colored plugs.”
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
Not much happening on the Russian right now with the flow at the Hacienda Bridge at 8000 cfs. However it looks like no rain is forecast this week so by Thursdayor Friday the clarity may improve enough to allow productive plunking with a Spin-N-Glo and cured roe, or casting size 4 spinners or 2/5-ounce Cleos in flashy colors, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville.
▪ SMITH RIVER
Flows were up and down all week with the rains, and it was mostly a scene for plunkers from shore and boat, and fishing was excellent, with about half the steelies being hatchery fish, according to guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service and WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Flows were at 70,000 cfs, but are forecasted to be around 4,000 cfs by mid week, so drift boaters will get back out on the river and fishing should be good to great.
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, South Fork, Roseburg, Oregon
Steelhead fishing was darn good in the Canyonville area of the river, according to Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. Lower on the South Fork Umpqua River fishing was slower near Roseburg. “The gang at Happy Valley Boat Ramp let me know that during the work week they had been catching a few native steelhead that were all released,” he said. “Fishing became slower during the weekend at the same boat ramp. The river had raised a bunch and became dark brown bySunday afternoon. Fish were still moving through the area, but many fewer bites. Stanton Park, which is much farther upriver, had become better towards the end of the week. With the water color staying much clearer and rising slightly, the conditions were much more favorable.”
▪ UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Oregon
Last week the fishing out of Glide was negligible, but as the weekend closed in, a couple guides spent a day or two on the river fishing for steelhead, said Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Tackle Company. A nice summer steelhead picture was sent to me that had been caught on Friday. Fishing was said to be slow and water a little high for fishing from a drift boat and river raised more throughout the weekend. The water colored up with all the fresh rainstorms.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
With flows at 2,600 cfs over the weekend, the upper Klamath remained blown out and too high to fish. Better weather is expected this week, which could have the river in good shape by the weekend. Nightcrawlers fished below divers or small plugs generally work well in higher water.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
The Klamath crested just under 20,000 cfs last week at Seiad Valley, and was down to 8,600 cfs over the weekend. With the river blown out, steelhead fishing is expected to be slow all week. When it comes back into shape, expect good numbers of fresh fish.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Flows hit 200,000 cfs last week at Terwer, the highest level in well over a year. The river was flowing at 71,000 cfs over the weekend and is expected to be blown out for at least another week.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
Rain swelled most of the Trinity last week, but the stretch just below Lewiston remained fishable for drift boaters. The river was still blown out from Douglas City down over the weekend, but expected to fall back into shape this week. Drifting roe or nightcrawlers has been effective from shore or boat. Flows were 300 cfs at Lewiston over the weekend, and 23,400 cfs at Hoopa. Expect plenty of fresh steelhead from the Klamath to shoot up the Trinity this week.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
Plastic worms, live minnows, jigs and medium sized swimbaits were the big producers again this past week. The most productive area remains midlake from Windflower Point to Henderson Point and Glenhaven. Work water depths from 15 to 25 feet in areas with rock and work the baits slowly.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
It’s been a tough bite from the Narrows to the main body and up into the creeks in the north end for bass. Colder water has put them off their feeding frenzy.Find a few trout with Apex spinners, little Speedy Shiners in gold and silvers or drifting minnows in 25 to 40 feet of water.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
The mouth of Yorty and Cherry creeks are still the best places to target trout. The lake is very muddy from all the runoff, which also makes for tough bass fishing conditions.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
Canyon Dam is in good shape and ice free and there’s a dock in place. Rec. 1 has both ramps now useable so there is access to open water. Trout fishing was a bit slow. Troll slow action threaded nightcrawlers on top and along the shoreline shallows for a few fish. Check road conditions.
▪ BAUM LAKE
As always this time of year, check weather conditions and be prepared for cold weather. A few anglers are starting to go up but there were no reports, so just wander around and try different areas. Leech patterns and midges work well here.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
Try leeches, as they are always a good bet here. And as always this time of year, check weather and road conditions and be prepared for cold weather.
▪ PIT RIVER
Still running high and not a good time to fish here yet.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
The lake is now at about 105 feet and rising, so watch out for floating debris. All of the main ramps except Antlers and Bailey Cove are now open. Trout are spread out so find where water is coming in since they are going up the creeks looking for food sources. Try for them with crappie set ups and jigs. Bass are looking for shad balls, but some have been going after crawdads and small bluegill as well. Tubes, jigs and plastic worms along with small swimbaits are what most are using.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
Some sturgeon have been reported near the mouth of the Bear River, drawn in by runoff from last week’s rains. Striper fishing has been slow in the Feather, but will likely pick up as soon as the hatchery steelhead smolts are released in February. Steelhead fishing has been slow.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
Bass and trout fishing is slow.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
The Upper Sacramento remained too high to fish over the weekend, with flows topping 9,000 cfs.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
First and Second Beach at Knight’s Landing has been the most productive area for sturgeon, which have been biting combinations of ghost shrimp and pile worms, or pile worms and eel. Flows have been quickly rising and falling, which has slowed the bite at times.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
Some sturgeon are being caught near Colusa as muddy water draws in fish from the delta. Ghost shrimp and pile worms are working best. Fishing for stripers has been slow.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Heavy rain last week again kept the Sacramento high and muddy, slowing fishing for wild rainbow trout. Better weather is expected this week and fishing could improve again by the weekend. Some late salmon are still spawning, so egg patterns or beads will likely be effective for the wild rainbows.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
Striper fishing remained slow last week at the Port of Sacramento.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 25.7-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the ice was unsafe for ice fishing—STAY OFF THE ICE.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 64.8-percent capacity. John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported the ice was now 1 1/2 to 2 feet thick with 2 to 4 feet of snow covering the ice due to the recent storms. Voss and Victor Babbitt at TFFO both said the ice fishing was okay at the dam and spillway for those using worms, bay shrimp, salmon eggs, and jigging a small Kastmaster.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the ice at the dam was still 12 inches thick, but the ice at Mallard and Honker was thinner due to the warmer temps from the “Pineapple Express” fueled storms. Dillard recommended checking the ice before getting too far off the shore at areas north of the dam. Fishing was very slow with most anglers getting skunked and the lucky ones getting a 16- to 20-inch rainbow on worms or floating dough bait. Use caution on Grizzly Road heading up to the dam due to possible icy conditions. The John Pato Davis Lake Ice Fishing Derby benefitting the American Cancer Society is scheduled for Feb. 6—contact J&J’s Grizzly Store for more info at 530-832-0270.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 42-percent capacity. There was little traffic on the lake with the poor weather, but on a nice day a boater could jig a Buzz Bomb or Laser Minnow for bigger macks in China Cove at 80 to 100 feet deep or topline troll for smaller macks over the east end humps and ridges with an F13 orange/gold Rapala.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 23-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported some his friends were doing pretty well for 12- to 16-inch rainbows while ice fishing at the dam using small jigs. Limits were a distinct possibility.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 66-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle reported access was difficult with all the recent snow.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the road to the lake was open. Use caution when getting on the ice near the dam—auger a test hole or two before getting too far off the shore. Some rainbows were being caught on worms.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is at 73-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported the area had only seen rain this past week and all the snow and ice was gone, making access easier around the lake. Shore fishermen were picking up a few small rainbows at the dam and near the boat ramp. A couple boaters were out on Sunday to do some trolling, but no one had reported back about any success.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
When the weather cooperated, Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported he was catching limits of macks ranging from 2 to 7 pounds trolling 160 to 235 feet deep with spoons and Lucky Craft minnows along North Shore. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported they sent the first charter out in weeks this past weekend and did well at South Shore out in front of the Tahoe Keys. 5 clients caught 9 macks from 3 to 5 pounds mooching live bait in 200 feet of water—they would have had limits but spent a lot of time making bait.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 23.3-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the ice was unsafe for ice fishing—STAY OFF THE ICE.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported a quiet week with only 3 big cutthroats recorded. The biggest was an 18 pounder caught-and-released by Ron Hevener of Susanville while casting a jig from shore at an undisclosed location. Amy Markarian of Mammoth Lakes landed a beautiful 16 3/4-pound cutthroat casting a black jig from the shore at Spider Point. David French of Sparks used a black woolly bugger from the shore to entice a 14-pound, 3.2-ounce lunker to strike at the South Nets.
▪ RED LAKE
Victor Babbitt at TFFO reported trout fishing was still only sporadic here with a few cutthroats hitting worms and bay shrimp near the dam.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 45-percent capacity. Ice fishing should be okay at the dam using worms, bay shrimp, and jigging a Kastmaster.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
The Topaz Lodge and Casino Fishing Derby runs until April and shore anglers were scoring some 2-pound plus fish eligible for the weekly big fish cash prize and free play. There are $100 tagged fish too. Boats can launch at the Douglas County Park ramp.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 56-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported anglers were ice fishing near the dam where access was possible off Pea Vine Ridge Road—4-wheel drive only.
▪ BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING
About the only hook & line fishing through the area was near Doran Beach and the rocks near the entrance to Bodega Harbor, where red tail and barred surf perch were caught on the beach and rockfish, cabezon and kelp greenling were taken from the rocks. Down by Lawson’s Landing, only the ospreys were aerial-fishing for surf perch. People dug up some gapers during the minus tides.
There were just a couple of days, including Sunday, when people could work the close-in sections of the jetties and catch kelp greenling and rockfish. The entrance to Stone Lagoon broke open, allowing cutthroat and steelhead to enter the lagoon.
▪ FORT BRAGG
The jetty was the main local fishing spot where people could go catch a fresh dinner and shake off the winter doldrums. The other option was to take a run down to Mendocino Headlands for cabezon, rockfish and kelp greenling. Clamming was one more option thanks to the weekend minus tides.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Heavy pounding surf undermined and washed out part of the walkway and road near the base of Pacifica Pier, forcing a complete shutdown of the Pier which previously had a partial closure (the L portion). There wasn’t much surf fishing done due to high seas, but on outgoing tides, some barred surf perch were caught. At Half Moon Bay, people caught perch and kingfish from the pier and caught rockfish from the safe portions of the jetty.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Private boaters ran to South Bay for sturgeon and bass off of Coyote Point, or they ran up to San Pablo Bay to fish the Pumphouse. Argo had a few good trips in that area, one of which wound up with limits of bass. Nick Monroe of San Francisco caught a 5-pound striper.
▪ LAKE AMADOR
Trout plants will continue this week with 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbows expected by Friday. The lake is only 18 feet from spilling, but the water clarity is stained due to the inflow. The bank and troll bite has been slow the past week with the stained water. Floating debris is moving into the lake from the inflow. Weekly plants are scheduled through the month of May, and the annual trout derby will run until March 6, 2016 with a one-time $7.00 entry fee. The launch is still on the pavement with a courtesy dock, and the second lane will open soon as the lake continues to rise.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
Trout plants continue in the South Shore Pond and South Shore launch ramp with 600 pounds during the past week. The shore bite has been hit or miss at the pond, but there have been rainbows to 8.5 pounds taken on trout bait in the pond within the past week. A few rainbows are taken by trollers using grubs near the surface in the main lake. Bass fishing has been best with 6-inch worms at depths from 10 to 45 over submerged islands or main lake points. The South Shore Ramp 2 is open, along with both ramps at the North Shore, although the lake held at 22% of capacity due to water releases.
▪ DON PEDRO
Bass fishing continues to be the top draw at the lake with the paucity of trout fishermen, and the Best Bass Tournaments had a banner turnout with 73 boats participating in Saturday’s second tournament of the year on the lake. The limits have risen to over 17 pounds with a 7.31 kicker bass. The action as all on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs at depths to 25 feet with no reaction bite. A barrier debris boom has been installed up the river arm in the Tuolumne River, and the booms are holding back floating woody debris washed down from the aftermath of the Rim Fire. The booms will be moved further upstream as conditions permit. The lake needs to rise to 697 feet for the auxiliary road ramp at Moccasin with a rise to 725 feet necessary for the regular ramp. The Fleming Meadows Launch ramp is the only ramp on the lake, and three boats can be launched at the present time. Trout trolling in the main lake remained slow. The lake rose over 6 feet to 696.95 feet in elevation and 39% of capacity.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake rose 12 feet to 630.33 feet in elevation and 12% of capacity, and the launch ramp at Barrett Cove North is open. The rapid inflow has stained the lake the color of the red clay banks. As a result, bass fishing is slow. Maintenance work is being completed on one of the gates at the dam.
▪ LAKE McSWAIN
The recent storms have limited the number of fishermen seeking the recently planted fish from Department of Fish and Wildlife. A few fish have been taken by trollers working the clearer open water in the lake with blade/’crawler combinations while bank fishermen are soaking nightcrawlers from the point by the marina. Work on the Exchequer Dam at Lake McClure has led to water releases, and the lake is currently at maximum capacity. The water is dirty from the recent inflow from McClure.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
The anticipated lake opening on President’s Day weekend is on hold as the construction of the RV Park has experienced delays. There is no estimated date of opening at the present time. The lake has risen to 66% of capacity.
▪ NEW HOGAN
Striped bass action is solid from the shoreline in Wrinkle Cove with Rat-L-Traps in chrome/blue, 6-inch pearl white swimbaits, or frozen shad. The water clarity is stained as the lake has risen to 627.33 feet in elevation and 20% of capacity.
▪ NEW MELONES
Trout fishing is starting to pick up for both bank anglers using light line and a long leader at either Glory Hole Point or the Highway 49 Bridge. The rainbows are starting to move into the shoreline and higher in the water column. Trolling is also improving with bright colored Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, or Kastmasters in the top 20 feet of the surface. Bass fishing is fair with jigs on a 3/8- to 3/4-ounce football head over the scattered bait balls. The launch ramp is limited to the dirt ramp at Glory Hole Point, and a 4WD tow vehicle in essential. The lake is at 15% of capacity, and it rose 6.5 feet this past week.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 51-percent capacity. The concrete ramp at Emerald Cove Marina was open for launching on one lane. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported spotted bass to 6 pounds were hitting brown/purple 3/4- and 1-ounce jigs on points at 30 to 60 feet deep.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake was full and spilling. Boaters need to use caution due to floating debris. Fishing was slow with all the rain, plus the water was murky.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 32 feet from full. Collins Lake Resort reported fishing was slow with all the rain and the water was murky. The best report was that one angler caught 3 rainbows to 2 pounds from the shore by the marina using floating dough bait.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is full and spilling. The water was dirty with some floating debris causing concern for boaters. Kayakers were catching a few rainbows drifting bait in the marina.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. Jim Caldwell at NID reported there was debris floating near the launch ramp at Orchard Springs Resort and cautioned boaters to watch for debris on the main body. Fishing pressure was nil with the weather.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 62.8-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported the courtesy dock was partially in the water at the marina ramp, which was helping boaters launch more easily. There was a lot of debris floating on the lake—so boaters beware! Fishing pressure was nil due to the weather.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 133.4-foot elevation at press time—77.8-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported good bass action using A-rigs on the rock banks. The waterfowl season ends on Jan. 31 with junior hunting allowed on Feb. 6-7.
– Western Outdoor News