Fishing Line

Fishing Line: Trout, bass bite bring it back to basics

Rainbow trout are among the best bets for north state anglers this week.
Rainbow trout are among the best bets for north state anglers this week. Fresno Bee file

TOP PICKS

▪ 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. Holdover Donaldson trout from previous year’s planting from the Lake Amador Trout Farm remain in the lake with a 14.1-pound holdover landed this week. Nearly 16,200 pounds of rainbows to 12 pounds have been released since Oct. The annual Lake Amador Trout Derby lasts until March 1.

▪ CAMANCHE LAKETrout plants are scheduled on a weekly basis with loads of Mt. Lassen trout released into the lake at both the North and South Shore launch ramps as well as into the South Shore Trout Pond. 600 pounds of rainbows were released into the North Shore Launch Ramp and the pond this week. Bright colored Rapalas in hot steel or firetiger or grubs in white or orange are working from the surface to 10 feet in depth. Bank anglers are setting up near the launch ramp or still fishing out of their boats in the back cove. A huge largemouth bass over 14 pounds was caught and released this week, but no name or information was provided.

▪ LAKE BERRYESSA The trout bite has been good but they are scattered. Fishing from the Narrows down to the dam has been a popular spot for bass and there has been a good bite. P-Line Laser minnows and drop-shotting 6-inch Roboworms in Monster Shad color as well as jigs, A-rigs, and Senkos are also top methods for catching all three species of bass now.

▪ LAKE OROVILLE — The lake is at 39-percent capacity—still down 184 feet. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported fishing was hit-or-miss depending on the weather. Earlier in the week, a 4-hour trip produced 60 bass on tubes and jigs fished on steeper walls and points from 5 to 20 feet deep. By the weekend with a low pressure front in place, an all day trip only yielded 15 bass on tubes, jigs, and drop-shot worms. The lake is clearing, but there’s still a lot of debris on the lake. The low water parking lot at Bidwell was just about ready to get flooded late this past week—the next ramp should open soon. The extension ramp at the Spillway was open and the main ramp was a week or two out from becoming usable. The lower extension ramp at Lime Saddle Marina was open.

NORTH COAST RIVERS

▪ CHETCO RIVER, Oregon – There’s a lot of steelhead in the lower river, but low flows made it tough fishing last week, according to WON Staff Writer and guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Slow-drifted roe has been best, although a few have hit plugs, but with the low water, it’s best fishing from daylight until about 9 a.m.

▪ COOS RIVER, South Fork, Coos Bay, Oregon - With very few boats to contend with, a driftboat angler can most likely have their pick of places to fish on the lower section now. Some anglers found themselves having exceptionally good day fishing as they reported up to 14 steelhead on their guided trips. None of the bank anglers were able too give me numbers that good, but my understanding is that many of the fisherman could release their second fish of the day and continue fishing if they wanted to, since Oregon law doesn’t allow an angler to continue fishing after filling their limit.

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon – Reports coming in over the last week have been discouraging for the lower end of the Rogue River, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. Even though some people have mentioned a few steelhead being caught, the overall winter steelhead fishing has slowed drastically. This is not the end of the run, nor is it anywhere near close to the end of the 2015 steelhead season, they just aren’t here yet, or conditions aren’t right.

▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon Fishing has been pretty good in this part of the river, according to guide Troy Whitaker of U-Save Tackle in Grant’s Pass. Best spots are below the Applegate River using side-drifted roe or small yarn balls soaked in Pautze’s nectar, and plugs are also working. Best areas include Griffin Park, but generally good throughout the middle section. From the banks, fish at Robinson Bridge, Whitehorse and Finley bend. The Applegate and Illinois Rivers are getting low, with clear water, so use small Cleos and botton bounce roe for best results.

▪ RUSSIAN RIVER – Flows at 750 cfs with 3 feet of visibility and steelhead are throughout the river now, and moving up all the time. Anglers are scoring from boats and from shore, using bait or lures. Warm Springs Hatchery has 150 steelies so far, and Coyote has 50. For drifters, use caution at Wohler Dam, as flows are diverted into the willows.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, Sutherlin, Oregon Steelhead fishing was slow-paced this last week, with very little competition from other anglers, according to guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. “I found the water conditions to be a little dark and still slightly higher than what I think optimum conditions should be,” he said. “ The water temperature was a couple degrees to the cool side. There was only one other driftboat in my favorite section, making it a very peaceful day with a couple friends while out fishing. We only hooked one steelhead and had a couple other bites during our 7-hour attempt. Other local fisherman and friends had better luck then we did, but it’s still much slower this last week than the week before. Fishing conditions are expected to greatly improve over the next several weeks.

▪ UMPQUA RIVER, North Fork, Glide, Oregon - The river is low, cold and emerald green. A little early to be hearing about many winter steelhead being caught in the Glide area, however there have been more colorful summer-run steelhead being caught between Colliding Rivers and Whistlers Bend Park. A local guide shared a couple stories of 6-fish days with a couple of his clients from last week. The fish seem to be biting well on more colorful yarn balls, said guide Curtis Palmer.

TRINITY/KLAMATH RIVERS

▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate Dam – Steelhead fishing has been good from the hatchery to Klamathon Bridge, with guides hooking up to a dozen fish a day between 1 and 7 pounds. Plugs such as Rapalas and crawfish imitations are tricking steelhead, along with nightcrawlers fished behind jet divers. Temperatures were fairly warm last week, with lows in the upper 30s and highs in the mid-50s, making fishing even more pleasant. Flows unexpectedly shot up to 1,800 cfs, which briefly slowed the action.

▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp – The middle section of the Klamath is clearing and some winter steelhead have arrived. Fishing for small adults and halfpounders is fair in the Wetchpec and Orleans area.

▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glenn – The river has dropped into shape for jet boaters side-drifting for winter steelhead. Although a few adults were caught early last week, halfpounders made up most of the catch through the weekend, according to guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips. Lots of smolts are in the river, so fishing roe is difficult.

▪ TRINITY RIVER – Guides have switched to plugs because of dirty water in the upper river, and are finding success on a mix of late summer and early winter steelhead. MagLip 3.5 plugs with scent are working best. Some steelhead to 10 pounds have been caught. The water is cleaner the further downstream anglers get from the dam. Good numbers of halfpounders are present from Hawkins Bar to Hoopa. Rain expected late this week should giving fishing a boost by early next week.

DELTA REGION

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER side — Small tides brought out fewer sturgeon during the week, and the best action continued in lower Suisun Bay between the Benicia/Martinez Bridge up to the Mothball Fleet or further upriver above Rio Vista. Striper fishing overall has been slow, but several large fish in the 30- to 40-pound range have been caught and kept on live splittail or bullheads around the Firing Line, the Green Buoy, and the Big Cut in the past week. Lamprey eel remained the top bait for sturgeon while grass shrimp remained difficult to obtain. Bait reservations for the upcoming sturgeon derbies are an absolute must to secure a supply.

▪ SAN JOAQUIN RIVER side — Cold and muddy water is the rule, but there are pockets of clear water. Smell and vibration are the keys, and anchovies, sardines, or butterflied shad are working best for stripers. Largemouth bass can be enticed to bite, but a slow presentation is necessary, along with smell and vibration. Bluegill have gone deep in the cold water, and catfish are in hiding. Live mudsuckers are abundant, but bullheads and grass shrimp remain scarce.

NORTH COAST LAKES

▪ CLEAR LAKE – All of the launch ramps are open due to water that is now higher than it was at this time last year. The winter minnow bite has still not picked up because there is a ton of bait in the system for bass to feast on. The best bet is to stick to the midlake section of the lake where the water is clearer. The better bites are coming anywhere between 5 and 25 feet of water on plastic worms and jerk baits.

▪ LAKE SONOMA - When the waters clear up and the lake level stabilizes the bass fishing will pick up again. There is very little fishing pressure here. The public launch ramp is still in use but the private marina still closed.

NORTHEASTERN AREA

▪ ALMANOR LAKE – The ramps at Canyon Dam, the USFS at Almanor and Rec. 1 and 2 ramps are operational. Trolling the east basin has been the better bet. Some coves with shade are starting to ice over in the west basin.

▪ BAUM LAKE – With other bodies of water closed, this continues to be a good option with consistent fishing. This lake is always a good winter option with its hungry trout.

▪ FALL RIVER – Closed for the season.

▪ UPPER HAT CREEK – Closed for the season.

▪ McCLOUD RIVER – Closed for the season.

▪ PIT RIVER The Fly Shop suggests starting at Pit no. 3 and working your way down to Pit 4 and 5 since they may be more stained and have higher flows. Sunny days bring some hatches on.

▪ SHASTA LAKE – Clarity is improving and so is the fishing. Watch out for debris still in the system. Both trout and bass will be in the top 10 feet feasting on the shad. Chartreuse and black back crankbaits or silver shad minnow patterns for small swimbaits have been productive for bass.

NORCAL SALTWATER

▪ BERKELEY Happy Hooker fished San Pablo Bay to catch stripers and leopard sharks. Crewmember Mike Veronne on Happy Hooker got engaged! New El Dorado III ran outside the Gate to haul 800 sanddabs, plus sand soles and rock soles and 80 crabs.

▪ BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING – Flat water greeted New Sea Angler over the weekend on a crab only trip and it didn’t take too long to pull limits for 10 passengers. A 6-pak boat nearby got plenty of sanddabs. Shore fishers up the coast nailed the greenlings, rockfish and cabezon. Surf fishers did well near Lawson’s Landing. Crabbers out of the Landing did better on open water than inside Tomales Bay.

▪ EMERYVILLE – Emeryville Sportfishing is currently closed, but intends to begin running sturgeon trips in late February, then halibut, salmon and other fish in April. Meanwhile, people fished the shoreline for perch and an occasional striped bass, using pile worms or small grubs and swimbaits.

▪ EUREKA – Black rockfish and kelp greenling gave jetty fishers something to be happy about on both the north and south jetties. Other rocky spots gave up rockfish and cabezon. Crabbing inside the bay from shore resulted in enough for a small dinner. Boaters outside the Bay hauled in better numbers. Longer soaks were beneficial.

▪ FORT BRAGG – A 5- or 6-year-old girl caught a keeper lingcod from the jetty and became the pride of Fort Bragg. Seahawk and Telstar both had days when they pulled limits of crabs for all passengers. On other days, the crabs seemed a mite more scarce.

▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA – Big striped bass and one very big white seabass wowed people at Pacifica. Big fish of the week was a 49-pound white seabass caught from the surf. Surf perch provided plenty of regular action on Pacifica and Lindamar beaches. On the pier, crabbing went exceptionally well, with brisk sales of snares.

▪ SAN FRANCISCO Argo fished San Pablo Bay and got into the bass and sturgeon. Sharra Carr and Jayme Tesser, both of Sacramento, each caught 41-inch sturgeon. For the second time in 3 trips, a green sturgeon was caught.

SIERRA LAKES/RIVERS

▪ BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 16-percent capacity. According to Mountain Hardware and Sports, the ice was way too scary here so stay off and stay alive! It’s been too warm to form good ice.

▪ CAPLES LAKE – The lake is at 67-percent capacity. John Voss at Caples Lake Resort reported lots of folks were ice fishing and skating on 3 to 6 inches of ice. Ice fish on snow covered ice to avoid slipping injuries.

▪ CARSON RIVER (East) – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported there were no fishermen seen on the river below Hangman’s Bridge this past week. Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported flyfishing was slow.

▪ DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 54-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing reported the ice was still marginal for safe ice fishing. The ice from Coot Bay to the dam was only 4 inches thick and the temps didn’t drop below freezing this past Friday and Saturday. The ice at Fairview was only 3 to 3 1/2 inches thick. With warmer weather in the forecast, call ahead before making a long trip here for ice fishing—Dillard at 530-966-5500 or the Grizzly Store at 530-832-0270.

▪ DONNER LAKE – The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Boaters metering deeper water for macks were doing well jigging at 80 to 150 feet. Start shallower in the early morning and work deeper as the sun hits the water.

▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 35-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported the ice here wasn’t safe enough for fishing with lots of open water still showing. Shore fishermen were still able to fish where there was open water along the bank.

▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 66.5-percent capacity. There was no problem getting to the lake with a boat with the dry weather. Trollers should be able to pick up a few rainbows on a dodger/nightcrawler.

▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the roads were clear to the lake, but fishing pressure was low. Try at the dam with inflated nightcrawlers or floating dough bait.

▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) – The lake is at 69-percent capacity. Denise Cole at Sly Park Resort reported Ron Baker caught a 16-inch, 2-pound brown trout trolling a Kokanee Killer.

▪ LAKE TAHOE Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported doing well on both morning and afternoon trips for limits of macks. The morning trips were producing bigger average fish—4 to 7 pounds, while the afternoon trips (2 to 5 p.m.) were kicking out 2 to 8 pounders. Self was trolling 150 to 220 feet deep between Tahoe City and Crystal Bay Point. Zack Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported his boats were doing well for limits of macks in the mornings at Rubicon Bay and in the afternoons off the Tahoe Keys at South Shore—all caught mooching live bait on the bottom behind flashers.

▪ PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 30-percent capacity. Brian Nylund at Mountain Hardware and Sports fished here this past week and found that the warmer weather had melted the ice from 8 to 9 inches thick to 4 to 6 inches thick—use caution when on the ice. Some fishermen were doing well using bay shrimp for bait.

▪ PYRAMID LAKE – Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported they only weighed in 5 fish over 10 pounds this past week, topped by a 16-pound, 5.6-ounce cutthroat caught by Robert Davis of Sparks while casting a red and white spoon from the shore at Block House. A 12, two 11s, and a 10 were caught by trollers since the calm weather favored the boaters this past week. Trollers were catching good numbers of smaller fish on Apex and FlatFish at 25 to 35 feet deep.

▪ RED LAKE – Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO) reported the ice fishing had slowed. Fishermen were doing well if they picked up 3 or 4 cutthroats—limits were rare. The best bet was using a piece of worm in 3 to 8 feet of water 10 to 30 feet off the dam.

▪ SILVER LAKE – The lake is at 43-percent capacity. With ice still only 3 to 6 inches thick at Caples, conditions should be even less favorable here. Use extreme caution on the ice—safe ice needs to be 5 to 6 inches, not 3 to 5 inches.

▪ STAMPEDE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 25-percent capacity. Boaters launching through the mud with 4-wheel drive were still picking up some macks trolling in deeper water 60 to 80 feet deep.

▪ TOPAZ LAKE — Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported he needed 3 to 4 more feet of water to get his marina back in operation and it didn’t look good for any rain soon. The County Park was not launching anything bigger than small aluminum boats. Dave Rossman at the Topaz Lodge and Casino reported the biggest trout caught todate in the Fishing Derby was a 4.10-pound rainbow taken by James Hubbard of Gardnerville. 90-percent of the fish weighed in so far for the derby were caught from the shore using floating dough bait or a marshmallow and nightcrawler combo.

▪ TRUCKEE RIVER – With the low water level, mergansers have been a plague on the smaller trout in the system. Tony Marotta at Mountain Hardware and Sports reported catching some fish on dries in the Glenshire area—uncommon for the winter, but the weather has been unseasonably warm. The Little Truckee was seeing heavy pressure above Boca—bring fine tippets, small flies, and your own rock.

▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 62-percent capacity. Fishing was slow here and the road conditions were still poor due to heavy logging traffic.

▪ WEST WALKER RIVER – Sam Foster reported the flows were great and the weather was beautiful this past week—all that was needed were some fishermen to try for the holdover rainbows using artificial lures with barbless hooks.

MOTHER LODE LAKES

▪ DON PEDRO RESERVOIR – The lake has risen to the point where the Blue Oaks Launch Ramp is back in the water. Trout fishermen have been scarce, but some huge largemouth bass over 8 pounds were the highlights of last Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament won by the team of Jason Remmers/Josh Fry with a 24.74-pound limit. Large rainbow trout patterned swimbaits such as Huddleston ROF 12 in light trout are working on a slow presentation along the bottom for the larger fish. Drop-shotting with shad-patterned plastics with heavy scent have been effective for numbers. Trout action has been best for trollers with fire tiger Rapalas near the surface while bank fishermen are picking up planters with salmon eggs, floating nightcrawlers, or various colors of trout dough bait near the Fleming Meadows or Blue Oaks ramps. Flemings Meadow and Blue Oaks Launch Ramps are open, but there is still 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 remains extremely low, and the only access for boats is from the shoreline for small portable vessels such as kayaks or canoes. All launch ramps are currently closed. Few anglers are targeting the lake.

▪ LAKE McSWAIN – The lake has not been planted since December 18, and the best action remained from the banks with various colors of trout dough bait such as chartreuse or with trout eggs in bubble gum. The Brush Pile or the Handicapped Docks have been the top areas. There were only three boat trailers in the parking lot over the weekend, as few boats have been launching, although the lake is full.

▪ NEW HOGAN RESERVOIR – The courtesy dock is back in the water, and striper fishermen are switching up their techniques by drifting live minnows instead of rolling shad in the cold water. Vertical jigging with spoons along the edges of structure is also a productive technique for the small stripers.

▪ NEW MELONES RESERVOIR – Trout fishing is solid as the rainbows are in winter mode, moving to the surface and along the shorelines. Rapalas or similar lures in shad or bright patterns are effective for planted fish. Larger rainbows and browns are either in the deep water under the shad schools or in the backs of creeks adjacent to submerged structure. The best numbers are near the Highway 49 Bridge with the best quality of rainbow near the dam. Shoreline fishermen are getting in on the action with trout dough bait on a long leader off of the bottom. The lake has risen to the point where the Glory Hole Launch Ramp is back on the concrete ramp. The swimbait bite is starting to emerge for bass, but the best action for numbers remained on plastics at depths from 25 to 65 feet.

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

▪ TULLOCH RESERVOIR – The prime time for trout fishing is now, 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.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

▪ AMERICAN RIVER – Low water and a lack of steelhead have fishing at a standstill on the American since the Jan. 1 opener. “There have been very few steelhead caught and the water is so low it’s not promising,” said guide J.D. Richey.

▪ FEATHER RIVER — Fishing is slow for steelhead and stripers.

▪ FOLSOM LAKE – A mix of holdover rainbows, bass and catfish are available. The lake is still extremely low. Rain is forecasted the end of the week.

▪ SACRAMENTO, Redding – The water is dirty because of muddy water coming out of Shasta Lake, but there are opportunities to catch native rainbows with flies, according to guide Kirk Portocarrero of Sac River Guide. “You have to fish the shallow riffles with egg patterns,” Portocarrero said. “The water is still dirty, but the fly fishing is okay. You can catch them if you work the shallow water.” Use egg patterns because there are no hatches this time of year, he said. The area above the Posse Grounds has been best.

▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento — The water is a few degrees too cold and still dirty for decent striper fishing, and also is too cold for sturgeon fishing. Some anglers are using minnows and finding stripers, but fishing is slow. The Port of Sacramento has slowed for stripers as well. Fishing for stripers should improve if the water warms.

▪ YUBA RIVER – Some trout are being caught below the Highway 20 Bridge.

NORTHERN FOOTHILLS

▪ AMERICAN RIVER — The Georgetown Ranger Station reported the river flows were excellent and clear. There were loads of folks playing and hiking near the confluence at Hwy 49 but no one was seen fishing.

▪ BULLARDS BAR – The lake is at 51-percent capacity. Emerald Cove Marina reported the water had raised enough to allow launching of any size boat on their ramp. Bass fishing was sporadic due to the fact that the fish were scattered and suspended, according to Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company. There are a few fish to 7 pounds being caught on crankbaits and jigs on steep points.

▪ CAMP FAR WEST – The lake is at 75-percent capacity. North Shore Resort reported fishing was slow this past week. The water was clearing nicely but there were a lot of trees, logs, and debris washing up on the shore—boaters beware.

▪ COLLINS LAKEThe lake is 31 feet from full. Shore anglers caught the most and biggest trout this past week. Eric Phillips of Grass Valley caught a 5-pound rainbow from the shore at the dam using floating dough bait. Andrew Hernandez of Gridley landed a 4 1/2 pounder while casting a spinner from shore near the bridge. Dave Callison and Kevin Donovan of Yuba City caught multiple limits of bass throwing plastic worms along the east side all the way up to the bridge. Their biggest fish weighed 3 3/4 pounds.

▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR – The lake is at 91-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove Marina reported only a few boats were out trolling this past week and no one had reported any success. Rogers said the water was still a little murky but clearing more each day. There was no debris floating on the lake causing any problems for boaters.

▪ ROLLINS LAKE – The lake is at 88-percent capacity. No report was available this week—the contact person was sick.

▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE – The lake is at 59.5-percent capacity. Trollers were picking up a few trout on flashers and worms at the dam and Cascade Shore. One boat had five 12- to 14-inch rainbows and another only caught two 12 inchers. Any size boat can launch at the marina ramp.

▪ SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR – The Foresthill Ranger Station reported the facilities were open and accessible. With the nice weather, a trout or two might hit an inflated nightcrawler.

▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY – The lake was at 134.6 feet elevation at press time—86-percent capacity. Duck hunters still control the coves here. Shore fishing for steelhead at the Wilbur Rd. access was producing some nice fish on inflated nightcrawlers pulled across the bottom on a sliding sinker rig.

– Western Outdoor News

www.wonews.com

sacbee.com/fishingline

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