Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of March 14, 2016.
▪ AMERICAN RIVER
The river was high and blown out on Sunday after heavy rain over the weekend. Flows hit 20,400 cfs Sunday at Live Oak. Discovery Park was partially flooded. The final steelhead return to Nimbus Fish Hatchery was 764 fish, well above last year’s return of 154 steelhead.
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▪ DELTA REGION: SACRAMENTO RIVER
A high wall of muddy water invaded the Sacramento side of the Delta at week’s end, and striper trolling and casting action slowed to a crawl. The river will remain muddy for the weeks to come, but sturgeon fishing has thrived in the heavy inflow of fresh water. The striped bass will be making a quick run into the upper Sacramento River. Pile worms, eel, and nightcrawlers are the top baits for sturgeon in the muddy water. There are two sturgeon tournaments this coming weekend along with a striped bass tournament.
▪ DELTA REGION: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Largemouth bass fishing is excellent with spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits on umbrella rigs, and plastics on the drop-shot. Striped bass have slowed with the muddy water, but the action was strong prior to the storms. Finding clear water with current is the key to success, and the largemouth bass bite should continue to get better and better as we move towards the first spawn of the season. Panfish are possible, but clear water must be located.
▪ FOLSOM LAKE
Bass fishing remains very good on the North Fork area, despite rapid inflows to the lake. Folsom’s water elevation on Sunday was 435 feet, about 65 percent capacity. Despite maintaining the winter flood pool level, officials are optimistic the lake will completely fill this spring. Bass anglers are fishing tubes and small grubs in shallow water for spawning spotted and smallmouth bass. Green pumpkin with red flake has been the hot color. Fishing for trout and salmon remains slow, partly due to stormy weather.
▪ LAKE PARDEE
The lake is now open with a newly refurbished marina and launch areas, and the lake is close to capacity--almost full. Holdover rainbows are available for trollers and bank anglers, but trout plants will be limited to DFW regular plants. Small kokanee to 11 inches are near the surface up the river arm, and smallmouth bass and crappie also provide good action.
NORTH COAST RIVERS
▪ CHETCO RIVER
Storm after storm has kept the river far too high to fish , and it was expected to crest again at 25,000 cfs on Sunday evening. Even so, guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers fishing said it looks like it might provide some pretty good steelheading by the weekend, coming down to about 4,000 cfs on Friday. It will be mostly spawned-out downrunners, but some late season fresh fish are also expected. Closes at the end of March.
▪ ELK/SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon
Heavy rains had both rivers high and muddy over the weekend. The Elk was 6.4 feet on Sunday. It fishes best at 4.5 feet or less. A break in the weather is expected on Tuesday, which will lead to fishable conditions on the Elk by Wednesday and possibly the Sixes by the weekend. Both rivers are open to steelhead fishing through the end of March, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon
More spring salmon were caught at the mouth, and the run will be steadily building. Winter steelhead fishing is still excellent and showing no signs of slowing, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The river is high and cloudy, to crest at 44,000 cfs this week, bus should be back down to 15,000 by the weekend.
▪ ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass, Oregon
River fishing has been poor all week with rainstorms pounding the area. Few anglers were even on the river and they didn’t catch much, either. Most all of the coastal rivers are running high and muddy. The best fishing in this area has been at Selmac Lake for largemouth bass. “I’ve seen several anglers catching 4- to 6-pound bass,” said Troy Whitaker at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. The best enticers have been chatter baits, plastic worms and Rat-L-Trap plugs.
▪ RUSSIAN RIVER
“We have had steady rain for over a week now and the river is forecast to crest again on Monday at 29-30 feet, about 26 feet higher than ideal flows,” said Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport & Tackle. “If we don't have rain the rest of the season, and see some sunshine and warmth, we may still have some end of season fishing for steelhead, but at this point it’s not looking too good. However this weather is good for our wild fish that need high water to spawn in the creeks, so after 4 years of drought, hopefully there are enough fish left to spawn for our future fishery.
▪ SMITH RIVER
High flows only allowed a day and a half of fishing last week, according to WON Field Reporter Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service, and surprisingly, there were still fresh steelhead showing up! The river hit 32,000 cfs on Monday, but should be in prime shape later in the week for late season fishing. The biggest fish of the year generally show up now.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Iron Gate
Releases from Iron Gate Dam hit 3,500 cfs on Sunday, three times the highest fishable levels. The river is expected to be high all week.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp
Heavy rain over the weekend kept river levels high and unfishable. Flows at Seiad Valley were 11,200 cfs and rising on Sunday evening.
▪ KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen
Blown out all year, the lower Klamath hit 93,400 cfs and was still rising Sunday. Spring salmon usually begin to arrive in late May.
▪ TRINITY RIVER
High, muddy water brought fishing to a halt last week. Flows were 4,200 cfs at Junction City on Sunday and 32,400 cfs at Hoopa, well above fishable levels. Heavy rain kept the Trinity high all week. Expect some spawned out steelhead as well as a few brown trout when the river comes back into shape.
NORTH COAST LAKES
▪ CLEAR LAKE
Recent rains muddied the waters and slowed the good bass bite. But it won’t take long for it to get back into shape. The minnow bite should also start to kick in. If it’s crappie you are after, try the State Park or Indian Beach Resort.
▪ LAKE BERRYESSA
With water temperatures holding and runoff coming in, the bass are moving in and feeding up for their spawn. Just a few more degrees will get them on the move. Reaction baits worked along the weed lines as well as small swimbaits and spinnerbaits are getting some nice fish. Plastics like tubes and grubs worked on points in the Narrows have also produced some nice spotted bass and smallmouth bass. Trout trollers should start to show up soon.
▪ LAKE SONOMA
Lake Sonoma is now at full pool. The main body from the Narrows up to the mouth of Cherry Creek was good for bass in shallow transitions in 5 to 15 feet around standing timber. Look for the clearer water with 1/2-ounce D&M Beast chatterbaits in black/blue.
▪ LAKE ALMANOR
With lots of rain and wind, few were trout fishing. Rapalas in a variety of colors have been hammering fish in the top 10 feet for mostly brown trout with a few rainbows.
▪ BAUM LAKE
The upper section of the lake has been fishing well for trout and every day there have been a few anglers here, but it’s still blown out. Hungry trout will be feeding on little zebra midges, small leeches, black midges and pheasant tails so match the hatch.
▪ McCLOUD RESERVOIR
It was still blown out by press time but when it clears try leeches, sinking flies, sinking lines and some dry flies near the dam. Try subsurface stuff like midges. Hungry fish are mostly from 12 to 14 inches but trout up to 5 or 6 pounders are possible.
▪ PIT RIVER
Pit 3 was still the better bet this past week as elsewhere there was still fast running water and high muddy flows. Try all the normal early season stuff like dark or red nymphs or copper Johns.
▪ SHASTA LAKE
The lake is muddy but the good news is that it has come up over 100 feet in the past 2 months. Pre-spawning bass are heading into the shallows. Look for red clay, chunk rock or gravel in the shallows once the lake clears. Bass will be scattered in coves with flats in 13 to 20 feet. The same for trout, look for the cleanest water you can find.
▪ FEATHER RIVER
High water brought striper fishing to a halt late last week. With heavy rain over the weekend, the river may be out for several more days. Stripers had been biting at Shanghai Bend, Star Bend and Boyd’s Pump. Look for early spawning stripers when the river comes back into shape. Sturgeon fishing was fair near the mouth of the Bear River.
▪ RANCHO SECO LAKE
The lake was stocked last week with rainbow trout. This year’s trout derby will be held April 2-3.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir
After cresting at 30,000 cfs last week, flows at Dunsmuir were down to 18,000 cfs on Sunday, still way too high for fishing. Because of recent rains, the upper river will likely be unfishable through the end of March.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Knight’s Landing to Colusa
High water filled with debris has brought sturgeon and striper fishing to a halt. Sturgeon were being caught early last week on roe, pile worms, ghost shrimp and eel. Expect spawning stripers by the end of the month. With good flows, anglers will be fishing jumbo minnows or trolling swimbaits.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa
High and muddy, even for sturgeon fishing. The river likely will be out of shape all week, but should fish well again for sturgeon as it drops. March is the peak of the sturgeon spawning run.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff
Heavy rain has brought the wild trout fishery near Redding to a halt because of high, muddy water. Flows at Keswick Dam were 6,250 cfs, double the amount from a week ago. Expect trout fishing to improve again as flows from Shasta Dam and runoff from feeder creeks decreases.
▪ SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento
High water has slowed fishing throughout the metro area.
▪ BOCA LAKE
The lake is at 45.7-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported the lake was ice-free and shore anglers were catching trout and small kokanee on worm/ white marshmallow combos at the dam.
▪ CAPLES LAKE
The lake is at 66.2-percent capacity. Josh Otto at Kirkwood reported the snow and ice was at least 6 feet thick and much more snow was forecast to fall into next week. Otto was fishing behind the Caples Lake Resort restaurant and at the spillway for macks and rainbows using Kastmaster spoons or a small jig head with a tiny ball of floating dough bait on the hook worked 2 feet off the bottom in 10 feet of water.
▪ CARSON RIVER (East)
The river was running high and light brown—not good for fishing.
▪ DAVIS LAKE
The lake is at 58-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guide Fishing reported fishing was slow, though the lake was 99-percent ice free. Look for rainbows to move into the shallows to spawn by the end of March.
▪ DONNER LAKE
The lake is at 55-percent capacity. Mountain Hardware and Sports reported holdover rainbows were hitting worms, floating dough bait and salmon eggs from the boat dock and public piers. If you can catch minnows in the lake, use them for macks from the shore.
▪ FRENCHMAN LAKE
The lake is at 31-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported fishing for 14- to 18-inch rainbows was still very good at the dam for shore anglers using nightcrawlers, floating dough bait, and marshmallows.
▪ ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR
The lake is at 78-percent capacity. The big storm this past week snowed in the region and it will be awhile before access is open.
▪ INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR
The lake is ice-free and shore anglers were picking up a few fish at the dam and campground on worms and floating dough bait. A small boater could do better fishing over the deep water in front of the dam.
▪ JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)
The lake is full and spilling. Shore anglers were catching some big macks near the boat ramp where the DFW trout plant was made. A wheelchair-bound angler got some help from a young couple landing an 11-pound mack, according to Sly Park Resort. Another fisherman scored a 15-pound mack on a big homemade rainbow swimbait.
▪ LAKE TAHOE
Fishing pressure was way down with the poor weather and no reports were available. As the weather settles down, mack fishing along the west and north shores should be good.
▪ PROSSER LAKE
The lake is at 34.5-percent capacity. The ice was in poor condition, so STAY OFF THE ICE. Fishing was slow.
▪ PYRAMID LAKE
With the windy weather, boaters were avoiding the lake. Shore anglers were picking up a few fish at the Nets on spoons and flies. There was an unconfirmed report of a 23 pounder caught from shore this past week.
▪ RED LAKE
Josh Otto of Kirkwood reported the cutthroat bite was good early in the day during the week. Heavy weekend fishing pressure slowed the bite way down.
▪ SILVER LAKE
The lake is at 47.8-percent capacity. Ice fishing at the dam was sporadic at best according to Josh Otto of Kirkwood. The inaccessible west end of the lake was better for fishing, but hard to get to unless you have a snowmobile.
▪ TOPAZ LAKE
Ginger Buzzard at the Topaz Lodge and Casino reported the fishing was slow due to the weather. Only 27 fish over 2 pounds were weighed in for the derby this past week with the biggest fish a 5-pound, 5-ounce rainbow taken by Greg Rondy. Boaters were using Rapalas and flasher/worm combos while the shore anglers were relying in worms and floating dough bait.
▪ TRUCKEE LAKE
The river was blown out—high and muddy.
▪ UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR
The lake is at 77-percent capacity. The big storm this past week snowed in the region and it will be awhile before access is open.
California Dawn, back in Berkeley and back in action, went to sea and pulled up 250 crabs for 25 people. Private boats drifted, trolled or anchored on Berkeley Flats to target striped bass and halibut.
▪ BODEGA BAY
Shore fishing was the only option locally and it worked out okay thanks to surf perch and jacksmelt. The jacksmelt bit Sabiki rigs fished vertically from piers and high bluffs, while surf perch bit baits fished on Carolina rigs or 2-hook leaders at Lawson’s Landing, Doran Beach and Salmon Creek.
Easing into the season, Emeryville Landing sent New Huck Finn out to pull some crabs. Turns out it was a limits affair with easy pickings along the Marin Coast.
The close-in portion of South Jetty was fishable for kelp greenling and rainbow perch. Along the east side of Humboldt Bay, King Salmon was a good spot to fish with shrimp baits for red tail perch and rainbow perch.
▪ FORT BRAGG
Heavy seas limited surf fishing in general, but once again Noyo Jetty was safe enough to fish and fishing was agreeable for folks wanting kelp greenling, cabezon, rockfish and perch. At Point Arena, the pier provided a safe place to fish, though the quality of the fishing was up and down according to the sea state.
▪ HALF MOON BAY/PACIFICA
Huli Cat pulled easy limits of heavy crabs along with sanddabs. Other boats like Queen of Hearts, Que Sera Sera and New Capt. Pete will be back to duty soon. Shore fishers had trouble with high surf, however there were schoolie-size striped bass caught from the pier at Pacifica which shows that the linesides are still around.
▪ SAN FRANCISCO
Halibut and striped bass fishing was good from Coyote Point to AT&T park for both halibut and striped bass. A 25-pound halibut was caught in the area from a private boat on the troll.
▪ LAKE CAMANCHE
1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbows were split between the North Shore launch and the South Shore Pond this week. Limits of rainbow trout are possible with Speedy Shiners at a long line of 150 feet near the dam for experienced trollers. Bass fishing remains good despite the rising lake level, and the fish are scattered from 4 to 25 feet with a few bass taken on crankbaits. The most consistent action remains on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. The action at the South Shore pond is best for planted rainbows with Power Eggs, trout dough bait, or Mice Tails. Crappie action was slow this week.
▪ DON PEDRO
The lake continues to rise rapidly, with over a foot of inflow per day as the lake came up 8 feet to 735.10 feet in elevation and 52% of capacity. Bass fishing is limited to shad patterned plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head with a dead-stick presentation. The fish are scattered with the rising lake levels. The trout action has yet to emerge, similar to New Melones, but a few planted trout are taken by trollers. The Blue Oaks, Fleming Meadows, and Moccasin launch ramps are now on the concrete for the first time in over a year. The Fleming Meadow and Moccasin ramps both have two floating docks.
▪ LAKE McCLURE
The lake has risen 25 feet within the past week to 695.85 and 25% of capacity. The Barrett Cove North Ramp is open, and the South Cove may be up and operational soon. Limits of bass are the rule with the average fish in the 1- to 2-pound range with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. The water is heavily stained from the rapid inflow.
▪ LAKE McSWAIN
The water is stained from the inflow coming over Exchequer Dam at Lake McClure, and bank fishing has been limited in the off-color water.
▪ NEW MELONES
The Glory Hole launch ramp is back on the concrete as the lake has risen to 22% of capacity. Trout trolling remains slow, and bass are the top species at the lake with the best action on the bottom with dark colors of jigs or plastic worms. Adding vibration and scent is essential to enticing strikes. Catfishing has improved with the whiskerfish holding near all creeks and inlets into the lake.
▪ BULLARDS BAR
The lake is at 80-percent capacity. The flood gates at the dam were opened to make room for all the rain coming and maintain the lake at a safe level. As the water moves up into the willow trees growing along the shoreline, the bass will move into the trees—Bass Fishing 101. Jigs and Senkos pitched into the trees should work well. The most successful anglers recently have been using live minnows and crawdads, while most lures casters have been disappointed by the hit-or-miss action. With the rough weather, fishing pressure was low.
▪ CAMP FAR WEST
The lake is full and spilling. There was little if any fishing pressure this past week with all the rain. The lake was murky with lots of debris floating.
▪ COLLINS LAKE
The lake is 6-feet from full. Fishing pressure was very low with the poor weather and muddy water, but on the positive side the lake came up 8 feet this past week and was still rising.
▪ ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR
The lake is full and spilling. Fishing was slow with the poor weather and murky water.
▪ LAKE OROVILLE
The lake is at 66-percent capacity—up 23 feet and rising fast with all the rain. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported the majority of the bass were moving up with the rapidly rising water level. Fish that were on nests were still on the beds, though they may now be in 30 feet of water. Drop-shot and darthead worms, tubes, jigs, Senkos, spinnerbaits, ripbaits, crankbaits, A-rigs, float ‘n fly, and Keitech swimbaits were all working on gravel points and at incoming water. Incoming flows were warm and attractive to most fish and fishermen. The lake was loaded with debris, so use caution when running since the water is murky and submerged logs may be hard to see.
▪ ROLLINS LAKE
The lake is full and spilling. The lake was muddy and full of debris. Fishing pressure was low due to the poor lake conditions.
▪ SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE
The lake is at 87.9-percent capacity. Poor weather put a damper on fishing pressure, but a couple guys made it out and caught some nice bass. A troller picked up a 5-pound largemouth near the marina on a Rapala. Another angler caught a limit of 2- to 2 1/2-pound smallmouths on worms and jigs.
▪ STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR
The lake is full and spilling. Try trolling Rapalas and spoons at the inlet for a mix of browns and rainbows, but the weather made fishing difficult at best.
▪ THERMOLITO AFTERBAY
The lake was at 134.1-foot elevation at press time—82.6-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported the upper end of the lake was clearer and warmer. He caught lots of small males up to 2 1/2 pounds on the rocky flats on jigs, but others had success using Senkos, crankbaits, swimbaits, and A-rigs.
– Western Outdoor News