Fishing Line

Salmon biting in Bay Area

How to pick the best top-water lure

Mid-summer is perfect for top-water bass fishing.
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Mid-summer is perfect for top-water bass fishing.

Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of July 25, 2016.

TOP PICKS

BERKELEY

Salmon bit like crazy early in the week when limits were easy and the bite held up through the week with some ups and downs. Berkeley Charter Boats sent El Dorado, New Wave and New Easy Rider out for salmon. Other boats worked the Bay for bass and halibut, including Happy Hooker who’s long-time passenger Larry Nelson scored 3 halibut and 4 bass to go towards boat limits.

BODEGA BAY

Salmon fishing improved dramatically, with New Sea Angler putting near-limits to 25 pounds aboard between Tomales Point and Ten Mile Beach. Lingcod and rockfish were hungry too, especially off of Point Reyes and lingcod in the teens were common for people using bigger baits and lures.

EMERYVILLE

The landing divided boats into the Bay Fleet and Salmon Fleet and no matter which fleet a boat was in, the results were good. The salmon fleet was New Seeker, New Salmon Queen, C-Gull II and Sundance (which saw a 33 pounder come over the rail). Bass and halibut boats were New Huck Finn, Tiger Fish and New Salmon Queen.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento

Some kings are being caught near Freeport on jig as well as M2 FlatFish or K14 Kwikfish with sardine wraps. Flying C spinners also are tricking some salmon. Catfish are being caught near the Port of Sacramento. Striper fishing is slow at Discovery Park and Miller Park.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa

Fishing for catfish has been excellent at First and Second Beach at Knight’s Landing, as well as behind the wing dams at Verona. Chicken liver, pile worms and salmon roe are working well. Night fishing has been best. Fish are averaging 1 to 2 pounds, with some topping 13 pounds over the weekend. Salmon fishing has been slow, but some kings are being caught by anglers anchoring near Verona and running M2 FlatFish with sardine wraps. Charter boats and the coast reported wide open fishing from Eureka to Bodega Bay last week, an indicator salmon could be moving into the river in the next few weeks.

DELTA

SACRAMENTO RIVER/DELTA

A few salmon continue to be taken below the Freeport Bridge with trolled Silverton spinners, tossed Flying C’s, or jigged P-Line Laser Minnow spoons, but fishermen are fortunate to land a single fish. The fish have been bright, and they are moving quickly up into the upper river. The high water conditions bode for a good season. Striped bass are starting to show up, but the large fish have yet to arrive. Catfishing is best in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel with chicken livers or nightcrawlers while smallmouth bass remain a viable option with deep-diving crankbaits or plastics on the drop-shot around rocky structure.

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER/DELTA

Largemouth bass remain the top species with topwater lures in the early mornings or on the high afternoon tides. Punching the weeds is another option for quality largemouths as the hot temperatures are holding the fish in the shade. The bass are unwilling to move far and keeping the bait in the strike zone is necessary. Bluegill are abundant in Whiskey Slough and Inland Drive with wax worms, red worms, or jumbo red worms. Small quantities of fresh shad are available on occasion in Stockton-area bait shops.

NORTH COAST RIVERS

CHETCO RIVER, Brookings, Ore.

Fishing has slowed for sea-run cutthroat trout as the river is at it summer low flows. There have been no reports of salmon in the estuary.

ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Ore.

Salmon fishing in the Rogue Bay was good all of last week, as warm water upriver is forcing salmon to hold up. The water temperature at the Agness gauge has hit 75 degrees, with flows of 2,000 cfs. Trolling anchovies with spinnerblades is working best. Salmon are moving to the upper part of the bay above the Highway 101 bridge at high tide, then moving back to the mouth at low tide. Some summer steelhead are being caught between Lobster Creek and Agness.

ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass to Shady Cove, Ore.

Springer fishing continues to be good below Dodge Bridge on the upper Rogue using Kwikfish with a sardine wrap, or side-drifted bobbers. A few more salmon are showing in the deep holes in the Grants Pass area, and in early August this fishery should be good on Kwikfish with a sardine wrap, or wobblers and Brad’s lures, said Troy Whitaker, guide at U-Save Tackle in Grants Pass. Steelhead fishing in the Grants Pass area has been relatively good on side-drifted pink rubber worms, live nightcrawlers or small crank plugs. The smallmouth bass bite is continuing to be good early and late in the day on various surface plugs at Lake Selmac. Applegate and Lost Creek lakes are producing good numbers of smallmouth bass on crank plugs and small plastic worms.

SMITH RIVER

Fishing is slow for cutthroat trout, although fish are available in the tidewater area, as well as near the Bailey Hole. Only artificial lures or flies can be used until September. No sign of salmon at the mouth.

TRINITY/KLAMATH RIVERS

KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook

Trout fishing continues to be very good on the upper Klamath below Iron Gate Dam. Flows held steady at 930 cfs over the weekend. Stonefly patterns are tricking trout, along with bait fished below divers and small plugs. Salmon are still a couple of months away.

KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp

Flows Sunday at Seiad Valley were 1,280 cfs, good for trout and steelhead fishing. Hot weather has limited the best fishing to first light and late in the evening.

KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen

Salmon are being caught by trollers dragging Kastmasters and spinners in the estuary on the outgoing tide. Steelhead fishing was hit and miss last week, but many of the adults being caught are hatchery fish. The action improved on Sunday. A slide above Blue Creek colored the water over the weekend. Guides said they expect improved fishing for salmon and steelhead in early August. Flows Sunday at Terwer were 3,270 cfs, down from 4,000 cfs the week before.

TRINITY RIVER

Flows from Lewiston Dam dropped to 709 cfs over the weekend, dipping below 1,000 cfs for the first time in months as the spring flush nears its end. Flows are expected to bottom out at 450 cfs in early August. Salmon are spread throughout the river and are now being caught by drift boaters and bank anglers. Boaters are running sardine-wrapped 4.5 MagLip plugs at first light, then fishing roe or tuna balls after the sun hits the water. Some summer steelhead also are showing in the catch.

MOTHERLODE

LAKE CAMANCHE

Experienced trollers continue to find great action for holdover rainbow trout in the deepest part of the lake from Little Hat Island to the Buoy Line to Big Hat Island pulling Speedy Shiners at speeds from 3.0 to 3.2 MPH at depths to 40 feet. The bass are closer to the shorelines in the early morning before moving out to 20 feet in depth. 4-inch plastic worms are the drop-shot are working best. Crappie can still be found in the submerged trees with minijigs or small minnows, but the action is starting to slow. Catfishing is best at night with mackerel, chicken livers, or nightcrawlers.

DON PEDRO

The kokanee bite has slowed considerably, leaving rainbow trout and king salmon to provide the best options for success. The king salmon are holding in the deepest parts of the lake with anchovies or shad on a harness rig. For bass, topwater lures are working in the early morning with spinnerbaits a good option in the wind. The fish move out into 35 to 40 feet in depth by mid-morning, and plastics on the drop-shot such as Robo Worm’s Aaron’s Magic or Pro Worms Purple Death 124p are the best options. The water releases have started, and the lake has dropped to 73% of capacity. All three launch ramps remain open.

LAKE McCLURE

The lake keeps on releasing water, and it has dropped to 53% of capacity. Spotted bass to 7.5 pounds have been reported this week. There is a window for River2Sea Whopper Ploppers or Rovers in the early morning before switching over to working the bottom with Berserk Baits Purple Hornet or Sprayed Grass jigs by 9:00 a.m. The Zoom Trick Worm in watermelon/black flake on a Texas-rig or drop-shot is another option. Catfishing is best along muddy, sloping banks with anchovies, sardines, or mackerel. The McClure Point and Barrett Cove South launch ramps are open with the Barrett Cove North ramp under construction.

LAKE MCSWAIN

Minimal change with no trout plants since May. Few fishermen are heading to the lake as catching remains very slow.

NEW HOGAN

The topwater bite for striped bass ranging from 17 to 24 inches remains solid, and with the triple-digit temperatures, the linesides should continue boiling for the next three to four weeks. The key is to move slowly into the boil and cast from outside of the action in order to keep the stripers from going down and scattering. Zara Spooks or similar topwater lures in shad-patterns are working best.

NEW MELONES

Kokanee limits remain possible, and experienced trollers such as Kenny McDonald of Manteca are scoring big fish in the 17- to 18-inch range working at depths to 85 feet with pink or purple hoochies or spinners behind similar blades near the dam to the spillway and also around Rose Island. The trout bite is fair for trollers and non-existent for bank fishermen. The best bet from the banks is for catfish with sardines, mackerel, or frozen shad with the fish more active after the sun goes down. Crappie action is starting to show signs of life with minijigs or small minnows in submerged timber.

LAKE PARDEE

Kokanee action is starting to slow, but limits remain the rule for those willing to be patient and change gear until the fish find what they want. Orange and pink hoochies or Apex lures are working at depths from 35 to 50 feet both in the river arm and near the Buoy Line, and blues have been a good option in the afternoons. Bass fishing is good with topwater lures in the early mornings before dropping to the bottom with Senkos or crawdad-patterned jigs. Catfishing is excellent with nightcrawlers throughout the lake. Trout fishing with dough bait from a boat at Mel’s Cove has been solid. Bank action remains slow for the planted rainbows.

SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS

BOCA LAKE

The lake is at 74.3-percent capacity. James Netzel at Tight Lines Guide Service reported his clients were still catching limits of nice kokanee, but the action was slower with limits coming by noon instead of 8 a.m. He was using the RMT dodger with a red or orange RGT, or a Sockeye Slammer at 20 to 45 feet deep.

CAPLES LAKE

The lake is at 91-percent capacity. Look for planter rainbows at Wood’s Creek inlet for both shore anglers and trollers.

CARSON RIVER (East, West)

Silver Creek was stocked by the DFW this past week. Alpine Lake is scheduled for a DFW trout plant this week. Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the river was full of trout after the DFW and Alpine County stockings. Flows were perfect in the East Carson, dropping in the West, and low in Silver Creek and Markleeville Creek. Flyfishermen were catching-and-releasing 50- to 75-fish in the evenings. Salmon eggs and worms were working well for limits of rainbows to 4 pounds.

DAVIS LAKE

The lake is at 63-percent capacity. Brett Brady at Bare Bones Guide Service reported he fished the lake 2 days this past week and only caught 8 fish one day and 5 the next—SLOW. The best fish was a 22-inch 4 pounder with the rest being smaller planters. He did best on a gold/red head Needlefish or Sockeye Slammer at Lightning Tree and off Mallard Point. There were a lot of weeds floating or growing up to the surface that made for smaller areas clear enough for fishing.

DONNER LAKE

The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Trollers were picking up a mix of small 2- to 4-pound macks and some kokanee from 8 to 11 inches, but overall fishing was slow with lots of recreational boat traffic on the lake.

FEATHER RIVER CANYON

Mike Hanson at Caribou Crossroads Resort reported the trout fishing was slow with the last DFW plant pretty much fished out—need another plant.

FRENCHMAN LAKE

The lake is at 39-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported trollers were picking up some rainbows to 18 inches on spoons, Rapalas, and flasher/worms at 40 feet deep. If the lake drops much more, which is inevitable, the dock will be pulled out of the water and launching could become a problem. Shore fishermen were scoring at Turkey Point using nightcrawlers and floating dough bait.

GOLD LAKES BASIN

Gold Lake was stocked by the DFW this past week. Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden reported the trout bite was good at Packer Lake and Lower Sardine, but slower at Upper Salmon Lake. Sardine was kicking out limits of 12-inch rainbows on trolled silver Super Dupers. Flyfishermen were stripping Prince nymphs on an intermediate sinker at the outlet. Gold Lake should be good for big macks and browns casting a big Rapala in the evenings. Remember the Gold Lake boat ramp will close for major upgrades on August 1.

ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR

The lake is at 89-percent capacity. Kyle Neeser at Crystal Basin Tackle and Guide Service reported fishing was slow with the hot weather and full moon.

INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR

Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported fishing pressure here was very low with the heavy plants in the Carson River system.

JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR

The lake is at 85.1-percent capacity. Brett Brady at Bare Bones Guide Service reported trout trolling was slow with the fish scattered and deep with the hot weather.

JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park)

The lake is at 93-percent capacity. Sly Park Resort reported fishing was slow with the hot weather and heavy recreational boat traffic. Try up in the 5 mph zone above the Narrows for bass and trout around the creek inlet.

LAKE TAHOE

Chuck Self at Chuck’s Charter Fishing reported doing well for near-limits to limits of macks to 12 pounds trolling 120 to 400 feet deep from Tahoe City to Crystal Bay Point. Mike Nielsen at Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing reported he was doing well on the north end at Kings Beach for limits of 3- to 8-pound macks jigging Williamson Vortex jigs tipped with live minnows at 160 to 220 feet deep, and at South Shore trolling Storm ThunderStiks and Krocadile spoons. Zach Gordon at Tahoe Sportfishing reported one of their skippers put a lady angler on a 25-pound mack mooching live bait at South Shore in 220 feet of water. Tahoe Sportfishing began trolling trips for kokanee from the Keys to Camp Rich using flashers with spoons or spinners tipped with corn at 50 to 80 feet deep. The fish were mostly 10 to 13 inchers with a few to 14 inches.

LOON LAKE

The lake is at 87-percent capacity. Dale Daneman at Dale’s Foothill Fishing Service reported trolling was tough. His Saturday trip produced 4 trout in 6 hours, but one was a 19-inch, 2-pound brown. All the fish hit a watermelon Strike Master/’crawler toplined on the east end of the lake. Launching and parking was a nightmare with no enforcement of rules by any USFS staff or the campground concessionaire—get there early or go during the week.

PROSSER LAKE

The lake is at 66.4-percent capacity. Fishing was tough with a few smallmouth bass caught on rocky banks or a trout or two caught trolling the deep water in the middle of the lake. There have been no DFW plants for over a year.

RED LAKE

Fish the dam of inlet for cutthroats, brookies, and the occasional rainbow.

SILVER LAKE

The lake is at 88.9-percent capacity. The lake was stocked by the DFW this past week. Fishing should be good off the dam.

STAMPEDE RESERVOIR

The lake is at 41-percent capacity. The kokanee bite was tough with trollers using Apex and Wiggle Things at 45 to 55 feet deep for the best chance at success.

TOPAZ LAKE

Chuck Fields at Topaz Landing Marina reported the lake has dropped 7 feet, but launching and berthing were still good. The hot weather and very heavy recreational boat traffic on the lake slowed the fishing for trout and bass. The best bite was along the highway on the SW side of the lake where shore anglers could expect 3 or 4 fish a day. The Douglas County Park rangers reminded the public that fishing hours were 1-hour before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset.

TRUCKEE RIVER

Mountain Hardware and Sports reported flyfishing was good in the Glenshire section since the SF Flycasters stocked it with 16- to 18-inch rainbows. Try caddis in the evenings along with golden and yellow stones.

UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR

The lake is at 87-percent capacity. With the hot weather and increased recreational boat traffic, trolling for trout and kokanee was slow. The best bet was to get out early in the morning during the week.

WEST WALKER RIVER

The Little Walker River and West Walker River were stocked by the DFW this past week and are scheduled to be stocked by the DFW again this week. The Northern Mono County Chamber of Commerce stocked 400 pounds of 2- to 3-pound rainbows in the West Walker on Sunday, July 24 to support the final week of the “How Big is Big” Fishing Derby which ends on July 31. A 6.6-pound rainbow was still leading the event though several more 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-pound rainbows were weighed at the Walker General Store this past week.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

AMERICAN RIVER

Salmon fishing has been slow. A few large stripers have been reported. Shad fishing has slowed. Flows held steady at 5,030 cfs all last week.

FEATHER RIVER

Despite good flows, salmon fishing was slow last week. A few fish were reported by boaters fishing near the Outlet Hole, but overall action was poor. Striper fishing has been hot near the confluence of the Yuba and Feather rivers, with lots of shakers and keepers between 24 and 26 inches. Boat and bank anglers are catching fish. Artificial lures, such as scrounger heads with flukes, or swimbaits, are working well.

FOLSOM LAKE

The lake dropped another 7 feet last week after dropping 5 feet the week before and was at 421 feet on Sunday evening. The water temperature was 81 degrees on Sunday. The Granite Bay, Brown’s Ravine and Folsom Point ramps are open. Rattlesnake and Peninsula are closed. Trout and landlocked salmon fishing has been good. Anglers are trolling Speedy Shiners with a nightcrawler trailer on downriggers from 40 to 60 feet down. The South Fork of the American has been the best bet, while across from the dam is second best, according to Tim Boggs of Elkhorn Outdoor Sports. Bass fishing is fair to good with drop-shot rigs in the main body.

RANCHO SECO LAKE

Trout fishing has slowed.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir

Flows held steady last week at 253 cfs at the Delta gauge. Bait anglers are doing well for planted rainbows around Dunsmuir, where small spinners such as Rooster Tails also are working well. The river has been planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff

Salmon season opens Aug. 1 between Anderson and Red Bluff. Most anglers will hit the Barge Hole for the opener, fishing T55 FlatFish with sardine wraps.Fishing is closed from Keswick Dam to the Highway 44 bridge, a 5.5-mile stretch. The section re-opens to trout anglers Aug. 1. Fishing for wild rainbows is expected to be wide open for the opener. From the Highway 44 bridge to Anderson, fishing for wild rainbow trout has been good. Flows at Kewsick Dam were 10,500 cfs all last week.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa

Salmon fishing has been slow since the July 16 opener below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam. Anglers expect fresh salmon to move into the Woodson Bridge area in the next few weeks, as reports out of San Francisco and Bodega Bay were very good last week.

NORTHERN FOOTHILLS

AMERICAN RIVER

Access to all the forks was open. Look for rainbows and browns in the North Fork and Middle Fork at the hike-in spots. There could be a few planters left in the South Fork and Silver Fork, but another DFW trout plant wouldn’t hurt if the water isn’t too warm.

BULLARDS BAR

The lake is at 79-percent capacity. Hot weather and heavy recreational boat traffic slowed the fishing. Small bass were hitting plastic worms on the points. Fishing was best in the early morning during the week.

CAMP FAR WEST

The lake is at 72-percent capacity. Recreational boat traffic was very heavy and fishermen should get out in the early morning during the week to avoid the wake boarders and jet skiers. Ron Franks of Folsom fished mid-week and caught 5 keeper spots in Rock Creek using oxblood and green pumpkin lizards and Brush Hogs at 10 to 15 feet deep.

COLLINS LAKE

The lake is 13 feet from full. Collins Lake Resort reported trout fishing was still slow due to the hot weather and warm water temps. Trollers did best at 25 to 35 feet deep on spoons for rainbows to 4 pounds. Catfish to 7 pounds, bass to 2 1/4 pounds, and big stringers of bluegill were weighed in this past week so the bite for warm-water species was good.

ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR

The lake is at 94-percent capacity. Lisa Rogers at Skippers Cove marina reported bass to 7 pounds were caught on flukes cast to the weed beds in Keystone Cove. With heavy recreational boat traffic on weekends, fishing was best during the week.

FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR

The lake is at 82.1-percent capacity. The Foresthill Ranger Station reported all the campgrounds and boat ramps were open. Trollers should be catching some rainbows near the creek inlets.

HELL HOLE RESERVOIR

The lake is at 79.2-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported the Big Meadows Campground was now open on a first come-first served basis. Trollers should be catching macks, trout, and kokanee in deeper water as the surface temp rises.

LAKE OROVILLE

The lake is at 71-percent capacity—already down 75 feet!!! Guide Ron Gandolfi reported bass fishing was slower this past week with 15 to 20 fish a good day. Most of the action was on topwater lures and lipless crankbaits cast to within 2 feet of the shore on steep rocky walls and rocky flats in the upper North Fork, West Branch, and upper Slot. Long casts were required in light of the clear water conditions—like 50 to 75 feet long! The bass were all 1 1/4- to 2 1/4- pound spots plugged full of pond smelt and crawdads. Brett Brady at Bare Bones Guide Service reported trolling for king salmon was still good with limits coming in by 9 a.m. using a dodger/ white hoochie or Arctic Fly at 65 to 80 feet deep at the Green Bridge, Bidwell Point, and Potter’s Point.

ROLLINS LAKE

The lake is at 96.6-percent capacity. Ryan Drake at NID reported a troller picked up a 4-pound rainbow between the Peninsula Resort and the Bear River inlet. Bass fishermen were picking up 12 to 15 fish per day using spinnerbaits and Senkos. The topwater bite was sporadic despite the surface activity seen all day long as bass pushed bait schools up on top.

SCOTTS FLAT LAKE

The lake is at 89.2-percent capacity. Jim Caldwell at NID reported trout fishing was slow, but bass were still hitting near the submerged trees found all around the lake. Recreational boat traffic was heavy on weekends and fishing was best during the week.

SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR

The lake was 85- to 90-pecent full. The Foresthill Ranger Station reported all the campgrounds and the day-use area were open. Fishing was slow—the lake needs a DFW trout plant.

STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR

The lake is at 90-percent capacity. The Georgetown Ranger Station reported all the campgrounds were open. Trollers were picking up a few rainbows and browns at 35 to 40 feet deep. Shore fishing was very slow with the hot weather.

THERMALITO AFTERBAY

The lake was at 135.3-foot elevation at press time—91.1-percent capacity. Bruce Gibson at the Paradise Tackle Company reported bass fishing was very slow. His last trip produced 4 fish for less than 5 pounds in 5 to 6 hours. With all the water flowing into the system, the water temp was 10 degrees below normal.

NORTH SALTWATER

EUREKA

Salmon moved in close, giving local boats their easiest access in many years. It was literally a 5-minute ride to the fish and some of them were actually inside of Humboldt Bay. Another happy surprise inside the Bay was a wide-open California halibut bite right off of inflow streams on outgoing tides. Boats running down to Cape Mendocino were in for quick easy limits of large lingcod and rockfish.

FORT BRAGG

Exceptionally-large cabezon were caught aboard Telstar at Cleone Reef, with the largest weighing in at 13 pounds. Lingcod were on fire at most rockpiles. Salmon turned on and began biting so close that John Gebers at Noyo Fishing Center was back in 2 hours with his limit. Charter Boat Sea Hawk also reported limits.

HALF MOON BAY

Early week weather gave boats a shot at the salmon near the Channel Buoys outside the Golden Gate. Queen of Hearts got just one salmon short of limits andRiptide also had a good trip. Then the wind kept the boats fishing within their safe areas below town for rockfish and lingcod. Beach fishers at Half Moon Bay and Pacifica enjoyed good catches of striped bass.

SAN FRANCISCO

Flash and Bass Tub worked the Bay for bass and halibut, with very high counts of bass and dwindling numbers of keeper halibut. Flash II spent the week catching leopard sharks in the South Bay. A 69-lb. thresher shark was caught aboard Lovely Martha. Wacky Jacky and Lovely Martha fished Rocky Point and Stinson Beach for sizable salmon.

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