LAKE TAHOE—The North Shore was producing excellent quality macks from 6 to 15 pounds for trollers working from Tahoe City toCrystal Bay at 145 to 350 feet deep. South Shore was kicking out big numbers of small macks off Ski Run and Edgewood at 120 to 220 feet deep with flasher/minnows. Some rainbows and browns were being caught trolling Scatter Raps and flasher/minnows north of Cave Rock. Fantastic fishing, but few anglers, so now is the time to get up here since there’s no snow for decent skiing.
• AMERICAN RIVER – More and more adult steelhead are showing up, and with fish screens at Nimbus Hatchery out, Nimbus Basin is the best place to have a chance at a bright steelie. Some are being caught below the salmon closure at riffles like at Watt Ave. River Bend Park and Campus Commons. Flows are likely to drop at any time, since there is no immediate prospect of rain, and Folsom is so very low and still dropping.
• DELTA REGION, Sacramento River side – The big striper action near the Mothball Fleet has slowed within the past week, and sturgeon fishing has taken center stage in lower Suisun Bay.Smaller tides contributed to a slower sturgeon bite, but more favorable tides arrive this week. Salmon roe remains the top bait, but the fish eggs are difficult to come by. The other top location for sturgeon has been north of the Rio Vista Bridge near Liberty Island with the sturgeon moving further upriver in preparation for an eventual spawn, In the metropolitan Sacramento region, a few stripers are taken out of the Sacramento Deep Water Channel or the Port, but the action is ‘hit or miss.’
• DELTA REGION, San Joaquin River side—The striped bass are moving quickly through the system as baitfish have been scarce. The water is very clear for this time of year, due to record low precipitation throughout northern California. Fly fishermen are scoring with Clowser Minnows on shooting heads over the flats. Sturgeon fishing has slowed down on the San Joaquin side with the best action remaining east of the Antioch Bridge. Mudsuckers and bullheads are getting scarce in area bait shops, but fresh shad is still available in bait shops from Stockton to Pittsburg at the present time, but anglers will have to settle for frozen within a few weeks.
• CAMANCHE LAKE – Fishing has been great. Good-sized trout are being caught upriver to the dam by boaters and at the South Shore Trout Pond and Causeway area for bank fishermen. Grubs have been the most popular bait but Power Bait, Mice Tails and ‘crawlers have been catching fish also. Last week there were 2,400 pounds of Mt. Lassen Rainbow Trout planted in Lake Camanche. 1,200 pounds were planted at North Shore, 600 pounds at South Shore and 600 pounds at theTrout Pond!
• COQUILLE RIVER, South Fork, Powers, Ore. – The river is, for the most part, unfishable, due to the extremely low conditions, according to WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service. By this time of the season there are usually some very productive days being enjoyed by some steelhead enthusiasts, but not yet. Next good storm through the area should fill this river with fresh winter steelhead.
• COQUILLE RIVER, North Fork; Myrtle Point, Ore.--Super low conditions make fishing this river difficult at best, with a good consistent flow of water between it's banks. “However, over the last week, I only know of one driftboat to attempt to fish this stream and I am sure they took advantage of a high incoming tide to add depth to the shallow river,” said guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “They did catch a very nice 17-pound winter steelhead, along with a few other much smaller fish that day. Jorge did say that they saw lots of fish rolling downstream from them many times over their drift. Look for the next rains to push these fish up to Laverne Park, where public access makes this a great place to fish this river.”
• RUSSIAN RIVER—The river is flowing low and clear and the mouth silted up and closed on Monday, but there’s a lot of steelhead and salmon holding in the holes of the lower river below Guerneville, and many of them are keeper hatchery steelies from 8 to 11 pounds, according toSteve Jackson of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. He said that anglers need to use light outfits with bait or jigs under bobbers, or use flyfishing gear. So far 2716 king salmon have gone over the Wohler Weir as of Dec. 15.
• SMITH RIVER – No rain doesn’t mean no fish here on the Smith, as “Fishing has been real good,” according to WON Field Reporter and guide Phil Desautel of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. “The river is low and crystal clear. There are a handful of drifts you can do, but you all better have boots. All guides that have been working have been drifting from hole to hole and getting out of the boats and wading the banks sidedrifting. The fish are in the fast water. Thursday and Friday, Sam Rimson and John King from Mckinleyville, went 9 for 13 releasing 7 natives and 2 hatchery up to 12 pounds. The fish were all hooked on light pink Fishpills and eggs.
• UMPQUA RIVER, Elkton, Ore. – Well, nothing is kept a secret for long in the fishing kingdom. Sawyer Rapids is still the place to be for winter steelhead fishing. “I have to say this is one of the easiest pieces of water to successfully fish for steelhead, and not know much about the river,” said WON Field Reporter and guide Curtis Palmer of River Secrets. “This is one of places, for whatever reason, the fish will stack up at the base of the fast water rushing through a narrow shoot. The steelhead also favor the steep rock shelves on the south side of the river. This is also a good place for drift fishing from the shore, but it takes a boat to get there. It is difficult to estimate how many steelhead are being caught in a days time just in this one spot. I will say it is worth fishing until the next good rain carries them over the rapids and on upriver.”
• KLAMATH RIVER , Iron Gate—The best steelheading on the Klamath continued to be the upper section from Iron Gate down to the Shasta River. For an added bonus, guide Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service is offering a combo trip including jump hunting a variety of ducks. Backtrolling crawdad plugs and small Hot Shots dipped in ProCure scent have been the most effective getter. Fly fishers have been scoring a few steelies, as well.
• TRINITY RIVER – Steelheading continued to be a challenge with cold weather, cold, very clear water and low flows. Most steelies have been in the river awhile. It’s been bitterly cold though, and fish have been staying deeper rather than in the riffles. Fishing pressure is low, and the best odds of getting a couple of hookups has been from below Lewiston down to Junction City.
NORTH COAST LAKES
• CLEAR LAKE – The bite has slowed for numbers but not for a few quality fish. Anglers will find few signs of bait activity, so concentrate on deeper structure and steep, deep bank areas. Try Henderson Point and Shag Rock on the upper end of the lake, Glenhaven Reef, Windflower Point, as well as Frazier and Wheeler points. Stretches of deeper docks such as Jago Bay, Pirates Cove and the docks along Frazier Point have also produced action.
• LAKE BERRYESSA – The few anglers fishing here now are finding a fair to good bass bite by finding the bait which have been holding in the creek channels leading into coves both the main body and the Narrows. Anglers have been finding fish from 20 to 50 feet down on jigs, Blade Runner spoons, drop-shot Robo worms and tubes.
• LAKE SONOMA – Slow down your presentation and try shaking worms, drop-shotting and wacky rigging Robo worms and Senkos in 15 to 35 feet of water for bass. For landlocked steelhead, try top-lining trolling flies, no. 2 Cop Car Needlefish or small minnow imitations in the main body around the "no-ski" buoys and in front of Yorty Creek. Please try to carefully release these fish if possible since DFW won’t ever replant here.
• LAKE ALMANOR – Trout and a few salmon have been hanging out around the brown trout nests looking for a free meal. Suspended roe three cranks off the bottom, or salmon eggs have still been getting takedowns. White and yellow jigs were also getting some attention.
• BAUM LAKE – Time to pull out the chains just in case to get here. Fishing continued to be fair to good and there hasn’t been much fishing pressure during the week. Hatches are the key ingredient here and make this a popular place to flyfish, so bring your midges and pontoon boat.
• EAGLE LAKE – The shoreline down south will continue to be a great option for the rest of the season with both the bait and fish close in. No more early trips are required here, just wait for the sun to warm up and melt the ice along the shoreline. This lake closes to fishing Dec. 31 and reopens on Memorial Day Weekend 2014.
• PIT RIVER – From Nov. 16 through the Friday proceeding the last Saturday in April only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Fishing has been good, especially in the afternoon. Fishing has been good once the sun warms the water and fish from mid-morning until the afternoon, but access will be a challenge in some areas due to patches of snow.
• SHASTA LAKE – Bass in the 1- to 2-pound range have been eating crawdads in the rocks and gravel areas, so use crawdad patterns. You can also try drop-shotting in the arms as well as the main body, but you’ll have to move around and be patient. It’s winter time fishing here so come prepared and wait until the sun has warmed the lake and fish up a bit.
• BOCA LAKE – The lake is at 21-percent capacity. The road was cleared to the dam by the County. Icefishing at the dam using Power Bait, worms, bay shrimp or a jigging spoon was producing some nice rainbows and big browns to 22 inches. Be cautious of getting on and off the ice later in the day due to softening along the edges.
• CAPLES LAKE – The lake is at 60-percent capacity. Icefishing has begun and a 10-pound mack was caught this past week. Caples Lake Resort reported that the ice was 5 inches thick and anglers were accessing the lake at the dam and spillway.
• CARSON RIVER (East) – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge reported the river was still too iced up to fish.
• DAVIS LAKE – The lake is at 65-percent capacity. Ed Dillard at Dillard’s Guided Fishing said the ice was 5 inches thick and safe for fishing. Anglers were able to drive to the dam and Mallard Point on clear roads. Fishing was very slow with anglers catching up to 2 fish in 4 to 5 hours onPower Bait dropped down to 10 feet deep over 20 feet of water.
• DONNER LAKE – The lake was still ice free this past week with trout fishermen scoring on planter rainbows at the west end boat ramp docks and along the north side near the public piers. Casting a spoon early and late could draw a strike from a mack prowling the shallows for a trout.
• FRENCHMAN LAKE – The lake is at 49-percent capacity. Wiggins Trading Post reported that the ice was 6 inches thick and safe for fishing at the west side of the dam using Power Bait and worms. Fishermen who drove to Lunker Point with 4-wheel drive were catching a few fish, but the bite was much better at the dam.
• ICE HOUSE RESERVOIR – The lake is at 55-percent capacity. The road to the lake is open, but icy in the morning. The boat ramp was clear, but there was no dock in the water. No fishing pressure here this past week.
• INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR – Todd Sodaro at Todd’s Bait and Tackle at the Creekside Lodge said the gate on Airport Rd. off Hwy 89 was closed. With the dry weather of late, anglers could most likely reach the lake with 4-wheel drive, but the ice wasn’t safe yet for fishing.
• JACKSON MEADOW RESERVOIR – The lake is at 46-percent capacity. Snowmobile access only for the rest of the winter—this will be the last report until spring.
• JENKINSON LAKE (Sly Park) – Sly Park Resort reported that shore anglers were still picking up a few planter rainbows at the second dam on Power Bait and worms.
• PROSSER LAKE – The lake is at 22-percent capacity. Icefishing at the dam was producing some nice rainbows. Remember to be quiet on the ice to avoid spooking the fish.
• PYRAMID LAKE – Eagle Eye Charters reported catching 17 cutthroats to 8 pounds trolling bleeding frog FlatFish in Dago Bay one day this past week. The water temp was 43 degrees, but ice was flowing into the lake from the Truckee River. Valarie Taylor at Crosby’s Lodge reported shore anglers scored on a good number of big fish from 10 to 15 pounds this past week casting spoons, marabou jigs and flies. The biggest fish of the week was a 17-pound, 5-ounce behemoth that hit a lure trolled by Bob Mann in Dago Bay on the south end of the lake at the inlet.
• RED LAKE –Icefishing was good for trout to 4 pounds, according to Victor Babbitt at Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters (TFFO). Fishing with Power Bait, worms, and Kastmaster spoons was producing at the dam.
• SILVER LAKE – The lake is at 24-percent capacity. Ice fishing has begun here. Try at the dam using Power Bait, worms and bay shrimp.
• TRUCKEE RIVER – TFFO reported flyfishing below Sparks was hit-or-miss on midges with some ice flows complicating matters. On the California side, afternoons were best spent working midge nymphs through the slower runs in areas where the sun had warmed up the water. At the current low flow levels, now is the time to check out the river to map out structure to fish during higher flows.
• UNION VALLEY RESERVOIR – The lake is at 48-percent capacity. Ken Mathis at Ken’s Custom Tackle and Guide Service reported that one boater made it over Pea Vine Ridge Rd. to the lake with a 4-wheel drive equipped with chains and trolled stickbaits for macks to 11 pounds.
• FOLSOM LAKE – A few bass were being caught drop-shot Robo-Worms, and jigging from 15 to 25 feet deep over rock piles. Drifting minnows has also been effective up the North Fork and off the Peninsula. Planter trout were being caught by the boat ramp and over rock piles, especially on minnows. And, bankies were catching a few at Granite Bay, too.
• RANCHO SECO LAKE – Fishing for trout from shore as well as small non-gas-powered boats has been good, aided by plants and cooler water.
SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento—The best bet to catch some striped bass was in the Deep Water Channel for boaters trolling, jigging, or drifting minnows in the Turning Basin. Bankies were catching some by tossing Flukes at the Locks. A few sturgeon were being caught at Hood.
• SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding – Trout fishing continued to be very good, with steelhead fishing continuing to improve around Battle Creek. Some nice fresh late fall kings continued to show up.
• YUBA RIVER – Fishing slowed, but fly fishers continued were catch a few trout and steelheady dead-drifting small nymphs.
• BERKELEY – Before and after the late-week wind event, Berkeley boats brought home the bacon in the form of rockfish, lingcod and crabs. Most reports were similar… full limits of rockfish and crabs, plus some lingcod from the Marin coast. Shore fishers behind Golden Gate Fieldscleaned up on 1- to 2-pound perch from shore.
• BODEGA BAY/LAWSON’S LANDING – Variety was the name of the game out of Bodega Bay and near Lawson’s Landing. The species list of hungry rockfish seemed to grow and shrimp pots joined crab pots offshore. A shellfish advisory was issued for inner Tomales Bay, however the clams at the ocean end of the Bay were reported to be unaffected.
• CROCKETT—Stripers were caught by shore-based casters. Mudsuckers came out on top of the competition for best bait.
• EMERYVILLE – Weekend scores for Emeryville boats were better than a ballgame. New Huck Fin on Friday had 31 anglers who got limits of crabs, 260 rockfish and 3 lingcod to 10 pounds. On Saturday the boat’s 26 people caught limits of crabs, 195 rockfish and 8 lings to 15 pounds. Sea Wolf took 22 people out to bring in limits of crabs, 180 rockfish and 16 lingcod to 12 pounds. Most fishing was done along the Marin coast.
• EUREKA – Jetty fishing for greenling and rockfish remained decent. Diligent work at crabbing nearly always produced enough for dinner, both from boat and from shore. Clamming for razor clams was rumored to be good near Englund Marine.
• FORT BRAGG – Windy weather and bumpy seas (and maybe Christmas shopping) kept most folks off the water. Jetty fishers went out with surf leaders and squid or shrimp or pile worms to coax a few rockfish or perch. Surf fishers had just a couple of days when conditions were safe and sane, with a few red tail perch to show for a brisk outing.
• HALF MOON BAY PACIFICA – Queen of Hearts ended her season with continued limits of rockfish from the Pescador area. Snare-casters inside the harbor caught more legal Dungeness than usual. Jae Song of Pacifica caught red tail perch up to 16 inches at Mussell Rock.
• MARTINEZ – Flash got into sturgeon and stripers, while fishing near the Mothball Fleet. Boaters from Martinez and Benicia worked the general area from Benicia Bridge to the upper Mothball Fleet using shrimp and eel/shrimp combo baits.
• AMERICAN RIVER – The river was running low, clear, and cold—not the best combination for successful fishing.
• BULLARDS BAR –The lake is at 45-percent capacity. There was still no launching on the lake with both ramps out of the water.
• CAMP FAR WEST – Bass fishing was slower this past week, but anglers were still scoring 5 to 10 fish. Ron Franks of Folsom caught 9 bass running 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 pounds on green pumpkin, cotton candy, and morning dawn worms and Brush Hogs at 8 to 10 feet deep all over the lake in 47- to 49-degree water.
• COLLINS LAKE – Trout fishing was still productive, mostly for shore anglers using Power Bait and marshmallow/worms at the beach and the dam. The big fish of the week was a 6 1/4-pound rainbow caught at the beach by Summer Lynn Wicker of Citrus Heights.
• ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR – The lake is at 98-percent capacity. Houseboaters berthed in the marina were catching rainbows to 4 pounds on worms and Power Bait. Shore anglers were picking up a few rainbows around the boat ramp.
• LAKE OROVILLE – The lake is at 37-percent capacity. Guide Ron Gandolfi reported that bass and coho salmon action was very good this past week. Bass were still hitting jigs, worms, Senkos, and tubes from 5 to 40 feet deep. Anglers could expect 20 to 30 fish per day if they could detect the “weight” bite with the fish just picking up the lures. The coho were hitting worms and tubes in coves in the West Branch and North Fork and running a healthy 3 to 5 pounds. Windy points were good for a reaction bite on ripbaits, spinnerbaits and small swimbaits. Launching will probably end at Lime Saddle this week, as the lake continues to drop. The Spillway was down to one lane. The best launching choice will be the low water ramp at Bidwell Marina.
• ROLLINS LAKE –The lake is at 81-percent capacity. Smallmouth bass fishing was good, according to Jim Caldwell at NID. One angler reported catching 9 smallies and keeping three fish running 2 1/2 to 3 pounds that hit worms and jigs on rocky points.
• SCOTT’S FLAT LAKE – The lake is at 64-percent capacity. The roads were clear of snow and launching was no problem. Trout trolling was very good with quick limits coming in using dodger/worm combos at the dam and inlet.
• SUGAR PINE RESERVOIR – The road to the lake gets plowed by the County, but the road into the lake facilities is not cleared. Call ahead to the Foresthill Ranger Station, Monday through Friday, to get the latest access conditions at 530-367-2224.
• STUMPY MEADOWS RESERVOIR – The Georgetown Ranger Station reported that the road to the lake was too icy for easy passage—4-wheel drive and chains were recommended. No one was fishing this past week.
• THERMOLITO AFTERBAY – The lake was at 131.9-foot elevation at press time—70-percent capacity. Trollers and shore anglers were trying for steelhead in the channel at Wilbur Rd. On the main body of the lake, boaters need to avoid conflict with the duck hunters.
• DON PEDRO RESERVOIR – “Trout fishing is good at both ends of the lake,” said Guide Monte Smith of Gold Country Sportfishing. To catch trout around the Blue Oaks area and up in Big Creek trout trollers are going 6 colors deep with Ex-Cel Lures, Speedy Shiners and Chucker-Ts. Up in the Moccasin area trollers are using the same lures 3 colors deep. Bass fishing is slow with the best method drop-shooting 4-inch plastics 30 to 50 feet.
• LAKE MCCLURE – “There is a good bass bite on rubber worms,” said Jason Mello at A-1 Bait Shop in Snelling. Angers are drop-shotting and splitshotting oxblood, purple ghost and green weinie plastics catching bass. There has been a good trout bite off the banks at Barretts Cove and McClure Point on Kastmasters and Triple Teazers.
• LAKE MCSWAIN – “They have been catching quite a few trout at the Brush Pile on Power Bait,” said Denise Warwick at Lake McSwain Marina. Jason Mello at A-1 Bait Shop in Snelling said, “A local angler used a hammered nickel cowbells and ‘crawler for a limit of trout.” The anglers took quite a while to boat his limit.
• LAKE PARDEE – Pardee Lake Recreation Area is closed. The Park will reopen for the 2014 season Thursday February 13th for camping and the 14th for fishing.
• NEW MELONES RESERVOIR – Trout fishing is good. Bank fishermen at Tuttletown and Glory Hole Point are catching limits or near limits on Power Bait. Bass fishing is slow. The bite seems to hit or miss for most anglers. Most fish are schooling in deep water from 40 to 70 feet. Try using vertical jigging spoons near the balls of bait. A great cold water tactic is a drop-shot rig. Try using small shad patterned bait a light fluorocarbon line to get these finicky fish to bite. Catfish have moved to deeper water and hard to locate.