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SacBee - Fishing line: Steelhead action improving on American River

January 29, 2018

The hatchery posted this video on Jan. 4 of the fish getting ready to make the journey in trucks from Anderson, Calif. to the Sacramento River, where they will be released. Coleman National Fish Hatchery

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ere are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Jan. 29.



1,400 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were released into the lake this week during three separate plants with 800 pounds averaging 2.5 pounds on Friday. The best action remains from the shorelines with Power Eggs, trout dough bait, or nightcrawlers from the dam, spillway and the shoreline in the back of the lake. Trolling remains slow, but a few fish are taken with bright-colored spoons or plugs. The lake rose to 18 feet from spilling, and the water is slightly stained.


Steelhead fishing improved late last week, with some anglers reported three to five fish each while drifting roe or worms between Watt Avenue and the Basin. Some of the fish have been hatchery steelhead up to 8 pounds, said Larry Barnes of Sacramento Pro Tackle. Fishing has been decent near Sailor Bar. Flows have remained near 3,000 cfs the past week at Fair Oaks, but rains have added some color to the water.


1,200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows were released this week in the South Shore Pond along with another 1,200 pounds at the North Shore launch ramp. The recent rains may have been the reason for a slower trout bite for trollers working Speedy Shiners, Rapalas, or grubs from the dam into the Narrows. Stillfishing above the bridge has been producing rainbows with inflated nightcrawlers or trout dough bait. Bass fishing is best near the coves close to the dam with plastics on the drop-shot at depths from 40 to 50 feet. There are several bass tournaments scheduled during the month of February. The lake held at 76 percent.

DELTA REGION: Sacramento River

Striped bass are moving into the north Delta as the spring run is showing signs of taking off with the warm water conditions. Live mudsuckers or jumbo minnows are working on the clearer outgoing tide near the levee break in Liberty Island with sardines coated with garlic spray or pile worms in the main Sacramento River near Freeport. In Suisun Bay, a variety of baits have been effective for sturgeon including eel/nightcrawler or eel/pile worm combinations, grass shrimp, and ghost shrimp. Trolling for striped bass slowed down this past week with the majority of linesides on the small side. The Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon Derby, aka Super Bowl derby is this coming Saturday and Sunday out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point.


Stripers are being caught near Boyd’s Pump and Star Bend by anglers fishing swimbaits. Hatchery steelhead smolts are expected to be released early this week, which should lead to good striper fishing river wide. The easiest access is at Boyd’s Pump. Minnows tend to work best in the mornings and then swimbaits in the evenings as the stripers feed on the steelhead smolts. Sturgeon fishing is slow at the mouth of the Bear River.



The river was blown out all of last week, but is expected to be in prime shape all of this week, said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Flows hit 18,000 cfs, but were down to 8,000 cfs late Sunday. Ideal flows are expected through the weekend. Steelhead fishing had been good just before the last series of storms.

ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon

The Elk was high but fishable over the weekend, with most boats reporting a fish or two while side-drifting between the hatchery and Elk River RV Park. Better conditions are in the forecast this week. The Elk hit 8 feet last week, but should be between 4 and 3.5 feet most of this week.

ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon

The Rogue was high and muddy last week, but is dropping quickly and expected to fish well this week. The few guides on the river last week reported decent catches of steelhead, and bank anglers plunking Spin-N-Glos began to catch fish again on Sunday.

ROGUE RIVER, Grant’s Pass

After recent rains, the river is clearing now, said Troy Whitaker, guide-owner of U-Sav Tackle in Grants Pass. Starting Feb, 1, anglers can keep only wild salmon over 24 inches in length, and up to 5 over 16-inch hatchery fish. Best baits include yarn balls with Pautzke bait or roe with a Puffball. Trollers use plugs in gold, gold-and-black, black-and-silver, pink-and-silver . . . any metallic bright colors.


As of Sunday January 28 the Russian River is still a high muddy mess, but is on the mend, according to Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport & Tackle in Guerneville. “Current flows are at 1800 near Guerneville with zero visibility. Long range forecasts are showing a prolonged dry spell, which will be good news for fishing, since it will give the river some time to clear. I expect the Healdsburg run should be fishable by mid-week and the river below Forestville by the weekend. For those itching to get out, your best option is plunking bait with a Spin “n” Glo on the inside bends of the river. By the weekend we should be able to drift bait and swing spinners and Cleos with larger intruder flies for the fly fisherman.”

SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon

The river was blown out all of last week and remained high and muddy over the weekend. It should drop back into shape by mid-week, taking some of the pressure off the Elk and Chetco rivers.


Fishing on the Smith has been hit and miss, according to guide Phil Pritting of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service. “There are nice steelhead being caught every day. One day you come in and every boat has got a fish or two, but the next day it will be a lot of boats don't get a bite and only one or two catch fish. The fish are moving through with the latest rises in the river. One night we had almost 4 inches of rain and the Smith got up to 22.6 at the 101 Bridge. The past 2 days, every one went plunking with mixed results. We have great weather in the forecast and the fishing should be good this week.” According to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, “Prime conditions are expected all week. During last week's high water, the Smith remained fishable, despite hitting 21 feet. Plunkers caught good numbers of fish from the Highway 101 bridge up to Jed Smith. Good flows for side-drifting should lead to good catches this week.”



Steelhead fishing has been good near Hornbrook, although snow and winter weather kept most anglers away last week. Small plugs and worms fished below divers are working best. Flows over the weekend at Iron Gate Dam have remained near 965 cfs last week as runoff is being kept in check by the dam.


Steelhead fishing slowed near Happy Camp with rain and winter weather, but is expected to heat up again this week with good weather. Side-drifting roe has worked best. Flows at Seiad Valley rose from 1,967 cfs to 2,124 cfs. Flows at Orleans rose from 6,259 cfs to 9,064 cfs.


Fishing is slow, with the lower river high and muddy. Flows jumped from 16,000 cfs to 24,000 cfs over the weekend, and are expected to rise again with this week’s big rainstorms on the coast.


The upper section of the Trinity remained fishable last week, but everything from Burnt Ranch down was high and muddy after rain and then snow hit Trinity County. Anglers are using MagLip plugs or roe drifted below bobbers to catch steelhead near Douglas City and Junction City. Bank anglers are also tossing Little Cleos. Flows at Lewiston remained 321 cfs, while flows at Douglas City were 442 cfs on Sunday, up from 388 cfs the week before. Flows at Junction City were 514 cfs, up from 446 cfs. The lower Trinity is high and muddy, as flows at Hoopa were 6,025 cfs over the weekend, up from 3,802 cfs.



Anglers are finding fair action for smallmouth bass on drop-shots and football head jigs, while trout anglers are getting a few rainbows on trolled lures.


Bass fishing has been fair on plastic worms and live nightcrawlers fished near the tower and dam, but crappie fishing was on the slow side this week.


Bass action is finally picking up again with fish to about 7 pounds reported at the north end and Rattlesnake Island. The bass are hitting on small leadhead jigs, lipless crank baits and drop-shot rigs.


Bass fishing remains slow.


A few trout and bass were caught, but overall fishing remains slow.


Bass fishing has been slow with a few fish caught on plastic worms and jerk baits. Trollers after trout are finding some action on the main body of the lake, dragging lures about 100 feet behind the boat with flashers and Needlefish or live nightcrawlers.


Recent trout plant has perked up the action with lots of rainbows in the 17- to 18-inch range being caught on baits and trolled lures behind flashers.



Anglers continue to catch a mix of rainbows and browns despite the area getting hit by a powerful snowstorm last week. Water temperatures continue to hover around the low 40s and ice was forming in Geritol Cove this past week. The recent DFW planters continue to hang out in and around Geritol Cove, running in the 12 to 15 inches in size. They are nice healthy fish and eager to play.


Fishing remains fair for bait and fly fishermen following plants of rainbows.


Marina is shut down for the winter.


The season is over now, to resume when general spring fishing season opens in April.


Trout fishing remains fair on Power Baits and nightcrawlers fished in areas from the marina up to the dam.


Fishing is fair in the No. 3 area for fly fishermen.


Bass fishing was fair to good in the main body of the lake as tournament anglers were competing in a 3-day event sponsored by the Wild West circuit. Trout fishing remains fair in the dam area on trolled flashers/nightcrawler combos.


Fishing remains slow on the lake, with most trout anglers still fishing the river below the dam.


Marina is shut down until spring.



Trout fishing remains slow with few anglers heading to the lake, but there is hope with Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures heading to the lake this week. There are several bass tournaments in the coming month with the Kerman Bass Club on February 3, New Jen Tournaments on February 10, Best Bass Tournaments on February 17, River Rats on February 24, and Wild West Bass Trails on March 2. Bass fishing remains fair at best with the bait holding in deep water. The lake rose to 83 percent this week.


There are several bass tournaments scheduled on the lake during the month of February including theNew Jen Tournaments on February 3, California Bass Federation on February 4, Best Bass Tournaments and the Sonora Bass Club on February 10, and the Fresno and Kings VIII Bass Clubs on February 11. Limits in the 12 to 13 pounds should take these tournaments as the bass are still holding in deeper water with finesse techniques. The overall bite remains slow, and the weights are smaller than normal. The lake held 66 percent.


The rainbow trout are moving into the shorelines, and trollers are switching up their gear to run lures on planer boards to get in close to the shore. Bank anglers are scoring in Glory Hole Point or Angels Cove with trout dough bait or inflated nightcrawlers. Bass fishing is best with jigs in brown or purple as the fish are suspended and hitting the lures on the drop. The water in the main lake is clear, and the reaction bite will improve if the water clouds up. The lake dropped slightly to 83 percent.



Open water here. There is some trout activity near the inlet or at the dam later in the day.


Lake is frozen and people were on the ice over the weekend, according to two reports.


Recent weather put snow on the banks and made the water colder.


Winter trout derby is slated for Saturday. Typically an ice fishing event, this year’s rendition will be in open water since all the ice has melted. Few have been fishing lately so reports are lean.


Guide Shaun Rainsbarger has been dedicating his efforts toward catching big Mackinaw and is having mixed results. Best fish last week was a 7 pounder caught with a big swimbait at 80 feet. Water temperature is 39 degrees in the morning, warming to 42 during the day. Some anglers cast for rainbow trout near China Cove with mixed results.


Last week’s storm closed access to Jackson Meadows.


Lots of wind and snow last week kept boats off the water until the weekend. On Saturday an afternoon charter from Tahoe Sportfishing had limits of Macks for six anglers, all in the 3- to 5-pound range.


Boaters are out-producing shore anglers, but most of the action is in the top 25 feet of water. Trolled Apexes work well, but the bite has been good one day, off the next.


Lake is ice free.


Anglers are reporting limits and near limits of planted rainbows. Best action is near the first dam and best offering has been a nightcrawler with a salmon egg.


Last week’s storm has made access very difficult.


Better action here last week, maybe helped by more settled weather. Lake remains high but best fishing has been from shore with nightcrawlers or Power Bait. Big fish of the week was a 7-pound, 9-ounce rainbow.


Water is cold and bite is tough. Get a slow drift and put the fly on the trout’s nose and you’ll get a bite. Action is all sub-surface.



A slow presentation near moving water is essential for largemouth bass, as they are reluctant to chase, but the warmer water temperatures are creating better conditions for a reaction bite. Jigs, Brass N’ Glass, or ripbaits such as ima Flit or the Rock N’Vibe Suspend in shad patterns are working on a slow presentation in the grass. The bass are holding near moving grass as the shad are located in these areas. A few stripers are found in Frank’s Tract with vibrating jigs. Bluegill action is best off of Eight Mile Road with red worms or jumbo red worms on the drop-shot. Fresh shad are no longer available in area bait shops, but most shops have a large supply of frozen shad.



Folsom Lake is at 426 feet, unchanged from the last week. Full pool is 466 feet. The water temperature is 53 degrees. Trout fishing has been good for trollers dragging small plugs or flashers and Needlefish near the dam and in the South Fork. A few bass are being caught by anglers fishing minnows from shore or drop-shot rigs from boats.


Trout fishing has slowed with winter weather near Dunsmuir. Flows were just under 800 cfs over the weekend. Snow fell last week in Dunsmuir.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa

Striper fishing has been good at times near Colusa, with the few guides fishing reporting good success again last week. Fish to 40 pounds have been reported. Large swimbaits are working best, but some anglers are using jumbo minnows. A few sturgeon have now been reported.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff

Flows from Keswick Dam remained stable at 4,000 cfs. Trout fishing has been good between Keswick and the Highway 44 bridge. Roe is working best, although Glo Bugs and soft beads also are tricking fish. Some hatchery steelhead are being caught in the Anderson area. Salmon season is closed.


Fishing for sturgeon and striper has been slow at Miller Park and Discovery Park. Few boaters are fishing in the Sacramento metro area. A few stripers were reported in the deepwater channel. Some stripers could move through next week as hatchery steelhead are released into the Feather River and migrate downstream.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa

Fishing for sturgeon has improved at First Beach and Second Beach at Knight’s Landing. Some fish also are being caught at Verona. Roe and herring combinations are working, along with eel and nightcrawler. Ghost shrimp and pile worms will work if anglers can find any. Striper fishing is slow near Verona.



This is the time of year the spotted bass are at their pre-spawn heaviest. A world record has been established each of the last three years. Will it happen again in 2018?


Bass are deep and hard to entice.


Trout bite is fair. Don’t expect limits but action can be had due to a recent plant of 2,000 pounds. Bass bite is solid near the dam.


Last week’s snow may have shut access for the winter.


Tubes, worms offered on the bottom are the best bet. A few fish are suspended but most are hugging the bottom and moving slowly. Lake is rising a bit more than a foot per day. Water has a few feet of visibility but there is debris on the surface, so beware.


February is a good time for big fish. Concentrate on the rip-rap and throw jigs or swimbaits.



Berkeley boaters made frequent forays into San Pablo Bay to fish for sturgeon and striped bass. The bass seemed to be biting better in the eastern portion near Vallejo. Locally, some bass were taken on Berkeley Flats. Shore fishers hooked perch and just a few stripers.


Private boaters braved the seas on a couple of the days to haul, rebait and drop their pots. They did come up with decent counts of crabs with overnight soaks providing counts close to limits, though usually a bit short. Tomales Bay crabbing was in the slumps although not down and out. Shore fishing for a variety of surf perches was good near Lawson’s Landing and Dillon Beach.


The fabled Fish Emeryville fleet was busy with winter maintenance, but private boaters made it out to chase bass off of Emeryville and Alameda Rock Wall, or they scooted across the Bay to target the bass off of Hunter’s Point and Oyster Point. Some boats ran northward to fish sturgeon and bass off of China Camp.


Crabbing inside Humboldt Bay wasn’t bad and overnight soaks often resulted in a nice family crab feed. Those who needed to feel a rod bend deeply practiced their skills and tested their equipment in the northern part of the Bay on leopard sharks and bat rays. Jetty fishers were limited in where they could safely fish due to winter weather, but did catch some kelp greenlings and rockfish.


Crabbing was phenomenal and Sea Hawk scored limits out on the rough wintery sea. Private boats also had good results from 60-foot depths on out to as deep as they wanted to work. Stormy weather and big swells restricted shore anglers to Noyo Jetty for crabs, kelp greenling and rockfish or to Dog Park for surf perch.


Crabbing was tough but Huli Cat managed to send her passengers home with respectable numbers. Sanddabs were an ever-ready option for boats giving their crab pots a good soak. Crabbing was generally better for folks working Pacifica Pier and the nearby shoreline. Along the Half Moon Bay jetty, kids were fishing gaps between the rocks and having fun catching perch and smallish rockfish.


Bass Tub was ready for splashing after winter maintenance and is booking trips. Argo had trips to San Pablo Bay and tallied limits of striped bass to 6 pounds. Sturgeon were fussy but were seen jumping nearby. Lovely Martha is now ready to book trips. Shore anglers caught stripers and surf perches at local fishing access spots.

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