Chinook salmon make their fall return to San Joaquin County

More than 18,000 salmon returned to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery this fall, breaking the 2011 record for returning fish.
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More than 18,000 salmon returned to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery this fall, breaking the 2011 record for returning fish.
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Fishing Line

Fishing line: Sturegon bite explodes in Suisun Bay

December 04, 2017 04:27 PM

Here are the best places to fish in the Sacramento region, Northern California and beyond for the week of Dec. 4.

TOP PICKS

AMERICAN RIVER

Anglers are now focusing on steelhead, which are being caught near Watt Avenue and Howe Avenue on roe, nightcrawlers and beads. There is a mix of wild and hatchery fish up to 4 pounds. Salmon fishing has been slow, although a few kings are still being caught. Salmon season closes Dec. 16.

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COLLINS LAKE

Trollers and bank anglers are catching trout throughout the lake. Bankies get action with nightcrawlers or Power Bait near the dam of off the Beach. Trollers are scoring in the middle of the lake, typically with Kastmasters or Needlefish. Bass bite is so-so. Water temperature is in the high 50s.

DELTA REGION: Sacramento River

The sturgeon bite has exploded in Suisun Bay with optimal conditions of 56-degree temperatures and a larger set of tides. The Big Cut, Montezuma Slough, and the Horseshoe are all producing slot-limit sturgeon along with the area in front of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor. Fresh roe has been the top bait, but they are also biting on eel or grass shrimp. Striped bass fishing remains solid with a fresh batch of smaller linesides moving into the Delta. Huge striped bass continue to be caught and kept on live bait out of McAvoy’s. The north Delta areas of Liberty and Steamboat Slough and the Sacramento Deep Water Channel are good bets for stripers with live mudsuckers, minnows, or cut bait coated with garlic spray.

DON PEDRO

The trout bite has finally kicked off with rainbows to 3.5 pounds hugging the shad schools in the main lake, according to guide Monte Smith of Gold Country Sportfishing. The key is finding the birds and working the same area with shad-patterned spoons or similar lures on lead core. The lake has yet to turn over, but the visibility is tremendous at 10 feet with a surface temperature reaching 60 degrees. The bass are holding in deeper water, and plastics on the drop-shot or jigs remain the top baits. The lake held at 80 percent this week.

NORTH COAST RIVER

CHETCO RIVER, Brookings

Salmon fishing is winding down for the season, while steelhead season is just beginning. Fishing was slow last week. Conditions were good over the weekend, with flows of 2,600 cfs. The river is expected to drop to low, clear conditions by this weekend.

ELK RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon

Salmon fishing was good last Wednesday and Thursday, but had slowed over the weekend with low, clear conditions.

ROGUE RIVER, Gold Beach, Oregon

A few anglers are now fishing for steelhead, but catches have been light. Steelhead fishing generally improves between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

ROGUE RIVER, Grants Pass, Oregon

There are still a few steelhead and cohos in the area, but anglers are still waiting for the winter action to perk up and new fish to move into the area. Some fish continue to be caught on pink jigs, bobbers with jigs, and spinners. Drifting nightcrawlers, Pautzke’s and Puffballs also produces some action. Lake Selmac is producing good trout action on Power Bait, as is Lost Creek Lake.

RUSSIAN RIVER

Things slowed down on the Russian last week when the mouth closed due to high ocean swells. “On Saturday, as the estuary was approaching flood height, the mouth was breached,” said Scott Heemstra of Kings Sport and Tackle in Guerneville. “With water flowing out and high tides I would expect a good push of fish coming in this week. Flows are currently at 360 as of Sunday and dropping slowly, so make sure you call the ‘low flow’ hotline to ensure the river is open to fishing. Best bets for steelehad will be Little Cleo spoons in copper, copper/red, nickel/blue, and gold or small baits drifted under a float. For the fly fisherman try swinging smaller intruders, comets and bosses with a slow sinking line.”

SIXES RIVER, Port Orford, Oregon

Salmon fishing has slowed as the run winds down. No reports of steelhead yet.

SMITH RIVER

Salmon fishing is slow, despite near-perfect conditions. The Smith was just under 4,000 cfs at the Jed Smith gauge over the weekend. Many of the salmon have already spawned. Steelhead are expected to arrive after the next big storm.

TRINITY/KLAMATH RIVER

KLAMATH RIVER, Hornbrook

The river is closed to salmon fishing. Steelhead fishing has been very good near Hornbrook. Small plugs and worms fished below divers are working best. Fly anglers are catching steelhead on beads below indicators. Flows over the weekend at Iron Gate Dam were 1,129 cfs, up from 1,000 cfs a week ago.

KLAMATH RIVER, Happy Camp

Salmon season is closed. Steelhead fishing is good near Happy Camp as the river drops. Flows at Seiad Valley dropped to 2,162 cfs over the weekend. Flows at Orleans were 4,950 cfs.

KLAMATH RIVER, Klamath Glen

Fishing is slow, although the river is dropping back into shape. Clear weather is expected this week. Flows over the weekend at Terwer were down to 10,748 cfs.

TRINITY RIVER

Steelhead fishing has been good near Douglas City and Junction City. The steelhead are running 4 to 6 pounds, with about half of the fish hatchery fish. Small MagLip plugs are working best, but roe also is taking fish. Bank anglers are drifting roe or nightcrawlers with good success below Pigeon Point. Spoons also are working. Flows over the weekend at Lewiston were 296 cfs, while flows at Douglas City were 385 cfs, flows at Junction City were 416 cfs and flows at Hoopa were 2,387 cfs.

NORTH COAST LAKES

LAKE BERRYESSA

Bass fishing has been fair to good with a few lunkers to 5 pounds reported. Top techniques being used were LV500's, drop-shot, A-Rigs and jerkbaits while anglers covered a lot of water. A few anglers found good schools of bait and worked spoons for trout in the 30 to 45 feet of water. A few trout are also being caught on trolled lures.

BLACK BUTTE LAKE

A few spotted bass are being caught, along with a few crappie catches.

CLEAR LAKE

Overall with the crappie showing up, a vast number of bluegill are also being caught throughout the lake. The bass fishing was sort of slow this past week, but a belly boat tournament over the weekend found the winner getting 10.13 and 8.21 pounders to anchor his 8-fish limit for a two-day event.

LAKE MENDOCINO

Not much bass action has been noted here recently.

LAKE PILLSBURY

Not much action reported here with few anglers out.

LAKE SONOMA

There were not many reports, but there were a few good bass catches made. Some good bass in the 4-pound range were caught from Cherry Creek on jigs. A few scattered trout catches are also being made on trolled lures.

UPPER BLUE LAKES

Trout fishing has been fair following the first plants of the winter last week. Most fish are halfpounders.

FAR NORTH LAKES AND RIVER

LAKE ALMANOR

Anglers managed to catch a few fish up past Rec #2 in water between 12 and 30 feet deep, fast trolling hardware from 5 to 20 feet at 2.6 to 3 mph. Bank and fly fishermen continue to pick up fish in the coves around the Canyon Dam boat ramp. The majority of the fish are in the 12- to 14-inch range, with a few larger fish thrown in the mix caught on nightcrawlers, Power Bait and hardware. These fish get lots of fishing pressure and become skittish, so fly fishermen are downsizing their presentations and throwing midges with 6x tippets.

BAUM LAKE

Trout action remains good for bait anglers, while fly fishermen are scoring well on leeches and midges.

BUCKS LAKE

Not much action seen here as marina shut down for winter.

EAGLE LAKE

Few anglers are on the lake with the marina shut down for the winter.

LEWISTON LAKE

Trout fishing remains good on Power Baits for shore anglers near the marina, while upriver areas continue be good for trollers and bait dunkers.

PIT RIVER

Areas 3 and 4 are fair for trout action for fly anglers working midges and leeches.

SHASTA LAKE

Good action is reported, but bass are consistently in the 2-pound range, with few above that weight. A typical limit will run about 12 pounds. The lake level is now down about 50 feet from the high-water mark. The trout rollers are still picking up rainbow trout with lures behind flashers at depths from 30 to 50 feet. Crappie fishing is good in most brushy areas and near docks.

TRINITY LAKE

Fishing remains slow with a few bass and trout caught, but there are not many anglers out. Most are fishing for trout in the river below the dam.

WHISKEYTOWN LAKE

Fishing remains slow for bass and trout anglers.

MOTHERLODE

LAKE AMADOR

500 pounds of rainbow were released into the lake on December 1, and there have been a few limits of rainbows taken from the docks with chartreuse trout dough bait. Trollers are starting to get in on the action with a 6.8-pound rainbow taken on a firetiger Rapala as the lake remains relatively clear with the lack of rain. The annual Lake Amador Trout Derby started on November 24, and it will run through March 4, 2018 with a one-time entry fee of $7.00. Over 300 tagged fish will be released for a total in excess of $5000 of cash and prizes. The lake is 22 feet from spilling.

LAKE CAMANCHE

Another 1800 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery plants were split between the North Shore launch ramp, South Shore launch ramp, and South Shore Pond during the past week, and trolling continues to be best with 3-inch white grubs at speeds from 1.4 to 1.6 mph within 15 feet of the surface. Limits are possible, but heavy boat traffic over the weekend slowed down action for most. Big largemouth bass continue to be found with ripbaits or plastics on the drop-shot at depths to 35 feet. The lake held at 70 percent.

NEW MELONES

Huge trout are still a possibility, but the action has slowed over the past few weeks. The spillway is holding trout near the shad schools, and rolling shad has proved effective for rainbows to 4.5 pounds at depths from 25 to 65 feet. Trollers will have to be patient and work long and hard for a few quality fish. Bank fishing remains slow, but as the lake cools, the rainbows will move closer to the shorelines. and the action should improve as the lake turns over in the near future. Bass fishing is best with plastics on the drop-shot for numbers, but the grade of fish is small. The big fish time is coming with swimbaits as the water cools. The lake held at 83 percent.

SIERRA LAKES AND RIVERS

BLUES LAKES

Road is closed for the winter at the second gate.

BOCA RESERVOIR

Very little pressure here.

CAPLES LAKE

Morning temperatures in the teens and heavy winds during the day has made this unappealing in recent days.

DAVIS LAKE

Don’t expect limits but quality trout can be caught with bait from Mallards, Honker Cove. Rumor of an 8-pound trout from Honker is circulating. Fly fishers can get trout near Jenkins Cove.

DONNER LAKE

Mackinaw bite is good and fish can be found all over the lake. Toplining for rainbow trout in China Cove can be productive.

GOLD LAKE BASIN

A light snow fell over the weekend, but the basin should be cleared and accessible by mid-week. Fishing at Gold Lake last week was productive for trollers.

INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR

Biting cold and high wind kept people away last week.

JACKSON MEADOWS

Access is no problem and the fishing for trout from shore is good. Nightcrawlers are the ticket.

LAKE TAHOE

Mackinaw will bite aggressively in the morning. Charters get Macks from the shallows and deep water. Toplining for rainbows has been productive on the south and west side.

PYRAMID LAKE

No heavy teen trout caught last week but cutthroat weighing 10 to 11 pounds were landed by shore anglers and boaters. A variety of flies and colors are working for shore. The key is to stay and wait for the fish instead of beach bouncing and hoping to stumble on a hot bite.

SLY PARK

Lake has turned over and trout bite was good last week. A few Macks to 3 pounds were reported caught in the middle of the lake.

TOPAZ LAKE

Lake is closed to fishing. It will re-open Jan. 1.

TRUCKEE RIVER

The outflow from Lake Tahoe was bumped to 1,400 cfs. The flow is 1,600 at the border. The river is not very wadeable. Sunny days bring out big hatches of blue wing olives, said Miles Zimmerman of Mountain Sports and Hardware in Truckee.

DELTA REGION

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER

Small striped bass are the rule, and there are plenty of tiny linesides in the system. Limits of legal stripers can be taken, but patience and hard work are necessary to wade through the small fish. Bass fishing is best with reaction baits of chatterbaits and swimjigs, and overcast conditions are best for the reaction baits. Bluegill are hitting red worms or jumbo red worms off of Eight Mile Road on a drop-shot rig.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

FEATHER RIVER

The Outlet Hole closed Oct. 15. Salmon fishing is slow and closes riverwide Dec. 16. A few stripers are being caught near Boyd’s Pump and Shanghai Bend on cut anchovies and sardines. Steelhead fishing is fair in the Low Flow section as well as near the mouth of the Yuba River. Catfish are being caught near Star Bend and just above Verona.

FOLSOM LAKE

Folsom Lake is at 430 feet, up 3 feet from last week. Full pool is 466 feet. The water temperature is 58 degrees. Trout fishing is slow. Bass fishing has slowed down.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Dunsmuir

Trout fishing has slowed with winter weather near Dunsmuir.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Red Bluff to Colusa

Fishing for salmon is slow in the Woodson Bridge area. It is slow above Colusa. Salmon season closes Dec. 16.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Redding to Red Bluff

Flows from Keswick Dam remained near 4,980 cfs. Salmon fishing has heated up again at the Barge Hole, where bright late-fall kings have arrived. The fish are bright and averaging around 6 pounds, with several in the mid-teens reported last week. Guide Dave Jacobs got a customer into a 42-pounder. FlatFish plugs are working well with sardine wraps, although roe also is working well. A few steelhead are being caught. Trout fishing is only fair.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Sacramento

Salmon fishing has slowed down in the mid-town area between Miller Park and Garcia Bend, with very few kings still being caught. The season closes Dec. 16. A few stripers are being caught. Fishing is slow at the Port of Sacramento and in the deepwater channel.

SACRAMENTO RIVER, Verona to Colusa

Fishing for catfish has been good at Knight’s Landing. More sturgeon have shown up near Verona and Knight’s Landing, where roe and eel are working best. A few small stripers also are being caught. Salmon fishing is slow. The salmon season closes Dec. 16.

NORTHERN FOOTHILLS

BULLARDS BAR

Boat traffic is picking up but anglers are tight-lipped about results. Jamie Sorenson at North Valley Tackle in Oroville said he saw a picture of a pair of 8-pound spots caught last week.

CAMP FAR WEST

Bass bite is good in the Bear River Arm. Swimbaits get larger fish, plastics get dinks. Lake is 85 percent of capacity.

ENGLEBRIGHT RESERVOIR

Trout were planted here last week by DFW. Trout in the 14- to 16-inch class are being caught with flashers/nightcrawlers outside the 5 mph zone.

FRENCH MEADOWS

A couple of customers of Will Fish Tackle in Auburn reported good action here. One trolled Shad Raps for limits of trout in just a few hours. The fish were 12 to 14 inches in length. All of the trout had crawdads in their bellies. Another customer reported trolling gold and red Speedy Shiners for limits of rainbows.

FULLER LAKE

A trout plant from DFW went in last week.

LAKE OROVILLE

Ned Rigs, tubes will get bass if offered off the bottom. Spots to 2 pounds are being caught more frequently. The Slot and main body of the lake are productive.

ROLLINS LAKE

Water temperature is down to 54 degrees and it’s a very slow bite, said Nevada Irrigation District supervisor Ryan Drake. “We have had maybe six boaters all week,” Drake said. “It’s the lull after Thanksgiving.” Drake said there is 3- to 4-feet of visibility.

SCOTTS LAKE

A large trout plant went in last Wednesday. “A double tanker came in and we got 5,000 fish,” said Nevada Irrigation District supervisor Jim Caldwell. “They were all 8 to 12 inches long. It was a good plant, that’s for sure. As far as catches, I haven’t heard anything. Not many have been fishing.” Caldwell said the lake is five feet from full and visibility is very good.

THERMOLITO AFTERBAY

“This time of year is just tough,” said Jamie Sorenson of North Valley Tackle in Oroville. “You can throw big swimbaits and hope for big bass.” Beware of duck hunters in the tules. Not only is the water warmer later but most of the hunters will have left.

NORTH SALTWATER

BERKELEY

The Farallon Islands were popular destinations in spite of big swells, which did impact fish and crab counts. Still, skilled crew on boats like California Dawn, Happy Hooker, El Dorado and New El Dorado III generally managed limits of rockfish, decent counts of lingcod up to 20 pounds and about half limits of crab.

BODEGA BAY

Big swells put a dent in the lingcod and crab counts, but there were still roughly half limits of lings and sometimes full limits of crab taken, plus full limits of quality rockfish aboard New Sea Angler. Tomales Bay provided calmer water and decent crabbing on days when the sea was riled up. Some rainbow perch action was available, but not a wide-open bite.

EMERYVILLE

New Huck Finn and Sea Wolf rode some large swells and put some good fish and crab aboard for their passengers. Limits of rockfish were standard fare, lingcod to the high teens and half-limits to full-limits of crab for each of their passengers on light-load trips.

EUREKA

Boating on the open ocean was out of the question, but crabbing wasn’t bad inside Humboldt Bay, so some boats worked the Bay. Shore and pier-based crabbers managed enough for easy dinners. Anglers caught rainbow perch at King Salmon and the south jetty produced well, including a limit of lingcod to 9 pounds for one lucky guy.

FORT BRAGG

There were only a few opportunities throughout the week and weekend to make it out of harbor and it was the hard-working charter and partyboat fleet that went adventuring. Capt. Tuna, Ambush and Sea Hawkpulled limits of crabs, hammered the rockfish and took some good lingcod. Crabbing from shore was good at Noyo Jetty, perch fishing was good at Dog Park and northern MacKerricher State Park.

HALF MOON BAY

Combo trips, rockfish-only trips and crab-only trips were all on the menu for passengers wanting light-load trips out of Half Moon Bay aboard, Queen of Hearts, Huli Cat and Riptide. Large swells made for harder work, but plenty of limits of both crabs and rockfish came over the rails. Up at Pacifica, the pier was closed Saturday morning due to a combination of swells and tide, but when it was opened back up people went out in force and caught crab.

SAN FRANCISCO

Fisherman’s Wharf boats, including Wacky Jacky and Lovely Martha targeted Dungeness crab, rockfish and lingcod either along the mainland coast or out at the Farallon Islands. Argo ran up into San Pablo Bay and enjoyed limit fishing for striped bass on the anchor.