Northern California freshwater round-up

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BY BILL KARR

North state rundown covers best fishing action around!

SACRAMENTO — While a lot of waters are still closed, there’s a lot of great fishing going on in open areas, and a lot of variety to choose from. Anglers just need to be respectful of others, keep your distance, and enjoy your time outdoors!

Here’s the north state rundown from Fresno to the southern Oregon rivers:

Over in Lake County, thing are a bit confused at Clear Lake, according to guide Bob Myskey of Bassin’ With Bob. “No reports here, Lake County has been up and down as to how to proceed, first they said absolutely no fishing at all, then they amended that to fishing from the shoreline only. Recently they amended that so you can launch a kayak and also fish from a kayak, but no motorized boats. All the launch ramps are still blocked off with barriers. They are being really cautious about having the lake open up to boats because they know it will create a large influx of fisherman from all over the Bay Area and surrounding counties. That’s why they originally shut it down. They are trying to appease some of the locals, but still keep people from coming here.

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“They just extended our shelter-in-place order to May 17, but I seriously doubt that Clear Lake will be opened up after that. Even if they do open the lake, I doubt that any of us as guides will be able to do our business with all the guidelines that they are putting in place for social distancing of six feet or more, the wearing of masks and disinfecting all surfaces of your business place, etc.”

All public areas at Lake Berryessa near Napa have been closed since April 4 by the Bureau of Reclamation at the request of the Napa County Health Officer and the Napa county Board of supervisors.

“We had a large protest yesterday (May 1) in the town of Lakeport where probably 200 vehicles, with many pulling boats, paraded through the town and around the courthouse urging the county officials to open the lake,” Myskey said. “It was well organized and well done with signage, flags, etc. but unfortunately it does not change the existing stay-in-place order through May 17th.”

Troy Barr of T-Roys Guide Service reported in: “I took my boys last week to Whiskeytown for a few days for a wide open bite. We launched up in Whiskey Creek and fished from just before the 299 bridge and all out front on the main lake both days. All our kokanee came from 38 to 58 with 45 to 58 being the best. We used RMT dodgers with micro squids, red radical glow tubes, Uncle Larry’s spinners in orange colors tipped with Pautzke Firecorn and Pautzke Fire Gel on the hardware. The fishing is as wide open as it can be, with both days 15 fish each day for under an hour each day. The fish want to play with anything orange and some pink.”

Guide Jeff Goodwin of Jeff Goodwin Guide Service said that Shasta Lake is fishing pretty good for this time of the year. “We’re not seeing lots of fish, but we are seeing some big browns and rainbows,” he said. “I netted a brown for a friend two days ago that tipped the spring scale to over 7 pounds. We also landed a 5-pound brown, which was our first fish of the morning.  Three more rainbows in the 2- to 3-pound range were landed before noon on Thursday’s outing, as well.  Most fish are coming from 15 to 50 feet deep, so the fish are spread out. That’s normal before the thermocline establishes in June. Single spoons in the 2 1/4-inch size took most of the fish that day. I’ve had similar reports from other boats on the lake.

“We’ve also been fishing the Sac River in Redding for wild trout,” Goodwin said. “With flows at 9,750 cfs, the fishing is really good. Most days we’re seeing 20 to 30 trout landed with even more on a hot bite. We’re side drifting or bobber-doggin’ roe and or pegged beads from our power boats with spin gear. The trout average 16 to 18 inches, but a lot of days we see 4 to 5 fish over 20 inches. Every once in a while, we’ll get that 25-inch, 5-pound rainbow to make for a perfect day.”

Fishing at all of the East Bay Regional Park District, including Contra Loma, Del Valle, Don Castro, Jordan Pond, Lake Anza, Lake Chabot, Quarry Lakes (Horeshoe Lake and Rainbow Lake only), Shadow Cliffs, Shinn Pond and Lake Temescal remains open, but only for anglers who walk into the parks and fish. No gatherings allowed and maintain social distancing of 6 feet. Anglers must carry a state fishing license and abide by state regulations but will not be required to have a Daily Fishing Permit from the East Bay Regional Park District. All regulations, bag limits, slot limits still apply. Fish Plants are suspended during the health pandemic and there is no boating allowed. Visit ebparks.org/coronavirus for latest list of COVID-19 related closures.

The Bay Area lakes of Lafayette and Los Vaqueros are both closed to the public, and  San Pablo and Shadow Cliffs are closed, but allow walk-in fishing.

All North Bay lakes in the Marin Municipal Water District, including Lagunitas Creek, Alpine, Kent, Soulajule, Bon Tempe and Nicasio are open for walk-in fishing, but the parking lots are all closed.

The report from Coyote Bait and Tackle on the South Bay lakes is that Anderson has been “pretty good” on crappie by the dam, but the evening bite is best. At Calero, anglers are doing well on crappie by the launch ramp, and also getting some decent-sized bass. At Chesbro, there’s a good reaction bite on bass, especially in the evening, and also some good crappie fishing going on. The bass are up shallow at Coyote, and the crappie bite isn’t all that hot, so anglers are going to Calero or Chesbro for the slabs, and at Uvas, the catfish bite is “really good,” plus there’s a good bite on crappie and catfish using anchovies and chicken livers, and some bass to 3 pounds.

Striper fishing in the Sacramento River peaked last week in the Knights Landing to Colusa section for anglers drifting minnows, trolling Yo-Zuris and casting swimbaits. The fish have been all over the map size-wise, with the average fish running 16 to 24 inches. The river has been extremely crowded of late and guide Dion Stigall said on Saturday he saw about 80 boats in the parking lot at Knights Landing — and a similar amount at Tisdale. With water temperatures pushing 70 degrees, the striper spawn is about done and the fish will be evacuating the river soon and heading back towards the bay.

Upriver, trout fishing in the Redding area of the Sacramento River has been good. According to guide Jeff Goodwin, the flows have been running 9,750 cfs and he and his clients have been seeing 20 to 30 trout on average, with some days providing even better action. The rainbows have been averaging 16 to 18 inches, with fair numbers of fish over 20 inches and even the occasional 25 incher. Goodwin noted that he and his guides have been side drifting roe and pegged beads on spinning gear from their power boats.

Discovery Park in the Sacramento Metro area has been jam packed with people lately, according to guide Blair Dixson, who has only been fun fishing with family and not running trips. Shad anglers have been catching good numbers of fish on shad darts from the mouth of the American down to Scribbner’s Bend. Striper anglers have mostly been soaking sardines on the anchor at Ski Beach, Minnow Hole and the Freeport Bridge.

Low flows also were the norm last week on the American River, where guide Bob Sparre has done some scouting of late. He said that there are a few stripers around and the shad haven’t really gotten thick yet.

The Feather River continued to be too low for safe boating so the bulk of the fishing here took place at Verona, where anglers anchored up at the confluence and soaked sardines for mostly schoolie stripers and fished mini jigs and darts in green and pink for shad. Anglers walking into Shanghai Rapids below Yuba City started to see shad numbers picking up, according to the folks at Johnson’s Bait & Tackle in Yuba City. There are probably some shad also in the Yuba River, but flows remain very low and difficult to navigate for even the smallest of jet boats.

There was a decent trout bite at Lake Shasta last week, where trollers found some nice browns to 7 pounds. According to guide Jeff Goodwin, there have been some chunky rainbows in the mix as well. Most of the fish have been coming 15 to 50 feet below the surface on small flutter spoons. Spotted bass fishing was good too for anglers drop-shotting small Robo Worms in 12 to 25 feet of water.

Folsom Lake remained closed to everything but walk-in traffic last week so not much fishing took place, aside from some shore casting for bass by locals. The same held true for Lake Oroville, where anglers have been anxiously waiting to get back on the spotted bass and salmon bites that were going well before the closures.

Bullards Bar Reservoir remained one of the open spots in the region and anglers flocked there last weekend. Guide Brett Brady of Bare Bones Guide Service fished the lake on Saturday and caught around 40 kokanee to 14 inches while dragging pink mini hoochies behind RB Tackle dodgers. The fish were holding in 50 feet of water, he said, near the buoy line and Willow Creek. The only place to launch is at the marina as the USFS Dark Day access remains closed, according to their website.

Collins Lake re-opened on a limited basis on May 4, in accordance with Yuba-Sutter Public Health Officer’s updated Order. Check out their website for all of the safety guidelines.

Wind hampered fishing efforts on Lake Tahoe last week, but there were still some nice fish to be caught. Guides JD Richey and Mike Neilsen both got out on their own boats for some fun fishing and found browns and a few rainbows still lingering on the surface. The fish ranged to 7 pounds and were taken on Rapalas along the east and west shores. “I’ve been working the shallows early in the day,” said Richey. “Once the sun comes up, the surface bite dies off pretty quickly — unless you have some clouds or wind.” The mackinaw have been a bit funky of late. One day they’re ravenous and then the next they seem to be on a diet. They have been holding on the breaks and shelves from 80 to 180 feet down. Lake Tahoe’s boat ramps remain closed, with June 1 as a potential opening. The situation is very fluid so things seem to be changing almost daily.

Rumor has it Donner Lake’s boat ramp is open — or will at least open soon — but WON couldn’t confirm it last weekend. Some trout have been taken off the shore at Lake Davis and Frenchman Lake by anglers tossing Kastmasters and soaking nightcrawlers, but it’s also unclear if launching is available there.

Pyramid Lake remains closed to all activities (fishing, boating, camping, etc.) and the Paiute Tribe has not yet set a date for the re-opening. Keep an eye on www.pyramidlake.us for updates. The season normally closes to fishing at the end of June.

According to the USFS website, the public boat ramp and dam day use areas remain closed at Caples Lake, but there was no word on the ramp at the resort.

Boca Lake near Truckee remains very low but it has been producing some decent fishing for browns for anglers working bait like eggs or worms near the dam and the inlet. WON took a troll here midweek and found a decent pick at 14-inch browns on Rapalas near the surface. Stampede Reservoir is also open and good schools of kokanee are already being seen near the dam, from 15 to 46 feet down. Between the two reservoirs, the Little Truckee River has been running quite high and that’s forcing anglers to fish the soft water edges and pocket water behind rocks — anywhere really that the current speed is broken up. WON staffer JD Richey took a look around midweek and saw several fly anglers, but very little catching going on.

A quick call to Placer County Water Agency confirmed that the ramp is still closed at Hell Hole Reservoir, but French Meadows is open and fishable.

The stream trout opener in Sierra, Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties was pushed back to June 1 by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Health officials in those counties were concerned that their small communities would get inundated with thousands of trout seekers from big cities for the opener, so the decision was made to postpone the season a month.

WON Editor, Bill Karr, tried to go up Mormon Emigrant Trail and got to Alder Creek Road turnoff, and had to turn back. He noted that there is still plenty of snow up in that country. “I also tried to go up Wrights Lake Road off Highway 50,” he said. “I got to the top, but it was closed by snowdrifts there and had to come back down.”

In the Crystal Lakes Basin, facilities and launch ramps are closed but anglers can still fish the lakes by hiking to them and fishing from shore. According to Kyle Neesler of Crystal Basin Tackle, there are signs posted at the Ice House Boat Ramp that it is closed to public use until further notice. He said it’s the same at Union Valley Reservoir and Loon Lake. “The guy I get my Forest Service permit from told me that the ramps at all the lakes are closed and so are the parking lots,” said Neesler. Sly Park Lake is also a no-go, he said. “From what I’m hearing, it won’t open until the state parks do.” Karr said there were almost 100 cars parked on Mormon Emigrant Road by those using Sly Park (Jenkinson Lake). Regardless of the “closures,” anglers can still fish any of those lakes.

Up north, it’s all quiet on the Klamath River, where no fishing for springers will be allowed until July 1 — and that all depends on whether or not the reservation will be open to non-tribal members. The upper Trinity River is producing a few browns, according to guide Steve Huber, but most of the steelhead have now flushed out of the system. Next on the agenda up here is salmon fishing, which probably won’t get started until July at least.

In the Motherlode, Lake Don Pedro opened to boating again on Saturday, and the launch ramps were packed with visitors from throughout northern California, leading to a long wait to both put your boat in and take it out. The restrictions from Tuolumne County state that boating is limited to household members, but enforcement appeared to be lacking.

With Don Pedro closed for six weeks, both bass and trout fishing were outstanding. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Bass fishing was incredible on the opener as there is a good topwater bite at first light and when the wind is blowing with shad imitation lures. There is a shad spawn, and a variety of lures are working such as weightless Zoom Flukes and glide baits.

Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Fishing launched out of Blue Oaks on Sunday to test out Trinidad Tackle’s Popeyed Spoons, and he said, “Trout fishing was off the hook at Don Pedro, and I caught and released at least 25 rainbows running small-profile spoons from 35 to 100 feet. My last rainbow came at 102 feet and I was marking what I thought were king salmon down there, but I was very surprised when the trout came up. I didn’t make much shad, but I really wasn’t looking for the shad schools. I just went to my spot and dropped in the gear. However, getting out of the lake was a challenge, as it took over an hour to get to the launch ramp to load my boat from all the people coming and going.”

Lake McClure is now open for shore fishing and boating for residents of Mariposa County, along with the eastern Merced County communities of Merced, Atwater, Winton, Cressey, Le Grand, Planada, Livingston, and Snelling. Also included are residents within 10 miles of the lake, Coulterville and La Grange. Open recreation areas include Lake McSwain and McClure Point and Barrett Cove on Lake McClure. A state-issued identification is necessary to verify residence.

Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing, who is a resident of Atwater, was on McClure on Saturday, and he said, “They are checking identification at the gate, and once we got on the water, the bite was wide open. I wasn’t trying for numbers, as I was throwing the River2Sea Rover or SWaver 168, but I caught and released over 40 bass. The bite is wide open, and you can catch them on anything, including 8- to 10-inch worms, plastics on a darthead, tubes, or underspins. We were just using big baits, and between the two of us, we must have had over 80 bass. A lot of this is because the lake hasn’t been touched for 6 weeks.”

Regular Mother Lode bass angler Matt Frazier of Denair fished McClure and said, “We only gave our lakes a month break, and it just goes to show how much pressure affects the fishing. We absolutely smashed them on Saturday, and it could have possibly been the best day of fishing I have ever experienced. They were right where they were supposed to be, doing exactly what they were supposed to do, as we legitimately caught and released over 200 bass using GMoney jigs.” A trout plant was released into the lake prior to Monday’s shoreline reopener.

McSwain Reservoir is now open for limited shore fishing for residents of Mariposa County along with the eastern Merced County communities of Merced, Atwater, Winton, Cressey, Le Grand, Planada, Livingston, and Snelling. Also included are residents within 10 miles of the lake, Coulterville and La Grange. Open recreation areas include Lake McSwain and McClure Point and Barrett Cove on Lake McClure. A trout plant of 500 pounds spurred on action from the shorelines during Monday’s re-opener for those soaking Power Eggs, Power Bait, or nightcrawlers along with tossing Kastmasters from the shorelines at the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, or the peninsula near the marina. For complete information about access, please visit https://bit.ly/2VJCXh3 and LakeMcClure.com.

Down in Central California above Fresno, no boats are allowed on Shaver Lake, but Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Those willing to hike from Highway 168 to the lake are finding excellent shore fishing. Jack Benigno and his fishing buddy, Amy Maciel, moved down to fish Shaver after a successful trip to Huntington last week. The Visalia couple were on the lake by 7:00 a.m. and had their limits of trout to 3.5 pounds by 11:00 a.m. on trout dough bait. Then, on three occasions this past week, Bob Kubo and Brian Lawless of Fresno, caught and released 25 to 50 nice rainbows each trip, with Kubo using a fly and Lawless a Kastmaster. Their biggest fish was 3.5 pounds, but most were the 1.5 pounders that were planted by the DFW two weeks before.

The Shaver Lake stores are totally equipped with tackle and bait and fishing license. Due to the City of Fresno expanding the stay at home order to May 31, Dick Nichols’s annual Shaver Lake fishing seminar at Turner’s Outdoorsman has been canceled for the first time in 12 years. Nichols is scheduled to open with his first charter trip June 4 if the lake opens, and the state allows fishing guides to resume charter trips. Shaver Lake is expected to maintain a near maximum water level by July.

Over at Bass Lake near Oakhurst, Paul Kalpakoff of Central Sierra Fishing said, “On Friday, I took out my wife Pat along with Lynn and Carol Streit on separate boats for kokanee. We hit the lake at around 9:00 a.m. and worked around the Sheriff’s Tower until around 2:00 p.m. The Streits caught and released several trout along with 2 kokanee at 10 and 14 inches. My wife and I only landed two kokanee with the largest at 14.5 inches and 1.5 pounds. It was a male and shaped like a football and came on a PPK Tomahawk spinner in chartreuse while the other kokanee came on a green PPK Tomahawk with pink maggots. All of the trout and kokanee were taken at 15 to 20 feet running 1.3 to 1.5 mph. Two other boats on the lake had only landed three trout between them. The parking lot at the Wishon Ramp was nearly full at 9:00 a.m. and completely full when we returned at 2:00 p.m. The dock is in, but the restrooms are closed.”

The road to Wishon Lake has opened, and Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service went to the lake with Byron Stickler of Fresno to target rainbow and brown trout. George said, “It was a slow, but decent bite as we flatlined with an assortment of lures at depths from 10 to 14 feet for a total of 17 trout. The largest rainbow was 15 inches and the brown was 15 inches. The shorelines were packed, and I witnessed a few shore anglers picking up trout on dough bait. This was my first brown in 30 years, as I haven’t been targeting them, since I primarily focus on striped bass these days.”

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