Friday, December 6, 2019

Northern California Fly Fishing Report December 6, 2019

And just like that Winter arrived! Recent winter storms have brought much needed rain and some fresh fish. There are some good opportunities for trout, bass and steelhead right now. We have key Holiday dates for Steelhead close to home on the Feather, trout on the Lower Sacramento Rover and you may want to leave a not so subtle hint about our gift certificates.

We hope this Christmas Season you will have an opportunity to share some time with your loved ones, give back and perhaps even wet a line with those closest to you. 

Have a merry Christmas everyone!

Best Bets: Feather, Trinity amd Klamath - Steelhead, Lower Sacramento River - Trout, Sierra Foothill Lakes - Bass and trout

Lake Almanor - Trout
Rating: Fair to Great depending on weather
Flows: Slowly dropping
Water Temps: 43 - 44 Deg
Clarity:  8 ft

Fishing Report:  This Fall season on Almanor got off to a slow start but the bite is picking up. The key has been been getting out when it isn't blowing like crazy or snowing a bunch. On days between storms the bite has been great. Rainbows have been eating small midges and other insects while the browns have good deep and are eating smelt. Expect fishing to be good in between storms all winter. Although this type of fishing isn't for everyone for those who have plenty of layering and gortex and looking for some big trout Almanor is one of the very best at producing trophy trout.

Guide Tip: Look for shallow sloping shores and stick to small insects.

Best flies: Midges


American River - Steelhead 
Rating: Poor
Flows: 2,500 CFS
Visibility : Mostly clear

Fishing Report: Fishing has been pretty slow so far this season. Some half pounders being caught but the AR is not totally firing yet. This is early for this river anyway. Fish should be moving in with this rain so stay tuned. December is usually good based on rain. Good things are already happening on the Feather and Trinity though so there are other options!

Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U name its, Olive Sculpin.

Striper Flies: Stay Hungry Streamers, Byng's Baitfish, Angel's Chartreuse and White, Angels Delta Danger and Angel's Smolt, Toby's Rainbow Clouser 4/0, Toby's A.R. Rainbow 4/0, American River Special 3/0, Clousers - chartreuse/white, gray/white

Guide Tip: Time to target other rivers and wait till Winter and Spring runs of steelhead return to the river.

Lake Berryessa - Bass

Rating: Fair

Fishing Report: Bass on Berryessa are just starting to get into their Winter mode, which means float and fly zone. We fish a very productive and surprisingly enjoyable technique using suspended fly patterns along structure or drop offs. Things are still a bit slow as of the writing of this but expect things to change shortly. As the water cools the fishing will become more consistent when we get into the end of December/beginning of January.

Guide Tip: have the right bobber! Primary points 

California Delta Striper 
Rating; Fair to Poor
Flows: NA 
Water Temps: 51-53 degrees 
Water Clarity: Color varies depending on the area. You have to search for clean water

Fishing Report: Fishing has been so so on the Delta. It is definitely not red hot. It has been windy and rainy making for some challenging days. Sinking lines have produced best and sometimes a slower retrieve and some pauses needed to get fish to eat. Were finding half a dozen fish right now per trip but are working for them for sure. Most of them are 2 to 4 lb but 5 to 8 lb fish were also caught this week.

Going forward we will continue to fish the Delta however it will be dependent on weather and the casting ability/stamina of the anglers. If you are expecting to hammer striper in warm weather then now is not the time. If you have the ability to cast and are ok fishing for a half dozen fish or better and the weather permits we can get you out.

We had some fun Summer smallmouth fishing this season. It wasn't quite as good on the top water poppers as we have come to expect in recent years but still many willing top water fish caught and even more on the streamer or "popper dropper" technique. With the cold temps the smallmouth thing is a wrap. We are booking next Summer's trips so look to fish mid June through early September. 

Foothill Bass Lakes, Lake Oroville Englebright etc. - Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass etc.
Rating: Fair
Temps: 67 to 71 degrees
Clarity: Clear

Fishing Report: To be quite honest we don't really have a current report from the Sierra Foothill lakes as we have been focussing on other fisheries. Fall can be hit or miss on many of these impoundments and thus the hiatus. We had a couple good days a few weeks back and plan to get out there soon. We have been busy guiding the myriad of other waters currently fishing well but stay tuned. The float n fly that we employ on these waters is a great tune up for the Lower Sacramento, Feather and Trinity trout and Steelhead fishing as it requires quick reaction times and good arc on ones rod to keep fish hooked up. For now fish at your own risk or stay tuned for an updated report in the coming weeks. 

Bass Flies: Leaches, Woolly Buggers, dark rabbit bass flies.

Trout Flies: Bellyache minnow, olive or black leaches, buggers, small clousers or bunny patterns.

Guide Tip: Search and move. For trout look for the areas where streams enter the lake. There may be some big bows or browns lurking. 

Russian River Steelhead
Rating: Poor
Flows: 600 cfs Guernville and dropping
Clarity: Good
Water temp: 68 to 71

Fishing Report: Recent storms spiked the flows on the Russian to 3,000 cfs back on Dec 2nd. The River is dropping and is currently at around 600 cfs. There are a few fish in the system but murky water would make locating them with flies very difficult. Steelhead fishing on the Russian is a late Winter early Spring affair so no need to panic. They will come. The Russian blows out first and clears up last of our California Coastal steelhead rivers. Stay tuned as all the water in the last two years should give us a good return. Fingers crossed and stay tuned! FYI there were several nice adult fish caught this week on some of our other North Coast rivers. Let us know if you want to get out and swing for unicorns. We believe in miracles and have some great photos and memories to back them up. 

If you would like to get on our first come first call list for when conditions are ideal give us a ring at (707)287-2939. Once things are about to jump off we'll give folks on the list a ring. 

San Francisco Bay - Striper 
Rating: Poor?
Flows: N/A
Clarity: Fair to terrible
Water temp: 52 to 64

Fishing Report: We honestly have not been out since Winter storms hit just over a week ago. Water is murky and cold right now and the truth is we have steelhead on the brain. December and January can provide some striper fishing opportunities on the Bay but this definitely not peak season. We will be getting out soon between trips on the North Coast so stay tuned and if you simply must go give us a ring.

Striper flies: Clouer style 1/0 or 2/0 offerings in white/chart, Olive/white, Black/Chart

Fall River  
Rating: Closed
Flows: Not Applicable 
Water Temps: Cold

Fishing Report: The Fall River closed November 15 and will reopen the last Saturday in April. It is one of the largest spring creeks in the United States and a real Northern California gem. To learn more about it or plan your Spring trip click the link below or give us a call at (530)242-4122.

For more on the Fall River click here...

Feather River - Steelhead
Rating: Good to Great
Flows: Low Flow - 790, High Flow 2,980
Clarity: Mostly clear to clear

Fishing Report: 
Steelhead fishing on the Feather has been strong this Fall and seems to be continuing going forward. It is nice to have such a productive fishery this close to Sacramento and the Bay Area. Indicator nymphing by far being the best producer however not the only way to catch fish. The egg bite is still going well with a good amount of salmon spawning in the river still. According one of the guys that counts the dead salmon in the river the other day; they have already counted over 30,000 in the feather. Classic red and orange egg/bead colors are working well and some partially dead/lighter colors are working as well. Other than eggs fish have been eating some typical attractors such as red trinity johns size 14, stoneflies with orange beadheads, size 12 prince nymph with a hotspot, size 14 olive/tan birds nests and also a variety of small baetis.

The fishing has slowed just a little bit with the drop in temperature but is often remedied when there is fresh rainfall. We are having some of our biggest Feather fish of the year be caught lately and it should continue to stay that way. Fishing should continue to stay good until the river blows out sometime in the late Winter or early Spring like it did last year. We still have a ton of key dates open on the Feather so if this is your thing give us a ring.(707)287-2939!

Guide Tip : If your favorite spot is crowded, don’t sleep on nearby side channels

Nymphs: Caddis, small mayflies such as BWO's and EGGS!!!  Red X May, Amberwing Prince, Dark Lords - 12-16, Hogans S&M and Mercers Micro May in 14 to 18 (black and olive producing best) Red Copper Johns 16 - 18, Hare's Ears and Birds Nests both beaded and non. 14 -16.

Hat Creek - Trout
Rating: Closed
Flows: 150 CFS 
Clarity: Clear

Report: Hat Creek closed November 15 and will re-open the last Saturday in April. This storied catch and release fishery is one of our favorites. To learn more about it or plan your Spring or Summer trip check out the link below or give us a call at (707)287-2939.

Klamath River - Steelhead
Report: Great
Flows: 1,200 to 1,300 fluctuating daily
Water temps:  High 50's
Clarity - Slight tinge of color.

Fishing Report: Things are poppin on the Klamath. There are good numbers of half pounders and some adult fish being caught on the swing as well as via nymphing under indicators. There are quite a few fish all the way up to Iron Canyon but look for the first real rain to bring the larger adult fish into the system. It has already been a good year on the Klamath. It is time to get up there and get in on the action.

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U Name Its, Olive Sculpin.

Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs and Micro Spawn ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine) 

McCloud River Trout : Closed

Report:The McCloud River is a perennial yearly favorite which closed on November 15th. It will re-open the last Saturday in April. Until then we will dream of warm weather and prolific hatches. We had another epic season on the "Mac" that ended this Fall with a bang. If you would like to schedule a trip to remember click the link below or call us at (707)287-2939. There is a memorable brown or rainbow out there waiting for an encounter.

Napa River - Striper
Rating: Fair
Clarity: Chocolate
Temps: 49

Fishing Report:  Fish are definitely in the system... now if we could just get the right weather for things to clear and we be able to hit them around Christmas. We will just have to wait and see. This Fall saw tons of bait come into the river and as a result the fishing was good earlier and may continue longer than in years past. Thank you to all our guest who fished the Napa River with us this year. Looking forward to what 2020 has in store.

Guide Tip: Try 1/0-3/0 baitfish imitations in grey/white or chartreuse/white, Olive/white.  T-11 or T-14 lines to get your bugs down. Try a long slow retrieve with long pauses. 

For more on the Napa River click here... 

Pit River - Trout
Rating: Good
Clarity: 1 to 2 ft
Temps: Mid to high 50's
Flows: Fluctuating from around 1,000 to 2,000 cfs daily

Fishing Report: The Pit continues to pump out good fishing and nice fish for those willing to put the effort into getting on this Nor Cal gem. Flows are fluctuating daily so be aware of that but are ideal for productive fishing. Nymphing the myriad of pockets and runs on the Pit with Rubberlegs, Amber Wing Princes and Dark Lords are the top producers. Remember to wade carefully and take advantage of the great late season and awesome scenery in Northern California. Remember now that Winter is upon us to bring chains, extra fuel, food, clothing and winter camping gear even if you aren't planning to spend the night. You never know when you might be glad you came prepared.

If you are interested in good numbers of fish away from the crowds and in truly wild country, then consider hiring one of our guides to take you to out. We still have great Winter dates available and the Pit will fish well all year long. Call us to get in on the fun(707)287-2939. The Pit remains open after the general trout season closes November 15, so keep this great fishery in mind this winter. 

Putah Creek
Rating: Closure
Flows: Too low!
Water Temp: 

Fishing Report:  What a great season it was on Putah Creek this year. We fell in love with this wonderful creek in the late 80's and a couple of our guides cut their teeth early on in their careers on this fantastic fishery learning the hard way about how to have success here. It is with a humble heart that I say confidently that no one has put more hours in collectively on Putah than our guides and the likes of Greg Bonovich, John Barry and Toby Uppinghouse. As of December 1st we are again leading out in the voluntary closure and kindly ask that you do the right thing and leave this fish alone to spawn. Putah is a California Heritage Trout fishery with wild trout. It will never be stalked with feeble stocked fish. If you like catching the big wild fish the rest of the year then please leave them alone so they can work on creating the creeks future residents. Off the Hook turns down scores of trips at this time because we would rather have great fishing in the future than make a few bucks(or a lot of them) in the short run. Thanks very much for your help.

Pyramid Lake - Cutthroat trout
Rating: Good to Great!
Flows: NA
Clarity: Prime

Fishing Report: On Pyramid Lake the nastier the weather the better the fishing generally. Let's just stay that the weather was nasty last week. ; ) The annual transition of fish from deeper water into the shallows is going down right now. Fish that have grown fat gorging on Tui Chub are cruising the ledges all around the lake. November saw some real bruisers caught and some truly memorable trips. The big Pilot Peak fish tend to like slightly colder water than Summit Lake strain and this is part of the reason that Winter and early Spring fish are often so large. Water temps are prime at the shoreline to keep schools of fish in close for longer periods of time. Since Pyramid lacks normal structure that most lakes provide, fish rely heavily on ledges as their structure. Additionally these areas are productive as a good portion of the lakes biomass will be in shallower sunlit water. When temps provide comfortable conditions they will usually come in to feed. Currently they still have Tui Chub on the brain so fishin something that has movement and some size will oft increase your grabs. On calm blue bird days it may be necessary to cover different parts of the water column. A whole host of little things can add up to make a successful still water angler. The are too many pieces of the puzzle to count however successful still water anglers often have quite a few pieces put together to crack the seemingly ever changing codes of lake fishing. One of those pieces is knowing when to fish what technique. Currently in the mornings the strip bite and indicator bite are just about even. Beaches with access to deeper water or steep drops will likely hold a few more fish. Stripping sinking lines such as the Air Flow 40+ sink rate 5 or 7 has been putting some nice big fish in the net. Beeles or boobies in tandem with your favorite buggers or streamers in white, black or olive have produces best. fishing balanced leeches in the same colors below a midge or nymph along ledges has paid off too. Expect both techniques to continue to work well as temps drop and fish come in to shallower water. 
Some of the largest Pilot Peak strain will cruise this world class lake in December, January and into the early Spring like great whites. If you are into big fish that Pyramid Lake is one of the best places on earth to tangle with 10 to 20+ lb trout. November and December are two of the best month to tangle with the very largest that this lake and Planet Earth for that matter has to offer. Call today to make some real holiday wishes come true. 

Lower Sacramento - Trout
Rating: Great!
Flows: 4,500 CFS from Keswick
Clarity: Prime

Fishing Report: The Sac continues to fish well despite colder temps a little more color to the river. There are still some Fall salmon around wrapping up the spawn so egg's should still be in the mix. Some really quality fish being caught of late. As far as bugs go... smaller size 18 X Mays, and other mayfly nymphs, caddis in 14 to 16 to go with the eggs. Gone are the crowds so guests are often having the river to themselves especially on the lower floats down towards Red Bluff. The lower reaches are producing some steelhead along with trout making for some good action.

We have quite a bit of availability for the Sac still so give us a ring to set up a trip for you on this phenomenal fishery! (707)287-2939.

For more on the Lower Sac click here...

Upper Sacramento - Trout
Rating: Good 
Flows: 600 CFS
Clarity: Prime

Fishing Report: Recent rains stained the Upper Sac and the flows came up to 300 to around 600 cfs as of this report. Water is clear enough to fish though so don't shy away form this Winter sleeper. Gone are the October Caddis and were back to small dark winter bugs. Small Baetis and midges are traditional and yearly produces as we head into December. 
Best flies: BWO nymphs, Zebra Midges, Princes, Micro Mays, P.T.'s and other small attractor nymphs.

Truckee River 
Rating: Fair to Good
Flows:  cfs 110 in Truckee, 40 CFS at Boca
Clarity: Good
Temps: Cold (high 40's)

Fishing Report:  Fishing is still pretty good on the Truckee. Temps are cold in the morning but warming slightly throughout the day. Snow and cold temps have moved fish into their winter holding water. Fish are all throughout the system all the way down into Nevada.There is plenty of ability to cross the river right now so access is not a problem. As far as bugs go small midges, Baetis are the best bets.

On the Little Truckee midges and small baetis are also the ticket and BWO's are hatching on cloudy days.  Expect good fishing from now all the way until the water gets down right cold at the end of November.  

Nymphs: Small Midges and Baetis. Specific patterns include Golden Stones 10 to 14, San Juan worms, 16 or 18 Ju Ju Baetis, Hogan's Military May and S&M in 16 to 18 and size 10, Dirty Birds, GB Prince Nymphs and regular and GB Birds Nests 12 - 16.

Dries:  Extended body BWO 18-22, Adam's Parachute 16 to 20, Christian's GT Adult 18-20, Missing Link 14 - 18, Quiggly's Hackle Stacker 14 - 16, CDC Thorax 14 - 18, BWO Parachutes -18, PMD Hackle Stacker -16.

Guide tip: Fish the slower holding water that is flowing no faster than you can comfortably walk. (1 to 2 mph max.)

Trinity River Steelhead, Fair to Good
Flows: 300 cfs (Lewiston)
Clarity: Good

Fishing Report:  Fishing has ben so-so on the Trinity until recently when rain brought a few more fish in. Current guide trips are netting from 1 to 5 adults per day. More fish are coming into the system and with more rain in the forecast it is go time!!! Temps have been cold in morning and takes have been light so anglers will want to set on everything. 

The Trinity river remains one of the top rivers on the West Coast to catch Steelhead on a fly rod. Steelheading is never easy however this great piece of water is one of the most reliable year in and year out. Currently fishing is fair to good but about to go off! 

Remember to plan and dress for the weather. Having a warm sleeping bag in your vehicle along with chains, a shovel, extra food, and winter clothing is a must. Always be prepared for the worst and more likely than not you wont need it. However if you are unprepared you may regret it.

We still have key dates open so if you want to chase some chrome in the next few days give us a shout!
Steelhead Nymphs: Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10, Princes 14 -16, Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Micro Mays 14 to 18,  and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U name its, Olive Sculpin.

Yosemite - Closed

ReportYosemite is now closed to fishing until April 25th, 2020. Another high water year made for some great fishing although we were forced to start later than normal. This Fall sure did make up for it though. Snow reached the valley floor again this week and the scenery is beautiful. If you haven't experienced Christmas in Yosemite we highly recommend it. Nice to cozy up to a fire place with the important people in our lives or catch up on some tying.

Yuba River - Trout 
Report: Fair
Flows: Average 1,850 cfs below Englebright
Temps: 56 - 57
Clairty: Clear

Fishing Report: The Yuba is still fishing well despite a little color last week. It usually clears up fairly quickly as long as the rain isn't too heavy. There are quite a few salmon finishing up their spawn, so fish are chowing on eggs as well as bugs. Indicator rigs are producing best, but there has been a little bit of dry fly action on cloudy days as long as the wind hasn't put the fish down.

Some 16 to 24" central valley steelhead caught along with plenty of 10 to 16 inchers. This is a great Winter "sleeper" winter fishery as long as rains are not too crazy. Flows are very accessible to wading now so get out and give this one a go.

We had a fantastic Shad and Striper season on the Yuba. We already have quite a few dates reserved for 2020. Perhaps do like many of our guests have done and reserve your dates for next year so you don't miss out. For now though. Its time to chase trout and Steelhead!

Nymphs: BWO's, Caddis, Stones and EGGS!!! Two Bit Hookers, Hogan's 

Thanks for reading the report. If you enjoyed it please don't forget to like and share... If you have any photos or personal reports to share please email them to mike@offthehookflyfishing or call Mike at (707)287-2939.

Merry Christmas everyone!