Lost Coast Outfitters Fishing Report 12/14/22
Upper Sacramento: It’s winter, who knew?! Access is tough on upper river just due to snow. If you’re sniffing around the Upper Sac, stay below Conant for less snow and easier parking/walking. Anglers fishing the McCartle area have reported decent catching. Stick to small mayfly nymphs #16-18, Rubber Legs #8-10 and small yellow egg patterns to boot. Nothing unusual to report, fair fishing if you are willing to put in some time. The water is a little lower than normal, but that’s largely due to the cold temps and no snowmelt/rain.
Lower Sacramento: Fishing well, as it often does in winter. Strong BWO hatches and good nymphing, S&M, Psycho May. Small Pheasant Tails #16-18 mayflies, anything olive baetis looking. Attach a bobber, and just add water. While strong hatches don’t always translate to good dry fly fishing on the Lower Sac, it’s certainly possible and it pays to keep an eye out for heads sipping adult mayflies. Releases out of the dam are on the low side for this time of year hover around 3000cfs.
Putah Creek: We are under a voluntary spawning closure right now. It runs December 1 st through March 1 st every year. Yes, the creek is technically open to fish, but please give these wild trout a break and venture elsewhere. If you want to watch some spawning activity, take a walk along the trails next to the creek and look for big fish in pairs or pods over clean gravel in moving water. Super cool and educational.
The Delta: Beautiful conditions post storm. Clean water through much of the Delta, but a fairly tough bite. It’s between season out there, and the fishing is marginal as expected. Water temperatures are below 50 degrees and fish are in their winter pattern. Look for flats where the water will warm a bit through the day. Sometimes it only takes a couple degrees to turn on the bite. 10-20 fish/day for the boat is a good day right now and you need work for them. This isn’t big fish time, but still some decent fish reported, in the 5 pound range. Nothing to get super excited about currently, but well worth fishing on decent weather days. Not much pressure out there either, so if you want to have a pleasant day without any competition winter is where it’s at!
The Bay/Beach: It’s perch time on the Bay Area beaches. In between storms, look for calm days without a big swell. Sinking lines with an array of small brown/tan/orange crab patterns will net you a few of our palm sized native beach dwellers. Stop by the shop and pick up a couple of our custom perch patterns and we’ll line you out on a good stretch of beach to check out.
The East Walker is closed for the season. Opens again on the last Saturday in April.
Upper Owens: Snow and more snow on the upper river. This is good, but makes access tough. The river is accessible by snowmobile, skis or walking in on snow machine tracks. The water and conditions are COLD. However, it’s worth the effort, because trophy trout swim up from Crowley Lake in winter and hang in the river. The drought has affected the river as it enters the lake and made it tough for fish to get up into the river, but the fish want to get out of the lake as it freezes over and they will make it up eventually. The big fish are parked in the deeper pools and cut banks. To find them you need to be systematic and fish each spot thoroughly. They won’t move far to eat a fly. They are lethargic due to cold temps, but just keep casting and you’ll find them. San Juan worm in pink and red is the number one pattern. Eggs, tiny Pheasant Tails and other small mayfly nymphs under a small indicator are the way to go. Be patient, fish hard.
Lower Owens: The lower river, near Bishop, is much warmer and fishing well. Bonus: no snow on the ground. Air temps are in the 50’s and water temps only a little lower. BWO’s are showing in the late morning and the window is short, but if you want to get fish on dry flies in December, this is one of your best opportunities. Fish a #18 parachute BWO, Quigley Cripple or Sparkle Flag on a long leader. Drift the foam lines, the fish are there. On the nymphing side, fish the deeper buckets with #16-20 Pheasant Tails, midges, Hares Ears and other standard nymphs under a bobber or tightline.
Report From Jim Stimson
As expected, the water is low and cold. Anywhere on the California side is hard to access right now just due to snow. Much-needed recent storms have dumped feet of powder on the Tahoe region and most of the locals are skiing. However, if you cruise on down to the NV side, east past Sparks, you’ll find no snow and some decent fishing (remember to buy a Nevada fishing license). The Nature Conservancy section is a good option, with more flow and access. Not much in the dry fly category right now, but streamers and nymphs will put you in the money. If you’re chucking streamers, concentrate on the slower water and pools and throw standard patterns, like black leeches and various Bugger patterns. Nymphing with Zebra Midges and egg patterns under a bobber is the ticket if you want to go that route. Or, do both, and fish all the water. Find yourself a two-footer for Christmas.
Lower Yuba: The last storm blew out Deer Creek, and therefore most of the lower river. Good news is it’s already clearing up and fishable. It will keep dropping and clearing as conditions dry out. Anytime you see a high water event, strap on a Rubberlegs and a worm and throw it under a bobber. That’s a foolproof recipe. You may still see a few salmon spawning and various egg patterns are still in the mix. Mostly the trout are keyed on small baetis and midges, as is standard for winter. Small Pheasant Tails, Zebra Midges, S&M BWO or anything small and olive/brown will take fish. Anglers are catching a few steelhead here and there so stay cool if you set the hook on something substantial that rips some line off your reel. Dry fly action is possible 365 days a year on the Lower Yuba. It’s a little inconsistent right now but if you’re patient and keep your eyes open you’ll find fish sipping BWO’s here and there. Tie on a #18 Parachute Adams on a long leader and make an accurate cast. Streamer fishing produces throughout the winter too. Buggers, Zonkers, soft hackles will all produce, stripped or swung.
Trinity River: Good days and tough days mixed in. When a good rain storm hits and freshens up the water, anglers are getting good numbers of fish, but when it’s cold and dry most folks are only getting a handful of hook-ups a day. Still, 2-4 fish a day doesn’t suck and if you play your calendar right with the water conditions, you can hook triple that number. Still a few spawning salmon around so a glo bug or bead will take fish. Most folks have been fishing smaller nymphs like Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Dark Lord and of course stoneflies like black/brown Rubber Legs. Flows out of the dam are spot on normal for this time of year at 297cfs.
Klamath River: Fishing is fair to good depending on the day and time of day. The upper 30 miles are sporting excellent water conditions, albeit a bit low compared to the long-term median flow. All the recent precipitation has come in the form of snow, so the water clarity is good and stable. Water temps are solid, in the high 40s to low 50s. The bite is kind of tough mid-day just because of cold weather. Both swinging and nymphing are producing fish. If you’re swinging think sink tip and smaller wet flies. If you’re nymphing stick to stoneflies and egg patterns. Fish the water appropriately, meaning, swing the riffles and runs and nymph the seams and pockets. Cover all the holding water you can find and you’ll find fish.
Napa River: Clean water mid 50s temps with good fishing before the before the rain blew it out and muddied up the water. The Napa is often off-color, but if it’s too brown it can be unfishable. As soon as we get a few dry days in a row it will be game on. Watch the tides and don’t get stuck in the mud.