Trout streams open early, but not for Sonoma

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife introduced new freshwater sport fishing regulations in March that were supposed to “simplify and streamline the laws regulating inland fishing while maintaining and protecting California’s fisheries.”

Simple? Not really.

Traditionally trout season opened on the last Saturday in April, but the DFW announced openings many of the state’s best trout streams ahead of that traditional date. They included Hat Creek, Fall River and the McCloud River. This continues a trend of regulating fishing seasons more selectively. For example, one of my favorite rivers, the upper Sacramento River (above Lake Shasta) has been open to all-year trout fishing for several years now.

What about trout fishing near Sonoma? The short answer is there is none, at least not in Sonoma Valley. The entire Sonoma Creek watershed from Adobe Canyon to all the way down to the Highway 121 is closed to fishing. Below the Hwy. 121 bridge, saltwater angling regulations apply.

The DFW is regularly planting rainbow trout in the East Branch of the Russian River above Lake Mendocino, which makes it one of the closest possible trout fishing streams to Sonoma, but my read of the latest regulations seems to indicate that the East Branch is closed to all fishing all year.

I called the DFW for clarification and spoke to a public information officer, but he wasn’t sure and said he’d have a warden for that area call me. As of press time, the warden had not called.

The other trout stream close to Sonoma is Putah Creek, which flows eastward out of Lake Berryessa. It is open to trout fishing all year, but limited to artificial lures and flies only. I suggest you call Off the Hook Fly Fishing based in Napa, (707) 287-2939 for a guide to show you the best places to fish that water.

Another good trout stream now is the Yuba River off Highway 49 just east of Marysville. Guide Hogan Brown is one of the best guys to show you the ropes there. But he is also usually booked weeks in advance. Check out his website at

My favorite water for a weekend trip is the upper Sacramento River near Dunsmuir. It’s open now and the flows are excellent for trout. Your best contact for that part of the Sac is Bob Grace at the Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir, (530) 235-2969. Bob can also refer you to a Sacramento River guides should you need one.

If you like catching and eating delicious salt water fish, give Capt. Rick Powers at Bodega Bay Sportsfishing a call at 875-3344. Rick is finding lots of great rock and ling cod action for his clients off the Sonoma Coast. He is operating his large party boat, New Sea Angler, at about half capacity with lots of room for anglers to keep their safe social distance. The cost of a full day is $200 and he provides the gear. You’ll bring home far more than the cost of the trip in fresh fish for dinner.

The Golden State Salmon Association is offering a lot of fishing through their online fund-raising auction right now, including spaces on charter boats for salmon trips, including a spot on an all-women’s salmon trip. The big auction item is a full charter day for up to 18 people on the Salty Lady for a salmon fishing trip.

You can see these offerings and more at

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