Updated - 3/23/20
Current River Conditions : Flows are 393 CFS
(scroll down for real time flows)
Fishing Report - fair: Unable to get a first hand report this week because our usual sources have disapeared for the time being, or taking advantage of the time off and are on the river fishing. The last time we talked to Scott at King's Sport Center in Guerneville he reported that fishing for Steelhead had slowed due to predation by Seals and Sea Lions at the mouth. My educated guess is that things should be improving due to the recent cooler temperatures and rain.
About the Russian River
The Russian River has suffered as much as any river in the state from the effects of development and water diversions. In 1958 Coyote Valley Dam near the river’s upper reaches near Healdsburg and the Warm Springs Dam, was constructed on Dry Creek creating Lake Sonoma and thereby blocking access by Steelhead and Salmon to their traditional spawning areas. The Warm Springs Hatchery was built at the base of the dam to mitigate the loss of the spawning habitat upstream. Other problems have arose because of diversions for the city of Santa Rosa and the many vineyards that have been established over the last thirty years. Logging in the past also degraded the watershed and very much affected the Coho Salmon run.
During the low flows of the summer months a sandbar forms at the mouth of the river that can keep Steelhead and Salmon from ascending the river, and remains there until an autumn rainstorm with sufficient precipitation arrives to blow it out. If the rains come late, then the Salmon are kept from reaching their spawning beds in October and November, though the Steelhead will just show up later when conditions improve.
Timing your trip to the Russian is very important as it blows out and muddies up quickly after rainstorms and can stay that way for a week or two. This is the time when the Steelhead waste no time entering the river system. If you are a local, and can fish every day, you will notice that on one day the river is barren and the next fish are everywhere. If you can time your trip to be there just after the river clears up, you have a chance at some good Steelhead fishing. It’s best to visit out website before you go, so as to get up to date information.
Generally speaking, finding where the fish are isn’t too difficult, and it only entails driving along the river and checking out the traditional Steelhead holding water such as the tidal basin near the town of Jenner, Freeze Out which is a mile below Casini Ranch Trailor Park near Guernville, downtown Guernville (2 or 3 accesses) and Johnson’s Beach until you see lots (unfortunately) of fishermen standing in the water. Because of private property along the river, the few accesses can get crowded. Don’t hesitate to try some areas that are away from the other fishermen if you can get access. Keep in mind that the Russian’s Steelhead tend to hold in the flat deeper runs and not in riffles.
Another productive section is at the mouth of Dry Creek up near Healdsburg. Hatchery Steelhead tend to stack up there later in the season (February and March) before working their way up the creek to the hatchery at the base of Coyote Dam. The section just downstream from the hatchery can also have lots of fish. You can park in the hatchery parking lot and walk to the river from there.