There are many places in and around Davis to do some good anglin' (i.e., catch some fish) and to get equipped.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry it is recommended that pregnant women should not eat fish out of Lake Berryessa or Putah Creek due to high concentrations of mercury.
Nimbus Dam to Sacramento River
Many fish like to hang out in the cold waters below the dam, including lots of trout, making this is a popular place for fly fishing. The dam sits at the western end of Lake Natoma in Sacramento. The area also gets very crowded during salmon runs in the fall. A healthy run of winter steelhead also draw anglers as they make their way to the nimbus dam. Good bait includes flies, spinners, salmon roe and powerbait. There is a fish hatchery there that's open to the public and its a great place to take kids. The hatchery is also the regional headquarters for the Department of Fish and Game.
To get there, take I-80 to hwy 50 in Sacramento. Exit 50 at Hazel and head north. The Hazel crosses the river about a mile later with Lake Natoma on the right and the Nimbus Fish Hatchery on the left.
North, Middle, South Forks
During most of the year, the southern portion of the north fork provides excellent smallmouth fishing. Water temperatures tend to be colder on the southern and middle forks which provide excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing.
Lake Berryessa is a bit more challenging to fish than other spots. There are a number fingers that are inaccessible by foot. During drought years, the water gets pretty low and fishing from the bank can be hot and unprotected from the sun. It is best fished by boat, trawling spinners, otherwise fishing below the dam is much nicer. Besides that, Berryessa is a very pretty lake when the water is high.
Located in the northwest part of Yolo county, Cache Creek once had a sizable Chinook and Steelhead run, but due to mining operations that silted the waters, spawning has ceased and Cache Creek is now mostly a bass fishery. Smallmouths can be found throughout the river with largemouths holding by banks in relatively calm water. Sacramento Pikeminnow are also caught here.
Fishing here is kinda slow and the powerboats can be a little annoying. The reservoir arms generally have good bass fishing. DFG stocks the lake year round with hatchery rainbow trout. Folsom also contains chinook salmon, stocked intermittently when DFG has a surplus of smolts. Trolling is effective out on open water. Shore fishing is much better by the river confluences.
Lower (Old Davis Road/Camp Putah)
The parts of Putah Creek just outside of town are very easy to get to. Fish can be fairly plentiful, though quality and size tend toward the low end. It's a good place to go if you're feeling lazy and just want to catch something. Many people use the Old Davis Road bridge as a starting point, parking just off the road and following footpaths down to the creek. Another option is to park at Camp Putah. These parts of the creek tend to have a lot of tree structure or tule where fish like to hide. The majority of the fish are bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, catfish, Sacramento Pikeminnow and carp. Occasionally, smallmouth bass can be caught out of the lower creek; best spots are just south of Winters. Large night crawlers and chicken liver are excellent baits. Lures are usable, but watch out for snags. Be careful about eating fish though, the creek tends to be somewhat polluted here and eating is not recommended. Watch out for poison oak and ticks.
Upper (Between Winters and Berryessa, Lake Solano)
The upper parts of Putah Creek tend to have clearer, swifter water, though a few areas have slower, sometimes stagnant pools. The fish can be harder to catch than lower parts, but they can be bigger and nicer. Species include bluegill, bass, crappie, catfish and brown trout and rainbow trout. This area is very beautiful and is a nice place if you want to feel more outdoorsy.
Upper Putah Creek is best fished to the west of Winters. Take Covell west (it will turn into Road 32 west of Davis). Follow Road 32 through Winters and continue toward lake Berryessa. Eventually, the road will parallel Putah Creek with various places to pull off. Lake Solano will be one of the first pull offs, and includes a small bait store. Beyond there, for approximately 8 miles, there are a number of different stops, many of which are maintained by the county and are very nice.
The Freeport area is an excellent spot or both bank fishing and fishing from a boat. The river features many types of structures, including tule, docks, bridges, dams and riprap; all great hiding spots for fish. The river can be swift, so watch out for snags and bring extra line. Species include catfish, bass, sturgeon and salmon; all of which can get extremely large. Good baits include large night crawlers, minnows, crayfish, salmon roe, Powerbait, and chicken liver. A net also comes in handy here.
To get there, take I-80 to Sacramento and go south on I-5. Exit I-5 at Florin Rd and turn left. Make a right at Freeport (about a 1/4 mile) and drive south. The town of Freeport is about a mile from Florin Road. There is a drawbridge in the middle of town and both sides of the river are good fishing. If you park off the levee road, make sure you are safely off the asphalt. Its a dangerous road, especially at night.
The Sacramento River flows through the city of Knights Landing, providing bait stores and easy fishing access to the river. A popular place is the marina on the north side of town. It features a dam and riprap structures. Many irrigation sloughs north of town also provide excellent fishing and can be a little quieter. Catfish are by far the most abundant fish in the area, though striped bass and sturgeon swim through as well. Use large night crawlers, minnows or chicken liver. This is a good place to take kids. Its fairly easy to get in and out and you're almost guaranteed to catch something. Parts of the river and many sloughs are polluted, however, so avoid eating anything you catch.
Knights Landing is about 45 minutes north of Davis. The easiest way to get there is from Pole line Road. Pole line turns into Road 102 just north of Davis, continues to Woodland, and then out to Knights Landing. The best spots are just north of town, in the marina or along any of the sloughs.
Fishing Equipment and Bait
Catch and Release
Due to the potential water pollution in Putah Creek, Lake Berryessa and other water sources, a catch and release technique is recommended. This is not only good for the fisherman but it is good for the environment. In many areas catch and release is a regulation enforced to preserve certain species. If a fish is too small or the fisherman has a regulated amount of fish already, they are required to release it. However a fish cannot survive a release in many cases, so there are several recommendations on how to properly use lures (circle hooks instead of J hooks, pinch down the barbs) and how to hold the fish, special nets, how to undo a hook, or when to leave the hook in the fish.
Like most states, California uses fishing regulations to help protect and preserve natural resources and wildlife. People over the age of 16 are generally required to wear a fishing license while fishing. Licenses must be displayed above the waist and clearly visible, (most people wear them on a lanyard or pinned to their shirt or hat), as required in California Code Title 14, § 700. In certain cases, when species or habitat require extra protection, special stamps must be purchased and added to your license, for example, fishing in the delta needs a bay-delta sport fishing stamp.
In addition to licensing, some areas may have limits on the number or size of fish you may catch. Other regulations may bar certain types or hooks, such as treble or barbed. Its a good idea to be familiar with the regulations in your area to avoid tickets and fines. Check a regulation booklet for full requirements.
Regulation booklets are good to keep in a tackle box. These are small, and available for free at most bait shops. They are also downloadable on the California Fish and Game website as a pdf (see links below). Regulations can vary slightly from year to year, so its good to pick up a booklet at the beginning of the year and review the laws around your usual spots. If you are trying out a new location, check your book for any special rules before you go.
Photos (post your catches here)
Catfish .6 lbs, caught 08/17/2011 in Stonegate Lake —MikeyCrews. Largemouth Bass .25 lbs, caught 08/1/2011 in Putah Creek —MikeyCrews. Sacramento Pikeminnow .5 lbs, caught 08/19/2011 in Putah Creek —MikeyCrews.
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2007-09-11 21:47:01 Sweet, this is an awesome and necessary page. Does anyone know spots in Napa or Sonoma? —CarlosOverstreet
2009-03-21 22:43:28 Wait, you have to "wear" a fishing license? It can't be in your wallet? —BrandonBarrette
2009-05-05 15:01:05 Sweet! I think when I first moved here I tried to figure out if there were any fishing spots in Davis. Never checked again, now I know! Thanks James and Jeff and Jabber! —CarrieBishop
2009-05-05 15:06:19 I clearly recall an advisory not to eat fish from Putah Creek. I can't say how old it is, but I still would feel uncomfortable eating anything out of that water. —MasonMurray
2009-05-06 09:26:05 You are probably right. The advisory is there are high levels of mercury. If and when I get gear to go out I will be catching and releasing. For others there are guidelines to ensure the fish survives a catch and release: http://www.catchphotorelease.com/cpr.htm —CarrieBishop
2009-08-11 19:36:15 Brandon: yup, you got to have your creds clearly visible to fish and game. Lanyards are good, but a simple safety pin will keep you legal. —jefftolentino
2010-08-06 17:02 Brandon: The park and games guys have to be able to see your license with binoculars from far away, so they don't have to walk up to you and ask for it. — TrueHatch
2010-10-25 09:39:58 As of April 1, 2010 you do not have to wear your fishing license, only have it with you. I want to float tube this thing after watching Angler West TV with Todd Storm. He puts a youngster on a nice LM dropshotting a senko. Does anyone know what section of the creek he was in? Old Davis Road area perhaps? —DeanMcVey
2011-05-01 17:22:40 Just wanted to update info. Went to Freeport and fished the sac river there only to turn up empty handed. Only thing biting was all the underwater weeds. Got there early and hit the fish with my whole arsenal of bait. Not a single bite. Also gets very crowded by 9a. But that could be just the luck I had that day. However was grateful for the warning about snags posted above. However fished Knights Landing day before that an racked up 11 catfish, and one black bass. None of which were sizeable however it was good fun for a C&R day. —DanielCobian
2011-05-10 01:17:41 Can anyone verify there are crappie in putah creek? I've yet to see one pulled out from putah. —CarlosOverstreet
2011-05-15 12:24:45 Fishing licenses for this year (2011) are different, they don't need to be displayed.
Does anyone ever fish in Lake Spafford for some local C&R? —ImaPseudonym
2011-05-29 19:59:31 A few people I have talked to have. There are claims there are bass and catfish in there, but I've only ever pulled out carp and sunfish. —CarlosOverstreet
2011-06-02 21:34:50 Putah Creek has big bass, big carp, lots of sunfish, and lots of squawfish. I've never caught a catfish or a crappie, but I bet there's a few in there. I definitely wouldn't keep anything.
The arboretum is full of medium-sized carp and some larger ones. Easy fishing, and if you find the right spot, it'll be non-stop action until you get bored. I don't recommend it. Go to Putah Creek for some real fishing. —SamuelK
2011-08-12 18:15:05 Anybody fished at Stonegate Lake? I've seen a fair amount of fish breaking the surface there. Was thinking about spin or fly fishing. I saw some kids catching a mess of catfish but they were bait fishing and I don't like to bait fish unless I'm going to eat it. How about that bridge over putah creek on Pedrick Road, anybody fished there? —MikeyCrews
2011-08-13 10:22:10 Bass and sunfish at pedrick. I haven't fished stonegate but I heard the same from a friend who lived by there. We were gonna try it out sometime but never got around to it. Just try it, and let us know how it goes. Thanks! —CarlosOverstreet
2011-08-17 23:08:51 Fished an hour today with spinners and poppers at Stonegate. Caught one catfish, had several other fish on. Been told there are catfish, carp, bass and sunfish. —MikeyCrews
2011-08-19 15:39:06 Sweet. Thanks for the information! Now if only someone could fish Lake Alhambra... —CarlosOverstreet
2011-08-19 21:33:55 Fished Putah Creek near the Pedrick bridge for about an hour this evening. Caught several small bass and some white fish that I think are called "Sacramento Pikeminnow". Some other guy told me that they are invasive and I should terminate their being upon capture, but I don't know, they sound pretty local. Looked like some vagrants had set up camp under the south part of the bridge. A lot of the access spots to the creek have become grown over and there was a tremendous amount of these massive spiders. I should have taken a picture. Some type of orb spider, but they were the biggest, most abundant orb spiders I've ever seen. —MikeyCrews
2011-08-20 22:00:13 Mikey, Sac Pikeminnow or Squawfish are natives. Most fisherman along the creek use them as bait. They are fun on light tackle, especially the ones over a foot. I think your bass is a largemouth because of the ventral stripe. —CarlosOverstreet
2011-09-02 13:12:12 Anyone have advice on where to take a 4-year old fishing? We tried Putah Creek but the banks are pretty overgrown (as well as the aforementioned abundance of spiders!) A pond or very slow moving stream would be ideal. —ScottSchiller
2011-09-02 16:40:19 Out at Lake Solano, there is a handicap access pond with Bluegill in it. It's past the parking lot in the county park. It's paved most the way around, and there are fishing piers. I believe at one point it was stocked with bass or catfish. Should be a nice place to introduce your child to fishing. Best! —CarlosOverstreet
2011-09-05 13:46:55 Been going down to Putah Creek near Old Davis Road and the fish seem to be really small this year. It's fun for catch and release running 2Ib with a worm on a bobber, but nothing serious. —JamesThomas9883
2011-11-19 14:10:39 Went fishing this morning around 930am by Old Davis Rd and caught 3 small large mouth bass. There were a school of them. Had a few other nibbles and loss one when reeling in. —yrthr
2012-01-30 00:22:00 I fished all along cache creek from Rumsey to it's confluence with wolf creek. Nothing. I was hoping to find at the very least some smallmouth or squawfish. Anyone else had luck on this stretch? —CarlosOverstreet
2012-01-30 09:10:07 Any advice on fishing spots in there area with a reasonable chance of catching some dinner? My fishing experience is limited to Boy Scout Camp in the mid-'90s, but a couple of fisherman friends recently moved to the area and have been wanting to go. We'll have access to a small boat some of the time, but will probably do at least as much shore fishing. Given my inexperience, we probably won't start with fly fishing. —TomGarberson
2012-01-31 01:12:48 It doesn't take much skill to catch little bass or whitefish in Putah creek on spinners. But you probably don't want to eat those. There's a few months during the year where you can catch salmon and steelhead on the Sac, American or Feather but that requires some combination of luck, patience and skill. There's coho salmon and rainbow trout in Berryessa which might represent the best local catachbility to edibility ratio, but I haven't fished it much. If you don't mind driving an hour or so up to crystal basin (just past Placerville) there's pretty awesome fishing, boating, camping etc. (and SMUD keeps the road open year round). —Users/MonkeyCrews
2012-03-23 18:21:52 I take back what I said about it being easy to catch fish on Putah Creek. Last three times I've been down there the only thing I've caught are ticks and poison oak. I did see some baby River Otterss beneath the railroad bridge though. —MikeyCrews
2012-03-28 00:33:20 Anybody know anything about safety concerns with eating cray fish from local streams and ponds? I have a trap and the irrigation/flood canal by my house is full of them. That said, I would never eat a regular fish out of one of the local irrigation canals per fears of fungicides, insecticides, or other ag contaminants. However, I remember hearing something from tv or school about how crayfish are a signal of a healthy waterway since they can't survive much contamination. Anyone? —MikeyCrews
I know some people do in Sacramento county and seemed healthy. I'm not sure if it's comparable waterways, however. -jw
2012-04-02 14:43:05 A Couple of things, First off, thanks for all of this great info! I love fishing and this site really helps a lot for yolo county fishing holes. That being said
1. Where is cache creek fishable? I tried before where 113 crosses over CC and I didn't get any bites or chases or anything. Plus it's really dirty down there. talked to some kids and they told me that you can catch trout in yolo. Talked to some other folks and they said all the fish in CC had a lot of mercury in them.
2. Where can you catch Largemouths in putah creek?
Almost anywhere I think. I've never caught anything very big, but I've seen Bass from the bridge on Pedrick down to the Old Davis Road Bridge.
3. The DFG Website says you can't keep any trut from Lake Solano/ Putah creek. Can you keep them if you catch them when putah hits Winters/ Davis??
From what I've seen/heard there aren't any trout down stream from Lake Solano. -MikeyCrews
4. Tom Garbson - the only place i have been able to catch fish in Yolo County has been the borrowing ponds off of river Road by the sac river in West Sacramento. Other than that a lot of the fishing spots are crowded. that's just my experience.
5. We should start some sort of a Yolo County Fishing message board or facebook group... would anybody here be interested? —JLOPEZ
2012-04-29 17:42:33 I would probably steer clear of eating anything an irrigation canal Mikey. Just to be on the safe side.
I was told by several folks that Cache creek in capay valley can have some pretty good pockets where smallmouth and squawfish hang out. DFG has not stocked Cache creek in ages. It no longer supports a trout fishery due to gravel degradation.
You are correct about the regulations, Upper Putah Creek from the Solano Diversion Dam to Lake Berryessa is considered a Wild Trout Water. C&R restrictions apply. —CarlosOverstreet