I recently had an interesting conversation with a wise older man whom I consider one of the best anglers in the Valley. He's pretty much done it all, successfully, for many years on every species from freshwater to saltwater. So when he talks, I listen — especially when he emphasizes something he feels is critical to fishing success. His pointed advice to me was to pay more attention to the solunar tables than I have in the past to improve my fishing.
I have always thought there must be something to the solunar tables, but none of my buddies seem to take them seriously. So my burning question was, "Why is it so important, in your experience, to know when the major time periods are during the day or night?" His answer was concise.
"You have to realize that fish are very sensitive to water and tidal changes, whether they are in fresh or saltwater environments," he said, before elaborating: Fish can feel the subtle but powerful changes that take place very quickly, triggering a feeding response or a shutdown. Most freshwater anglers discount this, but it's like saltwater fishing, too. Watching the solunar tables and seeing when these major time frames occur can give you a great edge on when you should be fishing. Big fish seem to be especially affected and more sensitive to these major periods, giving you an optimal time to home in on a trophy catch. In addition, watch how major solunar periods can also affect how animals and birds feed — causing everything to seemingly be active at the same time.
Pretty powerful observations, and ones I hadn't thought through fully before. So with this in mind, I started watching the major solunar periods on one of the charts he had recommended and soon had a very interesting experience. I was going fishing at Millerton and decided to stay overnight at Temperance campground. From the tables, I saw there was a key major period hitting at 11 p.m. Would there be a noticeable difference in activity?
Just as it turned 11 p.m., the geese in the area started honking like crazy. Peering out into the darkness, I could see the geese fighting and flopping around all over the place. It was like they had turned on a switch and decided to get active. Looking about, I noticed the cows on the shore were up feeding and walking around all over the hillside. Then, the coyotes kicked in just a hundred yards away at full blast, and suddenly the water erupted with fish jumping out of it all over the place. To top it off, I could hear bobcats fighting and snarling just up the hill and — weirdest of all — turkeys started gobbling all over the hillside. I've never heard turkeys in the middle of the night before. It was the wildest barrage of growling, barking, splashing, fighting and gobbling I've heard after boat camping there for 50 years. The melee went on for an hour and then slowly subsided. I threw out a few casts in the dark but didn't get anything.
As we've all experienced, bites can go into overdrive all over a lake at the same time — and completely turn off at the same moment from one end of a lake to the other. What's happening? Are they all a part of an email group that gets the same message at the same time? Just kidding — I believe that something profound and powerful is at work at a level that we don't register or feel — making us less apt to take it seriously, although most have seen it at work. Well, I'm a believer now. While we still don't understand it fully, a good solunar table just might help you be a better angler.
Roger George is The Bee's fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Delta striper and bass action is very good, Alan Fong said. Millerton is still the best bass bet, Adam Moore said. Don Pedro trout are hitting, Danny Layne said. O'Neil Forebay stripers are on a tear, Mickey Clements said.
Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic- class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
Key: *Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin' in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper ** Catfish ***
Catfishing in local canals is the best thing going with most striper fishermen heading to O'Neill Forebay. In the south aqueduct, small striper are the rule, but an occasional legal fish can be taken on blood worms, jumbo minnows, anchovies, sardines or Gitzits. Catfish can be found with live minnows, chicken livers, anchovies or mackerel.
Bass ** Trout * Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie *
Eastman is closed. The lake held at 472 feet in elevation and 9% capacity with no water releases this week.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass ** Trout *Catfish *** Bluegill ** Crappie *
Hensley is closed temporarily. The lake held at 5% capacity and 447 feet in elevation.
Call: Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass ** Trout *** Crappie ** Kokanee * King salmon ***
Danny Layne of Fish'n Dan's Guide Service reported "Pretty good fall action for holdover rainbows and landlocked king salmon in Middle Bay from Oat Hill back down to Graveyard Bay at depths from 37 to 50 feet with Cop Car Needlefish, Vance's Slim Fin spoons, or rolled shad," adding, "The rainbows are a solid 16-inches while the kings are a chunky 17-inches." Manny Basi at the Bait Barn in Waterford reported continued minimal interest for bass which live minnows or night crawlers under a bobber working best. Drop-shotting with shad-patterned plastics such as Reaction Innovation's Bad Shad Green, Robo Worms Hologram Shad, or Pro Worms Pro Gold are working, and Senkos in natural shad or green pumpkin/purple copper flake are also effective. The topwater bite has slowed over the past few weeks, but the small River2Sea Whopper Plopper is still the best choice.
Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish'n Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Lake Isabella/ Bakersfield area
Bass *** Trout ** Crappie ** Catfish ** Bluegill **
The lake is extremely low, but Bob's Bait in Bakersfield reported good bass action for boaters able to make it out. The launch ramp is available at Red's Marina, but "you will get wet when launching," since there is no dock available. The catfish bite remains solid with garlic-scented clam meat, anchovies, chicken livers, or frozen shad from the banks. The lake dropped to 2533.17 feet in elevation and 10% of capacity with reports that the lake will eventually be lowered to 5% of capacity. In the Kern River system, the water levels are low, but both the upper and lower Kern River have been heavily stocked with trout over the past few weeks. Salmon eggs, night crawlers, or Berkley Mice Tails are the top baits. The local lakes around Bakersfield are limited to bluegill, carp, and the occasional bass with Ming, Hart Park, and Wollomes holding the most water.
Call: Bob's Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass *** Crappie ** Trout * Catfish **
Kaweah is currently closed. The lake dropped to 585 feet and 6% capacity.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass *** Trout * Catfish ** Crappie **
Success is temporarily closed. The lake dropped to 581 feet and 5% capacity.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Company 539-5626, Lake Success 784-0215
Bass ** Trout ** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish **
Catfish action from the banks at Barretts Cove is solid with anchovies or stink baits according to Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling. Bass fishing has been slow from the banks, with Mello reporting only followers to his swimbait on a recent trip. There has been minimal interest over the past weeks, but the best fishing remains with live minnows or night crawlers under a bobber. The topwater bite has slowed, but the River2Sea Whopper Ploppers remain the best surface choice. Drop-shotting with shad-patterned worms or Senkos in natural shad or green pumpkin/copper flake are good options. Trout trollers have been hooking spotted bass at depths to 60 feet. The lake dropped to 709.74 feet in elevation and 28% of capacity.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
McSwain Marina reported good action from the banks at the Handicapped Docks or the Brush Pile with white garlic-scented Power Eggs or chartreuse Power Eggs. The last plant was Oct. 9. Trolling action remains best up the river arm with chartreuse PPK Tomahawk Spinners.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/ San Joaquin River
Bass *** Striper * Shad * Bluegill ** Trout **
Millerton is open and still provides the best action in the area. Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, "A 7- to 8-pound limit is possible, but you have to wade through a lot of small fish." The bottom is the place to be with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot, but once the water warms up in the afternoon, top-water lures and rip baits have been effective. Striper remain on hiatus. Bluegill are found on red worms on a split-shot worked in the brush above Finegold. The river is very low above Finegold and the lake dropped to 527 feet and 58% due to heavy releases out of Huntington Lake. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection before launching. In the lower San Joaquin, trout plants continue and the majority of fishing action for rainbows is around Broken Bridge, especially on weekend. Patience is needed to pick up two-fish limits on Power Bait or night crawlers. The two-fish limit on the river has limited the number of fishermen. There are new regulations on the lower San Joaquin and from Friant Dam to the Highway 140 Bridge: Only two hatchery trout and hatchery steelhead are allowed. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip. All wild steelhead or trout with an adipose fin present must be released immediately.
Call: Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass ** Crappie ** Catfish *** Trout *** Kokanee *
The lake is closed because of the partial government shutdown. Once it reopens, trout fishing should return to No. 1 with shad-patterned lures as the fish move closer to the surface in response to cooling temperatures. New Melones dropped to 948 feet and 43%. Tulloch dropped to 504 feet and 88%.
Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn' Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
Pine Flat/Kings River
Kokanee * Bass ** Trout ** King salmon * Catfish ** Crappie *
The lake is currently closed with the temporary federal shutdown, and it has risen to 740.60 feet in elevation and 16% of capacity. In the lower Kings River, trout plants continue, and with the closures of local lakes, more and more anglers are targeting the planted trout below Pine Flat Dam with Power Bait or spinners such as Joe's Flies or Roostertails in white/black or Grasshopper. There are special regulations in the Kings River above and below Pine Flat Dam. The season is open from the last Saturday in April to November 15th from Pine Flat Dam downstream to U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Bridge on Pine Flat Road with a five-fish limit.
Call: Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Company 539-5626; The I Forgot Store 787-3689
San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay
Striper *** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie *
The O'Neill Forebay continues to provide action for local fishermen with the majority of area lakes closed, and Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported fishermen are picking up stripers to 24-inches tossing white flukes in the morning hours. Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill confirmed the good action, and he said, "The bite is lasting until at least 10 a.m. after starting at first light." White flukes, RatLTraps, Storm 4-inch swimbaits, and P-Line Laser Minnows are all working, and there is a rip bait bite with Lucky Craft 68's, 78's, and 100's or Pointer Staycees in Ghost Minnow, Chartreuse Shad, or American Shad. The stripers are breaking the surface in the early mornings. Also in the Forebay, the banks around Check 12 are becoming crowded once again, and more fishermen are moving over to the shore north of the launch ramp known as North Beach. Shore fishermen are soaking bait, but those tossing lures have to cast far out into the lake. In the main lake, mooching jumbo minnows near the moving water at the Trash Racks or along the old rockwall along Highway 152 is the top technique for stripers to 24inches. Trollers have been few and far between with most boat fishermen using minnows. Most boats are launching at Basalt Recreational Area with the launch ramp at Dinosaur Point remaining via a dirt road. San Luis Reservoir continues to release heavy amounts of water, and it was at 23% of capacity by week's end.
Important note: All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo a mandatory inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels. Failure to allow inspection will result in the refusal to launch.
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711
Bass ** Trout ** Kokanee **
The New J Bass Club moved its tournament to Bass Lake with the closure of Pine Flat, and more bass fishermen are visiting as weather cools. Drop-shotting remains the top technique, but there is a reaction bite when wind is blowing. The docks and natural banks hold the majority of bass. Trout fishing is improving as water cools, and the transition from kokanee to trout is in full swing. A webcam is at www.BassLakeFishing.com or www.BassLakeCA.com. The lake dropped to 63%.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748; Bass Lake Water Sports 642-3200
Edison/Florence/ Mammoth Pool
Brown trout ** Trout **
At Edison, interest has been minimal with the lake at 4%. Florence held at 8% and Mammoth Pool is at 6%.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee ** Trout *** Smallmouth **
Shaver Lake is expected to get a break in the weather with forecasts in the upper 60s to low 70s through the end of the week, and Dick Nichols of Dick's Fishing Charters said, "This should provide a good opportunity to catch some fish and not freeze to death." He concluded his charter trips for the season by averaging from 1.5 to 2 limits of kokanee and rainbow trout in cold and sometimes breezy conditions. Spawning kokanee provided the majority of action on Sunday and Monday for Nichols, and he found these fish by running Trout Busters tipped with shoepeg corn behind a Mountain Flasher at 30 feet on the downriggers. Nichols said, "The rainbow trout action has slowed down, and the number of trophy trout also has fallen off this week." He added, "We finished the season with over 1,000 fish landed, but this was down slightly from last year." The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will be planting about 3,000 trophy trout this winter. All donations can be sent to the SLTTP at P.O. Box 908, Shaver Lake 93664. Bank fishermen report that a few trout per rod are possible in the Road 1 and 2, the Point, and near Dorabella Cove with Power Bait or crawlers. The smallmouth bass bite remains good around the rocks, and one of Nichol's clients landed a 1.5-pound smallie while trolling on a recent trip. The marinas will be shutting down soon but remain open with full service for now. At Huntington, Southern California Edison Co. continues with the rapid drawdown of the lake due to contractual water rights obligations. The lake dropped to 39% of capacity. A few rainbows can be found on Power Bait in Rancheria Cove. Fishermen can check the web cam by clicking onto sierramarinawebcam.com for current conditions. Shaver held at 62% of capacity.
Call: Dick's Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740
Chuck Crane of the Wishon Village RV Park reported trout trollers have to work hard and be patient for rainbows with action on blade/crawler combos at 2 to 4 colors of lead core. Lures have been slow at Wishon. Shore fishing is good at Wishon with orange Power Bait and Crane advised fishermen use a very light line to allow bait to float off the bottom. The best action for trollers and bank fishermen is in the early morning. At Courtright, trolling is fair with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler at 2 to 4 colors, and a few are scoring by long-lining Rapalas on the surface. Shore fishing around the dam is fair with Power Bait or night crawlers. The cold weather at 8,000 feet has limited interest at Courtright. Mike Gill of Fresno scored a 3-by-4 buck deer on Saturday and he took his prize to the RV Park Store for pictures.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Albacore ** Rockfish *** Salmon ** Striper **
Rockfish continue to be the top game in town with party and private boats working the coastline south of the harbor for limits of rockfish and the occasional ling cod. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat said, "A few salmon continue to be taken off the bottom from the Red Can Buoy to the Ritz, and the salmon are a variety of sizes. There are still market-grade squid schools holding off the coast."
Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362; Bait and Switch Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133, (650) 726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148
Rockfish *** Salmon * Striper * White sea bass * Albacore ** Halibut **
Rockfishing is the best thing going and Todd Arcoleo of Chris' Landing in Monterey reported the Caroline went south of Cypress Point toward Point Sur for 20 limits of rockfish and three ling cod. Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz reported a few halibut taken daily from the Lighthouse north to Davenport in 55 to 70 feet of water with drifted squid or herring. Winds are light along the coast, but they are keeping tuna chasers from heading out. Private boaters are talking about heading out for tuna on Monday or Tuesday. Rockfish and ling cod action remains solid along local reefs.
Call: Chris' Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Albacore ** Halibut ** Rockfish *** Leopard shark *** Salmon ** Sturgeon * Striper ***
Salmon fishing was good for some and not so good for others Sunday with private boaters reporting from limits to nada. Rockfishing is the best option. Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported very good striped bass fishing in San Pablo Bay with the "Brothers being loaded with bass." Captain Armand Castagna of the six-pack Imagine has gone to the Brothers three days in a row for limits or near limits. Halibut fishing continues to be hit or miss, but a 15-pounder was brought in from the A-Crane by a troller.
San Luis Obispo
Salmon * Rock cod ***
Albacore trips are on hold with private boats reporting slower action for the long run to the breaks. Rockfishing remains outstanding. Both ports are running a variety of trips.
Call: Virg's Landing, (805) 772-1222, (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing (805) 595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch (805) 595-7214
Bass *** Striper *** Sturgeon ** Catfish ** Bluegill ***
Salmon continue to trickle into the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, and Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported a daily average of eight salmon landed. Striper fishing has been very good, and one fisherman entered in the Rio Vista Bass Derby landed 25 striper on large live bullheads over the three-day event, including legal fish at 20, 30 and 52 pounds while fishing in shallow water in the back sloughs of Suisun Bay. Sturgeon fishing is picking up, and Ron Reisinger of Chico released an 8-footer. James Nguyen of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg said, "There have been lots of striper coming in." He was aware of a striper over 50 pounds caught on a bullhead. Alan Fong of the Fisherman's Warehouse in Sacramento reported excellent largemouth action in the north Delta with a 29-pound limit taken, including a kicker of 10.79 pounds. The River2Sea Whopper Plopper in bone has been very effective and three-eighths-ounce spinnerbaits also are working. Fong said, "I have been using the lighter spinnerbaits due to the heavy weed growth." Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, "The water is getting cooler and it is almost to the point of switching over to shad-patterned lures instead of bluegill or chartreuse baits, but we aren't quite there yet." He continues to score with the ima Flit in Olive Herring or Misty Shad and the reaction bite with spinnerbaits is effective once the wind is blowing.
Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger, Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030
Lake Nacimiento/ San Antonio/ Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass *** White bass * Striper * Catfish ** Crappie **
Nacimiento, Lopez and Santa Margarita are the only viable options and Will Hesch of Central Coast Bass Fishing reported a good bite for larger spotted bass on the windward side of banks in the main lake. Hesch said, "The wind seems to blow the algae into the point and the bait fish follow the algae followed by the larger spotted bass." Half-ounce spinnerbaits with a double willow blade are effective once wind is blowing. Nacimiento dropped to 734 feet and 27% capacity. San Antonio dropped to 658 feet and 5%, and there is concern striped bass will be affected by low oxygen levels as they're concentrated in one remaining pool.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Kerman Bass Club at Delta/Ladd's Marina in Stockton on Oct. 12: 1, James Horton, 7.89; 2, Larry Marshall, 7.43 (Big Fish, 5.28); 3, Ted Hanson, 7.10
New J Bass Club at Bass Lake on Oct. 12: 1, Kevin Bessey/Sharif Zazsaw, 13.02 (Big Fish, 3.73); 2, Yeng Her/Nick Thao, 8.27; 3, Michael and Anthony Her, 7.99
Thursday: Captain Barry Canevaro of Fish Hookers Sport Fishing on Bait Fishing for Striped Bass, 6 p.m. at Fishermen's Warehouse in Manteca
Oct. 31: Professional Bass Angler Ish Monroe on Techniques for the River2Sea Tournament, 6 p.m. at Fisherman's Warehouse in Manteca
Saturday: Kings River Bass Club at McClure; Visalia Bass Club at Kaweah; Bakersfield Bass Club at Santa Maria
Saturday-Sunday: Fresno Bass Club at the Delta; Stockton Bass Club at Delta/Ladd's Marina; California Bass Contenders/Conejo Valley Bass Club at Lopez
Sunday: Hook, Line and Sinker at Delta/Russo's Marina
Oct. 26: Sierra Bass Club at McClure; Strike Zone Bass Club at Don Pedro; Santa Barbara Bass Club at Santa Margarita
Oct. 26-27: Western Outdoor News at Delta/Russo's Marina
Oct. 27: Tracy Bass Club at Delta/Tracy Oasis; Santa Barbara Bass Club at Santa Margarita
Nov. 2: Kerman Bass Club at Don Pedro; Visalia Bass Club at Pine Flat; Western Outdoor News at Nacimiento
Nov. 3: Fresno Bass Club at Hensley; Hook, Line and Sinker at Delta/Russo's Marina; Modesto Ambassadors at Delta/Russo's Marina
Nov. TBA: Roosevelt High Bass Club at TBA, info: Mike Spencer, 261-5296 or email@example.com
Calaveras County: Tulloch Lake
Fresno County: Kings River, Below Pine Flat Dam
Kern County: Kern River, sections 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5
Madera County: Corrine Lake; Manzanita Lake
Mariposa County: McSwain Reservoir
Stanislaus County: Turlock Reservoir
Tulare County: Kern River, sections 5 & 5; Tule River North Fork, Middle Fork #1; Tule River South Fork, Middle Fork #2 & #3
Tuolumne County: Lyons Canal (Columbia Ditch); Moccasin Creek; Powerhouse Stream; Tulloch Lake
Minor Major Minor Major
Today 3:05 9:17 3:29 9:42
Thursday3:49 10:01 4:14 10:26
> Friday 4:35 10:48 5:00 11:12
f Saturday 5:25 11:37 5:49 ——
f Sunday 6:16 12:04 6:41 12:29
> Monday7:10 12:58 7:35 1:23
> Tuesday8:05 1:53 8:30 2:18
> = peak activity; f = full moon