If you've fished for very long, I'm sure you've had some unusual catches where by sheer chance the fish gets hooked and landed in ways you wouldn't expect. Here are a few that I've encountered.
Back when I was a teenager, I was fishing with bait for stripers at Millerton when I had a great bite, set the hook and reeled the fish in. That's when I saw that my octopus-style single hook was a good 6 inches outside the fish's mouth — perfectly caught in the loop used on pre-snelled hooks. What are the odds? The fish eats my bait, I pull it out of its mouth without hooking the fish, then the hook gets snagged in the little loop inches away from its mouth. Tough to do!
Another time, I was casting a plug when I got a violent strike but I could see the lure in the water right in front of me — and there wasn't a fish on it. Within a few seconds, though, I could see a line snagged on my lure leading to a 25-pound striper about 12 feet behind my lure. After a good 10-minute fight, the problem I had was how to reel up the fish past my lure. I got a good line burn the first time I tried slowly pulling in the big fish hand over hand. I had to resort to finding a stick and winding the line onto it to finally pull him in. After removing the prior angler's bait hook, I let the lucky fish swim away. Guess the fish had made a pass at my lure and missed, but the trailing line got wound around the hooks enough to hold it. Bet that guy probably had a great fish story about the big one he lost — one that took about 30 yards of line, too!
Two years ago, I was downrigging some lures at around 80 feet, far from shore, at San Luis in a tournament when my clip broke free, indicating I had a fish on. Reeling up my line, I saw a line going back in two directions, meaning I had hooked it somewhere in the middle. I pulled one strand of the line in by hand and found I had a decent Loomis rod and a reel — good deal! I started pulling in the rest of the line trailing out behind the boat by hand when I felt something moving on the other end. The unexpected striper now took off and I got a rag to handle the line and work the spunky fish in. Turns out the fish was more than 22 inches. Who knows how long he had been out there on the other end of the line, swimming around since the angler lost his rig a good 600 yards from shore. I let him go — he deserved it — and got the pole and reel!
Sometimes it isn't even fish that's caught by accident. Last year, I was up by Temperance and was quietly fixing a pole when out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a bush right next to the boat! Looking up, I realized the bush was a set of big horns! A big buck was trying to get onto my "island." He almost got tangled up in my big striper poles hanging over the edge before he saw me, snorted and started swimming in the heavy current as hard as he could. I could have reached out and grabbed him by the horns he was so close. Paddling for all he was worth, he kept glancing back at me in terror as he swam away. Poor guy. I thought about grabbing the horns and holding on — for a quick second! However, I decided to let it go, once I remembered it wasn't buck wrestling season!
Sometimes, you just never know what's going to happen on the water.
Roger George is The Bee's fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Delta multispecies bites are raging, Randy Pringle said. Millerton spotted bass are still active, Adam Moore reported. San Luis stripers are hitting, Mickey Clements said. McClure bass action is good, Jason Mello reported. New Melones trout are feeding, Melanie Lewis said.
THE FISHING REPORT
Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by local fishing expert Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin' in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper *** Catfish ** The best striper fishing remains in the south aqueduct with Pete Cormier of Bob's Bait in Bakersfield saying, "We haven't heard many complaints of moss in the canal and the action has been good with blood worms, jumbo or extra-large minnows, anchovies or sardines." Catfish are a good option. Interest in striper in sections of the canals in Fresno, Merced and Kings counties has been slower with the good bite in the O'Neill Forebay. Catfishing with chicken livers, sardines or anchovies continue to be an option.
Bass *** Trout * Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie * Eastman reopened and bass action has been best over rockpiles at 20 to 35 feet. Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun said, "Dragging jigs or Brush Hogs over the rockpiles is effective as is drop-shotting plastic worms. The swimbait bite off the dam is good as there is some moving water near the dam." Catfishing from the banks is fair with sardines, anchovies, chicken livers or mackerel. The lake held at 471 feet in elevation and 9% capacity.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass ** Trout * Crappie * Catfish *** Bluegill ** Hensley reopened, but the launch ramps remain closed due water levels of 5% capacity at 447 feet. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman's Warehouse in Fresno reported a good catfish bite from the banks with chicken livers, mackerel, sardines or anchovies.
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 ** Bass action has been slow, but Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported action with 4.5-inch shad-patterned plastics such as Reaction Innovation's Bad Shad Green, Robo Worms Hologram Shad or Pro Worms Pro Gold. Senkos in natural shad or green pumpkin/purple copper flake are effective. The top-water bite remains slow. Basi said, "Many of our Mother Lode bass fishermen have been heading to the Delta." Live minnows or night crawlers are working from the banks for bass and rainbow trout, and rainbow glitter Power Bait is another good option. Trout trolling is best at 35 to 50 feet with shad imitation spoons in Middle Bay toward Graveyard Bay.
Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn' 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 dropped to 9% capacity at 2,533 feet, but bass fishing continues to be good for those willing to get wet while launching. Pete Cormier of Bob's Bait in Bakersfield said, "The action was slow during the first part of the full moon, but things have rebounded in the past few days." Largemouths to 8 pounds have been reported using spinnerbaits. There have been few catfish reports, but garlic-scented clam meat, anchovies, chicken livers or frozen shad are the top options. Bank fishing is slow with the low levels. In the Kern River system, recent trout plants in the upper river have improved action with salmon eggs or night crawlers. The local lakes are very low, but there are still a few crappie to be had at Buena Vista on small minnows or minijigs.
Call: Bob's Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass ** Crappie ** Trout * Catfish ** The lake reopened, but the bass bite was tough. During Saturday's Visalia Bass Club tournament, Larry Kerns said, "It was a tough bite and we had to throw crankbaits all day long to pick up our third place limit. We searched rockpiles all over the lake." The lake dropped 2 feet to 583 feet and 5%.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass ** Trout *** Catfish ** Crappie ** The lake reopened, but Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Company said, "The bass have had lockjaw with the few fishermen out reporting no luck at all." The lake dropped a half foot to 580 feet and 5%. In the Tule River, Stokke reported excellent action for brown trout in full spawn mode. He said, "You have to put something in the water because the fish aren't rising to the surface for the dry flies." He caught and released 22 browns and a rainbow using nymphs on Monday afternoon.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Company 539-5626; Lake Success 784-0215
Bass *** Trout ** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish *** Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling reported good bass action with 6-inch plastic worms at 35 to 40 feet with the Robo Worm's Warmouth or Hologram Shad being effective. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn reported a good top-water bite with the River2Sea Whopper Plopper or PopRs in the morning or evening. Catfishing has been excellent with anglers landing up to 20, reporting the fish are loaded with crawdads. A-1 has live crawdads. Trout fishing has slowed, but bank fishermen are scoring with rainbow glitter Power Bait or live crawlers under a bobber. The lake dropped 3 feet to 706 feet and 27%.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Trout *** McSwain Marina reported trout plants on Oct. 16 and 18 by the Department of Fish and Wildlife prior to the Merced Irrigation District's annual employee picnic. With the influx of fish, bank fishing has been good from the Handicapped Docks and the Brush Pile with white garlic-scented Power Eggs, garlic Power Bait or night crawlers. A few boats continue to troll, and the chartreuse PPK Tomahawk Spinners remain a top choice.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass *** Striper * Shad * Bluegill ** Trout ** Millerton remains the best bass option in the Fresno area, and Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun reported a good top-water and reaction bite in the morning and evening, but the most consistent technique is dragging jigs, spooning or drop-shot plastics on the bottom. Moore added, "On any given day, anglers can put together a 7- to 10-pound limit." Striped bass catches remain nil. The lake closes at 6 p.m., pretty much shutting off the evening bite. Bluegill are found on red worms on a split-shot worked in brush above Finegold. The river is very low above Finegold and the lake dropped 3 feet to 524 feet and 56% due to releases out of Huntington. Boats must fill a Quagga mussel self-inspection to launch. In the lower San Joaquin, trout plants continue and the majority of action for rainbow trout is around Broken Bridge. 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 two hatchery steelhead are allowed in possession. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip. All wild steelhead or trout with an adipose fin must be released immediately.
Call: Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass ** Crappie ** Catfish *** Trout ** Kokanee * Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported good action as rainbow trout are moving into the shallows. Trolling at 25 to 35 feet with downriggers or diving planes with shad-imitation lures such as Needlefish, ExCels, Kastmasters or Speedy Shiners are working and the key is to locate the balls of shad. In the early morning, fish are feeding on the surface and top-lining a Rapala F5 or J5 is working. Bank fishermen are finding fish closer to the shoreline. Small Kastmasters in chrome, chrome/blue or chrome/prism are working on clear days while gold or firetiger are effective on overcast days. Kokanee moved upriver. Catfishing remains very good in the shallows. Night crawlers, chicken livers, shad or anchovies are top baits. Bass fishing has been slow. The fish are spread out throughout water columns and keying on shad schools. Lewis added, "The tough part is there is generally a short window of opportunity where they will be feeding." Shad-patterned grubs on a quarter-ounce darthead, vertically jigging spoons or California Reservoir jigs are effective. Crappie and bluegill action is slow, but small Kastmasters or Beetle Spins are working next to standing timber. New Melones dropped to 948 feet and 43%. Tulloch dropped 2 feet to 502 feet and 85%.
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 reopened, and Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun said, "We haven't heard much, but trout trollers are finding a few fish at 20 to 35 feet with chartreuse Wedding Rings, Apex lures or Cop Car Needlefish in the main lake." When windy, Moore advised trolling higher in the water column. For bass, small fish are the rule and Moore advised finding the temperature break and working back toward deep water. The lake rose nearly a foot to 741 feet and 16%. In the lower Kings, trout plants continue. 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.
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 * Action remains good in the O'Neill Forebay for striper busting the surface from 6 a.m. until around 11 a.m. Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun reported top-water lures or rip baits are working for linesides in the 18-inch to 8-pound range while Mickey Clements of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis touted Zara Spooks, white flukes, hair raisers or Lucky Craft Pointer 68s, 78s and 100s or Pointer Staycees in Ghost Minnow, Chartreuse Shad or American Shad. He said, "Anglers knowledgeable with these lures are catching and releasing up to 50 fish while less experienced anglers can expect to hook five to 10 striper." A boat is essential for the 50 fish days. In the main lake, Clements reported a decent trolling bite near the Trash Racks or the rockwall cove along 152 with P-Line Predators, Smithwicks or broken backed Rebels. Drifting jumbo minnows is a good option in the same areas. Roger George of Roger's Guide Service says the good bite fell off drastically with the full moon Saturday. He said. "The great bite from just a few days before fell flat with no pumping and the full moon. We worked hard for 15 good fish in the big lake, but most guys I talked to reported only a few fish and a tough bite in hot calm conditions on minnows or trolling. We tried the Forebay early, but saw no action with lots of boats. It should rebound some after the full moon." With San Luis at 24% capacity, most boats are launching at Basalt Recreational Area with the ramp at Dinosaur Point remaining via a dirt road.
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; Roger George's Guide Service (559) 905-2954
Bass ** Trout ** Kokanee ** Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun reported a better cut of bass came at 30 to 50 feet with Johnny C's California Reservoir Jigs. Dragging jigs along the bottom has been the top technique, but drop-shotting or Senkos are producing a smaller grade while there is a reaction bite on windy days. Trout fishing is improving with surface temperatures cooling. Kokanee are scarce as they are well on their way to spawn. Check www.BassLakeFishing.com or www.BassLakeCA.com. The lake dropped to 59%.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748; Bass Lake Water Sports 642-3200
Brown trout ** Trout ** At Edison, Adam Moore of Valley Rod and Gun went for his annual camping trip over the weekend and reported only two large groups. They soaked Power Bait off the right side of the dam for a few quality rainbows, including a large fish that subsequently broke off. Edison held at 4%, Florence held at 8% and Mammoth Pool rose slightly to 7%.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee ** Trout ** Smallmouth ** The great weather conditions have contributed to good action for spawning kokanee. The triangle from the northwest side of the Island to Road 2 to the Point and back has produced the most fish and Nichols has been trying some spawning locations, but they have not been as effective as the triangle. He said, "Downriggers at 30 feet and side poles at 20 feet are the top techniques. We continue to use Trout Busters tipped with corn behind a Mini-Mountain flasher on the downriggers, but Captain Jack's pink Super Hootchie has been effective." Bank fishing continues to be slow with the lack of trout plants. An occasional holdover trout or smaller grade of trophy trout will hit a night crawler or Power Bait near the dam or Road 1 or 2 areas. The marinas are open, but boaters should call for availability as both will be shutting down for winter. At Huntington, the pace of the drawdown has slowed and it's at 38% capacity. Check www.sierramarinawebcam.com for conditions. Shaver held at 60%.
Call: Dick's Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740
Trout ** At Wishon, boaters should call to check on the launch ramp. Trout trollers are scratching for a few rainbows per rod with blade/crawler combinations at 2 to 4 colors of lead core working best. Shore fishing is fair with orange Power Bait the top attraction. Floating bait off the bottom with light line is essential. At Courtright, increasingly cold temps are limiting the number of fishermen, but trolling is fair with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a crawler at 2 to 4 colors. Long lining Rapalas on the surface far behind the boat is good for a few rainbows. Shore fishing around the dam is fair with Power Bait or night crawlers.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Albacore * Rockfish *** Salmon ** Striper ** Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat spent the weekend getting his crab gear together as the season is two weeks away. Coastal rockfishing remains the top bet with limits the rule. There are a few salmon to be had. Ling cod fishing has been outstanding in the shallows from the Ritz to Pescadero at 60 to 140 feet with live sand dabs, bars or swimbaits.
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 * Squid ** Striper ** White sea bass ** Chris Arcoleo of Chris' Landing in Monterey reported excellent ling cod action. Arcoleo passed on information regarding Humboldt squid showing up near Morro Bay with a trawler coming up with a big load and a shrimp boat pulling pots below Point Sur reporting squid chasing pots in the clear water.
Call: Chris' Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Albacore * Halibut ** Striper *** Rockfish *** Leopard shark *** Salmon ** Sturgeon ** A few boats continue to work the Channel Buoys and Duxbury for salmon, and private boats have been finding a fish or two. Rockfishing remains a sure thing at the Farallons and Marin coast. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported excellent striped bass fishing all over the bay. The occasional halibut is landed from San Pablo Bay, but overall action is slow.
San Luis Obispo
Salmon * Rock cod *** Albacore ** Virg's Landing in Morro Bay reported spectacular rockfish action. Albacore trips are on hold with the warm water break far offshore. There have been reports by commercial fishermen of giant Humboldt squid brought in by trawlers. Virg's ling count is up 39 to 3,073. Patriot Sport Fishing reported its ling cod count at 2,486.
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 *** Catfish ** Sturgeon *** Bluegill *** Striped bass action is outstanding from the Mothball Fleet toward Sacramento, and James Nguyen of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg said, "There are striper everywhere with fresh shad, bullheads or mudsuckers." Sturgeon are coming into the shop everyday on ghost or grass shrimp. Broad Slough has been a hot spot with fresh shad on the anchor as well as in Sherman Lake with bluegill or mudsuckers. RatLTraps or swimbaits are working in Sherman Lake or Big Break. Sturgeon continue to be landed from the River View Pier in downtown Antioch. Alan Fong of the Fisherman's Warehouse went into the north Delta near Liberty Island for red hot striper action for 8- to 12-pounders. They had three triples three times using huge swimbaits in the 7- to 12-inch range, including the Al-E-Baby swimbait, Slammer swimbaits or River2Sea SWavers in bone. They were tossing into very shallow water. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor said, "The transition is coming toward more shad-patterned baits, as shad are bunching up along the shoreline. Once the water cools even more, the larger 4- to 6-inch shad will move into the shallows and the top-water bite will be on." Dan Marshall won the two-day Fresno Bass Club tournament out of B and W Resort on the Mokelumne River by punching the weeds. Viera's Resort near Isleton reported action has been on and off for salmon, and fishermen are transitioning to striper trolling or bait fishing.
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 remains a viable option with good action for spotted bass with crankbaits, RatLTraps or shallow divers on the reaction side in the morning before working the bottom with drop-shot plastics, Senkos or Huli Grubs over the flats and ledges past Oak Shores and in Las Tablas. Nacimiento dropped to 732 feet and 26%. San Antonio dropped 1.5 feet to 657 feet and 5%. With the low pool, there is concern that striped bass will be affected by the low oxygen levels.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina(805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Professional Bass Angler Ish Monroe on Techniques for the River2Sea Tournament, 6 p.m. at Fisherman's Warehouse in Manteca
Fresno Bass Club at Delta/B and W Resort on Oct. 19-20: 1, Dan Marshall, 30.82 pounds (Big Fish, 7.56); 2, Mark Corrente, 17.99; 3, Scott Smith, 17.19
Visalia Bass Club at Kaweah on Oct. 19: 1, Lee Ochoa/Noe Sanchez, 12.25; 2, JR Demacabalin/Josh Housey, 11.42; 3, Larry Kerns/Richard Brock, 9.35
Saturday: Sierra Bass Club at McClure; Strike Zone Bass Club at Don Pedro; Santa Barbara Bass Club at Santa Margarita
Saturday-Sunday: Western Outdoor News at Delta/Russo's Marina
Sunday: 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
Fresno County: Kings River, Below Pine Flat Dam; San Joaquin River, below Friant Dam
Kern County: Hart Park Lake; Kern River, sections 4 & 5; Ming Lake; River Walk Lake; Truxtun Lake; Woollomes Lake
Madera County: San Joaquin River, below Friant Dam
Stanislaus County: Modesto Reservoir; Woodward Reservoir
Tulare County: Kern River, sections 5 & 6
Tuolumne County: Lyons Canal (Columbia Ditch); Moccasin Creek; Powerhouse Stream
Minor Major Minor Major
Wednesday 9:00 2:48 9:24 3:12
Thursday 9:53 3:41 10:17 4:05
Friday 10:44 4:32 11:07 4:55
q Saturday 11:31 5:20 11:54 5:43
Sunday —— 6:05 12:16 6:27
Monday 12:37 6:48 12:59 7:10
Tuesday 1:17 7:28 1:39 7:50
q = quarter moon