Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a central San Joaquin Valley native and local fishing expert.
Monterey rockfish and crab counts are good, Sonny Arcaleo said. New Melones rainbows are providing solid action, Monte Smith said. McSwain trout are hitting, Stephanie Powell said. Millerton bass bite has improved greatly, Merritt Gilbert said. McClure bass are cooperating, Jay Graham said. Pine Flat trout are on the rebound, Patrick Movey said.
In the world of bass fishing there have been few real game-changers over the past few decades in the world of bass fishing. Going back, lures like the first Rapalas, black rubber worms, the spinnerbait, swimbaits and the Senko are examples of how a new lure or idea can change the way we fish — as well as how we think about fishing. Well, just like those, there is a huge new set-up sensation — called the “Alabama rig” — sweeping the country that may change the landscape of the fishing world as we know it very quickly.
Based on the effective striped bass fishing tool of trolling a large umbrella wire rig to present multiple lures as a single swimming-bait ball school, some enterprising backyard lure designers put together a much smaller but castable-sized umbrella rig about 7 inches long that can hold several lures.
The first prototype rigs are made of a one-fourth-ounce-plus plastic or lead head that has five wires about 6 inches long coming out the back of the head. Each wire end is looped and attached to a swivel that’s hooked to a one-fourth-ounce lead-headed jig tipped with a plastic swimbait. The individual wires can be bent into different configurations to keep the baits in position — one that looks like a draped umbrella with five wires hanging from the head with lures attached. The rig isn’t easy to toss, but once it’s in the water the five baits look like they are all swimming together as a school. Being able to cast toward shore or into structure makes the school look like it’s trying to stay safe to cover-triggering strikes.
This concept was first put to the test about three months ago during a bass tournament back East by pro Paul Elias. After a poor start with conventional baits, he finally decided to try the seemingly outlandish outfit, started landing fish like crazy and ended up winning the contest with a huge weight. This set off a firestorm among anglers to get one of these new setups - turning the world of bass fishing upside down!
These rigs have several advantages. First, most fish are used to feeding on bait balls and this outfit gives them a presentation that looks like a tightly schooled bunch of minnows swimming in unison for protection. Since most fish are not used to seeing a school of baits, this also gives the angler a new look that plays to the fishes’ instincts to ambush a bait ball. This technique has also been especially effective in getting tough-to-entice suspending bass to bite. Lastly, it’s possible to catch multiple fish on a single cast, but the majority of anglers are saying they are usually getting one fish — but the size is larger! Maybe the set-up looks like a Big Mac meal to the oversized fish. There is an incredible demand for these rigs — but supply is still lagging far behind so getting one can be tough. Many are generally priced in the mid-$20s range and pre-ordering is rampant.
A caution: In each state, there are different laws concerning how many baits/bodies and hooks you can have on any kind of umbrella rig. In California, my understanding — not official! — is that the regulations say you can only have three bodies on the rig that have hooks in them. The rest of them have to be dummy bodies only. So set-ups from out of state may not be legal here as packaged. The wardens have said they will be especially looking, so be sure your set-up is compliant.
It’s such a simple idea, it’s a wonder no one has done it before. Maybe Santa will bring you an Alabama rig this year!
Roger George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin' in boat
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass *** Crappie ** Catfish ** Trout *** Kokanee *
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported solid trout action for planted rainbows within the top 40 feet of the surface. Smith fast-trolled his heavy spoons at 4 to 6 colors of lead core for a catch and release session on Sunday in the south end of the lake. “I marked a tremendous amount of fish at depths between 20 and 40 feet, so we dropped a line to 25.5 feet on the downrigger and immediately got hit,” Smith said. With the water temperature warmer in the depths, the shad schools are holding far below the surface, attracting the rainbows. Smith added that one angler was trolling large stick baits at depths from 100 to 120 feet, and he was rewarded with several large rainbows in the 2- to 3-pound range. With the number of planted fish in the lake, bank action from the access areas remains solid with Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. Steve Olley landed a 3-pound rainbow on Power Bait this week. Bill Holbrook of Escalon Bait and Tackle said bass limits of healthy, clean fish to 2 pounds have been taken at depths from 50 to 60 feet with 1- to 1.5-ounce spoons or drop-shotting with shad-patterned Robo Worms. He added that a number of anglers are switching over to 4- to 6-pound line, particularly fluorocarbon, which is a bit stiffer and provides more feel in the deeper and warmer water where the fish are holding. Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported good bass action during Saturday’s Western Outdoor News tournament won by Alex Niapas and Garrett Anderson with a five-fish limit of 14.44 pounds with a 4.81-pound largemouth for the big fish, They worked California Reservoir jigs throughout the day. For numbers, Lewis advised using a drop-shot rig fished from 25 to 50 feet with a 40-inch shad-patterned worm over main lake points, humps and islands. She added that swim baits and jigs are working too and will generally produce larger fish. Four- to 5-inch Hula Grub on a half-ounce jig head in natural crawdad colors such as green pumpkin (297), cinnamon with black (176) and watermelon with black (194) also are working. For catfishing, Lewis said the majority of large whiskerfish have come during November, December and January when catfish are in coves and in shallower water. A sliding sinker rig with a ball of crawlers or a piece of anchovy or shad is your best bait. Carl Grogan landed a 9-pound, 2-ounce catfish on a single frozen shad. Crappie and bluegill action is still slow to fair with the best action on small minnows, red worms or mealworms on a slip-float rig at depths from 15 to 25 feet with 4- to 6-pound test. The lake rose slightly to 1,049.82 feet in elevation and 82% capacity.
Call: (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass *** Trout *** Crappie *** Catfish ** Bluegill **
Trout are the top species, but crappie, bass and catfish also are available. The top areas for trout have been the main dam, Piney Point or the French Gulch Marina with garlic Power Bait or night crawlers. Rocky Point has been the hot spot for crappie at depths from 30 to 35 feet around structure with either minijigs or small minnows. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The minijigs have to be worked slow in the colder water.” Small minnows also are working for bass and catfish in the same area with one angler stating that he has a hard time keeping the catfish off while targeting crappie. Cormier said small minnows have been in high demand. Drop-shotting is effective for numbers of bass with top quality taken on jigs or swimbaits on a slow presentation. Catfishing remains decent with frozen shad, sardines or mackerel around the French Gulch and Boulder Gulch areas. The lake remained stable at 2,560.05 feet in elevation and 30% capacity. In the upper river, trout plants have stopped above the Power Plant, but they continue below the plant to the reservoir. The lower river remains good for trout, catfish or bass on live crickets, small crankbaits, salmon eggs or Power Worms. Buena Vista hasn’t been planted with trout for the past two weeks, but a plant may occur this week. Also at Buena Vista, Cormier said crappie fishing has slowed a bit, but it is still decent with small minnows. Some anglers are using dip nets for shad and flylining the shad for catfish, while live minnows also are working. The local impoundments of Truxton, Woollomes, Ming, Hart Park and the Park at River Walk are scheduled for trout plants once again this week, but heavy angling pressure at the River Walk will limit action within a couple of days of the plants. The other impoundments receive far less pressure. Power Bait in a variety of colors or night crawlers are effective.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay Striper ** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie *
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle fished the main lake at the end of last week in demanding weather conditions, but they managed to land a number of striper to 11 pounds with the best action in Portuguese Cove. After launching from Dinosaur Point, they ran to the small coves inside of Portuguese Cove. Clements tossed a Repo Man top-water lure in the clear white color known as “Blow Up” while Paul Jolley tossed out a Lucky Craft 78 in ghost minnow. Every time Clements would get hit, Jolley followed up with the smaller rip bait for a better cut of fish with the two largest at 8 and 11 pounds. They also dropped jumbo minnows on the bait schools once the top-water action was over. Clements added that another angler was spooning with 1.75-ounce white Duh! spoons in the coves near Dinosaur Point at depths to 80 feet for linesides to 12 pounds. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We continue to sell from six to 10 Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in chartreuse shad or ghost minnow per day for the big lake with a few Storm swimbaits and white ice flukes.” In the Forebay, Clements touted the action around Check 12 or the Twin Islands when the water is high with top-water lures or trolling with large plugs such as broken backed Rebels, P-Line Predators or Yozuris. Anglers either are looking for bait balls on the meter or following the diving birds. The main lake remains at nearly 90% capacity.
Important note: EFFECTIVE OCT. 1, VESSEL INSPECTIONS FOR QUAGGA AND ZEBRA MUSSELS TO BEGIN AT SAN LUIS RESERVOIR SRA. All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo a mandatory inspection. These invasive species threaten recreational opportunities, the water delivery infrastructure of California and the aquatic habitat of San Luis Reservoir SRA. Failure to allow inspection of any watercraft will result in the refusal to launch.
Call: Ly’s Fishing Goods (408) 629-9644; Coyote Bait and Tackle (408)
Bass ** Trout ** Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie *
Eastman has been producing steady bass action with drop-shotting, Brush Hogs or jigs worked at depths from 30 to 50 feet at the dam end of the lake. Anglers are averaging from seven to eight fish per rod with an occasional bass to 2.5 pounds. Last week’s trout plant has spurred action with Power Bait or Kastmasters from the Day Use area. The area of the lake extending upstream along the Chowchilla River is still closed beyond the Buoy Line. The lake dropped 2 feet to 556.29 feet in elevation and 67% capacity.
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Hensley is showing signs of life with Merritt Gilbert reporting bass have been taken on either jigs or drop-shotting with a dead-stick presentation around submerged timber for a far better grade of fish to 5 pounds. Anglers have been picking up from seven to eight fish per rod, and most of the fish are over 13 inches. Planter trout can be found near the Swimming Area with Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. No catfish reports. The lake rose slightly to 490.49 vertical feet and 32% capacity.
Call: 225-1838; 292-3474; 673-5151
Trout ***Stephanie Powell at the McSwain Marina reported fewer fishermen have frequented the lake in the past week, but limits of rainbows have been taken on Power Bait in red, orange or garlic around the Marina to the Brush Pile. Trolling action slowed down a bit with most fishermen targeting the normal locations from the Floating Restrooms to Gilligan’s Island. Blade/crawler combinations, Wedding Rings tipped with a piece of crawler behind a dodger or silver/blue Kastmasters are your best options. Trout plants have ceased for a few weeks, but they are expected to resume in mid-January.
Call: (209) 378-2534
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs Striper ** Catfish **
The best striped bass action remains in the south aqueduct with Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield stating blood worms, sand worms, sardines or frozen shad are working for striper, the majority of which are undersized. A few legal fish can be scratched out of the aqueduct, particularly when the water is flowing. With the hot striper bite at San Luis, local striper fishermen continue to bypass the canals and aqueducts to fish the main lake or the Forebay. The cold temperatures haven’t helped to create comfortable conditions for bank fishermen, either.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass *** Striper ** Shad * Trout ***
Merritt Gilbert reported a vastly improved bass bite with hardly any “dinks” being caught, as the majority of fish are coming in over 13 inches. He was aware of at least one 5-pounder, several 4-pounders and a number of 3-pounders in the past week while drop-shotting or dart-heading either dark- or shad-patterned plastics at depths of 25 to 30 feet in the main lake. Striper action is slow with few fishermen targeting the lake in exchange for better action at San Luis Reservoir. The lake rose 4 feet to 533.03 feet in elevation and 63% capacity, and the launch ramp is on the Second Ramp. The San Joaquin River continues to receive weekly trout plants, and bank action continues with Power Bait, gold Kastmasters and Thomas Buoyants. There has been more interest in Woodward Park in Fresno with trout plants once again scheduled this week with the Regional Sports Complex also planted. Both locations are providing good action for children with Power Bait.
Call: 225-1838; 292-3474
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass ** Trout *** King salmon ** Catfish **
Trout action has picked up with planters dominating catches with the best action at depths from 10 to 15 feet above Trimmer. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse advised using either Gulp! Minnows behind a dodger or Speedy Shiners for the planters. Merritt Gilbert said most king salmon fishermen have given up for the year with the plethora of small 8- to 10-inch fish in the lake, but there was one salmon over 5 pounds taken at 125 feet. Bass fishing is limited to small fish with limits in the 6- to 7.5-pound range. A 7-plus-pound weight won Saturday’s Sierra Bass Club tournament. Plastics on the drop-shot, dart-head or split-shot at depths from 20 to 50 feet are the most consistent techniques. The lake rose a half foot to 863.01 feet in elevation and 55% capacity. Trout plants continue on the lower Kings, and Power Bait and spinners are working for the planted fish. Trout plants are scheduled on the lower Kings and the next two weeks at Avocado Lake.
Call: 787-2387; 225-1838; 292-3474
Bass ** Crappie ** Trout ** Catfish **
The lake dropped drastically in the past week, and bass fishing has slowed in response to the unstable water. Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club reported a slowdown with small fish being the rule. Overall, he rated the lake as hit or miss for bass. Last week’s trout plant has improved the trout action around the First and Second launch ramps with Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters on sunny days. A few catfish are found on jumbo minnows or cut anchovies. The lake dropped 9 feet to 589.50 feet in elevation and 8%.
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish **
The US Army Corps of Engineers reported slower fishing action in the past week due to the cold temperatures creating uncomfortable conditions. The lake was planted with trout last Thursday, and trout fishermen are beginning to work the shorelines on the Rocky Hill side of the lake with Power Bait or night crawlers. The bass have dropped in the water column, and drop-shot plastics, spoons or jigs at depths to 35 feet are working best. The Tule Point south and Rocky Hill launch ramps are still open, but the best access remains at Rocky Hill. The lake rose a half foot to 599.29 feet in elevation and 15% capacity.
Bass *** Trout *** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie *** Catfish ***
The Fresno Bass Club held a tournament on the lake on Sunday, and member Jay Graham said, “Swim baits worked well early in the morning for the guys on fish, and some guys threw them all day and came up with one or two small fish.” There were a total of nine limits out of the 15 boats with the most consistent action by drop-shotting or other plastic techniques. Terry Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling said live crawdads and minnows continue to produce limits of bass near McClure Point and in Barretts Cove. A 6.25-pound spotted bass was taken on a rainbow trout-patterned swimbait within the past week. Bill Holbrook of Escalon Bait said the bass also are holding in the warmer waters of the Narrows. Crappie fishing is picking up with A-1 selling out of small minnows by the end of the weekend with another shipment due in this week. Catfish also have been hitting the crawdads or medium minnows at depths to 30 feet in the Horseshoe, the mouth of Cottonwood Creek, and also near the dam. Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a dodger, blade/crawler combinations, or spoons are working for the planted fish. Shore trout fishing remains good with night crawlers or rainbow glitter Power Bait in response to the heavy trout plants in the past weeks. A 3.25-pound rainbow was landed in the river east of the Hornitos Bridge on a broken-backed Rebel. The lake dropped slightly to 807.73 feet and 65% capacity.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Lake Don Pedro
Bass ** Trout *** Kokanee * King salmon **
The lake is loaded with planter rainbows, and Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing had a great trip Friday for a catch and release session with two rods for 30 rainbows. Of the total, three of the fish were in the 16- to 17-inch range. The small planters were very willing to bite the fast-trolled spoons ran at 3 mph at depths of 10 to 12 feet deep with 4 to 6 colors of lead core. Smith said, “This is an excellent time to take a child trolling since the action is constant for the planted fish.” Manny Basi of the Bait Barn continued to tout the bank action from the launch ramp areas of Fleming Meadows or Blue Oaks with rainbow glitter Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. Bass fishing has slowed with the fish dropping in the water column to find warmer water. Small fish can be taken by drop-shotting with the occasional larger fish found on 8-inch Huddleston swimbaits in rainbow trout or brown jigs with either a green pumpkin or California 420 trailer at depths from 35 to 50 feet.
Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Bass ** Trout ** Kokanee *
The cold, muddy and murky water has been a deterrent for bank fishermen; and with low water levels, launching a boat is impossible. Fishing should improve with the addition of more planters in the coming months. The lake dropped to 37% capacity.There are two scheduled quarry blasts this week: the first was at 3:30
p.m.Tuesday, the second will be at 12:15p.m. Thursday. A blasting schedule should be updated every Friday and is available at cranevalleydam.com/blasting-schedule.
Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake Kokanee * Trout *** Smallmouth *
Huntington Lake continues to kick out limits of rainbows from the banks, as Jack Benigno of Visalia put in a limit to 20 inches on a mid-week trip. Benigno said, “These fish have a distinct coloring that seems to be a different strain of trout as they resemble a cutthroat.” The mouth of Deer Creek with orange, green or yellow Power Bait Nuggets has been the hot area. Merritt Gilbert said the launch ramp at Huntington is now out of the water, and only small aluminum boats dragged to the water’s edge are able to be put into the lake. These craft are most likely brown trout hunters pulling large plugs next to structure. Shaver Lake is currently a misnomer; as the lake is no longer there, but visitors can be rewarded with a spectacular view by way of binoculars of the old dam, saw mill, the old Shaver Pier and a steamboat that has been under water for nearly 100 years. Dick Nichols, president of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project, said, “Donations for the trophy trout project continue to arrive, and all monies will be used to increase the total of 2013’s trophy size trout plant to over 3,000 big guys.” Anyone interested in this project can send a donation to the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project at PO Box 908, Shaver Lake, CA, 93664. A letter of appreciation with SLTTP’s non- profit tax number will be returned to the donor. Huntington dropped slightly to 70% capacity with Shaver Lake at 0%.
Call: Dick’s Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Young’s Sporting Goods 841-8271, 841-2522, 841-2740
The gate to Courtright has been closed, and access to Wishon on McKinley Grove Road should soon follow suit.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool The gate at Kaiser Pass is now closed until spring. All of the lakes remain high for this time of year with Edison at 80%, Florence at 58%, Mammoth Pool at 39% and Redinger dropping to 73%.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut ** Striper ** Rockfish **** Leopard shark ** Sturgeon **
Rockfish/crab combination trips continue to produce limits, and the crab counts should hold up throughout the remainder of the rockfish season which ends Dec. 31. Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker fished along the coast on Saturday and Sunday for limits of rockfish and crab. They were tied up early Saturday with 25 quick limits of crab and rockfish, but Sunday’s action was slower for crab as they had to pull a number of pots for 20 limits. Out of Emeryville Sport Fishing, the New Seeker went to the Farallons on Sunday for 30 limits of rockfish and crab while the Captain Hook ran a rockfish/ling cod trip with 22 limits of rockfish before focusing upon ling cod for over a ling per rod. The New Seeker and New Huck Finn went to the Farallons on Saturday for a combined 61 limits of rockfish and crab plus a pair of ling cod to 7 pounds. Emeryville is running crab/rockfish trips throughout the week with the exception of Christmas Day. Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “There hasn’t been much going on, but the fun starts on Tuesday with the beginning of a series of minus tides down to 1.5 feet,” adding, “If you want a sturgeon under the Christmas Tree, now is the time to go.” He is optimistic for obtaining mud shrimp for the peak tides, as his supplier will have an additional hour of low tide to work the grounds in the northwest. There continues to be tremendous demand for mud shrimp, as well as for live Dungeness crab at the shop. Fraser added that the cold water has slowed down the striper action with the frosty mornings.
Half Moon Bay
Rockfish **** Crab ***
Rockfish/Dungeness crab combination trips continue to produce limits of both species with the commercial pressure starting to put a dent in the crab counts. Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete went to the Farallons on Saturday and Sunday, and the results were much better Sunday with 27 easy limits of rockfish, including a couple of hitchhiking ling cod, although no one was specifically targeting the lings. Baxter switched things up Sunday, going to the Islands first instead of pulling the crab pots, and they were rewarded with big olives and heavy sacks of rockfish. Crab limits continue to be the rule, although more pots are necessary to produce limits. Captain Guy Anthony on the New Gravy took a rockfish/ling cod trip Saturday in beautiful weather conditions for limits of big rockfish, including vermilions, olives, blues, coppers and several lings in addition to crab limits. Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat took a combination trip south to San Gregorio on Sunday for 17 limits of rockfish to go with crab limits. He said, “The crab are getting more and more scarce, but we still are managing to pull up limits for all customers.” Up north in Pacifica, crab action on the pier remains steady with snatchers loaded with mackerel or squid. A few perch continue to be caught, but striper action is slow.
Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Huck Finn Sport Fishing Center (650)
726-7133, Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148
Rockfish **** Crab ****
Sonny Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported continued limits of rockfish and crab with the crab counts holding up very well. They stayed local for 19 limits of rockfish with eight to 10 lings on Saturday and Sunday while The Star of Monterey went to Carmel Bay on a rockfish-only trip Saturday for more limits. He said, “The ocean conditions were gorgeous,” and they will be running combination trips every day through Christmas Eve. There are some small 4-inch squid in the area, but the squid are too small to jig up. Arcoleo said, “We could really find some great ling cod action if we were able to jig up live squid.”
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Luis Obispo
Rock cod ****
There are only a few days remaining in the rockfish season with the closure scheduled for Dec. 31. Out of Morro Bay, Virg’s Landing reported this week that 139 passengers caught 64 ling cod to 12 pounds, 516 red rockcod, 682 assorted rockcod, 98 copper rockfish, 16 cabezon, 72 bolina, two whitefish and one sheephead. Top local anglers were Mildred Notick of Fowler and Josh Payne of Clovis with ling cod at 8 and 7 pounds. Virg’s is running another shallow water jackpot open charter on Dec. 30 for $100 per angler with $31 to be placed in the jackpot. Call Dave at Fisherman’s Warehouse (559) 225-1838 or Virg’s Landing for reservations. The Dec. 15 tournament ended with Terry Lamb of Morro Bay taking home $382 for his jackpot 12-pound ling cod. The second prize of $230 went to Dave Castillo of Delano with an 8.5-pound ling caught on a Papa jig with third prize money going to Terry Lamb for a 51-pound total bag for $153. Virg’s is holding Ladies Day every Wednesday for the remainder of the season where ladies fish for only $25. Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis put in 37 limits and 25 ling cod to 14 pounds Saturday, and they followed this up with another 14 limits of rockfish, eight lings to 10 pounds and 59 Dungeness crab on Monday. The big fish was a ling cod at 14 pounds taken by Sean McCombs of Taft. Their ling count for the season is 2,800 with the big ling of the week at 17 pounds. Patriot has resumed its rockfish/crab combination trips, and it is running the combination trips today and Friday. Interested anglers can check the website or call the office for future trips. Patriot’s seventh annual Ling Cod contest runs until Dec. 31, and current leaders are: 1, Guy Leo (26 pounds, 4
ounces; 2, William Chong (19-0) and 3, Brad Hudson (18-12).
Virg’s Landing, (805)772-1222, (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing (805)595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch (805) 595-7214
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass *** White Bass ** Striper ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Bass fishing remains good at Nacimiento, and the high water conditions are credited for the impressive size improvement of the lake’s fish. The potential lake record spotted bass at 7.31 pounds was landed by Bryan Grier on his second cast on a crankbait last week. Drop-shotting shad-patterned plastics, or bouncing brown/purple jigs or spoons over island tops at depths from 20 to 35 feet are working best. There have even been a few large trout taken out of Nacimiento, and this is unheard of. The possibility of trout migrating into the lake from the upper river is an explanation for these rogue trout. Lopez continues to be solid for large fish, and the Alabama rig is getting the credit. Quagga mussel inspections are now required before boat launching is allowed. Nacimiento and San Antonio are holding at 67 and 72%.
Call: (805) 238-1056 ext. 3, (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Bass ** Striper ** Sturgeon *** Catfish **
The fog arrived in the Delta with a vengeance, making for low visibility throughout the early morning hours. Sturgeon fishing has been good for some in upper Suisun Bay, but anglers will have to search around for the fish. John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing made an adjustment to return from San Pablo to Suisun Bay, and he put in four keeper sturgeon to 60 inches Monday to follow up a 55-inch sturgeon, four shaker sturgeon and three striper to 8
pounds on Sunday. They started at the Fleet in 24 feet of water by catching and releasing a 90-inch diamondback, setting the fish free after a 45-minute battle during the height of the outgoing tide. Badger said, “I have been searching for the fish for the past five days as the bite has slowed since the water became cold.” Salmon roe has been the best bait. Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait reported a very good sturgeon bite in a shallow water location in the late afternoon with straight eel, stating, “They are tearing them up right now.” Other than this, it has been pretty quiet on the Benicia front. Lopez advised cutting bullheads to allow for an improved bite in the cold water. The striper are more reluctant to chase live bait in the cold. Benicia has all of the baits. Mark Delnero of Fin Addict Sport Fishing took a group out in the Pittsburg area on Saturday, stating, “It was a bad day to be an 18.25-inch striper.” The action was slow, and they boated two legal striper to 22 inches. Another rod with salmon roe once again sat untouched throughout the day with the exception of a missed bite. He said the water is cold, and it is still loaded with debris. Clyde Wands, shallow-trolling expert, continues to soak bait near Collinsville, and he confirmed Delnero’s report with slow action also on Friday and once again on Monday. Jeff Boyle of Bass Pro Shops in Manteca accompanied Wands on Monday for two striper to 8 pounds on frozen shad. Despite their penchant for trolling, soaking bait will be the order of the day. Mike Pipkins at Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported very good sturgeon action from the banks at Sherman Island along Highway 160 on Saturday with at least six legal sturgeon landed. One group put in three keepers at 65, 63 and 61 inches on ghost/grass shrimp combinations. Broad Slough has been another good location. He added that live jumbo minnows or mudsuckers are working for small legal striper. Allison Shawnego of Hap’s Bait in Rio Vista touted her brined sardines in Pro Cure’s Brine and Bite as a sturgeon was landed on the bait on Sunday.
Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Stan Koenigsberger/Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303, Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030; Jolly Jay’s Guide Service (209) 478-6645
Fresno Bass Club at McClure on Dec. 18: 1, Ralph Encizo, 11.50 pounds; 2, Mike Alvarez, 9.21 (big fish 2.87); 3, Jose Guzman, 8.79
Friday: No Tax Sale at Fisherman’s Warehouse
Jan. 1: Visalia Bass Club at Kaweah, info: Bud Stanley (559) 786-7450; Fresno Bass Club at Millerton; Bakersfield Bass Club at Nacimiento; Tracy Bass Club at Delta/Tracy Oasis
Jan. 7: Western Outdoor News/Kerman Bass Club at Pine Flat; Northern California Bass Federation at McClure; Western Outdoor News/Golden Empire Bass Club at Nacimiento; Western Outdoor News at Delta/Russo's Marina
Jan. 8: Western Outdoor News at Nacimiento; California Bass Federation at Millerton; Kings VIII Bass Club at Pine Flat; Hook, Line, and Sinker at Delta/Russo’s Marina
Jan. 19-22: International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo in Sacramento, info: www.sportsexpos.com
Jan. 28: Sixth annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby at Martinez Marina
Fresno County: Avocado Lake; Fresno Regional Sports Complex pond; Kings River below the Pine Flat Reservoir; San Joaquin River below the Friant Dam; Woodward Park Lake
Kern County: Brite Valley Reservoir; Hart Park Lake; Lake Truxton; Ming Lake; The Park at River Walk lake
Madera County: H. V. Eastman Lake; Hensley Lake
Monterey County: El Estero Park lake
> = peak activity; n = new moon
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