Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a central San Joaquin Valley native and local fishing expert.
Never miss a local story.
Delta sturgeon action strong, Mark Delnero said. New Melones rainbows hitting, Melanie Lewis reported. Eastman bass bite on the upswing, Mark Inman reported. McClure trout action good, Diana Mello said. San Luis stripers still active, Jason Chin reported. Huntington trout kicking out quick limits, Merritt Gilbert said.
Did you catch as big of a fish as you wanted to this year — or as many? What did you hit right, and what bites did you miss? Now is a good time to review what happened and do some strategic planning, while also ramping up for a new season.Here are a few questions that might be worth pondering:
-- What is your top goal for this season? Is it landing a lunker, getting more consistent about putting better numbers in the boat, or some other benchmark? This question can be critical in determining where and how you fish. The best anglers I know usually are very clear about their outcomes and what they are trying to accomplish. This is their guiding light and mantra, and it drives them to make necessary changes in their fishing habits to reach the goals they have set. It’s a little like professional athletes, who lay out clear visions to help set up the sacrifices and hard work needed to hone their skills. A good goal helps you work harder and smarter each time you wet your line.
-- Are your tools up to speed for what you want to accomplish? Is the rod and reel you’re using the right setup for the season you’re planning? Do you need a new reel, or does it need to be cleaned? Is the line the right size and type, and have you changed it recently? Do you need new assets, such as a downrigger, net, sonar system or trolling motor to expand your abilities as a good angler? I’ve seen many anglers held back because they refuse to invest in, or upgrade, game-changing items. And they don’t have to cost that much.
-- Who are you planning on fishing with this year; who will teach you new techniques and offer other help that can make you a better angler? We all get stuck fishing with the same guys
-- What new technique are you going to learn? Have you drop-shotted, down-rigged or fly-fished? Maybe you’ve always wanted to. I’ve found that adding an entirely new technique to your repertoire can really spice up your fishing and give you a leg up on other anglers. It also brings a new dimension to the way you think about fishing and how you solve problems — ideas you may never have considered before.
-- Are you having fun? I think that hitting the water after deliberately sharpening your axe in anticipation of a new season is about the most productive and exciting thing you can do to improve enjoyment and results. There’s nothing like feeling you’re better prepared and focused than ever while consciously improving your game. Plan for 2012 to be the best yet.
Roger George can be reached at email@example.com
Take your digital camera with you so you can send us your pictures for our galleries. Please send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the following information: Your name, city, type of fish, length and weight of fish, when and where caught, and what type of bait used. Large photos work best – we can crop and reduce a picture, but we can't expand a small picture and make it look decent. You can also send photos to email@example.com.
* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin' in boat
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass ** Crappie * Catfish ** Trout *** Kokanee *
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods said, “Trout fishing remains very good with the heavy plants from the Department and Fish and Game over the past few months,” adding, “Bank anglers are doing well using Power Bait or night crawlers to catch their limits.” She went on to advise, “A good tip for fishing from the shore is to move up and down the shoreline until you locate a school of fish, as 50 yards could be the difference between zero fish and a limit.” In addition to Power Bait or night crawlers, a hootchie skirt on a Kastmaster also is working well from the banks. Trollers are scoring with blade/crawler combinations, Needlefish, Excels or Vance’s spoons in shad patterns such as natural shad, chrome or Cop Car. Brown trout have been taken on plugs such as Rapala J9s, Sebile Magic Swimmers or a River2Sea S-waver trolled fast over structure. Kyle Wise landed a 4.5-pound brown on a firetiger Rapala at 20 feet in depth. Bass fishing remains fair, although the fish are extremely healthy this year as they are gorging themselves on the abundant shad schools. Lewis said, “There are a lot of 2-pound-plus spotted bass schooling and feeding aggressively on shad with the larger fish targeting crawdads or small planted trout.” She advised using a drop-shot rig with a natural crawdad color plastic rigged 6 inches off your weight and a shad-patterned plastics 24 inches above the first worm to target both the larger and smaller fish. Catfishing has slowed in the cold water, but Lewis advised soaking your baits in Pro Cure scents and letting them sit weightless with the light bite. 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 1,049.97 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 **
With the lake temperatures becoming colder and colder, trout fishing continues to be the best thing going. Matt Barton of Sierra Gateway Sporting Goods in Lake Isabella said, “The best bite is in the early mornings with either rainbow or rainbow garlic Power Bait around the main or auxiliary dam. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield added Piney Point as another location for trout. After the rainbows, crappie are the next best bet with the fish holding in deep water around 35 feet around structure near Rocky Point with small minnows or minijigs. A few catfish continue to bite anchovies, sardines or live minnows despite the cold water temperatures. Bass fishing is very slow with few anglers trying at the present time. The lake remained stable at 2,559.98 feet and 29% capacity. In the upper river, Barton advised soaking night crawlers, salmon eggs or a combination of both for planted and trophy fish below the Power Plant to the reservoir. The lower river remains very good for trout, catfish or bass on live crickets, small crankbaits, salmon eggs or Power Worms. The trout plants have resumed at Buena Vista, and interest has been high with garlic Power Bait, Kastmasters or night crawlers. Cormier added that crappie action is good with small minnows, especially at night. The local ponds of Truxton, Woollomes, Ming, Hart Park and the Park at River Walk have been planted with rainbows in the past week, and angling pressure remains high at the River Walk with the other lakes experiencing less fishing pressure. Garlic Power Bait is the top choice of locals.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper *** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie *
Jason Chin of Coyote Bait and Tackle said striper action remains good, but the hot bite has slowed down a bit. The vast majority of San Jose area anglers still are heading to the big lake to drift jumbo minnows or toss rip or jerk baits from the banks or boats. He advised jigging in the high and cold water temperatures with 1.75-ounce white Duh or similar spoons at depths to 80 feet for the better quality of fish. They continue to sell dozens of jumbo minnows for the main lake. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported, “Lucky Craft Pointer 128s are still a top seller, but the 110s and 127s also are in high demand, particularly in chartreuse shad, American shad or ghost minnow.” In the Forebay, Chin said the bite remains similar to the past week with top-water lures or trolling with large plugs such as broken backed Rebels, P-Line Predators or Yozuris around Check 12 or the Twin Islands. The best action is when the Forebay is full of water. The main lake remains high at 90% capacity with 6,216 acre-feet of water from the Delta.
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) 463-0711
Bass *** Trout ** Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie *
Mark Inman of Lefty’s Lures reported a solid bass bite for fish to 3.5 pounds off of the face of the dam at depths from 35 to 50 feet, around isolated rock piles at depths from 20 to 40 feet, and in the 5 mph area in and around brush piles and isolated rocks and near drop-offs in 25 to 40 feet of water. Inman has been scoring with vertical jigging with a dead stick pause with Johnny C’s California Reservoir Lures jigs in colors 925 and 1050 paired with Yamamoto 5-inch twin tail grub trailers in colors 208 and 301 on a quarter- or three-eights-ounce Arkie or football head jig. Inman also advised drop-shotting a 6-inch Pro Worms Pro Gold/red flakehead or Baby Brush Hog, but the larger fish are hitting the jigs. He said the mid-morning bite is good, but the best action has been coming in the afternoon when boat traffic has decreased. The water clarity is good with a surface temperature ranging between 53 to 56 degrees. Inman advised anglers to find good targets, get on top of them, and vertically jig the baits with a dead stick pause. Ranger Adela Lint of the US Army Corps of Engineers said the Eastman Lake Ranger Station request that the fishing community watch out for an unusual aquatic creature as they have received unconfirmed reports of small organisms that look like jellyfish populating some of the coves. If these are observed, anglers are requested to obtain a sample and bring it to the Ranger Station for an analysis. She added that New Year’s is going to be a busy camping weekend at Eastman, but sites still are available. The Lakeview Trail is open between the Codorniz Recreation Area and Raymond Bridge, but the area of the lake extending upstream along the Chowchilla River is still closed beyond the buoy line. Trout fishing has improved from the Day Use area of the lake with Power Bait or night crawlers. The lake dropped a half foot to 555.82 feet and 67% capacity.
Bass ** Trout *** Catfish ** Crappie **
The trout plants have started to display an impact, and Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno touted salmon peach Power Bait as the top bait for planters from the shore access areas. Bass fishing has gotten tougher with the rapidly cooling water temperatures. The best action is either sending down jigs or drop-shotting with a dead stick presentation around submerged timber at depths to 30 feet. No catfish reports. The lake held at 490.78 vertical feet and 32% capacity.
Call: 225-1838; 292-3474; 673-5151
The trout plants have ceased for the year with the next round of plants starting in mid-January. Bank fishing and trolling has slowed down in the past week, but patient anglers soaking Power Eggs, Power Bait or night crawlers in the access areas around the Marina to the Brush Pile can be rewarded with limits. Trolling action continues to be fair with Wedding Rings tipped with a piece of crawler behind a dodger, blade/crawler combinations or small spoons from the Floating Restrooms to Gilligan’s Island.
Call: (209) 378-2534
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper *** Catfish **
Striper fishing remains very good in the south aqueduct near Taft with blood worms, sardines or anchovies. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Local fishermen continue to work the bank access areas of Tupman, Twisselman and the golf course near Buena Vista for legal and undersized stripers and the occasional catfish. Fresno area striper fishermen continue to bypass the canals and aqueducts to fish the main lake or the Forebay for consistent striper action.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass ** Striper * Shad * Trout **
The bass bite has slowed down in the past week with the limits dropping from the 9- to 10-pound range to the 6- to 6.5-pound range, according to Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis. Drop-shotting or dart-heading either dark or shad-patterned plastics at depths 25 to 30 feet in the main lake is producing the most action, but the big fish that were here last week are few and far between. The lake will host the Fresno Bass Club’s annual New Year’s Day tournament on Sunday. Striper action is slow with few fishermen targeting the lake in exchange for better action at San Luis Reservoir. The lake rose 1 foot to 534.14 feet in elevation and 63% capacity with the launch ramp on the Second Ramp. Woodward Park and the Fresno Regional Sports Complex are picking up for planted trout on Power Bait, and the San Joaquin River is giving up planters at Lost Lake or the Broken Bridge with Power Bait or lures such as Kastmasters or Thomas Buoyants in gold. Woodward Park and the river are scheduled for plants this week.
Call: 225-1838; 292-3474
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass ** Trout ** King salmon ** Catfish **
The majority of area trout fishermen are heading to Pine Flat for decent action for planters with the very occasional fish to 15 inches. Merritt Gilbert said, “The fish are shallow, and Needlefish, Dick’s Trout Busters and Rainbow Runners have been our top sellers.” Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno thought the best bite remained from Trimmer up the river arm, and he added Speedy Shiners to the tackle arsenal. With most salmon being “dinks,” king salmon fishermen have given up for the year. Bass fishing is fair with the fish holding in deep water. Jigs and drop-shotting shad or dark plastics are producing the most hits with an occasional fish landed on small swimbaits at depths from 20 to 50 feet are the most consistent techniques. The lake rose three-quarters of a foot to 863.84 feet and 55% capacity. Trout plants continue on the lower Kings, and Power Bait and spinners are working for the planted fish. Another trout plant is scheduled on the lower Kings and at Avocado Lake this week.
Call: 787-2387; 225-1838; 292-3474
Bass ** Crappie ** Trout ** Catfish **
The unstable lake levels and cold temperatures have slowed down both fishing interest and the overall bass bite during the past week. The best action has been in deep water with spoons over structure. Trout fishing has improved, with the trout action around the First and Second launch ramps with Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. Jumbo minnows, sardines or anchovies are working for the occasional catfish. The lake dropped 2 feet to 587.30 feet and 7% capacity.
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish **
The days leading up to Christmas and the overall cold weather led to decreased angler interest, but bank fishermen are taking advantage of the holiday week by lining up along the shoreline on the Rocky Hill side of the lake for planted trout with night crawlers or Power Bait. Bass fishing has been slow with minimal interest. The bite should improve with the lake levels and water temperature remaining stable. 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 1 foot to 600.14 feet in elevation and 16% capacity.
Bass ** Trout *** King salmon * Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish **
Trout fishing continues to be very good for trollers in a variety of locations throughout the lake, including the river arm near Bagby, the coves past McClure Point, or in Cottonwood Creek. Wedding Rings with half a night crawler on a trolling sinker just under the surface is working, as well as spoons or small plugs. Bank anglers continue to score with Kastmasters, Power Bait or night crawlers around McClure Point or Barretts Cove. Bass fishing is best with live bait, and live crawdads are producing limits of keepers at Barretts Cove. Crappie fishing is on the upswing with medium minnows at night. A few catfish have been taken on either the live minnows or crawdads, but overall catfishing has slowed in the cold water temperatures. The lake dropped slightly to 807.16 feet and 65% capacity.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Lake Don Pedro
Bass ** Trout *** Kokanee * King salmon **
Trout fishing is the best thing going on, as the lake has been heavily planted in the past several weeks. Bank fishermen are scoring with Kastmasters, night crawlers or various colors of Power Bait near the launch ramps at Blue Oaks or Fleming Meadows. The trout are high in the water column early in the mornings before dropping down to seek the shad, which are holding in deeper water later in the day. Bass fishing continues to be slowing down, as the fish are dropping in the water column. Drop-shotting is the best technique at depths from 35 to 50 feet for a few small bass with the occasional larger fish taken on either the 8-inch Huddleston swimbait in rainbow trout or brown jigs with either a green pumpkin or California 420 trailer at depths from 35 to 50 feet. A slow and methodical presentation is a must.
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 lake’s waters continue to be low, cold and murky. Bank fishing remains slow, and this trend will continue until more trout plants are established. The lake held at 37% capacity.
There are two scheduled quarry blasts this week: the first was at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, the second will be at 12:15 p.m. Thursday. A blasting schedule should be updated every Friday and is available at cranevalleydam.com/blasting-schedule
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake Kokanee * Trout *** Smallmouth *
Trout fishing at Huntington remains very good with Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun stating, “Boaters are launching aluminums to 14.5-feet with a 25-horse outboard along the side of the launch ramp, and they are trolling up quick limits of rainbows to 15 inches with small Rapalas or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler.” There have been no large brown trout reported, but the big fish seekers are fast-trolling plugs along structure and picking up big rainbows. Merritt cautioned boaters to obtain a Sno-Park pass before parking at the launch ramp lot since there have been a number of tickets issued for no Sno-Pass on the vehicle. Shaver Lake continues to be high and dry, but visitors are rewarded with a spectacular view by way of binoculars of a number of sights. 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 to 64% 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
Gates to Wishon and Courtright are closed and awaiting a spring date in which to reopen.
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 79%, Florence at 58% Mammoth Pool at 37% with Redinger rising once again to 83%.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut * Striper ** Rockfish *** Leopard shark *** Crab *** 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 Saturday. The Emeryville boats continue to head out to the Farallon Islands for limits of rockfish and crab, while good fishing continues up the coast with Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker putting in 24 limits of rockfish and crab during the middle of the week up the Marin coast. Smith will be setting up combination trips through the Saturday closure, and he will switch to sturgeon/striper or sturgeon/striper/crab combination trips after the first of the year. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael continues to tout the Pumphouse or the Shell Banks in San Pablo Bay for sturgeon, particularly at the end of the outgoing tide with live mud shrimp. He attributes the sturgeon holding in the bay due to a large source of mud shrimp in the bay. Don Franklin of the Soleman out of Pier 45 in San Francisco said the leopard shark action in the south bay remains strong, and he advises anglers to release the female fish. Franklin added that Sean Treacy on the “Mini Me” has boated a pair of sturgeon in the past week in San Pablo Bay. Mike’s Bait in Oakland said the perch action remains good from the end of the Alameda Rockwall or in Ballena Bay with pile worms or grass shrimp. There was a legal sturgeon landed at the Dunbarton Fishing Pier midweek, but the best sturgeon fishing remains near the Mothball Fleet with hit or miss sturgeon action in the south bay.
Half Moon Bay
Winding down to the last week of the rockfishing season, crab and bottom fish limits continue to be the rule. The party boats are gearing up for the next fishery, consisting of sand dab/Dungeness crab or crab-only combination trips. Captain Dennis Baxter when to the Farallon Islands on Monday, and they returned with 22 limits of big rockfish to go with 22 limits of Dungeness crab. Baxter said, “The quality of olive and yellow rockfish at the Islands has been outstanding.” He also is running a crab-only trip for $60/adults and $50/children under 12, in addition to hybrid rockfish/crab combination trips, and straight rockfish/crab combinations through the last day of the season, Saturday. On a hybrid trip, Baxter takes out passengers interested in crab only and returns them to the harbor before heading back out for rockfish. The ocean conditions remain flat calm. Limits of rockfish and crab with the occasional ling cod or cabezon continue to be the rule in the tremendous ocean conditions during this extended period of high pressure. Rockfishing continues to be outstanding at either the Farallon Islands, north of Pillar Point near Montara or any of the open zones south of the harbor. The commercial crabbing pressure has eased; and limits of crab are still there to be had. The popular Humboldt squid fishery may be on hold for another year with Mattusch finding nothing on his two exploratory trips earlier in the month. He said, “I don’t believe we will see a squid again this year.”
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 said, “The weather along the coast is as good as I can remember during the month of December.” He said, “The crab action has slowed a bit, but we have still been able to pull up limits on all of our trips.” They are running the combination trips every day through the closure, and they are already filled on Wednesday and Friday of this week with a full rockfish-only trip to Point Sur on Friday. He will send the Star of Monterey back down to Point Sur on Saturday if there is enough interest. Starting Monday, Chris’ will offer the popular sanddab and crab combination trips.
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Luis Obispo
Rock cod ****
There only few days of the open rockfish season with the closure until May 1 taking place at sunset on Saturday. Rockfishing remains outstanding out of both ports with Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay reporting 113 passengers landing 50 lingcod to 15 pounds, 333 vermilions, 624 assorted rockfish, 76 coppers, 25 bocaccio and a solitary cabezon this week. Virg’s is running another shallow water jackpot open charter on Friday for $100/angler with $31 to be placed in the jackpot. Call Dave at Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838, or Virg’s Landing for reservations. They also are featuring a special long-range trip on Friday with a drawing for a free $200 rod and reel with all passengers receiving a gold card to be used for any May 2012 opening trip. Starting Dec. 26, whale watching and nature trips will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Monday the Patriot put in 30 limits of rockfish, five lingcod to 7 pounds and 90 crab. Its previous trip on the Pacific Horizon boasted near limits of rockfish, 21 lingcod to 12.5 pounds and 69 Dungeness crab. The big fish of the week was a 20.5-pound lingcod taken by Kevin Rhea of Visalia, which puts him in second place in the annual lingcod contest. The ling count for the season is 2,877. Patriot will start crab/ocean trips on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. These trips are $45 for adults and $20 for children 5 to 12. Patriot also is scheduling 2-hour Ocean Excursions from 1-3 p.m. for $35 and $15 (5-12), and Patriot advises bringing your cameras and binoculars to locate the gray whale pods, seals and seabird life. Patriot’s seventh annual Ling Cod contest runs until Saturday, and the leaders are: 1. Guy Leo (26 pounds, 4 ounces), 2. Kevin Rhea (20-5), 3. William Chong (19-0).
Call: 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 with the best action on drop-shotting shad-patterned plastics or brown/purple jigs, or spoons over island tops at depths from 20 to 35 feet. Nacimiento will be hosting several tournaments during January, including the inaugural Best Best Tournament. San Antonio is giving up minimal information with the best action for bass on either a drop-shot or jig at depths from 20 to 45 feet. Striper fishing has been slow. Quagga mussel inspections are now required before boat launching is allowed. Nacimiento and San Antonio are holding at 67% and 72% respectively.
Call: (805) 238-1056 ext. 3, (805)
472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Bass ** Striper ** Sturgeon *** Catfish **
Sturgeon fishing remains strong in the upper Suisun Bay area to the east of the Mothball Fleet. Captain Mark Delnero of Fin Addict Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg put client Mike Lutz of Lodi onto a 54-inch keeper sturgeon on the outgoing tide in an area known as “The Horseshoe“ on Dec. 23, and they also landed a 7-pound striped bass. Striper fishing has slowed in the cold water with the best action in the depths below 30 feet. Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said shoreline fishermen are struggling for small stripers with anchovies or pile worms. A larger grade of striper has been coming from the waters around the Firing Line, but the overall size has dropped to the 8- to 12-pound grade. Lopez advised cutting bullheads or splitting the bellies of the splittail to allow the striper bass to stay with the bait in the cold water, adding, “They will pick up a live bait, but they will drop it right away.” One upcoming sturgeon event is the sixth annual Diamond Classic hosted by Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing on Jan. 28. With the cold water temperatures, the Florida-strain largemouth bass and the striped bass have adjusted by slowing their metabolism. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “There are a few small groupings of fish here and there, but the majority of striper are on the move to find bait and warmer water.” He added, “The entire stretch of the San Joaquin River from the Stockton Turning Basin to the mouth of the Mokelumne has been devoid of bait fish, as generally the bait is thick in the Turning Basin at this time of year.” Largemouth bass have begun to stabilize to the water temperatures in the low 40s, and the fish are in full winter mode. Pringle said, “Hooking 10 fish in the cold water conditions is a good day, but tough days of only a few bites are possible.” He advised downsizing your line to the 8-pound range with fluorocarbon being best in the clear water. The frigid water’s clarity is outstanding. He is working outside of the weed line at depths from 7 to 10 feet with the Berkeley Power Worm on either a Zappu head or drop-shot. The thinner Power Worm in 4- to 6-inch size will move more than the thicker worms in cold water, and Pringle said, “Don’t jiggle or wiggle it, just let it set with the lightest weight possible to keep the fish from dropping it.” Weights up to an eighth of an ounce may be necessary in the heavier currents. Pringle also advises using scent. Further north in the Delta, Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing said, “We are experiencing limit fishing.” For spooning, Gravert advised anglers to “Spool up with 30-pound Suffix Braid with a 2-foot Seaguar fluorocarbon leader so you can feel every tap and have the ability to drive the hook home on the hook set.” Frozen shad, mudsuckers or brined sardines have been the top baits since fresh shad remains in a very limited supply with only Thornton Road Bait or H and R Bait in Stockton having a few pounds on a daily basis.
Call: 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
Sunday: Visalia Bass Club at Kaweah, info: Bud Stanley (559) 786-7450; Fresno Bass Club at Millerton, info: Mark Corrente 284-2768; Bakersfield Bass Club at Nacimiento; Tracy Bass Club at Delta/Tracy Oasis
Tuesday: Kokanee Power Meeting, 7 p.m. at the Old Spaghetti Factory
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. 14: Best Bass Tournament at Millerton/Fresno Ramp
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; Best Bass Tournament at Nacimiento
Fresno County: Avocado Lake; Kings River below the Pine Flat Reservoir; San Joaquin River below the Friant Dam; Woodward Park Lake
n/a = 2012 information not available
FISHING PODCASTS & VIDEOS
Tips and techniques: Podcast and Video Archive