Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a central San Joaquin Valley native and local fishing expert.
Pine Flat trout action holding up, Merritt Gilbert said. Don Pedro trout on fire, Monte Smith reported, while bass action remains good, Manny Basi said. Nacimiento bass hitting, Larry Kerns said. New Melones bass action pretty good, Melanie Lewis reported.
Growing up on the Westside of the Valley on a farm, one of my favorite pastimes was fishing our small backwaters, rivers and ponds.
I was around 18 years old and we had access to a really good farm pond we especially cherished as a big bass haven. We knew there were some fish over 10 pounds that swam in that half-mile long pond, so it was with great anticipation that myself, my Dad and a friend of his hightailed it for this piece of nirvana on a perfect overcast day.
Since you could only use aluminum boats with an electric motor, we took our trusty Valco 14-foot aluminum. Kinda crowded, and we’re all fairly big guys, so this was going to take some coordination and balance to pull off!
As youngest, it was my fate to man the tiny front position. It’s pretty tight trying to fish there since the bow is curving in, so I decided I would bring along a chair to place between the front two seats, elevating me into a better position to cast. Trying it out gingerly at first, I thought I had finally produced a real winner that would help me fish much more comfortably-even though it was situated higher than I liked.
Heading out for the best cove, we rounded a corner and my Dad made a perfect cast with a top-water lure into a grass pocket. Immediately, a nice bass hit and surged for the nearby timber as it leaped out of the water. Realizing it was at least 5 pounds, my Dad and his friend, in the rear of our boat, were intensely engrossed in playing the thrashing fish while keeping it out of the brush. Leaping again and again the bass would not give up, but each time the fish jumped, it would come a little closer.
As this played out, they would both lean out a bit farther each pass, tilting the boat badly as I tried to counterweight by leaning the other way. As I was frantically yelling, they netted the fish! I’m in the front doing contortions as they both unexpectedly sat back, hoisting the prize bass in the net all the while unaware of what I was doing to balance things. I remember trying to grab something, but as I went backward into the water in one (graceful athletic?) movement. I found my coveted chair also was following close behind, landing right on my head before it sunk. In shock, I had my tackle box floating by me as the tip of my prized pole slowly sunk out of sight before I could grab it. Swimming to shore to the hoorahs of both guys, I got back in the boat, pulled out my other pole and decided I was wet but the bass were biting. We tried to reach the pole in 15 feet of water, but the weeds were way to thick. We still did good.
Two weeks later we went back. My dad brought metal tubular poles with a claw on the end that would reach about 15 feet. Getting out in the middle of the weed-infested cove, I reached down to scrape the bottom. Feeling a tap, I lifted the missing pole up.
The best thing was that I cleaned the pole, put a new plug on and caught some nice bass. Didn’t retrieve the chair and I don’t care — you can have it!
* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin' in boat
VALLEY New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass *** Crappie ** Catfish ** Trout *** Kokanee **
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp rated the bass action as pretty good, but there were two largemouths over 9 pounds caught during Saturday’s Western Outdoor News tournament. There were several limits in excess of 10 pounds with jigs, soft plastics or swimbaits working along main lake structure at depths from 25 to 65 feet. The California Reservoir jig in brown or green with a matching Yamamoto twin-tail grub trailer has been very effective. In addition to the 9-pound largemouths, Sam Saeturn released a huge largemouth while fishing from the banks. Lewis advised anglers to practice catch and release, especially with the largemouth bass since they are becoming increasingly scarce. Lewis rated the trout bite as very good with “lots of nice fish caught this week with many limits taken.” Four year old Joshua Fernandez landed a 3.75-pound rainbow while fishing with his father from the banks in Glory Hole Point. Nelson Wong of Sacramento reported catching and releasing over 60 planters up the river arm past the Parrott’s Ferry Bridge. They had slow action on their gas motor, so they switched to the electric motor and started hooking up. Bank anglers are loading up at Tuttletown and Glory Hole and Angels coves with Power Bait, Gulp Eggs and marshmallow/night crawler combinations, and Lewis said, “It is very important that your bait floats up off of the bottom, so small hooks, large quantities of Power Bait, and a worm blower are essential.” Since the fish are spitting up shad, shad-patterned lures also are working form the banks with Kastmasters, Krocodiles and casting spinners with silver rated as very effective. Although it is very early, kokanee to 13 inches are showing up near the surface near the spillway. Once again, there were no large catfish weighed in this week, but Lewis advised trying for catfish at depths from 35 to 70 feet along deep ledges and main lake points with night crawlers, frozen shad or anchovies. Trout fishermen have landed the occasional catfish on Power Bait or night crawlers. 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 held at 1,049.28 feet in elevation and 81% 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 **
Rex Emerson of the Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce reported, “The enthusiasm is growing for the 2012 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, to be held on March 31-April 2,” adding, “Since the derby trout were delivered in early November, they are being fed three times daily by members of the Kern Valley Fish & Game Habitat Club along with other dedicated volunteers from the community.” The number of “major” sponsors is set at 10, with each to sponsor a $10,000 tagged trout. In addition, the Kern River Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a trout worth $20,000! Adding even more to the anticipation, if the $20,000 Chamber of Commerce fish is caught while the lucky angler is wearing an “official” 2012 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby T-shirt or Hoodie, the prize will be doubled to $40,000! For those fisherman who are looking to rent a boat during the derby event, we were told by French Gulch Marina owner and derby sponsor Deb Chase, “We still have a few boats available at this time.” She also added, “The derby is one of the most exciting events she has the privilege to participate in, she looks forward to it every year.” Derby applications are available at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce office and several local merchants. Enter and get information online at www.isabellafishingderby.com/. Be sure to get your entry in before 6 p.m. March 1 to be eligible for the $500 early bird prize sponsored by the Cedar City Utah Chamber of Commerce. In response to plants from the Department of Fish and Game and private plants, trout fishing continues to be the best thing going on with Sierra Gateway Sporting Goods reporting any Power Bait color combined with garlic is working near Paradise Cove, the French Gulch Marina and the Auxiliary Dam. With the rainbows holding in deep water, Stein Cove and Red’s Kern Valley Marina also have been good locations. A trout plant is scheduled for this week. Bass fishing continues to be very slow with local tournaments not scheduled until April. The crappie are still limited to the occasional fish for those with marina access, and the bite usually starts in earnest during the month of March. Catfish action also has been slow with most fishermen targeting trout. The lake held at 2,560.23 feet in elevation and 30% capacity. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield touted the action for large rainbows to 4 pounds in the lower Kern River with live crickets, night crawlers or salmon eggs. The trout bite at Buena Vista is basically over with plants ending for the current season. Crappie action has slowed at this lake, but bass fishing with Senkos is on the rise. The small local impoundments have been producing planted trout on Power Bait in spring green, corn yellow or rainbow/garlic. Heavy fishing pressure at the River Walk exhausts the planted fish within a few days, but the Department of Fish and Game has been putting extra loads into this lake. Trout plants are scheduled at Hart Park, Truxton, Ming and the River Walk this week with a plant at Woollomes next week. The Bakersfield Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a trout derby March 3 at the River Walk.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay Striper ** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie *
The Fresno Chapter of the California Striped Bass Association held a tournament in the big lake on Saturday, and Fresno Bee Fishing Report Editor Roger George landed a 37.5-inch, 22-pound striped bass on the ABT multrig at a depth of 80 feet after not receiving a bite from 6:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. After landing the huge fish, they caught and released another 10 fish to 8.5 pounds in short order. Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill reported improved bank fishing with pile worms for linesides to 10 pounds near Dinosaur Point close to Honker Bay or the Rockwall. Most of the fish are small, ranging from undersized to 24 inches. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said sales of Lucky Craft 128s and white flukes are back on the rise with the improvement in bank action. Boaters are drifting live jumbo minnows in Portuguese Cove or trolling broken backed Rebels or P-Line Predators. In the Forebay, the area in the back of the lake near Check 12 is producing a few linesides on jumbo minnows from the banks, but most fishermen are heading for the big lake with the water level low in the Forebay. The main lake remains high, but it is releasing water and has dropped to 90% capacity.
Important note: EFFECTIVE OCT. 1, 2011, 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 *
The bass are moving up into the 10- to 12-foot range in the afternoons as the weather continues to warm up the water temperature. Spinner baits or rip baits have been effective once the fish are in the shallows. With the arrival of the planted trout, a few quality bass in the 3.5- to 4-pound range are taken on rainbow trout patterned swimbaits. During the majority of the day, the bass are holding in 25 to 30 feet of water near the bottom with drop-shot plastics or jigs. Trout trollers have been pulling ExCels or Needlefish along the Buoy Line at three colors of lead core. The water temperature has been in the mid-50 degree range. 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. The lake held at 557.67 feet and 69%.
Bass ** Trout *** Catfish ** Crappie **
Small bass continue to be the rule with the majority of fish being under 12 inches, and fishermen have to work hard to find the occasional keeper fish. There are reports of the crappie waking up, and sales of minijgs are starting. Trout fishing remains a good option from the banks near the Swim Beach with chartreuse Power Bait or night crawlers. Trollers are picking up a few planters to 13.5 inches on Wedding Rings, Dick’s Trout Busters or Cripplures. The lake rose 1 foot to 496.02 vertical feet and 38% capacity.
Call: 225-1838; 292-3474; 673-5151
Stephanie Powell of the McSwain Marina said, “We received a double plant last week from both Fish and Game and the Calaveras Trout Farm prior to the President’s Day Holiday, and bank and trolling action was good through the weekend.” Bank fishermen are fishing A-Loop near the campsites, the Handicapped Docks, and near the McSwain Dam with rainbow or garlic Power Bait, night crawlers or Gulp! crickets. The crickets have been particularly effective in the evenings. Trolling action is best from Gilligan’s Island to the Chimney area with blade/crawler combinations, small Rapalas tipped with a Gulp! worm, silver/chrome Kastmasters or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a dodger.
Call: (209) 378-2534
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs Striper *** Catfish **
Few anglers are fishing the local canals with a resurgence of bank action in San Luis Reservoir. The best action remains in the south aqueduct near Lost Hills, Temblor’s Siphon, Tupman and the Buena Vista Golf Course. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The striper bite is good with top water lures, but we are also selling lots of blood or sand worms.”
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass ** Striper * Shad * Trout **
Small bass continue to be the rule, and most local fishermen are heading north to McClure or Don Pedro due to the tournament schedule. Fishing pressure is very light with only a couple of boats on the lake. Merritt Gilbert said, “One of our customers landed nine fish on the bottom using plastics, but only three of these were keepers, and he only observed two other boat trailers in the parking lot.” The fish are beginning to move into the shallows in the mornings before dropping back by mid-morning. No striper reported this week. The lake dropped 2 feet to 526.66 feet and 58% capacity with the launch on the second ramp. Woodward Park is scheduled for another trout plant this week. On the lower San Joaquin, the Lost Lake area has been reopened due to volunteer work from the Friends of Lost Lake Park, and planted trout are biting yellow or chartreuse Power Bait, Kastmasters and Gulp! Worms. Another trout plant is scheduled this week.
Call: 225-1838; 292-3474
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass ** Trout *** King salmon *** Catfish **
“The trout action is holding up with the majority of action in the Trimmer area on the surface for 13- to 14-inch rainbows,” said Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun, adding, “Boats can put in a couple of limits, but it will take a bit longer than the past weeks.” He added that there are large schools of fish near the Power Lines and Zebe Creek, and they have been selling a number of Apex lures this week, followed by Needlefish, ExCels, Dick’s Trout Busters or Wedding Rings. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno touted king salmon action at depths to 65 feet with white hootchies behind a large Sling Blade near the Power Lines. The most consistent bass bite remains on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot, dart-head or by dropping jigs at depths from 25 to 49 feet, but an occasional bass is taken on an Alabama rig, rip bait or swim bait as the fish are moving into the 15 feet range in the afternoons. A 7.75-pound limit took Saturday’s Sierra Bass Club tournament. The lake rose 1 foot to 873.28 feet and 60%. Interest in the lower Kings has been high with Power Bait, Joe’s Flies and Roostertails working in the catch and keep sections. Fly fishermen have been working the catch and release section with nymph patterns for rainbows to 20 inches. Avocado Lake is scheduled for a trout plant this week, and the river continues to be planted on a weekly basis.
Call: 787-2387; 225-1838; 292-3474
Bass ** Crappie ** Trout *** Catfish **
Planted trout from the banks were the top draw since last week’s Department of Fish and Game Plant. Power Bait, night crawlers or spoons from banks along the first and second launch ramps are the best options, For bass, the occasional large fish is taken on rainbow trout-pattern swimbaits or umbrella rigs, but the most consistent action remains on drop-shot plastics or jigs. Crappie action continues to be slow, but the slabsides should be waking up with warming temperatures.. The lake rose 4 feet to 620.36 feet in elevation and 19% capacity.
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish **
Trout fishing from the banks has been the top attraction with last week’s plant boosting action with Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. The majority of anglers line up on the Rocky Hill side of the lake. Bass fishing still is slow with local anglers heading north to Kaweah or the coastal lakes; however, the bass tournament season starts in a few weeks. With warm temperatures, the bass are moving into the shallows. Drop-shotting, jigs or spoons are the top techniques, but reaction baits are starting to be effective. The Tule Point south and Rocky Hill launch ramps are still open, but the best access remains at Rocky Hill. The lake rose 2 feet to 614.39 feet and 29% capacity.
Bass ** Trout *** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish **
Jay Graham of the Fresno Bass Club said, “A few small fish were landed on swimbaits, as the larger fish were reported to follow but not strike.” The majority of bass during Saturday’s club tournament were taken on plastics in shad patterns, green, purple or brown on the drop-shot or Texas rigs at a variety of depths. Graham landed five keepers as deep as 30 feet and three more keepers in the shallows, as the fish are getting ready for prespawn and the spawn. Diana Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling reported selling out of medium minnows over the weekend although they purchased extra minnows. The sales of medium minnows haven’t resulted in crappie reports, but there are a number of anglers trying. Live crawdads are also in high demand. Trout fishing has been best up the river arm from Bagby to the Horseshoe close to the surface with Rapalas or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a flasher. The planted trout bite from the banks has slowed in the past week. The lake is stable at 807.50 feet in elevation and 65%.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Lake Don Pedro
Bass *** Trout **** Kokanee * King salmon **
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported excellent trout action on his trolling trip Monday with 22 rainbows caught and released. The majority of fish were planters, but they released five holdover rainbows in addition to being a couple of seconds from netting an estimated 4-pound brown trout that spit the hook within inches from the extended net. Smith was trolling heavy shad-patterned spoons at speeds from 2.5 to 3 mph at five to seven colors of lead core. Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures has been trolling from the 49 Bridge to the Jacksonville Bridge for both rainbows and king salmon to 2 pounds while also finding king salmon from 1.5 to 2 pounds at Woods Creek with either shad-patterned spoons or rolled shad. For largemouth and spotted bass, the swimbait bite remains good with the 8-inch Huddleston ROF 12 swimbait in rainbow trout or the ABT multirig filled with shad-patterned swimbaits. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford added that Robo Worms Hologram Shad or Pro Worms Pro Gold are working on the drop-shot at depths of 20 feet since the fish are moving into the shallows.
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 rose slightly to 39%, and fishing pressure remains very light. With the low lake levels, the best action has been taking place off float tubes for spotted or largemouth bass. The Pines boat launch was retrofitted by PG&E with ramp extensions allowing boat access during low lake levels through the winter months weather permitting and for 4-wheel drive vehicles only. There is a reported launch ramp at Ducey’s, but the ramp is only open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a 4-wheel drive is necessary.
There are two scheduled blasts this week: one was 3:45 p.m. Monday, the second is 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. 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 *
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The heavy draining of Huntington Lake into Shaver will take place very soon, doubling the current flow rate, as Shaver has been slowly refilling allowing the lake bed to be covered before heavy flows are released.” This is to decrease the opportunity for silt to be washed to the dam area. The planting of trout, including trophy-size fish, will take place prior to mid-April; and by Memorial Day, the lake’s population should be approximately 65,000 trout with 15,000 more through the summer. The trophy size trout should number 5,000 to 7,000. Experts are predicting Shaver Lake to be the largest body of trophy-size trout in California that has free access to the public. Nichols said, “Thanks to the long relationship between Southern California Edison, Department of Fish and Game and the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project and its donors, this should be a great year of fishing.” The SLTTP increased the 2013 purchase which includes rainbows to 6 pounds. Captain Jack Yandell and Nichols will be featured at Shaver Lake fishing seminars at Herb Bauer’s in Fresno at 6 p.m. Thursday and again at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis at 1 p.m. March 31. Long time Shaver Lake resident Lee Gates will be on the agenda and present a historical slideshow at each event. Yandell and Nichols also will be using the show in their presentation. Current photos of Shaver along with photos from the late 1800s will be featured. Nichols will provide photos of the lake bottom, cover the hot fishing spots, and what it takes to catch a trophy-size trout. Yandell, Shaver Lake’s resident kokanee expert, will cover the progress of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project with a slideshow of last year’s trophy trout caught, his recommendations on catching big fish and the use of the down rigger. Even with the cold weather, a few bank anglers have been scoring quality rainbows at Huntington Lake near the dam. Huntington rose rapidly to 92% and Shaver to 6%.
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 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, but an early opening is expected due to the minimal snow levels. Jim Clements of Vermilion Valley Resort at Lake Edison is planning on starting quad trips into the resort on April 12-13 if there is interest, and the cost will remain the same as the past year at $389 for two nights and $489 for three-night trips. The lakes remain high for this time of year, but they are starting to drop with Edison at 58%, Florence at 29%, Mammoth Pool at 47% and Redinger at 92%. Call: 259-4000
San Francisco Bay
Striper ** Leopard shark *** Sturgeon **
Tiny bait stealing crabs have moved into the entire bay system from the Carquinez Bridge to the Golden Gate due to the lack of fresh water. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker went south into the bay near the Alameda Rockwall and the Oakland Airport to avoid the heavy crab action found in San Pablo Bay last weekend. The bay must be loaded from top to bottom with the tiny bait-stealers since they found a plethora of crabs in the south bay. They started the day by pulling crab pots just west of the Golden Gate, and alas, it was like the Three Bears — someone had been lifting up their pots. After picking up 12 on the farthest pot in the string, the counts dropped down to three to zero per pot with many of them devoid of bait. Smith was able to scratch out three crab per person for the 23 anglers on board which was a nice bonus since they were unable to land any legal fish. “It was a trash fish day,” said Smith with a pair of shaker leopard sharks, bat rays, spiny dogfish and other assorted undesirable species of bay residents. He is planning another combination trip next weekend, and he will be checking the pots during the middle of the week to rebait for the weekend, if necessary. Also in the south bay, John Akina at Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli reported better weather conditions on Sunday after a heavy wind Saturday. A few boats went out to the regular locations of the Oakland Airport, Coyote Point and the San Bruno Shoals, but there were no legal sturgeon reported. Perch fishing remains decent from the pier and the surrounding shorelines with pile worms or grass shrimp. Emeryville Sport Fishing is holding off on its sturgeon trips until early- or mid-March. Joel Sinkay of Leonard’s Bait went out with Brad Hood of BH Guide Service on Friday, and Sinkay picked up his first legal sturgeon in many years fishing in the shallows in Hamilton Flats with grass shrimp. The fish bit just into the start of the outgoing tide, since the crab action was horrific on the incoming tide. Sinkay said, “We went through three dozen live mud shrimp on the incoming tide due to the bait-stealers.” This fish was loaded with sea lice, and it took Sinkay around the boat a couple of times in the shallow water. Captain Jim Cox of the Touch of Gray out of Loch Lomond said, “After a tough day with windy conditions and plenty of crab feeding on Saturday, we finally had a productive day on Sunday with a full boat of six anglers out in very nice calm condition on San Pablo bay. “I gave up on the traditional shrimp baits due to the high number of crabs, and fished exclusively lamprey eel, since the crab chew on it but it stays on the hook much longer than shrimp,” Cox said. Dennis and Dung Doan from San Jose and Johnny Welch from Pleasanton all caught striper, and Dung added a keeper leopard shark to the five striper total. Cox added, “Throw in a shaker sturgeon and lots of undersized sharks and the outgoing tide proved to be very productive.” Throughout the bay, perch fishing remains outstanding from the Alameda Rockwall, Richmond shoreline, Treasure Island and the Sausalito shores for white, rubberlip and splittails.
Half Moon Bay
Whale watching and sand dab/crab combination trips continue to be the only game in town until the anticipated salmon opener in April, and party boat captains are scratching out a few trips per week. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat put three fishermen from Reno on Thursday to pull up crab limits in short order.” He said, “The limits were quick and plentiful, and since the commercial fishermen are moving their gear beyond three miles from the shoreline, the catch is picking up with less competition from other pots.” Sand dabs are found in a number of locations, and Mattusch has been working in the vicinity of 160 feet of water off Martin’s Beach. For whale watching, the northern migration is picking up steam, and the whales migrate closer to shore on the Alaska bound journey. This is the time of year when whales in both directions can be observed, and the southbound whales are also on the move closer to the shoreline than they have been in the past several years. All of the local party boats are booking whale watching, and the majority of boats also are taking reservations for the Mavericks surf competition and practice. An incredible photo sequence of the Huli Cat taking on breaking waves while filming the Mavericks surf movie are available on the www:outdoors1050.com website. Captain Guy Anthony on the New Gravy is booking out of Bait and Switch Tackle Shop — formerly Huck Finn Sport Fishing — as is Captain Dennis Baxter on the New Captain Pete. Baxter will be running sand dab/crab combinations trips on Fridays until the salmon opener. Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the Queen of Hearts will be back on the water for whale watching trips this month in preparation for the salmon opener in the spring. Up the coast, Sheryl Jimno of the Rusty Hook in Pacifica reported rough ocean conditions during the President’s Day weekend, but the pier still is crowded with crabbers with snares. There has been more interest in striped bass fishing from the shoreline in the past week, but reports are scarce. Blood and pile worms have been scarce due to inclement weather on the East Coast, so perch fishermen have been using plastic grubs or prawns.
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
Sonny Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported excellent sand dab action Sunday with the flatfish found near Moss Landing. He said, “The sand dabs school up in this area of the bay in thick clouds.” They came up with five crab apiece for 15 anglers in addition to the sand dabs Sunday after pulling the pots in the morning. On Saturday, they pulled the pots in the afternoon after fishing, and the rough conditions made the pots hard to find, so the fishermen settled for nearly four crab apiece for their 23 fishermen. They are taking the combination trips on Wednesday through Sunday. The upcoming eighth annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Tournament is March 8. This is a large event with anglers fishing from Monterey north to San Francisco along the shoreline. Information is available at http://theletsgofishingradioshow.com/
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Luis Obispo
Whale watching and nature excursions are the main thing taking place at both ports until April’s anticipated salmon opener and the May 1 rockfish opener. Out of Port San Luis, Patriot Sport Fishing is scheduling sand dab /Dungeness crab combination trips on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $60.00/adult and $45.00/children 12 and under. They have been reporting crab limits and plenty of sand dabs on the combination trips. Their whale watching/ocean excursions also will run on weekends from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1-3 p.m. for $35/adult and $15/children 4- to 12-years-old and children 3 and under free. Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay is offering a special whale watching and nature observation trip on Thursday with a 10:45 a.m. departure. Their regular whale watching trips are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. for $39/adults and $29/children 15 and under. During the week, a minimum of 10 passengers is necessary for a trip. Group discounts, private charters are available from their three boats ranging from 55 to 90 feet in length. A photographer will be available on most trips. The third annual Morro Bay Whale Photo Tour will be on board April 1 with a 9 a.m. departure. Interested persons should check out the website at www.morrophotoexpo.com/ to view photographs, workshops and more. A 10% discount is being offered for early booking of all 2012 rockfish 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
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass *** White Bass ** Striper ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Heavyweights at the coastal lakes are found at Santa Margarita with the Golden Empire Bass Club posting a pair of limits over 24 pounds this past Saturday with the successful anglers using umbrella rigs. Numbers of fat, healthy bass are found at Nacimiento with Larry Kerns jigging crawdad imitations for 61 spotted bass with the fish a bit deeper this week running from 15 to 40 feet. Kerns said, “The fish are white from holding in the depths, and they are burping up crawdads.” Drop-shotting around Heritage also is effective for bass to 2 pounds, and anglers also have been scoring with Roostertails on the surface near Bee Rock. San Antonio kicked out big limits to nearly 19 pounds during Saturday’s 101 Bass Tournament held out of Jim’s Pro Bass Tackle in Paso Robles. The next Best Bass Tournaments Central Coast Division tournament will be held at San Antonio on March 3. Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching. Nacimiento held at 777.30 feet and 69% capacity, San Antonio dropped slightly to 761.30 feet and 72%, Santa Margarita is at 78% and Lopez at 88%.
Call: (805) 238-1056 ext. 3, (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Bass *** Striper ** Sturgeon ** Catfish **
Sturgeon have been scattered throughout the Delta, and action was slow over the past weekend. Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said, “Not much is happening, but there have been a number of sturgeon marked near the Green Buoy off Ninth Street in the past few days.” The crabs are thick in San Pablo Bay and into the Napa River, but a few sturgeon have been taken on the Napa off Green Island Road with grass shrimp/eel combinations. A number of boats have been anchored between the Mothball Fleet and the Benicia/Martinez Bridge on a daily basis. James Smith of the California Dawn is moving to Martinez Marina this week, and he is starting sturgeon trips this Friday. Dockside Bait in Pittsburg said there have been quite a few boats out over the weekend, and the majority of fishermen have been heading west to Garnet Point and Grizzly Bay with grass shrimp or ghost shrimp combined with eel for sturgeon. A 9-foot sturgeon was released Saturday after traveling from the Firing Line to the Pittsburg PG&E Plant on the incoming tide. The anglers had to drop anchor and chase the fish down, and it took over an hour to get the fish to the boat for release. Small striped bass have been the rule. Mike Pipkins at Gotcha Bait said the sturgeon are spread out all the way from Sacramento to Alviso with the heaviest concentration in the area around Collinsville to Cache Slough. He said, “There were a reported 60 boats anchored in Cache Slough on Saturday.” A 30-inch striped bass was taken off the Antioch Fishing Pier, and catfishing is good near Discovery Bay out of Orwood Marina. Crappie fishing is taking off toward Discovery Bay north to White Slough. With the catfish biting, they are selling more clams and chicken livers. Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported a showing of striped bass in the San Joaquin River along the shoal. One angler caught and released over 30 fish to 8 pounds on white Fish Traps in the flats from the mouth of Three Mile Slough to Disappointment Slough on the San Joaquin River. The bass bite is picking up, and Fong has been flipping Senkos, although a 10-pounder was taken on a white Fish Trap while targeting striper. He said, “If the predicted 70-degree weather happens this week, the bass bite will break loose.” Clyde Wands and Bill Crooks trolled the upper Steamboat Slough area out of Hogback Launch Ramp on Sunday, and they worked hard for three striper to 6 pounds. Wands said the high boat in the area had six stripers, and most of the boaters came up empty. Also for largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The warmer trend of weather is starting the spring bite early, and the fish are getting more and more active while coming into the shallows. I expect that some fish will begin to spawn on the next full moon.” The swimbait bite is just starting, and Pringle has been scoring with the 5-inch Optimum Top of the Line in shad patterns on 20-pound Trilene 100% fluorocarbon up against the weeds. Pringle has been using the hook up style of swimbait to keep the bait from hanging up on the dead weeds. A slow presentation is necessary for bottom fishing with worms and jigs, and the crawdad imitation patterns of black/blue, burnt brown/orange and green pumpkin are all working. The half-ounce Persuader spinner bait with a Magnum willowleaf blade walked through the dead tules; and when the wind comes up, shallow crank baits in crawdad or bluegill patterns such as the Timber Tiger DC4 are working. The water is murky due to the lack of filtering weeds due to the cold weather die off, and as a result, the river doesn’t clear quickly after a big wind or tide. Pringle will be presenting a seminar at the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno at 6 p.m. Thursday.
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
Best Bass Tournaments at McClure on Feb. 18: 1, Terry Odom/Dennis Wainwright, 14.23 pounds; 2, Scott Burke/Garrett Maddex, 11.73; 3, Micky Armas/Sal Guzman, 10.61
101 Bass at San Antonio on Feb. 18: 1, Bryan Greer/Scott Mullins, 18.75 pounds (big fish, 5.99); 2, Jeff Rose/Jeff Zilenga, 14.92; 3, Herm Delore/Jeff Smith, 14.69
Golden Empire Bass Club at Santa Margarita on Feb. 18: 1, David Coy/Terry Williams, 24.64 pounds (big fish, 6.34); 2, Jason Westcott/Kyle King, 24.41; 3, Truman and Chris Lakin, 13.96
CSBA Fresno Chapter Derby at San Luis on Feb. 18: 1, Roger George, 22 pounds; 2, Louis Moosios, 6.0; 3, Roger Kier, 5.1 Fresno Bass Club at McClure on Feb. 19: 1, Nathan Harbison, 10.34 pounds; 2, John Schuler, 9.11; 3, Dan Marshall, 9.08; big fish, Bill Kunz, 2.90
Thursday: Captain Jack Yandell and Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters, Shaver Lake Techniques and History, 6 p.m. at Herb Bauer’s in Fresno
Thursday: Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, on Largemouth and Striped Bass Techniques, 6:15 p.m. at Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse
Friday-Sunday: Central Valley Sportsmen, Boat, RV and Outdoor Show at the Kern County Fair Grounds, info: www:calshows.com
March 1: Todd Wittwer on Bass Lake Trout and Kokanee, 6:15 p.m. at Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse
Saturday: American Bass Association at Pine Flat; Angler’s Choice/Golden Empire Bass Club at Santa Margarita; Angler’s Choice at McClure; Taft Bass Club at San Antonio; Angler’s Choice at Delta/Russo’s Marina; Christian Bass Federation at Don Pedro; SLO Bass Ambushers at Lopez; Tri Valley Bass Club at Nacimiento
Sunday: Fresno Bass Club at McClure; Angler’s Choice at Santa Margarita; Stockton Bass Club at Delta/Ladd’s Marina
March 3: Department of Parks and Recreation and Bakersfield Fire Department Trout Derby at River Walk Park in Bakersfield; Small Change Bass Club at Millerton
March 3-4: Hook, Line and Sinker at Delta/Russo’s Marina
March 4: Angler’s Choice at Don Pedro; California Bass Federation at Delta/Ladd’s; Success Bass Club at Success
March 10: Eighth annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby at Santa Cruz, info: www.letsgofishingradioshow.com; Best Bass Tournaments at Pine Flat; Western Outdoor News at Don Pedro; American Bass Association at McClure; American Bass Association at San Antonio; Western Outdoor News at Delta/Russo’s Marina; Sonora Bass Club at Tulloch; Visalia Bass Club at Kaweah
March 11: Fresno Bass Club at Don Pedro; Tracy Bass Club at Delta/Tracy Oasis
March 31: Department of Parks and Recreation and Bakersfield Fire Department Trout Derby at River Walk Park in Bakersfield
Fresno County: Avocado Lake; 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; Isabella Lake; Lake Truxton; Ming Lake; The Park at River Walk lake
Tulare County: Del Lago Park lake