Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a central San Joaquin Valley native and local fishing expert.
Delta bass action is good, Randy Pringle said. New Melones trout, kokanee and bass are hitting, Melanie Lewis said. Eastman bass bite has improved, while Pine Flat trout and bass are continuing to feed, Merritt Gilbert said. McClure bass are liking warmer water temps, Bill Holbrook reported. Coastal lakes are pumping out lots of quality bass, Larry Kerns said. Don Pedro King salmon and trout are kicking out limits, Gary Vella reported.
I went on an all-out fishing binge last week, citing my upcoming birthday to my wife Elaine as adequate reason to spend the time and money on the special blowout. I don't think I've ever fished six days out of eight before, but it was a wake-up call!
Right away I realized I was going to have to pace myself in this quest, especially after the first two days at the CSBA Derby at San Luis. Getting up at 4 a.m., eating different foods at weird times and rolling around in a boat all day in 10- to 15-mph, 2-foot swells left me feeling half sleep-deprived, starving and beaten. The good news was I got lucky and won the derby with a 20-pound-plus striper -- after 6 hours without a bite!
Two days later I went to Millerton, waking at 4 a.m., getting it all together again and telling myself it was going to be fun. Nope -- it was freezing all morning and the fishing sucked, too!
Still, not wanting to waste this golden opportunity, I mentally geared myself back up again and went back to Millerton on Thursday to check things out in a different area. I got one bite. Dragged back to Fresno, cleaned up the boat again and stored it before running home for some hot food, followed by time in the man cave while my batteries recharged and I contemplate my next conquest.
The sole bite Thursday buoyed my hopes of a good striper, and I ran back a third time to Millerton at daybreak Friday and a striper no-show bite! "How do you know if you don't try?" I told myself in a somewhat cloudy fishing-induced stupor on the way home.
Saturday was planned to be the crowning excursion of the week at San Luis -- striper fishing with my friend from the coast, Andy Bedell. Windy conditions were forecast, but I got up at 3:30 a.m. to meet him at the lake at opening time, to hit it hard and leave no stone unturned. The wind relented enough for us to launch by 7:30, and out we went in the moderate rollers to troll. By noon we had five fish to 7-8 pounds and we didn't see anyone else catching anything.
After we had pulled out the boat and were cleaning it, two guys pulled up with an old aluminum 12-foot boat and an antique 15-horsepower motor. I asked how they did, and they answered that they were worried and wanted to know if there was a size limit. I told him it was 18 inches minimum and he said, "No, I mean is there a maximum size limit you can keep?"
I laughed, but the other guy reached in the boat and pulled out a good 20-pound striper and humbly asked how big we thought it was? No depthfinder, no knowledge, no big engine, no custom rods, no nothing but a bucket of minnows and an anchor -- and they had outfished us!
Exhausted and beat up, I carefully pondered the eternal question of why some folks catch fish and others don't, even when they know nothing and shouldn't deserve it. I considered the incredible effort I had put in all week to get another big striper only to get upstaged by sheer luck. Is there any justice? I find that eating crow is an angling dish best served cold!
Roger George can be reached at email@example.com
* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin' in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper ** Catfish **
There have been more and more fishermen working the local canals, and Patrick Movey of the Fisherman's Warehouse reported the occasional striped bass is taken from the Delta Mendota Canal near Firebaugh. The best action in the canals continues to take place in the south aqueduct near the Buena Vista Golf Course with blood or sand worms. He said, "Lucky Craft LV 500s also are working, and there was a rumor of a 30-pound lineside." Anglers are experiencing numerous hookups, and although there are a number of undersized fish, an occasional 4- to 10-pounder is taken. Lost Hills, Temblor's Siphon and Tupman also are good options.
Bass *** Trout *** Catfish ** Crappie **
Bass action is improving rapidly with Merritt Gilbert reporting a pair of anglers landed 25 fish to 3.25 pounds using jigs, drop-shotting, tubes and Texas-rigged plastics at depths from 20 to 25 feet. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman's Warehouse touted drop-shotting with Robo Worms Baby Bass or Margarita Mutilators in the same depth range, but the best grade of fish are taken on jigs. Fish are moving into the shallows, and Strike King's Red-Eyed Shad lipless crankbait has been effective. 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. Interest in trout trolling has really picked up, and there have been a number of boats hooking up with ExCel lures, Needlefish, Dick's Trout Busters or blade/crawler combinations along the Buoy Line at three colors of lead core. 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 557.80 feet and 69%.
Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish ** Crappie **
The bank action for trout has been on and off with great action one day followed by slower fishing in subsequent days. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman's Warehouse picked the wrong day on a recent trip, and they experienced no action while fishing for just over an hour from the Swim Beach. Trollers are finding more consistent action with blade/crawler combinations as Merritt Gilbert reported a boat put in two limits of planters to 13 inches within 2 hours. The bass bite is showing signs of life with fish to 5 pounds landed during a recent small club tournament. Drop-shotting, jigs, tubes or Texas rigs are producing at depths from 20 to 25 feet. The lake held at 496.20 vertical feet and 38% capacity.
Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, Clovis 292-3474; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass *** Trout *** Kokanee * King salmon ***
Gary Vella of Vella's Fishing Adventures has been limiting out on king salmon to 2.5 pounds rolling shad up the river arm and into Woods Creek at depths to 60 feet. The lake will host a two-day tournament for king salmon this weekend. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported good rainbow action fast trolling heavy spoons at depths from five to seven colors from Hatch Creek to Mexican Gulch. For largemouth and spotted bass, the fish are moving up rapidly as the water temperature is approaching the mid-50s, but this week's cold front may push them back out into deeper water. 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 up, and the swimbait bite remains good with the 8-inch Huddleston ROF 12 swimbait in rainbow trout or the ABT Multi-Rig filled with shad-patterned swimbaits, The lake is at 785.83 feet and 75% capacity.
Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn' Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass ** Trout *** Crappie ** Catfish ** Bluegill **
Trout fishing remains the best thing going, and there is building anticipation for the huge fishing derby at the end of March. Sierra Gateway Sporting Goods in Lake Isabella touted rainbow/garlic Power Bait or Gulp! night crawlers in green are working well from the banks near Paradise Cove and the French Gulch Marina. Pete Cormier of Bob's Bait in Bakersfield said sales of Berkley's Mice Tails are high, particularly in pink/white or chartreuse/brown for the planters. Bass fishing remains very slow with no one talking about either success or failures. Crappie are still in the marinas for those with access, but we still are a few weeks away from the fish schooling into the submerged trees and cages in the main lake and creek arms. Catfish action also has been slow with most fishermen targeting trout. The lake held at 2,560.19 feet and 30% capacity. Pete Cormier touted the action on the upper river near the town of Kernville in response to heavy plants prior to last weekend's Whiskey Flat Daze and Rodeo. Live crickets, night crawlers or salmon eggs are working best. The lower river continues to produce with a variety of techniques near Rich Bar or Sandy Flats. Buena Vista has slowed for trout, but catfish, bass and crappie are still available. Senkos or drop-shotting are best for bass with crappie taken on small minnows. The local lakes have been heavily planted with trout, and there was a popular tournament at Hart Park in the past week. Mice tails or Power Bait in garlic and Chunky Cheese are popular baits. A trout plant is scheduled for Woollomes this week.
Applications for the 2012 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, to be held on March 31-April 2 and featuring a top prize of up to $40,000, are available at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce office and local merchants. Enter and get information online at isabellafishingderby.com. Be sure to get your entry in before 6 p.m. Thursday, March 1 to be eligible for the $500 early bird prize sponsored by the Cedar City Utah Chamber of Commerce.
The Bakersfield Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a trout derby at the River Walk on Saturday.
Bob's Bait (661) 833-8657, North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass *** Crappie ** Trout ** Catfish **
The bass are moving up into the shallows, and bass fishing is becoming more and more popular. Largemouths to 8.5 pounds have been landed in the past week on drop-shot plastics, and a pair of 9-pounders was taken on umbrella rigs according to Sierra Sport Fishing in Exeter. Numbers are found in by drop-shotting or with Senkos at depths from 20 to 35 feet, and larger fish are taken on reaction baits in the shallows from 10 to 15 feet. Trout from the banks remains popular with small minnows, Power Bait or night crawlers, and three limits of crappie were taken on small minnows and minijigs under lights in the evening from the shoreline. The lake rose 3 feet to 623.42 feet in elevation and 21% capacity.
Sierra Sporting Goods (559) 592-5922.
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish **
Rain hit the lake on Monday, and there were only a few boats on the water. The main attraction remains trout fishing from the banks with a plant within the past week. Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters are still the top offering with most fishermen lining up on the Rocky Hill side of the lake. Bass fishing is starting to perk up with the warmer water temperatures as the fish are moving into the shallows. The first tournament of the season is set for Sunday. Drop-shotting, jigs or spoons are the top techniques, and 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 1.5 feet to 615.75 feet and 30%.
Bass *** Trout ** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish **
The 55 degree water temperature has turned up the heat on the bass bite, and Bill Holbrook of Escalon Bait and Tackle put in quality spots to 3.5 pounds dragging Brush Hogs in watermelon candy or Senkos in color 330 at depths from 20 to 25 feet in Temperance Creek. He said, "The bite was very light, but since hook sets are free, I was pleasantly surprised to hook up when I reacted to any touch," adding, "The surprising thing was the plastics was deep inside the mouth." The Angler's Choice Western Rookie League tournament took place this past weekend, and the cold wind shut down the reaction bite, so teams found their best action on finesse techniques with Senkos, jigs, dart heads, Carolina rigs or drop-shotting. Trout fishing remains solid up the river arm with a variety of lures or blade/crawler combinations, but the planted trout bite from the banks has slowed down. Live minnows are popular for both bass and crappie, but there have been few reports of crappie other than under lights in the evenings. Live crawdads also are a staple of bait fishermen. The lake is stable at 807.06 feet and 65% capacity.
A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505, Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
With the recent heavy plants, trout action for planters remains healthy from the banks at the normal locations of A-Loop near the campsites, the Handicapped Docks, and near the McSwain Dam with rainbow or garlic Power Bait, night crawlers or Gulp! crickets. Crickets are becoming more and more popular. Trollers are blade/crawler combinations, small Rapalas tipped with a Gulp! worm, silver/chrome Kastmasters or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a dodger at depths to 20 feet over the main river channel from Gilligan's Island to the Chimney.
McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass ** Striper ** Shad * Trout **
Striper action remains an overall mystery, but there are signs of hope as a 15-pound and a 37.5-inch, 25-pound linesides were landed up the river arm on a long-casted plug. Overall the bite remains slow, but experienced fishermen are starting to pick up a few. Merritt Gilbert said, "It has been hard to locate the spotted bass; but once you find them, a 10-pound limit is possible." Anglers will have to search through a number of areas, but spots in the 2.25-pound range are possible. The fish are on the banks in the mornings before dropping back out to 30 feet in depth. Fishing pressure remains light with the improvement of action at Hensley and Eastman Lakes. Only a few boat trailers have been observed in the parking lots on a daily basis. The lake dropped 3 feet to 523.72 feet in elevation and 56% capacity with the launch ramp on the Second Ramp. Woodward Park remains popular for bank fishermen soaking Power Bait or night crawlers. The Lost Lake section of the river is now open 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.
Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838, Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass *** Crappie * Catfish ** Trout *** Kokanee ***
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported excellent trout and kokanee action on a recent trip landing healthy rainbows to 3.5 pounds. He fast-trolled heavy spoons near Mormon Creek, the Spillway and the Coyote Creek for the big rainbow, stating, "This fish was a real football at only 19 inches in length but 3.5 pounds." He marked schools of fish at depths from 30 to 60 feet, and they hooked up on kokanee in the 11-inch range on standard kokanee gear before scoring a 14-inch salmon on a rolled shad at 60 feet in depth. He said, "These fish are really healthy and particularly beautiful." Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp rated trout fishing as very good with most bank anglers posting limits with an average size of 2 pounds. The rainbows are right up in the shallows, spawning and chasing bait, and bank anglers have been using garlic Power Bait, Gulp Eggs, marshmallows and night crawlers. She added, "It is very important that your bait floats, so using small hooks, plenty of Power Bait and a worm blower to float a crawler on a 12- to 48-inch leader." She rated the bass action as pretty good, and the bass are moving up rapidly into the shallows. The best techniques remain jigs, soft plastics or swimbaits working along main lake structure with the California Reservoir jig in brown or green with a matching Yamamoto twin-tail grub trailer working particularly well. Lewis advised anglers to practice catch and release, especially with the largemouth bass since they are becoming increasingly scarce. Once again, there were no large catfish weighed in this week, but Lewis advised trying for catfish at depths from 25 to 75 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 starting to emerge, and Beetle Spins, 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 1,049.15 feet in elevation and 81% capacity. Smith reported anglers have been posting quick limits trolling in the backs of coves near the shoreline at Lake Tulloch.
Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn' Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass *** Trout *** King salmon ** Catfish **
The Trimmer area appears to be holding the majority of the lake's trout, and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, "Anglers have been scoring limits trolling, Apex lures, Rainbow Runners, Dick's Trout Busters, or blade crawler combinations on a setback of 100 feet while trolling at 1.5 to 2.0 mph within three-quarters of a mile from the Trimmer Launch Ramp." The majority of these fish range from 13.5 to 14 inches, and the occasional larger fish to 18 inches is found in the depths to five colors of lead core near the Power Lines or Levefre Creek. King salmon in the 14- to 16-inch range are located in the main lake at depths from 50 to 60 feet with Needlefish or Apex lures. Bass fishing has improved with 8- to 9-pound limits are possible with the best bite in the mornings with reaction baits such as umbrella rigs, but the fish move to the bottom by mid-morning, As the fish back out of the shallows, jigs, drop-shotting or Texas-rigged plastics are working best. Gilbert reported the best cut of fish remains in the river arm. The most consistent bass bite remains on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot. The lake held at 873 feet in elevation and 60% capacity. Interest in the lower Kings remains high, and spinners such as Joe's Flies, Roostertails and Mepps have been popular this week. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman's Warehouse in Fresno touted fly fishing action in the catch and release section of the river with elk hair caddis or vag wind caddis patterns. Avocado Lake remains popular for bank fishermen with Power Bait or night crawlers. The lower river continues to be planted on a weekly basis
Doyal's General Store 787-2387; Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay
Striper ** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie *
Overall the striper action continues to slow down, but Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said pile worms from the banks have been the most consistent technique for small fish. The size of the bass is decreasing with bank anglers scratching for barely-legal fish. Trollers are pulling broken-backed Rebels, P-Line Predators or Yozuris near the Trash Racks and Portuguese Cove, and striper also have been found in Portuguese Cove on jumbo minnows or spoons. In the Forebay, Ly Tu of Ly's Fishing Goods said fishermen have been taking limits of small striper on bait near the Rockwall. The water in the Forebay remains low, and the morning hours have provided the best action window. The main lake remains high, but it is releasing water and has dropped to 86% capacity with 12,094 acre-feet released.
Important note: All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo a mandatory inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels. These invasive species threaten recreational opportunities, the water delivery infrastructure of California and the aquatic habitat of San Luis Reservoir. Failure to allow inspection will result in the refusal to launch.
Ly's Fishing Goods (408) 629-9644, Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711.
Bass ** Trout ** Kokanee *
The lake held at 39%, and fishing is limited to float tubes or kayaks launched from the shoreline. A few planted trout have been taken by kayak anglers, but bank fishermen are struggling for the occasional planted rainbow. 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. Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net will be giving a seminar on Bass Lake trout and kokanee techniques on 6:15 p.m. March 8 at at the Fisherman's Warehouse in Fresno.
There are two scheduled blasts this week: one was Monday, the second is 3:45 p.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
The gate at Kaiser Pass is 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 the quad trips to 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. All of the lakes remain high for this time of year, but they are starting to drop with Edison currently at 54%, Florence at 27%, Mammoth Pool at 47% and Redinger at 94%.
Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee * Trout ** Smallmouth *
According to Bob Scharton of Herb Bauer's Sporting Goods, a record crowd of 163 people showed up for last week's Shaver Lake seminar at the store. The next opportunity to view this 1.5-hour presentation by Captain Jack Yandell and Nichols will be at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis on Saturday, March 31 at 1 p.m. Longtime Shaver Lake resident Lee Gates will be on the agenda and present a historic slide show at each event. Yandell and Nichols also will be using the slide show in their presentation. There will be current photos of Shaver along with photos from the late 1800s. Nichols will provide photos of the lake bottom, cover the hot fishing spots of the lake, and what it takes to catch the trophy size trout. Yandell, Shaver Lake's resident kokanee expert, will review the progress of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project, a slide show of last year's trophy trout that were caught, his recommendations on catching big fish and the use of the down riggers. Valley Rod will be holding a "No Tax Sale" during the seminar. Dick Nichols of Dick's Fishing Charters said, "The water level in Shaver continues to raise with expectations of planting to be on time. Huntington is at 94% capacity and continues to feed Shaver Lake," adding, "All is on schedule and anglers should be ready for some great trout fishing by mid to late April."
Experts are predicting Shaver Lake to be the largest body of trophy-size trout in California that has free access to the public. A few bank anglers have been scoring quality rainbows at Huntington near the dam. Shaver rose to 10%.
Dick's Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Young's Sporting Goods 841-8271; Jack Yandell 841-2522; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740
The gates to Wishon and Courtright are closed and awaiting a spring date in which to reopen.Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
The Half Moon Bay boats weren't as fortunate as the Monterey Bay boats over the weekend, and the wind and waves kept them tied up to the harbor. Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat said, "The winds shut us down on the combination trips on both Saturday and Sunday." He is hoping for a clean bill of health on the weather for an NOAA research trip for chilipepper and yellow tail rockfish on Tuesday. They have to head out 20 miles for the deep water chilipeppers and 10 miles for the yellowtail and blues. The window of weather will allow for resumption of the sand dab/Dungeness crab combination trips. Whale watching and sand dab/crab combination trips continue to be the only game in town until the anticipated salmon opener in April. Landings are starting to take reservations for an anticipated April 7 salmon opener. Captain Guy Anthony on the New Gravy is now 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. 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 also are on the move closer to the shoreline than they have been in the past several years. All the local party boats are booking whale watching, and the majority of boats also are taking reservations for the Mavericks surf competition and practice. Up the coast, Sheryl Jimno of the Rusty Hook in Pacifica said, "The water was very rough on Saturday with the high winds, and it was very cold on Sunday morning, but this hasn't stopped fishermen from throwing snatchers off the pier." Crabbing is still decent, and they are selling plenty of blood or pile worms for surf perch. She said, "There are more and more fishermen heading out with reports of an occasional striped bass from the beaches."
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
Todd Arcoleo of Chris' Landing in Monterey reported an easy 10 limits of Dungness crab and between 35 to 50 sand dabs per rod with their boat back in the harbor by noon Sunday before the winds picked up enough to shut down afternoon whale watching trips. Saturday was more of the same with crab limits and lights out sand dabbing. With more weather expected by mid-week, their next trips will be Thursday through Sunday. They are starting to take reservations for an anticipated April 7 salmon opener. Perch anglers are gearing up for the big Sand Crab Classic in Santa Cruz in two weekends. The event is limited to the first 300 participants, and information is available at: www:letsgofishingradioshow.com.
Ly Tu of Ly's Fishing Goods in San Jose reported some very large perch over 2 pounds have shown up in the past week along the Santa Cruz and Monterey shorelines, and an estimated 6-pound barred perch was landed in Monterey.
Chris' Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Striper ** Leopard shark ** Sturgeon **
The winds were brutal Saturday, and fishing activity slowed throughout the weekend. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker said, "I had to cancel our trip in the morning with the winds so bad that I didn't think I could make it out of the berth." Jim rarely cancels a trip due to weather, so the conditions must have been downright nasty. He is planning either a sturgeon trip or trolling for halibut and bass for Saturday, stating, "The water is clear enough in the bay, and I know of some bass that are starting to show up." If the bite is slow, they always have the option to pull the crab pots. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait in San Rafael likes the next series of tides starting today, and he is expecting some live mud shrimp in the shop. There were a number of reservations for Loch Lomond shiners for the anticipation of drifting for halibut or bass, but the shiners are still in the tanks as few fishermen actually picked them up due to the weekend's weather. Joel Sinkay of Leonard's Bait at Port Sonoma confirmed the heavy winds over the weekend, but he said, "They are killing the bass on bullheads in the slough at Buck's Launching just to the northwest of China Camp. Sinkay has plenty of grass shrimp, eel and ghost shrimp in the shop. Leonard's will be hosting its annual striper and sturgeon tournament in April, and on April 1 the target length of both species will be selected randomly. The closest fish to the target length is the winner with prizes for the top 3.Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli in South San Francisco reported very slow action in the south bay with only a couple of boats heading out Sunday with no fish reported. Perch action is the best thing going from the end of the pier or along the shorelines. The bait stealing crabs are still thick in both San Pablo Bay and the south bay, and fresh water flow is needed to flush them back out into the ocean. Perch fishing remains outstanding with pile worms or grass shrimp from the shoreline access areas throughout the bay, but the best locations have been the Alameda Rockwall, Treasure Island, Point Molate and Sausalito.
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 Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $60/adult and $45/children 12 and under. They have been reporting crab limits and plenty of sand dabs on the combination trips. Their whale watching/ocean excursions 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's regular whale watching trips are 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 April 1 with a 9 a.m. departure. Visit morrophotoexpo.com to view photographs, workshops and more. A 10% discount is being offered for early booking of all 2012 rockfish trips.
Virg's Landing, (805) 772-1222, (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing (805) 595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch (805) 595-7214
Bass *** Striper ** Sturgeon ** Catfish **
Sturgeon fishing was very slow over the weekend, and actually over the past several days with crabs plaguing the lower end of the system near the Mothball Fleet or grass and debris hanging up lines in the Rio Vista/Pittsburg area. Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait confirmed the slow sturgeon action with a few fish here or there, but striper fishing is picking up with some bass in the teens landed at the Middle Grounds and near Roe/Ryer Islands on splittail or bullheads. A 7-pound striper was taken on a bullhead at the Fleet by a 9-year-old boy, and a 50-inch sturgeon also was landed at the Fleet in 14 feet of water. Lopez said, "This fish was very fat, and the sturgeon have been very fat and healthy lately." A 59-incher was released this week, and the fishermen said something to the effect of, "This fought harder than an oversized." The best action has been on the late night outgoing tide in the shallows of Honker or Grizzly Bays. James Nguyen at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg said between the wind and the slow bite, they had few fishing customers over the weekend. Saturday was a day for hiding out of the wind for the few boats that went out, and there were no fish reported from either party boaters or six packs in the area over the weekend. Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said things haven't changed much from last week with the exception of more and more fresh striper in the 5- to 6-pound range showing up on mudsuckers, bullheads, Fish Traps or RatLTraps. He said, "The little bite of rain a while back put some silt in the water, and the temperature continues to rise, making the fish more active." He added, "The sturgeon are scattered from Freeport to Alviso, and they have had lockjaw over the past week, although they are jumping all over." Catfishing is picking up, and they are selling at least two 50-pound bags of clams per week where it was taking nearly a month to sell a single 50-pound sack." He thinks the catfish action will be good this year, and anglers also are scoring with anchovies or dip baits. Allison Shawnego at Hap's Bait in Rio Vista reported a 15-pound striped bass was taken off the shoreline near the Rio Vista Bridge, and sales of blood worms, pile worms and mudsuckers have been high. A 48-inch sturgeon was caught at Buoy 36A north of the Ryer Island Ferry by Bart Miller of Sacramento. Alan Fong of the Fisherman's Warehouse in Sacramento fished for striped bass this week in the Mokelumne and San Joaquin rivers, and they caught and released 25 linesides with nothing larger than 6 pounds. Clyde Wands, shallow water trolling expert, fished upper Steamboat Slough on Monday for two stripers, and he searched throughout the upper Delta area without marking any schools of striper. He said, "This is a very different year with no sizable accumulation of fish in the river." Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported very good bass action with a variety of techniques, and a top-water fish was landed on a buzz bait this week. He said, "This tells me that the fish are moving quickly." He thought the small series of fronts moving through northern California would put the fish on the bite, and he continues to score with a half-ounce Persuader spinner bait with a Magnum willowleaf blade slow-rolled along the bottom or ticking the tops of the weeds at depths from 5 to 10 feet with the Timber Tiger DC crankbait. Pringle continues to use the 5-inch Optimum Top of the Line in shad patterns, but he has switched over to 15-pound test Trilene monofilament to allow the bait to float up and get jerked back down. He is pitching the swimbait on the shorelines in the morning as the fish are moving up shallow. Creature Baits such as the Chigger Craw or Power Craw in black/blue, burnt brown/orange and green pumpkin all are working when moved slowly along the bottom. They have landed several fish in the 3- to 5-pound range in the past week to go with a large fish at 7 pounds.
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
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass *** White Bass *** Striper ** Catfish ** Crappie ***
The coastal lakes are popping with the spring weather, and a 5.4-pound smallmouth was caught and released on Monday in Harris Creek in Lake San Antonio on a jig in 8 feet of water. The river has been the top location for quality smallmouths, but the east walls also have been producing with jigs. White bass are showing up in numbers at Nacimiento, and trollers have been pulling white Roostertails or spoons near the mouth of the Narrows for whites to 2 pounds. Crappie action is also good at Naci with slabside to 2 pounds taken on crankbaits in the submerged timber in Las Tablas or Towne Creeks. Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club continues to drive over the hill to enjoy the great spotted bass action at Naci, and they caught and released 83 fish on Saturday working jigs at depths from 5 to 15 feet in depth. He said, "These fish are healthy, and although they are moving up, their tails are not beat up from setting up the nests." The next Best Bass Tournaments Central Coast Division tournament will be held March 3 at San Antonio.
A calendar of coastal tournaments is at my.calendars.net/cctsched/Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
Nacimiento held at 777.15 feet and 69%, San Antonio rose slightly to 761.70 feet and 73%, Santa Margarita is at 77.7% and Lopez is at 87.7%.
Important note: Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, women of childbearing age, children 17 and younger are advised not to eat any white bass or any black bass (spotted bass, smallmouth and largemouth bass), catfish, bluegill or other sunfish, carp or crappie from Lake Nacimiento due to elevated levels of mercury. Men and women beyond childbearing age are advised not to eat more than one meal of catfish, bluegill or other sunfish, carp or crappie.
Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Mid Valley Bass Club at Eastman on Feb. 18: 1, Kevin and Austin McGraw, 15.80 pounds; 2, Jim Myers/Ron Reich, 13.42; 3, Matt Dolph/Jim Stitch, 13.19 (big fish 6.04)
Sierra Bass Club at Pine Flat on Feb. 18: 1, Hoot Gibson, 5 fish, 7.70 pounds; 2, Gary Johnson, 5, 7.50; 3, Ryan Hennecke, 5, 7.28 (big fish 2.35)
Kings River Bass Club at Eastman on Feb. 19: 1, Jason Sanchez, 7.96 pounds; bigh fish, Martin Hubert, 5.42
Angler's Choice/Western Rookie League at McClure on Feb. 25: Tie 1, Seth Rowe/Mike Alvarez and Jaime Caratachea/Adam French, 10.11 pounds; 3, John Gentry/Ryan Vilmur, 10.09; big fish, Scott Lops, 4.03
Thursday: Eric Kaai on Kayak Fishing Techniques, 6:15 p.m. at Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse
Tuesday: Kokanee Power Meeting at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Shaw Avenue, 5 p.m. no host dinner, 7 p.m. meeting
March 8: Todd Wittwer on Bass Lake Trout and Kokanee, 6:15 p.m. at Fresno Fisherman's Warehouse
Saturday: Department of Parks and Recreation and Bakersfield Fire Department Trout Derby at River Walk Park in Bakersfield; Small Change Bass Club at Millerton
Saturday-Sunday: Hook, Line and Sinker at Delta/Russo's Marina; California Landscape Company Salmon Derby at Don Pedro
Sunday: 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: 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: Lake Woollomes
q = quarter moon; > = peak activity