Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
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Eastman bass bite excellent, and Pine Flat bass and trout hitting, Steve Newman said. San Luis stripers bite good, Mickey Clements said. New Melones bass munching and lake-record rainbow trout caught, Gary Hildebrand said. Don Pedro bass action improved, Walt Lee said. Bass Lake bass action surprising, Dave Hurley reported. Delta sturgeon action steady, Andy Doudna said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2 Catfish 2
The California Aqueduct continues to be less than stellar as most Central Valley striped bass fishermen are focusing on the good action at the main San Luis Reservoir. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported an improved striped bass bite with blood worms, lug worms and sardines along with Gitzits and bucktail jigs. The catfish bite has been slow, but the warmer weather should ramp up the whiskerfish action.
The popularity of the California Aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, and in order to maintain the right to continue to fish along these public areas, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite is hot with jigs or plastics on a Carolina-rig, and there is nice reaction bite in the first 1.5 hours before first light or at dusk with swimbaits such as Huddlestons or KeiTechs along with umbrella rigs and glide baits. One angler posted a 34-pound limit with a 10, a 6 and a couple of 5s. The action has been slow in the middle of the day, and if you find the fish and they don’t bite, either stay with it to get one to go or come back later in the day and try again. There have been fish holding on the bottom between 30 and 50 feet, and if you can get one to go, they will start biting. Natural colors such as peanut butter and jelly, greens or browns are working.”
The lake held at 59 percent this week.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
The lake remains very slow with the exception of a few small bass from the shorelines along with bluegill. Fresno-area bass fishermen are bypassing this lake and its limited pool to take the drive north to Eastman for the possibility of a quality largemouth. The lake rose slightly to 23 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
The bass and trout bites are showing signs of life with Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures finding a pair of quality rainbows on a recent trip out of Moccasin. Bass fishing is improving with Walt Lee of the Kerman Bass Club reporting good action for largemouth bass in excess of 7 pounds during Saturday’s tournament. Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits was prefishing for the upcoming New Jen tournament and he found good action with jigs, plastics on the drop-shot or shaky head at depths from 50 to 75 feet. The Purple Hornet jig was the top producer along with the Fatty Worm. The lake dropped slightly to 82 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2
At Lake Isabella, Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported the best action has been for catfish with clams or frozen shad, and the crappie bite should start soon with the springlike weather. A few planted trout are found from the banks with Power Bait. The upper Kern River is fishing well for quality rainbows with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, live crickets or Roostertails. The RiverWalk Park was stocked last week, but heavy fishing pressure within the first few days has removed many of the planted rainbows. At Hart Park and Ming, Power Bait, Power Bait, Mice Tails and Sierra Slammers in red/gold or pink are all working. Buena Vista is also expected to be planted this week, and with the warm temperature, it is important to get on this lake early in the morning. A few crappie are taken on live minnows at Buena Vista. Lake Isabella held at 29 percent.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Kaweah is the location for a number of upcoming bass tournaments including the Central Valley Kayak Fishing on Feb. 11 and Success Bass Club on Feb. 25. The lake held at 13 percent. When the lake is this low, there are limited locations holding the best quality fish. The planted rainbows remaining in the lake are moving up the river arm.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Bass fishing remains fair with plastics being the top producer, but the reaction bite should improve with the warming temperatures. The spawn may occur earlier this year if the weather remains warm. Trout fishermen continue to score quality planters with Power Bait, nightcrawlers or Kastmasters. The lake rose slightly to 17 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 1 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
There are several bass tournaments scheduled on the lake during the month of February including Best Bass Tournaments and the Sonora Bass Club on Feb. 10 and the Fresno and Kings VIII Bass Clubs on Feb. 11. Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits and the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “The bass action has been hit or miss with the best fishing with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot or shaky head at depths from 35 to 60 feet.” 37 teams participated in Saturday’s New Jen tournament with 35 teams weighing in fish with a 2.08-pound average with the winning limit over 14 pounds. The lake held 66 percent.
The McSwain Marina reported slow trout action as the last plant occurred on Jan. 4. A trout plant is anticipated prior to mid-February, but with the overall lack of planting in the past year, trout anglers are picking up a few fish at best per outing. Anglers should check the marina for upcoming trout plants. The marina and café are open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striper 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The bass bite continues to be slow after several months of solid action for spotted bass. The bass are spread throughout the lake, and it takes effort to locate groups of fish. Anglers have to move continually to locate the bass, and the best action has been with Ned Rigs. Striped bass have been spotted on the Madera side near the dam and in Finegold and Squaw coves by bass anglers, but they have been unwilling to hit swimbaits at 20 feet.”
The lake held at 71 percent this week.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
For the third time this season, the New Melones lake-record rainbow trout was eclipsed with the latest version topping the previous record by over 4 pounds. The irony of this catch is that it was taken by a fisherman targeting big bass. Overall, the trout bite is slow, but the few fish taken are quality.
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “January 2018 has showed that if 2017 was a great year for trout, then it should carry well on into this new year. Here we are at the end of January with a record rainbow trout that has blasted the Melones Lake record by 4 pounds, 6 ounces. Chris Peterson of Folsom was on the main lake on Jan. 25, and at 9 a.m. while bass fishing with one of our veterans, Peterson saw some shad on the surface of the cove. They motored over and came up with a plan to bring his presentation from the shore in toward the shad. He dragged a bladed chartreuse Voo Doo chatterbait into the shallows, and line began peeling off of his reel. After setting his hook, Chris was thinking, ‘I’ve got a really nice bass on the end of my line,’ turning his pole into a circle hook. As he brought her in closer and seeing color, he realized a nice-size trout was on his line. After landing her, Chris thought he may have a record but wasn’t sure so had his partner look up the records for the lake and told him 9 pounds 10 ounces is the current record. The new lake record is 27 inches in length with a 21-inch girth. Peterson released the record rainbow after the weight, length and girth had been measured, and photographs were taken.”
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing found less than stellar action while trolling with big planer boards near the shorelines. He said, “I got into the shorelines as close as possible, and even put blade/’crawler combinations and shad on the downrigger without action. After three hours of this, I switched over to my custom spoons on leadcore for our only fish of the day. We went into one area, and right away, the rod just got buried, and we landed this fish. Another rod bent double, and the big fish jumped right out of the water after the hook was set. This trout came unbuttoned. We did see evidence of small fish dimpling on the surface near the Tuttletown launch ramp, and there was a report of a plant of small trout in the area.”
For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service reported phenomenal bass action in the great weather conditions. He said, “We are using mostly finesse techniques from soft plastics on a shaky head or Texas-rig to jigs along with Senkos, and there are plenty of better-than-average spotted bass in the 3- to 4-pound range out there. I expect the reaction bite to be starting soon, and we tried to pick up a big kicker with reaction baits during Saturday’s California Tournament Trails tournament. We ended up with a 17.43-pound limit, but the winning limit was over 26 pounds as they had 10.8 pounds in the box within their first five casts.”
Crappie fishing has been fair, but a lake record 2-pound 6-ounce crappie was landed by Roger Stewart of River Pines this week.
The lake held at 83 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Pine Flat is coming on as a quality bass option while the best grade of fish remains at Eastman for Central Valley anglers. The lack of rainfall and warm temperatures are drawing the fish closer to the shorelines and into the shallows, opening up a variety of options for success.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “At Pine Flat, the swimbait bite is hit or miss, but there are bass holding from 5 to 50 feet. The most consistent depth has been from 30 to 40 feet with Ned Rigs, Texas rig or jigs as the water is warming up. The topwater bite remains slow, but the action is consistent throughout the day from the main lake to the river arm. A few crappie are showing up near Trimmer on small grubs on a 1/16-ounce jig head, and they are either suspended at a depth to 20 feet or holding in the trees. Trout action remains the best in the area with trollers finding the planted rainbows from Deer Creek to the dam at 4 to 5 colors of leadcore or around 20 feet in depth with Wedding Rings in orange, red or green or Cop Car in Apex or Needlefish are also working. The overall trout bite has slowed a bit, but it still the best in our area.”
Pine Flat rose slightly to 51 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
San Luis Reservoir is the place for striper fishing in the Central Valley, and big fish continue to be caught and released at the lake on a weekly basis. With the recent run of spectacular springlike weather along with the high-water conditions, local striper fishermen are flocking to the big lake and avoiding the California Aqueduct and the O’Neill Forebay. The topwater bite has slowed overall, but there have been trophy linesides landed on the surface along with drifting jumbo minnows, trolling minnow plugs and casting swimbaits.
Perry DiBenedetto of Felton was out on his float tube on Saturday, and he was towed around for 15 minutes after hooking a 34.5-inch, 20-pound striped bass on a topwater JKings lure in chartreuse. After landing the quality striper and taking a few photos, DiBenedetto released the fish back into the water after 30 minutes of resuscitation.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported an improved troll bite with the new Lucky Craft Pointer 125 XD, P-Line Predator Minnows or umbrella rigs. He said, “Jumbo minnows have also been popular, and those drifting minnows are also scoring.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that he took out Steve Wilkens and Jaya Tressler of Morgan Hill and that they landed/released over 25 fish trolling custom lures in shad colors. “Things are changing right now, as the topwater bite has faded , algae is beginning to form quickly and the fish are feeding on the silverside minnows. The full moon in a clear sky had a big effect, too. These early conditions and a water temp of over 58 degrees are not the usual patterns for this time of year. I know guys are hearing glowing reports but the bite can be challenging if you’re not dialed in,” George said. He will be starting an on-the-water, hands-on Downrigging 101 for Stripers class in about two weeks on San Luis Reservoir. Classes will be 5-6 hours and limited to 3-4 anglers, and he will cover the basics of downrigger use, sonar, boat handling, lures, setups and key areas to fish – with the last two hours of the class hands-on fishing.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “San Luis remains hot, and anglers are tossing ripbaits in white, ghost minnow or shad patterns at depths from 5 to 10 feet. Trollers are working far deeper with umbrella rigs or minnow plugs.”
Not much change at the O’Neill Forebay with undersized striped bass in the 8- to 10-inch range being omnipresent with anchovies, pile worms or chicken livers. There are a few legal stripers over 18 inches taken on topwater lures in the early mornings, but most Central Valley striper fishermen are avoiding the forebay due to the better quality of lineside available at the big lake.
The lake held at 85 percent despite releasing water due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun reported a surprisingly good bass bite with ripbaits, Eco-rigs, Ned Rigs or 5- to 6-inch Senkos in 10 to 20 feet of water. The People’s worm in brown/purple is a good option. Coves adjacent to creek channels are holding bass. The water temperature is at 47 degrees – much warmer than normal for this time of year. The launch ramp is at its lowest level with the bottom of the ramp broken off, but a boat can be launched with care. There are icy conditions on the ramp in the mornings. The weeds are basically absent so plastics on the drop-shot or dart head are a possibility. The lake rose slightly to 53 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com.
Kaiser Pass Road closed two months ago, and access to the area will be limited to snowmobile. Edison is at 33 percent, Florence remains at 2 percent and Mammoth Pool is at 12 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
The kokanee bite has continued through the winter months at Shaver Lake when normally the fish don’t emerge until April at the earliest at the majority of California lakes. The consistently warm weather with a minimum of cold may be the reason for the action. Bank anglers willing to bundle up and fish along the shoreline between the Sierra Marina and the dam are rewarded with a few planted and/or holdover rainbows on floating marshmallow/nightcrawler combinations or with trout dough bait.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “I had two reports of successful kokanee fishing from the island into Stevenson Bay at depths from 27 to 32 feet. One boat produced 12 kokanee to 13 inches running pink hoochies tipped with shrimp-scented corn behind a blade while the other boat started at the island at 32 feet in depth, and when they entered Stevenson Bay, they pulled up to 27 feet for 14 kokanee within 4.5 hours using red-beaded spinners tipped with corn behind a blade. They also released a small brown and three rainbows to 14 inches. Both boats kept their two limits of kokanee.”
The main Sierra Marina ramp is out of the water, but the auxiliary ramp is good to launch despite the lack of a courtesy dock. A webcam of the lake is available at sierramarina.com/camera.html updated every 20 minutes.
Thursday at 6 p.m. at Herb Bauer, Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service will discuss the expected water levels for Shaver from spring to fall, trout plants forecast by both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project, and techniques for both rainbows and kokanee success.
The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will release the first of its trophy plants sometime in early spring, and the rainbows range from 3 to 10 pounds. Shaver held at 43 percent.
Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937
The Central Sierra trout season is now limited to the lower-elevation lakes of Bass and Shaver as the road to Courtright and Wishon closed on Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 2
The Huli Cat continues to operate sand dab/crab combination trips until the rockfish opener, and will run the deepwater trips for petrale sole when the weather conditions allow.
All party boats in the area will be running whale watching and nature trips during the winter months, and the Salty Lady, now captained by Jerad Davis, has also docked in Pillar Point for the whale watching season.
The Maverick’s Big Surf Contest off Pillar Point is still a possibility until the end of February if the conditions are right. If the event happens, the local party boats will be taking out passengers for a bird’s eye view of the event.
Further north at the Pacifica Pier, Rob Chaney of the Rusty Hook reported decent surf perch action with Berkley Gulp! Products, but the striped bass remain slow. Dungeness crab continue to come from the pier and the rocky outcroppings with snares. He said, “The weather has been beautiful here, and we sold at least 30 snares on Sunday morning.”
Striper 2 Surf Perch 2 Crab 2
It was all sand dabs over the weekend as the Check Mate and Caroline combined for three trips with a total of 36 anglers for plenty of sand dabs along with 151 Dungeness and 16 rock crab fishing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament is this weekend, and nearly all of the hotel rooms will be accounted for by tourists and crew for this big event.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting said, “In Monterey Bay, Dungeness crab remains on the menu though crab numbers are lower than were counted earlier in the season. The crab are dispersing as the season proceeds. Still, crabbers are pulling tasty Dungies from pots laid off The North Coast of Santa Cruz, near the Soquel Canyon edges, straight out of Moss Landing and from the the flat areas off the rocky headlands of Point Pinos. Crabbers are capturing fewer crabs per pot, and many are somewhat ‘soft’ as they go through the molting process.”
Surfcasters are just beginning to hit their stride along the beaches ringing Monterey Bay. From Davenport Landing down to Carmel Bay, surfperch are on the bite. Last week’s flurry of striped bass has slowed down, with just a few small bass reported caught by surfcasters below Moss Landing this week. The barred surfperch however are increasing in number and size at most of the “regular” surfcasting sports around the bay.
After a big swell like we had last week, it sometimes takes a few days for the nearshore water to clear of sea grass and kelp. Beaches near Santa Cruz were mostly clean by mid-week and some impressive catches were recorded. Peter Kellison from Aptos found success at his favorite local beach. Kellison reported, “One end of the beach was nothing but seaweed and junk so I moved down to find clean water.” Apparently, that was the right move because Kellison found an epic sunrise barred surfperch bite. “It was on fire this morning! No stripers but lots of big slab perch.” Kellison relied on GULP! Camo Sandworms in the 2-inch size to get the job done.”
The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest is on March 10, 2018, and the contest is limited to the first 300 entries with proceeds from the event going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Information: theletsgofishingradioshow.com.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 1 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina had a great day Saturday with four slot sturgeon from 41 to 46 inches along with an undersized and a green sturgeon released. This was the second green sturgeon released in the water off his boat in the last two trips. They also landed an 18-pound striped bass, and the angler was a cancer survivor who was thrilled with the largest striper of his life. Slate was away from all of the boat traffic in San Pablo Bay with Loch Lomond mud shrimp.
Speaking of Loch Lomond mud shrimp, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle said, “Live mud shrimp is on its way to the shop on Monday, and we should have live mud shrimp throughout the week according to our supplier in the Pacific Northwest. Sturgeon fishing has been better than stripers, and there wasn’t a ripple on the water on Sunday. Tommy Glaser was out on the water on Sunday, and he had landed a couple of legal sturgeon.”
Captain Chris Smith of the six-pack Defiant out of Martinez went into San Pablo Bay on Saturday for two legal sturgeon at 48.5 and 41 inches along with five striped bass. He said, “Newlyweds Ward and Amanda Shelton had never fished for sturgeon before, and they were the only two to land a legal sturgeon. All of the good bites came on their side of the boat during our third open load of the season.”
Captain Jonathan Smith of the Happy Hooker went out with an open load for Saturday of the Super Bowl Derby, and they ended up releasing 12 bass, keeping three stripers in the 4-pound range along with a 41-inch keeper sturgeon and releasing two shakers. They made a move at the end of the day that paid off with the legal sturgeon.
San Luis Obispo
The San Luis Obispo harbors will be running whale watching and nature trips until the rockfish opener in April. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis is also running crab/sand dab trips through March. With the rockfish season closed, the majority of fishing action is from the shoreline with Berkley Sand Worms or Camo Worms along with blood worms and lug worms when they are available.
Bass 2 Striper2 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The 34th annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon (aka Super Bowl) Derby was the exact opposite of the 2017 event as the weather conditions couldn’t have been better with warm temperatures throughout the day and even into the evening. Last year’s derby was impacted by inclement weather and wind over the weekend after experiencing tremendous weather during the 2016 event. The weather must have been an incentive for more participation this year as there were 1,041 participants for an increase of 190 entrants over 2017.
As a result of the increased participation, the top prize money rose to $6,507 from $5,318 in 2017. Anglers went out in search of the 55-inch target length starting at 7 a.m. Saturday through 1 p.m. Sunday and many participants fished throughout the entire 30 hours of the event.
Andy Doudna, organizer of next month’s Addathon Ironman Sturgeon Derby out of Pittsburg, said, “What an epic Super Bowl Derby as weather was awesome, with good fishing. We had one female that might have made it around the 55-inch target length, but she was full of eggs and not worth hurting for seventh place. I think we ended up with three shakers and 13 slots from 40 to 58.5 inches, but no other fish around 55 inches.”
The next major sturgeon derby on the Delta will be the spring version of the Addathon Ironman Sturgeon Derby on March 3-4.
Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrashers Fishing Adventures runs catch-and-release sturgeon trips, and he took out Captain Raith Heryford of RH Guide Service on Thursday along with a few of Raith’s fellow guides and cronies from the Yuba City area. Heryford said, “We all fish for sturgeon in the river, but we may land 14 sturgeon all season, and we landed 14 sturgeon today with several slot fish in addition to under- and oversized sturgeon. I would give this trip a 10 today.” Medinas added, “The tides are good, and when the water gets ripping, it is time to move into shallower water. Combinations of eel and salmon roe have been working, and the fish bit on both tides. There is a lot of grass out there, and there are also a number of big trees that are just visible on the surface. These logs have been on the water for a while, and they are getting heavy and water-logged. Some are over 20 feet long, and they are going back and forth with the tide. I took out two clients earlier in the week, and we released three slot and a pair of oversized in two different locations in Suisun Bay.”
Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg was out Sunday with the Fulkerson family, and Fred Fulkerson of Carmichael landed a 44-inch slot fish on roe with Mel Fulkerson releasing a 35-inch shaker. Clapp said, “The legal sturgeon was landed in 4.5 feet of water in the channel off of Seal Island on the outgoing tide. We weren’t out there 20 minutes before the slot fish was on. Once the tide changed to the incoming tide, the bite died down. We marked a lot of fish but getting them to go was another story. After we left Seal Island, I motored over to the Middle Ground, and there were fish, there but they didn’t want to bite.”
Striped bass action remains slow, but the bulk of the run is expected to begin soon. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported few stripers in the Liberty Island area, and he targeted the linesides on the San Joaquin during the past week.
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley reported the best striper action has been with frozen shad in the Pittsburg area.
The waters of the San Joaquin Delta continue to heat up, and the largemouth bass bite is ready to bust loose. Striped bass remain slow with the exception of a few linesides on bait, but the troll and casting bite should improve soon.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The fish are thinking, ‘Holy smokes, spring is early.’ We have added the Max Scent from Berkley to our arsenal of the ima Flit ripbait and the Rock N’Vibe Suspend, and this been doing really, really well for us on a tungsten head. We are using the Bearded Chigger Craw which has a skirt on it, and since it has so much scent, we are able flip it up near the banks on a Texas-rig. Areas I am looking for are around weeds as the fish are starting to migrate to the spawning grounds. They aren’t spawning, but they are moving to the secondary staging points around weeds so they can ‘belly up to the bar’ in order to feed. They are feeding on food that is found in the weeds, and some better than average fish in the 5- to 7-pound range are starting to show up. The Berkley General and Flat Dog are also working for us. I am not even targeting striped bass in the San Joaquin anymore, but the largemouth bite is getting better and better.”
Mathisen said, “We are on the verge of the black bass bite breaking out as the water temperature keeps rising. We found spots of 54- to 55-degree water, and with sunshine predicted every day until Feb. 20, the fish will be on the move. Jigs, swimbaits and chatter baits are all working, and the crankbait bite should take off soon. There have even been bass taken in isolated areas with frogs. The bass are all loaded with golden shiners or crawdads right now, and they are fat and healthy. The fish have moved up into shallower water, and since the weather will be so good for several weeks, they won’t back out again even if it gets cold again.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento was out throwing ripbaits in the San Joaquin River this past week, and he said, “It was slow with a total of 11 stripers between 18 and 25 inches on two trips. The key is to let the ripbait sink and pause since they wouldn’t touch a swimbait.”
Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton reported very slow action in the south Delta with few reports of striped bass, crappie, or bluegill.
Central Coast lakes
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 3 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, the spotted bass bite continues to improve with a larger cut of spot showing up. Bass in the 2- to 3-pound range have been taken more frequently, and even 4-pounders have been taken with jigs, Creature Baits or plastics on the Texas rig or drop-shot. The larger grade of bass may be a result of the high-water conditions over the past year, and the 14-pound limit in a recent tournament is comparable to any limit out of Central Valley lakes. The fuel dock is closed for the winter, and it is not slated to reopen until the spring. No reports of white bass. The lake held at 41 percent. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. At Lopez, the bass are holding in deeper water to 45 feet, and ice jigs, small spoons or plastics on the drop-shot are working for the largemouth. Rainbow trout from a recent plant have been taken on Power Bait or nightcrawlers, and another trout plant is expected this month. Bluegill, red ear perch and crappie are making an appearance on red worms or small grubs. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam. At San Antonio, fishing overall has been slow, but there is some whiskerfish action with cut baits or catfish dough bait along sloping banks. The striped bass bite remains very slow, and the largemouth and smallmouth bass action is minimal with the exception of a few fish taken on small spoons. The South Shore Marina is back on their regular winter schedule after the holidays, and it is open on weekends only from Friday morning through Sunday evenings. The lake held at 31 percent. At Santa Margarita, the reaction bite for bass has yet to emerge and working the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot, dart-head or shaky head are producing a few largemouth bass to 4 pounds. The panfish bite is also slow with few reports of catfish. Reminder: consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are now required before boat launching is allowed.
Delta/McAvoy’s Boat Harbor, 34th annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon (aka Super Bowl) Derby, Feb. 3-4: Saturday results: 1, Michael Charles, 54 11/16 inches; 2, Gary Gonsalves, 55 7/16; 3, Ron Bass, 55 5/8; 4, Dan Bocci, 54 1/16; 5, Brian Wortman, 53 15/16; 6, Michael Niemi, 56 1/8; 7, Tu Tran, 53 3/4. Sunday results: 1, Mark Barnes, 54 15/16; 2, Nicole Bass, 55 1/8; 3, Matt Gustin, 55 3/8; 4, Kevin Kondysar, 55 3/8; 5, David Westerman, 54 1/2; 6, Jerry Brannon, 53 13/16; 7, Anthony Gibbs, 53 9/16.
Pine Flat, Bass 101 Boaters Club, Jan. 27: 1, Jeff D’Alessandro, 12.93 pounds (Big Fish 3.69); 2, Tyler Wells, 11.04; 3, Xang Vang, 10.97.
Delta/Russo’s Marina, American Bass Association, Feb. 3: 1, Rob Matsuvra/Marc Jang, 19.20; 2, Chris Ball/Tommy Lopez, 17.75; 3, Ken Mah/Jason Austin, 17.05.
New Melones, California Tournament Trail, Feb. 3: 1, Mike Caddick/Jared Lane, 26.74 (Big Fish 10.85); 2, Jason Newby/Mike Blackwood, 19.02; 3, Keith Rakoncza/Kyle Rasmussen, 18.93.
Don Pedro, Kerman Bass Club, Feb. 3: 1, Mitch Melikian, 17.31 (Big Fish 7.24); 2, Cory Kerber, 15.32; 3, Justin Eslick, 10.31.
McClure, New Jen Bass Tournaments, Feb. 3: 1, George and Jordan Espino, 14.34 (Big Fish 5.51); 2, Jason Remmers/Alex Niapas, 14.32; 3, Bub Tosh/Bryan Coy, 13.95.
McClure, California Bass Federation, Feb. 4: 1, Mike Alvarez, 12.40 (Big Fish 3.53); 2, Bill Kunz, 11.85; 3, Ryan Voorhees, 11.84.
Feb. 8: Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods, 6 p.m. – Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guider Service on Shaver Lake trout and kokanee techniques
Feb. 10: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis; Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Angler’s Press; Delta/Russo’s Marina – Delta Bass Club; New Melones – California Bass Federation; Don Pedro – New Jen Bass Tournaments; McClure – Best Bass Tournaments/Sonora Bass Club; Millerton – Kern County Bassmasters; Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments
Feb. 11: McClure – Fresno Bass Club/Kings VIII Bass Club; Millerton – American Bass Association; Kaweah – Central Valley Kayak Fishing
Feb. 17: Delta/Big Break – Dan’s Delta Outdoors; New Melones – Angler’s Press; Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments/Merced Bass Club; McClure – Kerman Bass Club/Christian Bass League; Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club/Bakersfield Bass Club
Feb. 18: New Melones – Riverbank Bass Anglers; Pine Flat – Bass 101
Feb. 24: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournament; Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis; New Melones – Contra Costa Bass Club; Don Pedro – River Rats/Gilroy Bass Club; Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club/Cen Cal Bass Elite Tournaments; Lopez – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
Feb. 25: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation; McClure – Kings River Bass Club; Pine Flat – American Bass Association; Kaweah – Success Bass Club
March 10: Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby in Santa Cruz limited to first 300 entrants, theletsgofishingradioshow.com
Week of Feb. 18
- Fresno County: Shaver Lake, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Woodward Park Lake
- Kern County: Truxtun Lake, Ming Lake, Kern River Section 2, Hart Park Lake
- Madera County: Manzanita Lake
- San Luis Obispo County: Barney Schwartz Park Lake
- Tulare County: Mooney Grove Park Pond, Del Lago Park Lake
> = peak activity