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. Have a photo of a recent catch to share? Email it to email@example.com with “fish photo” in the subject line.
Best bets Delta bass still hitting, Alan Fong said. Pine Flat trout fishing improved, Merritt Gilbert reported. McClure bass on “a wide open bite”, Mike Gomez said. Kaweah kicking out some huge bass, Dave Hurley reported.
Expanded online edition of The Bee’s weekly Fishing Report is posted Tuesdays at fresnobee.com/sports
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Stripers 2; Catfish 2
The flows in the California Aqueduct have dropped during the past week, but they are still muddy. In the northern section of the aqueduct, fishing interest remains minimal, but the overall result of the heavy water movement through the water conveyance system will clean out some of the debris that has accumulated in the channel.
In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported one fisherman landed 16 striped bass using lures, but only one stretched to the 18-inch minimum.
Bass 2; Trout 2; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The lake is finally showing some life with largemouth bass getting somewhat active with reaction baits, particularly in the warmer waters in the afternoons. Senkos, jigs, Alabama rigs or crankbaits are producing bass to 2.5 pounds after 2 p.m. If the weather holds, the bite should be outstanding in the coming weeks.” The lake dropped 6 feet to 564.85 feet in elevation and 76 percent. A trout plant will occur on both sides of the lake during the week of March 12.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 1; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2
The lake receded 10.5 feet to 491.24 feet in elevation and 33 percent this week, and the bass bite has yet to break out; however, the action should be outstanding in the spring with some banks inundated for the first time in several years. A trout plant is scheduled for the week of March 12.
Call: Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 0; King salmon 1; Crappie 2
After a week of closure due to the lake spilling over, the Blue Oaks launch ramp is open on the upper ramp, but the launch ramp status is subject to closure due to the changing lake elevation. Water releases continue in anticipation of snowmelt in the coming weeks, and the lake is only 6 feet from full at 824.39 feet in elevation and 96 percent of capacity. Buoys have been installed at the Blue Oaks ramp, and boats need to stay between the red and green markers as the water is very shallow on both sides of the channel. The area around the spillway is closed to the public at the present time. Updated information on the lake’s status is available at www:donpedrolake.com.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing took out clients on Friday, and he said, “The Blue Oaks ramp just opened on Friday at 3:30 p.m. as they were setting the buoys in the channel. It was a tough bite for us, but the conditions are really good with 5 to 6 feet of visibility and a water temperature between 53/54 degrees. Most of the floating debris has cleared out. The falling water levels may account for the slower fishing since normally the bite will improve with rising water and slow when the lake is dropping. We started off near Blue Oaks with heavy spoons on leadcore, and on our way out near Big Oak Island, we landed our first rainbow. Our next rainbow came in the same area, and it was a beautiful 20-incher that acted just like a steelhead, coming out of the water several times. We ended up with only four fish with another three or four hookups that came unbuttoned. We tried a number of different locations throughout the day. We marked fish, but the only area that seemed to hold bait was near Blue Oaks Island since there were grebes diving in the area. I think the bite will be really good this spring, and the rainbows we are landing are in great shape.”
Mike Gomez at the Bait Barn in Waterford added, “No one has been bass fishing on Pedro this week with the closure, but I plan on being here this week to throw the River2Sea SWaver in the shallows since the fish are moving up. The trout bite from the banks at Don Pedro has been good with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers.”
Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan 209-586-2383; Gary Vella 209-652-7550
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2; Trout 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
Most fishing action in Kern County remained at the River Walk or Buena Vista with the California Aqueduct and Lake Isabella creating minimal interest. There are few reports out of Lake Isabella during the past week of cold water, but this will change within the next few weeks. The 28th annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby is April 8-10. No entries will be accepted after 7 a.m. on April 7. Information and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com/online-registration. Campgrounds open during the derby are Boulder Gulch, Camp 9, French Gulch, Paradise Cove, Pioneer Point and Tillie Creek. To make reservations please call the Sequoia Recreation Office at 760-376-1815.
The lake dropped 3 feet within the week to 2,579.34 feet in elevation and 54 percent. The Bakersfield Firefighters Trout Derby on Saturday drew 500 anglers to the small lake, and 13 of the 25 tagged fish with values to $1,000 were landed during derby hours. Trout action at Buena Vista is fair with Power Bait or Berkley Mice Tails as well as lures.
The upper or lower Kern rivers are running high and muddy, and there is minimal interest. The Fred Hall Show makes its debut this weekend at the Kern County Fairgrounds from Friday through Sunday with several fishing booths and seminars present throughout the show hours. Information is available at www.fredhall.com/bakersfield.
Call: Bob’s Bait 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812
Bass 3; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2
The big news of the week was the 17.2-pound largemouth bass caught and released by Gary Wasson of Kingsburg on an Eco-Pop umbrella rig loaded with Keitech 3.8-inch swimbaits. The huge fish was landed on Thursday during pre-fishing for the weekend New Jen tournament. Wasson and partner Daniel Moreno won the 19-boat tournament with a limit of 14.11 pounds – over 2.5 pounds less than his single largemouth bass. Reaction baits are starting to work as the fish are getting more and more active. The lake dropped 5 feet this week to 665.15 feet in elevation and 50 percent. A trout plant is scheduled for the week of March 12.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Bass fishing is improving with deep-diving crankbaits at depths from 15 to 18 feet, and the warmer temperatures will continue to improve the bite. The lake dropped 2.5 feet to 634.74 feet in elevation and 58 percent of capacity. Chuck Stokke added, “The Tule River should also improve when the flows slow down.” A trout plant took place at Murry Park Pond last week.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626
Bass 3; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Kokanee 1; Crappie 2; Catfish 2
The bass bite remains outstanding at Lake McClure, and there are several bass tournaments scheduled in the coming months in order to take advantage of the solid action. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “The lake is wide open and the water is perfect between 54/55 degrees and 5 to 6 feet of visibility. Normally, McClure is crystal clear with over 15 feet of visibility, but the heavy inflow over the past several weeks has stained the water. We consider 3 to 4 feet of visibility stained, and there are some fishermen who want the wind to blow to create a mudline around the lake since the fish will move into the warmer water around the mudline. I prefer clearer conditions for a reaction bite. There haven’t been many bad days at McClure over the past months, and the action has been wide open with spotted bass to 6 pounds on a variety of lures. I plan on spending several days there this week, and my game plan is to toss the River2Sea Swaver, spinnerbaits, or chatterbaits in the shallows. The spotted bass are on a major feed right now. Alabama rigs or small swimbaits such as Kei Techs on a half-ounce jig head or a Strike King underspin are also effective in the shallows.” Trout action from the banks is also heating up with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake is currently at 844.68 feet in elevation and 85 percent as water releases into the Merced River continue at a rapid pace.
Trout plants have been absent since October and the bank action remains very slow. The action will not improve until the plants resume, but none are scheduled. There are small park-model rental cabins overlooking the lake that are currently under construction and slated to be open in the coming months. The Exchequer Bike Park will be opened with a constructed cross-country bike loop.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2; Striped Bass 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 2
The lake is releasing water down the San Joaquin River, and it dropped to 74 percent this week. The river arm is clearing up, but the grade of bass in the river arm is small. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The best fishing remains in the main lake with chatterbaits after 2 p.m. in the afternoons as the bass are moving into the shallows. There are some areas of clear water in the lake.” No striped bass reported. The lake is releasing water in order to keep up with inflow from the upper watershed, and there is up to 20 feet of snow at the higher elevations. The high water will contribute to an outstanding bite for all species in the upcoming months. The lake dropped 15 feet to 545.13 feet in elevation and 72 percent. In the San Joaquin River, the Sycamore Island Pond will be open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and all state holidays. Day passes are $9 and a season pass is $85. Passes can be purchased online or at the bait shop on the property. A DFW trout plant is scheduled this week at both Sycamore Island and Woodward Park ponds. There are new regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge only two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead are allowed with a total of four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 0
New Melones continues to rise, and it has come up another 7 feet during the past week to 1,015.67 feet in elevation and 67 percent. The lake should come close to full capacity if water releases are restricted as the inflow from snowmelt from the Stanislaus River watershed is coming. The lake is starting to clear up, but there is scattered debris floating on the surface throughout the lake with a water temperature ranging from 49 to 52 degrees. The upper ramp at Glory Hole Point, the Angels Creek ramp, and the Tuttletown ramp are all open with two docks in place on each ramp.
Trout fishing is best for trollers pulling shad-patterned spoons, Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler, or Rapalas from the surface to 15 feet in depth near protected coves or creek channels. The rainbows are holding near the surface, searching for the insects and other food sources that have washed into the lake. Shore fishermen are finding some success with nightcrawlers in combination with either trout dough bait or marshmallows along with casting heavy spoons such as a Kastmaster. Scent is important to entice strikes in the stained water.
The spotted and largemouth bass are scattered throughout the water column with the rising water levels as some are holding in deep water while others are shallow. As the water level becomes more consistent, the bite will improve. The cold water temperatures and flooded vegetation lining the lake require a finesse approach with weedless presentations such as a jig on a Bass Patrol Arkie head with a brush guard as the bullet-shaped weight does not get hung up on the grass on every cast. Carolina- or drop-shot rigs are also working with a long leader to avoid the grass on the bottom with a larger grade of bass found on Alabama rigs loaded with small Kei Tech swimbaits or River2Sea Swavers. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “I can’t wait to get back to New Melones this week to toss the SWaver as the fish are moving into the shallows.”
Crappie are showing up in the coves and creek channels around flooded vegetation and brush. Anglers are using small spinners or minijigs to locate the crappie before switching to live minnows. Glory Hole is now carrying medium and large minnows in their tanks. Catfishing remains slow, but a few whiskerfish are taken on a ball of nightcrawlers scented with various concoctions near moving water inlets.
Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan 209-586-2383
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Kokanee 0; Bass 2; Trout 3; King salmon 1; Catfish 1; Crappie 2
Trout fishing continues to improve at Pine Flat with some limits taken by trollers in the main lake. The upper lake is still loaded with debris, but the Trimmer launch ramp is open once again after a few weeks of closure.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The trout bite is holding up, and there have been some limits landed on Thomas Buoyants, Needlefish or Apex lures ran at 4 to 5 colors of leadcore in the main lake along Zebe and Lefebre creeks and from the Power Lines into Windy Gap. I haven’t heard of many reports near the dam, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the rainbows are there as well. The majority of trout fishermen are heading to Pine Flat right now, but there are a few boats running up the hill to Shaver Lake on a daily basis. The fish at Pine Flat are ranging from 15 to 17 inches, and this is the best bet in our region right now.”
Bass fishing is fair with some fishermen weighing in 9- to 10-pound limits while others are struggling. The reaction bite is picking up after 1:30 p.m. as the bass are moving into 8 to 10 feet of water. Chatterbaits, ripbaits and spinnerbaits are working for the reaction fish, but finesse techniques are bringing in the majority of bass, although the grade is smaller. Plastics on the drop-shot or jigs remain the top techniques for those working the bottom.
In the lower Kings River below the dam, the water releases have increased, but the river is planted with catchable rainbows on a weekly basis. Shore fishermen are scoring with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers or various spinners, and the lures have been more effective in the high water since it is easier to keep from getting hung up on the bottom.
The lake is currently at 75 percent of capacity and 906.58 feet in elevation, releasing water to prepare for the upcoming snowmelt.
There are special regulations in both the Kings River above and below Pine Flat Dam. The season is open from the last Saturday in April to Nov. 15 from Pine Flat Dam downstream to U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Bridge on Pine Flat Road with a five-fish limit. The Army Corps of Engineer’s Bridge is the first bridge to the west of the dam. The area from Cobbles (Alta) Weir downstream to the Highway 180 crossing is open all year with only artificial lures with barbless hooks with a zero limit. The Thorburn Spawning Channel, the 2,200-foot long channel located 5 miles downstream from Pine Flat Dam, and the reach of river within a 200-foot radius of the channel exit is closed to all fishing all year.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626;
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
There isn’t much more room to rise at San Luis Reservoir since the lake has come up to 99 percent capacity. Water exports will occur later in the spring, and the lake will drop considerably, but it has reached the high-water mark. Wind was the limiting factor over the weekend with the main lake closed on Saturday, but anglers were able to get out on Sunday morning before the wind blew them back to the safety of the launch ramps.
Trolling Alabama rigs loaded with small shad-patterned swimbaits are working at depths from 12 to 50 feet for linesides to 28 inches with the fish holding along point and deep flats.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said, “The trolling bite has improved with P-Line’s Predator Minnows or Lucky Craft 128s, and some trollers have been finding the stripers as shallow as 10 feet. Most are working at depths to 40 feet, and the best action seems to be in the back or the mouth of Portuguese Cove. The stripers appear to have moved into the newly flooded areas of the cove, and the mouth is always a good place to target since the linesides corral the bait into the cove. Bank fishermen are soaking live jumbo minnows at the end of Dinosaur Point, and we have been selling a good number of minnows.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the overall bite has been tougher this last week as the storm moved through. “The cold front affected the bite, but I expect it to resume with the coming nice weather and the high pressure front that’s settling in for awhile according to reports. The bite has been sporadic at times and sometimes it takes patience and the correct timing to hit it right,” George said.
The first annual How to Fish Striper Derby will be held at the Basalt Launch Ramp on March 19 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Event organizer Jesus Reyes Silva of JKingsLures said, “The entry fee is $35, and the payout will be the top three places.”
In the O-Neill Forebay, catfishing is improved with sardines, chicken livers, or prepared catfish baits from the shoreline area, and Clement reported a good largemouth bass bite with small Kei Tech swimbaits near the rockwall or along Check 12. The striped bass in the forebay remain undersized for the most part.
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711; Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com 905-2954; San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay wind conditions 800-805-4805
Bass 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
The lake is in great shape at 77 percent, but bass fishing remains very slow in the 44-degree water. The swimbait bite for the big spots is within reach as the magic mark is 45 degrees. The snowfall over the weekend will delay the action a bit further out. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com. The first bass tournament at the lake will be on April 2.
Call: Mike Beighey 642-3748; Bass Lake Watersports 642-3200
The final section of Kaiser Pass Road at Eastwood closed on Dec. 1 and access to Edison and Florence Lakes is limited to snowmobiles. Edison dropped slightly to 25 percent and Florence is at 8 percent. Mammoth Pool is nearly full at 98 percent. The snowpack on top of Kaiser Pass is reported to be at least 19-20 feet, and the opening of the road may be delayed past the normal Memorial Day opener.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 0; Trout 2
Snow fell at lake’s edge throughout the weekend as the snow levels dropped below 500 feet along the foothills. The snowfall kept boats from making the trek up the hill over the weekend, but Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There have been a few boats going east up the hill every day, and the only lake that is open is Shaver. Bank fishing has been slow with one pair of fishermen picking up three rainbows for four hours along the cold banks with trout dough bait.”
Best wishes to longtime Bee fishing report contributor and Shaver Lake kokanee legend Captain Jack Yandell of Captain Jack’s Tackle for a speedy recovery from a recent illness leading to a brief hospitalization.
A webcam of the launch ramp and parking lot is available at www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. Trophy trout plants from the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will occur within the upcoming months. The lake is dropping steadily at 53 percent with Huntington also dropping at 33 percent and frozen over.
Call: Dick’s Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Fish Box Charters 871-3937
The gates on McKinley Grove Road are closed, and there is no vehicle access to Wishon or Courtright until the gates reopen in the spring.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2; Crabs 2
“If we could only get the wind to lay down for a few days we could get out for sand dab/crab combinations, but that hasn’t been the case for the past few weeks. It is just spectacular in Half Moon Bay on March 1, but there hasn’t been much interest with the weather being consistently rough before this point,” said Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat. Mattusch’s boat is the only large party boat running the combination trips, and they will also operate crab-only or whale-watching trips until the April 1 rockfish opener below Pigeon Point.
Their last trip out was Feb. 4, but there are better times on the horizon with the arrival of rockfish season in local waters on April 15.
The Queen of Hearts out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the New Captain Pete and the Huli Cat are all willing to run the 18 miles to Pigeon Point for the opening two weeks of April given enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. Depth regulations have been increased to 300 feet waters below Pigeon Point and to 340 feet above Pigeon Point. One canary rockfish will be included in a 10-fish limit, and the ling cod limit has been lowered to two lings, both changes for the upcoming season. Mattusch is taking a canary rockfish research trip to the reefs near the Farallon Islands during the first weekend of March, and the data from these research trips have been used to adjust rockfish limits.
The Titans of Mavericks Big Wave Surf Contest, a staple of the Half Moon Bay community, will not occur this spring, leaving party boats to wait for rockfish season in order to create enough interest to start their motors.
Rob Chaney of the Rusty Hook in Pacifica reported good crab action from the pier with snares as one of his friends put in eight legal crab within less than two hours. The best action is toward the end of the pier, and the pier is filling up with anglers shoulder-to-shoulder on the weekends. Neon Sabiki rigs without squid are working for surf perch, and there is a larger grade of surf perch showing up along the coastline. Chaney said, “I was just given a 3.5-pounder, and the past couple of years, the perch are getting bigger and bigger.” Striper fishing remains slow.
Call: Happy Hooker 510-223-5388; Captain Roger Thomas, Salty Lady 415-760-9362; Emeryville Sport Fishing 510-654-6040;
Striper 2; Crab 3
Sand dab action has really improved with great fishing on Saturday with 600 sand dabs and 125 Dungeness crab for 20 anglers on the Check Mate while the Caroline posted 420 sand dabs and 59 crab for 14 anglers. Sunday’s trips were canceled due to the wind, but they are heading out on Wednesday as well as the coming weekend.
The 13th annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest is March 11 in Santa Cruz. This is an annual benefit for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project, and entries were limited to 300 participants. Weigh-in is 1 p.m. at Portuguese Hall, 216 Evergreen St. in Santa Cruz.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service reported, “Winter doldrums are nearly over, now that we have reached March. Monterey Bay anglers have kept themselves occupied with surfcasting for perch and the occasional striped bass, dropping pots for crab and searching for steelhead trout in the swollen streams and creeks.”
Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz is feeling positive about the upcoming season of fishing. He reported, “The weather is finally improving and there is a little more room to get out of the harbor. The tides are playing a role so make sure you check the soundings on the harbor web site. The Sand Crab Classic is coming up in March 11. We will have a nice supply of pile worms and shrimp for the tournament. The meeting for the State salmon season will be at the end of March and the Feds will meet the first week in April. The crab fishing has gotten better!”
Typically salmon season opens at the beginning of April, but low return counts in the Sacramento River over the past few years may result in a very short season this year, or staggered openings as the season progresses through to fall. Far Northern California areas are in even more dire straits, as the salmon counts for the Klamath River system were precipitously low last year.
Surfcasting reports were scarce last week. The Salinas river mouth area is always a good bet for big perch and striped bass, as are the beaches near the Pajaro River. A few stripers were caught from the beaches below Santa Cruz last week. Most are undersized and cannot be kept, but are still very exciting to hook up on with light perching gear.
When making your surfcasting plans, the common wisdom is that fishing will be best two hours before and two hours after high tide. Lately, experienced anglers have actually reported better fishing on the lower tides. “It’s easier to find the holes at low tide,” reported Austin Sprague from Aptos. Sprague has enjoyed a few good fishing days lately, catching and releasing over 10 perch per session as well as a couple striped bass.”
Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Bayside Marine 831-475-2173;
San Francisco Bay
Striper 2; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 2; Crab 2
The early returns from the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual Salmon Abundance Meeting on March 1 indicate that the ocean salmon season will be limited by the poor returns on the Klamath and Trinity rivers as well as the endangered winter-run. The Pacific Marine Fisheries Council will be announcing the season and restrictions within the coming weeks with the season-opener anticipated on April 1.
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle really likes the tides starting on Monday and continuing through the weekend with minus starting on Tuesday. Field scout Frank Carbone has been fishing the McNear’s Pier on a weekly basis, and he reported at least two sturgeon have been coming from the pier on ghost shrimp every time he has been present.
In the south bay, sturgeon action in Guadalupe and Alviso Creeks remains good for the few boats willing to launch out of Alviso or make the long run down from Redwood City in the shallow bay. Most sturgeon anglers in the south bay are using herring since there have been herring spawns downbay. The Lovely Martha out of San Francisco made their first halibut trolling trip this past week in the south bay near Oyster Point, and they managed to land a legal halibut on troll gear. The halibut window appears to be opening.
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish season reopens April 1 and the party boats out of Port San Luis and Morro Bay will focus on nature and whale-watching trips until the 2017 rockfish season reopens.
Call: Virg’s Landing, 805-772-1222, 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch 805-595-7214
Bass 3; Striper 2; Sturgeon 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
The Sacramento-Delta is starting to clear, and there are some striped bass taken out of the clearest water in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel. There are pockets of clear water showing up in the north Delta, and the stripers are either here or on their way into the upper river. The high and muddy water has led to slow action for striped bass over the past several months, but the action should be terrific this spring. One limiting factor will be the flows coming out of the Feather River within the coming weeks where the sudden drop in flow from 80,000 to 2500 cfs for spillway repairs has led to the collapse of up to 25 feet of bank areas.
The Sacramento Deep Water Channel into the port has been the clearest area in the Delta, and trollers are concentrating in this stretch of the river for striped bass with various plugs in color patterns such as chartreuse or green. There are some huge striped bass moving through the system with a 50 pounder caught and released at the Port of Sacramento on a ripbait while a 40-pound striper was caught and kept out of Montezuma Slough.
Earlier in the week, Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing said, “Patience was the operative word on Thursday, but the bite turned on from the bottom of the tide to the flood with Jerry Eldridge of Modesto landing a 59-inch sturgeon on eel. There weren’t a lot of bites, but he made this one count.”
Steffen Masters of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor said, “Ghost shrimp was the hot bait for anglers with Charles Haynes landing a 59.5-inch sturgeon near Antioch and Tim Hodge and Chris Birkland scoring sturgeon at 58 and 42 inches respectively in Broad Slough.”
Benicia Bait reported heavy angler interest over the weekend, particularly during Saturday’s warmer weather, but the action slowed on Sunday with the cold winds moving through the Delta. The top areas remain Montezuma and Suisun Slough as well as the Mothball Fleet when the wind is down in the open water.
The Central Valley Anglers Spring Striper Derby will be held on March 19 with information at www.centralvalleyanglers.org. The Addathon Iron Man Sturgeon Derby has been rescheduled for March 25-26 out of Pittsburg Harbor with the NorCal Fish Whisperers Striped Bass Derby out of Brannan Island on April 1.
The San Joaquin Delta continues to remain closed below Mildred Island with the high water releases continuing out of Don Pedro as well as other tributary reservoirs with the exception of New Melones. The closure has restricted boating on the San Joaquin River between the Stanislaus County line and Burns Cutoff, Paradise Cut from the San Joaquin River to Old River, and on Old River from the San Joaquin to Middle River, but the closure was expanded to include the waters surrounding Bacon, Woodward, Lower Jones, Victoria, and Roberts Islands. The closure was relaxed to allow commercial boat traffic out of Discovery Bay.
The spillway gate at Don Pedro was closed earlier this past week despite the denial of the Turlock Irrigation District’s request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water at a faster rate. As a result, the flooding on the San Joaquin River has receded quicker, but the closure will be extended as it will take longer to drain Don Pedro to a safer elevation.
The San Joaquin River is still loaded with floating logs, plywood, and other debris, and recreational boating creates a hazard for the fragile levees.
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “The water is still off-color in much of the Delta, but there are a few fish to be had for the hearty angler. It is all about finding clear water right now, and the best areas are the backs of the sloughs, the top of the Deep Water Channel, and you have to work larger flies with rattles in the dirty water and 4- to 6-inch chartreuse/white Clouser minnows in the cleaner water. The Delta still needs a few weeks of good weather to get rolling, but things are trending in the right direction. We are finding water temperatures from 50-55 degrees depending on the area & time of day.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, continues to find good largemouth bass action in the east Delta out of Honker Cut Marina. He said, “We didn’t get the numbers, but we ended up with 10 largemouth bass with one at 8 pounds and another at 7.5 pounds flipping Missle’s D-Bombs or Sweet Beavers in black. The launch ramp at Honker Cut is steep, and you have to back down and drive off or else you have to bring waders.”
Neil Simpson of Lodi went into the east Delta on Saturday, and he said, “The water was dirty, and it was slow for us with only 3 bass to 4 pounds on a squarebill crankbait. We also missed some on plastics and chatterbaits.”
Hyacinth spraying started on March 1 out of Lincoln Village West Marina and in Discovery Bay, and this was the first time in years that the spraying actually took place on the first day allowable under the permits. Spraying for Egeria Densa, the underwater weed, is on hold with the high water as the plant is not actively growing at the present time.
Call: Randy Pringle 209-543-6260; Intimidator Sport Fishing 916-806-3030; Captain Steve Mitchell – Hook’d Up Sport Fishing 707-655-6736
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 2; White bass 1; Striper 0; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Lake Nacimiento’s spillway was opened up over the weekend, and the Nacimiento topped out at 90 percent a few weeks back, and it is steadily releasing water down the Nacimiento River. It has dropped to 86 percent and 790.40 feet in elevation. Small spotted bass are the rule with plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot, or Carolina-rig, and the spots should be moving into the shallows. The reaction bite should also be taking off as the water warms. San Antonio continues to rise with most of its inflow remaining behind the dam, and it is currently at 49 percent and may be opened on a part-time basis in late April or early May before opening full time around Memorial Day. At Lopez, the lake is at 55 percent, and the launch ramp is open to all boats. All boats are inspected prior to launching and must be clean and dry upon arrival. The bass bite is best in the coastal lakes for size with jigs or plastics worked slowly on the bottom. At Santa Margarita, the lake is open to boaters with the high water levels, and a few quality largemouth bass are taken on crankbaits or chatterbaits. All varieties of lures are working, but the largest grade is on reaction baits. Catfishing is starting to slowly improve with various scented baits from the shorelines. Vehicle entry at Santa Margarita and Lopez is reduced to $5.00 on Tuesdays.
Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3 Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com 805-466-6557
Delta/B and W Resort-California Delta Team Trail, March 4: 1, Hunter Schlander/Vince Bernal, 25.45; 2, Beau Jourdrey/Josh Reublin, 23.13; 3, David Solis/Travis Walker, 22.32 (Big Fish 10.32).
Kaweah-New Jen Bass Team Tournaments, March 4: 1, Gary Wasson/Daniel Moreno, 14.11; 2, Ezra Ayers/Jacob Rowe, 12.85; 3, Darl Head/Carl Dobbs, 11.79.
Success-Success Bass Club, March 5: 1, Mark Wassink/Michelle Quinn, 5.69; 2, Dave Simpson/Chad Cloyd, 3.70; 3, John Barron/Rodger Patterson, 2.35.
March 10-12: Fred Hall Show, Bakersfield, www.fredhall.com/bakersfield
March 11-12: Delta/Pittsburg Marina, Addathon Ironman Sturgeon Derby
March 11: Santa Cruz/Monterey County, 13th annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby, www.sandcrabclassic.com; Delta/B and W Resort, American Bass Association; Delta/Russo’s Marina, California Tournament Team Trail; Tulloch, Christian Bass League; Don Pedro, Kerman Bass Club; Kaweah, Visalia Bass Club; Success, California Tournament Trail; Lopez, Kern County Bass Masters
March 12: Delta/Tracy Oasis, Tracy Bass Club; New Melones, Riverbank Bass Anglers; Don Pedro, California Bass Federation; Nacimiento, Point Seekers Bass Club/Good Old Boys
March 18: Delta/Big Break Marina., Dan’s Delta Team Tournament Trail; Delta/Tracy Oasis, Tracy Bass Club; Camanche, Manteca Bassin’Buddies; New Melones, California Bass Nation/El Dorado Bass; McClure, Best Bass Tournaments; Millerton, Taft Bass Club; Lopez, San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers
March 19: Delta/Russo’s Marina, Bass N’Tubes/Yak A’ Bass; Camanche, Central Valley Anglers Team Trout Derby; Don Pedro, California Bass Federation/Modesto Ambassadors; Eastman, Kings River Bass Club; Success, Porterville Bass Club