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.
Delta bass sturgeon and stripers picking up steam, Alan Fong said. Southern California aqueduct stripers hitting, Jacob Rutledge reported. Hensley and Eastman bass waking up, and Pine Flat bass and trout active, Steve Newman said. Don Pedro bass and trout bites very good, Mike Gomez reported. McClure bass and crappie eating, Kevin Cheek said. Bass Lake trout on the prowl, Dave Hurley reported.
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2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Stripers 4; Catfish 2
The California Aqueduct in the southern section in Kern County has been outstanding for striped bass with Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reporting, “The aqueduct in on fire, and we have sold 300 pounds of sardines in the past 10 days. Anglers are catching between 10 and 40 stripers within a few hours. The area around IKEA at the base of the Grapevine has been slow, but Tupman, the Buena Vista Golf Course, and Highway 156/Old River are outstanding.” To the north, most fishermen are heading to San Luis for stripers, but the aqueduct action in that region should start heating up soon.
Bass 3; Trout 2; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Eastman is a little better for numbers, but Hensley has been very good for size although the water is a bit dirtier. Jigs are working at both lakes, and the Mega Bass Dock Crawler in green pumpkin are working for bass to 18 inches at Eastman.” The lake rose 1.5 feet to 566.50 in elevation and 78 percent capacity.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 3; Trout 3; Catfish 1; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2
Hensley has been avoided by area bass fishermen for months, but with the water clearing up and warming, quality bass are taken on a variety of techniques. Trout plants at Hensley have brought out a few shore fishermen, and the trout bite has been especially good with inflated nightcrawlers near the dam. Trout dough bait has been less productive. The lake rose nearly 4 feet to 494.79 in elevation and 39 percent capacity.
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 3; Trout 3; King salmon 2; Crappie 3
Don Pedro is heating up for bass and rainbow trout despite the water steadily dropping in elevation to accommodate the massive amount of snow melt anticipated in the coming weeks. The bass bite has been outstanding, with Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford finding great action on two trips this past week. He fished the 1790 Club tournament Saturday for a 12-pound limit, stating, “The winning weight was 21 pounds plus and you have to weigh in over 17 pounds to be in the money. I found better action early in the week for a 19-pound limit working the River2Sea Swaver, and although my limit was much less on Saturday, the numbers have been excellent. You have to locate the fish as they are in various depths, but I found all of my fish in the top 5 feet of the water column. My brother Victor was throwing weightless Senkos up on the bank and the fish were hitting the bait as soon as it was brought back into the water. I am shocked how good the bite is right now, and the Berserk Purple Hornet jig as well as Pro Worms in 124p or 300 are both working. There is also a good crappie bite with small minnows. The water warmed up from the 60-degree range earlier in the week to 66 degrees by Friday, and the lake dropped at least 10 feet in the past week. The fish have moved off of the main points, and they are holding around secondary depths.” Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “Don Pedro water levels continue to drop in anticipation of the spring melt. The lake elevation as of today was 813 feet and 830 is full pool; I have read that they will slow releases down when the level hits 801 feet. When the lake stabilizes the fishing should be great. The water is warming fast to around the 60-degree mark. Trout fishing continues to be up and down, but there are some quality rainbows being caught. A friend of mine Sam Lage of Concord fished the lake Friday and Saturday, and although he found tough conditions he still managed fish. Saturday was a better day seven trout to 21 inches, weighing 3.5 pounds. Speedy shiners on lead core line and Shasta Tackle’s Cripplures behind Mack's Sling Blades on the downriggers at 20 feet deep were the top setup. If I were on the water I would still run my custom made spoons on leadcore along with Rapalas on side planners. When you run lures such as this at a fast speed, you can cover more water and generally find fish faster.” The State Route 120/James E. Roberts Bridge is scheduled to be closed through the morning of March 27. Following the 24/7 closure, the bridge will be closed a few additional nights for the removal of material and equipment. Water releases must be managed slowly to avoid flooding in the Modesto area. Bonds Flat Road will remain closed indefinitely as the spillway may be reopened. Lake-status updates ares available at www.donpedrolake.com.
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
Few anglers continue to make the trek to Lake Isabella. But with the lake as full as it has been in several years, crappie, catfish, bass and rainbow trout action should be solid during the spring. At present, crappie are the most targeted species with small minnows or minijgs in 15-25 feet of water off the shore. They should be coming closer to shore soon. This is all good news for the 28th annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, which will take place April 8-10. No entries will be accepted after 7 a.m. April 7. Information and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com. Campgrounds open during the derby are Boulder Gulch, Camp 9, French Gulch, Paradise Cove, Pioneer Point and Tillie Creek. Make reservations through the Sequoia Recreation Office at (760) 376-1815. The lake dropped to 46 percent this week. The upper Kern River was planted with trout last week, and plants should continue through summer. The lower river remains high and muddy amid water releases out of the dam. Ming Lake hosted boat races last week, and fishing was null and void. Buena Vista is anticipating another trout plant in the coming weeks.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2
Warm temperatures and high water have brought out recreational boaters early in the season, and bank fishermen are contending with jet skis buzzing by and over their lines in addition to swimmers in the water. Last week’s trout plant has attracted shore fishermen near the launch ramp, and the bass bite with rainbow-patterned swimbaits should improve. The reaction bite for largemouth bass is improving, and there are still some giant fish in the lake as evidenced by Gary Wasson’s 17.2-pound largemouth released a few weeks ago. Releasing larger bass is advised to continue anglers’ opportunities to catch and release a “fish of a lifetime.” With the bass moving into the beds to spawn, they are particularly vulnerable. The lake dropped 8 feet to 649.69 in elevation and 38 percent capacity.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Co. in Springville reported, “Bass fishing is good to excellent as the fish are on the beds. Senkos, Brush Hogs, lizards, and jigs are all working in addition to crankbaits. Some fishermen are catching and releasing some huge female bass.” The lake dropped a foot to 631.47 in elevation and 52 percent capacity. The Tule River is still at a high flow, and trout fishing is slow.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 3; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Kokanee 1; Crappie 3; Catfish 2
The Best Bass Tournaments hosted 72 boats Saturday for their Mother Lode Circuit with a winning weight of over 22 pounds. Tournament director Kevin Cheek reported all of the largest fish were taken on underspins, Senkos, or A-rigs, Texas-rig or drop-shot plastics also were effective for numbers with the fish holding in the top 5 feet of the water column. There is a good crappie bite with small minnows or minjigs. The water is clearing up quickly, and the lake has dropped to 73 percent and 823.90 feet in elevation. Water releases are directed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the lake has exceeded 67 percent of capacity as the lake continues to release water down the Merced River. The launch ramps at Barretts Cove South and McClure Point are open.
Call: Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Large volumes of water are being bypassed through the spillway of McSwain Dam from Lake McClure, and the high flows have created conditions where a trout plant for the spring derby is not advisable. The Merced Irrigation District is examining other opportunities – including a possible trout derby at Lake McClure – and other tournaments and promotions possibly for later this spring and during the summer.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 3; Striped bass 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 1
At Millerton, Steve Newman said, “Merritt Gilbert from our shop was there during the week, and although he is a ‘dyed in the wool’ worm guy, he had to change his techniques over to chatterbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits on an underspin since the finesse bite just wasn’t there. The lake is dropping water rapidly, and it is already on the lower ramps. Weightless Senkos are also working, and natural shad or Casper have been the top colors in the 4- to 5-inch Senkos. The swimbait bite is halfway decent, but you have to be very deliberate with a slow retrieve on the bottom at depths to 20 feet. There are plenty of small male bass running the banks with the larger females holding in 15 to 20 feet in pre-spawn mode. Sloping flats have been the top areas with fewer fish holding along the steep walls.” No striped bass were reported. The lake dropped 18 feet to 507.72 in elevation and 46 percent capacity. In the San Joaquin River, the Sycamore Island Pond is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and all state holidays. Day passes are $9 and a season pass $85 and can be purchased online or at the bait shop on the property. Regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge, allow only two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead with a total of four in possession. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 3
The lake rose to 71 percent and 1024.94 feet in elevation, and all launch ramps in the lake are now open. The rainbow trout are moving into the creek channels and up the river arm, and trollers are scoring near the surface with Speedy Shiners, Kastmasters, and Rapalas. The bass are scattered at various depths from deep water to the shallows depending upon the time of day, and there is a window for reaction baits such as River2Sea SWavers or chatterbaits. Weedless plastics on a Texas, Carolina, or drop-shot rig are most effective for numbers. Bank fishing is fair with trout dough bait combined with a nightcrawler, but a long leader is necessary to stay above the grass and vegetation. Crappie fishing has improved near submerged timber in the coves with live minnows, and catfishing is best with a scented ball of nightcrawlers in the lake’s 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
Bass 3; Trout 3; King salmon 1; Catfish 1; Crappie 1
The Central Valley lakes of Pine Flat and Millerton have been fairly consistent for spotted bass throughout winter, but now Eastman and Hensley Reservoirs also getting in on the act for largemouth bass for the first time in months with an improved reaction bite at all lakes in the region. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Pine Flat is seeing the most interest, but the other lakes are also producing. The bass bite is consistent at Pine Flat with A-rigs, underspins or weightless Senkos from the banks to 20 feet in depth as the fish are feeding in an aggressive pre-spawn pattern. Watermelon or greenpumpkin have been the top colors. Keitech swimbaits in variety of color patterns are also working on a slow steady retrieve in the 10- to 15-foot range with the best action adjacent to structure such as rockpiles. Pine Flat is primarily a spotted bass lake, but there a few largemouth bass up the river arm.” The trout bite is solid for trollers pulling red, chartreuse, or firetiger Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler at depths from 4-6 colors along the steeper walls near the dam. Bank fishermen are picking up a few planters near the plant areas. The reservoir dropped to 67 percent and 888.67 feet in elevation. Trout fishing from the banks in the lower Kings below the dam has been affected by the water releases, but anglers are still throwing out trout dough bait, nightcrawlers or spinners for planters in the slower moving water. Lures continue to be more effective in the high water since it is easier to keep from getting hung up on the bottom. Regulations in the Kings River above and below Pine Flat Dam set the season as running from the last Saturday in April to Nov. 15 from Pine Flat Dam downstream to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bridge on Pine Flat Road with a five-fish limit. The bridge is the first one west of the dam.
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
San Luis Reservoir has held for the past several weeks at 99 percent, and the high water has contributed to a decent striper bite at times, particularly for trollers. The fish are far more shallow than normal, and they are found at depths from 20-40 feet now. Mickey Clements at Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The troll bite has been the best method for stripers right now, and since the lake is full, the linesides are higher in the water column. Lucky Craft jerkbaits or broken-backed Rebels are working with one of our customers putting his boat onto three limits of stripers with an average of 24 inches within 1.5 hours.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the troll bite has not been easy in the murky water. “I was looking for bigger fish Saturday and we landed/released six fish with our biggest over 26 inches and 8 pounds in the windy conditions. It’s been very up and down from day to day and not at all consistent for me – nor for the other regular anglers I’m talking to every day. The bite’s been hyped a little lately; I honestly rate it at only a tough-to-average now. It should improve as the water clears,” George said. “I see more visitors keeping their fish, but anglers really need to be thinking about releasing them if possible using a Bender Mender fizzing needle or a Seaqualizer release tool when needed.” Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis added to the information on trolling, saying, “The trolling bite is better than drifting minnows right now, and they are working island tops or creek channels around 30 feet in depth for the stripers. There are a lot of fish in the 17- to 23-inch range along with the occasional 25 to 28 incher in the mix.” The winds have been up at times at the lake, and anglers need to be cautious of conditions and pay attention to advisories. In the O’Neill Forebay, the water remains dirty from heavy pumping in and out of the main lake, and the best action has been for catfish with sardines, chicken livers or prepared catfish baits around Check 12 while the grade of striped bass remains sublegal.
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com (559) 905-2954; San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay Wind Conditions (800) 805-4805.
Bass 2; Trout 3; Kokanee 1
Trout fishing is on the upswing with trollers reporting near limits in the 14.5- to 15-inch range pulling Wedding Rings tipped with nightcrawlers near the surface. Bass fishing is fair with plastics on the bottom, but the lake is warming up between 48 degrees in the mornings to nearly 54 degrees in the afternoons. The swimbait bite should be taking off soon. The lake is currently at 76 percent capacity. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com/. The first bass tournament at the lake will be April 2.
Call: Mike Beighey 642-3748; Bass Lake Watersports 642-3200
Access to the higher-elevation lakes remains limited to those on snowmobiles. Edison rose to 34 percent capacity and Florence is at 14 percent. Mammoth Pool is at 98 percent. The snowpack on top of Kaiser Pass is reported to be at least 19-20 feet, and the reopening of the road may be delayed past Memorial Day.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2; Trout 2
A rapid drawdown of Shaver Lake has left the Sierra Marina launch ramp high and dry in anticipation of the coming snowmelt from the upper watershed. The ramp was anticipated to be open during March but is inaccessible at about 50 percent capacity and the lake dropped to 41 percent this week. The lake is expected to be at 32 percent by April 1 and about 30 percent by May 1. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters out of Shaver Lake said, “All ramps will be out of the water during these months, and I was advised that I could possibly launch my 22-foot about by mid-May. Therefore, I have opted to cancel all of my pre-booked trips between April 15 and May 15. You might be able to launch at the present time with a small aluminum boat and a 4 wheel drive tow vehicle, and those able to access the lake should find some decent fishing as the 2nd year kokanee are already at 14 inches. The Sierra Marina has already moved out into open water out from Road 1. Once the lake starts raising in mid-May, it will continue to rise to around 67 percent by June 1, 91 percent by July 1, and around 100 percent by Labor Day. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make plants of between 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of catchable rainbow trout this summer, and the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will make their annual plants of trophy-sized rainbows from eastern Oregon in late spring and mid-summer. Even with the low water conditions right now, I expect a nice summer of fishing with good kokanee and trout action.” The webcam at the Sierra Marina has been out of service since March 4. It is possible to launch a small aluminum boat from the auxiliary ramp at the Sierra Marina but launching larger boats is questionable. Steve Santoro of Fish Box Charters will be holding a trolling seminar at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno on April 15 to discuss trolling techniques and gear. Huntington drooped to 32 percent and was 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, leaving no vehicle access to Wishon or Courtright until they reopen in spring.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2; Crabs 2
Sand dab/crab combination trips are the only game in town until the rockfish season opener within the next few weeks. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat took a rockfish research trip on Wednesday to the Farallon Islands in search of canary rockfish, in particular, gravid females. These research trips have led to modifications in ground fish regulations including the ability to keep one canary rockfish in the 10-fish limit during the 2017 season. The rockfish season in local waters starts April 15, and all party boats will either be running for rockfish or for ocean salmon. As of press time, the alternatives for the ocean salmon season have yet to be determined with the Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission set to meet April 6-11. One alternative has the ocean salmon season open seven days per week from April 1-30 and May 15-Oct. 31st with a minimum size of 24 inches through April 30. A second option is April 1-30 and June 15-Oct. 31, with the third alternative an extremely short season from April 1-30. Traditionally, salmon are found off the San Mateo County coastline at the start of the season, in particular, the area around the deep reef. Starting April 1 and through the first two weeks of the month, 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 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. Farther north in Pacifica, Rob Chaney of the Rusty Hook in Pacifica reported good action for crab off of the pier with squid or anchovies in the snares. They continue to order the custom snares since the demand has been high. He only knew of one striped bass landed from the shore this week, and this fish came under the South Tower of the Golden Gate. Surf perch action is good from the pier with neon Sabiki rigs or prawns. Blood and pile worms have been scarce.
Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Captain Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040
Striper 2; Crab 2
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey said, “We had trips on both Saturday and Sunday with a total of 2120 sand dabs and 204 crab for 35 anglers on the trips on the Caroline and Check Mate.” Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “Anglers around the Monterey Bay are gearing up for the 2017 rockfish and salmon seasons, both scheduled to open April 1. The final shape of salmon regulations is yet to be determined, but for the opener, we are allowed two salmon per angler per day with a minimum size of 24 inches. Rockfish/Cabezon/Greenling regulations are also adjusting for 2017. We will provide greater detail in next week’s column, but the primary changes will be a smaller sub-limit of black rockfish (three) and an increase in maximum depth for fishing the RCG Complex (300 feet of water). There will be plenty to fish for, and very soon. Currently, most anglers’ focus is on surfcasting. Perch fishing is strong and getting stronger, as evidenced by the results of the March 11 Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby. Over 300 anglers competed for trophies and prizes during the annual benefit contest, which supports the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. This year’s Grand Master winner is Jeremy Peck from Santa Cruz. Peck won the big trophy with a barred surfperch weighing 3 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 16 inches even. This is the largest perch ever measured during 13 years of the Sand Crab Classic. Peck caught the big BSP on ‘the north side’ using shrimp for bait. Other winners include Ken Lagudas, first prize in Men’s BSP with a 3-pound fish and Ryan Shake, who submitted a 2-pound, 3-ounce redtail perch for first in the Men’s Non-BSP category. The Women’s Division trophies were captured by Carolyn Larimer from Watsonville for her 12.25inch barred surfperch caught near the Salinas Rivermouth on a bloodworm, and Kira Eccleston who weighed in a 1-pound, 9-ounce sea perch she caught near Monterey using bloodworms. Also, while waiting for rockfish and salmon to open, it may be worthwhile to fish for halibut right now. It’s still early, but Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reports a few flatties caught by boaters trolling from Capitola down towards Manresa. Schools of sardines are popping up in various locations around the bay, notably the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the Mile Reef outside Capitola. Live bait fishing for halibut could prove to be productive for anglers working 50-80 feet of water over the flat sandy areas.”
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2; Striper 2; Leopard shark 3; Sturgeon 2; Crab 2
Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley went into San Pablo Bay on both Saturday and Sunday, and they put in three striped bass along with a legal sturgeon on Saturday within a 5-minute window in the morning. The action slowed down after this period. They went through 30 shaker bass on Sunday for three legal ones along with a huge sturgeon estimated between 180 and 200 pounds that was only 68 inches long. He said, “This fish was so girthy, and it looked like a spent female. The bite was slower on Sunday, and the crabs were thick on the Pinole side of the bay. With the water releases coming out of the Feather River, it could get dirty once again, but the water is cleared up now. I want to get some shiners and start drifting for halibut and striped bass.” Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle said, “The weather was good over the weekend, but the tides were crummy. It was a fish here and a fish there, but it wasn’t much to write home about. The incoming tide wasn’t even enough to barely turn the boat around. Good tides start on Wednesday, and we hope to have live mud shrimp in addition to ghost shrimp.” Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing has been targeting sharks in the south bay, and put his clients onto several leopards using lamprey eel of all baits. He said, “It was an expensive bait, but the sharks really did like the eel.” There are a few halibut in the south bay, and one captain took out Angler West TV for a future episode with some action using trolling gear with Sling Blades for several shaker and a small legal halibut. Sturgeon fishing has been solid in the south bay out of Alviso with ghost shrimp, eel and herring in the normal locations near the Dunbarton Bridge and in Alviso and Guadalupe creeks.
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish season reopens April 1, with party boats out of Port San Luis and Morro Bay focusing for now on nature and whale-watching trips. Virg’s is sold out for rockfishing on April 1, but there is one boat with room April 2. Patriot’s boats are full on the rockfish opener, but there also is room there April 2.
Call: Virg’s Landing, (805) 772-1222; (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing (805) 595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch (805) 595-7214
Bass 3; Striper 3; Sturgeon 3; Catfish 2; Bluegill 3
The Sacramento-Delta is poised to bust out for all species as striped bass are beginning to make their run along with an excellent sturgeon bite in Suisun Bay. Sturgeon remain the number one species, but the striped bass gear is coming out from hibernation. The Phenix Rods ‘Battle of the Charters’ took place Friday out of Martinez Marina, and the six-packs on the Phenix Pro Staff participated for prizes for their clients and bragging rights for themselves. Defending champion Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing put on a clinic with three oversized, three slot-limit fish, and three shaker sturgeon, but he wasn’t able to wrest the prize from Captain Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing since his client Anthony Berry landed the largest slot-limit sturgeon of the day at 52 inches. All of the six-packs remained east of the Carquinez Bridge with the exception of Chris Smith of Captain Hook Sport Fishing who ventured into San Pablo Bay. All but one of the seven boats participating landed at least one keeper sturgeon highlighted by Mitchell’s big day. Captain Jay Lopes of Right Hooke Sport Fishing out of Martinez has been fishing nearly every day, and this gives him a huge advantage on being on the water daily since the sturgeon are moving constantly. His boat has landed over 20 legal or oversized sturgeon on their past seven trips. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing out of Martinez was in deep water east of the Benicia Bridge on Sunday, and he said, “We have released two shaker sturgeon to just undersized at 39.75 inches, and the fish have moved over the past few days. We had a steady stream of sturgeon under the boat on Friday and Saturday, but the fish moved on since I searched Ozol Pier, the Brickyard, and the 2nd Green Can and they weren’t there.” Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “We had a busy weekend with live bait in high demand before finally selling out on Sunday. Most boats are anchoring around the Mothball Fleet for sturgeon while bank fishermen off of Ninth Street are picking up schoolie striped bass.” Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento continues to find great action in the Delta, and he went north for largemouth bass to 6.75 pounds throwing black chatterbaits. He said, The water is perfect right now, and there are some breaks on the Mokelumne side of the river, but there were no stripers in the area. The Addathon Iron Man Sturgeon Derby is March 25-26 out of Pittsburgh Harbor. The NorCal Fish Whisperers Striped Bass Derby out of Brannan Island is April 1. The Central Valley Anglers Spring Striper Derby is April 29, with information at www.centralvalleyanglers.org. The San Joaquin-Delta is still under restrictions in certain areas two hours before and after high tide, but the largemouth bass bite is taking center stage with stripers also on the way. Kenji Nakagawa of Lodi went plug casting on the San Joaquin in the east Delta this week, and he said, “We found some small stripers this weekend, just nothing to write home about. We caught 15-20 fish a day, throwing small rip baits in the east Delta. We are still waiting for consistent 60-plus-degree water for the top water bite to take off. I might go downriver this week to see if we can intercept some of the females as they make their way in. On Saturday, I had a school fired up and caught 8-10 male linesides in the solid 3- to 7-pound range within a few drifts. It is about to go wide open any day now.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was back on the Delta after an extended break to allow the water to drop and the debris to dissipate, said, “They are eating the kitchen sink right now, and the key in the dinghy water is a slow presentation, vibration, and scent since sight is not in play right now. If you are looking for gin-clear water, you will not find it, but there are areas where the river is clearer than in others. We did extremely well for largemouths to 5 pounds throwing a variety of baits, but the most effective was the Berkley Havoc Flat Dog in green pumpkin. Dark colors or high visibility colors such as chartreuse are working best, and if you are seeking the larger females, it is important to keep the bait in the strike zone. There are plenty of small males willing to strike, and everything is working other than surface plugs. Spinnerbaits, squarebill crankbaits, and chatterbaits are all working, but you can’t move the bait too fast. It is only a matter of time before the big fish show up.” J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has been tossing swimbaits in the San Joaquin for solid striper action. George Wight of Antioch continues to toss swimbaits for stripers to 28 inches. Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “I fished the Delta this week, and we caught some some fish in the San Joaquin. Believe it or not, the Delta is finally fishable. The water is slightly off color with about 2 to 3 feet of visibility, with temperatures hovering around the 60 degree mark. We caught them on Clousers that were in the 5-inch range tied with black, purple, chartreuse and orange.” Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley reported outstanding bass fishing during their first tournament of the season this past Saturday with Nick Cloutier and Joey Skym taking first place with a 32.58-pound limit. Greg Troughton of Stockton landed the big fish of the tournament at 11.32-pound largemouth on a chatterbait. Mathisen said, “Senkos and jigs were the top two techniques, but chatterbaits were also effective. The water is clearing up, and stripers are picking up for troller with several linesides in the 8- to 10-pound range.” Closures on the San Joaquin River have been modified to allow a 5-mph speed restriction in several section of the Old River, Midldle River and Mildred Island two hours before high tide through two hours after posted high tide. Specific restrictions are available at www.sjgov.org/department/oes/pdf/Delta-Water-Closures-3.pdf.
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 3; White bass 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Lake Nacimiento has dropped only slightly to 85 percent, and small spotted bass under 2 pounds are becoming active with plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot or shakey head while jigs or creature baits are producing the larger cut of fish. Bass will be moving into the shallows within the coming weeks and sight fishing should be available. The white bass have yet to show up in numbers, but once the water warms up, they should make a powerful showing during this high water year. San Antonio is held at 51 percent and the lake may be opened on a weekend-only basis starting April 14, with a plan to open the North Shore by Memorial Day. At Lopez, the lake is over 60 percent, and panfish are moving into the shallows with bluegill and red ear perch available with red worms. The bass are transitioning into pre-spawn mode, and reaction baits are starting to locate a larger grade of bass while plastics are working for numbers. At Santa Margarita, the bass are heading into the shallows in preparation for the spawn, and various techniques are effective for catching and releasing the larger fish. Catfish are also moving in along with panfish consisting of crappie and bluegill.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; CentralCoastBassFishing.com (805) 466-6557
- Dan’s Delta Outdoors on March 18 at Delta/Big Break Marina: 1, Nick Cloutier/Joey Skym 32.58 pounds; 2, Hunter Schlander/Vincent Bernal 27.46; 3, Andrew Lippert/Dustin Tacker 27.05
- Best Bass Tournaments/Mother Lode on March 18 at McClure: 1, Randy Whited/Micheal Gaston 22.02 pounds (big fish 11.21); 2, Paul Lucich 17.60; 3, Steven Magill/Adam Belmont 16.96
- March 25: American Bass Association at Delta/Russo’s Marina; California Delta Team Trail at Delta/B and W Resort; Contra Costa Bass Club at Don Pedro; Golden Empire Bass Club at Pine Flat; American Bass Association at Success; Best Bass Tournaments at Nacimiento
- March 25-26: Sierra Bass Club at Don Pedro
- March 26: California Bass Federation at Don Pedro; Valley Hawg Hunters at Tulloch; Fresno Bass Club at Don Pedro
- March 31-April 1: Southern California Bass Club at Don Pedro
- April 1: California Delta Team Trail at Delta/Russo’s Marina; Nor Cal Fish Whispers Striped Bass Tournament at Delta/Brannan Island; Stanislaus County Employees at Don Pedro; Mid Valley Bass Club at Eastman; American Bass Association at Lopez
- April 2: California Bass Federation at Bass Lake; Success Bass Club at Kaweah
- April 29: Central Valley Angler’s Spring Striper Derby at Delta/Brannan Island, www.centralvalleyanglers.org
- Fresno County: Fresno City Woodward Park Lake; Kings River, below Pine Flat Dam
- Madera County: Bass Lake; Corrine Lake; Mazanita Lake; Sycamore Island Pond
n = new moon > = peak activity