The Bee’s weekly fishing report is 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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* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper *** Catfish **
In the California Aqueduct, Patrick Movey of the Fishermen’s Warehouse reported continued slower striper fishing in the northern section of the aqueduct near Los Banos with most fishermen reporting a shortage of striper boils. Many Fresno-area aqueduct anglers are heading south to Kern County in search of better action. Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported continued solid action for largemouth bass near the Buena Vista Golf Course with shad-patterned plastics or jerkbaits. Large swimbaits or hard baits such as Lucky Craft Sammies or Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in American shad, ghost chartreuse shad, or Aurora black are working for the striped bass. Anchovies, sardines or live minnows are also working for striped bass or catfish. The occasional crappie and bluegill are landed. The southern portions of the aqueduct have been clear of moss and debris.
Bass ** Trout ** Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Most Fresno-area bass anglers are avoiding Eastman, which remains very low (469.5 feet in elevation and 8% capacity). Anglers are working hard for a few bites with finesse techniques along the bottom. A few trout fishermen are soaking Power Bait or nightcrawlers on a slipfloat rig from the access area near the parking lot. The area of the lake extending upstream from the Buoy Line near the Cordoniz Launch Ramp is closed while bald eagles are nesting. There are unmarked hazards throughout the lake. Boaters, be cautious within 50 feet of an orange buoy. The Roosevelt High School Bass Fishing Club did a major shoreline cleanup over the weekend.
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish ** Bluegill ** Crappie **
There is minimal change with few targeting the lake, opting for Millerton or Pine Flat. Trout fishing from the shoreline remained slow. The annual Kid’s Derby is April 11 with fishing tutorials and water safety activities. The launch ramp is now accessible for larger boats; boaters should contact the Ranger Station at 673-5151 for current launch ramp conditions. The lake is at 450.71 feet and 6% capacity.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass ** Trout ** Kokanee * King salmon * Crappie **
Bass fishing slowed last weekend to a “grind” with some big fish available, but the best action remained on the bottom with finesse techniques.
Kevin Cheek, tournament director of the Best Bass Tournament’s Mother Lode Circuit, said, “There were lots of jig and worm fish during our opening event on Saturday, and a slow technique was necessary in order to get bit. The largest fish came on a 6-inch worm, but the swimbait bite just wasn’t there” unlike previous weekends. Jan. 17, for instance, saw a winning limit of 24-plus pounds. Jan. 24, the winning limit was 16-plus with just over half the 66-boat field limiting.
Trout fishing has slowed, too, in the cold (52-54 degrees) with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reporting, “We ran heavy spoons on lead core for 2.5 hours this week for only one hit before switching to blade/crawler combinations on planer boards, and we put four rainbows in the box over the next hour. The fish really want a slow presentation with live bait during this wintertime period of cold and clear water where they aren’t eating much.” The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp is open with one lane open, but Blue Oaks is closed. The lake rose slightly to 702.77 feet and 40% capacity.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass ** Trout ** Crappie ** Catfish ** Bluegill **
Lake Isabella fishing interest continued to be minimal with the low water conditions. Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakerfield said catfish are the top species, with most anglers using garlic shrimp or frozen shad from the bank areas with deep water access. There are still crappie to be found around submerged structure near the Marina. Few bass fishermen are targeting the lake with the launch ramp requiring a four-wheel-drive tow vehicle. Boats are still able to launch from the dirt near Red’s Marina, but a 4WD vehicle is advised. The 26th annual Lake Isabella Fishing Derby is March 28-30 with $18,500 for the longest trout from first to 10th guaranteed. Entry is $30 individual or $65 family. For additional information call (760) 379-5236 or email email@example.com. Online registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com/#!online-registration/c1d5e. The lake is at 2,529.58 feet and 8% capacity.
In the Kern River, trout fishing is best in the lower river around the plant zones of Hobo Gulch or Sandy Flats with spinners or salmon eggs. Smallmouth bass and catfish are also available in the lower river. Buena Vista is “hit or miss,” Rutledge said. A few crappie can be taken on small or medium minnows, but the action is so-so. The local lakes remain solid for planted trout immediately after the plants. Power Bait, nightcrawlers or Berkley Mice Tails are the top baits.
Bass ** Crappie ** Trout ** Catfish *
Small bass are the rule with the fish holding in deep water. Drop-shotting shad-patterned plastics, jigs or vertically jigged spoons are working at depths below 40 feet. Few fish over 3 pounds are showing up. The lake is rising steadily, keeping the fish suspended. Crappie have been the top species with small minnows or minijigs over submerged structure. Only one trout plant has occurred this season, and action will continue to be slow until the next plant. The launch ramp is open with “no problem” launching. The lake rose 1.5 feet to 608.03 and 14% capacity.
Bass ** Trout *** Catfish ** Crappie **
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville reported fair bass action in the deeper water with Senkos, jigs or running a deep-diving crankbait on a slow presentation. Trout fishing at the lake is only fair, and another plant is necessary to improve the action. The lake rose a half-foot to 583.01 and 6% capacity.
In the Tule River, Stokke reported excellent action Sunday for native trout using lady bug patterns in the unseasonal 70-degree temperatures. The small ponds continue to be a good option for bluegill and crappie on Woolley Buggers with the occasional bass landed.
The lake continues to release water, and the only access for boats is from the shoreline for small portable vessels such as kayaks or canoes. Bass tournaments scheduled for McClure are being switched to neighboring reservoirs such as Don Pedro for the spring months. All launch ramps are closed.
The water clarity has been murky due to heavy releases from the bottom of Lake McClure over the past several weeks. In the off-colored water, garlic scents on trout dough bait are working best from the shorelines at the Handicapped Docks and Brush Pile. A plant of 500 pounds was made by the Calaveras Trout Farm on Jan. 15. Trolling has been very slow due to water clarity.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass ** Striper ** Shad * Bluegill**
The bass bite has become more difficult over the past week with the best action remaining on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or darthead on the bottom at depths to 50 feet. Limits in the 7- to 9-pound range are possible, but anglers have to work hard to fill out a limit of quality bass. Striper fishing picked up for a few linesides up the river arm near Finegold, while bass anglers are picking up stripers after hooking a spotted bass. Regular striper anglers at the lake are asking for anglers to release any stripers if possible after pictures since the fish are not reproducing. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection form before launching, and a low-emissions sticker is necessary on all motorized craft. Millerton is rising slowly to 488.92 feet and 35% capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal action or interest remains the story. Trout plants on the river have not started yet, but Woodward Park Pond and Sycamore Island Pond have been recently planted. 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.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass *** Crappie ** Catfish ** Trout *** Kokanee *
Bass fishing has been very good with John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reporting, “Most anglers are catching plenty of fish on each outing as the lake is loaded with spotted bass in the 1- to 3-pound range that will feed multiple times throughout the day.” The bass are targeting the abundant shad schools in the lake, and they are chasing the bait around creek channels, bluffs and rocky points as the shad are suspending in the deep water in these areas. Lietchy advised, “Use light line, light hooks and a small shad-patterned worm or minnow.” The fish are still in the wintertime mode, holding from 35 feet to as deep as 70 feet with finesse techniques of shad-patterned plastics on shaky head, drop-shot or darthead working best. However a few quality largemouths have been taken on swimbaits including a huge 14.75-pound bucketmouth caught and released by John Chiarpotti of California Reservoir Lures on a rainbow trout-patterned swimbait. Chiarpotti is a tackle manufacturer specializing in jigs and swimbaits, but this fish came on another manufacturer’s lure. Glory Hole Sporting Goods requests the release of all largemouth bass as the annual spawn nears.
Trout trolling continued to be very good with a number of limits weighed in at Glory Hole Sporting Goods. The best action has been upriver from Carson to Coyote coves on the surface with Rapalas on a long setback or as deep as 15 feet with shad-patterned spoons. Gary Burns of Take It To The Limit Guide Service said, “We have been putting rainbows in the boat on every trip, and most of the ’bows have been found from the surface to 12 feet in depth with the best action with Needlefish in the rainbow trout-pattern ran at 2.8 mph.” Uncle Larry’s spinners tipped with a small piece of nightcrawler or blade/crawler combinations are also effective.
Shore fishing has remained solid. Lietchy said, “About 50% of our trout are coming from the shoreline near Glory Hole Point or the Highway 49 Bridge with lures such as Kastmasters, Tasmanian Devils or Little Cleos. Using a Corky to suspend trout dough bait or nightcrawlers is a good way to keep the bait off of the bottom and into the strike zone.” Catfishing remained slow in the cold water, but Doug Mote of Riverbank landed a 14.70-pound whiskerfish while drop-shotting for bass.
The concrete ramp at Glory Hole Point is open with two lanes and a dock, but the Tuttletown Launch Ramp remains closed.
The lake is at 870.00 feet and 23% capacity.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Kokanee * Bass** Trout **
King salmon * Catfish **
Bass fishing is fair with a weekend tournament sporting a winning limit of 14 pounds with a 7-pound kicker taken on a swimbait by Bob Hamasaki of the Sierra Bass Club. Harold Hass said Sunday’s Fresno Bass Club Tournament competitors saw fish generally deep, “and most fish came on shad-patterned plastics such as Pro Gold or Hologram Shad on the drop shot in water as deep as 50 to 70 feet. As the day warmed, the fish seemed to move up and down, but they were usually around rocky points and bluffs.”
A few large bass are landed by anglers willing to toss a large swimbait all day long for the occasional bite.
Trout trolling has been slow, but a few planted rainbows are taken from the shoreline with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake rose slightly to 729.31 feet and 13% capacity.
In the lower Kings River, trout plants have occurred recently, and there has been more interest in fishing the river. Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun in Clovis touted various colors of Power Bait or nightcrawlers as effective, but he preferred using wet flies such as a Pheasant Tail Flashback or Princeton in the deep pockets to mimic the stone flies in the river. There are special regulations in both the Kings River above and below Pine Flat Dam.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper ** Catfish **
Bass ** Crappie *
The striped bass action remained sporadic with the lake rising consistently due to increased pumping of water from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. The lake has moved into Portuguese Cove, and jumbo and super jumbo minnows continued to provide the greatest action. Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Whenever the water backs into Portuguese Cove, the fish will move in.” The overall numbers are down, but there have been linesides to 20 pounds reported over the past week. Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun added, “The bite is decent with minnows in Portuguese Cove or in front of the Trash Racks at depths from 50 to 60 feet, but the fish are scattered out and you have to find them.”
Patrick Movey of the Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse said, “Once you find them, you have to stay on top of them.” He said most fishermen are trolling P-Line Predator Minnows or similar plugs or drifting minnows along the bottom.
Shore fishermen are tossing big plastic flukes or swimbaits from the access areas along Highway 152, Goosehead Point or Dinosaur Point. Cut baits have also been effective for the occasional striper.
In the O’Neill Forebay, Check 12 and the Highway 152 Bridge remained the top areas with bait. Ripbaits off he Rockwall or smaller swimbaits are also picking up a few linesides.
The lake has risen progressively to 52% capacity with 13,327 acre-feet of Delta water.
Bass ** Trout ** Kokanee *
The occasional spotted bass in the 2.5- to 3-pound range is found in deep water on drop shot or darthead plastics, but the bite is very soft and subtle. Trout fishing is fair for trollers. Limits are possible with Rapalas or Wedding Rings near the surface, but the bite window is limited. Shoreline action has been fair with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers near the public launch ramp or the Sheriff’s Tower. The lake held at 49% capacity.
The Kaiser Pass lakes are done for the winter with the exception of snowmobile trips planned for the spring months. Mammoth Pool has held at 17% with Edison at 4% and Florence at 6%.
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee * Trout **
The trout bite slowed last weekend with only a few boats on the water, despite temperatures in the mid-60s above the fog. John Means Sr. and Jr. of Fresno found great success a few weeks ago, catching and releasing over 40 rainbows, but this weekend they scratched for three to four per boat. They trolled several depths before finding three of their fish at 14 feet on Dick’s Trout Busters near Black Rock. They worked from the dam to Tunnel Creek looking for schools of rainbows, marking a number of fish on the graph, but they weren’t biting. The best lures have been blade/crawler combinations, spinners in orange, chartreuse, ruby red or yellow, or Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with a piece of nightcrawler. Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project plant chairman Bob Bernier of Fresno also found limited success over the weekend with a total of three rainbows to 16 inches. Dick Nichols said, the bite fell off at this time last year, and it continued to be slow until mid-February. Shore fishing has been very slow with anglers sticking around one spot for limited success. Nightcrawlers or trout dough bait have been the top offerings.
The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will be introducing a hybrid strain of rainbows 3 to 8 pounds this spring. Donations for the increase in cost are tax deductible and checks can be sent to the SLTTP at P.O. Box 908, Shaver Lake CA, 93664.
Captain Jack Yandell, a well-known kokanee expert and tackle manufacture will join Nichols at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods in Fresno on Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. for a Shaver Lake fishing seminar, covering everything they know about the lake and what to expect for 2015. A free raffle will follow. The Shaver lake seminar has received great attendance over the years.
Shaver held at 47% capacity and Huntington held at 30%.
Access to both lakes is over for the winter with the closure of the gate at Dinkey Creek.
Half Moon Bay
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat continues to head out for sand dabs and Dungeness crab. He took out seven anglers Thursday for limits of Dungeness along with 85 sandies.
Todd Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported 11 anglers went out on the Check Mate on Sunday in “flat, calm conditions” for limits of Dungeness crab, 80 mackerel apiece and close to 100 sand dabs per angler. Out of Santa Cruz, surf perch action is heating up, just in time for the 11th annual Sand Crab Perch Derby on March 14. This is an annual fundraiser for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Steelhead Project. Details: www.theletsgofishingradioshow.com.
San Francisco Bay
Striper ** Leopard shark ** Halibut * Sturgeon **
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported difficult conditions in San Pablo Bay over the weekend with a thick fog bank holding in the area on Saturday before dissipating only slightly on Sunday. “But things will start getting good around Wednesday and the minuses start on Saturday just in time for the Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby.” Fraser will be working hard to have all of the baits available for the derby, and he has high hopes for live mud shrimp.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported one boat put in a 56-inch legal along with oversized at 74 and 78 inches on salmon roe in San Pablo Bay. Herring spawns continue in Richardson Bay, Sausalito and Raccoon Straits, but there haven’t been any spawns in the Richmond area.
San Luis Obispo
The San Luis Obispo County ports are limited to sand dab/crab fishing until the April salmon opener. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis went out Saturday for 107 Dungeness crab, three rock crab and 68 sand dabs for 17 anglers.
Bass *** Striper *** Sturgeon *** Catfish ** Bluegill **
2014 Sturgeon Report Cards are due to the Department of Fish and Wildlife by Jan. 31; go to the DFW online and search for “Sturgeon Report Card.”
Sturgeon remained the top targeted species in the Sacramento River system, particularly because of the ninth annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Derby out of Martinez Marina on Saturday.
Prior to the derby, Captain Jay Lopes put in multiple sturgeon on consecutive trips for his clients, and he followed this up with two more legal sturgeon during the derby. He said, “The water temperature has risen to the 53-, 54-degree range, and the sturgeon are feeding.” His best action has been on the first part of the incoming tide, and cured lamprey eel has been the bait of choice.
The majority of action has centered on Suisun Bay, but there are sturgeon taken from as far north as Prospect and Liberty Sloughs with the occasional sturgeon landed in the Pittsburg area around Chain Island and the PGE Plant.
In Suisun Bay, most action is in the shallows near the sandbar off the Mothball Fleet, Point Edith/Seal Island, Grizzly Bay, the creek to Roe/Ryer Island and the creek west of the sandbar, Lynda Abbott said. She put an entry into the derby with a 40-incher taken on grass shrimp in the shallows near the sandbar at the Fleet.
Mike Andrews of Predator Sport Fishing said, “We had a great day with two of our fishermen getting tickets with sturgeon at 59 and 51 inches along with nine shakers released including three in the 39-inch range.” The best action was in the shallows in the middle of the sandbar with grass shrimp or lamprey eel, but Andrews moved out to the deeper water once the shallows became crowded in the afternoon. He added, “There was no shortage of sturgeon bites as the fish are spread out over a wide area.”
Plenty of sturgeon are spread out throughout Suisun Bay with Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing reporting, “We were anchored up in deep water near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge this week, and we kept seeing huge fish moving through under the boat all day long, but they just didn’t want to bite.”
Also in Suisun Bay, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle reported good striped bass fishing near the Middle Ground or the Firing Line with experienced fishermen targeting the linesides with jack smelt in the deep water. The grade of striped bass has decreased from the huge fish in the 30- to 40-pound range, but there are fish in the teens coming into McAvoy’s Boat Harbor on a daily basis.
Further upriver, Rio Vista Bait and Tackle reported good action for sturgeon in both Cache and Prospect sloughs with one six-pack captain reporting eight legal sturgeon during the past week’s trips. A few stripers are coming on bait near the Sherman Island Power Lines and also near Marker 13 on the Sacramento. Blood worms, pile worms, ghost shrimp and sardines are all working for stripers while grass shrimp and eel have been the top sturgeon baits.
The second large sturgeon derby of the season, the two-day Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon Derby, starts Saturday at 7 a.m. out of McAvoy’s when the target length is announced. Anglers participating in the derby are not allowed to fish on Friday and Saturday morning until the derby start time.
A few pockets of clear water are starting to emerge in the San Joaquin River system, and small stripers to 5 pounds are getting active.
Alan Fong of Sacramento Fisherman’s Warehouse said his brother was out Saturday casting small swimbaits on an umbrella rig and caught and released 40 stripers ranging from shakers to 5 pounds.
In the south Delta, Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported, “Fishing in the Delta has been good as we have been able to find clear water and fairly warm temperatures.”
The action has been much slower in the Stockton area with H and R Bait in Stockton reporting most area striper fishermen are heading to Los Vaqueros and ignoring the east Delta. The Old and Middle rivers are still choked with dying hyacinth, and although it is starting to sink, the wind is moving the hyacinth around on a daily basis. The stripers are in full wintertime mode, just picking up the bait and dropping it after a few short runs.
In the Antioch area, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait reported dirty and cold water has limited the number of striper fishermen, and the best action has been on cut baits such as frozen shad or sardines. He said, “It is hard for the stripers to find the mudsuckers in the dirty water as they can’t see them. A few sturgeon have been landed around the Antioch Bridge, but most sturgeon fishermen are heading for the Martinez section of the river.”
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Smell and vibration are the keys to success, and we are using a soft plastic trailer with heavy scent on our jigs.” A slow presentation is absolutely essential in the cold and dirty water and allowing the bait to sit on the bottom with an occasional twitch will bring about the subtle bass bite.
Alan Fong also touted a slow presentation for bass with Senkos or chatterbaits. He will be seeking big fish with swimbaits on his next foray into the San Joaquin this week.
Central Coast lakes
Bass** White bass ** Striper** Catfish** Crappie**
At Lake Nacimiento, small spotted bass are the rule with plastics on the drop shot or darthead while jigs are also effective. Anglers have to wade through a number of small fish to put together a limit. At Santa Margarita, new concessionaire Rocky Mountain Recreation Company has reopened the marina store daily 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. They have added two pontoon boats and six aluminum boats to their rental fleet. For now, only kayaks, canoes or float tubes are able to access the lake with the continued closure of the launch ramp. San Antonio remains very low with only kayaks, canoes or float tubes able to be released into the lake. Fishing remains very slow. Lopez and Nacimiento are the only options for launching a bass boat now.
Week of Feb. 1, according to state Department of Fish and Wildlife: