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.
* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper ** Catfish **
The overall striper bite in the northern section of the California Aqueduct has slowed to the point where most Fresno-area striper fishermen are heading to the O’Neill Forebay. A few small linesides can be taken on RatLTraps, Duo Realis jerkbaits, or Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s. In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported a continued solid largemouth bass bite with Senkos, while the striper bite is picking up with Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s or Duo Realis jerkbaits. Weed cover in the aqueduct has allowed for the resurgence of panfish and largemouth bass; bluegill and crappie are also showing up with jumbo red worms or small minnows. Catfishing is fair at best with chicken liver, nightcrawlers or mackerel.
Bass ** Trout ** Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie **
The numbers of bass are rising, with some larger fish showing up on swimbaits. More and more bass are moving into the shallows, and lizards and Brush Hogs are starting to work along with jigs and plastic worms. Bass in the 2- to 3-pound range have been common, and nightcrawlers and live minnows also are effective. A trout plant from the Department of Fish and Wildlife occurred during the past week, and planted rainbows are showing up near the fishing access lot, south of the Cordoniz or Chowchilla ramps, and near the dam with inflated nightcrawlers or trout dough bait. The area extending upstream from the buoy line near the Cordoniz ramp remains closed to accommodate nesting bald eagles. There are unmarked hazards throughout because of low water conditions. The lake held at 470.05 feet in elevation and 8% capacity.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish *** Bluegill ** Crappie **
Small bass in the 11- to 13-inch range are plentiful, and jigs, Carolina-rigged lizards, drop-shot plastics or Brush Hogs are all working. Ripbaits and spinnerbaits also are effective for numbers. The annual Kid’s Fishing Derby on April 11 will include fishing tutorials and water-safety instruction. The launch is accessible for larger boats. Trout fishing from the shore remains slow. Boaters can contact the Ranger Station at the Corps of Engineers office for ramp conditions. The lake is at 453.71 feet in elevation and 8% capacity.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; 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 *** Trout *** Kokanee * King salmon * Crappie **
Bass have moved up to depths of 5-20 feet, and the reaction bite with ripbaits or crankbaits has been solid. Topwater lures are working in the early mornings or evenings in the shallows of less than 10 feet; the Huddleston ROF 5 is also effective for big bass. Live minnows are working from shore. The Kerman Bass Club held two tournaments at the lake over the weekend, with 15 limits weighed in at Saturday’s team tournament. Sunday’s individual tournament saw half weighing in limits. The trout bite continues to improve, with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing putting his clients onto limits working throughout the day with bright spoons fast-trolled on lead core line early in the morning before slowing down with nightcrawlers behind a small dodger by midmorning. The Fleming Meadows ramp is open with one lane; Blue Oaks is closed. The lake rose slightly to 711.85 feet in elevation and 43% capacity.
Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass ** Trout ** Crappie **** Catfish ** Bluegill **
Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “It’s crappie mania around here, and the demand for minnows has been intense as the crappie have moved into the shallows in the South Fork.” They were to receive another load of small and medium minnows Wednesday in an attempt to meet the demand. Catfishing is decent with the new CatNip bait, which stays upon the hook longer, but most fishermen are targeting the slabsides. Bass fishing should improve in the coming weeks, but the crappie are generally the first to move into the shallows. Few bass fishermen are heading to the lake given the low water and need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle to launch a vessel from the dirt ramp near Red’s Marina. There are no marinas or courtesy docks currently in the lake. No trout reports, but a Fish and Wildlife plant is scheduled for next week ahead of a huge plant for the 26th annual Lake Isabella Fishing Derby on March 28-30. A payout of $18,500 for the longest trout from 1st to 10th is guaranteed. Entry is $30 per individual and $65 per family. Call (760) 379-5236 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Online registration is available at kernrivervalley.com. The lake dropped slightly to 2,530.49 feet in elevation and 8% capacity. In the Kern River, a few trout have been taken in the upper and lower sections with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, live crickets or salmon eggs. Catfish have been the top species in the lower river near Hart Park with nightcrawlers. Trout plants at the River Walk, Hart Park, Ming and Truxtun are scheduled in the coming weeks, but bass and bluegill are dominating the local lakes with the warm weather. Buena Vista is limited to a few trout per rod with Power Bait or nightcrawlers from the shore.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass ** Crappie *** Trout ** Catfish **
The lake continues to rise, up 2.5 feet this week to 632.37 in elevation and 26% of capacity. The crappie bite is good enough to draw down Fresno-area anglers, with enough slabsides to keep them interested in the submerged structure around Horse Creek with small to medium minnows or mini-jigs. The bass are moving into the shallows in preparation for the spawn, and decent limits including fish over 5 pounds were weighed in during Saturday’s Visalia Bass Club Tournament. Most were small males cruising the banks, with the large females either on beds or getting ready to move there by the next full moon. The trout bite is fair with Power Bait or nightcrawlers. The warm weather has kept the catfish bite going, and the best action has been with anchovies, sardines, or chicken livers. The launch ramp is open.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass **** Trout *** Catfish ** Crappie ***
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Co. in Springville reported excellent bass fishing, stating, “A newborn could land a bass!” All methods are producing limits including crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs as there is a lot of interest in the lake. Trout limits are possible from the banks with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, Kastmasters or Panther Martins. Fly fishermen are landing trout on Woolley Buggers, nymphs and dry flies. The lake rose about a half-foot to 590.02 in elevation and 9% capacity. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “I fished the river on Sunday, and I had the best day that I can remember with over 30 brown trout from 10-14 inches using dry flies or Woolley Buggers.” The local ponds are excellent for bass, crappie, and bluegill. Stokke took 95 year-old Don Lieb to a local pond Friday, and Lieb landed a “ton’ of bluegill. Stokke and the Tule River were featured in the March/April issue of Southwest Fly Fishing Magazine.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, www.sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass ** Trout ** King salmon * Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish **
The lake is holding at 8% capacity, and the launch ramps remained closed. The only access for boats is from the shore for small portable vessels such as kayaks or canoes. Bass tournaments scheduled for McClure are being switched to neighboring reservoirs such as Don Pedro this spring. As a result, few fishermen are heading to the lake.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Trout fishing has improved from the shore near the brush pile, across from the marina, or the handicapped docks with green garlic power eggs or similarly bright colors of trout dough bait. Trolling is improving up the river arm from Gilligan’s Island to the floating restrooms with pink Uncle Larry’s spinners behind a flasher or Rapalas in bright colors. Trout plants from Calaveras Trout Farm have been limited to once per month. The annual Spring Trout Derby is April 11-12. Register at www.lakemcclure.com.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass *** Striper ** Shad * Bluegill **
At Millerton, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Striped bass are becoming active, hitting anglers spotted bass on their way to the boat.” The stripers are found up into the river arm. Numbers of spotted bass are available, with experienced fishermen catching and releasing up to 25 in a few hours on drop-shot plastics, but most of the fish are in the 12- to 13-inch range. Jigs also are working as are ripbaits and spinnerbaits when the fish come into the shallows in the afternoons. All motors must conform to low-emission standards at Millerton. The lake came up nearly a foot to 495.29 in elevation and 39% capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal fishing action is taking place because of the lack of trout plants. A few bass are taken at Sycamore Island Park. Regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam 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. All wild steelhead or trout with an adipose fin present must be released immediately. The San Joaquin River is closed to the take of salmon; they may not be targeted and must be released immediately if inadvertently caught.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass **** Crappie *** Catfish *** Trout *** Kokanee **
New Melones remains in a stiff competition with Clear Lake as to which can pump out the largest bass in Northern California, with multiple fish over 10 pounds weighed in during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournaments Mother Lode Region tournament. Tournament director Kevin Cheek said, “Most of the large fish were taken off of the beds with Brush Hogs or Senkos, and there were largemouth bass of 11.51, 10.46, and 9.11 brought to the scales in addition to another 10-plus-pounder that wasn’t included in the big fish count since there was a larger 10-pounder weighed in by the same team.” Rich and Ron Ingram posted an impressive five-fish limit at 30.65 pounds to take first out of 54 boats. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp confirmed the excellent bass action with numbers found in 30-40 feet of water on structure. He said, “Try working a heavy football head jig in half to three-quarters-ounce with a California Reservoir Lure jigs off of the bottom. Another option is to toss crankbaits, spinnerbaits or ripbaits in areas holding schoolie fish as the swimbait bite has slowed up, although smaller swimbaits such as K-Tech’s Swing Impacts, Slim Thrashers, or Skinny Dippers are working on a jig head.” Brush Hogs or lizards are working closer to the shore where the water is muddiest as baits with a large profile will disperse water. Glory Hole Sports encourages anglers to catch and release the large bass in order to keep the lake’s population healthy. Trout action remains good, with fish holding at depths from 5-25 feet around the dam, the spillway and upriver toward the mouth of Coyote Creek. Trollers are running faster at speeds from 2-3 mph with ExCels, Needlefish or Speedy Shiners along with floating Rapalas, jointed Shad Raps or Countdown Rapalas in shad patterns. Bank fishing has been best near Glory Hole Point, Glory Hole Cove or the Highway 49 Bridge with inflated nightcrawlers or garlic-scented trout dough bait. Kastmasters have also been effective, particularly when coated with Pro-Cure scents. A few kokanee are starting to show up, but no one has put together a limit of the landlocked salmon as of yet. Lietchy said, “There should be some limits taken this week.” Catfishing continued to be good as the whiskerfish are moving into the banks, and the key to success is soaking bait in scent. Areas with exposed wood have been producing large catfish on frozen shad, mackerel, or anchovies. Lietchy advised, “Be sure to use stout hooks and heavy line to keep from tangling in the brush.” With the earlier-than-normal warm temperatures and the lake’s low level exposing structure, this is a good time to get into crappie. Live minnows under a slip-float rig or hooking a minnow to a minijig are the best options. The lake is already starting to trickle out water. The concrete ramp at Glory Hole Point is open with two lanes and a dock, but the Tuttletown ramp remains closed. New Melones dropped more than a foot to 877.33 in elevation and 25% capacity. At Lake Tulloch, plans have been announced to drain the lake in September to meet agricultural and environmental obligations, but it appearsit will be open for the summer months.
Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Kokanee * Bass*** Trout ** King salmon * Catfish ** Crappie **
Pine Flat continues to host bass tournaments on a weekly basis, and the heavy tournament pressure has affected the bite. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Limits in the 9.5- to 10-pound range remain constant, but the lake is getting pounded with all of the tournaments as it is the top lake in the Fresno-area.” Drop-shot plastics, pitching jigs on the banks or darthead plastics from the shore to 20 feet in depth are producing as the bass are moving closer. Male bass are cruising the banks, and the jig bite is solid early in the morning before the ripbait and spinnerbait bite starts in during the afternoons. More fishermen are using reaction baits, but the swimbait and topwater action continued to be slow. Trout trolling continued to improve, but as many spotted bass as trout are hitting the lures at depths to 20 feet. Gilbert added, “One boat fished from first light until 3:30 p.m., and they landed three trout to 15 inches along with four spotted bass trolling at 20 feet in depth.” Needlefish, ExCels, or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler are still the top setups for trout from Zebe Creek to the Power Lines, but the lure of trophy trout are drawing most trout trollers to Shaver Lake. Kokanee Power will be hosting their annual Team Trout Derby on April 18. Information is available at www.kokaneepower.org. The lake rose more than 2 feet to 747.77 in elevation and 17% capacity. In the lower Kings River, rainbows of catchable size will be planted on a weekly basis for the next two weeks. The planters are biting various colors of Power Bait or nightcrawlers in low flows. Avocado Lake is also scheduled to be planted twice within the first three weeks of March. There are special regulations in 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 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bridge on Pine Flat Road with a five-fish limit. The Corps of Engineers Bridge is the first one to the west. The area from Cobbles (Alta) Weir downstream to the Highway 180 crossing is open all year to artificial lures with barbless hooks with a zero limit.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626; The I Forgot Store 787-3689
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper *** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie*
San Luis Reservoir continued to rise steadily with heavy pumping from the Delta. Stripers are holding tight to specific areas in small grouping. Live jumbo minnows drifted at depths from 60-80 feet near the bottom or trolling with shad-patterned plugs on the downrigger are producing a few quality linesides. Shore fishermen are tossing Duo Realis jerkbaits or Lucky Craft 128’s in American shad or ghost minnow from the banks in low-light conditions. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service took Clint Thaxter of Fresno and his son Alan and daughter Lynne for 16 stripers to 24 inches Friday, and Ben Dunn and his son Roan and son-in-law Todd for over 20 stripers to 26 inches on trolled lures. “The fishing wasn’t easy, and there were a lot of boats. The fish are constantly moving! We are using the Seaqualizer to easily put them back quickly,” George reported. In the O’Neill Forebay, Check 12 and the Highway 152 Bridge are the top area for shore fishermen with pile worms, blood worms, anchovies or jumbo minnows for stripers in the 18- to 23-inch range. Largemouth bass are also holding in the lake, and drop-shot plastics, Senkos, or jigs are all working. Heavy pumping through the reservoir continued throughout the week, and the stripers become active when the water is moving.
Call: Coyote Bait andTackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com (559) 905-2954
Bass ** Trout *** Kokanee *
Trout fishing is still solid for rainbows to 14 inches, but the overall action has slowed slightly in the past week. Trollers are working from the Sheriff’s Tower to the dam with blade/crawler combinations, Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger, Needlefish, or Apex lures at depths to 10 feet. The trout remain close to the surface. Spotted bass to 2 pounds are hitting Senkos, drop-shot plastics, or jigs near the shallows in advance of small club derbies scheduled within the next month. The swimbait bite is very quiet. The lake has risen to where a larger boat can be launched from the public dock, but the courtesy dock is only three-quarters into the water. The lake held at 52% capacity.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Brown trout ** Trout **
The Kaiser Pass Lakes are done until the gate is reopened later in the spring. At Mammoth Pool, few fishermen are making the long drive, but trout fishing continues to be decent from the shore with Power Bait or nightcrawlers. Mammoth Pool is holding at 26%, Edison is at 5% and Florence 12%.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee ** Trout ***
The combination of outstanding weather and the lure of a “fish of a lifetime” continue to draw Valley anglers to Shaver. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The lake continues to kick out trophy-sized rainbows nearly every day as 12 year-old Kailee Stock of Clovis landed a beautiful 8.7-pound rainbow from the shoreline this week, and along with Madera resident Frank Bernard’s 9.49-pounder landed at Black Rock are just examples of our trophies.” The top shore areas continue to be around Roads 1 and 2, the dam, and Black Rock with inflated nightcrawlers or trout dough bait. Although an average of a trophy per day is pulled off the banks, most trophies have been landed by boaters. Trolling has been best at depths of 20-30 feet near the island, Black Rock, or the point. Nichols went on an exploratory trolling adventure with Dave Dungy of Shaver Lake this week, and they released four limits of mixed trout and kokanee with the big fish, going 4 pounds, landed by Dungy on a Trout Buster. He said, “The best trolling area was the Point, but we caught them all over the lake at depths from 20-27 feet. Trout Busters and Koke Busters tipped with crawler and corn behind weighted Mountain Flashers on the side poles, and orange Apex behind a Captain Jack’s CJ Dodger or a pink Koke Buster behind a Captain Jack’s Shaver Lake Dodger on the downriggers were the top setups. The rainbow to kokanee ratio is around 4-1.” The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout contest runs through Dec. 31, and the official weigh stations are Ken’s Market or Shaver Lake Sports in Shaver Lake. Trout in the 10-pound range cost the SLTTP over $50, so the organizers are requesting that anglers consider releasing the larger fish or only keeping one of the trophies per trip. Anglers can help future plants by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project by sending a tax-deductible check to the SLTTP at P.O. Box 908, Shaver Lake 93664. The annual fundraising dinner is Aug. 8 at the Shaver Lake Community Center. Shaver held at 48% capacity. At Huntington, a few fishermen are walking down to the banks to soak Power Bait or inflated nightcrawlers near Rancheria Creek or the Auxiliary Dam for limited success. The lake rose slighty to 35% capacity, and the launch ramp is out of the water given the low levels.
Call: Dick’s Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740
Access is over for the winter with the closure of the gate at Dinkey Creek.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
It’s official, rockfish season starts April 15 from Pigeon Point north to Point Arena encompassing the Pillar Point area and opens two weeks earlier south of Pigeon Point. Three ling cod over 22 inches constitute a limit; the rockfish limit remains at 10, but only five black rockfish can be included. Party boats out of Pillar Point will be scheduling rockfish trips starting April 1, with the anticipation of ocean salmon season starting April 4. Up in Pacifica, Rob Chaney at the Rusty Hook in Pacifica reported a few stripers are holding out along the coast with a 27-pounder landed on a pile worm at night behind Safeway north of the pier. Surf perch fishing has been decent with squid or Sabiki rigs off the pier. Rockfish are taken from the shore at Mori’s Point on sardines. Blood and pile worms are still inconsistently arriving from suppliers on the East Coast. Crabbing has slowed, but there is still plenty of interest with snares.
Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362; Bait and Switch Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported the sand dabs are holding up their end of the bargain, but crab counts have fallen off since consistent limits of a few weeks back. The Check Mate went out Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a total of 107 crab for 43 anglers along with bucketloads of sand dabs. With the rockfish season opening April 1, Chris’ is fielding heavy interest. In Santa Cruz, Allen Bushnell, co-director with Captain Mike Baxter of the 11th annual Sand Crab Classic, reported the largest turnout in the event’s history with more than 300 fishing from Pacifica to Carmel. He said, “Despite a recent slowdown for surfcasting perch, a number of impressive fish were weighed with top honors going to Joe Voss who came all the way from Ventura for his first try at the Derby. Joe arrived Friday and scouted locations Friday night. He found a couple good holes at Salinas River State Beach to which he returned before sunrise Saturday. Using bloodworms, Voss nailed a 15.5-inch Barred Surf Perch, which proved to be the biggest for this year’s derby. Voss left Saturday night for his home down south. He’ll be back next year.” A repeat winner was Grace Volz, who captured the Grand Master Trophy in 2014 with the No. 1 fish in the Women’s Barred Surf Perch category at 10.5 inches. Caleb Arroy won the Junior Sea Perch Division with a 13.625-inch striped perch and Madison Jauregi the Junior Barred Surf Perch trophy at 12.25. All proceeds are donated to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Steelhead Project.
Call: Chris’ Landing(831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Halibut *** Striper *** Leopard shark *** Sturgeon **
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “There have been three halibut over 30 pounds landed in the past nine days with the possibility of a fourth huge fish that I haven’t personally confirmed.” A pair of small legal halibut were landed drifting Loch Lomond shiners off China Camp, leading Fraser to state, “China Camp is not one of the normal locations for halibut, but this season is off to a promising start as generally not much happens until April.” Another boat was anchored in 11 feet of water east of the Pumphouse with ghost shrimp and put in six legal bass. Fraser said, “We are like a 7-11 out here right now as it has been so busy, particularly with more and more shore fishermen taking up the sport. McNear’s Pier has been the hot spot for shore fishing.” Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said, “Captain Gordie Hough on the Morningstar put in a 59-inch sturgeon, released a 74-inch sturgeon along with five shakers in addition to 15 striped bass and five leopard shark in San Pablo Bay.” Halibut also have been taken by trollers pulling dead jack smelt at the Whaling Station along the bottom on the incoming tide. James Smith on the California Dawn will be returning to the Berkeley Marina on April 3 for his first halibut trip of the season, and he said, “This season is gearing up like last year with a number of halibut at the start of the season but slowing down by May until the large fish come back into the bay and along the coast. There are good ocean conditions, and I observed 10 acres of anchovies on the South Bar on my last trip outside of the Gate with birds and sea lions all over the place in the bait.” Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley went out with a cornucopia of bait Saturday with live shiners, live anchovies, and live mudsuckers in the tanks, and they worked hard for a pair of bass and four halibut to 12 pounds for 24 anglers. He said, “The bass were on the move, and there was quite a bit of boat pressure, which affects the fish. There were trollers working the corner at Red Rock, and the boat pressure puts the fish down.” They found an early bite at the Berkeley Pier, immediately hooking up with four fish while skiffs also were fighting fish around them. Smith added, “This seems to be the general pattern as trollers are working throughout the day for nothing before the fish go on the bite at the bottom of the incoming tide from slack tide to 30 minutes into the flood.” They lost a nice halibut, as the larger shiners take some more finesse to allow the fish to fully swallow the bait. In San Pablo Bay, Smith saw plenty of bait above the Sisters, but there was a scarcity from the Sisters back to Emeryville. A small herring spawn occurred at Elephant Rock in Tiburon on Saturday. Smith will be searching for live bait during the week for next weekend’s trip. The New Salmon Queen had a solid day on Sunday with 10 halibut to 30 pounds in the central bay.
San Luis Obispo
Wit the Central Coast Management Rockfish region opening April 1, boats from both county ports are scheduling open-load trips. The following are regulation changes for the current season: you many only keep five black rockfish within the bag limit of 10 rockfish, California scorpion fish may only be kept from April 1 through Aug. 31 and the ling cod limit has increased to three with a minimum size of 22 inches. The Avila Beach Kid’s Fishing Derby is Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. for children 15 and younger with a $5 entry. For the next couple of weeks, the boats are limited to sand dab/crab, whale watching, or nature cruises. Out of Port San Luis, the Patriot went on sand dab/crab combination trips Saturday with 12 anglers for 32 sand dabs and an impressive 64 Dungeness crab. These trips are offered for $60 for adults and $50 for those 12 and younger. Patriot is selling season passes for the 2015 rockfish season for $1,000. Whale watching and nature cruises will leave out of Morro Bay Landing and Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay for the next several months. Virg’s is running whale watching trips Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for $39 for adults and $29 for children. Virg’s is offering a 10% discount for group charters booking an entire boat for a trip before season opens. Surf perch fishing remained excellent at Oceano or Pismo Beaches motor oil grubs.
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 **** Striper *** Sturgeon *** Catfish ** Bluegill ***
Sturgeon fishing was solid in lower Suisun Bay over the weekend with six-packs, private boats, and the only party boat working the Delta reporting solid action for shaker, oversized, and slot-limit diamondbacks. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing out of Martinez said, “We had five fishermen on Saturday, and they hooked nine sturgeon with three slot fish at 56, 44, and 44 inches along with releasing three jumbo shakers and three others lost in the process. Most of the action was during the outgoing tide near Buoy 4 in 34 feet of water with lamprey eel.” Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing also found solid action with four shakers, a 75-inch oversized released, and a 43-inch keeper landed on both tides on salmon roe near Buoy 2. Clapp said, “John Wilson of Citrus Heights landed the legal fish while Jerry Murphy fought the oversized for 45 minutes before the sturgeon wrapped into the anchor chain. We had to pull the anchor in order to untangle the line, and we were able to successfully release the oversized sturgeon at the boat.” Captain Chris Smith of the Captain Hook, also out of Martinez, said, “Dan Wulff of Manteca had the hot stick on Sunday with a 61-inch oversized released at the boat along with a pair of shaker sturgeon and shaker bass. Lamprey eel has been our top bait, and we had tons of bites this weekend. On Saturday, Kevin Haumera of Los Banos, who had never even been on a boat before, landed a 41-inch legal sturgeon within five minutes of anchoring in the morning, and his sister, Dana Summers-Haumera, also went home with a 44-inch diamondback.” Brother James Smith on the California Dawn found four legal sturgeon over the weekend with slot-limit fish at 42 and 52 inches on Saturday along with six shakers and an oversized that spit the barbless hook, combined with legal fish at 55 and 57 inches, four shakers, and a 64-inch oversized released on Friday.” He has been working lower Suisun Bay from the Benicia/Martinez Bridge east to the Big Cut with salmon roe or eel. His stay in Martinez will end on March 29th when he will return to Berkeley for the live bait season. Captain Steve Mitchell on the Top Gun also squeezed in on the action with a pair of legal sturgeon, four shakers, and a pair of upper slot limit fish lost during the fight on Sunday. He said, “The fish fought good today, and they bit on both tides at the top and the bottom of the water movement.” Big stripers to 38 pounds have been caught and kept near the Firing Line in deep water during the past week, continuing the trend of huge stripers being removed from the system. Fishermen out of McAvoy’s have been outfitting their vehicles with bait tanks and traveling from the bay back to the Delta with jack smelt for the large fish. Bullheads and mudsuckers are scarce, and the huge fish are seeking big baits, particularly at the top of the tide. Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg said, “The Pittsburg PGE Plant and Collinsville have been the top locations for sturgeon, and several big stripers are coming to the shop from deep water with baits unable to be sold in bait shops.” Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported, “Business has been off the charts as the great weather is bringing out numbers of fishermen, and we are all struggling for bait. Curtis Hayes shrimped twice on Saturday, and we went through 45 pounds of grass shrimp within a few hours. By the time I got to the shop on Sunday, 30 dozen ghost shrimp and 5 boxes of pile worms were gone.” For striped bass, two self-proclaimed “average striper trollers”, Bill Crooks and Guy Brown of Sacramento, went out for a refresher course with striper trolling expert Mark Wilson in order to get up to speed, leading Crooks to state, “It proved once again that you need to work hard to find biting fish.” They trolled four hours in dense fog on the San Joaquin for two shaker stripers before moving over to the Sacramento below Rio Vista for 14 legal fish to 13 pounds along with five shakers. Crooks added, “We trolled many locations with both deep and shallow lures, and other than the 13-pounder which was released and a 5-pounder, the remaining fish were in the 18 to 21-inch range. We thought there was nothing left to learn, we were wrong.” J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said, “The striper action is definitely getting better every day, as we have been finding more consistently on our trips with at least 10 chances on topwater fish. We have caught and released stripers to 15 pounds within the past week, and the water is looking clear on the Sacramento River up to at least the Power Lines.” The boat traffic has been heavy on the weekends in the Sacramento River. Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “The area from Liberty Island to Steamboat Slough has been loaded with big stripers, and anglers are releasing big fish from 18-30 pounds on 10 to 12-inch swimbaits produced by Jason Kincannon or by River2Sea. The water is already 65 degrees at Liberty Island, and there is the possibility that the fish are spawning in this section of the river.” In the Freeport area, New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport held their 9th Annual Sturgeon Derby on Sunday, and Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s said, “The sturgeon bite in the upper river has been hit or miss, but the stripers are clearing moving through the river system with linesides to 37 inches taken from the banks off of River Road.” Jumbo minnows have been the ticket for stripers while ghost shrimp, pile worms, cured eel, or eel are the top bait for sturgeon. California wildlife officers cited a man on poaching charges last week, prior to successfully resuscitating the fish and returning it to the Sacramento River. Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were conducting surveillance on a suspected sturgeon poacher on the river near Clarksburg, when they watched him hook up on what appeared to be a very large fish. As the officers watched, the suspect immediately moved the fish to the bed of his pickup and left the scene. An additional wildlife officer was called in and conducted a traffic stop. The fish was found to be a white sturgeon, oversized (at 66 inches) and untagged. The suspect was cited accordingly. CDFW officers quickly measured and photographed the fish for evidence purposes and then transported it back to the river’s edge in an attempt to resuscitate it and release it back to the wild. A group of nearby sturgeon fishermen shot video of the rescue effort while a wildlife officer patiently worked with the nearly dead fish in shallow water, rocking it back and forth to force water over its gills. After about 20 minutes, the fish gained the strength to swim away. The video has been posted on YouTube. In the San Joaquin River, the topwater striper bite broke out in low-light conditions during the week with Kenji Nagakawa, Pro Staffer for Delta Wood Bombers and member of “The Bomb Squad,” catching and releasing big linesides during the week. He went out on the San Joaquin River one evening with his bride of two weeks, and he caught and released this huge 22-pound striper on the 6-inch Nakagawa Delta Wood Bomber. He said, “My wife Anne also broke in her new Blue Bone DWB on a scrappy 3-pounder, and we had our chances on a few other big fish, but we couldn’t put a hook into them. The spring run is on, and it looks like it’s going to bust wide open in the next couple of days as we had tons of swirls and missed bites.” Nakagawa took out his friend, Elvis Rocha, on a subsequent evening trip, and Rocha released a 16-pounder on a Delta Wood Bomber. Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing out of Korth’s Pirate’s Lair said, “The stripers aren’t coming easy, but we’re getting them. It has been pretty much limits every trip, but we have to weed through a bunch of little ones with up to 40 linesides released in order to put together a limit of keepers.” The group from Drive Line Services in Sacramento filled the boat on back-to-back trips, and the second group returned with bragging rights after experiencing a few hot bait stops with live minnows. The bite is ready to bust wide open.” Fly fishing is also improving, and Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported, “Striper fishing is hot right now. Most of the small fish are fat and in the 5- to 6-pound range. The larger fish are in the 8- to 12-pound range. The fishing has been fun, and it is a great time to enjoy spring time fishing, as the largemouth bite is just starting to turn on.” Bait fishing is also producing, and Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures out of Bethel Harbor got into a larger than normal grade of striper with Davis McGanny landing a 25.5-inch striper on frozen shad on the outgoing tide in False River. He said, “We limited out by 2 p.m. and called it a day.” For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported an awesome largemouth bite with the ima Squarebill crankbait in bluegill or crawdad patterns in shallow water from the banks to 6 feet in depth. “You throw the lure towards the banks and tick the tops of the weeds on your way back to the boat, and we have been finding bass in the 5- to 6-pound range with the Squarebill. When the wind is blowing, the half-ounce Persuader Imaged Blade spinnerbait in chartreuse/white or shad patterns are working as well as the 10-inch Berkley Power Worm for better than average fish to 8 pounds,” advised Pringle. He added, “The water temperature is rising quickly and clearing up, leading the bass up to the spawn within a few weeks.” Sturgeon fishing is on the upswing near Antioch, and Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait reported the area near the Antioch Power Lines has produced legal sturgeon with one angler finding one slot-limit fish and a 12-pound striped bass while releasing five shaker sturgeon and an oversized using ghost shrimp. Catfishing has been best from a boat near Holland Tract, but bank anglers can also get in on the action in the warming waters. In the Stockton area, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported small striped bass from 18-24 inches can be found near Windmill Cove, Whiskey Slough, Inland Drive, and the Old River near the Highway 4 Bridge with anchovies or sardines. He said, “The largemouth bass are already on the beds, and the bite has been slow for the bed fish.” Catfishing has been best in the upper San Joaquin near Highway 132 with fresh clams. Fresh shad is still absent from area bait shops.
Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass*** White bass *** Striper** Catfish** Crappie**
Lopez Lake continues to kick out big limits of largemouth bass. Twenty-five anglers weighed in limits during Sunday’s Best Bass Tournament. Limits of 25 pounds were necessary to take the event, and jigs or swimbaits were successful for the large fish of more than 8 pounds. Santa Margarita is also kicking out an occasional large fish on a swimbait. At Nacimiento, white bass are active near the Heritage Launch Ramp at dusk, and small spotted bass continue to be the story with fish to 1.5 pounds common, with crankbaits, plastic worms or spinnerbaits effective. Santa Margarita is open for rental boats or kayaks, canoes, or float tubes as the lake needs to come up to 30% in order for the launch ramp to be operable. The marina store is open again seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. San Antonio remains very low with only kayaks, canoes, or float tubes able to be released into the lake. A few striped bass, largemouth bass and catfish are available. There are several tournaments scheduled for Lopez in the coming weeks, and the lake will host the Outdoor Discovery Festival on May 9. Information is available at slocountyparks.org/programs_services/outdoor_discovery_festival.htm. Reminder that consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish or carp is subject to safe eating guidelines becuase of the risk excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Best Bass Tournament on March 14 at New Melones: 1, Rich and Ron Ingram 30.65 pounds; 2, Bryce Harris/Steve Sepulveda 22.79 (big fish 11.51); 3, Mike Sanders/Ron Selk 19.93
Sonora Bass Club on March 14 at New Melones: 1, Jason Wood/Brian Anderson 13.12 pounds; 2, Dave and Josh Lingo 12.27 (big fish 5.05); 3, Mike Taylor/Robbie Vann 12.05
Kerman Bass Club Team Tournament on March 14 at Don Pedro: 1, Jeff and Butch Farmer 15.22; 2, Ed and Cory Kerber 15.22 (big fish 4.44); 3, John and Justin Horton 12.78
Kerman Bass Club on March 15 at Don Pedro: 1, James Horton 17.90 pounds; 2, Cory Kerber 15.53 (bg fish 6.37); 3, George Espino 11.78.
Visalia Bass Club on March 14 at Kaweah: 1, Josh Adams/Phillip Bowers 12.32 pounds(big fish 5.23); 2, Garrett Bradford/Mike Sharp 11.56; 3, John Beasley/McKenzie Agrinaga 9.91.
Success Bass Club on March 15 at Success: 1, Jeff and Junior Demacablin 14.03 pounds; 2, Mark Abler/Ray Guerke 12.62; 3, Darl Head/Antonio Gonzalez 12.44
Best Bass Tournaments on March 15 at Lopez: 1, Matt Clausen/Troy Tidwell 25.45-pounds (big fish 6.77); 2, Ray Huff/Tim Caudle 21.13; 3, Meade Hendricks/Steve Morris 17.53
March 21-22: Don Pedro, Sierra Bass Two-Day
March 21: Delta/Russo’s, American Bass Association; Delta/Ladd’s Marina, Manteca Bassin’Buddies; New Melones, Future Pro Tour; Don Pedro, Angler’s Choice; Pine Flat, Bakersfield Bass Club; Kaweah, Kern County Bass Masters; Lopez, American Bass Association
March 22: Delta/Tracy Oasis, Tracy Bass Club; New Melones, Modesto Ambassadors; Don Pedro, Fresno Bass Club/Mid Valley Bass Club; Success, American Bass Association
March 28: Delta/Ladd’s Marina, Christian Bass League; Delta/Russo’s Marina, Angler’s Choice; Nacimiento, Taft Bass Club; Lopez, 101 Bass
March 29: Delta/B and W Resort, California Bass Federation; Delta/Ladd’s Marina, Stockton Bass
April 18: Pine Flat, Kokanee Power Trout Derby, kokaneepower.org
Fresno County: Kings River, below Pine Flat Dam; Avocado Lake
Kern County: Kern River, sections 1-3; River Walk Lake; Hart Park Lake; Lake Isabella; Truxtun Lake
Merced: Merced River, Section I; Yosemite Lake