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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “fish photo” in the subject line.
Delta sturgeon, striper and bass action going, Steve Mitchell said. Eastman swimbait bite for bass kicks off, and Nacimiento bass action good, Dave Hurley reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2; Catfish 2
The main San Luis Reservoir is still getting the most play from striper fishermen, but a few anglers are starting to see what is going on in the northern section of the California Aqueduct. The key is to find moving water and run Duo Realis jerkbaits on a planer. In the southern aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Most fishermen in our area are targeting planted trout in the local reservoirs, but there are still a few anglers out there seeking catfish with frozen clams or live crickets or for striped bass with sardines, blood worms or tube baits.” The popularity of the aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, who in order to ensure continued access are encouraged to remove trash and other debris when departing.
Bass 3; Trout 2; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
The recent trout plants have spurred on a swimbait bite for quality largemouth bass with the best action in the afternoon on Huddleston swimbaits in a rainbow trout pattern. Trout fishermen are scoring planters from shore with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. Catfishing is best at night with chicken livers or nightcrawlers. The RiverRats are holding an open tournament on New Year’s Day out of the Cordoniz launch ramp. The lake rose slightly to 58 percent capacity.
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2
Planted rainbow trout are the best thing going with the bass bite slowing down. The planters should bring out the larger bass on swimbaits, but there have been few reports from this technique. Trout anglers are scoring a few planters from the shorelines with nightcrawlers or trout dough bait. Bass fishing is slow overall with a report of one bite for four hours of fishing. Catfish are still a possibility with anchovies, nightcrawlers or chicken livers at night. The lake rose slightly to 19 percent capacity.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2; Trout 3; King salmon 1; Crappie 2
It has been a wait of several months, but the trout bite at Don Pedro has finally taken off as predicted once the water cooled enough to bring the rainbows toward the surface. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing has been waiting to work the lake for the past few months, and he found an opportunity with two clients Friday. He said, “We started in one location for nothing, but when we went to our second spot, we had a steady bite for three hours using my custom shad-patterned spoons on lead core. My two clients, Mike Howe and John Kern of Modesto, landed a total of nine rainbows to 3.5 pounds, and we released four of the rainbows along with two lost at the boat and several other good strikes. The key was finding the grebes, and the birds had the shad corralled as they were constantly diving. We trolled through the birds, and we hooked up. The bite wasn’t red hot, but it was solid and steady. The lake hasn’t turned over yet, but it has at least 10 feet of visibility and a temperature in the 59- to 60-degree range. The rainbows were spitting up shad ranging from one-half to 1.5 inches, and one of the trout was loaded with nine small shad.” The lake is at 80 percent capacity.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2; Trout 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Planted trout with Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, rainbow garlic, or garlic are the best thing going in our area with most fishermen heading to the local lakes or the upper Kern River to the Johnsondale Bridge. Few anglers have been heading to Lake Isabella, but catfish remain the best opportunity for success with frozen clams, sardines or anchovies are all working for the whiskerfish. The bass action remains slow although I have found good action during the winter months throwing plastics in the warmer water along the sunlit banks in the afternoons.” The lake held at 29 percent capacity. The upper and lower sections of the Kern River continue to be planted on a regular basis, and the upper Kern upstream of the Johnsondale Bridge is closed for fishing. The trout plants before the mid-November Taft Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby at Buena Vista are still in the lake, and the bite is fair at best with Mice Tails, Power Bait or inflated nightcrawlers.
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2
With the water cooling, the bass have retreated deeper in search of the shad schools, and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “We have been selling a number of one-half to three-quarters ounce Hopkins or CC Spoons for anglers heading to Kaweah.” The bass are as deep as 70 feet around the shad schools. Planted trout are generating interest with Power Bait, Mice Tails, or Kastmasters from the second launch ramp. Bluegill can be found with red worms, meal worms or wax worms. The lake rose slightly to 12 percent capacity.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2; Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Co. in Springville said, “The bass bite has slowed down with the colder weather, and the best bet is a slow presentation with either jigs or plastics on the drop-shot as the fish have gone into deep water. Bass fishermen are showing less interest compared to prior weeks. There have been a number of shore fishermen targeting planted rainbow trout with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Panther Martin spinners.” The lake held at 11 percent capacity. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The flow is perfect, and trout fishing is fair with nymphs.”
Bass 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Crappie 2; Catfish 2
The bass bite has been challenging at best, but the California Tournament Trail event Saturday produced limits from all 13 teams with the winning weight in excess of 13 pounds and the lightest limit in the 8-pound range. The bass are holding deep, with the largest fish found higher in the water column with umbrella rigs, crankbaits or swimbaits. There were no trout reports. The lake was at 65 percent capacity.
Anglers are advised to contact McSwain Marina on the status of the private plants from the Calaveras Trout Farm. There will be none from the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the near future. Trout fishing is fait at best with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers from the normal locations of the handicapped docks, brush pile and the peninsula near the marina.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2; Striped bass 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 1; Crappie 2
At Millerton, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The quality of bass is not as good as at Pine Flat, but the overall numbers are better. The bite has slowed somewhat, but you can still catch 4-5 fish out of one area at depths from 15-30 feet. There is some movement in the afternoons with the bass moving into the shallows to 10 feet, but everything is on the bottom with plastics, jigs or spoons. Most fishermen are using shad-patterned plastics, but there has been some success with watermelon Hula Grubs. I haven’t heard of any striped bass this week.” The lake rose to 66 percent capacity.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
Huge rainbow trout are still a possibility, but anglers will have to work long and hard for the chance at a quality ’bow. The Glory Hole Sports Catfish Derby came to an end Nov. 30, and some big whiskerfish hit the scales during the monthlong competition. Elmo Baur took first at 21.56 pounds for two fish with his largest at 13.17 pounds. Jeremy Clinkenbeard was second at 20.68 pounds and Gary Gallamore third out of 45 anglers at 14.52 pounds. Big Rock Sports and Hendrix Outdoors were sponsors for the raffle prizes for the event. Bass fishing is best with finesse presentations as temperatures continue to drop. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “I took out clients on Wednesday of the past week, and we tried lead core near the Spillway for no action as they wouldn’t hit the shad-patterned spoons on lead core so we switched over to running the spoons on downriggers at depths from 25-55 feet for nothing as well. I slowed it down by rolling shad, and we only received two bites all day, but these bites produced quality rainbows at 3.5 and 4.5 pounds. The action has slowed down as it is much slower than it was when I was last on the lake in September, and the bite wasn’t red hot at that time either. although we landed a number of quality rainbows. With the action slow overall at New Melones, I opted for Don Pedro for far better results on my next trip.” John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service proved you don’t need a reaction bait to land a truly large fish with his 15.19-pound largemouth on a drop-shot a few weeks back. The best action is found with finesse techniques of jigs or plastics on the drop-shot in crawdad patterns at depths to 40 feet. Once the water cools further, the swimbait bite will improve. The lake held at 83 percent capacity, but major water releases down the Stanislaus River are scheduled in the coming weeks.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Millerton and Pine Flat reservoirs continue to attract bass anglers from central Valley towns, but the action is sporadic with the majority of action found on the bottom. The trout bite has picked up at Pine Flat given recent plants, and there are still vestiges of a crappie bite in the upper portion of the lake. Kerman Bass Club held a tournament Saturday at Pine Flat with 17 anglers weighing in eight limits composed of 60 fish for 100.48 pounds a 1.67-pound average. John Albidrez of Fresno was the top finisher at 9.79 pounds with a big fish of 3.52. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite is sporadic at best with jigs, brass ’n’ glass, or plastics on the Texas-rig or drop-shot at depths from 15-40 feet with the best cut of fish found from 30-40 feet. There is a good spoon bite with half or three-quarter-ounce spoons, and we are selling a lot of three-quarter-ounce Hopkins and CC spoons in silver or blue/silver.” For trout, Gilbert reported improving action in the main lake from Cove Island Marina to the power lines with Needlefish, Apex lures, Wedding Rings tipped with a ’crawler or blade/’crawler combinations at 4-6 colors of lead core. Some crappie have been found from Trimmer to Sycamore and in Deer Creek with 1-inch Strike King or Gulp! crappie minnows in shad patterns. Pine Flat rose to 48 percent apacity.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2; Catfish 2; Bass 2; Crappie 1
San Luis Reservoir remains the top option for San Jose- and Fresno-area striped bass fishermen, however the overall bite has recently slowed. The lake is getting more pressure than in the past several years with the emergence of fishing groups such as the Fishaholics out of Fresno and How To Fish out of the Hollister area. Most of the striped bass are schoolies, but there have been some quality linesides in excess of 30 pounds landed. Travis Porter of Hollister and How To Fish said, “ It was a tough bite for us on Saturday as I only landed four keepers to 23 inches along with another fou shakers. Allen Day from Morgan Hill and Octavio Gonzalez of Hollister landed numbers of linesides throwing topwater lures in the mornings. Joe Drewry of Salinas landed a huge 43-inch, 35-pound striper trolling a C-Rig around the Romero Visitor Center.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the overall bite has slowed for numbers for most anglers. “There is a topwater bite at times that was producing most of the fish the guys I talked to were getting, with the trolling bite much tougher. I took out Earl Heitzmann of Mariposa, son Josh and grandson Miles, 4, for more than 20 fish to 23 inches last Tuesday right after the storm. The fish were mostly suspended and tough to catch. On Thursday, Jim Bartko, ex-Fresno State athletic director, and his uncle Dan caught over 25 total fish released with three fish in the 24- to 25-inch range.” George continued, “ The fish are schooled up and moving around in big groups, and if you miss hitting the dense pack it may look like you can’t find the fish. I’ve had some good anglers complaining they can’t find any fish on their sonar. It’s changed the game and it’s not a lock out there now. The topwater bite is sporadic and mostly in the morning – hit it, you look good; miss it, it’s hard. The water is about 64 degrees. There are still a lot of anglers keeping the bigger fish; guys need to realize there are no more striper plants anymore and what we have is it! Destroy the spawners and the fishery, and we all pay.” Alex Tran of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “There have been some decent keepers in the main lake, and we are selling lots of jumbo minnows for drifting. In the Forebay, there is a topwater bite with Walk-the-Dog style baits in the early mornings when the fish are boiling, and the Evergreen SB 150 in shad patterns has been the top seller this week. This is a Pencil Popper-type lure. You have to go through a bunch of shakers to pick up a limit of legal fish. Umbrella rigs and ripbaits are also working while shore fishermen are soaking pile worms or jumbo minnows around Check 12.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We sold out of 7-inch Super Flukes this week for San Luis, and we are getting a lot of calls for Lucky Crafts which continue to be hard to obtain.” San Luis rose once again to 75 percent capacity with increased pumping from the south Delta as heavy releases out of New Hogan and New Melones have poured into the Delta.
Bass 2; Trout 2
At Bass Lake, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The launch ramp is close to being out of the water with the lake at 53 percent, but bass fishermen are reporting plenty of rainbows in the lake with one picking up two to 19 inches while drop-shotting. The bass bite is fair at best as the water temperature remains unusually warm at this time of year. The swimbait bite should take off soon, as trout plants have increased the number of rainbows in the lake. There are quality rainbows to 19 inches taken on a variety of methods including incidental catches by bass fishermen drop-shotting. The launch ramp is limited to small or aluminum boats with the water level dropping to 52 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com/.
Kaiser Pass Road closed Dec. 1, with access to the area limited to those on snowmobile. Edison is at 40 percent capacity, Florence at 2 percent and Mammoth Pool at 8 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2; Trout 2
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters out of Shaver Lake said, “There were a few boats on the lake over the weekend with the beautiful weather in the 60s, and a few fish have been taken from the boats. A limit of mixed kokanee and rainbow trout is possible, but one or two fish per boat is the norm. There just hasn’t been much happening out there right now. The best action has been from Stevenson Creek to the island at depths to 20 feet. Bank fishing is also slow, but a few trophy rainbows can be taken with trout dough bait at Tunnel Creek. Huntington has produced some rainbows near inlets, especially near Deer Creek with trout dough bait.” Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service will be holding a seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods in Fresno at 6 p.m. Feb. 8, with Wittwer covering Shaver kokanee fishing and last year’s results and Nichols on trolling for trout, the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project’s 2018 plants and an overall forecast for the coming spring and summer. There will be drawings for prizes, with water and snacks provided. Nichols will be back on a part-time basis on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the 2018 season starting in April. Shaver ropped to 55 percent capacity, with Huntington rising to 74 percent. Huntington Lake Road closed to wheeled vehicles Dec. 1.
Call: Dick Nichols,Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937
The Central Sierra trout season is limited to lower-elevation Bass and Shaver lakes as the road to Courtright and Wishon closed Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Rockfish 2; Striper ; Crab 2
Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat said, “We canceled on Sunday due to the weather predictions, and the wind did come up in the afternoon, but we could have made the most of it in the morning. Saturday’s trip was hampered by the big swell, and the school fish of blues and yellows disappeared where we have been finding them. We ended up with a few chinas, but it was a slow day, and the swell also put the lings off of the bite. We put in a combined 18 limits of Dungeness crab on our trips on Thursday and Friday, but we had to run a number of pots and take a lot of time to get the 10-crab limits. We have a research trip to the Farallons on Tuesday to check on the ages of rockfish with full trips or charters on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The only day with room for combination trips this coming week is on Friday.”
Rockfish 3; Striper 2; Crab 2
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey said, “We were busy over the weekend, and the winds were supposed to be in the 20- to 30-knot range on Sunday, but they only proved to be from 10-20. We had quite a few cancellations over the weekend due to the weather reports. We didn’t pull crab pots on Sunday with the weather, but the Check Mate put in over two per angler on Saturday. The Check Mate and Caroline combined for 25 limits of rockfish and two lings on Sunday after the Check Mate, Caroline and Star of Monterey posted a combined 66 limits of rockfish and 37 lings on Saturday. The squid has disappeared, and combined with the big swell, the ling bite has been off. There is plenty of room during the weekdays, and we even have room this coming Sunday.”
San Francisco Bay
Striper 3; Rockfish 3; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 2; Crab 3
Mike Aughney at USAFishing.com said, “Rockfish limits are the rule and party boats are seeing a solid half to full limits of crabs. On Saturday, Fish Emeryville has three boats out. The New Huck Finn reported 17 limits of both crabs and rockfish. The Salmon Queen reported 25 limits of rockfish, six lings and 100 crabs while the Sea Wolf had 24 limits of rockfish, seven lings and 120 crabs. Boats that are seeing some soak time between crab pulls are finding some of the better counts. The weather was good today with a lazy 9-foot swell and winds under 7 knots. The forecast calls for breezy weather to build in on Sunday. Emeryville has room daily this week.” The Happy Hooker out of Berkeley Marina braved the seas on Sunday, and despite the rough weather, they returned with limits of crab along with near-limits of rockfish and a few lings. Inside the bay, Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina pulled the last of his crab pots on Friday after noting that there will be some wind in the coming day offshore, and there were only 12 crab in the traps. He went sturgeon fishing in San Pablo Bay on Saturday, and he said, “I know now where the sturgeon are not in the bay, but we landed limits of quality striped bass from 6-13 pounds on the anchor soaking live bait or Loch Lomond ghost shrimp.” Slate will be focusing on sturgeon and striped bass trips in the bay for the coming months, and he is hoping for more and more sturgeon to make their way from the Delta into the bays.
San Luis Obispo
Limits of rockfish were the rule out of Morro Bay over the weekend with the Avenger out of Morro Bay Landing returning with 19 limits of rockfish composed of 30 vermilion, 20 copper and 140 assorted to go along with 12 ling cod to 12 pounds Sunday. Out of Virg’s Landing, the Rita G went on a half-day trip and the Fiesta on a three-quarter-day trip Friday with a combined 41 fishermen for 310 assorted rockfish and 100 vermilion for limits along with sevem lings to 12 pounds. Of concern is the vastly decreased number of ling cod landed out of Virg’s Landing this season with around 2,900 after two consecutive years of over 8,200 lings landed during the season. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, the Flying Fish and the Patriot went out on Sunday with 38 anglers for limits composed of two vermilion, two cabezon, 376 assorted rockfish and 15 ling cod to 8 pounds along with a bonus sheephead. The ling cod count out of Patriot has dropped nearly 1,800 from the 2016 total with 27 days left in the season. All landings are taking a variety of trips ranging from a half-day to long range in the coming weeks, with the season ending Dec. 31.
Bass 3; Striper 3; Sturgeon 4; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
It’s prime time for sturgeon and striped bass on the Sacramento-Delta, and Suisun Bay has been the hot spot for sturgeon while stripers are found at both ends of the Delta. With the water temperature hitting the magic 56-degree mark, the action has been tremendous for private and six-pack operators. Captain John Badger continues his hot streak with up to five limits of sturgeon during the present week. Badger said, “The key for us has been to move around for as long as it takes to find enough fish in order to set the pick. We have searched for up to two hours before we put out baits in the water, and we are finding them in the strangest places as they will be somewhere else the following day. We went into the shallows with the larger tides this weekend, and once I come out of the Martinez harbor, I am already looking around and checking everything. Ledges and contours have been the top locations. Once I find them, I am stopping, but you can’t tell from day to day as the conditions are changing. Fresh roe has been the top bait as with the lack of fresh water, the roe isn’t turning white right now. I will continue to run the fresh roe until it starts turning white when the fresh water arrives. One big storm will change everything. The water temperature is ideal at 56 degrees, and the sturgeon bite is improving around midday. One a recent trip, we launched late as my clients were hung up in the fog, and we put our baits in the water at 11 for one slot-limit sturgeon before a long period of slow action. The bite took off between 3:30 and 4 p.m., and we ended up with limits. I have taken to using a timer to accurately measure how long our baits are in the water, and each bait stays out for 30 minutes. If we don’t get bit within 1.5 hours, we are moving. The good thing about using the roe is the eggs are spread out all over the place as they break off, and the sturgeon will move to the bait. Small stripers also help when they hit the bait and break off small pieces, distributing the scent.” Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg found good action Sunday with five slot-limit sturgeon with three legal sturgeon coming within 10 minutes after holding with two keepers at 53 and 46 inches by 4 p.m. They also released a 64-inch oversized along with a few shakers. He said, “We were just in the right place at the right time when the fish decided to bite as we were ready to pull the pick at the end of the day when the bites came on strong. The fish bit on both tides on both salmon roe and eel, and the sturgeon have been found in both deep and shallow water. The previous day, the bite was slow, and we missed a good number of opportunities. One of our customers did land a striped bass pushing 20 pounds.” For striped bass, Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “Live bait has been the best thing going in the north Delta, and live mudsuckers are producing the larger stripers while spooning is only locating dinks in the 8- to 12-inch range.” Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Liberty Island, Steamboat Slough, and the Sacramento Deep Water Channel are the top locations for striped bass, and live mudsuckers or minnows have been the ticket. Fresh or frozen shad or sardines coated with garlic spray are also working for the linesides. A few sturgeon have been taken around Hood or Courtland with eel/pile worm combinations or grass shrimp.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, had a similar report relating to small striped bass on the Sacramento River in the north Delta. He said, “We were targeting stripers in the early morning with the ima Little Stick, and instead of a striper, my young client landed a quality largemouth bass. We missed a big hen on a blow up, and after finding a bunch of smaller stripers, we switched over to largemouth bass with the ima Pinjack in crawdad patterns on 15-pound test. We were working rocky structure in the afternoon since it holds the warmer of the sun, and the bite improved in the afternoon, and we caught and released over 40 largemouth with the crankbaits. I have been targeting north-facing, sun-activated banks since the sun will warm up the water, and in the area we have been fishing, there is a minimum of shad. That is why I think the crawdad pattern is working much better. I did throw a chartreuse crankbait to mix things up from my clients, and I also caught and released a number of largemouth. These are the northern-strain largemouths who are more active in the colder water. The tides were very small with only a 1.5 foot swing, and once the tide came back in, we started throwing swimbaits for stripers with our largest fish at 22 inches.” Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, reported plenty of action this week trolling at the West Bank, Horseshoe Bend, and Broad Slough, but size was a concern. He said, “These look like new arrivals as they are bright and clean, but the grade is small with a number of 18- to 19-inchers with the larger fish to 24 inches taken on the West Bank.” Steffan Masters of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle in Antioch reported “off the hook” sturgeon action out in front of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor with several sturgeon brought to the shop along with oversized and undersized reported. He said, “We are keeping full tanks of grass shrimp in our shop along with ghost shrimp, pile worms, mudsuckers, and bullheads.” Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle said, “Live bullheads have really slowed down on the past week as our owner, Curtis Hayes, had been getting 15 dozen and now he is only picking up around 15 bullheads. Fishing has been good with a number of quality striped bass near Pittsburg, and sturgeon are coming from the Big Cut and also at the Mothball Fleet.” Boaters are advised to use extreme caution in the northeast corner of Honker Bay as a submerged wreck high centered a six-pack operator for 10 hours last weekend as it is undetectable at high tide. The San Joaquin-Delta has been host to innumerable counts of small striped bass, and the trick has been to locate legal fish. Largemouth bass fishing has been solid with crawdad-imitation crankbaits as the fish are gorging before the temperatures drop to winter conditions. Increased flows from New Hogan and New Melones has brought more cold water into the San Joaquin system, and combined with the highest tides of the year, the river has been rising. James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service has also been finding small legal fish in the San Joaquin system near Eddo’s Marina. He said, “It was a bit slower this week, but we still managed 6 limits of legal stripers.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Largemouth Bass fishing is rated good. Catching some nice ones while trying to locate stripers. Targeting stripers has been more difficult. We need more stripers to come up from the Bay and Middle Grounds. If you happen to locate a migrating school you are in luck. The Delta is truly beautiful at this time of year. The waterfowl and many birds that fish are fun to observe.” Neil Simpson of Lodi was out on Sunday for largemouth bass, and he said, “Yesterday seemed to be the day as my friends hammered the bass with the overcast and foggy conditions. We started at noon, and we only picked up a few largemouth bass with mostly reaction baits of chatterbaits and swimjigs.”
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3; White bass 2; Striper 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Lake Nacimiento produced quality spotted bass limits during Saturday’s American Bass Tournament, and the winning limits were larger than the two tournaments at the central Valley lakes over the weekend. Numbers are found on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head or dart head, but the larger fish are taken on reaction baits such as swimjigs, spoons, or small swimbaits on an underspin. White bass are getting more active with small white Kastmasters or Roostertails. The lake held at 43 percent capacity. A webcam is available at lakenacimientolive.com/. At Lopez, there is a small window for topwater lures in the early morning with the best action still on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. There is some subsurface action with crankbaits or spinnerbaits. The topwater bite is limited to a small window in the early mornings. The bluegill and perch action remain solid with meal worms or red worms around submerged structure. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam/. At San Antonio, the lake is on its winter schedule and open weekends only from Friday at 6 a.m. until Sunday at 6 p.m. while the North Shore is closed for the season. Striped bass action is fair at best with a few linesides landed on umbrella rigs or shad-patterned swimbaits. There have been reports of boils in the early mornings, but the stripers have been reluctant to hit lures. Catfishing remains on the slow side, but a few bass are coming on plastics, spoons, or jigs. At Santa Margarita, the crappie bite and bluegill bite is the best bet with crappie jigs for the slabsides along with red worms or meal worms for bluegill or perch. Bass fishing is hit or miss, but a few largemouths have been taken on reaction baits. Catfishing is starting to show signs of life with cut baits, dough baits, or nightcrawlers. Reminder that consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines because of the risk of excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
- American Bass Association on Dec. 2 at Delta/Russo’s Marina: 1, Harvey Pulliam/Jamond Andrews 21.40 pounds (big fish 6.42); 2, Ken Mah/Jason Austin 18.73; 3, Jerred Jennings/Alan DaSilva 17.28
- California Tournament Trail on Dec. 2 at McClure: 1, Danny Wood/Cliff Woods 13.66 (big fish 3.33); 2, Randy and Glenn Pierson 12.21; 3, Mark Andrews/Charles Welch 11.95
- Kerman Bass Club on Dec. 2 at Pine Flat: 1, John Albidrez 9.79 pounds (big fish 3.52); 2, Darren Graef 9.51; 3, Dave McEwen 8.36
- American Bass Association on Dec. 2 at Nacimiento: 1, Del and Darrin Bishop 13.58 pounds (big fish 4.83); 2, Jim Graddy/Fred Misono 12.43; 3, Tom Nieto/Bryan Grier 11.96
- Dec. 9: McClure, New Jen Bass Tournaments; Pine Flat, Sierra Bass Club
- Dec. 10: Don Pedro, Riverbank Bass Anglers/Modesto Ambassadors; McClure, Fresno Bass Club; Pine Flat, Kings VIII Bass Club; Kaweah, New Jen Bass Tournaments
- Dec. 16: Millerton, New Jen Bass Tournaments
- Dec. 17: Delta/Russo’s Marina, Hook, Line, and Sinker; Eastman, Central Valley Kayak Fishing
- Dec. 19: New Melones, Sonora Bass Anglers
- Jan. 1: Eastman/Cordoniz Ramp, River Rats Open Team Tournament
q = quarter moon > = peak activity