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.
Eastman bass bite continues strong, Steve Newman said. New Melones bass fishing good, Mike Gomez reported. Pine Flat bass and trout hitting, Steve Newman said. San Luis stripers steady, Dave Hurley reported. Delta sturgeon and bass bites good, Randy Pringle said.
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2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2 Catfish 2
The interest in the northern section of the California Aqueduct is minimal with the solid action for striped bass in the main San Luis Reservoir. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Most of the reports that we are receiving are coming from the Los Banos area.” In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “There was a fat 25-pound striped bass landed on an anchovy in the southern section of the aqueduct over the weekend, and catfishing remains fair. Sardines are the top bait followed by anchovies, and a few fishermen continue to toss lures for limited success.”
The popularity of the California Aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, and in order to maintain the right to continue to fish along these public areas, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 1
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite remains solid, but it has slowed from the heyday of big fish a few weeks ago. There are still big largemouth bass to be had with the best action on brown/purple jigs or big plastics on a Carolina rig. The better fish are holding on isolated rockpiles, creek channels, or humps at 20 to 30 feet. The action is running in flurries, and the bite will turn on at certain times and then shut off quickly.” Jay Her Xiong landed a 7.27-pound largemouth bass at the lake this week. The water remains warm at 59 degrees. Planted rainbows are a possibility from the banks around the launch ramps with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake held at 59 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Fresno-area bass fishermen are bypassing this lake and its limited pool to take the drive north to Eastman for the possibility of a quality largemouth. A few fish are taken on jigs or Senkos, but the action is slow. Catfishing from the banks is fair with cut baits. The lake held at 22 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Trout fishing remains slow with few anglers heading to the lake at the present time, but there is hope with Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures heading to the lake this week. There are several bass tournaments in the coming month with the Kerman Bass Club on Feb. 3, New Jen Tournaments on Feb. 10, Best Bass Tournaments on Feb. 17, River Rats on Feb. 24, and Wild West Bass Trails on March 2. Bass fishing remains fair at best with the bait holding in deep water. The lake rose to 83 percent this week.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The crappie bite should start soon at Lake Isabella, and I imagine that we will start getting reports as soon as fishermen return to the lake in numbers. The best action right now is for planted trout with Power Bait or for catfish with sardines, clams or cut baits. In the local lakes, pink Power Bait and Mice Tails are popular for planted rainbows, and we are selling a number of Sierra Slammers in red/gold or pink. The lower river has been planted, and the action is decent for a few trout per rod with Power Bait. There are a few bass in the river closer to town.” The upper river is best in the deeper pools with salmon eggs, live crickets or nightcrawlers. Lake Isabella held at 29 percent.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Greg Sweeney of the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The best action for bass has been on the bottom with ice jigs or Silver Buddies along with plastics on the dart head or drop-shot as the fish remain holding near the shad schools.” Kaweah is the location for a number of upcoming bass tournaments including the New Jen Bass Tournaments on Feb. 4, Central Valley Kayak Fishing on Feb. 11 and Success Bass Club on Feb. 25. The lake has risen to 13 percent due to recent inflow. When the lake is this low, there are limited locations holding the best quality fish. The planted rainbows remaining in the lake are moving up the river arm.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “Bass fishing is fair, and anglers are picking up small bass using a slow retrieve with plastics. The bass bite should improve as the air temperatures are rising into the mid-70s. The spawn may occur earlier this year if the weather remains warm. Trout fishermen are scoring quality planters and are showing a lot of interest.” The lake held at 16 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The Tule is still slow on natives, but hopefully the rivers will be planted earlier this year.”
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 1 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
There are several bass tournaments scheduled on the lake during the month of February including the New Jen Tournaments on Feb. 3, California Bass Federation on Feb. 4, Best Bass Tournaments and the Sonora Bass Club on Feb. 10 and the Fresno and Kings VIII Bass Clubs on Feb. 11. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn and Berserk Baits said, “The bass bite continues to be slow, and the limits in the 12- to 13-pound range that are winning the tournaments are less than to be expected in a normal year. The bass are still holding in deeper water with finesse techniques working best.” The lake held 66 percent.
The McSwain Marina reported slow trout action as the last plant occurred on Jan. 4. A trout plant is anticipated prior to mid-February, but with the overall lack of planting in the past year, trout anglers are picking up a few fish at best per outing. Anglers should check the marina for upcoming trout plants. The marina and café are open on Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped Bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun said, “The bass bite has slowed to some degree as a consistent pattern has been absent. The best action is with plastics on a drop-shot or dart head along with a ned rig at depths from 20 to 40 feet in the main lake. The bass are not grouping up, and they are moving around. Anglers have to move continually to locate the bass, but the bite is short-lived with only a couple of fish taken from one spot before the action dies. Striped bass are becoming more active near Finegold and also in the main lake.” The lake rose to 71 percent this week.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
The trout continue to move into the shorelines leading to new techniques for trollers who have been focusing in deeper water for the past several months. Bass fishing has been outstanding with the fish suspending in deep water in the crystal-clear waters of the main lake.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “I am going to change my techniques for the next trip and leave the leadcore lines as a secondary option. I plan on running close to the shorelines and in the shallows with a variety of lures on big planer boards. I will be on the lake this week in search of more of the big rainbows.”
For bass, Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits and the Bait Barn in Waterford was on the lake on Sunday, and he reported outstanding action with the Berserk brown/purple or Purple Hornet jigs for bass ranging from 1.75 to 4 pounds. He said, “The bass are hitting the lures on the drop as they are suspended. The water is crystal-clear in the main lake, and I can’t tell how deep the fish are located since they are hitting it on the drop.”
The window for big bass on reaction baits will open once the water clouds up a bit. In a normal year, February and March are the best times for the big spotted and largemouth bass on swimbaits.
The lake held at 83 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The bass bite at Pine Flat remains on the rise as the swimbait fish are starting to get active. The best action remains on the bottom with jigs or plastics, but more and more of the quality bass are moving into the shallows.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun said, “The winning weight at the recent New Jen Tournaments was in excess of 16 pounds, and there have been swimbait bass in the 3- to 6-pound range taken regularly. One of our good anglers was prefishing for the tournament, and he witnessed large bass in the flats acting in pre-spawn mode. He went back to the area on tournament day, but there were already a couple of boats there, and the big fish at over 6 pounds was landed off of this flat. The jig and Ned rig bite has been consistent along with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head. Ripbaits and crankbaits are working along vertical walls or overhangs from 15 feet and deeper, and there are still bass taken on vertical jigs or ice jigs from 50 to 70 feet. The shad are schooling with the colder water, and anglers are finding the bait fish holding around deeper points in the main lake. Hopkins jigs or Rapala ice jigs in ½- to ¾-ounce are working for the mixed grade of bass with a number of 1.5- to 2-pound bass in the bait balls.”
For rainbow trout, Newman reported a good action with inflated nightcrawlers for bank anglers while trollers are working between the Power Lines and the dam at 4 to 5 colors of leadcore or around 20 feet in depth with Wedding Rings in orange, red or green. Shad patterns such as Cop Car in Apex or Needlefish are also working.”
Greg Sweeney of the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Fresno touted the lower Kings River for planted rainbows, saying, “A plant below Pine Flat Dam has improved action all the way to Avocado Lake, but there are certain areas with restrictions for barbless hooks only.” Pine Flat held at 51 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
San Luis Reservoir continues to be the hot spot for striped bass in the Central Valley, and fishermen from the Fresno and San Jose areas are bypassing the California Aqueduct and the O’Neill Forebay to work the big lake. The troll bite seems to be improving as the topwater action has slowed with the fish dropping in the water column.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun, “We have been selling a bunch of 7-inch Magnum Flukes in white or white ice, and anglers are using them on a ½- to ¾-ounce jig head, ripping them off of the main lake points. Ripbaits that run from 5 to 6 feet deep are also working as the topwater bite has slowed. The stripers are chasing bait in the coves, and many boaters are trolling to find the schools, and if they are high in the water column, stopping and throwing ripbaits or swimbaits.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that he took out Mike Strminska of Fresno, Jeff Schmiederer of Madera and Delta striper guide and Captain Steve Sorensen last week with Schmiederer landing a new PB 23-pounder and Sorensen a 20-pound striper. Sorensen fought another big fish for 5 minutes he felt was bigger than his 20-pounder before the hook pulled out. “I made a video of us releasing both fish using the Seaqualizer and San Luis may be using it on their site for anglers to see how to do it. We finished off the day with another 10-12 fish to 25 inches,” George said.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Jumbo minnows are still working, and we have been able to meet the high demand for the live bait. The topwater bite has died, and trollers are using the new Lucky Craft 125XD in shad patterns. The Lucky Craft Pointer 128s have been hard to obtain, but they are expected to arrive in February or March.”
Most are avoiding O’Neill Forebay due to the better quality of lineside available at the big lake. Small stripers are taken on pile worms, blood worms, or chicken livers, but the majority of stripers are undersized. Catching a legal limit is a challenge. The stripers have gone into deeper water, and the reaction bite has slowed.
Roger George, Roger George Guide Service will be starting an on-the-water, hands-on Downrigging 101 for Stripers class in about two weeks on San Luis Reservoir. Classes will be 5-6 hours and limited to 3-4 anglers.
The lake has risen to 85 percent with increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
Few reports from the lake for bass anglers, but the colder temperatures and recent trout plants may bring out the swimbait bite for quality largemouth and spotted bass. The launch ramp is out of the water for larger boats with no courtesy dock. The lake rose slightly to 52 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com.
Kaiser Pass Road closed two months ago, and access to the area will be limited to snowmobile. Edison is at 33 percent, Florence remains at 2 percent and Mammoth Pool is at 12 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
Shaver Lake continues to produce kokanee for the few anglers willing to launch their vessels from the auxiliary ramp at the Sierra Marina. Bank fishermen willing to brave the cold weather are picking up the occasional holdover trophy trout.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Following a few inches of snow, four boats hit Shaver in cold water on Saturday, and for the most part did well. First, a Shaver couple who fish Shaver regularly finished with two limits of kokanee in two hours. They had been picking up fast limits in the previous weeks in the area around the Sierra Marina. On Saturday, they moved over to the island area and collected several limits keeping 10 all about 12 inches using pink spinners, tipped with scented corn at 27 feet deep.
“Tony Oliveira of Tulare was fishing solo at the same time in the Stevenson Creek area with Paulina Peak Tackle consisting of a Sunrise hoochie behind an orange dodger, and within 1.5 hours, he hooked 11 kokes 12.5 to 13.5 inches, keeping five for his limit. Oliveira was trolling at depths from 20 to 27 feet deep. After limiting, Oliveira loaned his tackle setup to Chris Hanson of Fresno who was fishing nearby, and Hanson using Oliveira’s tackle scored a limit of his own. Not all fishermen are doing as well as these two, but it was encouraging that Oliveira was able to score kokanee at shallower depths. With the kokanee holding higher in the water column, it is possible to reach the fish with weighted Mountain Flashers behind the lures.”
Trout action remains slow, but there have been rainbows to 3.5 pounds taken with trout dough bait near the dam. The cold weather has been a limiting factor.
The main Sierra Marina ramp is out of the water, but the auxiliary ramp is good to launch despite the lack of a courtesy dock. A webcam of the lake is available at sierramarina.com/camera.html updated every 20 minutes.
Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service will be conducting a free seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods on Blackstone near Bullard in Fresno at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8. They will be discussing the expected water levels for Shaver from spring to fall, trout plants forecast by both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project, and techniques for both rainbows and kokanee success. There will be snacks and bottled water along with a free raffle at the event.
Shaver rose slightly to 43 percent.
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 road to Courtright and Wishon closed Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 2
Huli Cat Captain Tom Mattusch reported slow Dungeness crab action out of Half Moon Bay, stating, “The Huli Cat ran 45 pots for 57 Dungeness and threw back 64 females. Passengers also went home with 18 rockcrab.” He took his first attempt for petrale sole in deep water on Monday, and they went out to 460 feet of water off of Ano Nuevo for a few petrale sole on Ahi Promar Sand Dab rigs along with a number of sand dabs. He said, “Most of the fishing took place in 70 fathoms of water (420 feet) from Pescadero south to Davenport.”
All party boats in the area will be running whale watching and nature trips during the winter months, and the Salty Lady, captained by Jerad Davis, has arrived in Pillar Point for the whale watching season.
Striper 2 Crab 2
Chris’s Fishing Trips went on a sand dab/crab combination trip for the first time in a week on Sunday, and their 13 anglers came home with plenty of sand dabs, but the crabbing was less than stellar with a total of 21 Dungeness, four rock and one stone crab.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting said, “A giant swell that hit the West Coast last week really changed things up. Chances are, any beach you looked at last week does not look the same this week. This is good news for the surfcasters. Waves are still big and the forecast is for eight- to 10-foot waves over the weekend. Because the giant waves over the past weekend gave a good ‘winter treatment’ to our shores, we are left with tons of good structure all around the Monterey Bay. Holes, trenches, horizontal troughs and newly exposed reef structures create ideal feeding areas for perch and striped bass. These deeper spots, along with increased currents, are like conveyor belts of food items for big, hungry fish. Savvy anglers around the bay are taking advantage. With our last significant rainfall, the Salinas and Pajaro rivers broke through the sandy beach berms holding their waters back in big lagoons. Each winter resident striped bass in those rivers gravitate toward the ocean just waiting to escape to the saltwater. Well, they are out now, as evidenced by the number of schoolie-sized stripers being caught by surfcasters from Moss Landing up to the Santa Cruz beaches. This yearly ‘first flush’ often results in a flurry of striper hookups before they disperse. Some years, the striper bite remains hot for months. Let’s hope this year is one of those. The stripers will bite on regular perch gear and bait. Two-inch grubs or GULP Camo Worms are favorites among Monterey Bay surfcasters. Those fishing primarily for striped bass will use bigger rods and throw bigger lures. Pencil poppers, KastMasters or Krokodiles all work well for stripers in the surf. Another favorite lure is the SP Minnow in various colors. We can also downsize any of these lures and enjoy a good chance of hooking up with a bruiser surfperch.”
The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest on March 10 is limited to the first 300 entries with proceeds going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Information: theletsgofishingradioshow.com.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 1 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
The sturgeon bite slowed to a crawl on Sunday due to the northeast wind plaguing San Pablo Bay. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters put in two legal sturgeon and a shaker on Friday using frozen mud shrimp, and he expected great action throughout the weekend with the good tides. Saturday’s weather was outstanding, but they only got one sturgeon bite good for a 55-pound sturgeon along with a keeper bass. Sunday was spent rocking and rolling, and they moved to four different spots without success. He even went into Sonoma Creek where one boat had six hookups on Saturday along with seeing at least 20 sturgeon jumping, but the combination of wind and tide made fishing impossible. Slate will be back out Wednesday.
The herring spawns in the central bay may account for the sturgeon leaving San Pablo Bay, and Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle said, “This normally happens every year for a few weeks, but they will be back soon. There have been some spawns in Richardson Bay in the past week, but this spawn dissipated quickly. Sunday was very slow with rough weather from the northeast wind, and most of the boats had to go beneath the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge. The good news is that we have a 95 percent chance of having live mud shrimp in the shop at the start of this week. My shrimper is digging tonight, and he has a positive outlook.”
Captain Joel Sinkay, formerly of Leonard’s Bait at Port Sonoma, supervised his son Danny’s first launch of the new vessel in downtown Petaluma, and they tried to go into San Pablo Bay near the Hamilton Flats. However, the winds were too strong, and they went back into the shelter of Miramonte Slough for striped bass to 21 inches. Alexys Magowan of Sebastopol landed the largest bass while Captain Joel was shut out again.
In the south bay, Kyle Laine of Laine’s Bait in Alviso said, “The sturgeon are here in the south bay, but they aren’t stacked up in just one spot. The big herring spawn at Oyster Point drew out the sturgeon for a week or so, but the fish have returned along with the big grass shrimp. The sturgeon are going to follow the grass shrimp. The key to fishing herring fillets is they will not bite the herring unless the spawn is on. You can put in a 5-gallon bucket of herring and freeze it, but they will not work for sturgeon. The shrimp slowed down a week or so ago, but it is back in now, and we have been able to enjoy the best shrimp season in over 10 years. The shrimp are really big with minimal small shrimp. We haven’t had a lot of rain this year, and the shiners and small anchovies have not arrived in the south bay as in past years. I think it will be an early halibut season due to the lack of cold weather so far this year, and this is reminiscent of several years ago with similar conditions. Anglers fishing regularly in short intervals are finding success in locations such as B Buoy, the Dunbarton Bridge, and the railroad trestle.”
San Luis Obispo
The San Luis Obispo harbors will be running whale watching and nature trips until the rockfish opener in April. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis is also running crab/sand dab trips from January to March. The Patriot was out on a crab-only trip on Saturday with 25 fishermen for 34 Dungeness crab and five rock crab. With the rockfish season closed, the majority of fishing action is from the shoreline with Berkley Sand Worms or Camo Worms along with blood worms and lug worms when they are available.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 3
The first of two large sturgeon derbies was last weekend with the 12th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby out of Martinez Marina. Derby organizer Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing said, “All aspects of the derby were outstanding with 460 adult participants along with 152 youth. The kids program continues to grow, and this is our main reason for holding the event – to introduce children to fishing. We had at least 40 youth on the pier, and we held a raffle every hour to give out six rod/reel combinations and six loaded tackle boxes. One young man on the pier caught and released 11 fish himself, and he was helping others with getting hooked up. There were 101 dispatches resulting in 63 legal sturgeon and three oversized.”
Tim Bowman was the fortunate first-place winner, and he took home a total of $4,025. All of the adult registration fees were distributed to the first seven tickets drawn for a total of $11,500 – $2,200 more than the 2017 event. Thirteen-year-old Isaac Mollwitz won the Kids Division with his legal sturgeon.
The coming weekend will be especially loaded with boaters running from the north Delta to the south bay in the annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original (aka Super Bowl) Sturgeon Derby. This event annually draws close to 1,000 participants from Saturday morning through Sunday at noon with no fishing on Friday. Information: www.originalsturgeonderby.com.
Anglers are advised to make bait reservations for the derby as ghost shrimp has been in shorter supply over the past week. Grass shrimp is readily available, and the best quality of shrimp continues to come from the south bay near Alviso. Making a bait reservation allows the shops to prepare their order and make sure that they have enough stock.
Sturgeon fishing was solid in Suisun Bay over the past weekend with a total of 63 sturgeon caught and released during the Diamond Classic with 13 of the diamondbacks split between two boats. Captain Zack Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures caught and released six legal sturgeon near Port Chicago using a salmon roe/eel combination, and the sturgeon were all in the high 40- to low 50-inch range.
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “The easiest way that I’ve found to locate sturgeon is to think of the waters like one giant trout stream. This may seem like a strange analogy, but the water in which these prize fish inhabit can be read in much the same way. Sure, tides and river flows, when combined together, can make things a bit tougher, yet these factors, too, can work for you. Big tides surely have a positive effect on the diamondbacks’ feeding activities. Knowing this, many anglers concentrate their efforts during the periods with the biggest flows. I prefer to fish to what I refer the backside tides, the tides adjacent to the high flow tides. For example, during a high flow day, we may have a high tide of 7.1, then a low tide of -1.6, making for a huge flow. The next high tide is a 5.4 to a 2.7. This would be the outgoing tide of my choice. Sturgeon anglers are now finding fish scattered throughout the North Bay and the west Delta. Top areas for anglers have been Buoys 4 through 6 in Suisun Bay in 20 to 22 feet of water, the north side of the Mothball Fleet in 5 to 10 feet of water, Broad Slough to Rio Vista, and on the lower San Andreas Shoals on the San Joaquin River.”
Closer to Sacramento in the north Delta, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Striped bass are starting to show up in the area, and pile worms or sardines coated with garlic spray are the top baits. It looks like the spring run is starting. There are still stripers taken on live mudsuckers or jumbo minnows near the levee break at Liberty Island, and the water is clearer on the outgoing tide. The sturgeon are here in the north Delta around Freeport, Courtland and Clarksburg, and grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, eel/nightcrawler and eel/pile worm combinations are all working.”
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, reported much slower action for both trolling and drifting live mudsuckers this week after encouraging action the previous week.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported the best sturgeon action has been around the Horseshoe which is east of the Mothball Fleet with grass shrimp, eel and salmon roe.
The waters of the San Joaquin-Delta have been warming up, and the striped and largemouth bass bite is picking up some momentum.
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The bite has been similar to the past week with the fronts moving through making reaction baits working best. The bass are holding around the shad near slightly moving water, and they aren’t willing to chase very far. The ima Flit ripbait in shad patterns continues to be very effective, but you have to work the lure on a slow presentation. Most fishermen want to move the lure too fast, and the fish don’t want to chase in the cold water that is in the low 50s. The colder water and fronts have also led to a slower bite with plastics since they are reacting to moving lures with the weather fluctuating. It was springlike weather on Thursday with the thunder and hail storms in between periods of sunshine, and the bass want to feed. When you are in the central or west Delta where the water is more off color, the ima Rock N’ Vibe Suspend has been effective as it has a larger profile along with making noise.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley was out on Saturday targeting largemouth bass, and he said, “I was only out for a few hours for three bass to 12 pounds working Brass N’ Glass in the grass in 6 to 10 feet of water. The key is slowing down and tickling the grass. There is also a jig bite. We also landed five legal stripers in the 21-inch range on the high tide in Frank’s Tract with vibrating jigs.”
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Delta fishing is really good and seems to be improving with each time out. There are more fish and the average fish are larger. We must have a fresh run of fish that have come up from the bay. New fish seem to hit harder and are much more aggressive. We are catching them on large Clouser minnows and using both fast sinking and intermediate lines.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport reported a solid bluegill bite off of Eight Mile Road west of Stockton with live minnows or minijigs for the slabs and red worms on a drop-shot rig for the panfish.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 1 Striper 2 Catfish 3 Crappie 3
At Nacimiento, the best action for spotted bass has been in the warmer waters of the afternoons with finesse techniques of plastics on the drop-shot or dart head as deep as 70 feet. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported a number of South Valley fishermen are heading to Nacimiento for spotted bass. The fuel dock is closed for the winter, and it is not slated to reopen until the spring. No reports of white bass. The lake dropped slightly to 41 percent. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. At Lopez, bass fishing is best at depths from 25 and 40 feet with finesse techniques of plastics on the drop-shot or dart head along with small spoons. Jigs on a football head are also working for a better cut of fish. Red worms or meal worms are working for red ear perch, but bluegill and crappie remain slow. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam. At San Antonio, the best bass bite is on the bottom with jigs or plastics on various rigs on a deadstick presentation. The action for all species is slow overall, but there have been reports of the occasional striped bass landed on a swimbait or spoons in shad patterns in deep water. Catfishing is fair at best with prepared dough baits or cut bait. The South Shore Marina is back on their regular winter schedule after the holidays, and it is open on weekends only from Friday morning through Sunday evenings. The lake held at 31 percent. At Santa Margarita, finesse technique are working best for the occasional bass with spoons, jigs, or large plastic worms on the drop-shot. The reaction bite has yet to start, but there have been a few largemouth bass taken on crankbaits in the afternoons. Crappie and bluegill have been slow. Reminder: consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury. Also, Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
Delta/Martinez Marina: 12th annual Diamond Classic “Catch and Release” Sturgeon Derby Jan. 20 – 1, Tim Bowman, $4,025; 2, Matt Johnson, $2,875; 3, Scott Morris, $2,300.
Feb. 3-4: Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon (aka Super Bowl) Derby, McAvoy’s Boat Harbor, www.theoriginalsturgeonderby.com
Feb. 3: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Delta Bass Busters; Delta/Russo’s Marina – American Bass Association; New Melones – California Team Trail; Tulloch – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies; Don Pedro – Kerman Bass Club; McClure – New Jen Bass Tournaments; Lopez – American Bass Association
Feb. 4: McClure – California Bass Federation; Pine Flat – Bass 101; Kaweah – New Jen Bass Tournaments
Feb. 8: Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods, 6 p.m. – Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guider Service on Shaver Lake trout and kokanee techniques
Feb. 10: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis; Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Angler’s Press; Delta/Russo’s Marina – Delta Bass Club; New Melones – California Bass Federation; Don Pedro – New Jen Bass Tournaments; McClure – Best Bass Tournaments/Sonora Bass Club; Millerton – Kern County Bassmasters; Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments
Feb. 11: McClure – Fresno Bass Club/Kings VIII Bass Club; Millerton – American Bass Association; Kaweah – Central Valley Kayak Fishing
Feb. 17: Delta/Big Break – Dan’s Delta Outdoors; New Melones – Angler’s Press; Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments/Merced Bass Club; McClure – Kerman Bass Club/Christian Bass League; Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club/Bakersfield Bass Club
Feb. 18: New Melones – Riverbank Bass Anglers; Pine Flat – Bass 101
Feb. 24: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournament; Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis; New Melones – Contra Costa Bass Club; Don Pedro – River Rats/Gilroy Bass Club; Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club/Cen Cal Bass Elite Tournaments; Lopez – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
Feb. 25: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation; McClure – Kings River Bass Club; Pine Flat – American Bass Association; Kaweah – Success Bass Club
March 10: Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby in Santa Cruz limited to first 300 entrants, theletsgofishingradioshow.com
f = full moon > = peak activity