Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
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Eastman bass hitting, and Pine Flat bass and trout fishing steady, Steve Newman reported. McClure bass bite “on fire,” Mike Gomez reported. San Luis stripers still active, Mickey Clements said. Delta stripers, sturgeon and bass bites good, J.D. Richey reported. Don Pedro bass feeding, John Liechty said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Striper 1 Catfish 1
The California Aqueduct remains slow on both ends. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported a few linesides taken on blood worms, lug worms and sardines. The continued warmer weather should ramp up the whiskerfish action.
Bass 3 Trout 1 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 1
Eastman Lake was California’s first trophy-designated largemouth bass lake with a one-fish limit over 22 inches, and the lake has held up to its reputation over the past few months with big bass from 4 to 14 pounds possible.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun said, “Eastman has been a nice treat for us in the Central Valley where even a novice angler can pick up a 4-pound largemouth. We had one fishermen who landed his largest bass ever at 4.2 pounds, and it was his first jig fish ever. The lake has been a pleasant surprise, and the bite has been consistent for a few months now.”
Newman continued, “Experienced bass fishermen can land largemouths from 4 to 14 pounds with the best fishing around 30 feet in depth with jigs in natural colors such as Peanut Butter n’ Jelly, green pumpkin and crawdad patterns. The bite has been soft, and you have to pay attention to your rod. Once the bite is happening, you have to swing for the fences and you could be rewarded with a trophy bass. Dragging a lizard or a Brush Hog on a Carolina-rig is also producing, and the bite is taking place from the morning through the evening.”
The lake held at 59 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
Steve Newman said bass fishing is starting to show signs of life in the small pool of water, and Newman reported bank anglers are picking up largemouth bass to 18 inches from shore by dragging Senkos or plastics on the drop-shot in watermelon or black/blue. He said, “You have to move around to find the fish. There is a trout plant at Hensley this week, and this should not only help the trout bite but also the bass bite with trout-patterned swimbaits.”
The lake held at 23 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits and the Bait Barn in Waterford fished the New Jen Bass Tournaments event on Don Pedro on Saturday, and he said, “It took 22.5 pounds for first place with 18.5 pounds for the top six paying places, and my brother Victor and I came in 14th out of 29 boats with 13.13 pounds. For us, the fish were deep to 65 feet with plastics such as the Fatty Worm on the drop-shot or with jigs such as the Berserk Purple Hornet. Our largest fish was 4.5 pounds on an umbrella rig, and the water temperature was 60.5 degrees in one area. Most tournament anglers are keeping quiet about their success with the upcoming Wild West tournament, but there was some word about cranking. There were trout all over the surface, and the balls of shad were thick.”
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service was on the lake this week, and he caught and released a 7-pound largemouth on a swimbait. The larger grade of largemouth bass are present at Don Pedro with an 8.13-pounder being the big fish in the New Jen tournament.
Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures has been trolling for king salmon and rainbow trout in the Moccasin area and up the Tuolumne River to the Flume in Don Pedro, and he said, “We are rolling shad or pulling ExCel spoons with equal success for an average of two or three trout per outing, but the bite dies after 9 a.m. The good news is every trout we have landed is between 2.5 and 5 pounds. The Woods Creek Arm is loaded with shad, but we haven’t been able to get them to go since they may be gorging on the live shad.”
Don Pedro held at 83 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 1 Trout 1 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 1
Pete Cormier reported crappie are starting to show up at Lake Isabella for the first time this spring, and more and more anglers are targeting the planted rainbow trout with Mice Tails or pink variations of Power Bait such as Bubblegum or sherbet. The bass action remains slow. The lower Kern River around Democrat or Sandy Flats is producing planted rainbows with Power Bait, crickets or nightcrawlers. The lower river in Sections 4 and 5 is scheduled to be planted this week along with Lake Isabella. In town, the River Walk is also scheduled to receive a trout plant this week. Buena Vista was planted last week, but by the end of the week, the action had slowed due to heavy fishing pressure. A few crappie are taken on live minnows at Buena Vista. Lake Isabella rose slightly to 30 percent. The 29th annual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby is March 24-26 with trophy trout in net pens at Red’s Marina to be released prior to the derby. Information and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com.
Bass 2 Crappie 1 Trout 1 Catfish 2
Kaweah was the host for the second Central Valley Kayak Fishing event of the year on Sunday, and Morgan Swisher reported an extremely tough bite with only 19 of the 39 kayakers checking in with lengths of bass limits. The winning limit was 3/4 of an inch longer than second place. Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club reported a decent bite for traditional bass fishermen with a variety of techniques. The Success Bass Club will hold an event at the lake Feb. 25. The lake came up slightly to 14 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3 Trout 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 3
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “Bass fishing has improved, and there has been a lot of interest in the past week. Anglers hitting rocky points using jigs, Senkos and plastics are doing well, and the action has been good to excellent. The lake continues to receive trout plants, and anglers are scoring on Power Bait, nightcrawlers or spinners. The lake rose slightly to 18 percent.” In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river remains slow for native trout, but there is some action with dry flies.”
Bass 3 Trout 1 King salmon 1 Kokanee 0 Crappie 1 Catfish 2
The numbers of spotted bass at Lake McClure have been impressive while the best quality of largemouth bass is available at Don Pedro. Several tournaments will be held on both lakes in the coming months, and the tournament season has started in earnest.
Mike Gomez said, “McClure is on fire right now as the bite is wide-open with plastics on the drop-shot, jigs or swimbaits. With the fish moving into the shallows, crankbaits are also effective.”
Morgan Swisher of the Fresno Bass Club reported 23 teams out of 28 weighed in limits during Sunday’s club event with the big fish at 3.75 pounds landed by Roger Lockhart.
John Liechty confirmed the solid bite, saying, “The reaction bite has been outstanding with crankbaits or underspins as we went through 30 to 40 bass during Saturday’s Sonora Bass Club tournament. The winning weight was over 13 pounds with this team finding success with jigs and plastics on the drop-shot.”
A Department of Fish and Wildlife trout plant occurred this week, and rainbows to 8 pounds were landed from the banks with Power Bait, nightcrawlers or Kastmasters. The plant significantly improved the action which had slowed to a crawl. Anglers should check the marina for upcoming trout plants. The marina and café are open Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 0 Bluegill 1 Crappie 1
Steve Newman said, “The bass bite improved this week with limits around 10 pounds taking tournaments over the weekend. The bass are moving up, and 14-inch male bass are starting to cruise the shorelines. Finesse techniques are working best, but the fish are responding, but not taking, reaction baits. Plastics on the drop-shot or dart head in natural colors such as green pumpkin, Green Weenie or watermelon are working around rockpiles in 30 to 40 feet of water as well as from the shallows around 10 feet. The better class of spotted bass is found in deeper water as the fish are holding on rockpiles. The action is the same in the main lake or up the river arm as the water releases have slowed.” Striped bass continue to be seen on electronics in small groups but getting them to hit lures is a different story. The lake dropped to 69 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
Last weekend’s cold front forced a change in fishing strategy at Don Pedro. John Liechty was on the lake with two clients Sunday, and he reported his clients landed 18 bass to 3 pounds between them. He said, “The fish were scattered from 5 to 35 feet and all levels in between, and the cold front changed everything with the water temperature dropping a couple of degrees. The colder nights will put off the bass from moving up for a few weeks. It was not the same bite as four to five days ago, and we relied on finesse techniques of plastics on the drop-shot or dart head. I know that you can catch big bass on a drop-shot with the 15-pounder I landed last month so this has become my go-to technique. We also tossed swimbaits for a while without much success. The action is best in the main lake as the difference between the main lake and the river arm is night and day with the river arm usually being a few weeks behind due to the colder water and shaded water from the high cliffs. There have been some bass cruising the shorelines in the past week, but Sunday’s cold front backed them off. I also caught and released a 2.6-pound crappie on a Senko, and this fish was as large as the new lake record set last week by Roger Stewart.”
Trout fishing remains hit-or-miss, but the opportunity for a trophy rainbow is there.
The lake dropped slightly to 82 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman said, “The bass bite continues to improve as spotted bass to 5 pounds are found on a weekly basis. Jigs are best for numbers, but big glide baits or swimbaits in the 4- to 5-inch range such as KeiTechs or paddletails are working as the bass are getting active. Rainbow trout patterns are best since the bass are keying on the trout in response to regular plants on the lake. Jigs in crawdad patterns such as greenpumpkin or brown/purple are most effective.” Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club reported the action was hit-or-miss while prefishing over the weekend, and he said, “You have to work at it, but I did find a number of 2-pound bass.” Trout fishing is best for trollers in the main lake from Deer Creek to Windy Gap and from the Power Lines to the dam at depths from 20 to 30 feet with Wedding Rings in orange, green or red behind a flashy silver or gold dodger. Apex lures in Cop Car behind a chrome dodger are also working. The main lake has been the most consistent location for trout while the holdover rainbows in the upper river are getting scarce with the warmer water. The crappie bite is improving with the slabs moving into the trees, and all signs are there for a solid crappie season this spring. The lake rose slightly to 52 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
The news of the consistent striped bass action is attracting new anglers to the reservoir. The troll bite seems to be improving as the bass are holding anywhere from the bottom to 20 feet in depth, and the jumbo minnow bite is holding up.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported an improved troll bite with anglers working a few feet off of the bottom near the Basalt Recreation Area, Trash Racks and Portuguese Cove with flukes or broken-backed Rebels, or the new Lucky Craft Pointer 125 XD, P-Line Predator Minnows. He said, “Those drifting jumbo minnows are dropping down to the bottom in the same areas and reeling up a few cranks. The action is primarily in the mornings from 6:30 to 11 a.m., and guys who are experienced trollers are finding around 10 linesides per boat.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, anchovies, pile worms and ripbaits are working for mostly small, undersized stripers, and Clements advised anglers to cover plenty of water to find the fish.
Steve Newman said, “San Luis continues to be good with most of our fishermen heading to the big lake instead of the aqueducts or the forebay, and the bite is best in the mornings or evenings, and we have sold out of white and white ice ripbaits due to high demand. The stripers are holding deep, but some schools are found around 20 feet in depth, and trollers are working the edges with umbrella rigs and working the shallow schools with crankbaits or ripbaits. There haven’t been any reports of stripers boiling on the surface as the stripers may be chasing bait out in open water in the main lake or in the deep water near Portuguese Cove.”
The lake held 85 percent despite significant water releases down the California Aqueduct due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
Steve Newman said there’s good bass action with Eco- or Ned-rigs with best action in the warmer water of the afternoons. The bass are also getting active on moving baits with a large profile and rattles such as a squarebilled crankbait with rattles or large swimbaits that move water. The female bass are already starting to cruise along the shorelines in the flats as the water temperature is much warmer than normal for this time of year. The launch ramp is at its lowest level with the bottom of the ramp broken off, but a boat can be launched with care. No trout reports, but a Fish and Wildlife plant is scheduled for this week. The lake held at 53 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com.
Kaiser Pass Road closed two months ago, and access to the area is 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 3 Trout 2
Shaver Lake continues to produce kokanee to 14 inches along with an improving trout bite. The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project is getting active in preparation for several activities during the spring and summer.
Dick Nichols, president of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project and the operator of Dick’s Fishing Charters, said he’s looking forward to the 2018 Department of Fish and Wildlife plants composed of 15,000 pounds of catchables, 2,500 pounds of brooders and 30,000 brown trout fingerlings. “Unfortunately, there will no kokanee planted in the lake this year, and the future of the fishery is in question, although there is evidence that there is a decent kokanee spawn at the lake. The water level is now at the bottom of the ramp, and the new Sierra Marina ramp will be finished next month as the ramp will be extended to the water level. There will now be two ramps at the Sierra Marina, and the Sierra Ramp is in the water now.”
Nichols added, “The kokanee action remains decent with a couple of limits possible for trollers working from the island down to Stevenson Bay at 27 to 34 feet. The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project is preparing trout eggs at the Friant Hatchery for our ‘Trout in the Classroom’ project at Big Creek, Pine Ridge and Foothill Elementary Schools in our area.”
Tom Oliveira of Tule was out with Kirk Emge from Vacaville over the weekend, and they caught 40 kokanee, keeping their two limits, while trolling from the Sierra Marina to Black Rock from the surface to 25 feet with Paulina Peak Tackle including minihoochies in Purple Haze, Wickiup Sunrise and Cotton Candy tipped with cured corn behind a hammered dodger. The kokanee were in the 12- to 13.5-inch range, and they also helped another fisherman in a Zodiac put together a limit by advising him on the setup and downrigger use.
Steve Newman reported decent bait fishing with trout dough bait for rainbow trout, and trollers are finding kokanee to 14 inches along with more and more rainbow trout to 16 inches.
The elevation will hit its lowest point of the year during this month at 41 percent before consistently holding around 68 percent during the summer months, rising to 89 percent in September.
A webcam of the lake is available at sierramarina.com/camera.html updated every 20 minutes.
Shaver rose slightly to 44 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 Central Sierra trout season is now limited to the lower-elevation lakes of Bass and Shaver as the road to Courtright and Wishon closed on Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Rockfish 0 Striper 1 White sea bass 0 Crab 2 Surf Perch 3
Second Captain Michael Cabanas took the Huli Cat out on Sunday with 20 anglers on a crab-only trip, and the winds came up in the afternoon, pulling a limited number of pots for 45 Dungeness and 16 rock crab. The Huli Cat is running crab/sand dab or crab-only combination trips until the rockfish and salmon openers in April.
Rockfish 0 Striper 1 White sea bass 0 Crab 2 Sand dabs 4 Surf perch 3
Chris’ was able to get out three days over the weekend, and the crab counts are improving. They put in plenty of sand dabs along with 50 Dungeness crab on Sunday for a light load of anglers. Chris Arcoleo said, “We have been doing much better on the sand dabs, and the crab counts are improving. The wind came up on Saturday, and we had to head over to Moss Landing for the sand dabs and couldn’t fish where we have been fishing.”
From the beaches, Mickey Clements reported excellent perch action with the Lucky Craft Pointers or Flash Minnow 110 for surf perch from 1.5 to 2 pounds. The Berkley Camo Worms and Berkley Blood Worms are also effective. Striped bass in the 5- to 6-pound range are also showing up along the Santa Cruz and Monterey County beaches.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting said, “Monterey Bay anglers enjoyed mild conditions last week, and it looks like the pleasant weather and easy seas will continue through the coming weekend. Starting from the southern end of the bay this week, free divers have reported spearing big red rockfish and hunkered lingcod from the rocky areas near Carmel and Pescador Point. Visibility remains good in that area and the fish are numerous. Rockfish season is closed for boat-based anglers, but divers and shore anglers can target and keep these fish according to Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations.
“Capitola anglers are soaking crab pots overnight in 70-100 feet of water, and are bringing home enough Dungeness for dinner, if not full limits. On the stretch of nearshore waters from Pleasure Point to Lighthouse Point, we are seeing increasing amounts of sardines, jacksmelt and small anchovy bait fish. Water temperatures on the inside look to be around 58 degrees, with some pockets nearing 60 degrees. This is unusually warm for this time of year, and might account for the steady catch of halibut reported of the past few weeks.
Typically, the halibut don’t start moving into waters shallower than 80 feet until March or April, sometimes May. Since December, Bayside Marine owner Todd Fraser has reported flatties caught on nearly a weekly basis. This week he reports, “There have been a few halibut caught near the Mile Buoy and in Capitola.” A large halibut was also reported caught from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf this week, somewhere in the 20-pound-plus category.
The mainstay for active anglers all around the bay remains surfcasting for perch. Reports vary from day to day, but all beaches from Sand City to Davenport Landing can produce big barred surfperch (BSP) right now. Beaches closer to Moss Landing might also provide a bonus striped bass, as young Thomas Westfall discovered last weekend. After boogie boarding near Manresa Beach, Westfall pulled out his light perch gear, looking for some BSPs. A hefty striper grabbed his perch grub instead, and the fight was on. Thomas’ father Todd said, “I saw him wading out into the shore break from down the beach, sprinted to help him but he had it in by the time I reached him. He let this one go, but took home five 10-pound-plus perch and fed his family dinner.” Big fish honors this week to 10-year old Thomas Westfall!
The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest on March 10 is limited to the first 300 entries with proceeds from the event going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Information: theletsgofishingradioshow.com.
San Francisco Bay
Albacore 0 Halibut 1 Striper 3 Rockfish 0 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2 Salmon 0
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina had a great day Saturday with four slot sturgeon from 41 to 46 inches along with an undersized and a green sturgeon released. This was the second green sturgeon released off of his boat in the last two trips. They also landed an 18-pound striped bass, and the angler was a cancer survivor who was thrilled with the largest striper of his lifetime. He was away from all of the boat traffic in San Pablo Bay with Loch Lomond mud shrimp.
Speaking of Loch Lomond mud shrimp, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle said, “Live mud shrimp is on its way to the shop on Monday, and we should have live mud shrimp throughout the week according to our supplier in the Pacific Northwest. Sturgeon fishing has been better than stripers, and there wasn’t a ripple on the water on Sunday. Tommy Glaser was out on the water on Sunday, and he landed a couple of legal sturgeon.”
Captain Chris Smith of the six-pack Defiant out of Martinez went into San Pablo Bay on Saturday for two legal sturgeon at 48.5 and 41 inches along with five striped bass. He said, “Newlyweds Ward and Amanda Shelton had never fished for sturgeon before, and they were the only two to land a legal sturgeon. All of the good bites came on their side of the boat during our third open load of the season.”
Captain Jonathan Smith of the Happy Hooker went out with an open load for Saturday of the Super Bowl Derby, and they ended up releasing 12 bass, keeping three stripers in the 4-pound range along with a 41-inch keeper sturgeon and releasing two shakers. They made a move at the end of the day that paid off with the legal sturgeon.
San Luis Obispo
Surf perch 3
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. With the rockfish season closed, anglers are taking blood worms to the beaches around San Simeon for surf perch. Berkley Sand Worms or Camo Worms are also working.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 0
There are signs that striped bass are making an early push into the Sacramento-Delta with the unseasonably warm winter bringing forth an early spring. The majority of striped bass are small males, but they are showing signs of a spawn with full milk sacs.
Alan Fong, manager of the Sacramento Fishermen’s Warehouse, was in the north Delta near Liberty Island earlier in the week with the wind blowing hard, and he said, “Liberty looked like an ocean, but we were able to pick up five stripers throwing Fish Traps and ripbaits along with a number of largemouth bass flipping along the banks. The bass are right on the banks in the 58-degree water.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport reported a strong sturgeon bite in the area from Courtland up to Freeport and also in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel with grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, pile worms or eel. Striped bass have moved into Steamboat Slough and near Walnut Grove on the Old Sacramento River, and blood worms, pile worms and sardines coated with garlic spray are all working for the linesides. He said, “Fishermen have been finding success drifting minnows in the Mokelumne River since the water has been so clear with no rain to muddy up the river.”
J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has been launching out of Rio Vista and sitting on the anchor for sturgeon in the Sherman Island area, and he said, “The bite isn’t wide open by any means, but everything we have been hooking has been oversized. We were out on Thursday evening until 7 p.m., and we released a diamondback over 8 feet and an estimated 250 pounds on salmon roe and eel. Striped bass should start to move with this warmer weather. I will be staying on the sturgeon for the time being and adding striped bass trips with plugs or swimbaits within the next few weeks.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch found some stripers near Sherman Island, and he said, “I took my fiancée out, and she had never landed a striper before, and she released three males to 22 inches on Rat-L-Traps. Another angler had five stripers to 7 pounds, and these fish are all like little footballs.”
Sturgeon fishing remains decent in Suisun Bay with Captain John Badger celebrating his birthday by putting his clients onto legal sturgeon in Suisun Bay.
Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventure was out on Monday and Wednesday last week in search of sturgeon. His trips are strictly catch-and-release, and despite the heavy boat traffic over the weekend from the Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby, he was able to find success for his clients with one huge sturgeon jumping and crashing into the stern of the boat before rubbing off the line on the abrasive bottom paint of the vessel. They ended up releasing some slot limit sturgeon in spite of a “tough” bite. His follow-up trip was also productive with slot limit sturgeon released, but he advises anglers to be extremely cautious in Suisun Bay with the high amount of debris floating just under the surface. There have been huge logs floating back and forth with the tides, and they are so waterlogged that they are just below the surface. He advised fishing in shallow water of less than 32 feet to keep out of the grass that has been tying up the lines within minutes of soaking baits, and to avoid fishing during the peak of the outgoing tides in deep water, particularly at night. His advice was to be extremely cautious at night with the floating debris and not to run at speeds past 12 mph. Fishing on the outgoing tide at night is extremely dangerous, particularly in deep water with the strong possibility of a big log capsizing a boat within seconds.
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg is ready to get back on the sturgeon grounds, and he said, ‘February is generally the start of our sturgeon season, and I expect good action during the next two months.” Mitchell will be a featured seminar speaker during the Sacramento Boat Show at Cal Expo on March 10-11.
For striped bass, Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was out two days, and he said, “I don’t know where the big ones went,” on Thursday after traveling all over the Delta for six keepers and a shaker. He said, “These were all skinny fish, and we had much better fish on Tuesday. There were small spurts of action as the stripers are scattered as they have moved on somewhere else. It is the time of year, and with the water temperatures at 54.9 degrees and the river clear, we should be getting all kinds of fish. Mark Wilson was also back out, and he had similar action.”
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported big stripers in the 20- to 25-pound range have been taken consistently in front of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor or in the deep water near the Pittsburg PG&E Plant on live splittail. The splittail have been large, and the stripers are inhaling them. He added, “Sturgeon fishing has been OK with action in the Big Cut and also past the Mothball Fleet near Montezuma.”
The wind was a limiting factor throughout the week with high winds on both Saturday and Sunday. The next major sturgeon derby is the Addathon Ironman Sturgeon Derby out of Pittsburg Marina on March 3-4. Information: addathonderby.com.
The clear waters of the San Joaquin River have created more challenging conditions for bass anglers. The best action is located toward the west Delta where the water is cloudier.
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors said, “It was very windy both days of the weekend, but we found a number of 3-pounders flipping big worms or white/white spinnerbaits. I had to get off of the chatterbait as they wanted something faster. Striped bass in the 10-pound class are starting to be taken by trollers on P-Line Predator Minnows on the San Joaquin as the stripers are moving in.”
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was on the Delta twice this past week, and he said, “The water is very clear in the central Delta, and the action is challenging on flat calm days. It is dingier in the west, and you can use multiple types of baits in these conditions. We whacked them on the new General Max Scent on the high tide on a wacky-rig and on the low tide on a Zappu Head. The ripbait bite on the Ima Flit was also solid, but the key is to let the lure stay longer in the strike zone. The bass are holding just outside of the current, but they are oriented toward moving water. There was more bluegill in the shallows than largemouth bass, but with the warm conditions, the bass will be moving in.”
The Coors Light Open was held out of Ladd’s Marina in Stockton on Saturday with 91 boats, and the winning weight was 24.12 pounds by the team of Ken Cassettari and Mike Birch. Because of the wind, they were limited in their locations, but they found some bass punching in heavy cover with black/blue Yamamoto Flappin’ Hawgs on a River2Sea Trash Bomb weight.
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Delta striper fishing is pretty good with good numbers and the average size is between 3 and 5 pounds. The water temperatures are close to 53. The water temps will probably rise with this week’s forecast of 70-degree air temperatures. This can only help the bite. We are catching them with the same large 5-inch flies.”
Scott Marran of Yuba City did an exploratory striper trip this week, and after finding slow action near Liberty Island on the Sacramento River, he motored over to the San Joaquin. He said, “We drew a blank from the sand bar at the Antioch Bridge to the tule berms above Oule Point. We started catching small stripers on live mudsuckers before the outgo hit, and we found the ‘golden hour’ for three quality stripers to 8 pounds. I also hooked an oversized sturgeon on 15-pound test, and you can figure out how this one ended up. This is the second sturgeon I have hooked while drifting live mudsuckers. Not great fishing overall, but very encouraging for early February.”
Pipkins reported sturgeon are starting to move into the San Joaquin with much better action around Buoy 10 and the Antioch Bridge with grass shrimp, ghost shrimp or pile worms.
For panfish, Tran reported good action off of Eight Mile Road for both red ear perch and bluegill with red worms or jumbo red worms on a drop-shot rig.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 2 White bass 0 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 3
At Nacimiento, the spotted bass action remains very good with plastics on the drop-shot, shaky head, or Texas-rig along with Brush Hogs or jigs. A few largemouth bass have also been taken in the past few weeks which is a welcome sight at this reservoir. The high water from last year allowed for the few largemouth bass to spawn. Crappie are found on minijigs or small spoons. 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 40 percent. A webcam is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com.
At Lopez, finesse techniques such as plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, ice jigs or spoons are working at depths to 40 feet for largemouth bass while the bluegill and crappie bite has been hit-or-miss. The best panfish action has been for bluegill and red ear perch with meal worms or red worms while crappie are found with minijigs around structure. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.
At San Antonio, the South Shore Marina remains on the winter schedule starting Fridays at 6 a.m. through Sundays at 6 p.m. Striped bass remain elusive with the occasional lineside taken on a swimbait or umbrella rig. Catfishing is best with cut baits or prepared stink bait along the sloping shorelines. The lake held at 31 percent.
At Santa Margarita, expect a slow largemouth bite, but there was a report of a trophy 13-pound bucketmouth taken on a plastic worm in the Narrows. Finesse techniques such as plastics on the drop-shot, jigs or Brush Hogs are working best. Crappie are active first thing in the morning around structure with minijigs loaded with some type of bait to keep the fish holding on.
Reminder: consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are now required before boat launching is allowed.
Delta/Ladd’s Marina, Coors Light Open Feb. 10: 1, Ken Cassetani/Mike Birch, 24.13 pounds; 2, Pierson/Raza, 20.24 (Big Fish 7.03); 3, Ken Mah/Nick Salvucci, 20.04.
McClure, Best Bass Tournaments Feb. 10: 1, Anthony and Norval Pimentel, 15.34 (Big Fish 4.93); 2, Mike Newton/Steve Nincioni, 14.14; 3, Troy Daggett III/Brody Baker, 13.64.
Don Pedro, New Jen Bass Tournaments Feb. 10: 1, Kevin Nunes/Christian Ostrander, 22.30; 2, Terry Odom/Alvin Borba, 20.61; 3, Jason Remmers/Alex Niapas, 19.46.
Nacimiento, Best Bass Tournaments Feb. 10: 1, James Hall/Todd Langston, 14.18; 2, Randy Wallis/Mike Hummel, 12.34 (Big Fish 3.83); 3, Fred Ledesma/Bobby Doss, 12.31.
McClure, Fresno Bass Club Feb. 11: 1, Greg Coy, 13.11; 2, Ron Red Sr., 11.23; 3, Mark Corrente, 10.91. Big Fish: Roger Lockhart, 3.75.
Kaweah, Central Valley Kayak Fishing Feb. 11: 1, Shadowns Vangi, 61.25 inches; 2, Damian Thao 60.50 (Big Fish 20 inches); 3, Vincent Garcia, 57.75.
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
March 24-26: 29th annual Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby, www.kernrivervalley.com
Week of Feb. 18
Fresno County: Shaver Lake, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Woodward Park Lake
Kern County: Truxtun Lake, Ming Lake, Kern River Section 2, Hart Park Lake
Madera County: Manzanita Lake
Tulare County: Mooney Grove Park Pond, Del Lago Park Lake
n = new moon > = peak activity