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 quality keeping anglers happy and Pine Flat bass action is holding up, Steve Newman said. Shaver kokanee and brooder trout are hitting, Dick Nichols reported. San Luis stripers are still biting and Monterey surf perch are on a tear, Mickey Clements said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2 Catfish 2
The California Aqueduct around Highway 152 in Los Banos is starting to pick up steam, and more and more anglers are stopping to plug with ripbaits such as Duo Realis or Lucky Craft 120s on their way home from San Luis Reservoir. The water movement from releases out of the reservoir is starting to get the baitfish to congregate, leading Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun to say, “Once the water moves, the bite will take off. We sold more Duo’s and Lucky Crafts in white/chartreuse or shad patterns than in quite a while. The stripers aren’t boiling, but they are starting to get active and running a ripbait on a 45-degree angle at a depth from 3 to 5 feet is working.” In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported a fair bite at best for striped bass with a few catfish and largemouth bass in the mix.
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 said, “Quality largemouth bass are found at depths from 30 to 35 feet with plastics on a Carolina-rig, Ned rigs, or jigs with crawdad patterns such as brown/purple or brown working best. The swimbait bite has slowed, but there are a number of smaller male bass cruising the shallows. The boat traffic has been high due to the number of largemouth bass in the 4- to 6-pound range landed over the past few weeks. You have to work for the fish, and if you can’t get them to go at one time, come back later in the day since they go on the bite at some time during the day.” The water is slightly stained. The lake held at 59 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
At Hensley, Newman said, “The bass bite is improving with more anglers targeting the lake due to heavy fishing pressure at nearby Eastman. Bass in the 2- to 3-pound class are possible, but the key is to keep the lure on the bottom. Plastics on a Ned Rig or dart head in natural colors such as brown/purple or watermelon/purple flake are working at depths from 15 to 25 feet.” A few trout are still taken from the banks after the plant a few weeks back with dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake rose slightly to 24 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 2 Crappie 2
The big largemouth bass that were present last week in shallow water have moved out into deeper water as a result of the freezing temperatures bringing the water into the high 40s. The largemouth bass are more affected by the cold than spotted bass, but the extreme temperature change led to the bass moving out into 40 to 60 feet of water. Plastics on the Ned rig or drop shot are working best on a slow presentation. Trout and king salmon action remains slow but should improve as we move into the spring. The few rainbows that are taken by trollers are in the 2- to 5-pound range. The lake held at 83 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported most area fishermen are concentrating on trout in the small impoundments with Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, garlic/garlic, rainbow garlic, or Bubblegum along with Mice Tails and Sierra Slammers minijgs for planters. The River Walk will host the annual Bakersfield Firefighters Derby on March 10, and the event is limited to 800 participants. The Fred Hall Central Valley Sport Show is March 2-4 at the Kern County Fairgrounds with information at www.fredhall.com/bakersfield. The lower river is also kicking out planted rainbows, and the upper river was planted heavily around the Kernville Bridge prior to the recent Whiskey Flats Days. At Lake Isabella, the Auxiliary Dam remains the top location for planted trout with Power Bait or nightcrawlers. A few catfish are taken on frozen shad or clams, but the cold has knocked back the crappie and bass. Lake Isabella held at 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. Details at www.kernrivervalley.com.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club reported huge largemouth at 14 and 10 pounds have been caught and released on swimbaits prior to the recent cold front, but the freezing temperatures have backed the fish out into deeper water. The trout bite has slowed down with the lack of recent plants. The lake came up slightly to 16 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 3 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported quality crappie have been taken on minnows or minijigs, and the same fishermen are also catching bass on the minnows. The cold temperatures have slowed down the reaction bite with the best action on a finesse technique in deeper water. Trout fishing is decent for shore fishermen using Power Bait, nightcrawlers or spinners. The lake rose slightly to 20 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Just when we thought that the bass bite was ready to bust wide open in the Mother Lode lakes, Mother Nature had other ideas by bringing in a week of freezing temperatures. Last week brought limits over 26 pounds to Don Pedro along with numerous quality spots at McClure and New Melones, but this week was another story in itself. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford and Berserk Baits said, “All of the reservoirs shut down and the fish have backed off into deep water. They are still catching spotted bass at McClure, but you have to use a finesse technique in 40 to 60 feet of water as the reaction bite has died with the cold water. Numbers of spotted bass at Lake McClure continue to be the rule with spotted bass taking center stage. Several tournaments will be held at the lake in the coming months, and winning weights at McClure average around 13 pounds. The River Rats club was on the lake Saturday in the cold and wind with a winning limit of 14 pounds. The lake held at 66 percent.
A Department of Fish and Wildlife trout plant occurred two weeks ago, and planted rainbow trout are taken Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters from the Handicapped Docks, Brush Pile and the peninsula near the Marina. 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 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Small spotted bass in the 1- to 2.5-pound range are the rule at this lake, and everything is taken on a finesse presentation with plastics on a Ned rig or dart head as the reaction bite is null and void. Neither crankbaits or jerkbaits are effective, and the key is to stay on the bottom with a slow presentation. The water of the lake is very clear, and there are small immature male bass cruising along the shorelines.” The lake dropped to 64 percent. Woodward Lake Park in Fresno is scheduled for a trout plant.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “The cold temperatures have really put a damper on what was a great bite at all three lakes. After putting in 50 fish last weekend at New Melones with all five of my fish for the second-place limit taken on the River2Sea Swaver, the reaction bite has slowed to a crawl with the cold. Once the temperatures improve as expected, the fish should return into shallower water and get active as they are wanting to go into pre-spawn mode. The largemouth bass are more affected by the cold than the spots, and as a result, McClure is producing more action than the other two lakes, but you have to go slow.” Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp added, “With the recent cold front coming in on New Melones and the pressure from anglers, the bass will be less aggressive and wary. They will be using their natural predatory instincts to strike. As opposed to dragging your presentation across the bottom to get their attention and where bass have to go outside their zone, try tossing your crankbait or ripbait behind cover surprising the bass, with it suddenly coming into sight will be a good way to draw a reactionary bite.” The lake dropped slightly to 82 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Despite the recent cold, Pine Flat is holding up on the bass front with limits in the 14- to 15-pound range necessary to take first during recent tournaments. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The bite remains very good although the cold front has slowed down the largemouth bass bite. Spotted bass in the 2- to 2.5-pound range have been common even though the water temperature dropped with snow flurries at lakeside and the daytime temperature at 31 degrees in the mornings. The spotted bass have been mobile, and they are holding around vertical rock walls or ledges in a pre-spawn mode. The fish are ready to slide up into the flats as they are holding in 15 to 30 feet of water. There is some action with deep crankbaits or Alabama rigs, but the best fishing is with Ned rigs, jigs or plastics on the drop-shot. There hasn’t been as much bait in the main lake, leading some fishermen to spoon around the edges and the mouths of coves since the shad are holding in the creek channels and coves.” Mark Corrente of Bass 101 reported, “33 boats participated in last weekend’s open bass tournament, and Larry Vang took first with a limit at 14.58 pounds with Dusty Mart holding big fish honors at 5.57 pounds. We are back on Pine Flat on March 10.” The Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments held their debut on the lake Saturday, and Wayne Arnold and Fernando Becerra took first out of 37 boats with a 17.91-pound limit including a big fish at 7.74. The crappie are holding in the river arm above Trimmer Marina, and Newman said, “We are selling a number of one-sixteenth-ounce crappie jigs in Monkey Milk, Glimmer Blue, white or white/chartreuse for working in the trees and around structure. The water level has been stable for some time, and the slabs are starting to move into shallower water near structure.” Trout fishing remains decent, and it was buoyed by a recent Department of Fish and Wildlife plant. Trollers are working Apex lures or Needlefish in Cop Car or similar shad patterns at depths from 20 to 25 feet from the Power Lines to the dam or around the mouth of Windy Gap. Newman said, “The fish are still shallow, and it is important to use a flashy dodger like in gold or chrome with some anglers also tipping their lures with corn.” A trout plant is scheduled in the lower Kings River.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
San Luis Reservoir striped bass fishing remains strong for bank anglers, trollers, plug casters and those drifting live jumbo minnows. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite is red hot in the early mornings and evenings with jerk baits or Zoom Magnum flukes in white ice or smoky shad. Anglers are long-casting ripbaits off of boats towards the shorelines in coves near Dinosaur Point and in Portuguese Cove for solid action. The stripers are pushing shad towards the mouths of coves, but they aren’t pushing the bait fish into the shallows in the backs of coves. Trolling has been around the same with those with downriggers working from 40 to 60 feet while a few are working above 30 feet for a smaller grade of striped bass.” Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Most all trollers are using downriggers as the bait has dispersed, and anglers have to cover more water to find the fish. Bank fishing is also good in the same areas. The O’Neill Forebay has been slower with few fishermen due to the smaller grade of stripers, but we are selling plenty of blood worms and pile worms for the forebay around Check 12.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the water is falling very rapidly – almost a foot per day – and you may need a four-wheel drive vehicle to put your boat in, even at Basalt, if the ramps not cleaned out. In addition the water temps are down to 57 degrees changing things pretty quickly. “The good bite we had has moderated a bunch since Sunday. I fished with former Fresno State AD Jim Bartko on Sunday for my birthday, and most boats left early complaining about the bite shutting down. I saw a lot of suspended prefrontal fish activity, but we managed 10 fish to 24 inches. The patterns this year are certainly changing and I think it’s due to the explosion of the silverside minnows and shrimp in the lake. The ‘Downrigging 101 for Stripers’ six-hour class I’m doing at San Luis has been a hit – and I’m setting up more of the small (three to four anglers), hands-on, on-the-water classes. Info: at 559-905-2954,” George said. Not much change in the O’Neill Forebay with most fishermen heading north to the main San Luis Reservoir for a larger grade of striped bass. Blood worms and pile worms are working for mostly undersized striped bass around moving water near Check 12 while there is a reaction bite with ripbaits, topwater lures or small swimbaits early in the mornings or late evenings. The lake dropped from 82 to 77 percent as a result of increased water releases down the California Aqueduct. The third How to Fish Striper tournament is March 24 at the Basalt Recreation Area launch ramp.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
The cold weather and snow in the area slowed down the number of anglers along with the difficulty of launching with the low ramp status and icy conditions. A few anglers are picking up small spotted bass by dragging plastic worms on the bottom. The bass action should take off once the water clears and warms, and Rat-L-Traps or spinnerbaits in bluegill patterns, crawdad-patterned jigs or Neko rigs with 5- to 6-inch worms will be effective. The weed growth has dissipated with the cold water, and working the bottom is the way to go. Trout fishing has slowed a bit since the easy limits last week after the recent plant. The lake held at 54 percent, but launching a large boat at the public ramp remains a challenge. The lake is at 54 percent capacity.
Brown trout 0 Trout 0
Kaiser Pass Road closed two months ago, and access to the area is limited to snowmobile. Edison is at 31 percent capacity, Florence remains at 2 and Mammoth Pool is at 19.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee 3 Trout 3
Shaver Lake has heated up despite cold temperatures with several large rainbow and even brown trout landed.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Big trout action is back at Shaver Lake with several lunkers caught over the past week. Josh Verburg of Fresno was bait fishing with worms and corn near the dam recently and caught a beautiful 9-pound, 6-ounce, 30.5-inch brown trout. The big brown was weighed by Debby Dixon of Shaver Lake Sports on their official scale. Then on Thursday, Ryan Bailey and Tom Allred, both of Fresno, picked up a limit each of big rainbows throwing blue and silver Kastmasters near the Sierra Marina, and each stringer of five trout weighed 24 pounds at Shaver Lake Sports by Dee Heirendt. This made for an average of 4.8 pounds per fish. Nichols said, “I think these two stringers are from a possible recent plant of brooders the Department of Fish and Wildlife made, and I was aware that approximately 2,500 pounds of brooders would be planted this year so this may have been the plant. The big fish are near the Sierra Marina and are hitting most anything thrown at them. Couple in these big fish and the 15,000 pounds of catchables the Department of Fish and Wildlife has allotted to Shaver and it could be a very good year here. Jared Romero of Clovis was trolling a Dick’s Trout Buster tipped with a nightcrawler at 10 feet near the marina over the weekend and landed a 6-pound rainbow trout. The kokanee bite continues to be good with spinners and other kokanee tackle tipped with corn. Most of the kokes have been found in the upper column of the lake to 27 feet down from the island to Black Rock.”
Bob Bernier, planting chairman for the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project, said this year’s plants of trophy sized trout will be increased to about 2,000 large trout. He plans to make two plants, one in the spring and one in the summer months.
Southern California Edison watershed manager Andy McMillan reported at the recent Herb Bauer’s seminar that the lake’s levels will reach an estimated 68 percent capacity in July and August with slightly lower levels in June. McMillan also reported that the new ramp at Sierra Marina will be open this year thanks to efforts from the Sandstrom family, owners of Sierra Marina.
Shaver Lake held at 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
Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf perch 3
The big news is the annual Salmon Information Meeting regarding the state of California’s salmon fishery 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 1 at the Sonoma County Water Agency at 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, state, federal and tribal agencies, and West Coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore. The 2018 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon web page. The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.” Ed Liu of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito has been fishing the San Mateo County beaches for surf perch over the past several weeks on a regular basis, but the high winds has kept him off the beach this week.
Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 4
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported sand dab/crab combination trips went out Saturday and Sunday, and plenty of sand dabs remain the rule. They returned with a combined 99 crab for 33 anglers for a three-crab/angler count. They will continue to run the combination trips until the opening of rockfish season.
Mickey Clements at Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill reported an excellent perch bite from the Santa Cruz and Monterey County beaches with the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow being the top lure. He said, “There are tons of perch, and every once in a while someone will land a striper in the 18- to 21-inch range.” Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “Gusty winds continued to plague boat anglers on the Monterey Bay this week. Most mornings have been calm enough, but by noon things are pretty bumpy. The high pressure system hovering over our area of the Pacific Ocean is weakening, and the result includes small craft advisories, gale warnings plus a possibility of showers on and off through the weekend. Most sanddab anglers use five or six-hook sabiki rigs with #8 or #10 hooks tipped with squid bits. Adding a small weight to the top of the sabiki rig where it connects to the main line will help the rig lay flat on the ocean floor, and can result in more fish pulled in per drop. Look for them on the flat sandy areas in 120 to 240 feet of water, anywhere in Monterey Bay. Many surfcasters prefer the two hours before and two hours after high tide for productive fishing. Dawn and dusk are also most productive, usually. This week’s tide table looks good for anglers who hit the beaches early, before the wind. Typically, windy afternoons calm as sunset approaches. Timing sunset with a higher tide can be very productive. This week, winds stayed annoyingly stiff through sunset and into the night. Reports from the Monterey side of the bay suggest feeding perch are more numerous on that side right now. But plenty of perch were reported caught from the beaches between Watsonville and Santa Cruz, many in the 12-14-inch range. More than a few bonus stripers were hooked as well by anglers using poppers or SP Minnow lures or as welcome bycatch while fishing with worms, grubs or live sandcrabs for perch.
“Don’t forget the piers and wharves for perch and striper fishing. These are perfect locations to fish in a relaxed manner, or to bring the kids to get a taste of hauling their catch over the railing. Saltwater fishing from man-made structures requires no fishing license, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations. Surfcasters are doing well on both sides of the bay right now. A few striped bass were reported caught from beaches south of Moss Landing, and at least one striper was hooked from the Pajaro Beach area. These bass are all small so far, most barely making the minimum length of 18 inches. Still, the fight they provide is tremendous especially on light perch fishing gear. The legal fish make delicious dinner, with thick filets of flaky white meat. Perch fishing is getting interesting as well. Some of the distinct structure built up from our last series of storms is flattening out again. We really need some weather to re-shape things. An amount of wave action is always best for hunting these fish that feed in the shallows. Often, anglers will locate the target perch right behind the pounding shorebreak as the perch feed on sandcrabs. Speaking of which, though perch grubs or GULP! Camo and Blood Sandworms continue to fool the fish with regularity, live sandcrabs have proven to be a ‘code-breaker’ on a few recent outings. One may receive fewer nibbles when fishing with the sandcrabs, but will hook bigger fish more often.”
The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest is March 10 and it has been sold out for some time as it is limited to the first 300 contestants. Proceeds from the event going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 1 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond was out with live Loch Lomond mud shrimp over the weekend and reported slow action as the water temperature in the bay dropped to 51 degrees. He said, “I moved to five different locations on Sunday between Sonoma Creek, the Petaluma River, outside of the Pumphouse, and inside of the Pumphouse with no avail. The big minus tides were moving a lot of water, and when we were catching fish on a regular basis, the water temperature was 56 degrees. You have to take the good with the bad.”
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael confirmed the slow action and said, “It was mostly due to the weather. If Wednesday’s and Thursday’s storms are as advertised, San Pablo Bay could once again be ground zero for sturgeon as the water gets fresh and muddy.” Fraser has a supply of the popular frozen mud shrimp for the week.
Captain Joel Sinkay was out with his son Danny on Sunday near the Corrigedor, and they found only sharks for their efforts despite good weather conditions.
Captain Chris Smith found five limits of big striped bass near Buoy 9 early in the weekend, but these fish moved on up the river by Sunday. Let’s see where they pop up in the coming week.
In the south bay, the sturgeon bite has slowed considerably as the grass shrimp have dried up, but there are reports of halibut showing up this early around Oyster Point. The six-packs are going to start to make their move from the Delta to the bay soon.
San Luis Obispo
Surf perch 2
The SLO 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. Surf perch action is decent from the beaches with blood worms, lug worms, Berkley Camo Worms or Grubs.
Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The opposite of the pattern of the past few weeks occurred this week with more stripers moving into the Sacramento-Delta while the sturgeon bite became a challenge with the water temperatures plummeting at least 7 degrees.
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was out early in the week in the cold, and he was trolling shallow with Rat-L-Traps in Steamboat Slough. He said, “I finally caught a decent fish at 13 pounds, and it was probably a resident striper as it didn’t look like a recently-arrived striper. After releasing this striper, I landed another at 5 pounds to go with 6 keepers in the 18- to 19-inch class along with plenty of shakers. It is pretty tough right now, but there are no new fish in the system when there should be more fish coming in right now. The 13-pounder was the best fish I have caught in several weeks, and really the best thing going on right now in the Delta is sturgeon.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Fresno, was in the Delta early in the week as well, and he said, “The stripers are starting to show up in the Sacramento-Delta with trollers starting to pick up some linesides in the sloughs. Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing went trolling with good success around Rio Vista. I went bass fishing in the Mokelumne River, and the temperature dropped 9 degrees this week. The fish didn’t mind as they are in a feeding mode, and we put in a 20-pound limit flipping Brush Hogs or casting spinnerbaits.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport confirmed the arrival of the striped bass into Steamboat Slough, the Old Sacramento River from Isleton to Walnut Grove, and in the Freeport area for trollers running shallow-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows. Bait anglers are scoring with sardines coated with garlic spray or pile worms. Sturgeon fishing has been decent in Shag Slough and the Sacramento Deep Water Channel with grass shrimp or eel/pile worm combinations.
Sturgeon action slowed a bit in Suisun Bay with the water temperatures dropping, but Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Chain Island and Montezuma Slough are the top areas as the sturgeon remain stacked up around Chain Island. The bite will only get better and better as ‘March Madness’ isn’t only for basketball.”
Most charter boat operators struggled mightily over the weekend with the combination of cold temperatures and high winds. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing said, “We got blown off on Saturday with high winds, but the weather was much better on Sunday. We sat on the Mother Lode with heavy marks on the meter, but the sturgeon were not ready to go.” Mitchell will be presenting a sturgeon seminar at noon March 11 at the Sacramento Boat Show at Cal Expo.
Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing out of Martinez had a similar story, saying, “It is a tough bite out there right now. We have been working around the Mothball Fleet with a few ventures downriver to Ozol Pier, but the water temperature dropped to the 50- to 51-degree range after being around 54, 55 degrees. We are sitting on fish, but they are not willing to go right now.”
Benicia Bait reported small stripers from the shoreline have been the story along with a few flounder here and there. The cold temperatures have slowed down interest.
The tough bite hasn’t seemed to slow down Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures as he continues to put on clinics for his catch-and-release clients. He was out during Thursday’s winds, and put them onto a total of three slot-limit sturgeon, one huge oversized, and five shakers released with the best action coming at the end of the morning incoming tide and the beginning of the outgo. Once the outgoing tide got rolling, he said, “The grass become too heavy. We didn’t hide in the sloughs but stuck it out in the main river.” Roe and lamprey eel were the two successful baits.
John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing has also been finding success with his 130th legal sturgeon of the season landed in the Big Cut over the weekend on cured salmon roe. He said, “We have been sticking around Roe/Ryer Island along with the Big Cut, and the key is to try and stay on the fish.”
The Battle of the Phenix Rods Charters will take place on two days – March 30 out of Martinez Marina for sturgeon and March 31 out of Korth’s Pirates Lair for striped bass – with selected six-pack captains participating.
The wind has been the top story in the San Joaquin-Delta over the past week along with freezing cold temperatures at night, and the combination of the two weather conditions has required anglers to go slow in order to find success. Crappie and bluegill are starting to get active along with a small grade of striped bass moving into the river.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “This wind is short-lived, but you have to go onto the Delta ready to be on your game, meaning, you can’t go in with only one way of fishing since you have to be prepared to change your approach. Most anglers aren’t doing this, but the conditions are requiring that you slow down. Many people feel that the fish are still active, but the cold conditions have slowed them down. Using Max Scent products and slowing down are the keys to getting more bites. I have been scoring with a black/blue jig on a half-ounce jig head with a Max Scent Chunk as a trailer on a slow presentation. Fishing the ima Flit ripbait has been effective, but you have to keep it in the strike zone longer. Other baits that have been working are Flat Dog or the General from Berkley on either a Zappu head or nail weight, staying with earth tones until the winds murk up the water. If the winds make the water dinghy, you can add some flash with chartreuse or orange to get the bait visible.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley reported 29 teams fished Saturday’s tournament taken by the team of Harvey Pulliam and Jamond Andrews. He said, “They picked up their first four fish early on chatterbaits, but then had to hunt for three more bites. The wind has been a big limiting factor the past few days, but the water hasn’t gotten murky yet, and even if it does, the grass will filter it out within a few days.”
Central Coast lakes
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, spotted bass fishing remains hot with anglers expected to catch and release up to 30 spots to 2 pounds with the best action on plastics on drop-shot, shakey head or Texas-rig along Brush Hogs, or by vertically jigging spoons. The larger fish have been coming on spoons. White bass are getting active on white Roostertails or Kastmasters at depths to 20 feet. The lake dropped slightly to 40percent. At San Antonio, there hasn’t been much change with a few largemouth and smallmouth bass taken on plastics on the drop-shot or jigs on a finesse technique. Striped bass remain lethargic with the very occasional fish taken on a trolled swimbait or umbrella rig. The South Shore Marina remains on the winter schedule starting Friday at 6 a.m. through Sunday at 6 p.m. The lake held at 31 percent. At Lopez, the majority of largemouth bass remain deep, but there are a few fish starting to show signs of moving up into the flats. This should occur with more regularity within the next few weeks. Brush Hogs, Hula Grubs or plastics on the Texas-rig are working for the largemouth in deep water. At Santa Margarita, the largemouth bass are moving up in the water column, but most of the bass remain in deeper water. Crawdad-patterned jigs are working best along with Hula Grubs and plastics on the Texas-rigs. A few crappie can be taken around structure with minijigs. 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.
Pine Flat/Bass 101 Open Feb. 17: Larry Vang, 14.58; 2, Jeff D’Alessandro, 13.01; 3, Mitchell Moles, 12.20. Big Fish, Dusty Mart, 5.57.
Delta/Russo’s Marina/NewJen Bass Tournaments Feb. 24: 1, Mike Newton/Steve Nincioni, 29.00 (Big Fish, 11.87); 2, Larry Vignolo/Mike Saso, 20.59; 3, Armando and Edgar Luzuriaga, 17.87.
McClure/River Rats Bass Club Feb. 24: 1, Gary Johnson/Angelo Queiolo, 14.00; 2, Brian and Kari Burton, 13.87 (Big Fish, 4.40); 3, Nick and Ron Sanches, 13.58.
Pine Flat/Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments Feb. 24: 1, Wayne Arnold/Fernando Becerra, 17.91 (Big Fish, 7.74); 2, Craig Gong/Ryan Reynolds, 12.12; 3, Nai Saeleau/San Saechao, 11.55.
Success/Cen Cal Elite Bass Youth Tournaments Feb. 25: 1, David and Gage Coy, 9.54 (Big Fish, 3.20); 2, Chris and Ethan Coffman, 6.99; 3, Brandon Turner/Elijah Amaro, 6.73.
March 2-4: Don Pedro – Wild West Trails
March 3: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Mid Valley Bass Club; McClure – Mother Lode Bass Anglers; Eastman – Kerman Bass Club; Pine Flat – NewJen Bass Tournaments/Orange County Bass Club; Santa Margarita – American Bass Association
March 4: Delta/Big Break Marina – Dan’s Delta Outdoors; Pine Flat – Orange County Bass Club; Kaweah – NewJen Bass Tournaments
March 9-11: New Melones/Pardee – Angler’s Press
March 10: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/Christian Bass League; Delta/Russo’s Marina – NewJen Bass Tournaments; New Melones – Bass Busters of Santa Clara; Tulloch – Sonora Bass Club; Millerton- California Tournament Trail; Kaweah – Golden Empire Bass Club; The RiverWalk in Bakersfield – Bakersfield Firefighters Trout Derby; San Antonio – Kern County Bass Masters; Nacimiento – Riverside Pointseekers; Lopez – Best Bass Tournaments
March 11: Tulloch – Kings VIII Bass Club; Eastman – Kings River Bass Club; Pine Flat – Central Valley Kayak Fishing/Bass 101 Open; Nacimiento – Riverside Pointseekers
March 17: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina; New Melones – Best Bass Tournaments; Don Pedro – NewJen Bass Tournaments; Lopez – Bakersfield Bass Club
March 18: Delta/Brannan Island – Central Valley Anglers Striper Derby; Delta/Big Break Marina – Dan’s Delta Outdoors; Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina; Millerton – American Bass Association; Success – Porterville Bass Club
March 20: Don Pedro – Mid Valley Agriculture
March 24-26: Lake Isabella –29th Annual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby
March 24-25: New Melones – Kerman Bass Club/Bass Anglers of Northern California; Don Pedro – Fresno Bass Club; San Antonio- San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
March 24: Delta/B and W Resort – American Bass Association; Don Pedro – Angler’s Press/Contra Costa Bass Club; Bass Lake – Sierra Bass Club; Success – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
March 25: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation; Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Modesto Ambassadors; Success – Success Bass Youth
March 30: Don Pedro – E and J Gallo Winery
March 31: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Merced Bass Club; Don Pedro- RiverRats Bass Club; Lopez – American Bass Association
April 1: New Melones – El Dorado Bass Club
Week of Feb. 25
by state Department of Fish and Wildlife
Fresno County: Kings River below Friant Dam, Woodward Park Lake
> = quarter moon; f = full moon