Hunting Fishing

Fishing report for March 14-20 | Shaver hot for trout, kokanee; try Eastman for bass

Jonathan Laygo, left, and Kurt Rathjens show off their catches from March 7 at Eastman Lake. Laygo said his is a 3-pound smallmouth bass caught with a Texas-rigged, Bama bug-colored Senko; Rathjens used a green finesse worm with a dropshot to catch his 1.5-pound smallmouth.
Jonathan Laygo, left, and Kurt Rathjens show off their catches from March 7 at Eastman Lake. Laygo said his is a 3-pound smallmouth bass caught with a Texas-rigged, Bama bug-colored Senko; Rathjens used a green finesse worm with a dropshot to catch his 1.5-pound smallmouth. Special to The Bee

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.

Photo gallery

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Best bets

Shaver kicking out big brooder trout and kokanee, Dick Nichols reported. Eastman bass bite holding up, Merritt Gilbert reported. San Luis bank anglers catching stripers on bait and Monterey surf perch fishing good, Mickey Clements said. McSwain trout plants boost trout catches, Steve Marquette reported. Delta stripers, sturgeon and bass hitting, Alan Fong said.

Key

1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat

Valley

Delta Mendota Canal

and Sloughs

Striper 2 Catfish 2

The water releases out of San Luis Reservoir continue to stir up the water in the California Aqueduct, making the bait congregate near the headgates. In the southern section in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported improved action for striped bass with both bait and lures such as Gitzits.

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, anglers are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing.

Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657

Eastman Lake

Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Eastman Lake is still kicking out numbers of largemouth bass in the 4- to 7-pound range, but the effects of heavy angling pressure over the past month are starting to emerge.

daniel zapata fish
Daniel Zapata shows off a 3-pound largemouth bass he caught at Hensley Lake around 5:30 p.m. March 7. He says he was using a watermelon-colored Senko lure on a dropshot. Courtesy Daniel Zapata Special to The Bee

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “There continue to be numbers of largemouth bass from 3 to 6 pounds found at depths from 15 to 30 feet on worms and jigs with very few reaction fish. There have been plenty of limits over 20 pounds, but the lake is starting to feel the pressure from so much fishing over the past month. It is by far and away the top lake for quality in our Fresno area, and a number of fishermen have been converging on the lake. The reaction bite has been slow, but I heard of one limit in excess of 34 pounds on swimbaits, and this was the first big limit on reaction baits that I am aware of this year. The bite has been good throughout the entire lake, and the high water over the past year has been a boon for both quality and quantity of bass as the water level has been holding steady at 62 percent. One angler even landed an 8-pound catfish on a jig this week.”

Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255

Hensley Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Hensley is seeing more interest with the heavy pressure on nearby Eastman, and Gilbert said, “One of the top sticks in our area went to Hensley this week, and he couldn’t get around the planted rainbow trout as he caught and released 13 rainbows to 14 inches while drop-shotting or running plastics on a Texas-rig. He only landed two bass at 1.5 and 1.75 pounds before giving up as the trout were everywhere.”

The lake rose slightly to 26 percent.

Call: Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151

Lake Don Pedro

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 2 Crappie 2

The bass bite has gotten tough in the past week with the cold fronts moving in, forcing the fish out into deeper water. Where there were bass over 9 pounds landed during the Wild West Bass Trails big event the previous week, the action slowed as the reaction bite basically came to a halt. Once the weather stabilizes, the fish will move up again, and the reaction bite will be back on. Trout and king salmon action remains slow with few anglers trying at the present time. The lake held at 82 percent.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Gary Vella 209-652-7550

Lake Isabella/

Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The Bakersfield Firefighter’s Trout Derby at the River Walk last Saturday was a big success with over 700 participants crowding the small impoundment. Trout fishermen continue to concentrate on the local lakes within a few days after the plants, and Power Bait, Hatchery Formula, and minijigs such as Sierra Slammers or Trout Magnet are working best. At Lake Isabella, the bass action continues to be slow, but there is an inkling of crappie starting along with the regular catfish bite.” A trout plant is scheduled at Lake Isabella next week. The lake rose slightly to 31 percent. The 29th Annual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby is March 24-25 with trophy trout in net pens at Red’s Marina to be released prior to the derby. Details at www.kernrivervalley.com. The lower Kern River continues to be a decent bet for planted trout along with bass and catfish.

Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

Lake levels remain low, but the bass want to move up into the shallows. This week’s weather may put a damper on their plans for staging. When the lake is low, there are only a few locations holding fish and experienced fishermen are aware of these spots. The lake came up slightly to 19 percent.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2

Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “There have been a lot of fishermen on the lake as the bass are in a pre-spawn mode. Fishermen are targeting the submerged trees and in the shallows, but the bass are extra finicky as they are getting onto the beds. The rain this week will probably make the bite even tougher. Plastics have been the top lures. In the Tule River, the trout action has been slow to fair on nymphs and dry flies.” The lake rose slightly to 23 percent.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com

McClure Reservoir

Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 1 Crappie 2 Catfish 2

The bass bite has slowed with the cold fronts moving through the region, and the fish have moved out into deeper water. The reaction bite has slowed, and a finesse approach with plastics on the Ned rig or drop-shot at depths from 40 to 60 feet are the top bets. Live minnows are also effective for those keeping the bass. The lake held at 67 percent.

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 3

Lake McSwain has been all but a forgotten reservoir after months of sporadic trout plants, but this situation has completely changed within the past month with shore anglers and trollers reaping benefits of the recent plants.

Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Parks and Recreation said, “We received 1,000 pounds of rainbows ... and there are big fish in the 7- to 8-pound range swimming out there. One angler picked up rainbows at 7, 4, and two 1.5-pounders using trout dough bait. Anglers have been using trout dough bait in lime green or pink sherbert along with silver/blue or gold Kastmasters from the shorelines, and the banks have been crowded on the weekends from the dam to the Brush Pile. They are really lining up and reeling them in right now. Trollers are pulling Kastmasters in silver/blue, Roostertails and shad-patterned Needlefish in the river arm.”

Regular plants of quality rainbows from the Calaveras Trout Farm in nearby Snelling will augment plants of catchables from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The annual Merced Irrigation Trout Derby is April 7-8 with registration forms available at lakemcclure.org. The derby will feature 50 tagged fish including $2,000 for tag No. 1, $1,000 for tag No. 2, and $500 for tag No. 3, with tags 4 through 50 sharing equally from the prize pool. The largest trout is worth $200, and if the grand prize is not claimed during the event, it will be worth $500 to derby participants after the derby. Registration closes April 4.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/

San Joaquin River

Bass 2 Striped Bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The spotted bass bite has been tough with anglers working hard for limits to 8 pounds. The bass have backed off of the banks with the colder water temperatures, and fishing interest has waned with the hot bite for big fish at Eastman and the plethora of tournaments at Pine Flat. No striper reports, but there are some crappie coming out of Squaw Cove with crappie jigs.” The lake rose to 65 percent.

Trout plants are scheduled for Woodward Lake and Sycamore Lake Pond.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones

Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1

The Future Pro Tour descended on New Melones with 105 teams on Friday only to find a changing bass bite. Earlier in the week, the reaction bite was excellent, but by tournament time, working the bottom with plastics or jigs were the top producers.

Josh Parris of San Andreas was the day one leader of this event with a 19.70-pound limit including an 8.04-pound kicker, and the group was whittled down to 15 for the tournament’s final day on Sunday at Lake Pardee after fishing at Melones for Friday and Saturday. The tournament was eventually won by the team of Matt Vella and Jacob Johnson with a three-day total of 47.01 pounds.

Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits pre-fished several days prior to the tournament as he was in high hopes of making the top 15, but the hot SWaver bite that he had been experienced ‘went from great to about non-existent’ within three days. Gomez said, “On Tuesday, I landed a 4.5-pound spotted bass on my third cast with the River2Sea SWaver and then I took the hooks off the lure and must have had 25 to 30 more hits on the SWaver. I didn’t want to beat up the fish so I took the hooks off and fished a number of different areas. Wednesday produced another 15 or so fish on the SWaver, all in different areas, but the bite had slowed to 3 or 4 bass on Thursday’s half-day trip before the bite went to zero on Friday. Fishing with my brother Victor, it took until 2:05 p.m. before we put our fifth fish in the box on Friday, and we landed them on five different baits – an A-rig, an underspin, a Senko, a shakey head and a Berserk Purple Hornet jig. The water temperature went from 56 on Tuesday and Wednesday before dropping to the 53- 54-degree range on Thursday and coming back up to 56 degrees on Friday. The water is dropping one to two feet per day, and the clarity is crystal clear. The dropping water has pushed the bass back out into depths from 25 to 50 feet, and most of the success in the tournament was on plastics on the drop-shot or shakey-head along with jigs.”

Trout fishing remains fair at best, but the net pens from Kokanee Power will be released in April with some quality fish getting larger every day.

Crappie and catfish remain slow with the cold weather.

New Melones is at 80 percent between inflow and outflow.

Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service 209-743-9932

Pine Flat Reservoir/

Kings River

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There is an emerging crappie bite near Trimmer with quality slabs in the 9- to 13-inch range on Bobby Garland’s or Strike King crappie jigs in shad patterns. A few crappie are also found near Deer Creek. The bass are still holding on the bottom at depths from 15 to 40 feet with plastics on a Ned rig, drop-shot or jigs. The reaction bite remains slow with the exception of the occasional umbrella rig fish. Anglers are loading up and keeping spotted and largemouth bass in Sycamore Cove with live crawdads. Trout fishing is decent at best for trollers pulling Cop Car Needlefish or Rainbow Runners at depths from 20 to 25 feet from the Power Lines to the dam.”

Morgan Swisher of the Central Valley Kayak Fishing reported on their tournament on Saturday, saying, “What the weathermen forecasted as rain, turned out to be a beautiful day, as 22 anglers launched from Trimmer Springs. The fishing was tough, as fish were found from 3 feet to 50. Less than half the field caught four fish limits with Shadowns Vangi taking first place at 59.75 Inches.”

Greg Sweeney from the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “There has been a lot of interest in the Lost Creek Challenge that is an open tournament on April 7. The Lost Creek Challenge is for anglers who are not participating in the King of the Clubs, and the entry fee is $25 with $250 for the big fish at three different times along with another $250 for overall big fish. Lost Creek products must be used for this event, and this is our signature brand at Sportsmen’s Warehouse.”

Trout plants are scheduled for the lower Kings for the next two weeks and for Avocado Lake this week.

Pine Flat held at 53 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626

San Luis Reservoir

and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1

San Luis Reservoir remains the place to go for central San Joaquin Valley striper fishing, and the bank action has improved considerably with both bait and lures.

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “A lot of our guys are going to Dinosaur Point and at Basalt there are tons of 4- to 5-pound stripers coming from the shorelines with Mega Bass or Duo Realis jerkbaits along with Lucky Craft Pointers. The vast majority of our fishermen have been walking the banks right now instead of trolling.”

Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Bank anglers are working the Romero Visitor Center or the Basalt Recreation Area with anchovies from the banks. For some reason, the bait bite has been best. We are selling around five to six dozen jumbo minnows per day, but most are soaking bait rather than trolling or drifting.”

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the trolling bite has slowed a lot since the weather fronts started coming through. “We fished last Wednesday and released about 15 fish to 23 inches on a tough overall bite. The fish are moving into new areas and the Lone Oak flats seem to have slowed down. The water is super clear – we could see down almost 15 feet and this is affecting the fishing as well as a water temp of 57 degrees, the lowest this winter. I had the second Downrigging 101 class on Saturday. When we got around to actually fishing the downriggers, the bite was very tough in the light misting rain preceding the storm later that evening. It was a classic prefrontal shutdown. We tried everything , but we released over 12 fish, mostly small, with a few to 22 inches. Some guys were getting a few nice fish ripping the shores that morning. The next Downrigging 101 on the water class, will be in two weeks. Info at 559-905-2954.

In the O’Neill Forebay, the reports remain the same with number of undersized striped bass taken on blood worms, pile worms or anchovies from the banks with moving water.

After dropping last week, the lake rose once to 78 percent in response to heavy pumping out of the south Delta.

Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 905-2954

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1

Trout trolling is picking up with Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service reporting two limits 13- to 16-inches at three to four colors of leadcore from the dam to the Sheriff’s Tower with Thomas Buoyants. Few bass fishermen are targeting the lake with the low water level at the launch ramp, and the launch fee has doubled from $5 to $10. The lake rose to 57 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at http://basslakeca.com/.

Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748

Edison/Florence/

Mammoth Pool

Brown trout xx Trout xx

Kaiser Pass Road closed several months ago, and access to the area will be limited to snowmobile. Edison is at 29 percent capacity, Florence remains at 2 and Mammoth Pool is at 21.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/

Huntington Lake

Kokanee 3 Trout 3

Shaver Lake is renowned for the trophy rainbows planted annually by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Program, and the rainbows have been coming out in force this past week.

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters, president of the trophy trout program, said, “As the rain approached Shaver Lake on Saturday, a number of trollers hit the lake in an attempt to catch fish. Tom Olivera of Tulare made a quick trip to Shaver on Friday alone and found great success. Olivera, fishing with Paulina Peak Tackle hoochies and dodgers, caught and released three trophy trout, three medium-sized browns and 20 kokanee. He reported the best action was from tghe surface to 20 feet down throughout the lake. The day before Bob Bernier, the SLTTP trophy trout planting chairman, reported that a man from his church and his grandson caught and released seven brooder trout of very good size and a couple limits of kokanee at 20 feet. The day before, Mike Giubbini of Templeton landed a 5.3-pound trophy trout at Black Rock on a Wedding Ring behind a Mountain Flasher. The fish was weighed in at Shaver Lake Sports on their official scale by Dee Heirendt. On Saturday, as the storm approached, Arnold Sybesma from Visalia picked up a few trout and a kokanee and reported several good hits from 7-11:30 a.m. at 20 feet down. The many SLTTP planted trout from April and June of last year are popping up daily. This, along with Bernier’s report of the seven trophy-sized brooder is encouraging. I think it may stay this way between the multiple storms that are forecasted for the region.”

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis confirmed the solid trophy trout bite with one boat releasing six trophies from 4- to 7-pounds along with seven kokanee to 13 inches.

Shaver rose slightly to 46 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

Wishon/Courtright

Trout 0

Courtright is down 100 feet with Wishon down 80 feet, but five feet of snow fell in the area. The gates remain closed at Dinkey Creek, and they will most likely open to Wishon by May 1.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361

Ocean

Half Moon Bay

Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf Perch 3

There are a few weeks left before the ocean salmon season is expected to open April 7 with rockfish south of Pigeon Point on April 1. The rockfish season above Pigeon Point will open April 15. At the present time, party boats are conducting maintenance in preparation for the upcoming seasons.

The Golden Gate ocean salmon alternatives were announced on Monday, and there still is a possibility that the recreational salmon season will not open in 2018.

Alternative one: achieve 151,000 Sacramento adult escapees; San Francisco: open June 1 and close Oct. 31, with a 20-inch size limit.

Alternative two: achieve 165,000 Sacramento adult escapees; San Francisco: open July 7 and close Oct. 31, with a 20-inch size limit.

Alternative Three: achieve 180,000 Sacramento adult escapees; San Francisco – open July 21 and close Oct. 31, with a 20-inch size limit.

Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat has been taking the occasional crab-only or sand dab/crab trip until the rockfish opener, and he along with Captain Bob Ingles of the Queen of Hearts out of Half Moon Bay Sport are willing to make the long 18-mile run south below Pigeon Point before the season opens April 15.

Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Striper 2 Crab 3 Sand Dabs 3 Surf Perch 3

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported loads of yellow and blue rockfish in the shallows on a recent research trip with female gophers the target species. He said, “It was pretty impressive rockfish action. With the possibility of a short salmon season, we will be relying heavily on rockfishing this summer. Right now there are no squid in the bay, and we hope they show up to help with our ling cod counts. We have had the best crab counts of the season on our last two trips with 85 Dungeness for 12 anglers along with plenty of sand dabs on Wednesday followed by another 49 crab for seven anglers on Thursday to go with bucket loads of sand dabs. Whale watching has been just spectacular with all of the anchovies in the bay, and the humpbacks are lunge feeding and we are finding some very friendly gray whales. There are also a pod of seven fin whales in the bay along with two species of porpoise. We are sold out on the opening day of rockfish season April 1, but there is room the rest of the week along with room for the April 7 salmon opener.”

Out of Santa Cruz, the annual Sand Crab Classic was a huge success as always thanks to the efforts of Allen “Bushy” Bushnell and Captain Mike Baxter. There were some impressive trophies taken home along with plenty of raffle prizes. As always, the big winner is the Monterey Bay Salmon and Steelhead Project. This year’s event sold out to its capacity of 300 anglers within two weeks.

Mickey Clements at Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill reported a continued excellent perch bite from the Santa Cruz and Monterey County Beaches with the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow in MS Anchovy, Anchovy Venus and Zebra MS Ghost Minnow being the top color patterns.

Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732

San Francisco Bay

Halibut 2 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2

Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker went into San Pablo Bay on Saturday, but he found tough conditions for both sturgeon and striped bass with one sturgeon 1/16-inch short along with a couple of legal bass. He stayed in Suisun Bay on Sunday with much better results.

The 27th Annual Nor Cal Skipper’s Sturgeon Derby is Saturday out of the San Leandro Marina.

Bay Tackle in El Cerrito reported striped bass fishing from the shoreline has improved for numbers with Slab Zone swimbaits. On Wednesday, workers from their shop landed over 20 stripers on swimbaits while they found only one striped bass Thursday. The schools are moving around. Small shaker halibut are also hitting the swimbaits, and everyone is gearing up for the opening of salmon season with great anticipation for halibut.

The migration of the party boats towards the bay has begun, and the California Dawn will actually start their striped bass/halibut trips out of Berkeley Marina on Saturday.

In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports reported continued solid striped bass action for trollers and pluggers, and the largest bass are taken on live bait, particularly splittail. Sturgeon fishing remains solid with a number of fish in the system. The striped bass are gearing up for an attempt to spawn in the river, and the water remains relatively clear for the Napa with the lack of precipitation. The Church’s Big Fish tournament is next weekend out of Cuttings Wharf, and there is a great deal of interest in this largest striped bass tournament and slot-limit sturgeon contest.

Call: Captain Trent Slate, Bite Me Charters 415-307-8582; Happy Hooker 510-223-5388; Captain Jerad Davis, Salty Lady 415-760-9362; Captain Steve Mitchell 707-655-6736

San Luis Obispo

Surf perch 2

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. Surf perch action is decent from the beaches with blood worms, lug worms, Berkley Camo Worms or Grubs. Rockfish season opens April 1, and both harbors are taking reservations.

Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100

Others

Delta/Stockton

Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

The male stripers have been on the move into the Delta, and the first appreciable showing of striped bass has begun in the Sacramento Delta. On top of the stripers arriving from the bay and ocean in their annual attempt to spawn upriver, the sturgeon bite has improved considerably with the warmer water temperatures.

Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The stripers have shown up here for both trollers and bait fishermen alike. Blood worms, pile worms and sardines coated with garlic spray are all working for mostly males with a few larger females mixed in, and trollers are finding success in Steamboat and Miner sloughs. Bank fishermen are huddling up along South Side Road. This is just the start of the run. Sturgeon are still around as they are moving both up into the river as well as moving well back into the bay.”

Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, found good action for keeper stripers to 5 pounds running Rat-L-Traps in Steamboat Slough towards the end of the week. He was out earlier in the week further downriver near Antioch, and he reported dirty water and grass in Broad Slough as well as along the West Bank. “The fish we caught at the end of the week were new fish – nice, bright, and shiny, and they were full of milt, but not squirting yet,” he said. “The stripers should coming through with more numbers within the next few weeks.”

While the majority of stripers in the upper river have been males, there are large females taken in Suisun Bay. Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Those with live bluegill or splittail are still picking up big stripers in the 20- to 25-pound range

Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker has been finding striped bass in Suisun Bay on whole herring. They released a 24 pounder earlier in the week along with keeping a few in the 11- to 15-pound range. Smith said, “We try and release the largest bass as I think that 15 pounds is the upper end of ones to keep. We have found some quality bass in the past week, but I think this is the end of the stripers moving through as all of these fish have been bright.” Smith was out for sturgeon and bass on Sunday, and Liz Olsen of Fair Oaks and Victor Rivera of Half Moon Bay both landed keepers in Suisun Bay on salmon roe.

George Wight of Antioch took out George Cardinale for striped bass on Thursday, and he said, “ After watching sturgeon poles yesterday that seemed like an eternity with no bites I thought that’s it. I need some action. We got about 15 stripers to 28 inches on swim baits today.”

For sturgeon, Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was not on the water this past week as he was presented a seminar on sturgeon at the Sacramento Boat Show. He will be sticking around through the end of the month with the Phenix Rods Battle of the Six-Packs on March 30-31. “The sturgeon have been really spread out, and you might have to set on as few as two fish in order to find success and hope that more sturgeon come through the area,l” he said. “The bite is going to get really good within the next few weeks as the water temperatures continue to rise. Captain Jay Lopes had a great weekend with four keepers on Saturday after picking up a keeper and releasing four shakers on Friday. This always seems to happen at the end of the sturgeon season as the bite gets really good just when there is less interest since everyone wants to run to the bay for halibut.”

Captain John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing found a good sturgeon bite mid-week between Shag Island and Roe/Ryer with three keepers in the morning before the tide slowed down. Cured roe continues to be the top bait, and Badger will be keeping the Barbarian II in Martinez through March and possibly April for sturgeon.

Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing was near Ozol Pier on Sunday, and he took out the crew who helped out on the Martinez Pier for the Diamond Classic Derby. He said, “Captain Joe had a keeper and two shakers on Saturday near Big Cut along with two sturgeon, losing two more on Friday along with a striped bass. We released a 39-incher on Sunday while one of our group put in a limit of stripers. Eel has been our top bait, and the water temperature reached 54.3 degrees today so I think the bite will improve.” Talmadge will have at least one of his two boats in Martinez through the month of April depending upon the availability of live bait in the bay.

The water temperatures in the San Joaquin Delta are warming up, and the largemouth bass are responding in kind. Bluegill and crappie are starting to feel the effects of spring, and the action has improved in the southern portions of the Delta.

Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento found great action in the Mokelumne River for largemouth bass flipping Brush Hogs. “The bite has been excellent in the central Delta, and largemouth bass over 12 pounds have been caught and released as the fish have moved shallow,” he said.

Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors was pleased with his open tournament last Saturday with 31 boats and a big fish at 8.79 pounds landed by Mike Birch on a drop-shot. “The bass are moving up, and trick worms, Senkos and chatterbaits are working along with some swimbait fish,” Mathisen said. “The best colors have been greens and browns such as Fat Sack’s West Coast Craw or Delta Bug in swim jigs. The bass are in full pre-spawn mod on the ledges, and on the high tide, they are on the banks. The water temperature, after last week’s brutal cold, has jumped back up to 54 degrees in the morning. Striped bass are coming in swimbaits or P-Line Predators on the San Joaquin side from Blind Point to False River, and there have been a number of milking males including bass in the 12- to 15-pound range. The Optima Bubba Shad swimbait on a half-ounce jig head has been working, and in the shallow water, you can use a one-fourth or one-eighth ounce jig head. Sturgeon fishing has been best around Chain Island, but there has been a lot of grass in the area.”

After winning first place in the Dan’s Delta Outdoors event last week, the team of Harvey Pulliam and Jamond Andrews once again took first in the New Jen Bass Tournaments event Sunday out of Russo’s Marina with a limit at 29.30 pounds and a big fish at 7.80.

Neil Simpson of Lodi was on the San Joaquin on Saturday with a friend from the Bay Area, and he threw Lucky Craft ripbaits, spinnerbaits and swim jigs while his friend was fly fishing. “He caught more than me on a 3- to 4-inch streamer, and we released a number of shaker stripers along with legal linesides to 6 pounds,” Simpson said. “He also landed a 4-pound largemouth bass on the streamer. The stripers were taken on Kei Tech paddle tail swimbaits in Sight Fish with a chartreuse tip.”

Captains James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service and Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing have moved into Korth’s Pirates Lair in anticipation of the spring striped bass season.

Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported a good bluegill and crappie bite near the Lazy M Marina and also in Discovery Bay as fishermen are finding the slabs with crappie jigs and then tossing out waxworms under a bobber. “In addition to the panfish, male stripers in the 4- to 7-pound have been coming into the shop,” Pipkins said. “A 28-inch striper was landed off of the Antioch Fishing Pier this weekend on frozen shad.”

Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton reported a decent crappie bite off of Inland Drive, Whiskey Slough and Eight Mile Road with small to medium minnows.”

Call: Randy Pringle 209-543-6260; Captain Mike Gravert, Intimidator Sport Fishing 916-806-3030; Vince Borges, Vince Borges Outdoors 209-918-0828; J.D. Richey, Richey’s Sport Fishing 916-952-1554

Lake Nacimiento/

San Antonio/

Santa Margarita/Lopez

Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

At Nacimiento, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “This lake warms up faster than the other coastal reservoirs, and the limits have been impressive so far this year in the 12- to 17-pound range. Spotted bass are coming on plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig, but the white bass bite has slowed with the colder weather. The lake rose to 43 percent.

At San Antonio, fishing interest has waned with the cold and rain, but a few largemouth and smallmouth bass are cooperating on plastics or jigs on a slow presentation when the weather cooperates. Striped bass remain inactive for the most part. 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 Best Bass Tournaments held an event Saturday and an impressive limit at 20.84 pounds took first place in by the father/son team of Jay and Austin Rich. Austin landed the majority of bass on weightless Senkos while father was using spinnerbaits. The bite should only get better in the coming month with the fish wanting to move up into the shallows.

At Santa Margarita, similar to the other coastal lakes, the weather has been a limiting factor, but there have been some limits of largemouth bass over 25 pounds on reaction baits such as swimbaits or crankbaits. Crappie are holding near structure close to the docks with minijigs. Reminder: consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury.

Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com 805-466-6557

Events

Results

Mother Lode Kayak Series at McClure March 3: 1, Damian Thao, 48.25 inches; 2, Obedie Williams, 47.5; 3, Felipe Maciel, 47.25 (Big Fish, 18).

NewJen Bass Tournaments at Delta/Russo’s Marina on March 10: 1, Harvey Pulliam/Jamond Andrews, 29.63 pounds (Big Fish 7.80); 2, Chris and Jack Ball, 22.42; 3, John and Lorenzo Rossetti, 22.11.

Best Bass Tournaments at Lopez on March 10: 1, Jay and Austin Rich, 20.84 pounds (Big Fish 4.90); 2, Meade Hendricks/Whitney Uyeda, 20.54; 3, Tim and Scott Mullins, 19.15.

Central Valley Kayak Fishing at Pine Flat on March 11: 1, Shadowns Vangi, 58.75 inches; 2, Vincent Garcia, 57.75 (Big Fish, 16); 3, Chue Vang, 57.25.

Christian Bass League at Delta on March 10: 1, Chuck & Anthony Fuller (19.54 pounds); 2, Steve O’Brien & Paul Bucclola (16.80); 3, Dan Sexton & Kyle Dykleva (16.64); Big Fish, Greg Cox & Angelo Quinolo (5.46).

Upcoming

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

Trout plants

Week of March 18

by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Fresno County: Avocado Lake, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam

Kern County: Lake Isabella

Madera County: Manzanita Lake

Tulare County: Del Lago Park Lake, Murry Park Pond

Solunar table

AM

PM

Minor

Major

Minor

Major

Wednesday

3:21

9:32

3:44

9:56

>Thursday

4:03

10:15

4:27

10:38

n-Friday

4:47

10:59

5:10

11:22

>Saturday

5:32

11:44

5:55

12:07

>Sunday

6:20

12:08

6:43

12:31

>Monday

7:10

12:58

7:34

1:22

Tuesday

8:03

1:51

8:28

2:16

n = new moon > = peak activity

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