Hunting Fishing

Fishing report for week of March 21-27 | Delta and Valley bass lakes among hot spots

Isaac Zapata caught this four-pound largemouth bass at Eastman Lake on March 17 around 4:30 p.m. on a watermelon-colored Senko lure on a wacky rig.
Isaac Zapata caught this four-pound largemouth bass at Eastman Lake on March 17 around 4:30 p.m. on a watermelon-colored Senko lure on a wacky rig. 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.

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Best bets

Delta stripers, bass and sturgeon bites turn on, Alan Fong said. Eastman and Pine Flat bass taking baits, Merritt Gilbert reported. McSwain trout fishing good, Steve Marquette said. San Luis stripers hitting bait, Mickey Clements reported . Don Pedro bass active, Mike Gomez said. New Melones bass biting, John Liechty reported.


1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat


Delta Mendota Canal

and Sloughs

Striper 2 Catfish 2

There hasn’t been much change at the California Aqueduct with most striped bass fishermen continuing to head north to the San Luis Reservoir, but there is the occasional large striper to 34 pounds reported. The water is moving, and this allows the bait to congregate around the headgates. In the southern section of the aqueduct, both striped bass and catfishing is fair at best with the best striper fishing on bait.

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.

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 has been the epicenter of largemouth bass fishing in the Central Valley, and interest in the lake remains high. The cold fronts moving through the valley have created more challenging conditions for big fish, but there are still quality largemouths to be had.

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The fronts have slowed down the number of big limits, but there are still decent fish being caught with most everything on the bottom with worms, jigs, or Senkos from 15 to 20 feet. Most fishermen are working around the dam with a few spots up the river arm. I have spoken with at least 20 boats that were heading up there today. A few large bass have been taken on swimbaits.”

The Mid-Valley Bass Club will host the 2018 Kid’s Fishing Day at Eastman Lake on April 7, providing a free day of fishing and fun for children 15 years and under. Fishing experts will be on-hand to teach kids the basics of baiting, casting and reeling in the big one, and along with fishing, there will be a casting contest, a special appearance by Bobby the Water Safety Dog, a professional DJ, and lots of games, fun, and door prizes.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Chowchilla Recreation Area Pavilion. Fishing will run until 11:30 a.m. and the festivities will continue into the afternoon. Guests with their own fishing poles are encouraged to bring them; the park staff will hand out loaner fishing poles, but supplies are limited. Individuals 16 years old or older must have a valid fishing license.

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

Hensley Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Bass fishermen continue to find more planted rainbows to 13 inches than bass as the trout seem to be more active than the bass. Anglers drop-shotting are picking up rainbows while targeting bass at depths to 20 feet. A few small crappie are showing up with minijigs around structure. The lake rose slightly to 28 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 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 1 Crappie 2

Don Pedro Reservoir is a far cry from last year when the spillway had to be opened to keep the reservoir from going over the dam, limiting access to the lake for several weeks to the Blue Oaks launch ramp. The lake remains relatively high at 84 percent, and bass are taking center stage with the lake of trout and salmon showing up.

Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits fished the NewJen Bass Tournaments on Saturday, and he said, “It was excellent for some and tough for others. It was tough for us as we ended up with an 11.91-pound limit, good enough for 15th place. We started out with reaction baits, but we found nothing before switching over to the Berserk Purple Hornet jig, and the bass in the 2- to 2.5-pound range were all over it. The underspin by Fatty Worm and the Pro Worm 124p on the drop-shot were also effective for numbers, but we were looking for a larger grade. Our best action was at 25 to 40 feet with some fish shallow in the mornings before moving out in the afternoon. The larger bass in the tournament were found on swimbaits.”

John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “We were out on the lake this week in perfect conditions for big fish as the day before a hurricane-like cold storm swept through the area, and the air was cold and chilling to the bone although the valley was clear with blue skies. We chose to alternate between large swimbaits and finesse-style soft plastics to try and coax a giant into biting. After my fishing partner got hung up in the rocks, we brought the boat close to free the line, and once it was freed, he felt at tug on his line and set the hook with his bare hands. We figured it was a small fish based on the way it was hooked, but when we caught a glimpse of it, it was a big one. While trying to find the net in the excitement of the moment, the line broke in his hands. On this occasion we missed the opportunity to catch a giant fish that under different circumstances, would have been very rewarding.”

Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing will be back on the lake on Monday morning trolling for rainbow trout as he received an encouraging report of one boat with four rainbows in the box with two others lost while trolling at 50 feet.

Don Pedro has risen to 84 percent.

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

Lake Isabella/

Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish Bluegill 1

The big news in the area is the 29th annual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby will occur this coming weekend, 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 The lake and its campgrounds should be filled for the annual event which is one of the largest fishing derbies on the West Coast. 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. The lake held at 31 percent. 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 3 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

The bass are in pre-spawn mode, and there are some large fish to be taken such as the 12.27-pound largemouth bass caught and released by Gary Wasson of Kingsburg on a Kei Tech swimbait. Experienced fishermen can find success for trophy bass, and this is the second double-digit largemouth released by Wasson within the past year. 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 to 23 percent.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 3

Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “There continues to be a lot of interest in the lake as the bass are in pre-spawn mode. The smaller bass have been active on plastic worms and also on spinnerbaits. After this week’s rains, the lake should be ideal for bass fishing. Trout fishermen are also lining the banks with Power Bait, Kastmasters, or nightcrawlers.” The lake rose to 28 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river is murky due to the rain, and the bite has such off.”

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 0 Crappie 3 Catfish 2

With the large tournaments at Don Pedro and New Melones over the past two weekends, few bass fishermen have been targeting McClure, but the crappie are starting to show up near structure with live minnows or minijigs. The bulk of the action has yet to come, but there are crappie trickling in with anglers from as far away as Fresno starting to show up. Bass fishing is best with finesse techniques with plastics on the Ned rig or drop-shot at depths from 40 to 60 feet along with live minnows. The lake rose to 69 percent.

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 3

Lake McSwain continues to be a pleasant surprise for planted rainbows within the past month, and this week was no exception with trout to 8 pounds reported. Plants from the Calaveras Trout Farm and the Department of Fish and Wildlife have created enthusiasm for bank fishermen along with trollers in the full body of water.

Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Parks and Recreation said, “There as a plant of big fish to 8 pounds once again this week, and the amount of big fish we have received has been incredible. We have never seen it like this here, and we are close to full in the campgrounds starting in early April for the remainder of the summer. Bank anglers are focusing around the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and along the peninsula near the marina with live minnows, silver/blue Kastmasters, nightcrawlers, and trout dough bait in lime green or pink sherbert. There have been several rainbows in the 2- to 7-pound range brought in this week, and both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Calaveras Trout Farm are putting in big fish. Around 70 percent of our fishermen are on the shorelines, but there have been a number of boats trolling in the river arm with silver/blue Kastmasters, Speedy Shiners, or Rapalas. The weather this week has kind of put a damper on the number of fishermen, but they are still catching fish out there.”

The annual Merced Irrigation Trout Derby is April 7-8 with registration forms available at

The annual derby will feature 50 tagged fish including $2000 for tag # 1, $1000 for tag #2, and $500 for tag #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 on 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 remains spotty as the bass are holding out in deeper water in response to the cold fronts moving through. Plastics on the drop-shot or wacky-rigged Senkos are the top offerings as deep as 30 feet as the bass have moved off of the banks. Limits are limited with 8 pounds being a big weight at the present time. A few crappie to 10 inches have been taken on minijigs in Squaw Cove. “The lake rose to 66 percent this week.

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

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones


Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0

The Best Bass Tournaments brought their road show to New Melones on Saturday, and 68 boats participated in the event won by the team of Bill and Mike Goodman with a 27.78-pound limit including a 10.04-pound kicker.

There has been a consistent scattering of big fish, and John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service was on the lake on Sunday for a half-day trip, and he said, “It was tougher today than it has been, but the fish have been biting in the wind and the rain. We were out on Friday, and although the majority of our larger fish came on finesse techniques of plastics on a shakey head or drop-shot, we did catch a few fish on glide baits and swimbaits. We caught and released spots to 7 pounds working the bottom at 15 to 25 feet on Friday as part of a limit pushing 23 pounds, but the fish pulled back out into deep water on Sunday as it was icy in Angels Camp in the morning. The good news is that the lake is coming back up once again, and I hope it stays high for a month or so as we are one week away from the bite busting loose. After we get through this week’s storms, the weather should stabilize, bringing the bass back into the shallows.”

Beau Coutroul of the Lake Camanche Recreation Company reported an excellent bass bite from the shorelines with one of his friends posting a 22-pound plus limit on Saturday tossing Brush Hogs on a Carolina-rig.

Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits confirmed the return of SWaver bite that he had experienced over a week ago with the top weights during the Best Bass Tournaments landed on the River2Sea bait.

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 are starting to show near structure, but the best action is still weeks away.

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 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 3

Pine Flat has been the focus for several local bass tournaments in the past few months, and in addition to the bass action, rainbow trout and crappie are available.

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Most of our crappie fishermen have been heading to Pine Flat, and the best action has been around Trimmer and Rattlesnake Creek with a variety of lures such as Crappie Stingers, Strike King Mr. Crappie, and Bobby Garland’s as we sold gear to at least 60 anglers heading to Pine Flat on Saturday. There have been some picking up 25 fish limits of small- to medium-sized slabs.”

For bass, Gilbert reported that one good angler was out for a half-day trip, and he caught and released 20 bass in the 13- to 14-inch range with as many largemouth bass as spotted bass working the bottom with plastics from 30 to 40 feet around Windy Gap.

Trout fishing is also decent with trollers able to scratch out limits to 15 inches running Cop Car Needlefish, Apex lures, Rainbow Runners, or ExCels in shad-patterns from 15 to 20 feet from the Power Lines to the Pine Flat Lake Resort. The Kokanee Power Pine Flat Derby is scheduled for April 21. Info and registration on the derby is available at

The lake rose to 55 percent.

In the lower Kings River below the dam, trout plants continue on a weekly basis.

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 continues to kick out striped bass from the shorelines in the mornings and evenings although the recent weather fronts have driven the linesides near the bottom during the day.

Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “ trollers are pulling Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s, Yozuri Crystal Minnows . Live minnows are still popular, and one angler caught his personal-best striper at 30 pounds fly-lining a jumbo minnow. This was the only bite he got all day long, but it was a huge bass.

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the trolling bite has been affected by the storm fronts. “ Trollers are struggling right now with the fish settling into a suspending prefrontal pattern . We got 11 fish to 23 1/2” on Monday but the fish were not very active. The water temps started at 57 degrees and went up to almost 59- so it’s still staying under 60. Some algae is starting to form but the water clarity is about 12-15 feet. The fish are moving to new areas to feed too. “ George said. George’s next “Downrigging 101 for Stripers” on the water class is tentatively set for April 7th , info (559) 905-2954

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Shore anglers are throwing ripbaits such as Lucky Craft Pointers or Mega Bass for stripers in the 3- to 5-pound range.”

In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements touted this location has a solid place to put children onto shaker striped bass with bait as the linesides to 15 inches are plentiful.

The lake is rising once again, and it is at 81 percent.

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

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0

Not much change at the lake as the rain along with some snow fell on the area. Bass fishing should improve once the water warms, but it is still cold at the present time. Trout trolling is also on the rise, but the key is being able to launch a boat on the ramp. However, the lake has risen to 62 percent, making launching easier. The launch fee has doubled from $5 to $10. Webcams of the lake are available at

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


Mammoth Pool

Brown trout 0 Trout 0

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

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/

Huntington Lake

Kokanee 2 Trout 2

The weather was the limiting factor over the weekend as it snowed hard on Saturday night. One boat attempted to launch on Sunday morning, but the ice was too thick on the launch ramp. When the weather cooperates, the numbers of trophy-sized trout have been increasing along with a few kokanee. The action should continue to be strong for both kokanee and rainbow trout throughout the spring and summer. A webcam of the lake is available at updated every 20 minutes. The lake rose slightly to 48 percent.

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, 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


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


Half Moon Bay

Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf perch 3

The news in this section of the coastline was a major disappointment due to postponement of the recreational ocean salmon season that was to start in local waters on April 7. The determination as to which of the three salmon options presented to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will be completed during their meetings in early April, but boats from Half Moon Bay will have the option to seek salmon south of Pigeon Point, 18 miles below the harbor as the salmon season will open below this landmark on April 7. Also opening below Pigeon Point is the rockfish season on April 1 with the local season set to open on April 15.

Captain Bob Ingles of the Queen of Hearts out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing and Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat are willing to make the long run south below Pigeon Point before the local season opens on April 15 along with ventures south for salmon. In the interim period of time, whale watching has been spectacular with the gray whale returning on their northward journey towards Alaska. When they are heading north with their calves, they swim much closer to the shore, and Mattusch and his crew observed the whales mating two miles off of the harbor on Saturday.

From the beaches, surf perch and school-sized striped bass are the top species with sand crabs and Berkley Gulp! Grubs.

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 4 Surf perch 3

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey went out for sand dabs and crab on Saturday for 10 anglers, and they returned with lots of sand dabs and 45 Dungeness crab. Whale watching remains spectacular, and they will be able to open the salmon season on April 7.

Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “Steve Griffin from Monterey’s three-pound, five-ounce barred surfperch remained at the top of the list as the heaviest perch for this year’s Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby. The fish measured 16 5/8-inches long, and was particularly round and thick. Griffin caught the giant perch from “a beach in Monterey,” using live bloodworms for bait.

He has entered the Derby for the past five years, placing as high as second in previous years. This year, Griffin went home with the gleaming four-foot tall trophy.

The 15th annual Sand Crab Classic will be held next year, on the second Saturday in March. Limited to 300 entrants. the event is about family, fun and fishing as well as boosting stewardship of our local anadromous species and protecting our ocean waters.

Other notable trophy winners include Matt Michie with a beautiful 14 5/8-inch striped perch; Ken Oda, who won the flyrod division with a perch measuring 13 5/8-inches; and Leslie Cadwallader who took the Women’s Barred Surf Perch top honors with an 11 5/8-inch fish caught at Sunset Beach.

Kristen Outten from Half Moon Bay brought in a redtail perch she caught at San Gregorio Beach, winning the Women’s Seaperch division, while Emiko Anchetta and Julian Renz took home the big trophies for Number one in the Junior Barred and Junior Seaperch divisions respectively.

Everyone is a winner though, in this annual gathering and celebration. While having lots of fun, families are also passing along fishing and conservation heritage. All proceeds from the derby entries, raffle and silent auctions go directly to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project, for their work in protecting and propagating our coastal steelhead and king salmon populations.”

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

San Francisco Bay

Halibut 2 Striper 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2

The California Dawn out of Berkeley got an early jump on the halibut season, and they trolled up a total of 30 shakers along with 6 legal halibut for a combined 23 anglers on Saturday and Sunday.

The 27th annual Nor Cal Skipper’s Sturgeon Derby was held on Saturday out of San Leandro, and Captain Paul Velez of Boss Hogg Sport Fishing put in 5 sturgeon in the south bay with his dad taking first place, brother taking second, and the captain in sixth.

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael was fairly ecstatic over the lack of wind on Sunday after the weather conditions have been miserable throughout the week. He decried the ‘anemic’ tides over the weekend, but he is anticipating much improved sturgeon fishing in San Pablo Bay this coming weekend with the start of the minus tides on Friday. The action has been best for striped bass, but he was aware of one boat that had two sturgeon in addition to two stripers. Fraser will be addionally prepared with live mud shrimp for the coming weekend in addition to the ghost and grass shrimp currently in the shop.

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 3

The San Luis Obispo harbors will be running whale watching and nature trips until the rockfish opener within two weeks on Sunday, April 1. Both harbors are taking reservations for a variety of trips for the rockfish season. Surf perch action is good from the beaches with blood worms, lug worms, Berkley Camo Worms or Grubs.

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



Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

It was like a light switch went on for fishing in the Sacramento-Delta as sturgeon and striped bass action went into overdrive with the series of storms moving through northern California. In addition to the male stripers that were moving through last week, a number of females are making their move into the Sacramento River. However, the water of the Sacramento River has become muddy, and this will limit the trolling and casting action.

Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, said, “The stripers have finally arrived in big numbers, but the water has been dirty. I went into Steamboat Slough only to find dirty water, but we found some clear water downstream and caught and released 15 stripers to 7 pounds with a few 7’s and 6’s in the mix. Shallow-running Rat-L-Traps in silver or crawdad were the best lure. The stripers are here, and I hope we don’t miss them moving through with the muddy water.”

Finding clean water was the key, and although J.D.Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said, “We struggled to find clean water on Saturday, and overall the action was slow, but my client, Tim Reilly of Fair Oaks, caught and released a 34-pound striper on a Pencil Popper.”

Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “It’s like someone turned the light switch on as the stripers are in the Sacramento-Delta, but it is muddy, and the best action has been on the San Joaquin side.”

The small tides over the weekend made for challenging conditions for sturgeon, but Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg was able to put his clients onto two legal sturgeon at 43 and 47 inches on Saturday near Roe/Ryer Island. He said, “We missed a number of good bites on the morning outgoing tide, and it was possible to have limits for the boat. Sunday was a similar story as they were biting first thing in the morning, but our bites were missed, and the action slowed down to a crawl once the small outgoing tide died. It was back to the same story as last weekend with everyone sitting on fish from the Big Cut to Chain Island, but they were less willing to bite. This coming weekend should be very good with the minus tides and the number of sturgeon in the system.”

Prior to this weekend’s slower action, Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing out of Martinez said, “The sturgeon are back on the bite. The water temperature is back up to 55.3 degrees, and there are more fish in the system. I think they are moving back up from the lower bays. Captain Joe’s crew landed keeper fish this past weekend, and I ran the boat early in the week and found a lot of fish but we only landed one that was just short with 12-year old David Shigmatesu releasing the short sturgeon. During the Diamond Classic, I was told that David helped other fishermen on the Martinez Pier after landing 12 fish, and I was so impressed during the awards ceremony, I offered he and his dad a free sturgeon with me. We have some rain coming in the next few days so fishing could only get even better.”

Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher had a great day mid-week with a total of 8 sturgeon composed of two oversized, three shakers, and 8 legal fish released fishing in Suisun Bay with his special salmon roe. He said, “The weekend was also explosive with a total of 22 sturgeon to the boat with the majority slot-limit fish along with some oversized and a few shakers. We even landed a nice slot fish on a 10 weight fly rod.”

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 in the event.

The recent rain has brought muddy water to the Sacramento-Delta and the Mokelumne River, but the San Joaquin-Delta remains relatively clear, and the striped bass have arrived.

Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service is working out of Korth’s Pirates Lair at the present time, and he has been putting his clients onto limits of school-sized stripers trolling Yozuri Crystal Minnows. He said, “Last week we worked our butts off to catch 1 keeper. On Thursday, we caught about 20 keepers trolling Yozuri Crystal Minnows from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m., and I lost count on how many fish we caught, but there were seven doubles. We were able to quit before the rain and wind started. On Sunday, we were headed to Eddos to start the day off but was so foggy, I could only go 5 mph safely. So we decided to troll to Eddo’s, and it was a good thing because we found fish, and we were all by ourselves. We ended the day with 10 keepers and about 20 shorts to 5 pounds, keeping 9 stripers. The pre-front conditions early this week could be good.”

Netzel is not the only guide based out of Korth’s right now, and Captain Mike Gravert has returned to his Delta hang out, and he experienced solid action as well on Thursday for school-sized striped bass.

Tom Amberson of Elk Grove, pro staff for Delta Wood Bombers, was out on Sunday with two friends, and they found an excellent topwater bite for striped bass to 18 pounds caught and released. He said, “It was a wide open bite on our first drift despite a sea lion fishing right along with us, and it continued to provide thrills for the next two drifts. We left and came back to nail the 18-pound fish as we ended up with 30 plus stripers with many follows and blow ups. There were several 2- to 6-pound stripers with some milkers in the mix. We found the birds working, and the stripers were there on the main San Joaquin.”

Kris Huff, pro staff for Delta Wood Bombers, said, “The Delta is a fun fishery right now with a lot of stripers in the area along with largemouth chewing. We started out striper fishing, but we didn’t connect with anything over 8 pounds so we decided to target largemouth bass, focusing upon current breaks and weed lines in 3 to 6 feet of water with chatterbaits or plastics on the drop-shot. The most active fish were found in water temperatures from 50 to 60 degrees, and we put together a solid limit over the 30-pound mark.”

Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors was out with his wife, Sandra, on Thursday afternoon, and he said, “The Delta is on fire right now, and we are hooking fish left and right on spinnerbaits, black and blue Senkos, or swim jigs.”

Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “My nephew Michael ‘Bubs’ Fong put together a 24-pound plus limit on Saturday throwing wake baits and chatterbaits in the sloughs in the east Delta, and I was near Paradise Point earlier in the week for numbers of largemouth bass to 4 pounds casting ripbaits and Senkos. The water was clear with visibility around 5 feet before the storms arrived. There have been a number of big fish caught this week as I know about a 11.8- and 10.3- pound largemouth bass.”

Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton reported stripers to 28 inches have been coming from the banks off of Whiskey Slough with live bluegill or blood worms. Big crappie to 2-pounds have also been landed from the banks off of 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, the water level has risen to nearly 45 percent of capacity with the recent rainstorms, but the weather has had an impact on the numbers of fishermen on the lake. Soft plastics on the drop-shot, dart-head, or shakey head are working at depths to 20 feet, and there is a jig bite as well. An occasional crappie in the 1.5- to 2-pound range is showing up on bass gear. A webcam of the lake is available at At San Antonio, bass fishing is improving with more numbers of largemouth and smallmouth taken on jigs or plastics on the drop-shot. Striped bass fishing remains slow at best. The South Shore Marina remains on the winter schedule starting Friday at 6 a.m. through Sunday at 6 p.m. At Lopez, the action has been slower with the rains keeping anglers from heading to the lake. Largemouth bass continue to hold on the bottom, and finesse techniques such as jigs or plastics are working best. Crappie, bluegill, and perch can be found around structure. in the coming month with the fish wanting to move up into the shallows. A webcam of the lake is available at At Santa Margarita, similar to the other coastal lakes, the weather continues to be a limiting factor with the best action for crappie or bluegill around the marina as basss action has slowed.

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



Central Valley Anglers Striper Shoot Out (27-inch target length): March 17 at Delta/Brannan Island – 1, Kenji Nakagawa, 23.5 inches; 2, Jorge Aquino 22; 3, Sid Miller, 20.125.

Rippin Lips Tournament of Champions: March 17-18 at Delta/Sugar Barge and Tracy Oasis – 1, Tim Venkus/John Martin, 44.39 pounds; 2, Michael and Dave Romuar, 41.56 (Big Fish 8.08); 3, Phillip Dutra/Mike Andrews, 40.68.

Best Bass Tournaments Mother Lode Region: March 17 at New Melones – 1, Bill and Mike Goodman, 27.78 (Big Fish 10.04); 2, Mark and June Andrews, 20.33: 3, Mike Newton/Steve Nincioni, 19.26.

Best Bass Tournaments Central Region: March 18 at New Melones – 1, Jeffrey Horn/Dave Sarginson, 18.39 (Big Fish 7.81); 2, Cameron Cardoza/Robert Riehl, 17:38; 3, Stephen Magill/Adam Belmont, 17.01.

NewJen Bass Tournaments: March 17 at Don Pedro – 1, Jason Remmers/Alex Niapas, 23.28; 2, Christian Ostrander/Chris Sagayno, 20.35; 3, Joe O’Brien/Jake Brannan, 19.20 (Big Fish 6.62).

Dan’s Delta Outdoors Pro/Am: March 18 at Delta/Big Break Marina – 1, Juan Acosta/Michael Henry, 25.75 (Big Fish 8.15); 2, Chris Ball/Bobby Zavvar, 19.86; 3, Nick Cloutier/David Ritchie, 18.37.


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; Sycamore Island on the San Joaquin River – San Joaquin River Conservancy and Trout Unlimited fifth annual derby, details at

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 25

by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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

Tulare County: Lake Kaweah, Lake Success

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q = full moon