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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Shaver Lake kokanee and trout filling limits, Dick Nichols said. Wishon and Courtright trout on a tear, Chuck Crane reported. San Luis stripers on the prowl, Alex Lopez said. Eastman and Pine Flat bass are best bass bites, Steve Newman reported. Don Pedro trout hitting Dave Hurley said. New Melones bass bite “outstanding” Steve Liechty reported. Lake Success bass fishing very good, Chuck Stokke said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal
Striper 2 Catfish 2
The northern section of the California Aqueduct is perking up as Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The stretch from Los Banos to Kettleman City is clearing up, and there have been a few stripers in the 22- to 30-inch range taken, mostly on bait. The key is keeping the bait out of the weeds, and the fish are feeding on the bottom. There has been more bait in this stretch and even a few boils emerging.” In the southern portion of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The moss is thinning out, and jumbo blood worms are working well for striped bass. We sold out the blood worms quickly, but lures are also starting to pick up fish.”
Bass 3 Trout 1 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The finesse bite remains the top technique on the lake with jigs or dragging plastics on a Texas-rig for number of bass in the 2- to 2.5-pound range. The larger 4- to 6-pound fish have been absent on the finesse techniques, but the occasional larger bass is taken on topwater lures or swimbaits such as 5-inch Kei Techs along with glide baits. The counts have gone down with a good day being a dozen fish, and fishermen have to lower their expectations on size.” Catfishing remains slow. The algae bloom has primarily dissipated. The lake is at 41 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 1 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Newman said, “A smaller grade of bass is found here, and anglers have to grind it out by dragging jigs on the bottom along with plastics on a Neko-rig or shakey head. Senkos are also effective, but you have to the lure right in the fish’s face. The reaction bite remains slow. The water releases have slowed, and the bass bite should improve after the lake is stable for a few weeks.” The catfish bite is also slow with the cooler water, but there are whiskerfish to be taken off of the banks with cutbaits, stinkbaits, or chicken livers. The lake is at 13 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 2 King salmon 2 Crappie 2
As the kokanee action winds down at Don Pedro, rainbow trout are a solid possibility along with hope for king salmon. The lake has produced salmon to 10 pounds in past years, but the larger salmon have been primarily absent for the past few years. The fall season is always the best for salmon as the shad schools move deeper in the water column as the lake cools. Right now, the water temperatures remain high with the recent hot spell, and rainbow trout are found in deeper water than expected.
Trout trollers are pulling a variety of UV lures at depths from 55 to 90 feet for rainbows, and the quality of the fish remains good despite the warm water temperatures. As the water cools, rolling shad is a good option, and the shad or anchovies are the top baits for king salmon. Normally, the river arm has been the best location for king salmon, and with the lake still over 70 percent, the river arm has plenty of deep water.
Kokanee has slowed, but there still are landlocked sockeyes in the lake, but they are rapidly turning into their spawning colors. As they turn, fewer fishermen target the kokanee and instead opt for the rainbows. The upcoming fall season is expected to be strong for rainbows based upon the outstanding action throughout the summer months as the fish got settled in the water column. Recreation boat traffic has diminished, and fishermen will have the lake to themselves within the coming months. The lake is at 77 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 3 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait and Tackle in Bakersfield said, “Isabella remains pretty good for catfish, crappie, or bass, and the crappie bite remains good in the South Fork in the shallows with minijigs.” Catfishing is best with chicken livers, minnows, cut baits, or dip baits. The Lake Isabella Bass Club is holding a team crappie tournament on Saturday, September 22nd with an entry fee of $55.00 for a two-angler team. 10-fish limits will be weighed in with a 6-inch minimum, and artificial lures only are allowed during the 6-hour tournament. Information – www: lakeisabellabassclub.com or by contacting tournament director, Matt Smith, at 760-223-3898. The lake has dropped from 16 to 15 percent with water releases down the Kern River. The flows in the Kern River above the dam has slowed to less than 200 cfs, but there are holdover rainbow trout in the deep pools with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, live crickets, or lures such as Kastmasters or Panther Martins. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “The Kern River is excellent with dry flies or Woolley Buggers as the flows are perfect in the upper Kern. In the lower stretches to the dam, the water is warm, and nymphing with Pheasant Tail Flashbacks or Copper John patterns with an indicator are working best.” The lower river below the dam has also slowed down, but largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, and the occasional holdover rainbow trout are taken from the shorelines from the dam into the city limits. The local lakes including Buena Vista are best for carp, catfish, bass, or bluegill.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 1 Catfish 2
The Central Valley Kayak Fishing group will descend on the lake in numbers on Sunday, and it is hoped that power boats give the kayaks a wide berth in the lower water pool. The bass have concentrated on submerged islands or rockpiles, and a small grade of bass can be found on plastics on the drop-shot, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. The water releases have slowed, and the lake held at 8 percent. Catfish have been taken at night on cut baits or prepared dip baits. The lake has dropped to 7 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “The lake is fishing excellent for largemouth bass with experienced anglers pulling out some hogs on jigs, Senkos, and lizards.” Larry Kerns, lake record holder at Success, confirmed the great bite, saying, “Jerry Williams and his son have landed largemouths in excess of 9 pounds this week with a number of 5’s and 6’s. I have had to settle for 3’s and 4’s, but the fishing is good with jigs or crankbaits.” The lake has dropped to 9 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river is fishing excellent, mainly on Woolley Buggers, and Zach Sexton landed an 18-inch brown on a Woolley Bugger in the North Fork of the Middle Fork last week. Dry fly action has been hit or miss. Chuck Stokke is giving fly casting lessons at the Pierpoint Café the second Sunday of the month at 10:00 a.m. The lessons are free and all equipment is provided.
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
The water temperature has to cool down at least 5 degrees cooler before the bass come back into the shallows. Numbers of small spotted bass are found on jigs or plastics on the drop-shot, and the Berserk Purple Hornet or Brown Craw jigs with a Yamamoto twin-tail trailer has been particularly effective. Catfishing has slowed with the cooler temperatures. The lake dropped from 68 to 66 percent.
The last trout plant was on August 30th, and the trout fishing has slowed for the most part with the exception of the early morning hours or late afternoons from the bank locations of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, or the peninsula near the marina. Trollers are finding better action in the cooler waters in the river arm with blade/’crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger. The water feature, that has brought out so many visitors during the summer since May, will be disassembled for the fall and winter months before returning next spring. The annual Merced Irrigation District’s Fall Trout Derby is scheduled for October 7th, and there will be trout plants prior to the derby.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Numbers are the story at Millerton with plenty of 10- to 12-inch bass available. The bass are feeding in the rockpiles and moving in and out of deep water. Rockpiles adjacent to sandy flats are the bets locations, and the river arm is a good location to fish throughout the day with the absence of excessive boat traffic. The main lake is still crowded with recreational boats on weekends, and anglers are heading to the coves after 10 a.m. Winchell’s and Squaw Cove are the top locations in the lake, but most fishermen head up the river arm above Finegold at this time. The launch is still on ramp 2.” The lake is at 53 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2
The bass bite at New Melones remains outstanding although fishermen have to search far and wide from one day to the next as the bass are following the highly mobile schools of shad. Catfishing is continuing to improve in anticipation of next month’s Glory Hole Catfish Derby – a monthlong event starting on Oct. 1.
For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “I was on the lake every day this past week, sometimes even twice a day, and the bass are on the move. One day, you can find them on a spot in the morning, and they are gone in the afternoon, but back on the original spot in a few days. The fish are moving like crazy, and it comes down to the shad. You can hit a spot that’s on fire, and then they are gone. The bass are sitting on the outside of the shad schools and suspending, and numbers are taken on plastics on the drop-shot. You will bump up to a larger grade of bass with plastics on a Texas-rig or shakey head along with a jig, but you will sacrifice numbers for quality. Slow-rolling a swimbait is also effective for larger fish, but once again, the numbers are down. The bass are holding anywhere from 15 to 35 feet and sometimes shallower, and we are finding them throughout the lake in various spots. We check in at different spots to see if they are there or not. To be honest, I am really looking forward to the fall.”
Catfishing is also on the upswing, and it will continue to improve as the water temperatures cool. Information on the upcoming catfish derby is available through Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp. The lake is at 75 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Bass fishermen continue to focus on Pine Flat in preparation for upcoming tournaments with both lipless and squarebill crankbaits in Chili Craw or shad patterns. Most anglers are focusing up the river arm from Windy Gap to Trimmer with crankbaits while the main lake features a solid finesse bite along main lake points. There is spinnerbait action at night with shad patterns of white with a bluish streak as the bait starts moving. There is also a window for topwater lures in the evenings along with ripbaits. The algae bloom has mostly cleared. No trout reports with the hot weather and excellent action in the high country.” The lake has dropped to 26 percent. In the lower Kings River, trout action is solid for planters from the 1st Bridge to Winton Park with heavier Kastmasters or Roostertails along with salmon eggs or Power Bait with a heavier weight in the fast water.
San Luis Reservoir
and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
Bank fishing has been best with bait from the shorelines at Dinosaur Point and Romero Visitor Center. Anchovies, frozen shad, pile worms, or blood worms are all working with the best action in the early mornings or late afternoons. Jumbo minnows are in short supply, but the live bait has been effective for those drifting in deep water.
Trolling slowed down a bit over the past week, however, Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service did it again, this time over two days of guiding. Roger first guided Aaron Sims on Sunday to three quality fish, led by his personal-best striped bass of 38 inches and 20 pounds. “I was stoked about Aaron’s fish, but later we hooked up with another good one, a feisty 33-inch 12-pounder. A few minutes later, after another big bite we landed a beautiful 36-inch 16-pounder. We had an incredible day with over 40 fish released, many in the quality 5- to 7-pound range.
“Then on Monday I guided James Levall of Oakhurst and Rudy Valdez of Fresno. The trip started out slowly but when Rudy fought in a big 39-inch 21-pounder for his first striper turned around. Lightning struck again when we hooked up again on a 38-inch 20-pounder It was hard to believe that in two days we had landed five fish going 12, 16, 20, 20 and 21 pounds! That makes it nine fish since Aug. 18 from 12 to 32 pounds with five at or above 20 pounds. This whole thing turned around for me when a fishing friend, Tom Machado of Newman, asked me why I wasn’t getting any big fish lately. I realized I was off my track.
“We have been scoring with lures that resemble the shad that the stripers are feeding on right now, mainly silver lures in the 4- to 5-inch range, and timing is a big factor as the bites can turn on and off quickly. There are areas where you can catch a lot of small school fish but few of these are over 21 inches. The fish are moving from area to area, and I’m seeing a few boils on top in calm conditions. I scouted the lake hard over the past year, and it is paying off. Some guys are getting them on minnows and I know Steve Sorensen of Fresno fishing with John Garcia got a 36-incher they released this week.”
George will be doing striper seminars at the Striperfest at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno on Oct. 20. Signups can be done instore or call the store. Seating is limited and there will be giveaways.
The main lake rose from 48 to 50 percent with increased pumping out of the south Delta.
In the forebay, Alex Lopez of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Ripbaits, swimbaits, or topwater lures are working for boaters when they find the fish boiling on the surface, bringing the birds working the bait. Jumbo blood worms, shad, anchovies, or pile worms are effective for the small grade of striped bass from the normal locations of Check 12 or the Highway 152 Bridge.”
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
For the majority of the spring and summer, Bass Lake has been inundated with recreational boats, and the Labor Day holiday weekend was no exception with water skiers, wakeboarders, jet skiers, and speedboats rushing to and fro in various directions throughout the lake. The heavy recreational boat traffic keeps most bass fishermen off of the lake for safety reasons, and these concerns were justified over the holiday weekend with another tragic accident resulting in loss of life at the lake.
Labor Day marks the end of the majority of recreational boating, and bass fishermen will start returning to the lake. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis is very optimistic about the coming fall season, saying, “I fished with my partner on Labor Day, and we got on the lake early and off by 11 a.m. as the boat traffic was getting intense. The bass bite was very good, and we found fish at 25 to 30 feet with plastics on the drop-shot including a quick limit of rainbow trout. Drop-shotting is the only technique you can really work with the weed growth on the bottom. We got on a bite where we either landed a rainbow or a bass on every drop, and the rainbows were quality in the 15- to 16-inch range. Within 20 minutes, we had a limit of rainbows, keeping three of the fish since they swallowed the hook so deep. There was a 50-yard stretch near the public park where the action was hot until the sun came up over the mountains. There isn’t much of a reaction bite, but spinnerbaits will work around the docks. We found plenty of fish, and they are healthy, leading me to look forward to the coming fall season with the water cooling down and the boat traffic is coming to a close.”
The lake is finally releasing water, and it dropped from 100 to 93 percent this week.
Brown trout 2 Trout 2
Shaver, Courtright, and Wishon Reservoirs continue to attract the majority of trout fishermen in the Central Sierra with few anglers heading to Edison. Few anglers are reporting after making the drive over Kaiser Pass. The upcoming rifle deer season will bring more outdoorsmen into the Kaiser Pass region. The lakes have all held with Edison at 89, Mammoth Pool at 98 percent, and Florence at 40 percent. The Vermilion Valley Resort at Lake Edison is open and fully operational for hikers, and the ferry is operating across Edison Lake twice a day. Check the Caltrans website at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi or call 800-427-7623 for road conditions.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee 3 Trout 3
“It’s been a great week of fishing for us at Shaver Lake with three mixed limits of kokanee and trout each day,” said, Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters. The kokanee action has rebounded from a few slow days a few weeks ago, just in time for Saturday’s Kokanee Power Derby.
Nichols said, “The kokanee are coming at 46 feet most of the time in the Black Rock and Eagle Point area, and we have been running Mountain Hoochies in pink or orange tipped with scented core behind a Mountain Dodger. There is great trout bite in Stevenson Bay at 20 to 24 feet with Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with a piece of crawler and corn behind a weighted Mountain Flasher. Both kokanee and trout deserve a 3 rating. The Kokanee Power Derby boats have been here pre-fishing throughout the week, and they have been scattered throughout the lake. My clients have been providing reports of fair bank action from shore with Edison Camp being the best location.”
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service was on the lake on Sunday after Saturday’s derby, and he said, “We found a decent one off of the point on the bottom, and we ended up with9 kokanee, losing another 6 working around 90 feet. The blue Radical Glow Tube behind a blue Trinidad dodger along with the RMT double-glow hoochie behind either a 5.5- or 4-inch orange Moonshine Dodger were working equally well. The schools of kokanee scattered out after the derby since many were dragging the bottom, but they should reform by the middle of this week.”
Thirty-nine anglers participated in the Shaver Lake Kokanee Derby, and Doug and Tona Philpott came in first at 62.2 ounces for three fish with Jack Schultz and Alan Traynor in second at 58.6 and the team of Kirk and Jerilyn Emge along with Tom Oliveira, local weekend guide, in 3rd with 52.0 ounces.
The lake held at 94 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; Tom Oliveira Fishing 802-8072; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937
Wishon Reservoir has been particularly outstanding for all varieties of fishing techniques with trollers, bait soakers, fly fishermen, and bait drifters all scoring limits. Courtright remains solid for trollers, but shore fishing is rated as fair. Both lakes are holding plenty of water and launching a vessel is easy.
Chuck Crane of the Wishon Village RV Park and Store said, “Trout action at Wishon is excellent right now with trollers catching and releasing plenty of trout and culling through the fish to keep the larger rainbows or browns. They are scoring with all types of lures, but blade/’crawler combinations at 3 to 5 colors remains the top set up. The trout are deep, and you have to have downriggers or leadcore to get to them. Needlefish, Thomas Buoyants, or Speedy Shiners are all working, but blade/’crawler combinations are out producing them all. Shore fishermen are scoring at the upper end of the lake where the river enters the lake with trout dough bait in pink, and some continue to drift trout dough bait on a 2-foot leader. Fly fishermen are still working the river in the deep holes, and gray hackles in 14-16 size are the best bet. Stream fishermen are also casting lures into the deep holes in the river arm. The lake dropped slightly over the weekend, but the boat launch is still on the top ramp. The RV Park and Store will be open through the end of deer season at the end of October, and hunters will start arriving in numbers within the next few weeks.”
At Courtright, trollers have the upper hand with limits the rule at 3 to 6 colors of leadcore or from 40 to 50 feet with downriggers. Blade/’crawler combinations are working best, but there has been a run of pink PPK Tomahawk spinners at local tackle shops. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We have solid a number of the PPK Tomahawks in light pink or orange this week for Wishon and Courtright.” Bank fishing is fair at best with the most action across from the boat launch with trout dough bait in pink or orange.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 3
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat reported limits of rockfish along with a ling per rod fishing in 120 to 150 feet of water off of San Gregorio. He said, “There are still lots of anchovies in our waters, but the squid has been absent and the commercial squid boats are starting to pull out. The Huli Cat is the only large party boat running crab/rockfish combinations starting on the Dungeness crab opener on November 3rd. Salmon fishing has slowed to a crawl with most Half Moon Bay boats making the long run north to above the Golden Gate for the chance at a salmon.
Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 3
The boats out of Chris’s Landing in Monterey stayed local over the weekend with the Star of Monterey taking a rare rockfish trip on Saturday for 31 limits of rockfish and 12 lings while the Caroline posted 21 limits and 3 lings. Keith Semler of Chris’s said, “The ling counts were down over the weekend, but watch and see, the counts will rise again during the middle of the week with trips down south. Captain Tinker has a new spot down south that he hasn’t fished in years, and he pulled lings to 35 pounds out of there last week. Our next availability on a Saturday is Nov. 24, and on an upcoming Sunday, Oct. 14 as the weekend interest remains high.”
The Golden Gate Salmon Association is holding a fundraising dinner at the Santa Cruz Elks Lodge on Sept. 21 to help support the organization’s work to rebuild the salmon runs. GGSA is actively working on all fronts to protect, recover and rebuild the salmon populations of the Central Valley and the tens of thousands of jobs the industry supports and the $1.4 billion of economic benefits it produces for California. Tickets are all-inclusive and only $85 per person or $700 for a table of eight with $120 in raffle tickets.
Information on the dinner is available at www.eventbrite.com/e/ggsa-santa-cruz-for-salmon-tickets-46955741888.
San Francisco Bay
Salmon 2 Halibut 2 Striper 2 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2
The weather offshore is keeping the rockfish party boats closer to the coast, and both the Happy Hooker and the California Dawn went up the Marin coastline for rockfish on Sunday, and the Happy Hooker posted a solid score with 23 limits of rockfish and 35 lings while the California Dawn came back with near-limits of rockfish at 227 and 37 lings for 25 anglers.
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina struggled on Sunday as the salmon didn’t seem to want a drifting bait. He said, “Some of the party boats found up to 25 salmon, but we zigged when we should have zagged. My group wanted to mooch, but the trollers did better today. The conditions were all set with huge bait balls and hard marks under the baits, but we went hours without action despite pulling out a number of tricks including the ‘Bloody Stump’ presentation. I landed an 18 pounder on a Gitzit right off of the bat in the morning, and I thought, ‘We are on them!’ But it wasn’t to be as we only landed one more fish throughout the day. Trollers are covering more water, and it seems like that is the way to go, but last weekend, it was the mooch bite that was on fire while trolling was slower. Captain Chris on the Crusty Crustacean has been a highliner all season long, and he had limits trolling by 8:53 a.m. on Saturday morning.”
There are still halibut in the bay although fewer fishermen are targeting the bay species. Captain Zach Medina of Gatecrasher Sport Fishing took out two young men for salmon fishing, and after landing a salmon, they wanted to add a flatfish to their resume. He made some drifts in the bay for a pair of halibut, giving them the opportunity for points in their youth kayak competition.
Salmon fishermen are starting to show up at California City at the high tide, but typical California City action is what has ensued. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters said, “I had a friend out on Sunday for nada, but last night one boat picked up a limit at 18 and 22 pounds. It is a matter of being there when the fish are there.”
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish 3 Surf perch 3
Rockfishing continues to be excellent with limits all around on Sunday’s and Monday’s trips out of the two San Luis Obispo County ports. Out of Port San Luis, the Phenix, Patriot, and Flying Fish out of Patriot Sport Fishing scored limits for 76 anglers anglers on Sunday with 28 lings to 14.5 pounds, 55 vermilion, 51 copper, 56 Bolina, 1 cabezon, 2 canary, and 556 assorted rockfish. Out of Morro Bay Landing, the Avenger and Endeavor put 54 anglers onto limits of rockfish and 4 lings consisting of 170 vermilion, 320 assorted rockfish, 30 copper, and 20 Boccaccio on Sunday. On Monday, the Endeavor went out on a half-day trip with 18 anglers for limits of rockfish composed of 20 copper, 20 vermilion, 140 assorted rockfish, and 6 ling cod to 14 pounds. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Fiesta took out 24 anglers on Monday for 2 ling cod, 20 vermilion, 20 copper, and 200 assorted rockfish for limits. All landings are running a variety of bottom fishing trips from half-day to two-day ventures up the coast. Out of Virg’s, the Black Pearl has open overnight trips on Sept. 21-22, Oct. 5-6, Oct. 19-20 and Nov. 16-17 with an open two-day trip on Dec. 28-30.
Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 2
The salmon bite that was improving during the past week due to cooler temperatures slowed to a crawl during the recent hot spell with temperatures in excess of 95 degrees for several days running. In addition to the heat, the wind has also been a limiting factor on the Sacramento-Delta, particularly in the open waters of Suisun Bay.
The 71st Annual Rio Vista Bass Derby is the weekend of October 12 – 14, and this is the first big target-length striper derby to arrive during the fall season. The Rio Vista derby has separate target-length divisions for striped bass and sturgeon with the salmon division decided by the heaviest fish. In addition to the oldest derby on the West Coast, the Rio Vista Chamber of Commerce holds an entire festival with a parade and many family events. Information on the derby weekend is available at www:bassfestival.com.
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, reported a much slower salmon bite out of Freeport as the salmon are moving up quickly to the upper Sacramento and Feather Rivers with the 69 degree water temperatures. He said, “I don’t think the fish are even slowing down and hugging the bottom, and if they were in the middle of the water column, they are impossible to hook. The best action has been at the mouth of the Feather at Verona with spinners or at the Outlet Hole, but the Freeport area has slowed.”
Sylvia Vieira of Vieira’s Riverside Bait near Isleton had a similar story after several salmon were landed in the area the previous week. She said, “The water warmed up, and we have only seen a few small salmon this week. We have lots of fishermen out, but few fish to report. Cooler weather is expected this week, and I anticipate a tremendous October for salmon in our area.”
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “There have only been 30 salmon listed at 1st Street in Benicia since the July 16th opener as there is a running log down there. A 26-inch halibut was landed off of 1st Street, and this is an indicator of the salt water pouring into the Delta. The Dillon Point State Park is also slow with only two salmon reported on Saturday as there were not a single fish out of 1st Street over the weekend. Striped bass action from the shoreline has been good, and one boat has been tearing up the sturgeon at Snag Island on eel. He has a small boat, and with the wind the way it has been, he can only anchor on the incoming tide. McAvoy’s has been the hot spot for larger stripers, and the regulars are landing linesides to 25 pounds with live splittail. We were very busy over the weekend and sold out of live bait by Sunday so there are lots of fishermen out there.”
For striped bass, Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, tried to make it to the West Bank this week, but the wind was too rough to troll on the main river. He opted for the relative calmness of the sloughs in the San Joaquin.
The Rio Vista Bridge will be closed during the evening hours this week from 7 p.m. Tuesday through 6 a.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The closures since have been a result of testing the new parts. Before the gearbox was fixed, Caltrans had been manually raising the 60-year-old span, a process which takes several hours. The bridge has been closed periodically since the gearbox was damaged on Aug. 6, causing major traffic delays in the area.
Largemouth bass tournaments are taking center stage once again during the months of September and October with several large events planned. The FLW will make an appearance at the end of the month out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island, and the largemouth bass bite is expected to improve in time for the event.
This weekend was the Bass Fest out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island with a big vendor show on Saturday starting at 11:00 a.m. followed by a tournament with a three-fish limit on Sunday. The event is designed to bring out bass fishermen of all experience levels as the entry fee is only $80.00/team. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, is the tournament director for the event, and he said, “The key will be to slow down your presentation and use scent. The Max Scent products are very effective to bring fish towards you as the recent cold weather has slowed down the metabolism for the Florida-strain largemouths. They don’t like cold so you have to fish slow with plastics. The warmer weather shouldbring out a bit of a reaction bite, but you have to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible for both your topwater and subsurface lures.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley confirmed the techniques necessary for success, saying, “Anglers are starting to figure out the bite is in the current, and you have to work chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, or plastics on the drop-shot around deep current. The double-bladed buzzbait is also a player, and the fish are now off of crawdads and focusing upon shad. I expect a solid bite for the FLW, and there are several upcoming events including Best Bass Tournaments Tournament of Champions and our TOC in mid-October on the horizon.”
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, said, “We were out on this week for stripers, and the winds would not allow us to fish the Sacramento River on the West Bank, We stayed in the San Joaquin for 4 keeper stripers to 4 pounds, and the wind restricted us to where we could troll. It was more of the same on our second trip with the winds keeping us near False River for 3 legal stripers to 6 pounds, and we picked up another striper in the Old River Flats.”
Captain Joey Gamez of Golden Gate Sport Fishing was out on a fun trip this week with Vince Borges of Phenix Rods, his son Josh Borges, and Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing, and they worked deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows in chartreuse or red/white for five limits of striped bass including losing a big fish estimated at over 25 pounds and releasing a 20 pounder.
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported good sturgeon action near the sheet rock plant in Antioch with grass shrimp with one boat hooking a legal 58-inch sturgeon and an oversized at the same time. He said, “Striped bass are moving in, and live mudsuckers or frozen shad are both working. Panfish are doing well with wax worms or jumbo red worms in the normal locations near the marina, dead-end sloughs, or in Discovery Bay. We have been selling at least 100 pounds of grass shrimp per week so there is more interest in sturgeon and striped bass on the anchor.”
Mathisen touted the reaction bite for stripers near Brown’s and Sherman Islands with Optimum’s Bad Bubba Shad swimbabit or the River2Sea SWaver. He said, “There have been a lot of 18- to 24-inch stripers, but every now and then someone gets into a 38- or 40-inch fish.”
Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton fresh shad is coming in regularlary with around 35 pounds of quality shad per day. Striped bass fishing is best in the San Joaquin River near Mossdale with shad, and bluegill are found in the normal locations of Inland Drive at Tiki Lagun, Bullfrog Landing, or off of Eight Mile Road with jumbo red worms.
Bass 3 White bass 3 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, the launch ramp is operation and the marina remain open for all services with the exception of gasoline. The water levels must rise again before the gas docks are operational. Even at 17 percent, there are 14 miles of boatable water on the lake as you can boat from the dam into the entrance of the Narrows. Boaters should exercise caution as there are both marked and unmarked water obstacles and shallow water spots. Bass fishing remains solid in the mornings and late afternoons with crankbaits, spoons, or swimbaits along with finesse techniques of working the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head. Finding the schools of white bass are getting more difficult, but once the school is located, white Roostertails or Kastmasters are effective. Catfishing is best with dip baits or stinkbaits. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com.
At Lopez, topwater lures are working in the early mornings or late afternoons with Zara Spooks, buzzbaits, or small poppers, and there is a subsurface bite around the weeds with chatterbaits or crankbaits. Finesse techniques of jigs or plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig are producing numbers of a smaller grade of largemouth. The bluegill and red ear perch are dropping deeper in the water column, but they can be taken with jumbo red worms or meal worms. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.
Santa Margarita is best for numbers with plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig while a larger grade of largemouth can be found on topwater lures, crankbaits, or swimbaits. There is a catfish bite in the flats with sardines or mackerel while the bluegill and perch are moving into the shallows. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.
At San Antonio, the cooler night temperatures has brought out an extended largemouth bass bite in the afternoons, and there is a reaction bite with topwater lures or crankbaits both early and late Numbers are taken on plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. Catfishing is good with cut baits, and there have even been small stripers working over the cut baits. This is a good sign for the future of the striped bass population. The Harris Creek Ramp is still operational.
Bass Fest: Sept. 9 at Delta/Russo’s Marina (3-fish limit) – 1, Mark Casey/Ed Castro, 15.84 pounds; 2, Doug and Bob Romano, 14.11; 3, Bobby Muraco/Casey Dunn, 13.81. Big Fish 7.93, Greg and Cameron Troughton.
Kokanee Power Team Derby: Sept. 8 at Shaver Lake Adult Division (3-fish limit) – 1, Doug and Tona Philpott, 62.2 ounces; 2, Jack Schultz/Alan Traynor, 56.9; 3, Kirk and Jerilyn Emge/Tom Oliviera, 52.0. Big Fish 32.12, James and Jim Franco. Junior Division (1-fish limit) – 1, Brody Code, 15.80 ounces; 2, Gage Romeiro, 15.75; 3, Hunter Romeiro, 15.95 ounces.
Sept. 15: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, Delta/Contra Costa County – Orange County Bass Club, Success – Kern County Bass Masters, Nacimiento – 101 Bass, Isabella – American Bass Association
Sept. 15-16: Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
Sept. 16: Delta/B and W Resort – Fresno Bass Club, Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, Delta/Contra Costa County – Orange County Bass Club, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Merced Bass Club, Pine Flat – Kings River Bass Club, Kaweah – Central Valley Kayak Fishing
Sept. 21: Nacimiento – 101 Bass Night Tournament
Sept. 21-22: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Sierra Bass Club, New Melones – Sonora Bass Club, Camanche – Tri Valley Bassmasters, Millerton – Bass 101
Sept. 22: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Kayak Bass Fishing, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – RiverRat Bass Club, Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Bass Club, Don Pedro – Christian Bass League, McClure – 17/90 Bass Club, Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers, San Antonio – Bakersfield Bass Club
Sept. 23: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Don Lee Memorial Scholarship, New Hogan – Riverbank Bass Anglers, Success – Porterville Bass Club
Sept. 27-29: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Forrest L. Wood Cup
Sept. 29: Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club, Nacimiento – 101 Bass
q = quarter moon > = peak activity