Emergence trap set in the San Joaquin River to study newborn salmon
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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Delta stripers, bass and sturgeon on a rampage, Alan Fong said. Don Pedro trout hitting, Monte Smith reported. Pine Flat, Eastman and Millerton bass are all on the prowl, Steve Newman said. McSwain plants spur on bite, Steve Marquette reported. San Francisco stripers and rockfish active, Mike Aughney said. Southern Aqueduct stripers feeding, Pete Cormier reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal
Stripers 3 Catfish 2
The northern section of the California Aqueduct has slowed down for striped bass with shore anglers heading to the O’Neill Forebay or main San Luis. The banks are muddy, and the cold and wet weather hasn’t been the most attractive for fishermen. In the southern portion of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The aqueduct remains hot for striped bass with a number of linesides reported on baits such as blood worms, sardines, or jumbo minnows along with Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s or flukes. One angler caught and released 15 stripers, and they were all legal size. The moss has dissipated.”
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Eastman remains good for largemouth bass despite heavy pressure from fishermen over the past several months. The water is expected to muddy up a bit with the rain as there is usually a significant amount of mud during the early rains.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Eastman remains good, but it is more of a challenge with the heavy pressure for several straight months. Slow-rolling a swimbait on the bottom is a good technique, and dark-color patterns of Huddlestons or Mega Bass swimbaits with an upward jig hook are working best. You have to keep contact with the bottom. Most fishermen want to use rainbow trout patterns, but since the bluegill are a primary forage for largemouth bass at Eastman, bluegill patterns have been producing all year in a variety of baits from wakebaits to swimbaits. I have found success with smaller bluegill patterns. The water should start to turn towards the tannic color from the algae blooms that been on the lake for months, and there is generally a lot of mud from the early rains. Green pumpkin, black/blue, and black/red are good colors for plastics, and those wanting to throw Rat-L-Traps or crankbaits are working rocky areas, but you have to bounce along the rocks.” The lake rose slightly to 41 percent.
Central Valley Kayak Fishing will host a canned food drive for the Fresno Rescue Mission at its Dec. 16 tournament at the lake. For every five unopened cans you bring, you will get one raffle ticket. Prize packages include Nelson Custom Rods, Motherlode Kayak Angler, Strike King & Trapper Tackle care package, a one-day MotherLode Guide Service trip and more. Winners will be drawn at the tournament and must be present to receive the prize.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Nearby Hensley remains quiet with only a few anglers on the lake. The size of bass is much smaller than at Eastman in the 1.5- to 2-pound range, and Senkos, crankbaits, or jerkbaits are the best bet. The lake rose slightly to 15 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Rainbow trout trolling has taken off at Don Pedro, and the rainbows have risen close to the surface despite the shad schools holding in deep water. The lake is getting ready to turn over, and the wintertime pattern of trout on the surface and bass in deep water is nearly complete.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was on the lake with three clients on Sunday, and he said, “We had a great day with my clients landing 19 fish, keeping 14 rainbow trout, releasing a few smaller trout and three bass. We had a number of strikes that didn’t stick and also had a fish that broke us off, but we ended the day on a high note with a double hookup. Overall, it was an action-packed day. I think last week I was fishing below the schools at 22 to 35 feet, and I switched over to my custom shad-patterned spoons or Speedy Shiners at 3 to 5 colors on leadcore line. The water temperature is 58 degrees, and there is still good clarity at the lake. I think the lake is close to turning over especially if it keeps raining like this. It rained at the lake until midnight on Saturday evening although the valley was dry in the afternoon after a huge morning rainstorm. We are still finding success in open water, and we did find some shad schools this week, but they are deep. I am also seeing marks deeper, and these might be king salmon. I am looking forward to this coming summer as the plants of king salmon should be paying dividends.”
For bass, the best action remains in deeper water to 35 feet with finesse techniques of jigs or plastics in crawdad patterns. The lake rose slightly to 69 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “We haven’t heard much from Isabella, but there is still a catfish bite going on with chicken livers, minnows, Triple S dip bait in Blood Formula, or nightcrawlers. The crappie seem to have moved out into deeper water.” The lake held at 12 percent. Due to the allotment values dropping for the local impoundments due to the closure of the Moccasin Hatchery from last spring’s floods, Lake Ming is the only local lake scheduled for trout plants, and the lake will receive a total of 1000 pounds of 2 fish per pound this winter. Hart Park, River Walk, Truxtun, and Woollomes lakes do not have annual allotments, but they are often utilized as alternate waters if other allocated waters become unsuitable to plant fish. These plants normally occur early in the winter season. The concessionaires at Buena Vista are planting every other week, and a plant was to have occurred at the start of this week. The action is hit or miss with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. In the upper Kern River, the sections of the Kern 4 through 6 continue to be planted regular basis.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The lake has risen to 8 percent, but the rapid inflow will cloud up the water clarity. The lowered pool of water will keep the bass and crappie in the lake near the isolated rockpiles holding shad schools once the sun comes up. There is a reaction bite in the early mornings or evenings with the best overall action on plastics on the drop-shot, weightless Senkos, or jigs. Finding the shad school is a key in the small pool of water.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Similar to nearby Kaweah, Success also rose to 10 percent with the recent storms, and the water in the river arms is turning off color. The colder water tempratures have slowed down the bass bite, but there are still fish taken on plastics on the drop-shot, Senkos, or jigs.” The lake held at 8 percent. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company 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 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Not much change at McClure with few anglers out during a week of inclement weather. The finesse bite remains the best for a small grade of spotted bass to 3 pounds at depths from 35 to 45 feet. Jigs such as Berserk’s Purple Hornet or Sprayed Grass jigs along with Pro Worm’s 124p and 300 are effective as the bass are feeding on a combination of shad or crawdads. The lake rose to 57 percent.
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreation Company said, “A trout plant of 700 pounds spurred on the shoreline bite at the Brush Pile with trout dough bait in bright green or orange along with nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations. Limits were the rule within days of the plant. The lake is 4 to 5 feet from full as the water levels are stabilizing. Trollers are also getting in on the action in the river arm with Needlefish or silver/blue Kastmasters.” Trout plants are occurring around every other week, and the action is best within the first week of the plants.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman said, “There is a good bite for small spotted bass on 6-inch Zoom Trick Worms on a wacky rig in the main lake along the Madera side and into Winchell’s Cove at depths to 30 feet. Merritt Gilbert of our shop was out this week, and he found good action for numbers with these techniques. Merritt will be back in the shop to assist our customers within a week or so after a period of recuperation. Similar plastics on the drop-shot or dart head are also working as well as 4- to 6-inch Senkos. Successful color patterns on Pro Blue, Pro Gold, green pumpkin/purple, green pumpkin/green, or sculpin patterns. The bass are holding around deeper rockpiles or vertical ledges.” A small grade of shad is omnipresent in the lake. Striped bass continue to be non-existent. The lake rose slightly to 57 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
Bass fishing remains tough for most with the finesse bite continuing to be the best bet at 35 to 45 feet. There is some action for quality spotted and largemouth bass with reaction baits such as umbrella rigs, glide baits, or rip baits. The turnover process is well on its way with the recent storms, and this week’s rain should help bring the trout to the surface and the bass into deeper water. The lake rose slightly to 74 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The best grade of spotted and largemouth bass remain in the river arm at Pine Flat, and the team of Gary Wasson and Joe Baeza of Visalia continue to find great action with jigs. The overall bite is hit or miss, but experienced anglers are finding tremendous success for quality bass. Baeza took team honors this week at 6.37 pounds with Wasson coming in at 5.19 pounds. This team has consistently been scoring big bass over the past three weeks in the river arm.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The better fish are coming from the river, and there is a crankbait or jerkbait bite in the early morning above Trimmer, but after this, you have to put the offering in their face. Plastics on a Neko-rig or jigs are working best, but they want the lure in their face as the fish are not chasing. There should be a good umbrella rig bite after the storm, but this will dissipate after a few days of clear water. The storms disrupt the shad schools, and once they start to form again, the umbrella rigs with shad-patterned swimbaits are good for numbers. A wacky-style presentation with plastics with a nail weight along with a dart head or shakey head is working, but there hasn’t been much of a drop-shot bite over the past few weeks. You have to have contact with the bottom, and the shad are moving up the river arm around Billy and Lefevre Creeks and above. The largemouth bass are still in the upper 20 feet of the surface with the spots holding in deeper water. The lake is not red hot, but once you find fish, the bite is decent.” Walt Lee of the Kerman Bass Club said, “We had 22 fishermen participate in Saturday’s club tournament, and they landed a total of 18 limits out of the 96 bass brought to the scales.”
With the low water levels, boaters are advised to be particularly careful while running at high speeds near the main lake points or edges as there are unmarked hazards just below the surface
On the lower Kings River, Newman reported a good bite for rainbow trout in the 14- to 16-inch range with trout dough bait or salmon eggs on an 18-inch leader with a light split-shot. He said, “The trout are holding behind boulders with running water into slack water, and the section from Winton Park to the weir has been producing limits as it is planted regularly.”
The lake rose slightly to 27 percent.
San Luis Reservoir
and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
San Luis Reservoir remains decent for striped bass fishermen, but the bank bite has slowed as the shorelines are extremely muddy along with the stripers moving into deeper water. With the stripers in deep water, trolling or live bait drifting remain the top techniques.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite has been decent on both lakes, and it is better for numbers at the O’Neill Forebay. Fishing from the banks has been tough, and the recent rain will make it tougher as the fish move into deeper water. Trolling is best right now, but if you have a boat, you can work the shorelines when the stripers are pushing up bait in the mornings and evenings. Using shallow jerkbaits with rattles or big topwater poppers will be effective as the stripers are really keying on the shad schools. Successful fishermen are rotating color patterns between greens, blues, and Tennessee Shad depending on the time of day. 4- to 5-inch swimbait in Tennessee Shad are also working as the linesides are reacting to the swimbaits.”
Madison Borgia of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill confirmed the action in open water with larger swimbaits or drifting live jumbo minnows. She said, “There is a topwater bite in the mornings and evenings before the fish move out into deeper water. The forebay has been slower than the main lake with mostly smaller stripers off of Check 12, the Highway 33 Bridge, or the Highway 152 Bridge with pile worms, blood worms, or jumbo minnows. This is jumbo minnow time for the next few months.”
In the forebay, small undersized striped bass are plentiful for bait fishermen soaking jumbo minnows, anchovies, or pile worms at Check 12, Highway 33 Bridge, or the Highway 152 Bridge. An occasional larger grade is taken, and a limit of legal lineside is possible.
Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said that he scouted the lake after a week break on Sunday and found that the fish have moved out deeper in the clear water. “The water temp is down to 64 degrees and its pretty clear so the fish are spooky in shallow water. After the big storm passed I thought the bite might be real tough but I ended up with 20 school fish working the 40- to 70-foot range with silver-colored, minnow-style lures. The fish are schooled up quite a bit so it can be a feast while you’re on them -or mainly famine the rest of the time. Things are changing fast now.”
The lake held at 58 percent despite increased water releases into the California Aqueduct.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
Few fishermen are heading to Bass Lake, and this week’s inclement weather was a deterrent to fishing. The lake is dropping to the point where launching a boat at the public ramp is problematic, and icy conditions on the ramp only complicate the process as the water level is now at 53 percent. There is still interest in the swimbait action for spotted and largemouth bass once the trout plants start and the water temperatures cool.
Brown trout 2 Trout 2
Snow in the high country slowed down any interest in fishing in the Kaiser Pass region or the difficult to access high country. 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 2 Trout 2
The inclement weather kept boaters off of the lake during the past week, but Shaver does fish well between storms. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “My guess is that trolling from 30 to 37 feet in front of both marinas will still produce kokanee when you can get out as last year experienced fishermen were bagging them right in front of the Sierra Marina through January at these depths. The time between storms can be prosperous at the lake. I would start at the Sierra Marina as the Shaver Marina ramp is out of the water, troll out along Road One, then toward the dam and onto the Point. From there, I would make a swing toward Shaver Marina and back, and you should find some schools of kokanee in these waters.”
Boaters have to be aware of the launch conditions, and a webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp is available at www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. The lake receded to 53 percent.
Shaver Lake rose slightly to 64 percent with Huntington dropping to 53 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
Road conditions to both lakes should be affected by the recent winter storms, and the gate at Dinkey Creek may be closed, eliminating access to both Wishon and Courtright.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat was out on Monday on a crab combination trip south of the harbor off of San Gregorio, and they scored a total of 14 lings for 9 anglers along with limits of crab and plenty of rockfish. The swell backed off of bit and allowed the lings to bite more frequently. Before Sunday, the weather prevented daily trips, however, the California salmon system as well as other parts of the state needs the rain. We made it out in between storms, there was still quite a roll, no worries about not having enough breeze for a good drift to cover lots of ground. Lings slowed down a little however, the boat did get 23 limits of Dungeness crab.”
Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete is crabbing commercially during the current season, and he is selling live crab off of the boat on the weekends.
Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2
Keith Semler of Chris’s Fishing said, “We were finally able to get out on Sunday after being tied up since Wednesday, and the Caroline posted 74 crab and 100 rockfish for 18 anglers while the Check Mate returned with 190 rockfish and 60 crab for 25 anglers. The big swell tangled the pots into one another, and the pots coming off of the bottom resulted in the less-than-stellar crab counts. Earlier in the week before the storms, we had as many as 125 crab on a trip. Also before the storm, warm water at 61 degrees moved in south at Point Sur, and we had a trip with some big halibut and bonita. Our deckhand also got spooled, and he believes that it was a bluefin tuna.”
San Francisco Bay
Striper 3 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2 Crab 3
Mike Aughney of USAfishing.com said, “This past week we have seen a series of storms and tough to rough weather along the Bay Area Coast. On Sunday, the weather finally laid back and party boats saw great crab and rockfish counts. The Emeryville Sport Center had four boats out on Sunday, and the New Huck Finn, Salty Lady, Sea Wolf and Tigerfish took a combined 121 anglers out and scored full limits of crabs (1210) full limits of rockfish and 13 lings to 15 pounds. The crab counts are holding strong and it looks like they will remain so though December. The reason is that many commercial boats have opted to fish the northern sector and we are seeing far lower commercial pressure in the local waters. The winds laid back to just 5 to 10 knots and swells have dropped back to single digits. Emeryville has LOTS of available space weekdays and limited spots open on weekends. If you are looking for "Christmas Crabs" plan on booking ahead for dates just prior to the holiday.”
Inside San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported quite a few striped bass in the bay with some decent ones in the 5- to 12-pound range. He said, “The sturgeon tides haven’t been so good, but there are good outgoing San Pablo Bay tides this coming weekend so ‘Look Out!’ We have ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, mudsuckers, bullheads, and pile worms in the shop with a standing order from the Pacific Northwest for live mud shrimp.”
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters went on a solo trip to China Camp on Sunday afternoon, and he fished for a few hours to observe Captain Don Franklin on the Soleman to hook six striped bass, a cow shark, and a slot-limit sturgeon on live Loch Lomond grass shrimp. Slate said, “I had something decent on for a few seconds, and it felt like a sturgeon. There were a few sturgeon jumping around on this flat calm day, and I have a full charter on Thursday and Sunday of the coming week so more reports are forthcoming.”
San Luis Obispo
The big swell from the winter storms slowed down the ling cod bite, but the Patriot out of Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis was able to find 7 ling cod to 12 pounds along with 23 vermilion, 20 copper, and 126 rockfish as part of rockfish limits for 17 anglers on Monday. The Patriot went on a crab/rockfish combination trip on Sunday with 30 anglers for 69 Dungeness crab, 3 rock crab, 40 vermilion, 10 copper, 67 assorted rockfish, and a solitary ling cod. Out of Morro Bay, the Avenger out of Morro Bay Landing put in limits for 19 anglers on Sunday with 60 vermilion, 125 assorted rockfish, and 5 coppers to go with 2 ling cod to 12 pounds. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Rita G and Fiesta took out a combined 31 fishermen on Monday for 80 vermilion, 175 assorted, 25 copper, 10 canary, and 20 Boccaccio rockfish to 6 pounds without a single ling cod.. All landings are running a variety of bottom fishing trips from half-day to two-day ventures up the coast. Rockfish season ends on Dec. 31 and reopens April 1, 2019.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 2
This past week brought back memories of ‘the Good Old Days,’ for striped bass anglers in the Sacramento-Delta as numerous double-digit striped bass were caught and released on a variety of techniques including topwater lures, swimbaits, spoons, trolling plugs, and bait fishing. By the weekend, the sturgeon appeared to have moved out of the main river into the shallows, and some incredible scores of slot-limit and oversized diamondbacks were reported. Salmon fishing has slowed to a crawl although the season is open until December 16.
The big news has been the epic striped bass bite enjoyed by many in the Sacramento side of the Delta, and first and foremost was the incredible day enjoyed by Captains Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing and Vince Borges of Vince Borges Outdoors on Tuesday. Gamez said, “We were out with Kyle Goldberg who makes Donkey Fishing Custom Donkey Sticks, and we landed 7/8 stripers over 20 to a high of 29 pounds, and one fish broke the aluminum grip of a Boca Grip while it was in the water – this fish was most likely over 30 pounds. We missed a few in the early morning, but it was so nerve wracking to see the huge boils that these fish were while blowing up on the topwater lures. We had four straight hours of blowups before the barometer dropped, then the bite just shut off. I have sturgeon trips over the weekend on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and if the wind allows, I will be staying close to Pittsburg. However, the sturgeon are pretty much everywhere, and we have marked plenty of fish in the Little and Big Cuts.”
Gamez’s clients released two oversized sturgeon on Sunday morning in Montezuma Slough before the tide died, and he came out into the main river for a legal sturgeon.
Not to be outdone, Kris Huff of Stockton and Delta Wood Bombers went over 20 pounds this week as the finale to his striper work over the past few weeks before work called him back for the next several weeks.
Casting wasn’t the only way to catch and release big fish as Hot Sheet Subscriber Greg Cook put Mike Schafer onto a 40-pound striper released while trolling a purple/green P-Line Predator Minnow with a Zoom Trick Worm dipped in Spike-It on a deep-troll near Sherman Island.
Dave Houston of Livermore found good action in Broad Slough for 16 keepers and a shaker, and he said, “I was surprised to see the water clarity was still excellent and it has not been dirtied up from the rain, there was no wind and the water was very glassy. We had to run a further setback then we usually do trolling, and bright-patterns of lures was the most effective.”
J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing took his first striper trip of the year on Friday, and he said, “We found a bunch of fish near Sherman Island, and they were in big schools of a nice quality. We released linesides to 15 pounds on topwater in the morning before switching to swimbaits and finally spoons, and these weren’t little rats. The good water years of the past have contributed to a number of stripers in the 6- to 8-pound range. It is a matter of hunting and pecking, but when you find the schools, the bite is on.”
Stripers are not the only species that is hot in the Delta, and Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures has been putting on clinics with his special roe during his catch-and-release trips. He said, “We took out Joe Betz of the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco along with his 16-year old grandson, and they caught and released a beauty.” Medinas was out on Sunday, and he said, “The sturgeon have been harder to find in the main river, and it is my understanding that they have moved into the shallows. We released a few shakers along with a slot-limit fish on salmon roe, but the fish are definitely on the move. This week’s moderate tides will make it more difficult to anchor in deep water.”
Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg put Matthew Clark of San Jose onto a legal 40-inch sturgeon at the end of the day in Grizzly Bay on Sunday, and he said, “There was a hot bite in the shallows earlier in the day as I started there in the morning before moving over to Buoy 9, but one six-pack was reported to catch a total of 25 sturgeon in Grizzly Bay after I left. I found out about the hot action too late to get on in the great bite. We did salvage one sturgeon at the end of the afternoon.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, reported that a big group of stripers were on their way last week, and he was right on target. He said, “Stripers are showing up everywhere, and there have been a lot of big ones caught. Sherman Island has been the epicenter as they haven’t moved up into the north Delta as of yet. I was in Snodgrass Slough this week, and we were on a hot bite with umbrella rigs for an hour before the stripers moved out.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The water is clear in the Deep Water Channel and drifting mudsuckers has been really effective for stripers. The water around Liberty Island is also clear, and mudsuckers are also working there. The main river is starting to change color, but it will take a few more storms to muddy it up.”
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle said, “Salmon fishing from the shorelines has all but stopped, but there are a number of smaller stripers taken on blood worms, pile worms, and bullheads. Grizzly Bay was the hot bite for sturgeon on Sunday. We are still going through as many bullheads as we can get into the shop, but the bait-stealing Dungeness crab are still in Suisun Bay. The fresh water inflow may push them back to the bay within the next few weeks.”
This past week’s rains along with the coming storms will only enhance the striped bass bite in the San Joaquin River which should remain clearer than the Sacramento side of the Delta.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, cancelled Friday’s trip as he wants the Delta to settle down a bit before heading back out next week. He advised, “These storms will stir the pot, and the water temperature will change with the wind and the rain. The wind will also stir up the water, and you have to target areas where there isn’t much inflow such as on the Mokelumne River in Hog, Beaver, or Sycamore Sloughs along with Whiskey Slough on the San Joaquin. These won’t be dirty yet, but they will eventually muddy up with the inflow. The largemouth bass bite is really good right now as this is the time for the ima Flit ripbait or a smaller worm such as a Bottom Hopper on a Zappu Head. I would use a Berkley Max Scent to keep a scent trail out there, but you have to work both of these baits slow. With the ripbait, you have to just twitch it an inch and let it sit because keeping it in the strike zone is necessary. The bass will be holding around rock and weed – rocks for warm and weeds for ambush cover.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “There have been a lot of striped bass landed with bait fishermen working deep while plug casters are finding action on the surface. There was a reaction bite for largemouth bass during the American Bass Association Tournament, and it took over 18 pounds for first place.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “There are all kinds of fish out there right now as fishing has been red hot. We have weighed in stripers over 30 pounds on live mudsuckers, splittail, or fresh shad, and there is a topwater bite in the mornings or evenings when the shad starts popping on the surface. One boat had four legal sturgeon in Broad Slough on Saturday, and on Friday, a fisherman out by himself hooked a sturgeon near Eddo’s that took him all the way back to the mouth of Three-Mile Slough on the incoming tide. He was targeting stripers with 14-pound test when he was surprised by the big oversized sturgeon.”
Bryce Tedford of Bryce Tedford’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Striper fishing in the Delta has been pretty good. Some rain and wind can create challenges but for the most part, the weather has been manageable. The season will likely wind down over the next month or so but for the time being it’s holding strong. Most fish we have been finding are smaller “schoolies” but 3-5lb fish are mixed in & the occasional larger fish can be found as well! Water temperatures are 50-55 degrees in different spots within the Delta depending on where you fish. For Stripers subsurface, I continue to use 1/0-3/0 “Steve Adachi” style rattle Clouser flies in various color combinations.”
H and R Bait in Stockton reported the Tracy Marina has been the top location for big stripers with a 40-inch lineside landed on fresh shad. Most anglers are heading towards Antioch on the San Joaquin for a larger grade of striped bass.
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, the lake continues to drop slowly, and it is now at 11 percent of capacity. The low water conditions have led to both marked and unmarked hazards just under the water levels. Boaters have to use extreme caution when running. The marina remains open for all services with the exception of gasoline. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. White and spotted bass can be found on reaction baits along with spoons and plastics on various presentations. Crappie continue to be taken on minijigs, but there is a health warning for eating fish from Nacimiento due to excessive levels of mercury. Catfish are found on dip or stink baits. At San Antonio, the lake held at 12 percent, and catfish continue to be the top species on cutbaits, Triple S Blood Formula dip bait, or chicken livers. Bass fishing remains slow with a few fish taken on jigs or plastics on the drop-shot. Launching at the Harris Ramp is still a possibility, but the Lynch Ramp remains closed. At Lopez, finesse techniques of plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig along with jigs at depths from 10 to 20 feet are working best. There is a brief window for reaction baits in the early mornings or evenings. Bluegill and red ear perch have dropped in the water column, and meal worms, waxworms, or red worms are working on a drop-shot rig to 25 feet, but crappie fishing remains slow. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam. At Santa Margarita, catfishing is best with mackerel, anchovies, or chicken livers, and there have been some big cats landed in the past week. Bluegill and red ear perch are found on jumbo red worms or meal worms in deep water. numbers of a small grade of bass are possible with plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig, weightless Senkos, or reaction baits. The occasional larger bass are found on swimbaits. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.
Kerman Bass Club: Dec. 1 at Pine Flat – 1, Cory Kerber, 16.26 pounds (Big Fish 5.82); 2, Derrick Burns, 11.56; 3, Ryan Voorhees, 10.30.
Downrigging/Striper 101 class: Roger George hosts, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 13 at Sportsmans Warehouse on Friant Road in Fresno. Topics include basic downrigging setups, lure selections, sonar tips, question and answers as well as hands-on experience with the equipment. The class is designed to get you everything you need to get started including maps and handouts. Sportsmans Warehouse will give discounts to class members for downrigging items. Cost of the class is $50 and it’s limited to 25 preregistered students. Details and preregistration: 559-905-2954.
International Sportsmen’s Exposition: Jan. 17-20 at Cal Expo, Sacramento, www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento.
Dec. 8-9: Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club
Dec. 8: New Melones – Sonora Bass Anglers, McClure – American Bass Association, Nacimiento – California Bass Nation
Dec. 9: Delta – Bass N’ Tubes, McClure – Fresno Bass Club/Modesto Ambassadors, Pine Flat – Kings VIII Bass Club
Dec. 15: McClure – Stanislaus County Employees/Merced Bass Club
Dec. 16: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, New Melones – Riverbank Bass Anglers, Eastman – Central Valley Kayak Fishing
n = new moon > = peak activity