Bass fishing tips from a high school champ
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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Southern Aqueduct stripers on a tear, Pete Cormier said. Bass Lake trout biting, Merritt Gilbert reported. Don Pedro bass and trout on good pace, Ryan Cook said. New Melones bass and trout getting active, John Liechty reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 4 Catfish 2
The northern section of the aqueduct is perking up with Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun reporting many local fishermen have been stopping at the aqueduct instead of heading further north to San Luis Reservoir or the O’Neill Forebay. Finding the bait is the key to finding success, and ripbaits and jerkbaits are working for schoolie striped bass. The southern section of the California Aqueduct, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported outstanding action for striped bass with large and jumbo minnows along with flukes or tubes. He said, “Everything has been working, and the bite has been outstanding for the past several weeks. There is no moss or debris and the water flows are perfect right now.”
Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The River Rats are hosting a New Year’s Day tournament at the lake, and local fishermen have been keeping information close to the vest. A limit in the 9-pound range is expected with the largemouth bass bite slowing down with the colder water temperatures. Plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, or swimbaits on a slow-roll on the bottom are working best in the main lake over rockpiles. The fish are feeding primarily on crawdads. The lake held at 41 percent despite the recent rainfall.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
There is a bite for quality over quantity with jigs in deep water along with large profile swimbaits such as Huddlestons on a slow roll along the bottom. The fish are holding next to structure so your bait has to stay in contact with the bottom for the best cut of bass. The lake rose slightly to 17 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
The quality of bass is improving at Don Pedro as the fish are starting to move into shallower water. Trout trolling remains solid for those running shad-patterned spoons at a fast speed on leadcore line near the surface, and limits are a clear possibility.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook Fishing said, “The bass are finally moving into shallower water from 10 to 30 feet into the creek channels, and the quality is improving. The lake is getting better for size along with numbers, and jigs in crawdad patterns are working best for us. Steve Cardoza and I were out on Saturday, and we put in a 22-pound limit of solid bass with no large kicker fish. The largest concentration of bass remains in deep water, but these are mostly smaller spotted bass. The deep fish can be taken on plastics on a drop-shot on light line.”
For rainbow trout, Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “I was out with three clients this week, and we ended up with 13 rainbows, releasing some smaller fish with plenty of hits with no stick. These fish are fighting like crazy in the cold water, and we are running either my custom medium-sized shad patterned spoons or Speedy Shiners on a fast-troll at 2.5 to 3 mph on 3.5 to 4 colors of leadcore. The water is very clear, and the trout can see a long way. Since the water temperature is still warm at 55 degrees, fast-trolling remains effective, but once the water temperatures drop into the low 50’s, you will have to switch to grubs or similar presentations on a slow troll.”
The lake held at 70 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Lake Isabella is scheduled to finally begin the reconstruction of the main dam this spring after planning and development for the past several years. Construction at the main dam will include excavation of a new 300-foot-wide emergency spillway, improvements to the existing service spillway, a 16-foot raise of the main dam, enhancements to Highway 155 at the main dam’s right abutment and modifications at several recreation facilities north of the auxiliary dam. The contract contained an option to also perform work on the auxiliary dam. Work on the auxiliary dam would encompass abandonment of the Borel outlet works and enhancements to the auxiliary dam, including a 16-foot raise similar to the main dam. The project is mostly federally funded with annual funding through congressional appropriations.
Catfish remain the top species as interest in fishing has waned with the cold weather and the upcoming construction projects. The lake held at 12 percent.
The trout plant of 1,000 fish at Lake Ming was quickly eradicated as the bite slowed down within a few days of the plant. Another 500-pound plant is scheduled for the coming months. Trout plants in the upper river have helped provide action in the deeper holes with live crickets, salmon eggs, Roostertails, Panther Martins, or nightcrawlers.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The best action continues in deep water with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs on a slow presentation. The lake held at 11 percent. Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Few reports from Success with the bass action remaining relatively slow with the fish holding in deep water around the shad schools. A slow presentation with plastics on the drop-shot or split-shot along with Senkos on a wacky-rig are working best. The lake rose slightly to 12 percent. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company out of Springville is giving fly casting lessons at the Pierpoint Café the second Sunday of the month at 10 a.m. The lessons are free and all equipment is provided.
Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
The spotted bass continue to be scattered at depths from 5 to 80 feet as there is no pattern developing at the lake. Catching fish isn’t a problem as numbers are taken on plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, or small swimbaits but putting a limit together of 2.5-pound spots is difficult. Ryan Cook said, “You can catch a 4-pound spot in 5 feet of water or at 80 feet as it is hard to pattern the lake.” The bass have switched over to targeting crawdads as their primary feed. The lake held at 55 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Recreation Company said, “Trout action from the shorelines is decent with nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations, corn yellow trout dough bait, yellow Power Eggs, salmon eggs, or Roostertails from the new cabins, the Brush Pile, and the Handicapped Docks. A trout plant is anticipated within the next two weeks.” Trolling continues to be best from the Second Fence Line with blue/silver Kastmasters or similar shad-patterned spoons.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Numbers of small spotted bass remain a possibility for most anglers, but in order to put in limit between 8 and 10 pounds, knowledge of the lake is necessary. The water temperature remains warm at 55 degrees, and the bass are in shallower water from 20 to 30 feet with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head along with vertically jigging with spoons.” The bass are holding along ledges with broken rock near dirt as the bass are feeding heavily on crawdads. The bite is very light, and the fish will just slowly swim off with the artificial. Striped bass continue to be non-existent. The lake held at 57 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 1
New Melones is warmer than normal, but the wintertime pattern for bass is finally starting to formulate with the recent cold spell. In addition to bass action, the rainbow trout are starting to move in closer to the shorelines and the surface.
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The winter bass fishing on New Melones has been good for the last couple of weeks. The water temperature is still 55 to 57-degrees which is a bit warmer than years past, but with the arrival of a few cold nights and upcoming storms, it is expected to drop. Many fish are holding around 30 to 40 feet, and they are moving back and forth between shallow and deeper water throughout the day. We have been finding most of our luck on jigs or plastics on a shakey head, Ned rig, or dropshot. Depending on the structure type and location, we are switching between either crawdad or shad patterns. We have been hooking into some large fish on smaller baits and big swimbaits ever since the weather rolled in. Looking for specific conditions in wind current, light penetration and water clarity have been helping us to locate and target these bigger fish.”
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Trout trollers are scoring with solid spoons coated with scent at depths to 30 feet while shore fishermen are advised to concentrate on inlets right after storms with a variety of presentations, including Kastmasters, nightcrawlers, or trout dough bait. The catfish have become more lethargic since the water has turned colder, but they are still biting cut baits such as frozen shad or mackerel, and an 11.2 pounder was landed by Troy Morris on trout dough bait. Crappie fishing has been slow overall, but a few quality slabs to 2.5 pounds are taken on spoons by trout trollers from 30 to 50 feet.”
The lake rose slightly to 74 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “I will be fishing the Bass 101 Open at Pine Flat on Tuesday, and the tournament was changed from Millerton a few weeks ago so I will be fishing blind. I had been making a weekly trip to Millerton to prepare for this tournament, but my son really wants to go so we will see what we can do. At Pine Flat, the water temperature is still warm at 53.8 to 55 degrees, and the action is either decent or slow depending upon who you talk to. The best action has been around Windy Gap for the best cut of fish with a few also working around Big Creek and Trimmer. The main lake has been less productive, and most fishermen are working from 40 to 60 feet with plastics on the drop-shot, ice jigs, or jigs. The jig bite at Pine Flat has been much better than at Millerton. I expect around 20 teams participating in the tournament.” There have been few trout trollers, but with the weather conditions in the high country, more local trollers will be targeting Pine Flat. The lake held at 31 percent. In the lower Kings, weekly trout plants continue to account for a consistent bite with nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, or trout dough bait near flowing water close to boulders or rocks for rainbows to 16 inches.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
Striped bass fishing at San Luis Reservoir continues to draw fishermen from the Central Valley and the South Bay, but the bank bite has slowed with the arrival of colder water temperatures. The bass are hugging structure towards the bottom, and they are feeding heavily on bait fish. Overall the trolling bite has also continued to be slow for most anglers.
Merritt Gilbert at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There has been more interest in the California Aqueduct than the big lake for shore fishermen right now, but there have been a few anglers out early in the mornings from the shorelines. Duo Realis jerkbaits and Lucky Craft Pointers have been our big sellers as there has been less interest in the big Zoom Magnum Flukes. One angler came in for 4x hooks as he hooked a big fish from the shoreline on an 8-inch Spro BBZ1 swimbait, and the back two hooks were straightened out.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service scouted the lake Sunday after the cold front. “The lake is now at 59-60 degrees and the fish are pretty schooled up and moving. I found some active fish during a ‘run and gun’ period and once I did, I released over 25 fish to 24 inches. The fish are taking minnow patterns but you have to hit them on the head-or find fish that are on a shad school and feeding in the area. I’m seeing fish shallow, mid depth and deep right now and the bite seems to be on or off at times for the trollers. The best depths appear to be in the 40 to 60 foot range. Most guys are getting a few fish, but a bunch told me they were struggling to get bit.
George has reset the date for his Downrigging 101 class at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno to Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6-8 p.m. Info: 905-2954
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The bite has basically stayed the same with jumbo minnows or vertically jigging spoons around 40 feet in depth. The 1.75-ounce Duh! Spoon has been very popular in shad patterns. The area to the left of the Romero Visitor Center has been one of the top locations. Trollers are also working around the same depth with Lucky Craft Pointer 128s or P-Line Predator Minnows in shad patterns. We have heard of some topwater action, but I haven’t seen evidence of this actually happening.”
In the forebay, Clements reported fishermen are catching and releasing numerous smaller stripers with ripbaits or jerkbaits along with pile worms or minnows. He said, “We didn’t receive any pile worms this week with the weather back east, but we sell out of the worms within days of coming into the shop.”
The lake rose to 72 percent due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 0
Bass Lake is another option for high country anglers, and although the lake is only at 50 percent of capacity limiting the size of boat able to be launched at the public ramp, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported trollers are getting in on the action for limits of rainbows with Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler or spoons. Bank fishing has also been very good near the Sheriff’s Tower or the dam with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. Bass fishermen have all but abandoned the lake with the low water conditions affecting the ability to launch a bass boat.
Snow in the high country slowed down any interest in fishing in the Kaiser Pass region or the difficult to access high country as the road is closed for the winter. 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
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
Shaver Lake remains an option for Central Valley trout fishermen, and the numbers of anglers working from the banks continues to increase as the fish are moving towards the surface. Bass Lake has also perked up for shore anglers as well as for those who are able to launch a smaller boat.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Cold weather through the holidays decreased the amount of fishing boats and may have had a part in the slowdown of the trout and kokanee bite. Most weekend and holiday boat counts were at about three to four boats a day in the 22-degree temperatures at 7 a.m. Four anglers from Clovis were out for three days in a row between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and they averaged around four mixed kokanee and trout per day after having very good success with multiple limits a few weeks prior. Their best action was in front of the dam, and this is winter folks. One day chicken, the next day, feathers. This is part of the reason why many of us locals do not fish the winter months at the lake. However, bank fishermen have reported good success on trout near the dam, indicating the trout may be feeding close to shore and not out in the normal trolling lanes. Tackle is so important this time of the year, and bright colors of spinners or hoochies seem to work best. There are hundreds of 3-year old kokanee gathered at gravel spawning sites to spawn and die. The Sierra Marina ramp has been a popular spot for spawning kokanee. This brings us to another note on the future of kokanee fishing. Last year no kokanee fingerling were planted, and this means that the 2020 season will not have mature kokanee. The 2019 year should be plentiful in mature kokanee with 50,000 fingerling planted a couple years ago. The next plant of kokanee fingerlings is being hatched at the Friant Hatchery now. They should be introduced to Shaver Lake about March. The prediction for fishing during January, mixed limits can and will be taken. Some days will be better than others. Bright spinners like Koke Busters or Trout Busters and Mountain Hoochies should be the popular lures tipped with crawler and corn on the Trout Busters and corn on the others. The fish will be up in column due to cold water.”
The lake has dropped to 53 percent.
Road conditions to both lakes have been affected by the recent winter storms, and the gate at Dinkey Creek is closed, eliminating access to both Wishon and Courtright.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 3
It’s a wrap out of Half Moon Bay for the rockfish season as the boats canceled for the final day of the season. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat said, “We had to pull more pots on Saturday for 35 limits of crab, but we got them, and those who were keeping all decent rockfish came home with limits while those releasing the smaller rockfish returned with near-limits. We will start running our crab/sand dab combination trips beginning this Thursday after the weather settles down, and on calm days, I want to venture out into deeper water for petrale sole similar to last year as well as whale watching trips.”
The Ankeny Street put in 23 limits of rockfish including 4 cabezon to 9 pounds along with 22 ling cod to 13 pounds on Sunday’s charter in bumpy seas. There was a slow pick for quality bottom dwellers along with a mixed-grade of school fish and decent ling action from the Ritz Hotel to Martin’s Beach.
Striper 2 Crab 3
The rockfish season ended on Monday until April, and the Check Mate out of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey made one last run south to Point Sur during the weather window on Saturday, and the 24 anglers were rewarded with limits of ling cod to 30 pounds along with rockfish limits. The Check Mate stayed local on Sunday for 22 limits of rockfish, 8 ling cod, and 57 Dungeness crab. Chris’s will run sand dab/crab trips after Jan. 1.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2
All good things have to come to an end, and Mother Nature decided to de facto close the rockfish/crab combination season a day or so earlier than the human-imposed December 31st closure as high winds arrived on the scene on Sunday and anticipated for Monday. All of the Bay Area fleet has cancelled for the final day of the season due to the weather. Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady out of Emeryville said, “High winds and seas will keep us in port for the last couple days of the season but what a great way to go out with 100% limits every day for two months straight for us. Saturday brought the last of the good weather, and we scored limits of crab and rockfish once again. We are looking forward to the spring time and the opening of the salmon season, but we will be doing some halibut/striped bass trips in the bay in addition to our gray whale watching trips.”
Mike Aughney of USA Fishing.com said, “The Tigerfish, Huck Finn and Salty Lady reported a combined 92 limits of rockfish adding 890 crabs on Saturday. Overall if was a very successful season with all but a handful of trips producing limits of both rockfish and crabs. Fish Emeryville will be offering sturgeon trips on those days when the big tides are most favorable.”
Inside the bay, Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina was out with young Ethan Milligan and his father Russell out of Fairfax on Sunday, and he said, “The action was slow overall, but we did put Ethan onto a slot-limit 42.5-inch sturgeon on grass shrimp along with a legal bass.”
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Marina is crowing about his crab sales , and he brought in an additional 400 live crustaceans for the New Year’s feasts. He said, “Striped bass fishing in the bay has been very good, in fact, damn good. We have plenty of grass shrimp, live mudsuckers, live smelt, and even pile worms in the shop. I am hoping to finally get some live mud shrimp this week if the weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest allow.”
Captain Craig Hanson of Argo Sport Fishing out of San Francisco has been bringing in limits of striped bass in San Pablo Bay with a combined 11 limits on Saturday and Sunday.
San Luis Obispo
The rockfish season ended on Monday, but the Black Pearl out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay closed out the season with a spectacular two-day trip up the coast towards Big Sur with 85 ling cod to a whopping 28.1 pounds along with 232 vermilion rockfish, 192 assorted, and 36 Boccaccio for 23 anglers who were able to come home with two limits. The Rita G and Fiesta stayed in local waters on Sunday with 47 fishermen for 4 ling cod, 1,150 vermilion, 231 assorted, 42 copper, and 22 canary rockfish with Diana Ward of Clovis taking the jackpot on the Fiesta with a 7.4-pound Boccaccio. Also out of Morro Bay, the Endeavor, Avenger, and Starfire combined for 385 vermilion, 47 copper, 20 Boccaccio, 2 cabezon, 3 ocean whitefish, and 455 assorted rockfish to go with an impressive 71 ling cod to 18 pounds for 104 anglers. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis, the Patriot, Flying Fish and Phenix took out 80 anglers on Sunday for near-limits of rockfish consisting of 44 vermilion, 23 copper, 8 cabezon, 9 treefish, and 437 assorted rockfish to go with 27 ling cod to 22.5 pounds. Nature and whale watching trips along with the occasional sand dab/crab trip will be on the schedule throughout January, February, and March until the rockfish season opens once again in April.
Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The sturgeon bite in the Sacramento-Delta has been ‘up and down’ with the fluctuating water temperatures, but with the tremendous number of diamondbacks in the system, the action during the spring months should be nothing short of spectacular. Striped bass are limited to live bait or cut bait with scent, and the majority of linesides are small although a select group of bait fishermen using live splittail continue to catch and keep huge linesides near the Firing Line and Middle Grounds in Suisun Bay. High winds and cold temperatures were the story of the past week, and it is expected to be very windy again at the start of this week.
Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg said, “We were out on Saturday, and it wasn’t a day to be missing bites.
We only had a few legitimate sturgeon pumps, and both times, the hookset came at the wrong time. One of the most difficult aspects of sturgeon fishing is setting the hook, and the inability to strike at the right time will limit your scores. The fish aren’t on a consistent pattern as the water temperatures have been up and down. The sturgeon are stacked up in a number of locations, but even a variation in a few degrees can affect the bite. Most of the six-pack captains in the fleet struggled on Saturday, but Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing did get one legal sturgeon.”
Gamez was back out again on Sunday, and he was targeting sturgeon in the sloughs. He said, “It was very cold with water temperatures around 47 degrees in Montezuma Slough. However, Kevin Johnson of Alameda put in a slot-limit sturgeon at 58 inches on salmon roe in Montezuma.”
The winds were brutal on Thursday, but this didn’t stop Captain Mike Funtanilla of ‘Bend Ur Rod’ Sport Fishing to find a place to hide from the wind. They ended up with some oversized and slot fish for their efforts.
In the north Delta, Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, found good action for striped bass around Liberty Island with Sneaky Pete’s swimbaits. He was out with his former partner in the “Fun Fishing” TV show, Warren Trombley, and he said, “Warren hooked a big striper in the teens on a Sneaky Pete, but he tried to land it himself with his Boca Grip without asking for help, and the striper straightened out the snap-swivel. For this reason, I don’t advise using snap swivels for stripers because they will straighten them out. We also went bass fishing, and we found great action for largemouth bass in the grass in 15 feet of depth with chatterbaits on a slow presentation. It takes a special touch to hook the bass in the weeds as the bite is light right now with the cold 53-degree water temperatures. The largemouths are all around the weeds as this is where the warmest water is found.”
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle reported numerous small striped bass are taken from the shorelines around Benicia. He said, “There have been a lot of 17-inch undersized linesides, and this is normal for this time of year as the larger fish are either moving or have moved upriver. Grass shrimp has been a popular bait for striped bass.”
The Diamond Classic ‘Catch and Release’ Sturgeon Derby is coming to Martinez Marina on Saturday, Jan. 26 with a pre-derby seminar at La Tapatia restaurant the previous evening with all of the participating captains present.
The San Joaquin-Delta received a heavy blast of northwest wind over the past week, and the wind is anticipated to be back for New Year’s. The gusts have the effect of cooling down the water as well as muddying up the clarity, but the dirtier water will warm up faster in the long run. The largemouth bass are affected by the cold, and they are hugging the weeds for warmth.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, wisely cancelled his two-person guide trip on Thursday due to the winds. He said, “The fishing hasn’t been that good and to take clients out in miserable conditions would be a mistake. I want my clients to have a great day and get their monies worth on a trip, and I couldn’t guarantee that on Thursday. The reality is, if we don’t get a new group of striped bass in the San Joaquin River, the fishing will only get tougher and tougher. The bass are looking for warmth, and the only warm water is in the deeper holes. It will be necessary to spoon them up with 2.5- to 3-ounce P-Line Laser Minnows once we find them in the depths. The wind will stir up the water, and it will get muddy from the wind as the lack of filtering weeds will affect the amount of silt and sediment in the water. The clarity will drop with the sediment, but the particles of sediment will actually warm up the water as the sun warms up the solid particles. They change in the temperature will help once the water warms. Largemouth bass will be holding in the warmest waters which will be found around the bays and the marinas. You will have to slow way down and keep your lure in the strike zone as long as possible as the fish will not be wandering over to find the bait. You have to keep the fish interested to get them to move, and baits such as the ima Flit 120 in American Shad or Ghost Minnow will help along with using Berkley Max Scent products on plastics such as the Bottom Hopper or the General. Slow is the only way to go right now.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Live mudsuckers have been the best bait for striped bass, and we are selling loads of mudsuckers for the San Joaquin River. West Island has been a good location, and the smaller mudsuckers are working best. What happens once the water cools is that the big striped bass do not want a large bait since there metabolism and digestion slows in the cold water so the small baits work best. Every year, I have fishermen come in and want the largest mudsuckers possible, but I try and educate them that the smaller baits are the most effective right now. There have been sturgeon taken in front of the River View Pier in Antioch with grass shrimp or ghost shrimp, and the quality of grass shrimp has been excellent.”
H and R Bait in Stockton reported minimal fishing interest in the south Delta with the high winds and cold weather, and fresh shad is over for the season. Fortunately, most local bait shops have an adequate supply of frozen shad.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, a New Year’s Day tournament will lead off the new year, and the bass are scattered at depths from 5 to 30 feet with the best action remaining in the warmer water of the afternoons. A slow presentation with plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot, or small spoons are working best with up to 30 fish per outing possible. The majority of bass are small spots, but there are some largemouth showing up in the mix. White bass action remains slow. The lake is still at 11 percent of capacity, and 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.
At San Antonio, the lake is still at 12 percent, and most of the few anglers targeting the lake are seeking catfish with dipbaits including Triple S Blood Formula along with cut baits at depths to 30 pounds. Bass fishing remains slow with the occasional fish landed on plastics or jigs on a slow presentation. Launching at the Harris Ramp is still a possibility, but the Lynch Ramp remains closed. Lopez continues to produce the occasional quality largemouth with jigs in crawdad patterns as the bass are digging in the rocks for the crustaceans. Deep-diving crankbaits are another option along with swimbaits, ice jigs, or spoons. Plastics on the drop-shot are also a possibility.. With the colder water temperatures, the panfish bite has slowed. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.
At Santa Margarita, catfishing remains slower, but a few whiskerfish are taken on cut baits. Panfish are shutting down with the colder water temperatures. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.
Ocean, Delta, Kern and Central Coast
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports
Name of event: xxxx Name of event: xxxx
Jan. 5-6: McClure – New Jen Bass Tournaments
Jan. 5: Camanche – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies, Don Pedro – American Bass Association, McClure – Kerman Bass Club, Nacimiento – American Bass Association
Jan. 12: New Melones – Sonora Bass Club, Tulloch – Gold Country Junior Bass Club, Don Pedro – Christian Bass League, McClure – Best Bass Tournaments/Tri Valley Bassmasters, Nacimiento – Kern County Bassmasters, Santa Margarita – Bakersfield Bass Club
Jan. 13: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, Millerton – California Bass Federation, Kaweah – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambassadors
Jan. 17-20: International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo, Sacramento, www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento
Jan. 19: Delta/Russo’s Marina – American Bass Association, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments, McClure – Merced Bass Club, Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club/American Bass Association, Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments
Jan. 20: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, Pine Flat – Fresno Bass Club/Kings River Bass Club
Jan. 24: Downrigging 101 at Fresno Sportsman’s Warehouse, info: 905-2954
Jan. 26: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Pine Flat – California Bass Nation, Nacimiento – Golden Empire Bass Club
Jan. 27: New Melones – Riverbank Bass Anglers
Feb. 2-3: Delta/McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point – Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original “Super Bowl” Sturgeon Derby
Feb. 2: Don Pedro – New Jen Bass Tournaments, McClure – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/RiverRat Bass Club, Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments/Kerman Bass Club, Santa Margarita – American Bass Association
Feb. 3: Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
Week of Jan. 13 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Tulare County: Kern River sections 5 and 6
n = new moon> = peak activity