Drive a boat? You need a boater safety card if you’re between 16 and 21. It’s the law.
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 sturgeon begin their run, Joe Gamez said. San Luis stripers steady, Greg Padilla reported. McSwain trout plant spurs on trout bite, Steve Marquette said. Aqueduct stripers continue hitting, Pete Cormier reported. Shaver trout biting, Dick Nichols said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
The northern section of the aqueduct continues to improve as fishermen from the Central Valley continue to work both the main lake along with the aqueduct either on the way to the big lake are on the way back home. Finding the bait is the key to finding success, and ripbaits and jerkbaits are working for schoolie striped bass. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported continued outstanding action for striped bass in the southern section of the aqueduct with large and jumbo minnows along with flukes or tubes. He said, “We have been selling dozens and dozens of jumbo minnows within the past week, and most of our fishermen are heading to the aqueduct with the lack of trout plants in our local lakes.”
Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The solid bite over the past several months for quality largemouth bass seems to have dried up, and most anglers are either heading to the bass tournaments in the northern portion of the state or heading to Millerton Reservoir. Staying in contact with the bottom with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot are the top techniques, and the bass can still be found on the island tops or slightly off of the islands in the saddles. A few largemouth bass are taken on slow-rolled swimbaits on the bottom, but these are the exception. The recent weather conditions with cold water with less clarity has contributed to a much slower bass bite. The lake rose slightly to 42 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Similar to Eastman, the bass bite has been very slow. With the low lake conditions, the few fishermen heading to the lake are using their trolling motors to get around instead of their big motor due to the low water level. The best opportunity for success remains with jigs or Senkos in either sculpin or crawdad patterns. The lake rose slightly to 18 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Don Pedro was the location for the Christian Bass League event on Jan. 12, and the bite was difficult for the majority of fishermen although there are signs that the bass are moving into shallower water.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing participated with Nick Sanches of Fresno, and he said, “The bite has gotten tough, and there were a number of small fish. We caught most everything in one spot, and the reaction bite has been non-existent but the jig bite remains consistent. The fish are oriented towards larger boulders, and there are some bass moving shallower as there are a lot more fish in the 20 to 40-foot range than a few weeks ago. The quality has been hit or miss as you can pick up five bass over 2 pounds one day and nothing on the following day. Jigs or plastics on a shakey head worked best for us. On a mid-week half-day guide trip, we starting out with jigs in greens/browns from 30 to 60 feet, and we landed several fish in the same location. The key has been to fish very slow after finding bass on the meter and dropping straight down on top of them. During the four-hour session, we caught and released around 30 bass.”
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits also fished the Christian Bass League event, and he and his partner, Dave Bickle, had the distinction of bringing in the smallest five-fish limit at 7.62 pounds for a special bonus cash prize. Gomez confirmed the difficult action, saying, “I threw one of my Berserk jigs throughout the day, and it was tough overall, but the winning teams scored with jigs. There were bass at different depths from 20 to 50 feet, and I was able to get them to go on an umbrella rig while they were suspended in the morning, but they dropped to the bottom after 1.5 hours, and plastics on a Ned-Rig or drop-shot worked best on the bottom. The bass are not spitting out shad so they must be on the bottom chewing on crawdads. The water in the lake is crystal clear, and the winning boats stayed on one spot throughout the day to land two bass over 4 pounds.” Rainbow trout trolling requires that you slow down with smaller lures at speeds from 1.5 to 2.25 mph due to the colder water temperatures. The water is clear despite the recent rains. The parking lot at Blue Oaks is closer to the water than Fleming Meadows, and it is a shorter walk after parking your tow vessel.
The lake rose slightly to 71 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
There hasn’t been much interest in fishing at the lake, but catfish remain the top species with Triple S Dip Bait, frozen shad, nightcrawlers, or chicken livers. The lake held at 12 percent.
Another 500-pound plant is scheduled at Lake Ming sometime this spring, but it will be the only local lake planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Buena Vista was planted by concessionaires this week, and trout fishing has improved with Power Bait in various colors, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters. 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 bite is slow overall with the best action in deep water with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs on a slow presentation. The lake rose to 14 percent. There are several tournaments scheduled for the lake early in 2019.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
The bass action remains slow with the fish congregated around the shad schools in deep water. A dead-stick 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 14 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Lake McClure will host many tournaments from various circuits in the coming months, and the Best Bass Tournament’s Central Valley opener was January 12. Numbers of spotted bass were the norm, but the two winning teams produced limits of exclusively largemouth bass.
Kevin Cheek, BBT tournament director, said, “51 boats participated in the opener, and the team of Brent Zieska and Jeff Eddings took the top spot with a five-fish limit of 14.29 pounds with the big fish of the tournament at 5.19 pounds. This was the only fish over 5 pounds weighed in during the tournament, and it was taken late in the day on an umbrella rig.” The team reported an overall tough bite for numbers with a slow presentation with jigs, spoons, or swimbaits working best. The second-place team of Kevin Nunes and Scott Taylor also weighed in a limit of largemouth bass.”
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing was on a guide trip on Sunday, and he said, “We put together a limit around 13.5 pounds, and they were all spotted bass. One good thing about the Mother Lode lakes is that despite bright sunshine conditions, the spotted bass are generally willing to bite. We put our fish in with 5-inch worms on the drop-shot along with jigs in browns and greens. The jigs worked early in the day in shallower water before we had to drop to the bottom and drag plastics at 40 to 65 feet in depth. The bass are holding around larger boulders right now, and I mostly use browns and greens although during stormy weather, I may work a black/blue jig.” A trout plant from the Calaveras Trout Farm occurred last week, and there may be more plants in the near future.
McClure rose to 56 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
A trout plant of 500 pounds from the Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling took place this week, and Steve Marquette of the Lake McSwain/Lake McClure Recreation Company reported good action from the shoreline with lures such as Kastmasters in blue/silver along with rainbow trout dough bait or nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations from the normal locations of the new cabins, the Brush Pile, and the Handicapped Docks. There have only been a few boats on the lake trolling in the upper section.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite has been tougher over the past week, and a slow presentation is essential. The crawdads have a green pumpkin back with bright orange or red claws, and it is important to match the color pattern with your jigs or plastics. The bass are still holding around broken rock with dirt, and you have to leave your bait and let them eat it. We have been setting up in 30 feet and working from the bank towards the boat, and the fish are holding in 15 to 30 feet of water. The quality of bass is improving, and there have been some nice largemouth bass in the 3-pound range. Tim Wells Jr. of Fresno caught and released a 33-pound striped bass on a spinner bait during last weekend’s tournament, and he was running a spinnerbait in the shallows along the back edges of coves. This is a high risk/high reward technique right now as you can pick up some quality largemouth bass in the 2.5- to 4-pound range, but you will not get many bites. When the bass are holding in the shad schools, they are not paying attention to the lures, but in the smaller grouping of bass, plastics in Purple Ghost or Christmas Weenie on a Neko-rig have been effective.”
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2
Trout fishing remains slow although the occasional rainbow over 4 pounds is taken in the river arm by a troller pulling a shad-patterned spoon. The lack of trout plants over the past few years is a factor, and the next plant will be the release of the Kokanee Power net pens in the spring. The time for big bass is arriving, and experienced bass fishermen are targeting the trophies with either glide baits on windy or overcast days or swimbaits on a slow-roll on the bottom on days with bright blue skies. The action has been slow so far, but it will improve in this high risk/high reward style of fishing. The most consistent pattern remains working jigs or plastics on a shakey head or drop-shot at depths to 40 feet as the shad schools are hunkered down on the bottom. Both crawdad or shad-patterned plastics are working depending upon the type of structure or location. The lake held 75 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Newman said, “The bass action has slowed considerably, but there still are fish in the river arm from Trimmer and Big Creek to Windy Gap. A slow presentation is necessary with plastics on a Neko- or Ned-Rig along with jigs. Many fishermen are switching over to vertical presentations with ice jigs or a Damiki Rig which is basically a dead stick on a dart head with 1/8 to 1/4 ounce. The bass are holding in shad schools, but they are not chasing bait. The lure just has to act like a slow-moving shad. There is some action with deep crankbaits in crawdad patterns in the early morning. The better cut of fish is in the river arm as the main lake is still limited to small spotted bass.” Trout fishing is slow overall for trollers with the best action in the Trimmer area. The lake rose slightly to 34 percent. In the lower Kings, nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, or trout dough bait are picking up a few planters, but the action has slowed down in the past few weeks. The best locations for bait or lure fishermen have been around Winton Park or the first bridge below the dam while fly fishermen are scoring with small midges or stone flies in the caught and release section below the Alta Wier.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
San Luis Reservoir continues to be a solid location for striper fishermen from the Central Valley and from the South Bay Area with a variety of techniques working for the linesides. Most anglers are focusing on the main lake or the California Aqueduct as the O’Neill Forebay has been limited to a small grade of fish.
Travis Porter of Hollister took his oldest son, Andrew Wilson, out on Saturday, and they landed five stripers to 9 pounds, losing a few others in the process. He said, “The stripers were taken in shallow coves with Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s in shad patterns in the top 20 feet in 40 to 60 feet of water. The bite really slowed down after the fog settled on the lake as there was only 30 feet of visibility which made for tough trolling. It was very important to use your GPS in the foggy conditions.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the bite has been up and down. “I took out two anglers last Thursday and the fish were on a moderate bite at the 50-70 foot range, picking up 22 school fish on shad-colored lures. I had to run all over the lake to find some active fish but after lunch one of my guests hooked into a nice, fat fish that went 14 pounds, a new personal best. We released it using the Seaqualizer. The big fish was in excellent shape and several of the stripers were spitting up gobies, silversides and even a 6-inch minnow – showing that the fish are feeding pretty well. Water temps are at about the high 57-degree mark . The storm fronts are changing things every day so hitting the right window seems to be the deal. I’ve had regulars telling me that some guys are letting some of the deeper-caught smaller fish go – and they are just floating away! They don’t have any release devices on board (like the hollow needle Bend Mender) to be able to pierce the air bladder and release the air so it can back down. Anglers need to have some kind of device to care for the fish that can’t go back down. Some deep-caught fish will go right down while others will float, so you need to be prepared.”
George is doing his Downrigging for Stripers 101 class on Jan. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sportsmans Warehouse in Fresno on Friant Road. The class is limited to 20 students and preregistration required, cost is $50. Info: 905-2954.
Steve Newman at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Bank fishermen have been ripping from the shoreline with the Duo Realis Ivory Halo jerkbait in white with flash. The umbrella rig bite has slowed down, and most trollers are working plugs deep.”
Greg Padilla of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Drifting jumbo minnows or trolling Rapalas in the deep water in Portuguese Cove and also around the Trash Racks or Dinosaur Point are working for boaters while bank fishermen are soaking minnows or anchovies around Dinosaur Point. There has been an occasional boil, and topwater lures are being used when the stripers are on the surface.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, Padilla said, “There is a topwater bite in the early mornings along with jerkbaits while bank fishermen are also using pile worms, blood worms, anchovies, jumbo minnows, or chicken livers in the moving water near Check 12.”
The lake rose to 77 percent due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
Bass Lake remains a viable option for anglers willing to work with the ramp conditions in addition to forking out for the Sheriff’s Motor Fee which is dependent on the size of the vessel’s engine. For the first time, the motor fee is enforced year-round as it was only enforced from Memorial Day to Labor Day in past years.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “You have to work to find fish, but you can find quality spots or largemouth bass to 4.5 pounds. There is some weed growth, but there are areas without weeds. Slow fall plastics on a wacky rig or Ned-rig on the bottom are working b best, and the bass are feeding more on crawdads although I did find success with shad-patterned plastics such as Purple Ghost or Casper. Jigs in crawdad patterns with a green pumpkin trailer are effective, and there has been a better cut of bass on green pumpkin/purple jigs or plastics. Bass fishermen are also picking up rainbow trout on spinnerbaits, and I landed a 16-inch rainbow on a big swimbait this past week. Most of the action has been taking place from 25 to 30 feet in depth.”
Boaters can pick up the Sheriff’s Motor Fee permit at any of the local landings, and the lake has risen slightly to 52 percent, making launching a vessel a bit easier. There is no courtesy dock in the water, but boaters can board their small vessel along the beach area. Icy ramp conditions may occur early in the mornings, and boaters have to be aware of the possibility of slick ram conditions.
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 3
Few boats were on the lake over the weekend, and most are heading to the back of the lake for rainbow trout around Stevenson Bay. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The trout bite has picked up for some from the surface to 20 feet in the rear of the lake over the weekend.” Boaters need to check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp is available at www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. The lake rose slightly to 51 percent. Nichols, Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service, and Tom Oliviera of Mag Tackle will present a seminar at the Turner’s Outdoorsman on North Blackstone Avenue in Fresno from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 28.
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 2
The Hulicat will be running flatfish/sanddab/ petrale fishing trips or combos crab/flatfish trips this month, weather permitting.
Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand Dabs 2 Surf Perch 2
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing in Monterey said, “The Check Mate went out on Saturday and Sunday with a combined 25 anglers for plenty of sand dabs, a sole, and 130 crab. They are running the combination trips weather and interest permitting. Last Thursday, they had a great trip on the Check Mate with a 20-pound bonus halibut on sand dab gear along with 6 sole, plenty of sand dabs, and 80 Dungeness crab for 11 anglers. The crab counts are improving, and they had one trip with 9 crab/angler.
Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “Batten down the hatches! An ongoing series of storms is bringing much needed moisture to drought-stricken Northern California. Rain, thunderstorms, big wind waves and some huge groundswells hit our coast this week. These sea conditions generate powerful currents along the coast, scouring sand from some spots and depositing that sand elsewhere. This process bodes well for all the beach break surfers who enjoy remote sandbar waves. For anglers, it’s good news because the resulting troughs, holes and rip currents are perfect feeding grounds for surf perch and striped bass. Surfcasters might have to wait a few days for the water to clear. Right now, most spots resemble a kelp and seagrass stew, not conducive to surfcasting at all.
Santa Cruz Harbor officials have issued a caution for boaters who plan on entering or exiting the harbor. “Boaters are advised to contact the dredge crew on VHF channel 8 for passing instructions.” As of Thursday, the entrance channel was narrow and as shallow as six feet, running east to west between the jaws. The Harbor website provides daily sounding information, detailing the harbor entrance depths. When combined with giant swells, the shallow entrance makes the harbor entrance very unsafe for passage. Look before you leap.
Once things settle down, surfcasting should be very productive, especially on the big broad beaches that ring the Monterey Bay from Aptos down to Marina. Charter boats are concentrating on Crab ‘N Dab combo trips. Prior to the storms, fishing for sanddabs was very good from the 180-220 foot depths. With luck, we will also see the wintertime mackerel schools return to the bay. Always fun to catch, many consider mackerel a delicacy for smoking and canning.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds us to turn in our 2018 steelhead report cards before Jan. 31. The cards can be mailed to DFW, or submitted electronically on their website.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 2 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 3
In the south bay, Laine’s Bait and Tackle in Alviso reported the sturgeon are thick in the area, but so are the grass shrimp, and the sturgeon bite has slowed a bit since there is so much feed in the area. The report stated, “The quality of shrimp has been consistent over the years, but the quality is the best it has been in 15 years. Some of the fishermen are getting frustrated since they are setting up on 4 or 5 fish with only a bite or two and there are sturgeon rolling all over. The number of shaker sturgeon has been tremendous, and most have been large undersized fish in the 38-inch range.” Laines is open on Monday - 6:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Tuesday – CLOSED, Wednesday – CLOSED, Thursday - 6:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Friday - 6:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.,Saturday - 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., and Sunday - 5:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Anglers can also access live grass shrimp 24/7 by obtaining a locker. Striped bass anglers are working the shoreline in Sunnyvale for linesides.
In San Pablo Bay, Bay Tackle in El Cerrito reported sturgeon fishing has been excellent in San Pablo Bay in the Petaluma River and the mouth of Sonoma Creek along with the Napa River near Mare Island and in the Delta in Grizzly Bay and Montezuma Slough. The sturgeon bite is starting to slowly happen in the south bay, and there are striped bass taken from the shorelines at Bay Farm Island in Alameda along with the Rockwall. 5- to 6-in white swimbaits are working best on the outgoing tide for linesides in the 20- to 36-inch range. They are also picking up some perch in the bay on the swimbaits while targeting striped bass, and the commercial perch anglers are coming in with around 200 pounds per day. The beaches have been inaccessible since the waves have been in the 12- to 20- foot range, but the rubberlip perch are coming into the bay.
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “Thursday was the first fishable day for the past week, but the water temperature has been cold. There are a lot of herring in the bay, and we expect some heavy spawns within the next few weeks. We still are getting around 50 calls per day for mud shrimp, but the weather in Oregon and Washington has made shrimping impossible so far this year. We do have live grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, mudsuckers, and bullheads, but pile worms were unavailable this week due to the weather on the East Coast.”
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported the bait-stealing crabs that limited soaking a bait to less than 10 minutes have been pushed out of the river due to the fresh water flow from the creeks and the main river. The river is colored up, and the larger spawner striped bass are moving up river while the schoolies are holding on the southern edge near the mouth of the river. Sturgeon have been the ‘talk of the town’ with most anglers targeting the diamondbacks as the conditions have been perfect on the river since the storms. They have eel and will be carrying live ghost shrimp in the coming weeks.
San Luis Obispo
Surf perch 2
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 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The sturgeon season is moving into full swing with the start of the new year, and the upcoming sturgeon derbies are a clear indicator of the presence of sturgeon fishermen in the Sacramento-Delta.
Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing is the organizer of the 13thannul Diamond Classic Catch & Release Sturgeon Derby on January 26 out of the Martinez Marina. The derby entry fee is $25.00 for adults with 100% payback in cash prizes from 1st through 7th place. Information is available at www:diamondclassic.org with the official registration location of Martinez Bait. A pre-derby seminar will take place at La Tapatia Restaurant on Main Street in Martinez from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, January 25. Talmadge is actively recruiting sponsors, and interested sponsors can contact him at 510-851-2500 or through his website at https://www.flashfishing.net/contact-us/.
The following weekend, the 35th Annual Foundation Sportsman’s Club Original, aka ‘Super Bowl’ Sturgeon Derby will be held on Saturday, February 2 starting at 7:00 a.m. to Sunday, February 3 at 1:00 p.m. The entry fee is $30.00 with a deadline of 7:00 a.m. on February 2. The target-length will be the same for both days, and it will be announced on Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. All persons in the boat must be entered in the derby as bank fishing is not allow, and no one entered in the derby is to fish on Friday, February 1 until Saturday at 7:00 a.m. All fish must be alive and must be measured at the Sportsman’s Club at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point.
In preparation for the upcoming sturgeon derbies, anglers are advised to make bait reservations at their local bait shops to ensure that bait is available for the event.
Sturgeon are on the move in the Sacramento-Delta as the water has turned off-color with debris moving through the upper Delta while striped bass is slow overall, but better days are ahead for the linesides.
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The water is muddy with lots of debris moving through, and sturgeon are heading upriver to spawn. They are found throughout the system, but we are seeing a decent number of diamondbacks in the north Delta sloughs. Eel/nightcrawler or eel/pile worm combinations are working in addition to grass or ghost shrimp. Striped bass fishing is best with cut baits coated with scent along with pile worms or blood worms as the muddy water is limiting the action on live mudsuckers or minnows. Sardines with scent are a good option.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “The striped bass should show up in the north Delta any day now, but it has been slow overall. The water clarity is very fishable right now around Liberty Island, and the crappie bite remains very good with the Fin-S-Fish at 15 to 20 feet.”
There has been less interest in sturgeon fishing over the past week due to the weather conditions, but the sturgeon are there. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing said, “Right now it is a matter of finding active fish since the bite has been light with the cold water. The fish are here, but you have to be vigilant on your rod at all times since you never know when they are going to hit during this period.”
Captain Joe Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing has been finding decent action despite the cold water, and he said, “Salmon roe has been our top bait as we haven’t been able to get them to go on either eel or shrimp baits. The tides have been small, and I have been focusing around 25 to 35 feet deep. We picked up two slot limit sturgeon at 48 and 53 inches for Aaron Austin of Modesto and John Garner of Rodeo this week, and we picked up a slot fish on Saturday morning out of the four bites that were received. The best tides have been in the evenings, and I bet they are biting then.”
The striped bass continue to be difficult to locate in the San Joaquin-Delta, particularly in the south and eastern portions of the Delta as the bait and birds remain absent. This week’s storms should warm up the water to some degree and also bring down some new sources of food from upstream. The action for striped bass remains slow while largemouth bass fishing requires a finesse presentation.
One major area of concern in the Delta was the results of the fall fish survey conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This survey occurs each fall, and the results were dismal with not a single Delta smelt found during the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey, the lowest in history. Another survey was able to locate 13 Delta smelt during December, but the main survey produced none. In addition to the historic low numbers of Delta smelt, the juvenile striped bass survey produced an abundance index of 42, also the lowest in history starting in 1967. There were also no Sacramento splittail found during the annual survey,
The low numbers in the fall survey may account for the slow striped bass action in the San Joaquin-Delta, but Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The warmer water conditions from the recent storms should get a flurry of linesides moving in as it is ‘hit or miss’ right now. The majority of striped bass are still holding on the western edge of the Delta, but I expect them to move further inwards as the water warms. For largemouth bass, the fishing is still decent, but the key is to find current as a little current goes a long way. You have to slow way down and keep your bait in the strike zone as long as possible with baits with scent such as the Bottom Hopper with Max Scent on a Zappu head. The ripbait bite remains good, and I am scoring with the ima Flit 120 in American Shad or Olive Herring on a slow presentation near weeds with current.”
Due to a conflict with the International Sportsmen’s Exposition and the coming storms, the American Bass Association tournament at Russo’s Marina on January 19th has been cancelled.
Further inland, H and R Bait in Stockton reported minimal fishing interest with the cold and rainy weather. Fresh shad won’t be available for a few months, but most bait shops have plenty of frozen shad in the freezers.
A crime prevention advisory has been issued by the Contra County Office of the Sheriff due to a spike in boat theft with more than 12 occurring in the county over the past few months. The thieves are targeting outboard engines and towers on the boats, and in many occasions, a stolen boat is stripped and abandoned in the water.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 3
At Nacimiento, the Kern County Bassmasters held a tournament on Saturday, and the team of Jim Graddy and Doug Hamilton came in with a limit averaging over 2 pounds at 10.81 with a big fish at 4.41. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported solid action for spotted bass with the best fishing in the afternoons with plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot, small spoons, or ice jigs. The majority of bass are small spots, but there are some largemouth showing up in the mix. White bass action remains slow. The lake rose to 17 percent of capacity, but low water conditions have led to both marked and unmarked hazards just under the water levels. Boaters have to use extreme caution when running. A webcam of the lake is available at http://www.lakenacimientolive.com/. At Santa Margarita, the Bakersfield Bass Club held a tournament on Saturday, and the team of Tracy Bright/Jeff Harrington took first with a five-fish limit at 13.72 pounds with a 7.08 big fish. There are other weights over 13 pounds, and the best action for the larger fish is with reaction baits shallow while numbers are found in deeper water with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. A webcam of the lake is available at http://805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california/.
At San Antonio, the lake rose slightly to 13 percent, and only a few fishermen are targeting the lake with most seeking catfish with dipbaits including Triple S Blood Formula along with cut baits. 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 http://805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam/.
Ocean, Delta, Kern and Central Coast
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports
Christian Bass League: Jan. 12 at Don Pedro – 1, Jim and Chad Oliver, 14.74 pounds (big fish 4.58); 2, Kirk Sakamoto and Keith Friesen, 13.52; 3, Ryan Cook and Nick Sanchez, 12.68.
Manteca Bassin’ Buddies: Jan. 12 at Lake Camanche – 1, Chapin Fowler/David Oien, 12.91; 2, Matt Lauchland/Steve Kafka, 11.94; 3, Robert and Chris Lee, 11.62.
Best Bass Tournaments-Mother Lode: Jan. 12 at Lake McClure – 1, Brent Zieska/Jeff Eddings, 14.29 (Big Fish 5.19); 2, Kevin Nunes/Scott Taylor, 13.23; 3, Kirk Marshall/Will Wyman, 11.75.
Kern County Bassmasters: Jan. 12 at Nacimiento – 1, Jim Graddy/Doug Hamilton, 10.81 (Big Fish 4.41); 2, Billy and Wyatt Moore, 10.11; 3, Brian and Ray Kennemer, 7.99.
Bakersfield Bass Club: Jan. 12 at Santa Margarita – 1, Tracy Bright/Jeff Harrington, 13.72 (Big Fish 7:08); 2, Mark Selbach/Jim Spillers, 13.08; 3, Adam and Tom Tully, 13.02.
Hook, Line and Sinker: Jan. 13 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, John Martin/Bob Squaglia, 21.29 (Big Fish 7.00); 2, Joe Langhans/Patrick Batacan, 18.53; 3, Michael Romnar/Gilbert Moody, 12.85.
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 for Stripers at Fresno Sportsman’s Warehouse, 6-8 p.m., limited to 20 students, cost $50, 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
Scheduled for week of Jan. 20 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam
Tulare County: Mooney Grove Park Pond
f = full moon > = peak activity