Fishing for striped bass an adventure amid controversy
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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Eastman bass wake up, Jake Figgs said. Don Pedro largemouth hitting, Mike Gomez reported. Bass Lake trout eating, Dave Hurley said. Lake Success bass active, Pete Cormier said. New Melones steady bass action, John Liechty reported. McClure bass numbers good, Ryan Cook said. San Luis stripers on tap, B.J. Kendricks reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
With the inclement weather, few fishermen have been working the California Aqueduct, but this time of year safety precautions must be taken at all times as the calm waters of the aqueduct are deceptive as still waters can start flowing rapidly without warning, creating strong currents and turbulence. The concrete sides can be slippery with sand, algae, or gravel, making it nearly impossible to climb out without assistance. Float lines and safety ladders are spaced periodically along the sides, and the safety ladders are located at the end of float lines and along the canal 500 feet apart on alternate sides of the Aqueduct and marked by a yellow background painted on the concrete above the ladder. In the southern portion of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The water is flowing just right once again, and the striped bass bite is on large and jumbo minnows along with flukes or tubes. The weather has really been the limiting factor within the past week.”
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Eastman Reservoir has been a solid producer of quality largemouth bass for most of the past year, and after a lull during the past few months, the bass bite is back on for chunky bass.
Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “A 7-pound largemouth was reported this week, and one angler was slow-rolling spinnerbaits or swim jigs as deep as 50 feet this week for several largemouth bass in the 2- to 3-pound range. The bass are moving into the shallows in the afternoons, and overall, the fish are pretty lethargic, and you have to work slow as the reaction bite is limited. Senkos, jigs, or plastics on the drop-shot are also working on a slow presentation.” The lake is stained from the inflow as nearly all of the watershed is low elevation with minimal snowmelt. The lake rose to 49 percent.
Eastman is California’s first trophy bass fishery designated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and anglers may keep only one bass with a minimum length of 22 inches. Upcoming tournaments are the Sierra Bass Club on February 16, the Kerman Bass Club on March 2, and Central Valley Kayak Fishing on March 3.
Eastman rose slightly to 49 percent.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Few reports from Hensley with the rising water conditions staining the clarity of the lake, and few anglers are targeting bass at the lake, opting for better action at nearby Eastman. Senkos on a weightless wacky-style or jigs along the plastics on the drop-shot are the top techniques. The lake rose from 25 to 27 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Don Pedro continues to be a solid option for bass fishermen, but the water may turn off-color near the river and creek channels from the latest series of storms. Trout trolling remains a decent option, and a plant of small rainbows from 6 to 7 inches was released into the reservoir this past week. The New Jen Bass Tournaments cancelled their scheduled tournament on Saturday, and this was a good call for safety with the high winds approaching 40 mph.
‘Lunker’ Larry Hemphill of Yuba City made his first trip to Don Pedro in 35 years, and he said, “We covered a good bit of the lake with memories flooding into my head about this spot and that spot! I lost a fairly big bass just after we started, and the rest of the trip we caught about 16 to 18 bass, all from 1.25 to near 2.25 pounds, and they were mostly largemouth and a few spots. We fished a bunch of different soft plastic baits and Senkos. Most bites were from 10 to 35 feet.”
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits reported plastics on the drop-shot or jigs are producing numbers with the larger fish taken on swimbaits. He said, “Most of the action is taking place from 10 to 60 feet, and the People’s Worm in 311 along with Pro Worms 124p or 300 are working on the drop-shot along the Purple Hornet or brown/purple jig. When the weather is warm, the bass are moving up, but they are dropping when its cold.”
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “We have been getting one or two quality bites in the shallows in the mornings with reaction baits, and after this, we focus on creek channels, island tops, or main lake points with jigs or plastics. The bass are stacked up when you find them, but you have to rotate from spot to spot as after 3 or 4 fish, they stop biting.”
For rainbow trout, Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was on the lake once this past week, and he said, “We ran my spoons for five rainbows with six others on, and it is the time of year when the bite can be tough. The lake is rising, and there is fresh grass in the water. The water clarity was decent at the start of the week, but it should get cloudy with all of the inflow from this series of storms.”
To protect the main body of Don Pedro Lake from floating debris, part of the Tuolumne River and Moccasin Creek channels have been boomed off. The rest of the lake is open.
The lake rose slightly to 75 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Blasting for dam construction is occurring at Lake Isabella, and few anglers have been heading to the lake. The construction is to continue for the next few months. The Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby is scheduled for April 13-15, and registrations are being taken. There is a total prize pool of $26,544 and counting, and all top five positions will pay double with the purchase of a T-shirt or hoodie. Online registration is open, and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com, then proceed to Calendar & Events, and click on Isabella Lake Fishing Derby Link. The lake rose slightly to 14 percent. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The upper Kern River near Kernville has been solid for rainbow trout with nightcrawlers, live crickets, or Power Bait in the deeper holes. One couple has been working the upper river the past few weeks, and they have limited out five times in a row.”
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 is planted by concessionaires on a bimonthly basis. In the Kern River, Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville is giving talks to fishing clubs on the Golden Trout Wilderness Pack Station and what it has to offer for the upcoming season. He will also be presenting seminars on the Kern River at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show from Feb. 22-24.
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported Fresno-area bass fishermen have been heading south to work Brush Hogs, Zoom Trick Worms, anything on a shakey head, or jigs on a football head for quality bass. The lake is at 16 percent. The bass are starting to move up in the afternoons on warmer days, but with no tournaments scheduled during the month, bass fishing pressure should remain light.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Success has one of the better bass bites in the area with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot on a slow presentation.” The lake rose slightly to 19 percent. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in 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. Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Numbers of spotted bass are the story here, and the fish are holding from 20 to 60 feet with the best action from 40 to 60 feet dragging plastics on the bottom on a drop-shot along with jigs. A slow presentation is necessary for success, and the fish are schooled up.” The lake rose to 60 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
Steve Marquette of the Lake McSwain/Lake McClure Recreation Company reported few fishermen have been on the lake since with this series of storms, but a few rainbows have been taken from the shorelines at the Brush Pile, cabins, and the Handicapped Docks with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or combinations of the two in the stained water. Trolling has slowed with the off-color water conditions. The annual Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby is scheduled for April 6-7, and over 450 anglers participated in the event last year.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
The spotted bass action remains very slow with the best fishing taking place in deep water to 60 feet with 4- to 6-inch plastic worms in crawdad pattern on the drop-shot on light line to 6-pound monofilament. The bite is very light, and you have to let your bait sit in one place as long as possible and shake it slowly. Jigs in crawdad patterns are also picking up small spots, but you have to use a heavier jig head to keep contact with the bottom. The lake rose from 60 to 62 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2
Bass action at New Melones is solid, and the action will continue to improve as the water clears and warms up into the spring months.
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits reported an excellent bite with Fatty Worm’s Spin Daddy underspins, saying, “The underspin is an awesome bait, and my brother and I landed at least five bass from 6 to 8.5 pounds with this lure in 2018. There is a spinnerbait bite, and the Purple Hornet, Green Craw, or brown/purple jigs are also working. I have also caught and released rainbow trout to 4.5 pounds while drop-shotting.”
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing was on the lake this week, and his client, John Myers of Atwater, caught and released 7-pound largemouth on the Fatty Worm underspin with a Super Fluke. He said, “We picked up a 17-pound limit, but the fish are scattered at depths from 2- to 85- feet.”
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service said, “We have landed a handful of bass in the 3- to 5-pound range, and the bass are mixed between largemouth and spots with the spots found deeper in the water column. Right now, there is not a ton of reaction fish, but there are some bass to be taken in the warmer periods of the day with glidebaits, underspins, or umbrella rigs. We aren’t ripping or cranking right now although there should be some spinnerbait fish. Numbers are taken on plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head, and they are moving shallower on warm days. The fish are scattered from 5 to 65 feet, and when the sun comes up, you have to move out deeper, but as the day progresses, we start pounding the banks.”
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “The winter trout bite has been a mix of good days and some slow days, and there have been reports of brown trout up the river arm taken on Speedy Shiners or Mack’s black/white Humdingers. Rolling shad near Rose Island has also produced quality rainbows. A trout fisherman reported landing two kokanee to 12 inches after the last series of storms while trolling a Needlefish scented with Pro-Cure’s Kokanee/Trout at 30 feet in depth.”
The lake rose to 78 percent of capacity.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Pine Flat is hosting numerous tournaments during the month of February, and the action has been good for some while most are struggling. The Cen Cal Elite Bass tournaments held an open tournament this past Saturday with a junior tournament on Sunday to be followed by the California Bass Federation on February 9, Kern County Bassmasters on February 16, and the Golden Empire Bass Club on February 23.
37 boats came out on Saturday in the wind and rain to participate in the Cen Call tournament, and there were six limits over 10 pounds weighed in led by Tim and Timmy Wells at 16.46 pounds. The big fish of the tournament was weighed in by the team of Jeffery Bisenthal and Neil Tito at 5.80 pounds from a limit weighing 14.95 pounds.
Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite has been challenging, and it is still a finesse bite with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. A few anglers are starting to use Silver Buddies for suspended spots, and the best action continues to be in the river arm from Trimmer to Sycamore Creek and Big Creek. Largemouth bass are found higher in the water column with the spots holding in deeper water from 30 to 60 feet. The fish still aren’t chasing, and you have to keep the bait in their face for a period of time. It important to let the bait sit and keep it in one spot, shaking it just a bit.”
With the inflow, trout trolling has slowed with the stained water, but the lower Kings River below the dam from the 1st Bridge to Winton Park is producing planted rainbows from 12 to 15 inches with inflated nightcrawlers, black/gold Panther Martin spinners, or various colors of trout dough bait. The best technique is to work the moving water into the slow-moving water in the eddies. The lake rose from 37 to 40 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
The high winds over the past week were the only factor to slow down the topwater bite at San Luis Reservoir, and the lake was closed to boating several days due to wind conditions. Both the main San Luis Reservoir and the O’Neill Forebay as susceptible to sudden changes in wind and weather conditions, and wind warning and lake closure lights are used to alert boaters of the current wind conditions. At the big lake, there are warning and closure lights posted near the Basalt Recreation Area entrance station, Quien Sabe Point, and the Romero Visitor Center. At the forebay, wind warning lights are located near the old Medeiros boat ramp and above the South Beach area. Amber lights mean to use caution while a red light indicates the lake is closed to all boating. All boats must be off of the lake by sunset after the gates open at 6 a.m.
Prior to the storms, the topwater bite was outstanding for experienced anglers working the coves of Lone Oak Bay and Portuguese Cove with large lures in green or shad patterns such as Whopper Ploppers or Super Spooks. Lures with rattles have been particularly effective.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that he took out Bob and son Ryan Hawkins of Fresno last week and they ended up with 17 fish up to around 7 pounds on minnow-colored lures. “The morning bite was slow but picked up around lunch at 50 to 60 feet. We hit some unexpected rain that shut things off early but the fish finally became active,” George said.
B.J. Kendrick of Coyote Bait and Tackle said, “Most boaters have been avoiding the lake this week, but there was a 20-pound striped bass taken in the forebay with a Zoom Magnum Fluke in Green Albino, and this was the first large striper reported in some time from the smaller impoundment.” When the series of storms moves through after the coming week, the topwater bite should be back on.
The lake rose to 86 percent due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 0
The lake continues to rise at 62 percent, and launching at the public launch is much easier with the higher water levels. The dock should be back in the water soon with the rising water. Bass fishing is best with a finesse presentation with plastics on the drop-shot or Senkos on a weightless wacky-rig. The trout bite is best after mid-morning when the water warms up, and trollers are finding success for planted rainbows with blade/’crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger at 4- to 6- colors of leadcore. The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now.
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
Heavy snow fell in the region over the past week, essentially shutting down the trout trollers. A few anglers are braving cold conditions to work the banks with inflated nightcrawlers or trout dough bait. Jack Benigno and Amy Maciel of Visalia bundled up to fish the shoreline near the Sierra Marina on Friday near the Sierra Marina, and they landed two limits of trout including two browns 18 inches plus along with rainbows in the 16- to 18-inch range, releasing all but four rainbows for dinner. The following day, the duo fishing from the shoreline just south of the launch ramp at the Shaver Lake Marina, and they once again caught and released limits of rainbows from 15- to 18 inches using Berkley Gulp! in Sunrise or green.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters, Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service, and Tom Oliviera of Tom Oliviera Fishing will present a seminar at the Turner’s Outdoors in Fresno on Blackstone from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. on February 28. Contact Assistant Manager Bob Scharton at Turner’s for more information.
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 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 until early April.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2
The weather had the upper hand over the past weekend, and Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat had to cancel his sand dab/Dungeness crab trips, but he is planning to head out on Friday, February 8 and Sunday, February 10 depending on the weather.
Mattusch said, “The crab counts are holding up, and we have limited out on every trip so far this season since the November 3rd opener. Our last trip produced 16 limits of Dungeness crab along with 505 sand dabs, and we are limiting loads to 16 anglers due to reducing tangles in the deep water. The crabbing has been unbelievable, and we may never experience a season like this again since the commercial pressure has been so light in the local waters. As a result, the crabbing has been excellent.” The Huli Cat is the only large party boat running the combination trips until the salmon and rockfish seasons open in April.
The Coastside Fishing Club will be holding its annual Swap Meet on March 2nd in the Pillar Point Harbor, Upper Parking lot, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The legendary Grill Crew will be cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs on a donation basis. Space is free to members of Coastside Fishing Club, and non-members will pay a $25 fee to display that will also get them a one-year membership in Coastside Fishing Club with access to the bulletin boards and hot fishing information.
Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the party boats will focus on nature trips along with whale watching in the interim months before the rockfish and salmon seasons are anticipated to open in April. Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady will also be running whale watching trips on Saturdays and Sundays through April.
Further north in Pacifica, the pier has been open intermittently due to the weather, and the crowd size has been limited throughout the season after the November 3rd opener. A few Dungeness crab continue to be taken from those chucking out snares loaded with squid, anchovies, or sardines, but experience is essential in picking up a few legal crab per rod. The pier is open daily from 4:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m., weather depending.
Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand Dabs 3 Surf Perch 3
The weather kept the party boats tied up over the weekend, but on Thursday and Friday, The Caroline out of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey was out for plenty of sand dabs and a combined 91 Dungeness crab and 27 rock crab for 17 anglers.
They are running the combo trips sand dab/crab trips through April, weather and interest permitting.
Surf perch fishing continues to be solid along the Santa Cruz and Monterey County beaches with Berkley Camo Worms or Lucky Craft Flash Minnows. The Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby is March 9th with the weigh in at the Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz at 216 Evergreen Street at 1:00 p.m. The event is a fund-raiser for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project, and it sold out with 300 participants within 2 days.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported herring spawns have been taking place in ‘our backyard’ as long as in front of the Richmond Marina, and anglers have been tossing cast nets and loading out with salmon and halibut bait for the spring/summer. Fraser said, “The herring spawns followed by the sturgeon feeding has been occurring since the beginning of time. The sturgeon have been dining on the herring, but we are prepared for the weekend with a double load of ghost shrimp, plenty of grass shrimp, and even pile worms.”
Bay Tackle in El Cerrito confirmed the big herring spawn in front of the Richmond Ferry Pier, and they have been selling a number of cast nets for the bait fish. He said, “Other than this, everything else has been pretty quiet in the bay with striped bass basically absent from the Bay Bridge up bay to Crockett. Perch fishing has been best in the bay with pile worms while Berkley Camo Worms seem to work better in the ocean.” They have pile worms in the shop along with frozen bait and cured ghost shrimp for the derby over the weekend.
Laine’s Bait and Tackle in Alviso said, “The south bay was the place to be over the weekend for sturgeon with the 2nd and 3rd place sturgeon on Saturday and Sunday coming out of the South Bay. There were also a few more legal sturgeon landed near the marina for those not participating in the sturgeon derby. There have been a number of inquiries about obtaining a key card to be let into the Alviso County Marina Park before park hours at 8:00 a.m., and an application can be completed here.
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported that the river is clearing, particularly towards town, and sturgeon fishing is the top target for anglers from the Highway 29 Bridge south to the mouth of the river in Vallejo. Striper fishing has been better closer to town where there is much clearer water.
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 3 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
What a difference a year makes as the 35th Annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon aka, “Super Bowl” Derby was the exact opposite of the 2018 event as the weather conditions were ‘brutal’ over the past weekend after incredibly warm conditions during the 2018 event. As a result, the participation in the derby was diminished by nearly 50 percent with only 586 participants after reaching a high point of 1041 anglers in 2018. The Super Bowl Derby weekend was last blasted with poor weather conditions in 2017, but there were still 851 participants during this year.
As a result of the increased participation, the top prize money dropped to $6,507.00 in 2018 to $3,662.00 this year. Anglers went out in search of the 51-inch target length starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday through Sunday at 1 p.m., and many participants fished throughout the entire 30 hours of the event.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “The weather was very difficult, and we even saw a 14-foot Boston Whaler out there, and I don’t know how he was able to stay dry and out of the wind. These were conditions for only the most-hardy anglers.’
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was out for the entire 30 hours of the event, and he said, “Man, it was rough out there along with being cold. We came in from Grizzly Bay on Saturday night, and I had to keep the boat on plane since the waves in the shallow water were breaking over the bow, even on the incoming tide. I had to keep my speed up to stay on plane, and I was very concerned about hitting a submerged log. It was tough to even see a bite when the wind was blowing, and Saturday night was one to remember. We ended up with one 39-inch shaker for our efforts.”
Andy Doudna of Oakley, two-time winner of the Rio Vista Striped Bass Derby, took first place on Saturday with sturgeon at 50 13/16th inches while Edward Gutierrez took the first prize on Sunday with a diamondback measuring 49 15/16th inches.
One derby participant was not only disqualified but cited by Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens at the weigh in due to incorrectly completing their Sturgeon Report Card along with only turning in a small piece of the actual tag.
The local bait shops prepared with plenty of live ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, and pile worms, but with the inclement weather limiting participation, there was plenty of live bait left in the tanks after the derby weekend.
The Sacramento-Delta was far less crowded than normal during the 35th Annual Foundation Sportsman’s Club Original Sturgeon, aka ‘Super Bowl’ Sturgeon Derby with nearly a 50 percent reduction in participation due to inclement weather conditions; however, we are moving into prime time for sturgeon and striped bass.
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, has been predicting the stripers will move up north for the past several weeks, and he confirmed their arrival this week, catching and releasing several striped bass to 41.5-inches in shallow water during the small access window. Fong said, “We have been getting into the shallows during a small window when you can access the area, and we released several big stripers over 30 pounds using G-Ratt’s Sneaky Pete’s glidebaits in Bone or Ayu on 30-pound Big Game monofilament. The water is so brown, that you have to use a lighter color. I change out my hooks to 3X as the stripers really smash the bait in the shallows, and Warren Trombley was with me this week, and he didn’t change his hooks, losing a big fish that straightened out his hook. I can’t wait to get back out there.”
The Sneaky Pete is slow sinking bait weighing 2.4 ounces, and the new weighting system adds a realistic rattling sound with a slow sinking ratio of 1 foot in 2-3 seconds. This is a very unique glide bait as it can be retrieved in a variety of methods, including ‘waking.’
Also in the north Delta, Fong reported excellent sturgeon fishing from the banks from Merritt’s Landing north to Knight’s Landing with a variety of baits as the fish are on the move.
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, made the 25-mile run to the Sacramento Deep Water Channel this week, and they found clear water starting at the airport towards the ‘Farmhouse.’ They were slow-trolling live mudsuckers for stripers to 20 inches, and he said, “It’s going to happen soon as we trolled back down, and I had a nice one on before losing the fish. The grass was absent in the Deep Water Channel. We didn’t mark many fish though, but they are coming.”
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was in the sloughs on Thursday, and he put his novice sturgeon clients onto several opportunities to land their first fish with three hookups lost when one slot-limit sturgeon jumped and spit the hook on a slack line, another sturgeon came off when it ran towards the boat after the hook set and the angler stopped reeling, and another just came off for some unknown reason. In addition, there were several ‘classic’ sturgeon pumps that were missed. Mitchell said, “I have my crew for the derby, and the fish really started to bite again today, particularly on the outgoing tide. The key is to get away from the grass and debris, and we were in relatively shallow water at 24 feet today.”
Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing was also out on Thursday morning, and he was also in the sloughs for an oversized sturgeon. Over the weekend, they put in two slot limit sturgeon along with releasing three shakers and an oversized in the shallows on salmon row from 4 to 12 feet.
Pam Hayes of Benicia Bait said, “There has been a lot of grass in the water, and the big tides two weekends ago pulled debris off of the banks. Striper reports keep coming in from the shoreline, and this remains surprising as this is very early. A few bank fishermen are targeting flounder with pile worms or grass shrimp, and there have been some decent-sized ones out there.”
Finding clear water is the key to success in the San Joaquin-Delta, and with heavy winds and rain of the past weekend, finding clear water will be more of a challenge.
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “I had the opportunity to fish the Delta after the first series of heavy storms, and to my surprise, there was quite a bit of clear water to fish along with some slightly stained water. I was able to catch fish in these areas. I did not even try to catch fish in the west Delta where the water conditions are extreme. In these other areas, the water has little or no visibility and will take time to clear. The San Joaquin has a ton of clear water to fish and I was able to catch good numbers of winter fish. The water temps are in the low fifties and should improve as the temperatures start to increase.”
Kris Huff of Stockton and his partner took first place in the recent Delta Tulebusters bass tournament out of Ladd’s Marina in Stockton with a limit at 14.48 pounds with a big fish of 4.40 pounds. He said, “Our limit was good for first place by over 4 pounds along with big fish, and we were only one of two boats able to weigh in a limit.”
The largemouth bass bite will improve in the coming weeks as the water temperatures warm and the water clears. The larger Florida-strain largemouth bass will become more active and look for a big meal.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “With the water off color, scent is essential, and there are a number of products featuring scent like the 10-inch Power Worm as the bass will be looking for a big meal. It is also important to keep your bait in the strike zone as long as possible and make numerous casts to the same area as the fish are reluctant to chase right now.”
Fresh shad won’t be available for a few months, but most bait shops have plenty of frozen shad in the freezers.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, the lake has risen from 35 to 42 percent of capacity within the past week, and there is a possibility of the water level reaching 100 percent this year. Numbers of spotted bass are possible with plastics on the drop-shot, spoons, and underspins. The fuel dock will be closed until spring. The majority of debris has been removed from the launch ramp area, but boaters need to use caution as there is debris throughout the lake. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. At Santa Margarita, the water has become stained, and catfish remain the top species with cut mackerel or anchovies for the whiskerfish around the muddy, sloping banks. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.
At San Antonio, the lake rose to 20 percent, and catfish are the top species with cut baits or Triple S dip baits. Bass fishing is slow with the best action on plastics on the drop-shot or jigs in deep water. Launching at the Harris Ramp is still a possibility, but the Lynch Ramp remains closed. No information on Lopez. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.
Ocean, Delta, Kern and Central Coast
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports
Delta/35th annual Foundation Sportsmen’s Original Sturgeon Derby: Feb. 2 – 1, Andy Doudna, $3,662; 2, Dewayne Alcorn, $1,465; 3, Hal Dewalt, $732. Feb. 3 – 1, Edward Gutierrez, $3,662; 2, Jacob Laine, $1,465; 3, Dewayne Alcorn, $732.
RiverRats Bass Tournaments: Feb. 2 at McClure – 1, Steve and Ty Morris, 14.27 pounds; 2, Jim and Jon Sweeney, 14.14 (Big Fish 5.35); 3, Dan Byker/Jerry Harvery, 10.83.
Manteca Bassin’ Buddies: Feb. 2 at McClure – 1, Hazen Bisnett/Brandon Ritchie, 11.99 (Big Fish 5.42); 2, Jeff Cissel/Clayton Lauchland, 11.60; 3, Jose and Robert Martinez, 10.06.
Kerman Bass Club: Feb. 2 at Pine Flat – 1, Mitch Melikian, 12.47 (Big Fish 3.91): 2, Chris Griffin, 10.81; 3, Darren Graef, 7.34.
Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: Feb. 2 at Pine Flat – 1, Tim and Timmy Wells, 16.46 (2nd Big Fish 5.51); 2, Jeffery Bisenthal/Neil Tito, 14.95 (1st Big Fish 5.80); 3, Rodger Patterson/Rick Waller, 13.36. Junior Feb. 3 at Pine Flat – 1, David and Gage Coy, 9.43; 2, Mike and Mickey Daniels, 3.32 (Big Fish 3.32); 3, Chris and Ethan Coffman, 3.06.
Feb. 9: Delta/Russo’s Marina – American Bass Association, Camanche – Bass N’ Tubes, Camanche – Central Valley Anglers Trout Derby, Tulloch – American Bass Association, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments/Sonora Bass Anglers/Oro Madre Bass Anglers, McClure – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments/Mid Valley Bass Club, Pine Flat – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Santa Margarita – Best Bass Tournaments
Feb. 10: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, McClure – Kings VIII Bass Club/NorCal High School Bass, Pine Flat – California Bass Federation, Success – Porterville Bass Club
Feb. 16: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Christian Bass League, Camanche – Gold County Jr. Bass Club, Don Pedro – Merced Bass Club, McClure – Best Bass Tournaments, Eastman – Sierra Bass Club, Millerton – American Bass Association, Pine Flat – Kern County Bass Masters, Nacimiento – Bakersfield Bass Club
Feb. 17: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, New Melones – California Bass Federation, Don Pedro – Kerman Bass Club/Riverbank Bass Anglers/Modesto Ambassadors, Millerton/ Bass 101
Feb. 23: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation, Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, New Hogan – Outlaw Bass Club, New Melones – Angler’s Press, Don Pedro – Wild West Bass Trails, Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club, Lopez – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
Feb. 24: McClure – Fresno Bass Club/Kings River Bass Club
March 2: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournaments, New Melones – American Bass Association/Manteca Bassin’ Buddies, McClure – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Eastman – Kerman Bass Club, Lopez – American Bass Association
March 3: New Melones – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Don Pedro – California Bass Federation, Eastman – Central Valley Kayak Fishing, Success – Porterville Bass Club
Scheduled weeks of Feb. 3 and Feb. 10 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Woodward Park Lake
Madera County: Bass Lake, Sycamore Island Pond
Tulare County: Mooney Grove Park Pond
q = quarter moon> = peak activity