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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Aqueduct stripers on the uptake, Pete Cormier reported. Don Pedro bass hitting, Ryan Cook said. New Melones bass active, John Liechty reported. Millerton and Pine Flat bass bites steady, Steve Newman said. San Luis striper action solid, Mickey Clements reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported a good bite for striped bass in the California Aqueduct near Kettleman City and Highway 152 for anglers tossing ripbaits, jerkbaits, or Rat-L-Traps in 3/4- or 1-ounce size near the check gates when the pumps are running. The technique with the Rat-L-Trap is to yo-yo the lure up from the bottom in the moving water. The weather has been the limiting factor for anglers. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported fair action for striped bass as the water flows have slowed down.
Safety precautions at this time of year 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.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The largemouth bass has been ‘hit or miss’ with the inclement weather and cold water moving into the lake. The water is rising, and there are new food sources coming into the river arm and from the shorelines, but the colder water temperatures affect the metabolism of the largemouth bass. Prior to the colder weather, jigs or Senkos on a wacky-rig were effective in deep water over island tops and the saddles in between islands. Dragging jigs or big plastics are another possibility, but it is challenging to fire a school up to bite. Spinnerbaits with a Colorado blade or chatterbaits should be effective along the shorelines near the submerged trees from 10 feet to the banks. The river arm is stained with the recent inflow as the lake has risen from 49 to 66 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.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
This lake remains very slow for bass as most anglers are heading for nearby Eastman. The numbers of larger bass are absent, but there are a few schools of fish in the 3- to 4-pound class. The rising water levels will help with the bass bite in the coming months, but there hasn’t been much happening in the past few months. The lake rose from 27 to 39 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Tournament action continues at the low elevation lakes in the Mother Lode, and currently, Don Pedro or McClure are hosting tournaments on a regular basis.
The Best Bass Tournament Mother Lode Division arrived at the lake on Saturday with 55 teams, and first place was taken with a whopping 20.48 pounds by the team of Scott Taylor and Jeff Eddings. Their big fish was 4.86 pounds with an average bass of just over 4 pounds. The big fish of the tournament was landed by the second-place team of Jason and Joshua Sanchez at 7.63 pounds as part of a 20.04-pound five-fish limit.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Jigs have been taking most of the fish along with plastics on the drop-shot or Ned-rig in deeper water. The fish are in the creek channels and along main lake points as there are plenty of bass in the main lake. The best quality has been found from 10 to 40 feet with jigs in natural crawdad patterns.”
Don Pedro dropped slightly to 77 percent.
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.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 3 Crappie 2 Catfish2 Bluegill 2
With the dam reconstruction taking place, there hasn’t been much fishing going on at Lake Isabella, but the lake is rising steadily, coming up to 16 percent of capacity. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported the annual trout derby is a go, and the rainbows have been getting fat in the net pens since November, and they will be released prior to the derby. 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. Cormier added, “The upper Kern River near Kernville continues to be good for planted rainbow trout with nightcrawlers, live crickets, or Power Bait in the deeper holes. Whiskey Flat Days is this coming weekend, and there is always a big plant in the river near Kernville before the event.” The local lakes have been quiet with the exception of catfish or the occasional bass. 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 Feb. 22-24.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The Central Valley Kayak Fishing tournament on Sunday ended up with only 7 teams after expecting 20 teams. The weather was the determining factor, and only three of the teams weighed in fish. The bass action was less than stellar due to the muddy and cold water conditions. The lake is releasing water, and it has actually dropped to 13 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Cold and muddy water were the limiting factors during Sunday’s Porterville Bass Club tournament with two of the top three teams only weighing in a single fish while the first-place team weighed in a total of 2 legal bass. The lake rose from 19 to 24 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.
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “I participated in the four-boat Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournament on Saturday with my cousin, Tim Cook, and most participants avoided the tournament with the weather predictions. We were looking for a big bite, and we landed four largemouth bass in our limit prior to 8 a.m. in the shallows with jigs. After the jig bite died off, we picked up our last limit fish with a spotted bass on a tube at 25 feet along a bluff wall in the main lake. The reaction bite was non-existent, and there were those who found numbers with plastics on the drop-shot in the creek channels at depths from 60 to 70 feet. The bait is finally moving up off of the bottom, and we observed some shad schools for the first time in a while this past week.”
The lake rose from 60 to 66 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
A trout plant was scheduled for this week from the Calaveras Trout Farm, but it was postponed until this week due to the weather. Steve Marquette of the Lake McSwain/Lake McClure Recreation Company reported trollers have been scoring with Speedy Shiners up the river arm while lure casters are finding success with Roostertails or trout dough bait in green or yellow 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. 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 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, ”The spotted bass bite is steady with the possibility of spotted bass in the 1.5- to 2-pound range possible with jigs along with plastics on the drop-shot, Ned-rig, or dart head over rocky structure. The bass want the lure in front of their face, and it is important to shake the bait without moving it. Both shad and crawdad patterns are working with watermelon seed, watermelon/black flake, or green pumpkin being effective. The bass are moving up and down with the rising water, and you can find bass in the shallows from 10 to 12 feet along with over main lake points from 15 feet and below.”
The lake rose from 62 to 67 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
New Melones remains consistent for bass anglers despite rising water levels and changing water temperatures.
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “Fishing is great right now, and really, there has only been a month or so in the past year that the action was remotely tough. Jigs have been the best option, and I am either running a ½ or ¾ ounce jig head depending on the depth. Natural colors such as brown/green pumpkin, green pumpkin, dark or light brown, or brown/purple are all working, and it is a matter of figuring out where the fish are. We have caught them as shallow as 5 feet and as deep as 75 feet, and I do pride myself on catching them at all depths. I prefer to work the shallows from 15 to 35 feet with big glidebaits or swimbaits, but this bite is just not happening as of yet. Prior to this last cold spell, the shad were just starting to come off of the bottom, and I found the first real school of shad with space above and below the school. However, the water temperature dropped from 57 in the backs of the coves last week to 51/52 degrees this week.”
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “I have been taking most of my guide trips at New Melones since we have found limits to at least 18 pounds on five straight trips. Jigs or underspins at depths from 10 to 40 feet have been working best, and the fish are holding on main lake humps. The water clarity is very good with visibility from 4 to 15 feet in varying areas, and the bite has just been phenomenal as we have picked up three bass over 7 pounds this week. I have been throwing glidebaits in the shallows in addition to the jigs.”
Lake Tulloch, the small reservoir below New Melones on the Stanislaus River watershed, hasn’t experienced heavy fishing action for either trout or bass over the past several months, but anglers descended on the lake this week to prepare for Saturday’s American Bass Association tournament.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis was on the lake during the week, and he said, “The fish were definitely up and eating baits, and we found bass from 20 feet to the banks as well as from 40 to 60 feet with plastics on the shakey head. The best fishing was along main lake points, and it was important to just shake the bait but not move it in the cold 48-degree water. The visibility was around 8 feet.”
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing participated in the tournament on Saturday, and he said, “The bite was awesome, and we came in 6th with a 17.5-pound limit. Everything we did was on big swimbaits or glidebaits, and I hooked an estimated 9- to 10-pound largemouth right off of the bat on a River2Sea Swaver 200 in Rainbow Trout. This was insult to injury as we had the fish right at the net with only one of the trebles holding on and just when my partner went to net it, the bass threw the hook and the lure stuck him in the neck. We had to work the lure out and pinch down the barb to get the treble out. After this mishap, we recovered to find a solid bite in the shallows as well as with plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head in deeper water. The weather was amazingly good, and I actually was able to be out in a T-shirt for a bit.”
Alex Niapas won the tournament with a limit in excess of 32 pounds, the fifth consecutive tournament taken by Niapas in waters ranging from McClure to Shasta and at Tulloch. Liechty said, “Niapas may be the best swimbait angler around currently.”
Tulloch is at 84 percent with Melones rising from 78 to 80 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Pine Flat is facing pressure from bass tournaments nearly every weekend, and the past Saturday featured an event from New Jen Bass Tournaments to be followed by two club tournaments in the coming weeks: Kern County Bassmasters on February 16, and the Golden Empire Bass Club on February 23.
26 hardy teams participated in difficult weather conditions during Saturday’s New Jen event, and the team of Timmy Wells and Jeff D’Alessandro took first with a whopping 18.73 pounds. There were six teams with over 10-pound limits with two more just under 10 pounds. This was the second week in a row that Wells had placed first on a tournament at Pine Flat in rainy conditions.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There has been a lot of pressure on the lake, but there is still a good bass bite there. The largemouth bass are in the shallows, and reaction baits like 4-inch Kei Tech swimbaits or small paddletail swimbaits are working while plastics on the Ned Rig or 4-inch Senkos on a wacky-rig are also producing. The challenge has been to find the fish as the larger bass are grouping up, but once you find them, you can be rewarded with several good fish. Limits in the 12- to 14-pound range are the norm for placing in tournaments. The bite has been better towards the main lake along points, and in the backs of coves and creeks. There is a crankbait bite at 15 to 20 feet in the river arm, but there is a lot of water coming into the lake as it is rising 2 feet per day. The bass are maintaining their same depth lever even though the water is rising as they are transitioning from deep to shallow. As more trees and brush are submerged, the bass will start holding around the trees. The fish are not chasing, and you have to keep the bait in front of their face as long as possible.”
Not much water is being released from the dam into the lower Kings, but there is still a solid trout bite for planters with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, or trout dough bait from the ripples into the slower water from 6 to 10 feet deep. Trout plants continue to put rainbows into the river, and the inclement weather has been the only limiting factor.”
The lake rose from 38 to 44 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
The weather has been the only limiting factor on San Luis Reservoir, but the striped bass bite remains solid for both shore anglers and boaters alike. The lake continues to rise, and it came up from 86 to 89 percent with increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Our striper guys have been grinning from ‘ear to ear’ this past week as there is a good topwater bite in the early mornings and evenings with big knocker lures such as Pencil Poppers or Spooks, and we are selling more and more of the big River2Sea Whopper Ploppers. Jerkbaits have also been working, and the Ivory Halo color has been good with one angler reportedly landing 15 stripers with 4 keepers to 12 pounds from the shoreline. Flukes are another possibility. The areas around the Romero Visitor Center, Trash Racks, and Portuguese Cove have been the best locations for topwater in the mornings and evenings.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that he took out Gary Lindemann of Coarsegold and his buddy Alan Davis of Fresno last Thursday and they hit a decent bite on shad-colored baits like the Lucky Craft series for 19 released fish. “Gary had predicted before the trip that he would get a new PB – and he did – with a fat 30-incher that we released quickly after a great fight. The 40-foot range is where a lot of fish were holding, but you have to find the right area first. The water temps are from 55 to 57 during the day right now,” George said. After a full Downrigging 101 class at Sportsmans Warehouse in January, George will announce the next class date for sometime in March.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Jumbo minnows are working best in the main lake around the Basalt Recreation Area and the dam, but trollers are also finding success with Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in either American shad or Pearl Ayu. In the O’Neill Forebay, smaller stripers are the rule with most fishermen casting pile worms or jumbo minnows from the old Medieros Day Use launch ramp or along the rockwall.”
The road into Dinosaur Point experienced a rockslide over the past weekend, but the rocks should be cleared by this coming weekend.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
The lake continues to rise, coming up from 62 to 69 percent this week. Icy conditions on the launch ramp along with snowfall at the lake level has limited the number of boats on the lake to nearly nil. The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now, and this is another limiting factor during the winter. A webcam of the lake is available at basslakeca.com/index.php.
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.
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
Heavy snowfall in the Central Sierra has temporarily put a damper on fishing at the high-country lakes, but the overall affect with result in high water levels during the summer months. Shaver Lake has been the only lake in play over the past several weeks, but the snowfall shut down the ability to launch a boat this weekend and perhaps throughout the current week.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters in Shaver Lake said, “It has been snowing for a week with the exception of Monday and Tuesday, and there was 8 inches of snow on Saturday night. Trust me, no one has been on the lake in a boat; however, one angler from shore burrowed downhill in 2 feet of snow to the shoreline on Saturday. Those willing to plow through the snow to make it to the shoreline have been rewarded with quality rainbows to 18 inches swimming along the shoreline while seeking food. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is planning to release rainbow trout 4 pounds and larger as soon as it is clear to back their plant truck down the ramp as around 2000 pounds of trophy-sized trout will be released by the department this year in addition to another 2000 trophy trout to be planted by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project in April and June. We will be presenting more information on Shaver Lake trout plantings during our seminar at the new Turner’s Outdoorsman on North Blackstone Avenue in Fresno on Feb. 28 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service and Tom Oliviera of Tom Oliviera Fishing will join me for this seminar, and we will discuss successful techniques for both trout and kokanee at Shaver Lake. The seminar will also feature a big raffle afterwards.”
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. Shaver rose slightly to 54 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.
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2
Second Captain Michael Cabanas of the Huli Cat out of Half Moon Bay said, “We went on a crab only trip off of Pillar Point for limits of Dungeness crab on Saturday in breezy ocean conditions with some choppy swell. We had some solid pots with 18 and 23 legal crab. We went back out again on Monday for limits of crab for 12 passengers with as many as 28 legal crab in a single pot. The ocean conditions were ideal with a slight breeze on top of a small swell.”
The Coastside Fishing Club will be holding its annual Swap Meet on March 2nd in the Pillar Point Harbor, Upper Parking lot, from 8 a.m. to 3 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.
Striper 2 Crab 3 Sand Dabs 3 Surf Perch 3
The Caroline out of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey was out the past two days for plenty of sand dabs with the Caroline posting 65 Dungeness and 8 rock crab for 19 anglers on Sunday while the Check Mate had 40 crab for 9 anglers on Saturday. One good sign was a salmon was hooked on the Sabiki’s and released on Sunday.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle said, “Surf perch fishing continues to be solid along the Santa Cruz and Monterey County beaches with Berkley Gulp Worms or Lucky Craft Flash Minnows in Sardine, American Shad, or Anchovy”. 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.
Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surf Casting Guide Service said, “Rockfish season is scheduled to open April 1, 2019 and continue till December 31. Concern over ling cod stocks resulted in a more restrictive one-fish daily limit for this year and a minimum size of 22 inches for the lings. Rockfish can be pursued out to 300 feet of water in 2019. The bag limit remains at 10 fish per angler per day. Sub-limits within that daily 10-fish bag include only three black rockfish per person, three cabezone measuring at least 15 inches, and two canary rockfish, which is up from last year. Greenling minimum size remains at 12 inches.
We have seen an increase of California sheephead caught in Monterey Bay the past few years. Sheephead regulations are the same as rockfish regs in terms of season start and duration. Anglers may keep five sheephead per day with a minimum size of 12 inches. The sheephead bag limit is separate from the rockfish bag limit. In other words, an angler can retain 10 rockfish and five sheephead legally.”
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2
Striped bass action is picking up a bit in San Pablo Bay, and both the Soleman and Argo out of San Francisco made the trek east for striped bass, and Captain Don Franklin of the Soleman said, “The fish are biting again with 5 bass to 8 pounds, 4 flounder, and a 41-inch slot limit sturgeon for 4 anglers on Sunday after picking up a pair of bass and 7 flounder on Saturday. The weather has been tough, but the fish are there.”
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported only one boat launched out of the marina with the weather conditions over the weekend. The northwest wind on Sunday was fairly cold, creating brutal conditions. Better times are on the horizon.
Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker went into San Pablo Bay on Sunday for two shaker sturgeon and six striped bass, saying, “The fresh water still hasn’t pushed out the bait-stealing crab, and there is a break between Suisun Bay and San Pablo Bay where the crab just show up. There are no crabs in Suisun, but they will eat you alive in San Pablo in certain locations and tides.” The Happy Hooker will be out this week on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday with open loads.
Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters said, “The weather has turned bad once again, but in the long run, the water will pay dividends for sturgeon in San Pablo Bay. The tides are very small right now, but there is a good series of tides starting at the end of the week. I have been able to stock up with a supply of mud shrimp.”
John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing went into San Pablo Bay on Saturday, and they put in two slot-limit sturgeon as well as releasing two shakers splitting their time between San Pablo and inside of the Carquinez Straits.
Laine’s Bait and Tackle in Alviso reported most experienced local fishermen are coming in with a sturgeon or two, but it was noted that with the lack of current in the south bay, the sturgeon bite much differently there. With no current, many times the rod will not move and the line will barely move. There is quite a bit of debris in the south bay creeks and in the open waters, and this weekend’s storms should bring in more dirty water. Grass shrimp is in excellent supply at Laine’s along with a supply of ghost shrimp. Pile worms and blood worms have been hard to obtain with the weather conditions back east.
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. Virg’s Landing has posted their prices for the coming rockfish season, and the outstanding two-day trips with meals included are a bargain at $340.00. Two limits are a possibility on these trips to the lightly-harvested grounds north of Morro Bay. A reverse overnight with meals included is $245.00, an overnight is $175.00, full day - $95.00, 3/4th day – 75.00, and half-day- $65.00.
Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The Sacramento-Delta has been inundated with cold and muddy water after a week of freezing temperatures followed by heavy rains. The sturgeon are thick throughout all stretches of the Sacramento-Delta but finding biting fish remains a challenge.
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento had found big stripers in the north Delta in the shallows with G-Ratt Sneaky Pete glidebaits in Ayu or Bone the previous week, but these fish have left the premises with the arrival of dirty water.
Fong said, “The visibility was only an inch, and the water temperature went from 54 to 46 degrees in the north Delta, and the stripers have gone. They may be holding in the sloughs until the water clears since it must have dumped in the upper Sacramento River as we were dodging big trees and logs while motoring to the spot. After five casts in the dirty water, I packed it in. Sturgeon fishing has been solid in the Sacramento River from the banks from Hood north to Knight’s Landing.”
The sturgeon are thick in Suisun Bay, but they have been reluctant to bite with the water temperature dropping once again to 51 degrees after a few days of freezing temperatures,
Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was out with 4 clients on Thursday, and he said, “Most of us got skunked today, but the sturgeon were lighting up the meter in the deep water. With the small tides, they were holding in deep water, and we found fish wherever we went. The Big Cut was holding plenty of fish, but no one was able to get them to go.” Mitchell will be featured with seminars at the upcoming Sacramento Boat Show on March 9/10 as well as at the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento on February 28th at 6:00 p.m.
Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Martinez Marina took out a predominately female crew on Saturday in variable weather conditions, and he said, “We marked plenty of sturgeon, but they are up off of the bottom and moving. They certainly aren’t biting what we have to offer, and I think they are on the move and not feeding right now. Hopefully they decide to stick around and start to bite as there is a tremendous amount of sturgeon in the river.” The Happy Hooker is the only large party boat featuring sturgeon/striper trips in the Sacramento-Delta.
Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures did find some success this week three shakers and a 58-inch sturgeon released by Bob and Rob Dallas of Dallas Farms in Livingston on his cured salmon roe in Suisun Bay. He said, “We have been averaging a few slot-limit sturgeon per trip, but I am still waiting for the action to break out. There have been a number of smaller fish in the system which is a good sign. We have been fishing primarily at depths from 30 to 50 feet, and I am sure that there are sturgeon in the shallows, but these areas are open and susceptible to high winds. I have noticed that more and more sturgeon are coming in with scars from sea lion attacks. We released an oversized sturgeon that had two canine teeth marks on either side of its gill plate. I have been finding a number of sturgeon with teeth marks on their tails and other parts of the fish.”
Pam Hayes at Benicia Bait said, “There haven’t been many boat-based fishermen out recently with the weather, but they are still picking up legal stripers and flounder off of the banks although there haven’t been many fishermen on the shoreline. We have plenty of grass shrimp with ghost shrimp coming in on Friday along with pile worms. The Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby had the least number of participants in memory, but we were able to move most of our bait despite a number of people reserving failing to show up.”
Finding clear water is the key to success in the San Joaquin-Delta, and with heavy winds and rain of the past week, finding clear water will be more of a challenge.
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, went trolling in the San Joaquin River in the central Delta on Thursday, and he found ‘trollable’ water in the cuts off of the main San Joaquin River. He said, “I wanted to troll, and we picked up a few stripers to 22 inches. The water was semi-clear, and it was clear enough to troll, but it was cold at 52 degrees, I think if we drifted live minnows, we would have landed more fish, but we wanted to troll. Everything came deep from 15 to 17 feet with a gold/orange P-Line Predator Minnows. We tried a shallow troll but the water was too discolored. It is getting close to time for the stripers to come into the river system.”
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “This is wintertime fishing, and you might be able to come up with 7 bites per day in the cold water. The Florida-strain largemouth do not like the cold, and the recent cold snap has made for tougher conditions. The key is to keep your bait in the strike zone as long as possible and use something with scent. The General or 10-inch Power Worms are good option as well as the ima Flit 120 rip bait in shad patterns, but you have to work very slow. If you think that there are bass in the area, it is important to make several casts to the same area as the fish are not going to chase. The bass will be holding around weeds with moving water, just enough to fan the weeds over.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors will host a tournament on Saturday, February 16 out of Russo’s Marina, and he expects around 35 teams to participate. He said, “I was at the New Jen Bass Tournaments weigh in this afternoon, and the first four teams didn’t weigh in a limit. The water temperature has dropped from 54 to 49 degrees in certain areas, and the bite won’t start again until the water warms up. It is pretty stained right now.”
H and R Bait in Stockton reported slow fishing in the Stockton area with most fishermen heading further west towards Suisun and San Francisco Bay. They are expecting fresh shad to return in the shop closer to April, but they have plenty of frozen shad in the freezer until then.
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 2 White bass 2 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, the lake has risen from 42 to 52 percent of capacity within the past week, and there is a possibility of the water level reaching 100 percent this year. The rapid rise has led to muddy water with debris on the surface, and boaters should be cautious for submerged debris. The fuel dock will be closed until spring. A webcam of the lake is available at http://www.lakenacimientolive.com/. At Santa Margarita, the Best Bass Tournament wisely cancelled their tournament this past week due to high water conditions with debris as the water was flowing over the spillway by midweek. A webcam of the lake is available at http://805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california/.
At San Antonio, the lake rose to 24 percent, and the lake is also stained. Lopez is in the same boat as the other coastal lakes with cold and muddy water slowing down fishing interest and action. A webcam of the lake is available at http://805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam/.
Best Bass Tournaments: Feb. 9 at Don Pedro – 1, Scott Taylor/Jeff Eddings, 20.48 pounds: 2, Jason and Joshua Sanchez, 20.04 (Big Fish 7.63); 3, Bryan Holmes/Evan Price, 16.37.
Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: Feb. 9 at McClure – 1, Tim and Ryan Cook, 11.66; 2, Jeremy and Ron Pitts (Big Fish 2.41).
New Jen Bass Tournaments: Feb. 9 at Pine Flat – 1, Timmy Wells/Jeff D’Allessandro, 18.75; 2, Edward Arant Jr./Kevin Flynt, 10.98; 3, Randy Burger/Kyle Manes, 10.37. Big Fish: Eddie Hinojosa/Charlotte Montelango, 5.14. Feb. 10 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Billy Hume/Mike Kuhlman, 21.39; 2, Jerry Waiser/John Faylor, 19.75 (Big Fish 7.53); 3, Dee Thomas/Bill Adkins, 18.54.
Porterville Bass Club: Feb. 10 at Success – 1, Mark Abler, 5.32; 2, Rick Lopez, 4.06 (Big Fish 4.06); 3, Gary Wasson, 3.15.
Tracy Bass: Feb. 10 at Delta/Tracy Oasis – 1, Daniel Castellano/Johnny Lopes, 15.47; 2, Jesse Ochoa/Adan Garcia, 14.08 (Big Fish 6.55); 3, Eric Maveau/Reid Sakino, 13.78.
Central Valley Kayak Fishing: Feb. 10 at Kaweah – 1, Lee Xiong/Yair Sierra, 42 inches; 2, Damian Thao/Felipe Maciel, 28.75; 3, Steven Gonzales Sr./Matthew O’Bryan, 25.50.
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 week of Feb. 17 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Shaver Lake, Woodward Park Lake
Madera County: Sycamore Island Pond
Tulare County: Mooney Grove Park Pond
> = peak activity