Hunting Fishing

Fishing report for week of April 10-16: Trout, kokanee among best-bite reports

Scenes along local rivers

Scenes of people fishing and enjoying both the San Joaquin River and the Kings River
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Scenes of people fishing and enjoying both the San Joaquin River and the Kings River

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.

Photo gallery

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Best bets

Monterey salmon opener good, Chris Arcolleo said. Delta sturgeon, bass and striper bites kicking in, Alan Fong reported. New Melones bass and crappie hitting, John Liechty said. McClure and Don Pedro bass on the prowl, Ryan Cook reported. Bass Lake trout and kokanee bite surprising anglers, Todd Wittwer said. Shaver Lake kokanee and trout action going, Dick Nichols reported. Millerton and Pine Flat bass biting, Jake Figgs said.


1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat


Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs

Striper 3 Catfish 2

Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun reported flukes and ripbaits are working for striped bass in the California Aqueduct, and they received a shipment of Duo Realis jerkbaits which are always popular for aqueduct fishermen. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported striped basin the 19- to 27-inch range are taken on blood worms combined with nightcrawlers, sardines, or anchovies while catfish are also showing up with similar baits including stinkbaits and dipbaits.

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.

Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657

Eastman Lake

Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The largemouth bass bite is improving as the lake is beginning to clear with the best action near the dam along the humps with Rat-L-Traps or similar lipless crankbaits. Big jigs with a trailer or larger creature baits are working for the deep fish. Small bucks are taken in the shallows with spinnerbaits.” The lake rose from 82 to 84 percent.

Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255

Hensley Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Figgs said, “The bass bite remains decent with Senkos, spinnerbaits, or chatterbaits from the banks to 15 feet over brush piles. Crappie in the 12-inch range are showing up over the buck brush in the shallows with minijigs.” The lake rose again, from 52 to 60 percent.

Call: Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151

Lake Don Pedro

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 2 Crappie 2

The Fleming Meadows launch ramp area at Don Pedro will be the location for the first annual Reel In for Kids hosted by Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service and the Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments on Saturday, April 13. The event is open to youth from 8 to 15 years of age, and two youth will be paired with an adult boater. Cook said, “We will have raffle prizes and a BBQ lunch with the lunch occurring at 11:30 a.m. with the awards at noon. We have enough boaters for 80 youth right now, and the limits will consist of at least three bass landed by the youth with a maximum of two from the adult boater. Information on the event can be reached at, Ryan Cook on Facebook or 691-7008.

Largemouth and spotted bass are trying to move up, and a variety of lures are working for the larger fish in the shallows including jigs, Fatty Worm’s Swim Daddy underspins, and jigs at depths from 15 to 25 feet. A 23-pound limit was the winning weight during the Angler’s Press event this past Saturday. Don Pedro has been improving for the landlocked salmon. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was out on Sunday, and he said, “It was tough in the morning, but we kept searching and finally found a location holding both kokanee and rainbow trout. We ended up with 5 rainbows and 5 kokanee using a variety of gear in 17 to 35 feet of water near the shorelines. Excel spoons landed both kokanee and rainbows while Needlefish and more traditional kokanee gear were also effective. Once we found the warmer water with pollen on the surface, we started catching fish.” The lake is at 81 percent.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008, Gary Vella 209-652-7550

Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait Bucket in Bakersfield reported a solid crappie bite in the South Fork from the banks and from boats with live small to medium minnows along with minijigs. He said, “We have been going through dozens and dozens of minnows, and the bass and catfish are also becoming active. The rainbow trout were released into the lake in preparation for the annual derby, and I imagine that the rainbows will also start to show up.” Additional plants are anticipated prior to the Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby scheduled for this weekend April 13-15. 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. The lake rose from 38 to 40 percent this week, and it is still rising. The upper Kern River is running fast, but a trout plant was released recently near the Kernville Bridge. Buena Vista kicked out an 8-pound rainbow this week, and there are some catfish, bass, and crappie starting to show up.

Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812; Golden Trout Pack Station 542-2816

Lake Kaweah

Bass 3 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

Brad Scott of Visalia reported, “The bass are finally moving up. We caught 25 to 30 this week, all in the shallows with some decent fish in the 4-pound range and several in the 3-pound range using Jackall’s Flick Shake along with Senkos, underspins, and small custom swimbaits. This was after last weekend’s super slow action, but the Thursday before that produced great action.” The lake is at 20 percent.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 3 Bluegill 2

Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “Bass are getting more active due to warmer weather conditions, and anglers are scoring with jigs, Senkos on a wacky-rig, and crankbaits. The lake is filling up despite water releases, and it has risen from 48 to 53 percent. Crappie are also showing up, especially near the marina with mini jigs. Some anglers are also targeting catfish with stinkbaits. The carp are active, and anglers are bow fishing as well as fly fishing for the fun of catching a hard-fighting carp. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river is starting to be fishable with nightcrawlers as well as fly action with nymphs or Woolly Buggers.”

Stokke gives fly casting lessons at the Pierpoint Café the second Sunday of each month at 10 a.m. The lessons are free and all equipment is provided.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2

The spotted and largemouth bass action remains outstanding with Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing Guide Service catching and releasing a 10.28-pound largemouth on a Fatty Worm’s Swim Daddy underspin in the shallows. He said, “For quality bass, you have to throw something heavy that falls fast and cover a lot of water.” The bite remains wide open with jigs, plastics on the drop-shot or underspins, and there is a topwater bite emerging with Zara Spooks or Whopper Ploppers. Crappie have been found with minijigs over submerged trees. The marina at Barrett Cove opened this past Sunday. The lake held at 66 percent.

Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 3

The annual Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby was a big success over the past weekend, and Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreation Company said, “The winning fish came in at 8.8 pounds after two rainbows at 6.5 and 7 pounds were the early leaders. Numbers of rainbows from 2 to 4 pounds were taken from the shorelines with silver/blue Kastmasters, Roostertails in orange or lime green, Panther Martin spinners in gold/red stripe. Mice Tails in yellow, orange, or white, and nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations.” Over 400 anglers participated, and the banks were lined from shoulder-to-shoulder.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Figgs said, “The bass bite is really good after shutting off for a day or so while the water was dropping. One of our customers scoring two spotted bass in the 3-pound range and one in the 4-pound range with the River2Sea Bling spinnerbait. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and jigs are all working, and the big rock near Winchell’s Cove has also been producing quality largemouth bass. Millerton has been a bit different than Pine Flat as quality bass are found throughout the lake, both in the river arm and in the main lake.”

Millerton dropped from 66 to 60 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 3 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2

Dropping water levels have created difficult conditions for spawning largemouth bass at New Melones, but there are still quality bass to be had.

John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service said, “The lake is experiencing some changing conditions from day to day. With the water levels falling and the unstable weather, the fish have been hesitant to commit to shallow water. A few fish are slowly moving up, but seem to be there one day and gone the next. Regardless of the fluctuating conditions, we have been able to stay on top of the bite and put our anglers on some great fishing. The key has been to look for ambitious fish first, and then back off to deeper water to target the ones that are holding back. When fishing for active bass, swimbaits, umbrella rigs and sight fishing is the name of the game. You can sight fish all day long right now. To catch the finicky fish a NED rig or shakey head has been the ticket. The water temperature is warming and the fishing should only get better each week. The next couple months are among my favorites.”

Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Many bass in the pre-spawn and also laying on beds which now makes for the best time of the year for bass angling. With fluctuating water levels, you may find the bass between 10 and 40 ft. Swim baits, ned rigs and shakey heads are working, if you want to keep it simple green pumpkin color for your plastic baits. There has been lots of reports that the crappie bite on Melones is picking up and one report was of a nice 2.7 pounder. Live minnows from Glory Hole Sports are what the anglers have been using. For rainbow trout, casting Gitzits off of the banks have been good for some as Ted Campbell who landed trout to 6 pounds upriver in 20 feet of water. This year should produce quality kokanee as this is the 3rd season for the land locked salmon that were planted in 2016 as fingerlings.”

New Melones is releasing water, but it held at 83 percent.

Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service 209-743-9932

Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River

Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

A much larger than normal turnout of 52 boats arrived for the Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournament on Saturday, and Gary Wasson of Visalia along with his regular partner, Joe Baeza, took first place with a whopping 16.49-pound limit.

Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The reaction bite is picking up at Pine Flat with Rat-L-Traps or other lipless crankbaits along with brown/purple jigs in the back of cuts. There was an emerging topwater bite for small buck bass a week ago in the river arm near Sycamore Creek. The bite is solid in both the river arm and in the main lake, but you have to work harder to find them in the main lake. There are more quality spotted bass in the river arm while the largemouth bass numbers are found in the main lake.” There are already fish on their beds at Pine Flat. Trout fishing in the lake is starting to pick up in the deeper water in the river arm with shad-patterned spoons. The lower Kings remains very good for planters with nightcrawlers or salmon eggs in the slower water transitioning after fast water. Kastmasters in gold, silver or white are working in the deeper pools. Water releases have increased flows in the lower Kings River below the dam, and the river is slightly stained. The lake dropped from 56 to 53 percent.

The lake dropped from 60 to 56 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626

san luis.jfif
Joe Phillips shows off two big stripers caught on a trip to San Luis Reservoir with his neighbor, Fred Mishler, who reports, “Limits of school-sized striped bass continue to be the norm at the big lake. Boaters at Bssalt are very successful in Portuguese Cove with limits of 21- to 25-inch linesides. ... We boated four by 10 a.m. dragging live minnows.” Courtesy Fred Mishler Special to The Bee

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2

San Luis Reservoir is nearly full, and the troll bite seems to have slowed down for most boaters while the best action remains from the banks. With the high-water levels, shore fishermen have a short walk to the water from any access point.

Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Overall the striper bite has been pretty slow, but shore fishermen are working the points such as Dinosaur or at the mouth of Portuguese Cove with blood worms, pile worms, and jumbo minnows for decent action. Trolling has been pretty slow as the fish seem to be deep.”

Travis Porter and K.C. Wilson of Hollister, regular trollers at San Luis, were on the lake on Sunday, and Porter said, “We covered a lot of water, changing lures and depths and only ended up with two stripers at 21 and 22 inches. The weather was great, but it was hard to find them as we didn’t mark much and only found one school. The fish are on the move. Everyone I talked to said pretty much the same thing. Last weekend, we caught and released 30 stripers, and this weekend, two.”

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service took out guests Jake Hower and Ed Camara , both of Hanford, last Friday for some great trolling action, releasing over 30 better quality fish to over 25 inches.. “I finally found some active fish that would bite and once we did things changed. I worked various locations from Romero, Dinosaur and Portuguese Cove to find the fish. Almost all of the fish were in the 22-to 25-inch quality range at 60 feet trolling Lucky Crafts in minnow colors. There are lots of inactive fish that won’t bite, and I find you need to move to find schools of biters. The overall troll bite has not been good; I think I just hit it right! Why there are so many suspended inactive fish this year is a mystery. Some guys are doing well throwing ripbait fishing the banks for decent numbers.”

George’s Downrigging 101 class is April 25 at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno at 6 p.m. Preregistration is required for the limited-seating class and the cost is $50. Call George at 905-2954 for preregistration.

In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements reported the stripers are starting to chase bait, and anglers are throwing lures such as umbrella rigs, jerkbaits, or ripbaits for the linesides. Anglers will have to go through a number of undersized stripers in order to put together a legal limit. Bait fishing is still producing stripers near Check 12 in the moving water with anchovies, sardines, blood worms, or pile worms.

San Luis dropped slightly to 98 percent.

Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George, 905-2954,

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 3

Todd Wittwer of Guide Service has been finding an excellent kokanee and rainbow bite over the past week with Rocky Mountain Tackle’s orange Plankton hoochies behind a Moonshine dodger around the Forks at depths from 10 to 14 feet. The kokanee are 3-year-old fish to 14 inches, and it appears that there are some decent numbers in the lake. Rainbow trout is a good possibility as well with guide Mike Bieghey putting former Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion onto quality rainbows using pink Radical Glow Tubes in front of a Rocky Mountain Tackle’s Hyperplaid or Fusion dodger.

The lake held at 74 percent.

The annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is May 4-5. The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now. A webcam of the lake is available at

Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

Snow in the high country slowed down any interest in fishing in the Kaiser Pass region or the difficult-to-reach high country as the road is closed for the winter. Check the Caltrans website at or call 800-427-7623 for road conditions. Edison is at 11 percent, Florence at 2 percent, and Mammoth Pool is over capacity at 102 percent.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake

Kokanee 3 Trout 2

The water level at Shaver Lake has dropped, leaving the main ramp at the Sierra Marina out of the water, but the auxiliary ramp is accessible. Bank fishing has picked up considerably since the big plant of trophy-sized rainbows from the Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, and kokanee action is also on the rise for trollers.

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The good news here is that the kokanee bite has picked up, and along with the recent plant from the DFW, the area around the Sierra Marina is kicking out trophy rainbows. Amy Maciel of Visalia scored a 4-pound rainbow from the banks on trout dough bait this week. Kokanee have been taken between the dam area and Road 2 with one boat reporting catching and releasing three limits in the 11- to 12-inch range along with a 25-inch/7-pound rainbow trolling from 12 to 17 feet with various colors of kokanee gear. The kokanee will grow fast, and over the next month or so, they will be much larger. At the current time since the fish are smaller, it is good to practice catch-and-release. Jared and Manuel Romero of Clovis put in two limits of kokanee on Sunday morning running Trout Buster’s behind a Rocky Mountain dodger in the same area. Both the kokanee and trout are in the top 20 feet of the surface, and other kokanee anglers are finding success on Dick’s Mountain Hoochies in champagne behind a dodger. Trout anglers are running orange Dick’s Trout Busters behind Mountain Flashers at 10 feet. The weather could be a factor over the coming week as there are rain and showers forecast on many days.”

Two more trophy trout plants are scheduled in the coming months April to June funded by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project in addition to plants of small golden and brown trout into the lake by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Shaver is currently at 43 percent, and Southern California Edison has announced that the lake will be at 51 percent on May 1 as they are keeping a close eye on the heavy snowpack in the watershed approaching nearly 200 percent of normal. It is uncertain when the Shaver Marina will be moved to its normal location, and due to the water conditions, Nichols will start his first charter operation on May 1. In addition to Nichols, Todd Wittwer of Guide Service and Tom Oliviera of Tom Oliviera’s Guide Service will be guiding on the lake this summer.

Boaters should check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp at

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435


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 mid- to late April.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361


Half Moon Bay

Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 3

Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat took rockfish/crab combination trips over the weekend, returning with 18 limits of crab and near limits of rockfish on both days fishing south outside of San Gregorio. Monday’s trip went to the Deep Reef for 14 limits of rockfish and Dungeness crab.

The local ocean salmon season opens this coming Saturday, and there will be more than a few boats running south towards the Deep Reef on the opener.

Both Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete and Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady are running salmon trips out of Half Moon Bay, and the Salty Lady will move to its home port of Sausalito later in the season.

In the San Francisco Rockfish Management Area from Point Arena to Pigeon Point including the Half Moon Bay area, rockfish season starts on April 1st with a 10-fish rockfish limit including a total of 3 black rockfish, 2 canary rockfish, and 3 cabezon with a minimum of 15 inches. One ling cod with a 22-inch minimum length is allowed, and the depth restriction is 40 fathoms (240 feet).

Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Salmon 3 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf Perch 3

The salmon bite was pretty good for boats that got located with the bulk of the action for party boats and private boaters around Moss Landing. One of Randy’s boats got the salmon located on Sunday, and they landed 33 salmon although they forget somehow to call in the remainder of the fleet to the location. The Kahuna posted an opening day score of a fish a rod for 20 anglers while private boaters found up to 3 limits.

Captain Tom Joseph on the Sera Bella put in limits for his customers on Sunday along with a crew limit with the salmon in the 8- to 12-pound range on the inside in 175 feet of water. He said, “There are a lot of fish in the bay.” Chris Arcolleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported one private boat put in three limits by 8:30 a.m. on the opener, but he had to work much harder on Sunday for limits by early afternoon. Arcolleo said, “The northwest wind is coming this week, and the bait should be moving in. There are salmon out there, it is just a matter of getting located as most of the action has been in front of Moss Landing.”

The Check Mate out of Chris’s Landing took 19 anglers on a Turner’s Outdoor Shop in Salinas charter with 3/4th limits of rockfish and limits of ling cod. Clara Ricabal of Boulder Creek landed a limit of rockfish along with the second-largest ling cod on swimbaits.

Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732

San Francisco Bay

Halibut 3 Striper 2 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2

Rockfishing remains good for the few boats targeting bottomfish, and the Sea Wolf out of Emeryville posted 34 limits of rockfish and 3 lings on Saturday. The local salmon opener is this coming Saturday, and several party and private boaters will be heading outside the Gate for a crack at salmon.

Halibut have been the story in the bay, and the Pacific Pearl out of Emeryville posted a good score on Saturday with 9 halibut and 7 striped bass for 6 anglers on a half-day trip.

Hugh Marchand of Lodi went out with friends Tim Heitzman of Galt and Ryan Metzger of Lodi for a south bay trolling trip for halibut, and they were handsomely rewarded for their efforts with near-limits of halibut and a striped bass.

Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing took out a group including Nicholas and Giovanni Tortorelli of Hayward for halibut to 12.5 pounds and a 6-pound striped bass. He said, “We had to weed through a number of shakers around Alameda for the legal halibut and landed the striped bass off of Oyster Point.”

Undersized halibut have been the story, and the California Dawn out of Berkeley hooked and landed nearly 100 halibut to end up with 14 keepers along with 5 stripers to 21 pounds. Safely releasing the undersized fish is very important as these fish will grow up quickly with all of the feed in the bay.

Live bait may be available as soon as this weekend as the bait boat is out there trying, but the anchovies are holding far too deep to be out of reach of their nets.

Sturgeon are still a strong possibility in San Pablo Bay and the south bay, and Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “There is a strong possibility that fresh mud shrimp will be in the shop over the weekend, and the tides are outstanding.”

Call: Captain Trent Slate, Bite Me Charters 415-307-8582; Happy Hooker 510-223-5388; Captain Jerad Davis, Salty Lady 415-760-9362; Captain Steve Mitchell 707-655-6736

San Luis Obispo

Rockfish 3 Surf perch 2

Rockfish season is in its second week, and limits are the rule on full day trips with less than limits on half-day ventures. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis, the Patriot and Flying Fish were out on ½ day trips on Monday with a combined 54 anglers for 25 vermilion, 175 assorted rockfish, 8copper, 4 Boccaccio, 2 cabezon, and 7 canary rockfish. Out of Morro Bay, the Starfire out of Morro Bay Landing was out on Monday with 170 vermilion, 10 copper, 20 Boccaccio, and 1 ling cod to 12 pounds for 19 anglers. The Fiesta and Black Pearl out of Virg’s Landing took out 6 fishermen on Sunday for a combined 262 vermilion, 130 assorted, 20 copper, 20 canary, and 10 Boccaccio to go with 2 lings. All ports are running a variety of trips in the coming weeks for rockfish/ling cod including overnight trips.

Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100



Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

The Sacramento River side of the Delta is running high from heavy water releases from the Feather and upper Sacramento Rivers, but the striped bass and sturgeon action is heating up with the best to come in the next few months.

Although many of the six-packs targeting sturgeon have vacated the Pittsburg and Martinez Marinas to chase halibut and striped bass in San Francisco Bay, the apex of this year’s sturgeon season is just starting.

Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing out of Martinez will remain in the Delta until May 1st before heading to Pier 45 in San Francisco, and he said, “We stayed around the Mothball Fleet over the weekend, and on Saturday, we caught and released 4 sturgeon with three shakers and one 73-inch oversized in 38 to 40 feet of water near the Glomar Buoys. We have been scoring with both ghost shrimp or salmon roe as we have been using the ghost shrimp for the possibility of striped bass. The diamondbacks are really snapping right now as they are biting like striped bass, and they are fighting like ‘wild dogs.’ The bite has all been on the morning outgoing tide, and we went into shallower water on Sunday on the north corner of the Glomar in 22 feet of water. We hooked three sturgeon out of several opportunities with two shakers and a 52-inch slot fish. The water temperature has risen to the low 60’s, and the best is yet to come.”

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing had a great day on Friday with two legal sturgeon for Larry and Peda Mendoza of Hollister with a 62-inch oversized released by Jason Johnson of Vallejo. He said, “We were down by Suisun Slough and also up near Chain Island. There are so many oversized sturgeon in the system right now so it is the time to get out an hook a lifetime fish. We sat on sturgeon all morning long on Saturday, but they just didn’t want to go like they did the previous day.” Mitchell will stay in Pittsburg until April 30th before making the move to Berkeley for the live bait and salmon season.

Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing has been working the sloughs with great success, and they had two fat slot-limit sturgeon on roe on Thursday to go along with other legal fish during the week.

Pam Hayes at Benicia Bay said, “People are finally starting to go out fishing, and we are hearing scattered reports on sturgeon with some action in the Carquinez Straits as they seem to be moving up from San Pablo Bay. There have been some striped bass taken from the shoreline at the Dillon Point State Park.” Keeping live bait in the shop was a challenge over the weekend as the small amounts of grass shrimp were sold by Saturday morning with a big run on pile worms and ghost shrimp due to the excellent weather.

Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures has been filming a feature for Local Knowledge on the Delta and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to some successful sturgeon fishing for the Captains responsible for the show as show producers Ali Hussainy and Rush Maltz were able to catch and release sturgeon, they also visited the sturgeon hatchery at UC Davis along with the reviewing the history of the commercial fishery in Pittsburg/Martinez. The completed show will be on Saturday mornings at 7:00 a.m. on the Discovery Channel sometime between now and June 1st.

Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport reported a ‘wide open’ striped bass bite in the north Delta in the main river, Steamboat Slough, Georgiana Slough, and the Mokelumne River. He said, “The river is not totally clear yet, but it is fishable, and anglers are soaking blood worms, pile worms, and sardines coated in garlic spray near the banks on 2 to 4 oz. of weight. Sturgeon fishing is losing steam in the north Dela, but striper fishermen are hooking the occasional diamondback. The water is clearing up on the Mokelumne near B and W Resort, and wax worms and red worms are working for bluegill. The Clarksburg launch ramp is open along with Miller Park, but Garcia Bend remains closed.”

Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento was targeting largemouth bass in the north Delta, and he said, “The bite was phenomenal as the water temperatures have jumped up from 55 to 62 degrees. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, frogs, and Senkos were all working as the water is green with around 2 feet of visibility. The steelhead releases on the Mokelumne were pushed downstream quickly with the high-water flows, but there are stripers loaded with smolts landed around Terminous.”

The 8th Annual Purple Heart Anglers Disabled Veterans Fishing Event will take place on Saturday, April 13 at Brannan Island State Recreation Area. This is the largest event each year attracting Disabled Veterans and volunteers from around northern and central California. The organization is always seeking volunteer boat captains, deckhands, setup and clean-up crew, as well as food prep help. To volunteer for this invaluable event, contact Darren Butler at

Striped bass and largemouth bass continue to become active in the San Joaquin-Delta, and the water is clearing up in the mid- and central Delta with the western edge starting to change colors as well.

Interest in striped bass has been at level not seen for many years with over 100 boats working the San Andreas Shoals on Sunday due to the excellent action overall.

Jeff Soo Hoo of Jeff Soo Hoo’s Guide Service out of Laurtizen’s Yacht Harbor in Oakley said, “It has been spotty, but the larger fish are showing up as we released two larger females to 15 pounds on Sunday drifting live bait. I have been burning a lot of fuel and covering plenty of water, running from Lauritizen’s to the West Bank on the Sacramento to Prisoner’s Point on the San Joaquin, and back to Broad Slough. The stripers are isolated, and we are chasing the tides as the outgoing tide has been particularly strong with the outflow from the upper reservoirs.”

J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has been finding tremendous striper action on the San Joaquin with Gary Blasi’s Fat Boy swimbaits and topwater lures. He said, “We released a 14-pound striper on Saturday on topwater, but with the high skies on Sunday, we worked the flats with swimbaits. There were more boats out on the San Joaquin than I have ever seen, and you had to move around to get out of the boat traffic.”

Dave Houston of Livermore participated in Sunday’s Central Valley Angler’s tournament out of Brannan Island, and he said, “The current is moving fast on the outgoing tide, and there is a lot of debris on the surface, making it difficult to troll in certain locations. We ended up with a number of keepers to 12 pounds, releasing all fish including the largest fish that gave us 2nd place. We kept the fish alive by changing the water in the live well every few hours and running the aerator non-stop.” On Thursday, Houston said, “It was a relatively slow day out there, and we caught all of our keepers on the incoming tide which is very unusual for us. We fished within a few miles above and below the Antioch bridge for eight keepers and about 15 shakers. All colors of lures were working about the same and I heard the Sacramento River is about 3 degrees cooler and starting to hold fish”

Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, found slower action on Thursday in the San Joaquin River with a few stripers to 24 inches released. He said, “There haven’t been many big fish caught so far, but one of our friends released a 16 pounder on Friday. Deep-diving lures have been working best.”

Central Valley Angler’s spokesman, Ted Handel of Lodi, reported Mike Nakagawa of Lodi took first in their Spring Striper Shootout on Sunday at 26.75 inches, Dave Houston in second at 26.5 inches, and Doug Conner at 26.25 inches. They paid out to 7th place.

George Wight of Antioch, a charter member of the California Striped Bass Association during their incorporation in 1974, said, “We got into some quality striped bass with Captain Steve Nicholas of Delta Fishing Charters this week with nearly 20 linesides on swimbaits. It has been really hit and miss this year as we went after the same fish the following day and they were gone. The entire spring has been like that as everything is late this year.”

Nelson Vineyard of TopLine Sport Fishing trolled above the mouth of the Mokelumne River on Sunday with P-Line Predator Minnows coated with Pro Cure Crawdad in Cotton Candy and green, and they released 12 shakers before putting in three limits to 5 pounds trolling at 2.5 mph. He said, “There is clean water in the San Joaquin River, and the next three or four weeks should be lights out on the troll.”

Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, has been on the Delta several times recently, and he reported a good bite by pitching the General with Max Scent way out and working it back towards the bank, and he caught and released three largemouth bass over 5 pounds with a few in the 4-pound range. He said, “I also threw the Power Hog which is a creature bait. The high water in the south Delta will keep the bass in a roller coaster mode as you will not be able to pinpoint the fish. The fish will be unstable with the high water as it is much higher than normal. A result of the rollercoast conditions will be huge weights on the top of the tournaments followed very small weights on the bottom. There are big females all over, and they will be looking for spawning locations in the high water.”

Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors reported the winning limit at 19.8 pounds during their Pro/Am out of Russo’s Marina on Sunday came on topwater, but there were various techniques used during the tournament. He said, “There are still sea lions all over, and we are not using the tube at Russo’s to release tournament fish as the sea lions are marauding on the bass after release. We are taking them out and releasing in various parts of open water.”

Bluegill action is good off of Eight Mile Road west of Stockton as the water is clearing up. Wax worms and red worms are the best option for the panfish on a drop-shot rig.

Call: Randy Pringle 209-543-6260; Captain Steve Mitchell 707-655-6736; Vince Borges, Vince Borges Outdoors 209-918-0828; J.D. Richey, Richey’s Sport Fishing 916-952-1554

Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez

Bass 3 White bass 3 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 3

At Lopez Lake, the largemouth bass are in the shallows and spawning, but the water visibility remains cloudy, making sight fishing difficult. Jigs, plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig, and wacky-rigged Senkos are working as the reaction bite remains slow.

At Nacimiento, the Best Bass Tournaments held an event this past weekend with some quality limits including a 5-pound bass. 100 fish days are possible as the white bass are stacked in the river arm and in the inlets, and they are hitting small shad-patterned lures such as crankbaits, Kastmasters or Roostertails. Spotted bass in the 3- to 4-pound range are possible at depths from 12 feet to the banks with small shad-patterned reaction baits such as spoons, spinners, and crankbaits. Crappie are found holding over flats with structure with minijigs, but you have to locate the schools. The water clarity continues to improve, but there is a wide variance in water temperature from the river inlets to the main lake. The lake held at 86 percent this week.

At Santa Margarita, the lake is still in excess of 100 percent of capacity, and the high-water levels have made for difficult conditions for the largemouth bass desiring to spawn. The fish are holding from 15 feet to the banks, and a variety of reaction and finesse baits are working. Plastics on the drop-shot, Senkos, crankbaits, or spinnerbaits are all effective. Boaters are advised to contact the lake’s ranger station at (805) 788-2397 for information on the availability of the single ramp. Crappie are taken on minijigs or small crankbaits in the shallows around structure, and bluegill are taken on red worms.

At San Antonio, the lake held 40 percent, and the lake is only open on weekends until at least May 1st. Catfish to 10 pounds are the big story here, and scented cut baits on a fly-line or a minimal weight are working for the whiskerfish. Bass fishing remains very slow, and catfish have even been striking the larger jigs or Brush Hogs.


Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass 805-466-6557



Best Bass Tournaments: April 6 at Nacimiento – 1, Jason and Geno Lazzerini, 14.35 (Big Fish 5.79); 2, Harry Delore/Brad Austin, 11.39; 3, Matt Clausen/Cory Woods, 10.39.

Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: April 6 at Pine Flat – 1, Gary Wasson/Joe Baeza, 16.49 (Big Fish 5.39); 2, Ralph Encizo/Denny Bowlin, 15.63; 3, Reece and Tyler Wells, 15.21. Juniors April 7 at Pine Flat – 1, Tray and Gannon Williams, 9.59; 2, David and Gage Coy, 9.36 (Big Fish 2.39); 3, Jayson and Lucien Dandurand, 8.99.

Dan Mathisen Outdoors Pro/Am: April 7 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Garret Bradshaw/Myles Nutter, 19.80 (Big Fish 6.16); 2, Chris Ball/Rodriquez, 17.11; 3, Joey Skym/Lisa Graham, 13.16.

New Jen Bass Tournaments: April 5 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Paul Polhemus/Tim Woltkamp, 31.02 pounds; 2, Lorenzo and John Rossetti, 28.21 (Big Fish 8.35); 3, Dan and Vince Fonte, 25.10. April 6 at McClure – 1, Dean Miller/Darrel Masterson, 17.07 (Big Fish 8.25); 2, Steve Nincioni/Mike Newton, 15.96; 3, Zacharie Schmidt/Jared Cook, 13.64. April 7 at McClure – 1, Randy Burger/Kyle Manes, 15.59 (Big Fish 7.76); 2, Albert Acevedo/Jacob Addington, 14.78; 3, Robert Bowlin/Ray Hettinger, 14.16.

River Rat Open: April 6 at New Melones – 1, Steve Riggs/Russ Kidler, 18.01 (Big Fish 6.99); 2, Chris Wallace/Edward Negrete, 15.01; 3, Ron Sanches Jr. and Nick Sanches, 14.90.

Central Valley Anglers Spring Striper Shootout: April 6 at Delta/Brannan Island State Park – 1, Mike Nakagawa, 26.75 inches; 2, Dave Houston, 26.5; 3, Doug Conner, 26.25.


April 13-14: Don Pedro – Sierra Bass Club

April 13-15: Lake Isabella – Kern County Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby

April 13: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Wild West Bass Trails, Lake Pardee – Kokanee Power, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments, Eastman – Sheet Metal Workers, Hensley – Army Corps of Engineers Trout Derby, Pine Flat – Sportsmen’s Warehouse King of the Clubs, Nacimiento – American Bass Association, Santa Margarita – Orange County Bass Club

April 14: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Wild West Bass Trails, New Melones – California Bass Federation, Tulloch – Fresno Bass Club, Don Pedro – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Kaweah – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Success – Porterville Bass Club

Trout plants

Week of April 14 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam

Solunar table









































q = quarter moon