Hunting Fishing

Fishing report for week of July 17-23: Historic trout plants excite Central California anglers

Joseph Johnston says, “Had some luck at Hensley” on July 14. “Fish everywhere.” He says he caught this one dragging a Texas rig and Senko.
Joseph Johnston says, “Had some luck at Hensley” on July 14. “Fish everywhere.” He says he caught this one dragging a Texas rig and Senko. Special to The Bee

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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Best bets

McClure and McSwain anglers lining the shore after huge historic trout plants trigger epic fishing, Steve Marquette reported. San Francisco salmon, striper and halibut bites strong, Steve Mitchell said. Shaver kokanee limits still the norm, Dick Nichols reported. New Melones kokanee continue chomping, Monte Smith reported. Hensley bass hitting, Jake Figgs said. Don Pedro bass action good, Ryan Cook reported.

Key

1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat

Valley

Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs

Striper 3 Catfish 3

Despite the heat, more and more anglers are heading to the California Aqueduct as the shoreline bite in the main San Luis Reservoir has slowed. The best action remains in the clearer, moving water south of Highway 152 with anchovies, sardines, or blood worms along with hard jerkbaits like Duo Realis 120s.

In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported blood worms and sand worms continue to score striped bass with catfish coming on shad or mackerel. Bob’s Annual July Catfish Derby is on with an entry fee of $1, and the leader at the end of the month will collect all of the entry fees along with the contribution from Bob’s Bait. Ivory Shepard was the leader at 21 pounds.

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

Eastman Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

The River Rat Bass Tournaments held an evening event last weekend, and the winning four-fish weight was only 13.27 pounds by Wade Damian with a big fish at 7.63 pounds by Kenny Kolby. There is a wakebait bite in the evenings along with jigs and frogs in the shallows, but flipping a jig or Senko around every rock or structure is also producing. Working the island tops around 20 feet with large 10- to 12-inch worms or Brush Hogs on a Texas-rig are another option during the middle of the day. A slow presentation on the bottom is necessary. The larger worms with ribs, a ribbon tail, or a paddle tail will displace more water, and the bass are attracted to the water movement. Big fish, but not many of them, dominated the tournament.

Eastman dropped from 80% to 78%.

Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255

Hensley Lake

Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

As sort of a role reversal, Hensley is more productive than nearby Eastman as Eastman is generally the more productive reservoir for largemouth bass. However, Hensley is experiencing an algae bloom typical of low-elevation lakes with a minimum of cold snowmelt.

Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite has been better at Hensley, and deep-diving crankbaits such as Normans in fire tiger or Strike King’s KVDs in powder blue or chartreuse are working at depths from 12 to 17 feet over rockpiles and island tops.”

The bass are holding to structure early in the day, and jigs, Senkos, or spinnerbaits are working before they start to roam around in the afternoons. Regarding the algae bloom, water quality testing has taken place and confirmed the presence of toxins. Caution is advised, and if visitors encounter green or blue, thicker-consistency water, it is advised that adults, and especially children and pets, avoid these areas. When an algae bloom occurs it is usually in the warm shallow portions of the lake. Consumption of water affected by such blooms can harm pets if ingested. Park rangers urge guests to heed the following advice: “When in doubt, stay out.”

Hensley dropped from 70% to 68%.

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 1 Crappie 2

Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Bass fishing has been good for both numbers and size as there is a topwater along with a jig bite at depths to 30 feet. Fatty Worms underspins combined with a small Kei Tech swimbait are the most consistent offering on a slow-roll at depths from 15 to 25 feet. There is still a glide bait bite in the clear water.” Most kokanee fishermen continue to opt for the hot bite at New Melones, but the action should improve as the kokanee start to school up near structure as the water temperatures stabilize. The lake rose to 98%.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008

Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2

Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported good catfish action at Lake Isabella with dip baits, frozen shad, or clams while the crappie have gone deep with a float tube or a boat necessary to get to the slabs. The bass bite is perking up, but they are also holding in deeper water with jigs or deep-diving crankbaits. the slabs found around structure in both forks of the river arm. The lake dropped from 60% to 58%. The upper and lower rivers remain basically unfishable with the high flows. The local lakes are kicking out carp on powder bait or Wussy Bait along with bluegill while Buena Vista produced the leading catfish at 21 pounds by Ivory Shepard in the annual July Catfish Derby.

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

Local expert bass angler Gary Wasson of Visalia said, “Kaweah has a good reaction bite along with Senkos.” Water releases have started, and the lake dropped from 92% to 83%.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2

Bass action has been very slow with the high water levels, and one fish took Sunday’s New Jen Bass Tournaments event at the lake. The lake is still full, but it has dropped to 104%.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com

McClure Reservoir

Bass 2 Trout 4 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 3

Lake McClure experienced one of the largest trout plants in history with 150,000 pounds of rainbow and brook trout released into the lake this past week. In response, anglers have been lining the banks shoulder-to-shoulder to take advantage of the amazing plant.

The plant is part of a long-term environmental stewardship effort with the intent of restoring the lake’s trout population that was devastated by the recent drought. Thousands of pounds of trophy-sized rainbows that can reach up to 18 pounds were released including more than 6000 trout weighing more than 4 pounds and more than 1,500 trout weighing at least 8 pounds. Six fish were tagged during the trout plant, and these fish are worth a cash prize of $1,000. Joshua Moua of Merced landed the first of these tagged fish on July 9.

Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreational Company said, “It has been insane this week since the news of the plant broke, and the lake is lined with fishermen pulling out limits of the planted rainbows and brook trout. It has been a fishing frenzy up here, and nightcrawlers, Roostertails, and blue/silver Kastmasters along with basically anything you throw out at them are working. There has never been a better time to fish Lake McClure as bass, trout, and catfish are all available.”

Anglers visiting Lake McClure are asked to support the trout restoration by filling out short survey cards located throughout Lake McClure recreation areas and at the entrance kiosks. The feedback provided will directly support the stocking program.

Ryan Cook confirmed the trout bite, and he launched at Barrett’s Cove to avoid the traffic at McClure Point with all of the fishermen along the banks. He said, “We caught and released two 18-inch brook trout on a main lake point at Barrett’s Cove South, and all of these trout will create a new feeding regiment for the bass. I expect the big bass bite to take off in the winter on big baits as these fish will feed on the planted trout. The bass bite is tough right now with all of the feed in the lake and the high water, and it has been hard to find quality bass. Flukes, weightless Senkos, jigs, and plastics on the drop-shop, all worked very slow, are the best set ups, and we are finding bass down as deep as 60 feet right now. You can still catch numbers, but size is difficult to find.”

There is floating debris on the surface, and anglers are advised to use extreme caution as several boats have ruined props and lower units recently.

McClure held at 98%.

Call: Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 4

Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreation Company reported trout plants from the Merced Irrigation District took place at the afterbay this week, and action from the shoreline has been outstanding with silver/blue Kastmasters, Roostertails, nightcrawlers, and various color patterns of trout dough bait near the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, or along the peninsula near the marina. The lake is expected to remain at flood stage for the next few months.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 3

Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said,” The river arm has been more productive in the nearly-filled reservoir, and watermelon or green pumpkin Trick Worms are working at depths to 25 feet. There is a good topwater bite with 4-inch walking baits such as Poppers in the mornings and evenings.” Plastics on a shaky head, small finesse jigs, or wacky-rigged worms in crawdad patterns are effective in the rocks as the bass are spitting up crawdads in both the main lake and the river arm. Boaters have to be very cautious when running full out along the edges. There are also fallen trees and floating logs and debris in the river arm as well as a very large logjam. Boaters need to be aware that the logjam can be open to go upriver then close behind them, trapping them upstream. The lake is at 99%, and the lower San Joaquin is also running high.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 3

The Kokanee Power Team Kokanee tournament returned to New Melones this past Saturday, July 13, after a hiatus of several years due to the lack of kokanee action at the lake. This year was a much different story with the lake at full resurgence for the landlocked salmon.

Kokanee Power’s President, Gary Coe, said, “We had 73 teams with 15 junior anglers as part of our 170 participants, and the majority of teams weighed in a 3-kokanee limit. The competition was extremely close as the difference between first and 12th place was around 0.75 pounds. Rick Fried and his son Justin of Pioneer took first place with a three-fish limit weighing 6.18 pounds with the big fish of the tournament at 2.30 pounds. They were working the bottom near structure around Bear Creek at depth from 60 to 90 feet with JPex lures from the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi. There were kokanee found from 20 to 40 feet at times, but they were also found as deep as 90 feet. John Lico and I came in a four-way tie for ninth at 5.57 pounds. We scored with the brand-new Flutter Bug from Paulina Peak Tackle, and this is the real deal as around half of our kokanee from our recent trip to Flaming Gorge were also taken on this new lure. Our next kokanee derby is at Stampede on Aug. 10 with the final derby of the year at Shaver Lake on Sept. 7.”

Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing has also been working the lake on a regular basis, and he said, “The kokanee are still scattered and you have to hunt them down, but there are some significant schools of fish from 40 to 70 feet, and I have been using the Jpex lure which is around quarter the size of an Apex, and green/purple and pink/silver have been hot colors. Hoochies are also working behind a Sling Blade, and the kokanee come up around mid-morning to feed on the surface as the water temperature is 80 degrees on the surface.”

Steve Wirfs of Ripon and Jeff Boyle of Bass Pro Shops in Manteca found two limits of kokanee to 16.5 inches running Apex lures or hoochies at depths from 39 to 51 feet.

The lake held at 92%.

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 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

With the lake close to capacity, there is no parking available near the launch ramp at Pine Flat Marina on Sunnyslope Road, but there is parking above the old Legion Hall. Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite has been tough with the high water, but there is a topwater bite for small fish with Owner Poppers or Junior Spooks in white around Billy Creek or Windy Gap. There is a tremendous amount of bait in the lake, and the larger fish are pushing the shad out into open water. Working the bottom with shad patterned plastics on a Texas-rig has been productive.” Gary Wasson, local tournament angler, reported good action for a small grade of bass on reaction baits. In the main lake, a slow fall presentation with plastics on a Ned-Rig, shakey head, or wacky-rig at depths from 20 to 40 feet is effective by mid-day. The trout bite is slow, and the crappie bite has also been slow with the high water. Both the upper and lower Kings River has been affected by heavy water releases, and the county parks and parking areas are closed in the lower Kings as an advisory has been issued for recreational activity. The lake is starting to drop, and it is at 95%.

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

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2

San Luis Reservoir continues to drop in elevation, and the summer blues are in full effect at the big lake. In addition, the blue-green toxic algae continues to form on the lake’s surface, particularly in the coves as the water temperatures rise.

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said “San Luis Reservoir has been slowly falling and the blue green algae is beginning to form with yellow balls and surface foam in the water. I scouted the lake alone last Thursday, and I find that the fish are moving around a lot from area to area. I found fish in Portuguese Cove holding at 40 to 75 feet off of structure and later in the day off the Romero Dam area when the winds let up. I’m finding my best bite using various Lucky Craft Pointers trolling at about 2.2 mph once I find some fish on the meter. The trick is to find active fish right now. Minnow colors are still working best. The bite was only decent in the heat, but I managed to catch and release over 25 striped bass up to nearly 9 pounds with a number in the 22- to 24-inch range. They seem to be eating shrimp right now. I had a slow start, but after mid-morning, a little more breeze improved things. I’m seeing schools of fish moving around over deeper water that aren’t biting much. I’m still also seeing a lot of milting males which may account for the non-biting schools. You may need four-wheel-drive at the Basalt ramp due to the silt from the falling water and the slimy algae all over the ramp. The wind remains the biggest problem.”

Joe Juane of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill confirmed the slowdown at the big lake with most fishermen attempting to avoid the heat by fishing from dusk throughout the evening with blood worms or pile worms. In the forebay, Juane said, “There are plenty of small striped bass on bait, but you have to go through around 15 stripers to pick up a legal fish.”

Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported there haven’t been many striped bass landed, but those that have been caught have been huge including a 50-pound striped bass with a 14-inch American shad in its belly. Flukes and swimbaits at night are working along with Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in pearl white.

The lake dropped to 72%.

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

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 3

Recreational boat traffic continues to be heavy during the week and particularly on the weekends, but the bass bite remains solid for those getting on the lake early. Chatterbaits above the flooded grass have been the top technique, but there are still bass holding on the edges of the docks in the afternoons. Most anglers are working the quieter north end. Mike Beighey of Bass Lake Fishing continues to post limits or near-limits of kokanee in the 16-inch range using Radical Glow tubes in light pink or a MAG Tackl orange mini hoochie behind a MAG Tackle’s Stealth dodger from Miller’s Landing to the Sheriff’s Tower. The lake held at 94%.

The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now. Lake webcams and conditions: basslakeca.com/index.php.

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

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

Kaiser Pass is open, but drivers are advised to be very cautious. The lakes continue to rise with Edison at 86%, Florence at 93%, and Mammoth Pool over capacity at 101%.

For the latest Sierra National Forest road conditions: bit.ly/2rfH8BB

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake

Kokanee 3 Trout 2

The recent heat wave in the Central Valley brought heavy recreational boat traffic over the weekend, and the kokanee bite slowed down a bit on Saturday and Sunday. Kokanee limits are still the story, but on certain days, the bite has been a bit tougher.

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Shaver is still kicking out multiple limits of mostly kokanee each day. However, the bite has fallen off a tad, as the fish are scattered about the lake. We had many charters this past week, all but one produced three or more limits, the exception was two limits on one trip. Kurt Schaad and Jeff Wolf, both from Kerman, collected kokanee limits one day, and the following day, Wolf took his daughter, Whitney, out in his pontoon boat for two more limits. Gary Foth of Fresno was joined by his daughter, Ashley, and his grandson for three limits of all kokanee. Because the fish are scattered, multiple limits are not as fast as previous weeks. We found good action the first part of the week in the bay in front of Shaver Marina, but as the week progressed, we moved out to the island all the way to Eagle Point from 27 feet to 33 feet. On the downriggers, we are running orange Apex or Dick’s Mountain Hoochies in orange tipped with scented corn behind a Dick’s Mountain Dodger in purple and silver. We had to change our tackle on the side poles this week using Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with corn behind weighted Mountain Flashers with a setback of 100 feet back, getting the lures down to around 22 feet. The trout bite is one here and one there, but a plant is scheduled this week by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. With the trout plant, there should be good action between the freshly planted trout and the third-year kokanee.”

Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service said, “We were knocking them dead earlier in the week with up to five limits in short order, but the bite slowed down over the weekend. We were able to scratch out near limits to near-limits on Saturday and Sunday, and former New England Patriot and Fresno State football player, Joseph Schey, was out on Sunday with Athena Pistoresi, and they put in their limits out of 28 hookups. The Rocky Mountain Tackle orange double-glow hoochie behind an orange Moonshine dodger was the hot set up, but the Kevorkian Apex along with the RMT purple Cotton Candy hoochie behind a purple Moonshine dodger or pink Haze hoochie behind a pink Splatter dodger are all working at depths from 20 to 35 feet. There are big schools of kokanee in the lake.”

The annual Kokanee Power Shaver Lake Team Derby is Sept. 7. Details: kokaneepower.org.

Shaver dropped slightly to 83%.

Sierra Marina launch ramp webcam: sierramarina.com/camera.html.

At Huntington, small kokanee have been the rule from the surface to 18 feet, and a trout plant is scheduled for the week of July 21. The lake held at 98%.

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Tom Oliveira Fishing 802-8072

Wishon/Courtright

Trout 3

Kelly Brewer of Wishon Village RV Park and Store reported high participation during Saturday’s annual Kiwani’s Special Olympics Trout Derby, and a trout plant occurred prior to the event. Shore anglers are scoring with various colors of trout dough bait near the launch ramp and along both sides of the dam. Trollers are pulling blade/’crawler combinations or Rapalas from the surface to 20 feet. The lake remains close to full, and the inlets are flowing heavily.

At Courtright, the water level remains high as snowmelt pours into the lake. A trout plant occurred during the final week of June with another scheduled for the week of July 21.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361

Ocean

Half Moon Bay

Salmon 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 2

The Huli Cat went out of Half Moon Bay north of Pillar between Egg Rock and Pedro Point, and jellyfish were an issue to contend with, but they ended up with 13 limits of salmon to 16 pounds. Peter Matysuk from Modesto scored a 16 pounder and Jason Poon from Palo Alto landed a 14 pounder on straight bait. This is a great sign that salmon are now being found south of the Golden Gate.

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

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 2

Chris Arcolleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips out of Monterey reported salmon fishing has improved to the point of trips picking up a fish to a fish and a half per rod. He said, “I don’t think the salmon school from down below from Morro Bay has arrived yet, but the recent northwest winds have brought the salmon closer to the surface where we can get them. Rockfishing on the local reefs remains very good, and when the weather allows us to get down south to Point Sur, it is incredible for big rockfish and lings.”

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

San Francisco Bay

Salmon 3 Halibut 3 Striper 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2

Salmon fishing has been spectacular along the Marin coast with party boats posting limits as close as Muir Beach. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters found tremendous action mooching on Friday for seven limits of big fish to 25 pounds, and he plans on mooching as much as possible. If you haven’t mooched for salmon before, it is all in your hands and a lot of fun.

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing went out with John McGee of Legal Limits Sport Fishing on Saturday, and he said, “Our Phenix Tri-fecta trip was nothing short of a banner day with limits of salmon plus crew limits along with limits of halibut and striped bass. We landed the stripers outside of the Gate while trolling for salmon.”

Jerad Davis on the Salty Lady found tremendous action for a private charter on Saturday with 21 limits to 22 pounds. Trips are bookin gup fast with the tremendous action along the Marin coastline. 24/7 online booking: saltylady.fishingreservations.net/sales/

The big story in the bay has been the Great White Shark caught and released by Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing. This story went viral after occurring on Saturday afternoon, and this is the first legitimate landing of a Great White that I have heard of. The video of the fish fight shows how amazing a Phenix rod is as this rod was bent double at the end when the shark came close to the boat. They had to pull anchor and chase the shark down for 2 miles before finally getting the restricted shark to the side of the boat for a quick release. Gamez has been scoring big soupfin, seven-gill, and cow sharks over the past week.

Captain Trent Slate was out with a small load on Saturday for limits of striped bass and halibut with good quality halibut found of off Alcatraz Island.

The larger grade of halibut has moved into the Central Bay, and the Happy Hooker posted limits of bass and caught 30 halibut to 26 pounds. They have lots of room this week. Second Captain Bob Wright of Pleasant Hill landed a 22-pound halibut on Monday on the Pacific Dream. The Pacific Dream will be taking their first rockfish/ling cod trip of the season this Friday due to the excellent ocean conditions.

The bays remain on fire with the California Dawn posting 102 keeper halibut and bass with some large halibut in the mix. They found 42 halibut to 25 pounds along with 30 limits of striped bass including three crew limits.

Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures is back on the water, and he took out MMA Fighter Clay Guida along with a crew of anglers on one of Guida’s Gilz and Thrillz Adventures, and they posted limits of striped bass and 4 halibut.

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, Hook’d Up Sport Fishing 707-655-6736

San Luis Obispo

Rockfish 3 Surf perch 2

Out of San Luis Obispo County, the Endeavor, Avenger, and Starfire out of Morro Bay Landing posted an impressive ling cod count with 30 lings to 17 pounds on Sunday for 280 vermilion, 255 copper, 35 Boccaccio, and 70 Bolina for 64 anglers. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Black Pearl was out on Monday for 19 ling cod to 15 pounds along with 20 vermilion, 60 assorted, 50 copper rockfish, and a single cabezon for 20 anglers. Out of Port San Luis, the Patriot, Phenix, and Flying Fish, took out a combined 91 anglers on Sunday for a total of 164 vermilion, 36 copper, 15 Boccaccio, 616 assorted rockfish, 20 canary, and 4 Bolina along with 10 lings to 10 pounds. 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

Others

Delta/Stockton

Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

The river salmon season in the Sacramento River opens on this Tuesday, July 16, and anglers have been gearing up for the opener for the past several weeks. There is high anticipation for a banner year for salmon as the daily bag limit has been raised from one to two salmon this year. Normally, the months of July and August are spotty for river salmon, but there is anticipation of a great start for the 2020 season. Anglers will be lings the shorelines off of the Dillon Point State Park and 1st Street in Benicia as well as off of the banks near Freeport in the north Delta.

J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing will start his river guiding trips in late August/early September, but he said, “There will always be salmon caught at the mouth of the American River at the start of the season for the first few days of the opener, but this is difficult to keep a guide busy so I will be waiting until more fish come into the system.”

Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “There is high anticipation for the start of the river salmon season, and although I predict that the Feather River will be most productive, the mouth of the American should be kicking out a large number of fish.”

Anglers will also be lining the banks in the north Delta off of the Freeport shorelines, and Flying C’s are the lure of choice.

Out of Benicia, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “We have been selling plenty of Flying C’s and Vee-Zee Spinners for Tuesday’s opener, and people are getting pretty excited for the salmon season.”

Catfish can be found in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel and in Lisbon Slough with chicken livers, nightcrawlers, or cut baits while bluegill are in the back sloughs. The striped bass bite has not materialized in the Sacramento River this summer, and the best techniques for resident fish are soaking sardines coated with garlic spray or pile worms. Smallmouth bass are active in the rocks in the upper Delta with minnows on the drop-shot, small swimbaits, or deep-diving crankbaits.

Sturgeon are still in lower Suisun Bay, and Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures took his daughter and boyfriend out for a few hours on a shakedown cruise with his new motors on the Farallon. He said, “The sturgeon are in the summertime pattern, and they are still there, but you have to hunt around for them. We were able to put her boyfriend onto his first legal sturgeon.”

Delta anglers are gearing up to attend the California Fish and Game Commission meeting on August 7 at the Natural Resources Building in Sacramento regarding an agenda item on modifying regulations for non-native species such as striped and largemouth bass.

In the San Joaquin River, frogs continue to dominate the minds of Delta bass fishermen as the Ultimate Frog Challenge arrives on July 28/29 out of Russo’s Marina, and the original frog tournament, the Snag Proof Open, is the following weekend, August 3/4, also out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island. Various frog manufacturers will be represented in the Ultimate Frog Challenge, but the Snag Proof Open is limited to specific Snag Proof frogs. These specialty tournaments are very popular with anglers, but fishing a frog requires a hot day for the greatest opportunity for success.

Kris Huff of Stockton continues to score limits nearing 20 pounds with his Scum Frogs in black, and he is preparing for the tournaments by fishing the Wednesday Night Shootouts at Ladd’s Marina. The shootouts occur during the summer months, and they attract some of the best Delta anglers on a weekly basis.

Field scout Neil Simpson of Lodi has also been working a frog along with Senkos, chatterbaits, and topwater lures at sunset, and he said, “We have been catching and releasing a number of 2- to 3-pound bass, and I talked to one angler who said he was scoring punching the weeds on the incoming tide.”

Striped bass continue to be found in the west Delta near the Antioch Bridge, and Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, caught and released linesides to 15 pounds, keeping a limit to 6 pounds, trolling both shallow and deep in the west Delta. He said, “I picked one up on a shallow-running Rat-L-Trap along with deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows. This is summertime, and we did well to pick up legal stripers.”

H and R Bait in Stockton reported catfish are the top species off of the banks at Whiskey Slough with chicken livers or nightcrawlers. Most anglers are working the early mornings or evenings with the triple-digit temperatures in the Central Valley. Bluegill are found on red worms or jumbo red worms.

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

Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Santa Margarita was the big story in the coastal lakes with a limit over 21 pounds by the team of Damon Meeks and Jay Short taking first in Saturday’s Best Bass Tournaments event with a kicker over 8 pounds. There is a good topwater bite with walking baits or Poppers along with buzzbaits in the mornings and evenings. Crankbaits in bluegill patterns are also effective, and when there is a breeze, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits are working. Working the bottom with big plastics to 6 inches are the option when the action slows down on reaction baits. Mealworms and red worms are working for bluegill and red ear perch with crappie found on minijigs. Catfish are loading up on mackerel coated with scent.

At Lopez, there is also a topwater bite early and late similar to Santa Margarita with small poppers and walking baits, and the early morning fog has contributed to the topwater action. Crankbaits in bluegill patterns at depths to 15 feet are also effective, and when the action slows down, plastics on the drop-shot or Ned-rig along with Senkos are working. Bluegill are found on mealworms or red worms along with a few catfish on cut baits.

At Nacimiento, recreational boating has taken over the lake by mid-morning even during the week, and the best action comes in eth first few hours of the mornings or later in the afternoons. Spotted bass are taken by plastics on the drop-shot at depths to 20 feet. Crappie are found with minijigs, and bluegill are biting red worms in the evenings. The lake dropped slightly to 68% this week.

At San Antonio, there is a huge shad spawn, and small shad-imitation lures are picking up bass. Medium-diving crankbaits in shad patterns are also successful. Catfish remain the top species with cut baits soaked in scent. Small bluegill are found along the shorelines. The lake held at 40%.

Webcams: 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam, lakenacimientolive.com, 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.

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

More online

Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for Ocean, Delta, Kern County and Central Coast lakes and for event results and the tournament schedule.

Events

Results

River Rat Open: July 6 at Eastman – 1, Wade Damian, 13.27 pounds; 2, Chris Colton, 13.22; 3, Kenny Kolby, 11.80 (Big fish 7.63).

New Jen Bass Tournaments: July 13 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Bob Tosh/Bryan Coy, 21.56 (Big Fish 5.84); 2, Juan Acosta/Mark Gomez, 19.78; 3, Joseph Price/Tyler Harvey, 18.06.

Kokanee Power Team Open Tournament: July 13 at New Melones (3-fish weigh in) – 1, Rick and Justin Fried, 6.18 (Big Fish 2.30); 2, Kevin, Karla and Rachel Smith, 6.11; 3, Doug Philpott/Kyle Wise, 6.00. Juniors (1 fish) – 1, Jameson Oswald – 2.09; 2, Joe Hutchinson, 1.94; 3, Brody Code, 1.80.

Fresno Bass Club Night Tournament: July 13-14 at Don Pedro – 1, Scott Douglas, 18.75; 2, Corey Squires, 17.80; 3, Larry Lutz, 15.74. Big fish – Kong Vang, 5.04.

Merced Bass Club: July 13 at McClure – 1, Jeremy/Ron Pitts, 10.02; 2, Dennis Wainwright/Drew V, 9.14; 3, Doug and Mike Goodman, 8.60.

Bakersfield Bass Club: July 13 at Pine Flat – 1, David Childress/Nathan Towes, 10.56; 2, Butch and Jeanie Graham, 9.69 (Big Fish 9.69); 3, Dennis and Matt Polm, 8.50.

Best Bass Tournaments: July 13 at Santa Margarita – 1, Damon Meeks/Jay Short, 21.56 (Big Fish 8.08); 2, Travis Woolf/Garett Manion, 17.98; 3, Jeremy Mann/Jacob Dilger, 14.56.

Upcoming

July 20: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club, Isabella – American Bass Association

July 21: Salt Springs Reservoir – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies, Eastman – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

July 28: Kaweah – Finatics Fishing

Aug. 3-4: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Snag Proof Open Frog Tournament

Trout plants

Week of July 21 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Fresno County: Bearskin Creek, Courtright Reservoir, Huntington Lake, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Shaver Lake

Madera County: Granite Creek (west fork), Chiquito Creek west fork and lower

Mariposa County: Big Creek

Tulare County: Big Meadows Creek, Stony Creek

Tuolumne County: Lyons Canal (Columbia Ditch), Lyons Reservoir, Pinecrest Lake, Stanislaus River middle and south forks, Tuolumne River middle and south forks

Week of July 28 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Fresno County: Mono Creek, Portal Forebay

Tulare County: Balch Park Lake upper and lower, Hedrick Pond (Redwood Lake)

Solunar table

AM

PM

Minor

Major

Minor

Major

f-Wednesday

5:53

6:18

12:06

>Thursday

6:45

12:33

7:09

12:57

>Friday

7:36

1:24

7:59

1:47

Saturday

8:26

2:15

8:47

2:36

Sunday

9:14

3:03

9:35

3:24

Monday

10:00

3:50

10:20

4:10

Tuesday

10:45

4:34

11:05

4:55

f = full moon > = peak activity

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