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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San Francisco salmon bite “as good as it gets!” Trent Slate said. Shaver kokanee still hitting, Dick Nichols reported. New Melones kokanee bite steady, Monte Smith said. Hensley bass biting and Millerton bass action consistent, Merritt Gilbert said. Epic McClure trout action continues, Steve Marquette reported., Monterey salmon bite good, Chris Arcolleo said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
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. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun reported sales of Duo Realis 120s has been very high which is a good sign for action in the aqueduct.
In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported blood worms and sand worms continue to score striped bass along with flukes and Gitzits. Catfish continue to come on mackerel and sardines. 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 is the current leader at 21 pounds.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments held a night tourney on July 20, and Merritt Gilbert said, “Depending upon who you talk with, it is either terrible or not too bad. Pre-fishing for the tournament is producing bass in the 2.5- to 3-pound range with no big fish, but then again, no one is saying. The best action seems to be above the island tops or rockpiles with big plastic worms in the 8- to 10-inch range on Carolina-rig along with dragging lizards or jigs on the bottom. A slow presentation on the bottom is necessary. Catfish around 4 to 5 pounds have been taken more regularly with chicken livers, and we have had a run on the bait.” 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. There is a wakebait bite in the shallows in low-light conditions.
Eastman dropped from 78% to 74%.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Hensley Reservoir, a low-elevation lake on the Fresno River north of Fresno, continues to produce the best quality of largemouth bass in the Central Valley. Fishing pressure is far less at Hensley than it is at nearby Eastman Reservoir, and Merritt Gilbert said, “It is better than Eastman right now, and this has been a change as Eastman is California’s first trophy-bass reservoir. There were three different groups who are friends on the lake over the past weeks, and they worked one small island top about the size of our store for several days in a row, and they pulled out 30 to 40 largemouths over 5 pounds. However, the fish have left this island top and scattered out. The best cut of bass is found in deeper water with spinnerbaits, jigs, or big plastic worms on a Texas-rig or drop-shot. Deep-diving crankbaits such as Norman’s in fire tiger or Strike King’s KVDs in powder blue or chartreuse are also working over the submerged islands or rockpiles.
One limiting factor on the lake is the current state of a blue-green toxic algae bloom that are becoming more and more prevalent at low-elevation lakes with a minimum of water flow. Signage has been posted around the lake, and the blooms generally occur in the shallower areas of the lake such as the coves. Adults, children and pets are advised to avoid these areas as consumption of water affected by the blooms can harm pets if ingested.
Hensley dropped from 68% to 64%.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Despite water releases, the lake remains high at 98%, and few trout fishermen are targeting the lake, but there have been kokanee to 17 inches along with rainbows taken from 50 to 55 feet. 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. However, Andre Fontenot, Western Outdoor News field reporter, took his new (used) boat out for the maiden voyage on Sunday for a solo venture, and he plugged away and came away with a limit of kokanee to 16.5 inches and a few rainbows on custom purple/pink (Radical Glow beads) wedding ring spinners with the new UV Smile Blade in Middle Bay at 45 to 60 feet at a speed from 1.1-1.5 with his 4 Fin downrigger weight. Bass fishing is 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, and there is still a glide bait bite in the clear water. stabilize.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported catfish are providing the best action at Lake Isabella with sardines or mackerel with many whiskerfish taken in the warming lake. The bass bite is decent in the deeper water with jigs or deep-diving crankbaits. Crappie fishing has slowed, but the slabs are found around structure in both forks of the river arm. The lake dropped from 58% to 56%. The upper and lower rivers are now fishable, and catfish and smallmouth bass are found in the lower river with planted rainbows in the upper river. 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 their annual July Catfish Derby. In the Kern River, Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company has been in the upper Kern to the Big Lake region within the Golden Trout Wilderness Pack Station, and he said, “It’s the only place to fish right now due to the high flow, but we caught and released Kern River rainbows from 16 to 20 inches on small mayfly patterns.”
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Local expert bass angler Gary Wasson of Visalia said, “The bass bite has slowed, but there is a Senko and topwater bite in the early morning and evening hours.” Water releases have started, and the lake dropped from 83% to 72%.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “There have been a lot of recreational boaters on the lake, and bass fishing is tough. The early mornings or late afternoons are the best time with frogs, Senkos, lizards, and deep-diving crankbaits.” The lake is releasing water, and it has dropped to 96%. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river is now open, and fly fishing is excellent with dry flies as stimulators, caddis, and ant patterns are doing great. Zach Sexton of Porterville landed a 14-inch brown on the Tule on a stimulator.”
Bass 2 Trout 4 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
The second of the six $1,000 tagged rainbows was landed this week as these trout were part of the historic 150,000 pounds of rainbow and brook trout released into the lake two weeks ago. The trout have moved out into the open water of the lake, and the hot shore fishing near McClure Point and Barrett’s Cove South continues with anglers stretched out along the shoreline. Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreational Company reported excellent action for trollers, saying, “We had one boat that landed 14 trout with many in the 8- to 10-pound range, and they filled up a huge ice chest from Costco. Nightcrawlers are working for shore anglers, and we have never had it so good here.” 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. The bass bite is tough right now with all of the feed in the lake and the high water, but flukes, weightless Senkos, jigs, and plastics on the drop-shop are working as deep as 60 feet. 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 dropped slightly to 97%.
Call: Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
Trout action at McSwain has slowed considerably as the major plant at McClure is attracting most of the area’s fishermen. The occasional planted rainbows are taken on Kastmasters, Roostertails, nightcrawlers, or 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 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite is more consistent than at nearby Pine Flat although both reservoirs remain very high for this time of year. The topwater bite for small spotted and largemouth bass remains very good from 5-8 p.m. with small Poppers or Reaction Innovation’s Vixens with the best action around Temperance for bass to 3 pounds. The river arm is producing bass in the 1.5 to 1.75-pound range with plastics on a shaky head, small finesse jigs, or wacky-rigged worms in crawdad patterns. Working around rocks is important at the bass are targeting crawdads in the high water conditions.” 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. The log jam in the river arm is at least 100 yards thick. Fishermen walking down behind the log jam to target American shad with flies or shad darts are finding very slow action. The lake is at 98%, and the lower San Joaquin is also running high.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 3
The Kokanee Power Team Kokanee tournament ended last Saturday, and the lake returned to the regular anglers and guides working the lake. The kokanee action remained as solid as it was prior to and during the derby, but it takes more than just putting your line out there and hoping for success.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was on the lake on Friday, and he said, “The action was right where I left it the previous week as we put in limits prior to 10 a.m. with either JPex lures or micro-hoochies behind a Mac’s Sling Blade at 40 to 65 feet. We are marking schools both deep and shallow, and some anglers are fishing as deep as 70 feet. However, it’s not like you can just go out there and throw your lines in the water and expect fish to jump in the boat. You have to be willing to move, change techniques, and change speeds in order to find the right pattern. There were surprisingly few fishing boats on the lake on Friday, and although there are recreational boats all over, we had no problem getting back on the ramp at 10 a.m.”
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Lynn Winchester of Lockeford brought in a limit of some really nice kokanee up to 2 pounds trolling near the dam using a spoon. For rainbow trout, Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, Tazmanian Devils, and Apex trout lures are what’s attracting the large trout in Melones, but with the kokanee frenzy going on, trolling anglers are more targeting the kokanee and occasionally hooking up with one of the larger trout in the lake on a hoochie. Bank fishing for trout can be challenging, but work the Angel Creek area where the water feeds into the lake. Anglers are using nightcrawlers or Kastmasters. The water temperatures are hovering between 75 and 80 degrees, and the shoreline has a mudline of water stretching out 50 or more feet during heavy boating periods.”
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service said, “It seemed that the Fourth of July weekend lasted nearly two weeks this year as the boat traffic has been heavy. The river arm has a dingy hue from the boat traffic stirring up the banks, and combined with the dropping water levels, bass fishing has been more difficult lately. I took Jeb Bunker of Martinez out on a 12-hour night trip from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and we found good action with swimbaits, rats, and jigs with a big double tail to displace as much water as possible. Bunker caught and released a 5-pound largemouth on a swimbait. I use California Reservoir jigs in ½-ounce in green pumpkin or Spot On which are crawdad imitations. At night, I don’t subscribe to the black/blue change, and we use the same green pumpkins as during the daytime. The night trips happen three days before and after the full moon, but I am booked for the remainder of the summer. The surface temperature is 82 degrees, and I have found water as warm as 84.5. Our best presentation has been either a plastic on a drop-shot rig or weightless wacky-rigged Senko at depths to 30 feet along banks with 45-degree structure. I normally will cast towards the bank into 10 feet of water and work back to around 25 feet near the boat.”
Alex Niapas of Altaville, one of Northern California’s top tournament fishermen, was out on the lake this week, and he caught and released largemouth bass to 4.75 pounds with the 3/8-ounce California Reservoir Spot On jig along main lake points and submerged island tops at 15 to 30 feet in depth.
The lake dropped to 91%.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Water releases are finally overtaking inflow, but the lake is still close to capacity at 94%. 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. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite remains fair with 8.5- to 9-pound limits being enough to win a tournament. Quality has been hard to come by, but there have been spotted bass to 3 pounds taken on small topwater Junior Spooks or Owner Poppers in the river arm around Rattlesnake or Big Creek. There is a tremendous amount of bait in the water . Working the bottom with shad patterned plastics on the drop-shot or deep-diving crankbaits is also an option, but a slow presentation is necessary. The trout bite remains slow with most trollers opting for high country lakes to get out of the heat. A few crappie are taken from the houseboats at Deer Creek and also near Sycamore with minijigs or minnows.” Both the upper and lower Kings River has been affected by heavy water releases, but the restrictions have been lifted on the lower Kings. A trout plant is scheduled for this week.
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 “I took out my friend from Sacramento, Dave Lewis, on Saturday, and he was able to catch and release his personal best striped bass at 33 inches weighing 14 pounds in 80 feet of water near the dam area. Surprisingly in the heat, we ended up releasing over 40 stripers with most in the 20- to 23-inch range with most of our action near the dam or in Portuguese Cove at depths from 40 to 70 feet . The overall bite has been slow for most anglers I talked to ,with most picking up a couple small fish. With the surface temperature at 70 degrees, the stripers are moving around a lot. Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in chartreuse or minnow patterns are still good choices in the algae-stained water as the visibility is around 4 feet. There are male striped bass still milting, and I have never seen this so late in the season. I regularly saw as many as four or five stripers following up a hooked fish, and in two cases, we witnessed stripers milting heavily around the fish we were bringing in. Guys are asking me if the stripers might be successfully spawning in the big lake; I don’t know! Wind is still the big issue and using the Dinosaur ramp is a good option. The dock at Basalt Recreation Area has mud, silt and algae slime, and a 4-wheel-drive wheel is necessary for a successful launch until the ramp is cleaned.”
The lake dropped to 71%.
Not much change in the forebay with the water remaining stained from the constant pumping. Blood worms or pile worms are working best for bank fishermen. Most anglers are fishing at night with the hot temperatures, and the ratio of undersized stripers to legal 18-inch fish is around 15 to 1.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 3
Getting on the lake early is the key to success here as once the whistle blows at 8 a.m., recreational boat traffic becomes unbearable for fishing. Bass fishermen are getting on at first light around 5 a.m. and leaving by 8 a.m., and there is good action for mostly largemouth bass with Senkos or plastics on the drop-shot around the docks as the bass are holding on the edges of the docks in the afternoons.
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 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.
The lakes continue to rise with Edison at 88%, Florence at 97% and Mammoth Pool at 101%. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun reported decent action at Edison with good action at Mammoth Pool for both rainbow trout and crawdads.
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 kokanee beat at Shaver Lake remains excellent with guides posting early limits, and this week’s trout plant should enhance the action for rainbows.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Another outstanding week with multiple limits each day. On Saturday, we released an additional eight kokanee in addition to limits, and with the exception of a single rainbow, all of our fish have been the landlocked salmon. Trout continue to be scarce, but this should change with this week’s plant from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. We have been targeting the Point and the Shaver Marina area with great success with pink or orange Mountain Hoochies along with pink or orange Apex lures tipped with scented corn behind a purple/silver Mountain Dodger on the downriggers while the side poles are loaded with pink and chartreuse Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with corn behind Mountain Dodgers at a set back of 120 feet. I have been running the downriggers between 28 and 33 feet even though the surface temperature is 72 degrees. We are marking schools of fish at 55 to 80 feet, but we haven’t been targeting these schools since we have had so much success higher in the water column.”
The Annual Kokanee Power Shaver Lake Team Derby is scheduled for Sept. 7 with information at kokaneepower.org.
Shaver rose from 83% to 87%.
For the first time this summer, Huntington is a viable option for both bank fishermen and trollers. Pulling Rapalas without a dodger on leadcore at 3 to 5 colors are producing a few rainbows per rod. Small kokanee to 10 inches are found from the surface to 18 feet with small hoochies or spinners. Bank fishermen are working the Dam 3 area with various colors of trout dough bait along with Panther Martin spinners for rainbows to 3 pounds and the chance at a resident brown trout. A trout plant is scheduled for this week. The lake held at 98%.
Sierra Marina launch ramp webcam: sierramarina.com/camera.html.
The 23rd annual Kiwanis Special Olympics Trout Fishing Derby was held at Wishon Reservoir on July 13, and a huge number of participants enjoyed a fantastic day at the lake.
Frank Telaro, Division 5 Special Olympics Derby chairman and creator of the annual event, said, “We had 517 participants in the derby, and there was a total of 32 tagged trout returned for a payout of $1,150. The $10,000 tagged fish, No. 5001, was not caught, but it is worth $1,000 until Sept. 30 if landed by a registered derby participant. The first-place junior was 11-year old Logan Morad with a limit at 70.50 inches while the leading adult was Trevin Falls at 71.75 inches. Over the 22 years of the annual event, the combined 12 Kiwanis clubs in Kiwanis Division 5 which includes Fresno and Madera counties have contributed a total of $155,680 to the local Special Olympics organization. Our local Special Olympics programs need funding in order to continue, and we anticipate a donation of approximately an additional $10,000 this year. Our funding for the cash prizes for the 400 tagged fish comes from numerous private donations, and the San Joaquin Hatchery at Friant planted 3,500 rainbow trout this year the week of the event as part of a scheduled plant. We are fortunate to have over 20 volunteers run the derby from our various Kiwanis clubs in the district, and the volunteers individually tagged 400 rainbows with various cash prize amounts. Coordinating the derby also requires proper permitting from the United States Forest Service and the lake’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
“I have been the chairman of the event since its inception as I was fishing at Courtright one day in 1994 and came up with the idea of starting a fundraising derby for Special Olympics. The first $10,000 award occurred in 2006, and the grand prize was landed in 2018 by Ndzeu Heu and also in 2015 by Luis Fuentes. The majority of participants are boaters, and we had around 125 boats in this year’s event. With the high water at the lake, shore fishing was limited. Additional information on the event is available at wishonderby.com with a contact email at firstname.lastname@example.org.” Another trout plant is expected this week. At Courtright, the water level remains high, and launching a boat is available from the concrete ramp. The action for rainbows has been slow, but a trout plant is scheduled for this week.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Salmon 3 Rockfish 3 Striper 2
The salmon schools remain north of the Pillar Point Harbor, and private boats have been picking up limits on trips north to the area between Egg Rock and Pedro Point. Party boats will need to travel further north towards the Channel Buoys off the Golden Gate in order to fill up their limits.
Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat said, “There was a bite off of the Pacifica Pier for a few days, but once the bite died, we found the school five miles off of the coastline straight out from the pier. We have been traveling north to the Channel Buoys for limits, and second captain Michael Cabanas put in 10 limits on Saturday to 15 pounds in 85 feet of water using straight bait. We have also been traveling south to the Deep Reef in 200 feet of water for up to 13 limits of quality rockfish.”
Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing is ready to go salmon fishing seven days a week after a few weeks of haul out for repairs, but he and his son, Braden, have been able to get in on the salmon action by jumping on the Huli Cat with Captain Tom. He said, “Pedro Point has been the location for local private boats, but the weather has been a limiting factor in getting up there the past few days. The salmon haven’t hit the coastline yet, and we aren’t seeing enough bird activity or anchovies along the coast so far this season. The squid boats are picking up a trickle of squid so there isn’t much bait along the coast. Locally, there were a few fish taken outside of the entrance buoys to the harbor, but this has slowed down recently. We will be traveling north to find our schools until they arrive locally as the salmon bite has improved south of us in Monterey Bay.”
The Riptide and The Queen of Hearts out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing are also alternating between rockfish/ling cod and salmon trips, and they have also been traveling north for salmon and south for rockfish.
Salmon 3 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf Perch 2
Chris Arcolleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips out of Monterey had improved salmon action with 26 salmon of quality fish in the 15- to 30-pound range for 18 anglers over the weekend. He said, “There are different schools of salmon in Monterey Bay, and we found the big school right below the surface with some of our fishermen fly-lining the baits out there. The salmon are spread out from Cypress Point to the Soquel Hole and both on the inside and on the outside. Anywhere you go, there are fish, and there is a school of all large salmon, a school with 10- to 12-pound fish, and one with 24/25-inch salmon with a few larger ones mixed in. The bite is going to be good throughout August. Rockfishing on the local reefs is fair for quality, but when we are able to get south to Point Sur, the fishing is tremendous for ling cod and quality bottom-grabbing rockfish. We are filled up most weekends throughout the summer, and there is limited space during on weekdays.”
San Francisco Bay
Salmon 3 Halibut 2 Striper 3 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2
Salmon fishing couldn’t be much better, and Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of the Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael put his light load onto 3 limits of salmon to 23 pounds with around an 18-pound average mooching. The key was finding the fish, and Trent, decided to shorten up to around 15 feet later in the day, and it was on after finding the fish closer to the surface. Slate posted another 6 limits of big salmon by 11:00 a.m. on Monday, and he is one of the only boats mooching for salmon out of the Golden Gate.
Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady had a fantastic day on Monday with 54 salmon to 23 pounds for 25 customers and two crew. He said, “It just doesn’t get any better folks, wide open bite, nice-sized fish, good weather, and good company.”
Captain James Smith of the California Dawn took a combined Phenix Rods/Optima Baits sponsored trip on Monday for 62 ling cod to 18 pounds for 27 limits plus crew fish, 137 rockfish, 25 striped bass to 25 pounds with the big fish released, 4 cabezon, and a halibut.
Inside the bay, the striped bass bite is still outstanding over the rockpiles in the central bay. The last hour of the incoming tide is the time to work the rocks, and the party boats are finding their window for early limits. Mark Andronico of San Rafael and the legendary Tommy Glaser caught and released over 50 stripers tossing swimbaits over one of the rockpiles, and there were some big stripers in the mix over 20 pounds.
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing has been working on shark fishing for leopards over the past few days, and they have been able to catch all they want in the south bay.
Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures is back on the salmon scene, and he is ready to roll for potluck or salmon trips out of Berkeley Marina.
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 a tremendous score on Sunday with limits of quality rockfish including 500 vermilion, 55 copper, 55 Boccaccio, and 250 assorted rockfish to go with 12 ling cod to 25 pounds. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Black Pearl and Fiesta were out with 72 passengers on Monday for was out for 3 ling cod to 11.5 pounds, 464 vermilion, and 168 assorted for 3/4th limits. John Campbell of Bakersfield took the jackpot on the Fiesta with a 7-pound vermilion while Garrett Gill of Porterville took the jackpot on the Black Pearl with the 11.5-pound ling. Out of Port San Luis, the Patriot, Phenix, and Flying Fish, took out a combined 92 anglers on Sunday for a total of 744 vermilion, 9 copper, 2 cabezon, and 533 Bolina for 2/3rd limits of rockfish. All ports are running a variety of trips in the coming weeks for rockfish/ling cod including overnight trips.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 2
The river salmon season in the Sacramento River opened this past Tuesday, and the action was spotty at best with clearly the best fishing in the north Delta. The Benicia shoreline is yet to produce a salmon, but there has been at least one legal halibut and several stripers taken from the banks. There was great anticipation for an outstanding opener, but normally the months of July and August are the slowest in the Delta portions of the Sacramento River run as there are still huge schools of salmon up and down the California coast that have yet to enter the Golden Gate.
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “There have been a few salmon taken below the Freeport Bridge each day, and bank anglers have been scoring the occasional salmon with Mepp’s Flying C’s while boaters are backtrolling Brad’s K-15 Killer Fish with a sardine wrap. Tim Aguilar of Sacramento landed a salmon three consecutive days with the Killer Fish while Jerad Palmer of Sacramento also picked up a 12-pound salmon on the same lure combination. There are still striped bass coming through, and sardines coated with garlic spray or pile worms are working best. Smallmouth bass are taken along the rocky banks in Steamboat Slough with live minnows, deep-diving crankbaits, or plastics on the drop-shot. Catfish are found in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel or Lisbon Slough with cut baits or chicken livers.”
Out of Benicia, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “There hasn’t been a salmon landed from either the Dillon Point State Park or 1st Street since the opener, but we didn’t have a salmon landed from the shoreline all of July last year. The water clears up on the incoming tide, but it is very dirty on the outgo, and this limits the needed visibility at 1st Street. There are still guys trying, but success has been elusive. The action will happen as the water cools and the salmon start their way in numbers up the river system. There was a 15-pound striped bass landed on pile worms off of the State Park on Sunday, and the biggest news was a 25-inch halibut taken off of 1st Street on salmon gear. Sturgeon fishing remains slow with few anglers heading out as most have cashed out their tags, and the wind has made for difficulty sitting on the anchor.”
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.
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.
The first of the two large frog tournaments is a week away with theUltimate Frog Challenge out of Russo’s Marina on July 27/28 followed by the original frog tournament, the Snag Proof Open, on August 3/4th.
Randy Pringle, tournament director for the Snag Proof Open, said, “The weather has been perfect for frogs with the hot weather right now. There are still plenty of weeds in the Delta, and we found great action this week with a variety of techniques. My client started off with the ima Popper while I was throwing the Heli P in bluegill pattern first thing in the morning. The key is to keep it in the strike zone as long as possible with pauses in between the retrieve. We were targeting current over the flats and ticking the tops of the weeds. After this, I threw the ima Rock N’Vibe Suspend while my client used the ima Squarebill in Hot Craw, and once again the key was to tick the tops of the weeds and pause the lure on the retrieve. When the tide dropped out and left holes in the weeds, I switched over to the 5-inch Optima Boom Boom swimbait on a 5/0 Zappu Underspin with a willow leaf blade, and the big fish came out of the holes to eat this bait. A slow retrieve was necessary as the bass would rise up and attack the swimbait. My client wanted to flip so we finally ended with the Thief in black/blue or the Pit Boss in black/red as the narrow shape of the plastics keeps them from getting caught up in cover. We ended up with largemouth bass to 7 pounds.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors held an event with 21 boats on Saturday out of Russo’s Marina. He said, “The team of Joey Skym and Nick Cloutier took first with a 20.47-pound limit, and most of our successful teams are punching the weeds such as the pennywort along the edges with current with weights ranging from 1- to 1.5-pound weights. There are striped bass around from Discovery Bay to the Pumphouse on the Old River, and boats are either drifting live bluegill or throwing the Optima Bad Bubba Shad swimbait. Two boats have been consistently drifting bluegill from Woodward Island to Union Point.”
The frog bite for the first tournament should be interesting as the weeds have been being eradicated by the spray and pelleting program by the Department of Boating and Waterways.
Striped bass trolling near the Antioch Bridge has slowed a bit while a new wave of fish has yet to arrive, and Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was out this week, and they worked hard for a single legal fish. A few weeks ago, they were finding some large linesides, but there seems to be a lull at the present time.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Santa Margarita continues to kick out quality largemouth bass with a topwater bite in low light conditions with walking baits while jigs and crankbaits are also productive. Big plastic worms to 10-inches are also effective on the drop-shot or Texas-rig when the reaction bite slows down by mid-morning. Catfish have been ‘feast or famine,’ but there have been some large whiskerfish taken on scented mackerel. Mealworms and red worms are working for bluegill and red ear perch with crappie found on minijigs.
Lopez is the other coastal lake kicking out some quality largemouth bass along with a few smallmouth bass, and there have been limits pushing 25 pounds in the past week. There is a reaction bite with crankbaits or spinnerbaits along with a topwater bite in low light conditions. Jigs are also producing quality. 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 water is churned up from all of the heavy boat traffic. A few anglers are getting on the lake in the early mornings and working the coves with tube baits, plastics on the drop-shot or Ned-rig along with crankbaits or chatterbaits. Natural colors in green pumpkin or shad are most effective. White bass are scarce with the boat traffic, but they can be found in the coves in the early mornings with the best action with small white spoons or spinners. Crappie are found with minijigs, and bluegill are biting red worms in the evenings. The lake dropped slightly to 66% this week.
At San Antonio, shad remain throughout the lake as there has been a massive shad spawn, and the water temperature has risen to 86 degrees in certain locations in the lake and certain time of the day. Plastics on the drop-shot, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits are picking up more and more bass. Catfish remain the top species with cut baits soaked in scent. Small bluegill are found along the shorelines. The lake held at 40%.
Dan Mathisen Outdoors: July 20th at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Joey Skym/Nick Cloutier, 20.47 pounds; 2, Harvey Pulliam/Jamond Andrews, 19.50 (Big Fish 6.53); 3, Cesar Laguna/David Poteras, 18.30.
101 Bass: July 20 at Santa Margarita – 1, Bobby Doss/Doug Slayton, 17.18; 2, Jared Litner/Nick Salvucci, 16.57; 3, Jim Slusher/Eric Zillig, 14.92. Big Fish: Brad Sheppard/Clark Endres, 7.05.
Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: July 21 at Eastman – 1, Kevin Lee/Preston Her, 15.15 (Big Fish 5.98); 2, Kevin and Colton Goodman, 13.05; 3, Gary Wassson/Joe Baeza, 9.00.
Sierra Bass Club: July 21 at Pine Flat – 1, Ed Armbrister/Shawn Chong, 10.78 (Big Fish 3.61); 2, Ryan Reynolds/Amy Avidikian, 9.70; 3, Troy Hunt/Gabe Sanchez, 8.37.
Yak-a-Bass Kayak: July 21 at Delta/Sugar Barge – 1, Brandon Miller, 87 inches (Big Fish 20.75); 2, Vinny Dau, 83; 3, Damian Thao, 82.5.
July 27: Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Nacimiento – 805 Kayak Fishing
July 27-28: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Ultimate Frog Challenge
July 28: Kaweah – Finatics Fishing, Success – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
Aug. 3-4: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Snag Proof Open Frog Tournament
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)
q = quarter moon> = peak activity