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. Have a photo of a recent catch to share? Email it to email@example.com with “fish photo” in the subject line.
Delta sturgeon bending poles, Alan Fong reported. San Francisco Bay sturgeon hitting, Keith Fraser said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
The California Aqueduct is running full bore in the northern section of the concrete impoundment as pumping from the Delta increases during periods of precipitation. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Most fishermen are heading to the southern sections near Mendota and Coalinga as it is running wide open near Los Banos. The only way to fish the fast water is with cut baits on a heavy weight or with jerk baits such as Duo Realis or Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s. In the slower water, you can fish an umbrella rig or a glide bait, and there has been some big fish taken at night with the Magnum Rat-L-Traps.” Meng Xyong, spokesman for the Fishaholics out of Fresno, reported, “As the popularity of the aqueduct grows, more and more anglers are also practicing catch and release. Although it remains a healthy fishery, recognizing the potential decline in the fish population is key to sustaining this water system. The bite has improved slightly with experienced anglers landing several fish when they hone in on the schools. The best bet is still the north ’duct but the stripers have slimmed down just a tad during the winter. Anglers in the central and southern section of the ’duct are catching quality-sized fish, but they will have to grind through the day to satisfy their fishing addiction. Fishermen are using a variety of tactics and techniques to figure out what these picky stripers are looking for. They are scoring fish on jerkbaits such as SpeedLures, Duo Realis and Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s. The topwater bite is improving, with a small window during the early morning or late afternoon hours. Using a fluke with a jig head is working for schoolie stripers when you hone in on them. The key is to keep moving and figuring out what they want that day. Every bite, nibble or hookup from a fish tells you, you’re doing something right. Water continues to flow in the California Aqueduct as the state continues to fill up the San Luis Reservoir.” To the south in Kern County, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported the section near the Buena Vista Golf Course has restricted access since there is a crack in the aqueduct. Water is being diverted, and the fix is expected to take up to three months. Fishermen need to head north or south of the golf course for access. The recent popularity of the aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, and in order to maintain the right to continue to fish along these public areas, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing.
Bass 2; Trout 1; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Morgan Barnes, senior ranger for the Eastman Lake Ranger Station, said, “The bass have moved into deeper water with the water temperatures dropping to 45 degrees. Fishermen are targeting islands and rock structures at 10-20 feet with live bait or a slow presentation with plastics. The recent rains have resulted in the lake’s water becoming muddy, therefore fishermen may look to chartreuse colors.” Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “Few fishermen are heading to the lake, but the occasional quality bass is found on jigs in the deeper portions of the lake. Launching a boat is no problem.” No trout plants are scheduled at present. Be advised that the northwestern portion of the lake behind the buoy line is closed to all water recreation to protect bald eagles nesting there for the winter. The area will reopen Aug. 1. The lake rose 5 feet to 476.91 in elevation and 11 percent capacity.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2
The lake rose to 11 percent capacity and 461.91 feet in elevation with the recent inflow, and launching a boat should be possible. A trout plant occurred at the end of last week, but there were no reports as of yet. Anglers are advised to contact the Corps of Engineers Ranger Station for launch updates.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1; King salmon 2; Crappie 2
Bass fishing has been decent, with good results during this past weekend’s Best Bass Tournament featuring 52 teams with 41 weighing in fish. Kevin Cheek, tournament director for the BBT region, said, “The top limit was over 13 pounds, and the winners located their bass in the shallows with jigs. The big fish was taken on a Hula Grub in 15 feet of water.” A barrier debris boom has been installed up the river arm in the Tuolumne River and are holding back floating woody debris washed down from the aftermath of the Rim Fire. The booms will be moved farther upstream as conditions permit. The lake needs to rise to 697 feet for the auxiliary road ramp at Moccasin, with a rise to 725 feet necessary for the regular ramp. Fleming Meadows offers the only ramp on the lake, but two boats can be launched at present. Trout trolling in the main lake remained slow. The lake rose to 688.50 feet in elevation and 36 percent capacity. A trout plant occurred at Modesto Reservoir this week.
Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2; Trout 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
At Lake Isabella, there has been minimal fishing interest with few reports coming into Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield. The catfish should be biting near Engineers Point with a variety of baits including chicken livers or clams. There are no trout reports, but the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce has confirmation that during the week of the annual Lake Isabella Trout Derby, there will be 9,000 pounds of rainbows planted along with 5,000 pounds purchased from the Chaulk Mound Trout Ranch. The 27th annual Derby is March 19-21, with early-bird registration closing at 4 p.m. Feb. 29. Online registration is available at kernrivervalley.com. The launch ramp is on the dirt, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary to put a boat into the lake. The lake held at 2,524.03 feet in elevation and 6 percent capacity. There is minimal change in the lower river, with the best action on live minnows or nightcrawlers for largemouth bass. The local lakes of Ming and River Walk will receive a plant from Fish and Wildlife this week. Buena Vista was to be planted Tuesday with 1,500 pounds of rainbows.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2
Sierra Sporting Goods in Exeter reported the bass have gone as deep as 50 feet because of the cold water and fluctuating lake levels. Drop-shot plastics, jigs, or spoons are the best options for anglers using artificials on a slow presentation. Crappie are being taken on small to medium minnows near rockpiles or brushy structure. Fish and Wildlife released a trout plant this week, but there have been no reports other than fishermen purchasing Power Bait and nightcrawlers. The lake fell 1.5 feet to 593.38 in elevation and 9 percent capacity.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
There is still minimal interest in fishing given the combination of stormy weather, muddy water, and the continued lack of trout plants. The lake rose nearly a foot to 595.80 in elevation and 13 percent capacity.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Kokanee 1; Crappie 2; Catfish 2
The lake rose 9 feet to 615.02 in elevation and 11 percent capacity; the launch ramp may be opened as the reservoir has finally reached 615 feet. Area bass fishermen are looking forward to the ramp’s opening. A-1 Bait in Snelling is open on the weekends with a full supply of live minnows and crawdads. The North Ramp at Barrett Cove may be used at boaters’ risk by hand-launched craft, such as kayaks and canoes. The Barrett Cove South Ramp, as well as Lake McClure ramps at Bagby, Horseshoe Bend and McClure Point, remain closed.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
A Fish and Wildlife trout plant arrived this week, and the local trout fishermen should return to the banks at the handicapped docks and brush pile. The Lake McSwain Marina and launch ramp remain open, but the store is closed Monday through Wednesday.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2; Striper 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 2; Trout 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Bass fishing is good for the few fishermen heading to the lake. The best action for bass is up the river arm with soft plastics in crawdad patterns near rockpiles such as the People’s 4-inch plastic worm in soft shell craw. There are inlets running into the lake in the river arm, and the bass are holding near the inlets or rockpiles. Bass in the 1.5- to 2-pound range are common, with the occasional 3-pound spot.” There have been no striper reports the past few weeks. There are no bass tournaments in January at Millerton. The lake rose nearly 3 feet to 489.69 in elevation and 36 percent capacity. There are only a few anglers working the lower San Joaquin, and Sycamore Island has closed for the winter before reopening Feb. 1. Regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge, allow only two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead with a total of four in possession. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
At New Melones, bass remain the top species with the rainbow trout yet to emerge despite the cold water. The lake continues to rise, coming up 4 feet to 816.64 in elevation and 14 percent capacity. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported a fair bass bite overall, but in the event you are able to find actively feeding fish, the action is good. He said, “The water temperature has reached its average winter temperature and the fish are responding accordingly. The nice thing about wintertime fishing in the Mother Lode is the spotted bass will continue to feed much more than largemouth in the cold water, and this will provide the opportunity to catch some nice fish on each outing. There are plenty of fish that are holding near the bottom or suspended just above. The best action remains on the bottom with a Texas-rigged plastic worm in a crawdad pattern. A weedless presentation is best near the submerged trees and brush. Jigs are also a good choice due to their fiberguard weed guard. Vertical jigging with spoons is a solid option if you are able to locate an abundance of shad.” He added, “During the winter months, be sure to bring a fizzing needle to deflate their bladder for a safe release.” Trout fishing remains slow as the rainbows have yet to move into the shallows. The lake has turned over, but there are minimal signs of the trout, and this has been the case with most of the Mother Lode lakes. Trout plants occurred on the Calaveras and Tuolumne County sides of the reservoir this week. Catfishing remains very slow, and the cold water is responsible for the decrease in action. Crappie are also in a slumber mode with few anglers trying during the winter. The crappie are usually found holding tight to isolated standing timber. Although the lake has risen several feet, the dam area is still buoyed off to keep out boats during water releases. The only launch is at Glory Hole Point, which is a one-lane dirt and gravel road leading off the end of the point. There is no courtesy dock and a four-wheel-drive tow vehicle is advised. Downstream Tulloch is a good option for trout fishermen with the lake at 82 percent capacity and 501.60 feet in elevation.
Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite remains tough with the best action at depths to 30 feet with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot or dart head.” The water is stained from the inflow, and because of the trap net, boaters launching in the main lake cannot access above Trimmer. Those launching at Trimmer are unable to access the main lake. This trap is to capture debris coming out of the upper Kings River from the watershed affected by the Rough Fire. The Kerman Bass Club held a tournament at the lake Saturday, and 17 participants weighed in a total of five limits to 7.38 pounds. Sunday’s California Bass Federation tournament produced similar winning weights. Trout fishing is null and void, but a plant occurred this week. The lake rose 4.5 feet to 743.09 in elevation and 16 percent capacity. A trout plant occurred in the lower Kings River this week, but there have been few reports. Regulations in the Kings River above and below Pine Flat Dam set the season as running from the last Saturday in April to Nov. 15 from Pine Flat Dam downstream to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bridge on Pine Flat Road with a five-fish limit. The bridge is the first one to the west of the dam.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626; The I Forgot Store 787-3689
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2; Catfish 2; Bass 2; Crappie 2
Trophy striped bass continued to be located in San Luis Reservoir, and more and more fishermen are practicing catch and release of the quality linesides. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service took out Byron Stickler of Fresno on a recent trip, and Stickler ended up catching and releasing a personal record at 27.5 pounds, 42 inches trolling a plug on the downrigger near the trash racks. Stickler, a brown trout expert, eclipsed his previous largest striped bass of 8 pounds. George said, “I told him I had a feeling he would land a personal record today, then he demolished his PR by more than 19 pounds. We released the fish using the Seaqualizer . The overall bite was tough with the rising water levels and colder water temperatures at 50 degrees and below, but we worked hard to land/release 15 more fish in the 20 to 24-inch range. Be ready to work hard for what you get!” Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There are more guys throwing either umbrella rigs or bigger jerk baits, and although you won’t catch many fish this way, they will be good ones.” Paul Jolley of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported jumbo and extra-large minnows remain very popular, and they ran out of jumbos over the weekend due to demand. Anglers are drifting the minnows near the bottom at depths from 60-80 feet, and trollers are working at similar depths. Coyote Bait is holding a striper tournament through Feb. 1; entry comes with a purchase totaling $20 in the shop. The leader is Jesus Reyes Silva at 23 pounds. In the O’Neill Forebay, kayak fishermen are heading out with minnows for school-sized striped bass. Landing a number of stripers is possible, but the overall size will be smaller than in the main lake. Flukes, ripbaits and swimbaits also are working, but fishermen have to find clear water with the lake high and stained from heavy water pumping. San Luis has risen to 26 percent capacity with over 12,000 acre-feet of water on a daily basis from pumping from the Delta. The launch ramp at Dinosaur Point is on the third level, and boaters are advised to stay to the right. A four-wheel-drive tow vehicle is also advised at Dinosaur and Basalt Recreation Area. Los Banos Detention Reservoir received a trout plant this week.
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com (559) 905-2954
Bass 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
The lake has risen to 54 percent capacity, creating favorable conditions at the launch ramp. Action remained very slow, with few fishermen visiting during the recent run of stormy weather. A few bass fishermen are walking the banks for the occasional spotted bass in the cold water. The trout action has been extremely slow.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Brown trout 2; Trout 2
The high country along Kaiser Pass continues to receive snow, and access is limited to those on snowmobile. The lakes are still very low, with Edison at 4 percent and Florence at 6 percent. The lower elevation Mammoth Pool held at 14 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 1; Trout 2
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Mother Nature is closing the lake for the winter with only a handful of diehard anglers attempting to fish. Bank fishermen have had a little success. Those that I talked to were either in the right spot and picked up some fish or missed them completely. I am saying that there are still lots of fish out there left over from the big DF&W late summer plants but the Mother Nature thing has many hunkered down in protective areas of structures.” The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will be presenting a Shaver Lake fishing seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods at 6 p.m. Feb. 25. Normally the event is facilitated by Captain Jack Yandell and Nichols, a longtime Shaver guide. The duo will be part of the program but other expert fishermen from the organization will be featured in various topics that are sure to satisfy the various Shaver fishermen. Besides Yandell’s talk on kokanee fishing and Nichols’s visual talk on trolling, what the 2015 results were and the forecast for 2016, topics will include jigging, still fishing, smallmouth bass fishing and night fishing. The SLTTP trophy planting will be discussed. This year, two plants of trophies are forecast. Bob Sharton, department manager of Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods said, “The programs provided by Captain Jack and Dick in the past have been excellent with great turnouts, but this complete package should be great.” The program:
- M/C David Dungy, board member SLTTP
- Kokanee fishing, Captain Jack Yandell
- Trolling Shaver Lake, last year’s results, best months, locations, tackle and the forecast for Shaver fishing, fishing, Dick Nichols.
- Jigging and still fishing, Mike O’Connell
- Night fishing from a boat, Lee Gates
- Smallmouth bass fishing, trophy trout planting, Bob Bernier
- For information contact Bob Sharton at Herb Bauer’s in Fresno
The launch ramp remains open at Sierra Marina; the current status can be checked via webcam at sierramarina.com. Anglers are advised to bring chains for their vehicles as the highway conditions can change rapidly. At Huntington, heavy snow is expected this week, and there have been no reports of fishermen braving the cold from the banks. Shaver rose slightly to 59 percent capacity, with Huntington dropping to 44 percent.
Call: Dick’s Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Fish Box Charters 871-3937
The road to both lakes has closed for the season at Dinkey Creek. The rainbows will be holding over until the road reopens in spring.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Huge waves have been the story off the San Mateo coast over the past few weeks, with wave heights in excess of 50 feet reported at the famed Mavericks Reef. The massive waves have drawn the high adventure surfers to the region, resulting in a spectacular wipeout in which big wave legend Garret McNamara suffered a broken arm and a shoulder injury while crashing on a 48-footer. The window for the Titans of Mavericks Big Surf Competition occurs from November through March, and the most recent competition took place in 2014 after ideal conditions did not materialize in 2015. The enormous surf was even too large to hold the Titans of Mavericks Competition, with the first man to surf Mavericks, Jeff Clark, describing the water as “dirty.” Party boats are tied up to the docks with the huge surf, but all local boats will be out with passengers in the event the Titans of Mavericks is held. One boat ventured out in the big waves, and a huge wave broke over it just outside the harbor, resulting in three severely injured passengers. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat will be running sand dab trips, weather and interest permitting, and the latest Dungeness crab testing has been encouraging for the season to finally open in the near future. The season is open in Washington, Oregon, and along the California coast south of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the Queen of Hearts and the Riptide will focus on whale watching pending an announcement on the Mavericks competition. The big surf will provide ideal conditions for surf perch along with the upwelling from the series of winter storms improving the food chain along the coastal beaches and reefs. The Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest out of Santa Cruz on March 12 will bring fishermen to the San Mateo coastline in search of big barred perch.
Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362; Bait and Switch Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported sand dabs and mackerel will fill the bill in the interim until the tentative opener of the 2016 bottom fish season on April 1 and the anticipated salmon opener during the first weekend of April. In Santa Cruz, surf perch action is heating up, with the 12th annual Sand Crab Classic Perch tourney approaching. Entries opened Jan. 1 for the March 12 event. The tournament is limited to the first 300 entries with information at theletsgofishingradioshow.com. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing said, “On the salt, surfcasting for perch is getting better and better. While some anglers have been skunked lately, we are also getting some pretty impressive reports.” Santa Cruz’s Craig Pappas recorded an “all-time” best last week fishing one of the beaches in Santa Cruz. “I had 20 fish day today. Best in my memory. My three other buddies caught 30-plus. My two biggest were 16 and 15 inches. Fished the high tide outgoing 8:30 a.m. to 1. All on sand crabs,” Pappas reported. “This week’s rain and high surf should really get the local beaches in good shape for perching over the weekend. And, we can expect more El Niño action over the next couple months if weather experts’ predictions are accurate.”
Call: Chris’ Landing(831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2; Striper 2; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 3; Crabs 2
With the rockfish and temporary crab opener, all of the Golden Gate action is inside of San Francisco Bay. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported very good sturgeon fishing in San Pablo Bay for those soaking ghost shrimp, with the best action for those willing to wait to the last hours of the outgoing tide. An elderly pair of anglers went out with Sean Doherty – a four-pack out of Loch Lomond – and despite insisting to set their own hooksets, they managed to hook two “suicidal’” sturgeon out of seven pumpers with six of the bites taking place after 5 p.m. They also picked up a 28-inch striped bass. There have been a few small herring spawns in the central and south bay, but with the small spawns, the sturgeon are still hanging around in San Pablo Bay. Loch Lomond will be getting in a supply of ghost shrimp by Tuesday morning. Fraser went out Thursday with Kevin Wolf to fish for a few hours to land the sturgeon to be sacrificed by Chef Mike McNair at the Final, Final Sturgeon Seminar this Saturday night. He said, “It was really rough out there east of the Pumphouse, but we were able to land a 43-inch seminar sturgeon in addition to releasing a diamondback between 6.5 and 7 feet that jumped completely out of the water. While we were fighting the oversized sturgeon, there was another big pumper on another rod. We could have caught six or seven sturgeon, but with the rough conditions, it was hard to get to the rods.” Captain Trent Slate of Shelter Cove Sport Fishing found legal sturgeon Thursday and Friday with Loch Lomond ghost shrimp. The bass are thick in the flats, and they went through 15 dozen ghost shrimp on two trips. He said, “Although we put in legal fish to 57 inches with the best action on the outgoing tide, the action has not been consistent.” Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley is putting together a sturgeon/striper trip for Saturday. This is a perfect way to spend time in the bay before heading to the Marin Rod and Gun Club for the Final, Final, Sturgeon Seminar starting at 7:15 p.m.
San Luis Obispo
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has opened the recreational Dungeness crab and rock crab season on the mainland coast south of Piedras Blancas Light Station in San Luis Obispo County. Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported valley anglers have been taking blood worms to Pismo Beach, Goleta Beach, and Santa Barbara for solid surf perch action. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, they will be running some nature cruises on the weekend, but groups of 10 or more are able to be scheduled during the week. Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay will be running whale watching and nature excursions from January through April.
Call: Virg’s Landing, (805) 772-1222; (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing (805) 595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch (805) 595-7214
Bass 2; Striper 2; Sturgeon 3; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
Sturgeon fishing is on the upswing with the water temperatures in the Delta on the rise along with heavy freshwater inflow because of recent storms. Sturgeon are biting from the Freeport Bridge west into Suisun Bay. Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “The water is muddy and there are trees and debris coming down, and sturgeon are biting everywhere from downtown Sacramento to Martinez.” Regarding the sturgeon fishery, January is the month when the Sturgeon Report Cards are due to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. If a report card was purchased, it is important that it is submitted by Jan. 31. Online reporting can be accessed at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing#758846-harvest-reporting. The department uses this information to determine white sturgeon populations, and the ability to continue to fish for this species is dependent on those submitting the reports to do their part. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing is the organizer for the 10th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby on January 30 out of the Martinez Marina, with a pre-derby seminar at La Tapatia Restaurant on Main Street in Martinez from 6-9 p.m. Jan. 29. Information is available at diamondclassic.org, with official registration locations at Martinez Bait and Tackle and Castro Valley Sportsmen Center. Rio Vista Bait and Tackle reported decent sturgeon fishing upriver in Liberty or Prospect Slough as well as off the Sherman Island power lines. Sturgeon are starting to bite in earnest in lower Suisun Bay, and Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing found good action near the Mothball Fleet on the outgoing tide on during the week with a 57.5-inch and a 42.25-inch sturgeon that were released in addition to a few shakers. Andy Doudna of Oakley, expert Delta angler, said, “This weekend we saw the sturgeon fishing improve greatly with many quality fish being caught. The improved fishing is related to the fish acclimating to current water temps, rain runoff, warmer days, and nights. The bigger outgo tides are still the big producers in the lower Suisun Bay, the Mothball Fleet, Big Cut, Roe and Ryer Islands, and sloughs. I predict this is the start of some great sturgeon fishing action to come as water conditions improve. Sturgeon goto baits are still roe, pickled eel, eel, shrimp, grass/eel combos.” Striped bass action has been slower, but James Nguyen of Dockside Bait reported a number of large fish in excess of 15 pounds have been taken on live splittail with linesides in the 7- to 10-pound range on live mudsuckers. Broad Slough and Sherman Island have been the top striped bass locations. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “Sturgeon anglers are heading to Light 41 and the Cache Slough areas with roe and eel for success, but the cold water has slowed the stripers in Cache Slough. Spoons and hair Jigs have become favorite tools of lure tossers in the area.” Many guides are drifting minnows in the area. The best place to score a striped bass or sturgeon seems to be below Decker Island in the area of the Power Lines at Light 14 and the Red Barn where boaters anchor and use threadfin shad or sardine filets. Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the slow striped bass action in the north Delta with the water temperature dropping to the 42- to 44-degree range in Liberty Island. In addition to the Diamond Classic, the 32nd Original (aka Super Bowl) Sturgeon Derby is Feb. 5 to noon Feb. 7 at the Foundation Sportsman’s Club at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point. Information is available at originalsturgeonderby.com. The best fishing remains in the clearer waters of the south Delta for striped and largemouth bass. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The water temperature has dropped drastically, and the wind has churned up the Delta, so large fish are scarce. The best action is on the ima Flit ripbait in shad-patterns, and you have to let it sit. The cadence is rip, rip – let it sit as you have to keep the bait in the strike zone. Another key is to find clearer water, and you can work the bottom with the Bottom Hopper or Flat Dog on a Zappu head with an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.” Said Mathisen: “Black bass bite is hopeful as water temps stabilize in the 50s.” Most anglers are sticking with ripbaits and A-rigs, searching ledges near flats. Others looking to beat the clear conditions are drop-shotting 6 and 7-inch worms. In Frank’s Tract, the bass bite is fair, but you have to slow down with Six Sense ripbaits, Bobby D’s spinnerbaits, or swimjigs. Maintenance at the Three Mile Slough Bridge on Highway 160 has the bridge down to one lane until July, with backups of up to five miles to the base of the Antioch Bridge. The construction is going on 24 hours, so visitors to the Delta need to plan for extra time for the delay.
Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 2; White bass 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Nacimiento and Lopez remain the only coastal lakes where boats can be launched from a ramp. There are a number of tournaments scheduled at Nacimiento over the next month. The New Year’s Hangover tournament featured 40 teams and an 11.58-pound winning limit, with a big spotted bass at 3.85 pounds landed on a Senko by the father/son team of Del and Darrin Bishop. Second-place weight was in the 9-pound range, so locating a 2-pound spot is a chore. A slow presentation with Senkos or plastics on the Texas-rig or drop-shot is essential in order to get bit. White bass remain inactive. The launch ramp at Lopez is anticipated to remain open for the remainder of the season, but there are no tournaments scheduled at the lake during January. The bass bite is tough, with the best action on plastics or Senkos on a finesse presentation. The panfish action remains slow in the cold water. Santa Margarita is at less than 15 percent capacity, but the marina store is open for supplies and rental vessels. A finesse presentation is also necessary with jigs, plastics, or spoons. Cold water has limited action. San Antonio remains closed because of extremely low water levels.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
- Best Bass Tournaments on Jan. 9 at Don Pedro: 1, LA Xiong/Shadowns Vangyi 13.39; 2, Bryan Cox/Kevin Davidson 12.67; 3, Russ Pierson/Brian Cogburn 12.32 (big fish 4.02)
- Kerman Bass Club on Jan. 9 at Pine Flat: 1, Ed Kerber 7.38; 2, Ryan Voorhees 7.00; 3, Ron Orbaker 6.00 (big fish 2.25)
- California Bass Federation on Jan. 10 at Pine Flat: 1, Ron Red Sr. 7.75; 2, Duke Holman 7.63; 3, Cory Kerber 7.44; big fish, 2.70, by Bryan Coy
- Jan. 16: Final, Final Sturgeon Seminar by Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle, Marin Rod and Gun Club, San Rafael (415) 456-0321.
- Jan. 21-24: International Sportsmen’s Exposition, Cal Expo in Sacramento, www.sportsexpos.com
- Saturday: Christian Bass League/Manteca Bassin’ Buddies at Don Pedro; Best Bass Tournaments at Nacimiento
- Jan. 23: American Bass Association at Delta/Russo’s Marina; Best Bass Tournaments at Don Pedro; Sierra Bass Club at Pine Flat; Kern County Bassmasters at Nacimiento
- Jan. 24: Fresno Bass Club/Kings River Bass Club at Pine Flat; San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers at Nacimiento
- Jan. 30: 10th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby at Delta/Martinez Marina, diamondclassic.org; American Bass Association at Pine Flat; Bakersfield Bass Club/Golden Empire Bass Club at Nacimiento
- Jan. 31: Success Bass Club at Pine Flat
- Feb. 5-7: Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon Derby at Delta/McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point, originalsturgeonderby.com
- Fresno County: Shaver Lake
- Kern County: Cat Fish Lake; Ming Lake; River Walk Lake
- Mariposa County: McSwain Reservoir
- Merced County: Los Banos Reservoir; Merced River, Section I
- Stanislaus County: Modesto Reservoir; Turlock Reservoir; Woodward Reservoir
- Tulare County: Del Lago Park Lake
q = quarter moon