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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “fish photo” in the subject line.
Delta Sturgeon activity on the upswing, Alan Fong reported. New Melones bass hitting, John Liechty said. Eastman lake kicking out big cats, Merritt Gilbert reported. Shaver trout hitting for brave anglers, Dick Nichols said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
The California Aqueduct is still a viable option for central Valley striped bass fishermen, but the fast water from heavy water releases is making for challenging conditions. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The action isn’t like it has been, and most of our fishermen are heading south of Coalinga. The headwaters in the northern section of the aqueduct are running full bore, and fishermen are avoiding the fast water.” Meng Xyong, spokesman for the Fishaholics out of Fresno, reported, “It’s a tough bite for most anglers fishing the California Aqueduct. I think stable weather is key when targeting stripers here. This time last year, we had a period of stable warmer weather which kept the fishing a little more interesting. Some anglers who visit the ’ducts regularly are having success fishing lower in the water column using lures such as a lipless SpeedLure or flukes paired with a jighead. Water continues to flow heavily north of O’Neill Forebay as the state continues to fill up the San Luis Reservoir. With a section of the south ’duct being repaired, interestingly, a sunken vehicle was found along one of the stretches. It makes you wonder what other man-made cover exists along this 444-mile long concrete river.” In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said a roughly three-quarters of a mile stretch of the aqueduct near Buena Vista Golf Course remains under repair. Water flow has stopped in several sections, and the reaction bite is tough. The best option is live bait or cut bait for stripers in the still water. Repairs are expected to be completed by Feb. 20. The recent popularity of the aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers. 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 3; Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The best fishing has been for large catfish to 15 pounds in the deeper water near the dam with chicken livers. There have been a number of large whiskerfish ranging from 5-15 pounds within the past week, all on chicken livers. Bass fishing is tough overall, but an experienced angler was able to bring in an 11-pound limit working jigs in deep water.” No trout plants are scheduled. The northwestern portion behind the buoy line remains closed to all water recreation to protect nesting bald eagles. The area will reopen Aug. 1. The lake rose one foot to 477.77 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 held at 11 percent capacity and 462.65 feet in elevation with the recent inflow, and launching a boat should be possible. Anglers are advised to contact the Corps of Engineers Ranger Station for updates. A trout plant occurred during the first week of January, but there have been no reports of success or interest. The water is very murky from the recent inflow.
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 continues to be the top draw given the paucity of trout fishermen, but the action remains tough with only 14 of the 24 teams fishing the Sonora Bass Club tournament weighing in limits, with the winning five fish at 12.98 pounds. A barrier debris boom has been installed up the river arm in the Tuolumne River, 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 rose 3 feet to 691.15 in elevation and 37 percent capacity. It needs to rise to 697 feet for the auxiliary road ramp at Moccasin, with a rise to 725 feet necessary for the regular ramp. The Fleming Meadows Launch ramp is the only ramp on the lake, but two boats can be launched. Trout trolling in the main lake remained slow.
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 3; Bluegill 2
At Lake Isabella, catfishing is the best thing going, and Clyde Eddington of Bakersfield has been scoring whiskerfish to 14 pounds using store-bought Atlantic salmon at Engineers Point. 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, the lake will be planted with 9,000 pounds of rainbows along with another 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 dropped a half foot to 2,523.55 in elevation and 6 percent capacity. A video of the lake and submerged trees is available at youtube.com/watch?v=uhFvEOhlN4U&feature=youtu.be. 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 received the final trout plant of the season last week. Buena Vista is kicking out limits of rainbows for bank fishermen using Power Bait on a 15-inch fluorocarbon leader on 8-pound low visibility monofilament. Nano Cueto and his partner picked up two limits of rainbows averaging 1.5-2 pounds.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2
Bass fishing requires a finesse technique as the fish are suspended because of the water-level fluctuation. There has been inflow from the Kaweah River, and the lake is rising again. The fish have been found as deep as 50 feet, and plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, or spoons are the best options for anglers using artificial 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 last week, but there have been no reports other than fishermen purchasing Power Bait and nightcrawlers. The lake rose 4 feet to 597.42 in elevation and 10 percent of capacity.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Co. in Springville said, “There has been little interest in fishing at the lake, and a few bass fishermen are still able score the occasional small bass on crankbaits, plastic worms, or jigs on an extremely slow presentation.” The lake dropped over 2 feet to 593.68 in elevation and 11 percent capacity amid anticipated inflow from this year’s El Niño. In the Tule River, Stokke added, “The flows are solid and the river is stained after every storm. I caught and released a number of small rainbows on my last trip using nymphs, but there were no browns caught. The action is slow, but the rains will pay benefit in the long run.”
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Kokanee 1; Crappie 2; Catfish 2
The lake rose 4 feet to 618.06 in elevation and 10 percent capacity, and the launch ramp at Barrett Cove North is finally opened. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The water is stained the color of the red clay banks from the recent inflow, and a pair of Fresno bass fishermen who were anticipating success found a tough bite in the stained water on a recent trip. Launching a boat wasn’t a problem, but the bite was very tough.” 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
Fish and Wildlife planted the lake for the first time in several months, with a heavy dose of 2,000 pounds put in last Monday. McSwain Marina reported that several boats have been launching into the lake and the shore also is lined with fishermen. Action has been slow, as the main lake is stained from the inflow. The lake level is down 8 feet down because of maintenance work on the dam but should be back to normal soon.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2; Striper 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 2; Trout 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The lake had featured the best bass bite in the area over the past few months, but the action toughened up during the week. Experienced fishermen are working very hard for a few fish in the 13- to 13.5-inch range with the fish suspended at depths from 30-40 feet. There are balls of bait at this depth, and the bait drops to 60 feet by the early afternoon. A few fishermen are trying for crappie with minnows near the mouth of Finegold Creek, but the bite has yet to emerge. This bite usually comes and goes within a short period of time in February.” There were no striped bass reports. The lake has risen to 37 percent capacity and 491.49 feet in elevation. There are only a few anglers working the lower San Joaquin, and Sycamore Island has closed for the winter before reopening Feb. 1. In the local area, Meng Xyong of the Fishaholics reported anglers are heading to Woodward Park Lake for stocked trout with either Power Bait or Kastmasters. He said, “The park is a great way to get your child started fishing.” 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 3; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
At New Melones, despite recent plants from both sides of the lake, trout fishing remains very slow for trollers and bank anglers. Bass fishing is still the top draw, but the action is limited to a slow presentation with a wintertime mode. The lake continues to rise, coming up 4 feet to 820.31 in elevation and 14 percent capacity. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “New Melones continues to offer some of the best bass fishing in the Mother Lode as the lake has a great population of healthy 2-pound spotted bass, and it is not uncommon to catch 3- to 4-pound spots. Spotted bass will feed three times more often than a largemouth bass, which make them a good species to target during the colder months.” The spots are found at depths from 15-65 feet with jigs on a three-eighths to three-quarters-ounce football head on a slow presentation. Plastics on the drop-shot are another option, and anglers need to focus on their electronics in order to find a concentration of fish. Vertical jigging with spoons is a solid option if you are able to locate an abundance of shad. Glory Hole Sporting Goods recommends practicing catch and release, and when a fish is hooked in deep water, it is best to bring them in on a slow retrieve as if they are brought in too fast, they will not be able to adjust to the pressure, resulting in an expanded air bladder. Lietchy said, “During the winter months, be sure to bring a fizzing needle to deflate their bladder for a safe release.” There was a small club tournament for rainbow trout over the past weekend, and the results were limited to a few small planters per rod with the larger holdover rainbows still missing in action. The fish have yet to move out of deep water toward the surface and the shore. The lake is rising rapidly, and brush, twigs, and debris is floating off of the banks into the main lake. The upper lake in the river arm has the greatest concentration of debris. Catfishing has slowed as a result of the cold water, but there are always some huge whiskerfish taken in winter by anglers targeting rainbows with dough bait or a nightcrawler/marshmallow combination loaded with scent. Crappie fishing is also slow with few anglers trying for the slabsides. 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, but this has been the case with most of the Mother Lode lakes. Although the lake has risen several feet, the dam area is still buoyed off to keep out boats during periods of 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 83 percent capacity and 500.05 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
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite turned from tough to extremely tough over the past week due to the influx of cold and stained water. The water temperature has dropped and the lake has risen due to inflow. Small limits are possible, but most fishermen are scoring one or two bass using a slow presentation with plastics or jigs on the bottom.”A trout plant occurred last week, but there are few reports. A trash boom has been installed to keep out the debris from this summer’s Rough Fire in the upper Kings River. The lake rose 3.5 feet to 746.49 in elevation and 17 percent capacity. Despite the recent trout plants, there are no reports from the lower Kings River. 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 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 1
The lake has risen to 28 percent, but increases should slow with the recent pumping restrictions to protect the endangered Delta smelt. Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said, “Trolling is producing the largest grade of striped bass, and the fish are at depths from 60-80 feet with Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s in pearl ayu or ghost minnow or with umbrella rigs. Boaters are also drifting jumbo minnows near the front of the dam for a smaller grade of legal bass. The best locations remain near the trash racks, Quiensabe Point, and from Dinosaur Point to the mouth of Portuguese Cove.” Nick Xyooj of the Fishaholics said, “We hit a thick patch of fog early morning at the big lake at San Luis on Sunday and the attendant didn’t let us launch til around 9 a.m. We got four decent fish there, trolling in the shallows, and lost a big fish before moving down to the Forebay where we picked up several more fish to 20 inches. We got seven keepers between four of us and we marked plenty of fish in the Forebay, but they were reluctant to bite.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service took out Mike Pierce and Dana Lee of Fresno for more than 20 fish to 26 inches. “The fish are scattered and moving from place to place, plus there are a lot of suspended fish in the cold 49-degree water,” George said. “We got lucky and I found some active fish early, but you really have to be spot on to get them to bite. We got fish from 40-90 feet, which is an unusually large spread of depths. A buddy went the next day and only got five, showing how up and down the fishing can be right now in the changing weather patterns and cold 49- to 50-degree water. It was a moderate 54 degrees last year. It’s not easy, and some days they are just shutting down.” The best launch is at Basalt Recreation Area, which is on the main concrete ramp. Four-wheel drive is recommended at Dinosaur Point. Coyote Bait is holding a striper tournament until Feb. 1, and entry comes with a $20 purchase in the shop. The current leader is Jesus Reyes Silva at 23 pounds. Most striper fishermen are heading to the aqueduct or to the main San Luis Reservoir. The heavy pumping over the past several weeks has left the Forebay high and muddy. Live bait such as jumbo minnows is the best option in the cold water. Cut baits are working for small stripers or catfish near Check 12.
Call: Coyote Bait andTackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com (559) 905-2954
Bass 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
The lake held at 55 percent capacity, creating much better conditions at the public launch ramp. There were few reports, and trout plants have yet to start. Bass fishing remained slow, with few anglers trying given the cold water.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Brown trout 2; Trout 2
High country along Kaiser Pass continues to receive snow, and access is limited to those on snowmobile. The lakes remain very low with Edison at 4 percent and Florence at 6 percent. Lower elevation Mammoth Pool held at 14 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 1; Trout 3
Trout plants from the Department of Fish and Wildlife started within the past week, but these fish are expected to be fingerlings that will grow to catchables within two years. The trophy rainbows will be planted during the spring because of the efforts of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project. A few boats are accessing the lake during intermittent periods of clear weather, and Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Sunday’s weather was cool and crisp, and there were five boats on the lake with reports of a limit or more per boat possible working the top 15 feet of the surface with the best action on blade/crawler combinations. There was a boat out on Monday that fished from 12 to 2:30 p.m., and he landed one rainbow on a blade/crawler combination at a depth of 20 feet in front of the dam. He added that he was picking up fish on his finder on the bottom of the lake. The fish are scattered and hunkered down on structure, and I think the best action is in Stevenson Bay. It takes a really hardy fishermen to take on this type of weather.” In addition to planting thousands of pounds of trophy trout into the lake during the spring months, the Shaver Lake project will conduct a seminar at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at Herb Bauer Sporting Goods in Fresno. Speakers will include Mike O’Connell on jigging and still boat fishing for rainbows, Lee Gates on night fishing, Bob Bernier on secrets for smallmouth bass, Nichols discussing his 2015 results from 128 guided trips on the lake, and kokanee tackle innovator Captain Jack Yandell giving his pointers on kokanee fishing and the third-year kokanee. There also will be an update on the status of the upcoming trophy plants. At Huntington, heavy snows have fallen, and few, if any, fishermen are braving the conditions. Shaver rose slightly to 60 percent capacity with Huntington dropping to 42 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
Party boats are tied up to the docks with the continuation of big surf and little to fish for, but all local boats will be out with passengers in the event the Titans of Mavericks is held. 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 soon. The season is open in Washington and Oregon and along California south of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the Queen of Hearts and the Riptide will focus on whale watching until the announcement on Mavericks. The big surf will provide ideal conditions for surf perch along the beaches 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 coast 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’s Landing in Monterey reported outstanding sand dab and mackerel action on their trip Friday, but he is anxiously awaiting the opening of the Dungeness crab season. They will be running the sand dab trips on an intermittent basis depending upon weather and interest. In Santa Cruz, Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing said, “Powerful ocean swells are moving tons of sand along our Monterey Bay beaches this month. That is great news for perch anglers, as good structure starts to appear when the sand shifts. Deep holes, troughs and rip current channels are the perfect places to find feeding perch. Lately the huge waves have made it a bit difficult for surfcasting, mostly because of sea grass, kelp and other marine detritus collecting along the shore. Within a week or so, this initial clearing of loose bottom matter will be completed and anglers can enjoy weed-free casting along most the beaches on the bay. When anglers have found clear water lately, they are also finding plenty of barred surfperch. Ten-fish limits are not uncommon from the beaches south of Rio Del Mar on down to Seaside. Now is the time the larger females start to make their appearance, so we can expect to see a lot more in the 15-inch and above class. Just in time, too, as the 12th annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby is now accepting entries for its March 12 event. Entries are available at Bayside Marine in the Santa Cruz Harbor and online at sandcrabclassic.com.” Entry deadline is Feb. 8. Proceeds go to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Derby coordinator Mike Baxter expects another full roster of 300 anglers.
Call: Chris’ Landing(831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2; Striper 2; Leopard shark 3; Sturgeon 2
Sturgeon fishing is taking center stage, and Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker took his first sturgeon/striper trip of the year into San Pablo Bay. Within minutes of setting out the lines, David Fine of Sacramento had a 51-inch sturgeon on the hook. They ended up with the one legal sturgeon along with three striped bass to 5 pounds. Smith added, “There was a herring spawn off of the Richmond Pier on Sunday, and there were guys out there loading up on fresh bait.” Smith has a trip this coming Saturday, and he likes the tides. Smith was reportedly well into San Pablo Bay near the Mare Island Rockwall, and after slow action in Suisun Bay at the end of the week, Captain Chris Smith of the Captain Hook out of Martinez joined him in San Pablo Bay. Within the first few hours of anchoring, Will Cook landed his first-ever keeper sturgeon at 45.5 inches. We have been getting few reports from the south bay, and the action has been slow for sturgeon according to Victor Le of Phu Quy Bait and Supply in Oakland. There was a herring spawn at the Alameda Rockwall during the week, but most of the action in the bay has been taking place from the Pinole shorelines. Of note: Green sturgeon and white sturgeon may not be taken in the following described area between Jan. 1 and March 15: That portion of San Francisco Bay included within the following boundaries – A direct line between Point Chauncey (National Marine Fisheries Laboratory) and Point Richmond, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and a direct line between Point Lobos and Point Bonita.
San Luis Obispo
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. 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 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 are the story in the Sacramento side of the Delta with diamondbacks found from Freeport to the Carquinez Bridge. The upcoming series of minus tides are expected to bring out a bigger bite during the current week. There are three big sturgeon derbies planned within the next two months. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing out of Martinez is the organizer for the 10th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby on January 30 out of Martinez Marina, with a pre-derby seminar at La Tapatia Restaurant on Main Street in Martinez from 6-9 p.m. Jan. 29. Talmadge is planning for 150 youth participants and is working with sponsors to provide a prize for every child registered, including rod/reel combinations from Shakespeare. Registration is free for children and $25 for adults, with 100 percent payback in cash prizes from first through seventh place. Information is available at diamondclassic.org, with official registration locations at Martinez Bait and Tackle and Castro Valley Sportsmen Center. In the upper Delta, Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported solid sturgeon action from Clarksburg to Hood with lamprey eel. Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait in Freeport said, “The Sacramento River is running high and muddy, but bank anglers are finding good sturgeon action from the shorelines at the Clarksburg boat launch, Hood, and in Freeport with eel/nightcrawler combinations, pile worms, or cured ghost shrimp.” New Romeo’s is holding its 10th annual Sturgeon Derby from March 17-20. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley reported fair sturgeon action, with very little pressure from fishermen on the river this week. He touted the upcoming series of tides and current weather conditions, stating, “Great tides combined with showery days ahead are setting up for the best winter bite we have had in years.” Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing, currently out of Pittsburg Marina, confirmed the slower action in upper Suisun Bay “We are marking fish, but they have been reluctant to bite.” Pam Hayes of Benicia Bait reported sturgeon have been the top draw, as stripers have been on the small side and the flounder have yet to show up. Mathisen said, “Where we were catching and releasing 50-60 stripers on 5-inch Bubba Shad swimbaits a few months ago, we are limited to a fish per hour at the present time.” In addition to the Diamond Classic, the 32nd Original (aka Super Bowl) Sturgeon Derby is Feb. 5-7 at the Foundation Sportsman’s Club at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point. Information is available at originalsturgeonderby.com. Live ghost shrimp has been difficult to obtain, and grass shrimp is nearly impossible to obtain. Reserving bait well in advance of the upcoming derbies is essential in order to allow local bait shops to prepare. The San Joaquin River side of the Delta is receiving far less pressure than the Sacramento side, and the recent stormy weather has limited the number of fishermen trying at the present time. Water hyacinth is sinking to the bottom, but the relatively warm weather will create conditions for the vegetation to rebound during the spring months. Federal wildlife officials required a reduction in the amount of water pumped out of the south Delta for the first mandatory cuts in two years in response to protection for the endangered Delta smelt. Alex Breitler of the Stockton Record reported, “The cuts that took effect Friday were not as stringent as some scientists had recommended. The Smelt Working Group, an advisory science team representing multiple agencies, had called for stronger protections, citing in part the record-low number of fish. The decision to restrict pumping is based on rules written in 2008 to protect smelt from the effects of the giant pumps. Water users sued to block those rules, but ultimately they were upheld by the courts.” Most striped bass and largemouth fishermen are heading into the south Delta in search of clear water in order to entice striped and largemouth bass. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors said, “Discovery Bay remains the best location for striped bass, big bluegill, and crappie, but a slow presentation is necessary in the cold water. Largemouth bass also require a slow presentation with Sweet Beavers or jigs in black/blue with the fish targeting crayfish.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The water is very muddy in both the San Joaquin and the Sacramento Rivers, and an absolute dead-stick presentation is necessary in order to entice a strike. You have to fish so slow that the hooks rust, and when you can’t stand it any longer, only move the bait 3-4 inches at a time as the fish are very picky and aren’t willing to chase at this time of year. Now is the time to use as much scent as possible, so much that the scent permeates the water. Plastics on the drop-shot, weightless, or on a wacky rig work best, especially in earth tones such as green pumpkin or black/blue flake.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Delta striper fishing is improving, and good numbers of fish are possible as the water temps are hovering between 47 and 49 degrees. The fish are eating in both clear and off-colored water, and I am using a 6-inch Clouser Minnow in bluegill colors with rattles.” Maintenance at the Three Mile Slough Bridge on Highway 160 has the bridge down to one lane until July, and there are traffic backups of up to five miles to the base of the Antioch Bridge. The construction is going on 24 hours per day, so visitors to the Delta need to allow 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. Lake Nacimiento was the host for the first Best Bass Tournament of the season on Saturday, with 36 teams participating. There were 17 limits of more than 7 pounds weighed in, with three topping pounds and the top two in excesss of 9 pounds. Small fish are still the rule, and big fish for the tournament weighed in at 2.59 pounds. The lake is rising steadily in response to the consistent rains. 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 rest of the season, but there are no tournaments scheduled at the lake in 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 rising, but it is still less than 15 percent capacity. The marina store is open for supplies and rental vessels. A finesse presentation is also necessary with jigs, plastics, or spoons. Cold water temperatures have 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
- Sonora Bass Club on Jan. 9 at Don Pedro: 1, Bob and Cheryl Harskamp 12.98; 2, Jim and Jason Wood 10.62; 3, John Liechty/Dan Perkins Jr. 9.69 (big fish 3.83)
- Best Bass Tournaments on Jan. 16 at Nacimiento: 1, Ricardo Rodriguez/Nicholas Stewart 9.82; 2, Jay and Austin Rich 9.05; 3, Fernando Salazar/Mike Oddo 8.98; big fish, 2.59 by Eddie Davidson/Matt Messina
- Thursday-Sunday: International Sportsmen’s Exposition, Cal Expo in Sacramento, www.sportsexpos.com
- Saturday: 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
- Sunday: 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: Avocado Lake; Woodward Park Lake; Kings River, below Pine Flat Dam
f = full moon > = peak activity