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 bass and sturgeon bites good, Alan Fong said. New Melones bass hitting, John Liechty reported. San Francisco sturgeon on the prowl, George Lu said. Isabella cats feeding, Jacob Rutledge reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
The aqueduct is flowing fast and cold, driving most striper fishermen to more fertile waters at San Luis Reservoir. The main lake is rising quickly, and the jumbo minnow and troll bite has been solid for numbers of keepers. Meng Xyong, spokesman for the Fishaholics out of Fresno, reported: “There are signs that the aqueduct is slowly coming back to life. Anglers are reporting stripers chasing baitfish right up against the concrete wall. They’re becoming active and that’s a good thing but fishermen still have to grind for these fish. On a recent trip, I found them active near the waters surface. I was using a SpeedLure in purple urkle while trolling with a planar board and casting. The quantity isn’t there but the fish were of better qualilty. The bigger cut of striped bass seem to come during low-light hours. Water clarity has improved, typical for this time of year. The catfish and bass bite has improved as well.” In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported the weekend’s rain and hail storm left the aqueduct roads muddy, and few fishermen were heading out there because of the risk of a vehicle getting stuck. A three-quarter-mile stretch of the canal near the Buena Vista Golf Course remains under repair, with an expected completion date of Feb. 20. The popularity of the California 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 2; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Water levels climbed, but bass fishing is limited to a few fishermen working jigs in deeper water near the dam. The bass are holding at depths from 18-30 feet over rockpiles or humps. Vertical jigging spoons with a slow presentation is working along with blue/black jigs on a football or Arkie jig head ranging from three-eighths to half-ounce loaded with a Yamamoto 5-inch double or single-tailed grub in junebug or smoke/blue/black. Catfishing has been slow after a few weeks of good action with chicken livers near the dam. There was a recent trout plant, and the swimbait bite may take off for bass fishermen. The northeastern portion of the lake behind the buoy line remains closed to all water recreation to protect nesting bald eagles. The area will reopen Aug. 1. The lake rose 2.5 feet to 485.59 in elevation and 15 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 4 feet to 18 percent capacity and 473.17 feet in elevation with the recent inflow, and launching a boat should be possible. A trout plant occurred during the first week of January, but there have been few fishermen targeting bass or trout in the cold and muddy waters resulting from its rapid rise from a low of 5 percent.
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
Lake Don Pedro hasn’t been in the fishing news for several months, but bass fishing is starting to show signs of life as the lake is receiving more interest because of recent tournaments. The overall bite is tough, particularly compared to nearby New Melones, and the best action is holding on the bottom with a slow presentation. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “The best action is on the bottom at depths from 25-30 feet with plastics on the drop-shot with the Reaction Innovation’s Dirty Sanchez or Pro Worm’s 211s-PF. Shad patterns are working best for the plastic worms, and jigs such as Berserk’s Purple Hornet or TNT’s Gold Rush are also effective. Every now and there will be a big fish, and a slow presentation on the bottom is essential.” The reaction bite remains slow, and the fish have dropped in the water column as the water has been rising. The water temperature is in the 51- to 53-degree range, and the clarity ranges from stained to muddy depending upon the location. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sporting Goods added, “During a recent trip, we worked all day long for eight keepers, and compared to New Melones where catching and releasing 4-5 limits is normal, the action is much slower.” For rainbow trout, Monte Smith of Gold Country Sporting Goods will be on the lake this week, but reports of success have been scattered. One boat worked all day for a quality 19-inch rainbow at a depth of 80 feet near Copper Cove. He said, “There have been a number of fish marked near the buoy line, but it is hard to determine if they are bass, king salmon, kokanee, or rainbows.” A barrier debris boom has been installed up the river arm in the Tuolumne River to hold back floating woody debris washed down in 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 and to 725 for the regular ramp. The Fleming Meadows Launch ramp is the only ramp on the lake, but three boats can be launched. The lake rose over 5.5 feet to 701.45 in elevation and 40 percent capacity.
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, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Catfish remain the top species at the lake, and fishermen continue to work near Engineers Point with chicken livers, store-bought salmon, large minnows, or cut baits.” Largemouth bass reports are scarce. There are no trout reports, but the lake will be planted with 9,000 pounds of rainbows during the week of the annual Lake Isabella Trout Derby. Another 5,000 pounds will be 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 four-wheel drive is necessary to put a boat into the lake. The lake rose a half-foot to 2,525.45 in elevation and 6 percent capacity. A few bass are taken on live minnows in the lower river, but there are no reports from the upper river. The local lakes of Ming and RiverWalk are scheduled to be planted with catchable trout every two weeks. The smaller lake at Buena Vista remains solid for trout along with catfish, but the crappie bite is slow. RiverWalk will host the 12th annual Kern County Sheriff’s Activity League Fishing Derby from 8 a.m.-noon Feb. 20, with the fifth annual Bakersfield Fire Fighters Trout Derby and Pancake Breakfast is March 5.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2
There have been reports of large bass landed within the past few weeks on big rainbow trout patterned swimbaits, but the bass bite has slowed with the rapidly rising lake levels. Larry Kerns of the Success Bass Club said, “The water is stained and cold from all of the inflow, and the bass bite has slowed considerably.” A slow presentation with plastics on the drop-shot at depths to 40 feet is the best technique. Live minnows and crawdads also are working for bass. Planted trout are landed on Power Bait with scent along with nightcrawlers from the bank areas near the launch ramp. Small to medium minnows are used for crappie around submerged rocks or structure, but the lake’s waters are covering more and more structure on a daily basis. The lake is rising rapidly, coming up 8 feet to 616.37 in elevation and 17 percent capacity over the past week.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
A trout plant was released last week, and water releases roughly matched inflow. Fishermen are soaking Power Bait with scent or nightcrawlers from the banks for the planted rainbows, and bass fishermen are starting to break out the rainbow-trout patterned swimbaits. The most consistent bass technique remains on the bottom with crankbaits, plastic worms, or jigs on an extremely slow presentation. The lake dropped slightly to 596.10 feet 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 remains very muddy as a result of heavy inflow over the past few weeks. For the first time in several months, the Barrett North and Barrett Cove South launch ramps are open as the lake rose 10 feet to 638.81 in elevation and 13 percent capacity. As a result of the heavily stained water, bass fishing is slow. Maintenance work is being completed on one of the gates at the dam.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
There have a few catfish reported, but trout fishing has been on the slow side. There have been no further trout plants. The lake is muddy from the releases from upstream McClure. The lake is at capacity, but will be releasing water throughout the week. The next trout plant will occur during the week of Feb. 7.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2; Striper 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 2; Trout 2
Millerton Lake has not hosted a tournament in 2016, and there are few scheduled at the lake during the spring. Said Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis: “Bass fishing has been good for some while others are struggling.” Limits in the 7.5- to 9.5-pound range are possible, and the fish are still hugging the bottom at depths to 40 feet in the main lake with shad-patterned leeches or Pro-Gold worms on the drop-shot or with jigs with the best action in the main lake at depths from the banks to 40 feet. Numbers can be found up the river arm, but the size is a concern. There are no striped bass reports. The lake has risen to 40 percent capacity, up 3 feet to 497.49 in elevation. Sycamore Island on the lower San Joaquin reopened Monday. 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.
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, the lake continues to rise , coming up 7 feet to 831.83 in elevation and 16 percent capacity. There have been numbers of fat, chunky spotted bass produced, but the trout bite remains much slower than anticipated. Other than regularly planted lakes such as Amador and Camanche, the trout action has been slow at all Mother Lode reservoirs. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “ Bass fishing is really good for January, and we are catching 4-5 limits of fat spotted bass, and the big largemouth and spots should be coming out in force in the next few weeks. A slow technique on the bottom at depths from 20-50 feet is necessary, and plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, shakey head worms, tubes, or brass and glass are all working, but you have to leave it be for a minute.” On a recent trip, Liechty was specifically targeting trophy bass, but they settled for numerous spots with some fish in the shallows and some in deeper water depending on the bottom structure and water temperature in regions of the lake. It is important to bring along a fizzing needle in order to deflate the bladder for a safe release. For trout, a few planted fish taken from the banks in Glory Hole Cove or near the Highway 49 Bridge with dough bait, a marshmallow/ nightcrawler combination or a power egg/nightcrawler combination on a light wire hook in order to ensure your bait is floating off of the bottom. A few holdovers have been taken, but these are the exception. Trollers are working the main river channel up to Horseshoe Bend with light trolling spoons or minnow-imitation plugs at depths to 15 feet. Catfishing is still slow in the cold water, but Ted Campell of Sonora was able to locate a 12.1-pound whiskerfish in Glory Hole Cove on chicken livers. The crappie bite is slow, but it will improve in the spring. The dam area is still buoyed off to keep out boats during periods of water releases, although the water level is at least 15 feet above the danger zone. The only launch is at Glory Hole Point, with 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. Lake Tulloch is scheduled for trout plants the week of Feb. 7.
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
Bass fishing is showing signs of life at the two largest Central Valley reservoirs, with Pine Flat receiving the majority of action because of recent and upcoming tournament action. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Pine Flat is starting to improve, and anglers are catching a few more fish, but it isn’t red hot by any means.” There was an unusually large limit over 20 pounds weighed in during Saturday’s American Bass Association tournament, with Gary Wasson and his partner putting in a quality largemouth over 10 pounds and a big spot to round out this limit. Swimbaits and umbrella rigs were the top baits for the larger fish. Larry Kerns of the Success Bass Club confirmed the overall selective bite, and they placed fifth in Sunday’s club tournament won by Jerry Williams and Dave Coy at more than 13 pounds. Kerns said, “The conditions were very tough with rain and hail throughout the day on Sunday, and we stuck with drop-shot plastics, but there were fish taken on crankbaits and jigs.” The best action remains on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs at depths to 50 feet. The lake has been rising rapidly, and the fish are suspending in various locations around the lake. Despite the recent trout plants, the trout bite remains slow with trollers struggling. Most local tournaments are centered around Pine Flat, led by last week’s 73-boat Best Bass opener. The lake rose nearly 7 feet to 760.28 in elevation and 20 percent capacity. Trout fishermen are purchasing a few jars of Power Bait for the lower Kings, but reports have been scarce. 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
San Luis Reservoir has risen to 34 percent in capacity after being as low as 18 percent a few months ago, with 11,974 acre-feet pumped into the lake Monday. Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Trollers are scoring keeper-sized stripers running Lucky Craft 128’s in pearl ayu or similar patterns at depths from 80-90 feet on the downrigger near the trash racks and along the rockwall as the pumping has been heavy. Running an S-pattern along the Trash Racks has been good for numbers as well as drifting extra-large or jumbo minnows a few cranks up from the bottom. It doesn’t matter if they are extra-large or jumbos, both sizes are working.” Jon Le was out with his kayak near the trash racks Saturday, but the 9- to 12-mph winds kept him in the cove. He said, “I wasn’t marking any fish, and I trolled an Alabama-rig, a jerkbait, a swimbait, and jigged for only” one keeper. “I went to a live minnow and the rod immediately went off, and after a 20-minute battle, I was able to land a striper at 39.5 inches. I tried to revive the fish, but after the measurement, it didn’t survive.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the bite last Thursday and Friday before the storm hit was very tough. “A good angler I know fished all last Thursday for just one keeper,” George said. “I found the fish were also acting weird on Friday when I took out Tom and Claire Hunt of Los Banos. I had to work like crazy to get a fish here and there, with 12 fish to 24 inches coming from 40-90 feet deep on varying lures and colors. The rising water and storm front made it pretty unstable and the fish weren’t aggressive at all, with most suspending. Most guys were struggling. The Rangers told us that anglers were complaining and that out of seven other boats, fourth struck out and the other three only got three fish between them that day! It’s a new day out there every day right now, but I expect it to break out soon.” In the O’Neill Forebay, the water is muddy and cold with heavy pumping out of the Delta into the main lake. Clements said most stripers are on the small size ranging from undersized to barely legal. When the water is pumping at Check 12, action has been good with cut baits. The other productive area is the channel at the Highway 152 Bridge with fishermen casting out as far as possible to take advantage of the swift water in the channel.
Call: Coyote Bait andTackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com (559) 905-2954
Bass 2; Trout 2; Kokanee 1
The lake rose slightly to 59 percent capacity; vessels can be easily launched at the public ramp. Other than bank fishermen trying for crappie with crappie jigs, there have been few other reports of bass or trout. There have been no rainbow trout planted into the lake this year.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Brown trout 2; Trout 2
The high country along Kaiser Pass continues to receive snow, with access limited to those on snowmobile. The lakes are still very low, with Edison at 4 percent and Florence at 7 percent. The lower-elevation Mammoth Pool rose to 24 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 1; Trout 2
Snow has been the main feature on the lake with the recent snowstorms keeping boats sidelined. The launch ramp can be monitored via webcam at sierramarina.com. Before the latest storm, one boat picked up eight rainbows running blade/crawler combinations at 10-15 feet in Stevenson Bay. The recent plant of 9-and 10-inch rainbows are hitting around the dam and the Point, and these fish should grow to 11-12 inches by midsummer. In addition to planting thousands of pounds of trophy trout into the lake during the spring months, the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will be conducting a seminar at Herb Bauer Sporting Goods in Fresno at 6 p.m. Feb. 25. Speakers include Mike O’Connell on jigging and still boat fishing for rainbows, Lee Gates on night fishing, Bob Bernier on his secrets for smallmouth bass, Nichols on 2015 results from 128 guided trips on the lake during the past year, and kokanee tackle innovator Captain Jack Yandell on his pointers for kokanee fishing and the third-year kokanee. There also will be a discussion of the status of the upcoming trophy plants. At Huntington, with heavy snows having fallen on the region, few, if any, fishermen are braving the conditions. Shaver held at 62 percent capacity with Huntington holding at 41 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, and the road to both lake is closed. The rainbows will be holding over until the road opens once again during the springtime.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
The pattern of big waves and swell continued through the past weekend, and boats have been tied up to the harbor. The recreational Dungeness season has yet to open, and it appears that the closure will continue well into February and possibly beyond. The Huli Cat out of Pillar Point Harbor is the only party boat running fishing trips for sand dabs, but they haven’t been out in over a week. Captain Roger Thomas of the Salty Lady has started whale watching trips for the Oceanic Society. The Queen of Hearts out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing was also out on whale watching, and all local boats will be out with passengers in the event the Titans of Mavericks is held. Interested passengers are advised to sign up for the email list at www.fishingboat.com/mavericks.html; notification will be sent out if the event is scheduled. The competition is held on a 48-hour notice, and interested passengers will be added to the boats on a first-come, first-served basis. The Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest is March 12. Although the event is in Santa Cruz, fishermen are able to work the San Mateo coast. The big swell and surf of the past few weeks will only enhance the opportunities for perch fishermen.
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
The Check Mate out of Chris’ Landing in Monterey went out for sand dabs and mackerel Friday for bucketloads of both species, but they weren’t out over the weekend. They will be running these trips based on interest and weather. Mickey Clements at Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported good action for perch from the beaches when the swell is down. The swell was big over the weekend, but fishermen have been scoring barred surf perch to 2.5 pounds using jumbo blood worms cut into 2.5-inch strips. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing said, “A break in the weather and smaller swells provided Monterey Bay anglers with much-needed opportunities to hit the beach this week. Surfcasting for perch is getting better with more, and bigger fish being reported caught. One of the best aspects of surf perching on Monterey Bay is the amount of sandy space we anglers have to enjoy. Exploring new spots or hiking a mile or two down the beach away from the parking lot guarantees not only solitude but the opportunity to find the perfect beach structure that holds feeding perch.” Marina fisherman Robert Lonsinger usually fishes toward the Monterey side of the bay, and has reaped rewards lately with a strategy of extended hikes and starting early. Lonsinger targets the bigger holes and inside troughs on beaches towards the middle of the bay. Even when the waves are big, these spots can produce well. “I think perching has been good everywhere. (I look for) lots of big holes and rougher water. I think only the big fish can deal with it.” On Wednesday, he retained a near-limit of big barred surfperch, with the largest measuring 15 inches, pretty much the upper end of BSP size. A new swell is forecast to move in this weekend, with waves in the eight- to 10-foot range. The big swell this weekend is likely to deposit more sand in the Santa Cruz Harbor entrance. This week, the Harbor dredge operations were able to clear enough of a channel that a few boats transited the Harbor entrance. The 12th annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby is accepting entries for its March 12 event. Entries are available at Bayside Marine in the Santa Cruz Harbor and sandcrabclassic.com. Deadline is Monday. Proceeds go to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Derby coordinator Mike Baxter expects a full roster of 300 anglers again this year.
Call: Chris’ Landing(831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Striper 2; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 3
Sturgeon fishing has been the story in San Pablo Bay. George Lu of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito said: “Sturgeon fishing is No. 1 from the Pumphouse to the Mothball Fleet.” There was a herring spawn at the Ferry Pier in the Richmond on Thursday morning, and although the herring spawns were thick over a week ago, a second wave of herring moved it. Lu said, “I thought the spawns were over, but we had a big run on cast nets in the morning for the herring.” A sturgeon was landed from the Eckley Pier in Crockett at night with an eel/pile worm combination. They have live pile worms and ghost shrimp in the shop along with plenty of frozen eel and salmon roe, and the bait will be distributed on first-come, first-serve basis over this coming derby weekend. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley wants to celebrate Saturday before the Super Bowl with sturgeon fishing and some fresh sturgeon. He said, “The tides are great for next weekend.” Big winds hampered the bay Sunday, with some big gusts moving through the area. The sturgeon are also on the move in response to herring spawns in the central bay. Small striped bass are abundant in San Pablo Bay, but there were few boats out in the heavy winds over the weekend. In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported an improved sturgeon bite from the Brazos Bridge south to the Highway 37 Bridge with shrimpbaits or eel. Striper fishing has slowed considerably with the muddy water.
San Luis Obispo
Surf perch fishing is the top draw for valley anglers, and Carlos Villanueva of Bakersfield brought in two huge barred surf perch at 3.3 and 2.4 pounds to Bob’s Bait Bucket. Hw landed his limit of perch on blood worms off Pismo Beach. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, they will be running some nature cruises on the weekend; 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. 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.
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 3; Striper 2; Sturgeon 3; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
The 10th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Derby out of Martinez led off the first of four major sturgeon tournaments that will launch the derby season, with more than 100 youths among the 500-plus fishermen participating. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing, the event organizer, said, “The 10th annual Diamond Classic Catch & Release Sturgeon Derby was another great success. We had 374 adult entries and 129 kids participated this year. Three hundred and seventy-four fishermen resulted in $9,350 being distributed to the top seven places, and there were 39 legal sturgeon caught and released along with 42 shakers, and eight oversized.” Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing had an epic day on his boat, the Top Gun, during Saturday’s derby with three keeper sturgeon, an oversized, and a shaker for three tickets into the prize lottery. After the success of the Diamond Classic, the Foundation Sportsmen’s Club (aka Original Sturgeon Derby) event starts Friday. Anglers are advised to procure their bait well in advance as live bait remains in short supply. The minus tides should bring out an even better sturgeon bite. Andy Doudna, organizer of the upcoming Addathon Iron Man Sturgeon Derby out of Pittsburg reported, “Sturgeon fishing has greatly improved over the last few weeks for a few key reasons. The water temperatures are on the rise for the most part, well into 53-54 degrees from 45-47 degrees. We’re also seeing a good mix of fresh water into the system from the recent rains pushing out the saltwater. The grass on the bottom has been on the decline in the west part of the Delta the past week which is helping the sturgeon bite. Salmon Roe and lamprey eel/nightcrawler combinations still seem to be the big producers, and with the water getting diry, adding oil scent will enhance the scent trail. Sturgeon fishing has been good throughout the delta from north of Rio Vista to Mothball Fleet, and particular hot spots are Montezuma Slough, Suisun Slough, the Mothball Fleet, and Sherman Island.” Doudna was a participant in the Diamond Classic, and they released a 65-incher in Montezuma Slough a few minutes before the final whistle. The next Addathon Iron Man Derby is March 19-20. Pam Hayes of Benicia Bait reported live grass shrimp will be in short supply over the derby weekend, but Curtis Hayes has been picking up a few pounds here and there and keeping it for those who have reserved bait. Do Doung of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported windy and rough conditions limited anglers Sunday, but sturgeon have been coming into the shop on a regular basis with the top areas the Big Cut, Decker Island, and Buoy 33. Rio Vista Bait reported the best sturgeon fishing has been taking place upriver in Prospect Slough or near the Sherman Island Power Lines with eel, salmon roe, pile worms, or ghost shrimp. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley reported very good sturgeon fishing with all baits. He said, “If you put a hook in the water on the bottom with anything on it, chances are you will catch a sturgeon.” In the upper river, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle said, “Sturgeon have been coming in every day, and bank fishermen are using weights from 12-16 ounces in order to keep down on the bottom in the fast moving water. The water is muddy, and the bottom is loaded with leaves, so using scent is very important.” Boaters need to take extra caution while motoring under the Three Mile Slough Bridge as the clearance is much lower because of construction crews running rigging across the entire bottom length, with rows of pipes hanging down. The San Joaquin River has been slow overall for striped bass and sturgeon, but largemouth bass fishermen are spending most of their time in the eastern and southern portions of the Delta with good opportunities for success. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, advised searching for clear water and working slow with plastics or ripbaits. He said, “The water is warming up after these warm days this week, and the tree frogs are already out so we may be onto an early spring.” He will be out next week on the Delta, and he plans on using a slow and methodical approach. Added Mathisen: “In Discovery Bay, a 32-pound largemouth bass limit was taken during last weekend’s American Bass tournament by Zach Thompson and John Billheimer with the larger fish taken on swimbaits or Alabama rigs in the clearer water. The water temperatures have warmed up into the 50s, and the bite is getting started with most largemouth fishermen sticking with either jigs or spinnerbaits slow-rolled along ledges near flats.” Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento found excellent bass action in the east Delta with fish to 7 pounds. He said, “You have to find clear water, and the Delta from Mildred out is clear, and we scored with Lucky Craft Pointer 100 ripbaits on a slow presentation.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service confirmed the improved action, stating, “Fishing is improving with each day. Water temps hovering around 53-55.”
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 3; White bass 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
Nacimiento and Lopez remain the only coastal lakes where boats can be launched from a ramp. The Salinas Valley Bass Club held a small tournament at the lake Saturday, and the action for small spotted bass is solid with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs on a dead-stick presentation. San Antonio remains closed as a result of extremely low water conditions at the lake. San Antonio remains at 3 percent capacity while Nacimiento has risen steadily to 22 percent. The launch ramp at Lopez is anticipated to remain open for the remainder of the season, and there are several tournaments on the lake during February. The bass bite is tough with the best action on plastics or Senkos on a finesse presentation. Santa Margarita is rising, but it is still less than 15 percent of capacity. The marina store is open for supplies and rental vessels. A finesse presentation is also necessary with jigs, plastics, or spoons. Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
- 10th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Derby on Saturday out of Martinez: 1, Robert Beard
- Benicia, 45 inches, $3,272.50; 2, Harold Taylor, Elk Grove, 50, $2,337.50; 3, Anthony Crifasi, Martinez, 41, $1,870.00; 4, Henry Perez, Martinez, 41, $467.50; 5, Doug Lepebosa, Alamo, 54, $467.50, 6, Virginia Salvador-Dickinson, Vacaville, 58, $467.50; 7, Sean Laine, Orangeville, 55, $467.50
- Saturday: American Bass Association at Delta/Russo’s Marina; Kerman Bass Club/Sonora Bass Anglers at Don Pedro; Visalia Bass Club at Kaweah; American Bass Association/Golden Empire Bass Club at Nacimiento; Taft Bass Club at Lopez
- Saturday-Sunday: Roosevelt High Bass Fishers at McClure; Orange County Bass Club at Lopez
- Feb. 13: Angler’s Press at New Melones; Best Bass Tournaments at Pine Flat; Bakersfield Bass Club at Kaweah; Best Bass Tournaments at Nacimiento
- Feb. 14: Kings VIII Bass Club at Pine Flat
- Feb. 20: Tracy Bass Club at Delta/Tracy Oasis; Best Bass Tournaments/Kerman Bass Club at Don Pedro; Sierra Bass Club at McClure; Kern County Bassmasters at Pine Flat; The 12th annual Kern County Sheriff Activity League Fishing Derby at The Park at the Riverwalk; Tri-Valley Bass Club at Nacimiento
- Feb. 21: Fresno Bass Club at McClure
- Feb. 27: Christian Bass League at Delta/Ladd’s Marina; Bass Anglers of Northern California at Delta/Russo’s Marina; Angler’s Press at New Melones; American Bass Association at Kaweah; San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers at Lopez
- March 5: Fifth annual Bakersfield Fire Fighters Trout Derby and Pancake Breakfast at The Park at the Riverwalk
- March 19: Best Bass Tournament at New Melones
- Fresno County: Avocado Lake; Woodward Park Lake; Kings River, below Pine Flat Dam
- Madera County: Sycamore Island Pond
n = new moon > = peak activity