Fishing report: Week of March 28
Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a central San Joaquin Valley native and local fishing expert.
New Melones bass fishing has improved, Melanie Lewis said. Eastman bass are hitting, and trout bite is good too, Patrick Movey reported. Southern Aqueduct stripers are biting, Pete Cormier said. Pine Flat king salmon are breaking out, Merritt Gilbert reported. Success bass action is “excellent” Larry Kerns said. McClure bass are back on track, Manny Basi reported. Coastal lakes are kicking out big bass, big weights for tournaments.
I finally got through my seven-day Quagga mussel quarantine from San Luis Reservoir — the one I wrote about last week — but there is now more to the story. It all started when my wife and I decided to go to Monterey. Stopping at a service station on Highway 152, Elaine asked if we could go up to the reservoir and I could show her where I usually go fishing and possibly see the elk herd, too.
As we drove up the hill to the Basalt Ranger/Inspection Station, I laughingly pointed out to her that that was the scene of the crime for my quarantine. Pulling up to the station, two younger women I had never seen before asked what I wanted to do, and I told them I just wanted to drive to the Basalt ramp to look around. As they handed me a 15-minute free pass, the inspector who had tagged me for my quarantine appeared from around the corner — with a big smile on her face. “Sir, did you ever get your bilge dried out last week?” she asked.
Surprised, and pinned like a butterfly to the wall in front of the other two women and my wife, I could only laugh and tell her, yes, I had done some soul searching on the way home and thought I had it figured out. “I knew when the water came out of the bilge and I saw your face go pale, that you couldn’t believe it and that it was unexpected,” she said. “Sorry I had to tag you.”
Feeling uncomfortable, I told her that she had directly asked me during the inspection if I would write about the incident and her. I had said “maybe.” But now I came clean and confessed I had written a column about the situation. Talking fast, I said, I had been very fair to her — writing she was very nice and just doing her job. Grease always helps!
With a big grin, she told me she had read it. Yikes — busted again! Obviously, she had pegged me the minute she saw me drive up. How lucky can a guy get?
One of the younger women then piped in, asking me if I knew what the real issue was, and I told her I didn’t know. She told me that the women inspectors were tougher than the men, and that they had had many anglers complain that they were much pickier. I couldn’t argue that point.
While I had the chance, I asked why they let in cars and shore anglers without any inspection? “Theoretically, I could drive right in with a 5-gallon bucket full of Quaggas, pull down to the lake and dump ‘em in, without it alarming anyone,” I said. She agreed and said that’s something they are still trying to figure out.
As an aside, anglers are also asking about what happens when it rains. It seems from my own and others’ experiences so far, they will still sometimes check the livewells to see if they are dry, but the rest of the inspection is usually overlooked at that point if it’s been raining. It’s a good idea to call if in doubt because, the way I read it, the regulations say you can’t launch the red-tagged quarantined vessel on any water for seven days!
So, I guess I’m on the hit list now, but it’s probably turning out to be for a good cause if it keeps a few of you from singing the “Quagga Blues” too!
Roger George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Try dynamite
** Have to work hard
*** Limits possible
**** Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal
Striper *** Catfish **
More and more Fresno area anglers are heading to the Aqueduct to soak anchovies, but reports of success continue to be scarce. In the south aqueduct near Taft, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The action has been killer” with linesides to 20 pounds taken on live jumbo minnows. Bob’s sold out of jumbo minnows within a day over the weekend due to high demand for the aqueduct. “Minnows will almost guarantee you fish,” he said. Blood and sand worms and various lures also are working, but the best quality of fish are taken on the live minnows.
Bass *** Trout *** Bluegill ** Catfish ***Crappie **
Eastman continues to be the top bass lake in the region with good numbers and quality of bass available. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun landed 20 bass to 4.5 pounds in 6 hours while working the bottom with Bassectomy plastics or Robo Worms in dark colors on a drop-shot or Texas-rig at depths to 25 feet. Gilbert said, “All of our fish were found on the bottom.” Gilbert witnessed trout trollers stopping frequently to net fish, and Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse touted the area around the Buoy Line with Kastmasters, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler, or Speedy Shiners. Bank fishing is fair from the access areas. The Lakeview Trail is open between the Codorniz Recreation Area and Raymond Bridge, but the area of the lake extending upstream along the Chowchilla River is closed beyond the buoy line. The lake is at 560.08 feet in elevation and 71% capacity
Call: : Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass *** Trout ** Catfish ** Crappie **
The reaction bite is picking up with spinnerbaits, ripbaits or crankbaits producing bass ranging from 1 to 1.25 pounds, although some huge fish over 9 pounds were landed during the recent New J Bass Club tournament. Working the bottom with drop-shotting, Brush Hogs or jigs are the most productive techniques, but the larger fish are taken on reaction lures. The crappie bite is steady, but the fish are holding in deeper water, and a boat is necessary to reach the submerged structure. Bank action for crappie is slow. Fin-S-fish, Crappie Stingers, minijigs or small minnows are working. Trout fishing remains decent from the banks at the Swim Beach with Power Bait, Kastmasters or night crawlers, and trollers are picking up the planters with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler. The lake is at 501.32 feet and 44%.
Call: : Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, Clovis 292-3474; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass *** Trout ** Kokanee ** King salmon ***
The trout/salmon action has fluctuated with the weather conditions, and Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported excellent fishing on a mid-week trip only to resort to working very hard to put in two limits of planters over the weekend. He has been trolling heavy spoons on lead core, and he predicted the bite would explode once the water temperature warms up a few more degrees. The temperatures are in the 54- to 55-degree range in open water. He added that kokanee are showing up in isolated schools at depths from 20 to 40 feet. Danny Layne of Fishn’ Dan’s Guide Service confirmed the influence of the weather on the bite, but he put clients Cole and Michael Mill onto mixed limits of king salmon and rainbow trout to 4 pounds using Uncle Larry’s spinners, Apex lures or blade/crawler combinations at depths from 5 to 25 feet for the trout and rolling shad, pink/blue Wee Tads, or 4-inch Apex lures at depths from 65 to 95 feet for the king salmon. Layne has been trolling in Fleming Bay and off the face of the Dam. Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures continues to focus on king salmon, and he consistently has taken limits to 2.5 pounds trolling ExCel spoons in green with black spots up the river arm at depths from 80 to 100 feet in depth. Jay Graham of the Fresno Bass Club reported a solid bass bite during Sunday’s club derby with an occasional fish taken on reaction baits such as umbrella rigs, but the most consistent action was on the bottom with jigs or drop-shot, dart-head, split-shot or Texas-rig plastics in various colors, He said, “The fish are really ready to spawn, and we found temperatures as high as 59.5 degrees in the shallows while prefishing.” Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford confirmed the fish moving up into the shallows, particularly on the warmer afternoons. The lake is at 785.52 feet and 75%.
Call: : Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; The Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass *** Trout *** Crappie ** Catfish **** Bluegill **
The fever pitch is building for the coming Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby with campers lining the shorelines starting this past weekend. Applications are available at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce office and several local merchants in the Kern River Valley, as well as in Bakersfield. Online registration ends 9 p.m. today at isabellafishingderby.com/. Trollers have been getting in on the act with Bruce Bryant of Bakersfield and friends scoring a total of seven rainbows to 4 pounds using a combination of Needlefish, silver Kastmasters and PPK Tomahawk spinners in chartreuse sparkle behind a set of small blade at three colors of lead core. Bank fishing is best around Paradise Cove, the Auxiliary Dam and along the southern shoreline of the lake. The entire area will be jam packed with fishermen and campers for one of the largest fishing derbies in the nation this weekend. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said bass fishermen have been quiet due to upcoming tournaments, but experienced fishermen are catching fish. He said, “This is a good time for umbrella rigs or jigs, and the crank bait and spinnerbait bite should turn on soon.” A few catfish can be found, but trout are by far and away the top draw. Crappie fishing has been slow. The lake is at 2,560.38 feet in elevation and 30% capacity. The lower river remains excellent for planted trout and the occasional trophy to 4 pounds with live crickets, night crawlers, salmon eggs or plastic worms along the access areas at Democrat Beach, Rich Bar, Sandy Flats or Borel Road. The upper and lower rivers are scheduled for trout plants this week. Cormier said, “The large trout on the lower river are a beautiful color with clear tails.”At Buena Vista, fishing action is limited to a few bass on Senkos or live minnows. The crappie bait has slowed, and trout fishing is at a standstill. The local reservoirs are producing planted rainbows due to the heavy plants, and the best fishing occurs within a couple days of the plants with Berkley Mice Tails or Power Bait in garlic and Chunky Cheese. A few bass are starting to show up. The Bakersfield Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a trout derby at the River Walk on Saturday.
Call: : Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass *** Crappie *** Trout *** Catfish **
Sierra Sport Fishing in Exeter reported very good action for trout, bass, and crappie within the past week. The recent trout plant along the second Launch Ramp has improved trout fishing with various colors of Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. Several limits in the 14- to 15-inch range have been landed. Bass fishing is improving as the fish continue to move up toward the banks. Live minnows or crawdads are effective with artificials such as Brush Hogs, lizards or Senkos working in the shallows. They sold out of small minnows within two days due to high demand for the improved crappie bite in the submerged trees or around the Houseboats. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said Fresno area families have been heading south to target crappie at Kaweah. The lake is at 640.61 feet in elevation and 31%.
Call: : Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5922
Bass **** Trout *** Catfish **
Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club prefished the lake this week, and he reported excellent bass action with drop-shotting, Senkos or umbrella rigs with the majority of fish holding in the trees. He said, “There are isolated bed fish, but there were plenty of fish being caught.” He described the bass as little torpedoes, as the bass are chunky in the 1.5- to 2-pound range. Trout fishermen continue to line up on the Rocky Hill side of the lake with various colors of Power Bait, night crawlers or Kastmasters. The Tule Point south and Rocky Hill launch ramps are open, but the best access remains at Rocky Hill. The lake is at 623.83 feet and 40%.
Call: : Lake Success 784-0215
Bass *** Trout ** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie *** Catfish **
Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported an improved bite for big bass at Don Pedro and McClure, and he advised large baits such as the Huddleston ROF 12 swimbait in light trout or the ABT Multi-rig loaded with Reaction Innovation’s 4-inch Skinny Dippers in Bad Shad Green at depths from 6 to 10 feet during the warm afternoon temperatures or from 20 to 30 feet early in the mornings. Basi added that brown jigs with a green pumpkin trailer or the Berserk Bait Mad Shad swimbait in light Holographic shad or Smoking Shad rigged on a Blade Runner Spintrix quarter-ounce jig head are effective. Diana Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling confirmed the good bass bite with more slot fish taken on artificials, large minnows or crawdads. King salmon have been found at depths from 95 to 110 feet in the Cottonwood area or near McClure Point with rolled shad or spoons. Crappie action is on the upswing with families arriving to purchase six to seven dozen small minnows at a time. Yosemite Lake near Merced is scheduled for a trout plant next week. The lake is at 806.06 feet and 64% capacity.
Call: : A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Inclement weather limited the number of fishermen over the weekend, and the best action remains from the banks at the Handicapped Docks, the Brush Pile or the points by the Marina with garlic or garlic/chartreuse Power Bait. Diana Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling reported trollers picked up limits to 2 pounds with Rapalas or Roostertails tipped with a night crawler at depths to 15 feet in the upper portion of the reservoir from the Chimney to the Floating Restrooms.
Call: : McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass *** Striper ** Shad *
Few anglers continue to target Millerton; however, Merritt Gilbert said, “There is a good bite for numbers with 25 to 30 fish days possible, and the quality is similar to Pine Flat with a 7.5- to 8-pound limit being the norm. Working the bottom with jigs, drop-shotting or split-shotting plastics are the top techniques, but an occasional larger fish is taken on either umbrella rigs or swimbaits. Three limits over 9 pounds were landed during Saturday’s sparsely attended Western Rookie League tournament. No striper report. The lake is at 523.53 feet and 56% with the launch on the second Ramp. The lower San Joaquin continues to be planted, and catchable trout are found at the normal spots of Lost Lake or the Broken Bridge with Kastmasters, Roostertails, orange Power Bait or night crawlers.
Call: : Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass *** Crappie ** Catfish ** Trout ** Kokanee **
Melanie Lewis at Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported a fair trout bite due to the inclement weather in the past week. Bank anglers have been scoring with night crawlers, Power Bait, or night crawler/marshmallow combinations, but the fish are moving into deeper water. Lewis advised using multiple colors of Power Bait on a single hook to attract the fish. The trolling action has been best due to the fish moving off the banks. Kokanee fishing is just around the corner with guide Gary Burns of Take It To the Limit Guide Service landing a limit to 13.5 inches trolling chrome or blue Shasta Tackle Sling Blades with a pink Glitterbug micro hootchie tipped with shoepeg corn scented with garlic at depths form 13 to 20 feet in the main lake. Bass fishing has been good as the fish are moving into the shallows. The spotted bass are in pre-spawn, and are being taken from depths from 20 to 45 feet with Zoom Baby Brush Hogs on a Carolina-rig or 6-inch Robo Worms on a Texas-rig. Lewis added natural colored plastics in green pumpkin or watermelon to the mix. Glory Hole employees John Liechty and Hank Baxter caught and released over 20 fish on a recent afternoon trip working main lake points and shallow coves with jigs or soft plastics. Catfishing remains fair, and the fish are starting to move up as the water continues to warm up. Lewis added this is prime time for crappie fishing as the fish are staging for the spring spawn. She advised targeting standing timber, willow trees and water inlets at depths from 15 to 25 feet with Beetle Spins, small minnows, red worms or mealworms on a slip-float rig. The lake is at 1050.72 feet and 82%. Anglers should mark their calendars for the Glory Hole Sporting Goods Annual Seminars on April 14 with numerous local guides presenting on trout, kokanee, and bass. Information: gloryholesports.com
Call: : Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass ** Trout ** King salmon *** Catfish **
King salmon action has turned on with trollers scoring fish in the 15- to 17-inch range pulling hootchies, Excels, Speeding Shiners or rolling shad at depths to 80 feet in the main lake. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There are some salmon up the river arm, and these fish are higher in the water column but are smaller.” Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The king salmon are coming up in the water column, and some fish have been found as high as 40 feet with depth. Trollers have been speeding up to 2.25 mph and above as the fish are chasing shad.” Trout fishing remains decent with the best cut of fish in the main lake around Zebe Creek, Lefevre Creek or the Power Lines with rainbows in the 17- to 18-inch range. The bass bite is fair, but the reaction bite hasn’t kicked in, although the bass are moving into the shallows in the late afternoons. Gilbert said, “Most guys are still pounding the bottom at depths to 20 feet with Senkos, jigs, drop-shotting or dart-heading plastics.” A 7.5- to 8-pound limit is possible. The lake is at 881.02 feet and 63%. The lower river continues to be planted, and Roostertails, Power Bait or night crawlers are picking up planters and the occasional trophy-sized rainbows. Avocado Lake is popular for bank fishermen with Power Bait or crawlers, and a plant is scheduled for this week.
Call: : Doyal’s General Store 787-2387; Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper ** Catfish ** Bass * Crappie **
The Forebay has been the more productive location in the past week, although the majority of fish range from undersized to barely-legal. Ly Tu at Ly’s Fishing Goods in San Jose said, “The action is best under the bridge in the Forebay with jumbo minnows, pile worms or anchovies.” Patrick Movey said trollers continue to score with Yozuri plugs in various locations. In the main lake, boaters are drifting jumbo minnows in the normal locations of Portuguese Cove and the Trash Racks, but the action is hit or miss. There is a small window for top-water action or with rip baits in low light conditions, and trollers are finding the fish deep in the water column. Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said, “If you can find a school, you will catch fish.” Bank fishing in the main lake is best near Dinosaur Point with pile worms, blood worms or anchovies. The main lake is at 86% capacity.
Important note: All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo a mandatory inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels. These invasive species threaten recreational opportunities, the water delivery infrastructure of California and the aquatic habitat of San Luis Reservoir. Failure to allow inspection will result in the refusal to launch.
Call: : Ly’s Fishing Goods (408) 629-9644; Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711
Bass ** Trout *** King salmon *
The water levels continue to rise, and the public launch ramp should be accessible for small boats by Friday. Miller’s Landing is opening Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service is planning on putting his boat in the water Friday, weather permitting. He said rainbow trout to 14 inches have been taken on either blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a crawler behind a dodger near the surface in the dam area. Wittwer will be at the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno at 6:15 p.m. Thursday to give seminar on Bass Lake trout and kokanee techniques. The 32nd annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby is May 5-6 with the possibility to land a $25,000 rainbow trout, 150 tagged trout worth $100, and 849 trout worth $20. Registration fees are $25/individual or $60/family. Entry forms and rules are available at basslakechamber.com/. A trout plant is scheduled this week. The lake is rising, and it is at 46% capacity.
There are two scheduled quarry blasts this week: one was Tuesday, the second is 3:45 p.m. Friday. A blasting schedule should be updated every Friday and is available at cranevalleydam.com/blasting-schedule.
Call: : Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
The gate at Kaiser Pass is closed, but an early opening is expected. Vermilion Valley Resort at Lake Edison is planning quad trips starting April 12-13 if there is interest, and the cost is $389 for two nights and $489 for three-night trips. The lakes remain high for this time of year, but they are starting to drop with Edison at 39%, Florence 15%, Mammoth Pool 59% and Redinger 91%.
Call: : Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee * Trout **
Snowfall in the high country has postponed the planting of trout at Shaver, but the good news is the lake is half full, and the water has reached the end of the county ramp at the Sierra Marina. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “A few hardy bank anglers braved the snow, cold and breeze Saturday before the round of storms; however, their success, if any, was unknown. The trophy plants are coming within the next several weeks, and Shaver Lake will be the place to be with the abundance of trophy-sized fish.” By the summer, up to 80,000 rainbows will have been planted in Shaver to go with an additional 50,000 to 70,000 fingerling kokanee which will mature by 2014. Interested fishermen can keep track the lake’s progress at the webcam at Sierramarina.com/. Captain Jack Yandell and Nichols will be at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis on Saturday at 1 p.m. Longtime Shaver Lake resident Lee Gates will present a historic slideshow. Yandell and Nichols also will be using the slideshow in their presentation. The slideshow includes current photos of Shaver along with photos from the late 1800s. Nichols will provide photos of the lake bottom, cover the hot fishing spots, and what it takes to catch trophy-sized trout. Yandell, Shaver Lake’s resident kokanee expert, will review the progress of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project with a slideshow of last year’s caught trophy trout, his recommendations on catching big fish and the use of the down riggers. Valley Rod will be holding a No Tax Sale for the seminar, and there will be a large raffle. The snows have put Huntington out of commission for the time being, Shaver is at 53%, Huntington 67%.
Call: : Dick’s Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Young’s Sporting Goods 841-8271; Jack Yandell 841-2522; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740
Gates to Wishon and Courtright are awaiting a spring date to reopen.
Call: : Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
The salmon opener is only a few weeks away, and Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete had a good report on finding bait in the area of the Deep Reef during Saturday’s whale watching trip, stating, “It only takes a day or two to turn around as there is pile after pile of bait at depths from 90 to 140 feet 8 miles southeast of the harbor.” He added, “I assume that they are anchovies, and there is ball after ball after ball of bait in the really dark water.” That should get someone excited about the upcoming salmon opener. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is putting the final touches on cosmetic repair on the boat, and he will be taking a crab/sand dab combination trip Friday. He had seen the bait out in deeper water on a previous trip, so it appears the schools of bait have moved in closer to shore. Mattusch and Baxter have plenty of room for the salmon opener on April 7 and also throughout April. A bit further north, Sheryl Jimno at the Rusty Hook in Pacifica said the weather has put a damper on fishing, but striped bass and surf perch are showing up along the beaches, primarily with bait.
Call: : Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Huck Finn Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman, (510) 703-4148
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing said the weather forecasts put the damper on fishing over the weekend, as the forecast
Call: ed for a big swell and high winds that didn’t materialize Saturday or Sunday. Their trip Friday reaped 10 limits of Dungeness crab and plenty of sand dabs. Their next combination trips will be today, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They are booked solid the first two Saturdays of the salmon season on April 7 and 14, but they have room on April 21 as well as throughout April. He said, “There was krill in the bay for a few days, and the sardines moved in briefly, but anchovies have been scarce.” They haven’t traveled in weeks up to Moss Landing and above, where Monterey boats traditionally run for salmon at the start of the season. Arcoleo said, “If there are any fish at all, it will be great.”Over 250 participants fished for surf perch at the Sand Crab Classic won by 17-year-old Justin Morris of Alameda with a rubberlip perch weighing in at an astonishing 2 pounds, 13 ounces and measuring 17 9/16 inches. Morris caught the fish in the kelp beds near Monterey. Ly Tu of Ly’s Fishing Goods reported surf perch to 2.25 pounds have been taken off Reservation Road near Marina or South Sunset Beach in Aptos with sand crabs or Berkley Sand Worms.
Call: : Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Halibut ** Striper ** Leopard shark ** Sturgeon **
The big news is the anticipated salmon opener April 7, and boats from the Bay Area fleet are taking reservations for then and days beyond. The crabs are still a plague in San Pablo Bay as evidenced by this report from Jim Cox of the Touch of Gray out of Loch Lomond Marina:
“I gave up on feeding San Pablo bay crabs ‘Loch Lomond Bait’ and made the run to Suisun Bay on Friday. What a difference, no crabs so bait stayed on the hook longer than 10 minutes. We dropped anchor near the Mothball Fleet after a 90 minute run from Loch Lomond, and the outgoing tide was moving quite nicely. My charter of sturgeon rookies did manage to miss a couple of bites through the morning. As the tide slowed, Henry Lane of Sacramento set the hook on a nice 49-inch male fish. The sturgeon took an eel bait. We moved down closer to the Benicia Bridge for the incoming tide, but we only managed a flounder through the rest of the day. It was well worth the time and distance to avoid crabs and put a fish in the boat!”
Joel Sinkay of Leonard’s Bait in Port Sonoma confirmed the heavy crab activity in San Pablo Bay. In response to the number of crabs, Brad Hood of BH Guide Service went to the Napa River on Sunday morning for a 58-inch sturgeon. Hood left Leonard’s at 6:30 a.m., and he was back by 8:45 a.m. for a picture after burning his second sturgeon tag of the season. Hood was quoted as saying, “They were stacked up like cord wood in the Napa.” Sinkay added shore anglers are picking up striper on grass shrimp from the Port Sonoma banks. Leonard’s is running an April-long fishing derby during April with a target length for striped bass and sturgeon to be announced Sunday. The closest fish to the target wins with prizes through fifth place in both categories, and the fish must be measured at Leonard’s Bait by an employee. The derby will end at noon April 29 with a pig roast BBQ. Sinkay reported a solid bass bite on the Petaluma River, but boaters need to be careful coming into the bait shop slough at low tide with the thick mud and narrow channel. Captain Frank Miller on the Fury waded through the tiny Dungeness to put in a pair of legal sturgeon in the box Saturday. Also in San Pablo Bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael predicted crab will leave the bay within a week with all the fresh water flows from recent storms. The crab problem is improving, but the top or bottom of the tides are still loaded with the bait stealers. He expects to have live mud shrimp by the weekend, but in the interim, they have fresh frozen mud shrimp. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker had his group get cold feet Saturday and cancel due to the forecasts. He said, “The weather wasn’t bad Saturday, and it is even better on Sunday.” He is planning sturgeon trips this weekend before heading outside the Gate for the salmon opener April 7. In the south bay, Captain Don Franklin of Soleman Sport Fishing went trolling for halibut off the Alameda Rockwall on Sunday morning for an hour before pulling the plug to put some other more willing species in the boat. He said, “The water looked good, but there was no one home.” They sat on the anchor with squid for a pair of legal leopard sharks, a shaker Seven-Gill and a plethora of bat rays. John Akina at Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli said, “There have been few boats launched here over the weekend with the weather conditions, but a few striper are showing up off the Sierra Park Pier in Brisbane or the Brisbane Tubes.” A 28-inch halibut was taken from the Genentech shoreline, but the Oyster Point Pier is limited to jack smelt or surf perch. The area waters have been on the muddy side.
San Luis Obispo
Both ports are planning trips for the April 7 salmon opener, and Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis is offering salmon trips for $84/angler. In the meantime, Patriot is running sand dab/crab combination trips on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and April 4 and 6 for $60/adult, $45/children under 15 with whale watching/nature trips on Saturday, Sunday and April 7. The rockfish opener is May 1, and Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay is offering a 10% charter discount for early booking. The third annual Morro Bay Whale Photo Tour will be on board Sunday with a 9 a.m. departure. Please check morrophotoexpo.com/ to view photographs, workshops and more. Bob’s Bait Bucket in Bakersfield and Papa’s Jigs are hosting a rockfish tournament May 11.
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 *** Striper *** Sturgeon *** Catfish ***
Curtis Hayes of Benicia Bait has received good news on striped bass in the area of the Middle Grounds or Firing Line on bullheads or live splittails. He thought the sturgeon bite should be on, and a pair of keepers had been taken earlier in the week near Buoy 2. He said, “The crabs have thinned out, but they are not completely out of the picture.” He advised fishing in the deep water near Ozol Pier where he has witnessed sturgeon jumping while pulling the shrimp gear in the past week. He also advised trolling for halibut in the area around Buoy 8 in San Pablo Bay, and they have their custom halibut trolling rigs in the shop ready to go. Dockside Bait in Pittsburg said there were few boats out over the weekend due to the forecasted weather. He said, “It was fishable out there on both days, and Sunday’s weather was decent.” He confirmed the striper bite at the Firing Line with bullheads, and a boat trolled in Broad Slough for stripers in the 5- to 6-pound range. Once the water clears a bit, the trolling bite should turn on. Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported good striper fishing in the Collinsville Flats with grass or ghost shrimp. He was targeting sturgeon on a recent trip, and he had to move twice to get away from the 4- to 8-pound football-shaped striped bass, saying, “These fish had that shimmer of fresh-run recent arrivals to the Delta.” His moves paid off, as he landed a 50-inch sturgeon in addition to the seven legal striper released. He said most guys are targeting sturgeon, so stripers have been incidental catches. Pipkins went through a half pound of grass shrimp in 3 hours due to pesky striper. All of the above bait shops have plenty of everything, including bullheads. Allison Shawnego of Hap’s Bait in Rio Vista reported flounders continue to be taken in the area around the Rio Vista Bridge, and pile worms or ghost shrimp are in high demand. The Sacramento River is muddy, and sturgeon fishing is best in upper sloughs. Captain Jack Chapman of Lovely Linda Sport Fishing put 16-year-old Joe Groves on to a 55-inch sturgeon at the mouth of Miner Slough on a grass shrimp/eel combination. Alan Fong of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “There are lots of sturgeon being landed in the section of the river from Hood upstream to Garcia Bend on eel or ghost shrimp, and a good percentage of these fish are oversized.” Knight’s Landing has been producing since the river dropped down 6 to 8 feet after rising quickly from last week’s storm systems. Striper are moving into the river, and a 35-pounder was caught and kept on Saturday on a splittail. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, advised using different techniques depending upon which portion of the Delta you are fishing. In the southern portion of the San Joaquin River system, the water is clearer, and anglers can use reaction baits such as the Persuader spinnerbait or Timber Tiger crankbait in chartreuse or bluegill patterns. Once the sun rises, Pringle has been dropping down in depth with plastics on a Zappu head. They landed 25 bass to 5.25 pounds on a recent trip. In the muddier northern and western portion of the Delta influenced by the Sacramento and Mokelumne river systems, Pringle has been slowing his presentation to a halt with the Berkley Havoc, Persuader E-chip jig or Berkley Power Worm by flipping adjacent to cover and allowing the bait to sit, letting the fish find the bait. Since the storms have been lining up one after another, Pringle said, “The fish are acclimated to the storms, and they will continue to eat providing the water temperature remains stable.”
Call: : Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Stan Koenigsberger/Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030; Jolly Jay’s Guide Service (209) 478-6645; Mark Delnero-Fin Addict Sport Fishing (209) 367-4665
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass *** White bass ** Striper ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Large bass are available at Santa Margarita and San Antonio with impressive limits weighed in during the weekend tournament. Working the bottom continues to be the top techniques, but there is a reaction bite in the late afternoons with the fish moving shallow. At Nacimiento, numbers of fat, chunky spotted bass as the spotted bass continue to move into the shallows. The lakes have been experiencing heavy pressure on the weekends due to upcoming tournaments. A calendar is available at my.calendars.net/cctsched/
Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
Nacimiento is at 777.2 feet and 69% while San Antonio is at 761.95 feet and 73%. Santa Margarita is at 77.6% and Lopez at 87.9%.
Call: : Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
New J Bass Club at Hensley on March 17: 1, Danny Wood/Sterling Killion, 23.37 pounds (big fish 9.28); 2, Ge and Tony Yang, 15.56; 3, Danny Her/Jason Lee 14.03 (big fish 9.23)
Mid-Valley Bass Club at McClure on March 24: 1, Dennis Edwards/Matt Dolph, 14.86 pounds (big fish 6.37); 2, Travis, Clairessa and Tristan Matthews, 10.65; 3, Jonathan Myers/Moses Mix, 10.63
Angler’s Choice/Western Rookie League at Millerton on March 24: 1, Ryan and Larry Accardo, 9.81 pounds; 2, Timmy Wells/Alex Salas, 9.76; 3, Dan Cranston/Scott Lops, 9.31 (big fish 3.51)
Western Outdoor News at Santa Margarita on March 24: 1, Louis Fernandes/Patrick Tuoey, 21.77 pounds; 2, Dana and Clayton Clatterley, 20.95; 3, Sam James/Chris Rains, 20.64; Big Fish, Dan Tracy/Josh Sanderson, 8.06
Golden Empire Bass Club at San Antonio on March 24: 1, Truman and Alan Lakin, 18.86 pounds (big fish 4.90); 2, Duane Dalke/Erik Loyd, 15.24; 3, Richard Carrier/Kevin Dan Dees, 14.63
Sierra Bass Club at Don Pedro on March 24-25: 1, Gary Johnson/Chase Dixon, 20.57 pounds; 2, Hoot Gibson/Ryan Hennecke, 19.79 (big fish 4.58); 3, Carlos Contreras Sr./Paul Kalamen, 19.38
Fresno Bass Club at Don Pedro on March 25: 1, Mark Corrente, 12.17 pounds; 2, Morgan Swisher 11.87; 3, John Albidrez, 11.71; Big Fish, Nick Beck, 4.78
March 29: Todd Wittwer on Bass Lake Trout and Kokanee, 6:15 p.m. at Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse
April 14: Glory Hole Sporting Goods, annual seminars, at New Melones
Thursday-Sunday: FLW Everstart Series at Delta/Russo’s Marina
Saturday: Kokanee Power Mother Lode Challenge at Camanche; Kern County Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby at Isabella; Best Bass Tournaments at Santa Margarita; Bakersfield Fire Department Trout Derby at River Walk in Bakersfield, contact Chad at (661) 808-3865; Western Outdoor News at Don Pedro; Western Outdoor News at Kaweah; 101 Bass at Lopez; Angler’s Choice at Millerton; Christian Bass League at McClure; Marcucci’s fifth annual Deaf Sturgeon Anglers Challenge at Delta/Martinez Marina, information: deafanglers.org
Saturday-Monday: Kern County Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby at Isabella
Sunday: Angler’s Choice at McClure; Success Bass Club at Success; Best Bass Tournaments at Delta/Russo’s Marina
April 6: E and J Gallo Winery at Don Pedro
April 7: Angler’s Choice at Don Pedro; American Bass Association at McClure; 101 Bass at Santa Margarita; Kerman Bass Club at Tulloch; Angler’s Choice at Delta/Russo’s Marina
April 14: Kokanee Power Team Trout Derby at Pine Flat, information: www:kokaneepower.org/derbies
May 5-6: 32nd annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby, information: www:basslakechamber.com
Kern County: Cuddy Creek Pond
q = quarter moon