Fishing report: Week of Aug. 29
Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by local fishing expert Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake.
Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
I think that most of us have a fishing bucket list — a special trip somewhere, some kind of exotic fish we hope to land, or a magic weight number we have engraved in our subconscious that we intend to accomplish someday, somehow. For me, one of my lifetime goals was to visit Alaska and get in on some of the legendary angling I’ve heard about from friends and family. As I’m writing this column, and sailing back to San Francisco, I’ve finally crossed that item off my list.
It’s funny, but it took my wife booking an Alaskan cruise for our anniversary more than a year ago to get me to actually go. It always seems like you’ve got lots of time to reach your dreams, but life interferes and before you know it you’re beginning to wonder if it’s going to become reality.
No, I hadn’t foreseen a cruise as my ticket to Alaska. My dream was more along the lines of going to a rugged fishing camp by floatplane. As it turned out, I accidentally fell right into a great fishing trip in Skagway, Alaska, that gave me a perfect sampling of what Alaskan fishing can be like while whetting my appetite for more. It started with a 45-minute ride on a high-speed catamaran, followed by a 10-mile bus ride to Chillikoot Lake — a small, freshwater lake about a mile long that poured into the ocean. Besides the guide, there was just myself and Jason, a 14-year-old from New Jersey and a very serious angler whose parents had relented and sent him on the fishing trip, too.
Fishing out of a 22-foot pontoon boat in light rain, the guide took us to a sloping shoreline and told us to cast it using half-ounce bright spoons matched to a 7-foot ugly stick and spinning reels loaded with 8-pound line. I was just hoping we could hook a few small fish, maybe a Dolly Varden or two, and that I would get to see more of Alaska. On my first cast, I made an underhanded toss of the spoon parallel to the bank and reeled it back about 10 feet when the bottom reached up unexpectedly and grabbed the spoon. Hanging on, I was shocked as a magnificent, brilliant red 10-pound Sockeye salmon surged into the shallows, exploded from the water and flung the spoon back at me. This isn’t what I thought I had signed up for, but it took my breath away as I realized we were into some wild fishing, the kind you dream about. Game on.
After 31/2 hours of fishing, we caught and released 20-plus stunningly bright red Sockeye to more than 12 pounds, eight pink salmon to 8 pounds and tons of 10- to 14-inch sea run Dolly Varden. The day ended when I asked the guide to give Jason one more cast to try to get a big pink salmon. Incredibly, halfway back to the boat he hooked the trophy pink salmon he had been seeking. Catching the 7- to 8-pounder on his very last cast was the icing on the cake for all of us as we watched it swim away. Battling the big streaking salmon on light spinning gear made the experience that much more fun.
Alaska is truly a stunningly beautiful place to visit or fish. Our voyage wasn’t designed to be a fishing trip at all, but what I did exceeded my expectations. I know I’m going to add a few entries to my bucket list and I would encourage you to do the same before more years pass. It just might be time for you to go live your dream.
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Try dynamite
* * Have to work hard
* * * Limits possible
* * * * Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
The local water conveyance systems are on the upswing and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Sales of Lucky Craft 110s or 115s in American shad or Ghost Minnow have increased with the striper action improving in the California Aqueduct near Firebaugh.” In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Anglers are reporting less and less disruption from moss and debris and the best technique continues to be drifting cut baits weightless or with a small split-shot and walk the tops of the levees.” Blood worms have reappeared in the shops with an improvement in harvesting on the East Coast and the bait has been very popular. Sardines, mackerel or anchovies also are effective baits for striper ranging from sublegal at 15 inches to 21-inch legals. There is a small window for top-water lures and swimbaits in low light.
Eastman remains the top bass lake in the Central Valley and Ranger Andrew Steele of the US Army Corps of Engineers said, “David Orange of Who-Be-Do Jigs reported good action during the weekend’s tournament with 14 boats weighing limits to 10 pounds,” adding, “top-water lures, crank baits, rip baits or drop-shotting were all effective techniques.” Steele reminds fishermen that Eastman is a trophy bass fishery with a bag limit of a single fish which must be over 22 inches. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The day bite has been tough for bass with small fish the rule, but bass in the 3- to 4-pound range can be taken after dark.” Rapidly dropping lake levels continue to expose hazards and boaters need to be cautious. Fortunately, water releases are over for the time being. Steele added, “We are on our lowest ramp on the Cordorniz Campground side of the lake, but the top boat ramp remains on the Chowchilla Day Use side. Boaters are encouraged to launch from the Cordorniz boat ramp.” The area inside the 5 mph buoy is getting particularly shallow. Bank fishermen continue to hook whiskerfish in the evenings from the shorelines with sardines, anchovies or chicken livers. The lake dropped 5 feet to 501 feet in elevation and 23% capacity. The Lakeview Trail is open to all use between Codorniz Recreation Area and Raymond Bridge. The area extending upstream from the Keep Out buoy line is closed to fishing and boats.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
The night bass bite at Hensley has picked up and anglers are working swimbaits or Brush Hogs on split-shots from 5 to 6 feet in the evening. Merritt Gilbert thought the bite would improve during the upcoming full moon. The daytime bite has been tough, but night fishing has produced limits in the 20-pound range. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse thought fishermen were passing over bass while fishing in deeper water when the bass are holding from the banks to 10 feet with an early top-water bite. Catfishing remains decent on sardines, anchovies or chicken livers from the banks in the evening. The lake dropped 2 feet to 477 feet in elevation and 21% capacity.
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
Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported two patterns of plastics worming on the drop-shot — Reaction Innovations Flirt in Bad Shad Green or Pro Worms Purple Shad pattern 124 — as working to 30 feet. The top-water bite is good in the early morning or evening with Heddon’s Super Spooks in Okie Shad and with white frogs. Twin-tailed Hula Grubs on a half-ounce jig head in patterns 208 and 221 are effective on the bottom. For trout, Monte Smith of Gold County Sport Fishing noticed shad are starting to school up. Rainbow trout and king salmon will be hanging close to the shad school and there was an excellent hatch of shad. He said, “After the three-day weekend, the lakes will be coming back into shape for fishermen.”
Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Crappie has been outstanding with Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield saying, “Five or six people have reported limits and minijigs are the top offering in the submerged trees throughout the lake.” They sold out of small minnows by Monday, and most fishermen are scoring with minijigs. Catfishing remains very good with clams, mackerel and frozen shad around the dam and near Boulder Gulch. With the water releases, the Boulder Gulch area will be high and dry soon. Bass fishing has slowed with crankbaits or large plastic worms to 10 inches working for the occasional bucketmouth. With the decreasing water pool and cooling water, bass fishing should improve. Trout should be coming out of the depths toward the Auxiliary Dam and in the North Fork. The lake dropped less than a foot to 2,547 feet and 18%. Cormier said, “There were reports of heavy plants in the upper river with the hatchery putting in remaining stock and trout fishing has been good in the deeper pools still holding water.” The levels in the upper river remain low. The lower river is a good bet for trout or bass with live crickets, Power Bait, night crawlers or salmon eggs. Bluegill and carp continue to be the best things going in the local Bakersfield area lake with red worms, wax worms and meal worms for bluegill and dough baits for carp. Bob’s annual carp derby ends Friday and the leader is at 10 pounds, 9 ounces.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club said, “We are still wacking them” with bass chasing shad in the lowered water pool. They picked up three bass for a total of 7 pounds while culling through undersized fish since bass had to be 15 inches. There were numerous 14-, 14.5- and 14.75-inch fish released. The shad are boiling and they are forming into tighter schools with the cooling water. Drop-shotting, flukes, jigs and crankbaits are working. Shorelines are lined with fishermen tossing crawdads or minnows with surf rods, but with the lower water levels it very easy to get entangled with another line. The lake has stabilized. Catfish are hitting chicken livers, sardines, anchovies or mackerel. The lake dropped 1 foot to 596 feet and 10% capacity.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5922
The water releases have stopped. After the holiday weekend, fishermen should have increased access to the lake. Carp and bluegill have been the top species from the shoreline at the Rocky Hill side. More bass fishermen are showing up. There are exposed island tops. The only ramps in the water are the lower Rocky Hill and lower Tule. The lake dropped a half foot to 591 feet and 10% capacity.
Call: Lake Success 784-0215
Similar to nearby Don Pedro, there is a top-water bite for bass with Heddon’s Super Spooks in Okie Shad or the PayCheck Repo Man Winning in the early morning or late afternoons into evening. Once the sun rises, the fish drop to 30 feet and the Reaction Innovations Flirt in Bad Shad Green or Pro Worms Purple Shad pattern 124 are the top plastics. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn added twin-tailed Hula Grubs on a half-ounce jig-head in patterns 301 and 330 to the arsenal. Catfishing remains outstanding at 15 to 25 feet along muddy, sloping banks with anchovies, chicken livers or live crawdads. Although kokanee usually heats up at McClure, there have been few reports. Trout and the occasional kokanee are taken in the deepest portions near the Dam with spinners tipped with a piece of night crawler behind a dodger. King salmon action is slow. The lake dropped 5 feet to 775 feet in elevation and 50% capacity.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
McSwain Marina reported action from banks near the Handicapped Docks with anglers waiting their turn to get onto the docks over the weekend. The Rainbow Power Bait without garlic scent or night crawlers have been the top sellers for bank fishermen. Trollers are working deeper portions up the river arm with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a piece of crawler behind a dodger. A Calaveras Trout Farm plant is scheduled for this week.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Millerton continues to be a mystery for bass fishermen, but this should change after Labor Day with more tournaments, including the popular Clovis Mounted Police Department tournament on Sept. 29. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun reported a small window for top-water Rico’s, Spooks or buzzbaits in the early mornings before the fish drop to 30 feet. The majority of fish are in the 11- to 12-inch range and jigs on a quarter-ounce jig-head or shad-patterned plastics around steep walls with deep water access. High boat traffic is expected this weekend. Striper reports nonexistent. The lake dropped 2 feet to 519 feet and 53%. The lower San Joaquin below Friant Dam is scheduled for a trout plant this week and the slowing of the reservoir releases will allow anglers to return to using Power Bait or night crawlers at the Broken Bridge or Lost Lake.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Gary Burns of Take it to the Limit Guide Service said, “The fishing cannot get better on New Melones with great action in the main part of the lake around the dam or up around Carson Cove with blue or Cop Car ExCel spoons at depths from 60 to 75 feet while trolling around 2.5 mph,” He added, “It’s not fast action such as the kokanee bite, but these techniques will put rainbows in the boat.” Dave Roberts fished with Burns for a hefty 3-pound, 14-ounce rainbow on chrome/blue spoon at 75 feet at the dam. Kokanee remains good with most fishermen putting in easy limits of fat and meaty fish. Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods said, “The kokanee are very aggressive now and they are starting to lose their scales as they get ready to spawn.” Two Sling Blades in tandem in front of a hootchie or Apex to increase the size of the presentation is a good choice during the period of pre-spawn aggressiveness. Larger kokanee are found on ExCel spoons or Vance’s Slim Fins trolled at a faster speed between 2-2.5 mph. Doug McArthur of Team McFishing Guide Service has been scoring limits of rainbows and bonus catfish under the Hydro-Glow lights in the main lake or spillway in 50 to 100 feet of water with Power Bait, Gulp! Eggs or night crawlers. With the trout in deep water, bank fishermen should continue to head to the high country lakes and rivers with spinners such as Panther Martins and Rooster Tails with #4 test on an ultra light spinning rod. Bass fishing continues to be fair with chartreuse spinnerbaits, Carolina-rigged 6-inch worms with a chartreuse tail or Senkos fished weightless. Lewis reminded fishermen to practice catch and release, particularly with the female largemouth bass. Catfishing continues to be excellent with Fernando Sevantes of Modesto bagging a chunky 10-pound, 4-ounce cat on chicken liver. Frozen shad, mackerel, chicken livers or anchovies are the top baits. The larger catfish have become shy, so using a fluorocarbon leader is best to entice bites. Crappie fishing is fair with the best action coming at night under lights with Beetle Spins, minijigs or small minnows. Lewis advised using a minijig combined with a small minnow under lights to attract the slabsides. Submerged trees or flooded timber in 25 to 40 feet have been the most productive areas. The lake is releasing water and it dropped 2 feet to 1,010 feet in elevation and 65% capacity.
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
King salmon and kokanee action continue to maintain angler interest and the best action remains at the 60- to 100-foot range in the main lake from the dam to the front of the Deer Creek Marina to the Power Lines. Merritt Gilbert said, “They have been somewhat hard to locate, but once you find them, they will bite.” Hootchies have been the top lure with sales of frozen shad slowing. The kokanee are in the 16-inch range with salmon averaging 19 to 20 inches. Patrick Movey touted pink hootchies behind a dodger for kokanee while white or shad-patterned hootchies are tops for the salmon. Uncle Larry’s spinners in firetiger also have been effective. Bass fishing is limited to fish in the 11- to 12-inch range with anglers having to cull through large numbers to put together a 6.5- to 7-pound limit during the daytime with limits to 10 pounds possible at night. There is a small window for reaction baits in the morning before dropping to the bottom with plastics or jigs during the daytime. Anglers have been tying up to the submerged trees near Windy Gap for catfish to 7 pounds with chicken livers, sardines or anchovies. The lake levels are dropping and the river arm near Rattlesnake is very low — boaters need to be cautious. The lake dropped 6 feet to 765 feet and 21%. Water releases may be on hold for a few more weeks. Bank fishing in the lower Kings is best with spinners such as Joe’s Flies, Blue Fox spinners or Roostertails to keep from getting hung up and losing tackle in the moving water. The river is scheduled for another plant 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 fishing is slow, but the best action is anticipated in coming months. Cooler waters and the lower pool make October an excellent time for targeting striped bass. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno reported 4-inch Storm swimbaits in rainbow trout sales have increased and he predicted pluggers have been tossing these from shorelines in the Forebay, particularly under the bridge. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod reported a concurrent increase in sales of the smaller Lucky Craft 110s or 115s in American shad or Ghost Minnow, but anglers have been taking these to the Aqueduct near Firebaugh. Jason Tosolovich of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said, ” A few boaters are drifting jumbo minnows or anchovy fillets near the bottom by the Trash Racks and bank anglers have been soaking cut baits near Dinosaur Point.” In the Forebay, Tosolovich touted cut baits from the shoreline area near Check 12 or under the bridge at night. Anchovies, sardines or mackerel are landing a few catfish in moving water at Check 12. The lake dropped slightly to 30%.
Important note: All watercraft must undergo a mandatory inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels.
Call: Ly’s Fishing Goods (408) 629-9644; Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711
High boat traffic is anticipated during the holiday weekend, but fishing for cold-water species basically has been over for months. Merritt Gilbert reported a float tuber picked up five bass in the 1- to 1.5-pound range in 4 hours while bouncing near the launch ramp on the south side. The boat traffic made for a less-than-pleasurable outing. The northern end of the lake is the only area with an appreciable population of fish. The lake held at 72% capacity and will hold near this level for the year.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Dick Gomez of Young’s Sporting Goods in Shaver Lake reported consistent action for trollers and shore fishermen, although with low water level you need to walk a distance. Gomez said, “It gets real good at this time of year with the cooling water and limited pool.” The Tasmanian Devil remains a popular lure and the Golden Oldie pattern has been hard to keep in stock. For fly fishermen, the San Joaquin River above Florence is one of the only options with stream levels critically low. The lakes are trickling out and Edison is at 25%, Florence 41%, Mammoth Pool 12% and Redinger 92%.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
The troll bite is consistent for experienced fishermen at Shaver with Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters averaging 16 and 17 rainbows in the 10- to 14-inch range on morning trips. Although Trout Buster Spinners behind a Mountain Flasher are Nichol’s go-to set up, he added that black/silver Rapalas, Needlefish and Captain Jack’s pink or orange Super Hootchies are doing the trick. Fish are found at 23 to 55 feet from Eagle Point, Black Rock and Honeymoon Island. Leroy Cook, and Naomi and Austin Freeland, all of Clovis, hooked three limits of rainbows trolling with Nichols this past week. Bank fishing is hit or miss with Roads 1 and 2, the Point and the Shaver Lake Marina the top locations for shore fishermen soaking pink, green or yellow Power Bait. Casting into the coves in the early morning with a black/gold Panther Martin or black/silver Rapala is a good technique. A few trophy trout are showing up with Brian McElhiney and Bill Talunas of Fresno bagging trophies between 4 and 6 pounds. Huntington is a solid alternative to Courtright or Wishon with Dick Gomez of Young’s Sporting Goods in Shaver Lake reporting rainbows at 45 feet with blade/crawler combinations, Needlefish or Speedy Shiners. Patrick Movey of the Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno liked the kokanee bite for fish to 13 inches with pink or blue hootchies behind a dodger at 30 to 40 feet near the dam. Shaver dropped to 80% with Huntington rising slightly to 99%.
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
Paul Kalpakoff of Central Sierra Outfitters trolled both lakes with Ralph Tonseth of Madera this past week and they landed several limits of rainbow trout in the 10- to 14-inch range. At Courtright, Kalpakoff found the most productive area at Courtright in the main part of the lake at 45 and 55 feet on the downrigger with a set back between 50 to 75 feet with PPK’s red/green Tomahawk spinners tipped with a night crawler or rainbow Power Bait behind a UV Tiger Shasta Tackle Sling Blade from 1.3-1.5 mph. At Wishon, Kalpakoff located action on the east side across the ramp from the dam to Wood Chuck Creek at 40 to 60 feet with the chartreuse Tomahawk spinner since the fish refused to hit red/green Tomahawk spinners. As at Courtright, he tipped the lure with a night crawler or rainbow Power Bait behind a UV Tiger Sling Blade. He added, “In addition, we ran a lead core line at 5 to 6 colors with a chartreuse Tomahawk behind a firetiger Shasta Tackle i Foil #3 Sling Blade. Chuck Crane of the Wishon Village RV Park and Store confirmed the easy limits at both reservoirs and he added blade/crawler combinations, Speedy Shiners, Needlefish and Thomas Buoyants to the lure arsenal. Bank fishing is excellent at both lakes with orange or rainbow Power Bait or night crawlers with anglers having to walk quite some way to the water’s edge at Courtright. The streams are pretty much out of water, but a few planters continue to be taken in Dinkey Creek at the Honeymoon Hole or under the bridge.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Tuna has been the big story and both Captain Dennis Baxter on the New Captain Pete and Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat couldn’t resist the lure of the water break being so close to the harbor on Sunday. Baxter went out with three customers and put in 13 albacore 30 miles from the harbor at 37/10 and 122/58. Baxter said, “The bite was slow in the morning, but things picked up in the afternoon with much better action.” They scooped up some live squid right outside the harbor and used the live bait during a couple of productive bait stops. As in all albacore trips, several fish were lost in the mayhem. He added that several private boats had high scores and the Mooch Better, a six-pack out of Bait and Switch Sport Fishing, put in 19 longfins. Baxter has the fever and he will be putting together tuna trips, weather and interest permitting. Captain Tom Mattusch came in from several days out of town for meetings and expected a group for rockfish on Sunday morning. When the group didn’t show up, he said, “Let’s go!” to the deckhand, Jake Carrier, and they made the run 25 miles out of the harbor for eight longfins. They left at 7:30 and were back in the afternoon with the boat and fish cleaned by 4 p.m. Mattusch said, “The longfins bit on tuna clones, deep-diving Rapalas and a cedar plug.” Both captains emphasized that the albacore run is closer than a rockfishing trip to the Farallon Islands or a salmon jaunt north to Duxbury Buoy. When the weather is not cooperative, rockfishing remains excellent along the San Mateo coast and the market-grade squid schools are thick from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel down toward Pescadero. Further north at the Pacifica Pier, Sheryl Jimno of the Rusty Hook reported the occasional salmon has been landed at the end of the pier with surf perch or striped bass a more consistent species. They have blood worms back in the shop after a few weeks of limited supply due to the weather on the East Coast.
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 in Monterey reported outstanding albacore action Monday with the Checkmate checking in with 41 longfins for six anglers and the Caroline posting 22 tuna for 11 fishermen. With the warm water break so close, Chris’ is offering the limited load 12-hour tuna trips on weekdays for the bargain price of $200/angler, weather permitting. On Sunday, Chris’ had two boats rockfishing south at Point Sur and the Star of Monterey sacked limits of rockfish and 20 ling cod while the Checkmate also put in limits of rockfish and 15 ling cod. The Caroline stayed local for limits of rockfish. If the weather is uncooperative for albacore, they will continue with rockfishing trips. Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz reported great albacore action 40 miles outside the harbor with one boat landing 18 albacore on a jigs stop with Dragon Fly lures after chumming up the fish. The best numbers were reported to be 36’21/122’33 and 36’23/122’34 with wide open action. On the local scene, the white sea bass are cruising around from Capitola south to Pajaro searching for the bait balls of squid.
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
The salmon bite has been fairly solid the past several days with party boats concentrating their efforts at the Channel Buoys and up at Duxbury. The overall scores are holding at a fish per rod for boats mooching or trolling. Captain Roger Thomas on the Salty Lady out of Sausalito reported eight salmon for five anglers on Sunday with three of the fish in the morning at Duxbury and five at the Channel Buoys. Thomas said, “All of the salmon were quality fish in the 10- to 16-pound class.” Out of Emeryville, the New Salmon Queen was trolling for 11 salmon for 14 anglers to 18 pounds on Sunday while both the New Seeker and Superfish were mooching for a score of 14 salmon for 24 anglers to 19 pounds. Further up the coast past Point Reyes, the private boaters are seeing better counts in tight along the beaches and these fish should continue to hold in close to the beach as they slide down the Marin Coast. Rockfishing remains great at the Farallon Islands and along the Marin coast. Captain James Smith on the California Dawn reported 23 limits of rockfish, adding 41 lings to 15 pounds on the Marin coast. Emeryville had two boats fishing the Islands and the Marin coast on Sunday for a total of 45 limits of rockfish and 64 lings to 17 pounds. On the Happy Hooker, Second Captain Chris Smith scored 17 limits of rockfish and full limits of ling cod to 19 pounds on Sunday after a potluck score of 13 limits of rockfish, 15 ling cod and four salmon on Saturday. Smith has plenty of room throughout the week. Inside the bay, the halibut action showed some real improvement over the weekend with Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael stating, “Despite the miserable weather in the bays over the weekend, there were some impressive scores.” Captain Gordie Hough on the Morningstar was reported to say, “Saturday was a two sweatshirt, one jacket day, but our eight customers landed nine halibut to 17 pounds, losing another six to 10 hookups and missing numerous bites.” Hough indicated there were fish in every location they stopped, including Alcatraz, Angel Island and Southhampton Shoals. Hough was quoted by Fraser as saying, “With good weather it would have been just like the old days.” Sunday’s weather was much better in the one-sweatshirt range and Fraser said, “The skiffs who have been lucky to bring in a fish were coming back with three to four halibut.” The winds have muddied up the shorelines on the Marin County side and trollers haven’t been able to operate. There were eight salmon in the 15- to 25-pound range landed at California City over the weekend, but Fraser said, “Don’t quit your job to go fishing at Cal City just yet, but the bite has been as good as it has been in the past month.” There were a few limits taken on Friday and the daytime tides are good with a high tide in the morning. The afternoon’s high tide is getting later. Fraser advised, “The best time to target California City is the top of the tide into the first two hours of the outgo.” Joel Sinkay of Leonard’s Bait reported a much improved striper bite from the Port Sonoma shoreline with some bank anglers scoring limits with bullheads or grass shrimp. He said, “A customer lost a 35-inch striper from the Point on a bullhead and another large bass was lost up the Petaluma River near Miramonte Slough.”
San Luis Obispo
Although albacore action has heated up from Monterey north to Shelter Cove, the San Luis Obispo County ports are waiting for warm water to show up offshore. In the interim, rockfishing is keeping anglers happy with the Princess out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay scoring 23 limits on a three-quarter-day trip on Monday, including nine ling cod to 12 pounds, 40 vermilion and 190 assorted rockfish. The Fiesta sacked two-third limits on Sunday’s half-day trip with four ling cod to 12 pounds. The Princess went on a long-range trip with 37 anglers for 14 lings to 12 pounds, 240 vermilion and 126 assorted rockfish. Top local fishermen were Heath Johnson of Bakersfield with a 16-pound ling and Jeff Flowers of Porterville with a 14-pound ling. Every Wednesday until Oct. 31 is Ladies Day on their half-day rockfish trips for $49.99. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis continues to average from three-quarter to full limits on their three-quarter-day bottomfishing trips with slightly less action on their half-day trips. Over the weekend, the Patriot put in two-third limits of rockfish and 12 lings to 8 pounds on a half-day trip with the jackpot taken by Garrett Pierce of Bakersfield. Leaders of the second Ling Cod Contest continue to be Curtis Ridenor with a 24-pounder, followed by Eryn McKinney of Bakersfield with a 17.5-pound ling and Zach Muellar at 16.5 pounds. Patriot has a running total of 1,378 ling cod since May 1, landing 64 lings in the past week. Children 12 and under fish for free on half-day rockfish trips on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Call: Virg’s Landing, (805) 772-1222, (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing (805) 595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch (805) 595-7214
As waters cool, salmon counts are rising from lower Suisun Bay toward the Old Sacramento River and up. Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said, “There were 15 salmon to 25 pounds landed at the Dillon Point State Park on Saturday and the best action came on the late afternoon high tide through the start of the outgo.” Striper fishing remains very good from the shoreline under the Benicia/Martinez Bridge, 12th Street and 14th Street with bullheads, blood worms or pile worms. Lopez said, “We have been selling out of blood worms as quickly as they are coming into the shop and we are supposed to have more this week.” For the salmon, the VeeZee spinners continue to be popular, in particular the orange or green lures with silver blades and a silver body. Upstream in Pittsburg, James Nguyen at Dockside Bait said, “Few boats have been out in the winds over the weekend and small striper in the 22- to 25-inch range are the rule,” adding, “We haven’t seen a sturgeon around here for a long time.” Frozen shad, bullheads or mudsuckers are the top baits for striped bass. A huge 38-pound, 47-inch striped bass was caught and kept off the Antioch Fishing Pier at night on a large threaded sardine, and the pier has been loaded with fishermen trying to replicate this success. The winds have made it difficult for boaters and there were few boats in the main Sacramento River over the weekend. Sturgeon fishing remains slow. Catfish, crappie and bluegill are highly sought in the back sloughs and they are selling loads of wax worms, meal worms and red worms for bluegill, small minnows for crappie and clams, sardines, mackerel and anchovies for catfish. They have a supply of fresh shad in the shop. Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures continues to put his clients onto limits of schoolie striper and C. King of Modesto scored a limit at 4 and 9.9 pounds while trolling P-Line Predators on the San Joaquin River just below the Antioch Bridge. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The big ones are playing hide and seek, but we are catching and releasing 50 to 60 fish in the 1.5- to 2-pound range on a variety of lures,” adding, “It is junk fishing at its finest.” Pringle has been using the ima Flit ripbait in bluegill pattern using a stop-and-go retrieve and the ima Squarebill crankbait in bluegill also is effective. With the cooling air temperatures, the best action has been in the afternoon and Pringle touted the Persuader Double Buzzbait. The fish are holding to the weeds and structure with Pringle advising, “If you aren’t bumping the weeds, you aren’t catching fish.” He and his clients simultaneously hooked striped bass in the 10-pound class on the main San Joaquin River near Eddo’s Boat Harbor on a crankbait and a spinnerbait. For numbers of bass, the Berkley Chigger Craw on a Zappu head is a producer. For king salmon, Viera’s Riverside Bait reported 16 salmon to 30 pounds were landed Saturday, but Sunday’s action was much slower with three fish to 18.5 pounds despite a healthy number of boats launched. Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing said, “In the last four days, we have seen a lot of fish push through the Freeport area and we have been there to go get them.” Billy Cahill of Cahill Custom Rods landed a bright salmon while jigging 20-ounce Blade Runner spoons near the Minnow Hole. Gravert said, “There were seven salmon at a striper jigged up at the Minnow Hole by 7:30 on Saturday morning. This has been the best fishing we have seen to this point and it is full speed ahead in the coming weeks.”
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
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
The white bass bite at Nacimiento has really heated up with anglers using techniques from deep jigging to top-water lures on the boils in coves. The whites are boiling and chasing shad in the early mornings. Anglers are reporting catching up to 90 white bass in the morning near Heritage Oaks. Zoom Tube baits are working for spotted bass in the coves. Heavy boat traffic during daytime hours is forcing fish into coves. Boat traffic at coastal lakes should diminish after the holiday weekend. At San Antonio, striper schools boil on shad balls and linesides to 20 pounds have been reported busting top-water lures such as Super Spooks in bone or white. Anglers have to gear up to 60-pound braided line since monofilament will be torn up after hooking a few striper. The boils are heavy around the South Shore Marina to Three Fingers beginning around 4 in the afternoon through dusk. There is a calendar of tournaments at my.calendars.net.
Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching.
The lakes are dropping steadily and Nacimiento receded 2 feet to 754 feet in elevation and 44% capacity, while San Antonio dropped a foot to 751 feet and 60%. Lopez held at 82% with Santa Margarita dropping to 68%.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Thursday: Larry Hodge on crankbait fishing for black bass, 6:15 p.m. at Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse
Fresno County: Kings River, Below Pine Flat Dam; San Joaquin River, below Friant Dam
Tulare County: Balch Park Lake Lower and Upper; Hedrick Pond (Redwood Lake)
Tuolumne County: Lyons Canal; Lyons Reservoir; Moccasin Creek; Pinecrest Lake; Powerhouse Stream; Stanislaus River South, Middle, North and Clarks forks
> = peak activity; f = full moon