Fishing report: Week of Nov. 21
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.
Delta striper and sturgeon action touted as best in years, Tony Lopez said. Millerton and Pine Flat bass are best bets, Merritt Gilbert reported. Huntington and Shaver trout steady after storm, Dick Nichols reported. McClure bass hitting, Jason Mello said. Kaweah bass still working, Larry Kerns said.
After fishing the big lake at San Luis last week, I pulled out on the Basalt ramp to clean my boat and parked next to some other guys with a truck and boat. I asked how they had done, and they said they had been fishing off the bank and hadn’t gotten anything. Embarrassed, the older angler quickly told me that they weren’t planning on fishing from the shore but this was their first trip from Tracy and they had not accounted for the Quagga inspection. They pointed out the bright red tag on the front of their boat and admitted they had been officially quarantined. The Quaggas had struck once again!
A little irritated, they asked if we knew the rules were about going to another lake. I told him it was my opinion as an experienced “quarantined boater” and offender that they were out of luck launching on any other body of water for now. Going somewhere else and taking the red tag off while launching before the quarantine was lifted was not a good idea from what I had been told by the inspectors. Sometimes, I told the anglers, you just have to grin and bear it — and that led to a discussion of why the whole Quagga program is enforced so differently all over California.
I later called over to San Antonio to see if they enforced the Quagga inspection like they did at San Luis. I wanted to know if a passed inspection tag from San Luis would be accepted at San Antonio. The inspector told me that it would carry some weight, but they would still do a visual and once-over on the boat anyway. In my book, that means it’s the inspectors choice.
As I delved into their procedures, the inspector told me they were trying to put together a complete statewide Quagga inspection monitoring system that uses bar codes to track all the lakes the boat had launched at in the past year. It would track the boats that came from infected lakes, and the ones that didn’t, making the inspection process more specific and effective.
Great idea, since most of us are fishing the same lakes in the Valley. This would save a lot of time and money enforcing quarantine regulations on boats that haven’t come within 200 miles of a known infected lake.
On the other hand, one of the big questions has been what happens when it rains — or even a heavy mist or fog? The San Antonio inspector said they tried to use common sense and that the main concern then would be livewells and that sealed bilges were dry and there was no growth on the hull. OK, but what about pour-through floors, where excess water flows down to the bilge? At San Luis, the unofficial new take I’ve gotten on rain, fog, and mist situations is that they will just do a visual growth check, check the dry lockers, livewells and bilge. Better than what I saw last year, but there are some pretty big what-if gray areas and how they are actually handled.
The protocol seems to be a moving target that inspectors are trying to codify as they go along. I have to confess, designing a zero-tolerance program to keep the Quagga out is a knotty issue.
As I finished the discussion with the quarantined anglers, they said they had appealed to the inspector that it just didn’t make any sense that out of all the lakes in the Valley that San Luis should have such strict enforcement. Their question was: Why would you be looking for a single drop of infected water in my boat when this is the only lake where millions of gallons of water pours into it from the canal and Delta, all contaminated by their definition? I agreed — it’s a mystery!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at email@example.com
* Try dynamite
* * Have to work hard
* * * Limits possible
* * * * Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper *** Catfish **
Striper action remains solid in the California Aqueduct near Taft for numbers of bass with an occasional fish of legal size taken on a variety of lures, blood worms, sand worms, anchovies or sardines. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported interest has been high with anglers walking the banks with bait as the moss has disappeared. In the Fresno area, a few anglers are targeting catfish with cut baits from the Aqueduct and Delta Mendota Canal. Striper fishermen continue to head north to the O’Neill Forebay or San Luis Reservoir.
Bass ** Trout ** Bluegill ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Local bass fishermen have been heading to Pine Flat or Millerton for a more consistent bite, but they are looking forward to the explosion of the swimbait bite within the next few weeks after trout plants started last week. The lake will be receiving more interest for anglers targeting trout and also bass fishermen tossing rainbow trout swimbaits. The lake is on the third boat ramp on the Codorniz Campground side, but still on the top boat ramp on the Chowchilla Day Use side. Ranger Andrew Steele of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Station said, “Boaters are encouraged to launch from the Codorniz boat ramp if they wish to avoid the long walk from the water to the ramp parking lot,” adding, “Unmarked hazards, including submerged rocks and trees, are present throughout Eastman Lake.” The area inside of the 5-mph buoy line is particularly shallow and hazards are not marked in this area. The Lakeview Trail is open to all use between the Codorniz Recreation Area and Raymond Bridge. The lake held at 500 feet in elevation and 22% capacity.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass ** Trout ** Crappie ** Catfish ** Bluegill **
There have been few reports of trout or bass. Fishermen are looking forward to tossing Power Bait or night crawlers from the banks for trout or tossing swimbaits for bass. Catfishing is fair from the banks for fish in the 2- to 3-pound range with sardines, anchovies or chicken livers with the best fishing in the evenings. The lake held at 475 feet in elevation and 19%.
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 *** Crappie ** Kokanee c King salmon **
Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported slow bass fishing with the exception of the occasional large fish on umbrella rigs. Trout plants at Don Pedro start next week with plants at Turlock Reservoir this week.
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
Bass ** Trout *** Crappie ** Catfish *** Bluegill **
Catfish and trout are the top species with Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reporting a good catfish bite on chicken livers, clams, frozen shad or cut baits. With the trout plants, bank anglers have been scoring off the Auxiliary Dam and up the North Fork with various colors of Power Bait or night crawlers. Bass fishing continues to be slow with few boaters willing to risk prop or lower unit damage in the low water conditions. Crappie action has slowed to a crawl. The lake held at 2,543 feet and 15%. Trout plants continue in the upper and lower river and the best fishing remains in the upper river. The water is low and the fish are holding in deep pools with the best action early or late with live crickets, salmon eggs or night crawlers. The lower river is extremely low and very small smallmouth bass can be taken all the way into Bakersfield. Kern River sections 4 and 5 will be planted this week. Trout plants at Hart Park, Ming, Truxton and River Walk are scheduled this week and the trout plants have spurred interest with Power Bait, in particular, Chunky Cheese and garlic. A 4-plus-pound trout was the winner at the Taft Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby at Buena, but overall trout action was fair at best.
Call: Bob’s Bait (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812
Bass *** Crappie ** Trout ** Catfish **
Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club reported good bass action during the Visalia Bass Club Tournament of Champions with Vince Bryan of Visalia landing a huge largemouth in excess of 13 pounds on a swimbait as part of a limit over 25 pounds. Kerns used a combination of deep diving crankbaits or drop-shotting for bass to 3 pounds. Sierra Sporting Goods in Exeter touted spoons, jigs or swimbaits at depths from 15 to 25 feet. Trout plants at Ramp 2 have brought out anglers soaking Power Bait or night crawlers for the planters. Catfishing has been good for whiskerfish to 3 pounds with chicken livers or anchovies. Crappie fishing is best at night with live minnows or minijigs under lights. The lake rose 1.5 feet to 586 feet and 7%.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass ** Trout ** Catfish ** Crappie **
Bass fishing is best with Senkos or drop-shotting at depths from 15 to 25 feet with a bit of top-water action in the mornings, but overall action is only fair in colder temperatures. The lake is very slow and boaters must be aware of the submerged and exposed hazards. The trout plants last week brought out bank fishermen working the Rocky Hill side with Power Bait or night crawlers. Bluegill fishing with a variety of the typical baits is good. Anglers are advised to launch on the Rocky Hill side with the lower Tule Point ramp close to the end. The lake is at 582 feet in elevation and 6% capacity.
Call: Lake Success 784-0215
Bass *** Trout *** King salmon ** Kokanee * Crappie ** Catfish ***
Jay Graham of the Fresno Bass Club reported the majority of action during Sunday’s club tournament was found by drop-shotting, Carolina-rigging or jigs in a variety of color at 25 to 45 feet. A few spinnerbait fish were landed in the mornings. Jason Mello of A-1 Bait reported good action for bass on a recent trip with Robo Worms in Warmouth or Purple Punisher at 20 to 40 feet for keeper bass. Crappie have been found at night in Barrett’s Cove with live minnows or minijigs and Mello said, “One angler got 20 of the slabsides.” Catfish action is good off the banks for fish to 7 pounds with live crawdads in Cottonwood, McClure Point and Barrett’s Cove. The heavy trout plants have bank anglers scoring with chrome Kastmasters or orange/
white Power Eggs. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn confirmed the action, but added that trollers are scoring with night crawlers behind a dodger or blue/chrome Speedy Shiners. The lake is at 738 feet and 37% capacity.
Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
Stephanie Powell of the McSwain Marina said shore action was best at the Brush Pile with Power Bait in corn yellow or salmon peach on Monday after the action had been centered at the Handicapped Docks. A few limits had been taken with the best action in the early morning. Trollers have been pulling Ruby Red Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind gold Ford Fender flashers up the river arm near the Chimney at depths to 25 feet. Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling reported one troller caught and released 40 rainbows this way. There was a DFG plant last week; a Calaveras Trout Farm plant is expected this week.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass *** Striper ** Shad * Trout **
A few trollers have been picking up striper to 13 pounds running P-Line Predators up the river arm, but success has been limited. Consistent action is for spotted bass with some catching and releasing up to 40 small bass on drop-shot or dart-head plastics. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Millerton has been one of the two best options for bass fishermen and an occasional 2.25-pound spot can be found.” There is a small reaction bite in the early morning. Due to the higher price of launching at Millerton, the majority of bass fishermen are traveling to find similar action at Pine Flat for less of an expense. The lake dropped less than a foot to 516 feet and 51%. Trout plants continue on the lower river and plants are scheduled on a weekly basis over the next month. Heavy water releases on the lower San Joaquin have created problematic conditions for anglers. For the first time in over 60 years, Chinook salmon have returned as biologists are transporting adult salmon from the confluence of the Merced River upstream and releasing them into the river below Friant dam. A batch of kokanee eggs has arrived at the hatchery and Kokanee Power will need assistance to separate dead eggs from the containers. Call Jake Flohr at 271-8908 to volunteer. Trout plants start at Woodward Lake Park this week.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass *** Crappie ** Catfish ** Trout ** Kokanee *
Bass and catfish continue to be the top species, but trout fishing is starting to show signs of life. At 9 a.m. Tuesday the fish pens at the New Melones Marina will be stocked with 1-pound rainbow and brown trout and are sponsored by Kokanee Power. These brown trout are the last that California will plant anywhere due to a lawsuit against the Department of Fish and Game requiring sterile, triploid trout to be planted in all waters leading into rivers with native populations of Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead. Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “From now on, it is vitally important to practice catch and release of brown trout, so they can spawn and thrive in the lake.”
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 ** Crappie **
Bass action is the top draw, with Merritt Gilbert stating, “It is as good as it gets around here right now.” Anglers can expect to land from eight to 10 fish per rod with an occasional 3- to 3.25-pound spotted bass on brown/purple jigs, Senkos or drop-shotting shad-patterned plastics at depths to 45 feet. Trout fishermen are returning to the lake and Needlefish in Cop Car or threadfin shad are working at depths from 5 to 6 colors of lead core for an average of two to three fish per rod. King salmon action has slowed way down with few fishermen targeting the species. The lake rose 1.5 feet to 763 feet in elevation and 21% capacity. Nine thousand pounds of trophy trout are scheduled to be released this year in the DFG’s trophy program. Planting areas include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bridge, Choinumni Park, Winton Park, behind Avocado Lake and Alta Weir. The section between Alta Weir and Highway 180 is a designated catch-and-release zone that requires barbless hooks. Trout plants continue on the lower Kings and Avocado Lake for the next two weeks. Night crawlers, salmon eggs or Power Bait, Roostertails and Joe’s Flies are working in open sections of the lower Kings. The river is very low, making for less productive action at the present time.
Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; The I Forgot Store 787-3689
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper *** Catfish ** Bass ** Crappie **
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill reported, “The better bite is in the Forebay with anglers lining up shoulder to shoulder at Check 12, particularly when the water is flowing,” adding, “It is combat fishing at best with anglers advised to get there early to get a spot.” The majority of fish are undersized, but there are striper to 24 inches taken on blood worms, broken-backed Rebels or Lucky Craft LV 78s in American Shad, MS Gunmetal Shad or MS Crack, In the main lake, trollers are working around bait schools near the Trash Racks and trolling with Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in Gunmetal Shad, broken backed Rebels or P-Line Predators. Roger George fished during the storm for six fish and reported a slowed bite in the big lake, with the few anglers out there getting a few fish per rod in the 20-inch range on minnows. The area along the Romero Visitor Center has been productive for striper with live grass shrimp. The best grade of striper remains in the big lake. The lake held at 34% capacity.
Important note: All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo a mandatory inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels. 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; Roger George’s Guide service 905-2954
Bass ** Trout *** Kokanee *
Trout fishing has been good from the banks with anglers picking up planted rainbows on Power Bait or night crawlers. With the low lake levels, access to the lake is limited to shore fishermen, float tubes, kayaks or similar small craft dragged to the lake’s edge. The DFG planted 5,000 pounds of half-pounders Friday with another 4,000 pounds to arrive in December. PG&E will mitigate some of the lost fishing opportunities over the past two years of dam reconstruction by planting 1,500 pounds of half-pounders and 750 pounds of catchables Dec. 17. PG&E also is funding the raising of kokanee fingerling for the next two years. With the trout plants, bass fishermen will start to target big largemouths and spots with swimbaits. The lake dropped to 42% capacity, making launching a large boat problematic. Go to basslakeboatrentals.com to get a webcam view of the lake.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Brown trout ** Trout **
The gates may be closed soon, but check for Kaiser Pass conditions. Dedicated brown trout fishermen have been waiting for this first cold storm to hit before seeking the trophy browns. The lakes came up a bit with runoff with Edison at 5%, Florence 4%, Redinger 57% and Mammoth Pool 10%.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee * Trout ***
Experienced trollers were finding good action at Shaver Lake prior to the rainstorm. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Over the weekend, there were few trollers, but boats returned Monday with clearing weather.” The best action has been from the surface to 17 feet with Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with corn and a night crawler near the point along Road 2, Eagle Point and the mouth of Stevenson Creek. Art Richmond of Big Creek continues to find success with corn behind a Sep’s dodger. Bank fishing is limited to a few trout with Power Bait or night crawlers near roads 1 and 2. Shaver is free of snow and the ramp at Sierra Marina (web cam at sierramarina.com) is open. At Huntington, Jack Benigno of Visalia has been catching and releasing limits of rainbow trout near Deer Creek with his special rigging that includes Power Bait. Hardcore trophy brown trout fishermen will start dragging aluminum vessels through the snow. Shaver rose slightly to 61% with Huntington dropping slightly to 38%. Huntington is expected to continue to release water.
Call: Dick’s Fishing Charters 841-2740; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740
With continued snow anticipated, the road to Courtright could be closed soon. There have been few reports of either lake, but if anglers can access Wishon, they should be able to land trout from the banks. Anglers should confirm road conditions prior to making the drive. Chains are needed.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper ** Crab ***
Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete got 30 limits Sunday morning, followed by another 29 in the afternoon. Crabbing is steady. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huil Cat went on a Humboldt squid/crab combination trip Sunday and removed a dozen of the biomass-destroying Humboldts 14 miles out of the harbor before pulling pots for 19 limits of Dungeness. In Pacifica, the pier has been lined with crabbers with either nets or snares.
Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362; Bait and Switch Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133, (650) 726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148
Rockfish *** Crab *** Striper ** White sea bass **
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey said crab and rockfish scores have been good when storms let up.
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Striper ** Crab *** Sturgeon ** Rockfish *** Leopard shark **
Party boats were putting clients into limits of rockfish and crab. Striped bass fishing has been good in the lower Napa River and Joel Sinkay at Leonard’s Bait in Port Sonoma advised sturgeon anglers to try near the Highway 29 Bridge with live grass shrimp. Sturgeon regulations will change in 2013 to a single, barbless hook with no use of snares or lifting an oversized sturgeon from the water.
San Luis Obispo
Rock cod *** Albacore **
Virg’s has been taking overnight albacore trips, their last on Nov. 15 with 19 anglers taking six longfins to 28 pounds. Rockfishing remains the most consistent. The live bait operation is closed during the winter months.
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 **
Sturgeon and striper fishing remain outstanding with some of the best striper fishing in years from lower Suisun Bay to above Rio Vista.
Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Vella’s Fishing Adventures (209) 521-0164; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass ** White bass ** Striper ** Catfish ** Crappie **
At Nacimiento, the bass bite was very tough during Saturday’s Golden Empire Bass Club tournament with limits just over a pound/fish. The temperature dropped to just over 60 degrees and finding a bass over a pound has been a challenge. Lopez Lake is sporting an early morning top-water bite. Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed. Nacimiento dropped slightly to 742 feet and 34% with San Antonio 742 feet and 50%. Lopez is 76%, Santa Margarita is 58%.
Call: Lake Nacimiento (805) 238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina(805) 472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com (805) 466-6557
Sierra Bass Club at Eastman on Nov. 17: 1, Ryan Hennecke, 9.08 pounds; 2, Gary Johnson, 7.30; 3, Matt Solorio, 6.43 (Big Fish, 6.43 pounds)
Golden Empire Bass Club at Nacimiento on Nov. 17: 1, Mike Merlo/Duane Dalke, 5.27 pounds; 2, David Coy/Jerry Williams, 5.14; 3, Roy and Justin Neal, 5.06
Fresno Bass Club at McClure on Nov. 18: 1, John Albidrez, 9.33 pounds; 2, Ron Red Sr., 9.15; 3, Ken Eddy, 9.07. Big fish, Corey Squires, 2.74
Thursday: No-Tax and Black Friday Sale, Fisherman’s Warehouse in Fresno
Sunday: Kings River Bass Club at McClure
Fresno County: Avocado Lake; Fresno City Woodward Park; Kings River, Below Pine Flat Dam; Pine Flat Reservoir; San Joaquin River, below Friant Dam
Kern County: Brite Valley Reservoir; Hart Park Lake; Kern River, sections 4 and 5; Ming Lake, River Walk Lake; Truxtun Lake
Madera County: San Joaquin River, below Friant Dam
Mariposa County: Merced River, Section 1
Merced County: Merced River, Section 1
Monterey County: locations
San Luis Obispo County: Barney Schwartz Park Lake
Stanislaus County: Turlock Reservoir
Tulare County: Kern River, Section 5
Tuolumne County: Tulloch Lake
q = quarter moon; > = peak activity