LAKE DON PEDRO Guide Monte Smith said trout and salmon fishing has been challenging on his two trips last week. He said the fish were unwilling to bite until they drop down to 65 feet around mid-morning. He worked hard for mixed limits of rainbows, salmon and spotted bass with four spots hitting simultaneously at 80 feet on one trip. The bass, salmon and trout are all keying on shad schools. "I remember it being tough at this time last year before the water temperatures cooled enough for the shad schools to completely form, bringing the rainbows toward the surface," said Smith. Bass fishing is still tough with Manny Basi at the Bait Barn in Waterford reporting live minnows working best. There is a small window for top-water lures such as small River2Sea Whopper Ploppers or PopR's before heading to the bottom with shad-imitation plastics. The Reaction Innovation's Bad Shad Green, Robo Worms Hologram Shad, or Pro Worms Pro Gold are good choices for drop shotting. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
McCLURE RESERVOIR Trout and king salmon trolling has improved, said Diana Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling. She said Rocky Mountain Assassin spinners, hootchies, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler or ExCels in green or rainbow trout are all working at 40 to 80 feet in Cottonwood Creek or near the dam. A few kokanee are showing up in the same areas. Bass fishing is fair with limited top-water action in the early mornings with River2Sea Whopper Ploppers or Zara Spooks, but the most consistent action has been by drop-shotting shad-patterned plastics. The lake dropped 5 feet and is at 30 percent capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
McSWAIN RESERVOIR The two-day Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby is this weekend and 50 of the planted trout will have prize tags a $3,000 grand prize or $1,000 for second and 48 additional prizes. Heavy plants from Calaveras Trout Farm are happening this week. The derby is limited to 500 entrants. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
NEW MELONES RESERVOIR/TULLOCH Guide Gary Burns reported excellent trout fishing with rainbows to 20 inches biting on ExCel spoons in blue glitter or blue-chrome trolled at 50 to 80 feet near the dam or spillway. Burns has been coating his lures with Pro Cure's Bloody Tuna, and said he caught fish at 50 to 65 feet early in the week. Later, he had to drop to 80 feet to find the shad balls and the trout. He cautioned anglers to watch for submerged trees with the water dropping. Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said kokanee fishing has been slow and few anglers are trying. A few have been caught way up the river arm toward Parrott's Ferry Bridge with the best action between the Highway 49 and Parrott's Ferry bridges at 70 to 100 feet. Lewis suggested Apex lures in pink, green or orange behind a large dodger. Bass fishing is fair, with some fish moving into the shallows in the early mornings and evenings to feed. Crawdad patterned jigs are working in the shallows. Bass are suspended and holding along offshore structure, and vertically jigging half-ounce or three-quarter ounce P-Line Laser Minnows or Hopkins spoons are working when you spot the bass on the meter. Suspending rip baits Lucky Craft Staycees or Pointer Minnows is also effective. Catfish action is outstanding with most fishermen landing multiple whiskerfish per trip using anchovies, frozen shad, mackerel or chicken livers. New Melones dropped 1 foot to 43 percent capacity; Tulloch dropped a foot to 91 percent capacity. Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023
SAN LUIS RESERVOIR / O'NEILL FOREBAY Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said the top-water action is excellent in the forebay using white flukes on a half-ounce jig head, Umbrella-rigs, lipless crank baits top water lures. He also noted that rip baits such as Lucky Craft 68s, 78s and 100s or Pointer Staycees in Ghost Minnow, Chartreuse Shad or American Shad are working as stripers break the surface early in the mornings. "The best action is taking place from the time the gates open around 6:20 a.m. to 11 a.m.," he said. After that it dies until dusk. Clements recommended any shad-imitation lure. Merritt Gilbert reported excellent action with bank anglers catching freshwater shrimp in an adjacent canal and using them to land stripers to 23 inches. Numbers aren't a problem as anglers have landed as many as 20 stripers in short order, but catching legal fish is a concern. In the main lake, boaters are mooching live extra-large or jumbo minnows around the trash racks or trolling between the buoy markers with Smithwicks, P-Line Predators or broken backed Rebels at 40 to 60 feet. Silver/blue or silver/black lures have been working best. San Luis Reservoir is down to 25 percent capacity. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711
DELTA/STOCKTON Salmon action from the shoreline "went crazy" over the weekend, said Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait. "There were over 20 fish caught on Saturday with at least 15 lost while Sunday brought another 20 salmon and nine more lost hookups." Shoreline striper action is good with bullheads. The Rio Vista Bass Festival is the largest continuous fishing derby in California and runs Oct. 11-13. It costs $40 at www.bassfestival.org. For largemouth bass, the mornings are getting cooler as the Delta transitions into fall. Guide Randy Pringle said largemouth bass are hitting "everything." He said spinnerbaits, flipping and punching the weeds are all working. Larger bass remain scarce. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger (925) 570-5303.
HALF MOON BAY Rockfish are the most consistent species in the area as the warmer tuna water has moved far offshore. The boats that went out for albacore during the weekend came back empty. Dungeness crab season opens on Nov. 2, and party boats are taking reservations for crab/rockfish combo trips. Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362, Bait and Switch Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040
MONTEREY/SANTA CRUZ Chris Arcoleo of Chris's Landing in Monterey reported very good rockfish action with 13 limits and 21 ling cod for 18 fishermen on the Check Mate. Call: Chris' Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173
SAN FRANCISCO BAY Salmon action slowed by the start of the week. The fleet has been fishing northwest of the Channel buoys and up to Duxbury. Rockfishing is great at the Islands and along the Marin coast. Capt. Roger Thomas is hoping for another shot at albacore this year. Capt. Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker put 25 passengers onto to limits of stripers to 13 pounds.
Compiled by Dave Hurley and Roger George