Lake Don Pedro
The trout bite continues to take center stage with trollers finding planters near the shorelines with a variety of offerings including heavy spoons, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler, or blade/crawler combination. Bass fishing remains very slow, and the best action is in deep water with small Senkos or plastics in shad-patterns on a slow presentation at depths from 20 to 60 feet. Rainbow-trout patterned swimbaits worked with a slow presentation will pick up an occasional large fish, but fishermen are more likely to toss the lure all day without results. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was the tournament director for Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament Open, and he reported an overall slow bite with the fish moving as a result of rapidly dropping water levels. He said, “The best action was at depths to 50 feet with small jigs and plastics, but the fish are very lethargic in the cold water,” adding, “A number of anglers tossed small swimbaits all day for the chance at a larger fish, but most efforts with the larger baits went unrewarded.” Trout plants have created a much-improved bite for planters from the banks at McClure Point or Barrett’s Cove with Power Bait or night crawlers as the fish are moving towards the shoreline. Trollers should work the coves and close to the shorelines for the planted rainbows. The lake dropped 1.5 feet 686.46 feet in elevation and 22 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
Victoria Sturdevant of McSwain Marina reported the overall action has slowed since the last plant on Dec. 23 with 1,000 pounds from Calaveras Trout Farm. Another plant is expected Thursday or Friday. The best shore areas are close to the dam before the gates with white, corn yellow, or chartreuse garlic Power Bait. Trollers are working past the floating restrooms, and night crawlers behind a hammered nickel cowbell flashers, pink PPK Tomahawk spinners, or Dick’s Trout Busters. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch Lake
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “Trout fishing remains very good during another week of outstanding weather.” The fish have moved from the main lake into the coves and creek channels, and they are found in relatively shallow water. Bank anglers are scoring off of Glory Hole Point and near the Tuttletown Launch Ramp with floating Power Bait, Gulp Power Eggs or Power Bait in rainbow, chartreuse, salmon egg or pink. Lewis advised using garlic scents or adding garlic-scented oil to the Power Bait to entice more strikes. Fan-casting Kastmasters or Krocodiles from the banks has been effective as has been a fly under a bubble. Trollers are working from the surface to 30 feet with firetiger, chartreuse or fluorescent orange ExCels, Needlefish or Speedy Shiners. Lewis advised using sideplaners to get near the shoreline and letting out between 150 to 200 feet behind the boat. The big fish of the week was a 4.4-pound rainbow trout landed by Marty Morfey of Lodi trolling a Rebel near the dam. Bass fishing remains fair, but the quality of spotted bass has been excellent with the fish fat and healthy. There have been several spots in the 2- to 4-pound range. The fish are schooling in deep water from 40 to 70 feet in the morning before moving up in the afternoon. A slow presentation on light line continues to be necessary and vertically jigging spoons, drop shotting shad-patterned plastics on light fluorocarbon line, or three-quarters-ounce football head jigs with a crawdad-colored twin tailed grub, Brush Hog or Sweet Beaver trailer are the top techniques. Catfishing continues to be slow is with the fish moving towards the ledges and the deep water near the mouths of creeks in response to the plummeting water temperatures. Crappie and bluegill action is non-existent. New Melones rose ½ feet to 949.34 feet in elevation and 43 percent of capacity with Tulloch dropping 1.5 feet to 499.43 feet in elevation and 82 percent of capacity. Call: Glory Hole Sporting Goods (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023.
San Luis Reservoir/O’Neill Forebay
The occasional large-striped bass continues to be taken in the main lake for trollers working umbrella rigs, P-Line Predator Minnows, Rebels or Yozuris near the Trash Racks and Portuguese Cove at depths of 70 to 100 feet. Drifting jumbo minnows continues to be the most productive technique for numbers of bass. Heavy pumping in the evening hours remains, and the lack of daytime pumping has slowed down the bite. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said that the water temperatures are around 51 degrees and the bite has changed to a midday bite-slowing later in the day. He said, “Most guys are just getting a few fish flatlining and downrigging plugs, or soaking minnows – but we still got decent numbers of scattered small fish to 22 inches on two trips. The bigger fish seem to be tougher to pick up now – but I think it may really help to get a change in the flat calm warm weather we’ve had for a few weeks.” In the forebay, the action is “hit or miss,” but there is a top water lure, rip bait, and swimbait bite in the early mornings for schoolie stripers as well as flukes on Scrounger heads for linesides in the 16- to 22-inch range with the best action near the telephone poles or Check 12. Jumbo minnows are also working from the shorelines. The lake rose to 30 percent of capacity with an import of 6,498 acre-feet of Delta water. 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: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger’s Guide Service-Roger George (559) 905-2954.
San Francisco Bay
The big news is the herring spawns that have been occurring in the south bay near Coyote Point. John Akina Jr. of Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli said, “The spawn has been going on for three to four days from the Embassy Suites (hotel) to Coyote Point, and there are a lot of herring in the area.” A 56-inch sturgeon was weighed in from Coyote Point on Saturday with an oversized released off the pier. In San Pablo Bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported few fishermen were out Sunday in response to the smaller tides. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker said, “Captain Gordie Hough of the Morningstar has been finding nearly a striper per rod in San Pablo Bay with nine bass to 11-pounds on his last trip.” The leopard shark action in the south bay has slowed considerably.
Sturgeon fishing has been best near the Mothball Fleet with one boat catching 10 diamondbacks on grass shrimp on New Year’s Day. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing out of Martinez Marina said, “We have found numbers of shakers on our recent trips, and there are big fish around, but our largest sturgeon on the past three trips has been undersized at 38-inches,” adding, “We have released 5 shakers, 7 shakers, and 12 shaker sturgeon on the last three trips.” Do Doung of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported a few small legal sturgeon in the 40-inch-plus range have been weighed in at the shop from Buoy 31 on grass shrimp, and the average size of keeper stripers are from 4- to 6-pounds. In the north Delta, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento caught and released striped bass at 10-, 15- and 20-pounds in Snodgrass Slough using an Alabama rig. He said, “We averaged one quality bite every three hours, and with the large amount of bait in there, the fish don’t want to eat.” He is giving seminars on using Glide Baits for large striped bass at the Ultimate Bass Tank at the International Sportsman’s Exposition on Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday at 6 p.m. Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Doug Chapman of our shop landed a 25-pound striper on fresh shad at West Island, and others have reported up to a dozen stripers to 14-pounds.” Sturgeon fishing has been fair with either shad, grass shrimp, or ghost shrimp in the main river. In the San Joaquin River, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “You have to burn a lot of gas to keep up with the striped bass as you may find three one day and 20 the next as they are moving quickly in search of bait.” He reported an excellent bite for largemouth bass on the ima Flit rip bait in shad-patterns such as Olive Herring, Misty Shad or Royal Blue using a “dead stick” presentation. Pringle said, “The water is so clear that the fish can find it from a distance if you let it sit there long enough,” adding, “The fish just can’t stand it.” The ima Pinjack crankbait in shad patterns on a 12-pound Trilene fluorocarbon line also has been a winner, and Pringle is bouncing this lure off the tops of the weeds, wood or brush, adding, “It is a deflection bite, and you have to bump into something as the action will create a cloud of silt, exciting the fish.” The Zappu head and jig bite has slowed to a crawl. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger-Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030.
Jan 12: McSwain Reservoir, Merced River Section 1 (Mariposa, Merced counties)