Lake Don Pedro
Kokanee have scattered throughout the lake. Most of the Mother Lode kokanee fishermen are heading to New Melones. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “This is one of the first lakes for the kokanee to disappear, but there are quality rainbows still to be had.” He will be searching for rainbows with heavy spoons on a fast troll, covering as much water as possible to find the schools. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported heavy recreational boating over the weekend slowed fishing action, but bank anglers are tossing live minnows for rainbows and bass. Live minnows have been difficult to obtain, and Basi is working hard to keep his tanks stocked. He added that rainbow glitter Power Bait has been a good option for planted trout at downstream Turlock Reservoir. There is a 5-mph speed limit from the ramp at Blue Oaks Recreation Area to the buoy line at the mouth of Fleming Bay. Call: Monte Smith, (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella, (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn, (209) 874-3011.
Low water levels have affected interest, but a few trout are taken at depths to 60 feet near the dam with Apex lures or PPK Tomahawk spinners. Bass fishing is fair with Brush Hogs or Keeper Worms from the banks. Live bait has been a good option for bass with crawdads or large minnows. The lake dropped 4 feet to 700.3 in elevation and 26 percent capacity. A-1 and the Bait Barn are stocked with all sizes of minnows due to high demand. Call: A-1 Bait, (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh, (209) 404-0053.
Victoria Sturdivant of McSwain Marina reported a 1,000-pound plant from Calaveras Trout Farm occurred July 2, but the triple-digit temperatures have limited the number of fishermen sitting on the banks or launching boats. The normal locations of the two points near the marina, the handicapped docks and the brush pile are producing a few planters. Action is limited to the early morning before 7 a.m. Gold or chrome Kastmasters have been effective as well as Sunrise orange Power Eggs or night crawlers. Trolling has slowed considerably with the hot weather, but a few fish are taken with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a flasher past the floating restrooms toward the Chimney at depths to 25 feet. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Kokanee remained the top species in the lake with trollers finding success in slightly deeper water from 40-60 feet for fish in the 11- to 13-inch range. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “A few kokanee are approaching 14-16 inches, and a variety of colors are producing limits with darker colors in deeper water.” He advised using high-profile lures such as Rocky Mountain Tackle’s Super Squids or Apex lures, and modifying dodgers with a slightly larger bend to create more action. Trout fishing is best with the greatest action at night under submersible lights. Trout in the 2- to 3-pound range remain possible at night with night crawlers or Power Bait loaded with scent; trolling is still best with a fast troll of 2.5-3 mph near the surface in the mornings before dropping to 40-60 feet in depth in the main river channel. Rainbows are feeding on 2- to 4-inch shad, so Shad Raps, Scatter Raps, RatLTraps or jointed Shad Raps are working coated with Pro Cure’s Shad Gel. Bass fishing remained fair with the fish hitting reaction baits early before switching to a slow presentation with soft plastics with a Carolina or Texas rig. Catfishing is good with the larger whiskerfish moving into the shallows. Live minnows, frozen shad, mackerel or anchovies are good baits on a sliding sinker rig with a bead in the stained water to create a clicking noise as the bait is moving. Crappie fishing remained slow. New Melones fell 4 feet to 895.64 in elevation and 29 percent capacity with a release of 2,931 acre-feet. The Tuttletown Launch Ramp is closed; the Glory Hole and Angels Cove ramps remain open. Launching over the weekends has required extreme patience. Call: Glory Hole Sports, (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209), 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing, (209) 599-2023.
San Luis Reservoir/O’Neill Forebay
Catfish action has improved considerably in the forebay with anglers working the moving water near Check 12 with night crawlers, chicken livers or anchovies. Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported the current has been key to finding the whiskerfish, as they are feeding heavily. Blood worms, pile worms or grass shrimp have been the top baits for small stripers ranging from undersized to barely legal. Small swimbaits or spoons cast from a boat are another option. Striper fishing in the big lake remained slow, but the overall size is larger than the forebay. Pile worms and blood worms are the top baits while there is a topwater bite in the early mornings and evenings. Bank fishermen are primarily near the Romero Visitor Center in the main lake; boaters are working the shady coves. Extra-large and jumbo minnows are still nearly impossible to find in bait shops throughout Northern California. The lake fell to 30 percent capacity after releasing 7,215 acre-feet during the past week. All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, (408) 463-0711; Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service, (559) 905-2954.
Tackle shops, guides, private boaters and bank fishermen await the July 16 river salmon opener on the Sacramento River. Diamondbacks can be found for patient anglers, while striped bass fishermen are releasing numerous undersized linesides. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported slow action in the area. Johnny Tran at Freeport Bait reported plenty of shaker stripers are in the Sacramento River, but there are larger fish holding with sardines being the top bait. Striper action has been best in the western portion of the San Joaquin River. Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the excellent bass bite in the east Delta, but he is using a punching technique in the floating mats with Missile Tackle’s D-Bombs on weights ranging from 1.5-3 ounces. Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “The topwater action for largemouth bass continued to be solid, and the smallmouth topwater bite is just getting started in the north Delta.” Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing, (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.
Half Moon Bay
Rockfishing is the only realistic option for consistent action. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat put in 24 limits of rockfish and eight lingcod working reefs from San Gregorio to Pescadero on Sunday at depths from 56-140 feet. Former San Francisco 49er George Visger was on board with celebrity deckhand Braden Baxter. Mattusch said, “Salmon are still scarce, and one boat went searching for tuna, only to experience rough conditions offshore and zero hooks.” There is a warm bubble of water 70 miles offshore. Call: Happy Hooker, (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady, (415) 760-9362; Bait and Switch Sport Fishing, (650) 726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing, (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman, (510) 703-4148.
Chris Arcoleo at Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported optimism for the reappearance of salmon with good action for commercial fishermen off Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County at the start of the week. Salmon fishing in Monterey Bay remained slow, but he was aware of a few small fish taken off the Pajaro River. Large halibut to 30 pounds have been taken on the Santa Cruz side of the bay near the Mile Reef in Capitola with live mackerel. Call: Chris’ Landing, (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine, (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com.
San Francisco Bay
Rockfishing also dominates action in this section of the coast with regular salmon-only party boats switching to bottom fishing in the past two weeks. Captain James Smith on the California Dawn put his clients onto 58 lingcod to 24 pounds and three-quarters limits of rockfish during Monday’s “Penn University” charter to Point Reyes. Smith stayed in the bay July 5 for 28 big striped bass to 15 pounds for 17 anglers with a number of fish lost after hooking up. Halibut and bass are showing up on the outside beaches, and James Smith put in three halibut and four bass on Saturday’s trip and four halibut off Seal Rocks on Monday. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “We saw more halibut today than in the recent past in these very slow tides.