Lake Don Pedro
Warm temperatures over the weekend brought out heavy recreational boating pressure with the lake dominated by water skiers and jet skiers. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported the best bass action has been on live minnows, but the action is only “hit or miss.” Night crawlers under a bobber are an alternative to minnows, and there is a topwater bite with the small version of the Whopper Plopper in white or ghost minnows in the early mornings or evenings. Drop-shotting with shad-patterned plastics such as Bad Shad Green are the top finesse techniques at depths to 50 feet. There have been few trollers targeting king salmon or rainbows, but there should be solid action for king salmon during the late fall months. Don Pedro will be loaded with 90,035 king salmon for the upcoming season. The Fleming Meadows launch ramp is limited to one lane, but there is plenty of deep water in which to launch a boat. The lake held at 39 percent of capacity. Call: Monte Smith, (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella, (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn, (209) 874-3011.
Water releases continue with more than three feet of recession this week, and the Barrett’s Cove South Launch Ramp is now closed due to low lake levels. The North Ramp at Barrett’s Cove is the only entrance for boats into the lake, and it is expected to remain open until the end of September, depending upon lake conditions. A turnaround is being constructed at Barrett’s North to eliminate the long reverse in order to launch a boat. All other facilities, including Barrett Cove and the McClure Point Marina, are now closed. With the difficulty launching a boat, the best action has been for catfish from the banks with frozen shad or live crawdads. Diana Mello at A-1 Bait in Snelling reported catfish to 8 pounds have been taken. In response to the drought, A-1 Bait is selling all plastic worms at 30 percent off. Kayakers and canoe paddlers are accessing the lake from the shoreline as an alternative to launching a larger boat. McClure will receive 49,197 king salmon and 20,012 kokanee fingerlings from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The lake dropped five feet to 636.68 feet in elevation and 13 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait, (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh, (209) 404-0053.
The annual model plane regatta was held at the lake last weekend, and access to most of the bank areas was limited. Once the regatta was over, bank anglers were finding solid action for the recently planted rainbows with garlic Power Bait or night crawlers from the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks and the points near the marina. Trollers found better action over the weekend past the Floating Restrooms in the deeper sections of the lake with chrome/blue Kastmasters, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a flasher, or blade/crawler combinations in the deeper portions of the lake. Drifting night crawlers or Power Bait along the bottom has also been productive. The lake levels remain steady at the normal elevation due to regular releases of cold water from McClure. The annual Merced Irrigation District’s Trout Derby will occur Oct. 4-5. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Recreational boating pressure has been high over the weekend with the hot temperatures and relatively high lake levels compared to other area lakes. During the week, recreational boating has been much less a distraction, and numbers of spotted bass are abundant with the best action toward the headwaters of the river. Anglers are still targeting surface boils in the early morning with ripbaits, but the most consistent action remains on the bottom with 4-inch plastic worms on the drop shot or dart head at depths to 25 feet. Catfish to 5 pounds are biting anchovies or sardines in 40 feet of water above Finegold. With most striper fishermen heading to the aqueduct, reports of Millerton stripers remain scarce. The lake dropped to 36 percent of capacity due to water releases. In the lower San Joaquin, heavy flows from the reservoir have limited interest with few anglers targeting the Broken Bridge. A few jet boats continue to run up the lower San Joaquin River in search of bass. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The historically low water at the lake and launch ramp conditions have contributed to few boats trolling for trout. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “It is hard to establish a report with few fishermen on the lake, but late summer and early fall in past years have been a good time to troll deep water for quality trout.” Shad are schooling in the main lake, and rainbows and browns will be keying on the bait. Night fishing for rainbows under lights has slowed, but Lietchy added, “It could get better with some cooler evenings on the way.” Kokanee are all but done with the season winding down and few fishermen targeting this species. Bass fishing has also been tough with the bait fish starting to school in deep water. Packs of bass are hunting the shad, and Lietchy said, “It can be tricky to try and catch these roaming fish with a traditional chunk-and-plunk method. Crankbaits or jerkbaits are a good pattern to use when the fish are off the banks, and another productive technique is a small shad-patterned swimbait. Catfishing continued to provide the best action with more shoreline areas accessible due to the low water. The Angels Creek channel on the main lake is a short walk from Glory Hole Point, and night crawlers, shad, anchovies or sardines are working for whiskerfish, particularly when loaded with Pro-Cure scents. Crappie fishing remained extremely slow. The Tuttletown Launch Ramp is closed while the Glory Hole Point launch ramp is open on the volunteer ramp. The dirt ramp has been compacted with hard rock shale. The lake is as low as it has been in recent memory with the water level receding two feet in the past week to 862.69 feet in elevation and 22 percent of capacity with a release of 336 acre-feet. 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
The Forebay has been the location for numbers of striped bass, and the key is working around the heavy grass along the shorelines. Alex Tran of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The fish are in the grass so you have to work near the edges of the weeds with topwater lures, ripbaits or RatLTraps.” The stripers range from undersized to those of legal size to 24 inches. Blood worms, pile worms, anchovies and live minnows are also effective. In the main lake, a larger grade of fish is available, but the overall numbers are down. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said the bite really died in the big lake with the low pressure front going through Thursday and Friday. George said, “The stripers were suspended and inactive, but it should rebound soon.” Boaters have been drifting jumbo minnows in the deep water near the Trash Racks or tossing topwater lures from Dinosaur Point to Portuguese Cove. Anglers reported that game wardens have been issuing citations to shore anglers at the big lake for undersized stripers and over-limits recently. The launch ramp at Dinosaur Point is at your own risk, due to low water conditions with the Basalt Ramp providing a much safer alternative. Jumbo minnows are now available in area bait shops. The lake rose slightly to 21 percent of capacity with an overall decrease of 6,338 acre-feet of Delta water. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, (559) 905-2954.
San Francisco Bay
The salmon bite turned back on Sunday, and the conditions look good for several consecutive days of solid action. Emeryville Sport Fishing had all of its boats out Sunday, and the salmon fleet was spread out along the Main Coast. The C Gull II, WetSpot and Sundance were six fish shy of limits for their combined 25 anglers. The New Seeker was the lone moocher and reported 12 fish to 18 pounds for 20 anglers. The salmon bite has perked up south of Bodega Bay with commercial boats seeing up to 30 fish each and private boaters reporting a fish per rod to limits. Many of these fish will be pushing into the waters off the Golden Gate this week. For rockfish, Emeryville also had the Huck Finn, Salmon Queen Sea Wolf and Tigerfish out working the bottom grounds at the Islands and along the Marin Coast.
The San Joaquin River system is hosting numbers of striped bass, and although the majority are undersized, the quality of fish is beginning to show improvement. Largemouth bass fishing is excellent for numbers, and the larger fish will become more active as the weather stabilizes. Catfish and bluegill action remained solid from a number of locations. The wind severely affected attempts at sturgeon fishing. Jim Pickens of the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi said there have been few reports of salmon in the Mokelumne River with the best fishing in the Sacramento system near Freeport. Mark Wilson, shallow trolling expert, arrived in the San Joaquin River system via Broad Slough at the end of the week, and he reported good numbers of striped bass ranging from 14 inches to 4 pounds in False River, Piper Slough and Dutch Slough. Closer to Stockton, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported excellent striper fishing in the Old River with live bluegill. They landed nine legal fish Saturday night, keeping two limits between 10 and 12 pounds. Fresh shad is readily available, and they are receiving around 30 pounds on a daily basis. Mudsuckers are also in high demand, and Chapman at Gotcha Bait reported selling nearly 40 dozen of the gobis over the weekend. Bluegill are thick, and larger panfish are showing up off Eight Mile Road west of Stockton, Big Break, Holland Tract and Orwood Marina with wax worms or jumbo red worms being the top baits. Catfishing remained solid in the back sloughs, in particular Marsh Creek, with fresh shad, sardines or fresh clams. 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.