Lake Don Pedro
Triple-digit temperatures and the lack of a viable kokanee bite have kept many trollers off the lake the past several weeks, but the lure of king salmon is on the horizon. Many anglers are waiting for cooler days and water temperatures to bring the salmon out of the depths. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing predicts a solid king salmon bite this fall. Don Pedro will receive only 9,991 kokanee salmon fingerlings from the Department of Fish and Wildlife while being loaded with 90,035 king salmon for the season. Few anglers are trolling for trout at this time, but heavy spoons are the top lure with the rainbows keying on the threadfin shad schools in the lake. King salmon are holding in deep water, and they have proven unwilling to strike at lures or rolled shad. The Fleming Meadows launch ramp is limited to one lane, but there is plenty of deep water in which to launch a boat. For bass, live bait remained the top draw with Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reporting, “Sales of medium and large minnows have been high, particularly on the weekends with most fishermen using live bait.” There are no reports of top-water action with most fishermen working the bottom at depths from 30 to 40 feet with shad-patterned plastics on the drop shot such as the Reaction Innovation’s Flirt in Bad Shad Green. 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. The lake is 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.
The lake continues to release water at a high rate, but the Barrett’s Cove South Launch Ramp will remain open for a week or so. The marinas have closed and moved out to the deeper portions of the lake. With the only launch ramp at Barrett’s South, boaters are accessing the lake from the opposite side and bypassing A-1 Bait in Snelling. The Barrett’s Cove North Launch Ramp is open, and construction is taking place to allow for a turnaround closer to the lake so vehicles will not have to back down the entire length of the steep ramp. This ramp has not been exposed for decades. Kayakers and canoe paddlers are accessing the lake from the shoreline to take advantage of the solid bass fishing on live minnows or crawdads. The live bait is also working for large catfish from the banks. In response to the drought, A-1 Bait is selling all plastic worms at 30 percent off. Trout, king salmon and kokanee reports have been elusive. McClure will be receiving 49,197 king salmon and 20,012 kokanee fingerlings from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The lake dropped 5 feet to 641.52 feet in elevation and 14 percent of capacity. A-1 and the Bait Barn are stocked with all sizes of minnows because of high demand. A 5.5-mile stretch of the Merced River in Snelling is closed to fishing because of low water conditions. Call: A-1 Bait, (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh, (209) 404-0053.
McSwain Marina reported a plant of 500 pounds from the Calaveras Trout Farm on Thursday, and trolling action remains much better than bank fishing. Anglers have been pulling chrome/blue Kastmasters, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a flasher, or blade/crawler combinations in the deeper portions of the lake above the Floating Restrooms. A few boaters are drifting purple nymph Power Bait or white Berkley Mice Tails along the bottom in the upper lake. Diana Mello at A-1 Bait in Snelling said, “We have recently been receiving a number of good reports from McSwain, even from the banks.” The lake levels remain steady at the normal elevation because of regular releases of cold water from McClure. The first Fall Fest last weekend was heavily attended and was a huge success. The annual Merced Irrigation District’s Trout Derby will be held Oct. 4-5. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Numbers of bass remain consistent, and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite turned on towards the headwaters of the river with bass to 2 pounds landed on ripbaits out of the boils.” Anglers have been traveling with a rod ready to toss into the boils, which are occurring in the upper portions of the lake, and 4-inch plastic worms on the drop shot or dart head in the shallows are still the most consistent bite. Recreational boat pressure continues to be high on the weekends with the lake levels still relatively high compared to other area reservoirs. Catfish to 5 pounds are biting anchovies or sardines in 40 feet of water above Finegold. No striped bass reports. The lake dropped 5 feet to 496.16 feet in elevation and 39 percent of capacity with a release of 2,312 acre-feet of water this week. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection form before launching. 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. There are new regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge, only two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead are allowed with a total of four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch Lake
The low water conditions have made for tough overall fishing, but there are a few bright spots. Catfishing is very good, as many areas of the lake that have been under water for several years now can be accessed from the shoreline. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “This is a good time of year to target catfish, as the lake is really nice in the evenings and this is when the big cats come to the shoreline in order to search for food.” Shad, anchovies or night crawlers scented with Pro-Cure or similar scents have been effective. For bass, Lietchy said, “The fishing has been tough. However, we have found areas that are consistently holding some quality spots and largemouths.” Jigs or soft plastics are the best techniques, but there is a window for crankbaits or top-water lures in the mornings or evenings. Lietchy took Ron and Joan Lappin for an evening of bass fishing, catching and releasing some chunky spotted bass. Trout fishing is best at night under submerged lights, but the daytime bite is very slow for trollers. Few boats have been on the lake, particularly with the arrival of the final heartbeat of the kokanee season. Crappie action has not amounted to much the past year, and this week’s report is no different. The lower lake levels will allow for a quicker turnover of the lake this fall, and the turnover generally occurs around Thanksgiving. The Tuttletown Launch Ramp is closed, while the Glory Hole Point launch ramp is open on the volunteer ramp. The lake is as low as it has been in recent memory with the water level receding 2 feet in the past week to 864.25 feet in elevation and 22 percent of capacity with a release of 242 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 Francisco Bay
Scott Sutherland of Berkeley Charter Boats reported an average of a fish per rod throughout the week with most trips north along the Marin coast between the Channel Markers and Duxbury and earlier in the week south off Mussel Rock. The fish in this area were much smaller, consisting of next year’s spawners, and the bite disintegrated quickly. Straight bait has been the top offering with flashers less effective the past week. Rockfishing remained outstanding, and the big lings are chomping. On Saturday, Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker loaded up with 31 limits of rockfish and 31 limits of ling cod with six of the lings more than 20 pounds. Bill Seidel of Sacramento boated the jackpot at 26 pounds, and Travis Bogart of Reno landed a limit to 18 pounds. Sunday’s score was similar with 13 limits of rockfish and ling cod to 16 pounds. Smith is running open-load potluck trips Thursday through Sunday this week. Out of Emeryville Sport Fishing, a few boats went to the Farallons over the weekend, while others stayed along the Marin coast. The New Huck Finn, Sea Wolf and Wet Spot combined for near limits at 615 rockfish for 63 anglers in addition to 69 ling cod to 29 pounds and four salmon to 16 pounds. Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported tremendous striped bass action in the bay with an average of one in five fish landed being of legal size. The larger fish are taken by drifting live Loch Lomond shiners, but trolling at the top of the tide is producing numbers of fish. He said, “You can catch and release all you want.” Captain Jim Smith confirmed the hot striped bass action in the bay, and he is itching to work the central bay rocks for bass, but the lure of 20-pound ling cod is too great at this time. Perch fishing is excellent from the shorelines off Treasure Island, Sausalito, San Francisco and the Alameda Rockwall with grass shrimp or pile worms.
The smallmouth bass bite in the upper Delta continued its spiral downward, but Tran advised tossing deep-diving crankbaits around the rocks in Steamboat or Miner Slough for a chance at a smallie. Catfish are holding in the Sacramento River in the Deep Water Channel, and chicken livers, anchovies, sardines or fresh shad are the top baits. The San Joaquin River remained the best location for striped bass, and the trend of small fish remained, although the occasional big striper has been caught and kept. Catfish and bluegill action remained solid from several locations, while a few salmon are taken from the Antioch shoreline on spinners. Sturgeon fishing remained null and void. Jay Sorensen, founder of the California Striped Bass Association and outdoors writer for the Rio Vista Herald, reported several large striped bass have been landed in the Delta the past week, including a limit at 43 and 42 pounds near Eddo’s Boat Harbor on the San Joaquin on fresh shad and two other huge fish at 33 and 31 pounds off the mouth of the Mokelumne River. Sorensen added, “The topper is a 30-pound striped bass was reported off of the Isleton Public Fishing Pier during the middle of the week.” In the Stockton area, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported solid striper action in the Old River with live bluegill for linesides to 24 inches, but the fish are long and thin. This is a clear indicator the run of stripers out of the bays and the ocean has started. Fresh shad is a regular feature of local bait shops with shipments to H and R arriving Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Bluegill, crappie and catfish are available from the shoreline access areas of Eight Mile Road. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Capt. Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing, (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.