Lake Don Pedro
Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn reported few bass fishermen are heading to the lake, but they’re finding a brief window for topwater in the early morning before working the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head. Gomez will pre-fish the lake this weekend for an upcoming tournament. The action should break out during the fall, as the weather cools. There have been a number of thefts within the houseboats and campsites in the past week, and the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office reported the arrest of a suspect in possession of property stolen from the campsites at Moccasin along with a jet ski taken from a houseboat. Visitors are advised to secure vehicles and valuables and watch for suspicious activity. Reports can be made to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office at 209-533-5815 and the Don Pedro Recreation Agency at 209-852-2396 to provide suspect, vehicle and vessel descriptions, plate numbers and vessel CF numbers. All three launch ramps are open with the lake dropping a foot to 767.64 feet in elevation and 66 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.
Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported bass fishermen have been holding off at the lake due to the launch ramp conditions with the receding water levels. A long backup is necessary to launch at Barrett Cove South Ramp. The best news has been for anglers working for bass, catfish, crappie and trout under lights near the houseboats. Catfish are still an option with frozen shad, sardines or anchovies from the shorelines with muddy, sloping banks. The lake has dropped to 40 percent of capacity with water releases lowering the lake 3.5 feet to 747.29 feet in elevation. The McClure Point and Barrett Cove South launch ramps are open with the Barrett Cove North ramp under construction and the Horseshoe Bend ramp closed. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505.
Trout action has been slow with the last plant occurring a month ago along with the effect of the recent full moon. The annual Merced Irrigation District’s Trout Derby is scheduled for Oct. 1-2, and the reservoir will be planted before the derby. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The only launch ramp at the lake over the summer has been at Glory Hole Point, and lake has finally receded to the point when the concrete ramp is closed. The ramp is still accessible on dirt, and the courtesy dock will remain in place. Catfish are the top species at the lake, and Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp will hold a Catfish Derby in November with registration starting Oct. 1 at $10 per angler. Three fish may be weighed in per angler during business hours at Glory Hole Sporting Goods, and there is 100 percent payback for the top three places. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sporting Goods said, “Some of our best catfishing of the year occurs during the next few months, and the whiskerfish are holding in the shallows at depths to 25 feet. November produces some huge cats, and we expect our tournament to bring out some big weights. Live minnows along with various cut baits work best, and fishermen need to be prepared to try a number of baits to determine what the fish are feeding upon.” Trout fishermen have been scarce, but there have been some large rainbows over 3 pounds taken by rolling shad in the deepest portions of the lake over the main river channel. Liechty said, “Running large spoons at a faster pace is best, and a tandem spoon rig with Speedy Shiners or Needlefish is a good option. Night anglers are scoring under submersible lights with live minnows, nightcrawlers or jigging shad-patterned spoons.” Kokanee have begun their move upriver, and although there are few fish being caught, fish over 2 pounds are a possibility along the outside bend above Carson Creek and above the Highway 49 Bridge. Bass fishing is solid for numbers, but large fish are scarce. The fish remain suspended in deeper water, chasing the shad schools holding in the cooler locations in the lake. The crappie bite has slowed in the past week. The draw-down of the lake has slowed, and the lake receded less than a foot to 864.88 feet in elevation and 22 percent of capacity. 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.
Salmon continue to make a spirited push up the Sacramento River, and action has improved in several locations in the Delta, including the Benicia and Antioch shorelines and below the Freeport Bridge. Dillon Point State Park, Courtland and Freeport are the most consistent locations, and with the number of salmon still holding outside from Bodega Bay south, the action should continue for several weeks. The best news is the fish are big with salmon over 20 pounds arriving consistently. From the Benicia shoreline, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle said, “Dillon Point remains the top location, and the parking lots are filled up in the early mornings on the weekend. There were no spaces available by 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and by 7 a.m. on Sunday with fishermen coming from as far as San Jose and Sacramento in order to throw spinners from the shoreline. The fish are big and bright, and we have had a hard time keeping up with the demand for the Vee-Zee spinners. Our owner, Curtis Hayes, is making them daily, but they are flying out of the shop as quickly as they are completed. 1st Street is another good option with nine fish landed on Saturday from the shoreline despite the large tides, and the fishing should only get better. The winds have backed off over the weekend, and sturgeon fishermen are finally able to get out into Suisun Bay. Regular Ron Reisinger of Chico has arrived, and he released 10 shakers on Saturday fishing the shallows in Grizzly Bay with lamprey eel strips.” The lack of wind has also allowed the regular striped bass fishermen out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point to work Garnet Point and the Firing Line with jack smelt, splittail or mudsuckers for huge striped bass. The majority of the big grade of striped bass is in Suisun Bay, as the upper river is loaded with miniscule stripers. Steffen Masters of Lost Anchor Bait at McAvoy’s added, “The striper and sturgeon fishing has picked up outside of the harbor, and grass shrimp has been the top bait for sturgeon. We have been able to keep live grass shrimp in the shop for the past few weeks, and the quality of shrimp is good.” The Old Sacramento River is heating up for salmon with Sylvia Viera of Viera’s Riverside Bait near Isleton stating, “They are finally here, and trollers have been catching fish on green Silvertron spinners in the main Sacramento River near Light 36 and in the Old Sacramento from Isleton to Walnut Grove. The fish are big this year with lots of salmon over 20 pounds, and these are much larger fish than the past two years. Green Silvertrons seem to be the only lure anyone wants to use, but if someone tried a different color, it might work as well. Our parking lot has been filled once again early in the mornings.” Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was on the Sacramento River this week and found there are numerous small fish in the system. Catching fish isn’t a problem, but finding any of size is a challenge. This was the same story for Mark Wilson, striper trolling expert, on Sunday with minimal action at Decker Island before heading down to Broad Slough and into the San Joaquin River near Eddo’s Marina for seven keepers to 6 pounds. Further north near Freeport, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle said, “The salmon bite has been on and off, but it was excellent on Friday with several fish ranging from 10 to 30 pounds by tossing Flying C’s from the shoreline in Courtland or Freeport along with jigging P-Line Laser Minnows or Slammer Minnows below the Freeport Bridge. Liberty Island is picking up for striped bass with live mudsuckers, frozen shad, sardines or swimbaits, but there are lots of shakers out there.” Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the good action for salmon fishermen jigging spoons below the Freeport Bridge, and he was also aware of the green Silvertron phenomenon on the Old Sacramento River. The Rio Vista Striped Bass Derby and Festival is coming Oct. 7-9, and information and registration is available at www.bassfestival.com. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle was the tournament director of the annual Bass Fest out of Russo’s Marina over the weekend of Sept. 10. He said, “The 30 mile-per-hour winds on Sunday made for a very tough bite, but the winning three-fish limit was over 22 pounds with a 9-pound kicker. There were 141 boats in this specialty tournament, which is designed to bring out first-time tournament anglers. Crankbaits in crawdad patterns such as the ima Pinjack on 8-pound test along the edges of the weedlines was one of the best techniques as well as flipping the Havoc Pit Boss in orange/black known as the Vampire.” The overall bass bite has slowed with the larger tides and up-and-down weather conditions, but Kris Huff of Stockton won a small club tournament Sunday with a solid limit, including big fish. Out of B and W Resort on the Mokelumne, Harold Hass of the Fresno Bass Club said, “The hot weather change on Sunday turned on the small bass, but it shut off the larger one, and there were many fish landed on reaction baits early in the morning before the bite slowed. Ron Barksdale landed the big fish at 5.26 pounds on a Senko.” Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported a good chatterbait bite for largemouth bass, and he also was aware of the huge schools of striped bass on the San Joaquin, stating, “Once the weather cools down, the larger fish will be here.” Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley has cancelled the Dan’s Delta Outdoors TOC, scheduled Sept. 24, to allow anglers to meet commitments to other circuits. His regularly scheduled tournaments will resume in October. Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton said, “There are tons of shaker stripers in the San Joaquin River and along Bacon Island Road to the Bacon Island Bridge, and fishermen have to release the sub-legal fish in the 16- to 17-inch range. The best grade of linesides to 23 inches are taken on fresh shad or anchovies working for the smaller fish. There is a topwater bite with white Spooks for stripers, as the fish are boiling on the surface in the early mornings, but these stripers are all small to 17 inches. The Highway 4 Bridge on the Old River has been the best location for stripers to 26 inches with topwater lures. Whiskey Slough is also a good location for largemouth bass to 3 pounds with Speed Traps, Senkos or Rat-L-Traps in crawdad patterns. Bluegill or big redear perch are also coming out of Whiskey Slough and along Bacon Island Road with jumbo red worms. Fresh shad continues to be available in the Stockton-area shops on a daily basis, and the quality is still not as large as normal for this time of year. Call: Randy Pringle, 209-543-6260; Intimidator Sport Fishing, 916-806-3030; Captain Steve Mitchell – Hook’d Up Sport Fishing, 707-655-6736.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
The live bait action in the main San Luis Reservoir is starting to heat up while the trolling bite is a bit more problematic. The lake continues to rise quickly due to heavy pumping from the south Delta, and the main reservoir has jumped up to 22 percent of capacity after dropping to 10 percent two months back. The Forebay is also full of water, and the smallish stripers continue to be plentiful for a variety of techniques. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service reported, “Jordan Combs, a Los Banos dentist, caught and released a new personal best 39-pound striper using a Seaqualizer last Thursday evening while trolling the big lake. Combs has become a consistent big fish angler at the lake. I took out Kent Horn of Madera (on) Sunday, and we caught and released 50 fish from 20 to 25 inches fishing in pretty hot conditions. Half were on top water early, and the rest were trolling lures at 50 to 65 feet in depth. The big lake topwater bite is sporadic from day to day with some good boils one day and little the next. The trolling bite is all over the map with no easy areas or lures. We had to really work to find good patterns and fish, and most trollers were getting low numbers; however, this happened to be one of my best days for numbers guiding in three years. They have also moved the Basalt dock back to the main concrete ramp, making launching much safer. The green algae is terrible now, sticking all over the boat,” George said. Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported, “Since jumbo minnows are back in the shop, along with the good weather on the main lake, there have been more fishermen drifting live bait around the Trash Racks using light kokanee rods and 12-pound test. The troll bite has been slower, as the best is yet to come starting around mid-October, when the water temperature cools down. Bank fishermen have been driving down to the Basalt Recreation Area with live jumbo minnows, pile worms or blood worms for schoolie stripers.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis added, “The stripers have been boiling in the main lake, and anglers are tossing small half-ounce spoons into the boils for stripers to 24 inches.” In the O’Neill Forebay, Meng Xyong of the Fishaholics out of Fresno reported, “The calm winds over the weekend did not affect the fishing for several anglers. They are boiling in the shallows in the early morning for anglers casting lures. Trolling the deepwater flats is yielding good numbers for boaters. Travis Porter of Hollister caught over 56 stripers trolling from morning to mid-day. I took my sons out on Saturday and found the bigger fish in the shallows and a few deep in the channels. I took a fellow FishAholics member out the following day, as we also caught the majority of our fish in the shallows. Once the boils die down, trolling will be your best bet.” Also in the Forebay, Clements said, “The pumping must be going on full bore since the lake is full of water, and there have been several fishermen working the Check 12 or Highway 33 Bridge areas. There is a topwater bite with the Heddon Spit’N Image lures, as we have been selling out of up to 50 of these lures per week.” Gilbert confirmed the good action in the forebay for a smaller grade of striped bass, stating, “Our sales of Lucky Craft Pointers, Duo Realis jerkbaits and SpeedLures has increased in the past few weeks, and fishermen are also starting to return to the California Aqueduct.” Bait fishermen are working around Check 12 with anchovies, jumbo minnows or live grass shrimp. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, 408-463-0711; Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 559-905-2954; San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay wind conditions, 800-805-4805.
Half Moon Bay
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is back in the harbor with a newly repowered vessel just in time to take advantage of the vastly improved salmon bite right out in front of the harbor. He said, “The commercial salmon boats have flooded into the harbor, and my normal berth is filled with a commercial vessel, as the Huli Cat has been in Richmond for over a month. The salmon bite has been very good right outside the harbor from Buoy 1 South, and there are a huge number of boats working the small area. One commercial boat trolled for five hours for nothing before hooking five fish within 15 minutes after dark, and the fish have been big, in the 20- to 25-pound range. The salmon are clearly from the Coastside Fishing Club project, and they will be moving into the harbor soon.” The Huli Cat is back in the business of recreational fishing, and he’s taking reservations for crab combination trips starting with the Nov. 5 opener. Call: Happy Hooker, 510-223-5388; Captain Roger Thomas, Salty Lady, 415-760-9362; Emeryville Sport Fishing, 510-654-6040.
Keith Semler of Chris’ Sport Fishing in Monterey reported continued good ling cod and rockfish action with the Check Mate returning with 31 ling cod and three-quarter limits of rockfish for 26 passengers Sunday with the Caroline posting 17 lings along with half limits of rockfish for 17 anglers. Saturday’s scores were similar with three boats posting from half to three-quarter limits of rockfish and a combined 51 ling cod for 83 fishermen. They have been picking up live sand dabs for the lings, as squid has been on the thin side. In Santa Cruz, Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing reported, “The next few weeks are prime time for fishing in the Monterey Bay region. Summer crowds are gone, days are warm, the number of low-wind days increase, and multiple species remain on the bite. Near shore, rockfish and ling cod are being cooperative. The deeper reefs are a better bet in order to avoid the juveniles who are hanging out in the shallows. Most of the 80- to 120-foot rocky areas are holding suspended schools of nice yellows and black rockfish. Big ling cod, grumpy browns and vermilion can be found right on the bottom, but watch out for snags. Capitola anglers are pulling in lings from Adam’s Reef and the SC3 Buoy areas. Santa Cruz anglers fishing South Rock and the West Cliff Reefs are seeing near-limits of quality rockfish as well. Halibut fishing started slow this year, but the fall season seems to be pretty normal. The big flatties we find in 60-80 feet of water each autumn are here, and they are biting. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reported Sunday, “There were a few halibut caught near Capitola in 70 feet of water. There was an angler bounce-ball trolling for halibut near the Cement Ship that did good. There were some halibut caught in Monterey near the hotel.” Call: Chris’ Landing, 831-375-5951; Bayside Marine, 831-475-2173.
San Francisco Bay
The salmon bite slowed considerably over the weekend with three Sausalito boats picking up 19 salmon to 25 pounds for a combined 53 fishermen Sunday trolling from south of the main shipping channel north to Double Point in excellent weather conditions. Saturday’s scores weren’t much better with 50 fishermen returning with 21 salmon to 23 pounds along with a 12-pound halibut in the same general locations. The Sundance out of Emeryville, generally one of the highliners in the Bay Area salmon fleet, scored three salmon to 24 pounds for six fishermen Saturday. The Tiger Fish went out with 13 anglers for two salmon to 10 pounds before switching and catching 65 rockfish and two lings to 6 pounds. It was similar action Sunday with the C Gull II and Sundance combining for 14 salmon to 25 pounds for 23 fishermen. The best score came off the New Salmon Queen with nine salmon to 23 pounds along with a 10-pound ling. The Tiger Fish really struggled for salmon Sunday with a single 12-pounder for 26 fishermen before switching to rockfishing for half limits and two lings to 10 pounds. Rockfishing remains solid with Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker heading up the Marin coastline for three-quarter limits of rockfish along with 13 ling cod to 15 pounds for 17 anglers Sunday. He said, “There has been an excellent quality of black rockfish, but there was a minimal drift today, limiting the willingness of the fish to bite.” Smith is running open-load trips this week from Wednesday through Sunday for rockfish with the possibility of a salmon trip Thursday, depending on interest and the weather. The Emeryville boats have been heading to the Farallon Islands with 98 anglers returning on the Sea Wolf, New Huck Finn, New Salmon Queen and C Gull II for limits of rockfish and 40 ling cod to 14 pounds Saturday. Sunday’s scores were similar with 56 combined rockfish limits and 38 lings to 13 pounds. Few party boats are working in San Francisco Bay, and the large tides over the weekend limited the halibut action. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait in San Rafael said, “Small striped bass remain the rule, and they are abundant throughout the rockpiles and in San Pablo Bay. If you and I went out to drift live shiners or troll at the top of the tide, we could land between 50 and 100 stripers and maybe a half-dozen would be legal fish to 5 pounds.” Fraser added that leopard shark action remains outstanding with Captain Don Franklin on the Sole Man out of San Francisco’s Pier 45 working Buoy 5 with frozen midshipmen.