Lake Don Pedro
The weather was uncooperative during last Saturday’s Future Pro Tour event at Lake Don Pedro, but the high winds didn’t stop the small bass from biting jigs or plastics on the drop-shot. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported, “The weather was beautiful in the early morning, but after 8:30 a.m., it blew hard with winds in the 30- to 45-mph range. It was very trying to control the boat in the high winds, but we still managed to catch between 40 and 50 fish for a limit at 10.8 pounds for fifth place out of 46 teams. The winning weight was 12.99 pounds, and this is half of what Pedro should be producing at this time of year. We starting off throwing topwater lures first thing in the morning, but we couldn’t get bit so I switched over to the Berserk Junior Special jig or the Pro Worm 124p on the drop-shot for all of our fish. There were a number of small fish caught, and we culled at least eight keepers for our limit. The surface temperature was 67 degrees in the morning, and I thought the topwater bite would be on, but it wasn’t happening for us or the other teams. The best action came on jigs in green or brown/purple at depths from 25 to 40 feet.” There have been few trout or king salmon trollers heading to the lake, but once the lake turns over near the end of November, the fish should rise to the surface, leading to improved action. The lake dropped slightly to 64 percent of capacity and 764.61 feet in elevation. Call: Monte Smith, 209-581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, 209-586-2383; Gary Vella, 209-652-7550; Bait Barn, 209-874-3011.
At Lake McClure on the Merced River watershed, the Barrett Cove South launch ramp is still in the water, but it requires a long backup to launch a boat. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “I have talked to at least four fishermen this week who report that McClure is on fire for spotted bass in the 3- to 4-pound range with topwater lures or jigs. The launch ramp situation is difficult, but if you don’t mind difficult, you are able to get into quality bass fishing.” The lake has dropped 2.5 feet to 734.93 feet in elevation and 36 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505.
Trout fishing is fair with the catchable rainbows from the plant at the beginning of the month moving out from the shoreline areas into deeper water toward the Exchequer Dam up the river arm. The best action is in the early mornings or late evenings with Power Bait, inflated nightcrawlers or Kastmasters near the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks or along the marina. Trolling is best in the river arm with Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a flasher, blade/’crawler combinations or Kastmasters in blue/chrome at depths to 20 feet. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Holdover rainbow trout are starting to make their mark on the lake, and with the advent of cooling weather, the rainbows should be moving in closer to the surface and shorelines. Catfish are another solid bet, as this is the time when the big whiskerfish move into the shallows. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “The lake is kicking out some big 3- to 5-pound holdover rainbow trout, and although fishermen are not catching a bunch of fish, the ones landed are extremely healthy. The rainbows are gorging on shad over the deepest portions of the lake where the water temperature is coolest. Bob James of Murphys took our big fish of the week with a 5.5-pound rainbow trolling a brightly colored Rapala as deep as 110 feet near the dam. Right now, trollers are finding the fish at depths from 70 to 90 feet with shad-patterned lures. Bright-colored lures are working best on overcast days while natural patterns are best on sunny days.” Bank fishermen should start to find rainbows within a few weeks. Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp will hold a Catfish Derby in November with registration $10/angler. Three fish total 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. Registration began Oct. 1. Liechty added, “We are seeing some big catfish being caught, and we hope to see some giants come to the scales during the month of November. Many of the biggest catfish will be caught on frozen fish. Shad, mackerel and anchovies are all good choices for bait. Be sure to grab a box of crawlers before each outing and try using them in combination with other stink baits, catfish dipping worms and dough baits. The bass bite has been a bit slow, and many anglers are struggling to catch fish. There is an abundance of shad, and the fish are feeding in short bursts and then resting. Finding actively feeding fish is the key to catching a bunch. The lake is full of healthy 2-pound spotted bass and has some giant largemouth as well. The crappie bite has slowed, but as the water cools, the slabs will concentrate around the mouth of creek channels. The Glory Hole launch ramp is on the dirt and will remain so until the lake rises during the winter months. A courtesy dock will be available throughout the coming months. The draw-down of the lake has slowed, but the lake dropped slightly to 863.25 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.
The 69th annual Rio Vista Bass Derby and Festival was a huge success with between 430 and 440 participants competing for cash prizes in three divisions: striped bass, sturgeon and salmon. Barry Canevaro, organizer of the Rio Vista Bass Derby, stated, “This was the best derby since I’ve been involved. We had the best weather, and we also had the most fish of all categories check in. We had over 25 sturgeon brought in this year, and last year, there were only three. Most striped bass were caught on bait, and many stripers were caught in the Sherman Island and Decker Islands below Rio Vista.” A mixed grade of salmon continue to move through the Sacramento Delta with solid action on the main Sacramento River north of the Rio Vista Bridge to the mouth of the Old Sacramento. Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “The salmon bite has been really good north of Rio Vista, and regulars are scoring limits every weekday pulling Silvertron spinners. I think these are fish that were released four to five years ago out of the Rio Vista area, and the salmon are holding outside of the Old Sacramento River as if they are confused. In the past, few fishermen have been trolling for salmon in the main river north of the bridge, but this has been the best location for trollers the past couple of years.” Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport added, “Salmon are still coming below the Freeport Bridge, and some are changing color while others are still bright. A 28-pounder was brought in on Sunday from below the bridge on a Mepp’s Flying C spinner. Trollers continue to score with Silvertron spinners or Kwikfish while spooning with P-Line Predator Minnows or Slammer Minnows remain a good option.” In the Mokelumne River, Ted Handel of the Central Valley Anglers in Lodi reported a good turnout during last weekend’s annual Salmon Derby with 64 anglers enjoying a culminating taco feed at the end of the event at Wimpy’s Marina. “Most fishermen were using double-bladed Silvertrons with 2 ounces of weight in the 63-degree water temperatures,” Handel said. For striped bass, Mark Wilson, striper trolling expert, was out twice within the past week and said, “The action really slowed down with only five keepers to 21 inches taken from Decker Island to Montezuma Slough and into the San Joaquin River to False River. There was some larger striper carcasses in the dumpster at Brannan Island State Park, so it may be a better bait bite right now than a troll bite.” In the Benicia area, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “There was a report of 26 salmon landed at 1st Street in Benicia early in the week, and the State Park remains crowded along the shorelines, particularly on the weekends. Alan Fong was in Liberty Island for striped bass earlier in the week, and he reported only a few keeper stripers, but the largemouth bass action was hot with chatterbaits and Brush Hogs. The water was clear at the end of the weekend, but the area may muddy up with the flows coming down from the upper Sacramento River. Sturgeon fishing has improved considerably, and Sherman Island to the Rio Vista Bridge has been a top location with grass shrimp, ghost shrimp or lamprey eel/nightcrawler combinations. Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton reported a 56-incher was taken from the bank area off Sherman Island with an eel/nightcrawler combination. Striped bass and sturgeon are showing up with greater consistency in the San Joaquin Delta while salmon are taken along the Antioch shoreline while still in the Sacramento system. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “There are lots of small stripers in the system, and a big one will run 12 pounds. The bass bite is iffy, but there is a wake-bait bite in moving water along points as well as swimjigs and chatterbaits. The Bobby D’s Golden Shiner spinnerbait is in high demand, as it is working when the wind is blowing. There is also an emerging bite on Rat-L-Traps and the Strike King’s Red Eye Shad. There is a topwater bite coming” Salmon have arrived in force in the Antioch area, and Mathisen reported 30 fish per day are coming from the deepwater trough in front of the Humphrey’s Pier in Antioch. Mepp’s Flying C or Captain Stan’s heavy spinner are working best. A number of salmon have been landed by bass fishermen throwing crankbaits on the San Joaquin River, including one uniformed individual who posted his salmon fillets on Facebook. Salmon fishing is prohibited in the San Joaquin River. Steffen Masters of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle in Antioch confirmed the excellent salmon bite from Humphrey’s Pier with Uncle Mike’s Custom Spinners. Also out of Antioch, Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait reported sturgeon fishing has been good from Bay Point to Rio Vista, and a legal sturgeon was landed off Antioch Fishing Pier on ghost shrimp. He said, “Stripers in the 24- to 27-inch range have been caught inside of Sherman Lake on shad or live mudsuckers, and salmon are being taken from the shoreline off Big Break or Humphrey’s Pier.” The first major sturgeon derby of the year, the Addathon IronMan Derby, is coming to Antioch on Nov. 5-6. 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
High winds kept boats off the main San Luis Reservoir and Forebay last weekend, but both lakes are kicking out numbers of striped bass. The main reservoir is starting to release water again, but it held at 25 percent of capacity due to pumping out of the Delta. In the main lake, Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported, “The striper bite is on right now with many fishermen taking out jumbo minnows for numbers of stripers in the 18- to 20-inch range. There haven’t been many large fish caught, but it is close to the time when the bigger stripers start showing up. The Trash Racks has been the top location for those drifting jumbo minnows, and every once in awhile, someone hooks a larger fish.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun confirmed the good action for schoolie stripers from 18 to 20 inches, but Dan Green of Fresno landed a 23-pound striped bass while trolling in the main lake near the Trash Racks. Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said the high winds put a damper on the bite at San Luis but the bite should rebound this weekend with the predicted high pressure settling in. “Meng Xyong and I put on a striper seminar at Sportsman’s Warehouse on Saturday covering San Luis, the Forebay and the Aqueduct, and we had over 100 anglers attend it. That kind of attendance just shows you how many anglers are interested in learning how to catch stripers. Sportsman’s is talking about making it an annual event with more boats, vendors, company reps and Prostaff next year,” George said. In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements said, “There is a good topwater bite in the early mornings or late afternoons with Poppers, larger Zara Spooks or flukes with or without an underspin head near the boat dock along the North Shore, around the twin islands or near the flats along Highway 152. The stripers range from 8 to 20 inches, and there are a number of small, undersized fish in the mix. The blood worm and pile worm bite has slowed down, and most fishermen are using either jumbo minnows or lures from the shorelines.” 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
Rockfish remain the top story out of Pillar Point in advance of the upcoming Dungeness crab season opening Nov. 5. The recreational crab opener out of Half Moon Bay has become one of the highlights of the entire year with private boaters arriving from throughout Northern California to camp, congregate and prepare for some massive crab boils. The salmon bite outside the harbor has slowed considerably over the past two weeks with few boats trolling between the buoys, but the harbor is loaded with shore fishermen tossing Mad River pink worms on a floatie or tossing heavy spinners. Second captain Michael Cabanas of the Huli Cat has been conducting rockfish/ling cod trips south of the harbor, and in addition to consistent limits of rockfish and a healthy ling cod count, a surprise bonus halibut makes a showing on occasion. During the past week on the Huli Cat, John Yang of San Mateo dropped a swimbait on the first stop of the day, and he was rewarded with a 22-pound halibut. The Huli Cat is taking Dungeness crab/rockfish combination trips starting with the crab opener Nov. 5. They are filled for the opening weekend, but there is room on weekdays and subsequent weekends. A few boats are still optimistically making the long run in search of albacore, but so far, the longfins have yet to make a showing. One private boat ran out to the Guide Seamount and trolled southwest of the seamount for a good bird show from a flock working the surface, but there were no albacore hooked despite witnessing at least one jumper. The recreational rock crab season is currently closed north of Pigeon Point in San Mateo County due to high levels of domoic acid. Call: Happy Hooker, 510-223-5388; Captain Roger Thomas, Salty Lady, 415-760-9362; Emeryville Sport Fishing, 510-654-6040.
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey said, “We were able to get out on both Friday and Saturday for 19 limits of rockfish along with a ling on the Caroline with 30 limits of rockfish on the Caroline. We didn’t use any live bait, and the goal was to focus on rockfish in the challenging weather conditions. It was good that we cancelled on Sunday because it was less than ideal out there. Other than a charter on Wednesday, we are open for rockfish/ling cod trips throughout the week.” Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting said, “The past week was very productive all around the bay. Go Fish Santa Cruz took the beautiful Miss Beth off Natural Bridges and Wilder Ranch areas on Wednesday and Thursday. Captain Jim Rubin called conditions ‘drop-dead gorgeous,’ and clients caught full limits of rockfish, including blues, blacks and olives. Launching from Moss Landing, Kahuna Sportfishing fished the Big Sur area on Monday. Owner Carol Jones called it a ‘spectacular day down the coast fishing for rockfish and lingcod. Our group of 15 anglers landed limits of rockfish with some nice coppers, vermilion, a few cabezone and two around on the ling cod to 15 pounds.”
Perhaps most exciting is the increasing number of bluefin tuna sighted within Monterey Bay. A number of reports were forwarded over the past couple weeks claiming bluefin jumpers near Point Pinos in Monterey. This week, the rumors are solidifying, according to Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine. Fraser said, “There have been a few boats looking for bluefin and seeing them. The bluefin are in the same area as last year, about 9-13 miles out. The anglers are having a hard time getting these fish to bite due to their spooky nature.” In 2015, we enjoyed a month or so of bluefin fishing with the tuna grounds stretching from Davenport down to just outside Santa Cruz, in 400-1,400 feet of water. Hopefully, the weekend storm didn’t drive these fish away. Speaking of tuna, everyone is invited to the 39th annual Albacore Feed, a benefit dinner for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Fresh albacore is coming from Oregon this year for the dinner and raffle extravaganza. The event takes place Nov. 12 at the Castroville Recreation Center, 11621 Crane Street, Castroville. Tickets cost only $20 and are available at the door or via the MBSTP website www.mbstp.org. Call: Chris’ Landing, 831-375-5951; Bayside Marine, 831-475-2173.
San Francisco Bay
All boats were tied to the docks over the weekend with the rough weather outside the Gate, but Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker was able to take a charter out into the bay Friday for striped bass at Red Rock and the Brothers. He said, “We made a few passes at the Brothers for stripers to 8 pounds, but the fish scattered very quickly, just like they had in the Delta earlier in the week.” Salmon season wraps up at the end of this month, and the trolling trips before the weekend’s storm produced far less than a fish per rod. Many party boats are already filled for the opening weekend of the Dungeness crab season starting Nov. 5, and the best action for the largest crab will occur within the first two weeks of the season before the commercial crab opener. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker is filled for the opening weekend, but he has plenty of room during the weekdays and the following weekend. The combination trips are going for $130/angler with crab-only trips Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $90. The 10-crab limit has been a big incentive for fishermen to head out on a party boat.