Lake Don Pedro
Lake Don Pedro has been in a long period of slumber, but there are signs the rainbow trout action is finally turning around. Along with the rainbows, bass fishing is heating up as the water continues to cool down. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “It looks like it is time to go fishing, as there have been reports of limits of rainbow trout with three of the fish at 15, 18 and 19 inches taken on Speedy Shiners behind a Sling Blade within the top 20 feet of the surface. I would run a Speedy Shiner or one of my custom spoons without the flasher, but it is apparent that this setup worked for this fisherman. With the fish so high in the water column, the lake must have turned over, and all of the trout were stuffed with shad. I will be out scouting on the lake within the week.” Bass fishing has also improved with Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford saying, “Bass fishermen are catching decent fish in the 2- to 4-pound range with Pro Worms 124p or with jigs such as the Berserk Purple Hornet or brown/purple at depths from 25 to 35 feet. We are also selling lots of trout dough bait for Don Pedro so there must be a good trout bite from the banks.” Don Pedro rose slightly to 769.46 feet in elevation and 67 percent. Call: Monte Smith, 209-581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, 209-586-2383; Gary Vella, 209-652-7550; Bait Barn, 209-874-3011.
Bass fishing has picked up with plastics on the bottom at depths from 25 to 35 feet for fish averaging from 1.5 to 2 pounds with the occasional spotted bass running 4 pounds. Robo Worms Margarita Mutilator, Pro Worms 124p and the Berserk Purple Hornet jig are working. The launch ramps are back in play at the Barrett’s Cove North and South launch ramps. The ramps are on the concrete, and there is more than 100 feet of water on the concrete at both ramps with the ability to launch two boats side-by-side on the south ramp. The lake held at 38 percent of capacity, dropping less than a foot to 741.84 feet in elevation. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505.
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The planted rainbows are moving into the river arm, as they have acclimated to the lake. The best action from the shoreline is in the early mornings or late afternoons along the normal shoreline locations of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks and the marina with various colors of Power Bait along with inflated nightcrawlers or silver/blue Kastmasters. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The trout action at New Melones continues to roll on, and a number of the impressive holdover rainbows came to the net this past week. Bass fishing has improved as the fish transition to a fall-like pattern, feeding heavily in preparation for the cold winter months. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “For trout, the water temperature continues to cool, and with each coming week, the rainbows are moving into the shallows and towards the surface. The shad have been schooling in deep water, and they are starting to migrate into the shallows in the coves and creek channels. The trout will follow the shad. Rainbows in the 2- to 5-pound range have been taken by trollers running shad-patterned Rapalas or heavy spoons at depths from 80 to 100 feet in the main lake between the dam and spillway while a few trollers are starting to work leadcore line or toplining in the early mornings. Bank fishermen are beginning to pick up a few fish on trout dough bait or a nightcrawler/marshmallow combination. The bite will generally turn on around Thanksgiving.” For bass, Liechty, who also runs Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service said, “I went fun fishing with a good friend of mine, Josh Parris, and we threw nothing but big swimbaits in search of a giant bite. About an hour before dark, a giant fish crushed my bait. After a short fight, we netted, weighed and released her.” The most productive depth for bass has been in the 35- to 45-foot range along areas where the bass will push and ambush bait. Shad-patterned plastic worms on a dart head or shaky head are effective as well as in crawdad patterns on a three-quarter-ounce football head jig. The Glory Hole Sports Catfish Derby started at the beginning of November, and Liechty said, “It has been a slow start, leaving the door wide open for anyone to win. It is just a matter of time before we start to see some of those giant catfish that New Melones has to offer.” The cold winter months can be a good time to target crappie by looking in the back of major creek channels around standing timber with small minnows or minijigs. The Glory Hole launch ramp will remain on the dirt until the lake rises during the winter months. A courtesy dock will be available throughout the coming months. The recent rains have brought the lake up one foot to 862.84 feet in elevation and 22 percent. 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 recent rains in late November have muddied the Sacramento River, and along with dropping water temperatures, sturgeon fishing has been remarkable. Striped bass have slowed with the off-color water, and bait fishermen have the upper hand at the present time. An occasional salmon has been taken in the upper Delta below Freeport by trollers pulling Brad’s Cut Plugs behind a Pro-Troll Flasher, but the muddy water will slow the remainder of the salmon run for the time being. Out of Martinez, Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing took his second sturgeon trip Saturday, and he said, “I have to say, it is starting out to be a good season. The first trip I had a light load of three fishermen. We had quite a few good bites and landed five sturgeon.” Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing found a good sturgeon bite this week with three keepers along with another legal sturgeon lost. He said, “The sturgeon bite has been spotty, but we were able to land at least one keeper on previous trips. The conditions are perfect right now, as the water temperature has dropped to 58 degrees in the main river. Lamprey eel is working best, as the salmon roe is not as effective in the colder water.” Further north in the Freeport area, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle reported good sturgeon action in Prospect and Cache Slough along with the main Sacramento River near Courtland and Freeport. He said, “Lamprey eel/nightcrawler combinations or pile worms are the top baits. Striper fishing is good in the main Sacramento River with sardines while live mudsuckers are working in the Deep Water Channel, Prospect Slough and around Liberty Island.” Huge stripers in the 30- to 40-pound range continue to be caught and kept out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor on live splittail or jack smelt. Jay Lopes went striper fishing earlier in the week in the north Delta, drifting live mudsuckers for up to six limits to 10 pounds. He said, “The fish are holding along the edges in deeper water, and live bait is working best.” Mark Wilson, striped bass trolling expert, went in the Sacramento River Delta from Broad Slough into Montezuma Slough, and he caught and released striped bass at 9 and 16 pounds using shallow-diving Rat-L-Traps or the new P-Line Predator prototype deep-diving lure that runs below 16 feet. Striped bass of a larger grade are moving into the San Joaquin Delta, and the small fish that dominated action for several weeks seem to have been replaced by their larger brethren. Largemouth bass fishing has been slow overall as the water conditions are changing. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “Striper fishing has been better than it has been all year long, and arms are tired from catching so many fish. Remember a few weeks ago when we were catching 30 to 50 stripers and only one or two were of keeper size? This week, I went out for 2.5 hours, and I landed 28 keeper stripers and only four shorts working mid-river humps in 6 to 8 feet of water with hair jigs or the Optimum 5-inch Bad Bubba Shad swimbait. The topwater bite continues to be slow, but it is coming.” Mathisen continued to report that every 10th to 15th fish landed while targeting striped bass is a largemouth bass in the 3- to 5-pound range, as the bigger largemouths are holding with the striper schools, chasing shad. Those targeting largemouth bass are finding difficult action, and the overall grade of fish is small with anglers struggling for a limit in the 8- to 12-pound range. Drop-shotting with the new Strike King Power Finesse worm in purple or shad colors works best, and ripbaits have also been effective for the small bass. Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported, “Delta fishing is heating up as we approach winter, and the water temps have dropped into the mid 50s to 60 degrees, depending on time of day. The stripers are very aggressive and taking larger flies, and the bigger stripers are starting to show.” 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 O’Neill Forebay remained the top spot for Central California striped bass fishermen, as water from the south Delta continues to be pumped through the reservoir on its way to the main San Luis Reservoir. The main lake has risen to 40 percent over the past week. Meng Xyong of the Fishaholics out of Fresno said, “The bite is slowing down into a winter transition phase. Fishermen are finding it harder to catch the quantity of fish that has been abundant the past few months. Most fish can be found hugging the bottom or working the deep water channels.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Stripers in the 16- to 24-inch range are common, and we are selling more and more Duo Realis jerkbaits, Lucky Craft Pointer 128s or Storm swimbaits in bluegill or shad patterns for the forebay.” Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported a topwater bite in the early mornings or late afternoons along with jerkbaits for school-sized striped bass. Most fishermen are heading to the forebay instead of the main lake. In the main San Luis Reservoir, the striped bass are schooling at depths from 40 to 100 feet as the shad schools are starting to ball up. Jumbo minnows or 1.5-ounce Duh! Spoons, Kastmasters or hair raisers are working for the striped bass once the schools are located. Shore fishermen are soaking blood worms, pile worms or anchovies for the occasional striped bass. Roger George of Roger George Guide Service sad the overall bite has been slow after the super moon and weather fronts. “The fish are suspending and holding deep, making it tough to find an active bite. I expect things to turn around soon as conditions stabilize,” he said. “The huge inputs of over 17,000 acre-feet per day – for the last two days – is exciting and will change everything.” 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
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey said, “The swell has been big down here, but we were able to get out over the weekend. The crab counts are getting better and better, and we are focusing exclusively on getting rockfish limits without spending much time on ling cod with the big swell.” The Check Mate was out on Sunday with 23 passengers for 73 crab along with three-quarter limits of ling cod and three lings. On Saturday, the Star of Monterey, Caroline and Check Mate were all out with the Star returning with 19 limits of rockfish and a ling, the Check Mate scoring 62 crab along with 17 limits of rockfish and three lings, and the Caroline posting 38 crab, three-quarter limits of rockfish and a ling for 15 anglers. They have room throughout the upcoming week and even next Sunday. Out of Pacifica, Rob Chaney of Rusty Hook Bait and Tackle reported rough ocean conditions are not keeping fishermen from heading to the Pacifica Pier in search of crab with snares. The L section of the pier is closed indefinitely, and the only access is on the straight section of the pier. Snares are still the best bet with the rough conditions, and the Rusty Hook has sold more than 450 snares since the opener. Fishing is limited to the occasional small striped bass on blood worms or pile worms. Call: Happy Hooker, 510-223-5388; Captain Roger Thomas, Salty Lady, 415-760-9362; Emeryville Sport Fishing, 510-654-6040.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service reported, “Wednesday’s trip aboard the beautiful Miss Beth also netted near-limits of Dungeness crab but only half-limits of rockfish.” Skipper Jim Rubin did report seeing a good number of bluefin tuna in the area, which might bode well for tuna fishing in the near future. Good news on the surfcasting front. Beaches south of Seacliff are starting to get in shape due to the heavy wave action of the past few weeks. We are starting to see holes and rip currents emerge as sand is scoured from the flat summer beaches. This is very promising for perch fishing as well as hunting for the elusive Monterey Bay striped bass.” Call: Chris’ Landing, 831-375-5951; Bayside Marine, 831-475-2173.
San Francisco Bay
It was ugly outside the Gate on Saturday and Sunday, and Chris Smith on the California Dawn and Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker cancelled their combination trips due to the ocean conditions. Papa Smith was able to run Friday, and they pulled 25 pots for 29 limits of crab along with good rockfishing. Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael was able to receive a shipment of live crab Saturday, as their crab boat went out in the rough conditions to pull their pots. Fishing in the bay was minimal last weekend due to the wind and “crummy” weather, but he added, “Right now would be the best time to be out there with the big outgoing tide with some Loch Lomond ghost shrimp.” Fraser likes those big San Pablo Bay outgoing tides.