Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted. Have a photo of a recent catch to share? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with “fish photo” in the subject line.
Lake Don Pedro
Don Pedro is producing some huge kokanee for this time of the season, but there is concern that there may be only a small number of big fish in the lake. A consistent bite has yet to be found, but the emergence of a thermocline should provide some answers to this question in the coming weeks. The largemouth bass bite has been excellent with topwater lures such as the ima Little Stick or new ima Popper. Randy Pringle, the fishing instructor, found an “off the chain” topwater bite for bass to 4 pounds this week. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was on the lake Saturday and Sunday, and he said, “On Saturday, we got an early start and started out by the dam for a 14-inch king salmon, and we hooked another huge salmon at 35 feet in depth. This fish was burning line, and it eventually came unbuttoned when my young client was on the rod. We ended up with four rainbows and two salmon, losing a few others. There was so much boat traffic on the lake, and we returned to the launch ramp at 2, expecting a huge crowd, but most of the boats were still on the water. Sunday was a bit different with less boat traffic, and we ended up with two limits of rainbows including several rainbows over 2 pounds that were released. Young Jack Thompson of El Dorado Hills was able to land his trophy 4.5-pound rainbow at 53 feet in depth on a custom shad-patterned spoon. I didn’t try for kokanee, only focusing upon the rainbows and king salmon.” Kokanee Power is holding its annual Phil Johnson Memorial Kokanee Tournament on the lake on June 24. Information is available at kokaneepower.org. The lake rose 5 feet to 89 percent capacity and 811.26 in elevation with all launch ramps open. Because of the Controlled Spillway Operation that took place in February, Bonds Flat Road remains closed between Blue Oaks Campground and the DPRA Headquarters Visitor Center. If you are going to Fleming Meadows or the Visitor Center, you will need to take Highway 132 through La Grange, drive 8 miles east, then turn left on Bonds Flat Road. Access to Moccasin Point via Highway 120 and Blue Oaks via J59/La Grange Road is not affected. Bonds Flat Road repairs are to commence later this summer. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550
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The crappie bite has improved considerably, and fishermen are using minijigs or small minnows around structure. Bass fishing is best with Pro Worm’s 266 or Berserk Baits Green Craw jigs at depths from 25-45 feet as the fish are feeding. There is an early-morning topwater bite. The launch ramps at Barrett Cove and McClure Point are open. The lake continues to be as full as it has been in several years, rising 13 feet to 85 percent capacity and 844.09 in elevation.
The recent trout plant has rekindled bank action at the normal locations of the brush pile, handicapped docks and the peninsula near the marina with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers or Kastmasters. As the fish scatter into the colder water of the river arm, Wedding Rings tipped with a piece of nightcrawler behind a dodger or blue/chrome Kastmasters will do the trick for trollers. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
High water levels at New Melones are scattering the bass throughout the lake and finding a location holding multiple fish has been a challenge for bass fishermen. John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “When the fish are spread out from deep to shallow water and are in transition from spring to summer patterns, one of the best ways to locate fish is with a reaction bait. Lures that can be fished at a faster speed and cover a variety of depths will help anglers find areas that are holding fish. Once a productive area is found, switching to a slower moving presentation is a good idea. A few reaction baits that have been bringing us consistent results include; spinnerbaits, crankbaits and small swimbaits. When choosing colors keep in mind that the fish are feeding on shad, sunfish and baby bass. Try topwater in the mornings and evenings. Soft plastic baits work well once the fish have been located. A dropshot rig with a long leader will help keep your bait off the bottom and above the flooded vegatation (which is now decomposing). A Senko is another great option and many fish will take it before it reaches the bottom. It also works well as a follow-up bait to catch fish that have short struck a spinnerbait or swirled on a topwater bait.” On Friday, Liechty went searching for giant bass with large swimbaits, and although they had a couple of changes they failed to connect. While Liechty’s clients were tossing swimbaits, he would occasionally flip a Senko in front of the boat, and he landed a 6.3-pound largemouth this way while the Senko was lifeless on the bottom. The occasional kokanee can be taken at depths to 20 feet near the dam and spillway with spinners and hoochies behind a Rocky Mountain sling blade in purple/pink while rainbow trout are still possible with minnow plugs or spoons. Catfishing is getting better and better as the water warms, and the whiskerfish can be found in near submerged rock near inlets. Crappie fishing has improved with the slabs holding around submerged rock and timber. Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp is holding their Sizzling Summer Seminars on Saturday, June 17, with seminars from Gary Burns of Take It To The Limit Guide Service, Cory Keller of Tasmanian Devil’s, local bass angler Josh Parris, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service, Vance Staplin of Vance’s Products, and Nick Smith of the Informative Fisherman. Angels Cove and the main ramp on Glory Hole Point are open, with one ramp at Tuttletown. For campers, there is one campground open on the Glory Hole side of the lake and two open at Tuttletown. New Melones is releasing water down the Stanislaus River, but the reservoir has risen 2 feet to 87 percent capacity and 1,060.44 in elevation. Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383
San Luis Reservoir
and O’Neill Forebay
With the high lake levels, there is great interest in focusing on night fishing for striped bass at San Luis Reservoir. Most fishermen are working the shore around Basalt Recreation Area or Dinosaur Point with big flukes or topwater lures. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We have a number of anglers who are coming to the shop at around 3 p.m. to head to the lake known locally as ‘152.’ We sold out of our supply of big flukes in white or white ice, and most fishermen are heading to the main lake.” Paul Jolley at Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “There are shad boils near the shorelines in the mornings and evenings, and with the stripers chasing up the baitfish, umbrella rigs with small shad-patterned lures are working. Trollers are scoring at depths from 30-40 feet with P-Line Predator Minnows, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, or Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s while a number of boats are working extra-large minnows near the trash racks.” The shad are stacked up near the trash racks and the stripers are hugging the water at depths from 80-100 feet in the Portuguese Cove and Dinosaur Point areas. In the O’Neill Forebay, Paul Jolley reported good action for small stripers with ripbaits or topwater lures along with anchovies, chicken livers, blood worms or pile worms. The dam area is off limits for any fishing, day or night, and the Basalt side of the lake requires anglers to walk there from the locked road gate just past the Basalt State Park Kiosk to fish past closing time. San Luis has dropped to 94 percent capacity. Nearby Los Banos Creek Reservoir has been outstanding for largemouth bass, including trophy fish to 10.4 pounds on ripbaits. 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.
Stripers are making their move down from the upper Sacramento River tributaries, and the first real push of fish came through over the weekend. Shad fishing in the Freeport to Clarksburg area remains solid, and the larger females have still yet to arrive in force. Sturgeon fishing is best in lower Suisun Bay, but there are few boats out trying. J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing was the only guide participating in Saturday’s California Striped Bass Association/Isleton Chapter’s second annual Take a Local Hero Fishing Day, taking out anglers from the U.S. Coast Guard for wide-open action with spoons and swimbaits. He said, “We must have landed 70 stripers, and we released everything.” In the upper river, bank fishermen are casting 1- to 1.5-ounce egg sinkers above shad darts for good scores of mostly males. The bulk of the shad run is in the metropolitan Sacramento area near the mouth of the American or up the American from Sunrise to Howe Avenue, but there is still good action in the north Delta. Bluegill have moved into the shore in the sloughs, and the Delta Loop off Highway 12 is a good location to try for the panfish with jumbo red worms. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported quality stripers have been landed from the Benicia shore with anchovies, blood worms, or pile worms. He said, “There have been some quality striped bass taken under the Benicia/Martinez Bridge and at the Dillon Point State Park. Few sturgeon fishermen have been out, but the fish are still holding in Montezuma Slough and the Carquinez Straits.” For the first time in memory, grass shrimp may be available in area shops as Lopez was cleaning out the bait tank in preparation. Steffan Masters of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle at McAvoy’s Boat is also preparing for grass shrimp from his shrimp boat. Largemouth bass continue to challenge fishermen wanting to will the reaction bite, but the conditions are still calling for a slow approach. A few striped bass are available, but most of the San Joaquin stripers are spawned out and moving back to San Francisco Bay. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “The water is still dirty on the Sacramento River.” In the San Joaquin, Mathisen said, “I have finally figured out the pattern right now as there are a number of largemouth bass still in pre-spawn and holding at depths from 6-12 feet. We have been working on the outside edges, and when the tide is moving, ‘the fish are chewing.’ I have been using a Squirrel Tail by Big Bite 4 inches above the weight along with the 6.5-inch Zoom Trick Worm in either crawdad or bluegill patterns over heavy weight from 3-5 ounces. The bluegill are moving up, and the river says March, but it is actually June. Cold water from the Tuolumne and Stanislaus Rivers are flowing into the south Delta, and the water temperature has dropped in a number of locations. The bite is good if you figure it out, but everyone wants to fish fast when the fish want a slow presentation. A number of fishermen are targeting shallow fish, but these are only around for a few hours, and the other times they are holding on the ledges. We are catching fish that we should have caught in March, and every time a front moves through, the fish back off again. My wife, Sandra, and I caught and released largemouths at 8, 7, and 5 pounds, and all of the fish were pre-spawn.” Randy Pringle, the fishing instructor, had a similar report of the need to slow down as the water temperatures have dropped into the 60s. He said, “The Florida-strain largemouth don’t like cold water, and the bite is behind in several areas of the Delta. Some fishermen are saying, ‘There is something wrong with the Delta,’ but we are just behind due to the colder water and the number of fronts moving through this spring. It is a good idea to use scent such as the new Berkley Power Bait Max Scent or Pro-Cure and to fish slower even if you want to fish fast.” Steve Johnson of H and R Bait in Stockton reported good action for striped bass on the outgoing tide on the San Joaquin River at the Highway 4 Bridge with Super Flukes. He said, “We must have landed 50-60 stripers, and most of the fish were in the 20- to 23-inch range. The stripers were gorging on shad, and one of the fishermen on the bridge gave us a tip that the fish were there. Other than this, a 14-pounder was landed on the Old River so there are still some larger stripers around. Bluegill are all over the place in every slough with red worms, and we have once again received a supply of fresh shad.” Restrictions in the San Joaquin River were modified May 22, with the rules lifted in many areas. Details are available at www.sjgov.org/department/oes/current. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030; Captain Steve Mitchell – Hook’d Up Sport Fishing (707) 655-6736