Lake Don Pedro
The lake remains in the doldrums, and the trout and king salmon action will not improve until the water cools. As a result, there are few trout anglers heading to the lake. Bass fishing is fair at best with live minnows or shad-patterned plastics on the drop-shot. The boat launch has a slight curve, but once you get around the curve, launching two boats at the same time is possible. A grant for the improvement of the Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp has been approved, and construction to create a two-lane ramp should start shortly. The lake rose one foot to 672.21 feet in elevation and 31 percent 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.
McClure continues to be a solid option for Mother Lode bass anglers, but they’ll have to be willing to walk a long way to the lake to cast a lure. The lake continues to release water, and it has dropped 2.5 feet to 8 percent capacity. The concentrated low water pool, combined with minimal angling pressure over the past few years, has led to an excellent bass bite from the shoreline. Kayakers are launching from the shoreline, and they are also getting in on the action with drop-shot plastics or by vertically jigging small spoons. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford said McClure has been solid for bass with shad-patterned plastics on the drop-shot such as Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad, Reaction Innovations Bad Shad Green or Pro Worm’s Pro Gold over the suspended fish. The bass are oriented toward the schools of baitfish, which are starting to ball up. Small boats can be launched from the Barrett Cove North Ramp, but there is limited parking near the end of the ramp. Few boats are launching, but kayaks, float tubes and canoes can be launched by hand. The low water in the Merced River has led to the emergency closure of the section from the Crocker-Huffman Bridge to G Street in Snelling until Jan. 1. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505; Bub Tosh, 209-404-0053.
The annual Merced Irrigation Derby Fall Trout Derby has been postponed until April 9-10 due to warm water conditions at the lake. McSwain Marina is now closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Few anglers have been heading to the lake with the lack of trout plants since April. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
At New Melones, the light switch turned on with the recent cool weather, leading John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp to say, “Everything is living up to our expectations.” The bait fish are moving closer to the surface and balling up every day, which is the typical fall pattern. Trout trolling is taking off for the first time in several months, and bass are there for the taking with a variety of methods. The catfish bite remains solid, and crappie are also emerging from a slumber. For bass, Lietchy found great action with more than 100 bass caught and released on Friday’s trip with the majority taken drop-shotting plastics for the suspended fish. “It’s crazy good,” he said. “Once you find the fish, it was outstanding with 20 fish caught on 20 casts.” There is a good spoon bite with half- to three-quarter-ounce P-Line Laser Minnows in black shad or blue shad over the bait bails. Jigs and plastics on the shaky head are also productive techniques, and using electronics is essential to locating the bait as the fish are found at different depths. Catfish to 17.5 pounds were landed last week, and with the cooler weather they are staying active during the daylight hours. Frozen shad, sardines, anchovies and nightcrawlers are all productive baits, but the big fish of the week was landed on a live crawdad. Trout fishing has improved with the few trollers out on the lake returning with limits running heavy spoons amidst the schools of bait. The rainbows are moving closer to the surface in response to cooling water temperatures. Crappie are even becoming more active, and live minnows or minijigs near submerged structure are working for the slabsides. There is submerged timber throughout the shoreline with the low water levels. The lake rose nearly 2 feet to 12 percent capacity and 801.2 feet in elevation. Tulloch rose a half-foot to 500.94 feet in elevation and 84 percent capacity with more water releases anticipated. 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 Luis Reservoir
and O’Neill Forebay
In the main San Luis Reservoir, Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill said the best action has been with jumbo minnows for limits of striped bass ranging from 24 to 28 inches. The key is using electronics to locate the bait fish, and the stripers will be in the area feeding on the shad. Trollers are having to cover lots of water to find the schools, and the best action continues to be around the Trash Racks or the mouth of Portuguese Cove. There have been some huge stripers landed from the shoreline on reaction baits and live jumbo minnows. Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said the bite has been sporadic with very windy or dead calm conditions at times. “I pre-fished the afternoon last Friday and the heat and calm made for tough fishing for everyone. I only landed and released six fish in the 21- to 23-inch range,” he said. “Water temps are 73-74 on top. We got blown off Saturday. Mike Esposito from the Bay Area got a huge 40-pounder on a bass setup casting the shoreline last Wednesday that took an hour to land and then release with a Seaqualizer. The really good striper guys are using the tool more and more to carefully put the big ones back. The launch ramp at Dinosaur Point is on the third ramp now, which is located out on the far east point of the now-exposed isthmus – and is the best choice now – especially if a northern wind comes up.” A four-wheel drive vehicle is advised. The lake has dropped to 17 percent capacity. In the O’Neill Forebay, shore anglers are able to find more access with fewer weeds in the lake after weeks of spraying, but the dying vegetation is still a concern. There is a ripbait bite from the shoreline as well as with smaller swimbaits in the 4- to 5-inch range. Live minnows and blood worms are also producing a generally smaller grade of striped bass. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, 408-463-0711; Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 559-905-2954.
Salmon fishing from the banks has been the highlight of the Delta with anglers from the Dillon Point State Park, First Street in Benicia, the Pittsburg shoreline, near the old Humphrey’s restaurant in Antioch and below the Freeport Bridge at the upper end of the Delta all producing chrome fish. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said shore fishermen are finding the best action for salmon as the jig bite has been slower, but anglers are tossing Flying C’s in bright colors for decent numbers below the Freeport Bridge. Rio Vista Bait reported improved salmon fishing in the Old Sacramento River from Viera’s Resort to Walnut Grove. Over the weekend, a number of salmon were landed on the east side of the main Sacramento River above the Rio Vista Bridge. Liberty Island and Lindsay Slough have also been productive locations for salmon. Sylvia Viera of Viera’s Riverside Bait near Isleton said there are fish landed every day with anywhere from three to 15 salmon brought to the scales, but the action isn’t spectacular. The water temperature is dropping at 70.2 degrees. Jim Pickens of the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi reported the salmon bite continues on the Sacramento from Vieira’s up the Old Sac to Sacramento. Some of the more popular locations along the way are: Vieira’s, Ko-Kets, Walnut Grove, Clarksburg, Freeport and Garcia Bend. Most anglers are trolling Silvertrons, Kwikfish and Blue Foxes. Jigging for salmon becomes more popular the farther up the river you fish. Shore anglers continue to have success with Flying C’s and Blue Foxes in the Walnut Grove area. Near Pittsburg, Do Doung of Dockside Bait reported good action for salmon near the Pittsburg PG&E plant with Flying C spinners, with at least 10 salmon landed off the rocks Thursday morning. For striped bass near Rio Vista, Mark Fehrenbach of Mark’s Sport Fishing reported changing action on a daily basis, and he has been primarily trolling within the past week. Scotty Marran of Yuba City has been drifting live mudsuckers near Liberty Island for multiple limits of schoolie stripers, and he reported clear water conditions without grass or flotsam on either tide during the weekend. For sturgeon, Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing currently out of Pittsburg Marina reported great action one day with three keepers and another legal sturgeon lost Friday, followed by 11 shakers Saturday and a keeper and a handful of shakers Sunday. A section of Highway 12 between Rio Vista and Interstate 5 will be closed for four consecutive weekends as work continues on the Mokelumne River Bridge Rehabilitation Project. The weekend closures will be from 10 p.m. Fridays through 5 a.m. Mondays, according to the California Department of Transportation. The closures will take place Oct. 23-26, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, Nov. 6-9 and Nov. 13-16, Caltrans said. Motorists are being advised to use I-5, Interstate 80 and Highway 4 as alternate routes. Farther west of Stockton, the conditions are much improved. Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing is housed in his winter home at Korth’s Pirate’s Lair and said fishing has ranged from good to great just outside the harbor at Korth’s Pirates’ on the San Joaquin drifting live mudsuckers on ultralight tackle. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported plenty of striped bass in the San Joaquin, but most of the fish are undersized with a ratio of 50 shakers to one keeper. He has been finding great action for numbers of small largemouth bass with small 5-inch Whopper Ploppers on the surface, Senkos in open water and Missile D-Bombs on a 1.5-ounce tungsten weight under the hyacinth mats. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The largemouth and striped bass bite on the Delta is so good right now, it should be outlawed.” There are lots of schools on the San Joaquin River, and although most of the fish are small, there are keepers in the 2- to 5-pound range in the mix. It’s nothing to catch and release 30 to 45 stripers per day. The best technique is slow rolling along the bottom with the Optima AA Bubba Shad, as the water is still warm. There is a top-water, spoon and swimbait bite, and the morning bite for numbers is great on the San Joaquin, but it gets tough by mid-morning. The shad are pushing into the shallows, and Pringle has also been scoring largemouth bass with the half-ounce white or white/chartreuse Persuader spinnerbait with double Willow blades or the Imaged Blade shad as well as the Timber Tiger crankbait in shad patterns. The ima Flit ripbait is also effective, but Pringle advised setting your drag correctly since there is an increased chance of getting hit by a 10- to 20-pound striped bass on this lure. The big news of the week has been the pulse flows on the lower Mokelumne, and the flows reached 480 CFS last Friday. The flows are designed to attract salmon up the Mokelumne, and there are three more pulse flows to be announced within the coming weeks. Call: Randy Pringle, 209-543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, 925-570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, 916-806-3030.