Lake Don Pedro
Don Pedro has been a solid option for largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass throughout the winter and the bite remains strong. The good news during the past week has been the emergence of quality kokanee, with the action expected to heat up in the coming weeks. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing went looking for kokanee Friday and said, “It took a long time, and I really had to think back to remember where these fish should be located at this time of year. We landed two quality kokanee at 15.5 and 15.75 inches weighing in excess of 1 pound, 10 ounces. We also landed 10 rainbows to 4.5 pounds, releasing the big fish that came at 63 feet on one of my custom heavy spoons. The rainbows right now are deeper than the kokanee, and there is a band of water that is warmer below. The surface temperature was over 70 degrees, and this is very warm for this time of year. Sunday was a much different day than Friday with one rainbow landed within our first 10 minutes, but the bite was very slow, ending up with only three fish on the half-day trip. The only thing I can attribute the slower action to was the heavy recreational boat traffic on the lake on Saturday due to the hot weather.” The bass bite remains excellent, with Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford saying, “It’s a wide open bite there as one angler reported putting in a limit within 2 hours. The Berserk Purple Hornet jig and the 5-inch Pro Worm 300 are working at depths from 25-45 feet. The majority of bass are in post-spawn, but there are still a few fish on beds in various locations in the lake.” The upper Tuolumne River arm is open to boats as 98 percent of the floating wood has been contained by the log booms. As the lake rises with coming snowmelt, the woody debris outside of the containment booms will continue to re-float off the shorelines. The lake is at 83 percent capacity and 800.69 feet in elevation, with all launch ramps open. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550
Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “Bass fishing remains solid with Pro Worm’s 266 or Berserk Baits Green Craw jigs at depths from 25-45 feet. The bass are in post-spawn mode and actively feeding.” Launch ramps at Barrett Cove and McClure Point are open with the lake at 71 percent capacity and rising because of snowmelt in the Merced River watershed. Call: Bait Barn (209) 874-3011
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Camping is the best thing happening at the coldwater afterbay for Lake McClure as the flows coming through the Exchequer Dam have kept the lake too high for planting trout. The planted rainbows would be washed over the spillway into the Merced River. The last trout plant was October 2016, and with the high water levels, trout plants have been on hold. There are small park-model rental cabins overlooking the lake that are under construction and scheduled to be open in the coming months. The Exchequer Bike Park will be opened with a constructed cross-country bike loop. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
New Melones continues to rise slowly, with water releases under way in anticipation of more snowmelt on the way. The bass bite has been solid with the emergence of a topwater bite, and kokanee, trout and catfish are holding up. John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The lake is at a great level, and I recently had the pleasure of guiding my good friend Nate Monroe in search of trophy largemouth and spotted bass as we have been trying to put him onto a giant for the past two years. We starting the day throwing topwater lures knowing that it should be go time, and we found an area where the bass were pushing shad onto the surface. We had some explosive blow-ups and landed both spotted and largemouth bass. At 11 a.m., we pulled up on a spot, and the conditions were perfect. As I was explaining to Nate how perfect the wind, light, water, clarity and depth was, a big largemouth hit Nate’s topwater lure, and the fight was on. The fish flew out of the water and wallowed on the surface several times before coming to the net. We kept her in the live well so as not to stress her while we recovered. After the bass was ready to go, Nate released his personal best largemouth at 9.3 pounds.” Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp reported 20-plus bass are the norm for thos working the coves with blue pearl Senkos on a wacky-rig. The bass are boiling on the surface, chasing bait into the cove, and there is a reaction bite with a variety of shad-patterned lures.” Trolling for rainbow trout has been producing limits around Angels Creek at depths to 20 feet with Kastmasters in blue/chrome behind a watermelon dodger. The spillway has also been a good option. Kokanee are also found near the spillway at depths between 25 and 35 feet with Pro-Troll’s Kokanee Killer in red pearl or watermelon behind a dodger. Crappie condition to be taken on small to medium minnows, and the night bite under submersible lights is taking off with the hot temperatures. Catfish are getting active with frozen shad, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines near submerged structures in the lake inlets. The Angels Cove and the main ramp on Glory Hole Point are open with two ramps available; there is one ramp at Tuttletown. For campers, there is one campground open on the Glory Hole side and two at Tuttletown. 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
Huge striped bass have been coming from the shore at night, and dedicated anglers now have a short walk to the banks with the reservoir at 99 percent capacity. The wind during the beginning of the past week has kept many boats off the water, but the hot weather by the weekend will create more favorable conditions for boaters. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “A number of our customers have been buying Magnum Flukes and jig heads and walking the banks at night, and one group landed stripers to 35 inches with others in the 7- to 8-pound range on the big flukes. Their cousin went back the next evening for two huge stripers at 42 and 46 inches tossing a Super Spook at night. The stripers are coming into the shorelines at night.” Choua Her of Merced caught an estimated 20-pound striped bass from the banks on a white fluke after fishing throughout the evening.” Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill reported flukes, swimbaits, and ripbaits are working for a larger grade of striped bass in the main lake while the O’Neill Forebay is limited to a number of shakers. Some trollers are running P-Line’s Predator Minnows or umbrella rigs while others are drifting extra-large minnows. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said of a recent trip that “the trolling bite was tough with most fish suspending during the day. Some boats had from 2-4 fish for the morning trolling u-rigs and regular plugs by the racks. We found some active fish later and landed/released 15 fish from 23-31 inches. The fish are going at night and sleeping during the day for the most part. Guys need to be releasing these bigger spawning fish as much as possible, but most aren’t.” George added that “I truly believe that we will have a later than usual season due to the high water and many storms that have kept the water temps very moderate so far. There are a lot of fish, but finding them can be tough in the big water as they continue to spread out. I expect the pattern to solidify soon and the bite to get back to normal. The next month will see more big fish being caught by savvy anglers who know that this is not the time to back off, even if it is getting warmer and windier. The opportunity to fish San Luis while it’s full is a wonderful chance to take a shot at hooking a trophy-sized fish. You never know what you may hook on your next cast, run or hit. Now’s the time for a monster, if you’re looking for one!” The dam area is off limits for any fishing, day or night and the Basalt side of the lake requires anglers to walk into the lake from the locked road gate just past the Basalt State Park Kiosk if you are night fishing past closing time. In O’Neill Forebay, pile worms, blood worms, chicken livers, or anchovies are all working for mostly shaker stripers with the best action near Check 12 or under the Highway 152 Bridge. There is an emerging ripbait and jerkbait bite with the warmer temperatures. 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.