Lake Don Pedro
Trout fishing is fair for those launching during the past week of triple-digit heat and heavy smoke from the Butte Fire. The rainbows are deep from 45 to 70 feet with heavy spoons. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “The action isn’t fast and furious, and trying different techniques is necessary.” The boat launch has a slight curve, but once you get around the curve, launching two boats at the same time is possible. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “Bass fishing is best with live large minnows or with drop-shot plastics in shad patterns at depths from 40 to 50 feet.” The lake dropped slightly to 674.60 feet in elevation and 32% of 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.
Bass fishing has been very good for anglers willing to launch at the Barrett’s North Shore ramp and make the long walk back to the parking lot. Working live large minnows from the banks or drop-shot plastics at depths from 40 to 50 feet are producing bass to 2 pounds. The Merced River is now closed to fishing until January 1st between the Crocker-Huffman Bridge to G Street in Snelling due to warm water conditions. The lake dropped 2 feet this past week to 608.88 feet in elevation and 9% of capacity. The Merced River is now closed to fishing until Jan. 1 between the Crocker-Huffman Bridge to G Street in Snelling due to warm water conditions. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
Although rainbow trout to nearly 10 pounds have been landed within the past week, warm water temperatures brought on by the drought, have forced Merced Irrigation District’s Parks to postpone the annual Fall Fishing Derby at Lake McSwain until springtime. At the same time, MID has reported that it expects to resume regular trout planting in the near future. “This drought has had widespread impacts and unfortunately, we aren’t immune at Lake McSwain,” explained Bret Theodozio, MID Director of Parks and Recreation. “Plenty of fish are still being caught, but they have gone deep and out into the middle of the lake. They are there for the catching if you can reach them.” Mike Dickson landed the 29-inch/9.5-pound rainbow on a Wedding Ring in the main lake. Theodozio noted that many of those participating in regularly scheduled fishing derbies do so from the bank. Because the fish have gone to deeper and into the middle of the lake, those without a boat would be at a significant disadvantage, he said. Although a derby won’t be held in October, the spring Derby is expected to be held in early April 9 and 10, 2016. At the same time, fish plants from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will soon resume in Lake McSwain. Plants had ceased earlier this year after regular-provider Calaveras Trout farms was forced to close its doors for the summer. Fish and Wildlife will resume its plants of the lake in the coming weeks as water temperatures begin to cool. The McSwain Marina is now closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The Butte Fire which started on Wednesday near the city of Jackson in Amador County, quickly spread through the Mother Lode, leading to the evacuation of several small communities including the residents of the Calaveras County seat, San Andreas. Smoke from the fast-moving fire limited any angling interest in the area as most residents were consumed with moving possessions and livestock out of the region. Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “We are overwhelmed with the community response as people have been bringing donations into the store for the victims of the fire, as I just received an anonymous donation for $1000 for the purchase of fuel for residents in need. Our wholesale distributor for fuel also donated $2000 this week. The area had become increasingly clear from smoke by Sunday, but Lewis commented, “It looked like Armageddon here on Friday with the smoke and the visible flames.” Prior to the fire breaking out, catfish remain the top species at New Melones with the whiskerfish cruising the shallows near standing timber and rocky banks. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods said, “Catfish are known to be bottom-feeders but, they actually feed all throughout the water column. Catfish are opportunistic feeders and they rarely pass up the chance to fill their bellies. The lake has an abundance of small shad and that is most likely what the catfish are feeding on. Try using frozen shad or live minnows to entice nearby feeding fish. Some catfish will leave the bottom and feed in the middle of the water column, and it is a good idea to add additional scent to your presentation. “ Whiskerfish in excess of 11 pounds have been landed from the banks during the past week. Trout and kokanee fishing continued to be slow with few boats launching into the lake due to the launch ramp conditions. Bass fishing is fair, and the triple-digit temperatures of the past week limited the window for action to the early mornings or late evenings. Lietchy said, “Generally the topwater bite is good at this time of year but right now we are getting very few surface blow-ups. The fish have been moving to deep/cool water and can be found suspended near shad or pulled tight to the bottom. Most fish are being caught on a variety of soft plastic presentations.” Crappie can be found under lights with live minnows or minijigs at night, particularly for those anchoring outside of structure in deep water. The crappie are ambushing the small shad from the security of submerged trees. The lake dropped 1 foot to 12% of capacity and 803.10 feet in elevation this week. Tulloch dropped 3 feet to 504.93 feet in elevation and 91% of 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
Paul Jolley at Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The reemergence of jumbo minnows in area bait shops has led to more and more fishermen drifting the live bait near Goosehead Point, the Trash Rack and the mouth of Portuguese Cove. Most boaters are launching out of Dinosaur Point, but there is a submerged berm along the left hand side of the ramp that has scraped the bottom of boats. The lure bite is slower, and a few trollers are working shallower at depths from 30 to 40 feet with P-Line Predators, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, Rebels, or Lucky Craft 128’s throughout the lake.” In the O’Neill Forebay, weed growth is a hindrance at the small impoundment, but some fishermen are wading out into the water to toss ripbaits, swimbaits, or jerkbaits for stripers ranging from undersized to 23 inches. Mackerel, anchovies, chicken livers or sardines are working for catfish near Check 12. The main lake continues to release water at a rapid clip for agricultural and domestic uses, but imports from the Delta brought the lake up to 21% with an addition of 1254 acre-feet on Monday. Call: Coyote Bait andTackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com (559) 905-2954.
The long wait for salmon in the Sacramento River near Freeport may be at last over with at least a dozen fish landed by anglers spooning below the Freeport Bridge on Sunday. Stripers continue to invade the Delta from the bay, and they are moving on a daily basis from upriver toward Collinsville. Sturgeon are out there, but few fishermen have been targeting the diamondbacks so far this year. Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait in Freeport said, “The wait is finally over as the salmon have arrived with at least a dozen landed below the bridge. I was trolling a Silvertron spinner weighted down with 3 ounces in order to make a 45-degree angle into the water on Sunday morning near Scribner’s Bend, and I hooked a big fish that came unbuttoned. There were several salmon rolling on the surface, so it looks like they have arrived.” Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the improved action below the Freeport Bridge by jigging spoons or trolling Silvertron spinners or Brad’s Killer Fish. Tran added that drifting live mudsuckers or tossing shad-patterned swimbaits are working for stripers in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel or near Liberty Island for fish from 2 to 20 pounds. The stripers have been boiling in the early mornings in the Deep Water Channel around 4 to 5 miles above the mouth of Miner Slough. Striped bass fishing remained very good with Mark Wilson, striper trolling expert, reporting continued solid action in the Broad Slough and Collinsville areas with both shallow and deep-diving lures. He released stripers at 14 and 12 pounds on Friday on the shallow-diving Rat-L-Traps using light tackle. He advised, “The fish are moving around on a daily basis, and some of the schools have not been willing to bite, and we have even hooked fish that we didn’t see on the meter, so the fish are a bit finicky and the action is different every day.” The best bite has been at the end of the outgoing tide into the first two hours of the incoming tide, but the action dies by the middle of the tide. Salmon fishing has been slower in lower Suisun Bay, and Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle said, “The water must be too warm down here since the fish are blasting through. Striper fishing is good for schoolies with blood worms or pile worms from the shorelines.” Tom Sanders of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point was rewarded with a 52-inch diamondback near the Yellow Can out in front of the harbor. He said, “The fish are there, it is just a matter of trying and finding the right window between the winds.” The Rio Vista Bass Derby and Festival is only a few weeks away with the 68th annual event taking place from Oct. 9-11. Information at www:bassfestival.com. The San Joaquin River is starting to heat up for striped bass, and trollers and bait soakers are getting in on the action. The 40-degree temperature swing limited bass action to a few select windows within the past week of triple-digit temperatures, but cooler water conditions will improve action in the coming weeks. Gary Vella of Vella’s Fishing Adventures said, “I’ve been tearing up the stripers in the Delta for the past week, catching up to 30 fish per trip ranging from 12 inches to 18.5 pounds with limits during five straight days in a row trolling deep diving lures from 14 to 16 feet in the San Joaquin River.” For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported the 40-degree temperature swing from 60’s in the early mornings to over 100 degrees by the afternoon, and the 40 degree temperature swing changes everything. If the swing is 20 degrees, the bite should last throughout the day, but a 40 degree swing will require adjustments. He said, “The temperature swing will require that you try different things, and adjust, adjust, adjust, as if you stay with one bait too long, you will die by the sword.” He advised starting with topwater lures such as the ima Little Stick, Helly P’s, or Persuader Buzzbaits, but if the fish aren’t biting, you should have at least three rods ready with different baits. He added, “Try different things, run the lures fast, run them slow.” Pringle added, “When the weather changes, the bite will really improve.” Striper fishing has been phenomenal for schoolie stripers around moving water in the Mokelumne and the San Joaquin with Optimum’s Double AA swimbaits or the ima Little Stick. He said, “Working major moving water is the key.” For largemouth bass, Pringle, reported solid action on the ima floating Flit or jerkbaits for reaction baits while working the bottom with the Chigger Craw or Havoc Flat Dog has been another productive method. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento has found good action for up to 30 largemouth bass flipping Missle D-Bombs near structure. In Stockton, Brandon Gallegos reported quality largemouth are coming out of Whiskey Slough with live minnows, and the stripers are boiling in the mornings with small topwater Spooks near Weber Point in downtown Stockton and also in Whiskey Slough. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030.