Lake Don Pedro
At Don Pedro, bass fishing slowed last weekend to a “grind” with some big fish available, but the best action remained on the bottom with finesse techniques. Kevin Cheek, tournament director of the Best Bass Tournament’s Mother Lode Circuit, said, “There were lots of jig and worm fish during our opening event on Saturday, and a slow technique was necessary in order to get bit. The largest fish came on a 6-inch worm, but the swimbait bite just wasn’t there as the previous weeks have produced a number of large fish on swimbaits.” The Best Bass Tournaments Open derby the previous Saturday produced a winning limit of more than 24 pounds while the 66 boats during last weekend’s derby ended up with a winning limit of 16-plus pounds with more than half the field weighing in limits. Trout fishing has slowed in the cold 52- to 54-degree water with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reporting, “We ran heavy spoons on lead core for 2.5 hours this week for only one hit before switching to blade/crawler combinations on planer boards, and we put four rainbows in the box over the next hour. The fish really want a slow presentation with live bait during this wintertime period of cold and clear water where they aren’t eating much.” The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp is open with one lane, but Blue Oaks is closed. The lake rose slightly to 702.77 feet in elevation and 40 percent 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.
The lake continues to release water, and the only access for boats is from the shoreline for small portable vessels such as kayaks or canoes. Bass tournaments scheduled for McClure are being switched to neighboring reservoirs such as Don Pedro for the spring months. All launch ramps are currently closed, and few fishermen are heading to the lake.
The water clarity has been murky due to heavy releases from the bottom of Lake McClure over the past several weeks. In the off-colored water, garlic scents on trout dough bait are working best from the shorelines at the handicapped docks and brush pile. A plant of 500 pounds was made by the Calaveras Trout Farm on Jan. 15. Trolling has been very slow due to water clarity. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
The bass bite has become more difficult over the past week with the best action remaining on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or darthead on the bottom at depths to 50 feet. Limits in the 7- to 9-pound range are possible, but anglers have to work hard to fill a limit of quality bass. Striper fishing picked up for a few linesides up the river arm near Finegold, while bass anglers are picking up stripers after hooking a spotted bass. Regular striper anglers at the lake are asking for anglers to release any stripers if possible after pictures – since the fish are not reproducing. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection form before launching, and a low-emissions sticker is necessary on all motorized craft. Millerton is rising slowly, and it is currently at 488.92 feet in elevation and 35 percent of capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal action or interest remains the story. Trout plants on the river have not started, but Woodward Park Pond and Sycamore Island Pond have been planted recently. There are new regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge only two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead are allowed with a total of four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass fishing has been very good with John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reporting, “Most anglers are catching plenty of fish on each outing as the lake is loaded with spotted bass in the 1- to 3-pound range that will feed multiple times throughout the day.” The bass are targeting the abundant shad schools in the lake, and they are chasing the bait around creek channels, bluffs and rocky points as the shad are suspending in the deep water in these areas. Lietchy advised, “Use light line, light hooks and a small shad-patterned worm or minnow.” The fish are still in the wintertime mode, and they are are holding from 35 feet to as deep as 70 feet with finesse techniques of shad-patterned plastics on shaky head, drop-shot or darthead working best. However, a few quality largemouths have been taken on swimbaits, including a huge 14.75-pound bucketmouth caught and released by John Chiarpotti, aka “Johnny C,” of California Reservoir Lures on a rainbow-trout patterned swimbait. Chiarpotti is a tackle manufacturer specializing in jigs and swimbaits, but this fish came on another manufacturer’s lure. Glory Hole Sporting Goods requests the release of all largemouth bass, as we are approaching the annual spawn. Trout trolling continued to be very good with a number of limits weighed in at Glory Hole. The best action has been upriver from Carson to Coyote Coves on the surface with Rapalas on a long set back or as deep as 15 feet with shad-patterned spoons. Gary Burns of Take It To The Limit Guide Service said, “We have been putting rainbows in the boat on every trip, and most of the bows have been found from the surface to 12 feet in depth with the best action with Needlefish in the rainbow trout pattern ran at 2.8 mph.” Uncle Larry’s spinners tipped with a small piece of nightcrawler or blade/crawler combinations are also effective. Shore fishing has remained solid with Lietchy stating, “About 50 percent of our trout are coming from the shoreline near Glory Hole Point or the Highway 49 Bridge with lures such as Kastmasters, Tasmanian Devils or Little Cleos.” Using a Corky to suspend trout dough bait or nightcrawlers is a good way to keep the bait off of the bottom and into the strike zone. Catfishing remained slow in the cold water, but Doug Mote of Riverbank landed a 14.7-pound whiskerfish while drop-shotting for bass. The concrete ramp at Glory Hole Point is now open with two lanes and a dock, but the Tuttletown Launch Ramp remains closed. The lake is at 870 feet in elevation and 23 percent of capacity. 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 Francisco Bay
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported difficult conditions in San Pablo Bay over the weekend with a thick fog bank holding in the area on Saturday before dissipating only slightly on Sunday. He said, “The combination of wind and tides were less than ideal, but things will start getting good around Wednesday and the minuses start on Saturday, just in time for the Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby.” Fraser will be working hard to have all of the baits available for the derby, and he has high hopes for live mud shrimp. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported one boat put in a 56-inch legal along with oversized at 74 and 78 inches on salmon roe in San Pablo Bay. Herring spawns continue to occur in Richardson Bay, Sausalito and Raccoon Straits, but there haven’t been any spawns in the Richmond area.
In the south Delta, Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported, “Fishing in the Delta has been good, as we have been able to find clear water and fairly warm temperatures. This week, the Delta will be warming up, as the air temperatures are approaching 70 degrees, and top water action should be starting in mid-February and will continue through June with great fishing just around the corner.” The action has been much slower in the Stockton area with H and R Bait reporting most area striper fishermen are heading to Los Vaqueros and ignoring the east Delta. The Old and Middle rivers are still choked with dying hyacinth, and although it is starting to sink, the wind is moving the hyacinth around on a daily basis. The stripers are in full wintertime mode, just picking up the bait and dropping it after a few short runs. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.