Lake Don Pedro
There has been minimal fishing interest at the lake. Heavy spoons on leadcore line at five to seven colors in open water have produced rainbows to 17 inches within the past week. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “Jumbo minnows remain the top techniques for shore fishermen with tournament anglers scoring with shad-patterned plastics, such as Reaction Innovation’s Bad Shad Green or Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad on the dropshot.” The bite was reported to be tough during Sunday’s Fresno Bass Club tournament with the best action on weighted Senkos in sunny locations. The Flemings Meadow Launch Ramp is still a viable option for launching and the marina is still in the water. Jay Graham of the Fresno Bass Club advised boaters to be cautious when launching in the early morning in the dark since the ramp is quite narrow. He also warned boaters of an unmarked rock just above the current surface 50 yards from the west side of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct at its crossing with the lake. The lake is at 692.8 feet in elevation and 37 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.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The trout bite is improving, with John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp saying, “Trout fishing is actually quite good with trollers finding limits at depths from 15 to 25 feet using spoons such as Needlefish or ExCels in shad patterns on leadcore line or on downriggers as the rainbows are spitting up shad in the 1- to 2-inch range. Top-lining a Rapala JSR Plug is also an effective technique and I advise trollers to let out plenty of line to ensure that your lure is clear of the boat wake.” A 51/2-pound German brown was weighed in at the shop by a troller Sunday, but the fisherman was unable to release the fish as it swallowed the treble hooks. Bank fishing is picking up as the rainbows move closer to the surface. Lietchy advised using a floating ball of rainbow or chartreuse dough bait on a long leader or fan-casting a quarter-ounce Kastmaster from the shoreline. Bass fishing is improving with the lake stabilizing at 21 percent of capacity with the temporary cessation of water releases. Lietchy said, “We are finding most of our fish on the dropshot, and once you locate the baits, you will be able to catch a bunch of bass.” Vertically jigging spoons is also productive, and the larger fish are coming off of jigs such as the California Reservoir Lure’s jigs in crawdad or greens. Scenting the plastics with various Pro-Cure gels helps the fish locate the bait and hold onto the plastic longer in order to allow for a hook set. The schools of bass are holding over cuts, bluffs and points near major creek channels into the main river. Catfishing remained solid, although Lietchy said, “It has slowed down a bit with the cooling water temperatures, but whiskerfish at 11 and 13 pounds were weighed in over the weekend with an average of six to seven fish weighed in weekly for our November Catfish Contest.” Elmo Baur of Merced landed a 171/4-pound catfish this week at the Glory Hole Launch Ramp. Lietchy advised using an Oregon Tackle’s Scent Chamber, which replaces the swivel on the leader, and it can be filled with Pro-Cure’s scents that will leak out slowly. Chicken livers, frozen shad, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies work for the whiskerfish. The Glory Hole Launch Ramp is open with a gravel launch, but a four-wheel-drive tow vehicle is advised to pull the trailer off of the loose gravel on the ramp. The lake is currently at 858.48 feet in elevation and 21 percent 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.
Barrett Cove North Ramp is still listed as the sole entrance for boats accessing the lake and the ramp is open only during daylight hours. The South Boat Ramp at Barrett Cove remains closed as a result of the drought and the Barrett Cove and McClure Point Marinas remain closed. Small boats such as kayaks and canoes are able to be launched from the shoreline. The low lake levels have exposed locations previously inaccessible. The lake dropped another 11/2 feet to 602.41 feet in elevation and 8 percent capacity. A 51/2-mile stretch of the Merced River in Snelling is closed to fishing due to low water. Call: A-1 Bait, (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh, (209) 404-0053.
Trout plants are scheduled on a weekly basis from either the Calaveras Trout Farm or the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Bank fishing continued to be best with rainbow or chartreuse Power Bait from the brush pile, handicapped docks or the points near the marina. The lake levels have returned to full after the lake was lowered for maintenance at the end of October. The water clarity has returned. Trolling has been slower, but the clearing water and increase in trout plants should bring out better action above the Floating Restrooms. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Numbers of small spotted bass are the rule with limits to 8 pounds possible with dropshotting plastics such as Hologram Shad or Green Weenie at depths to 25 feet. Jigs or vertically jigging spoons is also effective. The swimbait bite should improve with the arrival of cooler weather. The lake dropped one foot to 486.59 feet in elevation and 35 percent capacity. A low-emissions sticker is essential on all motorized craft. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal action or interest remained the story. Trout plants have not started. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip. All wild steelhead or trout with an adipose fin present must be released immediately. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
San Francisco Bay
The commercial fleet “carpet-bombed” the Marin coast over the weekend, and huge hauls of crab were brought to market during the first days of the commercial season. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker went up the coastline with a private charter from Great Britain on Sunday and, despite the late departure, they returned early with 14 limits of rockfish, 17 limits of Dungeness crab and 11 ling cod. They went to the islands Friday and Saturday, posting 35 ling cod Friday and 39 limits of rockfish and crab. The ling cod were less willing to bite Saturday with nine lings at the Farallons along with 40 limits of rockfish and crab. Smith said, “We only had to pull five or six pots for limits, so the counts are holding up.” He has room for the combination trips throughout the week. Captain Trent Slate of Shelter Cove Sport Fishing reported finding easy limits of crab outside the Gate on Sunday morning, and he moved his pots closer to the Gate since there were commercial pots stacked on top of his pots, potentially leading to tangles and clusters. He returned to the bay for stripers to 4 pounds casting and plugging at Red Rock, Angel Island and Paradise. He said, “We fished four solid hours for seven bass with the best action at Red Rock.”
Water hyacinth dominates the Delta around Stockton with any water south of Disappointment Slough loaded with the surface vegetation. Striper fishing is on the upswing with big schools of marauding stripers moving through the San Joaquin system. The key is avoiding the floating hyacinth mats. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “You can make it through the vegetation with an outboard motor, but if you have an I/O, it will be difficult to keep from overheating, as we turned around in Disappointment Slough while pre-fishing for an upcoming bass tournament.” Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing out of Korth’s Pirate’s Lair at the mouth of the Mokelumne reported, “Solid striped bass action, but the schools are divided by size and never in the same spot from day-to-day. Live mudsuckers, Blade Runner spoons, or P-Line Laser Minnows have been the top offerings, and I landed a 33.5-inch striper just minutes before going on the California Sportsman Radio Show on Saturday morning. With some rain on the forecast, we can only look for things to get better and better out on the San Joaquin.” Near Stockton, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait confirmed the recent difficulty in obtaining fresh shad, but stripers in the 20- to 24-inch range are taken out of Empire Cut and off Whiskey Slough and Bacon Island roads. The hyacinth is a plague, but these locations have been the clearest to fish. The Port of Stockton is producing stripers of similar size, but the hyacinth is thick in downtown Stockton and on the Calaveras River. Large bluegill and red-eared perch are taken from the banks off Whiskey Slough Road with wax worms or jumbo red worms. Interest in catfishing has been minimal. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.