Here’s where the fish are biting in Modesto-area reservoirs, lakes

Lake Don Pedro

Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported extremely slow rainbow trout fishing on two consecutive trips at the end of the past week. He went out on an exploratory trip on Friday, trolling various locations throughout the lake, but never received a single hit from a trout. He said, “The lake is loaded with shad, and the spotted bass are feeding in big schools over shelves along the shoreline.” There is plenty of action for spotted bass, and Smith said, “They fight hard on light gear.” He trolled small shad-patterned spoons along the shoreline for numerous spotted bass as the fish are feeding on the half- to three-quarters–inch shad. He fished as deep as 75 feet while targeting rainbows, and he thought rolling a shad at 80 to 110 feed may produce trout, but anglers have to be careful since there are shallow spots within the lake. Smith thought the trout are holding in the extreme depths of the lake, and they will emerge once the water temperatures stabilize. The Flemings Meadow Launch Ramp is still a viable option for launching, and the Marina is still in the water. There is a new 5 mph speed limit from the ramp at Blue Oaks Recreation Area to the Buoy Line at the mouth of Fleming Bay. The lake held at 37 percent of capacity. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011.

McClure Reservoir

Minimal change at McClure with the North Boat Ramp at Barrett Cove the sole entrance for boats accessing the lake, and the ramp is open only during daylight hours. The ramp is expected to remain open until mid-October, depending upon lake conditions. Once the the ramp closes, there will be no access for boats in or out of Lake McClure. The South Boat Ramp at Barrett Cove remains closed as a result of the drought, and both the Barrett Cove and McClure Point marinas remain closed. As a result of the conditions, few bass fishermen have been targeting the lake. Small boats such as kayaks and canoes are able to be launched from the shoreline. The lake dropped 2.5 feet to 620.30 feet in elevation and 10 percent of capacity. A 5.5-mile stretch of the Merced River in Snelling closed to fishing due to low water conditions. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.

McSwain Reservoir

Heavy trout plants prior to the Merced Irrigation District annual picnic put 2,000 pounds of rainbows in the lake prior to the past week. Combined with the normal trout plants and holdover trout from plants before the Oct. 4-5 Trout Derby, there are plenty of fish in the lake. The McSwain Marina reported bank anglers finally have the upper hand on trollers with shore fishermen scoring with orange/green spotted Kastmasters, rainbow garlic Power Eggs, or night crawlers. Trollers are picking up a few rainbows pulling blade/crawler combinations across from the marina to the floating restrooms. The lake has been extremely busy, even during the week, due to the recent trout plants and the full lake. The lake levels remain high with the regular releases of cold water from Lake McClure. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass fishing continues to be solid for numbers, and Adam Scott of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The fall pattern is not quite established yet, but it has been better than Pine Flat for numbers of spotted bass.” There is a reaction bite in the mornings or evenings before the fish move out to depths along ledges or points from 20 to 30 feet. Drop shotting plastics in the middle of the day at depths to 30 feet along shelves or ledges are producing. The swimbait bite should improve with the arrival of cooler weather in the coming months. Catfish can be taken on anchovies or sardines in 40 feet of water above Finegold. With most striper fishermen heading to the aqueduct, reports of Millerton stripers remain scarce. The lake dropped to 486.32 feet in elevation and 34 percent of capacity. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection form before launching. In the lower San Joaquin, few fishermen have been trying with the exception of bank fishermen at Lost Lake. There are new regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge.

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Trout action at New Melones continued to be very slow, but the action at downstream reservoir Lake Tulloch has been excellent. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “The action has been great, and we released a 5-pound German brown in addition to landing 20 planted rainbows within two and one-half hours of trolling on a scouting trip before catching and releasing two limits, keeping two limits for clients on a subsequent trip.” Nearly all of the rainbows are planters, but they are willing to bite Smith’s heavy spoons fast-trolled on lead core line. Smith added, “The best time to go is during the week, and if the weather is good on the weekend, the lake will be crowded with recreational boaters.” At New Melones, John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “The nights are cooling off with the surface temperature continuing to drop, encouraging the trout to move toward the surface.” James Goble of Angels Camp limited out trolling near the Highway 49 Bridge. Bank fishing should improve as the water temperature continues to drop. Lietchy reported improved bass fishing as the lake has been stable for a few weeks, making the bass more predictable. The shad are schooling up in the deep water, and the bass are hunting them in packs. Shad-patterned worms, grubs or small swim baits are working well with the fish holding tide to structure and for suspended fish. Lietchy advised using a shakey head when fishing around brush and switching to a drop shot in open water. There is a reaction bite in the mornings and evenings with crank baits, jerk baits or spinner baits. Lietchy caught and released two largemouth bass at 7 and 5 pounds using a California Reservoir Lure’s jig. Catfishing remains solid; the catfish are moving into the shallows throughout the day and night to feed on bait fish or crawdads. Anchovies, mackerel, sardines or shad are some of the best baits. Nine-year-old Darren Atkins of Copperopolis landed a 9.5-pound whiskerfish on shad near the Highway 49 Bridge. The lake is as low as it has been in recent memory, but the lake level rose nearly 1.5 feet in the past week to 862.80 feet in elevation and 22 percent of capacity. Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’Dan 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023.

San Francisco Bay

The New Huck Finn out of Emeryville Sport Fishing went to the Farallon Islands on Sunday for 17 limits of rockfish and 23 lings to 23 pounds on a charter, and they ended the day with a salmon on the troll on the way back home. The Islands are starting to get more attention for the first time this season, and the Sea Wolf out of Emeryville returned with 25 limits of vermilions, coppers and yellowtails, a 10-pound cabezon, a wolf eel, and 41 lingcod to 16 pounds. Salmon fishing improved on Sunday with the diminished swell, and the Lovely Martha out of San Francisco returned with 17 salmon to 34 pounds for 26 anglers. The Tiger Fish out of Emeryville returned with seven salmon to 24 pounds for seven anglers, also along the Marin coastline. The Sausalito fleet combined for 17 salmon to 37 pounds for 37 anglers on Sunday on two boats after posting 32 salmon to 24 pounds for 40 anglers on Saturday. Private boaters reported plenty of bird life in the shipping channels with some boats returning with limits using Pro Troll E-lures. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported the bay was quite nice on Sunday after the thick fog dissipated after 11 a.m. Shaker sized bass are the rule, but the larger stripers can be taken by drifting Loch Lomond shiners at the Brothers. Smaller stripers are readily available by trolling at the top of the tide. Fraser liked the tides for drifting the Brothers in the mornings for the next couple of days. Loch Lomond, in addition to a steady supply of shiners, has live mudsuckers for sale on a retail or wholesale basis. With the closure of the live bait station at San Francisco, Fraser will be continuing to provide live bait in the form of Loch Lomond shiners through at least Nov. 1.


Dave Scatena of Stockton reported slow action at the end of the week with only two salmon noted in the Walnut Grove area. Scatena said, “After landing salmon on nearly every trip last year, I have only been able to pick up one salmon on six trips this year.” Larger striped bass have been holding around Liberty Island with smaller schoolies in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, has been launching out of B and W Resort on the Mokelumne to avoid the heavy hyacinth in the Stockton area, and he reported excellent action for striped bass jigging with 1-ounce P-Line Laser Minnows in greens or blues, tossing Optimum’s Double AA Swimbaits, casting the ima Flit rip bait, or working the surface with the ima Little Stick 75 in blue back herring or bone. He said, “The key to working the swimbaits is to bounce the lure along the bottom with a lethargic wind.” For largemouth bass, the Persuader Pop-N-Walker is a good surface bait while the Imaged Blade spinnerbait in white or chartreuse is effective on windy days. The water in the Delta is extremely clear, and Pringle advised using the brighter colors. To avoid the hyacinth, Pringle has been casting around the mats as the largemouth bass are holding underneath the floating mats near the shorelines. In the south Delta near Stockton, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait confirmed the plethora of undersized striped bass, but there have been keepers in the 23- to 25-inch range off of Brookside Road in Stockton in the early mornings with Pencil Poppers or Zara Spooks. The bite is similar in Whiskey Slough with schools of striped bass chasing bait toward the shorelines in the early morning. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Capt. Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030.

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