Modesto-area reservoir, lakes fish report (12/17/14)

Lake Don Pedro

Minimal interest during the past week with the heavy rain, but the best fishing is found from the banks with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or trout dough bait at Fleming Meadows or Blue Oaks. There have been few trollers, but the rainbows are moving close to the shoreline, feeding on the abundant shad schools. The bass bite continued to be slow with the best action on live minnows from the shorelines. The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp is still a viable option for launching, and the Marina is still in the water. There is a 5-mph speed limit from the ramp at Blue Oaks Recreation Area to the Buoy Line at the mouth of Fleming Bay. The lake rose slightly more than a foot to 695.7 feet in elevation and 38 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.

McClure Reservoir

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. There has been minimal change over the past week with Barrett Cove North Ramp listed as the sole entrance for boats accessing the lake, and the ramp is open only during daylight hours. The lake dropped slightly to 595.70 feet in elevation and 7 percent of capacity. A 5.5 mile stretch of the Merced River in Snelling is closed to fishing due to low water conditions. Call: A-1 Bait, (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh, (209) 404-0053.

McSwain Reservoir

The last trout plant was Dec. 4, but a plant is anticipated this week. The best fishing has been taking place from the shoreline at either the Brush Pile, the Handicapped Docks and from points near the marina with trout dough bait in garlic, Chunky Cheese or florescent orange or yellow. There was only one boat on the lake over the weekend, although the lake is full with good water clarity.

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Upcoming tournaments have brought more fishermen to Millerton, and all of the action is on the bottom at depths from 40 to 70 feet with Texas-rigged or dart head shad-patterned plastics. Numbers of bass can be found, but the overall size is small with a 9-pound limit being a top weight. Vertically jigging spoons are picking up a few fish. The reaction bite should start with the inflow of water through the creeks. There were no reports of striped bass during the current week. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection form before launching, and a low-emissions sticker is essential on all motorized craft. The lake rose 1.5 feet to 487.1 feet in elevation and 35 percent of capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal action or interest remains the story. Trout plants have not started but are scheduled for Woodward Park Pond and Sycamore Island this week. 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

At New Melones, trout is on the minds of local anglers; and with the lake cooling and rising from the recent storms, the rainbows are moving toward the shorelines. Bass fishing remained excellent for numbers of 1.5- to 2-pound spotted bass, and both species are targeting the big schools of small shad. John Leitchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “The trout are moving up shallow, and shore fishermen are finding success with bright colors of trout dough bait or nightcrawlers near the Highway 49 Bridge, Glory Hole Point or the marina. The key is locating space on the shoreline without wood since the fish are holding over hard bottom with gravel and rock. Trolling has also improved with the fish rising toward the surface and along the shoreline, and little F5 Rapalas, jointed J5 Rapalas or small spoons such as Needlefish in shad patterns are effective as the shad schools are composed of small fish in the 1- to 1.5-inch range. Matching the hatch is important for both trout and bass.” Gary Burns of Take It To the Limit Guide Service said, “We went out several times and limited every time both trolling or off of the bank targeting 15 feet in depths with a good drop-off or in the backs of coves with no trees once you see shad or fish rolling on the surface. If you see these conditions, pull up on the bank and throw out some bait. Trolling has been best with Cop Car Needlefish or small shad-patterned ExCels pulled from the surface to 12 feet in depths at 2.6 mph. I always start trolling around the dam since it seems like there are larger rainbows in the area.” Bass fishing remained good for numbers of spots with the fish holding at 35 to 55 feet in depth with shad-patterned spoons, small flukes or 4-inch Robo Worms lures near submerged trees, outside bends and along rock bluffs.” The bass are keying on the schools of shad. Although the lake has risen 3 feet, the water clarity remains good with the exception of the creek channels. Catfishing has slowed with the cooling water temperature, but Bob James of Murphys landed a 10-pound, 15-ounce whiskerfish on trout dough bait near the Highway 49 Bridge. For the first time, state regulators have announced that certain fish commonly caught in at New Melones are not safe for some people to eat because of high mercury levels. 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 the loose gravel on the ramp. The lake rose to 864.12 feet in elevation and 22 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

The weather laid out over the weekend and party boats not only got out, they made it to the islands on their crab and rockfish combos. On Sunday, the New Salmon Queen and Sea Wolf out of Emeryville Sport Fishing combined for 36 limits of rockfish, adding three lings and limits of Dungeness crabs. The rockfish season ends Dec. 31. Emeryville Sport Fishing along with the Happy Hooker and Cal Dawn from Berkeley have room daily, weather permitting, through Dec. 31. The crab counts are slowing precipitously, and Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker had to pull all of his pots in order to pick up five Dungeness crab apiece for a load of 29 passengers Saturday. The muddy water has reached San Pablo Bay, and there have even been a few hyacinth migrating down from the Delta. Grass shrimp has been difficult to obtain with one shrimper only able to produce 6 pounds in spite of two trips, but Fraser was able to procure four buckets of the hard-to-locate live ghost shrimp Sunday. They also have plenty of live Loch Lomond shiners and mudsuckers. Shark fishing remained solid in the south bay with Kenji Nakagawa of Lodi leaving his beloved topwater striper bite in the Delta for the weekend to pound the sharks.


The waters of the Delta turned into chocolate milk with the arrival of the heavy storm, and the stripers have vacated the north Delta in search of clearer water further upstream into the Sacramento River system. The water hyacinth has migrated further west, and the launch ramp in Pittsburg was littered with vegetation over the weekend, leaving many boaters seeking alternate arrangements. On the San Joaquin River, water clarity is the issue, and boaters are contending with the double whammy of water hyacinth and off-color water as major challenges for striper success. Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing, currently out of Korth’s Pirate’s Lair at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Mokelumne rivers, was able to find “wide-open” action early in the week before the storms with jumbo minnows, giant golden shiners or mudsuckers, stating, “This week, we had a full-blown buffet of bait, and we found great action on everything we threw at them.” In the south Delta, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton reported a few striped bass are taken on the main San Joaquin River despite the muddy water. Live mudsuckers have been the top bait, given the water conditions. The hyacinth is starting to dissipate, but certain areas are still loaded with the vegetation. Sturgeon are starting to show up on both the Santa Clara and San Andreas shoals. Fresh shad is all but over with the bait fish dropping deep in the water column due to colder water conditions as well as the heavy dose of hyacinth in the Port of Stockton. Floating logs and trees are a feature on the San Joaquin. Red-eared perch can still be found from the normal bank areas of Whiskey Slough, Bacon Island Road or Eight Mile Road with jumbo red worms or wax worms. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.

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