Modesto-area reservoir, lakes fish report (03/18/15)

Lake Don Pedro

The bass have moved into the shallows at depths from 5 to 20 feet, and the reaction bite with ripbaits or crankbaits has been solid. Topwater lures are working in the early mornings or evenings in the shallows of less than 10 feet; the Huddleston ROF 5 is also effective for big bass. Live minnows are working from the shorelines. The Kerman Bass Club held two tournaments at the lake over the weekend, and a total of 15 limits were weighed in during Saturday’s team tournament while Sunday’s individual tournament resulted in half the anglers weighing in limits. The trout bite continues to improve with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing putting his clients onto limits working throughout the day with bright spoons fast-trolled on lead core line early in the morning before slowing down with nightcrawlers behind a small dodger by midmorning. The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp is open with one lane open, but Blue Oaks is closed. The lake rose slightly to 711.85 feet in elevation and 43 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

The lake is holding at 8 percent of capacity, and the launch ramps remained closed. 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. As a result, few fishermen are heading to the lake. The lake level rose nearly a foot to 606.77 feet in elevation and 9 percent of capacity.

McSwain Reservoir

Trout fishing has improved from the shoreline near the Brush Pile, across from the marina, or the handicapped docks with green garlic power eggs or similarly bright colors of trout dough bait. Trolling is also improving up the river arm from Gilligan’s Island to the floating restrooms with pink Uncle Larry’s spinners behind a flasher or rapalas in bright colors. Trout plants from Calaveras Trout Farm have been limited to once per month. The annual Spring Trout Derby is scheduled for the weekend of April 11-12 with registration available at

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

At Millerton, stripers are found up into the river arm. Numbers of spotted bass are available with experienced fishermen catching and releasing up to 25 fish in a few hours on drop-shot plastics, but most of the fish are in the 12- to 13-inch range. Jigs also are working as well as ripbaits and spinnerbaits when the fish come into the shallows in the afternoons. All motors must conform to low-emission standards at Millerton. The lake level is rising slowly, and it came up nearly a foot to 495.29 feet in elevation and 39 percent of capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal fishing action is taking place due to the lack of trout plants. A few bass are being taken at Sycamore Island Park. 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. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip. All wild steelhead or trout with an adipose fin present must be released immediately. The San Joaquin River is closed to the take of salmon, and they may not be targeted by fishermen and must be released immediately if inadvertently caught. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

]New Melones remains in a stiff competition with Clear Lake as to which lake can pump out the largest bass in Northern California with multiple fish over 10 pounds weighed in during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournaments Mother Lode Region. Tournament director Kevin Cheek, said, “Most of the large fish were taken off of the beds with Brush Hogs or Senkos, and there were largemouth bass of 11.51, 10.46, and 9.11 brought to the scales in addition to another 10-plus-pounder that wasn’t included in the big fish count since there was a larger 10-pounder weighed in by the same team.” Rich and Ron Ingram posted an impressive five-fish limit at 30.65 pounds to take first place out of 54 boats in the event. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp confirmed the excellent bass action with numbers found in 30 to 40 feet of water on structure. He said, “Try working a heavy football head jig in half- to three-quarter-ounce with a California Reservoir Lure jigs off of the bottom. Another option is to toss crankbaits, spinnerbaits, or ripbaits in areas holding schoolie fish as the swimbait bite has slowed up, although smaller swimbaits such as K-Tech’s Swing Impacts, Slim Thrashers, or Skinny Dippers are working on a jig head.” Brush Hogs or lizards are working closer to the shoreline where the water is muddiest as baits with a large profile will disperse water.” Glory Hole Sports encourages anglers to catch and release the large bass in order to keep the lake’s population healthy. Trout action remains good with the fish holding at depths from 5 to 25 feet around the dam, the spillway, and upriver towards the mouth of Coyote Creek. Trollers are running faster at speeds from 2 to 3 mph with ExCels, Needlefish, or Speedy Shiners along with floating Rapalas, jointed Shad Raps, or Countdown Rapalas in shad patterns. Bank fishing has been best near Glory Hole Point, Glory Hole Cove or the Highway 49 bridge with inflated nightcrawlers or garlic-scented trout dough bait. The concrete ramp at Glory Hole Point open with two lanes and a dock, but the Tuttletown Launch Ramp remains closed. New Melones dropped over a foot to 877.33 feet in elevation and 25 percent of capacity. At Lake Tulloch, plans have been announced to drain the lake in September to meet agricultural and environmental obligations, but it appears that the lake will be open for the summer months. Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay

San Luis Reservoir continued to rise steadily with heavy pumping from the Delta, and it has risen to over 68 percent in the past week. The stripers are holding tight to specific areas of the lake in small grouping. Live jumbo minnows drifted at depths from 60 to 80 feet near the bottom or trolling with shad-patterned plugs on the downrigger are producing a few quality linesides. Shore fishermen are tossing Duo Realis jerkbaits or Lucky Craft 128s in American shad or ghost minnow from the banks in low-light conditions. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service took out Clint Thaxter of Fresno and his son Alan and daughter Lynne for 16 stripers to 24 inches on Friday, and Ben Dunn and his son Roan and son-in-law Todd for over 20 stripers to 26 inches on trolled lures. “The fishing wasn’t easy, and there were a lot of boats. The fish are constantly moving. We are using the Seaqualizer to easily put them back quickly,” George reported. In the O’Neill Forebay, Check 12 and the Highway 152 bridge are the top areas for shore fishermen with pile worms, bloodworms, anchovies, or jumbo minnows for stripers in the 18- to 23-inch range. Largemouth bass are also holding in the lake, and drop-shot plastics, Senkos, or jigs are all working. Heavy pumping through the reservoir continued throughout the week, and the stripers become active when the water is moving. Call; Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711. Tackle (408) 463-0711

San Francisco Bay

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “There have been three halibut over 30 pounds landed in the past nine days with the possibility of a fourth huge fish that I haven’t personally confirmed.” James Smith on the California Dawn will be returning to the Berkeley Marina on April 3 for his first halibut trip of the season, and he said, “This season is gearing up like last year with a number of halibut at the start of the season but slowing down by May until the large fish come back into the bay and along the coast. There are good ocean conditions, and I observed 10 acres of anchovies on the South Bar on my last trip outside of the Gate with birds and sea lions all over the place in the bait.” Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley went out with a cornucopia of bait on Saturday with live shiners, live anchovies, and live mudsuckers in the tanks, and they worked hard for a pair of bass and four halibut to 12 pounds for 24 anglers. He said, “The bass were on the move, and there was quite a bit of boat pressure which affects the fish. There were trollers working the corner at Red Rock, and the boat pressure puts the fish down.” They found an early bite at the Berkeley Pier, immediately hooking up with four fish while skiffs were also fighting fish around them. Smith added, “This seems to be the general pattern as trollers are working throughout the day for nothing before the fish go on the bite at the bottom of the incoming tide from slack tide to 30 minutes into the flood.”


Captain Chris Smith of the Captain Hook, also out of Martinez, said, “Dan Wulff of Manteca had the hot stick on Sunday with a 61-inch oversized released at the boat along with a pair of shaker sturgeon and shaker bass. Lamprey eel has been our top bait, and we had tons of bites this weekend. On Saturday, Kevin Haumera of Los Banos, who had never even been on a boat before, landed a 41-inch legal sturgeon within five minutes of anchoring in the morning, and his sister, Dana Summers-Haumera, also went home with a 44-inch diamondback.” In the San Joaquin River, the topwater striper bite broke out in low-light conditions during the week with Kenji Nagakawa, pro staffer for Delta Wood Bombers and member of “The Bomb Squad,” catching and releasing big linesides during the week. He went out on the San Joaquin River one evening with his bride of two weeks, and he caught and released a huge 22-pound striper on the 6-inch Nakagawa Delta Wood Bomber. He said, “My wife, Anne, also broke in her new Blue Bone DWB on a scrappy 3-pounder, and we had our chances on a few other big fish, but we couldn’t put a hook into them. The spring run is on, and it looks like it’s going to bust wide open in the next couple of days as we had tons of swirls and missed bites.” In the Stockton area, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported small striped bass between 18 and 24 inches can be found near Windmill Cove, Whiskey Slough, Inland Drive, and the Old River near the Highway 4 Bridge with anchovies or sardines. He said, “The largemouth bass are already on the beds, and the bite has been slow for the bed fish.” Catfishing has been best in the upper San Joaquin near Highway 132 with fresh clams. Fresh shad is still absent from area bait shops. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger-Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030.

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