LAKE DON PEDRO
Trout action has rebounded with Monte Smith of Gold County Sport Fishing putting three clients onto 11 rainbows with six others lost in spectacular weather conditions Monday. Said Smith, “We started off by dropping a pair of fish within 100 yards of putting out gear, but that was it for this area, so we made a couple of moves to locate better action. The best setup was a nightcrawler 18 inches behind a Sep’s Strike Master teardrop dodger on a side planer. I let out 40 to 50 feet before hooking on the side planer and then let out another 80 to 90 feet to let the bait sit far behind the boat.” In the morning hours, the water temperature was in the 54/55-degree range, and it warmed to 60 degrees later. They found their best action in the warmer water, and Smith slowed to 1.2 to 1.4 mph with his electric motor. He added, “If the weather keeps up like it is, the action is going to break out in a big way.” Gary Vella of Vella’s Sport Fishing has been rolling shad for king salmon to 3.5 pounds on recent trips. Bass fishing continued to improve for large fish with Huddleston swimbaits in light trout, 68 Specials or Reaction Innovation’s Skinny Dippers on a quarter-ounce jig head rolled like a jig along the bottom. Numbers of bass are still taken by drop-shotting or dartheading plastic worms at depths from 25 to 65 feet. The bass are moving shallow with the warming water. The lake is stained in the inlets due to last week’s storms, and trout fishing is best with bright-colored lures. The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp has one lane open, but Blue Oaks is closed. Another 3 feet is necessary to open the Fleming Meadows ramp to multiple lanes. There is a courtesy dock in the water. The lake rose three feet 708.7 feet in elevation and 42 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 lake rose more than 2 feet to 600.91 feet in elevation and 8 percent of capacity.
A 500-pound plant from the Calaveras Trout Farm spurred bank action during the week. The heavy releases from McClure have ceased at the present time, and the lake is clearing quickly. Bank fishermen are scoring with blue/chrome Kastmasters, bright Roostertails, garlic trout dough bait or nightcrawlers from the banks around the marina, the Handicapped Docks and the Brush Pile. Trolling continued to be slow in the stained water. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
MILLERTON LAKE/SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Small bass remain the rule at Millerton, but Patrick Movey of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The bite seems to change from day to day with the most consistent action on drop-shot plastics at depths from 25 to 30 feet with a few fish on spinnerbaits or jerkbaits.” Merritt Gilbert added, “The reaction bite has been better at Millerton than Pine Flat with a few fish taken on ripbaits.” Limits in the 7.5- to 7.75-pound range are possible, and although the numbers are much better than nearby Pine Flat, the overall size of the bass is smaller. Striper reports were scarce. 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 is currently at 490.6 feet in elevation and 36 percent of capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, an 11-pound striped bass was taken by a kayak angler on a plastic worm near Sycamore Island. 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. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
NEW MELONES RESERVOIR/TULLOCH
The massive largemouth bass continued to come out of New Melones with three largemouths of more than 10 pounds tipping the scales during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament’s Mother Lode Event. Tournament Director Kevin Cheek said, “The big fish came on Huddleston swimbaits, and all but one of the 69 teams weighed in fish with father and son Andrew and Don Stilley of Ceres weighing two over 10 pounds as part of their 35.75-pound limit. Corey Lewis took big fish honors at 10.31 pounds, and while most fishermen were working the bottom with jigs or Senkos, all of the large bass came on Huddlestons for those willing to throw the big lures all day long.” John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp added, “There have been a number of big fish coming out of the lake, and we caught and released over 30 bass on my last two guide trips. We have been dragging soft plastics along ledges in deep water, and the fish are starting to concentrate on crawdads as opposed to the shad schools as the bass are transitioning into a pre-spawn mode.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor and owner of Best Bass Tournaments, added, “This lake could produce a world-record spotted bass or largemouth bass within the next month since February is the month when the truly big fish come out. Since we have a certified scale at our weigh-ins, we are looking forward to the opportunity to weigh in a potential world record.” Trout fishing remained best for trollers as Gary Burns of Take It To The Limit Guide Service reported good action with Uncle Larry’s Spinners or a plain hook topped off with a nightcrawler at depths from 6 to 10 feet at a trolling speed of 1.8 mph near the Highway 49 Bridge. Lietchy added that jointed Rapalas in firetiger or orange Speedy Shiners have been producing in the stained waters of the lake. The recent inflow has parts of the lake off color, so the brighter colors of lures are working best, particularly when scented with Pro-Cure’s Bloody Tuna. Since there hasn’t been an extended period of cold weather this winter, a few catfish are brought into Glory Hole Sporting Goods on a weekly basis with a scented ball of nightcrawlers working best. 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 rose nearly 8 feet to 878.04 feet in elevation and 25 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 spectacular weather has brought out the crowds to the bay, and they went through bucket loads of ghost shrimp along with bags and bags of frozen mud shrimp. Gordie Hough on the Morningstar was out Friday with 12 anglers, and they landed 16 striped bass and released eight sturgeon consisting of six shakers and two oversized. The majority of sturgeon action in San Pablo Bay has been on the far eastern edge in the flats near the Mare Island Rockwall. Striped bass fishing remained very good. Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley confirmed the excellent sturgeon action in San Pablo Bay as a private boater landed two legal sturgeon in the flats adjacent to the Mare Island Rockwall. The herring spawns have been quiet, but the bigger tides over the weekend should start up the herring again. In the south bay, Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait reported excellent sturgeon action in the sloughs near Alviso, stating, “It is the best it has been in the past several years.” The two heavy storms have something to do with the improved south bay action, just in time for next Saturday’s Nor Cal Skipper’s Sturgeon Derby held out of the San Leandro Launch Ramp.
On the San Joaquin River, finding clear water is the key to success, and anglers need to go west or south to locate the clearest parts of the river system. Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing out of Korth’s Pirate’s Lair at the confluence of the Mokelumne and San Joaquin rivers said, “After last week’s storms, we could not find any fishable water anywhere out of Korth’s.” J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing will be in search of clear water for stripers on swimbaits, spoons or top water this week, but he said, “The Mokelumne is pumping mud over the Highway 12 Bridge at B and W Resort, and there is no visibility there.” The water is warming rapidly, and he thought an early season for striped bass is on the way. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported excellent largemouth bass action with chatterbaits, Senkos or crankbaits on the west side of the Delta, stating, “You can find small areas of clear water, but you have to go west toward Mildred Island, and the water temperature is 60 degrees at the present time. This is unheard of at this time of year.” Large bass have been scarce, but Fong located a number of fish to 2.75 pounds. For sturgeon, Rio Vista Bait reported the diamondbacks are starting to show up near Spindrift Marina and Happy Harbor in the deep holes. Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton reported slow striper fishing in the south Delta with the river muddy and full of debris. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.