Lake Don Pedro
Trout trolling has been solid with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing producing three limits for his clients using blade/crawler combinations or frozen shad at depths from the surface to 25 feet near the Flume. A slow presentation is necessary, as the fish are scattered and reluctant to strike a rapidly moving bait. Sideplaners are producing the most fish. Danny Layne of Fish’n Dan’s Guide Service made his first trip to the lake in several months and said, “We had an interesting bite, and our first fish was a nice king salmon in Waterford Bay at 12 feet in depth on a micro green squid behind a copper 4/0 dodger. Vance’s Cop Car spoon produced a few fish as well as a Sockeye Slammer behind a Sling Blade at 30 feet of depth on the back side of Big Oak Island. The low pressure should move out, and the action should improve in the clear, 57-degree water.” Bass fishing continued to improve for large fish with Huddleston swimbaits in light trout or Huddleston 68 Specials. The ROF 12 is best in deep water with the ROF 5 effective in the shallows. Numbers of bass are still taken by drop-shotting or dartheading plastic worms, jigs or Senkos at depths from the bank to 30 feet. The launch ramp at Fleming Meadows is still one lane with two courtesy docks, and a few more inches of inflow are necessary to open the other lanes. The Blue Oaks Launch Ramp remained closed. The lake held at 710.4 feet in elevation and 43 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 has risen steadily the past three weeks, but 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 rose 1.5 feet to 606.08 feet in elevation and 8 percent of capacity.
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Shore fishing remained solid from the Brush Pile and along the Marina with garlic trout dough bait, nightcrawlers or garlic power worms. Few boats are trolling. The last plant was the previous week with 500 pounds from the Calaveras Trout Farm. The annual Spring Trout Derby is April 11-12 with registration available at http://www.lakemcclure.com/index.cfm/events/spring-trout-fishing-derby. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
At Millerton, limits to 10.5 pounds are possible, and most anglers are still working the bottom with drop-shot plastics or jigs with the best action from the banks to 25 feet in depth. Gilbert added, “The majority of bass are found in the 20- to 25-foot range, and the larger fish holding deep have vanished, leaving a grade of 11- to 12-inch fish in the deep water.” The occasional striped bass is reported charging a hooked spotted bass. Millerton is rising slowly (1.5 feet this week) and is currently at 493.27 feet in elevation and 38 percent of capacity. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal fishing action is taking place due to the lack of trout plants. A plant is scheduled for Sycamore Island Pond on the San Joaquin River this week and Woodward Park Lake in Fresno next 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
“It’s go time at New Melones for largemouth and spotted bass,” said John Lietchy of Xperience Fishing Guide Service and Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp. Numbers of big spotted and largemouth bass continued to be the rule on rainbow trout-patterned swimbaits or jigs, and there are two large tournaments within the first two weekends in March with an American Bass Association event March 7, followed by Best Bass Tournaments on March 14. Lietchy added, “It looks like the spotted bass record was broken this past week at Bullard’s Bar, but I fully expect the record to be broken once again by a New Melones spot.” Numbers of bass are holding along deep structure, as they haven’t come up into the shallows, and drop-shot plastics, Carolina-rigged plastics, Senkos or shad-patterned plastics on the shakey-head or darthead are effective while the larger fish are taken on swimbaits by anglers willing to toss the large baits all day for one or two big bites. Trout fishing remained solid from the shoreline with garlic-scented trout dough bait, inflated nightcrawlers or a marshmallow/crawler combination on a sliding sinker with a light wire hook since floating the bait off of the bottom is crucial. Glory Hole Point, Glory Hole Cove and the Highway 49 Bridge are the top areas from the shoreline. The NorCal Trout Anglers Challenge brought hordes of shore fishermen to the lake Saturday, and Jay Winchester took the top honor in this version of a series of events in Northern California lakes with a 2.54-pound rainbow. Trollers are scoring with a faster presentation, leading Lietchy to state, “A combination of an ExCel spoon with the smaller Sockeye Slammer on a 1.5-foot leader has been working with some fishermen landing as many as 30 rainbows working from the surface to 25 feet, and faster trolling speeds to 3 mph are producing more strikes.” Catfish continued to be landed on a regular basis in response to the unseasonably warm weather. Nightcrawlers, frozen shad or mackerel loaded with scent are working near large rocks or boulders. The crappie bite should take off in the coming weeks with the low lake levels exposing trees. The concrete ramp at Glory Hole Point is open with two lanes and a dock, but the Tuttletown Launch Ramp remains closed. At downstream Lake Tulloch, the first announcement of plans to drain the lake by July to meet agricultural and environmental obligations surfaced last week. New Melones rose less than a quarter-foot to 879.01 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 Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
The reservoir continued to rise with heavy pumping from the Delta and is currently more than 64 percent of capacity. As a result, stripers are holding near the pumps and in small groupings above humps and points in specific areas of the expanding lake. Electronics are a necessity for locating and remaining on the schools. The best action has been with jumbo minnows at depths from 60 to 90 feet, but trolling large plugs on the downrigger are also producing the occasional legal striper. The mouth of Portuguese Cove and the Trash Racks remained the top areas. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said he fun fished with Andy Bedell and Matt Enos of Merced on Sunday, and they had an epic day landing/releasing more than 40 fish in the 18- to 24-inch range on several plugs in silver or blue tones at 50 to 80 feet. “Most guys were struggling to get a few fish after the storm passed, but we found schools of scattered fish that we targeted around the pumps and Romero – and we got on a jag. You have to use and know what your electronics are telling you right now, and find active fish. We luckily found a good pattern,” George said. Paul Jolley of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Largemouth bass continued to be the story in the Forebay with dark purple worms on a finesse presentation in the stained water from the recent winds and heavy pumping. Kayakers are drifting jumbo minnows near the Rockwall or around the Twin Islands. A few catfish have been showing up around Check 12 with frozen shad, mackerel or sardines.” Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, (408) 463-0711.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut fever has arrived at the start of March with up to three limits of halibut landed in a variety of locations within San Francisco Bay. The Salty Lady out of Sausalito deckhand Deva Sherman said, “One boat reported seven halibut on Saturday.” Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported one boat returned Sunday afternoon with a 32-pound halibut landed by a 6-year-old on the skiff. Fraser said, “The bass bite is off the charts with Captain Gordie Hough returning with 18 striped bass along with a 54-inch sturgeon while releasing four shakers using shrimp baits in San Pablo Bay.” Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker said the water near the Richmond shoreline muddied up a bit over the weekend due to the wind, limiting trolling for striped bass, but he was aware of one skiff with three limits of halibut taken by trolling near Oyster Point.
On the San Joaquin River, as throughout the Delta system, the water temperature dropped drastically within the past week due to the evening temperatures in the low 30s and the constant winds. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said the water temperature in the San Joaquin River dropped from 60 to 56 degrees. “As a result, the spinnerbait and crankbait bite died, but we found solid action on rip baits in the mornings adjacent to rocky structure on the incoming tide,” he said. J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has been working the clear pockets of water on the San Joaquin River and said, “The periods of heavy wind have turned the water off-color, but the San Joaquin is looking better. The action for stripers was decent this week, but it wasn’t red hot, as the bouncing barometer and cooling water temperatures have affected the action. We haven’t been keeping fish, but the two I cleaned this week were already spawned out despite being February.” Note: The Mokelumne River Bridge at Highway 12 in San Joaquin County will closed from 10 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.