Lake Don Pedro
Bass fishing remained solid with live minnows from the shorelines at depths from 5 to 20 feet while crankbaits or ripbaits are also starting to work. The bass are moving into the shallows, and the occasional larger fish is taken on a Huddleston ROF 5 in the shallows. Few trout fishermen have been working the lake, but Danny Layne of Fish’n Dan’s Guide Service took out Jim Smith and his son-in-law, Greg Colvert, for steady action with two to three hookups per hour while working the waters of Middle Bay with Sep’s scented grubs, Phoebe gold spoons, Vance’s Sockeye Slammers and blade/crawler combinations at depths from the surface to 18 feet. The Fleming Meadows Launch Ramp has one lane open, but Blue Oaks is closed. The lake rose slightly to 710.77 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.
Not much change at McClure with the limited access to the lake and marinas out of the water. 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 held at 606.00 feet in elevation and 8 percent of capacity.
The lake’s waters have muddied, and shore action has slowed in the past week. Trout dough bait combined with Pro-Cure scents are working for a few rainbows at the Brush Pile, Marina points or the Handicapped Docks. Trolling remained slow. Trout plants from the 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 http://www.lakemcclure.com/index.cfm/events/spring-trout-fishing-derby. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
At Millerton, numbers of spotted bass are available with fishermen routinely landing between 20 and 30 to 1.75 pounds using Senkos, jigs, drop-shot plastics or Texas-rigged worms with the best action in the 20- to 25-foot range. The occasional ripbait fish is taken near the shoreline in the warmer conditions in the afternoons. Striped bass fishing has been slow, but a 30-pound lineside was taken from the shoreline near the dam on a live crawdad. All motors must conform to low-emission standards. Millerton is rising slowly and is currently at 494.48 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 trout plant is scheduled for Woodward Park Lake in Fresno 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
There is great anticipation for huge bass at New Melones as well as the opportunity for numbers of smaller bass. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Anyone can go out and get some bass using jigs or plastics on the Texas or Carolina rig. The spring bite is around the corner, and the majority of fish are in the 25- to 35-foot range, and they are filling their bellies in anticipation of the coming spawn. Rock ledges and bluffs are holding plenty of bass, and Hula Grubs on a football-head jig or plastics on a darthead using colors of natural crawdad colors or earth tones are effective in clear water while brighter or darker colors are working best in stained water.” The occasional larger fish are taken on swimbaits, but fishermen have to be willing to toss the heavy lures throughout the day for one or two chances at a true trophy fish. The Best Bass Tournaments Mother Lode Circuit will be held March 14, and it’s anticipated there will be nearly 100 boats on the water in search of a world-record spotted or largemouth bass. Trout fishing remained solid with the fish in shallow water. Trollers are finding success using bright color-patterned spoons such as Needlefish, ExCels or Speedy Shiners near the surface while running at faster speeds between 2 and 3 MPH. Gary Burns of “Take It To The Limit” Guide Service said, “We put in several rainbows up to 2 pounds this week in addition to three kokanee and releasing a quality brown trout.” He has been trolling around the Highway 49 Bridge and up the river arm at depths from 5 to 18 feet with spoons in pink, blue or rainbow, coated with Pro-Cure’s Bloody Tuna at 3 MPH. The kokanee were taken on firetiger or gold Uncle Larry’s spinners tipped with a nightcrawler at a slower trolling speed. The kokanee bite should go into high gear shortly. Bank fishing has been best with nightcrawlers scented with garlic or anise off the bottom while trout dough bait in rainbow, chartreuse, garlic or salmon egg have also been effective for limits of planters. Said Lietchy, “We haven’t had many large rainbows this year with a 2-pound fish being on the upper end, while last year it took a 3-pound rainbow to win our weekly Big Fish Contest nearly every week.” The net pens are holding rainbows in the 3-pound range, and they will be released in April. Catfishing remained good with frozen shad, mackerel or anchovies scented with Pro-Cure’s Bloody Tuna or garlic with the best action around exposed wood. The unseasonably warm weather should spur on the crappie bite, and with the lake level much lower than normal, submerged structure is readily available. Small minnows under a slip-float, a minnow on a minijig, or Beetle Spin will all work for the slabsides. The lake is rising steadily with the concrete ramp at Glory Hole Point open with two lanes and a dock, but the Tuttletown Launch Ramp remains closed. New Melones dropped to 878.41 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 the lake will be open for the summer months. 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 halibut bite continued to be encouraging with Captain Jerad Davis on the Salty Lady posting seven halibut to 10 pounds and three stripers to 4 pounds for 10 fishermen Friday using their supply of live anchovies after putting in eight halibut and a striped bass on Thursday’s trip. … Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley will be taking his first live bait halibut/striper trip of the season March 14. He has rounded up a supply of live anchovies and shiners for the trip.
San Luis Obispo
The San Luis Obispo County ports are limited to sand dab/crab, whale watching or nature cruises until the anticipated April 1 rockfish opener. The rockfish season is projected to open one month earlier this year than the traditional May 1 opener, and confirmation will be released within the month after this week’s meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis will offer sand dab/crab combination trips Wednesdays and Saturdays for $60 for adults and $50 for children 12 and under. Their last combination trip returned with limits of Dungeness crab for 10 anglers along with a handful of sand dabs and white croakers. Patriot is selling rockfish season passes for $1,000. Whale watching and nature cruises will be held out of Morro Bay Landing and Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay for the next several months. Virg’s Landing is running whale watching trips every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. for $39 for adults and $29 for children. Virg’s is also offering a 10 percent discount for group charters booking an entire boat for a trip before the season opens. Surf perch fishing remained excellent from the beaches north of Morro Rock and near Port San Luis with Berkley Sand Worms in Camo or pumpkin seed or with motor oil grubs. Call: Virg’s Landing, (805) 772-1222, (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sports Fishing, (805) 595-4100; Port Side Marine Sports Launch, (805) 595-7214.
The striper bite that had been so hot up the river arm slowed during the past week, leading J.D. Richey of Richey’s Guide Service to state, “It has been very tough in the Rio Vista area, as the boat traffic was heavy on Saturday with jet skiers and wake boarders showing up along with a large number of fishing boats. The action has been less than spectacular, although we have landed a few quality stripers to 10 pounds on topwater lures. We had a couple of good topwater sessions in low light, but the tide went slack on Saturday at sunset, so the bite was off.” The stripers have ranged from spawned out to “ready to go” with yellowish-red eggs. Largemouth bass action on the San Joaquin River remained outstanding, and the action will get better and better as the water continues to clear with the lack of wind. Striped bass are showing up as well on the main river channel, but marauding sea lions are thrashing largemouth and striped bass throughout the river system. The Department of Boating and Waterways has begun spraying herbicide around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, three weeks earlier than usual, including Burns Cutoff and Village West Marina in Stockton. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.