Lake Don Pedro
The trout action at Don Pedro has become very tough, and experienced guides are struggling for the occasional fish despite breaking out all stops. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was out Sunday with a party of four, and he reported very slow action throughout the day. He said, “We had five rods in the water, and we covered plenty of water and depth ranges from 28 to over 100 feet for a total of three bites, landing a spotted bass along with a quality 1.5-pound rainbow. We were on the water early, and I tried everything in the tackle box at different depths. There were fish on the meter at 28 feet, and they looked like rainbows, but they wouldn’t bite. We landed a smallmouth bass at 54 feet, and several hours later, we picked up a rainbow on an ExCel spoon at 53 feet. It is not a good time to be fishing in the Mother Lode, and I think the effects of the drought are the cause as (at this time last year) we experienced a phenomenal trout bite.” The water temperature is starting to cool, and it’s currently 72 degrees with clarity of at least 7 feet. For bass fishing, Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported good action with drop-shot plastics at depths from 50 to 60 feet. Patterns such as Robo Worms Hologram Shad or Reaction Innovation’s Bad Shad Green are the top producers. The fish are holding deep from 40 to 60 feet. The minnow bite has been slow. The lake is releasing water, but it’s holding at 32 percent of capacity. The launch ramp widens to two lanes near the bottom, and launching a boat is no problem. The lake dropped a half-foot to 674.07 feet in elevation. Call: Monte Smith, 209-581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, 209-586-2383; Gary Vella, 209-652-7550; Bait Barn, 209-874-3011.
For the past two years, the low water conditions at Lake McClure have taken the reservoir off the Mother Lode fishing map, but the past few months have been productive for the few boats willing to launch at the North Barrett Cove ramp or from shore fishermen willing to make the long walk down to the lake. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “One of our customers went to McClure this week, and he launched his boat in the early morning, and they only went a few yards down along the banks for over 30 spotted bass from 1.5 to 2 pounds using plastics on the drop-shot or dart head or with Senkos. There were only a few boats on the lake.” Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “Bass fishermen are drop-shotting Reaction Innovation’s Bad Shad Green or Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad at depths from 40 to 60 feet for the best action, and bank fishermen are also getting in on the action. There is a good bite for trout with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers on a sliding sinker rig with a 4- to 5-foot leader along the banks with deepwater access.” The lake dropped 1 foot this past week to 607.99 feet in elevation and 9 percent of capacity. The Merced River is closed to fishing until Jan. 1 between the Crocker-Huffman Bridge to G Street in Snelling due to warm water conditions. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505; Bub Tosh, 209-404-0053.
The annual Merced Irrigation Derby Fall Trout Derby has been postponed until April 9-10. With no trout plants for the past several months, action remained very slow. Spotted bass have moved into the lake from water releases from upstream McClure. The McSwain Marina is now closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The Butte Fire was more than 70 percent contained as of press time, but with more than 500 homes lost to the fire, area residents were focused on recovery instead of fishing. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “It has been chaotic around here for the past 10 days, as the main fire-fighting station has been the Calaveras County Fairgrounds across from the shop. Despite the devastation of so many homes being lost, our communities have really come together with support for area residents.” Catfish remain the top species at New Melones for the few fishermen heading to the lake. The whiskerfish are in the shallows with the warm temperatures, and they are feeding on the small shad that are thick throughout the lake. Frozen shad, sardines or mackerel are the top baits for catfish. Lietchy took his boat out Friday for bass fishing and said, “The fish are tough to find, and we struggled for small fish throughout the day with our best action drop-shotting plastics for the suspended fish.” There was a suspended spotted bass landed on a deep-diving crankbait at a depth of 20 feet in 150 feet of water, so the bass are off of the banks following the shad schools. Few, if any, boaters are launching in search of kokanee or trout, but the kokanee should be over by this time of the year with the spawn on the way. With so few trollers on the lake, it has been difficult to get a read on the action, but the fish should be holding in the deepest locations in the lake such as the spillway, dam and along the main river channel. Crappie fishing is best with live minnows under lights near structure with access to deep water. The lake dropped 2 feet to 12 percent of capacity and 801.1 feet in elevation. Tulloch dropped 2 feet to 502.96 feet in elevation and 86 percent of capacity with more water releases anticipated. 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
Anthony Lopez at Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Jumbo minnows are the top draw for boaters launching out of Dinosaur Point and working at depths from 60 to 90 feet near the Trash Racks, Quiensabe Point or the islands in front of the Romero Visitor Center. The launch ramp at Dinosaur Point is on the second ramp, and there is a submerged berm on the left-hand side of the cove. Trollers are pulling P-Line Predators, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, Rebels or Lucky Craft 128’s at similar depths.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said the bite for trollers was very tough last weekend and they only had six or seven bites, landing just two fish for the worst results for him this year. “We all think that the huge fluctuation of over 20 degrees in temperatures from high to low, then back up again to high in just two weeks has changed the patterns and holding areas a lot. Its easy to find fish, but almost all of them were suspended or completely turned off to any reaction bite in the calm 100-degree weather. Several other guys were also perplexed, with most getting just a few fish for a day’s fishing, mirroring our results. However, one friend had some very good results on minnows a day before things hit the wall for us. The bite could kick back in soon with some stability and cooling.” George said in the O’Neill Forebay, spraying operations have halted the weed growth, and the heavy weeds are dying throughout the small impoundment. Pile worms, blood worms, anchovies or shad are working near Check 12 or the Highway 152 Bridge for small striped bass. A few fishermen are tossing ripbaits, swimbaits or jerkbaits over the submerged weeds. The main lake continues to release water at a rapid clip for agricultural and domestic uses, and imports from the Delta kept the lake stable at 20 percent with an addition of 439 acre-feet Monday. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, 408-463-0711; Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 559-905-2954.
Salmon are becoming the rule rather than the exception in the Freeport area with arounda half-dozen fish landed per day from boaters spooning below the Freeport Bridge or from the shorelines with Flying C’s. Johnny Tran of Freeport Bait said, “The salmon are here, and we had five fish brought to the shop on Sunday. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the good action at the Minnow Hole and Brickyard for those jigging spoons, and bank fishermen are scoring at least a half-dozen fish with Flying C’s. Further downstream in lower Suisun Bay, Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait said, “There have been loads of salmon that are hooked at the state park, but the pod of sea lions out there have stripped every hooked fish off of the lines.” For striped bass, Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was in Broad Slough during the week and reported numbers of small stripers in the 18- to 21-inch range with shallow and deep-diving lures. He said, “The fish were all skinny with the exception of one 21-incher that may have weighed 3.5 pounds. Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported striped bass in the 22- to 28-inch range coming in consistently from Broad Slough, Collinsville and Sherman Island with frozen shad, live minnows or mudsuckers. The striped bass are holding in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel or around Liberty Island, but Fong said, “The bite is hit or miss, as it was very rough at Liberty early in the week with whitecaps from the wind, and the bite was difficult, but the following day, one boat landed 25 stripers to 12 pounds tossing River2Sea SWavers.” Tran added, “The fall striper run has started, and the best action has been in either Liberty Island or the Sacramento Deep Water Channel with live mudsuckers, frozen sardines or fresh shad.” Sturgeon remained slow with only a few anglers out during the alternating periods of high temperatures or high winds. Grass shrimp has been difficult to obtain in area baits shops. The Rio Vista Bass Derby and Festival is only a few weeks away with the 68th annual event taking place Oct. 9-11. Information is available at www.bassfestival.com. The San Joaquin River is producing striped bass for trollers in the know with the best action from the mouth of the Mokelumne through the shoals toward the Antioch Bridge. The occasional sturgeon has been landed near Marker 18 on the San Joaquin, but few fishermen are trying as of yet. Stefan Masters of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle said, “Salmon fishing has improved near Humphrey’s Pier in Antioch with Vee-Zee or Flying C spinners, and the fish have all been in the 10- to 12-pound range.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported, “The Delta is producing good numbers of smaller stripers, and the waters will be cooling with each day and the winds are subsiding.” Smallmouth bass fishing is still red hot with opportunities to catch good-size stripers and largemouth bass on the surface. Chartreuse over white clousers are catching most of the subsurface fish while Crease flies, Flat Fred’s and Pole Dancers are the go-to topwater offerings. Dan Mathisen of Delta Dan’s Outdoors in Oakley reported an “off-the-hook” bite for striped bass from Honker Bay to the Antioch Bridge with hair raisers or Bad Bubba Shad’s swimbaits. He said, “This swimbait has a wider profile, and we landed eight stripers on 10 casts on my last trip. We have been averaging 25 to 30 fish per venture, and we have released stripers to 20 pounds already this year.” His shop is sponsoring three catch, photograph and release striper derbies this year with the first occurring Sept. 26. Largemouth bass action has been the best by punching the weeds with bluegill imitation creature baits in orange or green pumpkin behind a three-quarters to one-ounce weight. Mathisen said, “The fish are holding within 18 inches of the edge of the weeds, and they are very current-oriented. The more current, the better.” For largemouth bass, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “Bass fishing has been tough within the past week with the changing temperatures. On our last trip, we struggled for four bass to 4 pounds punching the weeds with Missle D-Bombs on a 1.5-ounce weight.” Harold Hass of the Fresno Bass Club reported great action during Saturday’s prefishing, but Sunday was a different story with triple-digit temperatures putting the larger fish off the bite and water hyacinth blocking many prime spots. He added, “There were lots of small fish on reaction baits.” Largemouth bass fishing has been best in Big Break and Dutch Slough with live jumbo minnows, and boaters are also drifting the minnows for striped bass. In Stockton, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported the striped bass bite in the south Delta has slowed in Whiskey Slough and Middle River. Call: Randy Pringle, 209-543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, 925-570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, 916-806-3030.