Lake Don Pedro
Trout action remains solid at depths from 15-30 feet with spinner hootchies behind a dodger. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was on the lake Friday and said he “put on a couple of shad for salmon and also rods out for kokanee, and we had a hit on the shad, but the bite was slow for the first couple of hours. I switched over to heavy spoons and started trolling at 2.5 mph, and the bite was on for both kokanee and rainbow trout. The water temperature has come up to 67 degrees, and the clarity is from 8-9 feet, so the fish are biting.” Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “Bass action is tough overall, but there have been some large fish taken on Huddleston swimbaits in rainbow trout. Plastics on the drop-shot or shaky head are producing numbers.” The lake came up 4.5 feet this week to 760.72 in elevation and 63 percent capacity. All three launch ramps are open. 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 is rising quickly, and the spotted bass have been holding off the shoreline in the 20- to 25-foot range. Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “The cooler temperatures and rising water have kept the fish from spawning consistently. The topwater bite has died off. Spotted bass to 6 pounds have been landed on a jig in the past week, and the action will go ballistic once the weather stabilizes.” The lake has risen 14 feet in the last week to 742.45 feet in elevation and 38 percent of capacity, but the lake is still below the 50 percent average at this time of year. The Barrett Cove South and McClure Point launch ramps are open, but the Barrett Cove North ramp is closed due to construction. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505.
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The Merced Irrigation District’s annual trout derby occurred over the past week, and the lake is loaded with planted trout. The lake is full, and bank fishing has been best at the Marina, the Brush Pile and the Handicapped Docks with Kastmasters, trout dough bait or inflated nightcrawlers. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The trout bite is starting to show signs of life after a Rip Van Winkle-like hibernation period during the winter months. Bass fishing remains outstanding for numbers along with a few truly large fish, and the crappie bite has been the best in recent memory. Gary Burns of Take it to the Limit Guide Service said, “We have been on the water a few times this past week, and the trout are biting from the surface to 20 feet in depth with Uncle Larry’s spinners in copper/orange behind a pink Shasta Tackle’s Sling Blade tipped with garlic corn. We have been trying for both rainbows and kokanee, but only the trout have been cooperative. Our best production has taken place in the main lake towards the day.” Bob James of Murphys landed a limit of quality rainbows running a Rapala in bright colors near the Highway 49 Bridge while Kevin Wright of Manteca put together a limit within two hours in the middle of the day with ExCel spoons in the main lake. Bank fishing remains very slow. The kokanee bite is just around the corner, and traditionally the second week of April marks the start of the kokanee season. There have been a few kokanee landed by trollers targeting rainbows. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sporting Goods reported an excellent bass bite with reaction baits such as spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and small swimbaits as well as plastics on the drop-shot or Senkos. He said, “The fish are spawning in waves, and some fish are already in post-spawn mode, but another wave will be coming in again.” Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford confirmed the great bass action, stating, “There are tons of 1- and 2-pound bass, and we have been scoring with the Berserk Purple Hornet jig, the River2Sea SWaver in yellow trout, as well as plastics on the drop-shot or shaky head.” Crappie fishing has been excellent, and Liechty reported one group came in with 35 slabs within four hours with minijigs near structure. Catfishing is also improving, as the whiskerfish are holding near large rocks along the south facing banks. The lake rose a foot in the past week to 882.81 in elevation and 26 percent of capacity despite starting to release water down the Stanislaus River. With the launch ramp back on the concrete, the lake will be able to host upcoming bass tournaments. Glory Hole remains the only launch available on the lake with another 25 feet of vertical rise necessary to open the Tuttletown ramp. Glory Hole Sports is under new ownership after Dan and Melanie Lewis finished their 20-year run, and the new owners will hold a grand opening April 23 with a large sale, raffle prizes and a barbecue. Fishing experts Joe Bruce, Vance Staplin, Gary Coe, Gary Burns, John Liechty and Joe Askamit will be on hand to answer questions, along with tackle representatives John Darroch of Glitterbugs, John Yurkovich of Uncle Larry’s Lures and Cory Keller of Rocky Mountain Tackle. 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.
The sturgeon bite in lower Suisun Bay remains on fire with Captain Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing putting his clients onto five limits of quality diamondbacks in the middle of the week by 12:30 p.m. He said, “The bite is off the hook, and we are still working deep water between Buoy 4 and the Benicia/Martinez Bridge with straight eel. Right now, the bite is so good, I can pretty much guarantee that you will have a chance to set hook on a sturgeon.” Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “Striper trolling and plug casting has started to recover a bit from the dirty water, and with the increased water temperatures, a few more stripers in the Cache Slough area responded. Sturgeon remains the focus here with fishermen heading to Light 41, Liberty and Cache Slough areas with roe and eel reporting success.” Andy Doudna of Oakley, sturgeon expert, was in the Big Cut last weekend for three keeper sturgeon, a shaker and three oversized sturgeon to 8 feet. He said, “The bite was good on Friday on the outgo, but Saturday was another story with heavy grass showing up and shutting down the bite. Pickled eel in 30 feet of water was the key.” In the Freeport area, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle reported a hot bite for striped bass with blood worms, pile worms or sardines coated with garlic spray. The San Joaquin River has been the top location for striper trollers, and the action has been solid from the Antioch Bridge upriver to Prisoner’s Point. The largemouth bass are in full spawn mode and have moved into the shallows. Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, drew first blood this week, as his was one of the first boats to work along the tule berm along Eddo’s Harbor with P-Line Angry Eye Predators in a red head/white, Rat-L-Traps, Savage Gear lures and Yozuri Crystal Minnows for stripers to 11 pounds. Mark Wilson, striper trolling and casting expert, also was on the San Joaquin River on Sunday, and they caught and released 21 keepers to 17 pounds along with 35 shakers from 15 to 17 inches. He said, “The Sacramento River has slowed down, and it has been pretty good on the San Joaquin site, and there are lots of fish in the system. The stripers are in all phases of spawning, as one friend had four spawned-out fish on Saturday, but of the females kept on Sunday, they had yellowish eggs and still had a ways to go.” Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing out of Korth’s Pirates Lair added, “The fishing the past couple of weeks continued to be solid with live bait still our technique of choice. However, once we are on the fish, we bust out the 1.75-ounce Blade Runner spoons in Morning Dawn or the 2-ounce P-Line Laser Minnows in white/chrome.” Topwater lures also are producing with Kenji Nagakawa and Elvis Rocha of Lodi catching and releasing double-digit bass using Delta Wood Bombers Sinister Six plugs. For largemouth bass, Mathisen held his second tournament out of Big Break Marina on Saturday, and Scott Halleson and Robert Matsura took first place with a 31.87-pound limit, including a big fish at 7.98 pounds. Mathisen said, “Flipping Senkos around the beds, reaction baits in the rain and morning topwater lures were the best things going, and the larger fish in the tournament were taken on topwater.” Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the excellent largemouth bass bite, and he has changed over to tossing Brush Hogs or Senkos in response to the fish moving up tight to the banks. He said, “My nephew, Bub Fong, and his partner put in a 41-pound limit with Brush Hogs, Senkos and also on glide baits on Saturday.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, is preparing for the Rat-L-Trap Open out of Russo’s Marina on April 17, and he has been finding solid action for numbers and size with a variety of techniques in the east and central Delta. A smolt dump was made above Wimpy’s Marina on the Mokelumne River at the end of last week, and striped bass to 14 pounds have been taken on swimbaits with the bass on the surface. Chapman added that sturgeon have been landed in front of Antioch at the sheet rock plant with one boat releasing six undersized and a 7.5-foot oversized along with two keepers on eel/nightcrawler combinations. Chapman landed a 52-incher while on the anchor off the Riverview Pier on an eel/nightcrawler combination. Call: Randy Pringle, 209-543-6260; Intimidator Sport Fishing, 916-806-3030; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, 925-570-5303.