Reeling in a trophy trout at Lake McClure
Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
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Shaver mixed limits drawing anglers, Dick Nichols said. Courtright trout active, Kelly Brewer reported. Eastman and Hensley bass bites good, Jake Figgs said. New Melones kokanee action keeps on producing, Monte Smith reported. Bass Lake bass fishing good, Steve Newman said. San Francisco salmon and halibut hitting, Steve Mitchell reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2 Catfish 2
Heat has been the story, and with the lack of shade or cover along the stretch of the California Aqueduct, most fishermen are avoiding the canals during daylight hours. Bait fishermen are soaking blood worms, pile worms, sardines, or anchovies during the early mornings or late afternoons into the evenings near Los Banos or in the canals near Mendota.
In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “We are selling a whole lot of blood worms, sardines, and anchovies for catfish and striped bass. There is some moss in the aqueduct, but it hasn’t been a big problem.”
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Bass action continues to improve with largemouths in the 3-pound range taken on 6-inch Senkos in crawdad patterns along with jigs in watermelon or green pumpkin at depths to 20 feet near rock and boulders. With the bass feeding heavily on crawdads, the fish are holding near the rocks. The bait moves into the rocks near the dam in the evenings, and deep-diving crankbaits such as Strike King XD6 or XD8s are a good option at 15 to 20 feet in depth. The crappie bite remains slow, and there have been few reports of catfish with most whiskerfish anglers heading to the sloughs. The lake is releasing water, and it dropped from 67% to 64%.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 3
Figgs said, “The bass bite continues to be solid with Rat-L-Traps over the rockpiles or island tops. LV 500s or Spro’s Aruku Shad lipless cranks are also effective. The crappie bite has improved with slabs to 12 inches taken on Strike King’s Mr. Crappie jigs in Joker or Curlytail Shadpole near structure. An algae bloom has formed on the surface of the lake, particularly in the coves, and visitors are advised to avoid contact with the areas with algae. A few catfish are taken on cut baits. The lake dropped from 58% to 55%.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Not much change here with topwater lures working in the early mornings along the the newly-flooded areas with cover in the river arms as the fish are feeding heavily in the flooded areas. Kokanee fishermen continue to avoid the lake due to the excellent action at New Melones, but the time for rainbow trout and the few king salmon in the lake is coming during the fall and winter months. The lake dropped slightly to 95%.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported a good crappie bite for both bank fishermen and boaters with minijigs or small to medium minnows. Catfish are a great option from the shorelines with sardines or mackerel along with Sonny’s Dip Bait. A small grade of largemouth bass has been taken on jigs or deep-diving crankbaits close to rock. The lake dropped from 53% to 51%. The upper and lower rivers are now fishable, and Cormier said, “The upper is now producing the stocked and holdover rainbows with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, live crickets, spinners, or Power Bait.” The local lakes such as Hart Park are kicking out carp on powder bait or Wussy Bait along with bluegill.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Local expert bass angler Gary Wasson of Visalia said, “The bass bite remains slow with the best action in the early mornings with plastics and reaction lures at depths to 20 feet.” The bass are suspending with the water releases bringing the reservoir down from 47% to 37%.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “Bass fishing is very tough due to the extreme heat and the intensity of recreational boaters and swimmers trying to beat the heat.” Wasson added, “Reaction baits and jigs are working best.” The lake has dropped from 74% to 63%.
Stokke on Tule River conditions: “Fishing excellent for both natives and planters with stimulators, caddis, and carpenter ant patterns. Anglers trying for the stocked trout are using nightcrawlers, spinners, and Power Bait. The Belknap campground has been stocked.”
Bass 2 Trout 3 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
The bonanza of 150,000 pounds of rainbows dumped into the lake a few weeks ago continues to pay dividends as trollers are scoring consistently with a variety of shad-patterned lures. Bass fishermen are even getting in on the action with rainbows over 11 pounds taken incidentally on the drop-shot. The trout have moved off of the shorelines, and they are holding in the deeper water to 80 feet in depth.
Layne Philbrun of Modesto took out Hudson Bauman and his father for a day of bass fishing, and after scoring a number of spotted bass with Senkos or plastics on a Neko rig, Hudson hooked into a huge fish that didn’t fight like a bass. Philbrun said, “I wasn’t convinced it was a spotted bass, but when we saw the huge rainbow trout, I grabbed the net and got ready. Young Hudson brought the fish to the net, and after weighing it on a certified scale back in Modesto, it came in at 11.22 pounds.”
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreation Company said, “There have still been quite a few big trout taken out of the lake, and Needlefish in rainbow trout along with Excel spoons in silver or blade/’crawler combinations are working at depths from 40 to 60 feet. Some fishermen are just drifting nightcrawlers, and the worms seem like candy to the rainbows. The enforcement has been heavy over the past few weeks after the initial citations for over limit were issued, and the anglers got the message as everyone is playing by the rules now. The rangers remain vigilant in enforcing the regulations.”
McClure dropped from 94% to 92%.
Call: Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
A few rainbow trout are taken from the shorelines with salmon eggs, nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations, or rainbow trout dough bait from the Brush Pile, the shoreline near the new cabins, or the peninsula near the Marina in the early morning or late afternoon hours. Trout plants are indefinitely on hold due to warm water conditions.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Millerton and Pine Flat are both releasing water, but they are very high for this time of year compared with recent years. The bass bite remains best in the river arm at both lakes as the water is both moving and cooler. The reaction bite is limited to the early mornings or late afternoons when there is shade on the surface. Recreational boating is high at both lakes, but local schools open soon, and the jet skiers, water skiers, and wakeboards will resort to the weekends until the temperatures drop.
At Millerton, Jake Figgs of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The best action is in the river arm above Big Bend by dragging Hula Grubs in smoke/purple flake at depths from 15 to 20 feet. There is a small window for reaction baits with crankbaits in Ghost Minnow or topwater Spooks in Okie Shad. The bass are definitely loading up on crawdads, and in the main lake, long rocky points are holding bass. Working around rock is very important. Crawdad patterns such as green pumpkin/purple, watermelon red, or watermelon orange are all working. With the high water, the crawdads are very active and feeding in flooded areas.”
Millerton dropped from 93% to 90%.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 3
Between New Melones and Lake Berryessa, the competition for the largest grade of landlocked sockeye salmon in the state continues, and New Melones is not disappointing with kokanee approaching 3 pounds possible.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “We have been putting in two limits of big kokanee by 9:30 a.m. at the latest, and I have been weighing the largest fish in the mix up to 2.5 pounds. It is a matter of figuring out where the kokanee are at as there are some big schools to be found. We had a nice breeze on Saturday morning with a fog bank to the east, and we took advantage of the cooler weather to work away from the other boats with custom JPex lures behind Sling Blade at depths from 50 to 75 feet. We didn’t even get the second rod out when we had a fish on already, and only had to change lures one time. The kokanee are starting to migrate towards structure. We even caught and released a bass at 50 feet.”
Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Guide Service continues to score limits for his clients, and he said, “These kokanee are in good shape with their scales intact, but the larger fish are found on the bottom at depths from 90 to 100 feet with Apex or J Pex lures behind either a 6-inch Trinidad Tackle or Paulina Peak dodger. When the boat traffic is high, I am working deeper from 80 to 90 feet while there are still kokanee in the 60 to 75 foot range. The kokanee are starting to move up the river arm.”
For bass, John Leichty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “Not much has changed as the lake remains relatively stable. The bass bite is not on fire, but there are fish to be caught when you slow way down. A finesse presentation is the way to go by dragging a jig or plastics on the shakey head from 35 to 65 feet. If you find a pod of bass off of structure, you can drop-shot them. I have a night trip this coming Tuesday, and I hope the moonlight action will be good as we will be out all night long in search of some larger bass. There is the occasional quality bass taken on a swimbait or a topwater lure, and you can find fish as shallow as 5 feet on some casts in certain areas of the lake.”
The lake has dropped from 89% to 87%.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Figgs said, “Further up the river past Trimmer is best for bass, and it is definitely a finesse bite. Brown jigs dragged in a swimming style along the bottom are working best as the fish are loading up on crawdads. Strike King Dream Shot plastics in Moon Juice or watermelon red are working on the drop-shot at depths from 20 to 25 feet. Motor Oil with red is another option on the drop-shot. The bass are shallow in the early mornings, and there is a bite with Spooks when the shad are piled up into the backs of coves. Crawdad patterned jigs are also an option as the flooded areas are loaded with crawdads. Crappie fishing remains so-so with some slabs to 12 inches found above Trimmer in open water suspended around rockpiles, deep ledges, and submerged trees with Bobby Garland or Strike King’s Mr. Crappie jigs in Joker or Curlytail Shadpole. Trout trolling remains very slow.”
The restrictions have been lifted on the lower Kings, and trout plants have resumed. The best action has been for those drifting salmon eggs or orange trout dough bait with garlic through the slow slack water.
Pine Flat dropped from 86% to 81%.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
Heat, algae blooms , falling water, silted ramps and an overall poor bite have discouraged most anglers from fishing the big reservoir. The exception, Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service in Fresno continues to locate and catch huge striped bass at the main lake. He was out with Nick Zinkin of Fresno and his 11-year-old son, Rocklin, on Monday, and both anglers caught their personal-best striped bass with Rocklin scoring the first big fish at 15 pounds before catching and releasing a 21-pounder an hour later. Nick outdid them all with a spawned-out 43-inch/30-pound striped bass. George said, “Most trollers are really struggling, but I have been taking a lot of time scouting various different locations from Portuguese Cove to the Dam and Romero areas. We’ve gotten fish in several locations. The fish have been at depths from 40 to 90 feet and been moving around a lot in the warmer water. Two days ago the fish were not biting and suspended and all of us were stumped, but I hit it right (Monday) for a change – but it’s changing rapidly daily as the water level falls. I’m still using Lucky Crafts in minnow colors at about 2 mph. I think they are feeding on shrimp as we aren’t seeing many bait balls. The visibility is only around a foot in the green water, and the lake is dropping around a foot per day. The launch ramp at Basalt has been cleaned up, but with the water level dropping, the silt is heavy on the bottom of the ramp. A 4-wheel-drive is advised for launching at the Basalt Ramp due to slick conditions. You have to immediately clean your boat and car and get the clumped-up, bright green slime off your rigs or you’re going to have problems later. It’s a mess.”
The combination of wind, heat and the algae bloom is keeping most boaters off of the lake, and the best fishing has been from the banks in the early mornings before the sun rises or in the late evenings after the sun goes down. Blood worms, pile worms or extra-large minnows are all working for the occasional striped bass. Trollers continue to struggle, and a few linesides are taken by trolling as deep as 70 feet in Portuguese Cove or the Romero Visitor Center with Lucky Craft Pointers or umbrella rigs. During periods of wind, launching at Dinosaur Point is advised for safety. A toxic blue-algae warming has been issued for the main lake. The lake dropped from 69% to 65%.
In the forebay, small, undersized stripers remain the rule with anchovies, blood worms, or pile worms along the eastern side of the lake. However, the wind is blowing debris into the east bank at times, making for difficult shore fishing. There is a small window for topwater in the early, early mornings, and most fishermen are only out in the early mornings or the late evenings.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2
Bass Lake has been primarily ignored by bass fishermen since the flotilla of recreational water users took over the lake after the Memorial Day Weekend, but there is a very good bass bite for those willing to get on the lake early and also stay inside of the Buoy Line.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis was on the lake this week, and he said, “It was a very good bite as we caught and released 25 bass with around a 50/50 ratio between largemouth and smallmouth bass to 3 pounds. The largemouths were in the same size range as the spots, and the water clarity is very good at 10 to 12 feet. The key is to work isolated weed pockets at depths from 15 to 20 feet, and we found our action around the Buoy Line which is around 20 feet in depth around the lake. 5-inch Senkos on a very light 1/16th-ounce nail weight or as light as you can use to keep the bait on a slow fall. A wacky-rig or a NED Rig are also good techniques for the slow fall, and the bass are loading up on tiny bluegill fry in the eighth- to quarter-inch range. They are gorging themselves on the small fry. We picked up a few on a bluegill pattern chatterbait, but there was no action on either topwater or swimbaits. I threw an ABT Wagtail in bluegill, but We were working the docks in the mornings from the front to the back, but we weren’t getting bit so my partner turned around and threw out into open water, and he hooked up three casts in a row. The weeds are getting thicker, but the fish are holding in and around the weed pockets, and they are willing to eat. With the lake so full, you can work around the coves when the boat traffic comes out, and when it comes out, it is a big concern. After the whistle blows, water skiers, jet skiers, and wakeboards flood the lake, keeping bass fishermen inside of the Buoy Line. There are also a load of bluegill holding at depths from 10 to 12 feet.”
The lake rose slightly to 95%.
The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now. Lake webcams and conditions: basslakeca.com/index.php.
The Kaiser Pass lakes are now dropping with Edison receding from 85% to 81% and Florence from 83% to 67% while Mammoth Pool held at 95%. Mammoth Pool is a good option for both rainbow trout and crawdads.
For the latest Sierra National Forest road conditions: bit.ly/2rfH8BB
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 3 Trout 3
The annual Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project’s Sportsmen’s Dinner was another huge success, leading to a significant amount of funds raised for the project’s main missions – to plant trophy-sized rainbows into Shaver Lake and to expand programs for youth in their local schools.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters, charter member and past-president of the association, said, “I think the reason that we have been so successful is that we have no personal mission, it is for the trophy trout and the youth. I was able to present the annual awards in memory of the late Captain Jack Yandell, and the Captain Jack’s Award went to Dick and Bonnie Schultz of Schultz Farms in Riverdale, John Richers, CEO of the Sequoia Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and Keiht Thompson and family. All have been outstanding supporters of the mission and vision of the SLTTP and are very deserving of our highest recognition.” Monies from the fundraiser through the dinner proceeds as well as major live and silent auction items, are used to purchase trophy rainbow trout up to and in excess of 10 pounds for the coming spring along with ‘Trout in the Classroom,’ programs and opportunities for disabled youth.
As far as fishing is concerned, Nichols said, “Mixed multiple limits of kokanee and trout remain the rule, but the trophy trout remain elusive. The best action has been from the Point to the dam and Bikini Cove from 28 to 35 feet with pink, white or orange Dick’s Mountain Hoochies, pink or orange Apex, tipped with crayfish scented corn behind Dicks Mountain Dodgers in purple/silver or orange/silver on the downriggers or Trout Busters or Koke Busters tipped with corn behind weighted Dick’s Mountain Flashers at 120 feet back or about 24 feet deep on the side poles.”
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service is working the middle section of the lake with Radical Glow Tubes in pink, orange, or white behind a Rocky Mountain Tackle pink Splatter or Tsunami dodger at depths from 27 to 36 feet, and the rods with Dick’s Ball Trolls continue to outproduce those without in calm conditions. He said, “It is not a slam dunk right now, but if you work the fish that you find, you can put together up to 5 limits. It is not a time to leave fish to go find fish.”
The annual Kokanee Power Shaver Lake Team Derby is scheduled for Sept. 7 with information at kokaneepower.org.
Shaver rose from 93% to 95%.
At Huntington, most anglers are concentrating around the banks close to the Auxiliary Dam near the spillway with Power Eggs, trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The high water is contributing to more area open for trolling, and the best action is in the early mornings before the wind comes up in the afternoon with small spinners, blade/’crawler combinations or spoons for small kokanee and the chance at a brown. The lake dropped slightly to 98%.
Kelly Brewer of the Wishon Village RV Park and Store reported the trout bite at Courtright has improved considerably with limits taken by trollers pulling blade/’crawler combinations or spoons at depths from the surface to 15 feet. Jay and Delinda Irvine of Visalia scored two limits close to the big rock by the dam while trolling Paulina Peak orange/green spinners behind a Paulina Peak orange/gold dodger at 15 feet. The water level is fluctuating, but the lake remains high. Bank fishermen are scoring with trout dough bait, night crawlers, or salmon eggs along the dam.
At Wishon, the trout bite continues to be slow for both bank fishermen and trollers despite the relatively high water levels. There has been some success for trollers working near the inlet with Needlefish or blade/’crawler combinations at depths from the surface to 15 feet. Salmon eggs are working best from the shoreline near the dam. The lake level remains high, but it is fluctuating on a daily basis due to power generation needs in the Central Valley. The launch ramp remains on the concrete at the second turnout.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Halibut 2
Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete said, “We set a record for Marbled Murrelettes this week on our bird trip with 20 of the birds since there are only 8 mating pairs locally that have been identified. The salmon have been trickling in from the local locations of the entrance buoys with one or two per boat in the evenings. There is not a tremendous amount of bait in and outside of the harbor, but there is great sign up north by Pedro Point. Halibut fishermen are picking up a few along the beaches by drifting squid as there is some squid south near Davenport. Private boats are also picking up salmon from Egg Rock to Pedro Point, but the numbers are not enough to sell a party boat trip. The Queen of Hearts ended up with a few fish on Thursday, although the New Rayann came down from Sausalito on Wednesday for a fish per rod. However, they were searching on Thursday.” Baxter will be salmon fishing over the weekend, and he said, “The bait near Pedro Point will keep the fish in the area for a while once they arrive in this section of the coast.”
The salmon from Monterey Bay should be moving up the coastline within the next week, and this is a great sign for boats launching out of Half Moon Bay.
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat just finished up another round of the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program, and he said, “We tagged ling cod to 96 centimeters (around 37 inches) along with plenty of quality rockfish. They were south of the harbor in the closed zone near Pigeon Point to Ano Nuevo, and they tagged 667 rockfish one day with 432 on the final day. He said, “We are salmon fishing over the weekend, and everything is set up near Pedro Point with whales, brown water, and anchovies. Everything is in place by the main course. The area around Martin’s Beach is also holding some bait, and it is simple to switch over to rockfishing if the salmon aren’t willing to bite.”
The Huli Cat out of Half Moon Bay went rockcod fishing off of Pescadero in 50ft of water on Saturday for 10 limits of rockfish including a 6-pound cabezon. Monday’s rockfish trip was to the Deep Reef and off of Pescadero, and they fished shallow water along the coast for cabezon to 7 pounds as part of their limits before moving out to 220 feet of water at the Deep Reef.
Salmon 3 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 2
After scoring 21 salmon for 23 anglers on Friday, it was all about rockfishing over the weekend with 21 limits of rockfish and 21 lings on Saturday on the Check Mate, followed by 21 limits and 5 lings on Sunday. The Caroline also rockfished over the weekend with 24 limits on Sunday after posting near limits at 196 rockfish for 22 passengers on Saturday. Earlier in the week, the salmon were on the chomp, and the Caroline posted 14 limits of big salmon to over 25 pounds drifting bait as deep as 250 feet. They have an opening for a salmon trip next Sunday, Aug. 18.
San Francisco Bay
Salmon3 Halibut 3 Striper 2 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael posted 6 limits of ‘Mega Hawg’s’ mooching off of Duxbury by 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. He said, “They were all big fish, and we brought in 3 out of a quad hook up despite mayhem all over the boat. Sunday was a big tougher as we posted 9 big fish for 6 passengers, and it was an afternoon bite as we only had a single salmon by 1:00 p.m. The next eight came within the next two hours before heading back to the harbor. Friday was similar as all of our salmon came after 2:00 p.m. as we stuck it out and were rewarded with an excellent score of big fish. The bite was back on Monday with limits of big salmon on the drift.”
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Berkeley went way north for salmon on Sunday, and of course, Clara Ricabal of Jackson Fishing Kayaks struck first with a 20-pound salmon that gave her a tussle before coming to the net. They ended up with a fish per rod, and the Yakima Fish Flash in the Angler West Signature Series was the top producer, including the big fish landed by Clara.
The majority of action is outside of the Golden Gate, and the California Dawn went out along the coast for 30 limits of rockfish, 46 lings, and four halibut in flat calm conditions on Saturday before following this up with 20 limits of rockfish including a cabezon along with 11 lings before returning to the bay for 28 halibut to 22 pounds.
On Monday, Captain James Smith of the California Dawn posted 2 halibut per rod for a private charter including a massive 50-inch/50-pound California halibut.
The Berkeley boats went far up the coast for salmon on Sunday, and the El Dorado posted 19 limits to 25 pounds, the New El Dorado III had 32 salmon to 23 pounds for 25 anglers, and the New Easy Rider posted 21 salmon to 22 pounds for 25 anglers.
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish 3 Surf perch 2
Out of San Luis Obispo County, the Endeavor, Avenger, and Starfire out of Morro Bay Landing posted a tremendous score on Sunday with a combined count of 5 rockfish shy of 84 limits along with 29 ling cod to 21 pounds with 26 of the lings taken on the Endeavor’s 12-hour trip to Cape San Martin. Their totals were 495 vermilion, 55 copper, 50 Boccaccio, 225 assorted rockfish, 5 Bolina, and 5 ocean whitefish. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Fiesta was out on Monday on a 3/4-day trip with 29 passengers for 2/3rd limits of rockfish composed of 20 vermilion, 160 assorted rockfish, 2 petrale sole, 2 small, legal ling cod, and a 7.5-pound jackpot sheephead. Out of Port San Luis, the Patriot, Phenix, and Flying Fish took ½-day trips on Sunday, and they combined for 112 vermilion, 26 copper, 2 Boccaccio, 31 Bolina, an ocean whitefish, and 378 assorted rockfish along with 12 lings to 9 pounds for 69 fishermen. Saul Pulido of Selma took one jackpot with a 9-pound ling. All ports are running a variety of trips in the coming weeks for rockfish/ling cod including overnight trips.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 2
Although there hasn’t been a salmon landed from the banks along the Benicia shoreline or from a boat in the Old Sacramento River, there is some optimism further up in the system with the Freeport area bite picking up. Striped bass are starting to make their move into the Delta, and the best is yet to come within the next two months for both striped bass and salmon. Most river guides will start to get active in the area around mid-August through the month of November.
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Salmon have been showing up more and more, and those spooning or trolling have been scoring some big fish from 20 to 30 pounds. Jerry Glasco landed a 25-pound salmon on Sunday morning on a Brad’s Cut Plug behind a big dodger, and trollers are either using the cut plugs or Silvertron spinners. Spooning is also working with Slammer Minnows while a few salmon have been taken from the shoreline with Mepp’s Flying C’s. Striped bass are there for the taking and soaking blood worms, pile worms, or sardines coated with garlic spray are working in the main river channel while live minnows are effective in Liberty Island as the linesides have moved in to the submerged island. There are some big stripers to 30 pounds in Liberty, but there are also a number of undersized fish. Smallmouth bass are found along the rockpiles with plastics on the drop-shot, deep-diving crankbaits, or live minnows while bluegill are thick in all of the back slough with red worms or jumbo red worms.
Sylvia Vieira of Vieira’s Riverside Bait near Isleton reported few fishermen have been out of the marina, and they are still waiting for the first salmon taken out of the Old Sacramento River. She said, “The water is hot on top, but it has to be cooler down deeper. September and October will be our busiest time, and we still have a few spots available for camping.”
Out of Benicia, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “There hasn’t been a salmon taken from the shorelines yet, but there have been striped bass taken from the shorelines with blood worms or pile worms. There are still guys out there trying for salmon every day from 1st Street or at the Dillon Point State Park with Vee-Zee spinners, but the salmon are still yet to make an appearance. Bait has been most effective for stripers, and we have a supply of bullheads in the shop along with grass shrimp.”
Striped bass is picking up, and Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was out along the West Bank below Rio Vista this week, and he said, “I fishing with Dave Houston of Livermore, and we trolled two days for similar results with around 10 keeper per day, and Mark Wilson also caught and released another 10 keepers. It was very interesting as one day, the bass were loaded with small pike minnows and full of crawdads, and on the next day, it was a different school as their stomachs were empty. We haven’t been able to find any large fish lately, and the wind and heat have made for short trips. On the Sacramento side, you have to wait until the outgo is over as there is heavy grass on the outgoing tide, but in Broad Slough, there is no grass on the outgo. We picked them up with Rat-L-Traps or P-Line’s Angry Eye Predator Minnows on the shallow troll. The largest challenge to trolling has been the floating debris on the surface that is broken off by the high winds.”
In the north Delta, Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, confirmed the need to be close to current in open water, saying, “It has been a pretty decent bass bite with chatterbaits or Senkos, and once you find them, you can catch a few bass on consecutive casts. The bass are oriented to current in the main channel as the water is cooler while moving, and there are less weeds in the open water.”
Many largemouth bass are coming up with large brown spots and patches on their sides, perhaps due to the heavy herbicide spraying and pelleting that has occurring throughout the Delta. These brown patches are concerning many regular Delta bass anglers as they have not observed these prior to the heavy spraying occurring over the past two years.
On Aug. 7, the Fish and Game Commission deferred their vote to revise the regulations for striped bass until their next meeting in Northern California on Dec. 11. It is important for all fishermen interested in the preservation of the current regulations to attend this meeting in Sacramento.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 3 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Lopez has been kicking out quality largemouth bass, and the night action during Saturday’s 101 Bass Tournament was excellent with some heavy weights brought to the scale. Creature baits or jigs near grass are working along with frogs close to grass mats in the early mornings or during the heat of the day with the bass holding under the shaded areas. Bluegill and red ear perch are found on red worms, meal worms, or wax worms to 30 feet while crappie are located near structure with minijigs.
At Santa Margarita, there is a topwater bite in the early mornings with frogs or walking baits, followed by working the bottom near grass with plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig along with jigs. Catfish are taken on cutbaits while bluegill and perch are hitting red worms or jumbo red worms.
At Nacimiento, boat traffic remains very heavy as summer vacation is still in full swing with southern California schools yet to open, but there is some action in the early, early mornings with small topwater lures as the spotted bass are chasing shad. A slow-fall presentation with plastics on the shakey head, NED Rig, or drop-shot are working as deep as 25 feet. White bass are active at times in the coves and cuts, chasing shad, and small white spoons or spinners are picking them up. Catfish can be taken on cutbaits close to boulders adjacent to flats or grassy areas. Crappie are found near structure with minijigs or Gulp! Minnows. The lake dropped from 61% to 59% this week.
At San Antonio, bass fishing has improved for a small grade of largemouth and smallmouth bass with crankbaits or spinnerbaits in the early morning hours. By mid-morning, plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig are best on a slow presentation. Catifsh to 5 pounds are found with cut baits near sloping, muddy banks, and small bluegill are taken on red worms near the shorelines. The lake dropped to 39%.
Bass 101 Night Tournament: Aug. 10-11 at Pine Flat – 1, Eddie Hinojosa/Bill Kunz, 20.40 pounds; 2, Cory Kerber/Justin Brou, 17.06; 3, Tim Turner, 16.68.
Moonlight Classic Night Tournament: Aug. 10-11 at Lake Amador (10-fish limits) – 1, Nick Welton/Bobby Yabumoto, 35.40 (Big Fish 9.15); 2, Derek Dalton/Tom Dodd, 24.40; 3, Kevin and Willie Linbomfelt, 23.85.
101 Bass: Aug. 10 at Lopez – 1, Joey Reggio/Bud Aquino, 26.67; 2, Todd Reccord/Mike Maddux, 21.54; 3, Damon Meeks/Jay Short, 16.88 (Big Fish 6.35).
Aug. 16-17: Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
Aug. 16: Lopez – 101 Bass
Aug. 17-18: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, Don Pedro – Modesto Ambassadors
Aug. 17: Pine Flat – Fresno Bass Club, Success – Porterville Bass Club, Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
Aug. 24: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Best Bass Tournaments, Hensley -Sierra Bass Club
Aug. 25: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Nor Cal High School Bass Tournaments
Aug. 31: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Santa Margarita – 805 Kayak Fishing
Week of Aug. 18 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam
Week of Aug. 25 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: San Joaquin River south fork, Ward Lake, Portal Forebay, Mono Creek, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam
Kern County: Kern River section 4
Madera County: Starkweather Lake, San Joaquin River middle fork
Tulare County: Kern River section 6
Tuolumne County: Stanislaus River middle and south forks, Stanislaus River Clarks Fork, Tuolumne River middle and south forks, Pinecrest Lake, Lyons Reservoir, Lyons Canal (Columbia Ditch)
f = full moon> = peak activity