Lake Don Pedro
King salmon and holdover rainbows are the top species with the kokanee action slowing. Salmon can be found at depths below 100 feet in the deeper parts of the lake with rolled anchovies or shad on a harness along with Uncle Larry’s spinners. The bass bite has slowed in the hot weather, and the best action has been in deeper water to 40 feet with plastics on the drop-shot. Robo Worm’s Aaron’s Magic or Pro Worms Purple Death 124p are good options. All three launch ramps are open with the lake dropping 3 feet to 779.93 feet in elevation and 72 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 keeps releasing water, and it has dropped 6 feet to 775.15 feet in elevation and 50 percent of capacity. Heavy recreational boating traffic during the daytime along with hot, hot, hot temperatures have limited the number of anglers. There is a topwater bite in the early mornings before dropping to the bottom with Berserk Baits Purple Hornet or Sprayed Grass jigs by 9 a.m. Catfishing is best along muddy, sloping banks with anchovies, sardines or mackerel. The McClure Point and Barrett Cove South launch ramps are open with the Barrett Cove North ramp under construction. Call: A-1 Bait, 209-563-6505.
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The campgrounds are full, but fishing remains very slow with the hot weather and no trout plants since May. Call: McSwain Marina, 209-378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Although bass fishing has been fair overall with the dropping water, there are still huge largemouth bass to be had with Josh Parris of San Andreas catching and releasing a 13.01-pound largemouth on a crankbait. John Liechty of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “The bass bite is fair at best with most of the fish pulling off of the shoreline and holding on deepwater structure. The topwater bite is slow, but if the fish are not feeding aggressively on the surface, working the bottom with a Texas or Carolina rig with a crawdad-patterned soft plastics is the best technique for working through the brush and rock. The fish are also targeting shad, and a shad-patterned plastic worm on the drop-shot will produce numbers of bass.” Glory Hole continues to advise catch and release of the largemouth and larger spotted bass to keep the lake’s population healthy. Kokanee fishing remains good with some of the largest kokanee in the state coming over the rails with an average of more than 16 inches and up to 18 inches and in excess of 2 pounds. The current lake record is 2.8 pounds landed by Ray Koch of Escalon in 2007. Liechty said, “This record is in danger of being broken this year, as the fish continue to grow. The schools are forming in 65 to 85 feet of water near the dam, spillway and near Rose Island; and when the fish are in deep water, it is best to use a larger dodger on a short leader with full-size bladed hoochies, wiggle hoochies or Apex lures in pinks, blue or purple.” Gary Burns of Take it to the Limit Guide Service added, “The kokanee fishing slowed just a bit this week with the full moon, but we still managed to put fat kokes in the boat. With the warmer weather, we have been slow-trolling at 1.5 mph at depths from 84 to 92 feet. The kokes are getting bigger, and we are starting to see some nice hooked jaws and loss of scales.” Trout fishing is fair at best, and the bite has been slow during the heat of the day before becoming much better in the cooler temperatures of the evenings. The shad schools are found in the deepest portions of the lake in the main river channel at depths from 60 to 80 feet, and trollers are working shad-patterned lipless crankbaits or spoons. Night fishing under lights with live minnows, trout dough bait or nightcrawlers has been the top technique for rainbows with the triple-digit daytime temperatures. Judy Rodgers and Sherry Zacharia were trolling in the main lake with Apex lures for rainbow trout to 3 pounds, 11 ounces. The catfish bite remains excellent with frozen shad, anchovies or mackerel from the shorelines with several whiskerfish landed in the 6- to 10-pound range. The best action has been occurring in the early mornings, evenings and during the night. Crappie action has also improved with live minnows under a slip-float, particularly at night. The lake is releasing water on a daily basis, and the lake dropped 2 feet to 874.16 feet in elevation and 24 percent of capacity. Glory Hole remains the only launch available on the lake with two lanes and a courtesy dock. 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 first salmon of the year have been landed off Dillon Point State Park with Pam Hayes of Benicia Bait reporting a 16-pounder was taken on a blue Flying C along with another fish that was not brought into the shop. She said, “There are some sturgeon reports starting to come in, and stripers are also picking up, but most linesides are undersized.” Bait is a concern with the heat on the east coast as pile worms and blood worm shipments have been limited. The count rose to six salmon by the weekend, and Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait added, “There have been some quality stripers landed on salmon gear from at both 1st Street and the State Park. The big news is that we finally have grass shrimp in the shop.” Sturgeon fishing has been decent off the Crockett shoreline at the Eckley Pier with salmon roe or lamprey eel. In the upper Delta in Freeport, Uncle Larry Barnes of Sacramento Pro Tackle said, “There have been some salmon taken at the Minnow Hole along with jigs south of Freeport.” The bank access in Clarksburg appears to have been closed due to excessive trash left on the shores by fishermen. Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait in Freeport reported a few salmon continue to be taken on a daily basis from the shoreline with Flying C’s or jigging with P-Line Laser Minnows, or trolling with Silvertron spinners. Mark Wilson, striper trolling expert, has been alternating between smallmouth trips in the upper Delta and striper fishing around Decker Island, and he reported high numbers of smallmouth along the rocks in Steamboat, Miner and Sutter sloughs along with the Old Sacramento River with Robo Worms on the drop-shot. He said, “We have been catching and releasing between 80 and 100 smallmouth and going through the worms in short order. Most of the fish are undersized, but we have been close to limits, from 12 to a whopping 18 inches on all trips.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported, “Smallmouth and largemouth bass are great targets for Delta fishing. Reports of some big stripers in the high teens and low 20-pound range have been taken in the West Delta.” Stripers are trickling into the Delta, and Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, braved the heat Wednesday for five stripers to 5 pounds with three fish in the 20-inch range taken on the West Bank with shallow-trolling Rat-L-Traps in silver/blue. Mark Wilson was trolling on the same day along the West Bank and the Old Dairy, and he said, “The stripers are starting to show with a fish here and there, and we ended up with nine keepers with two at 7 pounds.” Stripers appear to be on the move. Tran also touted the striper action with the cooler water in the Sacramento River, stating, “The stripers appear to be sticking around the area now, and fishermen are scoring with live mudsuckers or frozen sardines coated with scent. There are lots of shakers around, but legal limits are possible.” He added that catfish can be taken on the Sacramento Deep Water Channel, the Port of Sacramento or in Lisbon Slough with chicken livers or nightcrawlers. The wind played havoc on the frog bite during the Ultimate Frog Challenge out of Russo’s Marina, the first of two big tournaments featuring topwater frogs for huge largemouth bass. There were 162 teams in the pro and amateur divisions, and although there were some quality largemouths taken, the overall bite was slow with the winds cooling down the recently hot temperatures. The team of Harvey Pulliam and Jamond Andrews won the event after posting a 19.35-pound limit, including Andrew’s 11.03 kicker on day one, which carried them over to victory on the second day. However, 51 boats did not weigh in a fish on the first day due to the more challenging conditions. Before the cool-down over the weekend, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “With this heat, the bass are jumping in the boat looking for ice to cool down. The bite is phenomenal, and if you throw it, they will eat it. I am working on two particular baits right now that were featured at the recent ICAST show – a new ima Popper and a suspending Rattlin’ Bait. Both baits will be lights out for the Delta, and I am experimenting on the optimum line, rod and reel for these baits right now. The Snag Proof Open is just over a week away at Russo’s Marina, and it looks to be a good event. The BassFest is coming in September, also at Russo’s.” Sturgeon are also starting to make their move with more than one diamondback taken off the Riverview Pier in Antioch with lamprey eel. Tom Sanders of Brentwood landed a 48-inch sturgeon Saturday night. Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton reported shaker stripers are the rule in the Stockton area, but a few larger bass in the 4- to 7-pound range have been taken on anchovies or fresh/frozen shad from the Antioch Fishing Pier. Call: Randy Pringle, 209-543-6260; Intimidator Sport Fishing, 916-806-3030; Captain Steve Mitchell – Hook’d Up Sport Fishing, 707-655-6736.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Numbers of striped bass continue to come out of the O’Neill Forebay, but shoreline fishermen in the know are scoring huge striped bass in excess of 20 pounds using freshwater grass shrimp off Dinosaur Point. The main San Luis Reservoir has already dropped to 10 percent of capacity this early in the summer, and a long walk or drive is necessary to reach the shoreline. With the lake receding every week, those driving a vehicle to the shoreline have to be careful to keep from getting stuck in the mud. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun added, “I have seen photos of 40-inch striped bass taken in the big lake on Storm swimbaits.” Andrew Yeh of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill confirmed the great action with the freshwater shrimp. Since the bait shops are struggling for supplies of pile and blood worms due to the heat wave on the East Coast, along with the shortage of live extra-large or jumbo minnows, anglers have been limited to frozen anchovies or sardines. The non-compliant 2-stroke engine ban has also started, so having an energy star sticker on your 2-stroke engine will be key to launching. Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said, “Launching off Basalt is OK, but you have to be careful in a northwest wind because it can put waves over the back of your boat at the dock. I scouted the big lake and got/released four fish to 23 inches before the wind came up, closing the lake.” In the O’Neill Forebay, numbers of striped bass to 24 inches can be taken with Speedlures, Duo Realis jerkbaits or Lucky Craft Pointers, but a number of linesides are undersized. Yeh added, “Some fishermen are dragging bucktails, and most are downsizing their ripbaits and swimbaits with the best action from a boat since the lake’s edge is starting to load up with moss.” Meng Xyong of the Fishaholics reported, “I launched an hour after the ramp opened and was surprised by a massive boil 100 yards from the ramp. My son and I landed fish after fish for half an hour. We began trolling the deep water flats and water channels later. The brighter-colored lures were key.” Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, 408-463-0711; Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 559-905-2954.
Half Moon Bay
Rockfishing is the name of the game out of Pillar Point. The Huli Cat is being repowered, and it will be back in service by mid-August. In the meantime, the New Captain Pete is be the top option for rockfish trips. Striped bass are still a solid option along the beaches from Ocean Beach to Linda Mar in Pacifica, and SP Minnows have been the top lure in a variety of color patterns. Call: Happy Hooker, 510-223-5388; Captain Roger Thomas, Salty Lady, 415-760-9362; Emeryville Sport Fishing, 510-654-6040.
Chris Arcoleo at Chris’ Sport Fishing in Monterey reported the Check Mate went south to Point Sur with fresh squid, and they loaded up with limits of big, quality rockfish, including several vermilions and coppers. The lings were a bit shy, and they ended up with 25 lings for 23 anglers. The Check Mate stayed local with 18 anglers for 32 ling cod and three-quarter limits of rockfish. They have an open load Thursday of this week. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing said, “Capitola has been churning out halibut all week. The best approach seems to be jigging up live mackerel or jack smelt for bait. Both are working right now for big halibut. Using live squid works even better if you can find them. Santa Cruz Harbor resident George Isometsa fishes from his Zodiac skiff and did a long drift Monday from the Mile Buoy toward Steamer Lane. He was in 90 feet of water when his squid was snarfed by a big white sea bass. Isometsa estimates the weight at “around 30 pounds.” Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reported a good number of halibut caught in 60-80 feet of water in Capitola, by the Mile Buoy and near Natural Bridges. Fraser also reports the beaches from New Brighton to Pajaro continue to provide good striper action for the surfcasters.” Call: Chris’ Landing, 831-375-5951; Bayside Marine, 831-475-2173.
San Francisco Bay
The salmon bite was back Monday after a few days of slower action. The school has moved south, and Captain Jerad Davis on the Salty Lady out of Sausalito went off of Pacifica on Monday for 10 limits ranging from 12 to 25 pounds. These are a different school than the grade to 12 pounds that have been holding around the main shipping channels. The salmon schools that have emerged off Bodega Bay will be sliding down the coast and staging off the Golden Gate in the days and weeks ahead. There have been some huge ling cod landed recently, and Captain Bob Wright of the Happy Hooker went to the Farallon Islands on Sunday with 29 anglers for limits of quality school fish, including big olives along with 19 lings to 27 pounds. Captain Trent Slate of Shelter Cove Sport Fishing out of Loch Lomond Marina went outside the Gate for halibut on Friday and Saturday, but they found tough action Friday off Seal Rocks with only a few small legal halibut. He said, “There was enough there to keep us interested, but we went up the coast on Saturday for six big halibut ranging from 12 to 18 pounds working the small coves. We also landed a bonus 20-pound salmon at the end of the day.” Inside the bay, small striped bass remain the rule, and most party boats headed outside the Gate for rockfish over the weekend due to the minus tides in the bay. The tides appear to be much more favorable by the end of the week for halibut and striped bass.