Lake Don Pedro
Trout and bass action has improved considerably at Don Pedro, returning a number of boaters and bank anglers to the lake. The lake is rising slowly but steadily, and the bass are moving closer to the banks. Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “The bass have come up shallow, and Huddleston swimbaits are flying off of the shelves in response to the great action. We have posted a number of pictures of big fish in the past few weeks, and the sales of swimbaits speak for itself due to the number of big fish caught and released.” The Huddleston ROF 12 in light trout is working best in deeper water while the 68 Special or Huddleston ROF 5 is best in the shallows. A slow presentation on the bottom similar to a jig has been the most effective. Numbers of bass have been best on small 4- to 4.5-inch shad-patterned plastics on the drop-shot with the Pro Worm’s Pro Gold, Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad, or Reaction Innovation’s Bad Shad Green all working. Harold Hass of the Fresno Bass Club said, “Despite the rain on Sunday, fishing was pretty good with every contestant weighing in fish with the majority scoring limits. A surprising number of smallmouth bass were caught, and the spawners should be showing up soon in the 60-degree water in the coves. The males are shallow, and the spawners should be showing up soon. Most bass were landed on either jigs or plastics on a Texas rig.” Trout trolling continued to pick up with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing finding good action on Saturday’s trip with two families from the Bay Area on the boat. Juggling six rods, Smith was able to put his clients onto 12 rainbows running Uncle Larry’s spinner tipped with a nightcrawler, blade/crawler combinations, or dodger/grub combinations on a slow presentation. He said, “We got a late start, and it was nearly 9 a.m. when we reached the Flume Area to start trolling, but in addition to the 12 rainbows landed, we missed a few fish along with a few other hits with no stick.” All of the action took place from the surface to 12 feet in depth. The launch ramp at Fleming Meadows is still one lane with a courtesy dock, and a few more inches of inflow are necessary to open the other lanes. The Blue Oaks Launch Ramp remained closed. The lake rose to 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.
The lake has risen steadily the past two weeks, but the launch ramps remained closed. 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. Few fishermen are heading to the lake, which rose 3.5 feet to 604.48 feet in elevation and 8 percent of capacity.
For the second consecutive week, a 500-pound plant from the Calaveras Trout Farm was dumped into the lake. Trout action was excellent during the previous week, but the fog extending up the mountain as high as Mariposa limited fishing interest during the past week. The lake is clearing after heavy water releases in the previous weeks. The best fishing is coming from the banks around the Handicapped Docks, Brush Pile or the Marina with Kastmasters, bright Roostertails, garlic trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. Trolling continued to be slow. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass are moving into the shallows with the best action found between 20 and 25 feet with brass n’ glass, drop-shot plastics, Senkos or jigs. The best action remained on the bottom, but a few fish are hitting ripbaits. Limits in the 7.5- to 8-pound range are possible. A few bass anglers have had large striped bass grab hooked spotted bass on the way to the boat. Millerton is rising slowly and is currently at 491.81 feet in elevation and 37 percent of capacity with a rise of 1.5 feet this week. In the lower San Joaquin, minimal fishing action is taking place due to the lack of trout plants. 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. The hatchery fish have a healed adipose fin clip. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
The assault on big largemouth bass continued at New Melones with trophy fish the order of the day during the first Glory Hole Sports Bass Tournament on Saturday. John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “The tournament featured 21 teams weighing in their largest spotted and largemouth bass. The top limit was 13.89 pounds by Jace Degough and Eli Frey with a big spot at 6.65 and largemouth at 9.23 pounds, and the largest spot of the tournament was 6.65 pounds landed by Jody Menzes. Swimbaits are producing the larger fish, and anglers are willing to toss the big baits all day for the opportunity for a trophy, but numbers are easy with average fishermen able to score with Carolina-rigged plastics, Senkos or shad-patterned plastics on the shakey-head or darthead.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor and owner of Best Bass Tournaments, is looking for a world-record largemouth or spotted bass during their next tournament at the lake March 14, and Lietchy added, “This is entirely possible, as we have a few largemouth bass over 16 pounds every year with at least one over 17 pounds.” The lake is starting to clear after the intense rain of a few weeks ago, and the water is clearing on a daily basis. Trout fishing has been solid with trollers scoring with brighter-colored plugs such as firetiger-jointed Rapalas, but nightcrawlers behind a Ford Fender flasher are also effective. The best trolling continued around the dam or near the Highway 49 Bridge at depths from the surface to 20 feet. Bank fishing has been best near Glory Hole Point or behind the Marina with limits common on nightcrawlers or garlic-scented trout dough bait. 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. The lake rose less than one foot to 878.86 feet in elevation and 25 percent of capacity. 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
San Luis Reservoir continued to rise quickly and is more than 62 percent and increasing steadily. Stripers are holding in specific areas in the lake, from 60 to 80 feet. Patrick Movey of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The action has been hit or miss, and some fishermen are doing well, but they are using their electronics to locate the schools.” Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service out of Fresno used electronics to catch and release 25 stripers to 13 pounds trolling large plugs while fun fishing with Jim Bartko, the new athletic director at Fresno State University. Bartko caught and released a fat 31-inch, 13-pound striper, a new personal record. The majority of their stripers were in the 19- to 23-inch range with the exception of the large striper. “In most cases, you need to be a good technician to find and catch the scattered fish now, especially since many are suspended. It hasn’t been easy. We worked for every fish,” George said. Fly fishing has also been solid with Pete Ottesen, noted outdoors writer out of Stockton, reporting catching and releasing nine stripers at the mouth of Pacheco Creek using Clowser Minnows. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, (408) 463-0711; Roger George, rogergeorgeguideservice.com, (559) 905-2954.
San Francisco Bay
Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker was on the bay Saturday, and they put in nine bass on live anchovies in addition to a shaker sturgeon released. He was going to troll for bass Sunday, but the high winds muddied the bay. He said, “There are lots of bass in San Pablo Bay right now.”
The north wind played havoc on the Delta on Sunday with gusts more than 20 mph. The warm water temperature in the 60-degree range has spurred on the sturgeon bite, and nearly every day, party and private boaters are scoring legal fish. Steve Mitchell of Hook’D Up Sport Fishing concluded two days of outstanding action Sunday with two keepers to 55 inches on salmon roe in the Big Cut. In the north Delta, J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has been working the Rio Vista area, and he took a rare trolling trip over the weekend with solid results in the 60-degree water. He said, “The river is still a bit stained, but with the warm water, the stripers are scrappy and full of fight.” Deep-diving lures in basic shad patterns such as white/chartreuse stripe or white/green back were working, particularly in the cleaner water on the incoming tide. He added, “With the warm water, the run is going to be very early this year, and if you wait until April to seek stripers, you may be too late.” Scott Feisty of Feisty Fish Guide Service is also trolling in the upper Delta and, combined with deckhand Scotty Marran, they posted consecutive days of limits to 9 pounds in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel with deep-diving P-Line Predator Minnows in rainbow-trout pattern. Call: Randy Pringle, (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures, (925) 570-5303; Intimidator Sport Fishing, (916) 806-3030.