Scenes along local rivers
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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Delta bass fishing good, Randy Pringle said. Aqueduct stripers drawing anglers’ attention, Pete Cormier reported. Eastman bass bite for bigger fish decent, Dave Hurley said. McClure bass numbers up, Ryan Cook reported. McSwain plants spur on trout bite, Steve Marquette said. Millerton spotted bass bite steady, and Bass Lake trout and bass hitting, Steve Newman reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
The northern section of the aqueduct continues to receive more play with Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun reporting many striped bass fishermen are stopping off at the aqueduct on their way north to San Luis Reservoir. Duo Realis jerkbaits, Lucky Craft Pointers, or flukes for stripers in the moving water. Finding schools of bait is the key to finding success. In the southern section of the California Aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The aqueduct is still happening for stripers with either large or jumbo minnows, sardines, pile worms, anchovies, Lucky Craft LV 500s, or flukes, and it hasn’t been this good out there for a long time. The water is either moving or slow depending upon the time of day.”
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The River Rats held a tournament on New Year’s Day and the bite for larger fish was off despite some teams throwing big baits all day long. Jigs with a sizable trailer are the best option, but the key is to keep the bait in the strike zone as the fish are reluctant to eat. Island tops or the saddles between islands are the top locations, and the river arm should pick up this week due to new food sources washing down from the rain. There is a crankbait or lipless crankbait bite over submerged islands in 15 to 20 feet of water, and the Strike King XD5 or XD6 are the best lures around the rockpiles near the dam. The bass are feeding on either crawdads or bluegill, and the deep-diving crankbait in blue-backed herring in a slow presentation is a good option. The lake held at 41 percent despite the recent rainfall.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
The decent jig and plastic worm bite that took off three weeks ago has dried up, leaving most anglers to head to Eastman. A slow presentation is the best way to go with either sculpin or crawdad patterns, and you have to keep your bait in contact with the bottom. The lake held at 17 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
The quality of bass continues to improve at Don Pedro despite the colder water conditions, but this week’s storms along with warmer night temperatures should continue to bring about a solid bite. Trout trollers are finding limits, but a slower presentation is necessary in the colder water.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook Fishing said, “The bass bite has kind of been up and down, but the jig bite is improving for quality fish. The bass are congregating in the creek channels around 30 and 40 feet in depth along with main lake points from 50 to 80 feet. I was on the lake four days this past week, and numbers are found on plastics while there have been a few good fish taken on glide baits and spinnerbaits. The umbrella rig bite has also improved this week at depths from 5 to 40 feet. With the cold water, the action in the morning is slow, but it improves after 11:00 a.m. I think the storms along with warmer nights will create more opportunities for active fish. We are also catching a few trout each trip on bass gear as the lake is loaded with trout.”
For rainbow trout, Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “A slower presentation is important in the colder water, and I would first switch to my smaller spoons that run around 2.25 mph instead of the medium-sized spoons that run from 2.7 to 3 mph. If these aren’t effective, I would use either Apex, ExCels, or Needlefish to get the speed down as these aren’t heavy lures so you can run around 1.5 mph. I do not like to use nightcrawlers since the trout swallow the ‘crawler so deep that it makes releasing the fish difficult. With the trout hugging the shorelines and coves, experience of the best locations is important since you will not mark the trout on your electronics in the shallows.”The lake held at 70 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Fishing interest in Lake Isabella has been quiet as reconstruction of the main dam is anticipated to begin this spring. The lake held at 12 percent.
In the upper Kern River, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported anglers are picking up a “fish here or there” with live crickets, salmon eggs, Roostertails, Panther Martins, or nightcrawlers in the deeper holes in the lowered pool of water. The local small impoundments are kicking out either bass or catfish with the bass hitting on either Senkos or plastic worms. A 500-pound plant is scheduled at Lake Ming sometime in the coming months, but the initial plant of 500 pounds was caught quickly within a few days.
The upper river is scheduled for continued trout plants.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The Cen Cal Elite Bass Club held a tournament at the lake on New Year’s Day, and Larry Kerns of the club reported an overall tough bite with his best action on the bottom in 62 feet of water with an ice jig. The winning limit was nearly 14 pounds, but only a few teams were able to find quality limits while many others struggled. Kerns said, “The weekend before the tournament, we put in 13 pounds, but the bite was soft on New Year’s Day with only two real bites throughout the day. The shad are very deep and holding on the bottom, but there is shad all over the lake.” There are several tournaments scheduled for the lake early in 2019.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Few reports from Success with the bass action remaining relatively slow with the fish holding in deep water around the shad schools. A slow presentation with plastics on the drop-shot or split-shot along with Senkos on a wacky-rig are working best. The lake rose slightly to 13 percent. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company out of Springville is giving fly casting lessons at the Pierpoint Café on the second Sunday of the month at 10 a.m. The lessons are free and all equipment is provided.
Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Two bass tournaments were held on the lake this past Saturday, and the best fish were taken on reaction baits. However, the big fish were few and far between. Ryan Cook said, “Catching fish is no problem as we caught and released 40 mixed largemouth and spotted bass on a guide trip this week, but the size is a concern. There is no real pattern as the fish are scattered from 5- to 40-feet, and we have been working tubes or jigs around main lake points by pitching near the banks in 5 to 10 feet of water and working the bait back to the boat in 30 feet. Bass over 2 pounds are getting harder and harder to find.” A trout plant took place this past week, and this was the first trout plant in the past few years.
The lake held at 55 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Recreation Company said, “A trout plant of 500 pounds from the Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling took place on January 3, and bank fishing has improved as a result with rainbow trout dough bait or nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations from the normal locations of the new cabins, the Brush Pile, and the Handicapped Docks. Trolling continues to be best from the Second Fence Line with blue/silver Kastmasters or similar shad-patterned spoons.”
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Jigs are very effective along with 4- to 6-inch Zoom Trick Worms or Senkos once you find the fish. The crawdads are orange/red with a green pumpkin cape right now, and the bass are feeding heavily on crawdads. Twin-tailed Hula Grubs are another good option right now as the fish are holding around 10 to 15 feet in depth. A good technique is to stage in 35 feet of water and work back to the boat after casting towards the banks. Winchell’s Cove on the Madera side has been more productive than on the Fresno side of the lake right now.” The lake rose slightly to 58 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
New Melones remains warmer than normal with surface temperatures ranging from 52 to 55 degrees, but the shad schools are plastered to the bottom as deep as 80 feet. The time for big bass is coming, and anglers are gearing up with big baits for the opportunity at a trophy ‘fish of a lifetime.”
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “I have several clients who want to learn to throw big baits so we have spent part of our days targeting the huge bass with either glide baits or swimbaits such as Huddlestons. It is a slow game, and I tell my clients that we will have only a few chances, if any, but we have had some good bites and a few followers, but the hook-up ratio is always small. However, the chance of hooking a fish of a lifetime exists with the big baits. On windy or overcast days when the fish are more active, I will throw glide baits, but if the skies are blue, ticking the bottom with a swimbait such as a Huddleston is your best option. In order to keep my clients interested, we break up the day by switching techniques that will produce numbers, and we caught and released at least 30 bass on Friday despite spending a good part of the day working the big baits. The shad schools are stuck on the bottom from 50 to 80 feet, and we aren’t seeing any schools of shad in open water. The bass are feeding on both crawdads and shad, and we are scoring numbers with jigs along with plastics on a shakey head or drop-shot. I will ask my clients what they feel they are good at, and then I will introduce them to another technique since all of the finesse presentations are working right now. Depending on the structure type and location, we are switching between either crawdad or shad patterns. We haven’t hooked any trout recently, and there have only been a few rainbows seen on the surface in the shallows.”
New Melones hasn’t experienced any trout plants over the past few years other than the Kokanee Power net pens, and the numbers of smaller trout are clearly limited.
The lake rose slightly to 75 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, ““The bass bite is decent, but the action for big fish up the river has dried up after great fishing a few weeks back by experienced anglers using jigs. Some are trying to ‘power fish’ the lake with big baits, but the big bait bite just hasn’t been there. Most anglers are concentrating in the river arm from Trimmer to Windy Gap, and the jig bite is best along with and emerging crankbait bite in 15 to 20 feet for spots up to 3 pounds. The water is a bit cooler upriver at 53/54 degrees as it is in the 56/57-degree range in the main lake. Slow and low is the way to fish right now by dragging a jig or plastics on a shakey head or Neko rig. You might have to go up in weight slightly to stay in contact with the bottom, but the key is to shake the bait and keep it in the same place as the bass aren’t chasing right now.”
A few trout trollers have been congregating around Trimmer with Needlefish or blade/’crawler combinations near the surface.
The lake rose slightly to 32 percent. In the lower Kings, weekly trout plants continue to account for a consistent bite with nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, or trout dough bait near flowing water close to boulders or rocks for rainbows to 16 inches.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
High winds closed the lake down early on Saturday morning and after a few hours on Sunday morning, but the lake continues to draw anglers on both boat and from the banks.
Travis Porter and K.C. Wilson of Hollister were able to launch on Sunday morning before the wind came up in force, and they landed a number of striped bass to 25 inches running JKings Lures in the coves.
Steve Newman at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “A number of fishermen are working the shoreline around Dinosaur Point with ripbaits, and we have already sold out of four colors of the new Lucky Craft 168 due to interest. The Lucky Craft Pointer 128 along with the 120 Duo Realis jerkbait in white to white/chartreuse have been the top color patterns. The larger flukes in the 5- to 6-inch range are working as the stripers are pushing the shad schools around in the coves. Trollers are also picking up stripers from 30 to 60 feet with umbrella rigs in various shad-patterned colors.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the fish are showing up both shallow and deep right now . “Water temps of 58 degrees and very clear water in mostly clear conditions have put the fish down when the sun comes up. You can see down 10 feet right now and its driven the fish deeper into the 40 to 60 foot range. I scouted the lake Monday for several hours and released 19 fish to 6 lbs on various shad colored and white tone lures but the bigger ones seem to be off right now. My overall quality was better for some reason. The fish can turn on and off pretty quickly-with some bites dying as if on cue even though there are fish .. Some days seem to be smaller fish days and on others the bigger class fish get in on the bite. I rate the bite just decent right now “ George said.
George is doing his new Downrigging 101 for Stripers class at Fresno Sportsman’s Warehouse on Jan. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s limited to 20 students and the cost is $50. Info and preregistration at 905-2954.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Drifting jumbo minnows around Romero Visitor Center or Portuguese Cove remains the top draw for stripers, and we are selling from 25 to 40 dozen jumbos per week. The average size of striper is around 22 inches.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements reported a ripbaits or Rat-L-Trap bite is taking place around Check 12 along with on the rockwall side. He said, “The stripers seem to be ambushing the shad around the rockwall, and they are congregating there.”
The lake rose to 75 percent due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0
Bass Lake is becoming a viable option for valley fishermen willing to take their time in launching their vessels along with paying for the annual Sheriff’s Motor Fee. Despite cold water temperatures, quality fish to 4.5 pounds are possible.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “I went to the lake with my partner this week, and we found good action for quality spots and largemouth bass to 4.5 pounds. Launching the 19-foot Ranger wasn’t a problem despite the lack of a dock as there is plenty of ramp on one side, and you can bring the boat to the beach to enter. The lake is low with the Buoy Line almost out of the water, but the visibility is good at 8 to 10 feet. I started off releasing a 16-inch rainbow trout on a 7-inch swimbait first thing in the morning on the initial cast of the day, and there is a swimbait bite early in the morning before working the bottom with plastics. The bottom is mushy as if there are decomposing weeds, and there is still some weed growth in the lake in spite of the 46-degree water. My partner landed the big fish at 4.5 pounds by dragging a 6-inch worm in Purple Ghost. Drop-shotting with a green pumpkin plastic with a black or purple line as also effective as we primarily worked on the dam side of the lake at depths from 20 to 25 feet.”
The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is in effect year-round now, and boaters can pick up the permit at any of the local landings. Newman said, “There is no need to get on the lake early as the ramp may be icy early in the morning, and we didn’t get on the water until after 9:00 a.m.”
For rainbow trout, trollers are getting in on the action for limits of rainbows with Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler or spoons. Bank fishing has also been very good near the Sheriff’s Tower or the dam with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake is at 50 percent.
Brown trout 2 Trout 2
Snow in the high country slowed down any interest in fishing in the Kaiser Pass region or the difficult to access high country as the road is closed for the winter. Check the Caltrans website at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi or call 800-427-7623 for road conditions.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
Shaver Lake received a heavy dosing of snow over the weekend, but before the snow fell, a group of four anglers from Clovis were out for three days in a row between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and they averaged around four mixed kokanee and trout per day after having very good success with multiple limits a few weeks prior. Bank fishing was decent before the storm around Camp Edison or the dam with power bait or inflated nightcrawlers. Boaters should check the webcam at the Sierra Marina before heading up to attempt to launch a vessel at www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. The lake has dropped to 50 percent.
Road conditions to both lakes have been affected by the recent winter storms, and the gate at Dinkey Creek is closed, eliminating access to both Wishon and Courtright.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf Perch 3
There are several changes to the 2019-2020 recreational groundfish regulations that will affect the ports of San Francisco Bay, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz/Monterey, and the San Luis Obispo County ports ncluding: a bag limit from two to one ling cod south of Cape Mendocino, an increase to the season length in the San Francisco Management Area, a return to a year-round fishery for California Scorpionfish in the Southern Groundfish Management Area, an increase to depth limits in the Southern Management and the Cowcod Conservation areas, and an increase to the Canary Rockfish bag limit statewide. For up-to-date recreational fishing regulation information, check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Groundfish web page, or call the Groundfish Hotline (831-649-2801).
The 2018 rockfish season ended with limits of rockfish being the rule along with limits of Dungeness crab for the few party boats running combination trips. The weather was the only limiting factor over the final week of the season as we move into the period when sand dabs, petrale sole, and Dungeness crab trips will occupy the party boats while shore anglers will focus on crab with snares along with surf perch and striped bass. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is the only large party boat running sand dab/crab combination trips, and they ran the first trip of the new year on Wednesday, January 3rd. He said, “The sand dabs were very plentiful and the fishermen also landed some petrale sole in 325 feet of water 16 miles west of the Pillar Point Harbor. The weather was good enough for us to head further west into deep water for the sole, and we will give this
fishery a try whenever the conditions allow us to work the deeper water.” Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the party boats will focus on nature trips along with whale watching in the interim months before the rockfish and salmon seasons are anticipated to open in April. Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady will also be running whale watching trips on Saturdays and Sundays through April. Dungeness crab are still available from the commercial boats in the harbor, and Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete is selling live crab off of the boat on the weekends. Further north in Pacifica, rough weather has closed the pier on a number of
days, but the pier is open daily from 4 a.m. through 10 p.m., weather depending. Anglers are finding limited success for Dungeness crab with snares, but surf perch action has been decent with a variety of lures including Lucky Craft’s Flash Minnow, Berkley Camo Worms, or Gulp! Worms. Sand crabs are also effective.
Striper 2 Crab 3 Sand Dabs 3 Surf Perch 3
The last sand dab/crab trip out of Chris’s Fishing in Monterey produced 72 Dungeness crab, plenty of sand dabs, and a sole for 15 anglers. The weather this weekend obviously kept the boats tied up to the harbor. Chris’s is running sand dabs/crab trips, weather and interest permitting. The popularity of the Sand Crab Surf Perch Classic continues to grown, and this year’s event sold out within two days after taking all of four days last year. Even organizers Mike Baxter and Allen Bushnell said, “We are humbled. We have to limit the number of entries due to fire codes at our venerable venue, Santa Cruz Portuguese Hall (C.P.D.E.S. Hall). We also will be looking at various strategies to increase attendance numbers for future derbies. One goal of the Sand Crab Classic is to be an institution. Our dream includes generations of family attending as the years roll on. It could not happen without the dedicated work and energy of nearly 40 Monday, January 7, 2019 Windy Weekend Wrap Hot Sheet volunteers each year. Planning literally takes months, but it is all worth it!! Not only for continued support of MBSTP but also as a community building event, bringing us and our families closer together with this wholesome pursuit as common theme. One thing for sure, surf-perch fishing has become way more popular around here over the past 15 years! Thank you all once again.”
San Francisco Bay
Striper 2 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2
The Bay Area party boat fleet was tied up over the weekend due to the weather conditions, but there won’t be anything going on outside of the Golden Gate other than whale watching or nature trips until April when the salmon and rockfish seasons are anticipated to open one again. The south bay and San Pablo Bay are the locations for sturgeon fishermen, and the south bay out of Alviso is a good location for the diamondbacks due to recent rain coming out of the creeks. In San Pablo Bay, Captain Trent Slate took out Rob Anderson from Brentwood in much better conditions earlier this week for a legal sturgeon on shrimp baits near China Camp. He said, “Just when we were fighting this fish, another hook up happened, but the line broke right away, bumming me out completely.” Slate will be running sturgeon and striped bass trips in the bay throughout the winter/spring until the opening of the ocean salmon season.
San Luis Obispo
Surf perch 2
The rockfish season will reopen on April 1st, and nature and whale watching trips along with the occasional sand dab/crab trip will be on the schedule throughout January, February, and March until the rockfish season opens once again in April.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Sturgeon fishing has been up and down over the past few weeks with the colder water temperatures, but those in the know are finding success.
Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing was optimistic about the coming weeks for sturgeon fishing as he said, “It looks like the bite is starting up again as we had a keeper and 2 shakers on Saturday in 49-degree water, and as always during cold water, eel is the best bet with all fish taken on eel. The stomach on the keeper sturgeon was empty so I think that they are starting to feed again. On Saturday, we released two shakers, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife warden checked our boat, and he said that he had checked 40 boats without a sturgeon landed. We have been working around the Mothball Fleet towards the Horseshoe, but the area around the Benicia/Martinez Bridge to Buoy 2 and in the Carquinez Straits is inundated with bait-stealing Dungeness crab, particularly on the flood tide.”
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing said, “We found plenty of fish in the Little Cut and outside of Roe and Ryer Island, but the Big Cut and the Middle Grounds were bare. Setting hook on the few bites that you will receive is key, and I resorted to setting the hook on our one slot-fish at 42 inches on Wednesday. We released a shaker and had a few other bites, and I have been working medium-deep to shallow water around 30 feet in depth with salmon roe or eel. The fish are there, but the cold water temperatures are keeping the bites few and far between. You have to stay vigilant to watching your rod at all time since they are just biting softly right now.”
Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures was out with celebrity deckhand, Virginia Salvador, this week, and they landed slot-limit fish in varying depths at 22, 45, and 70 feet. He said, “We caught and released 4 slot fish on Saturday and another 3 on Sunday. My technique is to hunt around until I find a concentration of fish worth setting anchor on, and I will look at the tides to see if an area will be fishable or not. In other words, if the tide is at the beginning or end of an outgo, you will be able to anchor in deeper water for a while with the minimal water movement. If the tides are too large, I will go looking around in the shallows. Medinas will be presenting at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition on Friday and Saturday.
The Creek west of the Mothball Fleet has also been a productive area with one six-pack putting in two slot fish out of the only two bites experienced during the day.
Captain Talmadge is the organizer of the 13th annual Diamond Classic Catch & Release Sturgeon Derby, and last year’s event resulted in 460 adult and 152 youth participants. Talmadge said, “The adult program is a hit so I apply most of my energy towards the kid’s program. I would like to see 200 kids this year. The kids enter for free and we have a volunteer crew working the Martinez pier for kids that can’t get on a boat. I have 35 rod and reel outfits on the pier for any kid that would like to enter. Last year the first-place youth was from the pier, and all monies collected from the adult entries go back to the fishermen. What makes this happen for the kids and the cost is support from sponsors and donations. My goal is every kid gets some sort of gift whether they catch a fish or not.”
The derby entry fee is $25 for adults with 100 percent payback in cash prizes from 1st through 7th place. Information is available at www.diamondclassic.org with the official registration location of Martinez Bait. As in the past, there will be a pre-derby seminar at La Tapatia Restaurant on Main Street in Martinez from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25.”
In the Pittsburg area, Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing took Joe Kaiser, Daniel Schooneur Sr., Daniel Schooneur Jr., and their grandfather Ben of Stockton for a striper trip drifting live mudsuckers. Clapp said, “It was a slow day with only 5 shakers until the tide change at 2:30 p.m. when the stripers finally decided to bite. Everything came by drifting mudsuckers in the 48- to 50-degree water in Honker Bay. We had tried shad earlier in the day without results except for undersized stripers.”
In the north Delta, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento went into the Mokelumne River early in the week in search of striped bass, and after finding nothing doing, he switched to crappie fishing for over 100 hand-sized slabs on Fin-S-Fish small swimbaits at depths from18 to 24 feet. He said, “The water temperature was 48 degrees, but we were able to get them to bite.”
The striped bass continue to be difficult to locate in the San Joaquin-Delta, particularly in the south and eastern portions of the Delta as the bait and birds remain absent. This week’s storms should warm up the water to some degree and also bring down some new sources of food from upstream. The action for striped bass remains slow while largemouth bass fishing requires a finesse presentation.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “It wasn’t as difficult this past week, but there if there are striped bass in the east Delta, I am not finding them. Birds have been absent, and it has been difficult to find any bait. Fortunately, the largemouth bass have been willing to bite, but you have to slow way down and keep your bait in the strike zone as long as possible. I have been using baits with scent such as the Berkley Bottom Hopper with Max Scent on a Zappu head, and the key is to let the bait sit and just rotate your wrist left or right every once in a while. The movement of your wrist will move the rod and eventually move the bait slightly. When you feel a twitch, you have to set the hook as the fish are only moving slightly with the bait. The other option is a ripbait on a very slow presentation, and we have been scoring with the ima Flit 120 in American Shad or Olive Herring, but you just have to twitch the bait, not drag it. Just twitching the bait every once in a while will make the bait move left or right, and you have to be on your toes and set hook when you feel the tick. 7 to 20 bass to 3 pounds is possible, but the big fish are only feeding once every four to five days in the cold water. You also have to find weeds with slightly moving current.”
The cold temperatures and windy conditions have limited fishermen from the banks, and fresh shad is over in Delta bait shops until the spring.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, there is a solid spotted bass bite for numbers, but the fish are scattered at depths from 5 to 30 feet with the best action remaining in the warmer water of the afternoons. The best action has been with plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot, or with ice jigs on a slow presentation. The majority of bass are small spots, but there are some largemouth showing up in the mix. White bass action is slow. The lake rose to 14 percent of capacity with this weekend’s rain, but the continued low water conditions have led to both marked and unmarked hazards just under the water levels. Boaters have to use extreme caution when running. The marina remains open for all services with the exception of gasoline. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com.
At San Antonio, the lake is still at 12 percent, and few fishermen are heading to the lake with catfish taking center stage with Triple S Blood Formula along with cut baits. Bass fishing remains slow with the occasional fish landed on plastics or jigs on a slow presentation. Launching at the Harris Ramp is still a possibility, but the Lynch Ramp remains closed.
Lopez is the top coastal lake for quality largemouth bass, and the occasional good fish is taken on jigs in crawdad patterns as the bass are digging in the rocks for the crustaceans. Deep-diving crankbaits are another option along with swimbaits, ice jigs, or spoons. Plastics on the drop-shot are also a possibility.. With the colder water temperatures, the panfish bite has slowed. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.
At Santa Margarita, catfishing remains slower, but a few whiskerfish are taken on cut baits. Panfish are shutting down with the colder water temperatures. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.
Reminder: Consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are required before boat launching is allowed.
Ocean, Delta, Kern and Central Coast
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports
River Rat Bass Club: Jan. 1 at Eastman – Alex Carillo/Michael Beltran, 11.82 pounds; 2, Ron and Nick Sanches, 10.65 (Big Fish 5.57); 3, Fang Xiong/Xang Vang, 9.98.
Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: Jan. 1 at Kaweah – 1, Josh Housey/Jr. Demacablin, 13.95 (Big Fish 3.94); 2, Wayne Arnold/Fernando Becerra, 7.45; 3, Bobby Blaswich/Tanner Brumley, 7.21.
Kerman Bass Club: Jan. 5 at McClure – 1, Ryan Voorhees/Justin Eslick, 14.65 (4.16 Big Fish); 2, Darren Graef/Mitch Melikian, 10.85; 3, Ron Orbaker/David Musick, 10.80.
New Jen Bass Tournaments: Jan. 5 at McClure – 1, Jeff Tuel Sr./Jeff Tuel Jr., 18.78 (6.35 Big Fish); 2, Anthony Fuller/Jonathan Whitesitt, 15.87; 3, Donald Hendrix/Roger Cummings, 15.23. Jan. 6 at McClure – 1, Scott Taylor/Jeff Eddings, 14.12; 2, Jason Remmers/Alex Niapas, 12.14 (Big Fish 6.08); 3, Donald Hendrix/Roger Cummings, 11.99.
Bass 101: Jan. 6 at Millerton – 1, Mark Corrente, 10.75; 2, Raymond Padilla, 9.65 (Big Fish 3.41); 3, Tony Hunt, 9.16.
Jan. 12: New Melones – Sonora Bass Club, Tulloch – Gold Country Junior Bass Club, Don Pedro – Christian Bass League, McClure – Best Bass Tournaments/Tri Valley Bassmasters, Nacimiento – Kern County Bassmasters, Santa Margarita – Bakersfield Bass Club
Jan. 13: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, Millerton – California Bass Federation, Kaweah – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambassadors
Jan. 17-20: International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo, Sacramento, www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento
Jan. 19: Delta/Russo’s Marina – American Bass Association, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments, McClure – Merced Bass Club, Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club/American Bass Association, Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments
Jan. 20: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, Pine Flat – Fresno Bass Club/Kings River Bass Club
Jan. 24: Downrigging 101 for Stripers at Fresno Sportsman’s Warehouse, 6-8 p.m., limited to 20 students, cost $50, info: 905-2954
Jan. 26: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Pine Flat – California Bass Nation, Nacimiento – Golden Empire Bass Club
Jan. 27: New Melones – Riverbank Bass Anglers
Feb. 2-3: Delta/McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point – Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original “Super Bowl” Sturgeon Derby
Feb. 2: Don Pedro – New Jen Bass Tournaments, McClure – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/RiverRat Bass Club, Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments/Kerman Bass Club, Santa Margarita – American Bass Association
Feb. 3: Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
Scheduled week of Jan. 13 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Woodward Park Lake
Kern County: Kern River sections 4 and 5
Tulare County: Mooney Grove Park Pond, Kern River sections 5 and 6
q = quarter moon