Fishing Report

Fishing report for week of Feb. 27-March 5: Bass action good at San Joaquin Valley lakes

See ice on Shaver Lake captured by drone video

Video footage shows ice and snow covering sections of Shaver Lake after a cold storm blew through the Sierra Nevada mountains east of Fresno over the past few days.
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Video footage shows ice and snow covering sections of Shaver Lake after a cold storm blew through the Sierra Nevada mountains east of Fresno over the past few days.

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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Best bets

New Melones bass bite takes off, John Liechty said. Pine Flat bass bite solid, Steve Newman reported. Don Pedro and McClure have good bass action, Ryan Cook said. San Luis stripers continue feeding, Travis Porter reported.


1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat


Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs

Striper 2 Catfish 2

There hasn’t been much going on in the northern section of the California Aqueduct with the inclement weather as rain tends to keep people away with the lack of shelter, but there is some fishing going on in the canals around Mendota for largemouth bass and catfish. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, striped bass fishing is fair at best with the slower flows.

Safety precautions at this time of year must be taken at all times as the calm waters of the aqueduct are deceptive as still waters can start flowing rapidly without warning, creating strong currents and turbulence. The concrete sides can be slippery with sand, algae, or gravel, making it nearly impossible to climb out without assistance. Float lines and safety ladders are spaced periodically along the sides, and the safety ladders are located at the end of float lines and along the canal 500 feet apart on alternate sides of the aqueduct and marked by a yellow background painted on the concrete above the ladder.

Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657

Eastman Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Eastman and Hensley are rising rapidly as a result of the recent heavy rainstorms, and the largemouth bass bite is starting to show signs of life at both lakes.

A tough bite at Eastman greeted participants in the recent Sierra Bass Club event with more than one boat disqualified for minor offenses such as being cited by the warden for non-contrasting CF numbers on their vessel. The tournament was taken by Amy Mauk with a single largemouth bass at 5.07 pounds.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The water is dingy, and this is the time where a rattling bait such as squarebill crankbaits, chatterbaits, Rat-L-Traps or spinnerbaits with large blades will work in the shallows. Over the humps and in the saddles between humps, lures with a large profile that displace water and make a knocking noise are effective like lipless crankbaits or deep-diving crankbaits. Sweet Beavers, Brush Hogs, big Senkos at 5 to 6 inches, or 10-inch Power Worms are good choices as these have a large profile and will attract the largemouth bass. With the shortage of bait in both lakes, the largemouth bass are keying on a big meal. Jigs seem to fall too fast and they are harder to track for the fish right now. Dark color patterns are working best.”

Eastman is releasing water, and it stayed at 74 percent by balancing inflow with outflow.

Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255

Hensley Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 3

Newman said, “There is a sneaky good bite there right now with jigs, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits for largemouth bass in the 2- to 3-pound class. The fish are schooled up with the rising water levels, but you have to find the schools as they are spread out. Once you find one, there should be others in the area. The rising water levels have opened up new areas for the fish, and they seem to be feeling more comfortable with new sources of food coming out of the flooded shorelines and new rocks to use as ambush points.”

Hensley climbed up from 46 to 55 percent.

Call: Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151

Lake Don Pedro

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Crappie 2

The Wild West Bass Trails arrived at Don Pedro on Saturday with 184 boats, and it took a seven-fish limit at 32.44 pounds by the team of Kevin Nunes and Christian Ostrander to take the top spot. 297 teams between two Mother Lode lakes on the same day shows the high rate of participation in bass tournaments in northern California, especially in light of an additional 113 teams at Lake Berryessa for the Best Bass Tournament.

Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “The bass are moving into the shallows on a more frequent basis, and jigs, Senkos, or swimbaits are all working for the largemouth and spotted bass. We came in 24th out of 184 boats during Saturday’s Wild West Bass Tournament, and our fish came anywhere from 1 to 65 feet in depth. The water releases should start soon, and when the lake is receding, the bass will move out to the vertical walls and structure in the main lake along with the creek channels.” The water quality in the main lake remains good at 3 to 4 feet, but the water becomes more stained towards the creeks. A seven-fish limit over 32 pounds took first in Saturday’s Wild West Bass Trails tournament with the big fish at 10.40 pounds. Slow-rolled swimbaits are the best chance for a trophy largemouth, but numbers remain on plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head, or jigs as depths to 40 feet. Trout trolling will be on the rise in the coming weeks, but with the cold and inclement weather, few trollers are targeting the lake. The lake rose from 82 to 83 percent.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008

Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

Few reports from Lake Isabella, but trout plants will be released within the next two months in anticipation of the Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby scheduled for April 13-15 with registrations are being taken now. There is a total prize pool of $26,544 and counting, and all top five positions will pay double with the purchase of a T-shirt or hoodie. Online registration is open at, proceed to Calendar & Events and click on Isabella Lake Fishing Derby Link.

The rainbows are getting fat in the pens at Red’s Marina. There was some confusion on night fishing for trout at the lake, but there is no restriction regarding fishing at night for rainbow trout at the lake. The 72,000-acre foot restriction on Lake Isabella has been lifted, and the construction work on the upstream side of the Borel Canal and the French Gulch interim boat ramp extension and lake levels will now be allowed to rise to 361,250 acre-feet or 2,589 feet in elevation, weather providing. It is currently at 22 percent and rising. There will be no further need to lower lake levels for the duration of the project, expected to be completed in 2022.

In the local lakes, Jorge Ochoa caught and released a 9.74-pound largemouth bass at Lake Truxton on a black/blue jig.

The upper Kern River was last planted in early February, and the planters are holding in the deeper pools above the dam. Nightcrawlers, live crickets, or Power Bait are working for the occasional planted rainbow.

Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812; Golden Trout Pack Station 542-2816

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

Not much happening here as the lake is muddy from the rapid inflow coupled with water releases which have brought the lake down from 17 to 14 percent this week. The cold and muddy water have brought the bass bite to a crawl.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2

Similar to Kaweah, Success is also releasing water, and it dropped from 28 to 26 percent this week. The lake is muddy, and bass fishing is slow. The Tule River remains blown out, and the additional rain will keep it muddy for some time. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville is giving fly casting lessons at the Pierpoint Café the second Sunday of the month at 10 a.m. The lessons are free and all equipment is provided.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2

Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “The bass are moving more and more into the shallows as the lake is dropping quickly in anticipation of the coming storm. Jigs, Senkos, and swimbaits are working for both largemouth and spotted bass with a good number of fish from 20 feet to the bank.” Jigs in natural colors remain best for shallow fish in the mornings before the bait moves out into the creek channels or around ledges in deep water. The shad are starting to move off of the bottom and form into groups in the main lake. The lake is also releasing water, and it dropped from 71 to 67 percent.

Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 2

High water inflow from Lake McClure has created stained clarity and elevated conditions at the afterbay of McClure. Planted rainbows from the last release of 1,500 pounds are still for the taking, but scented trout dough bait is essential in the stained water. Green with garlic has been an effective pattern with a few rainbows taken on Roostertails or Speedy Shiners. The annual Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby is scheduled for April 6-7, and over 450 anglers participated in the event last year.

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, “Daryl Lamonica, former NFL quarterback, is a regular sight at Millerton, caught and released a striped bass at 20.5 pounds on 6-pound test on a finesse plastic in the river arm. This particular striper was very short, but plump instead of long and thin. For spotted bass, working vertical walls in the main lake with plastics on the drop-shot, Ned rig, or dart head are best with the better cut of spot found on jigs, although the numbers will be fewer. You have to go find the schools of bass since there are some areas that are not holding fish.”

Millerton is already releasing water to balance inflow, and it held at 71 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 3 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 2

The Mother Lode low-elevation reservoirs of New Melones and Don Pedro hosted large bass tournaments on Saturday, and the results were spectacular for big fish with both tournaments featuring at least one double-digit largemouth bass.

The initial Angler’s Press tournament of the season was the ‘Calaveras Clash,’ named for the county in which New Melones partially is located, and the team of Romero and Daniels took first with a five-fish limit of 32.94 pounds along with the big fish at 12.56. It took a 16-pound limit to land within the top fifteen finishers.

At New Melones, Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits and his brother came in the top 25 during the Angler’s Press event, and they qualified for the three-day Tournament of Champions at Melones on March 8-10. He said, “The bass were in the top 10 feet in the early morning, but by 8:00 a.m., they were moving down. We ended up with 14.04 pounds, and everything came on either the Purple Hornet or Brown Craw jig at varying depths from 5 to 60 feet. The bass really hit the jig, and when you received a strike, the line jumped a foot and a half.”

John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The bite is on, and swimbait fishing is very good. My client, Mike Dalforno of El Dorado Hills, landed a largemouth bass just over 6 pounds on a swimbait, and this fish just crushed the bait all the way to the back of its throat. The big fish are coming on swimbaits, and I was out with a father and son on the same day as the big Angler’s Press tournament. There is plenty of water on the lake so it didn’t seem crowded even though there were over 100 boats out. We used plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head for 4 hours for between 15 and 20 bass with the best cut found from 15 to 25 feet. We also found bait deeper on the graph at 45 to 55 feet, and we picked up more fish in deep water.”

Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Angels Cove is giving up some nice rainbows from shore near the inlet where they are taking advantage of the high water runoff that brings insects into the feeding ground. Heavy spoons such as Kastmasters or Tazmanian Devils along with nightcrawlers under a bobber or on a Ned rig have produced rainbows to 4 pounds this week.”

For crappie, Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing took a few days off from sturgeon fishing in the Delta due to the slow action, and he put in limits of quality crappie on consecutive days over the weekend trolling Notorious crappie jigs at 45 feet in the main lake.”

New Melones has risen to 83 percent.

Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service 209-743-9932

Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Pine Flat continues to be solid for spotted bass along with the occasional largemouth bass, but the bite has transitioned from the river arm to the main lake with the rising water levels. Millerton is also steady for spotted bass.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “At Pine Flat, the bass are schooling in the main lake and chasing bait. The lake is still climbing in elevation, and the bass are moving into the shallows. The rising water levels have disoriented the shad schools, and the big bait balls we saw a few weeks ago are not broken up into smaller groupings. Reaction baits such as chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits are working in the shallows, and as the fish are in pods, it is important to stay on top of them. There is a smaller class of spotted bass holding in 40 to 50 feet with plastics on a Neko rig or jigs. The larger bass in the 4- to 6-pound range are found from 20 feet to the banks, and the anglers working deep water with Damiki Rigs or ice jigs has slowed down.” Trout trolling has been null and void in the main lake, but the lower Kings River below the dam remains consistent for planters to 16 inches with Roostertails, Kastmasters, or nightcrawlers in the deeper pools and pockets. The lake rose from 51 to 56 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626

san luis
Mark Hoatson of Merced, a guest of Roger George’s Guide Service at San Luis Reservoir on Feb. 20, shows off his personal-best striper. Roger George Special to The Bee

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2

Striped bass fishing at San Luis Reservoir continues to be pretty good overall for anglers utilizing a variety of techniques, leaving local tackle shops scrambling to meet the demand for reaction lures.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “With the water rising, the stripers are really pushing the shad into the shallows in the coves, creek channels, and humps, and boat fishermen are targeting the linesides with Zara Spooks or similar topwater lures while bank fishermen are using ripbaits and jerkbaits. We have had a big run on the Duo Realis 100 Series, and the Plus 2 Mega Bass lures are another option. The banks at Dinosaur Point, Romero Visitor Center, and along Portuguese Cove have been the top locations, and there have been some bigger stripers landed. The forebay is muddy, and the ripbait bite has slowed with the dirty water, but an 11-pound largemouth bass was reportedly taken with a white/chartreuse jerkbait this week.”

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the overall bite has been up and down depending on the day. “Getting actual daily reports from regulars, some days are decent and others have been tough as fronts have come through. Last Wednesday I took out Ed Parolini of Fresno and Mark Hoatson of Merced and right off the bat Mark hooked a heavy fish at 50 feet -that was as broad as it was long. We released Mark’s new PB that was over 13 pounds. The guys picked up over 20 more fish to 6-plus pounds in the rain, hail and wind. This weekend I had guests Todd Lee of the Bay Area and his son Declan, 12, for both Saturday and Sunday. There was a ton of boat traffic but we focused on getting to areas where there were some active fish and less traffic – and we ended up catching/releasing over 20 fish to 24 inches each day. Most boaters this weekend reported they had tough days in the calm busy conditions.” George said he’s still working on the best date for the Downrigging 101 class.

Travis Porter and K.C. Wilson of Hollister were in the O’Neill Forebay on Saturday after catching eight schoolie stripers to 24 inches while trolling Lucky Craft Pointers and JKings Lures jerkbaits at depths from 39 to 40 feet in the coves. Porter said, “We jumped over to the forebay for a little trolling and casting, but it was a bust as the water looked like chocolate milk. We trolled one loop there before casting for a while without success. We went back to the big lake on Sunday for a total of six stripers trolling.”

B.J. Kendrick of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported sales of jumbo minnows have been high for those drifting in the main lake along with JoeBagg’s small jerkbaits while those fishing in the forebay are using chicken livers, blood worms, or minnows.

The big lake has risen from 92 to 95 percent this week.

Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George of, 905-2954

Heavy winter storms and frigid conditions have left the northern end of Bass Lake frozen over as of Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. It's a somewhat rare condition, according to resident Taylor Ferguson.

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0

Few reports from the lake as cold and inclement weather has kept boats off of the body of water. Launching a large boat is no problem as the lake has risen to 73 percent. The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now, and this is another limiting factor during the winter. A webcam of the lake is available at The annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is scheduled for May 4-5.

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

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 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

The lake has iced over within the past week, but shore fishermen are walking down to the banks to break holes in the ice in order to fish. Kevin Kato, local Shaver Lake chef, has been working a number of locations from the banks with a specially-designed, but undisclosed bait, for rainbows and browns to 23 inches. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “A few other shore fishermen have broken through the ice and some are finding success for hungry trophy-sized rainbows swimming the shorelines.”

Nichols, Todd Wittwer of Guide Service, and Tom Oliviera of Tom Oliviera Fishing will present a seminar at the Turner’s Outdoorsman in Fresno on North Blackstone Avenue from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28.

Boaters need to check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp is available at The lake dropped slightly to 52 percent.

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435


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 until early April.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361


Half Moon Bay

Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2

Second Captain Michael Cabanas of the Huli Cat took sand dab/sole/crab combination trips out of Pillar Point on both Saturday and Sunday, and they picked up limits of crab both days along with petrale sole to 5 pounds and loads of sand dabs. They are also running the combination trips until the start of rockfish season below Pigeon Point on April 1st.

The Coastside Fishing Club will be holding its annual Swap Meet on March 2nd in the Pillar Point Harbor, Upper Parking lot, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The legendary Grill Crew will be cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs on a donation basis. Space is free to members of Coastside Fishing Club, and non-members will pay a $25 fee to display that will also get them a one-year membership in Coastside Fishing Club with access to the bulletin boards and hot fishing information.

Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand Dabs 2 Surf Perch 2

The Sand Crab Classic is only a weekend away, and the weigh in will be at 1:00 p.m. at the Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz on March 9th, and you can still attend the lunch for $15.00. All proceeds go to the Monterey Salmon and Trout Project.

Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732

San Francisco Bay

Halibut 1 Striper2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2

Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina put in work on Saturday and Sunday with a minimum of results, traveling from Buoy 9 to China Camp to McNear’s and to west of the Petaluma River in the flats for some small stripers and a green sturgeon released. He was left scratching his head over what happened to the bite. The sturgeon should be coming back into San Pablo from the closed zone to the west as the herring spawns are few and far between now.

Reminder – if you have the opportunity to hook a green sturgeon, it must be released without taking it out of the water.

In the south bay, Laine’s Bait and Tackle in Alviso reported heavy sales of ghost shrimp as they haven’t been able to drag up any grass shrimp in over a week. One of the sturgeon was landed on frozen ghost shrimp which has been popular with the lack of live bait in area shops.

Craig Hanson of Argo Sport Fishing out of San Francisco said,” The recent weather, although great for the overall future and environment, has really put the hammer down on a consistent bite in the upper bay. Like humans, the fish are uncomfortable in changing conditions and temperatures. The bass catching seems to change by the day. We go out with no expectations and load up, then come back the next day with high hopes and get it handed to us. We’re due for a string of nice weather that should bring the bass into a more predictable pattern. As for sturgeon, we were on a roll a couple weeks ago of nearly a fish per trip, but that has fallen off the table on recent ventures. If everything goes as theorized, freshwater should soon bring diamondbacks and other hungry critters flowing into San Pablo Bay. Which brings us to the transition of chasing halibut on the horizon. Typically, our first exploratory halibut excursions beginning in late February and ramp up into early March. These are trolling trips covering a fair amount of ground that range greatly in success until we get on some fish.”

Call: Captain Trent Slate, Bite Me Charters 415-307-8582; Happy Hooker 510-223-5388; Captain Jerad Davis, Salty Lady 415-760-9362; Captain Steve Mitchell 707-655-6736

San Luis Obispo

Surf perch 2

Nature and whale watching trips along with the occasional sand dab/crab trip will be on the schedule throughout February and March until the rockfish season opens once again in April.

Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100



Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

The Sacramento-Delta remains high and muddy, bringing sturgeon action to a grinding halt throughout most of the system. The big tides this past week moved the sturgeon out of the deep water, but even with excellent tides over the weekend, sturgeon fishing remained slow. Floating and submerged debris is still a factor in the San Joaquin-Delta, and boaters must be aware of the conditions as there are still logs just under the surface. With the high water in the north Delta, boaters will need to check launch conditions before hitching up. Several days of rain are anticipated this week.

In the north Delta, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “The river is still moving fast, but there are some sturgeon being taken close to the banks in the slower moving water. The north Delta is still very muddy, and although a few anglers went to Liberty Island on Sunday, I expect them to find dirty water.”

Sturgeon fishing has been a grind, but there are better times on the horizon. Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing said, “I have been out the past three days in Suisun Bay and the sloughs, and we just can’t get them to bite. The bites we are getting are just the smallest taps, and it is difficult to determine if it is weeds or fish. The fluctuating water temperatures has caused these fish to stop eating for the most part.”

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was one of the fortunate six-pack captains over the weekend as the majority of boats came up empty. He said, “I went into Montezuma and Nurse Sloughs on Friday, and there was a good concentration of sturgeon there. We had two hook ups that came off, and the reason I went into the sloughs was the fish seemed more willing to bite than in the main river as one of my friend’s boat picked up two there on Thursday. I switched up on Sunday, and we anchored in 22 feet of water outside of Freeman Island for a 53-inch slot limit sturgeon for Kevin Daniels of Elk Grove on cured salmon roe and another 39-inch shaker. We only had two bites, but we made them count. We are sitting on fish everywhere but getting them to bite is a challenge. I feel fortunate since we were the only party boat with fish on Sunday.”

Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported plenty of interest in fishing, but live bait has been at a premium as owner Curtis Hayes dragged for several hours on Saturday for only 3 pounds of grass shrimp. The combination of big tides and fresh water has caused the shrimp to disappear for now.”

Finding clear water remains a challenge in the San Joaquin-Delta, and with the large number of bass tournaments within the coming weeks, locating clear water will become more and more of a focal point.

Finding clear water is the key to success for largemouth bass, and Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The big limits that were weighed in last weekend must have come from the teams finding clear water and using a reaction-type bait. You have to go outside of your comfort zone right now to find clear water in locations that you may normally not fish. If you find one largemouth bass, there are certain to be more in the same area, and it is important to make multiple casts to the same area if you believe there are fish there. A slow presentation is essential, and if you are fishing the dinghy water, it is very important to use something with scent and vibration since sight is not an option for the bass to find their prey. The Florida-strain largemouth bass will be holding tight to weed growth to keep warm, and they won’t be chasing very far. The 10-inch Berkeley Power Worm or heavy weightless General are good options as they are large profile plastics with Max Scent. The large profile will create vibration, and you have to maximize these two senses to get bit in the off-color water. I would use plastics in black/blue or dark red/blue to stand out in the stained water as a white plastic will not show up. It is going to be an early spring from all indicators as the almond trees are in full blossom in the valley, and once the water clears in the San Joaquin River, we are going to see a lot of big fish showing up.”

With the stained water, striped bass fishing has been limited to bait fishing as the linesides are unable to use their lateral lines and senses to locate a reaction lure. Once again, when the water clears in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, the spring striper run should be impressive.

Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors went out for a few hours after church on Sunday, and he said, “The Delta is cold and muddy, but the fish are starting to bite. We threw white spinnerbaits on flats with sparse tules for three largemouth bass and a barely-undersized striper. The key is to slow-roll the spinnerbait over the top of the flats.”

Clara Ricabal of Angler West TV and Jackson Fishing Kayaks bundled up over her work scrubs on Saturday after leaving an all-night shift at her hospital, and this dedicated nurse launched out of Russo’s Marina to fish the Delta for largemouth bass. She said, “The fish were as tired as I was, but I found a few on my black/blue jig with rattles paired with a 4-inch Yamamoto double-tail grub in cinnamon with black flake.”

Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported two sturgeon at 58 inches were brought in over the weekend from the area around Buoy 5 and Chain Island on frozen ghost shrimp or frozen grass shrimp. He said, “Live grass shrimp has been difficult to locate in both San Pablo Bay and the south Bay as the water from the Guadalupe River has come up 15 feet, and the salinity is only 1 percent. The shrimp are gone when there is so much fresh water. Striped bass are still taken on live splittail or frozen shad. The water is still pretty muddy, and there is debris out there.”

The California Department of Boating and Waterways has released their herbicide treatment plan for 2019, and spraying will occur from March 6 through November 30 with the chemicals of Fluridone or Diquat for control Brazilian waterweed (Egeria gensa), curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, fanwort, and coontail – all non-native aquatic weed species. Anchorages, boat ramps, and marinas will be the focus, and B and W Resort, Das Cliff House, Delta Marina, Rio Vista, Driftwood Marina, Golden Anchor, Hidden Harbor Resort, Hogback Boat Launch, Korth’s Pirates Lair, Lloyd’s Holiday Harbor, New Bridge Marina, Owl Harbor, Oxbow Marina, Perry’s Boat Harbor, Rivers End, Spindrift Marina, St. Francis Yacht Club, Tiki Lagun, Tracy Oasis Marina, Turner Cut Resort, and Willow Berm are all areas of herbicide spraying including the Old River near Cruiser Haven, Diablo Ski Club, Discovery Bay, Piper Slough, Sand Mound Slough, Taylor Slough, Italian Slough, and Kings Island. In the Stockton area, Atherton Cove, Buckley Cove, Burns Cut, the Calaveras River, Fourteen Mile Slough, Mosher Slough, Smith Canal, White Slough, and Windmill Cove are scheduled for spraying.

Call: Randy Pringle 209-543-6260; Captain Steve Mitchell, Hook’d Up Sport Fishing 707-655-6736; Vince Borges, Vince Borges Outdoors 209-918-0828; J.D. Richey, Richey’s Sport Fishing 916-952-1554

Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez

Bass 2 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

At Nacimiento, the lake has risen from 66 to 68 percent of capacity within the past week, and there is a possibility of the water level reaching 100 percent this year. The rapid rise has led to muddy water with debris on the surface, and boaters should be cautious for submerged debris. Bass fishing has slowed with the cold and muddy water, but the overall effect of the high-water levels will pay dividends for all fish species in the coming months. The fuel dock will be closed until spring. A webcam of the lake is available at

At Santa Margarita, the lake is still in excess of 100 percent of capacity, and access may be limited due to debris on the surface. A webcam of the lake is available at

At San Antonio, the lake rose from 30 to 32 percent, and the lake is also stained. Lopez is in the same boat as the other coastal lakes with cold and muddy water slowing down fishing interest and action. The lake is at 48 percent and should rise again this week. A webcam of the lake is available at

Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass 805-466-6557



Angler’s Press: Feb. 23 at New Melones – 1, Romero/Daniels, 32.94 pounds (Big Fish 12.56); 2, Pitts/Pitts, 21.57; 3, Barse/Habit, 20.77.

Wild West Bass Trails: at Don Pedro Feb. 23 – 1, Kevin Nunes/Christian Ostrander, 32.22; 2, Andy Stilley/Bruce Stearns, 23.72; 3, Stephen and Stanley Penrod, 21.81. Big Fish –Blake Alexander 10.40. College Team Series Feb. 24: 1, Luke Johns/Luke Lipanovich, 12.93; 2, Sam Morita/Alec Pitts, 10.61 (Big Fish 4.02); 3, Wyatt Harpain/Aaron Nguyen, 10.51.

Fresno Bass Club: Feb. 24 at McClure – 1, Joe Alanis, 12.79; 2, Scott Parsons, 12.71; 3, Ron Red Sr., 11.39. Big Fish – Corey Squires 4.31.


March 2: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournaments, New Melones – American Bass Association/Manteca Bassin’ Buddies, McClure – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Eastman – Kerman Bass Club, Lopez – American Bass Association

March 3: New Melones – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Don Pedro – California Bass Federation, Eastman – Central Valley Kayak Fishing, Success – Porterville Bass Club

March 8-10: New Melones – Angler’s Press Tournament of Champions

March 9: Delta/Russo’s Marina – American Bass Association, New Hogan – Sonora Bass Anglers, Pine Flat – Best Bass Tournaments, Success – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Lopez – Best Bass Tournaments

March 10: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Nor Cal High School Bass, Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, Tulloch – Kings VIII Bass Club, Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

March 16: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Christian Bass League, New Melones – Best Bass Tournaments, Don Pedro – 17-90 Bass Club, McClure – Sierra Bass Club, Millerton – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Lopez – Bakersfield Bass Club

March 17: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Modesto Ambassadors, Pine Flat – Bass 101, Success – New Jen Bass Tournaments

March 18: Eastman – Kings River Bass Club

March 23: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation, Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, Don Pedro – Fresno Bass Club, McClure – Mother Lode Kayak Anglers, Pine Flat – American Bass Association, Success – Lahu Bass Club, Lopez – San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers

March 24: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Riverbank Bass Anglers

March 29-31: New Melones - Wild West Bass Trails

March 30: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Merced Bass Club/Mid Valley Bass Club, Don Pedro – Kerman Bass Club, Santa Margarita – American Bass Association, Isabella – American Bass Association, Kaweah – Lahu Bass Club

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> = peak activity