This 13-pound bass was caught and released on Eastman Lake
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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Pine Flat and Millerton bass bite good, Steve Newman said. McClure pumping out bass numbers, Ryan Cook reported. New Melones bass and trout hitting, John Liechty said. Aqueduct stripers on the take, Dave Hurley reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun reported good action for striped bass with Rat-L-Traps or large jerkbaits towards the evening hours along the headgates. He said, “There haven’t been many boils, but there is a ton of bait in the aqueduct. Anglers are also soaking anchovies, mackerel, or chicken livers. Most fishermen are sticking close to the parking areas along the bridges or headgates, but with the good weather coming, they will start walking farther from the parking areas.”
In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, striped bass action is picking up with a variety of lures including swimbaits and Gitzits along with various types of cut baits.
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.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Eastman was the host of the recent Central Valley Kayak Fishing event, and although the overall action was tough for the participants, Ger Xiong of Fresno landed the big fish of the tourney at 26.00 inches and 11 pounds on a Ned-rig. Eastman traditionally has a four-fish limit for tournaments, and Taz Moua came in first with 68.50 inches, Brad Hale in second at 67.25 inches, and Damian Thao third at 62.25 inches.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The kayak tournament was tough, but there are some good fish in deep water around 30 feet with Rat-L-Traps over the island tops are in front of the dam. In the shallows, chatterbaits or spinnerbaits with knocking noise are picking up bass, but the shallow fish are isolated while they are schooled over the island tops in deeper water. White or chartreuse 5-inch Kei Tech swimbaits on an underspin or spinnerbait will increase the vibration and attract the shallow fish as they are foraging for bluegill or crappie.”There isn’t much structure at Eastman with few deep trees so the bass will ambush off of the island tops, in the saddles between the island tops, or rockpiles. The largemouth bass are right now in a predictable pre-spawn pattern as they move on top of the islands and hold near the bottom.
Eastman has risen to 76 percent.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Newman said, “There have been some swimbait fish to 5 pounds, but this is not the norm. One angler did post a 20-pound limit with swimbaits with a big paddletail, but Senkos and jigs are working for the majority of bass which are in the 1- to 1.5-pound range in this lake. You have to go find them right now, but there are normally a couple of roaming schools of bass here. The water is starting to drop, and the fish start getting tight when the water is dropping.”
Hensley is at 40 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee1 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “The bass are really scattered out right now with the water rising, and the fish are hard to pattern as they are constantly moving. We have found them at depths from 5 to 40 feet with jigs, Senkos, or underspins. A half-ounce Fatty Worm combined with a 3-inch Kei Tech swimbait has been effective.” The water clarity remains in the 5-foot range as the lake continues to rise. Trolling for rainbow trout is good in the main lake with shad-patterned spoons on leadcore line in the top 15 feet of the surface.. The sunny weather this week is expected to bring the bass into the shallows. The lake rose from 82 to 85 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
At Lake Isabella, trout plants will be released within the next six weeks 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 through the Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce website. 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. There will be no further need to lower lake levels for the duration of the project, expected to be completed in 2022. It rose from 22 to 32 percent this week, and it is still rising. The local action was based around the River Walk where a heavy plant of rainbows occurred before last Saturday’s 9th Annual Firefighters Trout Derby. 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. Buena Vista is the only local lake with regular trout plants, and some quality rainbows have been taken from the banks at this pay-and-play impoundment. The local lakes of Ming and Truxton are starting to kick out some largemouth bass on reaction baits.
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
There continue to be few reports from Kaweah, but the lake should be settling down after weeks of inflow. Debris from the fast-rising water is a concern on the lake. The lake rose up again from 15 to 29 percent this week.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
The Cen Cal Elite Bass Club held a tournament at the lake this past Saturday, and the fishing was tough in the muddy water filled with the debris. The lake has risen 15 feet recently, and boaters had to dodge the debris on the surface. The lake has risen near capacity from 30 to 52 percent this week, and the snowpack in the Tule River watershed is impressive. The Tule River remains blown out, and it should stay 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 each 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
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “Catching numbers of spotted and largemouth bass is not a problem, but it has been more difficult to pick up a larger grade of fish. We are working main lake points and steep rock walls from 10 to 30 feet with jigs, wacky-rigged Senkos, or underspins, and one of my clients landed a personal-best at 5.20 pounds on an underspin this week.” McClure rose to 69 percent of capacity. The marina at Barrett Cove will open for the season on April 7.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
A trout plant from Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling was released this week, and all of the shoreline areas of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and marina peninsula are producing planters with trout dough bait in garlic scents and a bright color. Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Recreation Company said, “I made three casts with a blue/silver Kastmaster near the peninsula, and I hooked a 2.5-pound rainbow trout. The visibility is good enough for the rainbows to see the lures.” With warm weather expected this week, the lake is expected to clear further. 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
Millerton has shown considerable improvement over the past week. With the high water levels over the past few years, the largemouth bass population seems to be on the increase in both lakes as these are normally known as spotted bass bodies of water.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Millerton is really good right now with a good class of fish. The bass are oriented to main lake points and vertical walls, and they are eating. A 10- to 12-pound limit will win most tournaments with big fish around 2.5 to 3 pounds. Working boulders or vertical walls with plastics on the drop-shot, dart head, or a wacky Zoom Trick Worm or small fluke are all good techniques as there is a lot of bait in the lake right now. It has been a mixture of both spotted and largemouth bass. Merritt Gilbert of our shop found good quality near Winchell’s Cove with Trick Worms on a wacky rig, and most of the action has been from Finegold into the main lake and along the coves on the Madera County side. Dragging a worm or creature bait over deep humps around 30 feet are also a good technique.”
Millerton has jumped up from 71 to 80 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 1
New Melones has started to produce for multiple species, and the action will only get better and better due to high water and the upcoming good weather anticipated.
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Anglers are picking up quality rainbows in Angels Cove from shore near the inlet and across from the ramp, and David Versil of Lodi was rolling shad in the cove for two rainbows over 5 pounds.”
For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “With all the recent weather and rainfall, the New Melones is looking extremely healthy, and on most days, the bass have been eager to bite. The water temperature is in the low 50's and should start to warm soon. We have been implementing various techniques to catch many fish and some true giants. Over the last three days on the New Melones we have boated over 125-fish up to four pounds primarily using finesse presentations of plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head or Ned Rig at depths from 5 to 65 feet. When looking for a bigger bite, we switch to large swimbaits, and this has paid off. On my trip with Russ Owens, we boated his personal best spotted bass weighing 5.29-pounds. The swimbait game is one of presentation and persistence, but if you put in the time and focus on each cast, we have proven that dreams can be made. The next couple of months we can anticipate some more incredible catches.”
Josh Parris of Josh Parris Guide Service said, “As much as the rain, wind and cold temps can be a pain to deal with little lone fish in, its setting the stage for a great year! With the lake still steadily on the rise and water temps looming in the low 50’s, the pre-spawn bite continues to grow. Our go- to techniques for the deeper bite at 30 to 60 feet has been a mix of soft plastics, and jigs. As we venture further into spring, I'm seeing more bait move up and the umbrella rig and underspin bite is picking back up. In the shallows, they are fish falling for a multitude of baits and techniques, in the shallows, I mostly work stick baits, jigs, and Texas rigged plastics, but for a shallow reaction bite, I've been leaning heavily on rip baits, umbrella rigs, underspins, and a mix of swim or glide baits.”
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “The lake has been very consistent with the exception of Monday, and although we were able to put in good numbers, but nothing over 3.5 pounds. We did land a 4.5-pound spotted bass and a 9.20-pound largemouth at the lake this week, and most of our action has come from 5 to 50 feet with big plastic worms, Senkos, or jigs.”
New Melones has risen to 86 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Pine Flat, Newman said, “The bass bite is pretty good despite lots of tournament activity. The spots are holding along main lake points or vertical walls at depths from 30 to 40 feet with plastics on the drop-shot, Ned-Rig, jigs, or Senkos on a wacky-rig. Jigs are working at all depths, but there hasn’t been much of a pattern. There are bass both chasing bait on the surface as well as eating crawdads on the bottom. There is a lot of debris in the river arm from Trimmer on up, and you have to use extreme caution when boating. The crappie bite is picking up, and it will take off within the next few weeks with the arrival of warm weather. Right now, they are holding above the trees around 30 feet in depth, and with the high-water levels flooding new ground, there is plenty of forage for the crappie to feed upon.”
Kevin Cheek, tournament director for Saturday’s Best Bass Tournaments event, said, “We had 27 teams participating, and finesse techniques on the bottom were the top methods with the bass holding from the banks to 40 feet in depth. Plastics on the split-shot, wacky-rigged Senkos, or jigs were working best when in contact with the bottom. The water temperature in the main lake is 58 degrees, and the water is gin clear. Most boats stayed around Windy Gap and Lefevre Creek with no boats heading up the river arm.” Trout fishing in the lake remains null and void, but the lower Kings River below the dam is solid due to regular planting and increasingly clearing water clarity with Roostertails in gold, white, red, or orange stripe as the trout are seeing the lures. Trout dough bait or salmon eggs are also effective when drifted from the fast water into the deeper holes. The lake rose from 59 to 66 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
San Luis Reservoir has risen to the top at 99 percent, and the flooded coves are providing new locations for success for bank anglers. The topwater and subsurface bite with jerkbaits has slowed with the high water, but the deep-diving plugs along with shad-patterned swimbaits are working for shore anglers.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite remains OK as the water is up, but most of our San Luis anglers are soaking bite, primarily anchovies, right now. The topwater and jerkbait bite has slowed down, but the deep-diving plugs are working.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the bite has been hit or miss with the stripers moving to new areas. “I’ve had to locate new spots and on Monday I was scouting the lake and after 2 hours of looking, I finally found some fish that weren’t suspended and lockjawed. I ended up releasing 13 fish with several 24-inchers, one at 27 inches and another at 30 inches that went about 9 pounds. The fish are in the water column from 40 to 90 feet deep – moving around a lot in the 56-degree water. It wasn’t so much about what baits I was using as it was finding active fish that would bite. It’s a big lake now.” George’s next Downrigging 101 class set for Thursday, April 4 at the Fresno Sportsman’s Warehouse. Limited class size; preregistration is required. The cost is $50. Contact Roger George for info and preregistration.
Travis Porter of Hollister was on the lake on Sunday, and he said, “We were out for a few hours this morning, and the fishing was very slow although we marked plenty of fish from 20 to 40 feet in depth. We had a hard time finding active ones despite scouting several spots, only to pick up four stripers to 24 inches. I heard much better reports from Saturday.”
Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The water is somewhat clear in the big lake in spite of being nearly-filled, and most of our fishermen are working the banks with anchovies. The coves are flooded, and swimbaits or jerkbaits are effective in shad patterns, but the topwater bite has slowed down. There haven’t been many boaters out there, but it seems that most boaters are drifting minnows along the rockwall close to Highway 152.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, Newman said, “The stripers are moving around a lot, but most fishermen are tossing jerkbaits or 5-inch flukes in white or white ices for mostly shakers with the possibility of putting together a limit of legal fish. The California Aqueduct has picked up for stripers with larger jerkbaits or ½-ounce Rat-L-Traps yo-yoed off of the bottom in the evenings. Most fishermen are just parking and staying close to the bridges or headgates as the boils are few and far between. There is a ton of bait in the aqueduct, and the bite should take off with a few good days of weather. Bait fishermen are soaking anchovies, mackerel, or chicken livers.”
San Luis Reservoir is at 98 percent.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0
With the continued cold weather, few anglers have been heading to the lake so there have been few reports. The annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is scheduled for May 4-5, and 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 basslakeca.com/index.php. The lake dropped slightly to 74 percent.
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. The Vermilion Valley Resort at Lake Edison has been inaccessible, even by snowmobile, due to the heavy snow levels, but a flyover by Southern California Edison discovered that the yurt has collapsed. The resort provided the following comment, “Losing the yurt is a blow as so many people loved staying there, but we will replace it and as soon as we can. Mountain life can be harsh and we never know what nature is going to throw our way – part of owning a backcountry resort is knowing that every year something is going to happen.”
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
Cold weather including snow has limited interest in fishing, but during the week, one boat trolled along the shoreline which has recently thawed from the rain. The rainbows have been the primary target, but the bite has been slow for both trollers and the few bank fishermen working the lake. Boaters need to check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp is available at www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. The lake dropped slightly to 52 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 until early April.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat said, “All options for the upcoming ocean salmon season start on April 13th. We will start running local rockfish trips beginning with the April 1st opener, and we can fish in local waters on the opener this year as opposed to running 18 miles south below Pigeon Point. For the remainder of the month, we will run sand dab/petrale sole, and Dungeness crab trips, weather and interest permitting.
In the San Francisco Rockfish Management Area from Point Arena to Pigeon Point including the Half Moon Bay area, rockfish season starts on April 1st with a 10-fish rockfish limit including a total of 3 black rockfish, 2 canary rockfish, and 3 cabezon with a minimum of 15 inches. One ling cod with a 22-inch minimum length is allowed, and the depth restriction is 40 fathoms (240 feet).
The opening of rockfish season will bring back the private and party boats to the Pillar Point Harbor, and the area will come alive again for fishermen.
Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand Dabs 3 Surf Perch 3
Out of Chris’s Fishing Trips, the Caroline took out 21 anglers on Saturday for loads of sand dabs, but the crab were scarce with only 30 Dungeness brought into the box. They are running the combination trips throughout the rest of the month with rockfish trips starting on April 1st. These early trips are already starting to fill up. From the beaches, Chris Arcolleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips said, “Perch fishing has been outstanding, and we are receiving reports that this has been the best perch season in 20 years.”
The 15th Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby along the beaches from San Mateo to Monterey Counties was greeted with rain, wind, and some challenging waves, but this didn’t stop the enthusiasm of the 300 participants who signed up within two days of registration opening in February. Co-organizer Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “The weather and ocean conditions were tough, but as usual some really big fish were brought in to the weighmasters. this was the best sand Crab Classic ever, and next year will be even better!" We had 350 people in attendance at the weigh in, and our 40 volunteers make it happen as we were able to donate $5000 to the Monterey Bay Trout and Salmon Project, and the project’s directors were in attendance and signed up nearly 40 new members at the event.”
The Weigh-In was held at the Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz at 1:00 p.m., and in addition to a nice meal for participants, a silent auction and a raffle was held with donations from numerous organizations.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
Mike Aughney of USA Fishing. com and the Golden Gate Salmon Association said, “From all indicators, this will be the best ocean salmon season in years, and all options from the meetings at the Pacific Fisheries Management Commission have a start day of April 13th.”
Halibut fever is already starting to take off, and the Lovely Martha has been pushing the envelope by trolling in the south bay. They put in 6 keeper halibut along with 11 shakers on a ½ day trip on Saturday. Pretty good for early March!
The weather was less than cooperative in San Pablo Bay on Sunday, and Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond said, “The weather was rough, and we released two shaker sturgeon.”
The closed section of San Francisco Bay for sturgeon due to the herring spawns will be open as of March 16.
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 on April 1st. The landings of Morro Bay Landing and Virgs in Morro Bay along with Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis are taking reservations for a variety of trips ranging from ½ day to two-day trips. Virg’s Landing has posted their prices for the coming rockfish season, and the outstanding two-day trips with meals included are a bargain at $340.00. Two limits are a possibility on these trips to the lightly-harvested grounds north of Morro Bay. A reverse overnight with meals included is $245.00, an overnight is $175.00, full day - $95.00, 3/4th day – 75.00, and half-day- $65.00.
Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The Sacramento-Delta has been deluged with inflow over the past several months, but with the weather finally starting to clear, the Delta from Freeport west to the Carquinez Bridge is set to break loose for sturgeon and striped bass.
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “The bite is ready to break out with a week of sunshine expected. Sturgeon are found along the banks from Freeport towards Rio Vista, but there is still a lot of debris coming down.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Stripers are showing up around Freeport with a 27-inch lineside taken by the bridge with sardines. Bait is necessary right now with either pile worms or sardines with scent working best. The river is still high, but it is clearing. Sturgeon are found here and there around Merritt’s Boat Launch with eel/pile worm combinations. The Sacramento Deep Water Channel is also producing both sturgeon and striped bass.”
Sturgeon fishing is starting to take off, and Captain John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing had a great day this week with two legal sturgeon at 53 and 55 inches for four anglers at the last of the morning outgoing tide. He said, “A couple of months ago, you were looking for fish, no problem finding them now, but it is all about capitalizing on bites since some days you will get two or three while other days, it is 4 to 7 bites. There is lots of fresh water, and the tides are off by more than two hours with the fresh water inflow holding back the incoming tide.”
Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing had an epic day on Monday near the Mothball Fleet with three legal sturgeon for his clients. He said, “The first two trips were a little frustrating as we found nice sturgeon but only small fish wanted to bite. The last two trips they started biting. My people hooked 7 solid sturgeon. They landed 5 keepers and broke 2 off. The water temp is up to 57 degrees, which is good for this time of year. Their metabolism is up so they are fighting and feeding more. Two of the fish had empty stomachs. We been fishing deep water near the Mothball Fleet by the Glomar with eel/pile worm combinations. I had ghost shrimp in the bait box, but everything came on the combinations. We were out for a few hours on Saturday, but the wind made it impossible to fish where we wanted.”
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing said, “We will be ready to roll from next Thursday through the weekend, and our annual Battle of the Six-Packs is scheduled for March 23rd for the Phenix captains. Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing, John McGee of Legal Limits, Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing, and Chris/Jonathan Smith of the Happy Hooker will be participating in this event sponsored by Phenix Rods and Big Red Worm. This trip will fill up fast.”
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, has been targeting sturgeon instead of striped bass right now, but he is looking forward to the upcoming spring run. He said, “We ran all the water down to the Mothball Fleet, and we released a couple of shakers at 38.5 and 33 inches as all we have been landing is undersized fish. There wasn’t much debris out there except some tules, and there was no grass on the bottom. We have our spring striper derby coming up for the Central Valley Anglers out of Brannan Island, and I’m going out to give it a try for trolling. I think it will be a couple of weeks before we see clear water, but when the water clears, the striper bite will be great.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Sturgeon are showing up from Decker Island to Buoy 31 outside of Pittsburg, and Chain Island, Broad Slough, and Montezuma Slough are also producing. Ghost shrimp or pile worms have been the top bait since grass shrimp has been scarce.”
The 8th Annual Purple Heart Anglers Disabled Veterans Fishing Event will take place on Saturday, April 13 at Brannan Island State Recreation Area. This is the largest event each year attracting Disabled Veterans and volunteers from around northern and central California. The organization is always seeking volunteer boat captains, deckhands, setup and clean-up crew, as well as food prep help. To volunteer for this invaluable event, contact Darren Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Largemouth bass fishing is taking center stage in the San Joaquin-Delta, but the high-water levels will be bringing in striped bass as soon as the temperatures warm up. Crappie and bluegill are making an appearance in the south Delta sloughs. The system is still high and muddy, but the water clarity is improving in several locations.
Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors said, “Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits are working right now, and a white on white spinnerbait is something that you have to have on the end of a rod right now. The water is still stained, but it is not ruined with mud now as there are more and more clear areas. The water temperature in the south Delta is 53 degrees, and the bass are right on the ledge and biting on the turn of the tide. Chasing slack water is important as they aren’t eating in the current, but there is a 20-minute window during the turn of the tide. Sea lions are all over the south Delta, and they are chasing the largemouth bass into the tules.” His next circuit tournament is on March 16th out of Russo’s Marina. For striped bass, Mathisen said, “They seem to be making a cameo appearance as linesides to 10 pounds have been taken in Frank’s Tract on either white spinnerbaits or Optimum’s Bad Bubba Shad swimbaits, but they will be gone the next day.”
Sea lions are really becoming a problem for bass fishermen as reports of the marine mammals marauding through the tules have become common. Field scout Neil Simpson of Lodi said, “The bass are moving up into shallow water, and most fishermen were around Mandeville Island and Cut since the water was clearer. We watched the sea lions ripping through the channels and chasing the bass under the primroses. They were coming up with a number of largemouth bass around 5 pounds.”
Kris Huff of Stockton had a great day in the rain this past week, and he said, “Fishing for me lately has been way beyond tough so to finally catch fish was awesome. I targeted pre-spawn flats with swimbaits and chatterbaits, but the water is changing daily. The mud is moving around, making for a lot of dirty water. There is clear water around, but you have to search for it.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “I went into the San Joaquin system this week and caught and released seven bass between 4 and 8 pounds with the majority of bass landed by flipping a black jig, but the big fish came on a chatterbait.”
H and R Bait in Stockton reported good action in Whiskey Slough as sales of red worms have climbed with bank fishermen targeting bluegill for striped bass bait. Fresh shad should be available in the shop within the first few weeks of April.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Lopez Lake was the big story this past weekend with the brother team of Jason and Geno Lazzerini taking the Best Bass Tournaments event with a five-fish limit of 29.33 pounds including a big fish at 7.20 pounds. They were targeting pre-spawn fish, and were culling 4-pound bass throughout the day. Creature baits, big plastic worms, swimbaits, and jigs are working best. The catfish bite is fair at best in deeper water with cut baits or stink baits. The water clarity is decent, and it is better than the neighboring coastal reservoirs. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam. At Nacimiento, the lake continues to rise, and it came up from 73 to 82 percent this week. With the rising water, the spotted bass are scattered at various depths with finesse techniques working best. There have been more and more white bass making an appearance, and lipless crankbaits or Hula Grubs around inflow are working for the whites. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. At Santa Margarita, the lake is still in excess of 100 percent of capacity, and boaters are advised to contact the lake’s ranger station for information on the availability of the single ramp. Bass fishing remains slow with the muddy water, but a few decent largemouth bass have been taken on creature baits or jigs along with plastics on a Texas-rig or drop-shot. Catfishing is another possibility with cutbaits, and there are crappie schools starting to form around submerged structure. webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california. At San Antonio, the lake rose from 34 to 37 percent, and the lake is also stained with debris on the surface. Catfishing remains the best bet with good action with stinkbaits or cut baits around the inflowing creek inlets. Bass fishing remains slow, but a few fish are taken on a very slow presentation with finesse techniques.
Angler’s Press Tournament of Champions: March 8-10 at New Melones/Camanche (three-day limits) – 1, Arbuckle/Hooper, 48.57 pounds; 2, Jacobson/Jacobson, 48.40; 3, Pors/Brazelton, 46.93.
Best Bass Tournaments: March 9 at Pine Flat – 1, Pete Rodriguez/Manuel Martins, 15.7 (Big Fish 4.40); 2, Garrett Bradshaw/Josh Gonzalez, 11.64; 3, Greg Enns/Mike McCrossen, 11.47. March 9 at Lopez – 1, Jason and Geno Lazzerini, 29.33 (Big Fish 7.20); 2, Damon Meeks/Jay Short, 23.57; 3, Derek and Ron Morrison, 22.91.
Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: March 9 at Success – 1, Daniel Moreno/Troy Larsen-Bowlin, 5.48; 2, George Rosales/Ray Grammer, 4.51 (Big Fish 4.51); 3, Bill Kunz/Jerry Williams, 2.05.
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
March 30: Roosevelt High School Bass Fishing Club annual Fishing Tackle Faire club fundraiser, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Boat Shoppe, 2125 Ventura Ave., Fresno. Local tackle manufacturers and the club will be on site selling their baits to the public. Roosevelt coach Mike Spencer will be available to answer questions about the SAF California High School Tournament Trail or how to start a high school fishing club.
Week of March 17 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Tulare County: Kern River section 5
Kern County: Kern River sections 4 and 5, Hart Park Lake
q = quarter moon > = peak activity