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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Quality largemouth bass at Millerton and Pine Flat and Eastman bite continues to improve, Steve Newman said. Rockfishing out of San Luis Obispo is hot, Virg’s Landing and Patriot Sports Fishing reported. Lake Isabella Trout Derby a big success.Solid bass bite at Lake Kaweah, Brad Scott reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
There have been few reports from the upper stretches of the California Aqueduct as most fishermen are heading to the main lake, but Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported ripbaits are working for those casting lures while most anglers are soaking anchovies or sardines. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported striped basin the 19- to 27-inch range are taken on blood worms combined with nightcrawlers, sardines, or anchovies while catfish are also showing up with similar baits including stinkbaits and dipbaits.
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 3 Trout 0 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The largemouth bass bite continues to improve as the water clears and warms up. Dark colors of big plastic 10-inch worms, Brush Hogs, a larger grade of Senko, and wakebaits are working. Anglers are using search baits to locate fish in the river arm, and the action is improving in the mid-50 degree water in the river while the main lake is in the low 60’s. The run off from the inlets has warmed up within the past week. Small bucks are taken in the shallows with spinnerbaits.” The lake rose from 84 to 85 percent.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2 Trout 0 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Newman said, “The bass bite is more consistent than nearby Eastman, although the size of the fish is smaller. There is a good reaction bite with spinnerbaits or small Kei Tech swimbaits along with jigs and Senkos, and the key is to throw your lures at every rock. The bass in the 2- to 3-pound range are eating. Crappie remain slow, but the action for the slabs will improve in the coming weeks.” The lake rose again, from 60 to 64 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
The first annual Reel In for Kid’s Event was held on Sunday at the Flemings Meadow launch ramp area at Don Pedro, and the event director, Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “ We had 35 boats help out, and we were able to accommodate all 93 youth participants and their families. We had great support from the Cen Cal Elite Bass Club from the Visalia/Porterville area who assisted with the event along with many, many boaters who came out and donated their time, boats, tackle, rods, and knowledge for the children. In addition to the Cen Cal Elite, Mother Lode Kayak Anglers, Stage Stop Gun Shop in Atwater, and Fatty’s Worms assisted with the event. After the 3 hours of fishing, a BBQ was held along with a raffle and awards ceremony. This was very successful, and we look forward to getting even bigger and better next year.” Cook said, “The bite is all over the boat as there are some bass chasing bait and taken on topwater lures while others are still in pre-spawn mode and holding in deeper water. Catching numbers is not a problem, but the size has been limited.”
The Best Bass Tournaments arrived at Don Pedro this past Saturday with 63 teams, only to find tough conditions for the bigger grade of bass. Out of the 63 boats, there were only two teams that topped 20 pounds during the BBT event with another 6 over 15 pounds. There were two big bass over 7 pounds from all of the teams.
Also at Pedro for trout and kokanee, Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported tough conditions for trolling before finding a key later in the day. He said, “After finding good action last week, the trout didn’t seem to want to bite, but we picked up our first rainbow at 35 feet on kokanee gear, and later, we switched over to spoons at 20 feet, and the trout started biting. It was the strangest thing I have seen. The deeper fish wanted a slower presentation, but the trout at 20 feet wanted it faster. We ended up with 6 rainbows and lost a kokanee at the boat.”
Don Pedro is releasing water, and it is currently at 81 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 3 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby was a big success with participants lining the banks throughout the reservoir. Power Bait with garlic in various colors produced the majority of planted rainbows along with Berkley’s Mice Tails, nightcrawlers, and spinners. Crappie are still found in the South Fork with small minnows or minijigs, and they are moving into the trees. The lake held at 40 percent. The upper river will be flowing high as the snow pack begins to melt.
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Trout 0 Catfish 2
Brad Scott of Visalia reported, “I took my brother and his friend Jordan from Visalia to the lake this week, and Jordan landed his personal best at 12.75 pounds on a chatterbait in the afternoon. This huge fish had already spawned, and it must have eaten a duck or a bird since there was something hard in her stomach. I can only imagine what she would have weighed if the eggs were still in her body. Fishing towards the river is catching fire as we must have caught 60 bass ranging from shakers to 7 pounds. The lighter the fall, the better you are as the biggest bass came on a 68 Special Huddleston. I let it sit there for 12 minutes. The crazy part is that I had one break me off on 12-pound P Line and another on 6-pound P-Line fluorocarbon. The one I lost on the 12-pound test was the largest I have seen in 10 years.” The lake rose from 20 to 32 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “Bass fishing was a bit slower this week, but a few anglers had good luck with swimbaits or soft plastics on the backside of the lake in the trees. Crappie fishing has been fair on jigs. Carp are still slurping the water.” The lake is filling up despite water releases, and it has risen from 53 to 58 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “I fished the river with dry flies on a high water flow, and was able to stick a few. With the warmer temperatures, the snow will melt off, and it will be a while before the river is at an awesome fishing level.”
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville gives 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 0 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 3 Catfish 3
McClure remains a better option for a larger cut of bass as Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “McClure has been the best lake for size compared to Don Pedro, and Paul Arias of Visalia landed a 10-pound largemouth on a swimbait this week. The action is red hot with underspins or creature baits in 4 to 6 inches, and the topwater and glide bait bite is starting to kick off. The key is to stay shallow and cover water since that is where the big girls are staging.” Crappie have been found with minijigs over submerged trees. The marina at Barrett Cove is open for the summer. The lake held at 66 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Recreation Company said, “Trout fishing is decent from the shore areas of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and near the café with silver/blue Kastmasters, Roostertails, white Power Eggs, white trout dough bait. The majority of rainbows taken are in the 1- to 1.5-pound range up to 5 pounds. Another trout plant is anticipated within the coming days.”
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 3
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Quality largemouth bass to 4.5 pounds are taken on topwater lures or plugs while jigs or plastics on the shakey-head are working at depths from 15 to 20 feet in the transition areas. Ned-rigs along the jerkbaits are another option for bass, and there are aggressive males hitting the lures. The action is solid in both the main lake to upriver. There is a good crappie bite in the submerged trees along the shorelines, and the area along Ramp 1 is easily accessible for shore anglers. No striped bass reports.” The lake dropped from 60 to 55 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Trout 1 Kokanee 1
Largemouth and spotted bass action is very good with the fish migrating from 2 to 6 feet along the banks when the wind is blowing hard before pulling back to the 15 to 25-foot level when it is calm. Plastics on a shakey-head, Alabama rigs, and topwater lures are all producing with the greatest numbers on the shakey head. John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service put his client 121 bass to 5.5 pounds over two days this past week. Crappie are moving into structure as the lake is releasing water, and it dropped to 82 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 1 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Newman said, “The spotted and largemouth bass bite has been outstanding with the better cut of fish found from Trimmer to Windy Gap with underspins, walking baits, topwater poppers, 3- to 3.5-inch Kei Tech swimbaits, or spinnerbaits. Finding the shad balls are the key as the bass are feeding heavily on shad. There are bed fish in deeper water around Lefevre Creek with plastics on the drop-shot, Senkos, or jigs at depths from 15 to 30 feet. The largemouth bass that aren’t bedding are roaming around in pre-spawn mode, looking to eat. There have been several double-digit largemouth bass caught and released within the past two weeks. Small males are abundant along the banks with Senkos or jigs. The crappie bite is improving, and it will continue to improve as more and more structure is flooded and the water temperatures rise.”
Trout trolling continues to be slow, but the lower Kings River continues to kick out planters on salmon eggs. The water is a bit dirty as the flows have increased. Kastmasters in gold, silver or white are working in the deeper pools. Water releases have increased flows in the lower Kings River below the dam, and the river is slightly stained. The lake rose slightly to 54 percent despite water releases.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
San Luis Reservoir remains nearly filled, and with the short walk to the shoreline, anglers are working the coves along Portuguese Cove and Dinosaur Point.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There have been a number of anglers coming in who are using 5- to 6-inch jerkbaits from the shorelines, and white with foil, chartreuse shad, or anything with a chartreuse line are the most popular. The topwater bite hasn’t taken off yet at the shad are staying down and being chased into the points without rising to the surface. There haven’t been many boils, and the stripers are pining the bait to the shorelines. 7-inch flukes are also working in white or white/ice. Dinosaur Point and the Romero Visitor Center have been good locations, and many anglers are soaking bait with one rod while casting the other rod. Sales of wire-based umbrella rigs in all colors of shad-imitation swimbaits has also been increasing.”
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “A lot of our anglers are heading to the main lake as they are starting to find some larger striped bass deep into Portuguese Cove, the mouth of Portuguese, and the coves to the left of Dinosaur Point. Live jumbo minnows and anchovies are working best.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said, “The bite hasn’t been easy but he’s been doing well. I fished with my buddy Andy Bedell from Watsonville on a fun scouting trip last Friday. We ended up with 31 released fish, most from 21 to 25 inches and up to 7 pounds, trolling Lucky Crafts at 40 to 80 feet, and the Romero and Portuguese areas seem to hold the most fish – but falling water can change that soon.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements reported a smaller grade of striped bass from 8 to 21 inches are plentiful, and this is a good place to take children to soak a cut anchovy for multiple opportunities.
San Luis dropped slightly to 96 percent.
George is doing his Downrigging 101 class on April 25 at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno at 6 p.m. Preregistration is required for the limited-seating class and the cost is $50. Call George at 905-2954 for preregistration.
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 3
For the first time in the past several years since the dam reconstruction, there is a viable kokanee population in Bass Lake. Along with the kokanee, rainbow trout to 19 inches have also been found recently, and the fish remain high in the water column.
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service has been working the lake for the past few weeks, and he said, “It was better on Sunday after being slower for the previous two days. Both trout and kokanee are in the top 20 feet with most action at 12- to 16-feet. The kokanee have been up to 14 inches, and we took in rainbows at 18 and 19 inches this past week. The kokanee are still scattered, and the schools are not formed as of yet. It is difficult to land them when they are this shallow in the water column as you have to use a long set back away from the motor. The kokanee are hot, and they are jumping out of the water and rolling. I have been scoring with the Tasmanian Devil spoon for both rainbow and kokanee, and the Smashing Pumpkin and Fire Tiger are both effective. The Rocky Mountain Tackle orange squid behind a 5.5-inch watermelon dodger is also working for kokanee.”
The presence of kokanee in Bass Lake is a welcome sight after several years of limited to no action after the dam reconstruction. Bass Lake has traditionally been a sleeper lake for kokanee, holding fish over 18 inches in the past.
The annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is May 4-5, and there are three grand prize rainbows with two at $10,000 and one at $5,000 along with 150 trout worth $100 each and 847 trout worth $20 each. Registration is $25, $15 for children under 15 and $10 each additional child. The derby will take place regardless of weather. Information: Michelle Miller 559-642-3633 or basslakechamber.com/fishing-derby.
The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is enforced on a year-round basis now. A webcam of the lake is available at basslakeca.com/index.php.
Edison is at 11 percent, Florence at 2 percent, and Mammoth Pool is over capacity at 102 percent.
Snow in the high country slowed down any interest in fishing in the Kaiser Pass region or the difficult-to-reach high country as the road is closed for the winter. Check the Caltrans website at 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.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 3 Trout 3
The water level remains low at Shaver Lake, but the trout and kokanee bite is solid for trollers pulling a variety of gear. The lake will rise to over 50 percent by May 1st. Trophy-sized rainbow trout continue to be taken from the shoreline, and the first of two plants from the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project with occur within the next few weeks.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters is planning on starting his charter business back on a full-time basis on May 1st out of the Sierra Marina before moving over to the Shaver Lake Marina once the water level rises enough to bring the marina into the Edison Cove. He said, “Kokanee action continued to be good this week, but the action has dropped from 17 to 22 feet. A friend and his grandson found a good bite at 22 feet, and they marked a number of fish along the way after finding their best action last week at 17 feet. They are trolling the stretch from the dam to Road 2 with pink hoochies behind a dodger. Both grandfather and grandson caught and released multiple limits. Jerad and Manuel Romero from Clovis put in limit of kokanee from the Point to Road 2 and over to the island with pink hoochies behind a dodger from 10 to 20 feet. A few trophy trout are also taken by trollers in the same area as the kokanee with the largest rainbow this week at 6.5 pounds. Wayne Parrish of Fresno landed a 6.5-pound rainbow flatlining a Brad’s Kokanee Cut Plug behind a Rocky Mountain Tackle pink/white dodger. Green glitter trout dough bait is also working for shore anglers for the occasional trophy rainbow. More boats are making the trek to Shaver to fish, and I think they are doing well.”
Two more trophy trout plants are scheduled in the coming months April to June funded by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project in addition to plants of small golden and brown trout into the lake by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Shaver is currently at 47 percent, and Southern California Edison has announced that the lake will be at 51 percent on May 1 as they are keeping a close eye on the heavy snowpack in the watershed approaching nearly 200 percent of normal.
Boaters should check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp at sierramarina.com/camera.html.
Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Tom Oliveira Fishing 802-8072; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937
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
Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 1 White sea bass 0 Crab 0 Surf Perch 3
The long-anticipated salmon opener on the San Mateo coastline north of Pigeon Point attracted the majority of the Bay Area Fleet along with the regular party and private boaters out of Half Moon Bay. As of mid-afternoon on the opening day, scores ranged from two to three limits for certain private boats to a fish per rod on the six-packs and up to a dozen salmon on the party boats.
Clara Ricabal of Angler West TV was out on the opener on the six-pack, Pacific Fishing Alliance, with Captain Ross Corbett, and she struck pay dirt within the first hour of trolling with a quality 18-pound salmon. She reported a fish per rod for their anglers by mid-afternoon and finished up with her first limit of 2019 later in the afternoon. The majority of private and party boats were south of the harbor at the Deep Reef, and Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete was among them. He said, “ We have six fish in the box for 14 anglers, and we have also released a number of 20- to 23-inch undersized shakers. The water is green which is not particularly what we are looking for while targeting salmon, and our fish were loaded with some nice-sized anchovies. There were a couple of private boats with early limits. The Bay Area boats came down and looked for sign all the way down the coast, but nearly all of the action is at the Deep Reef. We are running for salmon seven days per week with Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing as our booking agent.”
Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady was also out in the early afternoon after a morning whale watch trip, and he said, “We haven’t wet a line yet, but we are headed south to the Deep Reef with my two deckhands. I will be running out of Half Moon Bay until the April 28th when I return to our home port of Sausalito. The high boat so far seems to be Captain Jimmy Robertson on the Outer Limits with nearly 20 salmon. There are a number of undersized fish that have been reported, and these will be legal fish over the 20-inch minimum when the size limit changes from 24 inches later in the season.”
Huli Cat went salmon fishing off of Deep Reef with the Yerba Buena Anglers Fishing Club on Sunday, but they experienced a slow bite for 5 salmon to 7 pounds for 19 passengers along with a shaker. The Huli Cat pulled the crab pots up on Monday as the crab season has been closed due to the gray whale migration and entanglement into the crab pots. They returned with limits of rockfish and crab for 8 anglers and will focus on rockfish/ling cod or salmon in the coming months.
Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete had a better day with 6 salmon for 10 anglers, and he said, “The San Francisco boats were also down here with us at the Deep Reef, 8 miles southwest of the harbor. There is green water with some anchovies around, but not huge amounts.”
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat took rockfish/crab combination trips over the weekend, returning with 18 limits of crab and near limits of rockfish on both days fishing south outside of San Gregorio. Monday’s trip went to the Deep Reef for 14 limits of rockfish and Dungeness crab.
Salmon 2 Rockfish 4 Striper 2 White sea bass 0 Crab 0 Sand Dabs 3 Surf Perch 3
Chris Arcolleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips reported the wind was the limiting factor on Thursday as he was confident that salmon limits would have been the story. He said, “The northwest came in and so did the bait and salmon. There are a lot of salmon out there as we put in 19 salmon for 12 anglers within three hours as the wind came up, and the boat was back in by 11:00 a.m. I am certain that we would easily have posted limits, and we weren’t even were the bulk of the fish were as boats on the Soquel side did very well. We were out in front of Moss Landing with around 20 other boats, and it was calm in the morning before the wind came up to between 30 and 35 knots. The weekend is full, and we have switched our rockfish boat over to salmon since we do not want to go around the point in this weather.”
The salmon bite was much slower on Sunday with the Check Mate posted 4 salmon for 17 rods in the Moss Landing area. All of these boats are mooching.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported a good striper bite off of the beaches at Manressa and Sunset with Joe Bagg’s jerkbaits as well as Lucky Craft Flash Minnows.
San Francisco Bay
Salmon 2 Albacore 0 Halibut 2 Striper 4 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 0
Rockfishing remains good for the few boats targeting bottomfish, and the Sea Wolf out of Emeryville posted 3/4th limits of rockfish and 8 lings on Saturday for 23 anglers on their first coastal rockfish trip of the season as the weather conditions were not optimal for a run to the Farallon Island. The party boats that ventured all the way south along the San Mateo coast came back with a half-fish to a fish per rod.
After Captain Chris Smith of the new boat, Pacific Dream, out of Berkeley Marina put in 22 limits on Thursday in the South Bay, it has been ballistic for stripers with nearly every party boat in the fleet loading up with early limits near the Alameda Rockwall and the Oakland Airport. The stripers have been very active and busting on the surface. It will be interesting to see if these fish have spawned out already, and that is my question since there should be more and more arriving in the Delta by now. Everything says that the run is late, and with the Sacramento River high, it is difficult to get an assessment on where the stripers are. Normally, the stripers will be back on the rocks in the central bay loading up on bait by mid-June.
The party boats will stay on the stripers until they move, and this is where most of the boats went on Sunday after a long run for salmon to the Deep Reef on the opener.
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish 4 Surf perch 3
Rockfish season is in its third week, and limits to near-limits have been the rule on full day trips with less than limits on half-day ventures. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis, the Patriot, Phenix, and Flying Fish were out on Monday with a combined 48 anglers for 226 vermilion, 63 assorted rockfish, 109 copper, 35 Boccaccio, 5 flat, and 22 canary rockfish to go with 9 ling cod to 10 pounds along with 22 Dungeness crab on the Patriot. Out of Morro Bay, the Endeavor out of Morro Bay Landing was out on Monday on a ½-day trip with 28 anglers for 260 vermilion, 10 Boccaccio, and 10 assorted rockfish. The Fiesta, Rita G and Black Pearl out of Virg’s Landing took out 87 fishermen on Sunday for a combined 459 vermilion, 158 assorted, 96 copper, 20 canary, and 50 Boccaccio to go with 6 lings to 10 pounds. Dale Carlton of Porterville took one jackpot with a 7.5-pound ling. All ports are running a variety of trips in the coming weeks for rockfish/ling cod including overnight trips.
Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 0
The wind was the big story of the past week as heavy gusts dominated the middle of the week before subsiding for a few days only to return on the weekends. The wind has made it difficult to anchor in the main river, and most sturgeon fishermen are holding out in the sloughs.
Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing out of Martinez reported very, very good sturgeon fishing near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge as they boated two slot-limit sturgeon at 47 and 42 inches on the incoming tide along with two striped bass at 27 and 28 inches on eel or grass shrimp. He said, “We have had a lot of action with up to 9 sturgeon during the week with two keepers at 52 inches along with a 73-inch oversized and some shakers close to the 40-inch mark. This has been the best action of the season for far, and the action will continue for several more weeks although we will be heading to San Francisco once live bait is available.”
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was fighting the wind on Sunday at the mouth of Grizzly Bay at Montezuma Slough, and they lost two slot-limit or over sturgeon within minutes after Justin Krueger of Concord landed a 44-inch slot-limit diamondback on salmon roe. The wind played havoc for Mitchell again on Thursday as it was hard to keep straight on the anchor, and he was still out at 6:30 p.m. in order to put his clients onto a sturgeon. He said, “We marked plenty of sturgeon in the Little Cut and at the Fleet, but the combination of the wind against the outgoing tide may it impossible to keep the boat straight. I waited until the first push of the incoming tide to allow the tide and the wind to work together, and my hunch was correct as I knew the fish would have to feed sometime. My clients Cheryl Jones and Charlie McNabb landed a 53.5-inch sturgeon as she hooked it and passed the rod onto Charlie for his first legal sturgeon. I was in the sloughs earlier in the day to get out of the wind, but the numbers of sturgeon weren’t there.”
Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing had a spectacular morning on Friday with four slot-limit sturgeon within a half-hour in the morning in Suisun Slough, but it was a different story on Sunday with several missed opportunities.
Tony Lopez at Benicia Bay said, “There have been some huge sturgeon released in the Carquinez Straits off of Eckley Pier in Crockett, and the number of oversized sturgeon has been impressive. We have been very busy in order to keep up to demand as we blew through 13 boxes of pile worms from Thursday to Saturday before getting in five more boxes. These are huge pile worms, and Curtis Hayes, our owner, has a sweet spot for grass shrimp, and he is bringing in from 20 to 30 pounds of quality shrimp.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The water is clearing up in the north Delta, and striper fishing has been good around Freeport with pile worms, blood worms, or sardines coated with garlic spray. An occasional sturgeon is taken by striper fishermen. The water is still flowing, but the clarity has improved. The upper Mokelumne has been very good for striped bass with jumbo minnows on a 3-way leader with a 1 to 2-ounce torpedo sinker. The upper river is clear and trollable now.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “There are stripers all over, but they are late. The water in the Mokelumne River is high from releases from Lake Camanche and it is pushing hard. I went into Liberty Island this week for good action for largemouth bass with chatterbaits and Senkos before heading over into the Mokelumne River to flip for bass.”
The northwest wind roared in like a lion during the second week of April, but the largemouth and striped bass are still biting if you were able to work around the gusty conditions. Muddy water has been a problem around the mouth of the Mokelumne River and the San Joaquin as the surge through Georgiana Slough from the Sacramento River has affected the water clarity.
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, has been launching out of Ladd’s Marina in Stockton and working the east/west banks where the winds blow over the top of the levee. He said, “I had out two lawyers who work together from Los Angeles and Texas, and they put together a 30-pound limit with a big fish over 7 pounds. He said, “Right now, there are small windows at the right time of the tide, and you have to work with this window to get the fish to go. A number of anglers have been crying the blues, but there are bass to be had with the right presentation and conditions. We have been scoring with the General which is a heavy worm along with the large Power Worm. The wind has been brutal, and there were 4 to 5-foot rollers reported on Frank’s Tract on Wednesday.”
The Purple Heart Veterans Derby was held on Saturday out of Brannan Island, and 31 boats took out 71 veterans for an outing followed by a BBQ in the parking lot. Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service said, “The striper bite has been inconsistent with two or three days of good action followed by two or three days of slow action. We only landed six stripers during the derby, and Sunday was even slower with only three stripers along we lost a very big fish right at the start. The bite has really slowed down, but it was phenomenal earlier in the week as we released a 15-pound striper while keeping linesides at 8, 7, and 5 pounds.” Netzel will be working out of Korth’s Pirate’s Lair until mid-May.
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, also took veterans out during the derby, and he reported a decent day trolling deep-diving lures for stripers at 10, 8, and 7 pounds along with a 21-inch lineside. He said, “It was all deep on Saturday after during the previous few days, a new school of stripers moved in, and we were able to score with the shallow-diving P-Line Angry Eye Minnows from Lauritzen’s Yacht Harbor in Oakley upriver.”
J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing found tough action on both Saturday and Sunday in the San Joaquin system with topwater and swimbaits. He said, “We had a 2 boat party on Sunday after a 3 boat party on Saturday, and there is a lot of boat traffic on the river, and it is getting muddier by the day with the water coming out of Georgiana Slough from the Sacramento River. It was even muddy at Tower Park on the lower Mokelumne on the incoming tide. It has been a struggle the past two days after really good action last week.”
Nelson Vineyard of TopLine Sport Fishing found some quality stripers for his clients trolling in the San Joaquin River with a 13-pound lineside taken by L.J. Lockwood of Marysville on a P-Line Predator Minnow.
Fresh shad is available in limited supplies in Delta-area bait shops.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 3 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, action for both white and spotted bass has been outstanding with spots to 2.5 pounds and white bass to 1.5 pounds. The whites are in the river arms and taken with a variety of offerings including white Kastmasters or Roostertails. There is a reaction bite with various types of lures in the shallows for the spots, and if the reaction bite is off, plastics on the drop-shot are also effective. Crappie are found in the trees with minijigs. The water clarity continues to improve, but there is a wide variance in water temperature from the river inlets to the main lake at 62 to 68 degrees. The lake held at 86 percent this week.
At San Antonio, the lake held 40 percent, and the lake is only open on weekends until at least May 1. Catfish remain the best option with scented cut baits or nightcrawlers on a fly-line or a minimal weight. Bass fishing remains very slow as well as panfish.
At Lopez Lake, the cut of largemouth bass is the best in the coastal lakes, and the fish are moving into the shallows. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and jigs are all working for quality largemouth bass. Catfishing is improving with cut baits or stinkbaits, and panfish are getting active with meal worms, wax worms, or red worms.
At Santa Margarita, similar to Lopez, the largemouth bass are moving into the shallows, and reaction baits are working for an overall smaller grade of largemouth bass. The high-water levels have made for difficult conditions for the largemouth bass desiring to spawn. Boaters are advised to contact the lake’s ranger station at 805-788-2397 for information on the availability of the single ramp. Crappie are taken on minijigs or small crankbaits in the shallows around structure, and bluegill are taken on red worms.
Ocean, Delta, Kern and Central Coast
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports
Wild West Bass Trails: April 13 at Delta/Russo’s Marina (7 Fish Limits) – 1, Dennis Sisto/Timothy Rhyme, 32.96 pounds; 2, Gerry Johnson/Dave Homen, 28.43; 3, Nicholas Cloutier/Joey Skym, 26.29.
Best Bass Tournaments: April 13 at Don Pedro – 1, Kevin Nunes/Scott Taylor, 22.86; 2, Rich and Ron Ingram, 22.56; 3, Christian Ostrander/Ronnie Heil, 19.68.
Kokanee Power Member Appreciation Kokanee Derby: April 13 at Lake Pardee (3 Fish Limits) – 1, Ron Lemos and team, 77.9 ounces; 2, Matt Till and team, 75.4; 3, Dale Gibbons and team, 71.3.
Fresno Bass Club: April 14 at Tulloch – 1, Bill Kunz, 19.33 pounds (Big Fish 7.77); 2, Ron Red, 16.65; 3, Jose Guzman, 14.16.
Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby: April 13-15 at Isabella– Men’s Division, 1, Ramon Anzaldo, 25.375 inches; 2, Ryan Crawford, 24.25; 3, Jeremy Hill Jr., 23.5. Women’s Division, 1, Heidi Hodge, 23.75; 2, Julie Akin, 20.375; 3, Laura Valdez, 20. Youth, 1, Ryleigh Nuno, 22.5; 2, Jonathan Heu, 22.175; 3, Gloria Brand, 22.
April 19: New Melones – Bronco Wine Company, Don Pedro – E and J Gallo
April 20: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Best Bass Tournaments, Tulloch – Kerman Bass Club, Don Pedro – American Bass Association, McClure – Merced Bass Club, Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Santa Margarita – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambusher
April 23: Eastman – Mid-Valley Bass Club
April 27-28: Don Pedro – Bakersfield Bass Club, Millerton – American Bass Association
April 27: Delta/B and W Resort – Bass Anglers of Northern California, Don Pedro – Christian Bass League, McClure – Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Departments, Isabella – American Bass Association, Santa Margarita – 805 Kayak Fishing Club
April 28: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation, Pine Flat – Kings River Bass Club, Bass Lake – Bass 101
Week of April 21 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Fresno County: Hume Lake, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Wishon Reservoir
f = full moon > = peak activity