Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
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Delta bass, stripers and shad hitting, Alan Fong said. Southern Aqueduct stripers active, Isabella crappie on a tear, Pete Cormier reported. Success bass in the shallows, Chuck Stokke said. McClure, Millerton and Pine Flat bass bites good, Merritt Gilbert reported. New Melones bass eating, John Liechty said. Bass Lake trout and kokanee action going, Todd Wittwer said. Shaver Lake trophy trout enticing anglers, Dick Nichols reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3 Catfish 2
There still isn’t very much going on in the northern section of the California Aqueduct as most striper fishermen are heading to the main San Luis Reservoir to throw topwater lures or jerkbaits off of the banks. The water movement is ramping up with releases out of San Luis, and the action should improve in the coming months. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported continued excellent striped bass fishing with 7-inch Magnum flukes in white or white ice along with blood worms, sardines, jumbo minnows, and jerkbaits. Catfishing is also decent with mackerel, sardines, or live crickets.
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
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The largemouth bass bite is good for some and a struggle for others while the bigger largemouth bass are elusive. Smaller buck bass in the 11- to 13-inch range are all over the banks, but the best fish are way up in the river arm where the water is clearest. Most anglers are only picking up a bass or two for their efforts. The crappie bite has yet to emerge.” The lake rose from 86 to 87 percent.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
At Hensley, Gilbert said, “There have been more 2-pound bass landed at Hensley right now than at Eastman, and chatterbaits or spinnerbaits are working best along with lizards on a Carolina- or Texas-rig. A small grade of crappie are showing up around the submerged buck brush, and the 12- to 13-inch bass are numerous.” The lake rose slightly from 65 to 66 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
The bass bite continues to be inconsistent with a tough overall bite with the best action on finesse techniques. There is some good news on the kokanee front, and Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “These are the cleanest kokanee that I have ever seen at Don Pedro with no copepods in their gill plates.” The kokanee and rainbows are found in a narrow band between 25 and 35 feet in depth with ExCel spoons behind a Sling Blade dodger at under 2 mph on the troll. However, finding a consistent pattern has been a challenge for both rainbows and kokanee. Six boats can launch at a time at Fleming Meadows right now, and it is a short walk to the ramp from the parking lot with the lake rising from 80 to 82 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 3 Trout 2 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported the crappie bite continues to draw fishermen from all over the state with a number of Fresno-area anglers heading down for limits to near-limits of slabs. People are coming from as far away as Sacramento or Los Angeles, and the bank action is just as good as from a boat with minijigs or small to medium minnows. The bass have moved into shallow water, and deep-diving crankbaits like Norman’s DD 22s at depths are working around 15 feet. The lake rose from 41 to 47 percent. The upper river is blown out with the snowmelt, but the lower river flows have slowed as most water is being held behind the dam. Buena Vista is starting to kick out bluegill, crappie, and bass along with a few holdover rainbow trout.
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The bass bite continues to improve as the fish are in all stages of spawning, and there should be some heavy weights brought into the scales in the upcoming tournaments including the Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments this coming weekend. The lake is rising dramatically, pushing the fish off of the banks into deeper water. The largest grade of largemouth bass can be taken on a swimbait rolled slowly along the bottom, but numbers are found on plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. The lake rose from 45 to 68 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “The bass are definitely getting ready to get on beds, and the lake is full at 76 percent. The bass are in the shallows, especially up in the submerged trees, and Senkos on a wacky-rig seems to be the most effective style.” In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The Tule is currently blown out, but with the high water, it looks like this is going to be an awesome year on the river.”
Stokke 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 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Lake McClure has been the bright spot in the Mother Lode for numbers of spotted bass, but the size has diminished within the past few weeks.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service participated in the Saturday’s Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Fighters fundraising tournament, and he and his partner, octogenarian Don Longton, took second place with 13.91 pounds. He said, “We must have landed 120 bass with the largest around 2.5 pounds, and everything was on topwater lures such as the River2Sea Rover or the Super Spook. The lake is coming up quickly, and the bass are chasing the bluegill or shad fry into the shoreline and also into rocky structure. We are working the shad boils with the topwater lures, and the bite has been excellent for this grade of fish.”
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits was also a participant in this derby, and he had a similar report with numbers of 1 to 1.5-pound bass, but the quality is lacking. He said, “We must have had 25 blowups on topwater lures in the morning with the River2Sea Rovers, but the fish were just slapping at the lures, knocking it 3 or 4 feet in the air. We weighed in three on the Rover with two more on the drop-shot. The lake is coming up, and the fish are all found at depths from 5 to 30 feet. The Berserk’s Sprayed Grass jigs has also been effective for numbers.”
McClure rose from 66 to 69 percent.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008
Steve Marquette of the Lake McSwain/McClure Recreation Company reported planted rainbow trout in the 1- to 2-pound range are being taken from the banks around the Café with nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations, Power Bait in garlic, or Kastmasters in silver/blue or gold along with Roostertail spinners. A trout plant is anticipated in the coming weeks, but the best action occurs immediately after the plant. The campgrounds have been full over the weekends.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The lake is releasing water, but they aren’t running the water down the San Joaquin River as it is diverted to the Friant/Kern Canal and the Madera Canal. With the lake dropping up to 1.5 feet per day, the bass have moved off of the banks in the river arm, but the bite remains good. Ripbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits, and spinnerbaits are all working along with dragging Hula Grubs or lizards on a Carolina-rig. There is a decent crappie bite in Squaw and Winchell’s Cove, but most of our crappie fishermen are heading to the coast at Nacimiento or south to Lake Isabella. The lake rose to 57 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 3 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
Bass action continues to come to life at New Melones, and the topwater bite has started to pick up speed.
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service was on the lake five days over the past week, and he said, “Bass fishing has been great, and the topwater bite is picking up steam. It is not as wide open as I would like as there are a few areas that still aren’t producing, but we have been scoring a number of blow ups with Lucky Craft Whopper Ploppers. Walk-the-dog style of lures such as a Spook are much more effective, but you have to master the technique in order to get bite. It takes some time to properly move the lure from side-to-side, but if you are able to work the lure, the percentage of blow ups increasing exponentially. My client was throwing the Whopper Plopper, and he was getting struck about 1 out of 5 casts which is a pretty good ratio. I was working a Spook, and I either landed a spotted bass or got a blow up on 25 straight casts. The bass are just wanting this type of retrieve, and they are whacking it. Once the topwater bite dies, we move out deeper to nothing more than 30 feet, and Senkos or plastics on the drop-shot are working best as the shakey head bite has slowed down. Wacky-rigging the Senkos is working best, and the majority of bass are spawned out. We landed a 4.5-pound bass this week that was long, but it would have been over 5 pounds before the spawn.”
With the rising water temperatures, crappie are becoming active around submerged structure with minijigs or small to medium minnows, and the catfish are moving into the shallows with the best action at night.
New Melones continues to release water, and it has dropped to 80 percent.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The low elevation lakes of Pine Flat and Millerton remain solid for spotted bass despite Pine Flat rising and Millerton dropping quickly.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Pine Flat is coming up rapidly, and the bass action is best from Windy Gap up with reaction lures. There is a topwater bite early and late, and a spinnerbait bite when the wind is blowing. I would expect a 15/16-pound limit to be necessary to take Saturday’s American Bass Association tournament, and most anglers are working the river arm. The water is coming up, and boaters are launching at Trimmer instead of Deer Creek to get closer to the river. Chatterbaits, ripbaits, and umbrella rigs are also working. The crappie bite is best around Sycamore and Big Creeks along with Trimmer, and the bite is not wide open for numbers, but there are some larger slabs.”
In the lower Kings, water releases have brought the river up, but planting continues on a regular basis. Fewer anglers are working the high water, and planters are taken on Kastmasters in gold, silver or white in the deeper pools along with salmon eggs or nightcrawlers. The lake rose from 56 to 63 percent.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
Shore fishermen are tossing ripbaits or topwater lures at first light to around 10 a.m. or from 6 p.m. to dark, but the size of the stripers have been on the small side. The lake is dropping water, and a few boats are drifting jumbo minnows or dead anchovies around the Trash Racks or in Portuguese Cove. Trolling is also best in these areas at depths to 80 feet with jerkbaits or with umbrella rigs. Water releases have increased, and the lake dropped to 88 percent.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that he fished with Marco Vuicich of Fresno on Friday and the bite was slow early, until he found a group of active fish in the main lake holding at 50 to 70 feet. “We ended up with over 25 nice quality stripers, most in the 21-25 inch range trolling Lucky Crafts in minnow colors again. We also got an 8.5-pound and an 11.5-pound striper – both very fat fish we released – and Marco lost another fish that was bigger. I’m hearing about skinnier fish but I’m finding that the troll fish are bigger and heftier for some reason. The water temps are up to around 66 to as high as 68 degrees and the algae is beginning to take off. The fish are moving to new areas since the water is now down 20 feet from the top and I’ve had to look around for the fish. Lots of trollers are not doing very well so far with the moving, scattered fish. Guys are also telling me the jerkbait bite has been good early. There have been some bad wind days; the one to watch out for is the one coming out of the nNorthwest from Dinosaur. May is wind month.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, finding the schools of striped bass is the key for those throwing jerkbaits along with topwater lures when the stripers are pushing up shad. Cut baits such as anchovies are working along with jumbo minnows in the moving water near Check 12 or around the Highway 152 Bridge. There is water pumping in and out of the small reservoir both into the main lake and out into the California Aqueduct as the main lake has been dropping in elevation over the past three weeks.
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 3
The annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is scheduled for May 4-5, and there are two grand prizes of $10,000 along with one at $5,000 for the tagged fish along with a number of other tags for a total of $55,000 in prize money. There will be 847 fish worth $20 and 150 worth $100. Registration is priced at $25 for entrants 16 and older, $15 for children 16 and younger and $10 for each additional child after that. Registration is available at BassLakeChamber.com or through Michelle Miller at 642-3633 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service found good action prior to Sunday with up to 16 kokanee to 14.5 inches and three rainbow trout on Saturday. Wittwer said, “We have been trolling in front of Miller’s Landing, and the fish are in the top 20 feet. We lost another 20 kokanee as they are jumping and twisting when being hooked so we switched to the smaller pink/purple Rocky Mountain Tackle Tsunami dodger in front of a pink Radical Glow Tube or pink or purple Cotton Candy Plankton Super Squid. We have been getting plenty of hits on the larger 5.5-inch pink Moonshine dodger, but we have been losing around half of them. The landing ratio came up to around 75 percent with the smaller dodger. Trout fishing has been best north of the Forks Resort, and my partner, Mike Beighey, has been finding good action with MAG Tackle’s gear. Sunday was a different story with only two kokanee.”
Wittwer will be moving his operation to Shaver Lake by May 1 for the remainder of the summer.
The boards at the dam were put into place on April 1, and the reservoir has risen to 88 percent.
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.
Vermillion Valley Resort announced it will run quad trips for groups up to seven people May 13-June 3. The road opening to vehicles is anticipated around June 7. The cost for the quad trips is $125 per night per person and includes lodging with TV, use of mess hall, restrooms and one boat for one day. Additional boats are available for rent. Edison rose to 17 percent, Florence is also rising at 10 percent, and Mammoth Pool is over capacity at 103 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 3 Trout 3
Shaver Lake experienced the first of two trout plants this week with the Department of Fish and Wildlife planting 2,000 rainbows averaging 2 pounds this past weekend, and the bank anglers were scoring quick limits with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters around the Sierra Marina. The release was made at the Sierra ramp, and the rainbows hold in the area for a long period before moving out into the main lake, making for easy prey for bank fishermen. The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will make the first of two plants within a few weeks at an undisclosed shoreline location, and there will be rainbows averaging 3 pounds in the mix.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters and president of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project said, “The past two weeks at Shaver Lake have been productive with so many fish being caught by so many folks. A week ago, it was trophy sized rainbows mixed with kokanee. This week it has been mainly kokanee. Dennis Beard and Gary Kent have been racking the kokes for weeks, and some weeks are better than others, but they also post a limit. They also have picked up a few trophy trout to 27 inches along the way. Other boats are getting 11- to 12-inch kokanee too. I fished with Don Munshower from the Sunnyside area this week, and we bagged limits of kokanee with the best action on the side pole loaded with a pink Koke Buster tipped with corn behind a purple/silver Mountain flasher had more action. The down rigger action was slower and the depths varied. Both ramps are in the water which is quickly on the rise. That isn't helping the trout action either. As the water quickly rises, it collects the insects and other aqua life and sends it into the water where mostly trout are waiting to feast on the heavy food source. Both marinas are in operation with rentals.”
Tom Oliveira of Tom Oliveira’s Guide Service took out brothers Gilbert and John Garza on Saturday along with one son, and we landed four limits of kokanee to just over 13 inches working from the Sierra Marina to Road 2 in the top 12 feet with MAG Tackle’s orange hoochies behind an orange Stealth Dodger.
Shaver has climbed up to 57 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 sometime in late May or early June.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 2
As elsewhere along the coast and inland, the fish went off of the bite on Sunday with the arrival of lower barometric pressure on Sunday, but it rebounded with a vengeance on Monday with early limits for the party boats. After several days of limit or near-limit action, the party boats found much tougher action on Sunday. Captain Dennis Baxter of the Huli Cat said, “It was a slow start for the salmon boats, and we hopscotched down to Pigeon Point today to find a slow bite for 11 salmon. But, below and outside of the Deep Reef, a couple of boats got located in the afternoon, and this is our target for Monday’s trip.” Baxter will be running salmon trips seven days per week when the temporary closure is lifted on May 18.
The Huli Cat was also down at the Deep Reef on Sunday, and second captain Michael Cabanas reported a slow bite in the morning with the best action in the afternoon.
Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Surf perch 2 Halibut 2
Chris Arcolleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “The salmon action was phenomenal until Sunday when the barometric pressure dropped significantly and the salmon went off of the bite. When the glass drops, the salmon don’t bite as the pressure started to go down on Saturday night.” After posting quick limits within an hour earlier in the week, the Check Mate returned with 3 salmon for 25 anglers on Monday while the Caroline went south for rockfish with 200 rockfish and 16 ling cod for 24 anglers. They have some limited room during the week, and the weekends are either full or close to full.
Out of Santa Cruz, Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “Salmon has been very good, but don’t overlook the other species available. Halibut are coming in to shallow water. Reports are increasing of halibut up to 39-inches caught from Monterey beaches and the protected areas near Santa Cruz. Stripers are steadily spreading up through the Bay. Marina/Salinas River area remains the most consistent area for bigger fish, but scattered catches are occurring from all beaches that ring the bay. Johnny, aka ‘Abalone,’ picked up a really nice striper on his way to work on Thursday on a Lucky Craft Flash Minnow 110.”
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2
The Golden Gate boats are still running south to the Deep Reef, but with the slower bite, some of the boats should be branching out to explore other locations closer to home.
Captain Chris Smith of the new luxury Pacific Dream out of Berkeley is taking their first ling cod/rockfish trip of the year this coming Friday with an outing sponsored by the Fishsniffer Magazine. He said, “I expect some giveaways, and Friday’s weather forecast is for calm seas.”
Inside the bay, the halibut bite remains overall outstanding as the flat fish are flooding into the bay, but the limits found earlier in the week were more elusive during the weekend. However, the bite reemerged on Monday with six-pack boats finding limits once again big party boat, the California Dawn out of Berkeley, came in with two halibut per angler for a big load on Monday.
Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing put his clients onto two per rod with halibut to 10 pounds on Sunday.
Hugh Marchand of Lodi was out on Saturday off of Berkeley Flats, and they posted a great score of two limits of halibut in spite of having to troll dead bait.
The Pacific Dream out of Berkeley went out on Saturday with 23 anglers for 22 halibut and a striped bass for a fish per rod which is a very respectable score for no live bait.
Live bait is still not present in the receivers in San Francisco or Berkeley, but Loch Lomond Marina has a supply of live shiners and live smelt.
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish 3 Salmon 2 Surf perch 2
Rockfish season continues, and limits to near-limits are the rule on the full day trips. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Black Pearl took an overnight trip on Saturday/Sunday, and their 22 fishermen returned with 21 ling cod to 14.5 pounds along with 200 vermilion and 20 copper rockfish. The Rita G and Fiesta went out on day trips with 47 anglers for 6 lings to 11 pounds, 380 vermilion, 35 assorted, 35 copper, and 10 Boccaccio. Out of Morro Bay Landing, the Endeavor, Avenger, and Starfire went out with 81 anglers on Sunday for 590 vermilion, 10 copper, 25 Boccaccio, and 40 assorted rockfish along with 24 ling cod to 18 pounds. Further south at Port San Luis, the Patriot, Flying Fish, and Phenix out of Patriot Sport Fishing went out on Sunday with 77 anglers for 144 vermilion, 27 copper, 10 Boccaccio, 101 Bolina, 250 assorted, 15 canary, and a cabezon to go with 9 ling cod to 11 pounds with the big fish taken by Daniel Lopez of Visalia. are the rule on full-day trips with the possibility of limits on the ½ day trips. Ling cod remain elusive with a handful taken on each trip. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis, the Phenix went salmon trolling on Sunday with three anglers for three salmon while the Flying Fish and the Patriot went rockfishing with 34 anglers for 42 vermilion, 86 assorted rockfish, 10 copper, a Boccaccio, and 5 ling cod to 7 pounds. All ports are running a variety of trips in the coming weeks for rockfish/ling cod including overnight trips.
Bass 3 Striper 3 Shad 3 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The water in the Sacramento-Delta is clearing and dropping, and shad are showing up around Freeport into the upper river. The launch ramps in the Sacramento metropolitan area remain inaccessible, but Clarksburg is open. The shad run is starting in numbers, and the striped bass action is improving as the water is clearing up.
Clyde Wands of Sacramento, shallow trolling expert, has been primarily trolling on the San Joaquin River, but he said, “For the first time this season, we have heard of striped bass along the West Bank. These fish are small, but the big ones are coming.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The shad are here, and shad darts or grubs with up to a 1.5-ounce sinker are working as the water is clearing up. You have to adjust the amount of weight you are using based up on the current. There have been a lot of striped bass taken on pile worms or blood worms in the main river, and in Steamboat Slough, anchovies or sardines coated with garlic spray are most effective. In the Mokelumne River near New Hope Landing, drifting jumbo minnows is working for stripers, and the bluegill bite is best around Locke with red worms or wax worms. The sturgeon are on their way back down to the lower estuary after spawning, and an occasional sturgeon is being taken by striper fishermen.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the arrival of the shad, and he said, “I think they have been here for some time, but anglers are just now able to get to them as the water is clearing up to some degree. The action for shad starts around Freeport and it goes upstream to the mouth of the Feather at Verona. We are selling lots of 1-inch champagne shad darts or grubs, and the water is clearing up a little bit more every day. I went bass fishing in the upper Delta around Liberty Island, and I found an excellent bite with Senkos and also with frogs. The winds came up on Sunday, and it limited access to Liberty since one of the pros in the Wild West Bass Trails Pro/Am event put in 15 pounds there on Saturday with his co-angler landing 16 pounds, but it was a different story on Sunday.”
For sturgeon, Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was out on Sunday with Dr. Cyrus Buhari of Stockton and his two sons along with Dave Scatena of Stockton, and they started in the Little Cut in the morning. Mitchell said, “We released an undersized sturgeon right off of the bat, and the sturgeon are piled in there, but they were actively biting. We moved over to the Big Cut, and within 5 minutes, young Alex Saccani saw the bite and did exactly what I told him to do. After a good fight, we released a sturgeon over 7 feet at the side of the boat. We stuck it out on the outgoing tide, and Dr. Buhari found what he came for with a 51-inch diamondback on the outgoing tide.”
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported heavy angling interest over the weekend with the great weather conditions.
The sturgeon will be sticking around in Suisun Bay for some time, but the majority of sturgeon fishermen have now left for the halibut and striped bass in the bays. Striped bass will only get better and better in the coming weeks as the water clears, and the linesides are moving up to the spawning grounds and back down to the bay and ocean.
The wind came up on Sunday, limiting the ability for anglers in the 150 boat Wild West Bass Trails Pro/Am tournament to get to their spots without being pounded by the gusts. The largemouth bass bite was tough for most with some anglers struggling to bring in a limit while others were able to approach or break 20 pounds per day.
In this event, pro participants are matched with a different amateur for the first two days with separate weights for both pros and amateurs. Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors predicted some heavy weights to be brought by the tournament anglers as this circuit attracts some of the top bass fishermen in the west. He said, “I saw all of the boat traffic at Russo’s on Wednesday so I pulled out and launched at Mossdale, and there are a lot of fish to be caught down there. If someone makes the run south to Turtle Beach, I predict a 30-pound bag coming out of there. I picked up a 7, 6, and two 5’s within 25 minutes on a June Bug Lizard with a chartreuse tail. I think the fish in this area all went to the banks at the same time. The Yamamoto Fan-Shu which is a tadpole imitation in green pumpkin has also been hot since the bass are loading up on the amphibians. There is also a frog bite in the afternoons in the hot weather, and if you walk a frog over the flats, the bass can’t resist it.” On Sunday, Mathisen added, “I don’t think too many anglers were willing to make the 50-minute run south with the winds. The Yamamoto Big Bass Tournament will be held on Saturday and Sunday of the coming week, and we will be doing a tips and tricks for working Yamamoto baits starting at 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Dave’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley.”
Nic Nouret won the pro division for the Wild West Bass Trails coming out of 4th place on the final day with the Day 2 leader, Ken Mah, coming in second with only a few hundreds of an ounce behind.
For striped bass, Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert was out for two consecutive days in the San Joaquin River, and they took stripers to 8.5 pounds in every spot from Eddo’s Marina to False River to the Old River Flats. He said, “We released everything but a limit of 6-pound linesides, and the action has been coming on deep-diving lures. I was out earlier with Dave Houston of Livermore, and we released 14 stripers to 12 pounds, also on the deep troll.”
Jeff Soo Hoo of Soo Hoo’s Sport Fishing out of Laurtitzen’s Yacht Harbor in Oakley found the spoon bite by mid-week, and he loaded up with early limits on every trip bouncing P-Line Laser Minnows above the thick schools in the San Joaquin. On Sunday, Soo Hoo said, “The bite was a bit tougher, but we ended up with limits. We are still seeing the big number of stripers, but they were more reluctant to bite. 90 percent of our action has been with spoons, and every day is a little different out here.”
Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service out of Korth’s Pirates Lair has been finding good action trolling deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows along with drifting live jumbo minnows. He said, “We have been catching and releasing stripers to 15 pounds this week, but the weeds have been thick, and you have to really watch the action on your line and clear the weeds. When the troll bite slows down, we are drifting minnows.” Netzel will be working out of Korth’s through mid-May.
was out in the winds on Saturday, and he said, “It was a struggle in the morning with only 4 stripers by noon, but the bite turned on in the afternoon with 7 more keepers to 15 pounds. The wind, big minus tide, and dirty water in locations didn’t make a difference, and we found our best action from Eddo’s to Three Mile Slough with deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows. There was too much debris on the surface to work shallow lures as the big tides brought flotsam off of the banks. The river below the mouth of the Mokelumne is dirty on the outgoing tide and this occurs also below Three Mile Slough. Right now, there is a lot of hydrilla and weeds in the water, but the stripers are there.”
Nelson Vineyard of Topline Sport Fishing was on the San Joaquin River over the weekend, and he said, “We started on Saturday morning at the Old River Flats where we trolled several different area for only two bites and one shaker released so we mad a run back to the Sacramento side all the way to the Deep Water Channel. We found the stripers there with chartreuse or red/white deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows. I went back into the north Delta on Sunday morning and started working different areas, but we ended up again in the Deep Water Channel for five keepers to 10 pounds on shallow-diving plugs. Fishing is still pretty darn good, and I plan on trolling for striped bass well into May.”
H and R Bait in Stockton reported most interest in the area has been from the banks around Whiskey Slough, and they have been getting in up to 70 pounds of fresh shad of a medium to large grade. Bluegill action is best off of Eight Mile Road west of Stockton with red worms or wax worms.
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3 White bass 3 Striper 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 3
At Nacimiento, the spotted bass spawn is on the downside with most spots moving off of the banks into post-spawn mode. The best action has been around shade with plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, or small spinnerbaits. White bass remain active in the river arm and coves with small white Roostertails or Kastmasters. Crappie action has picked up considerably with minijigs or other small lures. Bluegill and red ear perch are biting red worms or wax worms. The fuel dock is now selling fuel again from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The lake dropped slightly to 85 percent this week.
At San Antonio, the lake held at 41 percent, and the lake is expected to be open seven days a week starting May 1. Catfishing is the best option with cut baits or nightcrawlers using no or minimal weight. Bass fishing is fair at best with plastics on the drop-shot.
At Lopez Lake, working the shallows early with reaction baits is the best option for the largest grade of bass, but they will move out into deeper water by mid-morning. Jigs, chatterbaits, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits are best in the mornings in the shallows before dropping to the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot, NED-rig, or shakey head. Crappie jigs are working for slabs around submerged brush while bluegill are taken on red worms or meal worms.
At Santa Margarita, a weedless approach is best for bass as the shorelines are loaded with debris from the full lake. The majority of bass are small, and the largest quality have been elusive. Spinnerbaits are working in the shallows in the morning, but numbers are taken on plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head. Boaters are advised to contact the lake’s ranger station at 805-788-2397 for information on the availability of the single ramp.
Wild West Bass Trails Pro/Am: April 26-28 (3 Limits) at Delta/Big Break Marina – Pro Division, 1, Nic Nouret, 62.08 pounds; 2, Ken Mah, 61.60; 3, Mark Mello, 58.96. Amateur Division, 1, Travis Williams, 42.96; 2, Cesar Laguna, 40.34; 3, Firuz Gizatullin, 38.68.
Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department: April 27 at McClure – 1, Garrett and Chase Maddex, 16.67 (Big Fish 5.81); 2, Ryan Cook/Don Longton, 13.91; 3, Jeremy Edwards/Jason Bowmer, 13.64.
Bass 101: April 28 at Pine Flat – 1, Gary Wasson, 13.31; 2, Corey Squires, 10.73; 3, Tony Hunt, 9.75.
Mother Lode Kayak Fishing: April 28 at Don Pedro – 1, Josh Martinez, 57.25 inches; 2, Tas Moua, 56.75; 3, Jiongbo Zhang, 54.75. Big Fish Steve Palomar, 21.25.
May 4: Camanche – Central Valley Anglers Trout Derby, McClure – Gold Country Junior Bass Club/Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department, Hensley – Kerman Bass Club, Hume Lake – Hume Lake Christian Camp Trout Derby, Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments/Golden Empire Bass Club
May 4-5: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Yamamoto Big Bass Challenge, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Kern County Bass Masters, Bass Lake – Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby
May 5: New Melones – RHS Bass Fishing Club, Don Pedro – Oro Madre Bass Anglers, McClure – California Bass Federation, Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
May 11: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – California Hmong Bass Trails, Lake Tulloch – Mother Lode Kayak Fishing, McClure – Best Bass Tournaments, Nacimiento – 101 Bass
May 17: Nacimiento – 101 Bass
May 17-18: Clear Lake – Fresno Bass Club, Delta/Russo’s Marina – Sierra Bass Club
May 18: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Yak-A-Bass, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments, Eastman – River Rats Bass Club, Success – Central Valley Veterans, Isabella – American Bass Association, Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers, Santa Margarita – Bakersfield Bass Club
June 15: McClure – Fishing McClure for Mason, information Ryan Cook at 559-691-7008
n = new moon > = peak activity