NEW MELONES RESERVOIR/TULLOCH — Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford said the bass bite is "on fire," especially at New Melones. The big story was the lake record spotted bass landed by Kyle Rasmussen, former Olympic skier, at 7.97-pounds on a Roboworm. Rasmussen held the previous lake record at 7.63-pounds. This wasn't the only large spot taken this week with a 6.87-pounds landed by Craig Matteney. Basi said, "You can throw anything at them right now," but small profile brown/purple jigs or drop shotting with watermelon/redflake or green pumpkin 4-inch plastics or Senkos from 5 to 40 feet close to deep drops or steep walls. A slow presentation is a must. Larger fish are hitting swimbaits such as the Huddleston ROF 12 in trout patterns. Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said the falling barometer affected the trout bite, but some 2-pounders are being caught off the banks at Glory Hole Point on Berkley chartreuse or green glitter Power Bait, Power Eggs or a crawler/marshmallow combinations. Boaters are still fishing on the anchor with similar baits in the same areas along with Carson and Mormon Coves. Trolling has been fair with Wedding Rings tipped with a crawler, Uncle Larry's Spinners or bright-colored spoons such as firetiger or rainbow trout patterns along the mouths of major coves from the surface down to 15 feet. For brown trout, Lewis recommends pulling Countdown Rapalas, Trophy Sticks or other large minnow imitations in rainbow trout or shad patterns. Catfishing has been slow the past two weeks, but a few quality crappie have been caught on small or medium minnows or crappie jigs in a variety of colors at 30 to 45 feet around submerged trees or structure. The lake rose two feet to 971.03 elevation and 50 percent capacity.
LAKE TULLOCH — Danny Layne of Fishn' Dan's Guide Service touted this lake just downstream from New Melones for excellent action on rainbows to 16-inches. He recommends fishing from the surface to 20 feet off of the Resort, the Green Springs Arm or upriver in the canyon. Water temperature is ideal at 52 degrees.
CALL: 736-4333, Monte Smith 581-4734, Danny Layne 586 2383, Sierra Sport Fishing 599-2023.
SAN LUIS RESERVOIR / O'NEILL FOREBAY — Heavy inflow from the surface creeks and pumping from the Delta has slowed the striper bite considerably. Ly Tu, of Ly's Fishing Goods in San Jose, said most area anglers have given up for now. A few small stripers have been caught on live jumbo minnows or mudsuckers drifted near the ledge in Portuguese Cove or the trash racks. Tu hasn't sold any minnows in the past few weeks, but Coyote Bait is still having a few anglers buying live bait. Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait recommended trolling large Rapalas or X Raps at depths of 50 feet in similar locations as the bait drifters. In the Forebay, the area around Check 12 is good when the flood gates are opened, but when the water is still the fishing gets very slow. The lake won't improve until the weather calms down. The lake rose another 8 feet to 476.25 and 61 percent of capacity.
CALL: Wind conditions 800-805-4805; Ly's Fishing Goods (408) 629-9644; Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711;
McSWAIN RESERVOIR — McSwain Marina reported the rain kept most anglers off the lake over the weekend, but the few who tried were rewarded with limits — though it took most of them the majority of the day. Bank anglers have the advantage over trollers in the stained water with Power Eggs or Power Bait working best. There have only been a few trollers. The lake is scheduled to be planted by the end of February. The Merced Irrigation Tournament is scheduled for April 17-18 with prizes to $3,000 for tagged fish.
McCLURE RESERVOIR — Manny Basi of the Bait Barn said the bass bite is sporadic with the fish moving up and down the water column. There are schools of 14- to 15-inch fish holding from 50 to 75 feet. The inconsistent pattern has kept anglers guessing. Drop shotting Pro Worms in ProGold small redflake at depths from the surface to 40 feet or small profile jigs has worked for some. There have been few trollers working for trout, but small spinners tipped with a night crawler or 3-inch orange grubs from the surface to 15 feet should work. The only two launches available for large boats are Barrett's Cove or McClure Point with small aluminums able to be launched at the Horseshoe. The lake needs to rise another 10 feet before the launch at Horseshoe or Bagby to be used by large boats. The lake rose 2 feet to 760.56.
CALL: A-1 Bait 563-6505, Bub Tosh 404-0053.
LAKE DON PEDRO — Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said trout trolling slowed a bit with 8 fish landed Monday with another 5 hooked and lost. He was fast-trolling shad-imitation spoons such as Chucker T's, Vance's Slim Fins, or Needlefish on lead core line or on the downriggers to 17 feet at speeds near 3 mph. He said there is about 7 feet of visibility. Smith added that one angler pulled out a trophy 8-pound brown trout on a Chucker T near Hatch Creek. Danny Layne said king salmon to four-pounds have been slowing up in Fleming Bay at depths from 60 to 80 feet with rolled shad or Shasta Tackle Matrix Paddletails. Bass fishing is still slow with the fish holding at various depths from the banks to 65 feet. Basi suggests drop shotting with 5-pound test using ProWorms in ProGold redflake or Reaction Innovation Bad Shad Green or using small profile brown/purple or brown jigs on 8-pound test. He called it "real finesse fishing." Trout fishing from the banks is fair with rainbow glitter Power Bait or gold Kastmasters.
CALL: Monte Smith 581-4734, Danny Layne 586-2383, Bait Barn 874-301.
STOCKTON — Sturgeon fishing was slow for most of the 1,000 participants during the weekend's Original Sturgeon Derby. Very few fish made it to the measuring table at McAvoy's Harbor for the Original Sturgeon Derby. Captain James Smith of the California Dawn ran the boat during the day with Captain Chris Smith running the boat at night with the same group throughout the derby. Anglers were rewarded with the 1st and 7th place fish Sunday for over $8,000 in winnings with the top fish coming under Captain Chris's watch.
Throughout the two days, the California Dawn landed sturgeon at 63 (Sunday's winner), 58 (Sunday's 7th place), 58, 53, 50 and released a legal 46-incher. The Smiths found the fish between the Benicia/Martinez and Carquinez Bridges. They also had an oversized on for over three hours on Saturday before the hook came out. Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing also had a derby charter, and he was surprised that the sturgeon were sparse with only a couple of bites per tide. They were able to put a 51-inch keeper that was released, a 71-inch oversized and a 40-inch shaker during the four tides fished. He is optimistic about the coming weeks in Suisun Bay with the water temperature rising to 51.5 degrees and the inflow of fresh water. He will be fishing hard from mid-February until live bait season in San Francisco Bay. B and S Bait at McAvoy's Harbor in Bay Point was ground zero for the Original Sturgeon Derby, and they reported overall slow action with Saturday's winner at 62--inches, paying down to 49-inches with Sunday's winner at 63 inches paying down to 54-inches. The majority of the fish came out of the South Bay on Saturday. James Nguyen at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg confirmed the slow action during the derby with only "20 or so total fish landed." Alan Fong of the Fisherman's Warehouse in Sacramento reported good sturgeon action from the banks in Lisbon Slough, as the diamondbacks have moved into the bypass with the high water. Ghost shrimp and eel have been the top baits. The water has been too muddy for stripers to hit lures.
CALL: Randy Pringle 543-6260; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630, Fin Addict Sport Fishing 367-4665, Jolly Jay's Guide Service 478-6645.
San Francisco Bay — Few, if any, private boats have been outside the Gate for crab in the past week. Inside the bay, one of the best sturgeon bites is in the extreme south bay in the creeks in shallow water or in the main channel from the Dunbarton Bridge to the Train Trestle. Ly Tu reported several sturgeon landed back in Coyote and Alviso creeks using herring. Moving into the central bay, John Akina at Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli reported slow sturgeon fishing, but the perch bite has been outstanding from the mid-pier with pile worms. A few caught off the pier were in the 15- to 16-inch range over the weekend. Boats out of the harbor have been either heading to the south bay or to the Oakland Airport.
CALL: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Huck Finn Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133, Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040, Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148.
Reservoirs and lakes that will be planted with trout during the week of Nov. 22:
- Fresno — Avocado Lake; Kings River below Pine Flat Reservoir; San Joaquin River below Friant Dam; Woodward Park Lake.