Lake Don Pedro
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported excellent trout fishing in the Moccasin Arm of the lake with the fish stacked up in the backs of the river arm. He said, “We found them there last year, and experienced trollers are reporting double hook up after double hook up with as many as 30 strikes within three hours of trolling.” Smith advises dragging heavy spoons on lead core on a fast presentation as the fish are close to the surface. The only drawback is the boats can’t make it far up the river arm with the low water conditions. For largemouth bass, Manny Basi at the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “It has been very slow with only night crawlers or live minnows working in the cold water,” adding, “Regular tournament anglers are staying away since the artificial bite has been so slow.” A trout plant is scheduled for this week at Don Pedro and also at the local reservoirs of Modesto and Woodward. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011.
Bass fishing remains very slow, and Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported live night crawlers or minnows from the banks are the best thing happening, but this isn’t red hot by any means. The bass will need to adjust to the declining water temperatures before the bite improves once again. Trout fishing should perk up with the fish moving toward the surface and shorelines, particularly in the slightly colder waters of the river arm, and trout plants this week should help. The lake dropped over a foot to 690.02 feet in elevation and 23 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
McSwain Marina reported the best action has been coming from the banks at the Brush Pile or the Boat Locks with Berkley rainbow Trout Nuggets or Power Bait in white or bubble gum. Gold/silver Kastmasters and the firetiger Pot o’ Gold spoon have been popular lures for casting from the banks. The last trout plant occurred Thursday with 1,000-pounds from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Trolling has been slow, but Trout Busters tipped with a night crawler behind a mini-Mountain Flasher or PPK Tomahawk spinners in chartreuse continue to be effective. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported very good trout fishing with the cold temperatures moving a large number of rainbows towards\ the surface and the shorelines, creating better conditions for bank anglers. Shoreline fishermen are scoring with floating Power Bait on a standard bait rig loaded with rainbow, chartreuse, salmon egg, or pink colors with garlic-scents being particularly effective. Kastmasters or Krocodile spoons are also working for anglers casting from the banks. Lewis advised trollers to work from the surface to 30 feet in depth, especially near the shorelines. Side planers have been effective to keep the lure out of the boat’s wake and close to the banks. Night crawlers behind a dodger, rolled shad, or jointed plugs are all effective set ups. Bass fishing is slow with the fish holding in deep water from 40 to 70 feet. Vertical jigging shad-patterned spoons over the bait balls, small shad-patterned plastics on the drop shot, or three-fourths ounce football head jigs with a crawdad-colored twin tailed grub, Brush Hog, or Sweet Beaver on a fluorocarbon line are good techniques to get the lethargic fish to bite. With the colder water temperatures, catfishing is slow with the fish moving towards the ledges and the deep water near the mouths of creeks in response to the plummeting water temperatures. Crappie and bluegill action is non-existent. New Melones rose three-quarters feet to 948.43 feet in elevation and 43 percent of capacity with Tulloch at 500.10 feet in elevation and 84% of capacity. No trout reports for Tulloch, but the action should be decent once the cold nighttime temperatures cease. Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’Dan (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing (209) 599-2023.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported generally slow fishing in the main lake, but a few experienced fishermen are finding quality stripers trolling plugs at depths from 60 to 80 feet or dropping 1.75-ounce Duh! Spoons in white/chartreuse or black/silver over the meter marks. Drifting live minnows are also picking up a few large fish. Clements said, “The Basalt Launch Ramp is in good shape and the water levels are coming up with pumping in the evenings over the past few weeks,” adding, “The water temperature has dropped to 54 degrees.” Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service continues his assault on San Luis Reservoir with his 17th striper over 20-pounds landed during 2013 – taken over the weekend. George and his son, David, fished Thursday for a 28-pounder, then followed up on Friday with Bob Vangroningen and Sid Miller of Lodi with a 20-pounder. Dennis Hamman of Madera caught a personal record 30-pounder shallow trolling the big lake Sunday on their last pass of the day fishing with his friend Steve Clover. He said they successfully released the big fish to fight again. In the Forebay, pile worms and blood worms are working for sublegal to barely-legal striped bass. The lake rose to 27 percent of capacity with an import of 7603 acre-feet of Delta water. Important note: All boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes must undergo a mandatory inspection for Quagga and Zebra mussels. Failure to allow inspection will result in the refusal to launch. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711.
After a week of freezing temperatures, the stripers and sturgeon have adjusted to the rapid change in water temperature. John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing has found sturgeon success with salmon roe east of the Mothball Fleet putting clients Simmon Flagg and Andy Joiner from Chico onto limits of sturgeon at 50.5 and 51 inches. Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing has also been soaking salmon roe for oversized sturgeon at 62 and 84 inches in the same area. Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait reported a 60-inch sturgeon was landed on salmon roe above the Mothball Fleet, and salmon roe has been the top bait for sturgeon with fish landed in a variety of locations including Roe/Ryer, the Creek, the Big Cut, and the Fleet. Striper fishing has been slow from the shoreline. Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported striped bass in the 20 and 30-pound range have been brought into the shop over the weekend, and the fish are hitting live splittail or bullheads at depths from 20 to 30 feet. Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton has been fishing on the anchor with owner Rich Coast, soaking with fresh shad or mudsuckers near the Pittsburg PGE Plant for stripers ranging from 10 to 18 pounds. Mike Pipkins at Gotcha Bait in Antioch also reported good striper action at the mouth of Big Break, near Eddo’s Boat Harbor, and near the Antioch Bridge with fresh shad or mudsuckers. Sturgeon fishing from Humphrey’s Pier to the Antioch Bridge has been solid with grass or ghost shrimp. According to Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, the stripers have “Gone on a feeding rampage.” Fong said, “The fish have moved back into the San Joaquin River and also in the north Delta around Liberty Island.” The stripers are holding on the flats in the San Joaquin River, and Fong advised using bone-patterned Fish Traps, top water lures, or large Glide Baits for the linesides. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The fish are still willing to bite, but you have to slow way down since most fishermen are fishing over them and as fast as in the past few months.” The water remains clear in the central Delta, and Pringle is concentrating in the back sloughs with slower current, finding the fish in deeper holes. “Two feet can make the difference as the fish are seeking warmer water,” added Pringle. Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Stan Koenigsberger – Quetzal Adventures (925) 570-5303; Mark Wilson Sport Fishing (916) 682-1630; Intimidator Sport Fishing (916) 806-3030.
Half Moon Bay
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat put in 24 limits of Dungeness crab for passengers and crew to go with 22 limits of rockfish and 6 lings on Saturday fishing south of the harbor from Tunitas Creek to San Gregorio. Private boats are finding limits of Dungeness off of the Radio Towers at depths from 180 to 200 feet with an average of five commercial-grade crab per pot. The rockfish and crab action should remains steady for the remaining two weeks of the season which closes for bottomfish on Dec. 31. Call: Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388; Roger Thomas, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362, Bait and Switch Sport Fishing Center (650) 726-7133 726-7133; Emeryville Sport Fishing (510) 654-6040; Don Franklin, Soleman (510) 703-4148.
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported half limits of rockfish, limits of ling cod, and limits of Dungeness crab for 13 fishermen on the Check Mate while the Caroline scored three-quarters limits of rockfish, and l1 limits of ling cod on the Caroline on Sunday. The ling cod counts have been outstanding with limits on nearly every trip for the past several weeks. Arcoleo said, “We have been jigging up live squid since there are masses of squid in the bay, and after filling buckets with squid, the boats are limiting on lings within two hours.” The last shot for 2013 Big Sur Rock Cod fishing will be Dec. 29, weather permitting. Anglers will need to contact the shop at (831) 375-5951 for reservations. Arcoleo added, “We will be jigging up live squid for this trip, and the bite should be phenomenal.” Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com
San Francisco Bay
Rockfishing remains outstanding along the Marin coastline or at the Farallon Islands, and the close of the season is coming within 16 days. Obtaining limits of crab takes some work as pulling most of the pots is necessary since the crab are either getting scarce or disappearing from the pots between trips. Keith Fraser reported a good sturgeon bite in the Pumphouse area with boats averaging better than a sturgeon per boat over the past few days since the good minus tides started. The majority of sturgeon have been taken on mud shrimp. Fraser said, “There are a few sharks out there, but the number of undesired species has been at a minimum.” Bass fishing has slowed, but Fraser thought the current tides would be decent for stripers. In the south bay, John Akina Jr. of Oyster Point Bait, Tackle, and Deli in South San Francisco has heard reports of good sturgeon action below the Train Trestle below the Dunbarton Bridge. Several sturgeon have been caught per day, and the fishermen are trying to keep this bite quiet. Ghost shrimp is the top bait. From the Oyster Point Pier, leopard sharks to 48-inches have been providing the most action with most of the shark being undersized below the 36-inch minimum length.