Lake Don Pedro
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reported continued outstanding trout action for planted rainbows, putting his clients onto limits of rainbows to 1.75-pounds fast-trolling heavy spoons at 3 to 4 colors of lead core line. He said, “We limited out within three hours staying right near the dam,” adding, “I also marked fish at 25 feet in depth, and we used the downrigger to pick up some fish at this depth.” The water temperature is in the 52- to 53-degree range, which is normal for this time of year. Heavy plants have brought out the bite. Bass fishing remains very slow, but swimbaits should be working soon as a result of the heavy trout plants. Small Senkos or plastics in shad-patterns on a slow presentation at depths from 20 to 60 feet are working or the occasional spotted bass. The lake held at 732.15 feet in elevation and 51 percent of capacity. 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 continues to be very slow with the best action on live crawdads while 3 to 4.5-inch shad-patterned plastic worms on the drop shot or small Senkos on a slow presentation are working at depths to 60 feet. The swimbait bite hasn’t emerged as of yet, but recent trout plants should spur this on shortly. The trout plants have created a much improved bite for planters from the banks at McClure Point or Barrett’s Cove with Power Bait or night crawlers as the fish are moving toward the shoreline. Trollers should work the coves and close to the shorelines for the planted rainbows. The lake dropped slightly to 687.71 feet in elevation and 23 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053
McSwain Marina reported a continued good bite for rainbows from the shoreline near the Brush Pile or Handicapped Docks with garlic-scented Power Eggs, various colors of garlic-scented Power Bait, or tossing Kastmasters. Trollers are scoring with night crawlers behind a hammered nickel cowbell, Trout Busters, or PPK Tomahawk spinners in chartreuse between the Floating Restrooms and the 2nd Fence Line. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported very good trout action with bank fishermen scoring some nice limits of planters and holdover rainbows. She said, “The fish have moved from the main lake toward the coves and creek channels, and most fish are being caught in fairly shallow water.” Bank anglers are doing very well off of Glory Hole Point and near the Tuttletown boat launch ramp with the standard set-up with floating Power Bait in rainbow, chartreuse, salmon egg, or pink scented with garlic. Krocodiles or Kastmasters are also effective for casting from the shorelines as well as a mini jig under a slip float bobber. The big fish of the week weighed in at 3.7-pounds taken by Makenna Tutthill of Murphys on Power Bait off of Glory Hole Point. Trollers are scoring in the shallows using Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, or ExCel spoons on a side planer to get close to the shoreline. Long-lining blade/crawler combinations from 150 to 200 feet behind the boat have also been effective.” She advises to carefully measure, weigh, and photograph trophy fish. Huge browns to 30-inches were caught and released in the past week between the Parrott’s Ferry and Highway 49 Bridges using a J9 Gold Fluorescent Red Rapala scented with garlic. Bass fishing remains fair, but the bite appears to improving for most fishermen. The spotted bass are fat and chunky, and there are several fish in the 2 to 4-pound range. The fish are schooling in deep water from 40 to 70 feet in the morning before moving up in the afternoons. Vertically jigging spoons, drop shotting shad-patterned plastics on light fluorocarbon line, or three-quarters-ounce football head jigs with a crawdad-colored twin tailed grub, Brush Hog, or Sweet Beaver trailer are the top techniques. A slow presentation is absolutely necessary. With the colder water temperatures, catfishing is slow with the fish moving toward 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 held at 948.95 feet in elevation and 43 percent of capacity with Tulloch rising nearly 2 feet to 500.76 feet in elevation and 84 percent of capacity. 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 said the striped bass have gone deep in the 70- to 100-foot range in front of the Trash Racks, Portuguese Cove, and the island, and jumbo minnows are still working best. He added, “Fishing has been poor to only fair for most anglers with minnows working best.” The pumping is occurring at night, and the lack of daytime pumping has slowed down the bite. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service continues to find success for larger fish trolling plugs – releasing a 15-pounder on Friday before putting Tom Frudden of Fresno and Skip Ecken of Monterey onto 13 stripers to 23-inches on Saturday. Frudden also had an estimated 20-pounder on for five minutes before it became unbuttoned. George continued to fish after his clients left, releasing fish to 25-inches along with another released 19.5-pound lineside. George added, “Most guys aren’t doing very well- catching a few small fish-but the pattern for anything bigger changes by the hour. The bite windows are very definite and short and you have to work hard to stay on top of it. At times the fish seem to almost go into a suspended state and won’t bite. Water temps are now in the 52 degree range.” In the Forebay, Clements said, “There is a top water lure, rip bait, and swimbait bite in the early morning for schoolie stripers as well as flukes on Scrounger heads for linesides in the 16 to 22-inch range with the best action near the Telephone Poles or Check 12.” Jumbo minnows are also working from the shorelines. The lake rose to 29 percent of capacity with an import of 6761 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. These invasive species threaten recreational opportunities, the water delivery infrastructure of California and the aquatic habitat of San Luis Reservoir. Failure to allow inspection will result in the refusal to launch. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711.
Half Moon Bay
Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat came back with 19 limits of rockfish and 4 crab per angler on Saturday with 4 crab/angler for 9 fishermen on a crab-only trip on Sunday. He said, “The weather has been unbelievable with gray whales starting their southern migration only 4 to 6 miles offshore where they are usually out at least 14 miles,” adding, “There are some humpbacks also in the mix.” He will finish the rockfish season soon. Captain Roger Thomas of the Salty Lady said, “We couldn’t have had a better first day of the gray whale season, coming across a ‘whale highway,’ of breaching whales. 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 reported continued fantastic ling cod counts despite the disappearance of the market-grade squid from the bay. “With the lack of snow in the mountains, every hotel in the area has a high occupancy rate over the holiday weeks, and our rockfish trips have been sold out until the closure,” he said. Starting Monday, they will be running sand dab/crab combination trips, and limits of crab are highly likely since the loads will be smaller on these trips. Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; usafishing.com.
San Francisco Bay
Party boats are still posting some impressive crab counts and rockfishing remains great with limits to be found at the Islands and the Marin coast. On Monday, Captain James Smith on the Cal Dawn out of Berkeley Marina ran his last trips of the season. He reported 30 limits of both rockfish and crabs. Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported good sturgeon fishing on Saturday with some boats landing from 2 to 3 fish, adding, “Not every boat had this, but there were some good scores.” Overall, striped bass action has been slow in the cold water. In the south bay, John Akina Jr. of Oyster Point Bait, Tackle, and Deli in South San Francisco reported a few jack smelt are starting to show up in the south bay, and he thought this was unusual for this time of year. Anglers on the pier are still trying for sturgeon without success, but sharks are keeping them busy.
With the bass heading for the warmer climates of the back sloughs in the north and south Delta, most Sacramento River bait anglers are targeting sturgeon in a number of different locations. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait confirmed the good action in the Big Cut with salmon roe, and he said, “Sturgeon have been coming in from several spots as the fish are on the move.” Flounder continue to be taken from the shoreline with pile worms, but the large striped bass have moved out of the area. Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported a few sturgeon were weighed in on over the weekend with the best action near the Pittsburg PGE Plant or Chain Island in deep water to 50 feet. Further upriver, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “There is plenty of bait in the north Delta, but the stripers just aren’t there yet,” adding, “I was able to catch and release a single large striper on an umbrella rig in Snodgrass Slough, but overall the stripers haven’t arrived.” In the San Joaquin River, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, found a school of stripers in the 3 to 9-pound range on Monday, but he said, “They are moving fast,” adding, “We beat on them for a while with the ima Big Stick or the Double AA swimbaits in the morning before they moved out and we couldn’t find them again.” For largemouth bass, Pringle continues to slow down and use smaller versions of Berkley Power Worms with crawdad or shad scents on a Zappu head or drop shot. “An absolute dead-stick presentation is necessary,” said Pringle. Doug Chapman at Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Most of the stripers have been in the 18 to 20-inch range with few shakers and also few fish larger than this,” adding, “With the slow striper bite, most fishermen are targeting sturgeon on the Sacramento River.”