Bass fishing continues to be best with live bait, and Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported an “awesome” bite with live jumbo or extra-large minnows. Drop shotting with shad-imitation plastics such as Reaction Innovation’s Bad Shad Green, Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad, or Pro Worm’s Pro Gold are working on a slow presentation in deep water. Trout fishing continues to be good from the banks with night crawler/marshmallow combinations. Trollers are scoring near the surface along the shorelines with heavy spoons, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler, or blade/crawler combination. A trout plant is scheduled for next week with a plant at the small local reservoir Yosemite Lake the week of Jan. 26. Swimbait action continues to be slow, but the larger bass can be taken with this manner for those willing to work hard all day, tossing the heavy lures. 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 has been best with live crawdads or minnows as both Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling and Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford touted live bait. Mello said, “One boat found very good action for bass with live crawdads, but overall the bite has been ‘hit or miss.’ ” Basi reported live minnows are working for bass from the banks, and both shops have a supply of minnows with A-1 loaded with live crawdads. Crappie fishing is picking up with several landed on minijigs in the Cottonwood Arm. Trout fishing from the banks at McClure Point remained solid with garlic Power Bait in orange or lemon-lime. Trollers have been scoring with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a flasher near the shoreline. A trout plant is scheduled for next week. The lake dropped 1.5 feet to 685.11 feet in elevation and 22 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
Victoria Sturdevant of McSwain Marina reported generally slow action with the lack of plants over the past several weeks. The Department of Fish and Game will be planting the lake this week, which should turn on the trout action for trollers and shore anglers alike. Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling confirmed the slower action, but said, “Trollers say they are marking plenty of fish above the floating restrooms, but they aren’t getting them to bite.” Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp said, “The trout are still biting and they should continue for the next couple of months with most fishermen landing a combination of holdovers along with planters.” The rainbows are concentrated near the surface in shallow bays and creek channels. Bank fishermen are scoring off Glory Hole Point or the Tuttletown boat launch with rainbow, chartreuse, salmon eggs or pink floating Power Bait or Gulp! Eggs, particularly when scented with garlic. Bank fishermen with a two-rod stamp are casting with Krocodiles or Kastmasters with one rod while soaking Power Bait on the other. Trollers are focusing their efforts near the surface at depths to 15 feet with Speedy Shiners, Needlefish or ExCels on a long-line to 200 feet or with a sideplaner to get close to the shoreline. A trout plant is scheduled for next week. Pete Cameron of Galt caught a chunky 3.44-pound brown trout on the main lake while trolling a broken back Rapala. Trevor Stewart caught and released a handful of nice rainbows while fly fishing and casting lures with Xperience Fishing Guide John Liechty. The quality of spotted bass has been excellent with the fish fat and healthy in the 2- to 4-pound range, but Lewis touted the action as “fair.” The fish are schooling in deep water from 40 to 70 feet in the morning before moving up in the afternoon. A slow presentation on light line continues to be necessary, and 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. Catfishing continues to be 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 949.43 feet in elevation and 43 percent of capacity with Tulloch dropping slightly to 499.19 feet in elevation and 81 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.
Patrick Movey of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Fresno reported the best striper action has been by trolling with downriggers at depths from 50 to 100 feet with large plugs such as P-Line Predator Minnows, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, Smithwicks or broken-backed Rebels. Coyote Bait and Tackle confirmed the troll bite but added that drifting jumbo minnows in the normal locations of the Track Racks, Portuguese Cove and the island continues to produce fish. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service took out a small group of Roosevelt High School Bass Fishing Club members as a reward for their work in the community and classroom this semester, and John Her landed/released a 12-pound striped bass. All participants caught fish – measuring and releasing all of them. George said, “The bite windows are very defined and can turn on or off very quickly. For most guys the fishing has actually been pretty slow in the flat, calm conditions – and they are only pumping a little at night. I would rate it slow to decent now.” Water temperatures are around 51 degrees. In the forebay, the action remains slow, and bank anglers are tossing jumbo minnows or blood worms for the chance at a legal stripers. The lake rose to 31 percent of capacity with an import of 1,954 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, Roger George’s Guide Service (559) 905-2954.
Sand dab/crab combination trips are the story in the coming months, and Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is one of the few boats running for the tasty flatfish and crustaceans. He said, “The crab counts have really fallen off, and you have to keep pulling pots to put together limits since there are a number of females showing up in the mostly empty pots.” Captain Roger Thomas of the Salty Lady will be running whale watching trips for the Oceanic Society every weekend out of Half Moon Bay with reservations available at the Oceanic Society or (415) 256-9604. 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 plenty of sand dabs and 18 limits of crab on the Caroline while the Check Mate loaded up with 21 limits of crab and bucketloads of sand dabs on Sunday. Whale watching remains good for California gray whales on their migration south, but the humpback whales have moved out. Anchovies are starting to show up in the bay, and the commercial boats are starting to work the anchovy schools. The squid have vacated the bay for the time being. Call: Chris’s Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; www.usafishing.com.
The best action has been in San Pablo Bay for sturgeon. John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing put in four limits on Friday fishing on the eastern end of San Pablo Bay near the Mare Island rockwall with diamondbacks of 59, 56, 51, and 49 inches on salmon roe. In the south bay, John Akina of Oyster Point Bait, Tackle, and Deli in South San Francisco reported the herring spawns near Coyote Point have stopped, but sturgeon fishing has been decent with two diamondbacks brought to the shop on Saturday for a total of four this week. The best action remains from boats on the anchor near Coyote Point with herring as bait. A reminder: Sturgeon may not be taken in the following described area between Jan. 1 and March 15 – that portion of San Francisco Bay included within the following boundaries: a direct line between Point Chauncy (National Marine Fisheries Laboratory) and Point Richmond, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and a direct line between Point Lobos and Point Bonita.
The herring spawns in San Pablo and San Francisco Bay have sucked a number of the Delta’s sturgeon into the bays in order to gorge on the herring roe and herring, but there are still a number of diamondbacks holding near the Mothball Fleet. This is prime time for Delta sturgeon with two large derbies occurring within the next month. The eighth annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby is Jan. 25 out of Martinez Marina. Information and registration is available at www.diamondclassic.org. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “The fleet has been the top area for stripers, and Mike Molleson of Benicia landed a 19-pound striper on a grass/ghost shrimp combination near Buoy 2 by the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported few sturgeon have been landed in this section of the Sacramento River, but striped bass in the 5- to 12-pound range have been brought to the shop from Chain Island or Broad Slough on frozen shad or mudsuckers. 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.