Heavy pumping out of San Luis Reservoir is contributing to full or close to capacity flows in the California Aqueduct, and few anglers are stopping at the canals on their way north to San Luis or the O’Neill Forebay. The morning temperatures remain closed to freezing, and anglers need to be very cautious on the slick and icy concrete banks in the early mornings. The best canal action is in the Kern County with Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield touted lug worms, blood worms, sardines, or anchovies for sublegal to the occasional legal striped bass.
Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford reported a continued “awesome” bite with live jumbo or extra-large minnows with anglers landing “nice quality fish.” 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, but by far the best action is coming on the live bait. The Bait Barn is going through dozens and dozens of minnows each week. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing found good action for planted rainbows on a recent trip while fast-trolling heavy spoons from 3 to 5 colors of lead core. He had pre-fished earlier in the week and found trout busting on the surface, but they were unwilling to hit the spoons. As a result, he came prepared with side planers and night crawlers, but they weren’t necessary since the planters were willing to bite this time out. He said, “The best accumulation of bait is down at 90 feet, and I think the larger rainbows are holding down there.” Boats over 20 feet are advised to launch at Fleming Meadows. A trout plant is scheduled for this week. Call: Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fishn’ Dan (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn (209) 874-3011.
The live minnow bite continued to provide the best action for bass on the lake with Manny Basi of the Bait Barn in Waterford saying, “It is an awesome bite right now as we are selling dozens of extra-large and jumbo minnows.” Jason Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling confirmed the interest in live minnows with a high demand for medium minnows for fishermen seeking crappie. The occasional large fish is taken on trout-patterned swimbaits, but the top artificial remain working the bottom with a slow presentation with shad-patterned worms on the drop shot. Trout fishing has improved with trollers picking up limits in the Cottonwood arm with Kastmasters tipped with a night crawler through the shade line from the trees or with blade/crawler combinations. The banks at Barrett’s Cove produced limits with garlic Power Eggs in orange or yellow. A trout plant is scheduled for this week as well as a plant at the small local reservoir Yosemite Lake. The lake dropped 1.5 feet 683.53 feet in elevation to 22 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
Victoria Sturdevant of McSwain Marina reported vastly improved action with two trout plants occurring within the past week. The Department of Fish and Game and Calaveras Trout Farm dumped approximately 1,000-pounds each within a few days of each other. Bank fishermen are scoring with Power Bait in chartreuse or rainbow, white garlic Power Bait balls, or night crawlers. A 6.5-pound rainbow was landed from the point to the right of the marina on Power Bait. Trolling is improving with the warming water temperatures, and the action continues above the floating restrooms with silver/blue Kastmasters, Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a dodger, or night crawlers behind a cowbell flasher. Still fishing with rainbow or chartreuse garlic Power Bait have also produced limits of rainbows. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.
Trout are taking the top spot at the lake, and Gary Burns of Take It to the Limit Guide Service said, “We have been putting limits in the boat every time we go out, and we are finding our best action from the banks in the backs of coves with garlic or salmon egg Power Bait,” adding, “We have been fishing in the far south of the lake and around Mormon Creek.” Burns advised using a 30-inch sinker with a sliding sinker and leaving a little slack in the line to allow the trout to swim off with the bait. Gold Kastmasters have also been effective. 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 continued plants from the Department of Fish and Game.” She added, “Bank anglers are catching limits off of Glory Hole Point and near the Tuttletown launch ramp with floating Power Bait or Gulp Eggs off of the bottom, and garlic scents have been particularly effective.” Trollers are advised to work from the surface 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 this week. Bass fishing has improved with anglers starting to land chunky spotted bass in the 2- to 4-pound range. Xperience Fishing guide John Liechty caught and released two giant largemouth bass in the past week with rainbow trout patterned swimbaits. Lewis said, “He landed both of the big fish on back-to-back casts.” Lewis added, “There is a large population of fish that are schooling up in deep water from 30 to 50 feet while some fish are moving up fairly shallow throughout the day in order to feed.” She advised using electronics to locate shad schools since the bass will be holding around the shad. Vertical jigging with spoons, drop shotting, or dropping half- to three-quarters-ounce California Reservoir jigs are all good techniques. Catfishing continues to be slow. Crappie and bluegill action is non-existent. New Melones dropped slightly to 949.19 feet in elevation and 43 percent of capacity with Tulloch rising slightly to 499.87 feet in elevation and 82 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.
Coyote Bait and Tackle reported the stripers are scattered throughout the lake and holding in the deeper sections. The full moon encouraged the fish to feed at night during the past week, and Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said, “The bite windows are small, and I’ve seen them turn off and on more quickly than I can ever remember. The general bite has been tough-about a 2 rating in the big lake, but there have been a few lunkers for experienced anglers willing to work hard.” George took out Fresno anglers Ron Mayebo and Don Purcell for 14 released stripers in the 18 to 22-inch range, but he was able to put Mayebo onto a trophy lineside at 25-pounds. “Mayebo is a renowned Valley fishermen and this was his first trip back to San Luis for 10 years.” “We went back Sunday, but we only got a few small fish, which is how it’s been going,” George said. He also said that Byron and Kim Strickler of Fresno told him they fished the big lake Saturday and Kim hooked a huge personal best 42-inch, 33.5-pound striper on a Rapala in the dam area on only their third ever trip to the lake. Byron, who is a well-known local Brown trout specialist, said that they tried to revive the fish for a half-hour, but the hard fight overcame it. Patrick Movey of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Fresno confirmed that trolling lures and drifting jumbo minnows are both producing a few large fish. Water temps are around 51.5 degrees. In the forebay, Adam Moore at Valley Rod and Gun reported a “hot bite” with white swimbaits, white flukes, or rip baits. The lake held at 31 percent of capacity with an import of 1,954 acre-feet of Delta water due to water releases into the California Aqueduct. 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 of Roger’s Guide Service (559) 905-2954.
Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat said, “The Mavericks Surfing Festival and Competition didn’t happen this weekend since the swell backed off, but we were able to get out on Saturday on a sand dab/crab combination trip for 15 limits of Dungeness crab, 180 sand dabs, and numerous kingfish.” 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.
Sand dab/crab combination trips and whale watching will dominate the scene until the start of the 2014 salmon season. Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported plenty of sand dabs and six limits of crab on the Check Mate on Monday, and they have been returning with limits of crab on the last several trips including 21 limits of crab on Saturday. Gray whales continue to make for great viewing on the Star of Monterey. Call: Chris’s Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; www.usafishing.com.
Out of the Golden Gate, there hasn’t been much taking place with minimum interest in running 45 minutes to the gate only to have a longer ride to fish for sand dabs. Emeryville Sport Fishing hasn’t had a trip out since the rockfish closure on Dec. 31. Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait in San Rafael said, “The occasional bass and sturgeon are taken in the clear water, but we need the tides to stir things up.” There haven’t been any recent herring spawns, but Fraser said, “They may appear any day now.” Around half of the commercial herring quota has been reached.
The sturgeon appear to be moving back into Suisun Bay after a push of diamondbacks migrated into San Pablo Bay in response to massive herring spawns around the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge. Captain Chris Smith of the Captain Hook, found great action on both tides in Grizzly Bay on Saturday for a 57-inch sturgeon on the outgoing tide and a released a 42-inch diamondback on the incoming tide. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle said, “They are tearing them up out there,” in reference to sturgeon action in Suisun Bay. He added, “Lamprey eel and grass shrimp combinations have been very effective, and salmon roe is also continuing to work.” Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported overall slow striped bass fishing with sturgeon near the Pittsburg PGE plant providing the most action over the past week. Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported an improved sturgeon bite with the best action in the deeper sections of Broad Slough, Montezuma Slough, and in upper Suisun Bay with salmon roe, grass shrimp, or ghost shrimp. The eighth annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby will occur Saturday out of Martinez Marina. In the far north, sturgeon are showing up near the Green Bridge in Freeport in spite of the low water flows, and this appears to be the upper end of sturgeon action with few fish migrating past Sacramento. J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has found solid action for schoolie stripers in the San Joaquin River system tossing swimbaits. Despite the cold water, Richey has been scoring in the early morning hours with shad-patterned swimbaits. Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the resurgent striper bite, touting the stretch of the river from Three-Mile Slough towards Sherman Island with Fish Traps or various types of swimbaits. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported the waters of the San Joaquin are “crystal clear;” and with the recent warming trend, the largemouth bass are becoming more and more active in mid-January as opposed to the end of February during a normal year. He said, “The bite is changing quickly, and the ima Rock ’N Vibe, a rattling bait, and the 10-inch Berkley Power Worm are starting to work for better than average fish due to the warming water conditions.” 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.