The action has heated up in the Central Valley aqueducts with sales of white flukes taking off the past two weeks. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “We have sold at least 15 bags of white flukes, quarter- to half-ounce jigs heads, a few Lucky Craft 128s, and plenty of anchovies for anglers taking stripers to 23 inches in the aqueducts.” Patrick Movey of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The action has slowed just a bit, but Storm swimbaits and white flukes remained popular.” In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Jacob Rutledge of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The striper action remained very good with lots of fish caught, but most of the stripers are undersized. There was a 32-inch striper taken on a green pumpkin Gitzit.” Sardines have been a big seller for the southern water conveyance systems.
Monte Smith of Gold County Sport Fishing reported decent trout action on a recent trip over the weekend for two limits consisting of a German brown and nine rainbows trolling heavy spoons at three to six colors of lead core on a fast troll. He said, “We started off near the dam in the morning, but a number of boats moved in so we went searching in the main lake.” Smith brought along night crawlers, and with the fish breaking the surface in the early afternoon, they put the crawlers behind a Vance’s Little Slim Willie dodger on sideplaners that resulted in three hookups within a half-hour. Smith said, “The fish were on the surface, but they weren’t biting, so it was important to switch up the technique.” Bank fishermen were scoring with night crawler/marshmallow combinations with chartreuse or hot pink marshmallows under a bobber from the shoreline around Fleming Meadows. Jumbo and extra-large minnows remained the top option for bass, followed by drop shotting shad patterned plastics such as Robo Worm’s Hologram Shad or Pro Worm Pro Gold 300 are working at depths to 50 feet. Boats over 20 feet are advised to launch at Fleming Meadows. The lake dropped slightly to 734.90 feet in elevation and 52 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.
Jay Graham of the Fresno Bass Club said, “We scratched out limits during Sunday’s tournament with most of our action in the Cottonwood Arm,” adding, “We found the fish in shallow water along a 200-foot stretch of rocky bank early in the morning with Robo Worm’s Aaron’s Magic patterns of plastics before switching to shad patterns.” The swimbait action remained slow despite several fishermen throwing the heavy baits throughout the day. The Barrett’s Cove north ramp is closed, and the south ramp is difficult to access in the dark in the shallow water. The trout plant last week brought out the bite for bank fishermen along McClure Point and Barrett’s Cove, and Basi touted marshmallow/night crawler combinations under a bobber. Trollers are finding decent action in the main lake near Temperance or the dam with blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler behind a dodger. The lake held at 679.59 feet in elevation at 21 percent of capacity. Call: A-1 Bait (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh (209) 404-0053.
Victoria Sturdevant of the McSwain Marina reported the recent trout plant improved the trout action with bank anglers scoring near the handicapped docks and along the left shoreline near the marina. Pot O’Gold spoons in rainbow trout, white garlic Power Eggs, and chartreuse or rainbow glitter Power Bait are effective. Trollers are scoring up the river arm with blue/chrome Kastmasters, night crawlers behind a silver or copper dodger, or PPK Tomahawk spinners in chartreuse. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534.
Melanie Lewis of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported continued fair trout action with plenty of fish near the surface for shoreline fishermen to target. On sunny days, the rainbows are moving out into slightly deeper water, cruising at 15 to 30 feet in depth. Bank fishermen are scoring off of Glory Hole Point and near the Tuttletown Boat Launch with Power Bait, Gulp Eggs, marshmallow/night crawler combinations, Kastmasters, or Krocodiles. Trollers are advised to work near the surface in the mornings before dropping down to 15 to 25 feet in depth with lures such as the Rapala Scatter Rap on a long setback from 150 to 200 feet. Fred McAlister of Fresno landed a giant 10.49-pound brown trout on a trout-patterned Rapala Scatter Rap, and unfortunately, the trout inhaled the lure and succumbed despite McAlister attempting to revive the fish for more than 10 minutes. Huge bass made it to the scale during the past weekend’s California Trails Tournament with a giant 10.48-pound spotted bass taken by Keith Bryan of Powell Rods along with a 10.14-pound largemouth landed by Alex Niapas. Bryan’s fish would have been a world-record at the original weight, but it was weighed later in the day on a certified scale at 9.90-pounds. Dan Routh caught and released a 12-pound, 13-ounce largemouth on a California Reservoir Lures Toad Thrasher, and he credited John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service for advising him on the proper technique. There remained a decent jig bite with half- to three-quarters ounce football head jigs worked in 25 to 40 feet of water while dart heading, drop shotting, or shaky head soft plastics are all working. Reports of kokanee in the 10- to 13-inch range are trickling in. Lewis advised trolling a pink Micro-hootchie behind a teardrop dodger within the next several weeks for the opportunity for a kokanee. Catfishing continues to be slow. Crappie and bluegill action is non-existent. New Melones held at 950.21 feet in elevation and 44 percent of capacity with Tulloch holding 500.02 feet in elevation and 83 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.
Cas Castrence of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported a slowdown in the main lake with anglers only picking up a few stripers dropping jumbo minnows or trolling with P-Line Predators, broken back Rebels, Rapala, or Smithwicks at depths from 50 to 80 feet. Bank anglers have been concentrated around Dinosaur Point to cast out the hard-to-get blood or pile worms for stripers. Bait fishermen are advised to call the bait shop prior to making a trip for blood or pile worms since the deep freeze back east has made these baits scarce. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said, “The bite has been the toughest this year, with fish scattered and suspended all over the place. Conditions look favorable, but ever since we had the front go through a week ago and the full moon, the fish have been on weird patterns. Water temps have come up to 54 degrees from 51 degrees and the lake rose around seven feet. Minnow anglers and trollers we talked to were both struggling.” In the forebay, the best striper action has centered around the Highway 152 Bridge, and fishermen are reporting up to 15 linesides to 25-inches casting white flukes and Lucky Craft rip baits or soaking bait. The lake held at 32 percent of capacity with heavy pumping of 10,408 acre-feet of water from the Delta and a corresponding amount send down the aqueduct systems. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service (559) 905-2954.
Capt. Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat continues to load up on sand dabs and Dungeness crab with limits of crab and “all the sand dabs they wanted” on Saturday. All party boats are open for the anticipated salmon opener, and Sherry Ingles of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing said, “There isn’t much happening going on right now with the exception of crabbing from the pier and along the rockwall with snares as well as a few surf perch, but things will change in six weeks with the opener of salmon season.” 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 a slowdown in the crab counts over the weekend with the Check Mate returning with 2.5/crab angler on Sunday for 20 fishermen to go with loads of sand dabs. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing reported good perch action from the Santa Cruz beaches with the 10th Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby only two weeks away. Hosted by The Let’s Go Fishing Radio Show, the derby serves as a benefit event with all proceeds going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Chris’s Landing (831) 375-5951; Bayside Marine (831) 475-2173; www.usafishing.com.
Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker went into San Pablo Bay on Saturday, and he put Jenny Retherford from Blue Lake onto a limit of stripers out of the seven total landed during the day. Art Ruiz of Shingletown put in an eight-pound halibut, and Vladimir Quijano of Redwood City landed the big fish with a 10-pound striper. The Bass Tub went trolling in the south bay with herring on Saturday, and Captain Morgan Williams landed the first halibut of the season at 12-pounds. The Bass Tub and the Lovely Martha out of San Francisco have already started trolling for halibut in the bay despite still being the month of February. In San Pablo Bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported decent sturgeon tides until Wednesday of this week, and a number of oversized sturgeon have been caught and released near the Pumphouse with frozen mud shrimp still being the top producers. This week’s rainstorms should suck a few more sturgeon into the waters of San Pablo Bay.
Capt. James Smith of the California Dawn, reported excellent action for sturgeon in Suisun Bay. He said, “On Saturday, we had three oversized sturgeon and a pair of shakers before boating a 57-inch legal sturgeon on Sunday to go with two oversized at 66 and 71 inches with shakers at 38, 35, and 35 inches.” John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing said, “The fish have been moving around quite a bit, and they were at the east end of the (Mothball) Fleet before an accumulation moved into the Big Cut over the weekend.” Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento touted sturgeon action in the upper sloughs from Prospect upriver to the metropolitan Sacramento area near Freeport. J. D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing continues to score on the San Joaquin River with top water lures in the early mornings and on overcast days to go along with 5-inch RoboWorm Ocean swimbaits on a quarter- to half-ounce Strike King Flats jig head. Richey continued, “The technique is to grind the swimbait slowly along the bottom, and we have hooked and lost some large fish, so there are some big stripers in the San Joaquin.” The grade of fish has ranged from schoolies up to 8.5-pounds. For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, is looking forward to the next wave of inclement weather to turn the bass bite “wide open” for rip baits, spinner baits, and crank baits as the water will turn off color with the winds stirring up the Delta waters. He has been scoring with half-ounce chartreuse/white Persuader spinnerbaits in low light conditions or on the high tide for the occasional “better than average bass” between 3 and 5-pounds. He said, “There will be a large wave of fish on the beds during the next full moon.” After weeks without baitfish in the San Joaquin River system, the shad, green-eared perch, bluegill, and small crappie are providing abundant feed. Overnight closures on Highway 160 from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Wilbur Avenue, south of the Antioch Toll Bridge, to the junction of Highway 12 for a $2.98 million rehabilitation project to the Three Mile Slough Bridge could remain for the next two months. 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.