Fishing report for week of Jan. 30-Feb. 5 | Stripers best bets in Aqueduct, San Luis

Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.

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Best bets

Aqueduct stripers feeding, Steve Newman said, New Melones bass biting, Steve Liechty reported. Don Pedro bass waking up, Ryan Cook said. San Luis stripers hitting, B.J. Kendricks reported.


1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat


Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs

Striper 3 Catfish 2

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun reported good striped bass action in the northern section of the California Aqueduct with jerkbaits or flukes for numerous undersized and legal linesides in the 18- to 20-inch range. In the southern portion of the aqueduct in Kern County, the striped bass fishing remains strong with large and jumbo minnows along with flukes or tubes are all working for the linesides.

Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657

Eastman Lake

Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

The low elevation lakes northeast of Fresno of Eastman and Hensley are starting to perk up for bass fishermen as the water is starting to warm up after a few weeks of cold weather.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Despite tons of pressure on Eastman over the past several months, the bite is starting to rebound with a number of 3-pound largemouth showing up. The cold front pushed the bass into deeper water, but they are coming up into the shallows in the afternoons, and Senkos on a wacky-rig or jigs in crawdad patterns are working. The bass are pretty lethargic, and you have to work slow as the reaction bite is limited. The 10-foot range is holding quality largemouth bass, and although the lake is stained, the water clarity isn’t as bad as expected with all of the rainfall that we have received.” Eastman rose to 48 percent.

Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255

Hensley Lake

Bass3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Newman reported Senkos, jigs, and plastics on the drop-shot have been the best producers for largemouth bass to 2 pounds. He said, “One of our good sticks who regularly fishes Eastman and Hensley was at Hensley this week, and he reported a pretty good bite.” The lake is still low and boaters are running their trolling motors instead of the main motor with the hazards under the surface.” The lake rose to 25 percent.

Call: Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151

Lake Don Pedro

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2

Don Pedro is heating up for largemouth bass as more fish are moving up into the shallows. Trout trolling remains a winning proposition, and kokanee to 14 inches have been reported this week.

Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “There hasn’t been much change in the bass bite this week with the exception of a lot more fish moving up into the shallows. The water has risen, and the lake is stained a big more. We have landed a bass over 5 pounds on three out of four guide trips this week, and it is a numbers game right now as you can land bass on a variety of methods. Plastics on the drop-shot, jigs, or swimbaits on a slow presentation are all working for a similar grade of bass, and they are mostly stacked in the creek channels, island tops, and over main lake points. Going slow is the way to go with any bait, and a slow drop-shot or slowly dragging a jig has been our top technique. 6-inch Fatty Worms in Oxblood along with ½-ounce Fatty jigs in the shallows are working.

Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits said, ” Our Purple Hornet or brown/purple jig along with Pro Worm’s 300 on the drop-shot are producing. The reaction bite remains slow, and a slow presentation is essential.”

For rainbow trout, Monte Smith will be on the lake on Monday, and he is throwing some kokanee gear in the boat as one troller picked up five rainbows, a crappie, and two kokanee to 14 inches running spoons in the top 15 feet on a fast-troll from 2.0 to 2.7 mph. He said, “The appearance of the kokanee is surprising as it is normal for trollers to not target them until later in the spring. The bait remains deep, and we haven’t marked any sizable shad schools for a while. I will be bringing out my smaller spoons along with kokanee gear as the water remains clear, and it has dropped to 54 degrees.”

To protect the main body of Don Pedro Lake from floating debris, part of the Tuolumne River and Moccasin Creek channels have been boomed off. The rest of the lake is open.

The lake rose slightly to 74 percent.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008, Gary Vella 209-652-7550

Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

Construction on the dam repairs is expected to start within the next few months. The Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby is scheduled for April 13-15, and registrations are being taken. There is a total prize pool of $26,544 and counting, and all top five positions will pay double with the purchase of a T-shirt or hoodie. Online registration is open, and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com, then proceed to Calendar & Events, and click on Isabella Lake Fishing Derby Link. Catfish remain the top species at Isabella for the few anglers trying, and Triple S Dip Bait, frozen shad, nightcrawlers, or chicken livers are the top offerings. The lake rose slightly to 13 percent. The upper Kern River near Kernville will be planted this week, and action is decent in the deeper holes with live crickets, salmon eggs, Roostertails, Panther Martins, or nightcrawlers.

Another 500-pound plant is scheduled at Lake Ming sometime this spring, but it will be the only local lake planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Buena Vista is planted by concessionaires on a bimonthly basis. In the Kern River, Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville is giving talks to fishing clubs on the Golden Trout Wilderness Pack Station and what it has to offer for the upcoming season. He will also be presenting seminars on the Kern River at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show from Feb. 22-24.

Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

The lake rose from 17 to 20 percent in the past week, but local anglers have been focusing north at Pine Flat for the upcoming Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournament. The bass are starting to move up in the afternoons, but the best action is with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs in deep water near rock.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 2 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 3

Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville reported a tough bass bite saying, “Bass fishermen are having some success with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot on a slow presentation.” The lake is at 18 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river is flowing well, and anglers are picking up rainbows and browns on nightcrawlers or spinners. Fly fishing with Woolley Buggers or nymphs is a good option.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com

McClure Reservoir

Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2

Numbers of spotted bass remain consistent, but the fish are scattered at various depths. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “We picked up a 3.5-pound spot in one foot of water and one at 4 pounds in 75 feet. It is hard to pattern right now.” Slow-dragging 6-inch Fatty Worms in oxblood on a quarter-ounce dart head is working in deep water while half-ounce jigs are effective up shallow. Five-inch plastics on a Neko-rig are another option. Numbers of spotted bass are no problem. The bait is still plastered to the bottom and absent for the most part. The lake rose to 59 percent.

Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing 691-7008

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 3

Steve Marquette of the Lake McSwain/Lake McClure Recreation Company reported a plant of 750 pounds from the Calaveras Trout Farm was released into the lake this week, and the best action is coming from the shorelines at the Brush Pile, cabins, and the Handicapped Docks with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or combinations of the two in the stained water. Trolling is fair in the upper portion of the lake above the 2nd Fence Line.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “I was out mid-week, and you have to slow way down with 4- to 6-inch worms or creature baits on a dead-stick presentation on the drop-shot at depths from 40 to 60 feet. We were working off of the larger main lake points into flats and setting up in 30 feet and working uphill back to the boat after casting into 60 feet. You have to let it sit, leave it there, and shake it just a bite as you have to put it in their face. Green pumpkin/purple, Prism Shad, Blue Crawler, and other crawdad patterns are working best on the plastics while jigs in green pumpkin/orange or green pumpkin/red are best. You may have to go up to 3/8th-ounce on the jigs instead of ¼-ounce to hold your jig on the bottom. I went up the river arm to see if I could get a rise from a striped bass on spinnerbaits or Whopper Ploppers, but I couldn’t get a striper to rise to the bait.”

Millerton rose to 60 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1

The bass bite continues to improve as the fish are found in various depths and locations throughout the lake. With the continued lake of trout plants, trollers are finding minimal action and starting to opt to greener pastures.

John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service said, “We have been catching fish like crazy, but the bass are scattered throughout the lake at various depths and locations. I caught and released a 5-pound bass in 60 feet of water on a jig, and we have landed a number of 3- to 4-pound bass in 25 to 40-feet of water. The lake has been flat calm this week, and I am sure that there is a swimbait bite here, but we have had so much success on jigs or plastics on a shakey head that we haven’t tried the big reaction baits. We have been covering a lot of water from the river arm to Angels Creek, and it is fun to work different areas of the lake. The best action has been along steeper banks around 45 degrees along with island tops or longer main lake points. We have been using tungsten jigs, and you can feel the difference when you are working the harder metal over the bottom. Daniel DiPerna of Sandman Tackle was with me on one trip, and he landed a 4.5-pound spotted bass on a tungsten jig. We haven’t landed any trout on the bass gear, and there were only four boats trolling for trout on the lake. Normally in January, you will see an entire fleet of trout trollers on the lake.”

The lack of trout plants has affected both the action and the number of trollers remaining on the lake.

The lake is at 77 percent of capacity.

Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service 209-743-9932

pine flat
Six-year-old Noah Perez shows off his first-ever catch along with his grandfather Jesse Perez, caught Dec. 24 at 11:15 a.m. at Pine Flat Lake. Noah used a green pumpkin red flake hula grub in 40 feet of water, Jesse Perez says. Special to The Bee

Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Pine Flat remains consistent for bass fishermen despite heavy tournament pressure over the past several weeks, but nearby Millerton remains tough overall. Pine Flat hosted the two-day

California Bass Nation tournament over the weekend, and limits to 14 pounds continue to be the rule.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The best bite at Pine Flat remains upriver from Trimmer to Sycamore Creek and Big Creek with jigs or plastics on a Ned-rig along with a wacky Neko-rig. Most anglers are focusing upon the river arm for largemouth bass from the bank to 20 feet, and the spotted bass are found in deeper water from 30 to 60 feet with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs on a finesse technique. The fish want the bait in their face, and it is important to let the bait sit and keep it in one spot, shaking it just a bit. You have to hunt around for the fish, and one angler put in a 5-fish limit out of only 7 bites all day on a Ned-rig in 10 feet of water. Limits in the 10- to 14-pound range remain the rule to win a tournament. There have been a few 3- and 4-pound bass taken, and Gary Wasson of Visalia landed a 4.25-pound bass in the river arm this week. The rising water has helped, and the flushing of debris has brought out terrestrials and insects for the fish to feed on. In the main lake, you have to be on top of them, and the best action has been on main lake points with plastics on the drop-shot. Crankbaits or jerkbaits worked slow have also been producing.”

The day one results of the California Bass Nation two-day tournament were consistent with the pattern with Ralph Encizo in first at 14.56 and Tim Wells in second at 14.19 pounds.

A few trout trollers are concentrating between Big Creek and Sycamore Creek with shad-patterned spoons such as Needlefish, ExCels, or Speedy Shiners, but the action has been slow with the exception of those fishing at night from the houseboats at Deer Creek with live minnows. The lake rose from 38 to 39 percent. In the lower Kings, regular trout plants are bringing out fishermen in the low water conditions with trout dough bait by the 1st Bridge below the dam or around Winton Park. The trout are holding in the deeper pools and running a single salmon egg from the ripples into a slow eddy has been producing planters.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1

The topwater bite at San Luis Reservoir broke out in a big way for experienced fishermen within the past week, and this adds another dimension to picking up linesides at the lake along with soaking bait and drifting jumbo minnows.

Travis Porter of Hollister found good action with JKings jerkbaits on Saturday morning, landing a number of school-sized striped bass on both the topwater and subsurface trolling lures.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis confirmed the good topwater bite with fish from the 15- to 30-pound range reported around Dinosaur Point and Portuguese Cove on Super Spooks or Whopper Ploppers in white with a big knocking noise. He said, “There haven’t been many boils, but anglers are searching and tossing the topwater lures when they mark fish.”

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service cautioned anglers about the big topwater bites with sporadic up and down days. “One day can be good and another just plain tough-so the glowing reports have to be taken with the grain of salt. Lots of boats are running all over and getting nada. Last Friday was a tough bite but we got 15 fish in half a day but nothing big. Other regulars said that Friday was hard but things improved again on Saturday. Some guys are putting the big fish back, which is what we need. The wardens are working the lake right now.” George’s Downrigging 101 class was a sellout and he plans to do another class in March.

B.J. Kendrick of Coyote Bait and Tackle confirmed the topwater bite, but he said, “Striped bass to 25 pounds have been taking drifting jumbo minnows, and one boat limited out within 20 minutes. The coves have been the best location for the topwater bite. We have been selling out of blood and pile worms within days of our shipment, and live jumbo minnows are also flying out of the shop.”

The lake rose to 84 percent due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.

Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 905-2954

bass lake
Joe Alvarado Jr. shows off his limit caught working the banks at Bass Lake. courtesy Joe Alvarado Jr. Special to The Bee

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0

The lake continues to rise at 60 percent, and the launch ramp is more accessible. The dock should be back in the water soon with the rising water. Rainbow trout have provided the best action for trollers pulling blade/’crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger at 4- to 6- colors of leadcore. The trout bite is best after 10:00 a.m. once the water warms up a bit. Bass fishing is fair with plastics on the drop-shot or Senkos on a weightless wacky-rig over structure such as rockpiles or lake points. The bottom of the lake remains mushy in areas from the decomposing grass. The reaction bite with swimbaits or umbrella rigs remains slow.

Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

Snow in the high country slowed down any interest in fishing in the Kaiser Pass region or the difficult to access high country as the road is closed for the winter.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake

Kokanee 2 Trout 2

Despite 5 inches of rain along with some periods of snow, Shaver Lake continues to attract a few boaters.

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The fishing has been slow with few boats on the lake, and following this last series of storms, there was only two boats on the lake. One boat was a regular Shaver troller from Fresno who picked up a nice rainbow at 14 inches after leaving the Sierra Marina launch ramp, but he never landed another fish for the rest of the day.

Tom Oliviera of Tom Oliviera Fishing was out with his friend, Dr. Potter from Tulare, and he said, “We fished in 40.7-degree water and landed a total of six fish. We trolled along the dam to Road 2, around the point towards the houses and then back. The fish were hard to mark, but we didn’t spend a lot of time searching. Dr. Potter and I used mini Mag Tackle’s pink or orange hoochies behind a Stealth Dodger in similar colors.

Nichols, Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service, and Oliviera will present a seminar on Shaver Lake trolling techniques for rainbow trout and kokanee at the new Turner’s Outdoorsman on North Blackstone Avenue in Fresno from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 28.

Boaters intending on heading up the hill to Shaver Lake need to check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp is available at www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. The lake rose to 53 percent.

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435


Road conditions to both lakes have been affected by the recent winter storms, and the gate at Dinkey Creek is closed, eliminating access to both Wishon and Courtright.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361


Half Moon Bay

Striper 2 Crab 3 Surf Perch 2

Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat was out on Saturday with a sand dab/ crab combination trip, and they returned with 16 limits of Dungeness crab along with 505 sand dabs. They have combination trips this coming Friday and Saturday, and Mattusch is limiting his loads to 16 anglers due to reducing tangles in the deep water.

Dungeness crab are still available from the commercial boats in the harbor, and Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete is selling live crab off of the boat on the weekends.

Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand Dabs 2 Surf Perch 3

The Caroline out of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey was out on Sunday with 17 anglers for plenty of sand dabs, a rock sole, 12 rock crab, and 41 Dungeness crab while the Check Mate was out on Saturday with 17 fishermen for plenty of sand dabs along with 68 Dungeness crab. They are running the combo trips sand dab/crab trips through April, weather and interest permitting.

Surf perch fishing has been very strong from Pomponio State Beach south to Zmudowski north of Monterey, and Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surf Casting Guide Service found good action on Sunday. He said, “High tide was around 4 p.m. today, just perfect for a sunset go-out on the dropping tide. Very pleased to find amigo Tommy Kaysen getting to the spot right as I did. We fished till dark for multiples.”

Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732

San Francisco Bay

Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported spectacular conditions on the bay on Sunday, but the ‘crummy’ tides slowed down the sturgeon action. The previous weekend, the sturgeon bite was on with much better tides with one boat catching and releasing 6 legal sturgeon and an oversized sturgeon. He said, “The bass are still biting, and the tides are getting good starting on Tuesday with minuses beginning Thursday. We are the only North Bay outlet for the Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby, and we are taking reservations for bait with two shipments of ghost shrimp coming this week along with live grass shrimp, live mudsuckers, and live jack smelt in the shop. The bay is really muddy right now, and with the coming set of tides, the sturgeon bite should be outstanding. The debris from the Delta hasn’t hit us yet, and we have received no complaints about bait-stealing crab, but there are plenty of small striped bass to run up the bait bill.”

Herring spawns have been the story in the bay, and a spawn broke out next to the Larkspur Ferry on Monday morning, leading anglers to toss out cast nets for bucketloads of fresh herring.

In the south bay, Laine’s Bait and Tackle in Alviso reported sturgeon fishing has been solid from the Dunbarton Bridge into the creeks on the inside, and the debris isn’t too bad in this part of the bay. Grass shrimp or herring have been the top baits.

Call: Captain Trent Slate, Bite Me Charters 415-307-8582; Happy Hooker 510-223-5388; Captain Jerad Davis, Salty Lady 415-760-9362; Captain Steve Mitchell 707-655-6736

San Luis Obispo

Nature and whale watching trips along with the occasional sand dab/crab trip will be on the schedule throughout January, February, and March until the rockfish season opens once again in April. Virg’s Landing has posted their prices for the coming rockfish season, and the two-day trips with meals included are $340. Two limits are a possibility on these trips to the lightly-harvested grounds north of Morro Bay. A reverse overnight with meals included is $245, an overnight is $175, full day $95, 3/4th day $75 and half-day $65.

Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100



Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

The first of two large sturgeon derbies occurred over the past weekend with the 13th Annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby out of Martinez Marina. Derby organizer Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing said, “Everyone had a blast, and all of our youth participants went home with gifts. Three youth participants caught and released a legal sturgeon along with a few shakers, and overall, we had 384 adult participants along with 80 youth. There was a total of 21 slot fish measured along with 5 oversized from the 37 dispatches for our weighmasters. For future Diamond Classis, I plan on really ramping up the youth program by going out to the local schools and publicizing the event since our focus is to bring out the next generation of fishermen to the sport. The seminar on Friday night was very well attended with standing-room only at the La Tapatia Restaurant in Martinez, and our six-pack captains put together an excellent event. Mike Andrews of Predator Sport Fishing presented information on the proper way to release a sturgeon, and many of the participants were taking notes and paying attention to his advice. In addition to Andrews and myself, Captains Don Franklin of Soleman Sportfishing, Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sportfishing, John Badger of Barbarian Sportfishing, Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sportfishing, Zack Medinas of Gatecrasher Sportfishing, and Joey Gamez of Golden State Sportfishing all participated in the seminar. We did keep our 7 weighmasters busy, and one of our weighmasters went above and beyond by pulling a catamaran off of the sand bar between Buoys 4 and 6. He got as close as he could to the beached boat and stripped down to wade out on the sand bar to the boat with his 300-foot tow rope. There were six children on the stranded boat, and they would have been there for a long time if our weighmaster didn’t take the extra effort to pull him off.”

The Diamond Classic provides a ticket for every legal sturgeon caught and released, and the tickets are placed into a bucket for the drawing at the end of the event. It is a blind draw so everyone who has placed a ticket in the bucket has an equal chance. Talmadge said, “This format is transparent, and since we don’t have a target-length or longest fish, it is impossible to cheat. I bring out the empty bucket and have a child draw the tickets.

Don Longanecker was fishing with George Wight of Antioch and Steve Nicholson of Delta Fishing, and he was the fortunate first-place winner with a 46-inch keeper for the first-place money of $3,360.00. All of the adult registration fees were distributed to the first seven tickets drawn for a total of $9600.00. Ronnie Dufour took the overall first-place in the Youth Division.

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing, one of the seminar presenters, put Joseph Johnson of Stockton onto a ticket in the derby with a 50.5-inch keeper, and he said, “We were fortunate to pick up one keeper, and the key was to move around since the bite was tough despite the water temperatures rising within the past few days to 53 degrees.”

Talmadge said, “I want to thank all the fishermen that participated, releasing all the fish and demonstrating top-notch sportsmanship during the derby. And of course, we could not have accomplished everything, especially the kid’s program, without all of the donations and sponsors. During Friday’s raffle, there were a total of 11 fishing trips on professional charter boats, custom rods from Mac’s Rods, Phenix Rods, Avet reels, Penn reels, a Yamaha 4-stroke engine, and a 50-inch flat screen TV. Check out our website diamondclassic.org for a list of all of the sponsors.”

The water temperatures are rising in the Sacramento-Delta, and once the grass from the recent inflow moves out, the sturgeon bite should go ballistic. There are plenty of sturgeon in the system but finding active feeding fish has been a challenge. Striped bass fishing is limited to cut baits with scent in the muddy and debris-filled waters. Submerged logs are a concern, and boaters need to use extreme caution, even during daylight hours.

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing reported overall tough conditions during the Diamond Classic, and he said, “A lot of people were complaining with all of the grass in the river. I think the grass will move out in a week or so, and the sturgeon bite should be outstanding. The water temperature has risen from 47 degrees a few weeks ago to 53 degrees right not, and it is only a matter of time before the sturgeon bite breaks out big time. The key is to keep moving around and looking for sturgeon on the bottom before you set the pick. We were able to put in one slot-limit fish at 50.5-inches for Joseph Johnson of Stockton on salmon roe – one of only 21 legal sturgeon landed by 384 participants in the Diamond Classic. Once the scores go up, the phone will start ringing for the party boat operators as I see it coming soon. Right now, boaters have to be very careful with the submerged logs all over the Delta. When we came in on Saturday afternoon, there were two huge logs just under the surface, and you couldn’t see them until you got right up on them as just a twig was sticking up out of the water. You must have a spotlight if you are going out at night.”

Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures was out on Saturday, but his boat was not entered in the Diamond Classic. He said, “Fishing was a bit slow, but we did catch and release three legal sturgeon along with three undersized fish on salmon roe. I look around for pods of feeding sturgeon before setting anchor.”

Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait in Freeport said, “The sturgeon have arrived in our section of the river, and the heavy current is drawing up the sturgeon to spawn in the upper river. Eel/nightcrawler or eel/pile worm combinations are working along with ghost or grass shrimp. The Clarkburg launch ramp along with the section of the river from Hood up to Knight’s Landing have been producing. Striped bass need some scent to attract in the muddy water, and blood worms or grass shrimp in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel are working for both stripers and sturgeon. The northern section of the Sacramento River is clearing up.”

Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported excellent sturgeon fishing from the banks in Cache Slough from the Hastings Island Duck Club with one fisherman catching and releasing six oversized sturgeon along with a keeper in the deep water on grass shrimp. He said, “The banks at Sherman Island near the Power Lines have been another hot area with keeper sturgeon at 56 and 57 inches taken on grass shrimp. The shrimp is as nice as it has been in 10 years, but right now, we have to cull through a lot of debris in the shrimp due to the King Tides and the fresh water inflow.”

Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, went sturgeon fishing this week in the Pittsburg area near Chain Island and also the Pumphouse, and he said, “There were plenty of sturgeon jumping, but there was a lot of junk in the water. I think the striper bite will break open soon with the water temperatures rising to 52 degrees, and I know of some clear water up in the sloughs so I will be heading up there for a striper troll this week.”

The shallows in the afternoons have been one of the best producing areas, and Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “Most of the sturgeon action has been in Suisun or San Pablo Bays, and one of our customers was in the shallows from 4- to 10-feet, and he caught and released seven sturgeon on the outgoing tide.”

Pam Hayes at Benicia Bait said, “Fishermen are still catching striped bass and some flounder off of the banks, and this is surprising as the striped bass should be gone by now. We are still taking bait reservations for next weekend’s Super Bowl Derby. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported a number of large flounder to 12 inches have been landed from the banks on pile worms, and keeper striped bass are also coming on the worms.

This coming weekend, the 35th Annual Foundation Sportsman’s Club Original, aka ‘Super Bowl’ Sturgeon Derby will be held on Saturday, February 2 starting at 7:00 a.m. to Sunday, February 3 at 1:00 p.m. The entry fee is $30.00 with a deadline of 7:00 a.m. on February 2. The target-length will be the same for both days, and it will be announced on Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. All persons in the boat must be entered in the derby as bank fishing is not allow, and no one entered in the derby is to fish on Friday, February 1 until Saturday at 7:00 a.m. All fish must be alive and must be measured at the Sportsman’s Club at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point. The bait shop at McAvoy’s has changed hands, but the shop is open and ready for the Super Bowl Derby as McAvoy’s is ground zero for the derby.

An early spring appears to be on the horizon, and the largemouth bass are starting to become active. The stripers are still mostly non-existent in the interior of the San Joaquin system with the best action still found along the western edges.

For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Right now we are seeing signs of an early spring with the trees starting to bud and farmers setting out their bee hives. The Florida-strain largemouth bass will be looking for warmth, and you will start seeing some big fish being caught in the coming weeks. The big fish are looking for a big meal as the water warms up, and the best bite should be at the height of warmth in the afternoon. 10-inch Power Worms are a good option right now as the fish are looking for something big, and the long tail of the worm will give a wiggle to attract the bass. Scent is important as well as making several casts to the same area as the bass may not find the bait until you put it right next to them. Staying as long as possible in the strike zone is another key.”

Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors said, “We held our first tournament of the year out of Russo’s Marina on Saturday, and the anglers had to adjust to the conditions by working dark-colored jigs in deep water. The deep pockets in Old River produced the big fish with a winning limit by the team of Jim LaRosa and Brent Ziesko at 20.23 pounds with their big fish weighing 6.16. I found these fish last week on jigs, and the reaction bite was slow, and those throwing the big glidebaits or swimbaits struggled. The water is warming up although the San Joaquin side is dirty. We had 22 boats despite many of our regulars up at Shasta for the Wild West Tournament, and this was a good start to the year.”

Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, was on the San Joaquin earlier in the week, and he said, “The river is a bit muddy, but we found clearer water with 2 feet of visibility around Mildred Island. However, I never got bit while targeting largemouth bass, and it has been some time since this has happened.”

Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported good striped bass fishing for those soaking live mudsuckers or ghost shrimp out of Antioch, and a number of legal sturgeon have also been landed on the live mudsuckers.

Fresh shad won’t be available for a few months, but most bait shops have plenty of frozen shad in the freezers.

Call: Randy Pringle 209-543-6260; Captain Mike Gravert, Intimidator Sport Fishing 916-806-3030; Vince Borges, Vince Borges Outdoors 209-918-0828; J.D. Richey, Richey’s Sport Fishing 916-952-1554

Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez

Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

At Nacimiento, the lake has risen 35 vertical feet within the past few weeks, and it is currently at 35 percent of capacity. If there are a few more storm systems that came in mid-January, the lake could possibly rise to 100 percent this year. The marina has already been pulled back to the shoreline, and it is accessible by land now. The best techniques for the spotted bass are plastics on the drop-shot, spoons, and underspins. The fuel dock will be closed until spring. The majority of debris has been removed from the launch ramp area, but boaters need to use caution as there is debris throughout the lake. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com.

At Santa Margarita, catfish remain the top species with cut mackerel or anchovies for the whiskerfish around the muddy, sloping banks. Bass fishing is fair at best with jigs or crankbaits for size while numbers are best with plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california.

At San Antonio, the lake rose to 17 percent, and bass fishing is slow with the best action on plastics on the drop-shot or jigs in deep water. Launching at the Harris Ramp is still a possibility, but the Lynch Ramp remains closed.

Lopez is decent for quality largemouth bass with deep cranks or jigs while numbers are taken on plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot, or dart-head with 4- to 6-inch worms. With the colder water temperatures, the panfish bite has slowed. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.

Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com 805-466-6557



13th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby: Jan. 26 at Delta/Martinez Marina – 1, Don Longanecker, $3,360; 2, Kevin Madore, $2,400; 3, Lyle Shores, $1,920.

Dan’s Delta Outdoors: Jan. 26 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Jim LaRosa/Brent Ziesko, 20.23 pounds (Big Fish 6.16); 2, Marc Young/Dave Newton, 17.23; 3, Mike Andrews/Phillip Dutra, 17.11.


Feb. 2-3: Delta/McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point – Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original “Super Bowl” Sturgeon Derby

Feb. 2: Don Pedro – New Jen Bass Tournaments, McClure – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/RiverRat Bass Club, Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments/Kerman Bass Club, Santa Margarita – American Bass Association

Feb. 3: Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

Feb. 9: Delta/Russo’s Marina – American Bass Association, Camanche – Bass N’ Tubes, Camanche – Central Valley Anglers Trout Derby, Tulloch – American Bass Association, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments/Sonora Bass Anglers/Oro Madre Bass Anglers, McClure – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments/Mid Valley Bass Club, Pine Flat – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Santa Margarita – Best Bass Tournaments

Feb. 10: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, McClure – Kings VIII Bass Club/NorCal High School Bass, Pine Flat – California Bass Federation, Success – Porterville Bass Club

Feb. 16: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Christian Bass League, Camanche – Gold County Jr. Bass Club, Don Pedro – Merced Bass Club, McClure – Best Bass Tournaments, Eastman – Sierra Bass Club, Millerton – American Bass Association, Pine Flat – Kern County Bass Masters, Nacimiento – Bakersfield Bass Club

Feb. 17: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker, New Melones – California Bass Federation, Don Pedro – Kerman Bass Club/Riverbank Bass Anglers/Modesto Ambassadors, Millerton/ Bass 101

Feb. 23: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation, Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina, New Hogan – Outlaw Bass Club, New Melones – Angler’s Press, Don Pedro – Wild West Bass Trails, Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club, Lopez – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers

Feb. 24: McClure – Fresno Bass Club/Kings River Bass Club

March 2: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournaments, New Melones – American Bass Association/Manteca Bassin’ Buddies, McClure – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments, Eastman – Kerman Bass Club, Lopez – American Bass Association

March 3: New Melones – New Jen Bass Tournaments, Don Pedro – California Bass Federation, Eastman – Central Valley Kayak Fishing, Success – Porterville Bass Club

Solunar table









































n = new moon > = peak activity