The Fresno Bee
March 6, 2018
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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Eastman bass continue biting, Merritt Gilbert said. Don Pedro kicking out big bass, Dave Hurley reported. McSwain trout action good, Steve Marquette said. Pine Flat trout and bass bites solid, Greg Sweeney reported. San Luis stripers on the prowl, and Monterey surf perch hitting Mickey Clements said..
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal
Striper 2 Catfish 2
Greg Sweeney of the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The northern section of the aqueduct is showing life as the water releases from San Luis Reservoir have increased. The key is locating open headgates with moving water as the stripers are holding in the current. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, the action for both striped bass and catfish remains fair at best.
The popularity of the California Aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, and in order to maintain the right to continue to fish along these public areas, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing.
Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Eastman Lake was California’s first trophy bass lake with a minimum size limit of 22 inches, and the action for quality largemouth bass has been excellent over the past six weeks.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Quality largemouth bass in the 4- to 6-pound range continue to located on the bottom at depths from 12 to 15 feet with plastics on a Carolina-rig, Ned rigs, or with jigs in crawdad patterns. The reaction bite has been slow with the colder conditions, and everything has been on the bottom. I know of one limit of five fish at 23 pounds, and as a result of the potential for a quality limit, the lake has been receiving heavy angling pressure.”
The Kerman Bass Club held a club tournament at Eastman on Saturday with a 4-fish limit, and Ron Orbaker took first with 17.88 pounds including a big fish at 5.82, Mitch Melikian in second with 15.24 pounds, and Tony Lopez in third with 14.59 pounds.
The lake rose to 61 percent this week.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
At nearby Hensley, Gilbert said, “The lake has been slow for all species for the past several months, but the bass action has been picking up with limits in the 8.5- to 9-pound range. Everything is also on the bottom, and although most anglers are heading to Eastman for better numbers and quality, Hensley is starting to get some play.”
The lake rose slightly 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 1 King salmon 2 Crappie 2
105 teams descended upon the lake for three days over the past weekend for the Wild West Bass Trails, and there were some huge largemouth bass in the 8- to 9-pound range weighed in during the first two days of the event. The final results were not available at press time, but Steven ‘Bub’ Tosh of Modesto and Paycheck Baits led wire-to-wire from the first day, posting a day two weight of 34.51 pounds for 10 bass. Trout and king salmon action remains slow, but the action should improve as we move into the spring. The few rainbows that are taken by trollers are in the 2- to 5-pound range. The lake dropped slightly to 82 percent.
A trout plant is scheduled for Modesto Reservoir this week.
Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Gary Vella 209-652-7550
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
With the cold weather and low snow levels in the Sierras, most area fishermen are concentrating on trout in the small impoundments with Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, garlic/garlic, rainbow garlic, or Bubblegum along with Mice Tails and Sierra Slammers minijgs for planters. The River Walk will host the annual Bakersfield Firefighters Derby on March 10, and the event is limited to 800 participants. Trout plants are scheduled at the River Walk, Truxtun, Ming, and Hart Park this week with a plant scheduled for Lake Isabella during the week of March 18. The lower river has slowed for planted rainbows with the lack of planting. At Lake Isabella, a few anglers are concentrating around the Auxiliary Dam for planted trout with Power Bait or nightcrawlers. The cold has knocked back the crappie and bass. Lake Isabella held at 30 percent. The 29th Annual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby will occur March 24-26 with trophy trout in net pens at Red’s Marina to be released prior to the derby. Information and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com.
Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Greg Sweeney of the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “When the lake is this low, there are only a few places that will be holding bass, and those in the know will always catch them. There have been some double-digit largemouth bass taken within the past week, but these are by anglers who really know the lake. Those with less experience will struggle right now.” The NewJen Bass Tournament held an event on Sunday, and the few teams put together limits just over 10 pounds. The lake came up slightly to 17 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
There were some large limits of bass over 19 pounds taken during Sunday’s Cen Cal Elite Tournament out of the limited number of participants. The overall bass bite has slowed with the cold water, but similar to Kaweah, fishermen in the know will find the bass since there are only so many locations in the lake holding fish with the low water conditions. The lake rose slightly to 21 percent.
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 0 Crappie 3 Catfish 2
Morgan Swisher reported that the MKA Motherlode (Kayak) Series event had 46 anglers (29 limits reported) fishing tough prefrontal conditions with Damian Thao winning the length oriented tournament with a 48.25 inch total. Bottom baits fished slowly was the best technique.
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/McSwain Parks and Recreation said, “The crappie bite is coming on with live minnows or minijigs in structure, and catfish are taken with cut baits along muddy, sloping banks. Bass limits have been in the 8- to 10-pound range, and the bass have moved out into deep water with the cold weather fronts moving through the area.” A finesse presentation with plastics on the Ned rig or drop-shot at depths from 40 to 60 feet are the top bets. The lake rose slightly to 67 percent.
After months and months of slow action due to the lack of trout plants, regular plants at Lake McSwain are attracting anglers to the shorelines.
Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Parks and Recreation said, “Regular plants from both the Calaveras Trout Farm and the Department of Fish and Wildlife have created plenty of interest in the lake, and the shoreline has been shoulder-to-shoulder from the marina to the dam on the weekends. I have never seen so many fishermen out here, and the trout fishing from the shoreline is the best it has been in years with limits to 7 pounds coming from the banks with live minnows, nightcrawlers, or trout dough bait in bright green, pink or orange. In all years I have been here, it has never been this good. The regular plants have made all of the difference, and Calaveras Trout Farm is putting in rainbows to 7 pounds. The annual Merced Irrigation Trout Derby is April 7-8, and we expect a large group to be present for this annual event.”
The Lake McSwain Marina is now stocking live minnows, and they will be also stocking live crawdads within the month.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The largemouth bass bite has gotten tougher in the past week with cold weather and colder water the rule. Small spotted bass are still available, but anglers have to slow down with everything found on the bottom with plastics on a Ned rig or dart head as the reaction bite is null and void at the present time. The key is to stay on the bottom with a slow presentation. Limits in the 7.5- to 8-pound range are possible. The lake held at 64 percent this week.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
Another week of cold temperatures, snow levels at 1,500 feet, and heavy winds and rain have created challenging conditions in the Mother Lode reservoirs, and New Melones was no exception to this recent phenomenon.
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service said, “The conditions have been brutal this week, and the action has been tough, but this bodes well for good action in the spring. We are getting closer and closer to spring, and the water temperatures may move up from the mid-50s into the high 50s this week. The spotted bass are really healthy, and this species are more adaptable to the dropping water levels as they start out spawning in 18 to 20 feet, ending up around 12 feet while largemouth bass will start out around 8 feet and end up with their tails sticking out of the water as the level drops. With the receding water levels, the bass are being forced out into deeper water.”
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, ‘With the recent cold front coming in on New Melones and the pressure from anglers, the bass will be less aggressive and wary.”
Trout fishing is fair at best, but the opportunity for a quality rainbow remains as Miles Donovan-May of San Andreas was soaking trout dough bait in garlic in Angels Cove, and he landed a 5.1-pound rainbow.
Crappie and catfish remain slow with the cold weather.
New Melones dropped to 80 percent this week.
Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service 209-743-9932
Pine Flat Reservoir/
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The spotted bass action remains one of the best in the Central Valley as the numbers and size have been stronger than at nearby Millerton. There are upcoming bass tournaments on the lake including the Bass 101 Open on March 10 and the Central Valley Kayak Fishing on March 11.
Greg Sweeney from the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The key right now is to slow down your presentation with a finesse approach. The bass that wanted to come up have been pushed back to the 30-foot depth.”
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The action remains on the bottom with jigs, Ned rigs, or plastics on the drop-shot as the colder temperatures have been keeping the bass out into deeper water. They are holding off of vertical rock wall or ledges, and the reaction bite has slowed down this week. Several fishermen have been taking live crawdads into Sycamore Creek and leaving with limits of bass, and there are also crappie in the trees in Sycamore Creek at 30 feet with live minnows or minijigs.”
The second annual ‘King of the Clubs’ tournament sponsored by the Fresno Sportsmen’s Warehouse will take place on April 7, and it will involve teams of local bass clubs including last year’s champions – the Visalia Bass Club. The Visalia Club has joined with Success Bass Club for this year’s event and will be known at the Cen Cal Bass Club. Also participating will be the Sierra Bass Club from Clovis, the Kerman Bass Club, Taft Bass Club, Fresno Bass Club, Mid-Valley Bass Club from Madera, Bass 101 from Fresno, the Roosevelt High Bass Fishers from Fresno, and Bakersfield Bass Club, Inland Empire, and Kern Valley Bass Masters from Bakersfield.
Sweeney is the organizer for the ‘King of the Clubs,’ and he said, “The event is run like a Bass Master’s Elite with 5 two-man teams launched within five different flights 10 minutes apart. We will also run the Lost Creek Challenge on the same day for those club members not in the King of the Clubs, and the entry fee is $25 with $250 for the big fish at three different times along with another $250 for overall big fish. Lost Creek products must be used for this event, and this is our signature brand at Sportsmen’s Warehouse.” Sweeney will be bringing his expertise to other locations in the state to organize similar events.
Trout fishing is solid with Duane and Ben Davis of Fresno limiting out with rainbows in the 12- to 16-inch range dragging #2 Needlefish at 3 to 4 colors of leadcore near Deer Creek. Cop Car Apex lures are also working.
Trout plants are scheduled for the lower Kings for the next three weeks and for Avocado Lake next week.
Pine Flat rose slightly to 53 percent.
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 2
San Luis Reservoir has been pounded with wind and rain throughout the first week of March, but when the weather cooperates, striped bass action remains solid.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There are tons of 4- to 5-pound stripers coming from the shorelines with Zoom Magnum flukes in white ice or smoky shad, Duo Realis jerkbaits or Lucky Craft Pointers. We have also been selling plenty of Mega Bass ripbaits as most anglers are plugging instead of trolling right now.”
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Trollers are successfully using the new Yozuri Hybrid Minnow LC in bone or red head/white -as they are similar to the Diawa SP Minnows.” The forebay has been pretty much the same with small fish the rule, but there have been more bait fishermen soaking pile worms or jumbo minnows than throwing lures at the present time.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the big news has been that the lake has stopped going down. “It’s encouraging to see that they are holding the lake at about 1.57 million acre feet right now and we have more rain in sight. The water guys I’m talking to are saying we have about 30 percent of normal watershed going so far and with a little more the reservoirs should be OK for the rest of the year. That’s some great news. That should keep our fisheries going.” George is leading another “Downrigging 101 class for Stripers” Saturday at San Luis.
After dropping several percent last week, the lake dropped only slightly to 76 percent this week in response to heavy pumping out of the south Delta.
A trout plant is scheduled for Los Banos Creek Reservoir this week.
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 905-2954
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
A dusting of snow fell on the lake over the weekend and during the week, and the launch ramp has been problematic with the icy conditions. With the low level of water along with no courtesy dock, it is difficult to launch a larger boat. The launch fee has doubled from $5 to $10. The bass action should take off once the water clears and warms. The lake rose to 57 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com.A trout plant is scheduled for this week.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Kaiser Pass Road close several months ago, and access to the area will be limited to snowmobile. Edison is at 29, Florence remains at 2, and Mammoth Pool at 21 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee 2 Trout 2
Five feet of snow fell in the region over the past week, and this effectively shut down the bank and boat action for both rainbow trout and kokanee. Once the weather clears, the bite should be back on for trollers pulling Dick’s Trout Busters or similar lures tipped with either a nightcrawler or corn from the surface to 10 feet for rainbow trout or from 20 to 27 feet from Black Rock to the island for kokanee. The Sierra Ramp is currently in the water. A webcam of the lake is available at sierramarina.com/camera.html updated every 20 minutes. Trophy trout plants from the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will be released into the lake closer to April. The lake rose slightly to 45 percent.
Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937
Courtright is down 100 feet with Wishon down 80 feet, but five feet of snow fell in the area. The gates remain closed at Dinkey Creek, and they will most likely open to Wishon by May 1.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf perch 3
There are a few weeks left before the ocean salmon season is expected to open on April 7 with rockfish south of Pigeon Point on April 1. The local rockfish season above Pigeon Point will open on April 15. At the present time, party boats are conducting maintenance in preparation for the upcoming seasons.
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat has been taking the occasional crab-only or sand dab/crab trip until the rockfish opener, and he along with Captain Bob Ingles of the Queen of Hearts out of Half Moon Bay Sport are willing to make the long 18-mile run south below Pigeon Point before the local season opens on April 15.
From the beaches, the annual Monterey Bay Salmon and Steelhead Fundraiser, the Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby, will be held out of Santa Cruz on March 8, and surf anglers can come up the coast as far as Half Moon Bay as long as they make the weigh in time. Ed Liu of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito said, “The wind has been the limiting factor for surf perch, and you have to have heavy gear to fight the 25 knot winds that have been the norm. The surf has been rough as well.”
Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459
Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand dabs 2 Surf perch 3
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “We went out on Saturday, but the big swell made for slow sand dab action along with making pulling the crab pots difficult. We ended up with 35 crab for 11 fishermen, and they were able to scratch up some sand dabs. We cancelled on Sunday, but we plan trips on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in addition to the weekend. There are a lot of anchovies in Monterey Bay right now, and the commercial boats are coming in with a few hundred ton every night. There is no krill however.”
Mickey Clements at Coyote Bait in Morgan Hill reported a continued excellent perch bite from the Santa Cruz and Monterey County Beaches with the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow in MS Anchovy, Anchovy Venus, and Zebra MS Ghost Minnow being the top color patterns. A few schoolie stripers are also coming from the surf.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “High winds continued to vex anglers on Monterey Bay, particularly in the afternoon hours. Crabbers were best served by scheduling their pot-pulling and re-baiting for the very early morning hours.
Further offshore, the problem is even worse. Captain Mike Baxter pilots the occasional whale-watching trips on Stagnaro Sportfishing’s beautiful Velocity. Whale tours often need to travel miles offshore in order to find and view the majestic cetacean giants that visit Monterey Bay. But, the further out you go, the worse conditions can be.
Despite the 60-foot length of Stagnaro’s flagship, Baxter says things have been tough. “It was so choppy and rough, we could barely see the whale spouts. The spumes were literally zipping sideways in the wind. A cascade of spray drenched the boat, we had to keep everyone off the bow.” Baxter said.
In Santa Cruz, Stagnaro’s Sportfishing is running sanddab trips on the weekend and sometimes during the week.
Surfcasting for perch and striped bass was a little fickle this week. Some surfcasters were frustrated at many of their productive spots, getting only nibbles or hooking dinky perch. Other anglers hit the right place at the right time, like Santa Cruz fishermen Craig Pappas and Tom Wong. This pair scored some big ones from a beach in Santa Cruz. Pappas reported, “We’ve hammered the perch these past two weekend at all tides. Camo or red sandworms and of course, sandcrabs. Tommy Wong with his true measured 17-inch and 15-inch fish this past Saturday. We hit it both Saturday & Sunday morning two hours after high tide to low tide. No one else around other than us. Just kept moving to stay on them.”
The marine weather forecast indicates a big swell for the weekend that will be dropping by Sunday. Along with the rainstorm this week, that can be good for beach structure. And, hopefully will get the perch bite going again in time for the Sand Crab Classic Derby scheduled for next weekend.
If the calm weather persists into next week, it may be well worthwhile to go halibut hunting. This winter saw a steady catch of the big flatfish. This is unusual, but a promising indicator for springtime fishing. Rockfish season will open April 1 this year under California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations.”
The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest is this coming Saturday, March 10, and it has been sold out for some time as it is limited to the first 300 contestants. Proceeds from the event going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.
Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters held off from sturgeon fishing during the weekend as he does not like the tides. He said, “With the small water movement, you would have to fish deep water, and in San Pablo Bay, that’s where the sharks are. The bait-stealing crabs have been pretty thick during our last few trips, but the fresh water should change the conditions for the better.”
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “This rain should improve the sturgeon action in the coming days as the water will be warming up. This is what we have been waiting for. The Cuanang Brothers went out earlier this week, and since I wasn’t at the bait shop in the early morning with the icy conditions on the ramp, they went casting near the Marin Islands for striped bass. After I opened, they returned for ghost shrimp, and they landed 9 striped bass with five being legal to 5 pounds.” Fraser has frozen mud shrimp in the shop along with ghost shrimp and pile worms. He also received a shipment of live Dungeness crab on Thursday.
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported on and off action for striped bass, but there have been some big linesides in excess of 30 pounds caught and mostly released on live splittail or mudsuckers. The fluctuation in water temperature from cold to warm and back to cold has made for a more challenging bite. Sturgeon fishing has been consistent from south of downtown through the Southern Crossing into the mouth of the river with lamprey eel, ghost shrimp, or salmon roe. The consensus is the recent rains will bring more sturgeon into the Napa River.
Ed Liu of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito reported improved striped bass action from the shorelines with both bait and lures. Stripers have been found off of the Berkeley Flats and behind Costco from the shoreline with Kastmasters, heavy swimbaits such as the Berkley Mullet, or with bucktail jigs. He said, “A few halibut have been landed in the south bay off of Oyster Point with heavy swimbaits. Most of the halibut have been undersized, but there are a few legal ones in there.”
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
Surf perch 2
The San Luis Obispo harbors will be running whale watching and nature trips until the rockfish opener in April. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis is also running crab/sand dab trips from January to March. Surf perch action is decent from the beaches with blood worms, lug worms, Berkley Camo Worms or Grubs. Rockfish season opens on April 1st, and both harbors are taking reservations.
Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100
Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The week of cold and rainy weather brought out difficult conditions for sitting on the anchor, bringing out lockjaw for most sturgeon fishermen in Suisun Bay. The water temperatures are holding in the 50-degree range, but there is promise of a big break out for sturgeon in the coming weeks.
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg was out both on Saturday and Sunday, and he said, “The weather was so cold on Saturday as it was hailing with the wind blowing by mid-day. We only had two real good bites, and one was a suicide run that caused my client to lose the rod and reel over the rail. I was fortunate enough that the fish came off, and I was able to hook the line with a big treble hook and bring the $600 rod/reel combination back to the boat. Sunday’s weather conditions were much better, and we were able to pick up a 40-inch keeper along with a few stripers fishing at Garnet Point. The Horseshoe was loaded with fish, but they wouldn’t bite, and Montezuma Slough was crowded with boats. Single cured salmon eggs have been the secret for the past few months, but with the closure of the Nimbus Wall, the supply of salmon roe is going to drop way down and fishermen will have to resort to ‘old school’ tactics before roe became such a good bait for sturgeon.”
Mitchell will present a seminar on sturgeon fishing techniques at the Sacramento Boat Show at Cal Expo at 12:00 noon on March 11th. Mitchell predicts a solid month of March for sturgeon fishing, and he believes that the bite will go into the spring even after many of the six-packs have returned to San Francisco Bay.
Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Martinez put in a legal sturgeon along with a few bass on Saturday, but the action earlier in the week was much slower.
Captain John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing said, “We got skunked on Wednesday, but I wish we could have stayed in the Big Cut for the outgoing tide. The combination of the west wind and outgoing tide was just too much. We have landed over 130 legal sturgeon this season, and the key has been the cured roe. I also went up to Pittsburg before coming down to the bottom of the Big Cut, and there are fish everywhere but getting them to bite today was a challenge.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported quality striped bass at 27 and 17 pounds were brought into the shop, and although they declined to report the successful bait, the linesides were bright and clean as if they just came out of San Francisco Bay. He said, “The ghost shrimp was spotty over the weekend with heavy rains in Washington and Oregon affecting the bait, but we went through 125 dozen over the weekend. I know that things will change in less than two weeks as spring arrives, and the bite should break out for everything.”
J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing will be presenting seminars on striper fishing in the Delta at the Sacramento Boat Show on March 10 and 11, and he plans on heading into the Sacramento-Delta this week to hone his technique prior to the seminars.
The Battle of the Phenix Rods Charters will take place on two days – March 30 out of Martinez Marina for sturgeon and March 31 out of Korth’s Pirates Lair for striped bass with selected six-pack captains participating in the event.
The water temperatures have a major effect on the Florida-strain largemouth bass, and the combination of freezing temperatures, cold rain, and constant wind have worked to cause the Delta temperatures to recede.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Right now it is time to slow things down as the water temperature has dropped with this series of cold fronts moving through. Last week’s temperatures in the high 20’s caused the water temperature to plummet, and you have to fish extremely slow. You can still catch fish, but you have to find current out of the breeze with clean water. The ima Flit 120 ripbait in shad patterns or Olive Herring continues to be effective, but you have to keep the lure in the strike zone as long as possible. The a black/blue jig on a ½ oz. jig head tipped with a Berkley Max Scent Chunk as a trailer is also effective, but it is important to stay out of the wind.”
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Guide Service said, “Delta striped bass fishing is good with some good fish mixed in with schoolies. The current water temperatures are between 49 and 52 degrees depending on the time of the day. I like to use large flies at this time of year, and March and April are two of the best months of the year to catch our personal best striped bass in the Delta.”
Kenji Nakagawa of P-Line went out into the central Delta this weekend, and he said, “We went in between the storms on Friday and Saturday in search of stripers, and we found mostly males from 1- to 5-pounds, but we did catch and release an 18 pounder on Friday and hooked and lost a 20-pound striper at the boat on Saturday. The water is still 50/51 degrees which is cool for this time of year, and the fish are lethargic as a result. The jerkbait is the only thing they would eat, and it had to be paused for 3 to 5 second as they eat it on the pause. There are definitely some better fish around, but we just had to run a ton of water to find the lone larger females. I expect the bite to bust loose within the week.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento continues to find good bass action in the north Delta in the Mokelumne River by flipping jigs and casting spinnerbaits in chartreuse/white, but the stripers are mostly absent with small groups of linesides moving in and out.
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch predicts the crappie and bluegill bite will break out within the next two weeks, and he is also anticipating a solid catfish bite, saying, “I am going to start digging for clams once again.”
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
Bass 2 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Nacimiento, the cold weather over the past week shut down the building white bass bite, but there will be good times on the horizon with the relatively high water conditions for the past year. Spotted bass remain active with plastics on the drop-shot or Texas-rig along with small spoons. The water temperature dropped to the low 50’s. The lake rose to 43 percent. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. At San Antonio, the cold temperatures have also put a damper on bass fishing, but finesse plastics or jigs are picking up a few largemouth and smallmouth bass. Striped bass remain inactive for the most part. The South Shore Marina remains on the winter schedule starting Friday at 6:00 a.m. through Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The lake held at 31 percent. At Lopez, similar to the other coastal lakes, the cold temperatures put the largemouth bass into deeper water to 35 feet, and plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head, or Texas-rig along with Hula Grubs, Brush Hogs, or jigs are working for largemouth bass over 5 pounds. There was a reaction bite building before the cold weather, but the action will take off with stable weather. A webcam of the lake is available at http://805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam/. At Santa Margarita, working the bottom with Hula Grubs, Brush Hogs, or jigs are picking up the larger bass while crappie can be taken on minijigs, nightcrawlers, or tube baits in and around structure. A slow presentation is necessary with the cold water.
Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com 805-466-6557
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports on Half Moon Bay, Monterey/Santa Cruz, San Francisco Bay and San Luis Obispo
Dan’s Delta Outdoors: March 3 – 1, Harvey Pulliam/Jamond Andrews, 18.84 pounds; 2, Mike Andrews/Phil Dutra, 17.50; 3, Jeremy Zipton/Clif Vanderwerf, 15.96. Big Fish –Mike and Lori Birch, 8.79 pounds.
American Bass Association: March 3 at Delta/Russo’s Marina – 1, Dan Fonte/Bobby Barrack, 21.16 pounds (Big Fish 6.76); 2, Billy Hume/Mike Kuhlmann, 21.57; 3, Chris and Jason Ball, 16.80.
Wild West Bass Trails: March 2-4 at Don Pedro – Pro Division, 1, Steve “Bub” Tosh, 44.31 (Big Fish – 8.13); 2, Cody Murray, 41.60; 3, Jay Williams. 41.49. Amateur Division, 1, Jason Folkes, 45.60; 2, Richard Leal, 43.13; 3, Jake Stephens, 41.77. Big Fish – Dennis Sisto, 9.67.
MKA Motherlode (Kayak) Series: March 3 at McClure –1, Damian Thao, 48.25 inches; 2, Obedie Williams, 47.5; 3, Felipe Maciel, 47.25 (Big Fish 18).
Kerman Bass Club (4 Fish Limits): March 3 at Eastman – 1, Ron Orbaker, 17.88 (Big Fish 5.82); 2, Mitch Melikian, 15.24; 3, Tony Lopez, 14.59.
NewJen Bass Tournaments: March 3 at Pine Flat – 1, Josh and Jason Sanchez, 12.26; 2, Garrett and Dale Wells, 11.39; 3, George and Jordan Espino, 11.37. Big Fish – George Rosales/Ray Grammer 4.88. March 4 at Kaweah – 1, Derek Frigge/Jessie Rodriguez, 10.65; 2, Sergio Mendoza/Miguel Rodriguez, 10.21; 3, Johnny and Mike Beasley, 9.81 (Big Fish 2.98).
Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments: March 4 at Success – 1, Ian Sherrill/Martin Warren, 19.86 (Big Fish 5.65); 2, Grant Byers/Jaime Marquez, 19.39; 3, David Coy/Jerry Williams, 19.31.
March 9-11: New Melones/Pardee – Angler’s Press
March 10: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/Christian Bass League; Delta/Russo’s Marina – NewJen Bass Tournaments; New Melones – Bass Busters of Santa Clara; Tulloch – Sonora Bass Club; Millerton- California Tournament Trail; Kaweah – Golden Empire Bass Club; The RiverWalk in Bakersfield – Bakersfield Firefighters Trout Derby; San Antonio – Kern County Bass Masters; Nacimiento – Riverside Pointseekers; Lopez – Best Bass Tournaments
March 11: Tulloch – Kings VIII Bass Club; Eastman – Kings River Bass Club; Pine Flat – Central Valley Kayak Fishing/Bass 101 Open; Nacimiento – Riverside Pointseekers
March 17: Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina; New Melones – Best Bass Tournaments; Don Pedro – NewJen Bass Tournaments; Lopez – Bakersfield Bass Club
March 18: Delta/Brannan Island – Central Valley Anglers Striper Derby; Delta/Big Break Marina – Dan’s Delta Outdoors; Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis Marina; Millerton – American Bass Association; Success – Porterville Bass Club
March 20: Don Pedro – Mid Valley Agriculture
March 24-26: Lake Isabella – 29th annual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby
March 24-25: New Melones – Kerman Bass Club/Bass Anglers of Northern California; Don Pedro – Fresno Bass Club; San Antonio- San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
March 24: Delta/B and W Resort – American Bass Association; Don Pedro – Angler’s Press/Contra Costa Bass Club; Bass Lake – Sierra Bass Club; Success – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
March 25: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation; Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Modesto Ambassadors; Success – Success Bass Youth
March 30: Don Pedro – E and J Gallo Winery
March 31: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Merced Bass Club; Don Pedro- RiverRats Bass Club; Lopez – American Bass Association
April 1: New Melones – El Dorado Bass Club
Week of March 18
by state Department of Fish and Wildlife
Fresno County: Kings River below Pine Flat Dam, Avocado Lake
Kern County: Lake Isabella
Madera County: Manzanita Lake
Tulare County: Murry Park Pond, Del Lago Park Lake