December 12, 2017
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. Have a photo of a recent catch to share? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with “fish photo” in the subject line.
Delta sturgeon and stripers hitting, Alan Fong reported. San Luis stripers biting, Coyote Bait said. Don Pedro trout active, Monte Smith reported. Pine Flat and Bass Lake trout bite is improved, Steve Newman said. Big San Francisco stripers arriving, Trent Slate reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 3; Catfish 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The Los Banos area of the California Aqueduct seems to be receiving the most interest, and anglers are doubling up by hitting the O’Neill Forebay and then the aqueduct on the way back to Fresno. Soaking anchovies or mackerel are the top baits while some are throwing jerkbaits or topwater lures into the boils near moving water. The bait is getting more active and balling up.” In the southern aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Striped bass have been coming off of tube baits, and we are now stocking large and jumbo minnows for both striped bass and catfish. Blood worms and sardines are also effective.” The popularity of the aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers. To maintain access, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and other debris when departing. A few anglers from the Bakersfield area have been hauling out several 33-gallon trash bags after picking up for others.
Bass 2; Trout 2; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
The overall bass bite has gotten a bit tougher, but there are fish to be had in the deep rockpiles from 15-20 feet with jigs, Senkos or Rat-L-Traps with the best action in the previously closed river section. Kayak fishermen are scoring with trout-patterned swimbaits on a slow retrieve near the bottom. The bass bite slows once the sun rises. The trout bite has improved with recent plants, and bass fishermen have been scoring incidental catches on crankbaits or umbrella rigs. Planters are taken from shore with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake held at 58 percent capacity. The RiverRats are holding an open tournament on New Year’s Day out of the Cordoniz Launch Ramp.
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2
Planted rainbow trout continue to be a good option from shore with inflated nightcrawlers, Kastmasters or Roostertail spinners in the shallows in the mornings. The bass bite is fair for a small grade of bass with plastics on the drop-shot, dart head or shakey head. Catfish are still a possibility with anchovies, nightcrawlers or chicken livers in the evenings. The lake held at 19 percent capacity.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2; Trout 3; King salmon 1; Crappie 2
The trout bite at Don Pedro is good, and the fish are fat and healthy because of abundant shad schools throughout the lake. Bass fishing is fair at best, but the lake is showing more and more signs of life with some reaction fish starting to bite. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing was out with clients twice this past week, and he said, “It is the same deal with my custom shad-patterned spoons at 3-4 colors of leadcore, and the key is to find the shad schools. You can see dimples on the surface where the trout are chasing the shad, and it has been an early bite for the most part. We put in a number of rainbows and even a crappie on Wednesday, and Thursday’s clients released everything including a 5-pound, 23-inch rainbow. The fish are spitting up shad when they hit the net, and we even lost a larger fish than this one within sight of the boat. The big fish was released after some effort as it took some time to pick up the strength to swim off. One of the keys is to finding the birds on the surface as they are also feeding on the shad schools. There aren’t a lot of birds on the lake, but they are concentrated into certain areas.” For bass, Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits said, “The bass are holding in deep water around the shad at 25-30 feet, and this has been the pattern for the past three to four weeks with the fish following the balls of shad. It is not a wide-open bite right now, but there is the occasional decent fish landed. Jigs, plastics on the drop-shot and swimbaits on a slow roll are the top techniques.” The lake held at 80 percent capacity.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2; Trout 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Most of our local fishermen are still targeting planted trout in the local lakes with what I call ‘The Holy Trinity’ – Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, rainbow garlic or garlic/garlic – as these are the most purchased baits by far. Trout plants at the local lakes are producing a few trout per rod for bank fishermen, and Buena Vista is also a good option with Power Bait or Mice Tails. The upper and lower Kern River has slowed down due to the lack of planting; but within a few days of a plant, the action returns with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, or live crickets. Few anglers continue to head up to Lake Isabella, but there are always catfish to be had with frozen clams, sardines, or anchovies. Bass fishing remains slow with few fishermen either trying or reporting.” The lake held at 29 percent capacity.
Bass 2; Crappie 1; Trout 2; Catfish 2
The lake dropped significantly to 7 percent capacity, with more than 1,000 acre-feet of release. Bass are holding in deep water and suspending with the dropping water. The New Jen Bass Tournaments held an event with 14 teams Sunday, and the winning weight was 11.48 pounds with a big fish of 3.27. The huge bass that Kaweah is known for are elusive at the present time. Planted trout are generating interest with Power Bait, Mice Tails or Kastmasters from the second launch ramp.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2; Bluegill 2
Cold weather has slowed the bass bite, and a finesse presentation with jigs or plastics on the drop-shot are the best options. The lack of tournaments scheduled at the lake have sent most bass fishermen to other waters. Shore anglers are targeting planted rainbow trout with Power Bait, nightcrawlers or Panther Martin spinners. The lake rose slightly to 12 percent capacity.
Bass 3; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Crappie 2; Catfish 2
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits said, “The bass bite is improving with more active fish holding around the thermocline from 25 to 40 feet with jigs, plastics on the drop-shot, or swimbaits on a slow-roll. The New Jen Bass Tournament over the past weekend produced a winning limit at nearly 16 pounds with a big fish at 6.87 pounds. The second big fish was 5.75 pounds by the second-place team so the larger fish are getting active. The bass are oriented to the shad schools and following the balls of bait.” The lake held at 65 percent.
Anglers are advised to contact McSwain Marina regarding the current status of the private plants from Calaveras Trout Farm. There will be none from the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the near future. Trout fishing is fair at best with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers from the normal locations of the handicapped docks, brush pile and the peninsula near the marina.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2; Striped bass 1; Bluegill 1 Crappie 1
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite at Millerton is getting tougher as the water has come up around 6 feet in the past week. We launched at the bottom of Ramp 2 last week and this week the ramp was on Ramp 1. With the water rising, there is more debris in the water that has washed off of the banks. The fish are eating well as they are loading up on both shad and crawdads, and some have red mouths like they are digging for crawdads in the rocks. The best action is on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head, but you have to run and gun for them as you might catch a good keeper in one spot, but that will be all. You have to basically put the lure in their face as they are not chasing with so much bait in the lake. The bite has been soft, and they are grabbing the backs of tails on the worms and letting it go. If you don’t set the hook right away, you will miss bites. Most of the bass are suspending above 20 feet.” Millerton has risen to 67 percent capacity.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 2
The rainbow trout are still around for trollers, but the action remains hit or miss. Bank action should turn on within the next few weeks as the rainbows move closer to the surface and shoreline with cold water temperatures. Bass fishing remains tough with the only action coming on the bottom with finesse techniques, but the big bass window in late January and February is only a few months away. This year should produce some quality largemouth and spotted bass with the abundant shad schools in the lake as a result of high water conditions. Gary Burns of Take It to the Limit Guide Service said, “If you want to put big ’bows in the boat, you have to put the time on the water. The last rainbow that we have landed have all come from around the Highway 49 Bridge from 12-28 feet with Cripplures or Needlefish in blue/chrome. We are running two top lines out of the back of the boat on a 1.25-ounce inline sinker on a 4-foot leader with a setback of 120 feet. My grandson Cole put in a 2.5-pound rainbow while another friend landed trout at 3.5 and 4.5 pounds on a recent trip.” Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “The lake continued to be a bit of a tough bite for the most part in November, with single fish outings in the 3- to 6-pound range for anglers, but the December bite has improved some with Captain Jay Bone of Lockeford pulling out his stringer for us along with his partners matching stringer, all 5-pound plus rainbows using Humdingers in green at a depth of 30 feet in the river arm. Bob Schmidt of Sacramento also brought in a nice limit of 4.1 to 4.7 pounds using Speedy Shiners in silver/green blue from the topwater to 20 feet deep. Bass fishing has been slow with the best action with jigs in crawdad patterns or plastic worms on the drop shop. Hildrebrand said, “Local anglers report catching 20-plus bass in the 2- to 3-pound range on the drop-shot and switching with jigs in order to target larger fish.” The catfish have moved deeper for the winter, and a few whiskerfish are taken by catfish dipping worm with Catfish Dip Bait in Cheese in 60 feet of water. The crappie bite remains slow. The lake held at 83 percent capacity, but major water releases down the Stanislaus River are scheduled.
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2; Trout 3; Catfish 2; Crappie 2
At Pine Flat, Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite is picking up with your better fish found at 20-30 feet with umbrella rigs or swimbaits. The good fish are few and far between, but the overall action is 180 degrees better than what is was a few weeks ago. It is still a drop-shot, dart head, or shakey head bite, and the fish are typically around the shad schools near main lake points or the backs of coves. The bass aren’t chasing the bait around aggressively as of yet as there is a smorgasbord of feed in the lake. The water temperatures at both lakes is in the 58-degree range, five degrees colder than two weeks ago.” For trout at Pine Flat, Newman reported good action in the river near Trimmer Marina or in the main lake from the dam to the Power Lines with Wedding Rings tipped with a ‘crawler or Apex lures in shad patterns or red/orange tipped with a nightcrawler at 4 to 6 colors of lead core. Bank fishermen are soaking trout dough bait or nightcrawlers at Island Park or Deer Creek for planters. Pine Flat held at 48 percent capacity
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 striped bass action at San Luis Reservoir remains solid with a variety of techniques including bait, topwater lures, drifting jumbo minnows or trolling plugs. Anglers are focusing on the boils in the coves in the early mornings before trolling at depths to 40 feet or drifting jumbo minnows. Travis Porter of Hollister said, “Most boaters did well on Sunday, landing numbers of stripers in the 20- to 23-inch range, and trolling seems to be the ticket. The minnow bite seemed to slow down for this weekend.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said he took out Charles Barber of Caruthers and Larry Kragh of Fresno for seven released fish in the 23- to 25½-inch range last week. “The bite last Thursday was tougher than usual, but we finally found some fish that would bite. We were using a variety of shad patterned lures from 40-70 feet,” George said. “The fish are beginning to act more like normal than I have seen all year. It’s funny, but the smaller fish aren’t in the mix as much as they have been the last month. The topwater bite is sporadic and seems to be early most of the time. I’ve had a lot of guys telling me they are releasing more fish than in past years because they are concerned about targeted overfishing by some groups working the lake. That’s encouraging.” Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Trollers have been getting in on the action with jointed crankbaits or ripbaits as the topwater Popper bite has been slowing down a bit. Jerkbaits are also effective along with umbrella rigs with shad-patterned swimbaits. In the O’Neill Forebay, there is more of a ripbait and fluke bite for smaller fish, and the best action is around the check gates when the water is moving.” Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported good action with Rat-L-Traps, jerkbaits, and topwater lures once the anglers find the boils in the mornings or evenings. After the boils slow down, trolling or drifting jumbo minnows have been the ticket. Bank fishermen are soaking anchovies off Dinosaur Point or the Romero Visitor Center at night. The lake has risen to 78 percent capacity with increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Bass 2; Trout 3
Bass and Shaver Lakes remain viable options for trout fishermen in the central Sierra. Lower-elevation Bass Lake is a good possibility with the only limiting factor the dropping lake levels keeping the launch ramp barely accessible as the lake is currently at 47 percent capacity. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The launch ramp is about at its end, and boaters have to be very careful with the icy conditions on the steep ramp. Trout fishing is good with the clear water, and even bass fishermen are catching trout on umbrella rigs or crankbaits. For bass, the swimbait bite hasn’t started as of yet, but with the clear water, the spots are chasing jerkbaits or umbrella rigs for the possibility of a 2- to 3-pound fish. The bass are holding along the edges of creek channels and the permanent docks as the weeds are still up in the main lake.” Webcams of the lake are available at basslakeca.com/.
Kaiser Pass Road closed Dec. 1, with access to the area limited to those on snowmobile. Edison is at 36 percent capacity, Florence remains at 2, and Mammoth Pool at 8 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 2; Trout 2
At Shaver Lake, Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters out of Shaver Lake said, “About one or two fish are the norm, and one angler landed two brown trout and a second-year kokanee to 14 inches this week, but I also talked to a friend who got skunked this week. My suggestion right now is to go shopping and buy your wife a special Christmas present and be prepared for the good fish days to come in the spring.” Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service will be holding a seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods in Fresno at 6 p.m. Feb. 8. Wittwer will cover Shaver kokanee fishing and last year’s results, while Nichols covers trolling for trout, the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project’s 2018 plants, and an overall forecast for the coming spring and summer. There will be prize drawings, with water and snacks provided. Nichols will be back on a part-time basis for the 2018 season on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays starting in April. Shaver has dropped to 51 percent capacity, with Huntington at 70 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
The central Sierra trout season is now limited to the lower-elevation lakes of Bass and Shaver as the road to Courtright and Wishon closed Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Rockfish 3; Striper 2; Crab 2
The Dungeness crab counts have slowed to a crawl after the commercial boats swooped in and departed quickly, but rockfish and ling cod action remains solid. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is the only large party boat running the crab/rockfish combination trips, and he said, “We had to pull 29 pots this week on Thursday in order to put in four crab a round for 18 anglers, but we loaded up with limits of rockfish and 10 ling cod. Dan Drexler of San Jose limited out on quality lings with Mattusch while fishing in 120 feet of water near San Gregorio, and Dave Holsenback of San Francisco picked up an 8-pound cabezon with Scott Kramer from Pacifica also limiting on lings to 16 pounds so there are some quality fish to be had.” Mattusch will be running crab-only or crab/rockfish combination trips until the rockfish closure Dec. 31, and run sand dab/crab combinations after Jan. 1. Farther north in Pacifica, Rob Chaney of the Rusty Hook in Pacifica reported good crab action from the pier for those throwing snares loaded with anchovies or squid. He said, “The pier has been crowded on weekdays now as the crab counts are pretty decent. There have also been a number of perch taken off of the pier on blood worms or pile worms. I went down to the beach last evening for a topwater session for striped bass, and I was able to release two small fish while missing out on a few quality hits. These were the only stripers that I saw landed off of the beach last evening. We are still selling plenty of snares, and I sold another 15 custom ones within a few hours on Sunday morning.”
Rockfish 4; Striper 2
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported excellent rockfish and ling cod action Sunday with the Star of Monterey heading down to Point Sur for 27 limits of ling cod and rockfish while the Caroline and Check Mate traveled around halfway to Sur at Twin Rocks. The Caroline posted 17 limits of rockfish and near limits of lings at 27 with the Check Mate scoring three-quarter limits of rockfish, 19 lings, and a bonus 30-pound halibut for 18 anglers. They have room during the next week, and Thursday will be a rockfish/ling cod trip only.
San Francisco Bay
Striper 3; Rockfish 3; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 2; Crab 2
Mike Aughney at USAFishing.com said, “The weather has been beautiful the past two days and that tread will continue to the middle of next week. Crab counts have dropped, but they are still holding up at about half-limits or five per angler on party boats. More than enough for dinner and considering that for the price of a little more than a straight rockfishing trip a very good deal.” Emeryville Sport Center had three boats out Saturday, and the Sea Wolf reported 27 limits of rockfish to go with 15 lings and 81 crabs. The Huck Finn reported 208 rockfish for 26 anglers adding 137 crabs and 15 lings while the New Salmon Queen had 125 rockfish for 15 anglers, six lings and 75 crabs. They have room all this week. Big striped bass are in San Pablo Bay, and Benicia Bait reported huge stripers have been showing up in the shop – with one fishermen bringing in three stripers to 25 pounds on Saturday. Hopefully, he was not fishing alone since we all know the limit is two striped bass. Another 37-pounder was brought into the shop this week from San Pablo Bay.” Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina had a great day on Saturday on the anchor near the Pumphouse with Loch Lomond ghost shrimp for a slot-limit sturgeon at 44 inches, a 38-inch shaker released, and limit of striped bass at 10 and 12 pounds. He said, “We also released a number of keeper bass, and I think this was excellent action for the conditions as the east wind kept us sideways throughout the day.” Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “There is a distinct possibility of live mud shrimp arriving in the shop on Wednesday as my shrimper reports good tides and weather conditions. The wind was up on Sunday, and it came in after 2 p.m. on Saturday, making for miserable conditions. The bass bite is best on the anchor with shrimp baits or live mudsuckers, and even though the tides aren’t good, there are sturgeon to be had. We have live ghost shrimp, live jack smelt, live mudsuckers, and live pile worms in the shop, and Ross Peterson is going to take some of the smelt out for a shot at halibut on Monday. We also brought in 300 live crab on Sunday, and live crab has been scarce over the past few weeks.”
San Luis Obispo
The rockfish season ends Dec. 31, and the interest in fishing has waned in the weeks prior to the holidays. Out of Morro Bay Landing, the Avenger went out on a three-quarter-day trip Monday with 16 anglers for half-limits of quality rockfish with 30 vermilion and 50 copper to go with 16 ling cod to 10 pounds. Also out of Morro Bay, the Fiesta’s last trip was Saturday with 16 limits of rockfish composed of 60 vermilion and 100 assorted. Marine McDonald of Delano took the jackpot with the largest vermilion of the day. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, the Flying Fish took out 14 fishermen on Monday for near limits of rockfish including 15 vermilion, 70 copper, 20 Bolina, and 15 assorted to go with 28 ling cod to 14.75 pounds. Of concern is the vastly decreased number of ling cod landed out of Virg’s Landing this season with just over 3,000 landed after two consecutive years of over 8,200 lings during the season. All landings are taking a variety of trips ranging from half day to long range in the coming weeks with the season ending Dec. 31. Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait said, “South Valley anglers are taking blood worms or lug worms to San Simeon or Pismo Beach for surf perch.”
Bass 2; Striper 3; Sturgeon 3; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2
The sturgeon bite remains hot in Suisun Bay with private boaters and six-packs scoring regular limits of diamondbacks in a variety of locations. Roe/Ryer Island, the Big Cut, Chain Island and Montezuma Slough are the top locations. The water temperatures have dropped to 55 degrees on the surface, and the warmest water is in the shallows in the afternoons or in deep water. Captain John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing continues to put on a clinic out of Martinez with the 55th sturgeon on the boat within the past 12 trips, with Second Captain Shawn Taylor putting in five limits on Saturday evening. Once again, fresh skein roe has been the ticket. Badger has been searching around for a group of fish on the bottom before setting anchor above them. Captain Steve Mitchell was out Tuesday with Captain Jeff Carmella of the Samantha Irene out of Bodega Bay, and Carmella struck first early in the morning with a slot-limit sturgeon. Mitchell said, “The trip started off with a bang, and within minutes of soaking the rods and not even having them all out, we were hooked up. After landing the early sturgeon, I thought the bite would be off the chain, but the north wind showed up and shut down the bite.” On Saturday, Mitchell said, “The bite was slow for us, but there was action at the beginning of the outgo for a couple of six-packs, and when I got to them at the mouth of the Little Cut, the bite was over. The better tides are at night right now, and Captain Shawn has been sticking out on 12-hour trips to pick up the fish.” Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing put his clients, Justin and Misty Day of Tulare, onto a legal sturgeon at 43 inches along with a legal striper on grass shrimp. He said, “It was so foggy this morning that I set anchor right out of the harbor near New York Slough in 27 feet of water, and Justin nailed the legal sturgeon right off of the bat on the incoming tide. The bite died after the tide change, and we went into the Big Cut for a number of undersized stripers. The baby stripers were tearing up the salmon roe which is good to attract sturgeon, but 80 percent of the fish landed was on grass shrimp.” On the private boat front, Scott and Gracie Marran of Yuba City launched out of Pittsburg to work the waters around Ryer Island for a 50-inch sturgeon on grass shrimp, and George Wight of Antioch has caught and released at least one legal sturgeon every trip with slot-limit fish at 58 and 48 inches along with a shaker at 38 inches in the Montezuma Slough area in 28-30 feet of water. Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, showed that he is willing to take what the river gives him, and after trolling for a period around Decker Island and Broad Slough for a single striper, they switched over to slow-trolling live mudsuckers for seven striped bass to 8 pounds. Benicia Bait and Tackle confirmed the excellent sturgeon bite in Montezuma Slough and the Mothball Fleet area around the Horseshoe with salmon roe along with grass shrimp. The bullhead supply is starting to drop with only a few dozen brought into the shop weekly after the past month of 15 dozen on a regular basis. Boaters are advised to use extreme caution in the northeast corner of Honker Bay as there is a submerged wreck hidden at high tide. San Joaquin-Delta waters have been dropping in temperature, but there is still good action for largemouth bass in addition to more and more striped bass moving in. The south Delta has been solid for crappie with medium minnows. Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “We are starting to catch striped bass on the San Joaquin with Optima’s Bad Bubba Shad or hair jigs, and the fish are in the 4- to 6-pound range. All of the big fish are found west of Pittsburg, and we are still a month or so late as these fish should have been here in August and September. The sunshine in the afternoons is keeping the water temperature around 54 degrees, and bass fishermen are still finding 20-pound sacks with Senkos, ripbaits, or plastics on the drop-shot at depths from 6-12 feet. Sturgeon fishing is as good as it can be in December as the water is still clear and relatively warm compared to a typical year.” Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported a good striper bite for fish to 12 pounds with topwater plugs or spoons at depths to 15 feet near Eddo’s Marina on the San Joaquin with anglers drifting live bluegill picking up some even larger linesides. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was out during the blowout Monday and Tuesday in the Delta, and he said, “I contacted my clients and tried to talk them out of going since I knew the conditions would be brutal, but they both insisted on going. My takeaway from this is, ‘When the guide says don’t go, you should take this into consideration,’ because the action was not good at all. We ended up with around 15 largemouth bass and a single striper, but the bite on Tuesday was terrible as the water turned brown from the wind. There was only 3 inches of visibility at Sherman Island, and there were clouds of mud everywhere. It is four to six weeks late for the stripers to arrive, and we need rain to bring them in to the river system. There is shad all over the place, but it is on clumped up in bunches. The water dropped to the 51- to 52-degree range, and once the water temperatures drop below 55 degrees, the shad will school up into tighter groups. When the shad schools up, if you find one bass, you will find two or three more. If the wind stays down and the weather balances out, we will move into our typical wintertime bite with ripbaits, plastics on the drop-shot or dart head. A Bottom Hopper or Flat Dog on a Zappu head is also effective in the colder water. The Florida-strain largemouth bass are used to clearer water in the Delta, and the action comes to a halt when the water gets cold and muddy.” Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing out of Korths Pirate’s Lair said, “The super moon and the colder water temperatures have added yet another curve ball to a season that has been the same song and dance throughout. Our fall/winter striper season has and continues to be ‘consistently inconsistent.’ We had three trips in a row where we put in over 100-plus keepers in and around the San Joaquin close to home, and then on the fourth trip – two keepers. How does this happen? It has been a very successful season overall since we started two and a half months ago, and we have been starting to make some left turns out of the marina towards the northeast Delta. The water temperatures have gone down five to six degrees, and this is going to be yet just another factor and hurdle to deal with over the next couple of weeks.” Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton reported striped bass to 33 inches have been taken in the south Delta sloughs, and they have been selling loads of medium minnows for crappie in Whiskey Slough, Bluegill have slowed down, but red ear perch are holding deep with red worms. Fresh shad is still available, but it may be only a week or so before the shadders stop working due to the colder water temperatures forcing the shad deep. Christian Lauritzen of Lauritzen’s Yacht Harbor in Oakley said, “Despite the north winds earlier in the week, striped bass continued to bite. With that said we are supposed to have about 10-15 days of dry weather ahead of us, and I would strongly encourage you to spend the time out on the water if you can because there are still fish willing to be caught.”
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 3; White bass 2; Striper 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 3
At Lake Nacimiento, small spotted bass are plentiful as evidenced by all 35 boats weighing in limits during a recent tournament but finding fish over 2 pounds is a challenge. The best action remains on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head with the top grade found on small shad-patterned spoons. White bass are still tough to find, but when the whites are located near the surface, small white Kastmasters or Roostertails are working. The lake dropped slightly to 42 percent capacity. A webcam of the lake is available at lakenacimientolive.com/. At Lopez, crappie are the best thing going with minijigs around structure. Bluegill are still a good option with red worms or meal worms on a drop-shot rig. There is a small window for small topwater lures in the early mornings, but the best action is on the bottom with Senkos or plastics. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam/. At San Antonio, the lake has dropped to 31 percent, and a few striped bass to 10 pounds are landed on swimbaits or umbrella rigs at depths to 30 feet. A few linesides have been taken on shad-patterned topwater lures. The lake is on its winter schedule and open on weekends only from Friday morning at 6 a.m. until Sunday at 6 p.m. while the North Shore is closed for the season. At Santa Margarita, bass fishing is best on the bottom with jigs or plastics on a Texas-rig or drop-shot. Crappie are found on minijigs or tubes while bluegill are gobbling up red worms or meal worms. Reminder that consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines because of the risk of excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are now required before boat launching is allowed.
- New Jen Bass Tournaments on Dec. 9 at McClure: 1, Jason Remmers/Alex Niapas 15.96 pounds (big fish 6.87); 2, John Albidrez/Mark Corrente 15.93 (big fish 5.75); 3, Rod Cree/Matt Silveira 13.09
- Sierra Bass Club Draw Tournament on Dec. 9 at Pine Flat: 1, Ed Armbrister 10.10 pounds (big fish 3.01); 2, Gary Johnson 9.31; 3, Ryan Reynolds 8.84
- Fresno Bass Club Tournament of Champions on Dec. 10 at McClure: 1, Jose Guzman 11.44 pounds; 2, Mike Brossard 11.00 (big fish 3.60); 3, Roger Lockhart 10.84
- Sierra Bass Tournament of Champions on Dec. 10 at Pine Flat: 1, Ryan Reynolds 10.24 pounds (big fish 3.46); 2, Chris Framming 9.64 (big fish 4.10); 3, Don Hodges 9.42
- New Jen Bass Tournaments on Dec. 10 at Kaweah: 1, Jesse Rodriguez/Derek Frigge 11.48 pounds (big fish 3.27); 2, Sergio Mendoza/Miguel Rodriguez 11.27; 3, Wayne Arnold/Trent Hayonshi 10.77
- Dec. 16: Millerton, New Jen Bass Tournaments
- Dec. 17: Delta/Russo’s Marina, Hook, Line and Sinker; Eastman, Central Valley Kayak Fishing
- Dec. 19: New Melones, Sonora Bass Anglers
- Jan. 1: Eastman/Cordoniz Ramp, River Rats Open Team Tournament
- Fresno County: Avocado Lake; Woodward Park Lake; Kings River, below Pine Flat Dam