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Fishing Report for Dec. 19: Largemouths at Eastman, rainbows back at Bass Lake

By Roger George And Dave Hurley
Special to The Bee

December 19, 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 with “fish photo” in the subject line.

Best bets

Eastman Lake kicking out quality largemouths, Morgan Swisher said. San Luis stripers hitting, Mickey Clements reported. New Melones trout and bass action good, John Liechty said. Bass Lake rainbows return, Dave Hurley reported. San Francisco sturgeon and striper bites going, Trent Slate said.


1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat


Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs

Striper 2; Catfish 2

There hasn’t been much change in the aqueducts as the majority of striper fishermen continue to drive a bit farther north to San Luis Reservoir or O’Neill Forebay. The colder water is contributing to the bait balling up, and the key is to find moving water near the headgates. Valley Rod and Gun has been selling an increased number of Duo Realis jerkbaits, and this may be an indicator of improved aqueduct action. In the southern aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Things aren’t much different than they were last week with striped bass on tube baits, jumbo minnows, blood worms, or sardines with catfish on jumbo minnows, chicken livers, or anchovies.” The popularity of the California Aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers. In order to maintain access, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing. A few anglers from the Bakersfield area have been hauling out several 33-gallon trash bags after picking up for others.

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

Eastman Lake

Bass 3; Trout 2; Bluegill 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2

Eastman is holding up for a larger grade of largemouth bass to 4 pounds with jigs either by the dam or in a few locations in the river arm. A Central Valley Kayak Fishing event was held Sunday with more than 40 boats signed up, and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis expected the four-fish winning limit to be in excess of 15-16 pounds although kayak fishing tournaments are measured in inches. He said, “You just about have to deadstick everything to get bit, and jigs have been the big thing at Eastman.” The kayak tournament was a big success, according to spokesman Morgan Swisher who said, “We increased the number of contestants to 40 and still sold out! People are coming from all over to fish the kayak tournaments, and our next tournament will be in February. Her Xiong took the event with a four-fish limit of 82.75 inches, including a big fish at 21 inches.” Eastman will host a Jan. 1 open tournament from the River Rats. The lake held at 58 percent capacity.

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

Hensley Lake

Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2

Overall interest in bass fishing at this lake has slowed considerably; planted rainbow trout remain the top species from shore with inflated nightcrawlers, Kastmasters or Roostertail spinners in the shallows in the mornings. Catfish are still a possibility with anchovies, nightcrawlers or chicken livers in the evenings. The lake held at 19 percent capacity.

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 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Crappie 2

The trout bite slowed a bit over the weekend, with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reporting a tough bite Saturday and Sunday, after waiting a few hours for the fog to clear Saturday morning. He is running his custom spoons at 3-5 colors of leadcore line, and the lake temperature has dropped to 57 degrees. The bass continue to hold in deeper water from 25-40 feet, and plastics on the drop-shot, swimbaits on a slow-roll, or jigs remain the top baits. 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 rose slightly to 81 percent capacity.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Gary Vella 209-652-7550

Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area

Bass 2; Trout 2; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2

Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “The local lakes are getting most of the action in our area with anglers calling every day to see when the lake is being planted. Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, rainbow garlic, or garlic/garlic continue to be the most popular trout baits for the local lakes, and Buena Vista is scheduled to be planted this Wednesday with as many as 2,000 pounds of rainbows.” The upper and lower Kern River has slowed because of 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 to Lake Isabella, but the best action is for catfish with frozen clams, sardines or anchovies. Bass fishing remains slow, with few fishermen either trying or reporting.The lake held at 29 percent capacity.

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

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2

The lake dropped significantly again to 6 percent, and Larry Kerns of the Visalia Bass Club said, “The bass bite is really affected by the dropping water, and it really scatters out the fish.” Small bass are the rule as they are suspending in deeper water. Planted trout are generating interest with Power Bait, Mice Tails, or Kastmasters from the second launch ramp.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2; Bluegill 2

Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Co. in Springville said, “Bass fishing is fair, but steady with deep-diving crankbaits working best. There has been a lot of interest in planted trout with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Panther Martins.” The lake held at 12 percent capacity. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “Flyfishing has been slow, but nymphing is still picking up a few native browns and rainbows.”

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

Bass 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Kokanee 1; Crappie 2; Catfish 2

Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits said, “There are a number of tournaments coming to the lake starting in January, but the bite is still tough for both numbers and grade. I have seen pictures and videos of bass in the 4- to 6-pound range, but these fish are few and far between. You have to battle the cold right now along with the dropping water levels. The best action has been with Purple Hornet jigs or shad-patterned plastics on the drop-shot as the fish are holding around the shad schools in the 25 to 35-foot depth range.” A few large bass are found by slow-rolling trout-patterned swimbaits, but you might have to throw the lure all day for one bite. The lake is releasing water, but it remains at 65 percent capacity.

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 2

Anglers are advised to contact McSwain Marina regarding the current status of the private trout plants from the Calaveras Trout Farm. No plants from the Department of Fish and Wildlife are scheduled in the near future. Trout fishing is fair at best with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers from the handicapped docks, brush pile, and the peninsula near the marina. The new Lake McSwain park-model cabins will be available for rent in the coming weeks. Each of the six furnished lodgings has a lake-front view, a kitchen, full bathroom, heating and air conditioning, and sleeps 6-8 people. Finishing touches are being completed. Additional information about reservations and pricing will be provided soon.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass 2; Striped bass 1; Bluegill 2; Crappie 1

Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The New Jen Bass Tournaments held at event at Millerton on Saturday, and there were 26 teams that braved the winds with the team of Xang Vang and Yeng Her taking first place with a limit at 12.30 pounds with a big fish at 4.69 pounds. The weights dropped off from there, with second place just under 10 pounds and third place just over 9 pounds. Overall, it is hard to catch a 2-pound fish. Everything is on the bottom at depths from 30-45 feet, and plastics on the drop-shot or dart head along with crawdad-patterned jigs are the top techniques. The better cut of bass during this tournament may have been landed on spoons, but there aren’t a lot of reaction fish in any of our lakes. An occasional bass may be taken on a spy bait, but very few are found on spinnerbaits or topwater lures. The water temperature is still relatively warm at 60 degrees.” The lake held at 67 percent capacity.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 3; Crappie 2; Catfish 2; Trout 3; Kokanee 1

Big rainbow trout are the story at New Melones, and the window for trophy largemouth and spotted bass will open soon after the first of the year. John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “I am now offering bass and trout combination trips as we are finding quality rainbow trout in the 3- to 5-pound range while bass fishing. Once we locate the trout by finding them working the surface, we put down the bass gear and start throwing out Tasmanian Devils or ripbaits. Nate Monroe of Hughson caught and released a 6-pound brown with me this week, and although the bite isn’t red hot, the big fish are slamming the lures, making for great fun. We are working the banks around main lake points as the fish are moving up into shallower water, but there are still trout out into open water. A few years ago, we were landing 40-50 trout per trip, but these are much larger rainbows this year.” For bass, Liechty said, “The bass are oriented towards deep water with the most consistent bite from 35-50 feet with plastics on the dart head, drop-shot, or shakey head. The bite has been good with around 20-30 fish per day, and if you targeting bass all day long, it is possible to catch and release over 40 bass. There are some in shallower water at 15-25 feet, but the larger populations of bass have moved into deeper water. I am looking forward to January and February, and I have a number of clients lined up to throw big baits for trophy spotted and largemouth bass.” Catfish have moved to deeper water for the winter, and the crappie bite remains slow. The lake held at 83 percent capacity.

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

Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River

Bass 2; Trout 2; King salmon 1; Catfish 2; Crappie 2

Pine Flat remains a good location for spotted bass or for trolling for planted rainbow trout. The lake has been holding steady at 48 percent capacity for the past few weeks. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There haven’t been many guys trolling for trout right now, but there are fish to be had with Needlefish, Apex lures, or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler at 4-6 colors of leadcore from the power lines to Lombardo’s in the main lake or from Trimmer Marina to Rattlesnake in the river arm.” Bank fishermen are soaking trout dough bait or nightcrawlers at Island Park or Deer Creek for planters. In the lower Kings River below the dam, Roostertail spinners or Kastmaster spoons are the top lures while trout dough bait remains popular. For bass, Gilbert said, “Some boats are doing well while others are struggling with the best action near Lefevre or Zebe Creeks in the main lake and also above Trimmer in the river arm with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head along with jigs. The fish are holding in deeper water from 30-45 feet, but there is the occasional crankbait or spinnerbait bass taken. A good fish right now is running from 1.5-2 pounds, and the bass are loading up on shad.” The lake 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

San Luis Reservoir remains the top location for striped bass anglers from the central Valley and San Jose areas, and the main lake is attracting more interest than nearby O’Neill Forebay or the aqueducts because of the larger grade of striped bass possible. Travis Porter of Hollister said, “The boats were blown off of the water on Saturday, but there were a number of boats limiting out on Sunday trolling or drifting jumbo minnows. The most action we witnessed was in Portuguese Cove and along the Highway 152 side with shad-patterned jerkbaits or 6-inch swimbaits at depths from 20-40 feet deep. We caught and released over a dozen fish to 26 inches. It’s too bad that more people don’t catch and release for future generations.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that he took out Louis Furtado and Gwen Robinson on Sunday. “We ended up with PB’s for both anglers with 11 fish going from 21-30 inches (10 pounds) . Most of the fish were in the 23- to 25-inch range and very fat. It’s funny, the small fish were hard to get past a week ago and today every fish we caught was a very nice striper,” George said. “The water temps are running around 60 degrees in the morning, way warmer than the usual lower 50s we see now and it’s so clear you can see down a good 12 feet. The reaction bite has gotten much tougher than the minnow and bait bite right now. I’m still seeing guys hauling full stringers of fish to the cleaning areas, but on the good side some anglers are also doing a good job releasing fish. I’m hearing about more poaching now, too.” Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “There is a decent bite at the big lake, and anglers should not have trouble getting a limit. Drifting jumbo minnows near the mouth of Portuguese Cove or by the Trash Racks is a good option, and trolling has also been solid. The area to the left of Dinosaur Point has slowed down as the schools have moved towards Portuguese Cove. Goosehead Point is another good location. In the forebay, there is a smaller class of striper including a number of 6- to 10-inch fish, and most everyone is going to the main lake for a larger grade of striped bass. The forebay is a good place to take a child fishing with anchovies or chicken livers as you will get a lot of action.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “I haven’t heard very much about the big lake this week, but we are selling lots of Duo Realis jerkbaits. Most anglers are going to the main lake instead of the forebay or the aqueducts.” The lake has risen to 79 percent capacity with increased pumping out of the south Delta despite starting to release water.

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

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2; Trout 3; Kokanee 1

The lake has dropped to the bottom of the ramp, and bass fishermen aren’t risking their boats in the low conditions. The courtesy dock is out of the water, and it is difficult to launch a mid-sized craft. Trout fishing is excellent for the few trollers working the lake with Needlefish, Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler, or blade/’crawler combinations within the top 20 feet; shore anglers are picking up near-limits with trout dough bait near the Sheriff’s Tower or between Miller’s and the Forks. Bass fishing is limited to a few anglers working the permanent docks or the banks. The lake held at 47 percent capacity. Webcams are available at

Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

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 percent and Mammoth Pool is 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 said, “I checked about five boats who had an average of 1-4 fish with mostly trout, but Terry Walton caught and released two limits of kokanee and also caught two trophy trout running Sierra Gold lures with the kokanee coming at a depth of 30 feet on a 20-foot set back with the trout landed while toplining.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “Few fishermen are heading to the lake, but at least one father and son pair has been finding quality second-year kokanee at depths to 20 feet with Dick’s Trout Busters or Captain Jack’s Super Hoochies.” A webcam, updated every 20 minutes, is available at Shaver has dropped to 49 percent capacity, with Huntington at 68 percent.

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, 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 limited to the lower-elevation lakes 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

Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat continues to take crab/rockfish/ling cod combinations until the rockfish closure Dec. 31, and they posted limits of rockfish and a ling cod per rod to go with some Dungeness and rock crab on a recent trip. They were working around San Gregorio with PopCorn Krill Flies. Mattusch is the only large party boat running the combination trips out of this port, and he will run crab-only or sand dab/crab combination trips after Jan. 1.

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

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Rockfish 3; Striper 2; Crab 2

Chris’ Landing in Monterey reported good ling cod action south of the harbor off Carmel Bay on Sunday with limits of 16 anglers along with 53 Dungeness crab and quarter limits of rockfish on a combination trip on the Check Mate. The Caroline took a rockfish-only trip for 25 ling cod and 50 rockfish for 15 fishermen. He said, “Live mackerel has been the best bet for the lings, and the rockfish counts are most likely off since everyone is trying for the lings.” They have room during the week for rockfish trips. Chris’ will run sand dab/crab combination trips after Jan. 1. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing said, “We have been getting some queries about the Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest, and it will be held on March 10, 2018, with entries starting in January. The contest is limited to the first 300 entries, and the annual event is a fundraiser for 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

Striper 3; Rockfish 3; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 3; Crab 3

The bottom fish season ends Dec. 31, but boats from Berkeley and Emeryville are running a few more crab/rockfish combination trips before the season closes until April 2018. The party boats were tied on up Saturday, but the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley was able to make it to the Farallons on Sunday for limits of rockfish, seven crab per angler and a half-dozen lings. Inside the bays, the sturgeon bite has clearly improved in San Pablo Bay, and the reappearance of mud shrimp at Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle may have been the tipping point. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait said, “The McNear’s Pier has been on fire but don’t bring a hose or a fire extinguisher, bring fishing tackle and mud shrimp instead. There were at least 10 legal sturgeon landed off of the pier on Saturday and Sunday, even during Saturday’s windstorm. The incoming tide was mediocre at best, and there were still five sturgeon hooked off of the pier on Sunday morning. Mud shrimp has been the top bait by far. We were out for two hours of fishing on Sunday, and there was a big swell from the east in the bay despite no wind, and it made for difficult conditions. We went into more protected waters near China Camp since we knew the fish were close to the pier, and we hooked two sturgeon and 2 legal striped bass to 20 inches soaking live mud shrimp. Fishermen have been coming from all over for the mud shrimp, and Tim Marsh of Ukiah came down to fish the bay on Sunday with mud shrimp, and his grandson released his first sturgeon – an oversized along with a slot-limit fish.” Loch Lomond still has mud shrimp along with all of the other baits including ghost and grass shrimp, live mudsuckers, and pile worms. They are still one of the only Bay Area locations with live crab for sale. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond found good action for striped bass on Friday with limits of linesides in the 8- to 10-pound range along with a shaker sturgeon released on the incoming tide. He said, “We hooked one, but it got off after jumping, and we hooked another one that came unbuttoned as well. I went through 80 mud shrimp on Friday and Sunday morning, and we caught and released small cow sharks on sardines along with the stripers.”

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

Rockfish 3

The rockfish season ends Dec. 31, but limits were the rule on all boats out of the San Luis Obispo County ports on Monday. Out of Morro Bay Landing, the Avenger and Endeavor took out a combined 40 fishermen for 40 limits of rockfish and 26 lings to 13 pounds. Sunday’s trip was just as rewarding with 80 anglers on the same two boats returning with a combined 140 vermilions, 220 coppers, 10 Boccaccio, one cabezon, 280 assorted rockfish and 62 ling cod to 19 pounds. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Fiesta was chartered with 27 fishermen on Monday for 266 assorted rockfish, three cabezon, a rocksole and six lings on Monday. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, the Patriot took out 12 fishermen on Monday for eight vermilions, five coppers, 54 Bolina, one cabezon and 52 assorted for limits of rockfish along with four ling cod to 11 pounds. 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.

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



Bass 2; Striper 2; Sturgeon 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2

The plummeting water temperatures have severely affected all fish species in the California Delta, and the red-hot sturgeon bite that was happening last week has slowed to a simmer. Saturday’s wind storm added to the challenging conditions by further muddying the waters from the strong and gusty north winds. There are still diamondbacks to be had, but the number of opportunities are limited. This normally occurs when the water temperatures initially hit the 50-degree range, and it will take some time for the diamondbacks to adjust. Striped bass are also on the slowdown with live bait being the best bet with the cold water. Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was out Wednesday and Thursday. “We put in a slot fish on Wednesday to go with another slot fish lost and an oversized that came unbuttoned after a long fight,” Mitchell said. “The fish are still chomping, but it is a lot slower than it was last week. The tides are big enough on both the income and the outgo, but the water temperature has dropped to the 50- to 51-degree range. The roe bite is still happening, but we are getting some more action on eel. Thursday’s trip produced a couple of shakers, and we released numerous shakers on Wednesday as we had a lot of action. We have been fishing in the Horseshoe and at Garnet Point.” John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing out of Martinez has been on fire for the past few weeks, and he said, “We picked up a couple of keepers on Tuesday, and the best action has been at the top of the incoming tide. We are still using roe, but the eel bite is starting to take off. Once the rains start and we get a good push out of the Sacramento River, this will change everything.” Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, said, “Striped bass fishing continues to be slow, and I believe the rapid water temperature drop is the reason. We didn’t find any action by trolling so we drifted live mudsuckers once again for a few stripers to 5 pounds.” Benicia Bait and Tackle reported the best area for sturgeon has been the shallows the Mothball Fleet and the Big Cut, and there has been some sturgeon taken in Montezuma Slough. Live bullheads continue to be scarce with only a few dozen brought to shop daily after weeks of 15 dozen. Grass shrimp continues in good availability. San Joaquin-Delta water temperatures continue to plummet, drawing the striped bass into the south Delta sloughs. The crappie bite continues to be solid in Whiskey Slough with medium and large minnows. With the cold water temperatures, live bait is the best option as the metabolism of the striped bass has slowed, forcing trollers to change tactics and bait fishermen to be at the ready to set hook on the slightest pull down. Wands said, “I was back on out Friday with Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service, and we didn’t even take out the trolling gear as the cold water has put a damper on the action. The fish aren’t aggressive at all as the water temperature has dropped to 50 degrees. We stayed mostly on the San Joaquin before moving into Broad Slough for a few small stripers on live mudsuckers. We tried several different locations without much success.” Netzel was back out Sunday with clients for 6 limits of striped bass on live mudsuckers. He said, “We found decent action for 13 keepers and a bunch of shorts despite the 49-degree water temperatures.” Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing out of Korths Pirate’s Lair found slow action for legal fish on Sunday morning, but once the weather warmed up, he was able to put his clients onto limits of legal fish drifting live mudsuckers. Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento threw Fish Traps and spoons from the mouth of Three Mile Slough to Sherman Lake, and he said, “I didn’t even get a bite with the cold water temperatures around 57 degrees. I was graphing them, but they wouldn’t bite so I switched over to largemouth bass with spinnerbaits, and we released nine quality largemouths.” Randy Pringle, the fishing instructor, canceled his trip for Thursday given the lack of opportunity to keep two or three anglers onto fish in the central Delta because of the cold and dirty water. He said, “I could go into some interior spots on the San Joaquin and throw topwater lures in the mornings for a chance at one blow up and maybe land a striper in the 10- to 17-pound range, but I can’t take clients out for such limited action. The stripers do not seem to have arrived in force yet, and it appears that the run is at least a month to six weeks late. Last week’s heavy winds muddied up the San Joaquin, and the water still needs to clear. There are areas in the central Delta where ripbaits such as the ima Flit in shad-patterns will work for largemouth bass, but you have to fish very slow as the bass do not want to chase.” Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley said, “We were catching them until the winds arrived on Saturday, and the water of the south Delta has turned muddy. I have been working with Optima’s Bad Bubba Shad on three-quarter-ounce jigs on a slow presentation, and you have to find moving water. I have been circling Frank’s Tract outside of the moving water on the south side on the outgoing tide and inside the north side on the incoming tide. Fishing slow is the key, and although it isn’t red hot, we have been picking up stripers in the 4- to 6-pound range. Live bluegill has also been producing stripers. The largemouth bass bite has been best with shad-patterned ripbaits or weighted 5-inch Senkos. Limits are possible, but the size of the sacks are on the small side in the colder water.” The crappie bite in Whiskey Slough remains hot with Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton saying, “I went down to take a look on Sunday, and there were fishermen every 10 feet near the boat dock, and this was even with access on Highway 4 limited with the bridge work at the San Joaquin River Bridge limiting anglers from the East Bay to the area. The demand for medium and large minnows has been very heavy as a result. “

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 2; White bass 2; Striper 2; Catfish 2; Crappie 2

Nacimiento has been the top coastal lake for numbers of spotted bass with the best action during the warmer afternoons with plastics on the dart-head or drop shot along with jigs. White bass have been scarce. The lake dropped held at 42 percent. A webcam of the lake is available at At Lopez, the colder waters have contributed to a much slower bass and panfish bite with the occasional largemouth bass taken on plastics on the drop-shot, split-shot, or Texas-rig along with jigs, and spoons on a very slow presentation. A few red ear perch and bluegill are taken on red worms on a drop-shot rig. A webcam of the lake is available at At San Antonio, the lake held at 31 percent capacity, and fishing is slow overall. Catfish have been the top species with dip baits, stink baits, or cut baits. Striped bass action remains on the slow side with a few linesides on swimbaits or umbrella rigs. The lake is on its winter schedule and open on weekends only from Friday at 6 a.m. until Sunday at 6 p.m. while the North Shore is closed for the season. At Santa Margarita, bass fishing remains slow with the only action on a very slow presentation on jigs or plastics. Crappie also are scarce, but a few quality slabs are taken on minijigs near structure. Reminder that consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury. Quagga mussel inspections are now required before boat launching is allowed.

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



New Jen Bass Tournaments on Dec. 16 at Millerton: 1, Xang Vang/Yeng Her 12.30 pounds (big fish 4.69); 2, Pete Rodriguez/R.J. Brinkman 9.98; 3, Timmy and Tyler Wells 9.13

Central Valley Kayak Fishing (four-fish limits) on Dec. 17 at Eastman: 1, Her Xiong 82.75 inches (big fish 21 inches); 2, Hou Chang Her 71.03; 3 –Kongo Thao 67.75. Reminder that kayak tournaments don’t weigh fish, but measure on a predefined measuring board and supplement with digital pictures that are then judged based on a set of rules.


Jan. 18-21: International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo in Sacramento,

Feb. 8: Shaver Lake trout and kokanee techniques, Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters and Todd Wittwer of Guider Service, 6 p.m. at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods

March 10: Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby in Santa Cruz, entries begin in January, limited to first 300 entrants


Jan. 1: Eastman/Cordoniz Ramp, River Rats Open Team Tournament; Milllerton, Bass 101 Open Tournament; Nacimiento, Bakersfield Bass Club

Jan. 6: Delta/Russo’s Marina, American Bass Association; New Melones, Sonora Bass Anglers; McClure, Kerman Bass Club/NewJen Bass Tournaments; Pine Flat, California Tournament Trail; Nacimiento, American Bass Association

Jan. 7: Pine Flat, Fresno Bass Club; Kaweah, NewJen Bass Tournaments

Jan. 13: McClure, Best Bass Tournaments/Manteca Bassin’ Buddies; Don Pedro, Christian Bass League; Nacimiento, Kern County Bassmasters

Jan. 14: Millerton, California Bass Federation; Pine Flat, Kings VIII Bass Club; Nacimiento, San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers

Jan. 20: Delta/Russo’s Marina, Delta Bass Club; McClure, Best Bass Tournaments/Sierra Bass Club; Pine Flat, NewJen Bass Tournaments; Nacimiento, Best Bass Tournaments

Jan. 21: Delta/Russo’s Marina, Hook, Line, and Sinker; Pine Flat, Kings River Bass Club

Jan. 27: Pine Flat, Bass 101; Nacimiento. Bakersfield Bass Club

Trout plants

    • Fresno County: Avocado Lake; Woodward Park Lake; Kings River, below Pine Flat Dam; Pine Flat Reservoir
    • Kern County: Hart Park Lake; Ming Lake; River Walk Lake; Truxtun Lake
    • Madera County: Bass Lake; Eastman Lake; Hensley Lake; Sycamore Island Pond
    • Mariposa County: Eastman Lake
    • Stanislaus County: Modesto Reservoir; Woodward Reservoir
  • Tulare County: Kaweah Reservoir; Success Reservoir

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