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Fishing Report for Dec. 26: Rockfish season closing ‘with a bang’

By Roger George And Dave Hurley
Special to The Bee

December 26, 2017

California Department of Fish and Wildlife trout hatcheries plan to provide plenty of opportunities for anglers of all ages over the next two weeks through plants of catchable trout scheduled at 79 waters in 25 counties through Jan. 5. The fish planting schedule, searchable by date, water name and county, is available at
California Department of Fish and Wildlife trout hatcheries plan to provide plenty of opportunities for anglers of all ages over the next two weeks through plants of catchable trout scheduled at 79 waters in 25 counties through Jan. 5. The fish planting schedule, searchable by date, water name and county, is available at CALFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE


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 producing bigger bass limits and Bass Lake trout come alive, Dave Hurley said. New Melones bass and trout action good, Gary Burns reported. San Luis stripers active, Merritt Gilbert 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

The majority of striper fishermen continue to drive a bit farther north to San Luis Reservoir or O’Neill Forebay, but a few are starting to lay out jerkbaits on a planer board into the moving water near the headgate. The bait is starting to form into tighter groups as water tempertaures drop. In the southern aqueduct in Kern County, striped bass action is decent with tube baits, jumbo minnows, blood worms or sardines with catfish on jumbo minnows, chicken livers or anchovies. The popularity of the aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, and fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and other debris to maintain access.

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

Eastman Lake

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

There is a good bass bite with trout-patterned swimbaits such as Huddlestons or River2Sea Swavers on a slow-roll on the bottom at depths from 20-30 feet. There have been 5- and 6-pound largemouth bass landed by the swimbait anglers with regularity. A New Year’s Day open tournament will be held by the River Rats. The trout bite is fair with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers from the banks. The lake held at 58 percent capacity. Kayak fishing has been growing by leaps and bounds, and the new Central Valley Kayak Fishing group held an event with over 40 ’yaks at Eastman Lake on Dec. 17. Her Xiong won with a four-fish limit at 82.75 inches, with a big fish at 21 inches. Hou Chang Her was second at 71.03 inches and Kongo Thao third at 67.75. Morgan Swisher of Fresno and the Central Valley Kayak Fishing said, “Due to the complexities of judging the winning fish, kayak fishermen use a measuring rule called a Hawg Trough. They catch their fish, take a picture of it, and submit the pictures with a unique identifier at the end of the day either by showing the pictures to the judge or by an online app called TourneyX on their phones. Trying to capture a photograph of a flopping fish, while holding a 30-inch plastic board with the fish strategically held and including the identifier on your lap, adds another level of difficulty to the contest. Many anglers report fish flopping off. The kayak fishing scene has been quietly growing at an amazing pace in the past four years. By February 2016, sales of kayaks were up 21 percent ($42 million) with the vast majority fishing kayaks. The small craft provide an economical and eco-friendly means to pursue the outdoors and provide competition, and they provide fun and exercise. Yak-A-Bass officially was founded in 2014, starting with 10-15 original members and growing rapidly from there. Their first year, they had two tournaments and by the following year it was four and this year seven. They had limited their anglers to 50, and it quickly filled up, often within days of posting. The coming year will seen an increase the number of anglers allowed, with events scheduled at the Delta at Paradise Point, Big Break, and Sugar Barge, and Lake Camanche, Berryessa and New Melones. Many of the Central Valley anglers were traveling to Northern California to fish in the Yak-a-Bass or Nor Cal Kayak club events, fishing such waters as the Delta, Clear Lake and Camanche. There were no organized events in the central Valley, but some local groups just got together and fished, such as the Blackwater Kayak Anglers and Bass MOBB Anglers. As these groups grew, they began hosting several different events for kids and adults, boaters and non-boaters, kayakers and float tubers. Overall their main goal was to bring the fishing community together and to give them something to look forward in addition to partnering with the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust for fishing derbys. In September 2017, Brigham Vang Susana started a local circuit: Central Valley Kayak Fishing, also known as CVKF, to fish the local lakes of Eastman, Kaweah, and Pine Flat. He started out limiting the anglers to 30, and by overwhelming desire just raised it for the Dec. 17 Eastman event to 40, and the event filled up with more wanting in. He will have a new season starting in February. This is the only kayak fishing circuit in the central Valley. Motherlode Kayak Angler will be starting in 2018 fishing New Melones and Don Pedro with their TOC at the famous Kelsey Bass Ranch. Kayak fishing is not limited to male contestants with women joining for the same reasons.” 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 1

Hensley remains very slow for largemouth bass with a solid fisherman reporting only a single bite resulting in a single fish on a recent trip. Planted rainbow trout remain the top species from shore with inflated nightcrawlers, Kastmasters or Roostertail spinners in the shallows in the mornings. The lake rose slightly to 20 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

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 trout are oriented to the shad schools, and they are found from the surface to 20 feet in depth with shad-patterned spoons or plugs. The lake held at 81 percent capacity. The trout bite slowed down a bit over the weekend with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing reporting a tough bite both days 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. 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.

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

Trout plants in the local lakes continue, and the majority of area fishermen are concentrating on the small impoundments for planted rainbows with Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, rainbow garlic or garlic/garlic. Buena Vista received a plant of 4,000 pounds of rainbows, so there is more interest in this pay-to-play reservoir. The upper and lower Kern River continue to be slower, but within the first few days of a plant, the action is good with with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or live crickets. Few anglers are heading up to 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 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2

The lake rose slightly to 7 percent capacity, and the bass continue to be affected by fluctuating water levels. They are scattered out at various depths, holding near structure. 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

Colder water has contributed to slower bass action; the best bite has been with deep-diving crankbaits over structure. Planted trout are taken from shore with Power Bait, nightcrawlers or Panther Martins. The lake rose slightly to 13 percent capacity.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

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

A number of tournaments are coming to the lake starting in January, but the bite is still tough for numbers and grade. Cold water and dropping water levels have contributed to a slow bite, with the best action continuing with Purple Hornet jigs or shad-patterned plastics on the drop-shot around the shad schools in the 25- to 35-foot depth range. Slow-rolling rainbow-trout patterned swimbaits such as Huddlestons or River2Sea Swavers on the bottom are working for the occasional larger grade of bass. 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. There will be no plants from state 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. The new Lake McSwain park-model cabins will be available for rent in the coming weeks. Each of the six has a lake-front view, furnishings, a kitchen, full bathroom and heating and air conditioning, and sleeps 6-8. Finishing touches are being completed. Reservations and pricing details will be provided soon.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

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

Numbers of spotted bass can be found with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head along with jigs on a deadstick presentation. The fish are holding deep from 30-45 feet with the fluctuating water levels, and the reaction bite is extremely slow as water temperatures fall. There were no striped bass reports. The lake is releasing water, but 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

At New Melones, quality rainbow trout along with the occasional trophy brown continue to be landed by a variety of techniques as the trout move closer to the surface and shore. Bank fishing is clearly on the upswing, with colder water accounting for the lake’s turnover. Gary Burns of Take It To the Limit Guide Service said, “With the surface temperatures hitting the 50s, the big ’bow bite has picked up. The trout are scattered all over the lake so if you see the fish hitting the surface, you can be sure they are chowing down and it is time to fish this area. You have to find the fish so we have been trolling around 3 mph in order to cover water. The rainbows can be found from the surface to 20 feet in depth with all different kinds of spoons or blade/’crawler combinations, but if you go to the blades, you will have to slow down from the 3 mph with the spoons.” Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp confirmed the improving bite for big rainbows, saying, “Through the first two weeks of December, there have been a number of quality rainbow trout coming to Glory Hole Sports for weigh-ins and pictures. Aaron and Katie Castellon of Stockton loaded up with limits to 8-pound, 10-ounces trolling a Countdown Rapala at depths to 25 feet near the Highway 49 Bridge. Glenn Woodbury trolled a silver Rapala coated with Pro Cure Garlic scent in Angels Cove for rainbows to 6 pounds, 8 ounces while rainbows over 7 pounds have been landed off Glory Hole Point with trout dough bait. We have had numerous limits of trout come in this last week coming from different areas of the lake including the Angels Creek Arm, the Highway 49 Bridge, and Carson Cove.” For bass, Hildebrand said, “When it comes to the bass, you can get quantity along with quality bass using Zoom trick worms at 40 feet in depth, with one customer catching and releasing 25 bass to 6.1 pounds with most in the 3-pound range. Be patient, slow down your presentation and go fish.” Catfishing has definitely slowed, but whiskerfish to 11 pounds have been taken this week. 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; Kokanee 1; King salmon 1; Catfish 2; Crappie 2

At Pine Flat, trolling has been good from some and a struggle for others. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Those in the know with good electronics and downriggers are finding success in the main lake from Windy Gap to Deer Creek and from the dam to the Power Lines with shad-patterned lures such as Needlefish or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawlers.” Dave Dungy of Shaver Lake went out with two friends for early limits of rainbows with the majority of fish at 16 inches running ExCel spoons at 5-8 feet deep.

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 is still kicking out striped bass, and it remains the go-to spot for central Valley and Central Coast striped bass fishermen. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We are selling a lot of hard baits in the past week with Duo Realis jerkbaits along with the few Lucky Crafts that we have. There are anglers heading to the big lake in the evenings to cast the ripbaits.” The surface bite has been solid in the mornings with swimbaits near the trash racks before moving into Portuguese Cove for both topwater lures and jerkbaits. The stripers are boiling on the surface, chasing bait. The boils will come up and then disappear, but the boils will continue for more than an hour. Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said he took out Haden Haynes and his buddy Sam Springer of Hanford for one 19-incher and another eight solid fish from 22-25 1/2 – all released and setting new PB’s for each guy! “The fish patterns are changing and each day seems to be a new one. The fish are hitting the regular stuff but finding areas with active fish seems to be the real key now. Some regular trollers are not doing as well as a week ago, but the sporadic topwater action can make up for it. Minnow and bait anglers are getting a better bite. The unusually mild winter temps we are seeing is keeping the bite like it’s still November!” George said. The lake continues to hold at 79 percent capacity, with pumping out of the south Delta increasing along with water releases down the California Aqueduct.

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

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2; Trout 3; Kokanee 1

Trout fishing has improved considerably in response to heavy plants, and trollers are finding limits pulling a variety of lures including Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler, Needlefish, Kastmasters or ExCel spoons. Bank fishermen are finding a few fish per rod with trout dough bait near the Sheriff’s Tower or between Miller’s and the Forks. Bass fishing continues to be limited to a few anglers working the permanent docks or the banks. The lake rose slightly to 48 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, limiting access to the area to those on snowmobiles. Edison is at 36 percent capacity, while Florence remains at 2 percent and Mammoth Pool at 9 percent.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake

Kokanee 2; Trout 2

Snow fell in the high country, the first appreciable amount in at least a month in the region. Although few fishermen have been heading to the high-country lakes, there are still trout and kokanee to be had at Shaver, with a solid trout bite at Bass Lake, for those boats able to launch in the lowered water. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “There are still chrome kokanee coming out of Shaver Lake, and the trout bite has been solid at Bass Lake for both trollers and shore anglers but launching a large boat is impossible with the ramp nearly out of the water and also with no courtesy dock. Trollers are picking up limits while bank fishermen are scoring a few fish per rod near the Sheriff’s Tower on trout dough bait. Bass fishermen who have been up there are saying that the planted rainbows are busting the surface everywhere, and they are also hooking the trout on plastics on the drop-shot.” A webcam of the lake is available at, and it is updated every 20 minutes. Shaver has dropped to 46 percent capacity, with Huntington at 65 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 for the winter Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361


Half Moon Bay

Rockfish 3; Striper 2; Crab 2

The bottomfish season ends Dec. 31, but the 2017 rockfish season is going out with a bang with limits of rockfish along with a healthy ling cod count. Dungeness crab are still a possibility. Although the crab counts have diminished, anglers on combination trips can expect to head home with a few crab in their ice chests. Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is the only large party boat running the crab/rockfish combination trips, and he said, “We had a great trip on Tuesday with rockfish along with lings, and the rockfish action remains solid. We will be running every day but Christmas Day until the closure, and after Jan. 1, we will be operating for crab-only, sand dab/crab, and will also be working for petrale sole/crab combinations. We will be able to target the delicious petrale sole at any depth with no hook restrictions, and earlier in the season, the halibut drag boats were pulling up numbers of the tasty sole. I am looking forward to adding this species to our wintertime ventures.” Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the Queen of Hearts and Riptide will continue to run rockfish/ling cod trips until the seasonal closure. After Jan. 1, they will focus on whale- and bird-watching trips until the salmon season is expected to open in April. Farther north at the Pacifica Pier, crab action with snares is enough to keep the pier full of fishermen on the weekends. Snares continue to be working better than nets from the pier or the beach. Perch fishing is fair with blood worms or pile worms. Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat continues to take crab/rockfish/ling cod combinations until the rockfish closure at the end of the month, 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 4; Striper 2; Crab 2

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey reported outstanding ling cod action with live mackerel as they have brought in up to 20 limits of lings along with rockfish counts from one-third to one-half over the past week. Crab counts remain limited to say the least. They are running the rockfish/ling cod trips with an occasional crab combination over the final week of the season. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak and Surfcasting reported, “High winds kept anglers tied to the dock a couple days last week, but mostly nice weather with light seas made for comfortable fishing condition. Winds are forecast to be finicky over the coming weekend, and a northwest swell will build and then drop again over the weekend. This is good news for surfcasters. Structure is slowly forming along our Monterey Bay beaches, and increased surf activity gets these fish to feeding. A few good rainstorms would really come in handy right about now, for a variety of reasons. December 31st marks the end of rockfish season in our area, as well as the expiration of fishing licenses. Savvy anglers will purchase their 2018 license now to avoid that frantic rush on their first fishing trip of January, when they realize they don’t have the license yet. Fishing licenses will cost a couple dollars more next year. Stay tuned for news and details on pending ‘12-month license’ legislation currently in process. Santa Cruz and Monterey anglers continue to enjoy decent fishing for rockcod on the deeper reefs and lingcod are moving in closer as their spawning time approaches. For catching rockfish, 80-240 feet are the best depths, while lings are on the bite in a little as 40 feet of water. Capitola angler Bob Dice pulled in a limit of brown and gopher rockfish last weekend, fishing 70 feet of water off Pleasure Point. Dice also lost a nice halibut right at the boat. Despite the increase in crab pots laid out by the big commercial bats, Monterey Bay sport crabbers are counting limits of Dungeness while working the 180- to 220-foot depths. Flat mud areas close to the marine canyon edges are the best for placing crab pots.” Bushnell is co-director of the annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest, set for March 10, with entries opening in January. It is limited to the first 300. Proceeds benefit 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 2; Rockfish 4; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 2; Crab 3

Boats from Berkeley and Emeryville are running a few more crab/rockfish combination trips before the bottomfish season ends Dec. 31. Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker took a crab-only trip prior to Christmas with a bold guarantee of 10-crab limits and made good on his guarantee. They are taking more crab-only and rockfish/crab combination trips in the final week. Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing took out Dominic Asuncion of Vacaville, Bryan Healey Sr. of Napa and Bryan Healy Jr. of Vacaville on his North River. They headed right out of the Gate to the Double Point Area, and he said, “The bite was slow in the morning with only five fish, but when the tide turned, we were able to limit on rockfish and lings to 12 pounds.” Inside the bay, Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Sport Fishing out of Loch Lomond was out Thursday around Rat Rock for a legal sturgeon and three legal bass. He said, “The tides really weren’t very good this week, but they will be ideal in San Pablo Bay when the King Tides come on the first.” Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael was cooking and cracking crab Friday afternoon, as they had a tremendous amount of orders for live crab for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He said, “Sturgeon fishing has been good, with Tommy Glaser putting in a legal sturgeon and limits of striped bass near Rat Rock while another boat nearby was also doing well. We have a bit of frozen mud shrimp in the shop, but there is plenty of live ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, and pile worms to go around along with lamprey eel. Fishing is pretty good around here right now.” He added that he has commercial crabbers out there searching for the crustaceans to fill their orders, and crab are scarce right now.

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

A few trips were taken over the Christmas weekend ahead of the rockfish season’s conclusion Dec. 31. The Fiesta out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay put in 22 limits to 5 pounds Saturday, with 110 vermilion and 110 assorted rockfish along with a solitary ling cod. A larger grade of ling cod was taken by the Endeavor and Avenger out of Morro Bay Landing with three-quarter limits of rockfish Saturday consisting of 70 vermilion, 60 copper, 30 Bolina and 400 assorted for 67 fishermen along with 68 ling cod to 17 pounds. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, the Patriot and Flying Fish went out with 43 anglers on Christmas Eve for 10 vermilion, 19 copper, 291 assorted and two cabezon to go with 58 lings to 18.5 pounds with the big fish landed by David Bettancourt of Visalia. There are some limited trips scheduled ahead of Sunday’s closure.

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



Bass 3; Striper 3; Sturgeon 2; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2

The 11th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby is coming to the Martinez Marina on Jan. 27, and Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing is looking forward to continuing to bring more youths to the event. He said, “I am really pushing for the kids program, and we will have our normal catch-and-release derby with close to 200-plus entries, but we are in the process of obtaining prizes for every child participant. Registration for children is free, (and) $25 for adults, with 100 percent payback in cash prizes from first through seventh place. Information is available at, with the official registration location of Martinez Bait. As in the past, there will be a pre-derby seminar at La Tapatia Restaurant on Main Street in Martinez from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26.” Talmadge added, “We will have the Martinez Pier open for those children without boat access, and we will have over 40 rods and reels along with bait available at the pier for children without tackle. We are really trying to bring out as many children to enjoy this great sport and send them home with at least a goodie bag along with memories.” Talmadge is recruiting sponsors; those interested can contact him at 510-851-2500 or through The waters of the California Delta have become cold, and the sturgeon bite that was so hot a few weeks back has slowed considerably. There are still diamondbacks to be had, but anglers have to be on their game and not miss the few opportunities as the fish have become more lethargic. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg said, “The bite has definitely slowed down, but there is still a good bite for this time of year as it has been warmer than during a normal year. There are still fish to be found, and uncured salmon roe seems to be the ticket. Those will the uncured roe are finding far more success than on other baits, but the eel bite is definitely coming on.” The shallows in the afternoons seem to be the top locations as the water warms up in the shallower water with southern exposure such as Grizzly and Honker Bays. The tides will be some of the largest of the season Jan. 1-2 with the arrival of the “King Tides,” and fishing the deep water will be problematic with the heavy water movement. Benicia Bait reported the majority of the reports received have been from the shallows in upper Suisun Bay. Striped bass fishing remains decent on the anchor, but the huge fish that have been taken out of the Bay Point area for the past several weeks appear to be scarcer. Live grass shrimp remains in an excellent supply, but the live bullhead counts have dropped off to only a few of the sculpins found on each drag by the shrimpers. In the north Delta, a batch of huge striped bass moved through, but these do not remain in the same area on a day-to-day basis. The San Joaquin-Delta water temperatures continue to decline, and the metabolism of its species is on a corresponding decline. There are striped bass, largemouth bass and crappie to be found, and live bait appears to be best for the linesides with a finesse technique for largemouth bass as the temperature plummets. Scott Marran of Yuba City went out, with Bob Boucke of Johnson’s Bait and Tackle and George Peters of Yuba City, and said, “We launched out of Brannan Island at daylight packing three dozen medium mudsuckers for power drifting, and we started in the stretch of the San Joaquin from the San Andreas Shoals to Prisoner Point for several small striped bass released on the outgoing tide before leaving at the end of the outgo to the shoals above Eddo’s Marina. We found a school of willing biters that were much better quality, and we put in three limits of striped bass along with some barely legal fish and shakers released. When the outgoing tide died, the bite died. Boucke ended up with the largest fish of the day over 10 pounds, and with the water temperatures sliding down to 48 degrees, this fishery’s days are numbered.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, has been searching for striped bass, and he said, “They have been moving around daily, and they are popping up in different locations. The water is clear, and it continues to drop in temperature with the combination of shorter days and cold evenings. Even though the sun has been shining during the day, there aren’t enough hours of daylight to warm up the water. For largemouth bass, there is a terrific ripbait bite with the ima Flit in 100 and 120 in shad patterns such as Olive Herring or Ghost Tennessee Shad on a slow presentation. I am focusing on areas with moving water around eddies or breaks, and the bass will be in the grass since that is where the bait is. They don’t want too much current right now, but you have to be around some water movement. The fish are filling up for the wintertime, and if you find one, there will be more there.” Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, was on this week with Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service along with Mark Wilson and they found great action for a few hours drifting live mudsuckers at depths from 11-25 feet on the San Joaquin. Wands said, “We caught and released 35 keepers to 7 pounds, and I had a much larger fish break off. These fish were willing to bite today as they were really moving with the mudsuckers.”

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 1; Striper 1; Catfish 3; Crappie 3

Colder water is driving the bass deeper at all coastal lakes, and Nacimiento is no exception. Finesse plastics on the drop-shot or dart head as deep as 50 feet are the top techniques, but spoons also are effective. The fish are starting to hold near the shad schools. The lake held at 42 percent capacity, with a webcam available at At Lopez, the bass there also have gone deep, and finesse techniques are best including plastics on a Texas-rig, drop-shot or shakey head along with jigs, spoons or Senkos on a wacky-rig. Crappie are found near structure with minijigs with bluegill or red ear on red worms on a drop-shot rig. A webcam of the lake is available at At San Antonio, the South Shore will be on their normal schedule through the Jan. 1 holiday, but there hasn’t been much change on the fishing seen with the a few striped bass taken on swimbaits or umbrella rigs trolled near the dam or catfish with dip baits, stink baits or cut baits. At Santa Margarita, bass fishing continues to be slow at best as the fish have gone into deep water. The best techniques for the occasional fish have been with jigs, spoons, or plastics on a slow presentation. Crappie remain hit or miss. 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 required before launching a boat.

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



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: Delta/Martinez Marina, 11th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release’ Sturgeon Derby,; Pine Flat, Bass 101; Nacimiento. Bakersfield Bass Club

Trout plants

    • Fresno County: Fresno City Woodward Park Lake
  • Kern County: Kern River, Section 2

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