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Fishing Report for Dec. 5: Delta delivering sturgeon, striper

By Roger George And Dave Hurley
Special to The Bee

December 05, 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

Delta sturgeon, striper and bass action going, Steve Mitchell said. Eastman swimbait bite for bass kicks off, and Nacimiento bass action good, Dave Hurley reported.


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

San Luis Reservoir is still getting the most play from striper fishermen, but a few are starting to see what is going on in the northern section of the California Aqueduct. The key is to find moving water and run Duo Realis jerkbaits on a planer. In the southern aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Most fishermen in our area are targeting planted trout in the local reservoirs, but there are still a few anglers out there seeking catfish with frozen clams or live crickets or for striped bass with sardines, blood worms or tube baits.”

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

The recent trout plants have spurred on a swimbait bite for quality largemouth bass with the best action in the afternoon on Huddleston swimbaits in a rainbow trout pattern. Trout fishermen are scoring planters from shore with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. Catfishing is best at night with chicken livers or nightcrawlers. The lake rose to 58 percent capacity.

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

Lake Don Pedro

Bass 2; Trout 3; King salmon 1; Crappie 2

The trout bite has finally taken off as predicted, once the water cooled enough to bring the rainbows toward the surface. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing has been waiting to work the lake for the past few months and found an opportunity Friday. He said, “We started in one location for nothing, but when we went to our second spot, we had a steady bite for three hours using my custom shad-patterned spoons on lead core. My two clients, Mike Howe and John Kern of Modesto, landed a total of nine rainbows to 3.5 pounds, and we released four of the rainbows along with two lost at the boat and several other good strikes. The key was finding the grebes, and the birds had the shad corralled as they were constantly diving. We trolled through the birds, and we hooked up. The lake hasn’t turned over yet, but it has at least 10 feet of visibility and a temperature in the 59- to 60-degree range. The rainbows were spitting up shad ranging from one-half to 1.5 inches, and one of the trout was loaded with nine small shad.” The lake is at 80 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, “Planted trout with Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, rainbow garlic, or garlic are the best thing going in our area with most fishermen heading to the local lakes or the upper Kern River to the Johnsondale Bridge. Few anglers have been heading to Lake Isabella, but catfish remain the best opportunity for success with frozen clams, sardines or anchovies are all working for the whiskerfish.” The lake held at 29 percent capacity. The upper and lower sections of the Kern River continue to be planted on a regular basis.

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

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2; Crappie 2; Trout 2; Catfish 2

With the water cooling, the bass have retreated deeper in search of the shad schools, and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun said, “We have been selling a number of one-half to three-quarter-ounce Hopkins or CC Spoons for anglers heading to Kaweah.” The bass are as deep as 70 feet around the shad schools. Planted trout are generating interest with Power Bait, Mice Tails or Kastmasters from the second launch ramp. The lake rose to 12 percent capacity.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

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

Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Co. in Springville said, “The bass bite has slowed down with the colder weather, and the best bet is a slow presentation with either jigs or plastics on the drop-shot as the fish have gone into deep water. There have been a number of shore fishermen targeting planted rainbow trout with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Panther Martin spinners.” The lake held at 11 percent capacity. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The flow is perfect, and trout fishing is fair with nymphs.”

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

Millerton Lake/ San Joaquin River

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

At Millerton, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The quality of bass is not as good as at Pine Flat, but the overall numbers are better. The bite has slowed somewhat, but you can still catch 4-5 fish out of one area at depths from 15-30 feet. There is some movement in the afternoons with the bass moving into the shallows to 10 feet, but everything is on the bottom with plastics, jigs or spoons. Most fishermen are using shad-patterned plastics, but there has been some success with watermelon Hula Grubs.” The lake rose to 66 percent capacity.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

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

Huge rainbow trout are still a possibility, but anglers must work long and hard for a quality ’bow. The Glory Hole Sports Catfish Derby came to an end Nov. 30, and some big whiskerfish hit the scales in the monthlong competition. Elmo Baur took first at 21.56 pounds for two fish with his largest at 13.17 pounds. Jeremy Clinkenbeard was second at 20.68 pounds and Gary Gallamore third out of 45 anglers at 14.52 pounds. Big Rock Sports and Hendrix Outdoors were sponsors for the raffle prizes. Bass fishing is best with finesse presentations as temperatures drop. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “I took out clients on Wednesday of the past week, and we tried lead core near the Spillway for no action as they wouldn’t hit the shad-patterned spoons on lead core so we switched over to running the spoons on downriggers at depths from 25-55 feet for nothing as well. I slowed it down by rolling shad, and we only received two bites all day, but these bites produced quality rainbows at 3.5 and 4.5 pounds. The action has slowed down as it is much slower than it was when I was last on the lake in September, and the bite wasn’t red hot at that time either. although we landed a number of quality rainbows. With the action slow overall at New Melones, I opted for Don Pedro for far better results on my next trip.” John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service proved you don’t need a reaction bait to land a truly large fish with his 15.19-pound largemouth on a drop-shot a few weeks back. The best action is found with finesse techniques of jigs or plastics on the drop-shot in crawdad patterns at depths to 40 feet. Once the water cools further, the swimbait bite will improve. 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; Catfish 2; Crappie 2

The trout bite has picked up at Pine Flat given recent plants, and there are still vestiges of a crappie bite in the upper portion of the lake. Kerman Bass Club held a tournament Saturday with 17 anglers weighing in eight limits composed of 60 fish for 100.48 pounds a 1.67-pound average. John Albidrez of Fresno was the top finisher at 9.79 pounds with a big fish of 3.52. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite is sporadic at best with jigs, brass ’n’ glass, or plastics on the Texas-rig or drop-shot at depths from 15-40 feet with the best cut of fish found from 30-40 feet. There is a good spoon bite with half or three-quarter-ounce spoons, and we are selling a lot of three-quarter-ounce Hopkins and CC spoons in silver or blue/silver.” For trout, Gilbert reported improving action in the main lake from Cove Island Marina to the power lines with Needlefish, Apex lures, Wedding Rings tipped with a ’crawler or blade/’crawler combinations at 4-6 colors of lead core. Pine Flat rose to 48 percent capacity.

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

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 2; Catfish 2; Bass 2; Crappie 1

San Luis Reservoir remains the top option for San Jose- and Fresno-area striped bass fishermen, however the overall bite has slowed. The lake is getting more pressure than in the past several years with the emergence of fishing groups such as the Fishaholics out of Fresno and How To Fish out of the Hollister area. Most of the striped bass are schoolies, but there have been some quality linesides in excess of 30 pounds landed. Travis Porter of Hollister and How To Fish said, “ It was a tough bite for us on Saturday as I only landed four keepers to 23 inches along with another fou shakers. Allen Day from Morgan Hill and Octavio Gonzalez of Hollister landed numbers of linesides throwing topwater lures in the mornings. Joe Drewry of Salinas landed a huge 43-inch, 35-pound striper trolling a C-Rig around the Romero Visitor Center.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the overall bite has slowed for numbers for most anglers. “There is a topwater bite at times that was producing most of the fish the guys I talked to were getting, with the trolling bite much tougher. I took out Earl Heitzmann of Mariposa, son Josh and grandson Miles, 4, for more than 20 fish to 23 inches last Tuesday right after the storm. The fish were mostly suspended and tough to catch. On Thursday, Jim Bartko, ex-Fresno State athletic director, and his uncle Dan caught over 25 total fish released with three fish in the 24- to 25-inch range.” George continued, “ The fish are schooled up and moving around in big groups, and if you miss hitting the dense pack it may look like you can’t find the fish. I’ve had some good anglers complaining they can’t find any fish on their sonar. It’s changed the game and it’s not a lock out there now. The topwater bite is sporadic and mostly in the morning – hit it, you look good; miss it, it’s hard. The water is about 64 degrees. There are still a lot of anglers keeping the bigger fish; guys need to realize there are no more striper plants anymore and what we have is it! Destroy the spawners and the fishery, and we all pay.” Alex Tran of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “There have been some decent keepers in the main lake, and we are selling lots of jumbo minnows for drifting. In the Forebay, there is a topwater bite with Walk-the-Dog style baits in the early mornings when the fish are boiling, and the Evergreen SB 150 in shad patterns has been the top seller this week.” Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We sold out of 7-inch Super Flukes this week for San Luis, and we are getting a lot of calls for Lucky Crafts which continue to be hard to obtain.” San Luis rose to 75 percent capacity.

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

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2; Trout 2

At Bass Lake, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The launch ramp is close to being out of the water with the lake at 53 percent, but bass fishermen are reporting plenty of rainbows in the lake with one picking up two to 19 inches while drop-shotting. The bass bite is fair at best as the water temperature remains unusually warm at this time of year. The swimbait bite should take off soon, as trout plants have increased the number of rainbows in the lake. There are quality rainbows to 19 inches taken on a variety of methods including incidental catches by bass fishermen drop-shotting. The launch ramp is limited to small or aluminum boats with the water level dropping to 52 percent. Webcams of the lake are available at

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

Shaver Lake/ Huntington Lake

Kokanee 2; Trout 2

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters out of Shaver Lake said, “There were a few boats on the lake over the weekend with the beautiful weather in the 60s, and a few fish have been taken from the boats. A limit of mixed kokanee and rainbow trout is possible, but one or two fish per boat is the norm. There just hasn’t been much happening out there right now. The best action has been from Stevenson Creek to the island at depths to 20 feet. Bank fishing is also slow, but a few trophy rainbows can be taken with trout dough bait at Tunnel Creek. Huntington has produced some rainbows near inlets, especially near Deer Creek with trout dough bait.” Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Guide Service will be holding a seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods in Fresno at 6 p.m. Feb. 8, with Wittwer covering Shaver kokanee fishing and last year’s results and Nichols on 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 drawings for prizes, with water and snacks provided. Nichols will be back on a part-time basis on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the 2018 season starting in April. Shaver ropped to 55 percent capacity, with Huntington rising to 74 percent. Huntington Lake Road closed to wheeled vehicles Dec. 1.

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



Bass 3; Striper 3; Sturgeon 4; Catfish 2; Bluegill 2

It’s prime time for sturgeon and striped bass on the Sacramento-Delta, and Suisun Bay has been the hot spot for sturgeon while stripers are found at both ends of the Delta. With the water temperature hitting the magic 56-degree mark, action has been tremendous for private and six-pack operators. Captain John Badger continues his hot streak with up to five limits of sturgeon. Badger said, “The key for us has been to move around for as long as it takes to find enough fish in order to set the pick. We have searched for up to two hours before we put out baits in the water, and we are finding them in the strangest places as they will be somewhere else the following day. We went into the shallows with the larger tides this weekend, and once I come out of the Martinez harbor, I am already looking around and checking everything. Ledges and contours have been the top locations.” Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg found good action Sunday with five slot-limit sturgeon with three legal sturgeon coming within 10 minutes after holding with two keepers at 53 and 46 inches by 4 p.m. They also released a 64-inch oversized along with a few shakers. He said, “We were just in the right place at the right time when the fish decided to bite as we were ready to pull the pick at the end of the day when the bites came on strong. The fish bit on both tides on both salmon roe and eel, and the sturgeon have been found in both deep and shallow water.” For striped bass, Alan Fong of Fisherman’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “Live bait has been the best thing going in the north Delta, and live mudsuckers are producing the larger stripers while spooning is only locating dinks in the 8- to 12-inch range.” Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Liberty Island, Steamboat Slough, and the Sacramento Deep Water Channel are the top locations for striped bass, and live mudsuckers or minnows have been the ticket. Fresh or frozen shad or sardines coated with garlic spray are also working for the linesides.” Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported on small striped bass on the Sacramento River in the north Delta. He said, “We were targeting stripers in the early morning with the ima Little Stick, and instead of a striper, my young client landed a quality largemouth bass. We missed a big hen on a blow up, and after finding a bunch of smaller stripers, we switched over to largemouth bass with the ima Pinjack in crawdad patterns on 15-pound test. We were working rocky structure in the afternoon since it holds the warmer of the sun, and the bite improved in the afternoon, and we caught and released over 40 largemouth with the crankbaits. I have been targeting north-facing, sun-activated banks since the sun will warm up the water, and in the area we have been fishing, there is a minimum of shad. That is why I think the crawdad pattern is working much better. I did throw a chartreuse crankbait to mix things up from my clients, and I also caught and released a number of largemouth. These are the northern-strain largemouths who are more active in the colder water. The tides were very small with only a 1.5 foot swing, and once the tide came back in, we started throwing swimbaits for stripers with our largest fish at 22 inches.” Captain James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, reported plenty of action trolling at the West Bank, Horseshoe Bend, and Broad Slough. He said, “These look like new arrivals as they are bright and clean, but the grade is small with a number of 18- to 19-inchers with the larger fish to 24 inches taken on the West Bank.” Steffan Masters of Lost Anchor Bait and Tackle in Antioch reported “off the hook” sturgeon action out in front of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor with several brought to the shop along with oversized and undersized reported. Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle said, “Live bullheads have really slowed down on the past week as our owner, Curtis Hayes, had been getting 15 dozen and now he is only picking up around 15 bullheads. Fishing has been good with a number of quality striped bass near Pittsburg, and sturgeon are coming from the Big Cut and also at the Mothball Fleet.” Boaters are advised to use extreme caution in the northeast corner of Honker Bay as a submerged wreck high centered a six-pack operator for 10 hours last weekend as it is undetectable at high tide. The San Joaquin-Delta has been host to innumerable small striped bass; the trick has been to locate legal fish. Largemouth bass fishing has been solid with crawdad-imitation crankbaits as the fish are gorging before the temperatures drop to winter conditions. Increased flows from New Hogan and New Melones has brought more cold water into the San Joaquin system, and combined with the highest tides of the year, the river has been rising. James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service has also been finding small legal fish in the San Joaquin system near Eddo’s Marina. He said, “It was a bit slower this week, but we still managed six limits of legal stripers.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Largemouth bass fishing is rated good. Catching some nice ones while trying to locate stripers. Targeting stripers has been more difficult.”

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


Go to for reports on Half Moon Bay, Monterey/Santa Cruz, San Francisco Bay and San Luis Obispo



    • American Bass Association on Dec. 2 at Delta/Russo’s Marina: 1, Harvey Pulliam/Jamond Andrews 21.40 pounds (big fish 6.42); 2, Ken Mah/Jason Austin 18.73; 3, Jerred Jennings/Alan DaSilva 17.28
    • California Tournament Trail on Dec. 2 at McClure: 1, Danny Wood/Cliff Woods 13.66 (big fish 3.33); 2, Randy and Glenn Pierson 12.21; 3, Mark Andrews/Charles Welch 11.95
    • Kerman Bass Club on Dec. 2 at Pine Flat: 1, John Albidrez 9.79 pounds (big fish 3.52); 2, Darren Graef 9.51; 3, Dave McEwen 8.36
  • American Bass Association on Dec. 2 at Nacimiento: 1, Del and Darrin Bishop 13.58 pounds (big fish 4.83); 2, Jim Graddy/Fred Misono 12.43; 3, Tom Nieto/Bryan Grier 11.96


    • Dec. 9: McClure, New Jen Bass Tournaments; Pine Flat, Sierra Bass Club
  • Dec. 10: Don Pedro, Riverbank Bass Anglers/Modesto Ambassadors; McClure, Fresno Bass Club; Pine Flat, Kings VIII Bass Club; Kaweah, New Jen Bass Tournaments
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