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Fishing Report for Jan. 2: Big week for bass at plethora of Valley spots

By Roger George And Dave Hurley
Special to The Bee

January 2, 2018

Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted. Have a photo of a recent catch to share? Email it to with “fish photo” in the subject line.

Best bets

Delta bass fishing going strong, Randy Pringle said. San Luis stripers active, Dave Hurley reported. Eastman pumping out big bass, and Pine Flat and Millerton bass numbers good, Steve Newman said. McClure bass on a tear, Beau Coutroul 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

Not much change at the California Aqueduct, with the majority of striper fishermen driving farther north to San Luis Reservoir or O’Neill Forebay for more action and a better grade of striped bass. The water is moving through the system, and the bait is starting to accumulate near the headgates. 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 led to increased numbers of anglers and in order to maintain access fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and other debris when departing.

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

Eastman Lake

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

“The big girls are eating at Eastman!” said Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis, as Aaron Peratt of Clovis put in a five-fish limit to 20 pounds Wednesday. Eastman Lake has been designated as California’s first Trophy Bass Fishery by the state Department of Fish and Game. Anglers may keep only one bass with a minimum length of 22 inches, and it consistently produces the best grade of largemouth in California’s central Valley. Newman said, “The bigger fish are now in the winter pattern with big worms, jigs or swimbaits over rockpiles at depths from 20-40 feet. For the big rainbow trout-patterned swimbaits such as Huddlestons or River2Sea Swavers, there is a bite very early in the morning prior to the sun rising and also at dusk, but you have to put in your time for the opportunity for a single quality fish. Rat-L-Traps bounced off of the rocks are also working as this is a very good technique for Eastman. Bluegill patterns have also been effective as there has been an abundance of bluegill in the lake this year as a result of the high water conditions flooding new areas. The bigger fish are feeding on bluegill or the planted trout as they are looking for one big meal in the wintertime instead of chasing the small half-inch minnows.” Most of the action is occurring in the main lake, but there are a few productive spots in the now-opened river arm section of the lake. Eastman 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 the 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

Trout action remains decent, with Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing finding up and down action on various trips. The bait is moving toward Middle and Upper Bay and finding the bait is the key to locating the rainbows. The trout are fattening up on shad, and shad-patterned spoons are working. Smith is planning on switching to grubs to see if a slower presentation will be more effective, along with trying the river arm out of Moccasin. The bass also are following the shad, which have moved deeper. Jigs, plastics on the drop-shot and swimbaits on a slow roll are the top techniques. The lake held at 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 1

The majority of local anglers are concentrating on the small impoundments for planted rainbows with Power Bait in Chunky Cheese, rainbow garlic or garlic/garlic. Action at Buena Vista has improved since the 4,000-pound plant prior to Christmas. The upper and lower Kern River continue to be on the slow side as the flows have slowed considerably, particularly in the upper river which is closed above the Johnsondale Bridge. When a plant occurs, the action is best with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or live crickets. Few anglers continue to head up to Lake Isabella, but the best action is for catfish with frozen clams, sardines or anchovies. Bass fishing remains slow, with few fishermen trying or reporting. The lake held at 29 percent.

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 8 percent capacity, and the bass are scattered out at various depths and 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 3

Colder water has contributed to slower bass action, and 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 held at 13 percent capacity.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

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

There are several upcoming tournaments, and the bass bite is heating up. This month will see tournaments every weekend starting with the Kerman Bass Club and NewJen Bass Tournaments on Jan. 6 and followed by the Best Bass Tournaments and Manteca Bassin’ Buddies on Jan. 13, and Best Bass Tournaments and Sierra Bass Club on Jan. 20. Beau Coutroul of the Camanche Recreation Co. fished the lake with a friend this week, and he reported a phenomenal bite up the river arm with plastics on the drop-shot at depths from 35-40 feet. He said, “We caught and released a number of 2- to 2.5-pound fish in the early morning, and most of our fish were landed on purple worms. We also heard of a good topwater bite within the first half hour of the morning, but we stuck with the finesse techniques. Right off the bat, we picked off a half-dozen bass on a single ledge.” With the bass holding around the shad schools, Berserk’s Purple Hornet jigs are also working as well as slow-rolling trout-patterned swimbait for the opportunity at a quality bass. Most tournament anglers will be seeking numbers first before trying for the one big kicker fish in coming weeks. The lake is releasing water, but 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 state Fish and Wildlife are planned 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 lodgings has a lake-front view and is furnished, plus has a kitchen, full bathroom, heating and air conditioning, and sleeps 6-8 people. Finishing touches on the cabins are being completed now. Additional information about reservations and pricing will be provided soon.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass 3; Striped bass 1; Shad 1; Bluegill 2; Crappie 2

At Millerton, Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said, “The bite is great for numbers, but not so great for size. The fish are transitioning to a sculpin and shad bite, but the shad are moving into deep water. The bigger fish are found with deep-diving crankbaits or jigs with numbers of small fish on the drop-shot. You can find them from 5-50 feet, but the most consistent action is from 20-30 feet.” The lake rose slightly to 68 percent capacity.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

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

At New Melones, the combination of very clear, unseasonably warm water at 56 degrees and the lack of inclement weather, with no perceptible wind, have made for challenging conditions for bass fishermen. The quality of rainbow trout is unmatched in Mother Lode reservoirs, but the big fish are few and far between. John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “It is a finesse bite with light line and light tackle with bottom-bouncing baits. The vegetation on the bottom is starting to fade with the colder water, and you can go to plastics on a dart head or shakey head along with jigs. The bass are eating crawdads once again in deep water, and the bass have moved off of the shorelines into deep water. There are shad schools at depths from 80-200 feet, but on occasion, you can find shad on the surface in open water. There isn’t much bait from 40 feet to the surface right now. My best action has been from 40-70 feet as there is bait at these levels. It is mind-boggling how much bait there is in the lake right now.” Rainbow trout are still a possibility, and these fish are built like “footballs,” according to Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing. He has been targeting rainbows at Don Pedro given the increased opportunities for greater numbers, but he remains impressed with the quality of Melones rainbow trout. Liechty said, “The trout will start putting on pounds in the cold water during the winter months, and I keeping a spinning rod loaded with a Tasmanian Devil on the deck when we see trout working the surface. I anticipate the lake record rainbow trout to be broken once again, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are rainbows in the teens in the lake.” Catfish and crappie remain 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 3; Trout 3; Catfish 2; Crappie 2

Pine Flat and Millerton Reservoirs are producing numbers of spotted bass, with the trout bite at Pine Flat continuing to keep trollers and bank fishermen pleased. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite at Pine Flat is improving as the fish are starting to get oriented to the bottom near structure including vertical ledges and flats. The fish are suspending at depths between 30-50 feet, and ned-rigs, deep crankbaits, jigs or plastics on the drop-shot are all working. The baitfish are moving deep below 50 feet, and the ice jig and spoon bite should be taking off within the next 2 or 3 weeks. The water levels are not going up and down, and we have conditions for a more predictable winter pattern. It is easier to find the bass on a more consistent basis.” The trout bite at Pine Flat continues to be best in the main lake with Needlefish, ExCels, or Kastmasters in shad patterns, and the planted rainbows are in the top 20 feet of the surface. Bank fishermen are finding decent action near the Deer Creek Marina with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake has risen slightly to 49 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 central California striped bass anglers, and the troll and minnow bite has taken off with the high water conditions and unusually warm water conditions. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Trollers are still doing well, but there is a bite with ripbaits, flukes and topwater poppers in the early mornings. Trollers are pulling broken backed Rebels, P-Line Predator Minnows, or umbrella rigs at depths from 30 to 60 feet. The bass are holding in deeper water and not oriented towards the shoreline, and they are starting to feed on freshwater shrimp in the depths.” Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the clear water conditions and the warmer than usual water temps has created bites that are changing rapidly. “I fished last Wednesday with Jun and Elaine Tamara of Reedley on their 35th anniversary and we found a good bite after searching all morning. We trolled up nine fish on Lucky Crafts from 22 inches to a very nice 31.5-inch striper going 13.6 pounds we released,” George said. “The very next day I took out a dad and his 11-year-old son and the whole pattern completely changed. I had guys calling me asking what was going on, and others coming up to my boat! I had to scrape and claw but we landed and released 20 fish, with 10 dinks and 10 fish from 22-25 inches. Many guys told me they whiffed, even some good minnow guys! Each day is different with some shallow one day and then deeper the next – your sonar is key.” In the Forebay, fewer fishermen are heading to the small impoundment with the solid bite at the main lake, but anglers can squeeze out a limit of barely legal stripers after culling numbers of striped bass with ripbaits, topwater poppers, blood worms or pile worms. The forebay is pumping water in and out of the lake and finding moving water is a key. Soang Lee of Fresno caught and kept a 44-inch striped bass while fishing at night. The lake continues to rise, up to 80 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 2

Trout action has slowed within the past week, both for trollers and from the banks. Few bass fishermen are heading to the lake due to the low water conditions on the public ramp, and icy conditions in the mornings add to the complications of launching a vessel. The courtesy dock has been taken out of the water. Drop-shotting around the docks are producing a few fish, and the weeds have been dissipating with the colder water temperatures. The lake held at 48 percent capacity. Webcams are available at

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

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

Kaiser Pass Road close Dec. 1st, with access to the area limited to those on snowmobile. Edison is at 35 percent capacity, Florence at 2 percent and Mammoth Pool at 10 percent.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake

Kokanee 3; Trout 2

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “Shaver residents Dennis and Kim Beard were on the lake on New Year’s morning, and they picked up over three limits of kokanee and another limit of rainbows to 15 inches, keeping two limits of kokanee between 10-12 inches and releasing everything else. They were trolling at a depth of 30 feet in front of the Sierra Marina, and Dennis reported massive amounts of kokanee on the meter in the area. Boaters will need to use the Auxiliary Ramp at the Sierra Marina at the present time with the lake at 42 percent capacity. Experienced fishermen are getting them now.” A webcam of the lake is available at updated every 20 minutes. Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Guide Service are holding a free seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods on Blackstone near Bullard in Fresno at 6 p.m. Feb. 8, Nichols said. “A wide variety of information will be presented, including the expected water levels for Shaver from spring to fall and the trout plants forecast by both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project,” Nichols said. “Successful techniques for both trout and kokanee will be covered in addition to forecasts for the 2018 season. There will be snacks and bottled water along with a free raffle at the event.” There were no reports from Huntington, which has dropped to 62 percent capacity.

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 lower-elevation Bass and Shaver 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

Striper 2

Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is wrapping up the bottom fish season in style, with Tom Harlan of San Bruno putting in a 12-pound ling on Big Red Worm Bait Co. octopus while fishing off Pescadero with his father. Captain Tom said, “They last fished on the Huli Cat 17 years ago for salmon.” Sophia Xu from Palo Alto landed an 11-pound ling on a shrimp fly on one of the final trips.

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

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Striper 2; Crab 2

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey reported tremendous ling cod action with the Check Mate heading south to Point Sur on Friday for 31 limits of ling cod by 11:45 a.m., and they were working on rockfish limits. He said, “The report is that the rockfish were biting, and the bonita showed up as they had put in three big bonita in the 10- to 12-pound range.” The last few days have featured limited or near limits of ling cod for up to 24 anglers on both the Check Mate and the Caroline. The combination of the incredible weather and vacation have led to having to turn away hundreds of potential fishermen during the closing dates of the season. As of Jan. 1, they are running Dungeness crab and sand dab trips, and the interest will drop off significantly. The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest is March 10, with entries taken starting this month. The contest is limited to the first 300, with proceeds going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.

Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732

San Francisco Bay

Halibut 1; Striper 2; Leopard shark 2; Sturgeon 2; Crab 2

Mike Aughney of USA Fishing said, “During the last few days of the rockfish season, limits were the rule when the weather cooperates with solid ling counts being reported by all. Out of Emeryville two boats ran crab/rockfish combos. The Sea Wolf reported 23 limits of rockfish adding two lings and 98 Dungeness crabs. The New Salmon Queen reported 200 rockfish for 22 anglers, a big ling count of 36 and 22 crabs.” The Happy Hooker out of Berkeley wrapped up the final rockfish/crab combination trips of the year before moving up the river to Martinez for striped bass and sturgeon, and they followed up 11 limits of crab out of two strings with another day of limits Thursday along with limits of ling cod and three-quarter limits of rockfish. Inside the bays, Captain Chris Smith took the six-pack Defiant out of Martinez into San Pablo Bay on Friday, and they found biting sturgeon in the shallows of the back of the bay. They had three legal sturgeon by 12:30 p.m. with several more opportunities missed. The slightly warmer waters of San Pablo could be contributing to a much-improved bite as opposed to the Delta at the present time. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond was out for a few hours of scouting midweek. He didn’t find the sturgeon in San Pablo Bay and had to settle for striped bass. He said, “I know where they aren’t right now since all of the locations that we have been getting sturgeon were dry. We looked in two areas for bass for no action, but the third location was the charm as we found the Mother Lode.” It appears that you have to look around if you aren’t finding what you want. Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond said, “The gale warnings in the Pacific Northwest are keeping mud shrimp from our tanks, but we have a limited supply of ghost shrimp in the shop. Fishing has been very good for striped bass and decent for sturgeon. Tommy Glaser had a shaker sturgeon and a 6- pound striper. Yesterday, a customer named Scott Smith went out in a small Whaler in 5 feet of water near China Camp with Loch Lomond ghost shrimp, and – first cast, a 20-inch shark; second cast – nothing; third cast – 55-inch sturgeon; next cast – shaker sturgeon; next cast – 75-inch sturgeon that he played for an hour; and on his final cast – he hooked another oversized sturgeon that broke his line. We have a lot of bass here, but it is not as good as it was a month ago; not everyone is getting them. The Pumphouse has been the top area for bass. We have live grass shrimp in the shop with pile worms coming in tomorrow in addition to mudsuckers and ghost shrimp.”

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

The rockfish season ended Dec. 31, and the Avenger and Endeavor out of Morro Bay Landing went out in style with 80 limits of rockfish and 62 ling cod to 16 pounds. The Fiesta out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay went on a long-range trip on the final day of the season for 46 ling cod to 22.2 pounds along with 170 vermilion and 60 assorted rockfish for full limits. The final ling cod count for the season out of Virg’s was 3,392 after the two previous seasons resulted in over 8,000-plus lings. Out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis, the Patriot, Flying Fish, and Phenix went out with a combined 76 anglers on New Year’s Eve for 119 vermilion, 161 copper, 184 assorted, 225 bolina, 23 Boccaccio, 20 canary and two cabezon to go with 46 lings to 14 pounds. Patriot is running crab/sand dab trips from January to March, and all ports will be running whale-watching and nature trips until the anticipated rockfish opener in April.

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



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

The lack of rain throughout this extremely dry December has contributed to saltwater species moving into Suisun Bay, and the cold water has affected action for sturgeon and striped bass. Rain is badly needed as normally the Sacramento-Delta is filled with muddy water, which warms quicker than the clear water conditions at the present time. Warmer water in the ocean and in San Francisco and San Pablo bays may be contributing to the lack of large striped bass schools moving into the Delta. Benicia Bait and Tackle reported leopard sharks have been landed off the pier at Ninth Street in Benicia, with one couple catching four before the New Year. Sturgeon fishing has been fair at best with eel, salmon roe or grass shrimp in the cold water. Ghost shrimp, pile worms and blood worms are in short supply with the extreme cold weather in the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg said, “Fishing for sturgeon has clearly slowed down, but this is expected for this time of year with the cold water and the lack of rain. I think January will warm up much faster than it has been in the past few winters, and the spring bite will take off early, and it will be good. The reason I say this, it that we are already having a mild winter with a ton of fish in the system right now. The water will warm up much faster in the flats, and this will bring out the bite. The shallow water has been the top location over the past week, and Hayden Mullins of Dragon Sport Fishing out of Martinez did well in the shallows as well as Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing with a single slot-sized fish landed and another keeper lost. The roe bite has slowed down, and if you are using roe, the action has been better with cured roe right now. Eel is a solid bait in the colder water. I have been using uncured roe, but the fish didn’t want it on our last trip.” The largest tide of the winter will be arriving Jan. 1 and 2, and the big tides will push the fish into the slower water in the flats. 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 12th annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby is coming to Martinez Marina on Jan. 27. 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. on Friday, Jan. 26.” Talmadge is actively recruiting sponsors, those interest can contact him at 510-851-2500 or through his website at San Joaquin-Delta striped bass action has been plagued by cold and clear water conditions, and there is concern that the striped bass are holding out somewhere farther west rather than entering the San Joaquin-Delta in numbers. Largemouth bass are responding to a slow presentation with ripbaits or plastics on the drop-shot near slowly moving water. Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “I wish fish were jumping in the boat, but the action is sporadic at best. The stripers are moving every day, and a group comes through and continues on up into the Sacramento or San Joaquin Rivers. Since there is no pattern with the lack of winter weather and rain, it has been difficult for fishermen to know where the fish are holding. Largemouth bass are chewing right now, and the bite with the ima Flit in shad patterns continues to be very good. The fish are focusing on bait fish around current, and you have to make multiple casts to a single area that you believe in. It is time to let your hooks rust and deadstick the presentation as the fish aren’t chasing bait right now. The Flat Dog on a Zappu head on 8-pound test is also effective. You have to put it right in front of them. Our best action has been around areas with moving water which just makes the weeds wave as the weeds will bring in plankton and bait fish which attract the bass. The bass are not directly in the current, but they are close to the current in the back eddies, cul-de-sacs, or pockets. I haven’t been finding fish along straight banks without bends right now. One interesting observation has been the lack of egrets in the San Joaquin system as the birds are normally holding along the shorelines in big groups of 20 or so, but they have been absent right now. The egrets are working flooded fields right now. The birds are a good indicator of the presence of bait fish.” Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors had a similar report regarding striped bass as he was out for six hours Wednesday for 12 fish to 8 pounds throwing Optima’s Bad Bubba Shad swimbait on a half-ounce jig head. He said, “The fish are there, but you have to cover water and find the right hump. I worked 35 different humps between the Pittsburg PGE Plant to Frank’s Tract, and we caught fish on only five of the humps. The water is 48 degrees, and the fish are less willing to chase. Most of our action came between Blind Point and the mouth of False River. One customer saw me in Sherman Island on Wednesday, and he went back on Thursday morning to work the same hump for limits to 15 pounds. For largemouth bass, there is a good ripbait and jig bite at depths from 8-12 feet, but you have to fish it slow in the cold water. There hasn’t been any rain to sweeten up the river.” Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, continues to drift live mudsuckers for limited action for striped bass. He said, “We were out on Thursday, and it wasn’t a great day, but we did catch fish to 7 pounds with a number of 17.5- to 19-inchers. It is definitely a winter bite as the fish are playing around with the live bait before they swallow it. There aren’t really many fish out there as they are not schooled up at all. We lost one around 10 pounds, and we were slow-drifting between False River to Broad Slough on the San Joaquin.” Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Fishing can be good if you find the fish as the fish are still active and eating large flies with no problem despite the 48 to 50-degree water temperatures.”

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

At Nacimiento, the spotted bass have gone deep, and most of the bass are holding in 50-70 feet of water. Working the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head on light line is the top technique, but there are a few active fish in shallower water on reaction baits. Vertical jigging with small spoons is another good option. Live red worms or jumbo red worms are working for bluegill. The lake held at 42 percent capacity. A webcam is available at At Lopez, the bass are also dropping in the water column in response to colder water, and the best techniques remain finesse presentations such as plastics on a Texas-rig, drop-shot, or shakey head along with jigs, spoons, or Senkos on a wacky-rig. Crappie continue to be 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, striped bass have gone deep following the shad schools, and the action remains slow for both largemouth and striped bass. At Santa Margarita, similar to the other coastal lakes, the best techniques are working the bottom 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 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



    • 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. 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

  • Kern County: Hart Park Lake; Ming Lake; River Walk Lake; Truxtun Lake

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