The Fresno Bee
February 21-27, 2018
Courtesy Michael Borboa Special to The Bee
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.
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Delta bass, stripers and sturgeon providing good action, Randy Pringle said. Eastman bass and Pine Flat trout and bass hitting, Steve Newman reported. McClure bass bite ready to break out, Mike Gomez said. San Luis stripers continue munching, Anthony Lopez reported. Shaver kokanee bite good, Dave Hurley said.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2 Catfish 2
The heavy water movement in the California Aqueduct has hampered the ability for baitfish to congregate, and the excellent conditions last year with less water movement due to high flows from reservoirs are absent during this dry winter. Fishing action remains slow in both the northern and southern sections of the aqueduct as most Central Valley striped bass fishermen continue to head north to San Luis Reservoir. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, the striped bass and catfish bite has been slow with a few linesides taken on blood worms, lug worms or Gitzits.
The popularity of the California Aqueduct has led to increased numbers of anglers, and in order to maintain the right to continue to fish along these public areas, fishermen are encouraged to take out all trash and debris when departing.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman of Valley Rod & Gun in Clovis said, “Eastman has stayed consistent as the lake continues to kick out largemouth bass in the 4- to 6-pound range. Jigs at depths from 30 to 40 feet are working, but the swimbait bite has gotten much tougher due to heavy fishing pressure and the lack of trout plants over the past few weeks. Jigs, Ned-rigs or spinnerbaits are working in the shallows by the middle of the day as the water warms up, and bass in the 2- to 2.5-pound range can be taken with these methods. The water is stained, and jigs in brown/purple, brown/green or crawdad patterns are working along with spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse. The shallow fish are far more aggressive, and the bass are holding around shorelines with sun exposure in the afternoons. The bite has been solid, but the action may slow down once the water releases begin. 7-year old Marcello Taylor-Salery landed a 6.43-pound largemouth on a Senko while fishing with his father, Marcell Salery.”
The lake held at 59 percent.
Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Newman said, “Bass action is picking up with Senkos or jigs at 15 to 25 feet for bass to 2.5 pounds. The swimbait bite has slowed down, but the recent trout plant could improve the action.”
The lake held at 23 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Big largemouth are a definite possibility as Rich Hale followed up his 11.2-pound bass while prefishing with a 10.26-pound kicker as part of the winning weight of 26.13 pounds fishing with his partner Shane Soriano during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournaments event. Thirty-three teams out of 39 boats weighed in limits during this tournament. Trout trolling remains very slow, but the action should improve as the water warms up into the spring months and the fish congregate at a specific water level. There haven’t been many trout plants in the lake over the past few years, but the remaining trout in the lake have grown quite large.
Don Pedro held at 83 percent.
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
At Lake Isabella, Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield reported everything except planted trout has been slow. The Auxiliary Dam has been the top location for the planters on Power Bait or nightcrawlers. The upper Kern River has been the top area for trout with heavy plants near Kernville prior to Whiskey Flats Days, and salmon eggs and nightcrawlers are the top baits for quality rainbows. The lower Kern has been kicking out some largemouth and smallmouth bass, but the cold temperatures this week most likely will slow down this action. Buena Vista is due for a trout plant this week, and the action will improve once the plant occurs. It is similar in the local lakes as Hart Park and Truxtun are scheduled to be planted this week, and the bite will last for a few days before the trout are removed. The River Walk and Ming were planted last week. There was the beginning of a crappie bite at Lake Ming with small minnows, but this week’s freezing temperatures may knock out this bite for a while. Lake Isabella held at 30 percent. The 29th wnnual Kern County Chamber of Commerce Lake Isabella Trout Derby is March 24-26 with trophy trout in net pens at Red’s Marina to be released prior to the derby. Information and registration is available at www.kernrivervalley.com.
Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
Greg Sweeney at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “While the bass bite should begin to pick up, most are having a difficult time. This is one of those lakes that if you know the lake, you can get a limit of fish. When the water is low, there is only a handful of spots the fish go to. Catfish can be caught at night with crawdads, anchovies, chicken livers or sardines. Crappie are showing up around structure with mini jigs etc. Planted trout can be caught on Power Bait or Kastmaster-type lures. Try plastics like Roboworms, Zoom, Yum and KVD finesse, or small-profile jigs like Kei Tech with a Baby Brush Hog trailer. Hopkins spoons worked vertically, as well.” The lake came up slightly to 15 percent.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 2 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “There has been a lot of interest in the lake over the holiday weekend with many anglers on the water. The bass are holding on structure, and anglers are using finesse techniques with a slow retrieve with plastics or jigs as the water has become colder. Trout fishing has been good to excellent for shore fishermen using Power Bait, nightcrawlers or spinners.” The lake rose slightly to 19 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “Trout are being caught on streamers, nymphs and some dry flies.”
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 1 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Numbers of spotted bass at Lake McClure continue to be the rule. Several tournaments will be held at the lake in the coming months, and winning weights at McClure average around 13 pounds.
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits and the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “McClure is ready to bust wide-open with fishermen picking up between 20 and 30 bass composed of mostly smaller spotted bass, but the quality isn’t there. It seems that the spots are getting ready to spawn by moving into the shallows, but most fishermen are still under the impression that the fish are down in the water column.”
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service was also on McClure recently, and he said, “This lake is full of spotted bass with an occasional largemouth or smallmouth bass around, and we located many fish that were biting aggressively on reaction baits, but we couldn’t find any big fish.”
The lake held at 66 percent.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife planted trout last week, and planted rainbows were taken on Power Bait, nightcrawlers or Kastmasters from the Handicapped Docks, Brush Pile and the peninsula near the Marina. Anglers should check the marina for upcoming trout plants. The marina and café are open Fridays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
Steve Newman said, “Bass limits remain in the 10- to 10.5-pound range with the best action on finesse techniques such as plastics on the drop-shot or dart head in baby bass, Christmas Weenie or green Weenie at depths from 20 to 40 feet. The spotted bass are moving up, but the largemouth bass are holding in the rocks eating sculpin. Bluegill fry are found in the shallows, and there are spotted bass keying on the baby bluegill. The bluegill pattern swimbait bite should improve as the water warms and clear up.”
The lake dropped to 66 percent.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service was on the lake with two clients on Sunday, and he reported his clients landed 18 bass to 3 pounds between them. He said, “The fish were scattered from 5 to 35 feet and all levels in between, and the cold front changed everything with the water temperature dropping a couple of degrees. The colder nights will put off the bass from moving up for a few weeks, and this has affected the water temperature. It was not the same bite as four to five days ago, and we relied on finesse techniques of plastics on the drop-shot or dart head. I know that you can catch big bass on a drop-shot with the 15-pounder I landed last month so this has become my go-to technique. We also tossed swimbaits for a while without much success. The action is best in the main lake as the difference between the main lake and the river arm is night and day with the river arm usually being a few weeks behind due to the colder water and shaded water from the high cliffs. There have been some bass cruising the shorelines in the past week, but Sunday’s cold front backed them off.”
Trout fishing remains hit or miss, but the opportunity for a trophy rainbow is there.
The lake dropped slightly to 82 percent.
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 Kokanee 1 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Steve Newman said, “The bass bite is solid with winning limits in the 12- to 13-pound range on jigs, Ned-rigs or Senkos on a wacky-rig. The cold evenings have kept the bass from moving up on the shorelines until later in the day, and the bass are holding along ledges and dropoffs. The water is very clear with visibility at 12 to 15 feet, and anglers are advised to use 6-pound fluorocarbon line on the drop-shot with 8- to 12-pound fluoro while using crankbaits. Trout numbers remain good with Apex lures in Cop Car behind a chrome or gold dodger from the surface to 30 feet in the main lake from Windy Gap to Deer Creek or Trimmer to the dam. Crappie are showing up in the river arm above Trimmer with minijigs in chartreuse/white or pink/white on a 1/16th-ounce jig head. The slabs are moving into the trees or flooded brush as the water levels remain stable.”
The lake held at 52 percent.
In the lower Kings River, Chuck Stokke of Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville caught and released a bright 5-pound rainbow in the catch-and-release section on a fly.
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 king in the Central Valley for striped bass fishermen, and trollers are picking up the pace as the water levels remain relatively high for the world’s largest holding reservoir. Striped bass can be found with a variety of methods including trolling, casting Magnum Flukes or ripbaits, drifting jumbo minnows or pitching pile worms or blood worms from the shorelines.
Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Trollers are finding a better grade of striper running broken-backed Rapalas or swimbaits on the downrigger in a number of areas including the normal locations of the Trash Racks, Portuguese Cove, and the rockwall along the Highway 152 Bridge. The majority of stripers are in the 22- to 25-inch range, and some fishermen are casting ripbaits or topwater lures, as well. We have been selling dozens and dozens of jumbo minnows as the bait drifters are still finding solid action.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the front moving into the Valley on Sunday changed the bite and where the stripers are holding. “We had the first Downrigger 101 class on Saturday morning with a full class of four guys, and we didn’t get out fishing till around 10 a.m. It was evident things had completely changed from a few days before and that the fish were in a prefrontal mode with lots of suspended fish showing up that weren’t biting. We fished in Portuguese Cove later in the day, as well as hitting a few other areas trying out different downrigging techniques. We still ended up releasing 12 fish to 24 inches using Lucky Craft 128s – even though learning, and not necessarily catching fish, was the main goal. The series of cold storms forecast for the next 10 days is going to change everything.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, Lopez reported numbers of striped bass are commonplace, but the size is limited. Ripbaits and topwater lures are working for small striped bass while largemouth bass are becoming more active with plastics on the drop-shot, jigs or small swimbaits. Blood or pile worms are also working near moving water along Check 12.
Steve Newman confirmed the size of the striped bass with 18- to 28- inch being the norm, and he said, “We continue to sell plenty of big 7-inch Zoom Flukes in white ice, and anglers are using a 3/4-ounce jig head for these lures. The bass have been holding in the shallows at night or in the early mornings at depths from 6 to 15 feet.”
Jesus Reyes Silva of How to Fish said, “The stripers are moving to the coves and the flats in shallow water, and casting jerkbaits, topwater lures and flukes around the shorelines are doing great as the troll bite has slowed down. Bank fishing from the coves is also excellent for those soaking anchovies or casting flukes. A few anglers from Merced have been fishing the banks at the Romero Visitor Center early in the morning, and they are catching some real nice quality stripers from 21 to 25 inches. I have been fishing Los Banos Creek Reservoir for largemouth bass the past few weeks, and the bite is getting hot by flipping Hooligan Baits jigs in dark colors in the murky water.”
The third How to Fish Striper tournament is March 24 at the Basalt Recreation Area launch ramp.
“Downrigging 101 for Stripers” taught by Roger George is taking reservations for future class dates. It’s an on-the-water, hands-on class at San Luis covering basics of downrigging, sonar, setups and tactics. Info: rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 905-2954.
The lake dropped to 82 percent as a result of significant water releases down the California Aqueduct.
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com, 905-2954
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 1
Bass Lake is showing signs of improving for both bass and trout, but the low water conditions have been a limiting factor for those launching boats as there is no courtesy dock and the ramp is just barely in the water.
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service said, “My partner Mike Beighey caught and released over 30 trout this week, keeping a couple of limits on Friday. He was trolling from Miller’s to the dam from the surface to 26 feet with Rocky Mountain Tackle’s double-pink glow hoochies tipped with pink/white Mice Tails behind a RMT pink Moonshine dodger along with Tasmanian Devil lures in pink or firetiger behind a RMT Hyperplaid dodger. Red Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler on 3.5 colors of leadcore was also an effective technique. These setups along with a Tiger Prawn RMT hoochie tipped with a garlic-pinched ’crawler kept everyone busy with the rainbows averaging 13 to 15 inches. A few other boats in the area also gathered limits using Rainbow Apex lures behind a Dick’s Mountain flasher. The water temperature is still cold at 48.5 to 50 degrees.”
For bass, Steve Newman reported the fish are in the shallows from 5 to 15 feet with Ned-rigs, 7-inch Senkos, jigs or ripbaits. Standup baits such as Ned or Eco rigs are working along with the People’s worm in cinnamon/blue flake on a shaky head. There have been a few followers after 11 a.m. on swimbaits.
Bass Lake is at 54 percent.
Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748
Brown trout 0 Trout 0
Kaiser Pass Road closed two months ago, and access to the area will be limited to snowmobile. Edison is at 33 percent, Florence remains at 2 percent, and Mammoth Pool is at 17 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee 3 Trout 2
Kokanee fishing remains good. Over the weekend, Tom Oliveira of Tulare along with Kirk Emge from Vacaville caught 40 kokanee, keeping their two limits, while trolling from the Sierra Marina to Black Rock from the surface to 25 feet with Paulina Peak Tackle including minihoochies in Purple Haze, Wickiup Sunrise and Cotton Candy tipped with cured corn behind a hammered dodger. The kokanee were in the 12- to 13.5-inch range. They also helped another fisherman in a Zodiac put together a limit by advising him on the setup and downrigger use. The Sierra Ramp is currently in the water. A webcam of the lake is available at sierramarina.com/camera.html updated every 20 minutes. Trophy trout plants from the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will be released into the lake closer to April. The lake rose slightly to 44 percent with Huntington dropping to 38 percent..
Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937
The Central Sierra trout season is now limited to the lower-elevation lakes of Bass and Shaver as the road to Courtright and Wishon closed on Dec. 1 at Dinkey Creek..
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf perch 3
Just another six weeks before the salmon and rockfish openers out of this harbor, and most party boats are conducting maintenance in preparation for the upcoming seasons.
Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat has been working on his boat, but he is hoping to head out for crab/sand dab or crab-only trips with the desire to run another deep water adventure for petrale sole within the coming month. He said, “It’s pretty much the story around the harbor with boat maintenance occupying most captain’s activities in preparation for the upcoming rockfish and salmon seasons.”
Ed Liu of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito said, “We have continued to pick up redtail perch in the 11- to 13-inch range south of the Golden Gate with Berkley Camo Worms or Grubs. The beaches north of the Gate have been windy and rough. Few stripers are coming off of the beaches, but there have been a few landed by perch fishermen at Ocean Beach and also at Pacifica.”
Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459
Striper 2 Crab 2 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 3
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’ Landing in Monterey had full boats ready to go for crab/rockfish trips on Sunday and Monday over the holiday weekend, but the wind had other idea, and they were forced to cancel early in the weekend. They will be running the sand dab/crab combination trips along with whale watching until the salmon and rockfish openers in April.
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting said, “Surfcasters are doing well on both sides of the bay right now. A few striped bass were reported caught from beaches south of Moss Landing, and at least one striper was hooked from the Pajaro Beach area. These bass are all small so far, most barely making the minimum length of 18-inches. Still, the fight they provide is tremendous especially on light perch fishing gear. The legal fish make delicious dinner, with thick filets of flaky white meat.
Perch fishing is getting interesting as well. Some of the distinct structure built up from our last series of storms is now flattening out again. We really need some weather to re-shape things. An amount of wave action is always best for hunting these fish that feed in the shallows. Often, anglers will locate the target perch right behind the pounding shorebreak as the perch feed on sandcrabs. Speaking of which, though perch grubs or GULP! Camo and Blood Sandworms continue to fool the fish with regularity, live sandcrabs have proven to be a “code-breaker” on a few recent outings. One may receive fewer nibbles when fishing with the sandcrabs, but will hook bigger fish more often.”
The annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Contest on March 10 is limited to the first 300 entries with proceeds from the event going to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Information: theletsgofishingradioshow.com.
Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 1 Striper 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
The big news along the Sonoma coast is the annual Salmon Information Meeting regarding the state of California’s salmon fishery to be held March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, state, federal and tribal agencies, and West Coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore.
The 2018 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon web page. The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.”
The wind was the story over the weekend with heavy breezes on Sunday keeping almost all but the most fool hardy boats off of San Pablo Bay. There were a few sturgeon landed by private boats on Saturday, but the action wasn’t hot and heavy by any means.
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “The wind was horrible on Sunday, but it slowed down to around 10 knots on Monday. There haven’t been too many anglers out, but it seems that the striped bass are becoming scarcer, but they are still in the bay. We will have live mud shrimp in the shop on Thursday, and this always brings out fishermen from throughout northern California.”
Ed Liu of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito said, “It has been windy for the past several days in the bay, but striped bass from the shorelines has been solid with swimbaits, Rapalas, or hair raisers from Albany, Richmond, Pinole, Rodeo, and Hercules on the bay side and near Sausalito and Paradise on the Marin side. There have been a lot of big stripers caught in the Delta on live splittail, and fortunately many of the fish are being released. The stripers in the bay seem to be coming from the ocean since they are bright and shiny, and I think it is a little early for the stripers to be coming in. There are stripers coming into the bay from the Delta as well, but these fish are mottled. A herring spawn has been occurring off of the Richmond Marina on an intermittent basis as the herring are moving in and out of the deep water closer to shore. I think they will come in this weekend with the big tides.”
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports reported solid striped action with live bait closer to town with mudsuckers or splittail. Anchovies are also working, but there have been a number of fly fishermen in the sloughs and flats around the Highway 37. Sturgeon fishing continues solid with lots of sturgeon moving through the system. The sturgeon bite has been soft with the diamondbacks picking up and dropping it.
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
Surf perch 2
The San Luis Obispo harbors will be running whale watching and nature trips until the rockfish opener in April. Patriot Sport Fishing out of Port San Luis is also running crab/sand dab trips from January to March. Surf perch action is decent from the beaches with blood worms, lug worms, Berkley Camo Worms or grubs.
Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100
Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
After some signs of improvement on the striper front last week, there remains a question as to where the striped bass are. Small males continue to come into the Sacramento-Delta, but trollers are struggling to locate a consistent bite. Sturgeon fishing improved over the early weekend on Saturday, but Sunday’s wind made for impossible conditions on the big water. Huge stripers continue to be caught and kept by a few select fishermen on live splittail near the Firing Line, but the bass have not migrated far into the northern sections of the Delta.
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, was on the north Delta earlier in the week, and he found water temperatures in the 58 to 60-degree range. He said, “I put together a limit in the 22/23-pound range flipping Brush Hogs or casting spinnerbaits in the shallows. The coming cold temperatures might push them back out, but they are currently in the shallows. We also landed three striped bass from 18 to 22 inches on swimbaits with one lineside coming on a spinnerbait while I was targeting bass. The water in Liberty is slightly off-color, but it has good visibility.”
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, ventured into Steamboat Slough this past week for slow striped bass action so he motored down to the Old Dairy and inside of Decker for a few legal fish. He said, “There was one boat that found striped bass to 9 pounds in the Old Sacramento above Isleton, but the fish remain scattered throughout the system.”
Tony Lopez at Benicia Bait reported improved shoreline striped bass action with blood worms, pile worms, grass shrimp or anchovies, and the stripers are getting larger and larger. He said, “The Big Cut, Middle Grounds, and Chain Island has been the top locations for sturgeon, but the wind kept all but a few boats off of the water on Sunday. While I was coming across the Benicia Bridge, there was only one boat fighting the wind near the fleet.”
Huge striped bass in the 30- to 40-pound range continue to be caught and kept off of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor near the Firing Line on live splittail. A 7-year old girl landed a 49-pounder on a live splittail during the past week.
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Fishing has the ‘Top Gun’ back in shape, and he put his clients onto three quality slot fish along with a shaker and several missed opportunities on Saturday, but Sunday’s wind made for much poorer conditions without the ability to see any bites with the heavy gusts. He tried to make a go of it in the sloughs, but the wind was too much.
Captain John Badger of the Barbarian III put the 125th legal sturgeon on the boat since the start of the season on Thursday, and 16-year old Anne Marie Schultz of Benicia landed a 59-inch sturgeon. He said, “We caught sturgeon off of Benicia and also in the Big Cut as both tides are working until slack water. Salmon roe is still our bait of choice with cured bait on the heavier water movement on the outgoing tide, and uncured roe on the incoming tide.”
Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures had an epic sturgeon day on Saturday in good weather conditions as he put two clients onto 15 sturgeon releases on their Sturgeon Report Cards. He predicted prior to the weekend, “I expect the action to be great. I have been wanting to fish deep water, and the incoming tide is a good time to set anchor in the deep. There are plenty of sturgeon out there, and the debris, although still a concern, seems to be settling down.”
The next major sturgeon derby is the Addathon Ironman Sturgeon Derby out of Pittsburg Marina on March 3-4 Information addathonderby.com. The Battle of the Charters will take place on two days – March 30 out of Martinez Marina for sturgeon and March 31 out of Korth’s Pirates Lair for striped bass with selected six-pack captains participating in the event.
The water conditions on the San Joaquin River are remaining relatively clear, but Sunday’s winds may cloud up the water. Largemouth bass remain the top species as striped bass remain scarce overall. Crappie are showing signs of life in the south Delta sloughs.
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The wind has made it a bit difficult on the Delta these days, but there remains a good subsurface bite with the ima Flit, and this is keeping up going. The wind keeps you from fishing light line and light weights, but we have been scoring with a black/blue jig on a ½ oz. jig head tipped with a Max Scent Chunk as a trailer. This isn’t my favorite style of bass fishing, but you have to do what is working, and the scent really helps out with this finesse technique. We are expecting a real cold spell this week, but right now the bass are still in the same mode, holding off the main current, but staying in moving water near weeds.”
Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors hosted a tournament out of Big Break Marina on Saturday, and he said, “Reigning 2017 champions, Jamond Andrews and Harvey Pulliam, got a fast start on our first tournament with a winning bag of 17.34 pounds with the first four fish coming early on a point with vibrating jigs before working hard with a variety of techniques. While prefishing, one of our anglers picked up a 41-pound limit with no fish smaller than 6.8 on Tuesday, and although the big ones haven’t gotten active yet, he did well in preparation for the tournament. The best action has been with Senkos or plastics on the drop-shot along with spinnerbaits when the wind is blowing. Small stripers continue to be hooked by trollers.”
Luther Thompson of H and R Bait said, “I know that crappie are coming back on in Whiskey Slough and Eight Mile Road along the first bridge to the end with small to medium minnows. Stripers in the 22- to 23-inch range are found with shad or anchovies in the normal location, but the striped bass action has been slow overall.” They will be obtaining some live mudsuckers this weekend.
Bryce Tedford of Bryce Tedford’s Fly Fishing Guide Service said, “Delta striper fishing is starting to pick up and the prime time for spring fishing will be between March and May. The water temperatures are currently at 53 degrees, and the striper bite should continue to get better. The key to finding more fish has been moving around to various areas in the Delta and finding fish willing to bite. We have been finding some stripers to 6 pounds, and the bite should improve as spring arrives.”
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
Central Coast lakes
Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 3
At Nacimiento, quality spotted bass to 3 pounds have been taken on plastics on the drop-shot, shaky head, or Texas-rig along jigs or small spoons. Anglers are finding up to 20-fish days with the finesse techniques. White bass are finally waking up, and they are starting to school at the mouth of the coves at depths to 50 feet. The coming near-freezing temperatures will mostly likely drive them down further. The lake is at 41 percent. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com. At San Antonio, largemouth and smallmouth bass are starting to get active with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs on a finesse technique. Striped bass action continues to be slow with the occasional crappie taken on minijigs. The South Shore Marina remains on the winter schedule starting Friday at 6 a.m. through Sunday at 6 p.m. The lake held at 31 percent. At Lopez, largemouth bass can be found on ice jigs or spoons in deeper water at to 40 feet, and plastics on the drop-shot or jigs are also effective. Bluegill or red ear perch can be found with various baits including mealworms, red worms or small nightcrawlers. Crappie can be located around structure in the mornings and evenings with minijigs or tubes, and the planted trout are taken on Power Bait or nightcrawlers. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam. At Santa Margarita, crappie fishing is best near the Marina with crappie jigs, tube baits or nightcrawlers for slabs to 2 pounds. The reaction bite is starting to form for largemouth bass, but the bass are on the small side. Catfish can be taken on cutbaits near the marina while bluegill and red ear perch action has slowed down.
Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass Fishing.com 805-466-6557
McClure/Christian Bass League Feb. 17: 1, Jacob Brannon/AJ Moitoso, 16.02 pounds (big fish 8.76); 2, Jonathan Whiteset/Dale Lanza, 12.28; 3, Davis Permenter/Jamie Caratachera, 11.82.
Delta/Big Break Marina Feb. 17: 1, Harvey Pulliam/Jamond Andrews, 17.34; 2, Jeff and Garret Bradshaw, 14.95 (big fish 6.05); 3, Robert C. and Robert T. Hanson, 14.41.
Don Pedro/Best Bass Tournaments Feb. 17: 1, Rich Hale/Shane Soriano, 26.13 (big fish 10.85); 2, Kevin Nunes/Christian Ostrander, 21.68; 3, Scott Taylor/Jeff Eddings, 19.89.
Pine Flat/Sierra Bass Club Feb. 17: 1, Chris Flamming, 10.66; 2, Jamal Lane, 9.57; 3, Ed Armbrister, 8.90; big fish Chris Jones, 3.41.
Pine Flat/Bass 101 Feb. 18: 1, Larry Vang, 14.58; 2, Jeff D’Alessandro, 13.01; 3, Mitchel Moles, 12.22; big fish Dusty Mart, 5.57.
Feb. 24: Delta/Russo’s Marina – New Jen Bass Tournament; Delta/Tracy Oasis – Tracy Oasis; New Melones – Contra Costa Bass Club; Don Pedro – River Rats/Gilroy Bass Club; Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club/Cen Cal Bass Elite Tournaments; Lopez – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers
Feb. 25: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation; McClure – Kings River Bass Club; Pine Flat – American Bass Association; Kaweah – Success Bass Club
March 10: Pine Flat – Bass 101 Boaters Club; Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby in Santa Cruz limited to first 300 entrants, theletsgofishingradioshow.com
March 24-26: 29th annual Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby, www.kernrivervalley.com
Week of Feb. 25
by state Department of Fish and Wildlife
Fresno County: Kings River below Friant Dam, Woodward Park Lake