the combination of very clear water conditions, coupled with 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 for bass 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 darthead or shakey head along with jigs. The bass are eating crawdads in deep water, and have moved off of the shorelines into deep water.
“There are shad schools at depths from 80 to 200 feet, but on occasion, you can find shad on the surface in open water,” he said. “There isn’t much bait from 40 feet to the surface right now. My best action has been from 40 to 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 the fish are built like footballs according to Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing. He has been targeting rainbows at Don Pedro due to 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 keep 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, but water releases have begun.