New Melones was the host for the inaugural BABC big swimbait on October 28, and the big sticks arrived to find an overall tough bite on the big lures. A smaller grade of spotted and largemouth bass is there for the taking on finesse techniques such as drop-shotting, but with the warm weather conditions, the giants are far more reluctant to hit the big baits.
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing Guide Service partnered with Josh Parris of San Andreas, and Liechty said, “We have been scouting the previous weeks in anticipation for this tournament, and I literally went a day and a half of throwing the big baits for 8 hours without hooking a fish. We were getting a few blow ups, but nothing stuck. We left a few areas alone for over a week, and I figured the bite was going to be tough during the tournament. We had a good game plan, and we figured that if one big fish might make a mistake, it would be early in the morning. We went to an area where we saw some larger fish earlier with largemouths around 7 pounds and spotted bass in the 3- to 4-pound range, and Josh’s first cast of the morning with the River2Sea Swaver 200 produced the huge largemouth at nearly 12 pounds. I was shaking when the fish came to the boat since I thought it might be around 7 pounds. We did put in a lot of time scouting, and our efforts paid off since there were only 5 teams weighing in bass with the second place team bringing in three for a total of 7 pounds. One cast and one fish for first place – it doesn’t get much better than this.”
For numbers, drop-shotting shad or bluegill patterns are productive with Liechty stating, “After 4 hours of throwing the big swimbaits without results, I finally got tired of catching nothing so I switched over to drop-shotting and hooked a fish within 4 minutes.”
For rainbow trout, the big rainbows are still out there, but Gary Burns of ‘Take It To the Limit’ Guide Service said, “With the water cooling off, the trout bite has slowed a bit as the rainbows are moving up. We are still fishing from Carson Cove to Coyote Cove with ExCel’s, Needlefish, or Krocodiles at deptsh from 40 to 50 feet.”
Crappie are also showing up with Sep’s grubs near structure, and Glory Hole Sports annual month-long Catfish Derby started on November 1. The lake held at 84 percent.
For the past few years running, Lake Camanche Recreation Company has been hosting ‘IFMAS’ by the Informative Fisherman, Nick Smith of Stockton. This year’s event is on Saturday, November 18 with a check in starting at 7:00 a.m. at the South Shore launch ramp, and the free derby starting at 7:30 a.m. with the weigh ins at 2:30 p.m. There are separate prizes for the best of fish in the species of bass, trout, and panfish, and all bass must be kept alive with the winners in each category receiving a prize package from Smith’s various sponsors. There will be a separate kayak bass derby hosted by Yak-A-Bass.
An ‘Ask the Pro’s group seminar, party, and taco dinner for $13.00 will begin at 4:00 p.m. in the hall adjacent to the South Shore launch ramp, and it is followed by a casting contest starting at 4:30 and concluding by 7:00 p.m. Vendors including Biwaa, LTB, Delta Rat clothing, Yellow Bird, P-Line, Evolution Baits, Cal Coast Fishing, and Boat Country from Escalon will have displays at the event. For the weekend, Lake Camanche Recreation Company is offering two nights for the price of one and a day use discount for those participating in IFMAS.
Lakes Amador and Camanche trout plants
Trout plants have started in the Mother Lode reservoirs, and Lake Camanche is leading the pack with 4800 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows arriving on October 27 while Lake Amador released 800 pounds of rainbows from their hatchery, also on Friday with Mt. Lassen fish coming within the next few weeks. Lake Pardee has completed planting for the season, and the lake will close on November 5 until February 2018.
At Camanche, the 4800 pounds were split between the South Shore Pond, the South Shore launch ramp, and the North Shore launch ramp.
After the initial experimental plant of 500 pounds last week, Lake Amador released another 800 pounds of their own rainbow trout from their hatchery. All of the trout to be released from their hatchery this year will be rainbow trout with the Donaldson trout that the lake is known for to be released the following year. It takes longer for the larger Donaldson trout to develop to the 4- to 12-pound size prior to release. The entrance road to Lake Amador has been recently repaved, making for a smooth drive up the dam.
The trout fishery at Lakes Camanche and Pardee will be enhanced this coming season as Robbie Dunham, aka ‘The Koke Machine,’ will be guiding on both lakes for the first time. Dunham has found tremendous success for both rainbow trout at Camanche and kokanee and trout at Pardee with innovative techniques. He has consistently produced limits of rainbows for his friends running heavy spoons at a fast-pace near the dam at Camanche, and he also will troll various colors of grubs early in the season near the surface. Dunham said, “This will be a new venture for me, and I am most interested in teaching others my techniques as opposed to just catching fish. Of course, catching fish is important, and we have found a great deal of success over the past years, but I want others to learn productive techniques.”
There are still holdover rainbows to be found at Camanche near the dam and the main river channel, and the recent plants will only enhance the action as the fish start to scatter out from the release spot.
Pardee remains high at 93 percent with Camanche dropping to 71. Lake Amador is 24 feet from full.
Not much change at the lake with continued slow bass fishing with the best action on plastics on the drop-shot at depths from 35 to 85 feet. Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits reported an occasional reaction fish is taken, but the bass are reluctant to hit artificials with the dropping water and abundant shad schools. Trout fishing should improve once the lake turns over, but there are few trout anglers at the present time. The lake dropped to79 percent this week.
Bass fishing continues to be very slow with dropping water levels and abundant shad contributing to the bass moving out into deeper water. Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits reported drop-shotting plastics at depths from 35 to over 80 feet are the best technique for the wary bass with few fish taken on reaction baits. The bite is expected to improve considerably once the water temperature stabilizes. The lake dropped to 65 percent.
San Luis Reservoir
Striped bass fishing remains outstanding at San Luis Reservoir with a tremendous number of legal stripers in the 18- to 24-inch range possible for those trolling plugs or umbrella rigs, casting topwater and ripbaits, or soaking bait from the shorelines. San Luis has become a popular destination for various anglers from the Fresno and San Jose areas, leading to concerns for overfishing for striped bass as the species will not be planted into the Delta again. Fish species in San Luis and the O’Neill Forebay arrive via the powerful pumps in the south Delta, and both reservoirs are holding locations for agricultural and domestic uses in the south valley and southern California. Striped bass will no longer be planted into the Delta due to concern for their effect on native species.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service in Fresno said, “The water temps are in the mid-60s, and there are tons of small fish in the mix right now. I’m having anglers tell me about social media posts showing boatloads of guys taking their full limits of the biggest fish they catch, doing so day after day right now. San Luis has gone through other times of over fishing in the past and it seems a lot of anglers haven’t learned from past collapses – it can happen again. There are no more plants to bolster the striper fishery anymore.”
Jesus Reyes Silva of JKings Lures and How to Fish said, “It was a great weekend during our second HowToFish Derby out of Dinosaur Point, and we starting having a blast from Friday night at the campground. There were anglers from all over including Hollister, San Jose, Gilroy, Modesto, Newman, and Fresno. The target-length was 24 inches, and by the 3:00 p.m. weigh in, everyone was finding some success on different techniques from casting, trolling, drifting live minnows, jerkbaits, topwater lures, and umbrella rigs. Lindsay Sedillo of San Jose took first place at 24 inches with Ty Phuon of Gilroy in second at 23 5/8th and Felipe Espino of Gilroy in 3rd at 23 3/8th inches.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Schoolie stripers have been the rule, and we are selling plenty of Speed Lures, Duo Realis jerkbaits, and Lucky Craft Pointers for those throwing lures while Live Target ripbaits have also been popular. Most of our anglers are heading to the big lake or the forebay, but a few more anglers are starting to work the California Aqueduct as well.”
Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported solid action in the main lake for trollers pulling P-Line Predator Minnows or Lucky Craft Pointer 120’s near the Trash Racks and the mouth of Portuguese Cove while there are those casting topwater lures in the early mornings and evenings in the coves of the main lake and also in the forebay. Rat-L-Traps are also effective in the forebay with shore fishermen at Check 12 soaking pile worms or jumbo minnows. Sales of jumbo minnows remain high.
San Luis dropped to 74 percent.