After 11 years as serving as concessionaire at Pardee Lake and providing excellent service to northern California anglers, the Pardee Lake Recreation Company Inc. ended their tenure at the lake with the seasonal closing on November 5. Their contract with the East Bay Municipal Utilities District was replaced by the Rocky Mountain Company out of southern California which has taken over the contract in a competitive bidding process. The southern California company manages other northern California lakes including Rancho Seco in Sacramento County. The lake will reopen on President’s Day weekend in February 2018, and the traditional opener is an excellent time for shore fishermen working the area around the marina.
During the tenure of the Lake Pardee Recreation Company, the Cooper family oversaw the development of the lake into on of northern California’s most consistent kokanee fisheries along with the development of a state-of-the-art Recreational Vehicle Park requiring the season-long closure of the lake in 2016. The Lake Pardee Recreation Company left the lake loaded with rainbow trout for the upcoming season with over 65,000 pounds of trout from a joint venture with the Mokelumne River Hatchery along with additional late season plants from the Calaveras Trout Farm.
Robbie Dunham of Team Koke Machine Guide Service was on the lake during the final Friday, and he caught and released 17 rainbows running Speedy Shiners coated with scent up the river arm. Dunham will be guiding for kokanee and rainbow trout on the lake upon it’s reopening.
The Lake Pardee Recreation Company closed by saying, “We have loved our time here as the concessionaire. Our customers have been like our family and the memories and friendships we have made over the years are very special to us. Thank you to everyone for your patronage and friendship!”
Lake Camanche bass
Lake Camanche has been building a reputation for one of northern California’s top bass lakes, and although the action has been tough for most, there have been some huge spotted and largemouth bass landed within the past weeks. Last year was one of the most productive at the lake, and with the high water and abundant shad schools, the 2017/18 season should be one for the memory books.
Matt Allen of BassinGuide.com focused on big fish on a recent trip, and he ended up with a 34.51-pound limit including a big fish at 10 pounds throwing big baits. Matt Frazier of Modesto, the ‘Undercover Sportsman’ reported a tough bite, but he was able to load up with some quality spotted bass including a double at a combined 8.5 pounds taken during a Jr. Bass Club Derby. He said, “It’s that time again boys and girls, get your G-Rigs out.”
Frazier will be featured during the next week’s IFMAS event by the Informative Fisherman starting at 7 :00 a.m. on November 18, and he will be presenting during the ‘Ask A Pro’s group seminar after the completion of the derby starting at 4:30 p.m. in the hall adjacent to the South Shore launch ramp. IFMAS and the Informative Fisherman have developed a large northern California following, and for this weekend, the Lake Camanche Recreation Company is offering two nights for the price of one and a day use discount for those participating in IFMAS.
Lake Camanche rainbow trout
The trout plants have started at Lake Camanche, and in addition to the 4800 pounds released on October 27, another 3600 pounds was released into the lake on November 2, split evenly between the North Shore marina, the South Shore marina, and the South Pond. Another 2400 pounds is expected this week for a total of 10,600 pounds with two week.
Robbie Dunham, aka ‘The Koke Machine,’ who will be guiding at Lake Camanche during the coming season was out on the lake scouting with his wife, Kim, on Friday, and he said, “We wanted to try Camanche after a couple of plants to see how it is, and we launched right at daybreak and dropped four grubs right outside of the North Shore Marina. We worked this area for awhile for nothing before moving over to the mouth of the Narrows, and we finally had a solid grab on the planer board. However, it was a crappie that was released. We turned back towards the marina, and the inside rod got hit so I fed him some line and the rod loaded up with a nice rainbow. After releasing a bass, we went back into the Narrows towards China Gulch, and I noticed the inside rod was acting weird so I once again fed it some line and the rod loaded up. Kim was on this fish while I landed another 1.5 pounder, and after clearing out lines, she brought the huge 26.5-inch/6-pound rainbow to the net. After this, we headed in happy with our four rainbows.”
Dunham has consistently produced limits of rainbows for his friends, and he said, “Guiding will be a new venture for me, and I am most interested in teaching others my techniques as opposed to just catching fish.” Camanche held at 71 percent.
Bass fishing remains slow as the fish are still deep. As the water begins to cool and the shad continues to ball up, the spots, largemouths, and smallmouth will congregate around the shad schools in deep water. The best action remains on plastics on the drop-shot at depths from 35 to 85 feet. Trout fishing should improve once the lake turns over, but there are few trout anglers at the present time. The lake held at 79 percent this week.
Trout plants continue as the water is cooling and 400 pounds were released in the launch cove on November 3 with more planted every day this week. The season total is 2000 pounds and counting in the small reservoir. These are rainbow trout developed in the Lake Amador Hatchery, and all plants from their hatchery will be rainbows this year with the Donaldson trout to be of size next fall. The lake is 24 feet from full, and the entrance road has been repaved. The Tackle Box Café is now open for the season with more trout plants from Mt. Lassen Hatchery to arrive within the near future.
Bass fishing continues to be very slow with dropping water levels and abundant shad contributing to the bass moving out into deeper water. Drop-shotting 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 held at 65 percent.
Bass fishing remains good with plastics on the drop-shot for small spotted bass, and the chance at a huge fish with topwater lures remains. The big rainbow trout are moving up into the water column, and spoons such as Needlefish, ExCels, or Speedy Shiners are working at depths to 40 feet for trout to 4 pounds. The annual Glory Hole Catfish Derby started on November 1. The lake held at 84 percent.
San Luis Reservoir
Striped bass action at San Luis Reservoir remains red hot with a variety of techniques. However, some regular fishermen are expressing concerns about the impact on the fishery at the big lake due to the increased interest from fishermen from the Central Valley and the Bay Area.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the bite has been good for smaller school fish, but the bigger grade is on a slower bite. He said, “I fished last Thursday with David and Thelma Drinnon of Fresno and we released 34 fish trolling shad colored plugs. Lots of the fish were in the 10- to 15-inch range but we had six nice fish in the 20-23 inch range too. The next day, I fished with Robert Lewis and Bill Braun, both of Fresno, and we had a 30-release day. I’m having experienced anglers who are doing well and others who are struggling. Unfortunately, I’m seeing guys online who are proclaiming that they are practicing ‘catch and release’ since they let 20 fish go – but who also took home their limit of two. That’s not catch and release; that’s taking your legal limit. We need more anglers that want to protect the fishery – it’s a fragile balance – rather than fish it till it fails again! Some groups are fishing it day after day right now and taking home fish every trip.”
Chris Chan at Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Many of the fishermen are chasing boils in the mornings with ripbaits or Zara Spooks, and the top two areas have been the back of Portuguese Cove and the islands by the Trash Racks. We are selling loads of jumbo minnows, and trollers are also running umbrella rigs or broken backed lures such as P-Line’s Predator Minnows. It does seem that most fishermen want to chase the boils right now.”
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis confirmed the numbers of small fish, and he said, “We have 35 pegs open for Lucky Craft 128’s in the store as we have not been able to get in the popular lures. Fishermen are purchasing Duo Realis 120 jerkbaits and Super Flukes in white like crazy. We could sell all of the Lucky Crafts we could get our hands on since anglers really want to throw lures now.”
San Luis dropped to 72 percent.
Despite high launch rates and few tournaments scheduled on the lake within the next few months, Millerton remains the top lake for numbers of spotted bass with an increasing number of largemouth bass in the Central Valley. Pine Flat is sporadic, and although Eastman produces a larger grade of largemouth bass than other local lakes, anglers went on shutdown mode prior to Saturday’s River Rats tournament with the potential for a $3000 payday.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Millerton is kicking out a lot of small fish with a number of techniques, and shad-patterned plastics on the drop-shot or dart head is the top option, but jigs or underspins are also working at depths to 50 feet. Most fishermen were working from 40 to 50 feet, but there are a good quality of bass that can be found at 15 to 20 feet. One of our customers had a 20-fish day with a big spot at 2.75 pounds while another was drop-shotting in the main lake to ¼ mile past Finegold for a number of smaller fish, but he did land a few largemouth bass to 1.75 pounds. The lake is dropping, and the 2nd ramp is around halfway exposed.”
Pine Flat remains sporadic for bass, but there has been a crappie bite emerge with minijigs or live minnows around Deer Creek and up the river arm. Gilbert said, “Fishermen have been picking up between 15 and 20 small crappie in the past two or three days.”
Millerton dropped to 60 percent at Pine Flat to 46 percent at the rate of release has slowed in the past week.
After a few weeks of slow action, Shaver Lake has moved back into a solid option for Central Sierra fishermen until the winter storms line the shorelines with snow and ice.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “I expect that it will slow on the three-year old kokanee as they are crazy now and probably striking anything, but for the trout, normally they move towards Stevenson Cove at this time of year. Craig Davidson of Selma, Camp Host at Edison, has been picking up holdovers and an occasional trophy trout near Stevenson, but with the pumps shut down right now, the trout are starting to move out into the main lake. I am receiving mixed reports as boaters are scoring from 0 to 5 fish, but Davidson has been picking up multiple limits of rainbows along with 2nd and 3rd year kokanee fishing outside of the Shaver Marina Cove at Edison with Captain Jack’s orange Super Hoochie. He landed several 3rd year kokanee at depths from 25 to30 feet, and several of the kokanee were still bright, and they were released. The 3rd year kokanee are in full spawn mode with red bodies and hooked jaws. After working over the kokanee, Davidson moved over to the island and Stevenson Bay for several rainbows with one at 16 inches and another at 23 inches. According to Davidson, fellow camp host, Wally McElhinny and his wife from Visalia picked up 10 spawning kokanee at two to three colors of leadcore near the Shaver Marina. However, on his next trip, Davidson came back to reality with only one 2nd year kokanee. At this time of year, fishing here is a roller-coaster ride with good days and bad days. I do think Stevenson Bay is your best bet since many of our Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project rainbows were planted at the tunnel this spring.” Shaver Lake has dropped to 66 percent.
The Wishon Village RV Park and Store is now closed for the season, and anglers will have to be prepared with their own supplies. A light snow fell in the area over the weekend, but both lakes remain open. Courtright is the best option for both shore and boaters with trollers pulling Rapalas or blade/’crawler combinations at 3 to 5 colors while shore fishermen are working the cove to the left of the Trapper Springs Campground with trout dough bait or inflated nightcrawlers. Wishon improved for trollers this week with quality rainbows taken at depths from 30 to 40 feet with blade/’crawler combinations or Rapalas in front of the lake ramp or along the far side of the lake. Shore fishing is best at the mouth of the river with Power Worms or trout dough bait in pink or red.
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