As mentioned last week, New Melones has developed a reputation for big spotted and largemouth bass in the winter months, and as if on cue, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service put meaning to these words with a 15.19 largemouth bass landed on a shad-patterned drop-shot on 4-lb. test. Liechty said, “The big female came on a small shad-patterned fluke at 20 feet in depth, and she was spitting up small shad, crappie, and a larger shad in the 5-inch range. It is this time of year for big fish, and I have been picking up a number of larger fish on baits other than swimbaits so it has changed my approach. I have been using the light line since I get a a few more bites, but the largest bass I have landed so far this year on the light line was a 6-pound spot. Although this was a massive largemouth, my personal-best at 17.4-lbs. was also caught and released at New Melones.”
Also adding to the amazing week at New Melones, Joann Dunn of Linden smashed the 40-day old lake record for rainbow trout with a massive 9-lb., 10-oz, rainbow landed in Carson Cove on rolled shad at 37 feet deep. The previous record was 8-lb.,4-oz. set just last month by Ken Hopper of Sonora.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing is back to the Mother Lode lakes from a few weeks of river salmon fishing out of metropolitan Sacramento, and he is ready to get back to hooking the huge rainbow trout that he was on during August and September.
Trout plants continue at Lake Camanche with ‘a small plant’ in the words of Lake Camanche Recreation Company’s Kimball LeMaux with 1800 pounds split between the North Shore Marina, South Shore Marina, and the South Shore Pond. He said, “There will be a large plant this week in anticipation of the Thanksgiving Holiday.”
The Informative Fishermen’s ‘IFMAS event gets larger and larger each year, and the South Shore parking lot was nearly filled early on Saturday morning as over 100 boats launched to participate in the free tournament. The event drew over 300 participants for the tournament for bass, trout, or catfish along with the casting contest, dinner, and seminars from local professionals. Over $5000 worth of prizes were distributed from various sponsors to participants. LeMaux said, "From everything that we have heard, it was a great event and brought a number of people to the lake. Bass fishing is picking up interest here, and we have had a number of boats launching on the weekends with regular club tournaments."
Numbers of largemouth and spotted bass are found on jigs or plastics on the drop-shot, but the larger grade is found with reaction baits with a brief window for topwater lures before hitting the mid-level with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, or chatterbaits.
The South Shore Pond has produced quality rainbows for bank fishermen soaking trout dough baits or nightcrawlers, and fishermen regularly use two rods with one holding bait and casting lures such as Kastmasters on the other. Trollers are focusing around the Narrows or the deep water near the dam for holdover and recently planted rainbows with shad-patterned grubs or spoons such as Speedy Shiners. The trout action will continue to improve as the water cools, bringing the rainbows to the surface.
Lakes McClure and Don Pedro:
The Mother Lode lakes of Don Pedro and McClure have been unkind to bass fishermen for the past several weeks, but there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel as the water temperatures are starting to drop.
Mike Gomez of Berserk Baits said, “McClure is getting a little beter, and there was a 14-pound limit during Wednesday’s Turkey Shoot from the Breadmen, and jigs did the trick at depths to 35 feet. The Berserk Purple Hornet or brown/purple were the hot colors. The bass have moved up a little bit higher in the water column, and I will be targeting the larger fish with Alabama rigs over the next few weeks. There are a few active fish around 10 to 15 feet, and this will only get better and better in the coming weeks.”
At Don Pedro, Gomez said, “This lake is starting to take off as there have been limits in the 15- to 18-pound range for a huge improvement. Jigs and plastics on the drop-shot remain the staple. There are a number of big fish in Pedro, but most anglers are tournament fishermen who are looking for a limit. You have to be willing to throw the big baits all day long for the opportunity for a trophy. The big fish season is coming up within the next few weeks, and I will be targeting the larger fish with Huddleston swimbaits.”
The Huddleston swimbait in yellow trout with a 12-foot rate of fall is traditionally a go-to lure when the big fish are willing to bite in the winter months.
For rainbow trout and king salmon, the action will improve as the water temperatures continue to drop, bringing around the turnover. Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing will once again return to the lake during the month of December in search of big rainbow trout.
Both reservoirs rose slightly with Don Pedro at 79 percent and McClure at 65 percent
The Lake Amador Company planted another 250 pounds of rainbows from their hatchery this week, and there will be more plants on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of the coming week, The water level is stable at 25 feet from full, and with the clear water conditions, Jackson Creek has been the hot spot at depths from 3 to 15 feet. Bait continues to work better than lures which is normal for this time of year. The Tackle Box Café is now open for the season with more trout plants from Mt. Lassen Hatchery to arrive within the near future.
2000 pounds of rainbow trout from the Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling was released on November 9th, and trout action has been good with the lake lowered for dam maintenance. The normal locations of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and peninsula near the marina are the top locations with trout dough bait, Power Eggs, or inflated nightcrawlers. Kastmasters are also effective in gold or silver. The lake will be at normal elevation by Thanksgiving.
San Luis Reservoir continues to pump out numbers of striped bass, and the hot action over the past few weeks continues as the water temperatures are cooling and the lake levels are falling.
Jesus Reyes Silva of JKings Lures and Hollister was out on Saturday with John James Sanchez along Steve Stahope, and he said, “We launched at Dinosaur Point at 7:00 a.m., and we started trolling straight ahead towards Highway 152, and within 5 minutes, we saw stripers splashing on the surface. Investigating further, when we got to this spot, there were striper boils all over the place. For the next hour, we caught and released stripers from 22 to 28 inches on topwater lures including Lucky Crafts, River2Sea, and my lures. When the fish moved into deeper water, we started trolling again in the back of Portuguese Cove with JKings Lures in shad-patterns at depths from 20 to 35 feet. The fish were very aggressive in striking the lures, and Steve Stahope caught and released his personal best at 30 inches.”
Travis Porter of Hollister found similar action on Saturday, saying, “K.C.Wilson and I were out from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and we found a decent bite, catching and releasing 14 legal linesides to 24.5 inches trolling JKings Lures and 5-inch swimbaits at depths to 40 feet around Highway 152 and in Portuguese Cove. I also saw a group soaking anchovies in Portuguese Cove for stripers to 27 inches. The fish are still scattered out, but the bigger ones are starting to come around. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service was out with three clients, and they also landed fish to 23 inches.”
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “San Luis has been outstanding for some time, and several anglers are chasing boils in the coves to the left of Dinosaur Point and in Portuguese Cove. Jumbo minnows have also been good in the main lake, and trollers are working the humps by the Trash Racks with Lucky Craft 128’s, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, or large Rat-L-Traps. The smaller schoolies are getting larger and larger, and fish in the 22-inch range are the norm.”
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The striped bass are pushing the bait into the coves around Dinosaur Point, Portuguese Cove, and the Romero Visitor Center are the top areas in the early mornings or evenings for topwater action with River2Sea Whopper Ploppers or shad-patterned stickbaits. The umbrella rig bite is also good, and the shallows are holding big fish in the mornings and evenings.
In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements said, “It is more of a lure bite right now with ripbaits, umbrella rigs, and topwater lures as the fishermen are chasing boils. Bank anglers are focusing around areas with moving water such as Check 12 or the 33 Bridge with pile worms, blood worms, or chicken livers.” San Luis held at 70 percent.
Millerton and Pine Flat Reservoirs
Millerton Reservoir remains the top reservoir for numbers, and most Central Valley bass fishermen are targeting this location, but Pine Flat is starting to pick up the pace with more tournaments available.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Millerton is starting to fish well as we picking up a good mix of fish on a recent trip with the fish holding at depths around 20 to 30 feet with plastics on the dart head or drop-shot Ned rigs, or wacky-rigged Senkos. The Alabama-rig bite has yet to emerge in shallower water, but I did pick up quality largemouth bass to 2 pounds around large boulders with a squarebilled crankbait. The bait fish are holding around the large boulders and in creek channels, and the bass are spitting up bright rusty-red crawdads or shad. Their mouths are red like they are digging around for crawdads. Sandy flats or smaller boulders are not holding the bass right now. There have been far more largemouth bass in both Millerton and Pine Flat this year, most likely due to the high water and warmer water temperatures.”
At Pine Flat, Newman said, “You have to run and gun for them right now just like at Millerton as the fish aren’t stacked up, but crankbaits, plastics on the drop-shot, or Alabama rigs in deep water from 30 to 50 feet are working for spot along with more largemouths. There is a good spoon bite with ice jigs at depths to 30 feet, The majority of fish are small, but there is the occasional 2 to 5 pounder landed. Ned rigs are also working. The crappie bite has not been as wide open as in the past few weeks, but the slabs are starting to settle down into more predictable locations around structure. Anglers are using 1/16th or 1/32nd jigs on a slow presentation as the water is getting colder. The trout bite has been slow with the best action in the lower Kings with salmon eggs, Kastmasters, or trout dough bait.”
Both lakes rose slightly this week with Pine Flat at 46 percent and Millerton at 62 percent.
The arrival of cold and wet weather has slowed down interest in the Central Sierra reservoirs for rainbow trout, but Courtright remains the best option with trout dough bait or inflated nightcrawlers. The lack of snow has kept the high country lakes open, but the roads to Courtright, Wishon, and Edison will close once the snow arrives.
Shaver Lake trout fishing is fair at best, but Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters will be back on a part-time basis for the 2018 season.
Nichols has established quite a clientele at Shaver over the past several year, and he contemplated and announced his retirement from guiding earlier this fall. However, due to interest from his client base, Nichols will be back on the lake on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays starting in April 2018. He said, “After fishing over 200 days a year for the past several years, it was time to move on to other interests, but it is difficult to let go completely so I will be back on a part-time basis to do what I love to do. I will be taking on more youth projects through the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project including the annual Shaver Lake Youth Fishing Derby, the Boy Scouts Fishing merit badge program at Camp Chawanakee, and the new Captain Jack Yandell Scholarship program. Yandell is the co-founder of the SLTTP, and we will be awarding a scholarship for college for a deserving high school senior. The annual Sportsman’s Dinner provides the majority of the funds for our projects including the trophy trout plants in the spring, and the coming year’s dinner will be on August 11. The dinner will also be a tribute to Captain Jack.
The SLTTP is soliciting donations for the programs, and donations can be send to P.O. Box 998, Shaver Lake, CA, 93664. A letter of thanks and tax deductible information will be returned to each donor.
USAFishing supports the many fishery and wildlife organizations that benefit anglers and hunters throughout Northern California. Does your organization have an upcoming event? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly post your group's information on our reports pages.