Huge rainbow trout are still a possibility, but anglers will have to work long and hard for the chance at a quality ‘bow. The Glory Hole Sports Catfish Derby came to an end on November 30, and some big whiskerfish hit the scales during the month-long derby throughout November. Bass fishing is best with finesse presentations as the temperatures continue to drop.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “I took out clients on Wednesday of the past week, and we tried lead core near the Spillway for no action as they wouldn’t hit the shad-patterned spoons on lead core so we switched over to running the spoons on downriggers at depths from 25 to 55 feet for nothing as well. I slowed it down by rolling shad, and we only received two bites all day, but these bites produced quality rainbows at 3.5 and 4.5 pounds. The action has slowed down as it is much slower than it was when I was last on the lake in September, and the bite wasn’t red hot at that time either although we landed a number of quality rainbows. With the action slow overall at New Melones, I opted for Don Pedro for far better results on my next trip.”
The Glory Hole Sports Catfish contest came to a close on November 30th, and Elmo Baur took first place at 21.56 pounds for two fish with his largest whiskerfish topping the scales at 13.17 pounds. Jeremy Clinkenbeard was second with 20.68 pounds for his best two and Gary Gallamore came in third out of 45 anglers with 14.52 pounds for two fish. Big Rock Sports and Hendrix Outdoors were sponsors for the raffle prizes for the event.
For bass, the reaction bite is slow overall, but John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service proved you don’t need a reaction bait to land a truly large fish with his 15.19-pound largemouth on a drop-shot a few weeks back. The best action is found with finesse techniques of jigs or plastics on the drop-shot in crawdad patterns at depths to 40 feet. Once the water cools more, the swimbait bite will improve. The lake held at 83 percent, but major water releases down the Stanislaus River are scheduled within the coming weeks.
Trout plants from the Mt. Lassen Hatchery are paying dividends for trollers at Lake Camanche as another 1800 pounds was split between the North Shore, South Shore, and the South Shore Pond on Friday, December 1. Another 1800 pounds will be arriving this week. Bass fishing has also improved with big fish nearly 9 pounds taken on ripbaits while the bulk of the action is found at depths to 35 feet with plastics on the drop-shot.
Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service will start operating his guide service in early 2018, and he continues to take exploratory trips for rainbow trout. On Friday, December 1, Dunham went out on a trolling venture with his wife, Kim, and of course, she landed the big fish of the day at 4 pounds. Dunham said, “The grub bite is still on, and we landed two limits to 4 pounds while losing another five. There were a number of boats in the Narrows so the surface bite was tough at times. We are running the 3-inch white grubs at depths to 10 feet with a 1/8 or 1/4 -ounce trolling sinker on a long set back at a trolling speed between 1.4 and 1.6 mph on the GPS.”
Mike and Kristy Carpentier found their best action in the main lake with a pair of rainbows to 16 inches trolling Speedy Shiners in firetiger or a Kastmaster within the top ten feet from the surface. Kristy said, “The fish were scattered so it was hit or miss on where to find them as the bite was non-existent at the Narrows with Speedy Shiners on top. We did see some big marks in the 40 to 60-foot range, but they didn’t want to play with us.”
Beau Coutroul of the Camanche Recreation Company said, “The lake has turned over, and the bass bite has been best at depths from 30 to 35 feet with 6-inch purple worm on 6-lb. test on the drop-shot. The trout bite from the shoreline has been best on the day of the plant and the day following, but overall the South Pond has been slow. Trollers are scoring with white grubs at 10 to 15 feet as the rainbows are near the surface. Some trollers continue to run deeper with downriggers.”
There were two quality largemouth bass landed this week with Andrew Orr of Hilmar catching and releasing his personal best at 8.7 pounds on a ripbait along with Dave King of Stockton posting his personal best at 7.5 pounds using a plastic on the drop-shot. The lake is at 70 percent.
It has been a wait of several months, but the trout bite at Don Pedro has finally taken off as predicted once the water cooled down enough to bring the rainbows towards the surface.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing has been waiting to work the lake for the past few months, and he found an opportunity with two clients on Friday, December 1. He said, “We started in one location for nothing, but when we went to our second spot, we had a steady bite for three hours using my custom shad-patterned spoons on lead core. My two clients, Mike Howe and John Kern of Modesto, landed a total of 9 rainbows to 3.5 pounds, and we released four of the rainbows along with two lost at the boat and several other good strikes. The key was finding the grebes, and the birds had the shad corralled as they were constantly diving. We trolled through the birds, and we hooked up. The bite wasn’t red hot, but it was solid and steady. The lake hasn’t turned over yet, but it has at least 10 feet of visibility and a temperature in the 59/60-degree range. The rainbows were spitting up shad ranging from ½ to 1.5 inches, and one of the trout was loaded with nine small shad.” The lake is at 80 percent.
500 pounds of rainbow were released into the lake on December 1, and there have been a few limits of rainbows taken from the docks with chartreuse trout dough bait. Trollers are starting to get in on the action with a 6.8-pound rainbow taken on a firetiger Rapala as the lake remains relatively clear with the lack of rain. The annual Lake Amador Trout Derby started on November 24, and it will run through March 4, 2018 with a one-time entry fee of $7.00. Over 300 tagged fish will be released for a total in excess of $5000 of cash and prizes. The lake is 22 feet from spilling.
San Luis Reservoir remains the top option for San Jose and Fresno-area striped bass fishermen, and the lake is getting more and more interest for linesides than in the past several years. The emergence of fishing groups such as the Fishaholics out of Fresno and How To Fish out of the Hollister area has ramped up activity at the lake, and although the majority of striped bass are schoolies, there have been some quality linesides in excess of 30 pounds landed.
Travis Porter of Hollister and How To Fish said, “ It was a tough bite for us on Saturday as I only landed four keepers to 23 inches along with another 4 shakers, but Allen Day from Morgan Hill and Octavio Gonzalez of Hollister landed numbers of linesides throwing topwater lures or flukes in the mornings. A few anglers have been trolling at depths to 40 feet around Dinosaur Point and Portuguese Cove, and Joe Drewry of Salinas landed a huge 43-inch, 35-pound striper trolling a C-Rig around the Romero Visitor Center. The big ones are still out there, but you have to get through the all of the small fish to get them. Shore anglers are finding fair action with anchovies or jumbo minnows off of Dinosaur Point.”
Alex Tran of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “There have been some decent keepers in the main lake, and we are selling lots of jumbo minnows for drifting. In the Forebay, there is a topwater bite with Walk-the-Dog style baits in the early mornings when the fish are boiling, and the Evergreen SB 150 in shad patterns has been the top seller this week. The is a Pencil Popper-type lure. You have to go through a bunch of shakers to pick up a limit of legal fish. Umbrella rigs and ripbaits are also working while shore fishermen are soaking pile worms or jumbo minnows around Check 12.”
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We sold out of 7-inch Super Flukes this week for San Luis, and we are getting a lot of calls for Lucky Crafts which continue to be hard to obtain. Duo Realis jerkbaits are the alternative, and shore fishermen are heading up in the evenings to toss the lures.”
San Luis rose once again to 75 percent with increased pumping from the south Delta as heavy releases out of New Hogan and New Melones have poured into the Delta.
Millerton and Pine Flat Reservoirs
Millerton and Pine Flat Reservoirs continue to attract bass anglers from the Central Valley towns, but the action is sporadic at both lakes with the majority of action found on the bottom. The trout bite has picked up at Pine Flat due to recent plants, and there are still vestiges of a crappie bite in the upper portion of the lake.
The Kerman Bass Club held a club tournament at Pine Flat last Saturday with 17 anglers weighing in 8 limits composed of 60 fish for 100.48 pounds a 1.66-pound average. John Albidrez of Fresno was the top finisher at 9.79 pounds with a big fish of 3.52 pounds
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite is sporadic at best with jigs, brass n’glass, or plastics on the Texas-rig or drop-shot at depths from 15 to 40 feet with the best cut of fish found from 30 to 40 feet. There is a good spoon bite with ½ or ¾ ounce spoons, and we are selling a lot of ¾ ounce Hopkins and CC spoons in silver or blue/silver.”
At Millerton, Gilbert said, “The quality of bass is not as good as at Pine Flat, but the overall numbers are better. The bite has slowed somewhat, but you can still catch 4 to 5 fish out of one area at depths from 15 to 30 feet. There is some movement in the afternoons with the bass moving into the shallows to 10 feet, but everything is on the bottom with plastics, jigs, or spoons. Most fishermen are using shad-patterned plastics, but there has been some success with watermelon Hula Grubs. I haven’t heard of any striped bass this week.”
For trout at Pine Flat, Gilbert reported improving action in the main lake from Cove Island Marina to the Power Lines with Needlefish, Apex lures, Wedding Rings tipped with a ‘crawler, or blade/’crawler combinations at 4 to 6 colors of lead core. There also have been some crappie found from Trimmer to Sycamore and in Deer Creek with 1-inch Strike King or Gulp! crappie minnows in shad patterns.”
Both lakes rose slightly this week with Pine Flat at 48 percent and Millerton at 66 percent.
Bass, Huntington, and Shaver Lakes
The Central Sierra lakes of Bass, Shaver, and Huntington are the only high country options with the closure of Kaiser Pass to Lakes Edison and Florence and McKinley Grove Road to Courtright and Wishon on December 1.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters out of Shaver Lake said, “There were a few boats on the lake over the weekend with the beautiful weather in the 60’s, and a few fish have been taken from the boats. A limit of mixed kokanee and rainbow trout is possible, but 1 or 2 fish per boat is the norm. There just hasn’t been much happening out there right now. The best action has been from Stevenson Creek to the island at depths to 20 feet. Bank fishing is also slow, but a few trophy rainbows can be taken with trout dough bait at Tunnel Creek. Huntington has produced some rainbows near inlets, especially near Deer Creek with trout dough bait.”
Nichols and Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service will be holding a seminar at Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods in Fresno on February 8 at 6:00 p.m. with Wittwer covering Shaver kokanee fishing and last year’s results while Nichols covers trolling for trout, the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project’s 2018 plants, and an overall forecast for the coming spring and summer months. There will be drawings for prize with water and snacks provided.
At Bass Lake, Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The launch ramp is close to being out of the water with the lake at 53 percent, but bass fishermen are reporting plenty of rainbows in the lake with one picking up two to 19 inches while drop-shotting.
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