Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, who guides in the greater Fresno area and holds the striper record at Millerton Lake.
Delta sturgeon on good bite, Steve Mitchell said. California Aqueduct stripers hitting, Mickey Clements reported. Don Pedro trout and bass action good, Monte Smith said. McClure bass bite holding up, Ryan Cook reported. New Melones bass and trout on tap, John Liechty said.
Roger’s remarks: Harrowing experiences can teach life lessons
My most harrowing outdoor experiences start out calmly and innocuously — then wham! Here’s one I’ll never forget.
It was sometime in the mid-1970s when my dad took my younger brother Randy, who was about 7 years old, and I on an overnight fishing trip to New Melones. It was one of my father’s favorite fishing things to do, putting lights over the side of the boat to attract trout and crappie. We usually did this in the winter, and I hated freezing all night long.
We were in an 18-foot Fiberglas trihull that had served us well for many years and trips. It was about 1 a.m. when I noticed that the wind was coming up, and by early morning the waves outside our protected cove halfway up the lake were getting big. We hadn’t checked the weather much, but the day before was beautiful. Dad was getting a little concerned and decided we needed to leave.
As we motored along the shoreline, the waves began breaking over the right side of the boat. Dad said it was OK so far, but I was getting scared as the wind kept getting stronger. Randy was getting very scared, too.
We came to a place in the lake where our channel branched into a bigger one where we had very little protection. Dad went along the southern shoreline as close as he could get to avoid the southerly wind coming downslope on us. We had a little bit of relief for about a half-mile before a left turn put us out into the main lake heading directly into the teeth of the gale.
The waves coming across the point were like ocean swells, the wind taking the tops 30 to 40 feet high. I learned later that the winds had reached 60-70 mph at the lake.
My dad was ex-military and he would take on most anything — but this time I begged him not to try to go around this point. He said we would be OK as we all rechecked our life preservers.
It was about the third huge wave that completely inundated the front of the boat. Suddenly we were a submarine with water 1 feet or more deep inside the cockpit. Somehow our inboard/outboard engine kept working. We were making headway, but we hit sets of monster rollers as the wind howled.
Moving around the point, we got hit by giant waves going sideways now. There was a big rock breakwater 60 yards away that the wind was pushing us toward between rollers going over our side. It didn’t look good.
I’ll never forget my dad turning to me and saying, “If things get any worse jump overboard and I’m trusting you to save Randy! Swim to shore however you can before we get crushed on those rocks!”
Somehow by God’s grace the engine kept pushing us and we got behind an island as the waves and wind slowed in the protected cove.
The boat had water in it up to below my knees. There were crappie we had caught earlier that were swimming between my legs.
We had escaped death. My father had bitten off more than he realized — which is how bad situations start many times and escalate. We should have just waited the storm out in a cove. A good lesson. Never give up!
Roger George: firstname.lastname@example.org, Rogergeorgeguideservice on Facebook and @StriperWars
Striper 3 Catfish 2
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The California Aqueduct has been solid with a topwater bite with the stripers boiling with Zara Spooks, Whopper Ploppers or ripbaits while Magnum Flukes on a heavy lead head remain a solid option.” Coyote has a shipment of Duo Realis Neo Pearl 130s in the shop. Micheal Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun confirmed the decent action for stripers, but he said, “You have to be working around the gates with moving water.”
In the south aqueduct in Kern County, largemouth bass fishing remains solid with Senkos, plastic worms, or flukes while striped bass remain active with flukes, topwater lures, or bait such as sardines or anchovies.
With the cold wintertime temperatures, the concrete at the aqueduct can become frozen and very slippery. Anglers have to be extremely cautious to stay out of the cold, swift waters of the aqueduct, particularly when it is flowing heavily during these periods of heavy pumping.
Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket in Bakersfield (661) 833-8657
Eastman Lake/Hensley Lake
Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed eliminating the one-fish 22-inch size limit at Eastman and the two-fish 15-inch size limit at Hensley since efforts to create a trophy fishery have been unsuccessful. The recommendation is to return to the state standard of a bag limit of five fish with a 12-inch size limit. This occurred at the Jan. 13 Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Committee meeting, and this will be discussed at the next teleconference in February with a final vote in May. Eastman held at 9% with Hensley holding at 15%. Bass fishing will improve once the water clears as new food sources are being poured into the lakes.
Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255; Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 3 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 2 Crappie 2
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “The bite has been decent at Don Pedro, but it isn’t on fire. We have been averaging from 12 to 20 bass per day using G-Money jigs, 3.5-inch Dry Creek tubes or Senkos on a Neko-rig at depths from 5 to 45 feet with the majority of fish found between 5 and 20 feet.” The team of Bryan Cox and Kevin Davidson took first during the BBT tournament with a 21.26-pound limit buoyed by the big fish of the tournament at 10.71 pounds. The second-place weight dropped to 15 pounds, and the weights decreased progressively from there.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing found similar action to Wise at New Melones, saying, “We knocked the heck out of them as there are lots of fish throughout the lake. The big ones are few and far between, and I think they are holding deep with the king salmon. We kept our 10, releasing several more trout running Rapalas from 9 to 12 feet along with shad-patterned spoons on lead core from the surface to 15 feet. We saw lots of bait at 120 feet, and the colder it gets, the deeper the bait holds.” Steve Wirfs of Modesto found the king salmon on Sunday with two kings at 4 and 6 pounds along with releasing two limits of rainbows. The 2022 daily vehicle fee will be $20 with an additional $15 to launch a vessel. Annual launch passes will be $120 with an annual vehicle fee of $120 with $65 for seniors. The lake rose slightly to 55%. The Fleming Meadows and Moccasin launch ramps remain open.
Call: Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing (209) 581-4734; Kyle Wise – Head Hunter Guide Service – (209) 531- 3966; Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Fishing - 691-7008
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
The Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed eliminating the two-fish 15-inch size limit at Isabella since efforts to create a trophy fishery have been unsuccessful. The recommendation is to return to the state standard of a bag limit of 5 fish with a 12-inch size limit. Lake Isabella remains low at 10%, and bass fishing continues to be slow with the best action on very slow finesse presentations with plastics or jigs. Crappie are a possibility, but you have to find them in the offshore structure as they are holding around certain trees or bushes. A few catfish can be found on Triple S Dip bait, chicken livers, or cut baits coated with garlic spray. Trout fishing has slowed with the lack of a recent place. French Gulch is the only ramp available on the lake. Buena Vista remains fair for planted trout with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters, but the bite dies a few days after a plant. Daily Fishing Permits at Buena Vista are $6.00/adults and $1.00/children under 15. Information on trout plants is available at (661) 868-7000 – press 1. The upper Kern River has been planted several times in December and January, but with the cold water temperatures, the best action occurs in the middle of the day around the noon hour. Fly fishermen are scoring with BWO’s or midges while spin casters are soaking salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, or live crickets. The Kern River held at 290 cfs at Kernville and is also holding steady at 175cfs at First Point below the dam.
Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket in Bakersfield (661) 833-8657; North Fork Marina (760) 376-1812; Golden Trout Pack Station (559) 542-2816
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed eliminating the two-fish 15-inch size limit at Kaweah since efforts to create a trophy fishery have been unsuccessful. The recommendation is to return to the state standard of a bag limit of five fish with a 12-inch size limit. A trout plant occurred a few weeks back, but most of the planters have been taken by shore anglers who lined up near the launch ramp with Power Bait, nightcrawlers or small spoons such as Kastmasters. The remaining trout have moved into deeper water or up the river arm to avoid being prey for largemouth bass. The lake held at 13%. The Kaweah River dropped from 199 cfs to 180 cfs at Three Rivers.
Lake Success/Tule River
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed eliminating the two-fish 15-inch size limit at Success since efforts to create a trophy fishery have been unsuccessful. The recommendation is to return to the state standard of a bag limit of five fish with a 12-inch size limit. Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company said, “Bass fishing is fair, but there have been a number of shore fishermen tossing swimbaits hoping for a trophy largemouth bass which have been feeding on the planted rainbows.” The water level held at 19%. He added, “The flows in the Tule River are high, but it is fishable. Anglers are picking up trout on nightcrawlers or Woolly Buggers.”
Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, sequoiafishingcompany.com
Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Overall, the bass bite has been slower for numbers, but a 6.7-pound spotted bass was taken on a Dry Creek tube in 12 feet of water on a main lake point. The best action has been between 40 and 70 feet over steep bluff walls in the canyons or main lake and secondary points.”
The BBT will be back at the lake on Feb. 12 along with several additional tournaments in the coming months. The lake held at 25%, and the best ramp continues to be at Barrett Cove South.
Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Guide Service - 691-7008
The lake is nearly filled at 94%, and lake levels remain high throughout the year. Holdover rainbows are taken from the banks around the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks and the peninsula near the marina with various colors of Power Bait, inflated nightcrawlers or blue/silver Kastmasters. The best trolling action remains in the river arm near the 2nd Fence Line with blade/’crawler combinations or red Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler at depths to 20 feet. Additional trout plants are needed to keep the bite going.
Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 1
The lake has dropped 14 feet within the past few weeks, and tournament action has been limited to limits less than 10 pounds. A 9-pound limit took first-place during the past two weekend tournaments, including Sunday’s Fresno Bass Club tournament. The bass are holding deep from 50 to 60 feet, and they are reluctant to bite. The river arm remains heavily stained as the inflow from the upper San Joaquin River is rushing in. Most of the water is being held behind the dam, and the San Joaquin River held at 661 cfs at Friant with the reservoir dropping to 59%.
The Big Valley High School Anglers held a tournament with a number of Central and Northern California high school teams participating on Jan. 9. Morgan Yoder and Jaiden Vang of Edison High took first place with 9.43 pounds while Mio Vang and Crystal Vang of Roosevelt took second with 9.18. Blake Alexander and Bennett Alexander from the Northern California Junior Bass Club were third with 8.75. Big fish honors were shared by Jaiden Vang and Grace Vang who each boated a 3.06-pound bass.
The next High School Angler Team Tournaments for the Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT) is scheduled for Feb. 6 at Pine Flat, and tournaments are open to all Valley high school students and to seventh- and eighth-graders if they have a partner who is a high school student. Anglers without partners and teams without access to a boat are encouraged to reach out. For information and to register as a High School Tournament Angler, contact Mike Spencer (email@example.com or 559-261-5296).
The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust (River Parkway Trust) opened Sycamore Island on Friday. The seven inland ponds and nearly 3 miles of riverbank offer some of the best bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill fishing in the region. Boat ramps for light-weight fishing boats are available. The River Parkway Trust also offers canoe and kayak rentals on site. Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun was there on Saturday, but he reported heavy fog and a paucity of biting bass.
Sycamore Island will be open Fridays through Sundays and state holidays to Nov. 11. Seasonal hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. January, February, March, October and November; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. April and September; and 6 a.m to 8:30 p.m. May through August. Entry fees are $9 per vehicle and $5 per trailer. Snacks, drinks, and bait are available for purchase. Sycamore Island is located in Madera County near Valley Children’s Hospital at 39664 Avenue 7 1/2.
The River Parkway Trust offers contactless payment for day-use passes online at riverparkway.org. The organization asks that guests follow current public health guidance regarding COVID-19. For more information about Sycamore Island, visit riverparkway.org or facebook.com/SycamoreIslandPark.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 1
New Melones Reservoir is back in play for bass tournaments this year, and John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The bite has been very good when the sun has been out as we have been averaging around 40 to 50 fish per day, but the bite is challenging when it has been foggy in the afternoons. The bass were coming up to the banks, but they went back down between 45 and 55 feet. Most of our action has been with a variety of soft plastics. When it is windy, shaky heads are working best, but when there is no wind, the Ned-rig is the top presentation. I have been throwing a swimbait, and I lost a double-digit bass this week, but we have had few followers. Normally, I would have between 15 and 20 followers on a guided trip with three or four bites.”
Also at Melones, Ryan Cook has found great action over main lake islands and long sloping main lake points at depths from 25 to 50 feet. He said, “It’s a matter of working painfully slow with 3.5-inch Dry Creek tubes or Hula Grubs on a ½-ounce ball head. We have also picked up several on a Neko-rig and a few on spoons. The bass are spitting up gobis in the main lake, and there are some feeding on shad in the creek channels.”
Kyle Wise of HeadHunter Guide Service put his clients onto 21 trout by 10 a.m. trolling F7 or F9 Rapalas or Speedy Shiners from the surface to 27 feet at 3.5 mph. He said, “We had a lot of action, but there was nothing of any size as the planters are holding close to the surface with the holdovers deep in the water column.” The lake held at 40%, but numerous unmarked hazards remain throughout the lake. Boaters have to be extremely cautious.
Call: Glory Hole Sports (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith (209) 581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service (209) 743-9932
Pine Flat Reservoir/Kings River
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
The focus has been on Millerton with the recent tournaments, and fewer anglers are heading to Pine Flat. There hasn’t been much change with the best action on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot, Neko-rig, Ned-rig or dart head. Finding the shad schools is the key for trout trollers, and a few rainbows are taken on shad-patterned Kastmasters, Needlefish or Speedy Shiners. In the lower Kings, planters are taken with 1/8-ounce lipless crankbaits, Eurotackle’s Live Spoons, small spoons, Power Bait, salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or live crickets from the access areas. There have been reports of anglers poaching trout with either overlimits or taking trout out of the restricted catch-and-release section at Cobbles Weir. The flows are holding steady at 671 cfs at Trimmer. The lake dropped slightly to 28%.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 1
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The water continues to rise in the main lake, and it is up to the bottom of the rockwall along Highway 152 at 36%. Portuguese Cove is filling up with water, and boaters are tossing lures such as umbrella rigs, Zara Spooks or Duo Realis jerkbaits at the mouth as the stripers are corralling the shad schools. Dinosaur Point is also in play with boaters drifting live minnows or jigging Blade Runner spoons for striped bass. The O’Neill Forebay is solid for numbers around Check 12 for bank fishermen and around the Twin Islands for boaters soaking pile worms or frozen shad along with tossing similar lures to the main lake.” The forebay is at 84%. The Basalt Recreation Area Day Use and Campground is scheduled to close in February, and it may remain closed for as long as 10 years due to dam safety work.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the bite has been decent for experienced trollers and minnow anglers. “The water is rising about a foot a day and the fish are moving into new areas on a daily basis. I guided Rick Ross of Fresno and his wife Sherry last week and we picked up 12 fish to 24 inches by noon when Rick said he had a big fish on. It turned out to be a 37-inch, 21.5-pounder that gave Rick an epic battle, as well as a new PB. He got the fish at around 60 feet near the dam on a silver lure, and later released it. The full moon this week may slow the bite, but the rising water is the big deal since it’s changing the patterns all the time.”
Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of rogergeorgeguideservice.com 905-2954
Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
Trout trollers are finding some success with blade/’crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger at depths from the surface to 15 feet with the recent plant. Planters are also found near the Sheriff’s Tower with Power Bait, nightcrawlers or small spoons. Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun was fishing from the bank near the dam on Sunday, but he witnessed minimal signs of action. With the Sheriff’s Motor Fee in place and low water levels at the public launch ramp, few bass fishermen are heading to the lake, but kayaks are launching and working jigs on the bottom or tossing jerkbaits near the dam area. The lake has dropped to 51%, well past the comfort range for launching a large boat at the public dock. A webcam of the launch ramp is available at basslakeca.com.
The gates at Kaiser Pass will not reopen until Memorial Day at the earliest. Edison is at 13%, Florence at 10% and Mammoth Pool at 69%.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake
Kokanee 1 Trout 2
Both lakes remain slow with snow remaining on the shorelines, but this is prime time for big brown trout hunters at Huntington. Shaver’s launch ramp conditions can be checked via webcam at sierramarina.com/camera.html. Huntington is at 45% with Shaver dropping to 30%.
Todd Wittwer – Kokanee.net Guide Service - 288-8100; Tom Oliveira – Tom Oliveira Fishing – 802-8072
The gate at McKinley Grove Road was closed on Dec. 1. Information is available at fs.usda.gov/detail/sierra/home/?cid=stelprdb5399344.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Striper 2 White seabass 2 Crab 3 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 3
A surprise tsunami arrived on Saturday morning along the California coast, resulting in marinas closing and boaters turning around after trekking to the coast for a crab trip. However, the effect of the tsunami was short-lived with the greatest impact on the Santa Cruz Harbor and surrounding area. The beaches were closed, and surf anglers had to wait until another day.
Out of Half Moon Bay, the New Captain Pete had to postpone Saturday’s crab/sand dab/Petrale sole trip due to the tsunami. This was their first scheduled trip in over a week, but they will be running these trips until April 1st. Captain Michael Cabanas said, “Limits of crab remain the rule, but we have to release more females from the pots as they will be clutching soon. The Petrale can be found in deep water from 280 to 300 feet, and we need the right conditions without wind to work these grounds.”
The Pacifica Pier and surrounding beaches was also on hold during the tsunami, but the crab regulars have been scoring as many as 10-crab limits tossing snares loaded with anchovies, squid, or sardines. The pier may be closed during stormy weather, and anglers can check the status of the pier via this website - as https://www.cityofpacifica.org/depts/pw/parks/pacifica_pier.asp. There is also a live feed from a web cam available at https://www.pacificaview.net/livecam/index.php.
The commercial crab fleet is already stacking out, but there are still boats selling off of the docks at Half Moon Bay and occasionally out of the Bay Area harbors.
Call: Captain Michael Cabanas – New Captain Pete (510) 677-7054; Captain Chris Chang – Ankeny Street – (650) 279-8819; Captain Bill Smith – Riptide – (650) 728-8433; Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing – Queen of Hearts – (510) 581-2628
Striper 2 White seabass 2 Crab 3 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 2
Monterey has been the top location for Petrale sole, and Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips said, “We took a special Petrale/sand dab combination trip at the end of the week since we found a spot of the sole earlier in the week. This trip was very productive with 60 Petrale sole and over 500 sand dabs. We are also running crab/sand dab combination trips in addition to these special Petrale combinations. Everything is depending upon weather and interest, but we are regularly scheduling trips on the weekends.”
Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “ Anglers who woke early and checked their internet or radios on Saturday morning were alarmed to learn our entire coast was under a ‘Tsunami Advisory.’ A huge volcanic eruption in the South Pacific nation of Tonga had seismologists plenty worried. Although the Richter scale measurement associated with this eruption was only rated as a 1, scientists could not predict just how powerful an ocean wave would be generated by the volcano as their formulas are factored from seismic events such as undersea earthquakes or landslides, not volcanoes. The best guess was a tsunami of one or two feet would impact the Monterey Bay area around 7:35 a.m. A Tsunami Advisory is one step above a ‘Watch’ and one step below a ‘Warning.’
According to the National Weather Service, a Tsunami Watch alerts people to “be prepared,” an earthquake has occurred and a tsunami is possible. A Tsunami Advisory indicates that action is necessary. The NWS advised, “A tsunami with potential for strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or very near the water is expected or occurring. There may be flooding of beach and harbor areas. Stay out of the water and away from beaches and waterways,” A Tsunami Warning is much more definite. NWS is explicitly saying, “Danger! A tsunami that may cause widespread flooding is expected or occurring. Dangerous coastal flooding and powerful currents are possible and may continue for several hours or days after initial arrival. Follow instructions from local officials. Evacuation is recommended. Move to high ground or inland (away from the water).
By 7:15a.m., reports were coming in indicating the volcanic tsunami had hit neighboring islands in Tonga. Though flooding and damage occurred, it was relatively minor compared to tsunami events seen in Thailand in 2004 or Fukashima, Japan in 2011. The Fukashima tsunami affected California as well, causing over 20 million dollars of damage just at our local Santa Cruz Harbor. To give an idea of relativity, Thailand’s 2004 event measured waves as high as 80 feet and the Fukashima event produced estimated wave heights of up to 133 feet, traveling at 435 miles per hour. When the Fukashima waves hit Santa Cruz, wave heights were around five feet. So, though we knew a tsunami was generated by the volcano and it was coming our way, the height estimates were much lower, around a half foot to a foot.
The power and destructiveness of tsunamis is not to be gauged by the wave height alone. Unlike normal ocean swells generated by wind, say a 10-foot wave with an 18-second period (which is about 180 feet wide), the wavelength of a tsunami can be anywhere from ten minutes up to two hours. Another way to look at it is the wave may be only one foot tall, but can be up to 300 miles wide. That is a lot of water with nowhere to go when it hits land except up (in height) and inland causing heavy currents and flooding. The 2011 tsunami wreaked havoc in Santa Cruz, resembling a raging river pushing broken docks and turtling boats as it swept in for 10 minutes at a time, then re-hashing everything as the ebb surge occurred. Only to be followed by another surge and another, for four or five hours.
The event this weekend, luckily, was relatively minor. On Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz Harbor seemed to have sustained the most damage, with water and power cut off from most docks and parking lot flooding that floated a few cars and trucks (as well as their owner’s day). Moss Landing fared much better with a report of only one dock getting a bit skewed. Having the entire Elkhorn Slough behind Moss Landing Harbor likely allowed for the wave to flow more freely and not get “compressed” like it does at Santa Cruz. Monterey Harbor has not reported any major damage either, which might be due to the north-facing aspect of that protected area.”
On the Capitola Wharf, Capitola Bait and Bait will be opening for boat rentals on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Reservations are advised – (831)462-2208.
Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Allen Bushnell – Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting (831) 251-9732
Golden Gate/San Francisco Bay
Halibut 2 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 3
Out of San Francisco Bay, despite the temporary closure of the marinas during Saturday morning’s tsunami, boats out of Berkeley, Emeryville, and San Francisco will run sand dab/Dungeness crab combination trips depending upon weather and interest.
The sturgeon are migrating into San Francisco and San Pablo Bays in anticipating of dining on herring spawns, and the fresh water flow from the October and December storms have ‘been just what the doctor ordered to get the sturgeon to move’ in the words of the legendary Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle. For the first time in a few years, the south bay is back in play as the muddy water rushing out of the creeks enticed sturgeon to move south of Oyster and Coyote Points.
Fraser said, “Things are looking up in San Pablo Bay, and one of our seminar stalwarts, Michael ‘Moose’ McNair was out with his son near the Shellbanks for two slot-limit sturgeon at 48 inches, and they landed these fish even before the tide got right. Of course, they were using Loch Lomond ghost shrimp, and they were out on our first nice day in a week. The minus tides over the weekend were the perfect time to hunt for sturgeon in San Pablo Bay, and I prefer that long, slow outgoing minus tide off of Pumphouse or the Shellbanks.”
Inside the south bay, Captain Steve Gutierrez of Deadliest Kast Guide Service continues to fish around the north side of the Dunbarton Bridge to find success soaking cured ghost shrimp. He said, “We hooked four sturgeon on Sunday, landing two keepers at 58 and 48 inches. We also released an oversized at 60.5 inches and lost one on a long-distance release. Eric Andreasen of Santa Cruz released the oversized and landed the big slot while Tyson Shearer of Santa Clara picked up the smaller slot. The fish bit on both tides, and it was flat glassy calm out there on Sunday. The big fish had 11 pounds of caviar.”
Fishermen have been traveling around the bay with their buckets and ice chests in search of herring spawns, but there have only been a few small spawns reported as of yet.
White sturgeon may not be taken in the portion of San Francisco Bay included within the following boundaries: A direct line between Pt. Chauncy (National Marine Fisheries Laboratory) and Pt. Richmond, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and a direct line between Pt. Lobos and Pt. Bonita between January 1st and March 15th.
Call: Captain Trent Slate Bite Me Charters (415) 307-8582; Captain Jerad Davis, Salty Lady (415) 760-9362; Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing (707) 655-6736; Happy Hooker (510) 223-5388
San Luis Obispo
Surf perch 3
Rockfish season will reopen again in April with a slightly different sublimit for vermilion rockfish dropping from 5 to 4 with one copper rockfish also as a sublimit. Boats are limited to nature trips, whale watching, or the occasional crab/sand dab combination trip. Webcams of many of the coastal locations are available at https://805webcams.com/.
Call: Virg’s Landing (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing (805) 595-4100; Morro Bay Landing
Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Sturgeon fishing remains the top draw in the Sacramento-Delta as the water temperatures are slowing creeping up with the recent dry and warm weather. Floating and submerged debris remain throughout the system, and the high tides over the weekend only contributed to the amounts of debris in the water. The high tides pick up logs, poles, and other large objects off of the banks and drag them back and forth throughout the river system. With the larger tides, the best sturgeon action has been in shallower water where the effect of the moving current is less. Six-packs are focusing further downstream towards the Benicia/Martinez Bridge to locate the clearest water, but the shallow flats in Honker Bay and Grizzly Island have also been productive locations during the big tides.
Sturgeon Report Cards for 2021 are required by regulation to be returned to the Department of Fish and Wildlife by January 31, 2022, and they can be filled in online at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing#44521416-harvest-reporting. The report cards provide critical data on catch and harvest that enable the Department to make informed fisheries management decisions surrounding white sturgeon and federally threatened Green Sturgeon populations.
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing has been on a roll for the past several trips, and he was able to put his passengers onto six sturgeon on Sunday between undersized and slot-limit. He said, “Sunday was great as the outgoing tide produced steady action for us. I would like to compliment my groups for their due diligence in staying focused as we didn’t miss a bite all day long.”
At the end of the week, Mitchell put his crew onto 4 shakers along with a legal slot sturgeon, and they fought an obviously foul-hooked sturgeon for over an hour. He said, “This was a solid, huge fish, and after everyone on the boat had an opportunity to try and bring it in for release, but they all tapped out. I finally took charge and put enough pressure on the reel to break off the leader. We never saw this fish, but it had to be massive. There is a ridiculous amount of debris in the water with lots of logs, hyacinth, tules, and mixed grass. You have to find clear water, and that has been the challenge. We started off at the Horseshoe, but it quicly became grassed out. The water temperature has risen to the 49/50-degree range, and the sturgeon are chomping.”
Mitchell will be presenting his sturgeon techniques at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo in Sacramento on at the California Sportsmen’s Theater at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, January 21 and at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 23rd.
Another Delta sturgeon fishermen presenting at the ISE is Captain Zack Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures, and in addition to his seminars at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, his co-captain, Virginia Salvador, has arranged for a wide selection of raffle prizes for attending his seminars including Traeger Grills, Costa sunglasses, Accurate reels, and Seeker rods.
The Diamond Classic Catch-And-Release Sturgeon Derby is a go this year, and Olivia Ortega of the Martinez Marina is coordinating the event. She has arranged for tents for the seminar when will be in the evening on January 28th with the derby on the 29th. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing will be taking care of the awards and the raffle prizes. He said, “It is unfortunate that the majority of the pier will not be available for the youth anglers this year as most of the pier is under construction, but the derby will be happening.”
The Foundation Sportsmen’s Club Original Sturgeon, aka “Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby, will be held out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point from February 11-13th. Information and registration at http://www.originalsturgeonderby.com/
As the water is warming and starting to clear in some areas, striped bass are moving into the Delta, and Mitchell’s group landed a pair of legal linesides on his ‘Fire Cure’ salmon row near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. In the far northern Delta, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Sturgeon are starting to show up, and pile worms, lamprey eel, or ghost shrimp are all working. There are striped bass in the system, and even though we are three or four weeks away from the arrival of the spring run, linesides are taken on blood worms or sardines coated with garlic spray or scent. The water in the Sacramento River near Freeport has dropped, and it’s just now starting to clear up. There have been crappie found in Lisbon Slough and also off of Eight Mile Road in Stockton.
The Delta Cross Channel Gates are in active mode. Information on the gate operation is available via 916-979-2194 or www.usbr.gov/mp/cov.
The San Joaquin-Delta remains slow for all species due to continued presence of cold, muddy water in the slower moving river system. Pumping out of the south Delta into the California Aqueduct and Delta/Mendota Canal limits the necessary water movement to flush out the system, and the main river channels remain dirty. The clearest water continues to be found in the backend sloughs in the south or east Delta.
Omega Nguyen of MegaBait and Tackle in Lathrop said, “With the low and dirty water in the San Joaquin River below the Mossdale Bridge, most of our customers are heading to the lakes for trout or crappie or to the California Aqueduct for striped bass. Frozen shad is still in the shad in a limited supply, and it won’t be until at least April before fresh shad is back in the shop.”
Johnny Wang of Turner’s Outdoors in Stockton confirmed the overall slow action in the San Joaquin, but he said, “The water is clearing up, and there has been some success in False River for striped bass along with some small stripers taken on spoons near Prisoner’s Point. There are some bass and crappie found near the bridges off of Eight Mile Road.”
We will have a better handle on the south Delta next week as Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors is be hosting his first Delta event at Holland Riverside Marina this coming Saturday. This marina will be close to the clearest water in the Delta.
The temporary emergency drought barrier in False River to slow the movement of saltwater into the central Delta and prevent the contamination of water supplies continues to be installed although it was scheduled to be removed in November.
Call: Randy Pringle (209) 543-6260; Captain Steve Mitchell – Hook’d Up Sport Fishing – (707) 655-6736; Chris Ditter – HeadRush Sport Fishing – (916) 284-9236; Vince Borges – Vince Borges Outdoors (209) 918-0828
Lake Nacimiento/San Antonio/Santa Margarita/Lopez
Bass 2 White bass 1 Striper 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2 Trout 2
At Nacimiento, the bass bite is extremely tough with a five-fish limit over 7 pounds with a big fish at 1.60 pounds taking Saturday’s Golden Empire Bass Club tournament. The lake has risen significantly in the past few weeks, rising to 29%. There is floating debris throughout the lake, and navigation requires extreme caution. The best action has been found to 20 feet with plastics on the drop-shot, dart head, or Ned-rig. Few white bass are found in the cold water. It will take some time for the lake to clear. A webcam of the lake is available at https://805webcams.com/lake-nacimiento-live-webcam/. At Lopez, bass action is showing some sign of improvement with jigs or plastics on a Ned-rig or drop-shot at depths to 20 feet. The lake level has risen slightly, but boaters need to be cognizant of the low lake levels while launching and running on the lake. Trout plants have yet to be scheduled. It is best to contact the for the latest launch ramp status as it could change any time. A webcam of the lake is available at http://805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam/. At Santa Margarita, the bass bite remains challenging with the best grade found on swimbaits or crankbaits with the steadiest bite on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs. Cut baits scented in garlic fished weightless is working best for catfish. A webcam of the lake is available at https://805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california/. At San Antonio, the lake has risen around 15 feet in elevation to 11% of capacity, but the muddy and off-color water has limited action. Bass fishing remains slow, and catfish are dominating any action with cut baits scented in garlic fished weightless. Bluegill are taken on red worms or meal worms around structure.
Call: Lake Nacimiento Marina (805) 238-3256; Lopez Lake Marina (805) 489-1006; Santa Margarita Marina Store (805) 438-1522; Lake San Antonio Marina (805) 472-2313
Reminder: consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury.
Millerton –Big Valley High School Anglers Open – January 9th: 1st –Morgan Yoder/Jaiden Vang of Edison High School – 9.43 pounds; 2nd –Mio Vang/Crystal Vang of Roosevelt High School – 9.18; 3rd - Blake and Bennett Alexander from the Northern California Junior Bass Club – 8.75. Big Fish – Grace Vang and Jaiden Vang at 3.06 pounds.
Lake Camanche – NorCal Bass – January 15th: 1st – Bill Vernon/Jason Hopper – 14.65 pounds; 2nd – Rich Henderson/Joe Overly – 14.2; 3rd – Dave/Jody Shanahan – 13.45. Big Fish – Kelly Owens/Michael Caddick – 3.96.
Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments – January 15th: 1st – Bryan Cox/Kevin Davidson – 21.26 pounds (Big Fish – 10.77); 2nd – Michael Beevers/Russ Pierson – 15.00; 3rd – Walt Austin/John Scott – 12.56.
Nacimiento – Golden Empire Bass Club– January 15th: 1st – Mike and Rick Gohr – 7.20 pounds; 2nd – Paul Taniguchi/Hector Zacarias – 5.05 (Big Fish – 1.60); 3rd – Tyler Slicton/Mason McAbee– 3.60.
Millerton – Fresno Bass Club – January 16th: 1st – John Albidrez – 9.88 pounds; 2nd – Tim Turner – 9.60; 3rd –Bill Kunz – 8.48. Big Fish – Dan Marshall – 2.73 pounds.
International Sportsmen’s Exposition – Cal Expo Sacramento – information – sportsexpos.com
Upcoming tournaments (subject to change)
Delta/Holland Riverside Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors
New Melones – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/Contra Costa Bass Club
McClure - Sierra Bass Club/17-90 Bass Club
Millerton – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments
Pine Flat - Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)
Millerton - Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)
Pine Flat - Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)
Delta - Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)
Delta – Major League Fishing California High School State Championship