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Central California fishing report week of February 9-15


Low clouds and fog shroud parts of San Luis Reservoir as seen near Dinosaur Point on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017.

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Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, who guides in the greater Fresno area and holds the striper record at Millerton Lake.

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Best bets

Don Pedro bass and trout hitting, Mike Gomez reported. Isabella crappie bite solid, and McSwain trout plants improve the action, Dave Hurley said. New Melones and McClure bass and rainbows active, Ryan Cook reported. California Aqueduct stripers still taking baits, Bill Sterling said.

Roger’s remarks: The lure of lures and every other next-best thing

The other day I was going through my boat as well as looking at all my tackle, equipment and just plain ol’ accumulated junk. In a moment of clarity, I realized I had gone down the rabbit hole!

It began for me so simply a few decades ago: Get a pole, a few lures, head for some water and make a few casts. Catch some fish and repeat another day.

There was no real complexity to it back then, but as years passed, it became no longer enough to just go fishing; it became a race to ramp up rod, reel, lures, electronics, boat, accessories – even the right kind of glasses, shoes and clothes. I caught all my fish on just four lures the last several trips, but I had to be lugging at least a couple hundred lures worth $5,000-$7,000 plus the rest of the mess. What had happened?

You begin small, adding a needed lure or two to the tacklebox and you think you’ve arrived with the newest thing. Then the “more is better” philosophy hits. I began thinking about the colors I’m sure would work better, as well as the similar models I could be using before anyone else finds out about them. Of course, there’s the rest of “the necessaries,” too.

I’ve got trays full of certain lures in every flavor that were “can’t-miss” but never panned out much. Yet, I still haul these old lures around with me. I think it’s that “hope” thing, because they were pretty good for a short span – and you never know. Or so I tell myself!

I tend to go from one extreme to the other. At one point I’ve got lures all over my boat, then I step back and reorganize everything. My top lure trays are rated best, good, possible, hopeful and U never know. It only takes a few trips to get all the lures in the UNK tray mixed back into the general population.

What I’ve learned from going through this endless cycle of adding more and more versions of the latest and greatest lure is that it’s hard to just eat one chip. Tasting that first chip seems to lead to wanting to inhale the whole bag.

The quest to become a great angler while pursuing the dream of catching the fish of a lifetime spurs most of us on. It’s a calling that hasn’t changed much in centuries, one that still pulls sportsmen forward. Even if we act a little crazy at times. Never give up!

Roger George: [email protected], Rogergeorgeguideservice on Facebook and @StriperWars


Westside waterways

Striper 3 Catfish 2

Bill Sterling of the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno was out on the California Aqueduct on Saturday morning, and he said, “The stripers have become very lethargic and inactive; a few 16- to 20-inch striper have been caught baiting and waiting on anchovies. We didn’t catch any legal stripers, but there were six keepers taken near the next bridge.”

Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle indicated that there has been some life at the California Aqueduct for striped and largemouth bass with flukes, jigs, swimjigs, or wobble-head spoons. The small canals surrounding the aqueduct have been productive for largemouth bass. Omega Nguyen of Mega Bait and Tackle in Lathrop added, “The Delta Mendota Canal has been solid for catfish and striped bass with anchovies, sardines, or mackerel.”

In the south aqueduct in Kern County, the best action is close to the moving water near the headgates with small Keitech swimbaits, jerkbaits, or sardines, anchovies, or blood worms.

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

Eastman remains the best option of these two lakes which remain at near-minimal pool. Swimbait tossers from the banks are trying for a trophy largemouth due to the recent trout plants, but it has been several weeks since the plant, and the trout have either been eaten by the bass, removed by fishermen, or holding in the deepest part of the lake. A 10-pound largemouth was caught and released on Monday on a 2-inch swimbait on 4-pound fluorocarbon line near the Buoy Line. Hensley remains a ghost town with the exception of bluegill and crappie in the submerged brush with small jigs. Eastman rose slightly to 10% with Hensley dropping slightly to 15%.

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 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 1 Crappie 1

The tournament scene on the Mother Lode lakes is ramping up as 79 boats launched at Don Pedro during Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament Central Region event.

Don Pedro produced the heaviest limits of the two tournaments with 22 teams weighing in limits over 10 pounds with the team of Raymond Taylor and Ramon Pezqueda taking first at 15.55 pounds. They weighed in a big fish over 7 pounds, but since it had died, it could be added to their total weight but not qualify for big fish. There were a number of bass in the 2.5-pound range landed with the big fish at 3.52 pounds by the team of Bob Dickman and Rod Freitas.

Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford fished the BBT with his brother, Ruben, and he said, “Big fish are hard to come by at Pedro, but we caught over 30 bass as I’m on them, but we were just missing the one quality fish. The key is to slow way down in the 53-degree water, and I just worked one bank all day with Berserk jigs on a painfully slow presentation. The bass are plastered on the bottom, and my brother had to shorten the leader on his drop-shot to 5 to 6 inches as the 12- to 18-inch leader wasn’t getting bit. The bass all have dirt on their bellies, and it was a struggle for most of the boats.”

Planted rainbows are thick at depths from 9 to 12 feet with Rapalas along with shad-patterned spoons on lead core from the surface to 15 feet. There is plenty of bait at 120 feet, and a few king salmon have been dragged out of the depths. The lake rose slightly to 56%. 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 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

Crappie fishing remains solid for boaters with excellent electronics as the slabs are holding on certain submerged brush or trees. Garmin’s PanOptix Livescope has been an effective electronic to keep on the schools. Small Keitech swimbaits or Notorious Jigs have been most effective for the crappie. With the cold water, the bass are holding in deep water in the shallow lake, but they will be moving up with the clear and warm weather this week. Deep-diving crankbaits such as Norman’s DD-22’s or Strike King’s KVD 10XD’s along with big jigs are working best. 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. Catfishing is best with Triple S Dip bait, chicken livers, or cut baits coated with garlic spray. Planted trout can be found on various colors of Power Bait, Berkley Mice Tails, spoons, or spinners. Lake Isabella rose to 11%. Buena Vista remains fair at best for planted trout with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters, but anglers have to keep track of when the lake is planted since the bite slows quickly after the 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. Due to heavy planting over the past month, the upper Kern River has been solid for fly fishermen with nymphs such as BWO’s while spin casters are scoring with live crickets, salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, or small spoons such as Kastmasters. With the amount of snowpack, the river should remain viable for the coming months. The river at Kernville has dropped slightly to 245 cfs, but it is stable at 160 cfs 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

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

Gary Wasson, local bass fishing expert, said, “Finesse fishing is best at depths from 15 to 40 feet with plastics on the drop-shot or with jigs. Some bass will move into the shallows by next week with the warming trend.” The lake rose slightly to 16%. The Kaweah River dropped from 144 cfs to 130 cfs at Three Rivers.

Lake Success/Tule River

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “Bass fishing remains tough with the cold temperatures as fishermen are using slow presentation techniques to produce a bite. Plastics on a Texas-rig, or swimbaits on a slow roll are working best.” Wasson said, “The bass bite is very tough with the fish holding as deep as 45 feet. Some bass will move into the shallows by next week with the warming trend.” The lake rose slightly to 20%.

On the Tule, Stokke said, “The flows are perfect right now, and nymphing with a little weight and an indicator has been effective for fly fishermen. The ticket for spin casters is soaking a nightcrawler.”

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

Bass 3 Trout 3 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2

A 75-boat tournament was held on Saturday, but only four teams weighed in over 10-pound limits led by Jerrod Voight and Steven LaRussa at 10.62 pounds with the big fish at 2.90 pounds by the team of Brock Riggs and Blake Barker. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “The best action remains on the bottom at depths from 20 to 40 feet with G-Money Jigs with Lunker Daddy twin-tail trailer or with 3.5-inch Lunker Daddy tubes.” The Kerman Bass Club attracted 14 anglers on Saturday, weighing in a total of 39 bass with a 1.65-pound average. Planted trout have created a solid trolling bite near the dam with Kastmasters or similar shad-patterned spoons. The lake rose slightly to 27%, and the best ramp continues to be at Barrett Cove South.

Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Guide Service – 691-7008

McSwain Reservoir

Trout 2

The big trout plant last week really spurred on action from the banks in the normal locations of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and the peninsula around the marina with gold or blue/silver Kastmasters, garlic Power Bait, or nightcrawlers. Since the plant of 3,300 pounds of Calaveras Trout Farm rainbows, anglers have returned to the lake with the best action in the early mornings. Trollers continue to find quality rainbows in river arm near the 2nd Fence Line with blade/’crawler combinations or red Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler at depths to 20 feet. The lake rose slightly to 94%, and lake levels remain high throughout the year.

Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534

Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River

Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Bass 101 held an event on Saturday with the team of Garry Wasson and James Beasley finding an impressive limit at 15.77 pounds with a big fish at 5.70 landed by Beasley. This was the largest five-fish limit in recent memory. The best action remains on the bottom in the main lake around Finegold and Winchell Cove as the bait balls have formed in the area. Male bass are already cruising the banks in the river arm in preparation for an early spawn. With the fish in deep water, a good fizzing needle is necessary. The San Joaquin River dropped from 661 cfs to 441 cfs at Friant as water releases continue.

The Roosevelt High School Bass Fishing Club will be in action again on Sunday, March 6th for the Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT) is These tournaments are open to all valley high school students and to 7th and 8th 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 Spencer ([email protected] or 559-261-5296).

Sycamore Island is open Fridays through Sundays and State holidays until November 11. Seasonal hours of operation are 6:00 am to 5:30 pm January, February, March, October, and November; 6:00 am to 7:00 pm April and September, and 6:00 am to 8:30 pm May through August. Entry fees are $9.00 per vehicle and $5.00 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, Madera, CA.

The River Parkway Trust offers contactless payment for day-use passes online at The organization asks that guests follow current public health guidance regarding Covid-19. For more information about Sycamore Island, visit Or visit us on Facebook

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch

Bass 3 Crappie 1 Catfish 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 1

Cook said, “New Melones has been the most fun of all three Mother Lode reservoirs with some bass holding shallow around big rocks or wood inside of 20 feet while others are out between at 45 to 60 feet. There are loads of 4-inch sculpin in the lake, and the bass are feeding on the sculpin. The 3.5-inch Lunker Daddy tubes look just like a sculpin so this lure has been excellent along with the G-Money jigs with either a creature bait trailer or a Lunker Daddy double-tail trailer. We had landed largemouth bass to 5 pounds this week.”

Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported, “The bass bite has been all around the board this week with some days producing quantity while on other days, the bite has shut off. When the bite is on, plastics on a shaky head along with a jig with a Keitech swimbait is best for bass in the 2- to 3.5-pound range. Quick limits of planted rainbows are found rolling F7 or F9 Rapalas or Speedy Shiners from the surface to 27 feet at 3.5 mph in the main lake. The lake held at 41%, but numerous unmarked hazards remain throughout the lake.

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 Big Valley High School Anglers held their second event of the season at Pine Flat on Sunday, and teams from throughout northern and central California made the trek. High school fishing teams from Alhambra, Folsom, Berkeley, and Oakley came south to compete against the Fresno-area youth, and although the local teams came out on top, the Delta-area team of Tyler Hurney and Silas Jones from the East County High School Anglers with boat captain Pat Leiser demonstrated that they had the goods to work the deep-water bite.

Michael Spencer, club adviser for Fresno’s Roosevelt High School Bass Fishing Club, has organized the series of high school tournaments, forming the Big Valley High School Anglers to open up the competitive opportunities for all high school students in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Students from Bakersfield to Merced are welcome to join the Big Valley HSA as their primary focus is to allow youth to participate regardless of whether their high school has a fishing club.

Spencer said, “It was a tough bite, but the Fresno-based team of Nicholas Vang of Central East High School and Keonu Xiong of Washington Union High School with boat captain Vacha Vang took first with a five-fish limit at 9.86 pounds anchored by Vang’s big fish at 3.18 pounds. Vang and Xiong found their winning limit with finesse jigs around deep rock piles on main lake points on a slow presentation. The team of Jaiden Vang and Morgan Yoder of Edison High School with boat captain Dan Marshall followed up their win during our first tournament at Millerton with a second-place limit at 9.63 pounds. The great aspect to this tournament is that the two top teams came from surrounding high schools without bass clubs to participate in the event. This is a perfect example of what we are trying to build in the South Valley, providing outdoor opportunities for youth through the inclusion of the Big Valley High School Anglers. We couldn’t do this without the assistance of our boat captains who volunteer their time and boats to take the students out, but all fishing and decision-making is up to the high school students.”

Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The Yamamoto Crushed Goby 5-inch Senkos along with finesse plastics on green pumpkin, orange, or black/blue area also effective. A few trout trollers are pulling shad-patterned Kastmasters, Needlefish, or Speedy Shiners.” The lake held at 29%.

In the lower Kings, Bill Sterling of the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “Trout fishing is fair for those willing to stick it out until the planters bite in the late afternoons. It takes all day to get a limit.” Roostertails, Atomic Tubes, Trout Magnets, and Power Bait are all working around the bridges. The flows dropped from 631 to 544 cfs at Trimmer.

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 2

Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “In the O’Neill Forebay, the moss is starting to grow along the sides of the lake, and there is some algae forming on the surface. Blood worms, pile worms, or anchovies along with castable umbrella rigs such as Yumbrellas or G-Funks. Jigs or swimjigs are also working for striped bass.”

The main lake has risen from 42% to 44% this week with the O’Neill Forebay dropping from 86% to 84%. The water in the main lake is to the base of the rockwall along Highway 152.

Clements added, “Drifting jumbo minnows has been the top draw in Portuguese Cove while trollers continue to pull Lucky Craft Pointer 128s in Ghost Minnow or Duo Realis 130s in Neo Pearl. Umbrella rigs and Keitechs have also been effective.”

Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the overall bite in the main lake had been decent last week but the bite turned off again Saturday. “I guided three guests on Friday for 15 fish to 23 inches, but the bite totally shut off on Saturday in the stained water. Things seem to be all over the place and several minnow anglers told me they weren’t finding fish. The troll bite just shut down for us Saturday but I worked all day covering water to finally end up with over 15 to over 6 pounds we released, by closing. Water temps are about 54 degrees but I think the unusual water color, all the floating dead algae and only 4 to 5 feet of visibility are having an impact.”

Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of 905-2954

High Sierra

Bass Lake

Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 0

Planted rainbow trout remain the highlight as few bass fishermen are launching at the lake. Kastmasters or similar heavy spoons along with blade/’crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger ran from the surface to 20 feet are producing. The swimbait action for quality spotted or largemouth bass should pick up with the recent trout plants. The lake rose to 53% but is still below the comfort range for launching a large boat at the public dock.

Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool

The gates at Kaiser Pass will not reopen until Memorial Day at the earliest. Edison is at 13%, Florence has dropped to 3%, and Mammoth Pool is at 72%.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake

Kokanee 2 Trout 2

There is still snow at the lake’s edge, but the launch ramp at Shaver remains open. Only a few boats have been launching, and the best action for holdover rainbows is in the back of the lake near Tunnel or Stevenson creeks. This is prime time for big brown trout at Huntington, but the secretive brown trout society will not give it up under any circumstances. Shaver’s launch ramp conditions can be checked via webcam at Huntington dropped slightly to 74% with Shaver holding at 30%.

Todd Wittwer – Guide Service 288-8100; Roger George Guide Service; Shaver Lake Sports 841-2740, Tom Oliveira – Tom Oliveira Fishing – 802-8072


Trout 0

The gate at McKinley Grove Road was closed on December 1st. Information is available at

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361


Half Moon Bay

Striper 2 White seabass 1 Crab 2 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 3

It’s more of the same out of Half Moon Bay with the New Captain Pete available for crab/sand dab/Petrale sole trips. The beaches both north and south of Pacifica have been producing varieties of surf perch on Berkley Camo or Sand Worms along with sand crabs. The occasional striped bass has been landed from the surf. The local beaches and Pacifica Pier have developed their only special group of anglers who toss various snares for up to limits of crab. Anglers can check the status of the pier via There is also a live feed from a web cam available at

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

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Striper 2 White seabass 2 Crab 3 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 3

The best location for sand dab/Petrale sole remains out of Monterey, and Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing and Whale Watching said, “You really have to watch the weather on these trips since the sole do not bite when there is a big wind or swell. We are fishing in deep water at the edge of the canyon around 350 feet, and we need calm weather for success. Our sand dab/crab trips have been productive with as many as 40 Dungeness crab along with ‘loads of sand dabs.”

Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “Besides “Crabs ’n Dabs,” the most consistent fishing around the Monterey Bay this time of year is surfcasting for big barred perch. Yes, most the fish are on the small side and at least half the surfcasters we know practice catch and release so it’s not necessarily a freezer-filling proposition. But it does take skill, luck, and dedication to get good at surf fishing. Best thing is, the opportunity lies at any beach at the end of the street. Becoming aware of surfperch habits and using correct gear in a practical fashion can help solve the daily puzzle of “Where are the perch and how can I catch them?” The more we practice surfcasting, the more we enjoy it.

Last week we discussed location and condition because. Look for holes, throughs, and rip currents, deeper spots where perch are most likely to be feeding. Fishing around the higher tides is usually best because there’s more water to hold feeding fish close to shore. Sunset and sunrise are good times to fish as they seem to prefer lower-light conditions. Overcast days provide lower light for the fish as does standing whitewater that extends over the deep spots as the waves roll in.

Almost any rod can be used catch fish from the surf. We prefer a long spinning rod with a fast tip. A 10- to 20-pound rating is just fine. Steelhead drift rods make excellent perch catchers. They are long enough to raise the tip and clear your line from incoming white water, keeping your line taut. Keeping all slack out of the line is important because perch usually don’t grab bait, they nibble. When we feel that slightest nibble, we halt our slow retrieve and let the fish play with the bait until we’re confident the fish has the bait in its mouth before setting the hook. We spool up a 2500- to 3000 size spinning reel with 15-pound braid for the main line, then run a Carolina rig using 12-pound mono for the leader. A sliding egg sinker with a bead to protect the knot at the swivel completes the setup. Leaders can be as short as 18 inches or as long as 7 feet. We typically run a four-foot leader that may shrink to three feet as we retie hooks. As for bait, most agree that GULP! 2-inch Sandworms are on top of the list. The worms come in a variety of colors, Camo or blood colors are our favorites, though the new “Bright Penny” version works well as does the “Natural.” Other baits can include organics such as live sand crabs, shrimp pieces, or fresh mussel meat.

Swimming grubs would be number two on our list, and there is a plethora of brands out there. Generally, any 1.5-, 2- or 3-inch grub should work just fine. Popular colors include Motor Oil red or gold flake, root beer, and pure or purple haze white grubs. Grubs can be found with either curly tails or paddle tails. Either way, the technique we’ve found best for retrieving grubs is to keep them moving. Those little tails must be swimming to attract a bite. When the fish makes a grab, keep reeling. Don’t stop as the fish will usually follow and hopefully make a firmer bite on your lure.

Bigger lures can work as well. Many experienced perch anglers use larger lures as a technique to avoid catching too many little fish. The bigger more aggressive perch are more likely to attack a larger lure. Most popular around Monterey Bay and in Southern California are the Lucky Craft 110 or 115 stick baits. These are diving plugs that float when you stop reeling which helps to keep from dragging bottom and picking up debris. Our favorite color for the 110’s is the sardine color, with dark spots along the side.

Again, when a fish hits the lure, keep reeling, but maybe a bit slower. Don’t be afraid to firmly set the hook. Calissa Lures make a line of 110’ and 115’s that work equally well. The difference is, you have to keep Calissas moving as they will sink if you stop your retrieve. One- or two- inch Kastmaster lures work surprisingly well for enticing a big perch bite. Again, a variety of colors are available, and our favorites are silver, silver/blue and gold. Using these bigger lures also increases the chance of hooking an “intended bycatch.” That is, larger fish such as halibut or stripers that can be found close to the sand, especially in the summer months.”

On the Capitola Wharf, Capitola Bait and Bait is open 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

It’s been a long wintertime in San Francisco Bay, but the waters of the south bay and San Pablo Bay are finally showing some signs of life. The striped bass, after being missing in action on the rocks last summer, remain a mystery, but the habits of the striped bass are always hard to predict. With their continued absence, there is concern as to where the stripers are currently hiding. Herring spawns have been showing up along the San Francisco City shorelines, and the coming full moon and big tide should bring out the largest spawn of the year.

Ed Chin of Bay Tackle in El Cerrito said, “We have been out there, but the striped bass haven’t been. The wind has either been blowing too much or the tides have been over 6.5 feet, really limiting action. You can’t go by the calendar right now as the weather has been determining what is going on – and it’s very inconsistent due to the weather. There were a few herring spawns at Sausalito last week with a few more at Angel Island, and it should be this weekend or the next as the herring like to spawn on the biggest tide movements. We are still waiting for our first large spawn off of Richmond. One of our customers goes out diligently every day, and he always comes back with a bucket of herring, but he has to work very hard. Sturgeon is picking up in San Pablo Bay, but there have been very few striped bass so far.”

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael is intrigued by the commercial fishermen still catching a few halibut in front of the Berkeley Pier, even white sea bass. Ross Peterson recently landed two white sea bass at 31 and 18 pounds on Loch Lomond mudsuckers which Fraser touts as the best bait. They will have live grass shrimp, live ghost shrimp, live mudsucker, and lamprey eel in the shop. Pile worms and blood worms are out of the question with the storms on the East Coast.

Ron Koyasako of Nautilus Excursions, aka ‘The Ghost Whisperer’ is not surprised about the presence of white sea bass, stating, “These fish haven’t left the region, and our limiting factor last year was the absence of live bait. If we are able to have a supply of live bait in October into November this year, the white sea bass action should be solid.”

In San Pablo Bay, Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters has been searching for a sturgeon for weeks, and his efforts finally paid off on Friday with a 50-inch diamondback on frozen ghost shrimp on the outgoing tide near the Pumphouse. It was one bite, one fish, and they went out the following day to fish the long outgoing tide, but the sturgeon were unwilling to bite even once.

Keith Nguyen of the Lost Anchovy said, “There has been news of a herring spawn at Agua Vista Pier on Sunday starting around 2 pm. I’m done for the season but for those who have not yet gotten in a spawn, here is your chance. Remember there is a two 5- gallon bucket daily limit. Nguyen has an excellent Facebook page to follow regarding Bay Area shoreline and kayak happenings at The Lost Anchovy.

In the south bay, Captain Steve Gutierrez of Deadliest Kast Sport Fishing put in one keeper sturgeon at 42 inches on Sunday while releasing an 8.5-foot diamondback that breached the water three times. Ghost shrimp has been the bait of choice, and he said, “The water temperature dropped back down to 51.2 degrees after a high of 53 last week. This could be the reason for the slower action.”

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

Call: Virg’s Landing (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing (805) 595-4100; Morro Bay Landing



Bass 2 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2

The coming weekend not only brings a battle between the Rams and the Bengals during the annual shutdown of the county known as the Super Bowl, but it also brings the 38th Annual Foundation Sportsman’s Club 38th Original Sturgeon, aka “Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby, held out of McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point from February 12/13th. This is a target-length derby with the target-length announced at 7:00 on Saturday morning, paying 7 places for the same target-length on both Saturday and Sunday. The entry fee is $40.00/angler with a deadline of 7:00 a.m. on February 12th. There is no fishing allowed on Friday, February 11th.

If the participation is similar to last year with over 900 entrants, the top prize money will approach $7000 for first and $5000 for second on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Sacramento side of the Delta will be packed with boats running to and fro in search of sturgeon, and many will reach to ‘radio fish’ by blowing past boats on the anchor, killing any hope of bite in the shallows. It’s a good weekend to stay off the radio as much as possible as the radio channels are traditionally highjacked by a few individuals during the weekend, spewing their personal agenda.

The target-length for both days will be announced via VHF radio at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., and many participants will fish throughout the entire 30 hours of the event in search of a significant payday.

The Foundation Sportsmen’s Club started with a group of anglers in Bay Point who needed a place to go, and they rebuilt a dilapidated bait shop for their clubhouse. According to the club’s history, shortly after the club was formed, a young man named Johnny Filbeck lost his battle with cancer, and since he was a huge football fan, the club members formed a 501 (c) 3 foundation to establish a scholarship fund in Johnny’s name to help high school students from the Bay Point area who participated in sports during their four years of high school to attend college. Major funding for the scholarships come from the ‘Super Bowl’ Sturgeon Derby.

The derby has the following rules:

ALL persons on boat must be entered into the Derby – No bank fishermen

ALL fish must be measured at the Sportsmen’s Club at McAvoy Harbor in Bay Point

Fish must be alive with no damage to the head or tail and tagged with a Department of Fish and Wildlife Sturgeon tag.

For every sturgeon kept, you must fish with one less person for that day.

ANY violation of California Fish and Game laws will disqualify the entire boat

Derby updates are given on VHF Radio Channel 68

All persons on boat that are cash winners must possess a valid ID and may be required to pass a polygraph test to claim prize.

Signups only at the Foundation Sportsman’s Club at McAvoy’s Harbor at 1001 McAvoy Road, Bay Point, CA 94565 or by mail at Foundation Sportsman’s Club, P.O. Box 5103, Bay Point, CA 94565. Funds from this derby are awarded for scholarships and other charitable causes by the club.

In preparation for the upcoming sturgeon derbies, anglers are advised to make bait reservations at their local bait shops to ensure that bait is available for the event. The shops will need to order a sufficient amount of bait and reserving bait is the best method for helping both shop and fisherman.

There is improvement in the water clarity in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin sides of the California Delta, but with the cold nights, the water temperatures have only ticked up slightly. With the daytime temperatures in the 70’s and evening temperatures dropping into the high 30’s and low 40’s, the 30-degree swing in temperature within 24 hours continues to confuse the largemouth bass. The Sacramento side will be very busy starting on Saturday morning until noon on Sunday with the ‘Super Bowl’ Sturgeon Derby, and if you are not fishing the derby, it may be best to stick to the quieter waters of the San Joaquin. Largemouth bass limits are inching up with the American Bass Association event on Sunday with the winning weight rising to 15.55 pounds, a major improvement over the 8-pound winning limit a month ago.

Sturgeon remain the top bet, and fishing is starting to pick up again in Suisun Bay. Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg Marina said, “The fish are starting to bite again, but it’s not wide open as you have to really watch your rod tip at all times since the sturgeon are biting so light that you can easily miss the bite. We ended up with a few slot-fish, an oversized, some shakers, and a few missed opportunities today working at depths from 15 to 30 feet on both tides. I tried deep water at 80 feet, but there was nothing going on down deep. There is still quite a bit of debris on the surface, and it is a matter of fighting through the grass. We stuck it out through the grass today, and we were rewarded with a good day.” Gamez put in three slot-limit sturgeon near Port Chicago on Sunday as even the ‘weekend warrior’ six-packs were able to find a good bite in the area.

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg went east on Sunday to set up at the mouth of Montezuma Slough near Collinsville. He said, “We had a tough day with missing the only 5 bites that took place. There were loads of fish at the mouth of Monty, but they didn’t want to bite. I got a call from Joey Gamez to come down to Port Chicago when the bite was ‘off the chain,’ but I had just set up on a gang of fish. We stayed out an extra hour to fish the incoming tide because I knew they would bite. However, we missed the only bites we had during this time.” Mitchell had been averaging at least a legal fish per day up to Sunday with two slot-limit fish on Thursday.

In the north Delta, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The water continues to clear up in the main Sacramento River, and striped bass fishing is best with pile worms, blood worms, or sardines coated with garlic spray. There are a few sturgeon coming through with ghost shrimp/pile worm combinations or with lamprey eel.” Further north, in the Port of Sacramento, Rick Tietz of Blade Runner Spoons took Tennessee-transplant, Captain Mike Gravert, out for a spooning session, and they limited out within quick order with school-sized striped bass. Gravert has assimilated to his new home by sporting a Bill Dance hat.

Also in the north Delta, Alan Fong of Alan Fong Outdoors predicted the striped bass will come flooding through within the next few weeks with the temperatures rising into the 70’s and even the 80’s.

Cut baits remain the best bet on the Sacramento side, and there have been some large striped bass in excess of 20 pounds caught and kept near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge on frozen herring and also off of the Eckley Pier in Crockett.

Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait will be our reporter on the scene at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor next weekend for the Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby, and he reported good striped bass action from the shorelines. They have a page of bait reservations for the derby already, and with the limited amount of mud, grass, and ghost shrimp available, anglers need to reserve their bait with their favorite tackle shops.

On the San Joaquin River, Jeff Soo Hoo of Soo Hoo’s Sport Fishing went exploring on the San Joaquin above the Antioch Bridge, and he said, “We picked up five keepers to 21 inches on the outgo tide by drifting minnows. I hit a number of spots to find these fish. It’s still very early for the spring run, and the water temperature has dropped to 48 degrees from a high of 52 last week due to the cold nights. There is a ton of floating hyacinth in the river with huge patches here and there. We worked below the bridge on the incoming tide, but we only found undersized stripers. The water is stained, but it’s not stained enough to keep the stripers from finding the bait.”

For largemouth bass, the American Bass Association held a tournament on Sunday out of Big Break Marina, and the team of Steve Tragoutsis and Stuart Bodwin took first at 15.55 pounds. One of these anglers hadn’t competed in a tournament in 17 years.

Dan Mathisen of Dan Mathisen Outdoors reported the best largemouth action has been on the south-facing banks in the afternoons where the sun has warmed the water temperature to 51 degrees. He said, “The bass are starting to eat a bit on the sunny banks, and the 6- or 7-inch black/blue Senkos continue to be a top bait. If you have the patience to work a frog, you aren’t going to get a lot of bites, but you will find some quality fish. A black/white or black/blue frog will work best as the water is stained. The dark water is a bonus as it warms up faster with the sediment in the water trapping the sun’s heat.”

In the south Delta below the Mossdale Bridge, Omega Nguyen of MegaBait and Tackle in Lathrop said, “The south San Joaquin remains extremely slow with most of our anglers heading to the big water near Pittsburg and Rio Vista for sturgeon or going to the local lakes for trout or crappie. There are only a few small striped bass and catfish taken in the south San Joaquin right now.”

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 3 Trout 2

There has been minimal change at all of the coastal lakes. At Nacimiento, he spotted bass bite is fair at best with the best action at depths to 30 feet with plastics on the drop-shot or dart head along with spoons when shad schools are located. White bass remain MIA, but they should start schooling up around the creek arms along with the river mouth. The water temperature continues to rise, and it is in the mid-50’s throughout the day. The lake held at 29%, but it has risen over 50 feet since the end of October. There is floating debris throughout the lake, and navigation requires extreme caution. A webcam of the lake is available at At Lopez, the best bass action is on the bottom with plastics on a drop-shot, shakey head, or Ned-rig along with jigs at depths to 20 feet. The lake remains low, and launching a boat requires some patience. Trout plants have yet to be scheduled. It is best to contact the marina at (805) 489-1006 for the latest launch ramp status as it could change any time. A webcam of the lake is available at At Santa Margarita, bass action remains slow, but Keitech swimbaits or deep-diving crankbaits are the top reaction baits while plastics on the drop-shot or jigs are the most consistent for numbers. Shad schools are thick in the main river channel, and the bass are loading up on the shad schools. Could be time for dropping spoons or ice jigs in the main channel. The water temperature remains cold in the 50-degree range. Catfishing is fair with mackerel soaked in garlic spray, but there is the intermittent decent whiskerfish landed from the shorelines. A webcam of the lake is available at At San Antonio, the lake held at 11%, but the water clarity continues to improve. A few crappie are taken from the shorelines with minijigs while catfishing is fair with cut baits soaked in garlic. The bass bite remains very slow.

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.


Tournament results

Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournament –– February 5th: 1st – Raymond Taylor/Ramon Pezqueda – 15.55 pounds; 2nd – David Grant/Robie Gaither – 12.86; 3rd – Bryan Holmes/Evan Price – 12.78.

McClure – Kerman Bass Club – February 5th: 1st – Mitch Melikian – 10.19 pounds (Big Fish – 3.46); 2nd – Rusty Brown – 9.71; 3rd –Darren Graef– 6.46.

McClure – February 5th: 1st – Jerrod Voight/Steven LaRussa – 10.62 pounds; 2nd – Zach Schmidt/Levi Crain – 10.11; 3rd –Anthony Souza/Matt Frazier – 10.04.

Kaweah –Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments – February 5th: 1st – Brandon Turner/Seth McLain – 14.71 pounds (Big Fish – 4.04 pounds); 2nd –Josh and Caanon Adams – 10.63; 3rd – Gary Scott/Jerry Williams– 9.97.

Delta/Big Break Marina – American Bass Association – February 6th: 1st – Steve Tragoutsis/Stuart Bodwin – 15.55 pounds; 2nd – Dave Newton/Marc Young – 12.76; 3rd –Armando and Edgar Luzuriaga – 12.61 (Big Fish – 6.73).

Millerton –Bass 101 – February 6th: 1st –Gary Wasson/James Beasley – 15.78 pounds (Big Fish – 5.70); 2nd –Rod and Scott Burns – 12.42; 3rd –Steve/Darin – 11.17.

Pine Flat – Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT) – February 6th: 1st – Nicholas Vang/Keonu Xiong – 9.86 pounds (Big Fish – 3.18); 2nd – Jaiden Vang/Morgan Yoder – 9.63; 3rd –Tyler Hurney/Silas Jones – 8.94.

Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments Youth Division – February 5th: 1st – Trenton/Josh Housey – 4.10 pounds (Big Fish – 2.51 pounds); 2nd – Cade/Randy Bradford – 2.84; 3rd – Bear/Jr. Demacablin – 1.58.

Upcoming tournaments (subject to change)

February 12th

Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Nor Cal Bass

New Melones – Anglers Press Outdoors/Tri Valley Bassmasters

Don Pedro – American Bass Association

McClure – Best Bass Tournaments

Pine Flat – Bakersfield Bass Club

Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments

February 13th

Delta/Contra Costa County – American Bass Association

McClure – Fresno Bass Club/Kings VIII Bass Club

February 18th

Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club

February 19th

Delta/New Holland Riverside Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors

Amador – Nor Cal Bass

Don Pedro – Kerman Bass Club/Christian Bass League

Santa Margarita – American Bass Association

Lopez- San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers

February 20th

Delta/Big Break Marina– American Bass Association

New Hogan – Modesto Ambassadors

New Melones – California Bass Federation

McClure – Riverbank Bass Anglers/Kings River Bass Club

Millerton – Bass 101

February 26th

McClure – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

Kaweah – Sierra Bass Club

February 27th

Delta/Ladd’s Marina – California Bass Federation

Lake Camanche – Nor Cal High School Bass Fishing

March 6th

Millerton – Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)

April 3rd

Pine Flat – Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)

April 24th

Delta – Big Valley Region of the California High School Student Angler Federation (CAHSATT)

June 5th

Delta – Major League Fishing California High School State Championship