Fishing report for week of May 16-22 | Spotted bass in Valley lakes, halibut in Bay
By Roger George And Dave Hurley
Special to The Bee
May 15, 2018 12:29 PM
Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.
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Delta shad, bass, striper and sturgeon bites going, Alan Fong said. Don Pedro trout bite “red hot,” Monte Smith reported. Lake Success bass and trout fishing taking off, Chuck Stokke said. McClure spotted bass fishing spectacular, Kevin Cheek said. Millerton spotted bass bite “wide open,” Merritt Gilbert reported. New Melones touting bass and trout action, John Liechty said. Shaver Lake kokanee limits “the norm,” Dick Nichols reported. Wishon pumping out rainbows, Chuck Crane said. San Francisco halibut on a tear, Mike Aughney reported.
2-Have to work hard
4-Fish jumpin’ in boat
Delta Mendota Canal and Sloughs
Striper 2 Catfish 2
Related stories from Fresno Bee
Few reports from northern section of the California Aqueduct, and fewer and fewer anglers are targeting striped bass at either the San Luis Reservoir or the O’Neill Forebay. In the south aqueduct in Kern County, Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “Stripers are the story, but most of the linesides are undersized in the 15- to 17-inch range. Sardines, blood worms, and lug worms are the top baits, but tube baits are accounting for the larger fish. Catfish continue to be a possibility with bait, but the moss is starting to build up, making for more difficult conditions.”
Javen Jimenez, 11, of Clovis caught a 26-inch, 11.55-pound largemouth bass at Eastman Lake on April 2, 2018. Courtesy of Jesse Jimenez
Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The numbers of largemouth bass are decent, but the overall size has dropped from the 8- and 9-pound fish a few weeks ago to the 6- and 7-pound bass now. Most of the action remains on the bottom with jigs, lizards, or 6- to 8-inch plastics on a Carolina-rig. There have been a few swimbait bass, but boat pressure remains high. A 4-fish 20-pound limit is expected from this weekend’s 40 boat kayak tournament. There are trout showing up for trollers working deep with blade/crawler combinations or spoons in the main lake.” The lake is releasing water, and it dropped from 80 to 79 percent this week.
Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 3
Gilbert said, “5- to 6-inch crappie are the highlight of this lake, and Fresno-area fishermen continue to put in 25-fish limits of small crappie on Gulp! Minnows or minijigs in Electric Chicken.” The Kerman Bass Club held a tournament with 7 boats on Saturday with winning limit at 19.17 pounds by the team of Mitch Melikian and Darren Graef while the team of Walt Lee and Butch Farmer landed the big fish at 6.85 pounds. Catfish to 4 pounds can be taken on cutbaits or stinkbaits. The lake dropped from 51 to 49 percent.
Lake Don Pedro
Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2
Trout trolling at Don Pedro continues to be ‘red hot,’ but the good news is the appearance of fat, healthy kokanee to 12 inches for the first time this season.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “We are catching a lot of fish right now, and Joe Askamit of Joefish Guide Service and I took out 7 anglers from the Jolly Hooker’s Fishing Club this week for spectacular action. Askamit’s boat hooked 4 kokanee, bringing one to the net while we also picked up a few kokanee. These fish are fat and healthy at 12 inches in length. We limited out on rainbows, and the trout are clean with no copepods. It was action all day with 30 to 35 fish landed using ExCel spoons behind a Sling Blade for the rainbows at 20 to 60 feet, and the smaller fish remain deeper. There is so much grass and debris on the surface from the lake continuing to rise, and the larger trout are filling up with feed washing off of the shorelines. I switched from my custom fast-trolling spoons to slow up the presentation this week, and it paid off with easy limits of rainbows every trip. The surface temperature has risen to the 68 to 70-degree range, and the shad must be finally hatching right now as my transom was loaded with 3/8th -inch shad. These were the smallest shad I have ever seen.”
Few bass reports, but the Best Bass Tournament is holding an event this weekend, and anglers will be pre-fishing all week long.
The lake held at 93 percent.
Lake Isabella/Bakersfield area
Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2
Pete Cormier of Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield said, “There hasn’t been much change this week although fewer fishermen have been heading up to Lake Isabella over the past few days. There are still small crappie to be had in the South Fork near the sunken cages with live minnows or minijigs along with catfish and the occasional bass or trout.” The lake rose from 45 to 46 percent this week. In the upper Kern River, the trout bite remains decent with live crickets, salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, or Panther Martins for planted rainbows holding in the deeper pools. The lower river below Lake Isabella is kicking out smallmouth bass along with the occasional catfish and planted rainbow trout. The local lakes are producing bluegill, crappie, and bass with Lake Ming being particularly productive with even holdover rainbow trout. Buena Vista is best for crappie at night along with catfish and bluegill. In the high country of the Kern River, Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville said, “The Golden Trout Pack Station still has slots open for the Kern this summer, and the year is starting out very promising.”
Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2
The NewJen Bass Tournaments held an event on the lake on Sunday with 19 boats for a winning limit at 11.55 pounds and a big fish at 5.19 pounds. Kaweah is known for big fish, but they were absent on this date as there are many places to hide with the high water conditions. The lake has risen from 90 to 94 percent this week.
Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212
Bass 3 Trout 3 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2
Chuck Stokke said, “The lake is full, and bass fishing is going to be excellent. Senkos and Brush Hogs have been working well, and the action should be getting better as the fish transition into post-spawn with the warmer weather.” The lake rose from 64 to 65 percent. In the Tule River, Stokke said, “The river is on fire with dry flies, and all sections are excellent with stimulators and ant patterns. I fished on both Saturday and Sunday and had two excellent days even with the cloud cover. The river is flowing high but very fishable. I recommend that anglers wear waders due to the cold water, and you must use caution and be safe!”
Bass 4 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2
Spotted bass action is red hot with Kevin Cheek, director of the Mother Lode Best Bass Tournaments, reporting 100 to 150 fish days with small swimbaits, 7-inch Senkos, or large River2Sea Swavers. He said, “The numbers are impressive, but the quality is limited although the winning team posted over 20 pounds including two pushing 8 pounds with the 3rd place team landing the other big fish of the tournament at 9.37 pounds. You could pretty much throw anything out there. The majority of bass are post-spawn, but there are still fish on the beds.” Live crawdads are available at Lake McSwain Marina, and they are also producing spotted bass. The lake rose from 90 to 91 percent.
Trout plants continue on a semi-regular basis, and shore anglers are scoring with Roostertails, Panther Martins, trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, live minnows, or silver/blue Kastmasters. The lake is at normal levels, and trollers are pulling shad-patterned Speedy Shiners for the rainbows that have migrated up the river arm.
Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2
Millerton Lake is the go-to spot for numbers of spotted bass as 30 to 40 fish days are the norm. The reaction bite is heating up with a variety of lures, and it is a good location to take a child for action.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “It is ‘wide open’ at Millerton right now, but there haven’t been many fish over 2.25 pounds. The ripbait bite has been really good, and one angler released over 30 bass ripping in a few hours. Mega Bass, Duo Realis, Rapalas, and Lucky Craft ripbaits have been flying off of our shelves, and Sexy Shad or similar shad-patterns are the top selections. Senkos and crankbaits are also working, and there are a few topwater fish in the evenings, but most anglers are tossing ripbaits.
Millerton rose from 83 to 85 percent this week.
Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474
Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 2
There is some optimism for the upcoming kokanee season at New Melones as the first of the landlocked sockeye salmon have made an appearance. 2017 was the year of the big kokanee, but the fish were few and far between, but there is some hope for this year based on the limited action of the past week.
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Gary Burns of “Take it to the Limit ” Guide service came through in the past week, landing a couple kokanee to get the season off to a start. Burns has been searching for kokanee for the past month, using primarily kokanee gear to land rainbow trout, and he finally found what he was looking for. Kevin Ogg landed a kokanee trolling between the dam and the spillway with Paulina Peak’s tackle at a depth from 30 to 60 feet. Trout fishing has also picked up with rainbows from 3 to 7 pounds taken from both the shoreline and from boats. Will Cunningham of Vallecito scored a limit of rainbows from the bank with nightcrawlers while trollers have been working the upper 30 feet from Glory Hole Point over to the spillway or the Highway 49 Bridge with chrome Super Dupers, Needlefish in Cop Car, or chartreuse Blue Fox Vibrax with black stripe behind a dodger.”
Burns said, “The water temperature has reached 70 degrees, and the shad are stacking up. We landed two big rainbow from 4 to 5.47 pounds this week at 34 feet along with two brown at 60 feet rolling shad. The kokanee came from 45 to 55 feet with the Paulina Peak Wickiup Spinner hoochie behind various dodgers.”
For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The bass bite on New Melones has been really good. The water temperature is approaching 70-degrees and the springtime spawn is fading. Post-spawn fish are feeding on shad, baby bass, crappie and bluegill making reaction type baits a good choice. Try using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and ripbaits to draw aggressive strikes. The topwater fishing has been hot and cold. It can go from catching a fish cast after cast to struggling for a swirl. Finesse presentations never fail and continue to produce quality fish. Shakey heads, drop-shots and wacky rigs will be tied on for most days.”
Catfishing remains slow, but crappie are taken near structure with live minnows or minijigs.
The lake dropped from 86 to 85 percent.
The San Joaquin River gorge is a scenic part of Fresno County with a hiking trail and footbridge that crosses the river near Auberry. See the area from a unique perspective in this aerial drone footage. Craig Kohlruss[email protected]
Pine Flat Reservoir/
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 1 King salmon1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2
At Pine Flat, Gilbert said, “The bass bite is also good for numbers, but similar to Millerton, there haven’t been a lot of big fish. There are still some bass on beds, and it is easy to come through with an 8- to 9-pound limit. The reaction bite is also improving with a variety of lures. There are still a few crappie to be had around Deer Creek and above Trimmer with minijigs in Electric Chicken or chartreuse along with 1-inch Gulp! Minnows. The crappie bite isn’t what it was three to four weeks ago, but there are still a few slabs to 10-inches taken. Trout trolling is good for some and tough for others, but success is found on Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler or Apex lures in Kevorkian or blue/silver at depths from 20 to 30 feet in the main lake or just under the surface up the river arm. Crappie are on the slow side with live minnows or minijigs, but the size is best in the area at 9 to 10 inches around Deer Creek or up the river.” The lake rose from 87 to 89 percent this week.
San Luis Reservoir
and O’Neill Forebay
Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2
Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, ”The troll bite for striped bass has slowed and the constant wind during the week made launching impossible with the high wind conditions. When the wind is down, stripers can be taken near the bottom with jumbo minnows near the Trash Racks and the mouth of Portuguese Cove. Bank fishermen are finding some large stripers in the early mornings or evenings with Huddleston swimbaits or Lucky Craft 128s.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said that the wind has been a big issue with the lake being closed most of the time this last week. “The water is falling and the lake is now 31 feet from the top. We are getting into the windy time of the year with the coastal cooling and Valley heating causing an inland flow of air through the pass. A lot of anglers have chosen to fish the other lakes right now since there are some good bites and you don’t know what kind of wind you’re going to get at San Luis. “ George said.
The lake dropped from 84 to 81 percent with increased water releases. In the forebay, small striped bass are the norm with blood worms, pile worms, anchovies, or sardines near Check 12 or the Highway 152 Bridge. The bridge has been the top area as the water is pumping out of the small impoundment.
The main lake from 84 to 81 percent with increased water releases.
Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 1
Merritt Gilbert said, “Bass fishing is solid for spots to 2 pounds with ripbaits, crankbaits, plastics on the drop-shot, or Senkos. A 6-pound largemouth was released this week, and there is a mixture of spots and largemouth bass. The high water has the fish holding near the docks. The trout bite has been fair at best after last weekend’s annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby Trout with over 1500 participants. The lake has risen from 96 to 97 percent this week.”
Interested anglers should be checking road conditions as the traditional opening date for Kaiser Pass is Memorial Day Weekend. The reservoirs are rising with Edison at 50, Florence at 95, and Mammoth Pool at 101 percent.
Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000
Kokanee 3 Trout 2
Kokanee success has been limited to a few select reservoirs so far this year, and Shaver Lake remains the best and only option in the southern section of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “I think limits are the norm, and we have limited for the boat every trip this year, including Saturday when Rob Nobles of Oakhurst and his 12-year old son. John, picked up a couple limits. We still find the best action from the Point to Black Rock at 28 feet deep, but others are having equal success near the dam and Sierra Marina at various depths. We have been using orange and clear Apex, and Dick’s Mountain hoochies in pink, tipped with corn behind Mountain Dodgers. 2 to 3 browns per trip in the 14- to 15-inch range are common, and trophy-sized trout continue to be caught both from boat and shore. I took out David Coliver of Shaver Lake and Dave Barry of Tollhouse on Monday for limits of kokanee including a trophy trout using pink Mountain hoochies. The trophies released by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Program released around a 1,000 of the big bow’s last month, and they have spread quickly through out the lake.”
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service picked up a couple of limits within a few hours running Rocky Mountain Tackle’s pink glitter hoochies behind an Apocalypse dodger, the Cotton Candy hoochie behind a pink Moonshine dodger, or Dick’s new Little Shaver micro-hoochie behind his Mountain dodger at depths from 28 to 36 feet.
Steve Santoro of Fish Box Charters has also starting his guide season on the lake, and he said, “The fishing has been great with 3-year old kokanee to 14 inches along with trophy trout to 4 pounds on white hoochies behind a silver Sling Blade or orange Apex lures behind a dodger at 3 to 4 colors of leadcore.”
Bank anglers are having success on planters near the Sierra Marina, but they too have traveled about the lake with many being near the dam and Point.
Shaver held at 50 percent, and the new launch ramp at the Sierra Marina will be accessible when water levels rise. The auxiliary launch ramp is functional at the present time.
At Huntington Reservoir, Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The plant at Huntington has paid dividends for both bank and boat anglers. Reports of limits or near limits near the boat ramp and near inlets have been regular occurrences. The weekends have been the most popular time.”
Huntington rose from 91 to 96 percent this week.
Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Kokanee.net Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937; Tom Oliveira Fishing 802-8072
Wishon Reservoir is on its third weekend of angler access, and the recent Department of Fish and Wildlife plant has spurred on action from the banks and from boats. The road to Courtright remains closed, but it is anticipated to open by the Friday, May 25.
Chuck Crane of the Wishon Village RV Park and Store said, “At Wishon, trout fishing has been solid from the shoreline along both sides of the day with trout dough bait in pink or chartreuse while the mouth of Short Hair Creek is producing the larger rainbows to 20 inches with Thomas Buoyants in brass, RoosterTail spinners, or trout dough bait in the same colors. Trollers are working the far side of the lake at depths from the surface to 15 feet with Speedy Shiners or nightcrawlers behind a small flasher. Everyone is catching fish right and left now due to the recent plant. The lake is high, and launching a boat is easy. Courtright is also nearly full at 6 feet from the top, and the launch ramp will be ready when the road opens. The Wishon Village Store is open, and we have stocked up with everything an angler could need for Wishon, Courtright, and the creeks.”
Anglers need to check with the Sierra National Forest for road conditions at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sierra/home/?cid=stelprdb5399344.
Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361
Half Moon Bay
Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Crab 2 Surf perch 3 Salmon 2
Out of Half Moon Bay, the limiting factor for salmon has been the long 22-mile run south below Pigeon Point to the legal fishing zone, and few private boats are making the run while party boats have been limited to weekends due to interest.
Captain Michael Cabanas was out on Wednesday, and he reported the brown water and whales had moved up the coast north of Pigeon Point, but the ocean conditions look good throughout. Captain Dale on the Que Sera Sera posted 5 limits of salmon last weekend, and Captain Smitty on the Rip Tide saw salmon swirling on the shrimp flies this week at the Deep Reef.”
Rockfishing has been the staple with the opener of ocean salmon season five weeks away, and the Queen of Hearts and Riptide out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing continue to work the local reefs. Second captain Michael Cabanas of the Huli Cat went out on a crab/rockfish combination trip on Saturday for quality bottom-dwelling canary, vermilion, and copper rockfish along with ling cod to 11 pounds on shrimp flies.
Rockfish 3 Striper 3 Crab 2 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 2
Mother’s Day out of Chris’s Landing brought out the whale watching crew, but the Check Mate posted limits of ling cod and rockfish for 18 anglers while the Caroline returned with limits of rockfish and 10 lings for 17. Live squid has been the key for the lings. Chris Arcoleo said, “The beaches are loaded with striped bass, and shore anglers are just ‘slaughtering’ them right now. We took out two boats for the Monterey Bay Disabled Veterans Fishing Derby on Saturday to the local reefs for good action for rockfish. The weather has been rough the past few days.” They have plenty of room during the week, but the coming weekend is filled.
San Francisco Bay
Halibut 3 Striper 2 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2
Mike Aughney of USA Fishing.com reported, “The current series of medium to smaller tides has the halibut on the bite. Party boats are seeing scores of 2 fish a stick and up to 10 per stick of undersize fish released. That’s a lot of action….. shaker, shaker, shaker, shaker, shaker, shaker, keeper!. Add in the occasional school of stripers or white seabass and it equals a great day of fishing. On Sunday out of Emeryville, the C Gull II reported twelve halibut for 6 anglers. Captain R.J. Waldron on the Sundance worked for both bass and halibut with 4 anglers landing 5 stripers and 3 halibut. Emeryville has room daily for live bait bay halibut trips and the Farallon Islands on their fleet of 9 boats. The Salty Lady in Sausalito also has room weekdays for live bait potluck trips in San Francisco Bay and outside the Gate.
Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond put his clients onto five limits of halibut on Friday with 9 of the fish coming in the south bay before returning to in front of the Loch Lomond harbor for the remaining 6 flatties near the Bird Cage past the Marin Islands.
Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker was on the big boat on Sunday, and he reported slower action in the south bay than he had been experiencing in the past week. Saturday’s trip on his six-pack Defiant produced 9 halibut for 6 anglers with Friday’s trip bringing home 12 halibut for 6 anglers. Smith said, “The weather has been much better in the south bay, but I think we would also find good action in the central bay. The locations around the Berkeley Flats are getting played out, and more fish will need to come into the bay.”
Captain Jonathan Smith ran the Happy Hooker on Saturday for 18 halibut and 7 striped bass for 30 anglers, and the number of undersized halibut remains phenomenal. Smith is running the Ladies Only Challenge on May 25th, and there are still a few spots available as the load size will be limited.
The legendary ‘Lord of the Sea,’ Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “The wind has been horrible, and yesterday was a day only a bait man could like. Sunday was only slightly better, but with Slate’s Friday score outside of our harbor, it only proves that you can take a dart and throw it at a chart of the bay, and there is a good possibility that there will be halibut there. Pick that spot and stay away from the big concentration of boats. This week should be good for sitting on the anchor with the minus tides coming, and you know what this means for halibut. The tides will be building to a minus 1.5, and sturgeon action should heat up in San Pablo Bay. We have live ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, pile worms, and anchovies in the shop, but live shiners have been scarce.”
San Luis Obispo
Rockfish 3 Surf perch 2
Limits were the rule out of all harbors on Monday with the Patriot out of Patriot Sport Fishing in Port San Luis putting in 14 limits of rockfish and 3 lings to 12 pounds consisting of 44 vermilion, 43 copper, 5 Boccaccio, and 48 assorted rockfish. Out of Morro Bay, the Endeavor out of Morro Bay Landing put in 15 limits on a ½ day trip on Monday with 120 vermilion rockfish to 7 pounds along with 10 copper and 20 Boccaccio rockfish. Additionally out of Morro Bay, Virg’s Landing sent out the Fiesta on Sunday on a 3/4th day trip for 29 limits of rockfish consisting of 230 vermilion and 60 assorted rockfish with 10 lings to 8 pounds. The jackpot ling was landed by Arlindo Brasil of Lemoore. All landings are running a variety of bottom fishing trips from ½ day to two-day ventures up the coast.
Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 3 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Shad 3
The American shad run continues in the north Delta from Freeport to upriver all the way to the Yuba River, and the Freeport shoreline is first place for access for shad anglers. Sturgeon fishing remains excellent in Suisun Bay for the few boats still trying while striped bass are quickly moving through the Sacramento-Delta on their way back down into the bays and ocean. The wind has been the limiting factor over the past week with heavy gusts to 30 mph with regularity.
Alan Fong, manager of the Sacramento Fishermen’s Warehouse, said, “Largemouth bass fishing on the Mokelumne River has been outstanding as Jason Kincannon released a bass just shy of 16 pounds on one of his glidebaits on Saturday while Warren Trumbley, formerly of the ‘Fun Fishing’ TV show, released a 12.5 pounder on a spinnerbait. The bass have spawned out now. Shad fishing remains solid with 1-inch grubs in champagne, pink, or chartreuse.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Striped bass are on their way back down to the bay, and blood worms, pile worms, and sardines are working best in the main river while trollers are pulling deep-diving lures in the main river and shallow divers in protected locations like Steamboat Slough. For shad, anglers are still drop-shotting grubs or tossing shad darts from the shoreline. Smallmouth bass are starting to show up along the rocks in Steamboat Slough with live crawdads or plastics on the drop-shot.”
Sturgeon fishing remains excellent for the few boats still hanging around Suisun Bay, and Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures catching and releasing incredible numbers despite the wind. Medinas said, “On Saturday, we were able to anchor in the main river due to the incoming tide, and we released one sturgeon at the end of the outgo with the remainder of 11 slot-limit or legal sturgeon to go with three shakers on the incoming tide on salmon roe. We wrapped up our trip by 2:00 p.m. after a late start at 8:00 a.m., and we went scouting in Broad Slough and Sherman Island to get out of the wind. I am certain we could find some fish up there, but it has been so good outside of Martinez that there is no reason to make this run.”
Medinas is extending his season out of Martinez for the remainder of the month before heading for the bay.
In the San Joaquin-Delta, The wind blew throughout the week, making for difficult conditions on the San Joaquin-Delta. Coupled with the very successful weed eradication program currently taking place, anglers have to hunt around for largemouth bass. Striped bass are clearly on the move, slowing down the action and requiring more expertise to return with limits.
Jeff Boyle of Bass Pro Shops in Manteca took out Steve Wirfs of Ripon again this week, and they found stripers to 10 pounds at the Sounding Board and Prisoner’s Point with deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows and Rebels.
Captain David Hammond of Delta Pro Fishing said, “This is my favorite time for Delta stripers as the fish aren’t stacked up anymore, and you have to use your experience of the tides and locations to put in limits. We continue to score limits on every trolling trip, but the fish are moving. They were at the San Andreas Shoals earlier in the week, but they were gone and we had to go find them on the next trip. When it is wide open, anyone can get them, but now is the time to use your experience and hunt them down.”
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Many fishermen are complaining about the poor bite, but the weather conditions are a month overdue. We had all our weather when the fish were spawning, and this changed everything. You have to slow down right now and use scent to get the bass to move. A ‘dead-stick’ presentation is necessary, and you have to slow down. I have been scoring with the Max Scent D-Worm, Power Worm, or General in earth tones since the scent is a big advantage.”
Vince Borges of Vince Borges Outdoors and Phenix Rods said, “The wind has been difficult to deal with, but it has been calm in the morning before ramping up in the afternoons. My bigger concern has been the constant spraying and dropping pellets throughout the Delta, and this has really affected spawning fish. The grass is dying, and the grass that is left is coated with mossy residue. They are spraying in back water sloughs, and the lack of weeds has resulted in a lack of oxygen. You can see the bass, and they are very lethargic even though they are not spawning. The weeds in Mildred Island have basically been wiped out, and the water is dirty as a result of the inability for the weeds to act as a filter. The reaction bite has been more difficult in the stained water.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “The time capsules that are being used take all of the oxygen out of the water, and the bass move out once the pellets are tossed in.”
Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, stayed on the San Joaquin near Spindrift on Tuesday due to the high winds limiting access to the Sacramento River, and he said, “We had a good day with 8 stripers to 10 pounds released, and a few of the females were spawned out. There are still plenty of fish out here, but there weren’t many boats trying.”
Luther Thompson of H and R Bait in Stockton said, “The wind has been tough for us in Stockton, and there haven’t been many anglers out this week. We were getting in fresh shad consistently, but we haven’t received any shad for three days over the weekend.”
Bass 3 White bass 3 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 3
Santa Margarita was the highlight of the coastal lakes over the weekend with the Best Bass Tournament’s event on Saturday producing 3 limits over 20 pounds and 9 total limits over 15 pounds. Successful anglers threw reaction baits in the morning with the River2Sea Swaver and topwater Whopper Plopper picking up the largest grade of fish before the sun hit the water. Bluegill and red ear perch are available with the usual offerings of red worms, waxworms, or meal worms, but the crappie bite has slowed. Catfishing is another good option with cut baits or stinkbaits. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/santa-margarita-lake-webcam-california/
At Nacimiento, the shad schools are breaking the surface after being corralled by schools of spotted or white bass as the water temperatures rise over 70 degrees. Small white Roostertails, Kastmasters or swimbaits are working for the whites when the schools are located. Plastics worms are working best for spotted bass on the drop-shot or dart head while the receding water levels are scattering the crappie into deeper water. Bluegill are on the small side, but they are numerous around structure in the shallows. The water releases have started, and the lake dropped to 44 percent. A webcam of the lake is available at www.lakenacimientolive.com.
At San Antonio, the lake is also starting to recede at 33 percent, but the lake was closed over the past weekend due to a triathalon. The lake is open throughout the weekend including the North Shore.
At Lopez, plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head, or Texas-rig continue to work best along with Senkos on a wacky-rig. The larger cut of bass continue to be found on reaction baits. Panfish are taken on red worms, waxworms, or meal worms near structure. A webcam of the lake is available at 805webcams.com/lopez-lake-webcam.
Go to fresnobee.com/fishing for reports on Half Moon Bay, Monterey/Santa Cruz, San Francisco Bay and San Luis Obispo
Dan’s Delta Outdoors Pro Teams: May 12 at Big Break Marina – 1, Dan Fonte/Bobby Barrack, 25.50 pounds; 2, Mike Andrews/Phil Dutra, 23.98 (Big Fish 8.96); 3, Justin Venoble/Chris Wadworth, 19.39.
Kerman Bass Club: May 12 at Hensley – 1, Mitch Melikian/Darren Graef, 19.17; 2, Ed and Cory Kerber, 16.66; 3, Walt Lee/Butch Farmer, 15.42 (Big Fish 6.85).
Best Bass Tournaments: May 12 at McClure – 1, Jared Cook/Zacharie Schmidt, 20.88; 2, Scott Taylor/Daniel Sexton, 15.66; 3, Kenny and Kolby Warnock, 14.81 (Big Fish 9.37). May 12 at Santa Margarita – Graham Grove/Brandon Columbo, 23.67; 2, Scott and Tim Mullins, 22.39; 3, Matt Clausen/Bryce Martin, 20.33 (Big Fish 7.09).
NewJen Bass Tournaments: May 13 at Kaweah – 1, Darrel Masterson/Dean Miller, 11.55; 2, Johnny and Mike Beasley, 9.96; 3, Jason Horn/Dusty Mart, 9.60. Big Fish Jeff Tuel, 5.19.
Mother Lode Kayak Angler’s Tournament of Champions: May 12 at Kelsey Bass Ranch – 1, Jacob Traba, 63 inches (Big Fish 21.75); 2, Obedie Williams, 63 (Big Fish 21.25); 3, Brigham Vang, 60.
May 18: Nacimiento – 101 Bass Night Tournament
May 19-20: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Sierra Bass Club
May 19: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Yak-A-Bass, Delta/B and W Resort – American Bass Association, Delta/Big Break Marina – Dan’s Delta Outdoors, Don Pedro – Best Bass Tournaments, McClure – Stanislaus County Employees, Eastman – Central Valley Kayak Fishing, Isabella – Lake Isabella Bass Club, San Antonio – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers, Santa Margarita – Bakersfield Bass Club
May 20: Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation/Kings River Bass Club, Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Riverbank Bass Anglers, McClure – Kings VIII Bass Club, Pine Flat – California Bass Federation, Success – Success Bass Youth
May 26: New Melones – Gold Country Junior Bass Club Open, Isabella- American Bass Association
Week of May 20 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Fresno County: Courtright Reservoir, Dinkey Creek, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam
Tulare County: Balch Park Lake upper and lower, Hedrick Pond (Redwood Lake), Kern River sections 5 and 6, Stony Creek
Week of May 27 by California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Fresno County: Courtright Reservoir, Dinkey Creek, Kings River below Pine Flat Dam
Tulare County: Balch Park Lake upper and lower, Hedrick Pond (Redwood Lake), Kern River sections 5 and 6
q = quarter moon> = peak activity
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