Fishing report, April 7-13: Coastal openers, Millerton spotted bass among best bets – Fresno Bee


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Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State (he still holds the school record). George guides in the greater Fresno area and holds the striper record at Millerton Lake. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted. Photo gallery Show off your success! Share your fish photos and videos with Bee readers. Please share only jpeg images and Mp4 video files. Include “Fishing Report” in the subject line and a full caption and email to [email protected] Best bets Coastal salmon and rockfish opener one to celebrate, Dave Hurley said. Delta bass action good, Alan Fong reported. New Melones bass bite excellent, while Don Pedro trout and bass hitting, Ryan Cook said. Millerton spotted bass best bite in region, Isabella crappie on tap, Merritt Gilbert reported. Shaver pumping out mixed limits, Dick Nichols said. Kaweah bass and crappie providing action, Gary Wasson reported. Roger’s remarks: Liars angle and anglers lie Exaggeration! I would suggest that most folks immediately think of fishermen as the prime example of what this word means to them. How did we get here? Most anglers realize early on that in the fishing universe, bigger means better. I know that this made me want to catch the biggest fish and prove I was a worthy fisherman. Funny, when you consider how important it is for some people to “win” the battle for bragging rights, the temptation to fudge the facts a little ... or a lot becomes powerful. This silent war being waged to end up on top of the fishing pile can show up in a lot of ways. The most infamous way to “upsize” a catch is the “arms length” photobomb that places the fish close to the camera while holding it as far away from the angler as possible. The angler usually makes a bold statement about the “huge catch,” but good anglers see it’s nowhere near its stated size. Then there’s the angler who actually catches a good fish and the picture isn’t bad. The rub comes when it’s obvious that the posted weight is way beyond what it should be. I can’t tell you how many pictures of very nice 2 1/2-pound bass I’ve seen that were called 5-plus pounds. I’ve had guys even confess that they just guessed a weight — but it was more than their friend’s bass a week ago. Another way anglers tilt the scales is to generously “round up” their lengths, girths and weights. Along the same lines I’ve seen fishermen measure length over the outside of the fish, comparing that to a fish measured flat. Not gigantic but these kinds of fudges do nothing but add to the perception that “liars angle and anglers lie!” On the other hand, it’s pretty typical for friends to try to fool each other. I love taking the kind of pictures that make a good fishing buddy stop and really have to look carefully to get a handle on the catch’s real size! Getting them to guess the fish is bigger than it is is one of life’s little pleasures. Of course, I come clean, eventually, and I know what’s coming on their next catch — putting me in the hot seat. Guessing low disqualifies you from the game! Obviously there are as many ways to exaggerate a catch as there are fishermen; no wonder we have the reputation we do! Individual integrity is the key. Never give up! Valley West-side waterways Striper 3 Catfish 2 The California Aqueduct continues to be at least as popular for shore anglers than the main lake or the O’Neill Forebay for striped bass with pile worms or anchovies along with tossing deep-diving deep-diving baits such as Rat-L-Traps or jerkbaits along Highway 33 side or under the I-5 Bridge where the water is flowing. In the southern section of the aqueduct in Kern County, small shad-patterned swimbaits or jerkbaits are working for striped bass while catfish are taken on cut baits, chicken livers, or nightcrawlers. Anglers are also targeting carp with dough baits. Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket in Bakersfield (661) 833-8657 Eastman Lake Bass 2 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 The bass bite has only improved slightly as the possibility of landing one fish to 4 pounds is possible working the submerged rockpiles or humps with plastics or jigs. Catfish to 4 pounds are taken on chicken livers or nightcrawlers near the dam. The lake is still a “mud puddle” at 11%. Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255 Hensley Lake Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2 Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported the bass bite remains slow with anglers having the opportunity for a few fish to 3 to 4 pounds with squarebill crankbaits or plastics such as Senko’s, Zoom Z-Craws or Strike King’s Structure Bugs in the shallows up the river arm. A few small crappie are taken on minijigs. The lake held at 23%. Call: 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 2 King salmon 2 Crappie 2 Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Numbers of bass are showing up as there are fish on the beds. There is a bite in the shallows with ripbaits, Senkos or finesse plastics throughout the lake. When the wind is blowing, the spinnerbait bite breaks out. A limited field participated in an American Bass Association event won by a team of Jason Remmers and Alex Niapas of Angels Camp traditionally known for focusing on big swimbaits took the tournament with a limit at 18.19 pounds buoyed by a big fish at 8.38. The swimbait bite might be breaking out. Planted rainbow trout are abundant with kokanee gear at depths around 35 feet, and a few small kokanee in the 13- to 14-inch range are showing up in the Upper Bay. The lake held at 70%. 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 Lake Isabella is kicking out crappie, and Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported a number of Fresno-area fishermen are making the long drive south to target the slabs with a variety of minijigs. The crappie are holding in the shallows around submerged timber. The key is finding the right tree that is holding the school. Bass fishing is best with plastics or jigs, but the action is fair at best. Master Class Catfishing is holding a two-day Catfish Tournament on the lake on April 17/18 with a $150 entry fee for teams up to three anglers. The tournament is limited to the first 50 registered teams, and information is available at Catfish continue to attract anglers with a variety of baits including frozen shad, Triple S Dip Bait, chicken livers, or nightcrawlers. The annual Lake Isabella Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby will take a different format this year, and it will be held from April 24th through September 6th. A total of 500 tagged trout valued from $20 to $500, and the organizers are designed a virtual format for the event. A trout plant is scheduled for the week of April 11th. Information is available at French Gulch Marina hosts the only launch ramp with the low lake level. The lake dropped slightly to 16%. The trout bite at Buena Vista has dissipated, but there are still bass and crappie. A trout plant at Ming brought out a brief window for the planters on Power Bait or nightcrawlers. In the upper Kern River, last week’s trout plants brought out the fishermen targeting the planters both above and below the dam with nightcrawlers, live crickets, or salmon eggs. An additional plant near Kernville next week. 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 3 Crappie 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Xtreme Bass Club president Gary Wasson said, “There is a good reaction bite with small crankbaits, jerkbaits, umbrella rigs or flukes as the bass have moved into the shallows.” Merritt Gilbert reported that Fresno-area anglers are heading to Kaweah for crappie with various minijigs. The lake rose slightly to 17%. Mooney Grove south of Visalia is scheduled for a trout plant this week. Lake Success/Tule River Bass 3 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company said, “The bass bite picked up this past week with anglers scoring with jigs with trailers or plastics on the Ned-rig. The bass are making beds.” Wasson said, “The bite has gotten better on Senkos or jerkbaits for fish to 3 pounds, and the Xtreme Bass Club hosted 13 teams on Saturday for a winning limit at nearly 13 pounds.” On the Tule, Stokke said, “The river is still decent with dry flies with a nymph dropper while spincasters are doing well with Panther Martins.” Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, McClure Reservoir Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 1 Kokanee 1 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 The pattern of numerous small bass along with one big kicker continues to win tournaments as Saturday’s Angler’s Press event was taken with a 14-pound winning limit with nearly a 9-pound kicker. The overall size of the limits are less than 10 pounds as small spotted bass remain the rule. The few large bass are either taken on a swimbait or plucked out of a bed with plastics or jigs. Plastics on a shakey head, jigs, or Senkos are working best along with spinnerbaits when a mudline forms. Barrett’s Cove Marina will be opening within the month, and the Bagby, Horseshoe Bend, and McClure Point North launch ramps are closed due to water levels. The lake held at 38%. Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Guide Service - 691-7008 McSwain Reservoir Trout 2 Trout plants have occurred at the lake over the past few weeks, and additional plants from the Moccasin Hatchery are upcoming. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing trolled for a few hours on Monday for a few quality rainbows. Trout fishing is best in the morning and evening hours from the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and the peninsula near the marina with various colors of trout dough bait, or inflated nightcrawlers. Trollers are working up the river arm or out in front of the Brush Pile with blade/’crawler combinations, red Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger, or silver/blue Kastmasters from the surface to 20 feet. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534 Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2 Merritt Gilbert said, “Millerton is the best bass option in our region as the fish are either on the beds or cruising the shallows. The main coves in the lake of Winchell’s and Squaw Cove are holding mostly spotted bass, but there have been largemouths to 5.8 pounds reported this week. Crankbaits, ripbaits, spinnerbaits, or Senkos are all working in both the main lake and in the river arm.” The lake held at 34%. At Sycamore Island, a trout plant is scheduled in the pond during the week of April 11. Sycamore Island is open Fridays through Sundays and state holidays, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in April. Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474 New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch Bass 3 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 Bass fishing has been excellent with the fish moving into the shallows with more and more beds found on a daily basis. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “There are all types of bites with glide baits, spinnerbaits, weighted 5-inch Senkos on a Neko-rig or a wacky-rig. There are still fish off of the banks on offshore humps, but the bigger fish are showing up, and there are bucks pairing up with females. With all of the interest at Lake Berryessa, kokanee reports have been scarce, but this lake is anticipated to produce some large kokanee this season. Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Guide Service has been conducting reconnaissance trips searching for kokanee, and he has found fish to 14 inches with Paulina Peak’s Kokanee Krack in orange or pink/purple behind a gold hammer dodger from the surface to 40 feet. Trout fishing for recently-planted rainbows is best in the southern part of the lake and in the river arm with Speedy Shiners or similar spoons to 30 feet. Crappie fishing has improved with crappie lights at night near submerged structure or creek arms at depths to 35 feet with Beetle Spins or crappie jigs in black/chartreuse along with small to medium minnows. Glory Hole and Tuttletown boat launches are open at the middle ramp, but the Angels Cove launch ramp is closed. Bass tournaments have been placed on hold for the next few months. The lake held at 64%. 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 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0 King salmon 1 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Merritt Gilbert said, “Bass fishing is breaking loose as the fish are on the beds, and most anglers are working from the banks to 20 feet around Windy Gap and also in the main lake. The bass are either on the beds or cruising. A few crappie are taken at night close to the docks in the Deer Creek Marina or the trees around Trimmer with small to medium minnows under lights. Trout trolling has been slow despite the recent trout plants, and most trollers are heading to Shaver Lake. The lake rose from 25 to 27%. The lower Kings River is scheduled for plants the next two weeks, and trout fishing has been good for the recently planted rainbows with Panther Martins or Mepp’s spinners are working best where the water is moving close to an eddy of slower water. Salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or trout dough bait also are effective. The harvest zone is between the dam and Alta (Cobbles) Weir, and between Alta Weir and Highway 180 is a catch-and-release zone with a zero limit. Avocado Lake is scheduled for trout plants this week. 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 Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said, “Fishing in the big lake has continued to be difficult with anglers having a hard time finding the fast-moving schools. The bright full moon starting last Sunday continued to be bright all week in the cloudless conditions, allowing the fish to feed throughout the night this week and suspend most of the day in the slowly falling big lake. I guided two guests on Wednesday in hot, calm conditions and we got seven schoolies to 23 inches working minnow lures around 70 feet in depth. There are fish in Portuguese Cove, but they will move out of an area if they feel pressure. The surface water temperatures have risen to the mid-60s, quite a rise from the recent 55 degrees. The surface algae is exploding already. I saw some guys getting a few on bait and minnows in water about 50 to 75 feet deep on flats, but it has been hard to find schools. I had my first milting male this week, and spawning behavior should be ramping up now. I keep waiting for this bite to get back to normal.” The lake dropped slightly to 54%. In the O’Neill Forebay, most striped bass fishermen are heading to the nearby California Aqueduct, but anglers are soaking pile worms or anchovies for the opportunity for a legal limit after culling through numerous undersized linesides. The Highway 33 side of the impoundment has been the most productive, and parking on this side is limited as the lot fills up and vehicles have to park alongside the highway far from the lake. At San Luis, there are three wind warning and lake closure lights near the Basalt Entrance Station, Quien Sabe Point, and the Romero Visitor Center. At the O’Neill Forebay, the lights are located near the old Medeiros boat ramp and above the South Beach Area. Amber lights signify caution conditions for winds or other concerns while red lights indicate the lake is closed to boating and all vessels must immediately vacate the lake. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle (408) 463-0711, Roger George of 905-2954 High Sierra The Sierra National Forest has extended closures for select recreational sites, roads, and trails until April 21. Updated information is available at Bass Lake Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 Trout fishing is decent for planters with Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger or a blade/’crawler combination from the 15 to 30 feet along with the opportunity for a 3rd-year early season kokanee on pink/purple Apex-style lures behind a purple dodger at 30 feet. There have been some small spotted bass taken on shad-patterned ripbaits or chatterbaits in green pumpkin or bluegill. Most of the docks are out of the water. The Sheriff’s Motor Fee remains in effect. The lake rose to 60%, making launching a large boat at the public dock more doable. Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool Kaiser Pass remains closed, but it most likely will be open prior to Memorial Day as the snowpack is limited. Edison held at 19% with Florence dropping to 8%. Mammoth Pool rose to 61%. Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000 Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake Kokanee 3 Trout 3 Shaver remains a solid location for Central Sierra trollers as limits to near-limits of kokanee and various species of trout are possible. The section of the lake from the Island to the Point and in Dorabella Cove have been the best locations with orange/pink spinners or micro-hoochies behind a dodger at depths from 30 to 40 feet for the kokanee and up to 20 feet for the trout. The fingerling brown and golden trout released in 2019 have grown to catchable size, and they are showing up in addition to the planted rainbows and the occasional holdover from the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project. Two plants of rainbows to 9 pounds from the project will occur within the next two months. The lake held at 75%. Launch conditions can be seen at At Huntington, a trout plant occurred last week, and planters are taken from the shorelines near the mouth of Rancheria Creek with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. With the lake at 45%, the boat launch is out of the water and only hand-carried boats are able to be launched. Call: Dick Nichols – Dick’s Fishing Charters at Shaver Lake Sports 841-2740; Todd Wittwer – Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435 Wishon/Courtright Trout 2 The McKinley Grove Road is closed at Dinkey Creek, ending access to the two lakes on the upper Kings River watershed. The road to Wishon should open sometime in April, and a trout plant is scheduled for the lake next week. Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361 Ocean Half Moon Bay Salmon 3 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Sand dabs 2 Surf perch 3 No one knew what to expect out with the ocean salmon season opening south of Pigeon Point on April 3rd, but whatever expectations may have been, they were more than exceeded with limits of salmon being the rule. Rockfish opened on April 1st, and it was outstanding as expected, but the salmon bite was something to celebrate. The weather is expected to keep the boats either tied up or close to port for the remainder of the week, and the salmon will have to be on hold for a while longer. Sherri Ingles of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing said, “Captain Wallace Kluger of the Queen of Hearts went south of Pigeon, and as soon as they put lines in the water, they had 12 salmon hanging immediately, landing 8 after the mayhem settled. They ended up with 14 limits of salmon to 15 pounds and were already back at the dock by 1: 00 p.m. He landed right on the fish with Richard Alwane of Sebastopol landing the big fish. Private boats making the run also found limits of salmon, and this was a great start to the season. Prior to the salmon opener, the boat ran to the Deep Reef for limits of rockfish with excellent quality. One angler landed 13 different species of rockfish, keeping his limit of ten, and most of the rockfish were bottom-grabbers.” Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat will be making the run south with the appearance of the salmon, but he started the season heading south to the Deep Reef in 270 feet of water for 9 limits of mostly bottom-dwelling rockfish. Mattusch said, “Ken Wood from Pacifica landed a 3-pound greenspot rockfish on a shrimp fly, and normally, you would find these in deep water. This female rockfish was ready to pop with eggs. We also had vermilions and copper rockfish to 3 pounds. The water was cold at 49/50 degrees, and we have a saying in these conditions that ‘The fish would rather breed than feed.’ The action was similar for the next two days with limits taken out of the Deep Reef.” After fishing for rockfish on Monday, the Huli Cat went south of the line to pick up a few salmon. Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing is open with a service window from 5: 00 a.m. to 4: 00 p.m. on a daily basis. Call: Captain Dennis Baxter – New Captain Pete (650) 576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch – Huli Cat (650) 619-0459 Monterey/Santa Cruz Salmon 3 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 White sea bass 1 Sand dabs 2 Surf perch 3 The rockfish season opened with limits out of Chris’s Fishing and Whale Watching in Monterey with the Check Mate, the Star of Monterey, and the Caroline all heading to Point Sur for limits along with some quality ling cod. Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s said, “There were no school fish in the sacks, and everything came on the bottom with quality vermilions and coppers. Saturday’s salmon opener was a success with the Check Mate returning with 16 salmon for 16 anglers, and they lost enough fish to actually box limits. It slowed down over the next few days with the Star of Monterey posting 9 salmon for 23 anglers while the Caroline had 5 for 20 fishermen. The salmon are there, and it has been exciting to be able to see the interest.” Keith Semler from Chris’s Fishing and Whale Watching in Monterey noted, “There’s a tendency for fish to scatter with all the commotion a fleet of fishing boats can cause on the surface. Plus, the wind was a bit stronger today. We ended up with 32 kings for 23 anglers aboard the Check Mate and the Star of Monterey.” A few fish were caught near Mulligan’s and Soldiers Club on Sunday. Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak and Surfcasting Guide Service said, “As Saturday progressed, we received very positive reports from a wide variety of locations around the bay. Near Monterey, Mulligan’s Hill, and the Soldier’s Club were producing fish for both trollers and moochers. The best concentration of salmon schools on Saturday seemed to be from Moss Landing to the west side of the Soquel hole. Reports indicated that most boats were landing at least one fish per rod. Of course, a number of hot sticks got their limits early and were back at the dock by 10 a.m. Tom and Davis Uslan of Clarksburg were out with Scott Breckenridge and Nick Mosher on their annual opening day excursion, and they put in four limits of quality salmon running hoochies, straight bait, or Krippled Anchovies at depths from 50 to 125 feet outside of Moss Landing. Charter boats with bigger loads took a bit longer to get their fish. But the kings are definitely out there and they are biting, which makes for happy anglers on this year’s opening day. Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey reported 18 salmon for 16 anglers on Saturday. The Kahuna, operating out of Moss Landing netted 20 chinook salmon for 15 anglers aboard. Both of these operations rely on mooching, or drifting bait. This can be a very effective technique for catching salmon and is certainly more exciting as the angler sets the hook themself and usually the fight involves much lighter gear. The vast majority of Monterey Bay boats are trolling, finding success with a variety of lures and baits. Todd Frazier from Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz reported, “The majority of the salmon were caught trolling 30-110 feet down. The Blue Kajikis, Krome Krippled Anchovies, Purple Haze Kajikis, and Glow F.B.R.’s were doing well today. Sunday salmon reports were decent. Reports indicate better fishing on the edge of the deep marine canyons by Moss Landing, Soquel, and Pajaro Holes. A number of boats fished north of Santa Cruz up to the Pigeon Point line and the numbers held up. Captain John (JT) Thomas aboard the lovely Miss Beth called in saying, “Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters fished at the line. We ended up with four nice salmon with eight opportunities. It was a little windy but our repeat clients are coming back in May. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing from Santa Cruz headed to the Davenport area for the rockfish opener. Skipper Jason Truesdale called it a “kinda tough day but we’re catching canaries, some big coppers, and few vermillion.” Brian Cutting, skipper of the Kahuna from Moss Landing, checked in on opening day with a brief report while fishing the Big Sur area. “We’re rock fishing at Big Sur. It’s a mixed bag of rock fish with yellows, canaries, some vermillion and eight ling cod for 15 people.” Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Allen Bushnell – Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting (831) 251-9732. San Francisco Bay Halibut 2 Striper 3 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 2 Sturgeon 2 Rockfish season opened this past week, and a few party boats made the run to the Farallon Islands where they left off at the end of the 2020 season on December 31st. The results were encouraging despite cold water with limits all of rockfish all around with a few ling cod in the sacks. Captain Jared Davis of the Salty Lady out of Sausalito started his season with a bang with 14 limits of big, quality Fanny Shoals rockfish along with 10 ling cod, and nearly every party boat is heading to the Farallons or further north at Fanny Shoals. There is no update on the availability of live bait, but with the lack of fresh water in San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, the anchovies will hold inside of the bay and get larger as the weeks progress. The bait is still in the ‘pinhead’ stage, and too small to be used as live bait. Despite the lack of live bait, the halibut counts remain extremely impressive for private and party boats working San Pablo Bay near Point Pinole or in the south bay from Oyster Point to the Alameda Rockwall. With the cold water temperatures in the Delta for the majority of the winter, the striped bass have been holding inside of the bay, and they are just starting to make their spring spawning migration up the Sacramento River. With the ocean salmon season not opening until at least late June or early July, there is concern over the amount of pressure placed upon the bay’s halibut with party and boats used to targeting early-season salmon remaining inside the bay. The heavy pressure on halibut experienced over the past few years has led to a louder outcry of reducing the daily bag limit to 2 fish per angler. Captain Ron Koyasako of Nautilus Excursions out of San Francisco went out with deckhand Hunter Nguyen to put in a couple of quick limits of rockfish right outside the Gate. He said, “We found some decent browns, but we will be back inside the bay on Friday in search of striped bass and halibut. He said, “The majority of boats are heading to the north bay for halibut. There are still halibut in the south bay, but there are a lot of shorts in the south bay as well. On Friday’s charter, we we went looking around, finding a bunch of shorts at first before starting to pick away at them for five halibut and three striped bass.” Captain Melynda Dodds of the Flying A out of San Francisco Pier 45 took out 10 anglers on Easter Sunday for over a fish per rod with 9 striped bass and 5 halibut to 21 pounds. The minus tides have slowed down the halibut bite in the bay, but the Lovely Martha was able to find 11 of the flatfish to 18 pounds along with 9 limits of striped bass to 12 pounds. The Happy Hooker out of Berkeley Marina is finishing last minute maintenance on the boat, and Captain Jonathon Smith said, “We will be starting our trips in a couple of weeks, and hopefully there will be live bait when we are good to go.’ The Pacific Dream is installing a tremendous custom brand-new bait tank, and they will also be good to go in the near future. George Lu at Bay Tackle in El Cerrito reported ‘wide open’ striped bass action from the shorelines from Richmond to Pinole with Strike King’s Rage Swimmers, Reaction Innovation’s Skinny Dippers, or Z-Man’s MinnowZ on a ½-pound jig head. Pete and Ed from the shop have caught and released as many as 60 stripers in a few hours on the lures. He said, “Halibut fishing has slowed down with the tides, and there are a lot of shakers out there.” In San Pablo Bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle said, “Sturgeon fishing hasn’t really panned out this year, but I would like to be out there on the incoming tide right now as if there are sturgeon in the bay, these are the tides. Striped bass fishing has been outstanding at the Brickyard and also at the Marin Islands, and you can troll at the top of the tide and drift live bait on the moving tides. There have been stripers from 8 to 10 pounds landed recently. Halibut fishing has been slower with the minus tides this week, but the scores are still in the 1.5-fish per rod category.” 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 Rockfish 3 Salmon 2 Surf perch 2 Rockfishing opened on Thursday, and the scores averaged from half-limits on the short ½-day trips to full limits on the longer full day trips. Out of Morro Bay, the Starfire returned with 20 limits of rockfish and 5 lings on a full day trip on Monday while the Endeavor and Avenger were on shorter trips with 42 anglers for 143 vermilion, 145 assorted rockfish, 25 copper, and 4 ling cod to 11 pounds. Also out of Morro Bay on Monday, two boats went out of Virg’s Landing with 38 anglers for 125 vermilion, 41 copper, 77 assorted rockfish, and one ling. You are only allowed 5 vermilion as part of a 10-rockfish limit this season as there is a sub-limit. Out of Port San Luis and Patriot Sport Fishing, 51 fishermen were out on Monday for 56 vermilion, 14 copper, 221 assorted rockfish, 2 Bolina, and 6 ling cod to 7 pounds. There have also been reports of private boats scoring salmon out of Morro Bay on Saturday’s opener. Call: Virg’s Landing (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing (805) 595-4100; Morro Bay Landing Others Delta/Stockton Bass 2 Striper 3 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 3 The sturgeon in the Sacramento-Delta in Suisun Bay are getting a reprieve in the coming weeks as the six-packs will be relocating to their summer home in San Francisco Bay out of Berkeley, Richmond, and Emeryville. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing and Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing are ending their very successful sturgeon season this week, and with the tremendous success of all of the six-packs and private boats over the past season, the diamondbacks will be breathing a sigh of relief as they make their way back downstream from the upper rivers. Sturgeon fishing was good for some this week and tough for others. Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing found a small spot in lower Suisun Bay, and he was able to put his clients onto four oversized and a shaker released along with 4 slot-limit sturgeon on salmon roe on Thursday while others struggled for the opportunity for a single slot fish. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was also out on Thursday, and he said, “The crabs ate us up in the Big Cut, and when we went down to anchor up somewhat close to where Joey was putting on a clinic, none of the sturgeon would come out of the hole. We ended up with one oversized for our client, and this was her first-ever sturgeon.” Friday was another challenging day on the sturgeon grounds in Suisun Bay with heavy northwest wind gusts fighting a long outgoing minus tide throughout the day. The battle between the wind and tides made for bouncy conditions, and the calmest waters were found in Grizzly Bay while the open water was rough. Mitchell tried a number of locations from Port Chicago to the Little Cut, to Grizzly Bay, and back to the Big Cut for one shaker with very few actual sturgeon bites experienced all day. Deckhand Anthony Gibbs of Dragon Sport Fishing was able to find a brief flurry in the Big Cut, and they landed four slot-limit sturgeon releasing another four oversized within a 30-minute window with double and triple-hookups. They were the high mark for the day as the sturgeon have spread out throughout most of Suisun Bay with small pockets in various locations with no major clusters which were experienced earlier in the season. Mitchell was able to find a slot-limit sturgeon for his clients on Saturday in the Big Cut, and three other six-packs also landed a single legal sturgeon. He said, “I think the sturgeon have moved downriver towards the Benicia/Martinez Bridge, and I am going to check this out on my last trip of the season on Sunday. I might have to change my business name from Hook’d Up Sport Fishing to Hook’d Up Sport Fishing and Tow Service as I have had to tow in another boat three days this past week. I will never leave someone out stranded on the water.” Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Guide Service was out on Friday as well, and he said, “We searched all day long for sturgeon, and we finally found them willing to bite outside of Pittsburg. Once we found these fish, we weren’t able to get a third rod in the water before the second rod went off. We had found slow action on the long outgoing tide, but once the tide changed in the late afternoon to the incoming, the sturgeon starting to bite, and we put in our two limits in quick fashion.” Striped bass continue their move into the Sacramento River system, and Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, said, “The parking lot at Garcia Bend has been packed with boat trailers, and the male striped bass in the 2- to 7-pound range have flooded in as they are finally heading up to spawn. The smolt releases on the Feather River are on their way down through the Delta, and the stripers will be moving with the smolts. The water has finally warmed up to 61 degrees, and the linesides that had been holding in the bay are making their move. The larger females will be coming soon. Flukes and topwater lures are working for easy limits of schoolies within a short period of time from Scribner’s Bend to Freeport. We went to Liberty Island in search of striped bass, but three days of wind muddied up the water, and we didn’t get a strike. We went bass fishing in the north Delta and put in a 15-pound limit flipping, but there was nothing chasing reaction baits.” Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle reported striped bass are in the upper river, and ‘they are everywhere.’ Pile worms and blood worms along with frozen shad or sardines coated in garlic spray are working for linesides to 37 inches. He added, “A few sturgeon are on their way back down the river, and bluegill and crappie are in the dead end and back sloughs. Red worms or jumbo red worms are working for the panfish while crappie are taken on small to medium minnows or minijigs.” The San Joaquin-Delta has been hosting major bass tournaments over the past month, and this past weekend was no exception with the 134-boat Best Bass Tournaments event out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island. The largemouth bass action is getting really good as the fish are moving into the shallows, and BBT director, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “The bass are on the banks, and they are thinking about intimacy and not in a particular feeding frenzy. You can catch them in the shallows, but you have to use a few key techniques. Once you see the bass in the shallows, back off and then come back to the spot with stealth. The fish aren’t chasing, and they don’t want to move out of the 3-foot area that they are holding in so it is a matter of making long casts and slowly dragging a Berkley General or a creature bait like a Chigger Craw through the strike zone. You can pick up a few on a crankbait or topwater lure, but the margins are narrow. It is important to key on the areas where they are going to spawn.” The team of Casey Dunn and Clayton Eslick won the event with a 35.06-pound limit including a 9.47-pound kicker. The second-place team of Steve Hoover and Keith Hurney came in at 28.64 with an 8.49-pound big fish. Vince Borges of Vince Borges Outdoors has been on the Delta several times this week, and he said, “We have been finding a number of bass in the 5- to 9-pound range as the fish are either on the beds, in the shallows, or cruising. We have been scoring with Reaction Innovation’s Pocket Rockets in natural colors like green pumpkin, and we started off on Thursday with a 9-pound bass right off the bat. We also lost a really big one on a topwater lure. The water has been clear overall, and I have been focusing primarily in the south Delta where the water clarity is a bit stained, but the visibility is still around 3 feet.” For striped bass, Dave Houston of Livermore with out with shallow-trolling expert, Clyde Wands on Thursday, and he said, “We went searching for new fish, but we didn’t find them as all of the stripers were caught were local fish. This is a crazy year. Every day is different from the last, and when I get a report from a friend, it doesn’t mean much because every day is so different. There just isn’t much of a pattern to anything from color of lures to location. One thing I did learn is that if you get a fish, stay and work that area because you may not find any more fish that day. Today, we worked the San Joaquin from the Antioch Bridge to Old River Flats, and the water is clear in some areas and a little stained in others. Finding fish is still very difficult, but we ended up with nine keepers and three shakers including a kicker at 17 pounds. We released the larger and smaller fish and kept four for ourselves.” Chris Ditter of HeadRush Sport Fishing said, “There are some larger stripers in the system as we released a 15 pounder this week, and my client, Kevin Poirer of Lodi, had the rod still in his hand when the fish hit. The striper started ripping line, and it stayed deep and fought like a salmon. The stripers are really scattered, and the bite has been hit or miss. When you can find a school, you can get on them pretty good, and we did have limits to 7 pounds in the middle of the week.” James Netzel of Fish Tight Lines had a similar story with scattered schools creating challenging conditions for trolling or drifting live bait. He said, “The big winds this week knock the dirt off of the weeds, and the water became very muddy when the tide was moving. The best window for clarity has been one hour before and after the low tide. We have been grinding out limits, and we picked up 10 fish within a few minutes this week as part of 15 keepers, but we had only a few stripers until 1: 00 p.m. when we found this school.” Jeff Soo Hoo of Soo Hoo’s Sport Fishing out of Lauritzen’s Yacht Harbor confirmed the struggle for striped bass, saying, “One day we are releasing keepers while other days it has been a grind for as few as three legal fish. The water has been so dirty that I couldn’t see the bait in my bait tank on the moving tide, but the smaller tides this week should clear up the water. The best action is at the bottom of the tide for either drifting or trolling, and every day is different with no consistent pattern. I will go to 8 to 10 different spots, and only one or two will have fish on them. There has been a mixture of males and females coming in, and we are either spooning, drifting live bait, or trolling depending upon the tide.” Omega Nguyen of Mega Bait in Tackle in Manteca said, “In the San Joaquin River below Mossdale, the striped bass bite has slowed down some, but the winds have been blowing hard. Combined with the low tide, the water has been very dirty. Drifting live minnows remains the best option for boaters, but you have to be careful on the low tide as one boat got stuck on a sand bar near Sturgeon Bend. Sardines are working best for legal stripers from the banks as anchovies produce mostly shakers. Fresh shad is still a few weeks away, but I get 10 to 12 calls per day for the shad. My shadder went out, and he was only able to locate a handful as the shad remain spread out and scattered.” 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 3 White bass 2 Striper 0 Catfish 3 Crappie 2 Bluegill 3 At Nacimiento, the spotted bass have moved into the shallows, and the best action remains with Senkos, jigs, or plastics on the drop-shot or shaky head. The reaction bite is improving as the water continues to warm. White bass are quite as they haven’t schooled up in the river arm’s as of yet, and the crappie are also scarce. The lake dropped slightly to 40%. A webcam of the lake is available at At Lopez, the bass bite is improving for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, and the reaction bite has improved when the wind is blowing with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits, or underspins. The most consistent action is on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot, Ned-rig, or Texas-rig along with jigs at depths to 20 feet, but the bass are moving into the shallows. Trout trollers have the upper hand for up to limits with a variety of spoons such as Needlefish, or small crankbaits within 20 feet of the surface. Another trout plant is scheduled for the week of April 11th. A webcam of the lake is available at At Santa Margarita, a trout plant is scheduled for the week of April 11th, and combined with last week’s plant, the swimbait bite should take off. The bass have moved out into deeper water with the colder temperatures and wind this week, but they are trying to move into the shallows in order to spawn. The best action is found with plastics on a Texas-rig or drop-shot along with jigs with a few reaction fish on crankbaits. Crappie remain scarce. At San Antonio, the catfish bite is improving with heavily-scented cut baits near moving water at the inlets. The lake held at 20%. Events Tournament results Delta/Russo’s Marina –Best Bass Tournaments – April 3: 1st – Casey Dunn/Clayton Eslick – 35.06 pounds (Big Fish – 9.47); 2nd – Steve Hoover/Keith Hurney – 28.64; 3rd – Hunter and Peter Jacobsen – 24.79. Lake Pardee – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies– April 3: 1st – Jimmy and Dave Gentry – 16.17 pounds (Big Fish – 4.66); 2nd – Jason and Jake Hopper – 14.04; 3rd – Cole Lauchland/Travis Gonsalves – 12.94. Don Pedro –American Bass Association – April 3: 1st – Jason Remmers/Alex Niapas – 18.19 pounds (Big Fish – 8.38); 2nd – Bub Tosh/Mike Aguirre – 15.25; 3rd – Steve Chappell/Steve Riggs – 13.19. McClure –Angler’s Press – April 3 (No first names listed): 1st – Rush/Rush – 14.47 pounds (Big Fish – 8.86); 2nd – Beevers/Beevers – 13.18; 3rd – Espino – 12.25. Success– Xtreme Bass Club– April 3: 1st – Darl Head/Rufino Herrera– 12.77 pounds; 2nd – Matt See/Isaac Saesee – 12.67; 3rd – Jim and Steven Neeley– 11.41. Upcoming tournaments (subject to change) April 10 Delta/Holland Riverside Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Sonora Bass Anglers Tulloch – Kings River Bass Club McClure – Best Bass Tournaments/Merced Bass Club Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments Nacimiento – American Bass Association April 11 Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Riverbank Bass Anglers New Melones – California Bass Federation Don Pedro – Kings River Bass Club Bass Lake – Kings VIII Bass Club April 13 Don Pedro – Mid-Valley Agriculture April 17-18 Delta/Russo’s Marina – Wild West Bass Trails Don Pedro – Bakersfield Bass Club April 17 Tulloch – Kerman Bass Club Don Pedro – Christian Bass League/Slay Nation Pine Flat – Best Bass Tournaments Bass Lake -Sierra Bass Club Kaweah – Golden Empire Bass Club Nacimiento – Best Bass Tournaments Lopez – Kern County Bassmasters April 18 Don Pedro – NorCal High School Bass April 24-25 Delta/B and W Resort – Fresno Bass Club Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments Don Pedro – Gold Country Bass Tour April 24 Salt Springs – Bass N’Tubes New Melones – Gold Country Bass Tour Isabella – American Bass Association Nacimiento – American Bass Association April 25 Delta/B and W Resort – California Bass Federation Bass Lake – Kings River Bass Club April 30-May 2 Don Pedro – Wild West Bass Trails May 1-2 Pine Flat – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments May 1 Delta/Russo’s Marina – Best Bass Tournaments McClure – Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Nacimiento – Central Coast Bass Bashers Solunar tableAMPMMinorMajorMinorMajorWednesday2: 238: 352: 478: 59Thursday3: 059: 173: 289: 39Friday3: 459: 564: 0610: 17>Saturday4: 2310: 344: 4410: 54>Sunday5: 0211: 125: 2211: 33n-Monday5: 4311: 286: 03—>Tuesday6: 2612: 156: 4712: 36n = new moon > = peak activity
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