Fishing report, July 21-27: Shaver kokanee for the ‘early birds’ among best bets – Fresno Bee


As we move on, let me say that camDown FREE is the maximum in security for you and your loved ones!

The pink meat of a freshly-caught kokanee salmon in 2007 at Shaver Lake.


Fresno Bee archive

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 Don Pedro kokanee and bass hitting, Monte Smith said. Shaver kokanee on tap for the “early birds,” Dick Nichols reported. San Francisco salmon, rockfish and leopard shark action drawing anglers, Joey Gamez said. Wishon and Courtright continue to put out limits of trout, Kelly Brewer reported. Delta bass and striper bites good, Alan Fong said. Roger’s remarks: Fishing buddy’s death leads to thoughts of legacy The loss of a good fishing buddy always hits me hard. I recently lost someone I put in this category and many thoughts and feelings flooded my mind — but one experience in particular jumped out at me that seemed to explain the special bonds that connect buddies. A few years ago, I guided two guys who were very close friends and longtime fishing partners. They were ready to get the party started! And both of them were in their early 80s. It was a “Mutt and Jeff” friendship with one guy very dry and factual, while the other was very expressive and emotional. Though being wildly different personalities and constantly engaged in a low-level battle over everything, they seemed to always reach a compromise each time a disagreement came up. Each guy would give a “Hurumph!“ when he begged to differ, then each would move on. We landed over 40 stripers in the epic trip. The ribbing and claims of catching a bigger fish than the other guy rang around the boat. It became a joyous party — one of my guests was celebrating his 80th birthday. That was the topping on the cake — I got to take out these lifetime buddies on a very special day for a fishing trip they’ll never forget. About two weeks ago I was at the coast and got a call that my good fishing buddy Marco Vuicich had had a fall and was in the hospital. We had fished together for quite a few years and even went to Alaska fishing together. Last week he passed away at 62. I was in shock. Condolences to his family — a great loss. The first thing that hit me was a mental picture of all the great fishing trips we had shared together. We even had more adventures planned for the next year. Losing a fishing buddy leaves a hole in your heart where you’ve kept them. Marco was a fierce outdoorsman, a loyal friend and an enthusiastic encourager. Life is short and we need to remember the best times when we were our best selves. That’s what we need to leave — a legacy of our best — while we can. My two older fishing buddy guests taught me the secret of being a good fishing buddy is love and respect. Miss you, Marco. Never give up. Valley West-side waterways Striper 2 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported Mendota Slough is kicking out largemouth bass for anglers pitching heavy jigs into the hydrilla toward the banks. The weeds and grass are thick, but there are some areas of impoundments where fishermen are able to cast. The California Aqueduct has been limited to early mornings or late afternoons into the evenings with the hot water temperatures. Striped bass are taken on Magnum Flukes or 4.8-inch Keitech swimbaits on a ½- to 3/4-ounce jig head are working along with big jerkbaits along with deep-diving crankbaits. Catfish are also taken on chicken livers, cut baits, or minnows. In the southern aqueduct in Kern County, the best action for school size stripers has been topwater lures or Magnum flukes in the early mornings or evenings along with with cut baits, blood worms, or large minnows along with flukes or topwater lures. Catfish are biting chicken livers, live minnows, or cut baits. The aqueduct is running fast with the heavy water releases out of San Luis Reservoir, and anglers have to use caution along the edge of the water conveyance system. Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket in Bakersfield (661) 833-8657 Eastman Lake Bass 1 Trout 1 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Catfishing is the only game in town with cut baits or chicken livers at night from the banks near the launch ramps as blue-green algae has encompassed the shallow lakes with Eastman at 7%. Aaron Loucks of the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “Catfish are also taken under lights at night in the murky water.” Call: Eastman Lake 689-3255 Hensley Lake Bass 1 Trout 1 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2 Similar to Eastman, blue-green algae is taking over the shallow lake, and the only game in town is catfishing with chicken liver. Anglers are using lights at night to assist the whiskerfish in finding the bait in the dark water from the algae. The lake dropped from 14% to 11%. 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 2 Kokanee 3 King salmon 2 Crappie 2 Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “The kokanee are schooling up, but the schools are scattered. Once you find the schools, Apex or J-Pex lures behind a 5.5 Mack’s Sling Blade are working at depths from 50 to 75 feet with 60 being the best depth. We put in 17 kokanee, releasing three smaller fish on a recent trip along with losing another half-dozen kokanee.” For bass, Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “There is a good topwater bite on main lake points with the Berkley Choppo 130 or DM Custom double buzzbait before working G-Money jigs at depths from 5 to 40 feet. The bass are scattered, but they are feeding on both shad or crawdads.” The lake dropped to 59%, and a buoy line has been installed outside of Fleming Meadows with the intent of moving the houseboats into deeper water. Some of the moorings are submerged, and boats have already destroyed their lower units by striking the submerged buoys. Kokanee fishermen are requested to diligently complete the kokanee/king salmon survey every trip at 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 3 Trout 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2 The lake continues to drop, and it is currently at 12%. The Golden Empire Bass Club held an event on Saturday taken with a limit over 7 pounds, and there were a number of bass over 4 pounds weighed in. Bass action is best on structure offshore such as rockpiles with deep-diving crankbaits, underspins, jerkbaits, jigs or big plastic worms such as 10-inch Berkley Power Worms. Catfishing is another solid option with the low, warm water with Triple S Dip Bait in Blood Formula along with frozen shad. Information on the annual Lake Isabella Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is available at The virtual derby will run through September 6th. The French Gulch Marina is the only launch ramp with the low lake level. Buena Vista has been slow overall with few anglers heading west of town due to the triple-digit heat, but carp are taken on dough baits from the shoreline along with the occasional catfish on chicken livers. Bass fishing is slow, but there is a small window for reaction baits in the morning before heading to the bottom with plastics. The upper Kern River is still flowing at over 110 cfs, and there are deep pools in which the trout are holding with the overall low water conditions. Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or salmon eggs fished with as light a weight as possible are working near Kernville when you can find a pool without people swimming while fly fishermen are heading higher up with nymphs or Woolly Buggers. The lower Kern River is kicking out catfish, bass, and even holdover rainbow trout with the bass on Senkos, jigs, or plastics with catfish on cut baits or dip baits. 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 1 Catfish 2 The only change has been the level of the lake as water releases have dropped the lake from 23% to 20% this week, and there are unmarked hazards throughout the shallow lake. The bass have moved out into open water, holding on the available structure. There is a window for topwater in the early mornings before finesse techniques with Senkos or plastic work best. Recreational boating continues to be heavy. Lake Success/Tule River Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 The Xtreme Bass Club held a club tournament on Saturday with the team of Gary Wasson and Joe Baeza taking first place at 15.45 pounds. Recreational boating continues to be heavy, and the lake held at 19%. In the Tule River, Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville has been finding good action for native browns in the upper stretches of the river. Balch Park upper and lower is scheduled for trout plants next week. Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626, McClure Reservoir Bass 2 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said,”The bass bite has been tough with a 9.37-pound limit by Ian Smiley winning Sunday’s Gold Country Junior Bass Tour Event. Jigs in the river arm was the winning ticket for the larger fish during the tournament. There is a topwater bite in the early mornings before dropping to the bottom with finesse presentations of plastics or G-Money Jigs.” Boat traffic remains very heavy, particularly on the weekends. Bagby, Horseshoe Bend, and McClure Point North launch ramps are closed due to low water levels. The lake dropped from 36% to 34%. Call: Ryan Cook – Ryan Cook’s Guide Service - 691-7008 McSwain Reservoir Trout 2 A Department of Fish and Wildlife trout plant is scheduled for this week, and combined with the holdovers from the 1,800 pounds of rainbow trout planted at the end of June, bank fishing will continue to be best in the early morning and late afternoons. Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or Kastmasters are working best from the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, or peninsula near the Marina in the early mornings while trollers are working blade/’crawler combinations, Wedding Rings, or Rapalas up the river arm. The holdover rainbows have migrated into the river arm in search of cooler water. Call: McSwain Marina (209) 378-2534 Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River Bass 2 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2 Aaron Loucks of the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “Water releases have dropped the reservoir level to 43%, and water is running fast down the San Joaquin River, creating unsafe conditions for shore fishermen at the Broken Bridge. The moving water has brought the bass bite on the river to a crawl.” Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis reported small spotted bass are taken on jigs or plastics on the drop-shot. Recreational boating is dominating the lake, but bass fishing is best with plastics on the drop-shot or jigs for small spotted bass. Sycamore Island will be open Fridays through Sundays and State holidays through November 11. Seasonal hours of operation are 6: 00 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. January, February, March, October, and November; 6: 00 am to 7: 00 pm April and September, and 6: 00 a.m. to 8: 30 p.m. May through August. Entry fees are $9.00 per vehicle and $5.00 per trailer. Annual passes are available for $85. Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474 New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch Bass 2 Crappie 2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 66 teams consisting of 142 registered fishermen descended upon New Melones on July 17 for the first real public gathering of kokanee fishermen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. Gary Coe, president of Kokanee Power, said, “It was our first full-fledged tournament in nearly two years, and people have just been excited to get out and interact with one another. The bite was tough as the combination of steadily dropping water levels along with heavy pre-fishing on the lake most likely contributed to challenging conditions. I hadn’t fished the lake for close to five years, and it seemed that the old patterns of bouncing the bottom over structure produced the biggest fish of the day. Larry Boone and I ended up in 14th place with a first-place finish in the Blind Bogey at closest to a 2.66-pound limit. This was the first time I had ever won a Blind Bogey in all of the years.” Kyle Wise of HeadHunter Guide Service counts Melones as his home lake, and a few of the participants went out with him the week prior to pre-fish. On the day of the derby, Wise said, “It was tough as we only caught a total of seven kokanee, weighing in one good one along with a couple of dinks for the three-fish limit. Most of the participants struggled as you could see the kokanee on the meter at 50 to 80 feet, but we just couldn’t get them to bite. The best action came first thing in the morning, and we went 3.5 hours without a bite. Once the pressure is off during the coming week, I think we will crush them again on Thursday and Friday. We ended up in 15th place with a second-place in the Blind Bogey at 2.62 pounds.” There were only 29 teams weighing in a three-fish limit, and the top team was Jimmy Brittain and Kyle Cobb at 4.92 pounds followed by Jerry and Anthony Novero at 4.59 pounds. The top trout was weighed in by the team of Ryan Griesa and Chris Gerg at 4.67 pounds with the team of Jack Schultz and Joe Askamit with the next largest trout at 4.67 pounds. Anglers are requested to complete the kokanee survey at upon the completion of every trip to provide accurate information to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The next scheduled Kokanee Power Derby is Aug. 17 at Bullards Bar, but due to rapidly dropping lake levels and the inaccessibility of an adequate launch ramp for multiple participants, the derby may be relocated once again. The original derby on this date was scheduled for Stampede, but low water conditions and small kokanee forced the initial rescheduling. For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service reported a tougher bite, saying, “It has been a grind to find quality but locating numbers is no problem. The bite changes every day, and some areas are loaded with a decent grade of bass. Topwater lures are working in the mornings, but jigs and plastics on the drop-shot are a must-have on your boat. I have marked bass down to 40 feet, but I am concentrating between 5 and 20 feet.” The lake dropped from 48% to 47%, and there are numerous unmarked hazards throughout the lake. Boaters have to be extremely cautious. There was another drowning on the lake over the weekend. 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 Sierra Bass Club held a night event over the weekend, and club spokesman Mitch Mitcheltree said, “Most participants found a tough bite with the best action coming with drop-shot and Texas rigs catching the most. The half moon helped. Still many rock piles just barely covered especially around Island Park ramp. In the lower Kings River, trout plants are scheduled this week, but anglers have to be very cautious with the high flows. 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. Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The lake is releasing water at a rapid clip, dropping from 28% to 26% this week, creating dangerous conditions for shore fishermen on the lower Kings due to swift water. Recreational boating remains high, and few anglers are targeting the lake with some action for bass near Trimmer or Deer Creek with plastics on the drop-shot.” In the lower Kings River, trout plants are scheduled for the week of July 18, but anglers have to be very cautious with the high flows. 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. The river is running at 345 cfs near 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 The lake has dropped from 29% to 26% during the past week, and Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said wind closures at San Luis Reservoir have been the norm for most days during the last week, only giving anglers brief windows of calmer conditions to fish. He said, “I guided two guests on Wednesday and the lake laid down around noon for two hours, but it suddenly came back up around 5: 30. We decided it was time to leave after just a few hours trolling. We got several school fish working the lake at 50 to 70 feet in depth, and the falling water has the fish suspending, shutting off the bite. The Basalt dock will probably be moving to its lower westerly position in the next couple days, and the Dinosaur dock was just moved to its second ramp on Sunday in the falling water. 4x4 tow vehicles are recommended since the mud by the docks is thick. Fishing in small aluminum boats is discouraged due to the sudden wind and rollers that can come up.” In the O’Neill Forebay, Water is being pumped out of the reservoir into the California Aqueduct, but with the hot temperatures, thick grass has formed along the shorelines. Small striped bass remain the rule with pile worms, anchovies, or sardines. Fishermen continue to cull through many shakers for a legal limit. 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 Bass Lake Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2+ Todd Wittwer of Guide Service said, “A few kokanee to 18 inches along with rainbows to 22 inches above the 5 MPH zone near the dam in the early mornings.” Boat traffic remains extremely heavy throughout the week and particularly on weekends. Interest in fishing has diminished with the heavy boat traffic affecting the lake. The Sheriff’s Motor Fee remains in effect. The lake dropped slightly to 68%. Edison/Florence/Mammoth Pool The road to Edison and Florence is open, but Edison is very low at 18% with Florence at 55%. Mammoth Pool dropped to 76%. Trout plants are scheduled at Ward Lake, Portal Forebay, and Mono Creek next week. Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000 Shaver Lake/Huntington Lake Kokanee 3 Trout 2 Shaver Lake will be hosting the annual Kokanee Power Derby on Sept. 11, and there is great anticipation for the upcoming event as the lake continues to pump out quality kokanee. Shore action for rainbow trout has been extremely slow. Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “There are quality kokanee coming out of the lake, but you better start with your flashlights on as the bite is early, early, and early. The norm this week was seven kokanee by 7 a.m. with 10 by 10 a.m. Those who hit the lake early were rewarded with great results from 45 to 55 feet near the Point. We scored with orange Dick’s Mountain Hoochies or Mountain Tubes behind a 5.7-inch Mountain Dodger. Carole Parks of Fresno, a non-fisherwoman, took out her best friend, Heather Mann, on a 5 a.m. trip on Thursday for limits of kokanee to 17.25 inches within less than an hour as once the sun hits the water, the bite drops to one here or there. Dick’s Fishing Tackle Pro Staff Jay Irvine and brother-in-law, Donald Vaughn from Durham were out early on Saturday morning for limits of kokanee ranging from 14 to 16 inches working Dick’s Mountain Hoochies in orange or yellow behind a Dick’s Sparkle Dodger along with Paulina Peak’s Wikiup Sunrise hoochies with a clear UV head behind a orange/chartreuse gold Peak Performer dodger between 50 and 55 feet near the Point, Shaver Marina, and Rock Haven Cove. We only landed a couple of trout throughout the week, but trout fishing remains best near Tunnel Creek. I took my daughter, Stacee Paley from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, out on Monday morning, and we put in two limits to 17.5 inches by 6: 35 a.m.” Todd Wittwer of Guide Service was out with the boat traffic on Saturday, and he said, “We came up with 18 kokanee, a rainbow, and a brown for five rods along with losing another eight hookups with the best action early with a Rocky Mountain Tackle pearl hoochie behind a white glow 5.5-inch dodger along with the RMT pink/orange hoochies behind a 5.5-inch Moonshine or silver dodger. The fish start out around 45 feet before dropping quickly to 60 feet, and you have to get on the lake early as the bite dies once the sun comes up.” Dean Uhrig, one of the many pro staff for Affordable Tackle, was on the lake this week with limits of kokanee to 16.75 inches with 1 5/8-inch Raven X spinners behind an orange, spotted red hot. At Huntington, a trout plant last week spurred on improved action from the banks near Rancheria Creek with Power Bait, nightcrawlers, or spinners. Planted rainbows or small kokanee are found near the dam with similar tackle at 20 feet in depth for trout and 38 for kokanee. The lake is at 99%, and the docks are in the water at the launch ramp. The High Sierra sailing regattas are over. Anglers are requested to complete the kokanee survey at upon the completion of every trip to provide accurate information to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 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 3 Kelly Brewer of the Wishon Village RV Park and Store said, “Everything is good at both lakes as there are a number of smaller trout from the banks while the larger holdovers are found at depths below 40 feet. Bank anglers are scoring with inflated nightcrawlers or various colors of Power Bait while trollers are scoring the planters with blade/’crawler combinations, Thomas Buoyants, Speedy Shiners, or Rapalas at depths below feet. The water levels fluctuate due to power demand, and the launch ramps could be in or out of the water, requiring boaters to launch off of the dirt shorelines. There will be no docks installed at Wishon in the low water.” Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361 Ocean Half Moon Bay Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Sand dabs 2 Surf perch 2 The table is set north of Egg Rock with scores of feeding humpback whales along with haystacks of anchovies, and salmon fishing has been good enough to post a fish per rod on the local grounds. The more productive waters have been north of the Golden Gate near the Shipping Channels, but it is long run from Half Moon Bay to get in on the early morning bite. Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete ran north to the Shipping Lanes after hearing of an early bite on Sunday, and he said, “We were just in time to be too late as we ended up with 6 salmon for 9 anglers. Both the Queen of Hearts and the Huli Cat stayed between Egg Rock and Mussel Rock, and they scratched out a fish per rod for their passengers. The fish are a mixed-grade with some commercial fish coming to the net. There is no concentration of salmon despite tremendous conditions of feeding humpbacks from Pedro Point to the Channel Buoys along with loads of anchovies. The salmon just haven’t funneled into this slot yet, but it is a scratch bite with a decent score possible. There was a group of five boats including the Queen of Hearts that went searching near the Farallon Islands on Tuesday, and they found a five-mile strip holding blue and humpback whales with all sorts of sign in 450 feet of water. Unfortunately, the table was set, but the guest of honor was either late to the party or not present as all five boats didn’t get even a bite.” Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat reported a fish per rod on Sunday along the Pacific coast, and he said, “I heard from a reliable source that there was a sighting of bluefin at the Half Moon Bay Buoy along with a school of tuna that was crashing the surface near Point Reyes, putting down the salmon bite. There were two schools sighted simultaneously within 40 miles of each other. Last year the bluefin made a showing off of Half Moon Bay at the end of July so this seems to be another bonus arrival.” Baxter added, “The Coastside Net Pen fish have yet to arrive off of the entrance to the harbor, but they normally make their appearance sometime around the end of July. Several areas inside of the harbor have been marked with NO FISHING signs, limiting angler access to only a small portion of the harbor’s waters once the salmon come inside Call: Captain Dennis Baxter – New Captain Pete (650) 576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch – Huli Cat (650) 619-0459 Monterey/Santa Cruz Salmon 2 Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Sand dabs 3 Surf perch 2 Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surf Casting Guide Service reported, “In last week’s report, we noted an increase of more “warm-water” fish seen or caught in the Monterey Bay lately. We have seen calico bass caught near Cannery Row, an opah (moonfish) washed up on one of the local beaches, and even a finescale triggerfish caught in hands by noted free diver Jim Russell of Watsonville. We are also seeing an increase of thresher shark hookups such as the one caught by Julian Renz from Capitola Boat and Bait Friday that weighed in at 103 pounds. So, we were not surprised, but instead very pleased by the first report of the year on bluefin tuna in our area. On Sunday morning, Huli Cat Captain Tom Mattusch from Half Moon Bay posted, “Bluefin were spotted off the Half Moon Bay Weather buoy and off Point Reyes. The Point Reyes group shut down a salmon bite while on a feeding frenzy.” With luck, we will see more and more of the tuna, and hopefully, some albacore this year. Tuna fever may be just on the horizon. In the meantime, there’s still plenty to fish for on the Monterey Bay, and plenty of catching going on as well. King salmon are firmly in the mix for dedicated anglers in our area. The fish are somewhat scattered so trolling is providing much better results rather than mooching for these big kings. This week, the fish seemed to pop up at points in the area between the Sand Plant near Monterey and the Soquel Hole closer to Santa Cruz. JT Thomas on the Miss Beth from Go Fish Santa Cruz scored on Friday morning. He reported, “We fished at the bottom of Mulligan’s Hill for salmon, and our clients were here from Modesto down here to cool off from the heat. They had eight hookups and landed five nice king salmon up to 23 pounds. There were a lot of whales today.” Earlier in the week, some boats fished for kings directly out from the Santa Cruz Harbor and near Capitola, and in relatively shallow water. They found salmon willing to bite in water as shallow as 100 feet. On Wednesday, kayak fisherman Mark Stamp trolled with a downrigger for a quick limit of sizable salmon. “I’d say it was only about 30 minutes of actual salmon fishing for the limit. Truly, one of those ‘in the right place at the right time’ things. It was within easy kayaking range from the harbor. I had to stop by Bayside Marine and get the big one weighed. At 26.35 pounds, it’s far and away the biggest salmon I’ve caught, and the ‘small’ one had to be pushing 20 pounds, although I didn’t weigh that one.” Rockfishing remains steady with limits being the norm, and larger fish located on the rocky coasts just north and south of the bay. Halibut fishing also remains strong. Any of the flat, sandy areas of Monterey Bay can produce flatties right now for anglers fishing 30 to 70 feet of water. Live bait always works best for the halibut although frozen anchovies, herring, or squid will do the trick.” Call: Chris’ Landing (831) 375-5951; Allen Bushnell – Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting (831) 251-9732 San Francisco Bay Salmon 3 Halibut 2 Striper 2 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2 Crab 2 If you want to get into some big salmon, head north of the Golden Gate to the Shipping Lanes or off of Duxbury, but you have to be on your game as many or more of the big fish are lost as are brought to the net. Schools of bluefin tuna showed up along the northern California coastline from Santa Cruz north to Bodega Bay on Sunday, and a few of the salmon boats started trolling cedar plugs without success. No species gets the northern California saltwater angler blood boiling more than the presence of bluefin. There was a spurt of tuna at the end of July last year, and we will see what unfolds in the coming weeks. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina put in quick limits of what he refers to as ‘Mega Hawgs’ on both Saturday and Sunday trolling straight bait at the Shipping Lanes, and he said, “Trolling has been the best method as I had a group that wanted to mooch on Friday. We hooked 7 salmon, landing four big ones, but we went back to trolling over the weekend as the weather has been chunky. We need a week or so of calm weather for the salmon to school up for mooching. We have a number of clients who prefer to mooch, and this is one of our specialties, but I learned long ago, you have to take what the water will give you, and right now, it’s a troll bite.” Captain Ron Koyasako of Nautilus Excursions out of San Francisco has also been scoring limits including big fish to 34 pounds gutted and gilled, and Sunday was the same story with 6 limits taken at the Shipping Lanes with a pair of salmon further north at Duxbury. He said, “These were all big fish with six over 20 pounds, and we lost a dozen that I would estimate from 20 to 35 pounds. We went through close to 40 weights to land these fish. The weather has been rough, and we are also waiting for things to calm down before we can mooch.” Jesse Hall of Elk Grove was out on his private boat with Justin Anderson fishing near Slate on Thursday, and they found some success for quality salmon with their three youngsters getting on the board along with Hall’s wife, Monique. Also on a private boat, Steve Klein of Rodney Strong Vineyards was out for limits with Phil Havlicek on the Reel Time off of the Marin coastline. Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady took their longest lasting charter known as the Napa Boys this week for limits of salmon to 24 pounds south of the Gate off of Pedro Point. He said, “Pedro lit up, and there were fish from Mussel Rock south to Pacifica. The northside also showed signs of life with a couple of party boats scoring near limits up near Duxbury. It does seem that the larger fish always come out of the north side, but this is not always the case.” The popularity of salmon fishing has many of the party boats plugged throughout the month, and the Salty Lady is not exception with their first opening on August 16. Fortunately, there is an alternative with the Captain Chris Smith of the Pacific Dream out of Berkeley beginning to run salmon trips as they are opening up for salmon due to the great action and angler demand. The Pacific Dream went rockfishing on Saturday along the small reefs and rocks below the Golden Gate Bridge at Montara for 13 limits of rockfish along with 10 ling cod. Smith took the boat to the Farallons on Sunday for 21 limits of rockfish within 25 minutes, saying, “The rockfish bite was wide open, and you couldn’t get your gear to the bottom without the rockfish stopping you on the way down. There aren’t many ling cod out there now as we searched Fanny Shoals and the North Island for only an occasional ling.” A few boats continue to chase halibut on the North and South Bar with one party boat tandem putting in nearly a fish per rod with 38 halibut to 18 pounds for 40 anglers. The allure of salmon, halibut, and rockfish continue to provide the incentive for party and private boats to head under the Golden Gate towards the waters off of the San Mateo or Marin County coastlines as action inside of the bay is limited to shark with the occasional legal halibut. The striped bass haven’t ganged up on the central bay rockpiles as of the end of July, and since they are normal here by mid-June, they might not be coming at all this year. Leopard shark are the highlight of the bay while the big shark trips are another option. Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing out of San Francisco said, “Bay fishing is tough right now. Leopard sharks are a no-brainer, and it is easy to load up on the sharks in a number of locations, particularly in the south bay. We were out on Sunday for numerous shaker halibut before a few legal halibut were found at the end of the flood tide behind Alcatraz. We have been searching throughout the bay from San Pablo to the Oakland Airport, and the story is basically the same, loads of small halibut in the 20-inch range. There isn’t much bait in the south bay, but there are numerous shakers down there. There is bait in the central bay, and I plan on making some drifts over the rockpiles on the next series of tides which are larger. During the last series of tides, we were able to pick off a few quality stripers to 18 pounds off of Shag Rock, but with the smaller tides, the bass haven’t been loading up. Who knows where they are right now? As we didn’t catch a legal halibut on a morning 1/2-day trip, we snuck out to Bonita Cove just outside the Gate for 30 rockfish including some quality black rockfish.” Captain Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing has been alternating between targeting the big seven-gill, six-gill, and cow sharks in the bay along with salmon fishing outside the Gate, and he will be back in the bay seeking big shark off of Yellow Bluff in the deep water on Monday with Ocsanna Seropyan, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Manteca, on board for another run at the big shark. Ed Chin of Bay Tackle said, “We are finding few striped bass throughout the bay as we have been searching along the East Bay shoreline, Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Creek without much success. It does seem that there are still a number of big stripers holding in the upper river, and we have customers that are catching and keeping them with big topwater plugs in the low water conditions.” With the supply of six-pack boats growing exponentially in both San Francisco Bay and in the Delta, you are advised to book with a registered, bonded, and insured captain for safety as well as a quality trip. 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 – 3 The best quality rockfish and better ling cod counts are found on long-range trips, and this was in evidence on Sunday with the Endeavor out of Morro Bay Landing scoring 4 lings to 15 pounds out of the 5 lings caught between the Endeavor, Avenger, and Starfire. The other boats were out on ½-day trips, and the 90 anglers returned with 185 vermilion, 18 Boccaccio, 56 copper, 6 Bolina, and 557 assorted rockfish for near limits. Also out of Morro Bay, the Fiesta, Black Pearl, and Rita G out of Virg’s Landing were out on Sunday with 60 fishermen on trips ranging from ½-to ¾-day long. The boats returned with 123 vermilion, 437 assorted, one rock sole, three ocean whitefish, and two ling cod. The Patriot, Phenix, and the Flying Fish out of Patriot Sport Fishing at Port San Luis were out on Sunday on trips ranging from ½-day to full day with 55 fishermen for 55 vermilion, 6 copper, 8 Boccaccio, 198 Bolina, 280 assorted rockfish, one cabezon, two ocean whitefish, one treefish, one canary rockfish, and 6 ling cod to 12 pounds for limits of rockfish. The new sub-limit is 5 vermilions as part of a 10-rockfish limit this season. Call: Virg’s Landing (800) 762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing (805) 595-4100; Morro Bay Landing Others Delta/Stockton Bass 3 Striper 2 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 2 The combination of high winds, warm and low water conditions, and triple-digit temperatures are not the best way to start off the river salmon season, and this was the case over the past weekend of the opener. What is most telling is that there were no anglers out throwing heavy spinners such as Benicia Bait’s Vee-Zee’s or Mepp’s Flying C’s from the Dillon Point State Park or along 1st Street in Benicia. A few salmon were landed on heavy spinners from the stretch of river from Courtland to Freeport, but these were the exception. Rio Vista Bait and Tackle reported four salmon came in on Friday with two on boats on Flatfish and the others from the shoreline on Flying C’s. Striper fishing is improving with lineside in the 24- to 30-inch range taken on pile worms or cut baits. Largemouth bass in excess of 10 pounds have been caught and released on chatterbaits in Montezuma, Three-Mile, and Cache Sloughs along with Liberty Island have been hot locations. There has been a solid catfish bite alogn with crappie and bluegill near Brannon Island. “ Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, went into Liberty Island once again this week for limits of both striped and largemouth bass. He said, “We took Denise Loo again, and she is a natural as she landed another largemouth around 7 pounds along with limits of stripers. The stripers are coming on red LV500 lipless crankbaits on a fast retrieve over the grass, and the stripers are long and skinny in the 22-inch range. They are feeding heavily on crawdads, and they have the antennas sticking out of their mouths. You have to crank as fast as you can, just blast it through the grass, and the stripers are just smacking the lures. They are stacked in there right now, but you have to know your way around the submerged island as it is easy to high center on the roadbed or damage your lower unit, particularly at low tide. I am always on my trolling motor with the big motor trimmed up when inside the island. Red Z-Man’s Jackhammer chatterbaits are working for the largemouth bass, and they have been really hard to get right now.” Striper trollers have been focusing on the San Joaquin side of the Delta due to the high winds along the West Bank, and although the winds have made it very difficult, the stripers must be there. Sturgeon fishermen are still on hiatus, but the diamondbacks are holding in the Delta. With the high winds, the sloughs are the most peaceful location to sit on the anchor. The extremely hot temperatures in the San Joaquin-Delta have made more residents of the Central Valley extremely uncomfortable with air conditioners running throughout the day to provide relief, but the triple-digit temperatures are just what the doctor ordered to create the best frog bite possible for the arrival of the Ultimate Frog Challenge and the Snag Proof Open in the coming weekends. Frogs have been jumping, if not flying, out of local tackle shops, and Ocsanna Seropyan, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Manteca said, “We have sold out of the Snag Proof Frog, and there has been a run on all of the various frogs that we offer. Z-Man’s Jackhammer chatter baits have also been hot sellers along with topwater lures such as Berkley’s Choppo or poppers such as the MegaBass PopMax. Stripers are showing up in Frank’s Tract and inside Mildred Island, and topwater lures are working in the mornings and evenings. The Ultimate Frog Challenge will be held out of Russo’s Marina during the weekend of July 31/August 1st, and this tournament is a topwater frogs-only event with lures from all manufacturers possible. The event is limited to frog baits that float on top of the water without any assistance and also are made of plastic with a hollow body. No floating fish, ducks, rats, snakes, lizards, or anything but a frog is allowed. You may only modify the frog by painting dots on the belly, trimming the legs, or adding a trailer hook, but no weights, rattles, or leaders are allowed. Umbrella rigs and sub-surface baits such as a Yama Frog or Horny Toad are not allowed. The event is open to youth, pro, and amateur teams. The original frog tournament on the Delta is the Snag Proof Open, and this event returns after a one-year hiatus in 2020. It occurs at Russo’s Marina the following weekend on August 7/8th. This tournament differs in that only Snag Proof frogs are allowed with the name ‘frog’ on the package, including Perfect Buzz, Poppin Phattie, Ultra Popper, and Wobbletron. No other Snag Proof products are allowed during the event in a topwater presentation only. The frog is to be fished as it is out of the package, but modifications of adding rattles, painting, marking, or dipping the Snag Proof Frog is allowed along with changing the main hook and adding a single trailer hook if attached directly to the frog. Both events use a 6-fish weigh in with three-fish limits on either weekend day. The worst thing that can happen to a frog tournament is a cold front moving through the week of the event, but this appears highly unlikely during this summer of record heat. 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 2 Striper 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 3 Trout 2 At Nacimiento, the lake has dropped to 17%, and between the low water, triple-digit temperatures, and the heavy recreational boat traffic, anglers have to get on the lake early to enjoy some peace. The topwater bite is fair in the mornings and evenings, but the best action remains on the bottom with plastics on the drop-shot at depths to 20 feet. White bass are showing up on occasion, but the big boils are hard to find. There are unmarked hazards throughout the lake including a number of sand bars. Caution is advised while boating. A webcam of the lake is available at At Lopez, with the lake dropping, the launch ramp will most likely be accessible within the month. There is a decent topwater bite in the early mornings along with chatterbaits, jerkbaits, or spinnerbaits when the wind is blowing. The most consistent presentation is to work the bottom with plastics on a Ned-rig or drop-shot along with Senkos or jigs. Meal worms, red worms, or mini-crawlers are effective for bluegill or red ear perch. A webcam of the lake is available at At Santa Margarita, the lake is getting choked with grass, but there is a topwater bite in the mornings and evenings with buzzbaits, poppers, or Spooks before working the bottom with plastics on a drop-shot, jigs, or tubes. Bluegill have slowed down while catfish are still a possibility on cutbaits scented with garlic. At San Antonio, the lake is very low as the lake has dropped to 8%. The ramp opens at 1: 00 p.m. on Fridays, but it is open at 6: 00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. With the low water levels, catfishing has slowed with the best action on Triple S Dip Bait along with mackerel, sardines, or anchovies coated with garlic scent. Carp are taken in the shallows with dough baits while there are some crappie holding on structure with minijigs. Reminder: consuming white bass, black bass, crappie, catfish, or carp are subject to safe eating guidelines due to excessive mercury. Events Tournament results Pine Flat – Sierra Bass Club Night Tournament - July 17: 1st – Tony Lopez – 11.01 pounds (Big Fish – 4.83); 2nd –Mitch Mitcheltree – 7.99; 3rd –Tony Hunt – 6.97. New Melones –Kokanee Power Team Open (3 Fish weigh in) – July 17: 1st – Jim Brittain/Kyle Cobb – 4.92 pounds; 2nd – Jerry and Anthony Novero – 4.59; 3rd – Rene Villanueva/Brian Hough – 4.41. New Melones –Kokanee Power Team Open Junior Division (1 Fish weigh in) – July 17: 1st – Logan Johnson – 2.22 pounds; 2nd – Hunter Woodring– 1.45; 3rd –Gabriel Harris – 1.19. Lake Isabella – American Bass Association - July 17: 1st –– Troy Larsen/Jon VanRensselear – 17.40 pounds (Big Fish – 5.85); 2nd –Randy McAbee/John Ogelsby– 12.85; 3rd –Mike and Rick Gohr – 11.75. Upcoming tournaments (subject to change) July 23/24 Success – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournament July 24 Tulloch – 17/90 Bass Club McClure – Yak-A-Bass Isabella – Fresno Bass Club Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers July 25 McClure – Nor Call High School Bass July 31/August 1 Delta/Russo’s Marina – Angler’s Press Ultimate Frog Challenge August 7/8 Delta/Russo’s Marina – Snag Proof Open Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Angler’s Press August 7 Amador – Tri Valley Bassmasters New Melones – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies/Bass N’ Tubes August 8 Amador – Gold Country Bass Tour August 14/15 Don Pedro – Modesto Ambassadors August 14 Delta/Holland Riverside Marina – Dan Mathisen Outdoors Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Bass Anglers of Northern California/Delta Bass Busters Pine Flat – Xtreme Bass Club August 21/22 Los Banos Reservoir – Wild West Bass Trails August 21 Delta/Russo’s Marina – Best Bass Tournaments Delta/Ladd’s Marina – NorCal Bass Don Pedro – Sierra Bass Club Pine Flat – Fresno Bass Club Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments Isabella – American Bass Association Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo Bass Ambushers August 22 Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Nor Cal High School Bass Delta/Russo’s Marina – East County Student Anglers August 23 Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Stanislaus County Sheriff’s August 28/29 Pine Flat – Bass 101 Solunar tableAMPMMinorMajorMinorMajorWednesday2: 529: 093: 239: 39>Thursday3: 4910: 054: 2010: 36>Friday4: 4811: 045: 1911: 35f-Saturday5: 49—6: 1812: 03>Sunday6: 4812: 357: 151: 02>Monday7: 461: 338: 111: 58Tuesday8: 402: 289: 032: 51f = full moon > = peak activity
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