Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento went bass fishing on the lake this week, and he said, “We caught everything. After catching and releasing numerous bass by drop-shotting and spooning at depths from 30 to 45 feet, my partner wanted to pick up some trout. We fast-trolled Shad Raps on the east side at depths from 30 to 40 feet for rainbows in the 18 to 24-inch range. The rainbows are chasing shad, and they are clean without copepods. These are not the Eagle Lake-strain trout since these fish are much thinner that the thick Eagle Lake rainbows.
Esteemed Western Outdoor News field reporter Andre Fontenot is still finding kokanee at Berryessa with a quick limit on Sunday within an hour and a half running his custom tackle at depths from 65 to 80 feet at the mouth of Markley Cove.
Power outage severely affect Lake McClure and Lake McSwain
The PGE shutdown affected Mariposa County most severely as the power was off at Lake McClure and Lake McSwain over the weekend, and Steve Marquette of the Lake McClure/Lake McSwain Recreation Company said, “There wasn’t anything to report over the weekend with the power out in Mariposa County, and we had to close down for the weekend. The power is back on, and the fishing should be back on as well.”
Prior to the power outage, Marquette said, “You can go out at any time and load up on the planted rainbows from 1 to 3 pounds with various spoons such as silver/blue Kastmasters, Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, or ExCel spoons. I have continued to release the rainbows at the side of the boat without bringing them into the net as hitting the net will cause them to lose their scales and increase mortality.”
For bass, Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “The bite is starting to improve with G-Money jigs with a 5-inch twin tail trailer on a 3/4th jig head at depths from 20- to 60- feet. Numbers can be taken on a Ned Rig with plastics from Dead Stick Bait Company. You really have to work to get them to bite.”
The recent Angler’s Press tournament confirmed the tough bite with most teams struggling for small limits of bass. The team of Rick Rush and Brad Trimble took first with an 11.50-pound limit by working through a series of 2-pound bass with plastics on the drop-shot or umbrella rig at depths to 20 feet over a sloping main lake point.
McClure dropped to 66 percent.
Don Pedro has been challenging for bass, but experienced anglers are finding success while finding the bait is the key to success for trout trollers.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “We put together an 18-pound limit with no kicker fish with the best fish found as deep as 60 feet. The bass are scattered from 5 to 75 feet, and you have to search around to find them as we went to at least 35 spots and found all of our fish on only two of these spots. When we were on them, it was hot, as we must have landed 50 bass on these two locations. Spooning or G-Money jigs with a 5-inch twin tail trailer on a 3/4th-ounce head along with Ned Rigs. We picked up numbers on custom Dead Stick Bait Company plastics from David Coy of Exeter. Once you are on the fish, you have to keep their interest and they will bite as long as they are excited. If you have a lull, they will go off the bite, and you will have to stir them up again. Joey Verna of Stage Stop Gun Shop in Atwater posted a 16-pound limit along with his partner Tom George with their big fish at over 6 pounds on an underspin during Sunday’s Best Bass Tournament’s day two.”
The trout bite took off in a big way last week as Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Guide Service found the schools at a depth of 60 feet in 400 feet of water in the main channel off of Willow. He said, “The trout are chasing shad, and we ran Speedy Shiners in copper/gold coated with Smelly Jelly at 60 to 80 feet. After picking up a 14-inch kokanee on a Speedy Shiners, we dropped down Apex lures as deep as 175 feet for some additional kokanee. These fish were missing scales, but they were in good shape.” However, this weekend was a different story as Wise had to search high and low for bait before finally finding at the mouth of Big Creek. He said, “We knocked out three rainbows and a king salmon on Speedy Shiners at 3.0 mph at 85 feet within 30 minutes, and my clients wanted to call it a day early. Finding the bait is the key to finding tough. We did find a little bit of bait at 20 feet in Hatch and Willow Creek mouths, but the spotted bass were all over these shad.”
The lake dropped to 82 percent. A fundraiser tournament for Autism Speaks will occur on November 2nd with a 50% payback – contact Michaela Schimgdall at (209) 603-5258.
The bass bite at the Mother Lode lakes remains in the doldrums during this early fall transition period, and the hot trout bite from last week also became a mystery.
The Best Bass Tournaments held their two-day Tournament of Champions with the first day at Melones, followed by day two at Don Pedro. The day one leader was the team of Mike Caddick and Mark McCord with 19.17 pounds including the big fish at 5.63 to take nearly a 6-pound advantage into day two.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “It is a tough bass bite in the early fall transition, but with two weeks of cool weather, the action will break out.”
Clara Ricabal of Jackson Fishing Kayaks was out with local professional bass fisherman, Alex Niapas of Altaville, for a few hours on Sunday, and they found overall difficult action, but Niapas was able to score the occasional largemouth to 4 pounds while Ricabal focused on a smaller grade of fish.
For rainbow trout, Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Guide Service said, “Everything went downhill at Melones as both local guide Gary Burns and myself looked high and low throughout the week, and I must have only landed 5 rainbows in 4 trips. The bait moved out of the Spillway, and I searched Coyote Creek, Carson Creek, the Highway 49 Bridge, Parrot’s Ferry, and Angels Creek. Carson Creek is loaded with shad, but there were no trout there. In fact, we had to shake off way too many spotted bass at depths from 35 to 80 feet. We need rain to get the bite going once again, and the only place I haven’t tried is out in open water in the main river channel.”
Catfish are found on nightcrawlers or chicken livers, and Glory Hole’s Annual Catfish Contest starts on October 1st, and the event ends on October 31st. The lake held at 85 percent.
The lake is 25 feet from full, and the trout plants are anticipated to start from late October around Halloween to mid-November once the water temperatures reach the low 60’s. Catfish, bass, and crappie are the top species. The Tackle Box Café is closed for prepared food until October 25th.
The bass bite remains fair at best with the most reports coming from the main lake in the early mornings, and a 9-pound largemouth was taken on a swimbait near the marina cove first thing in the morning. Rainbow trout can be found in the main river channel to the dam area with with Speedy Shiners on a fast-troll at depths to 40 feet. Trout plants are on the way starting in late October. Catfish are found from the banks with nightcrawlers, cut baits, or chicken livers from the shorelines near the campground or up the river arm. The lake dropped to 77 percent.
1000 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbow were released this week for the final plant of the season prior to the lake’s annual closure from November 3rd to February 13, 2020. A total of 40,000 pounds has been released into the lake since February 2019, and these fish will be holding over until the late winter opener on the President’s Day weekend. Catfish remain a possibility on cut baits or chicken livers with bass fishing improving with squarebilled crankbaits or plastic on a Texas-rig or drop-shot. The lake dropped to 94 percent.
Eastman and Hensley
Eastman has been the go-to reservoir for Central Valley largemouth anglers over the past month, but this past week experienced a slowdown n both the size and numbers of bass.
Bass fishing had been solid with big plastic worms from 7 to 10 inches on a Texas- or Tokyo-rig along with small swimbaits such as the 4-inch Kei Tech with a boot tail on a 3/8th to 1/4th-ounce jig head, but the scores were scarce this past week. Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “It had been very good for the past several weeks, but it went belly up this past week for some reason. Hensley has also been slow as both lakes are releasing water with Eastman dropping to 47 percent and Hensley to 30 percent. The bass had been holding near the rockpiles or near the dam in both lakes, but small bass have been the rule within the past week.”
The Roosevelt High School Bass Fishing Club hosted the California Student Angler Tournament Trail event for high school teams at Eastman on Saturday, and the next scheduled tournament on the lake is the River Rats event on Saturday, November 2nd.
Courtright and Wishon Reservoirs
The high elevation lakes on the Kings River watershed are the most productive options for Central Sierra trout trollers as both Wishon and Courtright are producing limits of planted rainbows for trollers and bank fishermen alike.
Kelly Brewer of the Wishon RV Park and Store said, “The trout bite has been crazy at Wishon, and there are campers who have been going out every day and catching and released 30 to 50 trout per day with plenty in the 14- to 16-inch range along with a few browns. Anything that you throw in the water right now is working as bank anglers are also getting in on the act.” Trollers are scoring with Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind a dodger, Needlefish, or similar spoons in front of the dam and along the rockwall at depths from 10 to 20 feet. Shore fishermen are scoring at the mouth of Short Hair Creek, the dam, and the boat launch with inflated nightcrawlers or trout dough bait. The lake level is fluctuating for power generation.
At Courtright, limits are also found due to the recent plants with similar techniques to Wishon. Trollers are pulling blade/’crawler combinations, Wedding Rings, or Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with a nightcrawler at depths to 20 feet. Shore fishermen are picking up limits along both sides of the dam or near the boat launch with trout dough bait, night crawlers, or salmon eggs along the dam. The lake levels have been fluctuating with the need for power generation.
Merritt Gilbert at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis confirmed Wishon being ‘On Fire’ for planted rainbows in the 11- to 13-inch range with trollers scoring from 25 to 30 fish per outing, keeping limits and releasing the rest. He said, “Courtright has also been very good for banks fishermen with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers down by the dam, and these rainbows are in the 11/12-inch range. Mammoth Pool is another option for both rainbows and crawdads, and we have been selling plenty of mini-crawlers for the high country lakes.”
San Luis Reservoir
The water levels at San Luis Reservoir are dropping quickly in response to heavy releases down the California Aqueduct for agricultural, industrial, and domestic uses in the south valley and Los Angeles Basin. The dropping water levels have affected the troll bite, leaving drifting live minnows the top technique for boaters. Shore fishing remains best with bait or with topwater lures when the stripers are boiling in the coves.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “We really haven’t heard too much about the main lake this past week as a number of our striper fishermen are heading to the California Aqueduct with the increase in the flows. Stripers to 23 inches have been coming out of the aqueduct with Duo Realis jerkbaits or Lucky Craft Pointers, and we have been selling out of both mackerel and sardines for those soaking bait.”
Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill reported drifting jumbo minnows have been the best technique in the main lake while tossing surface plugs or soaking bait around Dinosaur Point have also been productive for schoolie stripers.”
Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said, “Rapidly falling water, a recent downward temperature spike and a full moon are all negatively affecting the troll bite at San Luis. The overall bite has slowed in the past week as the muddy shoreline keeps getting larger as the lake has dropped a total of 9 feet in the past 10 days bringing the lake down from 61 to 57 percent. My last three trips have been much slower as I scouted early last week getting only about 12 fish, but one was 17-lbs that I released. The next two trips with guests were really tough bites with lots of suspended non-biting fish. I would find fish, but they wouldn’t bite much of anything. Both trips produced 12 to 15 fish with the biggest going 26 inches and 7 pounds on a trolled Lucky Craft at 50 feet. I have noticed that drifting minnows have been the top technique from reports that I have been receiving. The water temperatures have fallen to the high 68’s from around 70/71 degrees two weeks ago, and I’m seeing fish going very deep and turning off so finding the random schools that are actually feeding seems to be the key. I’m going to wait until at least two days past this full moon to fish again. The combination of adverse factors: full moon, lake dropping and the last cool windy front are making it hard. The State Park is trying to keep up with the ramp and docks in the falling water, but be sure to carefully check the ramp to see if it’s cleaned of the silt before launching. You must be aware that San Luis has changed its operating times, and you must be out of the water by the posted time as quite a few boaters got tickets last week when the hours changed. You must be out of the gate a couple minutes before 7:00 PM sharp or you won’t be able to receive a Quagga Mussel tag as well as a ticket. With the current operating times, it is best to get off of the water early and give yourself time to check out as the shutdown time is at 7:00 PM sharp.”