Wildlife Officers Keeping a Close Eye Out for Overlimits
Law enforcement officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have made several recent gross overlimit cases on crappie anglers in the San Joaquin Valley, prompting increased patrols for anglers targeting those fish. Crappie is a sport fish common throughout California and most of North America. The bag limit for crappie is 25 fish per day.
In one case, a wildlife officer contacted three anglers in Madera County in the early morning hours of April 12 as they pulled their boat from a local lake. They were in combined possession of 404 crappie. Subtracting out a legal limit of 25 fish each, they were in possession of a combined overlimit of 329 crappie. The three subjects are charged with a gross overlimit of crappie, possession of more than three times the bag limit and failure to show catch upon the demand of a wildlife officer. If convicted, they each face a possible jail term, fines that will potentially range between $5,000 and $40,000, forfeiture of seized fishing equipment and suspension of their fishing privileges,
In total, wildlife officers issued a total of 10 crappie overlimit citations in the last week for 636 crappie in excess of the bag limit.
“We are pleased to see excellent conditions for crappie fishing right now and many honest anglers are catching a limit,” said CDFW Assistant Chief John Baker, who oversees the Central Enforcement District out of Fresno. “These gross overlimit cases are a prime example of poachers taking advantage of good conditions and depleting our state’s limited resources. This behavior should outrage the honest anglers who abide by the law.”
Anyone who believes they are witness to unlawful poaching or pollution activity is encouraged to call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258 or send a text to tip411. Both methods allow the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information to assist with investigations. Callers may remain anonymous, if desired, and a reward can result from successful capture and prosecution.
Shasta Area reports from Jeffrey Goodwin of Jeffrey Goodwin’s Guide Service:
Shasta Lake continues to produce good numbers of both rainbow and brown trout. Shasta is only 16' feet from full pool and water temps are holding at around 55 degs. Fishing for Spotted bass has been good as well and some pretty impressive bags are being weighed in at some of the weekend tournaments. Included in that mix are some big Large mouth bass as well. The bass are stacked on the points and along the shoreline heading into the coves. The best trout fishing has been from the surface to 30' feet. Trolling Trinidad tackle Optimizer spoons is what I usually begin with in the mornings. If the Optimizer bite slows, I will switch over to Mack's Tackle Hum Dingers and Sling Blades for more bites. Fishing will continue to get better for the rainbows and bass, but the brown bite will likely slow as it is already heading in that direction.
Whiskeytown Lake is really starting to heat up! Water temps are hovering around 54 degs and although the water is still quite low, its producing limits for anglers in the know. Kokanee are averaging 15"-16" already and they are in great shape! Trolling is king on Whiskeytown Lake and most bites are coming 15'-30' feet. The lake is supposed to be full by the 28th so I would look for that week to be the official season opener for me. I've already had a great batch of Kokanee trips, some of which came in December. This will surely be a season on Whiskeytown to remember.
Keswick Reservoir is pumping out some nice fish as well, but it won't take off until the water releases from Shasta Dam ramp up. It won't be long before that happens so I'll have some fresh reports in the coming weeks. Lots of lures work on Keswick, but my favorite way to fish up there is with Arctic Fox Trolling Flies. Black and gold flies are my favorite year round colors, but sometimes red flies are the hot color. Its important to note that water temps in Keswick are in the low 50's year round so finding fish near the surface is a steady pattern on that body of water. It sometimes pays off to drop down to 15'-20' on bright days when the trout drop into darker water.
Trinity Lake is looking good and water levels are good too. Its about time to hit the creek mouths and the shallows for pre spawn rainbow trout and bass. The salmon will be cruising near the surface and the bigger salmon (Kings) will be below the Kokanee schools. I like to fish near the Dam and the Papoose Arm. It always seems to have fish available, especially the salmon this time of the year. I'll have more info on Trinity and Lewiston Lakes when the spring water releases begin there as well.
Bass fishing at New Melones has taken off with the lake rising and flooding new areas of vegetation. The best fishing remains on the bottom with plastics or Senkos, but the reaction bite is just around the corner once the lake temperature stabilizes.
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The action has been great, and I took out one client for two consecutive days, and we caught and released 172 bass. Weedless wacky-rigged or nail-rigged Senkos are working best, but there has also been a topwater bite when the conditions are right. The early mornings or late afternoons have bene best for topwater, and also when it has been cloudy. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are another option with the bass holding at depths from 5 to 15 feet while sometimes pulling off the banks when the fronts move through to the 25 to 35 feet range. I don’t like to fish deeper than 35 feet in the springtime. The water has been coming up, and there is 10 feet of flooded grass with a good break from the lake level during the winter. The bass really like the flooded vegetation since there is plenty of food in the weeds. We have also been catching some huge crappie every time we put on a ripbait or a 2.8-inch Kei Tech on a 3/16th oz. ball head. Despite the lake level rising, the main lake is gin clear.”
Crappie fishing remains solid with crappie jigs, flukes, live minnows, Gulp! Minnows, or small spinnerbaits, but trout action is limited to an occasional trophy-sized fish.
The lake rose to 86 percent.
Lake Camanche’s 4th Annual Kid’s Free Fishing Derby is this coming Saturday at the South Shore Tule Day Use Kid’s Fishing Area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event is free for children 1 through 12 with parents, siblings, or other responsible adults able to assist. There will be a raffle for prizes hourly and a free hot dog lunch from 11:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. There will also be experienced anglers on hand to assist youth during the event. A free admission to the park is offered to participants. Information is available through the Lake Camanche Recreation Company at 209-763-5121.
Bass fishing remains solid as the largemouth and spotted bass are oriented to the shorelines. Anglers are reporting up to 50-fish days by working soft plastics along the shorelines. Purple Robo Worms have been effective, and the water temperatures have ranged from 61 to 65 degrees.
A trout plant of 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows was released at the North Shore this past week, and experienced trollers are working harder to put together limits. An additional 3000 pounds will be planted this week, bringing the season’s total since October to 61,000 pounds. Patience and persistence has been the key.
Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service put John and Diana Stockton onto limits running Speedy Shiners coated with scent at depths to 25 feet in the triangle between the dam, Big Hat, and Little Hat Islands.
The lake rose to 85 percent.
Lake Pardee has risen to 101 percent of capacity, and the heavy flows down the Mokelumne River have brought down floating debris of all shapes and sizes. The lake will be fishing good again soon once the debris settles on the banks as the lake levels drops, but it is a challenge to keep a clear line at the present time.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing went scouting the lake during the week in anticipation of working with Joe Aksamit of Joefish Guide Service to take out eight of the Jolly Hookers Fishing Club later in the week. He said, “After trolling the lake, I contacted the members and advised postponing the trip to later in the season as the debris is thick right now. The amount of floating debris was insane with small stuff to entire trees. There were pine needles throughout the lake, and I had to dodge entire rafts of debris on occasion. When we hit these debris fields, you had to lift your gear out of the water and keep going. We end up the river arm, and it was full of debris until the wind pushed it to one side. We tried leadcore without success, but we were able to pick up 5 rainbows at the river mouth on fire tiger or black/orange Rapalas at depths to 25 feet. We also landed a rainbow on a chartreuse Humdinger behind a chartreuse Shasta Tackle Sling Blade. The water is clear, but it is full of debris. I expect that it will get better soon.”
Smith added that the parking lot was empty, and there was a 5 MPH warning sign at the marina, adding, “With the debris, you couldn’t run more than 5 miles per hour.”
Don Pedro –
The bass bite has been solid with 2- to 3-pound fish found all day long on most any offerings including jigs, River2Sea Swavers, swimbaits, and plastics on the drop-shot. The bass are still in the 15 to 35 feet level as they are holding on beds despite the lake rising. The trout released as part of the salvage of the Moccasin Hatchery are moving out into the main lake. The lake has risen to 90 percent.
Lake Amador –
The Lake Amador Resort released 1200 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbow and Lightning trout this past week, and anglers have been scoring in the launch cove with fire tiger Kastmasters. The lake is stained from the inflow, and it has been spilling over for the past few weeks. Using bait with scent and vibration is the best, and shore fishing is far superior to trolling with the stained water as the planted fish are holding near the shorelines and the surface. The Nor-Cal Trout Angler’s Challenge will arrive on April 21th, and the banks should be lined with anglers this coming Saturday.
The lake was on flood stage for the past week with inflow from upstream Lake McClure, but it is of flood stage now, and it will be stable for the remainder of the spring/summer. A trout plant is expected this week as no plants have occurred since before the Merced Irrigation Trout Derby. Trout dough bait in lime or rainbow with garlic along with silver/blue Kastmasters or live minnows are working best in the stained water.
Bass fishing continues to be steady for spotted bass with River2Sea Swavers, jigs, or plastics on the drop-shot. The bass are holding in shallow water, and live minnow are also effective. Crappie fishing has taken over as the top draw, and live minnows or white crappie jigs are working for 25-fish limits near submerged brush or rock. Catfishing is improving with anchovies, frozen shad, or sardines, while a few trout have been caught. The lake is only 12 to 15 feet from spilling, and it has risen from 82 to 85 percent this week.
The water in the main lake is relatively clear despite the inflow, and striped bass action is decent with the 3 feet of visibility. Trolling frozen anchovies or shad on a harness rig in the main lake is producing a few linesides. The lake rose slightly to 69 percent, and the launch is a single lane on the high-water ramp.
The water levels at Pine Flat have been coming up around a foot per day, and the lake has rose close to 20 feet in the past few weeks. The trout, crappie, and bass bite has been up and down with the rising water conditions.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite has slowed down from the past weekend as I was out this past week for the first time in a while, and we caught 15 bass overall. The reaction bite was very slow, but I did catch one on a Kei Tech swimbait before switching over to a 6-inch worm on either a Texas-rig or drop-shot. Most of our fish were found between 15 and 20 feet, and we went 30 to 40 minutes at a time without getting a bite. We went up the river arm where one of our good customers had put together a 14-pound limit earlier in the week, and we were greeted with a log jam above Rattlesnake around 800 yards in length. The water started getting muddy once we got to Rattlesnake, but the main lake remains clear with a water temperature in the 64-degree range. Trout fishing has also been slow, and the crappie bite slowed down as well with the off-color water above Trimmer. The river arm is just starting to clear up, and we are selling a tremendous amount of crappie gear for Pine Flat and also for Lake Isabella.”
Kevin Cheek was the tournament director for Saturday’s Best Bass Tournament with 23 boats won by Reece Wells and Bobby Herbold with a 13.59 limit including the big fish at 4.26 pounds. Cheek said, “Jigs, plastics, and glide baits were the top lures, and the beds have been buried by all of the water coming into the lake. There are plenty of cruisers along the shorelines, and the glide baits were effective for the cruising bass. A 10- to 12-pound winning limit is pretty much the rule for the lake.”
Kokanee Power will host its first derby of the year on April 21st at Pine Flat with information and registration available at http://www.kokaneepower.org/derbies/20180421.pdf.
Pine Flat has risen from 73 to 82 percent this week.
San Luis Reservoir
Central Valley striped bass fishermen continue to flock to San Luis Reservoir, and the bank bite with bait is going best as the linesides are holding tight to the bottom.
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The striped bass bite is still going, but the troll bite has slowed down. Bank fishermen are scoring with cut baits near Basalt Recreation Area and at Goosehead Point, and boaters are also mooching anchovies off of the shorelines. Jumbo minnows continue to work well.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said, “The trolling bite has been decent to tough depending on the day you fish during the storms and how experienced the angler is. I took out Marion Santos and Rick Gong , both of Los Banos, and once I found the right pattern using Lucky Craft 128’s we released over 35 plus fish in 4 hours-most in the 20 to 23-plus inch range. We had around 4 to 5 boats working the same area but they all left within an hour- the overall troll bite was slow. The water temps are up to around 60 degrees, and the recent storms have been the problem with low pressure fronts turning the fish off till things get stabilized again. Water clarity is also down now-and hitting the right weather windows is big!”
San Luis has risen to 90 percent.
Shaver Lake is on the rise, and despite a slow trout bite, kokanee are still on the chomp. A plant of fingerling brown trout a few years back has led to a few browns landed by trollers, and these triploid fish are now in the 13/14-inch range.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The kokanee bite continues to be solid, and the catch ratio remains 4 kokanee to 1 trout. Kokanee anglers can find their prey around both marinas, the island, and Black Rock at depths from 25 to 30 feet with a variety of lures tipped with shoepeg corn or a piece of nightcrawler. Trout fishing from both the shoreline and by boaters should get a boost this week with the first of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s plant of catchable rainbows. The department had previously planted 2500 pounds of brooders in March, and the allotment for the lake for catchables around 15,000 pounds or between 27,000 to 30,000 rainbows in the ½-pound range. Shore anglers have found holdover trophy trout from 2017’s plants from the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project along with the recent DFW brooders, and most every day, a few of the large rainbows are landed. I know there are at least 1500 trophies still in the lake from earlier plants from the SLTTP. Another plant from our organization is in the near future, making that Shaver could be experiencing some very good fishing into the summer months. Both marinas will be opening soon, and the Sierra Ramp is in great shape. The Edison Camp ramp is now in the water, and it should be good to launch soon.”
Nichols begins his 12th season at the lake on April 21st, and he will be working a reduced schedule of Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays this year.
Upstream Huntington will also receive a plant of catchables from the DFW this week, and shore fishing with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers has been producing rainbows to 16 inches. Shaver is at 54 percent with Huntington at 72 percent.
Trout fishing remains solid for trollers and bank fishermen within weeks of the annual Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby on May 5/6. The Sheriff’s Department is issuing citations for boats not possessing the annual motor fee. Spotted bass to 3 pounds are found with finesse techniques on the bottom. The lake is at 85 percent, and launching at the public ramp is accessible despite a non-functioning courtesy dock and a hole on one side of the concrete ramp.