The quality of bass continues to improve at Don Pedro despite the colder water conditions, but this week’s storms along with warmer night temperatures should continue to bring about a solid bite. Trout trollers are finding limits, but a slower presentation is necessary in the colder water.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook Fishing said, “The bass bite has kind of been up and down, but the jig bite is improving for quality fish. The bass are congregating in the creek channels around 30 and 40 feet in depth along with main lake points from 50 to 80 feet. I was on the lake four days this past week, and numbers are found on plastics while there have been a few good fish taken on glide baits and spinnerbaits. The umbrella rig bite has also improved this week at depths from 5 to 40 feet. With the cold water, the action in the morning is slow, but it improves after 11:00 a.m. I think the storms along with warmer nights will create more opportunities for active fish. We are also catching a few trout each trip on bass gear as the lake is loaded with trout.”
For rainbow trout, Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “A slower presentation is important in the colder water, and I would first switch to my smaller spoons that run around 2.25 mph instead of the medium-sized spoons that run from 2.7 to 3 mph. If these aren’t effective, I would use either Apex, ExCels, or Needlefish to get the speed down as these aren’t heavy lures so you can run around 1.5 mph. I do not like to use nightcrawlers since the trout swallow the ‘crawler so deep that it makes releasing the fish difficult. With the trout hugging the shorelines and coves, experience of the best locations is important since you will not mark the trout on your electronics in the shallows.” The lake held at 70 percent.
New Melones remains warmer than normal with surface temperatures ranging from 52 to 55 degrees, but the shad schools are plastered to the bottom as deep as 80 feet. The time for big bass is coming, and anglers are gearing up with big baits for the opportunity at a trophy ‘fish of a lifetime.”
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “I have several clients who want to learn to throw big baits so we have spent part of our days targeting the huge bass with either glide baits or swimbaits such as Huddlestons. It is a slow game, and I tell my clients that we will have only a few chances, if any, but we have had some good bites and a few followers, but the hook-up ratio is always small. However, the chance of hooking a fish of a lifetime exists with the big baits. On windy or overcast days when the fish are more active, I will throw glide baits, but if the skies are blue, ticking the bottom with a swimbait such as a Huddleston is your best option. In order to keep my clients interested, we break up the day by switching techniques that will produce numbers, and we caught and released at least 30 bass on Friday despite spending a good part of the day working the big baits. The shad schools are stuck on the bottom from 50 to 80 feet, and we aren’t seeing any schools of shad in open water. The bass are feeding on both crawdads and shad, and we are scoring numbers with jigs along with plastics on a shakey head or drop-shot. I will ask my clients what they feel they are good at, and then I will introduce them to another technique since all of the finesse presentations are working right now. Depending on the structure type and location, we are switching between either crawdad or shad patterns. We haven’t hooked any trout recently, and there have only been a few rainbows seen on the surface in the shallows.”
New Melones hasn’t experienced any trout plants over the past few years other than the Kokanee Power net pens, and the numbers of smaller trout are clearly limited.
The lake rose slightly to 75 percent.
Trout plants of Lightning trout from the on-site hatchery at Lake Amador are leading to success for both boat and bank anglers for the unique hybrid variation of a rainbow trout.
The concessionaires released another 400 pounds of their cutbows along with Lightning trout this week, and the fish are being transported to the middle of the lake and acclimated prior to release instead of being send down a tube from the Spillway area.
Young Cassidy Frazier was trolling a Rapala in the Carson Arm with her father when she hooked up the largest Lightning trout taken so far this year at 10.03 pounds. David Burris of Kelseyville landed a 5.9-pound Lightning with Jack Powell of Healdsburg picking up a 5.25-pound Lightning on a red/white lure from the banks.
The Lightning trout are a variation of rainbow trout developed in West Virginia in the 1950’s, and they have become a very popular fish to plant in California’s lakes due to their beautiful color pattern and unique look. In addition to Lake Amador, Lightning trout from the Mt. Lassen Hatchery have also been added to the South Shore Pond at Lake Camanche.
Since the Lake Amador hatchery was reopened last year after being closed for a few years due to the drought, the concessionaires have added Lightning trout to their staple species of the Lake Amador cutbow.
Amador has risen slightly to 26 feet from spilling, and it is expected to rise further with several days of precipitation this week. The edges of the lake are starting to get murky which is typical of the winter pattern at this small impoundment.
The launch ramp area is now off limits for fishing with NO FISHING signs along with a new buoy as the launch ramp cove is shallow with only one lane open. The no fishing restriction will be lifted after the lake rises to the point where the second ramp is in the water.
Trout plants continued this week with 1200 pounds from the Mt. Lassen Hatchery dumped at North Shore launch ramp only. Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service continues to put clients onto limits of rainbows by slowing down in the colder water temperatures with 3-inch Power Grubs just under the surface in the Narrows. Bass fishing is improving jigs or swimbaits on a slow grind on the bottom. The lake rose slightly to 74 percent.
Two bass tournaments were held on the lake this past Saturday, and the best fish were taken on reaction baits. However, the big fish were few and far between. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Guide Service said, “Catching fish is no problem as we caught and released 40 mixed largemouth and spotted bass on a guide trip this week, but the size is a concern. There is no real pattern as the fish are scattered from 5- to 40-feet, and we have been working tubes or jigs around main lake points by pitching near the banks in 5 to 10 feet of water and working the bait back to the boat in 30 feet. Bass over 2 pounds are getting harder and harder to find.” A trout plant took place this past week, and this was the first trout plant in the past few years. The lake held at 55 percent.
A trout plant of 500 pounds from the Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling took place on January 3, and bank fishing has improved as a result with rainbow trout dough bait or nightcrawler/marshmallow combinations from the normal locations of the new cabins, the Brush Pile, and the Handicapped Docks. Trolling continues to be best from the Second Fence Line with blue/silver Kastmasters or similar shad-patterned spoons.
Bass Lake is becoming a viable option for valley fishermen willing to take their time in launching their vessels along with paying for the annual Sheriff’s Motor Fee. Despite cold water temperatures, quality fish to 4.5 pounds are possible.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “I went to the lake with my partner this week, and we found good action for quality spots and largemouth bass to 4.5 pounds. Launching the 19-foot Ranger wasn’t a problem despite the lack of a dock as there is plenty of ramp on one side, and you can bring the boat to the beach to enter. The lake is low with the Buoy Line almost out of the water, but the visibility is good at 8 to 10 feet. I started off releasing a 16-inch rainbow trout on a 7-inch swimbait first thing in the morning on the initial cast of the day, and there is a swimbait bite early in the morning before working the bottom with plastics. The bottom is mushy as if there are decomposing weeds, and there is still some weed growth in the lake in spite of the 46-degree water. My partner landed the big fish at 4.5 pounds by dragging a 6-inch worm in Purple Ghost. Drop-shotting with a green pumpkin plastic with a black or purple line as also effective as we primarily worked on the dam side of the lake at depths from 20 to 25 feet.”
The Sheriff’s Motor Fee is in effect year-round now, and boaters can pick up the permit at any of the local landings. Newman said, “There is no need to get on the lake early as the ramp may be icy early in the morning, and we didn’t get on the water until after 9:00 a.m.”
For rainbow trout, trollers are getting in on the action for limits of rainbows with Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler or spoons. Bank fishing has also been very good near the Sheriff’s Tower or the dam with trout dough bait or nightcrawlers. The lake is at 50 percent.
Pine Flat and Millerton
Both low-elevation lakes of Millerton and Pine Flat outside of Fresno are fishing well for spotted bass with good numbers of primarily spotted bass possible.
At Millerton, Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Jigs are very effective along with 4- to 6-inch Zoom Trick Worms or Senkos once you find the fish. The crawdads are orange/red with a green pumpkin cape right now, and the bass are feeding heavily on crawdads. Twin-tailed Hula Grubs are another good option right now as the fish are holding around 10 to 15 feet in depth. A good technique is to stage in 35 feet of water and work back to the boat after casting towards the banks. Winchell’s Cove on the Madera side has been more productive than on the Fresno side of the lake right now.”
At Pine Flat, Newman said, “The bass bite is decent, but the action for big fish up the river has dried up after great fishing a few weeks back by experienced anglers using jigs. Some are trying to ‘power fish’ the lake with big baits, but the big bait bite just hasn’t been there. Most anglers are concentrating in the river arm from Trimmer to Windy Gap, and the jig bite is best along with and emerging crankbait bite in 15 to 20 feet for spots up to 3 pounds. The water is a bit cooler upriver at 53/54 degrees as it is in the 56/57-degree range in the main lake. Slow and low is the way to fish right now by dragging a jig or plastics on a shakey head or Neko rig. You might have to go up in weight slightly to stay in contact with the bottom, but the key is to shake the bait and keep it in the same place as the bass aren’t chasing right now.”
A few trout trollers have been congregating around Trimmer with Needlefish or blade/’crawler combinations near the surface.
Both lakes are rising slightly with Millerton at 58 and Pine Flat at 32 percent.
San Luis Reservoir
High winds closed the lake down early on Saturday morning and after a few hours on Sunday morning, but the lake continues to draw anglers on both boat and from the banks.
Travis Porter and K.C. Wilson of Hollister were able to launch on Sunday morning before the wind came up in force, and they landed a number of striped bass to 25 inches running JKings Lures in the coves.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service scouted the lake this week after the cold front, and he said, “The lake is now at 59 to 60 degrees, and the fish are schooled up and moving. I found some active fish during a ‘run and gun’ period and once I did, I released over 25 fish to 24 inches. The fish are taking minnow patterns, but you have to hit them on the head-or find fish that are on a shad school and feeding in the area. I’m seeing fish shallow, mid-depth and deep right now, and the bite seems to be on or off at times for the trollers. The best depths appear to be in the 40 to 60-foot range. Most guys are getting a few fish, but a bunch told me they were struggling to get bit.” George has reset the date for his Downrigging 101 class at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno to Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6-8 p.m. Info: 905-2954
Steve Newman at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “A number of fishermen are working the shoreline around Dinosaur Point with ripbaits, and we have already sold out of four colors of the new Lucky Craft 168 due to interest. The Lucky Craft Pointer 128 along with the 120 Duo Realis jerkbait in white to white/chartreuse have been the top color patterns. The larger flukes in the 5- to 6-inch range are working as the stripers are pushing the shad schools around in the coves. Trollers are also picking up stripers from 30 to 60 feet with Atlas rig umbrella rigs in various shad-patterned colors.”
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Drifting jumbo minnows around Romero Visitor Center or Portuguese Cove remains the top draw for stripers, and we are selling from 25 to 40 dozen jumbos per week. The average size of striper is around 22 inches.” In the O’Neill Forebay, Clements reported a ripbaits or Rat-L-Trap bite is taking place around Check 12 along with on the rockwall side. He said, “The stripers seem to be ambushing the shad around the rockwall, and they are congregating there.”
The lake rose to 75 percent due to increased pumping out of the south Delta.