Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento went to the lake earlier in the week with his grandson, and they hooked over 60 kokanee in the main body of the lake with his custom Apex-type lures at 25 feet in depth. He said, “We were just having fun out there, and if we would have used our net, we could have landed most of the fish, but we were just bouncing them. The parking lot was full, but most of the boats stayed up the river arm instead of the main lake.”
There is some optimism for the upcoming kokanee season at New Melones as the first of the landlocked sockeye salmon have made an appearance. 2017 was the year of the big kokanee, but the fish were few and far between, but there is some hope for this year based on the limited action of the past week.
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Gary Burns of "Take it to the Limit " Guide service came through in the past week, landing a couple kokanee to get the season off to a start. Burns has been searching for kokanee for the past month, using primarily kokanee gear to land rainbow trout, and he finally found what he was looking for. Kevin Ogg landed a kokanee trolling between the dam and the spillway with Paulina Peak’s tackle at a depth from 30 to 60 feet. Trout fishing has also picked up with rainbows from 3 to 7 pounds taken from both the shoreline and from boats. Will Cunningham of Vallecito scored a limit of rainbows from the bank with nightcrawlers while trollers have been working the upper 30 feet from Glory Hole Point over to the spillway or the Highway 49 Bridge with chrome Super Dupers, Needlefish in Cop Car, or chartreuse Blue Fox Vibrax with black stripe behind a dodger.”
Burns said, “The water temperature has reached 70 degrees, and the shad are stacking up. We landed two big rainbow from 4 to 5.47 pounds this week at 34 feet along with two brown at 60 feet rolling shad. The kokanee came from 45 to 55 feet with the Paulina Peak Wickiup Spinner hoochie behind various dodgers.”
For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The bass bite on New Melones has been really good. The water temperature is approaching 70-degrees and the springtime spawn is fading. Post-spawn fish are feeding on shad, baby bass, crappie and bluegill making reaction type baits a good choice. Try using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and ripbaits to draw aggressive strikes. The topwater fishing has been hot and cold. It can go from catching a fish cast after cast to struggling for a swirl. Finesse presentations never fail and continue to produce quality fish. Shakey heads, drop-shots and wacky rigs will be tied on for most days.”
Catfishing remains slow, but crappie are taken near structure with live minnows or minijigs.
The lake dropped from 86 to 85 percent.
Trout trolling at Don Pedro continues to be ‘red hot,’ but the good news is the appearance of fat, healthy kokanee to 12 inches for the first time this season.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “We are catching a lot of fish right now, and Joe Askamit of Joefish Guide Service and I took out 7 anglers from the Jolly Hooker’s Fishing Club this week for spectacular action. Askamit’s boat hooked 4 kokanee, bringing one to the net while we also picked up a few kokanee. These fish are fat and healthy at 12 inches in length. We limited out on rainbows, and the trout are clean with no copepods. It was action all day with 30 to 35 fish landed using ExCel spoons behind a Sling Blade for the rainbows at 20 to 60 feet, and the smaller fish remain deeper. There is so much grass and debris on the surface from the lake continuing to rise, and the larger trout are filling up with feed washing off of the shorelines. I switched from my custom fast-trolling spoons to slow up the presentation this week, and it paid off with easy limits of rainbows every trip. The surface temperature has risen to the 68 to 70-degree range, and the shad must be finally hatching right now as my transom was loaded with 3/8th -inch shad. These were the smallest shad I have ever seen.”
Few bass reports, but the Best Bass Tournament is holding an event this weekend, and anglers will be pre-fishing all week long.
The lake held at 93 percent.
Trout plants continue for the time being with 1800 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbows split between the South Shore Pond, South Shore launch, and North Shore launch this week. The plants will continue until the water temperatures become too hot, but due to the number of rainbows released in the lake, summer action in deep water near the dam has traditionally been outstanding. Bass fishing rebounded this week after a tough bite last weekend during the Angler’s Press event with 127 boats on the lake.
Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service was on the lake four times this week, and he put his clients onto limits each trip running Speedy Shiners at depths to 35 feet in the main lake from the dam to Big Hat and Little Hat Islands.
Beau Courtoul of the Lake Camanche Recreation Company confirmed the good action for trollers in the main lake, but he liked the improvement in bass action with those working the bottom with plastics from 20 to said, “One guy off of the bank landed a 14.70-pound largemouth bass on a plastic worm, but he didn’t leave his name.”
Mark Seaters of Stockton landed a 9.33-pound largemouth on green pumpkin Brush Hog, and he said, “We prefished for a recent tournament, and landed from 50 to 70 bass per day on 6-inch lizards or Brush Hogs in green pumpkin.”
The lake held at 93 percent
2400 pounds of Mt. Lassen rainbows were released this week, and the plants will continue for the next few weeks depending up on the water temperature. The lake is nearly full, and the water is clearing up after a few weeks of no precipitation. Shore anglers are scoring with trout dough bait, Mice Tails, or nightcrawlers while trolling is improving with the improved water clarity. Cold water from Lake Pardee has been released into the lake.
Spotted bass action is red hot with Kevin Cheek, director of the Mother Lode Best Bass Tournaments, reporting 100 to 150 fish days with small swimbaits, 7-inch Senkos, or large River2Sea Swavers. The numbers are impressive, but the quality is limited although the winning team posted over 20 pounds including two pushing 8 pounds. The majority of bass are post-spawn, but there are still fish on the beds. Live crawdads are available at Lake McSwain Marina, and they are also producing spotted bass. The lake rose from 90 to 91 percent.
Trout plants were increased from 500 to 2000 pounds per week, and the Calaveras Trout Farm fish range from 1 to 4 pounds. As a result of the increased plants, trout fishing has improved from the banks and for trollers. A few kokanee are showing up every week with a combined 20 reported over a three-week period. Smallmouth bass are found in the river arm on light line in the clear water. The lake dropped from 100 to 97 percent.
Striped bass fishing appears to be on the upswing with one boat landing 9 stripers rolling shad or anchovies in the main lake. Largemouth bass are getting active with reaction baits. The lake dropped slightly to 69 percent.
Millerton Lake is the go-to spot for numbers of spotted bass as 30 to 40 fish days are the norm. The reaction bite is heating up with a variety of lures, and it is a good location to take a child for action.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “It is ‘wide open’ at Millerton right now, but there haven’t been many fish over 2.25 pounds. The ripbait bite has been really good, and one angler released over 30 bass ripping in a few hours. Mega Bass, Duo Realis, Rapalas, and Lucky Craft ripbaits have been flying off of our shelves, and Sexy Shad or similar shad-patterns are the top selections. Senkos and crankbaits are also working, and there are a few topwater fish in the evenings, but most anglers are tossing ripbaits.
At Pine Flat, Gilbert said, “The bass bite is also good for numbers, but similar to Millerton, there haven’t been a lot of big fish. There are still some bass on beds, and it is easy to come through with an 8- to 9-pound limit. The reaction bite is also improving with a variety of lures. There are still a few crappie to be had around Deer Creek and above Trimmer with minijigs in Electric Chicken or chartreuse along with 1-inch Gulp! Minnows. The crappie bite isn’t what it was three to four weeks ago, but there are still a few slabs to 10-inches taken.”
Millerton rose slightly to 84 percent this week with Pine Flat at 89 percent, limiting the amount of available trailer parking.
Wishon Reservoir is on its third weekend of angler access, and the recent Department of Fish and Wildlife plant has spurred on action from the banks and from boats. The road to Courtright remains closed, but it is anticipated to open by the Friday, May 25.
Chuck Crane of the Wishon Village RV Park and Store said, “At Wishon, trout fishing has been solid from the shoreline along both sides of the day with trout dough bait in pink or chartreuse while the mouth of Short Hair Creek is producing the larger rainbows to 20 inches with Thomas Buoyants in brass, RoosterTail spinners, or trout dough bait in the same colors. Trollers are working the far side of the lake at depths from the surface to 15 feet with Speedy Shiners or nightcrawlers behind a small flasher. Everyone is catching fish right and left now due to the recent plant. The lake is high, and launching a boat is easy. Courtright is also nearly full at 6 feet from the top, and the launch ramp will be ready when the road opens. The Wishon Village Store is open, and we have stocked up with everything an angler could need for Wishon, Courtright, and the creeks.”
At Huntington Reservoir, Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The plant at Huntington has paid dividends for both bank and boat anglers. Reports of limits or near limits near the boat ramp and near inlets have been regular occurrences. The weekends have been the most popular time.”
Huntington rose from 91to 96 percent this week.
Kokanee success has been limited to a few select reservoirs so far this year, and Shaver Lake remains the best and only option in the southern section of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “I think limits are the norm, and we have limited for the boat every trip this year, including Saturday when Rob Nobles of Oakhurst and his 12-year old son. John, picked up a couple limits. We still find the best action from the Point to Black Rock at 28 feet deep, but others are having equal success near the dam and Sierra Marina at various depths. We have been using orange and clear Apex, and Dick's Mountain hoochies in pink, tipped with corn behind Mountain Dodgers. 2 to 3 browns per trip in the 14- to 15-inch range are common, and trophy-sized trout continue to be caught both from boat and shore. The trophies released by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Program released around a 1,000 of the big bow's last month, and they have spread quickly through out the lake.”
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service picked up a couple of limits within a few hours running Rocky Mountain Tackle’s pink glitter hoochies behind an Apocalypse dodger, the Cotton Candy hoochie behind a pink Moonshine dodger, or Dick’s new Little Shaver micro-hoochie behind his Mountain dodger at depths from 28 to 36 feet.
Steve Santoro of Fish Box Charters has also starting his guide season on the lake, and he said, “The fishing has been great with 3-year old kokanee to 14 inches along with trophy trout to 4 pounds on white hoochies behind a silver Sling Blade or orange Apex lures behind a dodger at 3 to 4 colors of leadcore.”
Bank anglers are having success on planters near the Sierra Marina, but they too have traveled about the lake with many being near the dam and Point..
Shaver held at 50 percent, and the new launch ramp at the Sierra Marina will be accessible when water levels rise. The auxiliary launch ramp is functional at the present time.
San Luis Reservoir/O’Neill Forebay
The troll bite for striped bass has slowed as the fish are holding near the bottom. The constant wind during the week brought whitecaps to the lake every day, and boats were unable to launch with the high wind conditions. When the wind is down, stripers can be taken near the bottom with jumbo minnows near the Trash Racks and the mouth of Portuguese Cove. Bank fishermen are finding some large stripers in the early mornings or evenings with Huddleston swimbaits or Lucky Craft 128s. The lake dropped from 84 to 81 percent with increased water releases. In the forebay, small striped bass are the norm with blood worms, pile worms, anchovies, or sardines near Check 12 or the Highway 152 Bridge. The bridge has been the top area as the water is pumping out of the small impoundment.
Andre Fontenot, regular field reporter for Western Outdoor News, went to Shasta on Wednesday, and he said, “I had to grind it out for this limit and found these south of Gooseneck on the Sacramento Arm with Speedy Shiners in chartreuse/orange or blue/chrome between 25 and 30 feet depth at a speed between 3 and 3.5 mph.
Tom Dudenhoeffer of Sweeney’s in Napa reported good trout fishing for the Eagle Lake-strain rainbows at depths from 30 to 40 feet with Apex lures in orange, pink, or watermelon along with Rainbow Runners, Tasmanian Devils, and Needlefish. He said, “You have to work hard for limits, but the fish are big. They are as deep as 60 feet in some parts of the lake, and slow-trolling minnows is also working. Trollers are also picking up crappie to 2-pounds while targeting rainbows. Bass fishing has been excellent, and there have been a few double-digit largemouths taken on swimbaits or River2Sea Swavers close to shore. The bass are chasing shad in the shallows. Find the shad schools, and you will find the fish.”
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, will be the director of the Best Bass Tournaments event this Saturday at Berryessa, and he expects limits well in excess of 20 pounds making it to the scale.
Pringle was on Clear Lake early this week, and he said, “The south end of the lake was inundated with wind, but the north end was calm. We found bed fish, but you had to get deep into cover by flipping into the tules with the Berkley General Max Scent either weightless or on a Zappu head. Dead-sticking the bait is essential as the fish aren’t willing to chase. There was an algae bloom on the south end of the lake, and you couldn’t see three inches. We did see crappie, but we didn’t target them. You need scent and vibration to get bite right now.”