New Melones has started to produce for multiple species, and the action will only get better and better due to high water and the upcoming good weather anticipated.
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp said, “Anglers are picking up quality rainbows in Angels Cove from shore near the inlet and across from the ramp, and David Versil of Lodi was rolling shad in the cove for two rainbows over 5 pounds.”
For bass, John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “With all the recent weather and rainfall, the New Melones is looking extremely healthy, and on most days, the bass have been eager to bite. The water temperature is in the low 50's and should start to warm soon. We have been implementing various techniques to catch many fish and some true giants. Over the last three days on the New Melones we have boated over 125-fish up to four pounds primarily using finesse presentations of plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head or Ned Rig at depths from 5 to 65 feet. When looking for a bigger bite, we switch to large swimbaits, and this has paid off. On my trip with Russ Owens, we boated his personal best spotted bass weighing 5.29-pounds. The swimbait game is one of presentation and persistence, but if you put in the time and focus on each cast, we have proven that dreams can be made. The next couple of months we can anticipate some more incredible catches.”
Josh Parris of Josh Parris Guide Service said, “As much as the rain, wind and cold temps can be a pain to deal with little lone fish in, its setting the stage for a great year! With the lake still steadily on the rise and water temps looming in the low 50’s, the pre-spawn bite continues to grow. Our go- to techniques for the deeper bite at 30 to 60 feet has been a mix of soft plastics, and jigs. As we venture further into spring, I'm seeing more bait move up and the umbrella rig and underspin bite is picking back up. In the shallows, they are fish falling for a multitude of baits and techniques, in the shallows, I mostly work stick baits, jigs, and Texas rigged plastics, but for a shallow reaction bite, I've been leaning heavily on rip baits, umbrella rigs, underspins, and a mix of swim or glide baits.” New Melones has risen to 86 percent.
Trout plants continues at Lake Camanche, and 500 pounds of Lightning trout along with 400 pounds of rainbow trout were placed into the South Pond along with 900 pounds released at the North Shore boat launch. The lake is anticipated to receive a total of 3600 pounds of rainbow trout from the Mt. Lassen Hatchery to be split between the pond along with North Shore and South Shore launch ramps. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Lightning trout brought out anglers snagging the visible species from the shorelines at the pond.
A group of young men wearing similar T-Shirts touting their organization were observed snagging the Lightning trout, resulting in at least 20 phone contacts to either park personnel or Cal-Tip. A video of the snagging was posted on social media, leading to outrage from anglers throughout northern California. The Lake Camanche Recreation Company thanked all who reported the snagging of the trout, and they continued to encourage fishermen to contact the CalTip Hot Line at 1-888 334-CALTIP (888 334-2258).
Prior to the snagging incidents, Ty and Beau Courtroul of Lake Camanche Village posted limits of Lightning trout using Beau’s custom TMB crankbaits.
The final day of the three-day tournament of champions for the Angler’s Press Mother Lode circuit took place on Sunday at Lake Camanche with the final fifteen participants after fishing the first two days of qualifying at New Melones.
Ge Moua of Elk Grove was out trolling with his daughter on Sunday, and they put in six trout to 1.5 pounds along with 4 crappie running F9 Rapalas on either a downrigger or on a planer board at depths from 5 to 10 feet. Grubs are also working as limits of rainbows have been found up the river arm near the bridge despite dirtier water.
Camanche also dropping from 77 to 74 percent.
Lake Pardee and Amador
Lakes Pardee and Amador continue to plant trout on a weekly basis, and they are two of the top bank destinations for northern California trout fishermen. Pardee is much larger, and it is nearly always clearer while Amador is a small impoundment that is affected by stained water, but heavy trout plants and easy bank access at both lakes contribute to high interest.
Mo Souza of the Rocky River Recreation Company at Pardee said, “We planted 1000 pounds of Calaveras Trout Farm rainbows this week for a total of 15,000 pounds since the mid-February lake opener. The rainbows will hold in the main marina cove for a day or so before moving out into the main lake, and more trollers are starting to get in on the action. The Woodpile has been a particularly good location for bank fishermen, and the team of Lily Cooper and Bianka Schlegel from Valley Springs landed rainbows at 4 pounds on trout dough bait. Bright colors of garlic-scented trout dough bait are working best in the slightly stained water. Trollers are starting to get in on the action in the main lake, and the big fish of the recent NorCal Trout Angler’s Challenge at 7.03 pounds was taken by trolling by Kris Caceres of Loomis.”
Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service took out Mrs. Koke Machine for three days of fishing at Pardee, and they landed a total of 27 trout and a 13.5-inch kokanee at the mouth of the river. However, you have to purchase a fishing permit every day at the lake, and you may only keep one day possession at the lake even though you fish consecutive days.
At nearby Lake Amador, the resort was only closed for one day last weekend due to the road being flooded below the day, but the celebration and raffle for their annual trout derby was held on Sunday. 950 pounds of cutbows were released into the lake this week with 600 pounds dumped in off of the east side of the Blue Docks. The water is spilling, and it is slightly stained. Scented trout dough bait along with knocking lures with noise and vibration are working. Rat-L-Traps, Rapalas, and crankbaits are working for trollers with Jackson Creek being an excellent option. Crappie to 2 pounds have also been taken by trollers.
Lake Pardee is at 95 percent.
Not much change at the lake as the water clarity remains in the 5-foot range as the lake continues to rise. Trolling for rainbow trout is good in the main lake with shad-patterned spoons on leadcore line in the top 15 feet of the surface. The bass are moving up, but also out into open water and suspending as the lake is dropping to prepare for the impending snowmelt. Jigs, Senkos, or spinnerbaits are working for numbers of bass while the largest cut is taken on umbrella rigs or swimbaits. The sunny weather this week is expected to bring the bass into the shallows. The lake rose from 82 to 85 percent.
A trout plant from Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling was released this week, and all of the shoreline areas of the Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, and marina peninsula are producing planters with trout dough bait in garlic scents and a bright color. Blue/silver Kastmasters are also effective as despite stained water, the visibility is good enough for the rainbows to see the lures. With warm weather expected this week, the lake is expected to clear further. The annual Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby is scheduled for April 6/7, and over 450 anglers participated in the event last year.
San Luis Reservoir
San Luis Reservoir has risen to the top at 99 percent, and the flooded coves are providing new locations for success for bank anglers. The topwater and subsurface bite with jerkbaits has slowed with the high water, but the deep-diving plugs along with shad-patterned swimbaits are working for shore anglers.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bite remains OK as the water is up, but most of our San Luis anglers are soaking bite, primarily anchovies, right now. The topwater and jerkbait bite has slowed down, but the deep-diving plugs are working.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said, “I took out Russell Bader and Joel Ligatner of Fresno last this week for 18 stripers to just over 6 pounds. We got our fish trolling Lucky Crafts Pointers in shad patterns at around 50 to 60 feet in Portuguese Cove, and there are areas where the fish were active and places where they were just suspended and tough to entice. Lately, we’ve also gotten some of our fish casting reaction baits to structure, as well. Dr Lignater, who had never caught a striper before, was the star with several good fish in the 6-pound-plus class. He also lost a big one that took off on him! The water is around 55 degrees right now and I’m seeing a lot of suspending fish. It’s definitely been more difficult and I’ve had to do a lot of scouting to find the moving fish. It’s an ocean out there now.”
Travis Porter of Hollister was on the lake on Sunday, and he said, “We were out for a few hours this morning, and the fishing was very slow although we marked plenty of fish from 20 to 40 feet in depth. We had a hard time finding active ones despite scouting several spots, only to pick up four stripers to 24 inches. I heard much better reports from Saturday.”
Anthony Lopez of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “The water is somewhat clear in the big lake in spite of being nearly-filled, and most of our fishermen are working the banks with anchovies. The coves are flooded, and swimbaits or jerkbaits are effective in shad patterns, but the topwater bite has slowed down. There haven’t been many boaters out there, but it seems that most boaters are drifting minnows along the rockwall close to Highway 152.”
In the O’Neill Forebay, Newman said, “The stripers are moving around a lot, but most fishermen are tossing jerkbaits or 5-inch flukes in white or white ices for mostly shakers with the possibility of putting together a limit of legal fish. The California Aqueduct has picked up for stripers with larger jerkbaits or ½-ounce Rat-L-Traps yo-yoed off of the bottom in the evenings. Most fishermen are just parking and staying close to the bridges or headgates as the boils are few and far between. There is a ton of bait in the aqueduct, and the bite should take off with a few good days of weather. Bait fishermen are soaking anchovies, mackerel, or chicken livers.”
Lake Shasta Report from Jeff Goodwin of Jeff Goodwin’s Guide Service
“Today we fished Shasta Lake and the frigid temps outside were showing on the waters surface as well. We found some 45 degree water today and found mostly smaller rainbows to go along with the cold water. We managed to get into a few big fish in one of my honey holes early on, but the afternoon bite just never came. The lake is still in great condition, even in the upper reaches of the lake in the coldest water sections we found. I'm hoping to see a few browns here pretty soon, its time!!”
Lake Tulloch, the small reservoir below New Melones on the Stanislaus River watershed, hasn’t experienced heavy fishing action for either trout or bass over the past several months, but anglers descended on the lake this week to prepare for Saturday’s American Bass Association tournament.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis was on the lake during the week, and he said, “The fish were definitely up and eating baits, and we found bass from 20 feet to the banks as well as from 40 to 60 feet with plastics on the shakey head. The best fishing was along main lake points, and it was important to just shake the bait but not move it in the cold 48-degree water. The visibility was around 8 feet.”
John Liechty of Xperience Bass Fishing participated in the tournament on Saturday, and he said, “The bite was awesome, and we came in 6th with a 17.5-pound limit. Everything we did was on big swimbaits or glidebaits, and I hooked an estimated 9- to 10-pound largemouth right off of the bat on a River2Sea Swaver 200 in Rainbow Trout. This was insult to injury as we had the fish right at the net with only one of the trebles holding on and just when my partner went to net it, the bass threw the hook and the lure stuck him in the neck. We had to work the lure out and pinch down the barb to get the treble out. After this mishap, we recovered to find a solid bite in the shallows as well as with plastics on the drop-shot or shakey head in deeper water. The weather was amazingly good, and I actually was able to be out in a T-shirt for a bit.”
Alex Niapas won the tournament with a limit in excess of 32 pounds, the fifth consecutive tournament taken by Niapas in waters ranging from McClure to Shasta and at Tulloch. Liechty said, “Niapas may be the best swimbait angler around currently.”
The lake is at 84 percent.
New Melones remains consistent for bass anglers despite rising water levels and changing water temperatures.
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “Fishing is great right now, and really, there has only been a month or so in the past year that the action was remotely tough. Jigs have been the best option, and I am either running a ½ or ¾ ounce jig head depending on the depth. Natural colors such as brown/green pumpkin, green pumpkin, dark or light brown, or brown/purple are all working, and it is a matter of figuring out where the fish are. We have caught them as shallow as 5 feet and as deep as 75 feet, and I do pride myself on catching them at all depths. I prefer to work the shallows from 15 to 35 feet with big glidebaits or swimbaits, but this bite is just not happening as of yet. Prior to this last cold spell, the shad were just starting to come off of the bottom, and I found the first real school of shad with space above and below the school. However, the water temperature dropped from 57 in the backs of the coves last week to 51/52 degrees this week.”
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “I have been taking most of my guide trips at New Melones since we have found limits to at least 18 pounds on five straight trips. Jigs or underspins at depths from 10 to 40 feet have been working best, and the fish are holding on main lake humps. The water clarity is very good with visibility from 4 to 15 feet in varying areas, and the bite has just been phenomenal as we have picked up three bass over 7 pounds this week. I have been throwing glidebaits in the shallows in addition to the jigs.” The lake rose to 80 percent of capacity.
Don Pedro/McClure holding up for bass species
Tournament action continues at the low elevation lakes in the Mother Lode, and currently, Don Pedro or McClure are hosting tournaments on a regular basis.
The Best Bass Tournament Mother Lode Division arrived at the lake on Saturday with 55 teams, and first place was taken with a whopping 20.48 pounds by the team of Scott Taylor and Jeff Eddings. Their big fish was 4.86 pounds with an average bass of just over 4 pounds. The big fish of the tournament was landed by the second-place team of Jason and Joshua Sanchez at 7.63 pounds as part of a 20.04-pound five-fish limit.
Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing said, “Jigs have been taking most of the fish along with plastics on the drop-shot or Ned-rig in deeper water. The fish are in the creek channels and along main lake points as there are plenty of bass in the main lake. The best quality has been found from 10 to 40 feet with jigs in natural crawdad patterns.”
Cook participated in the four-boat Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournament on Saturday with most participants avoiding the tournament with the weather predictions. He said, “We were looking for a big bite, and we landed four largemouth bass in our limit prior to 8:00 a.m. in the shallows with jigs. After the jig bite died off, we picked up our last limit fish with a spotted bass on a tube at 25 feet along a bluff wall in the main lake. The reaction bite was non-existent, and there were those who found numbers with plastics on the drop-shot in the creek channels at depths from 60 to 70 feet. The bait is finally moving up off of the bottom, and we observed some shad schools for the first time in a while this past week.”
Don Pedro dropped slightly to 77 percent with McClure rising to 66 percent.
1000 pounds of Lake Amador cutbows were released this week in two separate plants of 500 pounds split between the Blue Docks and the spillway/Mountain Springs area. A few tagged trout for the derby came in this week, and the fish are in shallow water near the shorelines. White lures have been working best as the lake is stained, but it is not ‘chocolate milk’ yet as it has risen to 2 feet from spilling. Both launch ramps and docks are open now. The annual trout derby ends on March 3.
Trout plants continued this week with 1200 pounds from the Mt. Lassen Hatchery split between the North Shore and South Shore Marinas. Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service continues to score limits of rainbows to 5 pounds for his clients by noon with grubs on a long set back with minimal weight in the Narrows. The lake rose slightly to 77 percent.
A trout plant was scheduled for this week from the Calaveras Trout Farm, but it was postponed until this week due to the weather. Steve Marquette of the Lake McSwain/Lake McClure Recreation Company reported trollers have been scoring with Speedy Shiners up the river arm while lure casters are finding success with Roostertails or trout dough bait in green or yellow from the shorelines at the Brush Pile, cabins, and the Handicapped Docks with trout dough bait, nightcrawlers, or combinations of the two in the stained water. The annual Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby is scheduled for April 6/7, and over 450 anglers participated in the event last year.
The lake opens on February 14 for camping with fishing access starting on February 15 at 5:00 a.m. 10,000 pounds of rainbow trout will be released into the lake prior to the opening weekend. Bank anglers are expected to line the shorelines in the ‘Mud Hole’ to Rainbow Point on the opening weekend. The lake is at 90 percent.
Heavy snowfall in the Central Sierra has temporarily put a damper on fishing at the high country lakes, but the overall affect with result in high water levels during the summer months. Shaver Lake has been the only lake in play over the past several weeks, but the snowfall shut down the ability to launch a boat this week.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters in Shaver Lake said, “It has been snowing for a week with the exception of Monday and Tuesday, and there was 8 inches of snow on Saturday night. Trust me, no one has been on the lake in a boat; however, one angler from shore burrowed downhill in 2 feet of snow to the shoreline on Saturday. Those willing to plow through the snow to make it to the shoreline have been rewarded with quality rainbows to 18 inches swimming along the shoreline while seeking food. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is planning to release rainbow trout 4 pounds and larger as soon as it is clear to back their plant truck down the ramp as around 2000 pounds of trophy-sized trout will be released by the department this year in addition to another 2000 trophy trout to be planted by the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project in April and June. We will be presenting more information on Shaver Lake trout plantings during our seminar at the new Turner’s Outdoors in Fresno on February 28 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service and Tom Oliviera of Tom Oliviera Fishing will join me for this seminar, and we will discuss successful techniques for both trout and kokanee at Shaver Lake. The seminar will also feature a big raffle afterwards.”
Boaters need to check the launch ramp conditions via the webcam of the Sierra Marina launch ramp is available at http://www.sierramarina.com/camera.html. Shaver rose slightly to 54 percent.
San Luis Reservoir
The weather has been the only limiting factor on San Luis Reservoir, but the striped bass bite remains solid for both shore anglers and boaters alike. The lake continues to rise, and it came up from 86 to 89 percent with increased pumping out of the south Delta.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Our striper guys have been grinning from ‘ear to ear’ this past week as there is a good topwater bite in the early mornings and evenings with big knocker lures such as Pencil Poppers or Spooks, and we are selling more and more of the big River2Sea Whopper Ploppers. Jerkbaits have also been working, and the Ivory Halo color has been good with one angler reportedly landing 15 stripers with 4 keepers over 12 pounds from the shoreline. Flukes are another possibility. The areas around the Romero Visitor Center, Trash Racks, and Portuguese Cove have been the best locations for topwater in the mornings and evenings.”
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said, “I took out Bob Hawkins and his son Ryan of Fresno last week and they ended up with 17 fish up to around 7 pounds on minnow-colored lures. The morning bite was slow but picked up around lunch at 50 to 60 feet. We hit some unexpected rain that shut things off early but the fish finally became active.”
Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill said, “Jumbo minnows are working best in the main lake around the Basalt Recreation Area and the dam, but trollers are also finding success with Lucky Craft Pointer 128’s in either American shad or Pearl Ayu. In the O’Neill Forebay, smaller stripers are the rule with most fishermen casting pile worms or jumbo minnows from the old Medieros Day Use launch ramp or along the rockwall.”
The road into Dinosaur Point experienced a rockslide over the past weekend, but the rocks should be cleared by this coming weekend.