Fishing report for week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2 | Eastman still best bet for big bass

Compiled by Dave Hurley and edited by Roger George, a former Olympic-class decathlete at Fresno State and striper record-holder at Millerton Lake and who now guides in the greater Fresno area. Telephone numbers are in 559 calling area unless noted.

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Best bets

Delta bass, stripers sturgeon and panfish bites all good, Alan Fong said. Eastman bass bite still best big bass bet, Steve Newman reported. McClure bass and catfish hitting, Steve Marquette said. San Luis stripers active, Coyote Bait reported. Shaver Lake trout and kokanee bites holding up, Dick Nichols said. Wishon and Courtright trout providing limits, Dave Hurley reported.


1-Try dynamite

2-Have to work hard

3-Limits possible

4-Fish jumpin’ in boat

Delta Mendota Canal

and Sloughs

Striper 3 Catfish 2

The northern section of the California Aqueduct is clearing up, and the boils are starting to form as the bait is congregating. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Anglers are finding boils, and they throwing ripbaits such as the Duo Realis 120 in white with halo flash tape or Rat-L-Traps while others are soaking bait for similar results. Anchovies, sardines, or blood worms are all working for the improved striped bass bite.”

In the southern portion of the aqueduct in Kern County, striped bass are also taken on topwater lures or Gitzits along with blood worms, anchovies, or sardines. Catfishing is best with chicken livers or Triple S dip bait in Blood Formula.

Call: Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis 292-3474; Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657

Eastman Lake

Bass 3 Trout 2 Bluegill 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Eastman remains the top Central Valley reservoir for largemouth bass. Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “Eastman continues to be pretty good, but many of our local fishermen have been spoiled for a while, and they think the pretty good is actually a tough bite. The bass are holding in the shallows around the buck brush and trees along the edges, and they are spread out. You can hit a few on a single brush, move to a few more clumps of brush without a bass, and then find them again on another clump of brush or a tree from the bank to 15 feet in depth. Spinnerbaits, Senkos, creature baits, or jigs are all working as the fish are eating. The fish are moving into the shallows in the warm afternoons, and they are transitioning off of the sandy points in the north of the lake towards the cover in the shallows. Eastman remains our best lake for big fish in the region. At 12- to 15-pound four fish limit is the norm for tournament winners now, down from the close to 20-pound limits a few weeks ago.” The lake held at 41 percent.

Call: Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; Eastman Lake 689-3255

Hensley Lake

Bass 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Newman said, “Bass fishing remains slow with most fishermen heading further north to Eastman. Senkos, jigs, or reaction baits on a slow, methodical presentation are working for a few bass. Catfishing remains very slow with whiskerfish anglers heading to either the sloughs or the California Aqueduct.” The lake held at 13 percent.

Call: Valley Rod Gun, Clovis 292-3474; Six Star Tackle Box 673-5688; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake Hidden Dam 673-5151

Lake Don Pedro

Bass 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 2 King salmon 1 Crappie 2

Rainbow trout remain the top species at the lake with the normal offerings of lures such as silver/blue Kastmasters, Needlefish, Apex lures, or Cripplures at depths to 70 feet. The kokanee are in full spawn mode, and few fishermen are targeting the landlocked salmon. Bass fishing continues to be slow, but the bait should be schooling up soon as the water temperatures continue to cool. Boat traffic is down to a minimum despite the recent hot spell. The lake dropped to 75 percent.

Call: Monte Smith 209-581-4734; Gary Vella 209-652-7550

Lake Isabella/

Bakersfield area

Bass 2 Trout 2 Crappie 3 Catfish 3 Bluegill 2

Lake Isabella is still kicking out crappie with minijigs, small Kastmasters, or live minnows while catfishing remains solid with chicken livers, minnows, Triple S dip bait in Blood Formula, or nightcrawlers. Bass fishing is picking up in the reduced pool of water which held at 14 percent. In the upper Kern River, there are holdover rainbow trout in the deep pools, but with the low water, they have become increasingly difficult to hook. Salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, live crickets, or lures such as Kastmasters or Panther Martins are working for the occasional trout. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, and carp are taken from the shorelines from the dam into the city limits in the lower Kern River. Buena Vista is also kicking out small, but numerous, catfish on the Triple S dip bait.

Call: Bob’s Bait Bucket 661-833-8657; North Fork Marina 760-376-1812

Lake Kaweah

Bass 2 Crappie 2 Trout 2 Catfish 2

The lake has dropped to only 6 percent of capacity, and the bass are holding around the shad in the reduced pool of water. Rockpiles or submerged island tops are the best locations to find bass, and there are some fish moving into the shallower water around the rocks or submerged structure. Plastics on the drop-shot or jigs are the best option with the occasional larger fish taken on topwater lures in the shallows early or late. Catfish have been taken at night on cut baits or prepared dip baits.

Call: Sierra Sporting Goods 592-5212

Lake Success

Bass 3 Trout 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2 Bluegill 2

The Porterville Bass Club held an event on Sunday, and a 22-pound limit took first place with second place taken at 16.27 pounds. Gary Wasson of Kingsburg took third with a limit at 16.06 pounds with a big fish at 6.40. Vertical presentations with jigs, Senkos, and lizards are the best bet, and there are some bass taken on spoons. The lake dropped to 8 percent. In the Tule River, Chuck Stokke of the Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville is giving fly casting lessons at the Pierpoint Café the second Sunday of the month at 10 a.m. The lessons are free and all equipment is provided.

Call: Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626,

McClure Reservoir

Bass 3 Trout 2 King salmon 0 Kokanee 0 Crappie 2 Catfish 3

Steve Marquette of the Lakes McClure/McSwain Recreational Company said, “Bass fishing has been good all year long, and Darren Peters of Merced landed an 11-pound largemouth bass on a dark colored plastics on a Texas-rig. Catfishing remains outstanding with a variety of baits, and the catfishing is as good as it has ever been here.” Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford pre-fished the lake recently, and he said, “We found a solid topwater bite with River2Sea Swavers on Saturday morning, and we followed up with ripbaits before working the bottom with Berserk’s jigs on a 3/8- or quarter-ounce jig head. The Berserk Purple Hornet or brown/purple are both working, and there are some areas where the bass want a fast fall and others when they just want it shaking on the bottom. I chose the size of the weight depending on what the bass show us they want. Sunday was completely different as the reaction bite was dead with the cold morning, and we had to go to the bottom right away at depths from 10 to 30 feet so the bass are moving up. They were on the banks in 3 to 6 feet of water on Saturday morning. There is shad all over the lake, and the bass move out into open water with the water dropping and the shad moving out. The surface temperature is still in the 74 to 76-degree range. The lake dropped to 62 percent.


Joshua Allison caught this 3-pound, 18-inch bass on a buzz bait at Millerton Lake.

courtesy Joshua Allison Special to The Bee

McSwain Reservoir

Trout fishing was slow over the past weekend with half of the lake dominated by the annual model airplane regatta, but a few anglers continued to find planted rainbows with Roostertails, nightcrawlers, or trout dough bait. Trout plants will occur around every three weeks, and the annual Merced Irrigation District’s Fall Trout Derby is Oct. 6-7, and there will be trout plants prior to the derby.

Call: McSwain Marina 209-378-2534

Millerton Lake/

San Joaquin River

Bass 3 Striped bass 1 Shad 1 Bluegill 2 Crappie 2

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The spotted bass are moving up in the late afternoons throughout the lake, and the last two to three hours of daylight have been the best time for finding spots in the shallows. The Madera side of the lake near the dam or Winchell’s Cove have been good locations for bass as there is shad throughout the lake. A few small boils are showing up, but they are primarily smaller fish working the boils. The best cut of bass has been coming on larger 6-inch plastics on Green Weenie, Pro Gold, or Hologram Shad on a drop-shot or Texas-rig which are traditional Millerton pattern. The striped bass bite remains slow.” The lake held at 53 percent.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474

New Melones


Bass 2 Crappie2 Catfish 2 Trout 2 Kokanee 1

The huge rainbow trout that have been landed at New Melones continue to come in drips and drabs, and this week was no exception with Mark Armanini of Boulder Creek landing a 9-pound rainbow trout near the spillway at 85 feet. The rainbow trout are scarce, but they are big, and as the water temperatures cool, the action for the larger fish should improve. Larger spoons at depths from 60 to 100 feet are working best for the occasional trophy rainbows, but the fish will be moving up within the next month, eventually rising to the surface when the lake turns over by mid-November.

For largemouth and spotted bass, the topwater bite remains slow, but the shad schools are forming with the slightly cooler water temperatures. The bass are transitioning from a summer to fall pattern, and the bite will improve with the temperatures dropping. Plastics on the drop-shot or small swimbaits in shad patterns have produced numbers of bass while the larger grade can be taken in the warmer waters of the afternoons in the shallows with crankbaits or jerkbaits.

Call: Glory Hole Sports 209-736-4333; Monte Smith 209-581-4734; John Liechty Xperience Fishing Guide Service 209-743-9932

lower kings

Ish Chavez shows off a stringer caught below Pine Flat Dam.

courtesy Ish Chavez Special to The Bee

Pine Flat Reservoir/

Kings River

Bass 2 Trout 3 Kokanee 0 King salmon 0 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “At Pine Flat, It is a tougher bite than a few weeks back, and there are different techniques necessary in various parts of the lake. In the main lake and near the dam, the shad schools are thick, and fishermen are scoring with ice jigs, weightless wacky-rigs, or plastics on the drop-shot while upriver, the reaction bite is much better with topwater lures or jerkbaits. The bass are holding deeper in the main lake, and a vertical presentation is working best. You have to put the lure in their face, but they will bite. Working the ice jigs or plastics in and around the normal locations are producing.”

Pine Flat dropped slightly to 23 percent.

In the lower Kings River, trout action continues to be excellent for planted rainbows with Kastmasters or drifting salmon eggs or Power Bait from the moving water into the slower eddies. Once the river drops, the planters will congregate in the pools.

Call: Valley Rod & Gun 292-3474; Sequoia Fishing Co. 539-5626

San Luis Reservoir

and O’Neill Forebay

Striper 3 Catfish 2 Bass 2 Crappie 2

Striped bass are taking center stage at the main San Luis Reservoir, and with recent landings of big fish, more and more boat and bank fishermen are heading over to the lake.

Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service continued his hot streak for big striped bass with a released 39-inch , 22-pound lineside on Saturday, his 10th fish between 12 to 32 pounds landed since mid August. Six of the 10 fish were over 20 pounds.

George will be conducting seminars on downrigging, sonar, lures and tips on Oct. 20 at the Striperfest at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno. Local guru Edd Allen will also be doing a seminar on using and setting up your sonar. Pre-registration at the store is encouraged for limited seating.

Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “There has been some solid action for kayakers, bank fishermen, and trollers, but the wind has limited the kayak fishermen. There has been some boil activity, and the sales of flukes and topwater lures such as flukes are going up as the stripers are starting to chase. Anchovies and sardines are also popular for anglers sitting on the banks.”

Coyote Bait and Tackle reported trollers are working P-Line Predator Minnows or umbrella rigs while shore fishermen are soaking extra-large or jumbo minnows along with tossing Magnum Flukes from Dinosaur Point or the Basalt Recreation Area.

The forebay is starting to produce numbers of striped bass, and although the majority are undersized, there are keepers in the mix. Pile worms, blood worms, and anchovies are all effective with the moving water around Check 12, and catfish are showing up with chicken livers or mackerel. Kayak fishermen are tossing ripbaits or topwater lures in the emerging boils.

The main lake rose to 53 percent with increased pumping out of the south Delta.

Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle 408-463-0711, Roger George of, 905-2954

High Sierra

Bass 3 Trout 2 Kokanee 0

Steve Newman at Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The bass bite will remain the same until the weed growth dies with cold weather and water temperatures, and with less boat traffic on the lake, the jerkbait and crankbait bite is coming on. Once the water cools enough, the swimbait bite will start sometime in October. At the present time, drop-shotting in bluegill patterns with blue/gold are working best at depths from 20 to 30 feet while the best cut of bass is taken on weightless Senkos. The Sheriff’s boat is still making regular patrols, and with the Sheriff’s Tower out of commission, boaters have to purchase their Motor Fee at Miller’s, Ducey’s, or the Forks. Fewer rainbow trout have been landed by bass fishermen drop-shotting, but the trout bite will improve as the water cools. The lake continues to release water, and it dropped from 89 to 84 percent.

Call: Todd Wittwer 288-8100; Mike Beighey 642-3748


Mammoth Pool

Brown trout 2 Trout 2

Few reports are coming out of the Kaiser Pass area despite the opening of the deer rifle season. The lakes are dropping with Edison at 50, Mammoth Pool at 25 percent, and Florence at 6 percent. The Vermilion Valley Resort at Lake Edison is open and fully operational for hikers, and the ferry is operating across Edison Lake twice a day, leaving the VVR at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pickup is on the Mono Pass side of the lake at 9:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Check the Caltrans website at or call 800-427-7623 for road conditions.

Call: Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake 259-4000

Shaver Lake/

Huntington Lake

Kokanee 3 Trout 3

Rainbow trout are taking center stage at Shaver Lake, but this doesn’t mean the kokanee are gone for the season. After a summer filled with tremendous kokanee fishing for the most part, the landlocked salmon are still showing up for those targeting the species. The kokanee are well on their way to the attempt to spawn, changing colors, absorbing their scales, and hooked jaws.

Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The kokanee bite was a little slow earlier in the week, but on Saturday, our boat picked up 11 kokanee near the point and in front of the Shaver Marina at depths from 36 to 42 feet with orange Mountain hoochies tipped with scented corn behind a Mountain dodger. With the late season fish needing some encouragement, my ball trolls have been the key to catching fish, and all of our kokanee on recent trips have been taken on the downriggers near the ball trolls. I have been scoring up to 4 limits of rainbows on recent trips, but after my clients didn’t arrive on Saturday, I fished exclusively for kokanee, releasing a pair of limits. The trout bite is very good in the Tunnel Creek area, and the bite should hold up for a while even though the water level has risen around 10 feet. The rainbows are loaded with insects coming down Tunnel Creek and off of the shorelines, and we have been scoring with Dick’s Trout Busters tipped with a piece of nightcrawler and corn behind a Mountain Flasher at depths from 4 to 24 feet. The rainbows are much closer to the surface now that they are feeding on insects.”

The lake rose to 88 percent.

Call: Dick Nichols, Dick’s Fishing Charters 281-6948; Todd Wittwer, Guide Service 288-8100; Dinkey Creek Inn 841-3435; Rancheria Marina 893-3234; Shaver Lake Sports Inc. 841-2740; Tom Oliveira Fishing 802-8072; Steve Santoro Fish Box Charters 871-3937


Trolling remains the top technique at Wishon with blade/’crawler combinations at 10 to 30 feet on the downrigger or leadcore the top technique for limits of rainbows. Tossing Roostertails or Panther Martins from the shorelines near the rocks are doing well while fly fishermen are heading up the river arm from the headwater to find excellent action with dry flies in insect patterns. The lake remains high and launching a boat is easy.

At Courtright, trout trolling is good with limits possible with blade/’crawler combinations from the surface to 20 feet either on the downrigger or leadcore line. The trout have moved higher in the water column with the cooler water temperatures. Shore fishing is only fair with the best action at the upper end of the lake with trout dough bait in pink, red, or green. Launching a boat is easy as the courtesy dock is back in the water, and the water level has been stable around mid-level.

Call: Wishon RV Park 865-5361

Half Moon Bay

Salmon 2 Striper 2 Surf perch 3

Salmon have made a reappearance outside of the harbor as the Coastside Fishing Club plants are starting to show up. Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete went out in the afternoon with his son, Braden, for two trolled salmon while he said, “The six-pack, Mooch Better, had 12 salmon outside of the harbor in the morning with a real good bite. He went back out for three more fish in the evening. Private boats had up to five salmon by 8:30 on Sunday morning. Of the 12 salmon that were landed on the Mooch Better, 9 were tagged fish, and we are collecting heads to see how many of these fish are the Coastside plants.”

Salmon season closes Oct. 31, and Dungeness crab recreational season opens Nov. 3. The Huli Cat is the only large party boat out of Half Moon Bay running the popular crab/rockfish combination trips starting Nov. 3.

Call: Captain Dennis Baxter, New Captain Pete 650-576-3844; Captain Tom Mattusch, Huli Cat 650-619-0459

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Rockfish 3 Striper 2 Sand dabs 2 Surf perch 3

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey said. “The weather has kept us local over the weekend, and the quality of the rockfish is only fair, but we are getting limits every day along with a few lings. The weather is expected to be flat on Tuesday, and we are making the run south to Point Sur with room on the open load. Captain Tinker has found some new spots down south, and we have taken some huge lings to 35 pounds in the past weeks.”

Allen Bushnell of Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting said, “A strong, but mercifully brief south swell slowed the pace of fishing in Monterey Bay at the start of this week. High winds over the weekend didn’t help matters much, either. Since then the waves have subsided and winds are down to a more normal level. September and October are months that often feature full days of calm seas and sunny skies, but weather will always be variable. One thing for sure, there is no shortage of fish to catch in the bay.”

Call: Chris’ Landing 831-375-5951; Allen Bushnell, Santa Cruz Kayak and Surf Casting 831-251-9732

San Francisco Bay

Salmon 2 Halibut 2 Striper 2 Rockfish 3 Leopard shark 3 Sturgeon 2

The salmon bite was exceedingly slow on Saturday and Sunday after the Salty Lady posted 10 limits of salmon to 29 pounds averaging between 18 and 22 pounds.

Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters out of Loch Lomond Marina said, “The conditions were excellent over the weekend with plenty of bait and birds, and we put in a salmon right away on Sunday morning, and I thought, ‘It is on!’ but it wasn’t to be as we struggled for 4 salmon to 12 pounds. The birds and bait were at the Channel Markers, and we could see the fish on the meter, but they wouldn’t bite. I think it will go off again in the near future. Saturday’s trip was more of the same with three salmon, but we also landed a Bite Me first with a 3-foot barracuda.”

Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing had a similar score with 4 bites for 4 salmon on Sunday after finding epic rockfish action at the Farallons on Saturday. He said, “We picked up 8 limits of lings to 25 pounds along with 8 limits of quality rockfish and finished by 1 p.m. The Farallons were definitely the place to be, and I will be running more rockfish trips in the coming month.”

Captain Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing took out 14-year-old Luke Darby of Concord for a limit of salmon between 7 and 10 pounds along with limits of rockfish along the Marin coastline.

There are still halibut in the bay, and the California Dawn took out a light charter of 12 anglers on Saturday for 8 halibut before switching over to shark for six soupfins. Captain James Smith is taking another shark trip on Tuesday.

Call: Captain Trent Slate, Bite Me Charters 415-307-8582; Happy Hooker 510-223-5388; Captain Jerad Davis, Salty Lady 415-760-9362; Captain Steve Mitchell 707-655-6736

San Luis Obispo

Rockfish 3 Surf perch 3

Rockfishing remains excellent with rockfish limits the rule along with a few ling cod in the mix. Out of Port San Luis, the Phenix and Patriot out of Patriot Sport Fishing scored limits for 26 anglers on Monday with 4 ling cod, 51 vermilion, 59 copper, and 150 assorted rockfish. Out of Morro Bay Landing, the Avenger took out 23 fishermen for limits of rockfish on Monday with 4 lings to 6 pounds to go with 90 vermilion and assorted rockfish. Out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay, the Fiesta went out with 17 anglers on Monday for 7 lings to 7 pounds along with limits of rockfish consisting of 30 vermilion, 128 assorted rockfish, 10 canary, and 2 cabezon. All landings are running a variety of bottom fishing trips from half-day to two-day ventures up the coast. Out of Virg’s, the Black Pearl has overnight trips this weekend, Oct. 5-6, Oct. 19-20 and Nov. 16-17 with an open two-day trip on Dec. 28-30.

Call: Virg’s Landing 800-762-5263; Patriot Sport Fishing 805-595-4100


Bass 3 Striper 3 Sturgeon 2 Catfish 2 Bluegill 2 Salmon 3

Salmon are the big story throughout the Delta along with more and more striped bass rushing in. The heat wave over the weekend slowed the salmon bite a bit in the north Delta, but there have been some incredible scores of up to 30 salmon off of Benicia shorelines and all points in between on the Delta including the Antioch piers, Freeport shoreline, and in the Old Sacramento River from the mouth to Walnut Grove.

The salmon limit on the Sacramento, Feather, and American River is one fish per day with two in possession, but the limit on the Mokelumne River is 2 fish daily with 4 in possession. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will clarify the regulations on the Mokelumne with an upcoming press release.

Benicia Bait reported 30 salmon were landed off of 1st Street on both Tuesday and Wednesday along with more at the Dillon Point State Park. He said, “The last two days have been outstanding, and we are selling a load of Vee-Zee spinners in green/yellow.” A 28-inch striped bass was also landed on a Vee-Zee while casting for salmon off of 1st Street.

In the Rio Vista area, Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures out of Bethel Harbor has been making the run north of the Rio Vista Bridge to troll his custom salmon spinners. They have been working the past few days with a number of salmon landed after a few empty trips earlier in the season. They put in limits by noon on Thursday, and the custom double-bladed chartreuse spinner has been the top producer with at least one fish taken every trip within the past week.

In the Old Sacramento River, Sylvia Vieira of Vieira’s Riverside Bait near Isleton reported the parking lot was completely filled on Sunday morning by 7:15 p.m., and prior to the weekend’s resurgence in heat, all of the action occurred prior to 11:00 a.m. She said, “It was different on Saturday with all of the fish taken in the afternoon into the evening as the heat is pushing the water temperature back up. The action has been very good over the past week with many anglers returning with one-fish limits. Our fishermen are getting used to the one-fish limit, and after limiting out early one day, they are coming back the following day where they used to wait two or three days before launching again.”

Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport has been texting pictures of salmon landed from the shoreline on Slammer Spinners or jigging with Slammer Minnows. Salmon to 24 pounds have been landed out of Freeport. Live mudsuckers along with sardines coated with garlic spray are working for striped bass in the main river and near Liberty Island while smallmouth bass are found around rocky structure in Miner Slough, Steamboat Slough, or around Walnut Grove with deep-diving crankbaits or plastics on the drop-shot.

Kenji Nakagawa of Lodi said, “We fished over the weekend from Rio Vista up to the north Delta, and we had success with fish up to 10-lbs on top water plugs. We saw signs of huge fish on the main river with multiple fish in the 20-to 30-lb. class swirling on our plugs and glide baits. We just couldn’t get any fish to commit. We burned a ton of gas and made hundreds of casts for a few minutes of action. I may focus my efforts out west this coming weekend in favor of some numbers over size.”

Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, found great action for striped bass on Tuesday in the shallows around Collinsville. He said, “If our count was right, we released 35 keepers to 20 pounds along with 8 or 9 shakers. We also found a few in the 7/8-pound range, and I was trolling P-Line Angry Eyes while my partner was running Yozuri Crystal Minnows, all shallow-runners.”

Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, reported one of his friends launched out of Sherman Island and ran up as far as Liberty Island in search of striped bass. He said, “He burned an entire tank of gas running up north, but he found great action along the West Bank and Winter Island with Fish Traps for 75 stripers to 22 pounds released while the action at Liberty was slow.”

The 71st Rio Vista Bass Derby and Festival is only a few weeks away on Oct. 12-14, and there will be target-length competitions for striped bass and sturgeon with another category for the largest salmon weighed. A Kid’s Derby for striped bass or catfish is also on tap with a $5 entry fee. Information on the West Coast’s oldest fishing derby is available at

‘They are catching everything right now,’ said Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch, summing up the action on the San Joaquin-Delta at the end of summer. Striped bass, largemouth bass, sturgeon, salmon, bluegill, and crappie are all available as the San Joaquin rounds into prime time. The upcoming few weeks will also feature a plethora of big bass tournaments, starting with the FLW Costa – Delta event starting this week out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island.

Out of Korth’s Pirates Lair at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Mokelumne Rivers, Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing has returned to the Delta from a summer stint on the Cook Inlet in Alaska, and he said, “We have kicked off our 2018 fall/winter striper trips. The summer that just ill not end has to as folks couldn’t wait a day longer to go. With fall officially here as of September 22nd, we booked our first trip for the following day, and it was a great first day with over 50 stripers caught and released consisting of 10 keepers and 40 shakers using a combination of live bluegill and jumbo minnows. Bryce Tedford of Bryce Tedford’s Fly Fishing Guide Service joined us on Saturday for a salmon spooning trip on the South Fork of the Mokelumne River, and he was rewarded with an 18-pound hen on a 2-ounce P-Line Laser Minnow. It was cool to see a fly guy hook a nice king salmon on his first-ever spooning trip. We will be running salmon/striped bass combination trips through December along with full day striped bass trips until the end of the current year.”

Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was in search of striped bass this past week, and he reported a solid bite for 20 to 50 linesides per day using a combination of techniques including topwater with the ima Big Stick or Little Stick, subsurface with the Optimum’s Bad Bubba Shad in white with a chartreuse tail or Shiny Shad, or down deeper with the 2.5-ounce P-Line Laser Minnow on blue/chartreuse. He said, “Nearly all of the fish we are landing are keepers with most fish in the 2- to 5-pound range, and the fish are found shallow from 12 feet to the surface. For largemouth bass, the ima Flit 120 is working with the cooling water temperatures, but you have to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible. The fish do not want to chase the bait very far. The ima Rock N’Vibe Suspend is also effective as it has a larger profile, and when I am fishing the ima Little Stick, the key is to ‘pop’ it, let it sit, and ‘pop’ it again. The big largemouth bass are not playing right now, but every once in a while, you can find a good one. Our Best Bass Tournament’s Tournament of Champions is coming to Russo’s Marina on the weekend of Oct. 13-14.”

George Wight, one of the original charter members of the California Striped Bass Association in 1974, found great topwater action this week, releasing a number of stripers including this trophy out of Antioch.

Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley reported good striper fishing with a variety of lures including topwater and Optimum’s Bad Bubba Shad. He said, “There have been a number of salmon landed off of the piers in Antioch on spinners, and most everyone trolling north of the Rio Vista Bridge is picking up a fish.”

Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Keeper stripers are coming from everywhere right now. You name it, Discovery Bay, West Island, Sherman Island, Broad Slough, Pittsburg, and Frank’s Tract as the stripers are throughout the Delta. Plugging, drifting live jumbo minnows or mudsuckers, or soaking anchovies, sardines or fresh shad are all working. Sturgeon are also hitting fresh shad off of Decker Island, Chain Island, and in Broad Slough, and we are getting in quality fresh shad regularly right now. Salmon are taken off of Compy’s Pier in Antioch, and one angler picked up salmon at 14, 17, and 18 pounds on consecutive days using Perry’s lures which have a higher profile than a Mepp’s Flying C. Bluegill are coming from the normal locations in the south Delta, and there are schools of crappie in the 1.5- to 2-pound range taken in Sandmound Slough, Locke Slough, and inside of Frank’s Tract on the south end in the weeds. A group of fishermen have been working over the school in Frank’s for three weeks after finding them on wax worms while targeting red ear perch. Crappie are the one species that no one wants to give up their spots.”

Call: Randy Pringle 209-543-6260; Captain Mike Gravert, Intimidator Sport Fishing 916-806-3030; Vince Borges, Vince Borges Outdoors 209-918-0828; J.D. Richey, Richey’s Sport Fishing 916-952-1554

Lake Nacimiento/

San Antonio/

Santa Margarita/Lopez

Bass 3 White bass 2 Striper 2 Catfish 2 Crappie 2

At Nacimiento, the lake has dropped to 14 percent, and caution is necessary to avoid the hazards in shallow water as there are several areas of the flats in less than 2 feet of water. The auxiliary launch ramp is still accessible. Spotted and white bass fishing has slowed somewhat in the past week, but the bass can still be taken on a combination of vertical presentations of jigs, plastics on the drop-shot, or spoons. The best action has been in the warmer water in the afternoons. The marina remains open for all services with the exception of gasoline. Panfishing is best with a wax worms, red worms, or meal worms around structure. A webcam of the lake is available at

At Lopez, largemouth bass are taken on topwater lures with River2Sea Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits, Zara Spooks, and small poppers in open water along with subsurface reaction baits around the outside weedline with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, or chatterbaits. Numbers are taken on finesse techniques of plastics on the drop-shot, Texas-rig, or shakey head. Mealworms, waxworms, or red worms are picking up both bluegill and red ear perch at depths to 20 feet. A webcam of the lake is available at

At Santa Margarita, a larger grade of bass continues to be found on topwater lures, crankbaits, or swimbaits, and buzzbaits are also effective in the early mornings. Numbers of a smaller grade of bass are taken on plastics on the drop-shot, shakey head, or Texas-rig around the Narrows while catfish are found in the coves with cut baits or stinkbaits. Bluegill and perch are moving into the shallows, and red worms or meal worms are working for the panfish. A webcam of the lake is available at

At San Antonio, the lake held at 13 percent, and the Harris Creek Ramp remains open. Boaters are advised to be cautious when launching with the hidden sand bar in front of the ramp. The Lynch Ramp is now closed with the low lake levels. Bass fishing is best with plastics on the drop-shot, Texas-rig, or spoons while creature baits are also effective on the traditional riggings of a Texas- or Carolina-rig. There is a small window for topwater before the bass drop in the water column, and similar to the other vertical presentations, small spoons are also working. Catfish remain the best option on the lake with dip baits, stink baits, or cut baits.

Call: Lake Nacimiento 805-238-1056, ext. 3; Lake San Antonio Marina 805-472-2818; Central Coast Bass 805-466-6557

101 Bass: Sept. 15 at Nacimiento – 1, Bobby Doss/Dustin Barker, 12.54 pounds; 2, Kyle Greenlaw/Jacob Cotta, 11.99; 3, Eddy Davidson/Herm Delore, 11.51.

Christian Bass League: Sept. 22 at Don Pedro –1, Dan Sexton/Nate Couchman, 19.16; 2, Chrsitian Ostrander/Anthony Fuller, 18.44 (Big Fish 6.34); 3, Miguel Perez/Bobby Moules, 14.80.

Sierra Bass Club: Sept. 22 at Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Dan Rippertella/Dave Smith, 19.01; 2, Derrick Smith/Michael Coss, 18.96 (Big Fish 5.75); 3, Michael Murphy/Angela Ochoa, 18.54.

River Rat Bass Club: Sept. 22 at Delta/Ladd’s Marina – 1, Michael and David Romuar, 16.87 (Big Fish 7.57); 2, Jerry and Yoham Chang, 15.85; 3, Mike Anthony/Cody Miller, 14.92.

Kayak Bass Fishing (5-fish limits): Sept. 22 at Delta/Ladd’s Marina – 1, Gino Quizon, 88.25 inches; 2, Brandon Miller, 86.00; 3, Tyler Jackson, 85.00. Big Fish – David Larson, 23.50.

Sept. 27-29: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Forrest L. Wood Cup

Sept. 29: Pine Flat – Golden Empire Bass Club, Nacimiento – 101 Bass

Oct. 6-7: Lake McSwain – Merced Irrigation Trout Derby

Oct. 6: Delta/B and W Resort – Sonora Bass Anglers, Delta/Russo’s Marina – Yak-A-Bass, New Hogan – Manteca Bassin’ Buddies, McClure – Angler’s Press, Isabella – Lake Isabella Bass Club, Santa Margarita – Kern County Bassmasters

Oct. 7: Delta/Ladd’s Marina – Modesto Ambassadors, Don Pedro – Poe Man’s, Millerton – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

Oct. 12-14: Delta/Rio Vista – 71st Annual Rio Vista Bass Tournament and Festival

Oct. 13-14: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Best Bass Tournaments- Tournament of Champions, Nacimiento – San Luis Obispo County Bass Ambushers TOC

Oct. 13: Camanche – Riverbank Bass Anglers, New Melones – Christian Bass League, McClure – Bakersfield Bass Club/Tri Valley Bass Masters, Pine Flat – Kerman Bass Club, Kaweah – Golden Empire Bass Club, Nacimiento – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

Oct. 14: Eastman – Kings VIII Bass Club, Hensley – Central Valley Kayak Fishing, Success – Porterville Bass Club

Oct. 20-21: Delta/B and W Resort – Fresno Bass Club TOC, Delta/Russo’s Marina – Dan’s Delta Outdoors TOC, Delta/Tracy Oasis- Tracy Oasis Marina

Oct. 20: New Melones – Stanislaus County Employees, McClure – Sierra Bass Club/Merced Bass Club, Kaweah – RiverRats Bass Club

Oct. 21: Lake Camanche – Lodi High Bass Team, Kaweah – Cen Cal Elite Bass Tournaments

Oct. 27: McClure – American Bass Association, Success – Porterville Bass Club

Oct. 28: Delta/Russo’s Marina – Hook, Line, and Sinker

Solunar table









































q = quarter moon> = peak activity


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