Fishing is not good in the central Delta, but in western quarters, there are plenty of fish to catch, according to Barry Canevaro of Fish Hookers Sportfishing in Isleton.
"The area known as Sturgeon Alley - between Roe and Ryer islands - is full of fish, both striped bass and sturgeon," Canevaro said. "On Monday, we caught bass to 9 pounds and saw one boat hook four sturgeon and retain two keepers to 55 inches."
The water was 48 degrees.
Stripers seems to prefer sardine fillets (cured with Pro Cure scents) and threadfin shad, while sturgeon seem to prefer salmon roe and lamprey eel. The bite has softened on bullheads.
"Water is so cold, 48 degrees in the morning, that stripers only munch and inhale the bait. They don't run," Canevaro said.
It's a typical winter bite. Every slight nibble could turn out to be a big fish, so anglers must be attentive.
"The bite is soft," said Ron Halvorson at Thornton Road Bait, the only shop that has a continuous supply of fresh threadfin shad. "They are hooking striped bass at Sturgeon Bend on the San Joaquin River, using shad. Bass go 5 to 6 pounds, occasionally larger to 10 pounds."
Halvorson said his anglers are scoring 25-fish limits of crappie off Eight Mile Road, under the docks at Paradise Bridge and other structure. Live minnows are the ticket.
Hap's Bait in Rio Vista reported seeing more striped bass on the Sacramento River at the Rio Vista bridge and sturgeon in Cache Slough. The farther up into the system anglers try, the colder the water. Trollers are hooking hook a few bass in Shag Slough, but the bite for lure pullers is pretty slow.
School-sized bass to 7 pounds respond to bait on Santa Clara Shoals, Old River Flat and Old River at Discovery Bay. Some boaters cover miles of water looking for schools of bait. When they discover a school they spoon or drop live jumbo minnows for some quick action. The trick is finding the baitfish.
Diehard black bass enthusiasts slow-move jigs and plastics in the deeper water, on the outside of weed mats. Largemouth average 1 to 3 pounds, with very few big fish.
Many anglers intend to stay off the water until after the International Sportsman's Exposition from Jan. 19-22 at Sacramento's Cal Expo - the largest event of its kind west of Chicago.
Hot news: Next year's Rio Vista Bass Derby in October will feature a fully loaded, $6,000 fishing boat for the lucky holder of a $10 ticket. Tickets will go on sale in January at riovistabassfestival.org.
Ocean - The lack of storms means plenty of opportunities for rockfish (the season closes Dec. 31) and pot pulling for Dungeness crab. Party boats from Monterey to Bodega bays offer a variety of trips, including combinations. Some claim anglers can "catch their own cioppino." Inquire if a trip also includes a shot at lingcod, which are available in rocky, near-shore waters.
San Pablo Bay - Good sturgeon prospects this weekend with big tides in the 7-foot class. The area above the Pumphouse and Sonoma Creek is holding fish, but the impending herring spawn might draw sturgeon back down into the bay. Weather is flat. Striped bass fishing has really tailed off.
Amador - Trophy-size trout are released daily, giving anglers the opportunity of hooking 2- to 6-pound beauties. The lake is about 12 feet below spill, clear and cold. Trout hold in the top 10 feet.
Bay area - Impoundments including Shadow Cliffs near Livermore and Lafayette Reservoir near Moraga will share 23,000 pounds of trout stocked by Fish and Game through Dec. 31.
Camanche - The impoundment is 60 percent full with inflows from Pardee Dam pegged at 280 cfs. Trollers work the top 10 feet. Bank fishing is good at both south and north shores, as well as the South Pond, where a 7-pound rainbow was claimed this week.
Los Vaqueros - The north entrance remains closed, but the south entrance re-opened this week for shoreline angling. The marina is closed, and there are no services. The best fishing is for striped bass with sardines or anchovies. Bass to 6 pounds were hooked Monday. For questions about access, (925) 371-2628.
New Melones - Very good action for recently stocked 12-inch trout and holdover rainbows in the 2- to 3-pound bracket. Slow trolling a threaded nightcrawler or gob of Power Bait is quite effective. So is tossing Power Bait below a 24-inch leader from the shore at Tuttletown and Glory Hole. Some drift the main river arm and toss CD-5 Rapalas in the rainbow pattern. Saturday's WON Bass team tournament found most boats weighing five-fish limits. The winners were Alex Niapas and Garrett Anderson, who boated five bass weighing 14.44 pounds. Their catch included the tournament's big fish, a 4.81-pound largemouth. Bass were hooked 25 to 50 feet deep with jigs or four-inch shad pattern worms.