Trolling for striped bass in the main stem Sacramento River, above and below Rio Vista, continues to amaze happy anglers. Bass, 4 to 10 pounds, are hitting shallow-running lures in limit numbers for many boats that ply eight to 10 feet of water on the incoming tide.
The spring run is early, no doubt, even in frigid water, especially along Decker Island, West Bank and Sandy Beach Regional Park, and above town at Ryer Island Ferry.
Ron Halvorson at Thornton Road Bait in Stockton said shallow-running lures, silver sides with either a blue or black back, are the ticket. Take your pick among Angry Eye, Rebel and Yo-Zuri with a white trailing plastic worm.
"Even in the heavy winds last Friday and Saturday the trollers caught limits on the incoming tide," Halvorson said. "There appear to be some larger stripers to 3 pounds in the upper Mokelumne River near the old grain mill for guys who drift live jumbo minnows."
Threadfin shad dunkers also hook their share of bass but have to contend with flounders normally associated with the bays. The high salt content of the Sacramento River has allowed the flat fish to move well up the estuary. Who says there is adequate freshwater outflows to push back the encroaching salt?
Barry Canevaro of Fish Hookers Sportfishing in Isleton was fishing above Rio Vista and accidentally caught and had to release a 20-pound winter run salmon, right at the Isleton Bridge. The king bit a red-chartreuse P-Line Predator.
"It was real surprising," Canevaro said. "We kept it in the chrome bright salmon in the water and released it."
He said the striped bass bite had slowed from last week's torrid pace, likely because of the full moon and an outgoing tide most of the day. Canevaro responded by trolling in deep water with deep-diving lures. He's moving his two charter boats back to Isleton in time for the March 9 California Striped Bass Association derby.
"I expect the bass and sturgeon bite to really turn on, especially if the weekend temperatures climb to above 70 degrees," he said. "Warmer water should do the trick."
Largemouth bass fishing appears to be improving with the warmer water, as well, though the sizes of the keepers that measure greater than 12 inches still is 1 1/2 to 3 pounds. A 5-pounder is a rarity. Jigs and soft plastics do best.
Catfishing is sensational for levee anglers who toss out shad, clams, chicken liver or cut bait such as mackerel or sardine.
Ocean - Windy, rough seas and little angler interest in combination trips. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the opening of groundfish seasons for recreational angling in the following areas and depths: North Coast, May 15-Oct. 31 in 20 fathoms or less; Mendocino Coast, May 15-Labor Day in 20 fathoms or less; South of Pigeon Point to Point Sur, May 1-Dec. 31 in 40 fathoms; and outside San Francisco Bay from Pigeon Point north to Duxbury in 30 fathoms or less. The daily bag is 10 mixed rockfish with lingcod as a bonus catch. To check the regulations go to: dfg.ca.gov/marine.
San Pablo Bay - Heavy north breezes coupled with a herring spawn squelched fishing the past week until Monday afternoon. That's when Stockton's Ross Petersen and Halvorson anchored about 2:30 p.m. at the Pump House with nary another boat in sight. They dunked ghost shrimp and mud shrimp for four hours and accumulated an oversized and undersized sturgeon, a rubber lip perch, sand sharks and a dozen striped bass in the 18- to 22-inch bracket. "The weather was beautiful and we fished the outgoing tide," Halvorson said. "It was non-stop action."
American - On the slow side for steelhead with the only bite occurring in the upper sections near Nimbus Basin. No word of striped bass in the lower reaches.
Klamath - Good late-winter run of half-pound steelhead with a mix of adults, 3 to 5 pounds. The best location is from Orleans to Happy Camp.
Sacramento - Wild rainbow trout, 12 to 20 inches, readily hit on flies, crickets, nightcrawlers and back-bounced lures such as Wee Wart and Hot Shot. Fish are spread from Redding to Red Bluff.
Amador - Some days the trout, 2 to 6 pounds, respond well to flies, grubs, lures and Power Bait. On other days, anglers really scratch for a nibble. Concessionaires release 1,000 pounds of trophy-sized Donaldson trout daily, Monday through Friday. Crappie are showing on top of submerged islands.
Camanche - Stocking this week split 1,200 pounds of trout between the main lake and South Shore Pond. Trolling is fair and improving at the Narrows and from Hat Island to the dam. The lake is 79 percent full with inflows of more than 900 cfs from upstream Pardee Dam. Big rainbows of the week topped 6 pounds. Typical trout measure 16 to 18 inches and weight about 2 pounds. Crappie seem to respond to jigs and live minnows. Black bass are deep.
Los Vaqueros - 1,000 pounds of Mt. Lassen trout will be planted today. Expect trollling to improve with Rapals, Roostertails and Kasttmasters. A good spot to hook a stocked trout is along the bank or from a boat pulling a flasher and garden hackle. There's almost too much wildlife activity with both rattlesnakes and mountain lions spotted last week.
New Melones - Dropped about 12 inches with water 73 feet below spill. Trolling for trout is slow. Bank anglers manage a rainbow or two to 4 pounds, especially on the Gory Hole side. Garlic-scented Power Bait is the ticket in stained water. Spotted bass are deep. Crappie are a little more active, 15 to 40 feet down, on red worms and minnows.
Pardee - More than 9,000 pounds of trout have been released since the lake re-opened Feb. 15. Shoreline fishing is good at the boat house, Jackson Creek spillway, Woodpile Gulch and Rainbow Point. Best from first light. Two monster-sized fish, a 7-pound brown trout and a 6.68-pound smallmouth turned heads. Small kokanee, 10 to 12 inches, are showing for trollers.