TULELAKE--Waterfowl hunting doesn't get much better than this past week in the Klamath Basin; We have had some real winter weather, and the birds are flying good.
There has been a big influx of new hunters with the storms on their way, and everyone seems to want to hunt the same field.Unit 7a on Lower Klamath is flooding up, and the birds want to be there. But so do the hunters.
Lower Klamath is seeing the best action lately as water has been flowing into Unit 8, 9b and 9c, and 7a, so with all that freshly flooding areas, most of the birds have been staying on the west side.
The Tulelake side has been slow and the lake is not shooting at all. The Spaced Blind area has some geese, but there are not too many hunters out trying for them. Sump 1b has had steady action on ducks, with lots of sprig and teal to be had.
SoCal ducks: Wigeon arrive with winter blast
LAKESIDE - Timing was almost perfect with the first flocks of wigeon arriving at Southland shooting sites and that pretty nasty wintery storm blew through in a timely manner.
The first decent counts on wigeon were reported by the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge and Raahauge's Duck Cub in Prado Basin, but for some reason the migration passed over the Kern Refuge and these puddle ducks were not very high on the comp count from Wister for the Sat. shoot either. Hopefully more wigeon will move into our flyway with the passing and oncoming storm fronts and colder weather up in the Columbia Basin.
There were a couple of encouraging reports coming into WON from Wister about white geese counts. The refuge staff estimated that there were at least 600 birds flying over both the north and south ends of the refuge, but a better report came by way of Frank Theodoropoulos of Tustin who checked out the refuge on Sat. evening prior to attending a California Waterfowl Association fundraiser in Brawley.
"I would say there are about 1500 white geese on the refuge system and likely more will arrive this coming week. Hunting should be good at Wister and possibly a few birds bagged at the Union tract as geese look for green feed and big spreads of decoys," said Theodoropoulos.
Will Anacapa still be the place for yellows?
OXNARD — The first real winter storm of the season put the yellowtail bite on hold at Anacapa Island, where live squid had been doing the trick on a beautiful grade of yellowtail from the high 20s to low 40s.
The last boat to connect on the yellows last week before the weather rolled through was the Aloha Spirit out of Papa Hooks Landing. It put 3 of the big Anacapa Island yellowtail on the deck on a Thursday 5-to-5 trip.
“It’s all that good grade yellowtail over there on the squid… it’s been on the squid fished on the dropper loops and heavy slider,” reported Aloha Spirit owner/operator Shawn Steward on a call with WON Sunday night. Steward was not on his rig, but rather on Pat Cavanaugh’s Pacific Dawn, which is back on light boat duties. Steward said the volume of squid both along the beach below Oxnard as well as at the islands is pretty all time. With so much squid around, there’s hope that the yellowtail bite will roll right through into winter. Having squid in the receivers should help.
Take away the one yellowtail hit for the week, and what’s left is rockfish for the boats that ran before the weekend weather kept them tied up to the dock. The Island Spirit’s last trip of the week out of Papa Hook’s Landing was a Friday 3/4-day that gave up 83 rockfish and a lingcod for a super light load of 10 anglers.
Jeff Morgan at Channel Islands Sportfishing said that Friday was the last time the fleet ran for the week. The 6 boats had good bottom action, sacking up a combined 416 rockfish, 10 reds, 75 perch, 2 calico bass, 1 sand bass, 50 sheephead, 183 whitefish and 15 sculpin.
Both of the Ventura County Landings have trips scheduled daily, it’s all about getting enough reservations — and having good weather.
ANACAPA QUALITY — The grade on the yellowtail at Anacapa Island has been nothing short of stellar for the boats fishing Anacapa with live squid. Dick Giuliani of Eagle Rock did just that to score this 46-pound yellowtail on the Island Tak while on a charter with the boys from Bob Sands.
Rockfish, yellows and lobster give San Diego boats the variety package
SAN DIEGO — Weather issues aside, the San Diego fleet has had everything from rockfish and yellowtail to lobster and crabs in the counts for the night hooping trips out of H&M Landing.
Rick Marin at H&M reported that rockfish have been — or were — the best deal going prior to weather issues kicking in. “Both the Indian and the Malihini had good rockfishing on their last trips,” reported Marin. The Indian does its deepwater rockcod trips on Tuesday and Friday night, fishing the following days. The only trip to run on the Indian was the Tuesday night jaunt that fished Wednesday for full 10-fish limits on the cod. Thursday the Malihini was at the Coronados on a ¾-day trip when 20 anglers scored 4 lingcod and 138 rockfish. The local scene has revolved around rockfish as well. Sunday morning the Premier got out for 52 rockfish and 1 sand bass for 18 anglers. H&M Landing is offering hoop net trips for lobsters on the Alicia and Jig Strike. The last trips to run were Saturday, when the Alicia found 3 lobster and 30 crabs for 4 anglers. The same night the Jig Strike made it out with 10 anglers for 2 lobster and 20 crabs.
There’s been a little bit of yellowtail in the counts, both near and far. Seaforth had yellows to show for two of its trips that returned on Sunday. The Sea Watch had a yellowtail on its afternoon half-day trip to go with 38 rockfish, 1 sheephead, 4 sculpin and 7 reds. The Pacific Voyager ran a 2-day trip down the Baja Coast for 7 yellows to go with 230 rockfish and 223 reds.
Catalina bonito make for perfect fall surface targets
NEWPORT BEACH — There have not been too many sportboats fishing the islands as of late, but the few that have visited Catalina have found that the island’s bonito are not going anywhere.
The Freelance out of Davey’s Locker Sportfishing ended up with 124 bonito and a sculpin on a Saturday 3/4-day trip that had 23 anglers on the boat. Skipper Damon Davis was running the trip that braved through some weather to get to the island. The bones have ranged in size from small grade bones on up to 5 to 7 pounders.
Third annual Dana Wharf Halibut Derby gets its first leaders
DANA POINT — There’s been squid up and down the coast to make for bait, and a decent pick on the bass with the candy, but what is making the most news at Dana Wharf Sportfishing is the landing’s halibut derby.
The top three spots on the leader board have been filled in. First is being held down by Jerry Vyhnis with a 20-pound halibut. Paul Pappas is in second with a 8-pound, 2-ounce flattie and Bijan Ronagh has a 4-pound, 1-ounce halibut to put him in the number three slot.
Smith gets another big push of fall kings
SMITH RIVER—The Smith River is off and running again, filled up with big, bright king salmon that are now stretched out from the mouth all the way upriver, and the current weather conditions should maintain perfect fishing conditions.
The Smith dropped to 1,500 cfs before the rain and snow began a slow rise on Nov. 20, and it jumped to 4,000 cfs on the 21st. Fishing was getting tough before the new water, but it's looking better now.
"So those fish in the lower river probably started moving up toward the Forks," WON Field Reporter and guide Andy Martin of Wild River's Fishing said. "There were a lot of bright fish, so hopefully they will be around for a few weeks."
HEMET — It’s no secret to SoCal striper aficionados that late-fall/early-winter represent some of the best months of the year to target striped bass. And a dropping barometer, or even inclement weather itself, are surefire indications the bite should be on fire. Not surprisingly, last week, it was.
Herbert Perez of Corona bagged a 19-pound striper on a white Rat-L-Trap. Ryan Lock of Canyon Country nailed a 17.04 pounder while fishing a SPRO BBZ-1. Raul Chirino also used a white Rat-L-Trap for a 14-pound lineside. Gueda Chen of Los Angeles managed a 9.98 pounder while soaking mackerel. Matt Johnson of Hemet stuck a 9.45-pound fish using an AC Plug at the west shore, and Jim Bounleuth of Riverside had a pair of linesides at 8.15 and 7.7 pounds on a Lunker Punker.
According to lake staffer Jesse Dinkins, the best approach has been to “use swimbaits when DFG or Mt. Lassen drop trout, and fish shad baits like spoons or flukes when the trout get wiped out.”
In terms of trout, action “is improving with each subsequent stock,” Dinkins noted. “Fishing from shore with nightcrawlers, Power Trout Worms or minijigs is the way to go.” Noah Jimenez of Rialto caught an 8 ½-pound rainbow using PowerBait from shore. Another trout plant is slated for this week.
There’s also been a slight catfish bite taking place, with the north corner of the East Dam being a particular hot spot for those soaking mackerel or anchovies. In addition to the aforementioned striper, Gueda Chen of Los Angeles also had an 11.70-pound whiskerfish using mackerel.
THE STRIPER BITE was excellent this past week at Diamond Valley Lake, and Herbert Perez of Corona and Raul Chirino tagged these lunker linesides to 19 pounds using white Rat-L-Traps.
Good steelheading on mid-, upper
Klamath River; Trinity not so good
Eureka crabs and brant hunting on salt scene
EUREKA—There aren’t many saltwater reports that include waterfowl hunting, but one ocean-based bird that draws a crowd on Humboldt Bay is the black brant. For saltwater enthusiasts, brant offer an option when the outside ocean roughs up and becomes unfishable.
“Last year was a banner year for brant,” said John Corbett at the Pro Sport Center. This year, the hunting was great for the opener, and stayed good for about five days before the north wind came up and the action slowed. Then, this past weekend, the brant moved back in with south winds and hunters scored again.
Corbett hunted on Sunday morning with roommate Tom Helberg, and while the early morning was a little slow, a flock of about 25 birds decoyed perfectly about 8:30, and they scored their limits of two birds each.
“There were about 10 to 12 flocks that crossed the spit,” he said. The north wind will push the birds out, but the south wind makes for the best hunting. “Last year, we had south winds most of the season, and the hunting was great,” said Corbett.
Halibut bonus on Emeryville crab combo trips
CROCKETT—The crab combo trips offered by the New Huck Finn and New Seeker out of Emeryville Sportfishing have produced some bonus halibut, with a few quality flatties, including a 15 pounder on Saturday.
“We should have live bait for another week or two,” said Frank Salazar at the landing. The live bait option has made striped bass and halibut the likely pairing for the Dungeness crab efforts.
Through the week, the boats reported crab limits consistently. On Tuesday, the New Seeker scored crab limits for 11 anglers, plus 6 stripers and 2 halibut. On Thursday, that boat nailed limits of crabs for 20, plus 7 bass and 1 halibut. On Friday, the New Huck Finn pulled 9 crab limits plus 2 halibut, and on Saturday, 31 anglers had crab limits, 2 bass and a 15-pound halibut.
“Joey Memere of Sacramento caught the 15-pound halibut,” said Salazar. The New Seeker’s weekend trips focused on crabs only, finding 15 limits on Saturday.
Striper limits reward Happy Hooker anglers
MARTINEZ—Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker ran only one trip, but it was a good one, finding solid striped bass action. “We only went out on Saturday, with seven people,” said deck assistant Dave Marquardt.
“They caught 14 striped bass by noon,” he said. “We had a Coast Guardsman stationed at Petaluma out with us, and he was hot stick, his biggest fish a 10 pounder.” Jackpot fish went to Larry Nelson of Oakland, who has been on the Happy Hooker whopper list three weeks in a row. Nelson’s fish was a 12 pounder.
“We haven’t been able to find many bullheads,” said Marquardt. Saturday’s trip scored bites on a combination of the few bullheads they could scrounge, plus mudsuckers. “We caught them all on the sand bar above the Martinez Bridge,” he added.
Suisun Bay striper and sturgeon bite building
BENICIA—While the weekend wind and rain kept angler numbers down on Suisun Bay, those who remained dedicated reported good action on sturgeon and striped bass.
Tony Lopez took Sunday off from Benicia Bait and Tackle, but he was still keeping his finger on the Suisun Bay fishing pulse.
“I have a friend who has been catching striped bass to 30 pounds in Middle Grounds,” said Lopez. “Sturgeon fishing went off at the yellow cans, but with the weather and the wind, not many anglers were out.”
Bullheads have been hard to come by, but he said Benicia Bait still had a few dozen on Saturday. “You can call and reserve your bait, and we’ll give you the best ones,” said Lopez. “That’s the surest way to make sure you’ll have some.”
Delta sturgeon and stripers throughout,
but watch the weather
NEW HOPE—Both sturgeon and stripers reports were good this past week, although harder to come by in some areas. Weather was an issue, as there were strong winds and thundershowers. More than a few weren’t willing to brave those conditions, or wish they hadn’t.
“The fishing out of New Hope has been a job, but we were able to find limits for our clients,” Capt. Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sportfishing said. “We have been working hard, as always, to get our clients at least their limits on our trips. But we asked for cooler weather and we got it with high winds and thundershowers the last few days,” he said.
“We didn't get back out on the water until yesterday (Saturday) and we probably should have stayed home then,” Gravert said. “I was hoping we could get out and be back at the dock before the wind. But it blew as soon as we launched and we spent the day just driving around and making quick drifts due to the wind. We pulled the plug early after only three hours on the water.”
Community holes best Clear Lake bet!
KELSEYVILLE--Fishing pressure remains extremely light at Clear Lake, which is good for the few anglers on the lake looking for fish. Looking for fish meant covering a lot of water and hitting all of the community holes around the lake with live bait for a few bass.
“Hit the community holes around the lake such as Jago Bay, Konocti Harbor, Monitor, Anderson Island, and Shag Rock for chances at a better fish,” bass guide Ross England said. “Anglers reported catching fish in water as shallow as 4 feet, as deep as 25, and every depth in between,” he said.
“Our own experience this past week showed that you had to cover water as quickly as you could,” England said. “An example was when we ran to a group of about 15 docks one day and caught no fish off 13 of them, caught 2 bass off of one and 3 bass off of the other. There was no real rhyme or reason as to why those fish were on those two specific docks but they were and may not have been there the next day,” he said.
Salmon continue to filter into Sacramento River
SACRAMENTO—North winds early in the week, and rain and south winds over the weekend, kept lots of salmon anglers off the water based on reports from the few who ventured forth, but those that did found typical fishing for late fall king salmon.
“The fish don’t know any better,” said Dave Jacobs of Professional Guide Service regarding the challenging fishing conditions.“On slow days we got 2 fish, and on better days up to 6.They’re long days, though, because you never know when you they’re going to bite.Some days early in the morning, and one day we didn’t get a bite until 3 p.m. then got 2, one right after another.They’re worth it, though, they’re beautiful, bright fish.”
Jacobs said the larger fish that were caught last week were going 29 to 31 pounds, such as the 31.5 pounder taken by Larry Abernathy of Valley Springs near Hamilton City.Then there are a batch of kings that he called “cookie cutters” in the 19- to 21-pound range.
Feather River steelheading still good, but don’t delay
Steelhead continued to be caught on the Feather River, both the main river below the Outlet, and also in the Low Flow Section, but, as is typical on the Feather, fishing success starts tapering off as Thanksgiving approaches according to Craig Bentley of Huntington Outdoors.
“The salmon spawn is pretty much over, so pale Glo-Bugs,yarn flies and flesh flies will be the ticket to Bitesville,” he said.“Successful fly anglers are covering a lot of water and are using a quiet, stealthy approach.Continued rain will keep the fishing decent and keep some color in the water, while the much colder fair weather, after rainstorms, clears the water and drops the water temperature, making for a tougher bite.”
He said the average steelie has been running from 2 to 3 pounds, but every once in awhile a large adult which might exceed 9 pounds, takes a grab at a fly, spinner or crawler.Bentley said fishing was slowing down below the Outlet for both wading and drift boat anglers fishing there, and, as a result,fishing pressure has dropped off significantly.
The Low Flow Section was running at 600 cfs with 1,100 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet along with local effluent runoff for a total of 1,884 CFS below the Outlet.