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NORCAL LAKES UPDATE: New Melones kokanee at a mid-season peak...more reports

BY BUD NEVILLE/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jul 14, 2010

Northern CAL BUD NEVILLE Weekly Update

ANGLES CAMP — A July tradition in the Mother Lode region, the New Melones kokanee bite has reached a peak with lots of limits rewarding trollers, and multiple hookups the norm with the sockeyes schooling up. While those who stick with the bite are getting limits just about anytime, getting an early start is helpful.

“The best bite is in the a.m.,” said Melanie Lewis at Glory Hole Sports. “Apexes, Uncle Larry’s spinners, Sockeye Slammers, Wiggle Hoochies and Wee Tads are the most mentioned lures.” The top action is coming on kokanee concentrations over the deepest water, the fish down between 30 and 50 feet.

“Kokanee are on a red hot bite,” said guide Monte Smith of Gold Country Sportfishing. “We fished the dam area for easy limits of kokanee to 16 inches.” Top strike getter was an Uncle Larry bead spinner behind a Vance’s dodger. Smith tips the lures with pink Pautzke Fire Corn.

In addition to kokanee, New Melones has a good population of ospreys, and these birds of prey have figured out an easy way to get their fish meals. “Be prepared to share your fish with the ospreys,” warned Lewis. “They have really learned to hone in on trolling boats, and when you get the net out to scoop up your catch, they will swoop down and steal your fish!”

“The osprey were dive bombing us on Wednesday,” said Smith. “They took off with a fish that had my dodger and lure with it! Finally the bird let go and we got my dodger, lure and the fish back, and the fish had ten talon marks on the side of the fish.”

Guide Gary Burns of Take it to the Limit Guide Service took Saturday off to fish the Project Kokanee derby at New Melones. “We tied for first place, the big fish putting $750 in our pockets!” said Burns. He fished with pal Dave Rowe. Guided trips earlier in the week resulted in quick limits of kokanee to 15.5 inches.

Bodega bottomfish leading pack

BODEGA BAY — “After five weeks of north wind, we finally have the marine layer setting in,” said Captain Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler on Sunday afternoon. “I’m heading back from an excellent day of fishing Fort Ross for bottomfish.”

On board were 14 anglers who caught limits of rockfish and nine lingcod to 16 pounds, big fish hooked by Ron Luce of Reno, Nev. “We had some great quality vermilion, copper and Bolinas rockfish,” said Powers. George Garcia of Santa Rosa caught a 7-pound vermilion and Brandon Heinrich of San Francisco hooked a 5-pound copper and a 10-pound lingcod.

“Bob Brookhouse of Santa Rosa had a limit of lings topped by a 14 pounder,” said Powers. The Sunday action finished off a week of good bottomfishing in the Fort Ross and Salt Point area. Saturday’s open load had a hefty group of 43 anglers who caught rockfish limits and five lingcod. On Thursday, 41 anglers scored rockfish limits and one ling.

Salmon fishing has been a tough proposition for the party boats, but private boaters are tapping a scratchy bite off of Bird and Elephant rocks. “They’re working on it, and getting a fish or two in the 20-pound class,” said Powers. The shallow water zone has been best for the kings. California halibut are another option for anglers fishing off of 10-Mile Beach, with some getting limits.

Giant halibut, rockfish limits for Emeryville boats

EMERYVILLE — Anglers fishing on board the Emeryville Sportfishing Center fleet found a variety of action through the week, but the highlights were rockfish limits and lingcod from the Farallon Islands, and a big grade of California halibut that some of the boats tapped at the North Bar.

“On Saturday, the Aku Nui had four anglers who caught rockfish limits and seven halibut to 29 pounds,” said Craig Stone at the landing. “The Captain Hook had 15 anglers who caught 20 halibut to 23 pounds, and the New Huck Finn had 28 rockfish limits, and then went back to the north bar to get five halibut to 22 pounds.”

Moses Espinoza of San Jose set the hook in the 23 pounder on the Captain Hook, while Brett Rapozo of Roseville caught the 29 pounder on the Aku Nui.

Some of the boats like the Superfish and Tigerfish focused on Farallon Islands rockfish, finding limits. On most trips to the islands, a few lingcod spruce up the catch. On Friday, the C Gull II had 28 rockfish limits and 10 lings to 10 pounds.

Fort Bragg: best bottomfish bite in two seasons

FORT BRAGG — Warming water temperatures and calm seas combined to make for some good bottomfishing on board Fort Bragg charter boats. Captain Randy Thornton on the Telstar started the week out on Tuesday with 10 anglers who focused on Hair Creek bottomfish.

“For the first hour, we experienced the best rockfish bite I’ve seen in two seasons,” said Thornton. A tourist group, the anglers didn’t score limits, but did come close, and added three lingcod to the fish box. “Every time you’d drop down, you’d get a fish. After about an hour, the bite started slowing.” That action continued through the week, with a highlight trip on Friday when 12 anglers went on a crab and rockfish combo.

“We had near limits of rockfish, and 61 beautiful Dungeness,” said Thornton. “We had six pots at Pudding Creek, and another 16 on the beach at 10-Mile.” On Saturday, the ling bite popped, with a light load of eight anglers boating nine around on the rockfish, plus four lings boated, and some other lingcod lost. “I personally had two on, but lost them,” said Thornton. “Suzie Copeland of Fort Bragg caught a limit of lingcod, one weighing 12 pounds and one 10 pounder.”

A family group with kids owned the boat on Sunday, the intent a special charter by the hour. “We fished from 8 to 10 a.m., and those kids caught three quarter limits!” said Thornton. He said 51-degree water temperatures really boosted the bite, and the conditions are also prime for king salmon. “Everything looks good, we’re just waiting for the fish,” he said.

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