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Alternative to artificial baits has advantages
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I’m asked all the time whether I fish with live or artificial bait.

I primarily fish with artificial baits, mainly because most tournaments outlaw the use of live bait. Although fishing with live bait is often looked down upon by competitive anglers, it does have its distinct advantages.

I can remember one family vacation up at Lake Shasta where I couldn’t catch anything over a pound on artificial baits. Desperate, I went to the local tackle shop and purchased a dozen small crawdads.

The difference in the quality of the fish I ended up catching was better than expected.

As much as technology has improved to the point that it’s become harder and harder to tell the difference between artificial and real, it’s still very hard to match the real thing. There are many advantages to using live bait, but a deterrent for me is the amount of fish that end up swallowing the whole bait. Because of this, very few survive long enough once released back into the water.

If you do plan on releasing a fish that has swallowed a hook, it’s always safer to just cut the line and not attempt to remove the hook. Also, if the fish is bleeding try and get that fish back into the water as soon as possible, as their blood coagulates in water unlike our own.  

Delta Report
Fishing has been tough on the delta. Although the water temperatures are on the rise, the reaction bite is still very hard to come by.

Anglers catching bass are fishing with black or brown jigs. Striper fishing is OK. Currently, there is a rattle trap bite in and around the Big Break area.

Lake New Melones
Trout fishing has slowed down a bit, but anglers are still bringing in limits. The hot bait has been Power Bait. Trollers are catching fish up shallow but they have been a lot smaller than the ones caught off the bank.

For those who enjoy catching them on lures it’s been hard to beat those fishing with chrome or gold Kastmasters. Bass fishing remains consistent as the bass have moved deeper.

The bigger bass are still being caught by swimbaits as they are definitely following the trout up shallow. For numbers try targeting points and backs of creeks with soft plastics and jigs.   

Lake Don Pedro
Trout fishing has slowed down. Most anglers are doing well while fishing with lures such as Kastmasters in yellow or red/white in the past week with patient anglers waiting for limits with Power Bait.

Bass fishing has slowed, as anglers are struggling to find a consistent bite anywhere on the lake. There have been a few anglers that have been able to catch fish on spoons while searching for schooling fish.

Lake Amador
Heavy loads of trout are being planted into the lake right now on what seems like a daily basis. Anglers fishing off the bank are doing well while using Power Bait either fished off the bottom or beneath a bobber.

Lake Pardee
The lake is scheduled to open Feb. 6 for fishing, and Feb. 5 for camping. Pardee currently hold the state record for smallmouth bass and is known to many trout fisherman as a trophy trout lake.

Lake Camanche
Trout fishing is good right now for anglers fishing off the shore. There are a lot of limits being caught right now on Power Bait and nightcrawler combos. The South Trout Pond is also putting out limits of trout to anglers using the same bait.

Tip of the Week
With all the different colors available out there, anglers often get confused when trying to decide what color bait to choose. If you were to ask any seasoned angler he or she would most likely say to stick with the more natural colors.

Colors like green, brown, and black are some really basic colors that have proven to be successful.

If you’re looking to imitate a crawdad you may want a little orange or red depending what time of year it is and if you’re trying to imitate a shad you may want more chrome or silver.

If you’re still not sure what color you should get you can always look through your local tackle shop and see what colors seem to be selling the most by how many are left on the pegs.  

To contact Jarod Ballardo, e-mail