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Scout water levels, reap the benefits
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One of the biggest concerns anglers seem to have is the water levels of our local lakes.

Normally this time of year the lakes are on the rise and by mid-spring they are full or pretty close to being full. As long as I’ve been writing this column I’ve seen an obvious pattern in the weather and can almost predict that we will see some pretty significant storms this year.

Several years ago it got so bad that certain waterways were made off limits until the conditions stabilized.

Until then we’re just going to have to live with the current water levels and take advantage of all the visible structure.

It’s amazing what can be seen now that has been underwater for all of those years! Several local lakes at one time were cities, and some of the old building structures are now visible.

Other lakes used to be a lot smaller, and now the original dam that was put in place is now visible.

For boaters you must take extreme caution when moving about the lake, as many underwater obstructions are sometimes unmarked.

Now is the time to get out the camera and take pictures of all you favorite spots, as you are sure to see why some spots were luckier than others.  

Delta Report

Fishing has been tough recently on the delta. The water has muddied up and with water temperatures dropping into the low forties the most consistent of bites has been on jigs. As far as jig colors go you cannot go wrong with dark colors such as black, blue, or brown. Striper fishing remains good; currently there is a rattletrap bite in and around the Big Break area.

Lake New Melones

Trout fishing is great right now anglers are still bringing in limits while fishing off the bank. Currently 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. Because of this, a lot of boaters have chosen to drift live minnows under a bobber in the backs of coves in order to target the bigger trout. Angels Cove and Glory Hole Cove have been the hot areas recently for trout. Bass fishing remains consistent as the bass have moved deeper. The bigger bass are 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

The trout bite is good right now for anglers fishing from the surface down to 25 feet. Anglers are targeting the bigger fish that are combing the bank while using side planers and trolling a variety of shad imitating lures. The salmon bite is expected to improve as we get closer to February. Bass fishing has slowed right now 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

Anglers get ready; the lake usually reopens the on the first February for fishermen. Lake Pardee currently holds the smallmouth bass record set last year at 9.83 pounds, which was caught by Harold Hardin of Stockton. 

Lake McClure

Trout fishing is great right now from the mouth of Cottonwood Creek to the dam. Anglers trolling are using blade/crawler combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a crawler behind a dodger from the surface to 40 feet.

Anglers fishing off the bank are using power bait or fan casting rooster tales, panther martins, or cast masters. Bass fishing is slow right now, as the cooling temperatures have really slowed down the bite. Most anglers having success are drop shotting small worms around schooling fish found around main lake points.  

Tip of the Week
If you’re planning on not using your boat for a while it’s always better to top off the gas tanks before storing, than to let it sit empty. An empty tank allows for a lot of condensation to build up resulting in water mixing with your fuel. This can be a very costly mistake if not treated properly.

 To contact Jarod Ballardo, e-mail