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Scouting waters can pay huge dividends
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“Should’ve been here yesterday,” is what they said to me as I was pulling my boat out of the lake.

You just never know sometimes when the fish are going to be biting. There have been several times where it seemed as if I couldn’t do anything wrong when I could swear I used every lure in my possession.

Tournament anglers call it pre-fishing. It’s basically practice before the tournament is about to be held. There are several different approaches to pre-fishing.

Some will fish without a hook in their baits, and others will try and catch a few in order to see the size of the fish. Either way, your chances that the fish are going to be in the exact same location and bite the exact same baits are slim to none.

A lot of times pre-fishing can seem like a waste of time, and other times it can make all the difference.

An example of this was a few years back when I was pre-fishing for a tournament and had a monster bass follow my bait right up to the boat. I went back to that exact location the very next day and caught a 7-pound bass that I could swear was the same fish I saw the day before.

If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that each day on the water is different than the other. Some of my most successful days have come when least expected.  

Yesterday may have been great, but tomorrow could be better!   

Delta Report
Fishing has recently been tough on the Delta. Inconsistent weather, combined with high skies hasn’t helped much lately.

Anglers catching largemouth bass are targeting deep holes that are void of current with jigs and other small plastics. 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. 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
Lake Pardee is scheduled to reopen Jan. 31 for recreational vehicles and campers and Feb. 1 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 Camanche

The south shore pond has been really good to anglers. On the lake, the trout bite continues to be great, especially for those fishing around either launch ramp or around the bridge.

For anglers trolling, any shad imitating lure is a good choice. Most fish are being caught while trolling from the surface down to 25 feet.

Bass fishing remains fair with anglers catching fish while working small plastic baits along the bottom.

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