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Catching in cold weather
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The effect on water temperature and fish behavior is directly related.

Where I grew up there were a couple of ponds in my neighborhood that were run-off ponds for an electric company. The water was used to cool off the generators and then pumped back into the ponds. Consequently, those ponds stayed close to 80 degrees all year long.

Somehow, bass were introduced into the pond, and catching them became very easy after a few years. I’ll never forget getting my first glance of the ponds during the coldest month of the year; the steam could be seen rising from the surface.

Traditional wintertime baits were left at home, as it was hard to beat a top-water bait all year long. Fishing in those ponds made it hard to fish anywhere else. In all the other local bodies of water, the fish were in their winter pattern and not biting at all. Like most things that are too good to be true, fishing in the ponds eventually became illegal, and our secret fishing spot was taken away from us.

I learned from that experience that water temperature makes a huge difference when attempting to pattern species of fish. Most depth finders have temperature gauges now that tell you the surface temperature. To get an actual temperature of the water you would have to drop a temperature gauge down to the depth that you plan on fishing.

Bait selection is also important when fishing cold water. Most fish want an easy-to-catch meal during the winter months. For bass, it’s hard to beat slow moving bait that crawls along the bottom.

Delta Report

Stripers continue to bite well for anglers fishing reaction baits as well as live bait in and around schools. Stripers rarely hold up in one spot for long, they may like to frequent certain area but they are prone to be moving constantly. Waiting them out sometimes is the best method this time of year.

Largemouth bass fishing is slow, as most fish are being caught on jigs and rip baits. Anglers are targeting areas out of current.

Crappie are said to be biting well around the docks at union point, small crappie jigs and minnows seem to be doing the trick.

 New Melones Lake

Trout fishing is picking up for a lot of anglers. Those fishing off the bank are doing well while fishing with Power Bait, and some are trolling from the surface down to 20 feet.

Trollers have been having most of their luck while trolling shad imitation lures such as Apex U.V., Needlefish, Excel Lures, and most other small spoons. Trolling frozen shad has also proven a good technique for catching bigger rainbows, and possibly brown trout.

Bass fishing has been tough lately for a lot of anglers. Bass that are being caught are between 20-40 feet deep with drop-shotted worms and jigs.

Lake Don Pedro

Trout fishing is great for anglers trolling from the surface down to 15 feet deep. The hot areas right now are near the Dam or around Rogers Creek.

Bass fishing has slowed considerably; anglers are catching smaller fish while spooning through schools of bass down to 40 feet deep.

Lake Amador

Weekly trout plants continue to take place, and many are being caught while fishing as shallow as 3 feet deep. Anglers fishing off the bank are doing well while fishing off the bottom with trout bait as well as under a bobber. 

Lake Camanche

Trout fishing has been good lately, as any anglers are catching limits. The North Shore area has been ripe for anglers fishing off the bank with Power Bait. Anglers trolling for trout are trolling Rapala (J-7) Brook Trout patterned lures from the surface down to 10 feet deep. Most trollers are staying around South Shore area.

Bass fishing is fair for anglers willing to slow down and fish small plastics, Robo Worms, and one ton jigs. It’s important to look for schools of bait, as the bass are surely near. 

Tip of the Week

I learned a long time ago that there is no wrong way to fish and that fish don’t care about brand names or how much money was spent on tackle. Lately, I’ve been reading up on a technique where it requires an angler to rig his worm weight upside down. It’s a technique that was performed accidentally, but has since been proven effective.

An upside down rigged weight actually creates more disturbance than a traditionally rigged weight and is easier to keep in one place.