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Catching those elusive big fish
fish column FRI
Jason Ballardo with one of his latets catches.

In the recent months I’ve been posting pictures of some of my bigger catches online. The responses that I’ve been getting from family and friends has been interesting. Of course, some of them want me to take them fishing.

 What they don’t seem to know about is the many trips in between those big catches where I’m catching the same fish that everyone else is catching. I don’t have a magic formula for catching big fish other than having a few baits that have proven to work in the past and having confidence in areas where I’ve caught big fish before. For example the fish in the picture was one of only three fish that I caught the entire day fishing. Just minutes before that fish attacked my lure, I was trying to decide where I was going to fish next. I was completely caught off guard and made a cast that I normally wouldn’t make. 

I was honestly just trying to cover water so that I could get to my next spot. In looking back, a lot of my bigger fish have been caught while doing something a little different than others. In this particular case, I made a cast across an area where boats would normally pass right over. In fact after landing that fish a boat drove right over where I just caught that fish causing me to move to a different area. 

Delta Report:

Bass fishing has started to pick up once again; fish are feeding heavily on baitfish right now leading some to believe that the fall bite has already started. With the cool nights and longer days bass do start to feed in preparation for a long winter. A variety of baits have been working right now, reaction baits have been bringing in large numbers of fish. While flipping baits such as sweet beavers and brush hogs have been bringing in the bigger fish. Striper fishing has also started to pick up as some small schools have been showing up, look for the bite to really pick up as the water temperatures drop even further.  


New Melones Lake:

Not many anglers are fishing for trout right now as the lake continues to drop nearly 3 feet per week making it difficult to find productive areas to troll. Bass fishing remains fair, Carolina rigged plastics have been working well. Bluegill and crappie continue to bite well in the backs of coves and around any floating structure. Catfish have been providing action for those willing to soak their bait through the night. Clams and chicken livers have been working well. All of the boat launching is taking place out of Glory Hole Point by boaters that are willing to launch of a two lane gravel bank. Having 4x4 is essential for boaters planning on launching.    


Lake Don Pedro:

Trout fishing is good right now for those who are trolling between 50 and 65 feet deep. Anglers are using a variety of different baits to catch trout. The most popular bait right now seems to be a Chucker T nickel or silver spoon. Bass fishing is steady right now with a lot of smaller fish being caught from the shoreline down to twenty feet deep. Anglers fishing for bass are doing best in the early morning hours while fishing around main lake points. Fleming Meadows has the only paved launch ramp on the lake that is currently open.   


Lake Camanche:

This past weekend really slowed down the fishing for a lot of anglers as the boat traffic made fishing tough. Bass fishing is good early in the morning, top water lures and jigs have been working well lately. Try fishing around points as bass can be found schooling down to depths of 35 and 40 feet. Trout fishing has slowed down, anglers are trolling deep in order to find them between 40 and 50 feet. 


Lake New Hogan:

Striped bass fishing is hit or miss at this lake right now as schools of bass move up and down with the baitfish. Currently there are a few boils here and there but mostly smaller fish. Bass fishing remains good for those fishing senko’s and topwater baits during the morning and evening hours.  


Tip of the Week:

Right now there are a lot of baitfish being brought to the surface. Now is the time to keep a top water bait tied on and ready. Especially in the Delta, without notice a large school of fish can be passing by, and the only thing they’re going to hit is a top water lure.