Like a lot of those reading this, I used to take every fish home to be cooked up for dinner. After a while, I got tired of having to clean fish after a long day of fishing so I just threw them back. Once I started tournament fishing, I’d always throw them back in hopes of catching them again during a tournament.
Every once in a while I’d get a request from home to bring some fish back, so I did. What I’ve learned over the years is that there’s a huge difference in the taste of fish relative to where you caught them from. I don’t believe any fish caught locally is safe to eat on a daily basis but I do believe eating them on occasion is OK.
So, my favorite fish to eat are those that live in our local lakes that have the deepest and clearest water. As far as size, the bigger the fish the older the fish. I prefer to keep and eat only those fish that are at or slightly above the legal size.
Planted and farm-raised fish can be fun to catch but taste nowhere as good as a fish that has had to compete for food it’s entire life. You can tell right away, as their meat is usually pale and mushy from being fed fish pellets.
Fishing has been tough recently 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
Fishing for trout is really good for those trolling from the surface down to 10 feet deep. Anglers trolling are trolling Speedy Shiners, Needlefish, or Excels as far back as 200 feet from their boats.
Anglers fishing off the shore are doing well while fishing with power bait or fan casting 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
There are a lot of trout being found up shallow chasing bait. Anglers are having luck while trolling from the surface down to 15 feet deep. Anglers fishing off the bank are fishing with crawler/marshmallow combinations. Those trolling for trout are using Wedding Rings tipped with a night crawler.
Bass fishing is tough, as anglers are struggling to get limits. Most anglers having any luck are fishing finesse jigs or drop shotted worms as deep as 40 feet deep. For those who are just looking to catch fish, the bass are biting well on live minnows.
Heavy loads of trout are being planted into the lake 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. The lake is 60 feet from full capacity.
The lake is scheduled to open the Feb. 13 for fishing and Feb. 14 for camping. Pardee currently hold the state record for smallmouth bass and is known to many trout fisherman as a trophy trout lake.
This year for visitors there is a small fee for those who would like access to the lakes wireless network.
Trout fishing is good 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, often anglers 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, email email@example.com