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Tricks of the trade: Shopping for baits
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While walking through the tackle aisle of most tackle shops, it can be somewhat overwhelming for the novice angler — so many different colors and baits to choose from.

It can get pretty expensive really fast. There are a couple tricks that I’ve used over the years that have helped me save money in the long run.

One of the oldest tricks is to look for those items that are either sold out or in limited supply. If an item is sold out, usually the same item can be purchased in a similar color.

If there are only a few left of an item, that’s usually a good indicator that other anglers are having success on that particular brand or color. When it comes to buying a less-expensive imitation, 99 percent of the time your money is better spent on the original.

When all else fails, stick with natural colors like green, brown and black. A majority of fish that I’ve caught in my lifetime have all been caught on colors that are natural to the bodies of waters fished.

Lastly, you can always ask an employee at the store what the hot bait is.

For kicks, I sometimes apply those strategies mentioned above and then ask for help at the end to see how close I was to figuring out what the fish are biting on.

The Delta

Bass fishing is fair for those braving the elements. Top-water baits are still working well for bass during the morning and evening hours.

There’s also a good Senko bite during the day while fishing around deep grass beds. Bluegills are being caught in large numbers right now for those fishing with small worms in the backs of sloughs.

Catfish are being caught on chicken livers and clams.

New Melones Lake

Trout are being caught for those fishing under submersible lights during the night and the kokanee bite remains wide open for those who choose to troll.

The hot bait seems to be Apex Lures tipped with shoepeg corn fished trolled anywhere from 30 to 65 feet deep. Bass fishing remains good for smaller fish during the day and bigger fish are being caught earlier in the day on top water lures.

Bluegill and crappie continue to bite well for those fishing brush piles with worms and minnows. The catfish bite is really good all over the lake at night.

Catfish are being caught while using anchovies or chicken livers.

Lake Don Pedro

Trout are being caught around Jenkins Hill, Rodgers Creek Arm, and the Middle Bay area between 30 and 45 feet.

Anglers trolling for trout are trolling threadfin shad for trout up to three pounds. Those targeting King salmon are using the same baits and techniques but fishing as deep as 70 feet.

Bass fishing is good for smaller fish. Anglers fishing for bass are using shaky head worms down to 20 feet deep.

Lake Amador

Lake Amador has been good for those fishing at night. During the day the only fish reported caught are bluegill which are being caught up shallow on worms.

At night, bass are being caught on large power worms and spinnerbaits. A few trout are also being lured to the surface at night by submersible lights which can be caught on minnows and power bait.

Lake Pardee

Bass fishing is good for anglers who are finding shade along the bank or fishing deep with plastics.

Trout fishing has also been good for those trolling earlier in the day until about noon. Bluegill fishing is really good for those fishing the shallows with worms and crickets.

Lake Camanche

The bite is really good for bluegill and bass. Bass are being caught right now just about anywhere on the lake, with rocky points being the best spots.

Small plastic worms worked along the bottom are producing a lot of bites during the day. Bluegills are being caught shallow by those fishing with red worms in the backs of coves.

Tip of the Week

Several years ago a wheel bearing on one of my trailer wheels burned out and if it weren’t for some help provided by friends, I’d probably still be stuck on the side of the road.

Since then, I’ve made it a habit of mine to check my wheels at each stop along the way. What I do is gently put my hand against the tire feeling for any unusual heat indicating a lack of oil or bearing that may be wearing out.

I also carry extra wheel bearings and bearing grease along with the necessary tools needed to change a burned out bearing.  

To contact Jarod Ballardo, e-mail