Many of you think “fish” when I use the descriptor “greatest” in this column, but to be honest, what made a recent fishing trip the greatest was the family time it included. Being with my son, Gerald (Jerry) Heinselman, watching his skills, enjoying our loving chat and hearing “Fish on!” made this day very special indeed.
Jerry and I arrived at New Hogan Reservoir at 6 a.m. in late July. I provided our tackle: two trolling rods and reels for rolling anchovies as well as four poles with an assortment of lures for top-water action. After backing my boat into the water, we were underway in less than 10 minutes. Heading toward the Calaveras River channel, I turned on my split-screen sonar that has a down-scan fishing graph. Reading no marks of interest on the screens, I decided to motor south into the Bear Creek arm.
At 26 mph, we headed to the southern end of the lake. The wind was mild from the east and north, creating a slight chop on the water. New Hogan is in good condition, water capacity-wise, and is very wide in spots.
“Keep a lookout for any splashes or birds along the shoreline or anywhere else,” I told Jerry, who had never been on a striper trip with me until this day. After a few minutes, we were in the mouth of the Bear Creek arm. After another minute, I slowed to 5 mph as we passed the caution buoy.
The surface of the creek arm was choppy with a slight breeze blowing. We had an hour before the sun would be on the water, and we both kept our eyes on the surrounding surface for signs of action. Jerry is mostly a bait fisherman, so learning the trolling game was a plus for him. I entered the final navigable right turn at the end of channel where the water became shallow and shut down the engine. At this point, I introduced our top-water setups to Jerry, two Zara Spooks and two quarter-ounce clear/white paddle tail shad jigs.
We both began to cast the Zara Spooks to sharpen our retrieves in case we got lucky enough to see a striper boil. Although an occasional bass hit the surface in this area, it was devoid of any striper activity. Under electric power, we returned slowly back down the creek arm toward the main lake. At times we saw a couple of surface splashes and made a few casts, but to no avail.
“It’s time to make a move, as the sun will surely come out soon,” I thought.
Under gas power we idled toward the caution buoy and passed it. We again saw surface activity as the water made small splashes along the east shore of the creek arm. Now my sonar indicated fish on both screens. We began to cast and work the area for a while. Jerry got two hits on his Zara Spook, but the fish never got the hooks. That was enough top-water action for me; we made ready to troll.
Jerry navigated as I prepared the trolling rods to roll anchovies.
“Check this out, dude,” I joked to Jerry as I showed him the hooking technique. Both downriggers were down in the narrows of the creek arm, but this part of the lake is treacherous right now because of shallow mounds of material just below the surface. All at once, my downrigger weight began to drag the bottom and the line released from the clip. I quickly raised the downriggers and noticed one of the rods had a “Fish on!” I reeled in a striper that had hit as the weight was dragging the bottom.
Tired of snags, we left the creek arm. Our next stop was the main lake east of Deer Flat. The water there is less than 60 feet deep for the most part and this is usually a good place for striper action. With our downriggers set between 15 and 22 feet and anchovies rolling 100-feet behind them, my son and I talked of passed fishing experiences. We were now under full sunlight and I put my boat top up to shade us. All at once in 35 feet of water, the portside rod jerked and popped out of its clip.
Thinking we had hit another shallow mound, I grabbed the rod and felt a distant tug.
“It could be a fish or weeds,” I told Jerry as he quickly grabbed the rod.
“Yes, there’s a fish on,” Jerry confirmed.
I went to the bow to take pictures of Jerry enjoying the fight from a New Hogan striper. As I watched, I was pleased at the way my son handled the rod. Soon the fish was in sight and we could see it was a striper that was bigger than the first. It made one more dive run before Jerry had this wonderful fish in the net.
This was a wonderful day of quality time spent with my son fishing for striper at New Hogan Reservoir.
Tip of the Week – A key to catching fish that feed on schools of shad is to match your lure size to the actual shad they are chasing.
On the water:
Don Pedro – The trout and kokanee action are fair to good. Trolling from Middle Bay to Jenkins Hill and the marina is a good area to begin your search. Fish deep with downriggers. The bass are deep and hit heavy jigs.
New Melones – The trout are deep hitting trolled needlefish. Nighttime trout fishing has been reported as good near the spillway if you soak worms or PowerBait. Some limits of kokanee as big as 2 pounds have been reported by anglers who trolled the spillway to the dam and Rose Island deeper than 75 feet. The bass hit top-water plugs early in the day. Go deep with heavy jigs during the hot days. And the catfishing is getting hot.
Pardee – Weekly plants of trout to 5 pounds continue to make this lake a good choice for a morning of fishing. The kokanee are hitting deep at the mouth of the Mokelumne River off the main lake to as far up the arm as Columbia Gulch. The catfish are biting. Work the points for bass.
Camanche – The trout are biting over the main river channel at depths to 60 feet. The bass action is good with top-water lures early and heavy jigs at midday.
Amador – Now is the time for catfish and bass.
High Sierra – Summer is a great time for family outings to fish the lakes, streams and rivers of the high country. You and yours can enjoy the beauty and cool off.
Contact William Heinselman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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