Trophy stripers still swimming in San Luis Aqueduct in spite of historic low water conditions

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PADILLA SMASHES HIS PERSONAL-BEST ON SAN LUIS — Mike Padilla of Madera with his new personal-best San Luis striped bass at 29 pounds prior to release. He was fishing with Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service.
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BY DAVE HURLEY

SANTA NELLA – Roger George, the only authorized fishing guide on San Luis, said, “I fished with my guest Mike Padilla of Madera on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to almost 6:00 p.m. for 12 fish total. We were looking for a better fish, especially since he set his new personal-best of 24.4 lbs. on a guided trip last month. It was just a fish here and, there but when Mike released a 33”,12.1-lb. striped bass on a Rapala, things turned around. An hour later, Padilla hooked onto a big striper that came up thrashing on top and I think the size of it took him back for a moment! The fish went 42.5 inches and 29 pounds, a new personal- best for Padilla before we quickly put his energetic trophy back using the Seaqualizer release tool as always. You’ve got to be ready and prepared to quickly and carefully put these big fish back or they can die quickly after coming up from the depths in the warm water. This fish was a huge landmark for me because it’s the 30th striper over 20 pounds, including stripers at 41 and 43 pounds, caught off my boat within the last year. With the water falling all season, it has been the toughest fishing year I’ve ever seen, but it forced me to get better and become more focused. It paid off.”

George continued, “The reaction bite in the big lake is in a transition stage right now as water temps fall into the high 60’s with the cooler temps and longer nights. Trollers working the areas by the dam and over the large flats are scoring limits working the 40- to 60-foot range with Rapalas in blueback/white belly patterns. The bite has been moderate at best. There have been a few reports of guys working boils near the Romero Visitor Center for school-sized stripers. I expect the top water bite to possibly improve with the cooling temps right after the full moon this week. The water in the big lake continues to slowly fall about 1⁄4 foot a day. The

lowest level in the recent past was in 2016 when the water reached the 195,000-acre foot mark in July before coming back up.Mostofthelakeis40to60 feet deep on the shallower western end of it, but the dam area is still showing water over 80 feet in places. The Basalt ramp is still in good shape. The algae remains heavy.”

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Mickey Clements of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill confirmed the improving troll bite as the fall weather has arrived. He said, “The bite is coming on a bit early this year, and there is good topwater action with Spooks or Pencil Poppers along with smaller swimbaits in the 4.5- to 5-inch range in the big lake. The troll bite lasts even when the sun comes up to around noon. The O’Neill Forebay is also picking up on the rockwall along the Highway 33 side as the grass is very thick on the 152 side of the lake. Live mudsuckers have been an excellent bait from the shorelines.”

In the California Aqueduct, Bill Sterling of the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Fresno said, “The aqueduct has been very productive for the people who have the patience searching for boils in the early mornings just after the sun rises and in the evenings as the sun sets. I caught a limit over 21 inches in literally 2 casts during a boil this week. Stripers being caught all along the aqueduct all the way through to Manning Avenue with umbrella rigs, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater Spooks in the early mornings. The Delta Mendota Canal is also giving up a number of undersized striped bass on jerkbaits. The forebay is still producing numbers of undersized stripers from kayak or boats trolling with umbrella rigs.”

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