Len Ackerman

Waterfowl hunting has finally picked up with the cold weather systems coming down from the north.

Reports from some clubs in the Merced County Grasslands indicate an increase in ducks, especially the speedy Green-winged Teal.

Reports from the Santa Fe Club near Gustine show limits for morning shooters and the nearby Hollister Club had some shooters bagging limits of Teal in less than an hour.

The Santa Cruz Club, south of Los Banos, also showed an increase in birds as my son recently bagged a mixed limit of Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, and one Northern Shoveler.

In the Sacramento Valley area, heavy rain flooded some of the public refuges, forcing them to temporarily close. When rain is heavy enough to flood farmlands, the birds will move out into those areas. With the upcoming forecast, this could occur in the Los Banos Complex area.

For more information, call (209) 826-0463.

Winter fishing continues for those willing to get out. Water levels are rising with Lake Don Pedro up to 74 percent of capacity, Camanche Reservoir at 70 percent, and Lake McClure at 47 percent. Lake Amador has added 100 tagged trout good for cash or prizes. New Melones Reservoir is coming up with a 4-foot rise last week and current rains should add more, as well as the coming snowmelt.

Trout at Melones are up near the surface now and several limits are turning up for trollers using ExCel spoons, Needlefish, and Rapalas.

Using leadcore line has been productive, allowing a variation of depth. Most fish have been from the surface down to 20 feet.

Bank anglers are also picking up some rainbows with Power Baits or nightcrawlers off Glory Hole Point and the Highway 49 Bridge where access is easier.

Bass fishing is in the winter mode with good catches of both Spotted and Largemouths being made. Most are found in 30 to 50 feet of water but they will move into the shallows to feed on shad.

Bob James, of Murphys, was the Big Catfish winner at Glory Hole Sports last week with a 6-pound, 3-ounce fish and Big Trout winner was Hazel Herzog with a 3-pound, 6 ounce rainbow, caught from the bank off Glory Hole Point.

I heard a a report that a 10-pound, 8-ounce Spotted Bass caught at Bullard’s Bar Lake may be a world record. The fish was caught by Pro Bass angler Cody Meyer, of Auburn. Confirmation is pending.