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2012 January

Archive for January, 2012

Fishing Berry Deep, Lake Berryessa!

Since moving down to Napa, Lake Berryessa has become adopted as my new home waters. I can get to the ramp in just over thirty minutes, launching is free, and there’s healthy populations of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. So whether its an impulsive last minute fishing trip or a planned one, I end up there a lot.

On Friday I headed out to Berryessa on an impulse, and to figure out how the fish are responding to this wacky abnormally sunny winter weather, with water temperatures hovering around 51 degrees. I drop shotted, spooned, jigged, cranked and even threw an alabama rig. Didn’t get a bite. Zilch. I was struggling to find anything alive all day on the graph. It was the first time I didn’t land a fish at Berryessa since I started fishing it late last summer. The one bass fisherman I talked to at the ramp said his only fish was over 5lbs on an alabama rig in around 20 feet of water.

Yesterday, I got to the ramp around twelve once more, looking for revenge. When I go fishing solo it gets personal. Just me and the fish. I tried focusing on chunk rock points in around 25-35 feet of water, throwing the drop shot and spoon. I was still failing to mark fish, and chose to make the run from the south end (I launch from Capell Cove) to the Putah Creek Road bridges in the north end. In the past I’ve been able to entice some nice bass to hit either a drop shot or senko on the fall, thrown up against the bridge pilings.

Surrounded by trout fisherman anchored up to the pilings and trolling under the bridge with down riggers, I began to attack the pilings, watching my line, waiting for it to stop. It never stopped. I marked fish on the bottom, 70 feet down, and began to slowly work my drop shot. Finally I got that familiar tick tick, and set the hook into what hardly qualified as a fight. A 4 inch bass in 70 feet of water? You’ve got to be kidding me. Definitely a testament to fishing with braided line, in being able to pick up such a light and deep bite.

After giving up on the bridge pilings and praying I had enough gas to make it back to the ramp, I made the run back to Capell Cove, not wanting to give up, but starting to get dark and cold fast. I idled by a few last rock points, keeping my eyes glued to the graph, and finally saw a solid school of fish stacked up in 45 feet of water. I downsized from a 6″ Roboworm in Morning Dawn color to a 4.5″ Roboworm in Prizm Shad color. First cast produced a decent smallmouth out of 46 feet of water. A few minutes later, I brought in an identical smallmouth. The key was to work the bait very slowly, giving it the slightest shake and pause. I headed back into the ramp with my hands finally smelling fishy, and content in knowing I had learned a little more about the fishery.

In Short: 2.5 Fish caught (does 4 inches count as a half?), 45 feet deep, using a 4.5″ Prizm Shad Roboworm with a 1/4 ounce drop shot weight, off a solid rock point.

Drop shot setup: Dobyns DX702SF, Shimano Stradic CI4, with 15lb Daiwa Samurai Braid/ 7lb Sunline leader.

You can find all these products at

Winter Cleaning

Annual maintenance of one’s reels is often overlooked by many anglers, for one reason or another. Some are intimidated by figuring out where to start and what to use. Others have messed up their reels too many times or simply don’t want to take the time. Whatever your reasons, take a deep breath, turn on some tunes and open up your reels, because come spring time you’re not going to want to deal with that coffe grinding sound and malfunctioning drag.

There are only a handfull of essentials one really needs to thoroughly clean a reel:

Oil: Use either the oil that came with your reel, or a versatile oil like Quantum’s Hot Sauce, which you can find at

Reel grease: I like Cal’s reel grease.
Rubbing Alcohol: (Isopropyl) and Qtips: To clean off dirt.
Reel tool: (to take off handle) or small screwdriver

I like to use a small muffin baking pan to keep the parts in order as I take them off the reel, so I don’t have to think about the order when I’m putting them back on or consult a schematic. It also insures you’re not losing your parts by simply lying them on a table. You can use one of the muffin molds to hold some rubbing alcohol for cleaning off dirt.