The NorCal Trout Anglers Challenge (NTAC) tour kicked off the 2018 season on February 3 with superb fishing and unseasonably warm, sunny weather at San Pablo Reservoir, nestled in the green, rolling hills of El Sobrante in the East Bay.
It was quite a contrast with last year, when anglers braved cold, wet and windy conditions at the lake. Many anglers reported catching their limits of trout while using an array of offerings.
The event, presented by Gone Fishin’ Marine and sponsored by Angler’s Press and the Fish Sniffer magazine, drew 242 total participants. A total of 113 adults and 28 kids brought fish to the weigh in table.
“We are overwhelmed and very thankful for the support we have received from both our sponsoring partners and participants, and it is clear that this series is helping to bring individuals, families and youth together – in one place, to enjoy a great weekend of outdoor fun,” noted Vince Harris, president of Angler’s Press Outdoors, the promoting organization that created the NorCal Trout Angler’s Challenge Series, and has been its host for the past 5 years. “We are looking forward to another fantastic year.”
The fishing success anglers reported was a combination of prime water conditions and heavy rainbow trout plants. The lake is full and the water clarity is” awesome “at San Pablo, according to Marcella Shoemaker of the Rocky Mountain Recreation Company.
“We planted 8,000 pounds of rainbow trout in the lake for the February 2 opener and the February 3 NTAC tournament,” said Shoemaker.
Rain Bipat of Fairfield won first place in the adult division of the event by catching a 5.61 lb. rainbow while tossing out PowerBait.
“We rented a boat, drove to a spot and then fished bait,” he said. “My wife, Sunita, and I both landed our limits.”
Bipat, a newcomer to the NTAC, took home a beautiful first place trophy – as well as a nice cash prize to commemorate his efforts.
Ted Jocson, from Super Duper Outdoors on youtube.com, finished in second place with a rainbow weighing 5.05 pounds. He landed the huge fish while fishing a spinnerbait from his kayak.
Jerry Barksdale, a previous first place winner in the event, finished in third place with a beautiful 3.33 lb. rainbow.
“I caught that fish on a Mouse Tail,” said Barksdale. “The fishing was very good – I limited out.”
The fourth through tenth place winners were: (4) Dave Bixler, 2.63; (5) Hao Nguyen, 2.62; (6) Luis Cabrera, 2.58; (7) Benny Cazar, 2.23; (8) Jane Wenger, 2.22; (9) Erin Baldanzi, 2.11, and (10) Pete Mateo, 2.05.
Adrink Chernak won first place in the youth division of the tournament with a 2.14 lb. rainbow, while Lana Manaout placed second with a 2.5 lb. rainbow.
The third through tenth place winners in the youth division were (3) Owen Schaub, 1.9; (4) Karissa Ventosa, 1.74; (5) Crystal Nguyen, 1.71; (6) Brianna Gutierrez, 1.63; (7) Angel Blanco, 1.56; (8) Nathan Agtang, 1.53; (9) Ian Mahoney, 1.46; and (10) Mikayla Smith, 1.46.
Brett Chernak, weighed in a fish that only went .31 pounds. But he was not distraught, as his fish – small though it was, garnered him the events “smallest trout award” – presented by the event’s sponsoring partners – that consisted of a premium Daiwa rod/reel combo, Gamakatsu hooks, P-Line monofilament, and Rooster Tail brand lures, explained Vince Harris.
Craig Smith of Olivehurst won a Yakima Rooster Tail tackle pack and $100 in cash for catching his fish on a Rooster Tail spinner.
The NTAC series heads next to EBMUD’s Lake Pardee, located in the Mother Lode near Ione, on March 3.
San Pablo Reservoir is stocked regularly with rainbow trout in the fall, winter and spring and channel catfish during the summer. Largemouth and spotted bass, crappie, redear sunfish, bluegill and even a sleeper population of white sturgeon are available also.
The lake is best known for the trophy trout it has produced over the years. Stephen D. caught the lake record rainbow trout of 21 pounds, 12.8 ounces on April 18, 2001 while soaking chartreuse Power Bait off Oak Point.
While trout are the most popular species at San Pablo Reservoir, the lake also has good populations of channel catfish, spotted bass, largemouth bass and sunfish.
Most of the cats taken at San Pablo are in the 1-1/2 to 5 lb. range, but monster cats roam the lake’s waters. Mario Nova set the lake record with a 40 lb. 4 oz. catfish caught on June 18, 2016. He caught the fish on 6 lb. test and released it back into the lake.
That fish eclipsed the previous lake record set by Dave Edwards of Vallejo on March 23, 1995 when he nailed a 31 lb. 4.8 oz. channel catfish while using an anchovy off Oak Point
In recent years, the hard-fighting spotted bass has become more common in the catches at San Pablo, making the reservoir the only one in the Bay Area with a population of “spots.” The spotted bass lake record is 5 pounds, 9.36 ounces.
The reservoir’s big Florida-strain largemouths also make it a popular target of a hard-core group of big bass devotees. Anglers fish an array of methods, such as tossing spinnerbaits, split shotting with plastic worms, drop shotting with plastics and tossing out rainbow trout pattern swimbaits.
However, it was a trout angler, Victor Barfield, who caught the lake record 18 lb. 11.2 oz., largemouth on March 22, 2001 while fishing a nightcrawler and Power Bait in Scow Canyon.
Crappie, redear sunfish, and bluegill offer good fishing in the spring and summer for anglers using an array of small baits and lures. The redear sunfish record is 3 pounds, 6.4 ounces, while the lake crappie record stands at 3 pounds, 3.2 ounces
The lake also hosts a sleeper population of white sturgeon that are occasionally caught by anglers bait fishing for trout and catfish.
For example, Greg Peterson caught and released a 62-inch sturgeon on Power Bait and 4 lb. test line at the Pines on July 11, 2013. Carl Moyer and Dick Thomson also caught and released a 5-foot sturgeon while fishing by the boat ramp on September 2, 2016.
Nai Saephan of San Pablo landed the lake record diamondback of 105 pounds while soaking frozen shrimp on June 13, 2003.
San Pablo features 866 surface acres and 14 miles of shoreline that offers anglers their choice of fishing from boats, both private and rentals, or from shore. Since San Pablo is a drinking water reservoir, swimming, wading, and other body-contact activities are prohibited.
The San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area offers many exciting outdoor activities including fishing, boating, picnicking, kayaking and hiking. The reservoir is located off San Pablo Dam Road between Orinda and El Sobrante.
For more information, contact: Rocky Mountain Recreation Company, San Pablo Reservoir, 7301 San Pablo Dam Road, El Sobrante, Ca. 94803, 510-223-1661, http://www.rockymountainrec.com/lakes/san-pablo-reservoir.htm
For more information on the NorCal Trout Anglers Challenge, contact: www.anglerspress.com or call 916-768-0938.
San Pablo Lake Facts
General Information: San Pablo Dam has 866 surface acres and 14 miles of shoreline that offers anglers their choice of fishing from boats, both private or rentals, or from shore. This EBMUD reservoir is a drinking water supply and therefore no swimming or wading is allowed.
Recreation Area Facilities: Amenities at San Pablo include a well stocked bait and tackle shop, fish cleaning stations, a handicap fishing dock, a variety of boat rentals, picnic grounds, a children’s play area and the San Pablo Grill, serving cooked to order breakfast and lunch with a lake view.
Boating Regulations: There is an $8.00 daily boat launch fee for use of the six-lane ramp, a $4.00 daily float tube launch fee and a $4.00 car top/kayak launch fee. No 2-cycle engines, dry stack jet boats, water skies, personal watercraft (jet skis) or windsurfers are allowed. A 25 MPH speed limit is enforced. Electric motors only are allowed in the preserve area. All motor boats must be registered. The minimum width is 23-1/2 inches on all types of boats.
Vessel Inspections: The San Pablo Recreation Area boat launch is open seven days a week throughout the season. EBMUD’s boat inspection program includes two parts: a history survey, followed by a physical inspection. Boats that fail either the survey or the inspection cannot be legally launched in EBMUD reservoirs.
Hours: Open this year from February 4 through November 19. The main recreation building and marina open from sunrise to one half-hour before sunset.
2016 Fees and Permits: The vehicle entry fee all day is $7.00, the daily fishing access permit is $5.00 and the dog fee is $2.00.
Picnicking: Many first-come first-serve picnic sites are available with tables and barbecues. There is a children’s play area. One reservable group picnic site called The Oaks accommodates 50 to 200 people. For reservations, call (510) 223-1661.
Information: Rocky Mountain Recreation, San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area, 7301 San Pablo Dam Road, El Sobrante, CA 94803, Phone: (510) 223-1661, http://www.rockymountainrec.com/lakes/san-pablo-reservoir.htm