Lake Berryessa is the largest lake in Napa County, California. This reservoir is formed by the Monticello Dam, which provides water and hydroelectricity to the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The lake was named for the first European settlers in the Berryessa Valley, José Jesús and Sexto "Sisto" Berrelleza (a Basque surname, Anglicized to Berreyesa then later respelled Berryessa), who were granted Rancho Las Putas in 1843. Prior to its inundation, the valley was an agricultural region, whose soils were considered among the finest in the country. The main town in the valley, Monticello, was abandoned in order to construct the reservoir. This abandonment was chronicled by the photographers Dorothea Lange and Pirkle Jones in their book Death of a Valley. Construction of Monticello Dam was begun in 1953, and the reservoir filled by 1963, creating what at the time was the second-largest reservoir in California after Shasta Lake. The lake is heavily used for recreational purposes and encompases over 20,000 acres (80 km˛) when full. The reservoir is approximately 15.5 miles (25 km) long, but only 3 miles (5 km) wide. It has approximately 165 miles (265 km) of shoreline. It has a seaplane landing area that is open to the public. One of the larger islands supported a small plane landing area, but was closed down in the early 1970s after the FAA issued a safety report. Fish species in Lake Berryessa include bluegill, brown trout, channel catfish, chinook salmon, green sunfish, kokanee, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, spotted bass, white catfish Sacramento squawfish and landlocked steelhead. The introduced species of carp, is also present and feeds on organic matter, water snails, bloodworm, fresh water mussels as well as their own eggs.
The koke bite has been hot but fish are still scattered, although starting to school up more and more onto structure. They are also starting to move deeper. Try a 5 1/2-inch RMT hyper plaid and Bahamas Mama dodgers, Apex spoons, Uncle Larry's spinners and RMT assassin spinners. For bass try a LV500 in Aurora Brown for smallmouth bass.
Heavy tournament traffic this past weekend produced several nice catches of all three bass species. With 50-degree water temperatures LuckyCraft ripbaits, LV500s, swimbaits, A-Rigs and a variety of jigs all produced nice fish in Putah and Pope creeks as well as Wragg Canyon.
Smallmouth bass are plentiful. Main body, rocky points on the north end are productive with Carolina rigs. Narrows and Portugeuse Cove also are good spots. Drop-shotting with shad imitations is productive. Some anglers are enjoying 30 fish days with a good mix of spotted bass. Target 17 to 25 deep. There are some largemouth being caught. A New Year's tournament was won with a 20-pound bag.
At last report, the lake level was up 2.5 feet since the big storm. Thanks to Peter Kilkus, the head man at Lake Berryessa News, for passing on this information. Expect this higher level to give bass a better place to spawn and hide.
The bass have been active. Fishing has been good. Bass range from small to 3 pounds. Fish the main lake points and main lake coves.
Most of the spawning is over. Males are still guarding beds, females are back to feeding. Try top water presentations in the morning.
Bass are in spawning stages right now. Look for fishing action to heat up as waters warm up. Try dartheaded worms, spinnerbaits, topwater, and ripbaits.
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