On the Northeast side, in the main lake area of Berryessa are many small creeks, minute compared to the many creeks that run throughout the lake. With their small bays, the bass use these creeks to migrate into their feeding grounds. The bays may be on the average from 5ft to 8ft with the outside area between 12ft to 25ft, gradually tapering off into a flat area or bowl.
What I have frequently observed is anglers fishing the NE area too shallow, consequently catching only 10% of the potential bass in the area. I will explain in detail how to catch a much larger percentage of the bass that are present at the time you choose to fish.
When using a Depth Finder, look for irregularities on the bottom and grass beds. The grass beds in question are from low water conditions or from clear water conditions when the sun can penetrate down creating a growth. This is what I call a secondary grass line.
Once I have located the above described area I will parallel the main bank in 10 to 12ft of water looking for any kind of clumps of grass or a break line of 2ft. When I come to a creek channel I always check and see what the difference in depth is between the flat area and the center or side’s of the creek Two feet is fair, three feet is good, four feet is exceptional. At 3ft, I will definitely stop and fish it, looking for clumps of grass with my Depth Finder. I will further watch the Depth Finder as the water becomes deeper until it turn’s to a flat bottom with no sides.
There are only four rigs needed to fish NE Lake Berryessa. First, a Texas rig with a 10lb McCoy. Second, a Gary Yamamoto five inch Hula Grub on a 3/8 to 3/4oz football head. Third, a MoJo rig on 6lb McCoy with a swivel, using a 12inch leader at the end a No. 2/0 hook, dressed with a Gary Yamamoto twin tail grub. Your fourth rod should be setup for "rippin" with a Luckycraft Pointer SP Clown. My favorites are the Texas Rig 3/16oz brass with glass and the MoJo Rig. With these rigs you can cover all depths throughout a water column of 10-14ft and be confidently in full contact with your bait.
With the Texas rig, I shake with a Ivino SP-20 spade tail. This tells me how active the fish are. If I find the fishing slow and I know there are more fish there, I come back with a MoJo rig, dressed with a Black and Silver flake grub using a sweeping motion with my rod. The sweeping motion is subtle but steady, simulating a swimming shad, and then dying on the fall.
Both techniques are done at a depth of ten to twelve feet. If I find fish in this water column I then move in to shallower water with my "rippin" rod looking for feeding fish. Catching the 10% that are there, be alert for any detail such has a one feet breakline or a significant amount of grass that may hold a fish. Keep an eye on the depth of the boat compared to the depth where you had caught a fish. Positioning of the boat is often critical in shallow water conditions.
Once accomplishing this, move back out to 10-12ft of water and work below 12ft until you find the edge of the growth that was holding the fish, this can be as deep has 18ft. At 12 to18 feet, it is not unusual to be as far as 150 yards from shore. Below 12ft I use a Hula Grub "swimming" it along the edge of the grass line picking off aggressive fish that haven’t committed to moving in to actively feed. One of the key’s to catching fish in deeper water with a 3/4oz football head is that by "swimming" it, the bottom becomes stirred up, mimicking a crawdad attempting to get away.
When to fish the NE
When to fish the NE is darn near anytime of year with the exception of during a Northern front coming in from Alaska. Normally from Feb 15th all the way thru November you should be able to catch a limit or two of bass.
Some key condition’s to look for while fishing the NE corner of the lake. Wind, normally will blow from the North first thing in the morning causing a slow bite or movement of fish into feeding. The North wind will stop usually between 9-10am in the morning and the Northwest wind will start to come up for the rest of the day. This is the best time to venture into this area. Best bite is between 10am until 1pm in the afternoon. Don’t ask me why, it just is and I don’t question mother nature ha ha!!!!!!. Best bite is when you get that ripple on the water, thus, cutting the sunlight penetration down causing the fish to move up to feed or into feeding depending on the depth there in.
There are always other fishing patterns occurring around this lake, but this pattern will hold up under most weather conditions.
Remember to note the depth where you have caught fish and the position of the boat at that time. Usually you will find a group of fish in a 30yd area. You can very easily run out of the zone, so pay attention. A little secret known among the fishermen that know the NE corner well, is that if you are catching small fish or legal tournament fish and they just suddenly turn off, just wait 20 minute’s because the bigger fish are moving in.
Good Luck to ALL that try these techniques. Hope it helps!
Rich (Hookpoint) Thiel
Rich Thiel is a licensed and bonded guide on Lake Berryessa and the California Delta. If you're interested in more information on guide trips with Hookpoint, go to