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Fishing options broad for weekend

Courtesy Keith KerriganThis 30.9-pound mackinaw was caught and released Sunday on Donner Lake. The fish hit an "A.C. Plug" kokanee pattern.
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This full moon should herald the major bass spawn in the north state. Bass are on the beds at upper-elevation lakes such as Stampede, Trinity and Almanor.

At lower-altitude waters, there should be a secondary bass spawn as a follow-up to the April full moon. Down on the Sacramento River there should be a major striper spawn also. Expect a lesser spawning cycle in the river with the June full moon.

This coming weekend is the Memorial Day holiday and there are many good options for anglers.



The best options will be in lakes. The recent warm weather has raised water levels in the Sierra rivers. The Carson and West Walker rivers on the east slope had major flow increases last week along with silt clouding the water.

The North Yuba is high. The flows are in the 2,000-cubic-feet-per-second range, which is better for rafting than for fishing. But the good news is that Salmon and Gold lakes, above Bassett’s Station, thawed out last week. There is still snow on the ground in shady spots but they are available to fish.



In the Truckee area, Keith Kerrigan of Sierra Guide Service has caught and released a number of mackinaw recently on Donner Lake.

The biggest were 27 and 30 pounds. You can see the photos at Mountain Hardware in Truckee. He spends the first part of his day fishing for big “macs” and then switches to kokanee. At Donner Lake the kokanee are 70 to 80 feet down and they are running about 11 inches.

The best kokanee bite in the Truckee area has been at Stampede. This past week the water surface temps have run up through the 50-degree range and even have broken into the low 60s. The kokanee bite has been hot. Serious kokanee anglers have reported high numbers hooked. These fish have soft mouths and a hook-up does not always translate to a fish in the box.

Kerrigan reports that the best bite has been between 18 and 35 feet, with some fish as deep as 52 feet. Keith has had the best results with orange lures. He caught fish on “Kokanee Bugs,” tube flies, spinners and hoochies all in orange. But a word of caution. A low pressure system is passing to the north on Wednesday with temperatures predicted to drop as much as 20 degrees. The falling barometer and cooler temps will likely slow the bite down. Expect the fish to change depth and color preference as the front moves through. Kokanee bite best under stable conditions.

The weather forecast is for possible showers in the high country over the weekend. This last week felt like summer but the calendar says spring.

The fishing has been good in the west-slope foothills as well. My son and I fished with Mike Pumphrey last week on Rollins Lake from 5 p.m. until dark. The water temp was 67 degrees and it was a warm, balmy evening.

We did well fishing for spots, smallmouth, trout and crappie. The bass were mostly on the small side. We worked rocky shorelines on the main lake for these. Back in the coves is where we caught the crappie. The best baits were 2.5-inch soft plastic minnow baits rigged on lightweight jig heads. The baits were in colors that mimic the pond smelt ” white, light gray and pearl.

We did better fishing with Mike because he knows where many of the submerged tree stumps and logs are. The structure is the key to finding crappie. Most of these hit in water that was 6 to 10 feet deep.

There was an insect hatch coming off the lake in the evening with trout breaking the surface during the last hour of light. We cast the soft plastics at them also.

At Lake Oroville the coho salmon bite is on. The most consistent reports are coming from anglers trolling 40 to 60 feet deep around the “green bridge.” These fish are now up to the 16-inch size and are excellent table fare. Look for the fishing to slow down with heavy boat traffic this weekend on most foothill lakes.

If you have yet to try the shad bite this year, Shanghai Bend is a good bet. The low flows on the Feather prevent the fish from moving above the rapids there. Consequently, they are stacked up below this obstruction.


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