TV crew films Tahoe fishing charter adventure |

TV crew films Tahoe fishing charter adventure

Jeff Munson
Sun News Service
Ben Zupo / Sun News ServiceGene St. Dennis, left, of Blue Ribbon Fishing and Cory Tapia of the "Explore El Dorado" program fished for mackinaw earlier this month at Lake Tahoe.

LAKE TAHOE ” As El Dorado County’s largest visitor draw, Lake Tahoe is much more than skiing in winter, and its cool, sandy beaches in summer.

Tahoe also has a very unique fishing industry, with monster lake trout mackinaw pulled from great depths year ’round.

Just ask Cory Tapia, host of “Experience El Dorado,” a 12-part television series that will air on Sacramento TV stations, and at beginning in July. Tapia and his film crew fished the waters of Lake Tahoe earlier this month with Gene St. Dennis, owner and guide of South Shore’s Blue Ribbon Fishing.

Tapia will be the first to tell you that he’s no expert when it comes to catching fish. But he does know something about fish stories and how they come in all shapes and sizes, packaged nicely into myths and legends, plus or minus a few facts.

Separating fact from fiction, Tapia was indeed happy to catch himself a nice, but relatively small, 22-inch mackinaw, though he was hoping to lug a good 20 pounder out of Lake Tahoe, which he’s heard about so many times before.

“This fish, the mackinaw, really is the ‘great white’ of fresh water fish. They’re amazing. All you have to do is see the teeth on them to understand what I’m talking about,” said Tapia.

And so it goes that he will bring his fish tale in words and video to a large network television viewing audience as part of the “Experience El Dorado” show.

In the same vein as Huell Howser’s “California Gold” the award-winning public television program, “Experience El Dorado” will focus each episode on hidden treasures throughout the county, including those who try to catch the elusive mackinaw found at Lake Tahoe.

The program is supported in part by the El Dorado County Visitors Authority with the intent of promoting recreation and tourism here. Earlier this month, Tapia and his film crew were at Sierra-at-Tahoe resort to take in the sights, sounds and skis associated with the 14th annual Telegrass Festival.

“Experience El Dorado” is the brainchild of Emmy-award winning TV producer Todd Stanley, best known for his work on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” program. The show will be hosted by Tapia and Hollywood actor and local El Dorado County resident, Perry King.

Because there’s so much going on in El Dorado County and at Lake Tahoe, the idea is to tell stories about things to do here that maybe people don’t already know about, Tapia said.

“Who knew that the largest freshwater lake trout, the mackinaw, is found at Lake Tahoe, and people who know the fish well, know it is the cleanest and healthiest trout around,” Tapia said.

The lake trout mackinaw has more Omega 3 than a king salmon, added Gene St. Dennis who has fished Lake Tahoe since 1981, and established his charter a decade ago.

“Lake Tahoe is just big all around and because its big it demands big respect,” St. Dennis said. “Fishing Lake Tahoe is like an inland ocean; it is something like deep sea fishing Alaska with the mackinaw. It is a very large, pure lake and it has fish in it at very deep levels.”

The mackinaw was introduced to the lake in the 1890s and it remains Tahoe’s most dominant fish. The fish are usually caught somewhere between 180 to 200 feet down.

To have the “Experience El Dorado” team out on a boat to fish Lake Tahoe, TV viewers will have an opportunity to learn something about the lake that they may not have otherwise known.

“I like what they’re doing. It was and honor to see them work. It was a very professional crew,” St. Dennis said.

The pleasure is mutual, Tapia said of his fishing guide.

“Part of the experience that we’ll have on the show is the history of Lake Tahoe fishing. Gene has this great knowledge about the lake, the fish and the history of both,” he said. “When people see this show, our hope is that they want to come to Tahoe and fish for the ‘great white’ of the freshwater. Who knew you could find this big of a fish at Lake Tahoe?”

More about the show

Experience El Dorado will begin airing in July. For more information go to

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