Gone Fishin’; Fish may not be jumping on opening day, but patience will pay off

Bruce Ajari

The general trout opener is Saturday, April 25.

Most streams and those lakes in our area not open year-round will be open from this Saturday through Nov. 15.

The Truckee River, Little Truckee and Martis Reservoir are the waters that will garner the most attention on the opener.

Each of these waters has been closed to fishing since last Nov. 15. A multitude of other smaller waters will open in addition to these main ones.

There are exceptions to season dates and bag limits; rules about size restrictions, gear requirements and outright closures. As always, consult your California Department of Fish and Game Regulations if you have any questions about any of the above.

Fishing hours are typically one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. The general bag limit remains at five trout per day, 10 in possession.

With another wet winter in the books, the outlook for the opener is mixed, but the outlook for the season looks great. There should be plenty of water in area lakes and streams.

What should we expect for the opener? Like always, the weather will dictate how the opener will fish. If it is warm and sunny or if it is raining, expect streams to be running high, cold, and roily.

You may get a shot at some clear water early in the morning if the nights are still cold. If the weather is cold and snowy or just plain cold, expect the streams to be running higher than normal, but clear and cold.

California Department of Fish and Game Senior Biologist, Chuck Knutson is anticipating that, “Fishing may not be as good as in a normal year because of the higher runoff expected as the snow pack melts.” He too, agrees that fishing later in the year, particularly the summer, should be good this year.

Knutson also indicated that the regional hatcheries of Department of Fish and Game continue to plant catchable-size trout in accessible waters for the opener.

He also says that the flow and temperature of the water remain critical elements and customarily hold the keys to success for anglers who will cast a line into one of the state’s waterways. During runoff periods, streams remain colder which tends to decrease trout activity.

Murkier waters are also common during these periods which make it difficult for trout to strike, added Knutson.

The DFG also indicates that our wet winter may restrict access to some waters and suggests that anglers may want to plan a trip later in the spring or early summer.

As we are all aware, opening day may not have the best fishing, the best condition, or the best access, but it is the first opportunity that many anglers will have to get out since the end of last season.

After a long winter that seems to want to hang on, nothing will stop fishermen from beating a path to their favorite opening day waters and wetting a line.

Opening conditions

So what about the conditions for the opener? The Truckee River flow has been cut to approximately 650 cubic feet per second. This is down from nearly 1,200 cfs a couple of weeks ago.

Federal Watermaster Gary Stone currently anticipates holding the release at this rate through the summer. This is subject to the weather. Many weather experts are predicting a wetter-than-average April and May.

This flow will make it very difficult to fish some stretches of the Truckee this year. Wading will be extremely precarious. At 350 cfs you can get pounded. At 650 it would be foolish to be too aggressive.

Keep in mind that this flow increases as you get streams coming into the Truckee. The 650 is really only from Tahoe City to just below River Ranch. It will increase from there.

A typical early season strategy is to fish the eddies when the water is high. Fish will seek shelter from the currents. Look for objects that break the current. If an angler keeps this in mind, he can increase his chance for success. Cover lots of water, but fish it deliberately.

Water temperatures will probably be in the mid 40s on opening day. What this means is that fish will not be chasing your offering as they may later in the season as the water warms. You will have to get your bait, lure or fly to them.

Do not get discouraged. Keep in mind that opening day almost always yields some of the largest trout of the entire season. You could be one of the lucky anglers that lands a real trophy.

Many anglers find opening day success is much better in the many lakes and reservoirs in our region. The numbers typically bear this out.

In a lake situation, the fisherman can find some very suitable conditions for the trout. There are shallow waters that warm faster, and springs that have a constant temperatures. These areas typically fish very well during opening day.

If you do not like crowds, opening day is certainly not for you. Wait a week or two for things to calm down a bit. If you do go out for the opener, plan to share it with some old friends and new ones because you won’t be alone.

Please do not forget to get that license and display it above your waist. I guarantee the wardens will be out for the opener. The fine is much more than the California resident annual license fee of $27.05. Keep in mind that if you are coming from out of the state, you must have a valid California license and display it above your waist.

A non-resident annual license will cost you $73.05. A 10-day non-resident license is $27.05, and a single day non-resident license will set you back $9.70.

For the latest conditions check in at one of the many local tackle suppliers in our area.

Enjoy the opener and the rest of what promises to be a very good season.

Sierra Fishing Report

Boca – (34,045 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair. Most anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are having success. The area near the dam is also fishing well. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Boaters are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Flyfishermen near the inlet should have fair to good action using a variety of nymphs, streamer and emergers.

Donner – Fishing has been fair. Most anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had some success. A few large fish have been reported. Nightcrawlers and PowerBait seem to be the ticket. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had fair to good action.

Lake Tahoe – Fishing has been good for mackinaw as long as the weather permits you to get out. Most fish are in the five to seven pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Other toplining and shore fishing is slow overall since the rainbows should be getting ready to spawn. Remember tributaries to Tahoe are closed to all fishing until July 1 and closes again on September 30. No fishing is allowed within 300 ft. of these tributaries.

Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may be bagged or possessed) Fishing should be good here for the opener. Most that fish this lake are fly fishermen. Early season anglers will be using a number of different flies. Most will use nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quiqley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams, and Griffith’s Knat can be good choices.

Little Truckee River – Fishing should be fair here for the opener. Fishing has been fair to good near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. Some hatches of blue wing olives, and stoneflies have been observed. Flyfishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca should concentrate on nymphs and streamers for the opener. Above the Highway 89 bridge the fishing conditions are more dependent on the runoff. Bait fishermen typically do better during the opener here.

Prosser – (11,162 ac. ft.) Prosser is filling and the result has been slow the fishing down. Those fishing here on the opener should try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Toplining using flashers and nightcrawlers can be productive. Some reports indicate that the ice was still breaking off as early as a week ago. Flyfishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.

Stampede – (202,524 ac. ft.) Stampede has been fishing fair to good. Most shore anglers are taking a few fish, some very nice size ones. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Heartly topliners that can get a boat into the lake for the kokanee salmon can have fair to good success. At last report the boat ramp was still inaccessible. This should really start to take off in the next week or so as the weather warms.

Truckee River – The Truckee River should fish fair. The release is at a high 650 cubic feet per second from the dam at Tahoe City. This means that some of the best fishing for the opener should be in the stretch between Tahoe City and River Ranch. Last year many anglers found some very large fish, probably moving downstream from Fanny Bridge. While flows were not as high as last year’s flood events, expect to see some of the same this season. Fishing in the rest of the river should also be fair. Remember the special regulation sections of the river that begin just below the Town of Truckee where Trout Creek flows into the Truckee. Consult your regulations for gear and bag restrictions. Typically, streamers and nymphs account for most of the fish on opening day in this section of the river.

Other Waters – Frenchman appears to be drawing the attention of most locals right now. Reports have been very mixed. Some anglers say it is good while other reliable sources indicate that it is slow. Pyramid Lake should be a good bet as well. Pyramid typically fishes well right into May. The lake has filled more again this season due to the good flows in the Truckee River. It has slowed a bit, but continues to provide very good fishing from shore or a boat. Remember a permit for fishing and boating, if you use a boat, is required from the Paiute Indians.

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