Gone Fishin’: Smallmouth bass on the rise
Lately I have been getting a number of questions regarding anglers catching smallmouth bass. Are they crazy?
What many anglers already know is that smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui Lacepede) already inhabit Truckee area waters. They were illegally introduced into Prosser and Stampede Reservoirs about 8 to 10 years ago. While the impact to local trout fishing in these two waters is unknown, it is considered likely that the smallmouth bass will have a real negative impact on the trout in both reservoirs.
As reports of anglers catching more and more smallmouth are becoming more frequent, it seems that they have gained a firm stronghold in these two fisheries. Fish in the 3- to 5-pound range have been reported this year. Not many of that size, but an abundance of fish in the 6- to 10-inch range have been reported by fly fishermen. The state record is a 9 pound, 1 ounce smallmouth caught in 1976 at Clair Engle Lake in Trinity County.
It will be very interesting to watch the progress of the smallmouth bass in these two reservoirs. A similar illegal plant of smallmouth into Shaver Lake near Fresno had serious ramifications. Its trout fishery was replaced by a lake overpopulated with small bass. This certainly is a possibility here as well. The stronger numbers and their relative size each year would tend to support this as a real possibility.
Smallmouth do provide an excellent amount of sport, particularly on a fly rod, but the threat to the trout fishery looms on the horizon. Prime areas for these fish in the two reservoirs are near rocky areas along the shore and points. The two best areas are along the dam faces at both of these reservoirs. Try stripping a streamer such as a woolly bugger if you are a fly fisherman and be prepared for some pretty good action. Smallmouth can also be found in the Truckee River in small numbers.
The consensus is that the fish in the river will not displace the trout. In waters such as Putah Creek near the town of Winters, smallmouth and trout have co-existed well for years. This should also be the case in the Truckee River. While I have discussed the problems that illegal introductions of fish can bring, events like the introduction of the smallmouth still occur with too much frequency.
People working at local tackle shops tell me all the time that they know that people are bringing up live minnows from other areas to fish for the species that we have in our waters. This, as I have mentioned before, is a huge problem since they have a tendency to release the remaining minnows in their buckets into the water that they are fishing. The minnows take hold and we have a real problem! The smallmouth bass are here so you might as well enjoy fishing for them. They are a tremendous gamefish, but in my humble opinion, do not belong in our waters.
This will certainly be an interesting story to follow in the coming years.
Boca – Boca has been fishing fair. The water level is very low. Anglers are still having success. Anglers near the dam are still catching fish. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boats that can still be launched are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing is good for those experienced anglers that can get a boat in the water. Fly fishermen near the inlet have experienced fair to good action early and late. Nymphs and streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught recently. When it calms down, midges are very productive.
Donner Lake – Fishing has been fair to good. Anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair to good success. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow-imitating lures have had fair success.
Lake Tahoe – Fishing has been good for mackinaw. Most fish are in the 5- to 7-pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair overall. The creeks opened this past weekend. Keep in mind that any large fish that you catch are most likely fish that have come out of the lake to spawn. Please release these fish. No fishing is also 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 has been fair to good. Most activity has been early and late with blood midges and callibaetis imitations. Most anglers are using 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 Quigley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams, and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.
Little Truckee River – (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – Fishing here has been fair in the stretch between Stampede and Boca. Fishing has been fair near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. Fly fishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca are experiencing frequent hatches where dry flies and emergers have been productive. Nymphs and streamers are still the first choice if there are no fish on the surface.
Prosser – Prosser has been fishing fair. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly fishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.
Stampede – Stampede is fair to good. Shore anglers are catching a few more fish. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Topliners have fair to good success for kokanee salmon. Most use a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Look for improvement as the weather warms. There is still good action, mostly subsurface, with nymphs such as the pheasant tail and the bird’s nest. There is some good surface activity early and late as well. Streamers are also working.
Truckee River – Fishing has been fair to good throughout the river. Seasoned anglers have been doing well. Prince nymphs, Bird’s nests and pheasant tail nymphs have produced some fish as well as streamers. Try an elk hair caddis, hares ear parachute or an E/C caddis. A grasshopper pattern can also work well. Fishing has hit the typical summer early morning or late evening peaks in activity throughout our local waters.
Other Waters – Jackson Meadows has been fishing fair. Davis and Frenchman lakes are fishing fair this past week. Typical summertime patterns are now occurring. Fish early and late to have the most success.
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On Feb. 4, athletes from Truckee and North Tahoe will walk into Beijing’s National stadium for the 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.